Things I Wish I Knew Before I Published: Part II

I love being an independent author-publisher. Being in control of my business gives me a great deal of satisfaction. It also gives me a lot of responsibilities and a heck of a lot of things to know. In part one of this series, I discussed some of the big picture things I wish I knew before I published. This multiple part series of posts originated last month on the Writers In the Storm Blog with Part I. Part II continues with big picture things.

Photo taken from above a manual typewriter looking down on a man's hands on the keys symbolic of things I wish I knew before I published


You are a writer. You already know how much self-discipline it takes to write a book from first idea to polished product. Applying the seat of your pants to the seat of your chair may not be a problem for you when you’re writing. That kind of motivation is a big picture motivation. But what about the other stuff that a successful author must do?

Motivation for the Traditionally Published

A traditional publishing company will create deadlines relayed to you by your editor. Revisions are due on this date, approval of copywriting is due on a different date. Motivation to complete those tasks cannot be the money or the hope of publishing fame. It takes a distinct set of self-discipline skills to finish creative tasks in a certain time frame. Your publisher may dictate other things as well. Your contract may dictate where and when you make appearances. It doesn’t matter if you don’t feel like it. It’s part of your contract. 

These situations and time-frames do not have to be negative. Many authors have very pleasant and lucrative relationships with traditional publishing. Educate yourself on what to expect. Ask authors published by that company what their experience has been like. Know what your contract obligations are. Understand yourself, your self-discipline, and your expectations. Be prepared and you won’t lack motivation.

Motivation for the Independent Author-Publisher

When you’re self-employed, no one will yell at you if you’re late to work or even skip a day. You have no boss to remind you of your deadlines. You must be self-motivated enough to glue your butt to the chair to get the work done. 

Winging it isn’t the path to success. Have a plan. Have tools ready to help you stay on track. You also will need tools to get back on track when you’re depressed or after a hurtful review or an illness. When you are self-employed, you have to be worker bee, cheerleader, and taskmaster, sometimes all at once.

What I Wish I Knew About Motivation

I do not lack motivation to write. I love the entire process, from idea creation to rough draft to editing and polishing. What I wish I knew from the beginning…

Find out what I wish I knew about motivation, about copyright, protecting your rights, and on knowing your reader over on the Writers in the Storm Blog.

Reporting Actual Progress

Keeping track of my progress, reporting my progress to you every month is an important part of my process. The year, 2022, is galloping away from the starting line. It’s the end of January and this is my progress report. After a very long and difficult 2021, I’m happy that there is actual progress in this progress report.


Instead of goals or resolutions, I use intentions. You can miss a goal. You probably break most resolutions. But an intention is a focus. When life gets in the way of your plan, take care of that event or disturbance, intending to return to your primary plan. Every morning begins with a renewed intention. 

In order to track activities accurately, I divide my intentions into four large “buckets:” Making, managing, marketing, and home.


Making is the process where words get on paper or the digital facsimile. I spent 68% of my work time on making. That’s not quite back where I’d like it to be, but it’s much closer than it’s been. Happily, I put more words on paper this month than any of the previous 15 months.

My intention was to be done with this beta-reader driven revision of If I Should Die by today. I came very close. Two or three days of double-checking punctuation and spelling, and If I Should Die will fly to my editor.

I wrote twelve out of fourteen blog posts. Several of them received a lot of comments and attention. Thank you. Story Time Reviews Valedictorian, Beware of Wet Footprints, How to Create a Safe Place in Your Mind, Story Time Reviews Operation Haystack, and 10 Warning Signs You’re Doing too Much ranked in the top five posts visited this month.


This bucket is huge in scope. It covers anything that is not creating words (blog posts, stories, or newsletters) or marketing. There are two big news items in the managing area this month.

First is that I finished the first stage of redesigning my website. It takes a lot of time to design and implement that design. Though most of the redesign time happened in December, I spent many hours on it this month as well. There’s still much to be done, but I can do it in smaller bites.

The second big news item is the new covers for the books in the Fellowship Dystopia series. Haven’t seen them? You can see them on my home page or on their individual pages. And of course, changing out the covers isn’t complete either. Having new book covers means new bookmarks and webpages and loading the new covers on all the bookseller sites and social media sites. Of course, I’m not quite finished with this either.


Out of necessity, marketing got the short end this month. However, that will change over the coming months.


I’m in the middle of way too many projects around the house. A little progress here and there means the upheaval can be ugly to look at and difficult to live with. Remind me, please, that the tortoise won the race.

New and Renewed Intentions

February will be a busy month. When I receive my manuscript back from my editor, I will turn my focus back on If I Should Die. Once I’ve incorporated recommended changes, I’ll set up a preorder, send the manuscript off the proofreader, and send the ARC to my team of advanced readers.

In between editors, I’ll start work on the third book in the series.

Redesigning is in my blood these days. In my *spare* February moments, I will remove everything in my office, install new shelves, tops, equipment, and a new sit-stand desk. I’ll be taking pictures and sharing them with my newsletter subscribers. Yes, newsletter subscribers, you will get a newsletter soon.

I’m taking a marketing course for authors, an area where I need lots of help.

There’s cleaning and rearranging planned for the “Home” bucket, too.

What I Learned

My focus for January was to finishing the book, so I only attended three short webinars this month.

Two webinars I attended taught new ways to use some specific web tools. The third one was on using touch in my writing. Not only did I learn new ways to write, I enjoyed learning from one of my favorite teachers, Margie Lawson.

My biggest lesson over the past year hits home again as I mark the first anniversary of my husband’s death.

If you’ve loved someone deeply, you will grieve deeply after that person is gone. But gone isn’t forgotten and love is not fragile. Love’s embrace may change, but it endures—always.

What do you think of my actual progress in this Progress Report? Did you make actual progress this month or are the pandemic or other stressors weighing you down?

Image Credits

Top Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay

Middle Photo by Alexey Turenkov on Unsplash

Final Photo by Visual Stories || Micheile on Unsplash

Things I Wish I Knew Before I Published: Part I

I am an independent author-publisher. I love what I do. But there are things I wish I knew before I published. 

Things I wish I Knew Before I Published by Lynette M. Burrows is illustrated by a photograph looking down on a man typing on a typewriter.

I spent years learning how to write a story. Having listened to more than a few science fiction authors, I knew more than the average person about the book publishing industry. I tried the traditional publishing route. My two literary agents were superb at their jobs. They landed me a couple of “close but no thanks” responses from trad publishers. A friend urged me to go the independent route.

I did a great deal of research about traditional publishing vs. independent published. Finally, I decided independent publishing was best for me and my book. Despite all my research, there are many things I wish I knew before I published my book. Today, I’ll discuss the big picture ones.

It’s A Business

If you want to make money from your books, writing is a business. The choice between traditionally published or indie published is a business decision.

Use the resources of writer organizations like the Authors Guild or Science Fiction Writers of America (SFWA) to educate yourself on best practices. Here on Writers in the Storm, there are many posts to help you decide. John Peragine discusses Six Self-Publishing Considerations. Piper Bayard’s three-part series, Indie Publishing 101, is also very helpful.

The Business of Being Traditionally Published

The big 5 traditional publishers are relatively big business. But even traditionally published authors need some business skills.

For most traditional publishers to consider your book, you will need an agent. Which agents are best for you to query? Do you sign a contract? Or have a verbal agreement? Know the advantages and disadvantages of both. Be very clear on what the agent will do for you. Make certain you understand the agent’s commission and charges. What if you or your agent decide to end your relationship? How do you do that? What happens to your books?

If the agent sells your manuscript, you will sign a contract with the publisher. Not all agents are savvy about contracts. Make sure you understand what contract clauses you should avoid. Know what rights you sign over to the publisher.

Curious About the Indie Author Side?

In this post, I compare and contrast what the traditional published author might need to know with what the independent author-publisher might know, plus a short paragraph about a few things I wish I knew before I published. 

Despite my lack of knowledge that would have been helpful, I wouldn’t change my mind or my love of the life of an independent author-publisher. 

Read the rest on Writers in the Storm.

Image Credits

Photo by Vlad Deep on Unsplash

2021 Year-End Progress Report

Typically, my year-end progress report would have come last week, but I was still rebuilding my website. (If you haven’t seen it, take a look.) I had intentions for 2021. Nothing could have prepared me for what would happen. But in reviewing the year, I’m heartbroken at what 2021 took from me and grateful for the good things 2021 brought.


Instead of goals or resolutions, I use intentions. You can miss a goal. You probably break most resolutions. But an intention is a focus. When life gets in the way of your plan, take care of that event or disturbance, intending to return to your primary plan. Every morning begins with a renewed intention.


 My intentions were that If I Should Die would have been celebrating its first publication date birthday. February changed everything.

During the following 90 days, I did whatever I felt like doing. If I didn’t feel like doing anything, I didn’t. At the beginning of May, I returned to my writing desk. My focus wasn’t back to normal. But I plugged away at the keyboard.

Mid-May I woke with my second bout of Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo. The first episode had been ten years earlier. I had forgotten it was possible that it would recur, so it took a few days before I figured out why I was so dizzy I didn’t dare move. That kept me from the keyboard until I figured out I could dictate to the computer without looking at it.

It took 90 days of therapy to get to where I could drive the car again. It took longer to get to where dizziness didn’t interfere with what I was doing.

In September I could finally endure longer days at the computer. I completed the first revision of If I Should Die the Saturday before Thanksgiving and sent it out to my beta readers.

I posted 75% of the posts I’d intended.

One of the wonderful surprises 2021 sprung on me was an invitation to take part in the Writers In the Storm blog. (I accepted, of course.)


Ongoing computer issues got worse, or maybe less tolerable, over the first half of the year. I tried several fixes and finally resorted to making a backup of everything, then wiping the computer’s memory and reloading everything. That seems to have worked brilliantly.

Redesigning my website became a necessity when the makers of my previous theme dropped it from being a supported theme. It took a little longer to get it functional with the new theme and there are things I want to fix or add in the future, but I am happy so far. Take a look. 

Sadly, I only read five books in 2021. The focus and connection and joy had disappeared.

In happier news, I won a partial scholarship to the 20Books Vegas Conference in November. It took some scrambling to afford to go, but it worked out. I connected online with the kind and supportive J Lynn Hicks, author of YA dystopian novels, and we agreed to be roommates.

Before I went to the conference, I decided to focus on learning more about marketing there. Even if I attended them back-to-back, there were more panels about marketing than I could attend. I reveal a little of what I learned at the conference below.


With everything else going on, I had little motivation or energy for creating new ads. I focused instead on the ads I had. I studied them one-by-one, removed keywords that weren’t working. It didn’t take long for me to see better results from the ads. Sales trickled in.

Thanks to COVID, there was only one in-person book sale I could have attended. But I did not take part in the book sale day at 20Books Vegas. 

Imagine my surprise when I discovered my sales increased over two hundred percent from the previous year.


I am deeply grateful for dear friends who have reached out in very supportive ways this entire year. You know who you are. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Life after a spouse’s death is full of decisions and changes. Don’t worry, I’m not making big changes like selling the house or anything. Instead, I’m deciding what possessions that were my husbands do I keep, sell, or donate. I don’t need to bore you with the all the details. But there are a couple I will share.

I’ve decided to make my work environment healthier and more efficient. Yes, as if I don’t have enough other things to do. My office is a spare bedroom. It is a disorganized mess. This project will take months to complete. My newsletter readers, Burrows Bookwyrms, will get to see some of what the process looks like.

Like many middle-class couples, we had my car and his car (an eight passenger van really). After my husband became wheelchair bound, I bought a wheelchair van. Selling his old van would have distressed him. So, we had three vehicles. Before COVID, I used my car for quick errands. After COVID, I think I used the wheelchair van twice. So in September and October, I sold the old his and her vehicles and traded in the wheelchair van for a new car. 


Of course, the biggest event for 2021 was my husband’s death.

Plumbing issues, washer and dryer issues, reseeding the lawn, and the gas company’s decision to dig up my new grass to replace the gas meter filled much of my summer. 

My trip to Las Vegas for the 20Books Vegas conference was my first trip anywhere in way too many years. There were uncomfortable moments during which I’d retreat to my room, but there were also many amazing moments of learning and connection.

Plans don’t always proceed the way we had intended. So it was with my trip to Memphis to meet my brother and his family. They had a last-minute event arise and could not meet me. They had paid for the VRBO house, so I packed up my dogs and went, anyway. The ten-hour drive there and back weren’t terribly relaxing, but the days I spent in Memphis were wonderfully restful.

What I Learned

The top ten most popular posts on my blog during 2021 are:

My 2021 focus word was productivity. Yeah. Didn’t happen.

Turns out I had two focus words. One was learning. I learned far too much about writing and publishing to share here. I’ll limit myself to share only a few nuggets.

Did you know? Vertigo can stubborn and not respond to therapy. Also, it can be caused by shifting crystals in both ears, but the therapist can only treat one ear at a time. That’s one of the things I learned last year.

Give Yourself Permission Not to Do It All. 

Marie Forleo

Permission was my second focus word. I learned I cannot do it all, especially while grieving, but even when all things are good. Most importantly, I learned to give myself permission to focus on my health and happiness. It’s not that I didn’t care about myself before. I did many things to care for myself through the years. But as the months marched onward, I thought I didn’t have time. Many times I didn’t. But that changed. Going to Vegas, listening to all the authors and presenters, finally made me understand I needed to give myself permission to do that.

I didn’t need permission to do what I loved. I still loved writing. It was a place of refuge, a place recharging, a place where the me I like flourished. I will never need permission to write. But focusing on myself, allowing myself to push past previous self-imposed limits—both personally and professionally—that was where I didn’t even see that I had set firm limits. Giving myself permission to go to a writer’s conference was the first step to identifying those subconscious limits I’d set. Attending the conference made me understand I need to give myself permission. Permission granted. Within reason. *smile* 

Going Forward

I’m focusing on growth this year. Read my statement of what that means.

I will finish this second revision by the end of January and submit If I Should Die to my editor. After polishing the words, and proofreading, I will publish it this spring. I’ll have a date soon. 

I will outline the third book in the Fellowship Dystopia series and begin drafting the rest of Miranda’s story.

Giving myself permission to focus on my business and myself is liberating. And I think it’s a lesson all of us need to remember. We can get so very obsessed with what’s going on, so busy taking care of details, that we forget to take care of ourselves. Especially when we’re in the second year of world-wide crisis (COVID, fires, earthquakes, severe weather events, etc.) I hope that this posts helps you to give yourself permission to let go of some of your stress in the coming year. Give yourself permission to feel joy or peace for however long you can. Give yourself permission to be kind to yourself and others. Feel the freedom and peace granting that kind of permission gives.

Did you enjoy this year-end progress report?

Is giving yourself permission an issue in your life?

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Doing What I Love Takes the Sting Out

Doing what I love takes the sting out. Much of it anyway. Not all. The death of my husband overwhelmed me and impacted what I have accomplished so far this year. It’s been messy. I’ve not met many of my intentions. But tracking what I have accomplished and reporting on it here reminds me of what I have accomplished. Takes the focus off what I haven’t done.

Do what you love, and do it well – that’s much more meaningful than any metric.

Kevin Systrom


Instead of goals or resolutions, I use intentions. You can miss a goal. You probably break most resolutions. But an intention is a focus. When life impedes your plan, take care of that event or disturbance, intending to return to your primary plan. Every morning begins with a renewed intention.


I didn’t finish the revision on my work-in-progress as soon as I had hoped. But I finished the first set of revisions on If I Should Die. The book is out to my Beta Readers. 

Beta readers are voluntary. They understand that this is not a polished draft. They comb the manuscript for inconsistencies, slow pacing, or other story problems. I usually give my beta readers a 3-4 week window to read and get their comments back to me. When I have all their comments, I review the comments. I consider all comments carefully, especially if more than one person made similar comments. After a week of brainstorming how to use those comments to improve the story, I revise the manuscript. 

This is doing what I love. I love writing, but unlike many authors, I also love revisions. It’s exciting and satisfying to shape the story into the best reader experience I can make it.


Busy, busy, busy. Attending the 20Books Conference in Vegas kept me running most of the month. I learned a lot of best practices, tips and tricks and small but significant details of publishing. I’ve spent a large portion of time since my return making plans based on what I learned.

I made calls. Sent emails. And I bought software and tech stuff that will (I hope) improve my productivity and health in this very sedentary life. (More about those later.)

I posted my second blog post on the Writers in the Storm blog. Those posts seemed to increase visits to my blog. 

Posts on my own blog have slowed considerably this month. I planned not to blog while in Vegas, but other days were unplanned misses.

Due to all the extra activities, I also missed most of my virtual write in meetings and my critique group meetings. 


I’m continuing to refine my marketing efforts on Amazon. These efforts have increased impressions received on those ads. Hopefully, more sales will follow.


This area of intentions has also been crazy busy. Cleaning and reorganizing, selling and donating, and strolling down memory lane are a large part of my non-writing time.

Of course, I still enjoy time with my grandson every week. 

Mea culpa. I completely ignored the fact that during the last few years of my husband’s illness and then the pandemic, my poor dogs had only ridden too and from the dreaded vet’s office. SIGH. They have forgotten the joy of riding in the car.


I’ve already blogged about Las Vegas. 

My son and daughter-in-law hosted Thanksgiving dinner this year. I ate too much. And I enjoyed it. I also enjoyed game time with the family. (The toddler made a game of running in and out of the room where we were playing.) It was a low-key affair and just what I needed this year.

What I Learned

Oh my. I could fill a book with what I learned during this month. No, I won’t bore you with the details. However, in the months ahead, you will notice a few changes around here.

This is part of doing what I love. I love to learn new things, try new things, experience new things. Between the pandemic and my grief, I haven’t experienced the lift of doing what I love as much as usual. 

Intentions for Next Month

I could fill a book… Yeah. I bite off way more than I can chew. Unfortunately, as an independent author, there are things that are time sensitive. And many pieces of writing and publishing must happen in a certain order.

Intentions for Making in December include drafting an outline for book 3 in the Fellowship Dystopia Series, revising my website and, at long last, republishing my books with new covers. 

I am hosting on the Writers in the Storm blog this month. 

And besides the two major holidays, I have a trip to Memphis planned, and three birthdays to celebrate. Oh, and the trip means I’m taking short drives with the dogs to help them remember car trips can be fun.

Yup. It’s going to be another busy-bee month. I’ve got big intentions and I know that most of my intentions will extend into 2022.

I am Grateful

It’s the end of November. Thanksgiving is over, but my cup of gratitude is overflowing. I’m grateful to be doing what I love. And my gratitude to my readers, my friends, and my family is unending. You all have enriched my life. Thank you.

What are you most grateful for at the end of this month?

What intentions do you have for next month?

Image Credits

Top Image by 3844328 from  Pixabay 

Middle Photo by Marije Woudsma on Unsplash

Last Photo by Ephraim Mayrena on Unsplash