utopYA Resolutions [13]: Crystal Bryant

The UtopYA Resolutions feature, hosted by Book Junkie: Not-So-Anonymous and The Paisley Reader will allow authors, bloggers, editors, cover models, designers, publicists, and any UtopYA attendee to share the resolutions they’ve made for the year between the 2014-2015 conferences.

utopYAn Profile:

Name: Crystal Bryant

I attend as: Author, Editor

Years attended: 2013 and 2014

I came to UtopYA for the first time its second year. My friend and partner in many crimes, Teal Haviland, had gone the first year and told me, “There’s nothing like it. You’re going next year.” With little choice, I did. I thought her claims were suspect at best. I should have known better.

That second year, I believe, was the year of the clump, which is the opposite of a clique. I knew about two people at the conference when I arrived. Four of the ladies I met that year are now my dearest friends, three of them are my business partners, one convinced me to move to Costa Rica, and many, many more are friends that I look forward to seeing in Nashville every year.

Honestly? That didn’t happen at the conference. Not that year. I wasn’t shy, but I observed much more than I participated. (You’ll hear a lot of people to tell you to jump in both feet first, and that’s awesome advice. But if you don’t, don’t worry. UtopYA has your back anyway.) I got to know these women more online. We got crazy together last June. And then in the last few months, opportunities and projects have been exploding. I joined the Indie-Visible team and we launched a fabulous website, a resource for readers and indie publishers. We have a super-awesome project on the way called Literacy League, that will connect middle-grade, YA, and NA authors directly with their audiences — in schools. I’ve edited more this year than any previous.

The idea of UtopYA resolutions was brought to me by my dear friend, author Teal Haviland. As we were sitting, talking, wrapping up last UtopYA, she said to me, “You know, I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions anymore, I make UtopYA Resolutions.” I thought that idea was fantastic, and with her permission, threw it to the UtopYA Clump to work their magic. (You girls are rocking this.)

I’m not a resolution maker in general. I don’t like waiting for a specific day to start changing things; If I’m going to make a big change, I just start with the first step right away. But I don’t wait for UtopYA. UtopYA is always happening, we just have a party every June. Because of that, it’s easy to think of the goals I have for this coming UtopYA:

1. Connect with people whose work is outstanding.

Authors, certainly, but other editors, designers, marketers, entrepreneurs, movers and shakers. Since April 25 of last year (coincidentally, also my wedding anniversary), I have lived in a small Caribbean town in Costa Rica. It’s a tourist town, and that means a lot of turnover in the faces I see every day. One of the things I’ve learned this last year is how to connect quickly, to stay open at a deeper level than I was used to in the States, and how to let go until that person pops back into my mind and life again.

In the States, we often keep ourselves fairly protected. We scope other people out for a long while before considering inviting them into our circle. That’s because relationships tend to last longer. We don’t want to bring the crazy into our lives if the crazy won’t leave. Those connections are risky. Here, because everyone is coming and going, the connections are less risky. You can go deeper faster and must, or you will be a lonely island in a sea of people.

Here, I’ve met the owner of a boutique ad agency, a graphic and interior designer, a retreat planner, an animator, a nightclub organizer, a girl who makes a living hiring people to make bracelets out of broken surf boards in Bali that are individually numbered and sold in San Francisco. Each unique number can be entered in our her site, where you can write your story about how the bracelet came to you and what you did while you had it, before you pass it on to someone else.

I’m collecting all of these wonderful crazy people in my pocket. Because someday, they’re going to pop into my head at the right moment, and we’re going to make something awesome together.

2. Grow Indie-Visible.

We have a great team of freelancers on our PubHub board. Publishing shouldn’t ever be overwhelming or confusing; Indie-Visible is a great place to find support and advice for both writers and their support teams: the editors, the marketers, the designers, the coaches. One of our guiding questions, one we ask for any new project we approach, is, “Will this give writers more freedom (time, money, brainspace) to WRITE?”

That means launching the beta of Literacy League. That means releasing several posts a week from freelancers and authors on the publishing business. That means releasing even more posts a week from our wonderful blogging team featuring authors’ books.

That means visualizing the castle we’re renting out for the first Indie-Visible writing retreat and workshop. (No, we don’t have a date for it yet.)

3. Lock down my editing business structure.

I’ve done cold business, and by that, I mean working with someone I didn’t know at all before reviewing their project and taking them on as a client. What I really like? I like connecting with an author and getting to know them, getting to know their style and personality, before I get in and try to help shape their story, their words, into the picture they see in their head. This has worked amazingly with authors like Teal Haviland, and Delphina Henley. With Delphina, I’ve been able to experiment with a payment structure I think is better for everyone all around — a percentage payment of sales.

This is a risk on my part, absolutely. The book may never make more than fifty dollars. But these authors and their books, I believe in them. By UtopYA 2015, I plan to lock down this experimental structure. I think one of the things that traditional publishing has that indie publishing often lacks, especially for a beginning author, is the magic that happens when the right editor meets the right writer. (Magic word and story babies!) I want to see that become the norm for authors everywhere.

I hope to see you at UtopYA!

Crystal Rae Bryant is a writer, editor, software engineer, co-founder of Indie-Visible and crazy nut job who thinks up new businesses for fun. She lives in Costa Rica and has bought a piece of land in the jungle in a permaculture focused community where she and her husband are planning on building a shipping container house. She’s crazy jealous of her former-politico husband because he volunteers full time at The Jaguar Rescue Center and plays with monkeys, sloths, ocelots, toucans, raccoons and any other number of animals all day. She wants to be him when she grows up.