BTS031, Rewrite a Self-Published Novel, Using a Paid Beta Reader, Book Blogging Tours, and My Second Bargain Booksy Promo | April Author Diary Update
BTS031, Rewrite a Self-Published Novel, Using a Paid Beta Reader, Book Blogging Tours, and My Second Bargain Booksy Promo
I hope you are all well and are staying safe.
It’s official, I’m rewriting a self-publish novel, only a few months after it’s initial release. And, that book is Missing. In this episode I’m going to share the steps I took to rewrite the novella, and what I plan to do next. While we’re on this topic I also share my experience using a paid beta reader, and how this entire experience has changed my writing and self-publishing process. To be honest, this is something I wished I did before I pressed publish. The book blogging tour for Missing started on Tuesday the 28th of April and the results I’ve received so far. In terms of book marketing, I hired beta readers through AuthorsXP and I’ve applied for a second bargain booksy promotion.
So, stay tuned for all of this and much more.
About the Episode
Just to let you know, this episode was recorded on Tuesday the 20th of October, so this show is primarily me looking back in April. In the same spirit as the previous episode, there is a backlog with the show due to the Lockdown that we’re all facing. After a few weeks, I’ve managed to figure out how to work from home with my husband and do all of the things I would typically achieve. If you’re on YouTube, you’ll notice that I’ve gone back to an audio-only version of the podcast, that’s because of my hair situation. I know this is a vanity thing, but my hair has become too long and unmanageable, and I can’t just wear a cap.
So, I’m sorry for the lack of video this week.
Behind in My Podcasting Schedule
At present, I’m trying to catch up on the backlog of podcast episodes for both Thriller Novel Nerd and the Authorpreneur Podcast. On top of this, I’ve figured out how to film videos and record the audio for the podcast episodes while my husband works from home. My new method also means I will not have to edit the video and audio separately. I’ve realised that I should film over the weekend. But while I catch up, I’ve devoted an entire weekday to recording the audio-only version of the podcast. Once I catch up, the balance between writing and podcasting will be easier to manage. As you can tell, if you’re a regular listener, I’ve changed the way I record the podcasts. I’m no longer using a script, just bullet points. I’m attempting not to be so reliant on scripting these episodes. It’s getting to the point where I can’t function without a script, and that’s not great.
Ideas for the Thriller Novel Nerd Podcast
To help foster a community around the Thriller Novel Nerd Podcast, I’ve decided to create a Facebook group for the listeners and readers who want to love crime mystery and thriller novels. Eventually, I want to start a Facebook group for The Authorpreneur Podcast, but I want to start small and build-up to this. While I’m on the topic of my podcasting schedule, I’m getting ready to accept guests on the Thriller Novel Nerd podcast. Over on my author website, I’ve created an online form where authors in the crime, mystery and thriller genres can request to be interviewed by me. At the moment, I’m getting requests, but the authors aren’t well suited to the podcast, so I need to rethink this strategy.
To interview these authors, I’m using a product called Ecamm Live. The programme can link with Skype so that I can film interviews for the Thriller Novel Nerd Podcast, and record the video and audio for the Authorpreneur Podcast. Before I started interviewing authors and filming the video podcasts, I will need to either buy a better camera or figure out how to use my mirrorless DSLR as the Camera.
Using a Paid Beta Reading Service
After my experience with Reedsy Discovery, I decided to use a professional Beta Reader, to get feedback on my mystery novella, Missing. I ended up using a paid beta reading service provided by Frostbite Publishing. Due to the word count of my novella, the service was priced at $36.00 or £31.00 for a book under 40,000 words. Interestingly, the beta reader feedback revealed plot holes that were not picked up with the Reedsy Discovery service or my editors. In defence of my editors, I did purchase a deluxe line-edit and proofread.
A few weeks after payment, which was earlier than I was originally quoted, I received a reader survey with answers as well as a Word document with tracked changes. I chose to ignore all comments related to word usage and paid attention to plot issues because that’s what prompted me to use the service. The beta readers feedback was balanced; the reader pointed out the parts of the story they enjoyed and the plot holes that needed to be resolved. Upon reading the feedback, I started to feel nervous because I have a book blogging tour coming up. I could not make the changes in time for the tour to start.
Overall, I’m happy with my experience with Frostbite Publishing. I plan on using the beta reading service again.
Sourcing My Own Beta Readers for Missing
While I waited for the feedback from the paid beta reader from Frostbite Publishing, I used a paid service provided by AuthorsXP to find beta readers for Missing. To help get the most out of my beta reading experience, I created a questionnaire for the readers. After that, I crafted an email and sent it off and waiting for feedback. In the meantime, I scheduled a follow-up email to send it to my readers. However, I am yet to receive feedback from these readers, which is a bit disappointing.
Since then, I’ve cancelled the BookFunnel download link because I feel like I gave away copies of my books for free. And, that’s the pitfall with these services, they attract freebie seekers. You may need to use a few different services to get the feedback you need. Now that I’ve shared this, I would like to point out that the person who runs AuthorsXP is a pleasure to work with, but she cannot make people read your books.
Towards the end of the month, I decided to move forward and work with the feedback I received from the paid beta reader onboard.
My Second Bargain Booksy
Before my experiences over the last thirty days, I scheduled my second Bargain Booksy Promo for Monday, the 20th of April. The sales I’ve received are not spectacular, so I won’t share them here. Looking back, I realise there were a few things that contributed to the low sales. I only had one book with no backlist that had no reviews on Amazon. On top of that, I placed my novella in the Thriller category, but the story is more of a whodunnit or mystery. However, I did start to get my first ever page reads, which is exciting. Now that I’ve had this experience, I can definitely see how being enrolled in Kindle Unlimited, or KDP Select will help with promotions like Bargain Booksy.
Why I Chose to Rewrite a Second Edition of Missing
In light of the feedback from the beta reader from Frostbite Publishing, I decided to create a second edition of Missing. The second edition did not involve a complete rewrite. Instead, I made minor rewrites to a few scenes and chapters. During this time, I considered renaming Missing and doing a complete relaunch. To be honest, I may still rename and relaunch depending upon the reviews I get between now and when I publish book two. I realise that by creating a second edition, I’m pouring more money into creating book one. And that’s okay because I’ve accepted that book one of the James Lalonde series will be a loss-leader. And, I mean that it will be a loss-leader when exclusively taking into account book one sale and not read through. It’s in the read-through where you make money in a series. Eventually, I plan on permanently discounting the first book in the series once other books have been published.
But, back to Missing.
Because Missing is the first book in the series, I think it’s important to get this book right. If a reader is not happy with the first book, they may not want to read book two and the rest of the series.
Steps to Rewrite a Self-Published Novel
Over five days in April, I rewrote the second edition of Missing. On Wednesday the 8th of April, I added an extra 601 words to the second edition draft. These additional words have been highlighted in red and green. The words in red were new words added to the draft. And the words in green were minor changes due to things I was not happy within the edited first draft. A week later, on Wednesday the 15th of April, I created a plan to tackle the rewrite of the second edition. After that, I made minor edits to the draft which resulted in an additional five words added to the draft.
I added 494 words to the second edition draft of Missing through minor rewrites on Friday the 24th of April. The last thing I needed to tackle in the rewrites was a brand new scene at the start of the second act. But in order to write the beats and block the scene, I needed to research the new location. Perhaps due to laziness, I ended up searching for a real-life studio flat on Zoopla in Northampton, that I felt the character would rent. At the end of Saturday the 25th of April, my new scene was blocked, and the beats were rewritten. No new words were contributed to the draft on Saturday. On day five, Monday the 27th of April, I write the new scene and performed line edits with Grammarly and Pro Writing Aid, and added an extra 590 words to the draft.
Finding an Editor
Upon finishing the second edition draft of Missing, I contacted two editors for quotes. The two editors I contacted were from Red Adept Editing who edited my first edition and Dj Hendrickson Editing, an editor I found on Kboards. I decided to go with a Dj Hendrickson for the second edition. After careful consideration, I decided that having a different set of eyes on the story would be more beneficial. Also, Dj Hendrickson tailoring editing the experience for my book because it was a partial rewrite, where I highlighted the changes I made to the novella. In order to receive the quote, I submitted a sample for a line-edit. The sample I chose was of the new scene added to the novella. After working with Dj Hendrickson, I’m considering using this new editor for future projects.
Recommended Tools and Blog Posts
Here are a few blog posts and discussion threads that helped me decide on whether I should create a second edition of Missing, and posts that helped me with the rewrites.
- A Kboards discussion thread on rewriting a published novel.
- Check out this helpful blog post by Writers Write on 106 ways to describe sounds.
- Also by Writers Write is this blog post listing 75 words that describe smells.
- AutoCrit: An Online Manuscript Editing Tool. *
My New Writing Process
Now that I’ve had this experience with using a professional beta reader and creating a second edition, I’ve made a few changes to my writing, revision, and publishing process. My new writing process will look something like this:
- Develop the story idea
- Create and edit the story outline
- Write the first draft.
- Revise and rewrite the story
- Hire a professional beta reader
- Submit the story to a line editor
- Hire a proofreader
Further rewrites or drafts will be performed between the professional beta reading and line-editing. These rewrites will be labelled as the third and fourth drafts.
Planning the First Book in a Cozy Mystery Series
During April, I started working on an idea for the first novel in a cozy mystery series to give myself a break from the James Lalonde series. I first started working on this idea back in October 2018, but I ended up shelving the idea in favour of finishing Missing. So I started fleshing out the story idea into the essential story structure scenes. After this, I started researching how to write a cozy mystery and the tropes of the genre because I want to write to market.
Next, I figured out how the crime occurred, character motivations, and starting to build a loose timeline of the events that unfolded in the story. At the moment I have a two-body murder mystery. One body is found at the inciting incident, which is at the ten to fifteen percent mark of the story, and the second is at the midpoint. Because I’m writing a cozy mystery, the story and series will have even less gore than the fade to black gore that’s in my James Lalonde mysteries.
Fleshing Out the Characters
In the process of fleshing out the story idea, I created two timelines—one for the amateur sleuth and the other for the villain. The next step I took was to flesh out character profiles, including the motivations for each suspect. To add a level of realism to the story, I researched why people commit murder and the top reasons suggested by psychologists. With clarity on character motivation, I fleshed out the events leading up to the crime.
Book Two Update
Due to my experiences with publishing and launching Missing, I slowly worked on book two. As of the beginning of April, act one was revised and was read by my alpha reader. However, I wanted to go back and add a new scene at the beginning of the story. The scene was to show the cast of characters interacting with the victim before the murder takes place.
On Tuesday, the 28th of April, I researched the optic nerve and the parts of the eye, including how to remove an eyeball. For the sake of clarity, the optic nerve connects from the back of the eye to the brain and is only a few centimetres in length. After making its realisation, I made minor adjustments to a scene to correct the anatomical description. The research also led me to believe the procedure would take longer than expected. As a result, I adjusted the timeline for book two. All of this research was for a two-line description in the scene, but I felt that it was important to get it right.
A Book Blogging Tour
The book blogging tour started just in time and temporarily restored my faith in my writing and the James Lalonde series. When I hired the service from Sarah Hardy at Book on the Bright Side, I chose the 7-day blogging blitz. So far, I’ve received mostly positive. However, I know of at least two negative ones that are coming my way. One blogger has added a two-star review on Amazon then cross-posted it to GoodReads, and a second gave my book a two-star rating on GoodReads with very little feedback. I’ve discovered that a two-star rating on Goodreads means the book was “okay.” As the reviews came in, I saved screenshots of the positive reviews in a folder on my desktop.
Coincidentally, I don’t turn to the folder when I’m struggling with writers insecurity. I need to stop reading my book reviews because I focus on the twenty-five percent that are bad. For some reason, it’s easier for me to focus on a more pessimistic way of thinking instead of being positive about my writing ability. I think it’s because somewhere deep down inside of me I believe that I’m a bad writer. That was hard to admit by the way. Over on Twitter, I replied to the bloggers, thanking them for writing the review and sharing it with their followers. Reply to reviewers isn’t a practice I would recommend but its appropriate in this circumstance. And, I’ve mentally prepared for any negative reviews and how I will respond. These negative reviews are much easier to handle because I’ve had time to process the comments.
So, that’s all of the tasks I completed in terms of writing, book marketing, and email marketing during April. During the next month, I want to direct my focus back to rewriting book two, announcing its new title to my email list and on social media, and relaunching the second edition of Missing. The next episode will be another author diary update, where I will discuss my writing and book marketing endeavours.
If you have any questions or have tips on book marketing that you would love to share with me, please share your thoughts in the comments section below.
Thank you for listening, and happy reading and writing, everybody.
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