BTS003: Alpha Readers, Writers Insecurity, and Relaunching a Non-Fiction Book
Happy Wednesday, Writers!
I must confess the last fortnight didn’t go exactly to plan. I started the two weeks off with the best of intentions, to revise the first draft of Immunity, but I had a few struggles. Just the usual ones like procrastination, tech issues, changing podcast platforms. By the way that isn’t as easy as it sounds.
BTS003, Alpha Readers and Writer's Insecurity
The Podcast is on iTunes
It was quite difficult, and it’s something that’s quite new to me. I’ve done the podcasting thing before. I did a short audio series, on SoundCloud with my coaching business. It was a mini-podcast, but that’s about as far as I’ve got. I didn’t consider submitting it to iTunes, Stitcher, or any of the other millions of Android platforms. I just hosted it there, and that was it. You’re probably listening to this on iTunes, Stitcher, or your favourite platform. And you’ve noticed I’ve posted my podcast there. So, I’ve crossed off one of my goals for October. I’m quite proud of myself. I’ve ticked this huge box off my list for October, which is great.
The Last Cookie I’ll Ever Eat
As I got ready to record the podcast, I had an anaphylactic reaction to a cookie. I was recording episode 12 of the Indie Authorpreneur podcast. I’d recorded the introduction, and I was hungry. So, I decided that I wanted to snack on a cookie. I pressed pause, and I went into the kitchen. So I had my snack, and 15 minutes later I’m back recording the podcast. All of a sudden I had this overwhelming feeling to vomit. I paused the podcast then turned around and looked into the mirror. My face, honestly looked like I had just undergone Botox and it went horribly wrong. My lips swelled up. They were huge and red. The entire bottom part of my face swelled up as well. I looked super sexy, and I could barely swallow.
The Cookie vs the Podcast
This was quite a serious allergic reaction, and as a result, I couldn’t talk. I had two podcasts to record. Now that I’ve had time to think. This was after my weekend to France because I had the cookies. This was after France. I wanted to record The Indie Authorpeneur Podcast episode 12, before France. But I couldn’t, because of the noise in the apartment. I went to France then came back and tried to record it, but had the anaphylaxis reaction. Over the next few hours, I couldn’t swallow, or talk, and I wanted to record two podcasts that day. I wanted to record this episode of behind the scenes, and episode 12. I just couldn’t physically record. The rest of my afternoon was spent running around our apartment looking for an antihistamine to get the face swelling down. It did eventually go down; it took about four hours before I was back to normal. When you take an antihistamine, you get super tired. I didn’t want to sleep because I know it’s quite dangerous to sleep if you’ve had a bad allergic reaction. Not a good idea.
I’m Behind in Podcast Episodes
This week’s behind the scenes podcast will be behind the scenes of the last few weeks. In order for you to understand why there’s such a huge gap between episode two and episode three, I thought you needed to understand this whole story and my bad habits of putting things off. I do live in an apartment. The other people who have apartments in the building are into door slamming in a huge way. It’s practically a comedy. Instead of taking their tension out on a treadmill at the gym like most people, these people love slamming doors. If I leave it too late in the week to record my podcast, I can’t record it because of the background noise. I spend a lot of time re-recording stuff, and it becomes a huge frustration. So, I’m aware of that now. But, I do have a slight tendency of putting stuff off.
Trouble with Revision
In episode two of my Behind the Scenes diary, I discussed a few issues I was having with the science behind Immunity. As I sat around the dinner table at Roland’s parents’ house answering questions about the status of my book, I had a realisation. I had to choices laying before me. I could choose to pick Roland’s father’s brain. Just a side note: Roland’s father is a pathologist and a professor at a local university. Or, I could finish revising Immunity, then translate it into French and give it to him to alpha read.
What is an alpha reader? This type of reader is the first person to set eyes on your manuscript. This usually happens before a developmental edit. This is how I’m choosing to use my alpha readers. You would usually give your manuscript to someone just to look at the story and give story feedback. Or you give to, in Roland’s father’s case, an expert to look. I need to figure out if the science in Immunity is believable. I’m writing a thriller and not a Sci-Fi. Immunity does have an element of Sci-Fi element, but it needs to have some basis in reality. The science needs to be believable. I’m more concerned about whether I’m capturing the process of drug creation correctly and I’m starting to question the plausibility of my book.
I’m also starting to realise I might be using my desire to get the science right as an excuse to put off revisions. The truth is I’m a little scared. I’m worried that as I approach publication, I might have a story that no one is interested in. I have a huge fear of hitting publish and hearing crickets because I have a bad story, not due to poor marketing. This is that infamous writer’s insecurity that has finally set in.
As I was writing Immunity, I was excited because I knew what I wanted the final product to look like. But, now I’m revising, and I’ve realised there’s a long way to go before I get to that final product. The way I envision this book to read and look like, and seeing that huge gap between expectation and reality is what’s creating this fear. It’s a huge thing.
As I wrote this first draft I did flip between, I’m excited to write this to I’m a little bit s#@t. This is the reality that I’m currently in right now. I’m starting to get that writer’s insecurity. And for me, it set in during revision.
How do I plan on overcoming this insecurity?
I don’t plan on living in this insecurity. First, as I mentioned earlier, I’m going to accept the science in Immunity as is, and wait until my professional says otherwise.
Secondly, I’m going to start revising in time sprints. I watched Chris Fox’s series on writing a novel in 21 days. Fox wrote and revised his novel in 20-minute sprints. It’s a great series. I watched it many months ago. As I prepared the notes for this episode and thought, How am I going to overcome this? I was reminded of this challenge. I’m going to go back and watch the series again, write a few notes, and apply that to my situation.
In the event I come across a challenging revision note that requires further research, I’ll just write a note to do this later on. This will free me up to move onto the next scene. After the revision sprints, I will do further research, or write a question to ask Roland’s father during the alpha read.
How did I get on with this?
That was my plan at the end of week one. How did I get on with this in week two? I spent three full days (so, three lots of eight hour days, last week) powering through the first act of Immunity. There’s something about sharing a goal that motivates me. I guess it’s the punishment of having to tell people I didn’t reach my goals that’s really what motivates me. Since the first week, I’ve gotten through to the end of the first act of Immunity. This first act is 23,571 words. Last night I finished revising the first two scenes of act two.
Relaunching a SMARTER Goal Setting
Since my interview with Paul Teague from the Self-Publishing Journeys podcast, I’ve been thinking about my book SMARTER goal setting. Every time someone asks me about this book I die a little bit on the inside. I know that’s overdramatic, but I do. There’s a part of me that thinks, Oh, please don’t ask me about that book, please don’t buy it. Every time I get a sale for this book, and I still do get sales now and then I think, Oh no. There’s a part of me that hopes people don’t read it, and that’s ridiculous; right? I’ve published a book with the intention of helping people reach their goals, and I die a little bit on the inside. I’m a little bit embarrassed because it’s not my best work and I wish I spent more time perfecting it before publishing. It’s a classic case of being a bit premature with hitting the publish button.
The Second Edition Plan
I’m going to create a second edition and relaunch the book on the platforms it’s on. SMARTER Goal setting is currently on Amazon, Kobo, iTunes, and Google Play. I got it onto the Google Play store before they shut it down to authors. This means another round of revision, a professional edit, a new blurb, market research, and creating a marketing plan. I have a lot of work to do.
Mistakes from my Previous Launch
Where did I go wrong with the first edition? When I first launched the book I didn’t get a professional edit. As I’m revising the book, I’ve realised that all I’ll need is a line edit. This is because it’s nonfiction and the manuscript structurally sound. I need to tweak a few chapters and do a professional line edit. I let the book down with the lack of a professional edit.
On top of this, I didn’t have a proper marketing plan. I just hit publish. I didn’t tell anyone about it, which is crazy. The first thing an author needs to overcome is obscurity. By doing nothing, I’m not getting this book in front the people that need to read it. I will keep you updated with my progress on the path of relaunching this non-fiction book.
My Progress with SMARTER Goal Setting
This week I dived into this little project. I’ve designed a new cover, and I’m currently revising the manuscript. And, I’m going through the content page making sure everything is right and makes sense. I’ve looked at other books in my genre. It’s important to consider where the competition falls short. And, what readers loved. I’ve taken the tips on board. I’m going through my manuscript looking to make this a better product. The other thing I did was set a deadline. I decided I need to get this book ready for the new year. This is the time when most people will look for books on how to achieve new year’s resolutions and goal setting. I’ve also created an idea for another book, which I will launch somewhere maybe between February and March. Just like SMARTER Goal Setting, this book will be small, about the size of a novella.
Why a Small Non-Fiction Book?
Smarter Goal Setting is 26,000 words. My goal for that book was to make it short. I originally wanted only to include the content that was relevant. And leave all the bits about me and what I’ve achieved in my life because those are the things that readers skip.
The Problem with Self Help Books
Usually, when you read books in the self-help genre, a lot of the content is the author talking about themselves, and you don’t like reading that stuff. Readers just want to get to the tips and the great parts and the reason why they picked the book up in the first place. A reader didn’t pick up a memoir. They want to know how to set goals and achieve the things they want to achieve in their life and get the life they want. A Reader doesn’t want to read about how the author managed to get his dog to stop scratching the couch. All a reader wants to know is how they can apply the principles and put them into action in their life. And, that’s what my readers will get.
I hope you have a great rest of the week, and I’ll keep you updated as I go along.
Thanks for listening and happy reading, everybody!
I’m Amelia. I write Mystery Novels under the pen name A. D. Hay. And, I’m the author of Missing, the first book in the James Lalonde series. 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, Duplicity, 24 Hours, and Immunity for publication.