Have you ever wondered what it takes to self-publish a book? Do you want to write a book but don’t know where to start? Well, that was me several years ago. I had written for my own amusement for years in the form of short stories, poems, fan fiction, and websites that went nowhere. Then one day I stumbled across a really cool website called National Novel Writing Month, affectionately known by its members as NaNoWriMo or just Nano.
Nano is a non-profit event held every year in November. The goal is to write 50,000 words in 30 days. It sounds nearly impossible, especially if you already have a calendar full of real life stuff. So I spent several years as a member, not writing, sure I could never finish, lurking on the message boards, and dreaming.
One day in early 2015 I suddenly had the inspiration for a brand new story. So that year I actually took part in the contest. There is no entrance fee and no prize money if you “win” but I love writing so much I thought it would be a fun challenge to see if I could actually finish the story forming in my mind. 1,667 words every day for 30 days still felt daunting but I was determined to give it my best try. I started writing on November 1st and, to my amazement, by the evening of November 30th I had written 51,863 words. I finished! I won! I couldn’t believe it. I was so excited.
Then came the aftermath. During the event I had interesting conversations with people on the message boards and even went to a couple “Write-ins” A Write-In is when writers from the site meet up at a Denny’s or Panera Bread, or wherever, and having a kind of writing party. We chit chat, play writing games, and generally support each other’s work. It’s a lot of fun and I usually come out with a much higher word count then when I got there. Once December 1st came around I felt cut off from my new found friends and the energy of the Write-ins.
I decided to focus on looking forward to next year and thinking about entering with a sequel to the book I just finished. When November came around I dove in again, relieved to be back at work doing something I loved. My husband was less than thrilled when I told him I would be writing again. I promised to be careful not to become as obsessed as I had my first time around, and he grudgingly gave his blessing. I was ecstatic.
2016 did not see the completion of a book. I only made it to 35,091 this time. I was determined not to let it bother me as I reminded myself I didn’t put in as much time as the first one. I also learned through this years Write-ins that some people outline their whole books before November 1st. I decided to try that for next year, and I’ll let you know how it goes.
But now what? I had one novel done and one mostly done but no way of knowing how to proceed if I wanted to publish them. Luckily I discovered this year that the NaNoWriMo website has a whole section in the forum which is aptly titled, “I Wrote a Novel, Now What?” So off I went on my new journey discovering how to publish a novel.
It has been quite an interesting ride so far and while I’m no where near finished I have learned a lot. I’ll share my discoveries with you in the posts to come. Let me just end by saying if you love writing and you’re considering writing a book but don’t know where to start, check out NaNoWriMo. You won’t have to spend a dime (unless you want to donate to their worthy cause), and whether you finish or not you’ll have spent a month learning more about yourself and working on something you love. I consider that time well spent.