One year ago, I thought that all Indie Authors were like my uncle, wannabe authors who paid to have their work published. I just thought it was all a scam by the vanity presses to sell books to authors, who’d buy into the dream and end up with garages full of books.
On November 17, my birthday, I wanted to get away from the demands of motherhood, so I treated myself to a local chapter of the Romance Writer’s Association meeting. The speaker was Liliana Hart, and she spoke of the differences between Indie publishing, traditional publishing, and self-publishing. She spoke about having a plan in place before going the Indie route, and she spoke about doing it on a budget.
I had already been writing and querying agents in an attempt to go the traditional route. But Liliana Hart changed my life. I had never contemplated going Indie. I had read indie authors, in fact, I’d been reading them for years, but I assumed (incorrectly) that they’d all had to pay something to publish themselves.
I left that meeting so excited, for the first time in years, to try something new. To put myself out there. Ms. Hart gave us all handouts, and I talked to my husband about it, and then came up with a business plan. Those handouts were read, re-read, and truly loved over the following months. Two months after that meeting, I published my first three pieces in the Stories of Serendipity, and I haven’t looked back.
Since then, I’ve published two more Stories of Serendipity, and a Paranormal Romance in my Four Winds series. I have three more rough drafts working, and a gazillion more outlines and ideas festering in my brain.
In the past year, my outlook on life has changed drastically. I have an identity outside of my family, that I have had to own and come to terms with. I am working towards a contributable income for my family, doing something that I have always loved. And I’m getting better at it. I no longer spend all day cleaning (which I hate) and feeling guilty because I’m a horrible housewife (I am, no denying it). Now, I just ignore everything that’s piled up until my next book is finished, then have a marathon cleaning spree. I have a purpose.
I’ve been asked about my goals, celebrations, and how I handle my regular duties on top of everything else (I run a goat farm, in addition to the kids and husband). Honestly, I set a goal of publishing every 90 days and get busy, one day at a time. My first thought in the morning is “What am I going to accomplish today?” That gets me out of bed. Then I fake it until I make it. If I’m not writing, I’m thinking about writing. Period. I don’t celebrate my goals big, but I’m not above buying myself a six-pack of decent beer to celebrate publishing day. And the goats? They’re feeling neglected. I don’t go talk to them as often as I used to. But really, how big of a loser was I? The highlight of my day was talking to goats?
So, this year on my birthday, I’ll be celebrating turning thirty-eight years old. But in my mind, that’s not the important event. This year will be my first anniversary of the day that changed my life, the day I decided to go Indie.
To celebrate, I’m going to let one of my characters interview me. I’m a little nervous about this, because Kathy has been a secondary character in several of my books and hasn’t gotten her own story yet. I’m afraid she might be mad…
Kathy: Hey everyone! Get comfortable, and help me welcome my guest today, Anne Conley, author of the Stories of Serendipity and the Four Winds paranormal series.
Anne: Thanks, Kathy. I appreciate you doing this interview on such short notice.
Kathy: No problem, Anne. First question, What are you going to do to celebrate your birthday this year?
Anne: I’m thinking of spending the evening on facebook, having myself a little birthday bash…Anybody who is a fan of my page, www.facebook.com/anneconleyauthor can join in. I’m hoping it’ll be fun.
Kathy: So, you’ve been doing this a year…Anything you would do differently?
Anne: Not really. I’ve made some mistakes, but nothing major, I don’t think. I’ll own them and not regret them.
Kathy: You raise goats? (Anne nods) In your book, Chef’s Delight, Jessie Stillwell raised goats. How much of your own life gets put into your books?
Anne: When I first started the Serendipity series, most of my characters were drawn from my own experiences. Claire from Neighborly Complications was me with my first house (minus the ghost, gold and hunky next-door neighbor). Alyssa from Dream On was from when I used to teach. And yes, Jessie’s goat farm is what I used to envision my operation to be, until I realized how much work it was. In the later stories, I broke out of my comfort zone, and started writing about people that I don’t know, characters I’d made up from scratch. They’re more difficult, yet at the same time, I’m not as confined in defining the character, if that makes any sense.
Kathy: So, how do you do everything? You raise goats, have children, a husband, and you write? Do you do anything else?
Anne: Well, I was a crappy housewife, so I’m still a crappy housewife. In fact, we’re moving soon, so I put off publication of one of my novels to focus on the move. Basically, I wake up at 5:15 in the morning to focus on my marketing and catch up on social networking. After I drop the kids off at school, I work until about two o’clock on our new house, taking breaks from painting to revise a novel I’m working on, My Mistake. Then after I pick up the kids from school, I social network while doing homework and putting supper on the table. After the hubbie gets home, I turn off the computer and try to interact with my family until time for bed, when I read something. So I do a lot, but nothing thoroughly. The only thing I do every single day is writing, but it’s usually in chunks. When I’m banging out a rough draft, I try to schedule several days to a couple of weeks with no other major obligations so I can do that uninterrupted. But revisions I do in chunks around the rest of my life.
Kathy: What’s My Mistake about? Am I in that one?
Anne: No, Kathy, I’m sorry. But Summer is, and her brother, Brent. It’s actually his story, and Casey’s. Brent runs a horse sanctuary, helping rescue horses. Casey moves back to Serendipity to lick some wounds after her husband gets another woman pregnant. They re-kindle an old flame. It’s a story about redemption. I’m enjoying it.
Kathy: So, here’s the question you’ve been dreading. I’m in almost every Story of Serendipity, but I want my own happily ever after! When do I get my story, Anne?
Anne: I’ve got something special planned for you, Kathy. You are near and dear to my heart, and I want you to know that I’ll give you something you’re worthy of. You’ve got your story coming. It’ll be a short one, quick and dirty, and will come as a surprise to many of my readers.
Kathy: That’s it? That’s all I get?
Anne pantomimes zipping her lips.
Kathy: *sigh* Fine. Thanks for coming Anne. It was a pleasure. Happy Birthday, and congratulations on the one year anniversary of your self-publishing adventures.