Writing changed my life. Then publishing changed my life in more ways. I’m about to become a two-book Mama, I mean author. I loved watching my characters grow and evolve. The series is not done by a long shot. There’s so much more to tell. I’m excited, I’m nervous, and I want it to be the launch day already! I’ll share what changed and what stayed the same regarding my writing and publishing process.
WHAT’S THE SAME:
I still love writing. I write in the mornings before my family gets up. I don’t do writing sprints; I don’t participate in NaNoWriMo; I don’t go to cafes. Writing time is for me and the world of my characters. My muse knows my hours and shows up (usually 30 minutes late). I grab my coffee, and my Kind bar (dark chocolate and sea salt). The muse brings out her lyre. We stretch and get to work.
I’m not a historian. I’m not even sure if I’m qualified to play one on tv. I research what I don’t know. But there’s a plethora of what I don’t know. So how can I write historical fiction? I plot the story first. I don’t have to research just yet if Ella will dance the waltz or the minuet with the handsome officer she meets at a wedding. I jot down that Ella will go to a wedding and dance with the officer. What was his rank, what they wore, what food was served, what music played—those details require research. I refine them in later edits. As I write, I read fiction, non-fiction, and primary sources, but I zero in on what I need to know for my story. This keeps me out of the rabbit hole of reading every historical book out there.
I enjoy self-publishing. It’s rewarding in many ways. I wear many hats. While my favorite hat is writing, I enjoy marketing, web design, and posting on social media. I’m learning new skills, such as formatting manuscripts and building Amazon ad campaigns. I don’t query publishers. I don’t search for an agent. I don’t cry over rejection letters. I do all I can to produce the best books possible, the same quality as traditionally published ones. If I don’t want to do something, I don’t. I set my deadlines. I’m the boss.
When I published A Girl with a Knife, I had no audience to satisfy. No one knew me as a writer. Family and friends responded with surprise: “You wrote a book?” With my marketing effort, readers outside my circle discovered my novel. I want to keep them happy and hungry for more. I often ask myself: Will they enjoy book 2 as much as book 1? Did I meet their expectations? I’m sure they will tell me soon after the launch.
I had four beta readers for Book 1. Two of them were so detailed in their feedback, they became critique partners. These two ladies were a tremendous help. I wanted them back, but… while I played with fictional plots, they dealt with life problems. They were not available. I found a new group of beta readers. They had different strengths, and they all helped make the book better.
When I started, I didn’t know editors, cover designers, or even writers, published or unpublished. I searched for Facebook groups for writers, joined Zoom “pub nights” and conferences. Over time, I found my tribe. Now I have authors I can go to for advice, request an editorial review, collaborate on a promotion. I do the same for them by posting about their books on social media and feature in my newsletter. I joined Paper Lantern Writers to collaborate on our launches, newsletters, blogs, and more. They are such a supportive group of talented authors! A rising tide lifts all boats.
NO JOB FOR A WOMAN LAUNCHING APRIL 2, 2023. SAIL AWAY WITH ELLA AND THE CREW OF THE H.M.S. NEPTUNE!
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Alina Rubin loves writing historical fiction about heroines with strong voices and able hands. Her debut novel, A Girl with a Knife, won the Illinois Author Project competition. When not working or writing, Alina enjoys yoga, reading and traveling.