The journey to self-publishing and launching my first short story has been an interesting one, to say the least. Eight weeks ago, I started taking an online class called Write to Publish with the good folks at The Write Practice. We started out in early April by making our websites, so we would have a platform to share our writings and find subscribers
hours of the day and night, to comment on one another’s writings and discuss the writing process. The first piece I submitted was a love story adapted from Eat Your Warrior Fish (working title), my full-length novel for young adults, which has been in some stage of development since I retired from teaching in 2012. A complete draft has been crying out for revisions and further development since the end of October.
Next, we set up video conferences with our fellow authors in the course and outside the class. What a treat to get to know other authors all over the world.One of the people who conferenced with me, Carole Wolf, wrote it up on her blog, you can read it here. The goal was to conduct two interviews. One of my interviews was with my son-in-law Tom Stillwell, who is the inspiration for Tomo Saves the Day, the story I just published.
Tom is a comic book writer and publisher who has a number of super-hero comics under the label Honor Brigade. I’m not a comic book fan myself, but I can appreciate how beautifully his books are illustrated and hand-lettered. For each publication, Tom brings together a team of artists. He has also published the graphic novel Fan Girl, a teen murder mystery set in the context of the San Diego comic con, which I did enjoy–that’s more to my taste.
This led to the next assignment, which was to write a story “for” someone else. I thought of writing something for my husband, Peter, who endures my long hours of sitting quietly at my desk — “Are you done yet?” — but he despises fiction. Tom had a birthday coming up, so I started playing around with casting him as a character in a story. It would be my gift to him, and his birthday would be my deadline. I had fun bringing Tom into the world of Ricky Perez, the main character from Eat Your Warrior Fish. The idea of putting Tom into the story with Ricky gave me a chance to have a fresh start with an old friend.
It was only natural that our next assignment was to do something generous for another author. One of the underlying goals of the course is to provide opportunities for a group of authors to create a cartel–not for drug sellers–for competitors in publishing to agree to help one another and to be generous in our mutual support. I have made some true friends through this process, and I know I will continue to collaborate with many of them as we all move forward on our paths to publishing more stories.
The hardest part was yet to come–preparing for launch day. We learned to draft complex marketing plans, which consisted of writing copy for various media, compiling lists of fans, supporters, subscribers we would target for help. The plan was easy, the execution was grueling. The takeaway was it takes tremendous courage to ask colleagues, friends and family to help with promotion. But, all writers have to start somewhere and word of mouth (or email, tweet, Instagram and FB post) is the way to develop an audience.
If friends and family like the work, they will spread the news to others and eventually that will lead to fresh eyeballs on the page. The road to finding true fans for my writing is paved with shameless appeals for support. And I an important step is to thank all the writing colleagues, friends and family, who joined the team and worked behind the scenes by writing endorsements, posting online reviews, and sharing the news with their associates. It takes a village, and I’m proud to say that launchday was the beginning of taking myself seriously as an author. Amazon ranking soared, subscriptions came in, reviews started appearing online. Marketing does work, so why not do it yourself?
The story I published is a middle-grade coming-of-age tale called “Tomo Saves the Day” and is available for FREE for a limited time. Your copy is only a click away. It’s listed on most online bookseller sites: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBooks, Kobo. Enjoy the read. If you like it, please take a moment to leave an honest review. There is nothing more satisfying than learning how you receive my work, what you see in it, and how it affects you.
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