When it comes to being a self-published Author there always seems to be more learning to do. I decided to self publish in January; by March I was sure I knew everything there was to know about it. Not the case at all. I had no clue about a lot of things; and here it is six months later and I am still learning new things every day. Some days my head hurts and I spend more time doing research than I do marketing my book or writing, and other days I do more marketing than writing.
I was sure I could do almost everything myself on a budget of zero dollars, and then money would come pouring in!! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha, NO! First off let me say this, I am a writer, not an editor or a perfect grammar girl or a grand master of the English language. I am also a typo queen so an editor was a must have, and I lucked out with that one. I have a story (or two, or four, or maybe more) in my head that I want to get out there into the world for people to read and enjoy.
I never thought about looking for an agent and/ or sending it in to any publishing companies, mostly because I felt that it was better to go the solo route. (And maybe slightly because I didn’t want to even think of a rejection letter.) I spent hours looking things up online about HOW TO do it yourself from begging to end… and then I got TF back from my editor and I did edits, formatted to a tee, and bam I was off and running. Put it up on Smashword, then Amazon, then Creatspace. Boom - I have a book!!
I wrote TF in 2008 in about 7 months, then I set it aside for three more months before I started going over it again, changing this and that, looking grammar things up online, and adding a scene or two. And then I did it again, and again. I thought I had gone through it with a fine-toothed comb before I even decided to put it up on Wattpad in early 2011. I had started reading a few fan-fic things (Twilight! <3 ) on there and I loved the idea of putting this book I had written and done nothing with out there. (BTW- If you want the best Twilight fan-fic continuation go to bellasdiary.com and read Bella’s diary!)
So I signed up for an account and went for it. Chapter by chapter I went over it again and again before I sent it to an old friend from high school that would edit for me. It took a long time to get the story up (because I became pregnant… and so did my editor!). By the time I was five chapters away from the end I was getting very discouraged, I was not getting the reads I wanted, or votes, or any kind of feed back at all. Then I stared digging because I wanted to know why. Most of the things that I had read on there were fan-fic as I said and I was discovering that this was really what the people there wanted to read. It was in no way where my audience was at all. And you don’t even what to know the few romances I tried to read… people typed it out in “text” talk!! Now I like I said I am no grammar girl but that bugs me to no end. (Big shocker – I hate texting!!!!)
With this “revelation” I started thinking. I told a friend to do it and then someone said -why don’t you do it? It clicked, why don’t I!! I decided to finish TF on wattpad, leave up the last chapter for about a week (just incase there was someone I didn’t know was reading it that would want to know the end). The one big change I mad from Wattpad to publishing was the ending. I took over three thousand words off the end and changed it into the prolog, that was from a way different POV. Than I read over it again (for time number… twenty or so) and printed it out to physically give to my dear editor friend for all her finally notes. Reading it over and over was a HUGE mistake. I knew the book word for word in my sleep. The problem with this was that I knew what it SHOULD say, not what it did say. If there was a missing word or a misspelled word my mind saw it there or read it correctly. Never again will I write a book and read it that many times. I’ll read it after I am done, then give it to my husband to look over, then my mother, then maybe read it one last time – big maybe there; and THEN I will send it for the edit.
When I created the cover, way back in wattpad days, I spent hours looking on-line for free images that I didn’t have to pay to get and that fit what I wanted for the first impression then I found a photo of a statue of Romeo and Juliet somewhere in… Brooklyn maybe, anyway I popped that baby into Photo bucket and played with it for hours and hours. It was fun; I never really played with editing photos before that. Now I do it way too much. Then I had this blueprint style looking cover with this crazy and romantic looking font on it for the title and my name. I was pleased as punch and now I look back on it and think that it is awful!!!
When I knew I was really going to do it (self- publish) I sat down a mapped out these elaborate ideas of what I wanted it to be now. It needed to look professional and eye catching, romantic and beautiful. Then I was back on the web looking for the pieces I needed to put it together. Nothing is all I found. Then that wonderful person who said to “just do it” with the publishing said, “Why don’t you find a photographer and then put out an add on craigslist for the type of models you want. The photographer gets their name in the book – publicity, and the models will get the prints for their portfolio. You get what you want exactly.” Well the minuet they said it I knew who the photographer would be, she is a close friend and has done photos of my family as well as being around at family functions/ weddings. To top it off I knew who I wanted my cover model to be, I had met her several times and she reminded me looks wise of what I thought Abby looked like in college, but I needed a guy. So I asked if she would do it and if she knew a guy. Two weeks later we had a photo shoot. Thirty minutes later I had over one hundred photos to choose from that were different angles and lighting. I was almost overwhelmed with them all.
After narrowing it down to three I loaded them into my dear friend photo bucket again and started playing with fonts. Not here is where I would like to add that I read a lot of romance, well not so much anymore – with three kids, a husband, a house, writing, and marketing there is little time, I knew what caught my eye in the store. I knew what style of fonts were used for them – girly, yet bold and not so frilly you really had to look to read it. By the next day I had it and I was in love with it. I showed it to a few friends and they thought it was sharp also, so it was a go.
Then I showed it to my writing group, and I must say they are a great group of established self-published authors that had done it and seen it all. If I have any question about that area they are the place to go. I’m not going to lie – they were not impressed. They hated the lighting of it and how blonde my girl was. They hated that I used a “real” photo for it. Over all they thought I should chuck it and that my title should be big and bold along with my name. If it was only a thumbnail you should still be able to read it. I was sticking to my guns with the photo, it was what I wanted and it said what I wanted it to – young love with an angelic glow about it, that made you think of being in love for the first time walking through a park on a big sunny day and having him stop to pull you close and do something as innocent and simple as kissing you on the forehead. I remember those days and I am sure you do too! Anyway, I could see what they were saying about the bigger and bolder title and name. It made complete sense to me; I have seen those Nora Roberts novels that need nothing more than her name and a title on a pretty color. I would love to look like a big “somebody”… but I’m not… yet…lol.
I knew that I really had no interest in covering my photo with huge letters… wouldn’t that take away the “feeling” of fist love? So I decided that I would pull in another element of the book that is close to my heart and add a border of purple roses. Big bold letter and I was done.
Fast forward to about a month and a half ago, all great reviews!! The reviews were coming in slower than I thought but I also know how busy these girls are. Self-published authors would die with out them!! (And you make some great friends meeting them!)
Currently on top of being Mommy to three (my number one job), wife, house taker carer ofer, trying to market/get TF out there, and do research to learn more things… I try to find time to write (and maybe even breath and do something with friends, or even read- more than a children’s book).
So here I find myself trying to multitask and working to make myself a better self-published author. A new cover, one that is more like I wanted from the beginning, is in the works. The process is going slower than I would like, mostly because there has been a blockage from getting the original photo at the right level of pixilation to the person who is going to put it together for me. Although I am trying to be patient … it’s hard. I have gotten out a much better digital edition of TF and as soon as the cover is complete I will get to make a new actual book. A better and more beautiful version.
And I will continue to learn more and more, making the next novel and any that come after it better than the last.