I was inspired by Nicola Rendell for this post. Her blog post about the process letter she writes after each book felt really true. It’s a way to debrief, after the book is released and away, and you’re still coping with that weird Times New Roman-shaped hole in your heart that’s left when a book you wrote finally goes out to readers.
Although, this letter is a bit different – my book NO LIMITS isn’t yet out. But it soon will be: I’ve set the release date for August, and I intend to keep to that. The book is written, edited and ready to fly. So the tough part is mostly done. This letter is just a record of how the book came to be written and where I am in the pre-publication process and how it’s all going.
As far as writing goes, this book was one of the easiest ever. Writing NO LIMITS was more about me just stepping back and letting the characters talk and act and be the way they wanted to be – getting out of their way, basically. I had a similar feeling when I wrote the second book in the Every series, EVERY WORD: like I was channelling the characters, and they were taking me wherever they wanted to go.
I have a great photo of myself, collapsed on the floor of the house where I was on writer’s retreat – Amie Kaufman took the photo at about 1am, after I wrote the final lines of the book. I look like a puppet that’s had its strings cut, which was kind of true. The characters of NO LIMITS took over my brain and typing functions, and let me go when they were done. They knew their own minds. Especially Harris Derwent. That guy’s dialogue and actions just seemed to flow so easily and freely, it made me wonder whether I was a guy in another life.
I honestly think NO LIMITS is some of my best writing ever, but because the characters had such control, I don’t feel like I can take a lot of credit.
It also made editing really hard. Try as I might, I couldn’t see how I could alter the story, or tone it down, in a way that would have made it fit better with my publisher. I’d almost resigned myself to leaving it sitting in a drawer…until I realised I didn’t have to do that.
Self-publishing seemed like a scary idea (sometimes it still seems scary). But as I did more research about it, I started to think it made a lot of sense. I already had people emailing me, asking when they could read Harris’s story. So I knew there were keen readers out there. All I had to do was prep the book for publication and put it up online – right?
Well, it’s been a bit more complicated than that.
Self-publishing isn’t just about making the sure the manuscript is ready. You have to set yourself up as a publisher: things like ISBNs, and paperback trim sizes, and cover designs, and accounting, and marketing, and…a whole bunch of other stuff that never crosses your mind when you’re just the writer are now your business. And the responsibility is all on you – if the book takes off, hooray; if the book tanks, it’s on you. It’s your investment, and your win or loss. If you want a list of the pros and cons of self-publishing, you could go here to Chuck Wendig’s astute summation.
And although self-pub is quite commonplace these days, much of the information about it is dispersed across the internets – you have to find and sort and order it so it makes sense, especially if you’re an antipodean, because the Australian self-publishing experience sometimes varies from US standard. Add on the fact that the online publishing industry is constantly upgrading and changing (as fast as the tech, basically). You need to stay on your toes.
But I think I’m getting my head around it. I’m still less-than-expert at some things – I need to learn how to handle InDesign, for instance, so I can format my own pages – but I’m getting there. It can be daunting – I have frequent moments of nail-biting panic – but I’m gaining confidence.
I guess the most exciting and energising thing about the whole process is the fact that NO LIMITS is all mine. The crafting of the book, the decisions about the cover, the timing of release, the price and presentation… Everything about it is up to me. And I kinda love that.
At this stage of the process, I’m about to send out a brief to my cover designer. That’s a little bit terrifying, because you never quite know how a design artist might interpret your vision for the book. I hope they do Harris and Amita justice.
I’m also preparing to get the formatting done, starting up accounts on platforms like Amazon and Ingram Spark, and planning pre-release promotion. And I’m creating a newsletter for folks who are interested in getting regular updates about when my new books are coming, so that’s pretty exciting (I’ll let you know when that’s ready to go).
I hope you like NO LIMITS – hell, I hope you love it as much as I do. By August, you’ll have the paperback or the ebook version in your hot little hands. And I guess that’s when the fun starts J