I have the pleasure of hosting author S.D. Skye on the blog today, discussing her path to publishing.
Some people are born knowing they are writers and take a straight and direct path to publishing. Other people have no idea what they are meant to be and eventually discover their writing talent—their path is a little more curvy. Yet, others know they want to become writers but don’t really believe they have the talent or skill to do it—their path to writing looks a bit like a Rorschach chart.
I fall in the latter category.
I didn’t write my first novel until just before my 40th birthday. I’ve now been in the business 6 years, written 8 novels—two of which were published by a Big 5 publishing house. I’ve seen observed a lot of changes in the industry over the past few years. Here are two things that I personally had to overcome on my path to becoming a published author—and how I conquered them.
1. Getting out of my own way.
The negative self talk will keep you from achieving your dreams. I kept saying things like “I don’t have an English degree” or “I don’t have the time” or “I don’t have the talent. How can I be successful when there are writers like fill in the blank out there?” That’s the main reason I didn’t write my first non-school-related piece of fiction until I neared my 40th birthday. Something about turning 40 and having that “what do I want to be when I grow up” moment gives you courage you never had before.
How did I conquer this self talk?
I stopped comparing myself to others and simply allowed myself to sit down and write. Even more important was allowing myself to write BADLY. I figured if it sucked, nobody ever had to see it. None would be the wiser because I didn’t tell anyone—not at first. I mean, if the world ended every time someone wrote a bad book, we would experience the Book of Genesis at least 500,000 times a year. So my advice to everyone is—Write Crap. Fix later.
2. Learning the business of publishing.
Getting that MBA instead of the Master of Fine Art proved to be more helpful on the business side of publishing than the creative side. My first book was initially self-published before it got picked up by a Big 5 publisher. Self publishing at that time (2009) was a MUCH more daunting feat than today, still largely frowned upon by the publishing industry and readers alike at the time. But after getting rejected time and time again by literary agents with no light at the end of a very dark tunnel, I had a “come to Jesus” moment and decided that I would self publish—with the idea that I would win over readers one at a time if that’s what it took, but I believed my work had something to offer.
With that choice, I had to learn to make smart decisions about how to build my business, printing, buying ISBNs, creating my own publishing company/imprint versus using publishing services, finding out about distribution and how to get my books on the shelves, etc. etc.
When I finally got a publishing deal, I had to learn about literary agents and how they got paid, advances and royalties and how they worked. What do those percentages really mean (net vs gross)? What happens to my rights during publishing? And most importantly, what happens to my rights when the book goes out of print? What are deadlines and what happens if I don’t meet them?
How did I conquer this problem?
Lots and lots and lots of research! I bought many of the popular books on publishing, Googled like crazy, and I didn’t stop researching until I had all of the answers to these questions at a minimum. So many authors have lost thousands of dollars in bad deals and strategies that I created a blog to help-CheapIndieAuthors.blogspot.com.
Bottom Line: There’s nothing you need to know about the business of publishing that you can’t find in a book or via Google. And the more research you do, the better you get at asking the right questions.
by S.D. Skye
IN THE GAME OF ESPIONAGE, SPY TAKES TRAITOR.
J.J. MCCALL TAKES OVER.
The FBI and Italian Mafia make strange bedfellows when a vicious Russian Organized crime figure, operating at the behest of Russian Intelligence, lands in The Big Apple. The Russian intelligence hench-man, infamously known as Mashkov, avenges the death of slain a Russian sleeper agent and accidentally hits the son of an Italian crime boss, sending J.J. and Task Force Phantom Hunter to the streets of New York. They are stepping into a possible war between Russian and Italian organized crime factions, while trying to dismantle the financial hub of the most insidious Russian illegals network in U.S. History.
Meanwhile, CIA Case Officer Grayson “Six” Chance is in Moscow trying to capture a fugitive American who has stolen White House intelligence and is planning to pass it to the Russians—putting Six in a moral dilemma he may not be prepared to handle.
And when J.J. finally learns the truth surrounding her mother's death in the line of duty, her life may never be the same.
If you enjoy this book, you will love Book 1--The Seven Year Itch (A J.J. McCall Novel) and Book 2 -- Son of a Itch(A J.J. McCall Novel).
“THE SUPREME ART OF WAR IS TO SUBDUE THE ENEMY WITHOUT FIGHTING.” ~ SUN TZU
Fear, failure, and the fear of failure turned enemies into friends like nothing else in the convoluted world of intelligence and spying. No doubt the reason FBI representatives had been summoned to the Russian Embassy in Washington.
"We'll need a dump truck for the BS about to be heaped on us today," J.J. whispered to her co-case agent, Tony Donato. As the lead case agent behind the ruckus, she'd been ordered to attend the meeting, listen, and respond to nothing.
"Shhh," Tony whispered in reply. "The walls have ears."
Resident Andrei Komarov, the Russian equivalent to the CIA Station Chief in Moscow, led J.J., Tony, and Assistant Director of Counterintelligence John Nixon through the hallowed embassy halls until they reached a well-appointed conference room. It contained mahogany-paneled walls, large open armchairs, and an oversized table large enough to seat Komarov's ego and attitude, both massive in her past experience.
Komarov settled in at the head of the table, his face reddened and contorted. It was as if every word he was about to speak, no doubt carefully selected by the Foreign Minister, would sear his throat and exit his lips like sharpened razors carving him from the inside.
"We've all met before and are quite familiar with one another," Komarov began, shooting a slicing glare through J.J. "So, I'll feel free to dispense with the introductions and pleasantries since we all understand why we are here today." Her aggressive targeting of SVR officers for recruitment was legendary...or infamous, depending on which side of the table you sat. She suppressed the awe she felt. He was the personification of the Russian James Bond in looks, dress, and devoid of any semblance of accent.
J.J., Tony, and Nixon exchanged strained glances before she took a deep breath to brace herself. Komarov was about to progress through the four steps of surviving a massive operational failure.
Step 1: Admit nothing.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
S.D. Skye is a former FBI Counterintelligence Analyst in the Russia program and supported cases during her 12-year tenure at the Bureau. She has personally witnessed the blowback the Intelligence Community suffered due to the most significant compromises in U.S. history, including the arrests of former CIA Case Officer Aldrich Ames and two of the Bureau's own—FBI Agents Earl Pitts and Robert Hansen. She has spent 20 years in the U.S. Intelligence Community.
Skye is a member of the Maryland Writer’s Association, Romance Writers of America, and International Thriller Writers. She’s addicted to writing and chocolate—not necessarily in that order—and currently lives in the Washington D.C. area with her son. Skye is hard at work on several projects, including the next installment of the series.
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