Writing Update 2019 week 6

Mike Grist Weekly Writing Update, Writing Leave a Comment

So much happened this past week! I doubled-down on FB ads, finished first-draft editing the Ruin War series, reworked the book 1 blurb with lots of peer input, calculated readthrough for the Last Mayor series and polled my fans with 120 detailed responses now and counting.

All that plus I networked twice – at First Monday Crime and my Indie Marketing group. Phew! Here are links to the key developments:

It’s been a fascinating week for me – so much useful feedback coming in. In summary – the lessons I got from both the Last Mayor survey and the blurb rework largely confirmed my findings in my post – Why I’m not yet a millionaire author. Repetition, slow pace, jargon, too much focus on world-building over narrative urgency. Really useful to keep on learning this.

In coming posts I’ll soon debut the new Mr. Ruin blurb soon, after getting feedback from the Indie group and further suggestions via email later on. I’ll also share my better-performing Facebook ads with some analysis.

Right now I should talk about all the networking I did:


At First Monday Crime the 4-member panel were really interesting – with most attention seemingly focused on Will Dean, breakout star writer of a Scandi-noir detective series beginning with Dead Snow. He spoke extremely well, was amusing, and was generally a great panel guest.

At the end of the panel I asked the question on my mind – How important to you is Primary Research? If you’ve been following my networking adventures, you’ll know this issue got me down at the end of last year, after a previous First Monday panel waxed lyrical about all the many ways they’d committed to experiencing the travails of their heroes.

Will Dean straight up said – I’m an imagination guy. I love that. Yes, check your details, and for sure – he lives in Sweden in a forest much like the setting of his books, so his whole life is a kind of primary research, but still. Yes. This. Others on the panel I think broadly agreed.

After the panel I went and bought Will’s book and asked him to sign it. We chatted a little on the research topic – he said he was concerned his answer wouldn’t satisfy. Maybe we are all a bit worried about this topic? Well, let’s cut that out. I, at least, am a storyteller first, then a marketer, then lots of other things, and a journalist last.

After that, we went to the pub. I understand a little better now why it was hard to get into chats with the more successful authors present last time – in the audience (and presumably in the pub) it is a target-rich atmosphere for them too, marketing-wise. There are publishers and agents and editors present, apparently.

It makes sense the authors would want to hobnob with these people – kind of gravitating upward. I’m the same way – keen for interesting discussions with interesting people. I get that I am low on the totem pole for this – I don’t even have a thriller published yet! It’s kind of refreshing to see we’re all trying to climb. When I got stuck in a conversation with a reader (obviously not one of my readers), it was time to bail!

We did manage to snag Will briefly – Simon had done his research and read Will’s blog, so was able to grab him on a bit of his life. Pre-research on the panel authors is clearly a must. I’d been reading Will’s book, but I suppose the blogs and social media are more arresting.

Indie Marketing group

This was a great session for me – getting really useful feedback on the Mr. Ruin blurb. We did a quickfire question round at the end, which was new too, but went well – we covered lots of areas like networking, a quick oral critique of Beatrice’s blurb (which she was not interested in any advice on! 😉 ), an issue with Jon-Jon’s Victorian cover showing a modern gun magazine rather than a revolver, and various other things. Good to do these mini checks that wouldn’t occupy a full half-hour.

Looking forward to the next one! I also got some nice comments afterward for running the group well (and on time, I think – I’m strict with the timer). Someone even said I made people ‘feel safe’, which was somehow lovely, though I’m not entirely sure what it means.

Pub was good after, catch up with folks and chat a little to the first other sf-writer I think we’ve had at the group ever!

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