Winter 2022 – writing insights.


Hi everyone,

I hope you’re keeping well, avoiding covid, and that life is treating you kindly. We’re in December already… Waiting for snow.

I think you probably all know by now, that for me, a highlight of releasing Red Mice will always be Mr Peter Gutmann’s students choosing Red Mice for their class read, not just once, but three times. I’m hugely grateful for the experience.

After publishing Red Mice, I wanted to break into traditional publishing. Unfortunately, I encountered some unpleasant people along the way and took time out. But I’ve always been a writer, so regardless, the joy for me is in the work.

And over the years, I’ve learned a lot about publishing conventions. I don’t mean Comi-Con or Fantasy-Con 😊 more about rules, and how an industry is run. Let’s start at the beginning.  When I wrote Red Mice, agents said to me: ‘It’s cross genre.’ Genre is a lot more fluid than it used to be, but the point is I didn’t understand how the concept of genre applied to books. If you’re not familiar with how the publishing world sees genre – think Elizabethan corset, or Viv’ Westwood. Fashion; beautiful, tailored, and restrictive. Genre determines which shelf your book sits on and how it’s marketed. If you’re aiming for an agent, then you need to be able to tell your agent who you see yourself alongside; your comp’ titles. If you’re indie publishing – it’s the biggest label you’re writing under. Crime. Fantasy. Etc.

Maybe, unlike me, you already knew all this stuff before you started, and that’s brilliant. Whereas I just wrote Red Mice believing it was ‘crime thriller’ and the reader would decide how they responded to a book. Naively I thought there was room for that engagement. In reality, there’s less than you think! A great deal of money is spent on marketing budget for pre-determined best-sellers, by publishers. The vast majority of writers aren’t going to be best-sellers, because without a fantastic agent with a proven track record at creating best-sellers, it’s rare to hit the Sunday Time and NYT lists with a debut. The likelihood is that over time you’ll build a catalogue, accruing more readership as you write, if you’re lucky. It’s such a small percentage of writers who are an instant break-out success with a debut. But it does happen.

As for writing style – plotting or pantsing… I plotted Red Mice out on massive sheets of paper, stuck on the wall. But as time goes by, I’ve found it depends on the book. Now, I outline more. Not enough to kill the joy of the creativity. How do you feel about genre, and are you a plotter or pantser? Let me know!

Have a wonderful Christmas and New Year.

Look after yourselves.