How to write a (crime) novel #9

In previous parts of this series of blogs I have looked at

  • Getting started.
  • Characterisation.
  • Plotting – setting clues in plain sight.
  • Structure.
  • Settings.
  • Finding the ‘shadow’ side as part of characterisation.
  • The crime genre as a vehicle for asking questions about our society.

Hopefully you have found something useful and of interest in each part. However, in the end, the only real way to write any type of novel is to write, read, write, read, write, get some decent feedback and write some more.

Unless we are lucky enough to have a literary agent or publisher interested in what we are writing, the hardest thing may be to stay motivated. For me, it’s about routine; being in love with the process and craft; and having supportive writing friends. Sometimes it hits me that, in all honesty, the only person who would care if I never wrote another word would be me – and that’s a difficult realisation to swallow. But I do care, because writing gives me such pleasure and at many levels keeps me sane.

If you have kept motivated and you have worked on your craft, it maybe that you now have 60,000 words you want to share with an audience through publication. There are currently two routes. The traditional, find a literary agent, or ‘indie’ publish. You will find much advice on ‘indie’ publishing on my blog. However, I have said little about the traditional route.

In the UK, for fiction, it is generally through a literary agent, as publishers won’t look at unsolicited manuscripts. On the other hand, some will have ‘open submissions’, so it’s worth looking out for them. In my opinion, as well as working hard, having some talent and shed-loads of luck, to go down the traditional route you also have to be very strategic.

When I started, thirty years ago, it was about researching the right lit agent for your genre. It’s art-of-breathing-covergone way beyond that. You have to be tuned into what’s going on in the literary word, building yourself an author platform, entering competitions, networking,… I have come to the recent conclusion that the only way to get a literary agent these days is to go on one of the very expensive courses they have begun to run.

I am indie publishing for the third time. The Art of Breathing, Scarborough Mysteries #3, has been written, copyedited, proofread and formatted for a local print run, for createspace and for Kindle. All the Scarborough Mysteries have swanky new covers. And I am now in the throes of organising a marketing campaign for the launch date of October 31st. Having paid a professional copyeditor, proofreader and designer for my covers, there is no way I will make any money back on sales. But I am happy to do this as I am very, very proud of my novel series.

Which would you choose: traditional or indie? And why? If traditional, do you have any tips to pass on?




2 thoughts on “How to write a (crime) novel #9

  1. alanparkinsonauthor

    I’ve self-published two novels which have done reasonably well although I made every mistake possible with the first one.
    I’ve been asked to do a self publishing workshop at the Sunderland Fesitval of Literature and Creative Writing next month so I must be doing ok. I’m in the process of putting the workshop together and it brings into focus how much work is involved.
    With this in mind I have started looking for an agent for my third novel but again, this is a lot of hard work.
    Whichever route you choose, you absolutely have to make it the best it can possibly be before it goes out.
    Understanding what you want out of the process is also important.
    Whatever option you take, chances are you won’t get rich but getting the paperback copy of your novel in your hand for the first time makes it all worthwhile.


    1. Kate Evans Post author

      Thanks for your comments Alan & well done you on getting the workshop at the Sunderland festival. I have certainly found doing workshops, talks & events good ways of connecting with readers (& selling books). I’ve a workshop at the Beverley Lit Fest. Good luck with everything & keep in touch!

      Liked by 1 person


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