Allan Mayer’s Weblog

Posts Tagged ‘publishing

OK, before I start- Reality Check…

I am not, as has been said in some quarters about POD published authors, the literary equivalent of  the ‘Britain’s got Talent’ Saddoes who assault our eyes and ears and in some cases our moral sensitivities on a Saturday Evening.

I have written a novel which will have appeal to a discerning but limited audience, granted, but in having it published through Print on Demand I know what I am doing. People are reading the story, and they are enjoying it. Maybe in smaller numbers than if I’d been taken on by a mainstream publisher, but as my belief is in the story and not in money I would rather a few people read it than it stays on my hard drive until I die because it is not considered ‘commercial.’

But in my small way I got my fifteen minutes of fame today, and enjoyed it.

Let’s get it into perspective though. As much as I love writing, I belong to another world, a world which is more real and more rewarding.

Tasting the Wind features people with learning disabilities because for over twenty years that is a world in which I have been immersed. I manage a day service for people with Profound Learning Disabilities. Much of the job is administrational but occasionally I get to work ‘hands-on.’ Like yesterday when I spent an afternoon pedalling people around on adapted bicycles, getting the wind in their faces and experiencing speed.

Today I accompanied people to a ‘Wheelchair aerobics’ session at the local leisure centre.

I got back to the office where two of my tasks at the moment include merging two services into one, and buying equipment in memory of a dearly loved ‘service user’ ( a piece of jargon we are obliged to use) who died recently.

In the midst of this, a staff member called me. I picked up the phone to hear her say ‘you’re famous!’

‘I’m what?’

‘Famous!’

it turned out that a former member of staff who has now gone to university had walked into her tutor’s office to see a copy of my book on her desk, and had texted to pass on what she had seen.

It was a nice feeling.

Then I got home. Wednesday night is a night where I get a bit of free time. My wife, Alison, is now a Brownie leader- well almost- soon she will be taking an oath with her hand on a mushroom (which I think is bordering on the occult.) So she is out at the same time that our foster son, Duane, is at scouts.

So I go online. My blog stats and website hits are soaring at the moment, so I’m pleased. People are either reading what I have to say, or are mistaking me for an American Evangelist of the same name (I’m getting some weird e-mails from people wanting to ‘share their visions.’)

Then I read an e-mail from a company director who wants me to sign some copies of Tasting the Wind as corporate gifts. I am absolutely amazed, and honoured.

Like I say, I’m not so stupid as to think that this makes me Dan Brown. But it is pleasing and  flattering.

And it is a wake up call.

I don’t pretend to know enough about the publishing status quo to claim that traditional publishing is dead or broken. But I do know one thing…

The mantra of some supposed ‘experts’ is that self-published and POD published books are only bought by the friends and families of the authors.

Maybe this was the case in pre-internet days.

And yes, it’s true that POD authors won’t sell as many copies as those with the marketing machinery of a ‘real’ publisher behind them. And my novel won’t get as many reader as one by Peter and Jordan, because in this world hype is all-important, but…

people who have never met me- people in the UK, America, Australia, Canada, have bought my book because they saw it on the internet.

So one Shibboleth of the supporters of traditional publishing has fallen. Fact.

What comes next?

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…

I’d like to think that someone, somewhere in the world has said that recently…

(I’m talking about my book, what do you think I meant?)

I’m at the stage now as a newly published author where I’m starting to get feedback from people who have read my book- some of them friends, others people I have never met who are e-mailing or writing reviews on my Amazon page.

 

It’s a strange feeling. I had clear ideas when I wrote ‘Tasting the Wind’ of what I wanted to convey, and am pleased to say that for the most part that readers seem to be grasping that (which is probably more a statement about the intelligence of my readers than my writing skills.)

 What is amazing me are the themes that some readers are picking out that are clearly there but of which I wasn’t aware during the writing process. I’ve also had comments about scenes which I didn’t think the strongest of the piece, but which some readers found the most memorable.

 

It is also really flattering to hear people talking about my characters by name- characters I have lived with for over a decade- and to hear them referred to as if they actually exist: ‘When Eddie said this…’ ‘When Andrew did that…’ ‘That Martin’s a bit of a lad isn’t he?’

 

I have gone to great lengths to differentiate between myself and Martin, the major protagonist. He is thin and freckly with ginger hair. I am not. He comes from a broken home, I do not. The only comparisons are that in creating Martin I drew upon my experiences of moving to London in the mid- 80s to work in care. I did work in an electronics factory for a short time, but that was in gap years between school, college and university.

 

Writing about situations about which you are passionate is a little like exposing your soul to anyone who cares to look. When writing and publishing you do have to ask yourself if you are happy for absolutely anyone to be given a glimpse into your imagination, and if you can’t cope with that- don’t do it.

 

Similarly, in this world of instant and widespread communication via the internet, people have been finding out the hard way just how public and accessible their jottings are. One man made critical observations on Twitter about Memphis, after he had visited in a business capacity, and this was picked up by his hosts, who were far from impressed. Another man commented about his new job that he was having to balance the size of the pay cheque against hating the work, and the comment was seen by his new employer.

 

So if you are thinking about curling up with Allan Mayer tonight be careful how you phrase it. And don’t put it on Twitter- just send me a personal e-mail… and maybe your phone number….

I am publishing the correspondence below with the permission of Ted Smith, Director of YouWriteon.

(I had previously written about the mix up of book covers on Amazon, and Ted had replied that the cover and interior at Lightning Source matched, so the problem must have occured at Amazon…)

I wrote:

Thanks Ted,
I’ve just sent my press release to Derian House, the Children’s hospice I am giving half of my royalties to, so thanks for keeping me informed.

I have been, and will continue, collecting ideas for marketing on my blog. I am doing this because you were clear from the start that YWO would not be marketing the books. I would be interested, however, to know if you yourself have any ideas about the best ways to market a POD book. I am sure that you are very busy at the moment but if you do have time I would welcome, if you feel it is appropriate, a few words for the readers of my blog, which has been attracting over 300 readers a day, many of them YWO members.
Best Wishes,
Allan

 

Ted wrote:
 
‘ To try to get interest from a local store, it can help to also contact your local press and if they show interest in covering your book release, then contact your local store and try and tie up the article so that it appears if/when the local store has stocked you as a local author. Ideally an article might mention the local store for advantage to you both and to encourage visitors in general. This may not always work out depending on the newspaper, or store and demand on their floor space, but it can be worth a try.
 
The charity aspect may help with this, or it may be an idea to see if local press interested without, as then a few months later you could try to revisit the same press with the charity aspect and perhaps achieve further signing or stocking as well as supporting a good cause. It is always advisable to contact charities first to discuss your aims and see what the response is and whether they approve the fundraising aims.
 
Also on site, in a few weeks time members will be able to add a link on YouWriteOn for those  who enjoy your sample writing to buy your book at booksellers such as Amazon, Waterstones, etc. Part of our aim to make this a more interesting process alongside getting reviews for feedback. For each review completed of another members opening chapters, you will be assigned to be reviewed by a fellow writer/reader in return, and we hope this proactive system will help to spread the word about good writing, increase book sales for writers, as well as helping writers to develop further through feedback. Very frequently over the site’s history we have seen readers writing ‘I would buy the book’ so we hope this may prove the case for some writers.’

Thanks Ted. I know that there has been a lot of debate on some of the other blogs and forums about what direction YWO will take, so hopefully that will be of help, straight from the horse’s mouth.

 

Ever thought about promoting your book in a virtual world?

I didn’t know it was possible until last weekend when I came across Second Life (SL).

SL is easy to access and to load, although I’m sure that some of the more advanced options will take time to learn. All you have to do is register, choose an identity, and you can guide him or her (or ‘it’ in the case of some of the avatars I’ve seen on there) around a vast 3-dimensional world.

SL has locations to cater for every taste. Yes, there is an adult area, although I won’t be venturing there. I think you would have to be of a particular mindset to get sexual kicks in this way. Although not everyone agrees: when my character fell, Mr. Bean-like, out of the SL sky, one of the newbies was being asked by another for a ****.  I suggested that if she did she might pick up a virus…

But on to higher things. If you type ‘books’ into the search function you are presented with a whole menu of virtual places on the subject. I went immediately to ‘Book Publishing Island.’

There is a virtual town there, made up of nothing but bookshops. I was in Heaven.

Of course it wasn’t as simple as that. When I arrived I immediately got caught behind some billboards. I could see rows and rows of bookshops, but couldn’t get to them. I tried the ‘fly’ option, but couldn’t get out, so as it was Saturday night, a night when the brain is traditionally clouded, I gave up and logged off.

When I logged on again a couple of nights later my character was still stuck! Then I had the obvious idea of calling up the menu again and teleporting out and back again- which worked. My virtual imprisonment was over.

I would recommend a visit to SL- I’ve still got a load of places to check out, and I’m sure it has great potential as an online social tool. It is also free, but you can buy SL currency to spend on things like hiring or building ‘properties.’

But it did leave me with one question around my particular interest in the site: I was checking it out as a book marketing tool. Does anyone go on there to buy books?

I would be interested in hearing from anyone who has either bought or promoted on there. In the meantime, why not pay it a visit at:

www.secondlife.com/

 

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 Author RUTH ESTEVEZ                     

“My novel, Meeting Coty was turned down by the big publishers, mainly
because it was too short (65,000 words approx). 80,000 is the magic
number! A new, small publisher who wanted to support the books they
felt strongly about, took it on. They put great effort into the look
of it, but unfortunately, small presses don’t have the money or clout
to put into marketing. Factual or local interest books seem to fare
better than fiction with small presses as they are angled to specific
markets.
Print on demand means that bookshops can’t financially afford to stock
copies on their shelves which means that the casual buyer won’t buy
your book as they can’t physically see it. Also, though available to
order, it often comes out as more expensive as a small publisher will
charge postage which bookshops often have to pass on to the customer
in order to make any profit.
The publishing you are discussing on this blog will find it just as
hard, maybe even harder to get into bookshops, so it’s up to the
writer to use any means available to publicise their book. Sites such
as University Alumni, local newspapers, radio stations, festivals and
bookshops are usually helpful. If your book has an IBSN, I would
suggest registering it with the Public Lending Right (www.plr.uk.com)
so that it can be ordered through the library system. Friends in the
right places are always useful too! Good luck to every new writer out
there!”

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Or: how to breed emails like rabbits.

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Some of our litter of nine, the night before they went to the pet shop

(thought you’d like this one Gwenda- how’s it going?)

 

There is a theory that we are separated from every other human being by only six steps. That is to say that I have a friend who has a friend who has a friend who has a friend who has a friend who knows Barack Obama, or Osama Bin Laden, or whoever.

 

Using this theory, you could have an amazing piece of free marketing technology at your fingertips.

If, like me, you have a modest number of contacts in your email inbox (mine is about 30) you could soon be reaching thousands. Send a message to everyone in your inbox, and ask them to pass it on to everyone in theirs. supposing they have 30 contacts you will soon have advertised to 30×30 people, and so on. It is what is known as a ‘viral email.’

Of course not everyone will pass it on, but some will, so it is worth trying. I did it earlier this year to tell people about my YouTube channel, and my viewings soared.

A month or so later, follow it up- this will remind some of those who forgot to forward the first one.

 

click here: 6degrees to see an example.

OK, it’s a bit hyped up, but you’ve got to dream big to get there!  And if it only gets you one sale (it should get you at least 30 if they think anything of you!) it will be a good return for a small investment of time.

In addition, do you work for an organisation which uses internal email? Send it out to everyone in your address book. There are bound to be some people who will be so curious about that shy little wallflower on floor 5 who has written a novel about rampant nymphomaniac zombies.

Go on- be a little bit cheeky- you won’t get if you don’t ask.

Good luck, and let me know how you go on.

Visit my Website at: www.allanmayer.com


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