Friday, August 7, 2015

My Journey (warning: some angst and frustration ahead)

I just put my book onto Amazon Kindle Select.

My Journey (warning: some angst and frustration ahead)  

It wasn't an easy step: one I fought for years. It seems to be the best way to go for unpublished writers, though. My reservations included not being professionally edited (costs a lot of money!), not being accepted first by someone "in the biz," and not being promoted by a big machine. This last one melted away as I learned that any author must promote herself constantly and shamelessly. On the plus side of self-publishing, I let the book go. For years (yes, years, even decades), I have worked off and on on this book. More about that, later. I even wrote a second, very different book. Another advantage is maybe someone will read it. I have sent out many, many, many query letters to agents and publishers. If I heard back at all, I could not tell if the person actually read any part of what I sent or simply shuffled my request from the 'slush' pile into the 'reject' pile. Even people I know promised to give it a look only after it was published. As for writers' groups, I live in a small town and have been unable to form a group locally, and I don't trust online reviewers. They might be qualified and great, but how do I know? I take every suggestion and criticism seriously and run in to change this or that. Finally, I decided it would never be perfect for a multitude of online reviewers.

So, yes, this book has taken years and years to write. First, let me say I do have a 'day job.' I'm a public school teacher, and it takes a lot of energy and focus to do my best in that endeavor. Summer is my dedicated writing/editing/submission time. To back up, I began this book before computers were commonplace. I hand wrote the first draft, then typed it using a typewriter. At that point, it was a choose-your-own-romance adventure. It went something like this: should our heroine go with the handsome intellectual man she meets at the party, or home with the friend she came in with? This entailed a lot of plots, as you might imagine. An agent was interested, but before I could finish transcribing it onto type-written pages, she reneged, saying this format had been tried before and had failed (I could find no record of any published book in this format, but never mind). After many more rejections, I rewrote the main story line into one book. This changed, many times, over the summers. It was in second person point-of-view, then first person, and finally, third person with sections following the main characters' thoughts and feelings. I feel I have tried it all, and still had not been published (as a novelist: meanwhile, I was writing news and magazine articles).

As I edited and polished the manuscript, for the umpteenth time, I decided to put it "out there." I didn't want to offer it for free, because I feared that might mean, to someone somewhere, that it wasn't worth anything. I balanced my wish to give it exposure vs. a very competitive marketplace, and I listed it for .99. And why would people want to read it?

For one thing, it's fun and interesting! The main character is a mixture of people I know, all born and raised in the Midwest. I hope readers will identify with someone who isn't sure what she wants to do with her life, but she isn't happy with the way it's going. Different elements pull at her: romance, career, higher education, family relationships. She moves herself out of 'neutral' by jumping in with a group of professors to explore the Himalaya to find evidence of the Yeti. Trailing her like wheeled luggage, her ex-boyfriend pulls at her to return home to Kansas. She's plus-sized, pretty but no beauty, and considers herself out of a certain handsome guide's league. She wrangles herself a newspaper correspondent gig which she soon loses because her columns borrow from the great books. She gets herself out of one jam only to find herself in one worse. Some people, she concludes, should not be allowed to run lose.

"Liberty's Pursuit of Happiness" is available on amazon as an eBook. ,
Readers can view the first ten pages to get an idea of style and content. I have a prequel short story which will be available soon, free, from Smashwords. 

IN this blog, I'd like to encourage and support other self-published writers, especially ones writing women's fiction. We might share the written word, or adventures on online publishing . . .