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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

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

Lesson Learnt…. maybe

Evening to you all.

Concordia has been available for a couple of months now and so far so good. Which has pleased me greatly especially after the Concordia Book Cover v0.1disappointment I felt after discovering so many mistakes got published in The Break.

As previously mention since changing my job role last year I have started to construct my writing projects in much the same way as I would do my job which has proved useful.

So, as anybody who works in projects knows there’s a little exercise towards the end called Lessons Learnt and after putting out two “Indie” novels I thought I would sit down with a nice spiced rum and construct something similar; expressing my own lessons learnt from experiencing Indie Publishing for all you other budding “Indies” out there.

1 – DON’T try and save money when it comes to the important stuff.

(YES I do know my first book was full of grammatical and spelling errors and NO I wasn’t happy about it). When it comes to editing don’t take the chance.

2 – DON’T take bad reviews personally. Most reviews are actually quite useful as they show you where you need to improve for next time. Occasionally they are just a bad review just because it’s that persons opinion. To me writing/reading is just like every other creative medium, it all comes down to personal taste.

3 – DON’T worry if you have a bad first outing as a writer, you would have still made an impression on somebody and as long as they believe in your work they will be your free advertising to convince sceptics your second outing is much improved.

4 – Do ask people to be honest with you. You need constructive criticism.

5 – ALWAYS go with your gut. I know people say you have to keep writing to improve but I wrote three different beginnings and six different endings to Concordia because I kept over thinking it. In the end what you’ve read is beginning number two and ending number one.

6 – ALWAYS be true to your characters. You should know these people like they were your own friends and enemies. In The Break I did something that I know in reality the character of that person would never have done. So I knew I either had to correct it or explain it in book two.

7 – ALWAYS have a plan but don’t let that plan hinder your creativity, the plan can be subject to change but know your end goal

8 – Know your audience, I don’t mean invite them around for tea or anything but understand who you want to read your work. I didn’t get this right with book one bwriters blockut I would like to think I was closer with book two.

9 – If you don’t know ask. You would be amazed at the resource available out in the Internet abyss, use it, it’s there for a reason.

10 – ENJOY. Don’t force yourself to write if you’ve got “The Block” if something is not working ditch it and save it for a rainy day or another project. If you get hung up on something you can’t work out, you will drive yourself crazy thinking you need to sort out that one thing, you’ll start to hate it which will seriously hinder your creativity. Take a break if you need to.

Well, that’s my top ten to contribute to the world of Indie Authors. I hope somebody somewhere finds it helpful.

I have started on a new writing project, something different to the others I have previously mentioned starting, watch this space for updates.

Once again thanks for reading and for your support.

 

 

It’s Here!

Concordia Book Cover v0.1So here we are again, Judgement Day.

You can now purchase on Amazon Kindle UK the sequel to The Break entitled Concordia.

So tell your friends and anyone who will listen we are live and to get reading!

I hope you enjoy this one as much as the first, I actually really enjoyed writing the sequel, it was quite a ride again!!

I look forward to reading your reviews and as always Thank you for your support.

 

For you guys in the states click here

Jubilee Weekend!!!

Well I guess being English I should really blog about this Jubilee Malarkey!!!! But that’s what every Brit is probably doing today and while I appreciate that HRH Queen Elizabeth II has the second longest reign of any Monarch (the longest belonging to Queen Victoria) and she is the Queen of my home country, I am personally getting a little vexed by all the hype all the chatter and all the bloody random merchandise (NO doubt my mother has already purchased her tea towel!!!!) and then this got me thinking again about my little book merchandise query, which led me back to the idea I had about Books with special features. This concept has now piqued my interest so much so that I have become more consumed by implementing this idea than working on my current project. This, I may add is also a great distraction as this weekend seems to have sparked a lack of motivation to work, 4 day weekends make me lazier than normal!!

I forced myself to re-read The Break recently for the first time since I published and since I was informed the editor I’d hired had messed up but since my first review came back positive I though I’d brave it and as I was reading and highlighting all the fresh mistakes myself I kept thinking about this special features idea. How would it work? I mean what sort of format would it be in? would it simply be a case of re-publishing the story and adding notes about the chapter/characters or how certain scenes came about??? No that sounds pretty boring. I still have laying around whole chapters which weren’t just re-written but binned completely because I took the story in a different direction, I deleted paragraphs at a time of characters that never made the final cut, maybe I should put all that work together maybe I could release it as like a book of notes but then who wants to read someones notebook??!! Maybe I could combine the two ideas? Who knows but I do really like the idea of sharing things that never made it to the finished product with the readers because lets face it, if people like what you didn’t then that’s the start of a whole new project is it not??? Or is that a cheap get out of jail free card for a next book idea!!!!

Well I have to admit both this idea and my current project are currently on hold this weekend, we very rarely get to enjoy a relaxing four day weekend, so firstly thanks to The Queen for adding an extra bank holiday to the calendar this year!!! Thanks to ATP for putting Roland Garros on so it clashes with a four day weekend (will not be moving from in front of the TV!)!!! Thanks to the USA for exporting Budweiser to the UK however I will NOT be thanking the Great British weather!!!!!!!!! So although I will not be completely lazy with my projects this bank holiday I will be looking for other peoples opinion on how to pull off this new idea of a Book with DVDesq Special Features so if you you have any ideas of what you would like to see or you’ve always wondered how authors arrive at a certain point or how they get there character ideas let me know and I’ll see how I can work on presenting that info, the thought process is now in your hands!!!

Finally A Proper Bank Holiday

At last a three day weekend I can enjoy but what to do? Obviously they’ll be writing involved there always is I decided in the end to continue with the idea that caused my writers block earlier in the week and just let it play out, still working through it but I decided it’s better to have something to work with than not at all.  It’s my Brother’s 30th so there’s going to be family things to do (Still want to keep his birthday present I got him!) and of course mine and my partners anniversary, we’ve been together for 7 years now, we keep saying we’re going to sort out a wedding put we keep doing other stuff instead like buying a house, publishing a book, getting promotion (that one’s not me!!!). Weddings are a pretty big deal though aren’t they, well to the guests, we’d be quite happy to elope to Paris and tie the knot in secret but I’m pretty sure we would then be shot the moment we stepped off the Euro Star! (And my mother would probably take the first shot!!!)

Anyway that’s a thought for another day right now I’m more concerned with making the most from this 3 day weekend. I believe a while ago I blogged that I would really love to work with an illustrator as I lack in the necessary artistic skills, maybe I’ll finally attempt something myself this weekend? There’s going to also have to be some serious video gaming going on I have a stack of games for the PS3 and the Wii where I’ve played the first level then ever had the time to go back and finish and with some more pretty awesome games coming out this summer I should really get a move on!!!

And of course time to get some reading done the only problem with that is, I have nothing to read and I’ve been so preoccupied of late I don’t even no what’s out at the minute, I should be ashamed. So I find myself blogging on a Friday night to ask you all, to bare in mind I have the attention span of a toddler but does anyone have any good recommendations???

Disaster Recovery, Furniture And Sequels

Well the weekend is finally here, time for a nice, calm reflective moment, a plan of action is needed. When I set out on this little adventure I didn’t think a disaster recovery plan would need to be implemented so naturally I don’t have one but after my little rant on Wednesday and the kind words of support from you guys (Thank you for that) I’m working on a back up plan, I too hate reading a book with typo’s, my problem is I’m not in a financial situation to re-edit and put out a new edition at this moment in time but rest assured I’m working on a plan as I type, don’t write me off just yet!!

Also this weekend the new house/moving saga continues, all official stuff has now been instructed so we should soon have a date!! Next on the agenda is furniture as we have none to move in with, it’s kind of nice it’s like starting over having a blank canvas so to speak but as a date draws closer the urgency to actually have things like a bed grows!

Frantic furniture shopping and a back up editing plan are also at the moment over shadowing my second project which for those of you who’ve already read The Break will obviously now know it is a sequel, now to me sequel’s are really hit or miss but for the story I had planned it would never have fit in to one book, despite the grammatical errors missed by the incompetent editor I spent a lot of time before I even started to write The Break, detailing worlds and characters that it became to extensive not to continue with it. At the same time I’m interested to know how the reader thinks it should progress, I’ve read books in the past where I already know there’s a sequel in place and tend to think Oh I hope they do this with this character or kill this person off etc etc so if you’ve read The Break feel free to post some ideas about what you think will occur!

The Vulnerability Of Self Publishing

Ah, Wednesday, Blogging day, the thing that keeps me sane mid week when I’m too stressed at work and can’t wait for the weekend it holds me together!…That’s on a “Normal” week anyway, this week however is added stress; tomorrow The Break will have officially been out and live for a full 7 days. Now while this fact still brings me great happiness it also brings me a great Headache, Why you may ask because although I’ve had really positive feedback in regards to characters and story etc the editing of the work leaves much to be desired. I guess I only have myself to blame, you get what you pay for and all that jazz and as I was only just starting out I wanted someone cheap and cheerful but who knew what they were doing, this however would be a prime example of when Google has not been my friend. I think my editor had to have been on drugs whilst reading my material, I can see the reviews now, “After negotiating our way through the mountain of grammatical errors and meandering through lazy spelling mistakes we decided to give The Break zero out of 100…” needless to say said editor will be FIRED. I guess it’s hard to know what to do right when starting out and although I’d like to say this is a learning curve (which it is) it doesn’t change the fact that people would have already judged the book on the negatives, it’s human nature, I am ashamed to admit I do it myself, it just seems programmed in to us since birth, since the big flaming bang, we must focus on the negatives, the flaws of an individual. Why do we do that? Writing is personal enough what with baring your soul, along with a hidden cruelty or warped sadistic mind you’d been hiding for years without getting beat up about the little things that you thought had been taken care of, that you trusted someone to correct on your behalf. I blame myself for not doing that final check when it came back to me the final time when I was convinced nothing else needed doing because I’d already read it myself 500 times. I mean was this person secretly just out of school and needed quick cash to feed an actual drug habit? I’m starting to wonder if this individual could actually even read. Well one things for sure I will be hiring somebody on recommendation only next time regardless of cost, if I manage to now drum up enough interest for another book by yours truly that is.

So to those of you who haven’t published yet I say to you get an AMAZING Editor and to those of you who clearly already know what you’re doing, have you got any recommendations??

Here ends the angry ranting thanks for listening (well reading!!!)

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