Author Business & Publishing, Writing & Publishing Articles

The Pressure to Be Super Human

During my time as a Sociology major, I took a few classes that focused on gender and family. In these, we learned about the changing roles of women in society, and how modern women often feel pressure to work a “Second Shift” to fulfill their roles. Decades ago, women only had to focus on being a wife and mother. In modern society, women are still expected to thrive in the domestic sphere–while also holding down a full-time career. In other words, they can (and should, in most people’s opinions) do it all.

But this article isn’t about Feminism and the roles of women. It’s about authors.

Decades ago, the life of the author (or, more accurately, the romanticized view we hold of it) was quite different. You simply jetted off to Paris with Hemingway and Fitzgerald, got rip-roaring drunk, and spouted your brilliance. A publisher then plucked it from your hands and sent it out into the world, where your deserved fame and ample royalties followed.

Again, that’s the romanticized view. But it’s still what a lot of people associate with authorship.

Today, a new author has emerged, of which I am one: the indie author. As an independent author, we are expected to write and edit our own books, format them, design covers, publish, and market. Or, of course, hire professionals to assist us. And until we finally figure out the magic formula to full-time authorship, we have to do all of this while working full-time jobs, maintaining our households, and keeping our social relationships in tact.

In my imagination, the ideal indie author — the person I should be — goes through the day like this:

Wake up at four or five a.m. Devour coffee and write for at least an hour. Go to work (while writing more, reading/listening to books or podcasts, or marketing during the commute). Take a lunch break (with more writing, reading, or marketing). Repeat the commute home. Eat dinner and spend a short amount of time with family. Write until midnight. Sleep four to five hours. Repeat.

Is it just me, or does that sound insanely difficult? I mean, I need my sleep…for everyone else’s safety.

Okay, reality time. That schedule is probably slightly exaggerated. But there are plenty of “famous” indie authors who have done something similar. There’s Hugh Howey, who wrote Wool while working in a bookstore. There’s Joanna Penn, who scaled back her day job to four days a week, gave up television, and got up incredibly early every day to write. Listen to any mainstream self-publishing podcast, and you’ll find the success stories.

That’s what it takes to make it to the big leagues. You’ve got to want it so badly that you make huge sacrifices, that you keep pushing even when you’re exhausted, that you devote daily practice to writing and studying the industry. And for most of us, myself included, just thinking about that kind of rigorous routine — even with our burning desire for its rewards — makes us light-headed. I mean, that’s a lot of pressure.

But that’s the formula for success as an indie author — work hard enough that you make your own luck.

So what do we do?

I guess we figure out how to do it for ourselves. I haven’t quite tackled being super human just yet (I’ll let you know when I do), but I think we start somewhere like this:

  • Find the discipline to wake up an hour earlier (or stay up an hour later)
  • Find the energy to knock out some words during our lunch breaks or after work
  • Remember meeting our goals is more satisfying than another Netflix binge
  • Listen to an audiobook or podcast instead of the radio on our commutes
  • Turn wasted minutes or free time into time spent being creative
  • Cut personal expenses and treats in favor of time off work or business-related costs
  • Search out others with the same goal and feed off their determination
  • Recognize that we will always have more work to do
  • Forgive ourselves when we fall short of our goals
  • Keep trying to do better

When I break it down like this, it feels easy — but we all know it’s not.

This is the part where I start to flounder, where I deeply feel my own failings, and where I feel intense pressure to do better. I know what to do, I’m just not sure how to cram it all into my own life. I pump myself up, get into a frenzy of motivation, make progress, then peter out, whether after a day, a week, or a month…

But I’m working on it, and I’ve already seen marked improvements in 2016.

I guess the point of this post is: fellow indie authors, fellow day job grinders, fellow insecure creatives — you are not alone. I’m right there with you, straddling the tightrope between the present and the authorship dreams. And one way or another, we’ll all end up on one side of the rope or the other.

I know which side I want to be on. It’s going to take a few years of penny-pinching and late nights (and getting Daniel through graduate school). It’s not ALL in my hands, but it mostly is, and I’m going to try my hardest to get there.

Where are you right now? And which side will you be on in five or ten years?

If those questions make your chest tight, remember: you’re not alone. And if you need someone to rally around, I’ve got your back.

Fiction Blog, The Desertera Series

Kate M. Colby Blog Tour: Inspiration Behind Desertera

In today’s blog tour stop, I share how I created the world of Desertera – including my original map sketch!

Author Zachary Paul Chopchinski

TCD Blog Tour Banner

WHEN THE STEAM-POWERED WORLD DRIES UP…

Two-hundred years ago, the steam-powered world experienced an apocalyptic flood. When the waters dried up, the survivors settled around their steamship in a wasteland they named Desertera. Believing the flood and drought were caused by a scorned goddess, the monarchs demanded execution for anyone who commits the unforgivable sin—adultery.

ONE KING RULES WITH ABSOLUTE POWER AND UNQUENCHABLE LUST…

Today, King Archon entraps his wives in the crime of adultery, executing each boring bride to pursue his next infatuation. Most nobles overlook King Archon’s behavior, but when Lord Varick’s daughter falls victim to the king’s schemes, he vows revenge.

UNTIL THE COGSMITH’S DAUGHTER RISKS EVERYTHING FOR VENGEANCE.

When Aya Cogsmith is thirteen, King Archon has her father executed for treason. Orphaned and forced to turn to prostitution for survival, Aya dreams of avenging her father’s death. When Lord Varick approaches Aya with plans for vengeance…

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Fiction Blog, The Desertera Series

The Cogsmith’s Daughter (Desertera #1) is Available for Pre-order!

Daughter -C2You read it right — The Cogsmith’s Daughter (Desertera #1) is now available for the special pre-order price of $0.99. After the official release on October 15th, the price will triple (to a whopping $2.99), so snag your cheap copy while you can!

Currently, The Cogsmith’s Daughter is only available in ebook format. Long story short, I’m waiting for my printing company to approve the final paperback files. When it does, the paperback will be available as well. Don’t worry paperback lovers, I’ll let you know when you can grab your print copy!

Here are all the places you can pre-order the ebook. More retailers will be available after the official release.

Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon AU, etc.

Barnes & Noble

iBooks

Kobo

Smashwords

After you pre-order your copy, make sure you shelve it on Goodreads! Once you’ve blazed through it, don’t forget to leave a review on Goodreads and the retailer from which you purchased it.

To be the first to hear exciting news like this (and receive free advance review copies of my future publications), sign up for my author newsletter.

Thank you all for your encouragement and the wonderful community you provide! This journey would not be nearly as fun or rewarding without you. And, of course, happy reading!

Writing & Publishing Articles, Writing Craft & Tips

5 Ways to Overcome Imposter Syndrome

Hello, everyone. My name is Kate M. Colby, and I suffer from Imposter Syndrome. Some of you may have heard of it. Many of you may suffer from it yourselves, whether you know the name or not. It’s been called fear, writer’s block, artistic drought, and several other names — depending on the particular strain that affects you. What exactly is it?

Imposter Syndrome is that nagging feeling that you don’t have the necessary skills and/or authority to accomplish your goals. After all, you don’t have a creative writing degree! Who are you to write a novel? You don’t have a publishing contract! Who are you to give writing advice? You don’t have a successful podcast or social media platform! Why would anyone listen to you or read your work? There are already millions of books out there written by millions of talented, educated authors! Why does the world need your book?

imposter syndrome
Found here

My strain of Imposter Syndrome is the “I’m not _____ enough.” variety. Last year, it was “I’m not creative enough to write a novel. And I’m definitely not disciplined enough to write a novel.” This year, with the novel writing behind me, it has mutated to a strain of “I’m not smart enough to publish this novel. I’m not qualified enough to be a professional copywriter and author. I’m not prepared enough to tackle my business and artistic goals.” In short, I have zero right, zero authority, and absolutely no business being an “author,” “writer,” or “entrepreneur.”

Another variety that affects me is the general, “I’m not artistic enough.” My entire life, I have been one of the more creative people in my family and friendship circles. However, I don’t feel like an artist. Frida Kahlo, with her gorgeously painted expressions of loss, feminism, and Mexican pride, is an artist. Gerard Way, who penned “Oh how wrong we were to think that immortality meant never dying” and a thousand other lines I envy, is an artist. Stanley Kubrick, with his innovative filmography style whose messages I can hardly fathom, is an artist.

Now this guy "looks" like an artist
Now this guy “looks” like an artist

ME? No way. To be an artist, I’d have to die my hair a weird color (I did do a red streak once), post brilliantly obscure Instagram photos that get 1,000 likes (incense stick protruding from banana anyone?), cover my body in tattoos (I only have 3…and that’s debatable), and be able to spout poetry at the snap of a finger (um…roses are…crimson?). As much as I would love to have that overflowing vat of random, spontaneous, carefree, meaningful artistic juice dripping from my brain 24/7, the truth is…I just don’t.

So, how do you conquer the feelings of inadequacy and sense of “stepping-out-of-bounds” that Imposter Syndrome creates? And, if you have similar strain to mine, how do you overcome the idea that you’re not _____ enough? I don’t know. But here are my best guesses.

1. Savor the credentials you do have.

Okay, maybe you don’t have an MFA. Maybe you don’t even know what MFA stands for (Master of Fine Arts). But, maybe you already have a book self-published on Amazon. Maybe you have 15 (partially or entirely) finished drafts on your hard drive. Maybe you rock the local cafe’s open mic night. Hell, maybe you just make a bitchin’ grilled cheese sandwich (that’s right, I’m looking in you, mirror). Whatever you have on your side, use it for all it’s worth.

2. Acknowledge that you’re not alone.

Research some of your favorite best-selling authors. Several of them won’t have formal education in writing. Look into successful self-published authors — the same will be true. Then, take it a step closer to home. Do others in your critique group or your Twitter feed have a back catalog full of brilliant novels? Are any of them really more qualified than you? Even if they are, do they feel incredibly confident? When push comes to shove and the ugly truth comes out, we’re all insecure and terrified — to different degrees, of different things, in different ways.

3. Remember, no one else is 100% you.

My favorite quote comes from the aforementioned Mr. Way. “Talent can only take you so far. It’s your point of view on the world that makes a difference.” That’s right, folks. Natural ability and, I would argue, fancy credentials only get you so far. If you don’t put them to use, if you don’t combine them with your unique perspective and truth, then what are they really doing for you? No one in the known universe has the exact same personality, experiences, feelings, and perspective as you. Therefore, no one else in the world can write your novel. So get off your ass and write it.

4. Define and redefine what’s stopping you.

What is your “I’m not _____ enough?” Figure it out. You can’t solve a problem if you don’t know what it is. Got it? Good. Now go out and get it. Take an online writing course. Read that book on Amazon keywords. Dye that hair.

Can’t do whatever it is you need to do? No worries. Redefine it. I’m not “qualified” enough? I’m not “prepared” enough? Kurt Vonnegut didn’t have an English degree (In fact, he dropped out of college altogether to join the army). When J.K. Rowling wrote Harry Potter, she was broke and scribbled the first inklings on a napkin. Surely you can figure out how to make-do, too.

Do you share my “I’m not artistic enough” hang up? Well, why does an artist have to be someone with an outwardly recognizable appearance and a knack for spontaneous bursts of random creativity? Maybe, an artist is someone who generates a consistent flow of creativity and productivity, who learns to marry craft and business, who doesn’t need legions of social media followers to constantly reaffirm his/her genius. You know, I think that definition could work for me.

5. Just do it.

No matter what variation of Imposter Syndrome you have, “you must do the thing you think you cannot do” (Eleanor Roosevelt). It’s as difficult and as simple as this: if you overcome or deny your internal objections and just do the damn thing, you will no longer be an imposter. You will, slowly but surely, become an authority.

And when, as an authority, you feel like an imposter, return to step one.


What is your brand of insecurity and Imposter Syndrome? How do you overcome it? Share your tips below!

 

The Desertera Series, Vlog/Video, Writing & Publishing Articles, Writing Updates

Vlog: My First Line Edit Experience

In this vlog, I discuss my first line edit experience with The Cogsmith’s Daughter (Desertera #1), including: a brief overview of the process, the kinds of comments I received, and how I feel about the experience in retrospect.

For those who dislike vlogs or who are hearing impaired, here is a summary of this video. 

My line editor took approximately two weeks with my manuscript. When she was finished, she called me to discuss her notes and comments, her mindset being that A) if she just sent over the worksheet, I’d make my own assumptions about her comments and B) it would yield a more productive conversation than email. I really appreciated the phone call, and it was incredibly helpful for me to discuss everything with her. After we talked, she sent me her notes page as well as the comments within the manuscript. I spent about a month doing my revisions based on her comments, then she spent another two weeks doing more revisions, then I spent 10-12 days with my final revisions. She did one final search for a few grammar rules, then passed it along to the proofreader.

Thus far, line editing has been my favorite part of the editing process. It is not as extensive (nor does it feel as artistically painful) as content editing, and it is really fun as a writer to see your work go from just a story to a beautiful, fluid story. I learned so much from this experience, and I already know my writing craft has improved because of it.

Red Adept Editing

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How have your editing experiences been? What advice would you give to authors preparing for their first round of edits?