Tag Archives: KDP Select

I Don’t Know What I’m Doing!

I’ve long stated that I don’t know what I’m doing” when it comes to writing. I’ve said this, while still believing in my ability to pen stories that have the power to entertain and maybe make readers think differently about a situation.

The act of creating a story is joyful to me. Whatever its fate, that a new story exists is vastly better than having it rattling around inside my head! But, the joy is shrouded in doubt. It’s the nature of creation that I wonder how effective my hard work has been…and that requires the judgement of readers—who may never learn of my book unless I’m nifty at marketing and self-promotion.

Having just self-published the first four stories of my Cornish Detective series on Amazon KDP Select, I’m facing just that challenge.

I don’t know what I’m doing about how best to use social media and attract subscribers to my two blogs/websites Paul Pens and The Cornish Detective,



but I’m going to embrace that uncertainty. It feels like gathering fog into my arms.

I was pondering my confusion when a newsletter from Austin Kleon arrived.  

Titled Teach your tongue to say I don’t know...Austin Kleon describes how doubt is crucial to make progress.

Teach your tongue to say I don’t know

I like this advice from Mike Monteiro:

The secret to being good at anything is to approach it like a curious idiot, rather than a know-it-all genius.”

As one year dribbles down Time’s plughole and a new year bubbles forth, I’m as confused as I’ve ever been about writing and the convoluted world of publishing.

But, what does it matter?

The work’s the thing!

Don’t you agree?


Brâncuşi is best known for his sculpture The Kiss:

500-Page Novels

As debut authors, we’re advised to follow the word counts suggested as being acceptable by writing gurus:



In writing my crime novels, I’ve brought the last four in at about 80,000 words, though the first story I wrote ballooned to 179,000 words, entirely due to my ignorance of word counts! I’ve lopped 40,000 words off it, and as I prepare to join KDP Select I’m marketing it as a double-length story for the same price as the others. Good value!

The main reason that word counts are crucial is the cost of printing, storing and transporting books. Publishers will risk signing a book of 80,000 words, which amounts to 300-325 pages, depending on font size and formatting, but any bigger than that could see diminishing returns. Such concerns don’t apply to digital books, but an unknown writer needs to be introduced to readers in a digestible size.

I’ve read several very long novels in recent years, including Neal Stephenson’s Reamde at 1,056 pages and 322,080 words. He’s just published a new novel, Fall; or, Dodge in Hell which at only 896 pages and 276,660 words has had some book critics calling it a short story!

Once a writer has established good sales figures, they’re allowed to sprawl. In 2019, I’ve read several crime novels of 500 + pages: John Connolly’s A Book Of Bones was 688 pages and 126,125 words, while Don Winslow’s The Border is 736 pages and 253,460 words.

I’m currently enjoying Knife by Jo Nesbø, which features his protagonist cop Harry Hole, a loose cannon with addiction issues. The plot involves his long-term life partner being murdered by a serial killer he captured who‘s been released from prison after completing his sentence. While he was incarcerated, Harry killed the killer’s son, who’d also become a murderer, so bad dad is after revenge.

Image result for jo nesbo knife

Nesbø devotes many pages to exploring Harry Hole’s thinking. After reading an eight-page chapter in which he ruminates on life, love, faithfulness, the rock music he’s listening to and the alcohol he’s drinking, I considered how much space I’d permit my detective protagonist to do something similar. It wouldn’t be more than half-a-page, as I’m so aware of hitting the 80,000word count. My hardback copy of Knife is 530 pages long, some 147,465 words, according to the reading length website:


I’d like to do more of the same. I feel constrained by 80,000 words. In writing a series featuring the same characters, I’ve attempted to bond the reader with them, which could be better done with more space.

Of course, should I decide to go ahead with self-publishing on KDP Select, I can write books of whatever length I like, without the interference of a literary agent and publisher. Such temptation requires restraint.

Do you feel like you need more space to tell your stories?