Behind the Scenes in Indie Publishing with Nina Walker, Author of The Color Alchemist
Behind the Scenes of Indie Publishing
At YABC we work closely with a lot of Indie authors. Some are best sellers and some are just starting out, and many more fall in the middle of that spectrum. Today we are excited to introduce you to Nina Walker, USA Today Best Selling author of The Color Alchemist. She brings us a peek into her journey as an independant author with three important tips for success.
Welcome Nina Walker!
When I was younger, I wanted to be an actress. I say “wanted,” but it was more than that. Most people want something but never take any action. It’s easy to want something -- but it’s something else entirely to actually go for it. I’m not the type to daydream without action, and so literally the day after his college graduation in Utah, my husband and I moved to Los Angeles. In one year’s time, I enrolled in prestigious workshops, landed myself an agent, earned my SAG/AFTRA card, and worked on several television shows as an extra. I’ll say my crowning achievement was hanging out backstage on Parks and Rec with Chris Pratt. It was a crazy fun time in my life, but something wasn’t right.
And this was my hang up: I couldn’t control the scripts.
Actors have no say in the scripts offered to them and I hated that. I would have to turn down almost every audition opportunity because of my standards. Was I comfortable with nudity or profanity? No. It was frustrating, but in a sense, I understood it. Hollywood didn’t care about my standards and why should they? A director has a thousand options. Why choose the one that’s going to make things hard for them when there’s a line out the door of people eager to do anything for a role? I understood it then, and I still understand it now. But it came with a bitter realization that acting wasn’t for me and so we packed up and returned home.
My dream was gone. I had the heart of a storyteller who loved creating characters, and I’d given that up. So what was next? That’s when I had a vivid dream about a girl manipulating color and transforming it into magic. I woke up that morning excited and refreshed. The muse had returned! I started writing Prism, the first book in what later became the Amazon international bestselling The Color Alchemist series.
Yes, I wrote for fun as a kid and later as a young adult, but I never took it seriously until Prism came along. I started writing “for real” in 2013, published Prismin 2017, and have since published 5 books and a novella, with another book soon to be released. It’s been a journey and these days I get messages and emails quite often from aspiring writers asking for advice. They typically want to know the “how” of the process. But here’s the hard truth: there is no single “right way” to get published. In fact, I ended up having to publish myself and it turned out to be an amazing experience, even if I went into it kicking and screaming. If I had stayed stuck thinking there was a single step-by-step, right-way that was one-size-fits-all, Prismlikely would’ve never reached readers. The truth is that writing and publishing is different for everybody, andit’s always changing.
You will sort through your “how” with time, effort, and trial and error. The real key is to be committed, because that’s what it takes to write and publish a book. It’s no-matter-what, back-against-the-wall, line-in-the-sand, do-or-die, 100% commitment.
Once you’re committed, you’ll find a way. Simply put,commitment isthe way.
That isn’t to say that there won’t be roadblocks. There will be many. And the worst roadblock will probably be self-doubt. Because believe me, I’ve had and still have my fair share of doubt. I had someone email me the other day asking how I am able to continue to believe in myself despite the voice in my head that says, “I’m not good enough and nobody will want to read this.” Do I have this voice? Is it a problem for me, too?
Yes, I have that voice, and sometimes, she screams.
I have three answers to this one, but I think it comes right back to commitment. I’m committed to go the distance so that voice in my head isn’t in the driver’s seat. She’s a back-seat-driver and she’s annoying and pissy, but is she in control? Nope. At least, not very often. To prevent her from taking the wheel, there are some key strategies that work for me. Maybe some of them will work for you, too.
First of all, I write. I don’t write everyday. I don’t make myself fit into somebody else’s mold of a “proper writer.” Writing daily doesn’t work for me. Maybe it does for you? But I do write a lot. I’m consistent with my writing schedule and deadlines. I treat my writing like a job because I want it to pay like a job. If I treated it like a hobby, it would pay like a hobby. If I treated it like the lowest priority on the list, I’d never get to it at all. Taking action and actually writing is the fastest way to get the naysayer in my head to shut her pie-hole.
Secondly, I devour personal development. This one isa daily thing for me. Sometimes it’s listening to a motivational podcast. Usually it’s reading a self-help book. It might be serving someone in need, loving on my family, taking time for meditation, prayer, or a walk in nature. And about once a year, I’ll go to an in-person seminar of some sort to get totally immersed in an abundance of positive energy. Truth is, just as I have to feed and nurture my body, so must I tend to my mind and emotions. This isn’t just hugely important for me; it’s everythingfor me. Without this, I wouldn’t have any books to my name. I’d still be stuck dreaming about it, wanting it, wishing for it, dabbling in it, but there’s no way I would have actually done it and then done it five more times. So whatever you need to do to grow yourself emotionally/mentally/spiritually, do it. You’re well worth the investment. Your mind is your biggest tool. We do things based on how we think they’re going to make us feel. So if you can get control of your mind, then you can get control of your emotions, and from there, the rest will fall into place.
And finally, I urge you to figure out what “success” is to you. Let me explain. I’m a high-achiever who grew up in a high-achieving and wealthy household, so to me, success is numbers. It’s how many books I can sell and it’s how much money I can make. It’s numbers that I can measure and build upon. For someone else, success could look totally different. Maybe to them it’s receiving literary awards or landing on a certain bookstore shelf, or maybe success is simply a feeling. I think those are all great. The key is not to judge yourself on this or to try to reach someone else’s measure for success. So what it if it’s not all sunshine and rainbows and making the world a better place? If it’s important to you and it gets you excited to write, then it’s perfect and you should go with it. But a quick word of warning: don’t attach your self-worth to this. Your worth is inherent and it can’t be measured or earned or taken away. Ever. Keep it separate and you’ll be fine.
For me, I find that the more I can set and reach goals based on what I care about, not what other authors care about, the more I can up-level my commitment to my craft and career. When I hit a certain level of sales or rankings, I push myself to hit the next one and I love it. It feels good to me. But for someone else who doesn’t measure success that way, it won’t feel as good to them. It’ll likely feel empty - or stressful -and they’ll begin to question everything. You don’t want that. You do you.
Eight years ago I knewI was going to be an actress. I knew it was the right thing for me. And then I did it, and even though I was wrong about what was best for me, acting turned out to be the exact right thing to lead me to where I am today. I absolutely love writing. I can honestly say that I want to write until the day I die. This career allows me so much creativity and freedom, and it pushes me to grow. I wouldn’t change careers for anything. My hope for you is to experience the same level of satisfaction in your life and career, no matter the path to get there.
Nina Walker is a USA Today and Amazon Bestselling author. She lives in beautiful Utah with her husband, two children, and three furbabies. Nina writes YA romantic fantasy with metaphysical magic systems, forbidden love interests, and heart-stopping plot twists. You can learn more at www.ninawalkerbooks.com or find her on social media at facebook.com/ninawalkerbooks or on Instagram @ninabelievesinmagic.
Meet Prism: The Color Alchemist Book 1
What if color held the secrets to powerful magic?
Forced to move into the palace, Jessa begins training as a Color Alchemist under the direction of the kingdom's most eligible bachelor, Prince Lucas. As an alchemist, Jessa must capture and harness the color of living things. Every color has a unique purpose, except red. Red is the untapped magic no one can access—until Jessa.
Prince Lucas is running out of time. His mother is nearing death and the healing magic isn't working. When Lucas suspects someone is using alchemy to control her, he sets out to discover the truth, even if it means uncovering Jessa's secrets in the process.