Lessons Learned From Publishing Fiction

In November, I released my serial novel, Soulphisticated Ladies.  It is a departure from what I wrote previously (non-fiction).  I wanted to write about women who are just like me and my friends at varied points in our lives.  I didn’t expect it to not be well received but I also didn’t anticipate the success that has come my way from it.  By the end of December, I released the whole season and I received some reviews.  I was excited and still am.  Early in January I rose to the #1 spot on Amazon’s African American Romance list and stayed there for a few days before sliding back down again.  Selah, Moria, Vashti and Gennifer’s stories have resonated with readers and has made me a proud mama writer.  Here are a few of the reviews from the full season.

5.0 out of 5 stars OMG Moments!  It was so full of drama that I ended up reading all 352 pages in one day. It also wasted no time getting to the “OMG moments”. It’s fast paced, without a dull moment. Because of this book I am seriously considering starting a book club. It has everything I want and need to keep my attention: Adult talk, circumstances, death and racy scenes, I was taken on an emotional roller coaster.

5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome  This book showed you loyalty among women that is so rare. The bond that these women shared was amazing. The drama is enough to keep you glued to your spot. You will not be disappointed. I cannot wait for season 2.
I thought this would be a great post because it can shed some light on the do’s and don’ts when it comes to publishing a novel that is clearly near and dear to your heart.  After all, you’ve spent months fine tuning it and getting it ready for public consumption.  You’ve also poured hard work into the plot lines and spent more time with your characters than anyone else.  So much so that to put it out in the world can cause feelings of anxiety and stress.Lessons Learned From Publishing Fiction

You want everyone to love it.

First, everyone will not love your book–no matter how hard you’ve worked at it.  Some plot lines will have readers upset and some characters will make them hate your book. Your job is, however to evoke emotion.   At least that is what I consider my job to be.  Soulphisticated Ladies is based on my spoken word pieces – the spoken word pieces are based on my life.  Didn’t know that about me, did you?  I’ve been writing poetry since high school and when I was in my late twenties, I decided that creating art that no one ever saw was purposeless.  That’s when I overcame the first blush of fear that I wasn’t good enough to share my art with the world and did it anyway.  
I wasn’t great at public speaking–I was scared to death every single time I crossed a stage but I studied other performers and saw what they did, then I made up my mind about what I wanted to do–I wanted and still do want, to make people feel.  So I wrote my poetry based on that premise, my life stories in a 3 minute snapshot.
4.0 out of 5 stars Kept me wanting more! The plot lines in this series kept me intrigued. The relationships between the women were empowering. Very relatable stories of sisterhood, lies, betrayal, murder… Can’t wait for more!!!
I realized the power of words and creating connections when I performed; the audience reaction was amazing.  To see someone tear up about my situations that I thought were mine alone or have people come up to me when I left the stage and say, I feel you girl that is exactly what I went through. In those three minutes, they were connected to me, my experience was a shared human experience.  It was a healing for me and for others and I wasn’t so afraid of sharing anymore.  How else does art heal the world?  It has to be shared.
So when I pushed the publish button on the first episode of this four part serialized drama that is in large part, a fictionalized version of my life, was I afraid?  Heck yeah!  Was I worried about the crowd (reader) reactions?  Yes.  But I let the chips fall where they would, it was out and not hiding on my computer anymore.
After the second season is released later this year, there will be two spin off series from Soulphisticated Ladies (series not serials).  Also, the romance series I am working on this quarter will lead back to Soulphisticated Ladies in a way.  It is now my flagship serial and I want most of the worlds I create to lead back to it.

I generally like to post things and talk about the lessons I learned in the process so on part 2, I will give you the more actionable tips on writing a novel.

1 Comment

  1. beingawordsmith on February 12, 2014 at 7:21 pm

    These are great, helpful tips! Pinning this, Jaha. Working on my second novel and I want to BRING IT again. #SGBC

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