Self Publishing

Not much to report, sadly

I’ve been chugging away at editing, as time permits. Well, I guess it’s more as my brain permits. I don’t know why it’s so hard for me to just get this book done. Maybe I don’t believe in it as much as I need to. Maybe I don’t think people like it (the amount of people who started reading it is far more than the people who finished reading it.)

Maybe it’s a million different things. I don’t know. But, I keep pushing myself, a little bit at a time. Edit this, tweak that, push this over there, don’t make him say that, make her more independent, etc.

On the upside, my boss sent me what she refers to as the “tie fighter” keyboard. It’s designed in a very unusual way that’s supposed to be very ergonomically friendly but takes some time to get used to. I’ve had it almost two weeks and while I can type fine on it, for the most part, moving my hands to hit things like a function key, or number key, get tricky. Then I have to look in the mirrors. Oh, yes, there’s mirrors on it.

It’ll make more sense if you see it, so here:

The idea, according to its makes, is that you’re not rotating your shoulders to put your hands on the keyboard, which is better for your hands, nerves, neck, arms, and shoulders.

I do feel it helps with my hand. It hasn’t fully solved the issues, but it’s alleviated some of my pain, which is nice. I can type fine for a whole day without my hand really hurting, which is a nice change. The keys press a little deeper than I’d like, so that’s taking some getting used to, and the Command key is in the wrong space (because it’s a Windows keyboard, really).

Having the ability to type without pain is nice. It’s allowed me to — on the days where my brain feels like it — edit the final draft and add things to it without worrying about my hand hurting too much. If I could only get over the mental hurdle, finish it and move on, I’d be so happy.

As for the artwork, I started a contest on 99Designs to get cover art done. The gentleman who did the artwork for A Sour Chord is unavailable and I’ve been unsuccessful in finding someone online to do it, so I resorted to 99Designs, which is a website where you write up what you want and designers compete to win. They submit a bunch of entries, and you pick the winner.

Unfortunately, I had to cancel the contest because I didn’t feel like any of them really got the purpose of the book and were just too far off from what I was expecting. Which is weird, because I don’t know what I really want for the artwork. I feel like it’s just one of those things I’ll just know when I see it.

That’s it for this update. If you want to contribute and be helpful, poke me about editing. If I seem bored or uninterested, just say “how’s editing coming?” and shame me into finishing this thing.

Having Trouble Finding Motivation

It’s not writer’s block. For the purposes of the final draft, I’m “done” writing. It’s all about editing. It’s all about taking feedback from everyone who took the time to read the various drafts of the book (some of you multiple times) and making sense of it, and making the story make sense with it.

So why am I having a hard time motivating myself to do it? To finish it? To publish it?

Every day I have a recurring task in my to-do app, simply titled “Edit,” in the My Last Days project. And every day, I check it off and move on with my life. I tell myself things like “I’ll do it tomorrow”, or “there’s no sense in editing it, you don’t have an artist lined up to do the artwork” (don’t get me started on what a pain it’s been to find someone for that.

Is it because my hand hurts so much and typing is painful sometimes? Maybe. Is that an excuse? Possibly. (On a related note, I’ll be seeing the interim head of Orthopedics at Mass General in April about my hand, in hopes they can help more than the guy who cut me open two and a half years ago did).

I started reading James Clear’s “Atomic Habits” last week on the recommendation of my boss. It’s supposed to help you become a better person by making tiny changes in your habits. I’m hoping it’ll help me work through whatever it is that’s blocking me from finishing My Last Days.

And since I have so many ideas on the book I want to write after I finish My Last Days, I really want to get it done. I also want my hand to not hurt so much while typing, which is the reason I haven’t started writing the next book. If you recall, I wrote the entirety of the first draft of My Last Days while editing A Sour Chord all those years ago.

Thinking back on that, it seems like forever ago.

 

An Editing Update

It’s been a long road, there’s no denying that. I wrote the first draft of My Last Days back in 2015, while working on editing A Sour Chord. That seems like forever ago. Literally forever.

After some ups and downs with it, both caused by myself and by others, I’m finally chugging along full steam ahead to get it done.

A huge thank you to everyone who beta read any of the drafts over the years and offered completely honest feedback. I didn’t really learn anything I didn’t know about the “final” draft.

With that said, it’s back to editing to finally finish this project up, get it published and move onto the next one.

Of all of my test readers, one thing’s clear: my original ending was the right way to go. My editor didn’t like it, so I rewrote it completely before a lot of test readers read it. It never sat right with me, because it wasn’t how I truly wanted to end the story.

But, every single test reader suggested — without any prompt or hints from me about the original ending — a similar ending to what I’d originally wrote. Thankfully, my writing app kept a history of those chapters, so I’ve resurrected them already. I have to expand on it some more to really wrap it up, but the ending is close.

Then there’s a bunch of other things in there, throughout, that need tweaking and expanding on.

It’s happening though. I don’t have a goal of when I want to finish it by, but sometime in the next few months.

If you helped out and gave me honest feedback about things, thank you. I appreciate the effort some of you put into giving feedback and appreciate that you volunteered your time to help me out.

Copies sent to test readers!

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.

20 Chapters to go!

I’m so happy to report that editing of My Last Days is happening super quickly lately. Each night I sit down and edit, I churn through 6 to 8 chapters.

The book, you see, is broken down into sections, months, really. Since we’re living the story of Andy’s life (that’s his name, in case you missed it), we follow him through-out the months.

Each month is broken down into a handful of chapters – some as little as 4 or 5, some as many as 10.

It’s a unique approach to telling the story to help you understand what time of year it is, how much time has passed, etc., without you having to guess.

As of last night, I have just the last three months left to edit, each of which has about 6 or 7 chapters.

I think I’ll be done with editing the final draft by the end of September, then ask some kind souls to give it a read and let me know what they think. While I like the story I’ve written (especially some parts), I’m not sure I love it. At least not just yet.

If you’re interested in reading it and giving me your feedback, get in touch with me on Twitter at @jandreauwrites!

“Final” Draft Editing of My Last Days

According to my last update, it’s been almost 3 years since I did anything with My Last Days.

Three years. 

My word.

I knew some time had passed, as I blissfully ignored the book, the draft, the edits, everything. In fairness, time goes by much faster as you get older. Also, my daughter’s almost a year old now, so for the last year I’ve had an excuse of being a busy new dad.

What about the other two years? I don’t know. I think I felt defeated with the last draft and just needed to step away from it for a bit, so I did. That “bit” turned into longer than I’d hoped, though.

But, as of Monday – when I’m on a short 3 week vacation – I’m going to get back to it. I’ve bought a brand new notebook for edits, loaded the latest version of the book to my Kindle to re-read through it all and I’ll make notes as I go.

Then, I’ll hit the “final” draft, edit the hell out of it, and hopefully get some feedback from folks who hadn’t previously read one of the drafts to see what they think.

If all goes according to plan, I’ll publish sometime early in 2019. And that’ll be that.

Then, maybe, I’ll move on to another book. Or maybe I already have. Maybe I’ve been writing for the last year about being a dad and what fun, great and horrible things that’s brought into my life.

If you’re still following along here, thanks. If you’re new here, welcome. If you’re anxiously waiting for me to finish this book so you can read it, I’m sorry.

Editing continues!

I feel like editing is the bane of my existence. No matter how much I edit, there’s always more to edit.

I’m about a quarter of the way through the fourth draft’s edits, which so far have been minor, but it still needs to be done.

It’s been going a lot slower than I want it to, but it’s been a busy month and my other hobbies are taking precedence over this, but I’ll get there. I’m taking a week off at the end of the month to celebrate my birthday, as I do every year, so I’ll get a good chunk of it done then.

Once that’s done, off to the editor it goes, and then we take it from there.

Fingers crossed that early next year, we’ll have a second finished book for you to buy, read and (hopefully) love!

It’s Official, I did it!

The culmination of a total of 440 days of work has finally come to an end.  The write, edit, and publish journey has come to an end.  What started way back on March 5th of 2013 has finally come to a close as of this morning.

I’m fully published on Amazon, iBooks and Barnes & Noble as of this morning.  You can find the links to those specific providers on the A Sour Chord page.

What took so long? I’m glad you asked.

The first draft took me 17 days (looking back at my daily word counts is sort of astounding. I wrote just shy of 80,000 words in just over two weeks). I wrote another thousand words after reading the first draft over a few times, then handed it off to my buddy Austin for a first pass edit.

That process took close to three months to complete, at which point I hired Lauren to do my real edit.  That took way longer than both of us anticipated, and we didn’t get that complete until mid-February.

At that point, I contracted Scott Pond to do the artwork for the cover artwork.  After a few rounds of back and forth and a handful of iterations, we had the final artwork done last week.

Then the process of compiling the eBook, formatting to the specific publisher’s specifications and getting it through their review process took exactly a week (I submitted it to all 3 of the publishing platforms last Monday morning). And here we are, 440 days later.

I told my first copy last night through Barnes & Noble, and I’ve never in my life been more proud to make a $2.65 commission.

If you buy a copy — even if you hate it — please review a review on whatever service you bought from.  That’d be appreciated immensely!

Phase one is now over.  Phase two is marketing, selling, and re-marketing.  And then I’ll get back to My Last Days and go through this whole thing again.  Once I get some sleep.  Thanks for coming along on this journey with me, dear reader.  Without you this wouldn’t be worth it.

Progress Update: A Sour Chord

After what felt like forever of no progress, things are finally moving in the right direction with A Sour Chord.

I got artwork back from the graphic designer who implemented all of the changes I requested and it looked amazing.  To make sure I was really in love with it, I compiled the book into Kindle and iPad format with the artwork and put it on all of my devices.  I then stared at it for a good three or four hours to make sure it really said what I want it to say.

Turns out, it didn’t.  The concept was the same, but we’re changing a bit of the minor details and should have it finalized by this weekend.  Which means I’m one step closer to publishing.

Since I’m getting so close to publishing, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to two important pieces:

  1. The price point.  I’ve read almost every suggestion on the internet about how much you should charge for a self-published first time novel, and there’s really no right or wrong answer.  I think that’ll come to me in the spur of the moment and I’ll just pick something, wait a couple of weeks and see how it goes.
  2. The description of the book.  All three of the systems I’ll be selling through (Amazon, iBooks, and Barnes & Noble) allow you to provide a description of the book to help people know what it’s about.  Writing that — without spoiling the book itself — is proving challenging.  I’ve written four or five so far and will gather feedback from those that have read the book before picking one.

It’s really interested to me to learn that the hardest part of this whole book writing process isn’t writing the book itself.  The book just flew out of me, word after wild word, flowing from my fingers faster than my brain could process what I was writing.  The first draft was finished in roughly four weeks back in April of 2013.

Ever since then, I’ve been working on the harder parts; the editing, the artwork, the setup of the online services.  I had no idea that so much went into this process, but I’m glad I’m learning.  If this goes well and I go back to working on the second book, I’ll be a lot more educated on how this all works.

I’m hopeful that this’ll all tie together in the end and I’ll have something to show for all of my hard work (and money spent) in the next month or so! I hope you’ve enjoyed this journey as much as I have!

What I Listen to When I Write

There’s been some discussion over what the “best” music is to listen to when you write — or if you should listen to music at all.

I don’t have the right answer as to whether or not you should listen to music, I can only say that I do.  Though I find myself listening to things that I can completely ignore, but still enjoy.

Most commonly, I listen to movie scores. Not soundtracks, as those can be distracting — I mean, how many more times can I burst into song and sing along with “Let It Go” again? — but instrumental scores from film.  I’ve got an iTunes playlist that comprises of a number of scores from some of my favorite movies.  The Braveheart score is one of the top played, along with Inception.

The melodies inspire creativity in my feeble attempts at creating something that people will enjoy, while not distracting me from the task at hand.  I’ve found that if I’m listening to something with lyrics — regardless of what those lyrics are — I get distracted.  My brain can’t ignore the lyrics and I find myself singing along, not getting anything done as I should be.

What’s right for you to write with is up to you, when the cards fall. There’s no right or wrong thing. Whatever inspires you, whatever helps you be creative, and whatever makes your brain fire on the right cylinders — that’s what’s right for you.

The independent writing community is amazing.

Over the last week, I’ve spent a good amount of time being social.  Not in real life, but on Twitter.  During the week, I’ve learned one very important thing: the independent writing community is fully of amazing, wonderful, and supportive people.

No one’s judging you for wanting to write a book. No one’s trying to pressure you into doing what they did and had luck with. Everyone’s just supportive of one another — offering advice, friendship, asking questions.  It’s been a great experience.  I’m extremely happy with the folks I’ve met through Twitter in the last week. If you’re following me there, thanks!

As for the book – I think I’m done.  I ran through all of Lauren’s edits and finished a week ago.  I then spent hours reading the book as it was, with all of the edits and re-writes and changes, to make sure that I still liked it.  That when I get to the end, I still felt the same way that I felt when I read it the first time.

Since I’m not ready to publish it yet, I’m going to read it once more. I think there’s still a little bit of work that I can do in the early chapters to set the scene a little more appropriately.  I’m still at the mercy of the designer that’s working on the cover art, so I’ve got time before he’ll be ready. (I’m lookin’ at you, Scott!)

All in all, it’s been a pretty inspired week.  Seeing the “final” pages on my iPad and being able to flip through them has been pretty great.  It’s no secret that I was really losing interest in this quest back towards the end of last year when everything sort of came to a screeching halt, but I can honestly say that I’m reinvigorated now by everything that’s happened.

I don’t care if I don’t make any money selling the book — hell, I may even give it away for a while, at first — I just want people to read it.  Though, to be honest, I’m terrified that I’m going to lose my mind at the first negative review I see on Amazon.  I suppose I’ll have to mentally prepare myself for that moment.

The progress continues and I’m inching closer and closer to having this thing be done and on digital shelves through Amazon, iTunes and Barnes & Noble soon.

Total days elapsed since I started writing: 353.

Victory! Editing is done!

Victory!
Victory!

That’s how I feel right now. Victorious. As of approximately 2 hours ago, I’m completely done with all of the editing that came back on the 3rd.

I have to say, the entire editing process was extremely daunting.  I had no idea when I started this thing that it’d be such a chore to read through redline edits and re-incorporate them into my story.  But here we are, approximately 49 weeks after I wrote the first words on March 5th of last year — done.

Well, not fully done.  Done editing.  I have seven chapters that I’m going to rework and add to over the weekend.  Not major edits, but sprucing up a few of the bits within the scenes of those chapters.

If you’ve been following along on my blog here, you know what a monumental day this is for me.  Over the last five or six months I’ve felt somewhat defeated, I ever considered not finishing the book.  But I pressed through, showed patience, and continued to push myself mentally to make sure I finished this thing.

It doesn’t seem like a big deal if you’ve never written a book before, but I can assure you that it’s quite an intense process.  If you’re a ready, I’d suggest thanking your favorite authors — keep buying their books, keep supporting what they love to do.

I thought, a year ago when I started, it’d be so easy to do this.  Just jot some words down on a few pages, click a few buttons, add in some cover art, and call it a day.

If it were that easy, I’d have finished so long ago.

I think, on some level, I actually enjoyed the feedback I got from people about the book — not just my friends and family that read it, but from my editor(s), too.  The hardest bits of constructive criticism to swallow, for me, is trying to figure out why someone doesn’t like one of your characters or plot points.

After spending hours contemplating something so simple — such as the mannerisms of one of your characters — to then have someone tell you that they hate that trait you specifically wrote out in that manner? That’s heartbreaking.  But it’s a good heartbreak. It makes you think of how you could do something better and how you can make that character jump off the page more than he or she already did.

There’s still a long road ahead with this whole thing, but I’m excited to get back on the road.  I don’t anticipate selling millions of copies (heck, I’d be happy selling a hundred). I don’t expect to be on Ellen talking about the book, or have Oprah pick it for book club.  I don’t expect a film to be made. I guess I don’t have any expectations, which means that whatever happens from this point on will have to be viewed in a positive light.

If you’ve been following along here — thanks for coming on this journey with me.  Even though you’ve done nothing but read a blog, it means a lot to me.  Now if I can squeeze a couple of bucks out of you when the book comes out, I’ll be a happy guy.

Stay tuned — we’re almost there!