2015 was a big year for me, in terms of finally becoming a published author – notwithstanding the fact that I am self-published. I have three of the four planned books from my Storming Archives available on Amazon (Kindle Editions and paperback), with the fourth currently being written, as well as a novel planned for release in early 2016.
I have a total of ten writing projects slated for 2016, including fiction, non-fiction, short stories, poetry and other stuff and nonsense! I’m lucky to be in a position where I can finally say that I’m a full time author – with 1/4/16 being my last day in a traditional job. I am very grateful to have a wonderfully supportive husband, who has afforded me this awesome opportunity to live the life I’ve always dreamed of.
Now, I want to advise that I do not intend to sound like I’m doing the dying swan routine, but 2015 was very much a case of trial and error in regards to navigating the world of the self-published author. As I was impatient to get my books out, I ventured into the realm of self-publishing after sending only five query letters out. (They were all very gracious in their rejection letters – stating that, whilst they enjoyed reading my synopsis and sample chapter, they felt that it wasn’t what they were looking for.)
I knew early on that my Storming Archives would present a challenge to anyone (including me) in terms of promoting and marketing, as the genre and style is a hybrid of various elements. I market the series as a fantasy, with a twist of horror, but it’s also very surreal and in the realm of consciousness.
There are many reasons for this. Firstly, the protagonist is a thirty year old woman who (like me) “suffers” from a series of mental afflictions – namely sleep paralysis, hallucinations, astral projection and vivid dreams. In “Delwyn of the Realms” (Book 1), we follow Delwyn through a mirror portal to the realm of dreams (known as Onesol). There, she has to face her Shadow in order to properly integrate – in preparation for becoming a “Portal Stormer” (Book 2).
In the second book, Delwyn escapes into the “Realms” – where she meets her fellow Portal Stormers and discovers that she has to face her Last Sorrow in the hellish realm of Nidar. After being initiated as a fully fledged Portal Stormer, she and her troops have to learn how to shapeshift, in “Totem Shift” (Book 3). This is where Delwyn and the Portal Stormers go on their ultimate mission, to secretly infiltrate the realm of animal spirits (known as Erankorun), so that they can persuade the Ural to join with the other realms. A united front is needed to face the Founders – who are coming to destroy the realms (our galaxy – known as Kendanerum).
In most cases, fantasy and science fiction stories are set in physical realms, whether past, present or future. They can also be alternate or parallel worlds, on other planets as well as earth. They are sometimes slotted into fantasy genres such as slipstream, portal, epic and so on. The bottom line is that they are actual/physical places, or at least – if they are “imaginary” or unreal – it’s an aberration and the resolution is usually dealing with hallucinations, dreams and alternate realities.
I found it difficult to define the fact that my stories were set in the “inner” realms, which are usually mental or spiritual places considered non-physical. Sure, there have been many stories set in the dream world or imaginary places – such as hell, heaven, etc. The difference with the Storming Archives is that – on the one hand – the realms/worlds involved are usually considered imaginary, but on the other hand, they can be visited by a chosen few, in physical form.
This might not be a stretch for some people. To give you an idea, here’s my “map” of Kendanerum:
Here’s a legend or key to the realms in Kendanerum:
- Onesol is the dream world – the realm of the Collective Unconscious
- Alusol is the realm of hallucinations – where visions and inspiration come from
- Meditar is the realm of meditation – a place for contemplation and revelation
- Akasha is the realm of Karma – the Hall of records and hub for transit to the Seven Heavens
- Nidar is the Underworld – once the source of Dark Matter; now a hellish realm of retribution
- The Seven Heavens is just that – where good souls cycle through on their way to Nirvana
- Erankorun is the realm of animal spirits – a safe haven (heaven) for animals
- Aletheia (Earth) is the material realm – where Aletheians (humans) reside
Only those, like Delwyn – who have the ability to traverse all realms (given her mental “afflictions”) – are allowed to visit these worlds in physical form.
I’ve drawn on my own experiences, as well as inspiration from surrealism (literature, art, music). What I’ve found quite annoying, is that the majority of novels being produced (traditional or self-published) rely heavily on the aspect of romance and/or sex when it comes to selling their stories.
Of course, we all know that sex sells, but I consider myself very altruistic when it comes to telling (and reading) a good story. What I mean by this is, I don’t feel that every bloody story has to have a romantic vein running through it. I’m probably setting myself up for ridicule – but there’s more to life than finding your soulmate or electrifying sex! I understand completely that the majority of humans are drawn to sex and romance. It’s not like I didn’t include a romantic interest – and sex – in the Storming Archives. It’s just not the main focus.
Not wanting to boast, as a side note – I have my soulmate and good sex – so I don’t have a burning desire to live out a fantasy in order to make up for something I don’t lack. Having said that, I totally enjoy good erotica and a story that involves romance, blah blah blah. It’s just frustrating to feel the need to promote my work along those lines.
I will say – that hasn’t been my only problem with getting more sales. I am a complete novice when it comes to promoting and marketing. I hate Facebook, so there’s that – but I do my best on platforms such as Twitter, Google+ and here on WordPress, to name a few.
I purchased a Snowball microphone, for the purpose of recording an audiobook. I’ve been practicing, so we’ll see how that goes. I’ve also entered a short story (unrelated to the Storming Archives) – in the Neoverse Short Story competition. Winners will be announced on 1/15/16. (Fingers crossed!)
I loathe the idea of “buying” followers, so I have that against me too. I am still learning about other formats and procedures – which I will be incorporating in my promoting and marketing plans for 2016. (Such as book blog tours, readings, more radio interviews, Youtube videos and slideshows, better advertising, etc.)
I utilize Hootsuite and Crowdfire, as well as giveaways and campaigns on Goodreads and Amazon. I also have profiles on Shelfari, Bookbuzzr, Mythic Scribes and many others I’ve probably neglected or forgotten about. It’s just so daunting, time-consuming and frustrating – to say the least. (Especially if you’re working full time and running a household, on top of that.)
I don’t mean to piss and moan. I understand that, even if traditionally published – I’d still have to do a lot of the legwork myself. The thing I’ve discovered is, it doesn’t matter if you’re using services you have to pay for (who promise the earth!) or whether they’re free. You have to find the nerve and strike while the iron’s hot.
The daunting thing (whether self-published or not) is that there are millions of other authors scrambling just like I am. It feels like being a tiny, insignificant drop in a ferocious tempest – inside an endless teapot. When I’m “spruiking” on Twitter etc – I get the image of myself clamoring over a sea of bodies. Most of us are drowning – occasionally reaching out and waving frantically – only to be absorbed by the teeming throng. (Melodramatic piss-ant that I am!)
The things I know I have to do better with include:
- Finding and targeting my audience (who and where in the hell are they? I’m not asking – I know now – and it’s great to finally have the time to focus on this.)
- Flowing on from the above – engaging my readers and keeping them engaged (*sigh*)
- Creating meaningful giveaways and prizes to “lure” my audience.
- Swallowing my pride and side-stepping my altruistic tendencies (to a degree. I don’t want to have to “sell my soul”.)
- Doing away with frittering away resources and money where it is not doing me or my books any good.
- Being more intuitive in regards to trends.
- Getting more reviews!!!!!
- Dealing with my shyness and learning how to believe in myself and my work (Lordy, I’m trying!)
- Being more open about constructive criticism – but at the same time – knowing how to sort the wheat from the chaff (as I have received some hair-brained feedback and even personal attacks!)
- Entering more writing competitions
- Figuring out what else I have to do to – working smarter AND harder!
Having the time to organize and execute a solid marketing plan is key. After 1/4/16 I’ll have no excuse! Even though I’m doing some freelance work to make my own money (as I’m not one of those women who like to ask their husbands for a handout) – I have structured my “routine” to include time every day for my own writing.
Robert (my husband) said something totally sweet the other night, after I advised my plans re: housework, cooking and errands (just to reiterate that I would keep it all together).
He said, “I do not want you to turn your back on your creative urges just to do the dishes or laundry. If you feel the flow – let it out and focus on your writing. I’m working less hours for more money now and I’m quite happy to pick up the slack, if it means that you get to produce solid work. Do not allow the mundane to thwart your creativity!”
How’s that for romance?!
I was in a field with long grass where there was a patch mowed in a square. As I walked past, I looked in and saw several men – supposedly dead – lying along the edges. At first I thought they were just men’s clothes arranged as though men were inside them, but then I realized that they were men. They were wet and I assumed they had drowned before being placed in the square.
Then I walked to the edge of the field and met up with a work colleague. She was standing in a queue with other people who were going to a training session and I walked over to talk to her. She was laughing (as usual) and told me that she was trying to get away from a man who was trying to kiss her. She said that he had herpes and she didn’t want to catch it.
Then she told me that her anal jewelry was bothering her! Later in the dream, I was thirsty and went over to a man who was serving water out of an old metal bucket (or a still). When I went up to him, he handed me a large jar – but I saw that there were a couple of dead insects and a spot of mold floating in it. I wouldn’t drink it, so I went over the road to a covered stand.
There was an old woman selling her wares – but it looked more like a forgotten trash heap. I thought I saw a table loaded with old animal skulls – displayed in a pyramid fashion. But when I got closer, I realized that they were just knitted and crocheted baby booties.
I told the woman that I was thirsty, so she pulled a cup of water out of her pocket. I was afraid that it was her urine, so again – I declined.
THEMES: Death, issues with men, sexuality, disease, thirst, contamination, misinterpretation.
SYMBOLS: Death, grass, square, water, drowning, queue/line, training, sex, water, dirt/filth, skulls, crochet.
EMOTIONS: Confusion, concern, disgust, humor, thirst.
ARCHETYPES: Playful/sexual woman, dead men, peddlars, old woman, animal skulls.
INTERPRETATION: To see the animus (for a woman) – dead in a field – could represent dead sexuality. Fear of losing sexual power – although seeing my colleague happy and chatting about avoiding a man for fear of disease, could also indicate a lackadaisical attitude about avoiding sex. (Hmmm – not like me at all!)
What stumps me is the part about ‘anal jewelry’. This colleague is hilarious and we have a fun time together laughing at work – but I feel that she does represent me, and the ‘anal jewelry’ could symbolize abnormal sexuality. She was off-handed about the comment – so it could represent an element of myself that is glib or flippant about sex.
The fact that the men had possibly drowned (water = subconscious, emotions) – could indicate the men in my past that I’ve “laid out to dry” – or that I am ignoring my sexual side (or the sexual side of my husband.) Without giving too much away (we are very happy!) – we have been very busy of late, with our careers etc. Let’s leave it at that!
The fact that she was in a queue or line – waiting to go into training, could symbolize life still throwing lessons at me. I am very impatient – especially when it comes to my writing career – so maybe it represents the fact that I still have to keep learning and wait my turn.
The thing with the dirty water could have been affected by being thirsty for real. When I went to bed – I had brought a glass of water with me as I was particularly thirsty that night. When I woke up – I was still thirsty, so maybe my physical condition carried over to the dream state. In the dream – I couldn’t drink the nasty water – representing my thirst and lack of clean water to drink. If I was going to interpret it as a dream symbol – it could either tie in with my health (still working on it – eating healthy and all that boring crap!) – or even a “thirst” for sex, which is thwarted – self-inflicted.
The animal skulls (especially in the shape of a pyramid) – could indicate my desire to get back to my pagan side. This is something I’ve been thinking of lately, as I want to re-dedicate myself to the craft. The old lady – who had baby booties (white) – could symbolize my desire to get my business and writing career off the ground. (Babies represent new things, new ideas etc.) The idea of her having urine in her pocket doesn’t escape me. Sometimes I feel like I’m “regurgitating” or re-purposing things!
SUMMARY: I need to continue focusing on my health – and pay more attention to my sexual side. I must remember not to take my husband for granted. I need to think up more creative ways to promote and market my business and writing. I need to get my schedule worked out so I can incorporate my spiritual pursuits. (I’ve already started with clearing out and cleaning my office – to make way for a sacred space.) One step at a time!