The Unexpected

Photo Credit: Little_squirrel Flickr via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Little_squirrel Flickr via Compfight cc

In the weeks since I published Negative Split, I’ve had several unexpected experiences.

First, there’s the surprise reaction.  This is when people I know, but aren’t familiar with my writing hobby, find out about the book in my presence. The looks on their faces have been funny. Sometimes a follow-up question of “Why?” or “What made you want to do that?” comes out.

Second, I’ve been really humbled by several people who read the book and declared “I’m not a reader, but I couldn’t put it down.”  This includes a 74 year-old man who said he hadn’t read a physical book in 30 years (he does listen to audio books!).  He even purchased several copies to give to friends and family.

Finally, my favorite surprise has been talking to people about the whole publishing process from start to finish.  Turns out, a lot of people have felt the pull to write a book  but didn’t know how to begin .  Or, like the current manuscript I’m reading for a friend, people have completed books and don’t know how to take the final steps to publication.

If you’re one of these or if you’re just curious, here’s what went into publishing my first novel:

1. Wrote rough draft. My word final count is just over 62,000 words.
2. Re-wrote a lot of it.
3. Printed out a few spiral bound 8.5″ x  11″ copies of the manuscript from Office Depot and had a few pre-release readers check it out. This was not really for grammar/typos but for story consistency. Some readers did point out plenty of errors.
4. Corrected the errors and made some story tweaks based on the input. I didn’t make every change suggested.  Some were very good ideas but I felt changed the feel of the story too much. Some suggestions just meant more work than I felt like tackling.
5. Re-read it again. Corrected inconsistencies no one else caught and made more error corrections.
6. Hired a proofreader for cheap from
7. Worked with a designer from to create front and back cover art.
8. Took edited copy and cover art and created the paperback version on (an Amazon company).
9. Ordered and received a printed copy proof from Createspace. Re-read it yet again and caught more mistakes the proofreader missed.
10. Uploaded the edited copy to Createspace, and growing weary of searching for mistakes, approved the online version.
11. Pressed the publish button to make it live on
12. Created the Kindle version through Kindle Direct Publishing, another Amazon company (
13. Went live on Kindle.
14. And finally the scariest part: Made the launch announcements on my KeyOfGF blog and social media.

So, there you have it, my fourteen steps to becoming a published author. Obviously, there’s more detail behind most of those points, but I’m trying to keep this fairly short.

As I post this, I have already decided to do a couple of things differently on book number two.  For instance, I will not use Office Depot for the Beta reader copies.  There was nothing wrong with their product, but it was expensive, and 8.5″ x 11″ was too bulky. For number two’s beta copies, I will go ahead and use Createspace for my proofs.  It will take a few days longer, but I found the book read so much easier for error checking in the final format.

I will also probably form a proofread team, people willing to read very carefully for typos in exchange for a final copy of the book. These won’t necessarily be the same individuals as the beta readers, but they could be.

One last thing. I tackled the book after blogging, albeit irregularly, for several years. Some of my long blog posts might have seemed like novels, but they were nothing like this effort. If you want to write a book, but currently don’t do any writing, I’m not saying you shouldn’t write a book.  However, depending on your subject (especially non-fiction writers), I’d recommend blogging first. This way, you break your subject into small manageable chunks and build up your writing chops.  Then, after some point, you can combine the blog posts into a book.

If you already have a first draft of a manuscript, and it has been a while since you looked at it, I’d recommend re-reading it.  Correct any errors you find, then recruit a pre-release read team. Have them read it and give you feedback. Then go from there based on the input.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments (click on the comments link at the top of the post).


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