Time off / Monday, 30th September, 2019

How one man gets bits of his brain back inside his skull


After my whirlwind of work since April, I’m accidentally taking four weeks off work before I embark on writing the second Carter novel. When I take time off it usually means 1) I can’t even think, 2) I’ll really want to write at the end of the break, 3) I’ll have to do work during that time.

So, the work I’ve had to do during my break is turning round the copy editing for Hunter 3, “The Black Isle”. John Rickards did a sterling job of parsing my fixes during dev editing. And by that I mean fixing my mess so it now reads really cleanly, and it’s all thanks to him. My part in it was going through the 700-odd corrections he’d made and either agreeing them or rejecting them and fixing in my own way. I think I didn’t agree with less than 20 of his changes where they broke the POV by using another term for a character name to avoid repetition. In fight scenes or chases, you want to have some long, run-on sentences, like this one, where you mix up the pronouns and names to add a level of confusion and excitement to the action, but “Jim punched Donald and Donald punched Jim back but Jim elbowed Donald” is tiring to read with all the names in there. Using pronouns can be fine—e.g. “he” instead of “Hunter”—so long as you don’t add confusing. Spoiler: I do. But changing “Jock” to “his father”, for example, breaks the scene’s POV as Hunter wouldn’t think of him like that. But it was great stuff from John as it trapped—AHEM—a lot of word repeats I’d unintentionally added, such as everyone shrugging and sighing, as always.

Anyway, the copy edit is done and off to my proofreader, so the book is becoming real. So what now? What happens between now and the 1st December? The answer is promotion.

The hard part of self-publishing books—aside from fluffy stuff like editorial freedom and paying for everything yourself—is the pressure of selling books is all on you. I paid Bookbub for a preorder alert and it seems to have initiated enough preorder sales to poke the Amazon machine and wake the beast, making it send out emails to everyone. Apologies for how many you’ve received for “The Black Isle”. But it’s a nice shot in the arm and trebled the preorder number in two days, and given a good kick to the sales of books 1 and 2. Which is very nice.

As well as trying to get other sites to shift the new book, the other thing I’ve been doing is dabbling with FB advertising to shift the other two in the series. Time was, the Amazon machine would take your book and present it to people, but now there are so many of them that you need to advertise to people. Paying for advertising is something I’ve tried to avoid but it has become central to the process, especially if you listen to self-publishing luminaries like Mark Dawnson and Jo Penn. It’s early days, but it’s actually working.

And that leads me on to the huge waste of time this week. A new website. Still nowhere near sharing with anyone—not least because an automatic update has buggered the server and I didn’t back it up, so I’ll have to start again but 80% of the time I spent was figuring out how the Wordpress theme worked—but it’s actually been fun and I should have something to share with you lot next time.

I’m not really a big fan of author websites and my current one is functional enough, but there a few bits and bobs you need with the Facebook adverts that require your own space. So I’ll get something working AND I DEFINITELY WON’T WASTE HOURS AND HOURS MESSING ABOUT WITH MY WEBSITE. Promise.

Photo of the week


How do I explain this? Well, Misty and Rosie go in the back and I usually open the back door for them and they hop in to the back seat. This time, for some reason, I opened both and it confused the hell out of them. Rosie was first and had a look in the front but didn’t hop in. Misty didn’t. She jumped in to my seat. And I tried to grab her out but she went on the passenger seat. I had to carry her from the passenger side round to the still-open back door on the driver side. After hiking 7.5kms in the Tweedside hills. 25kg of idiot. I’m a lot more than 25kg, but still idiot.

Update on projects

Well, that’s two of the five done and dusted now. The Black Isle and FBI1 (still untitled) are out of my hands. Project BIGTIME is quiet, and that’s fine, and the second FBI Carter novel is waiting for me to start writing, but I’ve been having ideas about how to change the ending to avoid stupid. Project CODEPENDENT I’ll pick up again in November. And… breathe.


This week’s TV watching has been “Unbelievable” on Netflix. A police procedural focusing on serial rape crimes, showing the dark side of the criminal justice system in America, but I suspect is equally applicable this side of the pond. Equally good star turns from Toni Collette, Merritt Wever and Kaitlyn Dever in the three lead roles. Warning: it’s compulsive viewing.

And that’s it. Week 3 of 12 in the test. It’s been good fun so far and hope you still get something out of it!

— Ed