At every convention I go to, I am asked the same question by at least ten people, “How did you get started?”
I have answered this question many times, but at conventions, I don’t really have much time to actually go into detail. So, I figure I would expand a little bit more and share more of myself that people don’t actually know.
I started writing multiple times, from when I was a young kid, throughout high school, and well after I graduated. I would start a story, get about five to ten pages into a story and then I would walk away, never to return to it. I never get past page 20. Until I had found myself in my second year at Weber State University.
Now, I was never a really good student, and I had recently had a life changing experience, so, I was lost. I was trying to figure out who I was. I was only just over twenty-years-old, I wanted to do something significant in my life, but never finding my niche in life. I was struggling socially, since most of my friends were gone and away at school or other reasons. I was never a social individual, never into bar scenes, didn’t participate in any of the local church stuff, and I didn’t just head out to public events. I was sort of more to myself than anything.
So, in between classes, I found a lot of time on my hands, probably when I should have been studying, and I started to think and write a story. A Campfire Nightmare originally had been a short story, a small idea that would never have seen the light of day, but then I started to add chapter after chapter, trying working through Jimmy and his friends. Creating a social life that I never had, somewhat placing what I wish I could have and could have been cool into my characters.
Finally, after several years of writing Nightmare, I wrote the cliché “The End”.
As soon as I wrote it, I stared at my computer screen and said, “…Now what?”. What was I supposed to do with this? Here was a story that was over a couple hundred pages, a piece of me, and, yet, no one would read it. But, I felt like I couldn’t let that stand. I needed to get people to read it. I needed to get feedback. I needed people to know the adventures of James Downs and his friends at the greatest camp in the world, in my favorite place in the world.
I began bugging friends about reading it. Most of them had listened to me talk about this story about half a million times and they gave me the encouragement that they would read it when I was done, but I think they were really shocked with I began handing out printed out copies of the book and usb drives with copies of it. Thankfully, I had awesome friends who, even though they lived so far away, would read my unedited, terrible grammar and rough story and give me feedback.
When I started getting real feedback, I tweaked and modified and began sending out query letters and pieces of manuscripts.
Then the rejection letters began pouring in.
For those who knew me, I was very sensitive. I took every rejection letter personally. It hurt so bad. Here I put faith in this book of mine and other people rejected this piece of me, telling me it wasn’t good enough for them. So, Campfire went on the shelf.
After a couple more years, I ran into the Winner Twins; a pair of sisters who wrote sci-fi together. I sat in a panel of their as Salt Lake City Comic Con, where they discussed Independent Publishing.
It was incredible. No more rejection letters, I have control over what I do, and I get to deal with my novel my way.
Boy, was I not fully ready for what it really called for.
For those who are going into Independent Publishing, realize that you are also responsible for the financial side. This is not to scare you away, it just means you need to be ready to pay for what you want and manage accounts.
Independent authors need:
Each of these will cost money, and make you appreciate your novel even more because now you are really going for your dream.
After my first book was published, I was shocked that I did it. I didn’t know what I was supposed to do next. It wasn’t until months down the line that I found out that I should be doing conventions or placing my books in stores. I actually had to present myself in front of people and let them judge me to my face!
That was horrifying, and so scary that I considered dropping it. I didn’t want to do that. I actually had to drag people to my booth, talk to them, present my work and myself to them… but I decided I needed to try.
I was hooked after day 1 of SLCC 2016.
I knew what I was supposed to in my life. I was an author, and that’s what I wanted to do with my life.