Switching gears on Becoming a Man

On Wednesay, the first round of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award was posted. I didn't make it. Now, I'm sure there are a lot of reasons, but it just happened to be there and it pushed me to complete something that didn't have a deadline. I'm glad I submitted, less than glad that I didn't make it past the blurb.

Beta Readers

I had two people offer to beta read the novel for me. And, to my complete surprise, both responded in less than a week. Which is great since Flight of the Scions only had about a 50% return rate and the average response was three months.

I'm sure part of it is that BAM is only 70k words instead of 200k. And I focused on 2k chapters instead of 6k. Not sure if it did, but I think it helped with readability (and my problem with writing too many words).


One of the two negative feedback was the title. "Becoming a Man" is apparently rather bland (yeah, I can see that) and one of the beta readers felt that it would cause people to miss what ended up being a very intresting story. So, I'm open to changing it. The suggestions I've gathered/created so far are:

  • Becoming a Man
  • Sand and Blood
  • Shimusògo Run
  • Chasing the Spirit
  • Becoming Shimusògo

I think they all have potential. I'm just gathering opinions and I'll probably end up renaming it in the next week or so. If you way to say something, feel free. Otherwise, I think it is interesting since all of them highlight different aspects of the novel.

Mostly, I'm looking for what would attract someone's attention enought to pick it up.

The problem is that I don't pick up books based on title. Mostly, I pick up based on the person interacting with me, recommendations from friends and trusted people, and covers that don't involve women in uncomfortable positions.


The biggest thing is editing. As I mentioned before, the novel was put on hold because I couldn't afford to get it edited. Well, that changed in the last week or so and the funds opened up. So, I think I have enough to get it professional edited. We'll find out. I have a couple emails sent out looking for a good-quality editor (mostly via recommendations).

The biggest things is the beginning is a trifle slow. I have a reason for it, but I need someone to look at it and help me tighten it up. The other is the Spark. Having two complete strangers beta read and get back in a week is great, it means I've almost hit that spark, but I think an editor can help keep it going.


I know what I want the cover to look like. It is closer to the older style covers that I like, but I also dislike having people in uncomfortable positions on the front of books. I don't know why, but I can't see "motion" when it comes to pictures.

So, I decided to go with my favorite styles of art instead. The current plan is to do an ink and watercolor of one of three scenes in the books. Since I already have eight books planned in this fantasy world (2.5 of them are written), having a consistent cover style would be cool, and it would remind me of going to visit my father (which is where I fell in love with ink/watercolor drawings).

With my other byline, I had a lot of trouble with consistent covers. The illustrator is fantastic with drawing but just as horrible at producing stuff. It would take me a year or so just to get the cover out. If I expect one novel a year, it would be unreasonble to ask the same person to create a cover eight years running. So, it comes down to reliablity. If I can improve my drawing skill enough, the cover illustrator will always be available.

Like all my plans, I have contingencies on this one. I'll find an artist and not worry about the consistency.


This is the "pie in the sky" goal. I love typesetting books. I love fonts almost as much as I love writing. I like the process of getting everything to fit, coming up with the proper XeLaTeX to make it look slick, and even coming down to figuring out the kerning on glyphs. So, if I'm going to make the cover, then why not also do the fonts?

If I did, then every part of the book (except for the actual printing) would be done by me. I think it is possible, but difficult. I'm willing to try it, just for the challenege, but also because I think it would be cool. And, I do pride myself in being a broadly-skilled individually.

On paper, it sounds simple. I need about 70 characters of one font and 30 of another. In reality? Well, I don't know, but I want to find out. And, if it fails, I already know what I'm going to use.


The book is already in EPUB and MOBI form (except for the cover). That is now part of my build process, and I feel pretty good about that. I can say it is "done" at this point.


I do not function without deadlines. I don't know why, but I need a timeline to work with. When I didn't have one, nothing gets done because I always have something else to work on.

My original goal was to have everything done by WisCon. Mainly because that is the next convention I'm going to. Unfortunately, if I go with the editor that someone I trust recommended, I probably won't make that since their schedule won't allow anything until May at the earliest.

Given that, I'm going to aim for ICON which is in November.