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Today’s Spotlight: The Trials of Becoming a Self-published Author

Updated: Nov 26, 2021

Hear Ye! Hear Ye!

Since November is National Novel Writing Month, we wanted to take you through our journey of becoming self-published authors.

In our first blog, we talked about how a night of playing Dungeons and Dragons changed our life. The process from concept to a physical copy of our book was a long emotional journey.

Our original thought was to write one book. All we wanted to do was share our story and have a legacy of being published authors. So, we began writing a book outline and realized this would be a massive book. After having a conversation with a fellow author, she recommended that we do a trilogy.

Now, in theory, this was exciting, but in execution, it was terrifying. We looked over the chapters in the outline and quickly realized we didn't have enough for three books. So Rachel and I went back to the drawing board. I remember this day like it was yesterday.

She and I strategized a plan that would take Raven and the others through a life-changing adventure. We were vacationing at Sandridge, VA. Sitting at the beach house, listening to the waves as we began to map out our story. We outlined would cover the first two books, but we still had one more book to fill.

One morning Rachel tells me she had a dream about a new character that could tie right into book three a few weeks later. Now, if you think I am going to tell you who that character is… forget it. LOL. You will have to wait and find out in book two. (Fun Fact: Our original story introduced nine characters. By the end, we had twenty-one primary characters. Many of them will have pivotal roles through the trilogy. )

While Rachel and I were writing, we also had to research how to publish our book. We began this journey with another friend, who owns a leadership publishing house. Tracy offered to get us on our way and publish our first book. This process was an emotional rollercoaster.

The first task was completing the novel. It took us two years to finish writing book one.

The next hurdle to overcome was learning about editing. When you go to hire an editor, there are several different types:

  1. Developmental editing, also known as substantive or content editing, is usually the first step of editing that a manuscript will go through.

  2. Copy editing can include making corrections to spelling and punctuation. However, the editor generally focuses more on grammar, word choice, and enhancing overall writing quality.

  3. Line editing is a close cousin of copyediting, but there are some key differences, and hence it is a separate editing step. Line editing gets its name because the editor goes through your writing "line by line." They closely examine word choice, the impact of your writing and provide polish to ensure that your book is clear and eloquent. Line editing also takes on the task of ensuring that spelling, grammar, punctuation, and formatting.

When we submitted our manuscript, we unknowingly jumped all the way to line editing. That was a hard lesson to learn in the middle of publishing. We had to pause with the editor and go back and do the other edits ourselves. We enlisted family members to become our Alpha and Beta readers. Once we reviewed the manuscript a dozen more times, we sent it again to the Mechanical Editor.

Once the editing was complete, we moved on to the pagination process. Pagination is the process of producing good page layouts for the given material. We also submitted our cover art, maps, and Naelo Crest that illustrated the book. Once finished, we reviewed the PDF copy again, ensuring we saw no errors, then submitted it to our publisher.

And that was the end. We just kicked back and waited for the final product to be delivered.

Not even close.

The next stage was finding an on-demand printer. This option allows authors not to purchase 1,000s of copies of their books and sell them alone. Tracy mentioned a company Ingram Sparks, and that is who we went with. Other authors do everything through Amazon, but we decided to go this route instead. The good news was that even though we were using Ingram Sparks, our books would still be available on Amazon.

While the books were printing, we had one primary task ahead of us that neither of us was ready for. How do you market your book? Marketing includes social media posts introducing your book, then a book launch. You may also wish to contact your local news media, in which you should have an electronic press kit ( EPK).

Next is the task of staying connected to your fans. Rachel and I love meeting our fans at events. In-person events are always fun but time-consuming. Once you start selling some books, you need to find ways to stay in touch with your readers. Everyone should have an email list where you send out a monthly newsletter. Another good idea is to start community chat rooms in places like Discord or Facebook.

Rachel and I hit the ground running in 2019, so excited about this adventure. Then we all know what happened, Covid -2020. We tried to pivot and focus on social media selling only. While the world was locked down, we started on book two of the trilogy.

We decided to shift our focus to becoming a self-published author. Due to Covid, we had to find ways of doing things on a tighter budget. Our first miracle came in the form of our new editor, Raven. Yes, your read this correctly. We were able to hire a young lady named Raven to edit the last two books of the Raven trilogy. It wasn't just by chance this happened. You see, many years ago, I was the play director for a local school. Raven was one of my student actors. So, one day I saw her mention on Facebook that she would reread Twilight Books and analyze all the editorial mistakes. I quickly looked at her profile and saw she had graduated with a degree in literature. And as they say, the rest is history. She has become a great asset and member of our team.

Our friends and family became Alpha and Beta readers again, while Rachel taught herself how to paginate a novel. I rolled up my sleeves and started to learn how to create newsletters, blogs, and social media posts. This led me to our next good fortune. I reached out to Central Penn College, an alumnus, to see if they could connect me with an intern. They were able to introduce me to Jenelle. We were also blessed by meeting with a few fans at an event over the summer. Nathan, Jayna, and Chris all asked if they could help us in any way. So, they joined our marketing team and worked tirelessly alongside Jenelle to help us improve our social media presence.

After 18 months of writing, pivoting, networking, and educating, we are just weeks away from releasing our second novel in the trilogy: Raven Naelo and the Fall of the Guardians.

If you have a dream of writing, follow it! Start with the most straightforward concept, create fun and exciting characters, and let your imagination go wild!

If you would like to purchase a copy of our first novel or pre-order a copy of

Raven Naelo and the Fall of the Guardians. Please visit our website here:

On behalf of Rachel and myself, we thank you for joining our adventure. We are humbled by the love and support that we get from all our fans. Until next time, fare thee well, friends.

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