Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Wow, my third book...

I've just updated the banner on my Facebook page to include the cover art for my third novella, "From The Top", which will be published in April. And it might sound strange, but that was when it really hit me - I'll soon have published three books!

It also struck me that I won't be able to fit a fourth one into the banner! I'll need to do something else when that's published. Yes, it's being written, but still early days.

I'm thinking about creating my own author website, but I need to be sure I want to do that, and decide what to do with it. And of course, I need to be willing to spend more of my limited free time working on that in addition to the other social media I need to engage in. Oh, and writing other stories.

Writing a book is a strange sort of process. I start off thinking about the story, the characters, the scenes and incidents, then write it all down. This is definitely the hardest part, but I really enjoy it. It feels a bit like the story already exists and wants me to write it. I often "see" the scenes as still images or short video clips in my imagination, and then try to write down an adequate description. I may even write out some scenes and incidents as and when I think of them, then write the rest around them.

As each novella is part of a series, I need to ensure there are no "continuity" or timeline problems, that the overall "feel" is consistent, and that character development is plausible.

I also want each one to work well enough as a stand-alone story. Which means figuring out how little backstory I need to include to set the scene and give context to this particular story.

Once that's done, I submit it to my constructive critiquing group in the hope that (a) they say it's entertaining and (b) some of them offer helpful suggestions.

After that, it's revision time. I don't mind that stage at all, as the whole idea is to tell the story as well as possible. I never over-write a draft, but save the revision as a new document. Well, I may change my mind about a change. With this novella, I think I left it alone for three weeks, then collated the comments I'd received and went through my draft a total of four times. Each time resulted in a new draft manuscript.

Then I sent it to my publisher's editor.

And tried not to feel nervous.

Getting an e-mail from the publisher offering a contract gives me a real lift every time. It means other people like my story enough to invest time and money turning it into a book to sell

Actually, I had something constructive to do while I was waiting - come up with an idea about the cover and try to find suitable images on my publisher's preferred stock photo sites. Every time, I've found this far harder than I expected. I've found it rather tedious wading through page after page of photos.

Perhaps I've just been unlucky, but I've found the range of images are on some of these sites to be surprisingly limited. Lots and lots of pretty women who seem to be in the late teens or early twenties, but few who look like they're in their thirties. And how come every man with long hair has to have a beard as well? I'm seriously thinking of trying to find suitable models and taking my own photos in the future. In fact, the lower half of the cover art for my second novella was a photoshop merging of two of my own photos - the knights in armour and the Dartmoor landscape.

I've worked with editors on every story which has been published, and in every case, I found them to be really helpful and constructive. They already think my story has potential and want to help me tell it as well as possible. We've had some great e-mail conversations along the way, often about differences in English usage between the UK and US. There's usually a compromise which keeps us both happy.

Then, once it's published, all I can do is try to tell people about it, hope they buy and read a copy, and keep my fingers crossed that as many as possible will be motivated to post reviews on e-book sites.

Oh well, back to thinking about book 4 in my series. I've got to think of some entertaining ways to give my characters an uncomfortable time...

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