In episode 5, Melissa and Jeni talk to author Katie Golding about positivity passes.
Listen to the audio podcast here: EPISODE 5 - Positivity Passes
Welcome to the Indie Chicks show! We are Melissa Koberlein, an author and professor of publishing and Jeni Chappelle, a freelance novel editor.
Indie Chicks celebrates and supports independent women in publishing. We’re a place for writers at all stages of the publishing process. So, whether you’re on the traditional route to publication or self-publishing, you’ve come to the right place for advice.
On this episode:
We’re talking about positivity passes
End with an author tip of the week
This week we’re joined by Katie Golding. Katie is a sports fan with a writing problem. Based in Austin, TX, the recovering cheerleader publishes contemporary romance novels with the support of her loving husband and son, and frequently can be found tweeting about tacos and typos. She is currently at work on her next romance novel, the first book in her Moto Grand Prix Series, FEARLESS, coming July 28, 2020 by Sourcebooks Casablanca.
Here's the Q&A:
Could you talk a little bit about how the positivity pass came into existence?
Sure thing! So I actually did this for a friend of mine first. She’s a longtime CP and a very talented writer, and she had a book that she was working on with other CPs at the same time. They were giving great feedback, and I knew that she would implement it and do her own revisions, and then edits for her agent and so on. It’s such a long process, writing and revising and querying and publishing, and considering revisions aren’t her particular favorite thing, she was getting a bit burned out. So while I wanted to lend my support, I didn’t really want to pile on. I really believe in her and her writing, and I trusted her to do the work. She always does. But instead of just saying “Oh you don’t need my help, you’re covered,” I wanted to lend my support in another way. Mostly, I wanted to help her to reconnect with the excitement that got her drafting in the first place. To re-find that spark. So I started thinking about what got us started in the beginning. We both come from a fanfiction background, and I don’t know if you’ve ever had the blessing of getting spammed gushy reviews by fanfic readers, but it is awesome. Makes you feel like you can do anything, write anything. They make you feel like a legend, and I just have so much love for them. So I decided I would be that kind of cheerleader for my friend, and I told her “I know you know there’s things that will need to be fixed, but you’re already getting that information, so I’m just going to tell you what works and what I loved.” The result was remarkable; I had a blast just focusing on the positive for her, she loved receiving it, and it helped her power through revisions. She provided a posspass for me in return, and I felt so great afterward that I just had to write a blog post on it and share the idea. I can’t believe how much it’s caught on, and I love the idea that so many people are feeling confident and inspired by their work. I’m a big believer in paying things forward, and this couldn’t have gone any better, as far as I’m concerned.
What are the benefits of a positivity pass? Did you receive one for Fearless, which releases on July 28th?
I think the biggest benefit is just confidence. Getting a positivity pass can actually be a bit a uncomfortable at first - we get so used to hearing “almost, not quite, you can still do better” that getting nothing but praise is suspect. In the back of our head we’re going “Okay but what are they NOT saying???” But the purpose of the posspass isn’t to tell someone they’re perfect. Because we’re not, and out books aren’t. (I’m a Virgo, that is so hard for me to say!) The real purpose behind it is to provide validation, and remind the writer that they’ve developed skills, made growth, have raw natural talent, and their hard work is shining through. Sometimes, I think we forget as writers how much we’ve learned along the way. But we’ve really busted our booties learning things about story arcs and writing realistic dialogue and grammar and wracking our brains for better plotlines. It takes a lot to write a book, and there’s no way that you come out the other end without improving your craft in some way. No one ever ends a book a worse writer than they started. But if we don’t remind people of their growth, they might not realize it because all they’re hearing is how much they still have left to master. Like how I measure my kid every couple months - we have a marker on the wall to track his growth, and it’s incredible to see that gap every time we update it. He wants to be tall like his dad, and he’s getting there. It’s happening daily, right in front of me eyes, but until I stop to measure I don’t see just how much he’s grown. Even more, he doesn’t realize. So seeing his new height reflected on the wall really resonates with him. He feels taller. So pointing out the things people are doing well in their writing hopefully reminds them of how much they’ve already accomplished. As well, in looking for the things that are working in other people’s books makes me look at how I can improve in my own. Maybe find a little forgiveness for myself that the things I like in their work, people will like in mine. I struggle quite a bit with my confidence, and so I have absolutely started seeking out posspasses for myself. I started using them for Fearless, and I can’t imagine going through the publishing process without at least one per book from now on. They keep me going, and something I look forward to while drafting.
What do you think about the opposite? Like a fiction flay?
I think it can be helpful, and it’s absolutely necessary that everyone get shredded at some point. It’s going to happen, in some contest or some rejection or review, and learning to deal with that kind of critique is imperative. We’ve gotta be able to pick ourselves back up, and learn to recognize what’s subjective and what’s not. But seeking out a flay all depends on where the person is in their writing career. I think early on in your first books, it could be dangerous to receive one. The amount you have to learn and implement can be so overwhelming that they could give up. But for a writer that’s trying to reach the next step in their career, I think it’s okay. Like really, tell me what it’s going to take to get an agent, or a contract, or whatever you’re seeking. What is holding me back. Craft is a long term game, there is no finish line, and you can’t learn everything at once. Nobody starts out a perfect writer, and I don’t know how you grow without getting told “To do this better, try this way.” But I worry about someone getting too much feedback that’s just starting out, or on the verge of quitting altogether. It could tip the scales in a negative way. And I hate to think of ever providing the feedback that caused someone to walk away from writing. That is probably one of my worst fears. I really am still such a cheerleader at heart.
What advice do you have for new writers?
Find your people! Get involved in prompt games, swap pages, put yourself and your work out there, and remember it’s not competition, its community. Writing is tough, publishing is harder, and you’re going to need someone to talk to that speaks this language. Who can commiserate with you about the query trenches or revisions, and share book recs and articles and podcasts. The writing community is full of love and support and advice, it’s like a huge extended family, and there is always someone around to lend an ear, or a great banana bread recipe. It can be incredibly scary to share yourself and your work with people, but the secret is: we’re all scared. So come play and be scared with us!
Tip of the week: Bookfunnel.com is a great resource for promotions to gain sales or subscribers to your email list. Check it out! I love it. :)
Thanks for joining us. You can find Katie at twitter @KatieGolding_TX, or subscribe to her newsletter at katiegoldingbooks.com. She is learning attempting to learn Instagram at katiegoldingtx
On our next podcast, we are talking with with Amy Deuchler about narrating an audiobook. She’s currently working on Melissa's book, Raven’s Sphere. We will also have another Tip of the Week. And don’t forget where to find us! Find our podcast at indiechicks.net or follow us on Spotify or subscribe to Indie Chicks on Apple Podcasts. We also have the Indie Chicks channel on YouTube where you can subscribe. You can follow us on Twitter @Indie_Chicks or Facebook.com/TheIndieChicks.
So, remember, we’re all part of a publishing community, be kind and review your fellow authors’ books! Thanks for joining us!
Indie Chicks out.