Is my blog just like an expanded Tweet?

Of course I should have thought about this before, but I’m wondering whether this blog could be seen as just as an expanded Twitter stream. It displays the same way, and now that I’ve installed(?) a widget to add a link to the blog automatically on Twitter the two are weaving even more closely together. It’s also beginning to feel like a continuous loop of self-expression, potentially narcissistic and terribly distracting from actually doing and being in the world rather than commenting on it. That’s how I used to feel about Twitter before I ever started it, and that view is pulling me back again. More importantly right now, I’m feeling more drawn back to ‘real writing’.

Chapter 6 of ‘Fallout’ is desperate to be written, and I must get back to it. It’s the first opportunity for my new character Lawrence Finer to be born, a fully formed adult with a history and feelings and knowledge and substance. I have a picture of him that I found somewhere and I knew straight away that this was him. If he walked into the room right now I would know him, and talk to him about his life. But all this blogging could stand like a curtain between him and me. I need to be manage my time and focus really carefully over the next few days, so that Chapter 6 gets written and yet I practice my blogging skills enough to consolidate them.

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To sell or not to sell

When I published my first non-fiction books about education, many years ago, we sold through old-fashioned mail order, and directly to clients when I was working with them. Then I started writing fiction, and set up a website where customers could buy my novels as well as the non-fiction books, using Paypal. I thought we would sell more that way than any other, but that has proved to be quite mistaken. The majority of my paperback novel sales have been through retailers around Cumbria, to local people and to some of the millions of visitors to the Lake District every year who enjoy – as I do – reading about where they are. Ebook sales have been quite good, but again seasonal, with the winter time being slower than the summer, reflecting the number of people who are visiting and seeing my books on sale. We sell through Amazon, and through other bookshops that use distributors such as Neilsen, but not many compared to the actual bookshop sales.

Looking ahead, my hope is to reach more readers, within and beyond the Cumbria region, and that the larger bookshop chains will then be encouraged to stock the books. I need to publicise more, and that’s a goal for when the full trilogy is finished and out there, by early summer 2014. The publication of Part 2, Forgiven, boosted the sales of Part 1, A Good Liar, and the third one ‘Fallout’ could have the same effect. I hope so. But setting up this new WordPress blog has prompted me to consider whether I want to sell books through this website. I think not. To do so would mean an upgrade to allow me to use the site commercially, and is it worth it for the proportion of sales that have come via that route? Instead, I think I’ll use this site to blog about the writing process, use the written word to clarify my own thinking, and engage with other writers and readers too.

If people want to buy my books, they have various opportunities to do so, in both paperback and ebook form. Sales will not be spectacular, but there’s no sell-by date on historical fiction and sales should be steady year by year. Already we’re re-printing ‘A Good Liar’ as stocks of the first 1500 print run are almost finished. Word of mouth and a little local publicity seem to be working. Now if I could just persuade people to buy the books rather than lend their own copy to every friend and relation who wants to read it, that would be good!

Feeling a little more confident

So, with a little help and deliberately going through the uncertain process again, I seem to be making progress. From previous experience though I know it’ll take several more successful attempts before I feel that I can do what I need to do without hesitation, and know what to do when I get stuck. When we’re working with children we say they are learning when ‘they know what to do when they don’t what to do’ and that’s what I’m aiming for now in myself. Interesting how that fairly trite phrase suddenly has more meaning.

A bold image of the learner symbol

A bold image of the learner symbol

A new post – the morning after

This is how it's supposed to work

This is how it’s supposed to work

Learning is a funny business: you hear about something, make notes about it, try it out, talk about it, and then you close down the machine, go elsewhere, have a meal, watch Borgen, go to bed, wake up the next day  and try to remember what you learned the day before. Ah….Um…

On the second day of a two day course you are asked to start by using all the skills you learned yesterday.

Uploading the picture was the first challenge, needed help. So I’m trying that again. This portrait of Jane Austen was found on Wikimedia, downloaded and then inserted. This time I did it without help.

This was the only portrait, by her sister Cassandra

This was the only portrait, by her sister Cassandra