‘It does no harm to repeat as often as you can “Without me the literary industry would not exist: the publishers, the agents, the sub-agents, the sub-sub agents, the accountants, the libel lawyers, the departments of literature, the professors, the theses, the books of criticism, the reviewers, the book pages – all this vast and proliferating edifice is because of this small, patronised, put-down and underpaid person.”‘
So, don’t undervalue yourself. Doubt should not make an end of you. It’s only proof that you want to write the best story possible.
Writers are often quiet and self-effacing people, but to succeed these days we have to sell ourselves. There’s no escaping that.It takes effort and self-belief (and probably awebsite, a blog and social media ‘friends’ and followers).
At the core of it all is the writing. If you believe in that, then maybe people of influence will too, those who feed off your talent to keep publishing running.
As writers, we spend a lot of time looking for information, so a responsive and accurate search engine is essential.
So far, only one search engine has entered the language as a transitive verb….Google. It proves its dominance, in the same way as hoover is the common term for using a vacuum cleaner.
I’ve become increasingly dissatisfied with Google, mainly for its inaccuracy. Asking a question of Google reminds me of the way that politicians never answer the question posed by the interviewer—they always answer a different question. Google is annoying too, for the way it prioritises stuff for sale. Its personalised search function is more of a hindrance than a help.
Several concerns have been brought up regarding the feature. It decreases the likelihood of finding new information, since it biases search results towards what the user has already found. It also introduces some privacy problems, since a user may not be aware that their search results are personalized for them, and it affects the search results of other people who use the same computer (unless they are logged in as a different user)
I don’t want to see the same results regurgitated from a month ago.
I usually forget to use Bing, but sometimes turn to DuckDuckGo:
I used to regularly sleep for eight hours a night. If I managed an extra hour, I felt fantastic and achieving ten hours turbocharged me! These days, at the age of 65, it’s more like six to seven hours of good quality sleep. I don’t feel deprived, but if I do feel drowsy during the day I’ll nap for an hour, sitting up in my chair, which invigorates me. It doesn’t often happen, perhaps four times a year.
Drowsiness can be a clue to health problems and disrupted nocturnal rest. My long-term partner suffered from sleep apnoea, which she was wholly unaware of, but when she stopped breathing, I woke instantly. She lacked energy during the day, frequently dropping off to sleep in the evening while watching television.
I think that because I’m so regular in my habits, it helps me to sleep. I’ve done jobs that were the enemy of sleep, such as getting up at 4.00 a.m. to be at the milk depot an hour later, to load an electric milk float and deliver 450 pints. Finishing work by 10.00 a.m., I needed to find ways to wind down before going home to sleep a few hours, waking to greet my partner at six o’clock. I was always in bed by 10.00 p.m. Milkmen soon start to look like the Walking Dead!
This job mimicked the old way of sleeping in two sessions:
Nowadays, I work from eight o’clock to 1.00 a.m., retiring to bed to read for an hour, before turning the lights out. Fortunately, I’ve never been bothered by sleeplessness—proof of having a clear conscience?—or, no conscience at all!
Those plagued with insomnia become obsessed with sleep, which probably worsens their plight. A new device tracks a person’s sleep, which an insomniac might view as helpful. To me, it’s proof of how obsessed some people are with measuring everything in the 21st-century:
But, a femme fatale isn’t necessarily bitchy, she’s more of a predatory vamp who prowls through the lives of those she captivates, getting what she wants from them and leaving them wrecked. She’s a fatal woman to know.
A contemporary example of a femme fatale is Amy Dunne, from Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl.
I’m about to start writing Kissing & Killing, my sixth Cornish Detective novel. The protagonist was grieving for his dead wife in the first four stories, but his life was turned around by the unexpected reappearance of a witness from Book 1. They’ve been corresponding since she returned to her homeland in Wyoming. He’s uncertain why she’s come back to Cornwall, but they’re mutually attracted and become lovers.
She’s less innocent than she seems, and may have an ulterior motive for getting involved with a copper. As a rebellious young woman, she acted as a getaway driver for a bank heist, in which people died. The gang was never caught. There’s no statute of limitations on murder.
My naïve country detective slowly realises how much he’s been played by a femme fatale. Does he turn her in? She’s only the second woman he’s ever loved.
Who are your favourite femme fatales from literature and films?
Whatever you think of Amazon, as a customer or as a seller, there’s no denying their power and influence. Kindle Direct Publishing is a force that would be foolish to ignore, though I resisted fully committing to them by only using their basic KDP programme, rather than the exclusive Select operation—which pays double the royalties—but is more restrictive of the writer.
As I’ve described in other threads, I was preparing to sign with Select this summer, when a publisher I’d queried asked for a full manuscript. I’ve delayed my plans to self-publish The Cornish Detective series, but have still formatted the books for digital and POD paperback release. More of that later.
This article from The Atlantic is well-researched and worth a read, as it shows how irresistible KDP is as a publisher. It used to be, that one of the supposed stumbling blocks with KDP was that a writer’s books wouldn’t appear in bookshops, other than Amazon’s own, and supermarkets and libraries, but that’s slowly changing.
There are best-selling authors on Amazon, who you’ve likely never heard of, who outsell household names and have become millionaires from their books. But, one household name, crime writer Dean Koontz recently signed a five-book deal with Thomas & Mercer, the Crime division of Amazon Publishing. A sign of changing attitudes, surely? If a best-selling author has gone over to what was once seen as the enemy of traditional publishing, then how long before others join him?
I’ve decided to join Select with the 45 titles I’ve had on KDP and distributed to other vendors via Smashwords and Draft2Digital for the last six years. They are volumes of poetry and song lyrics, for adults and children, short stories and novellas. This will be as much an experiment to find how Select works, as it is a way of raising income from sales. KDP promote Select books, pretty much ignoring those on KDP.
All of my thinking since 2013 has been geared towards publishing eBooks. I wasn’t driven by seeing my book in printed physical form. But, if I’m going with Select, it makes sense to join their print-on-demand option. This used to be called CreateSpace, but now goes by KDP Print. The transition since 2018 has not been without its problems, as I found when attempting to format my Cornish Detective manuscripts.
I started doing this as an optimistic move, some light relief from attempting to recover access to my WordPress website, which was making me mad, so when I encountered resistance from KDP Print I swore a lot!
The pages describing how to edit your manuscript to conform with requirements about bleed, margins, headers, pagination, trim size, section breaks, front matter, end matter and lots of other things you hadn’t thought of, are helpful.
When I first looked at the templates they provide I was mightily impressed, for with a bit of tinkering, I could adjust blocks of text on the cover to suit and it’s easy to upload the image I designed for the eBook as a cover.
I was encouraged by several instruction videos on YouTube, including this one, which shows how your book could look:
Easy peasy, right? I followed the instructions, replacing the Latin placeholder text with my author bio and blurb, clicking on Save to move to the next step. Except, it didn’t save, it disappeared! I tried several more times, usually getting strange colourful horizontal lines instead of text, though sometimes nothing happened at all. Don’t you just love it, when sites ignore you?
Fed up with big companies that promise you the world but shove you in the ditch, I searched KDP help forums, finding that many others were also facing opposition from the templates. One user mentioned having success by switching from Chrome to another browser. I tried the template in Mozilla Firefox and it worked perfectly!
Despite this glitch, Amazon encourages a writer to produce the best-looking paperback possible, by an online preview service, and also, you can order proof copies.
Have any of you published your books on KDP, Select or POD?
As I languish in limbo, while deciding whether to go ahead with self -publishing, which I’ve been preparing to do for seven months, or to wait for a reply from The Future Bookshelf who are contemplating if my manuscript is worth publishing, I came across an outspoken answer on Quora.
The question posed was What are the hardest aspects an author has to deal with when trying to get their book published?
Michael Davies, an Australian writer, publisher and writing teacher, who answers first, doesn’t pull any punches!
I haven’t dated in ten years, so naughtiness has been absent from my life, but I’ve just put my foot in it with Facebook.
To celebrate becoming a pensioner in July, I bought a copy of Nick Cave’s Push The Sky Away album on eBay. I love the title track, which is a song of hope. It kept playing in my mind, as I slogged through building a blog and a website devoted to my crime novel series.
The cover shows him ordering his ex-model wife Susie Bick from the room…she’s totally nude.
It was an impromptu shot snapped by the photographer between posed sessions, which they preferred for the cover.
I’d played the song on YouTube, so decided to post it on Facebook. I chose a full-length version, not thinking too much about the nudity, for the shot was taken from 30′ away and you can’t see anything much.
It’s a running joke that Mark Zuckerberg is terrified of nipples, as so many innocent pics featuring them have been banned.
Apparently, he’s scared of pubic hair too, for though Susie Bick’s minge is barely discernible, it got my post shunted off into the sin bin for contravening Facebook’s Community Standards. A few pixels of pubes made me naughty again!
In writing my crime novels, I’ve brought the last four in at about 80,000 words, though the first story I wrote ballooned to 179,000 words, entirely due to my ignorance of word counts! I’ve lopped 40,000 words off it, and as I prepare to join KDP Select I’m marketing it as a double-length story for the same price as the others. Good value!
The main reason that word counts are crucial is the cost of printing, storing and transporting books. Publishers will risk signing a book of 80,000 words, which amounts to 300-325 pages, depending on font size and formatting, but any bigger than that could see diminishing returns. Such concerns don’t apply to digital books, but an unknown writer needs to be introduced to readers in a digestible size.
I’ve read several very long novels in recent years, including Neal Stephenson’sReamde at 1,056 pages and 322,080 words. He’s just published a new novel, Fall; or, Dodge in Hell which at only 896 pages and 276,660 wordshas had some book critics calling it a short story!
Once a writer has established good sales figures, they’re allowed to sprawl. In 2019, I’ve read several crime novels of 500 + pages: John Connolly’s A Book Of Bones was 688 pages and 126,125 words, while Don Winslow’s The Border is 736 pages and 253,460 words.
I’m currently enjoying Knife by Jo Nesbø, which features his protagonist cop Harry Hole, a loosecannon with addiction issues. The plot involves his long-term life partner being murdered by a serial killer he captured who‘s been released from prison after completing his sentence. While he was incarcerated, Harry killed the killer’s son, who’d also become a murderer, so bad dad is after revenge.
Nesbø devotes many pages to exploring Harry Hole’s thinking. After reading an eight-page chapter in which he ruminates on life, love, faithfulness, the rock music he’s listening to and the alcohol he’s drinking, I considered how much space I’d permit my detective protagonist to do something similar. It wouldn’t be more than half-a-page, as I’m so aware of hitting the 80,000–word count.My hardback copy of Knife is 530 pages long, some 147,465 words, according to the reading length website:
I’d like to do more of the same. I feel constrained by80,000 words. In writing a series featuring the same characters, I’ve attempted to bond the reader with them, which could be better done with more space.
Of course, should I decide to go ahead with self-publishing on KDP Select, I can write books of whatever length I like, without the interference of a literary agent and publisher. Such temptation requires restraint.
Do you feel like you need more space to tell your stories?
I went over to the Linux operating system a few years ago.
Like most people, I learnt how to use computers with Microsoft Windows. This o/s has its advantages, but security isn’t one of them. Although I’m extremely careful about preventing malware infections, I still got clobbered a few times, once so seriously that I had to delete everything on my hard drive by making a clean re-install of Windows. Fortunately, I’d backed up most of my work on memory sticks and in the cloud, but I still lost a lot of work.
Linux Mint is a different atmosphere. I have a basic firewall installed, but no antivirus apps. It’s rare for there to be virus attacks on Linux. I feel safe.
Nevertheless, as is the way with online life, it’s impossible to avoid intrusion. Everyone is watching everybody else.
It’s worth running a check. My name was on twenty sites I’d authorised, such as email and those connected to my blog, but somehow, a sports stadium in Orlando, Florida knew about me—how? I deleted a dozen other watchers, including a company who sell a reproofing compound for sports car soft-top rooves, a marmalade manufacturer and a marine insurance broker!
This is more weird than threatening, but it goes to show how commerce steals your details to prosper—and to sell on.