Listen and Learn

"I can't hear you!"

“When did you ever learn anything when you were talking?” – Tom Welsh

It’s 11:24 at night and I’m rewriting my post after reading one by a colleague. Do great minds think alike? Yes, I believe this is true. Moreover, it is entirely possible that the active discussions encouraged here at Indies Unlimited have spurred action for and against certain organizations. Freedom of speech is alive and kicking at Indies Unlimited!

So, what should I write about? That’s easy. Listening, observing, and researching are three skills crucial to personal and professional success. These skills are particularly important to newbie authors as you wade through the white noise around you. If you don’t listen carefully, observe the interactions of peers, and research before you make critical decisions you may find yourself surrounded by naysayers and scam artists.

Newbies have one definite advantage over some tenured writers. Since we don’t know how “it” used to be, we don’t approach every change with fear. We’re open to what’s new because we have no past to draw from. It is an entirely different perspective.

I was very fortunate to join LinkedIn about this time last year. I was in the process of editing my first manuscript, and I will not take you through that painful process. I started to follow a couple of LI threads, one on self-publishing and one on promotion. It was over-whelming – these people were so accomplished and knowledgeable. I studied those threads like a course in college, and slowly felt comfortable asking a question or two. I began to copy and paste the pertinent comments onto a Word document that I  have saved.

When I began to follow the thread and read the interactions of some of the members I was truly shocked. I had never, in a business environment, seen such rudeness. It was readily apparent who was in it for themselves. Thankfully, there were other individuals who impressed me not only with their knowledge, but also with an unselfish desire to help people like me. Instead of being threatened by the proliferation of aspiring authors, they happily educated the unpublished masses. I will forever be grateful to them.

It is pretty easy to figure out who is on your side as a new or aspiring author. The message and the language must be positive. If the words you hear are negative, then the people are negative. Run like hell in the opposite direction. There are so many reasons and opportunities for you to succeed. By researching on-line you can get the background information that allows you to make the decisions that suit your goals. As an Indie author you need to believe in yourself, and the network that you create must be your biggest cheerleader. If you get the feeling that someone is only in it for their own gain, believe your instincts. Our instincts are correct most of the time.

Think carefully about how you plan to interact with others. Everything you say represents you and your brand.

After you have listened, observed, and researched, it is time to take a risk. I took a risk last August and here I sit blogging to you on Indies Unlimited. What risk, you might ask, did I take? Publishing my book, of course. There are a million reasons why I could have held it back, picked at it for another year, talked myself into inertia by insisting on a perfect product, approved by the powers that used to be. Did I make a couple of mistakes? Sure. I am in the process of addressing them. If you’re sitting on a manuscript that you’ve edited again and again it’s time to pull the trigger. Don’t be afraid of the risk of failure, my friends. You are here, on the IU site. Stop and look at the left sidebar: the information contained in the posts and tutorials is incredibly helpful and it’s free. These professionals have taken the time to inform you through these posts. And, coincidentally, there are some fine editors listed in the services section.

There is one more point I would like to make. Buy Indie books. On the right sidebar and in the contributing author section you can find many fine books for your or a friend’s reading pleasure. Don’t listen to the hogwash that these writers are not as good as the authors that are shoved down our throats. These books are just as well written and creative.

This is the visual I would like to leave you with – here you are in a comfy chair sitting with the IU team in our clubhouse. Rosanne, Yvonne, Carol and Carolyn are having a cup of tea. A couple of the guys are drinking a beer, and Dan is scarfing down a Hostess cupcake. Lin and Krista are playing darts. Laurie and I are drinking a glass of red wine and watching as Kat cuddles Mr. Pish. Our fearless leader Stephen sits by the fire, silently observing his minions. The room is full, and the conversation is lively. We have invited you here to share our love of writing, and we hope you will be our welcome guests. Cheers!

Just one more tidbit …

Have you ever been in a line at the grocery store and a brilliant idea pops into your head? If you’re like me, it doesn’t stay around until you’ve driven home. It will evaporate like rain in Florida, leaving you dry, dusty, and frustrated. One day, after finally coming up with a name for a character that wasn’t over-used, I promptly forgot it. Completely. It took me several days to remember it, and I’m not one hundred percent sure it is the right one. I don’t have time for this, and neither do you.

There is a cool app I’ve been playing with, it’s free, and it might be worth a little of your time. It’s called Evernote, and it allows you to sync all your computer devices together to share what is basically a notepad function. What I like about it the most is that it has a voice function, so I can record ideas without having to type. I’ve been playing with it on my iPhone, and am looking forward to never losing a random idea again. Check it out.

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L. A. Lewandowski is a Contributing Author for Indies Unlimited and author of the novel, Born To Die – The Montauk Murders. For more information, please see the IU Bio Page and her

Author: L. A. Lewandowski

Lois Lewandowski graduated from Rutgers University with a degree in Political Science and French Literature. A passion for life lived well is reflected in her novels, Born to Die-The Montauk Murders, A Gourmet Demise, and My Gentleman Vampire, giving readers a glimpse into the world of the beau monde. Lois lives in Tampa, Florida. Learn more at her lifestyle blog, and her Amazon author page.

29 thoughts on “Listen and Learn”

  1. Great post Lois. I love the visual – wish we could make it actual. Maybe some day when we are all rich and famous Indie authors. And what you say about knowing who you can trust to be supportive – agree completely.

    1. Hi Yvonne,

      I have a strong feeling that we will be meeting somewhere in the near future, and that we can look forward to achieving our writing goals.

      You are a very supportive person, and I greatly appreciate it. 🙂

    1. I've found a nice glass of wine smoothes out the end of the day. 🙂

      If a person can't accept change they cannot succeed. We only have so much energy, and I prefer to use it learning how to work with the developing technologies, and then deciding what works for me. We have to pick our battles carefully.

  2. Raising a glass of fine Pegasus Bay Riesling to you from down here in NZ. (Shhh, don't tell them it's only 10am here.)Great to see such a positive post to inspire others. I was encouraged by a freelance editor to publish my first crime novel 2 years ago and it changed my life! Now I'm a full-time writer and editor with 3 published books and a network of fabulous writers that I help to get into print. Embrace change and make it work for you – as indies the book world is ours to own!

    1. Hi Bev,

      I will raise a return toast later, it's only 12:45 here! I will look for the wine you are drinking in my local wine shop. Love NZ wine!

      Congratulations to you on taking that risk – feels good, right? And now you have your dream, writing full-time. This is our world, and it's a beautiful one. One that we can revel in, supporting each other and creating our own literature.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  3. I'll raise a glass of white wine to your post in less than an hour. These post are rather comforting. Writing is a lonely job and there is no interaction with the people in the office. That, however, would be distracting.

    1. Cheers to you, Mari!

      Writing can be lonely, but that is what is nice about a site like this. There are so many opportunities to interact with other writers in a positive way, and learn what it takes to get our books published with quality and class.

      Have a great day!

  4. I have purchased books from Indie authors, and I firmly believe in supporting one another whether we are Indie published or traditionally published. In the end we have finished what we sought out to do: we've written a story we believe in and are proud to have completed. Writing is a solitary job and I love it when I meet others who are as impassioned as I am about it. Nice post!

    1. Thanks, K.L.

      I have been working my way through some wonderful Indie books. They are beautifully written, clever, bittersweet – you name it. These authors were able to capture my attention as easily as any famous author.

      There seems to be a passion amongst Indies because it is not easy to do everything ourselves. That is why when we can come together and push each other forward we need to do so.

  5. Hey, how come I got to be drinking tea? I love this post and will be sending it everywhere. Oddly enough, I found my protagonist in the checkout queue yesterday and just stood, pretending to pack the shopping, as I listened to her speech patterns and turns of phrase. yes, I'd read Yvonne's post too. I will now be going shopping with a small tape recorder, since I can't cope with iphones. 🙂

    1. Oops, I thought you liked tea! 🙂 Feel free to join Laurie and I.

      Isn't it great when that gift, your protagonist, falls into your lap? If we walk around observing life and being in the moment it is amazing what is out there to see.

      Yes, get a tape recorder. I used to have one that fit in the palm of my hand. I'm learning to love my iPhone, little by little.

      Thanks for your comments

      1. Lol, I'd hate you to think I didn't enjoy the post just because of the tea thing. I'm just back in Blighty right now, remembering why I emigrated. You really captured what I love about us Indies, Thanks.

  6. I definitely need to check out Evernote – that sounds awesome! I'm forever trying to type notes onto my iphone so I don't lose ideas. I love the idea of just being able to record it!!

    Great post 🙂

    1. Good for you, Shelly!

      It is incredibly exciting and fulfilling to see your name on a cover. Good luck and let Indies Unlimited know when you're published.

      Have a nice day

  7. Lois, great post. I love the idea of using your iphone to take notes. I must check out the app Evernote you suggest. It will definitely come in handy while driving since it is not advisable to write while driving. Thank you for the tip.

    1. Hi Jacqueline,

      I've lost a few things that I didn't write down immediately – forever gone out of my head. Evernote has helped me a lot, simply as a tape recorder. My long-term plan is to get all my computers linked, but first I have to get the second book published.

      Thanks for your comments!

  8. Finally got to this post had it open in a tab all day. Well worth the wait. Now, was I one of the beer drinkers? I could be. But I'll just as easily migrate to wine.

    1. Hello David,

      Thanks for the kind words.

      You can, of course, join the other men for a beer. Or, you can sit by me and be grilled about your love of music. The cross-examination won't be painful.

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