And still proofing…

So my “early August” release is slipping to “mid August” release. Over the past couple (three?) weeks I’ve been proofing my book.

Here’s what I did:

  1. Uploaded the book to Createspace; generated & downloaded a PDF proof
  2. I’m reading the PDF on my ‘puter with the MS Word file open at the same time. If I find a mistake or something I really, really can’t live with, then I change it on the spot.
  3. Then I make a note of what I changed in a text file. On the next proof (yes, there will be one), I will specifically check the stuff that I changed.

That final proof will be in Vellum (the software I’m using to format the ebook & print version). There’s a “preview” feature in the software that lets you see what the book will look like on a Kindle, Nook, etc. I’ll proof it that way rather than in Word or PDF again.

Once everything is as clean and correct as I can possibly make it, then I’ll upload the final files, change the launch date on Amazon & let ‘er rip.

Middle of August, I swear.

 

__

The photo above is another I took at Glacier Bay in Alaska. You can see one of the glaciers on the far left.

 

Making progress

This morning my proofreader sent back the corrected manuscript. It’s pretty clean so it won’t take that long to finalize (ideally). Early August is still looking good for the launch.

In the past month I’ve been outlining and re-outlining BK2. I want to avoid the cycle of “rip apart, re organize, re do” that I experienced in writing BK1. Most of that was just being a new author and trying to figure out how to write a book.

Regardless, I want to avoid that on BK2 so I planning the book down to the scene before I start writing. Granted I have about 30K words already written, but much of that is gonna get thrown out. This is what I want prevent moving forward.

This is probably too much detail, but here’s my current outlining process:

  • Open the manuscript for BK2 in Scrivener; Get out my trusty notebook & pencil.
  • Outline in the notebook by POV and day.
    • I have my manuscript organized by Day — 17 through 28 in this case. Each day is further divided into morning, afternoon and evening. Each scene is placed in one of those folders.
    • Each scene is a POV. I color code each POV so I can tell at a glance how well I’m alternating between POVs.
  • Go through each POV character (Odin, Frigg, etc.) and figure out what their scene is about.
    • While I’m doing that I note who else is present (particularly if it’s another POV), what they’re doing and what they will be doing.
    • Most of this is written in my notebook, but I’ll often move stuff around in Scrivener, add notes, etc.
    • I’ve caught quite a few “uh that’s not possible” errors just by nailing down where various characters are and will be.
  • Outlining with pencil & paper also makes it really apparent when certain plot lines are weak. For example, Odin, Loki and Frigg all have 3+ handwritten pages each. Vidar and Vafthrudnir have one each. Oops. Hermod starts strong but then vanishes from the book after the middle build.
    • This lack of character/plot development was the main reason for having to repeatedly take BK1 apart & reassemble it — because I just wrote scenes and then organized them.
    • Outlining & brainstorming in advance should help solve that problem.
  • When I get what I think is a really good idea I’ll switch to the keyboard. Not only is it faster, but I want to capitalize on the inspiration. And writing a bit here & there helps.

My goal is to get the outline for BK2 finished by the end of August. That’ll give me four months to draft the book and then polish it before sending to my editor in early January 2018.

Launching in August

I just sent my manuscript to my proofreader. I’ve no idea how extensive her changes will be, but I’m guessing it’ll take me at least a couple weeks to go through them.

Once I get my book back from the proofreader, I’m going to put the book up for pre-order on Amazon. The max pre-order duration is 90 days. Actually it’s more like 86 since you have to account for re-uploading the final manuscript.

Either way, ~90 days will give me plenty of time to revise, fiddle and dither. Once the pre-order’s been live for ~30 days, I’ll advance the launch and make the book available in early August.  I’ll be launching into KDP Select / Kindle Unlimited.

The advantage to preordering is that the “also-boughts” begin to populate before the book’s actually available (Assuming people are browsing to it & pre-ordering.) Beyond that, the book and my forthcoming author page may also garner interest.

As a first-time author, my expectations are low. (But I’m hopeful!) My approach to the launch is basically “fire and forget” — no marketing and advertising beyond this blog and word of mouth. (I may run a bare bones ad budget of Amazon ads as an experiment.)

If I had more books (minimum 3), then advertising would make more financial / ROI sense since I could do things like create a box set, make the first book perma-free, discount the 2nd, etc. If things go as planned, though, I won’t have three books until September 2019.

That third book should complete the first story arc. My fourth book will be in the same Norse-inspired universe but will introduce new characters while most of those POVs in books 1-3 will have cameos. This is all assuming that my traction on books 1-3 increases over time. I’ve no idea if that’ll happen. If it doesn’t, then I’ll re-evaluate. But, I’ll be writing books 4-6 as a standalone (if related) series; BK4 will be a new entry point.

In the immediate term, I’ve a few things to do in preparation for my August launch:

  • Revisit my blurbs & bio. I haven’t looked at those in months so I should be able to rip into ’em a bit more easily
  • Figure out how to integrate a mailing list sign-up to this blog. I suspect it’s as easy as paying more money and clicking on stuff. I’ll probably use Mailchimp since it appears to be the most commonly used and its “Forever Free” plan will be more than sufficient for my needs. The most annoying part of the mailing list will be paying the USPS for a PO Box.
  • Figure out how CreateSpace formatting works. I want physical books to be available for marketing purposes.
  • Figure out how ebook formatting works. I’ve compiled multiple ebooks using both Scrivener and Word as the basis, but I’m assuming that I’ve missed something goofy (weird glitches, errors, etc.).
  • Finalize my front matter
  • Create my back matter — the call to action (leave a review and/or subscribe to my mailing list).
  • Finalize the three chapters from BK2 that I’m including at the end of BK1. The sequence will go like this: BK1 ends > call to action > first three chapters of BK2 > 2nd call to action.

And then, of course, I need to keep moving forward on BK2 or I’ll never make my Jan 2018 deadline. Regardless, it’s good to have the end (of BK1) in sight.

Book progress…

I’ve just now sent my line editor about 2K words for a re-edit. On June 5th I will submit the “final” manuscript to my proofreader.

I’m assuming it’ll take her about a month to make her edits.

I’ve no idea how long it will take me to go through all of her changes. Probably anywhere from two weeks to a month.

Realistically, I’m guessing the book will launch in August.

All righty…back to writing BK2!

 

BK2

Last week I tentatively reserved January 2018 for the first developmental edit of BK2. I’m using the same editor as I did for my line edit. I like her, I trust her and we have a good working relationship.

Currently, I’m planning two rounds of “content” editing — first one focuses on story, plot, character, etc. Then I get it back and spend ~6 weeks revising. Then I send back to her. She evaluates how well I executed on the suggestions, etc., in the first round.

Then, I spend another ~6 weeks revising. Once I’ve done that, I send it back for the line edit.

Tired yet? I am and I haven’t even done any of it yet.

After the line edit, which focuses more on language use, I again go through and make changes.

Then I go down to the pub and have a few drinks. Or maybe I do that before making the edits.

Once I’ve finished with the line edits, the book is ready for the proofreader. She’ll have it for a month. Then I revise…and THEN I publish.

Rough math, I should be ready to publish BK2 by September/October 2018. Crazy.

And probably somewhere around next year this time (call it May 2018) I’ll ask for the January 2019 editing slot…and begin writing BK3.

I’m not used to these long planning horizons — or writing books, lol — but just thinking about it is helping rekindle my excitement for the series (these months upon months of revision have been really draining).

That revitalization became clear to me this morning after I’d written a scene between Frigg and one of her sons.

It was one of those where you have an idea/sense of what needs to happen, but it’s not entirely in focus. And then you slip into that zone, time fades, and the words just flow. It’s not perfect by any means, but it delivers some solid emotion and achieves what I needed.

I have eight months to get BK2 into a state where it’s ready for an editor. That’s entirely doable particularly since I have the whole thing plotted and planned. And, much of it’s written. Of course much also needs to be rewritten and added, but that’ll happen.

Just gotta get crackin.

Finally, almost done.

After about six weeks of revision, I sent my book to my second editor this past Monday.

Finally.

Six weeks sounds impressive, but it was probably about 70 hours of work. Ish. I’m not really sure. Lot of other stuff going on.

And, of course, I grew so thoroughly sick of looking at the book that revising it became difficult. Multiple times I had to stop myself hating on it by saying: “she edited this already, she didn’t throw up on it, move along.”

There remains a great deal in the book that I’m not happy with. But, I’ve always felt like this about stuff I’ve written & rewritten (ad nauseum); I imagine most writers feel similarly.

I also decided that absent Fenrir-sized errors, it’s time to put this sucker out in the world. If peeps hate on it, well, so be it. Learning experience.

I also realized this past week that it’s been about 6 months since I’ve written anything genuinely new. Depressing.

So, it’s time to move on. There’s more story I want to tell.

 

Line edit’s back…

The graphic above gives a sense of what it looks like. Every single page of the manuscript looks like that. It’s glorious.

The past few weeks I’ve been:

  1. Working on the marketing blurb & author bio … getting close
  2. Finding & finalizing names for stuff
  3. Worldbuilding my fictional culture’s afterlife.
  4. Outlining and re-outlining Book 2, along with some scene writing when the spirit moved me.

It’s been tough really throwing myself into BK2 knowing that I’d have to interrupt that effort by diving back into BK1’s revision.

With this revision I need to work on a few things (as noted by my editor)

  1. Scene opening & closing hooks: I start too many scenes by “describing the stage” — showing what’s there, who’s standing where, etc. She recommended starting with action–which I did in some scenes, but not in all. Nailing these help propel a reader thru the book.
  2. Without even realizing it I’d written more than 300 “half-” constructions (half-dozen, half-slid, half a company…half-assed ;)). I never would have caught those on my own. So, I’m eliminating half of them. 😉
  3. Eliminate “stage business”: These are phrases like turning and looking. Her advice to fix this was to “Use interiority to show what the viewpoint character is thinking or feeling at that moment, or get the characters interacting with the world you’ve built around them.”
  4. Reduce “over-writing” / “purple prose”: I didn’t do too much of this, but where she noted those instances I actually LOL’d when I read them again. I doubt I would’ve noticed  these without her. Note that some writers’ styles involve “flowery” prose. Nothing wrong with that–but it’s not my style, so when I slid into “purple-osity” it was especially jarring.

Fortunately, there was only ONE plot point that I didn’t resolve sufficiently. Wewt! That said, I do have a bunch of continuity issues to iron out (which I expected). I also have to replace all the placeholders — mostly names for people & things. Not a big deal, thanks to search & replace.

On Feb 28 I send my corrected manuscript to my proofreader. She advised me to take at least a month to work thru the line edits (I’d only planned on two weeks).

I am SO glad I followed her advice.

It’s been 19 days…

Since my last post. Long time. Lotta ground covered between then and now. Proverbially.

With less than two weeks left till my deadline, here’s what I’ve done so far:

  • Revised / tweaked Odin’s plot and, hopefully, improved his character arc.
  • Frigg’s plot & character have been adjusted, too, but that’s not quite finished. I’m currently adding a few scenes that introduce her daughter (Hermod) earlier in the book which means I also have to drip Hermod in throughout the book so she doesn’t stand out like a sore thumb. She gets a POV in Book 2, so it’s for a cause beyond BK1 alone. I’m also giving Baldr a “save the cat” moment…which is probably too “on the nose” as they say.
  • Hyrrokin’s been ripped out, aside from a couple mentions. Her POV has been taken over by Vafthrudnir’s to the extent it made sense.
  • Having given Vafthrudnir a more active role I’ve been able to shed more light on how the Jotunn approach magic (as compared to the Aesir, Vanir and Alvar).
    • I’ve also introduced a new non-POV character named Keila. She’s a shaman who Vafthrudnir’s taken under his wing. She seemed to write herself as I fleshed out Vaft.
    • I expect Keila will have a role to play moving forward, but I’ve no detailed idea what it’ll be. Stupid subconscious.
  • Vafthrudnir appeared in several scenes along with Loki and the Skrymir. That’s no longer the case, as Vaft’s arc requires him elsewhere. As a result, I’ve been able to tweak about half of Loki’s arc and much of the Skrymir’s (since I was working in those scenes already). Now Loki’s plot is better intertwined with the Jotunn’s plan.
  • Vidar’s also been removed from multiple early-middle scenes. I’ve yet to dive into tweaking his entire plot; but there’s not that much to do there (relatively speaking).
  • When I can’t focus on a particular POV, I’ve jumped around making other changes — mostly stylistic (word usage, phrasing, etc.).

I’ve also been reviewing covers with my illustrator. I rejected his first attempt b/c it was absolutely terrible. His second attempt pretty much nailed it, I think (and a few folks have confirmed it). For me, the whole point of the cover is twofold:

  1. Make a promise to the reader — this is the kinda book you’re gonna get if you click
  2. Be cool enough visually to get the reader to click.

I think (hope/pray) my cover will do that. I may post it when I own it.

Other than providing good direction to my artist, my marketing-/cover-related challenges have been writing the blurb, bio and coming up with a title. All three are really, really tough. It’s sales copy, basically. It’s goal is to deliver on the cover’s visual promise and get the “clicker” to click again–downloading a sample, borrowing it (KU*) or buying it.

So, by Dec 5, 9 am, I have to:

  • Finalize the cover, title, blurb and bio (I may have more time than 2 weeks on this)
  • Finish Frigg’s arc off
  • Tweak Vidar’s arc
  • Go through each & every scene at least once to address tone, continuity, etc., so that the book both reads better and there are no glaring snags. Once the line edit comes back, I’ll be doing all of that again, of course, but writing is rewriting and my goal is perfection…to the extent possible given my burgeoning skills.

When I was writing papers in college all those many (many) winters ago, I knew I was done when just the thought of another rewrite turned my stomach. I’m nearly there now.

 

 

___

* Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited

The traveling cast…

This past month I’ve eased up on the writing throttle. I dropped from a ~16 hour/week writing schedule back to about 6 hours/week. I’ve written a few scenes, edited some others but, mostly, I’ve focused on outlining.

In prior posts I’d mentioned how bloody that process was (and will continue to be). The new structure works pretty well (atm), but it needs a lot of work. Most of the existing ~60K words will get heavily edited or thrown out wholesale. Much of that’s b/c: the writing’s crap, scenes are moved around, characters removed (or added) to scenes, etc.

To reorganize BK2 I focused on travel times. Boring, but necessary since there’s a ton of travel. I’ve already mentioned Hermod’s journey, but along with that:

  • Frigg’s stuck in Gladsheim managing things, but then she leaves to speak with a Jotunn woman named Thokk. She has to be back in Gladsheim for the final scene(s).
  • Vaft & Hyrrokin have to get from Jotunheim to Gladsheim. Because reasons.
  • Odin arrives back (late) and aside from a quick jaunt down to see the Norns and then, a bit later, to the High Seat with Heimdall, he stays in Gladsheim.
  • Freyr and Freyja travel from Alvheim and Vanaheim, respectively, to Gladsheim. And, then, oops, Odin asks if Freyr brought Skidbladnir. No, Freyr, says, I rode Gullinbursti. Well dangit, Odin says, I need that ship. How long to get it here? (BTW, this is all prep for BK3.)
  • Thor zips into Gladsheim (b/c of the culminating event in BK1), Frigg orders him into Utgard’s frozen north (b/c of what Vidar found there), but he then HAS to be back in time for BK2’s climactic scenes.
  • Loki meets Odin “on screen” for the first time and then, at Frigg’s request, goes to Helheim. Then he has to get back to Gladsheim.
  • Vidar has to get back from Utgard, get to Vithi (his home), get to Gladsheim, get to Ifington, get back to Gladsheim and be present for the climactic scene.
    • One of the major changes I made was splitting up Vidar and Loki. In the “first” draft, I had them paired up for what I thought were good, dramatic, tension-raising reasons.
    • Then I decided it was silly and didn’t make sense time-wise. So, now they’re both alone & doing their own things.

So, with all that done, I’m really, really hoping that it’s not work in vain. Because, by Monday, I’ll have my editor’s comments back. Major changes to BK1 will ripple into the subsequent books.

/crosses fingers