My message may be unpalatable to some…

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…certain individuals don’t like plain speaking, preferring to bury their heads in the sand.

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One current ugly stumbling block for all writers these days to be ignored at all costs is the average inbred moron seated at his/her computer who deludes him/herself into believing that what he/she says on a public book based forum, actually matters. His/her kind set themselves up as self-styled critics, typically wittering on endlessly about subjects such as non-American spelling and grammar in books written by anyone living beyond the borders of the US for instance. Thereby clearly demonstrating their ignorance of the English language to the world at large. The aforementioned description while general, nevertheless fits the individuals currently responsible for the majority of one, two and three star reviews for any book you care to name on Amazon, to the detriment of the genuine reviewer.

Not one of them has ever written a book in their entire lives, let alone had one published, and yet they feel it is their bounden duty to harshly criticise, especially when it comes to newbies, no matter whether or not they are self-publishers or mainstream. There are also a few unscrupulous individuals who see absolutely nothing wrong in adding a link to their review of your book, to advertise their own efforts – extremely bad form!

Like most writers these days, I simply fail to understand why Amazon seemingly encourages and condones what amounts to nothing more than often vicious attacks. As a writer, for the sake of your sanity take my advice and never read the reviews. Above all refrain from entering the forums, no matter how indignant you may feel.

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As a successful writer I see far more pressing issues in a lot of what today’s eBooks have to offer. The main one often being the new writer’s poor choice of genre. A lot simply jump on the bandwagon hoping to cash in on what is portrayed as popular by various advertising campaigns by publishers and so-called professional editors and book touts, such as the current trend in nauseating vampire and zombie based stories and what can only be described as badly written pornography (think Fifty Shades of Grey). While it is true to say that largely these genres appeal to the uneducated, those who write more thought provoking novels are left by the wayside, struggling to survive.

Some writers become convinced that niche markets is the way to go, which in reality means the product of their efforts will barely sell in the dozens rather than the thousands.

Face it people, the only book that will sell in its thousands is the one whose subject matter initially provokes curiosity in the mind of the often fickle reader. A growing number of writers cling desperately to the belief that by writing in a largely unpopular genre, the product of their toil will be noticed. How many times recently have I seen writers desperate to sell their wares, spend money time and effort to change a cover for instance and to produce actual paperback copies, which they then hawk around the many small time book fairs, largely at their own expense? In the end none of the aforesaid will make a damned bit of difference if your favourite genre is currently out of fashion. To my mind this kind of thinking is nothing more than an example of self induced vanity press. In other words spending money you can ill afford.

Just remember this – if you have to shell out good money after bad to get your manuscript edited by a so-called professional, you have to recover that cost as well as the cost of the cover and printing before you are in profit – something which a lot of modern day writers ignore at their peril… Remember this too – if a book fails to sell in the traditional publishing world it is remaindered (pulped) and a line is drawn under your name with the words DO NOT ACCEPT ANYTHING FURTHER FROM THIS AUTHOR! Traditional publishing’s business model is to make money not lose it. It should be yours too!!!

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Next comes the biggest stumbling block for a lot of writers – editing and proof reading. Many Indies pay someone to edit for them (another cost to be taken into account). However, using the ‘look inside’ feature available on Amazon, it would appear that many mainstream editors let alone self-published writers simply fail to use a Spell checker, common to all writing software packages. The same goes for the humble Grammar checker – patently ignored by the majority. How many even use the Look up or Synonym features, accessed simply by right clicking over a word? Not many it would appear…

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We now arrive at colloquial language and writing in the first person. Many fall into the trap of using colloquial language when two characters are conversing within the context of a story – bad idea! The other big no-no is to write in the first person. It is not easy to do. The use of first person is chock full of pitfalls for the unsuspecting. Avoid using it if you can. Loathsome as it may be, even third person is preferable.

~~~

Finally remember this simple fact – the product of all your hard work is just one among millions currently available for sale. If its content doesn’t stand out, especially these days where people prefer to wait until in sheer desparation you buckle under and offer it for free! Even then there is no guarantee it will be read. Inevitably after three or four weeks it is consigned to the literary equivalent of the Bermuda Triangle for ever more by the publisher; the way books disappear from the top 100 on Amazon is a prime example! No amount of cover changes, giveaways and signed copies in an internet contest will increase its chances of becoming a best seller one iota…

Just imagine, you have all of the above to look forward to. Do you still want to publish that book?

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Pseudo-experts and other lunatics

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As a published writer, sooner or later you will encounter one or more of the following!

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Once you have published a book or books, it is inevitable that you will attract the attention of individuals with a doctorate in incomprehensibly stupid! When Amazon opened the can of worms by giving everyone and their dog the privilege of being able to offer their opinion on your work on their sites worldwide, was the day the age of the internet troll and other non-entities was born.

Today, not only Indie writers, but also traditionally published ones find themselves on the receiving end of what can only be described as pseudo-expertise. For the latter its bad enough that their editors are imposing their often misguided personal opinions on how a book should be written, often to the detriment of the story, instead of sticking to correcting grammar and punctuation. But now all writers are endlessly being bombarded by totally baffling comments by some other published writers, who quite frankly should know better than to openly criticise someone elses work in public. What you and they have to realise is that they are expert in only one thing – destroying their own reputation just for the sake of pouring scorn on a colleagues work. Not everyone can write a story worthy of being read, let alone be published. Which is why so many who entertained the idea of fame and fortune by writing the definitive novel of the age fail and soon resurface as literary experts and critics. Or worse, offer their services as editors, always for a fee of course!!!

What none are willing to accept is that first of all your story is yours not theirs. Secondly, who better than you knows its ins and outs, plot and counter plot?

If you are lucky, people find it among the millions of books on offer and read it. Some will like it. Others not, so they do their damnedest to convince the public to stay away, which begs the question why? In the case of failed writers, it has to be that they’re green with envy. Or more than likely, they’re angry that they didn’t come up with it first. What other reason(s) could there possibly be?

What about the literary snobs, pedants, anal retentives, pretentious poseurs, grammar nazis and other self-important armchair critics who inhabit the internet these days? If you will take some advice from an old campaigner – LIKE THE TROLLS, IGNORE THEM ALL LIKE THE PLAGUE!!!

Having read this, you will now know that I have zero tolerance for any of the above. Guess what, neither have any of my published writing colleagues either…

Happy New Year.

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A rewrite is underway

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When I wrote and published The Seventh Age back in 2012, my thinking at the time was to get it out as quickly as possible before the winter solstice in that year, mistakes and all. Why? To appeal to those who firmly believed the Mayan calendar predictions that the world would end on December 21st of that year. Obviously it didn’t happen, but the book enjoyed a lot of success, selling in excess of a quarter of a million copies.

Now, having finally got round to re-reading it four years on, its time to produce a second edition, correcting the spelling errors as well as adding the few words missing throughout the story, principally to get the damned grammar nazis and assorted idiots of my back! Let’s face it, by not editing I gave them what they wanted. Unless they can tear a book apart, they’re not happy. And yet what really galls them to this day is that a book written by an Indie author became an overnight best seller despite the editing errors and their worst efforts.

So, this morning I’ve already begun while the rest of the world was still asleep. I’ll keep you updated with its progress. Meantime here is a direct quote from the original regarding the love affair between the two main characters Ithis, a crypto terrestrial and the archaeologist, Dr Nick Palmer at a critical juncture in the story:

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My heroine Ithis

From now on at night while he slept, Ithis entered his mind tenderly making gentle love to his soul, taking him beyond the normal wonderful sensations of lovemaking, ever mindful that she must not make actual physical contact – at least not just yet…’

PS – will it have a new cover? I have no plans to replace the original as it shows what the book is all about – time.

More later

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The Modern Day Penny Dreadful

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While many authors and certainly the entire literary world turn up their noses at the phenomena of the eBook, there is no getting away from the fact that being able to buy a book cheaply, or more often than not these days, getting it for free to download to the ereader of your choice, resonates with the public at large, particularly in the United States. But if you expect to get your next read for $0.99 or less, don’t complain when the book that has taken your fancy is not a literary masterpiece.

Time and time again some authors together with assorted literary snobs, armchair critics and pedants, endlessly decry an eBook for its lack of literary quality. All too often they take great delight in pointing up any given eBook’s faults.

But does it really matter when it is free or priced so cheaply? The short answer is no. The vast majority of the reading public these days only care about whether or not the story appeals to them. They couldn’t care less about whether or not the author over uses the comma, or for that matter the colon or semi-colon, or which form of a particular word is used in any given circumstance. If asked about their views on the particular author’s use of the colon or sem-icolon, chances are they would think you were referring to a particular part of the anatomy rather than two types of punctuation mark. As for whether or not they considered that the author in question used far too much passive voice or descriptive prose…

Today’s eBook is the modern day equivalent of the Victorian Penny Dreadful. Rather than throwing any book written by myself which I consider to be sub-standard, into the corner, If its still a good story it ends up in the eBook market. Judging by the hundreds of thousands of copies of my eBooks out there, my storytelling appeals. In the end that is all that matters.

Yes, each and every eBook penned by myself automatically attracts the attention of the trolls. But so do eBooks by any author for that matter, Even best selling authors working through the big five publishing houses are not safe from scorn being poured on their eBooks by trolls. In that regard the literary world is a natural habitat for bitchy individuals jealous of the fact that our cheap books, yours and mine, are being read. To them I would only say this – FOR GOODNESS SAKE GET OVER YOURSELVES!!!

Meanwhile I’ll keep writing until I’m happy that the book I’m working on fulfills all the requirements necessary to make it worthy of the appelation ‘Literary Masterpiece’.

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Calling all the so-called literary experts in the blogosphere

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Think you are experiencing de ja vu? Bear with me.

While we all know there are many individuals who profess to be experts on certain subjects, especially here in the blogosphere, the day before yesterday I decided to set a challenge for the so-called literary experts who still pounce from time to time from among my many blog followers. These particular individuals always insist that as they know everything when it comes to literature, at least according to them, that it follows they are always right. Needless to say it came as no surprise whatsoever when they failed to participate. Only one person had the decency to comment by stating that they didn’t know any of the authors listed, which was fair enough.

So ‘experts’ now its time for you all to either put up or shut up, once and for all. If none of the self styled editors, armchair critics, pedants and literary snobs who follow my blog fail to take up my challenge, you will have proven my point yet again that each and every one of you are nothing more than nonentities with highly inflated opinions of yourselves! You know who you are, so here’s your chance to prove me wrong. I offer all of you the same challenge once again.

***

What is the difference between writers and readers? Writers read in order to write while readers simply do it for pleasure. When it comes to the writer, our personal libraries differ markedly from yours, being largely filled with books we use for research. Now, stand by for a test of your knowledge of some well known leading authors. The twenty-five names I have listed below are responsible for ninety-nine percent of my reference library, each one of them is a recognised expert in their particular subject.

Robert Bauval

Graham Hancock

Michael Wood

Arthur C. Clark

Isaac Asimov

Steven O’Shea

Christopher Knight

Robert Lomas

John Man

Brian Bates

Nikolai Tolstoy

Joyce Tyldesley

Peter Unwin

Gwyn Jones

Professor Francis Pryor

Simon Young

Peter Berresford Ellis

Bernard Vassallo

Bernard Cornwell

John Lee Anderson

Immanuel Velikovsky

J.F.C. Fuller

Sarah Bartlett

Colin Wilson

Ian Shaw

~~~

You’ve seen the list, so now is the time to put your knowledge to the test. How many of you can name one non-fiction book by each of the authors listed, bearing in mind that some in the list have also produced collaborative non-fiction works. While you are thinking about your answers, and just to confuse matters, a few of them like Arthur C. Clark, Bernard Cornwell and Isaac Asimov are also known for fictional titles.

For the purposes of the exercise, search engines are out of bounds!!!

Honesty is the key. Just leave your answers as a comment below the post – author first, then title.

 The challenge has been thrown down. Will you take it up, or will you shut up?

PS – I might add that two of the prominent authors in the above list who I count among my personal friends, were not surprised in the least by the total lack of response the other day, when they read the post. All three of us await your participation, or lack of it, with interest…

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All Writers Crave Feedback

Feedback

When it comes to meaningful dialogue with our readers it rarely if ever happens, more’s the pity. We writers need the connection. All a review ever tells us is that the individual responsible for it either loved or hated the book in question.

Most writers like myself have a blog like this one where you can leave comments below a post, and a Facebook page where you can voice your thoughts in person on any book written by us, should you choose to do so. Or if you want, we can just chat about something else entirely. The point is that by chatting, we get to know each other, hopefully forging a lasting friendship.

Like you, every writer is plagued with the typical faults, passions and emotions that all human beings share. Some are known to hold strong views on varying subjects. Don’t let that necessarily put you off talking to any of us. We’re not ogres.

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Now a word to the wise, so please pay attention!

With book sites like Amazon, we are well aware of the inevitable one star reviews, often written by other writers hiding behind pseudonyms. And so, unless you have just landed on planet Earth within the last half hour, by now you will have noticed that my latest offering is now in its second free Kindle download giveaway day.

Here’s the rub. I fully expect it to gain endless one star reviews as a consequence. That always happens when a book is given away in any promotion. To that end I would remind anyone who has taken advantage of the offer, that you did get it for nothing. Therefore if you feel the uncontrollable urge to write a cutting review of your free copy, don’t! No one likes an ungratful smart-arse. Peversity on your part will hardly endear you to others, now will it. For the majority, please feel free to write your reviews and post them on whichever Amazon site you downloaded it from.

Lastly, I’m well aware that there will be errors. All books have them. Once the promotional period is over I will take it down temporarily to search them out before uploading the corrected version.

As they say in America – have a nice day.

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As a writer, sooner or later your editor will let you down!

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They’re not pefect despite what they may say…

Face it, some editors only really care about how much money you are paying them. It is not until you become a writer yourself that you not only notice the errors that editors miss in any given book, but also how many there are. I’m not just talking about incorrect spelling, but the use of totally wrong words; things like missed spaces between a fullstop (period) and the capital letter of the next sentence, as well as either a lack of punctuation or far too much of it.

Let us also remember that some editors see nothing wrong with a book’s pages becoming nothing more than solid blocks of text with no break to make it easier to read. To give you another example, some editors in cahoots with certain publishers plead the old chestnut ‘house style’ as their excuse to cover a multitude of sins, like which type of quotation marks they prefer – single, or double.

It matters little that the book you are reading was self-published, or produced by a small press or one of the traditional big five publishers. More and more these days, with each book I pick up, I’m finding errors, which any editor worth their salt should have picked up on long before it went to print. If they were threatened with the sack, or were told they would not be paid for allowing those annoying mistakes to slip by, maybe all editors would be more vigilant! Heh, a chance would be a fine thing. Or in other words, don’t hold your breath…

Before any of you reading this while professing to be an editor has an attack of apoplectic rage brought on by what I’ve just said, if you are truthful, you know deep down that in all likelihood you have never ever turned in a totally error free manuscript for publication in your entire working life, due to time and business constraints. That being the case, the editor’s credo should be more haste, less speed. Maybe you need to stop thinking about how many other writers are waiting for your services, along with how much money you charge and concentrate on presenting a quality product for publication instead. Just a thought…

Why am I bringing this to your attention as editors and writers? Simple. When a member of the general public reads and reviews a book, their opinion (which is all any review is when you think about it) won’t necessarily be about its content or subject matter. More than likely these days what it will be about are the mistakes the reader found, or thought they had.

For instance – quite often anyone who is not an American writer will be taken to task for what some Americans see as misspelt words. To them I will only say this – apart from American English (which bares little or no resemblance to the original – English English), there is also Canadian, South African, New Zealand, Australian and Indian English. To my knowledge they are the main branches of the language. Each form of the language tends to spell some words differently.

Getting back to the general public – will they blame the publisher for any mistakes found in any given book? No. To the average reader, publishers and their editors don’t make mistakes, which of course is total baloney! They’re human just like the rest of us, despite believing they are a cut above humanity in general!!!

Instead you will find that to the reader’s way of thinking, the fault lies wholly with the writer. Once again many readers cannot seem to appreciate that all you did was write the story, employing someone to edit it for you. If you as the writer are to be blamed for anything, it’s thinking that once you have written the manuscript – that’s it, job done. Wrong! Never let your editor get away with too much by not picking them up on those inevitable mistakes. Like you they’re not infallible. Between the two of you, errors should be eliminated.

Here’s a thought – if you want to improve your image as a writer, learn to edit. While your at it, employ beta or copy readers. Personally I do both. With each book I write, the number of errors has dramatically reduced. For instance, my novella Cataclysm, written last year, literally only has one very minor error – a space between quotation marks and the first letter of the first word in a sentence. If I can do my level best to eliminate all errors as a self-published writer, so can the editor you are employing.

Am I going to fix it? No. That way the author hating internet trolls, grammar nazis, literary snobs, and other assorted self proclaimed experts such as pedants and armchair critics will still be able to appear smug when writing their inevitable caustic reviews of it. You just can’t please people like that. So don’t even try. Don’t be put off over attempting to edit. It’s not that difficult. Like anything else, all it takes is time, patience and application, as well as a damned good command of the English language.

Remember this – It doesn’t matter what we do as writers, if we make use of professional support and it is less than satisfactory, we’re sunk!

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