Well, 2013 has been a big old year in our collaborative writing journey and we’re writing this blog just to remind ourselves of all that’s happened in the past twelve months. You can read it too, if you like.
We finally finish writing our How To book about collaboratively writing a novel and decide to give it the original and imaginative title of “How To Write A Collaborative Novel.” The long process of editing, rewriting and proof-reading still lies ahead.
We start advertising for writers to take part in the TenTo One venture, a collaborative writing project / competition in which ten authors start writing a novel together and then, one by one, are voted out until only one writer remains.
We run a creative writing workshop at the Nottingham Festival of Words. To reflect the city’s historic industry, all the events are renamed to have some tenuous link with lace. Fears that absolutely no one would turn up to “Weaving Words with Others” were put to rest when sixteen people appeared, most of them German, some of them non-English speakers. One attendee at the workshop was Sue Barsby, who, a few months later, would be picked as one of the ten writers for the Ten To One project.
Pleasant but modest sales of our first collaborative novel, Clovenhoof, are given a boost when Amazon select the novel for one of its own promotions. Sales shoot through the roof and, for one glorious week, our comic fantasy is #4 in the UK book sales charts.
A busy month kicks off with our very first all-expenses-paid research trip. To Wales! Our intention was to spend much of the weekend on Bardsey Island (off the Llyn Peninsula in North Wales), where much of our current novel, Pigeonwings, was set. However, inclement weather prevents boatman Colin from taking us over. The weekend is instead spent exploring the site of King Arthur’s last battle, eating fish and chips, and stealing the life story and personality of our B&B host, Klaus, to be used as the basis of fictional Bardsey monk, Brother Manfred.
Later in the month, we organise a sitcom writing workshop, led by sitcom veteran, Keith Lindsay. A successful event (which we ought to repeat in 2014) at which we first consider writing a book set entirely among an island community of monks.
We pay BookBub £59.65 promote Clovenhoof during a free giveaway promotion. The small fee leads to thousands of downloads and a subsequent surge in sales. We decide we like BookBub.
The ten authors who will write the Ten To One novel are selected. Sue Barsby, Luke Beddow, Danielle Bentley, Yasmin Ali, Simon Fairbanks, Jason Holloway, Maria Mankin, William Thirsk-Gaskill, Giselle Thompson and Livia Akstein Vioto possibly have no idea what they’ve let themselves in for. A Crowdfunder money-raiser nets some cash for Ten To One publishing costs. In exchange, several signed copies are promised and two characters in the novel will be renamed after significant donors.
We hang around in some dark and dodgy tunnels beneath Birmingham’s streets to take publicity portrait photographs. Four hours later, our photographer has had enough and we vacate one of dingy locations later used in BBC’s Peaky Blinders.
The month ends with our biggest paycheque to date from Amazon.co.uk (much of it due to BookBub promotion) – £1898.55. We really like BookBub.
Clovenhoof goes continental with our first sales in Germany.
Ten authors start work on the Ten To One novel, writing a 1,000 word chapter apiece. Ten chapters down, fifty five to go.
We participate in a novelist event at the Leominster. To reflect the town’s historic industry, all the events are renamed to have some tenuous link with wool. “Gripping Yarns” is the most popular cloth-based event we’ve ever spoken at.
We work on the final edits and proof-reading of Pigeonwings. The annual faff of getting paper copies of our novels printed up begins in earnest. Lots of e-mails about fonts, archaic paper sizes and different shades of white paper fly between the West Midlands and Suffolk.
Because we’re reckless, we decide that we’re going to write two novels in the next twelve months, both of them set in the expanding Clovenhoof universe. Not only that, we decide that we are going to write the two novels simultaneously. We begin to knock about ideas for a monastery-based comedy and a saints-on-a-road-trip story.
We, along with our better halves, celebrate the completion of “Pigeonwings” with curry and beer. We promise our spouses that we will not talk about writing or publishing at all. That promise lasts for 17 minutes.
We indulge in our greatest waste of money of the year, spending £360 on a feature article in The Big Issue. This leads to absolute no sales but makes us feel like we have indirectly helped the homeless.
Perhaps inspired by the sitcom writing workshop, Heide and Iain submit 5 “hilarious” sketches to Radio 4 comedy show, 2525.
The Ten To One project gets a brief mention in the Birmingham Post. The article compares the writing project to the Hunger Games, even though we do not force our writers to kill one another.
We run workshops at the PowWow LitFest and the Andromeda One science fiction convention, both in Birmingham. One of them is well attended. We pretend that the other one is too by scribbling on paper and making lots of noise (this is actually true).
Stealing an idea from Graeme Reynolds, we hold a virtual launch for Pigeonwings on Facebook and it is a genuine success. Fancy dress competitions, dance-floor fillers and virtual cocktails keep us going until the small hours.
We finally decide that we really, really need an accountant.
Heide and Iain do not get a call-back from 2525. Heide and Iain do not become the next big thing in radio comedy.
We finally sort out our tax issues with the US branch of Amazon. Having an accountant helps.
Heide runs a how to make an e-book workshop with members of Birmingham Writers Group. Iain doesn’t help because he’s on a Welsh mountain.
We hold the actual physical launch party for Pigeonwings. Striving for originality, it becomes the only launch party in history featuring a make-your-own-halo station and angel-based pub quiz. Fantasy horror writer and Ten To One judge, James Brogden, takes the whole thing too seriously and then waltzes off with the quiz prizes and a high-quality halo.
Without pause for breath, we use eight feet of wallpaper and a bunch of Sharpies to plot out Clovenhoof books 3 and 4. Yes, that’s how we do it. Wallpaper and felt tip pens.
Ten To One achieves 666 likes on Facebook, further evidence that Satanic forces have an interest in our writing careers.
We commission our very first piece of real proper paid for cover artwork. Mike Watts work on Iain’s steampunk chapbooks looks very nice indeed. Mike’s work can be seen at http://bigbeano.co.uk/
We publish The Angels of the Abyss, the first in a series of six steampunk horror chapbooks.
Ten To One is now down to four authors out of the original ten. Yasmin Ali or Simon Fairbanks or Jason Holloway or Maria Mankin will be the one to write the final chapter in four months time.
Clovenhoof gets its 100th review on Amazon.co.uk (average rating 4.6 stars).
Finished writing the first chapters for our Joan of Arc and Monks of Bardsey novels. These novels need names.
Twelve months after finishing writing the book, we FINALLY finish the edits, proofs and corrections for How To Write A Collaborative Novel. The book goes on sale on Amazon on 31st December.