The Next Step


Hey, remember that other book I wrote? You know, that untitled one? Yeah. I should really work on that too, right?

I realized yesterday that in all my work with Spirit Hackers, I haven’t talked about my Robert book. There is good reason for that: nothing has been going on at all with it. A matter of fact, my last entry talking about it was on April 7th, where I talked about how I sent the book to some beta readers and I was waiting for the feedback. Unfortunately that seemed to not go according to plan. I had three beta readers set up and I received the following feedback: one reader gave me my Word file back with great suggestions, corrections and comments. The second felt uncomfortable (for reasons I won’t say here) and I only got a small sample (one page) with suggestions / corrections. The third read it but didn’t give feedback, but his girlfriend did. That feedback consisted of four sentences referring to an item or two within the book. Now I know the book is almost 60k long, but I didn’t expect things to go this bad.

Now before you comment on it, I know the Absolute Write forums has a beta area but I don’t want to venture there just yet. I need to really see what is going on with the Robert book and more importantly decide what I want to do with it. In my heart of hearts, I am unsure if the book is really that good and if it even has a chance. I look at my idea for Spirit Hackers and the work I’ve put into it and I feel much more optimistic with that WIP rather than the untitled story.

So where does this leave me? Perhaps the book is destined to be a ‘trunk novel’ and just live on my harddrive. I’ve considered putting it up for POD or perhaps podcasting it as a podiobook, but I’m not sure. I could always submit it out for agents or publishers but again I’m not sure if it’s strong enough. Right now, my plan is to go through another round of editing using the main beta feedback I got as a guide. I’m hoping to fatten it up a little and also get the story to flow better. One key scene my wife read needs a big overhaul.

It’s weird to have a book that I wrote that I don’t have such faith in anymore. Is it wrong for me to discount it? Should I just push on and send it out to agents? It’s difficult to say for sure. What I do know is that no matter what, I’ve written a novel and that puts me ahead of the curve as most people out there who think they should do it, never do. I will always have the satisfaction in knowing I did get to accomplish that goal.

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  1. Maybe you’re right. Maybe that book was meant as a “practice” run, to get your feet wet. Or maybe it’s meant to live somewhere out of the spotlight for awhile, and after you’ve established yourself as a writer, it’ll make its way back… for revisions and a new look and another chance. Who knows?

    I say, for now, sit on it a bit longer. If you’re unsure then don’t rush any which way. I’ve felt just like that before (recently, even) and you have to wait until that pressing surety before making a decision. Good luck, bub!

    • Aaron
    • October 6th, 2008

    Thanks for the insight Janna. I’m inclined to let it sit and perhaps come back to it when the time is right. A part of me feels obligated to it, but I also don’t want to work on something that will have no outcome.

  2. I hope I’m not rubbing off on you after all my negative talk of ditching my memoir (for the time being). What does your gut tell you? Do you think Spirit Hackers is the better story? You say you’re wondering if you should just push it out there, but you don’t sound very enthused, which never bodes well when trying to sell yourself. There’s nothing wrong with setting it aside for 3 months or two years.

    • Aaron
    • October 6th, 2008

    Not rubbing off on me at all! hehe. It’s just something that I’m trying to figure out what to do with. I agree the lack of enthusiasm doesn’t help. Shelving it isn’t a bad thing, just something I need to make a decision to do. I can always come back to it.

  3. I don’t think it’s wrong to loose interest in a project at all. I mean, if you’ve finished it and done some consideration on how to fix it, that means you’ve done some evaluating. You aren’t ditching it because it’s too hard.

    I find that if a project is worthwhile, it will come back to you, maybe a long time after you stopped working on it. This always happens with me. I’ve had stories that I worked on, and dropped, and picked up, and completely abandoned; and then they still come back. There’s something about finishing that gets me. If it’s not finished, I’ll know it inside, whether I know what to do about that or not.

    I’d put it aside for a while. If it’s finished, it will stay there, and if it’s not, you’ll bring it out again when you’re ready to.

    -C.A.

  4. Hi Aaron,

    Getting good feedback from beta readers is often a problem. Most people make fine critics, but lousy editors.

    If you want to “publish” the story, I’d strongly suggest having it edited first. Sounds like you would already do that, but I occasionally see people pull out their “throw-away” book and publish it (POD, podiobook, ebook, etc.) AS-IS. That’s a mistake, IMHO. If it’s worth sharing en masse, it’s worth putting in the time to edit it.

    Good luck!

    • Aaron
    • October 7th, 2008

    A- I think your advise is great and it definitely is something I’m thinking about. Thanks for the input!

    Evo- It’s quite a pleasant surprise to have you comment here! I hear about you all the time from Mur @ I Should Be Writing. Thanks for stopping by and I hope you stick around here at Copious Notes.

    Thank you for your input. I didn’t think the whole beta thing was going to be difficult. Just another lesson I learned. For the book I did two rounds of editing and then sent it to my betas. I agree that if it’s to be shared, it should be the best version possible, even if it’s POD, podiobook, etc.

    • ac
    • October 7th, 2008

    Whether it’s a trunk novel or not, I can’t say. However, I notice your approach to writing Spirit Hackers is vastly different than the Robert book. Sure, your ethusiasm for SH is noticable, but I think it goes beyond that. It seems to me that you learned many lessons from Robert. Mainly, researching and taking your time with the process.

    I remember when you first started with blog. The “about me” section mentioned writing, editing, and publishing a book within a year. It is quite possible that you rushed through Robert and the end result showed that.

    Unlike other writers, I don’t think every story should be told, published, or self-published. However, the decision to go the POD route is a personal decision. Here’s my two cents on the matter.

    Knowing what I know about you (for those of you who are unawere, Aaron and I met at a local writing group) I don’t feel you will be satisfied with just a book in hand. Sales will be low. I don’t say that as a judgment on the material, but as a publisher author. It’s never easy.

    In addition, hiring an editor costs money, marketing costs money. Take into consideration what your name means to you. If you don’t have the resources to self-publish properly, seriously consider trunking the novel.

    • Aaron
    • October 8th, 2008

    Auria- Thanks for such a well-thought out comment! I agree that I’ve been more structured and methodical for SH. When I began the Robert book, I just started writing because I got the urge to sit down and write a book. I didn’t have any ideas. I just wanted to write.

    I agree that just having a book is not satisfying. I want to have a book that I can be proud of. If it can sell decently, that would be nice also.

    I appreciate your input. Thank you!

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