Pleased as Punch!


Well, come on, I am the Queen of Cliche ;)

Seriously though, I am sooo pleased! :) Why? Because a friend and fellow writer has just released his debut novel earlier this week! *grins*

I’ve known Tony for a couple of years now (we initially met through Nano) so I’ve been hearing about this story from its first draft and I’m so thrilled to finally see it in “print” :) It’s been really interesting hearing Tonys adventures in “indie” publishing first hand at our writing meets, so I thought you guys might like to hear what he has to say… let me introduce Author (YAY’S!) Tony Benson…

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What made you decide to be a writer?
First off, thank you Vikki, for having me here on your blog. I’ve always kept journals and written stories. During my career as an engineer, strangely enough, much of my work involved writing of one kind or another. I’ve written more technical documents than I could ever count, but very little was ever published for general distribution, since it’s generally written for use by customers.
When I moved on from corporate life I found myself undertaking more ambitious creative writing projects. I started with a complete non-fiction manuscript, which will probably never see the light of day, then I went on to write more fiction. That was when I began to consider publication.
I enjoy the creative process, and to see my own work, complete and published, is exhilarating.

What genre do you write?
An Accident of Birth is dystopia. I also have manuscripts at various stages of completion for crime, science fiction and fantasy. I’m currently working on a crime novel, which will be my next release.

What inspires you?
I find inspiration easily. Sometimes perhaps too easily. I’ll be inspired by a news-item, an overheard conversion or some random idea that comes into my head. Almost anything can trigger that Aha! moment. I always carry a notebook, and when an idea hits me I write it down, otherwise I’ve moved on to something else and the idea is lost.
Also I read widely from pretty much all genres, and that keeps the imagination ticking over nicely.

Tell us about your début novel An Accident Of Birth
An Accident of Birth is a speculative story which confronts the question What would society be like if most people were not fertile?
It portrays a dystopian, polluted society in which fertility is rare, and being fertile is dangerous. The government holds twenty-year-old Francesca captive, forcing her to breed children for the infertile masses. Her boyfriend Dominic has failed to rescue her in four long years. By hiring Baron Drake to spring her, Dominic learns nobody is more dangerous. The handsome, charming, and fertile baron vies to win Francesca’s heart, and he’ll stop at nothing – not even mass murder – to expand his criminal empire.

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What made you decide to go down the “indie” route?
Indie can mean two different things. It either refers to one of the small press publishers, or it refers to an author publishing their own work. I chose the latter path.
When I had a completed manuscript, and my critique partners and beta readers had all made their contributions, it was time to publish. I reached this point at an interesting time in publishing. Indie publishing was really picking up, and there was a lot of rhetoric in the press about how bad that was and how good it was.
I found myself torn. On one hand the kudos of having my manuscript accepted by an agent and a publisher felt like a worthy goal. On the other, the case for self publishing was very compelling. I started down the road of seeking an agent, but soon I realised that I was wasting valuable time in an endeavour which would lead me to sign away the rights to my own work. In the end, I realised that my main reason for wanting to go down the traditional publishing route was to seek validation. It’s just not a good enough reason.

Any advice for anyone considering going “indie”?
Where to begin? Bear in mind that only a few days ago I published my first novel, so I’m not an old industry pro, or a well practised professional. There are, however, some things I have found to be crucial.
The big thing to remember with indie publishing is that publishing is a profession, and anyone who’s not willing to become a professional should be shy of indie publishing.
First things first, though. Like they all say, the whole thing will fail if you don’t write a great story. That’s the core to any publishing success. Once you’ve written that great story and been through it with all your critique partners and beta readers and worked on their comments, you’ve got a draft manuscript. You’re now ready to put on your publisher’s hat.
It’s crucial to have the manuscript professionally edited. Professionally produced cover art and formatting are also a must. With that done you’ll need a great cover blurb which makes people want to read your book.
The rest is logistics, promotion and marketing. The logistics are time consuming and require plenty of thought. Promotion and marketing is your job. Whether you’re indie publishing or traditionally published you’ll need to spend time and thought on marketing. It’s not easy, and you’ll constantly need to find creative new ways to market your work. The worst thing you can do is keep asking people to buy your book.
Indie publishing cannot be done without cost. Someone has to pay for editing, cover art, formatting and all the other sundry costs. An author who publishes solo bears the whole cost themselves and hopes to make it back in sales. There are, however, other creative ways to fund the project such as working with a small press publisher, crowd funding or working with one of the companies which are springing up with new business models specifically aimed at indie publishers.
There’s never been a better time to choose the indie route.

Tony can be found through his website, blog and author page on Facebook and if you’d like to download An Accident of Birth, it’s available through Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk I’ve downloaded it and started it last night :)

Ahhhh, yeah, marketing *gulps* I don’t know about you but if I go down this route I think that’s what I’m going to find most difficult, I wouldn’t know where to start! Lol… Sooooo, anyone willing to share some marketing tips? ;)

CONGRATULATIONS Tony! When you’re a HUGE success I can brag and say I had many a writing session with you :)

Insecure Writers Support Group – July 2013


Well, that’s another month gone lol ;)

Today is Insecure Writers Support Group Day where participants get the opportunity to moan and whinge and get a sympathetic virtual shoulder to cry on. Many thanks to Alex Cavanaugh for hosting this wonderful group and please check out the other participants by clicking the ‘insecure writers’ link above :)

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Ok, so where do I begin?

I’ve virtually written nothing this year. I’ve done the odd prompt, tinkered with my novel for Faber, thought about jacking it all in and argued with myself about my motives for being a “writer” and more importantly being published.

And then last week I read this post by the lovely Jo Phillips and if you don’t follow Jo’s blog, 1. Why not? And 2. You really should! ;) Anyway, I could relate so much to what Jo was saying (seriously, go read the post!) but what particularly struck me, hit a nerve, was when she mentioned wanting to do other stuff, other projects. Yes, so do I!!!!! I want to create some art, I want to learn how to draw, I want to make my own clothes and stuff for around my home. I want to bake, I mean really bake (not just the odd cake) and I want to go back into volunteering…or even *shock horror gasp* get a job! (part time of course!).

I’m bored….. Ok, there, I said it! I’ve been at home now for 2 years concentrating on my writing. The Hubster’s suggestion which I totally agreed with at the time, and thank him for (hes always encouraged me to do whatever i want to do). Ooooo, yes, 8 hours a day to concentrate on my writing! But it hasn’t worked out that way. I procrastinate, I faff about, and probably only write for a couple of hours a day anyway, well, ive not even done that this year :(

I talked last month about losing the fun from writing, and reading Jo’s post made me realise that I really need to get a grip. It’s the story of my life really (the Hubster will be shaking his head at this point and saying “here we go again” lol). I’ve spent the best part of 25 years asking myself “what do I want to do when I grow up?” And I thought I’d finally found something I could devote my life to. But perhaps being a published author isn’t it? But what else do I have? There’s nothing I’m good at, and that’s the problem :(

Perhaps I’ll never know, never find it….but in the meantime, there’s no such thing as failure. If you never try, you’ll never know, and it’s all part of the journey, right? I know some if you have been writing since you were children, I haven’t. I caught the bug late in life, so writing was never something I’d really considered as a career choice, until 2010 lol. But perhaps it really is the wrong choice?

I have a book, somewhere in a box that is about finding your life’s calling. I never actually got around to reading it….perhaps I should dig it out lol ;)

Did you know what you wanted to be when you grew up? Do you know what your life calling is now?

Don’t get me wrong, I love writing, but do I really want it as a career?

How Do You See Yourself in Relation To Your Readers?


I’m not a published author ( yet lol) so I’d never really thought about my readers. No, sorry, that’s wrong. I have kind of thought about the type of person who would read my books, but I’d never thought about how I want to be seen by them.

Do I want them to see me as a teacher? Sharing my knowledge.

OR

As an entertainer? Delighting them with a captivating story.

So here is…..A Letter To My Reader (from my journal)

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Dear Reader,

You now hold in your hand a copy of my book. This is the future by the way ;)

It is NOT autobiographical, although, I will admit that there are several themes within it that I have had some experience of. As a writer, that is inevitable. The character of Laura is NOT me, but we do share traits and opinions. Good grief, I was a much more rebellious teen and owned enough makeup to open my own shop!

The book was written because of my fascination with people. I find everyone interesting. I like to know what makes people do the things they do and I’m a big believer in the fact that we are all responsible for our own actions, regardless of what influences we have had in our childhood. Our childhood is what makes us who we are, but we’re all capable of change, if we want it badly enough.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that my motivation to write comes from a need to understand people. I don’t consider my work will tell you anything you don’t already know, but I hope it makes you think. I hope it makes you question your own decisions and that you will ask yourself “What would I do?” if you were in that same position. Perhaps you will think about your own past decisions and those that I’m sure you’ll make in the future. Next time you’re faced with making a choice, think long and hard, and remember, this is it, you only get to live life once!

Hmmmmmm…..so perhaps I am a teacher of sorts? Or somewhere in between?

What about you? How do you see yourself in relation to your readers?

Professional Editing?


I recently attended a talk by Journalist Susie Steiner (at Faber) who told us that she had used the services of a professional editor to go through her novel before she started to send it out to agents. She urged us to do the same saying that she was confident that it was one of the reasons her novel had ended up in a bidding war between a handful of the top London Agents. She believes that it is a small price to pay to appear professional and serious about publishing your novel. I tend to agree. Why not try to make your novel the best it can be before submitting it to agents and publishers?

So today’s blog guest to continue our editing theme is The Proof Fairy AKA Alison Neale.

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I’ve known Alison for a few years now (going back to our BookCrossing days!) and have watched her start her own business and build up her clients. Alison has written me a short article which, I think, is very interesting, especially to those of you who are considering going down the Indie route :)

A Quick Guide To Editing For Self-Publishing Authors

It seems strange, but only a few years ago it was difficult to become a published author. There were two routes – you were lucky enough to be picked up by a publisher, or you paid a dodgy company to “vanity publish” your book.

Now, of course, it’s different. The introduction of e-readers – especially Amazon’s Kindle – makes it easy for anyone to be an author. All you have to do is write a book, upload it and wait for the sales to roll in, right?

Wrong.

Many self-publishing authors cut corners by missing out the editing and proofreading stage. The result? Thousands of books out there with fantastic plots and characters that make very few sales because they are badly written. If only those authors had employed an editor, it could have been a different story!

Part of the problem is not everyone understands what editing involves. It’s not just about checking the spelling – it goes a lot further than that. In fact, there are three distinct stages of editing:

Content Editing
A content editor will “sanity check” your book by looking for plot holes, inconsistencies and inaccuracies. Many self-publishing authors use “beta readers” for this stage of the editing and that’s probably the best way to go about it. Call on a dozen trusted friends to tell you – honestly – what they think of your book. Take on board their feedback and make the appropriate changes. Your book will be all the better for it!

Copyediting
A copyeditor reads your book line by line looking for spelling and grammatical errors, clunky text and more. A good copyeditor will create a style list that includes particular phrases, character names and locations – for example, whether you use OK or okay – to ensure styles are used consistently throughout. They’ll also raise any queries with you.
In mainstream publishing you’ll normally receive your manuscript back from the copyeditor, make changes and then send it for proofreading – but many copyeditors also proofread as they go along.

Proofreading
A proofreader inspects the final page proofs to check there are no missed typos, the formatting is consistent, page numbers are in sequence etc. However, proofreading can actually happen alongside copyediting, making the process quicker and less expensive. Bear in mind that you need to have your book (or parts of it) proofread every time you make changes, as it’s easy for mistakes to creep in.

Don’t be fooled into thinking editing is something you can do yourself. By the time you’ve planned, written, rewritten and edited your book, you will be so familiar with the plot and the characters you’ll overlook even the most obvious mistakes. For example, I once proofread a novel where a character’s name switched from Tracey to Tracy and back again from chapter to chapter. The author knew what the character was called but just didn’t spot the change in spelling – because he was too close to the book.

There are thousands of self-published books out there and you want to stand out from the crowd. Editing may be an expense you don’t feel you can justify – but when it makes the difference between a handful of sales and a best seller, it’s an expense you shouldn’t avoid.

Alison Neale, AKA The Proof Fairy offers professional proofreading and editing to authors and business owners. Based in Oxfordshire, she reads anything she can get her hands on! She is currently partway through writing her own book, about parenting a child with ADHD. Away from the office she loves football, food and family – not necessarily in that order!

Take a look at some of the books Alison has worked on.

Have you ever used or considered using a professional editor?