About six years ago when my daughter was just a few weeks, I was attached to the breast pump for 20 to 25 minutes several times a day or nursing. At that time I felt that I was only a milk producing body and would stare blankly into TV to pass the time. I decided that I should do something that would make my brain spark with productive thought. I started to pick books from New York Times bestseller list and read them on my kindle, while the breast pump was monotonously suctioning food for my child. Some books were impressive and some disappointing and surprised me by being considered a bestseller at all.
“…I should do something that would make my brain spark with productive thought.”
I decided that based on what I had read that I could write a book myself. I always liked intertwined story lines, romance, and history intrigued me. I quickly formed a beginning and an end of my first novel. Experiences from the past and stories from my family started to fill the blank pages as I created my characters and the world that they lived in. I was exhilarated. I wrote at home, I wrote in my car while waiting for my son to finish with his tutor. My fingers moved fast on the digital keyboard of my cell phone (yes, most of my first book was written on my cell) as the story kept moving forward until I hit about 30,000 words. Slowly life began to push out my new found hobby. I went back to work. Mundane tasks of cooking, cleaning took precedent. Doubt started to shrink my elation about being a writer. I didn’t know anything about publishing a book. What could I really do once my story is finished? Would anyone even want to read what I wrote? They probably wouldn’t even like it. How do I actually have this published?
“I decided…that I could write a book myself.”
The story started to feel too simplistic and so I put it away for a few years. Only my husband kept on gently nudging me to keep on going. He forwarded me a Facebook event by a local author who was offering a workshop about self-publishing and urged me to sign up. Eva Natiello-Lesko was the author who I met at The Book House, a local bookstore in Milburn NJ. There, she told me and another six budding writers about her own journey in writing, self-publishing, and taught us steps and tools that she thought helped her. My wings of inspiration fluttered when I left the workshop. I was given the knowledge and the encouragement that I could and should continue with my writing.
I finished my first novel, Eyes of Amber in three months after that workshop. I thought that I was done with the hardest part of writing a book. I had yet so much to learn! First came a round of beta readers and self-editing. Then, I researched an editor and settled on Michael Pilgrim, who did my developmental and copy editing. After I was finished with editing, it was time for a proofreader to go over my manuscript. I was surprised how many little mistakes were still found by her after so many rounds of polishing. My eyes and my brain knew the words of my novel so well that they refused to see any errors.
Out of this whole process, the hardest part was writing a blurb: a few sentences that would peak a reader’s interest and make him or her chose my book. I lost track of the number of versions I went through and I still think it can be better. When my proofreader was finished, I sent the book for formatting and the most exciting part cover creating. It came out beautiful, nothing like I imagined, but everything it should be.
“I had yet so much to learn!”
I grew impatient. I wanted my book to be out. I was proud of my accomplishment. I sent my manuscript to a few agents, received a few rejections, but I was not disappointed. I had a plan. I decided to self-publish my novel. The process was easy, streamlined by Amazon print on demand service KDP. I also uploaded my book to IngramSpark for wide distribution of my paperback. But this was not the end. No one would see my book in the endless ocean of other publications. I had to work on finding book bloggers and send out my book for reviews. I sought out opportunities for author interviews, author take overs, and author giveaways. I attended indie author events at local book stores and libraries, anything that would get me noticed. I created a website, a Facebook, and Instagram profile. Slowly the sales started to trickle in. I wouldn’t be able to make a living off my book sales just yet, but it was exciting to see that my book was read in Germany, Australia, UK, Canada, and US.
“I decided to self-publish my novel.”
I wrote my second book within the next year, and just sent my third book to my editor. I hope to publish it in the Fall of 2020. I love the process of taking care of my books once the story is finished. I learned to be more patient with pushing out the story into the word. I am taking my longest time with my third book to get more advanced reviews. I am learning more about AMS ads on Amazon. They already helped me sell more copies of my book. I also revamped my website and added a blog, something I resisted for a long time. I read success stories of indie authors and find it fascinating when writers can put out several books a year. Thousands a day word count is something I am hoping to achieve someday.
My advice to new authors is to not rush. You want your reader to read the best version of your writing. Make sure you invest in a professional editor. To write you have to keep writing, every day, it can be just a few sentences, but it will keep you moving forward. Seek out advanced reviews so that on the day your book is published it will already have stars and reviews. It will help with your book being noticed by readers.
Writing gives me a deep feeling of satisfaction that I am creating something tangible. I want to be better, faster, and more successful as a writer. I will continue writing books that I myself would enjoy as a reader.
Below is the list of helpful groups, tools, websites, and recourses that I used in my self-publishing journey. Good luck and if you have any questions you can always contact me via my website at www.anyastassiywrites.com.
20Booksto50K for all about Amazon Advertising
Ask A Book Editor for all your editing questions
Beta readers and Critiques a group to find just that
Indie Cover Project you can ask advice on your covers and blurbs
The Writing Gals Critique Group is very helpful with rapid release strategies and blurb help
Book Nooks Reviews and Fun a group where you can ask for reviews and promote your books. They are super friendly.
Where Authors Begin can be helpful
www.independentbookreview.com is accepting books and provides free review.
www.thebookdesigner.com is the site where you can submit your book cover for a contest and get more exposure
www.ebooklaunch.com is the service that I use for my book covers. They offer other editing services as well
www.helpingauthorssucceed.com is the website for my author Michael Pilgrim who I highly recommend.
www.goodreads.com a website for readers to find your books and leave reviews.
www.kindlepreneur.com is a compilation of website for your book promotion
Publisher Rocket is software that helps with keywords, AMS search words and categories for your book to succeed on Amazon
IngramSpark is the service for your wide distribution
www.booksprout.com for your advanced reviews
http://linktr.ee this is where you can put all your social media accounts, website, merchandise webpage under one link.
www.mybookcave.com is a great site for author promotions
www.writerunboxed.com is a very helpful source for writers. I love their newsletter.