Imposter Syndrome, A Snarly Dog

Imposter Syndrome is a Snarly Dog. I decided it was time to write about this, after mentoring one of my author friends on Imposter Syndrome and self-doubt. I realized this is something we don’t talk about enough. If we did, writers would not view it as unique or unexpected when it happens to them.

Mention Imposter Syndrome in a room full of authors and ask them to raise their hands if they have ever encountered it and you will see almost every hand go up. It is as common as typing THE END. Think about that for a minute. Let this sink in – Imposter Syndrome is so common to writers, that almost everyone has experienced it at one time or another. I don’t know any authors who haven’t experienced it and it’s been ten years since my first novel was published and I’ve been in author circles for over twenty years. Imposter Syndrome is universal and seems to be part of the author’s journey.

I like to picture these doubts as snarling dogs, because that’s what they do. They ask the question who do you think you are? And it’s always with that snarl.

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I like to say Imposter Syndrome is a big snarly dog and you have to go all out alpha on it to show it who the alpha is.

Imposter Syndrome is a form of self-doubt and is fear based. Fear of being judged as an author, fear of having your book judged, fear of being found wanting, fear of someone saying – who do you think you are to write that book? You may experience one of these or another from the same snarling dog family.

You may experience this snarly dog with your first book or your twentieth. When writing, you may experience it halfway through, in those moments when you think the good pages you wrote yesterday which you thought were such good pages now totally suck and the whole book totally sucks so much you’d like to shred it, burn it or delete it. That one is a very nasty snarly dog. You can’t let it win. You may experience a snarly dog after hitting the bestseller lists multiple times; with readers saying they love your books. Some writers experience it on book release day and don’t feel like celebrating, because that snarly dog is winning. You may experience it when being asked to read from your work or when asked to speak or to be in an interview or on a panel. So, what can you do about a snarly dog?

First, know they can pop up at any time and be ready to face one. Acknowledge it and face it. No hiding in your house, or cancelling or destroying pages. No posting all over social media, wallowing in it and being a victim of it. Tell an author friend or mentor privately if you need to talk about it, but then face that snarly dog.

Imposter Syndrome is a big snarly dog and you have to go all alpha on it to show it who the alpha is. Your words and your voice and your stories have value. When it snarls, say out loud, “I am (your full name) and my words have value. My book has value and people want to read it.”

There is power in “I am” statements. Great power.

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Now go write your awesome books, never let the snarly dogs win, and boost and encourage your fellow creative friends. I’m fine with you quoting me and hope this article helps.

To learn more about Debra Parmley and her books, or for classes (lots of new author classes coming this summer beginning with the Write Like a Pro Con in Peoria, IL June 7,8,9) check out:

Website www.debraparmley.com

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YouTube https://www.youtube.com/user/DebraParmleyRomance/

Write Like a Pro https://www.writelikeaproauthorconference.com/

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Audiobooks are an Expensive Gamble for the Indie Author

Audiobooks are an expensive gamble for the Indie Author.

Here is what goes into the making of an audiobook if you go through ACX.

First you’ll need to set up your account. You’ll need to decide if you are going to pay a flat fee for the narrator, or if you are going to do a 50/50 royalty split. If hiring a SAG narrator, the minimum is $100 per finished hour with a 50/50 split. This was the option I chose for my first two audiobooks, Check Out, and Trapping the Butterfly. I hired professional SAG narrators to do my first two audiobooks.

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You also have to decide whether to go exclusive through ACX or non-exclusive. With exclusive your audiobooks are available through Audible, Amazon and iBooks. A non-exclusive contract allows you to distribute your audiobooks through any vendor you choose.

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I chose to go non-exclusive for my second two audiobooks, Dangerous Ties, and Aboard the Wishing Star, and I hired a narrator who is also a musician who could  add music to the audiobooks, which I felt was a nice touch. He charged a flat fee with no royalty split and he can advise me on putting the books onto CD’s or other media so I can sell them at book signings. The options are wide open.

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The process of listening carefully to each tape which is sent, chapter by chapter and making sure the audio matches the words on the page is a slow and time consuming one. It is also a slow process for your narrator to narrate the book. Then when everything is done for the narration, you will need an audiobook cover, so that can be an additional expense if your cover artist charges extra for that form which is a square and changes your cover some.

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So you have your audiobook done and now it’s time to promote it. ACX will give you 25 free download codes to send to reviewers. But be careful how you use them as those codes can be used for any audiobook in the store, not just yours. In the wrong hands and you won’t even see any reviews. Vet your reviewers.

Things were going well, I had the new audiobooks finished and out there, sales were coming in slowly, reviews were coming in, and then Audible came out with their romance package. Similar to Kindle Unlimited, this allows readers/listeners to listen to audiobooks if they pay for the romance package. Instead of royalties on a sale, authors would get paid when the books were listened to.

Neither KU or this romance package are in favor of authors, if you look closely at them. This is akin to …let’s say, you are a peach seller, selling cans of peaches. But you only get paid when someone opens the can and eats them. Cans of peaches can sit on someone’s shelf a long time. So can an ebook or an audiobook. The one who benefits the most is the seller of the KU program or the seller of the romance package. Authors, not so much. Like that can of peaches, the book may be a good purchase, a yummy purchase. But until someone opens it and takes that first bite, we don’t get paid one dime. And they have to eat all the peaches or read all the pages for you to be paid in full for your book. I doubt we could get any sellers of canned peaches talked into this kind of a deal. But authors went for it.

Initially I’d said yes to the romance package and tried it for a year. My audiobook sales plummeted. People are busy. They might “buy” your audiobook but that doesn’t mean they have time to read/listen to it. People are busy. This is not a good situation for the author.

After trying the ACX romance package, I sent ACX a letter and pulled my books out of the program. You’d think sales would then have picked up. Enter the next problem.

Pirates. Yes, audiobooks are pirated too and some pirates are so bold they’ll even post Youtube Videos telling readers where to get those books for free. So now we’re not even getting paid for page reads or page listens. Now we are getting zip. Zero. Nada.

Readers keep asking me when I am going to put out a new audiobook. I’m giving a straight answer to this. I’m not. Not until these four audiobooks earn out the costs of producing them. Until that day, I can’t afford to put another one out there. Publishers need to be profitable to stay in business. This is true of Indie authors and Indie publishers. When my audiobook sales pick up, then you will see more of my audiobooks.

Here’s some straight talk, JA Konrath style: I have $1,810.00 invested in the production of these four audiobooks. The shortest one was $310.00 to narrate. I’ve sold a total of 128 audiobooks since 2016 when I put the first one out and brought in $236.57 so far. Not even enough to cover the cost of producing the smallest audiobook.

This morning I spent time sending take down notices on pirated copies of all four audiobooks. Pirates suck. They just do. And if you are a reader/listener who downloads from pirated sites, then you are in receipt of stolen merchandise. You might as well be holding up banks and liquor stores, or fencing stolen property, all of that is theft and helping people steal and you suck. I don’t want to hear your excuses, because no excuse changes the fact that you are a thief. I hope the karma bus comes fast and hits you hard with what you deserve.

Newer authors often ask me about putting their books into audio. Well, here are the facts as I have experienced them so far with my audiobooks. Two of those books were RONE award nominated ebooks and that’s a reader vote. In case anyone was thinking my books might suck. It’s not my books that are the problem and I have those reader votes to back me up. What sucks are the pirates and the systems of paying authors and narrators for their work. Remember on a 50/50 royalty split, the narrator is getting screwed by these pirates too.

I’d like to end on a positive note, so I will take this time now to say I am truly, eternally grateful for my readers and reviewers who have purchased my books and left reviews. You are why I continue to write and put my books out there. You are the treasures in this pirate filled world and I thank God for you.

Legitimate places to get Debra’s audiobooks:

Itunes:

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/author/debra-parmley/id411082477?mt=11

Audible:

http://www.audible.com/search/ref=a_pd_Romanc_c2_1_auth?searchAuthor=Debra+Parmley

Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/Debra-Parmley/e/B002BM9H4A/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1509300092&sr=8-1

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For more about Debra visit: debraparmley.com

Indie Marketing Tip #1, part 2 – Branding with Your Profile Pic or Head Shot – Glamour Shots vs. Author Headshots

Branding is – always being yourself.

Remember when I said in Indie Marketing Tip #101 how you could sum up branding by figuring out exactly who you are and then acting like it? Well, it’s a good thing if you look like it too. This was my first professional author head shot and it was taken by Studio at an RWA convention in 2006, not long after my first manuscript, A Desperate Journey, was in the American Title II competition. We all had to have a website before we even had books out and the first photo I had up on my site was a quick photo my husband had taken in the kitchen on our little camera. That first photo didn’t have the clarity a professional shot had and it was a bit fuzzy when picked up by my hometown newspaper for an article they ran, so I, along with many other authors at the convention, signed up and paid for professional photos.

For the photo shoot we were to bring a couple outfits to get some different looks, so I picked three of the outfits I’d packed and did my makeup, basically got all dolled up. The shoot proceeded with lots of shots, three outfits which meant some quick changing, and a lot of posing here and bending there to get the angles the photographer wanted. He was a great photographer and he was creative. He was also used to shooting models. In this shot he moved the lighting to go for “something different.” He liked the way it turned out and called it his “fire shot.”

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The photographer called this his “fire shot” and it was used in their marketing. 

While it was very cool, the photo pulled attention to my hair and the light behind it which lit up. The photo was also touched up in the same way photographs are touched up for fashion magazines. Notice, not one freckle showing. So while it is me, it’s just like the photos you see in fashion magazines – touched up. I don’t believe my skin ever looked that flawless. This photo was used in some of their marketing materials, people would tell me about it even when I wasn’t at an event and so this photo was around for a while, which was quite flattering, but – did it help me sell books? I suspect it mostly helped sell photography services.

For years, when my husband would hand out my bookmarks, people would say, “Is that your wife?” Yes, that’s probably a compliment. But maybe, the ones who had met me were thinking – she didn’t look like that when I met her. The idea here is to sell books, not sell my face, since I’m not a fashion model. The idea is not to sell my hair in a fire shot, cool as it is. Eventually I caught onto the fact that people weren’t recognizing me at large book signings with many authors and I knew I needed to use a different photo.

Of course we want to look our best, but remember, your reader needs to recognize who you are in the photo and who you are at a signing or anywhere else you’re appearing so that you aren’t lost in the crowd. If your photo doesn’t match your regular appearance, they might have a little more trouble recognizing you. Yes, it is your image, your face, but let’s think for a minute about what you are selling. Try to keep your hair, makeup, clothing, etc. close to your usual style – this is not a glamour shot, it’s a professional author head shot, so no fancy makeup or hair is needed.

Watch out for that author ego. We all have one. Not enough of one and you’d never put a book out there. But don’t let it take the wheel and go veering off in a different direction. Would it be tempting to use a glamour shot? Sure. Would it be tempting to use a picture from 2006 instead of 2018 because I was twelve years younger? (And who doesn’t look better in younger pics – most do.) Sure. But that choice would not be the best one.

When you choose a head shot, try to select one that looks like you do now so your readers can find you. And if you change your look drastically as we sometimes do, it might be time for a new head shot.

– Debra Parmley

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Indie Marketing Tip #1 – Branding with Your Profile Pic or Head Shot

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Indie marketing tip #1 – “Keep your profile pics/head shot out there. If they don’t know who you are, they won’t read your work.” – tip from Mike Pettit Your face should be recognizable. Imagine being at a signing event of 350 authors. I bet if you read romance you could pick out the big names, like Nora Roberts. Friends and fans love this pic which was taken of me with my first book by Monica Parks. I love it too, it’s fun and is a good memory for me. But, guess what it doesn’t do? Boost my brand. You need a full head shot to do that. Branding – it’s important. I’ve listened to a lot of people give talks on branding and have read about it. I’m going to sum up branding as simply as I can, to cut through some of that for new Indie authors. Your brand. How do you brand yourself? New authors often ask me that question. Here is the answer I always give. Branding: “To brand yourself first you must know who you are and then act like it.” – Debra Parmley So there are two steps. Do you know who you are? Ego comes up in this topic. And what is ego? It’s our personality, the things that make us who we are. We came down here to earth to be somebody. Remember that. Living small does not serve you well. There is nothing wrong with having an ego. Not enough and you’d never put yourself out there. You’d hide in your author cave. Too much and you’d be insufferable to be around. But you are in control of that. So know who you are. The more you figure that out, the better your branding will be. And guess what the experts who will charge you money to brand you are going to ask? The same questions you have to ask yourself to figure this one out. So you figure that out and then, step #2, you act like it. Be true to yourself. There is only one you. And readers want to get to know you. Every social media site out there is going to want a profile picture. Because that is step one of people getting to know you. So… profile pic = head shot. And as Mike Pettit says, you need to post new ones to keep your brand, your face out there. I’m going to take my own advice here and will be changing my profile pic once a week. Will call it Brand Boost. Cause I have to boost my brand. There are thousands of authors out there and we have to keep boosting our brand if we want to be remembered.