Self-publishing requires many hats.

Self-publishing requires many hats.

By David Joel Miller.

Self-publishers must fill many roles.

Bumps on the Road of Life.

Bumps on the Road of Life.
By David Joel Miller

Self-published authors need many hats. Even if you pay someone to do some of these functions; you still need to spend time on that role. I continue to feel like I’m just at the beginning of my self-publishing career, but when I look back over my shoulder and see how far I have come, it’s incredible.

My first blog post was in May 2011. I continue to learn about blogging. The transition from blogger to published author has been a steep uphill climb. My first book, Bumps on the Road of Life, a nonfiction book about recovery when life knocks you down, was published in late October 2017. Bumps was followed a week later by my first novel Casino Robbery. My second novel, Sasquatch Attacks, was released in September 2018.

Through this process have learned a great many things but I have many things yet to learn. To be successful as an indie author, however you define success, requires learning and practicing a great many skills. Here are some of the skills I’ve been working on developing.

Self-published, indie authors, must become researchers.

Photo of Casino Robbery book

Casino Robbery.

Writing a nonfiction book requires a lot of research. I thought there would be less research needed when I started writing fiction. I have learned that if I didn’t do the research before I began to write, I was likely to have to stop in the middle of writing and do that research.

Whatever you put in your book you need to describe accurately. I have had to research locations for my settings, weather patterns, clothing, and a great many other details. I’m tempted to write a fantasy novel set somewhere in my imagination. But a preliminary outline for my fantasy already tells me I will need to spend a lot of time creating this world in minute detail, so I don’t have my characters doing things that aren’t consistent with that setting.

I continue to learn about how to research effectively and plan to write another blog post about the lessons I’ve learned about how to be an effective researcher.

Self-publishers need to be creative authors.

Sasquatch Attacks - cover On Amazon

Sasquatch Attacks – cover
On Amazon

You would think making things up, that would be easy. Lots of people lie every day. Creating fictional characters doing fictional actions turns out to be harder than I had imagined. My creative process continues to change. I started primarily by imagining my protagonists, putting them in a setting and then creating obstacles for them to overcome.

For me, this process of “writing into the dark” involved a lot of stopping and starting. I get my character to a setting, and then I must describe the location. Next, I set my protagonist to interact with other people. But who are these people?

Over the last year, I’ve written several additional novels which I hope to get published in 2019. I found that the most creative part for me now is writing the outline. For each chapter I plan to write, I think about where the action will take place, who will be there, and what the action will be. As I work my way through the outline ideas for other possibilities pop into my head. This requires going back and inserting the helper who will come to the protagonist aid in chapter 12 into earlier sections, so the reader won’t be surprised when this character appears.

Independent authors need to be extreme editor’s.

Sasquatch - cover On other platforms

Sasquatch – cover
On other platforms

I continue to learn about the process of editing. Editing is a lot more than running the manuscript through spellcheck and Grammarly, as valuable as those tools are. Editing also involves looking for the things that been left out and cutting out the unnecessary, boring parts. One challenge I encounter, when editing, is balancing the need for correct grammar with establishing authentic voices for my characters and the narrator.

You may decide that you need to hire an editor. I read a lot of self-published books, and some of them are so full of typos and errors that it makes them hard to read. Paying an editor to weed out all those typos can be expensive. Whether you elect to pay an editor or do the editing yourself the more errors you find and correct the better the final product will be.

Indie authors are also their own publisher.

The publishing function includes several tasks starting with formatting the manuscript for submission. The requirements for an e-book are enormously different from those from a paperback. E-books can contain links while the paperback edition requires complete information, including the URL.

In publishing your book, you need to decide whether to go exclusively with Amazon or “publish wide” so that your books will be available on other platforms such as Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Google Play, Apple iBooks, and so on. If you “publish wide” you will need multiple formatted manuscripts. You can’t include links to your books on one platform in a manuscript published on another platform.

My nonfiction book is currently available exclusively on Amazon. The two novels I published wide. One of those novels has sold predominantly on Amazon, while the other novel has sold almost entirely on the other platforms. I learned a lot of lessons by attempting to publish wide. The decision to publish exclusively on Amazon, or to go wide on other platforms is a complicated one. That decision requires a full blog post all on its own.

Self-published authors need covers for their books.

Many indie authors pay someone to design their covers. A good cover can help sell your book. I feel like I’m just in the “kindergarten” of learning book cover design. I have used Amazon’s cover creator and found it very helpful. I’ve also tried designing my own covers. Creating a good cover is a lot harder than it looks. I continue to learn about creating covers.

Indie authors need to be their own Promotions and Publicist person.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful once having written your book and uploaded it to a platform, if that book suddenly started selling? With so many books on the market, the challenge is to make your book discoverable. Promoting sales of your book is an ongoing challenge.

There’s a short description of some of the various skills I’ve been learning in my process of writing and publishing my own books. I’m sure I have a great deal more to learn. If you have questions for me about my writing and publishing journey feel free to ask.

Part of the promotion process is getting reviews for your book. Securing more reviews for the books I have published is one of the things on my “to do” list. Honest reviews help other people decide whether to purchase a book. If you have read one of my books and have not yet left a review, I would appreciate one.

You’ll find more posts on this topic under – Writing.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Three David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Sasquatch Attacks.

Sasquatch has discovered a hole in time and is preying on humans. Can two people lost in the desert survive?

The guests had come to Meditation Mountain to find themselves. Trapped in the Menhirs during a sudden desert storm, two guests move through a porthole in time and encounter long extinct monsters. They want to get back to their own time, but the Sasquatch wants to kill them.

Want the latest news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time. The newsletter started out to talk about mental health issues. I recently added some other categories. In addition to mental health, you can also sign up for newsletter updates about writing and my novels. You can sign up for any one of these lists or all 3.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

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Winter.

Sunday Inspiration.     Post by David Joel Miller.

Winter

Winter.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Winter.

“Winter is on my head, but eternal spring is in my heart.”

― Victor Hugo

“My old grandmother always used to say, Summer friends will melt away like summer snows, but winter friends are friends forever.”

― George R.R. Martin, A Feast for Crows

“And then her heart changed, or at least she understood it; and the winter passed, and the sun shone upon her.”

― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King

“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.” [Meditations Divine and Moral]”

― Anne Bradstreet, The Works of Anne Bradstreet

Wanted to share some inspirational quotes with you.  Today seemed like a good time to do this. If any of these quotes strike a chord with you, please share them.

Look at these related posts for more on this topic and other feelings.

Emotions and Feelings.

Inspiration

How do you create character names?

By David Joel Miller, MS, Writer.

Creating effective character names can be a challenge.

Man writing.

Writing.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

I struggle with the process of naming the characters in my novels. Because of those struggles, I have discovered a few tricks. Like most every aspiring writer, I was a reader first. Recently I’ve been doing a great deal of reading out loud to my family. In doing all this reading, I discovered that the way some authors name their characters create problems. First, let me tell you the things I try to avoid doing when naming characters and my solutions to these problems. At the end of this post, I will list a few resources that I use to create character names.

Don’t use character names that will confuse your readers.

I get very frustrated when I’m reading a book, and there is a group of characters who appear in a scene who all have exceedingly similar names. It’s very unclear to read about Betty, Barbara, Becky, and Bethany who meet a group of men named Daniel, Danny, Doug, and David. It takes the reader a while to get characters straight in their head. I try to avoid having two characters in the same novel whose names start with the same letter. When working on a novel I keep an alphabetical list of the characters, and I avoid multiple names which begin with the same letter.

Recently, during November, I began a first draft of a new novel scheduled to be published in the spring, which I’m titling “Planned Accidents.” This book will be episode two of the Arthur Mitchell Mysteries. Book one was Casino Robbery. I quickly discovered I had created two characters both named Howard, one in each book. Howard number two had to be renamed so that I don’t confuse readers who have read book one. I’m now convinced that I need to maintain a master list of characters for all the novels in a given series.

Avoid names that are gender confused.

Some names can either a male or a female. I’ve noticed a disturbing trend among some authors to use nicknames that shorten the character’s name. The protagonist’s name is Rhonda, but on the next page, people are talking about Ron. Ron is dating Dan though I can’t tell from the context if Dan is short for Daniel or Daniela.

Avoid names that readily call up a particular image.

Watch out for creating a bridge playing protagonist named Donald and then having to write a paragraph in which Donald bids both trumps and no trumps. Calling a boy wizard Harry Porter is a terrible idea. While it may feel like a shortcut to use a name that readily conjures up the image you’re looking for, using these kinds of names create inauthentic, cardboard characters.

Avoid names that sound too much like a real person.

Whenever I write a villain for a novel, after creating their name, I do a quick web search. I don’t know that I’ll catch every problem, but I don’t want to write an evil villain and accidentally use the name of a candidate who is currently running for political office. I also avoid names that are too close to recognizable historical figures or sports figures.

Avoid racial and ethnic stereotypes.

Have you’ve ever picked up a spy novel and noticed that all the characters have either German or Russian names? Do all the stories about organized crime appear to be filled with Italian surnames?

Avoid names that are hard to pronounce.

In this millennium a great many people are doing their “reading” by listening to audiobooks. I discovered from my family’s nightly reading aloud session, that some names look great on the page, easy to recognize. But it’s very frustrating to keep encountering words that are difficult to pronounce. I think writers should consider what their characters names will sound like when spoken aloud when choosing those names.

So, what are the solutions to all these naming problems?

  1. Maintain a master list of characters for your novel or series and don’t repeat similar sounding names.
  2. I often create the name first and then write the description and biography of that person. If you’ve already cast the character, it can be challenging to find the name that fits them.
  3. If you create a new name, do a web search to make sure you haven’t selected the name of a prominent person in some other country. Also, avoid creating names that have a negative meaning in some language you are not familiar with.

To create names, I use several sources.

Behind the name is helpful for finding first names. You can look at lists by gender, ethnic origin or merely browse the complete list, looking for a name that appeals to you. I’m currently working on an outline for a fantasy book, my first try at writing fantasy because the characters will have connections with medieval Europe I’m looking at various Old English and Scandinavian names for my characters.

For last names, I use a related website Surnames; behind the name.

Another useful resource comes from the census department. You can look at the top first names by the decade of birth. Here’s the link to the list of the top names from the 1880s.

Sometimes I mashed names up.

In the past, surnames were often created by taking the father’s first name and adding an ending. I created unique new names for some of my characters, by taking the first name from one ethnicity and combining it with an ending from a different nationality. Back in the 1970s a lot of parents were creating unique names for their children by altering the spelling or combining two first names. I do the same thing for some of my characters last names.

Any other ideas on how to create the perfect name for a fictional character?

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Three David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

SasquatchWandering through a hole in time, they encounter Sasquatch. Can they survive? The guests had come to Meditation Mountain to find themselves. Trapped in the Menhirs during a sudden desert storm, two guests move through a porthole in time and encounter long extinct monsters. They want to get back to their own time, but the Sasquatch intends to kill them.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Books are now available on Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Google Play, and many other online stores.

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

The difference in mental health services for youth and adults.

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

One size does not fit all.

Children

Children.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

When it comes to mental health services what’s needed and what’s actually provided can vary tremendously. Treatment for each client should be individualized.

Therapy for children needs to be appropriate for both their age and their developmental stage. There are also some differences in the way the counselor or therapist may need to approach treatment. In selecting a therapist, it’s important to find someone with both the training and experience required to work with the person receiving services. Here are some of the differences between mental health services for youth and adults.

The therapist needs to speak the same “language” as the child.

Children don’t have the vocabulary to describe feelings. Children often express themselves by actions rather than words. For very young children therapy is best done through speaking the language of “play.” How a child expresses themselves through action will change as they age.

What’s appropriate for a baby to say at age six months will be very different from what they should be saying at five years. The same is true of their behaviors and the way in which they play.

The therapist needs to consider “who is the client?”

Children are usually referred to therapy because an adult has either recognized the problem or is afraid the child may develop a problem. The counselor must consider whether the reason this child is in therapy is because the child is doing something an adult doesn’t want them to do or because they aren’t doing something the adult wants them to do.

More than one female single parent has brought their male offspring in for counseling because they did not want that child to “be just like their father.” In these cases, often the father was either physically abusive, drug-addicted, or engaged in criminal activity. Unfortunately, being told repeatedly that you are “just like your father” can be extremely damaging to the child’s development.

A similar problem happens when male parents are raising female children and, in their effort, to prevent their daughters developing sexuality, they continually accuse the daughter of promiscuity “just like your mother.”

In cases like these, where a parent is projecting their own issues and negative life experiences on to their children, the counselor tries to help the child develop the skills to make their own healthy choices. Frequently, what needs to happen is for the parent to get into therapy for their issues and for help in becoming a more effective parent.

The counselor will at most see the child for an hour a week, while the parent will provide the care for that child for 167 other hours each week.

Lifespan development issues are important.

If a child isn’t hitting their developmental milestones, walking, talking, learning schoolwork and appropriate behavior on time, this warrants a referral to medical or mental health professionals. Unfortunately, many parents have unrealistic expectations for their child. Parents often push their children to do things that they are not developmentally ready for. I’ve had parents request that their child be assessed for ADHD because the child was getting B grades instead of straight A’s.

Children may be afraid to tell the truth.

While the child is often the one identified as having the problem, it’s entirely possible the problem is with the home situation. Children who grow up in a home where parents have frequent violent fights may be awake all night. When they go to school, they can’t concentrate because of their lack of sleep and their fears about what is going on at home while they’re at school. If they witnessed domestic violence, they might learn to use hitting as a way to get what they want.

While the child is referred for assessment for attention problems the real issue may lie with the parents. Children are afraid to report problems at home for fear that their parents will punish them or that they may be taken away from their parents.

Many children are taught not to talk to strangers and to never talk about families “business” outside the family. Children from lower socioeconomic status homes may be embarrassed. Children may have been instructed not to talk about parents who are engaged in illegal activity, or they may be reluctant to talk about having a parent or caregiver who is incarcerated.

Many problems are not identified until the child gets older.

I see many files for teenagers in which they were treated in the early grades for developmental issues. Later they were treated for attention deficits. In middle school and high school, they may have been treated for bad behavior. It’s not until late high school or college that some of these clients are diagnosed with severe depression.

It’s important that anyone working with children not write off poor attention and behavioral problems as a result of “bad child” diagnoses. A specialist in child developmental issues should be looking for serious mental health issues such as anxiety disorders and depression.

Children may need help in developing life skills.

Counselors working the children must be careful not to think that it’s the child who has the problem. Sometimes what the child needs are the skills to cope with a dysfunctional family and a challenging world. Social skills are tough for some children to develop. The majority of adults who develop anxiety disorders had the symptoms by the end of middle school.

Counselors may need to normalize the challenges of growing up. Most children go through a stage of feeling insecure and worrying about whether they measure up. Helping the young client through the transition periods can reduce or possibly even prevent the development of anxiety disorders, eating disorders, and other mental health problems that are the result of judging themselves in overly negative ways.

These are some of the major differences between working with children and adults. The techniques and materials the counselor uses are also likely to be different. Please feel free to leave additional questions or comments.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Three David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

SasquatchWandering through a hole in time, they encounter Sasquatch. Can they survive? The guests had come to Meditation Mountain to find themselves. Trapped in the Menhirs during a sudden desert storm, two guests move through a porthole in time and encounter long extinct monsters. They want to get back to their own time, but the Sasquatch intends to kill them.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Books are now available on Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Google Play, and many other online stores.

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

Motivation.

Sunday Inspiration.     Post by David Joel Miller.

Motivation

Motivation.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Motivation.

“Do you want to know who you are? Don’t ask. Act! Action will delineate and define you.”

― Thomas Jefferson

“Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four hour days.”

― Zig Ziglar

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”

― Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

Wanted to share some inspirational quotes with you.  Today seemed like a good time to do this. If any of these quotes strike a chord with you, please share them.

Look at these related posts for more on this topic and other feelings.

Emotions and Feelings.

Inspiration

The Muse Doesn’t Nag.

By David Joel Miller, MS, Writer.

You must grab the ideas while they fly past.

I don’t understand the term writer’s block.

Man writing.

Writing.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

I’ve read many blog posts, even some passages in books on writing, where the author describes sitting at the keyboard waiting for the Muse to say something. My problem is not that the Muse refuses to talk to me. My problem is she never shuts up. Sometimes she whispers in my ear, and sometimes she shouts. My biggest challenge in learning to write has been learning to listen to her carefully.

I have pages of notes about the things the Muse says.

Every time I sit quietly for a few minutes, the Muse starts talking. You should write a blog post about loneliness, jealousy or anger. She goes on and on about the posts I should write. Sometimes the Muse starts to tell me a story about a character who went to this city and got this kind of job and then something else happened. Then she hints that this would be an excellent topic for a novel. If I let these words of wisdom sit too long, they evaporate faster than a light rain on the parking lot during a desert summer.

Most times I hear the Muse speak, not every time, but most of the time, I open a word document, type in the title of this great work, and save it to my projects-to-work-on file. The problem comes the next time I open the file. There’s the title or the idea, but I don’t remember what it was the Muse was talking about.

I studied what others have said about communicating with their Muse.

One source reported they didn’t believe in writer’s block. The rationale was that writing is a profession and professions don’t get blocked. You don’t hear about truckers complaining about trucker’s block or doctors having doctor’s block. I get that idea, but sometimes when I get behind the keyboard and take off for a trip, I end up going down the wrong highway and getting lost.

Another source said the Muse once told her a story.

This writer, I have forgotten who it was, maybe one of you can fill in the source here. Anyway, this writer told the story of the Muse presenting her with an idea, but she never got around to writing the book. Years later, at a conference, this writer ended up on a panel and, lo and behold, someone else on that panel had written that book.

I have this experience a lot. I open a partially done article but can’t remember what the Muse told me to write here. I close that piece up and work on a different one. Frequently what happens is in the next day’s email I find a post written by someone else about precisely that topic.

My muse doesn’t like to repeat herself.

What I’ve learned from this is that when the idea enters my brain, however, you conceptualize the origin of that idea, I had better act. Once the idea is upon me if I don’t get to writing that article or book in a speedy time frame, that idea begins to fade. Eventually, the idea becomes so faint that even my partially completed document won’t bring it back.

Sometimes the Muse babbles.

Occasionally I’m sitting in my chair trying to relax, perhaps trying to finish one of those half-read books, and then out of nowhere the Muse suddenly starts yakking, and she won’t stop. Occasionally I try to ignore her, but as most men my age will tell you, ignore a woman at the risk of imperiling your life.

I hastily try to scribble down as many of the things as I can from the Muses to do list, knowing I will never be able to write all her directives down and even if I did she was talking so fast I wouldn’t be sure what she meant by some of the things she said.

I suppose if you must have a problem with your Muse is better to have one who talks constantly than one who gives you the cold shoulder.

Thanks for listening to me yet one more time.

You’ll find more posts on this topic under – Writing.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Three David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

SasquatchWandering through a hole in time, they encounter Sasquatch. Can they survive? The guests had come to Meditation Mountain to find themselves. Trapped in the Menhirs during a sudden desert storm, two guests move through a porthole in time and encounter long extinct monsters. They want to get back to their own time, but the Sasquatch intends to kill them.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Books are now available on Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Google Play, and many other online stores.

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.