Things you should know about a potential publisher


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


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.


This month’s books

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


Guilt Game – L.J Sellers

Plague: The Tale of Sleeping Beauty – Mark Mackey

Sending a Drunk Text Whilst Sober – Simon Widdop



Newsflash (poem)


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


Drama Llama (poem)


The sign said, stop feeding the drama llama

It’s going to explode

But the people arrived in droves

And offered snacks, main courses

Puddings on giant shovels

Drama Llama ate and ate

But hung around for more

Practically pleading for another bite

Or an ‘are you okay hun?’

But it was never enough

To satisfy the hunger

And the people never learnt

Hungry, hungry it demanded

Posting up images

Fishing for compliments

And they fed it and they fed it with

‘Don’t ever put yourself down.’

‘You’re beautiful.’

‘Such a lovely person.’

And it ate and it ate

All of them up

Demanded and demanded

Until finally it burst

In the faces

Of those who fed it before

So next time

Please obey the sign

Stop feeding the drama llama

Because really

It is going to explode


A new podcast and free or discounted books


First of all I’ve started a new podcast with my partner. We review and discuss books which we’ve read. This month we read Nightmare Realities by Amanda J Evans, Queen and Country by Greg Rucka and Things We Never Said by Nick Alexander.

To find out what we thought of them, check out the podcast.

My other piece of news is that I’m planning to unpublish my novels and novellas (or at least start the process) at the end of this month (January 2018).

That means these books may never see the light of day again, or they may get taken on by a publisher.

I’m running various offers before then. The Kindle versions of some of my books will be free or reduced.

I’ll be posting these offers on my Facebook and Twitter, so like/follow me to find out more.

I woke up in a box – Part 10

This is the final part of my story/poem, but I’ll be starting a new project in a few days.


Suddenly, I’m was lying down on the by then, familiar wooden surface of the box. It was day one starting again, or maybe just another part of hell. I realised that I may have been in hell all along, but hadn’t realised it until then. I knew if things played out as they had on day one, I had a peaceful night sleep ahead of me. I retrieved the cushions and spread them out underneath me, then went to sleep.

When I woke up on the rerun of day two, I knew my options were limited. I had no weapons to do myself in, but I was in box. I used the box as my weapon, knowing I couldn’t keep going through another replay of everything. I figured if I smashed my head against the box hard enough for long enough, I would reach one of two goals; unconsciousness or eternal rest. I don’t know how long it’s been. I’m still there in the box and my head is a bloody pulp, but I’ll keep on trying to bring this nightmare to an end.


Day one starts all over again

This is the part I don’t mind

So I go to sleep

Knowing it will be

The last peaceful night for me


Day two and I wake up in a box

With no weapons and no other options

I repeatedly smash my head against

The inside of this wooden box

Day three never comes for me

I woke up in a box – Part 9

I just want to remind everyone that “After the zombies” is free until 19 July. To find out more


Now, back to my box story/poem.

Here are the usual links to catch up if you’ve missed any










The pain became less noticeable the further I ran across the fiery path of hell. It was still present, but I think that after a while the body must get used to it, if it doesn’t die first. Something was keeping me alive, if alive is the right word to use. I couldn’t help wondering whether the devil did know if I was there. Of course he must have done. I was in his lair. I don’t think anyone gets into the devil’s lair without his knowledge or permission.

The sound of my feet slapping against the ground rang louder in my ears the deeper into hell I went, and the smell of my own burning flesh was nauseating. A chunk of my arm flesh dropped onto the floor, leaving the bone in my arm on display. I carried on running, convinced that even if the devil knew I was there, I could somehow outrun him.


Day seven, I can smell the burning

Of my own flesh and

Hear the slap slap noise

Of my tattered feet

Running through Satan’s lair