Onto Wren 6! – 2020 Writing Week 49

Mike GristWeekly Writing Update, Writing Leave a Comment

Lots of movement on writing and marketing, with Wren 5 capped and sent to ARC readers, work on Wren 6 beginning, and some exciting new marketing opportunities in play.

Wren 5 – Firestorm

I polished up Wren 5 early in the week, ended up adding a new capstone as the final chapter, then sent it off to ARC readers right away. I’ve yet to hear back, but it’s only been 2 days.

My goal is to launch on Monday 7th Dec. I’ve already had 97 pre-orders, which is a record for me. It has been available to pre-order for 6 months, so that’s spread out, but I’m very pleased with it.

Lots of little jobs between now and then:

  • Make the paperback version
  • Decide when/if I’m pursuing the audiobook version
  • Make a new page for it on my website
  • Update all website pages with the new covers

That’s a day’s work, probably. I need to get it done this weekend, so it’s doable.

Wren 6 – working title – Enemy of the People

With Firestorm done, I had a hunger to move directly onto book 6. I know the thrust of it. I know at least one big twist. I don’t yet know the engine, but I’m loving the emotional place Wren is in.

I’ve written the first chapter. It’s actually pretty fascinating how this and the previous book have shaken out. With both of them, I feel/felt like it was just too soon to jump straight in with another killing, another ticking clock. I had to do some character work first, maybe. I needed to let Wren and co breathe.

I didn’t quite get it at first, but now I see why. Both book 4 and book 5 kind of end right after a major event. There are no epilogues in those books that deal with the ramifications of those major events. They’re not exactly cliff-hangers, because all plot threads are dealt with in the book, but they definitely should leave the reader wanting more.

I have to deal with that first, before racing onto a new threat.

So book 5 opens with a kind of recap/refresh on the major event at the end of book 4. Book 6 is going the same way, and it makes great sense. Always in a story, when a major event happens that shakes everything, you need to take time to unpack what it means.

Without that time, the story will become overwhelming, feel thin, feel rushed, and just not be any fun. It won’t feel like a journey, it’ll feel oppressive and also boring. Events have to mean something or just having more of them pile up will mean nothing.

So I’m glad I see that objectively now as well as kind of intuitively. It gives me faith in both book 5 and book 6. Honestly, I’m very excited for book 6. I can’t wait to dig into the weird psychological stuff going on.

Deadline for this book? I’d love to write it faster than 5. In 3 months would be excellent. End of Feb. Get book 7 done by June. We shall see.


This week was the London Indie Authors meetup, which I still run – I talked at some length about Amazon ads, and the new approach I am trialling to bids and targeting.

Essentially, previously I was targeting a wide array of authors and books, making little effort to track if I was appearing on those product page ad carousels, and generally losing money on auto ads.

This time I am trying to laser-target specific comp books, like LT Vargus, Barry Eisler, LT Ryan, Joe Konrath etc… I make my bid, then I actually go look at their page to see if my ad is showing on the first rack of the carousel.

No, it hasn’t been. I dig in and discover my ‘down-only’ ads were probably throttling me at a much lower bid, so I switch to ‘fixed bids’. I start appearing on the carousel, but not well-placed. So I increase my bids. I increase them really high, and start appearing on first pages.

That’s it. It’s pretty cool to be able to sort of manipulate the Amazon system this way. I am bidding way over recommended bid prices, but I am appearing on first pages. I’d hope that leads to conversions, which amazon will like, and allow me to bid less to hold the same position. We’ll see. I can’t keep going with 90p bids for one click, unless every one of those converts to a sale.

In other news, Saint Justice is now in Prime Reading in the uk! This was selected by Amazon. It continues to the end of March. Anyone in Amazon Prime can read it for free. I hope they’ll push it, and I’ll get a lot of follow-on reads (paid) to books 2-5.

To Do list

By this time next week I’ll have launched Firestorm, so all the above tasks on paperbacks and such need to be completed.

I’d like to make headway on book 6. There’ll be a good bit of story-breaking required, so I don’t expect much. 5,000 words would be good, and heading into the main inciting incident. Stretch goal of 10,000. I’m at 2,000 now.

Christmas is coming!

I put up the tree. The lights are blinking in the window. Very pretty.

Only 3 writing weeks left in 2020!

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