I can't believe it's been a year since I hit publish on my first novel, Hold My Heart.
Since then, life has kept me busy with surprises I didn't see coming, while the MIP of Break My Heart waits patiently -- just as readers have.
I love that readers can identify with my characters; I love that they continue to talk about the book months after they've read it. I love that they tell their friends and family 'you have to read this book' just like I have about books I've loved. And I love their passion when they talk about Ileana, Tommy, and Will...Mostly Tommy...
but still, I love it!
During this past year, I've also released a 'novella' called Meant To Be. It's the story of Brad and Chris Nelson, how they met, and how Chris became once again, a very important part of Ileana's life.
The reason why Meant To Be came along has to do with my writing process. I get to know the characters as they introduce themselves. I put my fingers to the keyboard and they tell me who they are, about their families, their greatest fears, what makes them happy, and about their past. That's what happened with Meant To Be. What began as a story for my eyes only, turned into a story within itself.
But with all the joys of seeing your work welcomed with open arms, there are some ugly truths about publishing no one tells you about.
First lesson: Why not get an agent, or query? I mean, if I'm good enough, I'll get signed...right?
Publishers like what sells. Not an out-of-the-box, different, multi-genre romance written by an unknown. I could have followed the process, and say in ten years, Hold My Heart might have been discovered...maybe.
So what's the alternative? Self-publishing.
I'll just publish the book myself. Easy right?
Second lesson I've learned: No one tells you how costly it will be.
Not only financially, but emotionally as well. Years of polishing, writing classes, workshops, re-writes, revisions, editing, cover design...All out of pocket. Believe me, it adds up.
I guess it would be less costly if I did away with things like say, editing, proofreading, cover design...
If academia has taught me anything, is that communication is life.
Which means as a writer, editing is priority one!
I'm so blessed to have the best copy-editor extraordinaire Debbie Robinson, from Palm Tree Editing as my BFF, and the best content editor bad-ass/word YODA Lea Burn, at Burn Before Reading. There are many so-called 'editors' out there. Beware. Finding a good content editor that will care about your work as much as you do? That's like trying to win the lotto. I could have gone with hype, but I chose to go with the best.
Grammar. Is. King.
In case you're wondering, yup. That's me finding a typo.
Okay, so, maybe nix cover design? Have you seen the cover of Hold My Heart by Regina Wamba from Mae I design and Photography?
Boom. She's amazing.
And The Cover of Break my Heart? Well, just wait. She Rocks. Thank you Amy Bartol, for pointing me in the right direction. Had I not gone to Regina, this amazing cover would have never been.
So, if you're an aspiring author and you're a perfectionist like me, this could be a problem. Because when I set to do something, I have to do my best, and that means working with the best. Taking my time. Reading, Researching, Re-writing, Re-reading...polishing, re-polishing, you get the gist.
There's those independent authors that are not only incredibly talented, but came years ago, at a time where indie publishing was new to readers. They've done very well.
But nowadays, you can't throw a shoe at Amazon without hitting an self-published author like me (and many others).
Which brings me to the Third lesson I've learned: Marketing.
"Have you taken ads, contacted blogs, done marketing, networked?"
ah, no. I mean, the book is there...if it's good, they'll read it, right?
I had no idea that all the while, I had to promote, promote, promote.
Which to me, it's a problem because I'm horrible about promoting myself. I perceive it as imposing. Bother people to buy my book? Pester bloggers to share my links? So yeah, I suck at promoting.
Big hurdle when you're a self-published author. So take it from me, if you don't like to 'toot your own horn', 'network', or 'schmooze', this is a serious issue.
Yeah, that's me when I think of promoting.
I've had days when I want to quit, stop writing, ask myself why do I bother? I go months without selling one single book. Life goes on, and my day job keeps me busy while helping with the cost of self-publishing. I think how much easier my life would be if I just took on more work instead of throwing my writing into the proverbial sea of words and hope I make a ripple.
Then I get a reader's note, a quick message just to say they enjoyed my book, helping me come to my senses. I'll finish what I started.
To those readers, friends, and family that has supported me, I thank you all.
Most of all, thank you for loving my characters, immersing yourself in their story, and taking a chance on Hold My Heart - even if it's not your 'cup of tea', or not your favorite genre, or it's from an unknown author.
So, I guess I should mention HOLD MY HEART is on sale: .99 cents until Dec. 10th in honor of my one-year publication!
If you like what you read and want more to hold you over, check out Meant To Be available NOW.
Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B016B63B52
Until next time. Again, thank you from the bottom of my Heart.