It’s been a little over a month since I officially launched my first novel but I still can’t quite believe it really happened. Now that things have settled down a bit, my feelings have vacillated from extremely high (OMG, my dream came true! I am now a legit author!) to chill and steady (You’ve been working so hard the past few months—it’s time to relax!) to downright panic (What do I do next? How do I keep the momentum going? I need to work harder. Aaaah!!!)
Being an author (and a freelance writer, for that matter) is certainly a nerve-wracking job. It can also be quite lonely, since you’re often stuck at your desk just pounding out words for hours on end. That’s why a strong support group is essential for one’s mental and emotional health. If there’s one thing I learned from this whole experience, it’s that I am very lucky to have people cheering me on. I may have written the words to my story, but I never would have been able to do it without the help of a few marvelous people.
Consider this post an extension of the acknowledgements page in my book… and for other newbie authors reading this, I hope this post helps you find your people too!
1. An excellent editor
When I wrote the first draft of this book as part of a #RomanceClass workshop in 2015, I didn’t really know what I was doing. I knew the basics of creating an outline and developing a story, but it wasn’t enough to write an amazing novel. It’s true what they say—the first draft always sucks! And that’s where a good editor comes in. She will review your novel with a sharp and critical eye, combing it for errors and plot holes. That is exactly what Ines Bautista-Yao did. I have to admit, it wasn’t easy to hear some of her critiques. But in the end, I’m glad she was tough on me. It took several rewrites on my part, but she never let me rest until I had a novel I could be proud of. And when people finally read the finished product, some of the things they said they liked were actually points that Ines told me to improve on.
2. A professional book designer
I’m not a graphic artist or an illustrator so I knew I needed someone to design my book cover. My editor Ines recommended Miles Tan so I checked out her portfolio and it was definitely impressive. I already had an idea about what I wanted my book cover to look like so I sent her some pegs and she executed them wonderfully. She was also very professional and a fast worker—essential when you’re trying to beat a deadline! She also laid out the inside pages, designed my marketing materials, and indulged my OC-ness by fixing all the typos I spotted up to the last minute.
3. Beta readers who are familiar with your genre
Aside from sending the book to my editor, it also helped to send my novel to actual readers for review. For the very first draft, my beta readers consisted of my sister Liza, my cousin Alyanna, and my good friends Maida and Marla, who willingly read the book and gave me feedback on how to improve the story. For the reworked draft, Ines suggested I send it to friends from #RomanceClass, a community of authors and readers of romance novels written by Filipinos.
4. A good proofreader
Even though you and your editor have read your book multiple times, there will still be typos in the manuscript. That’s where a good proofreader comes in. Luckily, I have friends who are wordsmiths! Micah and April went through my novel and spotted a lot of errors Ines and I missed.
5. A reliable printer
Ms. Joy of JMD Copy & Prints was also recommended by the #RomanceClass group. I can still remember the first time I got the proof copy of my book—what a thrill it was to hold that baby in my hands! And she got the colors right on the first proof so I didn’t even have to make any changes. I’ve asked her to reprint three times already and she always delivered the books on time and in good condition. She threw in some free bookmarks too!
6. A stellar launch team
Before launching my book, I gave away a few copies to romance readers and book bloggers for review. Ideally, they should also be able to post a review on Amazon during launch day. Unfortunately, Amazon keeps changing the rules and this is something I’m still learning about. For instance, people can only review if they’ve purchased at least $50 on the site using a valid credit or debit card in the past 12 months. So while I didn’t get a lot of reviews on Amazon, I did get some buzz online through reviewers who posted on their blogs (see: Literary Treats, The Backwards Bookshelf, Bookbed, and Brain Tabs), Goodreads, and social media (check out the hashtag #LoveAtFirstRunBook on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram). Most of the feedback has been good so far. Don’t get me wrong, the reviews definitely pointed out things I could improve on, but I appreciate how they said it in a clear and constructive manner.
7. A community of fellow authors and book lovers
I’ve mentioned them several times already, but I really could not have finished and launched my book without the help of the #RomanceClass community. Founder Mina V. Esguerra conducted the workshop where I wrote the first draft of this book and she has also been so accommodating with answering my questions as a newbie author. Every time I attend a #RomanceClass event, from writing workshops to live readings, I always feel inspired and encouraged to keep on writing. And when I finally launched my book at #FeelsFest2018 last April, the community welcomed my book with open arms.
8. The most enthusiastic friends
I really wasn’t planning on having my own book launch, but my #TeamGH friends, Tisha and Elaine, convinced me otherwise. And when I sent out the invitations, my friends came to buy the book and show their support—even those I hadn’t seen in a long time. I felt so loved and overwhelmed. Even the people who couldn’t make it expressed their support. A special shoutout goes to my Canada-based friend Jaclyn, who featured my book several times on her blog, LiteraryTreats.com, and even sent her dad to my book launch to represent her!
9. A loving and supportive family
Ever since I was a child, my mom and dad have been supportive of my writing career. When I told them I wanted to have a book launch, they gladly sponsored the food. (Thank you, Mama and Papa!) My aunts and uncles bought multiple copies, thus the need to reprint. My sister Liza and cousin Adrian agreed to read an excerpt from the book, wherein my main characters Diana and Josh join a zombie run in Laguna (view the video below or on Vimeo). And of course, my hubby Roland has always been my number one fan (even though he hasn’t actually read the book. Haha!).
10. Kind and loyal readers
I’ve been writing articles for magazines and websites for a long time and didn’t really care what other people thought about them. But I’ve always felt self-conscious about my fiction because my stories are very personal. Even if they are not necessarily about me, I feel like a piece of my soul is in all the stories I write. For the longest time, I’ve been so scared to share my stories with the world for fear of being judged or harshly critiqued. But this whole process of writing, editing, and self-publishing a book gave me more confidence to put my work out there. And it’s all thanks to the people who read my book and told me what they thought about it. As J.K. Rowling said, “No story lives unless someone wants to listen.” And I am beyond grateful to all the people who listened and read my story. Because of you, Love At First Run lives.