Sonntag, 28. September 2008

Right, I've read through the contract and this is the deal.
I send an edited version that's ready to print to the publisher, they will print it as it comes and then put it for sale on their website. It's called Print On Demand, (POD) and it means there'll be no copies in W.H.Smiths shelves to buy at Christmas; or any other high street book store for that matter.
You can only order online.

Ok, I hear you say, so what's the problem with that?
Well, firstly, the online store that counts the most, Amazon, is talking about not stocking any POD books if they're not printed by their inhouse POD printers. Secondly, who in the general public goes to writer websites to buy books? Nobody.
Who, outside of the writing community, has ever heard of or would even dream of going to a writing website anyway. Nobody.

Another bad point is that though the rights are all mine, to do with as I please, the price of the book however is in the hands of the publishers. So I might have a wonderfully packaged book with a cracker of a story in it, and nobody wants to buy it because the publishers have set the price at 25€.
I've sent a mail to the publishing firm and asked them what they're planning to charge. As yet there's been no reply but it is the weekend so I'll be patient.

There are other things to consider too. Although an agent might like the book and take me on, which has happened to other writers on the website, some people see POD as a form of vanity publishing. That means that the book has not been weighed and judged to be financially viable and that an agent and publishing house are not hoping to make money on the back of my talent, (or lack of...?)
There's a definite lack of kudos with vanity publishing in the writing community, but hey, when have I ever worried about what other people think of me?
Well, anyway, I'm in two minds on whether to do it or not. I have to get my book in by 31st october, but why rush it when I can go to, or any other website that deals in POD publishing, and print it when I want to AND have more control over what it costs etc etc etc...
Oh the weight of decision.
On the other hand, I recieve 60% of the royalties and with an agent and publishing house it would only be about 25-30%.
Also my mate The Chief can do all the artwork which will mean free publicity for him.
Thirdly, it is only my first book and I've got to think about what my chances are of actually getting a deal. It would be nice to see it in print just to get the whole sorry story behind me, I'm fed up of the whole Division of the Damned circus at the moment.
I have other geese to fry as they say in Uganda.

Just to put the publishing industry into perspective, this is the last rejection leter I recieved from a very good agent who I was holding a candle for:

Dear Mr Jones

As promised, I have finally had a chance to read your material – I do apologise for the delay. I can see the imagination at work here, but I can’t honestly say I loved it. After fifteen years in publishing before setting up the agency, I'm all too aware how difficult it is to get a publisher interested in a new writer, so I feel that I do have to love my clients' work - personally and professionally - to do the best possible job. If I don't feel that strongly, I'm the wrong agent. Publishing is a notoriously subjective business, and every new author needs both an agent and an editor who do love their work. It's hellishly difficult getting the bookselling chains to take a new novelist seriously, so that initial enthusiasm is vital.

There is nothing specific I can point at – it’s perfectly okay. But the entry level for a new novelist now is 'special', not 'good'. This is partially because sales and marketing directors have so much more power than they did ten years ago. If they don't believe they will be able to sell a first novel into W H Smiths and the rest of the bookselling trade in numbers, they'll block the editor from acquiring it in many companies. A senior editor told me a few weeks ago that even if he loved an author's writing, he wouldn't make an offer until the book that was submitted to him was 100% right for the market - he has just acquired an author whose previous four novels he (and everyone else in London) had turned down despite liking them a great deal. Thus, I have to believe the writers I take on are truly wonderful, or it's pointless submitting them. If an author’s prose doesn’t set me on fire, first and foremost, I say no, as do editors in this situation. Most UK editors see around thirty books every week and only take on one or two debut novels over an entire year.

FYI, I've taken on about forty writers as clients and turned down well over 4,000, so far...I know it can be as difficult to get an agent as it is to be taken on by a publisher. You just have to keep plugging away.

All best wishes for the future, and by the way I am about to head off on business until the evening on the 30th. Once again, apologies for not coming back more quickly.


The Good Agent

Well peeps, that's the story. Do I do it or not.
Print it and move on or rewrite the beginning and try for a deal in the traditional manner?

I've got to think about it.

I welcome your comments and suggestions.

Reg :-)

Freitag, 26. September 2008

It's a funny old game, innit?
Life I mean.
Yesterday I was the beetle at the bottom of the dunghill, looking up at the inconquerable heights of literary success.
However, today?
Well today I'm at the top of the heap with only a couple of pieces of poo between me and the summit.
That's right, somebody wants to publish my book!!!


Not thirty minutes after the crippling slap of my last rejection, my old mate Tee, (of THAT synopsis fame) gave me a swift kick up the butt and told me to get in touch with
Apparently they're printing people who have a book ready.
Steadying myself for another round of aspiration denial I sent a mail off, introducing myself and putting down a fifty (yes, fifty as in 50) word synopsis.
Fifty word synopsis.
Do you remember the agony and torment of the one page synopsis?
Well fifty words to portray the entire book was ridiculous to say the least. However I wittled it down to forty nine words and a couple of punctuation marks and sent it off.
Today I recieved one of the nicest shocks of my life, they want to print it !!!

To be continued...

Donnerstag, 25. September 2008

Well he answered.
Another ejection.
Nil Desper... oh shut up will ewe...
Still nothing.
I'm wondering to myself, did he mean "Friday" as in tomorrow?
It'd be nice if it was, lol.
Tee sent me an interesting website,
Apparently the first 5000 books sent in will be printed for free, as long as they're not crap of course.
The closing date is the 31st October. However, I'll wait for this agent to say ye or nay before I make a move methinks, it is only fair.
Right kids?
Right Reg. :-)
I had a look at the website and found a book, or proposed book, that spiked my interest by a chap called Guy Saville.
Set in 1948, it's all about the Nazis invading Africa, kicking out the other colonial powers and turning the Dark Continent into one massive labour camp to support the Third Reich.
Obviously there's more to it than that but it looks an interesting read.
It's called The Africa Reich, (a very unsatisfactory name if you ask me but a title is only as good as its content. I think I would have called it SS Africa or The AfricaN Reich but who the hell am I, right?)
Anyway, I'm defo going to look out for that on Amazon.
Hey, who knows, perhaps one day Guy Saville will be looking on Amazon for my book...
(Dream no small dreams for they have no power to move the hearts of men. Right on Mr. Goethe.)

Reg :-)

Montag, 22. September 2008

Still not heard anything.
They contacted me a couple of hours after I'd sent the mail and said they'd have an answer for me on Friday.
Well it's Monday now and I don't know if it's a good thing or not.
Fingers crossed, eh?

Donnerstag, 18. September 2008

I've sent the offending mail off.
Actually, it was a bit strange because the first mail I sent came back to me with the report that the email address had "fatal errors", whatever that's suppossed to mean.
So I sent it again and this time it arrived... I hope.
Well, Nil Desperandum, right kids?

Yesterday was spent in the hallowed halls of the origin of many a female wet dream, Ikea. We meandered through that den of Swedish iniquity for three hours! And while my wife and daughter let rip with squeals of delight at the collection of Nordic jumble they so garishly parade under the dubious label of furniture, I underwent the thousand deaths of ennui.
God, how I hate shopping.
However, I reckon that if they built a pub next door they'd make a killing. I could drop the girls off on a Saturday afternoon, watch the footy, quaff a few cool ones and then six hours later they could pour me back into the car for the drive home. We'd all be happy then as well; me with my sloshing beer belly and the girls with their yellow bags of trash.
It's a simple idea, but tinged with a modest brilliance that even Mr. Steven Hawkins would applaud.

Ah well, I survived it and that's the main thing.
However, if I had to choose between another afternoon of prolonged water torture at Ikea, or a day with a business of rabid ferets stuck down my paisley Y-fronts, well... I'd have to say...

... it'd be close.
Reg :-)

Samstag, 13. September 2008

I've written a rough draft of the mail I intend to send to the agency I sent my work to.
Nothing too dramatic, just something along the lines of asking what their policy is on rejection; will they contact me if they don't want to see the full manuscript or not?
It's not quite ready, I'm not too sure about the wording, but it will be be soon.

I was at the dentist yesterday and my teeth are still aching even now, as I write.
You have to ask yourself why did God put nerves, and bloody sensitive ones at that, in our ivories? Do you write "Ivories" like that? Is there such a word as "Ivories"?
Probably not.
Well, whatever, it makes absolutely no sense; I wonder if it's some kind of cosmic joke?
It's enough to know that I hate going to the tooth doctor full stop. I'm scared witless of the drill and I break out in a cold sweat as soon as I hear that shrill, spine-destroying, pain-heralding whine.
I think the man who invents a silent dentistry drill will probably make billions... Mmmm....

Right, I'm off to help my mate with his house, then it's night shift tonight too...
Bah, who'd be me, eh?
Reg :-/

Dienstag, 9. September 2008

Well I managed to get through it all and sort out the minor problems with the story.
Thank the heavens, it was really getting to me having to go back to cover my butt, as it were.

Still haven't heard from the agent I sent my M/S to.
I really don't know if this is a good sign or not.
Probably isn't but, well, who knows eh?
I'm thinking about what to write to him by way of a memory jog.
How about, "Hey, wake up butt brain.
What's with my work I sent ya?"

...Nah, probably not.

I'll have a think about it.
Lateshift today, not good.

Ah well, one day I'll be a millionaire and not have to do shifts ever again...

(Hey, come on, a man can dream can't he?)
Reg :-)

Donnerstag, 4. September 2008

It really is a strange situation to be in.
Let me explain, for once in my life I have the time to sit down, in perfect peace with no outside interference, and write to my hearts content.
I’m on the sick with a bad foot so I can’t work around the house, I can’t drive anywhere and obviously I can’t go to work. The kids are at school so there’s no TV on or Space Invader sound effects screamed up and down the living room. The wife is at work so I’m not being constantly reminded of the need to mow the lawn etc. etc.
So here I am, in front of my computer and nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing is forthcoming.
I’m drier than a bowl of baked Saharan sand where ideas are concerned.
Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaagh !

Well I did actually complete two whole pages yesterday but that was after a good five hours.
My other problem is that I don’t know much about the whole Gulag criminal hierarchy of that time.
It seems that certain criminal elements were actively used by the authorities to control the other prisoners.
There was a whole caste of professional criminal who were rather like the Mafia. These “Urki” as they were known as, almost ran the camps in the Gulag system. They didn’t work but made sure that others worked so what the system lost in discipline it made up for in productivity.
And then there was another class of convict who was held in even higher esteem called the,
“Vor v Zakone”, which means Thief in Law.
These guys ran the system. They were criminals but their influence ran through the entire chain of administration and they really were the Cosa Nostra of the Russian Steppes.
Who knows about these things?
Nobody, but I had to learn about them pretty sharpish and thus change my characters to incorporate them into the story.
The long term effects of male castration was another topic that reared its (very) ugly head as one of the bad guys was castrated while he served time in a Gulag.
However, I didn’t know that Eunuchs only have a high voice if they were castrated before puberty or that they developed longer limbs than most people due to a lack of the chemical that hardens the ligaments, so that had to be changed too.
It’s been hell, I can tell you. A drought of ideas, a revision of the story due to research deficiencies…
Who‘d be me, eh?
(Nobody if they had any sense…)
Reg :-)

Dienstag, 2. September 2008

Tee suggested that I give the agent a couple of weeks and then write to him again.
That sounds like a good idea so that's what I'll do.
I'll wait until the 12th or so and then send him a reminder. That's about two months so I don't think I'm rushing him.
My weekend was nice, apart from early shift. Earlies of Friday and Saturday and then a 40th birthday party to go to in the evening. We arrived home around three in the morning which meant I'd been on the go for twenty two and a half-ish hours. So Sunday I was pretty cream crackered, however, I soldiered on and invited a mate round for a small Barby.
More beer, more sleep deprivation.
Yesterday, on lateshift, I was living proof of life after death.
Such is life.
I'm going to take it easy for the next few days now and see what happens, writing-wise.
Reg :-)