Is there life after finishing a first draft?


My title poses an interesting question. Is there life after a first draft? You may well wonder since I’ve gone dark on social media since I announced I had finished mine. Truth be told, I needed a break from talking about my work.

I have not been idle. For an indie author, the work never stops. While that first draft was simmering, I reread the other three books in the series. This was useful as I go into rewrites on the fourth book. I now have the entire story line in my head. As a matter of course, I picked up typos and a few continuity errors. So, I upgraded all the files. I’ve been meaning to do such an update for a while because I’ve learned how to do the table of contents feature in a way that is more compatible for Kindle readers.

A great upside to indie publishing and doing my own ebook formatting is that I can revise and repost my interior book files whenever necessary. The need to do such revising comes up more often that I realized it would. When the fourth book is published, I will have redo the interior file for the third with a sneak peek at chapter one of the fourth.

I’ve now moved through my first rewrite on No Compass to Right. I’ve trimmed down the word count, cleaned up problematic scenes, checked over time frames and rewritten a key event that, according to one of my consultants, was more complicated than necessary. I’ve done multiple searches for incidents of unclear, weak writing.

Line-by-line editing has begun on the early chapters and rewrites will continue apace of editing. This process may seem clunky but it works for me. I’m keeping ahead of my editor (what a laugh!) by reading the entire work aloud and making changes as I go. Much is discovered while reading a piece of one’s writing aloud!

When I can’t face any of the above tasks, I switch gears to work on acknowledgments, dedication and the dreaded book blurb for the latest novel. Nothing tests an author’s mettle like writing a book blurb. There is that moment, looking at a blank page, knowing I must come up with 250 words that will excite, entice and lure the reader into my story, when I realize that my book must be about nothing since my mind is a total blank.

I’m also working on ideas, conceptual sketches and assembling photos for the cover of this new work.

On the marketing front, I’ve landed another BookBub slot for Disappearing in Plain Sight in May. It was March 2016 that I was featured with the first book of the Crater Lake Series. I am eager to share how a second time on the same book works out.

So, that’s where I’m at. Where in the writing process do you find yourself?


Marketing 2016–The Tangled Web & the Dog Poop

Tangled web - Guenette photo

2016 is well on its way and I am overdue for an updated, book marketing plan! I am resolved to not step into the same piles of dog poop marketing that I’ve trod on in the past. I have been slow to learn but I hope the proverbial penny has dropped.

So, here goes:

  1. I’ve decided, for the upcoming year at least, to limit sales of my ebooks to Amazon in order to enter the Kindle Select program and be eligible for Kindle Unlimited readers. Amazon is the marketing giant and to hold out against the promotional opportunities they can provide is like being a fairly useless bell clanging in the wilderness.
  2. I’ve made up my mind to keep on applying for a BookBub promotion slot until I am successful – no matter how long it takes. In the past, I couldn’t wrap my head around paying a hefty fee to give my book away but I’ve since added up all the dollars I’ve spent on marketing ideas (that were a total waste of money) and realized I could have afforded a promotion on this highly-rated-to-succeed site.
  3. In 2016, I’m going to take the dictum about the need to build an email list much more seriously. If you sign up as an email follower to my blog, you should receive an email message offering you a free ebook copy of my book of short stories. I’m still trying to work out the kinks on this but do give it a try. The sign-up button is on the right-hand bar of the page. You should be directed to email me and request either a mobi or epub file. This email sign-up means you get email notice when a new post appears on my blog. It also means that you are giving me the nod to occasionally email you and let you know that I have a new release or alert you to a sale on one of my books or the book of another author I admire.

Since beginning my marketing journey in the spring of 2012, I have been bombarded by all the newest strategies that promise to skyrocket my book through to the top of a seething mass of self-published works.

Here is what I have learned:

  1. Book contests advertised on the net that charge fees are a waste of money. My take on this could be coloured by the fact that I never win but even so, I stand by my opinion.
  2. Book review sites that charge a fee to move one up the list while claiming that one is not in fact paying for a review are a waste of money. These type of reviews can not be posted as an Amazon review because of the fee paid. The review I received was heartfelt and obviously by a genuine reader – kudos for that. On the down side, I’m assuming English was not the first language of the reviewer and the quality of the written review reflected that. It is clearly a darkly shaded nuance that this type of service is not, in fact, paying for a review. In retrospect, I would rather have not kidded myself, paid more (say to Kirkus) and got my money’s worth. Lesson learned. 
  3. Paying for a book blog tour is a waste of money. Okay, let me speak only to my own experience and preamble my comments by saying that the two tours I paid for were both under $50.00 US. I don’t know what might have happened if I’d paid the big bucks. I will say this, a fellow author shared that a recent tour cost upwards of $350.00 and resulted in minimal to zero sales.
  4. Twitter is fun but don’t expect that time spent creating book selling tweets will amount to much. I’ve said this before and I’m happy to say it again – I love Twitter. Occasionally, I tweet about one of my books but this is more for the challenge of seeing what I can say about my own work in 140 characters or less. Maybe the whole dynamic of selling books on Twitter changes when one has tens of thousands of followers. I very much doubt it but I don’t have that personal experience to call upon.
  5. A Facebook author page is a great thing to have. I love mine and I enjoy posting things that I think will be interesting to fellow writers and readers alike. Most schemes aimed at increasing one’s following on an author Facebook page seem to me to be a woeful waste of time and if they cost anything, a waste there, too. I’ve tried targeted update boosts, again at the low range of financial investment ($10.00 to $20.00). These boosts never amounted to much of anything.

So there you have it – my proactive strategies to move forward and reactions to my past efforts. My most important insight is this:

I have to keep my personal benchmarks of success in focus.

Too often, the dizzying claims by fellow authors of thousands of sales make me lose sight of the positive feedback I receive about my own books. I had a phone call yesterday from a woman who wanted to purchase yet another entire set of The Crater Lake Series. She has a friend she will gift them to. I think this is her third such gift.

I set out to write because my objective was to tell a story through the voices and experiences of a group of characters that once read, could not help but change the reader in some essential and yet possibly indefinable way. That desire may result in a body of work that never breaks through to huge sales. So be it. 

Let’s start a dialogue here. What do you think of my current strategies? What about my take on the past marketing poop? How does one balance personal benchmarks of success with the reality of selling books? Talk to me, people. Let’s pool our collective knowledge. I promise a thoughtful response.

Sunset over the lake - Guenette photo