The Good, the Bad and the Possibly Ugly

Guest Blog - Jeff Brown. The Good, The Bad, and The Possibly Ugly

I am the author with no name.

Oh, go on then you can call me Jeff. My book has just passed its first birthday and I feel in a melancholy mood of reflection. What went well? What went badly? And if I cross your palm with silver, can you tell me my book’s future?

So, ladies and gentlemen, I give you ………. ‘The good, the bad and the possibly ugly’.

THE GOOD

Proper book – the £1.27 million in royalties, superstar author status and the film discussions with Danny Boyle were good. However, when I woke up my bank account was empty, nobody had heard of me and Danny Boyle threatened an injunction unless I stopped trying to contact him. So, I’ll start with the simple fact that I wrote a book. I actually produced a proper book. You know what, even if nobody bought a single bloody copy, it would still have been worth it. You see that book on the shelf, I wrote that. No, not Trainspotting, the one next to it. No, not Fifty Shades of Grey, um, that is my wife’s, honest. The other side. An Ordinary Man’s Travels In An Extraordinary World. Yep, that is mine and it still puts a smile on my face.

Charity – before I published my book, I decided to pass on part of my book royalties to the Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF). I think this has led to:

  • A warm inner glow from raising money for MRF that provides a strangely similar feeling to the inner heat created by a Chicken Vindaloo
  • More opportunities for MRF, and myself, to promote meningitis awareness alongside my book. It has helped provide newspaper articles, radio interviews and a review in the village magazine – let’s face it, given half a chance I turn into a media tart
  • People being more prepared to buy the book easier for me to shamelessly mention it

 

Friends – I let friends know about the book several weeks before its release and their support, through proof-reading and pre-sales orders, gave me a huge boost. Not only that, some of them were more excited about the book than me. Not only, not only that (I love a double ‘not only’), but I even got in touch with friends that I hadn’t been in contact with for years. Somehow the book became a good excuse to re-connect with people – I don’t care if you don’t buy it just nice to be back in touch.

THE BAD

Social media – it has only been recently that I have made an effort to build up more contacts on Twitter and Goodreads. I wonder what would have happened if I had built this up before I launched my book?

Reviews – oh why, oh why, didn’t I organise more reviews early on. I do now have quite a few reviews on Amazon, but it seems a bit daft that I was in the newspapers and on radio but probably had 2 reviews at the time. I wouldn’t buy a book with only 2 reviews, but maybe tempted if there were 10. Alas, another ‘what if?’, but I was so busy finishing the book, creating a website, contacting people, that it isn’t easy to do everything.

Author central – after initially making 160 book sales on Amazon in the first month there was then nothing. Months and months of no paperback sales on Amazon. I couldn’t work it out. People said they bought a book from Amazon, but nothing showed up on the printer’s figures. It was only when I signed up to Amazon’s free author central service that it helped to show me that Amazon were selling copies of my book, so realised they must still have stock in the big Amazon garage. In fact, they still have 30 copies if anyone wants one, or 10 or 30.

 

THE POSSIBLY UGLY

So what do the next 12 months hold for my book? Well, sales have reduced down to a dribble so it could get ugly and see some zero sales months. However, I’m going to take another roll of the book marketing dice to see if my book can get a lucky break and strike gold. I am on 330 book sales but aiming to reach 500. So back to the newspapers, radio, contacting people, engaging with people and working out social media.

 

Queue spaghetti western music and the credits:

Tom, tom, tom, tom, wah, wah………………………

Author with no name rides off into the horizon (bump…ahh!).

Note: No jeff Browns were hurt during the writing of this blog, but that bump pun may well have died.

Thank you, Jeff Brown, for writing this guest blog! It’s always great to hear what you have to say. We highly recommend that you check out the photos here on his website or learn more about his book here.

View Jeff Brown in the press here.

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Write my book - Life doesn't wait for our dreams!

Write my book - Life doesn't wait for our dreams!

How many times have you said this will be the year that I write my book?

Have you done it yet?  If not, it’s likely that normal life took over.

How many hours have you spent at work, doing house stuff, watching TV or in the pub?

Everyone has the same amount of time in a day so if you haven’t had the time to write your book then it’s really because you haven’t made it a priority.

I get it, life happens, and we often think that I’ll get around to it.  I’ll do it next week, next month, next year.  But none of us are guaranteed tomorrow so it really is today that counts.

I don’t want to be morbid, but life is short.  Sadly, I have been reminded of this again as my mum passed away recently.  She was 74 years young and full of life and laughter until cancer struck for a second time.  Her illness was short lived and the hole that she has left is hard to fill.  Mum’s death is a bit of a wakeup call, it’s got me thinking – how many things have I put off? How many dreams are languishing in the to do list?

I met an amazing writer this week – Luke Winter told me how he had changed his life after his friend passed away. Luke writes stories for strangers on a typewriter in the street.  He creates smiles as well as stories for people. https://www.storiesforstrangers.com

But he was telling me that he had let his own novel writing slip.  He acknowledged he needed a date to work towards, so I asked about his friend – was there a date that was important? He smiled and said his birthday was approaching.  He’s now committing to finishing his novel as a tribute to his friend.  We shared a hug and understanding of the impact that loss can have.

So, what about you?  Are you going to let another year go by?

2020 is fast approaching so choose a date that is meaningful for you.  When would you want to have your book in your hand?

If you need help to commit to your book, please get in touch.

kim@indieauthorsworld.com

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online profile

Indie Authors Café Review

Thanks to our great author speakers Seoras Wallace, Terry H Watson and Gordon Cassells – Business Consultant our Indie Author Café was an entertaining, educational and fun day in Waterstones, Sauchiehall St Glasgow on Sunday 26thMay 2019.

The session was filled with Scottish history lessons on Wallace the Legend Of Braveheart; crime fiction from Terry; and help for writers with their online profile. If you missed it, you can watch the video on our events page.

It was also a day of synchronicity. One family group of writers stumbled upon our event “by accident” and now see the possibilities for publishing.

Two young fantasy writers got introduced to author Claire Hastie who has published her first book in same genre. One of the young writers has now applied to Calum’s Legacy opportunity for 16-25 year olds.

How is this for synchronicity though – two ladies had been trying to meet each other for months discovered they were sitting next to each other! One is writing a book about bras (yes you read that right) and the other is the most qualified bra fitter in Scotland as well as an editor and writer.  Sometimes the universe conspires to bring people together and Indie Author Café seems to have fabulous energy that draws creatives in to start the seed of ideas growing into books. We love it.

Come and check us out next month Sunday 30thJune 2019 from 1pm.


Tips for working with bloggers

This ‘Tips for Working with Bloggers’ post was written by Sharon Bairden, our guest at Waterstones in April.

  1. We are people too! Most of us work and juggle life around blogging, it is our hobby and while it might feel like we are online 24/7 – we cannot always immediately respond to requests.
  2. Check out our blogs – don’t just send mass emails out with a generic “Dear Blogger…” heading, what does our review policy say? Make the email personal
  3. Check what genre we accept for review, if we don’t review dinosaur sci-fi then an email from an author telling us we will change our mind after seeing their book isn’t going to sway us!
  4. It’s ok to maybe follow up an email a couple of weeks later but don’t hound the blogger
  5. If you are arranging a blog tour – what’s your motivation? If it is to increase sales to the JK Rowling level then you are likely to be disappointed. It is impossible to tell how many sales are a result of a tour; but what a tour does for you is raise the profile of you and your work. The review is always there and bloggers have followers who dip in and out of their blog, so they might click on buy at a later stage.
  6. You can arrange blog tours yourself, but they are a lot of work, use a tour organiser who has access to bloggers who are likely to enjoy your genre; they take all of the work out of it for you.
  7. Social media – it might be your idea of hell but it needs to be done! Engage with your readers and reviewers – if they tweet you, tweet back; if they write on your Facebook page respond – you have no idea the buzz that readers get when a real live author responds to them!
  8. Don’t take “negative” reviews personally. Most of the bloggers I know don’t post reviews about books they didn’t enjoy, they want to talk about books they love. However, some bloggers do post about all the books they read. The majority of them are highly professional in their approach and give a fair critique and will point out what worked for them. We all know that one man’s meat is another man’s poison. They are being fair, remember that. If you are unlucky enough to come across a blogger who makes a personal attack on your book then ignore them, step away from them – they are not worth your time! Most bloggers despise this type of behaviour too, it says more about them than about your book.
  9. NEVER pay for a review from a blogger – if someone contacts you and gives you a price list for reviews – walk away – this is a huge NO for the book blogging community (this is not the same as BT organisers – you are paying for their organisation and admin)
  10. If you want a blogger to review their book and they have agreed it is courtesy to send them a review copy
  11. Never send out copies of your book in an initial email, there are a lot of unscrupulous people out there and plenty of pirate sites just waiting for this!
  12. Always check the blog – is it a good fit for you? What are the quality of reviews like, do you like the style of review?

 

My three top blog tour organisers to work with:

Anne Cater http://randomthingsthroughmyletterbox.blogspot.com/p/services-to-publishers-authors-blog.html

Sarah Hardy https://bytheletterbookreviews.com/botbspublicity-promo-services/

Rachel Gibley  https://www.rachelsrandomresources.com/


our fundraising journey

From Darkness to Light

Our fundraising journey and the evolution of Calum’s Legacy

This week I (Kim) got to help my good friend Alisoun Mackenzie with her fabulous Business for Good conference. The event was amazing – so many great stories being shared of how businesses can do good in the world through connections to causes and supporting charities. Alisoun had asked me to speak on the 2nd day and share the evolution of Calum’s Legacy and I realised that I hadn’t really spoken about this journey before. So I thought I’d share it with you.

Our son Calum died suddenly in 2007 from meningitis, he was 12 years old only a few weeks from becoming a teenager. It was the blackest and bleakest time of our lives. Our worst nightmare come true. But it wasn’t the end of our story it was the beginning of a new chapter.

Calum was always surrounded by friends and they were just as devastated and lost as we were by his death. I’m not sure who suggested it but as his friends gathered in our home in the days after his funeral, we decided to do something to celebrate Calum’s 13th birthday. The outcome was the biggest birthday party ever with over 1,000 people coming to the school to take part in lots of fundraising activities which raised almost £10,000 for Meningitis charities. It was huge – the outpouring of love, kindness and support was overwhelming and started to shine some light into the darkness of our lives. It gave us all a focus – something to do, a sense of purpose that was so missing. This was the start of our fundraising journey in Calum’s memory.

In the following years, we organised many different events, music nights, raffles, walked over hot coals, family and friends climbed mountains, ran marathons and collectively generated a lot of money for Calum’s Forever fund at Meningitis Now. But our business was growing and this created a challenge.

Indie Authors World is our accidental business, the seed began with Sinclair’s crime fiction books that he wrote to help him cope with Calum’s death and grew as we helped other writers to publish their books. This meant less time for fundraising until Alisoun suggested that I could bring the fundraising into our business. I had a bit of resistance to the idea at first but realised that we could create a publishing prize in Calum’s memory so some writer would also benefit. The Calum Macleod memorial publishing competition started, we organised a ball on what would have been Calum’s 21st birthday and invited our shortlisted authors to come along. This was a wonderful evening, money was raised for the Meningitis Charity, Calum was remembered, and Karin Finegan won the prize so her awesome book The Thirteen Stones was published.

This was the point that we began to develop the dream we could create a bigger impact. The fundraising we had done for Meningitis Now made a huge difference to us and helped other families that had been affected by this horrible disease but it felt connected to Calum’s death. I wanted to do something that recognised who Calum was in life. Sinclair and I started to talk about helping young people, bringing people together to build confidence, create opportunities to learn new skills and have fun. It’s taken a couple of years but we have now opened our creative youth enterprise project – Calum’s Legacy.

I am super excited about the possibilities of this. Twelve young people will get our support to find their voice, create stories and learn everything we do to create, market and sell a book. Their stories are going to be turned into a book. So yes there will be a physical product but I hope the young folks will gain much more – confidence, work skills, friendships, fun, life skills and maybe even light the entrepreneurial spark of possibility.

Calum’s Legacy is being funded by our business – we will donate money from the publishing packages we sell and are donating our time. We need to gather resources, laptops and some funds to pay for travel costs, food, admin support and other publishing costs along the way. We are recruiting author mentors to encourage young writers. We are open to offers of help and support too.

Standing on the stage in Edinburgh this week – I looked at the audience, many in tears who were clearly touched by our story. It was such a joy to talk about Calum and recognise the road we had travelled and the impact that fundraising had on our lives. The joy of having Calum at the heart of our business is immense. The hope that we can help other young people while making writers dreams come true makes me emotional. Our daughter Kirsten spoke at the launch of Calum’s Legacy on Mother’s Day – she talked about her memories of her brother with the kindness and love he showed to people. That love and kindness are enshrined in our business.

As Alisoun Mackenzie says “Business is a wonderful opportunity to be kind” it adds an extra dimension and now our light shines bright. I’d encourage you to add more kindness to your business.

You can help us by sharing Calum’s Legacy with any young person in Greater Glasgow/ East Dunbartonshire area. Applications are open until the end of June 2019.


St. George's Day flag.

Happy St. George's Day

On St. George’s Day we celebrate some of England’s finest and most renowned writers.

William Shakespeare

No list of English writers would be complete without one of the greatest playwrights and poets of all time. It would be insulting your intelligence to list the best of his works, everyone knows his genius. His writing has found its way into our everyday speech, his characters unforgettable templates for many writers who have followed and his works still provide inspiration for modern day adaptations and interpretations.
To quote the great man himself, “Be not afraid of greatness. Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them.” For Shakespeare, all three apply equally.

The Brontë Sisters

I know this is a bit of a cheat but to pick one of these remarkable women would be very difficult. Anne, Emily and Charlotte were the daughters of an Anglican vicar who lived in the village of Haworth in Yorkshire. In Victorian England being a writer was regarded as an unworthy pursuit for young women. The three sisters published their works under the pseudonyms Acton, Ellis and Currer respectively. Anne’s ‘Agnes Grey’; Charlotte’s ‘Jane Eyre’ and Emily’s ‘Wuthering Heights’ were hugely successful and showed the incredible writing skills of each woman.
I was introduced to ‘Wuthering Heights’ in school but the forensic analysis of every chapter spoiled the experience. It wasn’t until I left school that I read the book again and realised what a fantastic novel it is.

Charles Dickens

Like Shakespeare, Dickens has taken on a deserved legendary status in the literary world. His novels are regarded by many as the best of the Victorian era and they have stood the test of time well into the 21st Century. From my perspective, his greatest strength was the ability to create incredible characters. Fagin, Miss Haversham, Ebeneezer Scrooge, Mr Micawber, and many more are some of the most memorable fictional people ever to be committed to paper. ‘Great Expectations’ is my personal favourite and I’m sure that many of you will have your own.

Agatha Christie

As a crime writer, I had to add Agatha Christie to this list. Although as a young man I didn’t appreciate just how brilliant she was, I discovered that in terms of plotting a crime novel she has never been beaten and there are very few who can match her. Her ability to create layers of motives with shoals of red herrings meant that trying to guess the murderer before the final reveal is virtually impossible. In Poirot and Miss Marple, she created detectives who are instantly recognisable and perfect for film and TV producers to adapt. I think as long as people love crime novels they will be reading Agatha Christie.

John Le Carré

Like Ms Christie in her genre, John Le Carré stands head and shoulders above anyone else writing in his. Since ‘The Spy Who Came in From the Cold’ in 1963 he has produced a series of spy thrillers that not only tell authentic stories but capture beautifully the human frailties of ordinary people doing a job that requires lies and deception. If you haven’t read the George Smiley novels you should. They are the finest example of Cold War spy novels that have ever been written.

Of course there are many more writers that we could mention. Let me know in the comments who are your favourite writers from England.

To all our English friends, have a happy St. George’s Day.


Think of the poor editor

Here is a short selection of tips to help your writing and save your editor some strokes of the virtual red pen. They are some of the more common things that writers misunderstand.

Ellipsis

An ellipsis is a series of three full stops separated by spaces. It is used when there is a break in the narrative. For example, when a character is talking and is interrupted, or when they lose the thread of what they are saying, or when they are hesitant.
It is not used for any other reason.

Capitalisation (Names)

If a character is known by a descriptive nickname, it should always be capitalised. For example, in Robin Hood, despite it not being his given name, the little in Little John is always capitalised because that’s what the merry men call him.

Capitalisation (Job title)

When referring to someone by their job title, that title should always be capitalised. For example in my books when Tom Russell introduces himself it is written as “Detective Superintendent Tom Russell”. If a witness is speaking to him it is written as “Detective Superintendent.” However, if someone is talking about him without using his name it is written without capitals. For example, “The detective superintendent is the briefing room.”

It’s

A combination of three letters and a punctuation mark that causes every writer heartache from time to time. The rule is really simple, ‘it’s’ is a contraction of ‘it is’. Any other time those three letters stand alone without their punctuation pal.

The Oxford comma

This is one of the most debated rules of punctuation.
“What the blazes is an Oxford comma?” you might be wondering. It is the comma that comes before ‘and’ at the end of a list. (For example, Jeff filled the windscreen wiper bottle, checked the oil, and replaced the headlight bulb.)
The debate is that many people believe that the final comma isn’t necessary. The style guide for most newspapers will say that it should not be used. It is more commonly used in non-fiction writing. If you do decide to use it, make sure you do so consistently and you’ll make the life of your editor so much easier.

Consistency

This can be very difficult as we try to track what we’ve written but it is important. If you have referred to a character as James for three-quarters of the book, don’t start calling him Jimmy for the last quarter. Try to be consistent in the language your character uses, it helps the reader to better understand who that character is and makes those characters more believable.

That’s it for this blog, I hope these tips help your writing. If you have any questions or observations please leave a comment below.


Happy St. Patrick's Day

Lá fhéile Pádraig sona dhuit!
(Happy St. Patrick’s Day)

For a relatively small country Ireland has produced more than its fair share of renowned writers. To celebrate St. Patrick’s Day I thought I would highlight a few of them.

Oscar Wilde

Outside of Shakespeare there can’t be too many writers who are quoted (and misquoted) as often as Oscar Wilde. He was born in Dublin, but it was in London that he would achieve fame. As an author, poet and playwright he was regarded as one of the Victorian literary giants. The Importance of Being Earnest and A Picture of Dorian Gray are among his most famous works. He fell afoul of the laws of the time when he was convicted of gross indecency and as a result spent time in Reading jail. On his release he moved to France where he died in poverty aged just 46.

James Joyce

Joyce was another Dubliner and was born in 1882. In the 1920s and 30s he became one of the most prominent novelists in the modernist avant-garde movement with titles such as Finnegan’s WakeA Portrait of the Artist as a Young Manand Ulysses. They were books that pushed the boundaries of what a novel was, and he inspired people like Samuel Beckett (a fellow Irishman) and Salman Rushdie to continue pushing those boundaries.

George Bernard Shaw

The author of more than sixty plays, Shaw stands as one of the greatest playwrights of all time. His plays were part of a wave of realism that was sweeping through theatre in the wake of the work of Henrik Ibsen. He used works such as Pygmalion, Arms and Men and Man and Superman as social and political commentary on Edwardian society. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1925.

CS Lewis

Clive Staples Lewis was born in Belfast in 1898. He was an academic who worked in the English faculty of Oxford University. Like his fellow Oxford English don and friend JRR Tolkien he served in the first World War where he was injured in 1918. His most famous works are The Chronicles of Narnia, a series of fantasy novels aimed at children and young adults. They were allegories of his Christian faith, something that was extremely important to him. Those books have delighted generations of children and influenced everyone from Tolkien right through to Philip Pullman and JK Rowling.

Roddy Doyle

Not all Ireland’s great writers are long gone. Another citizen of Dublin’s fair city, Roddy Doyle’s novels of contemporary Irish life are some of the best of the last thirty years. Novels like The Commitments, The Snapper and The Van are filled with both humour and the truth of life for working class Irish people. The films made from those books were hugely successful and helped to re-establish Dublin as a relevant cultural city once more.

There are many more Irish writers who could have appeared on this blog. If you have a particular favourite writer or work by an Irish writer please let us know in the comments.

I hope there are some Irish writers out there who would like to join us at IAW.

To all our Irish friends wherever you may be in the world, Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

Scríbhneoireacht sona
(Happy writing)