by Megan Haskell
When I first started writing, I had no idea what I was doing. Shocking, I know.
You hear stories about authors who developed their passion for writing before they were toilet-trained, who were born with pen and paper in hand, who had written their first novel while still in the womb. These are Authors, capital ‘A’, and they knew the ins and outs of craft and industry from Day 1.
I was not one of these mystical, mythical beasts. I was in my mid-twenties before I took pen to paper to write fiction. Even then, it took years to realize I wanted to be a professional author, as opposed to a bored commuter with an amusing hobby. Luckily, my writing passion was born into a technologically advanced world where information is freely shared to the betterment of all. Especially within the indie community.
My self-education began with a few good blogs.
Kristin Nelson, of Nelson Literary Agency, was one of the first that drew my attention. At the time, I’ll admit, I was planning to pursue a traditional contract with a big publisher, so I was looking for possible agents to represent my work. Kristin was at the top of the list. However, in my research I discovered her blog, Pub Rants. Filled with great advice on everything from writing craft, to pitching agents, to contract terms and industry news, it continues to be a great source of advice and insight.
However, it didn’t take long before I discovered the viability of self-publishing as a business model. Joanna Penn was first among the indie blogs to shed light on what would become my chosen path to publication. Her website, The Creative Penn, is full of everything you need to know about independent publishing. She even gives away, for FREE, an entire book on writing and publishing in the modern market.
Joanna Penn also hosts a weekly podcast where she interviews authors and luminaries of the publishing world. More on that, later.
The last blog I’ll mention is Joel Friedlander’s, The Book Designer. No secrets, here. Joel sells templates and services related to ebook and print book layout and design. But he’s also an old-school self-published author, having started self-publishing back in the days before print-on-demand and ebooks. He’s modernized his business since then, of course, and generously shares a wealth of free information and industry expertise on his blog.
There are probably hundreds — maybe even thousands — of fantastic blogs out there about writing craft and the publishing industry, both traditional and independent. Google a topic, and you’ll get brilliant posts from a wide variety of experts and professionals. Some of them will want to sell you other products and services, but most are giving freely of their time and experience, so don’t be afraid to follow those blogs and their owners. If they get too salesy, you can always unsubscribe.
Another great source of free information and self-education is in Facebook groups and other online communities.
O.C. Writers has a Facebook group — if you’re not already a member, make sure you ask to join! In my humble opinion, we’re a welcoming and supportive network of writers, more than willing to share our own experiences and expertise. This blog is testament to the fact that we have an incredible community; our contributors spend time each month writing on topics of interest to the group as a whole, for no compensation other than a by-line and a book link. It’s a communal passion project, and it’s our members who truly keep us going.
But if you’re looking for other resources, there are plenty to choose from.
I can personally recommend Selling for Authors for copywriting and marketing advice and constructive criticism. Run by Bryan Cohen, the group includes members from a wide range of experience levels, all seeking to improve their book marketing and copywriting skills. Bryan Cohen is also co-host of the Sell More Books Show…another podcast that I’ll talk more about later.
Another great community is the For Love or Money group, run by independent sci-fi author Susan Kaye Quinn. She wrote a book for writers by the same name, as well as The Indie Author Survival Guide, both of which I’ve read and recommend for people interested in the independent path to publication.
To keep abreast of industry news and the latest tools and techniques for writing, publishing and selling books, podcasts are the way to go.
I am a devout follower of The Sell More Books Show, hosted by Bryan Cohen of Selling for Authors, and Jim Kukral of The Author Marketing Club. These guys know their stuff, and they keep on top of everything that’s happening in the publishing world. If I can only listen to one podcast a week, this one is it. It’s a consolidated, curated, relevant snapshot of everything that’s happened in the last week of publishing. They even occasionally have a “Lab” segment, where they experiment with new services and marketing techniques.
For craft, I love the Writing Excuses podcast. Hosted by Brandon Sanderson, Mary Robinette Kowal, Howard Tayler, and Dan Wells, this is a quick fifteen minute inspiration to get your butt in chair and do some work. These are highly experienced writers with exceptional resumes.
If you like interview style podcasts, look no further than Joanna Penn’s podcast, The Creative Penn. Each week she brings on an author or industry expert to discuss everything from writing craft and creativity, to publishing options, to creative entrepreneurship. She coined the term “authorpreneur.”
A Truly Generous Community
I could go on and on. There are so many resources available, if you’re just willing to look. Once you’re hooked on one, it will lead you to another, and another, and another. But the truly amazing thing, is that all of these resources are free, provided by writers who want to give back to the community that has helped build their own careers.
And now, I can proudly say I’m paying it forward. One day, maybe this blog will be included on some other author’s list of Top Resources.
What are your favorite resources? Please list them in the comments and share the wealth!
Legend has it, I was born with a book in my hands. Thirty-ish years later, I’m a stay-at-home-mom who prefers a good story over doing the dishes. Only now, I’m building my own fantasy worlds! I’m the author of the Amazon best selling series,The Sanyare Chronicles, and Program Director of O.C. Writers. You can find me on my website at www.meganhaskell.com, Facebook, and Twitter.
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