So one of the things I’m endeavoring to do is to keep this whole thing transparent. Largely for three reasons:
- So I can learn from my mistakes
- So you can learn from my mistakes
- Because it’s entertaining
Today I’m going to look at the Product part. The quality report on Wild Nines itself. As in, how did the produced text turn out, where were mistakes made, what could be better in the future, etc. Next post, I’ll talk about what I did and didn’t do from a promotion angle – in other words, regardless of whether Wild Nines was any good, what did I do to get the word out?
The Text Itself
From a post-launch perspective, the number of reviews has been underwhelming – in fact, as I type this, there are precisely zero reviews for the book. That’s arguably more a fault on the promo side, but as it stands, it’s hard to find truly objective criticism at this point. Nonetheless, there are a few things I can point out here.
Typos are minimal, and are easy to correct, but weren’t always that way
Going typo hunting is a little like running into the rainforest and trying to find a specific plant, chopping it apart every time you find it. At first, maybe they’re plentiful. As you go on with your editing and cleaning up, they become harder to find. Soon you’re deep into the jungle, sweaty, desperate and considering cannibalism just to find that one misplaced comma. While I’ve had very few comments about a confused word, it definitely took time to get to this point. And there’s doubtless things I missed.
Still, the advantages of both the ebook and print formats is that you don’t have to pay Amazon a dime to make the change. People who have downloaded your ebook get the new version – and with Kindle’s matchbook option, the ebook version is free for anyone with a paperback copy.
Keeping formatting consistent between ebook and paperback is difficult and not always correct
Drop caps are my best example for this. Some e-readers just don’t display them. Or the fonts are different. Also, given the variance in page sizes, the paperback may have widows and orphans (ends of sentences left hanging on a page by themselves) that the ebook version doesn’t have. In a magazine, it’s easier to adjust a word or two of an article to get it to line up right with the page size. Not so in a novel. Tweaking one word on page 23 could screw up page 200, and you’re in for a test of your sanity to get paragraph perfection throughout. I’d say Wild Nines was moderately successful in this area. There are definitely some formatting discrepancies between the ebook and print versions, but the core contact is identical.
Wild Nines is my first published novel. It’s actually about the third novel I’ve written, and I’ve also put together three feature-length screenplays. So it’s not my first foray into the world of longer plots and complicated characters. One thing that I’ll take a closer look at in future works will be the usage of multiple characters. Wild Nines has a lot of POV characters, though the majority of the book is told from three perspectives. That makes it tricky to juggle voice, as you don’t want every narrator to sound the same inside their heads.
The plot of Wild Nines as a whole, despite being outlined, changed significantly with the rest of the trilogy. I do think the outline made for a stronger story in the end, but I didn’t use an exacting set of rules. More like a pirate’s map with a lot of blank space between the start and the X. Keeping that flexibility made rewrites easier and the eventual published story stronger as characters made their impressions on the trilogy as a whole.
The Cover, Blurb, and Other Elements
The actual text is only part of what you’d call a book. I’m putting brief notes about these here because it’s worth considering their impact as part of the ‘product’. For the promotions part, I’m looking more at ads, social media, and blogs like this one.
I like the cover for Wild Nines, especially how it brands with the rest of the trilogy. However, there are some definite drawbacks. First and foremost, as a space opera story, Wild Nines is lacking a ship on the cover. There’s a moon visible, and stars in the back, but those can be difficult to see on the thumbnail images. The idea is that the bright circle of flames and action-esque font conveys a sci fi story, but that’s a tough call. Still, I think the final verdict will come through when books two and three are released and their shared covers make the series truly branded.
Boy, have I rewritten this one so many times. Sales copy is a difficult beast, quick and cutting, hard to get a handle on. There’s so many ways to write this stuff and so many options for things like how many plot details to include, how long the description should be, etc. Eventually I spent a long time reading other blurbs and mixing and matching various pieces. The key metric for success will actually be how many people click on an ad to the book and then, after reading the description, choose to buy it. Fingers crossed, but definitely a work in progress.
Because this post is getting long, what I want to note here is that Wild Nines didn’t launch with a paperback version (that came three days later), and doesn’t have an audio version. While neither one of those might generate tons of sales, they do add that touch of professionalism. I think it’s important to put together a print version even if the number of sales it brings is slight. People, namely family and friends, will want one. And it suggests to random readers that you’re giving this a real shot.
Audio is going to be a longer-term project. Narration isn’t something to take lightly – it’s very expensive to hire out, and very time-consuming to do yourself. We’ll see there.
Dark Ice, though, is definitely launching with both a paperback and an ebook version at the same time. We’ll see what difference that makes!