Call it a gift, or call it a curse, but one of the hardest parts of being a writer is deciding which book idea to pursue. Simply having too many ideas!
It's been a year since I published Gabriel's Game, Part 2: The Black Knight - marking the end of a journey to write the Sheridan and Blake books, that started in 2009.
A combination of factors has led to my books dropping off the radar and the worst sales since I published The Bronze Box in 2013.
My reasons (or excuses) for being rubbish at selling books in 2017:
- Being too busy with my business, and focusing my energy on writing the 'Write Your Way to Success' online course for business bloggers
- Procrastinating over writing 'Finding the Scream', and losing the mojo to commit it to paper, has meant I've not released anything new since the 4 booksin 1 Sheridan and Blake boxset last year
- Amazon's algorithms have changed to favour paid advertisers. Organic reach for books is more and more difficult to achieve without some serious work at it.
- Just not doing enough to market my books and maintain consistent sales
- Psychologically, I left Sheridan and Blake behind when I finished the series, I'm mentally in other book ideas...
...And here's the rub - I've got 5 ideas now for books to spin off from the series.
Each time I have a new idea, that one seems like the one I should pursue, then another one pops into my brain and the previous one gets side-lined.
I always say to the clients I coach, "The hardest part of writing is getting started."
If only I could learn to follow my own advice?
I wrote on Linked In about 'Taming The Ideas Junkie' - how to organise your ideas and make decisions.
However, I can do all the filtering I like, the fact remains, that whichever book idea I pursue next, it will involve me dedicating the next few months of my life to writing a little every day.
At which point, it becomes an issue of prioritisation and time management.
Or maybe I just need a little help deciding?
So, here are my 5 book ideas, tell me which one you like:
1) Finding the Scream
When a cache of art stolen by the Nazi’s is uncovered in an abandoned mine in Austria, Katarina Orlov is called in to investigate. She enlists the help of a former colleague from The Agency - Tom Sheridan - who is now an art dealer. Amongst the cache is a missing version of Edvard Munch’s ‘The Scream’. When Tom and Kat walk into an ambush, they must find the art before it's sold into the black market. But first Kat must face the demons from her past if she wants to find The Scream
I've already written portions of this, but I don't know where the story will go or how it will end. It’s proving to be a struggle.
2) The Ruining
To break a man, you must take from him that which he loves the most; to ruin a man, you must make him believe it's his fault.
Art dealer and former spy Tom Sheridan’s wife has been kidnapped. The ransom? To step into the darkness of his past and commit a terrible crime, or his wife will die.
This idea gives me chills, and scenes from it are vivid in my mind’s eye. Any excuse to get Tom Sheridan at his flawed hero best again. All I've written so far are some notes and scraps of narrative, I don’t know what the crime is Tom is asked to commit yet, or why the kidnappers need him to do it.
3) The Professor's Legacy
His reputation on the line, his marriage on the rocks, his life's work about to be ripped from beneath him, Dr David Thornton is a desperate man. He accepts an anonymous donation, no questions asked, to fund the archaeological dig he's dedicated his career to, but there's a catch; he must retrieve an artefact from the site, a mysterious Bronze Box and deliver it to his benefactor. When his conscience gets the better of him, Professor Thornton wants to know why this box is so important. But how much will he sacrifice to find the truth?
This is a prequal to the Bronze Box. Fans of the book will know the fate of Dr David Thornton, but fans of the series will want to learn more about why. So far this is just a concept, with a few notes. It could potentially be a novella, and much of the plot is already established from the Sheridan and Blake series. I just need to pull it together and work out the connections.
The next 2 ideas are both part of the Katarina Orlov series. It doesn't matter what order I write these in, although the stories all star Katarina, each will be a stand alone book.
4) Finding the Seeker
Freelance seeker, Katarina Orlov, is sent deep into the rainforests of central America to retrieve an ancient Mayan artefact stolen from the Natural History Museum in Mexico City. She unwittingly attracts the attention of a Mexican drug cartel, who believe she is in possession of a shipment of cocaine bound for LA. The cartel kidnap Kat’s daughter, Elly, as leverage. Katarina must find and deliver the drugs to the cartel by the deadline or Elly dies.
Again, none of this is written yet. All I have is the concept, notes and a clear idea of the characters involved. There will be a certain noir irreverence to this story, with the Mexican drug barons being comically, yet deliciously, evil.
5) Finding Revenge
Freelance seeker, Katarina Orlov, travels to Key West on the trail of a missing artefact that went down with a ship in the 18th century - a ship taken by pirates and renamed Revenge. But to solve the 200-year-old mystery of this ship, Kat must resist her own temptation to seek revenge.
This is just concept, but I love the idea of doing some research on piracy. With Bristol as my adoptive home, I'm fascinated by the piracy trade that was the dark underbelly in the history of the city. I'm also, unashamedly, inspired to write a pirate book by 'Black Sails'. I've no idea what the 'missing artefact' is at this point, or who Kat is seeking revenge over, but it could be a great caper of a story?