BTS053, The 100th Podcast Episode: Ask Me Anything on Writing, Revision, Editing, and Self Publishing

by | Authorpreneur Podcast, BTS Podcast Diary, editing, First Draft Tips, Marketing, Outlining Your Novel, Revision, Season 3: How to Outline a Story, Self-Publishing, Writing

Hello, Writers!

 

Honestly, I can’t believe I made it this far; it’s mind-blowing. I know that’s cliche, but it’s how I feel when I see that episode number. Let’s just say it has been a wild ride—a ride that is not yet over, and I’m glad I stuck with podcasting through those difficult times. And I’ve dabbled with a few great interviews and had my first-ever guests. It’s been both challenging and fun all at once.

 

In the spirit of celebrating the 100th episode milestone, I’m going answer the top questions asked by my Blog Readers, YouTube Subscribers, and Podcast Listeners, and questions asked through my Ask A Question form.

 

Disclaimer

As I prepared the notes for this episode, I decided not to include the names of the people asking the questions. And in many cases, I’ve also reworded the question asked because it contained details about the person’s story idea or current work in progress. In a few cases, I decided not to reword the question because it needs a little bit of background information to provide an answer that makes sense.

 

In a nutshell, I’m trying to respect the privacy of the people coming to me for advice. This decision comes from my background as a life and business coach and the coach and client agreement of confidentiality. However, in saying that, on my Ask A Question Form, I point out that I will share the answer with them through email and in a public forum like my blog, youtube channel, or podcast. The anonymity I provide gives people the freedom to ask those questions that can often feel too silly to ask. Quite often, you’re too scared to ask because you believe it most likely has a simple answer, but it’s not clear to you. Anyway, I hope all of that makes sense to you.

 

So, let’s get into the questions.

Q1: How do I turn a page of notes (637 words) into a story?

Sorry, but you’re not going to like my answer. It depends on what the notes are and how much information you need in order to get started. You could start outlining by fleshing out the story’s major plot points. After that, if you’re still stuck and can’t move forward, flesh out the scenes in between those points. Or, if you already have an idea for the opening scene, you could start discovery writing and open up your computer and just write the story.

 

Further Listening

During this current season of the podcast, I created a series of outlining that spanned through the following episodes:

 

So far, I’ve only published one episode on discovery writing; that episode number is TAP043.

 

Other Resources

Q2: Should you self-publish an ebook, paperback and audiobook all on the same launch date or separately?

Casting my mind back to when I published my first story, I remember feeling overwhelmed, and I didn’t want to wait; as a result, I published the ebook first, followed by the paperbacks. Looking back, I now know that this was a great decision. I recommend publishing the ebook first. Once you’re certain you’re happy with the story, and there are no plot issues pointed out by readers, then publish the paperback and other versions of the books. Things can and do go wrong, and mistakes can be missed in the proofreading phase; once I had a chapter duplicated and sent out to ARC readers, you can forget to wrap up a plot point and have a reviewer point it out on Amazon. That’s why I say to publish the ebook first; that way, you don’t have these issues prominently in print.

 

Q3: Do I need separate ISBNs for a paperback novel published through KDP Print and Ingram Spark? Some people say you need separate, while others say you can use the same one. I’m a little confused, and I’ve noticed that you use the same ISBN, and I’m wondering why.

I use the same ISBN for the paperback I publish on KDP and Ingram Spark. But both of these paperbacks are the same. For instance, they were both 5×8 and had the same content and cover—this is what matters. If they are both the same, you can use the same ISBN.

 

Q4: Is it ok to post an unpublished novel on your blog?

Yes, it’s your book. You can do what you want, but just be aware that if you enrol your book in KDP Select or Kindle Unlimited, you will need to take these posts down. Just be aware that you will need to drive traffic to your blog and give readers an incentive to join your mailing list and get future chapters.

 

Q5: I’ve heard that blogging is dead. Is this true, and is it worth doing as a fiction author? I can see the value for non-fiction authors, but I’m wondering what you’re thoughts are on the topic.

Whenever I hear someone saying blogging is dead, I don’t know what they’re talking about. Usually, what they’re saying is that they’ve been using the same blogging techniques since 2008, and it’s no longer working. Blogging is a long-term strategy that heavily relies on good search engine optimisation practices; on top of this, the competition for eyeballs on your website is fierce. Therefore, you need to captivate, entertain, and give the reader what they are looking for, all while being unique, and you need to promote your posts in order to get eyeballs on your work.

 

So-Called Expert Advice

And please ignore anyone who tells you they know what the Google Algorithm wants and why it favours certain things. Only four people in Google know what this is; sure, engineers are working on the search console, but they don’t know for sure, and none of these people are talking to SEO gurus. Google does provide basic tips on how to do this in their business profile help section, but just be aware that all other advice about ranking high on Google comes from educated guesses, not insider knowledge.

 

The latest thing I’ve heard is Google decides your content is well based on how long someone spends on the web page. This is not right for many reasons, and one, in particular, is the algorithm doesn’t know what you’re doing on the page. For instance, I have regularly gotten up from a blog page and made myself a cup of tea. From the time I boiled the kettle through to infusing the tea, throwing out the tea bag and returning to my desk, it’s been twelve minutes. Those ten minutes that I spent aren’t an indication of the quality of the content on the screen.

 

What Should You Do Instead?

This is just an educated guess, but many different things will make your content appear better to the algorithm. I don’t know this for sure, but the age of your site, great content, return visitors, and time spent on the page. But, serve your audience first before the algorithm.

 

If you want to get into blogging and take it seriously, I highly recommend you check out ProBlogger. The blog is written by Darren Rowse, and he keeps up with best practices.

 

No Shortcuts

Just know there are no shortcuts, so write great content that’s helpful and entertaining. So if you create a post on the top ten books with amateur sleuths, you provide this and give more information than book descriptions pulled from Amazon, make it your own, read all the books, and have something interesting to say. It’s YOU and your opinion that separates you from content written by other people and content written by Artificial Intelligence.

 

Q6: Is it better to wait until you have more than one book in a series before you publish the first?

This may seem like great advice on the surface, especially when you consider paid advertising, read-through, and some readers being reluctant to read books in an incomplete series. But there’s more to publishing than paid advertising. Your first book is a learning curve. I guarantee you will make mistakes and grow as a writer thanks to the feedback you’ll get from readers. Now consider if you want to make those beginner mistakes in your first two or three books, especially if they are in a series; probably not. Based upon my experience, it is better to publish that first book knowing that you might need to release a second edition later on in the future after you’ve published more books than to have three books with the same mistakes.

 

Q7: When discovery writing, how do you ensure that all the scenes and chapters you write move the story forward and not end up being wasted words that are deleted during revisions?

I don’t think wasted words should be a concern because a scene that enables you to figure out the story but doesn’t make it into the final version of the story is still helpful and important—just because something doesn’t contribute to the final word count doesn’t mean it’s not essential. But a rule of thumb I use when discovery writing is—something needs to happen in every scene that moves the story forward, whether it’s a character moment that helps the reader connect to the character, or you’re placing an obstacle in the main character’s path. You get it; something needs to happen. The scenes need to exist for a reason, and it needs to stand on their own by having a beginning and an end.

 

Q8: How do I know when it’s time to finish revising and start working with an editor?

Usually, when I write a novel to an outline, I reach a point in the revision process where I can’t bare to work on my story any longer. This happens a few times, but there’s a point where I can’t even bribe myself—I just feel done with the book; this is when I start working with an editor. The more you write, the more you will get a feel for when the time is right for you. There are no hard and fast rules, but beware that the earlier you engage an editor, the more expensive it will cost.

 

Q9: Can you recommend an editor to me?

No, the reason behind this is finding an editor is like dating. So, what works for me may not work for you. The best thing to do is search online for the type of editor you need and request a sample edit. I highly recommend selecting a piece of your manuscript from the middle because, usually, this is the most raw piece of writing in a book, and you’ll get a more accurate quote from the editor. Be wary of editors who don’t use tracked changes because this is the industry standard. And, if you’re not sure whether an editor is qualified, either move on or ask for their qualifications.

 

Q10: I’ve grown tired of revising my first novel, and I want to move forward and start editing, but I don’t know if I’m actually ready or just sick of revising. And what type of editing do I need? For instance, do I need developmental editing? It’s very expensive, and I’m not sure if I can afford to spend that much money.

Instead of using a developmental editor, you might want to consider using a paid beta reader or two instead of a developmental editor—I recommend using more than one. The reason I suggest using a paid beta reader instead of a free one found on Reddit or GoodReads is, usually, a professional or paid beta reader will have a list of criteria they look for as they read and often leave notes on the manuscript using comments in Word. I find these inline comments because you get a reader’s initial reaction to your work. After this, you might want to make any revisions and then hire a line editor and a proofreader—it’s crucial that these two editors are different people. One last tip: I recommend reading the manuscript between these edits and after the proofreading before you start the publishing process.

 

Q11: How long did it take for you to get consistent book sales when publishing-wide? I’ve only got two books published, and I get zero sales unless I set my books to free or 99¢ and then use promotional sites like Fussy Librarian? I know this is a cheeky thing to ask, but you seem pretty open about money topics and book sales stats.

I’m not sure if I can technically call what I’m experiencing as “consistent sales.” So, the short answer is, “I’m yet to find out.” And now for the long answer. In 2020, I published my first book, which I later revised twice, once to fix a plot issue and the second to change the ending because I wrote myself into a corner.

 

  • 2020 – (January) Missing/Suspicion (First Edition)
  • 2020 – (July) Missing/Suspicion (Second Edition)
  • 2020 – (July) The Lawn
  • 2021 – (July) Suspicion (Third Edition)
  • 2021 – (Oct) The Candidate
  • 2022 – (Oct) Suspicion listed as permanently free
  • 2022 – (Nov) Duplicity
  • 2023 – (April) The Locked Room (Published Book Five)

 

My Publishing Backstory

Since January, I’ve been getting a few book sales per month on Amazon without any advertising. This excludes free downloads. I think this is because of a few things. First, I write in a series, or all books I’ve published exist in the same world and have the same protagonist. The second thing worth noting is that I publish in multiple formats (ebook, paperback, and large print paperback) for every story. My first in the series is set as permanently free. And, lastly, I’ve published five books in the same story universe with the same main character.

 

My Theory Around My Sales

I think the sales I’m receiving now are due to the fact that I’ve built up a following over the years on Amazon—it’s currently sitting at 85, the last time I checked. On top of this, I’ve kept publishing books and reached book five, so I’m more discoverable than when I was after my first two, but barely; it’s still early days. So, I’m guessing that the more I publish, the better it will get. When looking at sales, you also need to consider the economic climate. Not only are their more books waiting to be found, but money is tight for many people right now, so reading has become a luxury. It’s sad, but it’s true. So, don’t be down about your sales figures, especially after a second book when you’re publishing wide. Keep going and ensure your next book is better than your last.

 

Sales Figures *

The book sales stats I’m going to share with you relate to sales on Amazon only and not the other stores. Since March, I’ve been getting reads on Kobo Plus for Duplicity, but technically these are not sales. Also, the free downloads I’ve been consistently getting from Amazon, Kobo, SmashWords, Barnes and Noble, and Google Play are not included.

  • March: 6
  • April: 9
  • May 4

 

* Excluding free downloads, with zero book marketing expenditure, just organic sales.

Concluding Thoughts

So, that concludes this asking me anything on writing, revision, editing and self-publishing episode. If you have a question you’d love to ask me relating to writing fiction or non-fiction, then fill out this form. All questions answered in this show and past or future episodes will be listed on the FAQ page unless you ask me through my Patreon account; those will not be listed on my blog and kept privately on Patreon.

 

In the next episode of the podcast, I will be the behind-the-scenes author diary for May then I will share the long-awaited episode on the anatomy of a scene.

 

Thank you for watching or listening, and happy reading and writing, everybody. 

 

Amelia xx

 

* DISCLAIMER: This blog post contains affiliate links (marked with an *), which means if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive a small commission. The commission helps support the blog and allows us to continue to make content like this. Thank you for your support. 🙂

 

Have you found the blog and podcast useful? Wish you could buy the host, Amelia D. Hay, a cup of coffee. Now, thanks to Buy Me a Coffee, you can!

Amelia D. Hay

Written by Amelia D. Hay

I’m Amelia. When I’m not hosting the Authorpreneur Podcast™️ and the Book Nerd Podcasts, I write Mystery Novels under the pen name A. D. Hay. And, I’m the author of Suspicion, the Lawn, and the Candidate.

On this blog, I help new writers to finish their first draft, prepare their manuscripts for professional editing, and when they get stuck in the first draft phase or are confused about the revision process.

Right now, I’m editing and preparing my soon to be published mystery novels, Suspicion, Duplicity, 24 Hours, and Immunity for publication.

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