H. M. L. Swann
#2 PATHS: Self-publishing with Miriam R. Davis
Miriam R. Davis is a self-published author of her debut work The Demons of Isabelle Grace. Miriam graduated from FSU with a BA in Anthropology and did an archaeological field school in Belize. She later served a mission which she attributes much of the inspiration for her novel.
I met Miriam when I first moved to South Korea. We both were teaching English and became fast friends bonding over a shared interest of fairy tales, writing, and Miriam's incredible skill of baking. We ate many baked goods (okay, maybe I ate them all...) while we discussed inspiration for fantasy and worldbuilding.
Having just finished reading The Demons of Isabelle Grace I can tell you it's one of those stories that keeps you wondering: "what's gonna happen next?" Plus, my copy had special post-it notes from the author! Twists and turns fill this debut piece that is absolutely worth reading!
1.What first inspired you to start writing novels?
I love reading and storytelling, and have ever since I was young. I started writing in middle school to deal with my anger issues, and just the general issues of being a teenager. I tell myself stories to go to sleep. I have little movies that play in my head and that is how I fall asleep.
I wrote a few short stories but didn't actually write a full length novel until I was in my 20s.
2. Where or how have you studied writing? Formally or informally?
I have taken a couple of creative writing classes in college, but nothing more than that. I read A LOT and pay attention to how people write, their styles, how they develop a plot, ect.
3. Where or when do you write? Do you have a ritual, routine, practice that you stick to?
I usually write at home. I like to have big comfy chairs, but I usually end up writing in bed, where my blankets are.
4. Why was self-publishing the right path for you?
Ultimately I chose self publishing because I didn't think I could get my book published through a regular publisher. Publishing houses will only take books that they think will sell. I wanted my story to be read, and I wanted complete control over it. It is also a lot easier to self publish in the fact that there isn't any outside pressure to write more, to have everything conform to certain criteria.
5. How does your economic or cultural background influence your writing?
I am very middle class American. I write like one would expect a young(ish) white, raised in a decent family, woman would. My religion is what sparked the idea for my first complete novel, so there is that.
There is the saying "write what you know". There are many things in this world I don't know and can't comprehend. I just try to write what is inside of me and hope that it resonates with other people.
6. What are you working on now? Has COVID affected it? What are your plans for the future?
I am trying to finish up the sequel to my first book. I haven't worked on it though I really have had a lot of time because of Covid... I am just lazy. So, Covid had not affected my writing for good or bad.
Plans for the future... 1. Finish my 2nd book. 2. Write a screenplay when I can convince myself that I CAN write it. 3. Write a 3rd novel of which I have 3 or 4 ideas that I have started. 4. Start writing in my blog again of my daily adventures.
7. How do you find the balance between work life and writing life?
I am not a consistent writer. I write when I can mentally and emotionally. Sometimes work makes it hard for me to be in the right headspace. I don't make writing a priority, so I just write when I want to/can.
8. Do you have any advice for writers that are considering self publishing?
Hire an editor. Or make friends who will be brutally honest yet encouraging at the same time. and are willing to read and reread your book. Editing, making sure everything from punctuation to spelling to story flow, can be hard to see as a whole when you are the writer. You need outside voices who will be like "yeah... your character sucks here. And you use an excessive amount of commas".
I went through Amazon CreateSpace and KDP- Kindle Direct Publishing (I think they are just one site now) to publish. It was frustrating because I had to design everything, make sure all of the editing was done correctly, ect. The hardest thing for me was to figure out how to insert a table of contents and make it work with the chapters. KPD was very helpful, but it was still a long process of getting the formatting right.
Also, have patience and be willing to reread your book for the thousandth time before you submit it. I missed a couple of formatting problems the first time and didn't realize it till I had gotten the first proof copy. The cover picture's coloring was off.
Lastly, don't expect your book to sell amazingly well at first. Publishing Houses will promote your book. With self publishing you have to do it yourself. You can buy advertising and other things. But unless your book is AMAZING and you have good word of mouth, your self published book is one of HUNDREDS that are out there. I don't care about my book selling, I just want people to read it, so I will do free promotions.
Want to read more from Miriam R. Davis?
Cheers and see you next Sunday for more on paths to writing