Eighteen months ago, I set out to publish my first book, with a second one not too far behind. I remember sitting at my laptop completely over whelmed by it all, and had absolutely no idea where to start. I felt like a newly recruited security guard, on their first day at the job, only there was no tour of the building, and no set of keys.
I didn’t know if I should query my full length novel, I had put over five years of blood seat and tears into, or go straight to self-publishing. I also had a completed novella I wanted to get self-published, while I decided what to do with my novel.
So, I started to Google, and Google some more. I thought to myself, well shit, now I’m even more confused. There was so much information out there, along with lots of conflicting advice. I knew my book would need to be beta read, edited, proofread, formatted, and have a cover designed.
Many self-publishing services popped up in my search that did all of the above for you for a hefty fee. It sounded great. All done for you, but once they got your book published, then what? There was no talk of help with promoting or marketing.
I looked up review after review, and was shocked by some of the horror stories of naïve, first time authors being taken for a ride by what I now know are called, 'vanity publishers'. Some may have been reputable, but why would I spend up to five thousand dollars, to publish a book that may not sell.
I remember thinking, it’s all too hard , but then I decided to join Twitter in order to connect with other writers, and start to build my author platform. The writing community on Twitter is one of the most supportive communities of people I have ever come across.
I started to connect with, and get to know some wonderful fellow creatives on the site. I asked lots of questions, and picked people’s brains, like a ravenous vulture pecking at a carcass, yet everyone was always patient and helpful.
With their advice, I started to slowly decide where I wanted to invest my money, and where I could save money, and do it myself, without compromising the quality of my book. I found three beta readers, willing to read my manuscript and provide honest constructive feedback.
Once the beta reader feedback came back, I made changes to the manuscript, and set out to find an editor. I found a wonderful editor, who was recommended by a fellow author on the platform. I also found help with formatting at a great price, after an author I followed offered their services. They did not disappoint, and my book looked wonderful.
Now, I had to think about the cover. Many people pay for a cover to be designed. I decided to design my own using Canva. Many other authors had recommended it, and although my cover designs may not win any awards, I have had positive feedback, with one reader telling me, the bright looking cover for ‘Making March’ caught her attention, and she bought the book. I am a big fan of cartoon type covers, as they suit my fun light-hearted books, so this program works well for me.
Not only have I found an abundance of help and advice from fellow authors, I have made some wonderful friends on Twitter. I still remember my first mutual follower, and we regularly still support each other, and cheer each other on.
I have read many wonderful books by fellow self-published authors I have connected with, and have had the great pleasure of interviewing them here on the blog, and posting reviews of their books, so others can find a great read by an author they may not know.
Being an author can be a lonely gig, and finding support from other authors can be a lifeline when you feel like giving up, or you are feeling disheartened with the process of creating engaging and entertaining stories. Although I do get some support from my family and friends, support and encouragement from others who know what you are going through is invaluable.
I have two Twitter besties. One is Kat Duncan, a reader who lives in Scotland. She is a fan of my books, and we have become good friends, regularly chatting online. I wish I didn’t live on the other side of the world. Hopefully one day, we will meet in person. Her Twitter handle is @chicklit_fan.
The other is Tamara Watson, a fellow author in Queensland (QLD) Australia. I am heading to Byron Bay in far north New South Wales (NSW) in two weeks, with my partner and his kids for a holiday. Byron Bay is not far from the NSW / QLD border. Tamara lives not far from the Gold Goast, on the QLD side of the border. I will be meeting up with her while I am up there, and will finally be able to meet face to face with someone who I consider a great mate. I can’t wait to give her a big hug, and have a Bourbon and Coke together (yes, just like Kate from my book titled ‘Making March’, I like a drink lol). We have been very blessed with the Covid-19 situation here in Australia, so fingers crossed the borders stay open. Her Twitter handle is @_TamaraWatson.
If it wasn’t for all the great fellow writers on Twitter who I have connected with, I would still be that overwhelmed security guard, lost, trying to find my way out. My fellow writers gave me the keys to the building, and for that, I will be forever grateful.
I will finish off by mentioning some other wonderful people who I value in the Twitter writing community:
Elizabeth Holland - @EHollandAuthor
Emma Lombard - @LombardEmma
Elsie McArthur - @ElsieMcarthur
Kirsti - @CanvassartS
Rebecca Ridge - @AuthorRidge
Lacey Gordon - @crazdwriter1
Kyla Zhao - @kylazingaround
Barry Brunswick - @BarrySBrunswick