I am a fangirl. I have been a fangirl of various things in my life, usually celebrities. I mean, what teenager doesn’t have that singer or actor they absolutely can’t get enough of?
Recently, though, I started fangirling a different sort of people. It all started with Chantelle Atkins. I was reading her articles for Author’s Publish, loving all of them, then one day I came across her Facebook page and started following her. I loved her book covers so much and I wanted to know who’d done them. It took me a good while to build up the courage to message her. I mean, come on, at this point I had little stars in my eyes over her work and I had this image of her in my mind of being this fabulous author while I was piddling away as a nobody.
So, I asked her who did the work. She directed me to Jakeart1. Chantelle and I continued to chat after that, and I think we’ve established a nice business relationship as well as personal. We go back and forth helping each other out, you’ll see in her own words how I assisted with her rebranding.
That wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t fangirled a “real” person.
I asked Chantelle to add a little something about her own experiences with connecting with myself and with other authors. Here is what she had to say!
As a self-published author, getting the word out about your books is key. The key to everything! Because it’s so difficult, time-consuming and potentially expensive to do this, I try to keep my social media sites as active and engaging as possible. When I first started my Facebook author page, for instance, I was hesitant. I’m an introvert at heart and didn’t know how or what to post to engage with people. It’s been a few years now, and I’ve started to get the hang of it. Better yet, I truly enjoy it! I have to say, my Facebook page is my favorite place and I would hang out there all day if I could. Engaging with readers and other writers in this way is essential for indie authors. Making contacts and connections is vital and a lot of fun.
One of the best things I ever did was submit articles to Author’s Publish magazine. I think a fair amount of my likes on Facebook come from doing this. This means the majority of them are other writers, but I think this is great. You can’t imagine how lovely it is to receive messages from people who have read and enjoyed those articles because something in them resonated with them.
What’s even nicer, is when those people stay in touch and go on to become a real online friend. Someone who reads and reviews your books, shares your stuff and offers advice when you need it. Shalaena is one of those people for me, and one of the biggest ways she helped me when we first started communicating, was with the revamp of my blog/website.
At the time it was in dire need of a makeover and focus. Shalaena told me about a course she was on, where she had learned about making a blog more focused and driven in order to draw in the right audience. She helped me to think about the aim of my blog and also; who were my target audience? What did all my books have in common? What did I write about and why? Over a few weeks, with Shalaena’s help I transformed my blog from Chantelle Atkins blog to The Glorious Outsiders, which I am tremendously proud of. My books are about outsiders, those who don’t fit in and don’t even want to. This was the common theme and once I realized this, the rest came easily.
I’ve made other connections with other writers for different reasons too. I once noticed an author who had added her books to the same ‘themes’ as mine in iAuthor. This made me jot down her name and at a later date I looked her up on Amazon, then found her on Facebook and messaged her page. I told her I thought her books sounded similar to mine in content and couldn’t wait to read one. She was so lovely and surprised to hear this, and even more so when I posted again after reading one of the books, which had met all of my expectations and more. Kate Rigby is now a great friend of mine and we have even met up in real life. It’s so lovely when this happens! I like to think we also support each other, by chatting and by reading and reviewing each other’s books.
Survival as an indie writer is, for me anyway, dependent on other writers, on the whole community. It’s full of lovely, vibrant, brave and unusual people. They are the people who didn’t give up when one door was closed to them. They carried on anyway, honing their craft, learning from others, doing everything themselves and making great friends in the process. My top tip to anyone about to embark on independent publishing? Make connections! Reach out to people. Help each other.
I mentioned being redirected to Jakeart1. I immediately followed her page and went through her works and, you guessed it, became a fangirl. I commissioned two pieces from her—the front and back covers for The Worst Dyrkon. The whole thing was friendly and professional. Even though I didn’t ask her to, she bought and read my first book, Those Who Wander. She loved it, and even made some fanart to go with it! (No, I don’t own the prints, they are hers!)
The most recent fangirling I did was over an artist in a World of Warcraft group I’m part of on Facebook. Miss B.R. Soule. She’d started a comic series called The Adventures of Grimory and Anarchaia. A demon hunter tasked by Archmage Khadgar, with aiding his apprentice in her research within Suramar. Soule believes in fanservicing (drawings and literature just for the fans and often by request). I remember messaging her, asking about posting stories on tumblr (I admit I’m still fairly new to it!). I shared my story with her, which she’d inspired by writing a short story for her characters, and she said mine put hers to shame. (I don’t know where she gets that crap, she’s a fantastic writer!) Upon discovering I was published, she asked me to edit one of her pieces. I’m going to use the term “edit” loosely because, to be honest, there wasn’t much to actually do. Because she’s a fantastic writer. (If you’re reading this, shut up and accept that you’re fantastic.) From there I joined her Discord channel and I fangirled all over the place, in secret, because seriously, just look at her work! Look at it!
One day, we joined in an RP chat session. And we had a lot of fun for a few days, just having our characters cause trouble in this tavern with one other RPer. About the same time, we thought about how much fun it would be to write a story with our characters and an actual storyline. We made our own server and started writing A Lesson in Patience, each in turn and controlling our own characters. I’ve never had so much fun writing. Ever. In just one month we finished 160,000 words of story. The first part is 44 chapters long! Yes, I’m planning on compiling it—with the art that accompanies it—for fans to purchase as a paperback at print-cost (no profit to the writers because it is a fanfic and we do not own the world it takes place in).
We’re still writing.
Every day, the first thing I check on my phone is if she has posted. I stop in grocery stores to post replies. She takes every second she gets during her busy work schedule, to write out her posts.
What have we gained? Quite a bit, actually. She is essentially getting free lessons in writing, as well as that much needed “write every day” practice. As am I! She’s working with an author and editor, who doesn’t just tell her something is wrong, but I tell her why. I’m learning things from her as well. Words I’d never known before that for some reason she knows (seriously, I thought it was ‘knock’ an arrow; I never would have double checked to find out it’s nock). She’s also been working with me a lot with drawing. I never would have tried digital art if it weren’t for her. As it turns out, I’m a lot better at digital work than I am with paper and pencil (traditional). And she is there every step of the way, even drawing on my own screen captures to show me how I can adjust the image when I’m absolutely stuck.
I don’t know how she feels about it, but I also gained a best friend in her. This is a person who can make me laugh when I feel like crying. When I’m having a bad day, she brightens it just by being there. And it sucks that we’re so far apart, because I would give anything to hug her and tell her to her face that she is one of the most important people in my life now, and I won’t give her up for anything.
So, go out, fangirl a “real” person, rather than a celebrity. Message an indie author you like or an unknown artist from tumblr that you follow. Because I guarantee 100% that they want to hear from you. Hell, I’d love to hear from a fan who is just bursting to tell me what they think of my books or art.
Indies love to hear that someone out there cares that they are working so hard to provide content for fans to enjoy. It keeps us going. It proves to us that we are doing something right. It also encourages us when we welcome in that dark storm cloud over our head that tells us we’re a failure, that tells us we should have gone traditional (and then most of us remember that we got rejected from traditional publishers and that’s why we’re indie).
Go forth, my friends, and fangirl. Then message those you fan over, because you just might find your new best friend.
Stay Abstract ❤