One of the inescapable truths about literature is that there is no such thing as a universally loved book. Even the most lauded work you have ever read has its detractors. In other words, one person’s masterpiece is another person’s trash. This being the case, every author knows that sooner rather than later their books will receive bad reviews, and yesterday I received my first ever 1 star review on Goodreads for The Exercise Of Vital Powers. I have since been inspired to write how I’ve chosen to deal with this unwelcome development.
Greetings people. To say that I have been neglectful of my blogging duties this year would be something of an understatement. Regrettably, as much as I would like to be posting new updates on a regular basis (I certainly have plenty of unwritten posts I want to share), all my free time at present is being spent on writing my second novel while continuing to promote my first. In other words, I’m not likely to be in a position to start frequently updating the blog again before the end of May, at the earliest. Until then, this is a quick post to let you know I’m still breathing, and inform you of the most significant developments in my writing life since the turn of the year.
So, we are into the penultimate month of the year, and I am in need of some assistance to achieve an end of year target. Calling all book bloggers and booktubers: Do you like reading fantasy? Do you appreciate a character driven narrative? If the answer to both questions is yes, you might be able to help me break the 100 ratings and 50 reviews barrier for my book, The Exercise Of Vital Powers, on Goodreads.
As you may have noticed, it’s been a while since my last blog post. There are reasons for this, the principal one being that I’ve been focussed on my fiction writing for the past several weeks. After being sidetracked by a couple of novellas (that I’m still not sure I’m actually going to publish), I finally resumed work on the second draft of the sequel to The Exercise Of Vital Powers, that some of you are eagerly awaiting. With any luck you’ll get your hands on it no later than summer 2019; I’ve been making good progress on it over the last couple of weeks.
It’s exactly a month since the re-release of The Exercise Of Vital Powers, and it’s time for a look back at what the book has accomplished in those four weeks. To start with, I probably don’t need to state that sales, so far, are nothing to write home about. But as mentioned in a previous post, I’m not particularly interested in sales figures this time around. My primary goal in publishing a revised second edition of my debut novel is to ensure there is a large enough potential audience for the upcoming sequel. With that in mind I set three (non-sales related) end of year targets to determine whether the publication of a sequel next year is worthwhile. Now, one month later, let’s see how much closer I am to achieving these targets.
At the start of the year I set myself the goal of reading ten books for the annual Goodreads Reading Challenge. As I mentioned in a blog post earlier in the year, the reason for setting such a modest target was that every previous reading challenge I participated in ended in failure. This was typically the result of never having enough time to read as many books as I would like. But this year, much to my surprise, I read my ten books by the end of January. At the time, the ease with which I successfully completed the challenge caused me to contemplate the possibility of reading fifty-two books by the end of the year―an average of one book read a week―although I’d settle for twenty-five. Today this seems like wishful thinking.
As you know, the second edition of The Exercise Of Vital Powers was released a week ago today. But how has it been faring in that short time? Do I have a bestseller on my hands? Am I giving J.K. Rowling a run for her money? The answer, of course, is no. Consequently, I won’t be relinquishing the “Worst Selling Author” moniker any time soon, although it is worth mentioning that the new edition has already sold more copies in a week than the first edition did during its eight months on sale. Admittedly, that’s not saying much, but I consider it a good sign that things are moving in the right direction.
While I may not have done much in the way of writing during January, I was able to do more reading than usual. Enough reading, in fact, to help me successfully complete my Goodreads reading challenge, for the first time ever, by the end of the month. And this was despite losing a week of reading time to the flu. Admittedly, the target of ten books I set myself is miniscule compared to the goals of many other Goodreads users, but given how many obstacles life typically throws in front of me it still represented a challenge, albeit a modest one.
I have been a Goodreads member since 2013, and every year since 2014 I have participated in the annual Goodreads Reading Challenge, wherein users set themselves a goal for how many books they will read over the course of the year. For various reasons (the principal one being I chose not to include re-read books) I have yet to successfully complete a reading challenge; and progress on my current one isn’t going so well. I am way behind schedule.
It’s a Bank Holiday today and I’m bored so I’ve decided to answer one of the default questions that Goodreads presents to every author who signs up to their author program. The question I’ve chosen to tackle is perhaps the most common one an author gets asked: how do you deal with writer’s block? What I find most interesting about this particular question is the assumption that writer’s block is inherently a problem, and that it needs to be overcome. Personally, I’ve never viewed the matter in those terms so writer’s block has never been a genuine source of frustration to me. Whenever my own creative writing is brought to a grinding halt by writer’s block, I take it as a sign that I need to take a break from my story, so that’s exactly what I do. And depending on my frame of mind that break will manifest in one of the following six ways.