The 8 Fates of Okteveos is getting major rewrites at the suggestion of beta readers.
Parts of the anticipated book are going back to the second edit process which could delay the release by several weeks. J. Tordsen explains.
I am going to delay the release of The 8 Fates of Okteveos based on the feedback I received from beta readers. I use a self-edit process and to ignore the feedback from the beta readers is ultimately self-defeating. As this is my first foray into novel writing, it is worth taking the extra time to make the manuscript the best it can be.
What did the beta readers say? In a nutshell, the first half of the book was too much of a lift for the readers. So much so that one reader even began skimming and missed some important details that helped make sense of the story in later chapters.
In fairness, I have only been working on this book off and on since about January 2023. Ten months of work on a novel that might take years to write is better than I expected – especially considering how slow I type.
The original release was planned for October but with the delay, a new release date has yet to be determined. Gigabooks Press will announce the new date once it becomes available.
This is an excerpt from The Gigabytes Guide to Writing Second Edition on sale in paperback and e-book on this site.
The first thing to know about writer’s block is that the condition we call “writer’s block” is not unique to writers. When software developers experience the same thing we don’t call it “programmer’s block”.
The second thing you need to know is that is isn’t real. Seriously. It is not an ailment, a condition, or an affliction. You won’t find it in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual as a mental disorder however, you can find a book written 30 years ago called Understanding Writer’s Block: A Therapist’s Guide to Diagnosis and Treatment. The first sentence of the blurb?
“This innovative book explains writer’s block as a symptom of a larger disorder.” Source: Google Books
Allow me to save you the time reading this 195 page “only to find out you aren’t crazy” book. Yes, writers and creative people can get stumped sometimes and we call it writer’s block because some Austrian psychologist living in New York named Edmund Bergler coined the term in 1947. Yeah, Bergler. Not Hemingway, Bronte, or Verne. Source: ncbi.nim.nih.gov article PMC7965145
The long and the short of it is that writer’s block is a symptom of a larger issue. While chronic writer’s block may be caused by a mental disorder, your writer’s block may just mean you are tired, sick, or need a new source of inspiration. In other words, rest or do something else for a while. (Incidentally, have you watched the British version of Ghosts? I bet you haven’t.)
Pro Tip: There is literally no rule saying you have to write as the reader will read it. If you are feeling stuck at a certain point, stop writing, create a new document, and start writing a section that you are more inspired with. You can fill in the gaps later. It may even be easier to do so because all you have to do is connect the dots.
The good news here is, not only do you not have to write in sequence, what if I told you that you don’t have to write parts of your book at all?
I often skip parts of the writing and just make notes in brackets like these: <insert yet another joke about Ghosts on Paramount+>. I also use markers like xxx to bookmark the spot where I leave off writing and editing. Those marks are not often used in writing, so you are able to use your word processor’s search feature during editing to search for these sections and fill them in.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (of Sherlock Holmes fame) anecdotally started with the end of his mystery books and wrote the plot backwards. Plotting backwards is a legitimate technique used by mystery writers. So, you are allowed to skip around when writing your saucy romance novel (we all know what parts you really want to write anyway).
This is an excerpt from The Gigabytes Guide to Writing available on this site in paperback and e-book.
Let’s start off by calling it what it is: a large language model chat bot. Not only is it not artificially intelligent, it is well known for making factual mistakes and outputting terrible writing. “AI” is effectively a marketing term.
The temptation to use chat bots to write some or all of a work is great for any writer – particularly if they are struggling. Without getting into how these systems actually work, my advice as a writer and as a technologist is: Don’t.
The reasons are, quite frankly, both numerous and serious. First off, copyright law is not settled when it comes to chat bots and writing. If you let a chat bot write any part of your work for you, it is entirely possible you could find yourself on the end of a lawsuit over the rights and royalties to your work by the company that developed the chat bot. As ridiculous as it sounds, these companies may legitimately have a case against you.
Second, there are many publishing houses that will ban you if you try to submit a work that was written by AI – even in part. This could limit your audience and publishing options.
Third, flooding the market with poorly-written, self-published dreck – even if human edited – hurts the entire writer / reader community. If readers spend their hard-earned money on a terrible book that isn’t up to standards, then there is the potential to lose that reader forever. One bad book can be dismissed as a fluke, but if book after book is terrible, a reader might wonder why they are wasting their time and money.
Finally, if you can’t write for yourself, put this book down now and find another hobby. For example, I hear this show, Ghosts, is pretty compelling.
This is an excerpt from The Gigabooks Guide to $0 Publishing that was written in a special section called Author’s Aside.
The biggest issue I have with hybrid/vanity publishers is that they will tell you how impressed they are with you or your proposed work and that they would LOVE to publish your work but you have to ask them: “If you like my work so much, where is your investment in me?”
I had one quote for $49,000 for a publishing, distribution, and marketing package. I talked them down to $15,000 for the same package but at that rate, I would have to sell 1700 books to break even and there wasn’t even any sort of guarantee of success. They simply said “our other authors did well with this package”. That’s not a guarantee and a line I have heard many times from other hybrid publishers.
If they really believe in you or your work, do this: Demand a guarantee of sales within a specified time frame based on the break even cost of the package. I know that is a mouthful, allow me to explain.
If it takes 1000 book sales to break even, ask if they can guarantee – in writing – that you will be able to sell 1000 books in 6 months. If you do not sell the books, the percentage of unsold books will be applied to the cost of the package and that amount refunded.
In other words, if you get a guarantee of 1000 book sales in 6 months to break even, but only sell 800, 20% of the cost of the publishing package should be refunded to you under the agreement.
This is the kind of investment all hybrid publishers should be able to do if they believe they have an effective marketing system. This guarantee is how you get them to invest in you and your book. It will also weed out the outfits simply trying to take your money.
I ask this of advertisers and media consultants all the time.
The Gigabooks Guide to publishing is available here. Find the e-book here.
The next guide has been announced and will be The Gigabooks Guide to $0 Publishing.The book will be released on Gigabooks Press in paperback and e-book August 29th, 2023 with Amazon Kindle and Google play to follow shortly thereafter.
The best kept secret in the modern publishing landscape is that you don’t need to spend a single penny pursuing your dreams of being a self-published author – well, except maybe picking up a copy of this book. This publishing system is one that few authors know about and even fewer use. J. Tordsen used this technique to publish The Gigabytes Guide to Writing and details exactly how to do exactly what he did in this new guide.
J. Tordsen, author of The Gigabytes Guide to Writing, independently published the book in 7 days for absolutely $0. In this guide, he will take you through the complete process of publishing your own work with little or ZERO cost.
An author’s name is a brand and the the book is a product. The more money you put into the product, the more you have to sell to make that investment back. Keeping costs as low as possible makes making money on your book faster and easier.
The Gigabooks Guide to $0 Publishing takes you through all of the most cost-effective writing, editing, publishing, and marketing strategies available to the modern writer. Along the way, J. Tordsen will give you advice based on his own personal experience dealing with the publishing process as well as scam artists and vanity publishers – and how to deal with them once and for all.
The Gigabooks Guide to $0 Publishing is a comprehensive template for new and established authors to save tens of thousands of dollars on the publishing process.
The 8 Fates of Okteveos completed its second edit. Then, the SD card that holds the working copy of the book physically broke in half during a routine inspection of the laptop hardware. This could have been a total disaster were it not for an aggressive backup policy in place for the work. In all, 4 levels of backup are in place to protect J. Tordsen’s writing.
Sadly, the first automatic backup of the work failed and he lost about 3000 words of the upcoming novel. Fortunately, nearly half the book was in the hands of early BETA readers after the second edit was completed and the 3000 words lost were in the sections that hadn’t gone out yet.
This meant those sections had to be re-edited. While the original second edit is lost forever, we can look at the word counts and get a sense of how the book has changed since the data was lost.
The following table shows how the book’s word count has evolved through the writing process.
4 – 5
Okteveos Word Count Table
Section 1: This section was in the hands of beta readers and comprises half of the book. The reason the word count is slightly off is because this section had a slight edit based on the BETA reader feedback. It was essentially a simplification of the introduction that was lost with the other 2nd edits.
Section 2: This is where things start to get hard. As I went through the section again, I would come across part of the manuscript where I knew I expanded a section to add detail, but I couldn’t remember exactly why that was. Then there were other sections that were obvious and I easily filled it in even though it wasn’t exactly done in the same way as before.
Section 3: The process of going through the sections knowing that this edit was not going to be the same as the previous was a bit defeating. I tried to lean into it by making the this edit better than the last. It helped but the demotivating factor was always there.
Section 4 – 5: This is where tracking word counts really helped. This section was always an important section which made it easier to edit. The fact I was able to add much more detail than even the previous edit was very satisfying.
Section 6: The same could be said of this section. I was able to add more detail that contributed to the general quality of the read. I think it was generally improved.
Section 7: This is the climax so I had the goal of getting close to the 2nd edit word count. This was how I measured the success of the new edit in this case. Oddly, despite losing a few hundred words, this section is largely unchanged. The second edit only added more detail from the first but the plot and flow is the same.
Section 8: Whenever there was a loss in word count, it always made me think I missed something. I spent hours going back over this section thinking that I forgot something. I didn’t. The ending changed and was better integrated into the story. It ended up being more succinct with fewer plot holes.
While the book lost 1100 words, some sections were greatly improved. Because I tend not to overwrite, It was a matter of remembering the additions I made in the previous edits. For the other sections, I have to trust the editing process to help fill in the gaps that couldn’t be filled for whatever reason. The third edit I read out loud to myself to help catch inconsistencies in the story. If I added content because of an inconsistency I didn’t catch in this edit, it should shine brightly in the third.
J. Tordsen uses a multi-layered backup system.
Auto Backup: First, Auto Backup is turned on in LibreOffice. This is not the same as Auto Save. Auto Backup creates a second file in another location automatically every time the file is saved. In this case, as he works off of an SD card, it creates a backup file on the main system. This is a feature that must be turned on in LibreOffice.
Flash Drive: A manual backup is also done to a USB drive.
Cloud: If Internet is available (it isn’t always available everywhere he writes), a manual backup is made to Google Drive. This protects against bag theft where someone steals the entire writing kit. A process to automate this system is being looked at.
Server: Finally, the work is backed up to a file server.
Process: Yes, even the process can be a backup. In this case, sending out to BETA readers saved half of the manuscript.
Despite this, accidents can happen and no system is completely foolproof. There is also no set system for backups. Three locations is the general rule for best practices with one location in the cloud. Regardless, the system that works for you is the best system.
The 8 Fates of Okteveos has completed its second edit and author J. Tordsen has been tracking word counts throughout the process.
The following table shows how the book’s word count has evolved through the writing process.
Change Edit 1/2/Total
4 – 5
Okteveos Word Count Table
Section 1: The first section is consistently the largest part of the book, however, during the first edit, a massive 2000 word chunk was deleted to move the story along. In the second edit, some detail was added back in but the overall length is about 1000 words down from the original draft.
Section 2: This section grew by nearly 50%. Detail needed to be added consistently as the other sections took shape.
Section 3: It was the least developed story in the draft. After the first edit, very little needed to be added to it.
Section 4 – 5: Section 4-5 are combined for a very good reason in the book. While not a lot of detail needed to be added, it need to be added consistently like section 2.
Section 6: This section was probably the most developed part of the book. Edit 1 involved some corrections but by edit 2, the story was polished enough where it only needed a small edit.
Section 7: This is the second largest section of the book and where a lot happens. It also needed massive edits to tell the story properly.
Section 8: The rest of the book leads up to the events at the end so, any changes here almost require changes elsewhere in the book and vice-versa.
As you can see, the book started out smaller and grew as the story was refined. Most of the time we hear about authors “over-writing” a manuscript and the tug of war that happens between the editor that wants to cut it down and the author who wants to keep every word. This is not how J. Tordsen writes.
“For me, the story has always developed in editing. The rough draft is, well, rough. While I am not afraid to cut out entire sections out of a story to make it flow better, on the potter’s wheel of writing, I only start off with enough clay to make an ashtray before adding clay to build up the story into a vase. I have a short story I wrote decades ago and I have revisited that story many times over the years to re-edit it. With each edit, it got better and more detailed. If anything, I under-write a story.”
A call has been put out for beta readers for the upcoming The 8 Fates of Okteveos.
Author J. Tordsen is looking for beta readers for his upcoming novel, The 8 Fates of Okteveos, a supernatural fiction novel written as a series of short stories with an overall story arch connecting them all. Readers will be invited to read some or all of the sections and provide feedback to the author. Those who complete one section of the beta reader project will be given an ebook copy of the finished product. Those who beta read for the entire novel will be given a special paperback copy of the novel signed by the author.
This announcement coincides with the new Beta reader program hosted by Gigabooks Press. As stated on the Beta reader application page:
Beta readers are an important part of the publishing process at Gigabooks Press. Beta readers get early access to some or all parts of an unpublished work to critique it and provide the author with useful feedback.
There are no prerequisites for being a beta reader apart from a willingness to read and provide the requested feedback. As long as you provide the appropriate details, acceptance into the program is a given.
How it works: An author will invite you to beta read their manuscript based on the information provided in your application. Beta readers can then accept or reject any assignments they are invited to. The author may provide incentives to complete their particular beta read. Gigabooks Press facilitates the program but does not have any bearing on who is invited for a particular beta reading assignment or what incentives are provided that is entirely up to the author.