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Ageing in harmony: why the third act of life should be musical
June 1, 2016 1.09am EDT

My 93-year old grandmother playing the piano with her great-granddaughter

This article first appeared in THE CONVERSATION on June 1, 2016.
It’s never too late to pick up a musical instrument. In fact there are many reasons why it’s a great idea, particularly in old age.

We normally hear about reasons to increase music education for children, and for good cause. There are many cognitive and social benefits to playing an instrument that aid a child’s development. Consequently, as an older adult, there are long-term effects of having taken part in these musical activities, as it can limit cognitive decline.

Even a small amount of training can have long lasting effects. But this doesn’t mean that those who have never played an instrument in childhood have missed the boat. The ageing brain is plastic: that means it is able to learn new things all the time. So, should we consider an increase in music programs for those in the third age?

Playing music as a workout for the brain

Learning to play a musical instrument is an extremely complex task that involves the coordination of multiple sensory systems within the brain. Many instruments require precise coordination between the eyes, the ears and the hands in order to play a musical note. Using the resulting sound as feedback, the brain prepares for the next note and so it continues. The act of music-making is quite a brain workout.

The relationship between the motor and auditory parts of the brain is strengthened when physically playing music. This may explain why adults trained to play certain melodies have an enhanced representation of music in the brain compared to adults only trained to listen to the same melodies.

As playing music involves many different parts of the brain, even a short-term program for older adult musical novices can lead to generalised improvements for cognitive ability.

Music as a workout for the fingers

Learning to play an instrument such as the piano involves many complex finger sequencing and coordination tasks. As such, it can be a great test-bed for learning to move fingers independently.

The creativity of music and the enjoyment people take in playing is particularly important for rehabilitation, as it encourages sustained practice leading ultimately to higher benefits.

guitar

It’s thanks to this that piano lessons have been used to successfully retrain hand function for patients who have had a stroke. The immediate auditory feedback from each finger movement is thought to help adults reduce errors in movement and work towards moving at a more regular pace.

Music training is an excellent environment to train cognitive and motor abilities, both in the contexts of child development and for rehabilitation. The question for older adults is this: can learning a musical instrument not only put the brakes on cognitive and motor decline, but actually allow development of new skills?

Older adults can improve their motor learning – that is, they can improve their rate of learning new things – and the best environments for brain training are ones that are novel and flexible.

Of course many activities can be novel such as juggling or knitting, but the advantages of learning an instrument can be found in the breadth of skills required to play. At Western Sydney University, we are currently investigating how piano training can be used with healthy older adults to improve their general hand function in unrelated daily tasks.

Music for health and wellbeing

Often, the worry is that playing an instrument will be too difficult for older adults to manage. On the contrary, learning to play an instrument can provide a great sense of achievement and satisfaction.

Older adults relish the opportunity to learn something new. Cogntive benefits aside, music can also be a great social activity for older adults, facilitating social bonding and decreasing feelings of loneliness or isolation.

Music programs are linked to improvements measured in markers of the body’s immune system such as the presence of antibodies and vital signs (heart rate/blood pressure).

It’s suggested that this is a consequence of decreases in stress that can happen when taking part in musical activities. However, further research is needed to determine exactly how this relationship functions.

Music for all

It’s vital to understand how we can aid the current generation of older adults, in terms of both health and personal enjoyment. With the myriad benefits provided by playing a musical instrument, it would seem beneficial to have a wider variety of musical activities on offer to the older generation.

Wouldn’t it be great if the third age wasn’t viewed as a final descent from some mid-life peak, but some new act of life that opens up these opportunities? Perhaps we should give older adults the chance to develop in ways they could never have imagined before.

Activities such as singing in a choir, or playing the piano can provide this opportunity, as well as offering many general benefits to health and wellbeing.

So whether it’s in independent living, retirement or assisted care, let’s make the third act of life a musical one!

 

 

Jennifer MacRitchie
Research Lecturer in Music Perception and Cognition, Western Sydney University.

KINDNESS CHALLENGE

kindness

In a year where there seems to be a dearth of kindness in the national consciousness and I have struggled not to fall into the fray, I came upon this challenge and have decided it was just the thing I needed.  Perhaps it might be something you might be interested in also.

Reblogged from:

The Richness of a Simple Life
Loving life one post at a time

KINDNESS CHALLENGE

Details & Sign Up

Sign up here for the 2016 Kindness Challenge. The challenge starts May 9, 2016.

 

Details are as follows-

Mark your calendar for the May 9th start date.

Kindness Challenge:

Focus on kindness for 7 weeks following the guide below. At the end of each week, incorporate a post on your blog with your thoughts on the week’s kindness focus. Use photos, a poem, a journal entry, a video, write a song, whatever you feel comfortable using to express your reflection of the week. Not a blogger? No worries! Use your social media accounts to spread the kindness!

Each week I’ll provide the prompts below to help you remember what to focus on for the week and post about at the end. Pingback to the prompt post of the week so that others can find your reflections of each week. We’ll use the tag “RevofKindness” or #RevofKindness to get more exposure and integrate this kindness revolution outside of the blogosphere. Feel free to save the badge at the end of this post to display on your page or use for each post.

KindnessChallenge

RevofKindness
Save this badge to display on your blog, wall or post to show you are participating! Want to take it a step further? Link back to this page!
It’s never too late to sign up or start the challenge. I do encourage you to start from week 1 even if you start after the challenge has begun because of the way the challenge progresses.

I can’t wait to go on this journey with you! Sign up by commenting in the comments section below!

-Niki

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A little late for Earth Day and little early for Arbor Day but Still Worth Reading TODAY:

JOYFUL2BEEBLOGS
Stories about life; past, and present
Posted on April 22, 2016 by Joyful2bee
This is a reprint of one of my favorite blogs. It explains why Trees are one of my Simple Pleasures

People And Trees

joy1

I am, and have been for a long time a “tree hugger.”

Being a teenager in the 60s, I was a “flower child” of sorts. I loved living things and nature. I have always had a special bond with trees.

Trees are a life form I love and respect. These sentinels of nature have “seen” history in the making, provided lumber for building the boats that made history, homes that housed historical people and events for centuries. Trees hold the records of the effects of climate changes recorded in their rings.

Trees have seedlings, which often grow in the shade of their “parent tree.” If the seeds land too close to the parent tree, they may not grow at all or may grow up spindly and tall. Their height increases to reach as quickly as possible to reach the sun’s light to help compensate for the lack of nutrients in the soil when there are other plants growing nearby.

Some of the little ones survive but few ever achieve the size or health of their parents if they are rooted at their parents’ “feet.” (Interesting analogy, huh!) Just like children pampered and sheltered too often from the storms of life who grow up weak and dependent.

Some seeds who are blown by the wind further from their genetic donors, survive better. They are toughened by the hardships they encounter: drought, erosion, pests, weeds, weather.

All kids end up in stressful situations financially or emotionally. If they have established roots firmly in their own personality, received the sunshine of good friends, the nourishment of education or training and periodic support, emotional or otherwise, from their parents, they grow to mature, productive adults. They have developed their own lives, apart from their parent “trees”, independent from them.

I have seen two trees growing from the same trunk and roots. I think of married couples or soul mates when I see these. Their lives are joined but have two separate lives, talents, interests or jobs, but they go through everything together drawing from the roots of their relationship for strength.

joy2

Some trees have lost large limbs or become gnarled and twisted by some act of nature or man. As people face the storms of life, war, aging, pain, and loss they too may become gnarled and twisted or lose limbs just like the trees.

Trees, like people, having missed out on some part of their basic needs, or been injured, diseased or unhealthy have the appearance of a physically stressed tree. Some people who have suffered much also show their hardships in their bodies or on their faces.

Some trees have full “heads” of leaves with a beautiful skeleton of branches, these trees have weathered the same storms just like other trees but something gives them the strength they need to flourish and survive. Some people are like these trees and make the best of bad situations. Growing from the circumstances they encounter instead of internalizing their environment.

Occasionally a huge oak or other full-grown tree is uprooted by the winds of a tornado or storm. You may have seen the bottom of a tree exposed but half of the roots still connected to the soil. The tree that has lost the root system will die.

Other trees get blown over and rest on the limbs or trunks of another tree, their roots still barely connected to the earth. These trees continue to put out green leaves, still clinging to life, while supported by their neighbors.

Interestingly there are people who, even though their lives have been torn apart by pain, bad decisions or someone else, bounce back with time and keep on living and growing, supported by the love of their family or community, yet living on their own root system.

They seem to gain from the bad experiences and go on with their lives, wiser and stronger. Then there are those who can’t ever getback up to their previous level of health or happiness and need the continuing support of their family, being unable to contribute or not having anything they can contribute to those around them. Some of these people have been so traumatized that they lack the skills to survive on their own.

Trees go through the different seasons. We start out as seedlings in the spring or beginnings of our lives, like seeds growing their roots, we develop the “roots” of basic survival skills like walking and talking. In the summer we begin to experience more of life as we go to school, get married, and live life as adults.

joy3
Then fall begins and we may experience a slowing in the pace of our lives. We retire, enjoy the fruits of our labors hopefully. As the trees’ sap retreats from their tops causing the leaves to turn, likewise as we grow older, our blood flow diminishes and we start to show the aging process with greying hair and wrinkles.

JOY6

Golden fall trees in the backyard of my old home..
Last is winter, when the trees “hibernate” storing their nutrients for next spring, looking bare and dead but still very much alive. We also enter a winter in our lives. We hopefully, will have “very much alive”active minds, even though our bodies may grow older and more frail. We will prepare ourselves for the new life that will come when we pass on.

JOY5

 

In the winter of their lives some elderly people seem to not be present in the here and now, suffering some form of dementia, but I wondered at where their minds may be when they sit quietly and stare. I want to believe they are reliving or remembering things from their lives. Who knows?

We, like trees and every other living thing, have our own cycle of life. It is good to love and live and see and smell and taste and walk and move. We all need to remember how fortunate we are while we are able to enjoy life and go out and look for the beauty and lessons to be learned by our neighbors in nature. One last thing: Go hug a tree and look up into its branches and feel a sense of wonder and kinship.

joy4

 

 

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Myths of the Mirror

MYTHSOFTHEMIRROR.COM
Life is make believe, fantasy given form
FEBRUARY 2, 2016
16 Reasons to Read your Words Aloud.

IMAGE 1

Most writers have learned the importance of reading their words aloud. It’s advice I heeded early on and am happy to pass along.

Writing works on myriad levels. On one level, it’s the mechanical delivery of a story, the typing of words according to rules. It’s fingers on keyboards, reams of paper and editing drafts. Beneath the surface, writing is meaning-making through narrative, tapping universal themes and archetypes that existed before man first etched his carvings into cave walls.

As an art form, writing has the ability to transport a reader into another world. We paint with words on the mind’s canvas, compose the music of language, stir smells, tastes, and tactile impressions. The goal is emotional immersion, being present in the experience.

I have an irksome sensitivity to the sounds of words, the rhythm of phrases and sentences. When I search for the right word, it’s not just the meaning I’m chasing. I’m looking for the right number of syllables, the sharpness or softness of the consonants. As I nestle a word into a sentence, I listen for the subtlety of alliteration, a rhythm in the flow of the words that form phrases, phrases into paragraphs.

A story has a natural cadence that arises from sentence structure, word choice, and the balance of narrative, dialog, and exposition. By reading our stories aloud, we’re able to experience that cadence the way our readers do. As part of an editing process, hearing the sounds of our words polishes our work. It’s a positive step not only for individual careers but for the indie community as a whole.

IMAGE 2

Why it works:

Our wondrous human brains expertly and unconsciously correct and smooth over our mistakes.
On top of that, we are familiar with our work – we’ve written it, edited it, read it, and lived it. We no longer need to read each word it to read the sentences.
Reading aloud forces our brains to focus. The goal is to go slow, read each word, and hear the writing “fresh.”
Reading aloud is one of the most powerful proofreading techniques around, and reading from a printed copy is even better. It further tricks the brain by changing up the visual (as well as providing room for notes).

So what are all these amazing benefits?

1) Typos, missing and misplaced words: Since our brains automatically correct our mistakes, these small errors can be hard to see. Note that if you find yourself verbally stumbling or reading a sentence twice, there is probably something tripping you up.

2) Punctuation: Like typos, these errors are easier to catch (especially if you read a printed copy).

3) Repeat words: (Example) The drizzle descended with the clouds. They waited inside the shelter for the drizzle to cease.

4) Repeat gestures: Everyone’s nodding, smiling, or raising an eyebrow.

5) Repeated rhythms in sentence structure: (Example) Biting her nails, she strode to the window. Glancing outside, she saw the carriage approach.

6) Starting sentences the same way: (Example) He fell asleep to the music. He dreamed of her swollen face and the blood in her hair. He reached for her wrist, and he felt no pulse.

7) Stacked prepositional phrases: (Example) He stood in the garage under the fan by the car in his underwear.

8) Repeated information: Telling the reader twice that the character shut the door or was surprised by the phone call.

9) Information that needs to be reordered: The character reacts to the gunshot before the reader hears it. (Much better the other way around.)

10) Missing information: The character trips over the cat in the bedroom when last the reader knew he was eating ice cream on the living room couch.

11) Overly long and run-on sentences: Look for sentences that are difficult to read in a single breath or that lose their coherence. (Example) Sam galloped to the steps, leapt three at a time, and landed on the mat, but nothing prepared him for the ice that had formed unexpectedly overnight despite the forecast for fair weather, and he fell flat on his back.

12) Inconsistencies: A character wears a green shirt, and a few pages later, the shirt is blue. Or you’ve indicated that the character can’t see because it’s pitch dark, yet you’ve described the room.

13) Dialog: People generally talk with a natural rhythm of sounds and pauses (or not for some characters). When read aloud, stilted language will sound unnatural and tongue twisters will interrupt the flow. Anything that requires a pause for a second read is worth a revision.

14) Transitions: Transitions from one topic or scene to another may happen too abruptly and need smoothing out.

15) Pacing: Reading aloud is particularly helpful in identifying sequences that are racing by too quickly, slogging along, or wallowing in backstory.

16) Tone: Does the tone sound right? Too formal or casual? A book has an overall tone as does each scene and character.

 

 

 

 

 

WORTH READING – CREATIVITY AND AGE

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Still the Lucky Few Reflections on Life as a Senior

Creativity And Age—Some Startling Truths
Posted on March 27, 2016 by Still the Lucky Few
When I was younger, I delighted in the work of Grandma Moses. Imagine, I marveled, starting painting in your 70s!
Now, I just shrug, so what? She had a busy life. She was a live-in housekeeper, a wife, a mother of five, and a farmer. Although she painted throughout her life, she couldn’t take it seriously until she was in her mid-70s, and able to take time off from earning a living.
But compared to other older people, who suddenly emerge out of nowhere, to thrill and impress us with achievements at an advanced age, she was a youngster.

Here are a few older people who made it to notoriety:

Lorna Page wrote her first novel, A Dangerous Weakness, at age 93
Frank Lloyd Wright completed the design of the Guggenheim Museum in New York at and 92,
Millard Kaufman wrote his first novel, the hit book Bowl of Cherries, at age 90.
Harry Smith wrote his ground breaking book, Harry’s Last Stand, at 91
Giuseppe Verdi wrote Falstaff, perhaps his most acclaimed opera, at the age of 85.
Thomas Hardy published a book of lyric poetry at age 85
Jane Goodall, an environmental activist, travels 300 days a year at 82, bringing her message to the world.
My husband, Bob LeBlanc, writes and produces original Broadway Variety Shows, playing piano non-stop for 90 minutes, at the age of 81.
Fueled by the aging of the baby boomer generation, there has been an explosion of interest in older adults recently—their physical prowess, their well-being, their achievements, their creativity. Research of this demographic reveals that creativity is not the dominion of only the young and physically vigorous. Older adults have access to an increasing store of knowledge gained over a lifetime of learning and experience. This knowledge, researchers are discovering, provides fertile ground for creativity in the aging brain.

It’s not only about life experience

But the story does not end there. Recent studies of the creative process have revealed that some innovators produce their greatest work late in life for reasons that go beyond their accumulated life experience.

In 2010, David Galenson, an economist and researcher at the University of Chicago, made a decision to study a source of technological change that drives economic growth—creative people. He made some startling discoveries about these creative individuals, with dramatic implications for the field of ageism.
He says,

” Recent research has shown that all the arts have had important practitioners of two different types—conceptual innovators who make their greatest contributions early in their careers, and experimental innovators who produce their greatest work later in their lives. This contradicts a persistent but mistaken belief that artistic creativity has been dominated by the young. It may be damaging for economic growth to continue to assume that innovations in science are made only by the young.”

Shelley H. Carson, Lecturer at Harvard University, (Department of Psychology) has studied creativity and the aging brain. She concludes:

“These changes in the aging brain may make it ideally suited to accomplish work in a number of creative domains. So instead of promoting retirement at age 65, perhaps we as a society should be promoting transition at age 65: transition into a creative field where our growing resource of individuals with aging brains can preserve their wisdom in culturally-valued works of art, music, or writing.”

Combining bits of knowledge into novel and original ideas is what the creative process is all about. Elders have both: knowledge and the capacity for original thought. Who knows what can happen next? The sky is the limit, it appears.

“Aging is not lost youth but a new stage of opportunity and strength.”  Betty Friedan

 

 

 

TAKING A VACATION

st. maaarten

This will be my inspiration for writing  during the next two weeks.  I will be resting, and ruminating, and meditating, and writing, and walking, and talking to Dom, and doing all things guaranteed to fill up my creativity tank.  BUT I won’t be blogging.  I will miss you my dears and will schedule the Senior Salon so that you can continue to stay in touch with each other.

See you soon,

Bernadette

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Still the Lucky Few Reflections on Life as a Senior

Ageist Language—Taking the “Sting” Out of It
Posted on February 21, 2016 by Still the Lucky Few
By now, anyone over 50 must know there is a movement afoot to end ageist attitudes. We’ve been reading and hearing about this for awhile. It’s reached a point where we recognize the term, and understand some of it’s consequences. Maybe we’re ready now to move beyond discussing and intellectualizing it, to think about the actual language that expresses it.

It’s not easy. What is it about certain statements that anger and inflame us? What’s so wrong about saying, “You look so young for your age?”
Well, lots, it appears. That simple statement carries with it the implication that it is wrong to look a certain age—or old, in other words. And being old, in our culture means being unattractive, weak and dependent. Erasing that stereotype is what the anti-ageist movement is all about.

Ageism is ingrained in our culture. We can’t change it on our own, but we can examine how we react to its language, and what we can do about it in our own lives.

Here is a start:

The statements below (in bold) are seen and heard frequently in the press, in social interaction, and online. They seem innocuous, sometimes complimentary. Most people who say them don’t mean to annoy or provoke us. But they do unsettle us. And when we see or hear them, we’d like to know how to respond.

Below each statement is a suggestion about how to re-phrase it in more acceptable language—you can say this to yourself to clarify the meaning, or to the person who said it. This is the “Emily Post” approach. Below that is a rebuttal, something you can say to make the point that you don’t like what they have just said. It’s more confrontational—a sort of “in your face” approach.

Statement: “She doesn’t look that old.”
Re-phrase it, “She looks healthy, or she looks well, or she looks beautiful, wonderful, etc.”
Rebuttal “How do you expect her to look, at her age?”

Statement: “You look so young! What’s your secret?”
Re-phrase it: “You look great! You’re really looking well.”
Rebuttal: I don’t have a secret. This is how I look.

Statement: “I don’t feel old enough to be a senior.”
Re-phrase it: “I’m not ready to be considered a Senior”
or “I’m not comfortable with being a Senior.”
Rebuttal: “How should a senior feel?”

Statement: Sixty is the new forty!
This is a silly statement. There is no way to re-phrase it.
Rebuttal: “Science would dispute that. No one who is 60 looks, or feels like they did at 40.”

Statement: You’re not getting older, you’re getting better!
Another silly statement with no way to re-phrase it.
Rebuttal: I am getting better, but I’m also getting older, and that’s fine with me.

Statement: This (skin cream, appliance, etc.) will make you look younger!
Re-phrase it: “This will make you look healthier, more vital, more beautiful.”
Rebuttal: As opposed to the way I look now?

Statement: He is a good (speaker, cyclist, swimmer, etc.) for his age
Re-phrase: He is good at what he does.
Rebuttal: “Do you mean that he shouldn’t be good at that age?”

Statement: “She’s 65, but she can easily pass for 39”.
Another silly statement, impossible to say in a different way.
Rebuttal: “She’s had some good plastic surgery done.”

Statement: “She is 95 years young”.
Re-phrase: She is 95 years old.
Rebuttal: “Do you mean to say you admire her vitality?”

Statement: “She is a woman of a “certain age”
Re-phrase it: “You mean she is 50? or 60? or 70?”
Rebuttal: Can you be more specific?”

Statement: “She is such a little old dear” or “She is such a sweet old lady”
Re-phrase it: “She is such a fine, nice, or kind person.”
Rebuttal: “You mean she is such a fine person?”

You get the idea. This is not an exact science. But by taking every ageist statement and switching it around to state the obvious fact, you might be taking the “sting” out of it. Whether or not people clue in to what you are trying to do is not important. You are not trying to change the world—you are just trying to make your own little corner a bit more palatable.

 

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Take It Easy
RETIRED, NOT EXPIRED: WORDS FROM THE AFTER(WORK)LIFE – WITH OCCASIONAL MUSIC
time to change

I have told you before about my pledge to the Time To Change initiative, and why I have done this. At the risk of repeating myself, I began blogging to share my experience of depression, in the hope that it would help others. If you want to know more about this please click on About Me or My Story in the menu bar at the top of the site. If you go anywhere near Facebook or Twitter today I hope you see the hashtag #timetotalk, as today is Time To Talk Day – here in the UK, at least. It is also World Cancer Day, but I’ll leave it to others who are far better qualified than I to talk about that.

The designation Time To Talk Day has been started by the Time To Change people, the idea being that as many people as possible make the effort to spend 5 minutes talking about mental health, either directly with someone who may be in need of support or just needs to understand better what this can mean to people, or by other means. This is my way: by sharing some links and information with you I hope it will encourage to you to become better informed about mental health issues. And while you’re doing so, why not sign up to the Pledge Wall?

Time To Change have produced a couple of short videos to show how easy it can be to start a conversation, and how it can be appreciated. For those who are suffering with any kind of mental illness a simple question about how they are feeling can mean so much, so please make the effort if there is anyone you know who may not be feeling their best. Take a look at the videos, this link leads you to both:

https://www.youtube.com/user/ttcnow2008

As well as, hopefully, opening a conversation here I have also applied for the #timetotalk pack, and have shared the leaflets, coasters etc. with friends, neighbours and at my GP practice. If only one of these leads to someone being helped, my work is done!

I hope you can find 5 minutes today to talk about mental health – however you do it is fine. And I hope you’ll follow the links I’ve given you to find out more: the Time To Change site is packed with useful tips on how to start a conversation in a variety of contexts and also provides a link for anyone who may need to seek help and is afraid to make the first step towards that. For those of you in North America, for whom this may not seem so relevant, you have the Stand Up campaign, which you can access either by clicking on the logo at the top right corner of this site or by clicking here. It is also a very good resource for anyone needing help or advice.

 

 

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This is the second part of D. Wallace Peach’s good advice for writer’s on publishing.

Myths of the Mirror
Life is make believe, fantasy given form
JANUARY 19, 2016
Goodbye Traditional, Hello Indie (Part II)

PRINTING 2

Part I of this blog summary focused on my personal experience contracting with a small press. On the whole, it was a valuable learning experience, especially for a new author who knew nothing about anything. My publisher treated me fairly and respectfully, I improved my craft and happily published 6 books. For many authors, this approach may be the perfect publishing route.

Yet, publishing through a small press has significant challenges that are worth considering. As I gained knowledge and skills, it became clear to me that the obstacles outpaced the advantages. In 2015, I experimented and self-published 2 books. The results drove home the stark differences in the two approaches.

In December, I decided to go all indie. I began the process of canceling contracts with my publisher and reclaiming my books with the intention of republishing them myself.

Below, I explain my reasons.

So what were my small press challenges?

Control

This is one of those “know thyself” suggestions.

I like control when it comes to my writing. Going with a publisher means sharing control, and quite often, having no control. There is a good chance that you will have minimal control over timing, cost, promotional discounts, and post-publication changes and corrections.

Timing

When contracting with a publisher, you are one of many authors. The publisher is juggling priorities and trying to keep a lot of clients happy. They want to get books out there, but they can’t get everyone’s book done next Saturday. A small press is “small” and the employees are probably wearing multiple hats.

Manuscripts come in and land at the bottom of the pile. Slowly they cycle their way to the top. Even a pristine manuscript has to go through all the steps, and I had to wait my turn like everyone else. Realistically, it took 9 months to a year to get a book to the public from the time I submitted the manuscript. I did have to follow up routinely to keep the process moving.

When self-publishing, a manuscript still needs other eyes, but the time frames are much shorter because you’re not cycling and recycling through the “pile.” Time frames can be very short if an author is willing to use critique groups, enlist alpha and beta readers, and do some serious editing and proofing work up front.

Costs

There is one big disadvantage in the do-it-yourself road – you can’t actually do it yourself. You need other eyes on your work and there’s often a cost. When indie-publishing, the purchase of services comes out of the author’s pocket. This includes editing, proofing, and cover design.

Most indie authors seem to have identified reasonably priced and capable resources within the indie community. Swapping services with experienced peers is an inexpensive way to get this work done, but requires a significant time commitment. Mom and your BFF are usually not qualified to provide these services.

I can’t stress how important editing and proofing is to the reader, the indie community, and the author. A poorly polished book can ruin a fantastic story and discourage a reader from picking up another book by the author. If you haven’t the money or time, pursue a publisher who will handle these important steps for you.

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Royalties

When going through a publisher, be aware that the author’s revenue is a percentage of the publisher’s profit, not a percentage of retail. This means low earnings per book and download. The publisher is entitled to their cut – they’ve invested upfront time and resources into the book.

For me, royalties came to about $.65 per book whether ebook or paperback. Now, even though I sell my indie books at a lower price than my small press books, my indie income is higher because I don’t have to share the profit.

In one month, my 2 self-published books earn what I make in a whole year with my other 6 traditionally-published books combined.

Yes, you read that right. If you didn’t, read it again. Can I pay the mortgage? Not even close. But the difference floored me.

Now, it’s a little more complicated than that, because it’s not an apples-to-apples comparison. Which leads me to marketing and promotion…

Marketing and Promotion

I didn’t start writing to get rich. Of course, making money at something I love to do is nothing to scoff at, but what I really wanted was readership. Increasing readership usually requires advertising and promotion. Advertising and promotion requires money. So there you go; they’re connected.

Big publishing houses have marketing departments! Small presses don’t.

When publishing with a small press, 99% of marketing will fall to the author. Marketing and promotion without any ability to control pricing is a long, frustrating, expensive uphill battle.

Higher prices will discourage many readers from taking a risk on a new or unestablished author.
Higher prices and lower per-book royalties mean that advertising is often at a loss. I never recouped my advertising costs, not once.
I had no ability to offer discounts or free days to sell more books and increase readership.
With my indie books, I control pricing. This has a huge impact on marketing and promotion.

I sell my indie books at a lower cost which invites more sales.
My per-book royalty is higher than it is with a small press.
The higher profit allows me to advertise more effectively – I have to sell far fewer books to break even and can actually turn a profit.
The profit goes into more advertising which brings more readers and generates more profit which pays for more advertising, etc. Around it goes.
I can offer discounts and free days to increase readership and propel sales.
Updating

When a small press publishes a book, they are finished with it and on to their next project. They make no money going back to fix those typos that everyone missed. They don’t care if you want to make a change to a scene in chapter 7. They aren’t the anxious, obsessed, perfectionist author. They run a business.

Typos drive me nuts. My small press books sit there with their handful of typos, and I stew. The name of one of my characters was misspelled on the back cover and it took a year for the publisher to correct the mistake. The name is still misspelled in the Amazon blurb, 3 years later.

If my indie-published book needs a correction, I fix it, and four hours later, it’s live!

The same challenge applies to book covers. Covers are reader eye-candy. Covers sell books. A book may benefit from an update of an older cover or a completely new cover. Just like going back and making text changes, publishers aren’t eager to update covers. As I take back my books they’ll get snazzy covers reflecting my brand.

Why am I going indie?

Publishing through a small press was a great way for me to start my author’s journey. Since then, I’ve gathered the experience and resources to take greater responsibility for my writing career. Indie-publishing gives me control over timing, pricing, promotion, and updates. I’ve published books both ways now, and it’s clear to me that I’m better served by traveling the indie-publishing path.

I’ll continue to provide little updates on the process as I navigate the publishing switch. When I’m done, I’ll let everyone know the results 🙂

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Goodbye Traditional, Hello Indie (Part I)

 

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Myths
Books by D. Wallace Peach
Myths of the Mirror
The Melding of Aeris
Sunwielder
The Bone Wall
The Sorcerer’s Garden
Dragon Soul Trilogy
The Bone Wall

 

 

WORTH READING

SHARING INFORMATION

You should definitely take advantage of this opportunity to get this book free. Stevie writes a very entertaining tale.  You won’t regret spending the time with her characters.

THE PILATES CLASS
Free!
by Stevie Turner
Just to let you know that my humorous novella ‘The Pilates Class‘ will be free on Amazon from February 8th – 12th 2016 to help take away those winter blues…..

PILATES CLASS

 

It focuses on the lives and loves of several different characters attending a Pilates exercise class for the first time. Roger is a down-to-earth builder type, Judy is the harassed single mother of four teenage boys, and Thelma is a librarian who usually looks as though she’s been sitting on a wasps’ nest for most of her life. Neville is on the lookout for a woman (any woman will do), and Julian just wants to be young again. Edie is the wrong side of 70, and Roz is a size zero fitness queen.

These characters, together with one very overweight Alice, all meet up for the first time at their local Pilates class. Petra, the class instructor, has no idea what she has let herself in for!

Go on…have a laugh. You know you want to!
https://steviet3.wordpress.com/2016/01/19/free/