The Kindness of Strangers – Guest Post by Cheryl Shireman

One of the first things a writer notices when they join the self-publishing community is that it really is a community. We all pitch in to help each other.

We share tips on editors, formatters, and cover designers. We recommend promo venues and warn about scams or bad deals. And we cheer each other’s successes and commiserate when someone hits a roadblock.

Part of the reason for that, I’m sure, is that there is a feeling that we are all in this together, lone wolves fighting against the deep pockets, marketing muscle, and control of print distribution of the large publishers. But it’s also because many of the people involved are just plain nice.

One of the most helpful authors out there is Cheryl Shireman. I’ve featured her story before on this blog (and if you haven’t read that, you really should). She told me about a collaborative project she’s working on, and I invited her along to tell you all about it.

Here’s Cheryl:


Recently, in a Facebook group I belong to, someone posted, Tell me what you hate most about being an indie author.

I thought about it a few minutes, and this was my response: You’re going to all pelt me with your Kindles, but as I sit here and try to think, I realize that I don’t hate ANYTHING about being an indie. Sometimes, promoting can be a drain, but honestly, even if I was traditionally published, I’d still be doing promotion.

I couldn’t come up with what I hate most about being an indie, but if the post had been, Tell me what you like most about being an indie author, I’d have a quick answer. I love the freedom and camaraderie. As an indie, I have the freedom to publish my projects on my own timeline. I choose my own cover, hire my own editor, and have total control on how my books are presented to the public.

But even better than that freedom, is the camaraderie I have found among my fellow indie writers. I don’t know if traditional writers enjoy the same sort of camaraderie, but I hope they do. Smart indie writers soon learn that their greatest asset is often their fellow indie writers.

I published my first novel, Life Is But a Dream: On The Lake in the last week of January of 2011. As I write this, that was about nine months ago. Within that relatively short period of time, I appeared on various indie blogs, was interviewed on more indie websites than I can remember, and appeared in two books – Let’s Get Digital by David Gaughran and the Summer Book Club anthology (featuring Mark Williams, Saffina Desforges, J. Carson Black, Victorine Lieske, Louise Voss, Sibel Hodge, Scott Nicholson, H.P. Mallory, and myself). All of this was due to the kindness of strangers – other indie writers.

So when the notion came to me, a couple of months ago, of organizing my own anthology of women writers, it didn’t seem like it would be that difficult. Once I got beyond the scary notion of committing to such a project, I realized the most difficult part of the project would be finding the time to do it. Like most indies, I work long hours and have little free time. But I also knew this – when I started contacting other writers and asking them if they might be interested in the project, they would say yes. And they did.

I contacted about thirty women, and every one of them responded with enthusiasm. Most said yes immediately, and those who could not, due to time commitments, wished us well and asked me to let them know when the book when the book was published so they could be part of promoting it. How’s that for camaraderie?

I asked Karen McQuestion to write a foreword for the book. Karen’s success story inspired me to try indie publishing. Though no longer technically an indie writer (McQuestion signed with Amazon’s imprint, Encore), Karen responded with an enthusiastic yes. I wasn’t surprised. Thrilled, but not surprised.

The book began to develop, and as it did, a theme began to form. This became more than an anthology of fiction (the original intent). As we began to interact with one another, the feeling of support and encouragement was almost palpable. I began to think about that and wondered how this book might reflect that spirit. I believe everyone has a story. I also believe that we are meant to share our stories with one another so that others might be encouraged by them. That belief directed this book.

I asked each woman to include a story that might encourage other women. As women, one of our most powerful gifts is our ability to encourage one another. This book became our effort to encourage women across the world. Twenty-five women sharing stories to make you laugh, inspire you, and maybe even make you cry. We began to dream that these stories would inspire other women to live the life they were meant to live.

The stories started coming in. Some were light-hearted and fun to read. But others were gut-wrenching and inspiring – stories of how women dealt with physical abuse, overwhelming grief, and a host of bad choices. I never expected the depth and honesty of some of these stories. It was clear; these women were not just sharing a story, but a piece of their heart. I felt as if I were no longer “organizing” this anthology, but just getting out of the way so that it could morph and evolve into its truest form.

Stories include:

Foreword by Karen McQuestion

Knight in Shining Armor by Shea MacLeod

Latchkey Kid by Heather Marie Adkins

Write or Die by Danielle Blanchard

The Phoenix and The Darkness by Lizzy Ford

Never Too Late by Linda Welch

Stepping Into the Light by Donna Fasano

One Fictionista’s Literary Bliss by Katherine Owen

I Burned My Bra For This? by Cheryl Shireman

Mrs. So Got It Wrong Agent by Prue Battten

Holes by Suzanne Tyrpak

Turning Medieval by Sarah Woodbury

A Kinky Adventure in Anglophilia by Anne R. Allen

Writing From a Flour Sack by Dani Amore

Just Me and James Dean by Cheryl Bradshaw

How a Big Yellow Truck Changed My Life by Christine DeMaio-Rice

From 200 Rejections to Amazon Top 200! by Sibel Hodge

Have You Ever Lost a Hat? by Barbara Silkstone

French Fancies! by Mel Comley

Life’s Little Gifts by Melissa Foster

Never Give Up On Your Dream by Christine Kersey

Self-taught Late Bloomer by Carol Davis Luce

Moving to The Middle East by Julia Crane

Paper, Pen, and Chocolate by Talia Jager

The Magic Within and The Little Book That Could by Michelle Muto

Write Out of Grief by Melissa Smith

Afterword by Beth Elisa Harris

We also each included excerpts from our novels, but, honestly, I hope it is the stories that make the most impact. Sure it would be great if we could each sell some novels, but the thought of encouraging other women to reach for their dreams has become much more important to all of us.

All proceeds from this anthology will be donated to the Susan G. Komen Foundation which fights breast cancer – a disease all too close to many of us.

Indie Chicks: 25 Women 25 Personal Stories is available at Amazon, Amazon UK, and Barnes & Noble.

Stop by our Facebook Page! Follow our Indie Chicks hashtag on Twitter!  #IndieChicksAnthology


What Cheryl said is true. When I wrote Let’s Get Digital, I emailed around thirty successful self-publishers to see if they were willing to contribute an article. Honestly, I expected about ten of them to reply. I didn’t know most of them, and they certainly didn’t know who I was.

Virtually everyone said yes, straight away. I was inundated with fantastic contributions and was amazed that so many successful, busy writers would take the time to help me.

Looking at the line-up for Indie Chicks, Cheryl has a great mix of new, up-and-coming, and bestselling indie authors. It’s a great way for readers to sample a whole range of diverse voices. It’s a fantastic opportunity for these writers to cross-promote each other to their respective audiences. And best of all? It’s all for a good cause.

The anthology went live less than 24 hours ago, and it’s already just outside the Top 5000 on Amazon US and the Top 3000 on Amazon UK.

Best of luck to Cheryl and the rest of the Indie Chicks with this project.

David Gaughran

Born in Ireland, he now lives in a little fishing village in Portugal, although this hasn’t increased the time spent outside. He writes novels under another name, has helped thousands of authors build a readership with his books, blogs, workshops, and courses, and has created marketing campaigns for some of the biggest self-publishers on the planet. Friend to all dogs.

37 Replies to “The Kindness of Strangers – Guest Post by Cheryl Shireman”

  1. Great post Dave & Cheryl! I was honoured to be included in this anthology. Some stories will make you cry, some will make you laugh, but they will all inspire you.

    I’m so glad I’ve got my big girl’s knickers now! (You’ll have to read the anthology to find out what I’m talking about!) 🙂

  2. When I was a newbie (and that was a very short time ago!) I emailed David Gaughran and asked him if I could post on his website. Of course, I expected that he would say no. But it was worth a shot. But he said yes. Not because I would drive tons of traffic to his website, but because he is such a nice guy and is always ready to encourage another indie writer. Since then, we have exchanged many emails and become buddies. So, when I thought about who might be willing to promote this project, I thought of David. Again, graciously, he said Yes. Thank you David. One of the very best things about being an indie is meeting other indies like you. Thanks for allowing us “Indie Chicks” to hang out on your website today.

  3. Thanks for posting this, David! I also want to say (and I don’t think my mother would mind) that she is fighting breast cancer right now and having the proceeds from this book go to breast cancer research is particularly meaningful to me, and makes me even more proud to be a part of it.

    1. Sarah – I have not shared that fact outside of our group – out of a respect for the privacy of you and your mother. You coming forward to share it with the world does not surprise me. It is such a bold and selfless act. Thank you for doing so. Of course, you know, you and your entire family are in our thoughts and prayers. You inspire us.

  4. I’d bet a big part of the indie camaraderie is due to those in the ‘attitude’ of authors and others that have chosen to remain in the big6 ‘walled garden.’ Alas, I also suspect that as indie books become more mainstream, the community will become too large to keep the camaraderie. 🙁


    1. Perhaps, Neil. But as for me – it’s not going to happen. And I don’t think it has to. I want to encourage ALL writers. I don’t care HOW you publish – in your basement on your computer or with Random House. I know what it is to have that dream – to want to spend your days writing, creating worlds for others to read. So, why would I care how you publish? It’s just a vehicle. The important thing, for me, is to encourage others to pursue their writing dreams (or any dream for that matter). It’s always our choice. We can achieve our dreams and then look down on others who have not. Or we can reach over and pull them along with us. I choose the latter.

  5. David,

    Thank you for supporting this worthy endeavor (and for such a great cause). As one of the “Indie Chicks”, I am in awe of every writer in this anthology and feel lucky to be a part of it.

    I think the sense of inclusion is the biggest distinction between being Indie versus traditionally published. Truly. Indie writers help each other out all the time, without question, regardless of who you know or don’t know. That’s what I love best about being Indie. You, hosting “us” here, is the finest example of that generosity, support, and that sense of inclusion.

    Beyond that, the writing and the stories included in this anthology are extraordinary. What’s not to love about that?

    Thanks for supporting “Indie Chicks”.

    Katherine Owen

  6. David,
    Thank you so very much for your support. We really appreciate it. I feel honored to be a part of this anthology. Surrounded by strong, independent ladies with heart. And great friends like you! 🙂

  7. David, thanks for the encouragement and allowing Cheryl to guest blog about a great cause. To be honest, I would have done it without the publicity as that part didn’t mean much to me. It was about bonding with twenty-four other women who have been through the same journey I am making. It was about sisterhood and really, fighting a powerful disease which kills too many women every year.

    The advertisement is nice but if our stories can provide one woman the courage to live out her dream then I would be happy. Thank you again. 😉

  8. Thanks for posting about this, Cheryl. And congrats to you and the other Indie Chicks, for the success, and for championing a worthy cause.

    Great Blog, David. I come here a lot 😉

    Off to check out the anthology…


    (unless you want to be moved, inspired and touched by stories as original, heartfelt and real as the woman who wrote them)

  10. Thanks for the post, David! I’m so pleased to be part of this anthology and so glad Cheryl thought of it!

  11. Hi Cheryl & David–
    I wholeheartedly agree that the very best part of being Indie is the comraderie and support of the other authors. Back in my traditional pub days I was ultimately disappointed in the competition and jealously I perceived. But, here in cybersace where the possibilities are endless, we can support each other without vying for contracts. Even the greenest writer can find someone to cheer them on and help them improve. I blog with the most interesting people every week. I love being an Indie Author. (selling books is nice too).

    1. I absolutely agree Dana!
      There is no competition because we are not competing for the publishers marketing budget. Publishing is a tough business. No doubt about it. As Indies we don’t have the overhead and we can compete on a shoestring. But I never expected all of this kindness and encouragement. It is soooo wonderful. I am just amazed by how gracious other indie writers have been. Very accessible and kind. What’s not to like?
      As the publishing world continues to change, I hope we see more and more of this – support between writers – no matter how published! I have met a few traditionally published writers in the last year and they have also been very kind. I like this trend!

    1. Thrilled to do so, Scott – one of my Summer Book Club buddies and a sweet guy to boot! Just one more example of a great indie writer who is professional, kind, and always ready to encourage others. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment Scott!

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