Saturday, 17 January 2015

The Wolf's Footprint paperback
Here I am again - and what have I been doing?

Well, I've been at the self-publishing again. Last year I responded to teachers who emailing me, asking for copies of my OOP book, The Wolf's Footprint. So I reprinted it, as an ebook and as a paperback - and found that the paperback sold more than the ebook.

The obvious lesson to be drawn from this seemed to be - self-publish more paperbacks with CreateSpace. So I've now made all of the Ghost World Sequence - The Ghost Drum, Ghost Song and Ghost Dance available in paperback. And they're selling - as with The Wolf's Footprint - better than the ebooks.
The Ghost Drum

So last week, I worked on Nightcomers, one of my ghost story collections, which contains, I think, some of my best short stories. 'Beautiful' for instance, set in an eerie, after-hours shopping mall, and 'Cold Silver.' I sent it off to Amazon to be approved, and hope that it will soon be available as a paperback.

But I'm also working on a book, as yet unfinished, with the working title of 'Bad Girl.' And she is very, very bad - horrid, indeed - and unlike the girl in the rhyme, she is never really good.

The writing of it was stuck. I knew what had to happen next. The book has multiple view-points, and I knew whose view-point I wanted to take, and I knew more or less what I wanted them to say...But the two or three attempts I made at the chapter were just wrong. It made the points I wanted to make. It covered the ground. It was just flat, dull - wrong.

I tried starting at another point, but it still didn't work. I decided that I needed to jump over some of the dull detail - there was a bit of a list of stuff the character had to get done. Okay, ditch that, get on with the action, and hope the list can be fitted in later... Nah, it still wouldn't work.

As it happens, I have a friend who is also writing a book, and was also stuck. Hadn't written anything for a month. He counted the days. I was feeling pretty thwarted myself, and so suggested we should have a 'pubowrimo.'
Karen's lovely book

Most people will have heard of the famous Nanowrimo, or National Novel Writing Month, where writers pledge to write a whole novel in the month of November. And the other day, Karen Bush, on Authors Electric wrote about 'Linowrimo' - about how a group of writers, in touch via email, pledge to write a number of words every day, and report on how they got on.

I'm a member of this group too, and, like Karen, find it a constant source of encouragement and help - but it couldn't  help me sort out the Bad Girl.

Like many other writers, I've often found that, when I can't write at home, I can write pages and pages in a cafe - or on a CallyMac ferry, or on top of a Scottish mountain, in a Loughborough B&B - in fact, anywhere that's not home.

So I suggested to my friend that we take ourselves off to a pub we both like, and see if we could write there. We agreed that we would buy a drink - rent for our office space - but then write for at least an hour before we talked. My friend agreed. He wasn't sure that it would work, but was so keen to get going on his novel again that it was worth trying.

Dear Readers, it worked. I had thought of taking my laptop, but at the last minute decided to take a pile of scrap paper instead, and a favourite scribbly pen (that is, one that floats easily over the paper.) The more complete a change, the better, I thought - pen and paper in the pub instead of a computer at home.

And even while driving there, it started to work. Why, I wondered, did it have to be that POV? Why not try coming at it through another of the characters?
A great writing aid.

We reached the pub and found our table. My friend bought a pint of cider for himself and a half for me, and we started. The moment I sat down, the words came. Within a few moments, I'd largely forgotten where I was, or that my friend was with me. The landlady, at one point, came round to ask if anyone had a silver honda in the car-park. I floated up out of a dream, said, "No, not me," and drifted off into writing-world again.

Every now and again, I'd pause to think of a word, or to take a sip of cider and would think - with mild surprise - 'Oh, yes, that's right, I'm in the pub - and oh, yes, that lowered head and scribbling pen over there, that's my friend...' And then I'd lower my own head and start scribbling again.
I filled page after page - 2000 words. I'm past the part that held me up for so long. Now I'm up against another problem, with another character - but that's okay. Writing a book is just one problem after another.

And my friend? He was very happy with the experiment too. He wrote 882 words - which, he says, is a lot for him at one time. He, too, feels he's made real progress, and asked, "When shall we do it again?" So the landlady may have to get used to two word-dazed people scribbling at her tables.

Why does it work? For me, I think the change is important, though I don't quite understand why. The change of scene, the change from computer to paper - it all seems to shake up my ideas, to loosen or free something.

My friend says that he knew what he had to write, but was procrastinating, feeling that he wasn't quite ready - that he'd think about it some more before beginning. But the days went by and he never did begin. The special outing, and the solemn vow to write for an hour before talking, made him commit to writing then and there, instead of putting it off. The time set, of an hour, made him keep writing, too, when he would normally have stopped.

So, if the writing's not happening - get out of the house!


Joan Lennon said...

I've told writing son downstairs about this and we're going to do it! I love how trickable our brains can be! And that's great news that Bad Girl is moving forward -

Susan Price said...

Oh, let us know how your pubowrimo goes, Joan! Or will it be a cafewrimo? - I think anywhere that gets you away from familiar surroundings would work. It doesn't have to be a purveyor of beverages.

Katherine Roberts said...

That's interesting, Sue - I have noticed that secondhand copies of my books rank as well as the ebooks, and wondered if people were buying the paperbacks instead! Obviously, price comes into it... do you find secondhand copies compete with your Createspace editions? Most of mine are available for just 1p (plus postage) secondhand, though some like the Great Horse are listed for as much as £400! (So I guess that means there might be a paperback demand for that book?)

Jenny Alexander said...

Pubawrimo is definitely more my speed than NaNoWriMo Sue - I've got a pub in the village, now I just need to find another writer!

Susan Price said...

Jenny, you don't need another writer. I've found it just as effective on my own - it just so happened that my friend was writing too this time.
And Kath, I've found that the second hand copies - priced anything from 1p to £900 (yeah, like anybody's going to pay that) - tend to disappear once a brand new Createspace paperback goes up on sale.

Katherine Langrish said...

You obviously get a pretty high standard of overhead conversations your neck of the woods! Loved it.

madwippitt said...

Alcohol - the new word glue! Actually I'm envious ...