Writing chickens come home to roost


When you’re writing a book, especially one that took a very long time to write, such as Pride’s Children (Book 1), and you really, really want to get back to writing, so as to get Book 2 moving, and return to that nice quiet place where all you face every day is the blank computer screen, and you’ve done that many thousand times before, and know you can, you find that there are all these little details you’ve sent flying every time they showed their feathered heads while you were writing – and they’ve come home to Mamma.

I’m sure that’s true whether this is when you start querying agents, or whether you have plans to do it yourself, but to write I have to be in a bubble.

The key is PREPARATION – but you have to DO it, not just read about it

I have hundreds, maybe more, blog posts by other writers bookmarked: covers, marketing, editing services or self-editing instructions, online Twitter/FaceBook/website/blog presence, formatting, layout… The list goes on.

I’m sure the list of things I have to do now is finite – at some point you throw ‘the product’ up on Amazon as ‘finished’ as you can get it for now, and then your words must live on their own, and people may love them or use you and them for target practice.

But it doesn’t seem like a finite list when I look at the material I’ve accumulated which I intended all along to go back to, ‘after I finished writing.’

The after is now, and it’s daunting.

Future shock, present shock

I have other things to write, besides fiction.

I even go back to all the semi-coherent blog post starts I’ve been writing – and have trouble figuring out why I bothered to write those words which were supposed to get me started on what seemed like a good idea for a post – 6 months ago.

They seem pathetic, boring, uninteresting, banal.

I know it’s shock: the future HAS arrived, and it has a lot more details to it than I allowed myself to think about back then, when I DIDN’T want to let things distract me.

The problem of perspective

When you write, you are a god. Minor, but definitely in control. This is even more true when it’s the first universe you’ve been god to (for the record, it’s my second – there IS a trunk novel with intriguing bits…). Feel free to laugh at me.

When you publish, well, then you’re just another wannabe, competing with potentially millions of other writers, better writers, more established writers, writers who have publishers that market for them and edit them and design their book covers and spend lots and lots of money promoting their latest book…

Oh, wait. That is the old model. The one I’ve promised myself to eschew because there is no way I’m going to attract their attention.

So, on the self-published side, is it easier? Nope. Here you have to compete with all the SP writers who KNOW WHAT THEY’RE DOING.

Fortunately, many of them are wonderful folk who have shared how in books and websites and blogs.

There are services – people happy to take your money and do all these things for you. I just don’t count myself able and competent to navigate finding them, employing them, and interacting with them – it takes a lot of work to be an employer.

So instead I commit to LEARNING how to do all this stuff. With my brain – they wouldn’t give me a loaner.

Is that all? Nope.

Oh, and the worst part? You now have to go do something completely out of your comfort zone: GETTING A HEAD SHOT OF A SMILING YOU (or whatever) which will adorn the flap, the blog, and the author page on Amazon.

Bringing up the final point: Yup. You have to describe you and your writing and your book – to your prospective millions of adoring fans.

If these two don’t make you crawl in a hole and pull it in after you, I have no idea what will.

Please enlighten me.


11 thoughts on “Writing chickens come home to roost

  1. J.M. Ney-Grimm

    All the publishing tasks can get done one at a time. It can feel like they are rushing you in a group. That’s because you could work on the cover now, or you could work on the blurb now, or even the author bio. Since any one of those tasks could be first in line, it feels like they all are. But they are not. Just pick one and focus on it. When it is done, or as far along as you can manage for now, pick the next one and work on it. You will get to them all in time, just as you eventually made to the end of writing Book 1. 😀


    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      That is exactly what I’m finding! I work on one, and when it gets hard (which is why it’s not DONE), the brain keeps shoving a new candidate forward: “Here! Work on this instead! It’ll be easier!”

      Only it isn’t easier.

      With the writing, there came a pattern to the creation: gather all the bits, evaluate and organize a path through the material, WRITE, polish. Obviously, I couldn’t polish until I had gathered, etc.

      With the jobs that have to be done now, there is no obvious order.

      I started with some self-discipline yesterday – and am going to work on that description until it is done. I don’t care how hard it is, and how much the cover screams, “Do me!”

      But it would help if the description cooperated a bit!


      1. J.M. Ney-Grimm


        I usually work up a complete version of the blurb, because I find the blurb to be the most challenging piece of publishing a book. Then I do the cover, which is fun. Then I look at the blurb again, and realize that it isn’t as good as I thought it was when I “finished” it. So I work on it until I’m satisfied.

        Then I realize that there are a few elements of the cover that aren’t quite right. The “J” in my byline needs to have a slightly shorter tail for that particular font. Or a longer tail. 😀 And the cloak of the skier isn’t positioned quite right. So I make those tweaks and pour the blurb onto the back cover.

        And then I realize that the blurb still isn’t right. So I work on it some more.

        Then I think I am ready, and I format the ebook, because that is very straight forward.

        Then I realize the blurb needs one more tweak, and I make it.

        And then – finally – everything is ready, and I upload the files and hit publish.

        So I do circle back to tweak or rework the different steps, but I always get each to what I think is finished, before I move on to the next one. Well…except the blurb. I’ll often know that the first attempt or the second still isn’t right, but I have to give my back brain time to work on it.

        Once the book is live, I “claim” it on my Author Central account, and then use Author Central to add formatting to the blurb. KDP doesn’t have any capability for bold or italics. The blurb proper doesn’t usually need those, but I include review excerpts in my blurbs, and those do require formatting to look their best. Thus, Author Central.

        All of that is just for the ebook. There is another workflow for the paperback.


        1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

          This is perfect – and it’s what I seem to be starting on: the description is going to be key, but I WILL have more cuts at it.

          PLEASE – make this information – exactly as above – a blog post of yours so I can reference is, bookmark it, and recommend it. I’d much rather link to your post than one of my comments.

          Thanks – from someone with your experience, this is so helpful. After so many books, you have it down to a process – without expecting perfection on a single step of it.


  2. donnainthesouth

    I have a friend who throws them up like nothing, it seems; says make sure you always get a proof copy and if you decide anything’s wrong you can always just change it – she loves this new world of self-publishing!


    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      I’ll get it up, all right, but I will agonize over everything. ‘Just change it’ means it didn’t quite pass muster when I put it up, and I’d prefer to throw it up there, and get back to writing, not have to keep fixing typos and formatting. We’ll see.

      Your friend has experience – that should make it easier. Ask me in five years.

      But I love the concept of being able to do it myself.


  3. juliabarrett

    Good luck with all that. Cynicism talking. It will be okay. Focus on one thing at a time. Oh, I never feel like a god. I feel like a servant. Except when we had cats. With the cats I was the goddess of the can opener.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      I am the servant of the chinchilla. All she has to do is look cute for a while every day. While sitting on my arm accepting treats for giving me her paw.

      For heaven’s sake, I grow fresh wheatgrass for her.

      It WILL be done, and if it isn’t okay, it CAN be changed. It’s just a very long list. I’m spending my day going AARGH! while trying to write a good description.

      Don’t worry; I expect to get comments here before daring to upload. For everything. Publicly, or, if I don’t dare, privately.

      Liked by 2 people


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