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Losing my voice to Author Read Alouds

I just realized today that my last post was on February 7th.

When I committed to writing every week, I hadn't even started the revision process yet. As I talked about it here, it was a truly shocking experience and blew up my entire work schedule. I had to dig into personal and family time to work on my book over evenings and weekends.

But a month?? I am still a bit surprised so much time has actually passed.

The time I invested in revisions was totally worth it, and with some feedback from beta readers I really felt proud about what had been accomplished so far. I did not think there was more work to be done.

To me, submitted to copyediting (CE) was taking all the chapters, dropping it into a word document and emailing it to the CE team.

When my marketing revisions editor (MRE) told me to budget two weeks for it, I started to get a bit worried. Why would I need so much time?

It took longer than I thought

My first real aloud took a WHOPPING TWELVE HOURS.

One of the estimates given to those in the book program that for a book of around 40,000 words, it should take about 6 hours to read it aloud.

My book was already closing in on 50k words, so I planned about 8 hours to factor for that.

Boy was I completely off.

"Read Alouds" is a process in which you read the book aloud. Not in your mind, but actually say the words with your voice. Act out the characters and their expressions.

When you do a read aloud, you start seeing issues with the ways the individual sentences connect with each other. And with how the paragraphs and ultimately chapters connect.

I needed to repeat this process AT LEAST TWO MORE TIMES.

Quickly I came to understand why I was asked to budget two weeks to do this.

It made the book much better

As you go through preparing the book for copyediting, you are comparing it now to actual books on the shelf. I had to share my perspective with my MRE on how I wanted the layout of the book to look like. Here are some of the things I worked on:

  • What would the style of callouts be?

  • How should I best organize the parts and chapters of the book to be visually pleasing to the reader?

  • Where should I place images in the text?

  • Specific to my book, how do I layout the recipes into the text?

  • Which elements of my book should I bring into the text?

  • How should I think about formatting my tables?

  • What elements should I use for my interior images to tie them together across the book for a more cohesive story?

Losing my voice

By the time I completed three read alouds, I had clocked over 25+ hours of speaking.

I like talking, but not that much. And I certainly started losing my voice.

I guess I transitioned from reading aloud to whispering aloud towards the end of the third book.

Some of the changes I made were minor, but truly transformational. By working with my beta readers, I was able to:

  • Revisit the introduction and make it much more impactful.

  • Repackage and organize the last few chapters of the book to make it super clear what the concept of Gangsta Vision is, and how one can not only manifesting for themselves, but also spread the movement and lift others up.

  • Address individual chapter titles to give the reader to better understand the teachings.

  • Fix a whole bunch of consistency issues that were in my blind spot before.

Should I have done this sooner?

Once I completed the submission to copyediting, my immediate thought was that these two weeks probably contributed to over 70% of the quality of the book.

Prof. Erik Koester was quick to correct me and bring me back to the "building the house" analogy.

Think of when you look to purchase a house. Do you tend to value the staging, furnishing and look and feel of the house more than the infrastructure (foundation, plumbing, heating, etc.)?

We tend to do that, and so yes, this last stage polishing of the book felt like it was most valuable.

The truth is that it just wouldn't be possible without a good foundation.

Yesterday I submitted the book to the last stage, proofreading and was rewarded with early access to my book covers that I can't wait to share with my author community.

I'm really excited about getting this book in the hands of readers in May 2022.

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