Jumping for joy

I've just had to provide an "evidence of trading activity" report to the Department Of Work And Pensions (for boring reasons I won't go into). Generally the required evidence is geared towards businesses such as shops with weekly accounts; it's very different for a writer because it takes c.12 months to write a novel, then further time for sales to begin, so providing reports over a period of a few weeks may not show lots of units shifted! Still, this request (which feels like "Justify yourself!") is a good way of making me look at my activity recently. What have I done?

Obviously, some writing. Or, in many cases, research and planning preparatory to writing. When I have a pile of notes for a story I have to sort them out before I can start writing: make decisions, and get rid of contradictory ideas written at different times. That way I can be clear about what I need to write to fit into a cohesive whole. So the writing and planning done could be potential evidence.

Because of where I am - still doing publicity for one work while planning the next - it means I've been doing lots of marketing work in order to drum up reviews, sales and interest. This is just a selection of what I've done, in a random order, but it gives you a flavour of this kind of task. Any item in the list will have taken a lot longer to do than to write out as a bullet point!

  • Contributed to an article about creative writing courses for Welsh Coastal Life Magazine.
  • Wrote a guest blog post for a themed week on someone else's site (scheduled for 12th October).
  • Set up promotions on Story Cartel (gathers reviews for your books) for two of my novels; also a giveaway on Goodreads.
  • Contacted relevant sources such as music magazines to seek reviews for my works. Arranged for potential reviews of my most recent novel in some magazines and newspapers.
  • Used grant funding to apply for a writing course with the Arvon Foundation.
  • Bought a professional Book Design Template as part of revamping the interiors of my past and future works.
  • Set up a business account with Ingram Spark for them to be a future distributor for my novels.
  • Contacted people, places and organisations mentioned in my last novel for potential publicity tie-ins; did the same via Twitter and Facebook.
  • Created various Listopia lists on Goodreads which include my novels, to aid discoverability.
  • Added lots of content to this blog (and shared it with Facebook and Twitter).
  • Registered for Class 2 National Insurance contributions.
  • Had a short story published in a new collection of Welsh writers – gave a reading at an arts centre launch event.
  • A dribble of revenue receipts from book sales.
  • Also garnered some new reviews for my books: 
"All good books have a magic moment - not the one that grabs you, that's the job of covers and blurbs, but the moment that hooks you in and turns a 1 chapter fling into a full-on commitment. 2000 Tunes - Karl Drinkwater's lovesong to Manchester, music and the madness of families - did that with a simple line about Manchester's iconic music venue The Hacienda: "It had been a surprisingly small place compared to its size in his memory."  It was like someone had defined far too many of my conversations since 1982. When he followed that with a description of Manchester that captured the city's accent and its crazy contradictions and echoed the musical beat that runs through the novel -  "Carrier bags and kicked-in teeth, short skirts in winter, tall tales with bitter, a brew and a lager, shaved heads and shopping on red brick and grit, endless suburb houses, long roads and alleys, gorillas and galleries, Salford scallies"  - this music fan's soul was caught. Drinkwater positions the novel as being about music - the famous Madchester sound - and it is, but it is much more than that. This is a novel about families and how they trap, or save, you; it's also about relationships and the inarticulate nature of love. Music-obsessed Mark Hopton and Welsh Valley girl-made-good Samantha are trying to create lives that will at least let them glimpse the stars - Drinkwater lets them stumble and doesn't accept cliched pathways, his characters are far too real for that. I couldn't put it down, I want to know what happens next - if there really is a light that never goes out..."
Catherine Hokin. (26th August 2015)

"Cold Fusion 2000, by Karl Drinkwater, is a book that must be read to the end. It is a story of love, loss and moving on. As with a Rubik’s cube, it is not clear how the puzzle satisfies until the final few twists re-establish order. [...] To talk more of how the plot develops would be to give spoilers. It really is a book where everything happens for a reason. [...] This is a clever book that warns against allowing your heart to be so crushed it becomes a black hole, and how love does not always follow the rules."
Neverimitate. (25th September 2015)

"Wow ... If you love the Big Bang show, then you'll love this story. Watch out for Lucy as she's a kicker and not at all who... Never mind as that would spoil everything. This is a great love story where two lonely souls find each other. This is one to treasure and read again and again. There are no wasted words here."
Full review. (16th August 2015)

"I truly loved this book. It reminded me of the feeling I got reading The Exorcist and The Omen for the first time years ago. It was straight up scary [...]. I think the atmosphere of the island gave me the largest sense of dread. Needless to say, Visit Wales would have a hard sell with me after reading this book. I hesitate to say more because the story is most effective with no knowledge of the plot ahead of time. I'm looking forward to reading more by this author."
Full review. (20th September 2015)

So I've been busier than I realised when I began this list!