My 2017 Wrap-Up

I think it’s safe to say that 2017 has been a hell of a year for so many of us. In both grandiose, historic ways and more personal, close-to-home ways, this was a year of unpredictability, wild fluctuation, and seemingly endless frustration. Sure, there were some amazing highlights, but it was so hard to grasp where things stood from one moment to the next. Just when you felt you had a handle on things, they’d slip away and change again. It was exhausting keeping up with 2017.

But I don’t really want to talk about any of that stuff.

I will remember 2017 as the year I published my first book. That’s what I want to talk about. Because wow is that something I never could have imagined myself saying. Ever.

Here’s something else I never thought I’d say: I’m proud of what I accomplished. Trust me, those words do not come easy. I’m wrestling with my inner critic right now as I type them. (“C’mon, it wasn’t that great,” my critic is saying. “It’s not like you even tried to get it traditionally published. You were too afraid of the inevitable rejection letters.”) Shut up, Inner Critic.

If I’m being totally honest, I guess, deep down, I did think I could write a book. I mean, I wouldn’t have started if I couldn’t imagine finishing. In the beginning it was a lark, something fun to break up the monotony of freelance writing. And it was fun for a while. Then it wasn’t. Then it was again. Around the middle of the year I gave myself a deadline and aimed to have a completed first draft by then. Somehow I did it. And in the process, I found that I loved the book more than I thought I would. It was just going to be this throwaway thing, a learning experience, an exercise in creativity and following through. But by the time I was finished the story had gotten under my skin. I had an inkling I could write a book, but I didn’t know I could write a decent one. Sales have been steady and reviews have been generally positive. Not that I need outside validation. 

Just kidding. I can’t even type that with a straight face. I rely on it way too much. It’s something I plan to work on in 2018.

Anyway, that one accomplishment led to many more. I mastered Scrivener. I taught myself how to edit critically and thoughtfully (though you wouldn’t think so with those conspicuous adverbs there). I designed my own cover. I wrestled with, and eventually conquered, formatting. I delved into social media, started a Twitter account, created a page on Facebook, started this blog. All of this in the last half of the year, and nearly all of it starting from square one. Through promoting the book I’ve had some amazing experiences and met some wonderful, supportive people. It’s served as a nice balance to the outside noise, and a reminder that while there will always be trolls out there, we human beings are capable of boundless kindness and generosity.

And so, my main resolution for 2018 (other than trying to give up refined sugar–wish me luck!) is to keep up the momentum and continue doing what I’ve been doing. I’m working on another romance to follow Buzzworthy, so that’s my immediate goal. Beyond that, I’m not making any predictions. After all, I couldn’t have predicted at the end of last year how this one would turn out. So I’m just going to take it as it comes.

If you’re reading this I wish you a happy and safe new year. May you accomplish everything you set out to do in 2018!

My First Author Interview

Everyone has tips about how to sell books as a self-published author, but one piece of advice I’ve always found valuable is to make connections, and to make the most of them (that’s good advice for any industry, actually). Reach out. E-mail. Like. Share. Retweet. Whether you’re interacting with editors, readers, other writers, or anyone else with whom you share an interest, there’s no substitute for the personal touch. Those relationships will not only provide you with a base of support when you hit a creative wall, they may come in handy in your professional life too.

If you write books about Hollywood and happen know someone who has a blog devoted to books and movies, why not make the most of that connection to promote your book? So when my friend Chris, who co-runs the blog Novel2Screen, reached out to me to see if I’d do an interview for the site, I was thrilled. She could help introduce my book to her followers and I could drive book readers to her site. Win win.

She asked great questions and the whole experience made me feel like a real author. I talked about the book, the characters, inspiration, and the difficulty of writing a book set in Hollywood in the midst of an industry-wide sex scandal (I have plenty more to say about that, but I’ll save it for another day). I’m really happy with how it turned out.

You can read the full interview here.

Incidentally, Novel2Screen focuses on TV and movie adaptations of books, and features great weekly reviews of shows like Outlander. So come for the author rambling, stay for the snarking about sexy Scots.

Self-Published is Only Half-Finished

I don’t know why I thought it would be a good idea to release my first book at the beginning of November and try and do NaNoWriMo too. I guess I figured once my debut romance novel, Buzzworthy, was done and up on Amazon for sale I could just brush my hands and walk away. Ha! Rookie mistake.

Because, you see, when you’re self-publishing, writing the book is only part of the process. It’s not even, like, a third of the process. Besides writing the book, there’s editing the book, formatting the book (for print and digital), designing the cover (or getting someone else to), and repeating all those steps over and over until you’re so sick of looking at it you don’t even care if there’s a hanging em dash in that one paragraph. But really you do care, so you go through all the steps again. And once that’s done, there’s the whole process of uploading and waiting for it to go live and look! Someone pinch you! You’re a published author on Amazon, right up there with your favorite authors! Just like you’ve always dreamed!

But.

No one is buying the book.

I won’t say no one, because I got eight sales the first weekend it was up, including six pre-orders (I’ll do a post later about why it’s a dumb idea to do pre-orders for your first book — another rookie mistake). But then it just kind of stalled. Because I forgot about marketing. You’ve got to promote the book. Which is kind of meta, actually, because the love interest in Buzzworthy is a movie star who hates promoting his movies. Wonder where that came from?

I have a Twitter account and I have this shiny new blog. I’m trying to be more engaging and put myself out there. But it’s hard. Especially for writers, who tend to be an introverted lot. So this week I’m diving into marketing and we’ll see how it goes. If I make any more mistakes other new writers could learn from, you’ll hear about it here.

Oh, and please feel free to check out my book on Amazon! If you like it, be sure to leave a nice review. I have only one so far. Bless you, Jeri T. Ryan, whoever you are. I’ll bet you get mixed up with that actress from Star Trek all the time and that probably kind of sucks, but you seem super nice. You were the first stranger to review my book, and you gave it five stars, so I wish only good things for you and your loved ones and your descendants in perpetuity.

Like I said, I’m still figuring this all out. And maybe tomorrow I’ll get back on track with my NaNo project.