Why A Writing Career Is Like Playing An MMO
In case you missed it, I did a piece for Fantasy-Faction earlier this month where I talk about why a writing a career is a bit like playing a MMO. A lot of people have told me they liked this article so do be sure to check it out!
So I realise that I’ve been very quiet since coming back from storm chasing. Those who have somehow missed the “worst kept secret of 2015” have asked me if I’ve “stopped the writing thing”. No, the reason I’ve been quiet is because a LOT has been happening behind the scenes these past couple of months.
I’m happy to say I now have an agent… and an exceptional agent at that.
Caitlin Blasdell of Liza Dawson Associates has an amazing industry record and I would have rated her well within the top 5 genre agents in the world even if she’d rejected me. She represents Brian McClellan and Charlie Stross amongst others and I still can’t believe that she now represents me. I honestly cannot express into words just how stunned I am.
I’ve been trying to draft everything that’s happened into a single blog post, but I think they’re better being split out into separate articles. I’ll do one on my agent process and what worked for me (it’s a little boring so don’t expect any real insight, but I know I read a lot of similar blog posts by other authors and they helped even if just reinforcing what I already knew). I’ll also do one about the experience and the excitement surrounding it (because I sound slightly deranged in it but it’s a happy post that is the written equivalent of me having to breath into a paper bag whilst hyperventilating). Look for those over the next couple of weeks.
So for now, let me just say that I’m hard at work on doing rewrites on Black As Knight. The editorial feedback she gave me was so incredibly helpful and as much as I loved the book before, this rewritten version is going to be incredible. Progress is a little slower than my first drafts but I’m still a good 20-30,000 words into the rewrite.
As you can imagine, I’m very, very excited about the future (I’ve had to level up my aspirations as a writer many, many levels over the past couple of weeks) but after a few weeks of bouncing around with glee, I’m knuckling down and getting the work done.
Working hard is what got me here, and that’s what will carry me on. And the end of the day, whilst I’m enjoying the journey it’s not at the expense of getting stuff done.
So I’m aware I’ve been incredibly quiet since coming back from storm chasing. We’re nearly half way through the month and I’ve not posted an update in nearly two weeks.
Whilst it’s true to say I haven’t done a lot of writing, I have been really busy. There’s been some huge things going on in the background over the last month that you’ll all hear about in good time. And I do mean truly huge! I can hardly contain my excitement.
It’s meant that I’ve had to completely re-jig my schedule and prioritise some other work. But that’s fine, my approach to the Year of Hard Work was always that if something came along I could rejig and reprioritise without everything falling apart. Looks like that’s now going to be put to the test!
I’ve spent the last couple of weeks dealing with the business side of writing and I’m sure I’ll have a blog post or two on that when the time is appropriate. I’ve also been doing a LOT of outlining as well (Project Ultron). And remembering something I read in a Neil Gaiman interview I read once… I’m taking a bit of time to enjoy the journey.
But it’s now time to knuckle back down and return to the word mines. However, far from being a grim prospect I’m actually eager to jump back in and get to work. The first six months of this year have been hard work, it looks like the next six months are going to be even harder.
Bring it on!
If there’s one writing project that’s fallen behind schedule this year, then it has to be the mysteriously named Project Tornado.
My plan was that this would go live in early February, and what are we now? Mid-March? Six weeks later.
In many ways there’s good reason for this. This has been me dipping my toe into uncharted waters and seeing how deep that water is. The answer: a lot deeper than I thought. As a result, this project has grown a lot in scale in those additional six weeks.
So what is Project Tornado, I hear you ask? Well it’s my folly – my very own digital imprint – Tornado Press.
We don’t like to think of writing in terms of a business. It’s art, and art and business don’t mix! But the thing I’m continually learning is that in order to be a ‘professional’ writer (and by that I mean someone who makes money from it) you have to walk that tightrope.
I’ve had a few people comment that with everything I’m doing right now, I don’t seem to be too focused on the business side of things. I seem to be jumping from one project to another, as if I’m chopping and changing rather than focussing on one thing. And when I tell them some of the things I’m working on in the background, it just further cements that view.
New Fantasy-Faction Article on Evernote
Continuing my look at software for writers, this month over at Fantasy-Faction I take a look at the note-taking application, Evernote. If you do a lot of research of amass a lot of notes, whether it be as a writer or elsewhere, it’s worth checking out this software.
I’m hearing a lot of people trying to sum up their goals for 2015 into a single word. This extends to a lot of writers. I’m the odd one out it seems as I have two words: “hard work”.
But one word (that is one word long) I’ve been hearing over and over again from writers is “diversification”.
Once a month, I submit an article and it gets posted to Fantasy-Faction. There are loads of others who do likewise and a couple of people like Mark & Jennie who work their socks off for the site. Having run Action-Figure, I know just how much work goes into running a big site (and the stress that goes with it – never again!) and I have nothing but admiration for Mark & Jennie.
After a few award nominations Fantasy-Faction has won a Reddit Stabby award. This is awesome recognition and well-deserved! I’m very proud of the site and the work it’s done and pleased that it is getting the attention it deserves. Well done!
I have to be honest – I’m going to miss 2014. It was such a good year for me that it’s going to be hard to top. I’d set out to have a Year of Adventure and I certainly managed that.
In between all the house buying, tornado chasing, and sword stabbing I also managed to get a lot written. Probably the most I’ve ever done. The sad thing is that the results of that hard work never got to be seen by anyone. That’s publishing for you!
But I’m determined to capitalise on the work I’ve done and continue to push myself forward. It might be 2016 or 2017 before I reap the benefits of that work but I don’t want to slack off just yet.
And so 2015 is my Year of Hard Work – a year to knuckle down, shut myself off from the world a little and just get a tonne of shit done. I was pretty productive in 2014, but I intend to see just how far I can push it.
Hence the last couple of days I’ve been working on the last chapters of Thieving King, doing some submission work on Black as Knight, researching my next book, and starting work on a proposal. January is going to be insanely busy.
Because of this and because of things I learnt in 2014, rather than plan the whole year out, I’m going to take things as they come. Projects have been shuffled around based on which one seems the best fit at the time and matches my career aims best. So rather than plan all my 2015 projects right away, I’ll just work on this one and then when it’s done choose the next one. At least that’s the current plan, I intend to be flexible as needs must.
I’m very excited about the 2015 projects I’m already working on but I’m not ready just yet to start talking about them.
But what I can say with a fair amount of confidence is that after a lot of delay and heartache, barring any major issues, The Thieving King should see release in 2015. I know, it’s been too long a wait and I intend for a MUCH shorter gap before the next book in the series. It’s the largest book I’ve ever written so hopefully that will go a small way toward compensating for the delay.
So here’s to 2015. There’s a lot of writing ahead, a lot of hard work (hence why I’m writing blog posts at 1am). Let’s hope it proves as successful as the Year of Adventure did!
With Black As Knight out the way, I spent some time last night scheduling the remaining work needed to get the final draft of The Thieving King done. It’s a huge, complex book and I really started to appreciate all the planning I put into this draft which should make it easier now I’m in the meat of the novel. Still, I reckon I can get it done by my internal deadline, even allowing for all the other craziness that’s currently going on in my life.
But, as if to remind me Thieving King needs to deliver as much as its prequel, I got a couple of bits of good news about The Four Realms.
It appears that The Four Realms is current on offer at Amazon for just £1.02 in the UK and 99c in the US! So if you’ve been considering picking the book up then now is a good time. I have no idea how long the promotion will be running for, so best not delay.
The Four Realms also recently got voted as one of Reddit R/Fantasy’s Official Underrated and Underread Fantasy. Whilst the main vote is now over, there’s an ongoing poll over at Goodreads. I’m currently sitting at #16. So if you loved the book (or indeed loved any of the others listed), please be sure to go vote.
Which leads me to the last point. If you’ve read the book and love it, or even if you didn’t, please be sure to go and rate the book at places like Amazon and Goodreads. Aside from being a major ego boost when someone posts how much they loved your novel (and trust me on days when you discover massive plot holes and have unco-operative characters, you need it!), small press books like mine really, really depend on word of mouth and reviews at places like Goodreads or Amazon. You honestly have no idea how much. False platitudes aren’t going to help anyone but honest reviews might just help someone find a book they love.
It’s a bit of a catch 22 situation. You need honest reviews to get people to consider your book and possibly buy it. But you need people to buy it so they can review it. So if you have two minutes to either rate or review, I’d really, really appreciate it.