Tag Archives: beta reading

All authors need help

I’ve wanted to bring you guys some folks who provide auxiliary services for a long time. We’ve been able to bring a few of them out of the woodwork, but these are usually folks who shun the limelight. There are any number of people who will take your money, but deliver questionable results if they deliver at all.

We write the stories, but we can’t do it all. We need cover artists, beta readers, editors, formatters and more. One of my goals is to introduce you to folks who can get the job done and done right.

Today, Michele is here to give us an idea of her services and provide all of us with some contact data. Make her feel welcome.

Thanks for having me, Craig.

Let me introduce myself. I’m Michele Jones, and I own a small company, Articulate It Write, dedicated to helping authors with all of their publishing needs. Craig and I have worked on an anthology together, and he has invited me to talk about the services that I provide.

I have been writing, editing, and proofreading for over thirty years. I caught the bug in high school when I worked for the school paper, and I have been writing and helping others with their writing projects since.

Many authors have the ability to create great works but don’t know how to produce a finished product. After the final draft, several edits, many revisions, and beta reader feedback, the work needs to go to an editor who will check it for POV, plot holes, repetitive words, grammar, and flow.

You’ve made your edits, now it’s time to format your work for print and eBook. But you have questions.

• How do I add a header?

• Can I put page numbers on the right and left sides of my page?

• Can I add a table of contents?

• How do I add pictures?

• Can I use the same formatted document for a print book as I use for an eBook?

These are just some of the questions you might be asking. Professional formatters know the answers, and they can help you prepare your document for publication.

Creating a document that your audience can read easily is the key. You don’t know how to adjust kerning and spacing to create a smooth flowing document. You become frustrated because you are wasting valuable time formatting when you could be writing. Using a professional to format your document will allow you to move on with your writing and give you that professional look you desire.

I’m also an indie author, and as such, I am aware of the costs associated with publishing. I work with my clients to produce the best product possible, at a reasonable cost, within the desired time frame.

For information and reviews on my professional experience, view my resume on my LinkedIn profile. My experience in editing and formatting electronic and print media covers, but is not limited to, the following:

• Fiction

• Cookbooks

• Technical documents

• User and training manuals

• Newsletters, brochures, ads, direct mailings, and annual publications

• News releases and media kits

Some of my clients include:

• Individual authors

• Church groups

• Public safety organizations

• City and county governments

• Engineering firms

• Consulting firms

If you’re interested in discussing a writing, editing, or formatting project, please feel free to discuss them with me. You can reach me via the contact form on my site: LINK HERE.

Connect online:

Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest | Instagram| Published Works | Goodreads

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It’s a flex day, not a vacation day

Yeah, really, what’s the diff. I am out of the office until the Second of January now. Technically, today is part of my ending work week, and is my assigned flex day. Beyond that, there is no difference except I don’t have to use vacation hours today.

I want to keep a few projects moving forward, and I want to do some writing of my own too. I refused to hit it too hard, because I wanted some me time in the mix.

I started my day with a beta reading project I took on for some friends. I don’t know how many chapters I worked through, but I’m about 1/3 of the way finished. It’s a fun story so far, and I want to get it finished before I have to report back to the office. I know what it’s like at the other end waiting for the report, so I also don’t want to keep the authors hanging.

I scheduled one blog post for Monday. It’s nothing too fancy, but it’s also out of my hair now too. Then I went over what I have so far for my 2017 wrap up post. I’ll share it sometime prior to the new year. It may need a bit of polish, but it’s pretty close.

Finally, I received what I think is the final version of The Hat from my formatter. I’m waiting for one more email from her, but I have a few weeks before I want to publish it. One of the important things to dedicate my time to will be some blog tour posts. They don’t have to be long, but it would be nice to be ready for a whirlwind tour of the blogging world when I publish it. Gotta say, I’m pretty excited about this one.

On the goofing off front, I binge watched a television show I’ve wanted to see. I deserve some goofing off time on occasion, but I also studied the story line as an author. Our daughter loaded her Netflix account on our television and invited us to try it out. We’re probably old timers, and this is really new to us. Hey, I got my first X-Box for Christmas last year and it’s taken me months to get comfortable with it.

Anyway, about the show. See once upon a time, I had to choose what to watch and there was a conflict. I really wanted to check this one out, but it was either The Flash or Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD that conflicted with it. I watched a couple of seasons of The Flash and gave up on it. I never really connected with the characters even though Flash was one of my favorite comics. SHIELD is still fun and I want to get this posted before it comes on tonight.

The one that got left out is called iZombie. It’s on Netflix and it’s wonderful. I watched about six episodes today, and can’t wait to get back to it. This has more of a superpowers vibe about it than other zombie tales. The premise is a nearly finished medical student with a bright future get’s turned into a zombie. We jump forward and she’s taken a job at the morgue so she has access to a supply of human brains to eat.

Eating the brains gives her a limited view into the person’s life and some of that person’s skills and quirks. One example is that she developed kleptomania for a period of time. She uses her newfound insight to fight crime by passing herself off as a psychic. She helps solve the murders of whoever provided her last meal.

There is also a visible transformation that happened and the producers made sure it was dramatic. The fun part is that Liv, the zombie coroner, is really hot as a zombie. Her style and hair reminds me a bit of one of the Research Sirens I named Wiki. Wiki isn’t nearly albino and has a bit of color in her cheeks and her hair is red, oh and she’s a siren and not a zombie. I’m talking style here, not status.

Episode one includes a great character arc and some nice revelation and acceptance at the end. You can bet I’ll be watching more of this one. Even my wife started paying attention. I laughed out loud at a couple of points, so it’s one of those with drama and comedy mixed in. I love stories that do that.

We’ve also been watching Stranger Things and it’s been a lot of fun too. It was recommended by someone who read Will O’ the Wisp and said my style reminded them of this. Heck, gotta check it out after something like that, right? It’s fun, but I feel Stranger Things is getting kind of tired in season two. It seems kind of repetitive on many fronts now.

Gotta run, SHIELD will be on soon. Probably beta reading and my own writing tomorrow.

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Baby Steps Today

If anyone is wondering where I've been, I've had company this weekend. My parents wanted to see the puppies while they are still puppies. It's kind of hard to argue with that. I love puppies myself. We spent most of our time visiting, and went for a nice dinner last night. My oldest son and his entire family decided to join us, my daughter, and her pseudo-boyfriend, so we had a big group. It's nice when we can all get together. It's kind of strange when you start hearing the term Great Grandma, or Great Grandpa.

Today, I dragged my generators to the garage door and started them up. I aimed the exhaust out into the driveway. My intention was to run them out of gas, but they're still going about six hours later. I put them away two years ago and haven't run them since. Old gas is the enemy of engines, and I expected more problems. We are taking the camper out next weekend, and this time we'll need the generators.

I swept out the garage, and intend to finish if the little buggers ever run out of fuel. Right now my dust pile is next to them, waiting for them to finish. Garage is looking pretty good though.

While waiting, I took my turn at puppy patrol. They're both pretty good, but Nyx sometimes doesn't remember to go to the door for a potty break. So far, so good today.

I also worked through my critiques. We met Tuesday, and I stashed them until my parents went home. Yak Guy is still a hit with the group. I need to figure out how to get all the non-fun parts finished.

I tried to talk my wife into stealing away this afternoon to see Pirates, but she wouldn't have it. I feel like I accomplished some reasonable things today.

Tomorrow is my flex day, so there is a small chance to work on the beta reads I received for The Enhanced League. It all depends on luck, but maybe I can move that project closer to completion.

What did you guys do this weekend? Hope you had a good one.

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Ready for the work week

My last day at the office was Wednesday. I have to go back tomorrow. Admittedly, I took this time off to pay my debt as an author. This might come as a surprise to many of you readers, but it will make sense to the authors out there. I'll try to give the rest of you a glimpse into the secret club today.

I need proofreaders, critique groups, beta readers, blog hosts, and reviews to make my books a success. There isn't a kind of shop where you can go get all of that. Being self published is often a matter of supporting your hobby without going too far into the hole. The big dream is to turn a profit someday.

The truth is you can pay for many of those services, but it gets kind of expensive after a while. This is why we all tend to help each other. At a bare minimum, we are a fresh set of eyes who can spot the difference between hear and here in a manuscript. It's hard to spot these kind of things in your own work. There are also times when we know exactly what we're describing, but readers aren't getting that vision. Different eyes will raise a red flag at these points.

I take advantage of this kind of help, so it's important to provide it in turn. We don't typically share project for project. It's more like a pool of authors who will do what they can – when they can. I rarely get the same people from project to project, but in the long run – they are the same group.

Most of my time off was spent paying my authorly debts. The rest was spent on other duties, just like at the workplace. I'm proud to say I finished my last authorly project at about 1:30 today. Then I hauled off all the fruit tree branches, and declared myself done.

I feel a bit like that guy at the top of the post, but I also feel pretty darned good about it. I got to read some awesome stories, some for a review, some as a beta reader.

The good news is that my metaphorical office is clear. On my next day off I can return to my own novel. I'm kind of excited about it to tell you the truth.

I'll spend the rest of the evening catching up with most of the blogs I neglected to read. After that, it's off to bed early enough to go to my workplace all fresh and ready for work.

One of these days I'll have to take some time off for the sake of time off. It could happen, someday.

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A small chores update

Honestly, I'm starting to wear out on chores. I've been away from the paycheck job since Wednesday at quitting time, and don't have to go back until Tuesday. During that time, I've hit the chore list hard.

I'm not embarrassed to say I didn't get as much accomplished today. I managed to get my critique work done for our meeting on Thursday night. I put it in my truck, because that's my insurance policy against forgetting it when I need it.

What I didn't post about was pruning fruit trees. The sap is up now, so I stopped at about 2/3 to 3/4 of what I want to remove. After the trees adjust, I can trim the rest. They're all in a big pile in the back yard, and my son and I are hauling them to the dump tomorrow. Part of the peach tree must weigh 400 pounds, so I'm glad to have an extra back involved. This stuff takes time too, but it didn't do much to advance my author agenda.

Today, I worked on my beta reading project. I'm about 2/3 of the way finished now. If everything works out well, I may finish and deliver my notes tomorrow. (Maybe)

I also assembled and scheduled Thursday's Lisa Burton Radio. I have two other interviews out there in cyberspace, but it's Sunday night and the first guy finished became the first guy scheduled.

Honestly, I could have hit it hard and finished everything else, but I'm wearing a bit thin. I caught up with recordings of S.H.I.E.L.D., and don't regret it a bit. ABC scheduled this beyond reality for a working man, so I have to record the episodes and watch them later.

My other son and I also stayed up late every night playing Diablo III, and we had a great time. I think my wife is wearing out on us, but she's the one who surprised me with an X-Box. (So there.)

My so called vacation was a lot of work, mixed in with a bit of fun. We even worked two date nights into the mix. The good news is my path is cleared, or will be very soon, and my next day off may let me work on my novel.

Hope all of you had a Happy Easter.

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Ah, Spring…

Ah Spring, the grass is green and we've even cut it once. The birds are singing, my fruit trees are all in bloom with honeybees visiting the blossoms. And the, what the f—?

Must be Idaho. Nice time to burn some vacation leave and enjoy Spring.

Seriously, I took some time off to work on projects. I've been fairly productive so far. I finished reading a book and posted a review. I worked on three different shticks for Lisa Burton Radio and sent all those out. I even managed to start my beta reading project. I seriously believe that if you want the benefit of beta readers, you have to provide the benefit of beta reading to others.

I'm feeling pretty comfortable with my reading at this point, but I also promised another friend an ARC read. I don't have to return to work until Tuesday, so I could get more done than I originally hoped.

Between these projects, I pecked away at my own post for the Rave Reviews Book Club party, and managed to get it scheduled too. I also got my next Story Empire post scheduled. That should buy me a bit of time.

If I get back to my own writing, The Yak Guy Project will be front and center. I want to finish that manuscript so I can park it for a few weeks. During that time, I can do my edits of The Enhanced League. Doubt the raven is waiting to tear my soul apart over that book, and he's been patient this time.

Enhanced League has a cover, and I'm waiting to finish the promotional art so I can take it on tour. That's at least a month down the road, but I'm planning ahead. I need to get it to beta readers before I can tour it around. Beta readers need time to deliver their mark-ups, and you can't rush this part.

After all that, I'll think about a cover for Yak Guy and start the process all over again.

I've been adding the occasional note to my storyboards for two novellas and my next novel. These are mostly organized chaos right now. Plenty of time to polish them up after my books are published.

I may just turn a corner and blog ahead this weekend. I'd like to have a couple of things ready for Chris Graham, I can hold them in case I get one of the books published. When the time gets closer, I can either say something about the new book, or send one of the prewritten pieces. I also have several new ideas for Story Empire that I may rough out.

Tonight, I'm kind of pooped out. If I do anything else, I'll go back to beta reading. That's highest in priority right now.

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Feeling pretty good about today

This will be another one of my rambling productivity posts. I'll try to ask a question or two to get the comments going. Today was only a flex day, but I feel like I had enough productivity to call it a weekend.

I started out by clearing a couple of tasks before bed last night. I also unwrapped a tea pellet to try it after it aired out for a bit. The tea today was awesome, and I skipped coffee entirely. The fishy taste is completely gone.

My main goal was to work on a beta reading project, and I moved that ahead substantially. If you've never done it, it's different than pleasure reading. I'm expected to deliver some comments and suggestions at the end. Because my memory goes everywhere, I started a document right away. I chose to do a chapter by chapter breakdown. This requires a certain amount of going back and forth. Great progress, fun story.

I took a few social media breaks, as one does. After I felt like I accomplished something, I returned to my outline.

I'm pretty excited about this story. I'm forcing myself not to start writing until I finish a couple of things up. The outline is finished enough to start writing now. I went ahead and added some photographs and reminders to the cork board, but it's ready.

I'll start the other one, and keep working on one for a novel as winter winds down. Which brings me to another point. These two stories are intended to be novella length. I've never really dabbled at that length before.

Some of my short stories may have drifted into novella territory, but realistically, they are short stories. Word counts for the various lengths are all over the place, so I made up my own based upon research, averaging, and what feels appropriate. I have novellas down as being 30,000 to 50,000 words.

So why would I want to create such a monstrosity? Sales dropped off after I stopped my autumn promotions. This is fairly predictable: no promo = no sales. The only things that seem to sell right now are the Experimental Notebooks. There could be all kinds of reasons for this, so let's explore a few.

It's possible that 99¢ books are more attractive to readers. Everyone I've talked to says price doesn't matter if they want to read the book, but my 99¢ books are the ones moving. It's also possible that short fiction is appealing. I love the stuff, because I can read one as I find time. I can make a storybook last for months without losing the plot, because the stories end after a few thousand words. In total honesty, it could also be author friends who want to test drive my writing. It happens, so I'll acknowledge it.

Speaking of the Experimental Notebooks, the first one has been parked at 19 reviews for weeks now. That's such an ugly number. Would anyone like to post a review for the first Experimental Notebook and make it look all pretty? It has a Lisa Burton story.

Novellas would combine some of my theories. They are shorter, and can be finished faster. (Reading and writing, now that I think about it.) They can also be 99¢ books. There is a possibility they could be attractive. That's why I'm planning this all out. Let's face it, self publishing gave short stories a new life, why not novellas? What do you guys think?

If it all works out, I'll go back and forth between two novellas for my summer writing projects. In a perfect world, my novel outline would be ready to start in the fall of 2017.

I'm pretty happy today. It wasn't a bunch of things, but it was bigger progress on a couple of things.

This weekend will be dedicated to The Yak Guy and The Enhanced League, but my slate is fairly clean. We're also taking the grandkids to see Sue the T-Rex at the Discovery Center. (Don't kid yourselves, I want to see it too.) Beyond writing, meaning when my brain says stop, I'll get back to my beta reading.

So how about it? What do you think about novellas? Have you ever been a beta reader? Have you seen Sue the T-Rex? Do you use a storyboard for outlining, or shun outlining all together?

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