Welcome back to Austen Promises and the Writer’s Journal!
If you’re a regular follower of my blog, you know this past Monday, August 12th, was my five-year anniversary as a published author. On that day in 2014, I Promise To … went out into the world, my very first book baby. I wrote a post about it with a giveaway attached that you can read here. For this post, I want to expand on the things I have learned in the last five years.
When I look back on what I didn’t know in 2014, I wonder about myself and what I was thinking. There were a few JAFF authors starting out around the same time. I remember Rose Fairbanks published her first book a couple months before I did mine, and Leenie Brown did in early 2015. There were others, of course, but it’s been so long I can’t keep them all straight now. LOL
Speaking for myself, I can say that I had no ideas of publishing when I began writing, nor how to do it. But, as the months wore on, I kept hearing more about it and one day just decided to do it.
I had no idea how to get a professional editor back then. I’m still fuzzy on the details, to be honest. I’ve only had one book professionally edited, and she was recommended to me and had an opening. I had a friend doing most of my editing until recently. At some point in the future, I plan to begin using a pro all the time, but I’ve learned to identify issues in my own books and how to correct them. For now, I’m happy to do my own.
I do like to use beta readers, and have used several in the past. I had a couple that I trusted implicitly, but they became too busy with their everyday lives to be able to get stories back to me quickly. I have issues with scheduling, which you’re well aware of if you are a regular reader. I often find myself finishing so close to a release date that I need the beta read back in a week, which is usually ridiculous. LOL Sometimes, people take pity on me and do it for me, but sometimes they don’t. I really do like to at least have one beta reader, though.
Thanks to Leenie, I’ve learned quite a bit about grammar. She taught it more than I did when we were teachers, and she’s really good. Honestly, if she were not so busy, I’d ask her to edit. LOL
One of the things I’ve learned, or maybe developed is a better word, is my own style. I still do try to word things more like Austen than me simply because I want to be period-correct. I don’t always succeed, and I think one of the reasons I love my race book series is that it’s written in modern-day American English. My true style can shine through in those books, where in the Regencies, it sometimes gets subsumed by the Austen-ness.
A big thing I have learned is cover making. I am so NOT an artist, and when I parted ways with the lady who designed my first three covers, I was terrified. Often, along with terror comes rebellion and digging my heels in. Both of those happened when I had to make my own covers. LOL Thankfully, Rose and Leenie have an infinite amount of patience with me and were able to teach me a few simple concepts that I could then implement. I’m now able to make decent covers by myself. I’ve written about covers before, and you can read one of those posts here. I’d like to hire a real cover artist one day, too. I’ll make it happen before my ten-year anniversary. 🙂
This post is getting long, and could get even longer if I let it, but I think I’ll stop now. I think one of the biggest things I’ve learned, and I may have said this in my Monday post, is that I can be confident in my abilities. I tell good stories that are well-written. My stories give people a way to escape their everyday worries, and sometimes (though never on purpose) teach a lesson. I’m able to positively affect people and lift their spirits. That means the world to me.
I’ve been told my faith shines through in my books, and that matters a lot, as well. My mission according to the Bible is to give praise to God and to tell people the way to salvation. If my books do either of those, and it seems they do, then I could die today a happy woman.
Are you a published author? How long has it been since your first book?
Come back next Wednesday for another peek into my journal! <3