Indie Spotlight on Sci-Fi Military Suspense Author, William Alan Webb

Nick Angriff’s ultimate enemy finally takes the stage and the 7th Cavalry will never be the same.

Operation Overtime has come through its first winter in post-Collapse America in better shape than expected. Food is plentiful, the city of Prescott is healing, and there’s even a battalion of new recruits for the Marines. Everything seems to be going Angriff’s way, until people start trying to kill him again.

When the aggressive Chinese send an armored force to capture old America’s largest tank farm, Angriff can rally only desperate measures to stop them. But first he must crush the traitors both inside and outside of Operation Overtime.

Angriff must rely on others to do what he has always done for himself. As the body count mounts, he has to determine who he can trust and who wants him dead.

In the tradition of Standing The Final Watch and Standing In The Storm, traitors, assassins, and secrets explode in a rocket-powered roller coaster called Standing At The Edge.  You’ve been warned. (Standing At The Edge, The Last Brigade Book 3, continues the saga of Lt. General Nick Angriff and the 7th Cavalry, which began in Standing The Final Watch and continued in Standing In The Storm. Standing at the Edge is available for pre-order and officially releases on January 18, 2018)

The writing’s done, now what?

I majored in Creative Writing in college. You’d think that would give me insight into writing, right? I forked over all of that tuition money, sweated blood churning out stories for my classes to read, critiqued tons of bad fiction, much of it by my professors, then smiled and told them how awesome it was, even when it sucked.

That last part was mandatory if you wanted to pass.

I did everything I was supposed to do, graduated, and then got slapped in the face with the reality that everything I’d just learned was useless.

There are some great writing programs out there, but not the one I took. Instead of learning things like don’t edit until you finish or don’t think you can edit your own manuscript, I learned RULES. Not examples, mind you, just the rules.

For example, I was told show, don’t tell. Sounds pretty fundamental, doesn’t it? But what does it mean? I wasn’t taught that part. Or don’t use adverbs. What? Wait, aren’t they part of the language? Such questions earned me contemptuous glares. So I followed the rules and produced nothing significant, which led me to quit writing fiction for twenty five years. When I forgot the rules and just wrote, I produced a beast. I had written the first draft of a 164,000 word book! Yay, me!

Now what?

Every writer who has ever finished a manuscript faces the question of what comes next

Many authors suggest you now put the first draft away for a while, with the idea this will allow you distance to be more objective when you read it. And there’s merit in this approach for many, maybe most, but not for me. I dive right in.

I start with beta readers. A beta reader gives you objective and sometimes painful feedback on your work. They are almost never your mom, siblings, friends or cousins. You need the brutal truth, not “I really liked it.”

Beta readers are your single most valuable asset as a writer. Cultivate them, pamper them, worship them (not really). But most of all, listen to them. I send my beta readers the first draft, others wait until later. Whatever works.

After the beta reader feedback I’m ready to start polishing the manuscript. The first things are the author edits, starting with content. This is where you make sure everything is consistent, all of the storylines match up, names are the same, etc. Nothing will kill a reader’s willing suspension of disbelief faster than overlooked storyline errors. This is also where I do most of my rewrites. Once that’s done, the author does a timeline edit. (Some books don’t require this, but my military SF relies heavily on synchronicity so for me it’s mandatory.)

Next up is the line by line edit. Maybe some authors enjoy this. I don’t. I hate it. I hate it more than I hate liver. But it must be done and the worst part is that you don’t do it just once. You do it as many times as you can stand doing it. For me that’s usually twice. Now comes the first point where most authors make a huge mistake. They send the manuscript out or, worse, publish it.

And then they get to read review after review about the bad editing. So here’s what I wasn’t taught in college: a professional editor is a must, be it a freelance editor or one at a publisher. What’s more, not all of them are good at their jobs, so sometimes a writer has to search until they find one that fits their work. I know one writer whose first novel desperately needs a good edit from a pro, but he says that he can’t afford it. Truth is he can’t afford not to find the money.

Then comes the cover, which is probably the least understood part of the process. If you have a publisher like mine to design it for you, and they’re good at it, it can sell a lot of books for you. The cover of my first book did just that.

On the other hand, if you wing it you might not sell any books at all. The writer who told me he couldn’t afford an editor also made a huge mistake in his cover. It is a beautifully rendered pastel drawing that does not have the name of the book or the author’s name on it.

Yes, you read that right. What’s more, the thumbnail looks jumbled. There’s nothing to indicate to the reader what the book is about, or even who wrote it. This is something else they didn’t teach me in college…covers matter.

And not just the artwork itself, either. The layout matters, the fonts matter, the colors of the artwork matter. Everything matters, and it takes a pro to recognize when it’s right.

The biggest takeaway for the cover is that when you find an artist whose work sells your books, never let them out of your sight. Marry them if you have to.

If you’ve done all of this well, your book is ready for the most important people in the world, namely, your readers.

 

William Alan Webb (Bill) lives on four acres in West Tennessee with his wife of 40 years, Kathy, 8 dogs, 3 horses and a cat. To say they’re failed foster pet parents would be an understatement. When not writing fiction Bill writes military history, does the housekeeping (he considers dust bunnies more pets, but his wife doesn’t), burns a lot of food attempting to cook and mows the grass whenever it gets too high to see the house. Fortunately for him she thinks he’s cute.  If you’d  like to learn more about Bill you can visit his website, follow him on Facebook,  and follow him on Twitter.

 

3 thoughts on “Indie Spotlight on Sci-Fi Military Suspense Author, William Alan Webb

  1. Bill. I liked your article, and the excerpt from your latest book. I can relate to what you say about those writing classes that don’t teach the valuable things you need to know. Fortunately, in my case though I had one great writing teacher who did not just spout useless in a pompous, haughty manner. haha I think probably the most important you give us is to get beta readers and an editor. I also hate the line by line proofing, but it’s crucial to avoid careless errors.

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    1. Thanks of the response!

      I agree Rose, not all writing courses are counter-productive, I just got lucky. But the structure most colleges use to teach creative writing is, to me, all wrong. And I had one teacher whom I greatly admired, we even co-wrote some stories together. It was only later, when I’d matured as a writer, that I realized he had a fatal flaw which prevented him from ever selling more than one novel.

      Like

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