Saturday, January 11, 2014

Post Release Day - A Look Back and Forward

I've always loved stories.

I loved telling them, I loved hearing them, I loved reading them, and I loved playing them. When I got to college my first degree was in Photo-journalism, where I was able to collect and share stories. I then switched to theatre, where I was able to act out stories. I moved to Austin and I switched my major to Radio-Television-Film with an emphasis on screenwriting. I couldn't tell you how many creative writing classes I took along the way, but it was at least one per semester almost every year of my (slightly extended because I kept changing my major and was having fun) time in college.

I remember my Dad telling me around fifteen years ago that if I decided I wanted to do my own business he would help me get started. He asked what I wanted to do, and I said be a writer. He laughed and told me he could do many things, but by me a publishing company wasn't one of them. And he was correct, because fifteen years ago you really were at the mercy of the big six publishing companies if you wanted to get anywhere. It was as much or more luck and who you knew to get a book out as it was dedication and skill.

So I moved on to other things. I did videography, I did tech writing, and when I needed a steady paycheck moved into things like tech support and eventually insurance. The past several years I've worked as a trainer, where I've managed to continue telling stories in an effort to make my classes more interesting and keep my reps interested. I continued writing training documents and screen plays for training films and web based training, as well as technical documents and the occasional interview items. I published a poem here and there over the years and became a go-to person for coworkers who wanted to make their documents more interesting. In the back of my mind I always had that little dream though. For me being a writer meant being an author, and that was something I would one day do. One day.

Then something happened while I wasn't really paying attention. The world of fiction publishing had a clash with technology and self-publishing bloomed. I looked around and many of my friends who had continued writing for hobbies suddenly found themselves writing for profit, publishing their works and getting it out for the world to see. Some sold thousands, some sold two, but they were all doing that thing I had said that one day I would do.

I realized, a little over a year ago, that the only thing that was really stopping me from being a writer was me being a writer. I could either continue spending my eves watching TV and playing video games, enjoying other people's stories, or I could start spending my evenings writing my own stories. I could then do that thing I had long said I would one day do.

So I did.

For the past year I've spend much of my evenings after work back on the computer typing and retyping my story, getting it from the back of my head to the computer screen. I started with a few short stories. One of them was about a guy who woke up from a car accident to the realization that he didn't survive, and this weird guy was showing him around his new afterlife, which wasn't at all what he thought an after life should be. When my wife read it, she thought it was interesting and wanted to know more. So I started expanding it. After some 40,000 words or so, I realized there were more stories that needed to be told that my first person perspective didn't allow for, so I started over and rewrote it from third person, adding in more characters and more details.

I passed it around to a few friends kind enough to take time out of their lives to give me feedback, then proceeded to rewrite it several more times as they passed feedback back to me of what they liked and what they didn't like. I also began taking time to research how to do all the things I would need to do to self publish.

For those unaware, publishing companies do a lot of the work for an author, in exchange for a large chunk of the profits of a book. Self publishing means you get to keep more of the share for yourself, and in exchange you take on the massive workload that the publishing companies would have done for you. I followed blogs, I listened to friends, I watched what other self publishing authors were doing and what worked and didn't work for them and set about trying to make my story a real book. I found a friend whose art style matched what I was wanting for my cover and hired him. I found out how to get Amazon, iTunes, Barnes&Noble and others to sell your book. I edited and re-edited and then re-edited it again. I quizzed friends and listened when they gave me unsolicited advice. I started the often awkward feeling job of self-promoting and attempting to generate interest in my book.

And after all of that, "One Day" turned out to be yesterday. Because as of yesterday, the book was officially released. It's out in the public for the world to read, which is both scary and exciting. I put a lot of work into this, but I could not have done it alone.

Thank you to my wife, Crystal, for all of the help she's given me during this, and for putting up with me when I come home after being gone all day only to bury my head into the computer and start typing. Thank you to Deanna, Seth, and any others who gave me advice on the wonderful world of self publishing. Thanks to Crys, Charlie, Lyndsey, Deanna, Misty, and everyone else who read the early drafts of my work and gave me the great feedback that allowed me to write a far stronger story than I ever could have alone. Thanks to Misty, Shawn, Mom, Carolyn, Cindy, Steph, and all of my other friends and family members who have helped and continue to help in promoting me. Thanks to my Dad for his help in collecting many of the stories that would become part of this.

Thank you to all of you who have purchased the book already. I really hope you enjoy it. If you do, please write some online reviews telling others what you thought. To those who intend to buy it, a pre-emptive thanks to all of you as well.

And to you, the reader of this blog, thank you as well. Your continued support of me in this means more than you know.

It's been a lot of work, but it has been well worth it. I can now add "Published Author" to my list of accomplishments. But I have no intentions of stopping there. Book two is about half written. I've still got plans to do an audiobook version of book one. Other stories are already floating in my head, wanting to be told, and stories I wrote in the past now beckon me to return to them and make them worthy of publishing. Plus, there is a potential collaboration project I've been discussing with a friend that I hope turn into reality.

And of course, there's still a ton of promotion to be done on Waking Up Dead.

But for now, I wanted to take a moment to look back and appreciate all that has passed to get me here, and to savor the moment. Life if pretty good. Let's keep making it better.


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