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!!!

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?

I Am Alive, Honest!

Well happy 2014 to you all!

I know, we’re in May but it has been too long and I never wished you all Happy New Year as I did in 2013 so I thought it would be the best place to start!

I won’t bore you with excuses of my absence but suffice to say life interrupted me somewhat, some good, mostly bad and most definitely Concordia Book Cover v0.1difficult but I’m here now and as you can probably deduce from last night’s post entitled ‘Tease’ I am almost ready to bring you the sequel to The Break and yes I stuck with the working title, Concordia, it just seemed right.

Just to reassure you when I say almost ready I do mean it, I am currently working on the formatting for the Kindle version and as soon as that is complete you will have the finished product. I am toying with the idea of a Beta reader though just to make sure it’s as good as it can be, any volunteers?

Through my previous and first experience of self publishing I did learn a considerable amount, the main thing being my decision making process. Now I won’t bore you with any personal details but just to give you a little context last year I got a new job, a job which I fell into by necessity and was incredibly happy to realise it was a perfect fit, very me shall we say but what it has taught me and made me confront in new ways is the art of my decision making process (my previous decision making process was NEVER an art!). Now, from my first outing as a self published, indie writer I learned many lessons the hard way, one being my consistently ranted about mistake about skimping in areas that need the most attention. So this time I have invested properly in an editor as I do not want to be equally as devastated by the comments regarding the appalling grammatical errors in the first for which I may never forgive myself.

DecisionsMy new found decision making process has also lead me to consider my creative process, a process which changed half way through this book and which I will continue to future projects (Possibly Screenwriting, as it’s something I am keen to get back to).

One of the things which I have discussed before and hope someday to compile all of this information as part of my idea for Books with special features, is the soundtrack, I realised I wasn’t just using certain songs to write certain scenes or whole chapters but I had practically constructed a whole sound track which told the story in the same way as if you were reading it.

I am a massive lover of music, my collection is as diverse as me, (I have deduced I have a distinctive 6 personalities all with varying degrees of geek, normal and weirdness: Me, friends, family, work, strangers and people I haven’t seen for years and bump into in the street) . Anyway, I digress, as music-head-convertedalways; my point is, music is a distinctive part of my creative process, it moulds my imagination as much as that initial first idea. People have asked me, if The Break was ever made into a movie who would play the parts? I have to say just for the record one of the important things to me is, if it was ever a movie it would have to have the same soundtrack as when I wrote it (Not that this will ever occur!!). So as a challenge to you, my readers, if I was to ever revisit Annabel’s adventures and the world of Concordia, something I haven’t quite figured out is what would be the main characters theme tune. I have songs for situations and atmosphere but not people. So tell me what song suits their character.

Moving on from this, another decision I have taken for the sequel is, I will only be releasing on the Kindle, I have no immediate plans to release a paperback at this stage, it doesn’t mean I won’t it just means not right now. I love reading an actual book we have a room in our house just full of them but I am becoming ever intrigued by new media and technology and want to explore the possibilities it can offer.

So on that note I will leave you to ponder and hopefully eager await the release of Concordia. As always if you have any questions or want to comment please do contact me.

The First Review Is In!!! (and it isn’t all bad!)

OUT NOW!

Well, well, well, my first review is in my friends and I was pleasantly surprised, strike that I’m bloody ecstatic!!! Especially after my mad panic when I realised the person I had hired to edit/check grammar/sentence structure etc was actually an idiot and I probably could’ve done a better job myself, to re-cap on the full rant click HERE!

Obviously I’m not an idiot (Depending on who you talk to!!!) I realise to counter act the good means a bad review is just around the corner but as I said it’s my first so I’m going to enjoy this happy feeling for as long as possible and continue to grin like a lunatic!!!
“The Break by Kerry Stanley is a novel which breaks all genre barriers. To begin reading the book, one might wonder whether it was a love story, mystery, romance, or thriller. As it turns out, the story is all of these. Although the story in written in present day circumstances, the style of writing is much like what one might read one hundred years ago – descriptive, dramatic and heavy on the emotions. The main characters are three incredibly strong women who are fighting evil. Each has specific powers, which will assist them and their companions in time of crisis – sort of like real life Power Puff Girls.
The main goal of the women, especially Annabelle, is to prevent a gateway, the Break, from opening into this orld which would allow death and destruction masked as natural disasters to occur and the travels of unsavory characters into our system. All three women themselves are from another world but have the characteristics of this one. The story begins with background on most of the characters and Anabelle’s protected life overseen by Jessica becomes clear. We are uncertain where the story is headed but the intrigue is there. At first thought, it seems to be a mystery – and it is. Characters such as Rose begin appearing in the story who were thought to be dead, or Christian, Anabelle’s adopted brother, who was believed to be on their side of the battle against adversity.
 Rapidly the novel turns into a thriller with many twists and turns – the supernatural powers of the young women come to light as they face enemy after enemy. How the women fight the evil forces, which threaten the world, is unique and forceful. As abruptly as the book became a thriller halfway through, it becomes a love story as the book begins to wind down. The growing attraction between Annabel and Jessica is revealed – very unexpected but not inappropriately portrayed. The story ends with many questions left unanswered and battles still to be fought and won but this endings purpose is made clear when a portion of the sequel, Concordia is made available for review at the end of the volume. It is clear that this story, although not perfect in style and structure, would make a wonderful movie. The main characters make Charlies Angels look like Josie and the Pussycats – it is a story that keeps moving and definitely would keep an audience, as it does the readers, on the edge of their seats waiting for the next shoe to drop.” – GoodbooksToday.com Reviews
So if this as piqued your interest further and want to know where you can purchase a copy of The Break just follow this link

The Fun Never Stops… Or Was That Stress??

I’ve had the most amazing reaction to The Break since we went live on Thursday, so Thank You very much for all your support and to those who have purchased a copy on Paperback and on eBook/Kindle and if you still haven’t got a copy go check out where you can acquire one here!!

So you’d think with all the hard work that goes into writing and self publishing a book by the time it goes Live you can just kick back, relax with a nice bottle of Bordeaux maybe treat yourself and order some Chinese food, go on holiday etc etc. Let me set the record straight, NO, NO You Can’t!! There’s still publicity to consider, how’s a girl meant to get a fantasy fictional novel exposure?? I guess we have several options here, local press, national press, flyers, posters, give aways, selling your soul the usual sort of stuff really!! But how do you stand out from the crowd? When do you begin to become too pushy, when you’ve set up your tent outside a major national newspaper and refuse to move until they’ve read your book and published a five star review (Now there’s a thought)!! Or do you simply give it some time let the work gather it’s own momentum and see where it takes you?? If you do this how long should you leave it before you start making more of an effort a week, a month, six months?

Truthfully, I think the answer to all of the above questions is, nobody knows what’s best, you’ve just got to do what’s right for you. As you know I made up press release packs which were sent with an advanced readers copy of the book to various places but ultimately it’s down to them if they decided to run it, or part of it or none of it, you can’t control that decision making process all you can do is put your work out there and get it on the map and find a way of doing that which suits you. I’d love every follower to Retweet the links to my Blogs (Hint!!!) But again ultimately that decision belongs to them I have no control over that, which is fine because this is all one big learning curve and I will find a way to get that exposure but I would just like to share to anybody who thinks you can put your book out there and your contribution stops guess again, the hard work well never stop now you’ve started that ball rolling, it’s keep the ball rolling that’s going to cause blood, sweat and tears.

The Secrets Out

Out Spring 2012

So my second proof arrived today and guess what, it’s perfect! So all that’s left to do is OK it then it’s back to waiting but this time waiting for it to come out for real!!

I guess at this point I should really start by confessing that it’s not really a big secret I need to reveal but as I draw closer to the launch of my book, The Break, I feel I must explain something to you guys. This book is being published by ME!! I have ventured in to the realm of self publishing, a realm I must admit I was very sceptical and apprehensive about especially considering the stereotype and reactions that go with self publishing.

I guess there’s two pinnacle moments that has lead me to this point in time, the first is way back in the day when my thirst for writing began and the moment when I was eighteen years old and had some success with a screenplay I had written, which piqued the interest of a casting director, a producer and a commissioning editor at Channel 4. I couldn’t even begin to describe the rollercoaster ride I continued on, which unfortunately lasted all of four months as the project fell through due to funding. What I can describe to you is the devastating effects something like that has on the soul of an eighteen year old, to have all your dreams handed to you in a stroke of fate only to experience a mere smell of them before they’re whisked away just as quickly as they arrived. With the exception of journalism pieces for the student magazine of which I was editor of whilst at college I didn’t write a single thing for four years. I think this is why I get so annoyed at reality shows like the X Factor, Britain’s Got Talent and American Idol etc because some of the contestants are too young, you can’t possibly comprehended the manipulative ways of the entertainments industry at the ages of fifteen to eighteen. Grown adults seem to find it amusing to play with kids hopes and fears. Anyway that’s a different rant for a different day! So once I started writing again I still couldn’t find my “Mojo” I was continuing to write screenplays still because that’s what I had had success with before but none of those projects felt right. Incidentally, I now have a huge pile of them I now use as a door stop!

Then the second pinnacle moment occurred just after I turned thirty, I started to lose my hearing. Now without meaning to sound incredibly clichéd but it is incredible what we take for granted. I never expected in a million years to hit thirty and start going deaf, over the course of a year I completely lost the ability to hear out of my right ear and now wear a hearing aid in my left, without out which I’m a little useless to you!! It was in this moment that I sat down and started writing, writing an actual story, a novel, not a screenplay. Why do people need life altering moments to motivate them to do something they would never have dared try? I’ve always loved crazy, wild, unbelievable stories based in imaginary worlds and fictional crazy characters ultimately the fantasy/Sci-fi genre so that’s where my crazy imagination took me, to a complete fantasy.

After finishing my first completed draft, I went back and started to focus on the first three chapters and formatted them in accordance with “industry standards”, I wrote a covering letter and started sending them to literary agents, I figured I didn’t need to know the ins and outs of the world of publishing I’d get an agent and they’ll do it all for me. I was so naive back then I look back and I’m convinced that attitude belonged to a different person. The thing is everyone said no but the annoying part was it wasn’t because they didn’t enjoy the work. I think it was because of the genre I was writing in. I think nowadays if you’re writing a fantasy novel and you’re not on Team Vampire you don’t stand a chance.

It seems in this current economic climate nobody wants to take a risk everybody wants a sure thing. I was on the verge of scrapping the idea completely to attempt perhaps something more main stream a romantic comedy maybe!! Or to conform and throw in a vampire or two but I’d grown a little attached to my characters and to not see it through to the end would’ve reminded me of how close I’d come before and writing and telling stories is the only thing that has stayed with me since I learnt to read, write and draw, it’s the only thing I’ve never kept changing my mind about, I’ve always wanted to be an author. Then somebody suggested self publishing and to be honest I turned my nose up. I spent about an hour Googling and realised it consisted of dodgy looking companies with dodgy looking websites asking you to give them about fifteen hundred quid and they’ll print your book and get it in the shops (yeah right), it just all looked like one big SCAM. Then my partner suggested I do some more research “Buy a book about it”. So I did I purchased a book called Self Printed: a sane person’s guide to self publishing by Catherine Ryan Howard. I think it was the “Sane” part that was the biggest selling point for me! Anyway as I read it, it just all made sense and there wasn’t a dodgy looking Scam company in sight, it’s become my bible and the biggest thing it opened my eyes to was, self publishing in this way is much like running a small business, basically you have a product you would like to sell and that was my problem before, how could I expect literary agents and publishers to take a chance on me financially if I wasn’t willing to do it myself. So I have taken a leap of faith, for the experience, for the understanding, for the business woman in me, for the creative woman in me, for the deflated eighteen year old still left in there somewhere. I will always continue to go down the traditional publishing route (this is the dream after all!)  but now, I’m better armed with better knowledge, I am my own boss and I’m not scared of the hard work, the hard work I’ve already put in and the hard work that’s still to come, I’ve got a strong stomach and thick skin and I can’t wait for the new challenges around the corner, I’m not delusional, I’m not going to suddenly quit my day job and expect to be in the top 20 of The Times best sellers list in The Saturday Review but I’m up for an adventure and I hope you guys will come along for the ride.