I've Published a Book!
Hello, everyone! It's been a very long time since I wrote a post for this website. I've been busy: four years ago, I wound down my freelance writing and transcription work for all but a handful of long-term clients, and started a small business making handmade natural bath and body care products and gift baskets. At first I started out mostly selling at Toronto-area farmer's markets, where I built a small but loyal following while trying to build up our online presence at saltzbaths.com and on my Etsy shop. And then the pandemic handed us a bittersweet gift: with the closure of many outdoor and indoor markets coinciding with the closure of just about everything else, more people than ever began to discover us online. The year 2020 saw a 1,000x increase in our online sales and for a very long time I was too busy to do anything but make soap. And sometimes, blog about it.
Then came a very sudden and shocking separation from my husband of ten years, and a very chaotic, emotionally fraught year of single momming: navigating home-schooling, lockdowns, vaccine passports and mandates, and trying to build my business in a new location amid a supply chain meltdown and some of the harshest COVID restrictions in the Western Hemisphere (spoiler alert: they aren't working).
So, what do you do when it feels like the world as you know it is imploding? You could write a book.
The fulfillment of a dream
I had always wanted to write a book, and have a few false starts under my belt from about twenty years ago. But the publishing industry in Canada was small, insular and parochial even then, and probably much more so now as readership and funding dwindle and self-published titles flood the markets. With so few Canadian titles published by the majors each year, publishers are becoming increasingly laser focused on the precise types of books and voices they are looking for. Also, there was the significant problem that I didn't really know how to write a book. So, twenty years ago, my queries and pitches were naturally met with a lacklustre response which I found very discouraging - not just because publishers weren't lining up to sign a contract, but because I knew that without solid guidance and editing, I wasn't producing a very good product.
All that changed when I decided to write a non-fiction account of how I'd ended up with a life in crisis and what I was doing to turn things around. I frankly don't have the talent to write fiction, but I discovered that I didn't really have the need: life has been more than interesting enough. All the freelance writing I did over the years on behalf of small business clients was, after all, non-fiction (mostly, ha ha) so I knew how to pull facts together with a reasonable amount of style. I had already been developing my voice for many years. Now I just had to write about what mattered to me. I thought the term 'memoir' sounded pretentious - who am I that anyone would want to read about my life - so i set out to write a biography that would capture not only the key events that have made me who I am, but to cover broader issues of mental health, childhood trauma and abuse, and exploitation by predatory personalities, which many readers can relate to.
An awesome publishing journey
Rather than try to shop my book out to traditional publishers - I'm not in my twenties anymore, I don't have that kind of time - I chose assisted self-publishing with Tellwell, a reputable firm that promised to take care of every detail. I will say that it was not cheap. But if you've invested a lot of time in yourself as a writer, perhaps taking courses and reading books and spending countless hours, days and weeks on revisions to get every word just right, it's definitely worth it to make sure you end up with a product you can be over-the-moon proud of. Tellwell pairs you with an experienced editor who works with you, making corrections and guiding your revisions word by word, line by line, until you're saying exactly what you mean. They also arrange for everything from the actual publishing to the cover art to the marketing of your book, depending on what package you select.
My book just came out last month, so all this is very new. It takes time to build a platform and get the word out about a book, things you wouldn't have to worry about as much with a traditional publisher. In-person book launches are difficult given present conditions, so driving sales becomes largely a self-directed online task. But the satisfaction alone of achieving a dream, leaving a legacy, and telling your story cannot be denied. If you have a story to tell - and who doesn't - there are very inexpensive courses you can take, like the Tony Gaskins Birth Your Book course, that walk you through the process so you can publish completely on your own. Sites like Reedsy have a wealth of free information ranging from beginner to advanced, to get you started on your own journey to becoming a successful published author.
Do you love a good, spicy read?
If you'd like to find out more about my book, Warrior in the Mud, you can check out the backgrounder and all the details on my website, nicolemartinsalterauthor.com and you can also buy the book on Amazon, Apple Books, or just about anywhere else books are sold.
Best of luck with your business, with your legacy and with your truth, from one entrepreneur and author to another.