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Monday, August 10, 2020

The Journey to Self-Publication, Part 4: STILL 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:

As I mentioned last week, I'd received some advice from a fellow writer friend, who basically said to write the entire series before I ever published the first book. You'll also recall I promised to explain why this was the best advice I'd ever gotten. And I will, but first, let's talk about how I pantsed my way through a 6 book series, because that directly ties into why this advice was so valuable, for me, anyway. 

I have never been a plotter, and believe me, I have tried. I've read books, taken workshops, talked to hardcore plotters, and tried every method that didn't make my brain hurt. And while I can write out a complete plot, once I do, I feel like I've already told the story. So, why bother actually writing it? I know what happens now, so there's no real excitement for me anymore. Also, if the plot happens to veer off from the outline I created, I feel like I somehow messed everything up, then I become frustrated, and that has resulted in me abandoning way too many projects.  

Pantsing, however, really excites me--it also really annoys me for reasons I'll get into soon. I love not knowing what will happen and figuring it out as I go. I love to be surprised by the characters' actions and experiencing the plot unfold in real time. For me, this is when I do my best writing, when I can just write without any real thought and let the story lead me as opposed to the other way around. 

So, naturally, when I began writing Eternal Curse, I tackled the blank page with nothing more than a loose idea of a cursed vampire and the human girl he's not supposed to love. Actually, that's not true at all... Now that I think about it, originally, this book didn't start out as vampires. It was a completely made up supernatural, shape shifting / demon-like species mingled with humans and witches.


Yeah, it truly was terrible. LOL. Thankfully, I couldn't, for the life of me, make the story work in anyway that made sense, so I stopped and regrouped and decided to make them vampires. Once I did that, the story fell into place. 

I should add that I did do a lot of work on the backstory for this series. I needed to lay out the curse, how it came into existence, all the dates, and family trees, but that was the extent of my plotting. 

When I reached the end of book 1, I had a loose idea of where I was headed with book 2, and so I jumped into that and started writing. And by loose idea, I mean I had an overarching goal for each book. Like in book 1, I knew it was all about the curse and how Chloe and Trent deal with that. Book 2 is all about making a difficult choice. Sorry... can't tell you about the rest of them because SPOILERS! 

As you'll recall from last week's post, while writing book 2, I came to the realization that I was going to need more than 3 books, so by the time I hit book 3, I knew where I wanted that story to go, and the process continued through all 6 books. This is where pantsing a series becomes a little annoying and frustrating. Because I didn't have a solid outline, I often veered off in a million different directions, which is part of the reason this series blossomed from 3 books to 6. 

But, all of that is why I was SO grateful for that advice I'd been given. 

See, because I hadn't published each book as they were written, I had the freedom to go back and add things into earlier books. I could add subplots and new characters that I then carried (or killed, depending on my mood) throughout the rest of the series, constantly building from one book to the next. 


Had the books been published, I wouldn't have been able to go back and make changes. I mean, I could have (the beauty of being in complete control when self-publishing), but if people who had already read book 1 picked up book 2 and there was all this stuff going on that was never in the version of book 1 that they read because I revised after they'd read it, they'd be confused. 

And trust me when I say I went back to the start of this series a LOT throughout the writing process. In fact, here are some quick stats:

Book 1: 
# of versions -- 3
Original word count -- 98,000
Final word count -- 102,000

Book 2: 
# of versions -- 4
Original word count -- 89,600
Final word count -- 110,150

Book 3: 
# of versions -- 2
Original word count -- 92,000
Final word count -- 115,160

Book 4: 
# of versions -- 5 
Original word count -- 106,250
Final word count -- 120,108

Book 5: 
# of versions -- 2
Original word count -- 88,100
Final word count -- 108,050

Book 6: 
# of versions -- 2 
Original word count -- 82,000
Final word count -- TBD

As you can see, I tend to draft on the shorter side and really beef it up during revisions. Haha. I make no apologies. I love this series, and I hope everyone else will, too. 

Okay, back to the point of this post... Moving forward, I will always follow the advice I'd been given because it works really well for me. There's also a whole host of reasons why this is a smart idea, but those involve marketing aspects, so we'll get into those later. 

Overall, writing this series in this manner allowed me to change and adapt and flesh out the entire series as a whole as I went, rather than writing myself into a corner or being locked into something that happened in earlier books because I had already published them.  

This process also helped tremendously while working with CPs, beta readers, and editors, which is exactly what I'll be talking about next week 😀 

Got questions? 
Drop them in the comments!

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