Working on getting cover art for the next book, “Komenagen: Slog” done. Initial sketches look good, and have been accepted. Moving forward on it. The art will include enough “generic” background on the left that it will make for good wrap-around art for the paper-printed book, giving the spine and back a distinctive appearance, too. Should be done and published before the end of October. Once final copy is done, I’ll post an example here.
Never really thought of myself as a trend-setter. I took a look at JK Rowling’s latest book, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child the other day.
It’s in a modified screenplay format. Wow. How exciting! Daring, even! Who’d ever think a book like that could sell? And to think that nearly all the one and two-star reviews of my book were because of the format.
Not completed, but done enough to have an editor give it a first pass read-through to look at inconsistencies, plot holes, places that need fleshing out or alterations, etc. Roughly 122k words. There are a few places I’m not really happy with, but not sure exactly what to do about them. Paul thinks it’s fine, but then he doesn’t know what all has been rolling around in my brain (likely a good thing). So, for the moment, it’s >95% done, and I’m letting someone that hasn’t a clue where it’s going or what I’ve cut or how I’ve switched it around thinks about it. No idea how soon I’ll hear back, but some people are very fast readers. Might be a day or two, might be a month. Then I can talk it over, see what I need to tweak, then we can do the serious nitty-gritty editing.
In unrelated but significant news, I got a long-term subbing job at a local middle school, teaching math and science. That is GREAT for income (I made about as much from TSCB, in total net, as I make from two months teaching), but it also means less time to write. So I’ll be rather busy, and not making huge leaps of progress. But I also plan to keep picking away at “Komenagen: Slog” for a while, and it might be finished by the end of summer.
Over at Vox’s blog he had a post about Amazon’s editor’s pick for books. Among other things he said “a novel consists of four elements, Style, Story, Characters, and Ideas.”
I worked a long time on TSCB, and I thought it had some great characters, a solid story, and some interesting ideas, and the writing style was what I like to call “serviceable,” that is, clear and easily read and understood. Not particularly flashy or eloquent, more Hemingway than highbrow.
I knew it needed polish, so I hired an editor, and I think I got a good one. She worked hard on it, and she definitely improved it, but it was a process that definitely raised my blood pressure whenever I received an email from her. She made a lot of very good criticisms, and my writing absolutely improved. But when she started making a second pass to polish it up a bit, I suddenly realized after struggling mightily with a massively rewritten paragraph that I liked my original version (well, slightly modified by the first pass) much better. And, more importantly, I was able to put my finger on what exactly the problem was. I like simple, clear, easy to read and understand prose that means exactly what it said, and the heavily rewritten version was what I saw as being much more “literary.” It didn’t sound like me, or my characters, at all. I said “I’m done.” I finished up by rejecting many of the most recent edits, asked her what I owed her, made sure the formatting looked good, and hit the big PUBLISH button.
I like clean, simple, easy-to-understand sentences. I like having likable characters. Occasional poetic passages to capture a mood are fine, but an unending series of bad things happening to bad people in a depressing story? No, I’ll take a pass on that. I don’t care how great the style is, if I don’t like the characters, I can’t learn anything useful from them, and there is no significance or value or cool ideas in the story, then it’s a waste of my time.
It’s been too long since my last update. Life proceeds. Earning a paycheck, kids, and ordinary home life take a lot of time.
I’d like to take a moment to respond to reviews of The Stars Came Back that people have posted. It may be the start of a series.
I’d like to address all the one star Amazon reviews first. There are eight of them at this time. Every one of them mentioned the screenplay-esque format as being a major problem for the reviewer. I trust it was not a surprise, given the 30 pages+ of free preview. Sorry if it didn’t float your boat, but that’s how it started out. If you are willing to give the story another shot, I’ve finished the normal prose version and handed it off to an editor to work over, and I’m expecting it to be done any day. Castalia House, my publisher, will be releasing a military fiction / essay anthology soon, and because I have a short story that takes place in TSCB’s universe included, I’m assuming they’d like to release both at the same time. Then you can see if you can find out why the five-star folks liked it. I know no story will appeal to everyone *shrug* C’est la vie. Considering this oddly-formatted book has 116 reviews and only 8 are one-star, I’ll live with it, and while I won’t enjoy it, I do value honest feedback. Continue reading Too long
I’ve finished rewriting the story into traditional prose format, and emailed it to the editor for a flogging. It added about 5k words. I’ll likely have some minor updates to the graphics as well. Aiming for summer release.
I think “editing” can be defined as: The act of rearranging mistakes and replacing them with new ones elsewhere, in an attempt to make things better. But gradually, like sand blowing in the wind and carried in the rivers that gradually wears down giant boulders, typos and mistakes disappear. Nearly done.
I uploaded it to Amazon, put in all my information, and am now working on tweaking the formatting of things while awaiting final replies from a couple of proof-readers before I go live. Getting graphics right, bullet points, all the rest, will be interesting. Once I get these replies, and the formatting looks OK on their previewer (which, no surprise, doesn’t quite look exactly like it does on my discontinued model Kindle after going through a Calibre conversion into a MOBI file), I’ll let people know. Continue reading Flinging format
I have concluded that using a professional editor is a very good idea. That said, I also think it is important to keep your editing goals in mind, and make them explicit. I have determined that my goals are not literary, but commercial. Brilliant phrasing and eloquence and perfection in word selection are great if they happen to happen, but spending endless time aiming for them gets in the way. All I desire is Clear, Correct, Consistent, Concise, and Done. Brain-cycles spent doing more than that, for me, are wasted.
Clear: Is it easy for the reader to understand what I am saying?
Correct: Does it follow proper conventions, and did I say what I meant to say?
Consistent: Does the style and format stay true to itself, so the reader doesn’t get goofed up on things that are not really a part of the story?
Concise: Aim more for Hemingway than Rand, but don’t be obsessive about it, because–
Done: Without this, the rest is wasted. Don’t play ivory tower, think Larry the Cable Guy, and just git ‘er done.
Your choices might be different, because you might have different goals… just be clear what your goals are.
I’ve come to the conclusion that doing much more editing has a marginal utility approaching zero, and possibly has negative value to me. Yes, spending more time working with my editor might improve the writing slightly, but I think the ROI in terms of sales or time isn’t acceptable. The writing is good enough for most people, and more dollars spent on it won’t measurably increase sales but will cost cash I don’t have and delay the launch, while more minutes spent on it will only rise my frustration levels and will decrease time spent writing new stuff. So I’m now working to wrap up the details of formatting, cover art, other art, Amazon stuff, and other details I didn’t even know existed before I started this thing. Target is before the end of the month. Fingers crossed, but it looks like the home stretch is here.