Let me preface this by saying: I loved working with my editor, my cover designer, and Reedsy. The experience was flawless. This is just about me as a writer…
This past June I received a random email about a website called Reedsy. It was completely out of the blue. I still have no idea how they got my email-I sort of like the idea of it being fate. Anyway, I received an email from Reedsy explaining that they knew I was a writer and wanted to offer their editing, publishing, overall wonderful services to me. I was skeptical. I visited the website, it was colorful and organized looking. They offer editing services of all kinds as well as graphic design and layout offers. Turns out Reedsy is a network of freelance, supposedly qualified, resume flashing professionals offering to help indie writers become the best they can be. Still skeptical, I did my traditional “Is ______ a scam” Google search and came back with really nice reviews.
Okay, so it wasn’t a scam. Even so, I’m a broke girl living in a lonely world, so I brushed it off. But I kept thinking back to it.
Told myself to forget about it and move on with my life. A few days went by, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I’d been writing on and off for a while, but I mostly felt stuck. I’d written novel after novel, continuously beating my own time frame and exceeding my word count goals, but it wasn’t really enough. Being just a writer wasn’t enough. It wasn’t that I wasn’t happy just writing, but I knew that I eventually needed to stop and try to push something into the publishing world. I couldn’t just keep writing novels because with every new one I became further from Astridia- which was/is the novel I want to try to publish first. The more I thought about my writing career, the more I knew that I needed to take a leap of faith and do something to benefit myself.
I told my dad about Reedsy.
He is my writing soundboard and I knew that if I approached him with Reedsy he would either talk me down or encourage me to pursue it. I also knew that if he encouraged me to pursue it, that I would. His faith in my work and in me is a magical thing. If he told me I could do it, I might actually be able to move mountains. He was excited about it and thought it was a great idea and so I seriously began looking into using their services.
Because Reedsy is made up of freelancers, all the prices are individual and tapered to your specific project. I had to submit a brief, which is pretty much a summary of your novel, a list of your characters, your genre, your budget, your time frame and your desired services. One you have a brief, you can send it out, five freelancers at a time, and receive price quotes. I knew that I didn’t have a ton of money to spend on this (again, broke girl in a lonely world), but I wasn’t really taking it too seriously at that point. I sent out my brief and waited. a few days later I received an email from one of the editors that I’d chosen, a fantastic editor named Nicole Ayers. She let me know right away that she was going to be busy over the weekend but that she’d get right back to me with a quote as soon as she was able. I knew as soon as she sent me that message that I wanted to work with her. She was friendly and her message took all the tension and uncertainty right out of the experience. I told my dad that I really liked Nicole and that I wouldn’t make any decisions until she got back to me. A few more quotes and messages came in, but I was already pretty sure what I wanted. When Nicole offered to do both sets of edits for me, both copyediting and proofreading, I knew I wanted to work with her. The experience was really new and I wasn’t interested in having to brief another editor, I was satisfied with her doing both rounds. Since I am, as we’ve clarified, very broke, I couldn’t afford her price on my own. BUT, I have the best grandparents in the world and they offered to help me since they know writing is what I want for my future. With my grandparent’s help, I was able to schedule my editing sessions in advance with Nicole for October.
Next on my “let me see if I can self-publish journey” I began looking for graphic designers. I searched and searched, finding that a lot of the artists specialized in drawings or paintings. Since I adore pictures, I wanted something photography based. Finally, I found someone I really liked, Rachel Lawston. I recognized quite a few of the people she’d worked on covers for and I thought her art was fantastic. As is the custom with Reedsy, I briefed and waited. She got back to me and offered me a really great price- I was sold. I accepted right away. I’ll never forget riding in the car with my mom on the way to work and receiving the email with her price, I was already so interested in working with her that I was on cloud nine when I found out I really could.
Fast forward to October 1, 2016 – I send my novel Astridia to Nicole for first round editing. She kept it and worked on those edits until the 20th. She was FANTASTIC. She was willing to work around me, understanding that I would have a week of free time in late October for my fall break and arranging her editing schedule so that I could make first round revisions during my off time. She was great. Serious, go hire her.
October 1st was also my start date for the cover with Rachel- Also the best. She sent me a form and I filled it out, telling her my preferences for cover, size, publishing company and other small details like color and feel. Then the waiting began.
About a week and a half later I received a few different cover choices. Although they were beautiful, I wasn’t in love. Another few days passed and Rachel struck gold. She sent the cover I chose and a few other choices. I automatically knew which one I liked, but I wanted input from other people so I sent some text messages asking for votes. I’ll include those pictures here:
Almost everyone chose the one I did, so I let Rachel know. She went to work, changing a few small details. Initially, I wasn’t sure about the fingernail polish so she was awesome enough to remove it. Once it was gone, I missed it- so it stayed. This is our finished product.
My name has never been so big on anything. Ahhhh! I love it. I can’t say it enough. So pretty. So cool. PERFECT!
Rachel was fantastic and has remained really involved even after the cover was finished. Couldn’t have asked for a better cover designer, I was blessed!
Nicole continued to work on editing the novel. I revised what she sent me and then returned it to her for second round proofreading. I received the clean manuscript on the 21st of November, just two days before my 22nd birthday.
I’m pretty sure I was working with the best two ladies in the business, just saying.
Anyway, while all this was happening, I was shooting for a December 15, 2016 launch date. I was planning to put the book on amazon and see what happened. Try to promote and sell it myself. I figured that if it were to get enough traction then I could use those sale numbers when querying agents. I WAS WRONG. What I didn’t know was that if your book has been published, even self-published, it is really hard to get representation. Literary agents don’t want it. They want pure, unseen content. I found this out a little late in the game and I was seriously sad to have to call off my self-publishing venture. I wanted to self-publish, I wanted to give Astridia a shot. BUT, I needed to give her a fair shot. I needed to query agents first, everyone seemed to agree. Even Google, whom I trust. 🙂
So I didn’t self-publish and I don’t plan to. It isn’t that I think I’m too good for it because I’m not. It’s just that I think I’m too early in the game to self-publish without first trying to do traditional publishing. My dream is to be a published author, Barnes & Noble-style. Much to my own dismay, self-publishing won’t really get me there. Plus, I’m not sure Astridia is ready– but that is a separate post in and of itself.
I say (write) all of this to say that I wouldn’t change a thing. I loved my experience with everyone on Reedsy, it was fantastic. They were fantastic. Truely, ten out of ten, would recommend. I learned so much about myself and about my book through this experience. It wasn’t wasted time or money, it was such a fantastic learning experience. I wish all of the creative writing emphasis people at GWU could have the opportunity to have a graphic designer bring their book to life. Or have a talented editor shape their book into a better product. We should seriously consider teaming up with the graphic design people in communications and see if they would work with the novel writing people. It would be great. It was an adventure I wouldn’t trade, or do differently, for anything in the world.
Just thought I’d share about my own experience and tell other writers about Reedsy. I am not paid or sponsored by them or by either of the two lovely ladies that I mentioned, I just really enjoyed my experience working with them and wanted to talk about it.
Hello! My name is Brianna Joy Crump and I am a twenty-two-year-old writer from Raleigh. North Carolina. I am a recent graduate from Gardner-Webb University where I received my BA in English with an emphasis in creative writing. While in college, I wrote nine and a half novels, as well as multiple short stories and a handful of poems. I am currently rewriting one of my novels and hoping to pursue agents and publishing come the fall. For more information, feel free to contact me on social media or check out my website.