Since my poetry book Les Belles Lettres has been published, I’ve been receiving many messages with questions about how to write & publish a book.
I’m honored to be looked up to regarding these things, but I also find it funny that so many people would ask me these questions simply because I published a book. It’s even ironic because I didn’t know any of these answers either, and spent a whole year learning what I needed to know to accomplish my vision of publishing Les Belles Lettres.
It led me on a whole journey of self discovery and rekindled passion that I never expected, and into an even less expected path with now writing a historical fiction novel. This is part of the reason I tell people that they must go out there and learn for their self- because it’s a personal journey in a way, and I can’t simply give you that experience, or simplify all the information I took in.
What I can do is share a little bit about my journey and answer some of the repeated questions I receive, and hopefully you will find my story helpful and enlightening!
writing & publishing
”I want to write, how/where do I start?”
For those who are just starting out writing, I’ll tell you what I was told by a literature professor of Cardiff University in Wales: the only difference between a wannabe and legit writer is that one of them wants to do it, and the other one DOES it. You just have to start (because it’s what you truly want to be doing!), and learn as you go. You have to be willing to do research. Read articles from other authors. Learn. And did I mention research? Research. A lot! The good news is, pretty much all your answers can be found online.
”How do you write a book?”
When I started my historical fiction novel summer 2019, I had prior experience with writing stories (I did for years as a teen/young adult) but no experience with composing in actual novel format or understanding of layout. I spent a month learning how to compile a book, how to use the softwares, and the different methods/styles of writing. I played around with my writing at the beginning, finding a style and POV that felt right with my natural voice.
Then for the first few months I just wrote a ton, until I figured out my own flow that worked best for me. That flow, once discovered, will be your best friend! When you make it that personal thing between you and your creativity, it becomes a very sacred space in your mind that you end up loving to go to when you write. And I think it’s more about that fulfillment you get from it than just being able to say “I wrote a book”.
”How can I know if people will like my writing?”
The thing is you can’t know if people will like your work. You have to believe in it yourself, and if you truly think it should be out in the world, then you should strive to get it there. Ask friends and family to read some of your writing and see if people generally like it. Get feedback on what draws them into it and why, so you get an outside opinion about what makes your voice unique. Your voice may seem normal to you, but it can be really unique to people outside your brain. Or maybe you have some glimmer of something unique, and other readers can help you see what needs polished. Either way, you want outside input, whether it’s easy or hard to hear. Be willing to take opinions while also standing up for your work.
”How did you publish your book and find success?”
From what I’ve learned, you can spend years writing a book and then years trying to get it out there. There’s no instant success or return, which people tend to believe in this era of instant gratification. There’s only you, your work, and the lengths you’re willing to go for it. For example, my first poetry book is made up of work from throughout my whole life, and took all of 2019 to compile and get printed/published. I get people asking me all the time how they too can write & publish a book, expecting there to be some quick, easy method. There isn’t. That’s why it took both me and my husband working on it together full time for a year, sacrificing time and money for it.
Writing a book and publishing is a serious thing, not to be accomplished on a whim, and I encourage anyone who feels strongly about following this path to be ready to invest so much more than they think, and to do endless amounts of research. (Yes, I said research again, because oh heavens I’m ever so serious!!)
If you’re starting from square 1, without connections or a pre-built reputation in the literary industry, then square 1 is just where you’re at. You have to work your way up, and there really is no arriving! You never stop learning, writing, and pushing your books, even after they’re published. Publishing is only the end of the first challenge! Then you have to actually get your book OUT THERE.
”How long does it take to write a book?”
Unless you’re one of those geniuses that can crank out novels quickly, it can take a whole lot of time. At first I was intimidated by the thought. But I realized that thinking about it and figuring out what I want to write is never a waste of time, it all contributes to making the final product. It counts for something.
I spend a lot of time just pondering my plot and details so I can make all the pieces fit. I don’t always have time to write for long sittings, or often, depending on my content creator work, so I record my ideas and thoughts all the time, and then write on free days in between my work. I actually like having the time to think over things longer because I can then develop the ideas and plot better, and so just write freely and creatively when it comes to it. Of course that’s just one element of what I’ve found works for me, and everyone has their own workflow when it comes to writing and compiling a book.
”How to self-publish or get published?”
This is the question I get the most, and it’s the one near impossible to answer due to the amount of information and the difficulty of the process. It is intimidating. Yes, I published. But no, I didn’t find some easy method that made it possible to do so, as much as it may seem that way. It’s was a huge task that I couldn’t have done without my husband fighting along beside me, and I can’t say it was easy in any way. In fact, it was harder than the actual WRITING! But I accomplished it in a year with full dedication, so yes it is possible! You just have to be willing to go the full mile.