It’s been one year since I self-published my first novella. Boy was that an adventure and a half. Just months earlier I had written my first short story (Storm of Passion). The overwhelming positive feedback and encouragement I received from readers prompted me to write an expanded version of the original short story. Mind you, I had no prior writing experience or training, yet, I boldly went where I had never gone before.
The first draft of the manuscript was sent off to a small group of Beta readers who volunteered to give their feedback on my story, grammar, punctuation, etc. Their comments came back and I could barely make out the actual manuscript from their too numerous to count comments. I sifted through their notes and I made revisions to the manuscript. After reading my revised work, I created cover art for the book cover and then formatted the manuscript for submission to Amazon and Smashwords.
Already, I had learned some valuable lessons and more would follow:
- Importance of patience
Take the time to do it right to my fullest ability. Don’t rush.
My novel Auf Wiedersehen~Journey to Goodbye is the perfect example. It’s been three years in the making and it’s still morphing and improving as each day passes. This is the fourteenth re-write, the core story has not changed, but the manner of how the story unfolds has changed dramatically. Patience I tell myself – Rome was not built in a day.
- Importance of relying on the kindness of others
I could save myself time and frustration if I do it alone, but the final outcome is more rewarding if I recruit outside help. Beta readers for example, they were wonderful. But they had not been in total agreement with their generous comments and suggestions during the Storm of Passion Beta read. I took from the experience the comments I was in agreement and revised the manuscript of my first novella.
- Importance of editing & proofreading
Ok, here’s where I learned the valuable lesson about the importance of proper editing and proofreading. After the novella (Storm of Passion) was published, the reviewers comments were focused on the lack of and need of editing and proofreading. I will be the first to admit that I have no idea how to structure a proper sentence, my punctuation skills suck and I can’t spell worth a ding dong. But through my many flaws and inadequacies, I was still able to get the gist of my story across to most readers.
An author friend told me that there are three kinds of writers:
1. The technical writer: an individual that has the training and proficient skills to write professionally, but they aren’t as creative as a storyteller.
2. The storyteller: an individual that can mesmerize his/her audience with endless stories, but can’t write a proper sentence if his/her life depended on it.
3. The technical writer AND storyteller: an individual who possesses BOTH talents (like Stephen King or J.K. Rowling), but this kind of extraordinary talent only comes along once in a blue moon.
So, I’ve accepted the fact that I can weave a yarn (in fact quite a few) but lack the technical training and ability. There are lots of folks in this world that are more than willing to assist, if only I ask.
- Importance of formatting
Formatting a manuscript for self-publishing can be a chore and a headache. I read all the manuals and help hints and guidelines before I began my various forms of formatting for self-publishing. I applied all of the knowledge I had absorbed and began the online manuscript submission process. Overall, they came out ok, there were a few minor glitches I was unable to rectify.
Recently the importance of proper formatting slapped me in the face (big time) as I read a self-published book on my Kindle. The text was all over the place, and not on just that page but the entire book. It was difficult to follow the story and especially the witty dialogue. I limped through the rest of the book, just because I was drawn into a wonderful story. Had the book been better formatted, the read would have been much more enjoyable. After all, isn’t that what a reader wants, an enjoyable read?
- Importance of believing in myself
I’d have to say that the most important lesson I’ve learned is to believe in myself and to follow my dream. From the start, I realized that I had to block out the little voice inside me, the one that said I couldn’t do it. Because I ended up doing it! I had self-published my first book.
I had considered the suggestions and comments from Beta readers and took what I deemed the better of the advice and applied it to my writing. I never compromised my story, but willingly listened to the advice along the way. Ultimately, that advice vastly improved my story.
After the Beta read of my second novella Masked Identities, one of the Beta readers advised me to trash the whole manuscript as it was nothing but sheer crap. Sure, the comment stung, but I wasn’t about to let one person’s opinion squash my story. After all, for each story read, each individual reader will take away a different opinion. This particular comment had only been one person’s opinion. I forged ahead and self-published the manuscript. As of this writing, Masked Identities has two 5-star reviews posted on Amazon and additional 5-star reviews on other review sites.
- Importance of setting a goal
Right from the start, I was determined to write and publish my stories, because I had tales to share. I wasn’t writing for fame or money, I wrote to tell my stories. Sure, my books haven’t graced the best-seller lists, nor have I received huge, whoppin’ commission checks, but that wasn’t my goal. I enjoy weaving my tales and hope that one or two readers will be whisked away from reality for a few minutes and settle into the fictional world I create in the form of a written story.
Pulpit To Porn, my current WIP is just that kind of novella.
- What have I learned?
More than I could have ever imagined. I’ve traveled to places and periods in history where it would have been otherwise impossible. I’ve become intimately acquainted with colorful characters living within my imagination. I’ve laughed. I’ve cried. I’ve cheered. I’ve told my yarn.
That’s the reward of self-publishing …