News Progress Post

Progress Report 2023 Week 02

It’s been an eventful week. I came within psychological inches not never publishing again. I also tried to execute on the goals I set for myself last week. Let’s talk about both after we talk numbers.

Progress Report 2023 Week 02 By the Numbers

Not quite 10,000 words, but I still consider the week a success!

I felt like I was performing open-heart surgery on Evolution’s Hand Book 4: Blind Exodus. Except that a) it was orders of magnitude easier than actual surgery and b) despite its protestations to the contrary, my manuscript has not reached sentience, nor even animal-levels of self-awareness.

So I guess my statement is a bit hyperbolic. But it sounds cooler than saying, “Keeping all those plot lines straight and making sure the characters only knew what they were supposed to at any give moment during chapter reshuffling sure was stressful.”

Which means I just gave away that yes, I finished the first of the two goals I set! The first draft of Blind Exodus is done. Again. This time for sure. Now I’ll let it sit for six to eight weeks before I start the second draft!

I hope it has a pleasant nap.

Adaptive Demons

One Attempt to Upsell

I figured out two things over the last week. I figured out why I try to write about 2,000 words a day plus run an anime review site that publishes a post daily (though I cheat a little — one of the posts is a re-post of series reviews from four or five years ago). The reason is this:

I need to, or the demons catch up.

Since I announced that I was going to take a run at writing what became Evolution’s Hand Book 1: Executive Action, I’ve tried to write for my novels six days a week. If I don’t, I start losing confidence. My old inner doubts, affectionately called demons, gain strength. What’s weird, I can almost feel them getting stronger by the minute if i skip a day. That’s a psychological thing; I doubt they’re real entities. But I feel my confidence ebb if I stop and think about what I’m doing — instead of doing it.

Remember back in 2022 week 39, when I described how a Reedsy editor tried to convince me to buy more than the editing I wanted? He said, basically, that the writing sample I provided showed how badly my work sucked, and I absolutely needed his services.

I was able to shrug it off. After all, another editor from Reedsy had been complimentary during the developmental edit back in 2021, and my readers so far haven’t ripped my books to shreds in reviews. But Seed of Doubt(tm) had been planted.

Followed by a Pro Tip That “Hey, You Suck”

Then a week ago, I watched a YouTube video where a writer whose work I respect explained that if I, as a writer, was not putting my manuscript through a developmental edit, a copy edit, a line edit, and a proof read edit, I was doing my readers a disservice. She then pointed the viewer to a friend of hers who would be happy to conduct such edits.

So, my doubts now bolstered by a second source, I checked out that other side. The editor had credentials. She had testimonies. And she had a price list. Evolution’s Hand Book 3: Primary Target is 169,161 words. To buy all four edits, it would cost me over $11,000.00.

I can’t stop writing. It’s not like I have super willpower. I can stop because if I do, I’m an emotional wreck. So I’m going to write novels. Nothing has given me this level of peace. Other writing helps, but writing novels and everything that goes along with it feels like coming home.

But if I’m inflicting pain on my readers by publishing books that suck, I can’t keep publishing. Maybe I’m not getting more reviews because my books are so suckful that they stun the readers into silence. How can I know for sure?

Facebook’s Group 20BooksTo50K To the Rescue

Well, trying to read intent into silence isn’t helpful. I realized I needed to pull myself out of that unproductive spiral and gather some facts. I belong to a Facebook group called 20BooksTo50K. I posted a description of my dilemma and asked for help establishing the heuristics I could use to get a handle on this situation. And, wow, did the other members help. Last I checked, it had 245 comments from writers and editors.

Before I say what I learned, please let me say this: that thread saved my publishing career. It helped me regain my equilibrium. If you’re a indie-publishing writer and you haven’t joined that group, I whole-hearted recommend it.

Here are my takeaways from the thread:

  1. I need beta readers. Five seems to be the minimum, with ten a good goal.
  2. I cannot skimp on a professional proof reader. I didn’t plan to, but confirmation based on experience is good.
  3. I need to investigate alpha readers. Not sure I’m ready for them yet, but I’m thinking about it.
  4. I will add Grammarly to my toolset. I already have ProWritingAid, which had kicked the quality of my writing quite a bit. Enough people suggested both that I’m going to invest in it.

I debated whether I should share this experience or not. After reflection, I figured I’d err on the side of full disclosure. I hope that’s what you’ve come to expect from me, and I don’t want to let you down.

Goals for the Week in Progress Report 2023 Week 02

I know I didn’t report on my second goal from last week (Continue plotting Book 5: Darkness Falls), but I’m already running long, and your time is valuable. So, here’re my goals for next week:

  1. Continue plotting Book 5: Darkness Falls — I made progress last week, but not a lot; I hope to crank it up this week
  2. Investigate Grammarly or other companion for ProWritingAid
  3. Investigate additional beta readers for Book 3: Primary Target; it’s already had two, so I might actually skip that and move to proof edit, but I’ll try to decide this week
  4. Brainstorm ideas for the replacement title for Darkness Falls

What Do You Think?

I just talked about how much 20BooksTo50K helped me this week. What supports have helped you? I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments!

4 thoughts on “Progress Report 2023 Week 02

  1. I saw your post in 20 Books, although it already had lots and lots of comments. 11k is an insane amount for an indie author to drop on book production. I wonder if Michael Anderle spends that much now and he’s doing all right!

    I can’t imagine how many words you’ve written on your blog and how many storylines you’ve analysed in the process. You can’t get through all that and not come out of it without any skills.

    Believe in the me that believes in you! You can do it!

    1. Thanks — I appreciate that.
      The response to my question, frankly, overwhelmed me. I’ve never felt a community’s support before. I’m still processing how to handle it.
      I will say that I’m glad I’ve tried to contribute before. I don’t want to be a free-loader!
      There was lots and lots of good feedback. One poster suggested I check out Dean Wesley Smith’s video called “Writing into the Dark.”
      I’m a plotter, at least right now. Mr. Smith’s video surprised me with an insight about how he writes. He calls it churning; Lee Child does it, too. It’s something I started doing last year, just by accident.
      Yes, my work needs some level of editing. But at some point, I have to take to heart just what you said. The fastest way for me to learn is to write. That’s it. I’m not the 25 year old who didn’t have any life experience and couldn’t plot to save his life. Maybe at some point I’ll accept that!
      Thanks for your comment. Reading it was a great way to wrap up a Thursday!

      1. No worries.

        I’m a big fan of Dean Wesley Smith and have listened to just about every podcast interview he’s done. He’s a fascinating character and while, I am much more of a plotter, I love his advice about not over thinking things, especially when he refers to Heinlein’s rules.

        I think with everything, you have take the bits that mean something to you and mould them into your process.

        The one thing I often remind myself about editors, and I mean this in the nicest way, they are just people too. Sure, there are style guides, but a lot of it comes down to preference, especially when you look at developmental edits and the such. You could hire ten different editors and I doubt they would all spot the same thing. It’s great to get a fresh set of eyes on things, but they aren’t always right.

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