New Year status report 2017

This is my fourth year of writing up the status of my books – see 2014, 2015, and 2016.

So what’s been happening this year? Let’s take a look.

The Beast on the Broch

In January I submitted sample chapters of what was then called The Dragon on the Tower to new independent Scottish publisher Cranachan. A few days later they requested the full manuscript; in February they contacted me to suggest a phone call to discuss some editorial changes; and in March I signed a contract to publish the renamed The Beast on the Broch, with publication scheduled for September.

It was all a bit of a whirl!

Over the summer we went through the edits and proofs, Dawn Treacher’s amazing cover, and the arrangements for the launch. We had two launches, in fact, one at a school in Govan, and the second in the Byres Road Waterstone’s in Glasgow.

Since then, Cranachan have been working had to get the book into bookshops. Waterstone’s in Scotland took about half a dozen copies (which is more than they took for The Wreck of the Argyll!) and it was great to see the brilliant independent Bookworm at Selkirk take a couple of copies.

The problem is, with a book like this, the best way to promote it and generate sales is for the author to do lots and lots of school visits, which, for a variety of reasons (location, full-time employment, temperament), just isn’t possible for me. I’m doing my best on social media to promote my book, though, with limited success.

So the best hope for The Beast on the Broch is Cranachan’s plan to produce study materials with which to target the schools market. These are coming in 2017.

The Wreck of the Argyll

I started to write about the travails of this, my first published novel, but when the rant reached 700 words I scrapped it. To summarise, though: after less than a year and very low sales, The Wreck of the Argyll is out of print, the rights have reverted to me, and its unpublished sequel, Murder at Eaglecrest, is dead and buried. Pretty much a disaster all-round, and not the experience I wanted for my first published novel.

My Dragon Has No Nose

Written for the Kelpies Prize, got nowhere, not very good. I wrote a book about a music hall comedian that doesn’t contain any jokes. Let us never talk of it again.

Far Galactic North

My middle-grade sci-fi adventure. Literary agent Ben Illis, during a one-to-one at the Wolves and Apples course in Leicester, said the writing was “accomplished” but he “didn’t love it”. As a trial I submitted the first two chapters to the Bath Children’s Novel competition, but it didn’t make it onto the longlist of 26, so I think the “didn’t love it” sentiment looks prevalent on this one. If it can’t get into the top 5% of a competition’s entries, it’s unlikely to make its way into the 0.1% of submissions that might get representation from an agent.

Pax Caledonia

Work-in-progress middle-grade Roman adventure. It’s been a very stop-start project, this one, and I’m not sure how it’s going to shake out. I wanted to get the first (very rough) draft complete before the end of 2016, and managed it – with eight hours to spare.

Older books

The three rabbit books, The Chimney Rabbit, The Chimney Rabbit and the Underground Mice, and Tales of the Ancient Rabbits/The Panopticon Papers (one book, two variants with different titles), are all stuffed in a drawer marked “do not open”.

Short stories

On the back of getting Time for Tea published in Shoreline of Infinity, I wrote a lot more sci-fi short stories this year, none of which I’ve managed to find homes for.

I’ve got a long-term plan to put out a self-published collection of these stories in collaboration with an artist friend Anh Diep; no timescale on that one.

Summary

Some good (another book published!) some bad (Argyll disaster) some frustrating (trying to promote my books with little success) some exhausting (carrying on writing on top of a full-time job). Definitely a mixed year.

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