‘In A Right State’ is now live on Amazon and awaiting your hard earned cash! Buy it, review it, retweet this, tweet something else, Facebook it, GoodReads it, Google Plus it, Friends Reunite it, MySpace it, write it on a toilet wall.
It’s only the price of a pint. There’s no froth, plenty of fizz, a good body with subtle hints of corporate conspiracy. You won’t get a headache and you shouldn’t get the runs*
It’s available at your nearest Amazon.
If you’re a book reviewer and want a free copy, let me know.
* Not guaranteed.
OK, I’m really close to getting this thing launched, so here’s the cover.
Isn’t she a beauty!
My good friend Emery designed this and I’m so happy with it. It’s an illustration of an actual scene in the book but also gets across the general themes and ideas.
I’m no scholar of book cover design but just by looking at this you can get a pretty good idea of what it’s about.
Maybe I’m at an advantage because I wrote it.
Not only did Emery design a front cover, the cheeky blighter also designed a back cover! This is going to be the only ebook with a back cover too.
So this gives me the ideal opportunity to debut the blurb too…
This is coming together nicely. I love it when a plan comes together.
The editor has returned a copy-edited manuscript and the cover is well on the way to being designed, so D-Day is fast approaching. This has got me thinking about the nuts and bolts of the ebook itself.
First I need to put the ebook together as an HTML document, then think about getting it uploaded to iBooks and Amazon but what about extras? Ebooks are capable are containing content other than words and if I’m going to try to stick my head above all the other ebooks out there, wouldn’t some original, different content be one way of doing this?
I’ve only read one ebook novel that had content other than words, it was a collection of short stories by Kafka and each story was proceeded by a short video about Kafka’s life. I thought it was quite good but I don’t think this would work as part of a novel as it would keep taking you out of the story (You could have content during the story if it was part of the story but that’s another matter…albeit a very interesting one).
So the extra content has to be after the main event, not a distraction.
It’s surprising how little there is. I’ve read a few ebooks recently and most of them don’t even have a link to the author’s website let alone any specially created content. Right there on the last page you’ve finished the authors work, you feel a connection, you want to know more about the person who wrote it and then…bam! You’re dumped, left alone to simply find another book. Why not harness this positive feeling?
Here are some ideas I’ve come up with for extra content;
- Interview video – this is probably the most obvious one. Either someone interviewing the author about the book or the author responding to questions asked by readers online. How often do you finish a novel and wanted to know why X did Y, or why it was based in W, or why they named Z. If you really don’t want to be on camera then do an audio interview.
- Location tour video – this is one I’ve thought of as I’ve based my novel in Worthing which is an unusual location. It’s not really, but London gets so much attention that basing anything outside London is probably ‘unusual’. Anyway, name another story based in Worthing since ‘Wish You Were Here‘?
- Cover drafts – show how the cover evolved.
- Book Commentary – like a DVD commentary talking about stand out scenes, how something got completely changed, where scenes got deleted, easter eggs, go through handwritten notes too, etc. Probably best to avoid a Noel Gallagher approach until after you’ve made a couple of million.
- Twitter Hashtag - #IveJustFinishedInARightState, this can be added to as and when people finish the book and want to leave comments or ask questions at that vital moment – not a review on GoodReads or Amazon, or a blog post, just a simple comment. An interview that never stops. Readers can discuss the novel in an open forum, maybe the author can get involved too.
- A link to author’s website – duh.
- Jump Off Points - if your novel addresses issues, covers a period of history, an industry, a country, etc then point readers in the directions you took as part of your research.
Can you think of any others? What would YOU like to see from an author? From me?!
I’m betwixt and between writing projects at the moment. ‘In A Right State’ has gone to my editor for copy-editing and I’m not going back to my 3rd novel, ‘Blindsided’, for a second draft until I’ve released In A Right State into the wilds of Amazon, iBookstore, et al.
Saying I’ve nothing to write isn’t technically true (it never is for a writer I don’t think) I’ve got to write the blurb for ‘In A Right State’ but that’s proving to be a right old headache so I’m procrastinating…here goes…
The final book I read last year was ‘The Doors Of Perception’ by Aldous Huxley which, although starting off quite good, descended into too much philosophising and not enough ‘I just want to see what you wrote off your face‘.
Then I remembered. I’ve written whilst off my face on acid. I hunted through my storage boxes and found the papers and here they are below. 8 pages of A4 taking you through the journey of up high and then coming down.
The evening started off as another night in Sunny Worthing. Some ‘strawberries’ acquired, we queued for the cinema to watch Terminator 2 – Judgement Day. By the time we got to the front, it was full and we couldn’t get in, which looking back on it, was a fortunate outcome as the ceiling of the entrance hall appeared to contain drifting sand and we could swear there was a hunchback bloke ahead of us. I soon lost my mate whilst waiting outside a pub, so ventured home into a bubble of music, ciggies and a cup of tea, but mainly to keep out the way of ‘other people’.
This is the story of ‘Judgement Day’.
One of the first comments I got back from my editor on her critique of ‘Railroaded’ was; the title needs changing.
She put it better than that. For a near-future sci-fi novel with no trains, railways, railroad companies or the like, it sounds a bit antiquated…and confusing.
I chose ‘Railroaded’ because it’s about how everyone is getting led by companies into doing things that aren’t in their best interest. She stated the problem wasn’t the reasoning behind the title, it was that the title could be misleading on it’s own.
It all made terribly sound, good sense, so I was compelled to think of a new title.
Do you know how hard that is? It’s been known as ‘Railroaded’ since 2007, when the first draft was getting started, and now I had to change it! How?
In my notes I already had a few pages of potential new titles I brainstormed a few years ago when I made a half-hearted effort to come up with a new title. I looked through the thesaurus and kept my ears open for words I liked. I had the title, ‘The Acquiesced’, for a few weeks but wasn’t 100% confident about it. I’m not sure how I actually came up with ‘In A Right State’, it’s not on that list of brainstormed titles, I think it just came to me one day so I let it sit, mulling it over until it started to sit comfortably.
I double checked it with Sophie, my editor, and she said yes. So it’s a goer!
I like that it works on two levels. Firstly, in a literal sense of the story being about a country under a right leaning, very small government, controlled by capitalism. Secondly, the playful, humorous slang meaning of the country being in a mess.
Also, the title makes absolutely no reference to trains, railways or railroad companies…just like the novel itself.
Now I’m here with a new title, the bulk of the editing done, starting the cover design process and feeling a whole lot happier with the book than before. I also changed one of the main character’s names too, because, what the hell, when you’re editing, everything’s up for negotiating, right?
I’m in the middle of editing my first novel after getting feedback from my hired editor, and in a quest for some major procrastination, I’ve decided to take a pit-stop and write this post.
The project is to self-publish my first novel.
The goal is to self-publish it with some degree of professionalism, not just slam the 4th draft up on Amazon with a cover made in Paint.
To do this I’ve hired an editor to give me feedback and then complete a copy-edit. I’ve also got a professional designer to do me a cover (once I finalise the title). I’m going to put the ebook together myself as I used to be a web developer plus I’m interested in the process. I’ll also do the marketing myself as I used to work in internet marketing and I’m looking forward to this part almost as much as the actual writing of the thing. Ironically, my favourite ideas are all offline.
I’ve given myself a budget of £1000. I can’t really imagine doing this for much less unless you have friends who owe you big favours…see next… £600 for editing, cover for free because I have a wicked designer mate who I also did a website for, and then £400 for marketing and other sundries.
What defines success?
I have different levels of success in my mind;
Moderate Success - Releasing a professional ebook on Amazon is my No.1 goal and the whole point of this exercise. Even if I don’t sell one copy (well, two, my Mum will buy one…I hope) then I’ll be gutted but this whole process has already proven a worthwhile exercise in my writing development and gaining knowledge. Having an ebook to promote on my own website will look better than having none, plus being able to tell people to search my name on Amazon and for them to find something professional at the end of it is a noble cause (even if there is more than one ‘Ben Ellis’ on there).
Success – Selling 50+ ebooks and getting 5 or more 4/5 star reviews on Amazon would be great.
Blinding Success – Selling 250+ ebooks, getting 20+ good reviews on Amazon, getting some reviews and recommendations on other sites, some positive tweets and general good feedback.
Mega Massive Unbelievable Success – Breaking even.
I’m not even going to think about levels of success exceeding this. I did that when I first sent this novel out to agents back in 2009 and was half-heartedly acknowledged with muted indifference by only a handful.
I’m now a shell of hardened rejection encapsulating a colourless, humourless void.
I think I’m ready.
The first step in getting my first novel self-published was to find an editor to knock it into shape and make it half-readable and, hopefully, sellable.
But how? I’ve never done this sort of thing.
I searched the internet and got a kinda confused mess of all sorts, eventually narrowing it down to 3 really good starting points;
- Mediabistro - GalleyCat’s Freelance Editor Directory
- CreativePenn - list of editors
- SfEP - Society of Editors and Proofreaders
From this list I set myself a few criteria of ‘must haves’;
- Sci-fi – my first novel is a near-future dystopian story (or so I thought, more on that in another post) so obviously I didn’t want a children’s editor, but I also wanted one who had actively listed sci-fi as an interest.
- British – my book is set in England, has British humour, British references, etc. I didn’t want to complicate the whole process by having a foreign editor come back with ‘I don’t understand bollocks’. Neither do I mate.
- Reasonably priced – not cheap, but I have a budget.
- A Developmental/Big Picture/Critique edit – there’s different types of editing. I wanted a critique of the whole novel and copy-editing, not necessarily by the same person though.
- SfEP Qualified – after some searching and learning more, I thought an editor with this qualification would guarantee some level of professionalism. It wasn’t essential but as a total stranger in this world, it did give me a little more confidence.
I thought I’d whip up a quick post with links to a couple of playlists I created in iTunes as a follow up to this previous post back in December 2010, ‘Some of my writing playlists‘, but iTunes appear to have totally destroyed that facility.
So, instead, you’ll just have to do with a screenshot of iTunes and then go hunt the tunes yourself, if you feel so inclined. Not sure where the progress is in all this but who am I to criticise Apple?
The following 3 playlists are mainly deep house as I seem to require a groove to keep the words flowing and the procrastinating stunted.
This is the forth writing playlist I created, so I called it ‘Foursight’. As you’ll see, I’ve stuck with this quirky/unoriginal numbering/naming convention. I created this one in-between novels I think.
Essential download: Lamur (Henry Saiz Remix) – Guy J
A Bunch of Fives
This one fuelled the first half of Blindsided.
Essential download: Simulation – Roisin Murphy
Six of the Best
This one kept the fires burning for the second half of Blindsided.
Essential download: Heartbreaker – Crazy P
I’m already in the middle of compiling ‘Lucky No.7′ for the second draft of Blindsided.
Let me know what tunes you listen to, especially if they’re house/ambient related and have a groove that would make the jackboot stamping down on Winston Smith’s face, at least do it rhythmically.
I’m not a full-blown grammar Nazi so I’m going to refer to myself as a grammar panda since recently reading ‘Eats, Shoots and Leaves‘ by Lynne Truss, mainly in preparation for redrafting one novel and self-publishing another, thinking I need a refresher in all this boring, technical stuff.
I have a basic knowledge of punctuation and a personal style sheet but I’m in no way an advanced student of grammar or language. I don’t know anything about past participles, future perfect, my limit is that verbs are ‘doing words’. If that’s not right, then I’m fucked.
It’s like learning scales in music or the offside rule in football; it’s boring but it has to be done if you don’t want to look like an idiot.
You see what I just did there? I used a semi-colon. Not a colon or a comma, or a dash or ellipses. Why? I’m not sure. A comma isn’t enough because it’s not a flowing sentence that requires a ‘breather’, the words following the semi-colon are a ‘reflective thought’ on the words proceeding the semi-colon. I never use a dash. I only seem to use ellipses in speech to indicate a longer pause than a comma can achieve. So a semi-colon it was and so it shall remain.
But that’s the thing that came out of reading ‘Eats, Shoots and Leaves‘, there are some hard and fast rules (capital letter at the beginning of a sentence, full-stop at the end, apostrophes) but surprisingly a lot of it is down to personal preference…within reason.
This is only in regards to grammar though. Not spelling. Apart from the odd spelling differences between countries, there’s no personal preference on how to spell miscellaneous or definitely.
Reassuringly, in that book Lynne Truss does state that British education didn’t bother with all this grammar stuff much so we usually have a poor grasp of it. This confirms why when speaking to some foreigners about English they might enquire, “How do you modify the adjective when it’s in the past?”
“You what mate?”
If you asked me to dissect these sentences highlighting the verbs, adjectives, nouns, conjunctives, etc, I’d have to simply run away, screaming.
Agents and publishers don’t read this, right?
So, anyway, here’s my personal style sheet and interpretation of the rules:
- Strict on speech marks indicating speech and quote marks used for quoting. The clue’s in the name.
- I never start a sentence with and or but. In the panda book it stated that this is a bit of an old rule but I’m sticking with it. I only stopped using double-spacing after a full-stop a couple of years ago (still think it looks better but apparently it’s a massive faux-pas).
- Not a fan of the Oxford comma but since seeing images like this, I’m wavering. It just looks so ugly though!
- I’m determined not to have any hyphenated words in my self-published ebook because of spacing/justifying issues. I’d rather use a different word than have that.
- Never use dashes. I think it’s more of an American thing but I’ve never felt the need for one where I could use a comma, brackets or ellipses instead. I suppose I might in a blog post if I was posting an editorial response to something – Oooo! Look at Mr. Big Nuts!
- Double dashes? Holy shit, no.
- Don’t use more than one exclamation mark but will pair an exclamation mark with a question mark. Really?! Yes!!!!!! (Blog posts excepted).
- Never use a colon in a sentence, only to indicate a forth-coming list.
- Only use a semi-colon in a sentence when the last part being semi-colonised is some kind of reflection, or a step outside, the proceeding part of the sentence.
- Use italics to emphasise that this word may look like an error or totally screw up a concept but, in fact, it doesn’t on a second reading. eg. used on misspellings or made-up words such as ‘semi-colonised’ or when referring to a word with two meanings or which may cause confusion.
- Only use an apostrophe when pluralising a word that ends with S, eg. ‘Jesus’ codpiece fell to the floor’. I wouldn’t add a second S, just looks weird.
That’s 11 rules there. I should have called this blog post, ’11 grammar rules for writers’ but since I don’t want agents and publishers to see this the last thing I want are loads of visitors.
What are your own interpretations of these grammar rules and others? Am I doing anything blatantly wrong? What rules have I not addressed which requires the opinion of someone who refers to himself as a’ grammar panda’?
I’ve only just finished the first draft of Blindsided so there’s a couple of drafts to go before any beta readers are going to see it, but I’m not afraid of revealing my initial concept this early. It’s just to show that from a fairly simple idea a whole novel can sprout forth; give someone a problem and then find out how they deal with it, how it affects them, affects others, drives them, limits them, etc.
It’s funny because this blog post from December 2011, ‘Novel 3: Before the absolute beginning‘, containing a few thoughts I was having for the 3rd novel, bares absolutely no resemblance to the completed first draft. I think that’s because those thoughts are based around events which of themselves don’t tell an interesting fictional story; that first paragraph introduces a character you can build a story around.
That paragraph from my notebook is dated May 2012 so after 6 months of thinking and finishing the 2nd novel, I’d come up with a completely different concept for the 3rd. I then finished writing (procrastinating) in my notebook and started the actual first draft in September 2012, ‘Novel 3 is Go, Go Go!‘.
If you use this as the starting point for your novel, it would probably end up in a whole different place. So go for it if you want…you can’t copyright ideas. Writers are much more guarded than this but I’m no-one at the bottom with nothing to lose and thought it might be interesting to release a brief glimpse into the wild.
If you’re interesting in illegible, gobbledegook notes then check out this post featuring notes from my previous 2 novels, ‘Illegible Chapter by Chapter Planning Notes‘.
That’s it really.
No, I have absolutely no idea what my 4th novel might be about. I’m not panicking…yet.