Thoughts on Self-Publishing & First Drafts

Wow, it’s almost been 2 months since I last posted on my blog! I’ve been pretty busy with not just trying to wrap up my current round of revisions on TEROH but also learning as much as I can about (author) marketing. Particularly email marketing. I’ve even invested in a thorough course on the matter! (I was also struggling with some challenges at work that were affecting my mental and emotional health and making it difficult to give my story my full attention. I just didn’t have the energy.)

There was a time, not long ago, that the idea of self-publishing wasn’t even an option in my mind. I completely wrote it off. I thought it would just be too much work that I wouldn’t enjoy or be capable of doing. And then…I really started to research more about it.

Now, I still believe that becoming a self-published author will be a lot of work, but everything I’ve learned about it so far has been so utterly fascinating that I just have to give it a try. There isn’t a single aspect of this process so far that has me thinking, “Nah, I can’t do that.”

Because I know I can. So guess what? I’m going to. (More on that another day, I’m sure.)

First Draft Writing Shenanigans

When it comes to writing, my biggest challenge will be refining my personal process so that things go a bit smoother (and lots faster!) with my second novel in the series. (The cool thing about self-publishing is that I can work at my own pace and adjust my marketing efforts accordingly.) At the moment, I already have 4 scenes written for Book II—not to mention all of the main plot figured out! but more on that another day—because they were just so vivid in my mind that I had to get them on paper before that clarity eluded me. I stopped after that so I could focus on finishing revisions and edits on Book I—an ongoing process if there ever was one. But back to Book II.

One of my problems with Book I is that it began very heavy with information (which isn’t entirely avoidable when your story is set in a new world or unfamiliar time/place but can be mitigated), so this time, with the early scenes I wrote for Book II, I started with the things that came clear to me: actions, dialogue, pivotal moments. I wrote them en media res from the perspective of what was most relevant to the POV characters at the time. Then I layered in small hints of contextual information that would help the reader get a better understanding of what was going on—relevant worldbuilding details, character history…

Already, I feel a million times more confident in the quality of these initial scenes’ drafts than I ever did writing the first drafts of Book I! (I say “first drafts” plural because, if you know anything about this project, then you’ll know that TEROH has kind of seen a few “first drafts” over time.) In the past, I pretty much approached the first draft(s) from the perspective of a worldbuilder and layered in anything I thought might matter eventually, which is a common beginner’s mistake. (You just have so much to share about your new world that you literally don’t even know where to begin!)

Assessing one scene at a time as its own independent unit really helps me stay focused when I’m writing, I’ve realized.

Oh, the things you learn…

Revisions & Editing

In other news, I’ve found an editor to work with on TEROH!

After reviewing his work with past clients and sending a 2,000-word excerpt of my story to him for a free sample edit then snagging a sweet deal on his editing services, I decided to work with someone who has edited books (especially indies) that have seen decent success (on Amazon, at least) and had experience with multiple genres but fantasy in particular, since my story is essentially an eclectic fantasy. I felt he gave some great advice in my sample edit and has some good insight and an eye for the things I lack, so hopefully, it works out pretty well!

Even though I won’t be ready to work with him until another month or so, I went ahead and reached out to him a little early because I was really concerned about pricing and trying to figure out what to budget. I’m extremely grateful that he was able to lock me in for a deal that makes it super affordable for a first-time indie author with a sizeable manuscript on her hands. (Editors typically charge per word—usually under $0.10, depending on the type of edit—which really adds up if your story isn’t already on the shorter side.)

Anyway, I won’t go into specifics about who I’m working with yet and whatnot; I’m funny about these kinds of things until we’ve gone the distance a bit (chalk it up to my dating experiences?), but I’m pretty sure I’ll talk more about it later! In the meantime…

Yup, revisions.

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