Books and babies: remarkably similar

Babies and booksBooks and babies: remarkably similar? Some may take offence at this comparison, but as you can do with all my posts, if you don’t like it, please move on.
This morning, on my way to work I was feeling a little low and it didn’t take me long to put my finger on the problem, as I will explain at the end of this piece.
So why are books and babies similar? Let’s compare the cycle required to achieve both.

Conception

For most, this is a pleasurable experience, whether producing babies or books the conception is an exciting time, (we’ll not go into details here as there are plenty of books and videos on the subject elsewhere, especially about making babies!) From the writer’s point of view, the formulation of an idea to the point of it being viable gives a lift to the spirit. As for the other form of conception, well, you are all adults, so feel free to form your own conclusions. What is one partially sleepless night for the parents becomes the start of a whole period of sleeplessness for the author.

Gestation

Although the process is similar in that this is the period when both babies and books develop, there is a major difference. The gestation period for babies is pretty much fixed per species; not so for books. This can be anything from a matter of weeks to an entire lifetime. Other than that, the similarities are remarkable; developing from an embryonic state to a fully developed being.

Pre-natal

This is when all the planning takes place. For babies we think of names, decide what to buy in the way of clothes, toys, buggies, cots etc., how to decorate the nursery and choose where to have the birth. For books, we think of names, how to decorate the cover, decide where to advertise to spread the word, and choose where to have the launch.

Birth

Panic time! We are now in the period where all rational thought has gone outBabies and books are both born of the window. For a mother it is a time of excitement overshadowed by physical pain and anxiety; anxiety for the baby’s health and well-being – the father, well, at this point he is usually a gibbering wreck. An author experiences a similar excitement to the mother but is unlikely to be going through physical pain at this point. There will undoubtedly be anxiety and just as the mother will be feeling, the author will also have an overwhelming desire for it to end. The author will be a gibbering wreck, just like the father.

Post-natal

The baby has arrived, mother and baby are doing well and bonding already. The book is on the shelves, people are buying and the reviews coming in.
Then bam! For the mother, post-natal depression rears its ugly head and she has a difficult time. Not surprising as she has been on quite an emotional rollercoaster and now all the fuss has died down. And this is where the writer and mother differ. Our post-natal depression comes at the end of the pre-natal stage, once the book is as polished as you are ever going to make it and it is ready for its first public appearance. That’s when our spirits drop as the realisation hits, there is no more to do on this book.

That is where I am today. Watch this space!

Around the World in Eighty Dishes.

No babies here, just cookbooks

Why I am wrong.

As both of my readers know, I have been quite vocal about being an independent writer and suggesting we don’t need publishers, and agents in particular; am I wrong?

Self-publishing was recommended to me when I first started this writing malarkey and I have no regrets about setting out along that path. When I was an apprentice in the airline business, I spent time in many different departments and it gave me an appreciation of the industry and how it worked. By being involved in the whole book making process, I now have an understanding of some of the problems associated with publishing and printing a book.

By doing it myself, I’ve learned about editing, creating a cover, formatting the interior, obtaining an ISBN, registering copyright and I’ve seen the printing process. I’m not an expert in any of those fields, but at least I have an understanding.

But, and it is a big but again (get that image out of your head,) there is one part I still struggle with, selling. It doesn’t matter what I do in the way of advertising, cajoling, suggesting or pleading, my book sales remain abysmally low, unless I am selling direct to the public at a signing.

Now, there are some out there who would suggest it is because my writing is rubbish, it must be, that’s why I am an indie. Well, I don’t believe it is, although it certainly improves with everything I write. So I have a  question for those who suggest it is – how do you know? If you haven’t read my work, you can’t possibly say what it is like, yet some remain unconvinced and tar all of us indies with the same brush. It is because of this I came to the conclusion, yes, I am wrong.

Some time ago I wrote a post about having direct access to some publishers thesePublishing Contract days, and I no longer saw the point of having agents. Well, I do now.

Agents are there working for you, doing the things that either you can’t or don’t have the time to do, with people who remain inaccessible to you as an independent, and that is why I have decided I must have some form of representation and that is the reason I am wrong about the industry. What we all need to realise is we are really on the same side, trying to achieve the same aims; getting readers to buy books which give them value for money and have them wanting more by the same author.

I will still self-publish some titles (I have a cookbook coming out in the near future, so watch this space,) but I think the bulk of my writing must be represented in some way.

This doesn’t mean I will jump at a contract if offered. I will need to feel it is the right person and the right contract for me. I want to establish a growing relationship, something that will be long lasting and fruitful. The right person and agency is out there, and so my journey begins.

If you enjoyed this post, why not register to access subscriber pages, receive newsletters, be the first to see cover reveals, win prizes and much more?

Subscribe!

2018, the year you see more of me, and see me less

Happy New Year to everyone, welcome to 2018…yes I know, we are so over that now, but this is the first time I have seen most of you (by that, I mean the other two of my three readers.)

I have been doing this writing malarkey since around 2011, seriously doing itMe in Bahrain that is. Obviously, I could write before that, but doing joined up sentences then making them into paragraphs, paragraphs into chapters and chapters into books, is something relatively new to me.

Once I had managed to achieve this, there came the problem of what to do with the finished article.

‘Sell them,’ they said. (I’ve never actually got to the bottom of who they are, but they do seem to say a lot.)

‘What a grand idea,’ I said, and that’s where it all came apart.

You see, everyone told me (‘everyone’ appears to be related to ‘they,’) that I need a presence on social media, Facer and Twittbook at the very least and so I did that.

Not long after going public with my private Facer profile, I gained my first con artist, a young lady from the USA, (probably a 55-year-old man from Croydon) who was doing her(his) best to wheedle her way into my life and separate me from my money. She failed and moved on to pastures new, I set up my ‘professional’ profile on Facer.

Ever since then, I have been active on my social media, some days and weeks more than others, and in all the time (well since 2014 anyway,) the organic growth of my followers can be measured on the fingers of one foot; the same applies to the followers of my blog. Now, maybe this is because I bore the pants off people, or maybe it’s because there are no longer enough people to go around all the bloggers, Facers, and Twittbookers. I suspect it’s a bit of both. As for the book sales, I sell more paperback copies than eBook because I sell paperbacks face to face (the pistol in my hand helps.)

Then there is the fact there are not enough hours in the day for me to read every post, tweet and blog, I suspect most people are in the same boat and I fear that as a tool, social media is fast becoming blunt. Followers are already following the ones they want to follow (officially sanctioned stalking is another way of putting it.)

So, I am going to reduce reduce my social media presence. I no longer intend to trawl through countless posts asking me to ‘like’ something to save a little boy in China, ‘repost my meme’ and twenty wishes will be granted, ‘cut and paste this’ and Microsoft will donate $20M to save the lesser-spotted cat ferret.  My time would be better spent writing more novels, magazine articles and continuing with my cookery interests and posts; especially as I have four novels, a screenplay and a cookery book on the go.

Coming in 2018

It’s not all negative though, and I’m not giving up on it altogether (I realise that might be a negative for some people!)  I still intend to pop in from time to time to see the fabulous people I would never have had the opportunity to meet otherwise. As a bunch, authors have to be up there with the best. You are supportive, warm, generous and selling more books than me, dammit!

So how are you going to see me more if I am to be here less? I am nearing completion of a small (okay, not so small, it’s huge) recording booth and I intend to release some of my blog posts on video. I will also be recording some music tracks which will advertise my books, but their primary raison d’être will be the music (ear plugs will be provided free of charge.) I will be attempting to do my first audio book too. Just quite when this will all happen is not finalised yet (my round tooit is still in the post, apparently,) but happen, it will.

2018, the year you will both see and hear me…be afraid…be very afraid.

Emirates Festival of Literature

Emirates Festival of Literature

Last weekend, my wife and I were lucky enough to get a chance to go to the Emirates Festival of Literature in Dubai. This festival has been in existence since 2009 and is an opportunity not only to purchase a

The Burj Khalifa early morning. (Taken from our hotel room)

selection of books, but to see and hear the authors talk about their work.

Unfortunately, we were only able to spend one full day at the festival, but manage to cram a lot into that day, starting off by having a chat with the lovely Sue Moorcroft, Romantic Fiction author; an arrangement we had made earlier in the week.

Kathy Reichs is a name you will either know well or have never heard of, depending on the type of books you like to read. Whether you know Kathy or not, I suspect most of you will have heard of the TV series, Bones, and that is based on the forensic anthropologist character of Temperance Brennan, featured in her novels. The interview with Kathy, conducted by the talented Paul Blezard was in my opinion, far too short; the hour flew by. Paul’s relaxed style made it feel as though we were at dinner with a couple of friends discussing their work.

After this feast for forensic lovers, my wife and I parted company, temporarily I might add, whilst I went off to do a two-hour workshop on screenwriting; a subject in which I am very much interested. Conducted by the talented Nicholas Forzy, I was soon immersed in the intricacies of setting scenes and creating characters. His dynamic approach to the subject had us all caught up in the excitement of creating a world of characters for the screen; again, it was over, seemingly almost before it had started.

Another session with Kathy Reichs, this time on stage with another

talented writer, Andrew Davies, whose historical screenplay adaptations are

By Raysonho @ Open Grid Scheduler / Grid Engine – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12082893

widely acclaimed by TV and cinema audiences alike, was our first fayre after lunch. Again, the stage was oozing talent, and not without its moments of comedy too, when someone asked if Kathy Reichs thought President Trump would make a good character in one of her books; “As a victim?” Kathy asked.

It is many years since I picked up a Jeffrey Archer novel, so many, that I am not sure even of the title, but there is no doubt he has a large and loyal following. Our final session of the day was an audience with the man himself. Love him or loathe him (much like Marmite), without a shadow of a doubt, that man knows how to entertain an audience and tell a story.

If you ever get the opportunity to go to the festival, grab it with both hands. I will be back next year, as a member of the public if need be, but I do intend to go back one day as an attending author and talk about some aspect of my own work.

 

Is there anybody there?

IS THERE ANYBODY THERE?

Last year I did something I had said I would never do, I submitted my novel, Harry, to a literary agent, and to compound my moment of madness, I sent it to a second one a few days later.

Harry - Glen R StansfieldWhen I started doing this writing malarkey, that was what I’d intended to do; get an agent, get a publisher and be happy. But then I attended a writers’ gathering near to my home in Scotland, which I covered in previous blog posts, and that set me on the path of self-publishing and a vow to stay that way. Master of my own destiny and lack of sales.

However, I digress. Two days ago, I got a rejection email from one of the two agents. Not bad going, a promise to respond within twelve weeks and twenty-three weeks later I get a rejection. The other agent hasn’t even responded.

And you know what? I wasn’t the slightest bit disappointed, because what I’d done was the wrong thing for me. Now don’t get me wrong, I still intend to seek an agent because I now know enough about the industry to know that is the only way I am going to sell books. ‘What?’ I hear you cry. ‘What about all those people that sell hundreds of thousands of books without an agent and aGlen R Stansfield publisher?’ Well, that’s because they can. They have the know-how and the wherewithal to do this and I’m not sure I do. I can sell books when I meet people, but I just don’t seem to be getting them in front of the right people to make a difference to my online sales.

So why was I pleased to have been rejected? Because I had gone for two of the biggest names in the industry and that would not be the right fit for me. What I need is someone who perhaps knows the industry but is just starting out as an agent in their own right. Someone who is looking to grow with me as I grow as an author, someone with whom I can have a telephone conversation or a meeting without them dashing off to tend to Ian Rankine or Val McDermid.

So, if there is anyone out there that fits the bill, I am open to offers; I’ll even buy the first coffee.

Guest post from Voinks

My thanks to fellow author Voinks for permission to repost her latest blog here. She is on the nail when it comes to the writing process. You can find out more about her by visiting her website.

Writing can be one of the loneliest professions. Even if we’re not stuck away in the proverbial attic our quill pens or laptops are not the friendliest of company.

Luckily the ‘family’ of authors are one of the most supportive group I’ve ever come across. Having been there, done that and bought the printing paper I’ve learnt that experienced, best selling, traditionally published scribblers are as likely to offer their advice and support as others still struggling to understand the vagaries of the Indie route.

writing-home-office-336581_960_720-19-1-17

Here’s a quick guide to writing a book and becoming an overnight success:

  • Have an idea.
  • Start typing (or writing) feeling inspired.
  • Get stuck half way through.
  • Finally type ‘The End.’
  • Sit back and wait to become famous.
  • Realise that’s not going to work.
  • Re-read your masterpiece and discover all the errors.
  • Friends and family re-assure you it’s wonderful.
  • Re-write your blockbuster.
  • Proof read.
  • Get other authors to beta read.
  • Cry when you realise how much work it still needs.
  • Revise and proof read again.
  • Send off to publishers. Bite nails while you wait for a response.
  • (If you’re lucky) get a rejection letter. Cry again.
  • Repeat ad infinitum with proof reading, rejection letters and sobbing.
  • Start learning about self-publishing.
  • Despair (and cry).
  • Discover the joys of metatags, formatting, page layout, editing, synopsis, blurb, printing, cover design and don’t even begin to think about marketing as you realise how little you actually know.
    (I’ve left out quite a few stages as my laptop is now sodden with all the tears.)
  • Take out a second mortgage to buy more print cartridges and paper as you are now firmly hooked into the crazy idea of actually getting your book into print.
  • Daily check your number of sales- Despair.
  • Make a sale. Celebrate. That ten pence/cents royalty will make you rich- er, maybe not quite yet time to give up the day job.
  • Try to persuade everyone who has read your book to write a review.

feedback-19-1-17-1291746_960_720     Feed an author 14.9.15  Realise how important reviews are to an author.

It doesn’t matter what you say, or even if you have never written one before, I can’t stress enough how important they are to spread the word and support the ‘newbie’ authors. Thank you.

Here are some suggestions for books you might like to read and the writers who will totally understand the problems. 😀

Voinks
Changes     www.amazon.co.uk/Changes-Voinks/dp/1848972997

Romance

ABC Destiny http://www.amazon.co.uk/ABC-Destiny-Voinks/dp/1784556963

Mystery
(Watch this space for the next release, hopefully this year.)

Drama/Thriller

Paula Harmon
Kindling     http://www.amazon.co.uk/Kindling-Paula-Harmon-ebook/dp/B01LYMHUMB
The Advent Calendar  www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01N8R4XR3/
Short stories

Glen R Stansfield
Harry        http://www.amazon.co.uk/Harry-Glen-R-Stansfield-ebook/dp/B01JLO67CA/ 
Crime/Thriller

Julie Eger
Eeny Meeny Criminy Crow    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Eeny-Meeny-Criminy-Crow-residents-ebook
Fantasy/Mystery

Rick Haynes
Evil never dies    http://www.amazon.co.uk/CHOCOLATE-CHUNKS-CRAZY-CRETE-Haynes-ebook/dp/B01M7WRPSF
Medieval fantasy
Chocolate chunks from Crazy Crete     http://www.amazon.co.uk/EVIL-NEVER-DIES-MAXILLA-TALES-ebook/dp/B011GP1LQO
Short stories

Mike Williams
Lavender and Haddock  www.amazon.co.uk/LAVENDER-HADDOCK-Trouble-Wyrms-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00JX8UQEU
The allure of the Red Wyrm  http://www.amazon.co.uk/ALLURE-RED-WYRM-Trouble-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00K7DMWX8
Educating creatures   http://www.amazon.co.uk/EDUCATING-CREATURES-Trouble-Wyrms-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00K0TPBNC
Comedy trilogy

Jo Roderick
Format it yourself  http://www.amazon.co.uk/Format-Yourself-P-I-Y-Step-step-ebook/dp/B01GARM58G
Non Fiction. Part of a series giving guidance on formatting for self-publishing
Bermuda Phoenix  http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bermuda-Phoenix-Beach-Read-RomCom-ebook/dp/B01N7U89WQ
Romantic comedy

Yasmin Selina Butt
Gunshot Glitter   http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gunshot-Glitter-Yasmin-Selena-Butt-ebook/dp/B00916B4OU
Thriller/Mystery

Seumas Gallacher
Killer City  http://www.amazon.co.uk/KILLER-CITY-Jack-Calder-Crime-ebook/dp/B01B7IMYES
Part of the Jack Calder Crime Fiction series

To our readers: Hopefully there’s something for everyone in these suggestions. Please check them out, tell your friends and help to spread the word.
Even better, buy our books and leave a review.

On behalf of authors everywhere, thank you for your support.

© Voinks January 2017

Now that really gets my… their goat

Now that really gets my their goat

I was browsing a well-known news site, (yes that’s the one, run by the Broken Biscuit Company,) when I came across a strange article.

No, it was nothing to do with an orange being elected to run a country, nor was it anything involving a celebrity, famous for being famous; self-proclaimed rock gods did not feature anywhere, and it had nothing to do with Brexit. It was about a goat. Yes, that’s right, a goat. At this point it would be fair to point out that the goat in question is not a real one but one made of straw.

It seems there is a Christmas tradition in Sweden, involving goats. Now, before you go off on a tangent thinking all sorts of nasty things, the tradition involves the making of Yule Goats. Yes, you read that correctly, a Yule goat.

This particular tradition, in the Swedish town of Gävle, has been observed continuously since 1966. Okay, it’s not a tradition that has been upheld since the middle ages, but it is a tradition nevertheless. It would appear that wasn’t the only tradition to have been born that year either. Starting in its very first year, the straw goat has been destroyed no less than thirty-five times over the past fifty years. Thirty-two times, the destruction was the result of fire; this despite having CCTV cameras and guards, and the fact that the goat is built adjacent to the fire station.

The latest goat lasted a mere two hours after inauguration before being destroyed. This year, the cost of building the goat and the festivities surrounding it cost approximately £200,000/$250,000.  So it begs the question ‘why do they bother?’

Perhaps the same question can be asked of the majority of authors. Only for a very few does writing books make any sort of financial return. For those of us who are self-published, by the time the books are edited, covers designed, books printed and the bookstore takes the usual percentage, there is precious little, if any left for the author.

Yet, like the townsfolk of Gävle, we dust ourselves off and spend another year, planning. writing, editing and publishing the next piece of work to be burnt at the altar of self-publication.

Why? Because we must, and I suspect it is the same for the Swedish goat builders.

Posting on SeumasGallacher.com

Guest blog on Seumas Gallacher’s famous blogging emporium.

Yesterday, my good friend and fellow author, Seumas Gallagher (blame Apple autocorrect! ) Gallacher, had me as a guest on his blog. So my two readers don’t miss out on the fun, I am reposting it here.

…Glen R. Stansfield shows how Authors often don’t ‘see themselves as others see them’…

…one of my Author ‘besties’ here in the Middle East is actually a terrific hat with a writer underneath it… Glen R. Stansfield, the man who drove on a motorbike more than 200 miles in the early hours to join a ‘croissants and coffee with author friends’ morning with me in Manchester recently, and he lives just down the road from me in Bahrain…go figure… who says scribblers aren’t part-crazy?… here’s an insightful offering in the form of his Guest Post… enjoy…

As a child I was quite shy. In the sixth-form at school I shunned thecommon room because there were people there I didn’t know, and girls…especially girls. Even after leaving school I retained this shyness, despite being the lead singer and playing lead guitar in a band. When did you last see a lead anybody try to keep out of the limelight on a stage? (Actually we had electric lights…I’m not that old!)

So, you can imagine that group events and parties were not my thing, and I have to confess that parties still don’t really do it for me, especially as I don’t dance (there are parts of me that don’t stop moving for several minutes if I’m too energetic.)

Not until my mid-thirties did I start to come out of my shell, and even then there was still a part of me that was reserved, especially when meeting new people or in unfamiliar situations.

It was while studying for a degree in Psychology I discovered something that came as a bit of a shock. As part of a class experiment, we completed a questionnaire to determine where we were on the Eysenck introvert-extrovert scale. The results were collected anonymously and the range of results were given to the class. This shy, retiring person scored 19 out of 21 on the extroversion scale, the highest score in the class. Yes, it appears I am a stark, raving extrovert. The biggest shock was that everyone in my group knew that was my score! I, on the other hand, remained unconvinced.

Then a few years ago I started this writing malarkey. My first outing as a writer was to attend a writers’ gathering in Wigtown, Scotland, near to where my home is in the UK. At that stage I hadn’t published anything, and was only part-way into my first novel, Fishing for Stones. I must confess, I felt to be something of a fraud amongst published authors, and slightly uncomfortable in their company and that of other aspiring writers.

Fast forward to Bahrain, where two years ago I went to the Bahrain Writers’ Circle for the first time, to hear a certain Mr Seumas Gallacher give a talk on being a writer and selling books. Ihad such a warm welcome from fellow and would-be authors, I joined straight away.

Since then, I have launched my second novel, Harry, attended the book launches of other members of the BWC, held a joint signing with Seumas at a local book store, and shared a stall with him recently at a craft fair, where we sold a good number of books in yet another joint signing session. Online, I am a member of several groups run by fellow authors.

So whether you hide under a rock every day to do your writing, or sit in the window of a local store, tapping away at the keys, don’t be afraid to be involved with other writers; they are amongst some of the most supportive people on the planet.

Fellow authors, you rock!

http://www.glen-r-stansfield.com

…thanks, that man, Glen… see yeez later… LUV YEEZ!

ALL MY BLOG POSTS ARE FREE TO SHARE OR RE-BLOG SHOULD YOU SO WISH—BE MY GUEST!

Ethics? Not a county in England.

Ethics? Not a county in England.

I was on Facetwittagram the other day, and I saw a post from a small publisher, well, more of a plea really, and it got me thinking (dangerous, I know, but I have to do it occasionally, and I always have a fire extinguisher at the ready!)

It seems that not only do we have some lazy reporting in certain parts of the press; not bothering to check facts before publication, stealing stories from other sources, etc., but we are now suffering a bit of lethargy in the publishing industry too.

Now, far be it for me to be outspoken about anything, (no, really, I’m quite quiet,) but I do have to put in my two penn’orth worth here (for those of you on the wrong side of the Atlantic, that will be two cents worth …used to be four cents but the pound’s not what it used to be.)

Whenever a small publisher gets a certain amount of success with an author, the sharks start to circle, wave a chequebook and eventually snap up the author, leaving the publisher to find yet another one to nurture and protect and bring to market.

Perhaps many of you will say it is good business practice, reducing risk, letting someone else do the work then reap the benefits, and maybe it is, but it certainly isn’t ethical (Ethics is not just how Jonathan Woss pronounces the county in eastern England, you know.)

And you can’t really blame the authors who leave for the big money. How many of us would turn down a fat advance from someone when you have struggled to get your work where it is? Though perhaps we should also have a bit of loyalty too. It’s not always about the money.

Small publishers work hard for their authors, often on slim margins, then along come the big boys, snatching it all away just as they are about to reap the benefits.

The problem with the industry today is the only people who are willing to take a risk on us newbies are the smaller imprints, and yet they are the ones with most to lose.

Now here’s an idea. Perhaps these big publishing houses should get off their backsides once in a while, do some work and encourage new writers, instead of poaching the established ones. Or is that too much to ask?

Rant over, soapbox safely returned to cupboard.

Carry on folks, nothing to see here.