Self-publishing time

I always told myself that I would explore the different approaches to publishing. The first one, traditional publishing, seemed to be the desired one since you imagine a literary agent guiding you in these waters of publishing. You imagine them taking care of all the logistics that is involved in publishing your book so you can focus in more writing. But as I already knew, nailing a literary agent, and then a publishing house, is not easy at all. I’ve even heard that I would waste my time searching for an agent. But since I was in no hurry to publish, I decided I would try pitching agents first. And I have done it in the past 8 months. I’ve pitched to many agents. Some of them were polite to reply and say “thanks but no thanks” and others didn’t even reply. I must admit that I was sort of expecting this outcome given how difficult I’ve heard is to call the attention of a literary agent. But I still wanted to give a try.

Now, I’m ready to move on to plan B. Self-publishing.

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I wasn’t that scared of the logistics of self-publishing. I knew I could find my way around and hire help where I needed, but I was a bit scared of the time it would take to figure all this out and the time it would involve managing all the process. But at this point, I have the feeling that I have to get my fantasy novel “The Last Families” out there. I’ve spent a couple of years on it and it deserves to be out there. It is a personal challenge.

I’ve taken on self-publishing planning now, wanting to go slowly step by step. Time is my constraint. I have a good day job, and aside from that job, I’m organizing a tech online event, I attend two Public Speaking clubs, one reading club, and try to stay as physically active as possible. But publishing this book is important and I have to find it time. Moreover, it is time to stop wishing some literary agent will fall from the sky to help with all the hassle 🙂

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Therefore, I’ve started gathering information. I’ve already decided I want both the ebook version and the printed version. Given that, there is a lot to do on the matter of formatting the book, getting a cover designed, etc. I’ve already began researching Print On demand services and I’ve already discarded a couple of them. Given that I’m in Bolivia, some of these services don’t deal with authors from outside the US, or as I was told by IngramSpark “digital signature is not supported in your country”. Well….

On the good side, I’m positive on the design and promotion part. I think I know good people that can help me with that.

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As I post on this Blog more about the process, I will probably start changing its look, given that the domain name already has my author name, and this will probably become my Author website.

I’ll start talking a bit more about my fantasy story in next posts so that you can hear what is it about. I’m waiting first on some visual materials to go with this.

In the meantime, if anybody has good references or experiences with the Print on demand options, I would deeply appreciate to hear from you. Wish me good luck in this process. 🙂

The querying process: trust your instincts

As I submerge myself in this world of querying agents and receiving rejections, I started to take it as part of the common writing process. I no longer feel bad for the rejections coming from literary agent’s, in fact, I think they are making me stronger and more resilient.

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In the meantime, I’ve also started to experiment with different query letters, manuscript summaries, and even decided to change my first chapter. I feel happy on the latter. I was never happy with having a prologue. For some reason, I thought my story really needed that prologue. However, once I decided to challenge this idea, I put my hands on re-writing the first chapter, integrating in it the prologue. It worked so well that I couldn’t believe it! I regretted sending queries to agents that had to go through my prologue (when they requested the first chapters or pages in the query letter). But well…sigh… one learns from these mistakes. It is not like I’m an expert or a published author.

I also took on revamping my query letter and summary – for those that request it. From the beginning, I knew they weren’t the best possible and I attributed this to my story being so complex that I couldn’t describe it in a couple of paragraphs, but I later discovered they were totally improvable and I twitched them a bit until I felt prouder of them.

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I’m still going through my list of agents I want to query to. I’m not doing them all at once, neither one by one. But if the rejection trend is here to stay, then I’ll start pondering about self-publishing, which is not that bad according to what I heard. My only worry is that traditional publishing helps you get inside bookshops which is what I always wanted. It is not that I don’t trust the digital channels, and don’t see the potential in it, but there is a sweet spot in my heart where I want to see my book in a shelf in a bookshop. Who knows how things turn around. I’ve witnessed quite amazing events happening in my life.

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In the meantime, if anybody is out there in the process of querying, writing query letters, preparing summaries, trust your instincts and make sure you are really proud of them.

From writing to doing my first 5K challenge

I’ve always wanted to participate of the wwwp5K Movement challenge with great 3 charities to support, but each year, there was always something going on the day people were supposed to do it. This year, the challenge extended to the whole month, so I told myself there were no more excuses.

Now as a background, I’m no experienced jogger/runner. I jog from time to time, maybe a couple of times per week the most, and probably only for 20 minutes. Time was one of the main constraints, and this year, the footing track where I go has become busier than ever. Since jogging with a mask is hard (and some people still manage to do it), I try to go on a time of the day when there is not many people around. That usually happens around 9:30 am in the morning. If you go earlier, there is actually too much “running traffic”.

On this side of the world, it is summer, so most of the days are hot, meaning that 9:30 am is probably one of the last latest times of the day that you will see runners around, until the second batch of the day which starts around 5 pm. The traffic in the evening is even wilder with people running until 10:00 pm or more. That might sound as an excuse, but I take it as safety measure. However, when I go at 9:30 am, I don’t have much time to stay since I have to start working around 10:00 am. 🙂

But Saturday I didn’t have to work and a biking appointment was suspended at last minute. Therefore, I knew there were no more excuses. I already knew I wouldn’t be able to complete the whole 5K running; I get totally exhausted after 15 or 20 mins, but the challenge is about completing it either running, walking, or however you can. But having no time pressures and the footing track emptier than usual made things easier. I thought I was going to probably walk at least 50% of it, but I think it was at least 80% of the time running and the remaining walking, so that is a great victory to me. I never felt so happy and proud about a physical challenge.

And although this is a writing blog, writers also need some physical challenges to improve and stimulate our creativity. So I gave it a chance.

What happens after the manuscript is done?

There comes a point in time when you realize that the manuscript is ready to go out there. Or at least you want to believe that. My fantasy manuscript is ready and I’ve already started seeing publishing options (I’ll check first the traditional options and if not, self-publishing). The process is long, so what happens in the meantime?

I could have waited and concentrated my energy for the fantasy manuscript to reach its end-result: the published book. But for some reason, I decided that while I wait for replies on query letters, I could start working on a new project. Therefore, I’ve started a new manuscript on a new different story, based on an idea has been nagging me for some time and I didn’t want to wait anymore.

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I realized that as I get more into this writing process, the better I feel. I spent a lot of time on my first original thriller manuscript (which was left incomplete several years ago – it is still lying there, dormant), but the story had too many plot holes, and the characters were too simple. Perhaps, I’ll come back to it some day, with a refreshed and more interesting approach- or a complete revamp. In the meantime, if you count that original manuscript, the recently finished fantasy one, then this would be the third time starting the whole process of writing a new story. And I feel it gets better with time. I’ve also realized I’m definitely not a plotter, not a pantser, but a mix of the two.

When I started my fantasy manuscript, I found an interesting technique that I’m considering this time too. I started writing as a pantser, wanting to know where the characters and story led me to. But then I realized that if you keep as a pantser, you face the risk of entering an endless journey with no direction. So I stopped, and came back to analyze the story and characters. This process worked very well during the fantasy manuscript. Characters were one of my best improvements and I feel very proud of how they developed in my fantasy manuscript. Still, the story plot became too complex at some point, and there were some editing rounds where I had to “patch” some massive story plot holes.

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In the new manuscript, let’s call it the “dystopian” one, which is more or less the genre of this one, I feel more confident about “sketching” characters, letting them being, and experimenting changes. I think I got a better hold on that process. Now, I want to improve the process for developing my storyline. I’m planning on introducing a bit more “plotting” on this manuscript to not lose as much track of it as it happened on the fantasy one. However, I’m definitely not planning on becoming a rigid plotter, killing my creativity and adaptability to change.

I’ve already written the first 45 pages of the dystopian manuscript .They were mostly done in a pantser “state”. Then I stopped. Now I’m going through these 45 pages to give it more structure. I want to still be able to fly with the story, let my writing spirit be free, but with a bit more of structure. It is working rather well until now.

In addition, I’m starting to do deeper editing from the start. I want this first manuscript draft to be in a more decent readable state than my previous manuscripts where the first draft was barely readable. I hope this approach works better so that future editing rounds are not as hard and time consuming than previous ones. Also, I’ll start searching for beta readers in an earlier stage. Feedback is important. It is tough on writers, but we need it. Let’s see how my new writing approach works now.

And you, do you feel your writing process improves with each project?

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Resiliency at Covid-19 times

I know this is a writing blog, but it is hard to be a writer without acknowledgment of what is going around us. These past days have been hard. It is no longer other people dying of Covid19 but people that you already know 😦 and happening to closest people, the cousin of my closest friend, the uncle of another friend, a friend of my mom and so on 😦

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Never in my life, I’ve been trying to do all this meditation, self-help, and motivation routines. The truth is that without them, I would be going into a depressing mode most certainly. It is very hard to find the energy and the will to keep on going without thinking about all deaths and struggles that surround you. It is no longer happening to other people but to people around you 😦 and you begin to understand the nature of this pandemic. We can’t escape it.

I mostly exaggerate when washing hands, wearing masks, and all that stuff, but did I wash all the tiny corners of that package or that surface that probably was in contact with somebody that was sick? Are the people around me taking the same measures? If not, how much can I avoid it on my own? Will any of my beloved ones get sick? Will they survive? My Mom is at high risk. She is 70 years old, still going to her office from time to time, has high blood pressure and she is an all-life smoker. What will happen if she gets sick? These are the many questions that I do myself every single day. I’m on work vacation at the time of writing this post and had too many personal projects to work on, but keeping my spirit up during these days has been though. Life will never be the same, neither vacations.

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