Woulda Shoulda Coulda – Guest Post by Melissa Maygrove

Melissa Maygrove amazes me. She’s a terrific writer, well-prepared, and so much better at this whole networking business than me. In fact, I owe her a huge debt, because I wouldn’t be where I am now without her.

I have the honor and privilege to have her guest posting on my blog today. And without any further ado, I hand over today’s post to Melissa—Woulda Shoulda Coulda – Things I would do differently if I had it to do over again.



Learned more about the publishing industry sooner (e.g. genre, book formats, distribution, etc.). I’ve never claimed to be an expert, but when I began the final publishing push, I discovered how little I really knew.

Begun looking for stock images sooner. Holy cow—I trolled those sites for HOURS. If you think finding images for a contemporary is hard, try finding one for a historical. Gah! Her make-up is too heavy, his clothes are too modern, her fingernails are painted purple… and on and on and on and on and on.

In the future I think I’ll pick the cover couple before I write the story and set their imaginary images in my mind.

Worked harder to find beta readers. I ended up with only four CPs/betas for the final draft of Come Back. I really took a chance with that; I was lucky these folks were prime and that they all came through. The feedback I received would not have been as well-rounded if my group had been less dependable.

Worked harder to get early reviews. Reviewers have to be sought out, and they need plenty of time to read your story—sometimes months.

Built an author website sooner. By the time I got around to doing it, I was way busy with everything else. I would like to have had time to put more thought and effort into it before making it public.

This is the downside to a debut—one has to do things in addition to preparing the book, like build a website and open retailer accounts. Whereas, when releasing subsequent books, you just have to polish them, upload them, and market them. The other stuff has already been done.


Took time to learn the craft before putting my work out there. Writers are constantly learning and improving, and not every book we write is going to be a hit. But we don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.

Established a social media platform and presence early in the game. I have Carrie Butler to thank for that. She took me under her wing, helped me build my blog, then booted nudged me out of the nest. 😛

Hired out the graphics and the formatting. A professional-looking cover is a must. Nuf said. I may learn to do my own formatting eventually, but there’s no way I could have done that the first time around. I was going cross-eyed and crazy over too many learning curves already.

Got organized early. I made a document entitled Publishing Timeline and noted, by week, all the things I needed to do. (I did this almost 6 months before release day, by the way.) The list contained everything from editing and publishing deadlines to my plans for promotions and marketing.

This was a fluid document, meaning I added things as I went and sometimes moved things around if I decided they should be done earlier or later. Even so, it kept me focused and helped me not to forget to do something important. Once I completed a task, I grayed it out.

I also made documents to keep track of various things—like a list of people I wanted to acknowledge in the front matter and a list of folks I owed free copies to. I kept them in a folder on my laptop and added to them as I went along.

Wrote guest posts, trivia and interview questions, and chose quotes and excerpts ahead of time. Having this stuff ready to go made the final promo prep so much easier. If someone needed a post or a passage, I just pulled it right from my pre-made pile. Bam—done.

(Hint: If you do this early, don’t forget to update the excerpts after the final edit!)

Self-publishing is a LOT of work, but the long-term rewards are worth it.

Maygrove Jan12 120 szNative Texan Melissa Maygrove is a wife, mother, nurse, freelance editor, and romance writer. When she’s not busy caring for her tiny nursery patients or shuttling teenagers back and forth to after-school activities, she’s hunched over her laptop, complicating the lives of her imaginary friends and playing matchmaker. Melissa loves books with unpretentious characters and unforgettable romance, and she strives to create those same kinds of stories for her readers.

Website | Blog | Twitter @MelissaMaygrove | Facebook | Google+

Melissa’s debut novel, Come Back, released Monday, May 12th, from Truelove Press.

Sometimes a single choice alters the course of a person’s life forever.

Left behind by everyone she loves…Come_Back_Ebook cover for bloggers

Rebecca Garvey had the promise of a California future dreams are made of, until the wagon train her family was traveling with left her behind. Now she’s slowly dying in the wilderness, abandoned and stripped of her self-worth. Once the shock of her desertion turns to embittered despair, she doesn’t want to be found. Then a handsome stranger challenges her convictions and changes her mind.

Headed for Texas, chased by the demons of his past…

Seth Emerson knows exactly what he wants. Working to save for a cattle ranch of his own keeps him busy and keeps his pain buried. Rescuing a stubborn woman from the hills of New Mexico Territory isn’t part of his plan—but she’s exactly what he needs.

Making greater sacrifices than either of them could foresee…

Seth and Rebecca set off on a risky journey and a quest for truth, each healing the other’s love-starved soul along the way. Will they give in to their growing attraction? Or will they honor their commitments when Seth returns Rebecca to civilization… and her betrothed?

Amazon | Kindle | Barnes & Noble | Nook | Kobo

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Thanks Melissa!

That’s a lot of great information. What was your favorite point? What did you learn?

Loni Townsend

About Loni Townsend

Wife. Mother. Writer. Ninja. Squirrel.

27 thoughts on “Woulda Shoulda Coulda – Guest Post by Melissa Maygrove

  1. Writing up the guest posts and stuff early is smart! I set my tours up early and have all posts done at least a month before they begin.
    Just think how prepared you’ll be for the next book.

    • Thanks, Alex. I guess my OCD tendencies finally paid off. LOL
      And I don’t even want to THINK about the ‘next book’ yet. I need a break! >.<

  2. I am EXHAUSTED reading this… WOW! MELISSA… you did so much and thanks for outlining this for us! If I ever go the self publishing route, I will look back at this post.

    I’m so impressed. All the best!

    Hi, Loni,

    Thanks for featuring Melissa today!

  3. Thanks for hosting me, Loni, and thanks for your kind words. I’m not anything special, just a writer passing on what others taught me. 😉

    • You are special! I’ve learned so much from you, and I’m happy to have you on my blog. 😀

  4. This is another great post, Melissa – I continue to be so impressed not only by how organized you are, but also by the quality of the posts you pre-wrote. That isn’t easy! You should put this list into Carrie Butler’s book next week!

  5. Stock image searches have threatened to be the death of me! I have clients who require I post photos with the items I write for them. The problem is, they don’t want to pay. So I have to spend hours looking through crazy free image sites. At one time, it was so hard to find good free images, I told clients I wouldn’t do that. I’d only do the paid sites because there weren’t any images on those free sites worth having. But it has gotten SO much easier now. I know Wikipedia opened up all its images to show up as free in Google Image Search and I see a lot of other great sites participating over there, as well. It’s still far easier to find good stock images on the paid sites, but it isn’t impossible to find a decent image for free now.

  6. You are so smart and together! No wonder you and Carrie are pals. I’m on book four and still not half as pro as you. But I have a list and one day…

    • I wouldn’t be this organized without Carrie. I’ve learned so much from her.

  7. Keeping a folder with bits and pieces of information to remember is a great idea.

    • I had no choice! I couldn’t have remembered everything otherwise. 😀

  8. Whew! Nicely done, Melissa. I would like to borrow some of your organizational skills, please? 😉 It seems no matter how much you do or how well you do it, there’s always something you could have done better/more etc. On covers, mine are always done, or at least in concept form, at least a year out–about the same time draft one is complete.

    Loved the post!

  9. Great insight, as usual Melissa And so generous of you to share it with us!! 🙂

    • Hey, the writing community is all over that sharing and helping each other stuff. ‘Watch one, do one, teach one,’ and all that. 😉

  10. I feel I’m still learning. There’s always more to know. Having a reliable team is essential – cover artist, editor… I’d like to add proofreader in the future.

  11. Nice. Hindsight is always the greatest tool for woulda shoulda coulda. I especially like your advice that we should write guest posts, interviews, etc. in advance. Advice I think I’ll take advantage of.

    This hindsight topic is an excellent idea for a blog post. You nailed it well. I’ll keep this idea in mind when I do my debut blog tour in a few months. Thanks for the topic inspiration. And thanks, Loni, for hosting Melissa.

    • Thanks for the kind words, Demetria.
      Let me know when your ready to do some promo. 😉

  12. It’s always so beneficial to get to see how other folks go about doing things. And I’m totally w/you on hiring out graphics and formatting, Melissa. I’d literally put myself in the loony bin if I tried to do something like that on my own! =)

  13. I’ve started finding stock before I write the manuscript, too! A LOT easier that way. xD

    Great post!

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