Back in January I first interviewed Chris Ward (you can read his original interview here), I recently caught up with him for this guest authors revisited interview. You can read what he has been up to below:
What has changed in your life since we last spoke?
I've added a few more titles (30 in total, I think now, under three pen names), and written a couple of hundred thousand more words. I've also completely revised the way I promote. For example, I have pulled my novels out of KDP Select and put them up on other platforms. No more free promotions. I've followed a lot of stats from far better writers, and giving away 40,000 copies to sell 100 in follow up sales just isn't for me. Select used to be a huge money spinner but now it's pretty much a waste of time, and the likelihood of getting torpedo reviews from people who download your book just because it's free, regardless of the genre, just isn't worth the extra $100 or so. I'm all over 99 cent promotions, but of course to get listed on sites you need reviews, and getting reviews without doing free promos when you don't have an existing fanbase is hard and time consuming. Before I'm called a hypocrite, I still do free promos on my collections and short stories, mostly because I can't be bothered to move them all over to other sites. I also believe there is some value in having the first in a series permanently free. It's kind of like throwing mud at a wall, hopefully some of it will stick. My novels are too important, though. I'm looking for a lifelong career and I don't want to shoot myself in the foot in the first couple of years trying to make a quick buck.
However, I tend to change my mind a lot, so if Select suddenly becomes profitable again I may well go back to it. Never say never.
Have you learnt any new wisdom?
Just lots of facts. I learned there are no moles in Ireland and that the London Underground makes more money from merchandise featuring the famous map than it does from trains. :-) Writing related, I've learned a lot more about craft and I'm continuing to learn all the time.
Have you become a better writer? If so, how?
I listen, and I apply what I hear to my work. The better I get at writing the easier the job for whoever has to edit or proofread it, and the more likely I am to sell lots and lots of books. Listening is so much more important than speaking. I have developed a small following through the self publishing blog I've started, which aims to help complete newbies avoid all the pitfalls I suffered, and as a result I get a lot of emails about posts on there asking for further advice. Some people really take on board what I say, others get all "Yeah, but ..." defensive. They have no chance until they change their attitude. When I started out I thought I knew everything, but 18 months on and I've realised that even now I know hardly anything at all.
What are you working on at the moment?
Tube Riders: Revenge, the third part in my Tube Riders series. I have finished part two, Exile, and am currently editing it, but I got caught up writing part three and so I'm just running with it for the moment. While I've sold a few hundred copies of part one, I don't exactly have a fan base clamouring for my next release so I figure I'll just do it when I'm satisfied that it's ready. It may even be that I double drop them at the same time.
In addition, I've also started work on a prequel, called Rise of the Governor. It's set between 1950 and 1980, so will be more of a Cold War thriller than a sci-fi.
And in addition to that, I have a horror novel that I've got 100 pages or so of written, but it got kind of shunted aside for the Tube Riders stuff. I'm hoping to finish it before Christmas. I went proper old school scary for this one, mixing up the structure a bit like I did for my novel The Man Who Built the World, with a similarly intricate plot. This one is a lot darker though.
Tell us about your latest release and how we can find out more.
Back in April I put out a kind of psychological comedy/tragedy novel called Head of Words. Because, as I've mentioned, I refuse to run free promos on it, it has mostly sunk without trace, although it's got good reviews and I think it's excellent (of course I would!). It's unlike anything I've ever written before. First blogger review I got said, "Chris Ward is clearly a professional writer". Oh, how I wish ... good to know I have the chops if not the sales figures.
I also recently put out a few short stories about village green cricket under the name of Michael White. I'm a huge cricket enthusiast and can write about it with ease. They're simple tales of heroism in village cricket matches, though sometimes with a bit of genre fiction thrown in. I didn't expect to actually sell any, but I've shifted a handful already.