Indie Authors

A Writer's Life

Shaky with apprehensions, poorer this year than the last,

existing in the place between

what will be and what has passed

 

it’s an author’s life for me

I have given the benefit of every doubt,

and during fevers of eloquence,

found myself electrified absolutely

by the lightning bolt of muse

 

this current flowing through me,

greater than any currency

it has given me friends that span oceans wide

there are no borders here, no blind pride

we are bound by our love of words,

and have found an all embracing tenderness

that shows us

there should be no other way.

 

~Eric Vance Walton~

Balancing The Books

  The life of an Indie writer can be filled with uncertainties, for most people the largest of these uncertainties pertains to income. As a writer, instead of receiving a regular paycheck your payday only comes when you sell what you’ve written.  Don’t let this dissuade you from following your dream.  The fact is there is no job that is completely safe in today’s economy. No matter what your profession, job security is now a fallacy. Even after you’ve worked for a company for years you can find one day without warning that your job has been outsourced.  Once we truly understand that risk is everywhere why not devote your time and energy to something you absolutely love?  If the financial challenges of becoming a full time writer are what’s holding you back from pursuing your dream, stop worrying and start planning.

 

For some people there’s an innate romance associated with a writer’s life but when you begin to think about it more practically it’s easy for trepidation to sink in. I know how scary it can be, I’ve been in the workforce since I was fifteen years old and receiving a regular paycheck for almost twenty five years. As I’m preparing to make the transition into becoming a full time writer I’ve done thorough research and have begun to retool my entire life to make the transition to becoming a fulltime writer less of a shock. You only have to stop thinking like an employee and start thinking like an entrepreneur.

 

Your odds of success as a full time writer will be much greater if you have a practical plan in place which includes concrete and realistic goals.  First off, it’s very easy to underestimate how much money you’ll need to support yourself with your writing but it can be done. I have a huge amount of respect for authors who have figured this out.

 

As I was looking at my budget  I decided the best way to start would be to determine how much money it would really take to make the transition into writing full time. I have always told myself that my magic number would be two year’s worth of my current salary.  If I could earn the equivalent of two year’s salary from my writing then I would feel comfortable putting in my notice at work and finally take the leap of faith that I’ve been fantasizing about for years. Of course, this amount needed to put your plan into action will differ for everyone based on your lifestyle and current finances. The first step is to determine your personal number.

 

To aid in your transition it helps to deeply examine your life and decide what can be eliminated from your monthly budget as well as how you can maximize the revenue from your writing. Unless you have a lot of cash saved or an alternate source of regular income it’s best to have a lean budget as you’re making the transition into writing full time, at least in the beginning. Frugality is your best friend during the transition into the writer’s life. This part came easily for me because I’m one of the few creative people I know of that are also very fiscally conservative. My parents love to tell the story of how when I was a young child I would save my allowance for months to buy a toy that I wanted only to decide the next day that I wanted the money back and I would return the toy to the store unopened.  

 

I guess it’s always really bothered me to hand over my hard earned cash on things that aren’t a good value or something that doesn’t add any real value to my life. I would much rather have money left at the end of the month to have wonderful life experiences like seeing new places and trying new restaurants than having my life cluttered with a bunch useless of things. When it comes to buying stuff I’ve rediscovered something our ancestors already practiced out of necessity, research everything you buy and purchase the best quality you can afford, it’s always less expensive in the long term. For example, it absolutely drove me crazy to spend twenty dollars on a pack of five disposable razor blades that lasted only a few months. Three years ago purchased a Merkur brand safety razor for $30 and a pack of 200 blades for $20. I’ve only gone through half of the box of blades in three years. This one purchase has saved me several hundreds of dollars so far.

 

As I was started striving to live my ideal writer’s life, the first thing to be eliminated from the household budget was satellite television. I was spending over one hundred dollars a month for this service and only watched a handful of channels. As an alternative, my wife and I discovered the digital TV antenna and AppleTV.  Now we get over twenty free local channels over the air from the antenna and more content than we can watch on NetFlix and Hulu for around sixteen dollars a month.  The content on these streaming services isn’t as current as cable or satellite television but it’s worked out just fine because we’re watching far less television and have more time for more important things. If we want to watch a more current film there’s always the option of renting DVDs from RedBox for under two dollars per movie.

 

If you really start to examine your life you’ll be amazed at the number of creative ways you can find to lower your expenses.  It’s just a matter of taking a look at your own personal situation and decide what you can live without. Some other suggestions to get you started are growing your own vegetables and canning for use later and shopping at thrift stores. I haven’t owned a new car for years but save thousands by buying cars that are still in great condition but just a couple of years old. I also bike to work when weather allows.  

 

Once you begin to analyze your situation ways to save money will become very apparent.  Ironically, you’ll find that most of the cuts you make to your budget will come along with the fringe benefits of simplifying your life, improving your health, enhancing your creativity, and giving you more free time to do things like read and write.

 

The English writer, Brian Aldiss said, “A writer should say to himself, not, How can I get more money?, but How can I reach more readers (without lowering standards)?”  It’s important not to let financial concerns slow the progress or stall the enthusiasm of your writing career.  As you grow your career your income typically will increase organically.

 

Even before you can make the full transition into your dream of writing full time it’s good practice to view your part time writing gig like the business that it is.  Before your writing can pay all of your living expenses the first step is to make your craft self sustaining.  By self sustaining I mean, try to support all the expenses associated with your writing with proceeds from your writing. When you try this you will realize that supporting writing expenses from only your writing proceeds sounds much easier than it is. If you don’t think outside of the box you may find yourself stuck in a cubicle.

 

I’ve found that launching a writing career takes a fair amount of two things, time and money. To make your work known to the world you must pay for things like marketing, professional editing, and travel to and from appearances just to name a few.  If you can get to the point in your career where your writing is paying for itself you will be that much closer to achieving the dream of making a living with your words.

 

Since income as a writer can be so sporadic it’s important focus on diversifying your revenue streams as much as you can to make the most from your writing.  Begin to think of different and creative ways your can market the same work.  For example, I publish collections of my poetry in book form but I also sell the poems individually, matted on parchment paper.  In doing this, I produce two different products and can profit twice from the same poems.  Additionally, I offer a service where I will collaborate with clients to create a completely original poem for a gift or special occasion and by doing so can use my talent as a poet for a third potential income opportunity and the best part is I love doing all of them.

 

As an indie author, you’re busy writing so it’s easy to overlook all the ways to profit from your work, and many writers often do.  The first, and most effective, thing to focus on is making it as easy as possible for readers to find you and buy your work. It’s important to have a page on your website or blog that list live links to where readers can purchase each of your published books.  Regularly post a link to this page, with an attention grabbing introduction on your social media sites.  It’s also imperative to choose the correct keywords on your pages so they show up in internet search results.

 

Whenever you have the opportunity to do personal appearances like book club meetings, readings or any event where you have the chance to make a face to face sale it’s important to have extra books on hand and provide your readers the option of purchasing these books easily with a credit card.  Companies like PayPal and Square offer reliable, easy to use, and compact credit card readers that plug right into your smartphone.  Buy one of these credit card readers and learn how to operate it.  Never be hesitant to wisely invest in yourself and in your career.  According to a recent survey of BankRate.com, fifty percent of Americans admit they carry less than $20 in cash, and nine percent say they don't carry cash at all. Giving your audience the ability to easily pay with a credit card is a simple way to improve your sales potential.

 

Another great way to add another source of revenue is to monetize your blog through pay per click ad programs such as Google’s Adsense. This service will embed ads in your blog that usually correlate, at least remotely, to products or services you’re writing about in your blog post. Once you sign up for these programs you will get paid each time a reader clicks on an ad. You can even download the free Adsense app to your mobile phone to manage your account on the go. You won’t generate much revenue at first, but it will grow as more readers begin visiting your blog. Although it’s not typical, Google reports that some users are making tens of thousands of dollars per month off this program. Whatever you make, every little bit helps.

 

I can’t stress this enough, just because you choose to pursue a writing career doesn’t mean you have to be a starving artist, it only requires you to think differently and have the discipline to stick to a budget.  Use your gift of creativity to discover new and different ways to get people to pay you for your work and be mindful of the money that you’re spending. If you accomplish this balance you will be well positioned to successfully support yourself with your words. More than ever before writers really do have control of their destinies. Utilize all of the tools at your disposal and you will soon see that reaching the goal of becoming a full time writer will feel every bit as amazing as you imagined it would be.

 

Here’s to your success!

~Eric Vance Walton, Author~

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More information on finding success as an indie author can be found in my book, One Word at a Time, Finding Your Way as an Indie Author. This book debuted at #7 on Amazon and currently has 19 reviews with an average of 4.9 stars.

 

PERFECTING OUR STORIES

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It’s astonishing is how fast it happened. One day I was young and then I blinked my eyes and somehow landed in the unchartered territory of my middle years.This June I turned the double quatro, forty-four years old, and have started to notice some interesting very things going on.

There are the well known physical changes of middle age, decreased muscle tone, laugh lines starting to form, higher forehead and gray hair. As we approach the autumn of our years, no matter how hard we try to hide it, our faces truly reveal the kind of lives we've lived.

The psychological changes are even more interesting. Before middle age I thought the repetition of stories was just something seniors did along with complaining about whippersnappers and eating dinner at three-thirty in the afternoon. I was wrong. Yes, my friends and I are now beginning to tell the same stories over and over again.

This could easily be attributed to some natural age-related cognitive decline, stress, or maybe the accumulative effects of too many beer bongs in the 80’s and 90’s but I don't think this is totally it. It’s as though we are retelling the stories that comprise the mosaic of who we are because a small part of us are afraid we’ll be forgotten. On some level we want our stories to be forever etched into the collective consciousness of humanity. We want our brief blip of existence on this planet to be remembered.

The middle years usher in wave after wave of profound realizations or “Oh $h!t” moments as I call them. I think Generation X, like every generation who came before us, are experiencing, “Oh $h!t” moments on an epic scale. I see it in mass media, social media and face-to-face, we are waking up to the fact that we’re not going to live forever. When you have an Oh $h!t moment it can’t be denied and isn't easily forgotten. It’s a realization that can be felt on a deep cellular level.

Because of this, Gen Xers are discovering how valuable time is and are figuring out how we can best spend the time we have left more wisely. I’m concerning myself much less about what others think of me or the balance of my investment portfolio. Lately, I’m focusing more on happiness, facing fears, and making awesome new memories. Most importantly, I’m thinking about how I will be remembered by those I leave behind. Lately, I’ve been making a conscious attempt to shed anything or anybody who doesn't bring a spark of joy to my life. Time is just too short to spend what you have left of it mired in drama and negativity.

I’ll admit this year I’ve given a lot of thought about my legacy. To get to the bottom of it I asked, what do I love greater than myself? After a little contemplation I decided that the legacy I wish to leave the world with will be small, often anonymous, acts of kindness and my words. I hope the many words I’ve written and the words I’ve yet to write will spark some joy in others. I hope my words make someone think, or smile, or even know that they’re not alone in this world. If my words accomplish this my life will have been complete.

Thinking about legacy can be uncomfortable. It can even border on morose but it doesn’t have to be that way. Contemplating and then consciously creating a legacy can provide an extra boost of octane to those of us in middle age who are beginning to feel a bit weary and worn around the edges. I tend think it as a little red button on the steering wheel of life that, once pressed, propels me through mires of the middle years, soreness, fatigue, and at times, the worry that my life will never quite measure up to the one I wished for in my dreams.

Time can teach, time can heal, and time eventually always reveals the truth...IF a person is awake enough to notice. Sometimes we simply must take a deep breath, have faith and take comfort that the universe is unfolding exactly as it was meant to. One thing's for certain, there’s no fighting age or time. There’s such a profound beauty in learning from our missteps, gathering wisdom, and surrendering to time gracefully.

I would like to leave you with a three things I’d like you to ask yourself. What do you love greater than yourself? What will be your legacy? How would you like the world remember you? When you answer these questions your life changes in some pretty amazing ways. What once seemed so important starts to seem trivial and some things that seemed trivial all of a sudden pretty damned important.

Shakespeare penned the following lines in his play, As You Like It nearly five hundred years ago,

“All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances, And one man in his time plays many parts, His acts being seven ages. At first, the infant, Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms. Then the whining schoolboy, with his satchel And shining morning face, creeping like snail Unwillingly to school. And then the lover, Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad Made to his mistress’ eyebrow. Then a soldier, Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard, Jealous in honor, sudden and quick in quarrel, Seeking the bubble reputation Even in the cannon’s mouth. And then the justice, In fair round belly with good capon lined, With eyes severe and beard of formal cut, Full of wise saws and modern instances; And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts Into the lean and slippered pantaloon, With spectacles on nose and pouch on side; His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide For his shrunk shank, and his big manly voice, Turning again toward childish treble, pipes And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all, That ends this strange eventful history, Is second childishness and mere oblivion, Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.”

Here the Bard sums life up with his typical genius. Yes, life can hard and it is short but it is also the most amazing ride. Not a minute of it should be taken for granted. We are put on this Earth to love, to learn, to grow, and perhaps to help make life a little easier for others. Each of us have the chance to leave our own unique stamp on the world. What will yours be?

~Eric Vance Walton~ ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Eric Vance Walton is a novelist, poet, aspiring world traveler, and tea junkie. He invites you to follow his unfolding story by "liking" his Facebook author page at https://www.facebook.com/EricVanceWaltonAuthor for updates and promotions on his current and upcoming projects. You can find Eric's new book One Word At A Time: Finding Your Way as an Indie Author, on Amazon in print or as an ebook. Article © 2015 Eric Vance Walton

TIME TRAVEL 1.0

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A few weeks ago I entered a contest sponsored by Garrison Keillor.  It was called, "Dear You" and the theme was to write a poem in the form of a letter to any living person. I wrote a letter to my 20 year old self.  Unfortunately, I didn't win BUT the act of writing it provided me with some great insights so it wasn't a total loss. Writing this letter was so helpful to me I challenge you to try writing a letter to your 20 year old self and see how much you learn from it.  It was such an amazing (and scary) thing to revisit who I was to realize how much I've grown and where I'd like to take my life from this point forward.

At the advice of James Altucher I'm also going to write a letter to my 106 year old self and will post it soon.

If you try this exercise and feel comfortable sharing it with us please post it on my page!  

Here's my entry:

Dear Twenty-year old Eric:

You are much stronger than you think and in the next twenty years the world will test that strength to the fullest. Life isn’t anything remotely as you imagine it to be now, it’s much tougher and more beautiful than you can know. Don’t believe anything you hear in the news, the history books, or from any government. Be gentle with yourself and others. Celebrate each success. Try not to judge. Everybody feels insecure inside, some people are just better at hiding it.  Don’t worry so much about what others think of you. Tell the truth, especially to yourself.

One day you will switch roles with your parents. Remember all of those times you made your parents worry?  Well, get ready, karma is coming for you. Enjoy each moment, right now it feels like you’ll live forever but time is incredibly short.  Never put your dreams on hold for anyone, you will resent them for it.  Success exists just outside your comfort zone. Cars are a huge waste of time and money. Spend your money on experiences. 

Pay attention to your pets, they are more intelligent than you think they are and have many lessons to teach you in their short lives. Nothing hurts as much as regret. Watch the sunrise at least once a year. Don’t worry so much about your credit score. Say yes to as many things that scare you as you can. Carry a Swiss army knife. Buy internet stock in 1997, sell internet stock before March 10, 2000. Mullets aren’t sexy. Some people aren’t meant to be your friends for life and that’s okay. You will write a novel. Have more fun, worry less about sleep. Buy quality stuff that can be repaired, expensive doesn’t always equate to quality. Net worth doesn’t equal self-worth. Travel and don’t be afraid to get lost.  Talk to strangers. You will get wiser. Really listen to people when they speak instead of thinking what you’ll say next. Dance every single chance you get. Don’t be in such a hurry to grow up. 

Be yourself, always. Do yoga at least three times per week. Don’t eat soy, it’ll give you man boobs. Meditate. Your heart will be broken, you will recover. Watch less television. Butter actually is good for you (I know it sounds crazy!) Learn to trust your instincts.  Although your forehead will be higher, you will not be completely bald by the time you’re forty. You will meet and marry the love of your life. Beagles are incredibly awesome dogs. Write every single day. Travel. Although you will never have biological children of your own will get to experience some of the joys of fatherhood with your stepson. It’s awesome.

I love you, I really do, but I’m so happy that I’m not you anymore, (signed) Forty-three year old Eric

FUN TICKETS

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I had a lot of misconceptions in my youth. One of them was that making money was the ultimate goal. I think dispelling this myth was one of my biggest lessons in this life. I started doing regular lawn jobs when I was eight so I always had a little stash of cash on hand. Once I saved for months for a set of walkie-talkies. All I could think about was how cool it would be to be able to talk to someone down the block, wirelessly.  This is commonplace now but in 1979 it was still like magic to an eight year old kid.

The thing I discovered is after a few times of using the walkie talkies is this wasn’t cool at all. They were a burden, you had to buy batteries, my friends fought over them. Really, what did eight year olds have to talk about on walkie-talkies anyway...Saturday morning cartoons? How good looking Daisy Duke was? I quickly discovered that this “thing” didn’t make me happy and I felt robbed.

Fast forward a few decades and I got the bright idea that I wanted to become a writer. I dreamed of having a bestseller and getting that huge advance that would change my life in an instant. I wanted to travel and live the glamorous life. I was an idiot. I worked and I worked for years but that day never came for me. The truth was I was still dreaming of and chasing money instead of it being about the love of the craft, connecting with, and helping others.

Only about seventeen years into my writing career did I change my attitude. Honestly, my spirit was broken by the struggles of this career, I was humbled, and had no ego left.  I found this little book called, Choose Yourself and read it on a flight to Cleveland. This is when it all changed for me. I started writing from a place of love instead of a place of greed and after a while I saw the world with new eyes.

Just yesterday I received the first batch of royalties for my first traditionally published book, One Word At A Time: Finding Your Way as an Indie Author. Although I was incredibly grateful, the experience felt weirdly anticlimactic. The positive feedback I’ve received from indie authors about how the book has helped them provided me with many more sparks of joy than the money.

I had a wise uncle who referred to money as, “fun tickets.”  Only now do I fully fathom what he meant. Money doesn’t buy happiness but what it can provide is a little independence and, yes, a little fun. The happiness you must create yourself.

The days of one book providing you enough “fun tickets” to live on are pretty much gone. Indie authors must hustle and use their ingenuity to dream up multiple revenue streams. Books, consulting, freelancing, speaking engagements.

I’m spending this dreary and cold weekend in a city far from home to visit bookstores and drum up some new readers. My life is far from glamorous but I'm beginning to catch a glimpse of real freedom and what a writer's life is like.

I’m here in a loud hotel lobby in downtown Chicago banging out this blog post. Tired, strung out from getting about four hours sleep the night before and waiting for the hotel staff to have the room ready so I can nap for an hour.

Reality is usually so much different from our dreams. Sometimes it’s even better. I’m writing the best I have in my whole life, I feel completely alive, and am full of hope. This, I couldn’t buy with all of the fun tickets in the world.

~Eric Vance Walton~

THE UPSIDE OF NEGATIVE BOOK REVIEWS

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I recently received a one star review on Amazon for my newest book on writing, One Word At A Time: Finding Your Way as an Indie Author. The review read, and I quote, “Sounded like a seventh grader put it together…” The reviewer then proceeded to make the accusation that I attempted to copy Anne Lamott’s iconic book on writing, “Bird by Bird” grinding the proverbial salt to the wound by saying, “He missed by a mile.”How do you even respond to that? The truth is you can’t and you don’t want to.  My emotional cycle played out like this…first comes a few seconds of anger, then a few minutes of shaken confidence, then about ten minutes of worry that it will have a negative effect on the book sales and then, finally, I shrugged it off and moved on.   Not only do you move you, you try to determine if there’s a kernel of constructive criticism that can make you better.   If the negative reviewer reveals something you can work on to make you a better writer they’ve done you a huge favor and you should thank them for their honesty. My big takeaway from this review is apparently not to write like a seventh grader. I’ll try to work on that. 

 Seriously, being an indie affords you countless opportunities to develop a thick skin but the great thing is almost every negative can be turned into a positive. According to James Altucher (whom I respect very deeply) we should strive for a Flesch-Kincaid readability score of three for truly effective writing. A FK score of three translates into third grade level so ideally I need to get to work at reducing this by four grades.  I've said it before, writing is not the profession for the timid or faint of heart. You must be like a gold miner panning for glimmers of shining truth in the river of life. The occasional bad review, can even give your book more legitimacy by showing that it’s not just a bunch of friends and relatives writing reviews for your work.  The truth is not everybody is going to connect with your writing. If you want to become a writer of the caliber that will leave a legacy and be remembered you will probably have as many haters as you have fans. When this happens I will know I’ve truly succeeded at my craft and in life.  ~Eric Vance Walton~

Just Before The Dawn

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I’ve been in this business longer than I care to think about. If I think too much about how many years of my life I’ve been pursuing the goal of becoming a full-time writer I sometimes get depressed. Up until just a couple of years ago I didn’t even have a real plan, I was only a dreamer and the dream didn’t have teeth. It’s good to dream but that’s only one element of what it takes to get you there. Recently just such a moment of depression descended on me. My sales had hit a plateau; there were no new opportunities to speak of. It only lasted a few hours but it was a gut wrenching feeling that this was as big as my dream would ever become. I feared my fifteen minutes were over. Then I remembered that I’d felt this a few times before and usually when I did a breakthrough was on the other side of that dark night. What I’ve found is the closer I get to achieving that next burst of exponential growth in my writing career the more seems to be working against me. I’ve learned from talking to others who are trying to achieve a dream similar to mine that this experience isn’t unique.

The challenges can crop up from a variety of places…the news, envious people, and, yes, even my own mind. All these challenges need to do to be successful in derailing you is to plant that seed of doubt and it will grow into a dream killing monster. But, you know what? None of that matters once your mind is made up and my mind was made up a couple of years ago. I am a writer. I will do this for a living while traveling the world with my wife, meeting new people, and experiencing different cultures.

The most effective way out and on to the next plateau begins with deciding to just focus solely on what you have control over. I know I have control over my mind. Most often I’ve learned getting out of this kind of slump requires a simple shift in mindset. Think about it, anything can seem difficult or even impossible if you’ve made your mind up that it is.

The secret is to make up your mind that your goal is attainable, not just attainable but easy to achieve. This isn’t fooling yourself, well maybe a little, but this Jedi-like mind trick fills you with such confidence and positive energy that I believe you attract opportunities and people that can help. The truth is most of us can’t do this alone and that’s okay. Build a team of helpers who are geniuses in their particular field (marketing, editing, etc.) You will be simply unstoppable with an army of experts behind you.

Whenever find yourself in a funk such as the one I just described ask yourself these three things:

1. What do I really want?

2. Why don’t I already have what I want?

3. What do I need to do to get what I want?

To answer these questions as honestly as you possibly can gives your dream teeth. In my case, my most limiting factor is always inside my own head. The mind is quite good at self-sabotage by peppering your inner dialogue with negative statements like, “This is going to be a real challenge” as well as countless other statements that begin with those two dreaded words, “I can’t…”. Negativity is pure poison and will keep you lost in delusion.

The truth is you CAN do this and if you want it badly enough YOU WILL. The other option is to find yourself right where you are in ten years from now doing the same things in the same way. Stay with me and we’ll build our dreams together. Create a strategy. When you make it through to your next day’s dawn I’ll be there to greet you. Maybe we can have a beer or a nice glass of cabernet at some quaint Parisian café and swap stories.

In just a few short days from ground zero I have renewed hope. I also have a few new and exciting irons in the fire. I can tell you from experience that what I speak of works and this sunrise, it’s such a beautiful thing.

I wish you the very best,

~Eric Vance Walton~

7 Secrets For Overcoming Writers Block

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Writer’s block is one of the most frustrating afflictions that a writer can suffer from. It can cause unparalleled stress from project delays, missed deadlines, it can even cause you to second guess your talent. It is safe to say that everyone has suffered from writer’s block at some point in their lives. Studies have shown that under extreme stress the human brain shifts control from the cerebral cortex to the limbic system, which is the part of the nervous system associated with...[Read More]

The Life of a Writer With a Full Time Job

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I fell madly in love with writing the day that I found I could move people with my words. In my younger days I was extremely quiet and shy and writing became an important emotional outlet. As early as I can remember there has been this aching inside of me, to tell a story. As the years have progressed this deep desire to tell a story has become a lifelong obsession to polish and perfect my craft. For almost two decades I’ve have been juggling a full time job while writing books, poetry and freelance articles. Although my goal has always been write full time, [continue reading]

Big Boy Pants

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I was feeling depressed and stuck a few days ago. After nearly twenty years my writing career underwent a quantum leap in growth in the previous two years and then began to sputter. I started to panic. Don't get me wrong, I am totally grateful for each and every step of my journey so far but working with others can be difficult and when our personal aspirations aren't met it's easy to become impatient and frustrated.

I had a shift in attitude this morning that was triggered by a comment from one of my loyal readers. This is a precise example of why it's so valuable for creative folks to communicate with one another. This particular interchange was Zen like and forced me to think about things from just a slightly different perspective. It was a reminder that it's up to no one but me to take ownership for my own success.

What was the magic question you ask? It was a simple question but one that when deeply contemplated was absolutely transformative. It's something that I challenge all of you indie authors to answer yourselves. If it were totally up to you what would you do to promote your books? Think about it, if you had to rely on no one else and the one person on Earth responsible for you achieving your goals was you, what action would you take? The secret is this is absolutely true...ultimately we're all responsible for our own successes.

This writer's life is really a difficult path, it's one of the most difficult professions on Earth to make a living at, and it's so easy to get discouraged. The truth is the very minute you think you have to fully rely on someone else for your success you instantly diminish your power. Although literary agents, publishers and the media can play an important role in your success, your fate never has been and never will be dictated by them. Your savior is yourself. If you keep remembering that, no matter what, no one else is responsible for your success but you, your power and confidence will grow exponentially.

I've learned from the James Altucher show that podcast guest appearances are the best book promotions available today. Author after author has confirmed this. So today I'm going to begin researching and contacting the hosts of the top writer-focused podcasts to give my pitch and ask to be a guest. If nothing else this will give me some experience and help foster new connections that I can draw on. I will also begin to learn more about the industry incase I want to host my own podcast at some point in the future. It's time to put on the big boy pants. The sky is truly the limit, I'll make sure of it.

~Eric Vance Walton~

We Are Worthy

I laughed at the comic below and then almost immediately it reminded me of how unbalanced our society is. When is the last time a song, a poem, a film, or a piece of art moved you? It happens to me almost on a weekly basis. The truth is these creative treasures have the power to impact you so deeply they can actually change you. We live in a world rich with life-altering creative treasures, many of them are accessible for free 24/7 from any mobile device. The unfortunate thing is a staggeringly small percentage of the creative geniuses who create these great gifts ever reap the benefits of their valuable service to humanity. Creatives infuse our world with beauty, positive energy, they shake us from our apathy and challenge us to think. How valuable is this? More importantly, how do you put a price on it?

This, is the hard part for us creatives. Our creative fruits...art, literature, poetry are all subjective, what truly impacts one person might seem like crap to another. To add even more complexity, you must make a reasonable name for yourself before most people are willing to spend a dime on your work. The truth is it can't be done overnight but it can be done. I am proof.

First you must give yourself permission to be an artist or writer. You must also give yourself permission to ask people to pay a reasonable price for your work. If you work hard and create a quality product that sparks an emotional connection with others you deserve to be compensated...don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Yes, you will have to give some content away for free at first but you shouldn't do this for long. Keep honing your skills, continue to build your confidence, become a marketing ninja!

By the same token, if you encounter another creative person whose work moves you and you are in the position to do so, buy it. Become a patron. This is the greatest gift you can give someone who is struggling. It's not just about the money but more about the validation of their talent. That item you buy could be the first sale they've had in a week or a month and it will give them the hope they need to keep pursuing their dreams. I know, I've been there, too many of us have. The age of the starving artist must come to an end. In reality we are all just one big creative family and it all begins with us.

Eric Vance Walton is a novelist, poet, aspiring world traveler, and tea junkie. He invites you to follow his unfolding story by "liking" his Facebook author page at https://www.facebook.com/EricVanceWaltonAuthor for updates and promotions on his current and upcoming projects. You can find Eric's new book One Word At A Time: Finding Your Way as an Indie Author, on Amazon in print or as an ebook.

Article © 2014 Eric Vance Walton

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Great Reviews for One Word At A Time: Finding Your Way as an Indie Author!

I couldn't be more thrilled by the reception of my new book One Word At A Time: Finding Your Way as an Indie Author! I've received so many kind words from those who've read it, I appreciate this more than you know. The book now has SEVEN Amazon reviews with an average of 4.5 stars! If you've read the book I'd like to hear what you think and, please, whether you liked it or not please write an Amazon review!

If you haven't read One Word At A Time yet and would like to Amazon has discounted the paperback (it's also available as an eBook in the Kindle store).

Thank you!

One Word At A Time: Finding Your Way as an Indie Author

What Are Your Writing Goals for 2015?

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What an exciting, exhausting, and utterly amazing year it's been! My new book One Word At A Time recently charted at #7 in the Amazon Kindle store, something I never imagined would have been possible a year ago. I want to thank you all for your friendship and support in 2014! The calendar is about to turn once again so it's time to ask...WHAT ARE YOUR WRITING GOALS FOR 2015? Mine will be to write and publish my second novel Truth Is Stranger and continue to find new ways to market my existing books. Above all I will continue to explore and to cultivate what I refer to as, The Writer's Life.

As writers, we are so incredibly lucky to live in this time. We must utilize every advantage technology offers us! I invite you to use these final few days of this year to chart your course to success for 2015. Best of luck to you all in the coming year. If I can do this, so can you. Carpe Diem!

About the author: Eric Vance Walton is a novelist, poet, aspiring world traveler, and tea junkie. You can find many practical tips learned through Eric's twenty year career in his new book One Word At A Time: Finding Your Way as an Indie Author, on Amazon in print or as an ebook. He invites you to follow his unfolding story by “liking” his Facebook author page at https://www.facebook.com/EricVanceWaltonAuthor for updates and promotions on his current and upcoming projects.

Article © 2014 Eric Vance Walton

The 6 Most Challenging Things About Being An Indie Author

People ask me all the time...what are the most difficult things about being a writer? My first reaction is, “Where do I start?”  Seriously, the list of challenges is long but if I had to choose my top six, they would be as follows: 1. Having trust, confidence, and patience. When you only have twenty readers on your Facebook page and a half completed manuscript that you haven’t been able to touch in weeks sometimes your future as a writer seems bleak. I know, I’ve been there. I can tell you with full honesty if you possess trust, confidence, and patience you can make it as a writer. Talented writers are plentiful and the skill of writing isn’t some kind of magic that you have to be born with but is powerful magic that can be learned. Anyone can learn to write well. After you’ve mastered the craft what will set you apart is trust in your abilities, the confidence to keep learning/evolving, and the patience that your day will one day come. Do whatever it takes to cultivate these three attributes. I think many writers give up just shy of their big break. Even if the big break never comes the positive things that writing attracts into your life will be a handsome reward that enrich your life tremendously.

2. Finding quiet time to write. This can be as difficult as juggling chainsaws while wearing woolen mittens. Since it’s such a challenge to make a living at writing you must find an alternative means to pay the bills until you’ve established yourself. Having to work the equivalent of 1.5 (or more) jobs forces you to efficiently utilize every single moment of your day if you wish to get anything done. A smartphone helps tremendously by allowing you to record important ideas the moment they strike during short spans of quiet throughout your day.  A mobile phone is also gives you the freedom to freshen your social media accounts on the run. To purposely carve out larger blocks of time it’s best to have a designated area to write that assures you peace and quiet. It seems like the moment you turn on your computer and the writing really begins to flow you become the center of attention of everyone (including animals) within a five mile radius. People who aren’t creative don’t understand the creative process, they just don’t. It’s your job to educate them about the importance of your quiet time.  Make it your goal to find your own time for peace and quiet so you can do your thing.

3. Promoting your work online with a small budget. For the first few years of its existence social media was the last missing piece of the puzzle that made indie publishing work.  At last indie authors were able to get their work in front of enormous amounts of people for little to no cost. Although social media can still be an effective way to promote if used correctly it’s not as easy to grow the size of your readership as it once was. In the last eighteen months Facebook has begun severely limiting the outreach of posts from business pages. What’s worse is your outreach is most limited most during peak times on weekends when more of your readers are logged on. Facebook has adopted this practice to encourage page owners to “boost” their posts for a fee. In my experience, boosting posts is a bad investment, boosting has never translated into a sizable amount of sales. There are a couple of ways to expand your Facebook outreach for free during peak times, regularly remind your readers to "like" and "share" your posts with their friends and link your Facebook author page to your Twitter feed. Also, create a blog, post to it several times per week, and encourage readers to subscribe to your blog. It’s important to remember to enable the widget that allows your readers to enter their email address to subscribe to your blog. Once they sign up your subscribers get your posts delivered directly into their email box where they’re most likely to be read. A subscriber list is still the best way to scale your network of readers at no cost.

4. Establishing a reputation as a “real” writer. The market is flooded with indie authors and you must be able to get yourself noticed amongst the babel of millions of voices. You accomplish this in three ways, writing what you know, never undervaluing your work, and genuinely valuing your readers. In a way you must also play the role of the best-selling author you wish to become and, trust me, you will naturally grow into it. This doesn’t mean you should project a false perception of yourself or your work but you must learn to present yourself professionally both online and in person. You must become your own best spokesperson. When someone asks what you do proudly tell them, “I’m a writer!”  Go ahead say it out loud, it feels amazing doesn’t it?  Above all else you must always do right by your readers by consistently exceeding their expectations when it comes to content. Work hard to give your audience quality content, something of value that makes them laugh or makes them think and in time you will build a loyal fan base. Be generous in any way you can and those acts of generosity will come back to you tenfold.

5. Generating sales. To make a living at this you must sell books and the only way to sell a lot of books requires you to grow your network of readers. At first concentrate on offering lots of free quality content on a consistent basis through blog and social media posts. This is an investment in your future as a writer. Remember to offer the reader something that will truly engage and benefit them in some way. Write in a voice that makes your audience feel like you’re speaking to them personally.  This forges an important bond that will earn enough trust that people are willing to spend their hard earned money on your work. Also, you must become a promotional idea generating machine, constantly coming up with new ways to sell your work. I keep an idea log in the Notes app on my iPhone and try to come up with a few new ideas every day.  Don’t be afraid to test your ideas in the real world. If an idea works, simply take note and repeat it. If an idea flops, tweak it slightly or try something altogether different.

6. If you’ve done your job some people will assume you're wealthy (and in reality they’re correct). Yes I know, if you’re a writer, this sounds absurd. If you’ve presented yourself professionally online and in person you will project success. There are many folks who think that if you’ve published books and promoted them well that you’re already living the glamorous life of a best-selling author. The good news is, if you keep at it there is always the chance you will eventually achieve whatever goals you have for your writing career. For this dream to be realized it’s imperative that you be madly in love that act of writing itself. You must make up your mind that you will write even if you don’t receive a dime for it.  From day one of your writing career there’s great wealth to be gained but it is a wealth other than the financial variety. The immense feeling of content that comes with writing a really good piece of work has sustained me through the darkest of days. Connecting with and receiving feedback from my readers has lifted me to new heights even when times are good. Contentment is a kind of currency that is sheltered in even the worst of economic downturns and will leave you with a life that is rich beyond measure.

About the author: Eric Vance Walton is a novelist, poet, aspiring world traveler, and tea junkie. You can find many more practical tips on writing in Eric's new book One Word At A Time: Finding Your Way as an Indie Author, on Amazon in print or as an ebook. He invites you to follow his unfolding story by "liking" his Facebook author page at https://www.facebook.com/EricVanceWaltonAuthor for updates and promotions on his current and upcoming projects.

Article © 2014 Eric Vance Walton

A Note From My Publisher

I’m writing for a simple reason. I want to bribe you to buy the book "One Word at a Time" by Eric Vance Walton. Why am I doing this? Because I believe in this book.

If you want to be a writer, a real writer, this book is for you. It’s not about fame or money. (Even though the book will help you get those things.) It’s about building a life as a writer.

If you buy the "One Word at a Time" before Saturday, I will give you 3 eBooks that we’ve previously published as a bonus. The bonus eBooks are not available anywhere else. The only way to get these books is to buy "One Word at a Time."

The bonus books are: “Submit Publish Repeat,” "How to Market Your Novel on Facebook," and "Your Book, Published!"

If you want to live the life of a writer, please buy "One Word at a Time." Right now.

Buy Now (Print Edition): http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1942344007/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=1942344007&linkCode=as2&tag=bopto-20&linkId=XTPWRF3AMLIQQ2KQ

Buy Now (Kindle Edition): http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00P06KTM8/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00P06KTM8&linkCode=as2&tag=bopto-20&linkId=WFPSUVT6IDU5WDG7

Sincerely,

Jacob Jans Editor Authors Publish

PS: Once you buy One Word at a Time, you can access your bonus content here: http://www.authorspublish.com/press/?p=28

In This Business Of Writing, One Opportunity Leads to Another

I'm excited to share my newest article with Freelance Writing magazine! Consider freelancing and see your opportunities as a writer grow exponentially. CLICK HERE to read the article.