One year on from my first post – and look what’s changed!

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100th post

A few days ago, WordPress sent me a reminder that I’d just published my 100th post – and I was taken aback.

I suddenly realised that it has been almost exactly one year since I first created my first ever post; The best rejection letter ever?

And what a lot has happened in those twelve months – just look at the stats;

Last July                                      This July

1 post                                            100+ posts

2 WP followers                             235+ WP followers (update?)

20 Facebook followers                 900+ Facebook followers

no Twitter account                        475+ Twitter followers

No eBook published                      eBook self-published

No paperback                                 Paperback very close to completion

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This is all part of spreading the word, of building an author platform – and it’s looking quite good, IMHO.

Along the way, I have met some very talented people. Some of them are constantly beating a path for the rest of us to follow, whilst others are still following their aspirations to publish. Many are very, very close to that first eBook or printed book.

Then there are the non-writer bloggers who post recipes, amazing photographs or offer philosophical insights that leave me thinking ‘wow…’

I have learned a great deal since last July. Back then I had just exhausted my 102-strong list of UK-based Literary Agencies and whilst I’d received some encouragement along the way (notably The best rejection letter ever?), I was no closer to being published.

At that time I was on a knife-edge, wondering if I ought to begin querying US-based agencies – but electronically. I could never have afforded the postage costs. I was already several hundreds of pounds down (I still am) and further investment would have crippled me financially.

And then I began hearing, via Facebook and WordPress, about self-publishing. I was (at first) curious – and then intrigued. I wanted to know more.

The seed was sown. As the rejection letters continued to trickle in, I decided to learn all I could about creating and publishing an eBook, just in case none of the agencies picked up my book. They didn’t – so I launched myself into the world of ePublishing. The rest, as they say, is history. Very recent history – and something I could not have done without help from fellow bloggers.

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Sharing – it’s the best part of blogging! It makes the lonely business of writing feel a lot less…well, lonely. We all get to read about other people’s experiences on a daily basis, both the good and the bad. Most notable is Ryan Casey’s runaway success with his short stories and novels and Michelle Proulx’s difficult journey with the publisher iUniverse. Both authors have flourished, but their experiences contrast greatly. But even bad experiences can teach us all something. Thanks for sharing, Michelle!

What’s most encouraging is the great feedback that I’ve received. Every comment makes me want to post again…and again. I love seeing that little orange star at the top of my dashboard. It’s encouraging to know that someone had read and ‘liked’ my words. But even more heart-warming is that little orange speech bubble. Whatever I was about to do, whatever words I had in mind…they get sidelined as I click on the bubble to see the message that has been left.

A blogger once remarked that comments are addictive. They were right. I love them! They have delivered support and encouragement in so many different ways. Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to leave me feedback.

I wonder if my second year of blogging will be as fascinating and thrilling a ride as the first?

See you all in July 2014!

Keep blogging (especially Shay Starcaller)!

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Post Script;

What I hadn’t expected – and this came right out of the blue as I was preparing to post, was this;

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I really had NO IDEA that I’d been with WordPress for so long.  It’s true that I’ve chronicled my writing endeavours as far back as 1999 (see The Homeworld Saga), but that was all retro-written just to document where my modern writing began to coalesce properly.

But four years?

Wow…

Time does fly when you’re having fun doing what you love the most!

To CreateSpace…or not to CreateSpace?

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hbrinkman bookseller

Over the past six months I have introduced ‘A Construct of Angels’ (using my bookmarks) to hundreds of people. In that time, a clear pattern of responses has emerged from my endeavours.

Pretty much everyone is initially startled by my ‘Do you read much?’ query, but they soon settle when I hand them a free bookmark and ask them if they’d care to try my book. Most stare at the bookmark, then at me and I can almost hear the penny drop as they say; ‘This is YOURS? You actually WROTE this?’

It always surprises me how people change when it dawns on them that they are standing next to someone who has (self) published a novel. Having had six months to get used to the idea, the shock and awe of finally completing a book has worn off, and I often forget how humbled I always felt in the presence of Jenna Burtenshaw, the author of Wintercraft and Blackwatch. Last year, I attended her book signing in Darlington and there she was – a published author and there I was, a newbie wannabe unpublished speck of nothing. I wasn’t fit to stand in her shadow…and so on.

It’s very strange hearing people using words like ‘honoured’ and ‘amazed’ when they talk to me – words that I try to shrug off. I’m not a movie star. I’m simply a writer who managed not to succumb to the depressing idea of never having a book see the light of day – nothing more.

Generally, the people I talk to are quite receptive to the idea of the bookmark and most will assure me that they will have a look at the free chapters available via Amazon. Of those who tell me that they don’t own eReaders, most are surprised that Amazon will offer them free software, ‘Kindle for PC’ that allows them to read Kindle books on their PC, Laptop, Netbook or Tablet. I’ve probably been responsible for a few dozen non-Kindle readers now being able to buy and read Kindle eBooks. 🙂

I also point them towards Smashwords, where ‘A Construct of Angels’ is listed in ePub, pdf and several other formats.

With the remainder, I have hit a stumbling block and I feel that the time has come to address that problem. Some readers, for various reasons, remain committed to paper books – something that I am currently unable to supply for sevral reasons. For one, I have been rejected by every genre-relevant agency in the UK, which is one of the reasons that I decided to self-publish. The other reason for my remaining entirely electronic is that the cost of a paper book was so far above that of an eBook, it seemed prudent to sell my work at the lower cost rather than try to push the more expensive paper version.

But I have seen so many faces registering disappointment when I admit that my book doesn’t exist in physical form, I am now reconsidering my decision to remain purely and unshakably twenty-first century electronic.

CreateSpace seems, for the moment, the best option for me. My book is already uploaded to Amazon, so having it available on the same site would appear to make sense. I’m currently using Amazon, Smashwords, Kobo and Scribd to shift copies (some with better success than others), so a fifth site would just complicate things – unless of course that new site was far better than CreateSpace.

If you’re also in the position of thinking about offering a paper book, Karen Inglis has posted a huge amount of information on the subject. As a UK-based children’s author, Karen is favour of using a combination of CreateSpace and UK print-on-demand company LightningSource to save on shipping costs and delays.

*One day later;*

A couple of my blogging friends (thanks guys) have advised me that CreateSpace may now be advanced enough to be able to use for distribution on both sides of the big pond.

Sounds like a plan…although the goalposts are constantly shifting.

Watch this space…I might be entering the twentieth century once again. 🙂

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keep calm plus author inside

Author interview with Draegon Grey

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smoking man

I’ve just completed the first part of an author interview with Draegon Grey.  It surprised me how much fun something like this can be – almost like reliving the whole process of writing the novel over again.  Happy memories, the small problems that seemed so insurmountable at the time and the joy of completing the work…they all came flooding back.

The second part, a character interview with Sara Finn, my protagonist, will follow soon.

In the meantime, you can read the ‘Author Moment’ interview here.

Write on!

Six Sentence Sunday – on time!

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saavem swordsman

Today’s SSS is an extract from ‘A Vengeance of Angels’.  Again, it contains a mild spoiler if you haven’t read the first story; A Construct of Angels.’  So if you don’t want to know how the first book ends, please look away now.

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Michael, now an ex-angel and mortal being, is being addressed by an elderly hospice patient – one who has a reputation as a seer…

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Agatha Carpenter waved a bony finger at me and I felt the chill of one whose fate is irrevocably sealed.  I’d felt it before – as a doomed gladiator, as a convicted witch, as a Jew amongst the Nazis…

“The black swordsman is falling to Earth!” she wailed in a voice edged with hysteria.  “He seeks the one who shines most brightly – and all around him shall perish!” 

I knew a moment of panic. 

She could only be referring to one person; one Anakim…and he was coming for me.

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Write on!

Wednesday Woes

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sspivak image

Some time ago I scoffed at the notion that my sequel to ‘A Construct of Angels’ might be as difficult to …er… construct as the original.

See The difficult second novel?  Nah!

Well, my confidence has taken a knock.  I’m not afraid to admit it, although I do feel slightly foolish at having to retract my former statement.

The high wave that I had been sailing upon, fresh from the joy of having finally achieved a lifetime’s ambition of publishing a book, has now flattened and I feared that I was facing a spell in the doldrums, bereft of the guiding wind that was my Muse.

As the tale within ‘Construct’ drew to a close, I had a clear and certain idea of where the sequel was heading and I’d even planned the ending – something which had been of tremendous help when I’d initially drafted ‘Construct’.

But now that idea is wavering.  I still know how the sequel (A Vengeance of Angels) is going to conclude, but as I passed 25,000 words, I lost focus, the thread and my sense of timing.

I can’t tell you much, but ‘Vengeance’ doesn’t follow directly on from the end of ‘Construct’.  Rather, it meshes with it, beginning two days before ‘Construct’ ended.  That, dear reader, is how I painted myself into a very tight corner.  I still have several events that need to transpire before the ending of ‘Construct’ is briefly revisited and the story continues from that already-published conclusion.

sol one image

So, rather than despair, I reached deep into the archives and dug out my old day-by-day spreadsheet.

hour by hour

click to read spreadsheet

(The above is a sample I put together to illustrate its uses.  If this inspires you in any form, feel free to create a story from it.)

This is one of the very few ‘planner’ tools I used in ‘Construct’ (I AM a confirmed ‘pantser’ after all), but it was invaluable to me.

Armed with this, I intend to review what I’ve already written, then forge ahead and plan out exactly how my self-imposed spiders web of a narrative will unfold.

What was that, you say?  Why can’t I ever do anything the easy way?  For the answer to that, you’ll have to ask my Muse.

Where is she, by the way?

*sighs*  Well, as Kenny Rogers nearly said; ‘You picked a fine time to leave me Loose Wheel.’

Watch this space for a word count that will clock up faster than Clark Griswold’s Christmas electricity bill!

Write on in 2013!

I’ve only been and gone and done it again!

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calendar page

This weekend, I did a quick mental calculation and realised that ‘A Constuct of Angels’ had been live on Amazon for almost three months.

How time flies!

Rightly or wrongly, I’d signed up to KDP Select’s 90-day exclusivity deal in order to test the Amazonian waters (well, it WAS my first time) and was interested by Amazon’s ‘Lending Library’ scheme that promised authors a share of umpteen millions per month depending on how many books were borrowed by other KDP members.  Part of the downside of this is that the author has to sign an exclusivity deal with Amazon for a minimum of 90 days.  Well, those 90 days have now expired and I had a peek at how many of my books had been borrowed by other KDP Select members.

So…(opens envelope), Ladies and Gentlemen, the number of borrowed books after 90 days totalled exactly (drum roll, please);

Zero, nada, nill.

Zero multiplied by umpteen millions = ?  Well, you can do the math, as they say.

Sheesh.

Amazon automatically renew KDP Select for the author, UNLESS that author remembers to untick the renewal box.  With only two days to go, I unticked and have now dipped my toe into the next part of the adventure.

‘A Construct of Angels’ continues to be live at Amazon, but as of today, it’s also available from Smashwords in multiple formats.

Now, I’ve been warned that Smashwords is not simply a ‘post and forget’ site; that marketing work needs to continue.

Smashwords has many detractors on various blog sites, with some authors complaining about low sales.  Others are constantly chiding these same authors for not marketing effectively.

So it will be an interesting experiment.  A steep learning curve lies ahead, but I intend to do everything that my spare time allows to spread the word.

Also, now that I’m no longer tied into Amazon, I’m free to explore beyond the boundaries.  To infinity – and beyond?

I will let you know how I get on.

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Write on in 2013!

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