I was raised to defer to the experts and my elders, for they had the wisdom of age and knowledge. Well, doing that with regards to my novel series has spread me too thin, left me running in circles, and doubting my own instincts and judgement. I don’t know who I am any more or in what direction I’m headed. Sure, I have the ideas and two published books, and four websites, but not much else for the time and effort I’ve dumped into my dream.

Time to dispel some of the myths and work through a few things that might be holding me back.

My series name is not a typo

In 2015, I wrote the post called What’s In A Name?, hoping it would have an effect on people’s thoughts about Heros vs Heroes in my series title. It didn’t. Heroes seems stuck in everyone’s brain, so Heros is an apparent typo. Therefore my book must be full of typos.

Sorry folks, you are wrong. Dead wrong.

As the above graphic implies, heros a wordplay on horse. More than that, it’s two helicopter organizations (one of which who actually rescues people up in Canada), mythology (Heros Equitans), a South African fish, and other things listed in Wikipedia. So the word has been used before and it will be used again, just not in the way people are expecting it.

Would I go back and change the series title, if I could? No. I came up with a ton of alternates recently and none of them seemed to fit. Sure they sounded slick, but they didn’t have meaning. Every title I do from chapter to book to series comes from the heart. They have to make sense, capture what I say, and not sound so generic that they are indistinguishable from others.

Publish under my name or a pen name?

I’ve had troubles with my own name from the very beginning of my life. Ani (pronounced On-ee not Annie) is the ancient capital of Armenia, not any abbreviation or misappropriation of something else. My last name Manjikian is literally the clan of or son of Manjik. (Similar to Johnson in English). Three syllables that even I have a hard time pronouncing on some days. Still it has a heritage and history behind it that should never be forgotten.

It doesn’t help that Star Wars reinforced the idea of Ani being pronounced Annie. They called Anikin Annie while speaking and put Ani in the subtitles.  Now I have to fight twice as hard to break this myth. Thanks alot, guys!

Some have called my name beautiful and unique. Others have said I should use a pen name. I picked out AH Mann at one point, but since I’ve published under my full name that has become a mute point. I might use it for my YA Fantasy, but I’m not sure.

The covers and stories, more than what meets the eye

A book without gorgeous, sexy bodies on the front? Shame, it must be no good.

As a graphic artist, I completely disagree with that supposition. I look for color, composition, typography, and other things to judge a cover’s worth. Sexy bodies actually turn me off and make me think that the book will be heavy on the sex and light on substance.

My only problem with the covers is that they don’t look enough alike to tie them together. I would love to redo the first so it matches the second, but I can’t, at least not for another year. As for the stories themselves, I’m proud of both of them.

Spirit of the Lone Horse

Spirit‘s title and its cover may make a potential reader think the story is only meant for kids or a small, insignificant audience. That definitely not the case. If the book was a movie, it would be rated PG-13 or NC-17 for some of its content.  Yes, horses are part of the story’s fabric, but that tapestry also includes a woman overcoming fears, a competition becoming dangerous as the antagonist seeks revenge, and little sci-fi when we are introduced the Arkrillians for the first time and we find out that one person isn’t in the right century. Not to mention, two people turning into monsters that don’t reflect their true nature or values in any way.

Do I think the story could be done a little better? Yes. I was trying to do too much too fast with it. It’s good overall, but as some reviews have said, it’s a little too detailed and confusing. Eventually, I’m going to go back and fix things, but for now I’m carrying on, trying to get my name out there.

Do You Believe in the Legend?

Julie Nicholls did in 48 hours what I couldn’t doing in 10 years. The cover captures the essence and meaning of the story. The title has a question in it, so what? I can think of a ton of books with the name Legend in their title. I wanted to be different. More than that I wanted to honor the question that popped into my head when I started rewriting the book from a fan piece into a part of my series after the betrayal of a close friend.

Do I think it needs work? No, with the caveat that any and all work done by any author can always be improved. No human is perfect, nor should they be expected to be. With each word, sentence, paragraph, chapter, and book I write, I improve in my craft.  No matter what happens, Legend will always be the most meaningful to me, but the third is already more powerful. I hope each book in the series grows in that way.

Branding is a confusing and complicated mess

I’m glad I consolidated and tried to reduce the number of things I had to do to keep my writing career going, but I think putting everything under Lone Horse Spirit was the wrong way to go about it. The name is too close to my business brand of Lone Horse Endeavors and confuses people.

I’m being encouraged to re-brand under my own name, but I’m uncomfortable in my own skin. Being bullied and teased a lot in school will do that to a person. Besides the name problem, I’m trying to keep my private life private as much as I can and I feel that associating my name with a domain name will open things up a little too much.

I should have kept Right the Writer. It had the traffic and felt like me. Though there is a very compelling argument that it sounds too much like the site for writers and not readers. I like the logo I did above, so I’m still thinking in this direction.

It’s been around four months since I made the change to LHS, too soon to change again. I’m also part of a big event in April that has everything pointed to this site as it is. So I probably won’t do anything until later this year.

Building community, not preaching

I wrote a 24 page manual that covered all my websites, domain names, social media platforms, the Stars of Heros series outline, and the rest of my book ideas. I’m a member of 120 Facebook groups, 52 Google+ groups and 33 Goodreads groups. I barely do social media and I’m expecting myself to keep up with all of these things? Just how and when?

Social media is hard for me because of its emotional aspect.  The heated topics of politics and religion I can ignore for the most part except when someone is being really blind and stupid about what they are posting.  It’s the other authors that get to me. They all seem more powerful, well-respected, well-liked, and followed. When they ask a question, they get meaningful responses. Me, I get advice to run Facebook ads.

The other thing I hate about social media is the pounding. Everyone is like Buy my book now! I’m an award winning author! I’m a best selling author!  Yes, I have repetitive Twitter ad that goes out for my books, but that’s it.

I’ll post once on a blue moon about my series or an article about what I’m doing or thinking, little to no response. My automated paper.li daily blast where I did nothing but select 10 sources, hundreds of impressions on average.  Sure I could pound like everyone else, but I was taught you ask, not demand. Also, social media is supposed to be about building community, not preaching, right?

Just want a chance

Yes, I know this is a tough industry.

A few months ago, I read about an indie author who went to a writers’ convention and got scorned by authors published by the Big 5. Then she heard the keynote speaker say that basically every time an indie publishes a book and it doesn’t get sales, it’s considered a strike against both the author and the book.  After three strikes, the major publishers don’t want to touch the author. They’d rather cultivate the talent that comes to them through more traditional means.

The aptitude and competency in the writing craft is the standard upon which a book and its author are judged, not whether they are indie or not. There are lot of reasons authors choose to go indie and even more that some sell more than others. For the most part, some know how to work to the system, others have the money to work the system.

Right now, I’m a $1 author. I can’t justify the expense of contest entry fees, Facebook or Twitter ads, or other things that authors do to market their books. The only reason I have a website and domain name is that I’m a web developer by day. Besides, marketing is too close to selling in my mind and I hate selling! I want people to know me for who I am, not what I’m trying to get them to buy.

Writing from the heart and soul

I became an indie because I didn’t want to write formula books or worse yet have my writing made into something it was not just to strengthen its mass appeal. I wanted to write from my heart about something that inspired me. So what if my stories mix horses and science fiction, and have a strong female lead? Not everyone has to accept or like them.  It would be unrealistic for me to even think that everyone would. However, I know there is an audience out there for them.

In this world where the attention span of a human being is now that of a goldfish and thousands of books are published, readers make snap decisions based on about two seconds of screen or shelf time. Don’t do that. Go back to browsing. Take the time to savor and explore, who knows what might be found.  Look at reviews, sure, but understand that they aren’t always accurate. Spending money isn’t required, peruse the previews on Amazon. Finally, if a book piques interest, respect the words… Leave a review and don’t steal it. It may be free to you, but the one who created it paid in heart, soul, effort, and time.