Full steam ahead – 2020 Writing Week 38

Mike Grist Weekly Writing Update, Writing Leave a Comment

Aaaaand, I am back into writing.

Hoo-fucking-rah, am I right?

Today I plugged back into Wren book 5 for a cheeky 1500 words, which puts the count at 35,500 total. Basically halfway done! And it feels it, too. Couple of major movements left, we’ll be all set.

To boot, I spent a few hours throwing out ideas for another thriller series. One that is less literary, more of a ‘cozy’ thriller, with more black and white issues, more a superhero ‘fantasy’ vibe to the main guy’s life.

Thus far it’s at 9,000 words. I’ve got the story going forward. The hero is very similar to Wren, but his world and the plot are very different. It’s not political, activist, or very dark. There will be no cults. The villains are black and white. The goal is to make it comforting vigilante justice, not disturbing.

Will I write this or Wren? Or both?

Honestly I’d love to just send this beginning to some prime readers of vigilante justice and ask if they want to read more. I could raise it with my list, but I’m not sure they will be that same demographic. I’ll just finish it, I expect, put it out as a single, and if it hits it off, then I can write sequels.

That can be my approach now. Put out series starters and see if any hit. I brainstormed ideas for a couple potential thrillers. Best case would be they’re all in a consistent universe, and could do cross-overs like the Avengers! Only problem is that the new guy is basically Wren lite. Hmm, we shall see.


For a while I was spending $100 a day, but not making good enough returns to justify. Broadly I’ve made money, but not enough. So I shut down all my Amazon ads (they never work for me) and dropped my Facebook spend considerably.

Further, as a stop-gap until I get a new cover for Wren, I’ve put the red-saturated cover image up for the ad and the book cover on Amazon. I changed the blurb to one that signals the darkness, weirdness way better.

Clickthrough thus far on FB is wacky. Way up, and very changeable. Yesterday FB UK was giving me clicks of 40p average. Unsustainable. But then it was a dynamic ad, and some blurbs worked very differently to others.

I duplicated, made the best blurb a non-dynamic ad, and we’ll see if it takes off. Of course no way to know for some time if this more accurate signaling leads to better readthrough and reviews.

Alternately, it may that now I have made changes to the text itself, the old Reacher-like cover might lead to better readthrough. But I rather doubt it. The literary-ness of the series is kind of baked in. Cults, violence, darkness. I can take off some of the surface violence, but can’t undo the bones of social activism, cruelty and pain.

So! New cover!!

Soul Jacker

Today I took a look at my Soul Jacker/Mr. Ruin books. These are crazy weird. I look for similar genre, and come up with China Mieville, who doesn’t sell anything on Kindle, and Crashing Heaven by Al Robertson.

I’ve already packaged it as cyberpunk, but that whole genre doesn’t sell. It’s not space opera, which does sell. There is no psychic vampire genre – just Slade House by David Mitchell, which doesn’t sell either.

Another literary vs. Genre reflection?

My reflection now is that it’s damn hard to sell literary works. Stuff that breaks molds and makes new genres. Even if you can do it, the amount of money you expend to market something new will likely render it unprofitable.

Of course there are outliers. Harry Potter.

But even then – it’s best done by a big publishers, with the ability to get killer social proof blurbs, get you newspaper reviews, get you into bookshops and book clubs. I don’t know of any indie authors who went big with a literary work.

Not true. The Martian. WOOL.

OK, not many, then.

For an indie, genre is the way to go. Build a readership and a name. Maybe at some point those mainstream readers will look at your wackier stuff. So I’ll keep writing Wren, and explore other avenues in genre fiction. Looking forward to putting something new in front of you.

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