How I Wrote and Self-Published My First Novel

Hello, readers and writers!

This Wednesday I’m talking about my journey in self-publishing No Expectations in 2017. This novel was the first and will probably be the only time I work on a project entirely by myself. I had beta-readers and one unprofessional edit from an English major, but that’s about it. I’m still very proud of this release, but I do realize how much I limited myself by not getting an agent, publisher, or anything else, and I’m okay with that.

First Stage

Writing the damn thing. I’d been working on a few other projects at the time, including an early version of Escape: A Romance Novel. But once I got a clear idea for this story, I went with it and it was almost impossible to stop me for the two weeks it took to complete (I know, that’s crazy fast for 50,000 words).

Before writing No Expectations, I thought my field of writing would be YA literature. I’d written a few manuscripts (or at least parts of them) as YA, but it never completely felt like me. I wanted something sexier with a stronger emphasis on the relationship because that’s where my focus has always stayed while reading most novels. YA usually concentrates more on personal growth (as it should), and I felt that wasn’t something I wanted my writing to center on so strongly.

Steps to self-publishing

Winter of 2016, I watched To Hell or High Water with the beautiful Chris Pine. He’d been an inspiration in my writings before when I was much younger, so I decided to bring him back. I researched his age and stared at him a few times before coming up with the idea of neighbors in a building who cross paths often. At first, I was thinking of pairing him with a businesswoman around his age, and then it changed to a college student, and later it eventually became someone who was freshly an adult. An eighteen-year-old still living with her parents.

I loved the taboo of the relationship and the idea of becoming an adult while pretending to be an adult. To help the reader not focus on the age aspect so much, I made Stephen (the hero) less freaked out about the whole thing, but not in a creepy way. I know how much people look down on relationships with such an age gap, but I really wanted the readers to root for these characters. To find comfort and love in one another.

That’s the fantasy of romance, right? Finding love in ways we never thought possible?

I wrote NE in two weeks. I wrote non-stop. The entire story was laid out for me, and I just couldn’t stop until I got to the end. This is the only time that’s ever happened to me, and I wonder if when I’m a full-time writer that this process could become my routine. No taking breaks for homework or anything else. Just weeks of writing until the project is finished.

A girl can dream, huh?

Editing Stage

The editing stage took about eight months. I went through the manuscript about six or seven times with two rounds of beta-reading. Everyone who helped me during this process was friends and family members. I couldn’t afford to pay anyone professional to pitch in, so it the work was mostly on me.

And I worked my butt off as best I could with the little knowledge I had at the time. I’m still proud of NE and have no regrets about the process, but I’m afraid to reread it in fear I’ll find flaws I hadn’t before. And that’s fine. I’m already planning new editions in the future. NE will be a part of me forever, and I definitely do believe it’s worth a read. I’m not just saying that because it’s my own writing. I love the story and have smiled while reading it many times.

There were moments when I wanted to give up. School got in the way or the declining few friendships I had, but finishing this book was important to me. I’d claimed myself a writer the year before, and it was finally happening. I was making it happen, and I plan to continue to make it happen.

Publishing Stage

This stage was all trial-and-error. I googled formatting and then had to reformat over and over again. I needed make the margins fit for a paperback copy and have it look as professional as possible. I didn’t want anyone thinking I was an amateur (even though I totally was).

I did spend some money at this stage. I had to buy proof copies and compare them to novels I had lying around my apartment. Then I would spend hours and hours fixing the problems. I once worked on formatting for a good eight hours, trying to figure everything out while making mistakes. The whole experience was worth it, though, and I can without a doubt, that I did it on my own.

I published the ebook on Amazon, and that was the easiest part. I simply downloaded a word doc and then converted it to a .mobi. Kindle’s self-publishing platform is user-friendly so that helped me out a lot. My book looks 100% professional as an ebook and I can say I’m truly proud of it.

But from now on, I might hire help for the formatting part!

Social Media and Advertising Stage

My first author social media page was my Facebook page. I invited all my friends and family to like the page, and they did. They were excited about my journey, especially because it was unexpected. I wasn’t exactly bragging or advertising I was working on anything. It just came out, and I was like, “Look at this thing I did all on my own!”

I marketed the hell out of my book as freely as possible. I emailed book reviewers and shared my post on several Facebook groups. I eventually made a Facebook group of my own where I can give people news updates, but it’s lacking at the moment because of school and the fact that the group is mostly filled with family members, not readers. That’s something I plan on changing, though.

My next social media platform was Twitter. It’s been an amazing way to connect with other writers. I got a few buys from Twitter, but that’s definitely not what it should be used for. Or, at least, for me. I think it’s a great way to connect with others in the industry, so I’ll take it as it is and do most of my advertising elsewhere.

In the end…

I sold some copies and made some money. I’m obviously not in the big leagues now, but that’s okay. I have many plans for the future, and I’ll do whatever it takes to make a living as a writer. I don’t need anything extravagant or fancy in life, just a livable wage doing what I love.

Thank you for reading!

If you have any questions, comments, or stories of your own, feel free to comment! I’d love to hear about other’s experiences in the self-publishing world.

Facebook and Twitter aren’t the only platforms I have anymore. You can also follow me on Instagram, Pinterest, or sign up for my monthly newsletter.

Until next time 🙂

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