Thursday, October 11, 2007

A strange letter from an even stranger woman !

I had a rather strange letter waiting for me this evening after I got home from the National Trust. It was obviously from a local lady, since she gives reference at the end of her letter to the village newsletter, of which I am the new editor. She somewhat frustratingly says that I need to do something about the bad quality of the pictures that are printed in the magazine - and then goes on to say that she knows several people in the village who are fed up with the 'grey splodges' that pass for pictures in which they cannot recognise themselves or others. I feel desperately sad for such people who for reasons best known to themselves, feel unable to contact me directly and discuss these things in person. If they would do so they would find that I am actually quite approachable and open to comments and suggestions, providing they are constructive and not made in an underhand and sarcastic manner as this lady has done. She did not even include contact details, so I have no way of getting back to her regarding this. I am at a loss then as to what she expects me to do !

The best part of her letter though is spent rubbishing my book - a book which she presumably won a copy of at the Village Fair, since it is clear from what she says that the issue she recently finished reading was the first edition. I have always maintained that people do not respect or value anything that is free, and in this case it seems that I was right.

She basically though says that my book is a deluded fantasy and I should not make wild claims about it being the answer to life, the universe and everything in between. She obviously did not read the quote from the Buddha on the opening page, which reads:

Do not believe anything
because it is said by an authority
or if it is said to come from angels,
or from gods,
or from an inspired source.

Believe it only if you have
explored it
in your own heart
and mind and body
and found it to be true.

Work out your own path,
through diligence.

Gauatama Buddha

As this is telling people that they need to use discernment and not take my words as fact unless if feels right to them to do so.

I have obviously though struck a chord with this lady, whoever she is, for her to get so upset, as in my experience people only get like this when they are being challenged. I know from my own experiences that I only get upset like this when I know that there is more than a grain of truth in what the person who has pressed my buttons has written and/or said, and I don't wish to admit that my views may have been misguided. People never like to admit this, as it is human nature, but it does not mean that we have to write them rude letters and hide behind anonymity in the process so that we cannot ourselves be challenged. This is the mark of a coward and someone who is not secure in their own beliefs to begin with.

She says that it goes without saying that we should care for one another and that that conclusion comes from common sense and not the phantasmagorical beliefs that I espouse. She then says that the 'cults' and the stuff that I and my 'Icke minded friends' evangelise has seldom if ever been proved right. I don't know where she gets off saying stuff like this, and it becomes clear that even though she may have read my book, she did not understand one word of it! I have great respect for David Icke, as he is so passionate about what he believes and truly walks his talk, but nowhere in my book do I say that I agree with him .... Actually a lot of his beliefs are way too fear based for my liking, even though as I say, I have great admiration for him as a soul and as a human being.

This woman though is just too sarcastic and I fail to see the point in comments such as 'I wish you well and I hope you sell lots of books and crystals and find them a good little earner, after all someone has to pay the rent'. Like I say, no respect for something that is free, and no respect for someone who does not share her views.

Now I have got that off my chest, I will go and burn her letter, it's the best thing for it!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Virtual Book Tour coming soon ...

I have been trying to think up new ways of generating publicity these past few days, observing that the main arena through which self published books are sold still seems to be the internet. The reasons for this are chiefly the fact that in the main, book stores are reluctant to stock such titles -especially when they are POD. This is of course due to the high print costs which make it difficult to offer high discounts or returnability. The situation is, from what I understand, far worse in North America that it is here in the UK, where we are somewhat more progressive. The standards of such books though also seem to be a lot higher, and maybe this makes a difference.

I am of course one of the lucky ones who has managed to get round this problem by persuading her editor to ask the wholesaler to take her book on better terms. While it is beginning to pay dividends and the book is now starting to sell, albeit rather slowly, it is not by itself enough, and I need to continually search for new and different ways to market my product.

I have noticed in the past few weeks that an increasing number of self published authors are doing what are referred to as 'virtual book tours', wherby the book is mentioned on a variety of usually blog sites, where the author is typcially asked a list of standard questions, and the author then places links back to these sites from their own. Most of these sites are though in America, and deal exclusively with American books. I have though been mentioned on quite a few other sites now - Wrinkly Writers and Grumpy Old Bookman to name just two, and this compared with the reviews that I have had and my upcoming feature in Writers News means that I have started to put together my own virtual book tour, which will be coming to a website very near you quite soon. Watch this space.

On another more personal note, the price list for Lundy for 2008 arrived this morning, and I am pleased to see that I shall be sailing once again this summer from Bideford. Even better than that is the fact that I shall be returning back to the same port 2 weeks later. This means then that I shall once again be able to stay with my very good friends John and Mary in The Red House, just outside Barnstaple.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

More Idiotic Managers - grrrr !!

It is unusual for me to post more than once a day on this blog site, but I just have to get this off my chest so here goes ! While the highs far outweigh the lows and I still stand by what I wrote this morning with regard to the advantages and disadvantages of POD, I am fed up with idiotic book store managers who do not understand how it works and just fob you off with a load of old rubbish - if they are not interested in my book and don't want to talk to authors direct then why the hell don't they a) go and get another job where they don't have to do that or b) develop an ultra thick skin and just learn to tell the aforementioned authors the truth ...

What they do instead is make up all kinds of stupid and unsubstantiated reasons as to why they will not order and string you along with words such as 'I will look it up on the Internet to find out more', 'or it sounds interesting, but I will pass it through to the relevant section manager so that they can decide'. Either way they are abdicating responsibility.

Hello - YOU are the manager, you can make a decision for yourself, and you are allowed to say no. I won't cry and curl up into a little ball and die just because of one rejection. I will though develop a violent headache from talking to idiots like you who won't say what they mean, and I will also run a huge phone bill in the process.

I don't understand why I get such variations in attitude though - almost 60 stores have ordered copies now, and they are starting to sell - this I know for a fact as the stores themselves have told me this. The book is also getting press coverage and some excellent reviews. The mere fact that it is a POD book available on sale or return should I think speak volumes by itself, as although there are others available on such terms, it is still very unusual, despite what certain others on websites who shall remain nameless try and tell you. This is what I mean when I say that self published authors have to work ten times harder - we have no one to help us other than ourselves and that means bloody hard work.

I made a list the other day of all the roles that I have to fulfil myself and stopped when I got to about 1o of them. These include editor, proof reader, indexer, website designer, telemarketer, accountant, publicist, advertising copywriter, secretary, agent, researcher and general dogsbody! I seem to spend much more of my time in the last role than any of the others put together.

Still, it is worth it all though when you do get the successes. It is just that writing is such a solitary occupation, and we do not tend to network that much among ourselves. Sure there are the discussion sites where you can let off steam, but they are mostly American based. It is not quite the same as going out for a cup of tea with friends, where you talk to each other face to face, swap ideas, bang heads and in the process have a good laugh. Perhaps I will advertise in the newsletter I edit for other authors around the area to contact me and form such a group. We could really help each other and have some great laughs along the way.

This time though is was yet another branch of Waterstones that was acting like an idiot. I won't name and shame the store involved (it was somewhere in Kent), as there is not a lot of point. Suffice to say that he too shall be receiving a call from the independent author advisor in due course to put him straight on certain things.

The gist of the conversation was though that he would not be ordering, as it was too difficult to send the books back. Nice, as straight away he was assuming that they wouldn't sell - yee of little faith. We don't have an agreement with Authors OnLine" I was told. You don't need one" I replied "the books are available as a stocked item from Gardners, you order through them in the usual way". "It is too difficult to send them back" he then said "and there is too much paperwork". I went on to say that I was very surprised to hear him say that, since the 300 odd other stores I have spoken to did not say that at all, but quite the opposite in fact!

I think this one though is a lost cause to be honest, as well, he wasn't a very honest man, but was basically just looking for an excuse to say no without actually saying no. Oh well, his stuff I suppose, and for him as always to deal with. Will make some more calls tomorrow then - including one to Justin at the Waterstones Head Office!

In the meantime, thank goodness for Coran's new drum - they really are an excellent way to work out your frustrations (along with rubber baseball bats and settees!).

Print on Demand - pros and cons

Following some interesting comments made by various members of the Writers News forum I have decided to make a list of pros and cons with regard to POD which will be added to my article Print on Demand - Is Vanity Fair?

Admittedly as a POD author I may be slightly biased in favour of it, but when I look at this list, there are definately more pros than cons. Read it though and judge for yourselves.


POD stigma – this applies more to the US though than the UK, where things are rapidly changing.
Author has to cover costs.
Low discounts and lack of sale or return mean that book stores are less likely to stock.
No sales representation – author has to work hard at marketing their own books.
Relatively high print costs giving less scope for negotiation with discounts etc.
Time consuming.
POD cannot accommodate the sending of review copies six months ahead of publication – unless you delay your launch and use initial copies for these purposes.
The POD author cannot get access to their sales data – since they are not the publisher.
Huge learning curve and not for the faint hearted.
No guarantees that the book will sell.


Excellent way to test the market and prove those agents/publishers wrong who rejected your work.
No agent/publisher in their right mind would reject a successfully self published book - such an author is then able to negotiate better terms.
Minimise the risk by printing copies in short runs or as they are ordered.
Books are never out of print – provided you pay your annual fee.
POD books have a greater window of opportunity in which to be sold – commercially published books have at the most 6 months to a year.
Easy and inexpensive to change cover and/or text.
No books to store. Author does not have to deal with orders/fulfilment themselves since these are filtered through the wholesaler.
Speed of delivery – average commercially published takes 18 months to see print, with POD this is shortened to 3 months.
Higher royalties.
Greater creative control.
Eco friendly.
The author knows that any successes are entirely due tot their own efforts.
Wonderful way to make friends and influence people.
Learn lots of new transferable skills.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Watch and learn

I am really missing my beloved Lundy at the moment, and regretting that there do not appear to be any vacancies now until the New Year. Actually that is not strictly true, as I believe there is a week free towards the end of November, but it is the week that I need to leave free for putting the December/January edition of the village newsletter together. Such is life.

I just seem to be a bit ungrounded of late - too much computer work, as always. When Coran and I moved here just before Christmas, we thought we would be spending a lot more time outdoors walking around the locality, but both of our work seems to have taken off, plus my fear of dogs also plays a part. That is in fact the only thing that I do not enjoy about being up here - that and the dark winter nights, and that I will get used to again anyway once the clocks change.

October though looks like a busy month for me, I don't have a weekend free in fact until the 2nd week of November now. My astrology course is taking up 2 weekends - on the 6th (just gone) and 27th, then on 13th (this weekend) I have a trip to St Neots in Cambridgeshire for the Authors OnLine 10th anniversary do. I am thoroughly looking forward to this as it a chance to finally get to meet everyone and sneak a peek at Paul's famous little black book, which contains all his contacts. I hope I can manage to persuade him to give me the direct line to the buyers at Borders, since I keep getting is the answerphone and they never return my calls. I know they are busy people, but so am I, and if they would just talk to me, it would actually save both of us a hell of a lot of time.

On 20th October I have the long awaited book signing in Waterstones in Staines, and then Coran and I are off to Glastonbury for the 2nd, 3rd and 4th of November. I had been intending to book a ticket for this years Questing Conference, but have probably left it a little late by now. The stalls are a lot cheaper this year, outside of London, but still a little out of my price league after last years disaster.

I think then what I shall do is try and tout the book around the areas book shops and possibly even try and organise a stint on Glastonbury Radio. I have emailed them this afternoon in fact to see what information they would need, since they feature authors on a lot of their shows, and have a regular book review slot each Thursday afternoon. It may be possible to do the show over the phone at home, without having to go to the studio at all. It would certainly be one way of persuading the town's book shops to stock my book - not to mention Waterstones in nearby Wells. Have not got round to ringing them yet.

In fact, I have not felt up to ringing any book shops at all today, which puts me slightly behind my schedule. There is always tomorrow though, and besides, Gardners are out of stock so have nothing to send out anyway.

Last week I had quite a few branches actually tell me that they preferred not to order through Gardners anyway, which I was a little puzzled by. Scarborough and Southampton Above Bar were two culprits, although they did eventually order a copy apiece. I got the feeling though that they would have ordered more had there been alternatives. Swansea on Friday though were very anti Gardners and insisted that it is not company policy to use them at all. This is not at all what the Gardners website says. When I pointed out to them that I have rung almost 300 stores now and they are the first ones to tell me, they said that those other stores were obviously not aware of company policy. I don't think so!

I then telephoned Justin Hutchinson, the independent author advisor at their Head Office, but I was told that he had gone home. Undeterred I emailed him instead and 5 minutes later had a reply to say that Swansea were wrong and I was right. He stated that 'Waterstones discourage stores from using Gardner's as a wholesaler but not as a supplier. As Gardner's are linked to you as a supplier this is where stock should be ordered from if a store wishes to do so. If you can let me know which stores have said this I'll get in touch with them." Hooray, what a gentleman ! Borders should watch and learn ....

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Living your dream

I had to laugh just now when I checked my emails and found an update from Karen Bishops site, What's up on Planet Earth?

Karen says, towards the end of her article:

"If you have a new and exciting creation ready which is truly in alignment with your passion and who you are, and it is not seemingly going anywhere, there are some good reasons why. Firstly, it is not time yet. The planet is not ready in the falling away state it is currently in. Secondly, your creation must be in alignment with the new and higher ways. We will be blocked from releasing new creations if they are still in alignment with the old ways and structures for a few reasons. If we released them now, they would go down with what is falling. If you are being blocked for this reason, you are simply being protected, and need to tweak your creation so that is matches the new energies. In addition, it is difficult to be in the flow of anything, if we are not in alignment with the new energies. As mentioned above, being in alignment with the new energies greatly assists in making for an easy flow in our lives, which translates to effortless being. So then, some creations may be blocked as their arena is not yet ready. Things are still being re-structured (or falling away enough to make room for the new). And others may be holding old energies. So all in all, no matter what your creation, it is not time yet for any of us!"

This brought to mind what happened with my book last and earlier this year, that it did not seem to be doing as well as I hoped. I was doing talks to groups of anything up 30 people and not one person would buy a copy. I did a talk in Borders, Kingston and three people showed up. I had friends who run groups recommending the book to their students, yet they didn't go out and buy copies .... I could go on. I later of course discovered that the book had had a spell put on it, yet everything does happen for a reason and there was it seems a method in this madness.

Coran has long been saying to me that he thinks the reason for all this was because the book was not ready to be widely read and also, that I as an author, was not ready to be seen and heard. Now that we are in our new home, residing in energies that more closely match our own new vibration (and Karen also talks about this), we are more comfortable with a lot of things, including showing our true selves.

The book then was tweaked accoringly, just as Karen says, after we moved up here, by changing the cover and making changes to the text as well. This was absolutely the right thing to do, and the right time and place to do it in as well, since that same week that the new version was released I had not one but two wonderful reviews from both The Self Publishing and Nexus mgazines, and also the invitation from Phil Harris to appear on his radio show.

Since then, both the book and I have done from strength to strength. I seem to have really got my act together these past few months and everyone is commenting on how I have changed, The book is available in several libraries throughtout England (I have this week contacted the Scottish ones as well), and 56 book shops (that I am aware of- there may be more) throughout the UK. I have also discovered that I am quite adept at writing press releases and dealing with the media. People up here continually congratulate me on the changes I am making to the village newsletter, and I have even started a part time course in journalism. You could say then I have got the life I was always meant to have !