Making the transition from unpublished writer to published author

Readers of this blog will notice that I haven’t really talked about new or ongoing projects much recently, although January was Empire State‘s release month so there’s been a bit of a blitz on news, reviews, interviews, etc, related to that title. But I’ve actually come to realise that, perhaps a little to my own surprise, things have changed.

When I started this blog, I was an unpublished writer, and like many I wanted to basically chart my own progress – even if no one else was reading the blog, at least it would be a good tracker for my own benefit. So it made sense to talk about the work – short stories here and there, various novels I was working on. I used to put up little wordcount trackers, I revealed titles and one-line descriptions. In fact, for a few novels, I even wrote fake back cover blurbs, little mini-synopses.

For an unpublished writer, that all makes sense. You want to get noticed by people, but there’s more to it than that – you want to get people interested. So, free fiction here and there, and a blog about your projects and their progress. If you say you are a writer, it’s good to back that claim up with some evidence. And while novel blurbs and progress reports are perhaps a little academic if no one actually gets to read the books – because, unless you decide to self-publish, the ultimate goal is to hopefully get a publisher to pick them up – for any agents or editors out there who may be looking, it’s a nice way of showing that you are working your ass off.

At least, that’s what I think.

When you get a book deal, things change, and perhaps more than I realised at first. Apart from obvious things that are contracted and kept confidential until the appropriate time – for example, I sold Empire State to Angry Robot in February 2011, but it wasn’t announced until March – there are actually a lot of things that become important to keep private. This is a business, after all, and as with any business, information is shared only with those who need to know.

This includes future projects – but not just projects that may be contracted, pretty much anything else I’m doing. I actually realised this only relatively recently as something that has come up while doing promo work for Empire State. Interviewers love to ask what I’m working on at the moment or what is coming up next, and really it’s not something I can answer. Empire State is out, and Seven Wonders is coming in September, but beyond that I’ve had to default to the old standbys of “watch this space!” or “more information when I have it!”. To me that sounds a little pretentious, but really there isn’t anything to report. I’m working on stuff, for sure, but until projects are locked down and signed off, there just isn’t anything to say.

So gone are the days when I can list the next three or four novels I want to work on. I either want to sell them, or they might already be contracted but not announced, but either way it’s not public information anymore.

In a way this feels kinda weird, because it’s completely different to why I set this blog up in the first place! But, times and circumstances change. Wordcounts are gone. Book titles are gone. I mean sure, I can say I’m working on four things, and I’ve posted on both Facebook and Twitter than I’ve been doing a lot of synopses recently, but that’s it. It’s not that I’m being deliberately mysterious or vague, it’s just that there is nothing to say.

But when there is something to say, you can be sure I’ll say it. In the meantime, I’m… busy working on stuff!

And Seven Wonders is out in September, and you can put in your pre-orders at Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com now.

  • I think of myself as pre-published, ‘un’ sounds so ‘not’, but then it’s true. I’m in the place you were before you  ‘sold Empire State to Angry Robot ‘ and it is encouraging to read about your success. I have all those things on my blog now that you listed as stuff from the old days. I am definitely curious about word counts and other meat and potatoes progressions of novel writer’s works… kinda like the extras on a dvd. 

  • Oh, so do I – and certainly, once projects are announced, I’ll continue to do that kind of thing. As for yourself – excellent, keep posting that kind of update!