Top Ten Life Lessons I learned from Fantasy Books

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It takes a library to raise a reader. Like many of us, books played a big role in developing me as a person. I picked up so many bits of wisdom over the years, especially from Fantasy books. These lessons made me a kinder person, more forgiving, and expanded my mind so much…I will be forever grateful.

1. No such thing as hopeless.

To me, The Lord of the Rings has one of the best “all is lost” moments in literature. In the midst of enemy territory with strength fading, it seems Frodo and Sam could never get the Ring into Mt. Doom. But because Sam keeps fighting to keep his promise and because Frodo followed his conscience to spare Gollum, they succeed.

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In the end, the Ring is destroyed and Sauron defeated not so much because of great feats, but the actions of a few determined individuals who stick to their beliefs. And in the end, what are we without belief?

2. Sometimes parents/mentors/role models fail us…and that’s okay.

In The Jackal of Nar by John Marco, Prince Richius is on a campaign ordered by the empire when he is cut off by his father in enemy territory. While it is a horrible thing to abandon your only child and his soldiers, we find out why later on.

Richius’s country couldn’t support the war. The only way his father could stop the war was to have Richius lose through no fault of his own, else the empire would kill them both.

Sometimes our parents do things or make fantastic blunders that screw us over, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t trying to do what was best. While that doesn’t invalidate the hurt or damage caused, I try to remember that.

3. You never know what someone’s going through.

From the perspective of the Wizarding World, Harry Potter seemed to have it all, didn’t he? Fame, a fat inheritance, a Hogwarts headmaster convinced he could do no wrong.

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But his close friends and we the readers know the truth. His abusive muggle childhood, possible PTSD after Cedric Diggory’s death, and the huge weight of expectations that came with being the Chosen One…that’s a lot to throw at a kid. Knowing that, I don’t really blame him for being an occasional jerk, but most people in the story had no clue.

4. You WILL find love again.

While I am extremely salty about the sinking of my Throne of Glass ship, I do like that Sarah J. Maas does away with the “one true love” trope. While I absolutely believe there is a special someone for everyone, it doesn’t have to be the first person you fall in love with.

This took so much pressure out of dating and I’m glad I finally realized it.

5. Animals’ lives are important, too.

In The Inheritance Cycle, the elves are vegetarians because they can read the minds of animals and can’t stomach the thought of killing them. At the time, I was sort of ambivalent to this, but it stayed in my mind. Animals experience pain and fear, too.

Nine years and lots of internal debates later, I can’t stomach it, either.

DISCLAIMER: Vegetarianism was a decision I made based off my own feelings. I don’t want people to think I’m trying to impose that on anyone else. “You do you,” as they say.

6. Power is complicated.

It’s really easy to look at politicians, CEO’s, principles, or anyone in power and wonder how stupid they must be. In Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson, the evil dictator is overthrown. In the sequel, the starry-eyed revolutionaries now have to run the world they liberated. Equality and safety for all citizens sounds easy, but it’s really not.

The main characters soon learn there are rules for power that limit the good even the best leader can do.  The rules bind every person who holds any position of power. This does not excuse rulers for unethical or immoral behavior, certainly. I do, however, try to remember that they are all just humans attempting to balance a wide array of interests, needs, and wants of many others.

7. The environment is important. 

In the world of Armania in King’s Folly by Jill Williamson, the witches have mined ahvenrood, the source of their power, for centuries. The mining has left the land riddled with holes, prone to spontaneous sinkholes. Fossil fuels, anyone? Because the witches weren’t concerned with the health of the land, the entire freaking continent sinks and is flooded.

We have to take care of the world we have. We only get one.

8. Your enemies are people, too.

I am mad at George R.R. Martin for many things. One of his worst grievances was humanizing Cirsei. Cirsei, the murdering, lying, peasant-slaughtering bastard that she is.

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In A Clash of Kings, when she receives word that Jaime has been captured, she cries. Cirsei cries. That made me feel terrible. I mean, this evil woman has a heart! And she loves her children! How am I supposed to handle a bad person with wholly justifiable and relatable feelings??? 

The lesson I learned was that even people I hate have souls.

9. Hate is usually born from pain.

Shadowmarch by Tad Williams was a series that got me through that first year of my parents’ divorce. In it, the country of Southmarch is invaded by fairies from the north. Highly racist fairies who hate humanity with a passion. I tore through the first two books eagerly, waiting to see the fairies get their comeuppance.

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We then come to learn that the fairies are dying off because a Southmarch ruler couldn’t keep his pants on. They’re also technically fighting the same world-ending power, expecting to die, and I can’t really blame them for hating the humans so much. Even if the humans alive now had nothing to do with it. This taught me to think maybe I should ask more questions when people are bitter. You never know what they’ve been through.

10. If a romance doesn’t work, that doesn’t mean either person is a bad person.

Queen Cassandra and King Akeela in The Eyes of God by John Marco are both splendid people. They’re both kind, loving, and want what’s best for their countries. Unfortunately, Cassandra falls in love with Akeela’s best friend and then the world ends. (I’m only partly joking.)

The thing is, it wasn’t really because either of them was the villain (in the beginning, at least). There can be two amazing people who just don’t work. It happens. And that’s okay. Seriously, this whole book is about the consequences of trying to force a relationship.

What are some life lessons you’ve learned from books?

Reading Trash (aka Romance)

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Sometimes a woman just wants to read trash, you know? Or at least something considered trash.

I am speaking of Romance novels, naturally. While I’ve yet to read anything hotter than Rhiannon Paille or Erica Stevens, if you ask most literature professors…yeah, it’s trash.

Then again, what makes a book trash? Poor mechanics? Cheesy euphemisms? Bad spelling? Crappy dialogue? While Romance novels have been guilty of all this and more, so has every other genre. It begs the question, do we assume Romance novels are trash because they are Romance novels?

While the Harlequin section at Book People can still make me avert my eyes, I don’t think steamy content makes books trash. I mean, plenty of what we consider “great literature” now was borderline porn back in the day.

I personally fluctuate between the purist “I am an Epic Fantasy reader who only wants romance as a side plot” and “give me all the abs.” It depends on my mood and mindset at the time.

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I had the great fortune of a literature professor who doesn’t believe in “high” and “low” art. Something she said in class got me thinking: what makes literature “worthwhile”? If you really think about it, all the qualifiers (besides obvious mechanics) for “worthwhile” literature are based in some form of prejudice, be it classism, racism, or sexism.

Shakespeare was once not worth studying because his audience was the peasantry. For the longest time, all the “universally relatable” works of literature were written by and about white guys because it was white guys in academia making the call. Meanwhile, Romance is considered garbage because it caters to women’s fantasies and no “great works” EVER did that for men.

What do you think makes a book trash? 

May 2017: Editing and VIKINGS EVERYWHERE

Between existential crises, minor panic attacks, and angry rants against my state’s legislature, I am carrying on.While the plot structure of Human is still kicking my ass, The Temple of Tarkoth is in its final round of editing. Human is slated for release June 13 and The Temple of Tarkoth for September 12. Do you see the problem? GAH.

Daindreth’s Assassin is currently under query to Entangled Teen, so we’ll see how that goes. *crosses all fingers and toes* I’ve heard great things about them from their authors and I’m really hoping!

Currently, I am staying with my grandmother in Poulsbo, WA. This sleepy little town of around 10,000 is just outside Seattle overlooking Liberty Bay. If nothing else, they have plenty of art galleries, coffee houses, and bookstores.

I have befriended the local used bookstore owner, Charlie, who recommended the Earthsea Cycle by Ursula K. Le Guin. These babies were published in the 60’s and 70’s, but are original, complex, racially diverse, feminist…why the hell haven’t I heard of them before?

Speaking of Poulsbo, this weekend was Poulsbo’s Viking Fest. Kind of like Cinco de Mayo, but instead of pretending to be Mexican, everyone pretends to be Norweigan. (And that viking was the main livelihood of the Norweigan tribes, but whatever.)

In other news, I have started a political blog, The Wheatley Write-Up. That’s right. I’ve been meaning to do it for some time, but the events described in my inaugural blog post pushed me over the edge.

Now if you’ll excuse me, there are edits to be made and public policies to be analyzed. Until next week!

Somebody’s Villain

We are all the heroes of our own stories, major characters in others, passing cameos, and villains.

Depending on the person, this might just mean being “that guy” who cuts in traffic, the bank employee who foreclosed on a house, or someone who unknowingly dropped a banana peel on the street while taking out the trash. You don’t have to do it on purpose. In fact, I think that most times we don’t.

Good people are villains, too. Good people do bad things just as bad people do good things.

Sometimes, we become villains trying to do the right thing. Sometimes it’s just selfishness or even a combination of both. If a solution is sort of workable and suits us personally, we like to convince ourselves it’s the best one. Other times, we don’t feel like we have a choice in what we do.

Military personnel, no matter where they are from, do a lot of bad things. Horrible, horrible things. That’s how war works.

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I had to make peace with the fact that people I love and look up to have been villains in other countries. They did atrocious things, but they did it trying to protect themselves and their fellow soldiers.

Can I blame them for that? In the heat of the moment with my life and the lives of my friends at stake, would I really have done different?

Other times, people get so locked into a binary that they don’t see room for compromise. Especially in politics. We give up trying to find the ideal solution, get so wrapped up in our own heads, we forget the other “side” genuinely wants to do the right thing, too.

You can have the poor rely on the government or let them starve. You can help people in your own country or the rest of the world. You can force grandma to sell her house and stick her in a nursing home or abandon her to live alone.

Nobody stops to think maybe both solutions are wrong. It’s far easier to blame someone else, to make them the antagonist to our own reality.

By circumstance or choice, we are all somebody’s villain.

Review: A Shade of Blood (A Shade of Vampire, #2) by Bella Forrest @AShadeOfVampire

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Having been delighted by the bestselling debut, A Shade Of Vampire, readers are begging for more. In A Shade Of Blood, Bella Forrest transports you deeper into a unique, enthralling and beautifully sensitive story. Prepare to be lost in its pages…

When Sofia Claremont was kidnapped to a sunless island, uncharted by any map and ruled by the most powerful vampire coven on the planet, she believed she’d forever be a captive of its dark ruler, Derek Novak.

Now, after months of surviving an endless night, the morning sun may soon rise again for Sofia. Something has possessed Derek’s heart and he offers her a gift no human slave has ever been given in the history of his cursed island: escape.

High school, prom and a chance to move on with her life now await her.

But will she be able to forget the horrors that steal her sleep away at night? … or the feelings that haunt her for that tormented prince of darkness?

Blurb and cover from Goodreads

4 out of 5 stars

Like I said, the first book ended in a cliffhanger and I kind of had to read this one after I finished. The cliffhanger is resolved relatively early on and not the way I (or pretty much anyone) would want it resolved, so I had to keep reading to see if things would change for the way I wanted.

The plot:

This book was torture because I got so wrapped up in the characters and how things were going to turn out and it seemed everything was going the exact opposite of the way I wanted it to. Suspense was done very well here, but I came very close to giving it up several times because I was getting emotionally overwhelmed, but in the end it, my persistence paid off. There’s a massive twist in here about both Sofia’s parents and I confess I didn’t see the one about her mother coming. And yes, this book ends in a cliffhanger, too. Sorry, the author seems to like them.

The characters:

From the beginning, I wanted to demand “Why, Sofia? WHHHYYYYYYYY?!?!?!?!?!?!” But when we finally get her answer, I thought her decision made perfect sense and even though I spent the first half of the book hating it, I respected it. She goes through a lot of self-discovery in this book and has to decide what she wants, who she wants, and what she’s willing to do for who she loves. This book had a lot of growing pains, but they were necessary.

Derek kind of goes nuts in here. Without Sofia, he’s heartbroken and unaccountable and becomes something of a cruel, brutal wretch. There were lots of parts where I thought someone really needed to beat the crap out of him and some sense into him, especially at this one part toward the end of the book. That part made me mad. But I still care about him as a character and wanted things to work out for him and Sofia.

Ben ticked me off to no end. I pitied him greatly for everything that happened to him in book 1 and all the psychological and physical consequences he’s suffering, but I still felt he didn’t have a right to act the way he did. He and Sofia give their relationship as boyfriend/girlfriend a go and while he showed he could be sweet and caring, his inner monologues show what a twisted double standard he has for himself and her. He expected to have his meaningless flings with the high school hussies while Sofia was supposed to wait for him to end up with her. And let’s not forget to mention all the crap about him trying to seduce her on prom night. Then he goes and says he hopes Derek isn’t “taking advantage of her.” Oh, you mean like you tried to, sweetheart? You DO NOT get to play the boy-slut then get mad because she chooses someone else. IT DOESN’T WORK THAT WAY!!!

Lucas goes AWOL after the end of A Shade of Vampire, now on the run for his life. He’s still obsessed with Sofia, but needs to seek sanctuary with another coven before he does anything about it. Thus his villainy takes a backseat for this story.

I do recommend this series for lovers of YA PNR and despite the cliffhanger, the ending was satisfactory and I have downloaded the next two books.

Find A Shade of Blood on Goodreads

Find A Shade of Blood on Amazon

Find A Shade of Blood on BN.com

Complexity of Death

Death is complicated. I don’t think most people realize how complicated.

Death in mainstream media is contorted and distorted. The vast majority of books, movies, and TV series show this odd idea of death, this sanitized ideal. We separate ourselves from it, dismiss it, or justify it. 

The proverbial “red shirt” in literature occurs so often that death on the page or the screen hardly bothers most of us anymore.

When horrible things happen to villains, we don’t care. When horrible things happen to a hero, we take it as license for them to do horrible things to the villains back. 

Death doesn’t discriminate. It’s not like in the stories and video games, where the bad guys seem to be made of paper and the hero/heroine is forged from kevlar. People who mean something to you are no more resilient than those just like them across the world you’ll never meet. In a way, that’s good because on average people aren’t any more likely to be hurt when you care about them. (Unlike every protagonist’s parents ever.) But you can’t will someone to live by caring about them.

Death doesn’t care who you love or hate. 

Death is at once so easy and so difficult. People can survive being run over by cars, being shot/stabbed multiple times, being hit in the head with baseball bats (while remaining conscious through it all). 

At the same time, death is simple. A single bullet through the heart of a deer, pulping its heart muscle, kills it. The rest of that deer’s body can be in perfect condition, but break it in one tiny place and that life is gone forever. 

There are so many considerations, so many things that can prolong, delay, or expedite a demise. 

And I’m not even touching the legal implications of someone dying.

Death is complicated.

End of an Era

My grandfather passed away a week ago today.

I didn’t find out until late Thursday night. I had been experiencing panic attacks since the previous week and my whole family decided to keep it a secret until my finals at uni were over.

I was the last one to know.

As a grandchild, I mourn him as the only consistent father figure in my life. He and my grandmother are the reason I was able to afford uni at all and he always had the backs of my mom, my aunt, my brothers, my cousins, and me.

He was a good son, good brother, and he tried to be a good husband.

As a writer, I mourn the loss of his stories. The man served 7 tours in Vietnam as a Green Beret and then as a pilot. He grew up on a farm during the tail end of the Great Depression and remembered when plows were pulled by horses.

There’s a city ordinance in Port Angeles, Washington that forbids the landing of helicopters in residential yards. Why? Because my grandfather once landed a helicopter in a residential yard.

*This is Grandpa with a Mohawk from Vietnam. Not what was landed in his aunt’s yard.

The man hunted moose in Alaska during the dead of winter and single-handedly laid tile for the whole of my parents’ first house.

As a young soldier, he was stationed in Japan where he met a cute young woman working a ticket booth. He kept asking her out until, to his shock, she said yes. Last year, we celebrated their 60th anniversary. It would have been their 61st in barely a month.

I guess a part of me saw this coming. He was 80 years old and his health had been in decline for some time.

It still hurts. I still love him with all my heart and I can only pray I will see him in Heaven.

I’m going to be spending the next month with my grandmother since all the other adults are in school or working after the funeral. The funeral is Wednesday and we have a lot of preparation to do before then.

Pre-Vacation Book Packing Struggles

I’m flying out for Japan on Tuesday which means at least 20+ hours of flying and 6+ hours of train rides.

This is the longest trip of my life and I am unspeakable excited. Not only am I going to Japan (I mean, JAPAN), but that’s approximately 30 hours of potential reading time ahead of me.

Ergo, I am faced with the exhilarating, yet frustrating task of packing books. I have decided to limit everything to my Kindle for space and luggage reasons. That narrows it down a little, but not much. My Kindle gets intermittent WiFi connection, so it’s not like I can download at will during the trip without a USB and laptop.

I have close to 600 eBooks and I’ve only read about a fourth of them. I feel terrible about this, especially because so many of them are from authors I know, who are waiting for reviews, and/or books I’ve wanted to give a go for weeks, months, years a long time!

I mean, there’s the second book in the Reign of Secrets series and I loved the first one. Then there’s the 7th book in Erica Steven’s The Captive  series or her Kindred series…those are badass, too. Not to mention Deathless, Snow White’s Revenge, Ironhand, Hand of Fire, Voices of Blood, The Blind Dragon, Blazed Union, Mortal Enchantment, and an ARC of AsylumAAAAAAHHHHHH!!! I will never be able to read them all!

There are so many options! So many books I’ve neglected for so long! I feel terrible!

Regardless, I’m sure I’ll work it out. I’m also not forgetting my own stories. You can bet I’ll be bringing a notebook and prepping for the release of the Fanged  prequel novella early June. More details will be following when I get back next month, but until then, feast your eyes on that cover!

Lovely, no? I can’t wait for you all to meet Fletcher! I fell in love writing him and I’m sure you will, too.

Now…I’m off to find travel toothpaste and make some final calls on what I’m loading into my Kindle. I also need to schedule some posts for while I’m gone. At least one…and I still have a Business Statistics final here at college. Ugh. But only a few more days before it’s me, my お祖母さん, and my Kindle in the Land of the Rising Sun. I can’t wait!

Tell me some of your pre-vacation book-packing dilemmas. How do you make the call which books to bring and which to not? 差王なら、皆さん!

Interview: Cait of @PaperFury

Today I am delighted to host one of my favorite bloggers of the vast internet, Cait of Paper Fury! She is an Aussie word ninja and lover of chocolate in addition to being a fantastic authority on all things in current bookish affairs!

Hello Cait! Thanks for stopping by. What first got you to start Paper Fury?

I actually had no idea at all of ever what a blog even was when I started! But my older sister convinced me that I needed one and, well, you DO what your older sister says, okay?! Safety first. I started out blogging with my little sister (I have far too many sisters apparently) about our month-long adventure in China and then she wandered off and it turned into a sole endeavor by me called Paper Fury: an entire blog dedicated to books. Because really, what else is there in life. (Well, apart from cake obviously.)

(Older sisters always know best. Speaking as one, I can confirm. 😉 )How has being a fiction writer influenced your blogging?

I blog so insanely differently to how I write that the two are like opposite worlds for me! However, blogging has definitely influenced my writing. Since I started sneaking about with the bookworms, I’ve taken notes on: what’s popular in YA, what topics readers are shouting for, what’s not being written about, and exactly how much cake people want in their books. (Spoiler: lots of it.) So blogging is definitely an amazing help to my writing career.

Hanging out with the cool kids sure can’t hurt. Have you ever gotten to meet any of your favorite authors?

No, sadly! All my most favourite authors are American and I live in Australia. And while I’d love to meet incredible Aussie authors like Jay Kristoff, Steph Bowe, Amie Kaufman, and Claire Zorn…I’m never close enough to the right cities! I shall just sit here and pout quietly and glare at the teeny tiny country town I live in.

🙁 Former small town girl here knows your pain. It really seems like you have to live in a booming metropolis.What is your dream job from any book you’ve read?

I would not say not to working in a bookstore with Sam and Grace out of the Wolves of Mercy Falls series by Maggie Stiefvater. Or if there’s an opening for dragon queen, I’ll take that too. I can do both? Bookstores on the weekends. Slaying evil on weekdays. Multitasking like a boss.

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OH YES! I think we would all gladly play third wheel to Sam and Grace’s perfect romance! <3 How (if at all) do you think the bookish community in Australia differs from say, the US or the UK?

I’m honestly the kind of bookworm who frolics about in both communities so much they’ve all merged for me! I do think we Aussie bloggers tend to spend most of our conversations on twitter making fun of each other. Like the kind good souls we are. ‘STRAYA MATE. Friendly and relaxed.

Hehehe…it’s good you keep each other humble. Countries in books you’d like to visit? (Real or imagined.)

  • Paris because croissants and coffee and all the old famous authors used to go there.
  • Thisby from The Scorpio Races and not just for the November cakes…like it sounds all Irish and beautiful and full of deathly water horses and…November cake.
  • Red London from A Darker Shade of Magic, because I’m 67% sure I’d make a fabulous magician if I didn’t fall on my face and embarrass myself first.
  • Narnia, and I keep checking my wardrobe. It’s bound to let me through soon, right???

I’m strongly reminded you’re a Stiefvater fangirl and NARNIA ALL THE WAY. Favorite part of being a blogger/writer so far?

CREATIVITY. I absolutely adore creating worlds as a writer, or creating art as a blogger. And the amount of epic people I’ve met who are just as obsessed about books as I am?!? It’s marvelous. It’s also extremely satisfying to create a little bloggish kingdom out of nothing and gather the nerds to you so you can all flail together. MY PEOPLE.

Thanks so much for having me, Elisabeth!

The creativity really is a massive bonus and thank YOU again for stopping by! 

About Cait:

I am Cait. But I also respond to “your majesty” and “ruler of all”.

I read quite furiously and have been known to swallow whole books before breakfast. I’m taking over the world. It’s happening. JUST YOU WAIT. I also write and plan to be a famous author. Currently my stories are about sad characters with cake deficiencies. I’ve written 16 miserable manuscripts and someday you will read them all and either a) proclaim my genius, b) weep, or c) feel driven to eat cake.

I live in Australia. I’m 21. I’m agented by Polly Nolan of Greenhouse Literary Agency.

I make origami things and sell them. I love superheroes and comics. I read anything and everything YA. I’m 5’1. I play cello. I’m a very intense obsessive fangirl. My brain is extremely hyper but I am extremely shy. My bookshelves are arranged by colour. Humans make me anxious. I’m in love with my Nikon D300. My puppy’s name is Atticus. I like to zentangle. Cake is life.

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Are Indie Authors Worth Reading?

It may sound heretical for an indie author to ask, but I think it’s a valid question.

I take my writing seriously. I mean, get-up-at-5-am-to-write-before-driving-to-class, proofread-to-midnight, pay-for-cover-designers-before-clothes seriously. Most the other indie authors I know also put in the same ridiculous amount of time, effort, and exhaustive work. It can really hurt when we aren’t taken seriously by other people. There’s still a huge stigma towards indie authors, though it’s not as bad as it was even a few years ago. Still, a lot of reviewers, retailers, and some readers won’t touch our stuff just because it’s not tattooed with a Big Six Publisher’s logo. To add insult to injury, I actually understand why the stigma exists.

There are a lot of crappy self-published authors. A LOT. No way around that.

Hell, I was a crappy self-published author at one point. I actually reedited, redesigned, and republished my first five books because, let’s face it, the editing sucked and the covers sucked. (With their current versions, I can at least live with myself.)

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Being an indie author comes with incredible freedom. We get to choose when we publish, what we publish, in what formats, the cover art, the audiobook narrators, the interior format, who we sell what rights, and literally everything you can possibly think of.

But like great power, great freedom comes with great responsibility.

I’ve seen a lot of indies (and I’ve already admitted I did stuff like this) upload a partially edited Word doc. to Kindle Direct Publishing, slap together an image drawn in Paint, and set it loose on the innocent world. This is what has flooded the market with the bad material that has given so many of us a bad name.

Regardless, there is no “right” way to be an indie author.

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Those of us who are serious all agree it’s imperative to produce quality work for our readers. That’s about as far as our consensus goes. Some swear we need a professional editor. Others rely on a team of trusted beta readers and brutally honest writer friends.

Some indies hire professional interior designers for eBook and/or print versions of their books. Others bootstrap it and study the formatting guides like the Bible until we know what we’re doing.

We all concur covers are second only to story, but again we diverge. While most of us (including Yours Truly) will scream we need a professional cover artist, I would admit others have done pretty well with a Shutterstock subscription and Adobe InDesign.

There are a vast number of ways to be an indie author. Therein lies the point and the problem. It’s all up to the individual!

But are indie authors worth it? Really, that’s up to you—our readers. 

You are the final judge of all things. We’re creating stories and delivering them straight to readers. That’s the point of being indies. We answer directly to you and we try to listen to what you want—those of us who take our work seriously, at least. And there are plenty of us who take it seriously, I promise.

In the end, I would encourage you to try indie authors despite the existence of crappy ones. Take a look at reviews, browse a few free previews, and see if anything catches your eye. Remember we write to please you, not agents or acquisitions editors. Until then, we’ll keep bringing our very best because, long-term, indie publishing is one of those things people only really do when they can’t imagine doing anything else.