Finishing My First Book
As with many things, the devil was in the details
In Writing the Journey, I write about writing. I share my travel and personal experiences through writing in a lot of contexts, but I also strive to achieve more as a writer. This is where I reflect on that process.
I have a bad habit of not finishing big projects.
It took me a full year to remove wallpaper and repair walls in our Fort Wayne living room because every time I started it, I got overwhelmed.
We’ve installed flooring multiple times and have left trim unfinished for months because of fear of not properly measuring it and making the final product look good.
When I clean the house, I put that last pile of junk into the guest bedroom because I just don’t know what to do with it.
I love the finished product but struggle with the final finishing touches because I get frozen by my inability to produce a perfect final product, so why finish it? This is especially true when I encounter a roadblock because of something that is either out of my control or something that I don’t know how to do myself. This reality hit home as I worked on the detail work of self-publishing. I had my editor’s notes and my cover design in hand, so I had no reason to not finish the project.
But before I could upload my book to Amazon and list it for sale, I had two important final touches to complete: book formatting and cover creation.
I was so excited to get my edited draft back, but it came with even more decisions to make throughout the text. At one point she wrote me to ask how much revision I wanted her to do, and I honestly answered, “only what is necessary.” I felt good about what I had written, and I knew that any more suggestions would have me changing even more of the book and I didn't want to do that. I had finally accepted that I wouldn’t be able to say everything I wanted to say in a single book; I could work on the manuscript for another year, and it wouldn’t be “perfect” enough. Instead, I was ready to address the editing notes and format as I did so.
The truth is, I discovered a lot about the tools available on Word for anyone doing more than simple word processing. First, I was having problems deleting page numbers that I didn’t want included at the top of introduction pages and dividers. I finally resorted to Google and YouTube to solve that problem.
Then I was having problems with section breaks that I couldn’t delete which also made it difficult to format the page numbers the way I wanted them. Again, Google came to my rescue as I continued to gain formatting skills that I didn’t know I needed.
I spent several hours changing font sizes, spacing, margins, and everything in-between while also addressing the editing notes from my editor, but I finally got through all of the necessary changes.
Probably the most crushing reality as I went through edits and formatted my text and pages was the realization that the book was going to be slightly shorter than I had initially hoped, but I also spent a lot of time playing with the font-size to get it just right and still feel really good about the final written product.
I had an idea, but no idea how to execute it. I knew I wanted to use a picture that I had taken over the last couple of years and turn it into an artistic graphic, but Canva tools weren’t giving me the look that I really wanted. I asked a friend who is both a high school art teacher and graphic designer, to turn my photo into a watercolor. I thought he was just going to do some Photoshop magic and get it back to me in a few hours. Instead, he took my photograph and created a watercolor by hand, turning in a beautiful photo that I then plugged into Canva to create the cover that I actually wanted.
I had my graphic, but I was completely lost about how to get the cover template that I needed to create my cover. Again, YouTube came to the rescue.
Once I finished watching the video, I figured out how to get the template for both the paperback and hardcover downloaded, overlayed them on top of my design on Canva, and spent far too much time making the cover look as perfect as possible. The finishing touch was the addition of the blurb for the book, for which I enlisted the help of another writing friend who turned my initial thoughts into the blurb you can now see on Amazon.
Upload It All
I had to save far too many copies as I kept making changes, but I finally uploaded the Word Doc for the ebook and the PDF for the paperback and hardcover. I uploaded three different covers for the ebook, paperback, and hardcover. The whole process didn’t go as smoothly as I hoped, but when it was finally done, it felt great. Now I’m waiting for the proof copies for both the paperback and hardcover to arrive in the next couple of weeks.
The truth is that during this whole process, the former Yearbook adviser in me came out and I remembered just how much I loved design. It was tedious and I spent far too much time figuring out how to do this all for the first time, but there is also something incredibly satisfying about doing this on my own and making it the book and design that I want. I can’t wait for people to read it.
Want to Pre-order?
You can pre-order the e-book for the Kindle on Amazon. It will also be available on Kindle Unlimited. The paperback copy of the book is not available for pre-order but will be available for purchase on February 14.
And if you do purchase, please give it a favorable review on Amazon and Goodreads, or any other reading app that you might use.
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There were plenty of punctuation notes (just because I’m an English teacher does not mean that I am great at properly punctuating complex sentences) and decisions to be made about the little things that only a few people (like us) pay attention to, such as when to write out numbers and when to use numerics.
There was a scary finality to having everything uploaded and posted. I know that I have time to make changes before the February 14 publication date, but there’s no backing out now. I’ve put it out there into the world.