Pen Name or Nah?

One of the decisions I had to make when writing my book was what name I would be writing under. It seemed like an easy decision initially—first and last—but then I thought about getting married in the future and changing my last name and how I’d like all my books to be under one name and fully representative of who I am at all stages of my life.

I thought about going by the name Juanita Therese. This is what my dad wanted to name me at birth—giving me the middle names of my grandmothers—but my mother decided she liked Christine better.

I thought about going by a different pen name, but it didn’t feel authentic. I’m not trying to disconnect my identity from my writing because my writing is about my identity. I think I’d be more inclined to use a pen name if my writing were strictly about fictional characters, but it’s not, so it is inseparable from me.

So, I decided the most authentic version of my name is first and middle. My last name will change when I eventually get married, but my first and middle names will forever be.

Hello, I’m Christine Gabriélle.

What Happens When You’re Done Writing?

The thing about self-publishing a book is you don’t just stop once you’re done writing. I assume (because I’ve never gone through it) that when going through the traditional publishing process, once you’re done with your manuscript you send it to your editor and back and forth you go until it’s polished, then you send it back once more to be transformed from a digital document with a bunch of words into a book someone can buy in a store.

Once you’re done writing, that’s pretty much it for your duties (aside from marketing, probably). Again, I’ve never gone through traditional publishing so I’m guessing here.

With self-publishing, you can’t just stop at completing the written content of the book. Now, there is plenty of advice telling self-publishers (independent authors) not to DIY their entire book. HOWEVER! I can’t help myself. There are several things that can (and should) be outsourced so the pressure isn’t all on me, but when the budget is tight, some things have to be done without hiring help. Also, I just like testing my skills and doing things on my own.

So, KDP provides a great guide for formatting your paperback manuscript in Word. They have other guides, but Word and Windows are what I use, so that’s the only guide I noticed. I can do almost anything so long as I have instructions, and I’ve been enjoying seeing my pages start looking more like the pages of a book. I have my fingers crossed that it turns out the way it’s supposed to once uploaded to KDP.

eBook formatting, on the other hand… I’m going to try it, but I’m not so confident in that process so I may outsource.

After formatting, there’s still cover design, purchasing ISBNs, pricing the book, marketing, writing out the metadata, copyright, photos, setting up the KDP account and inputting all the files and information, ordering preview copies, and making sure everything looks the way it should. At that point, hopefully no changes are needed because then I’ll have to go back to whichever stage the mistake occurred, figure out how to make changes, then go back in and get a new preview copy to make sure it’s all corrected. Once it’s perfect (or nearly so) I have to order a stack of copies to have on hand so I can provide gift copies to a couple of the people who’ve been super helpful and supportive in this process and also be able to sell signed copies. [deep breath]

It’s a lot, yall.

Don’t get me wrong, I like creating things from scratch. I like taking pieces and parts and turning them into wholes. It’s just costly and time consuming. But just you wait until it’s all done! I’m going to be shouting from the (imaginary) rooftops, telling everyone who will listen that I wrote a book.

This is the biggest project I’ve ever worked on. With all my projects, I get really excited in the beginning because I can see what I want to create, but once I get to the middle and it’s not quite looking like the final product I start to get worried and doubt creeps in. Ultimately, though, once it’s finished I usually find that it’s just what I imagined. Sometimes it’s better than what I imagined. I’m hoping this one turns out better than I imagined.

My next two book projects include finishing the novel I started in 2016 and a collection of essays about life, religion, and relationships. I want to pursue traditional publishing for the novel, just to see what happens. What’s the process like? Does it get picked up? Is it better? I want to experience that. If I don’t like it, I’ll stick to indie publishing for myself. But those are projects for 2022 and forward.

Anyway, that’s it. That’s the update. Once I hire a cover designer, I’ll probably give you all a sneak peek.

Happy writing!

Sometimes I Paint

I completed the painting on the left in 2018, three months before I submitted my resignation letter to my job. I didn’t like the job at all. Management was horrific most days, guests were often rude and bratty, and everyone was always on edge. I took most of my frustration and put it on paper.

One of my coworkers, who is now a friend, asked for this painting for years. Finally, I decided to comply with her request for a duplicate of the original. I completed the painting on the right a couple weeks ago. It is the first thing I’ve painted in a year.

Part of the way anxiety has affected me over the past year and a half is by taking away much of my creative expression. I wasn’t painting, writing (except here), baking, experimenting with new dinner recipes, crafting… none of it. I’m slowly getting those things back, and I am grateful.

One of these days, I’m going to follow through on my decision to take an art class to improve on my painting skills, but not before I finish this book.

The book, by the way, has been textually completed. No more edits! Now, we have to get into formatting and cover design and metadata and alladat! I will be working with a book coach through the last few months of this self-publishing process. The goal is to make sure I know all the things that need to be done, I do them in a timely manner, and I don’t forget anything. Stay tuned!

What parts of yourself have you been struggling to get back? How’s it going? How are you doing? Let me know!

Happy reading… writing… expressing!