A Gathering Voices Post by Lynne M. Baab
Well, actually I've written several novels, but I have finally published one of them. Dead Sea: A Novel is now available for Kindle, and I want to reflect on the process of getting it there. Things have changed so much since I wrote the novel almost twenty years ago.
Back then, self-publishing involved shelling out money to get books printed. You had to take a leap and choose a number of books you thought you could sell, and then you had to do your best to sell the books you’d paid for. Now self-publishing involves a great deal of detail work getting the manuscript ready to publish, and then a great deal more detail work to move through the online publication process, but no money is required to publish it. I’ve done all that detail work for Kindle, and I need to gird up my loins and do the same for other electronic formats.
Here’s my story about writing fiction. In 1989, at age 37, I wrote a short story, the first fiction I had written since junior high school. It took me many months to write a 2000-word story. The second story came faster and was a bit longer. The third, fourth, and fifth stories came even more quickly and were longer. The seventh and eighth stories could perhaps be called a novellas. I realized I was ready to try to write a novel.
I wrote four novels between 1992 and 1996. At the time I was a stay-at-home mom with kids in intermediate school and then high school, and I was dabbling with re-entering the workforce. I had two part time editing jobs, working on publications for the local Presbytery and Synod (of the Presbyterian Church USA).
For one of the novels, I had an agent. She shopped the novel around to various publishers, and it came close to being published. But it wasn’t. Meanwhile, I got an idea for a non-fiction book on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and all the ways it could be used in congregations, and in 1997 I got a contract for that book. Personality Type in Congregations was released in 1998. As I wrote that book, I got an idea for a second non-fiction book, and that book, Embracing Midlife: Congregations as Support Systems, was released in 1999. Meanwhile, I had been ordained as a Presbyterian minister in 1997, and there was simply no more time for writing fiction.
My eight short stories and four novels sat in storage in paper files and on computer diskettes. Early last year I got them out and re-read them all. One of the novels jumped out at me because it is set in Israel and Jordan, and reading it brought back memories of places I had loved but hadn’t thought much about for many years. My husband and I lived in Israel for 18 months about 30 years ago, and when I wrote the novel, many places in Israel and Jordan were still relatively fresh in my mind. I named the novel Dead Sea because much of it is set at an imaginary archaeological dig near the Dead Sea. There are also scenes at Masada, Jerash and Petra.
In mid 2011 I did some editing to the novel, changing words and sentences. I paid $600 to a wonderful copy editor/proofreader who cleaned it up for me. I’m selling the novel for $3.59 on amazon.com, of which I will get $2.40 per copy. So I need to sell 250 copies to pay for my direct expense. So that’s my first goal, simply to recover the money I’ve put into the novel.
Finding outlets for writing has changed dramatically in the past decade. Between blogs and self-publishing electronic books, writers have so many inexpensive options to get their words to readers. As a person who writes because I have to, because my life doesn’t work unless I write, I am so grateful for the publishers who publish my books and for the options to publish for myself as well.
Now I need to get the word out that the novel exists.