Sunday, December 23, 2012

Guest Post: A Newbie's Journey into Self-Publishing by Martin Rouillard

A Newbie’s Journey into Self-Publishing

Author Martin Rouillard opens about his journey into self-publishing his debut novel, Rise of the Red Dragon.

Writing a book is like embarking on a great adventure. There is a lot of adversity, followed by moments of absolute joy. There are tearful nights and mornings of inspirational bliss (usually accompanied by lots and lot of coffee)! However, if you lived through it and reach your goal, the reward will be unlike any other, and you will learn a great deal about yourself along the way.

Here are some of the things I learned about myself when I wrote my debut novel, Rise of the Red Dragon.

Patience. When I first set out to write a book, I had a plan. I had an idea, a plot, an ending, and a few characters. My head was packed with obstacles for my lead and many possible solutions. I had thought: this is going to be easy. I’ll be done in no time. However, I quickly learned it is not that simple Picturing your story in your head is one thing, writing 350 pages with it is a totally different ballgame. Suddenly, you realize a dialogue you had in your head was actually only two sentences. It won’t be enough. Suddenly, you also realize that the obstacles you cleverly devised cannot magically appear on the road to your dramatic conclusion. You need some back story and a buildup. Suddenly, you realize you did not have a book at all in your head, but merely an idea.

Writing a book is almost like taming a wild horse, I imagine. Your mind wants to go fast and run in every direction. You have to be patient and keep it in check. Of course, you look forward to writing that page where you reveal who the killer is, but you need the first 300 pages before you can get there. You have to take your time with the details and the small things. You need to build your characters so the reader can relate to them. You need to set up the mystery slowly, delicately and consistently. All these things take time. It’s like building a house. We all love the part where we pick the furniture and the décor, but first, we need to dig a hole and work with concrete, wood, and drywalls.

I Was Not a Very Skilled Writer. You read that correctly. The second thing I learned when I wrote my novel, Rise of the Red Dragon, was that I was not particularly good at it, initially anyway. After I realized I had to develop my idea into a full book, I panicked. This was not what I had in mind. I had no clue about developing a plot and breathing life in my characters. Show me DON’T tell me?! What does THAT even mean?! HELP!
Admitting I was not good at something I genuinely wanted to do was hard. I don’t think I was horrible. I just did not think I was good enough. So I read every book about writing I could find. I joined an author’s group and asked many questions, followed all the discussions and learned a great deal from other’s experience. I searched the web for articles and guides, anything to teach me what I needed to know. Even after I finally wrote the book, I hired a professional editor to look at it. He cut 15% of my novel. It was a hard pill to swallow. Nonetheless, I would do it all again, especially since I am French-Canadian and my English is not as good as I thought it was (another thing I learned about myself)!

The result was a book that I am truly proud of. The story flows beautifully, the dialogue between the characters is intriguing and the characters are tremendously likeable. A year ago, I would not have been able to do all this. I had to admit I was not as good as I thought I was to succeed. I had to learn the craft and realize I would probably continue to learn how to hone the craft throughout my life.

There is Nothing Like Publishing a Book. That is a powerful statement to make. Obviously, I haven’t done everything there is to do on this rock of ours. However, I’m pretty sure publishing a book is somewhere at the top of the list of rewarding things to do. After the countless hours you pour into a project like this, after all the research, the rewrites and editing, to finally publish what is a part of you is both magical and exciting. You essentially open the curtains on your imagination and declare: “See here, this is what’s in my head. What do you think?”

If you have taken the time to get it right, to tidy up the place if you wish, then people will come in and enjoy their time with you. What’s more, if they genuinely like what you have done, they will take the time to let you know how you touched or moved them. They will let the world know how much they appreciate the effort you put forth and that, my friends, is the greatest reward of all.

About the Author: Martin Rouillard is an entrepreneur and writer. His short stories have consistently been among the most downloaded at online retailers. Rise of the Red Dragon, Tome 1 of the Tales of the Lorekeepers series, is his first novel. Martin's interests include travel and mythology. He lives in Boischatel, Quebec.

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