There wasn’t a single haggis sandwich in sight, nary even the sniff of that Scottish delicacy, Fried Chocolate Mars bars…a whisper in the right waiter’s ear, however, could produce a splash or three of decent malt Scotch Whisky, so my birthright heritage was preserved. For there was I, resplendent in full dress kilt, hosting the book signing and launch of VENGEANCE WEARS BLACK in that premier centre of Scottish cultural heritage, Abu Dhabi…the superb people at The Beach Rotana Hotel pulled out all the stops and did me proud (but I think alerting Interpol was perhaps a bit over the top)…Being firmly established myself at the bottom of the Z-list, thankfully an array of Abu Dhabi’s A-listers provided a much needed balance to the entire affair… many turned up in their best frocks, (even the ladies), and a good time was had by all…the expected age-old question was thrown at me several times in the course of the evening, “Is anything worn under the kilt?”…to which, as usual, I was obliged to respond, “If there was anything worn underneath, this would be a skirt, not a kilt!”…However, I think I now have an inkling as to why Billy Shakespeare wrote so many works…I think he probably had a book launch for his first effort, and got the adrenaline surge that comes with having it out there, and decided to keep pumping out more books… it was the launches he was after, (and maybe a Fried Mars Bar or two)…if ever there was an incentive to get the next tome finished, a book signing and launch is right up there in the motivation stakes…Right, I’m going to lie down now and daydream about the next one… nurse, where’s my pills ?…
Monthly Archives: August 2012
My favourite funny man of all time is the Scots comedian, Billy Connolly…I can watch re-runs of his tapes endlessly and still he makes me laugh…One of the many good things I learned from him is that it’s okay to quote stuff from other people, just so long as you give credit where it’s due…with that in mind, the following little story comes, not from me, but I heard it a while back from someone else, whose name has long since gone from my feeble memory…however, the story involves a class of six year olds who’ve been asked to draw anything they feel like drawing…halfway through, the teacher asks one of the little girls, “What’re you drawing, Maisie?”…Maisie replies “I’m drawing God.” “Oh, my,” says the teacher,”how can you draw God when no-one knows what He looks like?” Unperturbed, Maisie responds, “Well, they will when I’ve finished”… I love that story, and it underlines a bit of my own emerging philosophy in writing novels…”How will we know when it’s done..” WE JUST DO. How often it is that I’ve seen writers share about the angst and mental tussle on what to put in and what to leave out, to get THE THING done…Listen to Maisie… you will know when it’s finished, then stop. Another item I’ve pinched from somewhere unremembered is about a young man writing a letter home to his mother, ..”Dear Mom, please excuse the 20 pages— I didn’t have time to write a 1-page letter.” … That’s all about editing, isn’t it? The real tough work is getting the mammoth tome into merely a huge tome, before realizing that the slimming course for the book really takes several iterations…how often we look for perfection, and therein can lie a Catch-22…try this other stolen story… a young priest ducks out from taking church service one sunday morning to go play golf, on his own…during the round, he scores a hole-in-one, not once but twice in his round…The Archangel Gabriel says to God,”Isn’t that a bit off, boss,–he’s playing truant from serving the church and you’ve let him score two aces…shouldn’t you be punishing him instead?”..”Oh, but I am punishing him, Gabby,…who’s he gonna be able to tell ?”…Beware the quest for perfection…Now, that’s enuff philossoffy for one post…time for my meds and into my jim-jams, here comes Matron…see you later ..
HE was considered the school dunce…slowest in his class… would never amount to much…HE was Sir Winston Churchill…THEY would be lucky to get an audience anywhere…their stuff would never catch on…waste of time booking them…THEY were The Beatles…HE could hardly hold a conversation until he was four years old…he was considered ‘slow’ minded…HE was Albert Einstein…Fast Forward in Master Gallacher’s Time Machine to our modern age…IT will never be a permanent fixture…too many reasons why it won’t work…never get universal acceptance…IT is indie self-publishing..’d’you see a kinda pattern in there someplace?…I certainly do, and I’m REALLY DUMB…the swell of UNconventional wisdom is becoming unstoppable…learned discourse now points to swarms and swarms of writer butterflies emerging from their author chrysalises to beat their myriad wings against the bulwark of BIG PUBLISHING (how bluudy poetic is THAT?!! My word, you do get good vocabulary value in this blog, doncha!!??)…years ago, I came across the most wonderful snippet, buried as a throwaway footnote in one of the old Readers Digests (embdy remember them?) captured in somebody’s local newspaper’s Lost and Found Advertisements — “…Found. One small kitten, about six weeks old, black fur, with white paws and cute pink nose…answers to the name, ‘Go Away…” …I can’t help but get that ‘deja vu’ sense of “Go Away’ with the indie author phenomenon…IT”S HERE TO STAY , and if you’re not sitting on the bus when it takes off, you’re gonna miss the ride… get your tickets here, NOW… meantime, I’m going back to bed,, Nurse’s got my calm-me-down-stuff-in-a big-bottle.. see you later …
The Merseyside guru of all things Strawberry-Fielded and of All-Day-Sleep-ins-With-Ladies-Of-Japanese -Names, mister J.Lennon, once invoked us all to Imagine There’s No People…allegedly that was ‘easy if you try’..Nowadays, it seems even more straight forward to imagine, given the propensity to become immersed in Sosyal Medya and the Web Universe to the total exclusion of any contact whatsoever with other members of the human species…learning to use the Sosyal Medya to best effect is somewhat akin to getting rid of all the crocodiles, where ‘all you have to do’ is boil the ocean…easy concept really, but impossible to apply…I once read some advice from a golfer far better than I, which would be almost any golfer truth be known, not to try to play at the level of the best professionals, but to play to my own body shape and strengths…how does that apply to Sosyal Medya? I hear you complain about my diversion there, …simply this…there are so many elements that make up the world of electronic linkage nowadays, that trying to hunt down all of them simultaneously is the fastest route to lunacy and abject madness… like golf, there’s usually more than one obstacle to overcome in getting from start to finish…so play to your strengths…if you have a Twitter Twibe following that likes humour, then giggle up your message that way…if your Facebook Friends rejoice in photomontages, get the visuals flying, if your Goodreads Groupies gorge on in-depth descriptive passages, lyricize at will, and if your Blogging Buddies can banter with the best o’ them…indulge the Blarney…understanding that getting your messages across to different audiences requires made to measure detail is vital…being the Compleat Idiot that I am, it’s taken me more than a year thus far to fathom some of this stuff, but the dim light is flickering a little clearer as the months roll on…I even expect to see a real person soon one of these days…meantime, my own message de jour is simple..my early novel THE VIOLIN MAN’S LEGACY is on FREE KINDLE PROMO this week, August 15th -19th... (yes, I did say ‘FREE’ and I’m a Scotsman—blue moon in the sky?) …I’ll scuttle back to my ward now, meantime the links are here :
I take no issue with anyone who competes in any sport, let alone those who percolate to the pinnacle of Olympic standards, but I have to ‘fess up right here that I roll around helpless on the carpet every time I watch the start of the walking races…d’you know the ones I mean?…the competitors get ready, crouch in that intense pre-race athletic pose, and when the pistol pops, they sprint(?), er..streak(?), er.. amble almost into the start of the race…in fact, they’re usually about a minute or two into the event before anybody realizes it’s already started… Why, you ask, am I referring to this?…I’m glad you asked…Coz I’m about to embark in a similar sort of activity, albeit in a parallel discipline…free book promotion time…believe me, as all you indie authors out there’ll verify, it’s every bit demanding as some of the stuff being served up in the London events this week…AND it’s so much like the walking race…you alert the usual suspects, the Kindle freebie Twitter channels, the blog bit, the klaxon announcement on Facebook, the Goodreads ‘come-to-the-event-invitation’ where nobody actually ‘comes-to’ anywhere…it’s all virtual, but hey, who am I to challenge the Web-by Universe’s way of doing things?…You line up the Kindle Select People (who ARE these masked men, anyway?) …and off you go… the promo goes ‘live’ …the excitement is akin to that of watching paint dry…you wait for the downloads trickle to turn into..another trickle.. and if you’re really lucky, in come Uncle Bert and Auntie Mabel again with their downloads…ah. family, doncha love ‘em?…and so it goes on for the length of time you’ve booked the freebie for…I’m doing mine this coming week…so DON’T say you haven’t been warned…from Wednesday, August 15th until Monday, August 19th (until close of business West Coast Pacific time…yeah, go California…)…you can for FREE, download THE VIOLIN MAN’S LEGACY, my first offering from last year that astounded me more than anyone else on the planet by hitting well over 25,000 downloads (I never knew I had that many relatives, seriously, folks). So, if you wish to continue to make a happy man feel very old, you need not sprint, but amble on over to your Kindle supplier and download at your leisure…I’ll be waiting at the finish line with the Gatorade and blister pads…meantime, gotta go lie down, my medicine’s due soon…quite exhausted I am, Matron…
That oft-quoted alphabetic genius, Sam Goldwyn, is credited with coining the phrase, ‘…a verbal contract’s not worth the paper it’s written on…’…I think the same thing can be said about entries in Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Blogs, and all the other goblin-ish, fiendish, incomprehensible media that has deluged my life since Al Gore told me all these years ago how he’d invented the World Wide Web just for me…they’re just not worth the paper they’re written on…they’re worth MUCH more …What? They’re not written on paper ? I..I..I..I knew that…but my point is in there somewhere… the worth belongs to the beholder (in pretty much the same way as does the visual assessment of beauty)…at the risk of shoehorning some subliminal advertising in here for the credit card industry, social media usage in many cases can be PRICELESS…what value, young sir, would you place on camaraderie? or you, ma’am on an affirmatory caressing of your writer’s ego? or, heaven forfend, the chance in a billion that some agent or publisher will catch your gems across the ether filters and ring today with the ten-book and six-film contracts? Nay, it’s worth more than all of these presents put together…the bond of sharing, of getting on the same wave-lengths ( however eccentric they may prove to be), is glorious reward for the hours, days, months and decades spent ‘working’ on the internet…There exist on here more ‘-ships’ than in ten Armadas– Friend-ships, Pal-ships, Buddy-ships, Mate-ships, Etcetera-ships, Etcetera-ships…the message is clear, don’t miss any of these boats—get aboard the networks, join the banter, swap the invisible calling cards across the laptoposphere… be PART of it all… it’s great fun…and if you wanna find a little time to do some writing while to you’re at it, be my guest…I’m just off to find a new carbon paper for my Mac…see you later…
The deliriously wonderful penladyship of Ashley McCook is the nugget that’s on offer for your enjoyment, as she bravely steps up to be my Guest Blogger on this occasion. Just read…and savour the wisdom and humour:
Because You Love It!!
(AKA: A Suspiciously Simple Guide To Self-Publishing)
Quick Seumas, Matron and her cronies are debating various shades of grey again (and they call us mad! Ha!), pass me a pencil and paper…I know you have some hidden somewhere so don’t give me that look! Thank you. Now quit looking over my shoulder, you can read it when I’m done, off you go and count your sporrans again. Good man.
Last time I counted there were around 3 squillion Bloggers, Tweeters, Linked folk, peeps with Klout and…whatever you call a collection of status-posting Facebook types, all waxing lyrical about this wondrous New World known as ‘Indie’ or ‘Self’ Publishing.
In terms of freedom of speech, this is of course pretty fabulous. In terms of actually finding your feet as a newly (or about to be) self-pubbed author, it’s absolutely mind-blowingly mental!
Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE BLOGGERS! I love all of the opinions – some of them are belly-laugh-inducing funny (Like yer man Seumas here, or the rather wonderful Catherine Caffeinated), some are deathly serious (Check out this terrifying vision of the future from the Guardian); there are a number of well-trod paths – ‘build a platform’, ‘don’t spam’, host give-aways’ – and for each of these there are equally well-known counter-arguments – ‘be yourself’, ‘market your book daily’, ‘don’t EVER make your book free’. Every one of these bloggers and article writers has an angle, good arguments, enough statistics to make your brain melt and tribes of followers nodding enthusiastically. And why not?! Fair play to them all for standing up (well, they’re more likely to be sitting at a computer but you get my drift) and sharing their views and experiences with the rest of us.
If you’re a newbie to these shenanigans and you’re finding it all a bit dizzying, maybe even a tad discouraging, then this post is dedicated to you ‘cause this time last year I was in your shoes and, as a none too bright, forty year-old sitting deep in her writing cave in a wee seaside town in Northern Ireland, I felt like Dorothy setting unsteady feet on Munchkinland soil and wondering what the bloody hell was going on!
There’s just so much to think about at once: What is a ‘Social Platform’? How do I build one? Should I build one? What price should my book be? If I give it away for a week am I de-valuing all the hard work of other authors? Should I just have an eBook or is it worth trying to put a paperback out there too? What if physical copies are on their way out? Will there even be bookshops in a year or two? What is Amazon Select? What are sales algorithms? Do I need Klout? AAAAARRRRRRGGGGGHHHHH!
So, after a year, what can I tell you? What little nuggets of wisdom can I share ?
Well, first of all no-one out in the Bloggosphere/Twitterverse/Facebook…um…place is an expert (including me) – we are all just sharing opinions and experiences and ideas in a big explosion of information so there’s no right or wrong way to do any of this. In my humble opinion you should just use your common sense, write the best book that you can, get it professionally edited if you can afford it (my first has a lot of embarrassing mistakes), get a decent cover on it, don’t pay mad money for ANYTHING and then send your baby out into the world in whatever form makes the most sense to you (eBook, paperback, audiobook, printed on a tea-towel…well, okay maybe not that but whatever floats your boat, baby!).
Secondly, don’t stress about Social Media, gaining a million friends/followers – just connect with like-minded folk and enjoy their company. Retweet/share/Like etc. etc. etc. whatever Blogs, Tweets or Links that you find interesting – chances are, if you like them then other people will enjoy them too and before you know it that fabled ‘platform’ that everyone goes on about will be rock solid under your feet. Enjoy the ride wherever it takes you, get involved, read other Blogs, interact, leave comments, expand your horizons without ever leaving your chair.
Thirdly – marketing is a tricky business. I haven’t figured it all out yet and it’s a steep learning curve but the best advice I can give is to do your research; find another Indie writer in the same genre as your novel, what are they doing to promote their work? Is it working? Would it work for you? Any others doing something different? Be aware of SPAM (not the stuff that comes in a tin!) – there’s a thin line between promoting your book and annoying the hell out of everyone. Find the line by watching your Twitter feed – you’ll know it when you see it, trust me! – and then try very, very hard not to cross it yourself. Your first book will be a learning experience all the way along and you WILL make mistakes but don’t crumble under them, learn from them and vow to do better next time. You’re only human!
Fourthly – ignore the haters, doom merchants, trolls and idiots. You will encounter them all and some of them will succeed in making you feel miserable, pathetic and unworthy if you let them. Don’t worry though – for every pain in the ass that you meet, there are 30 lovely, generous, supportive folk waiting to make you smile and inspire you. You may never ever, get to meet them but they will become your cyber world friends and, on days when your soul needs a lift, they will provide the wings.
So, the absolute number one, top of the heap, most important, mega-lesson that I’ve learned this year?
Yep. That’s it – keep writing! Keep getting lost in your imaginary worlds with your made-up friends and that beautiful alter-reality that your imagination has gifted to you. Keep telling your stories; in the end of the day that’s why you’re here, because you write and you love it!
Damn! Matron’s on her way with the medicines, here’s your pencil back, Seumas. Yes, it’s a bit of a wee stumpy thing now, isn’t it? Sorry about that. Ooh, I love your new jacket. Are you cold? No? Then why do you seem to be hugging yourself? Oh, I see…
Ms McCook has done me blog site proud with this marvellous piece, for which your ‘umble servant is most grateful.
For those of you sensible enough to want to taste more of Ashley’s work, that can be found easily as follows: