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Getting to the starting line

My apologies for the long hiatus between posts. I’ve spent the last several months readying The Girl from Oto for the book designer. The manuscript is now in the process of being formatted. Here are some lessons I’ve learned along the way:

  1. No matter how many sets of eyes review the manuscript, you will always find more to change. Self-edit, hire an editor, hire proofreading help, pass drafts to beta readers. But at some point, you have to let it go.
  2. Read the manuscript out loud to find errors your eyes will never see. I let my computer read it for me. On a Mac, do this by going to system preferences, dictation & speech. Under text to speech, check “speak selected text when the key is pressed.” I chose the voice “Alex” to read my text because I think it sounds the most human.
  3. Listen to motivating podcasts by “authorpreneurs,” but don’t get obsessed with them. If you don’t do things exactly the way they prescribe, you can still succeed. Take nuggets of wisdom from each expert and distill all you learn into an individual strategy that works for you.
  4. Give yourself time between finishing the book and launching it. For a while I thought I had to launch my book the day it returned from the book designer. Wrong. I need time to send out advance review copies, get some marketing in place, and get buzz going for the book before the launch. Books are evergreen. There is no rush.
  5. Supposedly the super-successful indie authors publish, publish, publish. Some churn out a book a month. Don’t compare yourself to them. Yes, keep writing. Yes, get going on book two of the series. But don’t freak out because you’ll never keep pace with those writers. They’ve got their path, you’ve got yours.
  6. Do what you can with the time you have. I am not a full-time writer. I am a full-time mother and a part-time writer. Someday in the not-too-distant future, I will have more time to write and publish books. Until then, I will be the best part-time writer I can be.
  7. Remind yourself that this is all a learning process. There will be tons of mistakes along the way. Every failure is a lesson, every mistake is an opportunity to learn.
  8. Each job has its attributes and its drudgery. I love research, writing, and editing. I don’t love endless revising. I don’t love various aspects of the publishing and marketing sides of this business. But they are all key parts of my overarching goal to write, publish and sell fiction. And every opportunity to learn—even about a topic that doesn’t thrill me—has value.
  9. A first novel has special significance. I often hear writers say first novels are their worst novels. And when I read several books by an author, I tend to agree. With each subsequent book, writers develop technique, voice, rhythm, and most of all, confidence. I’m sure The Girl from Oto is riddled with problems that I don’t have the experience to see. But what I know for sure is that it’s ready to publish. It may end up being my best novel, or my worst. At this point, I’m headed to the starting line. I don’t know what lies ahead. But I couldn’t be happier with my story and my characters, and I can’t wait to share them with the world.

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