BTS037, Write to Market, Free Book Formatting Services and Hiring an Alpha Reader on Fiverr | October Author Diary Update
BTS037, Write to Market, Free Book Formatting Services and Hiring an Alpha Reader on Fiverr | October Author Diary Update
I hope you are all well and are staying safe.
After much deliberation, I come to terms with my struggles with the notion of whether I should continue to write more books in the James Lalonde series. Which leads me to announce that I’m letting myself write another series in a different sub-genre alongside writing the James Lalonde series. I guess the short version of that is I’m writing to market.
In other news, I’ve had another ah-ha moment about my first book, and that moment has led to another change to my story. It was another one of those decisions that I’d been struggling with because I enjoyed writing the book so much. This month, I added an income stream to my author business, and I discuss the steps I took to create the service. While we’re on the topic of business-related things, I hired a great alpha reader from the most unlikely of places.
So stay tuned for all of this and much more.
About the Episode
Just to let you know, this episode was recorded on Thursday the 28th of January, so this show is primarily me looking back at October. There is a backlog with the show due to the Lockdown that we’re all facing. After a while, I’ve managed to figure out how to work from home with my husband and do most 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. I’ve had to pull the plug on the video podcast episode because I couldn’t do everything and something had to go.
I’ve Decided to Write to Market
Throughout the year for many different reasons I’ve been struggling with the notion of whether I should continue to write more books in the James Lalonde series. There’s a part of me, that doesn’t want to give up on the series because I love it and I’ve invested so much time writing books one, two, four and the prequel short story, The Lawn. To be quite frank, I’ve been beaten down a little through feedback and readers not loving the ending. I feel forced to write a happy ending, even though it’s not realistic for the story or the adventures that come next. Thus, the temptation to start something new has officially lured me in; yes, I’ve fallen prey to shiny object syndrome.
As you can guess, I’ve decided to write to market, or more specifically, write with a popular trope in mind that I love. Under a new pen name, for the sake of separating these books from my James Lalonde novels, I’m going to write a series of female amateur sleuth cozy mystery novels centred around a book club where the members read cozy mystery novels. The decision is great for two reasons, I love cozy mysteries and I love reading about female amateur sleuths as long as the story ending isn’t too cheesy and unbelievable. My thought process behind this was to write one series to market while continuing to write the James Lalonde series on the side possibly at a one book per year rate.
But, I’ll see how it goes.
Writing a Cozy Mystery Short Story
During October, I completed thirty-seven hours and forty-five minutes of writing spread across eight days. There was only one week where I did not write or plan a story. And this time was centred on outlining my cozy mystery short story. Originally, I was hoping to release the short story before Halloween but it wasn’t possible so I played down the Halloween references. I started off listening to the K-Lytics report on the Cozy Mystery genre for September 2020 which was released around this time. If I wasn’t such a cynic, I would’ve called that fate; but, I am and I realise Alex Newton releases the report every year.
Idea Generation and Covers
Because it’s fun and works for me, I turned to story cubes as inspiration for the story idea. After this, I searched for vector images to create cover art. During the story cubes portion of the idea generation process, I decided that this story would be my reader magnet or email list freebie. Before creating the cover in photoshop, I came up with a punny title for the short story. Next, I started fleshing out the characters, establish motives, suspects, and where everyone was when the murder took place.
Writing the First Draft
Overall, it took me six days or twenty-five hours and fifteen minutes to flesh out the story idea, create the characters, and outline the short story. Ironically, it turns out that I’m writing a novelette or potentially a novella instead of a short story. Honestly, in hindsight, the idea was too large for a short story. At the end of the month, I wrote, revised, and self line-edited the first 2,350 words which are chapters one and two of Entitled to Murder. On top of this, I’ve foolishly decided to publish the revised first draft of the chapters on my blog. You can see the cover and read the first two chapters of the story over on my blog or on Wattpad.
My Ah-ha Moment with Missing
Perhaps for far too long, I’ve been on the fence about making a decision about the ending of Missing. And, I’ve finally had an ah-ha moment, that made my deliberations much easier. I’ve decided to remove the epilogue from Missing. The epilogue is what most readers are not happy with or led readers to believe the majority of the characters will continue with the series when in reality only James Lalonde is in the next book and the series.
On top of this, the timeline in Missing between chapter forty-one and the epilogue is six months. So, the events in Missing happen in May, and the epilogue occurs in November of the same year. And, funnily enough, the events in Duplicity occur in August. The messy timeline with the series will cause problems for the reader, so I’ve decided to remove the epilogue and use it as the prologue for a future book where Maximilian Nicholls returns to the James Lalonde Universe. Maximilian does return and continues with the story but, just not in book two. The character does pop up in book three, but the resolution to his arc is a slow burn. And, I had this discovery just in time for an ARC newsletter swap that I’ve signed up for with Story Origin, but that won’t be taking place until November.
So, more on that later.
Fun fact, when you remove an epilogue from a paperback published on Ingram spark you need to create a new paperback cover because the cover templates you received from Ingram are bespoke. Whereas with KDP Print the cover templates are one template size for every 10 pages. Therefore if your book size changes from 260 pages to 252 pages, you don’t need to create a new cover for KDP print, but you do for Ingram spark. It was quite possibly the most frustrating discovery of the year, but that came before the news of the most recent change in Pandemic tiers in London and the cancelling of Christmas get-togethers.
Another Beta Reading Service
In October, I discovered another beta reading platform called Beta Books. And it has a mobile-friendly platform plus In-line comments from readers as well as comments under the chapter. For a fee, you can get access to a reader directory where you can politely pitch readers who may want to beta read your book, but it honestly sounds like too much work. If you’re a member of the Alliance of Independent Authors, there is a discount available which you can apply at the checkout.
Once again, I will use this platform and get back to you on what I liked and disliked. The reason why I’m doing this is I’m tired of seeing well-known bloggers in the self-publishing industry recommend products that I know they haven’t tried for themselves. Eventually, I want to create a page of recommended products that I’ve personally used and recommend.
Self Publishing and Book Marketing Tasks
On Monday the 19th of October I signed up for another free promotion on Kobo for the last week in November, but I haven’t heard back about this, yet. In order to get more reviews for Missing, I uploaded an advanced reader copy to story origin and signed up for a mystery and thriller advanced reader copy newsletter swap. Or, maybe its a read and review newsletter swap. The good news is, even though I have a tiny list, my novella, Missing, has been accepted into the swap.
But, the newsletter swap starts on November 5th, so I’ll have to keep you updated about that one. Fingers crossed it all goes well. I plan to share this swap with my newsletter and on my Facebook Pages and Twitter account.
Introducing The Formatting Wizard’s Book Formatting Services
Over the last few months, I’ve been thinking of diversifying my income in my business, so I’m not solely reliant on one stream of income. I’ve eventually realised that I could start offering book formatting services. To start, I’ll be using Vellum but will eventually branch out to bespoke book formatting with a programme like InDesign, but I want to start with something easier. I’ve used InDesign and another programme called Quark, but it’s been a few years.
During the second week in October, I brainstormed ideas for book formatting services that I could offer. As a result, I came up with three packages: ebook only, ebook and paperback, and a service that includes an ebook, paperback and large print paperback services. And, I created a flow chart on how the service would work highlighting the customer contact from first enquiry to sending the final formatted files. On top of this, I created a template page with all of Vellum’s template options and a list of extra services that customers might need.
The service is aimed at people who don’t have the time to figure out how to format book themselves or who don’t want to learn how to use the many paid or free formatting options available. At the moment, I have Introductory rates, but I’m looking for five authors to beta the services for free in exchange for an honest review. If you’re looking for book formatting services and you’re interested in trying the formatting wizard out for free and providing me with feedback or a review, then fill out the work order form or contact me using my contact page.
Hiring an Alpha Reader on Fiverr
In October, I decided to purchase a partial read of Duplicity’s first 12,000 words because I was worried that the book was terrible, and I wanted to see a reader’s first impressions of the story. The entire process, including hiring and receiving the feedback took two days, and it cost less than ten pounds. To be honest, I think I got lucky with this service, the feedback I received was great, and the reader pointed out a few issues related to the use of guns that I would have never figured out for myself.
So, it was money worth spending.
I found the reader was quite witty and left comments on the text and provided me with a comprehensive report. And, I’m considering hiring this alpha reader to read the rest of the manuscript.
So, that’s all of the tasks I completed in terms of writing, book marketing, and email marketing. During the next month, I want to start using beta readers and hopefully finish the revised draft of Duplicity which is book two in the James Lalonde series, and continuing to write my cozy mystery short story. The next episode of this podcast will be another diary episode, where I will continue to 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.
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 and PayPal you can!
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.