Become a Writer Today

How to Write and Self-Publish Your First Book with Conor Bredin

May 03, 2021 Bryan Collins
Become a Writer Today
How to Write and Self-Publish Your First Book with Conor Bredin
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Become a Writer Today
How to Write and Self-Publish Your First Book with Conor Bredin
May 03, 2021
Bryan Collins

Like many authors, you probably have a dream of writing and publishing your first book. Chances are, you've also got to work to pay the bills and write the book when you have some time to spare.

At least that's what I had to do. I used to get up at 5 or 6 am and spend the first-hour writing before the kids woke up and my working day started. But, I believe that if you spend 30 - 60 minutes per day on your writing project, you can make great progress.

My guest in this episode is Conor Bredin, and he did just that. He wrote and self-published his first novel, The Longest Night, while working as a primary school teacher.

I wanted to understand what his writing routine looked like, how he balanced writing with a day job, and what steps he took to ensure that he got to a point where he was happy to publish.

In this episode we discuss:

  • Making writing your priority
  • Planning your day to make time for your writing
  • Using tools and software to enhance your writing
  • How Conor structures his writing
  • The different types of editing processes
  • How Conor markets his work

Resources:

Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/becomeawritertoday)

Show Notes Transcript

Like many authors, you probably have a dream of writing and publishing your first book. Chances are, you've also got to work to pay the bills and write the book when you have some time to spare.

At least that's what I had to do. I used to get up at 5 or 6 am and spend the first-hour writing before the kids woke up and my working day started. But, I believe that if you spend 30 - 60 minutes per day on your writing project, you can make great progress.

My guest in this episode is Conor Bredin, and he did just that. He wrote and self-published his first novel, The Longest Night, while working as a primary school teacher.

I wanted to understand what his writing routine looked like, how he balanced writing with a day job, and what steps he took to ensure that he got to a point where he was happy to publish.

In this episode we discuss:

  • Making writing your priority
  • Planning your day to make time for your writing
  • Using tools and software to enhance your writing
  • How Conor structures his writing
  • The different types of editing processes
  • How Conor markets his work

Resources:

Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/becomeawritertoday)

Conor:
The benefit of planning is that you're not stuck thinking, "What happens next?" You just fly through it. Once I had done all that, I went through really quickly.

Introduction:
Welcome to the Become a Writer Today podcast with Bryan Collins. Here, you'll find practical advice and interviews for all kinds of writers.

Bryan:
How long does it take to write and self-publish your first book? And what does that journey look like? Hi there, my name is Bryan Collins and welcome to the Become a Writer Today podcast. Writing and self-publishing a book is a goal that many writers and authors have. But usually, if you want to do something like this, you're going to have to do it around the sides because chances are if it's your first book, you've got to work at a job to pay the bills. At least that's what I've had to do and what many authors I've met had to do.

Bryan:
When I was working on my first book, I used to get up early in the morning around 5:00 or 6:00, and I'd write for an hour or two before the day job. At the time, the day job was working as a copywriter for a British software company.

Bryan:
And I liked writing in the morning on my book or working on my book in the morning because I felt that I was freshest then and if I had a difficult day at work or something came up with the kids later on in the day, I wasn't so stressed because I'd already gotten in a good hour of creative work.

Bryan:
And what I found is that if you could work on a creative project that you're passionate about for 30 or 60 minutes every morning, you can make progress bit by bit towards your book. And that's how I actually wrote a collection of short stories and how I started writing nonfiction, as well. And that's also the method that I use to work on my site Become a Writer Today. If you want to write your first book, first thing I'd asked you to consider is what does the start of your day look like? And could you get up an hour earlier and use that time to work on a creative project that's exciting to you?

Bryan:
Now, of course, if you don't have kids or lots of family demands or perhaps your working hours are a bit different, perhaps you could write later in the evening, too. But it is helpful if you can block book at least an hour a day to work on something creative and to write. How long of course it takes to write and self-publish a book is another question because it depends on your skills on your experience with writing books. And I know I spent God, several years working on my collection of short stories, which in retrospect was way too long. But I didn't really know what I was doing at the time. And it was only when I got into the habit of publishing more work and finishing this that I learned how to write things a bit quicker. Many authors or new authors say they spend a year or two on their book and that's completely normal.

Bryan:
Whereas, other more experienced self-published authors seem to churn out books every few months, but the chances are that they are probably working with people who help them, or they've got a couple of books on the back burner, or they're doing it full-time, or they've just been doing it longer so they understand how to tell stories within their particular genre or niche that bit better. What I'd say is, if you're looking at the output of an author, who's been doing it for a while, don't let that put you off because chances are, they struggled on writing a first book for a year or two, or figuring out what genre they wanted to write in before they started achieving any kind of success.

Bryan:
The topic of writing your first book is actually the subject of this week's podcast episode. I had the chance to catch up with another Irish man. He's an author Conor Bredin and he's written the novel, The Longest Night. And he's also the host of the popular Irish podcast, Story of a Storyteller, where he interviews other writers and storytellers.

Bryan:
And I was interested in talking to Conor because he's also a primary school teacher and he writes on the side and that's how he wrote and self-published his first book. I wanted to understand what his writing routine looked like, how he balanced writing with a day job, and also what other steps he took to ensure that he got his first draft and just something that he was happy to publish and get lots of great reviews for it. And that's actually available on Amazon right now, if you wanted to go and check it out.

Bryan:
But before we get over to this week's podcast interview with Conor, I do have an ask. Please, could you leave a short review on the iTunes store? Because more reviews and more ratings would help more people find the show, or if you're not listening to on iTunes, just leave a short review or share the episode wherever you're listening.

Bryan:
The other thing that I've done recently is I've set up a Patreon for the Become a Writer Today podcast. You can just visit patreon/BecomeaWriterToday, and it'll take you to the sign-up page. And I'll also include that link in the show notes. Basically, if you become a supporter of the show for just $2 or $3 a month, depending on what tier you want to pick, it'll help me produce more episodes.

Bryan:
For context, it takes me about two or three hours to record a single episode when I factor in things like editing, research, finding guests, and so on. Your support would help me continue with the Become a Writer Today podcast. Now, with all of that said, let's go over to this week's interview with Conor.

Conor:
Yeah, the way I always say it and I said it to you before we started recording, as well, is that I basically have two full-time jobs. And it's kind of my big thing is all about prioritizing. A couple of years ago I read a... This, it starts really far out, but it comes back, I swear. A couple of years ago, I started reading a book about fitness and being your best physical self and this kind of thing called, Level Up Your Life by Steve Kamb. And-

Bryan:
Oh, okay.

Conor:
In that book, he, there was one sentence that just floored me. And I was so happy I read the book, even for this one sentence. And that was, from now on, whenever you say, "I don't have time for that," to, or, "I don't have enough time to do whatever," so, "I don't have enough time to write, or I don't have enough time to record a podcast," change it to, "X isn't a priority."

Conor:
When you start saying things like, "I don't have time to write," and then, then start saying, "Oh, writing, isn't a priority," it really hits you because then you're like, "Oh, wow, that's shocking." Because there's people that he works with, the writer of that book, who were parents. And they were saying, "Oh, I don't have time to play with my kids." And then, when they change things to say, "Playing with my children isn't a priority," it really hits and makes you go, "I need to sort out my priorities."

Conor:
That's kind of where it started. And then, I realized writing is something I really care and love, care about and really love, so I just need to make it a priority. A sacrificed the things that weren't a priority. Television shows, watching TV from 6:00 at night to bedtime wasn't going to happen anymore. I started getting up an hour earlier than I normally would have to go to work and spend that hour writing in the mornings. There's a hashtag going around on Twitter all the time, the 5amWritersClub.

Bryan:
Yeah, I was on that for a while.

Conor:
I'm not a 5:00 AM guy, I'm a 6:00 AM guy, but you know-

Bryan:
I did that for a year. It's not pretty. It's a kind of a monkish existence. But yeah, sometimes you got to do what you got to do.

Conor:
Yeah, yeah, you do. That's kind my main thing. And then, when it comes to making sure I meet my responsibilities in the job that pays the bills, I don't want to say my real job, the job that actually pays the bills at the moment. It's all about prioritizing again. It's like looking at well, first, what's the bare minimum? Second, what's my bare minimum? Because, I have high standards when it comes to my teaching. And then second, what do I need to do for tomorrow? And just kind of work from there.

Bryan:
Yeah. Yeah. Do you write for an hour in the morning before you go to school to teach?

Conor:
Well, if it's writing, yeah. Sometimes it might be working on the podcast, sometimes it might be a bit of marketing, but I maintain my writing career in that hour a day.

Bryan:
Okay. Yeah, it's good to get an hour in the morning time, because what I found when I was... Well, I'm doing this full-time now, but when I was doing this part-time, if I left it until the evening, something with work would come up during the day and then invariably just not do it that night.

Conor:
Yeah. Yeah. I think the evenings is really good, but the thing is evening belongs to... The rest of the day is affecting you once you get to the evening.

Bryan:
Yeah.

Conor:
You're better off doing in the mornings, that's what I think.

Bryan:
And what about your book? How long did it take you to write a book working just an hour a day?

Conor:
My first novel is The Longest Night and it's as I said, it's a supernatural thriller. It kind of has a funny backstory. I, after reading that fitness book I was talking about, my partner, he kind of said to me is like, "You know, you always talk about writing, but you never write." And I was like, "Oh, yeah, he's correct." Between those two kind of things that hit me, "you never write," and, "writing isn't a priority," I started.

Conor:
I started writing it in 2016. And then of course, one of the benefits of having a job like mine is that I do have a little bit more time off than the average person. Basically, once the summer holidays hit, I was a full-time writer. I was literally getting up at 8:00, writing until 12:00, walking the dog, coming back, writing 1:00 to 5:00, that kind of thing. I got the book done in two-and-a-half years, which is a long time. But for my first book, I was quite happy with it.

Bryan:
Yeah. A lot of big Irish authors were teachers. Right?

Conor:
Yeah.

Bryan:
Probably, because for June, July, and August.

Conor:
I'd say so, yeah.

Bryan:
You said it took two-and-a-half years to write the book. I think I spent a bit longer on a collection of short stories. Did you find you were rewriting it a lot?

Conor:
Yes and no. I'll say this, it was my first book. It wasn't my first book to write, but it was my first book to finish. I am the master of starting a novel and I am the novice of finishing one.

Bryan:
Yeah, well, finishing is sometimes harder than starting.

Conor:
Yeah, oh, no, definitely. Yeah, when I came to write in the book, I just, I approached things differently this time around because I was more serious about it. I bought a book that was written by the creators of NaNoWriMo, which I'm sure you're familiar with.

Bryan:
Yeah.

Conor:
The National Novel Writing Month. And it was called, Ready, Set, Novel! And it really takes you by the hand, says, "Do this bit, then plan this bit, then plan this bit, then plan this bit," so on, and so forth. I think the fact that I've really planned it out to the end and really thought about how the book was going to end and that kind of thing really helped in getting it finished. Because other times I've attempted to write novels, I had one or two ideas of how it's going to start, something cool has happened in the middle, something cool will happen in the end. And I'll just make the rest up as I go. That doesn't work.

Bryan:
Did you use the NaNoWriMo book for The Longest Night or for a different book?

Conor:
I used it for The Longest Night, yeah.

Bryan:
Oh, okay. And did you always want to write fiction and in particular, thrillers?

Conor:
Yes. And yes-ish. I've always wanted to write. I remember the very first story I wrote, I was in junior infants, so I was four and I got ahold of the A4 pages and I wrote a book about a rabbit who explores the forest and then meets a dragon, blah, blah, blah. And I remember being really disappointed because when I folded them all up and put them together and stapled them, they were out of order because I I didn't [inaudible] them. Do you know what I mean?

Bryan:
Yeah.

Conor:
I went one, two, three, four as opposed to going one, five, eight, eight, nine, do you know, something like that. I've always been writing fiction. In secondary school, I used to dodge doing homework by writing stories instead and my teacher was always really annoyed. She was like, "Conor, it's great that you can write a really thrilling short story, but you have to know how to do an essay, as well, for the Junior Cert." I was like, "Oh, well."

Conor:
Then when it came to actually writing a thriller, it was, I think that was just more because that's where my tastes were at the time in other media. The Longest Night is very inspired by kind of the video game Uncharted, the Indiana Jones movies, Tomb Raider, that kind of architecture, thriller kind of exploration type thing. Yeah. It's just what called to me at that time.

Bryan:
Okay, so it sounds like you've read a lot of books in those genres while you were writing and before you started writing The Longest Night.

Conor:
Yeah. I inhaled those books. And that's one thing I hate about being a writer and a podcaster and a teacher is my time for reading just dwindles and dwindles and dwindles away. And it's a shame because-

Bryan:
But if it becomes a kind of part of the job, doesn't it? It's not, you don't just read for leisure anymore.

Conor:
Yeah, and I think that's what it is. Like, I do read for pleasure, obviously, but it's just a part of my brain I can't turn it off now. Like I used to, I used to before I was a teacher, I was actually a stage actor. It's like whenever I see a film or see a play or something like that, I'm always in my head. I'm like, "He slipped up that line. I can see it in his eyes."

Conor:
And you just can't turn it off or enough, once you see, once you've gone, once you've seen behind the curtain, you can't unsee it. Like Dorothy could never look at the big floating green head and think that's the Wizard of Oz anymore. Once she understands the workings behind it, it changes her perspective.

Bryan:
Yeah. I read a couple of books about story structure. I went to a few storytelling workshops, one by Robert McKee comes to mind, but after discovering there's actually a framework for stories, it's very hard to watch any big films without actually seeing all the different beats that the writers were hitting.

Conor:
It is. Yeah. Is really, really is. Is there any particular books do you think really changed your perspective on storytelling or anything?

Bryan:
Well, Robert McKee's book, Story, it's actually about screenwriting, so maybe you'd like it considering your background before you were writing thrillers. But just he takes apart a couple of famous films and explains how to hit all these different beats on what the conventions of the genre is and what the conventions of thrillers are. Even though I don't write thrillers, it was just, it was interesting to see that there is actually kind of a framework for it.

Conor:
Yeah, yeah.

Bryan:
And then, Shawn Coyne is a book called The Story Grid. He does something similar to what Robert McKee did with, except he does it with Silence of the Lambs.

Conor:
Oh, right, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Bryan:
Once I saw that and The Hero's Journey, as well, which I'm sure you've probably heard of.

Conor:
Yeah. I mean, what writer worth their salt hasn't heard of The Hero's Journey at this stage?

Bryan:
Yeah, yeah. After that, that Matrix and Star Wars and every other superhero film.

Conor:
Yeah, exactly.

Bryan:
Is ruined, I think. Well, not ruined, but I guess, you know what's going to happen next.

Conor:
But in a way, I think that's good because then it forces the writers to think outside the box. There's so many, you know what I mean? And then, you have to come up with a different structure and plot and stuff.

Bryan:
Yeah. Well, I think is if a book is in a particular genre, it has to do certain things at least, to satisfy readers. And if it doesn't do those things, then it's a book in a different genre. I write a lot of nonfiction, so I'm more interested these days in what nonfiction books do, but yeah, there's even frameworks for nonfiction books. You need take aways for the reader and you should have some sort of personal story combined with research, depending on the type of nonfiction book you're writing.

Bryan:
When you wrote your book and you said it took two-and-a-half years, does that include editing and rewrites, as well?

Conor:
Yep, so the two-and-a-half years is from buying a little notebook that was going to be my, "This is the notebook I'm going to write the book in," to the publication.

Bryan:
By notebook, you mean like a moleskin or a paper notebook?

Conor:
Yep. A paperback moleskin.

Bryan:
Not a laptop. Yep.

Conor:
No, I always start with pen and paper. And actually, I'm currently planning the sequel to The Longest Night. And that's why I have all these lovely multi-colored post-its because the spare bedroom becomes my, like, you know, that meme of Charlie from Always Sunny in Philadelphia pointing at the wall with all these bits of [crosstalk 00:14:14]?

Bryan:
Yeah.

Conor:
That's my planning process. I take over [crosstalk 00:14:19].

Bryan:
Yeah, I have a large whiteboard. I use that.

Conor:
Yeah, yeah, it's the same thing.

Bryan:
But I've done the Post-it option, as well.

Conor:
See, that's just kind of always how I started. I just kind of start with pen and paper and then gradually move on. I do use two bits of software that I have to shout out to because they're phenomenal. Snowflake Pro, which is a planning software.

Bryan:
I'm not familiar with that one.

Conor:
It's very old school. It's very cool, though. It's basically, you start off with you summarize your story in one sentence and then you just take the next, then you have to expand it, the one to five sentences. And then, each sentence there in a five sentence paragraph, you expand to a full paragraph on its own. And it's just about taking your things and expanding and expanding and expanding until you have-

Bryan:
Oh, okay.

Conor:
An outline. And the software is really useful because it has a couple of famous books and stories in it, loaded in as an example, so like if you're not entirely sure what the designer means by a character ambition, for example, you can go into one of the examples, like Harry Potter or Gone with the Wind and be like, "Oh, okay. Yeah, now I know what they mean." And then, the other software of course is the one most writers would know, Scrivener. I mean it's-

Bryan:
Yeah. I use Scrivener a lot. I can do a version of those Post-its, but yeah, sometimes it is best just to see it all.

Conor:
I like to touch.

Bryan:
Yeah. No, a lot of writers do. Does Snowflake Pro, see I haven't used that one, does that help you with the outline and then you start free writing in Scrivener? Or what way did you do it?

Conor:
I would have started with the Post-its and things like that. And then, once I had a rough idea of what I wanted, I went on to Snowflake Pro to kind of really solidify it and make sure it made sense, make sure that it's separating the wheat from the chaff in terms of story ideas, if you know what I mean. And then, Snowflake Pro actually really breaks it down to you have a sheet. You actually end up with an Excel sheet of, this scene happens in this chapter, this scene happens in this chapter, then you're on the next chapter, and so on.

Conor:
Once I have that Excel sheet, I just put that up on Google Drive. And then, I just wrote one like over and back between. Yeah, I've written that, go back to Scrivener or go back to the sheet, look at what I need to write next, back into Scrivener and go. I think that's one thing about-

Bryan:
That's a little bit like The Story Grid. The Story Grid basically maps out your thriller book in a spreadsheet.

Conor:
Yeah. Yeah. It's basically the same thing. It's just all about just kind of, I like a lot of, I know there's a lot of versions out there that would be like, "Oh, but I'm a pantser I can't do that." I was like, well, the benefit of planning is that you're not stuck thinking what happens next? You just fly through it. Once I had done all that, I went through really quickly. And then, when it came to editing and all that, I hired an editor through Reedsy.

Bryan:
Yeah, I use Reedsy, they're a great service.

Conor:
It's a fantastic service.

Bryan:
It's just easier to find an editor who have like industry experience. Whereas, I find out when I was using Upwork and other services, you could just get anybody.

Conor:
Yeah, I think that is one really good benefit of Reedsy is you really can find someone that matches your niche and your desires in terms of what you want. Yeah, once I found the editor, one thing I was really happy with was she said like, "This is really good for your first draft." And when I talked to her then over time, she kind of basically said, "The only reason that it's as good as it is at this point, at this stage is because of the extensive planning you did."

Bryan:
Oh, okay, so it saved you a bit of time on the rewrite.

Conor:
Basically.

Bryan:
And did she spend long working on the book with you?

Conor:
It was around two and a bit months, which I know it's really, really short. The process we did was there was a bit of emails back and forth, then I sent her the manuscript and she then sent me the manuscript back a month or so later with a whole load of things. It was both she kind of did a bit of a mix of a copy and develop and a story editor format. As I was going through the-

Bryan:
Would you be able to explain just for some people-

Conor:
Of course, yes.

Bryan:
What the difference between the two is?

Conor:
A lot of people that wouldn't be in the writing sphere will think that editing is something I should be very good at because I'm a teacher with my red pen.

Bryan:
Big X's through all the sections.

Conor:
That's not what editing is. That's one of the types of editing. A developmental editor, sometimes called a story editor is looking at the story with a macro lens, looking at it from afar and saying, "Well, is this, does this make sense? Are the characters ringing true? Is the character behaving like a normal human being or are they behaving like a normal person within the story within your world your story is set?"

Bryan:
Yeah, sure, I understand.

Conor:
And then, a copy edit is what most people think of as editing is the red pen is going through looking for spelling mistakes, grammar mistakes, punctuation, that kind of thing. There's other types of edits, as well. There's continuity edits, which is exactly what it sounds like, it's making sure that things make sense all the way through from a... "But you just said he had a green jumper on and then the next scene he has a red shirt on," like it's small niggly bits like that. And then, there's proofreading, which is making sure the copy edit was right, because there's so many stages and that's something I-

Bryan:
And did you do all of these different types of edits?

Conor:
She did the developmental edit and she did... Erin Young is her name, I should say. Erin did the developmental edit and she did the copy edit as kind of a rough copy edit. And then, I did the rest I could because budget-wise, I couldn't really afford too much.

Bryan:
Yeah. You can spend quite a lot on editing, but it is worthwhile saving up if you're a new writer to at least work with a good editor who can help you on the drafts.

Conor:
Definitely.

Bryan:
Did you show it to anybody else then before you published it?

Conor:
Yeah, so I had a couple of beta readers. A beta reader is basically somebody that will read the entire book as a reader, as opposed to an editor just to catch... It's like the final little check. And they also sometimes can be... I asked my beta readers to be ARC readers. ARC readers is Advanced Review Copy readers, so basically once I got my beta readers in and they checked over everything, I asked them that, "Hey, look, on the day of the launch of this book, would you mind leaving a review on Amazon or on Goodreads or whoever just to show people that this book has been read and it is worthwhile?"

Conor:
Because it's one thing we all know, whether you're buying a book or anything else, but if you're looking on Amazon or any other website and you see zero reviews, you are a bit tentative to buy it, because you're like, "Oh, why hasn't anyone else bought this?" That's a really useful thing to have a review, someone's review ready to go on the day it comes up so that it encourages more people to buy.

Bryan:
And how did you find your beta readers and ARC readers?

Conor:
Through my Facebook page mostly. And through asking friends and family.

Bryan:
Is this your personal Facebook page or do you have one for your-

Conor:
Yeah, so my first home Facebook page, it's there. Just because if I just find it... I just what I didn't do a lot of the things that writers should do at the start. I didn't develop a huge email list and I didn't have a full website or anything. I have all those things in place now, but I would definitely do it differently now. I wouldn't be as impatient. I was so excited. And to me, it was like, "Wow, two-and-a-half years is so long." Whereas, there's other people that are like, "I wrote my first book in 10 years."

Conor:
I was a bit impatient, I guess and I launched it a bit too early, but I have no regrets. I'm still very happy with how the book did and is still doing so, that's good.

Bryan:
Yeah. Well, my first book was a collection of short stories and I spent years writing it. Too long. And then, when I switched to nonfiction and I rushed something out and then I took it back down and rewrote it up because I didn't get it edited properly, basically. I made both mistakes. What about the cover? How did you find a book cover designer?

Conor:
Reedsy again. Nick Castle is the cover designer. It's one thing, it's my favorite thing of the book. The cover is just it's really striking. And for anyone who's not listening from Ireland, it has a really important Irish landmark on the cover that is really integral to the story. I just told them a couple of key phrases and key words, and I showed them some examples of covers. I really liked. And he just came up with this straightaway. And apart from a couple of one or two little niggly things that he sorted. Newgrange is supposed to be on the cover, but originally he got a different similar passage tube. I was like, "Oh, that's not Newgrange." He goes, "Yes, it is. It says all the details." I was like, "I've been there. It's not Newgrange. It's really similar but it's not."

Conor:
It was small, little niggly things like it was accident. And he was really helpful. I originally didn't have a tagline on the cover and he said, "Do you want to put one?" I was like, "Oh, no, it's fine." He goes, "Let me ask you again. Do you want to put a [crosstalk 00:22:18]."

Conor:
And again, he normally does thriller covers. I think that's the important thing is when you're looking for an editor or a cover designer or anything, even a marketer to look at someone who has experience in your niche or in your genre or whatever, because they'll know the, like you said earlier, there's industry norms. If you don't hit those norms, it's not a thriller, even if it is between the covers, if you don't have a thriller-esque cover, the thriller audience aren't going to reach for the book.

Bryan:
Which it does, which is does. And you mentioned marketing, how did you go about promoting the book? Or how are you promoting the book?

Conor:
Well, a couple of ways, it's, I won't lie. It's the thing I'm struggling with the most as a writer. And because I consider myself a writer, what I end up doing is thinking. If I'm not writing, I'm not working on my second job as a writer. Do you know what I mean?

Bryan:
It's hard to do both.

Conor:
It really, really is. Yeah. And I know a lot of authors would do things like just hire a marketer, but I don't feel comfortable doing that. Main way I market is through this. I get to know other writers like yourself and reach out and talk to on podcasts and things like that. I also am building up a bit of a following on Twitter and trying to interact with readers and other readers and authors that way. And of course, I started off my own podcast, Story of a Storyteller to do a bit of content marketing so people would be familiar with me and then might be interested in checking out my books.

Bryan:
Yeah. Did you set up the podcast after you published the book?

Conor:
Yeah, so the podcast is only, it's only six months old. It was a lockdown project that spiraled out of control.

Bryan:
That's a good project.

Conor:
Yeah. It started out as a, "Oh, I'll just do a few episodes and leave it." And then, it's become a real passion very, very quickly. It's called Story of a Storyteller. It's about, it's just me talking to other writers and finding out their life story specifically and how they got from childhood to being a storyteller. The reason I call it Storyteller is it's well, first of all, alliteration is nice in a podcast. But secondly, because I don't-

Bryan:
Always the teacher.

Conor:
I tell you, you can take the teacher out of the school, but you can't take the school out of the teacher. It's mostly because I want to just talk. I want to see what I can learn from other authors, but also from actors and from screenwriters. I actually, the most recent episode, we're recording this on the 2nd of March, the episode that came out yesterday is a board game designer and an author. We talked about how designing a board game is about planning a story that the players are going to create together or play together or whatever. It's just, it's all about that kind of a thing.

Bryan:
Yeah. That would make sense, I guess. You're still telling a story, but just in a different format.

Conor:
Exactly.

Bryan:
I'm just looking at your website, you have a free book, as well. Do you use that as part of your strategy?

Conor:
Yep.

Bryan:
Does that work for you, as well?

Conor:
[crosstalk 00:25:01] Yeah. See, there so many strategies, I forget them all.

Bryan:
Yeah, there's a lot.

Conor:
I have a free short story or novella. I always feel guilty by calling it a free book, because it's only, it's a little bit longer than 10,000 words. It's called The Stolen Dagger and it's-

Bryan:
Yeah, well, that's a novella, yeah, yeah.

Conor:
Yeah. It's a kind of a crime, heist, thriller ping that ties into The Longest Night. The titular stolen dagger of that book is a key plot device and a key thing for The Longest Night. But it is still, The Stolen Dagger on its own is still a complete story. If you went to read The Stolen Dagger, you wouldn't feel like, "Oh, but I don't know what happens next." Like it is a beginning, middle, end on its own.

Conor:
It's available for free if people sign up to my email list. If he wanted to check it out, it'd be ConorBredin.com/freebook and it's there. Yeah, it has worked. I mean, I said earlier when I launched The Longest Night, I didn't have an email list and now I have one that is growing. I mean, it's growing slowly, but it's never stopped growing. It's always growing a little bit.

Conor:
I use two websites, Book Funnel, and StoryOrigin and I use them to find other authors to connect with. And then, we kind of share each other's free books with our email list so that people from, let's say, if I was sharing with you, Bryan, your email list might look at mine and be like, "Oh yeah," and take over and vice versa. And it has worked a bit, yeah. It's done pretty well.

Bryan:
Yeah. No, I'm not aware of StoryOrigin, So I must take a look at that one. Did you consider putting it on Amazon, as well?

Conor:
It is on Amazon, but the-

Bryan:
Oh, it is? It is?

Conor:
Yeah, it's just, I purposely have it on Amazon as the cheapest it can be, which is 77 p, but first line on the description is, "Or get this book for free on..." Because if I sell it on Amazon, then I can't get the email and that's the kind of main reason for it. I'm looking at it as a way to get people's email addresses.

Bryan:
Okay. Yeah, that makes sense. Yeah, I've tried free books in the past, yeah, they can work quite well. What are you writing at the moment?

Conor:
I finished the first very, very, very long first draft of a children's fantasy book, but I'm struggling with it in the sense that basically, I couldn't figure out exactly if it was really one book or if it was a trilogy. And if it was a trilogy, I'd have to do a lot of padding. But at the same time, it's huge for one book and I'm not sure about the cost.

Conor:
I decided to park it for a little bit, let it percolate. And instead, continue on with the sequel to The Longest Night. The Longest Night was always intended to be the start of a short series. Whether a trilogy or four books, I'm not sure yet, but that's what I'm working on now. And I'm trying a different planning method, thanks to a guest on my podcast.

Conor:
Her name is Dixon Reuel. She said, there's one thing that really benefits her, she has a five book series that she changed the planning technique from book to book so that it felt fresher and that she could look at it from different ways. That's what I'm trying now. I'm using the planning method-

Bryan:
Oh, that's interesting. Because I would've thought once you have a system, stick with it.

Conor:
No, because I did try that. I did try and plan it before and it just, things wouldn't flow. And so now, I'm trying, using, I don't know if you know the book, The Anatomy of Story by John Truby?

Bryan:
I've heard of it. Yeah. I haven't read it. I've heard of it.

Conor:
Oh, it's dense. It's a really dense book and it's really, really good. And one thing I love about it is he uses a lot of examples and that's kind of one thing that really helps me as he will explain something and explain how it works. I'm on character webs at the minute. He then says, "So here's the character web of Streetcar Named Desire. Here's the character web of Godfather. Here's the character web of Tootsie." He loves the film Tootsie. The Dustin Hoffman, the one where Dustin Hoffman dresses up in drag. I don't know why, he just loves that. It comes up a lot. But yeah, no, it's really, really helpful.

Bryan:
Okay.

Conor:
And so, that's where I am at the minute.

Bryan:
Okay. And do you find the lockdown has helped with your writing or have you found it harder to write?

Conor:
Yes and no. It's helped in the sense I have more free time, but it also hasn't helped in that I'm a very rare extroverted author. I feel like a lot of authors are introverted and they get their energy and they get their kind of sense of Zen from being alone and quiet places. Whereas, being an extrovert, you are the exact opposite. I get my energy and I get my... I kind of feed off being in groups of people, which is one of the reasons I love my job so much because I'm working with so many kids. That has been a bit of a weird thing because when I'm not in school, I generally like, I don't want to say my mental health takes a dip, but I am more lethargic. I am a bit more down. I'm less, far less motivated. It helps in the sense I have more free time, but it also hasn't because I don't see people and then I don't get that energy boost.

Bryan:
Yeah, no, I would be more introverted writer, but I still find it's difficult because you can't just go out to the coffee shop and write for an hour. You're kind of stuck at home the whole time. It's one thing to, to be at home by choice, but it's another thing to be at home because you're told to.

Conor:
Well, to be home to be safe, first of all is the other way to look at it.

Bryan:
Yeah, well that's true. Yeah. Well hopefully, we're near the end of it. Anyway Conor, where can people find out more information about you or your books?

Conor:
You can find everything on my website, ConorBredin.com. That's C-O-N-O-R B-R-E-D-I-N dot com. And then of course, my novella, The Stolen Dagger is at ConorBredin/freebook. And then, if you want to listen to my podcast, Story of a Storyteller, that's ConorBredin.com/podcast. I.

Bryan:
Okay. I'll put it all in the show notes. Thanks, Conor.

Conor:
Thank you.

Bryan:
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