Bound by Life, my first book, an anthology of short stories based in India, is nearly complete. I started it in March, and am publishing it through Kindle on June 20, 2015. In these three months, I have learnt a lot about the writing process in general, and my own preferences in particular. In today’s blog post, I share those lessons with you.
1) Deadlines are both bad and good: I started Bound by Life as if on a dare. I discovered Kindle Self-Publishing and thought this genie was daring me to write and publish a book as soon as I could.
At that point, I was in my final semester of engineering, and had a lot to do besides writing stories. I had never really considered this fact while starting the book, and selecting a deadline. As the days progressed, I started to panic. I had finished five of the ten stories I intend to publish in Bound by Life by 5th May. By the end of May, that number had only increased by one. I mean I had other stories in the pipeline too, but those were half-way or quarter-way through. And lesser time with the stories means lesser time with editing, which can often be a bad thing.
Then again, I had never been a disciplined writer. I have written since I was eight. But it was only recently that I found out that what I wrote were mostly poems, blog and diary entries when what I really wanted to write was some great fiction that would change people’s lives! If I didn’t use that deadline, I would perhaps still be writing what I usually wrote. Since that deadline, I have not only written stories for my book, but sent a few to magazines as well. One of my stories, I am Mala, was published in the May edition of eFiction magazine this year! Hurray!
2) Writing is important, but editing is much more important: Now, any author knows this: we can’t stress editing enough. Every time I went back to one of my stories, I found I could tweak some sentences to make them sound more interesting, or erase entire paragraphs that added nothing to the story. I wish I had more time with the editing process for Bound by Life. But I am doing the best that I can.
3) There are going to be creative ups and lows: While I was writing stories for Bound by Life, on certain days I was sure my stories were awesome and I was over the moon, smug and all that. On other days I was just panicking and thinking my books would never sell any copies.
Then, I realized all this was quite natural. To wave off these mixed feelings, I tried to be more involved in my real life. The fact that I had my final semester exams helped, because at that time I was distracted and too busy to think that my book was trash or too good. I spent more time around people, read books, and discussed those books. I wrote reviews for stories. Mostly, I wanted to come back to the stories with a fresh mind and a more positive outlook.
4) Each story is different, and has to be handled differently: if you have ever worked on an anthology, you’ll know the feeling. There were some stories I wrote in three hours while others stretched on for weeks – these were the ones which appeared interesting to me when I first thought of them, but then didn’t know how to get them down in words.
There was this one story which I had high hopes for. It had a character, an elderly lady, who I was interested in. But I wasn’t familiar with the state of mind of a woman of her background and age to pen it authentically (as a writer, I tend to draw inspiration from real life quite heavily). Finally, after sending the first draft to a couple of acquaintances (a process which made me see the flaws in the story all the more clearly, and I kept telling them that it was a first draft and they shouldn’t judge me by it), I realized I should put away this story until I felt mature enough to deal with its characters. There is a right time for everything, and for a writer (as with anyone in any other profession), it is very important to know your shortcomings, and accept them gracefully.
5) Your first self-published book is perhaps really not going to be the best-seller you were hoping it to be: Hell, perhaps it will not even sell fifty copies. The publishing industry today has changed a great deal in favour of indie writers, especially thanks to Amazon. But writing your first book and making it a publishing success are two different things. And the process is especially difficult if you are a nobody like me, with a meagre Twitter/Facebook/blog following (not that I am saying that those are the only necessary criteria to sell your book).
When I first began writing this book, I had these dreams of selling so many copies and making lots of money. But in the last two months I have read lots of articles on publishing to know better. Finally, I accepted that I wasn’t going to make any money from Bound by Life, and that made life easy. Thanks to that acceptance, I have different marketing ideas now to pitch Bound by Life, but that is going to be another blog-post.
Until later, have a nice week and keep blogging!
Great article. Thanks.
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Welcome! I am so glad that you liked the post! 🙂
Its always good to hear the real experience than to watch you tube videos or other websites, just to know how to get your work published. Really want to hear about your publishing strategies of your book.
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Sure, I would love to write about that if my strategies indeed get me some readership. 🙂 Thanks for reading the article.
Hi Arpita, Good insights. Do keep writing about what you have learned about self-publishing. I’m curious myself.
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Thank you. Yes, I will be updating whatever I learn from time to time.
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