Module 2, Week 3 Project Update

This week has been the most problem-free so far, but still had its challenges.

I mentioned in my first project update that I had problems with my proofs from BookBaby. I actually found a new problem in the new proofs they sent me.

I had written the acknowledgements before I knew who was designing the cover for Inside a Writer’s Head. I thought I’d be working with Alexandra Wagner, so I wrote her name in. I ended up working with Jacob Beman, as I’ve mentioned. That was great and I shared that information. But I forgot to update the acknowledgements.

I noticed that it was wrong and had to message the BookBaby support team to figure out how to resolve it. I submitted a new book file, and they agreed to fix that one mistake in the ebook for me. They have a fee for additional changes or for submitting a new file, but they made an exception because it was just one mistake.

I got my new design proofs back, and I should get the books I ordered by the end of the month. I’m still not entirely sure when the ebook will be available for sale, though.

Last week I had the idea of running a giveaway of the collection. I acted on that the day after having the idea and posted about it on Instagram. I made it possible for any person to have three changes to win, one from each social media platform I’m on — Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. To enter people have to like and share the post and follow my account on that platform. Then I send them their entry number(s) as a direct message.

Right now I’m tracking entries in a spreadsheet recording the person’s username, the platform(s) entered on, and their entry number(s). I also expanded the possible entries to my blog and pinned the post with the explanation of how to enter each way. So far only four people have entered. I’m trying to keep talking about it so people will be more likely to see it and enter. I mention it in my photo posts with poetry quotes on them.

I’m not sure if my audience is currently too small to run a successful giveaway or if people don’t care or both. That’s something I’ve noticed about my project. Because I’m just starting out building my platform and interacting with people on social media and sharing my work more, I have a small audience and very little incoming interaction. 26 people like my Facebook page, 27 people follow me on Twitter, and 41 people follow me on Instagram. I get the most interaction on Instagram, but I feel more limited by the necessity of images. I need to practice creating photos for my blog posts in order to promote them on Instagram as well.

I’ve realized during this project and from the Praxis Wednesday last week that I’m really building my creative brand. I initially wanted to sell my poetry collection, but it’s not available yet. Yes, I’ll be selling a product, but to interest people in that product, I have to sell them on me and my work more generally.

Because of that obstacle, this has morphed a bit in my mind into building creative habits, connecting with people on social media to sell myself and my blog. That will take time. It aligns with my longer-term goals of being a freelance writer or making money doing creative work.

For the video and blog content directly tied to my project, I talked about how I completed my poetry manuscript in two weeks. I made a video on the same topic, which is embedded in that blog post.

Next week, which starts Thursday, I plan to post some of the poems in Inside a Writer’s Head to this blog, so stay tuned! I want my video to be me reading those poems.

I’m thinking about posting recordings of me reading my work, from Inside a Writer’s Head, other poems, and short stories to SoundCloud, but I’m not sure if it would be worth the time. I also found out that there is a 3 hour upload limit for free accounts, which may be a problem if I do pursue this.

How I Finished my Poetry Manuscript in 2 Weeks

I chose and gathered together the poems for Inside a Writer’s Head several months ago. I tried a few times after that to organize the collection to no avail.

Part of that was my own fault, for trying to organize the collection while choosing the poems, but I also had no idea where to start.

Cue the guiding hand of the Praxis program. I was only one week into Module one when I started thinking about my portfolio project for this month. I talked with Hannah Frankman, the module one advisor, about my goals for the program and how it played into my longer term goals. I initially wanted to finish and publish Inside a Writer’s Head for my project but was advised that a better project would be to market it.

I had my work cut out for me. It was hard at first, and I had to do some research to get some ideas.

To help eliminate the block I had created, I deleted all the section names I’d added. Then I started reading and moved poems around as I did so. I familiarized myself with the poems such that I got ideas for sequences and poems to put together. As I read through the collection more and moved the poems around more, it got easier.

I amazed myself by finishing the manuscript in one week instead of two.

In order to do this, I put my other projects on hold so the poetry collection would be ready for this month.

I also scrapped my initial plan of designing the cover myself. I knew it would take me more time than I had to play around with options and create a design I was happy with.

I reached out first to Alexandra Wagner, a Praxis participant in my cohort. She said she would be unable to complete it by the time I needed it. I asked for suggestions of who to work with and found Jacob Beman. He has a website where he sells clothes with designs he created, and I liked the style and nature of his work. He agreed to work with me and did a really great job on my book cover. I reviewed his work here.

Three things allowed me to have a self-publishing-ready poetry collection: Focused work, a deadline, and finding the right designer.

If you can focus on the project you intent to complete instead of jumping project to project you will surprise yourself how quickly you can complete it.

The deadline for completing the project seemed really tight and super hard to meet. I pushed myself to finish quickly and surprised myself with the speed of my work. If I hadn’t had the extra push to finish the collection before November, it would have taken me longer. If it had been less urgent, I wouldn’t have been as focused or as driven to complete it as quickly as I did.

Find a designer whose work you could see being a great fit for your vison of your book cover and who is excited to work with you. Both of those make for a great experience working with that person and lead to you getting a result you love.

Be sure to check out my Patreon. For $5 you get early access to part three of the Diary of Kaashif Sarwan and another post later this month as well. There are other rewards at every tier, so be sure to check it out!

Struggling to Organize my Poetry Manuscript

I recently finished gathering together a lot of my poems to make a collection. To begin with I tried to put them in some categories based loosely on topic. Now, though, I need to go through and reorganize them.

Which poem should open the collection? Which should close it? How should they be arranged in between? Should they be in categories or just one after the other more randomly?

I have to answer these questions just about organizing the collection. Not to mention I have to consider if I’ll have notes about the poems, if I’ll include the date I wrote the poem on, if there will be illustrations in the book. Do I want just one poem for every two pages, or one for each page?

It was easier to write the poems to begin with than to figure out how I want to present them together!