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.
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.
Last week’s novel writing went quite well, around 5000 words done, which is not a great deal but I had a lot of revision to do on the earlier stuff so overall I was pleased with the place I am at. After a weekend away I planned to get stuck in as my diary was pretty empty but it just didn’t work out like that. One example of a disastrous day – 7.00 am had to get up early to collect some items I’d bought in order to get back home in time to make an appointment with a friend who was coming to buy a copy of my book. Writing session planned for after this. 10.00 am Friend did not turn up on time so waited till 11.00am then picked up pen and paper. 11.30am, partner decides to give lawn long overdue haircut. 11.40am. Loud swearing and shouting from garden as lawnmower refuses to start disrupts creative thought process. 11.50am Partner succeeds in getting mower to start but is now in bad temper, running round garden with it effing and blinding. Decide to make lunch instead and start writing afterwards. 11.55am Friend arrives to buy book while partner and I are having screaming row about lawnmowers and failure to respect creativity. 12.00 midday, I am in middle of making friend cup of tea when partner slices three fingers in lawnmower blades. 12.10pm persuade partner to go to hospital and not stick fingers together with sellotape while mopping up blood from kitchen and putting burned lunch in bin. 12.15, usher traumatised friend out of house, put partner in car and drive to minor injuries unit, still venting rage at not getting my writing fix, I mean who on earth puts their fingers in the blades of a running lawnmower? 1.30pm return from hospital with well bandaged and steristripped partner, make lunch and repair to library to get some peace. 2.30pm Get involved in chatting to knit and natter group in library and extensive search for Bruce Chatwin’s ‘On a Black Hill’, which is eventually found in the cellar archive. 3.45pm Arrive home with pen still unused and find dog crossing its legs, waiting for long ramble. 5.00pm Collapse on couch for well earned cup of coffee. 6.00pm After having to perform various tasks for partner which his injured fingers will not allow him to do, spend an hour answering emails and trying to put a link to another site on my website, which my webcreator is determined not to do. 7pm. Make supper. 8pm Give up all thoughts of writing and spend the rest of the evening knitting a teacosy to calm shredded nerves. Partner is looking on teletext for a winter sun holiday. I’m seriously thinking of going alone, just me and my pen.