Last week Endeavour finished publishing all six of my historical novels. So now you can read the whole of the John Williamson Chronicles and make a start on James Burke’s adventures. I’ve written about the differences between the two series before, so I won’t go into that again. The nature of the series about John Williamson makes it very unlikely that there will ever be another book about him (although the odd short story is not impossible) but James Burke has staying power. There are two more books about Burke already written and now I just have to persuade Endeavour that they want to publish them.
I celebrated by pushing off for eight days on the ski slopes, but while I was away I found myself wondering what I actually do all day and why I felt I deserved a holiday.
The glamorous (if sometimes lonely) life of a writer
It’s been strange having all six books coming out at fortnightly intervals since the New Year. It’s meant a lot of time on Twitter and Facebook telling people about them and, more importantly, taking advantage of the very kind bloggers who have offered me space on their pages so that I can write about various aspects of my books. I suspect that most people will have missed at least some of these. I’m afraid I probably missed some myself, having written them and then forgotten about them until I tripped over a Twitter link sometime later. But I do appreciate all the opportunities that other bloggers have given me, because it’s a chance to reach out to people who might otherwise never hear about my books at all. (If you do want to find them, I’ve just posted a complete list on Twitter.)
Guest blogs come in a range of lengths because different bloggers have different guidelines, but mine probably average 600 – 700 words. I’ve counted eleven since Christmas, so that’s probably around 7,000 words – or around a tenth of the way through an average book of mine. In addition, this year has seen twenty posts on my own blog. One was a guest post, but the other nineteen, most coming in at 800 – 1,000 words, account for around another 17,000 words. That’s a lot of words that aren’t adding to the length of any of my books.
A quarter of a million words of Napoleonic adventure
In addition to this, I’ve been tinkering with my new website, adding the details of new books as they have come out and generally trying to pretty it up a bit. If you’re reading this, you are already on the site, but do take the opportunity to have a look around some of the rest of it.
It’s not surprising that I haven’t been very productive on the “proper writing” front. I’m doing some research for a new project and I’ve been editing away at the two books that are supposed to be finished. At a Christmas houseparty a couple of people decided to tell me how one of the books should have a different ending and that involved a certain amount of angsty rewriting in January. I’ve now got to the stage where, after another critique, I decided I needed to change a full stop to a colon, and at that point I decided I really am not going to change anything else. Phew! That’s that, then.
I used to have a “proper job” and wrote in the gaps around that. However, what with dancing and skating and having a family life, the gaps proved almost vanishingly small and, when I found myself able to give up the day job, I took to writing full-time. At first it seemed very liberating – basically just messing around at a hobby – but with six books down and two more on the way (and another well into the planning stage) I have, like many writers, realised that once you take it seriously it’s very definitely a job. The funny thing is that, as you may have worked out from what I’ve just been saying, writing the actual books is now, once again, something that seems to be done in the gaps between the social media and the blogging.
I can’t complain. I’ve written before that it’s not as if writers are chained to their word processors and forced to produce more books. But for those who think that my sybaritic lifestyle involves mainly sitting down in my silk dressing gown to produce the odd few words before my butler brings me tea, a glance at the reality for a modern writer is perhaps enlightening.
A word about economics
I don’t mind that nobody is paying me to write this. Actually, I quite enjoy the freedom it gives me to be (as now) occasionally self-indulgent. I do worry, though, that all these free words (and occasional free author talks) that I and other writers produce can lead to a suggestion that writing is not something that anybody should ever have to pay for. Most of my books are available on Kindle at £3.99 or less. (Paperback editions are, or shortly will be, also available.) £3.99 does not seem a great deal of money for a historical novel that has taken a long time to research and write – and, of course, the £3.99 includes a share for Amazon and a share for my publisher. Even so, there seem to be an increasing number of people who feel that they shouldn’t be expected to pay for books at all. Sadly, I know that there are lots of pirate sites where you can download my books for free. (Before you do so, I should just warn you that many of these sites will lead to you downloading some interesting viruses at the same time.)
If you read my blog, or blogs by other writers, and you enjoy them, could I suggest that you might, from time to time, buy one of their books? Consider it a donation, recognising the work that has gone into the stuff you have read online for nothing. And if, as may well turn out to be the case, you enjoy reading the books, you can consider that a bonus.
Just over 1,050 words. My work here is done.