Our friends over at Kirkus are posting a weekly writing and publishing blog that lends practical advice from experts and “How I Did It” stories from some of the nation’s most successful authors and self-publishers. And they’re sharing it with IndieReader.
I didn’t want to be a writer; growing up in a small farm community in rural Oklahoma, it never occurred to me that I could. Writing was for intellectuals, Ivy League graduates—not me. I dreamed of being a famous singer, a pet adoption agency owner or a marine biologist who rocked a wet suit at Sea World.
The day I told my best friend Beth about a story that had been simmering in my head for five years was the first day of the rest of my life. Beth insisted I sit down and write, so I did. Chapter after chapter arrived in Beth’s inbox, yet she always begged for more. I obsessed about the story, so much so that my not-so-enthusiastic friends began grumbling to each other, wishing I would stop talking about that damned book. This work in progress, Providence, consumed me. Eleven weeks and 184,000 words later, I typed: The End.
I researched as much as I could about getting an agent—from writing a synopsis and a query letter to following agent blogs. I sent out 15 queries, and 14 rejection letters came back. The last, however, was not a rejection. Agent Jennifer Jackson offered me advice, encouragement and steered me in the right direction. Providence’s word count was enormous for a debut novel, so she suggested I cut it in half or break it down into two volumes. In hindsight, I wish I had done the latter. Instead, 60,000 words met their demise. After completing the revisions, I sat down to write my second round of query letters.
I couldn’t do it. I didn’t want to.
Instead, I decided to write a different story—something less paranormal, something more like I used to write when I was in high school. I titled the new book Red Flag and, without so much as an outline, began typing. Seven weeks later, Red Flag became Beautiful Disaster. The plot wasn’t as intricate as that of Providence, but it sure was a hell of a lot of fun to read.
A couple of months later, I decided to self-publish Providence but struggled with figuring out the right approach. Ebooks weren’t something I knew much about, so I focused on print. That first year, I might have sold 300 copies. I also became friendly with self-published author JR Rain and he didn’t mince words: If I didn’t format my book as an eBook and upload it to every digital retailer I could find, I was nuts.
Read the entire post with Jamie McGuire here.
Author photo courtesy of Trisha Johnson.