If you have been reading these chapters for a while you will know there are a couple of things that never change for me. Firstly, I never give up. Even when there’s absolutely no chance whatsoever of something happening, however hard I try, and everyone else would have packed in long ago, I never listen. I keep plugging away; searching for that loose brick that will allow me to break down that wall; it doesn’t matter how long it takes, I’ll keep going until I find it!
The second thing is something I’m not particularly proud of, but at least I’m honest enough to admit I suffer from it. When someone annoys or upsets me I’m a little like my anti hero Colin Bailey, but not as extreme! I don’t have a list of people to bump off like him, but there are people for whom a little payback is due. The odd success on that front is always most acceptable. Does that make me a bad person?
In early October, I shall be seventy. The amount of time left to me for activities in both of the paragraphs above, is limited. The wall needs to be weakened very quickly. Karma needs to wake up and heed my call before too long as well, so that I get to enjoy seeing the fruits of that payback.
If progress for an author is measured in book sales alone; then I’m in trouble! For months now I’ve been consoling myself with the other statistics that I can lay claim to; statistics that indicate progress, in some shape or form. My latest book ‘It’s Not Rocket Science’ provided me with my highest ever ranking on its first weekend. I hit #2 in the charts for an e-book in the Business & Finance genre about Computers & Technology. So close to being able to claim a #1 hit! Not to worry, more people remember ‘Vienna’ by Ultravox than the rubbish that kept them off the top of the charts.
In my book I explain how my 100k Twitter Followers came about; and how anyone can get as many as they need for their particular passion. My numbers are pretty constant. I’m adding perhaps three hundred followers a week, but losing the same number by judicious pruning and natural wastage. My pruning means that the value of the following is higher than the majority of account holders. If you just let your numbers grow organically, you will have deadwood in sixty days. Do nothing, and although your overall number looks healthy, your condition is deteriorating day by day. So that’s progress isn’t it?
My Goodreads friends list contains 670 names and my Facebook Author Page around 190. How would that compare to a year ago? I’ve added 600 on the first and 150 on the second. Now that I review books as Father Ted I’m in the Top60 reviewers on Goodreads too. On Amazon US I’ve moved from an initial ranking of over 100,000 to just outside the Top 15000. Surely that’s progress of a kind? These statistics certainly indicate that more people are aware of me as a writer and reviewer – see me as ‘a safe pair of hands’ if you like, than a year ago.
My website and blog have received quite a few compliments too. I completely overhauled both in the past year. The visitor numbers have dropped a little this summer, but I haven’t posted as often, nor have I tweeted links to the site as often, and the book promotion site that did that task for me only drives readers there every two months these days. Yet again, the increased presence online and the perceived increase in stature (rightly or wrongly) have led to two new initiatives. The link-up with Channillo for serialization of my short stories was by invitation. Something about my work attracted them to me. The partnership isn’t particularly lucrative as yet, but I count it as a sign of progress.
I was invited (again) in February to join a group of writers in what you might describe as a ‘collective’; we share ideas and encourage one another in any way we can. Some of our number are more established writers and sell in significant numbers; others are just starting out. I’ve learned more in the past six months than I had picked up in the previous three and a half years. That’s progress and it’s immeasurable. Something that I’ve learned since February, could lead to a ‘light bulb’ moment. They may have given me a sharp tool with which I can ease one of those bricks out of the wall.
Keeping tabs on these ‘progressions’ and maintaining or improving them leaves me with a dilemma. If I am going to spend four hours writing per day, I can’t give sufficient time to my blogging, to my tweeting, to posting updates on Facebook and the book advertising campaigns on the three or four sites that I am currently signed up to. Something has to give. I’m taking time out, to step back from the daily tasks I currently take on. Perhaps my faith in the signs of progression that I’ve outlined is misplaced? Is there a better way; always remembering that I can’t afford to buy my way out of trouble?
A holiday around the date of my birthday will give me time to ponder. When I return it will be decision time. The next book must be started. ‘Nothing Is Ever Forever’ is written in my head and now it needs to be committed to paper. Why am I so certain that it’s worth continuing to fight; to keep searching for that loose brick? Take a couple of minutes to read this review of ‘Conception’ – The Birth of ‘The Phoenix’
That’s why we write isn’t it? Just to get that sort of reaction from another human being. Someone didn’t just skip read the book; they got it! All of the pain suffered by honest, hard-working people, the injustices, the arrogance of the legal system, the ineffectual police service and despite all the talk and all the promises, nobody stands up and says – “No more!”
Colin Bailey is the man who stood up and said “If no one else has the guts to do it; I will.”
He is MY character and he got that reaction from another human being. That’s progress isn’t it? Whether the sales figures reflect a significant moment or not is immaterial. I reckon that’s progress.
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