Thursday, June 19, 2014

So, I've Written a Novel

Pasternak's 'The Throes of Creation'
Six months.
 
Six months since my last blog entry, my last review, my last Goodreads comment. When I write it out like that, it seems like a long time, a solid chunk of the past to set behind me. I hoped it might be long enough for me to get some clarity, but the concerns I laid out in my last blog post have not been resolved, just swept under the rug. Regardless, it's high time I moved forward with my writing and my reviews. As I explain in this post, I'll continue posting reviews on both GR and Booklikes, as well as responding to personal messages at both sites, as well as at hapaxgr@gmail.com.

So, what have I been doing for six months? Traveling the country, visiting friends and family, recording music, taking long walks in the woods, going to concerts, enjoying the Spring weather, reading, playing games, practicing survival techniques--everything and nothing. I have done a little editing on my manuscript, here and there, but my book has actually been in a finished form for some time now. Now I'm finally ready for the next step: a call to beta readers. So, for all of you who have been asking over the past few years when you'll be able to actually read my book, here we go.

First, I'll briefly go through the process of writing and editing a book for anyone unfamiliar, then let you all know where you fit in. While writing, an author will probably have a few people reading chapters as they are written--usually their significant other, their editor, and any consultants on things like scientific or historical details. These are the 'alpha readers', the first step in the process of editing the book. Then, when the book is in a mostly finished state, having an end and all the other requisite parts, the author sends the book out to 'beta readers', who are a wider group, usually made up of friends, fellow writers, prospective publishers, and literary critics. These beta readers give their notes to the author, who completes their final draft, then sends the book to be published.

Hans Landauer, Bookbinder
I am now ready to tender the current draft of my novel to beta readers, especially individuals with knowledge of Victorian literature and history, colonial literature, Hindu culture, and early science fiction like Jules Verne and H.G. Wells--though I also want readers who know nothing about these things, in order to get a variety of opinions and observations. Now, it's important for each of you to decide whether you want to read the book as a beta reader, in its current rough state, or wait until the finished version. Either way is perfectly fine with me, the choice is totally up to you, my readers. If you're unsure what to do, feel free to message me with any concerns or questions.

If you do decide you'd like to be a beta reader for me, the following suggestions should give you some idea of what I'd like you to look out for in my book:

  • Everyday punctuation and grammatical errors
  • Regular usage (meaning variable words are spelled, capitalized, and hyphenated in the same way throughout the book, such as in cases like 'rumor/rumour', 'spring/Spring', and 'timekeeping/time-keeping')
  • Making sure the use of British English is consistent and accurate throughout
  • Correcting historical and cultural inaccuracies
  • Making sure foreign words and phrases are italicized
  • Suggesting foreign words and phrases that might fit for characters from non-English cultures
  • Removing anachronistic words (Google Ngram is invaluable for checking when words and phrases first came into common use)

Manuscript of Keats' 'Hyperion'
Those are the nitpicky bits, but I'm also interested in comments and suggestions on all aspects of the book, including structure, plot, characters, relationships, pacing, formatting, tone, writing style, symbolic language, and all the other aspects of writing. Really, anything that comes to mind is welcome. I've also considered the suggestion of adding footnotes to the book to define some of the more esoteric words and phrases and untangle some of the references, so any feedback on this idea is also welcome--along with notes letting me know which words and phrases in the book you wish had been footnoted.

I'm also considering starting a discussion group for my beta readers, in the style of a book club, so that you will be able to communicate your thoughts to and ask questions of others as you read. I would plan to make one area where I, as the author, would never intrude, since honest communication is such a vital part of any editing process, as well as a section where readers can bring up points, engage in discussion, and ask me direct questions. Let me know if you would like this to be a part of your experience.

You can also view some sample chapters of the book here, which may help you to determine whether you actually want to read it at all. I must warn that this is unapologetically a book in the Victorian style: it's quite long and involved, full of odd words and references, somewhat episodic in structure, and very focused on the internal lives of the characters. That being said, it's also full of death and sex and explosions, adventures and strange locales, secret plots and even the rare attempt at humor. I've taken inspiration from many of the period books I've been reading over the past few years, including Joseph Conrad, Rudyard Kipling, Arthur Conan Doyle, Ambrose Bierce, M.R. James, and numerous others--not to say that I imagine myself to be like those authors, but without them, my book could not exist. This style is not everyone's cup of tea, so I'd understand perfectly if some of you decided to take a pass on this one.

Lastly, there are some legal concerns, which I know will strike fear and confusion into the hearts of any non-Americans out there. This project represents a fair amount of time spent and ideas committed, so I'm making sure to dot my i's and cross my t's. I've been working with a lawyer friend to iron out copyright details as I get ready to publish, so there is a little disclaimer at the front of the book, similar to the 'click yes' agreement one often sees when installing computer programs. It basically says you won't steal my ideas, pirate my book, plagiarize from it, or publish it and claim it as your own. Of course, you're free to check out the details of the agreement, yourself, when you receive your copy. Anyone not comfortable with accepting such terms is free to wait until the book is published for a general audience.

So, if there are any of you still out there, please let me know if you're interested in being a beta reader, whether through my email, comments, Goodreads, or Booklikes. I can offer the book in various electronic formats, including Kindle, Nook, and many others, so be sure to specify which would be most convenient for you. Currently, printing out hard copies is prohibitively expensive, but my ebook can also be formatted to be read on any computer, tablet, or smartphone--or if you'd like to print it out yourself, that's fine, too.

13 comments:

  1. Does that mean you won't be responding to the GR comments anymore?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've only responded to a handful in the past six months--it's just not worth the time to keep up with them, as I now get many every day, and nearly all of them are just repeats of comments that I've already responded to.

      Delete
    2. I agree with you, and it is always on the same 3 books.

      Delete
  2. Hey Hapxius, congratulations on writing a book! I look forward to reading it. Best of luck in the beta phase and beyond.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the kind wishes, I hope that, if you do read it, it lives up to your anticipation.

      Delete
  3. So, you gonna publish this with book publisher or just self-publishing?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Eh, I don't think my book is particularly marketable, which means it isn't going to interest publishers. I'll just stick it up as an ebook.

      Delete
    2. Either go YA or go home right? Everything is YA these days.

      Delete
    3. Did you try Bloomsbury? They published Clarke and her book isn't particularly mainstream. I know they're difficult to get into, but all the same...

      Delete
    4. No, I haven't shopped it around or anything. Friends in publishing have said it's just too long for a first time novel, so it would never even get off the slush pile. After all, Clarke had already been in publishing for years before her first book, so she was allowed to break the rules.

      Delete
  4. Hi, I might be late to this post, seeing as it was posted in july. But I've recently just started following your reviews and after reading you POV on Game of Thrones (which I thought was insightful btw), I decided to click the follow button. Somehow I found myself on your blog and realised you're working on a Novel (which I kind of hoped you were, and I'm glad). Having revealed myself as a fan, now is it still possible to read the book as one of the beta's or am I actually late?

    PS, I'm working on a book too and might require future insights on them

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you think you might be interested in being a beta reader for me, then check out the sample chapters I've posted here on Goodreads. When you're done, send your notes and comments to me at hapaxgr@gmail.com and if you're still interested, I can send you the rest.

      Delete
  5. What will be the name of your book?

    ReplyDelete