A good friend of mine sent me her WIP (Work In Progress). She was initially looking for feedback, then asked if I would read her manuscript all the way through as if I was a reader, not a critique partner.
It took me longer to read the story than it should have. That was, in part because, the book was in a format I don’t ordinarily read, so it was difficult to wade through.
About two-thirds of the way through (a shifter-romance story) I was reading the dialog between the hero and heroine that sparked my imagination to create an alternate universe with two new characters and a verbal battle between them. *To be clear my story looks and reads nothing like my friends.
But, in essence that was it.
One small dialog prompt, and I had a single scene. And through a series of months and revisions, Unexpected Prize was born.
Interestingly, that story underwent a plethora of changes…
The characters for Unexpected Prize evolved as I became acquainted with their personalities. For example, Jarr-o’s father was killed early on in the book in the first two versions.
Garr-n, Jarr-o’s sister, had also changed dramatically. At first she was extraordinarily passive and weak. As the story developed more and more, I realized there was no way she could be a vulnerable character after all that she was put through.
Jarr-o, of course, was the star of that story, so it was difficult for me to upset him, and hurt him as I did. But I did it out of love….he needed to grow as a person.
1. Friends make great support buddies but horrible critique partners.
This is not a slight towards my friends who generously read my work. In fact, it’s the opposite. I value them especially when I get down on myself and my writing. But I have to also take into consideration that they are reading my story for pleasure. So for me to expect they will be able to accurately tell me if my ‘flow’ is off or I should have developed a particular scene better is ludicrous. They don’t have that kind of expertise nor would I expect them to.
2. Paying for a beta reader to go through and give in-depth analysis was worth the money. Tip: Upwork.com
I will be honest; at the beginning of writing Unexpected Prize, I didn’t want to book swap with another author. I didn’t want to wait and hope that they had time in their schedule to give me a valued report. I had learned the valuable lesson that just because someone says they will do something does not mean they will – hence the motivation behind hiring my beta readers. At Upwork.com, I did a call out for beta readers to critique my book. I found two ladies that were awesome and worth the money, and I will be using them again for my next book.
3. Never look for cheep deals through a friend’s friend.
This lesson boils down to a recommendation for a book cover artist that ended up blowing WAY past the due date, and then creating something that I couldn’t work with. I was mad at myself more than the artist (who had a full-time job, family and working on my artwork on the side) and my friend. Also, this lesson turned me on to doing my own research and finding CrocoDesigns that made a brilliant book cover.
4. Social Media Marketing is never going to get easier.
I do all my social media, and it’s hard to think of something witty to say or do to engage my readers. Which is why my Instagram account is mainly character photos of people I find that I plan to add to my series.
5. Indie Authors will forever have a steep learning curve.
Here’s a secret…ready? I have written and published under a different pen name. I was such a newbie author I didn’t know the difference between a content editor and a line editor. I could go on for days listing the things I did wrong, but needless to say, I made mistakes. So many that I needed a new start with a new name and completely rebrand myself.
Not only that, I needed to write better, edit better, and get detailed feedback.
So this time, I made it a priority to research book launches, promotions, and giveaways. To know how important it was to build an author platform, ect.
My research and lesson have paid off. Unexpected Prize it did so well that I’ve been humbled and overwhelmed by the number of sales I’ve received compared to my past works. I’m not saying I’m a millionaire but to put it plainly I sold more books in the first week of my newest book launch than I did in three years with my other two books.