Writer's Journal

Rule Makers of the Publishing World – To Listen or Not

A few days ago, I thought the book I’m now writing would be my last. Why? Because I had reached the middle. Looking back on my writing over the years, I remember how I hit that doubt point with every single book I wrote, except for my first.

With the first, I wasn’t considering if it was good enough or if I was “following” the rules…

So what are those rules anyway? Things established by people who are writers, editors, publishers. Sometimes these rules get too stringent and too literal. A writer can get caught up in trying to be “perfect” while the popular best sellers don’t adhere to these rules at all. We are told it’s because they have already established a name for themselves with readers.

My argument is this. If they established a name for themselves with not following the rules, why don’t we do the same? As I’ve matured, I learned to stop listening to the rule makers of the publishing world. Doing so can cause a writer to lose their voice and become one of the masses.

I don’t want to be one of the masses. I am an individual. That’s how God created me. I want every book to bring hope to a broken world and to honor Him in doing so. If I become a “established a name” author, it won’t be because my work is “perfect.” It will be because what I write is pleasing to God and He deigns it to be so.

Author's Life

And Then There Were Websites

And then there were websites…what a crazy title, right? Let me lead you through why I chose this title.

I am a do it yourself woman, self-taught in everything since graduating high school. During some tight years financially, I purchased a green IBM Selectric typewriter. You might know it’s the one with the little ball that spins to type the letters. At the time, I was working at a university for a non-profit organization. I placed an ad in the college newspaper offering my services to type dissertations, theses, and term papers. That led to some long hours after my family was asleep to complete these papers for my clients. I had only taken personal typing in high school so I taught myself to type, practicing until I was tested at 100 to 120 words per minute when applying for jobs.

After the organization I worked for moved to another state, I had to find another job. I ended up in a position that gave me the opportunity to learn how to use the first Apple computer. Wow, what a difference from the magnetic card contraptions myself and three other women were using. This eventually led to the company upgrading to a universal computer system. I was a fast learner and one who would help whether it was my job or not. Yes, this led to several promotions, the last being Sales Administration Manager at a time the first laptops became tools for our sales force. You got it, I learned how to use that tool as well.

When I retired, I had a lot of knowledge about computers. My husband said I should have been a man because of my love of technology and how I wasn’t afraid to tackle adding memory or changing a hard drive. And this is how my writing career began. I left my position when the company was on the verge of merging with another and took a job in a telecommunications company. Only a few short months later, we lost a huge contract and everyone but a handful were let go. I was one who remained. Four years later, the company ran into trouble again and I was blindsided by being terminated from my position of Reporting Manager to the Vice President.

And that launched my desire to pursue a lifelong passion to write. I looked for another job but, I was turned down on offers because I was over-qualified. During my first ever time of not working, I took several online creative writing courses and began my first novel. A publisher gave me a contract for that book after many revisions. The second followed a year later along with a novelette being published in an anthology. I began to be uncomfortable following the guidelines for romance novels at that time in history, so I began my third novel but in a Christian worldview. I was handed over to a Christian publishing house and that book did very well.

Then came the big indie publishing evolution. I’d already learned a lot about the publishing world, so I decided to branch out. I was able to get back the rights to all my published books. One of them is still in publication on Amazon, Joshua’s Hope. It’s the first one I wrote in the new genre. Being on the self-publishing path, I was looked down on by members of the writing group I belonged to which was part of the RWA. I severed my ties and kept marching to the beat of a different drum.

And them there were websites. I knew I needed a website and a way to interest people in my books. So I learned how to do this myself. I’m not a professional. I cannot create a website like the authors who can afford to pay others to do the work for them. But I was savvy enough to set up a website on WordPress by using the free templates offered. Sometimes I get frustrated because I can’t find a template that allows me to do what I envision. It’s time-consuming to work on and occasionally I screw things up, but I have perseverance. I have a blog on my website and I am being faithful to post two to three times a week. I’m honest about myself and who I am. I’ve set up a presence on Facebook, but honestly, I’m not a marketing guru. Yes, some pay for that benefit.

Many might wonder why I continue pursuing a career in writing now that I’m a 79-year-old widow. The honest answer is “I love to write!” I love the feel of my fingers on the keyboard and watching the words in my mind flow onto the screen. I love the technology, the writing programs…everything about the writing process.

I look back to the typewriter generation and how I’ve evolved. I was typing dissertations for others one day and then there were websites.