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  • Max Henry

Pre-Release Wind Down

My post is a little late, but for good reason: I've been working my ass off getting Good Girls ready for publication and out to early reviewers.


So, as promised, here is the first nuts and bolts post. What have I done, and what will I do, to launch this as best as I can with next-to-no budget whatsoever? (There'll be a couple of posts because it became rather evident in writing this I have a lot to say LOL)


First off, let's rewind a little to when this project kicked off in the grey globules of my brain: April. After a long dry spell, I was finally ready to get back into the swing of reading, but because my mindset was still a little icky post last year's issues, I didn't feel like reading my normal failsafe of dark and twisted romance.


So, I defaulted to my next love: new adult. Now, not long before this, the niche genre of young adult bully romances had sparked into what is now a sprawling wildfire. I picked up one of the top recommendations at the time based on the beautiful cover and the catchy blurb, and I tucked in to see how exactly people could write bullies without glorifying what is fast becoming a very real, very serious issue for our youngsters in the age of social media. [Spoiler alert: after reading a few, most people don't point out how fucking wrong violence and harassment is, and instead glorify it as something to aspire to when the main hero or heroine uses aforementioned violence etc to exact revenge].


Anywho - I LOVE the genre. I love how it reminds me of my own tumultuous years at high school, of the epic highs and shitty lows I experienced, and of that time in my life when I honestly felt like my future was long and guaranteed and it was truly my job to make as many stupid mistakes as I could in the name of living my life to the fullest.


Ahhh. Weren't those the days ...


BUT (there's always a but with me 😋) I wanted to explore a story where the main character doesn't get away with all manner of illegal things just because they "have money", and where they get justice in a more admirable way than ridiculing and abusing the bully until they feel the same pain and misery as the MC did.


I wanted to explore how a person could bring their tormentor to their knees WITHOUT having to resort to the same mentally-scaring and dangerous behaviour.


✨ Cue the spark for Arcadia Anarchists.


Bully romance is a hot genre right now. I'm an author who's trying to rebuild her platform. Seemed like logic that I should ride on that wave, right? I thought so too.


Only, I've never been one to "copy" what other authors/stories do. I add my own twist. And with Arcadia High, I knew I didn't want to set it in the A-typical scene of the genre: the upper-class city suburbs. I don't enjoy writing billionaires and money (probably because I don't know enough about that lifestyle). I like to write what I know and what spoke to me when I was a teenager/young adult.


I write about the tough boys with a soft gooey centre. The guy who, to his peers, is a cruel and fierce adversary. But who, to me, shows the insecure kid beneath it all. I wanted small town friendship, rural freedom, and to see what would happen if the two worlds (city and country) were to collide.


I knew I couldn't fit it all in one book, which is fine. Series are more marketable. You have more options on how to sell it, how to package it, and how to release it to build momentum.


Here's the catch though.


I knew that if I was to dive into this project with the main objective of riding a trend wave, then I'd need to write fast. :enter panic mode: I haven't written fast in, like, forever! Shit - last time I wrote fast I wound myself into a goddamn breakdown.


In retrospect, I think it was good that I came up with the plan to do this series prior to Amplifier releasing. That meant instead of worrying myself stupid over whether or not I should attempt this, I had another book to focus on. I could take breaks from each by bouncing between the two.


HOW DID I PLAN ARCADIA HIGH ANARCHISTS?

  1. I decided on the setting, the theme, and the overall story arc. By getting a grounding for the books, it made coming up with a series name, titles, and an overall look a lot easier. There's no point coming up with cool sounding titles and finding a pretty cover image only to then realise it doesn't fit the feel of your book.

  2. I created the covers. Now, this may be different for you, but I like to write to a cover. My covers all reflect the story inside, and when I have one made I feel as though the book is that much more real. It gives me added motivation to finish the project because each time I see the cover I get excited. Granted, this is easier for me because I design my own. If I want to tinker with it or change something when the book is complete, I can.

  3. I made the series outline. What better excuse to check out the new Starbucks in our area, huh? I packed up my notebook and pens, and headed out. And after an hour, I had a brief outline mapped for all four books, which reinforced - and worked out the kinks in - my plot. (If you're unsure about how to do a brief 3-4 page outline, then I highly recommend checking out Romancing the Beat by Gwen Hayes. It makes working out the key points super simple.)

  4. I set a writing schedule. Nothing fancy. I used a basic week-to-view planner from Big W that I had on hand and worked out how long it would take me at my average word count of 3-4k per day, five days a week. Awesomely, I mapped out that I can get each book (averaging 70k) written and ready to publish within a month. Again, probably a little easier since I don't outsource much. I do my own formatting, and make all my own graphics too.

  5. I wrote the damn book. Focusing on the whole project was an instant recipe for stress. So, I focused on my tasks for that day and that day only. I need to write 3k? Sure. Oh, and I need to get groceries on Friday, which will take up most of my writing time while the kids are at school. No problem. Got 4.5k today and if I do 4k or thereabouts for the next two days then Friday is my free day. It actually worked out that I wrote four days a week, leaving one day for me to use when I just really wasn't feeling it. Because let's face it - we have those days. As much as I want to wake up every damn day feeling amazing and go-getter ... it just don't happen like that, gurlfraaand.

  6. I took care of the machine. I wrote Good Girls in 23 days. BUT - I actually only wrote for 17 of those. Yep. I took weekends off (except for the last one). And I had days where I only managed 1k and I just was not in the right headspace for the story. Hell. One day I even took a damn bath because I felt as though that's what my body needed. I soaked, and then I played Minecraft for an hour before school pick up. And you know what? It worked. It worked wonders because I allowed myself time to rest and recharge the battery. You can't skip the self-care part of business. I don't care what anyone says about how they're "just pushing through" and feel great. Nope. Sorry. An entire healthcare system doesn't create the concept of mental-wellness without it being at least a little bit on the money, hey. Drink your water. Move. Feed the well. Get eight hours sleep. And eat well. It's that simple.


What have I learned, then?


That I need to perhaps write for 20 days, not 17, and spread the load a little better 😝 I still ended up needing 5k a day for the last four days, which bled into my weekend, and meant I worked 7? maybe 8? days without a break. Doesn't sound like much, I know, but the constant hustle and wind, wind, wind, coiled me up like a spring and I ended up having one of the worst days mentally I have for a few months. Hence the mini-detoxes I've taken the last two days from social media and being online in general to uncoil that spring by spending time with the kids.


For me - at least after the shitstorm I went through last year - those low days aren't as tolerable as they used to be. It still triggers too many ultra-negative thought patterns that, folks, aren't much fun. So, I need to be wary of that and space my work a little better.


BUT (there's that critter again) I also learned what epic shit I can do when I set my mind to it. Dudes, I wrote, designed, and uploaded before deadline a WHOLE NEW BOOK WITHIN A MONTH. This one a month until September plan I have? It actually looks pretty damn do-able.


June was my most productive month in almost two years. My income over DOUBLED from the month before. I set aside my worries and doubts and I just GOT THE SHIT DONE. Worry about the result when I get to the result. Not back at the beginning ... or while I hang out the washing ... or at 11P.M. when I just can't get to sleep. Nope. Do the work, and trust the results will follow.


How will Good Girls do? I have NO idea. I'll share more on what I've done marketing wise etc next post. I have hopes for this series, sure. But I don't place expectations on it, because that just sets you up for heartache if you don't quite reach them.


Nuh-uh. I know what I aim for, but I'll also be happy with whatever comes from this release. You know why?


Because Good Girls?


It's merely one more block in my castle.



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