Welcome back to Alchemy for Authors!
In this episode, I chat with Australian author Becky Caputo, and we discuss how our ego can help and hinder us on our author journey. Becky shares tips for avoiding the pitfalls of predatory publishers, how to overcome imposter syndrome, and how managing our ego can help us reach our writing goals.
If you’re ready to get control of your ego and up-level your writing life, this episode is for you!
You can learn more about Becky and find her books at: https://wordsofbek.com.au/
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Check out Writer Beware here.
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Find the full transcript of this episode below.
Episode 28: Ego and the Writer with Becky Paroz
Jo: Hello, my friends. I hope you’re all doing well. I’m in that exhilarating and stressful stage of trying to hit a book deadline. So it’s of course, accompanied by that wonderful rollercoaster of some days loving my work in progress, and other days not so much. So it must be serendipity then that this week’s episode focuses on the ego and the writer.
Today’s guest shares how our ego can both help and hinder us in our author life. How we can befriend it and use it to our advantage. And how we can avoid the pitfalls of predatory publishers that our ego, and its friend imposter syndrome, can sometimes lead us towards. So, if you are ready to supercharge your author life by mastering your ego, then grab a drink, find a comfy chair. Sit back and enjoy the show.
Hello, my lovelies, welcome back to another episode of Alchemy for Authors. So I’m super excited to share with you today’s guest, Becky Paroz. A little bit about Becky: well, she has 30 years in the construction industry and Becky has demonstrated her unique leadership abilities on some of the most demanding projects in Australia. She’s performed as a successful engineer, an industry leading project manager, and is now general manager for a local building company in Southeast Queensland. Becky is a much requested speaker at state and national industry conferences, and she’s motivated to pass on her lessons learnt to assist and educate the next generation of leaders to become high achievers like herself. Becky shares her knowledge through a variety of writing projects. She’s writing for three different business magazines this year, and she also writes regular blog articles and contributes to anthologies each year. Becky’s anthology contributions speak significantly about her experience and offer insights into leadership, confidence, overcoming adversity, and dealing with imposter syndrome. Her self-published book is a collection of her works to date. Becky is passionate about ensuring that every young person realizes they can be successful no matter what their circumstances that life has handed them from an early age. So thank you so much, Becky, for coming on the show today. It’s so great to have you here.
Becky: It’s great to be here. Thank you for having me.
Jo: It’s pretty cool for me because you’re actually the first person I’ve talked to that’s relatively close. You’re across the ditch. So I’m in New Zealand you’re in Australia.
Becky: We’re practically neighbors.
Jo: That’s right. That’s right. It’s so nice to have you here and I’m so excited to be chatting to you because from your bio and from our chat’s online, you just have a wealth of knowledge with writing, and with helping other people self-publish their books as well. But I was hoping we could start with you just sharing a little bit about your writing journey. So what brought you onto this journey of helping other authors self-publish their books and writing your own book as well?
Becky: So it’s a question I often get asked, cause 30 years in engineering and construction doesn’t lend itself easily to the visual of a writer. So I first approached someone about pathology contributions on behalf of friends who were writers. And this lady kind of went, well, that’s all good that you can send them my way, but I want something from you. Oh, okay. What do you mean? She’s like, well, you have all this experience, I want you to write something. The book’s about leadership. You clearly have been doing that for a long time. Contribute. I was like, okay, I have this habit of saying yes to these crazy things and then kind of having regret later. So, you know, dive straight in. And wrote my first ever chapter.
And so this whole story has its roots in every part of my career. So previous to writing this chapter, I’d been to a women’s conference. My first, I suppose, women’s centric event being in engineering. So that was vastly different to a lot of my experiences. And one of the keynote speakers was very passionate about talking about how men are trained in so much more I suppose, business and management knowledge as an automatic process, than women are. And I was really confronted by that and thought about it quite a bit. Because obviously the things that she was accusing men of knowing that women didn’t, I knew. So I really had to dig deep and go, well, is that because I’ve worked with men all my life? So I’ve accumulated this knowledge by association, by learning and being mentored and being in that space, versus is she right? Are women less likely to have access to this information? I concluded that while perhaps her take on it, that it was a deliberate societal process, may not be quite accurate, that the fact that women don’t have access to this information was probably fairly true.
So when the opportunity came up to write, I kind of went, oh, I’m gonna pick something that’s really commonplace from my knowledge and my industry and my exposure to working with men a lot, and translate that into something for women. And so that became my first ever chapter. So it kind of just opened up this whole new world for me.
What I realized in doing this chapter, and I will get to a point soon, is that I’ve been writing for 30 years of my career. We often think of engineering and construction is all the tools and all big yellow machines and lots of noise, that sort of stuff, but I was always in management from the age of 24. And what that means is emails, reports, plans, procedures. And so I realized I’d been writing for 20 years technically, so I had this amazing amount of skill to write. What I’d never done is thrown that outside of my industry and apply it to any other topic.
So when I wrote this first chapter, it was so incredibly addictive. It was freeing. It was just something I’d never done before, but obviously discovered a passion for, because I could take all this knowledge and all these thoughts, and I could say what I wanted. I wasn’t bound by a certain structure. I wasn’t bound by project rules. I wasn’t bound by client expectations. I was simply allowed to write whatever I wanted and that was just, like this most remarkable experience. Like I can’t even really explain it. But freedom was kind what came to me. Freedom to express really important things in my way. And so, as you can probably tell there, there was the addiction born.
I’m certainly in a dozen plus anthology contributions, and so it made sense instead of everyone buying each book to get one chapter of mine, I threw that all together into an anthology. And because I’m an engineer and I’m process driven. I did the whole dive down the rabbit hole. Okay. So how does this publishing thing work? You know. Let’s do all the research. And of course that is a rabbit hole that’s never ending. And I’ve always been a reader, so what it opened my eyes to was kind of the whole industry of traditional publishing, and how it’s very much a gate keeping industry.
So construction is very much male dominated and there seems to be some entry barriers for females. Publishing is just the same. So there’s lots of parallels, which I never, ever would’ve thought I’d say. Publishing started as a way of giving information to the elite. It was used as a gate keeping process to the poor. And it, honestly, I don’t think the kind of root culture has changed much. Hence the rise of self-publishing and indie publishing and all these other ways and avenues. And I suppose the most frustrating thing I found is there’s no rules. You know, there really aren’t any rules in publishing. As long as you get a book out, that looks good, people are gonna buy it, read it. And I think we all know some examples of a book that perhaps isn’t the best, but has become a best seller. So it’s yeah, it just was, it was fascinating.
Eventually I stopped and went, okay, if there’s no rules, it means I can do what I want as long as I treat it professionally. And that’s my kind of thing is a lot of people write because they love writing, which is fantastic. Publishing and getting their name out there and wanting to make money and make yourself a wage from writing, is a business. It’s a profession, and it needs to be treated as such. Particularly in that indie and self-publishing space if you wanna be seen to be serious and taken seriously. Because there’s nothing worse than a terrible cover or spelling mistakes on your first page to turn a reader off and have them never, ever come back.
I cringe a little when I see these new books on Amazon and the spelling mistakes in their blurbs. And that’s a real turnoff for readers, particularly if they’re high level readers, fast readers, readers who are broad readers, they just won’t pick that book up. So, it’s kind of one of my things is just being professional about it, investing money into your career as an author, just as you would any other career in terms of learning and training and development.
So, yeah, it’s a bit of a story and a bit of a journey, but that’s how it all sort of came together and coalesced. Now I’ve got the bug and I just, you know, who else can I write for? This magazine? I’ll write for them. And yeah, I’m just finishing up with another anthology this year, The Power To Rise, which is gonna be released in the next month. Which is very exciting. It’s 30 women, and a significant number of them are first nation women from around the world, talking about their childhood demons and trauma and how they overcame it, and kind of that idea that we wanna share these stories because the more we talk about it, we shine a light into those dark places. But the fact that we all can also share how far we’ve come, and the amazing lives we all lead, hopefully will inspire teenagers and young women out there to realize they can surpass whatever they’ve been through. It’ll be great if young men read it too, but we know that men don’t tend to read books by women and certainly women centric, but you never know. We might be able to convince a few of them as well.
Jo: Well, that’s exciting, because that’s one of the cool things about writing is it allows not only yourself to have a voice, but you can give other people a voice as well. So, yeah, that’s really cool.
Becky: One of my favorite things, I suppose, is I do a lot of public speaking and I have for 20 years, but with a book I can reach even more people. And so that’s a part of the importance for me is being able to reach as many people as I can with the support that I have to give them my writing.
Jo: Yeah, absolutely. Well, I love that you’re so passionate about self-publishing and indie publishing because I’m really quite passionate about that as well. But it’s such a big thing, indie publishing, like there are so many different things that you’ve got to learn to be able to do it. Everything from getting a good book cover and making sure you contract somebody to do some editing and maybe formatting, and then getting that on the different platforms, and marketing and advertising, everything that goes into it, how did you learn that? Because it’s such a huge amount of things to learn. How did you go about learning all that?
Becky: I suppose I just started diving in. I hopped on the key player pages, so Amazon, Smashwords. And I chose Smashwords because it’s particularly bent towards self-publishing eBooks. That’s it. It’s now a merge with Draft2Digital, I think it’s gonna be an amazing challenge to what’s out there now, which is absolutely necessary. But back then, it was purely an online platform for self-published and it wasn’t very well known, but the guy who started it is very passionate about self-publishing. So he’s got a lot of resources up there. He’s got free eBooks on how to format your eBook, all that sort of thing. And so when I discovered that resource I was pretty excited, cuz that’s a whole lot of knowledge that he’s just happy to share.
I suppose I’ve always been a reader and a prolific reader. Like there isn’t much, I won’t read. And so I guess I’ve always been aware of the industry from the end user point of view. So it was very easy to kind of go, well, I know Penguin. I know Random House. And going and having a look at their processes and what they do and the promises they make. And you can see this distinct and vast canyon between the two. And then of course there’s all the hybrid in between.
And you know, one of the best ways to learn is to get stung by a less than honest practitioner. Predatory publishing practices is what it’s officially called. And for those who haven’t really heard of those, Writer Beware, is one of your best resources to look up. And so once I found that page too, I was kind of horrified. There’s a lot of predators out there. There’s a lot of people who will stroke your ego. And that’s just where the concept of the writer and the ego and everything, is a very interesting discussion. They’ll stroke your ego to get your money. That’s the short version. Vanity press is what they used to be called. Now because there’s a bit more of a light and a bit more awareness, and we have things like Writer Beware, who are sharing some of these predatory practices, now we have indie and hybrid supported and assisted self publishing, all these other names that are generally, I say generally, there are some good ones out there who are genuine, but generally there’s a lot out there who will promise you the world, stroke your ego and tell you that it’s a book the world must see and everyone will read it and it’ll be amazing, and you’ll go on to be a world renowned speaking professional. They will paint this glorious picture of what you want in order to extract a good couple of thousand, up to $40,000 I’ve heard someone pay, to get your book out there.
Becky: Yeah. And it’s incredible. And at the end, they end up with a lovely book. A garage full of boxes of this lovely book, and less than 200 sales, with no distribution, no marketing. You know, the marketing consisted of the book was on the overall publisher’s website, and they got a mention on Facebook.
Jo: Oh, that just makes me cringe.
Becky: Oh, it’s terrible. And people fall for this because of the ego. I find the ego and the writer is a really interesting dynamic. Mm. Because as writers to believe that what we are going to write is gonna be read by someone is like, that is an exceptional sized ego. And I don’t mean ego in a negative way. Ego is just a word. And to me, it’s just a, a word that describes our self-interest. And so to believe that what I have to say about leadership and someone else will read and their life might be changed by that. You know, that is very egotistical and that’s okay. You need to have that level of self faith in your words and your story. Whether it’s fiction, nonfiction, it doesn’t matter. You really need to believe and have faith. That that story is gonna be read by someone and loved. So you need to kind of practice that and be comfortable with that.
Now, equally, and interestingly, most writers also suffer from imposter syndrome where we kind of go, oh my God, no one’s gonna read it. And so we spend this kind of in this space, yoyoing back and forward, and I find it’s tied to a few things like the old, are we writers or are we authors? When do we transfer from one to the other? How important is it? What’s the significance attached to the word writer versus the word author? These are things that come into our ego and play into how we feel about the craft, what we are doing. You know, a lot of people say, well, you’re an author when you’ve got a published book, but what if I only write for magazines?, I’ve got an article published, that would suggest I’m an author, but I’m writing for a magazine. So, you know, authorship tends to lend itself toward books. And this is where some of that snobbery in the industry and that sort of gate keeping can come from. It’s like, oh, you’re not a real author then. Which I think is very harsh. And so there’s this ego management that we need to do because we will get all that feedback. You know, we will find out that our family isn’t that interested in reading our book. Or we’ll find out that all the people are like, oh my God, tell me when it’s finished, I’ll buy a copy, all of a sudden hear crickets when you go, I’ve got a copy. I’ll put one aside for you. Would you mind paying for it?
What? You want me to give you money for your, what do you mean you’re not gonna give to me for free? And it’s like, this is years of my labor, some sums of investment. And you would like that free? Like that’s okay for some close friends. But in the whole, there’s this whole shock to the ego once the writer gets the book out there and the world isn’t knocking on their door to kind of go, oh my God, we need your book, we’ve heard all about it. And again, so there’s this ego management and balance because that can set up some more imposter syndrome triggers. It can certainly have some depressive effects. And so the right of mental health in our relationship with our ego is something I find really fascinating.
Another part to it is sort of that introvert extrovert question. I know so many writers who identify as an introvert mm-hmm and so going out, promoting and talking about their book and social media and all that is very, very awkward for them. And I find that fascinating because they’ve had the ego to believe that people are going to wanna read their book, but they don’t have the, well, they tell themselves they don’t have the ability to go out and market it because they’re introverted. And so we get very attached to these labels that then inhibit our ego from, from taking over and doing that job. Because what if that ego part of you that knows that this book is a great book and people wanna read? What if you let that have full reign instead of trying to use this introvert identity to hold that back?
And so I think there’s some really fascinating psychological stuff that goes on with writers, that because it’s a bit of a microcosm and it’s so introverted when we’re doing it, and then extroverted when we’re trying to sell and publish, that it’s one of those kind of really interesting people watching spaces. And knowing lots of writers now, and making friends with lots of authors and writers, it’s allowed me to kind of really explore that through just some really good observation and conversations with people. So it’s just, it’s, it’s just a really fascinating space to be in. And it’s full of creativity.
Equally, it’s full of some, like I said, some fairly negative stuff and some predatory practices and some egos can get completely out of control. Another thing I found fascinating is writers kind of feel like there’s not enough readers for them. You know? Don’t buy that book, buy my book. Yeah. I’m like, do you know how much I read? I read 250 eBooks last year.
Jo: Yeah. Oh, wow.
Becky: And I read that many because I can’t afford that habit to go and buy all those books. Yeah. So you know, your book and their book, I’m gonna have space for. If you write lots of books, I’ll probably read them if they’re really good, but trying to stop me from buying another’s book because you have the scarcity mentality, isn’t doing the industry any favors, and certainly is not doing yourself any favors either. It looks a bit desperate too. And so again, that ego, like where’s your ego there? Be confident that when I grab a copy of your book, and I may not grab it now, but I may at some stage, that I’m gonna enjoy it. Use that ego that got you through writing and developing and pushing this story out, as what is it that Hemingway or Bradbury said, you know, just cut yourself open and bleed on the page, that’s how you write a book.
You know, no matter how small, short story, light and fluffy fiction, romance, whatever it is or intends, you bleed on a page for that. I think there’s a lot for the writer and for the author to look at their ego and allow that to be useful. Reign it in when it’s kind of a little bit, whoa, okay. Yes, I understand your book’s gonna change the world, but there’s lots of other books that will too. But when it comes to marketing or to kind of pitching it, get it out there and wave it around and let it kind of trumpet its thing. And do that mindfully. And I think that’s gonna take a lot of the angst away from this introvert and extrovert writer and author, and will they won’t they, and all that sort of stuff I see writers put themselves through.
Jo: Yeah, I can definitely see how ego has its place, because I mean, I’ve been in this situation and I know that ego definitely has a place in pushing us across that finish line, and getting us to start. So it’s a really interesting dynamic. We always have such negative connotations for ego, but we really do need it in this instance, don’t we?
Becky: Yeah. And I guess that’s part of why I am happy to talk about it in, in a lot of circles because, oh no don’t bring your ego or no egos here, and it’s like, I’m sorry we all have egos. Egos are what get us out of bed and face the day. Yeah. You know, it’s a part of our edge, it’s a part of our psychology. It’s not a negative thing. Egotism, being egotistic, that’s a little off. And that’s where some of that negativity comes from. But ego in and of itself is what drives us.
Jo: Hmm. So there’s some positives for having that ego, but where do you think ego as a writer might hold us back?
Becky: I think ego as a writer can get in our way of writing. We’re so positive and we’re so affirmed it’s gonna be a great book we don’t actually start in case those words don’t come out. Right? And that’s something I’ve actually experienced. So I wanna write fiction. So because I’ve done technical writing all my life and all of the writing, published dates, all professional, technical leadership, it’s all sort of nonfiction based. So I have this crazy idea to do some fiction. I have this story somewhat based in construction. It might be, you know, a protagonist and an antagonist and female and male. And I put off starting for a good while. Like I had the story, I did mind maps. I had timelines. I did all good planning stuff, but didn’t actually put pen to paper as it were, or fingers to keyboard.
And I realized because I’m good at writing, and because I’m good at punching out technical content in a very high level of grammatic correctness, et cetera, in a short amount of time, based on my 30 years, I knew I wasn’t gonna be able to do that with a fiction book. But my ego was kind of like, well, we don’t like that. We wanna write it right correctly. The first time, like we do with a lot of our other stuff. I don’t need to edit a lot of my eight hundred word magazine articles. I do a little bit of finessing and that’s it. And my ego wanted me to write that way for the fiction. I’m like, I don’t have any clue how to write fiction. I don’t even know how to write dialogue. Last time I wrote dialogue was when I was in school. Yeah. Which is many, many years ago. And so my ego was kind of like, no, no, it’s gonna be a great story. We just need to get it right in our head. So when we write it for the first time, it’s cool. And it’s like, that is never gonna happen.
If you are in that space listening, it’s never gonna happen. Just start writing. The beautiful story and pictures and movie and everything that we have going on in our head will never, ever, ever translate correctly into those words. Yeah. And it will develop a life of its own, take off in places, you’re like, hang on a minute, that wasn’t part of it. And accept that. Mm-hmm. And so that’s where ego can really get in the way. Once I realized that, I kind of gave myself a good talking to, okay, start. I’ve kinda dived again. So I’ve got about two thirds of the way. And apparently this is a bit of a phenomena there. There’s kind of this stopping point, where you’re like, Ugh, it’s not going the way I want. I dunno where to go next. Cause I dunno how to get here to the end. And then of course I’ve had, you know, unprecedented times I’ve kind of dropped in there. So yeah, it’s been a while since I’ve picked that back up and I’m currently trying to free up some time and reallocate some space to get back to that. Because I really do want to write it and that’s, you know, again, that’s that good and evil of ego. My ego is still telling me you’re gonna write this book cause it’s gonna be awesome. Yeah. But it’s also a little bit inhibiting because I’m not getting it right the first time. And so I’m accepting that those drafts and the edits and the rewrites and all that stuff, is it actually a part of the process, mm-hmm, and learning to love that part of the process is a, is a really good thing to help train your ego.
And I think the other part is, yeah, when it comes to that sort of sales and marketing, realizing that, yes, you need your ego out there to help and all that sort of stuff. But you’ve gotta remember that it’s the end user. Why is a reader gonna pick this book up? Why is someone gonna enjoy this book? That’s what you need to tell them. Let your ego tell them, that’s why they’re gonna enjoy it. Not that they have to buy this book, and that it’s all about you. So it’s that taming of the ego and learning to work with it, using the energy behind it, but perhaps not the full intent as it manifests in the, you will read this book cause it’s the best book ever. Yeah. You know, it’s great to have that personal faith. That needs to be filtered through, you’re really gonna enjoy this book because it’s science fiction and Sherlock Holmes combined, and I see you really like that. And it’s quite short and quite fast. There’s a bit of humor in it and I just think you’ll really enjoy that.
Jo: When we write a book, they tend to become, for a lot of us, kind of a part of us. It’s like us sharing a piece of our soul with the world. Right? It’s like having a child or it’s our book baby, or people talk about it in different ways like that. But we almost need to be a little bit more removed. Because I’m thinking back to what you were saying about vanity presses and different organizations out there who can take advantage of indie and self publishers, and for many of us, I think authors and writers in that, there is a somewhat insecurity with our writing. Those of us that experience that imposter syndrome, or one day we are loving what we’ve written and the next day we’re hating it. And, I want people to read this now. I don’t want people to read this. And that back and forth, you know, mm-hmm, that we almost need to remove ourselves so that we are not so caught up with when that praise does come. Just like we’re not too caught up if there’s some criticism, like that odd one star review that might cripple us. It is something I was hoping you can maybe talk a little bit more, is that when we’re maybe so insecure about our writing, that we, uh, grasp onto that praise that might lead us down the track of spending money where we don’t need to, for the help of vanity presses and things like that. Can you talk a little bit more about some of that?
Becky: Yeah, sure. I guess it, it kind of comes down to where you are and that space you’re in. Are you in the, oh my God, the words are flowing. I’m typing madly. It’s fantastic. It’s the best book ever. Or that, oh my God, this is terrible and no one’s gonna read it and I should throw it out. Start from scratch. Don’t ever do that, by the way. Save everything. You know, I have so many different versions. If I cut something out, I will put it into a file of removed scenes because you never know when you’ll come back to that or put it back in.
But when you’re in that sort of space, and it can happen frequently and it can also happen when you are in, particularly in that editing space where you’re reading your words over and over again. So goddamn bored with your story. It does help to remember that no one else has read it. And so it’s gonna be new and exciting to them, but there’s a point where you’re just kind of like, oh, I’d rather die than to deal with this. In those sort of moments of vulnerability, and they will come, you know, during your writing, during your editing, during your publishing, after you’re publishing. Like my first book, I was totally excited to see it with my name on it, but I had that immediate terror of like, oh my God, now people are actually gonna read it. Shit. Mm. Like my whole ego was like, yes, I want people to read this. But as soon as I held that book in my hand, I was like, oh, it’s real now. Yeah, shit. It’s really confronting. And that’s why, I mean, we need to make friends with that ego because we are so up and down, and it can change in an instance like, yay, my book’s here. Oh my God, people are gonna read it. You know, it was literally like that. And I still carry a bit of that with me, you know, like future employers can read these chapters and I’m pretty, yeah, I’m pretty visceral in some of the stuff I share. And there’s stuff there that, you know, you don’t talk about with employers and stuff like that, that they could read. And I’ve gotta constantly remind myself to be okay with that because it’s important those stories are shared regardless mm-hmm and you know, employers are only human too. So there’s that constant ego management.
So it’s when you’re in those spaces of vulnerability, when you’re down, when imposter syndrome is kicking the back of that chair going ha, it’s when you kind of think, no, I can’t do this. That little person, that little voice or that little ad or that little email pops up and it goes, Hey, your book’s amazing. We know that. We wanna help get it out to the world. Like maybe these are the people I need to talk to. Mm. And you’ve gotta remember as writers, those ads are written by writers for you exactly in that spot. And I think that’s something that helps that discernment, is those ads are targeting you exactly in that space you’re in. Deliberately. They’ve gone and paid a copywriter to write that text, to hit you right in those feels, right at that moment of vulnerability. Yeah. And so when you kind of rationalize that in your brain, there’s that immediately, oh, maybe they’re the people to talk to. I really hope that a lot of that’s followed up by that’s really good writing.
Becky: And that helps with that separation of, you’re not so emotionally attached, like, oh, that’s good craft. And you can be, like I said, a little bit step back from, and a little less ego driven in that negative and positive way and look at it with the idea of, okay, I’ve just had a really good pitch. Am I gonna take the energy from that pitch and go throw it back in my writing and keep going? Or am I gonna go down this rabbit hole and allow them to feed me some more? And that’s where the damage lies, is when we go down that rabbit hole and we allow that to feed us more and then more and then more.
So I had an interesting inquiry from an offshoot of a major, and the thing is, the majors are doing this. They won’t admit it. But again, Writerbeware.com. The majors have some offshoots that are this hybrid arrangement whereby they will contact you and they’ll get your book and you’ll pay the money and they’ll make it amazing, except they won’t. I was approached by one. I even went to the point of giving them 50% deposit. Here’s where most people fail. They don’t read fine prints. You must, must have a contract. You give anyone money, get a contract. Get a contract before you give them money and then read it if you’re not sure, give it to a friend, ask someone who deals with contracts for living. Get someone else to get eyes on it, because it will be filled with scary stuff when you start to read it, like, we maintain ownership of the edits. We maintain ownership of the format. We maintain ownership of the cover, of the ISBN. Anything other than the words you give us, we own. Now you paid them, but they’re gonna keep the ownership of everything. There is something like big red flags. If there was a relationship you’d already be running out the door. But because we’re writers and our egos been stroked, we kind of go, oh, that’s okay. They did the work. It’s like, no, no, no. You paid them, remember? You paid for this. Therefore in any other scenario, go to a store, hand of a cash, walk away with something, you own it. So why is this different?
So there’s a really big one right there. So the other scary one is we can cancel the contract at any time, but retain ownership of your works and use that in future for any reason, including re-publication, redistribution, film, TV, or other such distributory means as by we are determined and you can do not a goddamn thing about it.
Jo: It’s unbelievable, isn’t it? And I can understand why people who are just, maybe in that point where they’re just so desperate to have their book out in the world and don’t know differently.
Becky: They’re alone, they don’t have a team. Don’t feel supported by their family and friends, which is, you know, more common than people think. They haven’t joined in Facebook groups that are supportive. And they haven’t done all that stuff to finally get themselves surrounded by a cheer squad. They’re struggling. They’re stuck. They’re at that sort of two thirds way of, you know, collapse. And these people come along going, oh, we love it. We can do anything. We’ll make magic together. Let’s do it for the princely sum of five grand, which will then turn into, oh no, no, we didn’t include a website or, oh no, no, we didn’t include marketing. We’ll need more money for that. And then more money for that. And then more money for that. And none of it will eventuate, unfortunately. And you’ll end up with just this escaping hole in your wallet. It might end up with a book. But depending on the contract, you may not own that book anymore. You’ll always own your content, but you may not own anything else you paid for. And that is also really frustrating and terrifying.
If you wanna be a published author and make money that way, then these are the things you need to teach yourself. Learn, ask for advisor, have an advisory kind of committee around you. You can write a book by yourself. You can’t publish a book by yourself. And having that distinction between writing and publishing and getting it out in the world is something that took me by surprise, cause I’m like, oh, you write a book, you get it published. Oh, so funny. You write a book, there’s the first level of torture. And it’s honestly the easiest part. And those who know, that have been through this, know that it is true. When you’re writing your first book, it’s not easy and you think, oh my God, nothing can be as hard as this, then you get to publishing like, oh, so writing was the easiest part. Okay. And having those as two distinct aspects to what you do. And writing is where you keep your ego really focused on getting the words out and motivating you to craft that story, because you know someone’s gonna wanna read it. Publishing is where you kind of need to put that ego a little bit to one side and be like, okay, I need your support, but we gotta listen to other people. Editors who are gonna eviscerate your work and challenge every word you ever wrote. Cover artists who will not listen to your vision and do exactly what you want because that’s their skill and you probably should listen to them a little bit. Yeah. Yeah. You know, formatters who are like, no, it’s gotta be this way because otherwise it’s not readable in ebook, and readers who are like, I didn’t like this book because you didn’t put a full stop in the right place. One star and all of the things, you know? It’s why I keep saying, having a good relationship with your ego is going to give you a much healthier journey through all of these ups and downs.
Jo: Well, I’m wondering then what’s your advice for finding that balance with our ego so that we can keep it in check, but also use it to our advantage and be self aware of the direction that our egos leading us in. Any tips for that?
Becky: I think being good friends with your ego. And I know that sounds weird, but kind of recognizing that it’s there, checking in with how it’s feeling, what it’s doing, what messages it’s giving you, and is that driven by imposter syndrome? Because our ego tends to kick into egotism when we’ve got imposter syndrome, we tend to overcompensate. I’m feeling like I can’t do this. I’m gonna go out and totally exaggerate about it to make myself feel better. But then, have a chat with the ego and kind of be like, well, how about we don’t go quite to that extreme because then I’m gonna feel like a dick and then that’s gonna feed into imposter syndrome, then we’re just in this big circle of silliness. And I know it sounds funny, I’m talking about these like characters, but we writers tend to anthropothorise, and so I think, developing that relationship with that ego, its like checking in. Where am I at? Why am I acting this way? What’s behind this? Being honest with yourself about where your insecurities lie. I think having a really good friend, you know, a friend who knows you and knows your quirks and kind of checking and going, okay, here’s where I’m at. Here’s what my brain’s telling me. It might be ego. I dunno. What do you think? Tell me, is this my ego? Should I be listening to it right now? Should I not? Get someone external to kind of help with understanding some of these things until you kind of get familiar with it. A trial and error. It’s okay to go out and be a bit extroverted with your ego and then see what happens. We’re writers. We have the ability to put a lens on and look at the world through filters that help us create the worlds and the characters, and the terrible things we do to our characters and the beautiful things we do, apply it to your own life. Take a step out, pretend you’re a character in your own book. Put that lens on and go, what has this character done, and how has this influenced the story? Okay. Do that with your ego. Put the ego out there as a character and go, okay, what is this character doing? What’s their motivation? We do this with our own characters. We can do this with ourselves.
Don’t be so serious. Don’t take it also seriously. At the end of the day, oh my God, it’s just a book. And I say that as a writer and as an author and as someone who is, you know, personally attached to my precious library. At the end of the day, it is a book. It is something that you have chosen to do. It’s something you might be moved to do, and you might be told by God, universe, spirit or whatever. At the end of the day, it’s still just a book. You know? It is not a human being that is living and breathing and you’re responsible for feeding and it might die if you don’t. You can leave that book for a couple of years, it’ll still be there exactly as you left it. So don’t take it quite so seriously and don’t make it the entire world and your entire life.
I think we need to understand that anyone can write, you know, we’ve got 12 year olds, eight year olds, 15 year olds, 20 year olds, and we’ve got 17 year olds, 90 year olds writing books, that are all interesting, and have their audience and will find their targets. So don’t take it quite so seriously and have fun along the way. Learn to enjoy it. If this is something you wanna do for the rest of your life, you wanna be smiling and having some laughs about it. Otherwise you are gonna be really boring and uninteresting to talk to.
Jo: Yeah, for sure. For sure. Oh, that’s awesome. Thank you. So you’ve got a book out: Words of Bek: Leadership, Confidence and Resilience, and there could be a lot of listeners who maybe this book appeals to them. Can you talk a little bit about what that book is that you’ve got out? And then of course you said that you’ve got another one on the way too.
Becky: The Power to Rise. Yes. It’s the upcoming one. Okay. So the words of Bek, which is BEK, if you’re looking for it online, it’s an anthology of all the stuff I’ve written probably in the first 10 years of my writing. I published that I think 2018. So it’s, you know, it’s magazine articles, it’s my anthology contributions for US Press, that’s where I learned about hybrid vanity press and all that sort of stuff. I’ve invested money there I’ll never get back. So be it. It was a good learning lesson and that’s what’s probably drove me to go and do a little bit more research that I should have done in the first place, and why I’m here now going writerbeware.com.
The anthology contributions are about 10 pages and then magazine articles are two or three. So you can kind of dip in and out. You can open it up. I know some people who kind of open up and go, oh, what’s Bek got to say today? Which is kind of nice. It’s not designed necessarily be read from front to back. You can read it back to front. You can read it in whatever order you like. It’s kind of my stories mixed with professional stories, with a bit of coaching and self-help. I tried to offer how-to’s and where-fors, and offer a bit of a process, instead of a lot of what I find inspirational writers do is just lots of tropes and lots of trite phrases, like, oh, just believe in yourself and it’ll happen.
My thing is always, what’s the process for that? How do I believe in myself? I come from a background where that wasn’t a thing. It was never shown to me. It was never demonstrated. It was never available. And so I had to discover for myself what belief in myself looks like. And if anyone’s ever read any self help, that’s about where they start.
And so the feedback I’ve had that it’s, it’s fairly gentle, but it’s also inspiring and useful, like it’s practical. It doesn’t just give you those sort of tropey trite, tropey tropes, it kind of goes A, B, C, D, here’s some steps to follow, and that’s what I really wanted to offer.
There’s funny stories. There’s some stuff to make you think, like I wrote a poem about rice and privilege. And you wouldn’t think those two things go together, but I was in Bali on a holiday, looking at this hill that my driver told me had been cut by hand by families for generations. And I was like, wow, I’m from a life that just has no concept of what that looks, feels, nothing. I cannot relate to that in any way. And the privilege of that was really really quite something mm-hmm . Yeah. So there’s that kind of stuff there. So yeah, hopefully it’s interesting to read. So that’s Words of Bek, BEK.com for you to find it, or on Amazon or Smashwords as we’ve talked about.
So. Love some more reviews. Reviews. Authors love reviews, so always plug the reviews. But yeah, so, I’ve a couple others out the Morgan, which is sort of translating my life story into a fable that incorporates the, and that was last year’s. And so I’m trying to do one a year external to my own writing, cuz it just, I like it. Keeps my name out there. It challenges me in different ways and different topics. So this year is The Power to Rise, and it’s stories of women who’ve had significant trauma and, traumatic events in their lives and how they’ve overcome and gone on to live amazing lives. Which I have, and these other women have to. Actually helping doing the formatting at the moment, and my God, some of these stories are just, they’re hard to read, but by the end of it, it’s sharing, because they’ve made it. And so we really want that to be something that’s incredibly inspirational, particularly for young people out there, to kind of know that there’s always better and you just have to keep going until you find it. So that’s kind of the idea of Power to Rise. That’s coming out. Oh, September, I think. We’re aiming for September, cause I’ve got a writers festival I’m attending. So that will be, yeah, that’ll be this year’s release.
Jo: And so how can people find you? So they can find your books and that on Amazon, but your website?
Becky: So wordsofbek.com.au. So that’s wordsofbek.com.au. I’m facebook.com/planetbekstar bekstar, cuz I thought that was the next best thing to have a planet named after me. And on Instagram, hashtag atwordswithbek. You’ll find me around those places. If you Google me, I’ve been on some magazine covers. And yeah, there’s a few things out there. You’ll find me on Google and follow the crumbs to the rabbit hole, and you’ll come across my website and plenty of information there about me and how to contact me for podcast, public speaking, publishing, printing, or project management, cause I cover all the P’s apparently.
Jo: Oh, that’s awesome. Well, thank you so much, Becky. I really appreciate you being here and yeah, it’s given me a lot to think about when it comes to ego, cuz I hadn’t thought about it in the terms that you’ve talked about it today. So that’s really, really cool. I appreciate that.
Becky: Great. No, thank you for the opportunity. As I said, it’s something I find fascinating. So I hope others out there do, and it’s given them a different way, and some tools to use in their writing journey towards being professional, well paid, published author. So thank you for having me. It’s been great talking.
Jo: So here are some takeaways from today’s show.
1. Treat your authorship as a business, particularly, if you want to make an income from it. Be professional and invest money into it like you would any other business.
2. Be aware of people stroking your ego when it comes to your writing. Do your research and check out Writer Beware before committing to any publishing contracts.
3. Your ego is not always your enemy. It can also be the thing that sets you on your writing path and gets your book written. Use it to your advantage.
4. Don’t subscribe to the mindset of scarcity. Stay in your lane. There are plenty of readers out there.
5. Don’t let your ego hold you back from writing your story because it’s not perfect first time around. Kick that imposter syndrome to the curb.
6. If you’re offered a contract from a publisher, always read the fine print.
7. Make friends with your ego. Treat it as a character in a book and learn its motivations.
8. Don’t take your writing life too seriously. Make sure you enjoy it.
So I hope you enjoyed today’s episode, and like me, are now thinking a little differently about the impact of our ego on our author life.
So if you enjoyed this episode, make sure to subscribe, rate and review. And just like Becky said, authors love reviews. And so do podcasters.
And if you haven’t already, make sure to sign up to my Alchemy for Authors newsletter. In doing so I’ll send you a free PDF of tips and tricks to supercharge your author life, using the law of attraction. And you’ll find the link in the show notes.
So I hope you have a wonderful and productive week ahead. And until next time, happy writing.