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Review Experiment Part 2

I did it, I have self published Ward Five to Kindle. Why? I hear you ask, It’s simple really. It is the best way of gaining reader feedback and exposure to a wider audience.

In January of this year, I had the best positive feed back I have had since I almost had a screenplay made for television when I was eighteen that sadly fell through due to funding. I had an offer from a publisher!

The offer, to start was a partnership offer, through my research this seems quite popular nowadays, in the ever changing world of publishing and the accessibility of peoples works. This approach makes sense to me, it means you take on some of the risk in costs whilst getting started. You are then released in a smaller area to gauge the audiences appetite and you build from there. The feedback I received from this publisher regarding the story of Ward Five was invaluable to me but the unfortunate reality was, it was badly timed, January was a busy month. My partner and I became parents, the car died and needed replacing. Actually, the car died on the way to the hospital when my partner was in labour but that is its own little story! And it meant i found myself in the situation where i just couldn’t realistically find or commit to the proposed fee, which in fairness appeared quite reasonable. So I had to decline the offer.

I started thinking, if i could get one offer I could get another but one of the things publishers seem to want is a crystal ball prediction that they’re on to a good investment. I can’t give them that, surely no-one can, but what if, I could at least build upon my small data set of feedback that I had gathered from my first review experiment. What if i could gain enough input from real readers, real everyday people, not just a person sat in an office projecting personal preference on to a manuscript. Hence reason 1 as to how I ended up pursuing another self published project.

Reason 2 is a little more personal and is kind of two fold. I never self promote to people I know, it’s this little hang up I have, I get embarrassed and don’t want to look like an idiot to people who matter to me and in some cases to people who don’t even matter to me, it’s one of my vulnerabilities where peoples opinions mean something. So, for the most part, I keep it hidden and don’t talk about the passion I’ve had since I learnt to read and write. I envy friends of mine who share their passions so energetically, positively & confidently. I think of one in particular, who is a great musician and likes to share his new compositions with me to get an opinion, he does Instagram live sessions singing his own material and no he is not famous or a professional, although I believe like me with writing, that would always be the dream. I admire him for that confidence to be able to put him and his work out there in the ways he does, I wish he could bottle it and sell it to me.

And then, there is my sister who has struggled immensely with Anxiety and then this week, she posted this on her Instagram

For those that are now squinting at their screens it reads:

“The brightest star in the room can be the one who hurts the most. Since January I have struggled with my panic attacks more than ever I have had therapy, missed endless days of work, scratched my face and stomach to shreds trying to breathe. Yet still I had an interview got a promotion throughout all of this. I’ve shown the world how I love to sing and if you don’t know me personally you would have no idea. Remember the biggest smiles can hide a thousand fears”

You will also notice that there’s hashtag #mentalhealthawarenessweek which links me to the second part of my reason two. It is the main theme that runs through this story, it affects everyone you know and everyone you don’t and in this weird point in history whilst we’re all in lock down it is affecting everyone in the most profound ways. So, Mental health awareness week in the UK seemed like a no brainer to me, to attempt to both over come my own fears and anxieties and share this story in this way.

Paperback Version

So please have a read, write a review. It is only

Kindle Version

available on Kindle at this moment in time, please ignore the cover of the Kindle version its only temporary until I decide whether to release the paperback or if, judging by the reviews i just need to go back to the drawing board on the entire story!

The Review Experiment

20191106_180755I’ve had a finished manuscript for a very, very long time now. I have literally just been sat on it debating its future.

This piece of work is different, it means something different to my previous attempts, it’s in a style I have never attempted before and in a genre I’ve never dared dabble in. I feel like I have more of me riding on this than my previous attempts, because of this, as discussed in a previous post, I had toyed with the idea of a pseudonym. It was a serious consideration, if this meant more to me and my previous attempts were failures, why would I take the same chance with this one and put my name against it to open myself up to the ridicule and embarrassment.

I decided I could use, that ridicule and embarrassment as a tool, as I believe i20191106_180802ts meant to be. Aside from what I felt about the experience there were valuable lessons learnt by those previous attempts and fundamentally, I had always declared that’s what I wanted from my self publishing experiment. To understand and learn the process of publishing a book. I did that.

It occurred to me, if the purpose was to learn from the process, what I should be doing now is gathering data, to hone my own process. That’s when I had an idea for a little experiment. What if I could make my work better before I took it to the masses?

When you go shopping for a book, you always see quotes from other authors, on the cover, complimenting the novel. A little sound bite from world famous authors telling you how amazing they found the story or the writing or some other marketing ploy to draw you in. To make you think, “Wow JK Rowling thinks this book is amazing I should read it.”

20191106_180824Now, I admit, I to am drawn in by this marketing technique and if I’m honest most of the time I enjoy the book but the rest of the time I think was that person on drugs when they read this, it’s rubbish! As I have also discussed in a previous post, everyone has different tastes, everyone is looking for something different and everyone interprets something to meet their own narrative at that point in their life. Admittedly I would be less interested, as a reader, if, on a book cover I saw, “amazing, intricate story, it had me on the edge of my seat – John Smith from Skegness” BUT as an author, I am interested in what the general public think.

This got me thinking, what if I could acquire some honest reviews of my material before it was even published. What if I could get some worth while feedback to give me an indication of whether it was a hit or miss.

That thought led me to this, The Review Experiment. It’s not hard, it’s not complicated, it’s just to gather data. I have printed 20 proof copies of my new work, Ward Five. I will be conveniently leaving 20 copies in places where people may happen across it.

All I want the reader to do is 3 simple things:

1 – Read It

2 – Pass It On

3 – Leave Feedback.

I will run this for 6 months and after that I will collate all the feedback, take it all on board and make a decision on what to do with Ward Five.

So, I need your help, if you come across a copy I would be so grateful to receive your opinion. Watch this space for some direct quotes and the results of my little experiment.

HAPPY READING

Can I hide from me?

pseudonyms-wordplayI did something brave at the weekend, well, brave for me. I gave a friend my recent work to read. Obviously People read my work all the time, when I submit to agents for example but they are strangers to me. Their negative or constructive feedback can’t hurt me in the same way as the people I know and have respect for.

Being naturally paranoid, makes me very closed off from sharing with the people close to me, my friends. It’s the fear of judgement from people whose opinion matters to me. You should think that they are the people I should feel most comfortable with but that’s never been the case, I can give speeches in front of a room of strangers with no issues what so ever, you put me in a room with colleagues, friends and family, I fall to pieces.
This has caused me to think further about the concept of writing under a Pseudonym. I’ve always been intrigued by authors who write under a different pen name. Why do they do it? What’s the benefit? Do they like the anonymity? Does it protect them from feeling vulnerable? Would it have stopped me feeling so hesitant about self publishing had I had written under a pseudonym with my first book?
I recently started to build a persona I would write under should i choose to make the decision to go down the Pseudonym route. It’s a strange concept because right now, I can become anyone, it’s like I’m writing my own character in to my own story, it’s quite an exciting concept. At the same time there’s something nagging at me, although this is fun, I am hiding from what makes me vulnerable, which is why I carefully considered handing over my work to a friend. It becomes a question of trust, a person can hold a lot of power over you when you expose yourself but I guess that’s what we do every time we lay down words to page, writing exposes us. It exposes your desires and demons, your dark side and your inner hero.
These doubts and hesitations are surely the things that ordinarily a person would take and use, to grow, to build on confidence and skills. Realising where your weaknesses are and accepting them does not make that a weakness in itself. Right?
To be honest as I self published a book to understand the process of doing so, publishing under a pseudonym sounds like something I would do as an experiment, just to see, how different it is. I don’t mean different in the physical process I mean different psychologically as a writer, that could be a fun. Maybe I’ll try it with my next one. How else do I get answers to my questions. If anyone out there does have an opinon on this, or does write under a pseudonym please do contact me, I’d love to pick your brain.

It’s started….. the nerves

BLOG 1I’ve done it, I’ve started the, approaching agents process. It’s strange, I feel incredibly sick!! I actually feel like I do before a job interview. Which is crazy because I’m not going for an interview. I’m not talking directly to these individuals. I’m simply sending a covering letter, synopsis and the first three chapters of my new project, Ward Five. (I know, I’ve revealed nothing about it to you guys until now and for now that’s all you’re getting, the Title!!)

So why do i feel so nervous? If I had to guess I would say it is because of the nature of the work. It is not Fantasy/Sci-fi which we all know I geek over as a way of life. It is just normal life stuff, no other worlds, no special powers, no weird creatures. Just regular human beings, a drama I guess, very different to my self published works of The Break and Concordia. They were an element of my imagination and fun; Ward Five is my heart.

I would say the experience of self publishing has taught me a significant amount, not only about the process of publishing but about my writing. Ward Five has allowed me to use a different voice for the protagonist that i would never has normally have chosen. It allowed me to know them more and this has made me a better writer. Even I see, not only a new style to my writing, but a higher quality.

I will revisit fantasy again at some point but I thought to be a good writer, you should be able to explore different genres and different styles. Find your own voice as well as your characters.

I think that’s why I feel nervous putting it out there to be judged by agents because it means something to me and it should. Everything that makes you feel passion, should mean something to you.

I just wanted to update you all on where I’m at. Watch this space for more updates, maybe even a snippets of Ward Five or maybe just ranting and off loading about all the rejections that inevitably come with this process. There’s going to be some some blood and tears on the way folks.

As always thanks for reading!!!

Brutally Honest With Myself

Try the new Yahoo Mail

What’s going down?

Yeah, I’ve been a little quiet; OK, I’ve been a bit of a recluse for some time now and I’ll be honest with you, at this point in time I can’t promise I will blog regularly but I will try and make it more than once a year!!! (Note, these images are what distracts me!!)

I was always very open about my self publishing being an experiemnt to me. I wanted to understand the process. I’m obssesed by understanding processes, how something works; to me, everything has an explanation and a reason for being and working and the A to B stuff fanscinates me. I like questions and problem solving.

But, the only thing I love more is a good story, a story that makes people feel something, anything and I think my self published work did achieve that. Even now if you’ve read one or both stories and thinking they were rubbish, you’re still feeling something aren’t you??!!!

However, in my haste to tell a good story as stated in one of my previous blogs Lessons Learnt, I neglected other things which is what caused so many mixed reviews. People loving the story but hating the insanely pour spelling, grammar and sentance structure which distracted from the story. I hear you, not good, not professional.

I’m currently working on a new project. In fact, even though I have been completely dormant in the world of blogging over the last year, I have actually been working on said project. It’s different to The Break and Concordia it’s not Fantsy/Sci-fi. I made the decision to write those stories based on my personal prefences and fan girl personality I Love Fantasy and Sci-fi and anyone who knows me would describe me as a Geek (loud and proud!!) but this new project is something I have been wanting to write since I was younger, it is my soul.

That’s why, I want to pitch to agents with this one. I want to go traditional and to do that I want to do something i never did with my maiden voyage of The Break nor Concordia for that matter. I would like to engage with Beta readers. Now, I could go down the professional Beta Reader route but I think what I want to do is open it up to you guys. You guys that have purchased, read and been honest about my previous attempts. You guys that will probably want to be the first to read my next attempt.

The only question now is how do I do that? Should I randomly select some followers and ask if you would like to give your feedback on my material, do I want me to just post the first three chapters I would send to agents on my blog for you all to comment on or do you want to voluenteer to help me out? Obviously I would site any beta readers in my acknowledgements, should I be successful in securing an agent and ultimately a publisher this time round.

Bottom line, I have a new perspective and a new goal to keep me focused, I’ve rebranded the blog and will be working on building back up my online platform which I have neglected over the last couple of years and I need your help. So, who’s game?

Planned Journey Against Actual Journey

I was chatting to a good friend today and our conversation started me thinking about how we made it to certain places/stages in our lives. Compared to where we thought we wanted to go

When you’re a kid you have this picture in your head of what you want to be when you grow up; which we innocently act out by dressing up or role playing. Then in school, our focus is manipulated towards broader career choices based on our academic strengths. Those strengths become more concentrated as we start applying to universities and ultimately graduate in to a job connected to our degree subject or if you didn’t go to Uni, towards those subjects you were basically good at in school.

I’m curious to know who out there had the passion and dedication to stick with that initial first feeling of joy when you were role playing your ideal career choice and how many of you ended up somewhere you least expected.

I know that’s the case with me. I’ve ended up here by the forces of nature not by my own will. In fact I would go so far as to say I began lacking the will to be so determined whilst in school. I wanted to learn everything but had no interest in being good at any of those things. What actually happened was the more I found interesting the more indecisive I became. A trait that probably led me to allow fate to nudge me in other directions; although I’ve seen fate blatantly bullying people to go in the direction they don’t want to, such as those who aren’t fortunate enough to get a job in there related Uni/school subjects (again first-hand experience with that scenario), so with that in mind I’m quite content with just being nudged.

My mind only wonders in this direction now I’m older and wiser (debateable!) and find myself curious as to how my life would’ve been had I been more determined to bend fate to my will and the question; is it still possible?

I should point out that I am by no means miserable at this point, I’m merely musing. I just find the idea of your planned journey against your actual journey rather fascinating. Especially in light of the fact that when I was younger I never contemplated other aspects of my life. For example I was never interested in settling down, I was far too manic for stability and wanted to meet so many interesting people. Yet, here I am celebrating ten years of a relationship that completely blindsided me.

It is the strength of this relationship which makes me wonder if, now, I could make my make believe become a reality. Was the missing component to succeed all those years ago that piece that makes me whole now? Or is it a lost cause and those notions should be left in the hands of the younger minds.

If that’s the case should we stop dreaming? Do our old dreams hold us back now, unable to fulfil a different potential we’ve found through the unexpected path we took?

I think at the moment the answer to all the above questions is nobody knows. The best we can do is enjoy the journey in the moments we have and try to take something positive and educational out of every one of those moments. Most importantly respect our younger selves for once having that fearless attitude and dreaming so big in the first place because somewhere it’s still part of us.

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