What I Have Learned: An Adventure in Self-Publishing and Self-Evaluation

It has been a little over a year and a half since the publication of my latest novel, Hope the Little Fox. In that time, I have learned quite a bit. Most of it is not good! Okay, here we go…

First, I should probably mention that technically Hope is my third finished book and my second published novel. The first book, Nerdscouts: Adventure in Hell, was an autobiographical adventure tale written as a wedding gift for one of my fellow adventurers. She has the only printed copy. My second book, Holly, The Captain, and Handsome Jack, was my first foray into self-publishing. It was a fun exercise just for myself. I didn’t take myself or the process too seriously and just saw how things went. It was by no means a professional endeavor, nor was it a professional product. But it was fun, I learned a lot about myself and about writing, and I was proud of myself for getting it done.

With this book, I tried a little bit harder. By no means is this my magnum opus, nor was the publishing processs an honest attempt to make it as a professional novelist. But I did think (and still do think) that, of everything I’ve ever written or thought of writing, this book probably stood the best chance of hitting the commercial mainstream. This time around, I decided to invest in a few professional (and perhaps some less-than-professional) services. Wading deeper into the pool of self-publishing was an overwhelming experience. A whole new world opened up before me. With Holly I was pleasantly surprised at just how easy it was for absolutely anybody to throw any gibebrish onto a page and call it a day. Anyone can sign onto Kindle Direct Publishing, throw a file of gibberish at it, wait a couple days, and then be officially and legally published.

But if you want the book to be remotely non-embarassing, you need to start paying attention to details. And for every single one of these details, there is a vast market of competitors out there waiting to take your money and/or waste your time. One of my biggest challenges was deciding just where I thought it was worth it to invest, and where I thought I could pull things off on my own. Did I make the right call every time? NO! Hahahaha oh my God absolutely not! Let’s venture forth through the List of Shame, shall we?

Formatting: I did this one on my own. It took WAAAAAAAAY more time and effort than it should have. I am certain there are probably software programs or websites that fix all the formatting junk for you automatically, as well as layout editors who will do it for you in a fraction of the time. But whatever- I figured I could handle it. I was mostly successful in the end result, but dang was it a rough ride. It didn’t help that, given that I wrote this book in spurts over the course of five long years, I wound up using different software and different styles at different parts of the book. Sometimes I skipped a line between paragraphs; something I did not. Sometimes I indented my paragraphs; sometimes I did not. Total nightmare. Eventually, very very slowly, line by line, I got the whole thing to mostly match. At no point during my draft did I have any clue what chapter number I was on, so I had to go manually renumber the chapters. Sometimes I wrote out the number, sometimes I did not. I also needed to manually adjust the spacing between each chapter. When all of this seemed done and ready to go (hahahaha I’m a sucker), I imported into the KDP website and… it looked like shit. They give you seemingly clear parameters on what size margins to set for how many pages, etc (because the center margin always needs space for the binding), but it still just looked totally off. And there were random blank pages. Oh, also, I was VERY bad at getting the page numbers to display correctly. I got it done, but I never want to go through that headache again. So what have I learned? For my CURRENT book, I am starting with the proper formatting. Yup, I am just using a copy of the original book, one where I deleted out the existing chapters and installed my real chapters. I’m sure that will lead to some other disaster down the road but… we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.

Proofreading: Oh God. You all may have noticed already, but… I’m a bit typo-prone! My brain and my fingers are not operating at the same speed. For anything unimportant like, well, pretty much anything I slap together for this personal blog, I just let the errors flow. But for anything remotely important or public-facing, I’ve always had a secret weapon. A VERY POWERFUL secret weapon; I have a supergenius sister who just so happens to be an insanely skilled and gifted professional copy editor. College papers? Sister edited them. Latvians Online articles? Sister edited them. Holly novel? Sister edited it. She is VERY VERY VERY GOOD AT IT. So you might be thinking “Huh. I’ve read your novels and… well… this explanation doesn’t gel.” Indeed it does not. One of the biggest mistakes I made while working on Holly was that I asked two people to review it at the same time (both for content and proofreading), and then I was just so dang excited and impatient that I made all of the updates from the first reviewer before waiting for my sister’s much more thorough and detailed updates. Then, like an idiot, I went and manually made every single one of my sister’s many many corrections in the newest draft. And of course I missed many of these edits and still wound up with some weird unprofessional shit in there. “Not gonna make that mistake next time!” I assured myself. Nope, it was time to make a BRAND NEW MISTAKE! I decided to not ask my sister for her help. At a whopping 380 pages (and probably 380,000 typos) this seemed like too huge of a job to ask as a favor. And I didn’t know if offering to pay her would be weird. So I decided to hire an editor. BUT… editors are expensive! So I decided to hire a proofreader. Proofreaders are ALSO expensive. But given that this wasn’t my magnum opus and I was generally pretty happy with the overall novel, my only real goal here was to have the text be clean and non-embarassing. My sister had actually already read an early draft for fun and given some light plot-related comments (maybe we don’t need quite so many traumatic rape scenes?), so that was KINDA like having an editor.

Where to hire a professional proofreader? I turned to the website Fiverr. I’ve used this website a handful of times to find art and design professionals, and knew that editors advertised there as well. I would be nervous to hire a real editor from here, because lord knows if they’re any good at their job. But straight-up proofreading shouldn’t be too hard, right? Well, right off the bat, several proofreaders had a maximum page count, and I astronomically exceeded said page counts. Next, customer ratings weren’t as useful as one might expect. Someone may have 10 five star reviews, but when the reviews are written in English so broken and incorerent that they make no sense, can you rely on that customer to judge the actual proofreading? I can’t remember how I chose my person, but I do remember thinking she seemed like a safe pick. Things seemed to be going well at first, and she was very nice. However, the promised turnaround time came and went, and my book wasn’t done. She requested an extension. I was totally cool with this, since it really did seem like a short time for such a long piece. The next deadline passes. No product. No communication. I was torn between frustration and concern; has she dropped off the face of the earth because of an emergency, or because she’s a scammer? Turns out neither; she was having internet issues. Anyhoo point is, my product finally arrived and I was very happy! I learned from her that, due to my stupid strategy of using multiple programs over the years, I had two different styles of apostophe throughout my novel. I had never even heard of apostrophe styles before. But these have to be changed by hand, so after doing bascially an entire full proofread, she went back and did a whole second painstaking sweep for apostrophes. (I don’t recall why a find-replace wouldn’t suffice). None of this so far was too big of a deal, except… people started reading my book. And EVERYONE found errors. Everyone. They were scattered all over the place. People’s reviews said things like “nice story but someone needs an editor. Far too may grammatical errors.” This is something that would not have bothered me if someone was proofreading pro bono, or if just a couple slipped through. But I PAID this person. And unless I suddenly get picked up by a professional publishing house, or plant a money tree so I can pay multiple proofreaders, I don’t know how to guarantee better proofreading in the future. Except to feel super guilty dragging my sister in to save me again.

Cover: For Holly, I used a cover template provided by KDP for free. I uploaded a photo of a fence by the Colonial Williamsburg jail and awaited my proof copy for inspection. The cover was… terrible. My photo resolution was way too low, and it was a landscape photo cropped to a portrait cover, so it was a big grainy unclear mess. I picked a new template- one where the photo would only take half the cover and be clearer. The final copies arrived and… the covers were still subpar. Not AS embarassing, but still not the great. But I was sick of messing with it, so I called it a day. Since then, though, I every now and then see another book with the same template and instantly think less of the book and its author. “You cheap hack!” I think hypocritically. This time, I decided to hire a pro for some super unique cool cover art. But I decided to do the layout myself. I’ve had tons of experience and practice with graphic design and layouts and thought I’d do ok. And with the exception of one slight hiccup (I swear I used KDP’s template for my layout, but it got cropped when I uploaded so I had to go back and make some readjustments), I think this came out fine. The cover ART, on the other hand… came out AMAZING. I mean for real, I coudl not be more happy. I found a lady on Fiverr who does very cool gothic-style ink drawings with a creepy old-timey vibe, and I knew it was exactly what I wanted. She was an absolute PRO, so great to work with, and pulled off exactly what I asked for. Also, she was surprisingly fast (just a couple days if I remember correctly). I absolutely cannot wait to hopefully work with her again on the sequel. Maria Amaya, if anyone wants to hire her. Top notch.

Marketing and ARCs: So one thing I learned very early on is that I did everything out of order. I finished my book, complete with formatting and a nice slick cover, and then I published it. Only then did I start thinking about how to market it. Ha ha ha! What a fool I was! I had zero idea of what goes into marketing a book. I tried some Facebook ads. I made sure to throw the book profile onto Goodreads, but was surprised that I couldn’t advertise there like I could with Holly back in the day. They tightened up their rules. Unsure of what to do, I looked into marketing services, many of which offer to write your blurb (the same blurb that I’d already stamped onto my completely published novel). Yet again, one can go pretty broke here. I decided to pay a lady for a 90 minute consultation. This consultation proved to be the most eye-opening single meeting of my entire life. This is where I learned about the self-pulishing ecosystem and the crucial role that ARCs play. Basically, there’s a world of voracious super-readers out there who consume books at such a fast pace that they don’t have to bother being picky. These people read so many books, though, that they also can’t afford to pay full price for all of them. So they’re the best target audience for self-published new authors who are just trying to start up some sort of recognition. These people find their next read through mailing lists that will send them lists of super-discounted or even free books. Every other shitty self-published author is trying to get their shitty books onto these lists, though, so getting on the list, just to GIVE AWAY your book, is super competitive. There are waiting lists and slots booked months in advance, etc. Concurrently, you need to schedule a special sale on you book for a 3 day period (Amazon has rules on how often you can run sales) and have to HOPE that you get accepted to enough mailing lists at the requested time. I only got onto one or two kinda cruddy mailing lists, and got rejected from all the “good” ones. The hope is that enough people are suddenly channeled towards your super cheap book that sales do a sudden huge bump in one day. Even a slight bump will push you onto the top selling list for various categories (the other trick is getting youself listed in as many appropriate categories as possible), which puts your book in front of even more potential readers, and from there things snowball, with more readers meaning more reviews, meaning higher ratings and chances for inclusion in better lists, meaning even more readers and reviews, etc. Do any of these early readers make you money? Oh fuck no. But they WILL (hopefully) be more likely to buy your next book at full price. At least that’s the theory. Of course, none of this takes off if you get rejected from all these lists in the first place.

Why would you be rejected? Well, the better lists require that you already have X amount of reviews on Amazon, and that you maintain a certain star rating. So how do you get Amazon reviews for a brand new book? One thing that does NOT work is having friends and family leave reviews. I had tons of friends who read my book try to post reviews, only to receive notices that Big Brother Is Watching and they suspect that the reviewer is related to me (which is, apparently, against the rules). Amazon customers also have to have spent X amount of money on Amazon within a certain time frame in order to be allowed to leave reviews, which thwarted one acquaintance who broke her anti-Amazon rule just to read my book. You also cannot pay people to write reviews. Amazon is SUPER strict on reviews (I understand why), so you can get in big trouble I guess if you try to bend any of these rules. I also tried reaching out to reviewers directly, some that I found on lists of folks who run their own review blogs, and struck out at every turn. One thing you CAN do, though, is pay a service who will hook you up with volunteer readers. Those readers receive a free Advanced Reader Copy (ARC), and if they feel like it, they can leave you a review. This SOUNDS like paying for reviews, BUT the services do NOT guarantee that the readers will leave a review, and anyone who receives an ARC needs to disclose this info in their review. They’re also not guaranteed to be positive; most people choose to just not leave a review if it will be less than 3 stars just to not be mean, but they don’t have to do that. One of my favorite reviews is my only negative review (two stars!) because it means the feedback was definitely honest, and it seems suspicious to me when every review is glowing. ANYHOO… so you would think “okay, no problem, I’ll just pay an ARC company.” Not so fast. There are a TON of ARC services out there. I tried MANY of them. Yet again, every other shitty self-published author is trying the same thing as you, so even for free copies you are competing with other people just to be seen. Most of these services garnered no reviews. There are a ton of Facebook groups that I joined for ARCs, and every other minute another wannabe like myself posted their ARC, but with no takers. It’s just a big giant circle-jerk of people following one another and joining each other’s groups in hopes of reaching some sort of readers, ANY readers, only to be confronted with other failing authors. In the few places where I did get reviews, people were more likely to leave them on Goodreads than Amazon, which does not count in the rat race of discount book mailing lists. The ONE service that DID work really well for me was a website called Book Sirens. Book Sirens was THE BEST! Unfortunately I did not try them until it was already too late for my attempt at the Amazon Promotion/ Mailing List Super Plan. But Book Sirens got me tons of readers, was much clearer and simpler to use, and allowed readers to send me personal comments that they didn’t want to put in a review (usually telling me how badly I needed a professional proofreader).

Confession time: We’ve reached the point in the story where I address WHY I’m suddenly writing this post now, even though I have tons of other stuff going on that should take priority (like finishing this dang sequel). The impetus here is an email I just received from one of these ARC services. This was the service that my marketing professional described as the mack daddy of ARC services. They are THE BEST. They can ALMOST GUARANTEE a TON of reviews! However, because they are SO GOOD, they are also SO EXPENSIVE, and SO IN DEMAND that they have a fucking year-long waitlist. WHAAT? She said, though, that the good news is I can get on their calendar now, and if my sequel is ready in time I can get that reviewed right away. And if not, just get more reviews for my current book. A couple months ago, my time finally came! I was so pumped! This would be a game changer! But then… I got an email from the company saying that they wouldn’t be charging me any supplemental fee (there’s a buy-in for the first X amount of ARCS distributed, and then a charge for any additional copies requested), because barely anyone signed up for my book. They apologized and said my genre is one they’re still trying to grow. Still, I wound up with a small number of mostly positive reviews. One of these reviews was decently long and detailed, but most were only about a sentence or two long “good but kinda violent. 5 stars.” But none of this is what got me. What got me was the email a couple weeks later, when the ARC company contacted me again. They said that one part of their service is that reviewers can leave comments for the author, and they provided a list of these comments. There were only a few of them, but they all said the same thing: Something was wrong with my formatting. Every word with a double LL (spell, fall, etc) appeared with a single L (spel, fal, etc), and the page numbers from the print copy were appearing in the middle of these electronic ARC copies. One person was kind and said “hey great book, but you should know that it looks like something went wrong with the formatting when you uploaded this.” Another, though, was straight-up scathing. They refused to review my book because it was SO ERROR-LADEN and unprofessional that they could not get past the first three pages. They suggested that English may not be my first language. I was in shock. What were these people talking about?! The subpar proofreading I of course wasn’t surprised by, but did my book have missing Ls and weird spacing? Is this what EVERYONE had been seeing for the past year? I rushed to open my own Kindle copy, which looked totally fine (right?). And so far friends who had read their purchased copies and provided feedback had not mentioned anything this strange. But the Kindle copy was created by KPD. My ARC copies, though… well…

ARC Conversion: Being the naive little lamb that I was, my first attempts at soliciting ARC involved emailing people directly and offering a PDF copy. I thought I was being generous. But as it turns out, there are ebook file formats that most of these reviewers are expecting. A regular PDF generally doesn’t cut it. Some reviewers also only claimed to accept ARCs through certain ARC companies, so I wound up signing up for an extra couple services just for them. Any time you sign up for an ARC service, you have to upload in these specific file formats. It’s such a standard practice that I’m embarassed to have not known about them earlier. So I researched how to convert my book to these other formats, found a well-reviewed free program, downloaded it, processed my book, and wound up with my lovely new ebook copies to send out into the world. Did I check the end result? No! Of Course not! I had no idea how to open them! I just trusted that they’d be fine, and if spacing or something is a little off, nobody would care. After the recent negative email comments, I wondered if something had gone off with the uploads for just this company, since nobody else had mentioned these issues in previous reviews. This is when I finally went and realized I could just open and view the files in the conversion software itself, and sure enough, there in front of me, was my mangled manuscript. The manuscript that had waited an entire freaking year to be read by the BEST reviewers from the BEST service. Massive failure. What I’m still confused about, though, is why nobody had mentioned the formatting and LL thing to me before, given that these same copies were the ones I uploaded for other reviewers. Who knows. The world is a mystery. So lesson learned for next time: double-check the formatting before uploading ARCs. And find a different conversion software I guess?

Other Marketing: One early minefield I attempted to navigate, before hiring my marketer for that one consultation, was trying to find places that promote books. There are so many sharks out there waiting to pounce on us desperate wannabe authors that it’s tough to figure out which might or might not be legit. For example, I found a website that had a cover contest. Anyone could enter for free, and then anyone can go vote. I entered, and suggested that friends and family go vote for me. The contest runs every month. In week 1 all entrants appear, but only the top X amount of vote-getters (100?) make it to week 2. Then people keep voting, and only X amount (50?) make it to week 4. And so on. Seems harmless enough! And the competition was, frankly, very funny. There are a lot of ridiculous books and covers out there. What became clear VERY fast, however, was that voting was definitely not resulting in the best graphic design making it through. Nope, it’s all about the Benjamins. Once your book has received X amount of votes for free from non-members, any votes after that have to be cast by people who are members of the site. Meaning you have to create an account to vote. This now puts your name onto the website’s mailing list, and the website can claim to have Xgajillion followers. Except the supposed followers consist mostly of other desperate authors who joined to join the contest, and their most naive or apathetic friends. I couldn’t ask anyone to do that for me, and my book bowed out in round 2. I also paid to have my book reviewed on a site called Reedsy Discovery. Reedsy Discovery felt very legit, and it sort of is. It is connected to a site called Reedsy, which connects authors with publishing world professionals, just like Fiverr but more specialized. Cover designers, editors, marketers, etc. I think it’s where I found my marketing pro. They guarantee a review, but it remains on just their site (as opposed to posting on Amazon or Goodreads). It was my first review, I think, and it was absolutely glowing! I could use quotes from it on my Amazon page and website and attribute it to Reedsy Discovery instead of KittenTea1991 from Goodreads. This was another situation where people could vote on my book based on the review, and my book did well here. It floated to the front page of the website and stayed there for quite a while. It was also listed in the Reedsy Discovery weekly mailing list for recommended reads. Since all that happened, I started to suspect that Reedsy Discovery may have been very new at this point, and was trying to grow into a new Goodreads eqivalent. I’ve actually gained a bunch of followers on there. What’s very unclear is whether anyone there is actually reading the other books or going there to find good books, or whether it’s yet again just another circle jerk of desperate authors liking one another in hopes of being discovered.

One great experience DID come out of that Reedsy Discovery review, however. I don’t think it resulted in any book sales, but it was wonderful for my soul. A very nice man contacted me saying he’d read about my book on Reedsy and was wondering if he could interview me for his new podcast. I was so stoked! Discovered Wordsmiths has by now dropped over 60 episodes, but I was one of its very first subjects, featured in Episode 11. At the time I was approached, only the first couple had come out, and I ate them right up. The premise is simple. According to their website, “Discovered Wordsmith is a podcast dedicated to chatting with new and aspiring authors. They may not be household names, but they have put in the work and have their first steps on the author career path.” The host Stephen reasoned that the vast majority of authors never become bestsellers, but still have a love and passion for their craft. He provided a platform for us to share our struggles and lessons learned and get some exposure early on. Is anyone listening to this podcast besides Stephen’s friends and the other featured authors? I have no idea. I know I made no sales. But I do know that I felt a lot better about just how lost I felt about everything after listening to other people’s experiences. And Stephen was just such a nice and talented interviewer that I really enjoyed the experience.

I think that covers the List of Shame, which contains plenty of procedural lessons learned.

But what have I learned about myself as an author, and about my book?

First off, I’ve been devouring each and every review I’ve received. And the main issue I’ve been struggling with is the fact that most people have expectations of what they think my book should be. And I’m still trying to figure out what to do with this information, and whether I should care. I guess let’s start with genre. As I started marketing, I had to select a genre at virtually every turn. This would determine how the book gets categorized on Amazon or Goodreads, which mailing lists would accept it, who would read an ARC copy, etc. I really struggled to assign a genre. The closest I could come up with was Fantasy, but… that doesn’t seem quite right to me. There are no fantastical elements in this book; no magic, no dragons, nothing. The book is in a faux medeival setting, and I guess that’s all that really is needed for something to count. Within Fantasy, there are some subgenres that seem to fit a bit closer. Swordplay and Sorcery was one of them. On Goodreads I could add my book to lists with names like A Girl and her Sword or A Girl with an Animal Sidekick And a Sword. But as soon as a book gets assigned a genre, there are expectations placed on it. The idea is that, once you’re locked into a genre, you want to do everything in your power to make your book fit in so that the already-primed audience will add your book to their list. Look at every fantasy novel out there, and the covers all look the same. Yet none of those cover match the feel I was trying to capture with my book. My husband made an early critique that I need to spend more time describing the landscapes, because that’s what most fantasy novels do, because they lean so heavily into defining their fantasy world. But I as a reader don’t like reading long boring descriptions of fantasy worlds (that all sound the damn same). It’s part of why I don’t really read fantasy novels. I was reading the book that I, and people like me, would want to read. If people like me stay away from fantasy novels because they contain elements we don’t like, and then I market myself as a fantasy author, the exact readers I am hoping to capture will stay away.

The larger issue I’ve seen come up again and again, though, was the idea that my book is meant for young readers. I’ve heard this comment again and again and again. It came up when I was working with my cover artist, whose first draft featured a cute little barefoot child skipping along happily. She altered the design after I clarified that Hope is a badass warrior teenager, and please give her shoes and knives. My podcast interviewer asked how I’m reaching out to young readers since that seems to be my target audience, and I was caught offguard. “That’s not the intent,” I think I mumbled. “It’s definitely for adults.” This seemed to catch HIM off guard. It’s come up again and again in people’s reviews, which tend to start with something like, “Wow, what a pleasant surprise! I thought this was for my preschooler, but I was totally wrong! But I’m glad I picked it up because I love it!” I’ve received critiques, largely from people who chose to not leave a public review, that the book is too violent or contains too much adult subject matter for a YA novel. The Mac-Daddy-Failure-ARC-Service was particularly heavy on criticizing violence with the “good but really violent” style reviews. I went back in to the dashboard on that one to see if I had marked it as YA, but I had not. In fact, I had checked YES on the checkmark for “Does this book contain sexual or graphic violence or other disturbing content?” Early on I always made sure the trigger-warning-equivalent was marked anywhere where it was needed, and friends and family shrugged and said “I don’t think you really need that. It’s not that bad.” So…

Why does everyone think that a book about a fighter would be kid-friendly? Here’s some text from the blurb: “When tragedy strikes their peaceful household, Hope must learn to fend for herself — even if it means taking up the blade. But girls can’t fight… Or can they? Follow the Little Fox as she develops her combat skills.” Tragedy strikes. The blade. Combat skills. What tragedy would strike that would require someone to arm themselves? Probably a pretty violent one, right? It’s not like “When Hope’s mom got laid off and her dadd passed away from pneumonia, Hope had to learn to cut a bitch.” Fighting is violent. Fighting is violent! FIGHTING. IS. VIOLENT. There are DAGGERS on the cover, for fuck’s sake! And who sees b/w gothic line art and thinks “Oh cute! I’ll put this in the nursery?”

And yet, I can’t be dismissive here, because the observation is so prevalant that clearly, at some point, I have completely failed in my ability to convey an idea. I have done something wrong. And I need to figure it out.

It’s been suggested to me that part of the problem is my title. Hope the Little Fox. I don’t think my problem is “Name the _____.” The first things that come to my mind are badasses. Vlad the Impaler. William the Conqueror. Catherine the Great. John the Baptist. Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Alexander the Great. Not exactly kid-friendly fare. So I guess we look at Little Fox. Do animal names make things less serious? My mind goes to Jack London’s salty abusive captain The Sea Wolf. Action movies are full of animal-themed badasses: Wolverine, Batman, Catwoman, Spiderman, Sabretooth, Black Widow, Black Panther, Hawkeye, Falcon, and so on. So that just leaves one word: Little. Vlad the Little Impaler. Catherine the Little Spider. Captain America the Little Falcon. Wolverine the Little Baptist.

Huh. Okay, I’ll admit the word Little seems to diminish the badassery somewhat. So I just looked on Goodreads for books with “Little” in the title. I got some kids’ classics: The Little Prince, Little House on the Prairie, The True Story of the Three Little Pigs, The Little Engine That Could, and Stuart Little. But I also got Big Little Liars, Little Fires Everywhere, and A Little Life (whose blurb says that it “goes into some of the darkest places fiction has ever traveled.”) So it’s not just the word Little that does it, but we seem to be on to something. From the listed titles, it feels like combining the word Little with a child (or animal? or train?) protagonist might be the key? We of course know it’s not JUST the idea of a child protagonist that would qualify something as a kids’ book, right? Nobody is showing the movie Sleepers at the 5th grade slumber parties, or reading their toddler Angela’s Ashes at bedtime. But maybe Angela the Little Sleeper sounds kinda sweet and fun?

Final Thoughts

At this moment, I am so very, very close to finishing up my rought draft of the sequel (just half a chapter to go!). Which means I’m terrifyingly close to going through all this madness again. There are some areas where it’s pretty obvious what I need to chage on this next go around. But there are others where I’m still just completely at a loss. I also know that there will likely be some new issue this time around that I never even dreamed of before. One thing I’m dreading is the research I’m about to have to do about sailing and other nautical themes. Spoiler alert: Hope winds up on a ship this time around, and to move things along as I was writing, I left big placeholders in my text wherever I had to actually talk about the ship itself. The all-caps phrase INSERTNAUTICALTERMHERE is all over the place, and I just know that in my research I’m going to find out that something I’ve written up just plain won’t work. So that will be fun. I’m also going to learn (I’m guessing after the fact) how differently everything needs to be approached when publishing a series. And hopefully this time around I can get into some local book fairs or other in-erson events, something that was not possible when I launched Hope the Little Fox in the midst of a global pandemic. Lord knows what headaches and mysteries lie ahead. But at least this time I’ll know to check the formatting on my ARC copies.

Anyhoo… stay tuned for my upcoming novel Hope the Daring Fox, coming to a self-publisher near year!


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