Guest Blog: Brittney Divine

I met this amazing author earlier this year when I reviewed and read her novel. Her creativity is new, bold, and sultry. This week, she offered to give us all some insight into the world of self-publishing. I wanted to take a moment to thank Brittney for the honor of taking the time and effort to do a guest blog for my site. Without further adieu…meet Brittney!

Brittney L. Divine is the pseudonym of romance author Bontheia Richardson. Raised in rural North Carolina, she dreamed of faraway lands. Determined to create an existence that was full of all the exhilaration that life could bring, Brittney joined the U.S Navy but medical issues put an end to her military career and forced her to readjust to civilian life. To her dismay, normal activities were not nearly exciting enough to keep a sailor occupied. No longer able to physically resume her travels, Brittney began to read romance and fantasy but found that too was insufficient. She self-published her own paranormal romance, Web of Seduction, in February of 2019 and now lives just as vicariously as she once did through her imaginary characters, finally understanding that true freedom is really a product of the mind, not the body.

It blows my skirt up

An indie publishers tale, by Brittney L. Divine

Have you ever heard the saying, ‘whatever blows your skirt up’? Maybe getting a book deal with a large publishing house will cause the soft breeze to slide up your frock and tickle your… Ahem, you get the picture.

Well in 2018 I finished my first novel, Web of Seduction, and realized that I needed to decide if I was going to go the traditional route or self publish, but I’m a practical girl. I was forty-five and it takes time to get someone to publish your book. I decided to do it myself, and that’s what caused a swift wind to come in and blow my skirt up! It wasn’t easy and it was scary as hell but I did it.

Let me first provide a disclaimer. I couldn’t even sell Girl Scout cookies when I was little. Advertising is a whole other beast. I’m simply talking about the publishing itself and how it makes me feel like the hot and sassy girl that I am. Now let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of self-publishing.

Everyone and their mama says, “hire a professional editor”, and I agree. However, those folks are not as broke as I am. I didn’t have a thousand dollars lying around to pay an editor, only to find that the book might not sell a measly fifty copies. I had to do it myself.

This is the second disclaimer. As I said, I don’t recommend editing your own book, but sometimes you just have to bite the bullet if that’s all you have. When I started writing one of the first things that I did was find an editing program. Yes, yes, Word does spell-check and punctuation but I wasn’t writing a term paper. It was a book! I needed something else as well and found Grammarly. It’s free, and between that, Word, and reading aloud; I got it done. I also went to the internet, read articles, watched videos, and tried to learn.

Listen well because this is important. When you learn, learn from the best. Aside from articles, I found videos of lectures and Q&As done by some of the greatest authors of our generation. One of these fabulous wordsmiths said that when he finishes his books he puts the first draft away for about six months before doing any editing. It gives your eyes a chance to refresh and will help allow you to see the mistakes better.

Hell’s bells! People can croak in six months and then what? Dream demolished. I put mine down for two weeks at a time and did it in stages.

Then I needed a cover. A cover is not just a pretty picture. It must scream, “Stop and look at me!” If you have the money, hiring someone is great but I’m a disabled veteran, so once again, I had to do my own.

You see the pattern now? I knew you would. Go on with your smart self.

Looking at other authors in my genre gave me ideas. I also knew that I couldn’t just go willy nilly and put any photo on the cover of my book. Copyright laws come into play and I didn’t want to get sued. It’s a good thing there are so many stock photo sites online. I used Depositphotos which require a subscription but I also used free sites like Pixabay. All of Pixabay’s photos are free for commercial use. It’s also a good idea to credit the photographer but it’s not required.

Another shocker for me was that photos didn’t just come as I pictured them in my head. I had to do a little photoshopping. Graphics software can be a pain in the ass. I use GIMP because it’s free. The only problem is that it’s a bit complicated. It took me four days to figure out the simple things, such as placing my title on the cover, but I’ll be damned if a program was going to whip my ass. I learned and did the cover myself.

Once I had my book and cover I needed to upload it onto the sites of my choice by following their format. Amazon makes it pretty simple with Kindle Create and other sites make an effort to simplify it as well. Calibre is a program that will turn your Word docx. into epub and mobi. files but I’ve found that many sellers will do that for you.

I had to read their terms carefully. I write paranormal romance and sellers have rules on explicit content. Also, I had to know when I was getting paid. I’m no sucker. Once the uploading was done then, voila, I was a published author.

As for me, I put my book on presale and then told everyone I could. I typed in a search for blogs of my genre. I recommend Jen, the wonderful lady who runs this blog. She gives honest reviews and they are hard to come by. Reviewers are difficult to find for new authors because they are in high demand and can only read so many books at a time. Some reviewers are backed up for months, but make no mistake, reviews are like gold to an author.

I thought of using Facebook but Amazon doesn’t allow your family and friends to post reviews and they will find out. I don’t know how they know. Maybe they’re witches or something because they do pull reviews for it. Just kidding about the witches but trust me they find out.

I’m currently building up a following on social media, plan to create my own blog, and try to communicate with as many authors as will talk to me. I get as much advice from the pros as possible and find as much information as I can.

My book went on sale on February 10th and I thought that I was done. WRONG! I had just begun.  I’m continuing to ask for reviews, finding sites that will allow me to do interviews, and posting the links to them on social media so people can check it out. I need exposure.

One lesson that I have learned is an indie writer never stops working. I have to force myself to take a day off and that’s usually only one per week. No one is pushing me but writing is what I love and I want to put out books. One has to take the good with the bad.

When my laptop broke I didn’t have the money for one but as soon as I got paid it was first on my list. I didn’t even eat until I purchased it. Driven is what you must be. It’s not for sissys with tender feelings that are easily hurt. Everyone is a critic and you need them to become a better writer.

What I want to say last is that becoming an author was my dream. I didn’t know it at first but once I figured that out no one could stop me. In my whole life, it’s the one thing that I have done to the best of my ability and no matter what, that makes me proud and happy.

Everyone needs a purpose and I’ve found mine.  People always say that in love making you ‘find a person’s spot’, well indie publishing is my spot. I can’t tell you whether to go indie or traditional. All I can say is that it made me feel like I could do anything and that is the reward. So put on your big girl panties, get out there, and try it. It just might blow your skirt up too.

Check out my book Web of Seduction by clicking the link:

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