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.