Posted by author on 1/5/2021 10:56:00 PM
Happy New Year! I hope everyone has been staying safe and following the advice of medical experts during this trying time. With any luck, the outlook will be much brighter as 2021 progresses.
The pandemic has brought its share of hardships. For me, it's yielded at least one positive. Being stuck at home more often gave me time to finish the rough draft of Beyond Existence (BEX), the final book(s) in the Beyond Saga (more on that ambiguous plurality in a bit). Below, I talk about the forthcoming story, my publication approach for it, the estimated release timeline, and what comes next.
Beyond Existence (BEX) has been the most complex, challenging, and rewarding work of fiction that I've written to date. It consists of many viewpoint characters, both familiar and new. It also covers multiple interconnected time periods and timelines. I've also done my best to include deep personal stakes for both Maya and Brooke, something I arguably did a better job of in book 1 compared to books 2 and 3. You will find that while the final chapter of the Beyond Saga ties all of the previous books together, it has particularly strong tie-ins to Beyond Cloud Nine (BC9).
Clocking in at over 190,000 words in draft 1, the story will probably hit the 200K mark by the time it's finished. Given the high word count, I'm going to consider splitting the story into two separate books. I haven't made any firm decision yet. But if I do slice and dice the story into two parts, they would be named Beyond Existence (BEX) and Beyond Everything (BEV). I haven't yet done the math, but I'm pretty sure publishing two books would be the better fiscal approach in terms of profit per book and overall sales and page reads. However, BEX is really one story, not two. Hence, should I designate two separate novels as book 4 and book 5, or book 4 part 1 and book 4 part 2? I need to do some research to determine the best approach.
Regardless of whether the story is published as one book or two, it will all be edited, beta read, and proofread together. If two books, I would release one shortly after the other. Thus, readers eager for the conclusion wouldn't need to wait very long.
When will I publish the story? Being realistic, it's probably going to take me the better part of 2021 to edit the first draft and compose the second draft. I need to build out the characters, add details, rewrite scenes, shore up plot holes, fact check, etc. By late 2021/early 2022, I hope to send the story to beta readers and the editor. That process will likely take the better part of 2022. Then comes at least a couple months of proofreading. If everything goes according to plan, the story would be available by late 2022 or early 2023. As always, those possible release dates are tentative and subject to change. Maybe I can publish the story more quickly, but it's just as likely to take longer than advertised.
Regardless, this is an exciting milestone. The fates of the characters and fictional world I've created have been determined. The core or skeleton of the story is complete. Now, I can start putting the meat and skin on the bones. I can also start designing and hiring designers for the cover (or covers, if two books). That's always a fun part.
What's next for me after the Beyond Saga? First and foremost, I do declare that I'm never again going to write anything as complex and long as BEX. While gratifying, it's been mentally exhausting and time consuming. And I don't want to go five years between every new release.
Fortunately, the next stories I plan to publish will be easier and breezier. I've started writing the first episode of Bears in Space (BIS), a series of space comedy stories that will collectively have a much different flavor than the serious Beyond Saga. While I'm not promising anything, it's entirely possible that I could find time to finish and publish BIS episode one while BEX is in editing. Unlike the professional publishing steps that I've taken with the Beyond Saga, BIS will undergo minimal and unofficial editing and proofreading only. I'll probably do the covers myself, too. That will allow me to knock out these stories and get them in the hands of readers more quickly. Might these works have an extra typo or two as a result? Probably. But the pricing will reflect that, and it's just not worth investing hundreds-to-thousands of dollars into shorter, more light-hearted stories of such nature. Perhaps if they catch on with the masses, it'll be worth polishing them down the road.
After the complete Beyond Saga has been available for some time, I plan to apply a few final edits to all of the books in the series. There won't likely be any grand-sweeping changes except for one major character change that I've been debating since right before I published Beyond Cloud Nine (BC9). I'll keep that to myself until if or when I decide to make it. Otherwise, I've been meaning to fix a few issues around scientific accuracy in BC9 as well as move the inciting incident (discovery of the exocorpse) earlier in the story to hook the reader sooner. For Beyond the Horizon (BTH), I want to shore up some aspects of Maya's character and actions. Having her nearly miss her first mission due to a hangover was probably not the best way to introduce her. And for Beyond Yesterday (BYD), parts of the story could be a little less verbose. Surprisingly, there aren't a lot of changes that I need to make to the earlier books to better integrate them with the later novels. I had a pretty good plan in place from the beginning.
Somewhere down the road, I will resurrect Destalis, which was the first full manuscript that I ever wrote (actually, I rewrote multiple versions of the story before shelving it in favor of Beyond Cloud Nine). Destalis will be the loose, unofficial sequel to the Beyond Saga. Whether the story remains a single book or becomes multiple books, I can't say right now. There's plenty of material for multiple books, so it's more question of my motivation. Set in a different galaxy within an alternate multiverse with ties to the Beyond Saga, the story will feature different characters, worlds, and conflicts. However, it will use my core technology and world-building approach (for example, the phase drive will still be the chief means of interstellar travel). Destalis will explore the natural next steps for the concepts introduced in BEX. What happens when technology becomes advanced enough to manipulate the laws of physics? While still maintaining a foundation of hard science, the story will have more of a space fantasy feel. Put another way, if the Beyond Saga were more like Star Trek, Destalis will seem more like Star Wars . . . sort of.
Take care and stay safe,
Science Fiction Author Greg Spry