Sunday, 11 July 2021

More Books I've Enjoyed This Year

I've decided to read and review books by independently published authors to find the gems that have been overlooked by big publishing houses and support fellow authors. These are a few more of my favourite reads this year...

Hungry for Life by Rachel Richards

Review: Brilliantly written, totally insightful

This is the best book exploring the mind of an eating disordered person that I've ever read, and I've read a few. A compelling story that takes you through the life of Rachel and her inner demons as she descends into Anorexia and comes out the other side through eventual recovery. The only thing that strikes me as unexpected, is that she had quite a privileged life, and abundant opportunities which she embraced. I've tended to think that eating disorders are more likely to affect people who lack privilege and opportunity, but it just goes to show how it can affect people from all walks of life. Buy it here

Tipping Point by Terry Tyler

Review: Enjoyable story about survivors in a post-apocalyptic world
This book, set in the UK, explores how civilian life has changed after the 'bat virus' kills most of the population. It is well written and raises interesting ethical questions. It has a few too many characters for my tastes (am easily confused) but there are also some strong characters. I liked Ozzy!

It has some interesting twists, but a disappointing ending - it just stops mid story 'to be continued'. I like stories to have some sort of conclusion, even when there is a sequel. There are four books in this series. Overall, an enjoyable read.
Buy it here

The Virus by C G Barrie

Review: A Short Story with a Twist

The story seems very familiar to start with, as a virus spreads around the globe. It's easy to read because the scenario is so topical. As this work of fiction starts to unfold, we see a 98% death rate among anyone who's infected. Then an unexpected turn of events that takes it in a different direction. I did feel that the end came rather suddenly and more could be made of the scenes towards the end.

At 15 pages, it's certainly a short story and not a novel. It took under an hour to read, and while it satisfied my curiosity, I was left with a bit of a sense of "Is that it?" I guess I'm more used to reading longer pieces of work. I think as long as you remember this is what it is - a short story - you'll enjoy it. It's no work of literary genius, but it provides an hour's entertainment on a very relevant topic. Buy it here

How to Market a Book by Richard Fayet

Review: Very comprehensive!

I don't think this one's independently published, but I thought it would interest many of my followers and it's perma free. This book is very comprehensive, and I think I learnt a lot by the time I got to the end - although I think I'd also forgotten a lot by the time I got to the end! 

It's definitely one to come back to when you're embarking on a new marketing campaign or trying something different. Good for dipping in and out of different topics and refreshing your knowledge. It busted a few myths, explained how Amazon's algorithm works, and made me wonder whether I should be an affiliate. For free, it's a no-brainer. Get it here

Friday, 11 June 2021

Top reads for 2021

I've decided to read and review books by independently published authors to find the gems that have been overlooked by big publishing houses and support fellow authors. These are my favourite reads this year...

Drowning: A Memoir
By Andy Palmer

Review: Insightful memoir - revealing perpective into the life of an addict

Brilliantly written, this insightful memoir offers a revealing perpective into the life of an addict. It takes you on a journey, from Andy's childhood relationships and misdemeanours, through to his struggles with addiction as a young adult. The description really brings the story to life, but there's not so much detail that it becomes cumbersome or boring. I loved the description of Andy's grandfather's house - a real reminder of the 1970s, and I'd urge people considering reading this book to download the free sample, because the first chapter kicks off very well.

Saturday, 29 May 2021

Medium - how does it work? Is it worthwhile?

Medium is a website where you can write whatever you want and publish it like a blog, or submit it to a 'Medium Publication'. If it's accepted, the publication will publish it on their platform for better visibility. You then get paid for reads and claps by paying subscribers. The rates are low, but if you get a lot of reads and engagement, then it can pay well, so I hear anyway. I have yet to experience this delight.

Sunday, 25 April 2021

Amazon Advertising - does it deliver?

That's the question everyone's been asking in recent months, since I started advertising on Amazon. The early answer was 'no', but then I got Kindle Unlimited reads, followed by a sale - both as a direct result of the adverts - and suddenly found myself in profit.

Tuesday, 6 April 2021

Dealing with Amazon Haters

As a KDP author, what do you say when Amazon haters challenge your decision to sell books through Amazon?

A member of a local environmental group recently told me that Amazon is monopolistic, destructive to the high street, and unethical. Then he gave me a website linking readers to local bookstores. 

The trouble is, local bookstores usually only stock books from big publishers. There's not much interest in independently published works.

Friday, 19 March 2021

Working with Small Publishers

If you're losing the will to live after trying every literary agent in the world, you might now be considering whether it's better to self-publish or approach small publishers. 

I've done both.

Wednesday, 10 March 2021

Marketing Your Book: 3 months after launch

When I published my debut novel, Pestilence on 6 January 2021, I wrote a marketing plan to help raise awareness and generate sales. It was obviously limited by lockdown, but there was plenty I could do online. So nearly three months on, how's it gone? Well it wasn't a complete disaster...

Tell Everyone

The single most successful approach to marketing, which I cannot recommend highly enough, is to simply tell everyone. I told everyone I could think of.

Saturday, 9 January 2021

30 years to publication

My debut novel, Pestilence, has just been pu
blished, and if you enjoy 'end of the world' thrillers, it might be just up your street!

The story behind this book is a long one, but I'll give you the short version. When I was about 15, I discovered James Herbert, and was smitten by his books and inspired to emulate him. So at the age of 16, I started writing the first draft of a story about a deadly fungus, which would bring about the end of the world. James Herbert's Rats had made him famous, and Shaun Hutson's Slugs did pretty well too. This was my attempt at a similar idea.

Saturday, 29 September 2018

Writing for foreign markets

I make a living writing for magazines and I do a lot of work for overseas publications, especially in America. I was once quizzed on how I found work in foreign markets, so I thought I'd share some of the answers here...

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Turning rejection into acceptance

I had a couple of articles rejected recently. That hasn't happened in a long while, and frankly, I wasn't very impressed because it took the editor 7 months to let me know, and the reason for one of them, was simply that he'd totally changed his mind about the brief. He wanted something completely different. Was a kill fee available? No. But if I wanted rewrite them both, taking into account his extensive criticisms, then he'd reconsider his position.

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Inner Ear Damage, Glue Ear, and Crap Foam Earplugs

In 2014, I was covering a music weekend for a magazine article. The editor said I should get great photos - the whole commission depended on that. I thought foam ear plugs would be sufficient to protect my ears and I went down the front to get the best shots. The event was an absolute blast. I loved it. But half way through, I became aware of a horrible pressure building up behind my ear drums. I went to buy new ear plugs, but they were worse than the ones I'd bought with me, so I fitted them as tightly as I could and carried on.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

How to sell your feature ideas to a magazine

I recently received an email from a lady who'd read my book, "Freelance Writing: Aim Higher Earn More". She asked, "My question is, how do I pitch? Do I write a story then think what magazine to send it to, or do I write to the magazine asking for a page for a story?"

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Writing for children: point of view

I went on a FutureLearn story telling course, where in week 3, Al MacCuish explained how he overcame his struggles to write a successful children's book. This is a bit of the transcript from the interview. It's a great reminder to get into the head of the child and see the world from their point of view!
"I suddenly understood why I was struggling. I had never once tried to look at the world from a child's point of view. I didn't know, understand, or empathise with my audience. So I went back the one of the very first children's stories ideas that I'd had, and I started again.

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Books for writers

Ever feel like reading an inspirational book to kick start your writing? But you're unsure where to start? 
Here are some writing books I've read (and some I've written) to offer some ideas for your next writing-related read...

Saturday, 26 March 2016

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Charles Naton: "Being fashionably obscure can actually be an advantage"

Getting a book deal is every new author's dream, right? Why then, are so many traditionally published authors now choosing the independent route? Charles Naton shares his experiences.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Cloud computing sounds risky to me. Am I stuck in the 20th century?

19 January 2016: Twitter went down this morning. Remarkable for such a widely used site. It made me think about cloud computing, and why, despite being on Windows 10, I'm reluctant to store my files in 'the cloud'.

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Why didn't I think of that? Oh. I did.

I saw an article in Writer's Forum recently - an interview with a fantastically successful self-published gentleman from my writing group. I thought, "Talk about missing an opportunity. Why didn't I think to pitch that interview idea?!"

Then I realised that I had thought about it. Once in 2013 and once in 2014, when I pitched similar ideas to interview the same author, to the editor of the same magazine. At the time, both suggestions were met with rejection, and I hadn't given it any further thought since.

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Can I earn a decent wage freelancing, compared to a full time job?

"Can I earn a decent wage freelancing, compared to a full time job?" someone asked me recently.

Well, it depends! The Author's Licensing and Collecting Society did a survey in 2013, and the results, made available in 2014, said that professional writers only earned an average of £11,000 per annum. However, I think many of those were part time, and many were authors.

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Don't be a publisher's nightmare. One space at the end of a sentence is plenty!

My mum always taught me to put two spaces after a full-stop, just as she was taught to do in typing school in the 1960s. But when I started working in marketing and brochure production in the late 1990s, I quickly learnt to stop this bad habit.

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Meet prolific book reviewer, Tracy Shephard

My latest guest blogger, Tracy Shephard, is a prolific book reviewer, with ambitions to have a novel of her own published. She has a decent following on her blog, which has surprised her with its success. I asked Tracy about her book reviews, her writing, her favourite books and her life as a book reviewer. This is what she said...

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Insider Secrets For Successful Freelance Writing

I was interviewed recently by fellow writer, Tony Riches, for his blog. I thought I'd post a copy on here. You might enjoy it. :-)

Sunday, 8 March 2015

You know you're a writer when...

Having read a great blog called, "You know you're a writer when..." by Dylan Hearn, I thought I'd create my own!

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Interview: How I succeeded as a freelance writer

I was interviewed by a book reviewer recently who'd been reading my book, Freelance Writing on Health, Food and Gardens. Here's part of the interview.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

My writing group - cliques and committees

When I started writing for a living in 2011, I loved the work but felt I needed to improve my social life to make up for being on my own all day. So the following January I joined my local writers group to meet new people and to further my writing career. The website assured me of a friendly welcome and the first meeting lived up to this claim with polite smiles and introductions. But within a few months I was having trouble getting beyond that polite 'hello'. They'd usually rush off to speak to someone else.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Lessons Learned from National Novel Writing Month

Well I did it! 

It was my first time participating in National Novel Writing Month this year and I reached 38k. Now some might consider that a failure, since the aim is to reach 50k, but I remain pleased with myself. By the end of November, I was 38,000 words further ahead than I was at the start of the month, and I'm well on the way to reaching the end of the first draft now. It will grow bigger too, as I carefully edit it.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Meet prize-winning crime writer, Dave Sivers

When I first joined my local writers' group, among the first people I met was crime author, Dave Sivers, who has self-published a range of ebooks for Kindle and recently found his work among the top selling books in his genre.

His latest book is Scars Beneath the Soul, a detective story of murder and mayhem in the Chiltern Hills, Buckinghamshire. I asked Dave to tell me about his writing journey. This is what he said...

Thursday, 29 August 2013

The highs and lows of a writer's life

Being a freelance writer is a wonderful life - you are constantly learning new things, the variety of work is immense, the creative buzz is exhilarating, and submitting your work for publication provides a feel good factor all of its own. Then finally seeing your work in print.... it's all good.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Literary masters and quack doctors

I never gave much thought to my ancestry until recently when I dedicated time to it for an article I was working on. I delved into the past, engaging with my dad over the work he's done on our family tree. Now I knew we had some distant relationship to Lord Byron, but I didn't know the details. Finding out about it was an interesting process, if a little long-winded!