What I Learned Writing & Publishing My First Book

Firstly, I learned that I have the best family and friends. I already suspected this, but they have been the most encouraging and I owe them all a million thanks.

Here we go.

I’m Not 100% Happy with My Book

I went through Dahlia’s Ridge with a fine-tooth comb and then had family and my niece/editor go through it. And there are still things that I missed. I wish I’d gone through it another time.

Here’s what I learned about my writing:

  • I’m not as good at grammar as I thought!
  • Before I began writing, I educated myself on the proper use of it’s vs its. Example below if you’re confused, too.
  • I also tried to brush up on the proper formatting of compound words and how to use a hyphen. Turns out I’ve been doing that wrong my entire life.
  • Another thing is punctuating dialogue! I thought I was good at that, but it turns out I am not. Something that is unfortunately in print for everyone to see, forever. I will carry that lesson with me, always.
    • Example: “I am talking and this is dialogue!” said Jordan.
    • After the quotation, even though it ended with an exclamation mark, the word ‘said’ is lowercased. If you have the first edition of Dahlia, you will see I messed this up big time!
    • If you are confused still, read a kids’ book with a lot of dialogue. It’ll straighten you out pretty quick.
  • I downloaded Grammarly so I will be utilizing its wisdom. I will let the robots help me in my journey for perfection.
    • Also, Grammarly has infused itself into my Safari browser, so I should sound smarter from here on out on all my platforms (blog included).
  • I turned off the auto-capitalize on my Word program. I think it contributed to my poor grammar at times.
  • I am not perfect. But next time I will be better. I will not stress too much about what is done.
    • Though I did go back and correct any future purchases of Dahlia’s Ridge.
For anyone who isn’t sure when to use the apostrophe either!

A Hardcopy Boosts Morale

Twenty pristine copies of Dahlia’s Ridge ready to be signed and shipped out.

For me, it didn’t feel real until I had the actual paperback book in my hands. I received my author’s copies after 25 people had already ordered and received a printed version. Despite seeing them holding my book and over 3,000 downloads of the eBook, it didn’t feel real. As soon as I held the paperback in my hand, it felt real. I was an author.

For me, it didn’t feel real until I had the actual paperback book in my hands. I received my author’s copies after 25 people had already ordered and received a printed version. Despite seeing them holding my book and over 3,000 downloads of the eBook, it didn’t feel real.

As soon as I held the paperback in my hand, it felt real. I was an author.

Click here to watch me unbox my books and like my page while you’re there 🙂

Social Media Only Gives as Much as You Do

Facebook was my best friend because I’m most active on that site. I have my personal page as well as a business page, and I utilized them both.

Twitter and Instagram are great platforms, but I don’t use them often and it showed. I’m sure there are other great ones like Snapchat and the more recent ones, but I’m showing my age because I don’t know how to use them. Or what most of them are…

I feel very “get off my lawn” admitting this.

Writing a Book Will Make You Happy and Sad

This has been a rollercoaster of emotions for me. Feelings of pride and happiness have been as frequent as feelings of sadness and of being alone. I’m not exactly sure why. The level of intermittent disappointment that I’ve experienced has been staggering. I’ve had some very low lows during this process.

It must be something about putting yourself out there and not always getting the responses you’re expecting. It’s hard to put yourself on the line like that.

And while reviews are the mile-markers to success, they can be a major source of stress and anxiety. The process of acquiring reviews and mentally dealing with negative reviews can take a heavy toll on an author.

How to Use Reviews

To date, I have 22 ratings on Goodreads.com and 22 reviews on Amazon. Mostly good, though some are bad. I try not to take the bad ones to heart. But they are absolutely useful!

Negative reviews give you useful feedback. If you’re lucky enough to receive a comment as to why they scored you poorly, use that feedback to grow. The low score may hurt, but it could also improve your writing in the future.

Here are some of my low scores:

One of my reviewers said that my book lacked a clear definition. Was it a memoir or a mystery? What was it trying to be? And that is entirely valid. Going forward I have found a planner to follow while I plan my plot. Hopefully, it gives my novels more definition.

Haha, the title of this one made me laugh. And they’re absolutely not wrong in their assessment of my writing. I recently sat down and read my first memoir and my book did read that way. I didn’t even know that was a genre. “Mundane” hurt a little, but I can see why someone might think that. I advertised my book as a mystery, and by the standards of most mystery novels, mine is absolutely PG.

The length of my novel was good and bad, depending on who the reader was. Personally, I enjoy when books aren’t terribly long. A 300-500 page book needs to be incredibly captivating on each and every page for me to devote several days of hard reading to it. I don’t mind short books because it means I don’t have to commit so much of my time and I still get a full story.

However, I think with the increased brainstorming will come length. Dahlia was about 26,000 words and in the future I’m going to strive for 50,000. 

The most painful scores I received where the 1 and 2 ratings on Goodreads. Unfortunately those did not have any commentary attached, so I cannot learn from them. Though I can assume why they were left.

It is none of my business to know what others think of me.
Unless they feel like telling me 🙂

Having a Blog Has Been Useful

Having an outlet to speak about my experience has been helpful. I don’t like bothering family and friends too much on Facebook, so I keep mu newsfeed half writing and half pictures of my kids. I don’t want anyone to feel like I’m being over salesman-ish.

But a blog has allowed me to write long, in-depth accounts of my experiences. I hope that my online journal helps someone in the same position as me. I love reviewing products and services.

Outlets I Used (or want to use) & How I Feel About Them

  1. The Fussy Librarian
    • This was the best decision I made. 2,700 downloads came from this site and I credit it for officially launching my book.
    • Since that email aired I have received a hundred readers on Goodreads and twenty-two ratings. I had zero before that.
    • When I write my next book, I will absolutely use this outlet again. I highly recommend them.
    • The prices to advertise start at $43, but promo codes exist if you look.
  2. BookBub.com
    • I did not use this one, but I was planning to.
    • Now I’m not sure how I feel about them. Their daily emails are full of books that are not free. Today’s email contained only books you had to pay for. Maybe mine would stick out because it’s free, but I’m not sure I’ll choose this service next time.
  3. ManyBooks.net
    • This service actually reached out to me! I have since subscribed to their daily emails. I like them more than BookBub, but less than TheFussyLibrarian.
    • They have some free books available each day, but many are “discounted” ones
    • When I need to advertise again, I will probably try this service. It is $29 to use.
  4. Thrifty and Thriving Blog
    • I haven’t used this outlet yet, but I receive frequent emails from them, so I know that it is legitimate. They send out 12 book recommendations every Friday. So keep that in mind if you want to advertise there.
  5. GoodReads.com
    • I would like to do a giveaway with Goodreads, and I’m sure it would be worth it. But the cheapest package to host a giveaway is $199. That’s a little too rich for my blood. Maybe down the road, I’ll consider it.

Amazon Select Means They Have Exclusive Rights to Sell my Book.
Was That The Right Choice?

I’m sure I’ll have more thoughts about this later, and I plan on expanding those in another post, but I am happy with my decision to enroll my book in Amazon Select.

By being enrolled in Amazon Select, my book is automatically placed into Kindle Unlimited. Since my free weekend, I have had 2,668 pages of Dahlia’s Ridge read.

Also, if not for Amazon Select, I wouldn’t have even been able to host a free weekend! In order to post my book for free, I had to be enrolled. That was the primary reason I enrolled in the first place. I can choose 2 more days to have my book free. And I will be planning them well out in advance!

That’s about it for now!
If you have questions, feel free to comment or email me personally.
Best wishes on your adventures
and have a wonderful day.

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