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Monday, August 3, 2020

The Journey to Self-Publication, Part 3: Writing the Book(s)

I've gotten quite a few questions about why I finally decided to delve into self-publishing and how I'm doing it, so I figured why not create a new blog series!

Every Monday, I'll be sharing a piece of the self-publishing puzzle---from how I came to this choice to writing, editing, marketing, sales, and everything in between. Please remember that this is simply my experience, how chose to do things. Others do things differently, and that's fine! So, your mileage may vary, but in the end, I hope seeing yet another way of tackling self-publishing will help you on your path. 

Need to catch up on previous posts? Find them here:

Once I officially committed to self-publishing and had all the pieces in place to move forward, it was time to start writing the actual books. As you'll recall from part one of this blog series, I had already written book one (Eternal Curse) and was knee deep in writing book two when I decided to self-publish, so I was already ahead of the curve a little here. 

Allow me a moment to back up several years so that the rest of this post doesn't sound completely bonkers. Back in 2014, I was with a small press, Entranced Publishing, and I had truly thought I'd found my "forever" publishing home. Boy, was I wrong! lol. You can read all about why on the Writer Beware Blog. You're probably wondering why I'm bringing this up. Well, because while at Entranced, I was so blessed to meet so many amazing authors, many of whom I'm still friends with today, and it was these relationships, one in particular, that has helped me get to where I am today. 

After Entranced imploded, all of us authors were lost and struggling to figure out where to go next. A lot of us dove into the query trenches in the hopes of finding agents. Others found homes with different small publishers. And then there were the brave few who jumped into self-publishing. 

One fellow YA author went the self-publishing route, and she approached it exactly like I am -- as a business and a long-term career choice. I watched her, studied the things she did, and cheered her on through all of her successes. She's been extremely gracious in answering whatever questions I've had, and she even spent quite a bit of time on the phone with me, giving me tips and tricks, sharing what did and didn't work for her. 

But there was one thing that she said to me that I have never forgotten: If you're writing a series, write and edit every single book before you ever release book #1. She then went into detail about why, which I'm not going to delve into just yet (that will be a separate post at a later date), but she was very adamant that if I listen to only one thing she said, to let it be this. 

Fast forward seven years, and here I am. Following her advice.

So, I had book 1 written and as polished as I could get it with the help of critique partners and beta readers and I was halfway through writing book 2, which was originally titled Eternal Bond. It is now called Eternal Choice. More on that in a minute... 

I had always planned for The Cursed Series to be a trilogy, but as I wrote, things changed drastically, and three books became four. Then five. And just recently, six. Yes, you read that correctly. The Cursed Series is now six books long. 

While writing book 2, something happens -- no, I'm not telling you what because it's a major spoiler -- and that one plot point just sort of exploded, and I realized there was no way I could wrap up everything in one final book. So book 2 got renamed to Eternal Choice, and book 3 became Eternal Bond. That led to the need for a fourth book. 

Confident I could tell the story I wanted to tell and wrap it all up by the end of book 4, I was ready to finish writing. I completed the draft of book 2 in February and immediately jumped into writing book 3. Now, as I was writing each book, I'd send it off to my trusted beta readers. I was halfway through writing book 3 when I started to get feedback on book 2, and some of the reactions I got were rather... shocking. LOL. (I'm looking at you, Jenn Pierce!) 

Naturally, I began to wonder "what if" and that spiraled into me taking the story in yet another direction. Long story short, I decided to end book 2 sooner than I'd originally planned, moved all the stuff to the start of book 3, and a week later book 3 was done and sent off to beta readers. 

At this point, I had a very clear idea in my head of what would happen in book 4, and the words flowed like they never had before. I wrote 96,000 words in 19 days! (Find out how here

Somewhere in the midst of writing book 4, I began to panic. Seriously, writer self-doubt is the WORST! Mostly, I worried there wasn't enough conflict in this book, that I'd spent 3 previous books building up to this epic climax, and I didn't deliver. Probably because there was still so much going on that needed to be explored and developed before I could reach the finale. 

I decided I need to regroup, so I went back to the start of the series and read it straight through to see where I had planted seeds that I could nurture, and I found a LOT. lol. There was so much conflict waiting to be brought to life on the page, and by the time I made it back to book 4, I knew what I needed to do. 

There was just one small problem.... I wasn't going to be able to wrap up the series by the end of book 4, which meant I now needed a fifth book. 


Could I have just gone back and removed some of the plot points and simplified the story so I could end it at book 4 as originally planned? Of course! But where's the fun in that? Hahaha. But in all honesty, I didn't want to. This series has been pouring out of me, which is very rare for me, and I don't want to stifle my muse. Not to mention, one of the biggest reasons I chose to self-publish is so I could do what I wanted without restraint, so if this series needs to be five books, so be it. I'm just along for the ride 😏 

Armed with a new, clearer direction, complete with all the conflict I'd need to finish the series strong, I eagerly dove into book 5. Now, during this time, I'd been actively receiving feedback from readers and making notes of things I wanted to go back and fix, but for the most part, I was on track to finish this series strong. 

Until I got to the 80K word mark on book 5 and realized, much to my horror, that I had only told half of the ending. To tell the story as I'd envisioned, the book would have to be close to 150K! First, that's a bit long for a single book, in my opinion, and secondly, the cost to print that size book... No, thank you! 

I began to complain to my trusted writer friends, who I'm sure were just about tired of me by then, and they agreed I'd probably have to split book 5 into two books. I was still reluctant, though, because I had already written 5 full length books. Did I have it in me to write another one? Did I have enough content to justify a sixth book? I honestly didn't know, so I once again went back to the start of the series and read through each book, noting things I'd mentioned that were then forgotten, picking apart character backstories to see if there was anything I could expand on. 

There was. 

My friends had planted the seed of the possibility of a 6th book, and now that I knew it was actually possible, I couldn't get the idea out of my head. (I'm still kinda mad at you for this, Kat and Eden. LOL). I ran my new idea by my friends, and they loved it. 


Knowing there would now be a sixth book, I went back to book 5 and fleshed out some areas I felt were lacking, and that book is now complete. I am now 20K into book 6, and I've already told my friends if I so much as mention wanting to write a book 7, they are to fly to Michigan and slap me senseless. I think they might be a little too excited about that prospect. 

Wow--this post has gotten a lot longer than I expected. That seems to be the norm with me, huh? So, I'm going to stop here for now, but there's still so much more that has gone into the process of writing this series, so be sure to come back next week when I talk about pantsing vs. plotting and why, despite being somewhat disorganized, writing the series from start to finish before publishing book 1 was the best advice I've ever received. 

Got questions? 

Drop them in the comments :) 

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