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Self-Publishing Stories

AuthorTiffany Witham

Why I Almost Quit Writing & Never Published My First Book

When I was 7 years old my single-mother passed away. My two sisters and I were devastated and it flipped our entire world upside down.

Our loving grandparents took us in and began helping us grieve. I was a mess. Nightmares plagued me. Her pictures haunted me. And each day was a depressing reminder of her absence. I wanted so badly to heal and move forward but I didn’t know how.

Tiffany Witham

Four years after my mother’s passing, my Grandma had an idea. I can remember our conversation as clear as day. She came into my room with a journal and suggested I put my feelings on paper. I wrote my first poem. Within a month, I had written a few more. My nightmares eased and my depression began to fade. For the first time, I was able to communicate my feelings in a productive way.

My stepmom, Cindy, noticed how much I loved writing. She wanted to help me grow in my skills, particularly in vocabulary and spelling. One day, she brought me to the young adult section in a bookstore. I picked up three R.L. Stine books (before Goosebumps) and I tried to convince her to buy them for me! She made me a promise: as long as I read them, she’d keep buying them.

I don’t think either of us knew I’d read more than 20 books before the end of the school year! My English teacher saw my budding enthusiasm for reading and writing and encouraged me to write my first short story. So I did.

After writing the story, it became clear that I wanted to be a writer.

Every day during that next summer I wrote so many poems and short stories that I filled up an entire binder. By the time I graduated high school, I had written over 400 poems, dozens of short stories, and a few monologues.

This passion and talent led me to pursue an art degree in English and theatre. I loved being able to convey so much depth of feeling with the spoken word. It was during this time that I wrote my first one-act play and had my theatre colleagues perform the script! It was thrilling, as you can imagine. Seeing my play in action validated all the heart and hard work I had poured into it.

As I neared the end of my college days I knew I wanted to continue writing—but I had no clue how to get my work published. I moved out on my own but it didn’t take long for the real world to take over. Before I knew it, paying bills had delayed my writing and publishing dreams.

Months turned into years as I made excuse after excuse as to why I wasn’t already a published author.

I had moved states, juggled dozens of jobs, moved back home, and had two children. One day I felt this overwhelming sadness and I realized I hadn’t written anything in several years.

My heart ached to write—to process the feelings I was experiencing now, in this new season of life. So I started writing again. And about that same time, I found out about the BookWorthy Self-Publishing Course. I knew I had to register. No more excuses—2018 was going to be the year I finally published my work.

I began the course. In a little more than 30 days I published my first book: Catching Smoke. It’s a poetry book that I started writing after my mother died in the bedroom of the house where she grew up.

I realized that accomplishing my dreams wasn’t as distant as I had once thought.

After self-publishing Catching Smoke, I gained a new level of confidence. And I realized that there are at least three more books inside of me. Including a fiction novel and personal story. While it took me over 20 to publish my first book, it’ll take me two months for my second.

3 lessons I wish I knew when I first started

Since you’re reading this, I assume you want to become a published author someday. And you might even want to self-publish a book like I did. Here are a few pivotal lessons that I learned while writing and publishing my first book.

1. You’ll never be more ready than you already are

Don’t make excuses! The time to publish is now. Believe in yourself and your story. If you aren’t a great writer but you have a great story, find someone who will ghostwrite for you. If you are worried about the cost, don’t be! BookWorthy will show you how to publish for free. There will always be a reason, excuse, or fear to hold you back. But if you wait until “you’re ready,” you’ll never actually be ready. You just have to start.

2. You don’t need a publisher to publish your book

I thought that to be a published author, I needed to find a publisher. Lo and behold, that couldn’t have been farther from the truth. For years, I sent out my manuscript to publishers. I never heard back from any of them. And as you can imagine, that made me feel like I wasn’t good enough to publish a book. And while I never quit writing, I quit trying to get published.

What I’ve learned is that it doesn’t matter how successful you are, lies are always knocking at the door. Even after I wrote a successful play in college, I believed lies. For years, silence from the publishing companies screamed at me that I wasn’t good enough to publish.

Don’t let the lies stop you. You don’t need a publisher to publish your book. That’s why I self-published my book online through CreateSpace. And BookWorthy helped me understand the process, overcome my fears, and become a published author. If I can do it, you can too.

3. Writing is rewriting

Don’t get discouraged by the editing process. It’s hard. In fact, it’s supposed to be hard. But that’s how it gets better and you can publish a book people want to read.

Don’t be afraid to let others read your work and don’t be afraid to read your own work. If you need to take a break for a week, don’t feel guilty. Make a commitment to write down a thought or a paragraph every day. This will show you why you fell in love with the idea in the first place. Then, go back to the story and finish it. Edit a few more times and then publish it to the world. And, most of all, remember it’s not something for them to see—it’s something for you to accomplish. Your journey and your story are what matters most.

What took 20 years could’ve taken me 30 days

I wish that Catching Smoke didn’t take 20 years to write and publish. It would’ve been such a quicker (and more enjoyable) process if I would’ve had a step-by-step roadmap and a community to keep me accountable.

I didn’t have any of that.

I got stuck (for years) writing my book. Editing felt intimidating. I’m not a designer. And I didn’t even know where to start with publishing.

If it weren’t for BookWorthy, I wouldn’t be a published author. But because of their helpful guidance, I was able to do in 30 days what I had been trying to do for 20 years.

So what about you? Do you have a book inside you that you’ve been dreaming about for decades? Do you have a story you want to share with someone who needs to hear it? If so, then consider registering for BookWorthy’s free online workshop: Discover How to Self-Publish Your Book. This workshop will give you a plan that will help you know where to start and how to finish.

About the Author

Tiffany Witham

Tiffany Witham is a BookWorthy Alumni and the self-published author of Catching Smoke. She lives in California with her children.