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  • Writer's pictureMichael Parker

Going through the valley

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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