• Michael Parker

The old year is almost out and the new year about to begin. I’m looking ahead with a certain amount of doubt and uncertainty, but also with optimism. My doubt is that 2019 will not be a successful time in my literary life as I would like it to be, and the optimism is that Pat will come through her illness with flying colours. The reason I have doubts about my books is because I am beginning to see the reality of the burgeoning indie world. It’s often easy to look back and find excuses and reasons why things didn’t work out, and to immerse oneself in metaphorical self-harming, but the truth is, the world of indie publishing is metamorphosing into a giant that will soon rival, if not outstrip, traditional publishing, and the keys to the executive rooms will only be held by those who truly know how to play the long game.

So what brings me to this conclusion? Well, I see how I have trod the same path as other successful authors — been there, got the tee shirt — but without having a clue how to use the tools that were available to me to take me to the top. I have the plaudits like “Gifted narrator”; No.1 best seller; given away thousands of books; built an email list, picked up some cracking reviews and sold lots of books through BookBub featured deals, but I still can’t sell books in the usual way even though I spend money on advertising. Oh sure, I sell a few, but nowhere near enough to get my head over the parapet for other readers to see me. So what’s the answer to this conundrum? I must work harder. Simple. I think.

I am optimistic though because I will be releasing two books next year. My romance, Past Imperfect, should be ready to roll by the end of January. I intend spending some cash on promotion for that. I also expect to have my next Marcus Blake thriller ready by the Spring. It’s my current WIP, and although I’m struggling to stitch the plot together, I am making inroads. I admit that I prevaricate a lot: I find all kinds of reasons not to get my head down and write, but that’s an affliction many of us indie writers are familiar with. One good excuse is Christmas of course. I had to put time aside to sit down and write out the Christmas cards, wrap some presents for posting and spend time shopping. I’m still looking after Pat, so that’s another reason not to write, but the truth is, I do find time later in the day to sit in front of my computer and fall asleep!

I dug my digital voice recorder out the other day. I decided I had to keep it handy for those ideas that pop into my head when I’m out walking Tuppence on the beach (another excuse!). It’s infuriates me when I get a good idea that I can work into my plot only to forget what it was when I want to use it. I also have the unusual problem of running two plots in my head, two completely different stories, when I should only be concentrating on one. I’m constantly thinking of one of my characters, Conor Lenihan, who was a nasty piece of work in my thriller, The Eagle’s Covenant, and using him in a new book. Believe it or not, I’ve already written about 15,000 words for that, but they are stored in the dusty shelf of my PC.

Looking ahead then, I have to give a lot of consideration to Pat now because she should be starting her treatment in January. She had a lung biopsy earlier in the week (she wasn't happy; said it was like being shot!), and the diagnosis will be dealt with by the specialists next week. We have been told that nothing is likely to happen before Christmas, so we have to hope it will be very soon after. I will try not to let the workload I’m expecting with nursing Pat to swamp my own free time. The writing will definitely come second of course, but I know Pat will want me to snatch those moments when I can put pen to paper and try to keep sane. Wish me luck!

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  • Michael Parker

Decorations going up, a few more words added to my WIP and another book sale. Three actually. An elderly lady came round to the house during the week to buy two of my books. She wanted them as a Christmas present for a friend of hers who has read a couple of mine and wanted to read more. I sold one at the HSBC stall earlier in the week — well, not me really, one of the Chindi volunteers — so that makes three. You know, even then I can’t be sure because D2D keep adjusting my previous months sales, even though we are well over a week into December they’ve adjusted the number up by a count of three. Add a couple already sold this month on D2D and, hey, I’m looking good!

Staying with D2D, I received a royalty statement telling me I had earned $0.56 for the sale of three books on Bibliotecha. No, that’s not a typo: $0.56! I tried to log on to the Bibliotecha website, but it wasn’t available, so I contacted D2D asking them to confirm the royalty. They have contacted me and said they will have to consult their accountants and get back to me. It could be a library loan, but unless I see something to convince me otherwise, I’ll be asking D2D to remove all my books from that site.

I’m looking ahead to 2019 and the re-launch of my novel, Past Imperfect and wondering how best to promote it. I know I could do a countdown deal with Amazon, but I’m reluctant to let it remain exclusive to them for three months. That’s a decision I’ll come to later. I finished the read-through and made a couple of changes to the book. That makes two readings in less than two weeks, and I still think it’s good. I’ve been in touch with Christine Hammacott, a member of our Chindi group, and we will be producing a new jacket for the launch. Christine has been a graphic designer for over twenty years and has done a couple of jackets for our members. This is a professional contract by the way, not a freebie.

I am committed to a book talk next year at the local women’s friendship club in our village hall. This was booked a year ago! The event will be the first week in March. I hope the women get real friendly and buy lots of my books.

I would like to mention one of our Chindi authors, Rosemary Noble, who has written a trilogy about a corner of Australian history, each a stand-alone novel, but all linked. The trilogy was inspired by the transportation to Australia of British felons in the 18th and 19th century. Rosemary has attracted some terrific reviews, and is currently on blog tour. Why not look her up? https://dbgreviews.blogspot.com/2018/12/sadies-war-australian-saga-by-rosemary.html

My current situation at home with Pat still means I am the chief cook and bottle washer. I cooked a stir-fry last night. Pretty good it was too! Pat’s leg swelling is going down but at a very slow rate. Next Tuesday she has her lung biopsy for the cancer treatment, which we hope will start as soon as possible. Pat’s in good spirits under the circumstances, but it’s something we have to deal with. We have Christmas to look forward to though. After that? Well, wish us good luck.

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  • Michael Parker

It’s always good to see fellow indie authors from our Chindi book group doing well at local events. Three of our stalwart members — Angela Petch, Rosemary Noble and Patricia Feinberg Stoner — launched new books at Worthing yesterday. Early comments show there were some good results. This coming week it’s the turn of more of our group doing their bit for the Alzheimer’s Society. They’ll be turning up at the HSBC bank at Rustington tomorrow and Friday to showcase their books and raise money for the society. The post code, if you can get along to the event, is BN16 3DB.

I won’t be involved in any more Chindi events for a while because changes here in the Parker home leave me having to look after Pat. Her leg infection hasn’t gone down yet, and the cancer diagnosis leaves us with a fairly rocky road ahead. For that reason I’ve withdrawn from Chindi events for the simple reason I can’t make promises about my availability over the next six months or so.

Despite being chief cook and bottle washer, I have tried to keep up with my writing. I managed to send out the second part of Natasha’s story to my subscribers (http://bit.ly/2SjUIiz). I received two replies and had eleven unsubs! The open rate was poor, but it simply reinforces the fact that you have to work at this game, otherwise it will all whither on the vine. I also made another decision about my romance, Past Imperfect. I have decided to launch it next year with a professionally designed jacket and spend some money advertising. I read through the book last week. I managed that by reading it on my laptop while Pat was watching TV. I even had football on in the background listening to the commentary. Makes no sense, I know, but I eventually turned the commentary off. I finished the read-through and have now embarked on an edit. It was professionally edited by the way (Robert Hale), but there were a few typos and a couple of oddities I knew could be changed.

I’m learning more about the game when it comes to running Michael Parker Books as a business. Not doing much about it mind you, but there is so much information coming from the web that it fries your brain. Well, it does mine! I have managed an infitessimally small gain in my advertising, but nothing to shout about. I know it needs more work and soaking up more instruction from Mark Dawson’s SPF course. Mark has updated the whole thing, particularly Amazon Advertising. Seems even Mark has been caught out by Amazon’s drive for competitiveness. It looks like the weak will go to the wall unless they cough up more money. I’m talking about Amazon, not Mark Dawson!

I managed to get some work done on my WIP, and will soon be reaching that point when I have to write Natasha into the story, hoping that I can do that with subtlety. It’s a conundrum, but that’s what writers do, particularly writers of mystery.

Looking ahead then, Christmas could be different for me and Pat this year. Then into 2019 without a real clear view how it will be. When I look back a year ago, I had great plans for 2018. It all seemed to start well, but looks like it’s coming to a disappointing end. I’m hoping 2019 will be better. So what with my writing plans and looking after Pat, it looks like it’s going to be a long and winding road. Wish me luck!

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