Book News, Writer's Life

What’s Happening?

I’m a bit snowed under at the moment, but here’s a progress report.

First, let me share this handy How Publishing Works infographic designed by Floris Books:

The Ruin of Evangeline Jones is at the QA and copy-editing stage. Meanwhile, book 3, tentatively entitled The Talented Mr. Ellis, is waaay back at the very beginning of the process. I’ve submitted a book proposal–first few chapters, blurb, and synopsis–so fingers crossed my editor likes it. While I wait to hear, I’m busily writing the rest of the book.

As for The Madness of Miss Grey, marketing is hard! And time-consuming! But that’s okay because I have a secret weapon: Mr. Bennet has become a marketing genius. So much so, that he’s starting to look like this:

Barney Stinson “I’m Watching You” Gif, via Tenor.

Anyway, I’m frazzled, but I hope to resume normal blogging next week.


My Process: How I write fiction

Full disclosure: This isn’t my typewriter. I don’t know whose typewriter this is. I bet it’d be a pain in the arse to write a whole book on it.. Nonetheless, it’s pretty. I use a Desktop, which is nowhere near as photogenic.

Let’s be honest, there’s no one right way of doing this. We find what works for us and whatever it is becomes our process. We’re always refining it. But if you’re just starting out and/or struggling, it can be useful to hear what other writers do. Like finding a map when you’re hopelessly lost.

Step one: Have an idea

Honestly, this is easier said than done. No one knows where ideas come from because they come from everywhere. Books we read, films we see, song lyrics, dreams, a random comment someone makes. I have lots of ideas, but I can’t always see how to develop them into a full-length novel. What works for me is to pick whichever idea has the most details sticking to it. For me, that means I see an image on Pinterest (or somewhere else) and it makes me think about my story. Maybe it’s the face of a character in an old painting. Maybe it’s an antique chair I can imagine them sitting on. If details start to stick to your idea, it’s a sign it might be the one to focus on.

Step two: Start writing

Full disclosure: These are not my writing implements. Mine are like this but imagine more mess and dirt.

I write two drafts at once. Sort of. For example, I write the first draft of scene one in longhand. When it’s finished, I type it into Word, developing, expanding, and fixing as I go. The end result is the second draft of scene one. I repeat this process for every scene.

What happens if you get blocked?

If I’m stuck and the words won’t flow, I make myself write 100 words every day. 100 is hardly any but, by the time I get that far, I often find I can keep going. If I can’t, I let myself stop for the day, patting myself on the back for hitting the minimum amount. I keep doing this until the block goes. I use the free time to work on marketing, research or just reading.

But what if you’re still stuck with no idea how to progress the plot?

I print off the entire manuscript so far and go through it with a red pen. Usually by the time I’ve typed up the changes and rewritten sections, I’ve figured out how to go on. If not, I go through the entire document again. And again. And,if necessary, again.

Step three: Revising

Once I have a complete second draft, I reread the entire thing. Sometimes I print it out and use red pen. When I have a complete draft I can read out loud to myself without wanting to change anything, it’s ready to show my agent and my editor.

Feel free to ask any questions in the comments.


Julia Vs the Facebook Advertising Policy Redux

*edited to include final ad results*

After my post rant earlier today, I designed an ad with hopes of getting around the Facebook rules. Here it is:

New Facebook Ad, buy link and ‘too saucy for Facebook’ text not included.

Okay, I admit I wasn’t taking things entirely seriously by this point, but wouldn’t you know, they approved it. Hooray?

Not sure how well it’s going to perform given that you can’t actually see the book. The good folk at Facebook have basically rendered themselves useless for advertising purposes. But from what I hear, they’re not great anyway. So far , this ad is costing $0.41 per “engagement” and I highly doubt (though of course I can’t be sure) it’s generating any sales.

GIF of Sister Michael from Derry Girls (because I identify so hard with her.)

Ah well, you live and learn.


Results from the “Cuddling Prohibited” ad on Facebook

At $0.45 an engagement, it’s a lackluster performance. For $20 I got 1 link click, 4 photo clicks and 2 shares. I think it was fairly useful for growing my Facebook following but, if you’re looking for book sales, Facebook ads probably aren’t the way to go. How many copies of The Madness of Miss Grey did I sell as a result ? Well my sales rank didn’t improve. In fact it decreased, so 1? None? All in all, probably not worth the money.


Julia vs the Facebook Advertising Policy

I don’t do rants often, but I’m feeling a little irritated.

GIF of Sister Michael from Derry Girls, via tenor.

As you probably know by now, I just released my debut novel, The Madness of Miss Grey. It’s hard to get a book by a brand new author noticed, so I’ve been trying a bit of everything including (and despite hearing decidedly mixed opinions as to their effectiveness) Facebook ads. The Madness of Miss Grey is an historical romance with the sort of cover most historical romance covers have. In case you’ve forgotten (as if I’d let you,) here it is:

The Madness of Miss Grey cover

Not exactly Caligula, is it? In fact, let’s compare:

Caligula (1979) Blu-ray cover, via imdb.

Nope, not Caligula.

Nevertheless my ad was refused because “it includes an image or video depicting people performing seductive or implied sexual acts.”

Which sexual act? Kissing? Both people are fully dressed (okay, his shirt is unbuttoned, but she’s shielding his modesty with her body). Her back is to him. Surely there must be some mistake, right? So, I appealed and was once again denied.

GIF of Emperor Commodus ( Joaquin Phoenix ) from the movie Gladiator (2000) , via tenor

Let me tell you, it’s going to be tricky advertising this book without showing the cover. So, for the first time in my life, I bothered to read Facebook’s advertising policy with regard to sexy content. You too can partake of this joy:

No artistic nudity even if it’s only implied. No hot women in bed even if they’re alone and covered in a sheet. No cleavage because women’s bodies are just too inflaming. Won’t someone think of the children? Won’t someone think of the poor men (for they cannot control themselves)?

And that’s not all.

No eating a banana! That banana is clearly meant to imply something! No couple in bed even if we mostly see just feet. We know what’s going on under that sheet and it’s something dirty! No bare man chest. (Actually, that one took me by surprise. There was me thinking only female bodies are rude.) Oh, but artistic nudity is fine after all, as long as it’s a statue or a painting. Put a woman next to him and I’m thinking it’d be a different story because then they might be about to do…stuff. Not sure what would happen if it was a statue of two naked men. Facebook might put a red x by it or they might take the view common to so many elderly male historians that two naked men in art are always and only best buds.

Sister Michael from Derry Girls, via tenor

No, Sister Michael, this isn’t hell. This is 2019. Hard to believe, I know.