Merry Farmer is an inspiration. There’s really no other way to describe it. Everything from her name to her always upbeat personality to her journey through this crazy writers’ world is a cause for celebration and belief. Merry will be teaching a Sunday morning feature called “The Essentials of Self-Publishing” where she’ll share what she has learned navigating the sometimes treacherous minefield of the self-publishing world. She was kind enough to answer a few questions about herself, her motivation, and some pre-conference teasers on self-publishing. More after the break!
How important are conferences and conventions to a writer?
I think they’re super important. Writing can be such a solitary experience. I have literally gone four days or more without talking (live) to another person. Any time you get the chance to hang out live and in person with fellow writers, grab it!
What are some hints for getting your butt in the seat and your hands on the keyboard?
When I first started writing for publication, I had very little free time, so I scheduled my writing time religiously. I then found that having iron-clad, set times for writing was one of the most brilliant ways to keep inspiration flowing. If 7:30 – 8:30pm is your writing time, then it’s your writing time, period. It actually relieves a lot of stress to know what you will be doing and when.
How do you balance your writing time with the rest of your life’s responsibilities?
Hmm…. Sometimes I wonder if I do! It’s a little easier for me because I love writing, but don’t have a husband or children. But I do prioritize what I need to get done in any given day or week, I set firm deadlines for myself, and I keep a whiteboard with a list of everything I need to be doing on a given day.
When did you first realize you were a writer?
I like to tell people I first started writing when I was 10 years old and realized one day that I didn’t have to wait for the teacher to assign a creative writing project to write something. But you know, I think I actually knew that writing was the love of my life when I was 6, learning how to read and write, and I learned to spell the word “grasshopper.” It was such a big, beautiful word, and the thrill it gave me to write it over and over on blank scraps of paper was maybe the purest joy I have ever known!
What are you most looking forward to at the 2015 Philadelphia Writers’ Conference?
This will be my first time teaching a workshop, so I’m very excited about that. I’m eager to whip out my soapbox and teach people what self-publishing is really all about, how it works, what you need, and what you don’t need to make a career as a self-published author.
How has the new emphasis on a digital world impacted your writing?
Digital publishing and social media have pretty much made my entire life today possible. Ebooks are the lifeblood of self-publishing, and the internet is its matrix. I always knew that self-publishing was the path for me, and mastering this new, digital world has been the most fun and fulfilling adventure I could possibly have imagined. It’s also enabled me to write in a variety of genres, to experiment with literary forms and processes, and to publish as frequently as I want to.
What are the best parts of self-publishing? What are your biggest challenges? What were the biggest surprises?
The best part of self-publishing? Let me put it this way. A couple of years ago, I wrote a mission statement for my writing career: “To be able to write as much as possible for as long as possible.” The nature of the way self-publishing works has enabled me to do just that. I love that I don’t have to get approval for any of the various projects I’ve wanted to try. Some have been spectacularly successful, some sank like a lead balloon, but no one has ever told me I can’t try any of them. I also love the idea that I own all of my work in its entirety. And sure, it’s a huge challenge to be discovered and to connect with readers in a way that will be meaningful to them. I have put hours and hours of effort, not to mention a sizable investment of capital, into promotions and advertising. I’m lucky that I’ve reached the point now where I don’t have to put as much effort into that, because I have fans and followers. I always liked that challenge, though. I think the biggest surprise has been that, after nearly four years of self-publishing, a couple of set-backs, a couple of awesome successes, a ton of work, and reviews that range from the very pinnacle of praise to bitterly scathing, I still love every minute, every second of the writing and self-publishing process, and I get as excited about it now as I did the day I first clicked “publish” on my first book. This is absolutely the right publishing path for me.
Want to meet Merry in person and check out her workshop? Register for the conference HERE!