Cover on AllAuthor!

I know everything is stressful right now and we all have stuff we need to focus on but I’m taking the wins, the little ones, and this is one of them.

The cover for Queen of Spades; Awakening is on All Author and up for cover of the month!

 

Cover of the Month

Queen of Spades: Awakening

Hey Everyone,

I’m excited to tell you that my book has been nominated for the “Cover of the Month” contest on AllAuthor.com. This will help me a lot if I could see some votes coming in, so please remember to vote my book.

Vote Now »

Thanks,
EJDawson

 

Massive shout out to Violeta who worked so hard getting the trilogy of covers just right for me. For those of you who can, get her to do your covers she is amazing!

 

If you’ve got the time please give it a vote, I’d appreciate it!

I wrote a book four year ago when a man told me that if I was writing I should write sex because it sells.

The angry protagonist that came about from that one encounter was not about to put up with that sort of behaviour and I wrote an action fueled scifi romance in sixty days.

But this romance wasn’t about a hero who comes in and makes demands, assumptions or uses arrogance to get his own way. Because Ayla wasn’t going to take that shit from anyone.

It was the first book I was to write in less than a year. It only took sixty days.

At the time I was far outreaching my publishing goals, focused as I was on my fantasy series.

Then last year the time came that I no longer wanted to leave Ayla on the shelf I decided it was time to give her a voice, and a platform on which to do it.

I’d like, very proudly, to announce that Queen of Spades; Awakening will be available on the 10th of April 2020.

 

 

This will be the first book I’ve released in three years, and its been a long journey to get this far but I’m hoping this will be the first of many books to come over the next few years.

As of right now only the ebook is available for order on Amazon, however in the coming weeks the paper book will be available for order, along with other platforms aside from Amazon.

 

I want to thank Jennifer and Heather for spending so much time with this book and helping it be the best it could be.

 

To my sisters and Angela who first thought I had something with this story four years ago.

 

To Marcus and Jennifer who are helping me polish this series to make it the best it can be.

 

And to the man who told me what I should write sex without even listening to what I was writing, who in fact never listened to me, this wasn’t ever for you.

 

This was for my husband. This was for the men who don’t make demands, who can be sexy and strong, while respecting a woman’s personal space. I think you’re hot, and I always will.

I am a coward…

I’m not brave.

 

If I were being honest with myself, I’m a coward.

I fight when I know I can win and I’m defensive when I know I’ll lose.

That’s a hard thing to admit but this week its been so important to be able to say and here is why; you are rarely the presumption you put upon yourself.

 

Discussing the motivations of Letitia to my mother she criticized my analysis of the heroine of Behind the Veil.

 

“Yeah, Mum,” I replied. “Its because she’s a coward. She’s afraid and hiding behind self-preservation so she doesn’t have to face the truth.”

 

“No, she isn’t.” My mother cuts me off, and she’s adamant, she doesn’t give a shit it’s my story, she has her own theory. “Letitia’s so very brave. She’s willing to face what she’s most scared of, what terrifies her beyond all other things, in spite of her fear, that’s what makes her brave. No one else can do this but her, no one else risks as much as she does, and she does the right thing. She’s the bravest one of them all.”

 

I’d never heard my mother talk about a fictional person I created with so much emphasis. Or felt like my cowardness, my excuses, my depression and anxiety, mattered so little. It wasn’t because it didn’t matter. And it was because I was brave.

 

Bravery isn’t when you know you’ll win.

 

Courage isn’t there for the confident.

 

And valour isn’t for those who don’t doubt themselves.

 

But that didn’t change I was all of those things. And none of them.

 

I was a coward.

 

I kept a 9 to 5 job under the conviction that’s what it was to be safe. I wanted to be me, but I had to have someone else’s approval.

 

I was the lion in Dorothy’s story.

 

I was hiding behind the shadow of social media’s self-importance to pretend I had something worthwhile.

 

When all that time I had something more.

 

Do you know I’ve written over twenty books.

 

TWENTY BOOKS.

 

When I do a tally, novellas included, its closer to twenty five books now, but that’s not important.

 

Do you know I found within me the strength to self-publish three when I had no idea what I was doing?

And do you know that they sold well?

 

Being brave and courageous is never about the moments you’ll know you’ll win.

 

They’re about the moments you think you’ll fail.

 

I just quit my job without another one to go to because without details I thought I was doing the right thing. It turns out that wasn’t the case and I still don’t regret my decision.

 

I could be scared, terrified, left wondering if I’ve made the right choice.

 

Like Letitia, the coward. Except according to my mother she isn’t.

 

I’m a coward.

 

But I’ve let go of convention to do something I never thought was possible. I gave up security to find myself, and the part of me that knows my stories *MATTER*.

 

I was brave when the lights went out, the beasts are coming, the darkness has my soul and I don’t know if I’ll ever escape, if I’ve given the light up on a dream that will morph into a nightmare reminding me of all the stupid decisions I’ve ever made.

 

That’s what bravery looks like.

 

That’s what it is, to be a coward… and follow your dreams anyway.

 

The next time you’re scared, the next time you’re letting fear hold you back, you remember this, the grit in my teeth, the panic failure is at my door, and still is, the dread I will drag my life down into fiscal regret and half imagined dreams…

…and despite all this my stories matter. No one can take that away, from me, or from you, so while I’m down here, I’m smiling, because I have something no one else has, not hope or false promises.

 

I have conviction.

 

I am a coward…

 

…but I am still here.

Rising from Darkness

I am super excited to announce that after four years of fighting for this story I will be self publishing my first scifi action romance, Queen of Spades, in late 2020!

 

QoS Cover Reveal

 

Cover credit to the FABULOUS Violeta who has gone above and beyond to make these amazing and true to the aesthetics’s of the books, with a true tone for the power that Ayla wields in spite of what befalls her…

What is it about?

Feel free to check out the page I have dedicated to the story and its characters, as while it is a trilogy the books will be released in short succession.

Ayla is a villain. With a gift that allows her to see when anyone will die, she’s remorseless in her profession as the perfect assassin. When she wakes up in a cryo-tank three thousand years in the future, and no idea how she came to be there, all that matters is survival.

Rescued by Leith and the crew of the Nuria, Ayla discovered a far evolved world of space ships, and galactic colonization. But everything comes with a price, and though Ayla is no princess locked in an icy tower, she still has to pay for the rescue she didn’t know she needed.

Given over to Leith, a darkly handsome man who reads Ayla far easier than she’d like, they must work together if Ayla is to repay her debt. As the pair come to learn how dangerous one another are, so too grows a lustful bond that comes with rules of its own. Fighting to learn why she was frozen, Ayla’s dragged into Leith’s past with a criminal organization seeking to take over this sector of the galaxy. In order to survive, Leith will need Ayla’s help, but Ayla doesn’t know if she’s willing to pay what it will cost her…

QSA collage

 

The trilogy is in its final stages of being ready to polish, in the careful hands of Editor Marcus Vance and Proofreader Jenn Jarrett, both wonderful to work with and have made me super excited to bring a polished piece to you.

 

I am especially grateful to Jen and Heather, my initial CP’s and who have made this story all that I wanted it to be. 2020 has had a rocky start and the people that have helped make this book become a possibility have my eternal thanks and I’m excited for what more 2020 has in store.

 

 

Patreon Page Shenanigans

PATREON

 

 

Yep. I’m doing it.

 

I’ve had a Patreon page set up for over month now I haven’t launched. I have been planning it now for about a year. I didn’t do it because asking people to support me in my writing journey from a financial point of view felt crap.

 

But after spending a year doing nothing but give I’ve come to a point where I need to ask.

 

Why?

 

Because writing is expensive, and it doesn’t matter who you are.

 

There are many accounts for writers, artists and musicians to support what they do and now I’m making changes to my life to be more devoted to my writing career its time to take that leap into Patreon.

 

And in good Patreon fashion there is stuff you get for supporting my writing journey too.

 

TIER ONE: One Word

This will be an video update on the month’s journey, where I’m up with my work, and also helpful tips and advice I put on my blog post will be devoted more now to my Patreons to say thank you. I post heaps of stuff about self publishing, marketing, writing tips, and will always be happy to share with you what I’ve learned, mistakes I’ve made, and what worked.

 

TIER TWO: One Line

This tier gives special access to my Patreon only Discord Channel, where you can join in writing sprints with me, talk about writing, ask questions and generally have a place you can go to that’s solely about our lives as writers, and mine too. It also has the previous tier rewards.

 

TIER THREE: One Paragraph

All previous rewards and an e-copy of my self published books as they come out. I hope you get to be the first to see the kinds of stories I write first off the bat when they are released and I hope you like my stories and writing style.

 

I also have some stretch goals including a Youtube channel to talk about writing, but also to review books and some other fun stuff I don’t normally share.

 

Every cent counts for me and everything goes into getting my work out there. I am a deep believer in making my stories as polished as possible and this by far is the hardest thing for me to budget, as the editors I work with are talented and deserve what they charge on their invoices. But while it encompasses the greater cost it doesn’t take into account all the other things needed to get a book off the ground.

 

I also want to keep encouraging other writers, beta reading and reviewing books and to help build a community of online writers out to support and help each other get their stories down. There is a lot to be said for these communities and I’m a big believer in giving as much as I can of my time and experiences as a writer.

 

Wolf at the Door

Wolf at the Door

 

I’m having a rant. Want to know why? Because people are being bullied. Being threatened. Being made to feel unwelcome and unwanted in the #WritingCommunity.

 

I wish this wasn’t the first time I’ve spoken about how I’ve seen or been guilted in the #WritingCommunity about what I do with my Twitter, Facebook and Instagram pages, but I’d be a damn liar.

 

Anyone who’s followed me would know I have been very verbal on the reasons why I do not follow everyone who follows me.

 

I follow people who interact, who talk to me, who have interesting things they tweet, and some of these people none of you know. I like them, they talk to me, we help each other out. No, I’ve never met them, they aren’t on my webpage, we just have a good connection and I like what they have to say.

 

You know, what social media is for?

 

But when I first joined I didn’t know that.

 

I joined in on these follow trains and met heaps of great writers. And then I met some writers who weren’t so great.

 

So break out the popcorn, and take my hand as I walk you through my most reviled Twitter experience that has made me the person I am today.

 

I had a small following of less than 2k followers about 2 years ago now, when I got a message that went something like this;

 

Hey! I see you’ve got a book out, that’s cool! I do too, we should follow each other!

 

Great! Thinks I, anther person to interact with, talk about writing and books and all that good stuff.

 

Oh, and if we buy each other’s books, we can swap reviews!

 

Wait, no, what? You can’t do that, its against Amazon’s T&Cs I’m pretty sure (I am now very sure and talk about how people game and manipulate Amazon in this blog post based on a personal experience. It also prompted me to give more reviews but be honest about them). I declined the invitation to swap, stating the rules and why I made that decision.

 

Aren’t we supposed to be helping each other? What are you doing if you aren’t helping the writing community?

 

This was before the #WritingCommunity tag had become as prolific as it has now, *especially* in the self/indie publishing industry on Twitter. I felt really bad, but I had to stick to my guns, because if we reviewed swapped we’d get into deep, deep, dodo. I could lose my whole eight reviews!

 

And then it got really scary.

 

If you don’t follow me back and review my book, I’m going to buy your book and give you a one star review and everyone will know what a trash person you are.”

 

Ellen gif

 

What now? You will fucking WHAT?!

 

I panicked. I legit burst into tears and sat there for about an hour debating what to do. Do I break Amazon T&C’s and begin down a dark and twisted path that I’d previously condemned? All to save my measly reviews from being down graded just that little bit further?

 

But I had to ask myself a question. Was caving into the threat going to be worth it? I didn’t want to review swap because of Amazon’s rules, but also because to be honest their book looked terrible. From the cover to the sample read it was clear this person had done little to no work. And I knew they’d want me to give them a great review and I’d have to lie about it.

 

It’s a subject I’m very passionate about, but if you expect someone to PAY for your book you better damn well do what you can to make it the best it can be.

 

My book wasn’t perfect, but I’d gotten a professional cover, a professional editor, beta readers and I had worked my substantial ASS off to afford it all because I wanted to do the right thing. It had taken me YEARS.

 

I dried my tears, girded my loins and said something akin to the following;

 

“Do it. Do it. I fucking dare you.”

 

Go ahead

 

I wish I was that cool. *sigh*

I sent a short apology that I wasn’t willing to involve myself in the communication, blocked him, and then got really freaking angry. And I wrote a tweet about it. I wish I still had it because I was getting likes for it over a year later, but it was something along the lines of THIS ENTIRE BLOG POST.

 

You don’t have the right to black mail people into review swaps.

 

You don’t have the right to bully people into following you.

 

You don’t have the goddamn right to make people feel guilty for following you and those of you that do, you are the underbelly of our community. You are the wolf at the door. You are the corruption, the ones who will cheat to make a buck. You are happy to scare a novice away from Twitter with your lies, your bullshit and your fake famous accounts.

 

People in the publishing community no longer give nearly as much of a shit about your public follower account, and ask me, I know. I have been doing this for years. I have watched accounts with less than a hundred followers get a big five deal and do you know what? I’ve been fucking HAPPY for them because it proves that it doesn’t matter what you do on Twitter, what matters is that you write a good story.

 

Yeah but Ejay, you have like, 12k followers? Doesn’t that make you, like, an attention whore?

 

I wish this was a god damn joke but that was pretty much the private DM I got about 6 months ago I decided NOT to tweet about because I wasn’t going to give THEM the attention.

 

I am grateful for those of you who follow me, I do what I can to enrich and help your writing lives, either with how silly I can be, writing encouragement, sharing my failings, or sometimes, my success. And I try to celebrate yours too. I buy your books, some of you have never heard of me and I buy your books and review them. Self-pub all the way through to traditional. I review them all. I offer book tours and author interviews. Blog posts on my journey, marketing tips, how to get reviews. I do as much as I possibly can and it takes away time from my own writing and editing and I don’t care because I want to help you get there. I genuinely do, and I don’t believe a follow is how you do that.

 

And if you’ve ever noticed in the comps I throw I don’t ask people to follow me to be a valid entrant, because I don’t believe in follow for follows anymore. Yes, you can follow for follow while you get used to the community, but its okay to pick and choose who you follow when you are more familiar with everyone’s opinions and how Twitter works.

 

You should never be made to feel like you don’t belong or that you are alone…

 

You can always reach me, through a tweet, a DM, my website, for whatever you need. I might not follow you, but to be honest all that noise gives me anxiety and I hate muting people. I think its wrong to follow someone and mute them because why are you following them then? No, REALLY, why are you bothering? You follow someone to see what they say.

 

I follow back accounts I know, who I interact with, who’s opinions I want to read, and not all of them follow me. But its my feed, just like this is my social media platform. I will do what I damn well please with it, and while I’m grateful for all of you who do follow me (still amazed), who you follow is up to you.

 

Its your feed. Its your time. Its your life.

 

So the next time you feel attacked, guilty or threatened into following someone, remember this;

 

YOU DON’T HAVE TO.

 

And the person who is making you do it? Those of you out there guilting people? Blackmailing them into following you only to mute them because you aren’t interested in them as a person, and you gloss it up with the bull shit like publishers only take writers with large platforms seriously?

 

You’re fucking lying.

 

Go ahead. Unfollow me. Block me.

 

I dont care

 

But don’t you damn well threaten me, and don’t think I’ll allow you to get away with threatening newcomers to the community. I will speak out. I will not let the real people behind the tag feel like they need to join an amorphous thread of follow for follows for their voices to count.

 

There is so much more to being a writer than to be demeaned by the abstract and unnecessary pressure for a follower count that when it comes right down to the publishing mark… doesn’t matter.

 

Your writing matters. That’s what I’m here for. What the fuck are you here for?

Like A Boss

Hilariously enough this post is not about games, one of my favourite past times.

 

This is about the miserable blog post I drafted last night about finding the strength within with a good cry and some sobby youtube clips because my last week has been awful. On one day I received three agent rejections and two job rejections. So I wrote this post at 2am last night feeling very sober and sorry for myself and I got up this morning and thought… fuck that noise.

 

You have your own songs and movies and stuff you just curl up into a ball and feel fucking miserable and like none of this is going to be worth it and that’s not what you need when you want someone to help pull you up.

 

I’m all about making these blog posts as useful and helpful as possible and sometimes it doesn’t work and other times I’m surprised by the responses I get. If my little snippets of aggressive positivity, especially with these songs, helps you get up and do something today, then that’s a freaking win.

 

Here is my list of the BOSS songs I put on my playlist;

(… you’re going to find out pretty quick how much I love my bass and metal…)

 

[Hardcore] – Stonebank – Stronger (feat. EMEL) [Monstercat Release]

 

TheFatRat, Slaydit & Anjulie – Stronger [Monstercat Release]

 

These are really techno but I find that are a great motivator to just get up and do something!

 

Opening Black Lagoon — Red Fraction (full version) by MELL

Black Lagoon – “Red Fraction” | AmaLee Ver (English Version of the same song)

I’ve included the Black Lagoon opening song for the anime, and while it’s Japanese if you struggle to listen to it (I know some people have trouble liking songs when they don’t know the language) then there is an English version which I thought was very good too! This is an absolutely kick ass song and a kick ass anime.

David Guetta – Titanium ft. Sia (Official Video)

I know its far more mainstream than the other songs but this one is still great, and I’ve loved Sia since she did Breathe.

 

THIS is the song I really return to when things are crap. I discovered this band purely by accident when they did a song called Ari Ari but this was the song that made me become a Patreon. It’s an Indian metal song but the guys and the message behind the song is just pure and they are really lovely, not to mention the song is metal.

 

INDIAN FOLK METAL (Bloodywood – “Jee Veerey” ft. Raoul Kerr)

 

This is by no means all the songs listen to or we’d be here for eight hours.

 

What these songs are is the capacity to just get on with it. They have messages within them that you just put on headphones and dance your damn heart out. Clean the house and make everything as perfect as you can. Do something no matter how many other times its failed.

 

You become stronger when you are at your weakest.

You become brave when you are most afraid.

You get up because you’ve been knocked down that many times you know you can’t stay where you are and there really is nothing else to do but keep trying while you are still alive.

 

However you need to get there, a song, a movie, or just finding someone else who understands, who can give you a hand… or post you a song that somehow makes a difference.

 

I hope my strong songs make a difference to you today, and you can do this, because you’ve lain in darkness too long.

Riding the Ripples

It's a celebration!

 

 

 

 

We talk a lot about writers block and what to do about it. All the different tips and tricks, and outright clownish tom-foolery in order to just sit down and shuffle twenty six letters until we can finally finish the fugly dumpster fire we somehow have to convince people to love as much as we do.

 

Anyone who’s written more than a few pieces, or those *naughty* individuals who edit as they go, know the eye peeling, ear gouging hatred of sitting down to edit your own work. It feels like you’re in a shopping mall on Christmas eve during a children’s party with Daft Punk on repeat; Cut it, paste it, check, rewrite it! Fix it, change it, quick, erase it!

 

You may as well say writers block is like a stroll through The Secret Garden and editing is finding a damn door that raptor claws can’t open in Jurassic Park.

 

*cough*

 

I may be tainted by my experiences of sprint writing all my books in very short order but lets just leave it at this; I don’t get writers block but I have a real issue with editors block at the moment.

 

I recently figured some ways through this and wanted to share with you some of the philosophies that’ve helped me;

 

 

  1. The BIGGEST problem with editing…

 

…is that it never feels like it will end, especially when you see everything that’s wrong. You start with an ocean’s frothing waves and the desire to settle it until its still as a reflective lake. Except your editor is an expert surfer and they are there to make waves. Because glossing over all those reefs of mistakes under the surface of your story is only going to make other surfer readers hit shoals you either covered up or worse, didn’t see. And then they wont come to your beach anymore.

 

So the first thing to do is to fix developmental issues. Plot holes are vortex’s of problems that ripple outward to effect the whole plot. You might end up fixing a bad plot hole only to discover it’s set up effects a sub section of the plot, creating holes where previously it was fine. You might have to do several passes to iron all these out and then you go back to work on other things. Character types/reactions/arc and tropes that don’t flesh out.  World building, technology, magic systems, social customs, religions & politics. A tangled ball of wool from an uncontrollable kitten. That kitten is you. You are the asshat who did that to the ball. The editor has to make a jumper out of that you nonce.

 

There is a steep learning curve the first time you write a book that your first good editor will teach you how to handle. The trouble is there is so much to learn and you’ll probably need a few books for it to start sinking in… or… you know, more than a few.

 

Look, dont look at my book past, I don’t need that pressure right now.

 

  1. THIS IS YOUR WORK

 

You just finished writing/paid an editor/are contracted for a publisher, to go through and find out everything that’s wrong. Those initial first passes you do fix everything immediately incorrect but its when someone else gives you back their edits that it can really become frightening, like receiving a notice the mail from the tax department.

 

But they’ve spent the time polishing it and working out what they think is best and now you have to go back and address all those issues. After you’ve already read the script fifty million times and now you’re currently writing a character’s name when you go to write your own.

 

This isn’t enjoyable, this isn’t even like finding needles in haystacks, this is like shoving both hands into the freezer to find that one tub of double choc ice cream you hid from your spouse. When I get one my scripts back, it’s like one of those horrible rooms in torture porn films even the director decides to cut.

 

It’s still very important that you respond kindly to someone who has gone to that trouble, to examine what they think thoroughly, take notes, and apply it throughout the entire text so that the next time they have to do that (oh yes, editing gets a sequel horror film – and if you’re lucky, a trilogy), it will be easier. For them, and for you.

 

Remember, they are trying to help you do better, to get your story right the way you saw it in your head to the way it should be on the page. The best thing you can do is embrace the changes when they come back to you, that someone understood your garbled dreams and said yes.

 

  1. There is never ONE final edit – resign yourself to having a reader find a mistake

 

For those of you who don’t know me on twitter or in real life or who weren’t paying attention, I am sometimes a little smug vengeful bitch and none moreso when I see a traditionally published book come out from a famous and well respected author that has a mistake…

 

It’s a golden ah-HA! moment that I wont take back for the world, and mostly because it makes them human too, it means they make mistakes, and suddenly an impossible part of whether I can do this too becomes less intimidating.

 

And then I go back to loving the author and thinking their story is wonderful.

 

Its such a small moment, but it proves that they are human and that’s important.

 

This can be quite an envious market, a particular green elephant in the room Ive dipped into for another blog post, but it has relevancy when it comes to editing.

 

One of the key complaints in the self-pub/indie market is the propensity for these mistakes, how frequent they are, and that trad books don’t have that. Mostly because about six dozen more sets of eyes go over the book.

 

And if you are working with more than one editor or person who is actually changing the script, there is no guarantee that the editor is the one who’s made the mistake. (NEVER POINT THIS OUT TO THE EDITOR – I HAVE YET TO DISCOVER WHAT IT WILL DO AND REFUSE TO PUSH THAT PARTICULAR END OF THE WORLD BUTTON). (Also to all my editors… this wasn’t you, this was that other editor, honest, and could you please stop stalking my blog).

 

So there may be mistakes, little things, but if an author has done their due diligence there should be very few of them, or enough to be forgiven and just get on with the story.

 

What bugs me about self publishing is when authors don’t do their level best, and I recently wrote a blog post on the level of editing I expect when I buy a book. Any book. I’ll forgive a few mistakes, or a difference in spelling, or a specific punctuation choice. What I wont forgive is no effort at all to do this, which is why I go above and beyond to do as much as possible.

 

Having said all of that, you will still miss something. A reader will find it, point it out to you. They’ll even be nice about it.

 

And you know what? The world doesn’t end. Trust me. No, shut up, and get out of your end of world bunker!

 

This is a good life lesson too, if you resign yourself that something may go wrong, when it does it ceases to matter nearly as much and you can relearn  how to breath. It was the only way I survived my wedding day and several international holidays.

 

At the end of the day this book is going to be like anything else you do in life; put as much of yourself in it as you possibly can, get outside advice if its not working or you’re struggling, ask for help where you can, and know that it may never be as perfect as you want it to be because nothing ever is.

 

I currently have 3 scripts to edit, 2 needing serious overhauls that are very intimidating, and one that’s just not as perfect as it needs to be given where its up to. I’ve never had an inner perfectionist before I started writing and finding her an adequate gag has proved a challenge.

 

So when I have to go back, to ride those waves of edits that ripple through my books I find that once I’ve sat down to do it one thing becomes abundantly clear; I love my stories. I love writing. I actually do love editing, and it’s no longer about smoothing out a lake, its about riding that wave through the story, back and forth, until its the best it can be.

 

I’ve poured a fantastical tale from my head out of the infinity of nothing and that’s what I want you to see… but my grammar sucks. Maybe you need to flesh out characters. Perhaps someone else has a plot hole.

 

These things are fixable but like learning to sit down and write, no matter what, sitting down to edit is a challenge too. But one of the ways that I’ve found work best, is to remember why I wrote the story in the first place. Why did you?

 

How I F*cked Up

www.ejdawson.com

Rather than respond directly to a series of tweets that were recently hurled at me about why I would need editors, critique partners or beta readers before selling my novel to unassuming readers, I’m going to explain why I do in great detail.

 

And to do this I have gotten up at 5am to trawl through notes made to me about my work over years of novels to show you all how badly I stuff things up. It’s enough to see that I made a mistake, and sometimes disagree with the advice and this is the beauty of advice and reviews; you can choose to take what you want from it. But it is never okay to attack readers for their opinions and its never okay to demand more from them, when they’ve already paid for your work, and taken the time to review it.

 

So I want to use a magnificent piece of feedback from someone very close to me for some of my earliest work and move through to samples of my later work.

I’ve put the actual text from my manuscript in italics and the feedback in bright red;

 

The Well of Youth – written in 2016 after 4 rounds of self editing, 1 round of professional editing;

‘Tomorrow come here. We need waste no time anymore. I bid you and the dean good afternoon.’ Andy didn’t react to the dismissal, he had already got more than this afternoon could have possibly had hoped for given where he started the day.

I think ive gotten a bit lost, has he actually accepted? cause I know he goes, but the commander doesn’t know that, maybe he should say be here by that time if you wish to participate and then scream TALLY-HO and run out the door. Or something.

 

This was not the first comment of that nature, nor would it be the last, and I loved the way this beta gave me feedback, it was always jovial and her other comments made me wet myself laughing in reactions. She doesn’t know it but she’s the reason I leave those sorts of comments when I give beta reading, because I think its important to note when you evoke a good response from a reader.

(Re-reading this old work for me is an absolute cringefest of mistakes and wording, BTW, I would totally rewrite that entire sentence if I could, but I promised it raw and that’s what you are getting).

 

Queen of Spades – written in 2016, betaread x 3, self edited x 3, edited, revised and rewrote whole book in 2019, x 4 rounds of self editing, x 2 beta reads (this book had a lot of work put into it!)

 

Six hours passed and he came and got her, and by then Ayla was ready for the sleep, passing out fully dressed on the bed still warm from his body.

Ayla woke up hours later, curled around his scent, breathing it in.

“The Nuria is here,” Leith said over the comm.

Ayla was quick to get up, put her clothes and weapons back on, and hurry to the bridge.

 

Ayla passes out fully dressed on the bed and then wakes up and gets dressed???

 

Just a simple series of actions that were completely wrong/out of context but it does point out a very easy and fixable flaw that I hadn’t noticed DESPITE READING THIS STUPID BOOK MORE TIMES THAN I CARE TO THINK ABOUT!!! ß this still makes me mad, in case you couldn’t tell, and I absolutely love that the beta reader in question picked this up, and couldn’t be more grateful.

 

Here is an example of something that was said to me that I haven’t got entirely in context but was something of this nature;

 

One With Rage – written in 2019 after 3 rounds of self editing only

Spray; I swear to god there are other words out there for water Eleanor

Repetition is not your friend and I am terrible at it and its one of the first things I have to address with editors (I am still so sorry to you all that I do this), but its ALSO one of the first things I pick up when beta reading work. Repetition is monotonous if not done with specific tact and it can pull the reader from the vision.

 

Running a comb through her hair, with a spritz of mousse, she was scoffing the pancakes at the briefing room, having been the first to arrive.

Is she doing her hair and then going to the meeting room and scoffing down pancakes, or is she sitting in the meeting room doing her hair WHILE scoffing down pancakes? It’s not clear which.

 

Another case of scene transition that did not work well and I pick this up when beta reading other people’s work a lot but also it occurs in my own work as well. I knew what I wanted to do with that scene, but I completely stuffed up the way about it. A quick fix of breaking it into a couple of sentences only took moments to fix what was otherwise a very awkward transition scene.

 

 

Having used these very upfront and glorious examples of how badly I have made mistakes I want to extend these mistakes on to greater overall feedback I have gotten from some of my stories and I’m going to start with the most painful one first.

 

The Last Prophecy Series novella

I wont go into detail as to what was said but I felt like I was being chided by a loving grandparent when an editor told me an ending of my novella needed a lot of work. This is the part where people think editors are some sort of villain there to change your idea into their own idea and its not.

The story in question had reunited characters far too early for the overall series (which is HUGE). The story itself and the ending was all over the place, and I hadn’t given the reader a sense of closure by the time they got to the end. He was kind, honest, and careful but he made it clear I wasn’t just doing a reader a disservice, I was doing it to myself.

That hurt a lot.

It was the BEST lesson to date I have had that I can do better, that someone knew I could do better, and was brave enough to tell me that. I took what it cost them to say that very seriously. I went back and rewrote the entire ending, pulled apart the start to add other characters and what it ended up doing was giving a much more fleshed out character for the following book, so much so that by the time I got to the book the editor was very happy with the story overall and had no major changes.

Why? Because I’d learned the lesson the first time, and used the novella to improve my writing craft so when I wrote the following book it had a far more solid plot.

 

Queen of Spades – Awakening & Darkening

I originally queried Awakening and I had my first full request from a New York agent and I was SO excited that he liked my overall story, but in the end he didn’t like the world building or the concept of Ayla’s power and it wasn’t enough.

Given this was my first foray into querying outside of Pitmad I was pretty upset – but I went back to beta readers to clarify and work on exactly that to make it better.

I also decided to fork out the money to get a professional editor and a wonderful CP, both who have been incredibly helpful.

But both found many mistakes even after all that, and when it came to book 2, my CP said to me that overall I spent too much time in Ayla’s head, and she was absolutely right and I will be working on fixing that.

 

 

I don’t wish to talk about one of the major changes I will be making to Behind the Veil but the editor recently got back to me and I want to sum up our conversation very succinctly over a series of emails;

Ed: I think this might need to be tweaked, and it’s a big tweak, what do you think?

Me: … actually that is dead on, you are absolutely right, I will fix all that, this is how I think I’ll fix it, what do you think?

Ed: Sounds good

 

They spend hours, many of them unpaid, to make your story the best it can be. At the end of the day few of them get a kick back unless you sell well, and you will not sell well without help.

I am often pulled between the self pub/indie author/trad press options before me because I want the freedom for some of my stories, but I also know they need improving, each and every one until the day I stop writing (which will be when I am dead).

I have chosen all three because I want people to love my stories as much as I do, but I am not going to expect random strangers to fork out $0.99 to $20+plus for a book I didn’t spend the time, money, and effort making it the best it could possibly be.

If you are struggling for editing money, ask for beta readers and look at traditionally publishing or trying with smaller presses. Get feedback on your work, learn how to best relay your story to your reader.

If you can afford it and want to take the financial risk, find a great series of people to work with and organise for professional editing and self-publish.

Because in the end no matter your lofty goals, these people aren’t here to tear your ideals down, to make huge changes to your story, they are helping you because they love those things about it, it’s the nitty gritty detail that needs smoothing out. That needs polishing.

It doesn’t matter how often you write, if you just want to get your stories out there post them for free via a website. But don’t attack readers after they aren’t happy with a book they paid for. You made money off their time, they read your whole work, and if they didn’t say something nice about it that might just not be their taste. But if many readers leave less than savoury reviews, don’t attack them.

Ask yourself this really fucking hard question; did you do your best?

And that isn’t about writing the damn thing, or self-editing, its about getting that outside opinion to make your book be the best it can be for everyone, not just for you, and especially not if you want people to hand over money for it.

Don’t do that to readers, its not fair, and you aren’t just cheating the reader, you are cheating yourself.