Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

Well, this is rather exciting. Last year, I told you guys I was working on my first novel, codenamed ‘Project Author’ (I have a great imagination). Yesterday, I was proud to announce that I’d officially finished the First Draft of that book, and I’m here to share a few details with you now, and to lay-out the plan for the coming weeks. So, without further ado, please say hello to Project Ascension.

Ascension” is the current working-title for my book, which is a series of four (for the moment anyway, that could change). I haven’t decided whether I’ll just call the series ‘Ascension’, and name the books something else, or maybe have a subtitle e.g. Ascension: Awesomeness or something like that, or simply keep it to Ascension: Book One etc…, those are questions for another time, but the meaning of the word, and the theme, are fairly important to the book’s over-all plot, so I’m keen to keep it in.

If you were to go into a book store, you’d find Ascension in the SF/Fantasy section. Online, it’d be labeled under ‘Science-Fiction’ and/or ‘(a)Historical Fiction’. My goal with this series was to create something that would surprise people, that they wouldn’t be able to see coming, and I hope I’ve done that here with the first book.

Test-Readers

Do you want to be a test reader? I’ve already got some people ‘on the books’ that I’ll be sending a copy out too, but I’m keen to get as much feedback as I can. Obviously I’ve mentioned genres above… my only advice is to take those with a pinch of salt. I can’t really explain why the genre of the book is a little more complicated than most books without giving the game away too much. If you really don’t think you’d be interested in reading it though, don’t worry.

If you’re interested in test-reading my book, you can hit me up on Twitter, or email me: joe@just-communication.co.uk

I’m going to be taking a break from Project Author now for a few weeks, concentrate on career a bit, and just let the feedback collect for a while. It’ll be difficult, as I’m already itching to start changing things and making it better, but I’ve got other stuff on my plate to worry about right now anyway.

Let me know if you have any questions, and let me know if you want a test copy of the book! It’s in .PDF format, so make sure you have something you can read it on.

 

I’m now at 50,000 words! Yay me!

After doing some calculations, I’d be surprised if I had more than 75K when the book is finished. At the moment I’ve got a structure of three parts, with six chapters per part and averaging at 4,000 words a chapter. I was hoping to hit 90,000, but I’ve already decided that I’ll just write the story as I envision it now, and see what happens. It’ll be as long as it ends up being – what’s more important is to start getting it into the hands of some ‘beta’ readers I already have lined up, start getting some genuine feedback. Maybe then I’ll be able to add, or expand, etc… 80,000 would be a good minimum to reach.

Anyway. To celebrate this milestone, I went ahead and bought a full-time use license of the software I’ve been using to write my book – Scrivener. Let me tell  you, as someone who started off writing his book in MS Word (What WAS I thinking?), this program was a revelation. It’s really easy to get into it, and it makes working with a multi-section document like a book so much easier to interact with. I wish I’d had this for my dissertation, I wouldn’t have had to go through so many headaches in the end.

The only thing I will say is that the compiling part – where you take your work and compress it into one, neat document – was a bit fiddly. It wasn’t 100% clear what all the options were and I had to compile several times just to figure out how to get the format I wanted. Other than that though – wonderful!

It costs $40 USD/£26 to buy, and it’s worth every penny if you need to write something big. It’s also got loads of built-in multi-media features as well that I don’t need to use, but that someone else might find extremely useful.

So, I’m halfway through my book. Ish. I think. It’s hard to tell really – I’m told the average fiction novel is around 90,000 words, and I’m at 41/42k at the moment. So I’m halfway from that average, but in terms of what I’ve actually done, I’ve got a whole ‘third’ of the book nailed down (working with three parts at the moment), with the rest still very much WIP. Still I’m running into a bit of a problem when it comes to writing some of these other sections. It’s mostly writers block derived from the fact that I haven’t properly mapped these segments of the book, but the plainest way I can sum up problem is the fact that I’ve written all the ‘good’ bits.

When I first came up with the idea for my book, there were several key set-pieces and scenes I envisioned which summed up the main plot points. Granted, these scenes went over a lot of revision (I’ll have to talk about how the book looked at the beginning vs. how it looks now at some point), but I was still mainly working with the same handful of scenes to begin with. Now they are written, I’m basically filling in the blanks, and It’s kind of boring. Probably my fault for not thinking of something more interesting to put in these scenes – I can work on it I guess as there’s still a lot to do.

Another problem I have though is that If I think out a scene TOO much in my head, I know what’s going to happen already as I write it, and that saps me of my will to get it on the page.

It’ll all work out hopefully. The way I write means I’m often hopping forwards and backwards along an article or document, and then as the blanks get filled in I then re-write bits so they stitch together easily. Main thing though is to bash out that first draft, then I can relax a bit and get to the real work.

I sometimes feel I’m a man(child) of two worlds – born in ’88, I did most of my growing up in the 90’s before the internet and the digital space *really* took off. Because my Mum didn’t really see the point in the World Wide Web at the time (all I did was look up Porn), we didn’t get Broadband until the Phone companies had decided it was the future and aggressively priced separate broadband deals to be very attractive. Also, I begged a lot. Anyway, the point is I like to think I grew up with an appreciation of both ‘traditional’ media – books, CD’s DVD’s etc., as well as the emergence of digital/cloud/whatever content. Watching various industries deal with ‘teh interwebs’, even tech-grounded ones like videogames, is quite fascinating as a result.

I got distracted again today by a couple of tweets from John Scalzi – a sci-fi author whose work I really enjoy – and it got me looking at articles and posts about Author Salaries, Publishing vs. Self-Publishing and all that jazz. I’m trying not to do too much, as the more I read the more uncertain I become and I really need to get a first draft of Project Author finished before I even think about looking into how and where I’m going to sell it. Still, this one particular article interested me, mainly because of the parallels I can draw with the videogames industry.

In his ‘7K report‘, Hugh Howey tries to use what little data he has to draw some conclusions about Ebooks, their impact on the book industry, and what authors may or may not be earning through self-publishing as opposed to ‘traditional’ publishing houses. Obviously, the data he has access to is limited, and so he can only deduce so much. It’s not so much that bit of article that had me interested (even though it IS useful information to read), but it’s the fact that the Book Industry is also struggling with trying to fathom just how impactful the digital space really is. I’d like to think we’re over that particular hump now on the videogames side of things – everyone has realised that no, PC Gaming isn’t dying and Steam really is a force to be reckoned with, and even outlets like MCV have tried to provide concrete data on digital sales, to give a more accurate picture on how well our industry is doing.

Book publishing still seems to be struggling with this still, with no-one seeming to know what’s really going on. Obviously, the two industries are completely different, so there are certain things you could look too – there’s no equivalent of ‘Steam’, for example (as much as Amazon like to think they are, I guess), there’s been no break-out success like Minecraft or anything to point to how good self-publishing/digital can be, and then of course there’s the whole ‘DLC’ thing which has allowed traditional publishers to have the best of both worlds.

I can’t help but wonder why there seems to be resistance to digital ebooks – it’s well documented how much money is spent on publishing even a single book, an eliminating the physical book part of that would help a lot – it would also help authors get better deals.

As I mentioned last time, this is what is making me hesitate from going into traditional publishing. I know why the rates are what they are, I can respect it, but it doesn’t mean I like it. I’d rather go back to them later down the line with some stats and some gravitas behind me, so that I’ve earned a better deal.

I’m also going to make a vow (Again) to blog more, as if this author malarkey stuff is going to work, I need to develop a bigger audience and voice. We’ll see how well it goes this time.

As I mentioned in a previous post – I’m writing my first novel. Project Author is coming along alright, I think: I’m on 35,000 words, which while not even being close to half done yet (I hope), is still the longest single piece of work I’ve ever written. At the moment I’m working to three parts, with Part One being more or less finished. Working on Part Two now, which is proving a bit more difficult to write. When writing reviews etc…, if I get stuck I usually just go write another paragraph, like the conclusion or just a thought I had, and then jump around and slowly tie everything together, re-writing as needed. I’ve been doing that with my book as well, but the problem is everything is on such a larger scale that the tiniest change could mean I spend a couple of hours re-writing everything. It’s a bit of a drain on the enthusiasm tank, but I’m powering through.

The main thing I’m worried about at the moment though is what happens when I’ve finished. What happens when I reach the ‘summit’? Even before I started this, I’ve always followed one or two authors on twitter out of personal interest (John Scalzi, for one, is really interesting). From time to time these people will tweet, or re-tweet information and links about book publishing in all its forms. Sometimes friends of mine who happen to like reading as well will post some articles, like this post today about a fiction-author getting back at the people who fired her. Anyway – since starting Project Author for realz, I’ve been paying more attention to this kind of stuff, as obviously it’s going to be something I’ll have to deal with when I’ve finished my book. Honestly, I’m a little bit apprehensive about it all.

From what I can tell, self-publishing seems the way to go at the moment. For one, there’s a lower barrier for entry as there are many established platforms in existence now for selling your book online. Also, considering this is my first book, I’ll definitely appreciated the fact that A/ I’m in total control and B/ I get all the money. From what I’ve read, Publishing House Contracts haven’t gotten much better as the decline of print means these big behemoths have to fight harder to maintain their bottom line. I understand it, I can even appreciate it, but it doesn’t mean I like it. Also, it’s important I don’t get caught out by the fact that my favourite authors are also fairly successful, and they are barely a handful of people out of the multitude of authors – aspiring or not – out there right now. Not everyone makes it, so if I’m going to fail I’d rather fail on my own terms.

That’s not to say I’ll never go down the traditional publishing route – my book is only part one of a series that I can continue for an additional 3-4 books. The general plan, at the moment, is to start with EBooks, get a following, get some numbers and ‘PR’ behind me, and then at some point use that to go to a publishing house so that I can get a special paper edition made or something, and use my past success to leverage a better deal.

But then I don’t really know anything, so that probably won’t work. I’m trying not to waste too much time researching book publishing at the moment because, honestly, the more I read the more depressed I get about the industry. I want to write this book, and I want to get it out there. If I’m lucky, it’ll supplement or be a nice addition to my existing income. Whether I’ll write the rest of the series if it’s a financial flop is a bridge I’ll have to cross when I get to it. They always say get into book writing for the love of it, not the money, but my own personal circumstances mean I’m very much aware of how I spend my time, and how much money that brings in. Gots bills to pay, yo.

I’m already nervous because I don’t know the book is even going to be any good. Everyone I tell loves the idea, but having a great idea and then putting it to words are different things. But I plan to have some extensive ‘beta’ testing, so hopefully I’ll be able to work it into something majestic. I also plan to be smart about this – I’ll use my own money to hire proper copy-proofers, commission some nice cover art, and I may even approach an agent just to get their opinion on the book, possibly even sign up if they can help me with E-publishing.

Wish me luck.

Its ok, I’m still alive. Just about. I think I left my keys somewhere… This is just a quick update to let you all know what I’m up to at the moment, as well as some musings on recent events I’ve been meaning to get around to. I say this a lot, but I want to pick up the pace on blog posts in the New Year, so hopefully they’ll be more communication from me in general.

First and fore-most – I’m buying a house! Go me! This is the main reason why I’ve been so busy recently. Buying a house is hard, don’t you know. Lots to take into account, and then there was that one time where we thought the house was going to collapse on us as soon as we bought it… but it’s all good now. Coupled with this will be the acquisition of Virgin Media and fibre optic broadband. I’m literally this much happy right now {________________}. This will help me greatly with something else I’m getting into:

Twitch!

I’ve been avoiding it for a while, but we can’t ignore that YouTube and Twitch represents the future of videogames coverage. That’s not to say the written word will die out – not at all, but to ignore these emerging mediums is to tempt fate. Or admit that you have so much money that you don’t really care. Since I’m a poor freelancer though, I’ve got to go where the action is. My meagre video-editing skills that I picked up at University have rusted to the point of, well, whatever a good joke about ‘rust’ is, but Twitch is something I reckon I can handle.

At the time of writing, I’ve only done a couple of streams. Still fiddling around with the settings to be honest, and getting used to the talking/playing thing. It’ll get better when I get my fibre optic anyway. Please do check it out if you get a chance!

Project Author

That’s not the actual name of the project, but it’s the public name. I’ll reveal the real name and more details at a later date. Some of you will know what this is about anyway, but essentially I’m writing my first novel. I’ve always, secretly, wanted to write a novel as I love reading and I like to think I have a fairly active imagination. I got into Journalism in the first place because I wanted to tell stories, essentially, but do so in a way that’s informative and actually useful. Then I realised that actually that was quite boring and so went into writing about games instead, but I always try to tell a bit of a story in my work. My desire to write an actual novel never waned, however.

I’ve been working on it for around four-five months now. I’d like to say I’m making progress, but as soon as I hit 25K words I suddenly realised I wanted to do something different, so I’m currently re-purposing as much as I can and then carrying on from there, but I plan to do a lot more over Christmas as I won’t have as much freelance work to do. I’ll probably share more details when it’s more complete, but for now I’ll just say I’m writing a Science-Fiction novel. Because Space.

How Videogames Change the World

A quick shout out to all my friends and acquaintances who were involved in the making and production of ‘How Videogames Change the World’, which aired last weekend on Channel 4. It’s a great program, and I hope to see more positive mainstream coverage on videogames. The Guardian’s Keith Stuart’s segment during the Minecraft entry about his kids was very heart-warming.

It wasn’t perfect however, although plenty of other people/sites have covered this already so I won’t go into it too much. Essentially though, the format of the show didn’t really fit the theme, as the format was actually a list of 25-influential games, and how they specifically influenced the world. The only problem with this though is that a list structure like that is actually a bit too rigid, and at times they went off on tangents that didn’t really fit in well with what they were trying to do. It also meant they couldn’t really deal with issues like women in games at much as maybe they would have liked to, but no matter.

It also gave off the false impression that the games were in some kind of order of importance, when actually they were just in chronological order. This problem really game to the fore though with the #1 entry, which was Twitter. Now… I know what they were doing, but it was a bit poor, in all honest. Regardless of what the list means, having sat through an hour and a half of really decent discourse on videogames, to then have Twitter as the last thing I saw left a bitter taste in my mouth. Although that could have been what I was drinking. Still, it was something that was too smug for its own good and trying to be clever, and it wasn’t needed. Other than that, fantastic show though.

That’ll do for now… the problem with writing for a living is that I find I only have so much creativity in me, and I find I use it all up when it comes to be writing a blog about something. And there’s twitter. It’s essentially the perfect Micro-blog platform, and I find that I’ll make a point on there far quicker and more effective than just writing about it here. And I hate repeating myself.