t has taken a lot of work and a lot of time to get to the point of publishing a professional novel. Along the way I wrote a second full length novel (in the process of polishing) and started a sequel to this first one.

There was a lot to learn; it was like drinking from a fireplug at times. For those contemplating writing, I’d like to recommend some resources that helped me along my journey. The first one (and the first one I came across), is a site called Author! Author! published by Anne Mini. The site is not active at the moment, but it was filled with an enormous quantity of blogs sharing her wisdom about writing and publishing. From the site I learned how to format a manuscript for submission to agents; something I did faithfully to no avail before turning to the self-publishing route. Her most important advice was to print out my manuscript, and read it aloud, word for word. That is the best advice I can offer any beginning writer. It was amazing to me how many typos, missing words, bad syntax and artificial dialogue I rooted out by following her advice. In the end I did that three times with my manuscript.

To try to get out of the trap of being a member of the big “UN”; “unpublished” and “un-agented” (a whole other blog discussion in itself), I turned to some on-line journals to try to get published. Most of them don’t pay any money, but that wasn’t my purpose. I’m thankful for the following journals for accepting my work; excerpts from After the Fall: Jason’s Tale as well as a short story I wrote:

Even though most of these on-line journals don’t pay, they have some pretty high standards. If you can meet them, you’re getting close to publishing standards.

Below are some of the other sites that were helpful. The list is not exhaustive as there are many routes to knowledge in this arena, but I’d like to publicly acknowledge some that I found helpful.

  • Duotrope; this is a site that I used to query on-line journals in my initial search to be published.
  • AgentQuery.com and AgentQueryConnect.com; the first helps you search the thousands of agents to, hopefully, find one. The second is a community of budding writers all sharing what they’ve learned in their journey. It’s very helpful for a newbie. They are evolving to focus more and more on self-publishing as the trend grows.
  • Ellen Brock, a professional editor produces some informative videos on YouTube that I found helpful.
  • Hugh Howey, the author of “Wool” is the inspiration for all self-published writers. He is very knowledgeable and convincing on the economics of being your own publisher.
  • J.A. Konrath is a prolific self-published author who also writes convincingly about the benefits of being your own boss. Often acerbic but always entertaining.
  • Pikko’s House; Crystal Watanabe offers professional editing/proofreading services. I hired her to do a “beta” read of my novel which helped a lot. It would have been even more helpful to have hired her earlier in the process…but what did I know? I was still trying to figure it all out.

There’s a ton of proof readers, editors out there catering to the self-publishing market. I haven’t used any of them so I can’t recommend them, even though I’ve visited their websites. My guess is that the prolific and successful self-published authors use copy editors, proof readers and cover page designers to help them produce their work which helps them spend more time in creative writing. I hope to get to that stage…it’s a process.