Susan Grossey

An early bird reads the Worm

In my last post I told you that I had – with some misgivings – passed my draft of “Worm in the Blossom” to my husband.  He was under strict instructions to Be Honest, but of course his primary concern is not book sales but marital harmony.  (Well, his bicycles really come first, then England’s performance in the rugby World Cup, but then marital harmony.  Book sales are a long way down the list.)  That said, he has done sterling work and handed back a manuscript with some excellent comments and the eagle-eyed spotting of a few typos.  (He also questioned my spelling of “exhilarated”, but that’s all resolved.)

So what did he think?  Well, since Roy (the beta reader) said that he thought “Worm” was a bit plodding and lacking in suspense, I had tried to ginger it up a bit – sometimes just splitting a chapter so that the first half ended on an uncertainty was enough.  But I did do bigger things too, and Paul (husband) said he thought this new version “rollicked” along (he’s an engineer – and can’t even spell exhilarated).  He even said that he thought the ending was perhaps too shocking, so I’m going to look at that again – he thinks maybe a neatening epilogue might help.  But it is a HUGE relief to know that he liked it.  My big question to him was: “Is this third volume going to harm or help the earlier ones?”, and he was of the view that the characterisation is improving all the time, and the plot itself is gripping, so that will do.  Next steps: final edits on Saturday, formatting on Sunday, cover template to cover designer on Monday, holiday on Tuesday.

As I promised myself I would be honest in this blog, I should say that I have been having something of a Plank-ish wobble.  Ages ago I decided that there would be a series of seven Plank novels, and indeed I have decided the plot topic for each of them.  But this third one has been quite a stressful experience, and at times I have wondered about the wisdom of committing to four more years like this.  I love writing the books, but I should not lose sight of the fact that I am trying to make a commercial success of it – not a Rowling success, of course, but still, enough sales to not have to feel embarrassed when people ask.  And in the past month I have sold precisely two copies each of “Fatal Forgery” and “The Man in the Canary Waistcoat” – and perhaps one or two in the bookshops.  So altogether my authorly earnings this month are probably about a tenner.  It’s honestly not about the money – but the money is how we measure whether people are recommending the books to friends, or picking up the books, reading the blurbs and liking them enough to buy them, or reading the Amazon samples and wanting to know more.  And perhaps Plank just isn’t there.  But I’m a stubborn sort, and now that I’ve said there will be seven books, seven books there will be.


  1. Debbie Young Avatar
    Debbie Young

    Hi Susan! Firstly, don’t worry about summertime sales – the general feeling within the Alliance of Independent Authors (whose author advice blog I edit) is that sales always slump at this time of year (mine have too) and pick up after the holiday season. Also, sales seem to improve steadily once you have three books or more on sale, and then again after each extra book – so you’re approaching a critical moment, just keep going and things will get better! Having enjoyed books 1 and 2, I have every faith in 3, and I’m sure there are plenty of readers out there who are looking forward to the rest in the series as much as I am.

    My other tip is to try using more beta readers. I’ve just put my next collection of short stories, “Marry in Haste”, out to about 8 of them, almost all found via putting a shout out on my author FB page. (I also have a couple of regulars whose books I beta read too – we’ve just clicked and it’s a great mutual service.) That way you get more people giving you positive feedback about the things they like, of which I am sure there will be plenty – you’ll also get more ideas on how to make it the best book you can be. I for one would be happy to be a beta reader for you if you’d like me to. It’s a nervewracking process to put it out there, but I wouldn’t NOT do it now, as I know my books are always the better for it. I also like feeling I’ve helped other authors when I’m a beta for them. (They don’t all have to be authors, btw.)

    So keep going – these ups and downs in sales and emotions are perfectly normal, and you’re doing a great job!

    Best wishes

    1. ihatemoneylaundering Avatar

      Hi Debbie
      How kind of you to write to encourage me! I didn’t know that about the third book, so maybe the “Worm” will be my magic charm – it’s certainly worth trying. And just knowing that you are looking forward to reading it has given me a real fillip.
      And I think you’re right about using more beta readers – authors and non-authors alike. Roy is fantastic, but it’s quite a responsibility for him, and I’m sure he’d be happier sharing the load. I’m going to take your advice on that for “Plank 4” – and have already signed you up for beta reading duty, so thank you.
      I’m very lucky to have such supportive readers.
      Best wishes from Susan

  2. Janis Pegrum Smith Avatar
    Janis Pegrum Smith
  3. Isabel A. Spradlin Avatar
    Isabel A. Spradlin

    I loved this post! Vulnerable (though not in that way that makes me want to politely look away) and determined and just kind of fun overall. Also, I’m of the stubborn sort myself so it resonates. Also, Debbie Young’s reply was so generous! Thank you both for inspiring this often-wobbling author! It’s so nice to know real camaraderie still exists.

    1. ihatemoneylaundering Avatar

      Hello Isabel – lovely to hear from you. I’m glad that you enjoyed the post; when I started this blog I vowed to myself to be honest about my writing, as it would only be of interest/help to other writers if I told the truth about it all. Usually it’s good – as my husband keeps reminding me, I’m supposed to be doing this because it’s fun… – but sometimes it does become a bit overwhelming. And then, like you, I wobble! Please do keep tuning in – it’s a good antidote to the solitary life of an author.
      Best wishes from Susan

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