Writing & Publishing: Would You Have Done Anything differently?

Truth is: I did not sit down and say, “I am going to write a novel.” Or, “I am going to sell books.”  I feel being candid about my personal experiences with these processes of writing and publishing is the best way to help other aspiring authors. I deeply admire and respect all of you who have authored books. Yesterday, I made a post about my progress with getting my paperback version accomplished.  That post prompted more questions which I am attempting to answer in this post.

First: What is “Red Clay and Roses” about?

Red Clay and RosesGeorgia, the elbow and the armpit of the Southern U.S.A post-Civil War. Jim Crow Law is enforced keeping the black and white races separate. A century after the Civil War started, nearly two lifetimes later, battles are still being fought in the 1950s and 60s.  Major changes are introduced in the South.  Follow an African American family’s trials and tribulations and an interracial couple’s struggle to face an unaccepting society in this faction novel, “Red Clay and Roses”, by S.K. Nicholls.  An engaging read that explores the harsh realities of living in the South during this era, one that slices right down the middle of serious women’s issues and racial issues that our constantly evolving society continues to encounter today.

You can also read a more detailed book description on my novel page here  or at Amazon.

I don’t want to belittle the work effort that went into this project, it was enormous, or the work effort of other authors, but I want to tell you, honestly how this went for me:

  1.  As I have mentioned in my interviews, I wrote a factional account of events that occurred in other eras, a fictionalized true story. After a year on the shelf, I shared it with many friends who encouraged me to publish. They were teachers, nurses, college professors, family, friends and colleagues.  A couple of these people are even authors.  Retrospectively, to spend the time to creatively develop the writing into a formulaic novel template did not occur to me.
  2. When I made the decision to publish, I was clueless.  I did not have a blog. I had researched some, but honestly, if I knew then what I know now, I would have been too intimidated to put it out there.  I did it. I put it out there.  It won’t be unpublished simply because it is not my best possible work.  It will remain there as example of my earliest writing.  It is a good story.  It is not bad writing, but I know that it is not the best I can do.  The publishing process for the eversion was simple in comparison to the paperback.  If I had it to do over I would have had them published by the same company at the same time.  I think that would have simplified the paperback process.  I would have also passed the MS through the hands of a couple of professional editors BEFORE publishing, not after. Revision and final editing was done recently, rather than before the publication of the eversion in March 2013.
  3. To date, I have sold 110 copies since March 23rd.  Most of those were sold on Amazon and through smashwords the first three months after publication.  I had thought it was selling better on Amazon than smashwords but my data shows me that smashwords and all of the other retail platforms combined (according to my independent publisher) have sold 58 copies, and Amazon 52.  Technically, Amazon is the single best retailer, because smashwords figures are combined with all of the others (B&N, Kobo, Apple, Sony, etc…).  I had no plans to get rich, or even be a best seller, so I am not disappointed. At least 110 people now know the true story that I wanted to tell, and they know of the sacrifices real people made to get us where we are today.  Would I like to sell more? Of course.  I want the story told.
  4. I set out to document a story. I did not set out to make a name for myself as an author.  Seriously, I wanted the story recorded for posterity.  I truly did not intend for it to be entertaining.  People might ask, “If not to be entertaining, then why write?” It was written to encourage others to think about harsh realities of other eras and to reflect on their personal indoctrinations and belief system.  Is it entertaining? The reader would have to decide. I am sure parts of it are. Parts of it will make you think deeply.  It is supposed to. It is an engaging read that explores the harsh realities of living in the South during the 1950-60s, and during the Civil Rights Movement. It will force you to examine your own belief system and come to understand the origin of a hatred we still seek to eradicate. It speaks to women’s reproductive rights and responsibilities.
  5. Specifically, what would I have done differently about the writing process, the technical aspects of putting a novel together?
  • There would have been no separate Introduction or Conclusion chapters. Possibly, there would have been a prologue introducing the ledger and The Good Doctor via Hannah Hamilton and her visits with Ms. Bea.
  • The first two chapters regarding Ms. Bea, and the first two chapters regarding Moses Grier, would not exist in their current form, but parts of their stories would have been incorporated into the remainder of the book.
  • The entire book would have been written in third person omniscient, using fewer dialogs and more show than tell. A craft aspect of writing that I am seriously working on developing.
  • The first chapter would have opened with the action of Althea’s tragedy and the reactions of all involved.

I will publish an authored work again, I am certain, but it may be years down the road.  I will also do things differently with regard to both the writing and publishing processes.

If you are interested in the book, the paperback should be ready within the next two weeks, realistically, and I will post the “gone live” date.  For Read Tuesday, the eversion will be available through Amazon for 99 cents during the week of December 8th-14th.  I would have made it free, but Amazon makes it so difficult, I have learned from experience, to go back up to your original price when you do that.

23 thoughts on “Writing & Publishing: Would You Have Done Anything differently?

  1. So glad that you wrote this, Susan! Why not spend some time (months, years..) and remake it with the “hindsight” changes? I loved this story, yet I do agree with you about it. I am even prouder that you did this with so little information. But you did have an excellent story to tell and you did it! Now you share all of this with us. Cool lady. Oh, I just blamed my wackiness on you in a comment to Luanne on my blog:>)
    I think the color really tamed the cover and made it lighter feeling.


    1. Thank you Patti. I still love the story and though I look back with hindsight, I have no regrets on my experience. That is part of why I want to keep it in its current form. I value the experience and I know that readers can enjoy the read. I am looking forward, and ready to move on to the next project.


      1. Thanks Patti. As I mentioned to CTC, I like the story in it’s current form. I am afraid that a rewrite might lose the depth of character of the story. I do believe in myself and expect that future writing will improve.


  2. The first time for everything is a learning experience. I am amazed how much you have accomplished without more background or help. You should be proud and anyway, like the previous commentor suggests, a revised version is still a possibility. You deserve a pat on the back. Drum roll please. 🙂


    1. Thank you CTC. I revised it minimally to improve the flow. I don’t know if I will rewrite it. I like where it is today. Maybe this post didn’t come across that way because I am being totally honest about the writing process. A rewrite might not have the depth of character that the current version has and I don’t want to lose that.


      1. The little tweaks have already been done. I had the final manuscript for createspace sent back to them in October. This whole paperback project design has been going on with them since June 6th and that is why I have become so very discouraged. It has been a long and sometimes painful process.


  3. Susan, have I told you that you are one of my favorite people? For posts like this. I totally understand (okay maybe not totally but a little bit) where you are coming from. I just love how you look back and say I can do better and then you go on to practice and do better. It is such a great attitude to have. Keep up the hard work Susan. 🙂


    1. Thanks GE 🙂 You are one of my favorite people too! I love learning and every day I learn something new. Also, if I can help someone else with what I have learned all the better. Check you email in a few minutes. I love also, the way that you teach and I have questions.


  4. Wow! What did you do to your blog? It is awesome! I love it! …

    Excellent post and I just wanted to throw my two-penneth in and say that I admire everything that you have done, how you have gone about it and what you have achieved. The response to my post when I talked about self publishing suggested that we should all be immensely proud of ourselves for our achievement and I think that like everything, it is a massive learning journey. Nothing could have prepared me for what has happened over the last few months and how difficult it was all going to be. But thanks to great authors like yourself, we are all able to follow this journey together and share our ups and downs… and hope that they benefit others. And I really hope that you don’t leave it too long until you write another book. 🙂


    1. Awe…you’re so sweet, you make me cry. It is true, that it is a learning experience and that we can be most proud to have accomplished a goal. My fellow bloggers have meant the world to me and without you all and your support, well, I know I wouldn’t have made it this far alone. Thanks for dropping by Jade. Your comments here are always appreciated.

      About the blog theme. Sweeping change. All of the blog like stuff is at the bottom. Things were just seeming a bit too commercial for my current state of mind.


      1. I am definitely continuing writing and have a couple of goals for future works. I have three different projects going now. I always thought that I could only focus on one at a time, but I am finding that working on one for a while, putting it aside and giving another attention, while a slower process, is really allowing me to write better…to sort of digest what I have written before moving ahead.


      2. That’s really interesting. I don’t think that I could do that, I am more focused on one project although I do have several ideas and thoughts jotted down. Can’t wait to hear more about what you are up to though. And I promise… I will get around to reading your book. I am still trying to get mine finished and now I have the challenge of a lack of laptop to contend with! 🙂


    1. On other blogs, I have heard it said that hobby writers can’t be taken seriously as authors. I have heard it said that someone who takes years to complete one book or one series isn’t talented. I don’t agree. It is a learning process for all of us.


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