13 August 2021

I finished the book!

Photo by Arno Senoner on Unsplash
Thanks to a series of back-to-back holidays, one vacation day, and two sets of weekends, I have nine days off from work. 

What did I do during this time so far? I essentially locked myself in my apartment and wrote, wrote, wrote. And that's how I finished the book! Huzzah!

282 pages.

79,032 words. 

Is the book really finished? 


I have to revise it, and to be honest, I finished the book with sections missing. I wrote little placeholder notes and highlighted them in yellow for me to come back to, then just pressed on without fixing those scenes. 

So the book is complete in that I made it all the way to "the end" of the story, but the story itself has some plot holes and unresolved issues that need to be hammered out in the second draft. 

I feel like a huge chunk of the middle is still missing. There's a romantic relationship that just comes out of nowhere, and I have to go back and lay a proper foundation for that. And I have an ending, but the ending leaves out some information that I think readers will want to know, so I might end up totally redoing that, too. 

The last time I had drafted a book in full was my thesis, and when I finished it, it felt finished. This is the first time I've experienced a finished draft that still feels like it has a lot of work. And it's a bit on the short side for me--I was expecting at least 80,000 words. 

I was advised to sit on the draft for a month before hopping back into it again. Honestly, I don't know if I can last that long. I have a tendency to forget things if I don't address them right away, and I'm worried that's going to happen. I will take a week break at least, but I don't think I can stop thinking about what to do with the novel while I don't touch it. 

I'm also working on all the things I need to do to self-publish it. I went ahead and got the cover art licensed; made cover mockups through Book Brush; paid for interior formatting from Book Design Templates (I used them before for my thesis and was pleased with their work), and downloaded some art for advertising. All of this was relatively inexpensive for me, so that's why I nabbed this stuff so quickly. 

Now I'm trying to save my money for proofreading and copy editing. They are going to be the largest expenses, and I'm legitimately scared about it, because what I need to be saving my money for is the return to America (my work contract in Japan ends July 31, 2022). I'm not sure how to do both at the same time, but I'm going to try it. Honestly, I'm still waiting on two of my economic stimulus checks and that would probably pay for copy editing at least. 

Again, it seems like I'm jumping the gun, but knowing how awful I am with money, I feel like I need to start saving ASAP for these things. 

In the meantime, I'm going to sit on my hands to try not to touch the book while I stress about the future! Whee! 

04 August 2021

I Bit the Bullet...I'm Gonna Self-Pub!

Photo by James Tarbotton on Unsplash
My, what an emotional journey I've been on trying to decide what to do while writing Son of the Siren.  And as you know, I don't really hide my thought processes or how I make decisions on this blog, so you've seen articles like Why I'm Trying to Go Traditional and On Second Thought...Maybe I Spoke Too Soon...where I hem and haw back and forth on how to bring my baby into the world. 

It seems like I shouldn't put the horse before the cart. Why should I think about publishing when the book isn't finished yet? But I've been talking to people, and they've confirmed this isn't something I should really be putting on the backburner. I need to have some kind of plan of action, and I'm coming up on the home stretch of writing anyway, so I need to start thinking about the next step. 

There's lots of work to be done before a book goes to print. I'm in the drafting stage but then there's rewriting based on developmental edits, then rewriting based on copy edits, then proofreading...a manuscript goes through several stages before it's ready for the world to see. So even though I've decided right now the way I want to go for Son of the Siren, there's still many things I have to work on. 

But I'm mostly thinking about it now because I need to save my money while I still have a job.

I mentioned that the primary reason I originally wanted to go traditional was because the author doesn't have to invest or be financially responsible for the things that publishing entails. They write the book, then they get paid for that book (although the way authors are getting paid keeps changing). But for self-publishing, you assume the costs and risks yourself. 

There is technically a way to publish for free, and ways to design your book yourself for free. So...affordable self-publishing is out there. But usually it's a risk doing things on the cheap side. There are services that I want for my book and there's a certain look and feel that I want for it, too...and it costs money. Like, lots of money. I'm trying to find cheaper alternatives to these things, but so far, here's what I've come up with from doing lots of research (all quotes are based off of an 80,000 word novel):

  • Editorial letter - $650 - $1200
  • Developmental editing - $1450 - $6,000
  • Copy editing - $1600 - $3,000
  • Proofreading - $900 - $1200
This is just for everything that goes into the manuscript before it's ready for publication. I have been pricing book formatting, ISBNs, promotion, book reviews, etc. Self-publishing is a huge investment. 

What sparked my interest in self-publishing Son of the Siren (or rather, what changed my mind) was some good conversations with experienced writers, some blog articles that kind of freaked me out, some first-person accounts from Book Twitter, and then really sitting down and thinking about how much control I want to relinquish over a book. 

That's the question, isn't it? 

I thought about my experience writing in my life. I've always done it my own way. It's what I'm used to. When I wrote for the stage, I had other people helping me, but I always had the final word on how things looked, how they felt, and how they went...I am used to being in control of my product. If I've done it this way for years, how would self-pubbing be any different (aside from more expensive and a bigger undertaking)?  

And I'm a bit of a control freak, to be honest. 

I've heard stories about all sorts of changes requested to do to someone's work creatively in order for it to be considered acceptable for an agent's or publisher's eyes...and some of those suggestions went against an author's core beliefs about their own work. If someone told me to change the title to my book, I'd bristle. If someone wanted me to rename characters or cut the love subplot I'd explode. There's got to be some flexibility and trust when you hand your work off to someone else to sell and promote it, and as terrible as that sounds, I am finding out I'm not that flexible. 

Just the other day I was looking at artwork different artists had made for me and there was one piece, by Juhaihai, that really spoke to me. It hit me hard: this is going to be the cover to my book. And I realized I didn't want anything else for it, I felt so strongly about it. I realized I wanted to be more in control of my work than I thought I did. 

And I also realized something else, just from working directly with an artist -- things might not be as expensive as I thought. I was given a great deal on the commercial licensing of the image, and it didn't break my wallet. Maybe, if I did even more research, I could find more affordable ways to pull off the publication of Son of the Siren. Maybe things weren't, and aren't, as insurmountable as I think them to be. 

But the most important thing is that no matter what, this book is going to be out there, in some way, in your hands. And the fact that I don't have to worry about that anymore has taken a huge weight off of my shoulders, and I'm already feeling less anxiety as I work on completing the book. The fact that I've finally made a decision on what to do feels so good!

Please wish me luck on this endeavor! And right now, it's back to writing! Go, go, go!