To all the whingers and whiners…

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While many authors and certainly the greater part of the 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. You get what you pay for…

The vast majority of the reading public these days are only interested in whether or not the story appeals to them. They couldn’t care less about the author overusing the comma, 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 semicolon, chances are they would think you were referring to a particular part of the author’s anatomy rather than two types of punctuation. As for whether or not they considered that the author in question used far too much passive voice or descriptive prose? Only pedants, critics and others of their ilk care about things like that!

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 it’s 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 you care to name for that matter. Even best-selling authors working through the big five publishing houses are not safe from scorn being poured on their books 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 – TO ALL LITERARY SNOBS, ARMCHAIR CRITICS AND PEDANTS – FOR GOODNESS SAKE WRITE A BOOK THAT IS GOING TO SELL, AND STOP COMPLAINING WHEN  SOMEONE ELSES’ BOOK IS BEING READ WHILE YOURS ISN’T!!

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

Not much chance of that. But I can dream…

😉

 

Is screen writing an art form?

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Without a shadow of a doubt, the answer has to be categorically no!

My fellow writer and friend here in the UK, Andrew French decided that he wanted to turn one of his books into a screen play. So, with ‘how to’ suggestions from someone involved in the scriptwriting industry here, away he went.

Andrew said to me yesterday, “I don’t want anyone else adapting my work. It wouldn’t be the same.” From that point of view I can completely understand why he did it. After all would you allow a total stranger anywhere near your baby? No neither will the author of a given work, if they’ve got any sense… Far too many good stories have been ruined in the past by total Philistines ie editors. Or in this instance scriptwriters!!!

When you read a book, through the use of your imagination you become part of it to the point where if you close your eyes, your right there with the characters. Not so with a script. With the latter what your reading is nothing more or less than simplistic writing in the form of an instruction manual for totally unimaginative ninnies, devoid of everything that you experience when reading any work of fiction.

Give me the book over the darned film any day…

😉

What it takes to write a book

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I’m taking one of my frequent breaks while writing my latest story to reveal how I go about doing it. I’ve spent the last twenty-five years honing the particular method that works for me.

First I write a paragraph. Then I take a cold hard look at the words I’ve written, in particular their order as I’m doing right now while writing this post. It is at this point that I begin to edit the words written, not only for ease of reading, but also from the point of view of spacing, capitalization when required, spelling, grammar and punctuation. While at the same time asking myself what other words can I use that mean the exact same thing, but still clearly convey my meaning to the reader, bearing in mind that there is alway more than one way to say something.

There is only one method when it comes to writing to be avoided at all costs. Sitting in front of your exercise book, typewriter or computer kidding yourself that by churning out thousands of words per day, that somehow by osmosis, doing so makes you a writer. It doesn’t! For the serious independent writer like myself, this line of thinking is a complete fallacy!

In the end all you have achieved is a big mess for someone else to fix, when you should have cleaned the manuscript up yourself before presenting it to your editor, if you use one!

All you have to do is think back to those bad marks you got in class for handing in sloppy work when you presented your essay or composition to your teacher? In this instance imagine that your editor is that teacher, wearing his or her ‘we are not amused’ expression on his or her face, at the prospect of having to make sense of your rambling manuscript…

We all see prime examples on a daily basis right here in the Blogosphere. If you can’t write an error free blog post, what makes you think you can write an error free book manuscript?

NaNoWriMo and other get it down quick notions have a lot to answer for! I’m pretty sure the concept was dreamt up by someone with an obsessive-compulsive disorder. 😉

Once you are finally happy with the paragraph, move on to the next and repeat each step I have mentioned. If your word count reaches somewhere between two hundred and fifty and five hundred words using this method, take it from me you have done a good day’s work.

Why do I limit the number of words I write each day? Simple – a little thing I call brain-fade! Ask yourself how long you can work at 100% capacity before you lose your concentration. This is precisely the reason why I constantly stop what I’m doing to take a breather. What you have to learn is to walk away from it! Go and make yourself a drink or get something to eat. In other words distract yourself. You can always return to it later. I normally work for no more than two hours at a stretch each and every day until I’ve reached the last word in the manuscript.

Each morning when I switch this laptop on, I open the saved file I’m using and once again begin the editing process by reading through what I’ve previously written. Often I see something that needs to be changed. Once I have corrected any mistakes during the daily read through, I can then begin to write the next paragraph.

See, its simple if you know how. My method of constant editing is not for everyone, but it works for me. Remember what I said earlier – a high daily word count is not a good thing unless you have no choice ie, you are a contracted writer for one of the big five publishing houses, where time is money and badly written manuscripts are the norm…

There is one last point for you to consider, turn off the in house spelling or grammar checkers within any writing software package you use. There is no substitute for having a dictionary like the Oxford English and its thesaurus close at hand. Learn to rely on the mark one eyeball like every writer worth their salt does.

PS – right that’s it, lesson over…

😉

Let’s face facts – these days many people simply can’t be bothered to read a book, especially here in the UK, particularly if its an e-book!

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There is an old saying – “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.” The same applies when it comes to asking people to read your books, especially here in the UK where e-books still take a back seat to their paperback and hard cover cousins.

The one thing you can never do is force someone to read your book. All you can hope for is to make them aware of its existence by using all of the social media sites as well as word of mouth and emails to advertise its existence. Why is that? Because the numbers currently waiting to be read is quite literally in the millions. So, don’t be too surprised if after all your hard work writing it, plus spending money having it edited and marketed, that apart from the few taken for free on promotions by the growing number of tightwads who begrudge paying money for a book, that any and all interest in it will dramatically fall, often within a single twenty-four hour day once the promotion is over.

Don’t be tempted to beg potential readers to read your book with ‘buy my book’ pleas, or for that matter to bombard every book site you can think of on a daily basis with your titles. Both practices only highlight how unprofessional you are!!! All it does is turn people off, especially on sites like Facebook and Twitter.

Unless your name is Neil Gaiman, J.K. Rowling, Dan Brown or Stephen King etc,etc, like todays painters we have to have another source of income while we’re alive. When a painter dies, normally their works increase in value. In our case, our publishers continue to make money. In both cases neither the former writer or painter benefits.

So do you still want to write? If your answer is yes, be prepared for a hell of a lot of hard work for little gain, let alone recognition.

One thing you must do is maintain a high profile on social media at all times. The other thing I would also advise you to do is to operate a blog like this one. Don’t just talk about all things writing as so many tend to do. Your potential reading public want to know about you, what makes you tick. Your likes and dislikes. But don’t bore them to death…

During your writing career you can expect a hell of a lot of criticism, not only by the reading public, but also by some of your fellow writers, who think they know far better than you how to write your story.  TAKE IT FROM ME – THEY DON’T! If you want my advice – grow a thick skin. Turn the other cheek and never stop writing.

😉

On writing

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Why do we write? Why do we feel driven to do it? Perhaps its a state of mind. Some believe it is a calling.

One thing is certain, many like myself willingly sacrifice what most would consider a normal existence for an impoverished lifestyle of self-imposed solitude in order that the story which has consumed us for months or years in many cases, finally appears in print.

Pass any of us in the street and you would be hard pressed to pick us out of the crowd. Most of my neighbours have no clue that I’m a published author. If pressed by one of them, would I tell them? Maybe, if I thought they were genuinely interested. Most are not.

Touch wood that so far no one round here has ever asked me the inane question that writers of my acquaintance in the US have been confronted with from time to time, “Would I have read anything you’ve written?”

I wonder how many of them wished they’d answered with, “How the hell would I know, I’m not a bloody mind reader you idiot?” or a series of four letter words to that effect. Perhaps the reason I haven’t been subjected to stupidity like that is because the only thing my neighbours do know for certain about me is that I don’t suffer fools.

After twenty-one years of writing, what is patently obvious to me is that we are a breed apart from the rest…

Why Do Writers Write?

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You may as well ask why do painters paint, or sculptors sculpt. Like them, we have a burning desire within us to produce something for posterity. In our case, for your reading pleasure. The serious writer isn’t in it for the money, only the story. Nor are we attempting to become famous during our lifetimes, just to be read.

Sculptors use chisels and other tools to release that statue trapped inside the block of marble. Painters use brushes, palette knives and all manner of paints and pigments to produce that painting which you admire in an art gallery. Whereas we use words to paint a picture for your imagination to feast on.

By its very nature, writing is a solitary occupation. You have to have a writer’s soul and a total commitment to the craft, not to mention a steely determination.

An editor or a teacher of English can give you an explanation for every part of speech in the English language, be it verb; adverb, noun or pronoun, etc, etc. But if you are a writer, what a particular word is formally categorized as by the academically minded is utterly irrelevant? Leave that kind of thing up to your editor. Does a sculptor need to know how to make a chisel, or a painter how to make a paint brush? No. In our case what matters is knowing how to use words to their best effect. To achieve that takes years of practice.

To aid us in writing that story for you, we employ our equivalent of brushes and chisels by spending endless hours researching and fact-finding as well as using our dictionary and thesaurus for the best choice of word, plus reading the works of others.

So, the next time you feel the need to pass judgment on a book you have just read, pause for a moment and ask yourself this simple question, “could I have written it any better?” If you are honest, chances are the answer will be no.

Further to that point, in a recent post on Facebook put out by the BBC about J.K Rowling sharing some of the rejection letters she received over the years with would-be writers, certain sarcastic armchair critics jealous of her success, immediately went on the attack by amongst other things, claiming she can’t write. Nothing surprising there. Most social networking sites and fora automatically attract highly opinionated hate filled individuals.

Not prepared to simply let them get away with it, I posted the following comment – “I see a hell of a lot of envy by people who should know better going on here.

It’s interesting that after I’d posted my comment the criticism slowed to a trickle, particularly when other people agreed with me. One of them went as far as saying to one of the critics, “tell you what, why don’t you give me the name of a book you’ve written?” Not unsurprisingly they received no reply.

While Joanne will never know how we rallied to her defense unless one of you tells her, it’s nice to be able to silence a handful of the highly vocal idiots out there from time to time, don’t you think.

Score one for all writers…

😉

I thought perhaps you might appreciate a helping hand

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In order to assist all of you in deciding whether or not you will actually want an Ebook copy of my crossover novella Céleste, pictured above, pay attention!!

To clarify, at the moment there is absolutely no point whatsoever in you trying to look for it. I thought I’d better make that point crystal clear as some people think its already available. NOT YET – BE PATIENT!

Don’t worry, I’ll let you know when it is right here on my blog, along with its Amazon.com link.

In the meantime to help you out a little more, I have the greatest of pleasure in publishing for the first time anywhere, the carefully considered impressions of three of today’s finest writers in their respective genres, in the order in which I have included them on the novella’s second page, where you will find that I have hyperlinked their respective names back to one of their own books in grateful thanks. They will also feature together with the blurb as its online description (in that instance, minus the hyperlinks of course) once I have submitted it for publication.

~~~

“Eason’s best work yet, his new book Céleste combines romance and science fiction in a story that has a twist on every page” – Nicholas Rossis

 
“Romance beyond the stars abounds in this sensuous sci-fi, entwined with mission, morals and lust. Eason takes us to a place where human desire dwells in mankind and aliens alike, no matter how many light years away” – D.G. Kaye

“Jack Eason never rests. When he is not knee deep in archaeology, or wandering around forests in elf fables, he is busy combining sci-fi with a little added romantic spice” – Derek Haines

 

~~~

One last thing, if any of you are hoping I will offer it for free at some point – sorry, but that will not be the case where this novella is concerned. I invested a lot of money in commissioning its cover, which I need to recoup. You don’t do that by giving the book away now do you?

So, there you have it. As you saw, Nicholas, Debby and Derek loved reading it, hopefully you will too…

More later,

Jack

😀

As Writers We Need An Official Voice

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Remember my post about the pitfalls of ‘free books’ the other day https://havewehadhelp.wordpress.com/2015/08/14/whats-wrong-with-getting-an-ebook-for-nothing/ not forgetting this one about reviews https://havewehadhelp.wordpress.com/2015/08/17/are-book-reviews-really-necessary/ Here is another one from Derek on the subject we all hate, but have to participate in to gain publicity for our book(s) http://www.derekhaines.ch/vandal/2014/11/the-land-of-free-shit

***

Now back to the reason for this post. As independant writers, from time to time don’t you wish we had a vociferous champion to protect us from the machinations of publishers. Yesterday I chanced upon a possibility in the form of a guild.

Guilds for professional writers are spread throughout the world. In effect they are the literary equivalent of a union. While we Indies are not salaried, (paid a wage for what we do) there’s no getting away from the fact that many of us write full time. In my book that makes us professional writers as well.

So long as we continue being individuals, we have no teeth! But if our publishers knew that we were members of a powerful writing guild, maybe, just maybe, they would think twice before treating us with disdain. Either we amalgamate into an organisation like a guild or we continue on in the same old way as a bunch of individuals tilting at windmills.

Well, what do you think? I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m heartily sick of being treated like a second rate citizen and cash cow by my publisher. Here is the link to the guild in question:

http://www.independentauthorsguild.com/

If any of you are already members, perhaps you can enlighten the rest of us about it. How much clout does it have? In other words, does it stick up for its members interests? I’ve read its mission statement. Like all mission statements it says a lot but promises damn all. Therefore I have my doubts as to whether or not it is a true guild and as such is a force to be reckoned with. Judging by what they don’t say, it looks as if they are merely a collection of self-important individuals. In which case calling themselves a guild is a complete misnomer. If I’m proved correct, then its back to searching for the real McCoy. In the meantime, make your own minds up about it by clicking on the link above to examine it. Then leave your thoughts here.

😉

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.

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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…

😉

Indie Or Traditional, That Is The Question

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Ok so you’ve finally decided to pluck up the courage of your convictions to make your passion for writing a fulltime career. Before you even begin, the one question you have to seriously take into consideration is this. Do you become an independent author, or do you try to break into the world of traditional publishing?

If you decide on chancing your arm with the latter, after first avoiding the tempting adverts from vanity press and some of the other fly by night options out there, like the plague, bearing in mind that every one of them is waiting to fleece you while masquerading as legitimate traditional publishers, you will immediately be confronted by what the industry commonly refers to as gate-keepers. What are they? Simply put, they are the publishing houses’ often seemingly impenetrable lines of defence, designed to extract the occasional gem for serious consideration from among the monumental piles of utter rubbish that cross their desks on a daily basis. If by sheer good fortune they want to publish your work, depending on how it sells, either they will offer you a contract or end the partnership.

To begin with your manuscript will have to appeal to the first of the gate-keepers, otherwise known as a literary agent. Always providing of course that you find one prepared to take a chance on you in the first place, based on the fact that they like what you’ve written. Even so there is still no guarantee that they will be able to sell your story to any of the top publishing houses. When it comes to it, like any other business, traditional publishing’s raison d’être is to make money. To that end they are extremely picky when it comes to choosing from the thousands of new manuscripts on offer. Cold hearted reality dictates that unless you have written an absolute blinder of a potential best seller, the product of all your hard work will wind up in the garbage bin along with all the others from hopefuls like you and me.

Then there is the question of the contract they will offer you if they decide they want to employ you. Are you up to the pressure that will be placed on your shoulders by signing a two, three of four book deal for the promise of a monetary advance? Many aren’t up to working within the confines of an often highly restrictive contract. I know I wasn’t. I was far too bloody minded for the traditional publisher I was contracted to.

Does all of this sound extremely tough and one sided to you? It should. By its very nature our business is a merciless one. There is no room for the starry-eyed day dreamer, or for that matter anyone foolishly labouring under the false assumption that having a book published, guarantees them instant fame and fortune. It rarely if ever does. Even choosing to follow the independent route is still no guarantee for success. In either case it always involves a lot of hard work on your part.

Out of the nine titles written by me so far since nineteen ninety-five, only one came close by Indie mid list standards to being considered a best seller at 100,000+ copies. I live in the vain hope that my latest offering might at the very least equal it. But only time and the vagaries of this business will ultimately determine its fate.

Being a true Indie requires a much higher degree of self discipline and bloody-mindedness on your part, more so than for an author in any traditional writing stable. Anyone who thinks it is the easier of the two publishing options, seriously needs to think again. Mind you there are no easy options…

While its true that any Tom, Dick or Harriette can come up with a story, that is only the first step in a long and often tortuous road to get it noticed in the first place.

If you are a true Indie, by the very definition of the word it means that you must go it alone, literally doing everything for yourself. Even the traditional publishing houses these days require their contracted writers to do far more than merely write a novel to justify their advance.

If you feel you are incapable, you can always take the easy way out, paying lip service to the notion of independance by opting instead to spend a lot of money to employ others to edit, format and market your book for you. Always bearing in mind of course that before you even begin to earn royalties, you first have to recoup your often expensive initial monetary outlay, a factor than many of today’s indie’s simply choose to ignore, let alone fail to grasp.

Like all true independents I choose to rely on no one other than myself, and a handful of individuals I consider to be competant beta readers of anything I write. To follow in my independent footsteps, you must become accomplished in a number of disciplines. The first of these involves every writer’s nighmare – editing. To make your story stand out among the millions already published, it has to appeal from the very first sentence. While there are a lot of competant people out there prepared to assist you at a price, there are also many charlatans. Like all things we encounter in our daily lives, shopping for an editor or publicist is always a case of buyer beware. Ask them for samples of their work along with the names and email addresses of those they profess to have helped before employing them.

I’m still amazed by the number of Indies out there who have convinced themselves that an eye-catching cover is guaranteed to sell their book. It doesn’t! Yes it’s true it will help. But on its own its nothing more than the literary equivalent of eye candy. Ever since the first printed book rolled off a hand operated press hundreds of years ago, what has always sold the book to the reader is its content, never its cover!

Still want to become a published author? If the answer is still yes, good luck. Just remember that you must be prepared for a hell of a lot of hard work, harsh criticism from your fellows, competition, jealousy, envy and heartache.

Do I regret becoming an Indie? Not for one moment. Remember this, if something is worth doing, it’s worth doing well…

😉