Allan Mayer’s Weblog

Posts Tagged ‘Jane Smith

 I received an e-mail today from Jane Smith of ‘How Publishing Really Works.’  She has launched a collaborative novel called ‘Greyling Bay’ at: . Anyone can contribute, but writing will have to be of a high standard. Jane is aware of the pitfalls of such a venture, but is positive that it will be a fun project.

Although writing is mostly a solitary experience, there have always been examples of works which are the result of more than one pen. When I say ‘always’ I am thinking as a former biblical critic of the multiple author hypothesis of the first five books of the Old Testament, the three hands detected in Isaiah. Later we have schools involved in playwriting, which means that parts of Macbeth were not actually Shakespeare‘s.

One of my favourite modern collaborations is that of  Kevin J. Anderson and Brian Herbert. Herbert’s father, Frank, wrote the award winning ‘Dune’ series. After his death there was speculation about loose ends, and it turned out that ideas for further novels had been placed on disc. Floppy disc- which required a compatible pre-windows computer to retrieve it. The resulting collaboration does not compare to vintage Herbert, but it was good to move again in that meticulously constructed world.

But the internet age allows a new type of collaboration. The experience of some experiments such as Penguin Books ‘One Million Penguins’ does warn us that a project which is too sprawling can only end in confusion, but done properly we are surely witnessing the emergence of a new form.

I am fascinated by the fact that as we see the world of ‘Greyling Bay’ emerge it will do so as a virtual reality where authors will add characters who will grow and change in interaction with other people’s inventions- a sort of literary ‘Dungeons and Dreagons.’

I am very tempted to contribute- the only problem I have is that when I write it goes through so many revisions that it is years before I show my work to another person, and what with other commitments at the moment I may not have time to do it justice. But as contributors are being asked for a maximum of 500 words, this should not be a problem.

An intriguing first passage has  been added to ‘Greyling Bay’ as I write- a passage which gives glimpses of the characters’ back stories and which ends on a page turner. 

So I will be following this project with interest.


There are lots of books out there giving advice on how you can promote your self-published/ POD book and increase your sales. The following link takes you to eighteen pages of them:

They include the following titles-



I can’t recommend them because I haven’t read them yet, so look at the Amazon reviews before deciding to buy any of these. One book which does come highly recommended is Alison Baverstock’s Marketing Your Book


    Thanks to Jane Smith for that, and if you haven’t seen her posts on marketing yet get yourself over to:

News From YouWriteOn

One doubt I had about the YouWriteOn contract was related to statements to the effect that changes may occur in my manuscript once transferred from my computer to theirs, and that no corrections would be made to these. The book, it appeared, would just be printed, even if for some reason it had been converted in cyberspace into 364 blank pages.

This didn’t inspire a lot of confidence.

On Friday I received an email from YouWriteOn, asking if I really wanted my prologue to begin on an even numbered page. I replied that this was not how the manuscript appeared on my computer, and asked if they could correct it. Their reply said that they probably could, but could I resend it in PDF.*

So it would appear that YouWriteOn do check on how the books they will print will appear. The lack of editing has been a cause of much criticism. Obviously they won’t be checking grammar, but I am happier now that I know that someone is paying attention to how the books will look.

*For those of you who don’t know about PDF, it is a way of sending your text so that it will arrive in the same form that it left. Just google ‘Free PDF software’ and download it. To convert your document into PDF, choose ‘Print’ and PDF will be one of your printer options.


News From HPRW

‘I’ve made no secret of my opinion of the YouWriteOn publishing scheme: but now that some writers have signed up to it, how can they persuade bookshops to carry their titles?’

Thanks to Jane Smith, professional advice on marketing your book is available at:


Thanks to Jane for the following:

Allan, Wally asked who was going to print the books–that’s Lightning Source, based in Milton Keynes. Legend is just assigning ISBNs as far as I can see: they don’t print any of their own books.

And so far NO ONE who is publishing via YWO has explained to me why they think it’s better to hand 40% of the profits over to YWO rather than signing up to Lightning Source and keeping all the money for themselves. Anyone can do it, after all. And ISBNs can be bought cheaply: I just don’t understand why people think it’s better to go through YWO, and would love it if someone would explain.

The only think I can think of is that some of the people submitting assume that the Random House editors who read YWO’s top ten are going to get involved in the publishing side of things. As far as I can see, that’s a completely separate scheme and there’s going to be no crossover between the two: the Random House editors have their own slushpile to read, and won’t have time to consider reading YWO’s too.

You can read  Jane’s informative blog on YouWriteOn at:

Jane’s comments have led me to some soul-searching, which is never a bad thing, and I will add something about my motivations to use YWO in a later blog. Meanwhile, here is Wally’s reply:

Hi Jane;
The reason I choose YWO over others, such as Lightning Source, etc (we have some
good “do it yourself publishing” shops here on this side of the Pond as well)
was, to be fair, YWO does have a “name.” I have some writing friends in
Australia; I checked with them, and sure enough they’d heard of YWO and have a
good opinion of this site. So, hopefully belonging here would give us some
recognition. I have been a member here for a while and am impressed with the
quality of writing and critiques. Also one gets to discuss things here with
knowledgeable people, such as yourself, and learn by exchanging ideas. At a
“print-shop” one would be just a number, much like an ISBN.


PS: By the way, there will be a difference between the Random House’s slush
piles and YWO’s books. We are “published” and people will be reading our novels
and writing reviews. The other Publishers’ is just that, a static slush pile for
their interns to read on a lonely Sat night.

Thanks also to Paul Ekert for this response:

It does seem as though the world and his wife are now against the YWO deal. Some of the arguments make sense, some of them smack of “people with too much time on their hands”… I have the image of radio 4 being boring and so a number of “Disgusted from Surrey” start writing in…

There has been some anger too, I think mainly the result of the anti-YWO’s being frustrated that some people will still want to be involved and from the Pro-YWO’s who want to be treated as adults making adult decisions.

Here’s the point. No one wants to see someone else ripped off, this is human nature, but at the same time, no one likes to feel bullied for making a specific decision or told they are stupid for doing so.

Yes there are disadvantages for publishing this way, but there was also this wonderful carrot and stick approach that forced writers to focus their minds and get the book published.

Perhaps we have all made a huge mistake. If so, then we will have lost 39.99 at most and really it will not be that tragic. And it will be our own mistake, made willingly.

I hope now the Anti-YWO’s will leave us all alone and go find another battle to fight. Preferably one worth fighting and one that is any of their business!

Once in a while something happens which renews your faith in human nature and in the belief that we are all really here to help oneanother regardless of our differing viewpoints.

Anyone who has been following my blog over the past week will be aware of the debate in the Blogosphere around YouWriteOn, particularly on Jane Smith’s ‘How Publishing Really Works.’ In my last post I bemoaned the lack of support in the forums from anyone in the publishing industry, and also mentioned the need for advice on marketing for the 5000.

Help has come from a most unexpected source- Jane Smith herself. In her comment on my last post she said that despite her opposition to YouWriteOn she knows that the only way that any of the 5000 will go anywhere with their books is through publicity and marketing through  ‘non-bookshop’ outlets. Jane has marketing experience and will be asking some of her contacts in the field to put posts on her blog. So if you are one of the 5000, or the author of a self-published book, keep your eye on

Also, if you are one of the people waiting for the publication of your book by Legend Press you will probably have been, like me, thinking how you can get your book out to as many people as possible. I will be blogging about the ways in which I intend to do this, and would like to invite as many contributors as possible to add their ideas, so that there will be a repository of marketting tools here for anyone to access. It would be such a shame if, after all of the hard work that so many people have put into their books, they do not get a decent readership through lack of marketing.

Thanks for your encouragement pennyb22, I look forward to hearing from more of you,


  • It’s good to have received so many early responses to my latest blog. It would be good to hear from more of the 5000, and from anyone who has got any good marketing ideas.
  • jellyjones said:
    October 31, 2008 at 12:51 am eI think it will be a damp squib.Anyone who expects anything more than being able to sell a few copies to family and friends is most likely to be disappointed.Maybe one or two people will go on to greater things. But I doubt it.
  • Jane Smith said:
    October 31, 2008 at 7:57 am e  Like you, I do hope that writers do well out of the YWO scheme: although I doubt there’ll be anyone who makes the same sort of sales that would be achieved through commercial/mainstream publication. I’d be very interested to hear from anyone who makes a decent number of sales as a result, though, because In cases like these it’s always good to be proved wrong!And yes, you’re right: a lot of the blogs I’ve read about this scheme have proved one-sided; but mostly because the people arguing for it weren’t terribly well-informed about publishing, and were quickly out-reasoned by the people who were. I’ve yet to see a substantial argument in favour of the scheme which sets out why it’s better than self-publishing: perhaps you could provide me with one?(And no, that’s not intended to be snarky: it’s difficult to ask certain questions online without seeming so, but I would genuinely be interested in such an argument.)

    Paul Ekert | |

    I submitted a PDF copy of my book “Ordinary Monsters” to YWO yesterday.

    The book was written two years ago and has bounced back from many a publisher. Twice it was short-listed in competitions, one with an agency, and the other with an arts council. Both times, it failed the final hurdle.

    A number of agents have written to say the liked it a lot, but didn’t love it enough to risk time and money. Two publishers that said they were interested, found themselves under pressure from an early version of the credit crunch and bailed out on my book before we got to the contract stage.

    I’ve gone through a lot of edits with this book. I’ve spent a whole load of money on stamps and envelopes, but I never lost faith in the story, in the characters and in my own writing style.

    I just couldn’t get it noticed.

    I’m a published author with Pearson’s Education. I write non-fiction books and articles on computers, most of which are published in the US. Non-fiction is where I make my money, but fiction is where my heart lives.

    When the YWO “offer” arrived in my mailbox, I was on the brink of giving up and tossing the MS into a darkened drawer never to be seen again. I had considered Self Publishing, but the process appeared complex and full of traps, reading a few blogs and hearing of their bad experiences was enough to put me off. And as Jane says, no one makes money from self publishing fiction, apart from the golden few, but if you are going to bet on those odds, you may as well buy a few more lottery tickets this weekend.

    So why did I bother? Because I believe in the book. I think it deserves to be published and because I don’t want to get personally involved with self-publishing directly, I prefer it to be handled by someone else. Yes I know there are others out there, but the advantages as I see it are wafer thin. The thickness of a fag paper, as my dad used to say, isn’t really that much help!

    Once the book is published, I intend buying a copy, then looking to see if there are any good blogs on marketing.

    As I say, my main income is non-fiction, but this will be an interesting sideline. I hope other people are viewing it in the same light, as making money, getting rich, becoming famous through his scheme is NOT going to happen for 99.9% of all 5,000 books (someone tell me how many books 0.1% is).

    Good luck to all and to any “well meaning” individuals that reply to this telling me I am a fool and I should do this that or the other instead, please don’t bother. My freedom of expression as an individual living in a democracy is to be apart of YWO initiative. If that is a con, then big boy that I am, I will take it on the chin.

    That’s all folks.


    I am obviously in Paul’s camp on this one. I believe in what I have written. People have read it and I know that they are not just being polite when they say that they enjoyed it, laughed out loud and cried, and one of them not only read it in the space of a weekend but went back and reread it. I won’t be so vain as to claim that it is a great work of literature, but a major problem as I perceive it is that I have written a thriller in which the ‘hero’ is a ‘lad novel’ character, not a square jawed athletic professor- and publishers do not like mixed genre.

    And like Paul I don’t have the ability (or the money) to self publish, neither do I have Jane Smith’s compendious knowledge of publishing (Do visit her blog, it is very informative.) I agree with Jane that it would be good to hear from someone from the industry who can put a more solid argument forward. Unless the truth is that there is no such person, in which case it would be good to hear from Ted Smith of YouWriteOn.

    Although I suspect that he is rather busy at the moment.

    As I write this it is the beginning of a portentous day… Halloween? No, it is the final date by which manuscripts must be submitted to YouWriteOn for publication.  Will this be remembered as the date when publishing changed forever, or will it be a damp squib?

    Whatever the answer, if any of the novels in the ‘thriller’ and ‘adventure’ categories are written with an iota of the passion and expertise  evident in the many blogs on the YouWriteOn scheme to publish 5000 authors, we are guaranteed at least one work of genius.

    I would like to draw the attention of readers of this blog to Jane Smith’s comment on my last post. Apologies to Jane for lifting such a large chunk from her blog- her site gives permission for only one hundred words, and I went far beyond that- but thanks Jane for graciously letting me keep it. And for the link on your site to my blog, which has brought several hits my way. This will mean that a few more people will hear of my novel ‘Tasting the Wind’ and if that increases its sales in any way that will benefit Derian House, the children’s hospice that will benefit from my royalties.

    I am also hoping that more of the 5000 will contribute to the debate and give their reasons for going down the YouWriteOn route. The contributions on several sites are boringly one-sided and could do with a greater mix of viewpoints.


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