Wren 4 edits & Last Mayor Bookbub! – 2020 Writing Week 21, 22

Mike GristWeekly Writing Update, Writing Leave a Comment

I thought edits on Christopher Wren book 4 would only take me a week, so I would’ve been done at the end of week 21, but it has taken until today, 2 weeks later, to get this book done. Almost completely done – still one little chapter to slot in, but that shouldn’t take more than Saturday morning.

I feel pretty weird. I suppose overwhelmed – for Wren, for his team, for his people. This may be one of the hardest books I ever had to write. It’s been my slowest book to write in recent years. It may be the best book I ever wrote.


  • Writing it got really spread out. I started it around September 2019, then a month later I got onto a re-editing jag. I did all the zombie books at a pretty deep level, then I did the earlier Wren books. Right after that, I started a new job while simultaneously getting Wren book 1-3 made into audiobooks. This led to more edits, a lot more thinking, and very little writing. At the same time I was editing Su’s new book. The process ended up really fractured.
  • The book is pivotal. It is the middle book of what I expect will be a seven book cycle dealing with the Apex. Everything turns on this book like a hinge – not just the immediate plot, but the grander plot. Christopher Wren’s life. I had to build out a lot, develop the Apex further, and develop my themes too.
  • These books are all about mind control. Cult indoctrination. Brainwashing. It’s been there since book 1, but here it is front and center. The scale is grand. Thinking about that has fried my brain.
  • Likewise the scenarios Wren gets himself into are tougher than any before. There are no incompetents now. The closer we get to the Apex, the more accomplished every plot is. There are no mistakes, which means Wren has to be a genius to keep the hunt moving forward. It knackers me out to problem solve against the Apex. The guy is a real Moriarty.
  • All that editing I did in between writing this book has probably raised my standards. This is a great thing, but it means the writing takes longer. I run more quality control checks, with a better idea of what to look out for.
  • Action scenes are hard to write. I think of it like filming an action scene. In movies, they are by far the most expensive, time-consuming, most heavily-edited sections. To feel fast and exciting, they require multiple camera angles, cross-cutting, pickup shoots, special effects. It’s the same in writing. Lots of things happening at the same time – how best to show that? And this book is basically a non-stop action sequence.

I’m more excited/terrified to hear what people think of this book than perhaps any other. It’s super topical in ways I couldn’t have predicted. I’m going to change the cover to match this. It’s propulsive. It does some crazy stuff.

In promo plans, I’ll send it to my ARC team in a day or two, get it made into an audiobook in a week or so, then put out the books 1-3 audio box at the same time. Then I’ll start pushing the kindle boxset 1-3 properly. I’ve been in KU this whole time with these thrillers, but really had no benefit from it. I’m planning on changing that when the boxset gets a push.

Last Mayor Bookbub

2 weeks back I had the Bookbub for the Last Mayor boxset, books 1-9. It was for UK and US only, a 99c/p Kindle Countdown deal, which allowed me to reap 70% royalties. The BB cost $350, and on the day I sold 800 copies. Instantly that was $600 back. I’ve never doubled my money on the day, via sales only, before.

I stacked a lot of other promo sites around this, and in total sold 1200 copies at 99c. Around $900. Now I’m hoping some big rush of KU pagereads will come in, but none yet. If it does, that’ll be great. If I was Amazon, I’d recommend a big seller like this to KU readers.

Now I’m in the middle of a Saint Justice 99c countdown deal. I got every big promo site except Bookbub – so I’m not expecting 1200 sales. A few hundred would be great. So far it’s been 2 days and it’s 75.

Writing plans

I would love to write 2 more Wren books this year, take us through book 6, but I think that that might kill me. Definitely book 5, then. Next year I would write 6 and 7. That’s two box sets.

Writing this coming week, I’ll finish up edits, get the new cover ready, then maybe start building out book 5. I already started it and have the theme. It’s crazy. It’s going to go bigger, but at the same time it’ll be a bit of a breather. We need a breather after book 4. Of course, the Apex is driving matters forward, and there’s no going back.

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