Write A Better Book
Accountability. It will help you write a better book, but are you putting it to good use? On this episode of The Author Inside You podcast we interview Author Cain MacBeth who explains how he used accountability to complete his book while on summer break.
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110 Cain Macbeth
[00:00:00] you're listening to the author insides you podcast, a weekly podcast designed to motivate you to finish writing a book, choose a publisher, and have your work build an audience. Keep listening if you're looking to get propelled into the next chapter of your life. And now it's the author inside you podcast with your host, Leah and Matt Rafferty.
[00:00:26] Hello and welcome to the author. Inside your podcast, I met Rafferty, Rafferty. Joining us today is Kane Macbeth, author of the mystery thriller, 10 mile Creek. Welcome Kane. Thanks for joining us today. Thank you.
Thanks for having me on. Well, Kane, why did you become interested in writing mysteries? You know, it's funny, I never, and I guess it is kind of a mystery.
[00:00:46] I kind of described this and this . A mystery thriller laced with a bit, a little bit of horror, because I can't make up my mind, you know? But, um, I grew up just loving, you know, those types of stories, whether it be Stephen King or [00:01:00] something on the Twilight zone, or HP Lovecraft, Edgar Allen Poe, and. You know, eventually your brain works enough to, you get to the point like, Hey, maybe I can try that as well.
[00:01:08] So I guess it's mystery in the sense that Poe is mystery, but not necessarily in a sense, like a classic Sherlock Holmes solvent tightness. So when you, when you started writing it, did you come up with an outline and say, I'm going to have this many characters and this is the basic. Storyline actually, it came about, it's kind of a strange way.
[00:01:27] It came about a few years before I wrote the book. I got involved, my wife and I actually got involved in the teeny ology. I think a lot of people are kind of getting involved in that with the ancestry stuff. And we start digging and we got obsessed of course. And you know, it's like this brand, like generational scavenger hunt.
[00:01:43] And we started going through and of course, you know, I like to collect things. So I had to collect like as many pictures of ancestors as I could and. And a gray stones. You know, we wanted to find the, uh, the burial place of everybody. And you know, some are easy to find and some are like trading cards.
[00:01:57] They're really rare. We used to take our [00:02:00] priests to take our kids to like cemeteries when they were young and give them a dollar. Could the, could find all the people. I mean, it's kind of. Long story short, cause I could talk about genealogy a lot, but basically it came down to about seven or eight generations out.
[00:02:12] I could find the grave, the burial place of every single ancestor of mine, with the exception of one. Wow. And it's, that's a whole other conversation. But let's just say. I've talked to professional genealogists. I've tried. I mean, this is years and years and years, and this truly is a mystery, and I'm not sure I'll ever solve what happened to my great, great, great grandmother, Lydia.
[00:02:33] But in the process, I kind of felt like I needed to come up with a way of explaining it. Uh, maybe just for myself. Just trying to fill in the blanks and, uh, I kinda came up with a sinister way, but you know, the story just kinda came into my head and I thought, okay, well maybe, I doubt that's what happened to her, but maybe it did.
[00:02:50] And it was a fun way to, kind of, a fun way to explain it. So that's kind of where the seed grew and I just kinda came up with some characters to send around the idea and kind of went from there. [00:03:00] Wow. Your relatives from before did not realize how they would be guiding you in your future. Right, right.
[00:03:06] That's pretty cool. So you wrote a family history so well, and there's a lot of stuff that's actually, you know, somewhat autobiographical because there is actually a house that I discovered in Washington, Pennsylvania. That's a pretty revolutionary war. Uh, I mean, it's just a shell of a house now, but it's still there on the land and there is a little cemetery on the plot that's very difficult to get to, but it has relatives of mine back to the, you know, late 17 hundreds and I kind of tied the two together.
[00:03:36] I thought, what if there was a teacher, a couple who happened to inherit this house because their next of kin that had no idea that even existed and they decided to kind of go off the grid for the summer, fix it up, take their daughter, and you know. Basically live here, live off, not live off the land, but just restore this house.
[00:03:53] And you know, when they get there, kind of strange things begin to happen. And this character gets obsessed with his [00:04:00] genealogy. And of course there's one person he can find and it kind of goes from there. So it kind of parallels my journey, but in the more fictitious way. Hi. I think that's a really interesting story.
[00:04:10] And we saw when we were looking at Amazon, we were able to see that you have a lot of reviews in one person said they want to see quo. Yes, that's, yeah. You know, I actually have a SQL kind of in mind. It's kind of outlined. It's just a, you know, it's the time. To devote to it. I'm kind of an all in or nothing kind of guy.
[00:04:28] So if I devote to run a marathon or if I devote to starting a podcast or I want to, you know, write a novel, everything else kind of shuts down. So I had to prepare, went around me and you know, I kind of just do that. So as soon as I get to that point where I feel like it might be this winter, cause you know, winners here in Ohio, there isn't a whole lot to do.
[00:04:46] A good time. Knock this thing out. So then you kind of just told us what is your writing process? Yeah, it's funny. I know I mentioned Stephen King and he's one of my inspirations and he does something that I can't do and I doubt few writers can do, and that's just [00:05:00] kind of start a story and just let it grow as he goes.
[00:05:03] And I think sometimes he suffers at the end. Sometimes the Indians are a bit weak. Um, not all of them, but that's maybe one thing I criticized. Uh, I have to, I have to outline, and the hardest part for me is coming up with a story. So I will take a lot of time just, just driving. I won't write anything down.
[00:05:19] I'll just develop a story in my head, develop these characters, begin to kind of play it out in my head. And once I get to a certain point, I'm like, okay, I think I might have something here. Then I kind of start writing these things down and it begins, it takes shape. But I used to, I used to teach writing awhile ago and I would tell my students, you know, it's kind of like building a house.
[00:05:36] You know, you don't want to just get some raw materials start hammering away, cause you're going to get $5,000 into and realize, well, okay, tear it all and it takes so much time and money. And so for me. If I can get the story and get the outline and get everything the way I want it, then it's kind of like plug and chug.
[00:05:52] Then things still change along the way and I, you know, it's not exactly the same as my outline, but I feel like if I had this plan, I know it's going to get somewhere at [00:06:00] the end is going to be somewhat satisfying, at least for me. And I'm not going to be left with, you know, months and months and months of time and nothing to show for it.
[00:06:06] Well that's impressive that you can think of the story in your head and then later on, go back and remember it and write it down. I think that if I thought up a story, I'd have some characters in my head, and then by the time I got to the grocery store, I'd forget who the characters were and what the story was.
[00:06:21] A lot of stories that circle around up there that not, you know, nothing really happens. And sometimes they combine and sometimes it just starts with a character and kind of goes from there. But yeah, I mean it's just like finally something takes hold and kind of gets a little more. You know, space up there, and eventually I feel like, okay, maybe I should do something.
[00:06:38] But sometimes it's a short story. Sometimes it's a novel idea, you know, just depends. Right. So then when you wrote 10 mile Creek, what was your process like? Was it just a sitting down and writing eight hours a day, or, I actually wrote a screenplay of it first, believe it or not, because. I was, I've written a few screenplays too, and at the time I was kind of in that mode and I thought, Oh, this might make a [00:07:00] pretty cool movie.
[00:07:00] So I wrote the screenplay and I showed a few people that I know, and then kind of like the story and, but you know, you know how it's difficult to get anything. Sitting there and myself up right now. But I thought, okay, well, you know, I had this outline. Let me do something with it. Maybe this could be, cause I, you know, had never written a novel.
[00:07:18] I mean, I'd started many novels, just never had the discipline, never made the time. And I thought, okay, I already have the story. We basically have the outline. So I'm just gonna use this to guide the writing process. And I mentioned I'm a teacher, so I have the luxury of having the summer off, which is nice.
[00:07:33] And one summer I just thought, okay, this is, I tried to make a summer goal. For myself and my summer goal that summer was, by the end of August, I would have a completed novel. And so I'd start, but you know, sometimes it was 10 pages a day. Sometimes I wasn't feeling it. Sometimes I would write, you know, four or five hours and get locked in.
[00:07:50] And it just kinda depends. I don't have like a fast and. Art role for it, but, um, it was a, it was an interesting process, but what, what really kept me going was accountability. Uh, I have a [00:08:00] friend who, you know, was gracious enough to agree to kinda read it as I wrote it. And so I'd finish the chapter and I would send it off to him and he'd give me some feedback and I, and this process went on, and eventually, I think it probably hit 4th of July and I kind of lost some steam.
[00:08:14] Quit writing for about a week or so, and he wrote back, he's like, you can't leave me hanging. Like I know what happened. That's good. So I continue to like it and finished it and uh, I have him to really thank for that cause he kept me on task. That's great. So when you were getting the feedback, were you going back and changing what he suggested or were you just plowing forward to get it all completed and then go back?
[00:08:35] I wouldn't mind. Might make some small changes or I just make some notes. So when I went back for my revision, I would catch them at that point. I can't remember if you found any major problems. I mean, of course if there was something major going on, I'd have to kind of go back and fix. But since I had the screenplay finished and most of it works pretty well.
[00:08:51] You know, it was probably like minor things that I went back. It was more, he was very helpful, but it was more the accountability. Just the fact that he kept writing in saying, okay, what's the next chapter? [00:09:00] Gave me a reason to keep going. And you got it done that summer? Yeah, I did. I mean, it's not a long novel.
[00:09:05] It's like 260 pages, you know, 60,000 would just sound like that, but, uh, you know, it's, it was, it was doable. And I had the time and like I said, the story was there, so you don't have to really worry about writer's block or anything. I kind of already copied. So congratulations, because just because you have the time doesn't mean that it won't actually happen.
[00:09:22] So you actually had the drive. To finish that. So I get a little obsessed with the genealogy. So once I put my mind to something, usually I'm pretty stubborn about it. Most of the sugar in that, those around me. Well, that's what's nice about people who actually accomplish their goals. I think also is that sometimes something possesses you, like you said, it's in your mind and you have to get it out right.
[00:09:45] It's like. There is a purpose for this in my mind. I need to write it down and share it with others. Yes, and that's, that's the key there. You said share it with others and that's been probably the best part of the entire process. I mean, really writing isn't always fun for me. Coming up with the historic is fun for [00:10:00] me.
[00:10:00] If I get on a terror, like I said, and it was, you know, it's going, it's flowing, it's fun. But sometimes it's just like, I read some analogy that that writing, you know, once you've come up with your outline is pretty much like. Yeah, I have a stack of logs over here and you pick the lugs up and you walk through the side there room and you drop them.
[00:10:15] And it's pretty much this back and forth. And sometimes it kind of felt like that too. And so when I was finished, I was kind of relieved. And then it's the idea of, okay, I'm going to show this to some people and see what they think. And you know, friends and family are very gracious, even though you tell them, please be honest, to know they're going to.
[00:10:30] So when I finally put it out there and published it and began to see reviews from strangers, complete strangers that really enjoyed the story. That was the vindication, and it's just a matter of, Hey, you know, I put something out there that somebody else enjoyed. They, you know, enlightened their weak or they had a good beach read, or, I mean, it's not, it's not to kill a Mockingbird.
[00:10:52] That's the joke. That's subtitle. The book was not kill a notch. It's a fun, almost like the movie dime [00:11:00] store type. Kind of Paul feel to it. I mean, it was just meant to be fun and to maybe be a little bit spooky and to kind of string people along. And then that seems to be the reception that most people had.
[00:11:10] Not all of them. You know, there were a few in there that didn't quite quite enjoy it, but I suppose you'll get that with any pressure. I mean, there's every, anything, it's going to get a negative review. It seems like the majority of the people did like your book in one person even. Compared to your book to Stephen King.
[00:11:24] Yeah. That made me feel pretty good that he said something to the effect of, you know, which makes sense because that's like one of my biggest inspirations. Right. I read them all the time, so I'm sure a lot of that comes, comes out on the page. But yeah, if it feels good, I think it's, I mean, it's not a huge sample size right now, but other reviews are there, I think could retest close to a hundred but it's still above four.
[00:11:45] It's like 4.2 and so you kind of sit back and say, all right, you know, I don't totally stick this. And you know. Hey, people kind of enjoying it. So maybe, maybe I should write another one right now. It seems like it. Yeah. No [00:12:00] matter where you are in your writing process, we have a wonderful resource for you.
[00:12:04] It's called scuba file, and you can find it at dot com so what is scribble file? It is a place where you can post your writing and get detailed, insightful feedback from other writers and how to improve it. You can also chat and discuss with other writers around the role to see what they have to say about your work.
[00:12:24] We all know that networking is very important. Then you'll be meeting like-minded writers and there's even fun writing contest where you can win great prizes and you can educate yourself on the finer points on the craft of writing. There's a writing Academy and a writer's blog. No matter your writing style or genre, there's a place for you on scuba file.
[00:12:46] The nice thing about scribble file is that they give you detailed instructions on how their community works. You might feel overwhelmed with the writing process, but you're not going to feel overwhelmed by joining this community. So if you're looking for beta [00:13:00] readers or some critique of your work, check out scribble file at dot com it's S, C R I, B O, P, H, I, L e.com.
[00:13:10] Scribble, file.com what came when you finished with the manuscript? Did you hire an editor. Actually, I did not, you know, a lot of it. I went back myself and you know, I teach, used to teach English and I'm not a perfect great, but you know, I was able to catch a lot of stuff, but you can't catch everything.
[00:13:25] You know how it is. You know, my wife was gracious. I have to read it. And um, she, you know, she made some notes and I think I had a couple of other English teacher friends that did the, the big, the biggest help I think was when I finally, I put it on Amazon and I got some draft copies. And I had a few friends and coworkers that were interested in reading it and I said, okay, that's great.
[00:13:45] I got some copies for you and here's a Sharpie. And as you go through it, you see anything, a double bird or misspelled words, something doesn't sound right, you know, circle it. And I think there were three that I circulated. I probably had maybe four or five people that read through it. [00:14:00] And then that was the next process was going to reach one of them going through my, you know, a manuscript and making those changes.
[00:14:05] And so. You know, it's probably not 100% clean, but it's probably pretty darn close to this point. Oh, that's a very interesting how you had your beta readers. You've got the rough drafts from Amazon. That's very interesting. I think. Well, it's a little more exciting, I think, to read an actual book or the cover that looks like a book as opposed to, you know, this huge stack of, you know.
[00:14:27] Printed pages, and so I agree more likely to read it that way, which seems to be what happened. Now, if I write another one, do I go back to the same people or do I find out about events if you are happy with your friends or not. Right, right, exactly. Exactly. Well, Kane, how did you decide to self publish your book?
[00:14:45] Well, you know, after I finished, it kind of sat on my computer for a little bit. Right? I thought, well, I need to do something with this. And again, I had no idea if anybody would really want to read it other than my friends. And I thought, well, I'll try to get an agent because I've heard these days. I mean, if you don't [00:15:00] have an agent, you know, the New York publishers aren't even going to talk to you.
[00:15:03] And so, which makes sense because you know, the agents kind of do the vetting for the publishing companies and kind of works for them. So I went through, I found an actual database online. It was kind of neat to go through and put the genres and so on, which kind of gave me a list of pair down and. And then I sent some stuff out and got to know the agents as well as I could and what they represented.
[00:15:24] You know, a lot of people never got back to me. And then there were some that got back to me and requested the full manuscript, and then they're, you know, maybe two or three that came back and gave me feedback. None of them were interested. Well, one was, was interested that you kind of wanted me to. Make a lot of major changes and I just didn't, maybe I was too lazy or I didn't where I was just happy with the way it was.
[00:15:43] And so I think for her interest and that somewhere, you know, someone that might go back to at some point, but I finally, you know, after about a year of doing that, I thought, you know, I, I used to believe there was a stigma for self publishing that's kind of like, well, you know, if you're good enough you can find a [00:16:00] publisher.
[00:16:00] But then I began to realize that's not the case. And just like with music. Um, you can put your stuff out there and you can find an audience and you don't have to go through the traditional media. I mean, I think it, I think the watershed moment was when, I forget what movie it was, but there's a, there was a major movie with Matt Dame and then it come out and I found out that it was based on, and it was sold from this self published book.
[00:16:20] And I thought, okay, so there's definitely some legitimacy. Yes. And so I thought, why not? Let's throw it out there. At least it gives me an opportunity to see what strangers might think of it. And so that's kinda why I went down that road. And when I found how simple it was, and it literally cost me nothing but my time, that was the key.
[00:16:35] I don't have to put any money up front. I had all the tools to, you know, upload and get the manuscript looking at me the way I want. It was kind of a different process with the ebook and ebook I did first, and that was out there for about six months, and it took me awhile. I think it was maybe another summer that I spent.
[00:16:51] Because with the publish with the paper back yet, the line up, the gutters and the headings and the page numbers, and that was a whole new process. I had to learn a lot of printing stuff. I had to [00:17:00] learn. And, um, but then once I did that and got, you know, a lot of those copies back and print proof those. And, and that was kind of fun too.
[00:17:07] But now if somebody wants, you know, I buy some author copies and give them away, but if somebody really wants a physical copy, they can order one and have one too for the bookshelf. From speaking to other authors, we are learning more and more that self publishing seems to be the way. To go because you can have more control.
[00:17:26] You get more of a profit and you're not waiting for someone else to say you're okay. You find your audience and with, um, more opportunities to find your audience. It's self-publishing seems to be the way to go right now. Yeah, no, I agree. And I suppose maybe my line of thinking was if I get a good enough response online or I get a little following, which has not happened, but should that happen?
[00:17:47] You know, now if I go to an agent, I can say, Hey, you know, I've written something or written a few things and you know, I have people that, you know, kind of like what I do and you know, maybe you can give me a shot. But, uh, at this point, really it's just, I just [00:18:00] enjoy doing it. That that's the most satisfying part was just being able to hear.
[00:18:03] Feedback and you know, find out people enjoyed what I did. And you're lucky to get feedback because a lot of people we speak to do not even hear any feedback. So congratulations on that. Also, I read somewhere that like one out of every hundreds of reads a book on Kindle will actually leave a response.
[00:18:19] So if that's the case, a lot of people apparently read the book and were great. Just very nice. But also what's nice with the Kindle, not only do I have the book up there, but they have the Kindle unlimited, which is kind of like the Spotify for books. You know, I guess you pay a certain fee per month and you can read as many of those books.
[00:18:35] And again. My objective wasn't to make money, is just to kind of do something and get it out there. So I thought, Hey, why not? You know? I mean, I still get a percentage of the profit share or whatever, but it gives people an opportunity and then they have the free promotions, which are great. So about every three months I'll put it out there for free and you know, I might get 500 people.
[00:18:54] You know that day, download it. And so I suppose I've, maybe I have a lot of reviews just because I've kind of flat [00:19:00] flooded the market with availability. Right. So I don't really know that much about the, the free unlimited or giving the book away on Amazon. How does that work? Well, basically, you know, you have to be exclusive with Amazon, so I can't put it on Barnes and noble or some of the other sites mopey or whatever.
[00:19:17] But you put it on. Oh, Coby. I think the name of it. Anyway, you put it on a, and you're exclusive to Amazon, so you basically promise not to sell it anywhere else. And then they give you certain tools. And one of the tools is a, I think you get in the three month period, I think they give you five days where you can give it away for free to kind of generate some buzz.
[00:19:35] And what's nice is when I do that, I actually get up in the rankings. I think last time I got number six, I mean it was a pretty. You know, specific niche. It was like paranormal, paranormal, mystery, horror or something or other, you know, and I was up there, but, uh, but at least people saw it and downloaded it.
[00:19:52] So that's that. Those are some tools. Now, I did take a time where I took it off Amazon and I tried some of the other services, like Barnes and Nobles [00:20:00] and so forth. And, uh, you know, I didn't, didn't have a whole lot of activities, so I figured, well, it seems the audiences there, um, I went back and went back exclusive, but you know, it's every three months you have the choice.
[00:20:10] Either continue or renew it. Great. And so is that your main motive promotion. Yeah. That, that, that, and, uh, just some social media stuff. You know, I have a Twitter and an Instagram and Facebook, and I need to do a much better job of kind of just putting things out there to kind of stay in the consciousness of people that follow it.
[00:20:29] But, uh, you know, I can, you know, like this podcast I could put out there for people who follow and I don't have a huge following, but there's, there is feedback. I got a response back to someone who actually lives in the town where the book is set because it's actually based in a real place, which then really kind of made me paranoid.
[00:20:48] Cause I didn't expect anyone to read this. I hope I didn't offend anybody. I hope I got all the facts right and so forth. And they were very, they were very, um. Complimentary of the book. And I said, well, how did you even [00:21:00] hear about it? And they said, well, their librarian, uh, actually came across it somehow and she shared it on Facebook.
[00:21:05] And so a lot of people in this area, small town, are reading the book. And this was kind of strange because, um, I guess it's in their library, in this little library, in this town in Pennsylvania. And the library is actually in the book. There's a librarian character in the books kind of comes full circle.
[00:21:23] It's kind of a strange, surreal. So now I have to go back and visit and see the book on the shelf and just kind of feel like, Oh, that's kind of neat. They would probably be very right. Come and speak or sign books, write a book, signing a parade, something. Yeah, yeah. Yes. Well, that's another thing that we authors tell us is that that opportunities that you don't even think about open up.
[00:21:47] You know, like, like you just said, there's a library in Pennsylvania who has your book and. Just let other people know about it. And I'm sure their cities very air town is very happy. Okay. And what about somebody who is listening in thinking [00:22:00] about writing a book, what kind of advice would you have for them?
[00:22:02] Prepare for, you know, a lot of work. Uh, it's not easy. I mean, inspiration is easy. I can't tell you how many novels I started, you know, and wrote 15 pages in one sitting and thought, Oh, this is great. I never went back to, again, these are all cliches, but they're true planning. You know, once you get to that point where, you know, like I said, I have that point when I know and you just got to start writing, sit down and keep that information organized and keep working through it.
[00:22:26] And it's kind of an instinctual thing. You'll, you'll kind of know when you feel like, Hey, this is something we're putting time into. And then once you get to that point, it is, it's just kind of a, a grind. It's not always a grind. Sometimes it's fun, but sometimes it's not. And I suppose it's saying like anything else, training for a marathon or.
[00:22:42] Going on a diet or learn a musical instrument. Um, it's, you know, there are ups and downs and that's why the accountability piece was key for me. So I would say find somebody who, uh, whom you trust, who keep you accountable and, and kind of a fun way and, and set a goal. Again, another cliche, but I set a goal.
[00:22:59] I said, [00:23:00] I'm going to be finished, you know, three months before I go back to work. And I'm very stubborn. That's my personality. And so I was going to, you know, do that no matter what. In fact, near towards the end. Well, I'd say halfway through the summer, I wasn't really that far into it, and I remember telling myself, I said I would finish it.
[00:23:17] I didn't say it had to be good, you know? So then I just plow through and finish it just so I could say I got it done. But what that did was allow me to not really judge so much and be so reluctant and just kind of put it out there. Great advice. Thank you. How can our listeners get in touch with you?
[00:23:34] Macbeth, Kane, uh, at gmail.com Twitter at Macbeth, King Kane, Macbeth on Facebook and Kane. Dot. Macbeth on Instagram. And then, uh, like I said, you can find the book on Kindle and Kindle unlimited and on Kindle, it's the ebook as well as the paperback version. If you want a physical copy. Great, and you can find all those links right in the show notes.
[00:23:59] Excellent. [00:24:00] Well, Kane, thank you very much for being a guest today on the author, inside your podcast. You brought a lot of great advice and some great stories too, so thank you very much. No problem. I really appreciate the opportunity. You can find us on Facebook at the author inside you. We'd love to hear from you.
[00:24:15] Please leave a post and let us know what you think about our podcast, or you can go to the author inside you.com and contact us there too. It'd be great to hear from you. And until next time. Right on. Thank you for listening to the author inside you podcast with your host, Leah and Matt Rafferty.