My first year as a published author

As I sit, way too early on January 1st 2018, watching the very adorable but flea-ridden squirrel scratch himself on the fence post outside, it’s time to reflect on my first year as a published author.

I’ve always been a writer, and I’ve had non-fiction work written to sell published before. But in 2017 I published my first book: A Scarlet Fever (check it out). This book was a long time in the pipeline, with me picking it up for a while, forgetting about it for years, coming back to it, lather rinse repeat. But I finally buckled down and finished it.

But there were a few challenges in getting the book out, that I’ve learned from.

Challenge 1: getting a cover for a book with a kick-ass, Asian, female main character

The cover of A scarlet Fever
A Scarlet Fever

After briefly perused stock photo sites, I unfortunately knew it would be difficult to find a kick-ass Asian woman for the cover – try searching for “crouching woman” as in one who’s going spring like a cat. Serious side eye at the results (really, we need to get better at having more diverse stock photos).

Good thing one idea I had for the cover was from the back and not crouching like coiled spring. However, I never knew it would be so hard to find a cover designer, let alone one that could implement the idea. Everyone is busy until 2019.

Goal for 2018: learn cover design, hopefully enough so my covers don’t suck. So far, hardest part is typography.

Challenge 2: getting the words down

Finding time to write, in amongst the rest of life, is always a challenge. I have to work, I need to exercise, I want to spend time with friends and I’d like to do more sketching and painting.

To commit to be an author, it had to take the place of that last one…and the TV watching that I didn’t include on that list (that I do too much off even though I don’t have cable). I also needed to get faster, though I find the more I write, the faster I write…and the more I plan. I kept writing, even while travelling to India for business.

I also participated in and completed Nanowrimo this year, which made me realize that I could write faster than I’d thought possible, even while starting at a new job after 12 years at a new company. I finished a rough, rough draft of book 3 in Bloodborne Pathogens in a month. Though I still need to edit those words…eep.

Goal for 2018: Umm, write more words. I want to try that Nanowrimo setup of drafting a novel in a month when I start my space opera. I’m aiming for March or May, depending on when I get the revision of books 2 and 3 done. And I plan to continue to become a better plotter.

Challenge 3: finding the typos

Yeah, there were a few when it went out there in the world. I made changes after it had been gone through, thinking if I read those sections through carefully I’d catch everything. Nope. Can’t proofread my own stuff.

Goal for 2018: Fix those errors and get a print copy out! And don’t do that again.

There’ve been some random lessons as well. I’m overly fond of en-dashes and ellipses. Having another writer to inspire me and keep me accountable helps me focus. I need to learn a lot more about WordPress. I’m sure that last one will result in goals, but only if I can fit it in in between writing…and painting…and watching TV.

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