This week I created a preview of my debut novel on instaFreebie (the first chapter of Deadly Sins) as a teaser before I launch my book. To get to this stage, there’s been quite a lot of work going on behind the scenes over the last few months…
An update and finding beta readers
Last year I mainly focused on setting up a company, designing a new website, and the graphic design side of my business. I found it difficult to focus on my design work as well as writing. I realised towards the end of the year that I hadn’t worked as much on getting my novel edited and published, despite making this one of my main goals. My novel got pushed to the side because graphic design and designing websites is more comfortable territory for me – it’s what I’ve mainly worked on for the last seven years – and I think ultimately I felt scared about publishing my novel and what kind of feedback I’d receive (or worse, receiving none!).
So in November I purchased a self-publishing training course that covered formatting, publishing and marketing a finished book, and I started networking with other authors. I reworked my novel, added a few new chapters, and sent it out to my second round of beta readers: a few volunteers who I found through Goodreads. I knew my novel wasn’t 100% perfect, and I hadn’t edited the last few chapters, but I thought, ‘Well, it’s good enough. Let’s see what the feedback will be.’ The feedback I received (and how quickly complete strangers gave me their comments) was amazing.
Working on my feedback
I did get my first negative feedback from one beta reader who wasn’t keen on literary fiction – it sounded as if she preferred to read erotica/BDSM and, although my novel contains sex, lust and relationships, it’s simply not just erotic fiction. Instead of reading her criticisms, feeling upset and dismissing them, I read between the lines and her comments were some of the most helpful I received. Also when it comes to marketing my book, I’ll bear in mind that although my book is multi-genre (crime/thriller/noir), it’s written in a literary style.
The two main points of criticism (from all my beta readers) were:
- ‘It could be a longer novel rather than a short 50,000-word novel or novella.’
This was difficult for me to hear as I’d spent at least a year paring it down and cutting out backstory, repetitive phrases and elements that weren’t vital to (or got in the way of) the story, which was necessary but my word count kept going down. I knew my beta readers were right though: I’d intended the novel to be longer and I wanted to focus on the sins of ALL my characters, but I’d been preoccupied with the main character, Angela, and her story. This relates to the next point…
- ‘I wanted more focus on other characters in the book, the relationships between them and their family dynamics.’
I need to rewrite some scenes involving Angela’s parents, and also include more about her relationships with Vincent (her father’s lieutenant) and Sean (a corrupt detective). When I was writing the final few chapters, I was so happy I’d reached the end of the novel that I overlooked the unresolved conflicts between some of the characters. In the last few months I’ve started adding more scenes into the novel while trying not to interrupt the flow of the main storyline. I might tweak the ending as well. I have a couple of weeks until I launch my novel (I’m annoyed with myself for pushing the launch date from 2016 to January, February and then March!), so I’ll see what happens between now and then.
Adding a preview of my novel on instaFreebie
Recently I haven’t been on Twitter or Facebook very much, but I plan to start promoting my work more this year, as well as other books in my genres. This week I decided to create a preview of my novel on instaFreebie (a site where authors can upload their freebie books and readers browse the books and pick the ones they want to read – usually in exchange for opting in to receive the author’s e-newsletter). I wanted to entice people to sign up to my e-newsletter, so I can let readers know when I launch Deadly Sins. This involved quite a bit of work:
- Setting up a mailing list, creating a sign-up form on my website, and checking it worked.
- Editing and proofreading my preview.
- Formatting the preview and adding the cover and front and back matter (e.g. an ‘about the author’ page and copyright page), creating an ePub file and checking it looked okay.
- Creating an instaFreebie account, linking up my mailing list and uploading the formatted ebook (finally!).
- Sending out a few tweets including the link to my instaFreebie giveaway.
Next week I need to work more on promoting my instaFreebie giveaway, and I’ll get involved in genre-specific group giveaways to attract new readers too, but I feel as if I’ve made progress this week and I’m excited that I can now get in touch with readers on my email list. And if you’d like to read the preview of Deadly Sins, you can simply click here.