I'm about to post something a little about myself. This is not a rant but more of me sharing a piece of my story.
It's not an easy decision to share your writing with the world. It's not an easy act of trusting people you don't know (even if you hope to one day grow to know them). A moment hasn't gone by since I have begun this journey where I haven't asked myself "Do you know what you're doing?" The answer remains the same... No.
I love to write. I mostly love poetry. Last year I was at a very low point in my life and stuck in a very dark recess in my mind. Last time I ever felt that desolate was in high school and my dark poetry journey became my escape. Needing that same escape last year I devoured many many many novels from other authors that my one click finger has grown attached to. Retracting into a fiction story helped me cope with the out control stuff in my real life story. That worked for quiet a while until I needed more... more of something I didn't even realize I was missing.
I've always had an imagination. I picture things in unusual ways and I daydream constantly. My mind slips into a realm that isn't reality sometimes (not the crazy kind but the story reel kind). Growing up with these strange visions in my mind of events that have never happened or don't really involve me was bizarre to me. I often felt... odd (lack of a better word) in that voices thundered in my head. Not voices like telling me to do stuff. But voices that wanted to tell me stuff. Does that even make sense?
So one day (last year) I sat down with my lap top and I listened. I really listened and I began writing. I let the fiction world in my mind become a real world on my lap top. Once I started tapping away it just poured out (it became an obsession). This story went one way while another began and no two connected just right. They were two completely different stories with two completely different feelings. Then a third hit me in the face where I lie with insomnia and a brain that never shuts up. It was THAT one which helped me escape. That story became my true focus and the title for Escape the Doubt became my debut. Because that is truly what I felt I needed to do at that point in my life.
I released it into the wild unknown in October. It's been slow moving and truth be told it's because of many reasons that I definitely understand (timing, genre, lack of pimping skills, lack of know how, awesome freaking authors already out there). No two things were perfect and most things were just not perfect.
I poured my heart into those pages and I shared it (that in itself was a goal met). I have never ever shared my writing. Not at all because I don't think it's worthy, a little because I'm afraid to do so and a lot because it's personal and belonged to me. To share it meant letting it belong to someone else too and I wasn't sure I could do that. Obviously I changed my mind since I did share.
I became Riley Shaw and a piece of me became Joshua Parker. Little pieces of me were each of the characters in my book. Riley is a teen who writes dark poetry to escape all of the emotions she feels. It's her way of coping just as it was mine. I let her have her own voice and in return she let me escape with her. I researched a lot before I released. Scared to death of failure and insecure that I just wasn't good enough to do this. Everything I read told me that incorporating poetry into a novel was sure to fail. That took my tiny piece of fear and turned into a giant weight on my chest. However I ignored the weight and I ignored the fear and I put the poetry in my novel. Why? Because it was a piece of my character (it was a piece of me). Every poem in my book was written by me when I was in high school as a troubled teen with emotions I didn't understand.
Moments in that novel were real moments inspired from either my own experiences or that imaginative reality where my mind slips to live at times.
Self publishing has been a multitude of a lot of things. Most days I feel absolutely grateful and excited to be taking the leap. Some days I feel just plain clueless when I see that I'm NOT doing a lot of the things I see other authors doing. I don't have a blog tour. I didn't hire a marketing team. I haven't made guest appearances or looked into conferences or signings. It's just been one step and then another step and eventually maybe those steps might take off sprinting.
However for now I'm just learning and figuring this all out. Every step I've made I've done it on my own. From creating my blog, buying photographs and creating teasers, designing my facebook cover to formatting my own book. I started out with a premade book cover and knew from day one (even though beautiful) it didn't speak to me. Not able to afford the amazing covers I saw out there really bummed me out. It was my husband who actually told me to make my own and just keep trying. Gimp is a bitch btw. BUT... I learned how to do all the graphics (tutorials are awesome) and I figured out how to format my book (with a lot of hair loss from pulling it) on my own into multiple formats needed to deliver ARC's and proofread on my kindle... so I could do this last thing too. Shutterstock has become my best friend. Searching for days until I found the two pictures that I knew in an instant screamed at me that they were the ones. Two? Yes, the debut and the sequel. I set off to making my own cover and then uploading it to the already released book. This new cover definitely connects to me as I picture my character and what I wanted it to portray on first glance.
I made a mental note that I have done EVERYTHING backwards. I didn't build a platform first and I didn't contact bloggers months in advance. I didn't believe in my graphic ability until after the fact. I didn't make a social media appearance beforehand. What I did do... I wrote a book and I hit publish. So much--so so so much more goes into this job. I'd love to make this a career as I never even knew the piece I was missing in my soul was the piece I never let out. Unlocking a passion I kept to myself has been freeing and now I can't picture it any other way.
Some days I think it's just not gonna happen. I might have let this piece be shared but it might never really turn into something more than a book I shared sitting on a TBR shelf of lots of people. However I've learned that patience is virtue. And sometimes to fly means leaping off the edge with a wing and a prayer and two left feet. Would it really be considered failure if I don't make a best seller list? Not to me. Would it really be considered failure if an agent or publishers never contact me one day? Again, not to me. Are both of those things something that would be amazing? Abso.freakin.lutely. But my point is that I tried. I took a chance. I risked it all to share this story.
I wouldn't recommend anyone flying the way I have. I would definitely do all the steps in reverse if I could go back and do it differently. All in all though... it's done. I stepped out there the way I have and I can only grow and learn from here.
I'm excited to get to know a bunch of amazing new people, creating friendships that might not ever have been made otherwise, and just having the opportunity at all. So thanks. Thanks for welcoming me into this crazy world. I've learned it's pretty crazy. ;) Thanks for embracing my debut and for letting me share it with you. Thanks for letting me escape and be the person that I'm finally letting free. And thanks for the future... where ever it may lead me.
That's all. Long story but true story. *puts mic down and blows kiss*