I’m very excited to report that, as of yesterday, I’ve sent copies of My Last Days off to my test readers.

They’ll read through it and give me their feedback about the story, characters, plot, ending, etc.

Hopefully they like it and then we move on to the next steps. 

Things I still need to do: read through it one more time myself, start to finish, get artwork done for the cover and jacket, remember how to publish the eBook to the various ereader websites that exist out there.

Then it’s just a matter of getting it all done and publishing it. Then, the hard part starts; marketing. The part I’m least good at. Fingers crossed! My only internal goal is to sell more copies and have more readers than A Sour Chord. Which wasn’t much, so it shouldn’t be too hard to beat.

I’ll admit that I’ve been feeling a little defeated lately. The lack of sales of A Sour Chord – though mostly my fault for not really marketing it – have me questioning why I’m even doing this. Not because I want the money, that’s not – and never has been – what this is about. I just want people to read what I write.

If I could make it completely free all the time, I would.

I’ve started diving back into My Last Days now, reading it aloud, to try to get to a second draft. I’ve been making notes as I go along, hoping that I can refine the story and get to a better place with it.

It’s such an arduous process to read and re-read and re-read something over and over again. Well, reading it’s not the problem. Trying to separate myself from it to the point where I can constructively criticize my own work is what I’m having a tough time with.

I was hoping that I could have outsiders do that for me, and provide objective criticism, but a lot of those people who offered to read the first draft and provide feedback flaked out for whatever reason. That, in and of itself, had me questioning whether or not the book was so bad that those people didn’t even want to finish reading it.

Though the few that did said they enjoyed it, so it’s tough to say.

Regardless of what happened with those people (maybe they’re just flakey people, who knows), I’m pressing on and going to get through this first draft re-reading by the end of the month. Then I’ll move on to a second draft before sending it to my editor to run through.

My goal is to have this completely done and ready for publishing around the same time that A Sour Chord went live in the bookstores, which was mid-May of this year. So, fingers crossed that I’ll get it done on the same schedule.

Part of this whole “I’m writing a book” process has been to educate myself about how it works from start to finish — what it’s like to write a book, edit a book, have artwork designed, and finally publish the book.

I’ve been rolling with the proverbial punches since I started this journey in March of 2013.  I haven’t been frustrated at all, despite many parts of the process taking much longer than I wanted.  Until this week.

I was finally done with everything. Artwork done, book compiled into eBook format, ready to publish and start marketing myself and the book.

I uploaded the book to Barnes & Noble first, typed in a few bits of information, uploaded my file and had a button that said “Publish” in a matter of minutes.

Amazon’s process was similar — ready to publish in just a few minutes.

Apple’s process has been frustrating and confusing, to say the least.

I found out that you need their own proprietary publishing software, called iTunes Producer. After downloading 3.0 (the latest version), I had nothing but problems. Even on my brand new Mac Pro (one of the most powerful computers on earth), it just kept freezing.

Google suggested that it was the same for most people who’d upgraded. So I found an older version and used that.

After two, or maybe it was three, hours of confusing unhelpful error messages, I finally got the book to compile into their iBooks format, and started the upload process.

My 1mb file took ten minutes to upload. Ten minutes!

Once that completed I was happy. I was ready to go!

Wrong.  Then Apple’s “review process” began.  They, much like apps submitted to their store, review your book for quality — though it’s unclear what they’re looking for.

This was Monday morning, around 10am.  Cut to Friday, they finally approved my book and made it for sale immediately.

I wasn’t ready to be on sale yet, so I went in and turned off the “Cleared for Sale” option on the United States store, which then triggered an error message in their system.  It eventually fixed itself, but now I see a big error of “Not available in 51 stores” on my book’s management page.  I filled out the contact form yesterday asking for help, but I imagine it’ll be a few days before I hear back.

While the book was up for sale, the “Sample” file that was provided (which may have been my fault), was the entire book, not just a sample.  Clearly no one’s going to buy the book if they can get it for free through the sample.

I’m hoping I can get all of these issues cleared up next week and finally be on sale.

I do have to say, though, seeing the book on an iBooks page and in the iBooks app made me feel an extreme sense of accomplishment.  Even if no one buys it and no one cares about it or likes the story, I did it. And that’s the most important thing for me.

As of around 24 hours ago, I’ve uploaded A Sour Chord to Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Apple.

Amazon and Barnes & Noble were quick and painless.  After mucking around with my eBook format a few times and testing it on their preview systems, I got it right and had it queued up, selected what countries I wanted to sell in, and set my price.  All I have left to do there is click the Publish button on both platforms.

Apple, on the other hand, has a review process built into their system.  I won’t even get into what a pain it is to upload your book to their service if you’ve never done it before — they have their own proprietary app that only runs on OS X (not a big deal, I’m a Mac user), which the current version doesn’t work properly — but I managed to get that all sorted out.

I couldn’t find anywhere in their membership agreement, or documentation when I signed up that they can take up to 30 days to approve your book.  Apparently it’s the same review process that apps for the App Store go through.  I’m not sure if that means I have to wait for someone to actually read the book, or if they just download it, scan through it, and then approve it.

At this point, I’m at the mercy of the might fruit company.  My plan is that once they approve the book, I’ll flip the switch on all three services and be for sale all at once.  Then I’ll have some updating to do here on the website, including publishing the book details, updating the navigation menu, adding buy links, etc.  My task manager app is brimming with things I’ll need to do once I go live.

In case you’re curious, I settled on $3.99 for my initial price and will play with that over time.  It’s surprising how much of that money the companies selling for you take.  For example, of that $3.99, Amazon will give me $1.40.  That’s 35% if you wanted to do the math.

It varies by country, but given that most of my sales will be US based, I’ll get $1.40 per copy sold.

I’m hoping for, and will consider this endeavor a success, if I can sell 100 copies.  Fingers crossed!  Once this waiting game is over, it’s game on.  I don’t want to say that I’ll have to start pimping myself out, but it almost feels that way.

I’ve been chugging away at the edits that Austin sent over before he left for a vacation in Greece (I know, I’m jealous too!) and I’d guesstimate I’m a little less than halfway through the list of edits he had.

So far I’ve trimmed a few thousand words out through the various edits, which I think is good.

Going back through and editing has allowed me to read a lot of the actual book myself.  It’s helped me realize that there’s some changes I’d like to make.

Most notably, I want to change my lead female’s name — for reasons I won’t get into here.

I also want to change the name of the band — as a placeholder I’ve been using Resolute Resolve, which makes no sense and is flat-out stupid.  I’ve known since I started writing that this would be a placeholder, I just have to spend the time to come up with a different name.

I need to revisit describing some of the characters — I’ve done this twice so far already, but need to do it again as now months after writing some of the characters I’m having a hard time remembering what I wanted them to look like.

The story needs some work — there’s certain keys that I wanted to hit to make sure that the end is really powerful.  It’s not a twist in the traditional sense, but I think the ending comes as somewhat of a surprise.  My hopes is that I pulled it off well, but I know that there’s some work that needs to be done.

I’m still pretty well on schedule for where I wanted to be at this time.  I’m hopeful that when Austin gets back from vacation we can plow through the rest of the edits, and then I can use my (fancy new) printer to fire off a printed copy to mark up with a pen.

I was hoping I could do that on the plane on the way to my vacation at the end of the month, but I don’t think that’ll work out with the timing.  Perhaps I’m wrong, but time will tell.