For the past few years, I’ve felt like my first book should make a statement about who I am as a person, what I believe. Even though I write fiction primarily, I wanted my first offering to be non-fiction, about a subject close to my heart that I could share with those in need of some instruction in that area. As I’ve been working diligently on a couple of projects that could fit that description at different points in the past three years, I keep going back in forth with which book I should publish first, and how.
For my non-fiction works, I have leaned towards self-publication. I don’t want to have to deal with editors or publishers who would water down or change some of the passages I write to try and make them more appealing to a broader audience, especially those focused on doing things in a godly way. I know that there are Christian publishers out there who would be able to support such work, but I don’t know if I want to be slated for release eighteen months after a deal is struck. I want to have more control over how and when these books are released. It’s not about acclaim and distribution with them, but with reaching people.
There are a great number of people who have been waiting for years for me to release a book. I have been told I should write a book since before I was in high school. Family, friends, classmates, teachers, and people I’ve done presentations for have expressed their intention to buy my first book. The first book is the one that everyone is anticipating and will get for reasons other than they like your writing. If you can’t capture them with the first book, your second one is dead in the water. I’ve seen people struggle to sell that second book, from established authors to self-publishing novices. So I want the first book, the one most likely to end up in the most hands, to SAY SOMETHING. But what?
I’ve been working for a few years now on what started as the Marriage Kit Project. Even though I’ve done many interviews, researched tons of scripture, teased out most of the aspects of mate selection and dating I wanted to explore, it’s still not ready yet. I want to do a couple more interviews, pull a few more quotes, find a few more scriptures, and revise for my book’s life. I really wanted this to be the first book, but it won’t be ready for a while, even longer if I decide not to self publish it. So that leaves another possible project: Some College.
Some college is a memoir about my gap year. A gap year is a period of time of a year of more that a student is out of school, particularly higher education. For example, some people take a gap year between high school and college to travel. Some people take a gap year to work, pursue a dream, or to retest and qualify for a license. One of my relatives is sitting out now waiting to retake a licensing exam because you can only attempt it so many times a year. Many who are forced to take a gap year don’t return to finish their education.
My gap year occurred between my junior and senior year. It was not a voluntary one where I traveled or pursued a dream or sought to find myself in some way. I knew from the moment I realized I would have to sit out that I wanted to write about the experience. As a result, I have several journals filled with observations, stories, revelations, plans, and whatever else I thought might be interesting for the story. I even spent a long time getting some chapters written out on paper, figuring out what kind of structure I might want to use, and deciding whether or not to use whole journal entries. I even had an idea how I wanted to introduce the book and to whom it would be dedicated. But once I was taken by the marriage kit project, Some College fell to the wayside.
I recently uncovered yet another journal about this time and became taken with finishing it. There isn’t a lot of research that needs to be done since it is my story; I can just write and revise. I have a good start on it, and it’s an important story for me to tell. But should it be my first book? Should I self publish it?
I’ve spent a long time trying to figure out if there are some lessons I want to teach or if this is just me sharing my story. I’ve spent time deciding if I just want to write this for myself or release it. I’ve tried to decide if it fits The Season for Getting Serious model. Most of all, I’ve made the decision that if I’m going to do it, I might as well be honest and tell the truth of what happened. While I’m still working on The Marriage Kit book (still unnamed, officially), something in my soul says that Some College is the book that I need to put out first, the one I can put out soon. That same something is saying it needs to be out before college classes start this fall…
What are you feeling like you need to finish? How are you going to do it?