Just Keep Typing #IWSG

After a fun stint of troubleshooting a 403 error this morning (yay for corrupt .htaccess files), I finally have my site up and running so that I can actually post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. Thank you Raimey Gallant for catching that for me!

If you saw my post last week, you know that I’m celebrating finishing the first draft of Isto, the second book in my epic fantasy series. I converted it through text-to-speech and listened to the whole thing, finishing it off yesterday. I caught over two dozen missing or wrong words! Sheesh. I guess my mind fills in what my eyes glance over, and it takes me hearing it to realize it’s not there. And yet, even having corrected all these little mistakes, my critique partner has already found two other wrong/missing words in the first two chapters. *sigh* At least she’s got a keener eye than me! (Thank you, Aldrea. ^_^)

But that’s not why I’m insecure today. I know I’ll be going over the drafts several more times before I call it finished. What makes me insecure is that I like this story, I want people to read it… but for the best experience, they should have the background acquired in the first book. And the first book has tension issues. How can I market this second book, when I’m terrified that people won’t make it through the first one?

There are four books in this series, plus a companion novel, and I have no intention to return to revising the first book before the series is complete, mostly because I know of no easy way of fixing the tension without rewriting everything. And at my rate, it’ll be another twenty years before I finish the series.

It’s depressing and discouraging, believing people aren’t going to read this second book because of issues with the first one.

But I will finish writing this series. I will continue to improve. And then, maybe someday, I’ll come back to the first book and make it better. Until that time, though, I’ll just keep typing.

IWSG Question of the Month: What publishing path are you considering/did you take, and why?

I became an indie author for multiple reasons. I know myself. I don’t want a career as an author. I’m a perfectly happy programmer. In my job, I build solutions specifically crafted for the users and consumers. I tailor everything to what they want. My books? My series? They are for me. They are what I want, and I had no desire to go through the query-and-wait process just to hear other people don’t want it. I do enough building for other people, this story is for me. I just want to share it with others who might be interested, and self-publishing made that possible.

Plus I’m a habitual DIYer. I enjoy figuring out formatting and analyzing what works and what doesn’t. (Programmer, remember?) I can format my own print layouts, create my own ebooks, and I’ve done studies on what is visually attractive in a cover from typography to color schemes. I have all the skills to pull off indie publishing, save for the need of hiring an editor. Therefore, if I’ve got the skills, might as well use them. ๐Ÿ™‚

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You can find the sign up for the IWSG here. We owe Alex J Cavanaugh a huge thank you for thinking this blog hop up.

Do you stop a series if the first book doesn’t have enough tension? Do you enjoy DIY? Do you ever start a series on the second book?

Loni Townsend

About Loni Townsend

Wife. Mother. Writer. Ninja. Squirrel.

45 thoughts on “Just Keep Typing #IWSG

  1. Huge congrats on finishing the first draft of Isto! It does sound like a tricky decision re: revising the first in the series vs. marketing the second. I went down the indie path too, in part because I’m a DIY kind of person too. I enjoyed figuring out everything involved in publishing and doing it myself.

  2. Christine Rains

    There is a wonderful feeling of doing it yourself. I love to know how things work too.

  3. Only two dozen missing words? That’s nothing, your books are like a million pages long! I am thoroughly impressed. I can make two dozen typos in a single sentence of eighteen words.

    I too love the DIY aspect of making books. Like, I love physically making books, not just the writing but the formatting, printing, binding, all of it. A hundred years ago I would have totally run a print shop and been a best-selling author to boot, because I would have printed more of my own books than anything else.

    • Oh, and big congrats on finally finishing the first draft! I know you’ve struggled with that beast for a long time. Yay!

  4. Happy IWSG Day!

    I too find text-to-speech helpful.

    Not sure how to address the promotion of a second book if there are issues with the first. I recently unpublished a series to do a complete rewrite, but that’s just me. Is there any way the second book could stand on its own?

    I like that you publish because you “want it”. I like that.

  5. You’re being a little hard on yourself. In most series I read, I can see the author’s progression in their craft. And congrats on your draft! YEA!

  6. I’m happy with my job and don’t want to be full time either.
    Some people might not make it through the first book, but you can’t worry about them. Just the ones who enjoy what you right.

  7. All we can do is our best, and then we have to move on to the next project. You’ve undertaken quite a challenge, but I know you’ll pull it off. Here’s to seeing Isto between covers!

  8. Yay for finishing that draft! And typos like to hide, whether you read them or listen out for them.

  9. It sounds to me like you’ve made some great progress and are moving right along. Things might start happening faster than you expect right now.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

  10. I enjoy writing, so if doing as a business would kill the joy, I would do it as a hobby. Life is short, we have to enjoy it, right?

    I doubt your book is as bad as you think, but if it concerns you…what if you did a free “condensed” version of the first story; a novella-like synopsis that offers the gist of information readers of book 2 need to fully enjoy the book? And if you gave it away for free, it could be part of the marketing campaign during the release of book two. Just a thought, suggesting extra work. It must be the mom in me. LOL

  11. Hey, I might just hit you up for advice on formatting and design sometime in the future. I’m kind of a DIYer too. My only concern is that I’m such a slow writer, I don’t know if I can afford to take the time to learn all this other stuff. Maybe I’ll have the time when I retire, but that’s a long way off.

    It’s been a while since I read it, but I don’t recall any tension problems with the first book. I suspect that as you’ve grown as a writer, you’re raised the bar in your own mind. But if every writer kept going back and redoing their earlier books, they’d never write new ones.

  12. I sicced my programmer significant other on my formatting issues a while back, and he worked through them in record time. Maybe it could be a side business for him. ๐Ÿ™‚

    And yeah, typos. No matter how carefully I think I’ve read something over, I still find missing words and/or wrong words. Thank goodness for betas and CPs!

    Best of luck with your revisions…Looking forward to reading it.

  13. I could’ve written this post, Loni. It’s why I ended up revamping my first book. I guess I was feeling well, insecure about it because I’d grown as a writer so I want to do better than I did. I’m not even sure I’m “allowed” to republish a book, but oh well, it’s done. I think that by staying the course and moving forward with your other books in the series, people will see your growth too…if that makes any sense at all. ๐Ÿ™‚


  14. Glad I stopped by today. “My books? My series? They are for me. They are what I want, and I had no desire to go through the query-and-wait process just to hear other people donโ€™t want it.” That perfectly sums up what I’ve never put into words before. Congrats on the progress. Just keep moving forward, the readers will come.

  15. Happy IWSG Day. That is the most important thing that you do what makes you happy.

  16. I’m happy to DIY, but with the type of writing I’m prone to doing, a more traditional publishing path is likely for me. Working on short pieces and sending them out is abou all I can muster for now, but at least I am musering! I’ve been thinking a lot too about whether or not to keep up the nonfiction route. Part of me just wants to chill and make up some short stories. Writing about one’s life is a way of continually rehashing things, and I want to lay off of that for a while.

  17. Congrats on finishing the first draft!
    I think I’ve only abandoned one book series. The first book was short and rushed but I saw potential, but then the second book was just BAD. So bad. So many more problems than just tension. I’ll bet you’re being hard on yourself about the first book ๐Ÿ™‚

  18. You said it best. Just keep typing. Just keep improving. And don’t doubt what you have already accomplished!

  19. Anna

    I’ve read many a prologue that was a quick recap of previous books in a series. Don’t be afraid. Just dive in and fill in what your reader will need to know. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Anna from elements of emaginette

  20. I’m with you all the way. That is the beauty of indie publishing is that you can go back and update your books later, but I hear it’s a dangerous trap. You can get stuck on editing what’s already out and never make any forward progress, so yes, keep typing.

  21. Totally understand your chosen career path. Nothing wrong with working your own way if that works. As for readers needing to read Book 1, there are ways around that – like the Prologue that Anna suggests. (Katherine Kerr used something similar, I believe, in her Deverry cycle.) There are backstory inserts of all kinds that other writers use so readers needn’t read previous books.

    • I like the idea of the text-to-speech ‘software’ – especially as I can’t read aloud intelligibly (due to my slurred speech). My partner used to read my writing aloud, but she prefers finished books from Amazon. Need to check things out.

      I’m now using ProWritingAid as you recommended as they have now teamed up with Fictionary – https://fictionary.co/ the editing programme I use alongside Scrivener.

  22. I know what you mean about eyes skimming over mistakes. I edit, for Pete sake, and you *still* find errors in mine. Proof that an author, even an editor-author can’t edit their own work.

    I do want to eventually treat my writing like a business, but as a supplement to my income, not my sole support. And, like you, I write for me. I don’t want to ever get so pressured to turn out books that writing ceases to be fun.

  23. Missing or wrong words is normal in a first draft. Even in a draft you send to an editor. lol I’ve never listened to my stories but after listening to my audiobooks are they’re being made, I realize it’s a great way to catch mistakes.

    Hey, I liked your first book, and I will be re-reading it when book two comes out. ๐Ÿ™‚

  24. Sometime all we can do is keep up the writing momentum and let the rest take care of itself.

  25. Sadly, I’m afraid that you’ll get many readers who haven’t read the first book. I prefer to read whole series from the beginning, but lately I haven’t been doing that as much. Ah well.

    Congrats on finishing your second book. That’s huge.

  26. You better keep typing! ๐Ÿ™‚

    I’ve never used text to speech, but it sounds like it’d be helpful! And oh man, I wish I had your skills. Seriously. I’d make my own covers and format my books. It’s great that writing is a thing just for YOU. ๐Ÿ™‚

  27. Awesome that you finished your draft. I admire that you keep it up even with your other job. I struggle with finding time for my own writing.

  28. Congrats on finishing the first draft. Don’t worry about people reading your first book first. If your readers need to know something from the first book, perhaps you could write a short prologue and tell them what happened in the first book, or at least the parts relevant to your current story.

  29. Go for it Loni! I agree with Olga. Sometimes readers don’t know there is a first book. FOr instance, I fell in love with a cover of a particular YA book and had no close it was the second one in a series. The second book introduced me so well I didn’t pick up on it until I finished. Then I was excited to learn there was a first book! I read that one too. Happy IWSG day ๐Ÿ™‚

  30. Cathrina Constantine

    Congratulations on completing that first draft. I realize there’s plenty more work to be done, but that awesome feeling sticks with an author. The rest, editing, revising, polishing to make it shine can be frustrating and fun.

    Typos are a bane to my writing. Know matter how many times me or my editor has gone over the ms, somehow, errors slip by. Ugh!

    Have you ever thought of re-editing the first book? I did that after my writing improved with my first books.

  31. Congrats on ISTO!

    I commiserate on the will-shortcomings-in-the-first-keep-them-from-the-second realm. No solution there; time is finite.

    What a great idea on the the text-to-speech. ::forehead-slap::
    And thanks for stopping by! I saw the 403 yesterday and hoped all was well. Damn .htaccess files.

  32. All you can do is continue with this book and the next and trust they will find readers from the first book. When you’re finished, then you can go back and adjust the first one.

  33. Congrats on Isto. What an interesting name. Readers are fickle. Even if you went back and fixed what you believe is wrong in the first book, does not guarantee the reader will pick up the second books anyway. I don’t write series. I would lose sleep over trying to remember what I wrote in the first book so it would mesh with the second and heaven forbid trying to remember everything to write a 4 book series! oh my! I write the story and move on to new characters, new location, new problems. So far, no desire to add another book to my mysteries that are already out there.

    Best wishes on your series! And keep enjoying the creativity writing affords you.
    JQ Rose

  34. Congratulations on finishing ISTO and for finding so few errors. I’d love to read your books. I’ll probably start with the second, I’m sure you’ve given enough of a summary to make it possible to understand it. I love your reasons for doing indie publishing and am getting clarity on what I will do from reading you.

  35. I love that you write for you. That’s great, I think it answers that need we often have to write the books we want to read rather than what ‘they’ think we need.
    speech to text – good idea!

    And I can’t answer your other question – it’s tied me in knots as one side of me likes to read things in order, whilst the other part of me is a bit more gung ho and enjoys finding things out later – reading out of order can mean meeting characters in a reverse time stream, so you find out what they’re like, then you find out why they’re like that…

  36. If the first book in a series didn’t “wow” me in some way, I probably wouldn’t keep going. So if you think your second book is much stronger and you are still editing, is there any way to sneak in some of this necessary background without an exploding word count? Or it could be that this information is not as crucial as you think. Be sure to ask your beta readers.

  37. I’m going through editing notes and my editor has noted a bunch of words that are missing from various sentences. It’s funny how we miss them because our brains tells us they’re really there.

  38. Sounds like a very practical approach and it makes perfect sense to use the skills from your day job. Hmm, I never thought about using text-to-speech software. You’re right that we can so miss so much through simple reading.

  39. I read my books aloud to myself, but I havenโ€™t tried the text-to-speech approach. Iโ€™ll bet that reveals even more issues than my way! As for typos: if I ever manage to produce a final MS without errors, Iโ€™ll figure Iโ€™ve died and gone to heaven.

    Iโ€™m not a programmer by any stretch of the imagination, but I find I kind of like the formatting stuff. Well, I tolerate it pretty well. It took some learning, and I have to do some re-learning each time, but I donโ€™t mind. Itโ€™s the web site stuff that baffles me ๐Ÿ˜€

    As for the first book: re-editing it is an option, if it really bothers you. But there is also the option of making Book 2 stand alone better via a prologue or similar. M0st of us probably feel at least sometimes that weโ€™d like to re-edit (or re-write) our first novel! Whether we actually do it depends on how great the need is, I think.

  40. Congrats on getting the first draft of Isto done. That’s a good feeling.

    I’m glad self-publishing is an option. It works for a lot of us.

  41. My first books in my series aren’t my best either, but people tend to like them and go on. The people who do go on to your second book are true fans. It could be your issues with book one aren’t as serious as you think? We’re often our harshest critics.

  42. Congrats on finishing the second book. It’s tricky to market a second book when there are known issues with the first book, but sometimes we just need to wait for the answer to those issues to make itself known. Eventually that epiphany will hit. If people like the first book enough, they’ll continue on.

  43. That’s really cool, Loni–I love how you expressed why you chose indie publishing. With that kind of attitude about writing, it shouldn’t make you miserable.

    I guess I’d suggest that mindset when it comes to your first book as well. You write these stories for you. So the first book isn’t perfect–what book is? Hopefully, readers expect us to get better as we go. The saddest thing is when writers get worse. I’d much prefer reading an author who continues to improve.

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