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Come back, no sod off…no but come back…

Gosh, it has been busy. I thought working full time, writing and having four dogs was hard but I don’t think I have ever been busier since leaving work. It’s been strange too, a really weird few months that has made me question a whole ton of stuff.

You see, I have a relentless nature. I focus on something, work out how to get there and then go, and I don’t stop until either my head falls off, my eyes start bleeding or I collapse in a puddle of my own piss. I had been working on The Undead for 4 years. It’s become the best-selling of its genre in the country. That in itself was an achievement but it wasn’t enough. I adore The Undead, I love it, I love writing it and I’m invested in the series, the characters, the stories and the world.

But I still wanted more. I wanted to be published by a certain publisher. I couldn’t say it before as it could have hampered negotiations but I think the truth, as ugly as it can be, is always the right thing. This particular publisher had given very positive feedback on The Undead. They loved it. They loved my work but just not the zombie genre. A suggestion was made to write new material so fuck it, that’s what i did. After post-apoc, my favourite genre is sci-fi. Low Tech, character driven concept sci-fi. I also love history so obviously time travel was the way to go. I wrote the time travel book for that publisher, I tweaked it, re-wrote it, tweaked, polished and worked on it until finally it was at a standard we felt comfortable for it to be shown to the publisher (without them knowing it was actually written for them).

I was shitting myself at that time, and it took so long for them to read it and come back. The first feedback was very strong. They loved it but as I soon learned, one person within a publisher lovin’ a book ain’t good enough. It has to go through stages and processes until finally they came back and said yes, we love it, how about a two-book deal. I was ecstatic. This was fantastic. The publisher then said “how does Rich feel about going through the editorial process””. There was some concern that because I had such a strong self-publishing background I might find it hard to work within the “editorial process”. I said nah, it’s cool, fuck it, I’ll do it, sign me up!

The contracts were sorted, that took time, the finite stuff was deliberated over, that took more time. I left work in March, wrote Blood on the Floor and then started working on The Undead Day Twenty while all this was going on. It was great. I had free-time and The Undead is growing all the time. There was more reader engagement than ever before, plus the series is doing really well on Audible so that meant engaging with a new audience of listeners in addition to readers. It was wonderful. Blood on the Floor went to number one in three charts. Amazon did a promotion on The First Seven Days which took it to within the top twenty of Kindle. The top twenty from something like 4 million books! These were the best days ever.

Then the contracts were signed and the “editorial process” began. My ego told me it would be okay. That bullish idiotic attitude of mine told me we’d piss it easily. So I charged on like a fuckwit going stomp stomp rarrrr and fuck me…oh my days…just wtf???
It is the one of the hardest things I have ever done. Seriously. I kinda knew the editorial process was a method of working on the book to get it polished and strengthened and I was really looking forward to it. All my processes within self-publishing were made-up as I went along. I wrote a book, the pre-readers said what they did / didn’t like and I changed it then put it out. How could it be any different?

It is not what I thought it was. It is wholly different. The publisher assigned an editor to work with me. The editor is an industry expert in sci-fi, English and literature. The man is a guru of books. He is Godlike in his knowledge and wisdom and the attention to detail given thereafter is molecular. It is staggeringly detailed. Every word, every line, every paragraph, every page, every chapter is analysed. Characters, character motivations, scene setting, direction, dialogue, the words used within dialogue. It is stunning the level these people operate at. It blew my socks off. I thought I knew what I was doing. I’d self-published and done okay but my ego is taking a mighty battering. Don’t get me wrong, that is a good thing. It’s made me think of things I would never have previously considered and the learning curve is steeper than a steep thing going uphill.

I write in a combination of first and third person present tense…as in it is happening now. I love that immediacy and sense of urgency. They suggested third person past tense. I tried it but my skills are pants in that area. I can do it but it takes time due to being so unfamiliar. So we trialled different perspectives, first person / third, past, present, all third, all present. Lots of chapters were re-written just to get that right. Then, once the perspective was chosen, the whole of the book had to be re-written in that style. The deadlines were tight too. This is a big company and I wasn’t going to start pissing about and miss the opportunity so it was head down and crack on with it.

I’d heard writers say before that the book you write is not the book that is published and I could never understand it. Now I do. Although to be open and honest, there is a huge amount of creative freedom given. But then these people are experts at what they do. They have the money, they can do marketing and advertising, they can appoint Godlike book guru’s who seriously know their shit. So the book I wrote is not the book that will be published. The story is the same, the characters, the generalised plot but how the story is told is completely different. It’s a fascinating thing and I’m still going through it now. We’re still in that process. There are bitter pills to swallow when the stuff you think you are good at is challenged, there is praise and there is criticism. The publisher had a few things they would not budge on. My level of graphic violence being one of them. It had to be toned down, that was fair enough. The Undead is a horror series. It is sold as a horror series. The time travel book isn’t. Therefore the audiences are entirely different. There were a few other “strict” rules but surprisingly very few. The rest was all down to, well I guess you’d call it creative discussion.

While that was happening, the new Undead standalone was also underway with a different publisher and that process had to be gone through with them too. The same attention to detail. The same heightened state of focus. This is a new story from Day One with new characters. I’m itching for it to be released. I saw the cover a week or so ago and it’s bloody brilliant.

So while I was head down editing and learning, and trying to pick the pieces of my shattered ego from the floor, The Undead was continuing to grow, and that has also been a very surreal and difficult period.
I gave up working to focus on writing. I wanted to play with The Undead. Write more stories, engage with readers and enjoy the thing I had worked so hard on. I had ideas for loads of different things. A Facebook group called The Living Army was started by readers and that is growing all the time. I won a US based competition too. The Zombie Book of the Month, which is a very big deal within the zombie genre. Mark Tufo and Armand Rosamillia have both won it, so has the creator of The Walking Dead – so to gain such a thing was fantastic.
The downside was, with the editing, I was back to the problem I had in the first place when I was working. I didn’t have the time to do anything with these things. That Zombie Book of the Month site gave me a month worth of promotion to a largely US audience of over 5000 members. I couldn’t turn that down but then I didn’t have the time to play. The lady who started The Living Army site took it on for me and is currently running promotions (thank you, you are a saviour).

The Undead captures people imaginations. It’s a big series and I have loads of people contacting me with all manner of proposals, suggestions and ideas from podcasts, emblems, video games, charity engagements, newsletters, books, offers to co-write, requests for writers to write in that world, character interviews, characters from The Undead to be used in other material and so on. It’s been fantastic and just uber staggeringly nice but fuck a duck I had to focus on the time travel book. Deadlines were looming. I was waking up to a dozen messages with proposals some days and each one required a full conversation. I had someone message me telling me to let them know, in advance, when Day Twenty was being released so they could tie in with The Undead thing they were working on, that I had no idea about. No idea at all.
In the end I had to ask people to stop contacting me for a bit which is something I never thought I would do. The bad side to that was that a load of stuff got started that I couldn’t catch up with. Then it started to feel like The Undead was running away from me. Things were popping up relating to The Undead saying they were endorsed. I had no idea what I had said yes to or what I had endorsed. It was so strange, it still is so strange.
The Undead has been a small thing really. A teeny weeny project that I have worked on everyday for over 4 years. I put every spare minute and penny into it. Now it’s like it’s all grown up and sodding off to travel the world while waving two fingers at me standing in the door looking forlorn and worried.
It’s like it’s become a community owned project where the collective run it. Again, with the brutality of honesty which is sometimes very uncomfortable, there have been times when I have wanted to tell people to stop and to leave it alone….um, that’s mine…I made that. Can I have it back please? But then that felt petty and selfish. It felt child-like, like a kid throwing a strop cos the other boys and girls are playing with my toys. So I stayed quiet. Then more things happened with it and I tried to jump in and catch up but the next round of drafts started with the time travel book and another deadline and I lost any and all sense of anything (not that I had much to start with).
Now I don’t know half the things that are happening with it. I just cannot keep up. I get notifications and updates mentioning all sorts of things and it’s horrible not knowing what most of them are, but then it’s also a nice thing, a lovely thing. I always wanted The Undead to have a bigger audience. Howie’s story is important to me. The values within those stories are important. Do the right thing for the right reasons. Be brave and have values. Be loyal. Be decent. As trite and twee as they sound they mean something, and now more than ever in our fast changing world. There is conflict everywhere and even our news channels, the news channels in our Western democratic countries censor and tell us what they think we should know. So those values are important. Argh! But then I made it. It’s mine. Give it back. No, go on have it. Take it….actually sod off I want it back. Um, no sorry, you should have it. Conflicting? Yeah a bit.

But anywho, I went on a date which was a nice escape for a few hours.(click for new post)

If you have ideas for The Undead then great, but please don’t be offended if I don’t reply at the moment and also, any views, opinions or subject matter given by an individual is down to them and sod all to do with me. I just write books. If I endorse something then I will more than likely blog about it, or post, or mention it, or say something.

I’m gonna go edit until my I collapse in a puddle of my own piss. Sorry for the delay in Day Twenty, will be on it when I can.

Take care

RR Haywood

 

20 Comments
  • Andy Burton
    Posted at 13:19h, 11 June Reply

    Fuck the Books how did the date go Brother???

    • RR Haywood
      Posted at 13:33h, 11 June Reply

      click the link, opens a new page.

  • Sylvia Wright
    Posted at 13:33h, 11 June Reply

    Oh my who thought writing could be so stressful, I hope you manage to keep everything under control. It is your fault though for being such a terrific writer and having such a wicked, vivid imagination and the guts to start writing books. Keep up the good work Rich

  • Andy Burton
    Posted at 13:53h, 11 June Reply

    One day when all your hard work is done have to have a chin wag about the Whole Asperger’s thing ,I checked out the link .That poor spider mind how will he ever get a coffee date

  • M. L. Doyle
    Posted at 14:13h, 11 June Reply

    Brilliant post. As a member of The Living Army, I can see how demands of fans can turn into stressful situations. I hope you can get to a point where you’re not having to ASK for your story back, but demand it. It’s yours, it’s brilliant and no one else should be able to do things with it you don’t approve.

    Now, off to click on the link to the date post! 🙂

  • Cathy faughnan
    Posted at 14:19h, 11 June Reply

    I love your books,that’s all except well done you.

  • Leon Thomas
    Posted at 14:20h, 11 June Reply

    I will attest to the fact that people become possessive over your work. I am one of those people. Your work speaks to me on a level I have only encountered with a few authors over my many years. You have been astounding me with the persistently better writing. Every Day in The Undead series is consistently better than the previous and I thought Day One was Awesome. If you truly feel the process they have got you going through is making your writing better, I and the rest of the world, are going to be blessed.

    Whenever YOU are ready Mr Haywood.
    We’ll be waiting.

  • Kris
    Posted at 15:14h, 11 June Reply

    S’fuckt up init bruv.

  • Richard moore
    Posted at 15:56h, 11 June Reply

    The Living Army will back you all the boss. We’ll wait as lond as needed.

  • Shaz
    Posted at 16:29h, 11 June Reply

    Awwww Richard! If it gets too much tell them to give it back and keep it! We like, no we love, the way you do things! You keep it real and thats what we enjoy so much! xx

  • Paula dear
    Posted at 16:51h, 11 June Reply

    Firstly well done for getting your publisher . Secondly…..how exciting for a new genre time travel book! Thirdly…..Date!!!?? You go Richard! Hope it went well.x lastly. …I think you’ve become a victim of your own success! Must be a great feeling but also like you don’t belong to yourself anymore. Obviously fans done realise how much other stuff you have on the go and so they (me included! ) just want more of your work.somehow you have to keep grounded and just a line to the living army every now and again to let us know we art forgotten but also remind us not to tag you . The problem is that you’ve become part of the gang so i think we’ve learned to expect a comment from you every now and again. We’ve probably been selfish cos we want you all to ourselves.x lol.take care Richard and don’t burn out! You need a break too.x

  • Tasha Burkhalter
    Posted at 19:33h, 11 June Reply

    Make a spread sheet Richard and set priorities, dates and time lines. Color code them. If the ones with no dates, including the undead, ( making pouting faces right now) push them out until the ones with the do it now dates are done first. I’m sure there is some trust worthy living amy member that can help set up an effective speadsheet that you can just plug in your data, and alert you for tasks. You can even have the undead suggestions and issues listed on the speadsheet to keep up with responces. From a caring living army member. We want to help not hinder in any way.

  • Tonya Burkhalter
    Posted at 19:37h, 11 June Reply

    Finish the Time Travel editing first, then come back to us. We will wait.

  • Andy Smith
    Posted at 20:01h, 11 June Reply

    Mate, The Undead is yours. If it was created by a committee it would lose what makes it special. So don’t feel bad about ignoring other people’s suggestions about it, even the Living Army’s… #feww

  • Angela
    Posted at 20:50h, 11 June Reply

    I love your books . Can’t wait for the next . I read 1-19 in one go one after the other. Totally blown away.
    Keep going your brilliant.

  • Potsy
    Posted at 22:11h, 11 June Reply

    H. You created this. It’s yours no one else’s. It’s fucking an amazing page. But it’s still yours and people forget that. You do this mister no one else. Don’t you dare question what you do. You rock Mr Haywood. Never ever question yourself x and a date ? Hmm saying nothing 🙂

  • Marc Moore
    Posted at 08:02h, 12 June Reply

    Morning boss.
    I’m always uber busy on a Saturday because of work, so as much as I wanted to comment on this yesterday I just couldn’t find the time, sorry.
    I knew things were frantic in Haywood towers but wow you’re riding the crazy train.
    The Living Army group is your fan-page & we are your loyal minions.
    Tell us to shut up, leave you alone , join in, sign up, stand up, vote , stand shoulder to shoulder or face down a horde, we are there for you, or not , whatever you need.
    We can’t wait for your new books & we are all waiting patiently, wallets & purses in hand.
    Good luck with everything boss, if I can help let me know.

  • Allie
    Posted at 21:26h, 14 June Reply

    You made this Richard and the passion you have for it shines through in the story and the characters.Nobody can take that even if it feels like it at times. If you were my teenage daughters i’d advise pulling back a bit from social media. If you were my colleague i’d advise you don’t have to respond to every email, just go make coffee ffs.. Best of luck for all your projects, I look forward to them all. Stay strong and see where this takes you 🙂

    btw i got a £50 amazon voucher from my well known gas supplier to change tariff ages ago. I bought 1-14 in paperback. My husbands like what? the ones you bought on Kindle. Eh yeah pal i need copies for the bookshelf duh…

  • Dave
    Posted at 12:38h, 24 June Reply

    Have adored the Undead for years now, I drop whatever i’m reading whenever a new book arrives (although i do try and time it right) have also really enjoyed the Second Reality and Mike Humber books as well, and frankly i put it down to your style of writing, while i may occasionally groan at spelling mistakes or off tense (closet grammar nazi i know) i wouldn’t change a thing, if you can get published that would be amazing, even with kindle unlimited i still pay for your books and would love to be able to buy proper editions but please don’t change your writing style, it’s why i love them, few can make me laugh, cry and literally start growling out loud in public when it looks like someone may die or get hurt, or is being wronged etc ( i read in the pub and on buses a lot) I’m as you term it a bit socially autistic too so maybe it’s just that your style speaks to my way of thinking but from what i read across the web i think either you’ve got a lot of socially autistic fans or your actually a lot more on the pulse of peoples thoughts than you may realise!

  • Margo
    Posted at 04:28h, 06 July Reply

    Wow, I wasn’t expecting to read this I feel guilty. I just finished day 14 from Audible for the third time and was going to ask when I could expect day 15-18. But I’ll just go back and start over. You do what you gotta get done. I hope to be here when they are available.

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