Can the slow crumbling of Barnes & Noble be stopped?

I don’t often write about the business side of publishing because I don’t feel like I’m an authority on it, but this post was spurred by a conversation I had when I went into my local store to get my weekend coffee and have my little “out of office” writing session.

The barista told me that last Monday Barnes & Noble had had a massive layoff. I think she was glad that she still had a job. I could see the shock of it still in her eyes. Now, she’s a very nice girl (I say girl only because she’s younger than me), and she’s got good people skills, so she’d be able to recover if she did lose her job. I personally hope she doesn’t, and I’m saying that from the point of view that I enjoy our short conversations when I go in there. She’s always cheery and has great recommendations if I’m not in a mood for something particular; she’s never suggested a bad drink.

So, when she told me of the layoffs, I remarked that Barnes & Noble really needed to quit doing business like it was still 1890. I could see the question in her eyes, but she had to go onto the next customer and didn’t have the opportunity to ask what I meant by it.

What did I mean?

I meant that anyone who thinks that traditional publishing isn’t operating like it did a hundred years ago is fooling themselves. Anyone who thinks that a publisher is going to take care of them is fooling themselves. Anyone who thinks that an agent will get them a good deal with a traditional publisher is a damn fool!

If you think I’m talking about only writers in this, you’re wrong.

Barnes & Noble is a company that thinks that traditional publishers are going to take care of them.

Foolish, foolish, foolish.

Let’s expose a dirty little reality that they wish they could keep secret: all of their tables at the front of the store and the end caps are all paid spots. Read that again: Paid spots. Every book that sits there has purchased the right to sit there. Not because they are a best seller as the signs would claim. Nope. A publisher as paid for that spot in the store as advertising for the book.

How long before those books end up in the discount bin? Not long.

Why? Well, because the publisher needs to get the next book out. They literally rotate book stock as if it were fruit or meat. If it doesn’t get sold, it gets discounted.

Now, it’s no secret that the publishing industry has suffered a major blow with the changes in technology. Worse, they are still sitting around on their hands wondering what to do about it. They are losing money and more and more authors are moving to indie or getting smart about hybrid careers. A hybrid author is one who is an indie publisher and also continues to publish with traditional publishers. So if publishers are losing money and they buy advertising spots within Barnes & Noble, doesn’t it seem logical that of course Barnes & Noble is taking a loss too?

I’ve seen so much advise that says that people trying to “make it big” in whatever they are doing, just need to publish a book. These days, that doesn’t even have to be through a publisher, who use to be a gatekeeper keeping the garbage out. Now, anyone can figure out how to publish their own book. It’s not a hard process.

But that’s crappy advice.

Why? Hello, look at Barnes & Noble. Selling books is hard. Why? Awareness. It’s hard in this whole big churning that is selling books, with indies, hybrids, traditional, all kicking out books all the time. There is just so much and so many other things to divert people’s attention: Facebook, Twitter, superhero movies, sports games, so-called news, bad politics, even more terrible laws being created, Netflix originals, gotta-have gadgets, new makeup removers, etc. Life comes fast.  Reading is a luxury a lot of people don’t find time for.

Yet, reading is what most people need to do. Take a moment. Slow down. Let your imagination breathe.

There are stories out there for everyone.

But our schools insist on what our children MUST read. Instead of letting children explore stuff they might like and just letting them enjoy it, we force them to read something deathly boring and then “find meaning” in it. No wonder no one can find meaning in their own lives. No wonder no one respects the lives of others.

Boy, I could really go down a rabbit hole there, but I have this little voice inside me that says to keep in my fiction. Another dystopian story anyone?

So what is the answer for Barnes & Noble?

I have been pondering that question the whole time I’ve been in the Barnes & Noble cafe, eating my Toffee Almond Bar and enjoying my hot, venti White Chocolate Mocha. Not a single person has a book in front of them. One woman might be reading on her device, but there’s another party sitting at a table talking quietly. I can see one man reading magazines – he’s the closest. And, some people behind me did take about a novel, but I don’t think they have a book out either. And, I’m writing this blog and wondering if I should really hit the post button on this or not. Do I really want to take on this monster?

I don’t even have my own answer, but I do remember when I would bring my Nook to Barnes and Noble because I could read any book in their system for free for an hour. I bought a lot of books that I started that way.

I would certainly hate to lose the Barnes & Noble cafe. It’s one of the best things going for the store. My children and I have spent considerable time here. I miss our Hastings store terribly and I don’t want to lose Barnes & Noble.

So what’s the answer?

I use to be a Barnes & Noble stockholder. I sold all of it because they were being stupid about company operations. I saw this coming back then.

I hate the fact that they don’t support indie authors, even local ones. Oh, there’s ways to hack into the system, but I don’t like playing games, nor am I ready for some of the other things that come with being a small press publisher. I like being a solo publisher right now. I’m working on perfecting my game here before I move up. But, it would be nice if I could sell books on consignment through my local/regional Barnes & Noble stores like I did at Hastings. Hmm, there’s part of an answer, plus it supports local — wouldn’t you be more interested in local authors than someone a faceless company has told you that you SHOULD read or your a nobody?

Okay, not every indie author is going to be wonderful. I’ve read a lot of people that need to practice their craft for a few more years. But we don’t live in that world (and the painter/illustrator in me is glad for that). Everybody has a chance. But trust me, the books that aren’t quality are going to sink to the bottom like sludge. We are already seeing that. The people that are serious writers are putting out product. The smart ones realize that they have to create that product as well as figure out how to repackage and repurpose what they have done because it’s all about visibility.  Yes, the paid spots at the front of Barnes & Noble do sell some of those books. And there has to be new product to keep people coming back to the store. That is just the same for the indie author.

You did notice that I have nearly 20 books out? There is a reason for that: I needed more product so that readers had 1) more to read by me when they did find me, 2) a variety of things to read in case something wasn’t their “cup of tea,” 3) a number of ways for people to find me. I am being as aggressive with product creation as I can. And this summer, I will be aggressive with repurposing the things I do have. See, it’s not always about creating new product, but it’s about rethinking what you already have.

This is where Barnes & Noble is failing. They don’t want to work with indie authors. Of course, indie authors are a bane to their paid spots on the shelves. But that’s getting to be a vast majority of the books out there. You’d think that they’d be figuring out how to license a piece of the indie author’s copyright to repackage it for something that will help them.

Or, is this what Barnes & Noble is trying to do with the print division of Nook Press? I wonder how willing Barnes & Noble will be with getting book that are printed through their press into the store. That might be a question for my barista friend. Or possibly the store manager here.  I wonder how aware the employees are of Nook Press and what its doing. I find that communication is vital in successful organizations. Want to know why classes at your local Michael’s craft store don’t work? It’s because the employees don’t know a damn thing about them. If you do have good classes at your Michael’s, it’s because 1) the teacher made the class popular by word of mouth, or 2) the employees actually knew about the classes and boy do you have a rare store. Enough said there.

If Barnes &  Noble wants to survive, they really need to cut their dependence upon traditional publishers who are also slowly sinking under the weight of the times. Traditional publishers haven’t learned how to plug their own leaks and it will drown everyone still insisting on linking arms and not letting go. Barnes & Noble needs to figure out how to work with indies, whether that be through consignment or some other fashion. Let us in the door. We’re here. We’re hungry for readers (which you have). And we want visibility too. Why not link arms with us because we’re on the rising tide?

If Barnes & Noble wants to survive, they need to figure out where their place is in this new world where an author can take their books directly to readers without needing a distributor and a bookstore. How can they entice authors to use them? Hint: my experience with Nook as not been the best, but I can say that they have made improvements. I still think it could be better. Losing their worldwide platform hurt. Barnes & Noble needs to quit being a baby about this. It feels like they want to go somewhere with Nook, but they aren’t willing to take a risk. They need to find a Steve Jobs visionary to head Nook (although they may have ticked off enough authors that they might just have to scrap the Nook program and start something entirely new).

Barnes & Noble should figure out how to do Amazons KDP Select program without the exclusivity (making it more like Kobo’s program, but then figuring out how to do it even better!). They need a rock star idea. How to get the indie authors to flock to them? Remember, it is all about product. The more product you have to sell, the more chance of making a sale you have. And it’s not about discounts. Apple is proof of that. Yes, they need a Steve Jobs clone.

To say that I have a love/hate relationship with Barnes & Noble is an understatement. As I said, I like to sit in the cafe and write. I don’t have an experience like this anywhere else and I don’t want to find somewhere else. I don’t want my cafe to close. I like having physical books close to me and being able to peruse titles at my leisure. Yet, as an indie author/publisher, I hate the fact that they don’t support me in my books. When I was doing a signing at Hastings, I use to take away $40-80 each time and that was when I only had 4-7 titles. Hastings got a cut of about $50-90 each time. Okay, so they aren’t going to stay open like that, but it was money in their pocket by just setting out a table for me.  Barnes & Noble has over 630 stores nationwide.  One author in each of their stores, doing net sales of $75 would be $47,250 for one day, $94,500 for the weekend in their pocket. Do this for a year, and they would have $4,914,000. Guess what? That’s not income that they have now because THEY WON’T LET INDIE AUTHORS IN!

Okay, Barnes & Noble, I just did some math for you. Do you know how easy this would be? Farmers markets do it. Certainly you can too. You have readers who come to gather in your store. Give authors access to them. Let me call up a store before I travel so I can plan a time to be there and bring my own books (a simple little consignment contract) and let me sell my books.

Writers: I know some of you just panicked when you thought about having to sell your own books. Yeah, sorry. Get over it. Get over yourself. Get off your butt. If you want to have a career, you have to learn to sell your own books. Yeah, we don’t like it. You need to learn to coax your inner salesman out. Remember that selling is nothing but sharing enthusiasm and you will never find anyone more enthusiastic about your book than you! Selling is a skill that is learned, just like writing. Spend some time educating yourself on it. I say again: get over it.

There is no guarantee that the money mentioned above can be brought in, but right now, you are missing out on every potential dollar and that ought to make you realize that you are missing out on a big, big possibility and one that Amazon and Kobo can’t duplicate because they don’t have stores already in place. This is how you find your place.

Now I’m not suggesting that Barnes & Noble takes every indie author. I believe that there should be some qualifications to “sit at the table.” First, you need to be a writer, not someone who has written a book or two — unless, of course, that person is a non-fiction writer and moderately knowledgable about the field in which they are writing. Second, the cover and formatting need to professional quality. Every store book manager should be able to look at the book and say whether it is professional or not. Okay, can speak to this: I’ve spent years developing my “house style” for Morning Sky Studios. Just last week I sent several screenshots to Vellum because I love their formatting program but I need to have some more control so that I can make the print versions that come out of Vellum look like what I have already set up as my house style.

Writers: if you haven’t seen Vellum, you really need to check it out. It will make formatting ebooks a breeze, and if you don’t already have a set print format that you like (a house style so to speak), it can do that as well. It is for Mac only (sorry, PC users — yeah, I had to buy a Mac just to run this program — cost of doing business, don’t whine! And if you really can’t even afford it, check out Draft2Digital’s ebook creator — just as cool for ebooks but not nearly the variety. Stick with what you can afford for the moment, but be aware of the options. P.S. Vellum does run on Mac in Cloud – that’s a Mac that is cloud-based and you purchase time – an option to having to buy a Mac).

Also, I know a lot of times I got to Barnes & Noble and I’m looking for a book which I don’t find in the store. I own two Nooks, both of which the gnomes in my house have stolen, even though I bought a bright pink case for the second one I purchased. So, what if I could check out a Nook from the sales counter and look at the ebook version of the book I’m looking for there in store? I think this would be awesome. I bet it would increase the number of purchases I make from Barnes & Noble. Strike while the iron is hot. Oh, and if these page reads could count toward the author’s B&N-version-of-KDP, how cool would that be? Score!

Well, this post has been long enough and I need to be moving on. It’s time for me to leave Barnes and Noble for this week. I hope the doors are still open next week.


Enter the Novihomidraks!

I currently released a short story in electronic and audio formats. It’s called Fractured Echo.


I wrote Fractured Echo entirely in the dark, as Dean Wesley Smith talks about. I tried his looping technique. Honestly, I still went back through and had to do a re-read of the entire thing. I “edit” like I normally do; by this I mean that I fix things that don’t make sense to me or are weird. There are just some sentences that I can feel aren’t complete. I make them deeper. I’m sure Dean does this in his loops, which I was also doing, but I still felt like I needed that one final time to make sure everything tied together. I have accepted that this final read is just part of my process (for now at least – three years from now, maybe I won’t need to do it anymore).

It took a few days to write and finalize this story. While working on it, it was hard to not become invested in the characters. While I was talking to my youngest son about it one day, I mentioned that I felt I wasn’t done with these characters, and that I had more stories to tell with them. He just grinned at me and said, “Of course.” Maybe that’s why the ending feels so abrupt to me. I will warn you know, the outside influences of the story don’t get finished – they are still going on. Okay, some of the internal issues aren’t fully resolved either, but I get Echo to a place she needs to be. The story told me to end it there. Literally, it screamed at me not to go on. So I didn’t. It leaves it hanging, as I’ve found most short stories do. But, I feel that at some point I will be back with these characters. They might just be minor characters in another story, but I love the aspects and possibilities these characters bring with them. It’s just too good to pass up.

I should also mention that this is a formal introduction to my novihomidraks, which anyone reading this blog will be partially familiar with. Novihomidraks are officially what I’m calling my “dragon born” in my Dragons of Wellsdeep story. Those of you who have been reading my Sacred Knight series will also notice the crossover of the saperes (a word meaning “wise ones”). While the saperes outside of the Sacred Knight world are different from those in the world, I will eventually tie the two together so it explains the development of the sapere class in Sacred Knight. Confused? Yeah, sorry. I was too (and still am a little bit), but I trust the process. It knows better than me what to do. I trust and follow. I allow myself to be blindfolded and lead the through dark when I’m writing. For me, that’s the adventure of storytelling; I want to be surprised too.

I should also mention that this is not for children. Like my Loki series, this is more adult, probably even more so than The Loki Adventures even. So just be warned if you have kids around that this does have mild language and sexual content. I have made the decision to market all my work under one name because I enjoy writing for kids, teens, and adults, as well as merging teens and adults when I can as in my Sacred Knight series, and in doing so, I will be trying to make sure that my work always in the right hands. There’s a lot of things I can do to target which audience a work is for (such as being open and honest in posts like this), but at some point I have to trust readers to take responsibility too.

I invite you to check out Fractured Echo – available on Kindle, Nook, Kobo, and other formats, You can also find it on iTunes and Audible.

Writing an Adventure For Yourself

I was going on a point in my last Thursday’s blog that I have never been afraid to throw out several chapters of a story that wasn’t working when I got sidetracked by another thought and went with it instead, but I wanted to come back to that.

I know Dean Wesley Smith would bite his tongue while thinking that I was a stupid writer if he heard me say that. He’d fix forward and not waste the words he’d written. Time is words written, and that is product being produced, which is something he can ship out the door. He’s not wrong. He’d tell me not to let my story be a “special snowflake,” to get it done and move on to the next story. He’s still not wrong.

I have been pondering this philosophy of mine and questioning if I am right or not, especially in seeing the publishing industry and its process in a new light. I looked at my goals and did the math on them to see how long it would take me to reach them (90 years at that time, 9 years if I committed myself now – both of those are scary numbers) and realized that I had to do something to speed up my process. Neither of those times were acceptable to me. I knew I’d have to break my thinking.

Where does trusting the artistic process meet the road of being a producing artist?

It feels like a fine line. One I’m having to rethink as I walk it.

Smith has this process he calls “looping.” He writes until he runs out of steam, then he loops back several chapters and takes another run at it. He fills in any holes that he might have created along the way. Once he reaches the end of the previous writing session, he keeps moving forward until he again runs out of steam. Then he repeats, maybe not going back as far as he did previously to start again. My own process is generally not too different, except that I may on occasion have to throw a whole section out because it’s just not right. I wish I could always know exactly what to write. Maybe he’d say that I’m only throwing things out because I let the critical voice tell my author voice that I’m doing it wrong. But if that were the case, then why do I feel better when I’ve moved forward in another direction. Usually, though not always, I do feel like throwing it out to go down another path was the correct choice.

Alas, maybe this isn’t something I’ll discover the answer to without writing another 10,000 words while pondering this question and experimenting while examining my own process. I’m sure I won’t figure it out after having just written one blog post about it. It’s definitely part of the journey. As my character, Ellis, would say, “What’s life without a little adventure sometimes?”

Rewriting a Life

I’ve been following Dean Wesley Smith lately. I swear he’s the writer that I always imagined I would become. In seeing what he’s done, I find myself getting angry with myself (after a taste of jealousy) at having gotten off track. Where did I go so wrong?

Okay, I do know the answer to that. I let my dreams get derailed by a desire for a “normal” life as a wife and a mother. That put me in a bad situation, one where I had to enjoy the rat race while continuing my dreams on the sidelines. I just wish now that I could’ve pushed myself harder than I have over the last 20 year. I’ve been moseying. I haven’t been playing for keeps. Some of that time, I truly feel that the situation couldn’t be helped. I had life issues working against me. But, I still could have been doing more. I wasn’t fully committed. I was scared.

Now I’m more scared.

I realize after watching several of Dean’s videos and reading his books, I have to get my life back on track. I’m not a brilliant writer by any means, but I have stories inside me I want to tell and I am 20 years shorter on being able to get them all out. That’s scary.

It just means that I have to be more focused and productive. I have to write more. I have to be a better writer to make a cleaner draft. Yes, that means doing the work upfront, not afterward. A light edit, not a complete rewrite. I’ve never had any issues before of writing something then throwing it all out to completely rewrite it because the sequence of scenes wasn’t right or I got a better idea. I’ve always trusted the process and if my gut tells me something is wrong I throw it out and go back to when it last felt right and started again. You know, my life hasn’t felt right for some time but I hadn’t wanted to trust the process of life like I do the process of writing. But now I realize how vitally important that is. It’s scary to let go of something that you know. In a Les Brown speech I was recently listening to, he says that “known hells are preferable to strange heavens.” He’s so very right. Now comes the time when I have to throw out several years of my life to get it back on track. I have to commit to something new or I’m going to keep facing the same life I have now. I don’t like this draft I’m writing. I have to break my thinking. I have to go back to where it last felt right and start again.


I know that I don’t have to throw out all the scenes I’ve written, just the ones that aren’t working. It’s going to take commitment to fill in the gaps, but I’m ready. I can see how the Universe has positioned me for this when I thought I was struggling through hard times and looking for answers. I am exactly where I need to be. I’ve found exactly what I needed to find. Learned exactly what I needed to find. Manifested in my life exactly what I needed to have for moving forward. I’m ready.

Thanks to Dean Wesley Smith’s for his encouragement and example. I now know that not only can be done but that it works. I can do this. More importantly, I want it more than ever.

I’m ready to rewrite my life.

Gardening and Tending

My attendance on this blog has been lacking. Okay, my attendance on all my blogs has been lacking. Even though I said on my other blog that I was going to get better about it. No, really, I want to be better at it.

I want to be better at a lot of things. My audiobooks have taken up a major percentage of my focus and time right now. I want great sounding audiobooks, so I’ve been working really hard at learning how to record, edit, and master great sounding audio. That’s even harder than it sounds. Especially when I keep finding problems in the hardware. Frustration and I are good friends now. Plus, I’ve been trying to update my ebook files (including correcting known issues in the files) so I can re-release them for wider distribution. I know that in today’s world it’s so easy to make corrections that it’s best to fix forward and I do believe in this “gardening and tending” philosophy. I know that nothing I ever do will be perfect (I’m not a perfectionist), but I start with as near as I can get and fix forward. I’m not sure how that will work with audiobooks, so that does scare me a bit, but we shall see what happens.

But another aspect of fixing forward is making sure you learn from your mistakes and doing your best to apply the knowledge next time. That’s always been my purpose here with betterwriterblog. I want to point out mistakes so that they can be avoided in the first draft. I don’t want anyone to get bogged down in editing so much that they never get around to releasing their stories. I also see now how this is my journey to be a better writer myself. I am in the process of teaching myself too. I think I’ll be tweaking my scope here to illustrate things I’m learning about being a writer as I make my journey. It’s not about the destination (whether that be a completed book or where you want to end up in life), it’s about the journey (how one continues to grow, even when that growth is painful).  I hope that what I share helps you become a better writer too.

Writing Action Scenes – Part 2

Whether or not you read the last post, I highly suggest you go (re)read it now. It is an important example.

The answer really is to write short sentences. It’s a little more than that though. The habit of Steven King’s use of one word chapters was a little excessive. You. Can’t. Just. Write. Like this. And. Get. Great. Results.

I’d like to take you back to my story for a moment. Let’s return and look at Dragons of Wellsdeep pages 8 and 9.

If you look at page 8, we start off in Moonhunter’s thoughts. The second paragraph has Moonhunter being fired upon. Except for the second-to-last sentence in the paragraph, they are all relatively short sentences or are divided by commas, which gives a feeling of a break.

The third paragraph has the sentences stretching out a bit more. It kind of feels all short and anxious, followed by a bigger span in order to breathe. Then we have Balthier’s and Moonhunter’s action and dialogue sequence. See how it starts off long and starts to get shorter as they go along. I’m increasing the page here with the white space of the page.

Now, in the last post, did you feel the intensity of it? Maybe a bit disappointed that there wasn’t more? I set up the great question, then slammed with the answer.

Bam! I have you.

It’s those short, punchy sentences where action has to take place. It locks you in. But you also have to have those longer sentences where the reader feels the space to breathe. You’re probably starting to feel a bit of the hypnotic spell here with post. At least I hope you are.

Now look at page 9 and see the sentences vary in length depending upon the emotional impact I want for the action scene.

Now, go write great action!

Dragons of Wellsdeep- pages 28 &29

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Page 28 has a lot of things to change. Mostly, I think there’s a lot better ways to show this information rather than telling it. It’s going to expand the material greatly when I get to rewrite it.

Page 29 has less to fix, mostly because it’s dialogue, but there are still some things I can do better.

I also just noticed a spelling error I hadn’t seen before. I misspelled Moonhunter’s name on page 29, paragraph 8, by adding an extra “e” on the end. Does that make it French? “Moon-hun-tier”?  I wonder how many other things I have missed.

Happy writing.

Dragons of Wellsdeep- pages 26 & 27 edit

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I actually like page 26 a lot. I didn’t have too much to say in the way of edit comments. I do have a couple things to check. You’ll notice that one of my notes is to “check compendium.” What’s that all about?

When I was reading about screenplay writing – I dare not say “studying” because I don’t think I went that deep – I learned that a lot of tv shows keep “bibles.” This is a list of characters, traits, habits, gestures, episodes – essentially everything a new writer would need to know when he/she started writing for the show. It was at time when I was working on my Sacred Knight story and I knew there would be a lot of characters and information. My character, Steigan, has a birthmark on one of his palms and I could never remember which side it was on. I finally made a decision that it was in his sword hand – a link between him, his sword, and his magic. But then one day I encountered a picture I had flipped just to make the composition better. Now his sword was in his left hand instead of his right. Really confusing! I had to go back to my compendium of notes just to get it straightened out in my head again. The side effect of this was that I now had my subconscious working on why he was carrying his sword in his left hand, and sure enough, it spit out the answer. Yeah, flipping that picture actually moved the story into the realm where the story is now. But that’s getting too far off course. The important thing is that you need to have a central place where you write down details that you will someday need to reference. I call this my “compendium.”

I have a compendium for Sacred Knight and I have one started for Dragons of Wellsdeep, both of which I keep in Celtx. I have a compendium for The Loki Adventures in Evernote because at this point I don’t need something as robust as Celtx, though I will probably need to convert soon when I start writing true episodic adventures. I have lots of notebooks in Evernote which serve as beginning compendiums for several other stories.

So, when I say, “check compendium,” I hope that I have my information already in the compendium and don’t have to go searching back through the story for the details. In this case that is fairly easy because I know it was in the prologue or in the first chapter when I established the names for the weapons.

Page 27 doesn’t look too disastrous, but I do have some areas to expand, places where I can show information rather than telling. I am on the fence about whether or not I want Balthier’s statement to be separate from the following paragraph or not. I think if I merge it all into one now, I’m going to need to break up that awfully long paragraph.

Well, that’s all I have for now.

Until next time, happy writing!

Dragons of Wellsdeep- pages 24 & 25 edit

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Let’s look at my edit notes for these pages:

Page 24 is a lot of telling and prodding for more details. This really is where showing first draft material gets a little hard because I know that this is one of my weaker points. But it’s also very important, so please don’t get too bored. When I get started on the 2nd draft, you’ll start to see how this all rounds out, how it gets deeper because I know where I need to add things.

Do notice that I also point out things I like. That doesn’t mean they won’t be cut or emphasized more, but it’s a mark of something I feel I did right. Sometimes, you do need positive notes in your edit too, even to yourself so that it doesn’t get to feel like, “Oh, I’m such a failure! I can’t write. What am I thinking?” Again, that’s why I’m here showing you what the first draft looks like and illustrating how to fix it. If you’ve got it down, you’ve got a great start on people who only want to write a book but never do the work. So mark the spots you like!

Page 25 – what was this? Was there an explosion? If the ink was red, this page would be bleeding! Look at all the “was” words. There’s a lot of suggestions for improvement, plus a note to go into out-galaxy (OG) missions earlier. Yes, this is the mark of true first draft material. I really am learning the story here. In earlier pages, I had no idea that there was going to be a difference between off-world missions and out-galaxy missions, much like I didn’t know about the abilities of the dragonborn when I first started. I am learning as I go. That’s your proof.

How’s your manuscript coming? Hopefully well.

Until next time, happy writing and editing!