I first “met” Alison when I was asked to contribute to the 1066 Turned Upside Down project of alternative Fiction. I’ve since read and enjoyed the first of her Roma Nova novels and have the rest on my never reducing T.B.R. pile.
It’s a pleasure and a privilege to host her on the Showcase today.
Timeline of an indie author
Thank you so much for inviting me to the showcase, Richard. It’s ten years since I started thrusting books on the world and I’d like to I share some expurgated diary extracts and experiences with you.
August 2009: A really bad film sends me to my desk, and within 90 days, I have typed a story of 90,000 words. No clue what to do with the finished manuscript, but it’s bound to be snapped up and sold in every shop and airport.
2010-12: A humbling apprenticeship. I discover I know nothing about the book world or novel writing craft despite being a life-long avid reader. Although ‘high concept and well-written’ according to professional assessors, my story is covered in layers of wishy-washyness and undirected – certainly not ready for agents, publishers or unprotected readers. I start a blog, though (https://alison-morton.com), as I knew from my business days that you need a wholly-owned presence in cyberspace.
I join a writers’ circle, acquire a critique writing partner, go to conferences, read craft books, study on courses and in classes, and hone. And I mean hone. You have never seen such scalpel action on a writer’s work. I put it through professional assessments – tough and even tougher. At last, a reasonably publishing manuscript emerges.
My desk isn’t visible through the layers of multiple rejection letters saying, ‘intelligent and well-crafted, but we don’t know how to market it’. I despair. I know my work is of publishable standard; feedback from many quarters said the story was good to go.
During this ‘apprenticeship’, I make connections and come across self-publishing experts in person and virtually. My business brain clicks into action and I research the sector. My brain hurts but I draw up a shortlist of experts to help bring my novels to market in the best possible presentation and grill them for two hours each.
2013: Structurally and copy-edited, proofed and put together beautifully by SilverWood Books, INCEPTIO hits the world. PERFIDITAS follows six months later (It’s fully drafted by the time INCEPTIO came out, so I’m not being super-productive!).
Am taken aback by the amount of PR/marketing needed: blog tours, reviews, guest posts, competitions, talks, local radio, let alone feeding my own blog.
I start to get onto the speaking ladder at conferences – small spots but exciting. But I realise my writing life has to change. It’s the fine choice indies have to make – writing or marketing. The answer is both. Planning is key whether it’s speaking, attending, selling your books, requesting reviews, running your social media, writing guest posts, packing your exhibition box or considering next year’s events.
And you learn to write on planes and trains.
2015: AURELIA comes out – the first of a new trilogy – set the late 1960s. Originally, it was going to be a single sequel, but I have too much story, so another trilogy. That will be it. Or so I think. I go to the US and chair the indie panel at the Historical Novel Society conference. This is also the year for a marketing makeover for the blog. I split it as I was aiming at two audiences – my Roma Nova series readers and other writers. Now I have a writing blog as well as the Roma Nova book one (https://alisonmortonauthor.com).
2016: The year the Ryanair crew recognise me when I came back home to France from my tenth gig in the UK. I realise I’m doing too much, including a major conference in France as well as several in the UK. Still, I’d chair the indie panel at the 2016 HNS Conference, launch my fifth book, INSURRECTIO (endorsed by Conn Iggulden!) at the London Book Fair and speak at an event with Kate Mosse!
2017: RETALIO comes out in April followed by CARINA, a novella, in November. I only achieve this by gluing myself into my chair and doing fewer events, although I had the pleasure of speaking in Dublin for the first time.
2018: Persuaded by the dynamic force known as Helen Hollick, I move several light years from my comfort zone and write a short story for 1066 Turned Upside Down alternative history collection which is where Richard and I ‘meet’. No problem with the alternative history side; this was the genre I write in – I give talks in it – but a short story? Um… I write 90-100,000 word books. But somehow it works. This impels me to publish a short story collection of my own – ROMA NOVA EXTRA. Oh, and I represent the indie world on a panel at CrimeFest.
2019: The great change in Roma Nova: reorganisation and brand new covers! Each heroine will now have four books – three novels and a novella to their name – and the series will split into the Carina and Aurelia strands. If there’s one thing that’s constant in indie publishing, it’s change. I publish NEXUS this month, the novella that completes the Aurelia strand.
Where next? Who knows, but that’s the unnerving, but always exciting roll of indie author life.
About the Roma Nova thrillers
Roma Nova is an imaginary country somewhere in South Central Europe. Developing along an alternative timeline from ours, it’s a survivor from the mess at the end of the Roman Empire, its people value strength, service and loyalty.
Women have always been prominent from the first day they buckled on armour and stood side by side with their men to defend their tiny country. They run the government, businesses and families. But men are in no way disadvantaged.
Two ‘strands’ centre round two tough but fallible heroines – Carina and Aurelia – both from the leading Mitela family. They are so similar in character, but their temperaments are different. Coffee is a must for both, but Aurelia likes a French brandy and Carina a chilled Castra Lucillan white wine. But both will scale Olympus and fight to their own death to defend Roma Nova from its enemies.
Who is Alison?
Alison Morton writes the award-winning Roma Nova thriller series – ‘intelligent adventure thrillers with heart.’ She blends her deep love of Roman history with six years’ military service and a life of reading crime, adventure and thriller fiction. On the way, she collected an MA History.
All six full-length Roma Nova novels have been awarded the BRAG Medallion. SUCCESSIO, AURELIA and INSURRECTIO were selected as Historical Novel Society’s Indie Editor’s Choices. AURELIA was a finalist in the 2016 HNS Indie Award. SUCCESSIO was selected as an Editor’s Choice in The Bookseller.
A ‘Roman nut’ since age 11, Alison misspent decades clambering over Roman sites throughout Europe. Fascinated by the mosaics at Ampurias (Spain), at their creation by the complex, power and value-driven Roman civilisation, she started wondering what a modern Roman society would be like if run by strong women…
Now she continues to write thrillers, cultivates a Roman herb garden and drinks wine in France with her husband.
Social media links
Connect with Alison on her Roma Nova site: http://alison-morton.com
Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/AlisonMortonAuthor
Twitter: https://twitter.com/alison_morton @alison_morton
Alison’s Amazon page: http://Author.to/AlisonMortonAmazon
My thanks to this weeks guest for a great post. I hope you all enjoyed it.
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