Word seventy one thousand, five hundred and sixty six - finished.
I HAVE FINISHED - FINISHED - FINISHED - FINISHED!!!!!
What do I do now?
I didn't realise at the time but I thought I had done all the hard work and that was that. I would surely soon be in the middle of a bidding war between publishers and Steven Spielberg would beg me for the film rights.
I was so certain - it seems funny now - but I was excited and sure this would be it, the new best seller (having said that, I still believe it. I am just going about things in a different way.)
The first thing I needed was proofreading and my wonderful friend Penny stepped in to help me. She reworded paragraphs and found my silly mistakes - I have real trouble with past and passed grrrr.
I then bought a program called Pro Writing Aid.
It cost about $40 a year but I found it useful - it will do the obvious things, check spellings etc, but it also helps with grammar issues like sticky sentences, passive words and repeated sentence starts. It tells you if a sentence is too long or hard to understand and even suggests better words to use. I think it improved my drafts no end. (ps I am not on commission, but if Pro Writing Aid would like to consider a years free membership .........)
I then edited my manuscript 4 more times, and it was ready to go into the big bad world.
Armed with my copy of Writers and Artist Year Book 2016, I highlighted the agents who thought would help and sent them my book by email, which is a lot easier than through the post.
As a career Civil Servant I then had to create a spread sheet that turned various colours if a reply was overdue etc to record all my enquiries.
I wasn't offered a big money contract or even a small money one, there was no bidding war and the rejections came in thick and fast.
I used to watch the X Factor and in the early series they would concentrate on people who thought, with all their hearts, they could sing, but in reality were completely out of tune. I questioned myself, could I write, did I have a good story or was I just fooling myself like an X Factor contestant? I still don't know the answer and won't until the book comes out, but I did feel a little down.
It was then I discovered the world of the independent author.
I have to say, I thought if you didn't get a publishing deal you were a failure and people who self publish just wanted a book or two for family and friends. I was way behind the times; you can upload books to Kindle quickly and there are no longer any costly print runs with Createspace and Ingram Spark printing on demand. While it may take years to publish conventionally, you are looking at months as an indie author. Royalties are also much higher. I hadn't realised that being an indie author meant employing others as well to do the things you can't - and I outsourced cover design, formatting and editing to get the most professional product I could.
The problem I found was rather than there being too little information available, there was too much. Where do you start?
There will be more about that in my blog, but one thing I wished I had done before deciding on which professionals to use was to join The Alliance of Independant Authors. As fortune has it I chose excellent people with great reputations, but it was sheer luck. The Alliance has loads of information, free books, an area for vetted professionals, lots of discounts and a Facebook forum, which has been very useful.
I will be honest, if you join the Alliance by going through the link below I get 30% off my next year's membership. But if you are joining anyway why not help me? You can then put the link on your own website.
It cost $75 a year if you haven't published a book and $99 if you have. It may sound a little steep but I think it's well worth it.
As for the rest of my discoveries, more about them in future blogs.