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How I Finally Wrote My First Book




Yes, the pic above is of my Kindle ebook cover. It's a crime novel and although far from a bestseller, I've sold a few hundred copies and a number of people have said they really liked it.. It took me a long time to find the time to do it.

The truth is you just have to take the time to do it. Trust me, for most of us, the time will never magically appear. If it is truly a dream, you simply have to steal the time away from something else and make it a priority. I learned this the hard way because I used to wait for the opportunity to come along. It never did, so I took it.
 
I have always been a bookworm. When I was about 10, I felt I had already read all the good books I could find in the library and decided I would write my own. I used my dad's old manual typewriter and started banging out pages. It didn't take me long, however, to discover that it wasn't as easy to write a book as it was to read one! Although I could imagine the entire storyline in my head, I found I had issues in translating onto the page. I was especially lost at how to move in time, lacking knowledge of how to gracefully transition from the current moment to the next day. I gave up but always kept pieces of things I would write and clippings that inspired me for that day in the future when I just knew I would write my huge blockbuster, lol.

Thirty years later, with a degree in journalism, and a career as a rather burned-out newspaper reporter under my belt, I finally decided to take the plunge. I had about a month between a job transition to spend on it, and what I thought was a pretty good idea. But, I needed to make sure I would finish and not get discouraged and give up, so, I gave myself the best deadline I could think of to motivate myself.

Going against all the rules and recommendations I'd read about not submitting your work to agents until you have completed your manuscript,
I composed my query letter after only writing my first three chapters and sent it off to a couple of dozen agents. I figured if one of them asked to see my full manuscript, I'd be able to kick it in and deliver it within a couple of weeks because deadline writing was one of my specialties. Although several asked to see the first three chapters or 100 pages, no one ever asked me for the complete book and no one bit on what they'd read although they did say the premise was good and the title was attention-getting, etc. Several said that crime novels with a newspaper reporter as the heroine were passe--too plentiful and dying out.

So, ultimately, I put my almost-finished book aside for another three years and went back to the daily grind. Then, I read about John Locke. Every wannabe novelist has heard of him by now--he was an alleged unknown writer who became a hugely successful self-published Kindle ebook author.  I read one of his ebooks and it was pretty well-written until about halfway through when the point of view completely changed and a different character took over. It was as though he took two old, unfinished books and slapped them together to make one. Hmmmm. My ego convinced me that if he could do it, I ought to give it another shot. So, I literally blew the dust off of my 200 pages, re-read and edited those pages and added the last few chapters. I had always known how it was going to end, so it wasn't really difficult.

It was, however, time consuming because I was working 40 hours a week and have a husband and two teen-agers and all the same stuff as everyone else in real life. Yet, after plodding away in every spare hour I could find, finally, I was done! Yay! Then I had to figure out how to turn it into a Kindle ebook on Amazon.com so somebody might purchase it. I spent about $200 getting someone to format  my Word document for me and another $200 for someone to design a fairly simple ebook cover. (I have since found a way to have both of these things done for less than $50, so if you would like that info, just message me.)

In the end, I sold about 100 ebooks my first month, and a little less than that each month since then. It was fun at first, and I received a lot of positive feedback, but I'm still working my day job, damn it!
I have learned a lot from the process, and after giving myself a three-month rest, I'm ready to start my second ebook. I always try to write something I would want to read, but this time, I am going to try to expand my audience to something maybe lots of people would want to read, lol.

If only I could think of something involving vampires...that seems to sell so well these days, but--sigh--I find that stuff ridiculous. Maybe witches? Voo-doo? A shape-shifting romance? Time Travel? I prefer mysteries with a bit of romance but that didn't get me too far last time. I'm always open to suggestions!

Good luck, all! Just remember you have to make time for your dream because it belongs to you! No one else is going to hand you the perfect circumstances you need to create the perfect novel/non-fiction book.And, thanks to the opportunity to self-publish a Kindle ebook for about $50, you really don't have to wait for a publisher to bite to put it before the public. You might not get rich--but you will be read!
Gaylez Gaylez 41-45, F 4 Responses Sep 17, 2011

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I enjoyed reading your story. I would love to get information on e-book cover and word formatting for $50.00. I don't expect to get rich, just get my story out there. Yes, according to all the writing clubs I belong to. Young adults romances, science fiction are the rage. Neither of which I care or read at my age.
Thanks for your article.

Do we have to either write about sex or vampires to sell books any more, though? I am writing a chapter book (3rd, 4th grade girl novel)....but sometimes i wonder....is it even worth my effort to finish it? It seems there is no market these days for just a cute kid's chapter book, unless you are either an already-published author or a celeb.!

Hello Gaylez. I've had a few short stories published and am trying to complete a novel. I have found it very difficult to finish though and I respect the fact you've pulled it off. For a few hundred people to buy it without a marketing machine commanding them to is testament to the worth of your writing. Hopefully you take encouragement from it and get on with completing your next one.

Kudos to you for finishing and publishing a book. I'll look you up on Amazon and hope to see more than one book you've authored.