Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from 2015

Whew..... What a year.

It's my birthday! And one of the most common responses I've had is that I've had an incredible year. Which put me in mind of trying to capture it. And it's Friday and blog day and....

Where was I at the turn of 2015? Well, I had an agent and a book out on submission. I had a three book deal with my first book coming out in March. I had my first publisher edit ahead - although, to be fair, I had been edited by Teresa Edgerton before and knew she at least liked the book. Things were looking exciting and, at the same time, daunting.

Why daunting? Well... Writers, by our nature, can be nervy. Last January only a handful of people had read either Abendau's Heir or Inish Carraig - mostly close writing friends whose role is to be critical. I had no idea how either would be received - particularly Abendau with its dark, dark themes. Since Kare had been the character I'd started writing to capture and his world had been building since secondary school, when I needed a p…

To agent or not to agent...

That, these days, is a question all writers must ask. I want to make it very clear, right now, I am not dismissing agents in any way. I have a great deal of respect for any I've had dealings with, and I fully intend to seek an agent again. But, in the current model of publishing, I think there are questions to be asked about when to seek one, and what you can do on your own.

When I first started writing five years ago, there were mutterings about this self-publishing lark and how writers didn't need to follow a standard path anymore. However, there was still an acceptance that if you did want to follow the traditional path, getting an agent was the thing to do. Now, I wonder if that's still the case, and here's why:

1. Timey-wimey considerations.

Agents are slow. Publishing is slow. We all know that.

But, actually - only traditional publishing is slow. Small publishers are much more flexible to the market. They can turn books around if they need to, and they can do it…

Writing rules.

YOU CAN’T DO THAT…
This might be a rant. I haven’t had one for a while, so that’s no bad thing. Anyhow, this blog is about what we’re told we can and can’t do as writers and why, actually, it might not be good advice.
Writing is a funny old conundrum. It’s a business, at one end of the spectrum, and a creative endeavour at the other, and sometimes the two struggle to meet.
When I first started to write, I didn’t give much thought to the market for my story. I assumed it was the sort of thing I would like to read, so there must be one. It was later that I discovered there were all sorts of rules and strictures about the book you write.
I took them all terribly seriously at first. I tried to meet them all. I turned myself in knots forcing my story into the convenient boxes the marketing side of writing wanted, and out of the story-driven ways my creative side demanded. It was exhausting and tiring and – wait for it – got me nowhere. At all.
Here, along the way, was the sort of adv…

AND THEN I WOKE UP… HOW I BECAME AN AMAZON BESTSELLER OVERNIGHT

The backstory (I know, info dumps, eh? I’ll keep it short…) Inish Carraig is my second book, and it’s self published (my first, Abendau’s Heir, is part of a three book deal).
Inish has been around a few blocks and back again – that whole story is in this blog list in lots of places – but it came out in August 2015 and did… okay. Not as well as my first book in the equivalent time and, to be honest, I had it pegged as a build-my-name-a-bit title.
One thing, though, was that it was getting good reviews – great reviews in fact. I decided to consider it my critically-acclaimed-bomb of a book and told myself every starving author in a garret has one of those.
The book is listed in Kindle select which means it’s exclusive to Amazon online, although I have it in a couple of bricks-and-mortar stores, too (and any device can read it with a quick conversion).
Kindle select allows, once every 90 days, to list a book at a reduced price and retain 70% of the selling price. It’s a nice boost t…

Where are all the sci-fi families?

There are some – the Atreides in all their dysfuntional glory, Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigans, but the vast majority of sci-fi stories I’ve read don’t have families central to the tale. (I am, as ever, happy to be shot down.)
Books without families, however, abound. The solitary figure taking on space, the team of adventurers becoming each other’s family, the colony providing the place of safety, almost a replacement family, they’re all part of the genre. It’s as if, in the future, there will be no place for family, that we’ll become one large mass of people interconnected, without the need for roots.
Why is that? Why is Logan not on the run with his family? What is it about making his decision a solitary one that gives the story more than a family would have done? Would it have reduced the enigma of the character? Logan runs because he’s going to die. What would have changed if it was his sister who was going to die? Because that’s the point about storytelling – the context ch…

ON SUBMISSION AND SANITY

IN THE BEGINNING….
In the beginning, there was getting an agent. Two years of querying, of rewrites and Revise and Resubmits. Of watching emails, and watching Twitter feeds and checking response times on Querytracker. Of guessing and second guessing until, at last, an agent came along and took me under their wing, called me ‘ingenious’ and worked to find my book a good home.
My writing future was secured. I had someone in my corner. I had a writing career.
My expectations were realistic, I thought. My first book might not sell. It happens to a lot of authors. But I’m a career writer, I hope, my next book was well under away, my trilogy was down to the very last stage of an open window (which had been 18 exhausting months of checking emails, and forum updates and working out stats and dreaming of what-might-bes), and things were looking good.
The open window didn’t work out – I was rejected in the last 3% of the 5000 or so subs. But I didn’t let it get me down. I dusted myself off …

This is not a sprint

Although, to be honest, I hit the ground running with writing, and I'm still going.

Anyway, a few thoughts to sign off for a week enjoying my small family, and friends, and generally not doing a lot other than shooting the breeze about life, the universe, and everything.

This writing thing is intense. It's all-consuming. There are so many areas where it's possible to get hellishly obsessive about. The writing of it, the plotting, the characters. The title. Hot dang (apparently that phrase needs used more) but the title. The editing.

Add publishing the darn thing into the mix, and we can get started on the next ten things to obsess over. Covers, blurbs, fonts, formatting, marketplaces, POD, agent and trad vs self publishing.

When it's published? Oh, boy, yeah, we can add in KDP tracking graphs, interviews (if you're lucky), obsessive review checking (hiding behind hands optional), amazon sales ranking. And in between that, you've got all the fun of the earlier s…
ON THE NOBLE ART OF BLAGGING

One question I've been asked a lot this year is how I've managed to get coverage of myself as a writer, so I thought I'd do a blog about it. Sadly, the main advice I'm going to give is to seize opportunities - and my main message is going to be a huge, heartfelt thanks to those who have given me a chance, supported me, or even just lifted me when the road seems long.

So, the bad news. You are one writer amongst thousands out there. Each has worked hard on their book, each wants to promote it. Mostly, each is doing it in the same small channels. 'Word of mouth,' is king, we get told - but what if no one is reading? How do we get word of mouth? How do we compete against internet-savvy authors who know more about Amazon than we do, or seem more able to promote?

For me, the answer has been through people. I used blagging in the title, but that makes everything seem seedier than it should be, as if we're asking something for nothing,…

Review - the long way to a small, angry, planet and Mother of Eden

A couple of reviews – The Long way to a Small, Angry Planet, Becky Chambers, and Mother of Eden by Chris Beckett.
My work-work has been busy this last few weeks, which means I’m not writing much. And, when I’m not writing, I read. Which was great because I had a couple of books I really wanted to get to.
I’d been hearing a lot about The Long way to a Small, Angry Planet and was really looking forwards to it.
On a lot of levels, it didn’t disappoint. The alien portrayals were well done, thoughtful and clever. The writing was easy to follow with a light touch that kept the story moving along nicely. The scenario was a clever one, and nicely executed, and the characters were likeable.
All of which meant, when I was struggling to fully engage, I found it hard to put my finger on exactly why. Eventually, it came to me – I think – and the answer lay around tension.
There are plenty of areas where tension should be introduced, but wasn’t fully explored to my mind. The trip is rife with…

Book signings - hints and tips

I'm joined on the blog today by Amy Cook, author of the Rabids series (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Amy-Cook/e/B00MQGKLOG), who recently ran a book signing with awesome book topiary, and a nice buzz to it, so I thought I'd get some tips on running one.

Book signings; the big events that can leave any author weak in the knees with excitement and terror all in one. I held a signing last night for the release of my book, “Instinct Ascending Rabids Book 2”. Here are a few things that I learned along the way. 

Preparation- 

#1. Network, network, network.Weeks before the signing, you need to start sending out all those different pleas for people to come. Thankfully I had a few friends that were heading that end of matters for me. They printed up snazzy little ‘save the date’ cards featuring my book cover, with info about the event itself. They then placed these at the library and other high traffic areas in town. We pulled in more networking help by having it announced in newsletters of loc…

A Foundation of Question Marks

This week I'm joined on the blog by Bryan Wigmore, not just one of the best fantasy writers I know, but also one of the most astute readers. Here, he talks about what the world in a story means to him. He also quotes Chief Wiggum. What's not to like?



‘We gods are only masks,’ Mictlantehcutli says. ‘Who wears us? Find it out!’ Grant Morrison, The Invisibles
‘What is your fascination with my forbidden closet of mystery?’ Chief Wiggum, The Simpsons
I’m going to write about mystery. Not the kind of mystery of who shot who (at the Copacabana or elsewhere) but the deeper mysteries that for me are an important part of an interesting story-world. A story depends on its characters, but its characters in turn depend on their world, are formed by it. A world that differs fundamentally from ours can be interesting in itself, an intellectual curiosity, but it comes to life when it gives birth to characters who do or think the unexpected because their world has given them a culture and minds…

HALF THE VIEW OF THE WORLD

HALF THE VIEW OF THE WORLD

The first of two blogs looking at the role of world building in genre fiction. Next week, Bryan Wigmore, writer of awesome fantasy (really, really awesome fantasy) turns up with his take on the same. For this week, I’m going to talk about why, for me, the world isn’t what defines a book.

Now, before you all come over all hissy and astonished at my audacity, I’ll just say that I like a good world as much as the next person. Genre is all about new worlds. It’s safe to say if it didn’t appeal to me – a lot, as it happens – I’d go off and read (and write) real-world books.
I’ve read lots of world-based sci-fi and fantasy. I weaned my sff teeth on Heinlein, and Narnia via the Faraway Tree. As a teen, I moved onto the great worlds of Dune and Tolkien – with Dune stealing the show (I always was a sucker for space ships.) I drank in Star Wars and Blake’s Seven, hid behind the sofa at Doctor Who and graduated through many of the big sff worlds – ASOFIA, Rothfuss, …

777 writer's game

I was tagged by the awesome Thaddeus White, author of fabulous epic fantasy and the bone-achingly funny Sir Edric series.

I had to take a work in progress, go to a page ending in 7 and show 7 lines, and then I have to tag 7 others to do so. Being me, I had a few wips in choose from, but I've went for Sunset Over Abendau, which is due out in March 2015:




“It’s rude to look at my thoughts.” It was a stupid thing to say, when he should really why he was Kalyn and why she had his eyes, but was too frightened of her answer.
“As you say.” She shifted and winced. 
“Can I do anything to help?” he asked, but she shook her head. He waited another moment, steeling himself. “You have my eyes.”
“No,” she said, and it sounded like she was amused. “You have mine - I was here first, Kalyn.”

So, intrigue... And I tag Anna Dickinson, Cathleen Townsend, Stephen Palmer, Shellie (millymollymo), Bryan Wigmore, Kerry Buchanan and DG Jones - if anyone doesn't have a blog and needs somewhere to post it, ema…

You know, you write really good torture....

Fresh baked bread… Kare tried to curl up against the pain in his stomach but couldn’t move his arms and legs.  

“Say it.” Beck’s voice grated. He pulled Kare’s head up, so he could see the bread as it was crumbled, smell its scent. He shook his head and Beck took the bread away. Kare drifted away, only half aware of where he was…

His head was yanked back, another smell. Meat juices dripped onto his lips, clenching his stomach.

“Say it.” Beck drizzled more and this time they were salty, mixed with tears.

He needed it.“Master.”

The chicken vanished. He needed it. Gods, he needed it.  

The chains opened and his hands fell before him and he looked at them, not knowing what to do. A hunk of bread and a bowl were set on the floor, and he remembered. He broke the hard bread, used the gruel to soften it, and ate, scooping the dregs, spilling them from his hands, they were shaking so much. He licked the bowl, needing what it had, and when Beck laughed, he didn’t care. 

He needed it.

The bowl was taken…

Self publishing your backlist - Teresa Edgerton

ON PUBLISHING #4 HYBRID PUBLISHING AND THE BACKLISTAugust 29, 2015by Teresa Edgerton | 0 comments And this time it’s me, writing about my various experiences in publishing: TRAD PUBLISHING, SMALL PRESS, SELF-PUBLISHING, AND THE BACKLIST I used to sell my books to some of the biggest science fiction/fantasy imprints. After eleven books (all but the first sold from a synopsis or outline, all but that one and one other part of multi-book deals) that is something I have no interest in doing again. Don’t get me wrong. I have none of the usual complaints about working with the big publishers. Every editor I ever dealt with was someone who cared passionately about books. They liked me, they liked my books, they were incredibly patient about missed deadlines, and they always treated me with kindness and respect. They published books that they believed in by authors they believed in, sometimes continuing to carry authors whose books were profitable but not hugely successful, in the hope that t…