Self-Publishing is NOT for the Faint of Heart

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Self-publishing is not for the faint of heart. I struggle with distractions, finding time to write, finishing drafts, and writer’s block. Not to mention, the need to be a teacher, dad, husband, and follower of Christ. When I decided to self-publish I really had no idea what I was getting into. It is a lot harder than I ever imagined (and I knew it would be hard). There are a few things I really dislike about it, but there is one part that I truly hate.

Accepting negative feedback from my editor friends (even when it’s essential) is high on my list. To help make this step easier on my heart, I’ve developed a system. First, I read through the entire edited manuscript and correct the easiest corrections like spelling and grammatical errors. Next, I read over the plot and character comments because they usually require only minor changes to the story. Finally, I address the meaty-feedback that calls for me to add or delete a scene, make major character adjustments, or rework my plotline.

Receiving negative reviews on Goodreads or Amazon is also high on my dislike list. Getting ratings and reviews is paramount to having any success as an author. For VERVE STONES, it was mostly my friends and family memberswhoreviewedthe book. These reviews convinced other readers on Goodreads and Amazon to purchase the eBook or paperback, or read the book on Amazon Unlimited. Negative rating and reviews are a painful part of putting my creation out for the world to judge. But I also believe that they demonstrate the authenticity of a book’s reviews. (After all, not everyone is going to like any given book. I mean, every book from the Harry Potter series had some one-star reviews so I’m certainly not alone.) That said, when you get a whopper like this review, it takes a few days to calm down and try to laugh it off.

Formatting. Formatting is the bane of my existence! (Spoiler alert: there is one thing I hate even more, but boy is this a close second.) I often joke that formatting is a curse word in my house. As a self-published writer, I am in charge of getting all the formatting just right. I must select fonts, sizes, and spacing. I add chapter titles and headers. I insert maps. I add gutters for the binding. I make sure everything you see (or don’t see) on the page looks as perfect as possible. When I first started, I naively thought this step would be easy. I mean I wrote a whole book. Surely, I can just upload it and it will look great. Nope. I spent over a week uploading a manuscript (over and over and over again) to CreateSpace Digital Proofer, which allows me to view my fully-formatted book in an online virtual environment. It must detect no errorsin the document. After pulling out what I little hair I have, I finally begged my technologically-gifted-wife for help. She discovered that I made a small error that was messing everything up. GRRR! As frustrating as formatting is, I still don’t consider it to be the worst part of being a self-published author.

My number one, worst, most difficult part of being a self-published author is—SELF-PROMOTION! Ew. I despise asking anyone for help. Especially my friends and family. I also loathe bragging about myself. (Those compliments you read on my blog are usually written by my wife. She reminds me to be proud of what I’ve accomplished. I’d rather crawl under a rock, but I try.) The number of books for sale on Amazon is overwhelming. With so much competition, I struggle to find ways to promote my stories. Giveaways on Amazon work a smidge. Giveaways on Goodreads are expensive. Advertisements cost more money than I wish to spend on a hobby. I want to get my book into the hands of not just friends and family members, but strangers. I want my books to excite people to read and it brings me great joy when I hear they do.

I dream of a day where a team can do all these things for me, but for now, I continue to be grateful for a way to get my words out of my journals and into a book.

Any other self-publishers out there? What was the most frustrating part for you? Feel free to explain in the comments below.

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Guest Author Post: How Robin Puelma Became a Writer

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I was in third grade when I published my first book. Self published, let’s say. Yes, it was a class project, but I remember thoroughly loving the process. Writing a story; drawing the pictures; and then turning it into something I could hold. (The story? About gummy bears. Riveting, I know.)

My love of writing books didn’t return until college. However, my addiction to story telling waxed ever since the third grade. I honed that skill through drawing. I drew everything. And every day. Sitting in my room, sketch pad and pencils in my lap, I labored over creating new things. For years, I wanted to be an animator. I dreamed of art school and toured Disney animation studios with mouth ajar.

But my love of drawing wavered in high school. I received a discouraging comment from an art teacher, and for some reason, I let that cast doubt. My confidence slipped. Yes, I have no one to blame but me—if I wanted it badly enough, I would have shoved that comment aside and pressed on. But I like to think my creative story didn’t end there—instead, it shifted.

Enter freshman year English class at Pepperdine University. Having never taken an AP or Honors class in my life, I was intimidated sitting in an English class where most of the students had. The first essay we wrote, I labored over. And labored over. Until, I realized, I was enjoying the process. Writing. Creating a narrative. Crafting sentences. It was like art all over again—except this time, with my words. And surprisingly, others enjoyed my craft too.

College introduced me to my new creative story. I was, however, a neophyte. I had never written monologues or screenplays or short stories. But I was desperate to learn. So, I wrote. And wrote badly. I received all kinds of feedback from professors and students—some positive, others constructive. All it did was drive me to write better. Write more. Constantly. I reacted so differently than I did with my art teacher’s comments that it solidified something in my mind: with art, I must not have wanted it enough. With writing? I wanted it. And wanted it badly.

During college, I read Harry Potter and knew my life would never be the same. Story telling through novels became a magic I could never live without. So I began to create my own stories. My own characters. My own books. The Missing Crimoire was largely dreamed up in my college dorm room.

Four years later, I graduated with a degree in writing—yes—but more importantly, with a passion for the craft that would change me forever. Ever since, I’ve called myself a writer.


Robin Puelma is my wife’s lifelong best friend. I’ve had the privilege of knowing her for 15 years. Robin and I have shared a love for similar books and movies since we first met. Her editing gifts include feedback on a story’s characters, pacing, and dilemma, to name a few. My stories have greatly benefited from her thoughtful, creative eye.

She published The Missing Crimoire and The Naming of Colton BlackHer characters and worlds will suck you in. If you haven’t checked out her books yet, you need to!

Want to know more about it her? Be sure to check out her blog. You can also find a post there on how I became a writer.

What about you? If you’re a writer, how did you get started? Do you have a writing buddy?

Anyone Else Feel This Way?

No matter how many times I send them to Dustin, Dawn, Taylor, or Robin. No matter if it’s a first or final draft. I always think my latest draft is perfect. This draft is a best seller. I justify my overactive pride with the fact I’ve been writing for a hobby since 2006. My skills have improved immensely. I’ve finally figured out this writing thing. Then a friend returns the draft with more red text than black.

I crash back to earth a few days later. I read their comments first. Try to take in everything without getting upset. Some feedback is in areas I knew needed to be fixed. Most are changes I never noticed. Ones that totally enhance the story. Or edits which keep me from writing like one of my third graders.

What I’m trying to say is thank you to my friends who edit my drafts. Without you, VERVE STONES, NINTH NIGHT, UNDER, and BACK OF BEYOND would never exist!

VERVE STONE Flashback

Fun to remember this comment left on my blog almost two years ago!!! This comment alone has allowed me to stay motivated on finishing THE LEGEND OF SPOON, BOOK 2: BACK OF BEYOND! From Brady on May 30, 2015.

I love this book so much and couldn’t stop reading. My parents had to hide my kindle in order to make me stop reading. Whens the second book coming?
I’m currently finished with my BACK OF BEYOND first draft and am having my friend Robin nearing the end of reading it through. I still need to have two or three more friends edit it, but getting the draft done was a big step forward.

UNDER

Dustin has already edited half of UNDER and as usual his feedback and comments have allowed me to make this book even better! This was the second story I wrote after VERVE STONE way back in 2009. To see the light at the end of a long tunnel is very exciting, but to get there I do have to format the book for ebook and print-on-demand, which is my least favorite part of self-publishing by far. At least I already have an amazing cover and map from Jake at www.jcalebdesign.com!!!