Going Indie with the First Novel

I am just about done with my first full-length work of fiction. After speaking with several traditionally-published authors and experiencing some of the processes of the traditional publishing industry firsthand, I decided it just wasn’t for me. Bottom line is, I want to do things my way.  This is my story – straight outta my brain, using my words.  I don’t want somebody else changing it because it isn’t “marketable” or “hot” or ready for prime time. I don’t care about those things. I have a story to tell and if people don’t like it, they won’t like it. I am not going to bend it so much that it becomes over-processed mush and rubbish like a silly pop song. I don’t want a neat, predictable package.  I want it to be rough, but more importantly, honest. From the moment I made that decision, it became a quest.  I am forging the whole thing myself. Some call it self-publishing, others call it indie publishing. Regardless, I am coordinating it all – writing, editing, marketing, cover and trailer design, etc. It’s my sword…I’ll either wield it well or die on it – all based on my decisions.  And I’m cool with that. I am not scorning agents or the process or the industry in general. I just didn’t like the way it was so easy for a first-time author to lose his voice (and his way) in the hallowed halls of the industry. Maybe I gave up too easily on the traditional route or maybe this is exactly what I was looking for from the get-go.

Even though I am calling the shots, I did not get this thing done on my own – I had a lot of voluntary help along the way. The first thing I did early on was shout out to my social media circles to ask if anyone knew any writers I could talk to about the craft.  Turns out, I had a couple of friends who were published writers!  And I had other friends who knew writers.  And these people were very happy to talk to me about their craft. You’ll see a note of thanks to them in the book. Next, I read a couple of books in the genre I thought my book might belong to.  And then I contacted those writers. Most of them were extremely helpful and patient with me as well. (A great review from one such author shows up in the book trailer).

Once I “finished” writing, the first thing I did was give it to my wife for a read. She is without a doubt my biggest fan and my harshest critic, and I love her dearly for being both. Although I did not take every suggestion she offered, I changed easily 35-40% of the first draft in some fashion based on her suggestions. For later drafts (there have been eight), I also had the good fortune of having several colleagues and acquaintances who have an above average grasp of the english language who were very happy to point out my other jagged edges – from plot holes and wooden dialog to stupid grammar and poor punctuation. Each editor had something different to say and it was very helpful for me to get varied perspectives along the way before making any big character and plot decisions. In the end, my story evolved. Although the theme and tone remained consistent, details have changed – a new character name here, a different setting there.  And yes, I owe a debt of gratitude to those who read this for me and gave me their thoughtful feedback.

Now I am working on collecting final edits and all the design work that goes into an indie-published work (tips welcome). Soon, I’ll be ready to go – pulling the trigger after months of working late into the night to get things just the way I wanted them.  Let’s see where it gets me.  Will this experiment take root or fizzle into a big nothing? I guess we’ll all have to wait and see. But either way, I went indie…I did it my way.  And no matter what else happens, I’ve still got that to stand on. So wish me luck.  Better yet, buy my book when it comes out! : )

3 comments on “Going Indie with the First Novel

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