Category Archives: competitiveness

Why I don’t Write Book Reviews

As some of you may remember, I used to do blog posts known as “Friday Five”. I would feature 5 titles from a specific genre each friday. Many of these titles were indie/self-published.

I would simply post the cover, blurb, and amazon/bn/smashword links. No one book got special treatment over any other.

While I was requesting for people to email me their info about said books, if they wanted me to include them, I started getting requests for all kinds of things from book reviews to author interviews, etc. THIS was not my intention…

It was not about reviewing and rating books, merely about spreading the word.

Plus, At the time I was working 40-50 hours/week at my dayjob, still editing and publishing Full Armor Magazine, 2 plus writing my own books and poetry, and apartment hunting. Something had to give…
(To make matters worse, I was suffering from colitis).

I was completely overwhelmed, and took a brief blog hiatus. When I began to blog again I ceased the inclusion of Friday Five. It was just too hard to fit that into my schedule. And, although I regretted dropping Friday Five for many reasons, I was relieved that I was no longer getting requests for reviews, etc.

Which brings me to my point:

It’s often debated whether we authors should or shouldn’t review each other’s works.
I’ve heard and considered arguments from both sides of the fence, and found that I can only speak for myself.

Here are the real reasons why I won’t review any book, indie or traditionally published (at least not in any public forum).

Time management. Between my crappy part-time day job, online courses through the Art Institute, Freelance web design work, writing my own books, and everything that indie publishing entails…I simply do not have the time. I wish that I did, but I don’t. Book reviews should not be written in an off-hand, casual manner. They should be written with a lot of thought, and by someone who sincerely enjoys doing them. Dare I say it, by someone who feels it’s their duty to do them. That is not me. Which brings me to my next point.

I don’t want to be known as a book reviewer, or even a reviewer/author. I just don’t think it’s a hat that I want to wear; even as a dual career of author/reviewer. I already proudly wear the dual hats of web designer/author. I don’t want to divide my goals any further as far as writing and editing, etc.

The Quid Pro Quo/Eye for an Eye Scenarios I avoid these scenarios at all cost. If we agree to review each other’s books in a sort of partnership, we foster the scoffer’s thinking that we are a “mutual back-patting society.” If we bash each others books, we risk being scorned and/or having the other author (or their fans) retaliate.

These are just some of my feelings on the matter. For more insight on this issue check out Kristen Lamb’s Blog!

Also, I’d love to hear your take on things…
Agree or disagree?


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New Words to Live (and Write) By.

~When you give up, and when you quit you are letting the haters win.~

~The road to success is made of many small steps, rather than one giant leap.~

~One word at a time…One word at a time…One word at a time…~

~Writer’s block is the result of under-confidence, rather than not having anything to write about. Take a break, and write a list of top 10 things you can do, or the achievements you are most proud of…If you come up with ten (or more!) Start writing again.~

~Don’t let anybody tell you “You can’t…” they’re probably only saying that because they can’t.~

~To paragraph John Lennon, “(Writing) is everybody’s business…it’s only the publishers that think THEY own it.” ~

~Don’t let anybody tell you “But no one wants to read about ____________.” How do they know? People tend to make grandiose statements, and speak for everyone else when they really only should speak for themselves. Nobody should ever speak for all of the readers in the world–people’s tastes vary when it comes to art. Tell your own story the way you want to tell it. Be true to yourself and to your artistic abilities.~

~Surround yourself with positive people. Let them lift you up. Listen to only positive thinkers. The “Negative Nellies” will drag you down if you let them.~

~Chose your mentors wisely. Foolish people will claim themselves as experts even if they’ve only done one thing right their whole life. The internet is full of “self-proclaimed experts” and less than 25% of them actually know what they’re talking about and/or are worth listening to. (there’s a whole separate blog post on this topic next week). What may work well for some may not be the right path for you. Look at the most successful people, take ONE thing they have done and try that out…Talk to educators (real educators) in the field, and get feedback ONLY from people you trust and respect. Again, chose your mentors wisely. ~

~Time is valuable. Take any spare moment you have and WRITE.~

~Read every day. Read mostly in your own genre, but read anything that interests you. Read non-fiction as well as fiction. Read good books, and even skim through bad books. Be a critical thinker and reader. What you like and don’t like about the work of others can help you make critical decisions about your own works, your own storytelling, and style.~

~CONFIDENCE is about more than reading a bad book and saying “I can write a better book than that.” CONFIDENCE is reading a great book, and saying “I can write a book as good or better than this one!”~

~Don’t pigeonhole yourself. We tend to do that with genre, and even with style. So many authors (and soon-to-be authors) go around saying “I only write paranormal romance,” or “I only write literary fiction,” when we should feel free to expand. If your muse is guiding you toward horror, don’t ignore it. If there’s a poem on your heart, write it down. If you don’t want to be known for doing “XYZ thing” then use a pen name, but by all means free that creativity! Maybe you can incorporate it into your own writing somehow, or do a side project…or write some stuff just to write it, without publication. Do not ignore your muse.~

~Formula fiction is a lot like filling out “Mad Libs.” I avoid it at all cost.~

~ The market is fickle. A few years ago we were mesmerized by a boy wizard, then it was vampire love stories, and now the trend is distopia… But epic fantasy has never really gone away, nor has romance, or mystery. As I’ve said before, don’t chase trends, don’t write for the market. Write what YOU want to write, and your books will be more likely to stand the test of time.~

~Feedback is vital, but don’t let your manuscript dwell in the “feedback basement.” That’s when you’re so afraid (or insecure) about your current project that you are trapped in the feedback/revise/feedback/revise/feedback/revise treadmill. At some point, your story is good enough and publish/submit worthy. Have the confidence and knowledge to know (yourself) when that is without relying on someone to TELL YOU when that is.~

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Reasons People Give for Not Reading Indies.

As an indie author, there are several things that annoy me on internet message boards, blogs, and other online forums. People claiming they “don’t read indie authors.” They’re “tired of searching through the muck” for something “readable,” “well-edited,” or enjoyable. While these arguments used to really irk me, and evoke my pro-indie rants I decided that in order to rightfully respect other people’s opinions I can look at their reasoning. Yes, most of the time it’s just a cop-out excuse. But the other side of the coin is that they realize that (most of the time) indie authors are responsible for our own quality control, and they are holding us accountable.

So, without any further ado here are the five reasons I hear most often from the “LYK OMG I DON’T REED INDIEZ” camp. Only two are really worth listening to.

1. All indie books are bad, poorly written, un-edited, typo-laden, etc. This commentary to me is not worth listening to. Stereotypes are formed of ignorance. And, saying all indie titles are bad is no different than saying that all traditionally published books are bad. ALL books have errors and typos. And, there are good and bad books on both sides of the fence. MANY indies hire editors, proofreaders, etc. MANY indies do care about quality control. I happen to be one of them.

2. It’s too hard of work for me to weed through all of the crap to find something worth reading. That’s a lazy, cop-out answer. Sorry, but that’s my opinion. It’s not really all that hard to find good books whether traditional or indie. It’s not hard to download a sample, or use “see inside.” It doesn’t take that much time out of your busy day to read through even the first 3 pages. When you buy trad books, don’t you sample first? When you buy a paperback at B&N don’t you skim through it first?
Here’s a tip: The best indie books are in the TOP of the lists on Amazon. AND, you can narrow it by genre. The worthy titles (in both publishing formats) are in the top 100; other worthy reads are in the top 1,000 – 3,000 range. And, they are NOT at the bottom. If you’re “bottomfeeding” and finding nothing worth reading, then you have no one to blame but yourself.

3. Negative Nellies Many of the people who’ve made the above comment are victims of their own negative energy. If you go around thinking “all X is crap” when you search through indie titles, you’ll see only the crap. Every typo, misspelling, ugly cover, horrible blurb will jump out at you screaming “here I am!” Even in good books, the flaws will jump out at you and look just as awful, because you’ve pre-ordained it to be so.
And, I confess I’m speaking from experience here–not in regards to SP books, but in regards to TP ones. When I first embarked on my indie journey, I adopted the “all TP books are crap” mantra. Every error, every page printed crooked, every little typo and Mary Sue character nearly turned me against ALL books regardless of publication method. Thank Heaven that phase was short lived. 😉 The power of positive thinking. Try it some time. It won’t hurt…I promise.

4. Authors behaving badly. I confess this is hard to argue against. I’ve been turned off of writers for this (both TP and Indie). People in the arts should watch what they say and do as a rule, to be sure they don’t turn off their audience, full of consumers who will buy their product.
I only argue against the idea that “all indies do X thing.” That’s a stereotype, and stereotyping is just wrong. There are badly behaving authors on both sides of the fence. Case in point: Anne Rice.
Regardless, the need to police ourselves is apparent–because we don’t have publicists telling us “don’t do that.” There’s nobody in place to slap our wrists with a proverbial ruler, like a Catholic School Nun. I have a list of dos and don’ts in place, but I’ll save that for another time.

5. But I don’t know of any indie authors…and all the ones I’ve heard of have already traditionally published by now. This is a good argument, and a very plausible one. Maybe, it’s even a call-to-arms for most authors to get the word out about our books.
It’s very important to spread the word, and have our “street team” (readers, friends, relatives, co-workers, fellow authors, etc…) help spread the word about you and your books.
Even good books go unnoticed because of lack of advertising, marketing and ineffective promo.
There’s also a chance that some of these people read an indie/sp book without realizing that they were. Whether that’s due to the author being discreet about her publishing methods, or the fact that the book is just that professional from cover-to-cover and nothing stands out as looking “indie” it’s hard to say.

In closing, I’ll just say this: (and it applies mostly to #4) Don’t judge the whole lot of us based on the actions of a few. There are good indie books, and there are not-so good ones. There are sensible authors and ones who fly off the handle at every perceived slight. And, not every author engages in seedy publicity tactics, or sock puppet review scams. Most authors I know steer clear of doing that. Authors are people, and people make mistakes…it’s a shame that so many get judged on the actions of a few, but that carries over into ALL walks of life, not just authors.

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It’s a little like Flashdance… (video post)

I can’t help but think of the indie author (or even the hybrid author) movement is a little like one of my favorite movies from my teens.

We are a lot like the girl who (like me) took ballet lessons in the basement of a church, or in someone’s home dance studio…Maybe like Alex, in Flash dance we even learned by reading books on writing, by listening to podcasts, or taking a course. Even participating in workshops and critique groups both online and offline.

Yet, we walk down the proverbial hall in our jeans and army jacket and are frowned upon by those classically trained ballerinas dressed in pink. (You know…the trad pubbed die hards, the elitist snobs, the ones who favor the old gate-keeping methods and think all indies suck.)

You don’t need to have an MBA in English lit to submit your work to an publisher or agent; and you don’t even need an MBA to self-publish (although a lot of people may imply that you should.) It’s very similar to the dance world.

So we practice our craft, tweak our writing, develop our voices. Just as dancers, warming up, stretching each limb, perfecting their technique. We go through all that we can do to make our work perfect. Pay for editing, pay for cover art, etc…

We walk down the hall scoffed at by the prima ballerinas, and soon are out there in front of the new “gatekeepers” of this world, to show them what we got.

And, then despite their sitting at that table looking doubtful, one of us breaks out and does something a little like this…

That’s why you shouldn’t scoff indie & hybrid publishing endeavors. That’s why you shouldn’t count us out. The book by the next Alex could be right around the bin. I am aiming for Alex-like success via the hybrid path. And, I intend to work like a maniac to get it. 🙂

~K. Crumley

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Filed under competitiveness, Goals, Goals and Resolutions, internet, self-discipline, self-publishing/indie publishing, Staying focused, video post, writing

Much Ado About Nothing…

Last week I had participated in another grueling message board conversation about a successfully published commercial author putting down self publishing. Said author did not, in a recent interview, give any real concrete arguments against it. She merely said, “DO NOT SELF-PUBLISH.” Yes, just like that. In all caps.

Needless to say, it offended a bunch of indie authors at this board (as should be expected.) A 10 page long rant ensued. Arguments ensued. Feelings already hurt became trampled on. Insults were hurled about. Nasty comments were made. And, when the dust cleared we all realized it was (as someone else put it) a “knee-jerk reaction” and a little “silly” in retrospect.

So why am I bringing this issue here to my harmless little blog, in which I’ve somewhat refrained from my “pro indie” rants?
Two reasons:

1) I’ve decided to NOT let it get to me anymore. People are going to say what they want, even people who should know better…
This commercial author doesn’t know me, I doubt she’s even read my books. And, yes as a successfully published author you’d expect her words to be more eloquent (gotta credit editors). But, I’ve decided not to let this elitist brand of nay-sayers get to me anymore. I am no longer going to take it personally, unless it actually does get personal. By that I mean, if someone says “A lot of indie books are good, but that K. Crumley’s books really suck…” or “Wishful Thinking was the worse book I ever read…”

If the blanket statements don’t apply to me, then they don’t apply to me. I’m just going to ignore them. I know that I have taken the proper steps to ensure that my books are not the equivalent of literary toilet paper. And, this is something that is my responsibility alone as an indie author.
I’ve made improvements to my books even post-publication, by changing the covers or altering prose, eliminating formatting errors, correcting typos, etc…
Now of course subjectivity comes into play. I write about faeries and mermaids, instead of vampires. My voice is more dramatic than some. If my books are “not for you” then, they’re “not for you.” I can take that type of criticism. Heck, I think most people can.
Yet, I continue to remain true to myself as an author. But now I’m wondering off topic here…

2. I haven’t heard of this author. I haven’t read one book by her. She’s not even in my genre. Her words carry no weight with me.
Now I know some people have a problem with that…in the MB conversation I referred to earlier, people thought that myself and some others were being snide and catty by saying that. As if we’re trying to discredit her level of “fame.” When really, it isn’t that at all (speaking for myself here.)

If I never heard of someone, but they said “XYZ thing.” Then, their comment on XYZ means nothing to me. Who they are in other people’s eyes has nothing to do with my perception of those people. All that author is in my opinion, is another author who went about things another way and has a closed mind toward another way of doing things.

In the arts–or maybe in any field–we chose our own mentors, authorities, and people to emulate. Someone we have never heard of isn’t going to fit into that category (at least not automatically.) And, even those Mentor’s POV’s will be taken with a grain of salt at times. If J.K. Rowling herself came out and said “Authors shouldn’t self-publish right away because they’re selling themselves short…yada yada…” I still wouldn’t stop what I’m doing. But I would listen/read, and respect it as her honest opinion.

Finally, it is no sin to claim you never heard of a “famous” author. People have different levels of familiarity, and as a wise person once said “every author is unknown to some portion of the general public.” That’s irrefutably true. Even if you read avidly, even if you are a writer, there are some authors you never heard of. I think that applies to ANY field, the arts especially. As a dancer, I was shocked to find that one of my friends hadn’t heard of Natalia Makarova, Gelsea Kirkland, Margot Fonteyn, Suzanne Farrell, Et al. She knew full well however about Joel Gray and Baryshnikov. Her knowledge of the dance world, evidently was limited to Cinema. It did not mean that she was trying to discredit my dance knowledge, or any of the prima ballerinas I had named. And, it was a fact that she never heard of them…
No reason for her to be tarred and feathered. I’m sure any advice these esteemed ballerinas would give on dancing would fall on deaf ears with that girl. That’s the only point I’m trying to make.

I could add a third point to this, about the fact that there are people in this world who just love to argue. People who have a bad day, and come online looking for people to take it out on. People who love to bully, or insult other people to make themselves feel superior.
But, I won’t waste my time on that. We all know that it’s best to avoid feeding trolls. 🙂

Have a great week, and enjoy writing and publishing…by whichever means you chose to do so.
Don’t let the generalized statements get to you! 🙂

~K. Crumley

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Being True To Yourself

Be true to yourself as a writer. Be true to your muse, your voice, and your spirit.
Don’t try to fit into someone else’s “box” or waste your time trying to emulate others…or worse yet, imitate them.
Yes, they say “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” But, too much “flattery” and your writing won’t be your own. Your stories won’t be your own. Your voice will not be your own.

Tell the stories YOU want to tell, not what you see as being a big seller, or popular trend. Trends come and go…
And, who knows what comes next after this vampire trend ends. It just MIGHT be your story. And, even if it isn’t there’s always someone out there–or maybe several people out there–who aren’t chasing fads, but want something new, fresh, original, and above all else a GOOD STORY.
Focus on the art and craft of writing, get in touch with your Muse…
Don’t sell out your art, in pursuit of a “get rich quick” scheme.

Don’t focus on unreachable goals like becoming an overnight millionaire, or being dubbed “the next so-and-so.”
Set attainable goals, and reach them one at a time. Remember “you have to walk before you can run, and run before you can fly.”
You may not have “overnight success” but you will have some success, whether it being able to live fully off of your writing OR just some small personal goal that you’ve reached.

Take this all for what it’s worth.

Write with pride. Pride in yourself!

~K. Crumley

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Filed under changes, competitiveness, creativity, Goals, Goals and Resolutions, Great Reads, phases, self-publishing/indie publishing, stumbling blocks, time wasters, writing

Jealous of Other Writers?

The question pops in my mind quite often, rather out of random though or from someone bringing up the subject in an online forum.

Am I jealous of other writers?
Am I jealous of the Amanda Hockings, JA Konraths, and HP Mallorys of this world? Am I jealous of the many indie authors around me, who press on and do well…and release book after book?

Hell yeah, I’m jealous. I’m jealous of MOST other writers in fact. But not for the reasons that you would assume.
I’m not jealous of their sales figures, per say.
I don’t envy the money they’ve earned in revenue.
I don’t envy fame, or being “well known” in certain literary circles.

I covet only one thing…TIME!

I freely, and without any shame admit that I am envious that other writers have more time to write than I do.

Recently I had to take a little vacation from writing, and even from this blog…TO MOVE. Yes, I am renting a nice little apartment (which I love) but all of the packing, moving, cleaning the new place, etc…has taken a significant amount of my (already limited) free time.
Then there is my job, where I work 40 plus hours a week.

I can hear the lectures now…
How I should make time to write. yeah, yeah. I’m getting to that in a bit.

Things will settle down. I’ll get all the rest of my stuff moved in, and have everything “finalized” and be all settled in.

I have a shorter commute to work (THANK HEAVEN) which allows for more writing time. I have no distractions from my parents, and this place is “no pets allowed” so I have no distractions that way (as pleasant as they may be at times). No duties to feed the dogs, take them out, etc. Oh yes, and no barking.

I intend to come up with a writing schedule, and stick to it. Probably in the morning, before work. After work I’m usually way too tired.

And, of course when inspiration strikes, I must write! Even if I just jot what’s in my mind on scratch paper, and type it into a word doc later… 😉

I am sure that this envy will pass as I devote more time to writing and am no longer running around like a chicken with my head cut off. hahaha!

I look forward to getting all settled in at my new place, and just having more time to myself…and more time to write. 😉

~K. Crumley


Filed under changes, competitiveness, creativity, Goals, Goals and Resolutions, internet, Moving, phases, schedules, self-publishing/indie publishing, stumbling blocks, time management, time wasters, Uncategorized, writing

Tuning out the Noise

I wanted to actually write fiction today…something I’ve been trying to do all week. But the static from certain message boards, web sites, etc…keeps pulling me back in. I get roped into the same discussions/arguments/debates even though I vowed to stay away from them. I keep checking stats, page updates, etc…tweaking my own website.
I’ve been counting it as “writing time” if I did something like post on facebook.

As of recent months, I rarely have practiced what I have preached. Nor have I stuck to my resolutions and goals for this year. The best I can do is wipe the proverbial slate clean, start fresh and new today.

The only way I’m going to do this is to tune out the noise—especially when the noise (particularly from a certain message board) fills me with a lot of negative emotions, including self-doubt. If I don’t tune them out, I dwell on the same damn arguments and don’t get any real writing done. If I spend every free hour questioning myself as an indie author, and engaging in over-done debates then in some sick, passive way I’m letting the haters win. And, we can’t have that. Can we? I need to remember my favorite quote “The haters are help, and I don’t argue with the help”. 😉

I need to discipline myself all over again, and spend what spare hours I have free actually writing. By that I mean writing books, short stories, blog posts, poems, etc…
Not “time waster” activities, like defensively responding to “OMG ALL U INDIE WRITERZ SUX” posts, or engaging in fruitless debates with intellectual blowhards. We’re all self-proclaimed experts, aren’t we? Too many chiefs…?

I need to pull myself out of the BS, and back into “my writing place.” I’m just going to ignore that which makes me counter-productive, which saps my confidence, and takes up too damn much time and energy.

Onto finish Charmed Lives…

Have a great day! Write and Publish with Pride!

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Goals and resolutions for 2011.

My writing & publishing goals for 2011 are:

  • To break into the top 100 (finally) in either the fantasy or horror category (or both).
  • To join the ranks of indie authors selling over 1,000 ebooks a month.
  • To release three books this calendar year.

My resolutions for 2011, which I hope will help me achieve the aforementioned goals:

  • I will stop procrastinating!
  • I will meet my deadlines, including the quarterly deadline for Full Armor Magazine.
  • I will not waste my time doing things that do not produce good results.  IE, as Terri (my former LP manager) used to say I will stop “spinning my wheels” by continually doing things that don’t work for me.
  • I will write a minimum 3,000 words per day.  And, read a minimum 1 chapter (or 1 short story) per day.  May be hard to do with the schedule of my “night job” but I’ll manage.
  • I will not cease in good marketing and promotional efforts.  This includes but is not limited to:  Participation in #SampleSunday, posting on blogs and message boards, in short developing a strong web presence.  Paid advertising. good monthly promotional campaigns. just to name a few…
  • I will finish all of my current projects in a timely fashion, at least the ones that I deem “worth finishing” …the other stories can be reworked, and revised into something “publishable” at a later time…

These are just a few of the things that will help me get where I need to go.

Sure, everybody “breaks resolutions.” hahahaha!  But I’ll do my best not to break mine 😉


I wish everyone luck, and prosperity with their own goals and resolutions in 2011!


Write and Publish with Pride,


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