If it’s been sitting in the recesses of your mind for years, perhaps it’s time to be brave; to write and rewrite and then when it’s ready, send it into the world.
For years the reaction to my telling my story provoked the words, ‘You should write a book.’ I always shook my head, and said, ‘Me, no way. I can’t write.’ The idea restlessly sat in a file in my head for years, until one day the tugging need to tell that story forced me into action, and I placed my nervous fingers on the keys and started to write. Nine months later the first draft of my true life journey, through the fascinating countries of South America to a new home in Argentina, was 140,000 words of diary-like ramblings, barely pulled together by thin narrative threads.
Two years—two wonderful editors and lot’s of tears and fears—later the book had been transformed into a coherent and thoughtful tale about the trials to find love and a place to belong, while tearing free from sadness, loss and fear.
Publishers were contacted, one rejection and five months of waiting for the final verdict from a ‘yes, maybe, we will think about it’, and I grew brave and decided to go all the way solo. I wanted my story to fly everywhere at once, on my terms, which meant taking responsibility for all the hundreds of details involved in the process. With a beautiful cover of a painting, a lot of love and care, and a few more grey hairs, ‘she’ was ready and finally flew into the world, May, 2014.
Now my book is out there, the tough work really begins. How do you fly the book under people’s noses? And harder still, how do you encourage them to reach out and take a chance on it, and on you? These are the things I’m struggling with. Self-promotion runs against my grain, and watching amazons rating go up and down is not good for stress levels (or obsessive checking behaviours!) but getting beautiful heartfelt messages and reviews from people who seem to have been touched by the story makes it worth it whether sales are a hundred or in the thousands.
Some tips and tricks to help you on your way:
1 Be patient and work hard. I will take time to get it right, especially the first time.
2 Get as many people as you can to read the various drafts. Join a writing group, and then listen to their opinions but also follow your heart.
3 Don’t take short-cuts. Pay for an experienced editor, get it proof-read to an inch of its life, and develop a beautiful or striking cover with help from an artist or good graphic designer.
4 Use a publishing tool, such as, PressBooks or Scrivener to organise and format your book. Or if you have a Microsoft word file, elicit the help of a book designer to format and covert (.mobi, iPub and paperback) with InDesign and/or other book design software.
5 Set up a platform before you publish your book. Write blogs, network with relevant people and organisations, and expand your social media reach.
6 Have a detailed market plan ready before you push the publish button.
7 Choose a distribution service that suits your needs and budget. I used BookBaby for ebooks and IngramSpark for paperback (largely due to constraints due to being a resident of Argentina with an Australian bank account!) But both have suited me well to date. Beware of ‘vanity publishing’ if you are serious about your book.
8 Be patient.
9 Work very hard.
10 Believe in your book but be realistic.
I think the key is to enjoy the process, while accepting the highs and lows. Whatever you write, it’s not going to be liked by everyone, and that’s okay.