Allan Mayer’s Weblog

Posts Tagged ‘novel

My first blog (if you discount the dabbling I did on MySpace) went out on ‘Blogger’ almost one year ago. And what a year it has been. Since then I have transferred all of my posts over to ‘WordPress.’ Or so I thought. The first few remained on Blogger, so to celebrate a year of blogging I have rounded up those posts and am re-publishing them here.

This was the first one: 

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

So you thought writing it was hard…

…publishing it? Well that’s another story. Another story, written by someone else with half your talent whose appeal to publishers is not so much their writing skill as the size of their implants and how many grubs they ate in a jungle…

But enough of the rant- although this blog does come with a warning that frustration with trying to publish your work of art could lead to insanity.

If this is where you’re at, then you may wish to take the Hannibal Lecter route and create recipes for the untalented ‘writers’ who offend your sensibilities. Instead of fava beans I use baked beans. Budget baked beans.

So what is this blog about? It charts the progress of my novel, ‘Tasting the Wind,’ from conception, through revision and development, up to the present search for publication. Although I have yet to find a publisher, I have chanced across some interesting highways and byways of late, which I think will be of interest to both aspiring authors and anyone interested in the writing and publishing process.

The first few blogs will be ‘the story so far.’ After that, it goes live…
So join me on my journey, feel the frustration, share the eventual euphoria and drunkenness when I eventually sign that publishing deal… and if there are any publishers out there- OK, I will eat grubs… but you can forget the implants…

It also included the YouTube version of the Prologue to Tasting the Wind:

And it all seems so long ago…

It was seeing the changes in Amazon’s rankings which inspired to send for a copy of ‘Tasting the Wind’ by express delivery, so that I could see it before everyone else did.

Since then I’ve been keeping an eye on those rankings. Yesterday I was really pleased to see that having started last week  in something like  five-hundred and odd millionth place I had now soared up to position  2,942!

That was nice to see, but before I, or anyone else, gets too excited, it is important to get some perspective on what those rankings represent.

Obviously people (although it is impossible to tell how many from the rankings) are buying the book. The rankings fluctuate throughout the day. I am told that those above 10,000 are recalculated every hour, those below, every day. I have also heard that it is possible to make your figures soar if you can co-ordinate several people to buy your book at the same time.

So the figures don’t mean – unfortunately-  that  ‘Tasting the Wind’  is the 2942nd best book on Amazon- just that at that particular time several people had bought it.

                                THANK YOU WHOEVER YOU ARE- HOPE YOU ENJOY IT!

Now I couldn’t be described as ‘technophobic,’ but like most people I do have my blindspots. One of these is website creation. I don’t know why, but I’ve tried and failed to create my own version of this excellent communication, marketing and promotional tool on several occasions.

But one of the themes of my book is synchronicity, and in keeping with this I have somehow acquired a talented and generous ‘marketing manager’ who has had several years experience in the field, including web design.

so rather than rabbiting on….


                                                                     (This One’s for Cate.)

I would like to invite you to look around

Please sign my visitors’ book,

Hope you like it,


Social Bookmarking

So, you have published your book, got your ISBN and a link to Amazon. And that’s where it ends if nobody knows a thing about it. So what happens next?

This is new territory to me, and I am not venturing into it from any position of expertise, but as one who is learning. But one thing I do know from other areas of my life experience is that the old cliche is true: ‘fail to plan… and you plan to fail.’

It is essential that you have some sort of goal and a plan of how you are going to reach it. Everest was climbed in stages- so set up your base camp, plan your route and make sure you have the best sherpas (to use an analogy from and about the ‘Writers’ and artists’ yearbook,’) before you begin your ascent.

I know of three methods of planning which I have found useful for various projects in the past, both personally and professionally.

The first is the ‘web’ or ‘spider’ diagram.

Take a large piece of paper, draw a circle in the middle and write in it what it is you want to achieve. For example: ‘sell x number of books.’ Next you brainstorm on all of the ways in which you can make it known that you have a book for sale. Draw lines from the central circle and at the end of them write words such as ‘local papers,’ ‘websites.’ ’email contacts,’ etc.

Once you have thought of all of the general groups, go to each one in turn and develop it. For instance, from ‘websites’ you could draw a line which says ‘design own website,’ another which says ‘friends’ websites’ and a further one to ‘social networking sites.’

Break those down even further. For instance, you can draw lines from ‘social networking sites’ to ‘MySpace,’ ‘Facebook,’ Bebo, etc.

If you develop each line you will soon have a plan of all of the places where you can promote your book.

The second method I have used is the PATH. In my profession, which is working with people with learning disabilities,  the ‘Path’ method has been developed from Strategic Path Analysis to help  people to have better lives. I won’t describe the method here, as I have already written about how I applied the ‘Path’ method to writing at : .

 I think that the method would be equally applicable to promoting your novel. For those of you who like to set deadlines to your work it is useful, because you set your goal for, say, one year from now, then work back, asking yourself ‘if I am to achieve my goal in twelve months, where should I be after nine months? To get to that stage, where should I be in six months… in three months, then what do I need to do now? 

My third, and favoured planning method is one that I was shown recently in a course on confidence coaching: the pyramid. It is similar to the web method, but visually more goal-oriented and a good way of viewing your progress.

Q: How do you eat an elephant?

A: One piece at a time.

That is what the pyramid is about.

Draw the final stone on the top of the pyramid and write in it your goal. You can’t achive that goal in one fell swoop. You need to break it down into small, easily achievable ‘bricks.’ So at the base of your pyramid draw in bricks and put in the first things that you need to achieve. Above these add the tasks you need to do- the contacts you need to make, the places where you can leave a link to you book on Amazon- linking them together if you need to with arrows. (You can draw this, or create it on your computer using text boxes.)

Always have more bricks than you need, because later in the process other things will come to you.

Then  make sure that you do one thing each day. That one thing could just be a phonecall, or a piece of research, but that one thing is one step toward your goal. Every time you achieve a step, cross it off, or fill the brick in with highlighter pen: you are progressing toward your goal.

I have added a sample pyramid here:


In later blogs I will be looking closer at some of the things on those bricks.

Hope you find this useful,



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!

I have been submitting comments to ‘Absolute Write’ about the reason why I and other writers are publishing through YouWriteOn. The debate can be followed here:

Thanks to ‘Momento Mori’ who drew my attention to a forum on AW about POD and self-publishing, which may be useful to readers of this blog who wish to know about marketing.

I would be interested to hear from anyone else out there about the reasons why you chose POD, self-publishing, or the YouWriteOn route, and your experiences of marketing. I know that there is a lot of interest in the blogosphere, as even my humble blog got 54 hits in one day last week. I’m still hoping for 5000!

Well, I can dream. Peace and Love,


I’ve just received this from Wally in Ontario:


A great topic and an excellent suggestion to ‘pool ideas’ on how to publicise and market our ‘fortune 5000′ books. In case you and some of your other bloggers haven’t seen the excellent series of articles on Writers’ Services, they are available at the following web site:

PS: Is it Legend Press, Lightening Source or some other printer who will print our books?

Cheers Wally, this is just the sort of thing I’m looking for. YouWriteOn are using Legend Press

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