Becoming an Indie Author

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Whenever I tell friends that I self-published my second novel, I’m greeted by an enthusiastically positive reaction—not in praise of Lagging Indicators (although I do hope they will read and like the book)—but because I was brave enough to follow my instincts and take control of my destiny.  The old-fashioned writer in me finally learned that in 2018, getting out of our comfort zones; shedding rigid, old mindsets; and disrupting our own linear narratives are the new symbols of progress.  Rather than waiting for a traditional publisher to approve the creative content and commercial viability of my book, I believed in the merits of the story and wanted to share it with an audience.  It was a tremendous leap of faith, but one that I don’t regret for a second.

But please understand: this indie attitude didn’t come naturally to me.  I’m typically a risk-averse person and analyze a situation from every angle before making a decision.  I was very fortunate to get a deal with Penguin/NAL for Uptown and Down (2005) and in the span of years it took me to conceive of and write Lagging Indicators, the publishing industry and whatever small place I had in it had changed dramatically.  The number of publishing houses had shrunk due to consolidation and it was becoming harder to break through—even if an author had been previously published.  Frankly, I didn’t even know what types of stories editors wanted; I only knew the types of stories I wanted to tell and hoped they would resonate with someone.  I did receive some kudos for the manuscript, but not enough for a book contract.  Writing—and this unrealized quest for a traditional book deal—left me deflated.  I questioned whatever “talent” or “skills” I supposedly had and looked with a twinge of envy at writers publishing books with the big houses backed by strong marketing campaigns.  Not a good feeling.

Resigned, I decided to put Lagging Indicators aside and began sketching the outlines for another story since writers ultimately write not for publication, but because we feel compelled to.  There are stories inside of us waiting to be told, even if they just end up being piles of typed-up pages in a drawer.  Then it dawned on me that my story about Mia Lewis didn’t have to stay in a drawer.  I could share her with the rest of the world through self-publishing.  People had been urging me to do this for years, but I’d been skeptical and held back.  After extensive research on the Internet, I came across Indie Book Launcher, an independent publishing service that helped me with everything from the cover to formatting the manuscript to uploading on various platforms and guidance with promotions.  They were so professional and just got it.  My publishing adviser knew intuitively what I was trying to convey and consistently took the time and effort to understand my characters, themes, and me as a writer.  The support I’ve received has been invaluable.

Once I made the decision to become my own publisher, not only did my mood soar, my creative energy, passion for books and writing soared as well.  The euphoria and empowerment I’ve experienced in the last ten months have given me profound insight, both as a writer and as a person.  By making my work available to an audience, I’ve benefited greatly from feedback about the prose and plot; commentary that will help me as I continue to hone my craft.  I’ve also learned about so many resources available to indie authors—things that were unimaginable when I was first published in 2005.

I’ve also stopped feeling like an imposter.  Although I’d been published once before, in my mind, it was so long ago that it almost didn’t count anymore.  But I now have two books under my belt.  I managed to create two distinct plots, fashioned dozens of characters and churned out over 200,000 words.  I feel a sense of accomplishment rather than doubt or failure.  We writers are constantly looking for validation.  Ours is a lonely business and there are gatekeepers, juries, and reviewers who wield an incredible amount of influence.  It’s difficult to detach oneself from that long-established world.  I consider myself an author who embraces publishing in all of its constellations and formats, but at this stage of my life, becoming an indie author was the right decision for me.  I’m not only an author but also an entrepreneur and I’m so excited about my new product!  By taking ownership of Lagging Indicators, I’ve realized that the courage and determination I created in the character of Mia Lewis also lived inside of me.

Whatever your artistic pursuit or business idea, there are alternate paths to achieving your goals.  Technology and our interconnected world are changing the rules of the game; we shouldn’t be afraid to explore new options.  I’m so proud to sign off by saying that Lagging Indicators will be released on July 2nd but is available now for pre-order on Amazon and Barnes and Noble!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I ♥ NYC

 

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Both of my novels take place in New York and the city is more than a backdrop; it becomes a character in itself.  My love affair with NYC began as a kid, although I don’t remember exactly when.  Maybe it was when my father took us to Macy’s on Black Friday or when I went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art with my mom.  The details are not as important as the feeling I got, marveling at all the people—a cornucopia of colors, ages and styles—so different from the mainstream community in my hometown.  Both Nora Deschamps in Uptown and Down and Mia Lewis in Lagging Indicators grew up in places that, though nice for kids, wouldn’t cut it for the adults they wanted to become.  This sentiment echoes my own and I guess that’s why I infused my characters with that same sense of longing.

Anything is possible in New York.  The city is filled with the energy and resources to suit every desire and ambition.  Recently, some have criticized the current state of affairs in New York, lamenting the loss of edginess and creativity in favor of wealth and gentrification.  I’ve also been guilty of those thoughts and can wax lyrical about the New York of my youth, a place where I would linger at vintage bookstores on the Upper West Side or sit at a Greenwich Village café with a pen and a notebook, struggling to look like a serious writer!  I’m old enough to remember when slaughterhouses permeated the Meatpacking District, not hip restaurants, shops or hotels.  Nevertheless, those electrical currents of possibility, that tingling sensation in my stomach when I see Manhattan through an airplane window or drive in from my hometown in upstate New York, still remain.  I cannot wait to get my feet on the pavement; to hear that distinct New York accent (mine comes out as well); hail a cab and have it screech to a halt; then go to my old stomping grounds and feel like a local.

Yes, New York is a tough place.  It can chew you up and spit you out.  There are decadence and excess, dark elements that can consume you if you don’t keep things in perspective.  Tension and conflict are built in the city’s DNA, making it the perfect canvas for characters to succeed, fail, grow, regress, fall in love, get rejected, lose their way, find themselves, descend into a downward spiral, rise up…  A writer can juxtapose glamour and grittiness; intellectualism with frivolity; culture with commerce; openness with oppression. The city’s diversity allows us to create characters that are unique—quirky, provocative individuals symbolic of a world in flux.  Hard rules don’t apply and New York is still the place for those who want to reinvent themselves and defy convention.

I will never get over my love affair with NYC and here are some postcards from my visit to prove it!

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My sister treated me to a performance of Romeo and Juliet and I was transported to another world by the artistry and athleticism. Storytelling in movement and music!  I love the cultural atmosphere of the Upper West Side and Lincoln Center.

Isabella Boylston and David Hallberg conveyed the love and angst of Romeo and Juliet with so much depth and emotion.

My last NYC address was on the Upper East Side and I still stay in that part of town whenever I visit.  This time I booked The Lowell on East 63rd Street.  Very cozy hotel with a beautiful library/club room, Majorelle restaurant, Jacques bar and lounge.

I always try to get together with old friends and these two have been in my life since I was fourteen years old.  I think we were the loudest ones in the restaurant!

I woke up after a good night’s sleep—much-needed for my jet-lagged bones—and went out for an early morning walk in Central Park.  What I love about NYC is that no matter how early or quiet you think it is, the streets are always bustling with cars, dogs, runners, delivery people…

I bought coffee at my favorite cafe, Sant Ambroeus, but stopped at a trusty diner for a Western omelet after my walk.  Quick, easy and delicious!

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Back in Sweden, I really crave black and white cookies. They are quintessentially New York for me and I couldn’t resist buying three at William Greenberg. They are the best!

Then I was off to the International Center of Photography with my college roommate to view the Henri Cartier-Bresson exhibit.  I’m most familiar with his Parisian series of photographs so it was very interesting to see the work he had done in India, Pakistan and the US (Pittsburgh).  They were multilayered and more than the pretty pictures I usually associate with his oeuvre.

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We also stopped by Salon 94 to see the latest Laurie Simmons show. Colorful depictions of identity and engaging commentary on prescribed roles.
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I love how I was able to spend time Uptown and Downtown. The contrasts are important to me and provide different kinds of energy and inspiration. This restaurant, The Butcher’s Daughter, in Nolita was super cute and delicious. Perfect outdoor dining on a warm and sunny day!

With my dear college friend—a photographer, writer and cultural critic.  We reminisced about our student years and discussed where we are in our lives today.  I love how our conversations touched on everything from high to low!

I still have a host of things I want to see while I’m here and hopefully I’ll get a chance to do them.  The Heavenly Bodies exhibition at the Met and the new André Leon Talley documentary are top of my list.  In the meantime, here are some more snapshots from my favorite city—creativity and stimulation captured from just walking down the street.

What’s your favorite city?