Tuesday 26 February 2013

Seeing the obvious

I've been thinking.

Anyone who knows me would be saying ‘Now, there’s a novelty!’ But bear with me for a few minutes because I want to talk about publishing and self-publishing.

As writers, most of us started by dreaming that one day our books would be filling the shelves of the local book shop, be it a small dusty warren like establishment with a bespectacled  owner sitting on a stool behind a desk reading some exotic or long since out of print edition of a Victorian classic, or a big major player in the book world with their hundreds of staff all sitting behind ‘pay here’ desks and trying to flog you some nearly out of date confection which you can see has been left near the heater too long and instead of the block of chocolate which it should be is now a fluid squidgy excuse for a bar. So why aren’t we there, why isn’t our long worked on project which we have sweated blood to produce gone to that fabled market that is, what is in essence, establishment?

Because, and if there are any publishers/agents reading this then feel free to correct me, is that they are both after sure fire top ten bestsellers, filling a ‘recession’ market that has developed over the last few years, one which they thought that a year ago would be the genre that would take off and sell in their hundreds of thousands. In these times of recession they aren't prepared to take a punt on an unknown author who has written a book which ten years ago would have been snapped up and promoted and marketed until it bled ink, no not nowadays. Yes they are in the business of making money, but where a few years ago they would take a chance, now they are reluctant to even think about taking a chance!

I mean, we write a book and then hope that our ability and talent will shine through and be noticed by one of the big players in the business, but invariably though, it’s not....Why? Because, and I say this guardedly, because sometimes our manuscripts don't land on the right desk at the right time with the occupier of that desk in the right frame of mind. That I think is the reality, because I have read a few indie authors offerings, and by and large they are of equal standard or even better than some of the traditionally published books, but it didn’t fit the market at the time of submitting. So what hope is there for the vast majority of writers who are talented, but without the means or the reputation or the celebrity to interest an agent or publisher at this time?

Self-publishing, that’s all that’s left.

We have all read the work of people who have jumped on the bandwagon and pumped out books on a weekly basis, but the standard at times can be appalling. Does the cream always rise to the top? I don’t think so. I know there are some who have always said that they want to go the self-publishing route so that no-one skims the 20% off the top of their earnings, but I suspect that that is only because their cupboards are still full of rejection letters and that they have a particular axe to grind. I might be wrong there, and some authors might genuinely have wanted to go down this route, and if they have then I hope they’re successful, but.....I’m not sure. I certainly would prefer a big publishing house to get behind me and do all the promoting and marketing, something which I know most of us are not good at.

A lot of good books will sit in the bowels of amazons data base, proverbially just under the old sock that has fallen behind the water heater, covered in dust and cobwebs and being slowly cooked to destruction, not because it’s a bad book, but because no-one knows it’s there. Part of that problem is the fact that the indie market is flooded, so how can the cream rise?

Let people know it’s there!

Obvious isn't it.

Monday 18 February 2013

A Very British Blog Tour


I've been tagged by Very British Author Geoffrey West to write this blog, you can see Geoffrey's blog at http://geoffreywestdotcom.wordpress.com/2013/02/15/a-very-british-blog/

Q. Where were you born and where do you live at the moment?
I was born is a small village in Buckinghamshire, in a small two up two down cottage, opposite a pub. Now I live in Bedfordshire, after living for most of my life in Hemel Hempstead Hertfordshire.

Q. Have you always lived and worked in Britain or are you based elsewhere at the moment?
I have always lived in the UK, though in my mind’s eye I’ve wandered around a bit.

Q. Which is your favourite part of Britain?
The West Country, particularly Exmoor. Love the scenery, the walks and the peace. Also have a fondness for the west coast of Scotland....and the west coast of Ireland.(not exactly Britain, but near by)

Q. Have you ‘highlighted’ or ‘showcased’ any particular part of Britain in your books? For example, a town or city; a county, a monument or some well-known place or event?
As my book is fantasy I haven’t showcased any City, although Gornstock has a remarkable similarity to London...........!

Q. There is an illusion – or myth if you wish – about British people that I would like you to discuss. Many see the ‘Brits’ as ‘stiff upper lip’. Is that correct?

If you mean by ‘stiff upper lip’ as being resourceful in adversity, the ability to pull together in difficult times, and application of the Great British sense of humour, then yes, it’s still there. However, the class thing.....Well, in my working life as a paramedic I once asked a nob what I should call him, and he said Sir. I replied that ‘that was a strange christian name to be given, my name by the way is Clive, but you can call me Mister.’ It didn’t go down well....but he learnt pretty quickly that I was the one who could relieve his pain....if I wanted to....

Q. Do any of the characters in your books carry the ‘stiff upper lip’? Or are they all ‘British Bulldog’ and unique in their own way?

My characters have a bit of everything in them, but most of all they are vulnerable. Even though I write in a fantasy world, they are in essence brits, with all the faults and foibles associated with us.

Q. Tell us about one of your recent books
Banker’s Draft is my first published book, a fantasy detective story based in a world not dissimilar from our own, albeit without modern technology. I was planning to write an historical detective story, but sort of got sidetracked. The M.P’s expenses scandal hit the headlines and I wanted to highlight their, and of course the bankers, greed and ineptitude.  

Q. What are you currently working on?
The second Gornstock novel, with the working title of Gornstock, the return. The name for the book will become apparent as I write it, but it will feature many of the characters you have already met.   

Q. How do you spend your leisure time?
Family, sport, pub.....nuff said?

Q. Do you write for a local audience or a global audience?
I write what I would like to read, and I hope that the audience, wherever and whoever, will share my likes. Irony and cynicism are the glue that seems to join it all together though, but I hope that my writing will appeal to anyone with a quirky black sense of humour. 
Q. Can you provide links to your work?


Below are some other authors who have taken the tour:-

Jane Isaac

Thursday 14 February 2013

Amazon Breakthrough awards

Earlier on I found that Banker's Draft has got through to the second round of amazons breakthrough novel award. I had to look twice when I saw my name on the list as I didn't believe my luck the first time! I know it's still only the early stages, but when a bunch of professional people think that your work is worth considering, it makes you glow all over.

So, my night is already made up. Valentines day, and going through. Two reasons for opening a bottle of wine!

Review of Blue Lights and Long Nights

This particular book jogged a lot of memories for me. I joined the ambulance service just a couple of years after the author, and despite being in a different part of the country, and on a rural station, I immediately recognised the characters, the situations, and the practical jokes. Ambulance people are the same everywhere.

The easy style of writing coupled with an accurate depiction of ambulance life at that time made me wallow in nostalgia. Anyone interested in true life books should find this a must read, it is slightly sanitised for public consumption, but believe me, you get an inkling of what the bad stuff is all about. The funny stuff does happen, frequently. His colleagues? Yep, them too, all real, and those types of characters are still in the service.

All in all I enjoyed reading this immensely, and will shortly go and get the sequel.  

Friday 1 February 2013

Review of Drusilla Blood by Miriam Cooke

The story revolves around two women, Edith and Drusilla, Edith from the early 1900’s and Drusilla from the early 2000’s.

Outwardly prim and proper we find that there is a hidden depth to Edith, a feisty individual with an independent mind.  When four friends decide to have a séance they think that it’s just a harmless bit of fun, but they end up biting off more than they can chew when they unleash an entity that reverberates down through time. What has been unleashed has an impact that nobody could have envisaged; when Edith played with fire she had no idea how burnt she would get.

Drusilla works in a new age shop although her first love is archaeology. Her personal life has more downs than ups and when she breaks up with her latest boyfriend her boss suggests a weekend at a festival might be just the thing for her. The problem for Drusilla was that it was certainly the start of something. 
The story of the two women is told in parallel, built layer upon layer, the tale unfolds as the author cleverly mixes the two viewpoints. The writing style flows effortlessly and together with good characterisation encourages you to turn the page. When she delves into the paranormal you get a character full of menace whose preferred activity made me wince more than once.

When comparing this work to others better known in the same genre, you can’t help but think of Stephen King or James Herbert. In times to come the name Miriam Cooke would stand well alongside.

Horror and paranormal fans will love this book, and I for one am eagerly awaiting the next offering from the author.