Friday, 24 October 2014

NaNoWriMo - No method to the madness

I always told myself that I would write about whatever was happening in my life. There are many things that are happening, but at the moment this is the main thing that is happening...

I've resisted the temptation to post a Halloween story this year on my blog. I have a spare ghost story called 'The Shade of Hades', but it is too long to expect anyone to read it on a blog. Anyway, it's becoming a tradition that I do it and that isn't always a good thing. So, I'm sorry to anyone who expected a ghost story.

What I am doing is participating in NaNoWriMo. For those who don't know, this is a kind of marathon for writers. All through November (NaNoWriMo = National November Writing Month) writers all across the world will be trying to write 50,000 words. Sometimes into a novel.

It is an act of total folly. There is no rhyme or reason or method to this madness. It is just a matter of writing for the joy of writing (and possibly not even that). So, because it is folly, irony dictates that I should take the subject of survival as a theme.

I'm a slow writer when it comes to fiction. I can crack out a piece of journalism to deadline, but when it comes to fiction I usually take my time. My novel ('Destiny and Dynasty' (still coming out on Dec 15th)) took me years to write. Even poetry (which I have now turned away from in favour of prose) would take weeks to write.

So writing 50,000 words (which I think is about 1666 words a day) in a month is a genuine challenge.

The only useful part of the whole writing marathon is that I have a draft at the end of it. If I manage to complete it.

I'm planning to blog about it a little next month if I get the time (bearing in mind that writing time will be at a premium).

Hopefully I shall have improved as a writer by the end of it. But I still maintain that there is no method to the madness.

'A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.'

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Why I'm not rich

I've created a new book cover (above) for my upcoming book Destiny and Dynasty (now available for pre-order on Amazon here)

Here is the old version: 

The change came about when I was playing around with creating a draft cover for this year's nanowrimo writing challenge. Nanowrimo, for those who don't know, is the annual challenge in which writers attempt to write a 50,000 word novel in the month of November.

I'm a slow writer when it comes to fiction so it will be one of the hardest things I've attempted. I'm not sure I will succeed, but at least some good has come of it already.

I've become strangely obsessed with fonts during the cover design phase and was very tempted to use the following font because I seemed to come across it (or something like it) wherever I looked:

Plus, there are a few very popular books with the same tall handwriting fonts as their titles at the moment.

During the note-taking work that I do at university I sat in an accountancy lecture yesterday. The lecture was about creating the best profit margins by altering the price of a product. The idea being that there is an optimal price which you can set something at which will result in the most sales and the largest profit margin. It's a bit of an art for companies (like Apple) who want to make a lot of money.

While I was taking down the notes I thought about my upcoming book and wondered if I had set the price too low. But then I considered that there was one thing which the accountancy lecturer didn't mention when it comes to profit margins. Ethics. 

If I set the ebook price artificially high it isn't fair for people who may not have much spare money (especially as Christmas is coming up). And the only point of emulating the large publishing houses by setting an ebook price similar to the print book price is to make money.

So I've set the price of the ebook to £3, which hopefully is a fair price. I've already set the other work as low as possible (Amazon won't allow authors to publish their books for free except during promotions) and put on a lot of free promotions so that they are accessible. I think you can see why I'm not rich.

What I think indie authors don't have is the advertising. There is only so much social marketing that one person can do. Take a look at the computer game 'Destiny' which was released about a month ago. I'm not sure what the advertising budget for the game was, but it was one of the most hyped games in history. You can't really do stuff like that without the backing of a large publisher or some strange publicity stunt.

I haven't sold out yet, in any sense of the phrase. And, that fact makes you a very discerning reader.

Saturday, 4 October 2014

'I have written you an opera...'

It's pretty inevitable that (barring any major life event) I'm going to be writing about my first novel over the next few months.

At times I feel like the phantom - from the Phantom of the Opera, gatecrashing a masquerade and announcing: 'I have written you an opera'. The imaginary hushed silence is, hopefully, simply a dark fear that I hold in my worst moments (of which I have a few).

I've just put together the Amazon page so that anyone who wants to can pre-order the ebook. And it will be an ebook first. There is such a huge debate about artificially enhanced ebook prices and the way in which Amazon deal with authors that I decided to set the ebook price fairly low. The whole publishing industry seems to be in flux and I worry that it is the reader who will always lose out. So at least, as an indie author, I have the right to set the ebook price.

Why should you read this book?

My answer is that it will be an escape and I would like you to enjoy it. It won't make you a better (or worse) person. It won't give you coping strategies or make you more confident at public speaking. It won't enhance you in any way apart from being an escape from the tyranny of always feeling that you need to enhance yourself.

It was written to be enjoyed and any message which the book carries is subconscious on my part. I've not set out to promote any particular agenda (or to preach). I set out to write a story. Perhaps there are hidden messages, perhaps in books there always are.

What is it about?

I've made no secret to the fact that this story is set against the backdrop of a megachurch. There is a reason that I've selected a Christian as my hero. It is because there are so few Christian heroes in story. And there is also a reason that I've selected a Christian as my villain.

It is because I can get away with it.

Although, to be fair, many modern authors get away with creating Christian villains whether they are believers or not.

So, I mean, I have an excuse. And in this case the Christian villains are almost caricatures. That is deliberate.

But I'm pre-empting criticism...

It's a story - and it is supposed to be enjoyed. Not everyone will like it, but I hope some people will at least read it. If people don't read it, it is just one of those things. As Neil Gaiman says, whatever happens, 'make good art'.

Whether it is good art or not I will leave for you to decide. But I'm deliberately calling it art because it does have depth.

So - 'I have written you an opera' and here's the link...

Destiny and Dynasty - Amazon page