More than frail paper dolls….
So You Want to Write A Book
Self Publishing And Independent Challenges….
Obviously I have not been interested in posted lately and my latest style magazine, Too Cool ’82, is dragging along since I like to try new ideas that require some research and I don’t like sharing until the pages are exactly how I want them. And I have one too many things going on personally, including a move across the ocean, mental breakdowns, complete frustration, and all around disgust of my current loves- writing and designing. Don’t even get me started on social media and the fact that I lack any interest in sharing or becoming a ‘star’. Suppose I should have been a truck driver.
Nevertheless, I thought I would compile a list of the things that I have learned from being in the creative dumpster for over a decade while I continue to focus on my many rewrites. If someone would have given me a breakdown of the good, the bad, and the ugly prior to trudging down this unbearable path that has left me addicted, stressed, and waifly made, I may have run the other way. While loving writing or designing- the ideas just have to get out of my head or I’ll drive myself insane- it is not my life. My life is moving around, traveling, catching a sunset on a mountain top, and taking care of others 24/7, which obviously leaves little time to truly focus on my professional goals that others appear to achieve easily. Having done self publishing the most difficult way possibly, while still looking at agents, I have learned a few things from myself and others. I have never been a social person in any form, social media included, so jumping into something like writing seemed like a good fit until I realized how much time was spent on getting noticed through social channels, ads, etc. While some individuals may love that part, I began to wonder at what point do I finally get to go back to writing. A few things I learned along the way…..
- Do thorough research on everything from social media to formatting an e-book before even starting your outline for your story
- Make a decision upfront- self publishing or reaching out to agents. This was something I wobbled back and forth on for years since the logical direction pointed toward agents, but be prepared that 99.9% agents with dislike your work no matter what and you will see the exact same response on your e-mail nearly every single time. If your goal is to have your work in the stores with movie deals and others fawning over how amazing your book is, then an agent may be the way to go. That was never my intention- I just wanted to write stories and design covers and share them with those who might be interested. I went to school for design, which I love more than anything, and I fell into writing books by way of compromise even though I love piecing together stories, so I don’t have the degree that people want to see. I’ve never had the financial means or support to attend a prominent school or schools, and my dreams of working in the fashion industry were dead on arrival and flushed down the drain when I came to accept that life is truly unfair and I was going to have to put others goals and happiness above mine just so we could survive. Choices can make or break you.
- Kindle, iBooks, Kobo, Smashwords, or…. Again, before posting your novel anywhere do your research on every outlet out there because they are different and offer different directions. Kindle seems like an obvious place to start since they offer certain things, which I did, but I don’t think I would have gone that route again, especially if you’re writing novels in certain genres like romance or thriller/science fiction. Unfortunately, I’m not interested in historical romance or anything more specific. On Kindle alone, there are million upon millions romance, thriller, and fantasy novels, which make it nearly impossible for your work to be seen unless you have really great marketing skills and a large following. And there are a lot of other options out there, including your own website.
- Don’t waste a ton of money on ads. Yes, the exposure can help for certain individuals or work but not necessarily. You may just be dumping money that could be better spent elsewhere.
- While you may stress about certain aspects of your book, possibly your cover design or the perfect sentences, many readers aren’t focused on the two words in your 300 page novel that didn’t make the spellchecker. This was a part that I struggled with everyday. Instead of focusing on my storyline and jumping right in, I would get bogged down with every sentence or word that irritated me, and time would be wasted on many rewrites. Just stick to your story and don’t obsess or you’ll drive yourself insane.
- Start your story with your very first word. This was an issue that troubles me today even as I try to avoid the easiest writing trap. Readers are intelligent and don’t need everything to be explained. I am very introverted and spend 99.999% of my life in my mind and not talking out loud, so when I first began writing I had a lot of inner voices and explanations about what was going on or what a particular place looked like. While I like to paint a portrait through my storylines, readers may not want every detail to me known. Leave some mystery. Don’t try to explain every character and background in the first chapter- It’s just too much to take in and doesn’t leave anything to the imagination.
- Simple glitches…. Names that are too alike. Starting sentences with So, Then, Also, etc. Cover designs that are too busy or don’t represent your story. Separating perspectives. Go with shorter chapters- I’ve heard this many times from people who don’t have the time or patience to read thirty pages in one sitting. Make precise timelines, so the reader doesn’t have to wonder what or when something has happened. While agents will claim to hate this or that, there are millions of readers out there and rarely are they alike. Ignore the negativity, the disappointing comments, and trudge forward with what you know and love.
- Expect to hear how amazing everybody else’s books are, though they know you also write books but won’t give you the time of day because you’re not on a celebrities book club list. And expect the comparisons to keep coming. If you choose to write contemporary novels and write about what you know- which I did because I felt it was the simplest place to start when I had no formal background- get used to those around you comparing every little detail of your novel to your life and not being so kind about it. Expect and understand that others, even those close to you, have no idea how many hours you work, stress, cry, and thoroughly breakdown because your work just isn’t good enough, yet you’re expected to smile when others easily reach their goals. Expect that others who don’t even write books or other works, will get labeled ‘writer’ when you can’t even get acknowledged as someone who works at all.
- Be prepared that no one will care about your work that took you months, possibly years to perfect and share with others. While you may feel passionately about certain things and love what you do, others might not care at all- they may not even consider your passions and jobs that you put so many hours and effort into, a ‘real’ job. Most days you might feel like you’re on an antisocial introverted, writer’s island that others can’t relate to. But…. If you love to write, write. If you love to design, design. If it didn’t work the first time around, try again, and if you need to rewrite the entire book just to be happy, then rewrite it. Maybe you’ll never be world famous, well respected, or even sell a copy but at least you tried.
*Just a few things I’ve learned from going it alone on the dark, cold isolating road which doesn’t always inspire. My opinion only.
Coming Soon: Too Cool ’82
Inspired by my nomadic lifestyle from coast to coast to island paradise, Too Cool ’82 is a collection of rough & pretty dresses with a hint of grunge and tones of whimsy ombres. Made for the delicate flowers who love the shadier side of life.
Beginning with an unrealistic dream to a lifelong obsession with writing, designing, and creating, Paperwaif has become a creative outlet focusing on positive goals, style lines, and book vibes. Offering digital magazines and contemporary novels, Paperwaif’s story grows with each new direction.
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