It’s taken me a good while to get to this point, but I’ve finally done it: I printed out Chapter 1 of my book to give to a beta reader. Of course they weren’t there went I went to drop it off, so I’ll do that tomorrow. And I’m working out getting an electronic copy to my first victim I mean volunteer who is out of town. Just today, a third person offered to read it. So the ball is rolling, wheels are in motion, the train is leaving the station… insert other clichés (which a good writer knows to avoid). Anyway, Sorryless wanted updates, and as my steadfastest reader and mostest commenter, I want to keep him happy.
When I wrote Book ‘Em Dude-O! I Completed Editing My Bike Memoir. Now What? in July, it had been 11 months since I finished writing. So yeah, it’s a journey. Why so slow? Well, all I can say is that I wasn’t ready to let someone else hold my baby. And of course, since I don’t have a uterus, I’m talking metaphorically. But also, not everyone is going o think my baby is beautiful. So now that I am ready, that doesn’t make it any easier. But I’m super grateful to my beta readers, who shall remain anonymous for now. I mean, who knows? Maybe I have the next Becoming (Michelle Obama’s memoir) and don’t even know it. Until then, there’s much work to be done. For now, I’m able to do it because I am, how shall I put this, without portfolio. That is, I’m a slacker in Austin where the great indy film Slacker was made in 1991, the first time I moved here.)
From what I’ve gleaned, it’s not going to get any easier. This is assuming they all want to read the rest of it. Once I start getting comments back, I’ll have to review them and decide to make changes or not. Where there are conflicts between the different reviewers, that will be another level of difficulty. I still want to get probably two more people, and a diversity of voices, so that is an ongoing process, too. After all of this re-editing, and possibly major rewrites, I’ll still want to have someone proofread it, copy edit it, and line edit it. Those steps might all be on me, because there aren’t too many professionals who’ll do that for free. Then there’s the self-publishing process. Which can be done, but requires more learning, choices, time and effort.
But, if I can get it in front of the eyeballs of someone like a published author, literary agent or an actual editor, and they think I might have something worthwhile, getting it published would be a dream come true. Sending query letters, accepting rejections, not giving up, and navigating the publishing world is an even higher degree of difficulty, investment of time and energy. This is all purely aspirational, but since at least one person — a published author — has told me to not give up on that, so I haven’t totally lost hope. Almost, but not quite.
Writing, editing, proofreading, querying, blogging, and all the rest, is an unpaid job. At some point, I will have to start bringing home the bacon. Or win the lottery. Or find a sugar mama. That is to say, I’ll need to get a job as soon as it’s safe to breath in a crowded office or other workplace. Said job will suck the life and time out of my creative side, as it did the last two summers. It’s a miracle I kept writing and editing at all. Maybe someday I’ll look back and say it was all worth it to have told my little story. Until then, I will have to take this whole book journey one day, and one page, at a time.
I’ve learned a few things from all my bicycling, yoga, walking, dietary restriction, and writing. One of the main ones is that persistence pays eventually, but not in money. And whatever other rewards one might gain from effort — a sense of accomplishment, bragging rights, a better-looking booty — you have to do the work. And, you must be incredibly patient. When I finally began writing every day, I had no inkling (pun not intended, but it’ s a pretty good one) that it would lead to a book. I thought it might and hoped it would, but I wasn’t sure. However, doubt crept in, and has slowed down the process to a crawl. I’m not sure if there is a way around doubt, except through it. When you’re trying to do it all yourself, it’s harder.
We’ll see what happens, but this is a big step. Printing out Chapter 1 of A Dude Abikes: The Book, felt pretty good. I also want to thank author Dale Thele for his encouragement and tips on this subject a while ago. And as for you Beta Reader Superheroes, I’m very grateful and look forward to your comments. Just don’t shake the baby. Never, ever shake a baby!
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