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Monday, March 28, 2022

How Many Self Edits Are Necessary for a Manuscript?

    An author should perform as many self-edits as needed in order to display the best possible product on marketplaces online. It usually takes me no more than five complete self-edit cycles―one cycle entails the corrections, refinements, and insights of the manuscript from the Microsoft Editor first and use of the Red Aloud feature last. I use the Editor to clean up the grammatical errors that I make and use the Read Aloud feature to listen for the mistakes that the Editor doesn’t catch. Once I run this cycle five times, I then feel confident enough to upload my polished manuscript on Amazon.

    The next question is whether to hire a freelance editor to proofread your work―a second set of eyes, so to speak. Well, that’s entirely up to the author in my opinion. However, it’s been my experience that most of the freelance proofreaders that I’ve used in the past weren’t any better at catching mistakes than I was, and ultimately, I felt like I was throwing money away in a sense. Microsoft 365 Family has taken away the need for a freelancer, and in turn, saved me a lot of money overall.

    Self-editing a manuscript is an unavoidable step in insuring an author produces a novel worthy of their loyal readers. Avoiding this step and placing the responsibility of editing solely on the freelancer is at the discretion of the author, though I wouldn’t recommend it.

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Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Authors Must Do Research Before Setting the Scene of a Book

    This is a quick tidbit of information in regard to writing fiction―authors must research a particular place, time and/or environment when creating the plot of a book. The setting should capture the attention of the reading audience from the beginning, and if an author chooses to write organically without doing their due diligence in order to help make a book be as realistic as possible, the entire narrative will fall flat.

 Place of Setting.

    Let’s say that the story takes place in a city that’s somewhat familiar to the author―the initial setting of one of my next books titled Summer in Nola begins in New Orleans, Louisiana, for example. I spent a lot of time in New Orleans many years ago and even lived there for six months while I tried to figure out what to do in the next phase of my life. However, further research on the city was totally necessary for me to bring the narrative of this novel to life. The main character lives in the East Bank, but certain details about that neighborhood are fuzzy at best. I eventually needed to refresh my memory of the East Bank via Google Maps.

Bourbon Street in New Orleans

 Time of Setting.

    New Orleans was an exciting place in the summer of 1996―there was the ever-popular Essence Festival, and Bourbon Street and the French Quarter were the place to be back then. One could also bank on the weather being scorching hot as well―a weatherman’s job was the easiest job to have because the temperature was always ninety-two degrees every single day with a ten percent chance of rain in the forecast. These are the type of details that are vital to an attention-grabbing storyline.

 Environment of Setting.

    Even though New Orleans was a great place to be at times, the vibration throughout the city as well as the entire country was a dangerous one because one would think that the environment was peaceful at first glance. However, drugs were running rampant all over the East Bank as well as the whole country during the summer of 1996. The murder rate was also extremely high―I remember that Tupac was killed in Las Vegas toward the end of the summer that year. This is the most important facet of setting the tone of a book because the environment paints a vivid picture of the backdrop as readers will get a glimpse of what life was like in the mid-90s in the bayou.

    A writer must present these elements in the setting of a book in order to give readers the sense that they’re actually there where the story takes place. A setting without specific details is likened to food without the proper seasoning―all that you have is a bland meal lacking flavor and substance, and the reading audience is guaranteed to dismiss the book altogether when certain components are absent.

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Thursday, March 10, 2022

Final Update on My New Book Release Titled Vanished

My latest book titled Vanished is now available in the Kindle eBook version for pre-order on Amazon for $3.99, and the launch date for eBook and paperback book is March 27, 2022. The regular price of the paperback book price will be $7.95. I would kindly appreciate your feedback on my new book in the near future, and honest reviews are most welcome on Amazon as well. Customers like you inspire me to keep writing urban fiction stories on a regular basis, and please feel free to contact me at: markstephenoneal@gmail.com. Thank you.

New Release: Vanished

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Friday, March 4, 2022

The Price of a Book Plays an Important Part in the Customer’s Review

    I used to think that the length of a book played a major part in whether or not the customer enjoyed the book. However, that’s not necessarily the case in most instances because I would soon discover that short story fiction is a popular genre that has generated many book sales for me. I also learned that when I started tinkering with the price of my books, it had a direct effect on my customer reviews.

    There’s a direct correlation between the length of a book and the price―if the customer feels like the price is too high for the length of a book, an author is more likely to receive a negative review. For example, my bestselling book titled The Root of All Evil was an instant hit with my readers―racking up dozens of four-star and five-star reviews. The demand for this book was high, so I began to adjust the price of the book in order to increase my bottom line. Big mistake! The book is eighty-three pages in length, and my original price of the book was $6.95. I had subsequently lowered the price of the book to $5.95 and saw a skyrocket in sales, and then I got ambitious and raised the price of the book to $7.95 in an attempt to widen my profit margin. This proved to be a costly error in judgement as I began to receive negative reviews as a result of this price adjustment, and the same thing happened with a couple of my other books.

    A fine line between a positive and a negative review from a customer can be as minute as a one-dollar price adjustment. A reader will ultimately trash an author’s book if he or she feels like they paid too much for it―even if they enjoyed reading the story. Finding that sweet spot in price that will benefit both the author and the reader isn’t an easy task, but the bumps and bruises incurred as a result of price experimentation is worth it in the end once consistent monthly sales are achieved.

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My Two-Year Stint as an Uber Driver

     At the beginning of 2016, my entire life was in shambles―my marriage was on the rocks, I was a temp at the law firm that I work full-ti...