#AuthorpreneurSpeak – “Living the dream” by Devika Fernando #Motivation

After last week’s featuring of Sudesna Ghosh’s “Becoming an authorpreneur, we have Devika Fernando, an entrepreneur, a writer and a wonderful individual, candidly sharing how she got to live her dream. Read on.

For me, words always held magic. I grew up being read to every day, then quickly moved on to reading even before I ‘officially’ learned reading and writing at school. My love with reading led to a love for writing at an early age. I remember writing my first (very) short poems and short stories when I was seven years old. But then life happened. Studies and growing up as well as the realities of moving and taking on responsibilities got in the way of writing, although I never stopped being a voracious reader.

In my late teenage years, I read my first books by Anne Rice and then devoured all the Vampire Chronicles novels. It was then that I truly said for the first time that “I want to be a writer”. But it was a somewhat vague concept, overshadowed by the fact that it all seemed nearly impossible. It remained a dream for many years during which I kept jotting down story ideas, poems and stories, now in English more than in German because I began to read more and more books in English.

Fast forward to 2013, when I finally decided to make my dream reality and turn a hobby into a job. I stumbled upon the concept of self-publishing online and suddenly it seemed as if a new world had opened up, full of possibilities (and challenges). What had always just been a fantasy vaguely associated with rejections and final fame or a lonely existence and failure was now something that could be approached like a freelance job. And I vowed: I wouldn’t “dabble” in writing or take anything for granted. I would try to make the most of the opportunities and become an authorpreneur.

A common definition for authorpreneur is an author who also acts like an entrepreneur. That basically means you don’t simply write a book but also promote it actively, work with certain tools of the trade and create your own brand. The last part is one of the most important aspects and something an authorpreneur should never lose focus of. It’s not merely about the books, it’s what is associated with the writing and the author. Authorpreneurs need to find their USP and build their author platform on it – whether they specialize in short and hot reads, a certain type of paranormal topics, forbidden romances, a certain language style or something similar like my multicultural romances set in different countries. Part of the author brand are covers, website, social media appearances and promotional methods.

All this can make it difficult to not forget the actual writing, so what I try is to take this as seriously as possible and allocate time to all aspects. I’ll start in the morning by checking my social media accounts and e-mails as well as my book sales and any promotional campaigns that might be running. Then throughout the day – to make use of different time zones – I keep interacting, posting and promoting. I also make sure I write a certain amount of words per day, preferably a complete scene or even a chapter. I don’t permit myself to seek excuses. To me, there is no “writer’s block” or “my muse has gone silent”. I’m the driving force and this is my responsibility on which my success depends. That is, in my opinion, one of the biggest challenges of doing this and also the main aspect that separates an authorpreneur from an author.

I consider myself lucky that I have been able to make a dream come true and that I have the means to be an author, so I make sure I live up to it. A doctor doesn’t refrain from operating because they lack “inspiration”. A teacher doesn’t earn their salary by letting things rest and hoping for a miracle. Likewise, an authorpreneur doesn’t rely on luck and should – in my humble opinion – bring more than creativity to the business.

Do check out the books authored by Devika here.

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Networking for writers. The company to keep. #Writerslife

Any writer would emphatically agree that writing is a solitary journey. But socialising with those on the same path is always a pleasure. Or is it? Well, at the risk of sounding super clicked, the answer is “It depends.”

But it does pay to be a part of a network that adds value to it’s members. That happens only if a considerable no of writer members believe in symbiotic connections over parasitical ones. From my experience of three years of author life, here are the networks that worked for me. When I say worked for me, I mean the ones which pulled me out of the snags I faced.

  1. Local meetups where there are at least 30% of writers who are published.
  2. Closely knit peer support groups who almost unconditionally support each other (The kind where you can ask any question and not feel stupid, celebrate each other’s progress, cheer each other, most importantly, give each other a push on the social media and other platforms). I am a part of one such a group called MyNoWriMo and we are practically ‘brothers at arms’, oops, ‘sisters in pens’. The key to successful groups like these is the mutual reciprocity.
  3. Facebook groups with a specific aim or positioning run by dedicated moderators. (“Writer mom’s” “5AMWriterclub”, FWBA etc). One such group, “Writer Mom Life” had a “Write every day” challenge running and it helped me sprint through the crucial part of my first draft. Often, these groups help members overcome specific challenges.
  4. Local charters of professional global networks. – Usually global networks have certain goals and the local charters have passionate leaders who want to make their charter shine through. ( I found the London charter of ALLi quite focussed. We would meet each month and share what we did each month, our discoveries, brainwaves, blocks and snags included).
  5. Culture/Ideology focused groups – I belong to this network called Indic Author network where most of us write stuff echoing the pathos and ethos of Indic civilisation. We have had invaluable sessions, socialised over various courses, have been gifted master courses and what not! The wavelength match too helps. And I got lucky with a celebrity endorsement too!
Now for the networks to avoid (On second thoughts, you may linger for entertainment and have some break time laughs)
  1. Rant groups – Sorry I could not find a better word here. But I refer to the umpteen number of these groups claiming to represent the underrepresented writers. I made the huge mistake of attending one gathering of a network supposedly supporting writers of color. For all the tall claims of inclusiveness, only one community was dominating. Adding to that, the programmes were full of ranting and had nothing of craft or business. Waste of a day.
  2. Large online writers groups with no specific aim. I am a part of one such group where every other day, there is a rant against Indie authors and best selling authors by literary snobs who have a lot of time to post rants but little or no time to share a good piece of advice. If you have a thick skin, these groups have some good entertainment value.
  3. Vanity groups – They charge you money just to let you in. And it is no mean amount. Lots of unrealistic promises are made and you end up losing money, time and motivation. While the above two have some value, this one is to be avoided at ALL costs.

What kind of networks have helped you, motivated you and keep you company in this solitary pilgrimage? Share in the comments

Plotting your novel, a two phase method to face your demons

Hello all,

This was a post I had promised myself to upload after the release of my second novel, Avishi.  If you are an aspiring novelist, I am sure plotting would have been a topic you pondered on quite a bit. It is daunting to envisage that 80,000+ word novel without a guide map and it is all the more torturing to have it haunting you while it remains unwritten.

Back in 2016, I was going through a usual journey of uncertainty, marketing (or rather wondering about marketing) my debut novel Abhaya and getting stuck at multiple places while writing Avishi. It was in March 2016 that I put what I thought as the first chapter together and all the way through March-July 2016, I had only written different versions of the beginning without making any progress. The method of plotting helped me progress (It is also helping me as I write my second instalment of the Abhaya series!). I think it is worthwhile sharing with you. Hope it helps you in your writing too!

Plot at two levels

You heard me right. The first level, (hoping that a little bit of jargon does not bother you) or L1 Plotting requires the writer to jot down the events of the plot in order. For simplicity sake, assume that each event makes up for a chapter. (Splitting and merging can and will happen later). For Eg, This is how I wrote down the events of Avishi’s plot :

img_20170904_124812419.jpg

While at it, 

  1. Try not to spend more than 5 minutes on what each event. (Write the first thing that comes to your mind in the sequence)
  2. Feel free to write down the points where you don’t know and mark them (This helps you improvise your precious day dreaming about the story!)
  3. Keep in mind that changes will occur at each stage. The plot you write now is NOT sacrosanct. 

During my plotting, I managed to jot down 35 events which I thought would define the crux of each chapter. The process took me about less than two hours and left quite some questions unanswered. But at least I knew what I did not know.

Second level

Take a break for a day or two before doing this. The L2 plotting requires you to zoom into each event/chapter and detail out how the events pans out, which character is introduced, what would he or she aim for and how it connects to the next event.

The L2 of my first chapter looked like this :

IMG_20170904_124833107

Again while at it,

  1. Devote not more than 10-12 mins for each event
  2. Note down and highlight the unanswered parts
  3. Liberally change the L1 Plot as your mind unravels the story

It took me a couple of days to complete L2 Plotting for Avishi. I noticed that new events (and characters) which I had not imagined in L1 phase came up and some old events had to be deleted. Some questions could be answered and new questions sprung up, demanding answers. All in all, the story was assuming a life of its own!

Take a break of another couple of days to dwell on these unanswered questions or even try keeping your mind off the novel for a while.

In the third phase, type the L2 on to a document on your laptop. Yes, I strongly advocate that you plot the first two stages in a journal. It has its benefits. When you type out the detailed plot on your laptop, you will again find some inevitable changes happening in the course of the story. The blind spots are narrowed down enough to not bother you when you are working on the other parts of the novel.

Now is when you actually start writing. The biggest advantage of this process is that you can write your draft in a non linear fashion, pick up the incomplete parts later and make changes as required. I have to reiterate that changes happen at every stage. (An event or two you see in the first image did not even appear in the draft in my case!). Changes and question marks are a sign that your characters are asserting themselves and it is good!  Needless to say, your confidence would have grown multi fold. You are now ready to begin the writing journey.

Happy Writing!

Do you have a plotting related experience that you would like to share? Please feel free to comment below.

 

 

 

Self Publishing at a glance

Thanks to the bubbly Richa Singh and her initiative #Blogchatter  which prodded me to write this post. I am to talk about Self Publishing in #Blogchatter’s Tweet-chat on Self Publishing tonight (8.30 PM IST).

On the process to be followed for Self-publishing our content, it is important to consider the process that traditional publishing houses follow. As much as some Self-published writers scorn their closeted tendencies, there is no denying that these traditional publishing houses have perfected the process of fine honing a manuscript and put a wonderful team together to package it as a great book.

For a better idea of the Publishing process, refer to this wonderful infographic  created by Floris Books. Now, it might look like a daunting process to take care of the multiple decision loops when we embark on a Self-Publishing journey. The good news about Self-publishing is that you, the creator of the content/manuscript make all the decisions. Only if you have your wits together while taking every leap. I gathered my insights and came up with this process chart which I hope would be helpful.Self Publishing process.png

Will try and update this post after tonight’s chat. I shall also keep modifying and be appending the chart and also look at publishing a post gathering various explanatory resources and blogs out there. Meanwhile, do send me your thoughts on where I can add or explain more.