Last I wrote, I was agonizing over whether to seek a publisher or to self-publish my first novel. Each option seemed overwhelmingly daunting to my novice author brain. So I set out to educate myself.
While attending a women in publishing conference here in Chicago, I spoke with a number of small publishers. None keen on the self-publishing option.
They warned me that no publisher will ever touch my novel once it has been self-published. They even assured me that once a novel is self-published, no one will ever know about it because there are a billion other self-published books out in the universe. They said my brilliant work (or mediocre work depending on critics) would die in obscurity if I decided on the self-publishing route. Yikes!
As a woman whose first serious effort into fiction writing is a full-length 100k word Lesbian romance novel, I was at odds. My initial goal had always been too self-publish, now what? I did not want to find that I wasted a year of my life writing a story no one would ever read. I mean, I believe my work can stand on its own merit. I’ve written a fun story, full of witty charming charismatic characters. I’m quite pleased with it. I would be absolutely thrilled for lovers of fun lite fiction to read it and find joy in its humor and romance. I’d be honored and humbled. I’m sure I’d even cry.
The direr warnings made sense to me. I needed to think. What should I do? Should I learn how to write a brilliant query letter and send it out with my precious manuscript to scores of publishers hoping one would notice me? That could take months, even years! Oh, why oh why had I opted to get a Masters in business instead of advertising?! I could have had the skills to market my first novel to every lesbian in the world! And of course, all those lovely non-lesbians who like to read lesbian fiction.
I couldn’t sleep, (I could eat though), I had those funny little cartoon question marks clouding my brain. Find a publisher? Self-publish? The confusion was making me cranky and stagnant. I needed to get moving.
My indecision came to an end recently in the form of a receipt for $1600.00 that I found pinned to my whiteboard. How could I have not considered the $1600.00 I paid a self-publishing company back in January 2019, well before I even knew what I was doing, to help get my manuscript off the ground?
Yes, $1600.00. I could not simply drop my contract with the company and let the money go, that would be an expensive lesson.
So the decision has been made, self-publishing it will be. Now, next step, to work on marketing and attracting readers to check out my new website and get excited, (I’d settle for interested) in my first novel.
Next up; making the best of self-publishing and learning the ins and outs of advertising to market my brand (which is C.M. Castillo, author). I like the sound of that.
In December 2017 I decided I was going to write a book. This was not a rash decision, I have always wanted to write. I recall clearly announcing to my mother, as a ten-year-old, that I was going to write a novel. She smiled and continued watching Days of Our Lives. I wasn't offended, I once told her I wanted to take singing lessons and go to clown school. My decision to become a writer was different however, I was serious. I just had no idea it would take half my life to actually do it.
I believe my desire to write has quite a lot to do with the fact that I tend to always have something to say. No one that knows me has ever accused me of being timid or introverted.
Though I can be shy, I'll save that bit for another time.
So, as the old cliché goes, better late than never, I began my journey writing fiction, Lesbian romance fiction to be specific. Nine months after I first hit the computer keys I completed it, so I thought. I loved, loved, loved my novel, that is until I didn't.
As a new author, I made the mistake of adding more detail than was necessary (over 150k words to be exact), I had also forgotten about punctuation, sentence structure...well you get the picture. It wasn't until my beloved manuscript received a professional editorial evaluation that I realized my precious baby needed a whole lot of work. So, once I stopped crying, and feeling like a failure I started all over again.
Now after approximately ten iterations and two professional editors, my manuscript is where I want it to be, and where I need it to be. Good enough to actually be read and enjoyed by bright intelligent lovers of Lesbian fiction.
As I sang and skipped my way to happiness, I was hit with a tidal wave of reality. Should I go the self-publish route or the traditional publishing route???
Next up, to self-publish or not? Well, it all depends...