A few months ago a friend of mine asked whether they could interview me for an essay they were writing on the world of self-publishing. Answering those questions got me thinking! It’s been almost five months since I published Luch & Friends, and I’ve barely spoken to anybody about my process in any depth. My close friends and followers knew when I was writing, they knew when I was editing, and they definitely knew when I was promoting. But I never felt the need to talk about how I felt about it all … until now!
I’ve always loved books. I was reading fluently from around the age of three (much to my nursery school teacher’s surprise) and when I learnt to write, I was unstoppable. Not only did I devour books, I was determined to write them too. I have a very vivid memory of asking my mum “Can someone my age publish a book?” at about 8 years old. But all that changed as soon as I hit high school. High school crushed me. With my then undiagnosed autism, I was bullied and forced into years of silence. After I left school, I had a few years in which I had no friends. During this time I fumbled around, privately drawing comics, animating and making costumes, but nothing ever felt right.
Until I remembered writing.
My mum writes too, and when I took my desire to write a children’s book to her she said it was totally possible – I could even self-publish if I wanted to. This is what spurred me on. At the time, my confidence was nowhere near what it is now. I wasn’t sure, after high school, that I had the skills to become a published author, but I still wanted to prove to myself that I could finish a project and perfect it.
After finishing, editing, and re-editing Luch & Friends (a task in itself!) I gave it to my mum to edit further and offer feedback. Some might say this is a major no-no, but I’d say they don’t have a mum like mine! We have a close relationship, and she knows I’d never take offense to anything she said. She told me straight which parts worked and which parts didn’t, and we bounced the story back and forth for months, whilst I got to work on the illustrations (which did not make it into the book, but are available on my Tumblr, Luch’s House). Around this time I started posting on Twitter and Tumblr about my project, and posting sneak-peaks. Within days, fan art started rolling in. Imagine my excitement!
So the journey continued. There were ups and downs. I designed a cover, formatted each page, posted weekly updates leading up to September 9th (release day!) and screamed endlessly with my friends over Skype about how cute my cover looked. I remember lying face down on my bed because I kept finding typos. My words no longer made sense. I went a bit a loopy. But on the 9th, everything paid off. Luch was ready. I woke up at 4am to more fan art, this time from my closest friends, celebrating the release of my first book. Tears aplenty! I ate celebratory jam tarts, put on my celebratory bunny slippers, and made Luch & Friends available to the public …
I learned a lot through this process. Knowing what I do now, there is a lot I’d do differently in terms of deadlines and promoting. At the time, my confidence was still wobbly, but now … now I’ve written a book (and it was awesome)! Self-publishing helped me see myself as capable, and the readers’ responses to my work enabled me to keep writing and to stay excited about my work. I write every day, and every day I feel an overwhelming love for my craft.
I have a lot of stories in me bursting to get out – it’s possible they’ve been building up in there ever since I started high school! Currently, I’m writing a fantasy book for older children. I’ve said little about it so far, but I’m very, very excited about it. It’s an amazing story. The difference this time? I’m not planning on self-publishing! I’m on the search for an agent. Not only do I think someone else needs in on the fun, but I have the confidence in myself I didn’t have a year ago. And as I told my essay-writing friend:
You shouldn’t be afraid of saying your book is awesome. Because it is, and the world needs to know!
To my fellow independent authors, you rock! Keep the faith and keep writing! And to all those who want to write: Go write! Write a sentence a day if you have to! I’m sending you all the love in the world!
(Also, check out my best friend’s playlist for Gem & Radan on 8tracks!)
To read more of her adventures in writing, book reviewing, and life with her spirit guide Matt check out her blog Books and Flowers.