My second post of the day as ‘guest author’ – I can’t talk about myself in the third person too much on this blog as it leads me to feeling slightly unhinged 🙂 Anyway, as a guest of myself, I thought I’d use my post this year to talk about my writing journey, like some of our other guests are doing. These are always some of my favourite posts to read because everyone has a different tale and experience to share. It has been quite a while since I last did a ‘writing journey’ post – around this time of year in 2012 to be exact – and so there was a lot for me to take in when I came to writing one this time.
The main difference between then and now is time (obviously!) and practice. Back in 2012, I was new to the whole promotion, Goodreads, blogging, social media cycle, side of things with writing and releasing a book. Before then, it had been me and a laptop, my scraps of paper and notebooks and my story – I was writing what I wanted, when and how I could manage it and more than anything, I was just writing stories for myself very occasionally sending them off to an agent or publisher, but not really thinking about publishing what I was doing.
When I got the time to finish the book in late 2011, was when self-publishing was starting to become a ‘thing’. I had my precious Kindle and had picked up some Indie books and when I saw what was being done, I just figured ‘why can’t I do that’? I was never organised enough for repeatedly ploughing through the Writers and Artists Yearbook, marking all the agents and publishers that might accept an approach for my book and then seeing it through to sending the required synopsis, excerpt manuscript, cover letter… I did it a few times for some children’s books I’d written and each time changed my approached or went away and did months of re-writes and adjustments when I got a response back. To say that the traditional process was slow, was an understatement: up to 12 weeks to wait for a reply each time you submitted, only submitting to one at a time (which is professional courtesy) and then whatever I did after that.
So, for Hope’s Daughter, I researched some companies and looked at how Amazon were doing things at the time. The formatting for submissions wasn’t as easy as it is today – now that they are well on top of their game – and so I went via BookBaby, who was also just getting started and did all the conversion to various formats, collected your royalties with removing commission and made it very easy to put the book out there. It was only after I’d released the book and I’d promoted to friends and family, I realised that I wasn’t about to set the Top Ten book charts on fire with such a small readership.
So, as with any new project, I went off to learn about how I could market my book. Early days I shared excerpts on sites like Scribd and then discovered Goodreads and reader blogs… Two things I had never even heard of before, but which have become central to how I look at the writing – reading – publishing triangle these days.
From here, I went into the promotion side of things wholeheartedly setting up the various accounts, starting my blogs, including this one, as I found myself enjoying engaging with other authors as much as readers. I also spent that much time on Goodreads I became a Mod for quite a large group, as well as trying to get reviews for Hope’s Daughter and some promotion via blogs. I also took up reading again, cramming a huge 52 books into the year, alongside trying to write more and promote as well (did I mention I have a full time job?) all in the interest of networking with readers and bloggers.
2012 was a crazy merry-go-round if you like, one focused on all the new stuff I was learning about being an author. By the end of the year, I realised I’d done very little writing, just promotion of one book and ALOT of blogging about books. So, for 2o13 I set myself the target of completing book 2 and cut back on blogging and reviewing for others. I did the same in 2014 and have been trying to do the same this year, to get more writing time in, because if I don’t write any books, it doesn’t matter if I can find people to read them 😉
It is hard to find the balance, although three and a bit years in to the indie publishing scene I think I am getting there. At the moment, I’m getting up earlier each day to squeeze in an hour of writing, editing or blogging, with the idea of little and often keeping things moving on. The drafting and editing side of things also gets easier as you become more practiced at it, so overall, I’m hoping to get more productive as I go along…well, that’s the plan anyway 🙂