December brought a big change for my writing. At first I wasn’t sure it was a good thing. I soon realized, it was my early Christmas present from the universe.
For the past four years, I produced my books using a design company. A couple of weeks ago, I came to a diverging path. As most other authors know, there is a reason for the phrase “starving artist.” And where I’m not actually starving, paying out large chunks of money to produce each book isn’t always feasible. Honestly, the stress of wondering how I was going to pay to have covers and formatting done had affected me to the point of interfering with my writing, and making me generally crabby and unhappy. It sucked all of the enjoyment out of writing to constantly be worried if I was throwing away money that had every possibility of never coming back to me. And honestly reduced me to tears more than once. I’m not in a position where I can throw several hundred dollars at every new book and not care if I ever see it again. It simply isn’t sustainable.
So I was faced with two paths. 1. Go it alone, or 2. Stop producing books altogether.
I chose path number one. It’s a path where I can release books and keep the cost at a fraction of having someone else do all of the cover work and formatting for me.
At first, this terrified me. I had never formatted a book. I wasn’t too worried about the cover, I knew I could do that. Photoshop did worry me though. I had never used it. Only relied on GIMP. But my parents raised me to believe I can do anything I put my mind to. So, with my husband’s unfailing support and absolute faith I could conquer this, my kids’ certainty that their mother is awesome, as well as the encouragement and pom pom waving of a dear friend, I dove into learning both InDesign and Photoshop.
Formatting turned out far easier than I ever dreamed. With the help of some excellent step-by-step tutorials, I learned how to format a book complete with chapter header images and drop caps. It came to me so easy and natural, the program felt user friendly. Even when I stumbled and messed it all up, it still didn’t bother me. Before I knew it, the how of it fell into line with little fuss. I feel silly looking back at how nervous I was about this step.
Photoshop absolutely terrified me. There were so many more options than GIMP and I didn’t know what 90% of them did, or how to properly build a PDF cover for print. Thankfully, I have made some absolutely incredible friends in the author community over the years and they were quick to come to my plea for help. Specifically, Audra Crebs who writes under A.R. Crebs.
She put together some wonderful tutorials for me that explained so much that I didn’t know (basically everything, lol). She went even further by answering all of my “I don’t get it even though you just showed me” questions. In the span of one week I created a cover I love. Again, I couldn’t believe I had been so scared of a program. Once I understood the basics, I got confident enough to experiment on my own and start clicking things to see what they did. In doing so, I discovered Photoshop is immeasurably easier for me to use than GIMP. Not that I can completely discount GIMP. It did me good for many years even if I did struggle with it.
I will keep the editor I found for my last book. That is one place I will still spend money, but she is so worth it and I’m eternally glad I found her.
So, from here on out, all my stuff will be mine through and through. I’m officially affiliated with no company. I’m even redoing all of my previous books as a way of starting fresh and defining my new beginning.
That said, when I say I’m going it alone, I’m really not because I have an awesome group of friends, family, and other indie authors at my back. My friends and family are my cheerleaders, as always. The other indie authors have been happy to help me, advise me, critique my new cover, and welcome me to take this journey with them. Even a couple of indie author friends I had lost touch with were wonderfully accepting and helpful as I stepped onto my new path.
The future is bright and I’m thrilled to walk into it. For the first time in a long time, I’m excited to write and looking forward to a book release. Without the constant worry, I feel weightless and free. Through learning all of this, and through the tons of research I’ve done, all the way to looking at the cover I completed and the formatting I achieved, I felt like I should have always been doing this. Like I had come home. Sometimes, we grow into ourselves when we least expect it.
Feeling this song right now. I’m coming home as a writer.