I surprised myself this year by doing things that I didn't think I wanted to or was too shy to do. As the year draws to a close, I’m glad that after a crappy last year, I still managed to make this year slightly better by taking chances.
1) Taking part in discussions: In the beginning of the year, I received an email from my editor that stirred up emotions inside of me. Okay, usually I like to take a backseat and follow up on discussions as an audience rather than a participator. The email was sent to the other authors in the publishing house too and thus began a long discussion where I actually learnt a lot.
The email that sparked this discussion was about us authors not doing enough to promote our books. I remember reading the email and getting slightly angry as I had been putting more hours promoting my books than writing. In fact I had put my new novel (which I have still not completed) on hold because I wanted to give all my books the chance they deserved.
Who knew promoting could be so hard? I've pretty much joined every social network in the world and only few of them have actually proved to be fruitful. So when the email called for joining a few more websites, I kind of snapped. The problem with joining new websites is that you also receive a lot of unwanted emails. Yes, there’s a spam folder, but it was driving me crazy.
So for the very first time, I decided to reply to the email and tell my editor exactly what I thought as politely as possible. I get that authors are required to promote our own books, but what about our writing? Where are we going to find the time to that if we spend literally all our time promoting? I really am proud to be an author of Club Lighthouse Publishing as they have given me my very first chance to become a published author, but I seriously wish they could have helped me with promoting my books too.
Anyway, ideas were thrown in from every author and I actually got to use my Marketing degree by coming up with some good ideas too. Whether or not they will be implemented in the future or not, who knows? I also got to interact with the other authors and learn a few things.
So overall, it was a very engaging discussion and I’m glad I stood up for myself and put my points forward too.
2) Started to write Fanfiction: After all this was over, I suffered a writer’s block and couldn't work on my novel. Plus, I was stuck a little bit with the plot. However, the itch to write remained and I didn't think it was a good idea to start working on an entirely new novel as I would get too distracted and not return to the first one.
I have read fanfiction before but I never thought of writing my very own before as I believed it wouldn't be productive and I wouldn't learn anything from it. As a writer, I want to constantly learn something new and improve my writing skills. I thought of fanfiction as something the opposite.
I have to admit I was wrong. Writing fanfiction is challenging too. The only thing that is slightly easier is that the characters are well loved so you don’t have to put in a lot of hard work trying to create a completely likable character. Any character you do create is paired opposite a well loved one and through ‘their’ interactions, the made up character also becomes more interesting to the reader.
I’m a huge fan of the Assassin Creed games and so I began writing my very first story with Ezio as the protagonist. It started off a bit clunky and I was apprehensive- what if my readers didn't like my writing or the way I had written Ezio; an already popular character.
As I wrote, I kept dreading the reviews and a part of me didn't even want any. But then I received my first review and then another and another and all of them were positive. Phew!
Okay sure I did receive one or two that offered constructive criticism, but I was eager to learn and I took note of it and made sure I didn't make the same mistakes again. By the time I had finished my first story, I had quite a few followers and a lot of positive reviews.
I like to think my writing has improved since then. I got to learn a lot and practice my writing. The one thing I’m sure all writers love is to have their work read and appreciated and I got that! I can’t wait to go back to writing another fanfic.
3) I went to my very first Rock Concert: There are plenty of international artists coming over to Dubai, but I hadn't been to even one concert. My response to anyone who asked was that I would only go to a concert if Daughtry ever came to Dubai.
Wish granted! The concert was in my birthday week and I couldn't have asked for a better gift. I had to sit for almost three hours in Friday traffic, but I eventually made it to the concert and it was an amazing experience.
I love all the songs, but I had a few favorites which were unfortunately not played L
Nevertheless, I screamed, I sang and had an amazing time. Best concert ever!
4) Self-publishing: This was something I didn't really want to get into first. But this year has been a lot of firsts for me and this one was going to be too.
I had heard about Smashwords and Amazon KDP, but I was already an author at CLP, so I didn't really think that I needed to try this out. I don’t even remember why I decided to in the end but I’m guessing it had probably something to do with the discussion in the beginning of the year that changed my mind. Also, there was an article in the paper that made me put away all my reservations about self-publishing.
I want to give my writing and my works their best shot. So I decided to try it out with Amazon first. I chose one of my stories I had already written and hadn't sent off to any publishers yet. After carefully formatting it and designing up the cover, I put it up. (Check it out here)
After a few weeks, I decided to try out Smashwords too and made a collection of all the short stories I had written over the years. The cover for this was slightly easier to create than the one for Amazon. (Check it out here)
Another few weeks later, I dug up my first prepared manuscript and edited it. This went up on both sites separately. (Check it out here and here)
I guess I still have to wait to find out if self-publishing is a better option for me or not.
5) Learning new skills: This came up when I decided to go for self-publishing. I never thought I would one day need Photoshop skills before. If I had learnt it a long time ago, I wouldn't have gone through so much trouble now. Comparatively, editing and formatting my book for Amazon and even Smashwords, was easier than preparing an enticing book cover.
I had the vision for what I wanted the covers to look like, but lacked the skills. I can only hope I've done a passable job.
Another thing I learned was while formatting for Smashwords. I took Word’s features for granted, but when the formatting asked for stripping all the Automatic features, I got frustrated and was thinking of giving up. It turned out, that I was over-stressing it. My book was converted successfully according to the results and formatting my second one was fairly easier. A lot of stress for nothing!
6) Blogging: And last but not least, I decided to delete my older blogs and choose Blogger instead. As much as I loved the older blogs on the Weebly site, I kept getting a lot of spam. Blogger may not have as many features as Weebly, but it definitely has a better feel and saving options.
I had encountered a few problems in Weebly where the posts wouldn't save and I would have to refresh the whole thing, only to have my post disappear. And I hadn't even saved it!!!
Blogger at least saves posts as drafts.
This was my year. Not a lot of notable things happened, but way better than the previous ones and I’m so glad I took a few chances and learned new things.