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February Update – Nuzzling The Grindstone

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It’s been quiet around here lately what with me busy pressing my nose against the grindstone of my latest manuscript. I finished off the third draft a few days ago, and it’s a relief to put the most difficult draft behind me and give my face a brief rest. There’s nothing like seeing actual measurable progress on such a massive project.

I feel a little bad about neglecting my blog in the meantime, but I set myself the lofty goal of releasing four books this year, and I’m already a little behind schedule. I don’t want to post crap here just for the sake of it (he writes unironically in a post with zero substance), and I’m sure whoever reads my blog can survive with a little less of my rambling in their life. At least for a while anyway.

My plan now is to step away from my manuscript for a couple of weeks (I had hoped for longer, but deadlines) and work on something else for a while, then I’ll come back with a bit more perspective and finish the final draft. Which means hopefully by the end of March, I’ll have Solace Within, the shiny sequel to my first novel, sitting up there on Amazon’s kindle store for everyone far and wide to admire, or more accurately, quickly forget as it slides into the abyss to be buried under the never-ending cascade of paranormal romance. Still, getting a body of finished work out there is my sole focus this year. I can worry about sales later.

So that’s a quick update on my progress. Hopefully I’ll find time to post something interesting around here soon, but for the meantime, it’s back to nuzzling the grindstone.


Photo by Dave Ruark licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.

Writing Resolutions 2017 – Deciding What’s Important

I wasn’t going to make one of these posts as I find the idea of new year resolutions, while well meaning, inevitably hollow. They’re generally attacked with a level of effort that’s impossible to maintain and end up being forgotten about until the next year rolls around. However, I was reading J.A.Konrath’s blog post listing his past resolutions the other day and his 2013 resolution caught my attention.

The thing that I have seen, over and over, is people finding success by writing good books.

I really think it is possible to make a very nice living by writing and not worrying about anything else.

Now it may be that I’m just an introvert (like almost every writer ever) but I would much rather spend my time writing rather than marketing, networking, engaging on social media, or any of the other dreaded activities that writers are told are necessary for self publishing. So reading that little paragraph gave me a warm, fuzzy feeling inside. Something not unlike the burst of guilty pleasure that comes with profiteroles.

Could it really be possible to go against common belief, focusing almost solely on the actual writing aspect of being a writer, and yet still manage to make a decent living? Well, I don’t know if there’s a definitive answer to that as everyone’s experience is different, but Konrath has made a more than respectable living in the self-publishing business for years, and I would tend to listen to the words of experience over yet another person trading generic ‘How To Use Social Media To Sell Your Book’ guides for views and subscriptions.

I have 10,000 followers on Twitter, but I only use it occasionally  Facebook? Haven’t been on there in eight months. I witnessed the rise and fall of MySpace. I’ve opted out of Google+ because I saw no benefits. LinkedIn? I can’t even remember my password.

I’ll never do another book tour. I doubt I’ll ever do another official booksigning. I’ve stopped speaking in public, stopped attending events. Once it was important to meet fans and network with peers. Now I can do that just fine via email.

Partnering with your publisher? Why would you do that, when they offer so little? 17.5% ebook royalties with them, vs. 70% on your own.

I haven’t blogged or Tweeted in months. I’ve been busy doing what writers should be doing: writing.

And guess what? My sales have remained constant.

So if you’re looking to self publish but hate the thought of having to set aside precious writing time to learn how to be a salesman, then take heart. I’m still firmly in the belief that if you write well and put in the time, then good things will happen. There’s no guarantee that marketing and all that other fluff will help because there’s just too much luck involved. But writing consistently, improving your craft, and putting a library of your content out there for people to discover and read? That’s the thing that’s always going to keep you moving forward.

We all want to believe we’re doing something good for our careers, so we abuse social media, buy ads, rigorously defend our good name, cultivate media contacts, make appearances, and celebrate our own very minor celebrity.

Let it all go. Spend your time working on your books. That’s the only thing that really matters, and the only thing you have control over.

Happy New Year, and have a great year of writing.


Photo by jeff_golden licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

A New Approach To Writing In A Culture Of Distraction

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Internet algorithms used on places like Amazon, Youtube, and Google always favour new content from active creators. The more eyeballs you get on your content, the more visible it’ll become, whether that’s placing it higher up in searches or featuring it in suggestions more often. It’s a system designed to reward good content, and it works well for those who are constantly creating.

But what if you’re writing novels? You can’t exactly knock those out in quick fashion, and an unknown author releasing one new book every six months isn’t going to get much love from the algorithms. After the initial spike at launch, the constant stream of newer releases will push the book down the rankings until it face-plants the bedrock of forgotten hopes and dreams, leaving little hope of making a living for the starving author.

So this got me to thinking. What could I do with my writing that lets me put out regular content while still writing the stories I enjoy? After all, I’m not trying to get a novel published in the traditional manner, so why not experiment with the format? The answer I came up with was releasing regular novellas or short story collections, something shorter and quicker to read, aimed at people who don’t have time for a novel. After all, most people don’t have the patience these days when they can just load up social media or watch a film instead. The unique spin would be tying the stories together by using a common universe, setting, or theme.

Good idea, right? I thought so. And for a brief, flashing moment I was as pleased as a girl who just discovered pumpkin spice and furry boots. Then I remembered that this is the digital age and anything you come up with has inevitably already been done before.

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Enter best-selling author James Patterson and his BookShots, ‘all-new, original stories that feature a complete, cinematic storytelling experience in 150 pages.’

To quote this Independent article from back in March, ‘The Alex Cross author has announced he is to target those who never pick up a book by releasing up to four short novels – all readable in a few hours – every month, which will be available from Amazon and local shops.’

So my idea isn’t original, oh well. I think it has potential in this culture of distraction though, where everyone has their eyes glued to their phone in Wall-E fashion, and clearly millionaire author James Patterson thinks something similar. Everyone I’ve bounced the idea off has told me it’s promising, and I’m genuinely excited about giving it the old college try. I’m still figuring out the details, like deciding what sort of release schedule I’ll set myself so I can still dedicate time to writing novels (I’m not a team of writers like Patterson, after all).

So, good idea? Stupid idea? Is shorter fiction making a comeback? Or does the idea make you want to vomit? Let me know what you think in the comments.


Train photo by Phil Dragash licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.
BookShots photo by MichaelMcLean licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.