I started self-publishing in September 2015. At first, I posted stories I’d written years ago. Then I started writing and posting new stuff.
Fast forward six months. Two novels and half a dozen shorter pieces are out on Amazon. My writing and I have done a lot of maturing. We’re not quite as sophomoric, hyperbolic, melodromatic, or other ic(k)s.
Why the change? Of course, practice. The more you write, the better you should be getting. True of so many things. There’s more to the story, though.
The first few months of self-publishing, it was me on an island. I had no idea there even was an indie community. Although I had no reviews of my work, the short stories were selling decently on Amazon, so I figured, go girl, go!
Then I started writing a new piece, intended to be a 30K word novella. When it passed 50K words, I knew I needed help. How to find it, though? I’m decent at using the search button, and searched my way to the Beta Readers group on Goodreads. (I didn’t even know the term “beta reader” until that moment.)
It doesn’t matter whether you’re following the traditional publishing route or going down into the seven circles of hell that is self-publishing, you will be doing yourself a million favours if you find great beta readers and make use of them.
YES. THAT. YES.
I lucked out with some fantastic beta readers, including the talented, prolific, generous, how-does-she-get-so-much-done-is-she-super-human Emma Jaye. She beta read my work in process, shared tips for self-promotion, recommended cover creators, and when I offered to beta read in return, I re-learned what so many parents despair of teaching their kids – sharing with others means everyone wins. Returning the favor satisfied something inside me hungry for a sense of community.
Which led to seeking out ways to engage further, and discovering the wide world of indie self-publishing, and the many genre-specific sub-communities. Shout out of thanks to The Erotic Literature Appreciation Society, Writer’s Question Cave, the Goodreads groups Review Group, Beta Reader Group, and Erotica After Dark. Adrea, Charlene, Emma, Emmanuelle, Leonora, Mike, Richard, Spencer, TAS…Thank you.
I’ve found the indie/self-published community supportive, welcoming, willing to share their lessons learned and best practices. Their welcome has caught me in its virtuous cycle, created a need to participate and be part of the conversation.
My fiction writing has slowed down as I’ve invested time in all this learning, but, you know…It was learning I needed to do. My writing is becoming better informed because I’ve followed links to articles and posts about every aspect of the craft, from writing dialogue to engaging with readers. That’s not the path for everyone, certainly, but I’m a joiner. Others want to – need to – write. Full stop.
It’s ALL good. Whatever works for you. For me, the satisfaction of being engaged makes writing more exciting. Feedback on past manuscripts helps me get better with every story. For example, once upon a time this post would have been littered with exclamation marks (thank you, Emma). Using fewer in the first place cuts down on my time spent with search-and-replace.
So, long post even longer, thank you to the supportive community I’ve stumbled my way into. Because of your generosity of spirit, your willingness to share your time, expertise, encouragement, enthusiasm, and really cool links, your nurturing and caring, I’ve had the courage to respond to calls for submission, to memes and writing prompts like Spank Bank (for Wicked Wednesday #199).
I’m giddily thrilled that Marie picked Spank Bank as one of the top 3. Having someone else say, “I read what you wrote, and I enjoyed it” makes my day every.damn.time. And every time, I rush out to read what others have written and leave a comment because I want to share that same warm sense of belonging.
Thus the virtuous cycle continues. Who knew writing erotica could build such a sense of virtue?
Are you participating in a writing community? What has it meant to you?