Valletta: the European Capital of Hipsters

Valletta: the European Capital of Hipsters

From Justin in Malta 😉

The Champagne Epicurean

“On the long dinner table a field of food waved yellow in the dim light of dusk. The Cuban prepared deep fried pork rinds like they did in Cuba, but the rest of it was Maltese stuff; cold pasta, timpana, Maltese bread and sausages, aljolli, and saucers with olives and capers.”

The above is a quote from a novel I’m currently writing called Once Upon a Time in Cuba. For the context of this blog you don’t need to know what the novel is about; what you do need to know here is that this novel has a lot of food in it. Maltese food. Old Maltese food. And drink. Lots of drink. The kind of fare that’s becoming harder and harder to find.

The novel, as the title implies, draws a lot of parallels between Malta and Cuba. There are similarities between the two distant isles:…

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Phase one ends. Now for phase two…

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A reconstruction of an Anglo-Saxon hall

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Yesterday I completed the historical phase of my current WIP Autumn 1066. As I said earlier, I will now walk away from it for a week before I begin phase two, the fictional side of the story. As I also stated earlier, this will be a novella. Or to put it another way, an extremely short book. Having written the historical side of things, means that the first phase stands at slightly over 6,300, or thirty pages in the standard 5×8 paperback size.

Once I have completed phase two, I will offer its text to my beta readers, either as a read only .pdf, epub or .mobi file, for them to offer their thoughts and undoubted criticisms (everybody is a critic – right?) But, only on the condition that they agree to write a pre-publication review, which I will add to the finished product when I publish it as a paperback, always providing its favourable and short – ten words or less.

If any of you wish to become one of my beta readers, partaking in the privilege of being able to read it long before the general public, please email me at jackeason5@gmail.com after reading this post.

When I have completed the story I will then email a copy to anyone who has requested to be a beta-reader for this my latest WIP. Think of it as your one chance to not only read it for nothing, but also to participate in a new book’s evolution. Definitely something to brag about to your circle of family and friends.

PSPotential beta-readers please note that as its as historically accurate as is currently possible, given the paucity of actual facts available, means that phase one leaves no room for expansion, unlike the fictional side.

Remember this also – all favourable pre-publishing reviews accompanying any book, providing they bear the actual name of the person responsible for them and not a pseudonym, are what always convince others to read any book these days.

I hope to hear from some of you in the next few weeks while I’m busy writing phase two…

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Avoid all the literary con artists on the Internet like the plague!

The words on the picture below reminded me yet again about something that sooner or later all writers come across – so-called litarary experts…18032992_1179548492167908_3489112258262059821_n

Somerset was, and still is, perfectly correct. When it comes to writing, no one knows what the rules are. I have no doubt that today’s literary experts, will vehemently disagree with that.

Which begs the question, why should you listen to them? You shouldn’t!

If one of them latches on to you by offering their help, ignore them with a vengeance. Why? Because without exception they are talking through their backsides. How many of them are failed writers? About ninety-eight percent. The remaining two percent have become so-called editors whose only aim is to take your money. Either by editing your MS at so much per word or line of text, or by offering to publish your book, once more at a price, in their capacity as the owner of a Vanity Press.

In the nineteenth and the first half of the twentieth century, flim-flam merchants were easier to spot. People were always on their guard when it came to crooks and charlatans. Once the internet was born it opened up all sorts of money making opportunities for con-artists. Offering editing services was just one…

These days they tend to dazzle the unwary with their fancy internet sites promising to make you famous as a writer, but always at a cost. Some even claim to be professional editors, which is an out and out lie, because there is no such thing. As yet no universally recognised qualification has been devised within the academic world!!!

Don’t dismiss all small press publishers. not all of them are crooks.

Each of us old hands knows at least one good one, depending on the genre they specialize in. One who immediately springs to mind lives in South Africa. He goes by the name Joe Myndhardt. Joe is rapidly making a name for himself. He owns and runs Crystal Lake Publishing, specializing in publishing horror.

If ever there was ever an area where the words ‘buyer beware’ still applies, it very definitely is today’s literary world. If you enter with your eyes closed, I guarantee that you will be fleeced by the unscrupulous, and then some, believe you me…

Of course you are entirely free to ignore my advice. But don’t complain when you find you have been taken for a ride by yet another money grubbing fly by night.

Before you begin to write, take the time to talk to other writers. Those of us who have worked in the literary school of hard knocks for decades, are well worth your while listening to. Remember, we started out just like you as total innocents in what can only be described as the toughest market place there is. We’ve all made, and learned from, the same mistakes waiting in the wings to catch you out, long before you even thought about writing that book…

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Which is more important…

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…the cover or the book’s content?

Quite simply, if a story is not up to scratch, no amount of money spent on a cover and an ad campaign will help sell what is in effect, a lame duck! – (cardinal rule of publishing)

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If you listen to some writers who swallow everything they are told, hook line and sinker about spending money to market their books, the one thing they are adamant about is that it always takes precedence over the book’s content. This line of thought is nothing more or less than complete bulldust, designed to hook the gullible!

If your editing skills are not up to scratch, by all means pay to have your MS edited if you must. But that’s all you should be paying for!

All serious writers and bibliophiles know and have always known that the story is alway more important. Do you honestly imagine that the cover and marketing are the first thing reputable publishers think about??? These days there is far too much emphasis placed on how a book’s cover looks, as well as promotional video clips.

As I said in yesterday’s post – Let’s face facts, if a story doesn’t sell itself, there is no point whatsoever in pouring good money after bad by trying to improve its visual packaging in an attempt to make it stand out from the crowd in an already saturated marketplace! The only publications with pretty pictures I know that sell well are called glossy magazines or Bimbo fodder to you and I. When it comes to pictorial covers, those of us who have been in this game for several decades are all guilty of changing them in the past, hoping to shift more copies. Does it majorly improve any book’s chances? Rarely if ever…

Whether you like it or not the words contained within the book are what’s important, not the damned cover or how much money you spent on marketing! One last thing – before you see any financial profit from sales of your book, first you have to recoup your outgoings.

So if for arguments sake you spend the conservative figure of £200 on cover and marketing, and the paperback version is priced at £8.00, work out the number of copies you will need to sell, based on the bog standard royalty percentages shown below, just to break even.

Hardback edition: 10% of the retail price on the first 5,000 copies; 12.5% for the next 5,000 copies sold, then 15% for all further copies sold. Paperback: 8% of retail price on the first 150,000 copies sold, then 10% thereafter.

For god’s sake do the math!!!

At the risk of repeating myself yet again, ask yourself which is more important – the cover and the advertising, or the book’s content?

It’s a no brainer, always assuming you have a brain and know how to use it in the first place. Many independent writers never sell enough copies to recoup their outgoings. And yet they still insist on pouring good money after bad. Their completely unfathomable actions remind me of the old saying – “a fool and his money are soon parted”.

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Was it truly worth my while?

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Céleste: Love, Hate, Revenge and Danger among the Stars

It never is. But then again I suppose it entirely depends on your point of view. With just thirty-seven copies taken over the five days of the giveaway, you would be forgiven for wondering if it was worth while setting up the exercise.

However, what having a five day giveaway does do at the very least is to make one or two more individuals aware of your writing, even though they normally wouldn’t dream of looking for your work because your one of those dreadful Indie persons who publishes computer files and not real books…

If one or two of those individuals who got themselves a free copy over the past five days, actually bother to read and review it, then perhaps it did do some good after all. Despite everything, I must remain optimistic. After all, for my sins, I am a full time writer.

From my personal point of view there is one positive when it comes to low numbers. It pretty well guarantees that the usual crop of brain-dead individuals who hate any book they’ve read for nothing, will not be venting their spleens about it on Amazon or its adopted child Goodreads any time soon!

Would I ever suggest holding a five day free giveaway of your book or books to any other writer? Not really. I’m sure you will agree that the kind of individual who thinks that spending US$2.99 is too much to pay for an e-book, preferring instead to get it for nothing, is hardly the kind of individual we hardworking writers wish to encourage.

The tightwads will be out of luck when I publish my current historical fiction WIP Autumn 1066 as a paperback later this year. There will be no free copies, other than those I give to my crop of beta readers! Nor will I be spending hundreds of pounds having an eye catching cover created for it, unless it’s initially bought in its thousands, (not much chance of that happening these days for an extremely short historical fiction)! Having said that, if it does sell well as a plain covered paperback, purely because of its content, I will consider publishing it in Kindle form, and having a glossy cover especially designed for it.

Let’s face facts, if a story doesn’t sell itself, there is no point whatsoever in pouring good money after bad by trying to improve its visual packaging in an attempt to make it stand out from the crowd in an already saturated marketplace! The only publications with pretty pictures I know that sell well are called glossy magazines or Bimbo fodder to you and I. When it comes to pictorial covers, those of us who have been in this game for several decades are all guilty of changing them in the past, hoping to shift more copies. Does it majorly improve any book’s chances? Rarely if ever…

Several of my writer friends still constantly change their book covers hoping to catch the prospective reader’s eye. Obviously they have more money than sense. Certainly more than I can lay my hands on. I tried it last year and I’ve yet to get back the considerable amount of money I spent on the above cover through sales. Before you ask, no you do not earn royalties from giveaways, nor pages read of free copies as far as I’m aware!!!

Click on the above link in red to buy your copy from Amazon.com.

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