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Sunday, 29 December 2013

AN AUTHOR’S LIBRARY AT YEAR’S END.

Did I clear loads of shelves when I tackled unread books? No. I set out to read at least a book a week in 2013. Did I demolish 52 tomes? I did, with weeks to spare, for I read more than 60 books this year. Action. Consequence.
   I knew I’d take a hit on word-count, going in with that attitude. Here’s the thing. I wanted to. More time reading and more time organising meant less time writing. I’d radically reinvent time if I could, but I just don’t have the space.
   Last year I put out a million words. I think I may have been lucky to read a dozen books that year. More than likely, I managed half that.
   Did I fare badly, one orbit later? I published a third of a million words this year. Life stumbled in the way. Would I have been happy with a greater output?
   No. Truth is, I’m grumbling about managing a third of a million. Should have settled for a quarter. Yes, writers fear burnout if they are smart about writing too damned much.
   What does the future hold? Jetpacks for all. No, wait, that’s some weird American 1955 future world. So my future holds water, if nothing else. As the year’s end loomed, I felt I wanted to achieve a realistic writing goal.
   Realistic goal? Write an instant smash-hit genre-defining cast-iron classic. Realistic? No. You’d employ steel of a stainless variety, for starters. This is what I went after. The Amazon carousel on my blog holds up to ten items. I had nine sitting there.
   Put a tenth item on that carousel by year’s end. Doable?
   Done. And now? Finish projects I started. Help other authors. Continue blogging. Begin a new archive. Engage with the internet, now that I have the internet.
   How much did adding the internet affect my writing? I gained the mystical line to the web in September. By then I was hovering around 300,000 words of output in one form or another. I could have closed off another project and added 100,000 to the total, putting me one novel shy of a half-million.
   Instead, I found myself spending a huge amount of time throwing some blogging plans together for the world’s first ever READ TUESDAY. There was much to learn. And there still is.
   The wind howls at my back, pressing on the windows. Hell, it could be a Scottish summer I’m describing, with the amount of rain that worries the panes. I write from the depths of winter. 

*

Yes. Begin a new archive. I recommend doing that by first putting the old archive in order. Recently I discovered Amazon has no outward memory. I updated book blurb by adding bold type. To feed that massive change into Amazon, the whole book must be republished. You gain a new publication date as a result.
   Internally, on the Amazon dashboard, the original date of publication is preserved. Saves a lot of hassle if your ability to keep records is somewhat lacking. Watch out for those quirks.
*

So now there are ten items on my carousel gadget. Ten products. Go and buy them. Buy one, at least. Okay, at the very least, go and read the start of one of my books on Amazon. They are all free to read at the start. What’s stopping you? Nothing.
   I know. World doesn’t owe me any favours. Well, I turn up to write these books. The people who turn up to read them are few and far and rare and…entertained. I don’t much care for the notion of reaching my audience one reader at a time. Good, but slow.
   Those who turn up to read the stories like them. Spread the word. Get people reading. Yes, do it for me. The more people do that for me, the more stories I can write. It’s a virtuous circle – if you believe what I do for readers is virtuous.
   Being a digital author with no access to the internet was hard. I published from my phone. This was easier than blogging from my phone. Now that I have access to the internet, I am swamped by advice on how to crack that audience and make myself millions. I don’t care. Seriously. I think what I should be doing is writing and publishing more stories.
   Should I automate my Twitter feed and aggravate everyone with endless plugs for my work? I’d rather post a photo of a cream bun I am about to demolish. (Been there. Done that.) That’s how much I care about the dreaded Search Engine Optimisation and the much-lauded (and derided) Return on Investment.™
   If I turn myself into a robot, only the machines will read my work. Right now, I have maybe half a dozen people and two weevils reading my stories. They are uproariously entertained. It can’t go on like that, of course. Weevils are not noted for adherence to tales featuring gerbil porn. 

*

What was that about? Stating a mission? That, with the internet at my fingertips, I should now devote myself to grabbing an audience through fair means or foul? I love writing stories. They can’t take that away from me. So I’ll look into gaining an audience without turning into a clockwork writer.
   Bzzzt.

*

READ TUESDAY was set up as a winter sale day for books. How many books did I buy? None. My book embargo is in place. Finish writing what I started and finish reading what I bought. On the day I plugged other authors and their discounted works, I couldn’t walk an extra step in the book-buying direction. A mile in those shoes is a long bloody trudge…
   And so I have resolutely battered sale after sale out of my way. Each mightier than the last, to steal from Tennyson. Even chopping down more than a book a week, I’ll be a long time chewing through those free shelves I’ve stacked up and racked up.
   Support for authors comes and goes in many forms. Featuring people on the blog. Going backstage and chatting about formatting problems. On the 25th of December 2013, I was recovering from a massive meal and giving copyright and contract advice to another writer.
   Yes, that was my Christmas.
   Writers are always on the job. I should have been editing MURDER BOX, which I published on the 27th anyway. Mr Scrooge let me have a minute or two off. 

*

The future? Helping more writers, even when I haven’t the time or inclination. For I’ll never have the time. I am always stuck with the inclination. Somehow, I’ll get by.
   Writers call in and leave notes. I’m being told, in dribs and drabs, that my stories are entertaining and that I’m going to make it in this business. We’ll see. There’ll be more to discover on the risks and rewards of editing. Books are built to be consumed.
   (Though I keep looking at H. Melville, and end up backing away each time.)
   Just there I wrote a story about murderous characters and their waspish comments. For many reasons, MURDER BOX was one of the hardest stories I’d written. I was glad to see the back of it when I was done. But I still enjoyed writing the awkward thing.
   If you read this far, go all the way to Amazon. Pick up a free Kindle reading app. Then grab one of my stories. Grab some other writer’s story, too. No rivals here. ;) 

*
After writing that post, I felt like slashing the hell out of it. Changed my mind. Thought it negative. Well, I say positive things behind the clouds. So I’ll end with this…
   Thanks. To anyone who picked up my books in the recent sales. I’ll thank everyone for the honesty of their reviews. Behind the scenes, I received help from assorted authors who made a point of giving their time to me even though they had no time to give. (Cough, Vanderkarr. Splutter, Biozarre.)
   And I helped authors. Sitting there on the 25th of December encouraging a writer to get out of her publishing contract as soon as physically possible, I knew I was doing good. Offering to format and edit stuff so that writers had a shot at getting out of a financial hole. That was good too.
   I’ve yet to commit to a single project in that area. If my next year’s word-count is lower than this year’s, I’ll shoulder the blame of editing other writers into publishing existence with a song in my heart. Must choose that song.
   Insert your choice of song in the comments below.

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