Refocused, reenergized and ready for more...
After Frantic February - getting the book ready for launch - and Mental Breakdown March - where the release and work and life brought me to my knees - we're now into Astonishing April, where we reclaim control of our life and make all of the impossible dreams a reality.
Ok, I'm being hopeful, but to be fair that short description of the last few months isn't too far from the mark. February was a rush of editing, cover design, reviews and the final touches of the book before release. I think it actually worked out fairly well, and so far this release has been what I would consider one of the best launches I've had yet. In hindsight, I probably shouldn't have tried to cram building a website and cementing the foundations of the business side of things into the same time period, but we live and learn. On the bright side, all that is done now, and I just need to maintain and slowly grow.
Part of the process of maintaining and slowly growing is keeping up with the blog, and I seem to have found a pattern of Monday blog posts, which works for me. It's a good day for reflection of the weekend, what I've accomplished, and looking ahead to the coming week.
So that's what we'll be doing!
First and foremost, I've added more short stories to the webpage! There's four in total now, ranging from some I really enjoy (The Man with the Green Eye) to some that showcase the very early start of my writing career (Thanks for the Ride), and everywhere in between. Which actually leads me to a point about my entire idea with this writing thing that I would like to explain.
When I first published Fall Winds Blow, I really wasn't sure what I was doing. I'd written a story, people around me were telling me that it was a good read, and I had always had a dream of being a writer. After finding out that I could make that dream a reality for basically completely free, I jumped at the chance. Finding Reedsy (thank you for being a free formatting platform, among everything else you do) to format the inside of the book, finding Canva to create the cover design, and finding friends to beta-read/edit the story was the majority of the work I had to do. The world of writing had opened up to me, and the dream was closer than ever.
But with one short novella self published, could I really call myself a writer? An author? It couldn't be that easy. I'd done it all myself, with no quality control, so how legitimate was it, really? (This is called imposter syndrome and it's a joy, let me tell you.) However, the first book sold alright thanks to friends and family and people interested in this "book" that I had produced, which made me think that I could continue. So I started on the second one, which was a nightmare of learning. It took two years to finalize it. I learned so much in that time, about writing and publishing and marketing and "being an author". It was a magical process, but it was filled with things that I couldn't see the benefit of at the time.
One of those things was the small collection of short stories I produced. In my attempt to cement myself as a "legitimate author", I started working on and submitting short stories to online publications. Having someone else sign off on my work as publish-able was something that I felt like I needed to have under my belt. Then I could call myself an author! So I rambled for 2,000 words here and there, shooting the stories out to wherever I could. A lot of authors only focus on submitting work to publications that pay (everyone wants to make money from their creations, so I don't blame them), but I sent them to all takers. Paid, not paid, I have to pay for expedited feedback, I didn't care. I just wanted someone to read them and tell me there were good.
Spoiler alert: that didn't happen.
Now, I got some good feedback on the stories, don't get me wrong. A few places even said the magical words, "While this story doesn't fit our current need, we'd love for you to send more work in the future". But I never got "officially published", and that wore me down for a while. I'd stopped working on the novel while I was focused on becoming a real author, and during that time I realized something.
I already was a real author.
People can say that self-publishing is the "easy route" or "anyone can do it" and that's fine because I beg you to try. I tell people I'm a writer now and some will say, "Oh, that's awesome, I've always wanted to write a book!" or "I've been working on a novel for years now, one day it'll be ready." and I know that 95% of those people will never actually finish it. That's not a dig at those people at all, writing is hard, but it's more a validation for myself. If 95% of the people that want to be writers never actually do anything with it, the 5% that do get to the finish line and produce a work almost automatically have to become "legitimate". With that new perspective on the writing game, I hopped back into finishing the novel, got it done, and released it. PsyConics came out with a real, professional cover, and a real attempt at making sure the story was up to snuff. The release was planned better as well, and the buds of the author business side had started sprouting with the Facebook and Twitter pages I'd created.
That was the start of the idea I had for this writing journey. I was thinking about hiring MiblArt (they've done both novel covers and are amazing) to remake the cover of the first book after seeing their work, and it seemed like a good idea, but then I realized something. My Amazon page, my entire journey into this writing sphere, was a learning experience. Why not showcase that experience. If I was feeling this way about my writing and legitimacy, others probably were as well, or would in the future. Why not leave the original book up, work to make each new book a better product and a better experience. Then, even if I never become a famous, rich author living in the woods and telling stories, I can at least show people the journey I'd taken along the way.
And that's what the short stories on the page are about as well. Showcasing the journey. As I said, none of them were ever "officially published" and none of them ever provided the validation I was looking for, but they represent the journey, and that's something that I like displaying. A peek into the process. Some are old, written while I was still exploring, and show the learning process as it was happening. I don't expect anyone to think they're amazing. I don't really even expect anyone to read them. What I hope, though, is that if they do read them, they can appreciate them for what they are. Building blocks.
Now that I've rambled for way longer than I expected, go check out the shorts! Or the novels! Come along the journey with me. It's a fun experience full of growth and potential, and you never know what might come next.