BTS042, Preparing a Murder Mystery Novel for Beta Readers and Juggling Multiple Manuscripts | August Author Diary Update, Part One
BTS042, Preparing a Murder Mystery Novel for Beta Readers and Juggling Multiple Manuscripts
I hope you are all well and are staying safe.
I’m trying something new. No surprise there. In this behind-the-scenes author diary update, I’m going back to sharing my self-publishing journey on a fortnightly or bi-weekly basis. To be honest, the monthly updates were starting to get quite long, thus a bi-weekly update.
During the first two weeks of August, I focused my time on preparing a murder mystery novel for beta readers, then as I waited for feedback, I focused on the second book in my other series. And, this is what juggling multiple projects at once is like. You spend much of your time jumping between projects, and it does get overwhelming at times. In light of that, I share a tip on dealing with overwhelm when jumping between manuscripts.
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 24th of August, so this show is primarily me looking back at the first two weeks in August. 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.
During the first few days in August, I started to prepare my murder mystery novella for the professional beta reader. Over three and a half hours, I added an extra forty-six words to the first draft. The words added are so low because at this stage, I was listening to my computer read back the scenes, and then I made edits based on the errors I noticed. So, it’s more of a line edit or a proofread. At this stage, I will change instances where I notice words repeated with a scene or chapter. Then, I go back and listen to the scene again before moving on to the next scene.
Listening to My Manuscript
I don’t think I mentioned this, but I use the read back feature in Scrivener*. Because I use a Mac, Scrivener used the Siri voice that I’ve selected in my computers settings. Just in case you’re interested, I chose a British male voice because it’s the opposite of my accent. Using a different voice helps because I hear the mistakes more easily than with an accent similar to my own. I honestly can’t stand the sound of my voice and the Australian female Siri voice; it doesn’t sound right. That’s Siri, not me. The hang-ups surrounding my voice are a different thing altogether.
But back to the scheduled programme.
Not All Smooth Sailing
After editing scenes twenty-three to twenty-nine, I submitted The Candidate to a beta reader on Fiverr*, but it was not my usual beta reader. And, I was a little nervous because I would have preferred the guy who read Missing and the first fifteen thousand words of Duplicity to read The Candidate. But, I needed feedback and took the plunge anyway.
Beta Reader Feedback
On the 10th of August, I received the report back, but the information wasn’t particularly helpful other than a comment about my main character’s motivation being callow. I’m not sure what I’m supposed to make of that comment because the protagonist is a journalist chasing his first story and has no personal connection to the other characters. Plus, there was a comment about the reader not knowing much about the main character when there are chapters and scenes devoted to his life. Other background information about my protagonist is sprinkled throughout the story. I did this deliberately, hoping to avoid an information dump. On top of this, it’s a novella; there isn’t a tonne of space to paint his entire back story; that’s for other books.
The same day I received this feedback, I noticed that my usual beta reader was back from holiday and had no jobs in his queue on Fiverr, so I purchased a beta reading service from him, and I’m awaiting his feedback. If there is something not quite right about my protagonist’s motivation and the general back story of the character, I know he will tell me. So far, I’ve worked with this particular beta read on two other occasions, and I’ve learned to trust his input.
How Much Did it Cost?
For those of you who are curious, here is a quick breakdown of the costs of using beta readers on Fiverr.
Cost of beta readers:
- 1st, £48 – report only
- 2nd, £30 – inline comments and a report
More Beta Reader Feedback
On Friday, the 13th of August, I’ve received feedback from my favourite beta reader. It turns out that The Candidate was his favourite book in the James Lalonde universe. And I’ve gotten the investigation, mystery, crime, and character motivations correct. But the news wasn’t all roses; I did receive some valuable, constructive feedback which I will put into action during my one-pass revision. When I received the feedback, I was on a stay-at-home vacation, so I didn’t start working on the one-pass edit straight away. Before diving into the one-pass edit, I took a short break from reading the feedback to starting my revisions.
My revision checklist for Duplicity in Evernote.
While I waited to receive feedback from my first beta reader, I decided to turn my attention to continuing my revisions with Duplicity. During the first week of August, I completed ten hours and fifteen minutes of revisions. As a part of the revisions, I added an extra 405 words to the revised draft.
Dealing with Overwhelm When Writing Multiple Books at Once
Before I dived into the revisions, I felt overwhelmed by the seemingly daunting task ahead. This feeling of overwhelm crops up every time I jump between projects. And this is how I’ve learned to manage this feeling as it arises. I have to admit, I haven’t always gotten this right, but this time, it worked. To tackle my revisions and help ease my anxieties, I created a scene list for Act IV and edited the outline. After feeling that the last act of the story had a structurally sound plot, I created a revision checklist. The checklist comprised of the issues discovered by a task I completed earlier in the revision phase, where I compiled a list of story questions with answers raised in the story.
Next, I started making minor edits to the scenes in acts I to III before rewriting the scenes in the last act.
Stay At home Vacation
In the second week of August, I didn’t make any progress on Duplicity or The Candidate because I had a stay-at-home vacation. As I alluded to earlier, I did, however, read the feedback from the beta readers as it arrived.
What can I say? I couldn’t resist.
During my stay-at-home vacation, I ended up resetting my Animal Crossing island on my Nintendo Switch Lite and fell in love with the game all over again.
My new animal crossing island. Can you guess its theme? 🤪
So, that’s all of the tasks I completed in terms of writing, book marketing, and email marketing. By the end of August, I want to finish my one-pass revision of The Candidate and be ready to submit the novella to my editor or a third beta reader; I’m still on the fence about this. 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 Lawn, and the Candidate. 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.