J. L. Willow

Author ~ Blogger ~ Storyteller

Camp Nanowrimo is officially over and I am glad to report that I was able to complete my goal! I wrote at least an hour each day (most of the time, it was more). I was a little worried as to how this would work out with vacationing and all that fun summer stuff, but I was still able to get it done. In terms of my project, the first draft of my second book is finished and I am well into the editing and revising process. I’m hoping to have a title reveal out to you guys soon, so make sure you’re subscribed to my blog so you’re first to hear about it! 🙂

With my second book well in the works, I’ve been doing some reflecting on what to do differently this time around. Nearly all authors can agree that the first book is the hardest, since we’re treading in new territory and bound to make mistakes. And I was no different. I’m not going to lie, when I published The Scavenger, I definitely made some choices that I’m not going to do the second time around. Nothing too drastic, but things that caused enough heartache and hindrance for me to actively avoid this time around. Some of these things might not have caused as many issues for you, and if they didn’t, that’s okay. But either way, hopefully you’ll be able to learn from the rough patches I hit while writing The Scavenger. It could save you a lot of sweat and tears.

So here are a few things I would’ve done differently first time around:

1. Formatting the interior

Alright, so this one isn’t actually a mistake. I’m really proud of how the interior formatting came out. It looks exactly as I imagined and I wouldn’t change it if I had the option. The mistake was how much time I had to spend on it to make it look that good. At first glance, it seems pretty easy to format a book. Just copy the text, paste it into a new document, find a font that looks good, and you’re all set. If only it were that simple. There are page numbers, headers, footers, spacing, the whole shebang. And I had no idea how to do any of it. Don’t get me wrong, I did my research and all, but sometimes the processors are constantly changing and updating, so there’s not always one correct answer on how to do something. There was one day where I spent three hours in front of my computer because I didn’t like how paragraphs would sometimes skip to a new page, leaving a space at the bottom of the previous page. I ended up having to correct the settings on each of the 214 pages manually. I’m sure there was a better way to do it, but I’m not an expect. Either way, it got the job done. So, by saving myself a few hundred dollars, I ended up buying myself a load of hours of extra work. For this next book, I’m planning on having it professionally done. There are some interesting transitions and chapters in the book that I want to make sure are done right, and the only way I can see that happening is if it’s done professionally.

2. Launched around Thanksgiving

The Scavenger launched on November 13, 2017. I wanted to get it out before Christmas so people could buy it as a gift. I also wanted to wait until after Halloween, so November seemed like the perfect time. Turns out, there was a problem that I wasn’t even considering at the time: Thanksgiving. The fact that I was launching around a national holiday wasn’t the problem — people could still purchase the book and order it just fine. The problem came in that my book launch party was a few weeks after the official launch date. I realized quickly that ordering hundreds of copies of The Scavenger from Createspace took a long time, made longer by the fact that the post offices would be closed Thanksgiving weekend. I ended up paying for express shipping and everything turned out fine, no harm done. But I have no plans about launching around a major holiday for book two.

3. Advance reviews (or lack thereof)

One of the best ways to make sure your book launch rocks is to coordinate advance reviews before the book is released. This helps your book climb in Amazon’s review system faster and attract more readers. I had some plans to put out advance reviews for The Scavenger, but I wasn’t able to pull it together in time. This time around, though, I have big plans for the book’s launch — and that includes advance reviews!

4. A final, professional edit

This was again, my trying to save financially. It’s recommended to — in addition to doing a professional edit while the book is being written — do another final sweep before the book is published. I did the edit in the middle my actual writing of the book, but I decided against doing another sweep before the book was released. This was taking a pretty big risk that, looking back, wasn’t the smartest decision. After you concentrate and focus on something for so long, it can be easy to overlook simple spelling or grammatical errors. It’s important to have someone on the outside to take a final look at your manuscript before you send it out into the world. You never know what you and your Betas could’ve missed. Again, it didn’t cause any drastic errors, but it’s something I’ll be sure to check-off the second time around. 

Funny enough, this list is as much for you guys as it is for me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very proud of how The Scavenger launched and how I wrote/published it. But there’s always room for improvement, and it’s important to look back over what you’ve done to see what you could’ve done better. This concept can really be applied to anything. First-timer mistakes are bound to happen. Learning from those mistakes are how you keep improving and getting better at what you do. 

Do you have any mistakes you’ve learned from over the years? Share them in the comments below!

Just keep writing, just keep writing . . .

— Julia


2 thoughts on “Second Time Around Tips — And Update!

  1. jon287 says:

    One of my favorite and most informative blogs thus far- experience is definitely the best teacher


  2. lauraw32 says:

    Excellent suggestions! Very useful for first-time publishers.


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