A Message to All “Aspiring” Creative People

If you’ve ever seen an interview with a creative person that has a Q&A session at the end, there’s usually a person who asks a question like this: “I’m an aspiring author.  What advice would you give to someone like me?” If I were the person being asked this question, my response would be: “Are you currently writing?”  If they answered yes, then I would reply: “Then you’re not aspiring to be a writer, you ARE a writer.”  Seems simple enough.

And it really is.

According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of ASPIRE is “to seek to attain or accomplish a particular goal,” which means that if you are writing in any capacity in the genre or medium you desire to write in, you are no longer aspiring to do so.  Now, if you aspire to be a published author, or aspire to have one of your screenplays produced, that’s a different thing entirely.

And that’s where setting goals comes into play.  

We are living in a golden age of independent media content production.  No longer do we have to sit idly by and merely hope to have something published or produced.  We can do it ourselves!  Podcasts, self-publishing, blogs, YouTube, Vimeo, and dozens of other outlets allow creative types like us to make our dreams a reality without having to wade through rejection letters, unreturned phone calls, and the dreaded silent “no.”  

Don’t just ASPIRE to do it.  Do it! You want to get your book out there? There are ways to make it happen on your own.  Want to be on the radio?  Do a podcast and get it out there for others to listen to and enjoy.  Like writing and directing films?  YouTube can give you a platform and an audience without having to spend hundreds-of-millions-of-dollars.  

Every person reading this needs to know that we have the power to not just ASPIRE to do things. No, we can do them and then INSPIRE others to get their creativity out for the world to see.  

In a world that can be so mired in cynicism and negativity, it’s time for all creative people to bring their positivity and influence out in the open to help make the world a better place.

Let’s all move beyond aspiring to inspiring and motivate yourself and others to be agents of positive creativity!

Leave a comment below and let me know what you think!

The Field – From Word Doc to Paperback, Part Seven

Here are a few takeaways and final thoughts I have about self-publishing The Field:

It’s important for your own creative sanity that once you make the leap from your novel being your baby to publishing it either as an eBook, a paperback, or both, it is now a viable, marketable product.  This means that you have to put distance between you the author and you’re the person trying to market and sell what is a now a viable commodity.

This distancing will also help you in the event your get a negative review or criticism you don’t like.  The person may not have liked your product, but they still bought the product and you reap the benefits either way.  By taking this more objective and business-like approach to each work, you can then free up your mind to write the next book, and the next, and the next.

Distancing yourself emotionally from your completed project will also help you think more clearly when it comes to the marketing and sales aspects of your work.  It’s not at all helpful if you get wrapped up in a minute detail that occurs during the publishing process and your obsess over something that in the end has an easy fix. Case in point: I talked in a previous post about the paperback being priced at $14.63 due to production costs. I agonized over this for half a week, sure that my book was now doomed for failure because it was too expensive. Then, a Book Baby rep suggested I create a promo code to decrease the price.  Boom.  Problem solved.

I had I been thinking like a salesperson and been more pragmatic than emotional, I could have solved the problem without the needless drama. Leave the drama for the page not the publishing.

Know that if you are self-publishing that you are going to have to do almost everything yourself.  Yes, there are sites like Book Baby that will guide you, but when it comes to getting the word out to a wide swath of people, just know that you are the best marketing tool there is.  So use social media, your own website, co-workers, family, and friends to get the initial word out.  If you want to, you can enlist the aid of a marketing company – like I did with Smith Publicity – to spread the word farther.  But again, while they will be assisting with press releases and other aspects, the project is still driven by me and my knowledge and passion for the project.

There are also dozens of videos on YouTube as well as blogs that can give you insights into how to market your book either inexpensively or for free.

Also, make sure that you have the means to afford all the aspects of doing this yourself.  There are inexpensive and even free alternatives if you want to publish your eBook on Amazon or even on your own blog chapter by chapter.  Don’t go into debt or sacrifice eating or bills to do this. And if you do, make sure you budget and keep track of all your expenses.


So, what would I do differently.  Well, for the next book I will definitely publish the eBook and paperback as part of the same project.  The reason: it’s cheaper.  I could have paid 50% less if I had gone with one of the packages offered through Book Baby that allows you to do both.  But I thought just an eBook was easy money.  As of this post I have sold more paperbacks than eBooks, so that shows what I know!

I also learned that the best strategy is to budget your time in an efficient manner, especially if self-publishing is a side business and not your full-time occupation.  I work six days a week at my main job, so everything involving the book is like having a second job. It’s important to give yourself some downtime and not burn yourself out with everything that now needs to be done on top of all your other responsibilities.  Your novel won’t get published any faster if your agonizing over pricing at 4am.  Trust me. It’s not worth losing sleep over.

And that’s my self-publishing journey.  It was definitely worth all the time, effort, and expense, and I will definitely be doing it again soon.  If you have any questions, comments, or further advice you’d like to share, please feel free to leave a comment.  I look forward to hearing from you.

Thanks for reading!

The Field – From Word Doc to Paperback, Part Six

Here’s where things get a bit more complex when it comes to self-publishing.  You’re no longer in the digital realm when it comes to a paperback, you are in the real world and that means there are many more variables at play.  Let’s talk about them! 

            For the eBook I did everything online with no assistance from anyone. If I ever had a question – and this has been true since day one of this experience – Book Baby responds to emails very, very fast.  With the paperback, I set up a call with one of the Book Baby people to go through all the details that go into making a paperback a reality.  We hashed through book size, page count, page color, would I need a cover or provide my own, and host of other questions.

After the call, I emailed Steven Novak and he got to work on the paperback’s cover.  I think it turned out great!

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I went through the familiar steps on Book Baby’s website, but the nice thing was since it was just a new version of the same book I didn’t have to deal with as much technical stuff.  Then I had to decide on what price was best for the paperback.  Since this is Print-on-Demand, the price was set at $14.63, which I initially was concerned was too high a price.  I’m a new author, who’s gonna invest almost $15 for my first book?  (I would soon learn that there are a lot of people who are willing to pay that price, which was quite a nice feeling)

A consultant at Book Baby advised me that I could create a promo code on their site to reduce the price, and I did just that.  You can order your copy here and use the promo code FIELD20 at checkout to save 20%!

When I got the proofs for the paperback I jumped up and down even higher this time.  They looked AMAZING!  I had been a bit unsure of the whole process before I got the proofs, but the final product was definitely exciting!

All the pieces were in place.  I had ordered 125 copies for myself (well, not only for me, that would be a tad odd and narcissistic), and was awaiting their arrival.  I got the email from Book Baby that the four 22-pound boxes of books had been shipped.  I was glad for the sake of not getting a hernia that they were in four separate boxes.

Then on Friday, September 7, 2018 at 9:30PM, I got an alert on my phone that UPS had delivered the books.  And they were on my doorstep.  And we have a package theft problem at my complex.  And I live 40 minutes from where I work!

I clocked out and rushed home (as fast as one can in L.A. traffic on a Friday night).  I arrived just in time to see the sprinklers turn off in front of my door.  Where the boxes were.  Now all wet.  Yay.

I hefted the wet boxes into the apartment and dried them off.  I opened the first box, planning to unload them all to ensure there was no water damage, and I froze.  There, from inside the box, staring back at me was my novel: The Field by Ian Dawson.  It was a profound moment.  I took the top copy out and flipped through it.  The new book smell hit my nose the smell after a new fallen rain (or it could have been the smell of wet cardboard box, who know?).  I then pulled them all out of the boxes and luck was on my side: no water damage!

Now I had 125 books ready to go.  Where were they going?  Well, remember in my last post I talked about Smith Publicity?  Well, I’ve teamed up with them for a three-week media blitz in late September, and I needed copies to send to potential reviewers and interviewers (more on that experience soon!).  Plus, I knew that family, friends, co-workers, and those who helped me get the novel done and published wanted copies, too.

So, after all of this, from the push from the woman who cuts my hair to publish the damn book, to getting the paperbacks in wet boxes on my doorstep, what have I learned and what will I do differently with the second book (Coming Spring 2019!)?

Come back tomorrow for the final post in this series to find out!

The Field – From Word Doc to Paperback, Part Four

Yes, yes.  I’ll admit it.  Yesterday’s post was pretty technical.  Metadata. Pricing.  Websites.  While they aren’t exactly sexy topics, they are important parts of the self-publishing puzzle, which is why it’s a good idea to know about them.  So, today, let’s talk about a few more exciting topics.

So, you’ve submitted your manuscript, your cover, and input all the important info needed to launch your eBook on various sites. Well, while you’re toiling away at your website, a busy group of people in another part of the country are converting your Word doc or other files into a polished and professional-looking eBook.

The nice thing about Book Baby (and I’m sure other self-publishing sites do it, too) is that they constantly email you to let you know the progress of your book.  You can also check the status of your project on their website as well.  I was very excited to get the email announcing that my proofs were ready for me to view.  I will confess that when I opened the file for the first time and started to go through the pages I jumped up and down (I really did this, I’m not lying). It was an exciting feeling to finally see what I had written converted into a format for others to read and enjoy on their tablets or phones.

That part done and approved, I had to wait for the book’s official release onto Amazon and other sites in order to move on to the next step: reviews.

Readers’ Favorite (https://readersfavorite.com) is a site that works with Book Baby and allows you to do a number of helpful things with your book.  You can sign up for their Press Release program, you can participate in their Book Exchange Program, and you can have your book reviewed.  Now, you have to pay for the reviews, but I found this was a helpful way to get new eyes on my book and to get some legitimate reviews to use on my Amazon page and website.  I paid for three reviews, having no clue what I would get.

About a week later I got all three reviews back and they were all very positive, five-star reviews!  But, me being a skeptic about things, I did do some digging to find other reviews written by these particular reviewers and they weren’t just handing out five-star reviews across the board.  That added to the legitimacy of their reviews, which was a good thing!

I set up a profile on Readers’ Favorite, and then took the time to add myself to a few others as well.  I worked on my Amazon Author’s Profile and my Goodreads Author Program Profile (https://www.goodreads.com/author/program?rel=nofollow) to get my name and book out there.  The more ground you cover the better.

The Field by Ian Dawson was officially launched as an eBook on July 4, 2018, and I was pretty excited.  But other than my family, friends, and co-workers, how could I get others to buy the book?  In a word: Publicity.  In more words, stop by for tomorrow’s post!

The Field – From Word Doc to Paperback, Part One

The manuscript for my novel, The Field, sat in a file on my computer for years before I decided to make the move to get it published. Sure, it was ready to go, but I would occasionally open the Word doc and tweak little things every once in a while. However, I knew it was done when the ideas I had late at night for lines of dialogue or sequences to include were already in the book.  I knew then that it was time to take the next step into publishing the novel.

But I was afraid.  I’ll admit it.  I was terrified of having to deal with trolls on social media after releasing The Field to the public.  I had already left Facebook and Instagram back in 2016 during the election cycle, so I was overly cautious about jumping back into the social media fray as an author.

And so, I waited…and waited…and made excuses…and waited.

And then one day, as I was getting my haircut, the woman who cuts my hair asked me for the 100th time how my novel was coming along and why I hadn’t published it yet.  I finally told her why: I was afraid of what the response would be on social media.  She looked at me in the mirror and said, “F**k those trolls! Publish your damn book!” Since she had clippers next to my head I agreed that it was time.

And she was 100% right.  It was time to publish the book.

That weekend, I went home and started to do research on how to self-publish.  Previous to this, I had sent out query letters the traditional way years prior to no avail.  I knew that eBooks were popular – I certainly have a Kindle full of them – so I decided to publish my novel initially as an eBook.

And so the process began, and tomorrow I will tell you what steps I took to take The Field from computer file to published novel.