Chins up! It makes me sad to see so many indie authors so down on themselves for no reason. I can say it until I’m purple in the face (because purple is cooler than blue) but I doubt anyone will listen. Regardless – a debut is not the same as a book two. A book one of a series is not the same as a book two of a series. Not all genres are created equal, and the list goes on.
I have authors who look at me as some success story. To me, this is laughable. While I have achieved my indie goals, I sure haven’t done the impossible. And I still have a long way to go to be where I want to be. Hell, there are days when I’m not even clear what my goals are. So to see brand new authors upset about small newsletters, inactive groups, low followings or coffee fund royalty checks is hard for me.
Writing, especially in indie, is NOT a sprint. It’s a marathon and not the kind you can run in a day. Five years of seven days a week with very few days off is what it took for me to get where I currently am. And in many ways, I’m two years behind where I should be and where I even was. Like in life, we move forward only to take steps back and that’s all okay! It’s all part of the journey.
Stephen King once said that if a person is paid actual money for actual words, they can consider themselves a successful and professional author. I can’t agree more. It’s not about the number on a royalty check. It’s about the fact that someone believed enough in your words to pay you for them. That matters.
If I could wish one thing for newer authors, it’s that they would stop obsessing over ranks and numbers. Those things come! Leave the math to publishers and people who wear suits to work. Let the art commence, stay consistent and disciplined and that math will work out too. It took me eight books to see tangible money. It took me twelve to see money I could use for real life bills. This takes time.
Trends come and go. What readers want and don’t want can change from one day to the next. Hell, even the platforms and their TOS rules change. That’s okay too. We are on a bumpy road and the best thing to do is let those bumps tickle our stomachs and do our best not to get car sick. Find mentors, peers, and others who have lived it and are willing to be honest about their own mistakes and curves in the road.
I am five years in and can tell you I have a long way to go. I suck at twitter. I can’t tweet to save my actual life. I also could not make a google doc if my children’s lives depended on it. I forget my own releases, I’m about as organized as a chimpanzee, and if it wasn’t for my PA, I doubt I’d even know my own deadlines. So, yeah – far from perfect and a long way to go.
New authors: Lose the egos. Engage with readers. Drop the pity parties too – or at least keep them off the feeds; it’s a horrible look. Understand that the right readers will find you. Know that once you gain an organic reader (not Grandma) they will stick with you. Don’t underestimate them – readers are pretty adventurous too if they see you have the right attitude. Most of all? BE YOU. There’s no use getting to know anyone or doing networking of any kind if you aren’t real about yourself and your brand. To me? One organic, true reader who you have touched is better than 30 buys from the relatives. One person whose world you have changed with your work? Better than any big royalty check to me.
Coming from one of the “flooders” of indie, I can tell you, there are times to slow down too. Stop and see how far you’ve come! Take a moment to celebrate the journey. This is an adventure and while it can’t always be fun (what road trip is?) readers want to see that side of you too. Take them with you.
Until next time, chin up, buttercups. We’re in this together.
What a CRAZY, wild ride!
Six years ago, I chewed my nails off waiting to hear from a traditional publisher on my first-ever novel submission. Never did I know what that simple ‘yes’ would mean for me and my writing journey. And frankly? I’m glad I didn’t. It would have terrified me. I wasn’t remotely ready for the crazy that was about to ensue and take over my world.
I was 40 years old and figured it was about time I get a lifetime of works out in the world. Having begun my first novel at age twenty-three, the flash drives and even dusty hard copies and ARCs were piling up. It was time to let readers see what I’d been up to. A year and five long months later, that book, Crazy Like Me, was released into the world by that same publisher. With the support of friends and a gigantic extended family, I felt fantastic about my debut release. Even priced at $7.99 ebook and $24 paperback (prices set by my publisher, not me) sales went well – most likely due to a large extended family and big high school class. In reality, I wasn’t tricked. Never did I think I’d be the next big thing. But that didn’t matter to me. By then, my two greatest life achievements were becoming grown men and decent, kind ones. Books? They were only so important. That is, I understood that my words were being purchased by people who wanted to support me more than read a book about a zany group and love-sick therapist. Goal one had been achieved: my words were in the world, being read or not. It was time for a new goal – organic readers.
Five years and 100 books later, it’s not lost on me that that book, of all I had coming, was the first. The word CRAZY became both me and my brand and the very thing that defines my journey in both indie and traditional publishing. Never would I have guessed that other than a few select people, my family would lose interest and that my new, stranger-to-me readers would become the bigger part of my story. But here we are. Somehow, I’ve managed to find those organic readers who have become a greater part of my story than many of the people in my real life. It’s fantastic how words can do that – bridge people who have never even met over shared experiences, interests, or even laughs. Words are powerful – capable of bridging, dividing, hurting, and healing.
From anthologies to short stories, novels and novellas, co writes and solos and even therapy journals, I’ve been crazy enough to try it all. With works and published words people in indie would never even know about, I’ve built a lifestyle around daily writing and taught myself the discipline it takes to always stay a year ahead with my writing – not as easy as it might seem from the outside and those who now watch me. As I typed ‘the end’ on my 100th work this week, I realized it was a check point for what I’d do next. Between earning my letters as a USA Today bestselling author and collecting my share of orange banners to releases that flopped so hard I might have been lucky to sell ten copies, I am now in that same strange place I was six years ago – nervously chewing my nails with what comes next.
With enough content to publish another hundred books in less than three years, I am aware of those who accuse me of flooding the market. With success comes haters as quickly as friends. That line is as long as my works list and I’m okay with that. The thing about this crazy journey is that it’s taught me 100 times more than I’d have ever asked of it. Clear on why Van Gough cut off his ear but also that feeling of self-satisfaction that comes with a title that makes a real-life difference, I’ve been there. The question now is, where do I go from here? And crazy enough? The answer is simple.
I currently have twenty or so edited, ready to go, titles sitting on a hard drive and/or already uploaded to my KDP accounts. Those releases will go out as planned. But for the next 100 titles, I have a new, even crazier plan. During my time in indie, I’ve helped as many people as I’ve pissed off. I’ve given countless hours to mentoring newer authors and helping them avoid exactly every mistake I’ve made in publishing. (Far more than 100 and I’m very transparent about them where I can be). Some have listened, most have not. But no different than my clients in my work as a therapist, most have grown and of all my personal achievements, that is probably the most satisfying.
In reality, I don’t have the ego or interest in chasing ranks or even defining myself as an author the way I probably should. To this day, I avoid talking about something I work at seventeen hours a day, seven days a week with people in my real life because writing, believe it or not, is not how I view myself. Instead, I still see myself as a therapist working to make some sort of difference in the world. Life is short and the world is a pretty dark place for many. My writing has put me in touch with readers who have reached out and shared their stories and my ability to give them a hand has been more important to me than sales. But that doesn’t mean I’m ready to put down the pen.
After a lot of thinking, I have come to a place where I know what I need to do next. I’m not going anywhere. For me, quitting would be crazier than all of this has been. And believe it or not, my sanity is, and has always been, quite fully intact. But now, with a clear and focused plan of new goals I am positive I can crush the way I did the last batch, it’s time for a new adventure. Be clear: I’m not going anywhere. I have a publishing house to run and authors who I view as family. But as for titles from Erin Lee? They will be few and far between. Other than the releases I already have in waiting, I have twelve WIPS to complete but won’t be adding more to my bucket list, things will be changing. As always, I fully intend to honor every deadline and contractual commitment I currently have. I am proud to say that in this five years, I’ve never left anyone hanging and don’t plan on starting now.
To my readers: Thank you for supporting me. Thank you for loving the words, understanding my messages and even corny sense of humor. We’ve come a long way together and you are so important to me. Without you, this would be pointless.
To the family members and IRL friends who still support me: Well, you’re my favorites too. Unlike friends, we can’t choose who we are related to and the fact that you have chosen to at least act interested means the world to me. Thank you.
To my Crazy Ink authors: I get that half of you view me as a monster who pushes and pulls for words. I know you don’t understand why I take deadlines and contracts as seriously as I do. But I can promise you that I do not ask of anyone anything I haven’t done myself and/or expect of myself. My journey has only further emphasized why these things are important and I can’t be sorry for that. For the other half, who I have watched grow and bloom? YOU are my heart. You are better than any USA Today letters or banners. You are what makes all the sleepless nights worth it. Thank you for trusting me to take you on a wild crazy train adventure! We have so much more to do!
To my outside CI author friends and mentors: Thank you for inspiring me, challenging me, and being there with solid advice and kindness. I hope I can give back to you what you have given me and wish you the best success in your writing careers. I have learned from you and laughed with you. I can’t say how much that means.
To me: You know what to do. Follow your gut and crush it like you always do.
Thank you to all who have ridden the crazy train with me during this wild, part one of the adventure. No, I haven’t lost it. I haven’t quit either – that word is not even in me. I’m just changing a few things and am so excited about where things are heading. Catch you at the next stop, friends. #HappyReading #HappyWriting #StayCrazy #100Books #AnnouncementsComing
Hop on the Crazy Train for PART TWO of my wild journey…
USA Today Bestselling Author Erin Lee, who also writes as EL George, is a dark fiction/reality author and therapist chasing a crazy dream one crazy story at a time. She is the author of Crazy Like Me, a novel published in 2015 by Savant Books and Publications, LLC, Wave to Papa, 2015, by Limitless Publishing, LLC and Nine Lives (2016). She’s also author of When I’m Dead, Greener, Something Blue, Freak and 99 Bottles. She also penned Losing Faith, a novella with Black Rose Writing. She is co-author of Black Rose’s The Morning After. She is also author of the “Diary of a Serial Killer Series” and “Lola, Party of Eight Series” formerly with Zombie Cupcake Press and now home with Crazy Ink, From Russia, Pretty Bones, Boned, The Ghosts who Raised Me, His Village, Seeds, Resurrection and From Russia, With Love. She is a co-author of the Moving On series, including bestselling The Ranch and Moving On and The Cabin. Other horror and upcoming titles include Pawn Takes All and The Haunt. Other recent titles include the co-write Bella Amore and the award-winning and bestselling six-book Circus Freak Series.
Lee is the founder of Crazy Ink Publishing, a multi genre publisher specializing in multi-genre anthologies for all kinds of crazy. Through this venture, she hopes to give readers and authors alike a taste of other realities and worlds so that they can escape into the words.
Lee holds a master’s degree in psychology and works with at-risk families and as a court appointed special advocate. When she isn’t busy dissecting the human experience, she enjoys escaping from reality through reading and spending time with her muses and canine freak show companions and therapy dogs – Thomas the Terrier and Milo Muse.
Follow the madness:
To learn more about Lee’s work, visit www.authorerinlee.com or www.crazyink.org or take a look at her Facebook author page by visiting www.facebook.com/gonecrazytalksoon.
To join her Facebook street team and fan club group, look for the Crazy Inklings group.
Warning: It’s a madhouse in there…
New & Upcoming Releases from @Crazy Ink
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The Possessed Series Book 2
Victoria is living a lie; hiding her pain behind sarcasm. But things change when a stranger darkens the door, stripping her of her defenses and laying her soul bare to his hungry gaze.
Damien Devain is on a mission to take out an entire family of shifters. But he hadn't counted on a sexy little blonde throwing a wrench in his plans.
While her blood calls to the vampire within, her body controls the man in a tug of war of wills he's powerless to win.
The Future Looks Foward
The Step Into Darkness Series Book 3
Justine Leonard is determined to hold her head high in the wake of all Dirk Martin did. When the weight of the world is thrust onto her shoulders again, she embraces it for the love of her family. Though her scars run deep, Dad always told her the future looks forward and that’s exactly what she’s fighting to do through the good and the bad, but will her determination be her undoing?
Off the Grid
Ryan and Diana Richie have a happy life in New York City, but their goal has always been to downsize and live off the grid in a tiny home.
Their plans arrive sooner than expected after a brutal attack on the subway that leaves Diana desperate to leave big city life behind. Selling off all they own, the couple invests in a tiny house and set off on a cross country road trip to their new home in Oregon.
Along the way, they stay in countless trailer parks, and highway rest stops, acclimating to life in their humble new abode.
When they reach their last stop before home, they stop in at a remote community, where they plan to live for a week.
The question now is whether they will make it out alive.
The Rain Came Down
This is no ordinary thunderstorm. It's the worst storm to hit the small town of Tamsin in a hundred years, and nothing like Wanda Graves has ever seen. It seems as if she, her brothers, and her friends are going to be trapped inside her aunt's house all night long.
At first, surviving the storm is only a matter of whiling away the hours, staving off boredom. But rain has a way of cleansing things that were once hidden. A dark secret is gradually uncovered as the night wears on. A secret that is just as dangerous as the raging storm outside.
The Broken Mirror Series
Erin Lee and MW Brown
Rest in peace?Not exactly. Not quite yet. For Zoe, it’s time to rest. She’s done with the living and has finally accepted death. But her living identical twin sends visitors to her afterlife maze again and again. With new visitors come new rules and more responsibilities. When a final visitor from the past appears, Zoe will need all her strength to face her greatest challenge yet. Amy wants to embrace her family life. But to do it, she must shatter her ties with her dead twin. Will the sisters finally be able to say goodbye and restore their broken pasts?Sometimes, the only way to heal is to reflect.
Since their unsolved murders in 1989, the Graveyard Girls have become local legends in Cobbly Nob. Tales of lies, deceit, ghostly apparitions, and mysterious gifts being left on their graves bring paranormal fans from all around to visit their haunting grounds. As the local “ghost girl” and resident of a now famous haunted Inn, Amber finds herself being pulled into the legend of the Graveyard Girls and the questions surrounding their deaths. Joined by her new friends, she embarks on yet another mystery in hopes of discovering the terrifying truth of what happened that fateful night. Will they unravel the secrets buried long ago or will they learn you should never play with dead girls?
Beyond the Beanstalk
A Crazy Ink Anthology
Magic comes in all shapes and forms. From enchanted beans to a charmed harp and a goose who lays golden eggs, the beloved story of Jack and his beanstalk has delighted children over generations; teaching them that happy endings can be achieved.
That is, if you can cast aside the giant…
Join a zany group of authors with imaginations as tall as Jack's beanstalk in this nod to English fairy tales. With supernatural spins on Jack's adventures, this collection promises a magical adventure.
I smell the blood of…
While Bella Slept
A Sleeping Beauty Retell
USA Today Bestselling Author Erin Lee
True love’s kiss.
It’s the only thing that can wake Bella from a dormant sleep so deep even doctors can’t explain.
Said to be crazy but fanatical about helping her slumbering daughter, ever-eccentric Sylvia will go to any length to bring a soulmate to Bella’s bed in hopes he can wake her. One by one, men leave the sterile hospital room as failures. Even Sylvia begins to believe there is no hope in ever speaking with her daughter again. Blaming their splintered mother/daughter relationship, Sylvia is ready to give up and stop believing in fairy tales at all.
Until one day when everything changes and Bella’s eyes flutter at the sound of a surprise visitor’s voice. But happy endings don’t come as easy in real life as they do in stories.
For Bella to wake up, Sylvia must rethink everything.
Can she love her daughter enough to fracture the curse of four generations?
Seadogs & Blackspots
By: Erin Lee
I can't help but chuckle, wishing I weren't outta whiskey and back to the rum. But years at sea, and even my time on Siren Island, has taught me you don't always get what ya yearn for. It ain't like I went there for decades-old scars on my neck and arms from a flesh-deprived Siren. Not like I knew she'd wind up being the only fortune I'd ever really find at sea or that my first bludgeon would be some long-of-tooth wanker called Eugene. Oh, the memories. Legends of things I'd never have had the nerve to dream even on that first journey to the New World. They hit me like waves by the tallest of shores. My Agata. Alexandria. And now, her son. Our legacy. The only treasures left I'll ever have any use for again. Agata: My heart. My soul. The kind of woman legacies are built upon. And now, even she's gone. Stolen from me to eternal sleep; ashes scattered at sea. Or is she?
By: Mila Waters
I thirsted for revenge. Left alone to die, I withered almost to nothing before making a deal. I was granted an eternity to exact my revenge, to feed my hunger which threatened to consume me.
He arrived with a hunger of his own. I was drawn to him like a moth to a flame. I wanted him like no other and my desires soon took control.
By: Tracy A. Ball
"There is always some question about the right thing. What is the right thing?… Doing what's wrong. There is no question. No second guessing. You don't even have to wonder."
Death is my mission. Deserving or not, my onus is to bring it. No one can stop me from wreaking havoc. Not my brothers, not the pirate's curse I carry, not the Sea Witch's bargain. Not even the sirens… Perhaps, the sirens…The one siren. When I saw Veronica, my bloodlust turned into lust of a different kind. But, all I can offer the beautiful seductress, all I can bring her, is death. It's who I am.
By: J. V. Stanley
I was still on the cliff overlooking the crashing waves of the ocean as it licked up the body I had just thrown over it. It was a little girl of around thirteen who had washed ashore and was the last of the sisters to perish. She had become sick with pneumonia, and as much as I wanted to care for her, she was already on her deathbed...
If I know anything about my family, it's that the only way to fit in was to join the family business. Stella, the infamous Gypsy Killer and her daughter Dreamer, forever known as Gypsy's Girl, are my Stepmother and Stepsister. While they were out having fun, I was left behind to clean up after them. Don't worry, I learned a thing or two. I had to, it was the only way to fit in. I learned more than they thought though. I was smarter than both of them. This girl, that was unwanted, can seduce and take whatever she wants. The best part though, when you are invisible, you get away with it. It is Hazel's turn to play. The law believes they have stopped it all but I am just getting started. Somebody else can clean up my mess. This princess is taking her throne.
A Paranormal Romance Novel
The Broken Halo Series Book 2
Adelay knows it’s a race against time to put a stop to the powerful werewolf before her cursed blood ends up the wrong hands, bringing her fairy tale to an end quicker than it began. As evil comes for her, her vampire soulmate, Davin, must rush to her side. But, will get there in time? Will Adelay chose true love or use her power to save another, even if it means losing her soul mate forever?
NEVER forget to celebrate the little things…
With NINETY titles to my name now, I began running out of bookshelf space well over a year ago. So what does a person do when the books are staking up and running a publishing company has all their free time sucked up? Well, the answer is simple.
It occurred to me that what I’ve lost in the madness of the indie world rat race is appreciating the tiny moments and celebrating the very big things I’ve managed to achieve. So, for the next few weeks, I’ve vowed to spend a little time with my books, rereading, meeting old friends, and even taking some cool pictures with and of them.
Join me on my photo journey down memory lane – something I plan to keep up with as I dust those covers off and find permanent homes for them.
Until next time, happy photo scrolling!
FRACTURED FAIRY TALES:
A SASS ANTHOLOGY
Designer: Wicked by Designs
Release Date: March 17, 2020
Benefiting Make-A-Wish Foundation
Once upon a time…Happily ever after…all of the fairytales we know and love begin and end the same, but what if they were altered? Fractured? Would the magic still happen? Does that happy ending still come at the stroke of midnight or with a kiss?
Join this group of SaSSy authors as they take you on a journey, weaving their own magic and putting a spin on the fairytales we all know and love to support Make-A-Wish Foundation.
** MAKE-A-WISH FOUNDATION creates life-changing wishes for children with a critical illness who have reached the age of 2½ and are younger than 18 at the time of referral.
**Anthology will only be available collectively in Ebook. Each story will be available individually from the author in paperback.
Add to Goodreads:
Preorder for 99 cents!
**Price will increase on release day.
All Others: http://bit.ly/FFTUniversal
LIST OF AUTHORS:
Lexi C Foss and Cora Kenborn
Morgan and Jennifer Locklear
Abigail Lee Justice
Ava Harper Kent
SaSS Facebook Page:
To get your tickets to SaSS 2020 (July 9-12),
Lip Services PR
After five years as an indie author (almost 100 books) and two in publishing (300 books), I’ve learned a thing or two about the community. Just like in life, there are the sunny spots and the darker ones. For newbies, it can all be pretty complicated. Here is a collection of lessons (I’ll continue to post as time permits) I’ve learned the hard way in indie by making exactly all the mistakes. A lot of my beliefs and take-aways are against popular opinion. That’s okay. This is just MY take on what I’ve learned and the stories behind the how and whys. You know what they say advice, everyone has some. But here is mine:
Anyway, there are a few thoughts for now. I’ll come back with more soon. Meantime? Happy writing! Remember – every lesson is a win. There are no mistakes – you either succeed or learn. #CarryOn #IndieHard
You put months into writing a novel or novella. Why not celebrate it? These days, I’m celebrating the books with 99 Bottles – each bottle representing one of my releases or series. Check out my bottle art here! Can you tell which bottle goes with which book? #CrazyInk #AmWriting #Multigenre #Books #ComingSoon because life? It’s too short for just one medium…
Join the madness
Follow my journey through the crazy world of indie publishing, writing and growing a business. Here, you'll find news on releases i am excited about, support for other authors through blog tours and blitzes because #Sharingiscaring and more!
Erin Lee, who also writes as EL George, is a USA Today Bestselling multi genre author unafraid to chase the madness. Author of more than 100 titles and creator of Crazy Ink Publishing, LLC, she'll try anything once and never turns down a dare.