During this time, I had turned to writing as a form of escape, as something that I could control in my chaotic life. As of six years ago, I had two completed projects - The Dragon's Return, which I knew needed serious rewriting before I could even think of publishing (and which is now Lady Dragon, Tela Du), and Sew, It's a Quest, which I had written with the Young Writer's Program NaNoWriMo the November before on a whim. I also had three different previous drafts of TDR, all in script version, and a few scripts for some other plays that I had written.
You see, growing up, if you had asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I probably wouldn't have said "author." Oh, no, I wanted to be an actress. But if I had to write my own scripts to get there, well, I was fine with that. I did love making up stories, and, to a less degree, writing them down. Had since I understood the concept. And being an author was always in my plans in a more low-key goal - I had my Tigerlilly stories that I was looking forward to publishing one day. I had only switched to prose when I realized that (1) the likelihood of me finding a cast to enact my Rizkaland plays was negligible and (2) the story was getting pretty stinkin' complicated, and it would be better off as a book.
My dad survived the heart attack. Still, with everything else going on, times were rough. I had just turned sixteen, and, even though my parents didn't expect it of me, as the oldest child, I felt pressured to help provide income for the family.
I had written Sew with NaNoWriMo, and, since I had reached my wordgoal, this meant that I got a free proof copy from CreateSpace. I'd been looking into some traditional publishers, not really finding any that I liked, and I hadn't wanted to do the old self-publishing method where you paid a company a couple thousand dollars to get your book printed. I couldn't afford that. But here was a company that printed on demand. That let you publish for practically FREE.
I put Sew together, used the Cover Creator to make a very generic cover, and, after some fairly vigorous edits given me by my mother, grandmother, and a cousin, ordered my proof copy at the LAST possible moment. Oh, it was so shiny and awesome. My own words, bound up in a REAL book. My every dream come true.
I didn't hit the "publish" button immediately. I knew the book still needed some edits, and I did do them. Some of them. The glaring ones. The ones that I noticed. I also decided that I wanted to use a penname. (Yup, my original proof copy has my REAL last name on it). I also set up the book on KDP. I don't remember how I found KDP. I think it was on CreateSpace's website.
August 4th, I hit my breaking point under the pressure. After a brief conversation with my mother on how I NEEDED a way to help provide income, I went into KDP and CreateSpace and pushed publish.
Oh, that was a moment of exhilaration.
I knew that the book wasn't perfect, but it was published. People could now buy it. People (aka family friends) WERE buying it.
I made a big mistake, though. At the time, I didn't have a bank account, so while I NOW have both CreateSpace and KDP on direct deposit, I had them send my first payments via check. But I decided to be cute and wrote "GiraffeCrafts" as my company name. It was my yarn business ... but ... um ... not recognized by banks. And that's the name that Amazon put down on the "Pay to" line. So I had to create the business legally so that I could cash my checks and open a bank account. (It cost me fifteen bucks to open the business, and I think I had, maybe, forty dollars between the two checks.)
I kinda forgot about the company. Until two years later when I received a letter from the state telling me that I owed $200 in taxes because I didn't tell them my inventory was nil. My dad paid that for me, and then, being an idiot, I didn't fix the issue of the state thinking that I had a $1000 inventory, and had to pay the $200 again the next year. This time, I paid. I did fix the issue, though, I think, because I haven't received any more letters from the state demanding $200. *squints at mailbox*
Moral of the story: Don't be cute and tell Amazon to send your checks to a fictional company.
That wasn't the only mistake I made my first year, but that was definitely the biggest one, and the one that has had the longest-lasting negative impact on my life.
Once all of my family friends had bought the book, I kinda stalled out on marketing. I had one blog interview, and one interview on an e-magazine that I contributed to, but that was it.
Until another cousin released a book. Cousin Tenya. Through her, I found Goodreads, and she helped me get a better cover for my book. I also joined her writing for O.Scarlett reviews (which I have now become practically the only contributor anymore).
And then KDP introduced KDP Select. I signed Sew up for that faster than you could yell "hot potato," and then I set it to be free on Christmas day. The downloads I saw from that weren't brillaint, but I liked it - so I set it for free multiple times following that.
Thanks to those free days, I found two people - Jaye L. Knight (then Molly Evangeline), and a blogger who's no longer blogging. Through Jaye, I found Sarah Holman's Homeschooled Authors. Through the blogger, I found "Actually Finishing Something in July" and, through that, a whole slew of authors and aspiring authors, one of them, Anne-Girl, being the one from whom I stole the idea of an e-Conference.
I do not recommend many of my publication choices to any aspiring author. It's been a long, awkward, uphill battle, and I really think that, if I had focused on building a readership BEFORE I published, the climb wouldn't have been half so difficult. Still, it's the journey that I took, and it has led me where I am today, and I wouldn't have it any other way. (Except for the fact that I had to pay $400. THAT I would like to change.)
I would like to open the floor now for questions. Anything concerning my writing, my writing process, or my writing journey. Unlike the other authors, who will only be available for the day of thier posting, I will be here all week to answer, but be patient, because it may take me a while to get to it. I'm scrambling about getting all these lovely posts up for you, after all.