I am first and foremost a mother and homemaker. That gets old after some years. Not the motherhood, that always stays interesting and you have your deep, motherly love to keep you going. Homemaking is a good job…and monotonous. You really have to shake it up every few months if you are like me. I never stayed in jobs for long periods out of boredom and, so far, I’ve had this job a little over 5 years.
At first, I was in heaven. I didn’t have to wake unnaturally to an alarm clock and commute to a job, please a boss, work tirelessly making money for someone else…I was my own boss and I ruled over this little kingdom. I sipped my coffee slowly without the constraints of a timed coffee break and I decided my daily schedule. I love home life, I consider cleaning to be therapeutic, and cooking with a little music is spiritual. I enjoy my children immensely and, along with the dogs and cat, I haven’t had a lonely day since this adventure began.
However, there comes a time when Sesame Street and baking bread isn’t as fulfilling as it was in the first 3 years.
Enter stage left, a writing career. But how does a housewife have this career without a publisher and a zero budget? I’ve written about this before but I’m heading toward completing my second year of this journey and feel that I can really give some very simple and solid advice.
I have written things all my life. Journals and diaries by the case load, ideas, and opinions on topics given in English courses or book reviews. That was really it. I had written and illustrated my own books about princess’s when I was a wee little thing but I wasn’t a teller of tall tales. I’m more about real life. Boring, I know.
The first two real books I ever wrote were right after my mother died and around the time I got sober. I wrote a book about my whole life from birth to present. Turned out that it was merely cathartic and I later deleted the novel that was my sad turned happy life. The second was a book on how to get through the first year of sobriety successfully and I have since published it.
It’s been a long two years filled with mistakes and learning curves, along with battling the goblins of insecurity and false self-judgments. I have spent many a night up at all hours correcting a publishing mistake, creating a cover, editing for the 10th time to only have to finally succumb to getting a real live proofreader, and wondering if I’m just making an ass of myself on this train ride. I have had one of my aunts comment on my work as in, “oh, your still doing that.” And the first year I only had a few ratings on my books from friends that were trying to be supportive.
Until recently, I have had no money for editing, marketing, publishing, or even covers. I purchased a laptop for $300 and paid $3000 for Balboa self-publishing to do a junky job and sell not one book, no marketing, a hideous website the color of Kaopectate, and no support or help. I had to do all the work and then they took 3 months to just make a hot pink cover and publish. Worst mistake I made out of all the hundreds of mistakes I’ve made over this 2 year period. Do it yourself is what I advise.
So, after that expensive jaunt, my husband put his paw down on no more money in this quest. He supported it wholeheartedly but not with our wallet. I had only published my first book Queen of Penny Pinching and I was itching to publish my Queen of Sober. I had a taste and was addicted. I searched online for self-publishing ideas. I found some authors talking about Amazon KDP and how it was FREE! And one author said, “Crazy easy!” I liked those two things. Free and easy…crazy easy.
And the journey began. I have published a stack of books with amazon kdp and I now have some fiction that I publish under a pen name. I’m finally getting ratings and reviews, some are even 5 stars and positive reviews by strangers. I get bad reviews too, mostly for my typos. I now spend the money and have a friend, who is a professional proofreader, go over all my work. I just sent her the last of my books. I can’t afford to not have her now since my books are selling pretty well. I have also invested in premade covers by James from GoOnWrite.com. So, I do pay for editing and covers for the ebooks but I am even frugal in these departments. My editor gives me a huge break since I’m still starting out (and so is she) and I can get four great ebook covers for $75 under the two for one special on Jame’s site. You pinch pennies where you can.
However, in the very beginning, after my fatal spending with Balboa Press, I had a zero budget. Not one penny and no justification for spending any of our savings on a career that I didn’t know if I could make happen. And thank goodness I didn’t spend our money. I was so clumsy in the beginning. So raw and awkward. I have rewritten several of my books a few times over, edited over and over and over…
Here is how I did it. I purchased the cheap and basic laptop because the other one I worked on was on its last leg. I wrote and edited and proofread my books. I would suggest a friend or partner do this if they are willing to do it in exchange for goods and services, a cake, a massage…
I publish all my ebooks on Amazon KDP and paperbacks on Createspace.com (you can now publish paperback on Amazon KDP but I always have drama with it). It is crazy easy for both places and Createspace is linked so all the paperbacks are advertised with the ebooks on Amazon. I’ve tried Smashwords, Fastpencil, Lulu, Nook Press, and others I can’t recall. They are all fairly easy and free and you get a chunk of your royalties. Amazon is the easiest and I’m not computer smart. You also can have 35% to 70% of your royalties. They also offer a cover creator with photos and colors, fonts and formats. You can do it all in one place for free. Even advertising and marketing! You get 5 days every 3 months to do a give away that boost sales.
Createspace is easy for publishing the paperbacks and they also offer covers. I thought they were a part of Amazon, however, this year Amazon KDP offers to make your book into paperback also. I prefer Createspace because there are never issues with the publishing process and you can speak to a live person immediately for assistance if you get stuck.
As for promoting and advertising, you can utilize the 5 days with Amazon KDP or find sites online that will do twitter and facebook blast on your giveaway days. Kindleprenuer by Dave Chessen has a great blog: https://kindlepreneur.com/list-sites-promote-free-amazon-books/. He gives you all sorts of sites and resources to advertise your books. Paid and free. This is a great way to start getting yourself out there.
I have a facebook of my own and I created another facebook attached that is just for my author space. I can advertise all over the world on there for very little money. I have an author site on Amazon with all my books listed and a biography. You can start a free twitter account and start adding people, especially authors.
I started blogging about 8 months into this as a way to also get out there and promote myself. My blogging has turned into more of a therapeutic and fun hobby. I don’t know that it really boost my sales and I don’t make money on it. You can, but it’s work. I blog with WordPress for $99 a year. I can create my blog easily with all the tools they provide and when I blog it post to Tumblr, Twitter, and Facebook. You can blog for free on several sites, however, your blog won’t be posted on places like Facebook and Twitter. If you have a big email list then you can work with that.
Now for the educational portion. I don’t have time for classes. I had to create my own little writing homeschool. When I read the advice from successful authors there were two things they always advised: read, read, read other authors works and edit, edit, edit your work. I check out stacks upon stacks of books from the library and I read all genres and styles, time periods and genders. I also found Stephen King’s book On Writing a great resource. I took away some solid advice that worked for me. There is also a very popular book that has been around for a very long time, The Artist Way by Julia Cameron. I skimmed it and I am shocked by myself to say that Stephen King worked for my personality best.
The final tips I would like to share with you is this: create a space in your home that you really enjoy and will be able to sit and write. Fix up a writing table in the living room or a desk in the bedroom, or create an office out of an extra room. The other thing I suggest is finding your best time of the day. Do you feel clearer of mind and imaginations in the early morning hours or late at night with all the kids in bed? A space and a time to work your craft, that is big indeed.
And write, write, write, and write some more. You may write a whole novel that you delete in its completion. The more you write and the more you read other works the better you will become as an author. If you feel you need more guidance you can sign up for a class through a community college or look online for blogs and articles on how to develop a story. I found an article on how to build a romantic novella. It was simple but really helped me write my second fiction book.
Good luck and have fun. Don’t compare yourself to others. You may be better than those you compare yourself to in your clumsy and awkward beginnings.