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The reason I mention this is because most of my author friends grew up with a love of solitude and were, and still are, happiest when at home writing stories or reading those written by other’s. Preferably while wearing some version of pajamas or sweats, maybe some yoga pants. Many of them have said how they wrote their first story in elementary school or middle school, another told me about winning a poetry contest. One of my favorite authors shared how when she was a little girl, she would close herself in her closet to read all day. Her mom would even bring her macaroni and cheese so she could stay hidden away.
Solitude? Reading all day? Writing stories? Being allowed to eat in my bedroom? As a kid, these were all foreign concepts to me.
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See, I grew up with five extremely active brothers—quiet time was not a thing in our house. Our childhood consisted of long days spent playing outside until the street lights came on and we had to go home. We climbed trees, road bikes, built cardboard box forts, played jump-rope for hours, ran through the sprinklers, hung out at the city pool, engaged in raucous water-balloon battles, and topped the day off with a scary game of ghost in the graveyard. If we were inside, it was probably because it was raining. On those rare days, my brothers would build models in their room, and I would play with my dolls or Barbies in mine. Basically, just try not to get on each other’s nerves. Our world—our fun—was whatever our over-active imaginations could dream up.
Having read all this, you can imagine my surprise YEARS later when, while sitting at my ‘real job’, a bunch of strange, insistent voices popped into my head. After a quick glance around, I confirmed I was, in fact, the only one hearing them. I opened a blank document on my laptop and started jotting down notes, then I rushed home and continued until about two o’clock the next morning, frantically trying to exorcise the craziness. That didn’t work—it simply ushered in more, as if I’d cracked open some sort of fictional character portal.
I decided I needed to learn how to write so I could create a home for all these new people in my life. How hard can it be? I mean, after all, I read my first romance when I was fifty-years old, ere go, I can surely write romance, right? As if! I was floundering, throwing words (too many words) on the page, clueless about what to do next.
With my husband’s encouragement—mostly because he thought I might be losing my mind—I joined a local writer’s group.
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Fast forward eight years, and I have self-published four books in my O’Halleran Security International series, and am currently working on book 5, with several more planned for the series.
Joining that local writer’s group was only the beginning. The tip of the iceberg, as they say. I began attending multiple workshops, both locally and nationally, to learn the craft of writing and how to turn a great story idea into a great book. As I’m writing my first book, I’m simultaneously taking workshops and courses to learn how to market and advertise my books.
At long last, the first book was finished. Yay! Now the next phase of work begins.
I attended multiple writer’s conferences for an opportunity to pitch my story to editors and agents. Many of whom loved it and asked me to submit pages to them. Yay, me, right? Wrong. I submitted that darn thing for three plus years to no avail. “I loved your story, but this is not the right time.” “My client list is full at this time.” “I’m unable to move further with your submission, however, please keep writing …” blah-blah-blah
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The story is written. Now what?
Now I have to find the “right” editor and hire them to do multiple rounds of edits. All while continuing to take workshops and courses in an effort to improve my writing, and to dial in my marketing and advertising plans.
Oh, and it’s also time for me to hire a cover artist to bring to life the vision I’ve had stuck in my brain for months.
While the cover artist is working their magic, the book comes back from the editor and, GAH, there are red marks everywhere! It’s like a crime scene! You take a deep breath, grab your beverage of choice, then slog your way through each individual page of your three-hundred-and-sixty-page manuscript. You change and/or remove the things that don’t work or aren’t in the right place, you make sure your characters eyes don’t change from blue to green somewhere between chapters, and many other fun little details like that.
Okay, so, moving on, now we need to format the book. It has to be in e-book format and paperback format. If an author can’t do it themselves, they find the right formatter and hire them to do it for them.
All this time, you’re applying some of the skills you’ve learned in all those workshops and have been marketing the upcoming release of the book. Getting your private reader group set up on Facebook. Trying to grow your social media following. And SO MUCH MORE.
But I digress … The day FINALLY arrives and you download your book for sale. Awww, sweet relief, right? Wrong, again.
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So, my education broadened to learning the art of recording, editing and distributing my own audiobooks. Which, by the way, are marketed very differently than written-word books. And don’t forget, I’m still working on the next book this entire time.
Phew! If that sounds exhausting, it is! And this is just the tip of the self-publishing iceberg. It’s also incredibly rewarding and totally worth it the first time you hold your own book in your hands. I’ve done it four times now, and it never gets old.
If I’d known eight years ago, when those strange voices first popped into my head, that I would end up doing all of this … well … I’d still do it. Because, ya see, when the voices in your head refuse to be ignored, ya gotta tell their stories.
Listen to TJ Logan's podcast episode here