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

 

 

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