Free Chapter from my Debut Novel: Bobby’s Boy

The following excerpt is from Chapter 16 of “Bobby’s Boy” by Mark Wilson  Copyright: Mark Wilson 2012: Tom Kinsella, my main character, has returned home to Scotland and Bellshill for a visit after being on tour with an American rock band. He has his new best friend Donny, an American who needs a break from his bandmate Davey, in tow. you can find a link to the book on Amazon at the top of the page and after the excerpt below.

ALL FEEDBACK APPRECIATED AND WELCOMED

16

Back Home

The tour recommenced and proceeded at a pace that the people involved had expected, but found themselves unprepared for nonetheless. Daily life consisted of pack-up, travel, un-pack, play, pack-up, travel, and repeat. Continuing across the States until the end of January, they then flew to London which would be the starting point of the European Leg, taking them through February and so many countries that they all began to lose track of where they were in a haze of performance, drink, drugs, sex and more travel.

By the time the tour had come to Glasgow, playing King Tut’s at the end of February, Tom had filled dozens of notebooks with material from the tour. He could leave the job that very day and have more than enough with which to write several books. Most of which, in recent weeks, documented the dire downward spiral of Donny and Davey’s working and personal relationship.

The former friends had all but divorced each other, save for the forty five minutes they spent on stage together nightly. Davey constantly complained about Donny when he wasn’t there and verbally attacked him whenever they were in a room together. The jealousy and paranoia emanating from Davey could be felt by everyone, and as he was forcing factions between everyone on the tour.

Frequently Davey could be found in dark corners of the tour bus or venue, whispering bile about Donny into the ears of another of Donny’s, soon to become, former friends. The problem was that it was working. Donny started to cut more and more of a solitary figure backstage and on the tour-bus.

Whatever Davey was saying, it hadn’t reached Tom’s ears so far, but he had overheard Jody shouting at Davey the previous night. “Go fuck yourself man, who gives a flying fuck about that? You’re shooting yourself in the damn foot boy. Donny’s the talent in your fuckin band and you’re forcing him to dump you guys. Wise up you fucking child.”

Obviously Jody had cracked in response to Davey’s attempts at spreading his poison further. Jody did have a point. What exactly did Davey think it would achieve alienating his friend like this? It’d end the tour lifestyle he loved so much for sure.

The guys couldn’t stand to be in the same room together at all anymore by the time the tour reached Glasgow’s King Tut’s. Donny asked if he could have a bit of a timeout at Tom’s home.

“No problem man”, Tom had told him. “But you’ll have to put up with my uncle Alec bending your ear and talking shite about music to you non-stop.” Donny looked at him with wet eyes full of gratitude. “That sounds great Tom. Thanks bro.”

Tom arrived at Alec’s house the day before the King Tut’s gig with Donny in tow. Anal Seepage weren’t joining RATM on stage for the next few shows, so they had three days to themselves before they’d have to catch a flight to San Diego for the next leg of the North American tour.

“What do you think Davey and Mikey are doing?”

“Probably the usual, coke, whiskey and sluts, but who gives a fuck what they’re doing”, Donny sighed.

Tom reckoned that Bellshill must have been a total culture shock to his American friend. They’d taken a taxi from Glasgow city centre, passing through some wild parts of Lanarkshire. Donny’s face had remained impassive, head down, eyes on the carpet of the taxi.

When they reached Bellshill and Community Road, Tom fished his key out of his bag to open the door. Before he put the key in the lock the door swung open, revealing Alec. “Hullo boys, in ye’ come”, Alec roared at them, giving his nephew a punch on the shoulder as he passed. “You’re putting the beef on Tommy, look at the fucking size of ye. Right, in and get the kettle on. Cup ay tea…….half a cup, son.”

Alec turned his attention to Donny, who was still standing in the doorway. “Fuckin hell son, cheer up”, Alec roared before delivering a slap to his shoulder that nearly knocked him back out the door.

Donny relaxed instantly in response to Alec’s easy friendliness, and despite the apparent gruffness of his friend’s Uncle, smiled broadly at him. “Yessir.”

Alec turned to Tom, “Sir? Jist like on the telly. Should’ve fucking had you calling me sir all these years baw-jaws.”

Tom rolled his eyes, “Right ye are Alec, ye’ve more chance of me calling ye Jesus.”

Donny watched the exchange, and the hugs between the two men, one he called his friend and the other he’d only just met. He felt instantly at home. Donny closed the door in response to Alec’s “Yer letting the fuckin heat out.” Donny gave a silent thank you for this respite, and for the first time in months, felt safe and wanted.

Tom and Donny made fine use of their short time off from tour, visiting Tom’s friends, places he loved (mostly music venues and cinemas) and relaxing in local bars. Donny stuck out like a sore thumb in Bellshill with his height, accent and, now once again, cheery, disposition. To be fair, Tom felt that he himself was just as mis-matched at times in Bellshill, but was relieved to be home for a few days.

Familiar faces came and went from their table in the lounge of Franklyn’s Bar where the boys had virtually camped out for the remainder of their first day in town after touring round Lanarkshire and Glasgow. Alec had spread the word that Tom was in town, and a steady stream of old friends had appeared throughout the day to hear his stories and share their own. It was great to hear how everyone was doing, and did Tom’s spirit good to catch up with these people he hadn’t realised that he’d missed so much.

Bellshill seemed smaller than ever to him now, but it still refreshed his tired soul and regenerated him in the same way that it had all those years ago when he returned here from Blackwood to live with Alec. Tom hadn’t appreciated quite how tired he’d been until he found himself relaxing in the company of people who’d known him his whole life, and he them. His people, who asked nothing of him, but to just be himself.

Donny coped well with the accent and the dialogue, joining conversations easily and making the pub roar with laughter when repeating Scots phrases like “Haw, fanny-baws” or “Ye want yer hole?” at the request of some of the guys. He spat these words out in a kind of half-American/Jamaican/Irish bastard-ism of the intended phrase that was irresistibly funny, and the requests kept on coming for an hour or more. Tom watched his friends with pride. The locals, so welcoming to a foreigner just as he’d expected of them and Donny, engaging with everyone happily and more relaxed than Tom had seen him in months. This visit had been a good idea and had lifted the spirits of both him and Donny.

Over the next couple of days Tom found, despite invitations to go here or there with him and Cathy that Donny seemed content to give them their space and spend a bit of time with Alec, who had taken to Donny with gusto, and vice versa. The two men talked incessantly about music, movies and pop-culture and appeared to have known each other for years. Once again, Tom was proud of how readily his Uncle had accepted a new face in his life, as he had done also with Cathy.

Alec genuinely enjoyed the company of someone new who had something to say for himself. The older man was clearly invigorated by the chance to converse with someone who appreciated the same things as he did, but viewed them from a different era and perspective.

Tom returned home late on their last evening in Scotland, dropped into his chair with a beer in one hand and a cigarette in the other, sighing as he relaxed into the familiarity of the chair, room and conversation. He quickly caught up with the ongoing discussion on great movie villains between Alec and Donny, both men a bit drunk by now.

Donny reckoned that Robert Mitchum’s Max Cady in the original Cape Fear was the most fearsome. Donny described Mitchum skillfully terrifying the life out of the audience in his stalking, ‘rapey-but charming’ demeanor.

Alec told him to get fucked. “Robert Mitchum was a scary big cunt right enough Donny, but your man Anthony Hopkins pishes all over him. Understated, creepy, highly intelligent, truly chilling auld monster, so Hannibal Lecter was son.”

Tom laughed at the look on Donny’s face. He reckoned that Donny caught about seventy percent of what Alec had said, which wasn’t bad where Alec was concerned.

“You’re both wrong”, Tom told them.

“Is that right smart-arse? Let’s hear it then, golden-baws. What half-arsed, shitey comic-book pish made you shit your frilly knickers? Fucking daft Vader, I suppose?”

Donny continued to wipe his tears of laughter away, while Tom leaned back into his chair and took a long slow drag on his Marlborough, enjoying making Alec wait.

“Na, Vader’s a prick, here’s the guy I’d fear.” He leaned into his uncle, waiting again until Alec leaned to him too. Tom lowered his voice, before continuing.

“I’ve never seen a properly scary villain who ticked all the boxes for me, but if I made a movie, here’s what he’d be…..Completely fucking normal, wimp-ish even, with slicked down black hair in a side-parting, overly- large and sad-looking  oval eyes, wee, thin pencil moustache, and always dressed in golf clothes. He’d look a bit like an accountant from the fifties.”

“Get tae fuck”, interrupted Alec, “he’s supposed tae be a scary bastard. A terrifying predator, no your auld English teacher fae school. Mind that cunt wi’ the ears on him Tommy?”

Tom laughed hard, and then leaned back in to continue. “He’d be a quiet man Alec, but with means. He’d shy away from crowds, but find release in torturing small animals. This guy wouldn’t be swimming about, shirt off like that big fanny Mitchum, and he wouldn’t be a pensioner in a fucking dug’s muzzle, spouting half-arsed philosophical shite about rolling birds to some lassie daft enough to entertain his pish. This guy would be still as a lake, always calm, never ruffled or excited or displaying any emotion.”

Alec snorted out a derisory plume of smoke from his nostrils. “Sounds like a right boring bastard, that’ll pull in the crowds having a fucking mannequin for the bad guy. Oh look, he’s sitting there doing fuck-all.”

Tom ignored him and Donny’s laughing. Donny was having trouble sitting up.

“My guy’s the kind of sick freak who only feels his blood stir when people die on a massive scale. He’s the guy that’d be watching earthquakes or tsunamis killing millions on TV, masturbating with a boxing glove and a handful of thinly sliced deli-meat, screaming the mantra “take it you fucking slags” as his soundtrack to death.

Alec looked at his nephew, one eyebrow raised. “You’re no fuckin right in the heid, scared of a fuckin librarian”. He shook his head and changed the subject. “So, what time are you boys away tomorrow then?” He already knew, but Tom suspected it was a good excuse for him to get off to bed under the guise of “I’ll no keep you two up, then.”

Donny beat him to it, “We’re going down to Manchester on Tom’s bike first thing, and he’s leaving it at his friends’ house.”

Alec laughed loudly. “If you’re getting on the back of his bike son, you better make sure you’ve some clean fucking pants waiting for ye’ at the other end.”

Donny got up from the couch laughing, and made it to the door before turning his head back to the room. ”You guys are so lucky to have each other, I’m off to bed, see you in the morning. Thanks Alec.”

“What’s he thanking you for uncle Alec?” Tom asked as Donny’s footsteps retreated upstairs.

“Och, nothing really, I’ll tell you later son…..You gonny tell me what happened with Cathy tonight?”

Fucking Alec, he always knew.

“Aye, I’d like that, if that’s ok?”

“Fire away son.”

Tom explained that in the last few days he and Cathy had been a bit “off” with each other. They’d argued several times on the phone over the last few weeks and, rather than sorting it out in person, seeing each other had seemed to amplify the problem. Tom embarrassedly explained to Alec that he’d been having a hard time hearing about all the people in Cathy’s life. Guys in particular. He felt that she was moving further and further away from him and every time she spoke about coffee with this one, or study with that one, Tom would go into a silent sulk, followed by questions, then accusations.

He couldn’t seem to keep his mouth shut, or stop torturing himself with mental images of what he imagined her to be up to with God knows who, so far away from him. It’s not something he had ever suffered from before, jealousy, but it had him in it’s grip firmly now. Worse still, it had brought along its mates, mistrust and paranoia, to join the party. It didn’t matter how many times he told himself to shut the fuck up, told himself that she would never, had never, that she loved him. His mouth just had to ask, to accuse. He knew that his actions sooner or later would either make his fears a reality when Cathy got fed up and decided to do what she was being accused of, or those same baseless accusations would result in her kicking him into touch. He couldn’t lose her, but couldn’t stop himself from thinking those twisted things. His brain wouldn’t obey him, betraying him instead with an unwanted slideshow of his worst fears.

Alec listened impassively. No comments like, “ya stupid wee arsehole” or “for fuck’s sake, Tommy” escaped his lips. Rather, he stood up, held his nephew close for a few moments and gently told him “Tom, you need to find out what’s making you behave like this, deal with it and stop acting so possessively towards her. She’s not a girl you want tae lose. And Tom….. do it soon. Cathy won’t put up with your shite for long. And nor should she.”

Tom’s tear-filled eyes looked at his uncle. He asked him” How Alec? I’m desperate to, but I don’t know how.”

Alec sighed, “I don’t know either son.”

You can buy Bobby’s Boy on Amazon UK here:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bobbys-Boy-ebook/dp/B007SGTHVC/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1335641028&sr=1-1

or in the US here:

http://www.amazon.com/Bobbys-Boy-ebook/dp/B007SGTHVC/ref=lp_B007OIGYJW_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1335641130&sr=1-1

Irvine Welsh and Snow Patrol F@cked It Up

I’m just so excited about the stage we have reached in terms of the music and literature industry in Britain right now. We’re about to hit a bubble where a massive explosion of new, exciting, meaningful and mind-blowingly energetic music and novels are about to emerge; clearing out the bland pish we are currently drowning in. Even the odd meaningful movie with a heart is sneaking through. Chronicle for example.

Don’t believe me? I’m a man in the know.

All my life, I’ve had a peculiar “affliction”. The technical name for it is synesthesia. Essentially it means that sounds in general, and music in particular, appear in my mind’s eye as colours. These are very specific and distinct to what each song or voice is conveying emotionally for me. As well as this, I love books and movies also. Imagine the soundtrack to a movie enhanced by flowing, swaying and splashing colours to accompany the music and words. Imagine the colour that flows from the words on a page when spoken aloud.

Now, how does this give me insight into the shifting landscape of our music and book industry? Well, for about 5 years now the British music industry in particular has been a very beige place to be in. The seemingly endless conveyer belt of X-Factor puppets and reformation of man-bands and Buble’s of the world have left the music scene dry, boring and colour-less. Where’s the excitement? Where are the songs and albums that you can identify with, laugh with, be outraged with, or that make you want to go f@cking nuts? Which particular artists are going to define the teen of today? The Script? The Wanted? JLS? Take-That? Nothing wrong with any of these acts, certainly there’s a lot worse around, but to my ears (and eyes) it’s music to chat to; music to have “ isn’t this civilised?” dinner parties to; but mostly, music to ignore.

Just look at Snow Patrol. This group actually produced some decent and innovative songs in their early days. Now? They’re slaves to their record company’s demands for formulaic coffee table soft rock ballads. They’ve gone from being a battered old VW van, full of charisma, tales to tell and character to becoming a 5 star safety rated Renault Megane. Don’t get me started on those bastards, Nickleback!

This Snow Patrol record is shite

The literary world is just as bad and just as beige. Irvine Welsh came along and redefined everything for me about how a book could be formatted and written, or a tale told. Trainspotting was a revelation; Glue was arguably his finest moment. Everything else? A copy of a copy. Each piece written to emulate what made his early work so vibrant, but never quite recapturing the hunger and passion of those works. Irv, please, don’t keep writing what you think the audience wants; rather give us your best, straight from your black heart. I miss Juice Terry, Begbie and the boys, but don’t trot them out like well-worn slippers for a tired re-enactment or two, put some good old-fashioned Welsh spunk in their stories or don’t bother yer arse.

I could list all day the formulaic strategy that writers have adopted and name and shame those c@nts, but why bother? You know how you are; Grisham, Cornwell, Patterson, Harris, Ludlum and your pals. The comparison between these “industries” is obvious to anyone who loves music, books and movies. The “big 6” have told us who and what we “want” to read for long enough.

Just as music is emerging (hopefully soon) from an age where the bean-counters and committees decide and dictate what we listen to, read or watch, so too is the literary world. Self-publishing without a doubt will bring its problems: poorly written, poorly edited or written to a formula John Locke-type “novels” etc. However with that comes the freedom of being able to publish the stories we want to tell when we want to tell them. To be able to write and distribute the very best words straight from our hearts to (hopefully) our audience. Fine times are ahead indeed.

Here’s the Brucie-Bonus though. Every so often when music or film or literature gets to its lowest point a monster of a group or completely new sound, or a new voice, director, writer or visionary comes along and inspires change of immense proportions. Guys like John Niven are starting to emerge and that suits me just fine Times of austerity and poverty also historically produce musicians, writers and artists who are hungry for change and have a message to force into the public consciousness.. Times are very tough at present.

Revolution is on its way, praise the Lord.

Good times are a comin’.

My debut novel, “Bobby’s Boy” is available now on Amazon:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bobbys-Boy-ebook/dp/B007SGTHVC/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1335467068&sr=1-1

 

 

How I self published: Part 4: Marketing

Should I use Amazon’s Kindle Publishing, Smashwords, Goodreads or POD services like Lulu and Createspace?

The simple answer is to use them all, but I advise a staggered approach. Here’s my strategy for maximising exposure of my books and hopefully sales:

Before publishing my debut, full-length novel, “Bobby’s Boy”, I put together a short (100 page) non-fiction book titled “Paddy’s Daddy” (a series of short-stories linked together from related blogs which I’d written over the course of two years, detailing my fall into and recovery from severe depression) and self-published it on Amazon’s Kindle platform. I did this around two weeks before publishing my main project, and for two reasons:

Firstly, I wanted to experience the process of self-publishing on the initial platform I planned to use (Kindle). I wanted to learn the ins and outs of formatting the text, cover design, enrolling in Kindle Select, and the foibles of having a book on Amazon and (hopefully) selling.

Secondly, I wanted to use this wee project as a way of getting my name out on Amazon and hopefully gather a few positive reviews in preparation for my main book launch.

This strategy worked well for me. I shifted 450 copies of the book in one week (80% on free promo), found the book connected to others frequently (“people who bought this also” section) and was fortunate to receive 11 positive reviews for the short-story collection.
The book achieved its purpose of exposure, and is still doing modestly well. In hindsight though, I’d have left at least a month between book releases.

I also put “Paddy’s Daddy” out as a paperback using the Createspace facility. To date, not a single paperback has been sold. I’m rather glad of that as I made a hash of the inside formatting of the paperback and the cover was blurred. I learned some valuable lessons about the proper use of this site, which was the whole point. I would go through the Createspace process again for “Bobby’s Boy”, but would take more care to create the perfect interior and exterior, possibly I’d hire help for the cover. I will be replacing the paperback of “Paddy’s Daddy” in the near future with a more suitable version.

So, on to Smashwords, Goodreads, Lulu, Apple, B&N, Nook etc:

My strategy has been to use the Amazon Kindle Select free promo option (like the hoor it is) for the stipulated 90 days sentence, after which my books will both be placed on the virtual shelves of all the above outlets. Why wouldn’t I?

The way I see it is that I’ll use Amazon and its Select program for initial exposure, see out the 90 days, and then put my books in as many “shop windows” as I could find. If you want to sell books, you’ve got to make them available to every customer, on every platform, right? Why limit it to one (massive) outlet in Amazon?

I’ve got until June until my Kindle select sentence is served and between now and then I’ll be publishing “Bobby’s Boy” as a paperback using Createspace in the US, and Lulu in the UK.

(Oh, and I’ll be writing my next book, “Naebody’s Hero” too.)

Bobby’s Boy is available on Amazon now:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bobbys-Boy-ebook/dp/B007SGTHVC/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1334825845&sr=8-1

How I self published: Part 3. Formatting

How I self published: Part 3. Formatting

Getting your document formatted and ready for Publication

So, I completed my novel (finally) and now had to look at getting it formatted correctly for the marketplace(s) that I intended to use to sell it. My preferred option are; Amazon (duh), Smashwords (after I use Kindle select for 90 days), and Goodreads (easy Pdf file, hooha!).

The formatting process was surprisingly simple for kindle, as I’d kept my document pretty simple, with no fancy-pants fonts or characters throughout. NB: You can look inside my novel on Amazon using the “look inside” feature to see my fonts here:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bobbys-Boy-ebook/dp/B007SGTHVC/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1334745095&sr=8-1

I read lots of different manuals, forums and guides on how to prepare the manuscript and all served to terrify me. Being hard as nails, I ignored my fear and pushed on. Each document suggested that however much time and effort I spent prepping the document, that the kindle transfer would say ”sorry big man, that’s shite, try again” and spit it back at me endless times. Not so it turned out.

The main formatting techniques I paid heed to worked for me and my manuscript slipped on through the fearsome KDP beast, perfectly, first time.

Here’s my top tips:​
1. Indent paragraphs, first line, 0 space before an 0 space after.
2. When inserting a new paragraph, hit enter key once.
3. when looking for a gap between paragraphs, for a change of scene or something else, hit the enter key twice.
4. I used Cambria at size 12, with 1.15 spacing.
5. Use ctrl/enter to insert page breaks.
6. Use insert pic, to put in pics rather than cut/paste them.
7. Do not use the tab, instead, use your left/centr/right align buttons for titles or chapter headings.
8. Keep it simple.

By doing this, it was incredibly easy to save the file as a HTML doc, pop it through Mobi- create and then onto Kindle Direct. Job done.

I used a great series of videos as instructions for this part and found them spot-on. Part 2 especially was a great help: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RU2kprKRrGY&feature=plcp&context=C42a1a04VDvjVQa1PpcFOy9rGaVLvKBbYZbjQsRV5-yKgO8N6FG0I=

I will be going through the formatting guide a step at a time for Smashwords in two months (when my kindle select 90 sentence is served). It’s possible and fairly inexpensive to hire someone to do this for you, but I’m Scottish and therefore too cheap and convinced I can do better on my own, so I’ll be learning how to myself. This strategy did not work out well for me on my last DIY project, and I “got a man in”. I‘ll pass along what I learn at a later date (or advise you to hire someone).

Bit of a boring, “how to” blog today I’m afraid. Normal, cantankerous self will return for my next post.

Bobby’s Boy available now on Amazon

“You must have plenty money now you’ve written a book”

Someone said this exact thing, with no trace of humour on their face, today: allow me to retort m’lady.

I spent 100s of hours writing my full length novel.

Ive spent dozens more formatting and editing and promoting and marketing said book.

So far, I’ve shifted just short of 1000 downloads of my book..

Most of them we’re on free promo.

Ive had 15 reviews, all positive, all made me incredibly happy and glad I’d took on this huge and imposing task.

In total I’ve made precisely £32.50 for all the effort put in. I’m chuffed with that. Will get a very nice, posh bottle of red with it.

Believe me, my motivation in writing these books and the next is far from financial. But, if I had to explain it, you’d never understand.

 

 

How I Self-Published: Part 2: Piracy

How I Self-Published: Part 2

Is Piracy really of relevance to Indie-Authors?

I’ll get to the process of producing your own book in the next two parts, first I want to discuss “Piracy”.

I self-published my first full length novel, “Bobby’s Boy”, on 7th April 2012, so I’m a “noob” in the world of self-publishing. I’m learning fast though. One of the first “issues” I came across while researching the processes involved with self-publishing, e-publishing, using Print-on-demand services, such as Createspace and Lulu, and promoting, was that of protecting one’s work. Apply DRM or not?

It seemed like a non-issue to me when I first started down the road of becoming a self-published author, and it still does now, one fictional novel and one non-fiction collection of short stories “Paddy’s Daddy”, later. The reason for my lack of concern over someone stealing or “Pirating” my hard work? Piracy has always existed, always should and always will.

From scrolls to wax-tablets to bound papyrus, the first codices; from modern books to audio-cassettes and Mp3s; people have transcribed, copied, photocopied, hacked and recreated their hearts away merrily throughout history. Many of us would never have had the opportunity to see, hear or read a huge variety of creative projects without the process of copying and or passing on works which moved or interested us, but that we didn’t necessarily pay for or earn the privilege to access. The internet has changed and amplified this practice forever.

Which of us (certainly over thirty) hasn’t recorded the top-forty during our formative years, cursing the DJ the whole time for talking over that favourite song? Which of us didn’t record Star Wars, or James Bond (Roger Moore of course), or The Incredible Hulk (forever DAVID Banner to my mind)? Who hasn’t shared a comic, or a video, DVD, CD or a book?

We’re all technically “Pirates”, we all do it, and will continue to do so. Is it stealing on this small scale? Absolutely not, not to my mind. Do I condone it on a mass scale, where factories churn out thousands of copies of albums, games and books, bypassing completely the hard-working (mostly) creative folks behind them? Absolutely not. But the facts are this; those who pay and wish to pay for books, or any other media, will continue to do so. Those who do not, will not. These people will find new ways to circumvent whatever security we try to lock our books with. And do you know what? Its right to do so.

People should always strive for way to stick it to the system, to gain access to the inaccessible. To those materials that those in power have decreed they cannot have for reasons of wealth, education or social status. The world of today, is one of communication and information transfer. Transfer not purchase. The music industry has had to accept that it must evolve in order to make money. Good musicians and bands realise this and are getting creative in how and what they market and promote to their fans. Ask anyone under 20 if they pay for music and they’ll look at you like you asked them if they pay to breathe. Why should they?

As truly free authors we need to shrug off the delusions of the previous regime of the publishing industry. We have it in our power to present our work the way that we want, and be rewarded for it how we choose. I don’t think that books will fall so easily to the depths of almost non-profit that music is surely headed to unless the industry catches on and changes. Books, good books, will always have a value, as will good music, the key will be in determining how we convey that value to our readers and how we define and collect our reward as authors.

When all’s said and done, I’m an Indie-Author. I write stories that I believe are good, really good. Stories that are human, and have a piece of my life in them. Stories that matter to me. Stories about people and I want people to read them. I have that luxury because I’m not owned by a Publisher. I have no delusions of grandeur or dreams of fame and fortune. I deliberately avoided the soul-destroying, shackling methods and machinery of traditional publishing, so that I could write what I want, when I want, for whom I want.

The more people who read my book, by whatever means, the better. Hey, go buy it, that’d be great, I’d be happy with that, but if the couple of bucks I’m charging is too steep, if you want to borrow it from a friend, go right ahead. If you like my book and share that you liked it by reviewing it or emailing me to tell me so, I’ll be a happy wee Indie-Author.

We’re the new Rock Stars, us Indie-Authors don’t’cha’ know? Lets not get trapped in the negative, insular world of publishing that we have such a great opportunity to free ourselves from. Get those creative minds being creative about how we define our new publishing world.

Bobby’s Boy is available on Amazon now:

UK:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bobbys-Boy-ebook/dp/B007SGTHVC/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1334565703&sr=1-1

US:
http://www.amazon.com/Bobbys-Boy-ebook/dp/B007SGTHVC/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1334574417&sr=8-1

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Are Indie-Authors the Whores of Social Media?

Are Indie-Authors the Whores of Social Media?

I’m beginning to think we are you know.

Since the very day I stepped into the world of self-publishing/e-publishing/Indie-publishing, whatever, and published my short-story collection “Paddy’s Daddy”, followed by my full length novel “Bobby’s Boy”, I’ve had my metaphorical arse in the air on twitter (along with every other indie-author) in an effort to attract readers. Mostly I attract other authors, trying to attract readers.

Tweet, retweet, reply; lather, rinse repeat; has become the currency of the indie author. We (the authors) have become the modern day equivalent of the ancient tradition where the poor soul would sit outside the temple reciting “Alms for the blind?” Either that or we’re the tweet equivalent of fluorescent-wearing chuggers on the high street, chasing some poor bastard down the road for a couple of quid royalty, only when we catch them, they’re one of us, and so we gather number. The twitter-sphere is saturated with link-posting authors, in the desperate and futile act of pimping their books, ultimately to each other.

I'll retweet your brains out if you retweet me first

It wasn’t supposed to be like this. Indie publishing should have empowered us, instead we chase readers and each other in circles. We sit with a wee sign up saying “buy a book from X, his writing’s great, just ask him, he’s over there. Oh, and he’ll tell you the same about my book, so come back here when you’ve seen him. What’s that? You’re a writer? well, c’mere and I’ll retweet you then, but back of the queue first.

I’m not against a bit of mutual promotion, but it’s so constant, so ubiquitous, so time-consuming and soul destroying and so unimaginative.

Link after link, after link. “My book’s free, mine’s only 99 cents, mines is a series, etc”. It’s become such a clichéd strategy, but it seems that we are all stuck in the cycle because the pioneers of self-publishing, or dickhead profiteers like John Locke, say it’s how it’s done. Guys like Steven Lewis (@Rule17) are a rare and welcome exception, offering much in the way of valid, constructive and useful advice on self-publishing.

I say no.

I say rediscover the creative spark that so easily comes when you write and apply it to your promo on twitter or any other social media. No more links (save for the one in your profile. That’s plenty). Instead, let’s have honest to goodness thoughts about life, books, movies, music, the news, whatever floats your boat. People know you’re an author, its’ right there in your profile, if they like you they’ll go check out your website anyway.

Engage with your “followers”. Retweet away ‘til your hearts’ content, but pass on fun things people say or do. Post ridiculous pics of yourself, have a conversation, by Christ have some fun! Stop self-promoting under the umbrella of promoting others. We’re not buying each others’ books, but we’re tweeting and retweeting the same tired links around each other. Put those creative thoughts out there in conversation. Engage your followers and they just might become readers.

I’m in the process of launching my third book. This last year I’ve done Speeches at a variety of venues on a range of topics including writing. I’ve been on blog tours, promo interviews, been in several newspapers several times. I’ve handed out flyers and dozens of other strategies. None of this makes much difference.

Here’s what I’ve found makes a significant and recurring difference in sales:
Keep writing quality stories, get them edited well and get a professional cover. Give your reader value.

Target the right categories and readers. Do your research on keywords and phrases and place your book in the right shop window.

Don’t rely on social media. Less than 0.01% of this you pester will actually click on your link to your book. Only a small fraction of those will actually buy.

Look at the long game. Your book, if it’s well written, will be there forever, build momentum based on real readers feedback and reviews an your developing skill as a writer. Don’t expect continued and sustained sales from the tweet retweet jerk-circle. It’s a self-limiting and ultimately self-sabotaging type of promotion.

Please fellow writers; let’s stop being the biggest spam source in the whole twitter-sphere. Rely on your blogs, websites and most of all, novels to do the selling and just enjoy the social media for what it was intended. Being sociable.

Or maybe I’m missing something and the “feeling like a social media hoor” phase I’m going through will pass.

Either way please do buy my book……*cough* here’s the link:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bobbys-Boy-ebook/dp/B007SGTHVC/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1334424320&sr=1-1

How I Self-Published: Part 1

How I Self-Published: Part 1 or: Gavin Bain made me do it!

Self- Publishing or Traditional? 

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be writing a series of articles detailing the process I’ve gone through, and am still learning my way through, on the route to becoming a self-published, eBook author and promoting my books. It’s been a steep learning curve and I’ve made some rookie mistakes along the way (which I’m hoping to save you the time of having to correct) but also the most fun I’ve had working…ever.

All comments and shared experiences more than welcome. Anyway, here’s Part 1:

Gavin Bain made me do it!

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. During the process of writing my debut novel, “Bobby’s Boy” I went back and forward in my decision as to whether engage in the process of wooing an agent/publisher. When I started writing, I firmly stood in the self-publish camp. As I progressed in the book, I researched the industry more and more. Royalties, advances, agents, services performed by the publishing house and or the agent, big or small publisher? There was and is a lot to learn. I did weeks of research, seeking out those agents and publishers (mostly Indie) whom I thought would like me and my book, and whom I thought I’d like to work with, and could subsequently stomach whoring myself around. That list remains unused at present.

More and more, as I immersed myself in the snaking and shaded corridors of the literary industry, the same nagging questions came back to me. Is it worth giving away control of my work for the potential exposure a big publisher might bring? It seemed to me that if these guys deigned to take you, they’d in all probability change your work endlessly, until it fit their formulaic idea of what a commercial novel should be. It seemed that most of the promo and marketing would be done by me rather than them anyway, so why should I give them such a huge chunk of my potential earnings and, more importantly, complete control over the words that I had spent so many hours writing? What was more important, potential earnings or creative control?

Advances: For many authors, it seems that an advance, especially a huge one, is the holy grail. I just don’t understand this mentallity at all. Sure an advance is a nice pat on the back, and an indication that your book is commercial enough (or at least can be made to be, in the payers opinion). It also seems like a goood way of allowing the author the privelage and means to write full-time. For me, its a scary prospect. An advance simply means that you’re in debt to the issuer unti your sales repay the money. If the sales take years to do so? Well, you’re in hock to them for years, and quite probably on a deadline for at least one more book. No thanks.

Agents: Whilst there are of course many good quality agebnts, who work hard for their clients, lets remember two key things about them. Firstly, they do try to get the best deal for their authors, but that may mean something different to them than it does to the author, in terms of cash, advances (brrr) or prestige of publishing house over creative control or effective care from the publisher. Your agency is a business, the more money(debt) they get for you, the more money they themselves make, and that is their primary objective.

I also dislike that most publishers now only take submissions from those who have an agent. It’s like a whole level of the indusrty exists as a vetting and an introductory service. Crazy

Secondly, they will take around 15% of your money, which is already a very small percentage (somewhere between 7 -15%) when considering the fact that you worked so hard on your book and will continue to work your arse off promoting the book, publisher or no publisher (unless of course you’re high on the publishers’ radar). Whilst the services of agents can be very valuable, if you take the traditional publisher out of the picture, there’s really no place for an agent.

For me it was a no-brainer, but still, a small part of me, the one that’s low on self-esteem and thinks everything I write is shite, told me that I needed the recognition from an agent or publisher that my book was “good”.  I ignored that needy little shite-version of me, and ploughed on, buoyed by the research I’d done into the standard of eBooks out there. As far as I could see, my book was as good as many self-published eBooks, and better than most (there’s the tiny little bit of ego/confidence I do possess asserting itself).

I had a chat with a friend of mine, Gavin Bain. Gavin is one of those rare people (author, musician, rapper, and singer) who have had extensive experience of not only the music business, but the book business (the music biz with posh accents according to Gav) also. After advice from Gav, stories of mis-handling, missed opportunities and loss of creative control from Gav and several other writers, I decided that my initial, gut, reaction to self-publish was the correct one.

As the lovely Edith Piaf says: “je ne regrette rien” (so far)

Coming In Part 2: The publishing process.

You can find my debut novel “Bobby’s Boy” at the links below. Please come join me on twitter @markwilsonbooks

UK:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bobbys-Boy-ebook/dp/B007SGTHVC/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1334080079&sr=1-1

US:

http://www.amazon.com/Bobbys-Boy-ebook/dp/B007SGTHVC/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1334080132&sr=1-1

Look up Gav’s band at: www.hopelessheroic.com

Bobby’s Boy (my debut novel) Finally released

I’m delighted to announce the release (on kindle Ebook) of my debut novel: Bobby’s Boy:

UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bobbys-Boy-ebook/dp/B007SGTHVC/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1333972203&sr=8-6

US:http://www.amazon.com/Bobbys-Boy-ebook/dp/B007SGTHVC/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1333972387&sr=1-3

BOBBY’S BOY

The novel follows the life of happy-go-lucky orphan Tom Kinsella from childhood through to his late twenties. Tom is a budding music journalist and photographer from Lanarkshire, Scotland.

After being offered an opportunity to pursue his dream job, Tom travels the length and breadth of Europe and the USA on tour with one of the world’s greatest ever rock bands, documenting their support act’s every move. The trip, lasting two years, allows Tom to walk in the footsteps of his dead parents, deal with the guilt that comes of being abandoned and lay old ghosts to rest.

Set in the 1970s through to the early twenty-first century and in Paris, London, LA, New York and Bellshill, Bobby’s Boy is the tale of one young man’s determination to rise above loss and tragedy to build a successful life for himself.

Tom Kinsella is a man who defines his own reality. He is orphan, son, brother, friend, husband, father, workaholic, alcoholic and hero.  With a few twists and turns, plenty of Scottish humour, a few tears and some fun along the way, Bobby’s Boy explores the limits of what a person can achieve with the power of determination.

Who would you become if you could choose who you would be?

Buy Bobby’s Boy today on Amazon:

UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bobbys-Boy-ebook/dp/B007SGTHVC/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1333972203&sr=8-6

US:http://www.amazon.com/Bobbys-Boy-ebook/dp/B007SGTHVC/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1333972387&sr=1-3

John Locke=Simon Cowell

I spent an hour this morning reading John Locke’s “How I did” book. An hour was pretty much all it took to complete the book. Three minutes was all it took for me to decide that this guy nicely represents everything that’s wrong about the publishing industry (and to this man, industry is the keyword) in one self-satisfied, smug and number-crunching little package.

For those that don’t know of Mr L, he sold one million ebooks in five months. Ask him, he’ll tell you. He responds to any and every email dontcha know? He also loves and values each one of them. He should, he spent hundred of hours seeking them out and convincing them to buy his books with some excellent marketing and promo sneakery.

Whilst there are some good tips inside the books pages (many of which you’ll be able to find online for yourself), Mr L spends most of his time telling us about formulas, and strategies for writing. He (like the seasoned gambler) has, he believes, developed his “sure system” for successfully selling thousands of books. Mr L spends hours constructing the perfect blog, containing all the right emotions, themes and keywords to bring you to his book. Very clever (and effective too it seems) but whatever happened to writing because you just had to? Writing because there was something inside that needed to come out?

Not Mr L’s style. Rather, he targets people, deciding what type of beings they are, what they like, eat, dress in, watch at the cinema, and writes specifically for the most common denominator. He seeks out or manufactures the common ground between he and them, between his novels and them. He “gives people what they want” constructing scenes and character traits from a checklist of likes and attributes of what he believes people need or want in a book.

Mr L does not write from the heart. He has no great story to share or demons to exorcise with his work. He doesn’ t even really seem to seek to entertain people, just keep them coming back for what he’s calculated that they want from a book. Safe, predictable and familiar characters, written for a bottom line rather than for his audience’s pleasure. To be fair, it seems to work for him, if you measure success the way that Mr L seems to. In Numbers. In Sales. In volume of books, rather than quality.

Like the man himself Mr Simon Cowell, Mr L pores over data, figures, reviews, feedback and focus groups, assessing, will this strike the right note? Will my targets buy into this? Is it close enough to my “formula” so as to not alienate my core readers? Mr L refers to his books as employees, little soldiers lined up working day and night for him. Simon Cowell, with his endless stream of fame-hungry media-fodder would be proud and envious.

It’s sad to see, especially now at what may just be the beginning of a new era for Indie-Authors, a man like Mr Locke reducing the potential for good, passionate writers to make their mark by pishing in the literary waters with this data-driven soulless approach to writing. The man is a shrewd and calculating businessman first, a profiteer second, and a mildly entertaining writer (who seems to hate writing) third.

The mainstream music we listen to is written, manufactured and promoted by businessmen who care nothing for the art or the artists that they use up so readily and cast aside; onto the next. Music that the masses consume, written to a “formula” and a budget, with little or no input from anyone who cares what it sounds like, conveys or evokes in the listener. They shit it out and laugh as we scoff it down and fill their coffers, marvelling at their own skill in deducing exactly what we want.

Authors have a chance, right now, to break the traditional stranglehold and power that the big publishers and literary agents have over our original ideas, creativeness and yes, earnings. We have the opportunity to produce our very finest work and present it the way that we believe it should be, not diluted down and gelded by a committee of suits, who “know” what the public want.

In my view, books should never be written in this kind of formulaic and targeted way, but delivered from the authors’ imagination and heart onto the page. Polished and packaged up and yes marketed and promoted, but never designed to appeal to this demographic or that emotion. It is a business, writing and selling books, but its a privilege as well.

I hope that John Locke’s breed don’t do to the book industry what the suits in power in the music industry have done. Time will tell.