Time for a writing update! It has been a busy few months and 2023 is already getting old. The saying should really be: time flies when you have things planned. I have not given a writing update in quite some time, but this is not because I haven’t been writing. On the contrary! Let’s dive in!
Writing Good – Marketing Bad
I am bad at marketing. Primarily, I think this is due to my dislike of it. I hate telling people to spend money on something. “Forcing” people to read something is likely to cause them to hate it. Don’t believe me? Name a prescribed novel at school or university that you didn’t hate. You see?
I don’t know if you will like my work. The jokes in the Bright Report are not for everyone. The dystopian politics and solitude of the Silent Symphony isn’t what some people might call a fun time either. So, I cannot promise everyone a profound (or even fun) experience. That is why we have choice.
I know that it is a matter of finding the right audience and “targeting” them (even the marketing language makes me cringe), but here we have another issue. I did not write The Silent Symphony for a specific audience. Perhaps this is some kind of marketing sin, but I wrote it because I thought that I had something to say. I think I pulled that part off (at least judging by the handful of reviews the novel received).
Is that enough for a commercial success? Certainly not. Trying to get sales for this novel – this novel that took years from me – is a blood-from-a-stone kind of situation. It is a novel that requires some patience – something you cannot get if you force it upon people.
This is why marketing it is such a challenge.
The Bright Report, however, ought to be slightly easier. It is an anthology of comedic short stories. Everyone likes a laugh right? Well, yes, but not everyone laughs at the same things. How does one market for a specific range of humor? I do not know – not for sure.
Free Book, Anyone?
The best thing that I could come up with was a Free Book. Awkward Phrasing is a single Bright Report story about someone applying for a job at the crazy journal. It is the most introductory of introductions and I hope it gives you an idea of the tone the other stories aim for. It also makes me think that there is scope for a fully-fledged Bright Report novel down the line.
Does the free book work? Well, it is a dubious maybe. There have been downloads here and there. However, I cannot honestly say that any of these downloads have lead to a sale for the main series. It makes the free book feel like a bit of a failure: I could have spent that time on something else.
As such, Volumes 4 and 5 of the Bright Report are on the backburner a little bit. They have been planned out and some of the stories have already been written, but they feel too much like wasted effort at the moment.
Perhaps there will be more news on this by the end of the year.
Final Note on Independent Publishing
Does independent publishing work? I’m going to say that it does not work for me. I love the freedom it gives me: I can write what I want to and how I want to, but that’s it. Unfortunately, you need a lot of capital to market and distribute your books – so much so that you need a company to back you.
On your little raft built from your own meagre hopes and dreams, you are destined to drown on an ocean of industry giants and market monopolies. There are people out there who would disagree and give you a list of ways to market your book for “free”. That “free” usually has a cost to it – try to reach a large audience on Facebook, Twitter, or BookBub without paying for an ad and see how far you get.
You need someone in the industry to back you. This seems to be the only way.
As such, I will publish my horror anthology (see below) myself (as I have with the others), but I think my other books will have to haunt the inboxes of agents. Query Hell, here I come!
In my previous update, I named a whole lot of things that I was working on. While most of them are currently in a drafting or rewriting phase, I have decided to focus on the following things:
The Curse of Balar
I am quite excited about this one. When I was brainstorming ideas for Reverie (see below), there were some ideas that did not entirely fit. This is where the Curse of Balar came from. I never saw myself as a Horror Writer, but this seemed to spark something in me. Maybe it is time to embrace the darkness.
The Curse of Balar is a volume of thirteen (lucky number) short stories that build a single narrative. This gives me a chance to tell several stories from many different angles and with different voices. Also, I wanted to write scares with a point. Many works of horror have monsters, violence, gore, jump-scares, and so forth for the sake of that momentary fright. I want to do something where the terror has a purpose. Only time will tell if I pull it off, but so for, there is a mystery at the heart of Balar. A mystery that will be revealed bit by bit, story by story.
I want to do a new take on established tropes. Vampires, for example, have been done to death (I think there is a pun in there). I want to get as far away from the YA “which murderer will I date next” trope as much as I can. I need something closer to the uncanny strangeness that Bram Stoker evoke ages ago.
Watch this space for more info on this penny dreadful-esque little book.
This is the book that I won NaNoWriMo 2022 with. Since then it has outgrown its 50k word count and has become something epic. I am currently taking the wobbly first draft and rewriting it into something readable. It feels massive – it feels important. To be fair, I felt that way about Symphony, but I think there are more selling points here.
This is a Gothic Fantasy. Gothic in the Edgar Allan Poe, Wuthering Heights, Sleepy Hollow, Frankenstein sense. I did quite a lot of world building and background writing to come up with something that is (I hope) unique and contemporary.
It is about a place where remembering the past is considered blasphemous – a place where nature itself is starting to come apart. The plot follows an orphan who wants to find his parents. He stumbles upon a device that can steal memories and uses it to uncover the truth. Not all is as it seems.
It is a story about memory (hence the title), identity, and denial. The narrative feels complex, but I hope that it will feel less so when you read it. I also feel that by tackling the narrative challenges of this story, my writing is improving.
I have a good feeling about this one.
Reverie will be sent around to agents and publishers. Here’s hoping it is lucky enough to catch someone’s eye. If not, I will endeavor to bring you a polished, independently published work. I hope to do so before the end of the year.
Enough About Me
Have you read any of my work? Please let me know in the comments below. Is there something you would like to see in future?
Are you a published author? I would very much like to network with you! You can find me on Twitter (while it still lives) and infrequently on other platforms. How do you find marketing? Are you independently published or traditionally published? Please let me know.
Also, are you interested in any of my upcoming projects?
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