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?
Georgia, 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.
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:
- 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.
- 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 It won’t be unpublished simply because it is not my best possible work.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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.