Anita's Haven

books, thoughts, stories, poetry, interviews, writing

Common misconceptions about (indie) authors

Pondered for a while whether I should publish this. So before you begin reading know this – it is not complaining. It is explaining.

Being an independent author has its advantages, as well as disadvantages, just like any other job, I suppose. To be honest, I am not sure if I would have wanted to know about some of the disadvantages before venturing into (self-) publishing. For instance, if I had known how much financing it requires to be able to properly package and promote your work, I would probably have nevet dared to go into it. That would have been a shame, because I would never have met tons of wonderful authors and book supporters, or proven to myself that my books can actually be real books, no matter how many people like them.

As a reader and an author, I have discovered how seriously misguided many people are about authors, especially self-published, independent authors. Let me just share a few I have encountered, and do share your views in the comments, whether you are a reader or writer yourself.

1. People think all authors have a team of people who work with them on fixing errors and making perfect covers. (They don’t, unless they employ them and pay them. Otherwise, it’s all diy. Which doesn’t mean an independent author is like a quack doctor or a shoddy repairman. A self-made entrepreneur cares a lot about how he or she displays their work.)

2. People think authors get every single cent of the money readers pay to buy the book from a bookstore, online or not. (They don’t. Percentages of royalties vary, but you’d probably be sadly disappointed, if not shocked, if you knew the numbers. Not disclosing them here, because of contracts we have with printers and distributors.)

3. People think authors only write. (We don’t. See point no.2. Most of us have day jobs which pay the bills, hopefully also fill our hearts, and help sustain our writing dreams.)

4. People think authors are vastly supported by their families who read their books, buy them by the dozens and walk around promoting our work. (They don’t. If we are lucky, they understand us and support us as best they can – giving us some free time to write, understanding our insomnia and remaining by our side:). If we are lucky, we are able to repay them this kindness.)

5. People think publishing is what it used to be and everyone has an agent and a team to promote their books, lining up interviews and TV appearances for us, as libraries and bookshops fight over who gets more copies of our books. (Hahaha, she grinned with bitterness. I talked to a renowned author a couple of years ago and he admitted that he was lucky to have broken anonimity and gained a good publisher over 20 years ago. He says if he had to fight for it today, he’d probably stick to a day job. My ‘support team’ consists of kindhearted authors and readers who repost my shameless book plugs on social media. I am grateful for any one of my supporters.)

6. People think vanity publishing is just a myth, invented as an excuse for independent authors. (It is not. Vanity publishers are just as much a part of this business as any marketing scheme out there. They prey on your dreams, take your money to publish your book and then leave you to do the promoting yourself. If you need a cover, formatting or editing, it costs extra. I once read a testimony from an author who said it was not true because his vanity publisher was very polite, and he’d actually made £1000 from his books in 5 years through them. When asked how much he’d invested with them, he said £5000 in the first year, and about a £1000 the subsequent years. I may be a creative non-maths kind of person, but I think the numbers speak for themselves.)

7. People think authors are tedious and obsessed when we ask for reviews and promote our books. (We are, and some of us are moderate about it, whereas some are tiring. But see points above to know why. Most of us trust in our stories. Most of us really make an effort to bring out the best we possibly can under the circumstances. The readers have a choice.)

8. People think authors should give their books away for free, especially when they launch, since they get boxes of their books from the publishers, including promo T-shirts, bookmarks, bags etc. (We don’t get anything free except ideas. We work for everything else. We do research for our books, buy our own author copies, we pay for our promo stuff, we pay for packaging and shipment. So if you do get a freebie from an independent author, know that it is not free. Nothing is. We may write fantasy, but we don’t live in it. But also know it means a lot to the authir who has sent it to you. PS: applying for most awards costs a fee too. No guarantee of winning and no money back.)

9. People think authors are only good if they are famous. (Fame and quality may go hand in hand, but not always. Just like everything else. Plus, quality is a matter of personal opinion anyway. You may like a famous book, someone else will hate it. It’s that simple.)

10. People think authors write to make money. (Well then people in pharmacy would be writers too. Bankers as well. Not to mention politicians. Authors write to write. It is not even a matter of choice for most of us.)

Although I am sure there are plenty more misconceptions such as these, I have decided to list the ones I have come into contact with. Questions such as: “You’re an author? Are you famous?” and “So how rich are you?” used to be shocking; now they are just funny and slightly annoying. Especially when they are asked before even inquiring about what I write and where one might read a sample of my book.

Lines such as “You should put your books in bookshops, libraries, schools and give them away.” … well, they make me sad. Why? Apart from all the points above, it takes time to write a book. It takes heart. It takes time to draw illustrations. It takes effort and resources to create a cover.

But most of all, it takes gutts to put your thoughts out there, open for all comments. It takes a dream. You don’t just give that away. Or give it all up.

Would you?

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Another one…

Well, there it is – I have managed to combine my two professional loves, both not really known in my life as big money-makers:) – teaching and writing. Perhaps two minuses can make a plus, huh? Just kidding.

As the note says, this is the rough draft which I will soon be typing into the plan, proofreading and sending off to some beta readers.

As for the teaching method described, it refers to a little mindset I have devised for myself and shared with colleagues. I know it works because it has served me well these last two decades, from the micro to macro lesson planning, and thinking about learning and teaching in general.

Looking forward to revisions and edits, and all the little ‘bloopers’ I probably let slip. Ta-ta for now!

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Onwards…

And so it begins… My wix website is live:
http://anitakovacevic.wixsite.com/anitas-haven

#books #reading #teaching #learning

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Special and Peculiar

My cousin had Down Syndrome. All she ever gave anyone was love, smiles, hugs, cuddling, friendship and kindness. All she ever cried about was cruelty, abuse, violence and anger.

All I feel when I remember her is love, smiles, hugs, cuddling, friendship and kindness.

Giant

There is a little giant

Hidden inside your heart.

He is good and fun,

And kind and honest,

And powerful and brave.

He is your secret,

But he is not your shame.

He is your secret weapon.

He is your superpower.

You have to let him do his job.

Just let him shine within you

And lurk through your eyes.

And no bad words,

And no violence,

And no illness

Will harm you.

(This poem of mine appeared in an international anti-bullying charity book Inner Giant.)

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World Poetry Day

How long has it been since you last read some poetry?

#poetry #meditation #songs #verse #inspiration #therapy

#ebook https://tinyurl.com/ybpyubg9

#paperback https://tinyurl.com/y8jqwlwt

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Have you seen a leprechaun?

Meet one of my favourite leprechauns – Speck from cheerful, fantasy part of The Forest of Trees.
Happy St.Patrick’s Day to all merry souls!

“Among others, The Gable was the home of a lively little leprechaun named Speck. Silly name but truth be told, he was no giant. Speck was a merry soul with a freckled face, curly orange hair, and hints of a beard here and there, just enough to prove he was already a teenager, about to turn 347 in the upcoming spring.

[…]

When Speck walked, the clickety-cluck of his shoes played a cheerful melody. It had a rhythm of its own, clickety-cluck, clickety-cluck, clickety-clickety-clickety-cluck, and even the woodpeckers sometimes pecked at the tree crusts in Speck’s rhythm. His walk sounded as merry as jingle bells all year long, and frightened away every evil thought, piercing the ears of the gable snakes and sending them immediately in the opposite direction. When Speck was in a rush, he would disappear in a flash and all you could see was a trace of green mist, as if someone had drawn an unfinished greenish line with a thick paintbrush marking the direction of the leprechaun’s movement.

Speck loved to sing. Had he been a giant, his voice would have echoed through The Gable with the might of a thundering waterfall. Being a wee leprechaun, humans would barely notice his sounds and would probably mistake him for a mouse or a hamster of some unusual green sort.
Oh and how he loved water! He loved to look at it, to touch it, to drink it, to bathe in it, to swim, to splash around and dive. And sometimes, after he’d enjoyed a good hearty swim, he just loved to lie on his back, floating on the surface of The Gable lake and gazing at the sun, as the sun gazed back at him, happy to see that pure, honest, child-like soul in Speck’s innocent eyes.

Those were the moments when Speck’s mind and heart talked to each other without his interference, and created such beautiful melodies that filled his lungs like sheer light. He would sing out notes as naturally as he breathed, without even being aware that he was producing a melody.”

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Life within books

Not so long ago, I was asked about how much of my own life enters my books.

Well, let’s be honest – all that we do is a reflection of what we are, think we are or would like to be, to some extent. The Forest of Trees is perhaps my most personal book for now, because some details in it have been borrowed from our private life, as my husband well knows – for example, the Stone family car breaking down every now and then, Emma loving cinnamon, the games she plays with her students, Dot having problems with pronouncing her ‘rs’ (my problem) and so on, but these are tiny details. I am glad to say the abuse side in the story is not something I have experienced myself, and hope I never will. Not that I haven’t seen t, having been a teacher for 24 years. There are still too many Glorias, Florences, Gabrielles and Jacksons around, and an occasional Philip. These characters are therefore just as much alive to me as if I’d met them, and my stomach still churns when I remember the feeling of writing them out.

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Miracle

As sorrow washes over
My pain-stricken soul,
And I feel something broken,
Losing all control,
I wish I could curl up
In a lily on a lake
To find a better world
Once I am awake.
I cry out to my friends,
I let my tears flow.
My body is so tired,
But it will heal, I know.
The moon will bring me night time,
Perhaps even a dream.
I’ll meet my gentle angel,
Or at least so it will seem.
And life will bring new miracles.
That’s one thing I do know.
When rain covers my sun,
Life sends me a rainbow.

(from Versus Verses – Feel)

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Visiting award-winning author Ashley Uzzell with my book Spikes for Hank

It is such a rare privilege to be a guest on a blog with a children’s book. So happy Hank made it:)

Thank you, Ashley Uzzell!

https://wp.me/p6WQKo-cq

By the way, if any of you enjoy wordsearches, this book has its own here: https://thewordsearch.com/puzzle/284113/spikes-for-hank/ and it’s free:)

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Real love every day

As promised, two of my favourite scenes of real, daily love between two married couples from The Forest of Trees – the Bosworths and the Stones. Both scenes take place during sleepless nights, filled with worry.

Intimacy is never (just) the physical thing. Love is in the small, everyday details which should never be taken for granted…

The Bosworths

The bed sheets were soaked in sweat and already cold, as John Bosworth kept tossing and turning, uncovering himself to cool down, then covering himself back hoping to get some sleep. He felt around the bed and realized it was empty, empty, so he opened his eyes, finally giving in to insomnia.
In a huge armchair close to the door, his wife’s face glowed in lamplight, as she sat wrapped in a fuzzy patchwork blanket.
He looked at her with worry and love.
She was deeply concentrated. Seeing her leather-bound diary in her hands, he knew she must have had a bad day at work. Although he loved to joke that their jobs were alike, she a psychologist and he a principal, he knew that the number of good days was in his favour.
“Zoe, do you want to talk?” he whispered.
She didn’t reply, and he noticed how firmly she held her pen and how she tightened her lips. For both selfish and generous reasons, he loved the fact that she had her diary ritual to blow off steam and cry or shout things into words. He wasn’t much of a talker, so he always felt inadequate offering her advice. Still, he was a great listener and that helped her get things out of her system.
Sometimes things were so difficult to bear that she would just cry, and all he could do was hold her and feel guilty for not helping. She knew this, which was why she started her diary. She hated making him worry.
“Paper can take it,” she’d often say.
He noticed she had her small yellow earphones earphones on, probably listening to classical music again. Debussy was his best guess, judging by how the sad look on her face was slowly relaxing, softening her lips into their usual lovely shape and mellowing her shoulders. He smiled.
(…)
John stepped towards the door, slowly walking past his wife. She looked up with a question mark in her eyes, but he just kissed her head gently, breathing in the smell of tangerine shampoo in her hair, and moved his hand in front of his face as if drinking something. She smiled and nodded.
He went into the kitchen to make some green tea with honey which she liked so much. He had hated that taste at first, but in time he’d gotten used to it as part of their little ritual.
Green tea and honey meant a talk, whatever time of day it was, talk without the stress of having having to provide a solution. Each of them told the other what had kept them awake, and the other one listened, understood and provided a hug in the end. The talk usually started with no talk at all, just inhaling the aroma of warm tea and enjoying each other’s comfort. Sip by sip, the conversation would begin, or wouldn’t. Sometimes just sharing the silence was enough.”

The Stones

“David blinked again, staring at the starry sky through the window. He couldn’t sleep, but he dared not move or he’d wake Emma. They were both overwhelmed with the last few days; the changes were as intense as a never-ending roller-coaster ride.
He felt her warm arm wrap around his waist, and Emma’s soft kiss land on the back of his neck. She cuddled up to him under the blanket, and he felt better in a second, with only a tiny pang of guilt for having woken her up.
“You can’t sleep either, huh?” Emma whispered through another neck kiss, her lips writing on his skin.
“Sorry I woke you up,” David said, his arm pulling her closer.
She rested her face on his shoulder and sighed, with a slight yawn.
“Not much of a sleep anyway, when you dream about real life…”
“Nightmare?” Worried, David wrapped her hair around his fingers.
“Not really, just a dream, but lots of them. Not connected, just… more worries than dreams. Whether Jeremy will be fine here, whether Dot will be happy, what if the car breaks down, any chance of some students ever being kind, if we’re going to be able to cover the bills this month, if… oh well, you know…”
She felt guilty. There he was, sleepless and anxious, and all she talked about were her own dreams and worries.
“Boy oh boy, you women just can’t stop worrying,” he mocked.
He was actually grateful for her speech. She summed up most of his own worries as well. He’d never been good with words, especially to talk about his feelings. It would probably have taken him half the night just to verbalize all the things she spat out in one sigh and a yawn. On top of all that, she managed to awake his protective side, giving him motivation not to whine, but to console.
“I’ll have to make you a dream-catcher then to help you sleep,” he teased.
“Better make yourself one while you’re at it. You’re the one lying awake here all night,” she said with a stern teacher’s look.
He loved it when her eyes got that grey shade of angry.
“I don’t need a dream-catcher, love,” he said, feeling mischievous.
“Oh no?” She teased, knowing exactly what he meant.
“I just bury my face in your hair and all my nightmares go away,” he said, cradling her face in his palms.
Their lips blended. They glued their bodies together, intertwining their feet.
“This is my favourite place in the whole world, you know? Right here,” she said as the kiss finished.
She buried her face in his shoulder. David’s hand glided down her back as he pulled her closer. He smelled her skin and inhaled her scent, meeting her lips in another kiss, savouring those precious moments when the two of them were only the two of them, no worries, or kids or the world around.
As their breaths caught the singular rhythm of passion, neither of them was aware of the trees and the wind singing their song outside.”

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