Above, Leonhard, one of the protagonists of “The XIIIth Hour at Duskland” (short story) and “The Night of Elisa” (illustrated novella coming soon!).
I would like to share my experience of indie author & illustrator, on creating my debut work, a novella born out of a short story + the feedback of amazing readers!
Almost 2 years ago, I was sitting out in the balcony in one of my off days and started drafting a short story which came to my mind.
That short story was “The XIIIth Hour at Duskland”. When I thought it was finished, I looked for beta readers on Goodreads and a few people were kind enough to take of their precious times and good will to Read my material and provide honest feedback.
From that precious feedback, I changed several things in the manuscript. The essence of the story was the same, but I changed something to fit to grammar rules, cut words which didn’t fit for the characters and timeframe and so on.
I even put it for sale on Kindle and Smashwords , as an experiment. I wanted to know how the self-publishing engines worked, and how would be the general feedback of the readers.
Most people thought the story had grammar issues, it meant, no matter how hard I tried to improve it in this aspect (specially, when English is NOT my primary language), it really didn’t work. Lucky me, one of my readers were also an editor, the one I am working with to this day, Clare Diston.
She edited the text, and all grammar issues were gone and the story was presentable. Still, readers were complaining they missed more explanation behind the facts (short stories focus on actions and plot, different from a novel or novella, where you have room for characterization and details). The readers wanted to know more about the main characters, what triggered the events we read in the story and so on.
It was clear to me I needed to do something about it and listen to the “vox populi, vox dei”. So, during the last semester of 2013, I decided to turn the short story ( 8.5 k words ) into an illustrated novella ( 55 k words ). The initial idea became a beautifully illustrated Gothic Ghost story, divided into 7 chapters, where the settings are better explored and the characters have more time to make themselves living.
All thanks to the fantastic readers and curious people who takes time to read first time author stories and provide honest, constructive feedback! I learned a lot during the process, and now I have a better, more attractive product to offer, to give back to those who helped me and new readers.
I gave a new tittle to the novella (The Night of Elisa), it is all done and edited, now I am finishing painting the concepts and illustrations and preparing the manuscript/design for the publishing market.
The big learning for me as indie author was: LOVE the people who give you 2 and 3 stars (and even 1) if they are being honest in their feedback. Because that feedback can help you take your work to the next level, learn and work on a better product for your audience! In no moment I felt down when I got low rating, on the contrary, I knew each low rating on my short story was worthy a chest of gold!
Hope this story can inspire you or at least, give you some insight!