Tag Archives: rules

Adventures in Self-Publishing #amwriting #MyWANA

I have four rules when I travel with students. The rules aren’t original to me, but I adopted them early on. After 18 years of taking 10-20 (or more) kids to journalism conventions, academic meets and educational trips to NYC, Boston, the UK and Europe, I can say with absolute certainty that the four rules work.      1. Be Nice 2. Stay Together 3. Have Fun 4. Don’t Freak Out.

My adventures in self-publishing started without any rules. I chose to publish my master’s thesis, Honor and Lies a YA historical, last summer with no real idea what I was doing. I followed that with Prodigal (now Grace is Enough) an inspirational women’s fiction. No idea what I was doing is kind of an understatement: as was evident in the formatting issues that plagued Grace. That was last summer.

Flash forward to this summer. It’s been a year, and I’m still not real sure what I’m doing. I’m writing like never before, and I’m having fun. But I’ve hit a few speed bumps, too.

Speed Bump 1: Formatting. Formatting an ebook is tough. I found a solution this week, at least for the .mobi platform: Scrivener. I’ve used Scrivener to organize and compose my books for over a year.  I had no idea how easily it compiled a book for .mobi until this week. Problem solved…I hope.

Speed Bump 2: Too Much Information. I’m inundated with ideas for marketing my books, and all of them seem like good ideas.  Scheduling tweets doesn’t work well for me, at least not the way I’ve tried. I love working with tweet deck in my dock so I can take breaks throughout the day, use the hashtags #amwriting #MyWANA and connect with other people out there doing the same thing I’m doing. It makes my day when someone I don’t know responds to one of those tweets and we can have a random conversation about writing. We share our struggles and our triumphs and the funny moments (like when I cut my toe on my flip flop tripping over the laptop cord). Problem solved for me, at least for now: use tweet deck and have fun.

Speed Bump 3: SELF DISCIPLINE. This is the biggest speed bump for me. I’ve learned this month that I MUST SLOW DOWN and pay attention to the details. And an absolute for me: just because I’m awake at 2 a.m. and feeling the euphoria of finishing an awesome scene, chapter or book doesn’t mean I’m fit to make publishing decisions. For me that means holding the book at least one more week and reviewing it again before posting, making a schedule and sticking to it, double checking every business post I make.

I still have a million questions about what to do and how to proceed. Paper or ebook only? Professional covers or my own PhotoShop skills? Linking my twitter to Facebook…the list goes on and on. I have books to read on the subject, and I belong to two self pub/indie loops, but so far what I’ve learned there is that for every right answer you think you’ve found, someone else has a different answer.

I’m going to focus on the writing. Is that a mistake? I don’t know. But for now, it feels like the right thing to do. And those rules I have for taking students on trips? They work for my adventures in self publishing, too. I need to remember that.

Current Book (click title to go to Amazon page): Dead Girl Walking by Elizabeth Lee: Sharlene Gallagher, teen scream movie queen, was the biggest thing to happen to Primrose, Texas. Until she died. 
Now Sharlene’s back as a guardian angel life coach. Only her real objective is a bit more intense. Her charge: figure out the identity of her murderer before high school junior Addison Karchusky falls prey to the killer. Enlisting Addison’s help without letting her know her life’s in danger? No problem…she hopes.
High school’s never been easy. Now it just might be murder.

When it’s just not that great

Spent last night going over WIP so I can hit the ground running today. The story has nuggets of greatness in it. Small, bite sized, miniscule, rollypolly-sized bits of greatness. Enough that I’m not going to throw it away and start from scratch. But man does it stink!

I know, I know. I broke the cardinal rule. I read the work I was writing with an editor’s eye instead of letting the right brain do its thing and create, breathe life onto the page, sing the song of “novelizing.” But it’s been two weeks since I looked at the pages and I needed to refresh my memory before I let the creative brain get down to business. It’s not pretty. In fact, it’s like I have this outline for a story with some interesting moments and some decent dialogue. But I don’t have a fully developed story, not by a long shot.

So I’m going to take this baby apart scene by scene, flesh it out, hopefully make it something great, something ready to see the world. It’s not going to be easy. It’s going to take patience. I’m going to have to SLOW DOWN. I need to remember this isn’t a cross stitch pattern. I used to do cross stitch. I’d get starte ,and I’d love the idea so much. Perfect little X’s that ended up turning into this beautiful photo made from different colored yarns. I’d spend hours and hours and hours working toward the end and then the end would be in sight and I’d rush those last X’s through just to finish, and sometimes, often, that meant sating up all night because I couldn’t stand to go to bed when I was so close to “the end.” I’d get this tingly feeling in my hands, this taste of “being done!” in my throat, this fluttery feeling in my chest. And the next day the picture would be complete. Messy but done. And I’d smile and congratulate myself on a job well done and start on the next one, promising myself that this time, I’d slow down so the last stitches were as pretty and perfect as the first. THe same thing happens when I write. I get started and I see the end of the scene a few words in and I write, write, write to get there, and somehow, I leave out the emotion and depth of the middle. Then I spend hours trying to make them something different, something better and people tell me that’s the way it’s supposed to work because the revision process that comes after the book is done is all about making the magic.

I’m going to try to do the magic now instead of writing the whole book and then mixing in the revisions. I know I’ll still have revisions to do when it’s all done, but hopefully I have something stronger to start with.

Wish me luck!