Before I decided to do this as an e-book, I was preparing it to be newspaper columns. In fact, as I've mentioned before, the first four were published by our local newspaper as part of a guest editorial program. I received good, if limited feedback. I stopped submitting them when the editor in charge of the program left, even though the program continued. I kept writing them for a while, accumulating eighteen separate columns, though a couple of them probably weren't really done. When it was a newspaper column, I aimed to have 500-750 words.
Now that I'm doing it as an e-book, I have no restriction on word count. What was an individual column is now a chapter. The only limit is how many words I would consider to be "history in sound-bite sized chunks." I consider that between 1000 to 1250 words. So I'm expanding those eighteen chapters to full length, as well as adding columns. I think I have seven or eight more to expand. I found, as I worked through many documents, that they deserved multiple columns/now chapters. I thought I'd do them widely separated, then decided to do them in pairs. So I'm adding chapters within the eighteen already written as well as at the end.
It's time, I think, to get this in the hands of some beta readers. I've contacted some by e-mail, receiving positive responses, but I need a couple of more people. A beta reader could be another writer, or an industry pro who has a critical eye. Or, they could come from the target audience, the people I hope to sell books to. The things I'm interested in are:
- Is this a sound concept, i.e. the idea of breaking USA history down into small segments as the chapters do?
- Is it likely to have commercial success, i.e. would you want to buy something like this?
- Is the writing any good? I have a very thick skin. If someone says my writing is crap, I take that as useful criticism and attempt to do better.
- Does the chapter complete a thought, or is the reader left hanging wondering "why the heck did he bother to write that?"
- Any of what we call "in-line" comments are appreciated from a beta reader, but certainly not expected. This could be anything from: identifying grammar errors; catching typos; pointing out some bad writing in the midst of otherwise good writing; pointing out incomplete thoughts, where I might have meant to say something more, was interrupted while writing, then never came back to it.