Archive for May, 2012

Unnatural WorldMan, that’s a long-ass title for this post, eh? And pretty much says exactly what needs to be said. Except for the fact that the mag is being edited by the excellent Allen Ashley (who fact-fans will remember was the editor of the fantastic Where are we Going? anthology, published by Eibnovale Press earlier this year.)

So this is a happy double for me, and I’m delighted to be involved. And also sorry that that last quote makes me sound like a footballer who’s just signed a contract for his boyhood club. Or words to that effect.

Anyway, check out Sein und Werden by visiting their website here.

Full purchase details can also be found on that page. As can details of the release date (expected Summer 2012… If we ever have a summer!)

sein und werden

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I’m absolutely proud to be able to introduce this latest in my series of guest blogs, and, back by popular demand, we’ve got Kay Green. And I have to say, I’m feeling Kay’s passion, and frustration here. Passion. Rage. Changing things. It’s what writing’s all about. Or should be.

Andy

Kay Green is editor at www.circaidygregory.co.uk You can order Circaidy Gregory paperbacks and ebooks from Hive Network stores. Find a store near you: http://www.hive.co.uk/store-locator/

Vanity Publishing

That phrase, ‘Vanity Publishing’…

Every time I hear that phrase, ‘vanity publishing’ I get into an argument. Is it vanity that makes an author want their work to be read? If it is, every single one of us is vanity published. The original meaning of the phrase is nothing to do with casting aspersions on authors’ motives. It means publishing ‘in vain’ – in a manner that can’t possibly work.

I also regularly get into arguments when someone says their book is ‘self-published’ and five minutes later says ‘my publisher charges £250 for…’ If you are ‘self-published’, how come you have a publisher? Do you see all those commercial sites out there that offer ‘self-publishing services’ at a price, then contract their clients and charge them every time they lift a finger on behalf of the book in question?

If your book has a press or company’s name written on the front or on the copyright page, or if they have put their own ISBN on it, they are the publisher. When they say ‘self-publishing service’ they mean ‘we publish, you pay.’ That means, they earn their money by charging the authors; and that means they are not particularly motivated to make the book sell. Their wages are already paid even if it never sells a copy.

So if your publisher is a commercial concern and they have no need to market your book in order to survive, I suggest your book is not going to sell unless you personally have a serious marketing plan. If you have not, then not much will happen – worse yet, if the book’s contracted to them, you may not be allowed to sell it yourself. Or if you are, you may be obliged to give them a chunk of the proceeds – you’ve published in vain.

There is an infuriating vocabulary problem here. How do I describe a publisher who is making their money out of authors rather than selling books? A commercial publisher? But the big corporate houses are commercial, and they are the ones everyone craves contracts with in order to be taken seriously. Should I call them ‘trade’ publishers? No, because in the USA, that means mainstream contract publishing. No wonder everyone’s confused!

Let’s start at the other end. A self-published author is one who writes a book and arranges to have it edited and proof read, either by agreement with friends and colleagues or by hiring a freelance editor. They then buy an ISBN, create or commission cover art and design, compile the book into print-ready files or hire a graphic designer to do so, then go to a printer for a quote and get their book produced. The resulting boxes of books belong to the author – and probably arrive in a pile on the author’s doorstep, to be stored in the back bedroom.

There are lots of modern ways of getting round that last bit. You can use POD (print-on-demand) printers to keep your spare bedroom clear, or publish in ebook form with a company like Smashwords. It’s not entirely clear who is the publisher when you do this – a lot of ebook creators put their own ISBNs on books and sell them direct through their own stores, paying the author a royalty. So as with many other areas of modern life, technology is blurring boundaries. Confusion over who is ‘self-published’ is understandable but ‘vanity’ is still clear, isn’t it?

Imagine a person who’s been turned down by a dozen publishers and got fed up of trying. They then go to a few freelance proof-editors for quotes and balk at their prices, because they don’t realise what an editor does and how long it takes. They don’t have the time or the business acumen to handle printers, designers and distributors themselves, so they buy a ‘self-publishing package’ from a company. If they choose a responsible company, oversee all those jobs and make a comprehensive marketing plan for themselves, they may sell enough to get their money back. But I have already said that my imaginary author doesn’t have much business acumen, so this can’t work. It’s in vain. Vanity.

Very occasionally, an author makes a good profit from a ‘self-publishing package’ book. Those who do are usually local history writers supplying, for example, National Trust shops. They probably do have a flare for marketing and business – or have picked it up along the way. Generally, having seen one book succeed that way, such authors ‘go it alone’ the second time, dump the ‘package’ company and use their own ISBNs. Thus a true self-published author is born. It’s worked. Not in vain, not vanity.

Small press is something else. It’s like mainstream publishing but smaller. Advances are small or non-existent. Royalties, as a percentage, are equal to or greater than those offered by mainstream publishers. Where margins allow it, small presses give a larger percentage to compensate the author for the fact that the book will probably sell in hundreds rather than thousands or millions. Sales and marketing reach is probably smaller and the final outcome for the author might be smaller – not necessarily though. You don’t get to hear about the legions of mainstream published authors whose books go nowhere and earn nothing, but they are the majority. If you’re mainstream published and your publisher just doesn’t get around to marketing your book, it’s all been in vain. Not your fault, but still vanity.

I’m a small press publisher. I expect my authors to help me market and promote the books. Usually, all I’m asking is time and sweat but I’m not above sharing the cost of anything if the author wants to do something I can’t afford, and I believe it will work. I can’t afford to put posters in the changing rooms in groovy national stores, I can’t afford adverts on railway station hoardings. There have been times when I couldn’t afford a box of bookmarks. Some people say this makes me a vanity publisher. When they do, I point to the fact that mainstream publishers don’t do any of those things for most of their authors and they most definitely DO pressure authors to run events and promotions.

Seven years down the line, I have finally decided to be boringly normal and have made a deal with a distributor but I still have difficulty persuading some shops that our books are ‘real’. I have an author on my books who also has titles high on the sales sheets of a mainstream publisher. When we do events, and I see the different treatment and level of promotion shops give her mainstream titles and the way they react to ours, I feel like throwing a tantrum. The books are by the same author, edited and produced with the same care, and similarly priced. When her readers get their hands on them, they like them all but small press and self-published titles will never reach as many readers as the mainstream ones do if shops won’t give them the same exposure. This is largely because people who haven’t looked closely confuse small press and self-published with unedited, ‘vanity’ titles and assume they are inferior.

Sometimes I feel as if it’s all in vain. Heck! Does that make me a vanity publisher? No – because I’m stubborn and I never give up on a good book. If I’m still breathing, I’m still working to get that book read and get some reward to the author… Also, I can’t afford to give up. Big, corporate houses can publish ten titles to test the water and go with the one that works. Small presses need to get their money back on every title. So who has most ‘all in vain’ titles on their lists?

I think ‘vanity publishing’ is probably the most troublesome phrase in the whole of the English language, followed in second place by ‘self-publishing company’. Here’s my recommended path through the maze. Remember these key points:

If you contract your work to a publisher or ‘self-publishing service’ or worse, if you pay someone to handle your book without getting any form of contract, ask yourself first what you are getting in return, and second, how that company is earning their money. If they are paid by authors, they will thrive, even if the books don’t sell. By contrast, reputable publishers often don’t make much money but you can see them out there seriously trying to make the books make money.

Mainstream and small press publishers often appear to be mean and nasty. It’s because the way to find the good book is often to puncture a lot of would-be writers’ dreams by saying ‘no, this isn’t a good book’ or ‘possibly, but I want these 500 changes’ or even ‘argh, help, help, no I can’t read your novel right now, my overdraft’s blown my reading pile over!’

Commercial companies are there to make a profit. They may also have artistic and literary interests but they are there to make a profit. In publishing, the easiest way to make a profit is to take money from rich dreamers who want to see a book with their name on it. If you get the feeling a publisher is being all chummy and seducing you, ask yourself whether they are lusting after your wallet rather than your book.

PodcastYou might remember that my story ‘I Dream of Violence’ appeared on Morgen Bailey’s Flash Fiction Friday recently (last Friday, to be exact).

Well, now it’s been recorded as a downloadable podcast which you can listen to on all your fancy-schmancy devices. The recording’s just gone live now and if you’d like to listen, the direct link is below:

For further info, go here: http://morgenbailey.wordpress.com. It’s the home of author interviews, spotlights, guest blogs, flash fiction, poetry and much more… including Morgen’s eBooks!

Also, for those that are interested, Morgen runs an excellent service for writers which includes: Blog creation / maintenance for, but not limited to, writers from £50/€60/$75. Take a peek at her dedicated site, here:  http://icanbuildyourwritingblog.wordpress.com

A big day for me on Amazon today, what with big news about two of my stories which are for sale on the site, one of which was newly released over the weekend, and another which, for a limited time only is available to download for free. So why don’t you help get both of them riding high in the charts? It’ll be your good deed for the day.

The freebie first.  My novelette/ long short story, ‘Bed Peace’, is, for the next four days, FREE!

“Tragic and funny, Bed Peace examines what and who we are, rather than what and who we want to be. Quite simply, it is excellent.” Anna Stephens, Hub Pages Review.

It’s a story which draws on John and Yoko, the Amsterdam Hilton, Harvey Nicks in Leeds, and shoplifting, as its inspiration. And you can get your hands on a FREE copy by going here.

 

And now on to my new release, which is already riding high in the Fantasy Short Stories charts. ‘Ace Cameron and the Red Peril‘ is a dark (very dark) comedy which lampoons, well, quite a lot. You can buy it here, and here’s the teaser…

Leeds Angeles, 2019:

It is the best of times and the worst of times. The gap between rich and poor has never been greater. The rich live in gated communities out in the countryside, living the cosseted lives they deserve because they’ve been bred that way.

The Dickensian poor have been allowed to remain in the cities, but the cities are not comfortable places. They’ve been left to stagnate into a state of managed decline. Buildings and hopes are collapsing. Perimeter fencing, curfews and sheer poverty are the only things which have kept the peasants from revolting, until now…

Now something is changing. The Reds, led by a sinister man known only as X, have infiltrated the city and are polluting the minds of the citizens.
Ace Cameron, a bounty hunter extraordinaire from the old, bold days, has been brought back from retirement, back into the loop… Back from the dead, some of his colleagues say.

Only Ace has the wherewithal and classical training, the ruddy chutzpah, to be able to face up to X.

A battle for the souls of humanity will come to pass…

My flash story ‘Your Bushy Moustache’ has been accepted for publication in the inaugural issue of Big Eyes, a new literary magazine venture from Katie Metcalfe, the creative genius behind Beautiful Scruffiness magazine. Watch this space for more details, and other eye-related puns. Or hairy, moustache-related humour.

I’m a big fan of lists and charts. Always have been, as anyone who has followed my (somewhat ridiculous) ‘Andy’ Short Story Awards over the past few years, and my slavish devotion to the Amazon charts, and my position within them (and subsequent blogs), will attest. So, as you’ll expect, I’m absolutely delighted to be able to welcome my fellow Solstice Publishing author J.L Petty on board, with this fantastic guest blog piece on the best book-to-movie adaptations.

Of course, this list is J.L Petty’s list, andyouropinions may differ wildly, but it’s all about opinions, isn’t it? So why not leave a comment, and get the debate going. You know you want to.

Thanks to J.L Petty for this great debate-stimulating post.

Andy

J.L Petty

All authors dream of their book or story being adapted into film. I know I do every day. I wish some Hollywood director would read “Death and the Journalist” and call me offering the opportunity of a lifetime to make it a movie.  I’m still holding my breath on that one- Anyway, whenever I see a great movie, 9 times out of 10 it was based on a novel that I’ve never read or even heard of.  By all means, this is not a list, of the greatest movies based on books- however they are the most popular film adaptations based on classic literature. I felt I needed to share this with the world because some of these movies that made the list, I didn’t even know were based off novels or short stories. So, enjoy!

1.    The Hunger Games: An adult novel written by Suzanne Collins
2.    Twilight: A young-adult novel written by Stephanie Myers
3.    Harry Potter:  A series of fantasy novels written by J.K. Rowling
4.    Jurassic Park:  A novel written by Michael Crichton
5.    Gone with the Wind: A romance novel by Margaret Mitchell
6.    The Wizard of Oz:  A book by L. Frank Baum
7.    Forrest Gump:  A novel by Winston Groom
8.    Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: A children’s book by Roald Dahl
9.    To Kill A Mockingbird:  A novel by Harper Lee
10.    The Shining:  A novel by Stephen King
11.    The Color Purple: A novel by Alice Walker
12.    The Silence of the Lambs: A novel by Thomas Harris
13.    Lord of the Rings: A novel written by J.R.R. Tolkien
14.    The Chronicles of Narnia: Novels by C.S. Lewis
15.    I Am Legend: A novel by Richard Matheson
16.    Jumanji:  A short story by Chris Van Allsbrug
17.    The girl with the dragon tattoo:  A novel written by Stieg Larsson
18.    The Notebook: A novel written by Nicholas Sparks
19.    The Fly:  A short story by George Langelaan
20.    Diary of a Wimpy Kid: A book written by Jeff Kinney
21.    Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightening Thief:  A novel written by Rick Riordan
22.    The Princes Bride:  A novel written by William Goldman
23.    Jaws:  A novel written by Peter Benchley
24.    Psycho: A novel written  by Robert Bloch
25.    Rambo:  Originally named “First Blood”, a novel  written by David Morrell
26.    Who Framed Roger Rabbit? : Originally named ” Who censored Roger Rabbit?” , a novel written by Gary K.Wolf
27.    Planet of the Apes: A novel by Pierre Boulle
28.    Die Hard: Originally named ” Nothing Lasts Forever, ” A novel written by Roderick Thorp
29.    The Davinci Code:  A novel by Dan Brown
30.    The Lord of the Rings:  A novel written by J.R.R Tolkien
31.    The Help:  A novel written by Kathryn Scott
32.    Fried Green Tomatoes:  A novel written by Fannie Flagg
33.    The Princess Diaries:  A series of novels by Meg Cabot
34.    Dracula: A novel written by Bram Stoker
35.    Interview with the Vampire: A novel written by Anne Rice
36.    American Psycho:  A novel written by Brett Easton Ellis
37.    Pride and Prejudice: A novel written by Jane Austen
38.    Clueless:  Based off of the novel  based on Jane Austen’s Emma
39.    Mean Girls:  Originally named “Queen Bees and Wannabes “, A novel written by Rosalind  Wiseman
40.    Carrie:  A novel written by Stephen King
41.    The Witches: A novel written by Roald Dahl
42.    Eat, Pray, Love: A novel written by Elizabeth Gilbert
43.    The Amityville Horror: A novel written by Jan Anson
44.    The Exorcist: A novel written by William Peter Blatty
45.    Rosemary’s Baby: A novel written by Ira Levine
46.    Where the Heart is: A novel written by Billie Letts

Death and the JournalistJ.L Petty
Author, Death and the Journalist
http://www.deathandthejournalist.com

Book Excerpt:

The flight attendant faced the passengers. Over the roar of the engine, she spoke in a firm voice with a hint of quiver, “We are going to be okay, please put your oxygen masks on,” then she sat down and buckled her seat belt. The fat man and I were still standing. Grimacing at my cramping hands, I kept my grip on the black metal bar.
In the midst of the now-panicked passengers sat one woman, calmly flipping the pages of her Cosmopolitan magazine and taking occasional sips of her Pepsi. She seemed so calm and serene; I couldn’t take my eyes off her. She had long black hair and her face was like that of a fashion model or actress. She was wearing a black dress and needed no jewelry to define her long ivory-colored neck. This woman had the whitest skin. Her limbs were long. She seemed to ignore everything around her and was patiently waiting for the plane to crash.
As though she felt me staring at her, she turned to look at me. Gooseflesh popped up all over my skin when I looked into her cold gray eyes, then shifted my eyes to the ground. I could smell the heavy smoke rising from the engines I stared at the rain drops that splattered against the exit window. Smoke drifted into the cabin of the plane.