Welcome back to another BlogHop, with#OpenBook. Read on for this week’s prompt.
How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
To give you a little bit of context, my first novel, Freefall, was published in 2013. Writing a novel was one of the things I always wanted to do. Largely because I never thought that I could. I had an idea that just wouldn’t go away, so I wrote it down. It developed into the story of Dave Travise, a loner with a past.
I had no real idea of how to structure a narrative, I just saw things happening, like a film playing in my head. I wrote what I saw. When I’d finished, I spent a while tidying it up. I had it professionally edited; because I wanted it to look like I knew what I was doing. I knew that first impressions were important.
I self-published it; because it seemed like the sensible thing to do. I didn’t think that it was good enough to submit to agents. It was an itch that needed scratching.
To my surprise, a few people found it and bought it. It got reviews, quite good ones. People started asking me questions about it. They wanted to know more about the lives of the characters, which I found surprising.
To prove to myself that it wasn’t a fluke, that I could actually do it again, I wrote a second novel, Ribbonworld. I liked this one a lot more, I used a different method to create the setting, which made it easier to structure and write.
So, in that respect, my first book had changed my process, it had shown me not only that I could write a coherent story, but that I was able to learn what worked and what didn’t. And apply that knowledge.
Ribbonworld was also well received, I never spent much money on advertising it. I just published it, told people on social media and waited to see what happened. Marketing was and still is another language to me. I’m not extroverted; quite the opposite. As a consequence, I suffer from a disadvantage when it comes to telling the world about my books. I don’t have a fortune to spend on advertising anyway. Mostly, I tell people about my work via my website and social media pages, which seems to provide a small but steady number of sales.
Meanwhile, I kept writing, developing my method. More stories flooded into my head, a Steampunk adventure was next, followed by a sequel to Freefall. Then I tried my hand at Cosy Crime, all of them published without any great fanfare of publicity.
Then Amazon took away a lot of my reviews, as it did with many authors. Just as I was starting to get a decent total. It made me question why I was bothering. In the end, my stubborn streak took over, I decided to push on, the more books I had out, the more reviews I would get. If I could write good novels that people wanted to read, it wouldn’t matter.
My current total is 23 publications (including a textbook on my method), with several more in the pipeline. I still don’t spend a lot on advertising. I sell books but reviews are slow to appear. That suits me as I’m happy to stay in the background. Writing is my hobby, not a business. I do it because I enjoy the process, not because I have to eat. There’s no pressure on me, no deadlines, no need to do any more than I want to. I know that I have loyal readers, people who buy all my books and (I hope) tell their friends about them.
I post on this website several times a week. Again, I like to promote the work of other authors and bloggers to my followers. People were kind enough to help me in the early days and I try to repay it where I can.
I digress (how unusual),
Are my recent novels better than Freefall? My readers think so, they tell me that my latest work is better than my earlier stuff. So it should be, I’m learning more about the mechanics of writing all the time. If I wrote Freefall now, it would be a different thing altogether, the same plot but (I like to think), a better STORY.
I have no plans to revise it though, it serves as a reminder of how far I have come. And it still gets the odd sale and good review.
Writing has done me good in other ways too. It’s given me something to do in retirement. Now, I’m a lot more disciplined, I write every day, either novels, short stories or blog content. It keeps my mind active, my fingers nimble on a keyboard.
It’s turned into a satisfying hobby.
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