Self publishing thoughts

Advancing through twitter over the past few weeks, it’s staggering the sheer number of people who have entered the world of writing and self publishing. Clearly, we all have ambitions to conquer the world of publishing, whether self, or traditional.

I tweeted an article earlier this week, about making the choice between self publishing and traditional publishing. It was an interesting article in many ways, but I couldn’t help but notice a glaring oversight. How many people who are out there right now, feverishly writing away, pouring their soul and emotion into their work, will ever truly get to make that choice. Let’s face it, before Kindle, Kobo and the others came along, allowing anybody to publish anything (well, almost anything judging by the recent furor over porn writing) when they chose to do so, it was hard enough to get published. Now that more and more books come out all the time, it is forcing publishers, and agents, to be even more selective about what and who they pick up.

In many ways, it’s good, as only the very best in most cases actually get published, and for the publishers, it showcases their work in ever greater favor with the public. But it makes the life of us new writers even tougher. Last year, I read a childrens book which I kind of enjoyed, but also found myself wondering how it had been published. I was amazed that the premise had been picked up, and even more amazed that it felt as though it hadn’t even been edited. But it was with a pretty big agency and a traditional publishing house, so it must have been through the mill. Then I discovered the author had been introduced to the agency, through a friend, and that’s how the deal was struck. No sifting, no desperate letters, no rejection.

The danger with having an imagination that allows you to put your thoughts down on paper, electronic or real, is that it also allows, in fact lets be honest it encourages you, to think about what life might be like if you ever achieve success. Bracing walks along the beach, writing in peace with a view to gaze restoratively upon, a long lazy lunch, followed by an afternoon of energetic prose. Meetings with your agent and publisher to discuss the finer details of the process. The joy of having people actually read and like your work, to fall in love with your characters as much as you do. To ask you questions about the books.

So it makes it all the harder, when you get no’s. But I ask you, what is your measure of success? I know it sounds a bit fluffy and lovey to say, ‘I write because I have to’, but I think there’s at least an element of truth in there. I do feel better when I’ve written something. But I think my measure now is, can I finish what i started. I’ve begun two different series, and I really need to finish them. As well as I can. Before I even begin to plan the next projects. One thing at a time.

I think, if you keep writing, you get better. And I don’t think it’s beyond reasonable to consider the possibility that out there, in the wider world, there might be a few thousand people, who will absolutely love your writing. To the point where they form a readership, just waiting for you to find them. And unfortunately, the only way to find them, is to keep working. Keep writing, keep getting better, and keep making contact with people. A friend of mine, who I work with, told me when i started writing that it would probably be 5 years before i got anywhere with it. I smiled and thought I would achieve something in less time than that. It turns out he may have been a bit optimistic with that estimate.

But, he has turned out to be quite an inspiration. During our time working together, he has been beavering away working on his music, and even before we worked together. His goal was to get to the point where he could earn a living, a salary, from his music. He has done small presses of vinyl every year I have known him, 250 to 300, and sold them all. They resell for £20 or £30 or more sometimes, on discogs. But DJing is where he has begun to make his money. He got a big break earlier this year, and since then it has snowballed. He went part time a couple of years ago, and is now talking of leaving completely. His other work demands too much time, and his success means it has become his priority. How amazing is that? He has played his stuff a few times at work, and has had a pretty lukewarm reception. But out there, beyond our office, there are much more sophisticated , discerning people than us, who love what he does. Earlier this year, he DJ’d the Chic after party in Amsterdam!

The point is, he knew what he wanted, and he as worked incredibly hard, putting in so many hours of mixing, DJing, party hosting, social networking and anything else that would help, and has achieved what he wanted. He can now earn a pretty good salary, more than his job here provided, from his music. He has done what so many of us dream of doing. He is going to leave his job, and do what he loves for a living.

So people, fret not at the no’s, think no more on the lack of sales. instead, put your back into meeting people, readers, the ones who might love your work. Go to book clubs, interact with book lovers, offer help to others doing the same (it will pay you back), keep writing, keep getting better, plan your stories and make sure they are complete. And use an editor, find someone you can work with, it really makes a difference to your work. No matter how critical you are of your own work, you will not see it the way a professional editor will!

Keep the faith, dust yourself down, Keep Calm and Carry on. Dave.

The Newsroom TV review

Firstly, let me start by saying, I loved The West Wing. I mean, i really loved it. I’ve watched it 6 times through. I loved the cast, the writing and the story lines. It was, and still is, the benchmark by which I judge all TV shows that have come since.

The Newsroom, is terrible. The story lines are still good, mainly. But everything i loved about the west wing, is pretty much everything i dislike about The Newsroom. I like almost none of the characters, the dialogue is ridiculous, and sarcastic and quite nasty at times. Almost to a person, they are a bunch of smart alec know it alls, who love nothing more than to show how clever they, by speaking way too quickly and giving each other, in turn, meaningful stares, and exasperated stares.

They have almost no empathy, they are bordering on sociopathic narcissism. I’m not even sure sociopathic is a word, but I’m sure one of the characters will correct me if I’m wrong. I wanted to love, it, in fact, for the first few episodes, i did. But then it just began to wear me down. As in the West Wing, it is full of unresolved love affairs, nobody ever quite gets there. The story arcs are pretty much the same too. In The West Wing, we had President Bartletts MS, which he disclosed in season 1 and 2. In The Newsroom, at the moment, it’s the story that turned out to be false, and has brought ACN to it’s knees. While factually not the same, it’s the suggestion that those beyond reproach, actually turn out to be human, and/or, liars.

In The West Wing, the sitting President was Democratic, like Aaron Sorkin. And at times, the republicans were painted to be nasty, and not a little bitchy. He has fixed that with The Newsroom. The station anchor is republican. However, he takes every opportunity to lambaste the republican party. It’s okay everyone, we’ve made the main character a republican, so its okay that he attacks the party. I’m by no means a republican supporter, I’m not American for a start, but it is just plain tiresome to have it constantly rammed down your throat.

I loved the witty repartee between the characters in The West Wing, I loved the actors in the roles, they made it less irritating by their delivery of the lines. The opposite is true of The Newsroom. It’s not true that nobody likes a smart a**e, it’s just that I don’t like these ones.

I wanted so much to love it, and I suppose I feel a little bit cheated that I don’t even like it. This though, is just my personal view, and I am utterly certain that there are a huge amount of people out there who absolutely love it. I hope you enjoy the last episode when it airs, and the seasons to come. I will watch again next season, hoping it will ease off on the superiority complex and just be good TV.

Dave.

World War Z (sort of) review

Considering everything I’ve read over the past months about this film, I have to be honest and say, it really wasn’t that bad at all.

There were production issues, budget issues/out of control, it was this, it was that, the CGI was bad. In reality, I think perhaps a great deal of this negativity came from people who’d read the book, by Max Brooks, and loved it. Honestly, I struggled to get into the book. I get how it’s clever and a different take on things, but I still didn’t love it, or indeed like it. I much preferred Outpost by Adam Baker. Yes, it was traditional, yes it was about Zombies, but i enjoyed it, and the writing was excellent.

But, back to the matter at hand. I sat down to watch the film, and after around 3 minutes had to turn it off in order to eat my dinner first, as there was no time to do both. It began with action almost immediately, and it stayed that way for the next hour or so. There are those that say Brad Pitt is the same in everything, and that may be true, but I like Brad Pitt!

The middle of the film sees him flying around the globe in an effort to track down patient zero. It’s pretty gripping stuff, and the tension hardly lets up throughout the entire movie. My only negative, is that the ending could have been a bit more dramatic than it was. It sort of fizzled out ultimately. But, I would definitely give it a go.

It is pretty gripping, the action is sharp and a little terrifying and the scope is commendable. From what I recall of the book, it would have taken an eternity to make a film of it, so in the end, the film makers have done the only thing left open to them, make it as you see it.

They have, and I enjoyed it!

Dave.

Great Historical Fiction @Conn_Igggulden

So,

 

for those of you not already familiar with him, Conn  is a writer of mainly historical fiction. If you like historical fiction, then I can’t advise you strongly enough to go find and read his books.

I began ten years or so ago, when I kept seeing a book in WHSmiths, Emperor: The Gates of Rome. It had the tag line, ‘If you liked Gladiator, you’ll love this’. In my opinion, that was a heady claim, as I loved Gladiator. So each time I went in, I picked it up, and put it back. Then, finally, I picked it up and bravely bought it. Great decision on my behalf, even if I do say so myself. I was hooked immediately and have never looked back.

Like the dope that I am, it took me until the final pages to really work things out (If you’ve read it you’ll understand, if not I won’t spoil it for you!), and by then I was bitten. I read the following three books in the series as soon as they came out, and just couldn’t get enough. When the Emperor series was done, I was gutted, and had no idea what would come next. Then the Conqueror series arrived. I must admit, and my Dad felt the same, to feeling a little disappointed that it was a total change of direction. We wanted more from the Emperor series, but after reading around two or three pages, I very quickly changed tack.

The Conqueror series is fantastic. I’ve read a fair amount of Historical Fiction, but have to say Conn leaves it all in his wake. His writing style and prose, are so easy to read, that you’re hooked before you even know. I’ve just spent some time convincing my boss to give them a go, he is no fan o historical fiction. he has read the first three, and is waiting for the fourth to arrive. He is utterly ensnared.

And what a bonanza we have right now, the fifth in the Emperor series has just come out (which I demolished in a week, and will post a review for) , and it was just as good as the previous four. And, War of the Roses has also just come out, and I am most of the way through it, and am loving it also.

 

Please, if you have any interest in the genre, give Conn a go, you won’t regret it.

 

Dave.