One of the top 20 authors in the UK! Cor blimey, how did that happen?

So apparently, I’m one of the top 20 authors on Amazon UK. Blimey, well there you go. Zombies and time travel eh?
What a thing and I’m grinning from ear to ear this morning. Feeling all bouncy and cheerful (but that could be from the coffee).
It did make me stop and think though, and I think it’s important to give it some perspective and reflect on what it took to get that.

I was rejected (at least twice) by every agency in London and ended up hiring a huge mobile billboard and zombie actors to get noticed before I finally signed with a wonderful agent. (Don’t do that, it nearly back-fired in spectacular fashion)
That was only the first step though. We then submitted The Undead to publishers, who all said no. They were all nice about it. You have to accept that while the act of creative writing is a craft, everything else is business.

One of the publishers was really positive and suggested new material – I then wrote Extracted and sent it through. They loved it but wanted a lot of changes. What followed was months of solid re-writes and rounds upon rounds of edits.
It started off with the commissioning editor saying what she wanted. For instance, the first edition of Extracted was written in first person present tense perspective from Ben Ryder – with third used when needed.
The commissioning editor wanted to see how the novel would look in third person past, and also in third person present.
That meant loads of sample chapters and big discussions to decide which way to go, plus more guidance, some changes to Safa, some tweaks here and there. Toning back the violence to appeal to a wider audience and beefing up certain aspects.
Then it goes into structural edits for three rounds, which focusses on the shape of the book. Then umpteen rounds of copy and line edits and proof-reads.
It’s a mammoth process and it feels like forever before the book is released, by which time I’m doing the same thing with Executed.

Meanwhile, The Undead has continued to grow and gain a fantastic readership, and it’s still self-published too, which means I have to do all the things a publisher would normally do. Artwork, marketing, adverts and learning tons of new skills, getting your head around photoshop, promo-clips, what works and what doesn’t. How FB adverts work. When to boost a post. Getting a decent website. How often should you blog? What about Twitter and Instagram? Plus of course, writing new material.

You get feedback thrown at you from all sides too, whether you want it or not. I can’t have a casual conversation most days now without being reviewed. My family even do it when we meet up. The good and the bad alike, but it’s part of the whole thing and again, you just have to accept it.

There’s also the dark side to it all with trolls, and that’s a very real and highly damaging aspect of the online world. You say the wrong thing, even one jokey comment and you will get trolled. If someone has a perceived slight they will go for you without mercy, and those grudges can fester.
People don’t realise they are doing it either. The internet isn’t real is it. It’s not tangible. You can’t walk into a shop and scream abuse and make threats to the manager without consequence, nor can you phone all of that manager’s friends or visit their houses to tell everyone what you think, but you can do all those things online and not give a shit to the anxiety you are causing the recipient. It’s got so bad sometimes I’ve had to call the police, and I am only a writer. I feel so very sorry for people on telly and in the mass-media spotlight. It’s bloody horrible.

Then of course comes the perpetual hope of landing a TV or movie deal. Extracted has had tons of interest from producers and studios. Some seriously big names too. It’s a fascinating world to peek into and see how they form decisions and what influences their thought processes, and with each new enquiring contact you can’t help but feel a rush and tense up with excitement. Then they say no and you just have to smile and shrug it off while thinking ah bugger, never mind, best have a brew and get back to writing.

Publicity is hard too. I’m really shy and I’ve been asked to do radio interviews, podcasts, talks, conventions and all manner of things but the thought of it makes my tummy go all squishy.

Aye up, the last few years has been a gruelling journey without doubt, and sometimes you can’t help but question it all – so hearing I’m in a nice list for something as changeable and fleeting as the top 20 authors on Amazon UK is fantastically lovely and gives a huge boost.
Writing for a living and for commercial success, in whatever form or however you measure that, is bloody hard work sometimes, but the good of it massively outweighs the bad, and the decent people will always shine brighter than the trolls.
The reason I say all of this is in case you are writing or doing anything within the creative world and feeling dejected, glum, or on the verge of giving up.
Don’t. The rewards are there if you stick with it. It’s just discipline and a willingness to keep going that gets you through, and thick skin, and coffee. Don’t forget the coffee.

Righto, well, I’d best get a brew and get back to work.
Love hugs and kisses x

RR Haywood

31 Comments
  • John Mallinson
    Posted at 11:21h, 27 July Reply

    Your books have made me rekindle my enjoyment of reading. Hard to express the positive impact they have made, please write twice as much for twice as long.
    Thank you for enriching my life.

  • Evelyn
    Posted at 11:22h, 27 July Reply

    Well done. Thoroughly deserved.

  • Kirstin Henry
    Posted at 11:27h, 27 July Reply

    You put yourself into your words and then when those words are critiqued it must be so difficult not to take it personally. However boss, you seem to have a great sense of how to manage the human with the art with the business…. good for you. XxxX

  • Steve Tremlett
    Posted at 11:46h, 27 July Reply

    Rich – I’m not a zombie fan, other than quite enjoying the silliness of an occasional Shaun of the Dead type of movie, but thanks to Amazon Extracted woke me up to your amazing narrative style and creative vision. I considered the trilogy to be absolutely up there with my other recently discovered favourite ebook authors such as Ian Sainsbury and Philip Quaintrell, and your books are probably better-edited (I can’t stop myself noticing any and all typos and grammatical errors…). You truly deserve the accolades, please don’t stop writing. I’m even likely to download the Undead sometime soon.

  • ML Doyle
    Posted at 12:33h, 27 July Reply

    Couldn’t have happened to a greater guy! Seriously happy for you. Looking forward to reading anything and everything you publish.

  • Samantha Scott
    Posted at 12:40h, 27 July Reply

    I love your Extracted series. It it amazing how you draw the reader in to believing it could happen right under our noses and that what we perceive to be true could be due to some re writing of history.
    Eagerly waiting for the next installment.

  • Chris Cairns
    Posted at 13:02h, 27 July Reply

    I have loved the undead series and am still loving them, always recommend to my friends. Also love getting to know you through these posts. Keep going buddy

  • Dave Rees
    Posted at 13:04h, 27 July Reply

    Always put milk in second..
    oh and thank you – really.

  • Jason Sullivan
    Posted at 13:38h, 27 July Reply

    Fair play Rich, a real labour of love to get the undead series published. But so glad you did, couldn’t imagine life without my living army fix

  • Nathan Webb
    Posted at 13:55h, 27 July Reply

    The trolls obviously don’t have a clue …thanks for all you have written and I appreciate the hard work…

  • PJ
    Posted at 14:26h, 27 July Reply

    I got Extracted through a certain site that gives books for reviews……..and loved it so much that I bought the trilogy.
    You well deserve to be up there in the top group and long may you stay there.
    Congratulations, have a cuppa (or ten) and enjoy our insanely hot weather until it buckets down again.

  • Dawn Glass
    Posted at 14:29h, 27 July Reply

    Congratulations and well done. You are an amazing writer and I am glad to have discovered your books. Thank you and long may you continue

  • Denise
    Posted at 14:40h, 27 July Reply

    Bloody well done and well deserved. I love the way you write. I wish i could remove all the trolls for you, perhaps employ a Troll Remover .
    Negative people are sad jealous soles.
    I had no idea how much work goes into publishing a book, It is a lot of hard work, but i, for one really appreciate yours.

  • Nicola Beaken
    Posted at 14:50h, 27 July Reply

    Never, ever thought I’d be hooked on a book about Zombies (living challenged) but through the Extracted trilogy, I fell in love with your writing, the stories and the characters and now can’t wait for the next instalment of either one!!
    You deserve to be up there with the best – do they give you a clock or something…?
    Humongous congrats xxx

  • Richard Nord
    Posted at 14:55h, 27 July Reply

    Fantastic news and very well deserved. This will encourage you to write more and more.

  • Phil Rolfe
    Posted at 15:16h, 27 July Reply

    Congratulations! I can’t help but notice the UK is having an extremely hot summer… when I come visit in about a week, should I also bring my anti-zombie kit? Starting to wonder…

  • Jenn Noblitt
    Posted at 15:19h, 27 July Reply

    Congratulations! Can”t wait for the next books! Keep up the writing.

  • Eric Schroeder
    Posted at 15:40h, 27 July Reply

    Not just the UK, I’m on the West coast of the US. I can’t get enough of Safa, Ben, Harry, and Emily. Thanks for all your hard work.

  • Chris
    Posted at 16:35h, 27 July Reply

    My favourite author ever is tbe late David Gemmell. I used to sit on my couch for 48hrs with every new book he wrote. You are the ONLY other author i do that with.. I cannot give any higher praise.. Well done mate – and please keep going!

  • vw
    Posted at 16:36h, 27 July Reply

    Time travel is my thing, so altho I have not yet read about your undead, it’s next on my list! Thank you for the details regarding getting something published! I do have a story I want to tell, but hearing what is involved makes me wonder, and I value your encouraging words. I’m seeing the Extracted trilogy onscreen, definitely gonna happen and it’s gonna be great!!. Excited for you!!

  • Phil Rolfe
    Posted at 16:57h, 27 July Reply

    You’ll likely enjoy the undead series too. I didn’t realize he had written them until I finished the last Extracted novel and saw an ad for book 1 of Undead. I’m totally hooked and still playing catch up. As it happens, my wife has a coworker who lives in/around the setting of the books, and we are going to be staying with him in about a week. We’re even going to stop over at the Isle of Wight (Wiggit is how my wife’s mentor pronounces it). We’re from Michigan, USA.

    Love the novels, please keep writing!

  • Christine Jackson
    Posted at 17:14h, 27 July Reply

    Well you’re actually in my top 1 of authors in the UK.

  • Julie Pickford
    Posted at 20:13h, 27 July Reply

    Well I might account for that rating! Got extracted free with prime reading: speed read all three and then moved onto the undead. Have read 1-22 over last two months and feel bereft now it’s over. Never had a zombie Interest and as a 53 year old mum and Tax expert and writer, probably not your typical reader but I LOVE them. One complaint….you need to get the next extracted and undead 23 out NOW,
    Congrats, keep it up and hurry up!

  • Claire Dale
    Posted at 20:41h, 27 July Reply

    That’s a hell of an accolade and one that’s well deserved. I’m really pleased for you.
    Oh, and as for the trolls….f*ck ‘em, we’ll win!

  • Joanne Smith
    Posted at 23:26h, 27 July Reply

    Boom! Drop mike. You’re done

  • Dorian D Santoyo-Dyer
    Posted at 03:36h, 28 July Reply

    I’m not into vampires but your “Extracted” series had me from the first page! Hooray for you! Please write more, I love your creativity!

    • Dorian D Santoyo-Dyer
      Posted at 03:38h, 28 July Reply

      P.S. I’m also on the West Cost of the US, in the
      exact middle of the state, go California, go Haywood!

  • Rachael Horton no1 fan
    Posted at 07:23h, 28 July Reply

    Yes! Can’t think of anyone who is more deserving!! The Undead is one of a kind, amazing and you deserve recognition for all the work you put into it. Even if it’s taken the brilliance of the Extracted series for you to be taken seriously.

  • Pete Donati
    Posted at 14:51h, 29 July Reply

    On last book of Extracted series and have LOVED the books! Thank you!! Wish you would do more of them!!!

  • Seth Forrester
    Posted at 20:20h, 31 July Reply

    I happenchanced upon your books from audiobooks. Once a week I make a tedious commute which can take between an hour and 3 depending on M25. Your writing has transformed my journey to and from work. It’s gone from something I had to endure to something I enjoyed as has become storytime for grown up me. It has revitalised my interest in science fiction and sparked creativity in areas totally unrelated. I have loved all three of the Extracted series, I have loved the performance on audiobooks. I’ve even found myself sat in my car, outside my flat thinking “Well I can’t just leave Ben, Safa and Harry just hanging I’ll sit here and listen to the end of the chapter.” Coming home off a night shift on no sleep that is no small feat.
    I can’t wait for the next instalment. Well done, you have made my world a little better. Thank you.

  • Andrew Gadsby
    Posted at 10:19h, 05 August Reply

    Just finishing undead 14. Absolutely hooked. Can’t put them down, never read such a laugh out loud, lump in throat, toe curling, thought provoking series of books ever.
    A breath of fresh air, and political correctness where it belongs, in the bin.
    Keep up the good work.

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