Insecure Writers Support Group 6 February 2019: Magic is Great, Magical Thinking Not So Much

When I speak of magical thinking in this post, I am not discussing any sort of esoteric belief system, I am discussing a psychological state. As I have mentioned before, I have bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Magical thinking is part of all three of these conditions. However, people with no formal psychiatric diagnosis can also fall prey to magical thinking, and there are unscrupulous individuals out there who will take advantage of this state of mind.
For a long time, I kept the ways I've been taken advantage of a secret because people have an unfortunate tendency to apply words like "stupid" to those who have been duped. I will not tolerate that word being used. People who have been duped are not stupid. Ignorant, perhaps. Desperate, almost certainly. Gullible, yes. But not stupid. 
I will confine my narrative to what transpired with regard to writing for this post.
Many years ago now, back in 2007, I had a book published through Outskirts Press, a POD publisher. This book was written under a pseudonym. I was extremely naive a the time I published said book. I worked very hard on it, and that's pretty much all I thought one had to do. Work hard, and surely you will be rewarded! It sounds wonderful, and it's what I wanted to believe.
I spend a lot of money to get this book published, to have a press release written, to have the book reviewed. I really don't know where any of these reviews were published. I do know that I ended up with a "number one fan," and the actions of this person and another individual whom I came to like and trust because she was interested in similar subjects almost led me to stop writing entirely. 
I now know that the best way to deal with "number one fans" is to assume a polite but cool demeanor. However, my self-esteem was so low and my desire for connection so high that I did absolutely nothing to protect myself.
A few years later, I released a revised version of the book, again through Outskirts Press under a different pseudonym. Again I spent thousands of dollars. Outskirts Press said a lot of flattering things to me. I believe the book sold two copies. Outskirts Press certainly came out the winner of that bargain.
At this point, I trust no-one but my own publishing companies to handle my creative work, be it solo projects or collaborations. I will never again spend thousands of dollars for nothing. 
Unfortunately, these incidents led to my becoming a much more closed-off person than I used to be. I come off as cold, which I'm actually not. What I am is cautious, and I know now that having no friends is better than having fake "friends." 
We are fortunate to live in a time where we don't have to paper our walls with rejection slips from publishing houses. Kindle provides a legitimate space to potentially make money publishing one's own work. I suggest paying exactly zero dollars to POD publishers. I could certainly use the thousands I paid to Outskirts Press over the years.
I recommend adding the Writer Beware blog to your arsenal. It could save you a lot of money and heartache. I wish I'd known about it years ago.



  1. Oh, man, can I relate to your post! Writers are fragile beings who offer up a piece of their soul to an often cruel world. We love validation and sometimes grab at it too eagerly and end up taking some hard emotional and even professional knocks, as you did. Good for you for keeping on keeping on, poorer, perhaps, but wiser. Write on!!

  2. Thank you, Nancy. I appreciate your kind words.
    I think that part of the reason I come off as cold when people don't know me is because I am fragile in reality. I tend to only form superficial relationships to avoid being hurt. We do not live in an easy world.

  3. Sorry about all the lost money. You learned though.
    I am cautious as well. I promised my wife I'd keep our private life private when I started this journey and I've tried to keep my end of the bargain with that.

  4. Writer Beware is an excellent resource for writers. Also, there are so many ways to check things out through groups like IWSG. I hope you can get your work published under your own imprint and leave this unhappy chapter of your life behind you.

  5. If I had had the money at the time, I would have went the POD route, too. It seemed so easy and inviting, and they always made the sales pitch sound amazing. So sorry you got sucked in.

    Self-publishing these days is so much easier and scale-able, and I also recommend it to anyone who thinks they have a book in them. It's a great experience, whether or not you intend to make life out of it.

    IWSG February

  6. Alex, I am a lot less open about my private life than I was when I published these books. They were published in 2007 and 2010. At the time of the 2007 book's publication, I was so desperate to be loved and popular that it wasn't even funny. I was badly bullied in childhood, and this carried over well into adulthood. I learned the hard lesson that most people don't really care, they're just curious.

    Lee, I have been working with a small group of longtime fellow writers. We formed our own publishing "houses" on Kindle, one for erotica and one for the less spicy variety of story. We have published several books under the Naughty Netherworld Press label. They may not be high class literature, but it's been very satisfying!

    C.D., the fact that bipolar disorder tends to cause impulsiveness made it that much worse for me. I have since learned a few techniques for coping with this trait, like doing the one thing that can be very difficult when one is hypomanic--WAITING!
    For all it's faults, Kindle does allow the opportunity to publish one's own work. The promotion part is still tricky, but a blog like this and participating in groups like IWSG helps!

  7. I hear you. Some people and companies appear to be very helpful and nice, they show you their credentials and they seem to be legit -- and after you've paid a boat load of money, they are the only ones to have profited from it. And it's not like you can rewind...
    I agree: you shouldn't have to fork out thousands to get your book published (after the editing and stuff is done).
    If only we could've learned some of this sooner and didn't allow fragile ego to get in the way, huh?

    Ronel visiting for Feb's IWSG Day Being an Insecure Writer -- And Happy About It

  8. Exactly, Ronel! If only my give-a-fuck could have gotten broken years ago, I'd probably be much further along! ;-)


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