Category Archives: Publishing a Book

Wondering about publishing a book? Authors share stories of how they first published. Scroll to bottom of current post to access previous stories.

Christian counselor overcomes her own fears to publish first book

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I’m so excited to have licensed counselor Judy Lair as my guest today on  How I First Published.  She shares not only valuable information about the technical  process she went through to publish her first  nonfiction book, From the Other Side of the Couch, but about the process of overcoming her own fears and  doubts to be able to publish. Here’s her story!

What was your first published novel?

From the Other Side of the Couch is my very first book! It became available on Amazon June 2014.

Was it a traditional publishing contract or did you go indie?

I chose to go indie because having control over the process gave me the ability to be flexible and respond to the market in a timely manner. My purpose in writing From the Other Side of the Couch is to share the same message of hope and transformation I offer to my counseling clients every day. I’ve always loved creative writing, but all the hoops to get something published traditionally seemed very daunting. Having control of every step of the process has allowed me to make all the decisions in how, when, where, and what to do with my message.

How did that come about?

Many years ago, God put it on my heart to write a book based on the godly principles I was learning in my healing journey. Every few years I’d attempt to put pen to paper, but self-doubt, negativity, and fear always kept me from getting past the first couple of chapters.

Last fall, one of my clients told me about NaNoWrimo (National Novel Writing Month). This site’s mission is to help writers get past the internal and external hurdles that keep folks from writing. Every November, NaNoWrimo challenges writers to write a minimum of 50,000 words towards their writing project. Feeling strongly this opportunity was meant for me, I signed up and committed to writing 2,000 words a day (yes, I’m an overachiever and wanted to finish early!). I’d see clients at the office during the day and evening, then come home and begin writing at 8-9pm, spending about 4 hours an evening to get my word quota down. NaNoWrimo strongly advocated no editing while writing the first draft, and that was extremely helpful advice. Many authors begin with an outline or storyboard. I couldn’t conceptualize my book in those formats. Instead, I had a list of Bible verses and concepts that were important to my message and just started writing. On November 25, 2013 I uploaded my 50,152 words to NaNoWrimo and received my “Winner” certificate. That was one of the proudest moments in my life!

Over the next few months I decided on a structure and took all those words and arranged them so the reader connected to me, found inspiration in my story, learned how to apply important godly principles to their life, and embraced hope for change. I bought a template from Book Design Templates which made the process of uploading my manuscript to CreateSpace very easy. As a winner, I took advantage of the discount for a year membership to Bibliocrunch, an experienced group of writers who guide folks through the entire process of writing, editing, publishing, and marketing. They helped me find beta readers and an editor. I chose to hire a wonderful graphic artist to design my book cover, author photo, and book graphics. On June 17, 2014 my book went live on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle versions.

How did this make you feel?

Each step of this process has contributed to seeing myself in a new light. In C.S. Lewis’ Lion, Witch, and the Wardobe, Peter describes himself as “just a boy from Finchley.” At various points in the story, he had the opportunity to return to his old life and stop the transformation process. Each time, he bravely chose to move forward and become High King Peter of Narnia. That’s exactly how I’ve felt this past year. All along the way doubt and fear told me I was “just Judy.” Why did I think I had anything to give anyone? Maybe I’d get stuck and stop again, too discouraged or frustrated to finish.

But God’s timing is perfect. I had a message, a helpful framework, encouragement from family, friends, and clients, and a mustard seed’s worth of faith. Finishing the book was exhilarating! Editing and revising was an intimidating chore, but I could see the finish line and I really wanted to see my book in print. The shoot for my author photo and my book signing party were additional pivotal points in this journey. They were opportunities to celebrate my accomplishment and commemorate moving from “just Judy” to Judy Lair, author!

Since the book’s release, I’ve been undergoing a crash course in social media marketing. I expect my primary audience to be my counseling clients and those who attend my speaking engagements. But I know there are a lot of other folks in the world who want to embrace my Roadmap to Freedom model, so I’m learning how to let them know about the book. Once again, God has provided the resources I’ve needed. There have been excellent blogs and books I’ve read related specifically to the Christian population. I’m also very grateful to Lorilyn Roberts and the John316author group for providing information, resources, and encouragement.

Tell us what’s happened with your writing journey since.

I’m super excited to announce my second book, Moving from Fear to Freedom: Stories of Healing and Hope, will be available Spring 2015!

Once again, I’ve taken advantage of the Nanowrimo format and written my 50,000 words. This time my process was a bit different. God gave me a very detailed outline of the contents, so the writing was less intimidating and the editing is going smoothly. Each chapter will address a specific anxiety (PTSD, OCD, Social phobia, etc.) told in story format. Readers will connect to the struggles and find help and hope in the clinical information I provide. Please email me to be put on the mailing list for publication information.

About Judy:

Judy Lair is a licensed counselor and owner of Counselorplace Christian Counseling. She is the author of “From the Other Side of the Couch: A Biblical Counselor’s Guide to Relational Living.” Judy’s personal struggles with fear led her through the valley of hurt and sorrow. She now embraces a joy-filled life grounded in God’s truth and freedom in Christ. Judy uses her professional counseling expertise to tell stories that help people find healing and freedom. Her vulnerable, godly approach helps people find courage to move from Fear to Freedom. For more information or speaking requests, email JudyLair@counselorplace.com or sign up for blog posts at http://judylair.blogspot.com

 

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Melissa McGovern Taylor’s publishing start through Print-on-Demand (POD)

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We indie writers often talk about the breakthroughs we’ve made because of ebook publishing, but we forget to mention what an incredible innovation print-on-demand (POD) publishing for print books was.  My guest today on How I First Published, Melissa McGovern Taylor, got her start with POD publishing and has a very encouraging story. Read on!

What was your first published novel?

My first published novel was The Road to Mercy, a Christian romance I began writing in 2001.

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 Was it a traditional publishing contract or did you go indie?

I decided to go with indie publishing through print-on-demand.

How did that come about?

I’d spent years submitting The Road to Mercy to publishers and agents. I did lots of editing. I finally got so tired of the rejection and bouts of editing and rewriting that I became sick of my own novel! I wanted so badly to hold the published book in my hands. At first, I looked into working with a self-publisher, but I couldn’t afford to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars for boxes and boxes of books. When I found out about CreateSpace in 2010, I was intrigued. I did my homework and discovered that I had the computer skills to do my own book layout. I even have a husband who is a multimedia producer, so he knows photography and graphic design. He created the cover, and I’ve always loved it. I never wanted my book to look like it was self-published, and I’ve always been proud of its professional appearance.

How did this make you feel? Has it been as good as you expected, or a letdown, or exhausting, for example?

Holding the book in my hands was thrilling. I cried a little and had my husband take a picture of me holding it. I was excited, and I honestly felt like a real author. I knew I always was an author, but there’s something about holding that printed book in your hands that gives you that confirmation.

Tell us what’s happened with your writing journey since.

After publishing my first novel, I shared it with family and friends because I had no marketing budget. Their responses were touching. My grandfather ordered something like a dozen copies and gave them out as Christmas gifts! Another family friend did the same thing. Several women in my church read the book and gave me much praise for it. But it wasn’t until 2014, that the miracle of Kindle Direct really expanded my book’s reach. I published my novel digitally and did a freebie weekend. I was astounded at the number of downloads—over 4,000! Then the reviews rolled in. The Road to Mercy now has 44 reviews on Amazon, 32 of which are 5 stars. The funny thing is I can’t seem to give up on this book. Even though it’s published, I still make changes and submit it to agents from time-to-time. I’ve gotten as far as a complete manuscript read-through twice with the same agent! Even if this story never reaches a broader audience, I’ll be happy with this first edition. Since publishing The Road to Mercy, I’ve self-published a Christian YA novel (Enemy of Gideon), and finished a middle grades novella. Currently, I’m splitting my time between writing an MG fantasy novel and an MG historical novel.

Enemy  of Gideon YA Christian novel by POD indie author Melissa McGovern Taylor.

About Melissa:

Melissa McGovern Taylor has been writing fiction since she won her first writing contest as a kid. She’s not a genre writer but a storyteller, so the story might be a romance in North Carolina, a suspense in a post-apocalyptic future, or a fantasy adventure in another realm. She has a BA in writing from Methodist University, and her writing credits include fiction and nonfiction in local, national, and international publications. In 2011, she received a local artist grant for her newest release and first YA novel, Enemy of Gideon. Her short story, “Gabe”, won first place in the Salvation Army Writers Contest in 2013. She lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, with her husband and two children.

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