2015, thanks for everything.

Branching out.
It's been a funny old year. In a good way, I mean. I started 2015 with the familiar writer-inbox staring game familiar to anyone who has both a Labrador and a biscuit tin. And then, as if by magic (because it was certainly magical at the time) I had a book deal for a thriller series. 

Inevitably, that experience has changed my perception of myself as a writer, and how I look at my books, and also - for this series at least - how I write.

There's no getting around it, success matters. I can open doors, liberate potential and liberate us to go on to new projects and new directions.  

Actually, let's not beat around the bush - it has been an amazing writing year. Freelance clients have come and gone - some unexpectedly - and I could not have predicted, back in January, how 2015 would unfold. I've posted my gratitude list below, along with a considerably shorter list of disappointments.

There aren't words to fully express my thanks to everyone who has shared a link on social media, or downloaded a book, or hosted a post. I know many of you had your own books to attend to, so I am doubly appreciative. 

If there is anyone out there who has read any of the Thomas Bladen books - or anyone else's, come to that - please consider writing an honest review on Amazon. It makes a huge difference to authors to know what readers really think about their work and it helps improve a book's chances of being seen (by some algorithmic alchemy). 

Anyway, without further ado...

Standpoint published on 17th March 2015.
- Line of Sight published on 10th May 2015.
- Cause & Effect published 28th November 2015.
- Being Tiffany Truscott's guest of her BBC Radio Cornwall show.
- Being the recipient of other people's support and generosity in helping to spread the word about my books.
- A hugely successful British author agreeing to host a blog post from little ole me.
- Starting a new magazine column about creative writing.
- The Cornishman newspaper sharing my book news with their readers.    

- Musa Publishing, who first brought The Silent Hills and superhero club (now self-published) to life, closing their doors.
- A national newspaper book reviewer not having the time to read / review Standpoint.
- The hugely successful British author, who agreed to host a blog post from little ole me, not doing it after eight months of email ping-pong.

I couldn't end this year without thanking Jasper Joffe and JoffeBooks for exceeding my expectations as a debut thriller author, and giving me a masterclass in writing for a commercial publisher. It has been an absolute blast and I look forward to breaking new ground with you in 2016.
I'll leave you with this well-known quote, which I like to think of as the writer's creed:

Again I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favour to those with knowledge, but time and chance happen to them all.

If I could pass on one thought to anyone writing or thinking about writing, it's this: just write, and keep writing. Amazing things are possible, whatever your story and whatever your personal story. (See my blog post in January for more on that topic.)

Success stories

Just for fun (and private research!), I asked a few writer friends what their definition is of success. Re-reading the list, it's surprising how diverse the answers are. Have  read and see what you think.

However you define it, may you succeed in your creative endeavours and attain your grail.

Jane Pollard

IMO there are four stages of success:  
First: Actually completing your book after all the false starts, doubts and revisions. 
Second: Having it accepted by a publisher who believes in both the book and you as an author.  
Third: Sales resulting from word-of-mouth recommendation - the best possible advertising.
Fourth: Using all you've learned to make the next book even better.

Jane is a prolific author and tutor.

Martin Bodenham 

For me, success is defined as those rare moments when I learn that my writing has made a genuine emotional connection with the reader, such as demonstrated by the following Amazon review for my thriller novel, The Geneva Connection:

"I bought this novel as a gift for my dad. He had recently been diagnosed with Alzheimers and was having difficulty with reading, among other things. So, he bought a Kindle. This was one of the first stories he read on it. I can't even explain how wonderful it was when dad realized he could read again, and he finished this in a weekend. So, I'm posting this review for him.

Dad has spent years reading every political intrigue book he could find. He absolutely loved The Geneva Connection and ranks it in his top 10. Highly recommended read for everyone."

Martin writes international thriller novels.  More information can be found on his author website: www.martinbodenham.com

Chloe Banks

I guess to me success is... achieving a goal - whether that's a 
competition win, publication or just finishing a first draft - through hard-work and against the odds. If it comes easy, or all the odds are in your favour it's luck; if you've created it for yourself, it's success.

Chloe blogs at http://madebythepotter.blogspot.co.uk/ and her novel, The Art of Letting Go, is currently a finalist in the People's Book Prize, so there's still time to read it and vote for it (my words, not hers).


Samantha Tonge

For me success is all about selling books - not for the money
nor for fame (fat chance of that anyway!) but because it means I am reaching an audience. And that for me is the whole point of writing. I have never been a writer who has simply written for themselves.


Villayat SnowMoonWolf Sunkmanitu

If someone can be inspired or motivated towards a better 

place in their own journey as a result of my work - or if someone can begin to understand the difficulties that people living with trauma face on a daily basis, I'll have achieved what I've set out to do.


Wishing you all a very berry Christmas and a fruitful 2016! 

Freelancing 360°

A friend once told me that part of a mechanic's job was massaging the egos of car owners.
"Yes, that's a classic model."
"There's never a problem getting spares for this one." (And with good reason.)

For freelance writers - and for most self-employed people, I imagine - there's a lot of focus on service. Sometimes that's called customer service and sometimes it's more loftily referred to as relationship management (usually on CVs), but it comes down to keeping the customer satisfied.

That requires playing a variety of roles, often before you can get down to the job itself. You may work on refining (sometimes defining) the scope of their requirements and checking that those requirements align with their objectives / audience. You may feel you have taken on the guise of a counsellor when the client wants to talk through not only the job but also the reasons behind it and the effects it has on them.

Here are some of the other roles you may play: ideas generator, business support, marketing strategist, concept developer, publicist, reality check, negotiator, and confidante.

There are times when all you want to do is get on with the job, but paying attention to your clients stated and unstated needs (you can add intuitive to the list of roles) will pay dividends. The more closely aligned you are with their vision of their work the more likely you are to deliver to their satisfaction. It naturally follows, when that's the case, you become the logical choice when any further projects arise.

It can be time consuming when you fulfil additional roles, especially when they need to be covered before you can reach the writing / editing / proofreading. However, they are not hurdles; they are simply additional aspects of the job and you need to factor in the time required and the cost of providing those services too.