1. Have an interest in writing, an obsession with words and a desire for self-expression (Hear me Bitches!)
2. Have a story to tell, one that is itching to get out (Clawing, ripping or shredding or exploding to get out is also appropriate)
3. Be a lover of reading and books (How I love thee, let me count the ways!)
4. Read a lot, ignore your family and all your “should do’s” to read 12 novels per year minimum, 24+ is better
5. Keep a journal, write story snippets, articles etc, until your fingers bleed or you get a nice nasty case of carpal tunnel syndrome
6. Start writing your story, huzzah!
7. Read what you’ve written, realize with misery and hopelessness that it’s terrible and that you need to learn everything you can about writing. How can it be this hard!?
8. Research writing a novel to death online (Try here or here or here) or read books ( like this or that)
9. Experience obliterating crushing self-doubt, a black hole where confidence used to be
10. Get a headache from all the opinions and then gain determination and start writing again
11. Write several scenes and realize that even though you have read lots of novels, you have never studied them with plot in mind, as far as tension, climax etc.
12. Research the hell out of it, and read lots of novels to see how everyone else does it. Realize all the tips are right there on the page. Writing craft isn’t a secret.
13. Head spinning, try again
14. Write, rewrite, edit, re-write, throw it away, trash it, burn it, start again, write, rewrite, edit
15. Rinse, repeat, lather, go again
16. Experience soul crushing self-doubt and the realization that writing is not easy, in fact it’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done. There are a million ways to tell this story!!! AHH!!
17. Experience depression from the realization that writers are loners and you need some contact with someone else STAT before you lose your mind (Help Meeee!)
18. Find some people you can talk writing with, feel slightly better
19. Write, rewrite, edit, change it again and again
20. Read your WIP and realize that you have improved, but you are still missing something critical. It just doesn’t feel right yet.
21. Research the hell out of voice and character development
22. Try to incorporate your education into your WIP, fail miserably. Consider self-flagellation.
23. Open a brand new Word doc and think long and hard about who your character is, write a few pages
24. Get really excited because your character’s voice has emerged and she/he is kickass!
25. Apply this voice to the entire story
26. Get no sleep because of the conversations and scenes in your head, feel happy and light because you freaking love this!
27. Read some novels by other people, realize that being a writer has ruined the experience because you are too focused on “how” they did it.
28. Realize that you’re not sure about your POV or tense. Research POV and tense options endlessly
29. Pick one that feels right and rewrite your entire manuscript
30. Add additional scenes and try to create tension
31. Realize that writing and expression is freedom
32. After reading an impressive novel written by someone else, read your WIP and suddenly experience debilitating crushing self-doubt
33. Dark days ensue including: ego smashing self-doubt, tear inducing self-loathing and dark black depression
34. Write, rewrite, edit, pour your heart and soul into the page. Bleed, people!
35. Pull yourself up by your boot straps (do you have these?) and try to seek out readers for your WIP. After all, you just need to know once and for all if you should continue with this or give it up! (High drama and dramatics ensue)
36. Find several people
37. Bite all your finger nails off with anxiety as you wait for them to fill you in on what they thought
38. Keep waiting
39. Horrific self-doubt and despair kick your ass all around the room
40. Continue working obsessively on your WIP, tweaking this and tweaking that
41. Tap your foot, crack knuckles, pull out your hair, cry, keep waiting to hear from your readers until finally you realize you don’t care what they think, screw them! How could they make you wait this long to hear about your BABY!
42. Finally hear from them with varying opinions. Overall, they like it! Banish mind-controlling self-doubt and plow forward!
43. Use their opinions and comments as you see fit to solidify your WIP into an actual novel
44. Wonder what the hell you will do with this baby of yours? Release it into the world?
45. Create a query letter and research the shit out of how to find an agent
46. Send out a few query letters, hear nothing most of the time, wait, wait, wait, consider killing yourself because you have no patience
47. Research traditional publishing versus self-publishing (try here)
48. Realize you don’t have the patience for Trad Publishing and that you are a control freak who can’t let go.
49. Realize you are chicken shit and don’t want to share your story, you’re too scared without the approval of “someone big”
50. Meet someone who wants to read your WIP (an every person who “gets” your subject matter)
51. Share and they tell you, you should self-publish this! It’s good!
52. Gain confidence and a fuck yea attitude
53. Go to work and edit like a maniac
54. Spend several months editing yourself
55. Find an editor, wonder if it’s a waste of money since you CAN’T DO THIS!! YOU ARE A FAILURE!!
56. Do it anyway because dammit I CAN DO THIS! Wait with bated breath while they edit
57. Wait a while more, starving for oxygen, throat closing, bowels tight
58. Experience another round of soul crushing self-doubt
59. Get your WIP back with some good tips, YEA!!
60. Fix, edit, polish until that shit shines!
61. Start a blog, realize that’s what you’ve been missing this whole time cause it rocks, gain an addiction.
62. Get Twitter, realize you don’t know what you are doing but you don’t have time to figure it out because you are…
63. Researching the hell out of self-publishing options, Amazon, Smashwords, Bookbaby, Lulu
64. Pick one (Which? Which?!)
65. Find someone to design your book cover, or DIY
66. Research what others have for covers and create something comparable
67. Agonize, stress, bite off toenails (you have skills)
68. Get excited when you see the finished cover…this feels real! OMG!! Scream like a little girl who has just received a bubblegum ice cream cone bigger than her head
69. Soul smashing self-doubt as you read your WIP again…
70. Then you read it again and again, tears come to your eyes because you did it!
71. Hysteria, loss of sleep, blurry eyes, headache
72. Obsess over your novel…tweaking until you could scream
73. Decide screw it, I’m going in! I can DO THIS!
74. Experience momentary insanity and enormous inflated ego
75. Format like a fiend
76. Format again…re-read like 10 more times to make sure you don’t have any typos (you’ll still have some anyway and you’ll hate your novel with a passion by the time you’re done and never want to read it again, okay that’s a lie)
77. Upload documents to your preferred self-pub option
78. Shit your pants
80. Experience agonizing self-doubt
81. Then buoyant confidence and pride in what you’ve accomplished. You’ve written a NOVEL!! OMG!!! Yeeeee!! Little girl scream, again!
82. Hit the publish button. OMG!
83. Find it on Amazon or where ever. Shit pants again. Experience nerves and a tiny thrill.
84. Wait in anticipation for someone to download your book
85. Keep waiting, you no longer have fingernails, hair balding in patches, stomach problems, sleeping problems etc.
86. Research why your book isn’t selling (WTF? I spent/wasted like a million days of my life on this! RECOGNIZE People!!)
87. Realize with a soul sucking quivering dread that you are just getting started (WHAT??!!)
88. Research how to market your book (So…tired….can’t…go…on…Ok, yes I can)
89. Begin marketing, have no life, be attached with chains to social media
90. Realize that your idea that writing a novel was the hardest thing you’ve ever done was slightly skewed (although still true) however this new challenge is kicking major self-pub ass
91. Realize that most novelist don’t have huge success the first time around
92. Gain patience (sort of)
93. Start another novel…repeat steps 1-92 with slightly less self-loathing and self-doubt
94. Know that this is your dream and you love it, and you are incredibly stubborn and refuse to give up.
95. Learn, learn, learn, keep going.
96. Be happy when anyone reads your book and gives you feedback.
97. Tell yourself it’s always been your goal to be read, not to be rich and believe it
98. Don’t give up your day job
99. Keep going, research
100. Read for the joy of it
101. Write for the joy and expression of it
And there you have it…how to become a self-published author in 101 cool agonizing self-doubting, soul crushing, hard and wonderful, little girl scream steps. And for those who wonder because you aren’t an author, yes, this is the amount of stress and joy and fear we go through to get here. We’re unstable. And that’s why we write. 😉