Monday, March 11, 2013

Lessons Learned

Reaping the Harvest and my free short story, Circle ofJustice, is out on Smashwords.  If I uploaded everything correctly, then it’ll be available on Amazon, as well, and by the end of the week Create Space will be promoting hard copies on demand, for those like me who want a physical version and not just the digital.  That would be my parents, as well, who will want to put the book on their mantle for all to see that their son wasn’t a bum, after all.

It’s been a fun and exciting journey since I picked up Reaping in its short story version and decided to make it my first published novella.  It’s also been a great learning experience.  I’ve written for magazines before, but always while working one or two other “real” jobs.  Over a year ago the girls began the attempt to bring me out of the 9 to 5 workplace and into my writer’s den full time.  I wasn’t eager to make the jump, not wanting to abandon the steady, predictable cash flow I was bringing in for the unknown.  What I did agree to, however, was to slowly cut back on my work week and build up to it.  This would allow us to adjust our budget a little at a time to get acclimated to the lower income.  Hopefully, it doesn’t remain lower for long.

The first thing I learned was that I don’t have patience.  Okay, I already knew that, but it became quite obvious when we made the decision to have me quit by the end of 2012.  I wanted the year to fly.  Everything was pissing me off and I dreaded going to work each day.  I had to deal with people and, to be honest, consumers are morons.  I know you think you’re the exception, but trust me, you’re not.  Neither am I.  Finally, in September I gave up the fight and declared the year over.  Everyone else could continue until December 31st, but for me, September 9th was as far as I was going. 

This is when I learned my second lesson.  There is a big difference in writing in your spare time and writing all of the time.  Doing it because you want to is vastly different than doing it because you have to and now I had no choice.  This was my career path.  Writing for twenty minutes is one thing.  Writing for five or six hours is quite another.  However, this is what I had always dreamed my life would be, so I was not going to allow it to go to waste.

What I learned was that I needed to divide my day into smaller sections just like we do with the 8-year old’s steak.  Smaller bites go down easier.  I also set goals for the amount of words per day as well as how much revision I wanted to accomplish.  I had several irons in the fire, so I would switch between each and divide them up with platform building.   The key here was to not allow myself to get lost in the black hole of social media.  Not an easy thing to do at times.

I also learned to judge time better and add in for the unexpected.  The original release date for Reaping the Harvest was December 31, 2012.  However, that didn’t allow enough time for my editors-in-residence to pour over the manuscript.  They each had busy schedules of their own plus it was the holiday season, which triples any To Do list.  I needed to add some buffer room for the unexpected.  As eager as I was to have Reaping out there, I had to learn patience so that it could be molded into the best manuscript possible.

By the time the manuscript left the fourth editor’s hands and returned to mine, I learned that staring at something too long causes you to miss things.  I had changed hair color on one character without the benefit of a salon, had Rhychard fall asleep on the couch and wake up in an easy chair without sleep walking, and abandoned periods at the end of sentences.  To see something so often allows you to “see” what isn’t there.  I missed some elementary mistakes because I didn’t allow some time away from the manuscript.  We need to take a break.  Step away from it for awhile and work on something else to allow our mind’s to have a fresh look at it upon our return.  Then we might see those empty spaces where periods should be stopping the flow of words. 

I also learned that formatting is not always the same for each ereader.  Circle of Justice is on Smashwords, so I put Reaping the Harvest there, as well.  I love how they format it for almost any ereader a book enthusiast may own.  Kindle.  Nook.  Even the basic HTML.  They also graciously added my table of contents without me having to do anything except highlight the headers.  Amazon expects you to do the work yourself.

To be honest, it’s not that complicated.  Two extra steps really.  However in my rush to get the book on the giant conglomerate, I didn’t proof my copyright page enough.  The sample still says, “Smashwords,” although the purchased copy has been fixed to say Amazon.  If everyone was the same, it would be too easy.

Overall, the main lessons learned revolve around time.  Give my editors time to do their job.  Take my time in formatting.  Give the manuscript time to settle before digging back into it.  It’s all about time, which means it’s all about patience.  After all, I waited this long, right?  There’s always time to do things correctly.

Did you enjoy what you read?  Leave me a comment and then join me at The Mess that Is Me on Facebook!

Thanks for visiting The Mess!


  1. I enjoyed this. Thanks for sharing
    I was just writing about the way I leave off periods, have mistakes like "the the" or "and and". It's always good to read something relatable like what you've shared, here.
    *I still have the smashwords copyright page, too!

    1. Thank you! I'm glad you found it useful and encouraging. The more eyes the Thanks for visiting!

  2. Another great post and quite helpful as well. I know the feeling of jumping through too many hoops, keeping too many irons in different fires and as I call it, page blindness. I go from checking over a real estate contract to writing a blog to adding to my WIP and it usually spells, disaster!!! I'm ready to pull the plug on my other work to focus on the writing but just like you, I'm nervous. Seeing other people, like you, who are making the dream a reality keeps me going and gives me hope but I have to be honest, I'm going to have to borrow your minions. : )

    1. Thank you, Stephanie :) Without my minions I never would have made it this far, so I can relate to what you are saying. I'm still nervous, but as i see the book sales climb I gain the encouragement to keep scribbling. That plus the encouragement of great friends such as yourself. Happy writing, my friend!