2018 – A Retrospective

The end of another year. I’m still going to be the same twisted, slightly manic asshole you guys all know and adore throughout 2019, with a habit of putting his characters through hell.

The blog in 2018 has come through strength to strength. It’s had a massive surge this year with more then twice the views it’s had in the last few years combined. I intend on keeping that going!

Healthwise, I’d love to say it got better…but it hasn’t. However, it has not gotten worse either. It is the same story, but for the first time since my diagnosis, it has not regressed further at least. Hopefully I can keep that up.

Ever since my diagnosis in 2014, Chronic fatigue hasn’t gone away no matter what I’ve attempted to try and improve it, and it’s affected every part of my life in ways I didn’t expect. I’m learning a lot about myself as well.

This is going to be a long post too. I’m not going to apologise for that either. You may sense a theme with all this. It’s been a bit difficult this year. Several important people to me passed away including my Nan, although the funeral service was beautiful. In many ways the year has been good as well.

This year has been odd because it’s also been the first year I’ve been a published author. You guys might know a bit about that, not sure if I brought it up 

I’ll let you all in on a secret. I should have been happy, or proud, or elated when it launched. Instead I just felt exhaustion, numbness. I even felt deflated. I remember doing the launch reveal and just being so drained I ended up cutting the livestream early. There weren’t many people watching it so I don’t think it mattered.

I achieved what I planned, but now what? Then the doubts started. Did I release it too early? Did I know what I was doing? Was the book any good?

The first few months were rough. I was trying to market, but it was tricky. To make money you need to spend money, generally through ads and that was something I did not really have. Of course, this was something I learned from this year, a painful lesson, but one worth learning. Connections and community building is something I’ve worked on for years, but perhaps I was in the wrong places.

Reviews and feedback were few, sales even fewer. I started wondering if it was even worth doing anymore. Publishing The Thousand Scars nearly broke me emotionally. Then I did the stupid thing of comparing myself to other authors…why did I do that? I needed to focus on myself.

The Thousand Scars was selling poorly, but feedback at least was mostly positive, for a first book by a new author I guess. I’m not in this for money otherwise I’d just do a standard job so money is not my motivation. I wanted to show it to the world, but I was so drained by it and its lack of success that I was close to giving up. I still had the second book in the series to work on, and it was getting ballsacking difficult. I had few fans, but I didn’t want to let them down. I did get a lot of support from fellow authors in the indie community, urging me to keep fighting. I did so. I have severe ME, and job-wise I don’t really get many chances. Writing and cartography is all I know how to do. I couldn’t give up, not now. A word of advice to fellow writers. Connect with others and support each other. They are not your rivals, but your allies in this fight.

I wanted to go further. So I drafted ideas for another novel set in the same Counterbalance universe but a standalone, something different. Something to take to agents. Something to prove I have improved. I started work on it in April and it surprisingly began to take off. I made progress.

Then SPFBO began, a massive blog-contest for debut indie authors. I signed right the fuck up with The Thousand Scars, thinking that even if I didn’t have a chance of progressing, even a little more exposure would do the trick.

It ended up being the lifeboat I needed. I landed more connections, and my interviews for my fellow authors really helped increase exposure for them and myself. I even had a few people backing me for winning my group. . .*snorts out drink* Spoiler: I didn’t 

More people read The Thousand Scars. More people added it to their reading lists. It got some pretty damn good reviews and feedback. I made some Top 10 lists, made some huge fantasy blogs. I even got Longlisted in Booknest’s End of the Year awards for Best Debut! I still don’t know how in the name of Horse’s wrinkled ballsack I pulled that off.

Connections change things. People got excited for me and my future. I’ve been learning a lot about self-publishing. I really didn’t know what I was doing.

I even successfully finished two full first drafts this year, one being The Aegis Mora, the second my standalone that I started in April. To give you guys some hindsight into my madness:

• The Thousand Scars took 4 and a half years to reach a finished first draft.
• It’s sequel The Aegis Mora? 2 and a half years.
• My standalone? Around 5 months.
I’ve started work on the third as yet untitled book in the Counterbalance series, and I’m 30k into it so far. The connection’s and the people I’ve met this year have been amazing.

Future Plans

In 2019, I have two major plans. Hopefully release The Aegis Mora, and get my standalone The Skeleton’s Eye ready to submit to agents. That is my current goal. While The Thousand Scars is still with Nordland, I will not be going with them for any future. I want to see how I do with different approaches. I have a new editor for The Aegis Mora in the awesome Tim Marquitz, and I’m excited for my cover design. Still uncertain who I am hiring for that yet. I have some really good choices. Things are looking up for me I think.

This year I began mentoring other authors for the first time, something that has really taken off. Hopefully my Patreon and cartography services will continue to make progress as well.

As to The Aegis Mora, I will probably self publish unless I get another offer. I feel sending it to agents will not work, seeing that The Thousand Scars has not sold well. Unfortunate. I have already started writing the yet untitled Counterbalance book 3, and I hope to have a finished first draft by the end of 2019.

The Skeleton’s Eye is something I am really excited for. With time, I wish to make it good enough to submit to agents. My target to get that ready is the end of 2019.

Conclusion
It’s been brutal, but I’m still going. As long as ME doesn’t shut me down completely, I will continue doing what I do. It’s been a hell of a ride so far, and I’ll continue riding the highway.

I’m going to do shoutouts, and it’s a bit of a list. If you haven’t been mentioned well tough, I can’t remember you all!

Vicky Lyth for being the wonderful support and girlfriend you are. My world. Hurray for another year for us  I’m sure we can annoy each other a little bit more  xxx

My writing group: Michael Arnold, Michelle Lowe, Claire Casey, John Flukinger, Nicolas Samuel. Remaking this group was such a good call and let’s keep this going into next year.

My friend John Flukinger for being an awesome friend, a great support and a really good student. You’ve come such a long way in just a few months and we will work on getting you on track in 2019!

A whole swathe of new people (authors) I’ve met this year. There really are too many to count.

Now I’m going to eat and game a lot. Happy New Year everybody! My next article will be either my Top 10 most popular posts of 2018, or my Top 5 books of 2018. One of the two…

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2 thoughts on “2018 – A Retrospective

  1. I really enjoyed reading this post – you have done a good job in summing up how 2018 went for you. I hope 2019 sees more sales for your upcoming books and that you continue to develop as both an author and a blogger! 🙂

    Like

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