I just tried out another self-publishing experiment – the giveaway competition. This was organised through my publisher Feedaread. You post an extract which people are invited to read and then complete an entry form to win a free copy so it is very simple for people to do. You have to pay the cost of the prizes and postage and you choose how many copies you want to offer as prizes.I chose to run the competition for my new short story collection, Plotlands. I did quite a bit of social media advertising of the competition over a few weeks as the entry period runs for a month. Problem is to reach people without boring them to death with constant bombardment so I tried to stagger posts/tweets etc between different media over time.I was interested to see that each time I posted something, entries resulted, though there wasn’t a huge number of entrants. I also got more views on the page I had created on Facebook specifically for the book and even a few purchases, though whether that was due to the competition or just due to word of mouth/responses to reviews buyers, I don’t know. I enjoyed monitoring the competition and finding out who had won, funnily enough it was won by someone I know, so it was a good job I had nothing to do with the selection, which was done by Feedaread. So although I didn’t get a mega response it was a fun experience and made me feel more connected with potential readers. I’d definitely do it again and am planning to run a comp for my other short story collection in the near future.
Well I’ve been silent on here for a bit but that’s due to lots of stuff going on with publishing and marketing my new book Plotlands, which is a collection of strange short stories set in Wales, and then of course everything stops for the build up to Christmas. I hope everyone had a great Christmas, mine was a good mix of meeting up with friends and family interspersed with days of quiet for rest and reflection (and tidying up of course). Even managed our usual trip out to Blackpool for fish and chips on Boxing Day.
Anyway on to the main business of the book trailer. This has been a new venture for me and has only been made possible by harnessing the techy skills of my brilliant son, Ted Fenlon and his modestly named Kraplaptop productions. He’s made other short music videos in the past and so I floated the idea of producing something promotional for Plotlands. It took quite a while for him to get the graphics right , using the book cover as the main image with accompanying rolling text and the music is his own composition and sounds suitably menacing and eerie.
I’m really pleased with the result and have been flashing it about on various social media sites – just a bit more fun than the usual book blurb. Unfortunately this page doesn’t support video files but if you’re interested you can find it on Youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CoELiTy2qCA
Looking forward to a Happy New Year to writers and readers everywhere and much success in 2017
It’s National Poetry Day and the theme is ‘Light’ so here’s one of my favourites that has stood the test of centuries.
The Sunne Rising
Busie old foole, unruly Sunne,
Why dost thou thus,
Through windowes and through curtaines call on us?
Must to thy motions lovers’ seasons run?
Sawcy pedantique wretch, goe chide
Late schoole boyes and sowr prentices.
Goe tell Court-huntsmen that the King will ride,
Call countrey ants to harvest offices;
Love all alike, no season knowes, nor clime,
Nor hours, days, moneths, which are the rags of time.
Thy beames, so reverend and strong
Why shouldst thou thinke?
I could eclipse and cloud them with a winke,
But that I would not lose her sight so long:
If her eyes have not blinded thine,
Looke, and tomorrow late, tell mee,
Whether both the India’s of spice and Myne
Be where thou lefst them, or lie here with mee.
Aske for those Kings whom thou saw’st yesterday,
And thou shalt heare, All here in one bed lay.
She is all States, and all Princes, I,
Nothing else is.
Princes doe but play us; compar’d to this,
All honour’s mimique, all wealth alchimie.
Thou sunne art half as happy as wee,
In that the world’s contracted thus;
Thine age asks ease, and since thy duties bee
To warme the world, that’s done in warming us.
Shine here to us, and thou art everywhere;
This bed thy centre is, these walls thy spheare.
It’s about six weeks now since I parted company with my agent. My original agent left for another agency and didn’t take me with her as she hadn’t managed to sell my work. Despite several near misses, I got the impression that my books didn’t quite fit the mass market appeal that agents and publishers are looking for.
Obviously agents are only going to deal with fairly large scale publishing houses and because I was under contract to the agency, I couldn’t submit to anyone else. All that’s changed now as once set free, I plunged into a frenzy of submissions which has already resulted in two short story acceptances and a shortlisted entry for a competition http://www.ouenpress.com/9.html. The novels have gone out to a variety of smaller publishers so I’ve got my fingers crossed there.
However, I do miss my agent, mainly for her unwavering support in the face of rejections. Her constant encouragement and belief in my writing kept me going when I felt like throwing in the towel. She also put in a good deal of unpaid work reading and suggesting edits to my manuscripts and I learned a good deal about tailoring my work during the time I was with her.
So, even though I’m enjoying the freedom at the moment, especially being able to write whatever I like in whatever genre and offer it to a variety of publishers without being typecast, I think I may eventually look for another agent. I’m hoping to find joint representation for an autobiography I’m currently ghostwriting and once that’s finished I’ll be taking stock and deciding which road to take next – maybe even dipping a toe into self-publishing waters though that’s something I’ve been afraid to tackle so far.
Last Monday at Skelmersdale Writers Group Gary Skyner, (top left in the picture) Liverpool comedy actor came to speak. I’d been expecting someone who would enlighten me as to the world of comedy writing, something I’ve only occasionally dabbled in and find difficult. But things don’t always turn out to be what you expect. Gary was the second UK baby to be born in the sixties with terrible deformities due to the drug thalidomide. Both his arms lack elbows and he has one short arm and the other is even shorter, with deformities to his fingers also. Despite this he has had numerous jobs and careers, has fought and helped win compensation for thalidomide victims from the drug company who marketed the drug and continues to campaign. He holds a pilot’s licence and is a well known stand up comedian in Liverpool and has appeared many times on national television in both his acting capacity and as a campaigner. Gary’s talk to us, in detailing his own life, focused on doing the best you can and making the effort to achieve and never give up. He didn’t try to teach us how to write but how to approach our work with determination and positive thinking. I came home thinking how the other week I was inspired by meeting Maggie Gee and now my motivation gets another boost from this unexpected quarter. I have been writing well all week as a result so I think it goes to show the value of networking and getting out among other people, not necessarily just writers and it also made me give some thought to encouraging other writers when I am out and about on my travels.