A quick update

As long term followers of my blog will know by now, my brain has a limited capacity for producing words per day. When I start either writing or editing intensively, I don’t have any spare words left over for putting down in a blog. Or answering emails. Or marketing my book. Or organising life, come to think of it!

So, this is me coming out of hibernation. I’ve just gone through a fairly major edit on The List. I’ve got the word count down by something like 6,000 words by tightening up everything.

Thinking about editing it occurred to me that a book takes months or years to write. And maybe a few days or weeks to read. One consequence of that is that the words a reader reads might’ve been written years apart. Even if you write a book straight through from opening chapter to satisfying conclusion, it will still need editing. I know that in my case sometimes new sections are written in during the edit stage. So, if you read The List, you might get a paragraph from 2015 next to one from 2017.

This is why I tried to blitz the edits. I went through the whole book in around ten days. I made many minor changes to language. It was subtle, but it very slightly moved between formal and colloquial, clear and flowery language over the course of the manuscript. Hopefully I’ve done a good job and it’ll read much better now. (I do know that most readers won’t spot these changes but I do believe that they have a subconscious effect on the perceived quality of the book!)

Now that I’ve handed over the edits I have two things to focus on. The Sequel when I get my writing brain back and marketing on social media. I had a revelation on that last point. Facebook and Twitter are great but it’s getting harder and harder to get your message in front of people who might want to read your book. (I have a friend who gets between 3% and 5% of their page likes actually seeing what they post.)

So, I’m starting a mailing list. Click here to sign up. If you’ve read this far, you’ll realise that this will be a sporadic newsletter. When I have a finished manuscript I’ll probably send out updates once a week, certainly as publishing date approaches. If I’m head-down and writing, you might not hear from me for a couple of months! (And I won’t be selling your data either.)

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I’ll just leave this here and hope it appears when this is shared on Facebook!

What do you think? If you’re a writer do you alternate between self-promotion and writing? Or have you some magic to let you do both?

 

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Milestones

Following on from my previous post where I realised that I have become a “proper writer” I thought I’d look back at some milestones in my career as a writer. I was thinking over this and realised that I started at the age of 15 when I had an article published in White Dwarf, a magazine for role-playing games. It was an adventure for people to play with the game Traveller (it’s all a very long time ago) and it was quite amazing to meet a someone who’d played that adventure.

Somehow, I never translated that good start into an early writing career. My creativity got sidetracked first into a Maths degree, then a career as a computer programmer. I did complete a first novel before I was 25 and second one in the years after that. That first novel was a definite milestone – to move from “I want to write” or “I’m working on a novel” to “I’ve finished a novel” is a big step. It doesn’t matter that it wasn’t very good, simply the act of starting, carrying on and getting to the end is important. And however bad the writing, you always learn from it.

Over this period I also had some articles accepted by Pagan Dawn – the magazine of the Pagan Federation. Eventually, over five years ago, I compiled a lot of different notes into a non-fiction book, The Busy Pagan. Over a mad couple of months I typeset the book, incorporating pictures from my artist friend Anita Luckett. Finally I registered for an ISBN and self-published. The feeling when a complete stranger bought a copy from Amazon or at a fair was amazing. That thought that somewhere a complete stranger was reading my book that I’d put together is the highlight so far of my career – nothing else has come close.

After that I started getting articles accepted by Llewellyn which I saw as another step forward. Different from self-publishing, this was acceptance by professionals. And also payment, which I had never had before from all the magazine articles that I had written. I suppose, more than anything this moment marks when I gave up “amateur status” and became a professional writer.

And now, what’s started this introspection, is that I’m attempting to place a novella that I’ve been asked to write to a strict formula and genre. So it’s similar to placing non-fiction with Llewellyn but it’s also exciting because it’s fiction and I’ve never had any commercial success with fiction so far. Hopefully this one will place OK, and then the final stage will be to get my novel finished and published for the general public to read.

So, those are my milestones in my writing career – please leave comments and let me know what yours are.