Award-Winning Indie Author and owner of an editing + publishing services business—AMA!

Liv Hadden
Mar 15, 2018

My first publishing experience was BAD. I did all the wrong things with people who knew about as much as I did (*cough* which means nothing *cough*). I used that experience to work harder and educate myself. Now, I'm a much better writer working with the right publisher and a great editor. I also help other authors make their books irresistible through my business. I'm here to help you avoid the mistakes I made—AMA :).

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Do you consider yourself as creative? Do you think your own evaluation of your creative endeavors is influenced by the other people's views?
Mar 21, 7:28PM EDT0

I do think I am creative. But, the ways I see myself as creative often differ from how others see me.

For example, my family may think my writing is what makes me creative whereas I think I'm most creative when finding solutions to tough problems with a lot of constraints.

I'm not saying my writing isn't creative, but I don't think it's the most creative thing about me. And I'm happy about that. I think having my identity as a creative linked too closely to something others are prone to critiquing is a dangerous game. I don't take much personally, but that just seems like playing with fire.

Interesting question...I'm kind of curious what your answer is if you care to share?

Mar 22, 1:02AM EDT0
Have you ever thought of writing children's books? Do you think it'll be a good fit for you?
Mar 21, 6:30PM EDT0

I actually just thought about that this morning! I think writing children's books (meaning elementary age or younger) would be really hard. Kid's minds are so maleable—it's a huge responsibility to create content that promotes a growth mindset, acceptance, resilience, hard work... there are just so many things to keep in mind.

For all the reasons I don't have kids, I will probably not write a children's book. I prefer less corruptable readers :).

Awesome question!

Mar 22, 12:55AM EDT0
How is working as a publisher different from being a writer? Which one do you like more and is it difficult to find balance between the two?
Mar 21, 1:48PM EDT0

I've never technically been a publisher, though my business does provide publishing services like editing, book formatting, and cover design. I really enjoy helping people make their books shine and exceed the vision they had in their heads.

Writing is a lot less procedural and a lot more of a problem-solving process. You're constantly putting your characters in peril then figuring out how they're gonna get out. You're figuring out what the story is saying, how you want your readers to feel in any given moment, what to show and what to withhold. When you're writing, you're in this whole other world where publishing isn't even a concern. It's just about telling the story.

As for balance...one is a service I provide to keep the lights on. The other is my work, the thing I'm doing in the world. I'd be lying to say I don't worry more about the lights some days, but I base all my decisions and my schedule around my writing. 

Mar 21, 4:06PM EDT0

Which one example of the mistake you did, you use to encourage other upcoming authors?

Mar 21, 8:47AM EDT0

Not paying good money for an editor. I was being scarce with my money because honestly, I was scared to spend money for someone to tell me my writing was crap. But let me tell you having worked with several editors now, there is nothing more satisfying than someone telling you how to make your story better. Than how to be the best writer you can be. 

Feedback and constructive criticism are my lifeblood now. If I could slap younger me and tell her to work double-time to save money for an editor, I would. Even George RR Martin and JK Rowling have editors, for good reason.

Mar 21, 4:01PM EDT0
What are some of your upcoming projects?
Mar 20, 11:50PM EDT0

Thanks for asking! I'm working on finishing a sci-fi adventure novel that will be published by Literary Wanderlust in early 2019.

I'm also working on the 3rd edition of my first novel—basically rewriting it to incorporate everything I've been working on and be way better writing.

Thanks for asking :)

Mar 21, 3:45PM EDT0
Can you share the types of mistakes you made in your first publishing experience that you wish people would avoid?
Mar 20, 10:06PM EDT0

YES!

I didn't do any research to understand the different publishing options. "Indie" is a very general term that spans from self-publishing to actual independent publishers. The in between is what got me...so-called "hybrid" publishing. There are different versions of it and there are a lot of scams, but if you do it right you basically pay someone to deal with the logistics of selling a book. Not a bad deal.

Anyway, I didn't do my research, thought I was signing with an independent publisher, but ended up with a hybrid that literally did NOTHING with my book. I ended up taking care of everything myself—I may as well have not signed. And of course, it cost me money I never anticipated.

The next most important thing I can suggest is get an editor. And remember you get what you pay for. The cheaper they are, the higher the chance they won't do your work justice. At the very least, they don't value their work enough to charge appropriately for it—is that really who you want handling your hard work? My first novel is FULL of issues—developmental, structural, grammatical...it's a mess. Luckily, the characters and story are engaging enough people like it, but I look at it and want to barf all over it. It's not the way I want anyone else to feel about something they poured their heart into.

I have a laundry list of advice, but those are the two most important things I can suggest.

TL;DR:

  1. Understand the kind of publishing that's right for you, then research who's who. Choose the people with the reputation you want your book to have and do everything you can to work with them. That goes for traditional publishing—when I query agents and publishers, I don't send my stuff to just anyone.
  2. Self-pub or traditional, pay a high-caliber editor. Even if you have to work a second job or sell some shoes. You'll never regret anything more than a published book that looks like crap.
Mar 21, 3:57PM EDT0

PS. THANK you for asking this. 

Mar 21, 3:57PM EDT0
Do you ever participate in creative writing groups? If you know of some of them, would you recommend one?
Mar 20, 2:54PM EDT1

I am a member of the Writer's League of Texas and Rocky Mountain Fictions Writers. I've also been a part of a critique group. I've found them beneficial for different reasons and would recommend all three! The writing community is very welcoming, open, and helpful. 

I'm not sure that answers your question about creative writing specifically, but all three have offered me opportunities to work on my creative writing whether in a structured way or free-form. I've met some awesome people and learned a lot!

If you're looking around, I'd suggest a quick search on writing groups in your area (state or city). Most places have a version of the Writer's League of Texas—that's a great place to find classes, events, workshops, meetups, and the like. I also highly recommend searching for creative writing groups on MeetUp.com. That's actually how my writing critique group recruits most of their members. I happened to meet them at a Writer's League workshop :).

I hope that was helpful. Let me know if you have any more questions or if I missed the mark.

Mar 20, 6:51PM EDT0
If people need to only buy one book, why should it be yours?
Mar 16, 4:38AM EDT0

Honestly, it shouldn't be mine. As I mentioned in my summary, my first publishing experience wasn't great. It ended up being the blind leading the blind. I am, however, rewriting my first novel to better reflect the quality of book I aspire to put out. It was a wonderful learning experience and helped me build confidence, but I would urge you to NOT read my book...yet. I'll letcha know when the next edition comes out :).

Mar 16, 12:21PM EDT0
How do you stay productive/motivated?
Mar 16, 3:32AM EDT0

For me, motivation is never the issue. I love writing and genuinely want to do it. Productivity, on the other hand, can be a problem, especially since I don't write full-time (I have an editing/cover design business I run).

For new projects, I used to set myself word count goals every week, but the busier I got, the harder that was to maintain. So, now, I schedule time on my calendar the same way I would a meeting. No pressure to hit a certain word count—the point is to write. One sentence, a thousand words, doesn't matter as long as I've written.

All that to say, I'm currently working on revisions with my publisher and she has a schedule I have to stick to. She's fantastic at what she does and doesn't take any shit. Basically, I'm scared to not get my pages done for her ><. Especially since I hope to have more books published in the future.

Thanks for the question :)

Last edited @ Mar 16, 12:17PM EDT.
Mar 16, 12:17PM EDT0
What do you hope will be the everlasting thoughts for readers who finish your book?
Mar 15, 6:42PM EDT0

"That was a good book! What a great way to have spent my time. I'll recommend it to all my friends." 

Last edited @ Mar 15, 7:38PM EDT.
Mar 15, 7:37PM EDT0

These questions have been fantastic! Thank you, everyone, who's participated :). My feed is still open, but if anyone has additional questions, you can find me at livhadden.com. If you're a writer looking for an editor or cover designer, you can find me at theoffbeatwriter.com

Mar 15, 2:40PM EDT0
What’s your most favourite thing about being an author–publisher?
Mar 15, 8:56AM EDT0

That I get to live in my imagination so much. Creating these characters and the world they live in is just fun!

Mar 15, 12:57PM EDT0
What areas of the market do you think publishing companies are missing out on these days?
Mar 11, 1:00PM EDT0

There's a noticeable lack of diversity in publishing. We don't see many protagonists of color or different sexual identity...it's mostly cis-white folks. That leaves a huge part of the population underrepresented. Luckily, that's changing, and I anticipate a shift in this over the next few years!

Mar 15, 1:00PM EDT0
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote? Who read it and what did they say?
Mar 11, 10:17AM EDT0

I don't. I've been writing stories since I was really young. Luckily, my mom saved a lot of stuff—I have a box of old stories and some of them are pretty funny. I can say with certainty I've only ever received encouragement when it comes to my writing. My family and teachers saw potential, which I'm eternally grateful for.

Mar 15, 1:02PM EDT0
Where do you think your weaknesses lie? what do you do to overcome that?
Mar 11, 6:21AM EDT0

Right now I think it's experience. When I look at the writing I did a couple years ago, I cringe. Ten craft books, countless workshops, and thousands of words later, I'm a way better writer. I'm still very early in my career and am absorbing advice and knowledge like it's water. Once I get craft down, which is a practice-makes-perfect situation, I hope to establish a voice that's recognizable and enjoyable. In short, I gotta keep writing!

Mar 15, 1:05PM EDT0
Where do you see the book market in next 10 years? Do you think there be only eBooks and will bookstores disappear like record stores disappeared?
Mar 11, 5:41AM EDT0

People have been talking about the end of the print book since the Kindle's early success, but they're still around. Sure, there's less of them, but I don't see Barnes & Noble disappearing anytime soon. Some of my favorite bookstores are independent and have been thriving for the last decade. So, I don't think they'll disappear in ten years...it may just be wishful thinking on my part :).

Last edited @ Mar 15, 1:09PM EDT.
Mar 15, 1:09PM EDT0
What are some of the strange ways in which you seek out creative inspiration?
Mar 11, 3:40AM EDT0

I'm not sure I actively seek out creative inspiration. Ideas come pretty easily. For me, the hard part is making the story work and establishing strong character motives. For that, I don't really do anything strange...I think the only thing I do someone might think is strange if they didn't know why is twist my face and phantom fight things. When I'm trying to describe a facial expression or how a character got someone into a chokehold, I'll act it out. You might see me scrunching my face at any given moment, but that's the strangest thing I can think of. Great question!

Mar 15, 1:42PM EDT0
What are some of the writing tools available to authors and which of these would you urge others to use to make the process easier?
Mar 10, 4:54PM EST0

There are several books I highly recommend: Writer's Little Helper, GMC: Goal, Motivation, and CharacterThe Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression, and Story Genius. These helped me improve my writing by 1000% and I use the methods and templates in them for my current projects. This will save you in the editing phase by reducing structure issues, flat characters, and the repetition of the same character actions over and over (i.e. do you characters smile and/or nod at everything?)

If you're someone who likes to keep it simple, perhaps Elmore Leonard's 10 Rules of Writing is a better choice. You can read the entire thing in 5 minutes and every point is gold.

As an editor, those are the things I would urge people to use (there are many great craft books I didn't mention). I see the same mistakes over and over and over again—there are just some things that are chronically amateur. I'm guilty of them all. The greatest gift I ever got was a publisher throwing books in my face and saying, "Read these. Then write better."

As for organization tools, I know Scrivener is a popular one. There are a lot of writers who swear by it. I've never used it before, but I do use Evernote to keep track of my research and character bios. I love the clipping feature in my Chrome browser so I can easily save articles and videos for easy reference later. Plus, having access to it on my phone when I have a random idea out and about is great.

Mar 15, 2:03PM EDT0
What are some of the things that you have not seen or read, but know everything about because of popular culture?
Mar 10, 3:52PM EST0

Probably the Kardashians, especially the younger two. I wouldn't say I know everything about them, but I feel like I know way too much for the amount of interaction I have with their stuff. 

Other than that, maybe Pokemon? My brother was super into them when we were kids—TV show, cards, Gameboy games. I wasn't really, but I know a good amount about them now.

Mar 15, 2:09PM EDT0
What are some of the disadvantages of technology to modern writers and why?
Mar 10, 12:48PM EST0

Distractions! It is sooooooooo easy to start doing "research" for your book and end up ten hours down a YouTube rabbit hole. I'm writing a lot of sci-fi right now, so I've been reading about quantum physics and cosmology...holy moly is that stuff interesting! Before I know it, I've spent an hour trying to understand all the different ways my body can get shredded in a wormhole collapse. 

Of course, that's a double-edged sword because the easy, instant access to all that knowledge is the biggest blessing of technology these days.

Mar 15, 2:12PM EDT0
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