I'm a little annoyed at myself for not being able to completely finish Chicago Shadows 2 to get it out to beta readers. On the up side for them I will probably manage to finish both 2 and 3 together so those that are going to plough on will get a double helping.
Now that I can consider the beta of CS1 dead and buried I can reveal something to my beta readers that they did not know. They were all part of a small experiment upon the effectiveness of my "Manuscript" software. It is not super-scientific but, of my seven readers, four were given a version of the file that had been through the extra editing layer of Manuscript. Three were given a file made from the manuscript before it had undergone the process.
I have received feedback from three out of the seven beta readers. All three had been given the manuscript that had been reworked using my software (the other person with the "genuine" beta manuscript thought I had written a game manual and apologised that he didn't know much about English so would probably not read it... I did try to explain that if it needed proofing I would have gone a different route but hey ho). None of the people who were given the "alpha" manuscript actually finished it at all. A couple said they were having some problems sitting down to it, time being what it is.
I can't say for certain but I do think that the difference in manuscript appears to have had an effect. I would definitely identify several things about the alpha manuscript that needed fixing, not least a profusion of things having "been" something else, "seeming" as if something being "just" something or being "like" something. In 55,000 words these four words occurred somewhere in the region of 200/250 times each in the alpha. None of them occurred more than 100 by the time I'd finished.
I do believe that sometimes a reader can't put their finger on why they're not getting into a book, they believe it's something they would like to read but they just can't seem to get their head round it. It is entirely possible that having repetitive use of tenses and concepts could well contribute to that feeling. I know that the text that came out post-Manuscript was more dynamic and purposeful. The feedback numbers would appear to bear that out.
Thankfully not all the feedback I received has been glowing praise (although it scored above average on all the scored questions), the chief bugbear is that even given the "Manuscript" spit and polish the manuscripts still need an extra pass purely for proofing. The other thing is that, over my time with my new editing program I have become a better editor. Now I can see all manner of grammar snafus that I couldn't see before. So vol 1 is back on the block for one final tread through, which is slow and painful going but all part of the process.
Nobody said self-publishing would be easy. In fact everyone says it is hard. Harder still if you have become determined to do everything yourself.
CS2 and 3 have had the benefit of a trip through Manuscript, then I read the finished article aloud to Sue and bookmarked in my e-reader any part where I spotted some heinous error. Then I did a final review until I have produced the beta. I know they're a lot cleaner than the supposed beta of Silent Majority that I put out there. Hopefully the proofing score on my next spreadsheet will be a bit higher.
I had better go and get on with Nano now but, to leave on a positive I have managed to design covers for the CS books which I shall now reveal in anticipation of their release, er, sometime before Christmas... Here they are, hope they do the job for which they were designed i.e. I hope you all now want to read them: