Evelyn Chartres Author
The Portrait – Page 2

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

Featured_Belated_Time_To_Celebrated

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, iBooks, 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!
Smashwords-Chart-Views-Portrait-Aug-16

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!

An Unexpected Review

I am rather negligent when it comes to looking up my book on sites to see if someone has read the book and left a review. While Smashwords had a strong initial trend of views and downloads, it has since slowed down.

Reviews Full Text – The reader liked the story. The reader found the over-use of the author, the artist, and the dreamer annoying. The reader still gave 5 stars. The reader will read other books by this author. The reader couldn't write a book if she tried so please take the readers criticism with a grain of salt. The reader thanks you.

Screen capture of the original review and rating on Smashwords.

That is to be expected, since The Portrait has been out a while and I do not actively push the content. However, it has yielded some reviews over time and I came across this one today!

Any review that says the reader will grab my next book is a great news for me. So I thought it would be nice to share!

The Portrait is available on for free on:
Barnes and Noblehttp://goo.gl/jloJZy
Indigohttp://goo.gl/X4eRMK
Kobohttp://goo.gl/8wCF8s
Scribdhttp://goo.gl/jm7nbS
Smashwordshttp://goo.gl/dyk9BE

The eBook is also available on:
Amazonhttp://goo.gl/j01Hyc

The Portrait on Smashwords – Broke One-Hundred Downloads!

In February of this year, I released The Portrait. During its previous incarnation as The Portrait of a Woman, it saw little traffic and activity graphs conjured up images of a patient flatlining.

At least my decision to move away from Amazon‘s Kindle Direct Publishing sphere of influence and branch out into additional markets has breathed life into the project. On Smashwords, the novel has broken a hundred downloads (was 118 when I posted) and still sees daily views.

Shamshwords_Stats

Last 30 Days of Statistics for The Portrait.

While downloads may be waning on the graphs, I prefer to not make draw any definite conclusions.  The book is available through considerably more markets and is free! After all, what is the value of a novel if you cannot actually sell it?

Smashwords has also been wonderful in delivering my eBook to other markets.  True you may have more control if you do it yourself, however for free novels this I feel this feature is invaluable.