When I set up this blog, it was designed for readers and writers alike to follow my writing journey. You may be aware that I have just released my new fantasy novella:
Upon reflection, I thought it would be good to detail the process I have followed from start to finish. So later in this post, that is exactly what I am going to do. But first I would like to say a little more about the purpose of this blog.
As I have progressed in my journey as a writer, I have realized that to be successful, I need to write for my readers. Not just more books, but blog posts too. Readers are my audience after all. I have tried to keep within the original model established when I started blogging, but have often struggled with the balance of content for readers and writers. Hence I started to add some book reviews, author interviews, etc… to satisfy the readers among you. Moving forwards I will try to maintain this balance, but if it leans a little more towards readers, then so be it, as I feel the pull in that direction. Those of you who read my posts from a writer’s perspective may just want to drop by now and again to pick out any posts that may interest you. And that is perfectly fine. Anyway, lets move onto the real content of this post, which I think may interest both readers and writers.
A Writer’s Journey:
So, I had already started writing a book when I began this blog, it was called ‘The Spirit Charm’. The quality of the content back then was poor, to say the least. I had never written a book before and I did not read at all. I was a huge movie buff and would take the movie over a book anytime. Hell, the only reason I started writing, was as a hobby to take my mind off the high pressure sales job I had at the time. And guess what? It worked. But something happened along the way – I started to enjoy writing. I completed the novel and then thought, ‘now what? Do I leave it in a drawer, never to be seen by anyone again? Or do I try to publish?’ I decided on the later, to see if I could get it out into the world of readers, where some of the time and effort put into creating the book might be appreciated.
Now I had my finished novel, I bought a book on publishing. It was a bit dated and referred to print publishing, but it introduced me to a heap of things I was ignorant about. Things like front matter, blurbs, sales pitches, copy editing and the idea of self-publishing. When I read the pro’s of self publishing there was really no other option for me. I wouldn’t have to wait for someone to discover me. I wouldn’t have to pitch to publishers and sit around waiting for a response. I wouldn’t have to change the content or my cover idea. I could have the final decisions and I wouldn’t have to give up the lions share of any sales after spending hours, weeks, months… dare I say years, on creating the book.
My mindset switched. I was now sure that self-publishing was the right way to go for me. I googled the crap out of self-publishing, read everything I could find about it, and soon came to the conclusion that if I was going to do it, I had to do it right. I did not want my work to be one of the many poor quality books saturating the market. So I joined a writers’ group.
My first meeting I did not submit anything for critique, I just went along to see what happens in a writers’ group. I got a feel for it after the first session. This was a critique group. They would read my work and give me valuable feedback, then the group would go for a coffee and some food and talk about all things writing. It was just what I needed. The next session I made a submission and pretty much got shreds torn off me. Thank the stars I had not put this book out to pasture yet! I took the feedback on board and found out a few home truths. My grammar was not as good as I thought it was for one. So I purchased a book on grammar and taught myself the rules as best I could. I started to critique others, I began to read, I also started writing reviews.
Time passed, as did the many meetings. I set myself up as an author, getting my business number, setting up accounts on KDP, CreateSpace, Draft to Digital, etc… I continued submitting my work and spent time editing, re-writing, correcting grammar errors, thinking about plot and structure, working on character arcs and pacing, getting rid of tropes, and I renamed the book – Blood Rage. There was so much had not known, so much I still did not know as an author. My tiny brain lapped it all up, soaking in the knowledge I needed to make my dreams a reality. Eventually, I felt I needed a break from the book. I popped it away in a virtual drawer on my computer, and began to work on short stories to hone my skills.
In the meantime, my writers’ group had decided to publish an anthology. I worked on a short story, something new that I had not tried yet – my first horror story. I had a lot of fun writing ‘Low Life’.
Not your typical horror I don’t think, but horror themes none the less. Fortunately, one of the other writers in the group had his own publishing house and took on the task of formatting the book for publication. Both Print copy and eBook copy. I decided I wanted to learn how this was done and I picked his brains on the details, making notes as I went. A few of the group members with editing knowledge and experience, went through all the stories for the anthology and sent them back to each author with edits to fix up. This was a real eye-opener for me. I had edited the crap out of this thing myself and they still found errors and provided suggestions on rewriting of certain sentences and rewording of certain words. I took the advice and the story became a better, smoother read.
We named the anthology ’18’, celebrating 18 years of the Vision Writers Group, and it was released around 6 months later. After all this time I discovered that I was not getting as much out of the critique meetings anymore. I had learnt that not all advice was good advice, that sometimes you need to choose right from wrong, other times you need to choose what is right for you. I had come a long way on my writing journey and now I was starting to teach others a thing or two (or at least give them my opinion), I felt I was finally adding value to the meetings. Having grown in confidence with my writing ability, I was ready for more. So the when the anniversary of our writing group came around, and we decided to do another anthology, I put my hand up to do the formatting.
It had been that long since I had gone through formatting, that I had forgotten everything and trying to decipher my notes was a task in itself. When I looked at the formatting notes I’d made previously, I realized I had no idea how this stuff was done. I willed the earth to open up and swallow me, but the earth goddess was not listening, so I had to learn how to format – fast! Luckily, Google is my friend. I spent hours surfing the net, researching, reading articles, etc… and finally purchased an ebook on formatting. The book had pages and pages of information about the how and why and it all made sense to me, but what I needed was a one or two page document to use as a guide. So I made one. I took the book and condensed everything I needed to know into a short document. I took my short story ‘Low Life’ and I began to practice. I applied my new instructions with the formatting code I had learnt from the book and… success! I managed to create an ebook. Next stop – Print.