Saturday, 6 December 2014

Yellow Pages

Had a JR Hartley moment today when C wanted to give someone a copy of The Book of Starters that I did the photography for in 1996.

Fortunately, I didn't have to traipse around the second-hand bookshops. C found it on eBay for £2.50 in about 10 seconds...

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Back in the day #1

On my first day driving the 31 bus back in 1977, I drove past some roadworks at the junction of Earls Court Road and Old Brompton Road.

Immediately afterwards, I heard the bell being rung repeatedly. It took a few moments to register and remember that this was the emergency stop signal from the conductor. I pulled up in Redcliffe Gardens, stopped the engine and went back to see what the problem was.

My conductor was standing on the platform calmly smoking a fag, so I asked him what the problem was. He turned his head upwards and nodded. I followed his gaze and saw that the upper deck had a large hole ripped in it.

I was amazed. Apparently, as we had passed the roadworks, a mechanical digger had swung into the bus, gouging away several feet of the upper deck.

I asked if anyone was hurt, whether there had been anyone up there.
The conductor said, "Just one bloke, black fella, he got off the bus, white as a sheet!"

Monday, 17 November 2014

Post free giveaway weekend

You could say that there was a vast increase in downloads - 33 over the weekend as opposed to 23 (paid) since August 26.

I suppose it has taught me a little about how to use Witter. However, 33 seems a small number considering how much info I put out there. I will be very interested to see if any reviews come of it. Everything I read now says free giveaways are BAD as people don't read what they have got for free and then if they do, leave shitty reviews.

Unless anything truly appalling happens between now and then, I shall give it another try mid-December and then put the book on any/all other e-book outlets.

Saturday, 15 November 2014


Oh Jeez. I have just been given a tutorial on using Twitter. How does anyone have the time..??

Giving it away

This weekend - November 15/16 I am giving away the Kindle version of George and the Dragon

I have been following a marketing game plan from DigitalBooksToday. It has left me totally baffled about forums, twitter etc I hope I have put the right bits in the right place. You have to know by now that I am not a social-media animal!

It will certainly be interesting to see whether a give-away results in any downloads at all, there seem to be thousands of them on offer and I cannot really see how my marketing might stand out...

Watch this space!

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Streets of London 2014 - an observation of current rules and behaviours

Coitus Interrupts or the Puller-Outer
Wants to pull out of a side road into the main road, glances briefly to the right, sees traffic and pulls out anyway.

The Non-Indicator
Does not use indicators perhaps because they require too much physical effort (that finger stretch can be really difficult) or because indicating intentions shows weakness, especially if turning right.

The Knee Jerk
Reacts immediately to the perceived insult of a toot by tooting back, longer, and usually louder.

The Turner Prize
In the wake of universal power-assisted steering, almost everyone who finds themselves facing the wrong way does a three-point turn. In a side road, in a main road, in front of other traffic, in front of schools, not yet on dual-cariageways but that will come soon enough.

Not So Merry-go-Round
It is obviously impossible to apply the same rules of roundabout priority to a mini-roundabout, that must be too complicated.

Swing Wide, Sweet Chariot
Is it really necessary to swing to the right-hand side of the road in order to turn left? In a mini? Didn’t need to when I was driving a Routemaster so even the Chelsea tractors have no excuse.

Right of Centre Status
It is obviously difficult to drive a large car on city streets, who knows where the left hand wing mirror is? Much safer to drive in the middle of the road, even if there are cars coming the other way - they can get out of the way.

The Non-Starter
Leaves a super-safe gap to the car in front so that three cars behind catch the red and have to sit through another cycle of the lights.

FU the Texterestrial
Uses the distraction of the text message just arrived to qualify instantly in most of the above categories (especially as non-starters).

The No-Thank-you
Lifting a hand from the wheel to acknowledge someone giving way is far too much trouble and shows weakness.

The Red Exception
If some extraordinary event such as roadworks, slow-moving traffic, a pedestrian or another car turning right denies you your perceived rightful passage through traffic lights then it is perfectly ok to go through a red light.

But let’s not fall into the four-wheels-bad->two-wheels/legs-good trap. So lest we forget:

The Handicap System
By which everyone on two wheels whether Grand P(r)izza scooter or granny with a shopping basket on a sit-up-and-beg has an in alienable right to be at the front of any queue.

Human Rights Lawyer
The pedestrian who knows the law about priorities on crossings and junctions so is happy to enforce that right by stepping in front of moving traffic, no matter how close, without pausing, or looking anywhere but straight ahead.

And the Monsoon Season (a rain shower) that instantaneously makes all of the above behaviours compulsory for everyone on the streets of London.

When I was learning to drive, my dad said that the definition of good driving ‘is to never force anyone else to brake’. Nowadays constantly testing other road users’ brakes is much more important. I will be interested to see how Google/Mercedes/Audi/Volvo self-driving cars deal with these behaviours, or will they be programmed to behave the same way to avoid being readily identified as robots (and thus, soft targets)?

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Good feedback

I am getting good feedback from those who are reading George.

I have no word yet from the local book store.

I have sent a synopsis and 30 pages to an agent I met at someone else's book launch, not heard back yet.

I have read up on how to use Twitter. No way am I going to be able to Tweet two or three times a day about stuff that flits through my head.

Friday, 17 October 2014

The real deal

Well, there it is - available on Amazon RRP £5.99 and already they're discounting it.

I have dropped a copy in to local bookshop Queens Park Books in the hope they will let me do a signing or some promotion. I see there are already several local authors featured. That says a lot about Queens Park!

I am stunned at the concept of punters being able to buy a copy which is then printed to order. I want to see that machine in action...

I have a couple of leads to pursue. One, an agent, another someone who knows a successful screenplay writer. Everyone who reads the book says they can see it as a film, I suppose because it is so dialogue heavy.

Monday, 13 October 2014

A long month

From one review to five! All good. Wow, amazing.

Now sold 17 copies on Kindle. At some point I decided to sign up for KDP Select. Not sure how I'm going to use that, reduced price special offer or free special offer.

Spent a lot of the time this month formatting the book for print-to-order on CreateSpace.

Found the help file for formatting and thought I had followed it. Uploaded the book and ordered a proof then followed a long five days before getting what looked like a real version of MY BOOK.

Unfortunately, on closer inspection, the print was too close to the gutter and the preliminary pages were a mess.

I went back to the help file and realised that you have to format the InDesign document with two different master pages with increased left and right space for right and left pages.

Reading the help files properly, I realised that you can have blank pages. I had mis-understood that. Now with correct gutter spaces and front matter looking more traditional, I ordered a couple more proofs.

When they came they looked fantastic. I promptly put them on sale and sent a support email to ask them to be linked with the Kindle version on Amazon. It only took a day for that to happen and so I sent an email to everyone I know saying that the print version was now available on Amazon at £5.99.

The Kindle sales broke through into double figures. I lent one of my proof copies to an old friend who has no Kindle, ordered another ten copies from CreateSpace, and dropped a copy off to the local book shop to see if they were interested in promoting it.

I found that the print-to-order version on the Amazon site followed Amazon's usual delivery options and did not, after all, have to be delivered from the States. They are going to be printed in Europe so that's a bonus, regular P&P.

So, after being on sale for a few days, I have sold 4 print-to-order copies.

These numbers are so insignificant I cannot imagine why I should be in the least bit excited, but I am.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

A crit!

I got my first review on Amazon. It was good, with constructive thoughts about how to improve the book. and ... five stars!

Friday, 5 September 2014

Just when I'd resigned myself to BookRooster being a con, I get an email from them saying that they are busy distributing my book to reviewers that have showed an interest.

That's nothing conclusive either way but does give a glimmer of hope...

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Looking a little deeper into it, I find that Bookrooster is possibly a con and more than likely just overwhelmed with newly-published e-authors. That one goes down to experience I guess.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

So it's published!

I thought it would feel major. It sort of does.

I've been getting the word out to my friends and contacts but my detestation of social media is something of a handicap. How do I get Stephen Fry to mention my book? Hmmm.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Getting the reviews

I have spent hours searching numerous blogs about self-publishing looking for the fine detail of publishing on Amazon KDP and the advantages of KDP Select.

I like the KDP Select model since I am not bothered about trying to set up other distribution. My first conclusion was to publish in KDP Select and immediately give the book away to try to get some traffic and hopefully, reviews. However, it seemed that to get anyone to download it I need reviews in place on Amazon.

After some more looking, I came across, who, for an admin fee of $67 distribute free copies of your book to their members until you get ten reviews on Amazon from those members. You cannot let anyone distribute your book at all while in KDP Select, so I uploaded to Amazon without joining Select.

When and if I have some reviews through bookrooster, I will enrol the book in the KDP Select programme.

Monday, 25 August 2014

The subtitle has changed. Although I liked the sound of 'Cautionary Tale' it didn't truly reflect the contents.

The first read by someone other than myself has been done by my faithful editor (missus). Lots of little typos and nonsenses sorted out. A handful of excellent suggestions. One or two fairly heated disagreements. Still, all settled now and ready to go.

I have decided on a schedule. The publish button is ready to press on the KDP website. I now have a nail-biting time waiting to see if any of the half dozen friends who have said they will read it, actually do. Then, if they do, will they have any constructive feedback?
As and when I get that, I can go ahead and publish, and hopefully persuade them to leave reviews on Amazon.

Sunday, 24 August 2014


Now that I'm nearly done with editing, I started exploring the how-to of publishing on Kindle. I have to say that initially, it's baffling. There are so many options and so many opinions about what options are best. As I sifted through the opinions, I realised that I had to make a major decision.

What is my motive?

It seems a lot easier to come up with a motive for a character to do something in a story than to find one's own underlying motive. It's the same old story with any creative process whether it be writing, painting, photography, acting... We all want praise.

How do I measure praise?

Is it by the noise of the applause or the balance in the bank?

Saturday, 23 August 2014


When I finished George and the Dragon, I was delighted to be able to say to friends and acquaintances "I've written a novel" rather than "I'm writing a novel". To me, there's a world of difference. A sense of achievement rather than a sense of struggle.

Of course, now that I read it back over and over, I find that there are all sorts of little hiccups in the flow of it. At first, I had the feeling that it should stay as written, then realised that those hiccups are what make me stop reading a book.

So it's edit, edit, edit for the moment, while friends give me feedback (I hope) and my very own dragon goes through it with a red pen. Eek!

Friday, 22 August 2014

I started writing George and the Dragon back in the nineteen-eighties. I got stuck, put it aside, transferred it from 5.25" floppies to 3.5" floppies to Winchester drives to IDE drives, from computer to computer and told myself I would have the time to finish it sometime.

Then I saw a TV programme about Kindle Self Publishing two months ago and realised that what had held me back was not the writing but the thought of all the grief of finding an agent, printing manuscripts, sending them out, getting endless rejection slips and bruises to the ego.

I went back to where I was stuck and had a revelation - I was writing fiction and I could just invent something to get out of the blind alley. Suddenly, I was writing every day. I would go for walks and think about where the story was going to go next, start writing to that plan and almost immediately find the story going off in another direction.

I have now finished it and am getting friends to read it for feedback before I hit the go button on Amazon.