That's not an easy question to answer. Imperfect Weapon is the first full-length book that I've published and it's taken years to get right, but I think that was because the story has been with me since I was six years old and it has grown and evolved over those years. I tried to write it about ten years ago—in fact, I did—but it wasn't very good. It was too disjointed so I shelved it in despair. Then, nearly two years ago, it suddenly all made sense to me. I knew what was to happen when and where, and that's when I seriously started to write it. It's taken the best part of those two years to finish and publish but I'm happy with the quality and content now. The sequel, though, Black Dog, has only taken about six months and a third book is also underway, so I seem to be getting faster with each book. I think that's due to the fact that my grammar, spelling and methods have tightened up over the years.
How many hours a day do you spend writing? Editing? Procrastinating?
Ah! Now that depends on the writer's block! If I'm on a roll, then I spend anywhere between an hour and four writing each evening. I'll also quite happily spend the entire weekend tapping away at the keyboard, given half a chance. Sometimes I have to remind myself that I have a partner and really drag myself away from the laptop to give him the time he deserves. Editing is a chore that is a continuous project. I'll wake up in the middle of the night realising that a chapter bothers me—it doesn't quite work—and then I know it'll need changing. The amendments come to me and the pen and pad come out along with a torch. At three o'clock in the morning, you can find me huddled under the bedclothes scribbling away and then, come the morning, I'm trying to type them up before going off to work and before I can no longer decipher my writing! As for procrastinating, I never procrastinate about writing, only marketing!
How are your book covers designed?
From a very early age, I learnt that if I wanted something 'just so' I'd have to do it myself. I am dreadfully independent and very demanding. In order for something to meet my exacting standards, I usually have to tweak and fiddle with it to the point that I annoy those around me. That's not fair on the creators so now I tend to do my own covers. I have some graphic design experience and I have the right software, so I put that to work. The downside is that I have to spend hours shuffling through thousands and thousands of images, looking for the right one. I know I'll find it eventually. I just need to be patient.
What do you do when you get writers block?
Do something else! I am a self-employed bookkeeper and I have a home and family that need time dedicated to them, as well as writing. There is always something else to do so I don't worry about it. I know it'll come soon enough—and, lo, I'll be lying in bed at night and I'll start to daydream when suddenly the next part of the story comes to me. Then—yes, you got it—out comes the pen, pad and torch. I bury myself under the bedclothes and scribble like mad, hoping not to wake Dave. And if it gets really bad, I get up, come down stairs and fire up the laptop.
Which narrative form and tense do you use and why?
I always write in the third person, past tense simply because that's what comes naturally to me. I've never even considered writing in any other way and I don't think I could.
Where do you get your ebooks formatted?
I do it myself. I'm very particular about formatting. Presentation is of paramount importance, be it a book or a Balance Sheet. I'm very fussy and have found that only I can tolerate my high demands and fulfil my exacting standards.
Do you use a professional editor, critique partners, or beta readers? Briefly describe your process.
I am really lucky. I have a fantastic team behind me. After the book has been written and I have my first draft, I put it away for a few weeks. That's really hard to do, but I need to distance myself from it a little bit before I can do my first proof. That's the stage when things get tweaked or completely rewritten. If it doesn't feel right, if it doesn't read right, if I find a fatal flaw... all those things must be addressed.
A second proof starts to focus on grammar and spelling and often there's usually a third proof after that. In between times, things get mini-proofed too. Only when I'm happy with the product does it go to my independent proofreader, Willber G Force. He's a great guy and we share a sense of humour. He makes his suggestions, which I then consider. We don't always agree on things, but we rarely disagree.
After that comes the beta-reading. This is the toughest hurdle of all because my partner, Dave, does this. He's a big Stephen King fan so if I can entertain him, well, that means a hell of a lot to me. Finally, after that and if I'm happy with everything, I'll publish.
Which is the most important social media platform and why? Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, LinkedIn, or any other one you use.
I can be found on FaceBook and Twitter. I love FaceBook as it's kept me in touch with friends and family from when I was in junior school. You can have extended conversations with friends, family and other authors, too. Twitter is also great because it is better at allowing you to expand the circle of people you interact electronically with, although the 140-character tweet limit can be a bit challenging! I'm also available at Goodreads, but suspect I don't use that as much as I should. As far as Google+ and LinkedIn are concerned, I don't have a presence there yet as I need to leave time to write.
What are three unique web sites or blogs that you follow on a regular basis? (related to writing etc.)
The Indie Writer Zone (of course)— http://www.indiewriterszone.com
Readers' Retreat—http://readersretreat.com and I spend a lot of time on the Amazon forums, in particular, trying to promote eReaders and eBooks.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
When I was at school, I was told that you should map out the entire story before starting to write it. I don't and I can't. As I write, the story unfolds before me. It's like the story is being told to me and I'm just writing it down. Things happen and I think: blimey—I didn't see that coming! I then wonder how the main character is going to 'get out of that one' and, somehow, he always does. It never ceases to amaze me and the pleasure it brings is phenomenal. If my readers get half the pleasure I do out of my stories, then my work is done and I'm a happy bunny.
Contact Links for A B Potts:
Imperfect Weapon available from:
Amazon UK: www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0066TLG9I