Adventures in Amazon
Taking the leap into self-publishing…
So, I wrote a book this year. Granted, it’s not a particularly good one, but my 50th birthday was on the horizon, and I figured that I should do it before I couldn’t remember my own name. Ironically, I chose to write under a penname – which I battle to remember. Once I got going, it occurred to me that this was not the sort of stuff I would want my mother to read. Paranormal romance is not for the faint-hearted. My work sizzles in a slightly twisted way.
Publishing my book wasn’t the only thing I took years to get to. I had my kids late too – Boy 1 arrived when I was 38, and Boy 2 popped out at 42. Would you believe that the medical fraternity refers to this as a ‘geriatric birth’? Like they couldn’t decide if they should give me a stroller or a zimmer frame when I left the hospital. Anyhow…babies and perimenopause…probably not great planning. My friends have kids who are moving out already, while my lot are still in prep school. Writing has to fit in between cleaning, ‘momming’, and ‘wife-ing’ – which is probably a challenge most mothers face. I imagine this is why women are natural multi-taskers.
Over time, my brood has learned not to disturb me when I’m writing, which is one of the reasons I love it so much. It’s ‘me-time’, yet everyone is convinced I’m being really ‘busy and important’. When the kids were tiny, I used to fling a handful of M&Ms into the garden for them to scramble after – now, I just plug them into the WiFi. It doesn’t work on husband so I’m considering getting him a subscription to P*ornHub…but I’m a little afraid of raising expectations. I’m not winning any Wife- or Mother-of-the-Year Awards. But they seem to love me, so that’s a plus.
Bye-bye Woman’s Lib
Until four years ago, I also had a full-time career in publishing – journalist then editor then managing editor and eventually editor-in-chief. This made life really interesting (read ‘stressful’), especially since my husband’s job involves regular travel, sometimes for weeks or even months. Between deadlines, school-runs, and managing the household, there were days when I honestly thought my head would explode.
When Darling Husband told me that he could provide me with an allowance that matched my salary (dammit, I really hate the male/female salary divide), so I could stay home. I jumped at the chance. Okay, there are millions of women who might think I compromised my feminist integrity, but those first few months of not hating Mondays were sheer bliss. Not to mention shopping, lunching with friends, attending my boys’ special events, taking holidays without begging for leave-time months in advance…*happy sigh*
But then boredom set in and I started taking on small editing projects. One client is also a dear friend who has carved out a career writing PNR (paranormal) and regularly ranks high on Amazon. I’ve developed immense respect for her incredible work ethic. After working with her for a couple of years, she finally convinced me to take the leap too. And this is what I learned:
Writing books is a job.
More than that, as a writer, you are a brand attached to an entire organization – which is made up of just you (unless you’re lucky enough to have a budget to hire help – I hear VAs are the new best thing). You will research your market, create a product, distribute it, and promote it. Let’s not even get into finding reviews, understanding keywords, tracking down an editor, having a cover designed, and getting your ebook formatted. (I’ll happily share my adventures in those avenues to those who are interested.)
Take off your pants
Writing is actually the easy part – but it has to be done every day, whether you’re feeling creative or not. Do yourself a favor and plot your story in advance – ‘pantsing’ is great for hobby writers, but if you want to make this your career, you have to have a plan. Luckily, there are some great resources that can make the process easier. But back to that writing…you have to be OCD about it. Skip a day, and you’ll be faced with the mammoth task of building momentum again.
Do. Not. Stop. Writing. Everyday.
Also, there’s also no room to be precious about it. You can join writing groups about purity of prose – it’s good to hone your craft. But if you want to be a career author, be prepared to compromise. I’m lucky because after nearly three decades in publishing, I’ve learned that there are far worse things than ‘prostituting my writing art’. Like actual prostitution, for instance! No, that’s a tasteless joke…but there’s truth in it. Having edited literally billions of lines of text, I can understand why writers are attached to their words. They don’t always come easy. Sometimes we sweat them out. Sometimes we bleed them out. The harsh reality, however, is that if they don’t resonate with some portion of society, they’ll never earn us a living.
Which is why I published my little book with no expectation of accolades or vast financial success. Taking my name off it also removed my ego from the process. If it bombs, I’ll learn from the experience and try again. However, I had to get it out there so it could set me onto my new journey – which is turning out to be the most amazing adventure! My second book is nearly done, and I already feel like I’ve been able to apply my initial lessons to the process. If you think you have a book in you, I honestly recommend that you give it a try too.
Have questions about my journey that might help you with yours? Are YOU ready to take a leap into self-publishing? Pop a note in the comments section.
Brigitte Billings writes under the penname BE Brouillard. If you enjoy steamy paranormal romance (and you’re not her mom), you can check out her first book here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B089H18568 If you like it, please leave a review, and then look out for the next one…it’s going to be even better!
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Tales From The Trenches Are The Real Life Experiences Of Authors And Freelance Writers. Learn from their experiences!