I self-published Out Of The Dark (Book 1 of The Revenge Series) last year. I am now writing the second book, Into the Light, and discuss what I have learned and why I will not embark on the third book, Back To the Dark, unless I find an agent/publisher.
What a steep learning curve. The hardest part of the whole process from initial concept to market is the editing task. I wrote the first book in less than a year and took at least two years to edit. Even then, it was still not right (although somewhat oblivious to this fact until I invested in Grammarly and ProWritingAid) but went ahead and published anyway. On reflection, this is one of the most important aspects of self-publishing. Mistakes are glaringly obvious to the reader. As such, it may be worth investing in a professional proofreader/editor before the launch. However, this can cost a lot of money. An alternative solution is to use technological aids to check the manuscript and/or find beta readers. Do not self-publish until this process is complete. I re-edited the first book a year after publication, which drives you completely insane, but I feel more confident with good reviews by my industry peers:
Out with the novel itself, I find book marketing a challenge. It is important to support the launch with a substantial social media presence. I built this up over the last year to include my website, Facebook, Twitter, 500px, Scriggler platform, extra-curricular writing (poetry) and Instagram. I am just at the start of my campaign and realise it will take time to build the Marshall Hughes brand. I have come to some kind of acceptance that there is not a quick fix, and as such, tackle the journey with less angst about the whole process.
Into The Light (December 2018)
With the first book on the market supported by my social media presence, I like writing the second book. I use Grammarly for an on-the-spot check and also ProWritingAid to go over the manuscript in more detail before proceeding to the next chapter. In the first novel, I spent a lot of time on the characters, background, development, context and plot but now feel I can focus on the storyline. The readers know the context and characters, just by a single word or gesture, so this book is to the point, fast in pace, and the plot thickens as the story continues, creating tension, drama and further insight into the disturbing mind of a sophisticated but delusional serial killer. For the first time in a long time, the writing process is exciting.
Back To The Dark (Never Say Never)
I deliberately changed The Revenge Trilogy to The Revenge Series as I decided to wrap up the ‘series’ after the second book. However… and yes, there is a however, I may change my mind, if, I find an agent/publisher. Therefore, at the end of Book 2, I leave a question mark over the fate of my main character. With the web of lies surrounding him in turmoil, the transition from a missionary killer to one of complete insanity emerges. I do hope that sometime in the future, I will continue with the book series.
Self-publishing v Agent/Publisher
This has been one hell of a journey. Through the highs, lows, elation and angst, book writing/marketing is not for the faint-hearted. It challenges all of your creative capabilities, writing skills and confidence levels to the limit. However, there is something sadistically enthralling about the whole process. At the moment, help from an agent/publisher seems like a distant dream. Once I finish Into The Light, instead of having to build up marketing platforms and advertise my own book(s), I will focus on finding an agent, again. This time I am ready. This time I have more knowledge of the process and this time, I feel more confident. The Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook is a fantastic place to start or if you are interested, online agents/publishers.