Until recently being self-published was looked down upon. It came with a stigma of not being good enough to be published using more traditional methods. To some, self-published authors weren’t authors at all; they were hobbyists.
Over the past several years, self-publishing has become a welcomed norm. The internet and social media are big factors in the growth and acceptance of self-published writers. In fact, indie presses are responsible for nearly 50% of all digital book sales and over 1 million titles annually. The number is truly astronomical.
Artists and writers have been able to make use of the ever-growing trend of creating visually appealing posts for their work. Obviously, Photoshop has been the graphics designer giant since the earliest release in the 1990s. Unfortunately, Photoshop also came with steep price tag in the $400 range. Since then, Adobe has gone to a Cloud-based version of most of their top titles. Photoshop runs about $240 annually ($360 if you choose the entire Adobe suite).
For those who are on a budget, GIMP is a free, open-source alternative to Photoshop. It is very much in-line with many of the features Adobe implements but there is a slight learning curve and a few tasks that aren’t as smooth as its Photoshop counterpart. But with that said, GIMP works wonders and did I mention it’s FREE?
This post is not about software titles. With technology stepping up, web-based applications are fast becoming a go-to option. Listed below, in no particular order, are 5 of the top graphics and photo editors available online. Each of them has the features needed to create stunning graphics or carry out the simplest of tasks. It really comes down to which one holds the most ease of use and personal preference.
Aside from growing your own personal author’s website, Social Media is a must need for building a platform. There are many smaller networks out there like, VERO, MIRAKEE and even SNAPCHAT but currently, there are 5 social media networks I use and feel writers can use for their benefit.
I have been writing since I can remember. In fact, when I was a young child I would emulate my mother’s writing. I’d take a black felt pen along with a yellow legal pad and simply pretend I was making words. Line after line I’d scribble in blocks of ‘cursive’ writing. To this day, I have a love affair with pens and pads. I even get care packages from friends and fans sending me different types of notebooks, journals, and an assortment of pens for writing. To me those little packages are priceless. So you can say writing has been a lifelong journey.
What are three (3) of your best qualities, and one (1) thing you’d like to work on?
So many see questions like this and their answers are usually physical in nature. But to me my best assets are who I am. What makes me me. I think my imagination, my light-hearted nature and ability to communicate and listen are my top qualities. I personally think they are some of the most important traits to possess. As far as what I’d like to work on, I have to say my undeniable procrastination. I’m not sure why but I always seem to hold things off to near the ultimate ‘deadline.’ I’m my own worst enemy, so I think it stems from always wanting things to be as ‘perfect’ as possible. We all know perfection is objective. What’s perfect for me may be trash to another and vice versa. I definitely am working on that. I recently started using bullet journal in hopes to stay on track with my daily grind.
It’s amazing just how different the life we live is from the life we thought we would have. Growing up I wanted nothing more than to be a lawyer. I love debate. I love proving my opinion right. I love finding fault or holes in arguments which directly contradict mine. I am a naturally born litigator. Fast forward 35 years with a few food service jobs, 10 years of bartending, and 15 years of self-employment as a web designer and here I am, naturally, a writer.
Some could argue, and I probably would be the first in line to concur – writing allows me to give my opinions, my views, my thoughts, on subjects without arguing and in turn it allows others to subjectively look at what’s written as seen through their own eyes – everyone’s happy and no one goes to jail.
Robert Burns once lamented, “The best–laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” They most certainly do. I can’t say I never thought of writing as a career. In fact, my sophomore year of college, I had all intentions in the world to write for the big screen. I was going to make it to Hollywood and write the next blockbuster straight out of the gate. Unfortunately for me, the gate never opened. I stayed on the east coast and so the story goes. One door closes and another one opens. We choose the paths based on our needs and most times our comfort levels.
The desire always sat just inside my rear view until again a twist of fate would have me rethinking “what’s this life for?” Six years in a terrible marriage left me near penniless and wondering just what I was going to do when I grew up. I found myself burned out from web design. Tired of chasing payments from clients and most of all, I felt chained down by life in general. I had spent far too many years as my own boss to work for someone else. I found myself once again wanting to write. With 20 more years of life experiences, I finally had something to write about. But would people read? Would others relate? W
My father had passed away 10 years prior, he was the nudge I always needed to try anything difficult in life. Whether I succeeded or failed, I needed to give writing a shot. I had let it eat at me for too long – the time was at hand. I am proud and happy I did. The number of creative souls I have met along this short 3-year journey, into full-time writing has been astounding. But what really confirms I made the right choice are the countless individuals I have reached with my writing. The support I have received through comments, letters, messages and fans, to me is immeasurable. I have always stated, ‘without you I have no voice.’ It rings true daily. My words would be but ink stains on a page had it not been for the positive feedback I’ve received and continue to receive daily.
The life we live isn’t always the life we choose. I’m so very thankful for that.
As with any type of employment, writers need getaways just the same as anyone else. Although work schedules may seem a bit unconventional at times, the hours put in for any artist is just as tedious and at times very stress inducing. Many of us are a one man or woman operation; taking on the roll of several individuals. My down time is cherished and each of the past 3 years, since I turned to writing full-time, I have planned a week long writing retreat in Wildwood, New Jersey, during the middle of September.
I originally found this particular slice of heaven completely by accident the year I split from my wife. I needed a place to simply escape for a few days and I was familiar with Wildwood, as I had stayed in the area during peak season in the late 1990’s. This particular area was south of anywhere I’d been but I gave it a shot. It turned out to be a diamond in the rough. The motel was basically several beach front condo units privately owned and run by a management company. Each room had a beach front ocean view and the place came with all the amenities, heated pool, sun deck, snack bar, grills and within walking distance of a pizzeria and liquor store. That was the Summer of 2008. I visited each year since, usually again during the prime time of the season.
When I took to writing full-time, I had no idea just how tiring the daily grind of putting out pieces and building a writer’s platform would be. Three-quarters of the way through that first year, I felt as if I’d been working myself ragged. I needed a way to realign, to somehow reset my brain and my body, as I also suffer from chronic Lyme disease. I checked the website for the Madrid and saw the condos were available until October at half the normal cost. I immediately reserved a week in mid-September after the season had ended. It went so well that first year, I planned a writer’s retreat each of the two Septembers since. The beauty was there was absolutely no Wi-Fi. I was able to just enjoy the sun, the sand, the sounds and write at my leisure. I basically just pamper myself and answer to no one for 6 days. This past September was one of the best and I caught up on reading and was able to hash out plans for a writer’s resource website, I am currently working on and will soft-launch during December for a full launch on or around the first of January, 2018.
Artists are just like everyone else. They need the same creature comforts most seek when the road has been a bit too long. I am thankful I am able to reserve this personal writer’s retreat and reset everything each year. I cannot put a price on it nor can I explain just how rejuvenated I feel when I return to my desk the following Monday. My production definitely feels increased and it’s just what is needed to get me through.
Are you an artist or writer? Do you give yourself a planned time away? Even if you’re not, do you take time out for an annual retreat? Where to?
Learn more about my poetry books on the BOOKS page.
To purchase a signed copy of either book, check out the SHOP page.