What I’ve Learned the Past Four Years in The Indie Community by Tiffany Landers – Editor
When I first discovered electronic reading and independently published authors who I could follow their works and learn about others’, I fell right in love with the indie community. This began for me in 2013 with a book by Lisa Renee Jones titled Escaping Reality. I was so impressed with her work and could hardly wait for book two to be released.
In the meantime, I stumbled across an author I completely fell head over heels in love with, Author T.K. Leigh. I began to read A Beautiful Mess (book one in her Beautiful Mess series), and thus began my first ‘author stalking’ in the community. T.K. Leigh was fantastically brilliant, and I couldn’t get enough of her work. I joined her street team and promoted her work everywhere, all the time, as many of you may recall.
I then began to read Lisa Renee Jones’ Inside Out series, and oh, my gosh! If you haven’t read that series, you’re missing out. There are many books in the series, and each one is definitely worth the price.
I really knew nothing about writing a review, blogging, social media promotions, et al, but along came a dear friend, Victoria J. Stolte, who literally showed me the ropes by helping me create a blog, a website, and answering all my many questions about everything in the community: “V, I need a teaser made. What do I do?” “V, how do I post this review on my blog you created for me?” “V ……?” She literally held my hand and taught me what to do while never growing impatient with me.
After reading T.K. Leigh’s A Beautiful Mess, I loved it so much I wanted to begin writing reviews and blogging. I just could not get enough. So, of course, Victoria walked me through that, too. I fell in love with blogging. Mine was never meant to be a blog as I’ve seen a lot of others; I wanted a blog to write about how I felt when reading an author’s art, and I never minded sharing posts for authors who asked me. My blog, Have You Heard?, became very important to me, and I am currently at 3,617 likes, which still blows my mind. Thank you, everyone!
Over time, I fell in love with so many authors (way too many to name here), but a few of them really made a huge impact on me: Sherry Ewing, Jettie Woodruff, Jennifer Sage, Ivy Love, T.K. Leigh, Lisa Renee Jones, Andy Peloquin, Patricia Annette/P Mattern, Pepper Winters, April White, Alicia Dean, and Michelle Dare, to name a few (forgive me if I did not name you – you’ve had no less impact on me than those I did name, I just cannot remember you all at this moment). I wanted to promote them because of my love for them and their works.
Eventually, I began doing PA work for a few authors, I opened up PA In A Pinch for full author services (mostly known for its great events), I created a secret read and review group with most of the authors listed above (and more), and I discovered my love for editing, my true passion.
Throughout all of this, I made a few true-blue friends who I know I can count on for anything – not just in the indie community but for anything in my life. I’ve also made many close acquaintances and a few enemies along the way; not many enemies but there are a few.
So, what have I learned, and where am I today in the indie community? Well, to be honest, I’m a bit burned out. Perhaps I threw myself into it so passionately that I now long to just read what I want, when I want, with no pressure about due dates for ARCs, etc. By the way, to every author who has sent me an ARC, THANK YOU! I’ve received so many books that it may take me a few years to catch up on them all, but I will review each book when I get to it. My apologies to those of you I haven’t quite made it to yet. I’ll get there.
Anyway, I learned there are a lot of ungrateful people in the indie community: readers, writers, publishers, editors, personal assistants, bloggers, etc. There is a great deal of entitlement in the community I find rather sad. I learned nothing is sacred in the community, and I learned about screenshots. Ha-ha. Who’s with me here? Be careful what you write to a friend, for one day, you may no longer be friends, and all your conversations may be exposed to the public eye, and definitely from pm to pm. Lol. I can’t help but giggle about this. I am not innocent here, either.
On the flip side, I’ve learned there are so many loving, encouraging, and supportive people in the community who genuinely love others and are willing to help at the drop of a hat. Authors, bloggers, readers, editors, publishers, cover designers/artists, etc. … the love is real, and it is abundant. A few true friends I’d like to acknowledge (ones I haven’t already mentioned) are Lesia Connelly Vargas, Laura Trujillo, and my new friend, Sherry Hurley. Ladies, you have made my life a better place. You’ve each been there for me for anything and everything I’ve ever needed, even when you were swamped, and I love you each so damn hard!!!! Victoria and Jettie, I’ve already mentioned you both, but the same applies to each of you. And, let me not forget the #BB4L! You know who you are, and I love you each so much!!
Throughout my time as a PA, I’ve had my moments of greatness, in the sense of being very organized and extremely hard working. I’ve also had my times of personal life issues interfering with my work to the point I was literally unable to perform my job well. To those authors who stood by me and continued to pay me even when I couldn’t work, I love you. Thank you. I will never forget your love and support to me: Sherry Ewing, Alicia Dean, Isaiyan Morrison, and most definitely Jettie Woodruff. I love you. Hard.
I’ve learned throughout this entire process what my strengths and weaknesses are, as well as what I absolutely do not enjoy doing. I wish I were good at promoting the authors I love, but unfortunately, it’s just not my forte. I hate promoting and pimping, which has given me a ton of guilt by not doing it when I so wish I had. I simply do not like it, and it’s one of my weaknesses. Another weakness I’ve discovered is I am not good PA material. I don’t enjoy that either. I like random things way too much to be a consistently good PA. There are, however, those who are extremely gifted and talented in this area and kudos to them! It’s simply not for me. I’m not good at managing street teams because I get so frustrated when only a handful of members (it’s always the same people) are doing all the work while the others sit back and enjoy the rewards. No. That’s not for me either.
I’ve also burned with the desire to create amazing graphics like Claudia Bost with CWB Designs, and other artists, but as Jennifer Sage was so wonderful about pointing out to me (I truly appreciate the truth from a friend), “Tiffany, stop making teasers and stick to what you’re good at.” Lol. Oh, how I tried, and every once in a while I would accidentally create a pretty good teaser. Still, Jennifer Sage was so right: it’s not my talent; not my gift. I’m so jealous to those who have the eye and talent for that. Kudos to you each of you too, especially Claudia Bost, who is my favorite cover artist.
On the other hand, I have found my true talents through trial and error: editing, proofreading, and event coordination. Editing a manuscript is music to my soul. Really. As much as I hate math, I absolutely love picking apart every tiny dot, word, plot hole, etc. I get to do when editing. Really. It’s my true love in this community, and I’m so thankful to each and every author who trusts me with their babies – their art. A very special thank you to Jettie Woodruff and Michelle Dare for trusting me with all their manuscripts. Y’all are amazing.
Where did I learn these editing skills, you may wonder. I’ve always had a love for the written word and been such a true word nerd, but it wasn’t until I began reading the edited works of Kim Young – Editor, that I began to delve into learning about editing. Kim is my FAVORITE editor, and I’ve learned so very much from her. How did I find her? Well, she’s the sole editor of one of my favorite writer’s manuscripts, T.K. Leigh. Since I’ve read every single book of T.K. Leigh’s, I learned a lot about Kim’s editing abilities, plus Kim would (and still does) pose questions about certain words on her social media posts, which led me to research these things myself. As time went on, I began researching every single word, or comma, or plot hole. For instance, when is the proper time to use into or in to, was or were, and removing the gazillion ‘that’s’ from every manuscript I edit. However, I strive to not alter the writer’s voice and must remember I’m editing creative writing, which does not always follow the ‘rules’, per se.
When it comes to event coordination, I realized I didn’t want to do it like everyone else. I like to think outside the box, and those of you who have attended my events with PA In A Pinch will surely vouch for how fun and interactive my events are. This is another one of my gifts and an area in which I’m talented.
So, long story longer, my journey in the indie community these past four years has been quite amazing. I’ve been hurt, but I’ve been loved. I’ve also hurt others (never intentionally), and I’ve forgiven others too. I’ve worked my tail off, excluding times with family, holidays, and personal time, which is one of the reasons I’ve decided to stop doing PA work, plus I’ve already established it’s just not my gift. Still, I will continue to edit and host author events because I’m good at these two things.
I’ve learned not to work seven days a week, sixteen-hour days. I’ve learned the importance of my personal health and peace of mind and its significance in the quality of my work. If I’m not sleeping because I’m working too hard, I’m more prone to make errors. I don’t want that. I also don’t want to miss my life, the joys of being a mother and grandmother, or my ‘me time’ at the Joplin Falls, or walking in the woods with inspirational music playing through my earbuds. If I have to work a Sunday to meet a deadline, I will, but it’s football season right now, so Sundays are pretty much mine. Lol.
I’ve learned friends can be very fair-weather in this community (and in real life, but I already knew that) and not to take it personally. People grow. People change. People find new tribes and groups of friends along the way. That’s okay. I’ve also learned to scroll right past the drama, the political and religious posts – count me out. I don’t want it. Really. I get tickled when I read these posts from people who are saying how much he/she hates drama, yet expounds on a specific person/group/topic in the same sentence. Lol. Sorry, not sorry.
So, in the long run, I’ve closed the secret read and review group Laura Trujillo and I ran (both of them, actually). It was taking too much of my time, though I will say how amazingly drama free the Blood Sweat and Tears group was; the other one, not so much. I am so grateful to have been part of that experience for over a year. Thank you to the authors who provided their amazing works of art, and to the readers who worked a sometimes very busy schedule reading the awesome ARCs and writing their honest reviews. Thank you for all your hard work. I’m sorry I had to shut it down.
A few days ago, I decided to unpublish my blog, Have You Heard?. I just want to focus on what’s important in the world, and the blog can be a big drain on my energy and peace. But this morning, I wanted to share something book related and the only place it really seemed fitting was my blog, so I republished it, but I won’t be doing much more than writing reviews on it from now on. There’s a life to live out here, and I don’t want to miss it.
So, I suppose my suggestions to each of you who read this are:
- Don’t sweat the small stuff.
- Balance your work time in the indie community with your personal and family time. Family and personal time should always come first.
- Go slow. It’s no fun getting burned out. Be passionate, but take your time too.
- Don’t get obligated or guilted in to doing what you don’t want to do. Leave that street team if you don’t really want to do it. You can still love and support the author by buying his/her work, leaving reviews, and many other ways.
- Find your strengths, and your weaknesses, and expound on your gifts and talents.
- Remember everyone, EVERYONE, has a story. Perhaps we should all strive to be a little (or a lot) less judgmental.
- When writing your reviews, please remember to be polite, honest, kind, and helpful to the author who has spent countless days and nights ignoring their families and themselves so you (who may be dying for the next book in the series) can have the book you’re waiting on.
- Be. Kind.
Thank you to all my teachers in this community, be it from a fun lesson, or a painful one. I love you all.
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