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How NOT to self publish a book – a short memoir

Beyond the darkness, way past what you can see or even imagine is a massive wheel turning. It turns and trudges through people’s existence of experience, memories and dreams. Sometimes is tugs at your soul. Sometimes it pulls at your soul so hard you have no choice but to write. If you don’t write something down it will probably eat your lunch before it is able to hit your stomach. Then, after it eats all of your lunch the wheel will eat at your soul and consume the whole of you if you don’t give it what it wants…….

I gave the wheel what it wanted and I wrote a book.

Written manuscript page from my book How LJ and Rom Saved Heavy Metal

“Beyond the darkness, way past what you can see or even imagine is a massive wheel turning. It turns and trudges through people’s existence of experience, memories and dreams. Sometimes it tugs at your soul. Sometimes it tugs at your soul so hard you have no choice but to write.”

I started writing things down in the form of blurbs for fun somewhere around 2012. Random notes and thoughts transferred from my mind onto notebook paper in good ‘ol fashioned ink. Some of them sounded like poems, others introductions to old country songs, and others more like a rap, some of it just plain garbage. I enjoyed writing, thinking of things to write, translating thoughts, past experiences into blurbs and riddles. Sometimes, it was just nonsensical madness.

I didn’t write for a years after that. I was working on other creative endeavors. It was just for fun. Fueling the passion for being creative just for the sake of it and putting some extra juice into the world. It sure beats the hell out of sitting in front a TV non-stop.

It hit me like a crap-ton of bricks. I wanted to write a book. I had to write a book. I had no idea what I was getting into. The basis of a story was laid out on notepad.exe in one sentence on my desktop computer.

“It hit me like a crap-ton of bricks. I wanted to write a book. I had to write a book.”

I meditated for long periods about the scenes and story line – almost constantly. I did this for at least two weeks without writing anything. I picked up a book – Private L.A. by James Patterson and Mark Sullivan. The writing was engaging, sometimes a little quirky and it had style. I wanted my book to be as entertaining as this!

I had a problem in my life. A REALLY BIG PROBLEM. I was homeless. A series of events, that were obviously unfortunate had me losing my job. I quickly got another one but it was far away and didn’t work out too well for a myriad of reasons. I had quit that job and then of course got kicked out of the room I was renting for non-payment.

Written manuscript page from my book How LJ and Rom Saved Heavy Metal

Being homeless didn’t stop me from writing, it motivated me. I had my pen and my paper and my water-proof backpack – that is all I needed to write a manuscript. I didn’t have to get up at any certain time and grind on my daily activities to keep my things of civilization because I didn’t have any. Liberating in a sense, but not at all where I wanted to be in life.

“There is something different about having to write each letter one by one with an ink pen. It lets you think more before moving onto the next thing.”

By the time I started putting pen to paper my story line was completely different than I first imagined. The original story concept lacked depth and meaning so I was adding elements that had passion for into it.

I would spend a couple of hours a day actually writing and the rest of my time envisioning scenes, outlining, and preparation. Lots of instant coffee and Bugler cigarettes were my only friends. I had absolutely no formal training on how to write a book. None, nada, zilch, zero. I was walking to the library or Starbucks to find a solid surface to write on with some air conditioning. When I wrote, I could feel the passion running through my veins. The writing excited me. The words flew out fluidly and it was not difficult at all. In fact, actually writing the inked words was the easiest and most pleasurable part of the whole process.

Four months later I decided it was time to start getting my life back together. I managed to get a Chromebook and I would go to the library or McDonald’s ( complete with screaming kids and mothers alike ) and start putting my ink into digital format, getting it ready for some sort of publication. At the time my plan was to get a formal publisher – because I just knew in my heart people would love my book. I was working at the time as a mover in a home moving company. We would get jobs in downtown Atlanta and in the suburbs. It was difficult physical labor often involving moving the heaviest furniture a person could buy up and down three or four flights of steps in an apartment complex. The money wasn’t bad, it was even good money if the customer placed a decent tip.

I was no longer homeless and I was writing the last quarter of my book directly into digital format. After hundreds of submissions to publishers I didn’t receive even a fraction of an ounce of interest in my book. Can’t say that I blame them, the content was messy and without professional editing. I scrounged the Kindle format of my book together in all it’s glory and with typographical errors. A couple of days later I formatted a printed version of my book and submitted it to Kindle Direct Publishing.

WRONG MOVE EX LAX, YOU PUBLISHED YOUR BOOK WITHOUT IT BEING PROFESSIONALLY EDITED.

I felt a strong sense of accomplishment. I had, for over a year along with keeping myself alive, steadily worked on something until I thought it was complete. No, no, no, no, no, no no – it was not complete. I had no idea how to launch a book and only marketed it to my friends through social media and an occasional person-to-person conversation. It was a flop.

By this time, I became successful in my life. I had landed a full time job back in technology. I have years of experience in Information Technology and an Associates of Applied Science degree to match ( attained much earlier in my life ). In my heart and soul, there is a passion for technology, always. There something oddly interesting in the meditation of understanding a complex machine, solving problems without creating bigger ones, and commanding it to do my bidding. If you have prepared correctly, the machines will execute tasks flawlessly.

Fortune blessed me enough to purchase a home. Yay! I’m no longer homeless at all – I’m a home owner and a father. Soon after, I managed to get a paid editor and have her professionally edit my book into the masterpiece ( yeah right lol – no way you could do that without formal training on writing books ) that it is today. I have a beautiful girlfriend and she is currently carrying my unborn baby daughter that is due in September.

So while my book still isn’t a success in the number of copies that it has sold, it is a success in my life and heart because no matter what my circumstances were, I carried on completing the thing I had set out to do. I carried on doing what I wanted to do creatively – even though I was in the roughest spot in my life. I wrote the novella, published it, then had it professionally edited, reformatting the whole thing. My editor was wonderful – completely on point and did everything exactly the way it was represented.

“My book still isn’t a success in the number of copies that it has sold, it is a success in my life and heart because no matter what my circumstances were, I carried on completing the thing I had set out to do. I carried on doing what I wanted to do creatively – even though I was in the roughest spot of my life.”

The book was totally written for plenty of room for a sequel. I hope that one day I will again have enough wiggle room in my life to get some formal training ( Neil Gaiman masterclass, I think so yes!! ) and write the sequel or maybe even more books to match – even surpass what LJ and Rom did when they saved Heavy Metal. =)

Guys, until next time – may you find all the happiness that your life can fit in it’s happy spot – S. D. McKinley

By S.D. McKinley

S.D. McKinley lives in the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia. He was born in the first half of the 1980's and grew up in Wisconsin as a young boy, then moved to Georgia when he turned exactly twelve years old. During teenage years, he raced dirt track go karts and played guitar. He discovered his current love for all kinds of art after his mid-life crisis at 25 years old. S.D. McKinley began writing books in 2017.

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