I have three questions for everyone out there who has self-published a book or books.
If you used a platform other than Amazon, which one did you use, why did you use it, and how do you promote and sell?
I have published two books, both on Amazon, and I used that platform as it seemed the easiest and is obviously popular and sees lots of traffic. Yet I would now rather not use it. I actually avoid buying anything on Amazon if I can, feeling there is so much about it (and its founder) that I do not like. But equally I would not like to be a hypocrite, so I need to find another platform which will work for me.
Well, that’s it. I’ve done it. It’s finished. Somewhere around mid-morning yesterday, probably just before eleven o’clock. And in the end it wasn’t too difficult; not too painful, anyway. I thought I was going to have more problems than I did, actually. Fortunately, though, it all went quite smoothly in the end. In fact, I’m not sure what all the fuss was about.
Oh, I do beg your pardon. I was quite forgetting.
I’m referring to the book I’ve been working on for the last three or four years: A Good Place. Having thought I’d finished it around a year ago, I ended up binning the last third of the book and re-writing it. And although I’ve ended up with what I feel is a stronger narrative, and with more believable characters, there was one chapter towards the end that was just refusing to play ball.
So hopefully, I’ve now completed the final draft. I’ve sent it to my beta reader to go through, and as long as she thinks the story works I’ll put it to one side for six months and then begin what I hope will be the final edit. And if I’m still happy with it then, I’ll look to pass it to three more beta readers for their comments. If they think it worthwhile, I might then have a go at interesting a publisher in it.
Although I’ll probably just think Oh, to hell with it all and self-publish it, anyway.
And if she thinks it’s no good, I’ll hide it somewhere and sulk.
What’s it about? It is set in an Indian hill station in 1988. An English visitor arrives, bringing with him a mystery concerning his childhood, the key to which he suspects may lie with the remaining English inhabitants of the town. And like many expatriate communities around the world, these inhabitants have a complicated and, at times, difficult relationship with the other members of their community. As the visitor gets drawn further into the life of this community, he finds his own relationships with them becoming unexpectedly complicated and difficult, with tragic and unanticipated consequences for several of them.
Anyway, after all that palaver, I decided to go for a walk in the woods nearby. Up until that point, it had been a dry, if overcast, day. But as soon as I reached the woods, the rain began pelting down.
It was dark and gloomy beneath the trees, and the rain was soon drawing out the peculiarly woodland scents of autumn. There was a rich, thick, puddingy smell, as rich and thick as the deep and increasingly wet humus soil I was walking on. Soon my feet were squishing and squelching through the mud and dead leaves, the fungi and conker husks, the rotting wood and the mildewed berries.
The rain burst through the branches and leaves of the trees, hammering on my head and shoulders, running into my pockets, and down my legs. Although it was mid-afternoon, the light had the quality of a premature dusk, and the few other people I saw seemed to slip between the trees like unhappy ghosts.
Allow me to introduce a new joint venture, a magazine (or zine, as I’m informed we hip youngsters now say):
The final poem in my recent collection, The Night Bus, is a poem called Vikings, and it is reproduced in this here zine with a series of super illustrations.
This is a collaboration between myself and my talented friend Mark Prestage. As already indicated the poem is mine, while Mark designed, cut and printed the linocuts.
Mark also did the hard work of putting the zine together, while I just sat around and drank beer. The zine is printed on 16 pages of high quality paper, in a preliminary edition of 40 numbered copies.
In the UK the price is £4.50 including postage and packaging, and it can be ordered from my Etsy site: here, or directly from me (just email me) using Paypal. Unfortunately the cost of postage overseas makes it impractical to offer outside of the UK (typically doubling the cost of the zine, or even more).
If people make lots of approving noises, we have ideas for similar projects in the future.
I’ve had a bit of a tidy up on here, the better to reflect where I am at the moment. Don’t worry, it’s quite safe to come in! I won’t ask you to grab a broom or a dishcloth or anything like that, although if you’re any good at writing advertising blurb, I’ve a couple of books here that could do with some professional input!
I’ve updated the My Writings and About pages, and added a page for My Published Books.
You may also notice I’ve tidied up the sidebar a little.
This has nothing to do with spring cleaning or new year’s resolutions, it’s more about attempting to present a reasonably professional impression to any new visitors to the site, as well as to my regular follower, of course.
And now I’m going to take a bit of a break from all social media for a little while. Hence I’m turning comments off for this post.
After a day of faffing and kerfuffle (and a little bad language, but not too much) yesterday, I have posted my new book up on Amazon.
The Kindle e-book will be released on 30th November and is available to pre-order now. It will take a few days yet for the paperback edition to be ready, as I need to check through a printed proof first. I’ll post when that is done.
The book is in two parts. A collection of seven short – and not so short – stories, which make up the bulk of the book, followed by a selection of recent poems.
I have always enjoyed travel and, one way or another, nearly every piece in here is to do with travel. The only exceptions are a couple of the poems that seemed to fit in among the others for aesthetic reasons.
Some of the stories are quite dark, but the majority of the poems have a lighter touch. In these, especially, I hope that my love of the natural world comes through.
Two of the longer stories are set in India; in one, a young man goes in search of a mysterious destiny, while in the other a travelling Englishman becomes embroiled in a chilling disappearance. One story speaks of the support and comradeship of a close-knit island community while another tells of jealous intelligences far older than mankind.
Of the poems, there is one long piece, which gives the title to this collection and tells of a long journey across India and into the mountains and, among others, one short series of poems about the ancient paths and tracks of Britain.
An early piece of writing advice I was given, and for which I am eternally grateful, was ‘Write the stories and poems you want to read’. This I have done, and I hope you will want to read them too.
I’m just waiting for my beta-reader to finish the manuscript of The Night Bus – the collection of poems and short stories I hope to publish later this month – with my fingers crossed that any further editing will be quick and painless. But what of the book I said I was just finishing, a couple of months ago?
Ah, yes. Having had my first beta-reader go through A Good Place and my mulling over both the feedback from their Red Biro Of Doom and my own thoughts about parts of it I already felt weren’t really strong enough, I’ve decided to sit on it for a while and then go back and change a few things. Well, okay, a lot of things. A huge number of things, maybe. In the meantime, I shall concentrate again on The Assassin’s Garden which continues to make steady progress in the background, and which slowly becomes more complex month by month.
And I was struck by something I heard on an interview with Phillip Pullman on Sunday TV, after the screening of the first episode of His Dark Materials; (which was excellent, BTW) he commented that after the books he had already written and published, His Dark Materials was the book, and by inference the world, he had always wanted to create. And I feel that way about the world I’m creating in The Assassin’s Garden. It both is this world and is not this world, with elements of both the fantastic and of fantasy (disclaimer – my definitions of those may not be exactly the same as yours!). And it feels like the culmination of all the fantastical elements I’ve ever written into stories in the past.
And don’t forget if you’ve already read Making Friends With the Crocodile and not left a review on Amazon / Goodreads / Anywhere else, I would be eternally grateful if you did. It’s a really important way of reaching others who might be interested in buying the book.
My grateful thanks to everyone who responded to my request for thoughts on my last post about the content of my book. I was a little surprised (and very pleased!) that most comments tended to agree with my own thoughts on it, so I’ve decided I will go with a mixed collection, both short stories and poems, linked by the theme of ‘journeys’. I am also including a few illustrations with the poems, where I think the poems will benefit from them.
The book will be titled The Night Bus, and with luck it will be available by or before November 30th.
I need to finish a couple of edits, and sort out the running order, then I should be ready for the formatting headaches.