My Journey With Publishing

  • November 9, 2016
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  • Author: Caroline Hemingway

When I started out writing, I had no idea where it was going to go – I simply started writing ¬†because I had a story that wanted to flow out of me, I was broken emotionally and writing was therapeutic. The further into it I got, the more excited I became and the words just happened. It wasn’t an overnight event – my first book took me six years to complete, and even now I am glaringly aware of its shortcomings, its inadequacies and the errors; but I finished it and that in itself was a huge accomplishment for me. Then I had to overcome feelings of “it’s not good enough” to take the plunge and self-publish.

I pushed the fear aside and did it.

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It was not a quick process once again, because before I could publish I had to format my book. Simply writing it on a word document wasn’t sufficient. I knew nothing about formatting, line spacing, paragraphs, margins or numbering pages. YouTube became my best friend as did other author sites. I watched numerous videos and read articles till I figured it out. It took time and patience (something I sorely lack). Finally when I had it all sorted out format wise, I then had to begin editing it. I had to read, re-read and re-read my book many times. My daughter also read it and helped me with it. Sometimes I thought I would never want to read or write again – I was THAT sick of it. Finally I got to a point where I knew I had to be satisfied with it. If I didn’t, I would always look for imperfections, errors and excuses not to publish.

I researched various publishing options and even had a few vanity publishers hounding me constantly to use their services, but I finally decided to do the whole process myself. My reason for this was three-fold: ¬†1) I was afraid of rejection from publishers and the reason I originally started writing was to get over trauma which included rejection (so I didn’t want to go there again) and 2) I didn’t have thousands of dollars to pay someone else to do it for me in the hope that they delivered on their promises and finally 3) I wanted to be in control of my work – I wanted it published the way I wrote it, to look and be the way I chose.

So I researched various self-publishing sites such as Lightning Source, Lulu and others; but finally I settled on Createspace. What I like about them is that the actual publishing process was easy to follow and navigate and they gave me enough feedback to help me through the process relatively stress free. I also liked that I could order a proof copy of my book in print before I published it. This has been essential for me and seeing it in print (even if there are errors) really inspires me to write better and to continually improve in the process. Createspace also does not cost you anything up front which is a big help when you are starting out. My biggest expense was buying ISBN numbers as I wanted to have complete control, but even then they do offer free ISBN’s if you so choose. Once my book was uploaded I had to work on the cover which I will outline in a separate blog post.

Publishing my book in print was only just the beginning of my journey and it has taken me two years to just feel like I am starting to scratch the surface. I quickly learned after publishing that I was not going to make millions overnight – or any time soon. In fact I have still hardly made anything at this point but I am learning what it takes to market myself and believe in myself and my work.

It has taken me time to publish on Kindle, Smashwords and to get comfortable with Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest and LinkedIn as social platforms to market my books. I’ve had to fight my dislike of seeing myself on video and just take the bull by the horns and create some videos for YouTube (even if they are not professional).

The thing I’ve really struggled the most to do, is to blow my own trumpet as it almost seems arrogant, but I’ve quickly learned that if I don’t believe in myself, no-one else will read my books.

Feedback from some readers has been the best thing for me and sometimes the worst, but it is all constructive and I appreciate it because it hopefully makes me a better writer. Initially I was terrified people would hate my stories or worse, be bored! The feeling of euphoria when people encourage me and ask when the next book will be done makes it all worth while. Yes, I’ve had some very mediocre reviews too, but I guess being in this business means that there will be people who don’t like my book and I’m okay with that now.

This is just the beginning of my journey and I don’t regret self-publishing for one moment; but it has been hard work, a steep learning curve that I haven’t quite conquered but I’m determined to see through.

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Each time I publish a new book the journey gets a little easier and I’ve learned a little more. Of course it would be nice to one day have someone take care of all the marketing for me so that I can just write, but until then I will love the journey and be grateful for all that I have accomplished. It has been an adventure!

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