AFTER PUBLICATION DAY

The first two weeks after publication day are vital for your promotion while your book is on top of the list. After this there will be another batch of new books fighting for recognition and you’re pushed down the line.

When Where Shadows Fall was published, Book Guild kept to their promise to do the publicity but as they said, “You can offer a book for sale but you can’t make people buy it.”

They tried to impress on me that I should also do my own promotion by persuading friends and family to write comments on Amazon with a star rating. With my limited computer know-how I failed to do a wider publicity although through my hobby, clubs and friends I did sell nearly 100 books.

The main problem for further outlets came because my novel was launched as a hardback priced £17.95 just as the recession hit. With foresight I would have chosen paperback for cheaper sales and postage. It cost me £8 to post copies to friends in Oz and NZ.

I received 20 free books but after that I had to buy more at a discounted price + postage despite the fact I had paid for the printing. It gave me a minimal profit as I could only sell them at Amazon prices or even lower to friends.

Was it worthwhile? – see next week

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RESEARCH IN OVERLOAD

 

The secret in using an abundance of research material is in knowing what to leave out. I had some lovely stories about NZ, but would they be relevant to this novel? The Scottish immigrants had ousted most of the Maoris from the South island but sacred places remained such as for funeral rituals.

A cave on the sheep station had potential. If a girl’s body was found there it could create trouble with the Maoris. A good storyline if Tom’s brother was accused of the girl’s murder.

It’s a case of starting with an idea gleaned from the research and playing a game of consequences as one thing leads to another. This story ends with a wedding.

The cave could also be useful in different circumstances for the sequel novel. I was still left with plenty of researched material from which I could find other storylines in the following books.

Writing THE END is where the real work begins. Never send out a Mss until it is fully edited and facts double checked. I discovered that research didn’t tell me everything I needed to know.

 

PS: my blog is about to be moved to a new host. It will be :-

wordpress@berylsfridaywritingblog.co.uk

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RESEARCH IN OVERLOAD

 

The secret in using an abundance of research material is in knowing what to leave out. I had some lovely stories about NZ, but would they be relevant to this novel? The Scottish immigrants had ousted most of the Maoris from the South island but sacred places remained such as for funeral rituals.

A cave on the sheep station had potential. If a girl’s body was found there it could create trouble with the Maoris. A good storyline if Tom’s brother was accused of the girl’s murder.

It’s a case of starting with an idea gleaned from the research and playing a game of consequences as one thing leads to another. This story ends with a wedding.

The cave could also be useful in different circumstances for the sequel novel. I was still left with plenty of researched material from which I could find other storylines in the following books.

Writing THE END is where the real work begins. Never send out a Mss until it is fully edited and facts double checked. I discovered that research didn’t tell me everything I needed to know.

 

PS: my blog is about to be moved to a new host. It will be :-

wordpress@berylsfridaywritingblog.co.uk

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MORE RESEARCH,PLOTTING AND PLANNING

I had reached a stage in writing my novel where I needed to do more research, plotting and planning. It meant keeping continuity, carrying the story forward and at the same time thinking about the sequel book.

            The family were now leaving their problems in Australia and moving over to New Zealand. Here I was more on home ground. I was born in NZ but my parents returned to England just before my 3rd birthday so my memory is a blank. They talked much about their time there and I have always taken an interest in my birthplace throughout my life.

Two separate members of my Writers Circle had lived in NZ for much of their lives and decided to retire in the UK. Each gave me much literature including government white papers that proved invaluable for statistics. They both came from the around the Christchurch area which inspired me to set my story there. They have since returned to NZ.

Gradually I had acquired second hand books covering all aspects of the area and country as a whole. Friends on tour brought home hundreds of photos, maps and booklets. TV programmes also helped to give me background knowledge.

I had so much material to hand and vivid pictures in my mind. I was ready to start writing part 3 of “Where Shadows Fall.”

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PLANNING AHEAD

When writing family sagas involving several books, each has to stand alone at the same time maintain accurate continuity. An editor suggested that the book I wrote in 1973 would be best set around 1900. The facts wouldn’t be relevant for the earlier period so it had to be a completely new and unrelated novel.

            So far I had the family escaping from a hanging in England for a crime they didn’t commit. I’d brought that family to Australia and now played out all the drama there. It was time to move them on but I hit another blank. How to get them to New Zealand where the later book was set?

            Tom’s younger brother was in the merchant navy at the time so I had him on holiday in NZ and realising the benefits to be had there after the struggles in Australia. The family had made a gallant effort to create a viable sheep station on an arid area of land and it was the right time to sell up and leave.

            1900 – 1973 was too large a gap for a sequel so I would have to write at least one more book between the generations. This was a strong case for forward planning. I had to plant clues or events that could be picked up and create drama in later years.

            Tom secretly sold his sheep station and deemed it right to inform the judge back in England what really happened on that night and prove his innocence. The family then disappeared without trace to cross the sea to New Zealand where I needed to dream up new ideas to keep the reader enthralled.

           

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USE RESEARCH WITH RESPECT

I overcame writer’s block through extensive research. By accumulating so much material I found a theme that helped to develop my novel. This also had its downside.

            The temptation is to want to tell all when only careful selection holds the key. Open too many doors and you lose the plot. I included what I found to be interesting and which made good conversation between characters, only to have them cut by the editor.

            They had no real relevance to the story, and didn’t forward the plot. They were there as mere padding. I’ve read books where the authors, especially those written by men, include so much technical detail that they read like textbooks.

            Write about what you know but remember you are writing a novel and the reader wants an absorbing story to keep turning the pages.

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overcoming writers block

Research is one way out of writer’s block. Though it can be either a blessing or a curse when plotting a novel.

            When my saga family reached Australia I hit writer’s block. My research created so much background information I had a means for creating the next stage of the novel, but first I had to weed through everything I’d collected. It was like an old jig-saw with too many pieces that didn’t belong. Use too much and it reads like a documentary. Selection is the key.

            The convict years were too far back. The gold rush was within living memory and held possibilities. Cheating and theft were rife and victims were out for revenge. The seed of a story. So again I went through the ritual of all the W questions. The family had landed in Sydney and had to travel 400 miles to Broken Hill, the nearest town to the old minefields. This gave me the means for them to learn more about life in Australia and the problems they would have to face.

            Ex miners had time on their hands and resentments flared. I imagined a descendent trying to find the gold stolen from his father. Tom had been allocated a section of land where the previous owner was killed in the belief he had buried gold on site. The cat and mouse drama of defending himself while at the same time trying to develop a sheep station on arid land, gave me a meaningful storyline.

            I was on my way.

 

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