Gaining ground

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At last I’m gaining ground. Not easy this independant publishing gig!

I’ve just received a large initial order for my Ripper book (KillingTime) from the Jack the Ripper museum, in Cable Street, London. Well, it was a perfect fit really. A great museum, with friendly owners that are passionate about the mystery of the Ripper himself, and the women of the area in Victorian London. They have recreated scenes from this macbre past, and even a mock up of the Ripper’s bedroom (If it was Walter Sickert) and a mortuary.

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Yes, it is all a little bloodthirsty I must admit, but it is history as well, and the past life scenario was a brilliant vehicle to bring his victims and the officers hunting for him, back to life again. It was my original thought when plotting the story. What if you could put the reincarnated forms of his victims etc, through a regression. What would be learnt, and could we apply any modern forensic knowledge to verbal clues given in those sessions?

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I’m also in talks with the Museum of London, The London Dungeon, and The London Bridge experience. Those last two also feature Jacky boy in their gory reconstruction of London’s history.

Apologies for thos who prefer my more spiritual, philisophical elements, displayed in my first book – The Many Lives of Adam Capello – I call that my ‘Light – Awakening’ series… and am working on a follow up, or sequel soon. I shall keep you well informed.

Both books are now also stocked at Foyles book shop, Tottenham Court Road, Barton’s book shop, Leatherhead, and most of the libraries in Surrey – so the word is slowly spreading.

Thank you for all the support from my friends of old, and new friends made through my books. Your support keeps me driven.

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So just a short blog update today, as I have lots of little jobs that need attending too, and, as constantly requested from Bartons… a sequel to leap from the page.

Have a great weekend!

 

Mark

The solitude of writing

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I’ve had a bit of a knock back lately. I’m in that awkward zone where I’m waiting for responses from agents, which can take anywhere from 2 days to 3 months and it is a little frustrating, especially when only the rejections come in.

And then there is the personal life… which I will keep mainly personal, but in essence, I broke up from my girlfriend a few months ago, and although it was a mutual and amicable decision, it has been hard to think of anything else.

So how does that affect the writing process?

Well, I can only speak for myself of course, but I should imagine it’s tough for any writer. We spend an awful amount of time by ourselves. It is what we do! So having someone good in your life can be the difference between success or failure. Hell, it can be the difference between a book of 80,000 words, or a few sporadic words of shite that have no real meaning.

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Think about it. When we see an author’s dedication, it is normally glowing towards their loved ones. They are the rock that their emotional foundation is built on. They are the kind voice, the support, the cup of coffee in the morning that can make all you feel whole, even when things are not going well elsewhere.

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I look around town and see couples everywhere, linked by hands or just an invisible tether between them. And on television or at the cinema, real people or fictitious, taking on the world because they are surrounded by people they trust and love. It gives us the strength to carry on against the odds.

 

So yes, for a writer, being single can be catastrophic. And only now am I beginning to write again, starting with blogs and a collection of my thoughts that only I will ever see. Of course, for some writers, they would probably love the thought of being single. Why? Because it takes away the distraction of a relationship. The noise in the house, the visiting of their relatives, the shopping trips to help them choose a new outfit.

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That is where a sensible balance comes into the equation. That is why Stephen King locks his door, and countless others dream of a warm luxury shed at the bottom of the garden to retreat too, like Roald Dhal. But in the end, it comes down to will power and commitment. Just look at Jeffery Archer!

Hmm, that’s a sentence I never thought I’d say. But seriously. Here was a politician who climbed the greasy pole to somewhere near the top. He was a household name. Then he had an affair, and some dodgy tax deals and ended up in prison. Throughout all that, his wife stood by him. God knows why, but she did. Maybe… just maybe, it was because she knew, that even with his indiscretions,  that they were a team.

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And with that Team Archer, he was able to continue writing even whilst in prison. I’m not saying they are happy, but I’m fascinated by this human bond; this team built up through shared ambitions and usually starting with love, but changing, transmogrifying into something else… a myriad of different roles, and all of them serving a basic need. Well, maybe not the sexual need in his case, but who knows.

 

So anyway, I digress.

 

My writing stopped. Last year I was on a role, with up to 10,000 words a week at one point. Yes, it is not all down to being single. Part of it is just the timing with the agents, and trying to think of a new story to write… and even find the will power to write another book when I can’t even get a publishing deal for the two I have written already.

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But it has still confirmed what I kind of knew in my heart of hearts. When a dedication is made to your partner in a book, they are not just being polite, or trying to appease their spouse. They know that that the whole writing process would have been much tougher without their support. They say that behind every successful man is a woman, and I would say that behind every successful woman is a man – or, in this modern world at least – a partner. A lover or someone to confide in. Even if it is just your agent, it is someone to pull you through the process.

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So… I am still friends with my ex, but something needs to be said.

 

Thank you Katja for all your love and support whilst writing Killing time. Honestly, I quite possibly couldn’t have done it without you.

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And for those singletons out there in my position. Go out and find someone. Whether it be a boyfriend / girlfriend, a relative, a friend or even a writing club to spur you on. But most importantly, push yourself out of the shed or living room table and your comfort zone to the outside world, and meet someone special. It will make all the difference.

 

Good luck in your writing, and your love life,

 

Mark

Rejections from agents

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It has been a while. First I was busy with sending out manuscripts to agents… a long, and lengthy process, and then I was in limbo.

I was a little lost whilst waiting to hear from the agents that I was pinning so much hope on. Silly really. I’d had so many ideas and plans when writing Killing Time, declaring to friends that I was too busy to complete any projects, and yet here I was… lost. I was all at sea.

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And then the time eventually passed. I redesigned covers, looked for competitions to enter and tried in vain to think of a sequel to my undiscovered masterpiece. 6 weeks passed. Then 8 weeks. The silence filling my ears. Well, almost silence. I had one young agent ask for the whole manuscript… just enough interest to keep my heart beating.

A small aside: Her name is Sarah Manning. Impossibly pretty, with that gorgeous girl next door look, that no girl next door to me has ever possesed. Young of course, with an innocent air that may well belie a savvy intelligence. She has started video blogging details on how to hook an agent. And against my expectation, thus far they have been really good, after a shakey first episode of introduction. Please find the link below:

And yet………………………. Sigh……………. I still ended with a rejection letter from her. A lovely, kind, nicely put rejection from my girl next door, but one all the same. She said I write well, and that the story is indeed very commercial…… but it didn’t captivate her!

Am I bitter? No, of course not. They receive so many submissions that they have to be completly blown away by your MS. They have to absolutely love your story, to the point that they fall in love with it… In love with it enough to fight by your side against their bosses and future publishing bosses that they pitch to. Remember, out of the thousands of submissions a year they receive, they probably only pick 2 or 3 up.

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So don’t get upset by the rejections, even if you imagined running with off the agent to some sunny beach house and living happily ever after. Oh… is that just me?

If they are kind enough to give some feedback – read it and utilise it. Get some trusted readers to go over your first 3 chapters again. Look for the hooks needed to snare your agent. Check the tenses and the character perspectives. Hell, check everything again that might just make those chapters more exciting. Unfortunately the publishing world is run by the MTV generation now. They want to be impressed ASAP! Like it or not, it is their world, and we have to play by their rules.

Or……………………………………………………… do we?

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There have never been so may options. From ebooks, to on the kindle, nook, ibook etc, to paperbacks. Publish using Smashwords or the daddy of them all, Amazon. Amazon own Createspace… I have mentioned it on here before. They make it free to upload all your image files for the cover, or use one of their designers for a reasonable fee.

And free to upload the interior file for the book contents. Just make sure the quality is good, because quite frankly, there are a lot of people putting some crap out there, and it is making it difficult for the rest of us. Check the spelling, grammar, formatting, fonts used at the very least. You will be helping yourself, and every other struggling author out there.

Or………………………………………………………………….

Use one of a new service, such as Red Door.

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These  publishers are a step up from vanity publishing. A very important step though. One in which requires integrity, because you will be parting time and most importantly, a lot of money to try this route out. Basically, they work just like any other smallish publisher. They get editors and copywriters and cover designers to make your book look as good as you both feel it should be, and then start promoting it, and using thier contacts to get it into bookshops. They work out the logistics of warehouses, printing and distribution.

You have to submit a munuscript to them just like any other agent, and they can reject it just like any other agent, except that they can take biggers risks than traditional agents because you are lessening the financial risks for them. You are spreading the bet because you take a big part of the financial risk away from them by paying for most, or all of it yourself. This is the time when you put your money where your mouth is. If your book is so damn good as you keep telling people, then you should be the one taking the risks.

The reward? Simple. Your royalty percentage. A typical deal with a publisher will see you getting just 8%. A deal with Red Door, or Matador or a similar reputable service, should be 60% going to you if you pay everything. That initial outlay may be £5,000 or £6,000, but it’s a hell of a return.

That said Kindle ebooks give you a 70% return, and cost nothing to produce or sell on Amazon. You can sell them cheaper as no printing, distribution costs etc – but they are still only about 40% of the market, so quite a gamble.

And whilst Red door etc can be an easier way in, with bigger margins… do they have the clout to turn you into a best selling author? This is where it all hangs on what you want. I’m greedy for attention and money if honest, so want to give the big boys a try first. I have to admit though, the Red door alternative is looking more attractive every day.

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For now though, I will just have to wait for my second round of agent applications. Use Agent hunter btw… they save you so much time in searching out the details of the agents that would work best with your project.

I’ll also have to wait for Sarah manning to come to her senses regarding my book, and dating older men.

.Say hi sometime and check out my 2 books – The Many Lives of Adam Capello, and Killing Time, on Amazon, and for Gods sake give them a damn good review!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Until next time my friends..

Mark

 

The Complications of Genre

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I’d never thought of it before…

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I just wanted to write…

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And before I knew it, I had my first book… THE AWAKENING OF ADAM CAPELLO

…and then I had to find out what genre it was. Yes, arse about face, but it was my first book, and I didn’t want anything stunting the creative process. I then found out it was Metaphysical fiction.

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Yes, I didn’t know what Metaphysical fiction was until I’d written it, but now I do. Only problem is, the new book, KILLING TIME, is a lot lot darker, and a historical fiction murder mystery. So should I have written it under a different name?

Tricky, as it is set in the same world of Awakening and even has Adam Capello and Martin Kale from the first book. I have also changed from 1st person to 3rd person… so I apologise to those that prefer their fiction to be a certain way and expected something different.

But life is not that simple, especially if you have quite an organic writing process as I do. I go with the flow. Some might even say I let the spirits of my ancestors influence my writing.

Who knows, it feels quite free flowing sometimes, even if I do stare occasionally at an office wall for a few hours  waiting for inspiration to strike.

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I’m lucky people are wanting more though, so will have to fix this problem by writing a sequel to my first book sometime soon..

The Awakening of Adam Capello by [Taylor, M]  VS    VS  Killing Time by [Taylor, M W]

Or write another completely different book under a new name with the freedom to say whatever I like because no one will know who I am. A whole new genre mix…

What do you think?

Metaphysical erotica anyone?

Have a great week,

 

Mark

Killing Time goes global !!!

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Apologies for the lack of any recent updates… I have been busy getting the final version of my new book KILLING TIME ready for Amazon etc. I hope you like the cover. I especially like the spine with the Ripper in blood red shadow in the middle. Lovely 🙂

It is amazing after all this time to think that my book is ready for the big wide world. I started writing one chapter on January 1st 2016 to mark my new life as a writer… I was made redundant from the Met police on December 31st 2015 after almost 24 years.

I was happy with the new chapter, but then didn’t really start writing until May because I was too busy starting other new projects and suffering from that feeling that a lot of new writers have. That feeling that nothing might emerge from the word processor… my mind blank… my creative flair all used on the first book.

It is that reluctance to start anything because we do not want to face the dedication it needs for the following year, or the fact that it might be rubbish. But here I am, and very proud of my newborn. It is grittier… by far, than anything else I have written, and so far, well received by my Beta readers. A huge thank you to all of you btw, especially Katja for her support, and Tambi for an amazing job proof reading it.

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I now have to start researching for the right literary agents to send KILLING TIME to, and making each and every cover letter, synopsis and MS submission tailor fitted to that agent. It’s hard. Real hard!

But… I will also keep up with my blog here, and overhaul my writer’s page (themanylivesofadamcapello Facebook) to include both books. Now is the time for energy and conviction, not lack of confidence or complacency. Now is the time for more hard work… the big push.

I will be at the London Book Fair at Olympia on Wednesday March 15th representing myself and SAVANT PRESS, my publishing name. Wow it would be great to meet some of you there.

And, hot of the press, I have been asked to do a book signing at Barton’s Book Shop in Leatherhead, Surrey on April 29th. I can’t wait.

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I’ll be quizzing in the next blog or two, with factoids on Jack the Ripper and the whole concept of past life regression… Same on Facebook. So again, I hope I see you there

https://www.facebook.com/themanylivesofadamcapello/

All the best… and enjoy the fresh spring weather.

Mark

Blog 10… sort of:

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Happy Christmas to everyone who reads my blog. It has been a productive year which is ending very happily. On January 1st of this year I was made redundant from the Metropolitan police after almost 24 years as a crime scene photographer, with all its highs and lows.

Whilst this was sad in some respects, it was also a fantastic new start, as they had been generous enough to give me a small pension to keep the wolf from the door. It freed me just enough to find lots of small part time jobs I like, and most importantly, to concentrate on my writing. I wrote the first chapter of my new book on Jan 1st to start my new life with purpose, and as a result, I have just finished editing the second draft of my new book ‘Killing Time’ to be ready in late January 2017.

For those that cannot wait or want a rare copy, I have published it as a Beta version with a false title and author name. Long story, but it makes it easier and clearer to publish it as a new book when it is ready. You can find it on Amazon worldwide as  ‘In the Footsteps of Madness’ by Solomon Wise. I quite like that author’s name… maybe I should have used it from the start.

In 2065 a new science called Awakening has turned the world upside down. It gives the gift and the curse of being able to delve back into your past lives. But one past life is so strong that it overcomes its existing identity. The life of someone who should never have been allowed to exist in the first place. The Leather Apron, The Whitechapel Murderer, The original serial killer, he is known by all these names. And now he wants to kill again. Jack the Ripper is back.

And… in a mad rush to finish the year with a bang, I have just finished an Amazon advertising campaign… I’ll let you know how that went in the new year. Until then, enjoy the holiday period with friends and family. Relax and rest so that you will be ready to start a book yourself in January.

 

Happy Christmas,

 

Mark

Blog 9 – Past the finishing post

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First Draft

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I’m feeling a little smug. Sorry.

I want to shout out my accomplishment in a very un British way. I must apologise.

I have finished my new book! Ye ha and all that!

Ahem, now I’m standing on a box with a megaphone,

I HAVE FINISHED MY NEW BOOK!!!!!!!!!

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Ahhhh, that feels better. Please excuse my outburst, but it is a lovely point in any writer’s life. To finish a book that you have been working hard on; in silence, away from friends.

Oh, but I have not finished it. Just the first draft of course. That rough but certainly not ready first edition that only a scant few will see. Complete with ttypos and plot holes and a crappy cover, but that is okay. Those few are friends… and better yet, friends of friends who do not know me, so will hopefully be more honest with their reviews.

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How important are reviews? At this stage they are the guiding light. I know the story way too well to have any distance from it. I know all the twists and turns, who is who. I know the red herrings from the clues and the jokes that originated in my head and still make me chuckle. But will they make you chuckle? Will you see too easily the clues I have left behind to the point of making it pedestrian? And talking of which, is the pace fast enough?

Think about when you tell someone a joke… It is more than just the words. You have to set it up. You have to engage the listener with minor gags along the way that build the whole scene up. You need to get the timing right and the joke to be a complete surprise for full effect. I’m terrible at telling jokes… I try too hard and lose the natural rhythm. Well it is the same with a story, especially when it is a thriller or murder mystery.

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I love this joke

So thank you to those friends that are reading it right now. Thank you Chris in Miami who raced through it in three days saying he could not put it down at night. And thank you for what you have said already regarding a couple of the characters… it has already given me ideas for the second draft.

Readers all over America, some in England and even one in Norway for a little Scanoir feedback.

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So if you are in a similar position, don’t be too shy to show anyone. It will never grow that way. Your story needs to see the sunlight and be watered by praise or encouraged by loving clips of dead limbs. I was never a good gardener either as you might see.

Get it onto people’s e-readers or even give it a false title and author’s name to get it published on Amazon under their excellent Createspace service.

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Createspace is their publishing arm, and I have to say, it is brilliant. It does not cost a penny to set up, unlike other services such as Ingram Sparks. They also provide an ISBN and it will be available all over the world. Once you are happy with the book (after 2 or 3 drafts) and it has been proof read to perfection for mistakes, it is ready to be a first edition and then you can re title it and give it your own ISBN. Another milestone.

This is when you think about advertising your book. I have only just started, which is very slow of me. I put out an Ad on Facebook 2 days ago for £30 that will last me a week. How exciting is that. Okay, so only 2 sales thus far, but it is early days yet, and for now it is all part of the adventure. I will let you know how I got on in my next blog.

Until then,

Happy writing,

Mark.

Blog 8 – The Art of Finishing

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Another month… and so another overdue blog to you, my dear reader. Unsurprisingly I am still busy trying to finish my latest book ‘Killing Time’, which gives me very little… ahem, time… to do anything else. But, I have great news. I am writing the last few chapters!!!!!! Yay!!!!!!! Three cheers and all that. But… ach, it is so damn difficult.

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So, I have almost everything in place, and I have timed all the elements quite well so that the story comes to its conclusion around the 80-90,0000 word mark. Fantastic! That was an achievement in itself. Most of the time I was wondering if I was going to make it last long enough, and now I’m hoping it won’t be too long. I can cut bits out to reach my preferred commercial target though, the generally recognised most popular length with readers and publishers alike of 80,000 words for fiction.

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At one point, I was chucking the words out at 10,000 per week, but I have to say, I’m not so sure the quality is quite as high, so will need more editing… but that’s okay, the main thing was getting the story out into my personal world, and now I can make it perfect with the touch ups, the re-edits and all the knowledge of knowing exactly where the story is going.

But finishing holds with it such high expectations. How many times have you heard of a book or movie being really good, but with a disappointing ending? Maybe you had guessed the twist at the end, or it didn’t seem believable. Or, maybe… it just ended, but wasn’t interesting. If someone has spent 8 or 9 hours reading your book, they will normally want a pretty good conclusion. And so, even though I have a conclusion, to me, it is not yet exciting enough in my head.

Remember, a story needs 3 acts:

Hook

Build

Payoff

This is the shape any story must take.

A beginning that grabs the reader.

A middle that escalates in tension, suspense, stakes and excitement.

And an ending that brings it all home with a bang.

Well, almost. An end can be something that grabs us intellectually, or boy gets girl or Timmy gets a cure for cancer… something that satisfies… that is its bang!

So here I am, at the stage I’ve been waiting 5 months for. 5 months of slogging through the story, but able to push in a fairly wide choice of directions. But now… now I’m approaching that ending and the responsibility is tough!

My way around this for the moment is to just write the end.

Then write it again… but different

And again…

And maybe my creative side can find the most interesting and exciting conclusion, to what I hope people find to be a great story.

It is better than looking at that flashing cursor and wondering what I might find on Amazon to buy for Christmas presents. And certainly better than giving up.

Yep, the thought does occasionally pop into my head, but that would be crazy after 85,000 words wouldn’t it? I bet some do though.

Luckily for me, I’m going on a writer’s retreat next week, a good place to finish my first draft with its change of scenery and a few other writers to bounce ideas off.

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If you have reached that tough first 30,000 word point… then well done, that is the first tough stage completed. Look at your book so far and decide at this point if it is a goer or if you need to start again. That is what most writers do. It is tough to start a completely new project, but better than slogging the proverbial dead horse.

If it is good, fantastic, because the next 30,000 or 40,000 words are going to be easier. Just don’t be surprised when the 3rd act starts and you get nervous though.

It is only stage fright after all.

 

Good luck to all my writer friends – budding, and successful authors too.

Mark

 

The results of positive thinking

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I have been very very busy writing, trying to get the first draft of my new book finished by the end of October, Edited in November and then printed for cheap Christmas presents.

MO-HELL31. Scene from 2001 film festival movie From Hell.

I thought I had lost this post in the interweb… A newer post to come soon…

My apologies to those kind readers of my site for not posting any new blogs lately…. it has been an incredibly busy 2 weeks, and not for writing. Last week I had my first acting job for an HIV charity which was a great experience, And this week I was 2 days on the set of Emmerdale for an explosive few episodes in mid October. Amazing how just pushing forward and out of your comfort zone can lead to such interesting events and locations.

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So am I just bragging? In a way… yes,  but overall I’m going to try and give an example of the positive effects of being positive, which, lets face it, can be difficult sometimes, especially when beaten down by events in life that can come in 3s or 4s.

2014-15 was one of the worst 2 years in my life due to many events conspiring against me. I had been given long term notice of redundancy after 24 years with the Met police, so life was uncertain, my team were all depressed, so an awful enviroment to work in (which, when you are a crime scene photographer, is a terrible position to be in). My mother was in a car accident, my father suicidal and other, smaller things were going on. The only good thing in my life, was my girlfriend… until things got to her with her life, and suddenly ended the releationship, with what seemed little reason and no explanation.

So. for me… rock bottom. Worse than my divorce, worse than any other break up, mostly for the fact of how she ended things without talking, and shutting me out.

Anyway, that is enough info on that. I’ll get to my point.

wp_20160717_07_46_48_pro         I think we all have tests like this in our lives, and for writers, they are all a training day. Just like actors remembering emotions to display in films later on. They give us the ammo to write deeper from the heart. Fortunately for me, I had a pen pal on facebook and she was a great listener and eventually became an even better girlfriend.

Now we have been in a relationship for over 18 months and she has pulled me through and made me look to improve myself and my karma. She is a lovely person.

But… as painful as my breakup had been, I had learnt to push myself to enjoy life as much as possible, and now Katja, my current main squeeze, is supporting me through that too.

So… without trying to sound too sentimental, take a look where you are with your writing. Look to experiences and see if you can express yourself as openly as I have here. It is not easy, but it is cathartic, and cheap therapy. It is raw and connects with a lot of people who have touched upon the same subjects. It is 3 dimensional and real, emotive and heart warming.

me-puregym5So now everything is better. My redundancy came with a small pension… Yay! Stupid Met police paying me to not work for them, and it gives me the chance to do lesser paid jobs. So 4 months ago I applied to a modelling agency called Ugly (They do all types of people) and a tv and film extra agency called Ray Knight and got accepted by these two giants in the industry, hence getting interesting work. I went to a pub quiz and found that the quiz master works of Question One… a pub quiz company… and now am a quizmaster for them.

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Sorry…. my point is. Just try! Don’t think it’ll go nowhere so what’s the point. Just try anything that takes your fancy. Game park keeper, club bouncer, fitness instructor, stand up comic, stripper, erotic fiction writer (easiest money), librarian, advertising exec…. whatever floats your boat.

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Yes, we all have bills to pay. So if you cannot change your job, channel those dreams into your writing. Those hopes and fears. Those disasters and challenges. Write in lunch breaks, or an hour before work. Do what I did, and dream that writing that best seller will get you out of the shit you are in… believe me, it is a great motivation. Don’t torture yourself that you should not write for the money… it is your life, your reasons. E.L.Travers didn’t write 50 shades for art… and she wrote a lot of it in her car on her blackberry. Hell, now she’s rewriting the first three but from the guy’s perspective! Commercial, money orientated genius. Hopefully she’ll take the money and then try to write something worthwhile instead…

My new friend and new cast member from Emmerdale

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But then… a lot of women (and maybe some men) will see her book as worthwhile, that it got them out of a sexual rut, an empty relationship, an emotional dead end… which only goes to show, that anything can be worthwhile and mean something in someone’s world.

So what’s your excuse now? Get writing dagnamit!!!!!!

Mark

Blog 6 – Getting a publishing agent

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This is really difficult…

I repeat… this is really really difficult.

Why?

Because the world of selling books has changed and thus affected the publishers – to the point in which they are very scared to take any kind of financial risk.

This might be a bit of a rant.

Almost every agent says on their web page that they are looking for a strong voice, that they are looking for something new and different.

Hmmm…

They’d love to find something new and exciting, but the financial risk is too big, so it is much better to jump onto whatever bandwagon is passing by. There will always be exceptions, and kudos to those agents that have the courage of their convictions when they find that golden project.

Sour grapes?

Maybe… but I am fed up with seeing agents say they want a new voice and then, when they go over my 3 chapters, they harp on about narrative drive and that my book is too niche a market (metaphysical fiction).

Hmm, The Alchemist is one of the biggest sellers in the world – Metaphysical fiction

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August

Cloud Atlas

The End of Mr Y

The Celestine Prophecies

All metaphysical fiction… but yes, a small corner of the general genre market.

Now the BIG GENRES are Erotic fiction, Chick Lit, Murder and Young Adult… so if you have one of those, it will help… but maybe no cigar.

Agents receive approx 200 books per month = 2400 books per year. They end up representing 2-3 out of those 2400. And who can blame them, they are very busy.

They get these manuscripts arrive all the time, and by a process of experience and luck, your MS might make it to the top of the slush pile. If your MS (manuscript) is turned down, do not despair! It is just a tough tough market. Hence, self publishing becoming very popular.

Also Crowdfunded publishing (last week’s blog 5) is a new option

Or, a few mid-way publishers, who share the risk with you by being selective and then getting you, the writer to underwrite the costs of editing, proofing, design, publicity and distribution… to name but a few elements. It is a great idea, but there are hundreds of cowboys out there, so always go by word of mouth. Make friends with your independant book shop owners… they will now who is who. Peter at Barton’s books in Leatherhead is fantastic. A true gent and lover of all things books. He is what you can never get in a franchise, a biblophile who knows everyone and thrives in getting writers and artists together. And one day you will want them to stock your book, and let you do book signings in it.

I have paid agents to give advice, and found some giving wise words out at book fairs for free… and they all differ in how they choose that book.

My tips:

 

Make the first paragraph as gripping as possible

Then make the first three chapters as interesting and unputdownable as possible – sex it up, create jeopardy, a death, a shock or two – even if you cannot keep that pace up after the 3 chapters. That is the commercial way. That is the feedback I had from an agent, even though I’d explained in my synopsis that my book is not a thriller, it is a thought provoking, evocative, visual book that makes you wonder about life, not death and who caused it. It did not fit her formula!

I know I know, I sound bitter. I’m not really, just a little frustrated, but I truly understand why things are the way they are.

Yep, that’s right, she was one of the agents saying she was looking for something different. She didn’t even read the synopsis, and then admitted that she didn’t know where the book was going because she never reads a synopsis. And yet most… no, all, agents ask for a synopsis. A synopsis that is the best that anyone could ever write and condenses your book into 600 words(ish). And I stupidly paid Bloomsbury publishing £225 for her flippant advice.

As I said, this might be sour grapes, but it is hard to tell from where I’m standing.

Save your money. Do not use Bloomsbury’s services. They seem genuine enough, but it always ends up being quite a lot of money for advice that is available elsewhere. They dangle a golden carrot though. The chance to not only meet an agent, but for them to read your first 3 chapters. By the look of her handwriting, she skim read it on the train on the way into work, her service acting as an extra boost to her income on the 07:38 to Waterloo.

This all happened about 3 months ago, and I’m still ranting. She was lovely though.

Ach, as I say, design the first paragraph for the airport test… to grab your reader

Then design the first three chapters to grab an agent

Do your research regarding writing the perfect synopsis (even if she won’t read it)

Write an exciting summary, or even better, get someone else to write it.

Write an amusing, self effacing, short biography in the 3rd person that you’d have in the front of your book just in case it’s needed.

And… research your agent very very well so that you can suck up to them as much as possible. They all want it to be geared exactly for them, even though, most of us just want a bloody deal with any competent and honest agent. The research will help you find the better agent though, so take the time to look for the agents that represent the authors that you like.

Never be put off by what they say… the real advice that is worth everything, are the reviews from Amazon etc. Not close friends or family or loved ones… they are too close to you.

Push for as many reviews as possible, and if after say, 10 or 20 reviews you are only 3 stars… then your book needs a serious overhaul or you need to put it aside for a little while and start writing that second novel, using all the experience you have gained from the first. Then when you come back to your 1st novel, you can look at it with fresh eyes and a sack load of extra experience from writing your second masterpiece.

And finally… it does not matter if you get 5 stars or 1 star… to me, if you have written a book of more than 40,000 words and pushed it to the point that it is available to the world through Amazon or suchlike, then you have created something that others cannot.

Most people cannot even seem to finish reading a book, never mind write one. So hold your head up high. You are a writer, and, even if you only sell one copy to a stranger… you are an author!

Congratulations.

Have a great week and check out my book at Amazon only £8.99

Mark