Note: The content of this article was originally written for my newsletter subscribers on December 31, 2021. If you want to read these articles while they’re still fresh, please subscribe to my newsletter today. You can find the signup link in the side panel (desktop) or at the bottom of this page (mobile).
Hi Reader Friend,
Thank you for being a subscriber and for taking the time to read my latest update. Now that the year is over, I think it’s a good time to look at all we’ve accomplished in the last twelve months.
Let’s start with you. What have you accomplished this year?
(Pause for reflection)
(Hopefully this wasn’t a sensitive question.)
(Because I can’t hear your response, I’ll go ahead and talk about myself now.)
For me, I’ve spent most of the year building a site that captures the best version of whatever I think an author site should look like. And the end result has been…well, bloated if I could capture the most accurate word. But it also works, most of the time, and that’s the important thing!
I also went back to work on campus, even though I’m still splitting my time online. I don’t love leaving the office to continue working at home (pick one!), but I am working, and that’s also the important thing.
I also went to the movies a couple of times this year. Saw No Time to Die and Spider-man: No Way Home. I recommend both, but I highly recommend Spider-man: No Way Home. It racks my brain how many loose threads they tied up with that one. One of the best movies I’ve seen in a long, long time. Note: It’s only good if you’ve seen other Spider-man movies and other MCU movies. You might be lost if you haven’t seen any. But if you have seen the others and haven’t seen this one, you absolutely should. It’s got a few logical holes, but what doesn’t? Just a great movie all around.
And those were really the major highlights of 2021 for me. The older I get, the less I experience. That seems to be the running theme of this stage in life. Not sure I like it, if I’m being honest. But there’s got to be a way to improve it…
How much do new sports cars go for these days?
No, no, no, I’m not going to buy a new sports car. Not at my age. That would be crazy. Everyone who lives long enough knows you never buy anything brand new.
But anyway, you’re here for books, probably. So let’s talk books.
Amid my gargantuan tackle of the web-o-sphere (that place where online stores and shrines to narcissism live, called websites), I’ve also assembled a mini-collection of previously unpublished short stories called Read My Shorts, Volume 1. Obviously, that implies there will become a Volume 2 someday, but when, I have no idea. Volume 1 does exist, however, and you can read it any time by accessing your subscriber bonuses, which hopefully you’ve bookmarked by now.
But just in case you’ve missed that announcement, here it is again.
[Redacted – Subscribe to my newsletter to get access to all subscriber bonuses.]
In other news, I’ve made progress on an update to The Fountain of Truth, a collection of holiday fables I released as an e-book back in 2015.
Why am I updating a six-year-old book of short stories that hasn’t gotten a download in at least a couple of years? Because I’m repackaging it as the first installment in a series of annual holiday fables called The McCray Parables, which tell the adventures and life lessons Douglas McCray encounters as he tries to justify his holiday actions to those who otherwise don’t buy into them. He emerged in my draft for Snow in Miami, the second book in this holiday series, but I couldn’t see the point in calling it the “second book” when the first didn’t contain the main character.
(The Fountain of Truth is just a collection of stories, whereas Snow in Miami is a series of stories within a single narrative, similar to how The Princess Bride is the story of a grandfather connecting with his grandson over a book, even though it’s also about a princess bride going on an adventure.)
I’d planned on releasing the update for this holiday season, but I simply ran out of time. Thanks to juggling so many other projects and schedules this year, I couldn’t really dig into the update until late November, which meant I’d be working on it well through December. And while it was certainly possible to finish and upload the book before Christmas, it wouldn’t have been possible to get early reader feedback or reviews, nor would it have gotten any attention, and I don’t really want to release another book into the void like I have so many others. Plus, I like releasing wide, but I’m tired of using disparate ISBNs across multiple distributers, so I figured I’d wait until I can properly unify all e-books under the same ISBN. And, well, as an American writer, that’ll be expensive for me, and I’ve already spent all my money on my author website this year.
So maybe next year.
That said, I’d still like some prerelease readers to offer me early feedback on that and future books. If that’s you, and you’re not yet on any of my reading teams (new subscribers will get that invite, but older subscribers may have missed it), please reply to this email and let me know. The three reader tiers are:
Beta Readers – Read an early draft of the story and tell me what’s wrong with it. You’ll answer a short questionnaire once you finish (this can be at the chapter or scene level, but it will most likely be at the story level), and you may be asked to read a revised version a month or two later (or longer, depending on how complex the edits get). The larger my team, the easier the work, since more team members means more opportunities for overlap, giving you more flexibility with your responses. But it’s essential for ensuring the final book is any good. Please note this draft will be messy and probably delivered through a content delivery service like StoryOrigin. It will be entirely about finding flaws in the story, not critiquing the packaging material.
Advanced Review Copy Readers (or ARC Readers) – Read a “final” draft prior to release and write a review for Amazon, Goodreads, BookBub, and/or your blog. The purpose is to catch any last-minute issues that can harm the book’s official launch, as well as build up the book’s “social proof” by leaving honest reviews at one or more major review sites, including Amazon. This will mean getting a formatted e-book in the same state that a buyer might get it, but you’ll get it early and without cost. ARC Readers will be asked to give feedback just once. Note: Reviews are expected but ultimately optional. An ARC reader’s first job is to let me know if the book is ready for the public.
Early Access Readers – These are admittedly the most beneficial readers to me as a book creator, but all readers are valuable, so joining the reading team at any level is awesome. But the difference between the Early Access Reader and everyone else is that you’ll get to offer feedback at the beta and ARC stages, which means you’ll get to be part of the book’s total journey. Wouldn’t you have loved to be an early access reader for the Harry Potter books once upon a time? I mean, that would’ve been a tough gig, with NDAs and having to explain to your family that you have a secret life without ever being allowed to admit what that life is (“I swear, I’m just reading the next Harry Potter book—that’s all! Oops.”). That said, because that can turn into a heavy reading load, as an early access reader you’ll be asked to read just one beta draft, not two. Your second draft will be the advanced review copy. Note: This is also assuming I have a decently sized reader team. While my team is small (or nonexistent currently), a third draft read may be requested, but I won’t expect a return on that third draft. I know that’s a lot to ask for. Nevertheless, I’ll be grateful if you’re willing.
So, if any of that appeals to you, then reply to this email letting me know which type of reader you’d like to be, and I’ll get you on the reader list. Doesn’t mean I’ll have anything for you to read any time soon, but you’ll be given a draft once I do.
And I guess that’s all for now. I was planning on sending you Part 2 of my “A Year Later: Going from No Website to a Full-Fledged Author Site” story in this newsletter, but only one of you has read Part 1, and this message is already getting long, so instead I’ll end here by wishing you a Happy New Year and a great 2022.
Until next time.
Cover Image: DariuszSankowski (Pixabay)