I'm very curious about your writing process. How different was the first draft of Unsouled from it's final form?
Funny story about that, Steve. You picked an interesting example because I was intending Unsouled to be released on my blog for free as a series of chapters because I was going "Hey? You know what, I'll just try and do a web serial as my side thing in order to keep people reading the blog and keep people remembering that I am a person that exists while I write the next set of Elder Empire books." But then I rolled out all the short stories over the mailing list, which we used to do, and that got people engaged and I was like "Oh, okay, well I don't need to do that with this but now I have a book, so let's finish it out and put it up and then we'll know what we know how to do and release it on the Kindle store and then maybe that will keep people engaged." And then that got way more engagement than Elder Empire ever did, so I was like "Uh-oh." And then I wrote Soulsmith.
So Unsouled's first draft and it's final form were not very different. Most of my first drafts are really pretty clean in general. Not universally, but in general I write pretty clean first drafts. The final drafts I don't change a whole lot, but what I do change has a lot of impact. It's not like I go through and make a million major changes so the story's completely different. What I do is, it turns out there's a lot of things you can change with just a word or a sentence here and there. Generally if you read my alpha draft and you read my published draft you would be able to see easily where I went from one to the other but they will read very differently.