indie publishing

Wandering thoughts of a Writer

I have the honour of having my new book featured on the blog of my friend and fellow author Rebekkah Ford, author of Beyond the Eyes Trilogy and Tangled Roots. She has a great blog, with loads of interesting interviews, book spotlights and articles. Hop on over and have a browse.

Book Feature – Fetish ~ Sinclair V-Log BY915/M – click here

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Write for Readers – Don’t Write for Writers

Readers and writers are two very different animals.  I know, I’ve been both, and am now just a writer.

What I mean is, as an author, you need to constantly remind yourself who you are writing for.  Hopefully, unless you’re writing ‘how to write’ books, you are writing primarily for people who love to read.  Yes, I know writers also read books, but this blog is about the difference in perception from those who write but also read, from those who read but don’t write.

The vast majority of those who read books, don’t write them, and the way they will engage with, and react to your work, is very different from the way another writer will engage with and react to it.  Your job as an author is to please those who read, not those who write.  Remember that.

Give a writer and a non writer a copy of the same book and ask them to review it.  You will get two totally different approaches.

The writer will comment on your grammar, spelling, the depth (or lack thereof) of your characters, your narrative being too wordy (or not wordy enough), plot holes and continuity errors, lack of attention to detail etc etc etc.  Whilst all this is useful to know so that you can improve your writing in the future, it’s not the be all and end all.

Those who read but don’t write will give you different feedback.  They will say how much they enjoyed it (or didn’t), whether they liked the characters or not, whether the story engaged them or bored them.  They might say how keen they are to read your next book, and they might also point out a few spelling/grammar errors if they’re obvious ones.

See the difference?

An important point to remember is that another writer will always have their editing head on, and will always notice the errors first.  As far as most authors are concerned, simply liking the story or characters is not important.  They are the ones who will say spelling and grammatical errors are deal breakers when it comes to buying a book.  Those who just read and don’t write, tend not to regard the odd spelling mistake or grammar faux pas as the end of the world, enjoying the story is paramount for them.

Another thing worth remembering is that other authors will always regard you as a rival for their customers, and many will enjoy pointing out every little mistake you made, in order to make their own work appear superior to yours, and their knowledge all the greater.  Of course I know not all are so calculating, but many are.  I see so many authors wanting the approval of other writers before they feel worthy of self publishing, and seldom do they realise or remember that it is readers they’re after, and most readers don’t write books.

Of course you should make sure your work is as free from errors as possible, that goes without saying, (or it should), but it’s not more important than creating a story and characters that people will enjoy.  Your first concern is what readers want and stuff other authors’ opinions.

I also see authors spending a lot of time networking on social media with other authors, and I must admit that the vast majority of my twitter followers are other authors.  I fail to understand why they think networking with me is going to help them sell their books, as I’ve no intention of buying 99.9% of them, but still they add me in droves every day.  It is getting difficult to find ordinary readers on social media now, and all of my attempts to find them on twitter have failed.  I have to assume that those who read but don’t write, aren’t on twitter.

It is not important that other authors like you or your work, other than the exchanging of information that does sometimes take place between writers.  Tips on formatting, marketing strategies, the best software for making video trailers and other nuts and bolts stuff is useful, but don’t waste time trying to impress them with your work.  They will never will impressed until you are famous for your writing and they are still trying to make it.  Then they’ll be all over you like a cheap suit.

I’m not trying to put authors against each other, but I am trying to explain perspective.  So many  authors (myself included) have become despondent because other authors don’t seem too impressed with their work, but it is not other authors who will buy it.  Authors will happily review your work, if you give them a free copy, but they don’t often buy it.  Again, I know there are a few who do, so no hate mail please.

99.9% of the population don’t write books and never will, and it is those people whose opinions matter most, those people you should aim to please and those whose affections you should be courting – if you can find them.

But that’s a whole other problem.

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As a self published author, one has to constantly run the gauntlet of snobbish opinion as to traditional vs self publishing.  This is a tiresome task and one that never goes away no matter what we do.  No matter how carefully we proof read and edit, no matter how much money we spend on cover art, no matter how many beta readers we send our manuscripts to and no matter how many re-writes we do, our work will always be regarded as shit because it’s not been traditionally published.

This subject came up again on facebook just now, when some knob-head made the following comment,

“Self-published authors are exactly that, self-published.  This is almost like arguing what the difference is between art and garbage.”

We all know there is a glut of badly edited trash out there from self published authors who should never have thought about putting their shit out there, let alone actually doing it, and we all know that the good stuff is buried under this mountain of trash, making it very difficult for our work to be found by readers.  We also know that these trash writers give us good writers a bad name and are responsible for this stigma that plagues us.

The sticking point for me, and the one thing I cannot get past without getting angry, is that my work is judged by those who have never read it.  No one has the ability to know whether my work is shit or solid gold without reading it first, and my opinion is that until they do, they should shut up and keep their asinine opinions to themselves.  When I commented to this effect, on the same thread as the comment above, I was then told, “I’m not risking money and time on something I don’t trust. You have to earn that chance, you aren’t entitled to it. You do this via marketing yourself. (Of note, angry rants do not help your case.)” To anyone who believes that since I self publish my own work, I do not have the right to express my exasperation, I say this,

“Fuck you.”

My ability to express my feelings has no effect whatsoever, either detrimental or otherwise, to my written work and if you think it does, then you’re probably not the kind of person I would wish for as a reader.  You had probably better stay inside and carry on with your knitting and siamese cats, I’ve got gritty novels to write for readers with an educated and open mind.

In my humble opinion, it is people such as those I mentioned above, that are killing writing and not authors self publishing their own work.  Whilst badly edited work does annoy readers, opinions such as those outlined above do much damage to talented authors trying to get their work out there to those minds waiting to receive it and enjoy it.  It is these talentless and blinkered troglodytes who are hindering the evolution of writing/publishing, not authors missing the odd comma or misspelling there/their/they’re.

As those of us with a few brain cells know, there is no benefit to being traditionally published these days.  They may (may) give you a small advance, but they keep 80% of your royalties, they do no marketing for you and you get no say about the cover art.  A traditional publishing house will demand you present them with a fully outlined marketing plan before they consider offering you a contract and you will be expected to do all the leg work in getting your work out there.  Self published authors keep up to 70% of their own royalties and have total control over cover art, and still do their own marketing/promotion etc.  There are many editors out there advertising their services if you don’t have the knowledge or confidence to do it yourself, so self publication need never be the poor relation of the writing family.

Times without number I find spelling errors and other simple mistakes in traditionally published works by well known authors, but never have I seen comments about how bad this is, nor how this should not be tolerated etc.  No, the opinions are always about how self published authors are the street urchins amongst the traditionally published earls and duchesses.  Until this changes, the writing/publishing world will never evolve as we know it is currently trying to do.

No rest for the wicked (or the writer)

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Christmas is a busy time of year for most people.  The rush of present buying, food preparing, house decorating and relative visiting is enough to wear anyone out.  It’s the same for  me, though on a smaller scale.  Mother is coming to stay this year and I’ve already got her presents bought and wrapped.  I’ve got presents bought and sent to my friend in Florida and have just one more present to buy.  Food shopping will be done online once mother arrives and I never bother with decorations.  Yes I’m a bit of a humbug, sue me.

Christmas is busy for me this year for another reason, I’m an author.  I’ve been bent, nose to grindstone during November, writing a novel for Nanowrimo.  This was finished yesterday, yippee.  I’ve also been editing, formatting and publishing an anthology of my horror stories, which came out a few days ago, double yippee.  Now I have to set to work on proofing and editing the next novel, which I wrote during this summer’s camp Nano and which I hope to release in March.  I will also have a book to format and cover design for an author friend over Christmas.  I also have a part time job to hold down.  Phew, I thought the holiday season meant you got a rest.

Nano 2013 update, Promotion decision, and other stuff

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How’s everyone getting on with nano?  I’ve passed the 50k and feel justly proud of myself.  The third volume in The Sinclair V-Logs is taking shape nicely and I estimate that I’m three quarters the way through.  Doing nano is great for self discipline, and it’s wonderful to see how creative you can be, even when you’re forcing yourself.  This book will, I hope, be published in early Summer 2014.

Promotion, sorry for swearing, is a dirty word for indie authors.  It’s worse than fuck, whore, balls and cunt combined and I wince every time I read it, hear it or have to write it.  I’m not a natural saleswoman and don’t pretend to be.  I find selling myself, my brand and my books, very hard indeed.  I have tried though but being financially destitute has prevented me from taking advantage of most internet promotion options.

For a while  now, I’ve welcomed other authors to this blog for tours, spotlights and releases, but until recently, I’d never done one myself.  A few weeks ago, I decided to try my first blog tour to promote my last release, Bygora Vandos and advertised for hosts all over my social media.  I even did a blog here asking for hosts or help.

Here are the results.

I wanted to do the tour for fourteen days, with a different blog on each day, as has become the norm for such tours.  I had two weeks notice before the start date and up until the first day, just five (5) people offered to host me.  Of those five, only two offered me the link to the piece voluntarily; all of the others didn’t bother and I had to go searching for the post.  Another person of the five didn’t bother to do the post at all, and only one further person updated me with blog stats (number of visits etc) and promised to promote the post on other social media.  One of the people who did the post, didn’t bother to put up the post until late afternoon, leaving me with just a couple of hours to find it and then post the link on my own social media.  All but one, didn’t bother to promote the post on their other social media.  None of the people I have ever hosted were among the five mentioned above who offered to host me.

The blog I posted here asking for help got no response at all.  Thanks for nothing..!

To put it mildly, I was extremely disappointed in the lack of interest and help by other authors, and this experience has led me to make two decisions.

I shall never host another author on my blog, ever again.

I shall no longer bother trying to promote my own work.

I shall concentrate on writing books.  I shall publish them as I usually do on all the usual platforms, and I shall do a blog here announcing it, facebook and twitter.  Beyond that, I shall do no promotion at all.  There is no point in trying to get my voice heard above all the bored housewives with money who churn out trash erotica and romance by the bucket load, when other authors actively try to block my voice by boycotting me.  I shall put my energies into writing, and since I write books worth reading, a rarity in this compost heap that is the self published world, my total focus will be put to good use.

In short, what I want to say to other authors is, Fuck You..!

The third bit of news is that my horror story anthology will hopefully be released on Dec 6th.  I’m waiting for cover art at this very moment, everything else is done and finished.  I’m looking forward to this, it’s been a long time in the making and it has been done with the help of my facebook friends, many of whom star in the stories.  I dedicate this book to them, my murderers, psychos, weirdos, crazies and victims.

Why I feel like I’m split in two

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I’ve recently released my seventh novel, Bygora Vandos ~ Sinclair V-Log LB734/A which you can investigate here, and as is the norm on such occasions, I’ve been trying to promote it.  I’ve done all the things a destitute author does at such times; constant updates on my facebook author page, regular tweeting, blogging here etc and, as usual, the ripples I’ve managed to create have been underwhelmingly, laughingly small.

This time however, I decided to try something I’ve never done before and see if it makes a difference.  Over the past few months, I’ve welcomed authors here on my blog to spotlight their new releases, but I’ve never done a blog tour myself.  So I thought I’d have a go this time, after all, it doesn’t cost me any money, right?

I decided to try a modest run with this, so I opted for a fourteen day tour, starting on October 29th.  I’ve been advertising for hosts several times a day on facebook and twitter and I blogged about it here, even asking people to reblog my post here if they couldn’t be bothered to actually host me properly.

So far, I’ve had five people offer to host me.  Yes, just five (5).  Out of the thousands of authors I am connected to via facebook, twitter, google+, linkedIn and everywhere else on the internet, only five people could be bothered to offer to host me?  Seriously?  Are indie authors so up their own asses that they think they can afford to be so arrogant and selfish?

Yes, they are.

The more I connect with indie authors, the less proud I am to be one.  In fact, the others make me ashamed to be one of them.  When I think of all the flack we have to put up with from trad published authors, the stigma of self publishing, attacks from those who think their opinions matter, I am saddened to find out that my greatest enemy comes from within the indie community,  not without.

Not content with producing badly written trash and openly plagiarised content/titles/characters, they then feel justified in using any and every tactic they can think of, to bring down the competition and prevent other indie authors reaching an audience desperate for something readable at last.  The lack of quality of their work stands for itself.  Today I saw one author on facebook proudly displaying the new cover for their latest release (which they laughingly call a ‘book’ but which is really only 20k words long.  More of a pamphlet my dear!)  I don’t think I’ve seen a book cover so amateurish.  It’s almost embarrassing to look at it and I pray that person never asks me what I think of it, because I hate to lie, I really do.

I’m at the stage now where I don’t lack confidence in the quality of my writing, but I’ve also come to the conclusion that I am ashamed to be an indie author, simply because it means I’m lumped in with ‘them.’  I now wish I was trad published, and I’ve even considered forming my own publishing company, just to produce my own books.  This will enable me to take a step away from ‘them’ and their culture of sabotage, lies and fraud.  From purchasing reviews, offering ‘prizes’ in return for sales/reviews, deliberately refusing to help other authors get the word out, posting bad reviews of other authors’ books, and all the other dubious practices they indulge in, I want no part of it.

I may only have five souls with vision and discernment enough to host me, but those five are worth ten thousand of the rest of ‘them.’  They know there is room on the shelf for everyone’s book, that this business is about producing work of quality that can not only entertain people, but can change lives.  My work will be doing that long after I’m dead and gone, it will be doing that long after the rest of the trash has fallen to the bottom of the charity shop bargain bin, and long after the flames that consume its pages warms the hands of street bums down under the freeway.

That’s the thing ‘they’ never quite get.  It’s not about making money or being famous, it’s about creating something magnificent and life changing, that is worthy of its place in the universal consciousness forever. I’m doing that, with or without a blog tour.

WH Smith removing all self published ebooks

I just found out that WH Smith has taken down their website while they remove all self published ebooks from their site.  Apparently, they get some of their ebooks from Kobo, one of their partners, and some self published authors have been ignoring the ‘decency’ rules by using these platforms to publish content containing rape, incest and bestiality.

You can read a BBC report about it here.

On one hand, I can see their point.  Does incest, rape and bestiality really make a good work of fiction?  Why in the world anyone would want to write a book about bestiality, is totally beyond me but, it takes all sorts to make a world I guess.  I wouldn’t want to read such stuff, especially as I was a child victim of incest myself, but does that mean no one should be allowed to?

On the other hand, is this just another example of the nanny state gone mad?  Rape and incest happen, every day, all over the world and stopping people from including it in works of fiction, might be construed as censorship on steroids.  There are ways to infer rape and incest in a storyline, without giving readers a gut-wrenching blow by blow account, and in so doing, keep the story within bounds without taking the realism out of it.

WH Smith is a Newsagent, and they sell newspapers and magazines, including ‘top shelf’ men’s smut rags.  Surely, if they want to remove all ‘dirty stuff’ they should stop selling these too?  And, furthermore, I’ll bet fifty quid of anyone’s money that there are numerous traditionally published titles that also feature rape and incest.  Possibly not bestiality though, do people really write about that?  Seriously?  Anyway, are they going to remove the trad pubbed smut too?  They damn well better, or there will be a riot.

Negative Reviews – the worst way to handle them

I normally pay no more than a moment’s attention to most of the posts by other authors on facebook.  Ninety nine percent of the time they’re just trying to sell me their shit, which I have no intention of buying anyway, so I glance and jog on to the pics of half naked men with washboard abs and funny animal videos.  Now and again though, I see something that so enrages me, that I have to respond, even though I know my response will not only fall on deaf ears, but will probably lose me my kneecaps.  No matter, I prefer to speak up with universal wisdom and risk losing them, than keep silent and condone such behaviour.

In one of the writer’s groups I belong too (although maybe not for much longer) I saw this post.

“Hey all ***(name)*** just got this stupid one star review can we get some vote downs.”  A link to an Amazon review was attached.

The review is this.

“The story was a good one, kept you reading. However, to me it was poorly written. It was hard to keep up with the characters at times because of the way the story jumped from one scene to another before you realize it. I especially disliked the way the little boy, Joel, was written as to his baby talk.

I have never read a book that described a dog’s bark as “Bufgr”. This was just comical to me. Not a major problem with the book.”

Now, this review is not disrespectful in any way, it does not include name calling or swear words and never encourages other potential readers not to buy the book.  It is honest, well written and candid.  This person obviously spent money buying the book (the ebook version of which is nearly $4) and has exercised his/her right to give their honest opinion on it.  After all, we do live in a society that claims to encourage freedom of speech.  Indeed, the reviewer even compliments the book as being a good story.

Asking your author buddies to immediately go and vote down a review, simply because you don’t like it is not only unprofessional, but it also says a lot about your moral standards as both a person and an author.  That worries me and makes me determined never to buy any of your books.  I not only have to enjoy the book I’m reading, but I also have to respect you as a person.  I’m funny like that, I have standards.

The world of book reviews has become so sullied in recent times, with sock puppets, paid reviews and now this type of ‘vote rigging’ by authors and it makes me less desirous of getting reviews for my own work, or at least makes me care a little less about whether I get them or not.

When people pay money for our product, they have  a right to voice their opinion of said product, and whether we like what they have to say or not, is beside the point and of no consequence.  That is the joy of living in a society where freedom of speech is encouraged.  I applaud this reviewer for voicing their opinion in such an honest but unemotional way, and for avoiding name calling and other such undignified behaviour so often seen these days.

The more I associate with other authors, the less I respect them.

When you get a low star review, as we all do from time to time, simply ignore it.  Do not respond and certainly do not resort to this kind of ‘vote rigging’ as it only makes the paying public all too well aware of the depths to which you will happily sink, in order to fool them into thinking your product is worth their money.  What makes it worse is that the person who made the request, claims to be a religious man.

You, Sir, are an ass..!

Summer Drought Sales-Wise?

It’s that time of year.  The time when our book sales traditionally slump.  I guess people are too busy sunning themselves on some chav infested beach to worry about buying books, so we must expect a dry spell during the summer.  That’s okay if your normal sales are healthy, but for those of us stragglers who delight in every single occasional sale, this time of year can make you wonder whether you’re in the wrong trade.

I’m trying to push my lack of sales to the back of my mind.  I’m editing my next release, I have just finished a new novel for Camp Nano, and with just four more stories to write to finish my horror story anthology, I’ve plenty to do.  I’ve also started a new health regime, and am trying to eat less, and more healthily, and now work out every day.  So far I’ve lost five pounds and can almost see my own pubic hair again for the first time in years.

Roll on Autumn, when folks are back from their hols and ready to start reading again.

New Promo Video – Acts of Life

I’ve made a little promotional video for my latest novel, Acts of Life.  I found this great online place called Stupeflix and the whole process is so easy and quick, much less farting about than Windows Movie Maker.  You can choose from their large music collection and the site automatically makes the music fade at the end of your video.  Plans start from as little as $5 per month and I think it’s worth it if you like doing videos to promo your books.  I’ve been wanting to update the videos I did for The Lilean Chronicles but the thought of faffing around with Windows Movie Maker again has put me off.  Now I shall be doing them within days at Stupeflix. Here’s the video, I hope you enjoy it.