"So...you want to write a book, huh?" or "What happens after too much wine."
Early in the new year I was sharing a few (more than a few!) glasses of wine with the hubby and a dear friend, Rhea Merck. A couple of years ago we instituted a weekly gathering we call "Wino Wednesday" to meet and hash over whatever is going on in our lives and to bounce ideas off of each other.
On this particular Wednesday evening Rhea was sharing Elizabeth Gilbert's concept of "Big Magic" (from her wonderful book of the same name – check it out!) and we started talking about times a flash of inspiration hit us –out of the blue– and for whatever reason, we ignored it or let it slip away. Somewhere into the second bottle, CPK (Hubby) mentioned that I had started a book several years ago and from there the conversation moved to a discussion about a couple of other ideas I had in the back of my head for more books. The next day I started writing.
I was worried I wouldn't have enought words to fill up even a short story, muchless a novel. But somehow, that big magic took over and I wrote enough pages in three weeks that I was in a panic. I mean, no one wants to read a simple little murder mystery that's somewhere around 700 pages!
I started to pass the initial draft around to a few folks I trusted and respected to get an idea of if the now very large stack of pages was even worth reading. After listening to what they had to say and after a few million edits and some surgical reworking, I had the first two novels of the Reightman & Bailey Series. I also managed to draft book three, and outline book four.
I was thinking to myself that this writing stuff is fun! Then the real work started. I had a good story, and was managing to get in some more, much needed edits. The characters were very good in my opinion and the feedback I was getting was positive. But now I had to find a way to get those written pages to their intended audience. I talked to some other writers and various folks with exprience with the publishing world and discovered I had two choices: I could follow the tried and true traditional path to getting a book published, or I could test out the waters of new, emerging publishing paths. Never one to stick to a traditional path, I chose to try the new approach.
I did quite a bit of research and learned more than I ever expected to about putting a book out. I learned the traditional publishing world had changed and was continuing to change at a rapid pace. I learned there were all kinds of new markets, buying approaches and ways that readers wanted to acquire and read books. I discovered there were a lot of services and professionals who would be more than happy to help you for the right dollars. That seemed reasonable and I thought I could get the help I needed.
I dug out a notebook and started to make a list of every service and skill I would need to put out a professional-looking book. I joined more reader boards than I care to admit and read what others had done, and the pro's and cons of the choices they made. I requested information from the various service providers and professionals. I added up all of the options and after talking the over with CPK, decided that with his help, I would do as much of it myself as possible to save money where I could, and conserve my very limited funds for items I knew I couldn't handle in-house.
Now, at this point, I need make full disclosure: I have a bit of advantage. CPK has a background in desktop publishing and has done a lot of designing and construction of websites. He has handled all of the ad design and layout for our retail business for years. I knew I had a source of knowledge and experience that could make all of this less daunting than it would be otherwise. But there was a snag: CPK is a pretty busy guy! In additional to managing our business, he also had the good fortune to be cast in a couple of theatre productions and his schedule was looking kind of full (understatement of the year!).
He was more than happy to help as he much as he could, but in order to make this something I could sustain myself (remember, I now have two books that I need to get in to print, with numbers three and four underway) and manage on an ongoing basis.
Unlike CPK, my skills are in very different areas. I'm an idea guy and can manage to write a credible email, report or business document. I know what I like as far as layout and design, but in both my professional life and my personal life, I had experts around me that could make what I created look pretty darned good. Now I was going to have to learn how to do it myself....all because I had too many glasses of vintage grape on a Wino Wednesday and got hit by some BIG magic