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Dilemma: when does a novel need a family tree?

I am in the editing phase of my fifth novel. It is the stage at which my editorial team are reading through the early drafts and giving me their initial corrections. But with this book, I find myself faced with a new dilemma. My series of books are mystery thrillers and often revolve around family secrets and past lives becoming gradually unravelled throughout the novel.
Yet I have received feedback from some of my readers (not the majority) that they would like a family tree at the start of the book. Now, I like to respond to the requirements of my readership and I have taken this suggestion very seriously. In fact, I’ve spent the last two days producing family trees for the first few pages of this new book. However, upon reflection, I am feeling reluctant about adding it. As far as my books are concerned, they tend to revolve around the unfolding of hidden truths. If I lay out all the details at the very start, it will actually detract from people’s enjoyment of the tale. Worse than that, it might give away elements of the plot. My editors all seem to agree.
Sometimes, we have to accept that the whole story won’t be revealed to us until the very end, by which time all will become crystal clear. Patience and perhaps the occasional need to flick back to an earlier section of the book for clarification are required. But this will be more than repaid by a genuine shock and thrill at the conclusion.
If I make the mistake of promising a future surprise to my nine year old daughter, she cannot rest until she knows what it is. I try hard to persuade her how much better the experience will be if she has no idea of what is coming. Sadly, it is often without success, although, I’m hoping this is a trait she will eventually grow out of!

I think I have already decided. The book will remain as it is. I must resist the urge to spoil the natural evolution of the plot. We, as readers, may be occasionally unsure of where the road is taking us, but we should have confidence that the author is leading us in the right direction. All writers want their readers to enjoy the journey, as well as reaching the final destination. Sometimes, less is definitely more.

Tips for using the new pre-order function on K.D.P

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I’ve just finished a full draft of my fifth novel, ‘Memorial for the Dead’. From this point, it will take me another 2-3 weeks to complete the editing process. The jacket for the book is already designed and ready to go. This puts me in the perfect position to submit my book for pre-order on Amazon kindle. This function has only been available for a few weeks and it’s excellent to be able to utilize it.
So, what benefits does having your new book available to pre-order really confer? Well, you can build up publicity for your new title ahead of the release date. This means that when your book becomes available, it will get a decent number of sales on one day which helps to boost your profile on the Amazon system. This will make your new book more ‘discoverable’, which is the key word in on-line publishing these days. Pre-order has been a tool available to conventional publishers for quite some time, so now that self-publishers and small publishers can use it too, it helps to even out the playing field. Which is good for consumers, as it keeps prices for e-books competitive.
I have completed the pre-order process today and can report that it is straightforward and painless. You use the ‘add new title’ button on you bookshelf page and fill in the details as if you were uploading a final version. The screen then gives you the option to use the pre-order service, so you click on this.
Now you are ready to upload your cover thumbnail which, as always, needs to be in JPEG format. All details of the specification are available on the help bars.
What you may not be expecting, is that you will need to upload a full draft of your book, although you can make it clear this isn’t the final version for publication. You can then view your draft on the digital downloader, this is a real bonus, as KDP use their spellchecker on it, and you can review the kindle format at this early stage, which should shorten the editorial process.
Once you’ve uploaded and checked the draft, you save and continue to the pricing page. This you fill in as normal, ‘publish’ and then you’re all set to have your book available for pre-order.
Top Tip: You will be asked to set a date for when your book will be available for purchase. KDP will then insist that you get your final version submitted by 10 days before that date. So make sure you’ve given yourself enough time for all the editing. Obviously, Amazon want to give a release date they can guarantee, so ensure you’ve allowed enough time for the polishing up of your final draft. This is a function you should really only use if you are very confident of the timescale. Make sure you have at least one full draft finished before you even consider going for it.
This is a great new function which I shall look forward to using with my future books. Good Luck!

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