The Process

My debut novel is at the brink of release. I ordered my second proof copy yesterday and expect that Embers at Dawn is ready to meet its audience once I’ve looked it over one last time.

I’m not going to tell you it was easy. It’s been a long, meandering road…

The project of writing a book didn’t truly kick off until a friend of mine, Isabell Lorentzen, gave me the book How to write any book in 28 days by Nick Daws. It took me more than 28 days to write a book. To be more precise: the first draft took me roughly six months to write. The entire process has taken me almost three years.

Daws’s book gave me a kick in the butt and provided valuable information on how to write a book. It was never my intention to produce a completed body of work in less than a month, but a book-length text became more manageable after learning about how to plan it and how to find time to write.

The first draft was the easy part… And the hard part. I had my story jotted down, it was right there, but that’s just it: it was jotted down. I had a lot of polishing ahead of me.

I went over the first draft for the first time a month or two after completion. I was surprised to find that I had written a first draft that needed very little editing. Then I left it alone for about six months, while writing the first draft of the second book in the 9 Lives series. When I picked it up again, I realized that writing another book had improved my writing skills and that the manuscript needed a lot more work.

At that point I had no idea how many times I would go over the manuscript. The mere thought of poring over the same words over and over again bored me to bits. I have come a long way since then … I don’t hold that thought no more.

Isabell, my writer friend who gave me the Daws book, started writing her own book at about the same time as I started writing mine. We read each others work right from the outset. I’d send her a new chapter as soon as it was done, and she’d do the same. It was good to have someone close who was in the same situation as myself during the early stages of the manuscript. We’d give each other constructive criticism, but even more importantly: we’d show enthusiasm for each others work.

Many drafts later it was time to find beta readers. I’m fortunate enough to know a fair few, all right, I’ll be honest: nerds, who are well acquainted with everything from language to shooting irons. It was scary to allow new people to read my manuscript, but it was something I had to face sooner or later. I consulted their feedback, integrated what I agreed with into the text and kept on editing.

Because I know all these nerds who excel in their fields of knowledge I decided to not hire a professional editor. I know, against the advice of every self publishing guide out there, but I’m confident it was money well saved. I did, however, spend money on proofreading.

As I have mentioned in a previous post: I went for Scribendi. I did not regret it. The feedback I got was beyond anything I expected, or even dared to hope for. This is not meant as an advertisement for Scribendi, but I couldn’t be happier with the work that was done. They had clearly hand-picked a proofreader who is familiar with the genre. The manuscript that was returned to me had been formatted to perfection and was chock-full of valuable feedback and comments. Of course, grammatical errors and punctuation issues had been dealt with too.

The book was almost done, but I still had more work ahead of me in the formatting department. Formatting the book to get published as a paperback through CreateSpace has been somewhat tedious, but not very difficult. I’d advise anyone formatting a book to consult guides on how to format. It’s incredibly easy to not take notice of details that makes a world of difference, if you want a product that looks professional. As I mentioned earlier: I have ordered my second proof copy. I didn’t order that second copy because the first was perfect.

Having pretty much declared the paper version of the book done, I started looking at formatting the book for Kindle. I don’t know how many times I’ve read about how easy it is, but I give up. I’m going to pay the professionals at CreateSpace to do it for me. It’s not very expensive and I want to be certain that the book looks good on all reading devices.

I can think of only one element in the publishing process more vexing than formatting: dealing with the tax issue. I decided to get an EIN. Reading about how much time and effort some people have spent obtaining an ITIN; it was an easy decision to get an EIN. As far as I’ve been able to research, there are no drawbacks about choosing an EIN, rather than an ITIN.

Obtaining an EIN is fairly easy. I simply called IRS, talked to a woman for about 15 minutes and at the end of the conversation I had my EIN, ready to be used immediately. The conversation consisted for the most part of me spelling my name and address, and her reading it back to me. I waited 50 minutes to get through, but I called on one of the first days IRS was open again after the government shutdown.

Once I had my EIN, I filled out the W-8BEN form and mailed it to CreateSpace. I later filled out the same form online. If I’m not mistaken, I came across it on my KDP page and figured it could do no harm to fill it out there too. Shortly after, I received an email from Amazon that stated that my withholding rate had been set to 0%.

I considered pursuing the traditional route of agents and publishing houses, but after a lot of research and serious consideration, I found it exceedingly easy to choose the self publishing trail.

I like the control I have with self publishing. The fact that I’ll get paid more per book than in traditional publishing is not a dazzling lure, but a good sales point. However, I must admit: if a publishing house at some point shows interest in my work and offers me a reasonable deal, I might not decline.

Yup, that’s about it. Only one thing left to do: get the son of a bitch goddamned published.

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