Update on Creative Workings

It’s been a while since I’ve shared what I’ve been working on, so I thought I would pop by and do that. Everything is taking much longer than I’ve wanted it to with my personal projects, but I’ve come to expect that in my life of parenting and freelancing.

Art – I’ve been working on colored pencil illustrations for my next poetry collection, which will be a sampling of my poetry on love. I hope to finish these up in the next couple of weeks and begin prepping the book for publication. I’m also in the middle of my first big illustration in a while to accompany my Humpty Dumpty poem, which I posted a couple in progress pics on my Instagram account. I’m really hoping to finish that one up this week. And I’ve started working on art because I want to try my hand at designing fabric, so I probably won’t be posting any of that here.

Music – After the success of fully putting down on paper my first song in years, I had hoped that the process would get easier, but my next song is proving difficult, and I am scrapping what I’ve started to rewrite part of it. As I have nothing really planned yet for my music, I want to take the time to get it the way I really want it. I also am starting to do my vocal exercises and play my flute more regularly, which is important. I really want to find a way to be making music more a part of my life again. It’s just one of those things that got put on hold when both my kids were young and we were in transition. But it is still one of the easiest ways for me to center myself and decompress.

Writing – I have been chipping away at both a new short story that I want to shop around and my novel. While I can’t always find the time to write every day, I’ve recently been writing longer chunks when I do sit down, so hopefully I can continue growing that. I’m also continuing to produce poems and pieces for another couple collections I’m working toward. I want to try submitting some poems places too, but that means I can’t share them here, and that is tough for me.

Other creative stuff I’m currently sewing a gift for someone that I’m really excited about, and I’ve been doing a lot of work with building my sewing and costuming work, which is good because this is where my money is coming in.

So slow progress is better than no progress, and as I come off of my contract job, I’m looking forward to having a few weeks of more time before the next contract really takes off. I am also going to try to post here more regularly again, but we shall see how that goes.

Marketing of Some Kind is a Necessary Annoyance

As an indie creator of anything, marketing yourself is necessary. You can’t just make your book or your art print or release a single, throw it up on some site, and cross your fingers that you somehow go viral and start raking in piles of money. Even if it is an absolutely stellar project, you cannot expect immediate success, or even that the one project will be successful by itself. Yes, you’ve accomplished a lot all ready, just in completing, polishing, and releasing the creative piece, but you aren’t allowed to rest yet.

The marketing process is one that annoys me, primarily because it is yet another pull on my time. I’d rather be creating than trying to get my past creations out to more people. Also, I am someone that does want my work to speak for itself. I’m uncomfortable talking myself up, a tad suspicious of compliments that come my way (although I feel bad if they aren’t forthcoming when I’ve busted my butt – go figure), and would much rather pass off this work to a third party. But I’m an indie artist and writer and freelancer so I don’t exactly have the budget for hiring a publicist. My guess is that most of you don’t either. And in the wilds of our global online community, it becomes less necessary maybe.

So, here are the current (and immediate-ish) future plans I’m in the process of implementing both online and in my local area. Perhaps you will find some of these useful for yourself.

My freelance work under my actual name:

  • I am continuing with the social media work I’ve been doing. This actually nets me quite a bit of extra business, as friends and associates recommend people to me.
  • I’ve begun a Tumblr blog that is about another passion entirely but I talk about my freelance work in conjunction with that passion. This is a soft marketing experiment that I’m giving about six months to see if it works in getting me some more projects. However, Tumblr seems to be a wasteland of late, and I’m considering starting yet another wordpress blog and posting both places, but I don’t know if I want that kind of time dump. I mean, if the pictures I’m posting are already formatted and I’m just copying and pasting text, it’s maybe only another ten minutes each post, but still, that is time I could spend creating. Things to consider.
  • Thanks to a friend, I’ve got the names of two local companies to contact to do one-off jobs for, and I need to craft the perfect introduction letter. It’s a side of my business I haven’t done since 2009, so I want to make absolutely sure that everything is as perfect as I can make it.
  • I’m considering marketing myself offline, again in a soft marketing kind of way, toying with the idea of joining one of the local business women’s groups. Again, though, this would be a pull on my time that I don’t know if I can commit (for events, volunteering, etc) with my busy schedule and hands-on parenting. But if I do, it would immediately get me involved in my local community, I could potentially be helping people, and there would be much “Oh, you do this?” in conversations. I’m not much of a “belong to a big group” person, but maybe it’d be good for me.

Writing

  • I need to promote my books here more. I’m so bad about that. I won’t be posting every single week, but expect a more frequent reminder.
  • I have a small list of reviewers to contact about The Little Book of Insurrection or the Poetry of my Discontent. It needs to be done, and I haven’t done it.
  • I need to check out local writing and poetry groups, maybe get brave enough to attend an open mic reading. I’ve made a connection with an older woman who belongs to a local political theater group and she thinks I’d be a good fit, but again, I can’t commit to that kind of time. But I hope to at least attend a performance and network with similar-minded and passionate local people.
  • The biggest trend I’ve noticed in talking with my writer friends and witnessing online is that writers need to have a list of books out. There is a snowball effect that happens, and even if it’s a case of quantity over quality, that doesn’t matter so much. Which is sad. But, that being said, I need to carve out more time to write, so I can be releasing at least one book a year. Even at that rate, it’s still going to be a very long time (if ever) that I make any kind of significant income. And I’m okay with that. Writing cannot be my full-time creative endeavor, no matter how much I love it. But that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be doing it when I can.

Art

  • I need to find an alternative to Etsy for selling prints (and signed copies of books). Etsy has become so over-saturated since they’ve begun allowing factory-made items on their site with a looser definition of what defines an “indie” or “cottage” industry, and it’s just not what it was when it first began. So there’s that.
  • I have made an initial effort to get involved in the local arts community and need to grow that.
  • I need to check out local galleries and such to see if there are any openings to show my work and begin getting my name out there.

The thing I’ve found most important about marketing myself is staying flexible and constantly tweaking as I go. Also, I am almost always positive in my attitude, in a sincere way. I could maybe garner more attention by throwing temper tantrums or jumping on the latest hot debate and being a jerk, but I’d rather be pleasant and calm and save the rage and heat for situations where it’s actually necessary.

What are some of your favorite ways to market yourself? What do you find works best for you?

Getting Ready for Book Blog Tours

I’m taking part in a round-robin book blog tour soon.  It’s my first participation in one.  I am going to be prepping my page tonight for Penumbra.  

I have a really hard time promoting myself.  I don’t want to “bother” people.  I don’t like to talk myself up that much because I don’t want to come across as arrogant or rude.  I have friends who have read Penumbra and enjoyed it, and I haven’t hounded them yet to write reviews on Amazon and Goodreads because I figure if they really wanted to, they would.  I don’t post the link to buy Penumbra as frequently as I should because I figure people will see it if they want it.

But I need to get over my fear of annoying people.  I need to believe in myself so others can believe in my art and writing.  If I can’t afford to hire a publicist, I need to learn to be my own.  Things to work on.

Fellow indie authors, what do you like to include on book blog tours?

A New Beginning

Today is my last day working a full-time office job, maybe forever (but maybe not – and that is a reality I accept).  It’s a strange feeling.  These are people I’ve worked with and spent more waking hours with than my husband and child for years.  But I feel like none of them, even the ones that I call “friend”, ever knew me.  I was admired for my vintage fashion sensibilities and my smile, praised for my hard work and ability to courteously handle the clients and juggle oh so many duties, and many of them say that I will be horribly missed.  But I was a fish out of water.  I never found a kindred spirit.

We took a DISC assessment a while ago at work, and I was different from every single person.  All of the assistants tended to score high S,C.  I was mid-range D, very high I (almost off the chart), low S, and high C.  A combination of high I,C is unusual, at least in our office.  But what was even more unusual is that they plotted both how we actually are and then how we modify our behavior for our job, and again, with the assistants, their shown behavior was very close to their actual behavior.  I brought my I and C way down and upped my S, which meant 1) I adapt very well to fill any role I’m given (the person giving the assessment called me a chameleon) and 2) I had zero hope of actually feeling fulfilled in my role.  And if I’m honest with myself, I have to admit that I probably wouldn’t feel fulfilled in any role here.

So, here we go, leaping into the unknown. We’re developing our business plans.  I’m not expecting to make any significant money under Kat Micari for at least a year, but I look forward to the projects I’m pursuing here.  An Etsy shop will be opened as soon as I release the illustrated poetry collection to sell prints.  And once we’re settled in after our move, I need to set a realistic timeline for writing music, recording a demo, and trying to crowdsource the funds to record my first album.  And we have plans for the creative work I do under my own name.  I still need to keep my Kat persona separate from my actual persona, at least until I know if I have to hunt for a full-time job or not this fall, but I look forward to the day where I can co-mingle the two and cross-advertise.

But anyway, big plans in the work, and back up plans to the big plans, and back up back up plans.  So much unknown about where this path is going to lead us, but we are following it.