On December 15, 2018, Sandman was released to the world.
Sandman was my first attempt at a full novel. Before 2018, I had no idea what writing, editing, and publishing a book meant, not really. I also did not realize that writing “The End” or finding a publisher is not the end game. Oh my goodness, no. It is just a pit stop along the way.
If you are beginning a novel or nearing the end of a novel, if you are seeking representation or considering self-publishing, if you are anywhere in between, know that this journey is hard.
It is also beautiful and fulfilling and fun.
When the idea for Sandman presented itself to me, I was on vacation, on a beach, in an ice cream shop. I knew right away this was not going to be another short story.
After I wrote, “The End” on Sandman, I had my first editor/writer experience. Trust me when I say, “Even if you are a good writer in general, even if you teach writing, even if you pride yourself on putting words together, you need an editor (or two or three). You can read more about types of editors on this blog.
I also discovered beta readers. These phenomenal readers will give you feedback on your novel draft. Mine found things as big as plot holes and as small as a change in eye color of one of my characters. I had three beta readers, but you may want more. Beta readers are not editors. Editors come later, after you revise based on the comments from your betas. Here are eleven online communities where you can find beta readers.
After beta readers I had my first publisher/writer experience. This one will be different for everyone. You may want to hold out for one of the big five publishers or choose to self-publish. I chose an in-between route. I could not be more pleased. Working with the editors, cover artist, and publisher at Flashpoint Publications has been amazing. It was not all smooth sailing. If you expect it to be, you will be disappointed (whichever route you choose). I recommend just buckling up and enjoying the ride. In the end, you will have a book with your name on it!
Releasing these particular 85000 or so words into the world brought my first private message from someone I never met telling me how much they loved my book and wanting to “pick my brain.” This, dear reader, has been my second favorite moment of the publishing experience.
My first favorite publishing moment to date is the release party. Don’t skip this step (even if you are an extreme introvert). I might have if my daughter, Sarah, had not planned and executed the whole thing. I am so thankful for her. My children and grandchildren were there. My wife was there. Some of our friends and neighbors were there. And people I didn’t know showed up, too! I sold all of the books I had with me, and several people went online to purchase. I read a chapter, signed books like a pro, and made conversation that I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to make.
In December, I gained “author status” on Goodreads and on Facebook. This still feels so surreal. I find myself checking these two sites way more often than I should. Maybe the giddiness of seeing another message or review will wear off eventually, but I doubt it.
On Amazon, you can now click on the “Learn More” button on my cover and read the first few pages of Sandman. I have done this so many times over the past few years when conducting research, that doing it on my own novel made it all feel really really real. The growing reviews here will eventually lead to me being listed on the “You may also like” and the “This book is similar” lists that are so important to writers. I believe this step in the process will happen in early 2019, because I am speaking it into the universe right now. 🙂
I continue to build my Twitter and Instagram presence. Both of these platforms have been a blast to grow. I suspect this will take years to cultivate. Wherever you are in the process, start now and keep moving. The writing community is phenomenal. To find like-minded writers and readers, look for hashtags such as: #5amwritersclub, #50bookpledge and #bookbloggers.
From growing the idea of a serial killer hiding bodies on a small strip of sand in North Carolina to today, the last day of 2018, I have grown as a writer, as a marketer, and as a person. This is a career choice. It never ends. I may not like all of the stages and requirements equally well, but I understand the importance of each. I am doing what I love.
I wish for anyone reading this the same sense of peace and happiness in your own process.
It’s a crazy ride!
Here’s to 2019.