May 29th, 2015
One bank holiday with the family, two days at work and two pretty successful days on WOTW. Isn't it funny how cleaning the bottom of the toilet bowl looks infinitely more exciting when you know you have to finish something? I've scrubbed it with an old toothbrush but it's so stubborn I'm resorting to the scourer next - ceramic be dammed.
Toilet aside I'm up to Chapter 21 now and plodding along nicely. Aiming to complete proof edit re-writes by the end of the weekend. Story structure outline and timeline coming along well too. After that I'll be onto the plot and 'a hero's journey'. It's a book I've only just heard about but it identifies the stages a hero moves through to become a hero. I need to make sure my hero, Onk the city troll, follows fairly expected route. Who knew there was such a thing?
I know big romance publishers (mustn't mention any names but their books are usually pink and found in hospitals) have specified scripts which their authors have to follow. Probably other genres have them too. Another joy of independent publishing is I can write what style, shape, form and length I want.
I'm still going to check that Onk is following his destiny correctly.
I was thinking about sharing my blurb on here but....
NICE LADY AT NIELSEN
ISBN application sorted. Spoke to a very nice lady at their agency in Woking. Despite the form saying you can't send it off 'without all the mandatory fields completed', she assured me it would be fine. That's after I set up this website, one of the mandatory requirements. Still it's up and running know and I'm finding it useful for folk to know what is going on without me haranguing them of my favourite subject - writing. If you want you learn about my progress, it's all here.
Also found out why I couldn't save it and e-mail it. What you don't know is you have to have Adobe X1 on your computer. I've only got Adobe X!
Still so much to learn about writing on this website only half the blog went out and the rest was eaten, presumably by weebly?
To recap, I'm up to Chapter 17 tonight. I did end up spliting the last 2 chapters into 4, and struggled to come up with a title for one. I sent off version 6 of the blurb for the back page, only to have my illustrator Jim Scott spot an editing error. Big Thanks to Jim. When I checked it over again I made it into version 7 before sending it again!
Could sit here writing more but must stay focused and continue with the boring stuff.
SELF-DOUBT SLOW TANGO
Its Tuesday early evening. It's light outside and a glass of wine is calling but I'm not answering - sadly. I've got to put some more hours into my novel. My plan is to launch WOTW in October, if all goes well. Trouble is I'm not sure about the wording on the back cover now, my head is full of doubts about it. Is it punchy enough? Would a youngster pick it up based on the wording?
I wonder if these doubts will ever stop? Maybe if they did then that's when I should stop writing. Self-doubt drives me, makes me want to complete this work as best I can, but though it drives me it slows me down too. It seems to be a case of three steps forward, two steps back like an old-fashioned tango.
Tomorrow, after work, I'm contacting Neislen the ISBN agency . I can't load the application form. I can't attach the pages they request which are mandatory for the application to be sent in. It's frustrating not being around in the day. This time last year I thought I'd be pottering around, writing novels, doing a bit of gardening and some charity work.
Who's idea was it to retire, then start a new full-time job three days later? Oh yes - mine.
I can't do anything about it now tonight, so I might as well get back to the novel and getting that moving forward. Up to Chapter 15 now. Took a while because I ended up changing two chapters into three, maybe four when I've finished. Also took advice about not making endings all cosy-like. Instead the ending calls you to read on.
This wording is bugging me though. Ran it past my son, he likes the original version. Maybe a merging of the two? Perhaps there's room for both?
TIMELINES AND MY TIME
Midnight has passed and I'm sitting in my usual place at the laptop in my homage to writing. Up to chapter 12 now in my final re-working of WOTW. I've said before how the writing part is the easiest and you may not believe me but after it comes so much more.
For WOTW I've written 7 versions so far, this is my 8th. For each I've read the entire novel adding, subtracting, polishing and correcting as I go. Every time without fail I find another weak section or inconsistency and they're still appearing.
Following number 6, I paid for a proof editor because no matter how much you think you see - you don't. After that came the contract with the illustrator, who I hope is finishing his part of this enterprise as I write. Following the proof edit, for reasons I won't go into here, I needed another edit and I thank the Lord for friends like Karen.
At the recent Whitlit event an author informed us that she writes a story structure outlining each chapter and scene. I've started to employ this strategy. It's so helpful looking backwards and forwards through the story to find out where scenes are without guessing where things are and wading through hundreds of pages. I can recommend this practice.
Thanks again to Karen for another structural element. I realise now my timeline isn't very strong in places and down-right missing in others. Alongside my story structure I've started a timeline and already altered the whole time frame of the plot as a result. It's more believable now.
For anyone interested, in addition to the above, to produce an actual book or E-book you need an ISBN. This is the number which identifies the book for any book seller, distributor etc. In England there is one agency with the official title of ISBN numbers supplier (there are others but I've heard their code numbers are not accepted by the Big Boys i.e Waterstones etc). Naturally you have to pay for this. In order to complete their form they request a website address - hence my initiation into cyberspace. I have a Domain name now (yes you have to pay for that!) Later when my book is printed I will need to pay Weebly, the company hosting my website, for the pleasure of using my own domain name.
After the ISBN there comes another paid proof edit and then a formatter to arrange the pages for both kindle and hard copy. From there it's a hop and a skip to the printers who I pay to print the book.
After I hold the completed edition in my hand I will need to organise a book launch and signing events to promote my work and sell copies. I don't expect change from £3,000 or any profits on the first print run. If WOTW sells well, it'll give me the incentive to finish the sequel Gristle's Revenge. If not, I'll be working to publish Aquasapien - Metamorphosis instead.
WHEN DO YOU STOP?
I'm sitting here at the laptop, its Sunday evening and I've the real job tomorrow. I'm wondering what drives me? I've got to Chapter 8 of the final re-write. It's a slow progress. I'm correcting elements identified by my good friend Karen in her proof edit, pleased that some of these I've already found before her. Others I'm thinking why didn't I see that and still more clumsy sentences appear as I stare at each page. Is there an end to it I wonder?
I remember someone saying, 'real writers separate themselves from their work'. It's not ' your baby' though I argue it feels like it when you begin. You conceive it, create and give birth to it. You let it find its feet and begin its journey while you support and guide it. It's hard not to view it in that light. I let my baby go several years ago. It feels more like an unruly teenager that won't leave home no matter how hard I try to push it out the door. I can't find it a job (agent/publisher) It's got no skills (proof editor). It's so unemployable I'd have to pay someone to take it on (vanity publishing). How do I make it an adult?
THOUGHTS ON PUBLISHING START HERE
Last week I attended Whitlit, a week long literary event held in Whitstable. It kicked off with a Writer's Workshop on Saturday. It was a full day and though I didn't learn much new, it was good to network and refocus my aims. One thing it did do was reaffirm my decision to publish independently . I listened to the publishing 'experts' complain about the vast amounts of submissions and their terribly heavy workloads. They groaned about the competition, hurdles to jump over and people to convince, all to attain a relatively tiny percentage. I wondered why I ever bothered.
Where am I in the stage of publishing WOTW? I wrote it originally about 8 years ago. Fiddled with the draft till I liked it. All the knowledgeable sources said, "You need an agent first." I duly sent off my letter, synopsis and 1st chapter. Those few short years ago it was snail mail. I remembered the SAE (£4 a time) so I'd get a reply, if not my work back. I tried variations on a theme for my letter, 'straight to the point', 'humble' 'witty' even 'slightly sarcastic' hoping the shock might motivate an agent. Nothing. My postman must have got postman's thumb shoving my returning post through our slim letter box on an almost daily basis.
I decided to increase my chances and included publishers in the next batch. I could wallpaper the downstairs loo with the letters of rejection. Being a sad individual I kept them to start with, so I could hold them up and say ' at least I tried',
It hardens you when you get mountains of rejections. I got sick of hearing those lucky bastards who complained, " I sent it to two publishers/agents before I was accepted." Or, " I sent it off and was offered a contract immediately." I hated them. Was I bitter and jealous? too dam right!
More and more I heard whispers saying ' you only get published if you're a famous author already, or a celebrity who has a ghost-writer ( you know who you are). Depressed? understatement. I changed my tactics and decided another strategy was required.
I attended the World Fantasy Conference in 2013 at Brighton. Over 50 fantasy/Sci Fi publishing companies attend the conference. It's usually held in the USA so this was one lucky experience. It was brilliant! If you're a fan of Fantasy & Sci Fi reading go there. I loved seeing the late Sir Terry Pratchett with his trademark hat , albeit on a dais ten foot from me, along with some of my literary heroes in the fantasy world including Tessa Farmer, Tad Williams, Neil Gaiman and Tanith Lee. I was kissed on the cheek by a flirty Brian Aldiss and loved that too.
I managed to produce 10 copies of WOTW in clear folders along with the letter, synopsis and cover. It felt a bit cheeky and I wondered if I might get thrown out the conference. I left them on various tables round the event. I overheard one fifty-something American say to his wife whilst holding my folder, "Have you seen this? what a clever idea." His voice held a tone which I hoped was begrudging admiration. I was so pleased someone picked it up. I was torn between hiding from my heinous crime and shouting out loud ' Here I am'. I did the latter, god what desperation does to an individual.
Nothing came from my efforts but I achieved nano-fame in a couple of ways. Arriving early for the famous authors interview, I was mistaken for one of the celebrities and asked to sign a canvas of celebrity writers signatures which was being auctioned later. I couldn't refuse and who knows some day I might be able to claim it as a bonefide author.
The second was at the mass signing session. A huge room was set up with tables lining the walls and pristine white linen table-cloths. Grabbing a friend I made during the conference, I propelled him to an empty table. He had the foresight to print a number of his novels into books. I plonked him down and sat next to him in the disguise of being his agent. Fans came and purchased his book, he signed them and I was asked to sign conference programmes, once they found out I had something on kindle.
Since then I've been to Deal Noir, a crime writers event (in Deal) and in April the London book Fair. I'd heard so much about it. How agents and publishers aren't available because they are at the fair. It was a real mix of people, companies and themes from massive million pound deals between publishers and booksellers to translation services and self-publishing gurus. It held my attention until my feet ached about 1pm. It was interesting but not very useful to me. I don't think it is meant to be but there were individuals who'd independently published trying to sell their wares. In the main their stalls were quiet.
Despite their forlorn appearance my road to publishing continues.....
IN THE BEGINNING....
When I began writing I thought, "this is going to be really hard." I'd written a few thousand words before, even as much as 20,000 for my dissertation, but a novel? How does that go? I wondered whether my imagination would run out! Would I write all there was, till my brain was an empty husk of nothingness?
Thankfully that didn't happen. I wrote 40,000 words before I stopped the first time. After that it was relatively simple to run off several thousand words at a sitting. I naively believed that 'writing' was the hardest part. How wrong was I? Writing is the easy part. I hear people say "I'd like to write a book and I chuckle now thinking, you don't know the half of it. It's not the writing, its the word 'book'. That's where all the headache ( and heartache) lies.