Royal Albert Hall in the winter

2019 Review

So the year has ended. What does the 2019 review look like? How did my writing progress over twelve months? It was great to get a new book out, the first for several years. I also stepped up a gear in terms of words written, and I’ve now got several other new books nearly ready to go.

2019 Review – word counts

December was slower than planned due to several hundred exam papers which needed marking for the day job. These demands, unfortunately, ate into the time I would usually spend writing.

Consequently, December only reached 5,731 new words, less than the 9,000 I was aiming for. However, across the course of the whole year, the picture is much better. I exceeded my annual goal of 110,000 words in September. The entire year total was 128,500 words, a daily average of 351. Compared to 2018, this was a vast improvement. During the whole of the preceding year, I only wrote 36,678 words. 2019 was also the first year I exceeded 100,000 annual words.

Possibly the most critical factor during the year has been my use of public transport to get to work. This quiet time allows me a good 30 minutes every day to focus on writing before other demands step in. While it is not ideal to be writing on a train early every morning, it is satisfying to start the working day knowing I’ve achieved my primary writing goal at the start. Unfortunately, the return trip after ten-twelve hours of work is less conducive to writing, especially when there are no seats.

Another critical factor in 2019 was the improved use of my holidays to get some writing done. These extra days have not been consistently used every holiday, and as a teacher, I earn a few additional weeks. Still, the summer made a noticeable difference to the totals achieved, and August saw an average daily word count of just under 900 words. The holiday factor goes some way towards not being able to get much new writing done at weekends as teaching requires me to spend several hours every weekend in preparation and marking.

2019 Review – releases

November 2019 saw the release of Outbreak London, book 5 of the  Royal Zombie Corps series. This was the first book I’ve released in several years. At 40,000 words, it was longer than the earlier books in the series and has also had a far better initial edit. It also boasted an excellent cover by Stuart Bache. With a significant marketing effort, it’s also been my most successful launch to date.

The short story ‘On discovering a zombie’ was also made available to the Readers’ Club and is downloadable only by signing up via the homepage of this blog. It’s a short story set around one of the side characters in the Royal Zombie Corps series.

2019 Review – writing projects underway

  • ‘Dead Handler’, Book 6 of the Royal Zombie Corps series, was on hold during December due to work commitments. It’s ready for editing and proof-reading but has been on hold while I’ve been prioritising workload
  • The new cover of Blood, Mud and Corpses is likely to be launched in January or February. I decided to get this done urgently as the old cover is poor. Advancing this cover up the schedule does mean a delay in publishing new work
  • Book 2 of the Butcher’s Funeral series is still on hold while I finish other things. It’s ready for the whole editing process
  • Book 7 of the Royal Zombie Corps series is on schedule for the completion of the first draft in January 2020. Thirty-one thousand words were written, and the aim is to have around 40,000 by the end of the first draft. This book is where the majority of my writing efforts have been during December, part of my habit of writing every day I possibly can
  • Tigers on the Western Front is currently being re-edited and is ready for a final proof-reading. The 2nd edition will then be launched, and the book will be recovered later

2019 Review – other projects

  • A significant effort was made to build up the Readers’ Club, primarily using Facebook during the last quarter of the year. This work was successful and helped launch Outbreak London
  • I’ve started to use Amazon Marketing Services for adverts on Amazon. It’s early days, and I still need to work quite a bit on getting this right
  • During 2019, I’ve spent quite a lot of time working through various Self Publishing Formula courses to help me market my books
  • Blood, Mud and Corpses has also been removed from permafree, resulting in a few more sales overall

2020 Publishing schedule

Entering 2020 with three books almost ready to go is a good feeling. I had wanted to get them out earlier, but have held back through a combination of taking more time over editing and spacing out cover work.

  • January 2020 – new cover for Blood, Mud and Corpses 
  • February/March 2020 – ‘Dead Handler’, book 6 of the Royal Zombie Corps series. Dropped back again as I get a better idea of the timescales involved in the final pieces of work
  • March/April 2020 – Butcher’s Funeral book two, probably going to be titled ‘Butcher’s Fire.’
  • March/April 2020 – book 7 of the Royal Zombie Corps series will be the final book of the Great War era
  • Releases later in the year to be confirmed, but hopefully, another two will happen, bringing the total books published in 2020 to five

Plans for 2020

  • I’m increasing my daily writing average target to at least 400 words a day. I’ve been pleased with the productivity over 2019, but it has been patchy with several excellent months making up for a handful of weaker months. The new target will be for 150,000 words over the year, requiring a daily quota of 410. If successful, this will exceed 2019 as my best year for writing new words
  • Complete first drafts of at least three books, to publish two during 2020. These are likely to include a third ‘Butchers’ book and a new crime series to be set in the 18th century
  • Release the three books which are almost ready to go
  • Continue the re-covering process for all my older books
  • Develop learning about publishing and writing, specifically working through one of the Mark Dawson SPF courses
  • Continue to develop the AMS marketing campaign
  • Extend the work on building the Readers’ Club via Facebook

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