Yesterday, after five and a half months, of writing, I finished Part 2 in my Tube Riders series, titled Exile. It rocked in at 145,166 words or in readers' terms 530 pages.
So, the first draft is done. What happens next?
I see a lot of writers just rushing their books out, sending their first drafts off to an editor the day after finishing. I'm going to go old skool with mine and leave it on a virtual shelf to mature for a bit. The draft is done, but I have to decide if I'm really happy with the story as it is. For example, less than twelve hours after finishing I came up with a couple of small changes to make in the last scene, including one important confrontation that wasn't in the original manuscript. These are changes I'm going to make and there will be others, too. My drafts tend to be fairly sparse, so there's a lot of room to add stuff in.
I'm aiming to let it sit for about six weeks before I actually read it over. That should be enough time for me to look at it more objectively. Once I start reading I'll aim to tighten the existing text, add more detail, get rid of as many basic typos as I can (my first drafts are littered) make sure the characters - particularly the new ones - maintain the same "voice" all the way through, hunt down and kill any plot holes, and try to make some of the more unbelievable sections as believable as possible.
Then, once I'm satisfied with it, I'm going to make it ready for the world.
1. Beta readers
These will be a small group of people who get to read through the draft. I have a couple of volunteers but I'd like five or six so if anyone else would like to ...
These people will have a direct influence on the final story. They get to tell me which bits sucked, which bits are stupid, which characters are lame. If I agree, I'll fix it. If they all say the same thing and I don't agree, I'll probably still fix it. While it's unlikely I'll agree to bring a dead character back to life, or a kill a character that survives, I could be persuaded to kill them differently, or give them a bit more of a beating in lieu of actually killing them. I'm open to suggestions!
2. Copy editing
I edited Tube Riders 1 myself and I kind of got away with it because it had been three years since I had looked at it and the whole manuscript felt like someone else had written it. I was able to edit it as if I was editing a book for a stranger, but time it'll be a little more difficult, because I don't want to wait three years before getting this book out. A copy editor will aim to tighten up the text in sections I've missed, spot repeated words, that kind of thing.
I may or may not get the same person to do the proofreading, but I learned the hard way that you can't do it yourself. When I first put Tube Riders out last year it had more than a 100 errors in it, and it took me six different volunteer proofreaders to get them all out. This time I'm going to get it done before I release the book. It's way too important to go out with errors in this time. I'm learning slowly, but I am learning.
Same as the above - I put Tube Riders out myself and the first edition had some bad formatting errors, sections that were all in bold, sections that didn't have intents, etc. Again, I'll probably pay someone to do it for me this time.
Obviously a book needs a cover. I'll probably start planning the cover while I'm doing all of the above so that there is no delay once the book's ready. For this one I'm going to get Marta Banks on the cover as she's my leading lady. Not sure how yet, but it'll make a nice change from the scary Huntsman on part 1.
I'm going to put the book out on all formats this time, not exclusively through Amazon. This will mean that I can't do free promos, but I will be able to do bargain books and also giveaways I arrange myself. While I like the KDP free promos as a way of reaching a wider audience, I've been hit by far too many bad reviews by people who don't even like my type of book yet just download it because it's free and then complain about it. I've had enough of that. If a sci-fi fan hates it that's fine, but I'm tired of people who don't even like sci-fi slamming it because it somehow didn't manage to transcend a genre that they don't even enjoy reading. Tube Riders 1 will also be coming out of Select at the next opportunity, which is late Feb. My standalone books will stay in for now, as I don't mind a hit or two on those.
What am I going to do until March?
Write! I have a ton of stuff that's been put on the backburner while I got this done. I have a novella to finish, a short story collection and two novels to edit for starters. Then I'm going to play around about, maybe write some poetry, or a few stories about my cat ... We'll see. Once this book is done I'll get back to work on part three. Looking forward to it!
10th Feb 2013
The Newsletter of Chris Ward, Fiction Writer
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