Counting the Cost


I’ve been encouraged to keep going with my writing, but I have some questions. Unless I can answer those churning thoughts, the future looks vague.

What is the true cost of writing?

Does writing have a price, a value?

What is a true measure of a book’s worth?

I’ve been writing some book reviews so perhaps that is where the worth is measured – in writing a book that garners five-star reviews. I have finally got my first review for the second edition of Spiral of Hooves and it was a five. Hopefully, there will be more as don’t reviews drive sales.

However, I know as a writer that writing a review is not easy. So, I’m grateful to those that bother. It’s only been two months since the new edition of Spiral of Hooves was released – plenty of time. And there are thirteen reviews from the first edition across Amazon US and UK.

The real question is: Will the sales cover the financial costs of releasing that second edition. At present, probably not, as I estimate that I need one thousand sales to cover the costs so far. What were those costs?

Formatting      $50

Cover               $160

Publishing       $17.19 [proof copy]

Promotion       $226.59

Giveaways      $488.05

TOTAL           $941.83

Can I afford to publish another book? How much of my costs will even a small press cover? Can I justify the cost that is not included above thanks to some very generous editors?

Even if I find a small press – or an agent – I still need to be prepared to find an editor. I can go cheap, but that is foolish. The cost of a professional editor can be a $1,0000 or more. My current WIP, Fates Maelstrom, will require at least one if not three ‘sensitivity readers’ at $250 each. There is good editing software – like Fictionary – to reduce the number of paid edits, but that costs as well. $1,500 and rising.

Bottom line is that I’m retired and bills like medical, insurance, and HOA, as well as household expenses, are the priorities – followed by helping the family.

So – what should I do?

Give up writing?

Find a benefactor?

Write another 50k first draft for NaNoWriMo next month to postpone the decision?


#IWSG – Lesson Learned

Insecure Writers Support Group Badge

Making time to write this monthly post for Insecure Writer’s Support Group Day ties in with this month’s optional question?

July 5 Question: What is one valuable lesson you’ve learned since you started writing?

Don’t rush any stage of the writing process. Make time and take time.

It took me thirteen years to write my debut novel, Spiral of Hooves, which was published in 2013. Republishing the novel in a revised edition – with minor changes to address reviewers’ comments – is taking time. I’m not rushing the process as I’ve learnt that rushing leads to ‘misteaks’.

A part of learning that lesson has been realising why publishers take time releasing a book – editing in all its stages, design including the cover, and setting a publication date etcetera.

Which leads me to the crucial date for the re-release of ‘Spiral of Hooves’ in Kindle and paperback– August 7th – which also happens to be my birthday, taking me further into my 60s.



Cover design by Jonathan Temples. Cover photo by Nick Perry


A note about the new cover. My friends Jane & Nick Perry found and supplied his photo of my other friend Sarah-Jane Brown of Shoestring Eventing which my cover designer Jonathan Temples turned into this great image. There is a great reverse for the paperback as well and this is, in fact, the first paperback edition.


Purpose of IWSG: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Posting:  The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer – aim for a dozen new people each time – and return comments. This group is all about connecting! Be sure to link to this page and display the badge in your post.

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!

Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG

Every month, we announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say.

The awesome co-hosts for the July 5 posting of the IWSG are Tamara Narayan, Pat Hatt, Patricia Lynne, Juneta Key, and Doreen McGettigan!


Where am I going in 2017?


Any realistic writing plans for 2017 are dependent on my health.

My multiple sclerosis has entered a vicious, downward spiral with side issues like pulled tendons and swollen legs aggravating the MS. The consequences are that first, I have to cope with constant pain, sometimes bearable but other times excruciating to the point that all I can do is scream. Second, a combination of medication and lack of sleep at night, from the pain, means that I doze for much of the day, or I struggle to stay awake when I need to do anything crucial.

Excuses over, here are my writing targets for 2017 in achievable order:

I fell asleep here at 17.45, I think [Day 1]

[Day 2] Finally, I’ve got a bit more energy to write.



My debut novel, Spiral of Hooves was published on December 9th, 2013 and was available for eighteen months. My publisher, Spectacle Publishing Media Group was changing hands, so I chose to terminate our agreement, receiving all my rights back.

As I don’t feel that the novel was promoted effectively, which is clear by the friends who ask if I ever finished writing the book, then a second release is needed. Furthermore, there has never been a paperback version, so that will be part of the publishing plan.

The first step, though, is to check the reviews, that I copied off Amazon and Goodreads, for anything that needs revising and reading the novel again myself. The resulting revision will also allow me to check the foreshadowing for the sequel Tortuous Terrain.

Next, I need to identify the publishing route. I had presumed that it would be impossible to find a publisher that handled previously published books. However, I discovered Fahrenheit Press that publishes ‘Crime Fiction’ and are “not too bothered if the books have been published before”. I need to check them out more, so if anyone knows about them, please let me know.

The other option is the self-publishing route, and the choice seems to be between Create Space and Book Baby, although there may be better options that I’m overlooking. All recommendations are gratefully accepted. This route means formatting the novel for both eBook and paperback, a major task and daunting – but worth getting right. There are also financial implications at a time when health care has to be the priority.

And then I need to promote Spiral of Hooves effectively and widely – having prepared a strategy in advance.


16:00 – can I rest now, please?

20:28 – rested and showered so sort of energized.



Photo of a cloud illuminated by sunlight. ~ by Ibrahim Iujaz from Rep. Of Maldives


Storms Compass is the first book in the post-apocalyptic series Gossamer Flames. Books 2 and 3 are partly written already, as I constructed all three around short stories.

One of my critique partners has done an extensive page by page assessment that will be the basis for my final draft. Even though one of my two line-editor friends edited an earlier draft of Storms Compass, I will have made enough substantial changes to run it past the other editor. There are cost implications at this stage as well.

When I have the polished novel, I will attempt to find a publisher – having ensured that I have an excellent synopsis and blurb, that my author profile reflects the ones on social media, and ensured all recommendations for submissions are checked off.

That process could take me into 2018, so I need to be making other plans.



A lot is dependent on (a) the response that I get to the re-release of Spiral of Hooves; (b) my financial situation. If sales are minimal and health care eats away at our savings, I can attempt to finish the re-draft of Fates Maelstrom and doing research for Eagle Crossing.

On the other hand, if both Spiral of Hooves and Storms Compass are well received, I will need to work on their sequels. Is that hopeful thinking?

Have you any advice on this crazy plan, please? Does my strategy make sense?



How do you choose which path?

English: Crossroads - and three ways out of th...

English: Crossroads – and three ways out of the road opposite I don’t think I’ve ever seen this before on a single track road – a left, right and straight ahead lane to choose from. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


When you reach a crossroads is there a right path?  Will turning right lead to a precipice or inspiration? Is self-publishing a more stressful route than the safe traditional path?  Will choosing to focus on the task ahead be at the expense of other demands?

This last month has thrown all these questions at me, complicated by the pain and exhaustion of MS – the MonSter that shares my life.  So where to start at this crossroads with multiple junctions? News first as that can lead down other lanes.

Hoof Shine

Hoof Shone ~ Photo credit: Flickr

Spiral of Hooves: Last month (in August 2nd post) I mentioned that I was considering submitting Spiral of Hooves to a US publishing group  Well I did and they wrote back saying they were interested in publishing the novel so would send me a contract. Still early days but this could be the break I dreamt of years ago.  For now I am being patient and tackling other work.

Fire Wyrm

Fire Wyrm (Photo credit: garlandcannon)

Wyrm Bait: Returning to the first draft a year after writing this second attempt at a novel, I have found elements to change but also a basic structure and characters that read well. It is tempting to work on every sentence but at this stage I am looking at the bigger picture to see if the overall plot works. One element will demand a major rewrite – Point of View (POV).

When I wrote the first draft, I had a clear idea of the protagonist and chose his POV in third person as the opening voice, which works. I deliberated about the second POV: Should I choose the antagonist?  Should I choose his ‘sidekick’?  Would a female POV be better?  In the end I chose a guy close to the villain – as that seemed easier than getting into a female head.  The option of trying to inhabit the mind of the antagonist, make him believable and not have him lie overtly, was a tall order and not something I was ready to attempt; especially Agatha Christie does it brilliantly in ‘The Murder of Roger Ackroyd’.

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In retrospect the second POV, as it currently stands, lacks credibility, perhaps because I tried to write an Asian POV plus the guy has strong similarities to the protagonist, and reads too much like an observer and victim of events.  So the conversations between him and his partner will be presented as transcripts by someone anonymous.  The new second POV who participates in the same events more actively than the Asian guy, is a female associate but American.  Having written a female POV as the protagonist in Fates Maelstrom – the latest WIP –I feel confident attempting it again.  Also the character is set to return in the sequel.

The Lair of the White Wyrm

The Lair of the White Wyrm (Photo credit: karlequin)

Wyrm Blood: After the first Wyrm Bait draft, I realised the characters and background – an online role-playing game – could support a series.  I intend to write the first draft of Wyrm Blood for NaNoWriMo in November ( and so I have outlined the plot and added to the cast.  Some months ago a short phrase came to me and I honed it until I had an opening for some story. That will now be Wyrm Blood and one of the characters will be my second POV in Wyrm Bait. Working on the characters also fed into the first of the intended Wyrm series and added new dimensions throughout.

Card from the Japanese game obake karuta, c. e...

Card from the Japanese game obake karuta, c. early 19th century. Each card features a monster from Japanese mythology and a character from the hiragana syllabary. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

MonSter: Our crossroads is not on an English or Irish lane that takes us back to the beginning.  Typing this blog has answered some of my questions and brought resolve into my plans.  There is one turning left and that is where the MonSter lives.  MS causes pain, exhaustion, headaches, spasms, gravity checks and as a result restricts my life.  If I choose the path of an agent and a publisher, I can envisage problems coping when exhaustion is an underlying concern.  How do I get to meetings, especially in London, when my mobility is a wheelchair?  What happens when I have to make verbal sense yet speaking or reading aloud is a problem?  I know that other disabled people cope and as the Paralympics draw to a close nearby I see what is possible.

However MS limits my work schedule so I make choices.  If I read all the Blogs I subscribe too, my writing time is cut short.  If I work on a book then I haven’t time to Blog. If I find time to write a Blog then editing is postponed. If the MonSter decides to run amok then I have to sleep or scream until I can re-emerge or escape into Middle Earth. It’s all about priorities and juggling but the MonSter can be managed, but not tamed, as long as I don’t overdo it and pace myself.

So if I don’t post for a few weeks, apologies. But please know that I am still writing or reading something and one day I will be back here.

Until then good writing & reading from The Silver Scribbler.