Today I’m sitting down to chat with my buddy, Lorraine Reguly, since she just recently published her very first book, a collection of short stories about identity, drugs, abuse, death and friendship. It’s called Risky Issues, and deals with many tough issues faced by children, teens and adults. Sound heavy-duty? It is.
Lorraine, tell us what this book means to you. Why was it important to get it out there into the world?
This book is not merely a book of short stories; it is so much more. It is proof that "you can do it if you set your mind to it." In my case, I set my mind toward self-publishing a book. It was important for me to see this venture through to the end because, even though I'll be the first to admit that this was my "practice" book, I wanted to find out what was involved in self-publishing firsthand. Boy, what a process it is - for first-timers like me! There is so much to learn and do! Doing things in the correct order is important. The fact that you can only learn by actually "doing" was a bit tough on me, too, as I had tried to "research" the "how-to" aspect of self-publishing and garner as much knowledge as I could while simultaneously trying to complete each step of the way. (Finding beta readers, waiting for feedback, editing the stories, finding a cover designer, formatting the book, etc. are all steps that need to be completed, as you know.)
What was the first thing that compelled you to start writing? How old were you?
I've always enjoyed putting pen to paper. By age 6, I was reading everything I could get my hands on, and writing cursive, thanks to the teachings of my mother, a former elementary school teacher. I can remember getting in trouble in Grade One for writing within one line (on lined paper) when my classmates were learning to print within TWO! I can also remember reading by the illumination of the streetlight outside my bedroom window when I was a child, at night, after my parents ordered, "Lights out!" I've always enjoyed reading, have a love for words, have a superb grasp of the English language (I guess that's why I make such a good freelance editor!), and kept journals (diaries) for most of my life. Writing is just something I love doing, and I think I love writing because I love reading so much.
We know you had some tragic and abusive experiences in your own life; how does writing help you to process and heal?
Writing has always helped me to organize my thoughts and emotions. Dealing with the complete and utter devastation I experienced as a teenager was not easy for me. Many years passed before I told anyone that I was raped. When I sought counselling, I learned a few coping methods - including writing - but somehow writing was always the thing that comforted me the most, as I had been writing all along. The fact that I can create beautiful things from mere words - like the poem that's included in Risky Issues - provides me with a sense of accomplishment and worthiness that I didn't have as a teenager. Plus, knowing that my words can touch and help others offers me a sense of happiness and peace.
Give us a brief rundown of your self-publishing process. What steps did you take? Who helped you to reach this milestone?
Wow. I don't know that I can be brief here, Melissa! First of all, my "process" involved learning about the existence of self-publishing - mainly from you, when you revealed all!
Once I found out about it, I then:
*asked my blog readers if they would like to read some short stories ("Yes, bring them on!")
*bought Word 2013 for my laptop
*typed in my short stories
*found beta readers (including you)
*edited my stories using their feedback
*sought guidance from Sue and Joel Caulfield about where and how to publish my book (not that I didn't trust you, but I wanted to be sure that the information I was receiving was sound)
*kept doing my research and read a ton of blog posts about self-publishing until I was convinced it was something I'd like to try
*tried to get a cover created - and went through a few designers
*finally found one to create one for a reasonable fee
*applied for an ISBN (free for me, because I live in Canada and am Canadian)
*tried to format my manuscript for Amazon
*sought help in an indie author Facebook group
*received formatting assistance from Rich Meyer, who put the finishing touches on it
*uploaded it to Amazon
*realized there was one tiny error, tried to fix it and did, then uploaded a new file
*wondered if I needed a new ISBN number because it was a new file (YES)
*added my poem to the ebook in such a way that I didn't have to mess around with more formatting
*obtained a new ISBN for it, added it to the file, and then uploaded it to Amazon for the third and final time I also added it to Goodreads and have plans to add it to Smashwords once it's formatted for them (the formatting is different there).
Now that you've been through this process, what advice would you give other writers who are looking to self-publish?
*Join indie author groups and interact with as many indies as possible!
*Follow my blog(s) because I will be relating my experiences so that I can help others!
*Don't be afraid to ask questions. Indies are helpful and share their knowledge quite freely!
*Do your research.
*Find beta readers you can trust to be honest and critical of your writing.
*Realize that this will take a ton of time. Don't expect things to happen quickly.
*Start a blog if you don't have one already.
*Get on social media. Engage, engage, engage! You will need them to help you spread the word about your books when they're published!
*Make sure your book is perfect before uploading to Amazon. It's a pain to change things after the fact.
*Don't get discouraged. Believe in yourself. Hire someone to help you if you need it.
*Realize that all good things take time. (Yes, I know I said this already. I want to make sure others realize I'm not kidding.)
*Use one of my secrets to kick-starting your writing success! (Both are free.)
What's next in your writing career?
A vacation! (I wish.)Seriously? Promoting my book - which will also take many people and a ton of time.I'm also working on two other writing projects: an autobiographical memoir and a collection of letters written to my son. Letters to Julian is scheduled to be released in December. I also have plans to write and publish different works of fiction, including a suspense novel and an erotica novella or two. Who knows how long that will take, though?!
Anything else you want to add?
Yes! Thank you so much for being a mentor to me for the last twelve months or so. You've been a huge support, a wonderful friend, a fountain of information, and a shiny guiding light who has helped inspire me to go after my dreams. I want you to know that I appreciate ALL you've done and shared with me. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you very much. Also, I'd love it if readers visited my new author site, Lorraine Reguly: Laying It Out There or subscribed to my Author Newsletter, gave my author page a "Like" on Facebook (and did the same thing with my writing and editing services page!), followed me on Twitter, connected with me on Google+ (on either my regular profile or my author page), became a fan on Goodreads, followed some of my Pinterest boards, or told me to take a "chill pill" because I sound like I'm begging to connect with others. ;) Oh yeah, one last thing. Buy Risky Issues today!
Thanks, Lorraine, both for stopping by and for sharing your hard-won experience and perspective with us. We hope the book becomes a best-seller and carries your important message out into the world.