Melissa Maygrove amazes me. She’s a terrific writer, well-prepared, and so much better at this whole networking business than me. In fact, I owe her a huge debt, because I wouldn’t be where I am now without her.
I have the honor and privilege to have her guest posting on my blog today. And without any further ado, I hand over today’s post to Melissa—Woulda Shoulda Coulda – Things I would do differently if I had it to do over again.
Learned more about the publishing industry sooner (e.g. genre, book formats, distribution, etc.). I’ve never claimed to be an expert, but when I began the final publishing push, I discovered how little I really knew.
Begun looking for stock images sooner. Holy cow—I trolled those sites for HOURS. If you think finding images for a contemporary is hard, try finding one for a historical. Gah! Her make-up is too heavy, his clothes are too modern, her fingernails are painted purple… and on and on and on and on and on.
In the future I think I’ll pick the cover couple before I write the story and set their imaginary images in my mind.
Worked harder to find beta readers. I ended up with only four CPs/betas for the final draft of Come Back. I really took a chance with that; I was lucky these folks were prime and that they all came through. The feedback I received would not have been as well-rounded if my group had been less dependable.
Worked harder to get early reviews. Reviewers have to be sought out, and they need plenty of time to read your story—sometimes months.
Built an author website sooner. By the time I got around to doing it, I was way busy with everything else. I would like to have had time to put more thought and effort into it before making it public.
This is the downside to a debut—one has to do things in addition to preparing the book, like build a website and open retailer accounts. Whereas, when releasing subsequent books, you just have to polish them, upload them, and market them. The other stuff has already been done.
Took time to learn the craft before putting my work out there. Writers are constantly learning and improving, and not every book we write is going to be a hit. But we don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.
Established a social media platform and presence early in the game. I have Carrie Butler to thank for that. She took me under her wing, helped me build my blog, then booted nudged me out of the nest. 😛
Hired out the graphics and the formatting. A professional-looking cover is a must. Nuf said. I may learn to do my own formatting eventually, but there’s no way I could have done that the first time around. I was going cross-eyed and crazy over too many learning curves already.
Got organized early. I made a document entitled Publishing Timeline and noted, by week, all the things I needed to do. (I did this almost 6 months before release day, by the way.) The list contained everything from editing and publishing deadlines to my plans for promotions and marketing.
This was a fluid document, meaning I added things as I went and sometimes moved things around if I decided they should be done earlier or later. Even so, it kept me focused and helped me not to forget to do something important. Once I completed a task, I grayed it out.
I also made documents to keep track of various things—like a list of people I wanted to acknowledge in the front matter and a list of folks I owed free copies to. I kept them in a folder on my laptop and added to them as I went along.
Wrote guest posts, trivia and interview questions, and chose quotes and excerpts ahead of time. Having this stuff ready to go made the final promo prep so much easier. If someone needed a post or a passage, I just pulled it right from my pre-made pile. Bam—done.
(Hint: If you do this early, don’t forget to update the excerpts after the final edit!)
Self-publishing is a LOT of work, but the long-term rewards are worth it.
Native Texan Melissa Maygrove is a wife, mother, nurse, freelance editor, and romance writer. When she’s not busy caring for her tiny nursery patients or shuttling teenagers back and forth to after-school activities, she’s hunched over her laptop, complicating the lives of her imaginary friends and playing matchmaker. Melissa loves books with unpretentious characters and unforgettable romance, and she strives to create those same kinds of stories for her readers.
Melissa’s debut novel, Come Back, released Monday, May 12th, from Truelove Press.
Sometimes a single choice alters the course of a person’s life forever.
Rebecca Garvey had the promise of a California future dreams are made of, until the wagon train her family was traveling with left her behind. Now she’s slowly dying in the wilderness, abandoned and stripped of her self-worth. Once the shock of her desertion turns to embittered despair, she doesn’t want to be found. Then a handsome stranger challenges her convictions and changes her mind.
Headed for Texas, chased by the demons of his past…
Seth Emerson knows exactly what he wants. Working to save for a cattle ranch of his own keeps him busy and keeps his pain buried. Rescuing a stubborn woman from the hills of New Mexico Territory isn’t part of his plan—but she’s exactly what he needs.
Making greater sacrifices than either of them could foresee…
Seth and Rebecca set off on a risky journey and a quest for truth, each healing the other’s love-starved soul along the way. Will they give in to their growing attraction? Or will they honor their commitments when Seth returns Rebecca to civilization… and her betrothed?
That’s a lot of great information. What was your favorite point? What did you learn?