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.

Writing after editing/copywriting

I decided to give it a go to professional editing of my manuscript. After getting a good hunch on a video from this editor, I paid for it and waited an external/unknown person to finally take a look at my manuscript. I wasn’t expecting much as I knew I had picked a considerable affordable service. I thought it would be mostly about grammar, spelling, punctuation, verb tenses, sentence structure, word choices etc. The type of editing that I worried most about since English is not my first language. But I was surprised to get a very detailed feedback about the story itself.

The feedback included very good points about plot holes that I hadn’t thought about. Twists in the story that didn’t make much sense or that could be better explained. I absolutely loved that part. My fantasy story has many characters in it, so having someone deeply connecting all characters’ reasons and subplots was great. She was able to find small details of parts of the story I had completely forgot or contradicted. I loved this copywriting part more than the editing one. I came to understand that this is actually called developmental editing which involves checking story inconsistencies, discrepancies, factual errors, etc.

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I got great feedback from character development which actually surprised me. In a previous attempt with a first manuscript of a different story, my weakest point was character development. That story is on standby as it needs lots of rewriting. But most of the feedback that I got from the few beta readers, back in those days, was that characters didn’t feel multidimensional and there was no evolvement in their personalities, no growth. That really caught my attention, and when I started writing this new manuscript, I focused on writing good characters. It paid off, and I’m truly happy for it. It made the whole process feel that it had potential.

I still have to work fixing some parts of the story but it doesn’t feel like an impossible job right now. It feels very tangible and I’m already in one-fourth of the total manuscript length of this new round of revision, and it is only been a week since I started. I feel encouraged but mostly proud of my fictional characters.

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Writing in confinement

I haven’t written in my Blog in while, as always. I wanted to focus any writing effort to working on my manuscript. I finally finished doing my second round of editing review, and now I don’t feel guilty to swift my attention to other type of writing.

From all the bad things that this confinement has brought to our lives, there is one that has been positive for me. I have been able to find the time and discipline to finish editing my manuscript. I already had a plan before the confinement. I was trying to work at least one hour per day on editing. However, I must confess there were many days when I wouldn’t work since I would be absorbed by time, work, and other activities. The quarantine in my country has pushed me to be more responsible with my editing, but more than anything, I have to be honest I felt afraid.

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This pandemic has brought fear in general to our lives and nobody knows how our future will be. I wanted to have at least this goal finished in my life. It has been one week since I’ve finished editing. There is still a lot to do with the manuscript. I have one dear friend helping me with her expert editing eye. I’ll be also finding other people to beta read it and then start seeing options of how can I get this out there. But more than anything, finishing that goal has brought me a good sense of peace in my mind. I already have some other stories luring in my head and some good ideas for new manuscripts. I might explore them later. But for now, I’m giving myself some weeks to rest. Writing, editing and working has been a bit tough on my schedule and I urgently need that rest.

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This blog post didn’t have any specific topic in mind. I just wanted to get this update out there for anyone that might be reading my blog and register this point in my lifetime. If there is something good we can get from these hard times, it is the time to finish some personal goals.

My country is in a very strict control and quarantine. Only people that are between 18 and 65 years old can go out and on a specific schedule depending on the last number of your ID. For example, I can only go out to the street on Mondays, from 7am to 12pm. Everybody must remain at home on afternoons and evenings, and weekends. If you are out of your home after 12 pm or if your ID doesn’t match the “ID of the day”, you get arrested, taken to jail, and you have to pay a fine. In other words, you can’t even go around the park or to take a walk around your neighborhood. Driving is, of course, completely banned, unless you have a special permit. Markets, supermarkets, and pharmacies are opened. Other business are not, including restaurants. There are no delivery services of any kind, only pharmacies. If you need to move to another location in the city on the day you are allowed to go out, you have to walk. There are no means of public transportation. It is quite tough, but needed. I’m crossing fingers, the situation will get better. It is a good time for writing but bad time for a writer’s spirit.

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And you, how is your writing dealing with these times?

Writing in a bad year

2019 has definitely been a year to remember. Two dear aunts, sisters from my Mom, passed away. My beautiful dog, Dana, who was with me for more than 14 years, also passed away. There was a fire, caused by short circuit on the TV plug, that devoured my Mom’s room and almost killed her. My closest aunt had an accident with a huge wardrobe falling and splitting her head badly. My country went into political turmoil for almost 3 weeks, with almost a civil war in the making. Mobs of delinquents attacked people on the street, beating them to death, setting on fire everything they found, including houses. Three weeks I deeply wish nobody goes through anywhere in the world, days we lived in panic, enclosed in our homes or trying to battle attackers when there was still no police to defend us.

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The year is almost coming to an end and although there have been good times in this year, good trips in the middle of everything and other experiences, I cherish this year as the personal growth has been insurmountable.

I’m heading at this moment to WordCamp Guayaquil where I will be speaking about “Wanting to be a blogger and finding time,” in other words about time organization. I would have never imagined a couple of years ago talking about time manage skills. Me, the person who used to procrastinate as nobody else and could never find time for anything. I wondered a couple of times if I’m the best person to talk about this, but I feel I’ve grown so much in the last years, specially in this year that I thought I would share my experience.

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Writing and working full time has been a challenge. I must be honest I only commit an hour and perhaps an hour and a half, the most, to working on my current manuscript. I haven’t been the best at keeping this schedule every day. There are days when I don’t write, and even weeks. But I haven’t give up. It doesn’t matter how slowly I move forward. I’ve committed myself to keep doing it.

At this point, my goal of finishing the review of my manuscript by the end of the year doesn’t look promising. Probably, I’ll end it by the end of January or even February of 2020. But it doesn’t matter, I’m still doing it, little by little, step by step. Besides, I don’t have an agent or a publishing contract that says I have to finish by a specific date. It is true I wish I could have it by the end of this year but nothing will happen if I don’t.

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In a bad year, I could have just plainly written little. My attitude could have been different. Perhaps that would have been the case when I was younger. But my determination has gotten bigger this year. Without it, I would probably have never finished reviewing the first round. I would have never gotten great beta readers and the inspiration the keep writing. Somehow a bad year has make my desire to keep on writing stronger. It has kept me afloat amidst all issues, knowing that there is a greater goal out there for me and that I’m still moving towards it.

Life is about going through problems and obstacles, otherwise it would be pretty boring and we would never grow. Writing on a bad year has actually been a positive experience and I wouldn’t change it for the world. Writing on a bad year has proved to be good.

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