An Author’s Worst Enemy: Writer’s block

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I have written several posts during my time on WordPress detailing my avid attitude against the existence of writer’s block. I’ve always said that it’s not a lack of creativity but rather a mind game that the author is losing to himself. I’ve said that it’s an excuse not to write. That it’s ridiculous to sit there and think that a writer can be writing along and then have no idea where to take the story. I’ve said all of these things about the phenomena known as writer’s block, and I’m ready to admit that I was wrong.

You see, I have a very straightforward writing philosophy. I write a chapter. I read through it. Make changes. Take a day or two or five away from writing. Then repeat the process. It was slightly different for my first book, but this is what it is today. I’ve worked my way through ten chapters of my second book, and the process itself has never failed. It was me.

In my tenth chapter I took my story to a place that I probably shouldn’t have. I knew that it would be difficult writing from there because I was starting to write what I didn’t know. I was taking the story to a place I didn’t anticipate and, as a result, I’m stuck. I don’t know what I want to happen in the next few chapters. I don’t know what the heck my private detective is doing by handling his case the way he is. I don’t know how these next few chapters will allow me to finish the story how I want to. BUT I do know that I’m not going back and rewriting my previous chapter in order to make these next few a bit easier to write. The story is great how it is now, I just need to get moving forward again. And I will, I just need some time to think.

If you’re suffering from this horrible illness that seems to inflict all writers at some point, rest assured, you’re not alone. I’m right there with you. I salute your determination to keep pressing forward. Now if only I could do so myself.

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Officially Entered into the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest

Photo Credit: goodereader.com

I knew quite some time ago that I wanted to enter my book, Divided Within, into the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest. As I’ve stated in at least one previous post, this is easily the most lucrative writing contest there is. And a great opportunity for new writers. Most of the other major writing contests strictly prohibit previously self published books, but this one has no such limitation. Now, a little about the contest.

The Contest

The Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award is a free to enter annual writing contest that allows for unpublished and self published entries. Entries must fall within one of the five genre categories which are: General Fiction, Mystery/ Thriller, Science Fiction/ Fantasy/ Horror, Romance, and Young Adult. Entries must also fall within the word count limits of 50,000-125,000. And the contest is judged from now until the winners are announced in July. The contest is limited to 10,000 entries, which no other contest would even come close to reaching. For instance, I’ve been told by an author who won the Best Private Eye Novel competition that is sponsored by Minotaur Books and Private Eye Writers of America several years ago that in a recent contest there were only a couple hundred entries. And this contest regularly goes years without awarding a winner.

Expectations

In anticipation of submitting my entry I read my book all the way through for a fourth time. I had many things I went back in and corrected. There were no major rewrites or chapters eliminated but there were plenty of individual words changed or taken out, and some small details altered as a result of what I’ve been told by some of my readers. With that being said, I don’t think I’m actually going to beat out 9,999 other writers to win the top prize, or even to be crowned the winner of my category. I’ve said over and over how much I love my book and the characters I created, but 9,999 other writers is a lot. I’d be happy making it to the second round of judging, in which the excerpts of 2,000 entries will be evaluated. Then it’s down to 500. Then it’s down to just 25. Then it’s down to the top five, who will all receive a publishing contract with Amazon Publishing, one of which will be awarded the $50,000 grand prize.

In about two weeks the top 400 from each category will be announced.

If you’d like to wish me luck, then feel free. If not, that’s okay too.

To Self Publish Again or not?

Before reading this post, I highly suggest you read my post titled Self Publishing with CreateSpace: My Experience from a little while back. In that post I offered a timeline of every aspect of the self publishing process.

Now, onto the subject matter of this one. The paperback edition of my book was released on October 29 of this year and the Kindle version soon followed on November 7. Are there things that I could have done that I haven’t to help get the word out about my book? Yes. But have I sat at home doing absolutely no promotion whatsoever and expected readers to somehow discover, buy, and read my debut novel? No.

I’ve offered the Kindle version of my book free for a total of three days since its release. Those three days alone resulted in 6737 readers downloading my book. Which is great, but the same methods that I’ve used to promote my free days have not helped me sell more books at the always affordable $0.99 price that it currently sits at. I still have my blog tour coming next month, but my sales expectations for that are no longer what they once were. I have no idea if I’ll sell any books during my three week long tour, and that’s why I’ve come to the decision that I have.

I’ve decided that I will not self publish my second book under any circumstances. All of my fellow authors know this means there’s a chance I don’t find an agent and/or publisher for my book. I’m now prepared to face that challenge because I simply haven’t been able to gain any traction with my first self published book. It’s unfortunate.

I don’t even know that I feel like an author right now. I mean, so what if I managed to string together 21 chapters and bind them together and call them a book. What’s that gotten me after five months of writing and rewriting and then two more after the book’s release? Not much.

Final Final Final Draft

I posted yesterday that I officially had my proof in my hands for my review. I also mentioned that I had completed my third and final read through of my book. Well…today I uploaded what will ultimately be my final final final draft! Technically I’m still going to get another proof once my changes are made, but I figure that if I keep reading it then there will always be something that I want to change for whatever reason. I can’t imagine any author ever being absolutely satisfied with his or her work. So I won’t read it through once I receive my last proof. I’ll simply be checking to make sure the mistakes I found were corrected.

I was told that my changes would be made within 7-10 business days, which isn’t bad, but I was also told that I’d receive my first proof within 12 days of them beginning work on it. I actually got it in five. So I’m certain that I’ll be approving my final proof sometime next week and my book will become available for purchase by you lovely people! Well, I think the Amazon product page will take a few days to go online, but it’ll be soon!

This is it!

Also, I’ll be launching my website probably in the next day or two so keep an eye out!

Criticism Revealed

I mentioned in my post yesterday that I had one reader who I was waiting to receive feedback from. Well, it turns out that the one remaining reader has chosen not to finish book even after being given more time with it than the others. So I see no reason not to talk a little about what the others who did read it had to say.

I had originally planned to print out a hard copy for each reader so that they could perhaps read with a pen or sticky or notes or a highlighter to mark up the text as they saw fit. I immediately realized how costly this would become after printing out my own hard copy. I was forced to utilize email instead.

Also, I originally had a list of 12 readers who I picked for very specific reasons. I ended up only sending it out to eight, and having only four read it. It certainly isn’t my ideal circumstance, but what can I do? When I sent the book out I included a critique sheet of 12 questions asking about the overall quality of the work, plot, description, and each of the main characters. I tried to cover every major aspect of the book with at least one question.

Now, let me discuss what those four individuals had to say.

First, the feedback was somewhat mixed. For example, one reader gave the overall work a score of 90 out of 100 and another gave it a 2.8 out of 5. The other two gave it a B score and a 7 out of 10. I allowed for them to use whatever scale they wanted as long as they explained their score. So I’d say that I received two good scores and two eh. No worries.

The next question asked about plot and I am happy to say that all four agreed that the plot was solid.

The third question asked about Andrew Banks, the main protagonist. Again, for the most part, all four agreed that he was a solid character who developed pretty well over the course of the book. One criticism of Andrew was how he handled his first case as a private detective, that he was bit messy. But he’s a rookie private eye! That should be expected.

The next questions asked about the other major characters in the book and the feedback was mostly positive. One of the later questions I asked was about the ending. It can’t be a good book without a solid ending, right? Well…according to these four the ending was pretty fantastic. No one had any real criticism of how I chose to end the story.

The final question that I’m going to discuss here asked whether they would recommend the book if asked and all four said that they would.

I expect to talk to two people tomorrow regarding  my cover and interior formatting of the book! I can’t wait!

Feedback Frenzy

That’s what yesterday was! Well, maybe I’m exaggerating a bit.

Anyway, yesterday was the deadline that I gave all of my readers to read my book and offer their feedback so that I could take it into account when making changes for the next draft. The good news is that I received a lot of good criticism. The bad news is that only half of my readers actually read it.

During this process I’ve come to realize that the efforts of just one person is hardly enough to get others interested and involved, which is unfortunate because I would be extremely excited to be a part of something like this for someone else. I’d love for someone to want to base a character in their book off of me. I’d open up and tell them any and everything they wanted to know. I’d love to beta read a completed book for someone in order to help them perfect it. Evidently, though, others did not share that same enthusiasm for my work.

But don’t worry! I’m not mad or sad or anything but excited for my book! It’s all I talk about and all I think about! Well, I just woke from a nap with that damn Miley song in my head, so maybe not 24/7.

I’ve spent a few hours today going over the feedback that I’ve been given and trying to incorporate it into my work. There won’t be any huge dramatic changes, but I’ve changed a few scenes and added things that I feel will make the book better.

I have at least one more reader who I’m waiting to hear back from, so once I receive that I’ll give all of you a better idea as to what they had to say about my book.

My Kickstarter project will end later tonight and ultimately wind up unsuccessful, but my book is constantly moving forward.

We’re almost there!

The Anticipation is Driving me Crazy!

All of my beta readers have now had most of a week with my book. Two have had it more than a week, four received it on Sunday, and the final two on Monday. I know I’m probably just being paranoid but i feel like I’m stuck!

My book is fairly short and I have a pretty good idea as to how long it should take to read, even with busy lives. So now I have two polar opposite thoughts coursing through my head regarding the critiques that I’ve yet to receive. First is “It’s terrible.” The second is “They’re just being thorough like I asked them to be.” Ahh.

I have given all of my readers a deadline of this coming Sunday, so technically they haven’t gone overboard just yet. But I want feedback!

Also, I just finished the first James Patterson book that I didn’t like. It’s posted on my What I’m Reading page. It was the first in his Michael Bennett series and I don’t think I’ll be continuing the series, at least not right now. Michael Ledwidge wrote a decent story, but I felt that he was trying to imitate Patterson throughout and came up way short.

Today I have no reader feedback and by the time of my next post I shall have all I’ve asked for! Stay tuned!

Have a look at Kickstarter project page here to learn a little about my book and maybe pledge. Only three days left!