News Progress Post

Progress Report 2024 Week 08

Last week, I spent a lot of time updating my Amazon blurbs. Did the energy I spent on blurbs disrupt progress on The Sword of Sirius Book 2: Collapse Zone? And what about alpha feedback on The Sword of Sirius Book 1: Red Flag Warning? Let’s take a look at the numbers for the week before diving into those topics and more.

Progress Report 2024 Week 08 By the Numbers

I managed to top 10,000 words again this week — despite “losing” a day to casting for the 24th fleet Supervisors!

I got to the point in the plot where I needed to cast the Supervisors of the four spaceships in the 24th fleet. Part of me wanted to rush through the casting and not put too much thought into it. Another part of me said, “Don’t be stupid.”

You’d be surprised how often I don’t listen to that voice second voice.

Fortunately, this time, I did. I took the time to cast four new characters:

  • Supervisor of the Undaunted: Kudret Aydın from Adana, Turkey
  • Supervisor of the Stalwart (an important role, since Owen Payne will be on his ship): Alejandro Iglesias, from Merida, Yucatan, Mexico
  • Supervisor of the Audacity: Hazel Thomas, from Wichita, Kansas, Kansas Supremacy
  • Supervisor of the Endurance: Jackson Scott, from Moncks Corner, South Carolina, Colonial America

Before the casting exercise, this part of the plot felt too vanilla to me. Afterward, though, I realized that I had accidentally introduced the opportunity for drama: Thomas and Scott were on opposite side of the war that destroyed TransStell’s headquarters in Evolution’s Hand Book 3: Primary Target. That’s going to spice things up a bit!

Also, it gave me an idea for a new short story to act as a lead magnet for my newsletter e-mail list. I think it’ll follow Jackson Scott and his adventures after that little war. He had been the executive officer on the SSGN Florida when she received orders to bombard targets in The Middle States. He was kinda pissed about that.

Let that be a lesson to me: don’t take shortcuts. Invest the time to get the characters right. If I do, they’ll help me out!

Alpha Reader Feedback for Red Flag Warning

Based on the first alpha reader’s feedback, I added one chapter and beefed up another. This alpha reader seemed to confirm that my changes (the ones I implemented as a result of the first alpha reader’s feedback) helped. The second alpha reader was Jonah H (@jonah_books) from Fiverr, and Jonah H. pointed out areas that could use improvement.

I agree with most of the feedback. I’m thinking about how I’m going to incorporate it, and to what degree. First up, thought, I’m working on getting Evolution’s Hand Book 6: Unnatural Crypsis ready to publish. Expect to hear more about both these efforts soon.

Upgrades to Amazon Blurbs

Experience Prepared Me for Experience

I made two major changes to my Amazon blurbs. First, I stopped thinking about them on a book-by-book basis. Instead of trying to excite readers about an individual book, I thought about the book’s position in the series. I tried to convey a sense of progress through each of the six descriptions so a curious reader would get a sense where the series was going.

The new blurb looks less dense and easier to read. It also looks, at a glance, more like the best sellers in the same categories.

Second, I’ve talked about a consultation and subsequent class I purchased from The Writing Wives. Their material was helpful, and leveraging it improved my previous set of blurbs. But I didn’t fully internalize their message. Then, I found this post on Kindlepreneur. I don’t think this post would have helped me six months ago. But after going through The Writing Wives and the experience of trying to write blurbs, that post just made sense.

Here’s the new blurb for Evolution’s Hand Book 1: Executive Action:

For a company that mines asteroids, discovering a shortcut to 61 Cygni and its untapped resources should be good news, right?

Dek Conrad knew better. He had kept his small company under the radar for decades. He had to. His company was a twentieth the size of the megacorporations.

But his discovery put Conrad in the crosshairs of the biggest of those megacorps, TCP. TCP would stop at nothing, absolutely nothing, to get Conrad’s find. And he can’t just sell it to them.

Because Conrad’s guarding a secret. His entire company is guarding a secret. A secret so important, they’re willing to die to protect it. And TCP is about to make them prove it.

Better Than the Old Blurb — I Think

Is it better? I think so. Is it a great blurb? I still don’t know for sure. But I strongly suspect that it’s a lot closer to great than the original. I mean, just look at the previous first paragraph:

Conrad’s company had carved out a niche for itself. An intentionally small niche so they could stay under the radar. They treated their people better than most and they were successful, especially at keeping their secret: their actual goal was saving the world.

I damn near fell asleep just pasting it into this post! I like the “pop” of the new blurb’s first paragraph. I think the new blurb highlights the tropes that are in the book. That way, I can set, and then fulfill, reader expectations. But my opinion isn’t the important one here. The readers are kings/queens. If they buy more books, the blurb is good. If not, the blurb is bad. It’s as simple as that.

Progress against Last Week’s Goals

Here’s how I did against last week’s goals:

  1. Write Malhotra’s Pinch 1: Done!
  2. Write Luisa Brunner’s Midpoint: Done!
  3. Write Owen Payne’s Midpoint: 2/3 Done! I realized his midpoint needed to be three chapters. I finished the first draft of two of them.
  4. Write Malhotra’s Midpoint: Deferred! Instead, I realized I needed an earlier chapter in her arc, so I wrote that instead.
  5. Revise the Amazon ad blurbs for the first five books and write the ad blurb for the sixth: Done!

Goals for the Week in Progress Report 2024 Week 08

Here’s what I hope to accomplish this week:

  1. Finish part 3 of Owen Payne’s Midpoint
  2. Finish Malhotra’s Midpoint
  3. Finish Payne’s Pinch 2 (unless I need to split Malhotra’s Midpoint into more than one chapter)
  4. Finish Luisa Brunner’s Pinch 2
  5. Begin outlining the short story for Jackson Scott

What Do You Think?

How often do you get ideas from creating new characters? Do character details sometimes come together to create plot ideas? I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.