a turning point?

I just clicked ‘publish’ on my 3rd book. Technically it’s actually my second book. My third book (Alia Henry and the Ghost Writer) is with some beta readers at the moment and this book includes a novella that was first published on its own in 2018. I know it’s a little confusing… but this ‘new’ book is a collection of stories, short and otherwise, set in Paris, and the book is called… Set in Paris.

After clicking the button, I made a cup of tea and opened the first draft of my next work in progress, The Circle. It’s a bit of a dog’s breakfast but I have a plot and a story, a couple of relatable main characters, a bit of a mystery, an old mansion… (If there’s a theme in my fiction other than strong women, it’s most definitely old houses!)

I’m a member of a group called 20booksto50K which is a Facebook group started by self-published author, Michael Anderle, back in 2015. While on vacation in Caba San Lucas in Mexico it occurred to him that he could possibly retire to Caba by making a sustainable yearly income of about $50,000 a year by publishing 20 books that sold at least a few copies per day. After his first $12,000 month, he knew that his strategy could help other authors succeed and wanted, very kindly, to share his insight.

I tend to hover in the 20books group. I read everything, watch the videos, do the units. Usually, I’m gleaning info and inspiration from the group but I finally had something to post, telling them about clicking publish on that third book. They were typically upbeat and congratulatory and one member commented that the third book was a turning point for her and she hoped it was for me too. You know, I really feel like it is. If the world doesn’t completely destroy itself in the coming years, I am one step closer to actually making a career as a writer.

(On the subject of 20booksto50k, any writers interested should search for them but a word of warning, they do not suffer fools gladly. If you join, read everything in their manifesto, read every post, learn learn learn as much as you can for at least six months just to be on the safe side!)

I have queried Alia Henry and the Ghost Writer but I am only giving it three months. I figure by then my betas and editing will be done and if I haven’t heard back from the publisher (and let’s face it, I probably won’t) then I’ll put it on KU. It feels good to have a plan.

I’ve been using my time wisely. After spending 6 hours cleaning my house today (it’s been a long time since I had to clean my own house. Fuck this virus…) (jokes) I sat down to learn some writing craft so here’s what I learnt today in the 20Books video –

  1. This is a little embarrassing, but I have finally learnt the difference between Plot and Story! Plot is what happens and Story is why it matters to your characters. I have written three books without this knowledge. That’s not ideal.

2. Start with a show. I have heard this before but with this current work I had clearly forgotten. So, you always start with a show, an image, a trope if you want. And then, DON’T BURY THE HOOK! If you’re publishing on Kindle Unlimited, the hook has to grab people or they’ll bail and you won’t get the page reads. (they have to read at least 10% for it to register as read at all, and then you get paid based on your read-through rate. (That’s for now, they’ll change it I am sure.) This Hook-related information alone has sent me scrambling back to my current work in progress. The opening sentences were a bit rubbish, to be honest. Then they took it a step further with this list. Apparently, every chapter must contain:

  1. an opening hook
  2. a question answered
  3. a question asked
  4. rising tension
  5. closing hook

3. Every character must have a) a disbelief, b) a defining character moment.

If anyone wants me I’ll be writing.