Hello, everyone! As a newly published author who feels like she's just beginning her writing journey, I'm going to share how everything came about with my first novel, Martin Hospitality.
I have always loved to write. I have dozens of documents saved to my computer and notebooks stuffed on my shelf that I have jotted story bits in. I loved doing this every time an idea struck, but it never went very far, and I was okay with that. I knew that someday I was going to get the creative power to finish one of the stories and it was going to be awesome. I guess I was content for that creativity to fall out of the sky because I didn't work very hard or consistently on any of my ideas. But they made me a better writer while I waited.
In March of 2015, I had a bizarre dream. It was a combination of a Beverly Lewis novel, my aunt's impending move to Kansas, and a large Christian family. While it wasn't my first strange mashup dream to have, the idea of a pregnant teenager running from her past and learning to trust … stuck with me.
By June of 2015, I had revisited the story idea several times and was surprised when a coherent plot, complete with a twist, formed almost effortlessly. Sitting down to write some of it, I did what I always did: I wrote the climax (which later became chapter 12). I sent it off to a local author friend for feedback and she enjoyed it! I was so thrilled that Jamie thought I had talent outside of the technical issues that I sat down to plot the rest of it more thoroughly.
In September of 2015 I began writing the story in earnest from the beginning. Jamie continued to give me feedback as I finished the chapters and sent them to her, which helped me adjust my trajectory and refine my talent as I wrote.
Loving the process, I managed to gather an alpha reader team that totaled 5 friends who received the first draft chapter by chapter. Their encouragement, feedback, and excitement is what kept me going. First drafts are not to be underestimated. It took me 10 months exactly to complete the first draft, but it was so rewarding to know that I had actually finished something!
I took time off in July of 2016. I didn't want to work on my 100,000 word novel. I wrote a novella in Camp NaNo and attended a writing conference, both of which were firsts that kept me productive.
In August, I turned 18, my blog celebrated 6 months, and the Olympics played constantly. In the midst, I read through the novel and revised it based on my alpha readers' feedback and my own analysis.
The month of September, a team of 16 beta readers received my novel’s most recent draft in two halves. (Yeah, didn't quite finish in August.) The betas' feedback and fangirling (and fanboying) for the entirety of that month was the best.
Martin Hospitality underwent its greatest revision after having those 16 friends give me loads of constructive criticism. Most of it I applied; some of it I didn't think was in the best interest of my story. Having a lovely group of people I could discuss the deeper issues and underlying foundation of my book with was amazing. They caught errors and suggested improvements that made my book so much better.
I'm pretty sure I knew the entire time that I wanted to self-publish, but I was certain by this point when I began hiring all the professionals :)
In early October, my uncle took me to meet the wonderful Mandy Cave who painted my cover. Having that face-to-face meeting made all the difference and I felt very confident in her skills by the time I left.
In late October, I had finished the heavy revision and sent the novel to Kelsey Bryant for a professional edit. I was very impressed with the quality and speed of her work. The process was much more enjoyable that I expected it to be!
I distracted myself during Kelsey's edit by participating in NaNoWriMo. I made the time, hit 50,000 words, and wanted to hibernate for a year.
But I couldn't. I revised my novel again according to Kelsey's input and sent it to a friend for one final read which resulted in another revision.
Perry Elisabeth Design formatted it in late December and I was pleased by the speed and quality of their work as well. They were very helpful and prompt, especially considering I had no idea what I was doing.
By mid January, I had the final cover painting from Mandy and my uncle and I agreed on the layout for the text. I threw together a cover reveal to create some excitement. It cost me more sanity, but oh well.
Perry and her husband also got the formatted content sent to me in January. I uploaded the cover and the content files to CreateSpaceand selected all the details that no one ever thinks about.
While I was sweating the timeline for my February 4, 2017 release date, I ordered a print proof and finalized the paperback and Kindle versions in late January. I had about one week to spare! It wasn’t hard to use that time finalizing details and getting the word out.
My blog tour for the novel began on my release date so that the novel would be available for purchase as people learned of it. While the tour took a lot of organization (again, in January), the actual tour went smoothly, and I loved seeing my novel reach new people.
It's been just two short years since my writing journey began in earnest and I'm so glad to have made it this far! It's been a lot of work, but it's been so rewarding. I know that this is what I'm supposed to be doing. God and friends have been with me every step of the way and that has made all the difference!
Phew, did that seem long to you? It seemed long to me. But I felt like I was really summarizing, so I'm sure I missed something (like the amount of blood, sweat, tears, and sleep deprivision it took). And the fact that I had no idea how long everything was going to take. That makes it really hard to set a release date!
What would you like to hear more about? Ask me any questions you please! I wouldn't have made it to publication without asking questions from my more experienced friends. I'd love to make your journey simpler if at all possible :)