#43 Plan the next novel



Although the first novel hasn’t been published yet (August 1st 2017 is the tentative release date) I am close to finishing the first rough draft of the third novel and so thoughts inevitably turn to the fourth which I will start writing from next week.

The first novel I just started writing with no idea of what was going to happen in the story. The protagonist changed from being a man to a woman fairly early in and the chapters were reordered substantially during the edit.

With the second and third novels I started with an idea and started writing so that I didn’t know how the novels would finish until I was quite close to writing the end. The advantage of this method is that if I am interested in finding out how the story is going to end then the chances are that the readers are also going to be interested in finding out what happens to the characters. I find that as I am writing I don’t know what decision the character’s are going to make until they make them.

The disadvantage to this approach is in the structure of the story because it is much harder to create a good narrative arc with this method.

The next novel I intend to write is based on a true story so I have to be much more careful to plan our the narrative arc beforehand to ensure that the story is pleasurable to read and maintains the tension until the end.

Today I planned out a rough plan of 34 chapters which were based on a screenplay I wrote about the same story over six years ago.

I intend to use this rough plan as a guide when I begin writing the story which I hope to finish by Christmas.

It will be interesting to see whether this method shows dividends when it comes to the structural edit.

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#42 Preparing the first novel to be published


I’m rapidly approaching my first self-imposed deadline for the completion of my third novel so the first task of the day is to complete my self-imposed word count for that which is a painful process. I only hope that when I read the thing back in a couple of months that it doesn’t read as badly as writing it feels right now.

Once the word count is out of the way I can then move on to task two for the day which is preparing my first novel for its launch for which I have self-imposed a deadline of August 1st.  Having received some really good feedback from readers I’ve just finished making all the changes I can bear to make and have decided that enough is enough and I am going to release it onto the unsuspecting public.

To be honest, at this stage I’m not really bothered about how well it is received I just want to get rid of it and move on to the second novel.

I sent the final text to the person who is going to design the cover for me and the plan is that she is going to create three alternatives which I will test via social media before deciding on the final version.

While that process is taking place I decided that I would prepare the text for formatting so, to get an idea of the kind of things to include in the end matter I downloaded a free Mark Dawson short story from Amazon to see how he did it. They say never reinvent the wheel so I have appropriated his ideas for my own book before loading the text up to draft2digital which is an online formatting service.

The process was so unbelievably easy that I now have all this spare time left over to write this blog. Basically, my ebook is ready, all I need to do is drop in the front cover and it’s ready to go.

I have already set up Amazon and Draft2digital accounts and have completed the US tax interviews so everything is ready to go.

Once the cover ideas are ready I will need to send them out to social media and once the final design is chosen then I will need to create some ads to promote the book but it is undoubtedly true that the hardest thing to do is to write the book in the first place.

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#41 Watching the Eurovision Song Contest.


I’m on track with my daily word count and though I could dedicate my evening to more rewriting of that tricky first novel in order to meet my self imposed deadline of publishing it by the end of July, instead I think I’ll take time off to see a spectacle I anticipate almost as much as Christmas – the Eurovision Song Contest.

Brits love to deride the contest. Partly because the rest of Europe usually refuses to vote for us but also because we consider ourselves to be better at music than everyone else.

Well, we do have The Beatles, The Who, The Stones, Belle and Sebastian, Adele and Ken Dodd. Who has Europe got? Aha, ABBA, Falcao, the Goom Bay Dance Band? Quite a clear cut case I agree. But that does not diminish in the slightest the entertaining spectacle which the Eurovision provides.

Last year200 million people in 40 countries watch the show including 8.5 million in the UK, 3 million more than in 2010. These are comparable numbers with the prime time viewing figures on the other channel, proving that, despite what the British media might want us to think, Brits do want to watch the Eurovision.

And why not? The competition is full of the good, the bad and the ugly. This year’s representative from the UK, Lucie Jones, an incredibly talented professional performer is unlikely to receive many points for post-brexit Britain but so what. The competition is making a big deal about celebrating diversity this year and diverse it certainly is. Who can forget the Russian grannies, Dana International, Lordi the finnish heavy metal band, Verka the Ukranian with a silver star on his head, Celine Dion, Katie Price, ABBA, Lulu, Sandy Shaw, Bucks Fizz, Brotherhood of Man, Nicole. I’m getting emotional just thinking about it all.

Only an hour to go so I’d better print off my score cards and do some serious writing avoidance. Enjoy.

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#40 More re-writing


I am fortunate enough to have a handful of people to whom I can send my manuscripts and receive useful feedback of the kind that would cost me a lot of money if I hired a structural editor.

The feedback has highlighted all the niggling doubts I had about the novel and if this handful of people has doubts about areas I myself have questioned then the chances of these being issues for readers when I publish the book is very high so they need to be fixed. The changes are fundamental enough for me to put the cover designs on hold as the very theme of the novel and therefore the title may change.

I was disappointed to discover that despite having gone through the manuscript twice with Grammarly, my readers still identified a number of grammatical errors. I don’t know whether this is because Grammarly hadn’t saved the changes or because I clicked ‘ignore’ on suggestions I really shouldn’t have done. Either way, I am trying to get another free week of Grammarly Premium to check the entire manuscript again. If I can’t get another free trial then I’ll just have to pay. There is a one month trial period so, if I discover that Grammarly is to blame then I can always unsubscribe.

I really should send the novel to a professional proofreader but at this stage, I don’t have the budget. I would rather spend money on a decent cover design and take my risks with the content which I am obviously trying to get to as high a standard as I can on my budget. Despite the saying, people do judge a book by its cover.

I feel the prospect of another re-write a bit daunting but I accept that it is absolutely necessary before I can release my work on the general public who will not be as forgiving as my friends and family.

Having set myself a pretty low daily word count of 429 on my third novel, I can reach this target while traveling to and from work on the metro which means I can dedicate the time between when I get home and when my wife arrives to re-write the first novel.

Meanwhile, the second novel is currently being read by my trusted group. I shudder to think what structural changes they will suggest but my mind remains open because I know that they will be right.

On top of all this, I keep tweeting, blogging and updating my facebook page in an attempt to build some kind of organic following which will be my springboard from which to launch the first novel once it is ready.

In preparation, I have set up my accounts with Kindle Direct Publishing and Direct2digital. Very exciting.

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#39 Develop an addiction to candy crush saga


I have always, generally speaking, avoided video games. The reason for this is that once I start playing I usually can’t stop.

During my wife’s recent stay in hospital, she passed quite a lot of the time playing candy crush saga and when I got bored of rewriting my second novel I played a bit as well. It didn’t affect me much until the moment when the phone told me I was banned from playing candy crush for half an hour. As soon as so became aware of the possibility that I might not be allowed to play candy crush, this ignited a desire within me to play  the game which outweighed any other desire. I now wanted to play candy crush more than anything in the world and twenty nine minutes later I found myself counting down the seconds before my next go.

Every time I failed the clear a level, the desire to play became greater until yesterday, I found myself not meeting my daily word count because I was too busy playing the Damn game.

Today, I had to be really disciplined to meet my word count, finish editing my second novel, breach my Mail Chimp agreement and write a couple of blog posts before opening candy crush.

Now that is all done I can get back to playing the game again. If you have recieve a request from me to donate me additional goes at candy crush please ignore it. (I don’t mean that).






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#38 Struggle with Facebook Ads and Mail Chimp lists

I’ve been so convinced by the conversations on the Self Publishing Formula podcasts that I decided to create some experiments of my own.

In he first experiment, I boosted one of my Facebook posts by paying R$3 (US$1) So that and extra 107 people saw the post on top of the 25 people who would have seen it ‘organically’.

Thid encouraged me to experiment more by creating a Facebook As offering one of my short stories for anyone who signed up to my email list. I paid R$35 (US $12) for this ad which was viewed by 1,489 people. I had specifically requested  people in the UK who had ‘liked’ The Girl on the Train, The Night Circus, To Kill a Mocking Bird and Me Before You. Of the people who saw my ad, two people clicked to request the short story, driving up the number of people on my mailing list to the heady heights of 12.

Not wanting to leave these two individuals waiting for their short story, I created an email in Mail Chimp, created a downloadable link for the short story, and pressed send.

The next thing I knew was that I had received an email from Mail Chimp telling me that they had suspended my account for a breach Id their terms. I’m still waiting to hear what that breach was.

During my acceptance speech for the Novel Prize for Literature or the Mann Booker Prize I am going to refer people to this blog post to show the humblingly slow beginnings that self published authors endure.

Meanwhile, I have finished editing my second novel and am keeping up with my word count on the third.

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#37 Sitting in a hospital waiting room

No matter how much a look after ourselves, which in my case isn’t very much, we inevitably feel a bit under the weather from time to time. Everyone knows that the GP is the first stop for any illness other than a medical emergency but here in Brazil it can be quite tricky to get an appointment with the GP in a hurry so most Brazilians tend to use their local accident and emergency department as a drop in centre. It’s the only way to get prompt attention.

Waiting times vary at these places but there is nearly always a wait and if tests are required then the whole thing could take hours.

Normally all this waiting around would be the perfect time to do a bit of writing but if you are feeling under the weather then writing is probably the last thing you want to do.  If you are accompanying the patient then it seems a bit rude to scribble away when really you’re meant to be keeping them company.

I’ve just started a lead generation as campaign on Facebook so while accompanying my wife while she waits for her tests, I check every five minutes to see whether anyone has clicked on one of my ads. Oh yes, and I’ve written this blog but I don’t think she noticed.

Blogs don’t require the same effort as novels. With novels I have to immerse myself in the world and that makes it a bit tricky when someone wants to ask me a question because it takes a few seconds for my mind to return to the real world. With blogs, I stay in the real world so responding to questions from the real world is less tricky.

So, all things considered, hospital waiting rooms are great places to avoid writing.

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