I am two months out from the launch of my first book. It’s exciting. It’s nauseating. It’s a mad dash to the finish.
I’ve had a lot of people ask me what my experience has been in the self-publishing world, so today I’m going to talk about how I wrote my book and what I have to do to get it published. I will caveat that everyone’s experience is a different, so what I’ve done may not be what you’ll do. I have a very self-driven personality and a background in marketing, so both of those help a lot.
How I wrote the book
Unlike a lot of the other Rebels, I never had plans to write a book. It was a fleeting thought a time or two, but it disappeared as fast as it came to me. The last thing I expected was to have a story start spinning itself in my mind one day late last July. I’ll admit, I had just finished reading a great series by Rachel Higginson, and my story sounded a lot like hers. It had some similar themes, but the more I mapped out those first few chapters in my head, the more real it became and the more I saw the differences in my details. I knew I had to put it on paper no matter what it sounded like. I spent hours writing. For three months I used every minute of time on airplanes (I travelled a lot for work then), nights and weekends getting that first draft out (luckily, I have one very supportive husband who brought me a lot of wine and made a lot of dinners while I worked).
I shipped my first draft off and thought “I’ll have this published by January!” It was November 1. I was delusional and naïve. You don’t give a first draft of your first-ever novel to eight beta readers. You give it to one. One uber-critical, punch-holes-in-everything beta that will tell you every time you’ve gone off the deep end. But, all eight of my betas were wonderfully-supportive and read the whole darn thing. They commented and edited and had endless conversations with me.
What lesson did I learn? When you don’t outline your book fully, you spend three more months rewriting basically the whole darn thing. So, I did. Draft two...check. And then I shipped it off to those same girls, and my writer’s group, and this time the comments were more “this would make it more clear” instead of “what the hell are you talking about?” (To be fair, no one ever said that. They’re too nice. But it was warranted).
How did I make it mine?
I talked earlier about how my initial story was a lot like Rachel’s. It was. That’s fine. I didn’t know how to think like an author then. I didn’t understand how to trust my gut and allow my characters to write their story themselves instead of me forcing them into situations I thought would be successful based on other things I had read. But, in that second draft, I changed a lot of things. I listened to their stories. And when I got those edits back – that is when the magic started happening.
I have lived inside my round three edits for the last two weeks and let me tell you – WHOA BABY – has this manuscript changed. In that short span I have changed the book title, renamed the Immortal categories, made my protagonist stronger and her power darker. I’ve taken the theme I shared with Rachel – the young, female protagonist with magical powers that fights an Immortal regime – and I made it all mine. I removed “felt,” “I knew” and “just” from my story and made every possible sentence active instead of passive. I didn’t come into this knowing the true craft of being an author, but I’m getting there.
What happens next?
It’s crunch time, kids. Here’s the rundown:
- By June 1, the whole manuscript is due to my editor. (P.S. that’s only FIVE DAYS). She’ll have it for two weeks, then I’ll do another round of edits based on her feedback and she’ll do a final proof the week of July 4.
- The week of June 9 my cover will be officially revealed via YABound Blog Tours (They are fantastic and I highly recommend them!)
- By June 15, I will have finalized and approved my full cover wrap with my designer (who is amazing and patient and wonderful with my nit-picky changes).
- By July 4, the Advanced Release Copies (ARCs) are due to YABound to be sent out to the 20 bloggers who signed up to be part of my blog tour (happening the week of August 11).
- The week of July 7 the book will go the formatter to be made into a beautiful e-book and print book.
- At the end of July (final date TBD) the book will launch.
Between now and that day I will be working tirelessly to maximize any and all marketing opportunities. I’ll be coordinating Facebook and GoodReads giveaways, reaching out to my social contacts across the country to find people who are willing to read ARCs and advocate for my book. I’m using my media relations talents to try to gain some local coverage where I live and using the alumni department of my alma mater to spread the word. I’m basically trying like hell to not be annoying but find anyone and everyone who will help.
I guess the moral of the story is that self-publishing is not for the faint of heart. You have to be willing to have your mind-changed, to be wrong and to part with words you love because they aren’t the best words to tell your story. You have to be able to network and market and sell yourself and your ideas. I’m not successful yet, but the moment I hit publish, I’m calling this a win.
If you have any thoughts or questions on the self-publishing process, please let me know. Comment here or hit me up on my Facebook page. I wouldn’t be here today if I hadn’t had my betas, the Rebels and a few wonderful authors who have taken me under their wing. And a husband who brought me wine. :)