Tag, You’re It or It’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt

It started out as a simple notification. I’d been tagged on Twitter. Tagged for what, I didn’t know, but tagged all the same.

I opened the app. A lovely photograph filled my screen taken by another blogger who has frequently entertained me with her travel stories and photographs of parts known, as well as less discovered. But what was it doing on my Twitter feed?

The only information I could find was the hashtag, #7dayphotochallenge. No pictures. No explanations.

Being the sucker for friendly hashtag games, I clicked to learn more.

Following the tag, I saw a number of other posts featuring images of nature or various things around the house. The game seemed easy enough. I found a decent enough picture to share and tagged a couple other nice people I follow.

The following day, another photograph appeared in my feed posted by the same person who’d tagged me in the first place. However, this time other twitter handles were mentioned. It began to dawn on me then that this was one of the more run-of-the-mill twitter games.

I suppose the whole “#7day” part of the hashtag thing should have probably clued me in, but in my defense, I was somewhat distracted at the time by the pretty landscape. So I looked around the room, snapped a photo, and tagged another nice person.

It dawned on me then, that I may have made a tactical mistake. Before, I might have been able to pass off the first photo as a fluke or humoring a friend. But now, now I was invested.

I posted a third then started preparing my whole strategy for pictures 4,5,6, and 7.

Suddenly, this whole game thing was beginning to seem like work. Fun work, mind you. But work.

And I still didn’t have a clue what in the world purpose of the game was or the rules were – other than no people, no explanations.

I found myself thinking of a special I’d seen on Netflix a while ago called The Push. The film documented a social experiment designed to answer the following: could a regular person be manipulated into pushing another person off the top of a building based on nothing more than the power of suggestion and the perception of authority. It was a modern take on the Milgram experiment.

The experiment started by first identifying people who are more susceptible to suggestion than others. Potential subjects were sent into a room where a pair of people in on the experiment stood or sat whenever a bell rang. Those who joined in the exercise without ever once asking why the first few people were standing one moment and sitting the next were invited to the next round.

Once the subject was selected, he or she would be gradually conditioned to accept increasingly risky commands leading up to one final choice – would they continue to allow social pressures to influence their behavior, or would they stand up to something that they, being good people, knew to be morally repugnant?

Watching the experiment play out on the screen, I’d like to think I wouldn’t – that I’d draw a line in the sand before the situation progressed that far – but now, given how readily I jumped into a game that everyone else seemed to be playing no questions asked, it makes me start to wonder.

I like to think that people are good and well-intentioned overall. However, we can get carried away by an idea. Then, suddenly we find ourselves backed into a corner, blocked by the rigidness of our beliefs as much as by those who oppose them. At this point, it is only natural to forget about the larger implications and instead try to seek the protection of the closest group at hand. We then do or say whatever we can that either requires the least amount of thought or provides the most immediate relief. And this is when the bad stuff tends to happen.

People, for the most part, aren’t naturally bad in my opinion, but people sure can be lazy.

I’ve included a clip from a recent episode of Last Week Tonight on the topic of astroturfing, which was not a term I was familiar with, but now makes complete sense. The clip is NSFW, so wait until sensitive ears are not around before you watch it, but its worth the watch all the same. It’s a great reminder of the risk of getting so caught up in the group-think, emotional side of things, we forget to ask if what we are doing or saying is truly best, or based on any fact from the start.

If you aren’t able to view the clip, let me repeat with his key point: “It is now even more incumbent on us to use our judgment diligently.” So never forget to use yours. I’ll do the same.

Because while it’s easier than ever to get swept up in a trend, it’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt.

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Reedsy and the editorial quest, part three: the final update

Reedsy and the quest for an editorial partner - www.alliepottswrites.com part three

The following is the final installment in my hunt for the elusive editorial partner for my WIP using Reedsy. For those not familiar with the service, Reedsy, a database of freelance professionals with a focus on the publishing industry.

This post contains affiliate links.

As of last week’s update, I’d received three responses to my project brief. One editor wasn’t taking on new projects at this time, one editor didn’t have availability until closer to the end of the year, and another had availability, but the work would cost more than I was hoping to spend. However, I still had two more responses to go.

Suddenly this whole series of posts I’d intended as a fun way to share some of the challenges, but mostly the benefits, of being an indie author, wasn’t quite so fun.

I received another quote from a potential editor. The price was still higher than I originally was targeting for this project, however, her proposal also included a long list of testimonials relevant to my project. Not only that, but many of the authors listed had the word ‘bestseller’ attached to their name.

This editor had been my long shot when I’d been scrolling through Reedsy’s marketplace profiles. I’d had to get over my ever-present imposter syndrome to even send my request for proposal, and yet not only had she submitted a quote, she’d taken the time to tailor it to me. I’ll admit, I got a little starry-eyed at the thought of what we could do together.

The only problem was her quote hadn’t included a sample edit, though one was offered if requested. As much as the creative dreamer in me wanted to accept her quote, the more logical, business-minded side of my brain took over. Even with the testimonials, the quoted price was too risky to accept without seeing an example of her working style.

I also still hadn’t heard back from the fifth editor, though it was past the date I’d specified for responses. Things were starting to look grim.

I responded to editor number four, taking her up on her offer for the sample edit. It meant I’d have to wait longer before I could make my final decision, which meant less time for me to get it ready for publication following editorial feedback, but I was running out of options.

A day passed without an update. Then another day more. I started getting an uneasy feeling in my stomach about this entire process.

Then something lovely happened. People who had been reading my updates over the past few weeks reached out, offering direct assistance, or referring me to their preferred editorial service providers.

Suddenly, I went from having one option, to more than one fitting my schedule as well as my budget. This means, *fingers crossed* my project just may find its way to print yet.

Reedsy Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • It is easy to find a number of editors based on your genre who have several years of industry experience
  • It offers a fast and streamlined proposal process, giving you the ability to contact multiple editors all at once.
  • You aren’t required to sign up with anyone if the bids you receive aren’t in line with your expectations
  • Reedsy takes care of all the payment processing, which can protect your banking details and only includes editors who have been verified
  • Cons:
    • There is no way to filter potential editors by estimated cost or availability, which can cost everyone their time
      Reedsy’s marketplace vetting system requires editors have a certain level of experience, which makes it more difficult for authors using the service to identify and connect to hungrier or less experienced (aka lower-cost) professionals

    The final verdict

    Overall, I think Reedsy is a service with great potential and provides a value to self-published writers who want to employ the same professionals as those who follow the more traditional publishing route. That being said, it may be cost-prohibitive for authors who don’t have a backlist of profitable titles or those who aren’t backed by a successful crowd-funding campaign.

    While I will likely give it another try in the future, I think I’ll wait until I have a new series opener so there is the greatest potential return. Until then, the never-ending quests continues.

    To those who reached out, thank you so much for your comments and support. When (not if) this book is finally released, please know I couldn’t have done it without you.

    Reedsy and the editorial quest, part two: the initial response

    Reedsy and the quest for an editorial partner - www.alliepottswrites.com

    part two

    Last week I announced I was once again on the hunt for the elusive editorial partner for my WIP. The following is the results of my experience with Reedsy, a database of freelance professionals with a focus on the publishing industry.

    This post contains affiliate links.

    Using Reedsy’s filters and resulting profiles as a guide, I submitted a brief summary of An Uncertain Confidence to five potential editors. In my brief, I made sure to include a deadline for when I would like responses back as well as my manuscripts first few pages.

    I suppose I could have picked any part of my manuscript for sampling, but I figured it made the most sense to send the beginning as those pages will also be the most important for attracting would-be readers in the coming weeks and therefore, need to be as polished as possible.

    I received my first response within a day of hitting the send button and nervously hit open.

    She wouldn’t be able to meet the schedule as defined in my brief but was willing to provide a quote if I had some flexibility. I did the math in my head. If I said yes, I might as well say no to publishing this year. It was an option, to be sure, but not one I was comfortable with, especially knowing I had four more responses to go.

    I declined her offer but left the door open for future collaboration as I appreciated how quick and professional she was in her response.

    The next day I received my second response. It was a no-bid with an explanation that the editor was not taking on new projects at this time. It was disappointing but understandable. At this time, Reedsy offered to send my bid out to additional freelancers if I so choose.

    Just as I was beginning to feel like an idiot for not lining up my editor in advance, I received the third response, and this time it was a quote. I hit the open button.

    I might have been more prepared to expect had I read a recent Reedsy blog post on the costs of self-publishing before I’d sent my brief.

    On the positive side, she’d included a sample edit of my early pages, was professional, and supportive. It was easy to envision how much better my writing would become as a result. However, it was the kind of price that forces you to have a serious heart-to-heart with yourself about your book baby and its potential for return on investment.

    There’s still a chance, I told myself, staring at my response dashboard like a person playing a game of Russian Roulette. I still have a few more bids to go.

    To be continued …

    Reedsy and the never-ending quest for editorial partners

    YReedsy and the quest for an editorial partner - www.alliepottswrites.comou’ve written your manuscript and re-worked it from end to end more than once. You’ve even had a few brave readers provide preliminary feedback. Now what?

    (This post includes affiliate links)

    If you are like me and going the self-publishing route, it may be time to start considering a professional editor. But where can you find one?

    My latest work in progress, An Uncertain Confidence, has been sitting in my virtual desk drawer for the past two weeks while I attempted to answer that exact question. I’d had a less than stellar experience with my first book when it came to editing. Being the wide-eyed new author, and not knowing what I didn’t know, I signed one check without doing nearly enough research. That mistake eventually forced me to sign another.

    I knew then that I would never use that particular group service again, so when I started preparing the first book in my next series for publication, I asked my personal network for referrals. I thought I was in luck when one of their sources had an opening. Once again, I sent my book baby off with a check.

    Weeks passed and then weeks more. When I finally got my project back, the notes weren’t exactly confidence inspiring. In short, the feedback was the manuscript needed a lot of work, more than he was willing to provide at the previously quoted price. Even worse I learned my story was in a sub-genre he didn’t like, even though had said he enjoyed sci-fi.

    It was another expensive mistake and one that taught me the value of beta readers (and tools like Grammarly, EditMinion, Hemingway, and Fictionary). It also taught me why it is so important to thoroughly understand the nuances of sub-genres, particularly with regards to speculative fiction.

    I re-wrote that book from end to end and from end to end once or three times more. I sent it off to beta readers who helped me find the story’s holes. I found yet another editor who enjoyed my genre and was recommended by other authors. She was an author too, which meant I could read her books to make sure I liked her style first. Even better, her posted services fit my schedule as well as my budget too. I signed a check (I may have crossed my fingers too).

    Unfortunately, life can get in the way of all of us, especially when an author who edits on the side, has books of their own to market or other personal matters to worry about too. It also doesn’t help when your new book is in a different genre.

    Which brings me back to how do you find a reliable, recommended, and quality editor, when you have a checklist of 1,000,000,000,000,000 other things to do?

    I’ve decided, this time, to give Reedsy a try.

    Reedsy is a website marketplace for freelance editors, designers, marketing professionals, and publicists (you can also find book bloggers and format your ebook to epub and pdf for free there too). Simply sort by the type of service you are looking for. Then you can refine your search by things like genre, languages, or specific keywords.

    My specific search for fiction, copy editing, women’s fiction, English (us) and “self-published” returned thirteen professionals who have all been verified by Reedsy and each profile includes a portfolio of work as well as author recommendation and response ratings.

    To say there were more than a few impressive credentials is a mild understatement.

    After reading through their profiles and reviews, I then was able to identify five potential editors who looked like a good match for my needs, style, and project. From there, all I had to do was write a little bit about me and my project and upload up to 3,000 words of my manuscript as a sample and wait for the editors to respond back to me with their bids.

    Reedsy manages the payments and contracts and, as a result, does take a percentage of the quoted price, so I am bracing myself for sticker shock, but considering the time it has potentially saved me and the quality of talent, it may still be worth it.

    There is still a lot I don’t know about publishing, but the one thing I know for sure is sometimes all I can do is wait and see.

     

    The Knock – A Short Story and Flash Fiction Fun

    The problem writing non-fiction full-time, particularly when it is geared around a very narrow set of keywords, is that occasionally you feel as if you’ve run out of ways to explain a topic differently than you had the week before. You start feeling redundant, and possibly a little uninspired.

    The fact of the matter is, you are totally being redundant, but that’s kind of the point. You have to keep in mind that the person visiting those sites or reading those types of articles are typically are looking for an answer to their question and are only visiting you for a short time. Lots and lots of articles on the same thing can help increase your rank and makes your content more likely to reach those in need of answers.

    Therefore, you do what you have to do, but that doesn’t mean you can’t also indulge in a little bit of creative writing fun. That being said, I decided this week to make use of some random story generators I found online. The following is the result.


    The Knock short story flash fiction - www.alliepottswrites.comShe knelt on the carpet in her new living-room, a big cardboard box in front of her, unwrapping ornaments, photographs, and other mementos. The fan overhead rattled as it spun. She’d congratulated herself after installing it earlier that morning, with a mimosa, celebrating the fact she hadn’t called her parents a single time, or worse, her ex-boyfriend. The last thing she needed was to give him an excuse to work his way back into her life.

    Unfortunately, she had to concede she hadn’t spent long enough verifying its blades were balanced before turning it on. She made a mental note to add fixing that to the ever-growing to-do list.

    There was a knock at the door. She jumped. Most of her possessions were still packed away in boxes, so the knock had resulted in an echoing boom. She had no more than taken two steps when the knock sounded a second time.

    “I’m coming,” she called out. “Coming.”

    She was just about to open the door when she thought it might be better to first see who her visitor might be through the peephole instead. The breezeway on the other side of the door appeared empty.

    Guess they had the wrong apartment, she thought, returning to her labor. She knelt beside the box of ornaments and pulled out a figurine of a dancing girl her grandmother had gifted her on her sixteenth birthday. She held it up, loving how the light shining through the glass made patterns on the room’s freshly installed carpets. Holding the figurine in her hand, she dug through the box, looking for its hook so that she might hang it next to the apartment’s kitchen window.

    The boom of a heavy-handed knock on the door startled her again. She gently placed the dancer on the box and returned to the front door, but once again the breezeway on the other side appeared empty.

    She pursed her lips. She’d several kids playing ball down the street the day before as she’d begun moving in. They must have decided to play a prank on her. Opening the door a crack, she shouted, “go home.”

    Her eye caught the box of juice on the kitchen countertop. She frowned. She must have forgotten to put it away after making her drink earlier. She glanced back at the door and shrugged. “Why not?” She poured herself a second drink that was more champagne than juice and raised her glass. “Here’s to the next chapter,” she said out loud. She tipped the glass back and draining its contents. The combination of pulp and bubbles tickled her tongue.

    She took a step toward the main room and bumped into the wall. She giggled. “I made that drink too strong.”

    She stepped on the carpet, loving how its plush weave surrounded her toes. Another round of knocking boomed from the front door, this time even louder and more insistent. She turned her head and shouted, “go away, whoever you are.” Her ears detected the sound of a siren in the distance. Good, she thought, maybe someone else got tired of those kids and called in a complaint.

    She returned to the box of ornaments. The room began to spin. Yeah, that drink was way too strong. Lesson learned. She sat down in an attempt to reclaim her equilibrium, but the dizziness increased. She looked for something to center her gaze on.

    Only then did she realize the figurine was gone.