BTS016, Writer’s Insecurity, Revising a Thriller Novel, Editing a Nonfiction Book, and Starting a New Series
BTS016, Writer's Insecurity, Revising a Thriller Novel, Editing a Nonfiction Book, and Starting a New Series
I started filming weekly writing Vlogs on my Youtube Channel after remembering, this had helped me with productivity and making time for revisions. But, classic me, I came to the realisations that I come to me when I attempt to dip my toes into YouTube. It’s like I’m a super slow learner. Video editing is, and it’s like pulling teeth which is why I decided to turn this BTS diary into a chatty weekly update. Let’s face it, if I can do it on video, I can do it on a podcast. This means I’ll be sharing what’s going on behind the scenes as I publish my three thriller novels and beyond. The idea behind this change is it will be a chat over a cup of tea between friends. So, you’re going to get an honest inside scoop.
My Current Favourite Flavour of Tea
As I record this update, I’m drinking a cup of fleur d’oranger Tea from Ladurée. It tastes as beautiful as it sounds. But, tragically you can only get it from this tiny shop near the Louvre in Paris. So, now you know why I take so many trips to Paris. Don’t panic, you’re not going to hear me slurping away at my tea, and I promise to hit the mute button. The reason I’m sharing that is I’ve heard people do that on podcasts, videos and webinars. In all of these instances, as a presenter or host, you have the option of hitting the mute button.
Enough of my ranting, let’s get on with the show.
The Other Name for my Podcast
Here’s a fun fact: I was initially going to call the Behind the Scenes Podcast Diary another name. And, that name was “Caffeine, Read, Write, Repeat.” I didn’t choose the name because it wasn’t SEO friendly. As you can tell by the title, it was going to be a chat about what I’m reading and the behind-the-scenes of my author journey over a cup of tea. Now that I’ve talked about what tea I’m drinking I feel tempted to bring this full circle and talk about what I’m currently reading. If you love this new chatty style podcast episode and think I should turn this Behind the Scenes Diary into a “Caffeine, Read, Write, Repeat” Show then let me know in the comments section below.
What I’m Reading
As a writer, I don’t read in one particular genre, I will read anything. How bad am I? If the pages turn, I will give it a go. So, I’m not very selective. Well, that’s not entirely true, I like good books. When people talk about good books, the term “good” is relative, it’s open to interpretation.
This week I’m reading The Visitor by Lee Child. I have a love-hate relationship with the character Jack Reacher and don’t always appreciate him. And, I saw the cover on this book and was intrigued because it’s set in New York. At the moment, I’m reading a lot of fiction set in New York or featuring journalists because of my Thriller Immunity and the James Lalonde series. The cover sucked me into pressing the buy button on Amazon. So, I downloaded it, started reading it, and I’m loving it.
My New-found Love for Jack Reacher
It’s written in a third person point of view. I was so excited about this book that I shared it on my Thriller Novel Nerd Instagram account, and the only response was by another writer who said “I preferred the killing floor,” which I hated. Maybe, “hate” is too strong a word. The Killing Floor was by no means my favourite, maybe because it was written in First Person and the book was too long. It really is a modern western.
As a seven-year-old, my Grandfather, bless his soul, tortured me with John Wayne movies. He had a John Wayne obsession. So, I grew up having a strong dislike for western movies. Fast-forward to my reading experience of the Killing floor, I remember finishing it and thinking “I don’t like that, but I don’t know why.” Since, that day, I watched an interview with Lee Child where he said that his Jack Reacher series is like a modern day western. And, this interview was what made me understand my dislike for Jack Reacher. My grandfather would love the Jack Reacher series.
But, I love the Visitor by Lee Child. And in the book, you do see Jack struggle with his need to be free and roam from town to town and the concept of staying in one place. In the book, he has a house and girlfriend who practices law in Manhattan. He’s struggling, and I’m getting the feeling that his relationship is going to end well because it doesn’t serve the overall story and the premise of the series. So, I won’t like every book, and that’s okay.
Missing Revision Update
I’m super excited to be sharing this news with you because I’ve been procrastinating and working on this for so long. On Wednesday, I finished with the plot related revisions of Missing. And, I’m letting the book sit for a few days before moving on to the next phase of revisions. The plot-related revisions are the biggest round of revisions, where I read through the story and focus on the major story moments. At the same time, I was focusing on character thought and setting because I was noticing these things. Part of the reason I wanted to change the character thought was I changed how it was written halfway through the first draft. The new way flowed with the story effortlessly.
After discovering that the end of my story needed to change, I ended up adding three new scenes which resulted in an extra 1,822 words. This addition to the word count brought the total up to 38,337 words. So, Missing is now a long novella. In the next round of revisions, I will focus on Character arcs and motivations.
This week I’ve been experimenting with changing the time I write because I’m writing a blog post about the best time of day to write a novel, or in my case revise. And, it’s going well. By the way, this is not the post I intended on writing. I was planning on writing a post that was about you can write any time as long as it’s the best time for you. As I was researching the content for the post, I came across a study and thought “is this true for me;” hence the experiment. Now, that I’ve mentioned this, I’ll record the blog post as a bonus episode for the podcast and release it in April. So, I’ll keep you posted.
Hiring an Editor
While we’re on the topic of decision making, I’ve made a decision on developmental editing. There’s no nice way of dressing this up for you, so I’m just going to be blunt. Developmental editing is expensive and the more costs you add to a product before you hit publish the harder it will be to break even, then make a product. So, in light of this, I’m going to forgo developmental editing and pay for a beta-reader instead. I’m also going to get a line edit, and a proofread. This decision led me to contact a copy editor and proofreader.
And funnily enough, I’m starting to feel insecure about my writing now that she has responded. The editor said that she has time and wants to see my while manuscript which makes sense. So, I spiralled into insecurity, there a part of me that’s worried that my manuscript is a pile of crap. Since I received the email, I’ve sent messages to my husband over the last few days looking for reassurance. He’s probably the worst person to ask because he has an investment in my success and naturally he’s going to encourage me. My insecurity transitioned from liking my story not thinking I was Pulitzer Prize-winning in any way to feeling like I’m the worst writer ever to walk the earth. Now, I have many layers of insecurity about my writing.
Over the last few weeks, I decided to rapid release Missing, Silence, and Immunity with four weeks between releases. Before I contacted an editor I did have insecurities about my novels, one of those insecurities was surrounding the level of realism in my fiction. The insecurities around my writing could have resulted in my obsession over the revising Missing and the overcomplicated staged revision process and checklist.
Not too many people have gone into extreme detail about their process as I have in this podcast. Now that I’ve listening to what other writers do with revisions and it’s different to my process, and I’m getting the impression that other authors do a single pass plus a line edit then send the story to an editor. As a result, I’m now wondering whether I should stop obsessing, put on my “big girl” pants and be an adult and submit my story to an editor.
Moving on from Insecurity
My revision checklist is ever growing. There always seems to be something to add. So in light of this, I’ve set a deadline for 20 April, and I’ve told the copyeditor. In response to my email, the editor replied back, so I now need to format what I’ve written. What did I say in my original email? I told the editor that this is the third book I’ve written but the first in the series, I’m unpublished, the word count, and where I’m at with my revisions.
It’s about expectations, I wanted to be transparent and let the editor know what to expect from my manuscript. The copyeditor got back to me and asked for the whole manuscript. And that’s fine by me A few chapters aren’t going to be enough for an editor to give you a quote, they need to see the whole thing. I have a deadline that I need to honour and as a consequence some motivation. But, my next step is to format my current revised draft and send it off to the editor for a quote.
Smarter Goal Setting Second Edition Update
In terms of my second editions revisions, I’ve reached the end of part three of a five-part book. The final two parts are much smaller than part three. So, I don’t have that much left to revise. I broke the book up into parts because I wanted to simplify the smarter formula in five big steps. And, the chapters within those parts are the smaller steps you need to take to achieve the end result promised by the book.
I want to create something that will be of benefit to the reader and help them achieve the result promised by the book if they take the actionable steps. In light of this, I’m considering adding an actionable steps section at the end of each chapter after the recommended resources and worksheets section, just like Chris Fox does in his books on writing. This feature is super helpful, you don’t have to go through the book again and figure out the steps you need to take. If you have the audiobook, this feature will work even better because you don’t have to take notes.
Finding an Editor for My Nonfiction Book
So, I’ve found an editor for the second edition, but I’m a little nervous about using them because it’s a different editor to the fiction editor. The fiction editor came as a recommendation from a podcast that I listen to on a regular basis. And, I trust the host’s judgement because they strike me as a no-nonsense type of person. I’m not saying that this second editor is bad or unqualified. But, I was on the website for the second editor, and I was unsure if they edited nonfiction because there was no frequently asked questions page.
I emailed them and mentioned not being able to find the FAQ page and that I wanted a basic line edit and a proofread for nonfiction. When I got the reply, I had to read the email a couple of times to be sure I interpreted the response correctly. Let’s just say the response was a little confusing. Again this could be a writer’s insecurity thing, and not about the email response.
Insecurities Around My Nonfiction
I’m really going through an insecure phase at the moment. So far, I’ve written four books, and this insecurity thing has not gotten better. It’s gotten worse over time. Maybe not worse but my insecurity has changed over time. At one stage I was in my own bubble and though my stories where good.
After I finished writing Immunity, I started to worry that no-one else would like to tread my thriller novel. When I wrote Silence, I started to question my ability to write excellent prose, even though I loved writing the novel. As I wrote Missing, I became hung up on realism in the story. And that’s a bit mental because it is fiction and implies a deviation from reality because it’s not sitting on the nonfiction shelves. When I first wrote and published Smarter Goal Setting, I was a bit naive and thought it was great. But, now as I look back at that book after writing my fourth book, I can see the flaws.
If you’re writing your first book and you’re worried that no-one else will like your work know that this is normal. But also know that your insecurities will change over time, and you’re not going to wake up one day with no insecurities. That doesn’t happen. Well, at least not for me.
It’s worth pointing out that I’m looking back at my first book through the eyes of a writer who has written their fourth book. So, in a way, I’m not being fair on myself. If a coaching client came to me with their first book, I would never be this critical because it’s their first book. Making mistakes is how you learn and grow as a writer. As a writer, you’re a little unfair and perhaps too self-critical, sometimes but not all the time.
A New Series
So, I’m writing a new series. I know that sounds crazy but hear me out. This new series features the supporting cast from Missing. Not all of the supporting cast but only three or four people. Events in book one of the new series happen before Missing, so I now have a few restrictions as I write. Restrictions aren’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s helping me to be more creative. The new series is in the Archaeological Thriller or Action-Adventure Thriller genres. At the moment, I’m not sure how I’m going to pitch the series to readers.
A Change in Main Character
The archaeological thrillers will feature a male protagonist instead of the female I had initially imagined. As I wrote Missing, I got to know this character a little better, and I’ve lost interest in writing from her point of view. But, I love writing from the male characters point of view. He’s more of an anti-hero and blurs the line between what’s right and what’s wrong. So, he’s a bit complicated so made this is the appeal. I’ve also figured out who the bad guy is in the series. There was really only one option, and I’ve been avoiding it, but I’ve decided to roll with this decision. I know I’m being super vague about this, but if I say too much about book one, I’ll ruin Missing for those people who want to read the book.
I plan to write one James Lalonde Thriller than an archaeological thriller and rotate the releases. Obviously, this plan will take effect after the release of Missing, Silence, and Immunity. As I’m writing this, I’ve realised that I may need to release Missing and Book One around the same time. I’m hoping this dual series will prevent any boredom I may get from sticking to the same series. There’s a part of me that can’t do a Lee Child and just write in the same series for years. Just for the sake of clarity, I don’t think I’m Lee Child in any way, shape, or form.
So, What Do I Need to Get Done Next Week?
For the sake of accountability here is a short list of the major tasks I need to complete next week.
- Read-through Missing, take notes on character arcs and motives and make any revisions
- Revise the next three chapters of Smarter Goal Setting
- Write and edit the script for episode TAP027.
- Record, edit, and schedule podcast episode TAP027 in Blubrry.
- Outline the script for episode BTS017.
- Record, edit, and schedule podcast episode BTS017 in Blubrry.
Did you like this week’s chatty behind the scene podcast diary episode? Or, do you prefer the diary to be more focused around a single topic with actionable steps? I want to hear from you. Let me know by sharing your thoughts in the comments section below.
Thanks for listening and happy reading and writing, 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.