Podcast Recommendations

It’s been about a year since I shared my favorite podcasts. Some of them have ended, others have been created, so I’m sharing my favorite podcasts that involve writing with you here.

Author Strong – fantastic 30 minute episodes interviewing and talking about writing.

Sell More Books Show – Five tips, and five top news stories in publishing. Quick, and to the point podcast.

Self Publishing Podcast – One of the original podcasts. Three guys discussing their journey through indie authorship. Not always safe for work.

Rocking Self Publishing Podcast – Interviews from authors, marketers, and others.

Authorpreneur – interviews with authors, marketers, and others who talk about the business side of writing.

Creative Penn – Interviews from authors from every walk of life.

Self Publishing Roundtable – usually interviews with authors who are selling a lot of books.

Grammar Girl – A girl bent on making the world a more grammatically correct place.

Literary Roadhouse – Every week they read and discuss a short story.

To Be Read – Weekly discussion of the books they are reading, and what they loved or hated about certain books.

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What I’ve Learned

In an interesting post today on G+ John Ward ask us “What have you learned, and where did you learn it?” He wanted sources. The idea is that others might learn from that source as well. It’s a fantastic idea, but I’ve got a LOT of sources, so I am going to list them here on my blog instead of in a reply on G+.

Self Publishing

So the big one, self publishing. I didn’t know self publishing was really an achievable goal until I ran into The Self Publishing Podcast. They introduced me to several other podcasts like The Creative Penn, Rocking Self Publishing, and The Sell More Books Show. All of them are fantastic resources on the publishing mindset, marketing, and strategies to get known.

Publishing the Traditional way

Before self publishing there was traditional publishing. I actually went through quite a bit of that back in 2000 trying to get that prestige. (I’ve had several articles and a short story published in magazines, mostly Queensland Fantastic that use to be in Australia.)

To figure out how to do all of this I relied mainly on one book. How to get Happily Published. It was the most informative step by step book, letting me know exactly what to expect, what steps I needed to take, some helpful suggestions on getting the words right, and how to format the manuscript correctly. Great resource, if you are going trade publish I highly recommend it. The Writers Guidelines is also useful to find various publishers/addresses/etc, but a lot of that is also available online.

World Building

I love world building. From sketching maps, to creating new races and creatures. I love building up a society from the ground, and making the world flow together. BUT! In order to do all of that you need to have some basis in reality to build upon. You need to know how land and weather work. How different ecology’s boarder each other, and creatures might develop in those places. You have to figure out how governments, religions, and societies work together.

The only classes I felt really helped me in college were the classes regarding history, and anthropology. But I’m not going to recomend you go to a college when you can learn the same thing via documentaries and books.

One of my favorite books about the simplest thing is Salt: A World History. It’s amazing how much of our history of exploration, war, expansion, and industry revolved around this simple mineral. On the same vein, How Beer Saved the World (video) shows how man may have gone from hunter/gatherer to agriculture because of this wonderful thing called beer. Again showing how the small things effect the grander scale.

I also enjoyed books on competitive religion, astrology, mythology, astronomy, physiology, economy, ecology…. Just everything. Non fiction books and documentaries are wonderful treasure troves when fleshing out how own world and I found that every time I read/watched something new I had a little tid-bit to add to my worlds. This isn’t something you get all at once, it is from a lifetime of gathering little bits of information. Watching, observing, and internalizing, and eventually it just congeals on  your own story. It isn’t as though I plan for certain aspects to come out, they just often are there and only later do I realize that it was inspired by a specific thing I read long ago.

I’m not sure what else anyone else would be interested in. If you have any specific thing you’re looking for a refrence for let me know, I might have come across it at one point.

Also, I do have a page of references available here with some other little things I didn’t mention.

What is slow?

I just read this article about slow writers, and their place in the current Amazon world. They make some valid points about certain authors who advocate for writing fast and not editing. I also advocate just getting that first draft out and on the page, and then turning it over and writing something else. That is because a person who writes often, and a lot, has more practice then someone who does not.

But I digress, the question today is “what is slow?”

I know the guys over at Self Publishing Podcast can crank out the wordage. They managed to publish quite a few books last year. I think they are slowing down this year to focus a little more on their brand and put a little more time into their writing, but even then they still crank out more words in a month then I do in three.

Dean Wesley Smith writes TONS of words every single day. He also advocates Heinlein’s Rules about writing fast and not editing (unless your editor tells you to.) He has some great reasons to do so. He also has good examples of published writers who do write incredibly fast. Nora Roberts, Stephen King, Ray Bradbury and every other author on this list. From authors that wrote a short story every week (because no one can write 52 bad short stories) to those who wrote several novels a year.

Then there are others who wrote one single book and earned great acclaim. Withering Heights by Emily Bronte. Black Beauty by Anna Sewell. Gone with the Wind by Margret Michelle. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison. All books that have made their way into the national culture, film, cartoons, spin offs, etc.

A huge difference between Ralph Ellison and Stephen King… One makes a living as an author. The other made his living in other things and also wrote a fantastic book that has inspired generations. Not to say that Stephen King hasn’t written some wonderful things, some of which might inspire others along their path. Ray Bradbury, Philip K Dick and Isaac Asimov were all extremely prolific authors who made their living writing. Their works are now considered classics that will inspire and influence our culture for a very long time.

To me I suppose when I say I am slow it is because I am unsatisfied with how quickly I am writing. I know I can do more, spend more time at it, and get the ideas out of my head and on to the paper.

I think if you want to make a living at being a writer then you have to write enough to sustain that career. Every author who has come forward to say they are currently making a comfortable living off of their writing has said the same thing: they write almost every day, and they write a lot. You can not sustain a house, cell phone, car, water, and electricity off of one book in a lifetime… not unless that was a REALLY good book. And striking that really good book isn’t likely. It happens to one author every couple of years. Do you know how many authors there are out there right now?

There is something to be said for writers who are still learning their craft, honing their skills, and fine tuning their instruments. A pianist doesn’t go out to play in front of a crowd until he’s had years of practice. And those of us who started writing as children have an advantage. We had those years of honing our skills while others were out playing kick ball and hop scotch. You, the beginning writer, need to take that time to hone those skills and become more comfortable with your words. Take that time, get it right, and then decide what you want to do with those words. What level are you comfortable at.

There is also room for the part time author. The author who has a “day job” while they write. (That’s what I’m doing.) I am still an author. That is how I think of myself, and how I introduce myself, because that is what I am even if I don’t make my entire living off of it.

How slow is slow? That depends on your goals. For me I feel slow because I know I can do more, and I feel that I need to because I want more then anything to be writing full time. To get out of the rat race once and for all. I need to write faster, which for me just means less time gaming and more time on scrivener.

But you have to make your own decision. You have to find what your comfortable with, and decide if that fits the life style you eventually want. It might mean you are perfectly happy with exactly where you are. It might mean putting in extra hours every week to learn that skill, to get better on your instrument so that you can finally play for the crowd.

(Also listen to this great podcast with Neil Gaiman who comments on the subject of writing every day, finishing, and breaking through the wall.)

The Importance of Diversification 

If you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time, you know that I enjoy the Self Publishing Podcast. They are probably one of the big reasons I finally have books up on Amazon. They are probably also a huge reason I keep plowing away at this novel that I’ve been working on since October. That, and the support of my friends, and my boyfriend, who all keep telling me I can do this thing.

The guys over on SPP talk about email lists a LOT. And they aren’t the only ones. Several of the authors interviewed on SPRT, Rocking Self Publishing, and Story Telling Podcast all say you should have an email list.

I resisted for a while, mainly because I didn’t think I could do a good job of it. I enjoy doing my blog, and sharing things through this medium. I figured if anyone really wanted to know what I had to say they could read my blog, or hit the subscribe button above, or at the very least subscribe to twitter where I announce everything. And lots of people do.

But it was something Johnny said on one of the latest SPP’s that really hit home. By not having a list I am risking everything going away, and none of my fans or readers will be able to find me. What if Amazon suddenly decided they didn’t want to do indie books anymore? Or what if they changed the terms of service and I couldn’t stand them anymore? What if wordpress just up and lost all of my old posts and accidentally deleted my blog? It could happen.

So really, I’m doing a disservice to my readers by not having a main mailing list where you can get basic information each week, or every other week.

Plus there is just the idea that diversification means more opportunities for us to talk and get to know one another. Spreading out my cyber wings, so to speak, and letting people get more chances to see something new and interesting.

So.. I’ve got a mailing list. Sort of. I signed up for it, and I’m figuring it out. Hopefully it will be available within the week.