Novel Status Update – April 9, 2018

It’s been a while since I’ve updated you on my novel (sorry), so here’s where we are right now: I’ve updated the novel based on the very helpful Beta Reviewers’ feedback, and it’s now with my editor for six weeks. I’m expecting it back from her around the end of April, which should give me the month of May to update it from her feedback, and get a final version up for sale on Amazon in June (woo-hoo!).

The Beta Review was great, and showed me several places that were confusing or inconsistent, and I made some changes that will hopefully address that. I also learned that despite my careful efforts to change every applicable pronoun for a character that I decided late to change gender on, I still left a few “him”s that should have been “her”s. All of this really reinforced for me that it will be worth it to pay for a professional editor to help me make this the best it can be.

I should also mention that I really wanted to focus the Beta Reviewers on specific things like story, characters, and settings, so I set up a survey using Google Forms that they could fill out online. This helped me greatly to organize the twelve responses, and get some answers to common questions.

A few reviewers complained about over-explanation, of which I readily admit I’m guilty, in real life as well as writing. A non-spoiler example of this were various views with the star in the immediate background. When I was writing this, I was perhaps too focused on hypothetical readers complaining that the characters would get blinded, so I was careful to always mention that the windows had automatic filters to darken this. Unfortunately, it felt to several readers like I was clubbing them over the head with this. Easy fix: I deleted mention of the filter after the first couple mentions. But this does show me how sometimes focusing on one aspect can lead you to mess up another aspect.

Some of the Beta Reviewers’ comments were less specific: scenes that were too slow, or dragged on too long, or characters that weren’t as fully developed as the readers would have liked. I passed these on to the editor to see what she thought before I made any changes.

Some encouraging feedback included:

  • Nobody found it too complicated (I was worried about this earlier)
  • Most found the action scenes very exciting
  • 2/3 said it sometimes kept them up at night reading.
  • 70% would give it 4 or 5 stars on Amazon

So as I mentioned above, I’m more convinced than ever that I need a professional editor to help me get this the best it can be. Some authors do a Beta Review instead of paying an editor, but I don’t think that’s necessarily wise. At least not for a newbie author. I expect to learn from the editor not just how to improve this book, but how to improve my writing for future work. Maybe on some future book, I’ll feel confident to go without an editor, but not on this one.

Speaking of which, since I have some time waiting for her feedback, I’m working on plots for follow-on books (and a short story). One Beta comment that really encouraged me was that the concept I created here, for the means of getting from star to star, and the community of planets that results, is pretty unique in sci-fi, and intriguing. So I’m definitely planning on writing more. I’ve got a couple more plots figured out at a high level (one of which I need to save for the last book, since it answers some of the big questions).

But my first priority is a short story about one of the main characters, to focus on a particular event in his backstory. I intend to use this as a “lead magnet”, to get people to sign up for my email list (i.e., sign up for the list, and you get the story for free). My research into independent publishing shows that having an email list of your readers is critical. For example, when the second book comes out, I need to inform everyone who bought the first book. So at the end of the first book, there’ll be an offer to get the story by signing up. I’ve also got an idea about a different lead magnet, but I’ll leave that to another blog post.

To sign up for my email list, and be notified when the novel is available on Amazon, click here.

Author: RickAAllenSF

Semi-retired engineer, now a SF author

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