Guest Post- Andy N

andy blog pic

 

Although (as discussed on Katy aka the Rebel Poetess blog*) having a breakdown at the age of 21 ultimately led me to becoming a writer, in a sense it taught me to fight for everything I have done in my career. However, going to university certainly was the trigger that pushed me up towards the skies.

I’ve interacted with a lot of writers since leaving, but university was where I learnt to look at my writing in a different way from the almost childish scribblings I was writing before – I’m being honest here. It came at the cost of watching lots of people give up, who in several cases I felt were better writers than me (at least then) including one friend of over twenty years – who I stopped speaking to recently for reasons I won’t go into here.

This gentleman in question is a case in point as he was an exceptional writer at university, but as soon as he left he simply fell out of the habit of writing and couldn’t get back into it when he started again years later. I’ve had moments like that over the years, but not as long. It proved challenging then, which leaves me thinking it would be almost impossible to start again after a such lengthy break as the one mentioned above.

I also recall other people like this gentleman simply gave up when they started receiving strong (sometimes cruel) criticism from tutors. My marks, it has to be said, were average before I reached my third year at university. Sometimes they were not so good, but I kept going.

Now in my case, I certainly can’t admit that I wrote masterpieces at university from 1998 to 200. In my opinion, I wrote some complete rubbish back then, but I kept going. I ended up joining a writing workshop in 2005 in Bolton. After that folded in 2008, I co-formed my own which still runs to this very day in some form or another.

At University however, although I clashed with some of the tutors there over my work, by the time I joined my first writing discussion group in 2005 I understood how to look at my work and others in a logistical way, even though I didn’t think I had learnt that at university.

Looking back at things many years later, perhaps I could have gone on to become the writer and artist I did without going to university. It’s unlikely that would have led to some of the adventures I’ve had though. At university, despite mixed relationships with some of the tutors, I made friends with certain writers, which have stayed with me until this time and taught me more than some of the tutors did. These writers, some of whom I don’t read anymore, set the foundations that what I did after university. I brought out my first book ‘Return to Kemptown’, then my second, ‘The End of Summer’. I literally had dozens of other adventures, all of which wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t had a breakdown, then went to university.

 

*The blog mentioned is: here

Link

 

Andy N is the Author of three full poetry collections (the most recent is ‘The Birth of Autumn’ which was published in 2018) and numerous split poetry books. He is also the creator of the Barbarians of the Wall and Role Reversal series, and the editor and creator of the Spoken Label podcast series. With his partner, he co-hosts the Reading in Bed podcast, which reviews a selection of books each month.

 His official website is: http://onewriterandhispc.blogspot.com

 

 

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Podcasts, a poetry reading in Bolton and a chance to win my book

kindle cover

Firstly, Andy and I were guests on Welcome to Bolton, which you can listen to here.

https://overcast.fm/+Mmf0m1iKk

Now, because I’m awkward, a lot has changed since the podcast was recorded. My book “While I was gone” is now called “Lost and Found: Part 1″ and is under the pen name “Aleesha Black”. The link to it is here.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Lost-Found-Part-Aleesha-Black-ebook/dp/B07DY26Q72/

I will still be reading at The Wigan Diggers warm up bash in Bolton, but not from my book. Although, if you do want to hear me reading the first chapter, it is available at the link below. This was recorded back in May from the previous version, and I struggled in parts due to the words hanging off the pages, but the story is generally the same now, with the exception of improved editing and formatting in the new version.

http://www.podcastgarden.com/episode/amanda-steel-while-i-was-gone_128182

Finally, if you are in the UK you can enter to win a copy of Lost and Found: Part 1. All you need to do is go to my book trailer on Facebook and share it. One winner will be picked after the closing date of 1st September 2018

https://www.facebook.com/AmandaSteelWriter/videos/1833528343622063/

 

Things you should know about a potential publisher

questions

Traditional publishing can come with risks. I was going to write a post about the different things to look out for before jumping into a publishing contract. The main thing comes down to questioning everything though. Sometimes you need to be asking the publisher questions you may have. Other times you need to be looking for certain information yourself.

It’s a common rite of passage for most authors to receive tons of rejections before finally being accepted. It’s easy to mistake that first acceptance for a sign you’ve finally made it, but that is usually just the beginning. You’ve worked hard on your book and that is your time, which is worth just as much as anyone else’s. Don’t be dragged into the common belief that it’s just writing and it’s not like proper work. It may not be sixty hours a week carrying up to 15kg in a warehouse, but as enjoyable as writing can be, it is work. You don’t want to just throw all your hard work away.

I’m not suggesting you treat your new potential publisher like they are lying about everything. I believe in giving people the benefit of the doubt until I see something to make me think otherwise. It’s okay to look into their history before signing a contract though. Have there been any previous problems? Why? And if you see a term you don’t understand at first, look it up. That’s what Google is for. If you have friends with different areas of expertise who can help you understand something, ask for their help. It you don’t know anyone who can help, there are usually places where you can get free advice. Again, use Google to search for this help.

Another useful thing to know is how many other authors are signed with them? If it’s a small number, that means more chance of them giving your book the attention it deserves. If it’s high and the publishing experience resembles an author production line, then it will be difficult, if not impossible for the publisher to ensure that every book is properly formatted, edited and marketed in the way it needs to be to stand any chance of success.

The next thing to do to is check out other books published by your potential publisher. This doesn’t have to involve spending money. Amazon allows a free sample to be read on many of the books. What you’re looking for here are any errors or formatting issues. That could suggest that your book will be badly edited in the same way.

A question you can ask, is if you sign on the dotted line, will you be sent a proof copy to look through? In this digital age, a word document may be the fastest way to look through and approve your edits. However, if you haven’t seen a print version, you won’t know how it actually looks in print, or if there are errors in the blurb for example. The chances are, if a potential reader picks up a book, flicks through it and spots one of these errors somewhere, they won’t care how good the story is and will leave without buying your book. If they purchase the book online and find the errors after receiving it, they will probably remember you (not the publisher) for the wrong reasons.

Ask about Marketing: you usually have to do some, most or all. It’s rare you don’t have to do any at all. However, you want to make sure your book is going to be widely available before you start spending time and money on marketing, or you try to gain exposure by entering the book for awards. You can only market something or win an award if it’s readily available. So, you need to ensure the book isn’t going to become unavailable in any format for an extensive period of time. The more difficult it is to get hold of, the more likely your potential readers will buy someone else’s book instead.

Assuming your book is marketed, easily available to buy, published without errors etc; how can you be sure about the sales figures? The short answer is, you can’t. The tracking sites that I’ve found only track certain sources and some charge for this service. I think you can lessen the risk of being ripped off by following my earlier advice to research the publisher beforehand.

This article isn’t designed to put anyone off traditional publishing; just to make people aware of the things that can go wrong if you jump in blindly. Please feel free to add your own advice in the comments.

 

Reading in Bed episode 5

RIB5

Episode 5 of Reading in Bed is now here.

This month we reviewed poetry and fiction.

We discussed mixing fairy-tales with zombies, and I talked about a book I hated and why. As (possibly) the last two people on the planet who hadn’t read The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, Andy and I both read and reviewed the book. You’ll have to listen to hear our thoughts on the book though, or to find out about the reply I had on Twitter from the author.

See the list of books and the podcast below.

Remember, if you are a writer we may be interested in reviewing your book. We just ask for a free copy, either in print or as a PDF. We can’t promise to feature all books received on the podcast. If for whatever reason we can’t fit yours in, we will write a review on Amazon (or another platform if you prefer).

Contact me through my website.

http://amandasteelwriter.simplesite.com/439723719

 

This month’s books

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon

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Guilt Game – L.J Sellers

Plague: The Tale of Sleeping Beauty – Mark Mackey

Sending a Drunk Text Whilst Sober – Simon Widdop

 

 

Here is my interview with Amanda Steel

authorsinterviews

Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.

 

Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name.

Amanda Steel

What is your age?

38

Fiona: Where are you from?

Manchester, UK

Fiona: A little about your self (ie,  your education, family life, etc.).

I left school before without taking my exams, but returned to education in my early thirties when I signed up to do my degree through The Open University. I’m now studying towards my Masters degree in Creative Writing

Fiona: Tell us your latest news.

My book “While I was Gone” has been published on Kindle and in paperback.

Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?

I’ve always written since I was child. I used to write short stories and as a teenager, I wrote depressing song lyrics for the band I was in. It didn’t work out…

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Baa Baa Zombie Sheep (poem)

 

zombie sheep

Baa, baa, zombie sheep

Have you any juicy brains?

Yes, sir, yes, sir

Three juicy brains

One was the master’s

And one was the dame’s

And one was the little boy’s

Who lived down the lane

None of them live anywhere now

Since I took their brains

For us to have for dinner tonight

But A zombie sheep needs to eat

Newsflash (poem)

dinosaur

Woman gives birth to dinosaur

Headline worthy news

For Facebook, Twitter and blogs everywhere

How did it happen?

Where did she meet the father?

And how did all the pieces fit together?

Were both parties drunk?

Maybe she was desperate

And he was a bit of dinosaur

Either way, I bet she’s sore now

Unless she only had to push out a Microraptor

Wait, no, I read it wrong

Woman gives birth to baby

Well that’s boring

Women give birth to babies all the time