Hello, dear readers, and welcome!
Some of you may be new to this site, some of you may have been here before, and some of you may be long-time fans -- whatever the case, thank you for stopping by! I hope you'll stick around and become part of the Allegiant family (that is, an extremely wonderful fan; if you're wondering where I got the title Allegiant from, you can read Midnight Terrors at CrimsonSterling.com).
In case you don't know much about me, my name is Alexandra, and I am a writer -- and artist, and analyzer (and sometimes over-analyzer). I write (Speculative, mainly) fiction, and blog posts like the one you're reading, under the names Alexandra Lanc and Crimson Sterling (for YA and Adult fiction respectively). I was part of the mainstream, traditional Self-Publishing world for nearly four years, up until a few days ago (as of this writing). And now, everything has changed, and I'm not part of that world anymore, at least not in the same way--
Because I've left the traditional Self-Publishing world behind.
You may have noticed my titles disappearing from the sites mentioned below. You may wonder why on Earth I decided to say goodbye to the Indie Publishing world -- to Amazon, Nook, iTunes, Kobo, to marketing, and releasing e-books regularly. That's what this post is about; this post is for those of you who have supported me from the beginning, those of you who do publish, or want to, and for those of you who are merely curious. I hope what I have to say is helpful to you in some way.
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A New Beginning
Why did I leave the traditional Self-Publishing world?
Well, because I'm crazy -- or not, or maybe. *laughs*
The real reason is much more simplistic and yet complicated than that, and it all really boils down to this: for me, it was getting to be too much constraint, and not enough of doing what I really love to do, which is creating.
I've ranted about how frustrating publishing can be many times before, but I'll start by saying that this isn't the case for everyone, and I'm in no way saying that Indie Publishing (or publishing in general) is bad. I've had, overall, a rewarding experience in the Self-Publishing world. I have fallen many times, risen many times (Clara Claus has been on the bestseller's list nearly since the beginning), and learned the value of hard work -- and more than anything, staying true to yourself. These aren't lessons I could have learned otherwise, and so I am grateful to them. I still love books -- paper books, especially -- and I will always love writers like me, who work hard to create them. In stepping away from the Self-Publishing world, I'm not giving up, but creating a new beginning; I am working to re-discover my true creative self.
Being a creator -- a writer, artist, musician, actor, etc. -- is difficult. The wonderful thing about the beauty of art is that it looks simple, but in the same token that wonderful thing can sometimes be detrimental to the artist. It's all too easy to look at your work and say: "Why did this take me so long?", and think that you're a failure or are being lazy...but then it's also all too easy to forget that time is never wasted on a genuine pursuit, and that the old saying "haste makes waste" often rings true.
Self-Publishing is a business, and like any other business, there are plenty of things to do: marketing, website building, marketing, answering e-mails, marketing, getting covers created, marketing, going to events, marketing, and, somewhere in this long list of mainly marketing, the "real work" of actually writing. If you're like me, you're an absolute perfectionist, and are hardly ever satisfied with your work, because you think that you should always do better, do "more", that it should be perfect (I will note, however, another thing I have learned: your best really is all that can be asked of you, even from yourself). There is a giant, crowded marketplace out there, and even answering tweets on Twitter can take hours (or scheduling tweets to hopefully get the word out about your work). This takes a large amount of time away from writing, and in my case, it led to endless frustration.
There will always be work outside of the work that you love; we all have to do things that we don't want to do, and that is life. But one of the decisions I made when I decided to leave Self-Publishing was to pursue real connections, instead of connections with the marketing, connections which I feel like I've missed out on, thanks to time being wasted, in my opinion, on things that didn't get me anywhere, on things that did not help me, personally, get to where I wanted to go.
There are people who can juggle all of those "necessary" things like the hours of marketing and networking, but I am not one of them -- or, I don't want to be one of them any longer; it is too much for me. In saying goodbye to Self-Publishing, I want to reconnect with my writing, which has taken a sore hit from lack of time, and with my artwork, and with my fans, because I miss these things, and the creativity that stems from them.
I'm taking things back to basics -- and by basics I mean being myself, and doing what I can do.
Do What Only You Can Do
Speaking of doing what you can do, here is a big part of why I have made this decision: falsity.
There will always be things, as I said above, that we have to do in order to run a business -- to live, to work, etc. Laundry? Yes, it has to be done. Bills? No, you can't forget them. Dishes? I don't recommend letting that one go for long, or you might find little buggers crawling around your home.
In everything, there are things that we have to do, but I feel like that in Self-Publishing (and other industries, I am sure), there are too many things that we have to do in order to be "successful" (a subtle difference, yes, but an important one). By have to do, I mean this: denying your comfort zone, and not in a good way.
Advice is wonderful; advice is great. It's wise to listen to other's opinions or wisdom, and take it into consideration. It is not, however, helpful when you try to conform to the seemingly necessary things that go against how you function as a person.
What do I mean? Everyone has their own way of doing things, and the evidence is visible everywhere: writing styles differ, clothing styles differ, even how we write our letters differs; it is all very personal and unique, and that is how we are able to bring new things to the world. Aside from the truly necessary things, we should be free to be ourselves when we work, so that we can bring this uniqueness to the world, and create new ideas, doing what only we can do.
For me, the Self-Publishing industry was truly choking me to death, especially creatively. Trying to make things "work", I implemented various different methods over the years: blog tours, release parties, publishing books every few months, offering books free, publishing short serials, writing blog posts on a set day every week, writing books where readers could vote, using social media heavily, marketing heavily -- and do you know what? None of them worked.
That's right: none of them worked.
Did they fail to work because they were bad ideas? No, I don't believe so, because they worked for others, so obviously they weren't bad ideas to begin with. The key is that they were bad ideas for me.
I don't work well with a strict schedule. I don't work well if I'm trying to plan things far in advance (for real life, anyway; I'm great at plotting books in advance, and I usually always know the ending shortly after the idea is conceived). I don't work well if I'm pressured to write or finish a project by a certain date. I don't work well if I am forced to work on the same project continuously. These things aren't wrong, they are just me. (For a post on this, check out: Working With Your Creative Clock.)
I can't -- and shouldn't -- try to be anything but who I am, to do what only I can do, and that is the biggest lesson I have learned from Self-Publishing.
I work best when I am struck with creativity, or when I tell myself that I want to get something done because I want to get it done. I work best if I work on more than one story, if I skip between them, just like I skip between books (I tend to read at least 10 at a time, whenever the mood strikes). I work best if I can create art and writing together, and really get a feel for my stories. I work best if I take my time.
I can only do what I can do, and by doing what I can do, I am being me.
Work has a way of changing things. Dreams are never as easy to attain as they seemed when we were children -- but that doesn't mean that we should stop straining, reaching for the stars.
The truth is: I'm not a publisher -- I'm a writer, an artist, an analyst. It took me a while to figure that out, to get to where I don't feel guilty "doing what I can do", instead of doing what I have to do, according to the mainstream world. But life is a journey, and as one door closes and another door opens, I can genuinely say that though I'm a bit scared and nervous, I am also extremely excited, and that I feel more like Alexandra now than I ever have.
What does it mean to be Alexandra? It might take time to really be able to answer that question, but I can also honestly say that I wouldn't know this much if it weren't for my time in the Indie Publishing ring.
It's often hard to step out and do your own thing, to leave something that has been "safe" for years behind, but the people I admire most have done so, and so maybe that's why I'm less afraid to do it myself. I left Self-Publishing because I saw another avenue that was more me, closer to who Alexandra is, and because I believed that I could achieve a closer vision to my original if I worked differently; I am creating my own avenue now, doing what I can do. Creating is a intimate thing, closer to who we are.
Does this mean that I will stop producing titles, stop writing, stop releasing books, and ultimately stop publishing in any form?
The truth is: Yes, and no.
I've launched my new website today, along with this post, so that you can see for yourself what I am doing, so that I can take my first few steps forward.
Yes, I will stop, according to traditional Self-Publishing, which says that you have to be on Amazon, and Nook, and everywhere else in the world, that says you have to sell thousands of e-books to even begin to make a profit, that says you have to release a new book every month, and write until your fingers fall off; I am saying goodbye to this method of publishing, to this method of books, to this method of writing, because I cannot do it, and prosper, and be Alexandra--
However -- no, I will not stop, according to Alexandra's rules of publishing.
Enter The Patrons
When I first received what I like to call my "crazy idea", I knew that there would be plenty of things to work out and work through, just as I knew immediately that it was the right thing for me to do, so very Alexandra. And, after weeks and weeks of searching, after I put together the new site, figured out ways to get my work to where readers could easily read it, I finally found the last key that I felt I needed: not only fans, not only Allegiants, but Patrons.
Patronage is certainly not a new thing. People have been patrons for the arts, especially, throughout history (and geniuses like Shakespeare, Da Vinci, and more were certainly very happy for this, I am sure). And I personally think that it's a wonderful idea, and very close-knit, personal.
When it comes to Patreon, the partner I am working with, what does it mean to be a Patron?
Now, what does this mean for my fans, my Allegiants, specifically? You can read a summary on the new Mission and Donations page, but here is basically how I have planned things to work:
~ I write, draw, create blog posts like this, and post them to my website(s) for readers to read/view free.
~ Patrons pledge to donate whatever amount works best for them (with some fun gifts!) per post, to support my work, keep the website(s) functioning, help me reach goals like getting titles in paperback for Allegiants to treasure, and pay for supplies.
~ If applicable, Patrons receive their gifts as a thank you once a month (or when I post things to the special Patreon feed), along with enjoying new content here on my website, Patron buttons for their site, social media, or blog, and the special thank you of being listed on the Brought To You By page.
~ Readers also have the option of making a donation through Smashwords to download the .epub or .mobi file of the stories they read free here on the site for their personal library, or to recommend my books to their local library, which can download them from Smashwords through Library Direct for free.
~ Once paperbacks are made, readers will be able to purchase them through links from my site. The paperbacks that I have made up until now will remain available until new editions are released.
Does it sound fun and simple? That's the idea, because I like simple, and I wanted to find a solution that was as author-friendly as it was reader-friendly.
The Journey Forward
I may have left traditional Self-Publishing for something new, but I am and will always be committed to creating great work, and trying my best. Thank you for going along on the journey with me, readers, Allegiants, because it really does mean so much.
Who can say where this road will take me, and there is still a long way to go, but I am confident that change is usually for the better, and I am excited to begin creating with passion again!