Tell Us How You Published Your Book? What Was the Journey Like?

The time has finally come!

Chasing Freedom, my novel, has finally been released. After a long journey,  it is finally out. What most people don’t know is that I have been working on this book for years.

You may purchase it here: http://bit.ly/2sWEI9D

Where did the storyline come from? The inspiration?

Well, the protagonist in the novel is a Congolese rape victim and refugee.  Given that I am Congolese (although I’ve never been),  I’ve been reading and hearing so many horrific stories and I felt like I had to write about this and be the voice of the women of Eastern Congo who are daily being abused.

And then in the diaspora, there are many refugees who still continue to struggle because, well, America isn’t always “golden“.

I wanted to show the journey of a young woman and refugee chasing after freedom, from Congo all the way to the U.S..

There are so many organizations who claim to help refugees when they truly have their own agendas. I will not say too much because I don’t want to give out any spoilers.  I interviewed people, read many books, and watched many YouTube videos to research as much as I could.

People who have recently started following my blog or recently became friends with me on my Facebook or Instagram, assume that I recently wrote this book. No, no–not with two kids!

So, when did you write the book?

Allow me to tell you the story- the shorter version.

I initially wrote this novel as my thesis in grad school in my creative writing program back in 2012. I worked with a mentor who is an author and professor who guided me through the process . I had about a year to finish the novel. Once it was done, I received critiques from my cohorts and other readers such as professors and a NYC agent .  At the time, it was nowhere near ready to be published. First drafts are usually crap!

Once I graduated from grad school in 2013, I started working on revisions after revisions.  Mid 2013, I queried several literary agents and landed myself one! Oh how exciting! It was a dream come true.

Unfortunately, the dream later became quite a bit of a nightmare. The agent was fairly new to the game and in my opinion, did not have enough close contacts in the publishing world. And I don’t  believe she really did a great job getting my manuscript “published ready” for editors.

Anyway,  so she pitched and pitched  by book to editors, but we only received rejections back. And when I looked at the list of editors she pitched,  most of them did not even seem right for my book.

After three years, I had enough.  I started asking around, “does it take this long when you already have an agent?”

Most of my “agented” writing buddies advised me to end the contract because it should not take this long to sell the book.  So, I did that. I ended the contract with her.

Then I decided that my book still needed work to be considered  “published ready” so I hired a professional fiction editor who has worked in traditional publishing for years. I interviewed a few editors before I made my final decision.

Because my novel is quite diverse, it was important to find someone who understood the main character and the vision of this novel. She was able to really help me with the tone, voice, and the overall pacing of the novel.

Many indie authors skip this step because it can be quite pricey.  That is a big mistake. Editing is the most important stage of the writing process!

Then I gave the novel a break for almost an entire year, I believe.

When I came back to it with fresh eyes, I was impressed. “Wow. I wrote this? This is a good novel.”

It was almost a complete different novel. The power of an editor.

Anyway,  I was still undecided about pursuing another agent or going indie. By indie, for those who are not familiar with the term, I’m referring to independent publishing, as an self-publishing. After a wonderful, eye-opening, and inspiring weekend in Dallas I wrote about here: http://chez-debz.com/takingmywritingcareerbackinto/, I decided to go indie. One of the main reasons I did so is because in the publishing industry, once an agent has already pitched your book to an editor at a publishing house, you can’t try to re-pitch it to the same publishing house, even to a different editor. So my options were limited here and I was so over the whole “gate keepers” of  publishing.  I did; however, pitched a few literary agents just to “see”  but my heart was already sold on going indie.

The publishing world has changed drastically in the last few years and I am very happy about my decision! I believe  more writers should go indie!

Not only is my book available on all online bookstores, but I am also doing a consignment  program  with a local bookstore to have my book on a shelf as well. 

I was able to control each stage of publishing; from the cover, to the publisher, and distribution.

So you may be wondering now…

How can I write and publish a book too??

Upcoming next week will be a blog post on “How Do I Write and Publish a Book”. I have since then received numerous emails and messages on how to self-publish a book, so I think a blog post with step by step instructions will be helpful to all aspiring authors. As always, thanks for reading and don’t forget to buy your copy of Chasing Freedom here: http://bit.ly/2sWEI9D

And for details on the book, visit my author website: DeborahKabwang.com

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