Sunday, September 26, 2010


There are a lot of long-held beliefs about artists that get in our way.  For me, one of the worst of them is the idea of the artist as an anti-social lone voice in the wilderness.

We see the genius, hard at his or her work, despised by all others, fighting against all odds to eventually triumph over the forces of "normality" and ignorance--many times after their tragic death.  It's lonely.  It's a battle.  It's epic.

It's kinda silly.

I've used Shakespeare before as an example.  I'm going to do so again, humbly begging your pardon while doing so.  Yes, I think Shakespeare was a genius.  No, I don't think you need to in order to understand what I'm talking about.

Whether or not you enjoy Shakespeare's works, he gives us a model we can look to.  He was a writer.  He was very successful during his own lifetime (in spite of what you may have heard).  He collaborated.

Shakespeare collaborated with other great writers of his day, most notably Christopher Marlowe and Thomas Fletcher.  My guess is that he learned something from each person he worked with, and I'm certain they learned something from him.

Our process doesn't have to be lonely or in the dark.  Working with someone else can elevate our writing, but it can also help us to identify our weaknesses, bringing them into stark relief.  Once we see them (usually one of the biggest problems artists have while viewing their own work), we can do something about fixing them.

The other thing it can do is to double our audience.  You bring yours and I'll bring mine, and together we can put on quite a party.

@IndieBookIBC is taking that kind of thinking to the next level.  It's a marketing collective for all you writers out there.  If you haven't done it already, you need to check that stream out.  In addition, the work we (Zero to Sold) do for writers, filmmakers and screenwriters...creating trailers, cover/poster art and press another type of collaboration that is truly a win-win.  Go take a look at to see some examples of how we can work together to really get your work out in the public eye.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Indie Book Collective

So, you're a writer.  You have written, or are writing, or are about to write a novel.  You have now, or are seeking, or hope to one day obtain a publishing deal.  You are in the process of, or are preparing for, or are thinking about selling many many many copies of your book.

In other words, you need the Indie Book Collective.

Let's be honest with each other.  Unless you're a name author (and as flattering as it would be to think a name author is following my blog, I like to keep it real), selling your novel is tough.  You may be able to get it polished, packaged and ready to go with a fair amount of work and a fairly steep learning curve.  But selling lots of copies?  You're going to need some help.

Even if you have a traditional publishing deal, the house simply is not going to pony up the marketing budget for a beginning writer.  You need to make it happen yourself.  That's where the Collective comes in.

The Indie Book Collective had a wonderfully successful launch last Monday (9/13), but we're trying to get the word out to every writer that's serious about promoting.

The IBC is a group of writers, from both traditional publishing house and indie digital markets.  We promote our novels through a combination of social media platforms and brick-and-mortar bookstores.  We're getting our stuff out there!

How are we doing it?  Well, it's too involved to give you all the details here, but you can go to the website to get the whole picture.  Also, if you're on Twitter (and if you aren't, you should be), follow @IndieBookIBC.  But the snapshot is this:  cross-promotion.

The essence of cross-promotion is that if people like your book they may like well as the reverse.  Add in a bunch of other writers, and all of the sudden we're reaching a vastly greater number of potential readers.

The core members of the Collective are all successful indie writers themselves that have already stumbled through the process on their own.  Now, they're sharing information with you, so that your process can be much smoother.

So go to the website.  Follow the stream.  Get on board the Collective train.

'Cuz, baby, this engine's going somewhere fast, and you'll want to be along for the ride!

Oh, and just to get a little idea of what the Collective can help do for you...check out Plain Jane here at Smashwords.  Watch the trailer, listen to the excerpt and read 50 pages for free before you purchase!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Going out on a Limb...or Maybe Not

At some point, it seems that many artists get to a crossroads.  It seems painful or traumatic...usually somewhat epic, but it feels like life asks us to make a decision about whether or not we're going to live by our art.

It usually takes the form of having to choose between keeping our full-time job and continuing our creative work (that in these moments normally doesn't pay well enough for us to quit our full-time jobs).  We feel stuck.  Our focus is more and more on our art and less and less on our paying gig.  Our boss notices.  Things reach a head.

So, first things first.  If you're not there, you don't have to get there.  I truly believe that a good portion of this is our subconscious trying to scuttle the whole "living by our art" thing.  Most of us have some pretty negative voices in our heads about that whole deal, and success isn't really part of it.

In other words, focusing on our art is not an excuse for checking out of our "real" jobs.  They're paying the bills.  Writing or filming or painting or acting or whatever it is that you're doing is MUCH easier with the bills paid.  Period.

Now, if you do find yourself in this position, don't panic.  Stop.  Breathe.  Life isn't necessarily asking you to make a choice between these two things.  Before you storm out in a huff, yelling back over your shoulder that you'll succeed or starve, remember that starving does strange things to the creative process...not many of them good.

Find the third option.  It's not a compromise.  It's not trying to reconcile the two seemingly opposing choices.  It's finding a way forward that honors our need to survive but also recognizes our desire to create.

I'm not saying you should never give up that day job.  I'm just saying to stop and breathe before you make a rash decision.  We should never make a decision based on fear.  Giving up our art so that we can survive is a fear-based decision.  Storming out of the day-job so we can "suffer for our art" is too.  Art doesn't demand our suffering.  It may ask for us to be more creative in how we manage our lives, but it doesn't want us to be in pain.

So, maybe instead of going out on that limb, we can climb back down the tree, go inside and fix ourselves a nice cup of hot we sit down to begin creating again.  'Cause that day job starts early, and we do need our beauty sleep. :)