What a Year – 2018

The last twelve months have been a whirlwind of learning, pushing the boundaries of comfort and also have given me a great deal of fulfilment. 2018 saw my first year of blogging, with the site set up originally just to share my writing with a few people who’d shown interest.

Instead of staying as simple a vehicle for expressing my hobby, it turned into something much more when I decided the novel I’d finished at the start of the year would be published and let out into the wild.

That’s when the learning began and somehow I tapped into a community of fellow writers who were interested in my journey and found the things I wrote to be helpful in their own endeavours. With a keen thirst for finding out first hand, I started interviewing published authors for find their experience and it became the catalyst for so much more.

Now I sit here to take a few moments to reflect on the last twelve months which culminated in the publishing of my debut novel. What a journey it has been!

Here’s a summary of the year and I’ve included links to some of my favourite and most popular posts.


January

The first month of the year saw me complete what I thought was the finished novel after posting each chapter the day I wrote it. At this stage I had no idea where I was headed and was only really thinking about the storyline for the next novel in the series.

Whilst on a week-long break from fiction, I wrote my first non-fiction blog post, introducing the idea of the Bug Out Bag. In the post I documented my ten minute race around the house hunting out things I would need with only a few moments to go before I had to evacuate the house!

Ten Minutes To Go!

February

It wasn’t long before my fingers got itchy and after a week I started writing the follow up to the first novel. In February I posted twenty six chapters with little focus on anything else.

March

By March I’d decided to independently publish the completed first novel, knowing little about the process and whilst working on the second season I commissioned a designer friend who produced the cover for the novel, now titled, In The End. The plan at that time was to release the book in the summer. Little did I know how much work there was to do!

I took another break from fiction writing, two weeks I think, and wrote a second post about the Bug Out Bag, analysing how successful I’d been as I raced around the house collecting up useful things in a mad panic. It also saw the first release of my Bug Out Bag contents list.

Your Ten Minutes are Up!

April & May

I wrote and wrote and wrote in these months. Solid fiction, every day.

June

My birthday month saw the last chapters written for the second instalment and I made the decision to document my publishing journey, posting about my research and the decisions I was making as I went along. It was soon clear I would have to move the publication date to the autumn / fall.

I was still under the belief that all I needed was a copy edit which I had my wife doing, but I’d already bent my own rules and run through the entire first novel self-editing. By this time doubts had started to creep in that it might benefit from a professional development edit or assessment to see if it was going to be any good.

Development of my author platform started in earnest and I was quickly adding followers to my blog and by the end of the month I’d undertaken a huge amount of research into publishing and passed it on through the blog.

Along with six posts on the elements of the Bug Out Bag, I also wrote the dreaded blurb for the back of the novel.

My most popular post for June was about cooking for survival.

July

July saw me exercise my fiction fingers writing short single-chapter size stories in the world of the novel, plus very short stories which I began posting on Twitter, which I signed up for at the beginning of the month.

It also saw me undertake my first interviews of authors. All at this stage were very much like myself, but I learnt a huge amount and definitely found some very supportive people.

It was a very busy month for working on the manuscript for release. Thanks to wise words from contributors, I sent the novel off for professional evaluation, which came back very positive. I set about implementing the updates and making clarifications and at the same time finally decided I needed to make the investment of a professional copy-edit.

My most popular post for July was about first aid in survival situations.

August

I churned out the interviews, even when on holiday. I was getting such amazing ideas from people who had already been there and done what I was doing.

With a welcome break, I spend half of August reading whilst on holiday and I started connecting with more authors on twitter, getting more and more bold in who would message with my requests. After finishing the updates, the book went off to be copy edited, but I didn’t sit back and wait.

An interview with Sharon E. Cathcart was my most popular post for August.

September

Back from holiday I spend a lot of time on the interviews and gathering info for publishing and especially what happened post-publishing. I made a decision not to hide away and to be bold in my approach, fighting against my normal introvert tendency. I met some great people and continued to make connection through the interview process.

Research turned to sales promotion after release and I started looking at advertising as a viable option for indie authors, initially discounting many of the options, like Facebook and AMS.

I blogged about a short walking trip with friends and blogged, using it as a test for many of the items in the Bug Out Bag.

I opened out the interviews to look at other aspects of the industry, starting with what it takes to put together an anthology of short stories.

September saw my first turn at being interviewed.

My mini-adventure to the Isle of Wight became my most popular post for September.

October

I posted more short stories and looked at other aspects of a writer’s life, including how I use Twitter and took at look at writer’s groups, who they are for and how they can help your career.

I developed a teaser trailer, well actually two and published a guide to passive income for authors.

Then the serious work started when I got the manuscript back from the copy editor. I was lucky enough that they spotted some additional development work that needed looking at as well.

With the help of my WordPress followers, I set the date for release of In The End for November 30th. The big day was set and my focus was fixed.

My interview with Andrew C. Piazza was the most popular interview for October.

November

Working frantically behind the scenes I also ramped up the interviews, scoring some top names, bestsellers and award winners. Unsurprisingly, these interviews were amongst my most liked / viewed posts of all time.

Adrian Tchaikovsky

Mike Wells

Chris Beckett

Adam Croft

Pre-orders opened in the middle of the month and I started contacting everyone I had any social media connection to. I ended up with over thirty orders before the release date and I think I only lost one Facebook follower in the process!

I took part in my first writer’s tag after a year of blogging and starting looking in to the feasibility of producing an audiobook, soon finding out that it was accessible for all authors.

I launched another interview series, this time looking inside the publishing industry, which basically meant I wasn’t restricting my interviews to just authors. I started the process by interviewing the lovely Lorena Goldsmith, a literary consultant I used many moons ago.

I decided to take advertising seriously and signed up to an advertising course run by Mark Dawson, the hugely successful indie author. Ads for Authors is a big investment but one that should make all the difference in years to come.

Then release date came and I did my first guest posts and more interviews with lovely bloggers.

December

Whilst I watched my sales stats on an hourly basis I interviewed an audiobook producer which helped me with decide to commission my audiobook.

When interviewing John Jarrold, renowned SFF Literary Agent, I had my most popular / successful post of my blogging life.

Reviews for the book started coming through and thankfully they were very positive. It’s a battle to get people to provide a review but it’s one that every author seems to have to contend with.

I took a two-week break over Christmas, from posting at least, but now I’m ready to pick up the pace. Here’s what’s coming up next year!


What’s coming up in 2019

Publishing updates – Over the break I’ve being making some changes and some more investments which I will fill you all in on next week.

In The End Audiobook – Set to arrive in February / March 2019

The Follow Up – I’m still working on the edit / re-write, but will be finished in the first quarter. Then it will be off for beta reading, then professional evaluation and copy editing. I finally have a name for it, but I’ll keep that for a later post. Then of course there will be the cover! My wild stab in the dark for release will be quarter 3 of 2019.

Writing Book 3 – I’ll start writing the third novel as soon as I can. Probably during the beta reading phase of book 2. I’ll need to make a decision if it’s going to be written in the same way as the first two, i.e. posted daily on the blog. I probably will but we’ll have to wait and see.

More Interviews – I have some top authors being interviewed, some are already in progress and some have promised me some time in the new year. I have some big SFF names coming your way.

Publishing Industry Interviews – Will include a US agent who I am half way through producing an interview.

Advertising and promotion – I’ll be talking a lot about this in 2019 as I find my feet with how this can work to increase those sales.

Bug Out Bag – I have more ideas for Bug Out Bag posts, including improvising when the evacuation comes but you haven’t had the foresight to pack a bag.


A Big Thank You

Lastly, I want to use the end of this post to say a massive thank you to a lot of people who have helped me out either through their encouragement, comments on my posts, even if it’s just so I know someone is reading, or those who have given me advice and their time. Below is a list of those that stand out, but it is not complete and I’m sorry if your name does not appear. Either way, if you have helped me then you know who you are and I am grateful.

Laura Lassko – unfinnisheddreams.wordpress.com

R.K Lander – rklander.com

James McEwan – jplmcewan.wordpress.com

Hugh – Hugh’s Views and News

Gary Avants – godamonggeeks316.com

Victoria Ray – raynotbradbury.com

Darnell Cureton – darnellcureton.com

SE White – sewhitebooks.com

Malcolm Marsh – malcolmmarshauthor.com

William Ablan – williamablan.wordpress.com

Thank you and here’s to 2019!

GJ Stevens

I am a Writer. I am many other things too, but I love to write. On 8th November 2019 I released my second novel, Before The End, a compelling apocalyptic thriller that will leave you breathless, immersing you in a fight for survival. Available to pre-order now from Amazon!

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