Live, Love, Create!

Ep 6 When You Self-Publish Out of Frustration

August 12, 2021 Stephanie Bourbon Episode 6
Live, Love, Create!
Ep 6 When You Self-Publish Out of Frustration
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Live, Love, Create!
Ep 6 When You Self-Publish Out of Frustration
Aug 12, 2021 Episode 6
Stephanie Bourbon

In this episode, I talk about the trap of self-publishing out of frustration.

 Many new writers turn to self-publishing because they are getting rejected a lot.

This happens to everyone but for many, they don't understand that they need to revise their book more.

 You can read the transcript for the full episode!

 Here are some things to help you.

The editing book mentioned is Self-Editing for Fiction Writers


How to crush your query letter CLICK HERE 

Please join my FREE FB group for female writers HERE

LET'S GET SOCIAL

TWITTER
INSTAGRAM
PINTEREST

Head over to my website for more about me and what I do HERE
https://www.stephaniebourbon.com/



Music from Uppbeat (free for Creators!):

https://uppbeat.io/t/hartzmann/clear-sky

License code: D2L28UQBZWZ6Z0TC




Support the show (https://www.buymeacoffee.com/LiveLoveCreate)

Show Notes Transcript

In this episode, I talk about the trap of self-publishing out of frustration.

 Many new writers turn to self-publishing because they are getting rejected a lot.

This happens to everyone but for many, they don't understand that they need to revise their book more.

 You can read the transcript for the full episode!

 Here are some things to help you.

The editing book mentioned is Self-Editing for Fiction Writers


How to crush your query letter CLICK HERE 

Please join my FREE FB group for female writers HERE

LET'S GET SOCIAL

TWITTER
INSTAGRAM
PINTEREST

Head over to my website for more about me and what I do HERE
https://www.stephaniebourbon.com/



Music from Uppbeat (free for Creators!):

https://uppbeat.io/t/hartzmann/clear-sky

License code: D2L28UQBZWZ6Z0TC




Support the show (https://www.buymeacoffee.com/LiveLoveCreate)

Hi, this is Stephanie Bourbon, and welcome back to the live love create podcast for female writers working in film, television, and fiction. This week, I am talking about self-publishing versus traditional publishing, and mistakes that a lot of writers make when they get frustrated over a rejection. Stephanie Bourbon and this is the live love creative podcast for female writers with a focus on fiction, screenwriting, and television writing come back every week for new episodes.


So this is going to be geared towards fiction novel writing, not television and film this week. But if you want to listen, it's probably great advice for you too, because I know that a lot of filmmakers also get really frustrated with things but you guys have a little bit more options where you can actually self produce things and then get your work up and then send it out. 

It's a little bit different with fiction writers self-publishing too soon can actually hurt people who are writing novels or aspiring novelists. So it's really strongly recommended that it's not done unless that is your goal is to be a self-published author.

 So one of the biggest mistakes I see as a coach for novelists is that they get frustrated because they've sent out their work too soon, which is just the honest truth, I'm just keeping it real here. They send out their work too soon, they don't know how to write a query letter or a proper synopsis. They are querying the wrong agents. 

And then they get a pile of rejections. And they're like, you know what stuff this, I'm just gonna go ahead and self publish. And then the book doesn't sell what it should unless they are a wizard marketing. For the most part, this usually costs them a lot of money, time, and frustration. And then the book doesn't sell, and they're nowhere. 

They're nowhere near where they want to be anyhow, which is traditionally published. And the truth is, if you self-publish, and have really, really bad sales, it can actually hurt you the next time around when you want to get an agent and be traditionally published. I'm not going to go into the ins and outs of self-publishing today, it's actually not my area of expertise, I can tell you that a million years ago, I did have a book I want to contest and it was self-published. And it was actually not a good experience. I was joking with some writer friends yesterday that maybe I should write a help book for writers and call it writing badly and publishing stupidly because I made every mistake that there is, which is why and how I know about these things.

 It wasn't that I was in a hurry, it was that I didn't know better. But what I am finding today, and I see this so often in these huge Facebook groups for writers, and even when I'm talking to potential clients is that these people who they don't know any better, so it's not their fault. And if it's you please understand, I am not slagging you, nobody knows this stuff until they do. But what happens is they write a first draft, and they want to get it published immediately, and they send it out, they get rejected. So they're like, I'm just gonna Self Publish. And that is a huge mistake. 

If you want to self-publish, you really need to make sure that that manuscript is perfect the same way that you do when you are looking to be traditionally published. Now, there is a difference between making sure that your book is ready to go out and spending years and years and years stuck in analysis paralysis as well. But that is for another podcast. For the purpose of this podcast, 

I just really want to tell you the things that I am seeing as a writing coach, that new writers are making these mistakes. The first one is really they are sending out their first draft. Even I have been contacted to work with writers on first drafts that aren't even ready to have a book coach. 

And I mean, I'm happy to work with brand new writers. But what happens is, once they finish that first draft, many writers believe that it's perfect, and you get a lot of No, I know this is great, and you're wrong, and you just didn't see it. And that is something that it's hard to coach somebody if they're in a place where they believe that their book is nearly perfect. And the only reason that they hired you is they really want you to tell they want me to tell them how great the book is. 

And also do line edits, which I am not a line or copy editor. I'm a developmental editor, editor, or story coach, which means I coach you on the story. Now, a lot of times I will work with writers from the beginning, which means they have an idea for a story and we go through their outline and to make sure their characters are going to work make sure it's a viable and marketable idea and that something different, that is actually before a first draft. And then I work with them to help them get their first drafts done. I don't mind working with writers who have written the first draft and come to me. But like I said, I get a lot of people's resistance, I guess it's resistance. And a lot of those people were like, well screw it, I'm just gonna Self Publish. 

Now on the other hand, I've worked with many writers who have revised their book 6,7,8,9 times, through workshops, through self-editing, using craft books, even potentially working with other coaches or editors sending to beta readers. But maybe they've started the novel in the wrong place. Or maybe their characters are still living on the surface, something is not working, and they're sending out query letters. And it could be the query letter to they're sending out query letters. And they're getting a lot of rejections. And the thing about rejections is they hurt. It doesn't matter who you are, how successful you've been in your career, how many books you've had published, if you've had screenplays optioned or produced, or you've written for television when you get a rejection, it hurts, that is a fact. So if you are in the face of 200, rejections, or 100, rejections, or 50 in a week, and especially if their form rejections, it makes you feel really bad. 

And so I definitely, definitely understand, well, I'm just going to self publish. But here is, I'm caution, you cautioning you not to do that, unless again, if your goal the whole time is to self publish, then I suggest you research self-publishing, you research marketing, and you learn how to do it properly. 

Because if you don't, you're going to end up just being frustrated, because sure you're gonna have a book out, but it's not gonna go anywhere. And the thing that's really disheartening to somebody like me, who helps writers, you know, through the process of their book, and also like, I'm somebody who coaches writers on pitching and querying and finding agents, because I actually really like pitching and querying, I think it's a great opportunity to talk about my story. So I love doing it. And I've been coaching writers with queries for many years now, is it's, it's hard. When somebody says, Well, I'm just going to self publish, and self-published authors make more money anyhow. And, you know, these things that just aren't true, you can make more money as a self-published author, because the truth is, your royalties are going to be higher, but your sales might be lower because no one is going to know that your book exists.

 Now, of course, the caveat to this would be if you are a wizard, social media, and you have this huge following. And there are people who have made tremendous amounts of money and a lot of success with their self-published novels, I spoke to an author, many, many years ago, I think it was around 2012. And she lived with her parents, and she sold like a million copies of her first book. And she told me that she spent 18 months and tons of money of her parents putting this book out into the world and marketing. And she was like, if I had to work full time, there's no way I could have done this. So self-publishing is hard. In itself, it's just a different kind of hard than traditionally publishing or going for traditionally published, going to be traditionally published, if that's your goal. So I'm going to give you some tips on how to be more successful at your traditional publishing goals. One of them, the first one is, make sure that you are not sending out your book too early. Again, do not sit on it for nine years. But make sure it's not in a super early draft unless you are extremely lucky. 

Or you've spent 18 months outlining this book, and you know, the characters inside and out and the feedback you're getting from everybody is that it's ready. And most likely, it's not going to be ready on your first draft, don't send out a first draft. What you need to do is have your first draft done. And then you need to do your big picture story revisions first. And that means going through and focusing on the characters and the story. I usually start with character, and I do character arcs, which means what is the character want, I answered these questions, you know, in-depth, and I make sure that it's clear the character wants, whatever it is, this is their goal, and then what is standing in their way, then there's going to be the inciting incident. 

And that's the thing that launches your story forward. And I always use this example of Harry Potter. in Harry Potter, the thing that launched him into a story is not going to Hogwarts, it's finding out that he's a wizard. So what you really want to do is make sure that you understand these story arcs. Now you can't just plot out a book and not go deep with your characters because then your book is going to be relying on the plot and that never works. And a lot of times when people do that, their stories also fall flat. So the two actually go hand in hand. So again, when I'm revising, I start with character. I may Make sure that their story arcs work, which means they have a definite beginning. They have an inciting incident. They have their new world, they have the middle, which is their recommitment scene or mere moment, they have their climax, or their crisis, I'm sorry, excuse me, they have their crisis, they have their AWS last moment, then they you know, they rise up and face whatever it is, which is the climax of the story.

 And then there's a resolution, and the character has gone through some change. Unless you are writing a, like a television series, your character needs to go through a change in the arc of the book. If you look at the Harry Potter series, at the end of every single book, Harry has changed, he's learned something about himself, he's learned more magic, he's learned more about his past, he has definitely grown as a character, you really want to make sure that your characters change. So it's important to follow those story arcs, especially when you're brand new, and you don't have guaranteed sales based on your name. I do this for every single main character in the book, which it's usually somewhere between four and six. Because even if I'm already in a multiple point of view is one of those characters is really driving the story and the other characters, even if it's from their point of view, or actually supporting the main character storyline, it's really important thing to remember, I will do another podcast about writing and multiple point of views very soon. But I'm just saying that I will do that for all the characters, including the antagonists, every single character on the page has a need and a want and a desire, then I'm going to give you a little bit of a pro-tip about your antagonists or villains. 

They believe that they're right. Most of the time, they believe that they're the good guys. If you look at like Avengers, and you look at Thanos, he thought he was saving the world doing what he was doing. I don't entirely understand that. But he believed that even in history with the most atrocious people in the world, they actually believe that they were doing what was right. So it's really important that your antagonists also have a story arc and grow somehow, even if you are writing a big epic fantasy, or science fiction and your antagonist literally dies at the end, it's important to make sure that those story arcs are there. 

The reason that we have story arcs is so the flow of the story is going in a way that makes the readers want to turn the page. I work with a lot of writers who say that it doesn't matter and that Oh, yeah, no, it doesn't. I don't I don't know what my character wants. She just, you know, she wants to like, I don't know, move to Paris or, or something like it's not a big one on the inside or outside. And that clearly is why the story is falling flat. Even in if you look at Hallmark movies, or lighter romantic comedies, which is really what I'm coaching the most these days, I'm focusing on that more. I actually really love these movies, they're feel-good movies, but they all have clear story arcs. Look at Hallmark Christmas movies, you have a female lead, she's usually successful, she usually lives in the city, she either wants a big promotion or maybe she wants a proposal from her fiance, she is usually too busy to go to the small town that she ends up having to go to for whatever reason. 

So then she ends up that's her inciting incident, something happens, she gets a call someone in her family has died, she needs to come sign paperwork, she has to go. Maybe she's going on vacation. And then the inciting incident is that there's a huge snowstorm and now she's stuck. But something launches her into the new world of the story, which is her being in this small town and dealing with it. It's these movies are all the same, but they're actually they're really strong. If you look at story arcs, so then she has to make a decision whether she's going to try to get back to her city life or she's going to deal with whatever problem she's dealing with in the small town.

 In most of these movies and stories, these women feel like they're going to solve whatever problem it is, and then they're going to go back to their life. And then through the change of the character they've evolved. And then they usually decide that they want that smaller town life. And they also usually always fall in love because it's the Hallmark movie. And that's the point of the movie. 

But even those movies have very strong character needs, wants goals, internal and external. And the better romantic comedies, the writer has gone deeper if you look at, you know, from the 1980s and 90s When Harry Met Sally and Sleepless in Seattle, and if you look at the early 2000s Legally Blonde, if you look at how to lose a guy and in 10 days, never been kissed. There's there are so many examples of movies like this that are romantic comedies, but we still continue to watch them over and over and over because the work was done on the characters. It's not because Meg Ryan was the star Sandra Bullock was the star of course if that helps that might bring people into the theater. 

But even you know, big actors sometimes do dud movies and it's because the writing isn't there. And so what the whole reason I'm telling you all this is because what happens is people writing these books are living on the surface, they haven't gone deep enough, they get rejected. And then they decide to self-publish, which I don't want you to do. So I'm trying to help you through the editing process. So you have your first draft, you go back in for revisions, 1,2,3.
 But at least in the first revision, you make sure you know why the characters are there, go back and do the work again, even if you outlined it, especially. Just do it. Even if people love your book, especially if you're sending to friends and family, they're always going to tell you that your book is great, because they don't want to hurt your feelings. And I know there's somebody listening, it's like, No, no, my husband or my mom is straight with me. They're not they know you. And the other thing is because they know you, they're probably filling in the blanks. I worked with a writer recently.
 And I there were a lot of things I didn't get, and I could tell that she was hurt about it, because she was like, it's so clear. And everybody who read it thought it was clear to and it's like, but I'm somebody brand new, who doesn't know you personally, and I didn't know your story, and I didn't get this. So it needs to be reworked as my suggestion. You know, as, as a coach, I can only suggest stuff to writers, they really have to decide what they're going to do to make their story stronger. So now you're in your first or second revision, you're working on character.

 Once you get your character work done, meaning, you know, the arcs you know, where the story's going, you know, their growth, go back in and look at your novel and make sure that's what's happening. What I like to do is print out the whole novel, divide it in half, and then divide it in half again. So then I have the quarter mark, and I can literally look at it and see has the character entered into a new world again, like Harry Potter, he goes to Hogwarts, it's very, very clear. If you look at Miss Congeniality, she enters that beauty contest. That's her new world is that now she's a contestant in a beauty contest. And that is happens at the quarter mark. And then I look at the 50% mark, and I check to see if my character is having a mere moment or what's called the recommitment scene, are they making a big decision on whether they're going to move forward in some change, or if they're going to stay stuck in their ways, I make sure that they have a massive crisis, which plunges them into their all is lost moment. And then I make sure that they rise to the occasion and they solve their own problem, they can get help from friends. 

Once again, Harry Potter, he gets help from his schoolmates. But he solves the problem, your main character has to be the author of their own destiny, they just have to, it's the only way to get through it properly, and give your readers a satisfying ending. Then the next step, the next step of revisions that I do, after I've done that, and I've gone back through and made sure that it's working is I won't go through chapter by chapter and make sure that the scenes are working. And I can do a whole nother talk on the scene level. But the short version is that every single thing that happens in your scenes needs to move the story forward, I go through, I make sure the scenes are working. Usually, at this point, I will save the novel in its own folder, and I will rewrite it from scratch. I'm not telling you to do that, because it's a lot of work. But when you rewrite from scratch, especially when you've gone back and done these steps, a lot of times you will leave out stuff that's not necessary. Because what happens especially when we have an early draft, we tend to repeat information a lot. And I'm not talking about telling versus showing, although I will do a podcast, again, specifically about telling and showing and what that actually means and how a lot of writers are misinterpreting that feedback. And that's why their story ends up getting the same notes over and over again. If you are a writer who is frustrated with revisions, I'm sorry with rejections. And revisions, you're frustrated with all of it. And you're thinking about self-publishing, or hybrid publishing, because you keep sending the story out and it keeps getting rejected. Please don't do that. That is not the reason to self-publish, if you want to self-publish, because that's your thing, especially right now in romance, self-publishing, romance is huge right now.

 If you want to do that, then please do it. It's not a bad thing to do. I'm not against self-publishing. But for the purpose of this podcast I'm talking about traditionally published are authors who want to be traditionally published, but get frustrated, and then self publish, I'm warning you that that is not the path to your happiness. I really want you to do the work. You can hire a book coach, I want you to know that it is not cheap. My last podcast was about what book coaches do. And you know if you need one or not, I strongly suggest that you work with somebody. I didn't work one on one with anyone for my novels for many years. And I now will always work with somebody on my novels because it really helps to get a fresh eye from somebody else. Even though I'm a professional writer, and I've been doing it for a long time. It still helps to get that second pair of eyes. And this is more than just getting beta readers. Beta readers are great, but it's not the same as somebody who is actually a story or developmental editor and coach, then, if you are self-publishing, I strongly recommend that you hire a line and copy editor because it is impossible to see in your own work. I know writers that will just run something through Grammarly or pro writing aid, and then they think it's fine. The problem with those is they will help but they also they don't understand, you know, dialogue is not going to be in perfect grammar.

 And there's many things that nuances to a story that a program cannot fix. So hire a line editor, or hire a, you know, a copy editor. And if you can't afford it, because again, it's also expensive, just get one, at least for the first 20 pages, because then they will show you the mistakes that you are making and how to fix them. And you can probably go through there's also really good books on self-editing your own work, I will put in the description in the show notes, not the description, I will put in the show notes, a link to a great self-editing book to help you with that. If your goal again is to be traditionally published, I want you to polish your query either get in a query-writing class with somebody, download PDFs, you can google query writing, there are many, many people like myself who coach it. Many people have courses Writer's Digest has courses that are affordable for it, learn how to write a query letter, I will post the link in the show notes for a PDF that I created about query letters, it is something that is an art and takes time to do your book might be perfect and not perfect, but it might be published ready to be published. And it still getting rejected because your query letter is just not there. 

And the same thing for synopsis, you have to take the time to learn how to write a proper one-page synopsis. And you have to take the time to learn how to write a query letter and pitch yourself. Now the last thing I'm going to say about this is you need to really research the agents who you're sending to do not just go Okay, this person represents women's fiction, I'm going to send her research her find out what kind of books she likes, find out if she's acquiring new writers find out if the stuff that's on her shelf is similar to what you wrote. It takes time. And again, many writers, they don't want to take the time to do this. I don't mass on the agents anymore. I've had four agents in the past, and they were all great agents, nothing against them. But we parted ways for whatever reasons. Just like when you come into your marriage, you have dated other people, it's not against them, it just didn't work out. But now I'm really, really picky. I research my agents, I follow them on blogs, I the ones I submit to I make sure that they and them, he or she and me is going to be a good fit before I even submit to them. And you might be thinking, well, Stephanie, that's lessening your chances. But it's more thoughtful on my part. And so I know if that agent calls me, then I'm only going to have a few questions for her or him before I agree to sign with them.

So I have been going on for 23 minutes. I hope this was helpful to you. I really, really don't want you to self-publish out of frustration. I see so many new writers doing it. Please know that that is a huge mistake. Take the time to revise your novel take the time to learn how to write a query letter and a synopsis and research agent and send it out there. I know it's hard to get traditionally published but trust me it does happen. I've been traditionally published, people are getting traditionally published all the time in the show notes. I will post some links for places that you can search for agents and I will be back next week. Thank you so much for listening and please support me down at the bottom there's a link you can buy me a coffee and support me because you know if you like this podcast I'd love for your support and I love coffee. Okay, cheers and happy writing.