Things I’ve learned while putting out my first book by Jacqueline Fellows


1. I dislike or distrust nearly everything about traditional publishing. I also dislike and distrust most things about “traditional” self-publishing. I have a strong DIY streak.

2. Useful (free!) programs: GIMP (with Michael Davies’ tutorials on youtube), calibre, pagina’s epub-check, ocenaudio.

3. Somehow, traditional publishers with “real” editors still produce books with grammatical errors, poorly motivated characters, and infelicitous prose.

4. I’m impressed by reviewers who can describe a book without spoiling major points of the plot.

5. It’s scary to let other people read your work. I already knew that; I had to get over it in graduate school in order to publish academic articles and become a professor. But even if you’re used to sharing your scholarship, it’s still scary to let others read your fiction.

6. A year or two of regular writing made me faster. Ten pages on a good day have become 16-18.

7. The act of writing gets my creative juices flowing better. New ideas, as well as clever or elegant turns of phrase, pop into my head once I sit down and start to work.

8. Sometimes, I can’t write, even if I want to. I write a sentence, rewrite it, rewrite it again, and realize that my time is better spent on something else, at least for a few hours.

9. I really work best outside. If it’s winter, I need to be near a cosy fireplace.

10. Reading a good book makes me want to get back to my own writing.

11. Although I don’t write about Greek myth, my training in classical philology gives me useful models for figuring out what my story is about, as well as details of character development and world-building.

12. New words! I love learning new words. Caliginous. Moiety. Eolian. Colubrine.

13. I also love learning random things, great and small, along the path to creating realistic characters and scenes—things like “boiled leather,” different types of ships, ancient anaesthetics, and the nature of sociopathy. Even a genre like fantasy, in which everything is invented, requires a surprising amount of research.

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One Comment on “Things I’ve learned while putting out my first book by Jacqueline Fellows

  1. Love the observation about writing essentially also acting as a catalyst to learning. Irrespective of whether we “write what we know” or boldly go where we’ve never gone before, invariably the process demands a measure of research or (at least) an epiphany about ourselves. Great post. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

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