Journey to “The Newbie”

I apologize in advance for the length of this post, but I wanted to share some of my journey between writing and publishing my book. I thought it would be interesting for me and my kids to look back on someday.

I also apologize for the fact that I decided to move my blogspot posts over to WordPress. I’m better able to navigate through WordPress, and I hope to be able to connect my blog to my Amazon author page.


So I have at long last embarked on this crazy dream of publishing one of the stories that crashed through the door of my mind and refused to leave until I wrote it down and gave it life. Like a lot of other things in my life, it hasn’t been easy getting to this point–well, writing the story was actually quite easy; once I started, it just kept coming, sometimes in word trickles here and there, other times in entire chapters.

It wasn’t until I actually decided to do something with it that things got interesting.

I decided that I wasn’t gutsy enough or savvy enough to try to find an agent and a publisher, so I began looking at the world of self-publishing. Now, I have some friends who have been published in the traditional manner, and friends who will read nothing but stories published in the traditional manner, so I have heard a lot of bashing of self-publication and authors who seek to do it that way. In fact, it was that attitude that kept me from diving in right away; that part of my personality that still seeks to protect me from any kind of negativity from others came out in force, and I sat on my story for a long time, afraid of putting myself out there and opening myself up for the inevitable criticism.

About a year and a half ago, Johlene, a friend on Facebook who does ghost tours in Gettysburg, posted that if anyone was looking to publish, they should contact her. After bouncing the idea off another friend, I decided I had nothing to lose and shot her a message telling her a little about my book. She encouraged me to go for it and gave me the name of the publisher in Gettysburg who had handled the books she herself had written, so I contacted them. I believe it was close to Thanksgiving of 2013 when I first met with Gail to discuss my book and how they do things at Arbor House. She showed me some of the books they had done, Johlene’s included. She told me that they had never published a novel before, so it would be a learning experience for them as well as for me. We talked for a long while about books and our lives, and I left really believing that this would happen.

Of course, life has a way of throwing obstacles out along the way, and that’s what happened to me as well. As anyone who has self-published will tell you, there is a financial investment that goes along with this endeavor. When Gail got back to me with the estimate of what it would cost for me to publish, I knew I had hit a road block. I am currently a stay-at-home mom, so from my end of things, there is little of no income. My husband had been unemployed for a time and just started a new job at the beginning of 2014, so there really wasn’t a lot of extra money. Needless to say, there was a lot of discussion over this potential investment, and it became obvious that it wasn’t going to happen unless one of those spam emails claiming I had inherited a few million dollars turned out to be true.

So after shedding a whole bunch of tears, feeling sorry for myself, and considering deleting every word I had ever written, I took the advice of some writing group friends and looked into CreateSpace. I agonized over this one because I kept hearing echoes of people who said CreateSpace was only for losers and writer wannabes whose work wasn’t good enough to be published the “right” way. I did finally bite the bullet and set up an account, after which someone contacted me about my project. I spent about a half hour going over their process and time frame and sharing details of my book. At the end of our conversation, she said she’d email the details so I could share the costs with my husband. As expected, CreateSpace’s costs were significantly lower than the other publisher’s, which I hoped would work in my favor as far as my husband went.

Jumping ahead a bit, after weighing the pros and cons of publishing with Arbor House versus publishing through CreateSpace, my husband did eventually agree that if we were going to take this step, he would be willing to let me go through CreateSpace. So I had a few more conversations with the creative team I was assigned to, and I uploaded everything they needed to get the ball rolling. Somewhere along the way, I decided I wanted to write under a pen name, so I played with name generators, searched baby name books and my family tree, and came up with a name–Leta Penelope Hawk–that is a combination of family names and names I just like.

Each step of the process brought a new thrill–the day I decided on the fonts, the day they sent the preview of the cover design, and the day I held my first author proof in my hands. There is just no describing the feeling I had knowing that I was on the threshold of actually being a published author. It may be a cliche, but I was afraid I would wake up one day to find it was all a dream.

Then one day, the doorbell rang. Not expecting anyone, I ran to open the door…and found a huge box sitting on the front porch. My first twenty copies had arrived! I’m sure if any of the neighbors had been home, they would have heard me squealing like a teenager. I rushed inside and tore open the box. Oh my goodness, it brought tears to my eyes to see MY book, a book I had written, there before me. I couldn’t get to the phone fast enough to call my friends and family.

Within a few days, my book went live on Amazon and on Kindle. At the moment I’m trying to figure out the ins and outs of marketing my own book, which has me a bit overwhelmed. But I am full of dreams about what this may lead to. I know the chances are slim that I will be the next J.K. Rowling, but I can dream, right?

And some dreams DO come true.


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