Age eight, that’s about when I decided I wanted to be an author. I’d looked at other options, but the idea of prancing around on my toes all day as ballerinas have to do just wasn’t appealing. What about a nurse, or a veterinarian perhaps? All rejected for reasons I can’t clearly remember. I wrote an essay for English class and my teacher praised my creativity and told me how much she’d enjoyed my story. I was so delighted that she’d enjoyed it that I wanted to write more, to touch other’s lives with my words.
So began a lifelong pilgrimage to become a published author, with a few meanderings that led me off course a time or two, but always, I’ve returned to it. The hardest part, I think, is writing your book. I must have reread and reworked my novel a hundred times and, each time I read it, I would make further changes. The idea of sharing it with the world, this little part of my soul that I’d so lovingly crafted, was hardest of all.
At last, after a five-year stint of picking it up, putting it down, reworking, rewording, hammering here, shaving there, tweaking this way and that way, I felt it was finally ready to be published. I originally braved the traditional route. I approached publishers, printed out expensive copies of my novel and sent it to exotic destinations the world over. I even paid money to a so-called editor, otherwise known as a ‘preditor’, though I did not know it at the time, to critique my work and to set up a web page for a poetry collection I’d worked on separately. This company was extremely helpful and professional in its approach, promising to send my manuscript off to various publishers as a literary agency. Once my money was paid, however, their efficiency and constant updates faded and they stopped responding to my mails.
I learnt an expensive lesson. After the fact, I Googled the company name and found page after page listing them as scam artists. Please, authors, do yourselves a favour. If you are looking for a literary agent, Google them first. Do some research. It could save you not only money, but heartache. On the traditional publisher front, I found very few who were willing to read unsolicited manuscripts. You needed a literary agent. The good ones had full client lists and only wanted to take on proven authors who had had sales in the past. It seemed a catch 22 situation. Those publishers who did respond commended me on my writing style and content, but what I’d written wasn’t quite right for their market. I was encouraged to continue my search, which was heartening, to say the least.
I began looking at alternatives. I discovered Lulu and posted my works of poetry under the title Musings of a Bard. A career change to editor and proofreader led me to work with Vanessa Finaughty, a well-known horror and fantasy writer who hails from my home city, Cape Town. Through her, I discovered Vanessa Finaughty Books, a wonderful writer’s resource, and Smashwords, a self-publishing service. Here, I found a home for my novel, The Harpy Chronicles – The Namari, Book I. I have since unpublished Musings of a Bard, as I want to reformat it and make it available on Smashwords as well.
Formatting. This was, for me, the most annoying part of the process. Although pretty straightforward, it just seemed to take forever. I did, however, follow the Smashwords formatting guidelines rigorously, as I didn’t want any hassles with it. Should you, like me, not want to hassle with formatting issues, you can use one of Fireblade Publishers’ affiliates, Darla Mittler Document Magic, to make things a lot easier for yourself.
Before submitting your work, take the time and effort to do a self-edit. This is of the utmost importance. How will a reader take your work seriously if you don’t take the time to check for basic spelling and grammar mistakes? Read your work before you send it out for editing or proofreading, or consider it ready to publish. Take the time to have it professionally edited by a publishing services company like Fireblade Publishers. The expense to you will be well worth it. This important step in the process should not be overlooked, by any means. The human mind tends to skip over self-made errors whilst reading your own work, so there’s no guarantee once you’ve completed your self-edit that you didn’t miss some fairly glaring errors.
Overall, I’ve found my experience with Smashwords to be positive and rewarding. I’m a proud indie author. A writer always writes and, of course, I’m currently working on my self-edit for the second book in The Harpy Chronicles. I believe that adopting a positive, ‘can do’ attitude when it comes to your writing will make all the difference. E-books and self-publishing are not for everyone, but I feel strongly it’s the wave of the future, as I can tell you that you’ll reap the bulk of the rewards when it comes to collecting your pay cheque. It’s easy, it’s far more accessible than traditional publishing and it places the power firmly in the author’s hands.
Born in the shadow of beautiful Table Mountain, as a child Aneza believed each glittering dewdrop was a fairy diamond and the stars were divine guardians who guided her along her path. There is a magic in the air of this wild land called Africa and she has tried to suffuse her writing with it.
She loves the written word and believes there is much to learn, and to teach, through this medium about human nature and the world we share. Her passion for writing has led her to become not only a published author, but an editor whose passion is helping fellow authors to realise their dreams of publication.