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Progress Report 2024 Week 24

I ran into an unusual Real Life Family Event (RLFE) this week. It hit so hard that I didn’t finish a weekly post for my anime site — a post I’d made on time since 2018. It bled into Saturday. Not only that, I’m in between books, and that usually means I begin to lose mental coherency after a week or so. It’s been a week. Am I holding it together? Let’s take a look at the numbers first.

Last Week’s Progress By the Numbers

Scoping a Different Approach

Wait — book 10? What’s that about?

You might notice a lot of zeros in the infographic. And then you might notice the “Book 10” piece. Well, that means I’m beginning to reap the benefits of the idea that Dean Wesley Smith gave me in his video Writing into the Dark. His video had an absolute ton of great insights, and one of those was reinforced by a video he shared from Lee Child.

That video presented Lee Child’s idea of, before starting to write for the day, re-reading what you’d written the day before out loud. That accomplishes two things. First, by reading it out loud, you can hear problem in the text much more easily than just reading it. Second, it pulls me back into the fictitious world. By the time I finish reading the chapter (and making edits), I’m fully immersed and ready to start writing the next chapter.

Lee Childs seems to write a whole chapter, then re-read it the next day. If I understood his video, Dean Wesley Smith goes a few hundred words, goes back to read, then moves forward again. In other words, the technique if flexible and can adapt to your rhythm.

No Compromise in Quality and a Faster Release Cycle

I generally write a chapter a day, which is about 2000 to 2500 words. I read the previous day’s chapter out loud before starting the next chapter. That means by the time I finish the “first draft,” I’ve actually finished the second draft.

The net effect? I just finished the ProWritingAid pass (i.e., my third draft) of The Sword of Sirius Book 1: Red Flag Warning. It’s in the hands of a beta reader. Last week, I finished the ProWritingAid pass for The Sword of Sirius Book 2: Collapse Zone. It’s now in the hands of an alpha reader. Finally, I started the ProWritingAid pass of The Sword of Sirius Book 3: Firebreak. It’ll go into an alpha read when Collapse Zone comes out.

ProWritingAid finds a lot of grammar problems that I missed. My proofreader agrees it’s helping! But I still can’t do away with a human proofreader.

Toward the end of Evolution’s Hand, I had adopted this technique. But I’d also insisted on putting the last couple of manuscripts through another pass of reading out loud. I evaluated how much I fixed, and it turned out the changes were all non-substantial. They weren’t worth the time invested. I’m confident in this conclusion because it matched the conclusion Chris Fox reached in his book Writing to Market.

After publication, we’ll see if readers agree the quality’s still there. I honestly think it’s not only there; I think this process yields a better product. But I’ll accept the readers’ judgement!

Marketing News

The lead magnet is doing well. Actually, it’s doing better than I expected. I’m getting newsletter signups and many of them have downloaded the lead magnet The Sword of Sirius Prequel: Fallback Position. So that’s good news!

Based on David Gaughran’s newsletter, I setup a Meta Pixel for my site. Next, I setup a Meta sales campaign that uses the Pixel. I’ve never done that before. My attempts with Facebook ads have focused on traffic. With a sales ad, I expect to see fewer clicks, but a higher percentage of chose clicks converting to sales. So far, I can testify that I’m getting fewer clicks! But I’m not sure about sales part.

I joke about it, but I expect fewer clicks because a sales ad explicitly asks the Facebook user to buy something. The traffic ads are more vague about post-click intentions. My hope is that by the time a potential reader hits my books page, they know what they’re getting into and are inclined to buy.

The Next Series

Since The Sword of Sirius is getting close to publication, it’s almost time to start writing the next book. I’ve consulted with my experts (my wife and daughter), and I’ve come up with a series title. Ready for the first public reveal?

It’s Dreams of Deucalion.

Atticus Porter will be the main protagonist. The main antagonist is Jadwiga Janczak. I’m still casing the B-roll protagonist. I know what I want the character to do, but I’m not sure who it’ll be. The first book will be called Stellar Entanglements. This series should capture the political intrigue and dystopian aspects of Evolution’s Hand and the military/space fleet aspects of The Sword of Sirius. At least, that’s my hope.

Progress against Last Week’s Goals

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

  • Brainstorm ideas for the next book or series to write: Done!
  • Finish the ProWritingPass for The Sword of Sirius Book 1: Red Flag Warning: Done!
  • Solicit bids for the cover for The Sword of Sirius Book 2: Collapse Zone: Done!
  • Begin the ProWritingAid pass for Collapse Zone (stretch goal): Done! I actually finished the pass.

I also send Collapse Zone to a beta reader.

Goals for the Week in Progress Report 2024 Week 24

Here’s what I hope to accomplish this week:

  1. Finish the ProWritingAid pass for The Sword of Sirius: Firebreak
  2. Finish casting for Dreams of Deucalion
  3. Sketch sets for Dreams of Deucalion
  4. Begin to evaluate results of the cover search for The Sword of Sirius Book 2: Collapse Zone
  5. Begin to write Amazon blurbs for all three books in The Sword of Sirius

What Do You Think?

How do you know how much revising is enough? How do you tell if it’s not enough? I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments!

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