Blog Hopping Everything must Change.

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.

I’d love to get your comments, please leave them below. While you’re here, why not take a look around? There are some freebies and lots more content, about me, my writing and everything else that I do. You can join my newsletter for a free novella and more news by clicking this link.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this week’s thoughts, please leave a comment below. Then go and check out the rest of the great blogs on the hop. Just follow this link.


10 Responses

  1. Stevie Turner

    Your process is pretty much like mine, Richard. I also write for a hobby and don’t do much marketing. Amazon always takes away some of the 5 star reviews but leaves the 1 stars. I wish they’d do it the other way around!

    • Richard Dee

      That’s right, it seemed to happen as the book reached a certain number. Ribbonworld got to 50 reviews about three times, now it’s only got 22 🙁

  2. Lela Markham

    Reviews are hard to get. I’m told there is a way to get reviewers on Goodreads, but yeah — whatever other people have used isn’t working for me. People are still buying (or reading them them KU, mostly) so there’s no real problem with that.

    When I retire, though, I might put out a shingle to review indie books because, yeah, it’s just hard.

    • Richard Dee

      I try to review a book a month, sometimes it’s difficult to know what to choose. I only seem to read Indie books these days, the quality is uniformly excellent.

      • P.J. MacLayne

        It’s so great to hear someone say the quality of indie books is excellent. It wasn’t that long ago that people thought indie books were unprofessional.

        • Richard Dee

          I treasure a review of one of mine which says; Unusually for a self-published book, it is almost entirely free from grammatical or typographical errors. And it got four stars!!

  3. Pete Springer

    We sound similar in some ways, although I am a babe in the woods when it comes to writing; it will always be a hobby for me. I’m a reasonably intelligent enough guy, but in a lot of ways I wonder why anyone would give a damn about what I have to say in the first place. (It was a strange feeling to teach a young child, comprehending the fact that this intelligent seven or eight-year-old would one day be far superior mentally than me.) Your comment regarding giving you something to do in retirement rings true with me. We need things in our lives that give us a purpose

    Because I do see myself starting to grow, I am at the point where I am interested in learning about the mechanics and process that other authors go through in creating a story. While it may not be rocket science, there’s obviously a lot more to it than the average person would know.

    • Richard Dee

      I picked it all up (writing and publishing) as I went along, made plenty of mistakes and was very fortunate to be helped by some wonderful people. I try to give back by helping where I can. I’ve found the process, both of creating worlds and creating the finished product, to be equally fascinating. Although I’m a beginner myself, I’m gradually getting the hang of things.

  4. Layla

    I never considered using an agent, let alone thought my work was too inferior for one. It’s amazing the facade of supremacy traditional publishing has. Hopefully, it will wane as more authors continue to make money from their independent works.

    • Richard Dee

      As I mentioned somewhere else, I submitted a few of my later works, without getting any replies. Life is too short to wait for someone to tell me they don’t like it, I prefer to let my readers decide on the worth of my stories.

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