self publishing

Purist, or Maybe Just a Mule

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I need to get into some sort of routine now. Before, I lived so far away from everything and everyone, I could just bang away at my computer for days without taking much notice of anything at all. Now life seems to be happening all over the place. This is most cool – don’t get me wrong – I just think that a list or two would be in order, so that I don’t lose perspective on what the most important thing to be doing is. Writing. I’ve zoomed through about a thousand emails so far, with about four thousand left to go. You have to be careful with zooming through and just deleting too. I almost missed a couple of important ones.

I think that the pucker scribbling can resume in a day or two. First I have to edit a short story I wrote for an anthology. With an editor. A pucker. Real. Live. Flesh and blood. Editor. I’m about halfway done, and finding the process quite intriguing. I’m managing to distance myself a little from the process, so as not to take anything personally, or have an epic tantrum, as you do. So far I’ve managed to avoid being so chuffed at being picked by any publisher at all and signing any sort of contract that’s come my way. And I haven’t succumbed to handing over any of my scribbles to the couple of small presses that have offered to take them off my hands. Slippery slope that. I’ve either run like hell or hid under the bed when anyone offered to edit anything for me also. Now I don’t have the excuse of not having PayPal anymore, I have no reason at all not to have my very own editor.

It really is fascinating to have a friendly someone with a vested interest take an interest in something you’ve written, look at it from a new and professional perspective, and then make suggestions to improve it. I’ll be tweaking and twisting quite a lot for the rest of the day, following this very sweet editor lady’s suggestions, and then I’ll have a big think about whether I’d ever do such a thing again willingly. If I do, it probably won’t be any time soon. Proof-reader – most definitely, I’ll hire one now, but I don’t know if I’m brave enough to have a permanent editor.

I don’t like being constrained to rules. Sometimes I like to “play” with a story, and write it in an unusual way. I write what I love, the way I like to write, and I think that maybe if I started changing everything around according to established and accepted rules, I’d stop loving my stories. Then I probably wouldn’t write anymore at all, if it became a job with rules.

I don’t understand why it’s so much cooler to have your own publisher anyway these days. Unless it’s some huge place that will have your paper books plonked in stores and libraries across the globe, why on earth would you hand over your earnings to someone else when you can do what they do yourself anyway? All for having their name stamped in the frontspiece of your book? Naah. I don’t think so. I like the clean cut way of having total control of everything. Publish what you want, where you want. Charge as much or a little as you like. Pick your own covers, and write the words you like the way you like.

But the meantime – just for today – I’m basking in the glory of having my very own editor. And so I’d better get back to editing, or I might get into trouble too. Ha haaaa! Scary stuff. Then just a little zoom around my dear old Twitterverse. And a cool catch up on lovely blog awards, I think. I hope my friends will have MORE patience with me as I catch up now. You know I will though. Even though I’ve got the added challenge of avoiding “popping out to shops” now. And don’t get me started on the sweets. Temptations. Temptations.

Till next time friends.

books 1


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Hopefully I’ll get good covers for the Shadow People books with my painting, but I’m losing too much time trying to tweak the picture I started for African Me into something good enough to use for its cover. I’ve only got a few weeks till D-Day, and I still have lots of tweaking to do all over the place. After quite a lot of bad language, and making things that look like this:


I got a tiny grip on how these things work now, and finally managed to make a cover I like.

AM Cover V1 - Copy

It’s totally appropriate to the story, and I think it will translate well on the paper book. I hope so anyway. It’s amazing how much you learn as you cruise along the self-publishing road. When I think of my bright-eyed, bushy-tailed self a year ago, zooming around and just “doing stuff”, I really have a good laugh at my cheek. What I thought was really awesome back then, isn’t so much any more. Blush. Never mind. Learning all the time.

Till next time friends.

The Mighty Jungle

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The closer the publication date for African Me & Satellite TV comes, the more nervous I’m getting. The unusual thing about the editing of this particular book is probably that it’s not typos that worry me as much as getting arrested, stalked and pelted with eggs, or generally attracting the interest of secret agencies around and about.

One of the lightest things about it has been my argument with Princess. Intrepid cook, vocal contributor of gems of knowledge on any subject at all, and loud detractor of any sort of animal abuse. My argument really is her obsession with Gordon Ramsay. I’m fond of watching cooking programmes myself, but my tastes run more to Rick Stein, Guy Fieri, Jamie Oliver, and of course Nigella, mainly for her good taste in footwear. I do admit to enjoying watching Gordon abuse restaurateurs and hotel owners – but that’s only because absolute rudeness and terminally foul language make me giggle. I don’t like his endorsement of certain foods obtained in ways that are unbelievably inhumane – inhuman really. But that’s not what my point is today. Princess refuses to give in and let me change her crush to a less controversial chef. So I suppose I have to accept that we can like people in general without agreeing with all of their beliefs. Simple. Gordon stays.

Not so simple are the rest of the people in this story. Their strong views from all angles on racism from both sides of the fence, and the graphic descriptions of actual and possible events will most certainly draw some flack I’m thinking. I just hope that any powers that be who may perchance lay their hands on a copy will read it right through before hoiking out the handcuffs and heading forth into the African wilds to have a little chat with me about – things. That’s the problem with this proofing. When I say that this story wrote itself, I really mean it, and no matter how hard I try to tweak things in it – only looking out for my innocent hide – it just won’t be tweaked. So. I’ll concentrate on the grammar. And of course the poems. These are not going so well I’m afraid to say. Amazon will be pleased at all my “How To Write Poetry” purchases though. These books haven’t helped at all. Once again these things are writing themselves, and they’re more ode-ish than anything else.

On the subject of Amazon. It has a lot of critics. Writers complain of the percentage of their royalties that big A takes, the removal of reviews and tag buttons, and all sorts of other real or perceived affronts. I still say that the opportunity to instantly publish a book, for all the world to read, is something worth paying for. If agents were lining up at your door, waving fat advance cheques and booking you a slot on Oprah, you probably wouldn’t be using Amazon as your first choice to publish I’m thinking. Having said that, pretty much all of the great and famous writers have their books there now. So you’re in pretty good company. Yes, it requires quite a lot of hard work to even get your book to the notice of readers of the millions of books available out there. But that’s a choice you make. You don’t have to. You could try the traditional route, get discovered, and knock J K Rowling right off her perch. Unlikely for all though.

Imagine for a minute that all the self-publishing houses were to disappear. There would be a lot of dusty manuscripts in bottom drawers, never to be read by a soul. So I bravely say – I really do love Amazon. I don’t mind their cut of my royalties. I don’t mind doing the work. And I love the people who have bought and read my writing. You may not be millions, and I may not be rich and famous, but that’s never been what my trip has been about anyway. If one person reads and enjoys any book I write, then I say my job is done. That’s probably the reason for my blog obsession. I love reading blogs, and probably spend far too many hours of my days doing just that. Without expectation of financial gain bloggers, to me, are classic authors. They write to share what they’re passionate about. They don’t care about “show don’t tell” or “dialogue, dialogue, dialogue!!” So – stop whinging author guys, and appreciate the fact that you have the best job in the world, and the opportunity to share your work with a large chunk of the occupants of that world. Do the work, and with a bit of luck, you will reap the rewards.

Gratitude to Amazon for being my publisher, and kudos also for publishing all the old classics, and leaving them permanently free. It’s nice to know that those stories will never be lost. I love the fact that when I’m just a memory, my books will be there in their virtual home, and my worlds will be visited, and my people heard, long after I’ve laid claim to my personal cloud and harp. I do wonder sometimes about those lonely writers who’ve published books, and then depart this mortal coil unnoticed and un-mourned – it does happen I’m afraid to say. Do their books lurk in Amazon’s maze forever? And who gets their royalties?

AM Cover V1 - Copy (2) Smashwords

Sad Soaks And Rock Stars

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I read an article by a famous multiply published author yesterday, although I’ve totally forgotten his name, so I can’t say who now. My memory is really rotten with names. He said that the reason most authors become miserable drunks is because of the terrible depression that sets in after their first book is published and sells not a single copy in months. That is indeed a depressing thing to say. I don’t think I’ll be swigging gin for breakfast while singing Mr Bojangles quite yet though. Of course I want people to buy and read my books. And thank you to those gorgeous and discerning people who have already bought Shadow People so far. How exciting to think of you guys, wherever you may be, reading it, and travelling to my worlds with me.

As a writer I’m grateful to every single person who reads and enjoys my scribbles. But I really don’t agree with that famous author guy at all. In my circle of indie writer friends there is not one single sad old gin swilling soak that I can see. Well. Not gin swilling for that reason anyway. We writerly folk enjoy the odd tipple just as much as anyone else. They are just a group of hard-working, talented, and inspired people who are doing what they have to do, to share their stories with people who want to read them. I think they “get” that Rome wasn’t built in a day, and not without a bit of spadework also. They’re not miserable either. Just a little tired perhaps from having to learn how to be salesmen (or women). Generally, the tender, creative soul of a writer doesn’t easily embrace that particular profession, most especially when trying to sell her (or him) self. Never let it be said that I am ever politically incorrect. Anyway. The amount of indie writers zooming around the web says success to me, and not desperate depression, whether they sell one book or thousands in any given month.

Maybe I’m wrong, I very often am, but to me it’s logical that no matter what you do to earn a crust, you don’t go from first day newbie to rock star overnight. Even if after all is said and done, you only end up rocking the club scene, and don’t get to open for Gaga, I still see that as success. I don’t see any reason to be depressed when you’re doing what you love, no matter how slow your first book is out of the starting gates. I reckon the main thing is that it’s actually at the gates. That achievement alone is success in my eyes, and if one person really likes your tale, so is that. If one does, more will too. It’s all just in the time.

So, if there really are any pickled pen-pilots out there today, crying into their Absinth’s, I say to you – give it a year, not a day – before you hit the booze and Prozac. And of course, so you can meet those lovely folk who will like what you wrote, join our merry group of Readers, Bloggers and Writers on Google+.

Till next time friends. xxx

Van Gogh pd book