Category Archives: Firebird
Items related specifically to Firebird
It’s been a summer of semi-solid writing for me. A little bit selfish on my part but worthwhile all the same and very enjoyable to boot. So I’d like to offer a quick apology to my on-line friends for not seeming to be around much over the last couple of months.
I’d also like to say a big thank-you to the continuing trickle of new readers and especially those who’ve taken extra time to post reviews for Firebird and Thunder. I’m really grateful for your encouragement.
So, how’s G’host coming along then? Well, I’m satisfied with what I’ve managed over these last few weeks. I’ve written around 15,000 words of draft which takes the base text to circa 45,000 words. Allowing for edit, that’s about 40% of my target length. Importantly, these 45,000 words are the opening and, for me, this always takes the longest. Once the scenes are set, the key characters are in place and the main threads are initiated, the writing tends to feel like it’s all downhill from there. That’s not to say the rest of the story will be easy. Or that I won’t get bogged down or blocked from time to time. It’s just that the start, for me, is always the longest part of the process. Perhaps that’s because I’m a future-thinker and in my head I can always see where I’m going more clearly than where I am right now? Perhaps this is just normal for writing? Who knows?
And, on the subject of downhill from here, I suppose I should also mention that I’ve just turned fifty … Long pause … I’m not quite sure how this milestone crept up on me, or how I feel about it, but my friends and family have done a fabulous job of making sure I didn’t just ignore it! I’d like to thank them all for not allowing me to follow my normal routines and let it pass by unnoticed.
So this is where I am. Fifty, not out … and still chipping happily away.
When I published Firebird, in May 2011, I wasn’t sure what would happen. At the time I was simply bored of playing the traditional submissions-lottery with a book that was never intended to conform.
You see, there are no youthful wizards in Firebird. Nor any tribal wars fought by teenagers. There are no vampires, zombies or tortured Scandinavian policemen. I deliberately set out to avoid convention and can imagine the reaction of the publishing houses when Firebird hit their desks: “Nope,” they would have been muttering, grimly shaking their heads, “this book’s not the same enough for us…”
Three amazing years later, I’m pleased I took the plunge. I’m pleased that I released this tale of one extraordinary creature, and a handful of very ordinary humans, from its years of enforced incarceration on my hard disk drive. Why? Because there are clearly a great many readers who, like me, are on the lookout for something different. Who enjoy change. Who don’t mind if the next page is not as entirely predictable as the last.
So here I am: three years on, with two novels in circulation, both of which continue to be picked up by adventurous bookworms. I always have and shall remain eternally grateful to everyone who dips into my writing.
Would Firebird look different if I wrote it again today? The answer to that question is a resounding, yes. There isn’t a single day that goes by when I don’t discover a new nuance of language, a new word, or a new technique I might be able to apply. Would Firebird be any better if I rewrote it? I doubt it. There comes a time when too much tinkering destroys raw accessibility. As far as I’m concerned, Firebird’s a done deal now.
Besides: I’ve got too many new stories to tell and, who knows, with the amount of spare time I have for writing, I might even finish one of them by the time Firebird is six…
To be … whatever you want to be!
And on that basis, here’s a quick update on what’s been happening in my busy world over the last few weeks.
First off, I’ve managed to find a few fragments of time and done some more work on G’host. Admittedly, not as much as I’d have liked, but some all the same. I’m pleased about that, but also slightly disappointed that I’m not going to be able to post a scene from it, here, as a tribute for the holidays.
The scene I am working on suits the season very well and my idea to use it as a post is what inspired me to get back to the keyboard. Unfortunately, inspiration can only get you so far, and tiredness from several months of long work days doesn’t facilitate good prose. So the scene is coming along but is, sad to say, nowhere near ready enough for a public airing.
It is, however, nice to report that I’ve had some more, very nice, positive feedback from a number of readers over the last month. This is always a real joy. Thanks to anyone who’s ever offered encouragement to any writer: dark days haunt more than just winter months…
I could blather on about restarting my ski-fit regime in readiness for heading for the slopes next year, or about finally sorting my kitchen out after six years of putting up with randomly painted duck-egg blue walls but, as you can tell, it’s not exactly rock and roll news, and so I’m not going to waste any more of your precious seconds in the countdown to the big day…!
Rather, I’ll close by saying: to any stranger who happens past, and to all of my kind and wonderful friends, I wish you all a joyful Christmas and prosperous New Year.
See you in 2014…!
I’m not sure why, but there’s a seemingly endless fascination with rankings and chart numbers. In certain circumstances, sports for instance, this all makes sense: it’s about competition and determining victory and there are a whole host of governing bodies to ensure fair play. Charts are also considered helpful to indicate relative popularity but this kind of benchmarking is much less reliable and is liable to manipulation or abuse. Of course, you might have guessed that the charts that I seem to be most fixated with are Amazon Sales Rankings. I confess: I try not to look at them but for some reason I can’t help it! Anyway, I thought I’d share a little of what I’ve experienced about them over the last few years.
When I first published Firebird, back in 2011, the concept of ebooks was still very new. Back then, Firebird would oscillate between the top 10,000 and top 100,000 books in both the UK and US Amazon charts. At that time, the general author consensus was that if you were in the top 10,000 then that was a very good sign.
Nowadays, however, things have changed. All of the major publishing houses have, to some extent, conceded to the ebook format and published their back catalogues. Indie writers, good and bad, are pouring their wares into the e-marketplace and the trend of publishing shorter stories as “novellas” is not doing anything to reduce this literal tsunami.
So, two years on, Firebird is selling more strongly than ever – albeit that this means approximately two copies per week – but is now generally ranked as being between 100,000th and 200,000th. A good day might see it spring up to a circa 30,000th slot but, within a day, it’ll drift back into its more normal resting place.
Thunder, despite having a lower overall circulation, is not too dissimilar. It ranges between 200,000 and 500,000th.
Initially I was concerned about this. Now I’m not.
I celebrate days when either book breaks the top 100,000 as this tells me that someone new has been kind – or perhaps crazy – enough to try out my efforts and I have settled into being satisfied that if my books are anywhere in the top million then that’s still pretty impressive considering the wealth of global competition they’re up against.
And who knows? I may have to add even more zero’s to my benchmark in another couple of years!
Well my trip to Finland was, once again, extremely restful. Except for the journey home where, somehow, I managed to damage my lower back on the way to the airport. Eight hours of transit and tight connections later; I couldn’t even stand upright unassisted! Ouch …
My doctor says, “Things like this happen, as you get older…”
Thanks, Doc. That makes me feel much better…
Anyway, I’m pleased to report that I’ve made a start on the new novel and the opening pages – assuming I don’t shuffle things as I go – have been drafted. Openings are vital for any piece of writing, particularly novels. They need to drag readers in by the eyeballs and may, in the end, determine the entire success or otherwise of a story. As a result, I try not to be too precious about the opening pages. If I get a better idea later, I’ll swap stuff out. Looking back, Firebird hasn’t got a ‘bad’ start but I think Thunder’s is better. For me, I’m looking to stir up shock, confusion and to create intrigue from the get-go – although I don’t deliberately sit down and try to force this to happen – and recently I’ve been to paying more attention to missing things out, rather than putting them in… In other words, I’ve noticed that a little deft cutting sometimes adds more value than a hundred extra words…
On another subject entirely, I noticed yesterday that Amazon have adjusted their pricing regimes again. As a result, I’ve been able to reset Thunder’s pricing so that it’s a little bit lower than it’s been since publication. Other authors might also want to check out the pricing policies in detail. Certain country price points are lower than the US which, thanks to Amazon’s global price-matching rules, means that there’s a little bit of headroom to offer better deals for your readers (and for us to still get a few cents to contribute toward our next computer upgrades!).
Right, it’s time for me to go and enjoy the, highly unusual and probably short-lived, British sunshine…!
Apologies for a distinct lack of posts recently. I’ve been kept rather busy by the boring and mundane necessities of living a normal life and only being a part-time writer!
Nonetheless, I am cracking on in the background on the storyboard, character biographies and research for my next novel. Things are progressing nicely although, for the first time, I’ve realised that the scope of the tale is now definitely far beyond a single work. This is kind of tricky, and new ground for me. Whilst Firebird and Thunder are both written with open hooks for pre or sequels, the storyline I sat down with for each of them had a contained beginning, middle, and end. It was clear how much ground they’d cover. This is not the case with the new one. In fact, I’m scoping and storyboarding across what will likely be several manuscripts.
There is the option to write one, massive, blockbuster – but I’m not sure that the few fans I’ve got – or even I – have got enough patience to wait till I’ve finished it! So, as it is, I’m just marking up thoughts and ideas for later works and concentrating on honing the important components for at least a “Book One”.
It’ll be another sci-fi/fantasy/action and adventure mashup with possibly a tiny dash of UF just for the hell of it… Crazy? Maybe, but my objectives have and always will be to try to create stories that are a little bit off the beaten track!
Anyway, I also promised an update on how my pricing programme was progressing. Well at the moment, my jury is still out. Firebird does seem to be ticking over slightly more regularly at its price of 99c and Thunder is also selling the odd copy at my old base price. Recent weeks have seen a very slight upturn, but that might just be a seasonal effect. I’ll keep you posted as the months roll by.
To be honest, I’m way past thinking my books will ever earn me more than the odd pound or two and I’m genuinely excited and honoured whenever I see that someone has taken a punt to give one of them a go. And at least with slow sales I’m not under any pressure to pump out the next one!
And anyone daft, or masochistic, enough to want to publish a novel will no doubt have spotted it. However, just in case any budding book-reviewers are busy sharpening their critical pencils, the one in the title of this post is deliberate…
Anyway, what’s prompted this blog is a fascinating email I received about Firebird from Amazon last week which advised me, most helpfully:
There are typos in your book. You can see this error at the following Kindle location(s): 6548 … “An unusual number compared to the surrounding arid countryside.”
i.e. the sentence in quotations contains a typo…
Well, I looked and I looked…
And I looked some more…
‘This must be a real cracker of a typo,’ I thought to myself. ‘Not like that blistering, bold typeface, spelling mistake I just saw in the middle of XYZ [yep: my self-preservation instincts force me to refrain from naming of oft-offending but otherwise entertaining novel, and its perhaps-responsible professional publishing house]…’
So I tried reading each word out loud. First forwards, then backwards…
Nope. Still nothing…
Then I noticed that Amazon had kindly offered their erudite wisdom to aid me: poor illiterate that I am.
Anyone want to hazard a guess as to what I’d apparently got wrong?
Well, according to Amazon, my sentence should read:
“An unusual number compared to the surrounding and countryside.”
You may need to look carefully… I had to; before I laughed out loud…
I have, of course, not inserted the above, grammatically-incorrect and ill-advised text into my book… The word arid is welcome in my vocabulary, and it can stay just exactly where I’d carefully placed it in Firebird.
So, has this experience diminished my paranoia of all things typographical? Not a chance. My passion to eradicate any real mistakes I might find lurking somewhere on my pages remains indefatigable… Or as an Amazon proofreader would perhaps have it: in the fat gable…?
Typos, eh? I think they’re just the fingers’ way of keeping authors’ minds humble…
There’s not much writing going on at the moment: partly because the routine distractions of life are preventing me from having much mental bandwidth and partly because I’m simply not in the mood. Given that my writing is a hobby, I’m not going to try to force myself…
Instead, I’m trying a bit of an experiment. Having two books in circulation gives me the opportunity to try out different pricing regimes.
I’ve always kept my pricing as low as possible within the constraints of Amazon’s royalty-based rules. I’ve also learned, from promotions, the risks of ascribing zero value to a book. One thing I’ve not done so far is try out the lowest royalty band and, as the levels of royalty I receive are pretty much nil, now seems a good time to play with a few changes!
Personally, I think Thunder is a big step forwards from Firebird; so I’ve been considering for a long time adjusting my pricing to reflect this. Although, as an aside, the first US review for Thunder claims that Firebird is better… hey ho… each to their own…!
Anyway, for a few weeks I’m going to trial having Firebird at the lowest price point available to me: 0.99 cents. Let’s see how it goes and I’ll let you know if I see any results…
I’m back from my trip to Canada. The long journey was recompensed by lots of nice powder-snow, some bright sunshine, and news that the UK was colder – at times – than British Columbia! Have to admit: it is blooming chilly here… Roll on Spring!
I’ve noticed that, whilst I was away, both Firebird and Thunder have picked up some nice reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. I’m always very grateful for any words of support and encouragement, so thank-you to those who have taken time to write them! I really appreciate your support.
Am still storyboarding my next project which will be a return to a science-fantasy, action and adventure, theme. More news and updates shortly…
[Now then, where did I pack my woolly jumpers…???]