Towards the end of working on What Happens in New York, I really, really hated it.
I couldn’t stand to look at those bloody pink tights.
Whenever someone asked me about it, my back stiffened.
I hated it.
I really and truly hated it.
But I had a deadline, and I had to reach it.
By the end of May this year, I had a finished draft of What Happens in London.
And until a week ago, I opened that draft about once a fortnight, if that.
I kept telling myself I was putting it to the side and letting it breathe.
But I wasn’t.
I was scared of it.
You’ve heard the old adage to show, not tell, millions of times. It’s the golden rule of writing. But have you ever thought of applying it to your everyday life?
Not many people took me seriously when I first started working on What Happens in New York. I’d lost my passion for projects halfway through many times, so I didn’t blame them.
But this time, I was serious.
I needed to publish that book. For me.
And the closer it got towards the launch, the more people that believed me.
I have a confession to make.
I did a really, really shit job of copy editing and proofreading What Happens in New York.
I don’t get embarrassed about much in life, but my terrible job of proofreading and copy editing is #1 on the list.
For someone who prides herself on her copy editing skills, it’s even worse.
Thing is, if it’d been someone else’s piece, I would’ve picked up on it straight away. Because I’d stared at the manuscript so much over several months, it go to the point where I wasn’t full digesting what I’d read anymore.
I only realised just how bad it was about a week ago, when I decided it was time to look back through it. I’d been told there were a few errors, but I didn’t realise I’d find as many as I did. I didn’t count them—I thought it best not to—but let’s say there was a lot.
It’s no longer as simple as writing a book and leaving the rest to the publishers. In a world of cuts, most publishers won’t spend tonnes of money promoting an unknown.
That’s if you’re lucky enough to get a publisher, of course.
If you’re not at that stage yet you should still be thinking about your author brand. If anything, it’s more important at this stage than when you have an agent and publisher behind you. Your author brand may just be what gets you the deal. If an agent/publisher can see that you already have a loyal fanbase, you have your target audience already and you’re less of a risk for them to take on.
The importance of freewriting was instilled into me from the very start of my degree in creative writing. However, I really struggled with the concept. Even now, if you put me in an academic setting away from the safety of my sofa or writing room, I’d struggle.
Freewriting is a skill, just like editing, proofreading, plotting, and character development. It should be treated as such—you won’t get better at it without practice.
I didn’t get into freewriting until I started my full-time job. Suddenly not being able to write as and when I wanted to made me feel suffocated. I didn’t start freewriting intentionally—and frankly I don’t enjoy calling it that—but I do enjoy writing without thinking. I end up in a trance-like state, where the only thing that matters is getting the next words on to the page.
It’s through freewriting—and the self of self-trust that it creates—that I’ve been able to write as many as 1,000 words in 15 minutes, and up to 14,000 words in a day.
It really is that powerful.
In June this year my first novel, Baby X, was published by a small independent press that didn’t have a lot of money to spend on the launch, or on marketing and PR.
In fact, as I’ve written about in other posts, you may well be on limited budget even if you are ‘Big Five’ published, because the lion’s share of marketing and PR money goes to the authors right at the top of the list, the ones who command the massive advances. It will also apply to you if you are self-published, unless of course you happen to be independently wealthy (in which case you probably don’t need to read this post—just hire a good PR).
So what is an impoverished writer to do to get their book out into the world?