Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Size Matters (But Not in the Way You Think)

Picture from I can has force.

Size Matters in the Indie world, but here I think smaller is better.  Blog posts are short, Twitter is short, Facebook updates are short.

On the net, everything is bitesize. 

There's a major theory that our attention spans are getting shorter.  We are not paying attention to the world around us.  We only read blogs with pictures (like the nice one of the lady with the strawberry ------------>) or short blog posts. 

Readers like things short.

There is also lots of things on the net that are free. 
With so many free things abounding, how do we make our readers buy our books?  Well, the books have to be good.  The free sample has to hook them in.  Make them desire our books. 

And give them content that's bitesize.

NY may have turned its back on novellas, but they are alive and well amongst the indies.  Cheap enough that the freebie loving internet generation doesn't immediately discount them, short enough that an author could write several a year (writing full-time, at the speed I write, I reckon I could turn out 3  novels a year - so a lot more novellas, then) and short enough that the internet generation with its goldfish attention span doesn't mind reading them.

I don't know if my attention span is as short as a goldfish, but I do know that, unlike some people who have recently experienced a complete about-face with regards to e-books, I'm not likely to get a Kindle anytime soon (they're not worth it in the UK yet) and as a result I'm much more likely to download and read a novella, especially an inexpensive one.

So let NY continue with its a year and a half to produce an over-priced and under marketed novel.  After The Guns of Pleasure and Death comes out, I'll be moving onto novellas for a while.  

How about you?  Do you fancy lots of short, good reads, or something more substantial.


My new blog is a choose your own adventure.  I'm loving writing it.  I hope you love reading it, especially when it is finished.

You will find it here.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Damn!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And that's all I have to say about that!

So I figured on calling my imprint Kelpie.

I'm Scottish.  I write fantasy.

It works for me.

But there already is a Kelpie Publishing.  I'm not linking to them because they totally stole my name.

Now I need to think of a new imprint name.

How did you come up with yours?

Monday, 26 April 2010

Hallelujah I Broke My Head - Part 2

Off the cuff, can I say how much I love google analytics?  I'm bad (real bad) at geography, but the way I see it, if it's not in Scotland, why should I care?  

So, anyway, google analytics just told me where Malaysia is.  And it told me where Petaling Jaya is.  I did a google image search and the city is lovely.  I don't know who visited my blog from there, but thank you.  Now I know something new.

I love knowing new things. 

My broken head, part 2 carries on from My Broken Head Part 1 (the post immediately beneath this one.)

I was all for adding my Tome of Infinite Greatness to the assembled crap of the slush pile, seen on the left here.  With a title like The Guns of Pleasure and Death and a kick-ass septigenarian and a rampaging evil God it was so incredibly awesome it would stand ten miles out from the crowd.  It would blow them all away.

I am nothing if not confident.  (It would only count as arrogance if I thought I was better than I am.  But despite the fact that I am number one on this list, ((I am, go, check, look right back to number one... okay you got me, I'm not, but I should be)) I'm actually modest).

But then I started to think things through.  And I realised I didn't want to do that.  And I blogged all about my recalcitrance elsewhere.  Because I know how much you love reading about me, it's here.

And then I decided to go indie.

And that's when things got interesting.  Or difficult.  Depends on your point of view, really.

I mean, the cat probably finds this interesting.  The mouse, I'd say he's more angled towards difficult.

Interesting or Difficult: problems with POV

Weirdly I discovered my head had been subliminally altered by years of consumerism.  I thought the way I had been taught to think.  I bought the things I had been told to buy.  I was a good little Mass Media consumer junkie.  I was a 21st Century Zombie (that would make an awesome title).

I thought the way I was taught to think.  I thought e-books were wrong, evil, dirty, not real books at all.  I thought books should have a minimum of 80,000 words.  I thought novellas were wrong, evil, dirty, not real books at all.  I thought success could be measured in sales and money.  I thought Neil Armstrong had landed on the moon (the flag moves in the wind, for goodness sake).

I, who consciously rebel against conformity for no reason other than the fact that I like rebellions; I, who am in mind if not in body of a punkest mindset (I be a punk, right-o, yo ma bitch); I, who - yeah, you get the point.  I'm always that guy, the one not doing what he's supposed to be doing.  The one, you know him.  

I have problems with authority.  If I was a girl, I'd get pregnant just so I could piss in a policeman's hat.  What?  Are you saying you wouldn't?

And now my head has betrayed me.  It's a conformist.  Damn it, my head is a sheep, and it isn't a cool ass sheep like this one. 
 I love that sheep.

No, it's a lame duck type of sheep.  I'm not posting a picture because my blog is already nearly overrun with wool and animals.  Y'all might start thinking I'm Jodi Meadows' secret identity or something.  Incidentally, if you have never read her blog, you should.  It's good.  Nearly as good as mine.  It is here.

My head betrayed me, and so I broke it.  And now I'm free.  Now I see what I couldn't see before.   

 Oh, this one has gotten long, too.

Well, I shall post the third and final part of My Broken Head soon. 

Sunday, 25 April 2010

On the Nature of Fear...

 What scares you?

For some people, spiders are terrifying.  For others, clowns, or heights, will make them go weak at the knees.  Me, I'm scared of everything.  Honestly, I am.  I'm scared of the dark.

My house backs onto a field.  There are no lights in my garden and I absolutely will not go down there at night.

I'm scared of spiders.  I'm scared of needles and blood.  I'm scared of being burnt in a fire.  I'm scared of violence.  I'm scared of snakes.  I'm scared of cockroaches.  I'm scared of drowning.  And more.

I've held spiders.  I've got two tattoos, and been pierced in 8 different locations on my body.  There  was blood galore.  I'm fascinated by fire and have spent many happy nights burning my fingers and singeing my eyebrows.  I was always fighting at school.  I've held snakes.  And cockroaches.  I've learned to swim, swam half a mile (64 lengths in an Olympic sized pool) been white water rafting, been in a sinking ship simulator (in the Royal Navy; it was very realistic), and more.

The things I am afraid of... all of them, every single one without fail, have never been as bad as the feeling of fear itself.  When my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth and my heart rate speeds up, when I feel thirsty and sick and my guts squirm.  When I just wish I was dead and buried in a hole. 

I hate that feeling. 

But there comes a moment when whatever you are afraid of becomes inevitable.  I've always found that in that moment my fear disappears.  The adrenalin surges through my body, and I feel more alive than at any other time.  That instant, that bit of my life when I am utterly fearless and feel immortal, is the best feeling I have ever had.

Yes, I'm a coward.  And an adrenalin junkie.

I was at college last week, doing work for radio.  I had to ask people if they would answer one question: should the college do more recycling.  I couldn't do it.  I was terrified. It nearly killed me.

The very next day I saw a job ad and applied.  I was granted an immediate interview and offered the job then and there.  Tomorrow is my first day.  From tomorrow I will be going door to door trying to convince people to give me money.

I hate talking to people I don't know. 
I'm not only going to be talking to them, I'm going to be asking them to give me cash.  In a recession. 

I'm loving it already.

What are you afraid of?

Hallelujah I Broke My Head - Part 1

I finally done it.  I broke my head.  This is good.  No, this is awesome.

I have broken my head right open (makes it easier to fill with ideas).

I am so happy.

You see, like so many writers, I was chained to the idea of a BOOK - the idea set out by NY Publishing firms, by the Big Six.  

(Okay, so I couldn't find a picture of all six of the big NY publishers together.  But thematically this picture sends out the right message, I think).

But now my head is broken open.

I thought (as so many others do) that a book must be between 80,000 and 120,000 words.  I thought that I had to think up the best title I could, the title that would ultimately SELL my novel to an agent, from an agent to an editor, from an editor to his boss, and CARRY my book all the way to the SALES department where someone would arbritarily (is that a word?) decide that my title would never sell my book to anyone.  Ever.

Incidentally, a small aside to point out that this is one of the major reasons I'm going indie.  Publishers have a whole "the rest of the world are idiots" attitude.  I mean, come on, my title got the back this far, so obviously an agent, editor, publisher, blah blah can get excited about my title.  Why not Mr Joe Public?  Because he's an idiot.  Except I don't think he is.  I am the book buying public (well, not all of it, obviously) and I certainly don't see myself as being an idiot.  Interlude over.  Back to our scheduled programme.  

Hi, I'm back, and I broke my head.

I thought that my cover could best be thought up by a graphic designer who had never read my book but had a two sentence summary.  "The seventy two year old female MC has to save the world from a crystal skull wielding sorcerer on board the Titanic.  Oh, and simultaneously her 16 year old self has to save the world from a crystal skull wielding Amazonian high priest, told in flashbacks."

I mean, cover design is hard. It's not like Brain surgery, but come on, you have to choose the right font for the title.

Seriously?  Is it hard?  I mean, sure, the first time you do a book cover you have to learn that you never ever ever ever use Comic Sans, and that Courier and TNR are okay.  But do you have to learn this the second time you do a cover?  What about the 3rd time?  What about the twenty-fifth time?  With brain surgery, things can go wrong, complications can arise.  The operation can go arse buttocks to elbow (this is a family friendly blog; I probably shouldn't swear) but with typography you pick a fucking typeset and your done. (PS, I included a diagram in case some Americans weren't sure what an arse was.  I think you use ass, is that right?)

Cover design is easy hard.  I mean, look at this one as an example.  It's Blood of the Fold, book three of the Sword of Truth series. Now Book one and Two have a huge scarlett dragon in them.  Book 3 does not.

So why the Hell does the dragon only appear on the 3rd cover in the series?

Methinks the graphic artist read the first 2 books and got bored.  Which isn't a surprise, they're not awesome books.  In fact, they are the North pole to awesome's southnosicity.

Yes, it is a word.  Just because I made it up doesn't mean it isn't a word.  Shakespeare made words up, and people think it's awesome that he did.  Dickens made words up.  But people get all panicky if modern writers make words up.  English is an organic language.  It is alive.  You are allowed to make shit up.  Trust me, I'm a writer.

Not a published one, but that's no form of distinction at all.

I'm a writer.  Not a sheep.  

Though if I was, I'd be a cool ass sheep like this one.

But I'm not.

This blog post is getting long, so I'm going to split it in parts.  Tune in soon for more...

Friday, 23 April 2010

The Value of Editing

I recently received an email containing one of my beta's comments on my manuscript.  A lot of the comments I felt didn't really apply, for instance when the comment was that only one character seemed to be introduced (there is only one main character introduced in the first two chapters)  whilst other comments were essentially lost in translation (I will continue to spell artefact with an e; sorry, but I know I'm right and spell checker agrees with me.  So does the Oxford English dictionary.  :p   )

And some comments blew me away.


My novel is about an old warrior who heads out on one last battle, and discovers the only way to win is to die.  In some ways it has been vastly influenced by David Gemmell's Legend.

I love Legend, so no big surprise there.

There's a scene in Legend where Death comes to Druss and warns him that if he goes to war he won't be coming back.  If he stays in the mountains he can have another twenty years.

Druss goes to war.  He's a hero, that's what heroes do.

There's a scene in my book just like that.  It wasn't until it was pointed out to me and I thought about it that I realised it does nothing for the story.  It slipped in out of my love for Legend.  It's coming out.

This is the importance of editing.

I sent the full manuscript out to two beta readers.  They knew nothing about the manuscript before they started reading.  I told them I wasn't fussed about crits, I just wanted people to read it.  At least 1/3rd of my story is flashbacks, an entire second story within the novel.  I didn't tell them this; I needed to know if the flashbacks were confusing to people who had no idea they were coming.

I'm waiting on them coming back in.

When they do I will do a full, intensive revision.  I'll do the fact-checking edit myself.  It's something I feel I can do myself; with every fact I'll check in 3 sources to make sure I have it right.  I'll edit my grammar and spelling again.  This is something else I feel I can do on my own.

At school I was sitting Higher level past papers at standerd grade, and at Higher I never did a single piece of work except assessments and exams, yet I consistently had the highest grades in English in the entire school.  So I know I have talent in that area.

I've managed to get someone to agree to do me a free grammar and editing pass.  She is studying editing and needs the experience, apparently.  So despite the fact that I'm confident in my own abilities, I'm still having someone else look at it.

I'm considering having someone edit the whole thing for story.  I know it will be cost prohibitive (seriously, I have a budget of £0)  but there's no underestimating the importance of a good first impression.  I don't want to turn readers off future books because the first one is a mess.

And I need to make enough money off of this one that the next will be paid for (cover + editing).

Monday, 19 April 2010


I'm not normally an indecisive person. 

I've had my blog 2 weeks and made nearly 30 posts.

The look has changed about 30 times, too.

This is nice.  It is clean, looks professional, cleared up formatting errors I had.  I like it.  It functions.

I'm going to leave it like this.  I might get around to decluttering my sidebar.  Too many blogs are listed and I should separate them into sections.  I might not. 

If Danni succeeds in twisting my arm I might get a new header.

I might not.

But other than that, this is my blog.  This is how it looks.

If you don't like it, tough shit.  It's not yours, it's mine.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

The Face of Indie Publishing

Some people are putting J A Konrath forward as the face of Indie Publishing.  I don't really buy that.  Yes, he earns enough from publishing his own stuff to survive at it, but that's all he does.  Yes, he has a blog, but he doesn't crop up all over the place declaring Indie publishing as the future and fighting our corner.  Yes, he sells a lot, but he comes from a NY published background, and brought a platform with him.

I don't really agree that we need a face of Indie Publishing, but if we have to, should it really come down to sales?  That's a very NY way of looking at things.

Surely, the poster boy of Indie fiction should be someone so passionate about it that they can't keep their big mouth shut (in the nicest possible way of course).  Someone who is everywhere on this silly internet thing, speaking up about Indie, pointing out that it's worthwhile, corrupting those who were on the fence to trying our way of thinking.

Surely the poster boy of Indie fiction is already out there, somewhere, being all over cheerleader for the indies.

Everywhere I go, everything I read, a name comes back to me.  I'm yet to find a single Indie resource, anywhere on the web, that doesn't have a certain name attached to it.  Surely that name, that person, has made themself the face of Indie fiction?

Zoe Winters is everywhere across the net, on every site I come to.  I first discovered her on Nathan Bransford's blog, leaving comments about self-publishing.  She is on Indie Reader, and on Publishing Renaissance, and anywhere else I seem to look.  She was one of the first people to join my Guild (link at the top, please join) and she blogs and tweets about Indie all the time.

If someone has to be the face of Indie Publishing, it should be someone like Zoe. 

You can read Zoe's blog here.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

The Typography of Book Covers

Here are some book covers by debut authors or unknown authors.

Now okay the thumbnails are small, but the similarities are easy to spot.

First of all, how many of these books have you heard of?  I've heard of the one on the end, that's it.  I'm very intrigued by the first two.  Definitely by the first one.

So, some interesting covers.  Number three is very generic (a fantasy that has people on horseback riding through the mountains.  My Gods, I must buy this at once.  Yeah, not so much...)

But what do they have in common?

Try some more covers, not all fantasies this time.

Do you see what they have in common?

In the first four pictures, the book title is given far more importance than the author's name.  Because the title is the selling point in these cases.  "Oh, Fallow Blade," says the bookshop browser.  "I wonder what that's about."  In the second lot of four we see a shift to "Oh, the next Terry Pratchett/Dan Brown/ whoever book.  I have to buy that."

The Unique Selling Point or USP (seriously, if you want to market your books effectively, you will need to learn marketing.  And that means learning things like USPs and how to do market research and so on) alters in the second batch of books to be about the author.

Interestingly, even by book seven, Harry Potter was still considered of far more importance than JK Rowling.  That's the power of branding.

So, for the debut author it seems that you're title should be at the top of the book.  Should it?  Readers are subconsciously targeted by the layout of your cover.  If you give your name all the attention, it might suggest to readers that you are far more well known than you actually are.  And having the readers subconsciously thinking "Hmm, this is a popular author," can't be a bad thing, can it?

Oh, and it's not lying, it's marketing.  Well, it is lying, but marketing IS LYING.  And we are having to compete with companies that have multi-million pound turnovers per annum.  We need whatever help we can get.

What do you think?  Where's the title going on your next book cover?

These book images are all copyrighted.  I don't own the copyright.  I have used them simply for illustrative purposes.  I am not claiming to be the author or publisher of any of these books.  If you are the author or publisher of any of these books and you wish me to remove the image, please email me at Chriskelly82*AT*, replacing the *AT* with an @.

Thank you.   


Friday, 16 April 2010

Pick my Title

Yes, that's right; this is your chance to influence my title.  I have 2 options and can't decide, so I'm soliciting other opinions.

Oh, and if you'd like to read a synopsis, please go to the Pleasure and Death page by clicking the link above. 


1) The Guns of Pleasure and Death

2) Pleasure and Death

Post a comment, let me know what you think.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

When did writing become about the money?

When did it become about the Monet?  Sorry, that was awful but I couldn't resist.  Over at Pimp My Novel there's been a self-publishing debate going on, and someone pointed out that as I had a grammatical error I was deluding myself if I thought I'd get fame or fortune from self-publishing.

Okay, ignoring the fact that my blog style is conversational, and as a result I favour clarity and ease of communication over grammar, and this is not the style in which I write but rather the style in which I talk, I've got to ask, when did it become about the money?

Let's be honest.  It's statistically far more likely that you will win the lottery than become the next J K Rowling.

People don't seem to understand this, though.  Writing is seen as an easy thing anyone can do.  It is seen as something you can throw together, and send off, and the publishing world will instantly fall in love with your genius.

Well, sorry, but that's crap.

Nathan Bransford has pointed out there is a growing number of people sending in queries, and for every 1 that is readable there are 2 that stink.  My words, there.

Writing is an artform, but more than any other form of artistic expression, it is becoming about the money.  Incidentally, I don't class Hollywood movies as art; you get artsy movies, but they tend to be made by the Indies.

Painters don't paint with a market in mind.  Poets don't rhyme to industry conventions.  More and more, publisher's don't publish what is good.  Publishing is a business, as we are constantly told.  They publish good writing, we are constantly told.  No, they publish marketable writing.

Writers shouldn't have to mould themselves to a publisher's shape.  The story is the most important thing.  Some readers might read my novel and absolutely hate the fact that my heroine dies at the end.  Some people might question why I constantly point out she's going to die in my blog.  Matilda's death isn't the point of the story, it's the epilogue. 

I don't agree that winning equates surviving.  Sometimes the only way to win is to go down with your ship, so to speak.  Sometimes escaping fate reeks of deus ex machina, and pisses your readers off.  Surviving is necessary in NY styled books because if the book does well the publisher will want a sequel.

I'm sick and tired of buying Lord of the Ring clones and Wheel of Time clones and pissy fantasy books about bland heroes and heroines.  There are only so many singing forest elves and surly dwarves I can keep down, before I start regurgitating bad fantasies over my kitchen floor. 

There are better books out there.  I've found so many online.  I've read stories that rocked my world and changed the way I thought about things.  My favourite author doesn't write books (maybe I should call him a storyteller) mostly because he doesn't edit.


That's right, he thinks every aspect of his story through, and writes it down.  Then it gets betad for grammar or spelling or clarity, but there are almost never any mistakes.  After that, he might change a word or two.

He writes the best fiction I have ever read, and I read about 200 novels a year, so I've read a lot by this point in my life. 

People assume that self-publishing authors and Indie authors couldn't get "real" publishers, so our work must suck.  Well, no.  Some of us don't want "real" publishers.  Especially not when the former CEO of Random House has pointed out that publishers don't have a clue about how to treat the e-book phenomenon. 

Some of us aren't just writers, some of us are business savvy.  We look at NY publishing, and we see a creaking, groaning buckling industry ready to collapse.  We are not lemmings throwing ourselves off cliffs.  More like climbers finding our own way down.  And some of us might turn into birds and soar to the skies.  And some of us might fall. 

And that's fine.   It will separate the weaker writers from the better ones.  It will make it easier for readers to find writers who are good.  Because ultimately readers don't care who publishes books, they just want well-written interesting stories.  And 80% of the time that's not what comes out of NY. 

I'm not writing for the money.  I know my works not "commercial," but having read the clone-fiction that so often is commercial, I wouldn't want it to be.  And I'm not saying all NY work is clone work, so if you're aiming for that, good luck. 

Monday, 12 April 2010

How to find a beta reader - part 2

Well, this is my beta reader results.  It's been not bad, I'd say.

Writing Groups

I asked in the two writing groups I was involved in.  In one I received nothing, no offers.  But this isn't a fair assessment because one of the writers there is my usual beta reader and read an early draft version of my book before I reworked it.

In the other one, I received 1 offer.  Nice.

Crit Partner Match

I have had 0 offers so far from Crit Partner Match.


I asked at Superhero Nation.  I received 1 offer.  Nice.


I didn't ask.  They're not big readers.

 My blog

I received a request for a sample.

So, 2 and 1/2.  Well, 2 chapters.  Not bad, not brilliant.  I'm waiting on them coming back, and then I'll find out if my betas are any good.

In the end, I think the best way to get beta readers is to have a blog or twitter or join a forum.  Make connections.  Make friends.

And ask your friends.

But friendship is a 2 way street, so be ready when they ask you, too.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

My book cover requirements - book cover part 3

I've had four book covers done so far, all with the same artist. I give her a rundown of what the book is about, the feel of the book, the main characters, and then let her go to town. She always comes back with amazing designs. I've chosen to work with freelancers for art design, editing, and interior layout rather than do it myself, though. I just do the writing and publishing. :)
S.L.Armstrong left this as a comment on the previous post.

I'm going to do the same with The Guns of Pleasure and Death.

Let's see, synopsis.

16 year old Matilda Raleigh is deep in the Amazonian rainforest, searching for Manoa (El Dorado) with her father.  When they finally find the lost city, their entire party is killed by savage jungle tribes.  All of them except Matilda, who commits unspeakable evil to save her life.

72 year old Matilda Raleigh is dying from consumption.  After a lifetime of fighting evil, of trying to atone for her past, she is faced with one last quest; the evil magic wielded by those jungle savages has resurfaced, this time wielded by a power hungry madman, and she is the only one who can stop him.  But to stop him means committing an act so evil it will damn not only her, but 1500 innocent people to an eternity of Hell.

The book has a steampunk setting, but the general tone is very much sword and sorcery, a la Conan.

 Matilda Raleigh is a chain smoking, kick-ass Victorian behemoth, a woman who will not stay down and out for the count, wise-cracking, pistol-whipping, big-jacket-wearing old-style Hero with a capital haitch.

Now translate that into an image.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Book Cover Design - stage one

That last post was just to point out my tastes, aesthetically. Now I'm going to sum up parts of my novel, and see where they fit into possible cover ideas.

The 5 most important points in the Guns of Pleasure and Death

1)the guns
2)the skulls
5)the guardian/Midas

The genre is Sword and sorcery crossed with Steampunk, but in the tradition of Victorian Penny bloods.

So where does that leave me?


Locations: the Amazonian rainforest, Edwardian London, on board the Titanic.

Nope, still nothing is suggesting itself to me. Damn.

This is harder than I thought it was going to be. How did you come up with your book cover?

Book Cover - Preliminary Thoughts

I've started thinking about my book cover design.  On the one hand, my novel is sword and sorcery, so I'm considering elements of pictures like these. 

Now my main character isn't a guy, and the story isn't a fantasy.  There are no barbarians here-in, no axes either.  Oh, no, wait, there are 2 small handaxes.  I do like the way these barbarians strike such dominating poses. 

On the other hand, the steampunk elements are vastly important, too.

To the left, a complicated but gorgeous cover.  I love her goggles.  To the right, a simple yet captivating design.

I prefer the one on the left, personally.

This is a great cover.

Now that I've looked at ridiculously complicated book covers, it's time to consider ones I actually have a chance of pulling off.

This is my favourite book cover, ever.  So simple, understated, elegantly designed.  Lovely.

The UK release of Storm Front.  Gorgeous little cover.

When it comes to book covers, I prefer the minimalist approach.

This shall have to be considered carefully.

Friday, 9 April 2010

I wish I'd known this

In Britain, all expenses incurred can be carried forward year after year until you are published, and then you can claim them all back from your taxes.

I wish, wish, wish I'd known that ten, fifteen years ago.

Taxman vs Writer

Thursday, 8 April 2010

How to find a beta reader - part 1

I'm doing part 1 today.  I'll do part 2 in a few days time.

I mentioned before that the reason I have this blog is to detail everything in my adventures in Indie Publishing.  Well, now I've finished my novel I need beta readers.  And I'll post here with all my plans to get them.

And I'll post the results of my efforts in a couple of days.

Writing Groups

Okay, my first option is to ask in writers groups.  But you can't just pop up in these places and say "Hey, read my book."  Luckily I'm already a member in two online writing groups.  The first one is  mystical adventures and the second one I'm not going to name.

Mystical Adventures is a site where a small bunch of writers hang around and help each other procrastinate.  A great group of people.

The other site actually does critiques for each other, a chapter per month.

Internet Dating Sites

Well, not quite, but sites like Crit Partner Match are like dating sites for writers.  Join and post looking for your perfect partner.  Sounds simple, right?

Ask your friends

I kick about sometimes over at Superhero Nation so I asked there.  Why not?

Ask your family

Don't think you need to find beta readers online.  Sadly my family aren't readers.

And use your blog.

Anyone fancy being my beta reader?  Post a comment and let me know.

Are there any ways I've missed?  Post and let me know how you found your beta readers.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Indie vs self-published: is there a difference CLARIFIED Part 2


I was talking about hats.  About Indie Publishing hats, to be precise.  If you haven't read Part 1 of this post, you'll find it here.  

Anyway, hats.

I'm not trying to steal the Indie Author hat from anyone.  There are a lot of great Indie Authors out there.  A whole community of them, and if I or any one of them wants to make it big we have to support each other.  This support, this community spirit, is what we can have that NY publishers can't. 

United we stand...

Alan Baxter started Blade Red Press to self-publish his own work.  He now also publishes anthologies of other people's work.  He's a sound guy and when we've emailed he's always given me good advice.  He has a couple of books out, and if you haven't given them a look you really should.

Zoe Winters I already mentioned in the last piece.  She has a 10 year plan, and I think she'll go really far.

These are just two of the awesome Indie writers out there.  There are hundreds, possibly thousands, more.  And the cool thing about being Indie is the freedom; the freedom to blur genres, to challenge the traditional (and quite often boring) mainstream fiction streams, the I-can-do-whatever-I-want (as long as it's good) mentality. 

We need to network.  We need to support each other.  That is exactly what I'm trying to do with The Guild and I really, really hope it takes off.  Zoe was writing the other day that Indie Readers (people who love Indie writers work but don't write themselves) are looking for more writers to read.

The bottom line for big publishers is £££££ or $$$$$.  For the Indies it's more about the creation, the joy of bringing something to life.  I can't wait until my book is released and some comments how much they liked it.  I'll be like "OhhhhhmyyyyyyyygooooodddddddssssssI'msquuueeeeeaaaammeeeeeeeeeeeee!"


So, if you're an Indie and you think I insulted you, I am truly sorry.  I never wanted to do that.  I want us all to become a community, to support each other.  To link to each other's blogs, and point readers in each others direction.  Because they can read faster than we can write, and there's more of them than there is of us, and sharing is nice.

Big businesses, like NY Publishers, aren't interested in nice, and they aren't interested in customers.  They only care about the money, and that's why Indie Authors are threatening them.

PS, join The Guild.  It's free and I hope, hope, hope it will become the awesome resource that it could, easily, become. 


A background I like.  Yeeha.

Monday, 5 April 2010

I hate backgrounds

I think it's too hard to read on this, so I'll probably change it again.  Le sigh.

Indie vs self-published: is there a difference CLARIFIED

I posted a few days ago about Indie vs self-publishing, and Ian O'Neill replied.  I know Ian from elsewhere on the 'net.  Anyway, we had a good little gossip and it turns out he thought I was insulting him.

I was shocked.

No, Really, I was Shocked.  Okay, maybe I'm taking the piss a little here, but I saw this ----------------------------------->
and wanted an excuse to use it.

It was not my intention to be insulting (well, not to insult Ian.  There are some people who might be best served by being insulted.  Then they might go away and stop self-publishing crap books that no one will read because the writer doesn't understand basec gramar).

Yes, I know I put two spelling mistakes in there.  I was making a point.  It's ridiculous trying to read books with bad grammar and worse spelling.

So, anyway, I'm following Ian's advice and re-posting to clarify some issues.

What I think self-publishing is:

*    My daughter's school did a book about the janitor.  They sold about 30 copies.
*    My local writer's circle did a great book of new Scottish poetry, and sold 150 copies.
*    I picked up a self-published book from the College Library.  It was so bad I regretted having learned to read.
*    Self-publishing can be bad, or awesome, but is ALWAYS small-scale.
What I think Indie-publishing is: 
*    someone who has made over 4000 sales from 1 book on Kindle
*    someone who has gotten out more money than they put in
*    someone who is at a level where they could have been published by a NY publishing house
*    don't ask why this is accompanied by a photo of a typewriter; I have no idea

Zoe Winter's first novella, "Kept," is available from most places for free.  Amazon doesn't deal in free books, so she's selling Kept for just under $1 over there.  She has made over $1500 from Kindle sales.  Including free downloads, her novella has been downloaded nearly 25,000 times.   And her next book won't be free.  All these people who read the novella, and I bet at least half will buy book 2 in her Therian series.  Go, Zoe.

Ian O'Neill mentioned in the comments that he was a former Indie author who'd made back more than he'd put in.  Well done, Ian.  I'm sure it was hard, but I'm sure it was also worth it.  Although only Ian knows for sure.

Okay, to clarify my P.O.V. on the whole indie - self-pub thing:

No one would compare a big NY publishing house to a University Press.  I wouldn't compare someone like Zoe Winters to someone who's sold a half dozen copies to siblings and cousins.

Sorry, but I wouldn't.
Now I'm not trying to steal the Indie Publisher or Indie Author hat for myself and leave all my fine Indie fellows, guys and gals, hatless.  I'm not saying there all crappy little self-publishers.  That's really missing the point of what I want to do.

Anyway, this is getting long, so I'll post the other half tomorrow.  Until then, keep your hats on!

PS, you really should read Kept.  It is free, after all.  You can find it here.   I haven't read it yet (so don't think I'm saying it's good) but I intend to within the week.  I'll call it like I see it when I do (the sample I read was excellent).

You'll find part 2 of this post here. 


I don't know if it's just me, but my sandy background with footsteps has vanished. Can you see it, because I can't?

Sunday, 4 April 2010

New Look

So, is it Obvious what I've been doing today?

I apologise if you stopped by earlier. I went through about forty different background images (some which really, really didn't work) in about 60 mins.

So, what do you think of the look?

The Guild of Independent Authors.

I was looking for a forum geared towards Independent Authors, where I could meet other independent authors and ask for hints, tips and advice.  Where people even newer to the world of Indie publishing could ask me for advice.

I found


Zero.  Zilch.  Zitch.

So I made one.

Come and join.  It's free, and right now, it's kind of empty.

The Guild of Independent Authors

Saturday, 3 April 2010


Test post

Friday, 2 April 2010

The End (again)

 [url=]Steampunk World Presents...[/url] my new blog.


I like steampunk, it's what I write. But I also write fantasy, urban fantasy, comedy horror and occasionally non-fiction.

I don't love steampunk enough to constantly blog about it.

I've just about finished my novel. I'm going to indipendently publish it this summer. Head over to my new blog if you're interested in finding out more.

Hope to see you there.

Indie vs self-published: is there a difference

We're hearing so much lately about Indie Authors, but are they just self-published authors revamped for the new millenium? Well, okay, the millenium is a decade old, but it's newer than the last one.

I don't think they are.

We have

Traditionally Published (NY) Authors. They jump through hoops to get their work out.

Vanity Published Authors. They pay cash up front.

Self-published Authors. Small scale, often write crap, aren't that serious about the whole thing.

Indie Publisher/Authors. Serious business men and women who take their work seriously and seriously use the new technology in very serious ways. I'm serious.

So does that mean there's a difference? Well, this is how I see it. People self-publish books about their local towns or so on, things that have a very small geographical area of significance. There's no point in doing an e-book if your subject is Bonniebrig or if you fancy writing like this:

Ah dunnae kinn if 'at means there's a difference ur nae, but as far as aam concerned thaur is.

Imagine a whole book written like that. I could read it, but could you? So, self-publishing suits very small niche audiences. The writer can put the books together on their PC and print them out, bind them themselves and sell them on the streets of their hometown.

Indie authors are completely different. For the most part an indie author should have the same standards as a NY publishing house. An Indie author should run their own imprint. To look at music, an Indie author is the equivalent of the Ting Tings.

Ting Tings on youtube - Awesome, much.

A self-published author plays the local pub. Sometimes they're good, sometimes they're not, very, very rarely they'll be picked up by an agent/publisher/record company.

Labels are important. It's why you won't here me refer to myself as self-published from here out. I'm indie, and I love it.

What do you think?

Ian O'Neill pointed out I should clear up some misunderstandings.  I did, and you can find my new post here.