Monday, 29 February 2016

A Friend Indie is a Friend in Need

Look at your address book or your Facebook friends list and count how many of your friends are “indies.” What’s an indie? An indie is someone who produces something like a book, music, film, etc independent of a corporation or company funding their art. An indie is someone who works very hard, for usually very little, and is in constant need of your support. Sometimes they are just starting out, other times they are veterans of their indie scene. Sometimes they make money, a lot of time they don’t. And they always need help from their friends.

There are ways to support your indie friends and ways to really get them riled up and pissed. One of the worst things you can do – and this is such a common issue – is ask for freebies. “Oh you’re in a band, can you get us into the club… get us a free CD… give us a band T-Shirt.” “Oh, you write books, give me one then and I’ll read it.” “Oh, you’re an artist, I’ve got this empty spot in my hallway, think you can fill it?”

A lot of the time people think this type of thing is offering support to indies. I hear a lot of “but I’m encouraging you…” FYI I don’t need encouragement. I’ve already given up my job and dedicated my life to this – I need support, not a slave labour contract. But worse than this “freebie grabbing” is the radio silence most people give their indie friends.

It’s a bit like your friend Sarah who posts endless pictures of her kids. You see them, they make you smile because you remember when Sarah couldn’t get her shit together and now she’s got a great family. It’s the same with your indie friends. You see them doing their thing and you’re proud of them, but that’s where your involvement ends. You wouldn’t share Sarah’s kids on Facebook so why would you share your writer friend’s latest story?

And I think this is a huge problem for indies – getting their friends and families to see their “hobby” as a serious legitimate enterprise. It doesn’t help that most indies have to hold down other jobs to pay the bills, but that doesn’t make what they are doing any less important in their lives. If anything this art they are producing IS the thing in their lives and it needs to be recognised as such. Ignoring it makes us indies feel unloved and uncared for. The thing that is most important to us is being shunned by the people we are closest to.

If we started viewing indies less as self-indulgent arty types and more like we do other careers our perspective on what they do would change. If you know that your old school mate John happens to be a good plumber then you naturally recommend him to people you know when you get the opportunity. If your kid is trying to raise funds for their football team you would probably tweet or advertise the initiative to gain support. Why is this different to indie work? It isn’t.

The main issue though is less with indie friends and more with indies themselves. Unfortunately artistic types (and I can say this because I’m one of them) are typically temperamental at the best of times. I know myself when doing this type of heart on your sleeve work, the emotional upheaval is immense. How is this conveyed to our friends out of the indie scene? Well we must seem like crazy people, trying to run up a vertical wall with jellied eels strapped to our feet. When we don’t make a sale it’s devastating, when we do make a sale there is the briefest moment of egotistical euphoria, followed by more statistic watching and an even bigger emotional dive. Most of us dip in and out of the business to keep ourselves sane, professing “we’re only doing what we want when we want” or “I’m not interested in commercialism” or “I’m going to give up this writing stuff, it just doesn’t make me happy.” You know the kind of bullshit. The kind of comments that scream “I’m not responsible, not driven, not serious.” Followed closely by “Hey look at me, look what I’ve done, each and every one of you should have this up on your fridge, you should be proud of me!”

Let’s face it – we’re exhausting and impossible to keep track off. On Monday we want to jack everything in. By Wednesday we’re going to be famous. Come Saturday we’ve levelled off and become practical, for the whole thing to start again. Whereas most people go through a love hate relationship with their job, artists seem to take these feelings and elevate them beyond the ludicrous. While I’m sat pulling my hair out because I can’t seem to write like I could yesterday, my friend trying to educate a classroom of unruly morons – how can she support me when my mind set is so irrational?

The truth is we all have our own lives and, while I’m engrossed in publishing my next book, I’m less concerned with what Sarah and her kids are doing this week. I imagine her thoughts are the same about me and my work… I mean I imagine that now, because I’m all calm and rational, but give me a couple of hours of writer’s block or a day of no sales and it’s a different story.

So indies when your friends do support you – and they will – remember to keep your eye on those friends too. Just because they’re not writing, playing, creating, doesn’t mean you can ignore the things important to them. And friends of indies if you see a post online about your indie’s work then just repost it for them – in those two seconds your effort could make a very irrational person briefly sedated.

Monday, 22 February 2016

Author Plus

I've been working on my social profile and my online presence this week. Promotion is one of the dreaded duties of published writers and like most I hate it. Some authors find the technical side of online promotion daunting. I can totally sympathise with people not used to Twitter and Facebook trying to get "out there" and feeling overwhelmed by hashtags, likes and shares. This isn't my problem. My issue is less about the not knowing how to say stuff, and much more focused on what to say.

I'm hyper conscious that my posts are public and that when I do make a statement I'm representing my career and my work. I'm also super aware that I have a bizarre sense of humour that doesn't necessarily translate onto the web as well as I'd like. I tend to keep my posts moderated and concise. In saying this, in order to maintain a presence I have to promote something. The easy option of course would be to talk about my work. Don't get my wrong. I love my work. I love writing it. You will love reading it. But - and it's a big BUT - I don't want to talk about it all the time.

This I've learnt is a good thing. People don't like being "sold to" perpetually. I am people and I vouch for that statement.

So this week, as well as working on scheduling posts, doing a bit of writing, and hosting more parties than I can count, I have also been re-engaging with my old hobbies and interests. This is a bit of a revelation for me. Although I love music and film, I've been so busy with writing and promotion and editing and promotion, and writing and perfecting writing... I lost touch with a lot of the things that make me happy and made me - me.

I've been introducing myself as "L E Fitzpatrick, paranormal thriller author."

That's only a slice of my personality. I'm L E Fitzpatrick, I love the countryside. I love it when it rains. I have a dog who governs my life, an evil cat, and a kid that is way smarter than me. My favourite films are action packed and tend to be set in space. My music has to be loud and aggressive. I don't like raw tomatoes, raw onions don't like me. My jokes tend to come faster than my self-restraint. I can't do hair or makeup. I don't wear high heels even though I'm only 5'2. Oh and I also write books. Who are you?

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Romance Is Dead

So maybe I'm a bit late to jump on this valentine's band wagon, but I spent my romantic weekend full of flu, working in a restaurant trying to make a lovely evening for insecure couples that subscribe to that heart shaped nonsense. Yuk! I don't know what was more sickening: the flu or the smoochy hand holding on a rose petal covered table.

Despite being in an extremely long - so long arduous is an appropriate word to use - term relationship, I'm cynical when it comes to corporate displays of affection. In fact the idea of a fancy meal, chocolates, and roses really turns my stomach. And speaking of turned stomachs - for me true love is returning home after a hard day, feeling crap and having your other half waiting with a cup of tea for you. Never mind a dozen red roses. I'd settle for a brew any day.

In saying that, I did spend my valentine's watching Pride and Prejudice (the Colin Firth version) so I suppose I'm not totally heartless... although I was drinking tea then too.

I guess all in all, the type of romance I thrive on is either genuine affection, spurred into action for the sake rather than the show of it. Or is otherwise the result of a tumultuous, angsty adventure, complete with explosions and corpses. Happy belated Valentine's, I hope your day was filled with zombie hordes or Tetley tea bags.

Monday, 8 February 2016

New Website

As this is the month of new-y newness - new book, new X-files that kind of thing - I've also revamped my website.

This included taking the plunge and purchasing a domain name, which was a bitter bill to pay (because I love freebies), but I think it makes things a bit more professional and the more I look professional the more I might start acting professional... okay it's a long shot.

But one of the things I wanted to do on the site was make it a bit interactive. There's an extras section which has some free stuff about the Reacher series and you can also read my blog there... which makes things weird because you could be reading this update on my website about my website being updated - oooh my head hurts.

This is the website: so check it out.

You can now also join my mailing list and those that do get a free, unreleased short Reacher story (one of my favourites in fact). This story won't be released anywhere else so if you want it sign up. And don't worry about being hassled every day by me - it's hard enough keeping a blog post updated once a week, my newsletter will be strictly monthly updates as needed.

Anymore ideas what I can do to make my series more interesting to you let me know.

Monday, 1 February 2016

Release Party

Well we're nearly here. The release date has been set for The Running Game, as has an event party, blog tour and who knows what else... seriously, I have no idea what's going on. I'm in full panic mode. It seems crazy that I feel this week has caught me off guard, after all I've had months to prepare for it! But I guess it's just nerves. My natural, self-preserving pessimism has kicked in and I'm expecting it to all go horribly wrong.

Actually I think what's really freaking me out is that for over a year I've done no marketing. When Booktrope picked up The Running Game I figured I'd just put everything on hold for release day... well that's this Wednesday, which means the promotion baton needs to be picked up again and I have to start flogging my work. I don't mind telling you I'm feeling a bit rusty and the old bones are creaking at the prospect.

My hermit year is over. It's time to face the music. Cue the big band, let's go out on stage and perform. And that's what I'll be doing for this entire month, probably for this entire year. So come and join me, it'll either be awesome or a car crash disaster... either way you won't want to miss it.

My Release Party will be on Facebook on the 3rd, with lots of my author friends and prizes and you can join here: