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I am totally stoked about writing and self-publishing right now, because I cleared two giant hurdles today.

First, I finally finished the first draft of a project I’ve been working on for months, and some of it was pretty tough going. Characters are half the battle, but this was a sequel, so they already had their voices and it was easy for them to carry the story much of the way. But the flip side is that I’m writing thrillers, so throttling the clues and reveals to a pace that will hold the reader’s interest is equally challenging to characterization. A sentence in the next to the last chapter can change everything that came before, so leaving a twisting but steady trail of breadcrumbs to the surprise ending sometimes requires backtracking and revision.  That’s why I try to rough-out each scene, print it out, and add it to a stack of loose paper. Then I can come back, make changes with a pen, and then go back to the computer and smooth out the narrative scene by scene and chapter by chapter. At some point the dialogue and action are semi-polished and fit together on a tight timeline, and that’s my first draft. I  clip it together on the computer and print it out as one big document, along with a cover which is usually finalized by my graphic artist by then.

I have a comb binder that I used today to seal the deal on the first draft, so now I have something that looks like a book and feels like a book that I can hold and read and reflect upon.  There’s plenty of work yet to be done, but I can carve on this manuscript for spelling, grammar and continuity, from cover to cover. I can get help with the Spanish phrases and hand it to my first readers for their perusal. Most of all, I can turn the pages and read it again and again myself, which I like to do before sending the final draft out for line editing and formatting.

So binding the first draft together this morning was a big deal, and that would have been a pretty darn good day in itself. But an eMail from Amazon made this a banner day for all self-published authors.

Up until now, author copies–for the cost of printing and postage alone–have been available for paperbacks published in Amazon CreateSpace, but not in the Kindle Store, where we’ve had to pay Amazon prices for our own books. This has been a real problem for author/publishers like myself, who would very much like to offer the eBook and paperback versions of our work on one sales page in the Kindle Store, which makes it easier and more cost-effective to advertise. Considering the margins that we work with, every penny counts.

Huzzah! As of this morning I can purchase my own books from the Kindle Store at “cost” to gift to friends or to offer for sale in my hometown bookstore, because believe me, there is nothing like strolling into a bookstall and seeing your titles on the shelf next to the heavy hitters.

So yea, I’m amped up for the next book.