The Story of Open Minds
Ch 8: A Writer’s Journey: Self-Publishing Open Minds (Part 1)
Ch 9: Owning theWriterly Path:Self-Publishing Open Minds (Part 2)
Epilogue: Finding Time to Write the Sequel
Deciding to Self-Publish Open Minds (Part One)
I’ve talked about my decision to self-publish my paranormal/SF young adult novel Open Minds, but in short I made a calculated career decision to self-publish for three reasons:
1) Publisher interest in paranormal was waning, even though paranormal YA novels were still burning up the charts
2) Price control
3) Writing investment diversification
(Plus I have to admit to a certain desire to try the shiny new gadget of self-publishing.)
My Logic Brain loves those three reasons, and they are truly the decision points that made me take the leap into self-publishing.
But finding the courage to make the leap was a whole different story. The theme of my writer’s journey to date has really been about overcoming fear, and that journey has taught me many lessons.
Fear of Sharing My Work
All good stories start at the beginning. For me, the beginning was December of 2008, when I decided to write fiction for the first time since I was a high school student passing serialized stories as furtive notes to my friends in class. But as an adult, I was terrified to share my work. It took me two months and a very encouraging phone call from my brother before I was willing to post my first stabs at writing online. For real people to actually read. The horrors! I quickly realized that in spite of the horrid quality of my craft, people didn’t care. They wanted to read the story. I also learned that having readers rocked my socks.
Lesson #1: Story matters more than craft and readers matter most of all.
Fear of Being Serious about Creative Work
Once the writing bug bit me, I was completely entranced. It was like discovering a new addiction, only more so. Writing had tapped into a creative side of me that had been dormant for many years, jolting my Creative Brain to life and sending it on a headlong rush of delirious creative work. I’m not saying the work was good, but my heavens, there was a lot of it. I wrote day and night. My husband wondered what had happened to me. But I couldn’t stop; didn’t want to stop. I wanted to do this writing thing full-time, forever. I had a serious identity crisis for a while: how could someone with a Ph.D. in Engineering even consider writing as a career? I had always planned to go back to work in engineering, and now I was going to be a children’s writer?? I wrestled long and hard with that decision, but Creative Brain—once unleashed—was a force to be reckoned with. Once again, my brother (the writer) came to my aid and said with no sarcasm that I had a moral obligation to write. That people who are capable of creating original work have an obligation to the world to do so. I completely thought he was joking. He wasn’t. It took me a long time before I finally understood what he meant. In fact, my understanding of that simple statement continues to evolve (my brother should run for Dalai Lama, in case the Dalai decides to make it an elected position).
Lesson #2: Creative work is as valuable in the world as “practical” work.
Fear of Publishing
Once I took the leap to being serious about writing, I started a novel with the intent of trying to get it published (this was Clone Runners). I got all serious about plotting and craft. I read agent and writer’s blogs. I started my own blog. And I continued to write like crazy. I entered that phase where you learn enough to know how much you REALLY don’t know. It was painful and long and arduous. And exhilarating and amazing. And mostly terrifying.
I was getting close to querying my middle grade science fiction story and was half-way through the first draft of Open Minds, when the unthinkable happened: someone (my publisher Omnific) wanted me to submit the first real novel I had written, Life, Liberty, and Pursuit (a teen love story). What? That wasn’t part of the plan, at all. I was going to be a SF writer, primarily MG, not a romance writer for young adults. And did I really want to take the risk of publishing with a small publisher? I had read all the blogs that said to be wary of small publishers, especially NEW small publishers (I was Omnfic’s 9th title). I hurriedly revised and polished this novel I had never intended to publish, submitted it, and before too long they were offering me a contract. Meanwhile, I consulted my Mission Statement (#GeekAlert), the one that I had created for my writing career, and this popped out at me:
To create a body of work ... that reaches a large number of young readers, to provide the greatest impact on young lives.
This was what I really wanted: to connect with readers. To have readers, I needed to put work out where they could buy it. I decided to take the leap and publish Life, Liberty, and Pursuit.
Lesson #3: You can’t reach readers if you don’t publish.
These lessons were just the start of finding my Writerly Path. Read on to Part Two to see the rest of the journey.