Disillusionment, depression, the distractions of spring break, and the aforementioned disappointing response to the Kickstarter campaign have altered the timeline/schedule I’d penciled in for the remaining work on Never Let the Right One Go. I can’t allow it to push back so far as to not have the paper books on hand, ready to sell at Phoenix Comicon at the end of May, which means that if I end up being too far behind, it’s only certain aspects of the quality which may suffer. Allow me to explain:
The worst-case scenario has the text of Never Let the Right One Go at only the same level of quality as my other recent books, and not better. I keep trying to extend and expand my workflow, to add as much quality as possible between my first draft and my published product. The flow I’d mapped out for this book added a set of “First Readers” to the “Beta Readers” I’ve worked with in the past, in the hope that, were the book in need of significant re-writes, I might be able to correct the content before moving on to correcting the text. Then I wanted to record and edit the full audio version of both books, as doing so requires me to go over every single word at least 2-3 times (and sometimes several times as many), which is a great way to find almost every little error in the text (along with any remaining awkward sentences or clunky dialog) – this is a step I’ve been intending to do with all of my books since early 2010 (some I’ve managed, some I haven’t), but it’s also a step which takes several weeks of work. My intention for Never Let the Right One Go was to finish that step before sending the books to my Beta Readers for final feedback and proofreading; many eyes looking at text they’ve never read before find errors my eyes (having read the books quite a few times by this point) easily miss. I’ve since decided that, to get as many early reviews as possible, and since I won’t be sending any of the limited-edition hardcovers for free to reviewers, I’ll send the Beta (read: ARC) eBooks to reviewers at the same time, and ask all my First Readers and Beta Readers to post a review on Amazon and/or Goodreads as well.
On my initial calendar (filled in after finishing the first draft) I’d laid everything out so, all things going well, I could send the Beta version out by the end of March, in the hope of getting at least some feedback before the end of April – which is my hard deadline for sending the books to LSI for printing, if I want to be sure I can have them in time for Comicon. Then I kept wanting to give my First Readers more time (I had most of the feedback I would end up getting within the first week, but have still only heard from about a third of them six weeks later) and didn’t plan to start on recording the audiobook until last Monday… which I forgot (in my multi-month planning) was my wife’s spring break (she’s a teacher), and I only got a few hours of work done (I prefer to spend time with my wife, when possible; imagine that!) all week. This pushes everything back a week. If I record very aggressively, and spend a heckuva lot of time editing, I could theoretically finish “on time” to get the Beta version out by the end of the month. I’ve actually been telling most people “first week of April” for the Beta version lately, but even that would be a challenge for my voice (and ears, and mind) holding out for the next couple of weeks. I’ll try, for sure, but something’s got to give.
Either the Beta version is going out later than I’d hoped, reducing the amount of helpful feedback I can get before publication, or the Beta version is going out before I can finish recording and editing the audio version, potentially increasing the number of errors in the text I send to reviewers (and the number the Beta Readers would need to locate). I should still be able to finish my own passes over the text before publication, certainly, and the audiobooks with them, before reaching my hard deadline, so that makes the books about as good as I can make them. Where quality suffers by this compression of the schedule is in potentially getting less feedback from Beta Readers. In potentially getting worse reviews for having errors in the text, errors which may or may not be found before publication.
Oh, and then there’s the other goal I’d set, which might find itself incomplete before Comicon: Writing & publishing my book about my experiences writing and publishing. I’ve already put a fair amount of work into it, not just over the years but over the last few months, and now it’s largely a matter of writing from my “outline” the remaining 40k-50k words I haven’t written, yet. (No content editing needed for a book like this, it’s my honest life experience – likely no real Beta Reading, either, though since it’s digital-only the deadline is much closer to the end of May, to promote it at Comicon, so there may be time.) I might be able to do it as quickly as I finished Never Let the Right One Go, after I finish the audio recording of the next couple of weeks, and if I’m able to stay focused. There’s time while I wait for Beta feedback to get it written. In theory. To get it written, and coded for basic eReaders, and “enhanced” for iBooks, and maybe even time to figure out how to market an eBook in person at a con.
All in all, still enough time to get everything done, and done well enough – just not, perhaps, enough time to reach perfection. Hopefully enough time to straighten out the covers situation. Still only halfway there. I’d better email the other photographer again today. If I don’t hear back from him by the end of March, I’ll be assuming I need to use a different image for Sophia. Trying not to stress out about it. I’ll maybe put together a first alternate to show you, soon. To show me, to convince me all isn’t lost, that other photos would work. I guess I’ve got a month to convince me.