So now that I’m all done moving in, I finally have some time to focus on writing. During the move and in the first couple of weeks of my first book being published, I was noticing something interesting. In my whole writing career, the biggest mental obstacle I struggled with was the need or desire for support.
How it’s good: When I published my first book on Amazon Kindle, I was a bit of a nervous wreck. It didn’t hit me until right after I clicked the “Save and Publish” button of the magnitude of my actions. It changed the way I have thought and how I spend my time these last few weeks and I highly doubt things will ever go back to the way they were. It’s exciting, but also terrifying. Like I said, when I clicked that button, my whole world started spinning and I couldn’t take a good grasp on what to do next. I made the mistake of doing this late at night so I hardly got any sleep. I had been sitting on that book for 3 years and never did anything more with it than read and edit. Letting go of it and releasing it into the world for anyone to read was a very big deal. If I didn’t have the support of my husband, Jared, I probably would have had something close to a nervous breakdown. Jared has always been there for me and supported me in my writings, even when I didn’t want it. He discovered long before I even realized it that writing was a coping mechanism for me. Working my imagination and creating these stories had a calming and hormone-stablizing affect on me. When I took my hiatus from writing for 3 years, he was livid. Only recently have I learned how protective he is over me and my work to the point that it’s probably the only thing we ever really argue about anymore. When I published “The Princess and Her Rogue”, he was there to keep me from emotionally crashing. He held me and told me it would all be ok and then started talking about how I’d sell a million copies by the end of the year. I don’t know how that will happen, but just knowing that he believes in me is encouraging enough. And the funniest part is that he’s never even read the book! But he says that he knows me and he knows my skill and he doesn’t have to read it to know that it’s good.
I’ve also learned the hard way why support for a writer is so important. When I published the book, I had only read through and edited the book once. I did read and edit it right after writing, but that was when I had completed it back 4 years ago now. A relative of mine, who also happens to be a writer, bought the book and told me that she enjoyed the story, but there were a ton of typos. I knew there would be the occasional word here and there like it should have been “he” and I wrote “she”, that sort of thing. It was going to cost hundreds if not thousands of dollars to get someone to edit it and I don’t have that kind of capital. But I didn’t know the extent of all those typos until she sent me a document where the mistakes are noted and corrected on. I was shocked, but then very grateful that she pointed them out to me so I could go back and fix them. I’ve since made those corrections and re-published it to Amazon, but I know I’ll be going over it with a fine-toothed comb again before setting to making the paperback versions. So, having other authors, writers or even just avid readers go over your work before publishing is not a waste of time. When I write something and then read over it again, I may be reading a word that actually says “exited” when it should really be “excited”. Because I knew what exactly I meant, I don’t think that it’s a mistake and keep on going. Just one of the many ways that the mind betrays you. Having a second, third, or even forth pair of eyes to catch those mistakes that we don’t intend is a fantastic idea.
So, I’ve talked about why support is important, but there’s a big point here I’m going to try to make of why support, or more specifically people’s opinions, don’t matter when it comes to writing.
I’m going to give one big example I have come across. When I first published the book, I set the price at $5 even. I was thinking primarily because of the length of the book, not necessarily the quality. However, while thinking on it, I realized that not even I would buy an ebook from an unknown author that doesn’t have any ratings or reviews for $5. It’s just not a reasonable investment unless I personally knew the author. So, in order to attract buyers, I lowered the price to $1.99. You will not believe the chewing-out I got from my husband and in-laws about it. They all took the stand on the point that when someone is skimming through the list and sees an author price their book that low, the person will think that the author doesn’t value their piece of art and therefore on a moral standpoint, the person will not buy the book because they will think it’s of poor quality. My mind was reeling on how this would even cross anyone’s mind. I certainly don’t think that when I’m browsing for books. I’m thinking of how much is in my bank account and if the story sounds interesting enough. It’s horrible to say, but we live in a society where people are going to be more concerned about what the cost of the item is before the need. If it’s cheap and looks attractive, they will get it. If it’s cheap and they don’t really need it, but are intrigued, they are more likely to buy it. If it’s expensive and they don’t need it, they won’t buy it. If it’s expensive and they really need it, or they know for a fact that the product is good, they will buy it despite the price. This last point is what I’d aim for in my writing career as a whole, but right now I’m just not there yet.
I won’t lie. It did upset me that they all thought this way and so strongly argued against me about it. It reminded me of when I told my mom I wanted to go to school for creative writing. She was adamant that it wasn’t going to be a fruitful career and getting a degree in it would be a waste of time and money. But, she let me do it anyway because I need to make my own decisions/mistakes. And that is my other point. No matter what people say, think or do, the choice is ultimately yours. It sounds corny, but if your heart is telling you to do something or your gut tells you it’s the right thing, then go for it and forget what anyone else says. I didn’t do this when I took my hiatus from writing. I let my whole world get shattered by one lady’s rushed opinions of my stories and it shouldn’t have even mattered. Really, if something matters to you that much, nothing that anybody says should change your mind. Having that firm foundation of “this is what I’m going to do, this is what I love, this is my life” is so important for writers and any artist for that matter. And the feedback I have gotten from my novel has been so flattering. Everyone – so far – have said that they enjoy the book. I never thought anyone would besides myself.
I used to be terrified of these horror stories about writers getting 40 rejection letters before publishing their first book with a publishing company. I thought “there’s no way I’m going to sacrifice one of my babies on the altar like that.”. But I was looking at it wrong. Yeah, they got a ton of rejections. But they got just one acceptance and now they’re as infamous as JK Rolling or Stephen King or JRR Tolkien. They kept trying and didn’t let it discourage them. And to answer the question of “Well, why did you self-publish instead of submitting to a publisher with the risk of getting a rejection slip”: My books are WAY too long to submit to a publisher. “The Princess and Her Rogue” is over 200k words and publishers and literary agents only accept manuscripts for under 100k words. When I complete a book that is less than that, then I will totally try submitting to a publisher. And I’ll do it knowing I have a great support team behind me.