Dan writes novel before classes

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Early arrivals at Coventry University’s Media building would find Daniel Burton already sitting in the lobby, fingers jabbing away at a novel. He’s now published Heartbound as an ebook and a paperback. Here, he tells the story behind the story. 

I started writing at 16. I finished my first book and sent it off but it didn’t get picked up. Then I started writing a book called Blue Eyes Behind the Mask. It’s more fantasy-based. That was my imagination going crazy. Again, I sent it off, didn’t get anywhere with it. It happens.

Click the pic to see Dan's book on Amazon

Click the pic to see Dan’s book on Amazon

Then I started writing Heartbound, which came about through the way my friends have always have always been there for me. This was during A Levels. It felt “right”.

It is a story of friendship with a paranormal twist. My main character, called Davey, is in a car crash with his best friend Jasmine. They’re really close. Davey survives but Jasmine dies. He is cleared of all blame but he feels guilty about it and really struggles.

The slogan is the giveaway: Friendship Never Dies. She is always a part of him; she’s always with him. And that’s the main message I wanted to get out to people: even when the whole world looks like a dark tunnel, you have some amazing people around. They brighten up the dark.

I actually started writing the sequel to Blue Eyes Behind the Mask while at uni. At the moment that’s still sitting on my Kindle waiting for me to go back to it.

Obviously, my degree is my priority.

I write on the Kindle. I get into uni an hour early on most days. I’d just be sitting there with my headphones on, typing away. My brain works best in the early morning. I’d want to get my novel work at a good level for the day so I could concentrate on my journalism, when we’re running around getting vox pops and filming packages.  My brain’s warmed up, I’m ready for uni.

Writing Heartbound took me nine months – the first draft. Then I spent a few months tweaking and editing. Overall it took me just over a year to complete and publish.

I tried mainstream publishers. I’m young, I’m a rookie: I wanted to have the advice of an agent.

But after doing a bit of research for my final degree project on publishing, I thought Heartbound could work as a self-published book. You keep control over your marketing.

Dan wrote his novel in the lobby at Coventry University

Dan wrote his novel in the lobby at Coventry University

So to start with I went for Kindle, through Kindle Direct Publishing. That was following advice from authors who were already selling.

You do more or less everything yourself. I really liked that. You get to keep up to seventy per cent of the royalties.

I thought, if it flops, it flops. At least I’ve learnt. But luckily it did really well. It got up to number eight in its category, which is young adult ghosts.

The paperback was a lot trickier. I did spend a lot of time trying to get a good-looking front cover, using Createspace, which is the paperback version of Kindle.

It’s amazing to hold it in your hand. I spent so long on Heartbound, I actually did cry writing it, because I have that emotional connection with it. To actually see it on Kindle, or on a bookshelf… it’s maybe like you’re in the cup final and you score in the 89th minute.

The final project for my degree is a radio documentary on self-publishing. I thought, if I combine two things that I really love I’m going to have a great product.

Self-publishing is a great idea. Technically, it’s very easy. Publishers will always give you the weight, but I think the publishing module where you send it off and get those rejection emails can really put authors down.

What next? I’ve gone back to Blue Eyes Behind the Mask. I’ve got my own copy-editing business as well – D. Burton Editing. And I’ve started planning a brand new original work. Now, I’ve got the confidence.

Buy Heartbound here

SEE ALSO: Tara takes a magical journey into print

Click the pic to visit Dan's editing site

Click the pic to visit Dan’s editing site


Simon Pipe is a former print and BBC journalist, now a member of the Journalism teaching team at Coventry University. He also runs an experimental website, St Helena Online, about one of the world's most remote inhabited islands, at www.sthelenaonline.org On Twitter, when he has something to say, he is @simonpipe

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