Happy Publication Day – The Dead Wifes Handbook by Hannah Beckerman

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So I was lucky enough to read the amazing “The Dead Wifes Handbook” in advance of its release today, a wonderful story of love, loss and moving on.Hannah was kind enough to answer a few questions for me – Review to follow but first here is what she had to tell me.

What inspired you to write a story of loss from such a unique perspective?

A friend had been discussing with me her feelings about her ex-husband starting a new relationship: her fears and vulnerabilities about secrets of hers that he might share with his new partner. I suspected it was something that a lot of us might feel unnerved by and as I thought about it more, it struck me that the most extreme version of that is when you die. And then I got to thinking about how you might feel if you could actually watch the evolution of your ex-partner’s new relationship but be powerless to intervene. Hence the dead wife came into being.

Did you find yourself getting emotional while you were writing?

It’s probably not the done thing to acknowledge that your own writing makes you cry, but yes! There were some mornings when I’d be up early writing and by the time my husband came into the study I’d be in tears. When I’m in the midst of writing, I do feel like the characters are real people I care about: so I’m sad when they’re sad and happy when they are. It does mean you get through quite a lot of tissues.

Apart from Rachel, did you have a favourite character or one that resonated with you?

I rather love all three of the lead female characters: Rachel, Eve and Harriet. I think they’ve all got their strengths (and weaknesses) and I suspect there’s a little bit of me in all of them.  I think Harriet’s pragmatism and sheer force of character are really refreshing (although I suspect she’s not everyone’s idea of a best friend!) and I love Eve’s vulnerability and generosity. And I feel incredible empathy with Rachel’s mum, Celia, too. She was actually a much less significant character in early drafts but after I had my daughter and started to imagine what it might be like to lose a child, her role and voice in the story became much more important.

Can you tell us anything about your next project?

Oh, Liz, you always ask everyone that and the answer is always the same! It’s under wraps at the moment – I’m just working on edits right now – but as soon as I’m ready to share it, I promise you’ll be the first to know. Well, one of the first…

 

Desert Island book

American Pastoral by Philip Roth.

One book you wish you had written

The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing.

First thing you would rescue apart from pets and family from a burning building

Not the most poetic of answers but my hard-drive – it’s got all my photos on (and I take a LOT of photos) and everything I’ve ever written. It’s one of the only truly irreplaceable things I own.

Something you wish you were good at but are not.

Sleeping. The upside to insomnia (reading a lot of books) has a limited shelf life. To be able to sleep for 6 hours straight would revolutionise my life.

 

Thank you so much Hannah!

Review

‘Today is my death anniversary. A year ago today I was still alive.’As Rachel grieves for the life she’s lost and the life she’ll never lead, she learns that sometimes the thing that breaks your heart might be the very thing you hope for.

I had been looking forward to this one, something slightly out of my “comfort” zone but one that sounded like it might end up being quite beautiful in the right hands and that was exactly how it turned out.

We follow along with Rachel, who died suddenly and unexpectedly from a heart problem, as she is allowed glimpses into the lives of the people she left behind..and in this creatively imagined way we ourselves catch a glimpse into the very real stages of grief. It is a gorgeous heartwarming tale, often bringing a tear to my eye…at the same time being full of a rather hopeful cathartic feel as all concerned come to terms with tragedy.

It is quite difficult to put into words how emotive this one was for me – so I’ll try and use my own perspective to give you an insight. I lost my Father when I was very young (not nearly as young as Ellie but far too young none the less) so it was easy for me to identify with her and understand what she was going through…and indeed what Max was going through as he tried to help her and himself. Then I am a mother of children similarly aged to Ellie – the very thought of not being around to see them through their childhood is horrific. Any mother will feel the same and will therefore be able to relate to Rachel, looking down occasionally but being unable to take back what was lost.

This novel captures the sense of so many things – love, loss, friendship, sadness, and hope..and how all things move forward over time. A tale of grief told from a unique perspective, beautifully written, heartfelt and impassioned, this one will have you reaching for the tissues..some of those tears will be happy ones. Most of all this is about love…and how sometimes that means letting go…

Highly Recommended.

Find out more here: http://www.hannahbeckerman.com/

Follow Hannah on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/hannahbeckerman

Purchase Information: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Dead-Wifes-Handbook-Hannah-Beckerman/dp/0718178149/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1392275409&sr=1-1

Happy Reading Folks!

 

Liz Currently Loves….The Glass Republic by Tom Pollock.

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Thank you to Jo Fletcher Books for the review copy.

Pen’s life is all about secrets: the secret of the city’s spirits, deities and monsters her best friend Beth discovered, living just beyond the notice of modern Londoners; the secret of how she got the intricate scars that disfigure her so cruelly – and the most closely guarded secret of all: Parva, her mirror-sister, forged from her reflections in a school bathroom mirror.

So a little while back I read the first of the SkyScraper Throne novels “The City’s Son” – review can be found here  http://lizlovesbooks.com/lizlovesbooks/liz-currently-loves-the-citys-son-by-tom-pollock/ and I entered the world discovered by Beth and Pen, getting utterly lost there for a wonderful few hours. So imagine my utter joy at being able to make a return visit.

Oh second books. They ALWAYS worry me especially if I have adored the first part with the whole of my reading soul, so yes ok a bit pensive going in – How on earth could it match the sheer addictive dancing joy of Book One? Well, I guess by doing exactly what Mr Pollock does here – take the strands of the tale told, give it a new perspective, a little twist, let the characters do their thing and open up the beauty of the world so far only partially discovered.

In this instalment we find Pen, dealing with the aftermath of previous events, trying to return to a normal existence but having to keep secrets…and when her mirror twin Parva goes missing, Pen must return to the magical underbelly of London and find a way to track her down. The cost however may be high…

When I use the dancing analogy in my description of these books that is the exact feeling the reading of them gives me – a fascinating, magical, magnificent jig of a story, taking you into a world beyond imagination that you can truly live in and let it become real around you. Following along on Pen’s journey, meeting up with both new and fondly remembered characters, it is a perfect adrenalin rush of experiences tempered by some downright emotional moments that cut to the heart.

For me this is right at the top of the tree when it comes to Urban Fantasy – a series I wish would run and run, one that definitely has a lot more to offer and all I can say now is – WHERE IS BOOK 3 – it had better come soon. We don’t want a total Liz meltdown…

Happy Reading Folks!

 

 

A Quick “Coming Up Soon” post. Lots of lovely book stuff.

Happy Monday everyone! Just a quick blog spot today on some things you can expect to see coming up on site soon. Firstly here is what I am currently reading.

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So reviews on those coming as and when.

Later this week we have Q & A’s with Hannah Beckerman and Helene Gesterne about these two fabulous books. Both very different but terribly compelling.

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Future weeks will see Q&A’s with some fabulous authors about some fabulous books. Hint:

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Feature Weeks coming soon:

Post Apocalyptic fiction week. I LOVE Post Apocalyptic fiction.

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Dystopian Week. I also love this!

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And Crime Fiction week. Yay.

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None of the above images were hints. Just some of my favourites.

 

So look out for all that and more on Liz Loves Books soon – and if you have something you would LIKE to see that I have not yet done please do leave me a comment.

Happy Reading Folks!

 

 

Traditional v Self Publishing – Thoughts of an Author – Steve McHugh.

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Talking about publishing today – Steve McHugh author of The Hellequin Chronicles.

http://stevejmchugh.wordpress.com/

A Less Traditional View.

 

There’s a lot of talk about traditional publishing vs. self-publishing. People seem to be on one side or the other, some venomously so. But I see no reason why you can’t use both; in fact I think that’s where publishing is headed.

I self published (or indie published if you’re so inclined) my first book, Crimes Against Magic on 30th April 2012. It was my second completed book and the first that actually was good enough for me to believe people might like to pay for it. It did pretty well, selling several thousand copies over the next 8 months until I published the sequel, Born of Hatred in December 2012.

Both books together sold well enough that in Feb 2013, I got offered a 3-book contract with 47North. They would re-launch books 1 and 2 and publish book 3 (which is out on 18th Feb). It’s put me in the somewhat interesting position of being self published and published by a publisher for the same books.

Going with Amazon has resulted in having people help out with promotion and marketing stuff, alongside having a comradery with the other writers at 47North that I hadn’t really experienced before. But then apparently that’s a rare event in the traditional publishing world.

The big difference is sales. I’ll happily admit to having sold a lot more in the 5 months with 47North than I did in the same period of time going alone. So, going traditional is the way forward? Ummm… no.

You see, having a publisher put your books out there is great and I’ve had a fantastic time working with 47North, but saying that I’d never go back to self-publishing would be a bit rash.

I made mistakes when self-publishing, probably loads of them, but I’ve learned from my errors and hopefully I won’t make them again, so I certainly feel more confident about self-publishing in the future.

I can see my future in publishing being a mix of both traditional and self. There are several reasons for this, but here are the big ones.

Going with traditional publishers means you’re beholden to their timetables. A book you pass to them today might not be published for a year or two or even more, while they slot you into an appropriate place in their schedule. That time you’re sat waiting about means you’re not making money. We all need money to be able to continue to write the stories we love. Self-publishing has a higher upfront cost (seriously get a good editor, cover artist and copy-editor), but you can start making that back the second you publish. If you’ve done it right, and you behave professionally there’s a good chance you’ll sell. You may not sell millions, and like anything it’s a bit of a gamble, but there are a lot of self published writers making decent money from writing and publishing their work themselves.

The same goes for books that aren’t getting any interest from publishers. Why not try it yourself?

But on the other side, having a traditional publishing house behind you, helps raise your profile; it helps get books into places that self-published writers might find difficult to achieve.

There’s a lot of data to suggest that those who both self and traditionally publish work make the most money. I don’t know if that’s true or not, and money should never be the sole reason you decide to go with one over the other, but it would be foolish to ignore.

So my plan is to do both. This year I’ve got With Silent Screams out shortly and I plan on getting book 4 written alongside some other work that I’d like to take to traditional publishers. But I also have work I’ll be self-publishing, simply because that’s what fits the story. And that’s what you have to consider. Which of those two ways fits you and your story the best.

Saying you’ll never self publish because there’s some sort of ridiculous stigma attached, is only hurting yourself in the long run. More and more people are getting picked up by agents and publishers who managed to succeed at self publishing their work first, and I firmly believe that’s a figure that will continue to grow over the next few years. I also believe that you should try traditional publishing first. You should send out those queries and get the rejections that we all hate. You’ll gain so much knowledge about the industry, and hopefully get advice on your work from the occasional agent, that if you do decide to go it alone, you’re in the best possible position.

Besides, all of those rejections are character and thick-skin building. And if there’s one thing you need as an author it’s a thick skin.

Thanks Steve!

Follow Steve on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/StevejMchugh

Purchase Information: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Steve-McHugh/e/B007YYWVHA/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1

Happy Reading Folks!

Traditional v Self Publishing – Thoughts of an Author – Neil Bursnoll

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Talking about publishing today – author of Augustus Baltazar – Neil Bursnoll

http://www.bourbonicafro.co.uk/blog/

With traditional publishing you don’t have the problems of finding money for an editor, or pushing your book out to big name papers and magazines to build early interest. When self-publishing, you have to build your presence manually by getting involved in discussions with like-minded authors, or following similar people on Twitter to get to know them. I can’t speak from experience down the traditional route, as my first novel, Augustus Baltazar, is independently published and is on more book websites than I ever knew existed. The subsequent promotion has all been down to me. The follow up will be self-published, and won’t be available in as many outlets.

 

There’s an enormous amount of legwork involved with self-publishing. I have to source an editor and numerous proof-readers myself, and have obsessed over little typos or grammatical fails. But this book is totally my responsibility, and I have to get it perfect. If there’s a slight miss of an apostrophe, or the faintest of punctuation mistakes, the reader is likely to spot it. And at times that reader can tell instantly if the book has not gone through the rigmarole of strenuous editing that a mass produced novel would endure. When you’re doing all of this yourself, it’s very easy to make the slightest mistake. Take your eye off the ball for one moment, and you’ll not even realise you missed an error. When it comes to the grand launch and consumers are starting to pick your book up, the last thing you want is a bad review based on inadvertent typos that you thought you’d deleted, or the broken margins where the formatting software didn’t quite understand what the tab impression was for.

 

Getting my own name out there has been rather difficult, as I’m one tuna in an ocean riddled with shoals. Confidence and the fear of rejection were always two problems I had when it came to my writing. I’ve overcome one of them by getting a book out there, but it’s still difficult to present myself when I don’t have the skills of a seasoned salesman. Last year I visited a local bookshop to see if they’d be interested in stocking Augustus Baltazar. I didn’t prepare myself properly, as I didn’t have my ‘elevator pitch’ or even a copy of the book in my possession. I put my request across, and he asked who I was and the genre. I replied with both, but then he asked the same question, albeit in a slightly different context. It completely caught me off guard, and after several seconds of brain whirring, I asked him to repeat the question. It came back at me in the exact same manner as his last demand, and I fumbled with my description so badly I’m sure he wondered what on earth I was doing there. Now he did say he’d be happy to take a copy from me, but I’ve not been back since. I’d clearly given a poor first impression and couldn’t face a second round of kidney punches. However, I’ve managed to get it stocked in two other bookshops, as well as two libraries. I was also featured in my local newspaper, which I’ll revisit when I have a children’s charity book ready to go later this year. Most importantly being classed as a published author has helped propel my writing. Finishing book one has driven me to finish the follow up in ten months, compared to six years for the first volume.

 

When it comes to Twitter, my main promotional tool, there’s a running theme. For every insightful tweet or random observation, there’s a swathe of promotional postings. Naturally, as a writer trying to find his feet, I follow a lot of other authors. Some write in the same genre as I do, others don’t. One running theme with a lot of them is the incessant self-promotion of their own work. Now that’s completely understandable – in a world where it’s relatively easy to self-publish, you need to get your head above the rest so that the average consumer buys your book and not that of the next person.

 

I’m not on Twitter to spam links to my books every time a great review is posted, or that it’s in the top 10 of a particular chart. That doesn’t drive me to buy a novel, as I may not enjoy it. If the blurb grips me, and the premise piques my interest, I’m more inclined to investigate. But with only 140 characters to fill, it’s very difficult to get your message across and make the consumer part with their money.

 

One of the things I enjoy the most about Twitter is game named Friday Phrases. It’s the brainchild of Amy Good (@amicgood) and it gives you the chance to construct a story in a tweet. Sometimes you can expand it in follow-up tweets, but more often than not they’re self-contained. I find that this is a great way of connecting with my followers as it shows what I can do, rather than endlessly peddling my releases in the hope that someone will buy a copy. In fact, I’ve seen countless articles announcing “Write this way!” or “Doing this? Don’t! Write like this instead!” If I do that, I won’t be able to stand out. I enjoy writing the way I do, and I’ve already connected with readers who appreciate it.

 

There are crazy amounts of people that are consistently discounting or offering their novels for free. It helps to get copies shifted so that people start reading your work, but when that promotion ends, does it drive up sales to entice other customers? There are countless books that I’ve downloaded when they’ve been free over the past year, and so far I’ve not read a single one. Yes, a bargain is a bargain, and I’m sure I’ll read each one eventually, but for me there is no further incentive to chase down that writer and yell “YES! I will read more! This was awesome!” Granted, I’m a very slow reader, so stocking up on all those freebies provides me with reading material for quite some time.

 

With a full-time job that isn’t writing and a family to raise, finding the time to both write and promote is a case of as-and-when. Twitter is a monster to get through when you follow so many people, and I’ve only recently started to use Google Plus. After a bad experience last year, I’m joining forums of like-minded writers and readers again, which has actually helped boost interest in my debut. Long gone are the days of watching the Amazon ranking every other hour, as the sales have dropped so steeply its soul destroying to see it trickle away. I read last year that the more books you have for sale, the better chance you have of selling, and with the next Baltazar novel out in a month or two, there is hope that it may cause a small spike in sales for both volumes. The first one performed well on release, but that’s more because I have friends and family who are genuinely interested in my writing. I have a few other releases planned in 2014, and I may give one of them away for free permanently, perhaps as part of my email signup. It could help market my style and in turn build my fan base. I can’t control the price of Augustus Baltazar, otherwise that would be reduced on the release of book two to get new readers into my series.

 

But the big issue here is why should I give away something I’ve spent so much time slathering over and honing? All of those years of researching and writing, followed by months of editing and rewriting. Throwing it into the ring for a freebie bonanza may help get a few new people on board, but what about those who are exactly like me? How many other readers out there snap up a free book but never read it? The simple fact is, as I don’t have a huge marketing budget to propel me into people’s consciousness, or the luxury of a popular broadsheet gushing over my every word, I need to consistently make myself known. It feels like I have lead in my shoes when I need the winged ones of Hermes.

 

Thanks Neil!

 

Follow Neil on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/NeilBursnoll

Purchase Information: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Neil-Bursnoll/e/B00CLFW8LG/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1

Happy Reading Folks!

Traditional v Self Publishing – Thoughts of an Author – Ken Mooney

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Today talking about publishing is author of GodHead – Ken Mooney.

http://kenmooneybooks.com/

 

If I went looking hard enough, I could probably find some of the first things that I wrote. A school copybook here, a discarded Word document there.

 

Looking back, I’m embarrassed to admit that some of those stories were ‘fan-fiction,’ or that’s what we’d call them these days. X-Men, Power Rangers, even the Stargate movie got a look in. I grew out of it by the time I hit 12, but it was too late: the damage was done.

 

Even to this day, I still pay more attention than I should to bright spandex-wearing evil-fighting teenagers and sci-fi takes on mythology: if you’ve read my work, you can possibly even see that right there on the page.

 

I enjoyed writing, and in my head, it was something I’d get to do later in life.

 

As I grew older, I didn’t think that would ever happen though: perhaps it’s something to do with the Irish mentality. I got compliments, I got encouraged, but I never really had the confidence to put my work forward. And I think I’ve figured out why.

 

Back then, in the late 90s and early 00s, social media hadn’t really taken off. Sure, there were forums and communities where you could put yourself out there, but to a teenager, these were more about finding people with similar taste in music – music that had been totally legally acquired too!

 

At a time when you’re doing exams and talking about your future, creative options weren’t really on the cards: I’m sure if I’d had the balls to ask, I’d have gotten answers, but ‘writer’ didn’t really link up with ‘career’ and ‘bills’ for me. Back then, I saw writing as this difficult mountain to scale, a career where you really had to find your own path. The most visible writers were those at the top of their game, and that was a height I could never reach: there was no real sense of scale, no fledgling authors who weren’t ‘the next big thing’ (although if I’m honest, just having a book out automatically made them a big thing. )

 

For the next few years, I toyed with writing, but it wasn’t important to me: it was a hobby, a passing interest. I wasn’t really committed, but when I went back to look at the silly little things I’d written as a teenager, I found stories, elements and characters that were all my own. I had dismissed them once upon a time as fanciful indulgences, but these elements still had roots in my brain, and it didn’t take long for them to make themselves known once more. Separated from the worlds that I thought had inspired them, they began to grow and take on lives of their own. And now, with something posing as maturity and confidence, I set out to develop these stories and find where they would lead me.

 

They didn’t really lead me anywhere. I started writing the same book three different times and got lost around the second act. And I didn’t really have anything to motivate me to push my way through. I set myself deadlines, but here’s the thing about those: there’s no punishment when you don’t meet them (and let’s be honest, that smug sense of self-satisfaction doesn’t really count as a reward either.)

 

Motivation arrived a couple of years later, and I didn’t realise that it could grow in such a way. In 2009, both of my grandfathers passed away within a month of each other, both in similar circumstances. They’d both been key figures in my upbringing: the time I’d spent in both their houses as a kid had been reading and writing and generally being creative. A few years later, I still wasn’t sure how to deal with their loss, and that there was only really one way of finding out: when I wrote I felt free, unhindered by all the woes of the world. So what if I used that approach to exorcise my own demons?

 

It was too raw to talk about it in the first person, so I picked one of the characters I’d come up with years before and made her go through the same thing. She was kind of like me in personality and temperament, and in the relationship I created with her grandfather. And sitting there on my laptop, spying on her in the hospital room as she cried and mourned, I realised that this wasn’t my grief any longer. I’d transformed it into something else, and when I asked some friends to read it, they knew where it came from. They gave me the same compliments and encouragement that I’d heard years before, but now I saw what they meant. I felt like I had actually produced something to be proud of and that meant something to me. This scene, meant to be an appendix that would exist only in my head, became a pivotal part of this character: I couldn’t tell her story without reference to this moment.

 

With that in mind, I decided I was creating something, and nothing was going to stand in my way. The old stories came flooding back, reminding me of characters and situations that I now understood in a completely different way.

 

To keep myself motivated, I attended a course, a once-off evening at a writers’ centre here in Dublin: Getting Published. It was the first time I’d properly spoken to someone who had published a book; it was the first time I’d sat in a room with other people who wanted to publish books. It was the first time I’d done a lot of things.

 

I was sort of shocked to find out that those people had the same issues as me: confidence, motivation, deadlines. Some of them had even been rejected by publishers. They were a hell of a lot further up that mountain than I ever hoped to be.

 

Suddenly, I had practical advice and guidance for every element of publishing that you could fit into a three hour workshop, from submitting to agents to keeping yourself on target.

 

And it was the first time that self-publishing was presented as a viable and respectable alternative to traditional publishing. Up until then, self-publishing was a dirty exercise in vanity: to be fair, the only stories I’d heard were about vanity press who charged several thousand quid to publish the ten copies of your book for you, your friends and family.

 

I decided to work on this novel once more, putting my head down until I had the bare bones of a story. And I submitted it to an agent. And she wanted to read more.

 

Ultimately, that agent wasn’t interested in the book, but she gave me feedback: this time the encouragement and compliments came from someone I didn’t know, that I didn’t suspect of just being nice to me because they knew me. It didn’t really matter that the book wasn’t picked up: before I’d even heard back from her, I’d already started on a dramatically different second draft. And what’s more: I had the luxury of being able to do so.

 

When I found out about the Authonomy website, it seemed like the perfect place to give this second draft an outing. What’s more, I was connecting directly with people who were on the same page as I was: my work was getting some great feedback, and we were all able to help and learn from each other.

 

Draft after draft, the story that I had written came closer to a novel: it was no longer just a story, but it was becoming Godhead, my first novel. I submitted it to three further agents: eighteen months later, I’ve still only heard back from one of them.

 

So what drove me to stop querying agents and start thinking about self-publishing? Honestly?

 

It was all about frustration, not about rejection: I was more frustrated at the very act of trying to submit. Godhead was a genre book, but it wasn’t a straight genre: the manuscript was hovering around 200 pages of print, and that was just in single-line spacing. My frustrations arose from researching agents who outright said they would not read genre fiction; from agents who insisted on being mailed a physical copy of the manuscript that would have taken me hours to print and cost a small fortune to send.

 

And above all else, I had invested in this story: I wasn’t changing it for anyone else, and I didn’t want to share.

 

Once I decided to self-publish, the idea just kept gathering momentum: self-publishing in itself was the goal, and the only thing stopping me from achieving it was…well, me.

 

My first stop on the journey was a book cover: I knew plenty of friends I could ask, but I knew it needed to stand apart. I commissioned a cover and the guys at Design For Writers helped to build an amazing brief which challenged by own thoughts on the book and made me more confident about it. And when the cover arrived in my inbox: well then it hit me. This was really happening.

 

Godhead got multiple edits, little things changed, big things stayed the same. And then, sitting at home one bank holiday Monday, I decided it was time to push the button and just let it out into the world. And it was that easy.

 

After publishing, I found out a few home truths about writers too: they’re just regular people too. Turns out a lot of people I’d connected with on Authonomy had taken the same steps and self-published their own books around the same time. We were on the journey together, and we were able to continue giving each other advice and support. And now that social media existed, now that I had some confidence, I found myself interacting with other writers and editors, with people whom I was previously in awe of. And they too…they were normal and human. The unattainable height didn’t seem quite so high any longer.

 

That’s when things got interesting and I realised that the path I was walking was bringing me in some very unusual directions.

 

I was working on the sequel to Godhead when a friend approached me about something different entirely: a query involving my day job. I was glad to help, but a passing comment opened a door that I hadn’t even noticed. He worked in publishing, local history, something I didn’t really have any experience in. And he thought I’d be the perfect candidate to write a book that they wanted to publish, all about the end of the world.

 

This wasn’t even fiction: it was more academic, something I’d never have considered doing on my own and, I’ll be honest, something I was terrified to even try. I’m still not sure what really happened either: it was a fun couple of weeks of building a pitch, doing some research, but I didn’t expect anything to come of it. I spoke about my experiences of self-publishing, about what I had done and about what I wish I had done differently. And when this went to for approval at the publishers, they liked what I had to say.

 

Next thing I knew, I was researching and writing a book about the end of the world, thrown in at the deep end of the publishing industry in a way I never thought would happen.

 

There were some big differences between self-publishing and this sort of writing, and I learned a few things that I’m able to take back when I want to self-publish my next book. Deadlines, collaboration, deadlines, more deadlines: it’s a good, disciplined approach that I didn’t bring to my work beforehand, but when someone else is expecting to see a book on their desk, on a specific date, it’s hard to disappoint.

 

They both have their benefits, and they both have their downsides: but until I climb to the top of the mountain and I get the six figure deal that doesn’t really exist, I’m prepared to have the best of both worlds.

Thank you Ken!

 

You can follow Ken on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/kenmooney

Purchase Information: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Ken-Mooney/e/B00BW49AKO/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1391586684&sr=1-2-ent

Happy Reading Folks!

Traditional v Self Publishing – thoughts of an author – Dean Crawford.

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I asked 3 authors to tell me their thoughts on Traditional publishing and Self publishing – later in the week you can hear from Ken Mooney and Neil Bursnoll, but today its the turn of Dean Crawford who has been traditionally published and has since self published. Thank you to all for taking part!

www.deancrawfordbooks.com

When I started writing way back in 1995, self-publishing was virtually impossible in any reasonable numbers without a considerable financial investment. For decades traditional publishing houses had held sway over who did and did not get published, for only they could afford the expense of national and international distribution. Fifteen long years later, when I signed my first publishing deal, things had changed considerably and publishing was teetering on the edge of a new era. Now, the game has changed completely with the rise of Kindle Direct Publishing, CreateSpace, Smashwords and many others.

I have had five novels internationally published in my career so far ( by Simon & Schuster and Touchstone USA ). I sold around 100,000 copies in my first year of publication, some of those titles have been Sunday Times best sellers and from time to time I’ve been contacted directly regarding the movie rights to those books by Hollywood film producers. You’d think that I was safe and sound, right? Looking forward to a long and happily published career ahead? The truth is very different. Many authors I have met in my career have since returned to day-jobs to pay the bills. Others soon will do. Although I’m still full-time as an author and will be for many years yet, one of my novels, a post-apocalyptic thriller entitled Eden, was sent to publishers on both sides of the Atlantic and was roundly rejected by all of them. My agent, Luigi Bonomi, was stunned. So was I. Had I written a terrible book? Had we made some error of judgement?

As it turned out, no. Major publishers obsessed with contracting their lists to contain only the types of books selling at any given time in BIG numbers were not looking for male-orientated action-adventure novels. They were looking for female-orientated, darkly psychological tales: the next Gillian Flynn, or the next 50 Shades. Eden just wasn’t a viable purchase for them at the time.

Left with a perfectly good book with nowhere to go, I decided to take the plunge and self-publish it instead. I did some research, learned how to convert the novel to HTML, designed a good cover and contacted bloggers for reviews. I figured there was no point in buying advertising, because I wasn’t likely to reach far into the charts given that there are about 750,000 e-books on Amazon UK and over two million in the USA. I had been told by many people that if I self-published I was doomed; “traditional publishers won’t like it”; “sales will be negligible”; “you’re wasting your time”. With a heavy heart I published Eden exclusively to Kindle, hoping that it might sell a few copies here and there, maybe get my name known in a different genre. It might even earn me a few quid if I was super-lucky.

Six months later, it has sold some 14,000 copies and ranked high in the Paid Kindle charts on both sides of the Atlantic, reaching #1 in the Post-Apocalyptic sub-category and seen me feature as one of Amazon.com’s Top 100 authors by sales of that one book alone.

It’s only fair to point out that with a decent portfolio of traditionally published books behind me I had a better ‘launch-pad’ for success than somebody starting out from scratch. However I was and still am utterly stunned by Eden’s sales, so much so that I have since released further titles under the banner of my company, Fictum Ltd: Holo Sapiens and Revolution. Both titles are selling well. In 2014, I will be releasing sequels to Eden and Holo Sapiens, as well as a series of novellas entitled Survivor: nine volumes each released at the beginning of each month from May onwards in the manner of a TV drama.

The publishing world has changed completely in just a couple of hugely eventful years. Publishers are trying to stem the tide of e-publishing but I think that they need to adapt and embrace the new model or render themselves irrelevant. There are first-time, self-published authors out there who have worked hard to publicise themselves and gone on to sell 100,000 copies of their books in a single year, reaping 70% royalties at the same time. Few traditional advances and publishing deals with their 12.5% royalty rates can compete with that.

Does that mean that in the future I will only self-publish? No. I like working with publishing teams, and the big houses can reach far broader audiences than Amazon, especially in translations and subsidiary deals. As I write this I am working on two projects for my literary agent that will be sent to the major publishing houses for consideration. I hope that they will be bought and sold in countries all around the world. But if they’re turned down then I will self-publish them, because I can’t think of a single good reason not to. They’ll never be off the shelves. They’ll never go out of print. I can boost publicity for them at will, edit mistakes whenever I want or change the cover if I feel it’s not working well. If it is selling well, I might find it sitting next to BIG NAME authors in various categories or appearing as a “customers also bought this” title, giving a huge boost in potential recognition and thus another avenue to bigger sales. In effect I am a miniature publishing house, minus the hundreds of staff, printing costs and big-city overheads.

It’s becoming ever harder to get noticed, however, and just like traditional publishing a few big names take the lion’s share of the sales while the majority lie in obscurity far down the rankings. But, and it’s a big but, even the authors who have not yet been noticed HAVE been published. Their books are not gathering dust in a drawer somewhere or languishing on a hard-drive. They’re working their way up the Amazon ranks, and the authors are publishing new books and gaining followers and fans as they go. Some end up being signed to leading literary agents and establishing traditional deals as a result of strong digital sales ( there’s irony for you, eh? ).

Today, self-publishing is no longer just for authors who for whatever reason could not find an agent or a traditional publishing deal. Today, it is a viable place to both begin and build an entire publishing career. And it’s definitely here to stay.

Thank you so much Dean!

You can follow Dean on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/DCrawfordBooks

Purchase information : http://www.amazon.co.uk/Dean-Crawford/e/B004UO651U/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1391501807&sr=1-2-ent

Happy Reading Folks!

Natchez Burning by Greg Iles. Worth every MINUTE of the wait.

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To be Published 13th March by Harper Collins

Thank you THANK YOU to Kate and Bob at Killer Reads for the advance copy. Probably THE best book post I have ever had.

Penn Cage is facing a son’s worst nightmare – having his father stand accused of murder. Worse, each effort to defend the legendary Dr Tom Cage unearths new, shocking secrets, leaving Penn to question whether he ever really knew his father at all.

So for those of you who have not read the previous Penn Cage novels from Greg Iles (the first being “The Quiet Game” ) I would encourage you to do so, however you CAN start here – the first part of a planned trilogy featuring the character, as there is enough information for a new reader without actually spoiling the previous books.

There are reasons why this is one of the best “presents” I have received since reviewing seriously – a few years back I read the last Penn Cage novel, “The Devils Punchbowl” which was as brilliantly addictive as all the rest. When it ended there was a hint, a taster if you like, for what might happen next. In the notes Mr Iles told us that, unusually, there would be a further Penn Cage novel the following year (usually there is a bigger gap – he also writes TREMENDOUSLY gripping standalone books and never actually intended to write a series but Penn wouldnt go away) then of course disaster struck. Mr Iles was involved in a serious accident – all that mattered after that was recovery. I, for one, am extremely grateful that recover he did over a period of time, otherwise the world would have lost another great writer on top of the obvious horror of personal loss for his family.I prayed. I’m sure his other readers did as well. And now here we are..

And what a glorious, once again addictive, seriously mind blowing read we have here. Absolutely gripping. A deeply involving story about the effects and events surrounding racial tension in the Deep South Mr Iles blends fact and fiction with terrific effect. Past leaks into present with terrifying results and as well as being a most fascinating tale, for this reader it was also an education. These subjects are dealt with in previous books but for me this was a revelation.

On top of all that, there is the well drawn, compelling story of the relationship between father and son. Tom Cage is a local hero, known as a moral man, loved by many, the backbone of his community and a much admired Doctor. He grew up during the troubled times where the colour of your skin determined how you were treated, viewed, what you were allowed to do with your life, where you could eat, sleep, drink. Always assuming him to be on the side of truth and justice, Penn has always had the greatest love and affection for his Dad and an instinctive trust about who he is. All that is about to be thrown up into the air, who knows where the pieces will land or what will be left of this trust when it is all over.

Amazing. The only word that springs to mind. As dark secrets begin to emerge, you will be swept along with the sheer beauty of the writing, the absolute emotion of each moment and often sitting on the edge of your seat awaiting answers to, frankly, unanswerable questions about the way human beings treat each other. Will Tom Cage ultimately turn out to be exactly who Penn thought he was? Or is he as fallible as the rest…

I am in awe. And I cannot wait for the next part of the story, it has buried itself deep within my reading soul and I imagine that overall this is one that will stay with me for life.

Read it. Love it. Live it.

Happy Reading Folks!

 

 

 

The Three by Sarah Lotz – THIS is why I love books.

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Coming May 22nd from Hodder and Stoughton

Thank you to publisher and author for the ARC.

They’re here … The boy. The boy watch the boy watch the dead people oh Lordy there’s so many … They’re coming for me now. We’re all going soon. All of us. Pastor Len warn them that the boy he’s not to­­–
The last words of Pamela May Donald (1961 – 2012)

Four disasters. Three Survivors. A message to change the world…

Yes well. For those of you who were hanging out on Twitter a few days ago if I say “What Sarah Pinborough said” you know you have to immediately add this to your reading list right? If you missed that absolute little gem, sorry, you’ll have to make do with my random rambling. I will attempt to write a more articulate review nearer publication…or I may just leave it at this…

So you know when you finish a book and then sob quietly into your pillow thinking “WHY did I read it, now I can NEVER read it again for the first time?”. There is that. And you know when you are reading a book and you have to keep going back and reading sections again because they are so delicious? Yep there is that as well. And very occasionally a book captures your imagination SO much that you look up half expecting to see Kay Burley on Sky News trying desperately to interview random passers by about an event from the book? Yep got that a lot as well…

Here we go then. One dark day, four planes crash for different reasons on different continents…from the wreckage of those planes emerge three survivors. All children. One woman who briefly survived leaves a message…and what follows is a series of events that really will change the world. Told as a “book within a book” in an expose style we get an absolutely addictive narrative mixing up interviews, articles and letters from various people involved in the aftermath of that day…and watch open mouthed as the world goes mad. Conspiracy theories are rampant and its all so terribly realistically scary, hence my many “Kay Burley” moments…

And creepy children. My achilles heel. See I do NOT get scared by books, movies, random noises in the night but show me a child who is creepy and I’m behind the sofa immediately. But ARE they “creepy”? Or is it just me? It MIGHT be just me. Its probably just me…right? Read the book. Its probably just you….

Imaginative, intelligent, brilliantly written, giving any mind an intense work out of the kind that extends into your dreams (or nightmares) and takes over your life for a while, this is absolutely one NOT to be missed. When you can, grab a copy, find a day that is YOURS, find yourself a corner and enter the world of “The Three”…it may be closer than you think…

Find out more here if you dare http://www.sarahlotz.com/home/

Follow Sarah on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/SarahLotz1

Pre-Order Information: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Three-Sarah-Lotz/dp/1444770365/ref=sr_1_1_bnp_1_har?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1391165180&sr=1-1&keywords=the+three+sarah+lotz

Happy Reading Folks!

Liz Currently Loves….Unravelling Oliver by Liz Nugent

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Coming 6th March from Penguin

Thank you to the publisher for the advance copy.

Oliver Ryan is a handsome and charismatic success story. He lives in the leafy suburbs with his wife, Alice, who illustrates his award-winning children’s books and gives him her unstinting devotion. Their life together is one of enviable privilege and ease – enviable until, one evening after supper, Oliver attacks Alice and puts her into a coma.
In the aftermath, as everyone tries to make sense of his astonishing act of savagery, Oliver tells his story. So do those whose paths he has crossed over five decades. What unfolds is a story of shame, envy, breath-taking deception and masterful manipulation.

To say this book was gripping would be to put it mildly. And I don’t think I have seen a book so aptly titled in a long time. Unravelling Oliver is exactly right. Oliver and Alice seem to have the perfect marriage – he writes childrens books, she illustrates them, and a fair few people are envious of what they have together. Then one night for no apparent reason, Oliver beats Alice, severely and without mercy. But why? What exactly made him crack?

What follows is a compelling and comprehensive “unravelling” of the man behind the mask – told from various points of view, including Oliver’s, we begin to build a picture of the true nature of both the marriage and the people. As those that crossed Oliver’s path over the years tell their story you will be  fascinated, sometimes horrified but always urged onwards, unable to look away.

This is terrific writing because there are many strands to this one – Oliver’s childhood, his formative relationships, background filled in by those who knew him. The juxtapositions between how they view Oliver and how he views himself are completely and utterly engrossing…as an  intriguing look at one man’s psyche this works perfectly. I was completely and utterly unravelled myself.

I won’t say too much about the other characters you will meet along the way – they are all extraordinarily well drawn and as much as you learn about Oliver you will learn about them – and possibly fall in love with one or two. I know I did. And this has a great “finish” to it as well. Clever. Loved it.

As an intelligent psychological suspense novel, this is top notch. If you enjoy a book that gets to the heart of people then this one is for you. Highly Recommended.

Follow Liz Nugent on Twitter here : https://twitter.com/lizzienugent

Pre-Order Information: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Unravelling-Oliver-Liz-Nugent-ebook/dp/B00F10Z4HI/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1391069815&sr=1-1

Happy Reading Folks!