Writer’s Journal: Why self-publish?

Welcome to Austen Promises and my first Writer’s Journal post!

Writer’s Journal is a new feature for me. It will be a diary of sorts, documenting my joys, struggles, and triumphs as I travel the road of self-published author. At times there may be over-the-top happiness, and at other times, utter frustration, in my posts. I also hope to teach a little, as well. It seems you can take the teacher out of the classroom but not the classroom out of the teacher. LOL

As you can see from the post title, this first one is going to address the “why” of my journey.

A little background first: I never thought I could write. When I was fourteen or so, I tried to write a romance, and was convinced it was utter junk. My sister, bless her heart, loved it and was upset with me when I threw it away. She’s happy now that I’m writing and publishing, and I appreciate her support! 🙂 I wish I had listened to her, and I wish I had shown it to my English teacher; my life might have taken a completely different turn if I had!

Turn the clock (and the calendar) ahead a few decades, to late in 2013. I had, by now, discovered Jane Austen Fan Fiction, and had read every Regency-era story and one or two modern ones. I had read my favorites over and over and over again, and had run out of stories that interested me. At the urging of a friend, I began to write one of my own.

I piddled around with that story for three months. I had made a goal in January of 2014 to be more active in the fan fiction forum that I visited most often, and to that end, began logging into the chatroom. It was there that I met the two fellow writers who have become my sisters-in-heart. One of them, upon hearing that I had started a story, asked to see it. I sent it to her, asking her to tell me if she thought it was ridiculous. Because, you see, I was still convinced that I could not write anything worth reading. However, my friend loved it and encouraged me to finish, which I did.

It was during the process of writing and posting on the forum that I learned about self-publishing. After some thought, I decided to give it a go. Lo and behold, people bought my book! Almost three years later, people still buy it, along with the other ten titles I have out. I’m always amazed that people think my writing is good. 🙂

Why do I keep self-publishing? Why not enter contests and send query letters and things like that to try to get a contract with a “real” publisher? Well, for starters, no publishing house will publish JAFF. The market is too small and they don’t make enough to make it worth their time. It’s very much a niche market.

Also, I like being in control. It’s a character flaw, to be sure, and one that I struggle with at times in other areas. However, I would not want someone who is unfamiliar with my genre to tell me how to write my book or what the cover should look like or anything like that. By being self-published, I can oversee every aspect of the story, from the plot to the blurb and cover, and everything in between. Yes, it’s a lot of work, and yes, I’m sure my covers could be better, but when I hit that button to make a book live at a vendor, I know that it’s the best possible product I could put out. I’m proud to say that, while my older books still have more typos than I’d like, the last seven or eight have had few errors. I have developed a process that, in conjunction with cold readers and beta readers, has allowed me to catch and fix more of them than I could otherwise. I’d stick my neck out so far as to say that at least one book has zero typos. 🙂

Come back next Wednesday for another peek into my journal! <3

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2 thoughts on “Writer’s Journal: Why self-publish?

  1. tell me more about your process to get your books free from errors. That is something that I still struggle with, even having tried a professional editor, I still caught a type or two.

    • Well, the industry standard is something like 3%, so if you only caught one or two, you’re doing exceedingly well. That’s something to be proud of!

      What I do is this: I run the story through Grammarly at least once. Depending on the book and a number of other factors–when it posts on the forums, how many changes I make due to cold reader suggestions, etc–Grammarly may see it several times. I have a paid version of the program now, but used to use the web-based free one.

      After that, I use Natural Reader and I listen to the story while I read it. This is where I get tripped up, because listening to other people read puts me to sleep. This was HARD when I was a teacher, let me tell you!! 😀 Anyway, I find that I must be distraction-free and take frequent breaks, but I carefully follow along as the voice reads. This helps me find and fix lots of errors…punctuation mistakes, word usage errors, typos, etc. I try to do this chapter by chapter as I post on the forums. I dread doing an entire book at once, though I have done it when I needed to. I used to use the free Natural Reader version (I have often recommended it to my students and their parents), but I got tired of having to restart every few hundred words, so I spent the money on the full version. It wasn’t much, I don’t think. Fifty bucks, maybe?

      Then, as often as I can, I buy a proof copy and actually sit down with a pad of sticky notes and a pen or pencil and read the book. I have found that I am better able to catch mistakes when I have the physical book in my hand than I do with all my other tools. That’s not always possible, or at least, it has not been so far. Still, I have had one or two books that I got a proof for that had only one or two typos, which made me very happy! 😀

      That was a great question! 🙂

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