I’ve been working with my good buddy, Austin, lately to have him go through my first draft and do a rough edit.  From what I’ve read online, that means he goes through and reads the whole thing, pointing out typos, grammatical errors, etc.  Of which there are plenty, I’m sure.

He’s also been pointing out things that I haven’t noticed as I wrote: describe this character better, this character said this here and something contradicting here.

We decided, rather than waiting for him to finish the whole thing, that he’d send me a few chapters at a time.  That way I can read his feedback, incorporate what he’s said, and not have the daunting task of doing that all at once.

One thing’s obvious — the editing part of this is going to not only take way longer than I thought it would, but it’s also going to take a lot longer than writing the initial first draft.

I went through the feedback this morning for the first four chapters.  It took me about 3 hours to incorporate the changes into my first draft.  There weren’t that many of them, it was just that going back and forth between his PDF with his notes on it and the editing application I’m using was time consuming.  Looking from one screen to the next and trying to find where the two words line up was taking more time than I thought it would.

So the good news is that we’re progressing with the editing of the book!  The downside is that it’s taking much longer than I anticipated.  With this new schedule and the rewrite I’ll have to do, I’m hoping that I’ll have been able to get the book done by September.  I’m setting an internal goal of having it be for sale before my birthday at the end of September.

My best friend is also reading the book, and I’ll be interested to hear what her feedback is.  So far I know she’s read through the first five chapters, and she said that it started a bit slow but once she got to chapter 3 she wanted to keep reading to find out what’d happen next.  I guess that’s a good sign.

I’m still worried about the whole thing.  It’s nerve-racking not knowing whether or not people will like what you’ve written, or sympathize with your characters or story.  It’s scary that you’ve invested so much time in something, and it may turn out your story is a giant pile of garbage.  I’m hoping that’s not the case, but only time will tell.

If you’ve read the book, I’m hopeful that you’ve enjoyed it. Or if you are reading the book, I hope you like it so far!

While waiting to hear back from my friends with their feedback and comments, I’ve continued to think of ways to improve the story.  Which is kind of backwards, given that I’ve asked someone to edit the first draft.

I’m thinking the characters need to be painted more as pictures.  I tried to do my best to describe them as people, but I’m realizing that it’s likely going to be tough for people to imagine what they look like, based on how they’re written.  Perhaps going back through the scenes where we meet our main characters and doing a better job of describing them would be beneficial.

I also have some notes about the story itself.  While I’m confident that the meat and potatoes (so to speak) are there, I think there’s some tweaking that can be done; dialog enhanced, scenes fleshed out more.

To be honest, I have no idea what I’m doing. I’ve never done this before, I’ve never taken any real writing classes (aside from high school English).  I’m dying to know what other people think about the story, but don’t want to be that guy who’s nagging them all the time.  So I’m trying to be patient and hang in there, waiting for the time to pass and for them to finish reading.

For now, I’ve started outlining the story for my next book.  I suppose I have nothing better to do while I wait, right?

I started reading through the first draft myself last week, and got to the fourth chapter.  I quickly realized that I was too invested in the story to do the actual editing myself.

So today I compiled a PDF of the first draft and sent it to my buddy Austin, who’s got an eye for editing.  He’s going to do the first draft edit for grammar, punctuation and whatnot before I can send it to the story editor.

I’ve also asked him to let me know if there’s anything glaringly wrong with the story or any of the characters.  Hopefully there’ll be some positive feedback there.

I also sent an iPad copy to my very best friend Jennifer.  She read the first chapter a few weeks back, and I asked if she’d mind reading the whole thing and letting me know what she thought.

To be honest, I’m terrified of this whole process. I’ve said it before, and I stand by it.  The process of sharing something so personal with someone, regardless of how well you know them, is terrifying.  Not knowing whether or not people are going to be receptive of what you’ve written, or if it’s not as good as you’d hoped.  Not knowing whether or not your characters are likable or not.  Not knowing whether or not your structure and chapters make sense.  All of it is terrifying, and it’s keeping me up at night.

Like I’ve said, I’m not out to sell millions of copies with this.  If no one buys it, I don’t care. I just wanted to write a book and get it out there.  And so far, I’ve come close to doing that.

I bought the ISBNs today, though they’re not really required for an eBook, it ensures that if I ever get any printed copies of it made, I’m covered with the same ISBN number. Or at least that’s what I read on the website that sells them.

Hopefully in a week or two I’ll have the first round of edits back, along with the feedback of my friends.  From there I’ll likely do some story touching up, maybe revamp some of the characters, tweak the plot points or something. I guess it really all depends on how the feedback comes in from my friends.  When I know more, you’ll know more.

On March 5th of this year, I set out to do something that in my entire life I’ve never been able to accomplish. I set out to write my own book, and with the added advantages of today’s technologies, I can write, publish and sell it digitally without any help of a publisher or book printer. That’s amazing.

The book is a spin off of a story I wrote about 13 or 14 years ago as a short story. I began the process with nothing more than knowing what I wanted to tell for my story, and my computer.

When I first started, I spent a few hours trying to figure out the best software to use that’d be helpful in writing my story. I ended up on Scrivener, an application specifically geared towards authors and writers to help them in a number of ways.  I’m sure I’m only using it to 5% of its intended power, but it’s been infinitely helpful in my writing.  I’ve used it to organized my characters, locations, plot lines, and a number of other things.

I also used it to sketch out my entire story when I first started.  I’d known how I wanted to tell the story, so I used the chapter and scene functionality that’s built in to map out how I planned on telling the story, complete with estimated word counts.

What I found, as I began writing, was that I obliterated most of the estimated word counts that I was setting for myself.  Which was a good sign, but also worrisome at the same time.  According to what I could find, the average “first novel” was between 50,000 and 100,000 words.  Kind of a large variance, right? So I shot a Twitter DM to @scottsigler, who has written some great SciFi books that I’ve read in the past, and he’s offered me some guidance.  He suggested 80,000 is perfect for my first novel.

About halfway through I realized that my target goal was 80,800 words, almost perfectly what Scott suggested.  Though as I wrote, I realized I was writing more than each chapter’s target, and knew I’d go over.

So here I am, 20 days after I set out to write my book — I finished the first draft this past Friday, a mere 17 days after I started writing.  Take out the weekends where I didn’t write anything and I essentially wrote a first draft of my book in about a week and a half.  I don’t know if that’s good, bad, or indifferent, but I did it.

I’m extremely proud of myself so far, but recognize that I’ve got a long way to go before I can sell the book online through any of the various websites that sell eBooks.

The next step, of which I’ve already started, is to re-read it myself.  I want to go back through and make sure that not only is my grammar good (I have at tendency to write with too many commas, and when you’re typing 125+ words per minute, you make mistakes sometimes), but also that the story makes sense.  I know it makes sense on a scene by scene and chapter and by chapter basis, but not as a whole.  Reading through the whole thing like I’m an actual reader of the book should help me identify any spots that feel wrong, or confusing.

My first draft clocks in at 79,754 words, just shy of the 80k mark that Scott suggested.  For just writing for a week and a half, I’d say that’s pretty impressive.

My task list for completing the project is quite intensive, a lot of it wrapped around finishing this here website, designing a cover, and having a professional editor take a crack at it (along with a second rewrite of my own), so I’m by no means hoping to jump the gun.

When all is said and done, I’ll consider my first book a success if I can sell 500 copies.  Since it’s mostly free (except paying for the editor to review it, and for an ISBN), it’s not about the money or breaking even. It’s about doing something that I’ve always wanted to do, but never been able to complete.