My Writing Year – 2021

Most of my time over the past couple of years has been spent in fictional worlds, which might sound peculiar but has for me, been a blessing. As an author I’ve found it easier than many people to accept national and international travel restrictions. Late in the year I fitted in trips up to Scotland and across to Amsterdam. In both cases I witnessed a different real world from before Covid 19.

I started my writing year as usual, with targets. Four new titles was always going to be ambitious, but without ambition, there’s little point in setting goals. Next Steps: and other stories, Sylvia: Beyond the Apocalypse, Codename: Foxglove, and Crusader were all in the line-up. Of those, only Crusader remains a Work in Progress.

What else filled my time?

A challenge I’d set myself was to produce my mainstream titles in paperback, which created a lot of work. The task was accomplished. A secondary job was to publish my short stories in paperback but not include tales from my anthologies which had been submitted by guest authors.

To cut a long story short, if you’ll pardon the pun, I had eighty tales which I mixed to produce four volumes of twenty short stories. My aim here was multi-faceted:

– produce books which were value for money for readers.

– an approximately equal word count.

– a mix of genre but without erotica.

– all my own work.

Did I maintain any other author interests?

As always, I filled in many hours reading, reviewing, beta-reading for fellow members of the IASD, and mentoring a couple of aspiring authors.

Apart from those things I offered my services to my pseudonym — Katya Cumming. For her part, she produced five new titles. Her books are slightly shorter than mine but have plenty of action, albeit for a different taste. Five may sound like a lot, but they are written over a longer time period because most are based on notes and short story ideas from over the years.

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Do I believe I’ve had a productive writing year?

Yes, I do, and as we all look forward to 2022, I’m content with the titles I have planned. One of next year’s stories is Selena: Sea Nymph, my first attempt at sci-fi paranormal fantasy. The first five chapters are available for reading and comments in my Work in Progress menu.

Not to be outdone, Katya also has more titles lined up.

I already know how most of my author’s year will be spent in 2022, and 2023, so I’ll drop a hint with my New Writing Year blog in January 2022.

Comments and suggestions are welcome as always, and thank you for taking the time to read my blog.

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My Independence Day

Being a Scotsman, and not an American, I don’t celebrate 4th July as Independence Day—mine would be Friday, 15th January 2021.

Why?

That was when I first published a book I’d written, edited, formatted, and for which I’d created the paperback cover.

It’s the dream of every writer to hold their work as a physical book in their hands, and for some newbie authors that desire tends to overshadow the need for ensuring a good product. I’m not a big fan of an eBook and a paperback being published at the same time by an indie author. Invariably, there will be minor issues with a book even after reaching publication. I prefer to have the book ‘in my hands’ on my Kindle to read it, yet again, but this time as a reader. When I’m content that I’ve done the job to the best of my ability, I then create the paperback edition.

This might sound simple, however there are some differences that many aspiring authors don’t seem to grasp in their rush to produce both types of book.

What’s the difference with the exterior?

A paperback cover should never simply be an eBook cover ‘stretched’ to fit. The two covers must be treated as different creations. Apart from the front cover and back cover, a paperback has a spine that is measured to take an exact number of physical pages.

There is also a back cover which contains the blurb, and a space must be allocated to allow for the barcode. Options include an author pic (which I don’t use), and excerpts from reviews (which I do use).

What’s the difference with the interior?

In an eBook, the front matter ought to be minimal—title, copyright, dedication, acknowledgments, contents, and prologue. The back matter might have an epilogue, endnotes, author bio, a word from the author, and a list of other titles by the author.

The author must bear in mind that the customer/reader is intent on reading the story as a priority with a Kindle, so anything else is simply supporting material and necessitates flicking through countless screens.

In a paperback, an indie author should think in terms of the industry standard. The front matter will have pages for title, copyright, acknowledgements, dedication, contents, and prologue. I tend to put my author bio and my list of other titles with the front matter, which leaves only any endnotes or ‘a word from the author’ as the back matter.

As with every topic related to indie publishing, it is all by nature a personal choice.

In terms of producing an author’s back catalogue in both eBook and paperback format, I have now (after much effort), produced most of my titles in both formats.

It took me weeks rather than days, but I eventually created a set of four paperback anthologies of my personal short stories. Rather than stay true to single genres, I opted for mixed genre, therefore allowing twenty tales per book.

What are the exceptions to my paperbacks?

I have up until now, not produced my poetry in paperback because they are bespoke collections. I am toying with the idea of creating ‘mixed anthologies’ of poetry, so for example I might end up with a series of books but each will include: Humour, Love and Romance, Natural History, Military Matters, Thrills and Chills, and serial poetry.

I have not, and have no intention of publishing my erotica in paperback. The titles sell well enough but have few public reviews. I believe that this stems from erotica readers enjoying the stories but with the confidence that it is done on an eReader, offering privacy.

We might go public with many things, but there are some aspects of our lives that we all want to keep to ourselves.

Thank you for reading.