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As I’m about to release my first novel, Over the Shoulder, on Amazon I thought I would make a lovely  list:

  1. I wrote it to see if I could, but as I got deeper into it I wondered what critics (family, friends, and possibly high-end) would think about it. Fancy words started infiltrating what is a grimy crime story where they had no right to linger, unless the protagonist is a literature critic by day and hitman by night (which reminds me, I have to add One Day in the Life of Jason Dean to the reading list). The point: I shouldn’t attempt to write literature, because looong minutes thinking of cultured words and unwieldy metaphors are better spent writing story. All that can come in the editing.
  2. Have patience with my impatience. I thought I had the book ready in August, which is when I told everybody it would come out. My embarass-ometer needle is still flicking like a banshee at the near thing. I learned not to write the thing and put it out there straight away. The early draft is a scab, and that thing needs ointment until it becomes beautiful and fleshy again. Shine spotlights on that passive voice, hunt down those adverbs with a hungry Alsatian and a rusty tyre iron – no matter how tedious.
  3. Feel sexy. It’s just me and a keyboard. If I don’t throw myself into the story and characters, and live them until I know all their motivations, then who else will give a rat’s crusty bumhole about it. If you don’t love your keyboard, it won’t give you anything back. I loved writing this, otherwise I would have packed it and found another lover.
  4. Do it for the long game. The process is exhausting (not as exhausting as coaching football in 100 degree heat at noon, or working down a coal mine), but it is one of the most satisfying things I have ever done. One novel is not enough. I need more, and I want to get better. Would you play one game for Manchester United and then stop dreaming of playing for Sheffield United? I don’t think so.
  5. Confidence. I left this novel a while, just happy I could write one. But I never thought writing a viable option, and so never pushed it. Big mistake. Reading bloggers like Catherine Ryan Howard and Chuck Wendig gives you rope to climb – or hang yourself. They blog about how its possible to live on writing, if you get it right and put in the required effort. More than that, I want to show off the work, and not worry about rejection. It makes you “tougher for the game”. So if this gets ravaged – and its bound to by some – have I got the chops to cut short the pity party and get on with it? Yes. I think.
  6. I learned confusion. Do I want traditional or self-publishing? I’ve just read James Oswald’s Natural Causes, and The Squirrel that Dreamt of Madness by Craig Stone. I have a David Gaughran book on the list. I’m no longer worried about the state of self-publishing. Those books are superb. They give self-publishing considerable chops. However, I’m not against traditional publishing either. I’ve read the pros and cons about both, and if a traditional publisher thought I was worth a punt I doubt if I would turn them down. I hung back too much on this novel in terms of pushing it towards publishing houses. And impatience means I’m putting it out there. I’ll self-publish the next too, but that’s because it’s a short story collection. The Second novel, a quarter finished, I will send to publishers. That’s because I’m more comfortable with the process and I want it seen by those people. If they don’t like it, or can’t see its market, then it’s all on me. But, like indie music, and indie films, self-publishing already has its classics.
  7. Entrepreneurship. I have learned much, but I’m nowhere near good enough at this. I’ve nodded my head at the sage goodness pouring from Joanna Penn and CRH, and still failed to do stuff on time. I still need to sort out a mailing list, I still need to get review requests sent out, and I haven’t sent millions of tweets every ten minutes about how you should all buy my book.
  8. Marketing. Hang on… I did get that last message loud and clear. I’ve already un-followed a few people who seem to send streams of those “buy my book tweets”. The reason I follow Craig Stone is because his tweets often sound like his books, genius imagery in 140 characters. Bastard. I follow Chuck Wendig because he talks one-quarter genius, one-quarter bullshit (of the type I don’t mind falling face first into) and two-quarters (or if you like – half) great conversation starters. He has replied to two of my tweets and ignored the rest. I don’t blame him. I have three of his books on my to-read list – and that’s just from reading his daft tweets. I haven’t read the books yet, but I will.
  9. I lie. I’m reading Chuck Wendig’s 250 Things You Should Know About Writing. It’s not the grammatical mechanics you read him for, it’s the kick up the arse they provide. Feeling lazy? Read 250 things… and see how quickly you get back to the keyboard and remember some people get paid like dogs to do hard as nails jobs. If I want to earn, I better remember that.

Over the Shoulder is now out on Kindle for a very reasonable $2.99, available to buy in the USA, UK, EU, and India, through Amazon.

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/lwr/3631079599/”>Leo Reynolds</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

Over the Shoulder can be bought from Amazon USA and UK.
You can buy Over the Shoulder from Amazon USA and UK (click either country)