TheWeave -#Fantasy -Out Now!

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It’s taken eighteen months, two full edits and countless revisions to turn my debut fantasy novel ‘The Weave’ from a two thousand word short story to a seventy-odd thousand word novel. I can almost quote it by heart.

It’s out on Amazon now – a bit earlier than anticipated. Here’s what it’s about:

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I’ve brought out the e-book first with a paperback to follow.

If you feel motivated to purchase for the incredibly affordable price of £2.99 (or equivalent) just click on the image above and it will whizz you to the Amazon page.

One final request – reader reviews are extremely important to authors. They are the prime influence on other potential buyers and help with Amazon rankings. If you do purchase ‘The Weave’ please leave a review. It doesn’t have to be a long screed – just a star rating and any comments you feel moved to make.

Now I’m looking forward to finishing the next book.

Thank you to everyone who has helped me spread the word. I appreciate your support.

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Do You Really Want To Know What I Think?

About a month ago a friend of a friend asked me if I would read and give feedback on his first book – a work of fantasy – not a genre that I go out of my way to peruse. A bit reluctantly I agreed and I read the book twice and conscientiously made notes.

More than anything the dialogue in the book turned me right off. I clearly had a hidden expectation that characters in a fantasy novel would speak in a certain way. Not, I hasten to add, all “thees, thous and thines” but equally not “punks and assholes” and crying “wanna play hardball d’ya” whilst riding a dragon. I found the modern idioms just brought my subconscious expectations of fantasy novel dialogue crashing about my ears and from there, I became aware that I was developing a slightly jaundiced view about the whole book. But then, since I’m not a fan perhaps am I just a gnarly old bag totally out of step with fantasy fans ‘expectations?- (Rhetorical question, no reply necessary thank you.)

That wasn’t really the problem though. In my day job over the years, I must have run hundreds of workshops on giving and receiving feedback. When I reread my notes I realised something. Except for a few editor- type points, I didn’t give this guy real feedback – information that is:
• Specific
• Objective
• Not “right or wrong” but based on facts, evidence or observation.

Instead, I gave him criticism (and praise) that is:
• based on opinions and feelings
• couched in generalities and
• as happened in this case, leads to defensive arguments about who is right and wrong.

I have to say, to my eternal credit, despite being one who loves a good battle now and then, I resisted the temptation to engage.

There’s nothing inherently wrong in giving praise and criticism, except, as I’ve said to groups over the years: “What are you going to do with it?

As more and more of us self-publish and by-pass the conventional feedback routes from agents and editors, beta testing our magnificent opera on unsuspecting friends, relatives, friends of friends has become part of the writing process. Its got me thinking – of what value is what they tell us and, more to the point, what should we do with it?

Should my friend’s friend take note of my carefully and sensitively constructed objection to his dialogue and do a massive re-write? Does it depend on whether he’s looking to satisfy existing fantasy fans or pull in newcomers? Is he breaking new ground with his style and language? Does he go with a majority vote from his testing panel? Will he feel the strength of his own convictions and hold fast to what he’s created?

I’m still trying to put myself in his shoes but it’s Friday, the sun is out as is the tide, so I think a stroll on the shoreline is called for where I can keep mulling it over.

Kindle Revisited

My exclusive 90-day deal with Kindle Prime for Time for Your Life will soon be up and I thought now might be a good time for a bit of reflection.

The original idea for Time for Your Life was to start to build up a library of articles and e-books on my business website http://www.thecoachingcorner.co.uk to support my coaching activities. I never expected to sell many copies – just as well really as it turns out.

The book garnered 3×5* reviews on UK Amazon and 1×5* on Amazon.com (Thank you Gwen Bristol) but I have sold very few copies through Kindle. On the other hand I have negotiated three-year licence agreements with a couple of companies for it to be available to the staff via the company intranets. This alone has more than covered my costs and will keep me in jelly beans for a good few months. Both those agreements came about because I sent free PDF copies to Human Resource Directors and two of them got in touch with me. The next step is for it to be available as a PDF via an on-line training and personal deveopment resource website: http://www.glasstap.com. This will expose the book to a completely different market.

I also had some picture postacards printed with the front cover of the book on one side and message/address space on the other. These I sent out to my past and present individual coaching clients. As far as I know none of those has resulted in any Kindle sales but I have sold PDFs.

So what have I learned?

1. Publishing an e-book takes very little time if you have the tech skills or the right people behind you. However marketing an e-book and getting sales takes a very great deal of time. I haven’t put nearly enough time into marketing. I had a marketing plan but seriously underestimated what time it would need – particularly finding, getting and keeping active on different book forums, blogs etc.

2. Pricing an ebook is a bit of a thorny question for me. I didn’t do enough homework on prices and so, in comparison with other books that appear to be of similar content, Time for Your Life may look pricey. £6.00 as opposed to the £1.99ers. Perception is all here. I have a view that if something is offered for sale at what seems to be a very low price then I have very low expectations of it and am more likely to pass on it. I also hold to the belief that you can always lower a price but if you start low and then try to go up in price, you pretty soon piss off a section of your customer base.Maybe I need to review these beliefs…I’m not sure.

3. I’ve mentioned this in other posts but for non-fiction it still may be better to bite the bullet and go for hardcopy publishing. I’ve been asked so many times for a hard copy or “proper” book as many have called it. I think this is an issue of disposable v for keeps.

4. I’m not totally convinced of any advantage Kindle Prime offers for this type of book other than the % rate. With hindsight I would have preferred to have offered the book from the get-go in as many ways/formats as possible.

So just something to chew on this Friday morning. I’d be more than happy to hear your thoughts/experiences – perhaps between us we should put an ebook out on the definitive way to self-publish.

Anyhoo – signing off for the weekend which is predicted to be warm and sunny – so have a good one.

Of Reviews and Reviewers

Just been reading an interesting post from Slepsnor at Legends of Windemere about book reviews.

It seems there are a nasty-minded numbnuts out there, savaging authors’ books just for the hell of it.

The post got me thinking about reviews and how important (or not) they are. Certainly when I’m a prospective purchaser of anything other than books I will check out reviews and I can think of a couple of occasions recently when a review has influenced me not to buy.

When it comes to books however I’m not really interested in reviews. Whether I (or anyone) likes a book is almost totally subjective and subtly influenced by other factors such as curiosity, what friends are reading, price, cover, any other books by the same author and genre.

I bought and read The Da Vinci Code and 50 Shades of Grey for no other reason than curiosity and because friends were reading them. I didn’t like either of them for different reasons but I never felt the need to rush off and write a destructive review.

I find well-thought out constructive criticism is often more helpful than paeans of praise; a thoughtful opinion whether for or agin a book, short story or article helps me to see and get to grips with other perspectives. However a mouthy infantile slagging handed out to an author deserves nothing but contempt. I say handed out to the author because I do believe that the author is the real target not the book.

To me there is something quite cowardly about writing a review that aims to destroy a book and make nothing of it and its author. It is the act of a bully and a bully usually protected by pseudonym or anonymity. Thankfully whilst they may seem to shout loudest they are not the majority.

Is it envy, a sense of their own inferiority, scatter-gun malice or just plain stupidity that motivates these type of reviewers? Are they looking for five minutes of fame? I neither know nor care. The best medicine is silence – a total refusal to even acknowledge their existence.

Crisis of Confidence

Scary yet exciting times; book finished and formatted; a bit of techie stuff to do and it’s all ready to be launched on an unsuspecting world. At this point in the writing process I find just one question going round the revolving door that is my brain. No, not “will it sell?” Rather “is it any good?” It is at this point that my confidence in my own ability takes a nose-dive and I start second-guessing myself, working up into a right old tizzy.

Should I have put that in? Should I have left out that bit? “Is the tone right?” “Perhaps I should change the order of the content?”

Now this is a 60-odd page non-fiction book about how to create more time/space to do the things you want to do in life – imagine how much more painful it would be if it was a multi-multi-thousand word family saga. Anyway, how do you judge whether a book is good or not?

I know there are communities out there in the www world where I could submit work for peer review; having visited some of these sites and read some of the reviews they seem “red of tooth and claw”. The words “constructive” and “feedback” apparently don’t appear in the lexicon.

I have good friends who will give me helpful feedback but I’m suspicious that they don’t want to hurt my feelings, so it doesn’t count.

Am I alone in this? Do other writers suffer the same sort of crisis of confidence as they sign off their work or do they just not give a rat’s ass?

But you know what is really ironic? In my other life I am a personal development coach. One of the most frequent issues I work on with clients is their confidence. Talk about physician heal thyself.