How Self-Publishing Saved My Writing Life: Thoughts from #LBF2014

ALLiance of Independent Authors members at The London Book Fair
Some ALLi members at The London Book Fair

What a week!

The London Book Fair ended yesterday and it was, in the words of my old neighbour's daughter, whenever she's seeking her highest praise for an exciting experience, “off the wall mental”.

During the fair, I found myself:

* On Monday 7th: speaking at Digital Minds Conference with the Director of Author & Publisher relations at, Jon Fine, and indie superstar, Hugh Howey, sharing with the publishing trade my reasons for switching from being published by one of the “Big Five” to self-publishing my own work. And why I founded ALLi (The Alliance of Independent Authors). And, I hope, helping them to understand

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Opening Up To Indie Authors: Book Launch

Opening Up To Indie AuthorsCopy of my speech at the Open Up To Indie Authors launch at The London Book Fair

The guidebook we’ve gathered here today to launch is part of The Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi)’s Open Up To Indie Authors campaign (found on Twitter with the hashtag #PublishingOpenUp).

This campaign is aimed at book fairs and conferences, award bodies and libraries, festival and event organisers, retailers and reviewers, and anyone who acts as a bridge between writer and reader — and at self-publishing writers themselves.

Open up to what? To the most exciting and expansive movement in the books business for centuries: author publishing.

Half or more of the books on Amazon’s bestseller lists are now self-published. ALLi has many members who have sold more than 100,000 copies of their books; some who have sold in their millions and many more who are producing work of outstanding literary merit.

Corporate publishers and agents are watching and pouncing on successfully self-published authors, hoping to woo them over.

There is no denying that publishing times are a-changing — but those changes are still not reflected throughout the literary world of libraries, reviews, bookstores, festivals and prizes.

This book, and the associated campaign, hopes to change that.


The Open Up To Indie Authors (#PublishingOpenUp) campaign includes

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What Is F-R-E-E-Writing? A Guide for Creatives and Creativists

three kinds of creative flow practice

It's no coincidence that in my novels both Jo and Norah in After The Rising and Mercy in Blue Mercy write their way to resolution.  This was my way of paying tribute to the power of writing  to heal, transform and liberate.

It’s such a miracle, that through marks on a page we can communicate across vast continents and dead generations.  Like all the everyday miracles, we can take it for granted.

Writing is a uniquely human experience.  Dolphins, birds and other species can communicate but only we can write. It is also the human achievement that (literally) underwrites all the others – without it there would be no mathematics, no science, no philosophy, no history, no cinema.

And, of course, no literature.

Equally miraculous, I believe, is the power writing-to-self has to expand and deepen our creative capacity.

In school, we’re taught how to appreciate literature and how to write to communicate with others but a number of psychologists, scientists, behaviouralists, healers and educators are increasingly interested in the astonishing power of writing when we use it to communicate with ourselves.

My research into this topic this has led me to the technique I call F-R-E-E-Writing, a particular way of writing that maximizes its potential to encourage creative flow.

What Is F-R-E-E-Writing?

The difference between F-R-E-E-Writing as I teach it and other journaling methods you may have encountered is speed and a conscious opening to creative flow.

The f in F-R-E-E-Writing stands for fast (and r is for raw, e is for exact and the second e is for easy.) When F-R-E-E-Writing, we always write as fast as we can.

F-R-E-E-Writing is timed. You set a timer or a page count and when the time is over, or the pages are full, you stop. The stopping is as important as the starting.

Full details in this F-r-e-e Writing Notebook.

If you’ve never done F-R-E-E-Writing before, or if you haven’t done it for some time, or if you’ve done a different “writing-for-self” method, like Julia Cameron’s “morning pages” or Natalie Goldberg’s “writing practice”, begin again.

Try it this way and see how you go.

The most important thing about any form of freewriting is not what method you use but that you just do it.

For f-r-e-e-writing to work its magic, it has to be experienced.

It's about showing up, showing your creative self that it is valued, that you want to hear what it has to say.

The simple addition of speed is enough to change the experience radically for most people.

Don’t content yourself with reading about it. Or tell yourself you did something similar before, so you know all about it.

F-R-E-E-Writing: The Benefits

The benefits of F-R-E-E-Writing are cumulative. They build over time.

Our lives are so noisy and distracted these days. F-R-E-E-Writing is a way to connect with the deeper, more centered and connected, self.

Using this method the aim is to write fast enough, for a set period of time or number of pages, to get beyond our censoring, conscious minds and access subconscious levels.

I’ve introduced this easy writing method to writers and other artists and emerging artists but also to postgraduate students and returners-to-work, to immigrant groups and women recovering from drug addiction.

I’ve witnessed its benefits among people from different countries and at every level of social and personal development, even those with weak literacy skills.  That’s why I can teach the same simple technique, over and over, without ever tiring of it.

The more I teach it, and hear the stories of lives transformed by it, the more my respect for the complex potential of this simple technique grows and deepens.

I’ve come to see f-r-e-e-writing not as a luxury for those with the time to do it but a simple, significant shortcut to physical, emotional, spiritual and creative wellbeing.

A daily brushing of the psyche, that takes a little bit longer – though not much – than a good brushing and flossing of the teeth.

I have come to believe that everybody who can be, should be, F-R-E-E-Writing.

F-r-e-e-writing For Creatives

This is especially true for those who want to consciously create: writers and composers and filmmakers and artists of all kinds; healers, educators, activists and coaches. And also creativists: those who bring the processes of conscious creation to work, money, relationships, every aspect of life.

A Creativist is a person who applies creative principles to the art of living e.g. home, relationships, money, work. Find out more about going creative, in my book A Creativist Compendium.

  1. F-R-E-E-Writing clears.Sometimes, yes, we may be overwrought in our F-r-e-e-Writing. Or whiny or irritable or sad or angry or miserable. Or joyful or elated or carefree or blissed out. Over time, all our emotions will find their way in and we come to see how transient they are.  Allowing all the “negative” emotions, ideas and feelings within us and giving them free vent in our notebooks, siphons them off. This greatly lessens their hold on us.  This is why some people see F-r-e-e-Writing as a form of meditation.
  2. F-R-E-E-Writing liberates. We come to see that it is not the events that happen to us – as individuals or as artists – that count, so much as our inner relationship to those events. Regular F-r-e-e-Writing ensures we become a channel for the deep stuff rather than a mouthpiece for con-mind moans, sound-offs, rants or self-indulgences.  We acquire the distance that is a prerequisite of ease, freedom and flow, the defining qualities of the create-state.  
  3. F-R-E-E-Writing stabilises. Truly allowing all the voices inside diminishes the power of any one (I’m thinking of the inner critic).  Regular and committed use of F-r-e-e-Writing generates a progressive strengthening of the psyche.
  4. F-R-E-E-Writing inspires. As you F-r-e-e-Write, great ideas emerge, seemingly from nowhere.
  5. F-R-E-E-Writing empowers.  F-r-e-e-Writing teaches us to trust our own experience and interpretation of the world, essential to a conscious creator, together with the confidence to express what we truly feel and what we truly want to create.

PLEASE NOTE: You can purchase a F-R-E-E-Writing Notebook with full instructions through my website: F-r-e-e Writing NOTEBOOK.

If you'd like to give ongoing support to my mad, mammoth undertakings (!),  my patrons get early access to extracts of my books as I write them, together with behind-the-scenes insights and patron discounts and gifts. Become a patron here.


Final Launch Roundup

Closing a week of posts about the launch of the Alliance of Independent Authors at London Book Fair, this (long) post offers:

LAUNCH of self-publishing independent authors alliance

  1. A fascinating and lively podcast discussion I took part in on The Naked Book, about self-publishing's place in the industry.
  2. Some favourite quotes from the launch of ALLIA.
  3. Links to some great follow-up posts by bloggers who were there
  4. Best tips for those thinking about self-publishing from four superb indie authors.

[That's me in the photo on the right, getting a tad

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Launching Free

[#ALLIA  #writing] Maybe it's because I'm Irish but every book I've ever written has had a lot to say about freedom — even my very first publication, a nonfiction book with a small feminist press in Dublin (Attic, now part of Cork University Press), called BodyMatters For Women.

That was a health and exercise book – the day job then was fitness instructor – but the most important chapters, for me, were those dealing with ways to break free of our society's messed-up messages about women's bodies.

From there to the book I'm working on now – a novel about

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The Alliance of Independent Authors

I'm rather excited to tell you that the indie author's website I've been talking about for so long is finally ready to take members. Yes, the only global nonprofit association for the self-publishing writer has arrived.  

We're so thrilled at the bright and brilliant advisors that have come on board,  the brightest and most brilliant names in indie writer-publishing. Handpicked for their knowledge and expertise, they will provide our members with superb support and guidance.

There are a few more

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Skin Diving. Chapter 2.

My New Novel (Serialised fortnightly on Fridays).

Chapter 2. Gaining Entry.

Previous Chapters Can be Read Here. The Story So Far: Mel McIntyre has been delivered to an ‘Advanced Psychotherapeutic Facility' in upstate New York by her father, Mack. The mystery of her baby sister’s death twenty years ago in questionable circumstances has long haunted the McIntyre family and knowing the truth of what happened has become crucial for Mel. Now Read On:

The good doctor doesn’t know it but he has a tree growing out of his head. No, this isn’t what my mother likes to call ‘one of Mel’s phantasmagorias’. For Zelda, having a mad daughter is just another

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Interview by Susan Daly, Irish Independent


By Susan Daly

Áine McCarthy who writes under the pseudonym of Orna Ross, has a knack for unlocking hidden potential. As a writing teacher, she developed a method to help her students tap into their deeply buried creativity. As a former journalist, she pushed and prodded herself into    

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