(Or How I Learned to Relax and Stop Driving My Family Crazy–Mostly)
My journey isn’t unique. I wanted to write a book. Raise your hand if you fall into that category. Many years later, I achieved my goal. The in between doesn’t matter. I had a book. In my opinion, a good book. My options were straight forward. Send my masterpiece (I hope we all feel that way about our creations) to agents and publishers and wait months for the inevitable rejection emails or publish it myself. You already know which way I jumped.
This is not a how to blog. I won’t bore you on the best way to pick a cover (so much fun) or my experiences trying to learn how to format my manuscript (nightmare!) Instead, let me put this adventure into genres. If we were sitting in a darkened movie theater and the coming attractions trailers were running, my story would span so many genres your head would spin.
It seemed like I read a million articles and I thought I was prepared. WRONG! No one can tell you what to expect. The anxiety. The dread. The worry. How do I get the word out? No one had heard of me, why should they buy my book? I didn’t have a publisher or agent guiding me toward readers. If this were a Who Done It? the solution to this mystery is simple. Me. I’m in charge of everything and I learned on the job. My advice is to get all the help you can. Be as prepared as possible. Then expect the unexpected.
My first book was an editing disaster. There is no reason to deny it. Like many self-published authors, I believed I was putting out a well-proofed book. I wouldn’t have hit that little publish button if I thought my story was riddled with typos and all manner of mistakes. But I was wrong. The book was a mess. But here is the beauty of self-publishing. I was able to see the error of my ways, pull the book, and fix the problem. What did I learn? It doesn’t take a village to edit a book. It takes four women. My editor. Me. My mother. And my sister. Four sets of eyes and multiple read-throughs. Are my books mistake free? Not likely. Few books are. I recently found a typo in a Nora Roberts book. That isn’t a criticism. Just a fact. Even huge publishers, with all their many resources, let mistakes slip through. But are my books polished and reader ready? Yes. This horror story has a happy ending.
My year has been filled with more twists and turns than a rollercoaster. I peek around corners because I never know what is going to pop out at me. The only thing I can say is, it’s never a dull moment.
I have fallen in love with writing. I wake up every day excited to push my story along. My characters speak to me at inconvenient moments–I’m often someplace where I can’t write down my thoughts and I have to rush home to get them down before I forget. Have you heard the expression, follow your passion? Well, for the first time in my life, I understand what that feels like. Writing isn’t a job, it’s a joy. It makes me happy.
I have learned to relax–mostly. Time has taken care of that. One year into this adventure, nothing outside of my writing feels as big or important as it did when I started. Book sales. Reviews. The hundreds of things I have to deal with as a self-published author. I have realized one thing. I am following my dream. Do I want to sell a million books? Sure. Who doesn’t? But, one sale or a million, I will continue to write. I’m in the middle of a love story and it will last a lifetime. How many people can say that they were able to write their own happily ever after?