Keep on keeping on

Holding it together till the end of the year …

Dear Friends

This is the newsletter that almost wasn’t.

There’s something about this time of year, isn’t there? The to-do list keeps getting longer, demands on our time keep multiplying, and everyone’s completely frazzled just trying to get through these last months of the year without dropping multiple balls.

Clockwork Books has  been through so many changes this year – starting off with a whole new look and website in January, new books published (even some that weren’t in our plans! See: SPIRE), new books added to our online store, connections made, publication lists grown, new faces in the office, some old faces moving on. So much has happened in these here offices this year, but the last 12 months still feel incredibly short – I can hardly believe that this month is the one year anniversary of Clockwork Books releasing the much-anticipated Things Unseen. It’s quite astounding to me to think that this is the second to last newsletter for the year.

So when this issue was handed over to me for finalising, and I was in the middle of planning my 2nd 21st (it’s totally a thing – you should try it!), working on my authors’ royalty statements, pitching a new business idea, planning a trip to Potchefstroom for one of my clients, fixing some layout issues for another of my clients, filling website orders, planning December specials, drawing up author agreements for next year’s releases, AND trying to hold my family together through the course of the end of year madness, I very nearly threw my hands up in the air and resigned myself to being the little publisher that didn’t.

But sending out this newsletter is a commitment I made to myself and my business and you, our readers, at the start of the year, and by golly, I’m going to keep that promise.

I know many of you in the Clockwork Books community are self-published authors, or writers considering self-publishing. And learning to set realistic but challenging goals, driving yourself to do your darnedest to meet them, and not throwing it all out the window when you miss a self-imposed deadline are all things that characterise self-publishing.

And seeing that our featured author this month is a young self-publishing author of some grit and determination that has just this month faced such a hurdle, I pulled up my big girl panties and decided there was a lesson in this for all of us.

So, I hope you enjoy getting to know Abi a little bit better, take advantage of our special offer featuring Volumes 1, 2 and 3 of her Idea War series (complete with micro story written just for you in each), and – especially for those who are planning to self-publish or submit their manuscripts for consideration – read Abi’s tips on editing your own work. You can even enter our competition to win a bundle of Abi’s books featuring a custom micro story written just for you! See the details in our Facebook post here.

This year, the Abantu Book Festival turns two years old, and I encourage you to go! You’ll find more details and links to their website below.

And just for fun, get to know the Clockwork Books resident cat at the end of this newsletter. You’ll be so glad you did …

Keep trucking along, friends. Soon we will be drinking G’nTs on the stoep at Christmas time and catching up on our TBR pile backlog.

Until next time,


Keeping in Touch with:

Abi Godsell

Self-published author Abi Godsell writes South African speculative fiction, balancing her career with one foot in self-publishing and the other in the small press publishing world. In our last newsletter, she mentioned something to us about a book launch…

Sarah: You’ve been chatting to us for ages about how excited you were to launch your third installment of Idea War at Rage 2017, but it didn’t go off. What happened?

Abi: So, for me, being self-published is all about learning, constantly, even when you think you’ve got something down. Sometimes (most times, but I am wearing the positive hat today) that learning happens because of exciting career mistakes. I didn’t manage my printing timelines carefully enough to allow space for unexpected problems. So yes, I was at Rage, with all of the books except the one I most wanted to be there with. Still I learned some things about more carefully managing my time, and allowing for unpredictable hold ups.

Sarah: Okay, so that seems a little rough, but there will be other opportunities to launch, won’t there?

Abi: Yes, of course there are always other chances. I have to be honest though, Rage 2017 was a completely unique launch opportunity. I’ve lost something that can’t easily be replaced, but that’s why I value this learning opportunity. Even when you lose a unique opportunity you keep going, because, statistically speaking, there are going to be other opportunities in the future that you don’t even know enough about to be looking for yet.

Sarah: So what’s next for the Idea War 3 launch? What unique opportunities are you exploiting for that?

Abi: Well, in this case, I’m hoping to make me own. When it comes to books, my biggest struggle as a hand-selling author, and even as a buyer and reader, is time. So I’m going to try a kind of launch that doesn’t take more time that I have to set up, and takes very little of my readers time to attend. Probably something digital. Like I said, sometimes the unique opportunities are so unexpected that you can’t fully see the shape of them yet, and have to experiment to get the details right. I plan to start experimenting.

Clockwork Books recommends:

 Idea War 2
 By Abi Godsell

“Today I live in a country that doesn’t exist. Three years ago I was South African. That was before the Global Oil Crisis (When North America and East Asia declared war over fuel). Now I am a citizen of the Sovereign State of Greater Johannesburg, and a freedom fighter and one of five people, four people now, who know that the Chinese Custodial Authority is planning to betray its promises and drag us into the war. Knowledge like that is dangerous, and doing something about it even more so. I’m writing this so that someday, if there’s any world left outside the Civilian Wall that encloses my city, someone will know what really happened.”

This is the second installment in a work of socio-political science-fiction set on the streets of a Johannesburg where the future is now, the rules have changed and nothing is quite as it seems.

Sarah says: The second instalment of Idea War does not disappoint. Made up of six short, interconnected stories that take place during the course of a single day, in this episode we catch up with Callie Baxter and her troupe of teenage rebels, picking up where volume 1 left off, and we’re introduced to a host of new characters. Complex backstories and internal worlds are masterfully presented in Abi’s evocative, philosophical style. The fictional world of post-occupation Joburg is riveting and disturbingly plausible, constructed with incredible attention to detail and imagination. But be warned! This is book 2 of a 4 book series, so many questions still remain to be answered in volumes 3 and 4.

Abi’s Top 3 Self-Editing Tips:

1: Sit down and re-read the thing. It can be scary, especially if its a long time you’ve been working, because you’ll have grown as a writer in the intervening time. That means you will likely end up appalled at the first few paragraphs you’ve put down. Read it anyway, aloud can often be best for picking up weaker craft and sentences that could be better. Read it at least once cover to cover, the same way a reader would, so you don’t lose touch with the flow of the story as a whole.

2: Don’t be afraid to make big changes. Need an extra character? Make them. Need to cut a location entirely? Excise it. Need to take the narrative in a different direction because you’ve learned new cool things and want incorporate them? Make the story better. Yes, it will be a bunch of work, but it won’t be infinite work (see 3), and sometimes putting the needs of the writing above the nervousness about redrafting turns something good into something great.

3: Sometimes the best is the enemy of the good. There is always more editing you can do, the work will never be perfect. Don’t let the need for more editing be a reason to miss opportunities for the story to be read and seen. It will never be perfect, but it will be ready to be read. Learn what that means for you and your stories and act on it. Sometimes its easier to improve on the things you’ve actually done. 



Epilogues and Foreshadowing

Telling stories is all about continuity and resolving cliffhangers. In that spirit, welcome to our Clockwork Community inserts, where we’ll report back on events since last month’s newsletter and let you know what exciting bookish things are coming up.

If you know of something you’d like to see featured here, you know where to find me – hit reply!


The Rage 2017 event was a resounding success receiving almost 36 000 visitors over the course of the weekend. Despite being short a book to launch, this month’s featured author Abi Godsell sold books, wrote tiny stories for readers and interacted with so many people delighted to support local literature. This expo is a great place to get a taste of SA’s geek scene, as well as locally developed games, arts, crafts and books! Hope to see you there in 2018.



The Abantu Book Festival launched last year to resounding success, and I’m delighted that this year the team is back for instalment two. The festival runs from 7 to 10  December 2017 at the Eyethu Lifestyle Centre in Soweto. So far, the annual literature festival for black readers and writers, taking place in South Africa’s artistic heartland, has us waiting with bated breath for a schedule of events, but keep your eyes on this newsletter, and I promise to deliver what I find in November. For now, here are a few of the authors you can expect there: Pumla Dineo Gqola, Sisonke Msimang, Siphiwo Mahala and many more! You can find a full list of authors and more event information by following the link above to the Abantu Book Festival’s web page.
(Click on the logo to visit the website)
Hope to see you there!


Growing books …

Here at Clockwork Books we have something up our sleeve… something that has us so excited that we can’t resist dropping tiny hints about it in the newsletter. We’re not going to tell you everything here, that would be poor tension construction. But if you are a reader of gripping local adventure stories, SET IN RURAL KWAZULU NATAL you should already be getting excited for March 2018. Watch this space!


Isn’t he handsome?
L.G. (as in, ‘Life’s Good!’) is the exclusive provider of high-level catting skills to the Clockwork Books team, and is frequently charged with editing, proofreading, responding to submissions and answering the phone.
Of course he isn’t, but we’d really like it if he was.
His talents include: Excessive Sunbathing, Extra-Wide Yawns, A Green-eyed Stare (sometimes of pure disdain) and a face that you can’t help but fall in love with.

He is also an up and coming member of the Twitteratti with his very own account, wherein he reports on all sorts of important Cat Things.

Like the look of the Clockwork Cat? Want to send him some virtual petting? Follow LG on twitter at  @ClockworkFeline or just hit reply!



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