Adventures in Writing – virtual book tour for Whipped Up lost amongst the sadness…

I’ve been reading up on this creating an e-mailing list stuff which is clogging the airwaves (is it airwaves when you’re using the internet? Mm…). Anyway, it’s like every other piece of ‘advise’ you get out there. It’s naff.

Marketing guys – and gals – are sure great at telling everyone how easy it is. So-much-so that Amazon is now completely full up with 99 percent crap. So, I’m beginning to seriously ask myself, what is the point.

And I have the answer.

There isn’t one.

There is no point beating yourself, or myself, up over this. If none of this marketing works, what’s a poor, struggling writer to do? Well, this is what I do. It doesn’t make me any money, but it keeps me writing, which is the main part as far as I’m concerned.  I received an email from Amazon, nudging me towards one or two books on ‘writing a Kindle a week’, that sort of BS.  So let us have a look at the writing process from the eyes of someone who writes. And it’s free!

Step one. You have an idea. It may not be much of an idea. It may be a sentence, maybe even a word. But, whatever it is, you see it in your head. It’s like a picture, or a scene from a movie. You write it down. Doesn’t matter where. The important thing is to write it because, if you don’t, you’ll forget. Trust me. I know.

Step two, without really thinking too much (deep thinking is very bad for fiction writers; it clogs the imagination, interrupts the flow), you develop this germ of an idea. You might write a paragraph, perhaps even an entire chapter. It doesn’t matter which. The key is, to write. As above. Write.

Step 3. You never stop thinking. You run through scenarios and dialogue in your head. You can see your characters walking, breathing, talking. It’s real. It truly is. And the more you think, the more you take notes, or even (like me) you write down whole chapters of stuff which just burst out of you like an over-flowing drain pipe during a rain storm. And you can’t stop it because there is no tap, but you don’t care because it feels great. Writing is great, especially when it totally consumes you.

Step 4.

That’s it. Step 4 is it. You’re writing your book and you can’t stop now. You are so engrossed in your story, it becomes an urgent need to get it down, to create. Nothing else matters. Dinner times come and go, episodes of your favourite TV series are missed and, before you know it …

Step 5. It is finished. You’ve re-drafted it, maybe 3 or 4 times. Your publisher has assigned you an editor. The clock ticks. The days become weeks, weeks become months. To get yourself through the empty days of waiting and hoping, I write another book. It’s the only way. But it is so frustrating. You’ve given everything but does it actually mean anything? Not a jot.  Publishing is long. So long it is painful. The emails dry up. When once your publisher was so thrilled, there is now silence.  Nobody loves you, nobody cares. You are a man alone (or woman, but maybe it’s not the same for you, I don’t know. I’m a man, you see. Write about what you know!) and sometimes it can become so horrible you want to run off the edge of a cliff. I’d do that if there were any cliffs around here. But there aren’t. Maybe that’s a good thing…maybe not.

Because I received news there is ONE remaining north African white rhino left in the wild. One. And suddenly, nothing else matters. So, I’m not going to worry about any of this any more. Publishers, they can do what they want. I’m not going to go on Facebook every day, I’m not going to tweet on Twitter every week. Maybe once in a blue-moon, when it’s something important. To me anyway. I’m not going to check my emails every few seconds, hoping a publisher has contacted me. I don’t care. That rhino (his name is Sudan by the way) has made me think how trivial our lives are. He matters, not me. And I’ve failed him. He’s going to die and the world will have no more north African white rhinos and nobody cares. At least, it seems that way. And if nobody cares about him, why should they care about me and my pathetic books?

But I’ll continue to write. Even if it is to an audience of one. ‘Whipped Up’ (at its budget price, as are Varangian and Varangian 2) is on tour, starting 19th May, so, you see, this is not about giving up. It’s about continuing to do the best you can, even when no one is listening. Success is a relative thing. The act of writing a book is success. When one person  you do not know buys your book, that’s  success. There will be lots of set-backs, lots of BS thrown at you from so-called experts who haven’t got a single clue about what it is like to write, lots of dishonesty and indifference (which is perhaps the hardest thing to swallow) but when the thrill buzzes through your guts at the thought of writing a new chapter, put all of that aside. Even if I did not sell another single copy, I would not stop writing.

But I can’t put Sudan aside. No matter how I try. His plight has changed me and plunged me into a very dark place.

You can catch up on my book tour here…even though it may be lost amongst the sadness.

May 19 – Reading Addiction Virtual Book Tours – Kick Off

May 20 – Texas Book Nook

May 21 – A Life Through Books

May 22 – Coffee Book Mom

May 25 – My Reading Addiction

May 26 – The Indie Express

May 27 – Steamy Side

June 2 – RABT Reviews – Wrap Up

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Adventures in Writing… hitting the wall

Strange life, isn’t it. What it throws at you, how it tests your resolve.

Now, to start off, I’m not trying to sound pessimistic or defeatist here … I love writing, I really do, but I am quite a sensitive guy. I take things to heart and life can be so hard. For me, it seems, the fates are always against me. I know, i know. I can hear people saying now, ‘you make your own fate, your own luck!’ Well, I’ve tried that too. But I digress …

You´ve heard the expression, a picture is worth a thousand words. As a writer, the task is to try and paint the images in our head using words in such a way to make them accessible and understandable to our readers.

It is not easy, as you all know.

I sometimes find myself reading a good book by an established author and missing out entire chunks of narrative because I find them simply uninteresting. I feel terribly guilty about this, then I stop and wonder how many of my words are being skipped and skimmed. A lot, I think.

Often, as a writer and as a person, life throws up its challenges. Those challenges can be daunting, sometimes unassailable. And very often it is easy to give up.

I remember a couple of years ago, I contacted my publisher and requested my book be made ‘free’ for a short time, as I’d heard this was a sure-fire way to gain interest. Well, it worked. In a way. The book, which had perhaps sold maybe half a dozen copies, was downloaded 784 times! And how many reviews did I get? One. How many follow-up sales? None.

Depressing, isn’t it.

Recently, I followed other advice about book promotions. Certain companies would promote your book on their site, which has X-thousand followers. Sounded worthy of a shot. So, I did it. Contacted my publisher (not the same one as my first attempt to conjure up interest), and decided to offer one of my books at a considerable discount. Less than a pint of beer in the UK. I thought it was a pretty good offer.

Result? No sales.

So, you can understand why I’m depressed.

Most of us have the same problem, I guess. It doesn’t really matter how good we are at writing, we’re never going to reach readers, not in any great volume. There are simply too many books out there, too many writers. And most of them seem to have hit on the magic ingredient of getting known. Well, I don’t know what the ingredient is, and it’s causing me huge concern. I have always wanted to write. Not to make millions, not to be famous, but to simply make enough money to live a life which allows me to create, pay the bills and put some food on the table. Well, it’s not going to happen.

I´ve gone on about Twitter and people having hundreds of thousands of followers, so imagine my delight when I joined a webinar to be told this is meaningless. What one has to do, in order to reach readers, is to get people to join your email list. Well, sounds great, except I don’t know how to do this. And, right now, I’m becoming more and more cynical. I don’t think anything will work.

Pessimistic, depressive, cynical…yes, I’m all of those things now. I’ve had the optimism beaten out of me. I met a good friend of mine the other day, whom I haven’t seen for almost 20 years, and she told me, ‘I’ve looked at your books and I was going to buy one, but they’re not really my sort of thing’. At my work, I have well over 70 colleagues and not one of them has ever bought any of my books. It’s not that they are bad. They are published works, well-edited, and are good stories, but people simply do not want to part with their money, or simply can’t accept, or a flair to do something which most only ever dream of. ‘Familiarity breeds contempt’. Perhaps it is that. Who knows? To write a book is no easy matter, but writers are rarely celebrated for the simple act of writing. People do not give it any credit. Run a Marathon and people worship you like a god; drive a Porsche and people stop and gasp in the streets; sing and you’re considered the have achieved the highest calling in life; write a book, nobody bats an eyelid.

Well, I’m not going to worry about this now. I’ve decided. I’m simply going to continue to write. To hell with the marketing, it doesn’t work. If I can write and get published, that’s all I really care about. To get the food on the table, I’ll continue to teach for as long as I can and in my spare moments, I’ll put down the words and try my best not to worry. It’s going to be hard though, don’t you think?

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Adventures in Writing – tweet, tweet ter-woo!

You know, I’ve just posted something on Twitter. I go to look, and it’s not there. Well, it is, but it is already superseded by about forty or more tweets from others. This got me thinking. In order to READ all of these Tweets, you’d have to be on the internet 24/7. For most of us, this simply isn’t feasible.

So…I tried to work it out. All my efforts to post earth-shattering, informative, philosophical, newsworthy Tweets…

Is it really worth it?

I began to think about myself. I’m not unique, different, in any way out of the ordinary. How much of my day do I spend on Twitter? It didn’t take me long to find the answer.

About ten minutes.

In that time, am I likely to take notice, spot, discern, know about the world’s next great book?

Answer…

No.

We are all programmed to believe that having a ‘presence’ is absolutely essential in this hyper-spaced-out-world in which we live.

Is it?

What does it mean if we have 108k followers? I’ve talked about this before, but sometimes I think it is worth revisiting. I use the above figure as an example. Here’s why.

Today I received an email telling me I have another new follower on Twitter. Not a company giving me access to thousands of e-books, or a travel firm, or fashion house, but a real person. Youpie. I investigated. This person follows some 23k people. That, in itself, is something of an achievement. Where does he find the time? Then, his followers…108k. I had to look again, One hundred and eight thousand followers! My God, who is this guy? Some sort of Mahatma Ghandi, a man of world-renown, the next President?

No. He’s just a guy. From Merseyside. And he’s written a book. And he has 108,000 followers.

What the hell is happening? Am I the only one who thinks all of this as simply some massive con? I think I am. People bombard me with all sorts of put-me-downs after I post such ideas. They lambast me, insult me, tell me I need to wake up, get real, join the real world. Really?

Sometimes, being a lone voice, is kind of deflating, but it can also do wonders for the spirit. Think of how many great men and women have been ridiculed for their views, only to be revered later when people realise the truth of what they said. Crying in the wilderness is actually a good thing. Just because a thousand people tell me I’m wrong doesn’t actually mean I’m wrong.

And then…joy of joys … as if to confirm thing, I receive an email from someone inviting me to be their follower on Twitter. Someone … or something. They ‘sell’ reviews. For a small payment I can purchase ‘good’ reviews.

Now this really got my blood boiling.

I do not want to buy ‘good’ reviews. If I’m going to buy reviews, I want them to be ‘honest’. And I receive an email from Amazon telling me that only when you have received 50 reviews are you going to be taken seriously. Fifty? So, the pressure is on. We have to have that magical number, we have to break through the barrier, get ourselves noticed, win the accolades, the sales, the acceptance. Fifty. And, guess what, Amazon can help. Yes, they really can. You can get onboard and ‘buy’ the required number of sales to be regarded as a best-seller! Just imagine, having that accolade on your book cover. ‘Best-selling author bla-de-bla’ comes to a village hall near you to talk about how wonderful it is to be a star. Famous. Rich. Mm.

I’m being cynical? You think? I know James Joyce did it. He bought 200 copies of Ulysses I think it was, to give away to his friends. That gave him something of a kick-start, but what is being proposed today is very different. As long as you keep spending your money, you can buy your way to success. Well, I’m of the school which believes talent, creativity and the ability to craft a damn good story is of far greater importance. We all need to promote ourselves in the best ways we can, but this buying your way above the masses … Well …

I’m simply and honestly disgusted. This is all a sham. We are living in the era of the biggest publishing con there has ever been, and we all contribute, we all buy into it, even me. Because the pressure is on to sell, sell, sell. Honesty and talent no longer have a place. We must sell, by hook or by crook, and to hell with everything else. Listen to Amazon, if you don’t believe me. Or Bookbaby. It’s easy. Anyone can do it … just keep reaching inside your pockets.

Beam me up. I’ve had enough.

I’m going back to my keyboard, find happiness in the worlds I create, and keep submitting. I believe, in my simple innocence, that good writing will forces its way to the top. People like good stories. They simply need to know I write them, that I exist. But I’m not going to buy my way into the consciousness of prospective readers. Besides, I can’t afford it. So, there has to be another way. Surely.

Thanks for dropping by. You can find out about my books on my website: www.stuartgyates.com. Come along and visit me, pick up a book, enjoy. But whatever you do, keep reading.

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Adventures in writing…advance paying indies?

I’ve become aware recently of a new phenomenon in publishing. If, like me, you are published, you will know how difficult this is. I understand why so many would-be writers become frustrated by endless rejections, but I’m of the belief such things indicate two things … 1, perhaps your work isn’t quite good enough, and 2, you need to try, try, try again. One of the developments in publishing has been the explosion of independent publishers, ones who offer editorial support, marketing advice (many even assist in this), production of e-books and paperbacks, and all the other things the big traditional publishers offer. And all for free. Most, but not all of course, offer very fair royalty rates. Like with everything, it’s best to shop around, visit Predators and Editors, Ralan, and other advisory web-sites. You don’t want to get burned, although even the most careful of us still do! But, what I have discovered lately is the rise of advance paying publishers. This is quite a juicy prospect! Imagine, a publisher having so much faith in your words, they are willing to put their support into pounds, shillings and pence! Okay, some may not be offering the world, but one or two are offering advances against sales in many thousands of dollars. And I say ‘dollars’ because a great many of these publishers are American. I feel this is a tremendous step forward for Indie book publishers. To be given an advance is, in my mind, an affirmation. I think, being honest, I’d consider myself a real writer if I were given an advance. Why not put yourself on the mailing list of ´My Perfect Pitch’, a wonderful site which produces a monthly list of royalty paying publishers from a number of genres. You never know, it could be the start of something big. Good luck.

http://www.myperfectpitch.com gives you lots of advice

www.stuartgyates.com is my website where you can found out all about my published works and where to buy my books. Many thanks for dropping by.

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Adventures in writing … pot pourri!

Bit of a mixed bag this month, so feel free to skim!

They say Twitter is good.

Just who are ‘they’ I hear you ask. Well, experts I suppose. I’m not an expert, so all I can go by is my gut-reaction, my instincts. So, I’m probably wrong, but nevertheless, I just don’t get it.

Okay, so I looked last time at how many followers some of the top authors have and, yes, they have lots. But does it help their sales? This is where I have the problems. I’m not sure who generates all this advice, you see. I suspects they are associates of Twitter, Facebook, Book Baby and Amazon. They are all in each other’s pockets anyway. Any idiot can see that. So, can we trust them?

I’m not sure.

I have just received an email informing me I have a new follower on Twitter. I wonder why, as the person is somebody I have never heard of. Perhaps they have bought one of my books, a new fan? With beating, expectant heart, I checked out their profile.

This person follows around 200 people. And how many follow him? 75,000. Say that back to yourself, slowly. SEVENTY-FIVE THOUSAND! I mean, how does he get the time to even obtain that many followers? And does it actually mean anything? Imagine if every one of those followers went out and bought his book. Imagine! In a flash, he’d be more successful than almost everyone else on the best-sellers list. However, a quick check on Amazon reveals he is not.

So … what is the point?

I don’t know. I’m very cynical. I don’t think it means diddly. I follow more people than I have followers. I’m not sure if I have ever bought anybody’s book from a tweet on Twitter. And I do read. I read a lot. I suppose all of us struggling to make it in this over-loaded world of authors and publishers need to explore every avenue in getting ourselves known. But it’s a long old road and it is very disheartening when I see the sort of thing described appearing on Twitter. I will never have 1,000 followers, let alone 75 thousand of them. Perhaps I should give up and not worry so much.

Well, I’m not giving up writing, that’s for sure. I’m working on a screenplay of one of my books at the moment, but as the gales are roaring through my village, knocking out the electricity every five minutes, I have resorted to using my notebook. It has a battery you see, and can continue when the house is stripped of power. Ah, the joys of living in the dark ages!

I received a post from a friend, about Stephen King’s top 10 best reads.

Here it is: http://www.openculture.com/2014/11/stephen-kings-top-10-all-time-favorite-books.html

It’s really interesting because as a horror/thriller writer you’d expect his list to be peppered with titles from the genres he writes in, but it’s not. You could say, at a push, that 1984, even Bleak house, have scary moments, and ‘Lord of the Flies’ is certainly very dark, but … not your true-blue horror. I guess it all has to do with what you like to read. My interests are very wide.  It got me to thinking about my own top-ten, so I-ll work on that and present it next time. What is yours?

I’ve finished the third in my Hardrada series and will send it off to my lovely publisher soon. Enjoy the first two volumes, both of which receiving super reviews. If you like historical fiction, with plenty of twists and turns, and written at a cracking pace, you’ll enjoy these. Oh, they have Vikings in them, so that can’t be bad!

I have other genres too. Check them out here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss/279-4230230-2335426?url=search-alias%3Ddigital-text&field-keywords=stuart%20g%20yates

Thanks for dropping by, and happy reading.

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Adventures in Writing…a little taste of ‘Whipped Up’

Hi everyone, and I hope you all have a wonderful 2015!

To start things off, my brand new novel, ‘Whipped Up’ is published on the 5th January, so I thought why not give you a taster. So, here it is, and I hope you enjoy it enjoy to rush out and buy the book. It’s a contemporary thriller, with Paul Chaise back in the UK looking for his girlfriend, Linny. But, as he is Paul Chaise, ex-SBS and trained killer, nothing runs smooth as he becomes embroiled with some very nasty people indeed.

whippedup_cover_big

Amazon tends to post the first couple of chapters, so here is some of the action from later in the book…

‘He drove out of town towards Lowestoft, making a turn down a narrow country lane, signposted for Gisleham. At a quiet, deserted spot he pulled over and got out. He checked nobody was around and opened the boot. The shadow seemed in a bad way, with blood trailing from his nostrils, his face chalk white with purple blotches. Without a pause, Chaise took him by the lapels and heaved him into the road. He draped him over his shoulder, carried him to the other side and propped him up against a solid tree in the middle of a copse. He stepped back to have a good look. The force of the blow to his neck had almost taken the man’s head off and a nasty red welt had developed across his throat. He continued breathing, however, so it did not seem he was about to expire. Reassured, Chaise used his tie to lash the shadow’s hands together, returned to the back seat of the rental and rooted inside. He found the bottle, swished it around. Little more than a mouthful of water left, it would have to be enough. He crossed the road again, unscrewed the cap, and threw the contents into the shadow’s face.

It had minimal effect.

Chaise went down on his haunches and picked up little stones, throwing them one at a time at the unconscious shadow. The first few brought no change, but after a dozen or so well-placed strikes on the man’s forehead, he stirred. He coughed, moaned, shook his head and opened his eyes as a final stone struck him in the cheek. He growled, blinked a few times and realised his hands were tied. After a moment or two of fruitless struggling, he focused in on his assailant, recognised Chaise and fell back against the tree with a loud sigh.

“What’s your name?”

A few laboured breaths, eyes closed, head lolling. “Colin.”

“Colin? Pleased to meet you. I’m Paul, but you know that already.” He dangled the snub-nose from a finger stuck through the trigger guard. “Colin, I’m getting a little sick of being tailed now. I’m tired and I’ve got a lot to do, so I’ll get straight to the point. I want you to tell me who you are and who you work for, or I’ll kill you.” Paul smiled, twirled the snub-nose in best Western-roll fashion and pointed it directly towards Colin. “With your own gun.” ’

‘Whipped Up’ is available for a range of e-readers at Smashwords, and on the Kindle at Amazon.

Thanks for reading.

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Adventures in writing … Facebook and Twitter, the way to success?

Random shots … well, it is The Season!

Just finished reading another of those little articles that cause me to stop and think…this one from The Guardian, recounting how publishers are now expecting authors to have Facebook and Twitter accounts, with as many ‘followers’ or ‘friends’ or ‘likes’ or whatever else you want to call it, as they can get.

Okay … you see, I’m always a little cynical about all this, wondering who exactly creates this stuff. A little bit like receiving posts from Book Baby and Kindle glowing with the stories of self-made authors who are making thousands every week. Apparently, this can’t be said for authors signed by major publishers as everyone there is losing money.

Which is why, I suppose, they tell us to get out there and sign up those ‘friends’.

Well … so I did a little research, just to see …

I chose five of my favouirite authors (I have a lot more than five, and this is only a random list)

Here they are, in no particular order.

John Harvey, Mark Billingham, Harlan Coben, Philippa Gregory and C J Sansom.

The results were really interesting.

On Facebook, Mark Billingham has 6.424 likes, C J Sansom 10,726, Philippa Gregory a whopping 129,229 and Harlan Coben an utterly amazing 306,448! John Harvey does not have a Facebook page. Mm …

Okay, on Twitter, the results are somewhat different. These are followers, and I haven’t done ‘following’. Maybe I should, or you could, and let me know. Anyway … John Harvey has 337 (which is less than me, I think!), Philippa Gregory has 13,400, Mark Billingham 16,200 and Harlan is way out in the lead again, with 57,000 followers! C J Sansom doesn’t appear to have a Twitter account, but there a thousands of Tweats about him, which may or may not mean the same thing.

The thing is, of course, these authors don’t seem to have ‘personal’ pages, which is probably a good thing as it keeps their private lives separate from their professional ones, although some of them do share quite a lot of personal stuff other than their writing on their author page, and Twitter accounts. I notice many self-published authors combine their private and author pages into one. I have two, one personal and one for my writing and related news. I have probably gone about this in totally the wrong way, but nobody was here to guide me when I set it all up. And my poor old Twitter account uses my Young Adult author name, which proves I am moron when it comes to social media.

Which, in the final analysis, means I’m not going to be taken seriously by a big publisher.

Great. What a lovely way to end the year.

However, I do take solace in the fact that my very favourite writer, John Harvey, is in exactly the same boat. He has published NINETY books and is internationally regarded as one of the finest thriller writers there is. So, although I see the sense in having all these people following me (wouldn’t it be great, to have 5,000 likes on Facebook, and 15,000 followers on Twitter. Wow, the thought is intoxicating!), I am warmed by the fact that me and John are true soul-mates when it comes to this sort of thing. I don’t know what I’m doing. Perhaps John doesn’t either, but it hasn’t stopped him selling millions of books.

Wonder what my excuse is?

Anyway, lovely people, hope you had a very lovely Christmas and a wonderful New Year. 2015 is going to be YOUR year, don’t forget. As for me, I have a new book, ‘Whipped Up’, the 2nd in the Paul Chaise thriller series, coming out on the 5th January, so please pop over to Smashwords and reserve your copy! For Kindle, it’ll be on Amazon as that beautiful day dawns.

whippedup_cover_big

Thanks in advance

God bless us, everyone!

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