BTS041, A Writing Update, Fussy Librarian Book Promotion, and The Best Beta Reader Software
BTS041, A Writing Update, Fussy Librarian Book Promotions, and The Best Beta Reader Software
I hope you are all well and are staying safe.
If you listened to the previous episodes of this podcast, you’d know that I’ve been struggling to finish my next novel. By now, you’re probably wondering what drama got in the way of me achieving my writing and publishing goals. In this show, I’ll share a momentous writing update. On top of this, I discuss my fears and a surprising update on my Fussy Librarian book promotion. And, I discovered a great tool for self-published authors at a great price.
So stay tuned for all of this and much more.
About the Episode
Just to let you know, this episode was recorded on Monday the 23rd of August, so this show is primarily me looking back at July. In the same spirit as the previous episode, I’ve finally caught up on the show’s backlog. After this show, I’m back on schedule.
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.
My writing progress for July.
Honestly, I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’ve finally achieved a goal that I set for myself. At the end of the last episode, I set a goal to finish writing the first draft of The Candidate and start my one-pass revision by the end of the month. In July, I did exactly that; yes, I managed to finish the first draft of The Candidate. So, how did I achieve this? During July, I completed thirteen hours and thirty minutes of writing and added 3,364 words to the first draft.
Managing Alpha Reader Feedback
Before I finished writing the Candidate, I remembered to let my alpha reader know about the new chapters available to read in HeyBeta. And I waited for the feedback before I wrote the final four scenes. The reason behind this is, I wanted to double-check that I’ve achieved the goals I set in regards to the reader’s response to everything they’ve learned so far. I wanted to avoid writing my story in the wrong direction. Upon receiving the feedback, I went through the manuscript and made edits; these edits were line-edits.
Finishing the First Draft
Before I started to write the two climactic scenes in my novella, I had to research how certain drugs would affect the body and what doses would result in a fatal overdose. After finding these answers, I brainstormed scene blocking notes and wrote scene 025. As I went along, I performed line-edit with Grammarly before uploading the new scenes to HeyBeta. At this stage, my alpha reader was reading the scenes and chapters as they were made available. And, then I made edits as I received feedback from my alpha reader. For this story, I’ve started to collect the feedback in a spreadsheet. Each reader’s feedback is recorded in their own column next to the corresponding scene in the spreadsheet.
Between writing scene twenty-five and twenty-six, five days passed. And those five days were the second heatwave in London. Once again, I found it too difficult to concentrate, let alone write. The last three scenes of the novella were written in five hours and fifteen minutes across two days. As a result of writing these three scenes, I added 1,993 words to the first draft; this word count includes line edits made to the scenes before uploading them into HeyBeta, plus edits made based on feedback from my alpha reader. The final word count for the Candidate at the end of the first draft was 25 295 words.
So, my short story is definitely a novella.
Revision has Begun
During July, I managed to complete ten hours and fifteen minutes of revisions on the Candidate. At the end of the first draft, I felt confident that I had not overlooked any plot threads. Thus I believed that my plot was structurally sound and the character’s motivations were coherent. Instead of diving into my one-pass revision, I decided to hire a professional beta reader before starting my self-edits. Over on Fiverr, I contacted a new beta reader because the one I wanted to use is currently unavailable. While I waited for the beta Reader to get back to me, I made edits based on the feedback from my alpha reader for the last three scenes of the story.
Preparing the Manuscript for Beta Reading
Before submitting my manuscript to the beta reader, I listened to my computer read back my manuscript. Then I made edits based on the mistakes I picked up on during these readings. By the way, for each scene, I listened to the scene several times, especially after I made changes. In July, I managed to edit the scenes in Act I to III and the first two scenes in Act IV. During this time, I started to set up the Vellum file for the Candidate. I like to export my manuscript from Vellum because I can export an RTF file to convert to a PDF using MS Word. Over in Scrivener, I don’t add the subtitles, which are essentially timestamps. Instead, I add these into Vellum; this creates the ticking clock feel, which I want my beta reader to experience.
As I listened to my computer, read back the scenes, I discovered and fixed a timeline issue with my story that affected four scenes. And, I edited a scene and explained why the police chose not to arrest someone, because in the past, I’ve chosen not to do stuff like this, and readers have made comments about the police investigation, even though it’s no a police procedural and the police investigation is not the focus of the story. This decision promoted me to write a new scene, where Anwar struggled to find a French translator with the somewhat limited police resources. Naturally, I edited this scene, then listened to the computer read it back and made further edits. At this point, I felt mentally exhausted and gave myself the rest of the day off, and I chose not to work on the last Friday of the month for the same reason. I should’ve pointed out earlier that I did not give myself a break between finishing the first draft and starting my revisions; this is the reason for my mental exhaustion.
Book Cover Redesign
After making a few minor changes to the book cover of Missing, I decided to follow the changes through to the rest of the series, which meant redesigning the cover of Duplicity. For quite some time, I’ve been unhappy with the book cover of Duplicity. At the same time, I made the same changes to the Ingram Spark paperback edition for Missing. I’ve been putting this task off because I have to recreate the cover from scratch due to previous experience using the platform. While uploading the new covers, I encountered a problem using the Ingram Spark promotion code that I should have access to as part of my ALLi membership.
Let’s say that I’m a bit perplexed by my dealings with ALLi. And, I’ll leave it there.
A Fussy Librarian Book Promotion
For quite some time, I’ve been putting off doing a Fussy Librarian promotion believing they were super selective about whom they accept for promotions. Despite my 3.5-star average rating on the Amazon US store, I was accepted for a book promotion on the 19th of July by the Fussy Librarian.
Thanks to the conversion rate offered by Revolut, I ended up paying $30.50 USD for a 99cent sale promoted to the mystery and suspense lists.
I’ve had a bit of time to think since my last podcast episode, and I’ve decided to go back to sharing the downloads and sales I receive on the days I promote my books on the various retailers regardless of the terms and conditions. Honestly, it feels like I’m hiding something otherwise, and I’m not strictly sharing screenshots of my dashboards or sharing all of the sales figures and data.
On the day of the promotion, I received three sales on Amazon and three on Barnes and Nobel. That’s not a great result, to say the least. I believe this list must crave free books instead of 99 cent deals, so maybe a free book promotion might have done better with the Fussy Librarian. Or, maybe my worst fear is valid. Perhaps my 3.5-star rating is putting readers off buying.
There’s one thing I know for certain; I wish I did a bit more research into whether a 99 cent or free promotion performs better on the Fussy Librarian. After doing said research, I’ve discovered, based upon the experience of other author’s that free performs better than 99 cents. A part of me is tempted to do a free promotion with The Fussy Librarian on the same book to compare the results.
New Beta Reading Software
After feeling frustrated with the service provided by HeyBeta, I went searching for a new beta reader platform, hoping to find something that combined HeyBeta with BetaBooks. For those of you who are not aware, last month or the month before, I experienced issues with HeyBeta after discovering that I cannot move chapters around in their ‘Rising Star’ plan. The plan is $70.00 USD plus taxes. For that price, you cannot move chapters around or insert new chapters into an existing story without uploading the entire manuscript again and possibly losing the reader comments. On top of that, the reader cannot make inline comments.
So, that’s the bad news.
Now for the good news.
I’ve discovered a new beta reading software that provides you with the ability to move chapters, insert questionnaires at strategic points, and have inline comments. And, it looks great on mobile devices.
Did I mention you get these features with the free plan?
Before I go any further, the free plan only allows for one manuscript with three readers and one team member or author. If you’re a first-time author, this is good news. Unless you’re a crazy person like me and have four manuscripts on the go, you won’t need to upgrade quickly. You get time to try out the service properly before upgrading, which is great news because, as a first-time author, you’re not made of money.
So, what’s the name of this service, you ask? It’s called betaraeder.io.
Influencers in the Self-Publishing World
What bothers me about HeyBeta is that the service came recommended with a discount by a well-known podcast in the self-publishing space. Now that I’ve had this experience, it makes me wonder if self-publishing influencers are actually trying out the products they recommend. I’m growing tired of this. My feelings around practices like this drive me, to be honest about the services I try no matter how I feel, either positive or negative. It bothers me when I hear other podcasters say that they won’t share a negative review or experience because they don’t want to burn bridges. But what happened to being honest and saying this didn’t work for me for these reasons; what’s so bad about that?
In light of this, I’m going to create a comparison guide for these three beta reading software platforms after I’ve had a chance to use this new service. I’ll let you know in a future episode of the podcast when this blog post is published.
Le Villain Book Covers
In July, I hit another milestone with Le Villain Book Covers. At the start of the month, I secured another premade logo client. Someone purchased a premade logo at my new pricing structure.
And I also designed a new trio of cozy mystery premade covers and a romantic comedy book cover. Once again, I tried to set up a store on Facebook. Naturally, they’ve rejected my store for mysterious reasons and offered no explanation, even after I asked. I’m tired of playing the Facebook game. At least tell me what I’ve done wrong so I can fix it. Isn’t this how customer service is supposed to work?
But back to my Le Villain Book Covers milestone. In July, I had my first premade book cover client. Over on Facebook, in a book cover marketplace group, I sold a set of three library and cat-themed cozy mystery book covers. I’m officially a book designer and not a book cover designer dabbler.
So, that’s all of the tasks I completed in terms of writing, book marketing, and email marketing. In August, I want to finish my one-pass revision of The Candidate and be ready to submit the novella to my editor. 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.
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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.