It's been almost a year since I published my first book. Although I feel like I have been writing all my life, it's only since I became published that I would call myself an author.
Looking back over this year, I see many changes in how and what I write. One of the biggest differences is why I write. I have learned so much this pass year, not only about myself, but about others. Or at least my perception of them. All I can offer is my opinions, I have no scientific results to share with you, but just observations.
When I first started writing it was out of need. I had to release the stories from my mind. Most of the time it was for my own enjoyment. I loved creative writing classes in school as well as my art classes, solely because I loved to express myself in that way. The freedom to let it out. Although my family and friends always seemed to enjoy my imaginations, it was when I received a "grade" on a story that it hit me. I could do something that other people enjoyed. I had a talent of sorts!
The arts are my first love on any level. I sing (cough), play piano and violin, and draw. Writing is what runs through my veins, however. I have come a long way since the writings of my childhood. I tucked my writing away for many years while I focused on having children. Not to say I didn't spin stories for their enjoyment. We had an on going story about "Johnny People". Unfortunately the Johnny People were very dumb. They would sit in the dark and wonder if they were blind because they were too dumb to turn on the lights, and other equally ridiculous things. Using these stories, I would teach my children common sense, and problem solving skills. They never had a clue they were learning things. They also had to pick a word they didn't know from the dictionary at breakfast, and at dinner time they had to use it in a sentence. We all learned a lot from that!
After the kids were in school, I entered a poem contest on a lark. Poems are not my strong point. I won first place. Boom! I had the bug again. I started writing again for my own enjoyment. I was able to find some places on the internet that had to do with writing, places to read and write short stories and poems. I was in a sea of writers just like myself! Thrilling! I finally ran across a site that you could co-write stories with others. I would write with one other person or a group of people, it was very challenging. All age groups (+18 and over) and genres. Also, all levels of writers. Some who wrote with you couldn't spell or punctuate well, but it was a learning experience. I was there for over a year and wrote so many stories!
I was introduced to another group by a friend where you could upload your own stories and have them critiqued and enter contests. I dived right in and started writing like a maniac. I headed a few groups. Then slowly but surely I realized that the site was controlled by a handful of users that apparently had been there since dirt. I would never win a contest or get any kind of constructive criticism. The only thing I brought away from that experience was that I must have been seen as a threat to them, I was a good writer.
The more I heard about people self publishing the more I liked it. Sifting through the mounds of agents and publishing houses and ultimately all the rejections let me to take the plunge. I have never looked back. My goal has ALWAYS been to be read. I became published in the last few days of November 2011. I sold two books! I almost fainted. People actually paid to read what I wrote! I continued to write, but I was in a hurry to publish another book. I quickly threw together some short stories I had written and published them. It sold, but not as well. Learning experience, the first book I took much more time with. It was obvious even to me that I had thrown the second one together. I went on to publish many others and took the time to have them edited as best as I could by myself and others.
The next learning experience I had was, I was less concerned that the books were selling, and more concerned about them being read. It was satisfying when I did a free promotion to see them "fly off the shelf" , but again, I wondered, are they being read? I did get reviews on several of my books. I have never paid for a review, but I have received reviews from friends. Still, I needed more.
I started this blog with the intention of spotlighting my books. I marketed my books everywhere else I could find as well. It's exhausting, as all writers can atest. Other authors were doing the same and it became a serious competition. Some people who I called friends, suddenly became self-centered and rude. It was a cut-throat, backstabbing situation. Others in my close-knit group continued to be nurturing and helpful. I had to take a step back and re-access my own goals.
I am now in the process of revising all my books I have for sale and correcting any problems to make them worthy of a read. More importantly, I have two sections on this website I am VERY proud of. First of all, Free Short Stories. This is for ANY authors who just want to be read. I have been accepting and promoting these stories on Twitter and FaceBook. The response has been amazing book with both writers, and readers. Although there still aren't a lot of comments, I can tell from the analytics of the page that these stories are being read at an amazing rate! I consider it to be a very successful endeavor! The thrill of being read is just as good as making a sale to me.
The second page I am very proud of is my new serialized story Capt. Lanie Romein, A.K.A The Ice Queen. I'm not claiming to be the first to think of this, but I have noticed more people are jumping on the bandwagon and serializing stories on their websites as well. My story follows a young girl who is visited by a man from another planet, and after a night of passion he disappears back into space. She waits for him and when he doesn't return, she makes it her goal to become a starship captain in order to search for him. She has many adventures on her journey. Not giving anything away, so far I have been setting the story up, revealing how she became who she is. It's about to get very interesting and action packed. I have actually almost finished the story in reality, but I am putting up new episodes every Friday in cliffhanger fashion. So far, the readership is still growing. I hope you give it a try.
Bottom line is, I am at peace again. I realized what's important to me and also realized I have it. It's a good feeling. Thank you, readers, for acknowledging me. I can only hope you receive the enjoyment from reading what I write