Steve's Writing Blog
My writing journey
Since my books were released, in early May, I’ve been working my way through the complexities of setting up the appropriate infrastructure for my nascent publishing business. While I knew that writing the book was a task in itself, the marketing, managing, and general detritus that come with self-publishing have left me running around in many different directions in this first month of the book’s life. I have listened to endless podcasts, read many an article, seen multiple YouTube videos, and have concluded—while always trying to use perceived best practice—that I will be making as many mistakes on this writing journey as I made on my hike of the Appalachian Trail. Given the shambles that I was in my early days on the trail, I look forward to the next few months with no little trepidation.
I have taken advice from many people and have distilled that advice where I felt that it fitted into a structure that I could run with. Of course, I listened to an accountant as to the optimum financial setup, and I started to discipline myself within the various social media platforms that exist to spread the word about my books. I spoke with my editor and several other authors and continue to glean as much as I could from anybody who will give me the time to share their experience.
One of the really interesting methods of both spreading the word and making sales is the opportunities inherent in speaking engagements and resulting book sales once my audience has been sufficiently hooked. I’ve always been a confident, though not terribly well-structured, speaker, so I’ve even joined Toastmasters to improve on this skill. Had somebody told me I’d take this step about six months ago, I think I would have laughed. The members of this club are all better than me at public speaking, so this will be another challenge. Re-inventing yourself in your mid-60s is a little daunting, though I’m thoroughly enjoying learning these new skills.
I have continued to work on my new, free e-book book, Hiking the Appalachian Trail is Easy, Especially If You Know Nothing About Hiking. As a basis for the book, I have used a presentation I gave to the Appalachian Trail Club of Florida in April. The talk went really well and I was gratified and encouraged by the response. The resulting book has several of the things I didn’t include in the main books and will hopefully serve as a teaser for those books. It seems that a self-published writer needs to give something away to attract people to his or her site in order to market other books. I would hate for such a thing to be regarded as a bait and switch tactic, so be aware of my reasons behind the new book. That said, it remains crucial that I do as good a job as possible in this free book and keep up the standards I believe I have achieved in my Appalachian Trial books.
I’m also in the planning stage of my upcoming John Muir Trail hike. I’ll be writing about this hike as well on my return, so the planning incorporates writing as well as washing out smelly old kit. With everything going on at the moment, completing the free book before I set out in early July will be a mission, but one I really hope I’m able to achieve.
In October 2014, I completed a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. This is quite an achievement for anybody. For me, a 61-year-old fat bloke, it was the culmination of a dream that started about 15 years before. That said, as I stood on the top of Mount Katahdin—with my emaciated frame held together by sagging clothes but supported by spectacular legs—I vowed never to hike again. Indeed, in presentations I made in subsequent weeks and months, I repeated that vow time and again, even adding several more “nevers” and a few “evers” into the mix.
Consequently, it came as much of a surprise to me as it must have done to all my friends when I decided to hike the John Muir Trail in July 2016. I’m not entirely sure how it happened. One minute, I was repeating the vow to my hiking companions on the A.T.; the next, I was getting my tent serviced and looking for hiking pants, stoves, and dehydrated food.
I’m not sure what it is about the mountains that inveigle a normally rational man to live like a feral cat for weeks on end. I can only assume that there is a primal urge within all of us that surfaces in moments of susceptibility. Consider the adult salmon; why on earth does it swim against the current to return to its natal stream for reproduction? While my current frame makes the salmon comparison somewhat tenuous, I’m sure you get my drift.
Given my earlier reticence, my current excitement is even more surprising, yet it is so. I have completed my Appalachian Trail book and am waiting for the editing process to conclude, so I think I must have been in “that place.” Whatever it is, I’ll be sharing my journey, both prior to setting off and when I’m scrambling—breathless and in pain—up and down mountains that eventually leave me at 14,500 feet. Yes, I know that a man—now in my 64th year—should be more engaged in sleeping and putting his feet up, but that wouldn’t be a whole lot of fun now, would it.
Sign up to this blog and you’ll be notified of posts as they arrive. In the interim, watch the video of some of the scenes I’ll see on the trail.
This is more a test than anything else. I’ve been writing my book for over a year and am finally in the editing stage. Allowing an editor, indeed, anybody, to see my story was an excruciating moment for me. Would she like it, hate it, or be entirely indifferent to it? It was tough to tell at first, but she eventually smiled on the second page. It was tricky to tell what her smile meant, but I decided to take it as a minor validation.
I hadn’t realized that the writing part was only the first step in an intense journey. I was hoping to wipe the slate clean and start on something else. However, I had read enough and listened to plenty of podcasts to know that marketing a book is the only way to allow the independent author to thrive in an overcrowded market.
A new website was needed, along with cover design and front and back matter. I’ll go into these in the next few days. Suffice it to say that I’m working harder in the after-writing stage than I was in the writing stage.