Tag Archives: beta readers

NaNoWriMo Is Over, Now What?

NaNoWriMo Is Over, Now What?

So NaNoWriMo has come to a close. You did it! You bested the holiday and fought through the distractions and emerged victorious! You probably learned a lot in the process: how you work, what time is best for you to write, and what it takes for you to power through a challenge like NaNo. It’s a good exercise. Now you have 40k words sitting there, and it’s time to do something… but what exactly? Here’re six tips for moving forward:

1. Set Your Manuscript Aside

You just spent a solid month with your book. That’s a lot of time and often it’s difficult to pull away and see the whole picture. If you’re anything like me, odds are there’s a lot of work to go before your manuscript is ready to shop. Giving yourself time away from the manuscript will allow you to return with fresh eyes and a clear head. So what do you do in the interim? Start your next project (see point six), relax a bit, read someone you find inspiring: just get your mind off that manuscript so later you can give it a solid and honest revision.

2. Think About How You’re Going To Expand

Unless you’re writing middle-grade most publishers won’t want a 40k word novel. Even YA tends to be around 50-60k minimum. Adult novels range from 80k-90k words, and sci-fi and fantasy can get into the 100-110k word range. (Check out Chuck Sambuchino’s great post on word count here.) None of these are hard and fast rules, but it’s always good to shoot for the average range within the genre you’re targeting. You’ll be surprised how easy it is to expand, and I’ll cover some of that in point three. If you’re going to publish independently, you can ignore this completely. There are no set rules for independent publishing. Just make sure you’re telling the best damn story possible.

3. Revise, Revise, Revise

Stage one is done, you’ve let the manuscript rest for a time, and now you’re ready for revisions. It’s time to go through your manuscript and tackle all those things you ignored to hit that word count by the target date. Trust me, they’ll be there. I tend to find that as I revise, my book grows and shrinks. As I mentioned in point two, odds are you’re going to need to expand. So, if you’re worried about your overall length don’t worry. As Tolkien said, “this tale grew in the telling.” He’s not wrong. I find that there’s usually a lot I left out in that first draft, and I find it’s not difficult to find myself adding significant portions to a story. When you’re finished with your first revision, go through it again! There’s no set number of revisions, just make sure you get the book to a point where you’re comfortable sharing it with alpha/beta readers and eventually editors.

4. Get Some Eyes On That Thing!

Ask some friends who are willing to overlook your typos and grammatical errors to read your manuscript. This isn’t an edit pass. You want folks who can look past errors and focus on character development, plot, pacing, and world building. Listen to their feedback and incorporate or ignore it as you see fit. It’s good to gauge what works and what doesn’t. There’s a lot of good advice on finding and working with alpha/beta readers, three great posts I’d recommend:

and specifically for readers:

5. Think About Your Go-To-Market Strategy

The manuscript is finished; it’s time to consider your choices. You can shop the manuscript to publishers or take the self-publishing road. Neither are bad decisions, but you need to find what works for you.

  • Traditional Publishing

    You’ll need to find an agent, which means synopsis and query letters and rejections. Once that’s done the agent will need to find an editor which means more rejections until you find one. However, once you find a publisher willing to take you on they’ll do a lot of the heavy lifting. They’ll handle promotion and cover design and provide you with an editor. They’ll also throw an advance your way as well.

  • Independent Publishing

    To me, this is a lot more than just throwing your manuscript online and letting it go. I think doing independent publishing properly requires a small business mindset. You need to start thinking like a publisher. You need to be honest with yourself about your skillset. Most folks will need to hire an editor. You’ll also probably want to hire a designer for the cover and perhaps figure out how to do the layout for your printed publication. There’re some services to help you: Amazon’s CreateSpace has layout and cover design packages and recently Nook has launched their own line. It’ll require some initial investment, but your readers will appreciate the attention to detail. Once that’s decided you’ll need to consider marketing. With independent publishing, you’re essentially deciding to become a small business and that is daunting to some people. There’s a lot to that, but I think it’s best saved for a future blog post.

6. Start Your Next Project

If you want to be a writer you have to keep writing. So start your next story! Maybe it’s a sequel, perhaps it’s something completely different, maybe something you left out or something you didn’t have the ability to explore might work better as its own stand alone book. It’s important to keep working and honing those skills. Live every month like it’s National Novel Writing Month.

Finally, and most important, congrats on finishing. Forty-thousand words is an immense accomplishment, and you should be proud! You have done what a lot of people only dream of doing. You’re a writer! Now get out there and share your work with the world.

What advice would you give your fellow NaNoWriMo participants? Has anyone ever shared some advice that has stuck with you? Leave a comment and let us know!

Old Broken Road

Friday Link Pack 10/17/2014

Old Broken Road launch week draws to a close. That means it’s time to share a few interesting links I’ve found over the last few days. Some of these I mention on Twitter, if you’re not already following me there, please do! Have a link I should feature in the upcoming link pack? Let me know! All right, let’s get to it.

Old Broken Road:

Old Broken Road is out now!
Both eBook and trade paperbacks are available now! You should go buy it. :D

Traveling The Broken Road: An Author Interview With K. M. Alexander
Thomas Fowler and I discuss Old Broken Road, advertising, design, book marketing, indie publishing, and more.

Listen to my Dungeon Crawler Radio Interview
Last night I was interviewed by the guys over at Dungeon Crawlers Radio. I had a lot of fun and recommend giving it a listen.

Writing:

Here’s Why H.P. Lovecraft Matters More Than Ever
The Wall Street Journal talks Lovecraft, his racism, his views on science, and his resonating effect on popular culture.

Study Reveals: A Trip To The Library Feels The Same As A $2,282 Pay Raise
Well, there you go. Clearly we all need to go to the library more.

5 Things Beta Readers Should Know Before They Agree To The Task
Great post by Lauren Sapala on beta reading, what it takes, and how we as readers can maximize the help we provide. (This would be a good one to send to any new beta readers you are working with. hint. hint.)

Got Workflow? Step by Step To Better Books
J. W. Manus gives some practical advice for laying out and formatting your manuscript for publication. I see a lot of new writers completely ignore layout and it’s incredibly important.

Thing You Should Know When Writing About Guns
Good advice from Wendig about how guns work, what parts of guns are called, and how to use them effectively and realistically in your own work. (This isn’t a post about legality, it’s about using weapons in fiction.)

Art:

Nine Eyes
Strange and often surreal images found on Google street view. You can see a lot more at 9-eyes.com. (Thanks to Sky for this submission.)

Gloam
An amazing short film. Wandering a dark forest, a solitary creature encounters something unknown with only curiosity to lead the way.

Random:

The Crazy Bi-Level Buses Of The North Coast Lines
A photo essay on a very particular kind of bi-level bus that was produced in the Pacific Northwest during the 1920s. Some awesome stuff. It was strangely inspiring for me.

The World’s Biggest Submarine
A photo essay of the Typhoon/Shark class of Russian subs. I knew these things were big, but I didn’t realize they were this big. Makes me want to go watch The Hunt for Red October. “One ping only.”

Film Psychology: The Shining, Spatial Awareness & Set Design
Nice little doco on how Stanley Kubrick used spatial awareness on the set of the Shining. Make sure to watch Part 2 as well.

Equal Population Mapper
How many counties of the midwest does it take to equal the population squeezed into New York? LA? The coasts? This fascinating interactive map allows you to compare density across the US.

Lovecraft Story of the Week:

The Lurking Fear
Strange things are afoot in the Catskill mountains.

Gif of the Week:

You're going to like the way you look.

H. P. Lovecraft

Friday Link Pack 09/19/2014

Friday has arrived! That means it’s time to share a few interesting links I’ve found throughout the week. Some of these I mention on Twitter, if you’re not already following me there, please do! Have a link I should feature in the upcoming link pack? Let me know!

Writing:

It’s OK To Admit That H.P. Lovecraft Was Racist
Can we appreciate a writer’s work while disdaining their offensive beliefs?  Laura Miller examines. (Thanks to Josh for this one.)

5 Things You Should Know About Working With Beta Readers
It’s always good to get insight as you work on your manuscript. Corina Koch MacLeod and Carla Douglas offer some simple advice on working with beta readers.

The New Kindle Voyage e-Reader Is Shockingly Good
I love my Kindle. Love. It. It’s revolutionized the way I read. However, after reading this review on the latest offering from Amazon… it might be time for an upgrade.

Your Paper Brain And Your Kindle Brain Aren’t The Same Thing
Study’s show our brains approach reading on digital devices differently from reading physical books. Are we losing something because of our bi-literate brains?

Writer’s Toolkit: Old Maps Online
My post from Wednesday highlights a handy resource for your research.

Art:

Sergey Kolesov
Digging this work. Amazing colors, incredible lights, and a loose fresh style. (Thanks to Bryan for sharing it with me.)

Byronic Series By Boris Pelcer
I am a sucker for limited palettes, so when I saw this work by Boris Pelcer it wasn’t hard for me to fall in love.

Random:

Amazing Map Shows Every Tree In The United States
This tree density map shows the location of forests throughout America. See the larger version here.

Famous Paintings Of Jacob Wrestling With The Angel, Ranked By How Much Their Actions Resemble Slow-Dancing
I love the internet. (Thanks to Gus for sharing this.)

5 Little-Known Pirate Stories
It’s International Talk Like A Pirate Day today. In celebration Neatorama has compiled a list of interesting and a bit strange pirate facts.

Lovecraft Story of the Week:

The Mound
A strange mound in Oklahoma hides a gateway to a subterranean civilization. Fun fact: this is the story from which the title Red Litten World was taken.

Gif of the Week:

Screamin'

My Beta Readers’ Comments on “The Stars Were Right”

I wanted to share some comments I have received from my beta readers roaders regarding my upcoming novel “The Stars Were Right.” Some of this is NSFW so consider yourself warned. Want to read a bit yourself? Check out the free excerpt! Anyway… to the comments:

Totally blown away.

I didn’t put that sucker down for 6 hours.

finished! i really enjoyed it!

Sadly, I can’t literally visit the world you’ve created, but reading about it is the next best thing.

this is like a real book.

i must of liked it more than I realized because I want to read more.

AAA+++. Would stay up all night reading it again. And again.

I love it! There’s some really fucking awesome concepts here, KMA.

THIS IS YOUR FUCKING JAM RIGHT HERE.

This was a fantastic read. I thoroughly enjoyed myself from beginning to end.

Now am on pins and needles awaiting Old Broken Road! No pressure though ;)

The reaction from my readers to Stars has been far and away the best I have received from my beta readers. I can’t wait until release and it’s available for everyone!

Beta Readers

Handed partials of my latest manuscript (The Stars Were Right) to a few readers over the long weekend, and got some very excited feedback. I was told that there was apparent improvement in my writing something I have been seeing but it’s nice to have it validated. Most people took to my main character which is good, since it’s told a first person perspective. There was some dissatisfaction that came from the fact that there is no more to read. Which again is pretty great feedback. The pressures on I guess.

One thing to come out of this was a newfound excitement for my manuscript. At 60k words with the end in the distance it’s difficult to sometimes see the forest through the trees. Things slow down, a project becomes a slog. Seeing other people getting excited over my work gets me excited. Give me a reason to write. Even if I never sell it, if my beta readers enjoyed it I’ve done something right.