Wednesday, January 29, 2014

So, You Want to Write a Book?

I've been asked a few times in interviews what the best and worst parts about being a writer are.... and I know that some readers may be curious as well.... so I decided to write a blog post all about the road to self-publishing and the many obstacles, triumphs, and really random things that have happened along the way. 

So.... we come to step one, Writing.  I honestly thought that the hardest part about being an author was writing the book.  Boy was I ever wrong.  I'm not sure how it is with everyone else, but the writing is the easy part for me.  I get these stories in my head that just have to come out and by the time it is all said and done, after weeks of no sleep, I have a book.  A really rough draft of a book, but a book nonetheless.

Then comes the not so fun part, the editing.  I had no clue how many times authors had to read and reread their books before ever publishing them.  I'm not sure what I expected, but it certainly wasn't this.  I read through after I finish to add in stuff where it is missing and correct word usage where it is strange.  You would think that would be enough, but nope... after that it heads off to my grammatically fiendish friend to review.  Then she sends it back to me and I read it again before I ship it off to my editor.  She goes through, edits it, then sends it back my way for me to read yet again.  When all of that is done, I ship it back to her to be formatted and pray that I don't have to read it again for a long time.  By the time all is said and done, I probably read each book a good 8 times before I ever hit publish.  (This coming from a girl that typically doesn't re-read books!)

I guess that I should address the whole editor thing.  I got really lucky with mine.  She is a part of a book club I belong to and a fellow indie author.  She is pretty much brilliant.  Go read her books, Neeley Bratcher is her name. 


So, I had my book, and I was all ready to go, but I needed a cover.  I, unfortunately, am one of those people that totally judges a book by its cover.  I am a visual person, by nature, so I knew that I needed a cover that I would absolutely love.  If it wasn't something I would grab off of the shelf just based on the cover, it wasn't going to work for me.  What did I do,  you may ask?  Well, I went scouring the interwebs.  List after list of cover artist.  Some pricey, some moderate, some super cheap but not appealing to my tastes at all.  I began feeling a bit like Goldie Locks, until I found Syd Gill.  She willingly works with me, bringing my vision into a better reality than I ever could have created.  I have been extremely fortunate in finding her.  She is quick, reliable, and always listens to what I have to say.  There is always an open dialogue.  She is just fantastic and I won't ever give her up, so don't ask me!

What came next?  Well, publishing of course!  Then the overwhelming sense that I had just thrown a huge chunk of my soul out into the world unprotected.  When the reviews started coming in, everything changed.  My palms would get sweaty, I wouldn't know how to breathe or how to even cope with someone not liking it.  Inevitably, it does happen.  Not everyone will like the same things.  I think this is the hardest part for any artist, whether they be a painter, writer, crafter, whatever.  We are openly judged by unbiased individuals on a daily basis.  I've had to learn how to put on a thick skin and remember that one person's poor review does not diminish the fifty other great ones. 
How do I recover from it?  How do I deal when someone hates something that I love so dearly?  I remember that I didn't write the book for anyone but me.  So having other people like it is just and added bonus.  Then I remind myself that "No one can make me feel inferior without my consent."  E. Roosevelt said that!  When neither of those things work, I go and look at the reviews of books that I have absolutely LOVED...... and what do you know, even they have gotten bad reviews.  Sometimes it can feel like you are drifting alone in a sea of hate, so it is nice to know that there are other people in the same boat from time to time.

So, that is the end, right?  Nope.  It has been eight months since I hit publish on that first book.  Eight tiny months, and in that time I have re-edited the first book, learned to use Twitter, taken on Social Media, heck I just got a smartphone this week.  It is a never ending progression.  I've had to learn new things I never thought I would.  It is a constant march forward.  The best part about it though, I am willing to do whatever it takes to make these books succeed.  I will never stop craving advice.  In fact, I know of several author friends who probably wish I would.... Brandy, Belinda, Felicia, Magen, well the list is endless.....  but I won't stop asking questions.  I won't stop until I get to where I want to be.  I am determined to make Izzy's story succeed, and that determination is what will get me there.  It won't happen overnight, and it won't happen without me working at it.  I've emailed 80 bloggers just this week.  I am an unstoppable force, I tell you! 

So you want to be a writer?  Well, I will tell you what I wish someone would have told me going into this.  Writing the book is the easy part.  You want to succeed?  It is going to take work.  But if you have a great story to tell, and you are willing to push yourself harder than you ever have before, then it can happen for you! 

Just make sure you have support.  I know that I wouldn't be where I am today if it weren't for my amazing husband believing in me.  Or if any one of the people that has been a part of this journey wasn't there.  I have been incredibly lucky with the support and love of friends, fellow indie authors, and the blogging community.  Then there are my readers, who I just LOVE!  I am blessed, I know I am!  But I'm not stopping until I have emailed every blogger I can find, until I have made Izzy's story heard in every corner of the world.  The only thing that can hold me back is myself, my fear, or customs when I try to sneak across borders without a passport. 

Whatever your dream is, remember.... things take time and work. 

Michelle Graves

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