Some of you have been eagerly awaiting the third Jenny Parker novel. Well, your wait is over. The ebook is available now and the paperback will follow shortly.
It’s actually the sixth novel I’ve completed, though the first three are unlikely to see light of day. It’s been about a year since I finished the first draft and entered the interesting phase of revising Limited Liability and having it edited.
I’ve begun to enjoy the process, particularly being told what works and what doesn’t, what needs writing and what needs leaving out. I’ve somehow got over the precious attitude I used to have. The one that compels me to protect every word as if it were sacrosanct and defend every paragraph as if my life depended on it.
As with Due Diligence and Proceeds of Crime the final version of Limited Liability is very different from the first draft. It’s better. It’s got more punch, more immediacy, more interesting things happening. And it’s much more coherent.
I love it when things go well and LL has turned out brilliantly, though I say so myself.
By the time I’d done with LL, I’d begun to think that Jenny Parker was finished with me and that came as something of a relief. I embarked on a different project, a novel called Funky Junk which I am co-writing with my friend Daragh. Now I’ve nearly completed this (and it’s going really well, I’ll tell you all about it soon) Jenny has popped up again and embarked on another series of breathtaking escapades. I don’t know where she gets the energy, I’m happy to be taken along on the ride.
So, Critical Analysis is in preparation and you can expect a fourth Jenny Parker novel in about a year.
There’s been a lot said and written about the terrible collapse in bee colonies and the reduction in bee numbers that threatens to disrupt human food supplies. About forty per cent of what we consume relies on bees for pollination. Farmers are reduced to importing bees from foreign countries to make up the numbers. This practice has its own implications for native populations.
Nothing to do with me, I hear you say. What can I do about it?
You can help provide them with food and water.
Food can be some flowers in a window box. There’s lots of information on which flowers are best but I would suggest something that blooms either early or late, in other words when the bees are scratting about looking for food.
Water isn’t something that is talked about much but bees need to drink. They can’t even consume their own honey stores in the winter, unless they have water for dilution they can starve. Water is also important for keeping the hive cool in summer.
Bees will collect water wherever they can find it. Ponds and large tanks of water drown lots of bees because their perception of polarised light is poor and they fly into them. They need a shallow water source with no ripples to wash them away. They have to drink and will put themselves at risk to do so.
A simple sloping ramp, floating wood or pond weed can let the bees land safely and walk to the edge to drink. Take a look at the water around where you are and see if you can make it a bit easier for bees to access.
You can make a difference!
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No, that’s not me in the picture. I’ve used it to illustrate the dream that all writers have: The Celebrity Book Signing.
It’s the pinnacle of achievement for a writer. Look how happy everyone is in the picture. Makes your heart dance with joy, doesn’t it?
But there’s a long hard road for a writer to travel before the cafe with the green checked curtains is within reach.
I used to think that writing a novel was the hard part. It takes a lot of energy, true, but it’s something I can do. I can write and I love to write. No, it’s the rest of the process that I find difficult.
Getting published is getting harder and harder. Even if you do win this particular form of lottery it’s no guarantee that you will sell enough books to make a living. It has been estimated that the annual earnings of the average professional writer is less than £11,000 per year. Considering that there are the J K Rowlings and Lee Childs in there, that’s not a whole heap of encouragement for the rest of us.
There’s always self publishing. Anyone can upload a book on to Kindle and hey presto! they’re a published author. But 90% of ebooks sell less than 50 copies, or so I’m informed.
What I’m getting at (slowly) is that creating a novel and selling it involves much more than writing skills. Me, I’m the world’s worst salesman. The idea of taking my books into a branch of Waterstones and asking them to buy some fills me with dread. That’s why I’ve never done it even though I’m told it’s worth a try.
So, what should a poor writer do? Well, this is my take on things at the moment. It’s just my opinion and not something you should take as gospel.
Getting a conventional publishing deal is probably the best route to getting paid for being a writer. Advances aren’t what they used to be (unless you’re Pippa Middleton) as publishers are scared of making losses (like with Pippa Middleton). Also novels are sold rather like seasonal vegetables, if you don’t get success soon after launch your book risks going rotten and so do you.
Let’s face it, the chances of this option being open to you are slim to non-existent. If you want to get your work out there you’ll almost certainly have to self-publish. Then you have to face the problem of discoverablily, or lack thereof. Someone described the e-book market as a shitstorm of mediocrity. I’d go further. I’d say 90% of self published books are unreadable and that’s really useful because you wouldn’t want to read them anyway.
There’s the problem, even if you produce a work of stunning quality, your beautiful flower will be amongst acres of towering nettles. Your tiny matchstick boat will be adrift in a tsunami of filth. Your precious jewel will be buried under a mountain of contaminated soil. Readers will be unable to find your work because of the millions, and I mean many millions, of really terrible examples of unmitigated crap.
The gatekeepers have been removed. There really is a free for all going on out there.
There are things you can do to make you book good enough to sell and visible enough to get to your target audience. But they cost money and there are a lot of people trying to take advantage of writers like us.
Next time, I’ll elaborate. Right now, I need to write a bit more of my new novel.
photo credit: RayMorris1 via photopin cc