Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Contemplating, Reassessing, and Regrouping

A Review of What I Did:
Writing, Revising & Publishing
Easy enough. o_O

On September 15, I published my fourth story since I started my self-publishing journey in July 2013.

This was my sixth published book (the first two were written for Dutton) and it was my seventh completed manuscript (that first one, an amateur sleuth, may see the light of day if I can ever figure out the hook!).

This post is about what I learned this time around in terms of writing, revising, and publishing.

This was one of three books I fast-wrote in July. I wrote approximately 40,000 words in about three weeks, even while on a 10-day vacation. I've never done this method before, but so far, so good. 

Why I liked the new way I was writing:

-I would sit down and know I was just writing down words that were going to get better one day. Not then, just one day. And so I wrote. Sometimes, I would hit my daily goal of 2,500 words in one hour.

-I had joined the Twitter check-in. A new one starts today, in fact (follow at #OctWritingChallenge). To get on the roll call list, you just need to write 500 words for the day or put in an hour of revision. For me, it wasn't about being on the roll call, though. I enjoyed being accountable with fellow Suffering Writers who were also too tired, too busy, and too everything to write. And yet, we did, and cheered each other along as we did.

-I would check in to Twitter every 15 minutes with word count, or occasionally with a "Crap. Had to do laundry. 15 minutes I'll never get back." Fellow challengers would commiserate. It was nice to get feedback from familiar names.

-By the time I got back to the story that came out September 15 (Bad Mom Rents a Man: Glampfest!), three weeks had passed. I definitely had new eyes for the story. I had never really had that before, because I was always impatient to start on the next draft. But instead of starting Draft 2 straightaway, I started the next story, and the next. 

-After the last story (Bad Mom Rents a Man: Mother's Day), I had taken down notes about how I revised and where I had done what on the last story. This time, I tweaked when I did what. For instance, this time, I broke out the story into Four Acts to see if I had all I needed in Draft 3. Usually, though, I wait until Draft 7 to do this, and that's too late, or as I like to call it, "Shooting Myself in the Darn Foot" too late. If you wait too long to do the big stuff you need to do, you might be too revision-weary and think "Eh, good enough." You don't get this way during Draft 3.

-This time around, I had also taken down how long I had spent on each draft of the story. So far, for this current story, this isn't helping to push me to beat my own time, but it's good to see that, no, I'm not being a slacker by taking so long on a certain section or that I'm losing my determination because I started dragging my feet at a certain part in Draft 5. Looking at my past notes, I see that I did the same thing during the last story and, yes, I got through it!

-For the start of this next story (Story #2 in my writing spree from last July), I've looked at my revision question list and added to it and took away the parts I didn't use last time. I don't do the typical outline or synopsis because that doesn't help me. Instead, I fill out a questionnaire of sorts (there are eight pages just for plot stuff--the characterization questionnaire is another four pages!). There are so many things to remember when writing a story, these lists help.

Here are some of those open-ended questions:

__The protagonist's goal reveals the theme of the novel:

__Reaching this goal changes the protagonist AND other characters:

__Biggest obstacle preventing protagonist from goal:

__Protagonist is pushed to despair and hopelessness before climax due to obstacle:

This is the part that's getting easier, mainly because I don't have out-of-this-world goals for myself. Right now, I'm a small-business owner who's stocking her store. I have four products on the shelf. Well, eight if you include ebooks and print books (I don't count my traditionally published books since those are under another name). These products, at the moment, are only on Amazon. 

My only goal right now? To make enough income each month:
  1) to pay my Adobe Creative Cloud subscription so I can keep designing covers and promo graphics with Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop.
  2) to pay for a monthly contest giveaway for my newsletter readers.

And yes, I'm meeting that small, pragmatic goal.

So when I publish (which I do on Scrivener for Amazon's mobi format--easiest tool ever!), I then:
--Announce on my private Facebook (657 friends)
--Announce on my Sydney Strand public page (158 friends)
--Announce on Twitter (256 friends)
--Announce on Instagram (52 friends)
--Announce on private Pinterest account (104 followers)
--Announce on Sydney Strand Pinterest account (34 followers)
--Announce in monthly newsletter (121 subscribers)
--Announce on Goodreads via a blog entry (31 friends)

These are very modest numbers (some immodest), but in all, about 1400 people (with some crossover, but not much).

Not bad for kindasorta trying to increase my social presence but mainly trying to write, write, write (the only way to have written AND revised 145,000 words since July 2013). I also make sure I have quality lists, and I weed through my Instagram and Twitter accounts so no one's following me just to boost their numbers.

This month, I'm also planning:
--to have a $.99 Book Gorilla sale for my novel His Favorite Regret over Columbus Day weekend, so here's to that giving some visibility and some new readers. 
--to create a print version of Bad Mom Rents a Man: Glampfest! I have print versions for all my books to help gain reviews and, yes, readers!

And during this month, I also plan to finish Book #5. 

Then, I will have 175,000 words written and revised since July 2013, when I started to take this self-publishing journey.

And just because I love funny things, here's an ender for you that has nothing to do with anything:


How about you, dearest reader? What have you learned from your mistakes as a writer, reviser, and/or publisher?

Until next time...

P.S. To leave a comment, Blogger isn't very clear about what to click. So let me help! Click on "Comments," which is between the time stamp and the envelope image below.


  1. Great post, Sydney! Two standouts for me:

    #1 - Writers must let the manuscript rest between creation and revision. I always tuck the little beasts away for 3-4 weeks. Fresh eyes are crucial for edits in catching both the bad and brilliant. :-)

    #2 The concept of getting "revision-weary". Excellent observation! There's only so much writers can do before we hit a wall. Getting those big picture things taken care of first is key.

    1. Shelley--I'm just glad that, after 10 YEARS of writing for publication, I'm growing some patience! ;o)


  2. Love hearing about your process. Those are hefty goals, but definitely seems to be working for you. Looking forward to reading some playful antics involving Glamping. Makes me smile just thinking about your title. Way to go on meeting your goals and you are an inspiration!

    1. Susan--Totally hefty goals, but I just keep on chippin' away and don't beat myself up if a deadline is a few weeks off. Talk about BREAK-THROUGHHHHH (sung in a high falsetto).

      And I so do like trying to make y'all smile. ;o)



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