Brave New World – I'm now a full-time writer
It's a curious feeling, to be sitting at my desk, knowing that I am no longer forced to make time for my writing; that I can write whenever I want to write.
On Friday last I finished work and drifted through the doors to my building, out into the street, leaving fifteen years of law behind me. In the last few years, as I have learned the craft of writing and the art of storytelling, I've been forced to find time in the folds of my life to write. In particular, the last 14 months have been an interesting, challenging and inspiring period for me.
However, with the publication of The Heretic, I have taken the first steps on what I imagine will be a long, and bumpy road with plenty of alternative paths to consider and negotiate. The world of publishing is changing. It is becoming flooded with poorly-edited, ill-considered offerings, but there are many hugely talented authors deservedly finding readers. The traditional publishing old-guard seem unhappy about this, of course, and the Amazon-Hachette debate continues among authors, publishers and distributors alike. With the introduction of Kindle Unlimited, and the uncertainty around royalties from the scheme for each borrow/sale, authors who have found success in self-publishing, and those who are still finding their feet, face a new challenge – negotiating the shifting sands of a new landscape.
As with most new things Amazon does, a degree of trepidation has ensued as to how this will pan out and how it will affect self-published authors. We so desperately want to write great books and have them discovered (and be paid to continue doing that). Amazon has given us a way to achieve that; to avoid the self-appointed 'fat-cat' gatekeepers who seemingly now only want the top tier to be successful because that’s who they can sell with the least amount of input and effort. We suddenly find ourselves with a route to our dreams and, although the road there is crowded, the best and most hard-working among us have realised that if we release books frequently, and those books have great stories, compelling characters, attractive covers and smack-you-in-the-face blurb, we can help our work be discovered (because so many others are dawdling, convinced that Amazon owed them a living because they're artists).
The Heretic has been well-received – perhaps more so than I ever thought it would be. Beyond the Wall, as a series, looks set to reach at least seven books, each a similar length (around 200 pages, 50,000 words) and every day I get closer to finishing Defiance, the next in the series. The structure of that book, and the series as a whole, is almost complete, but it's a flexible beast which allows my imagination to create as I write. The themes gain new ways to be explored with every minute I spend thinking about the series and the characters grow in intensity as I write. I am loving every second of my planning and my writing. And now I have the time to do it.
I plan to release each new instalment every three months.
But when it comes to getting them 'discovered', suddenly, the game has changed. The road has become a little bumpier and a fog has drifted across the way ahead. We’re not sure, and we’re assuming that the golden castle might have begun to crumble and we’re walking towards a nuclear holocaust, when in fact the castle might well still be there twinkling in the sunshine beyond. We might as well keep sprinting towards it because either our dreams are still real behind that fog, or we’re about to end up radioactive waste – either way, the sooner we find out, the better. Readers want great books. We write great books. There will always be a way to get what we write into the hands of readers and the same strategies we’ve always employed – writing well-editing books, building a mailing list, having a place for fans to drop by and find out more – they are more valid now than ever.