I’ve been writing my whole life, but most of my ideas were short stories, blog posts, story outlines that I never got around to turning into full novels – that sort of thing. I didn’t think I could be a writer. I loved words, I loved writing, and I’ve been told since I picked up a pen that I had a natural knack for it. Then, in 2012, I decided why in the hell not? Why wasn’t I pursuing a career in writing? I loved doing it. Why wasn’t I calling myself a writer? I wrote words, didn’t I? Even if they weren’t published words, in the traditional sense, I had a readership and a following. I could do this, I just had to dedicate the time.
Time. That’s such a huge issue for me. I have poor time management skills. I think that was noted on every report card since junior kindergarten. Poor time management skills. Easily distracted.
I’ve always had a “writer’s mind”. If you’re a writer, you understand that term. If you understand that term and don’t consider yourself a writer; congratulations, you’re a writer. My wheels were always turning, burning with a new story idea, my fingers twitching with the desire to sit down and write it out. With my mind spinning and whirling in a thousand different directions, focusing was naturally difficult.
And even with all those ideas in my head, I never considered myself a writer. I never believed I could write books, you know…the kind with actual pages and a cover and a spine. That was just a pipe dream, I didn’t have the time to chase it with two little ones.
Once I got over that [really stupid] mental block, I fired out nearly an entire novel in one month for NaNoWriMo. Collide is a product of NaNoWriMo 2013. It was the year that changed the game for me. I wrote 50k words in a month, and I let a few people read the early versions and each one of them told me to go for it, publish it. I finished the first official draft of the manuscript in February of 2014, a week before I went in for [an MHE] surgery on my heel and shoulder.
My recovery from that particular surgery was spent sending query letters out to publishing agencies. But I was too impatient, I wanted to publish it and I wanted to publish it now. Self-publishing was always an intimidating field for me. It looked absolutely terrifying, but…I decided…why the hell not? I liked the idea of being in charge of everything.
I didn’t realize all of the complexities to self-publishing. Seriously, it may appear easy in theory, but it definitely possesses a lot of challenges. I had to learn how to format (and the early versions of Collide definitely reflected my “n00b” status in the self-publishing world), how to market, and I learned the hard way about covers (they do actually matter, like a lot). It took me months to get Collide ready for publishing.
And I could have waited longer. I could have done another round of editing and a hell of a lot more marketing. My idea was to just throw it out there the second I thought it was done so that I wouldn’t chicken out (because I was in danger of chickening out). I told myself I’d take more time with the sequel, Consumed, but I threw that out there the second it was ready too. It’s like I’m gun shy, or something. I fling it and run.
I realized a few things throughout this process: 1) I am not very good at formatting, despite my best attempts. 2) I’m not very patient and I suck at sticking to a “marketing schedule”, especially one that I’ve created for myself. 3) I sort of suck at self-promoting.
You kind of need to be good at self-promoting. I’ve always shied away from attention, so saying “hey! My book is great, read it!” I’ll just go “I don’t know, I mean. It’s a book. I don’t know what you’re going to think about it, so read it and let me know maybe? Or not, whatever.”
Then I realized something else about self-publishing: getting books available for print is a totally different, so much more complicated ball-game. One that I certainly had no idea how to manage. For starters, I had the wrong covers. They were ebook covers, and I was going to have to find – and pay – someone to make the cover ready for paperback (it needed a spine and a back, for starters). Then there’s the formatting for it…it’s completely different from formatting it for ebook and it needs to be perfect. I didn’t feel that I could get Collide and Consumed perfect enough for paperback. Formatting is hard, and I’m not very good at it. Another option I considered was paying someone to format it. But then I would be paying for someone to tweak the cover, paying for someone to format, and I simply couldn’t afford to do that.
Then I heard about Booktrope. It seemed like the holy grail, the solution for all my problems. Someone would be take the reigns with marketing? Someone to edit and format? A cover designer that will actually listen to what I want? Heck yes. All the things that stressed me out daily about self-publishing.
I submitted my novels and figure projects to Booktrope, and they accepted me. I have many projects on the go with them. The first two books of the Collide series will be re-released and immediately available in paperback after. I also wrote a two-part series called The Damaged Series, featuring new characters and struggles. The first novel, Damaged Goods, will be available in the fall of 2015.
Thanks to Booktrope, I’ve been able to focus on what’s truly important to me (and what I kind of rock at): the writing part. As a stay-at-home mom, I have a limited amount of time that I can dedicate to the book stuff, unless I want to neglect my house and to accidentally forget about appointments (which has totally happened on more than one occasion, but still).
Even though I know I will have an editor and a proofreader go over my finished manuscripts, I still try to go through each of my books several times before submitting it. When you’re writing a novel, you eventually stop seeing your own mistakes. Too many words, you know? Even if you have an editor and proofreader (you should have both; always – something else I’ve learned), you still want to avoid leaving silly mistakes that you could have easily caught with a couple read throughs. That first draft of a finished manuscript is basically what I like to call “a bloody show“. It’s the beginning of the birth of a beautiful baby – I mean book. It takes a lot of time to clean it up a little.
I have a few people that I trust to give me their thoughts on each manuscript once it’s “completed” my first several rounds of editing. They’re my betas, and they are absolutely necessary for the next phase: seeing if the book is worthy of publishing. Does it make sense? Does it flow? Is it interesting? Did they experience an intense tsunami of emotions when reading it? Did I hit the mark with what I was going for? Are there any plot issues or things that just didn’t mesh or make sense? The betas let me know. If it meets their approval, then the book is worthy (and they are tough chicks to please).
As for writing the book…lord, that takes a lot of time. Do I always have it? Hell no. I’ve got two kids; six and three. I’ve got dental appointments, specialist appointments, speech therapy appointments, playdates and parent/teacher meetings and a billion other kid filled things to do. I have a house to clean, food to make, pets to take on walks. I am not bleeding with obscene amounts of time. I write when I can, for as long as I can, and I get up and do it again the next day. Sometimes, I pump out a good 5k words in the morning while the kids eat breakfast and watch cartoons. Usually, I’m far too busy during the day and have to wait until the kids are in bed. I write from 8:30pm-11pm. I write every day or night, not because I feel that I have to…but because I want to. The thing is, I want to write. I enjoy it, it’s easy to me – finding the time is what’s hard.
It’s hard fitting my writing career in with everything we have going on, it’s a constant struggle to maintain balance and it’s a process to write each book, but I love doing it.