cartoon hedgehog writer Erwin

Positive Feedback?

As a novice novelist I am making plenty of mistakes. I am, it turns out, fallible. This is a shock to the system that I will recover from in time. Maybe. In 2030 or so.

The whole process of writing my first book was great fun, I enjoyed choosing words, creating pictures in my mind, even the luxury of a little writer’s block to moan about to friends and family and make me feel like a real author! The block bit I am guessing is actually not something that real professional writers suffer from since they write so much – the need to eat being quite high on the agenda I suppose.

I also did the cover art, with a number of designs whittled down by straw poll among the same friends and family. I am not sure that I got the tone right for the setting but hey, again you live and learn. Thoughts anyone?

Then came crunch time, release into the wild on Amazon, something I never actually imagined happening when I started, and that first copy sliding out on to my desk. It may be a little tragic but I will admit I danced around the room a bit. OK. Quite a lot.

Then, well, the waiting begins. You try and publicize in the best way you can and yet yours is a lonely offering among many millions of others and you can see every day your sales rank falling as no one can even see your baby exists (feel free to sob a little at this point). You need reviews. Lots of reviews. So you hand over copies to anyone who expresses even mild interest and beg for an honest (but please not too honest) opinion. Now I have been lucky so far and the reviews are on the whole good. But. One friend who read my book had more extensive feedback, mainly in the form of ‘Whys’.

They got lost in the intricacies of the setting, my post-apocalyptic, non-dystopian schtick worked for them but why did everyone not have electricity? Why were there steam trains when cars were also about? Roughly 1910-20 technological era. Why does my world seem quite medieval? Why is religion so important? All good questions. Which I had thought I had answered, by subtle suggestion and little pieces of explanation sneaked into dialogue where I could. I assumed that my reader was going to tumble to the logic behind a low energy, oil scarce, low population, post-catastrophe world where all sorts of ideas and eras resurface, without billboard-sized patronising explanation paragraphs. My friend’s take was to assume that the reader is not so smart. The million dollar question: who is right? Are chunks of explanatory stuff a good idea? My instinct is against it and sticking with my ‘smart reader’ pitch but I would be interested to know what you think.

thumbnail Renaissance cover

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