Evelyn Chartres Author

A Portrait’s Vanity

I got a few copies of The Portrait in the mail from CreateSpace the other day, but could not inspect the package due to a business trip. This is the first time since my arrival that I’ve been able to get a good look at them and I believe they came out well!

As previously mentioned, this edition is in black and white which significantly reduced the prices. The images turned out well and are clear, additionally the four pages that were flagged as having unusual characters came out as they did in the preview… flawless. So yes, I am rather happy how they turned out!

The Portrait in Print

Its been a good week for the Portait! A work which was released a little over a year ago.

On Smashwords the novel broke two-hundred (200) downloads, a definitive sign that even after a year listed the novel still generates some interest. In itself this is impressive, given that I spend very little time trying to advertise the work.

Views over the last 30 days for The Portrait on Smashwords.

Download activity over the last 30 days for The Portrait on Smashwords.

In other news, with the help of Moran Media the design got a makeover and its design was accepted by CreateSpace. Hence the Portrait is now available in print!

Unlike the Portrait of a Woman, this version is available in black and white. This change radically drops the book’s price; previous versions sold for close to 30$ USD whereas this one sells for under 7$ USD.

Additional distribution centres were not selected, since that would increase the base price of the book. I suppose if there were ever a demand to open up those channels I may consider it. Until then, better to make it affordable!

A Glimpse of the Portrait in Print

It has been roughly a year since the Portrait was released as an eBook. One of my side projects was to push this novel through CreateSpace in order to create print variant.

With the help of Nutty Nuchtchas I was able to get the cover sorted out. The cover image was tweaked using a higher quality source and a skilled hand was involved for its final inception. It is always a good idea to let a professional handle the finishing touches.

I look forward to seeing the end result!

Spiral Development for the Literary World

I have a background in Computer Sciences and over the years worked on Open Source and corporate projects. Unsurprisingly, when I began writing the Portrait, I fell back on the tricks of the trade to refine my work.

Primarily I use the Spiral development model. As an author, I found this process allowed me to produce working drafts and revise content as necessary.  Over several iterations, the manuscript was refined. Additionally, I threw in measurements, metrics used to track trends and measure success.

Unfortunately, I never kept metrics for the the Portrait, so no meaningful data was collected. However, my work on the Grand permitted me to determine which suited my needs.

For now, Changes per Chapter and in turn Changes per Revision seemed like ideal metrics to use. I plan an in-depth discussion on the various metrics employed in a later post.

Changes per Revision for the Grand Project

Delta between revisions for the Grand Project

Armed with a development method and metrics, I was able to repeat the same steps over and over until the manuscripts were ready for release.

The process is composed of roughly four steps as follows:

Working Version

Take your draft or latest manuscript and prepare it for use as a working copy. The finished product may be used in the Beta or Revise and Implement phases later on. This format should permit you to view your work as though it were a tangible product.

You will want to avoid viewing your manuscript in content creation mode. So reviewing your manuscript on Microsoft Word or Scrivener may not be ideal.

I use Calibre to convert my manuscript into an eBook. Since, I primarily read eBooks today, changing into a reader mode with that format is simple.

The Great Pause

After my working copy is complete, I set the project aside and tackle something new.  It could be anything from reading a novel to painting the house.

The goal of this phase is to take your mind off the project. Doing something else helps you re-energize and leaves your mind open to new ideas. I prefer to take longer pauses during the initial revisions, since they take much longer to complete.

A good pause should also enable you to approach your work with fresh eyes. Hence your brain will not fill in the blanks and prevent you from being objective when reviewing the manuscript.

A good example of this was taken from an article on how the brain interprets words. Note how this paragraph can be read despite the atrocious selling.

Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.

I also found that my mind remembers what I meant to say and fills in the blanks or corrects as necessary. Adding a pause between reviewing cycles seems to prevent this.

Beta Reading

This step can be done concurrently with the pause. Since you have a working copy it can be distributed to solicit input and opinions.

This process can employ services like Wattpad which allows you display works in progress. Be aware that people will not likely check every revision you make, so it pays to engage beta readers when nearly ready to publishing.

Revise and Implement

During this step you revise chapters, tweak them or make corrections. This process is often referred to as redlining and was traditionally done using pen and paper. The term also evokes the images of earlier editions left dripping in red ink.

I use a Kindle Keyboard which permits me to insert comments. I use these comments to note a red line and transcribe them later. Early revisions tend to generate a lot of corrections, so you may wish to transcribe the changes every so often.

View of a review process on a Kindle Keyboard

Early revisions for the Grand contained a lot of edits. As revisions progressed I ended up with fewer and smaller corrections. Eventually I was looking for things missed in previous cycles, such as elusive typos.

This stage also permits you to adjust chapters, including their order. You may opt to add, rewrite or remove chapters. Just like you would add, fix or remove features in software project.

Repeat

Start the process all over again. Create a new version of the manuscript, take a break, revise and implement. With every revision look at your metrics to measure success.

Towards the end you will know when it’s ready. For me, that stage occured once I could complete a revision within a day with no more than ten  (10) corrections for the manuscript.

Revisions may also have different goals. The first few may aim to make it readable. While later revisions concentrate on trimming the fat or finding those elusive typos. Make sure to stay focused and track your progress, otherwise you will end up with an infinite loop.

Notes on Collaboration or Editors

This process can be easily adapted to collaborative writing or include editors. In such situations, the pause would likely be occupied by others completing their review process.

The process is malleable and can suit the needs of the author. Adapt as necessary so the process works for you, not against you. Just remember to establish ways of tracking your advancements.

A Belated Time to Celebrate

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I was making sure that all of my storefront links to the Portrait were valid, when I noticed that my novel had reached 150 downloads on Smashwords.  Well it is 151 because I was rather late in noticing the milestone.

My decision to target Smashwords seems to have been a good one.  Here are some reasons why:

  • Smashwords has enabled me to target other sites such as Kobo, Indigo, Scribd and Barnes and Nobel without creating individual accounts.
  • Smashwords has a user community of its own and have left more comments than any other.
  • Smashwords has not buried my book under tons of new material.  I still get views, even if the downloads have waned. I have to be realistic, pushing people to view and download a book can be a full-time job all by itself!
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Last 30 Days of Statistics for the Portrait Page Views

Smashwords-Chart-Downloads-Portrait-Aug-16

Last 30 Days of Statistics for the Portrait Downloads

While this is an achievement (albeit a minor one), I did not feel it was worth the effort or calorie intake to make a full-sized frosted cake.  I will save that type of indulgence for later!