The First Road is the Bumpiest

When I first started documenting my journey as an author, which occurred before my first book became published, I demonstrated more diligence. This, I know. Now, it's been nothing but a complete roller coaster of emotions. Not only do I blog to connect with you guys, my audience and to help offer up a little bit of transparency--because to know me is to know that I'm as private as a detective, but I do it to help those who would like to get started as an author but find themselves struggling with the steps or the courage to even get it started.

But in my efforts to keep on blogging about this, I've fallen back some. Okay, well, way some. Lately it's been a slippery slope and sometimes a girl throws up her hands as says, "F it," when she gets overwhelmed and feels the need to have to choose between the angles of her writing business. As I've always stated before, we indie authors do a lot for our businesss and it just ain't writing, taking care of a family or going to work that needs our attention. This is not my moment of asking you to pass me a Kleenex or for you to cue the violins of pity. It's just fact. But let me add, sometimes I got to catch up on my TV shows. Yes! I said it. Well, hold up, don't suck your teeth at me--let me explain. You know I always have to.

Television provides visuals of fantasy (fiction living) and reality TV. I like to see how drama plays out. You begin to become an expert on these things, because let's face it, you don't want that level of entertainment in your personal life, and you also don't have one as interesting as scripted TV. So, you gotta escape and see how others do it.  You can study reactions, study personalities, really get into the psychology of it all. And that's my favorite part of human interaction whether in real life or TV--the psychology of it all. And did I mention I'm a movie goer? Absolutely. Though, I've chilled on that because I'd rather be writing than to leave my house for an expensive trip that may not pay off. Nuh-uh, girl done given Hollywood too much of her time and money from 2009-2015 just to feel like it was time to start evaluating how badly I wanted to see these fast-food quality flicks anymore. Talk about movies coming out like hot cakes made of kindergarten paste instead of real flour. Smh. Where has the pacing of making movies to ensure great reception by audiences abroad gone? Is it all about speed and super visuals now? Yes. And I didn't want any part of that anymore. We're talking about a woman who got up like everyone else and hated her job to the point of wanting to . . . Ew. I won't go there emotionally nor will I bore you with details. Though, you wouldn't be bored but, oh well, not elaborating. So, yeah, I'd spent too much time at work just to come home and give my money away at the theatres for a bad movie. I mean, it'd gotten to the point where my man and I would look at one another and be like, "You got me?" because neither one of us wanted to pay for trash anymore. Sad. But when you occasionally see a good movie--and I've learned to really take Rotten Tomatoes into deeper consideration when heading to a movie, I make sure the buzz is next to flawless now so I don't feel robbed of time afterwards--it's worth the reward because as an author, you get to examine these other writers tell their stories. Those visuals, facial expressions, reactions . . . I love to see how that all plays out because when you write, that has to be in your book, too. So, that's why I love movies and TV because it's endless studying of the overall craft of fictional entertainment by the usage of characters, real or fake, to make it all come to life. 

But like I said before, many, many paragraphs above, many things compete for our attention as authors. Indie authors, I mean. We have to have our spoon in every pot of sauce on the stove. We always have to look alive. You know how many authors throw release parties? Do cover reveals? Have takeovers? Yeah, I'm so bad at attending these events because I get so many invites in one week and then I think of the business aspects that need my attention so I decline to go. I feel horrible, but I know I'd have to set an alarm or I'd miss it or be out in public when I thought I'd have that time slot free. That's another thing about being a full-time author. Your schedule is open but filled at the same time. No two days are alike for me. I got numerous things to get done and certain days I'm able to achieve them than on others. The worst thing is when people assume that you can do things on a whim or at their beck and call. No, I cannot. Again, I have a business to run and no responsibility ever runs out. Never.

Do you know that writing will begin to feel like the smallest slice of your indie pie? Social media presence is a huge slice but it cannot get in the way of your writing! Nothing can. So when I feel my phone calling me to answer interactions or to post or to do anything website-related, I pull back if it will get in the way. Editing is just as demanding as writing. This is a great goal to get to. It means you've completed the first full draft of your book--you have a book, my friend. But what have I been preaching? That's the minimum bar you should hit, and after a while, you'll feel like, "Gee. Hurrah. I've written a book. Whoopty. Look at all the other high and insurmountable mountains I have to climb. Yes. That's what I've been saying. This business is relentless and will leave you behind. Write. Edit. Interact. Network. Market. Advertise. Study. Research. (No, never confuse study with research. They are no more the same than marketing is to advertising. Study means to learn your craft and all aspects in any way, shape, or form. Research is to dig up true and accurate information to support your book's plot.) And by the way, this week, I said, "Dawn. You are going to those online parties and events, no matter what." So I clicked 'yes'  to quite a few this week! 

Lately, I've been learning from my mistakes. Like not blogging as much. You become that neighbor who everyone thinks is dead because you were the one they used to see outside on a semi-regular basis talking to neighbors or at least waxing her car. I hear the knocks at my door, as quite a few concerned neighbors stop by my website to make sure I haven't given up. I'm here guys, I'm back, and thank you for checking in on me. You never want anyone to fall under the impression that you've given up, pooped out or died. Never. And I've done just that. 

So what have I been doing?  

I've been learning from my first-time attempts so when I release my next book, things will be smoother. I mean, publication and I are gonna fight! Well, we've smoothed things over but it wasn't without irritation on my behalf and game playing on publication's behalf. When I say back in December I was ready, not ready, to throw in the towel on my writing career-- boy! You don't know. Publishing my ebook made me wanna cry. And you know I stay G'd up. I don't cry. But Kindle kept playing and I was like, go head with that Kindle. Okay, it was taking one of my editor's inputs and displaying it in the uploaded book to be published. Say what?! Yes! After accepting or rejecting his input and not seeing it anymore, my Kindle version was!!!! And my format was a little off. Grrrrr. Kindle reps were NO help, they were lost. Then one Kindle lady had a brilliant idea: to ask a manager above her head! Whowouldathot? (Cue the eye roll here--thanks, hon). Then I was back in love with the Kindle department again. Say cheez! We can all be friends again. So, then I was determined to put my paperback up. This was the fun--no the best--part. Why? Because in the Kindle format, you cannot use special font and expect it to translate into the digital version. Nope. So like, my chapter titles are in special font and size. Nope. Not gonna happen. Everyone is a straight up basic G on Kindle. All letters are the same. But over there at Createspace, you can give promotions to certain letters and make them suckas shiiiiiine. And the book sizing is cool, too. You know, you choose 6 x 9 trim size and then go back to your document and make it a 6 x 9 as well and boom. Ya good to go. But can I tell you something? This, too, made me wanna cry.

My book cover designer does strictly ebooks. So I couldn't use my book cover for Createspace and this took hours to figure out. As a first-time publisher, you never imagine that your designer may only design for one format of books. Didn't know that until what, a year after he designed my cover. Oh! And he lives in the Philippines and his English isn't the strongest. But he can design his butt off and his rating is out of this world. So. When you find a book designer, make sure he or she does paperback as well. I reached out to him because I needed him to provide me with my source file, which he'd lost!!! Always buy your source file with your books. Anyway, I have him to do the last two designs of my trilogy, then I may switch, not totally sure yet, and then I have another designer, who resizes my book for paperback for only $25. She was a life saver. Imagine not knowing if you can use your cover after all and people have seen it and your whole mind and everything is wrapped around this one freaking cover! Author nightmare! But Lee Ching saved my life! She lives in South Africa with fantastic English so she and I just have a huge time difference but she gets exactly what I want. But guess what? Nightmare not gone. I released the paperback for $22.50 because I printed it at 1.5 spacing and thought it looked clean. But the book was 666 pages. Eeeeek. Why that number? And Createspace won't let you sell the book cheap with that many pages. This was the lowest price I could get! Who was I? Stephen King? But reluctantly, I did it. I put it out there. But it doesn't stop there. Had to pull the book off the cyber shelves, because there were a few mistakes that I couldn't live with. Like my sister-in-law pointed out, I had an H missing at the end of Pittsburgh. Gasp! My editors didn't pick it up, I didn't and neither did spell check. Perhaps it was because there is a place with that spelling but it ain't in Pennsylvania. So, between the 666, (my book looked like an encyclopedia but this made some readers happy), the few mistakes, and the need to make a single-line spacing to get the price down, I had to pull the book off the cyber shelves. Nightmare over? I think not. But remember, nothing worthwhile comes easy, and that chant played in my head more than any of my favorite songs. 

So, here I was reformatting my FN triple six pages, when, some lines wouldn't scooch up like I wanted. Y'all, some lines had extra space between them. Come onnnnnn!!!! So I called Microsoft after researching answers that didn't pertain to nor fix my problem, and the ONLY thing I got was, "We think this may be your document with an issue and we can fix that for $145." Me: "Excuse me? What?! So, you want me to pay $145 for line spacing?" Cue the music of doom and drama! Cue it! Were they FN nuts? Them shoe money right der. Me: "Well, can you at least email possible things to try first?" I was smart enough to know that an answer was simple and had to be in the program somewhere. Here I was with visuals of writing the devil's number of pages over again. Really? She agreed and we hung up. Hours later, after I thought that broad played me and gave up, she sent me an email. Yay! Checked it out and rolled my eyes. You should've see some of the suggestions. One of them, so simple and yet it filled me with such doubt--- Okay, imagine a blank MS doc page. The top has that banner of options and one of them is headings on the home tab. The one that says No Spacing AaBbCcDd? I clicked that and it helped! But that's not it, it wasn't consistent. You had to play around with the paragraphs and redo this and that but it was a cycle of steps I had to figure it out and once I did, then heaven appeared. I didn't have to rewrite my book after all or leave it at the devil number amount of pages with mistakes. Whew! So, Lee Ching made another buck off me because she had to readjust my 6 x 9 to accommodate 378 pages and not that other number. Createspace kept giving her lip about the spine but my genius girl figured it all out! It took about two days of going back and forth and you know the time difference is a butt but she she saved mine. So. Imagine paying your primary book designer twice but the second price not as steep. Imagine paying your other designer twice. But at least the English barrier paid off for my primary designer. Basically, when he lost my original file and asked me to send my book cover back to him, I made it clear I wanted it to be the exact same thing. When he sent it back it was brighter but slightly different and I almost chewed him out for it. He didn't get it so I relented and for me, it paid off.


See, above pic is brighter and highlights my name.


Original: A little more one-note darker. Not as good.


So anyway, after all that, yesterday, I finally made my way to the LOC to drop off my two copies, but when I got there they were like, you need the Madison Building. Gah! You hear less as an author because you get constant information in your ears ALL. DAY. LONG. So, if you ever visit D.C. or if you live nearby, like me, just know, don't go to the actual Library of Congress like me and climb all those stairs and face security checks. Just go to the Madison Building right across the street and you'll have a quicker security experience and no steps. Just smooth sailing four stories up to place your work of beauty in the arms of the Copyright Office. And when the clerk looks at your work and asks, "You wrote all this?" You nod with pride in knowing that all the humps and bumps were all worth it.