The pub in The Money Star

The early drafts of the Money Star were written while I lived in a flat above a pub on Leather Lane, the next road west from Hatton Garden.
And it's on Hatton Garden, down an alleyway that you could easily walk past if you didn't know it was there, that this gem of a pub can be found if you look closely enough.

Here's the view from the street.

You can see why this place is easily missed.
It's the last place on Earth that The Money Star hero Sye Remnant enjoys a pint.
Does he ever make it back and reunite with landlord Gordon and best mate Edgar?
Don't ask me. I only wrote the thing.

The 'A Different Voice For Each Character' Myth

I've been spoonfed to the point of sickness the advice to make each character sound distinctive in terms of what they say, and how they say it.

But wait a minute. Of all the novels and screenplays I've ever read, there's been very little to distinguish one character's dialogue from the next, unless they have a stutter, a really foul mouth or an absinthe-strong dialect.

And is it really that important that each character speaks in a noticeably different way? Is a book really spoiled by having characters speak in a similar way?

The more I think about it, the more this sounds like another of those myths that theorists trot out to fill space in their 'how to' books, and one that pro writers just plain ignore.

(There's another myth of writing here, in case you mythed it.)

Twitter: Is there any point following fellow indie authors?

Being a bit green and wet behind the ears when it comes to this Twittering business, I'm discovering things as I go along, and I write this for those of you reading it in the future (hello, I'm Jon Lymon, and I'm probably a bit dead now) so you don't make the same mistakes.

One thing I've discovered is that the people most keen to follow me are fellow self-published authors.
I've been happy to follow back and have even initiated a few follows myself.

But I'm using Twitter to try and raise my profile and sell a few ebooks. And for my money, fellow authors aren't going to be up for buying my stuff (just as I'm not really up for buying their stuff). So why am I bothering?

I don't have an answer to that question right now. I suppose it's a case of wanting as many followers as poss. But recently, I've tried a change of tack and have started to follow avid readers, book bloggers, people into thrillers and horrors.

Problem is not many of these are following back.

Even bigger problem: since upping my Twitter usage, I've sold precisely zero books.

The 'Write About What You Know' Myth

There's been a mini backlash against the old adage about writing about what you know recently. And I'm right behind it.

The only thing I like about rules is breaking them. When it comes to writing, anyway.
(I'm a law abiding citizen of course, allegedly.)

But writing about what you know is so limiting, not to mention potentially dull, unless you've got SAS, KGB or FBI on your CV.

I know shit about travelling into space to hunt down an asteroid made of diamond. So is that what I've written in The Money Star? (Yes, some might think it's shit.)

Surely we should be writing about WHO we know. Combining traits from people we're close to, have met or have seen on a train to form recognisable characters (not too recognisable though - like I said, I abide by that thing called the law.)

Then we should be putting these characters into places and situations that are created or enriched by our imaginations. Shouldn't we?

Next in this almost certain to be shortlived series of rule breaking posts: The 'Never Start A Book With Dialogue' Myth or something more interesting.

The Money Star is out there.

And if this article is anything to go by, it's way bigger than an asteroid...

Self-Publishing And Twitter - Early Days

About a month ago, I made a decision to up my Twitter usage, to see what happened. (Yeah, bit late, get with it, blah, blah, I know).

I wanted to see if Twitter could get my name out there and maybe boost sales of my books on Kindle or Smashwords.

I had a whole three followers before I started this, and was following about 10 people, mainly famous folk – Stephen Fry of course, Simon Pegg, some other amusing folk. 

So, without further ado, even though there hasn't been a single ado in this post yet, here’s what’s happened since:

I’m now hovering around the 100 followers mark. Mostly fellow self-published authors. But also the occasional Russian lady.

I’m already conscious that repetitive promotional tweets of my books may be putting off some followers and tempting them to click that dreaded unfollow button. So I keep them to a minimum and make sure they’re bloody interesting.

I’ve clicked on plenty of links suggested by tweets from some of the 130 odd people I’m now following. Usually useful tips and advice about self-publishing.

I haven’t bought any of the books some of the people I’m following have tweeted about. But I have clicked on a fair few links. (With all this writing and working to be done, I don’t get to read much.)

Some authors constantly retweet the same tweets selling their books. At the moment, that’s fine with me. Probably because I’m doing the same sort of thing.

The number of followers I’ve had fluctuates. I expect some people get pissed off with any kind of book promotion and just, well piss off and unfollow me. Fair enough.

I've turned into a Follower Hunter. I started off with a Tweet and Wait policy. Put something witty out there and wait for the followers to flood in. They trickled. So I had to get all proactive.

Of the 100 odd Tweets I’ve twittered on about over the past month, 1 has been retweeted.

But here’s the bottom line, which is why I’ve put it at the bottom and made it look like a line:

I haven’t sold any extra books. 

Is Writing Killing You?

According to this article on BBC News, it could be.

I don't know many (if any) people who write while standing up or doing anything other than sitting down.

And we all know how engrossing this business can be. You can really get into what you're writing and before you know it, it's dark outside, the dogs are whimpering for water and you've completely forgotten to do that other thing you were meant to be doing (whatever it was).

The article offers no solutions other than don't sit down so much, which surely translates to don't write so much. And let's face it, that's not an option.

So are we all prepared to die for our art?

One In A Million, Yeah, That's What You Are

Ahhh, it's great being referred to as 'one in a million' isn't it? Proves you're a rare gem. Someone who stands out by being different.

However, take the phrase at face value and things take a nasty turn. Because being just one among a million makes standing out nigh on impossible. You're just part of the crowd.

But, my fellow self-pubbers, that's the situation each of us faces. Our name is but one among a million wannabe authors. Our latest book but one among a million wannabe bestsellers. Our blog just one among a million wannabe favourites.

Would you back a million to one shot? That'd be the equivalent of putting your money on a one-legged elderly mare in a horse race brimming with shiny Grand National or Kentucky Derby winning specimens.

You'd have to be seriously deluded to think you could win.

Just as us unknown writers have to be suffering serious delusions to think we can overcome those odds and make our name and our work stand out from the rest.

Blatant Self Promotion

What the hell, this is my blog and this is the blurb for my one (and so far only) work of non-fiction.

Gets Up Your Nose And Curls Your Toes is the ideal read for grumblers, gripers, moaners and whiners.

And the Second Edition now has a whopping 80 things to moan about. That’s more than the last version, but less than the next, making it the ideal reference book for moaners looking for fresh ammunition with which to reload their moanchine guns or rediscover their moanjo.

There’s even a special reader offer at the end, which isn’t that special, but makes up for the lack of an index.

With so much value, insight and humor packed in, you would have thought there’d be nothing to moan about. But, unfortunately (for the author) there is. The price. Dirt and cheap spring to mind.

As you've made the effort to read this blog, you can get the book for FREE here, just by entering the code UH58G.

A Deluge Of Delusion

That’s what every self-publishing author is up against.

Because every day, hundreds, thousands of people are uploading their novels, truly believing their work is better than everyone else’s out there.

These are books that, but for the advent of e-publishing, would have remained in bottom drawers, under beds or just as computer files in 99.9% of cases.

But now they are all out there, some with half decent covers to dress them up. Some written by people who’ve never studied their craft, never trawled through twelve drafts, nor agonized over the wording of every sentence before inflicting their work on the public.

The challenge is how to get noticed amid this deluge. How to elevate your work above the tat.

I haven’t worked it out yet.

And I may be deluding myself by thinking it’s even possible.

Like most writers, I'm a shit at sales

I wanna write, not sell. Selling’s for salespeople, who wear ties and drive around all day and pull over into laybys for polystyrene and paper-packed lunches.

That life’s not for me. I wanna write write write until the sun goes down, the cows come home and other such cliches.

Recipe for anonymity that.

Who’s going to raise awareness of my books? Who’s going to tell people they’re out there and that they’re worth taking a look at? Not the guy in the layby. He’s too busy tucking into his cheese and tomato sandwich, figuring out a way to sell double glazed windows to people who just ain't interested. 

If he ain't doing my selling, and if I ain’t doing my selling, Mr Fucking Nobody is doing my selling.

I’ve got to dirty my hands. Spend time I’d rather be writing, on looking for ways to get people to read, review, and rate my shit. (These are the new 3R’s by the way. I just invented them, there and then. But that’s another post.)

The only person who can get my name out there, is me. Me, me, me. It really is all about me, me, me.

Thinking anything else would make me more deluded than I already am. Which, for the record, is very very deluded indeed.

Fellow self publishers: it's us against them.

Fellow self-publishers generating but a handful of sales. You are not my enemy. And I am not yours.

It is those who populate the top tens and top hundreds of the sales charts that we must aim for. It is their readership we want. Authors with agents fighting their corner. And hardbacks bearing their name. Authors with readers in their thousands who default to their titles because they’ve heard of them, or they've read something by them before, or a friend has said 'you should check them out', or they've got more five star ratings than a Michelin hotel guide.

These are the authors we want to become. These are the readers we must tempt with our words and our stories.

And we must feel no bitterness, only joy when one of our number breaks through. Hits the big time. For they are blazing a trail. Showing us it can be done. Giving us hope that it is we who will be next.

Proof: The truth isn't stranger than my fiction.

I’ve adopted this as my tagline for the next few days, or until I find a newer, and better one. Which could take months/years/never happen.

I’m currently embroiled in writing novel number three and needed a scene where an elderly farmer is eaten by his farm animals.

Frankly, the idea sounded ridiculous. Farm animals don’t eat humans do they? I risked losing my audience right at the start, which is where I needed this scene to go. No one would buy/believe such foolery.

But having criticized them earlier in the week for blatantly promotingJK Rowling’s new book on their news bulletin, I now find myself having to thank the BBC for drawing my attention to this story, straight out of Oregon, USA.

Still Deluded.

How many new books get uploaded to Amazon or Smashwords every day?
Every single day of every single week. Thousands of books by unknowns, wannabe's, those on the road from anonymity.
And every single author reckons their work has the chance of becoming the next big thing, the next number one seller.
Yet 99.9% of these will sell nothing, or next to nothing, which is, like, 1, isn't it?
Insurmountable odds. Ridiculous in fact.
You have to be deluded to think you are going to get anywhere with so much opposition.
There are only X amount of book readers in the world. Y should any of them bother with a book by a Z-lister when there are hundreds being released through proper publishers every year, written by authors at least a few people have heard of?
Might as well give up now.
And some will.
Some will say fuck that, what's the point, can't be arsed.
And I totally understand that point of view. I've even thought it myself.
But I can't bring myself to jack it in.
Not yet.

Createspace. Any point?

Now, much as I'd like to say I write to be read, and want as many people as possible to read my stuff, there's no doubt that it'd be nice to make a little bit of pocket money out of this business.

And that's what the digital versions of my books are currently doing, with the emphasis very much on 'little'. At the moment.

But what about good old print? It's still the most popular medium for the vast majority of readers, I suspect, though I have no evidence to support this. So it figures that it's a good idea to give your readers format options, right? No access to Kindles or Nobos or iPads or whatever? Nobo problem. Just look me up on Createspace and there's a good old paper version for you.

Trouble is, it works out very expensive. To make even a few pence profit out of it,  an author has to price their books upwards of $6. And given punters can get books by established authors for around that, or even less, who the hell is going to shell out that much for a book by an unknown? I've even seen some books going for upwards of $16.

That hasn't stopped me from producing a createspace version of The Money Star, of course (remember, I AM DELUDED). But it does stop me bothering to check my sales figures. Because unless I catch someone crazily drunk, or in an insanely generous mood, I'm not going to shift shit.

Which is why I haven't even bothered putting a link to my createspace page here.

100% OFF The Money Star this weekend.

Am I serious, or seriously fucked up?


But the truth remains this, The Money Star is free, totally free, this weekend.

All you've got to do is enter the code HZ87C here.

Then you can read all about Sye Remnant being up where he doesn't belong - in space and in a race to be the first to reach an asteroid made of diamond.

Good luck.

BBC gives JK Rowling Free Advertising.

 There was I, watching the evening news, trouble in Syria and the like, then on comes an item about JK’s new book. A big close up of the cover on screen and an interview with the author.
Now, the cover’s pretty bright and I’m sure the book’s very good. I’m also sure the Potter series deserves all the plaudits it’s got.
But is the BBC fucking news the place for this sort of thing?
Is it news? Or just blatant promotion?
The Beeb is supposed to be impartial and everything, yet here’s a clear example of them favouring one book over the millions of others out there.
And there are millions of authors out there who’d kill for this sort of publicity. I’d personally take a two second flash of the cover of either of my books before the weather forecast.
So, BBC, in the interests of impartiality, get in touch with me and I’ll send you a jpeg of my book covers. Put either one on your news show, before the weather, even during the fucking weather, I don’t mind. Thanks.

As featured on the impartial BBC News:

As not featured on the impartial BBC News:

SPOILER ALERT: Last Night At The Stairways

You won’t find the city that’s the setting for Last Night At The Stairways on Google Maps.
Or on that new mapping system they’re using on the iPhone 5 (slightly less surprising).

Turpenton is nowhereland. And so’s its neighbour West Bertram.

But, the eponymous club does exist. Sort of.

The name’s taken from a club I used to frequent in the early 1990s in South Croydon.
The Stairway (not plural) was above The Blue Anchor pub, (now the Treehouse) which used to be the only pub where students hung out in central Croydon. There really was very little choice back then, except maybe The Blacksmiths Arms (now The Edge).

Here’s the place as it looks today, with the club entrance to the left of the orange sign. The club’s now called Upstairs.

The layout of the club in the story is based on the Loop Bar, on Crown Hill, a road that does exist and is in the story.

Here’s a recent shot of Crown Hill. The black shop façade on the left is the strip club, mentioned in the book. Next to it, just behind the guy in the white shirt is the pale green entrance to the Loop, through which a staircase leads straight up into the club.

And it’s this club on which I’ve based the layout of the club in Last Night At The Stairways.

Here’s a shot of the bar, against which quite a few clubbers have the life crushed out of them. You can almost hear the vertebrae snapping. OK, maybe you can’t

The Money Star and its genre. I've finally done something about it.

The umm-ing and arr-ing finally has a full stop after it. (There it is.)

With The Money Star awkwardly straddling several genres (sci-fi, thriller, heist), and its sales suffering as a result, I've finally decided to up the sci-fi, mainly by inserting a new first chapter.

After all, I'm selling this thing as a race to be the first to reach an ultra-valuable asteroid in outer space.

However, a lot of time in the first few chapters is being devoted to establishing my main character, as I attempt to make him if not likable then at least interesting enough to want to find out what happens to him.

Let's see if this new opening makes any difference at all to how the novel is perceived...

Special Offer: 50% OFF My New Novel

Am I mad, deranged, just plain off my rocker?
Well, me old cocker, quite possibly.
But what the hell. My new horror novel Last Night At The Stairways is now available for just $0.99 right here.
To claim your 50% discount, enter code SP82W prior to completing the purchase.
It's that easy.
But hurry, like a strong cheese carelessly left out of the fridge, the discount will only last a couple of days.

Some Interesting Stuff About KDP Select

Here are the results of a survey into KDP Select carried out by Freebooksy.
The results I got from The Money Star are way below average, though I have only one review, and the findings here recommend 10-15!
With two more days of my second three month stint to go, that'll be it for The Money Star and KDP Select for the foreseeable future. Gonna try it out on Smashwords, with a new opening chapter to boot.

Quote Unquote

I am not very good at remembering who said what. And I've probably got this quote wrong, but it's interesting nonetheless. Here goes:

All novels are, in some way, about the novel-writing process.

I think the rationale was that because it takes so long to write a novel, and that it dominates your life to such an extent, you can't fail to refer to or write about the process, subconsciously or otherwise, somewhere along the way.

The Difference Between Those Who Write And Those Who Think They Can't Write

It's all about getting it right first time.
Those who write don't mind getting down some crap on the page. They know they're going to rewrite and rewrite and rewrite until they get it, well, right.
Those who think they can't write get frustrated by a blank page. They won't put anything on it until they think it's perfect, and often, that means nothing gets put on the page at all.
To write, you've got to be prepared to write crap first. And you've got to believe that the crap will turn into something better over time.

First Draft vs Final Draft, PART II

My word, here I go giving away words for free. The kind of words in the kind of order that people have already paid good money for.

But it's all for a good cause, I reckon. To explore the changes that an opening of a novel goes through as it's shaped and given greater focus.

I'm currently happy with how this opening reads, but as time passes and as the need for me to position The Money Star more clearly in one genre, I'm getting itchy feet and feeling the need to amend again, to make it either more sci-fi or more heist right from the start.

Enough already. Here's the opening to The Money Star as it now stands.

What the diamond robbers lacked in equipment and experience, they made up for with their desperation and determination.
Simon Remnant was not one of them. But he was acutely aware of their fumbling presence in the jewellers next door to the café outside of which he was toying with a late fried breakfast, feeling every one of his forty-six years following another evening wasted getting wasted.
He had been sitting at the table for nearly two hours, catching the autumnal sun rays that managed to beam between some of central London’s lowest high rises. During that time, he’d been forced to shoot several smiles at the little girl sitting with legs swinging at the next table. She was determined not to take her eyes off him, staring like he was an outcast here in his own neighbourhood. Trying to figure him out. Who was he? What was with his old face and his streaky grey hair? Where were all his friends and why was he pushing his food around his plate like her mother told her not to?
In between glances down Greville Street to the junction with Hatton Garden, Remnant demonstrated his disappearing napkin trick, much to the girl’s fascination and her mother’s consternation. It was a trick he’d perfected while trying to entertain his own little girl some twenty years before.
After another performance, he looked down at a sheet of paper that had held his attention periodically for the past week. What to say, what to say about her? ‘This is the proudest day of my life.’ That was a good start, but was that a word, proudest? Edgar would know.
He looked up to see the girl’s mother pointing out the bits of blueberry muffin her daughter should be eating while berating an absent father on her mobile phone.
A yell from within the jewellers and the sprinkle of a necklace falling on concrete diverted Remnant’s fragile attention. His first thoughts were for the audacity of the raid. Straight in the front door, bold as brass bracelets, middle of the day. They had to be amateurs. 

First Draft vs Final Draft PART I

So how much change does a novel go through as the drafts slip by? No point pontificating on the matter. I'll show you, by posting the opening few paras of the first chapter of my debut novel today, The Money Star (Ccccclang!!! There I go dropping the name again), and the opening para of the latest, published draft tomorrow, creating the first ever cliffhanger in this blog's history.

It's worth remembering that I would have been happy with how this first draft opening was shaping up at the time.


1. Edgar’s Riches

‘Parts for sale here. Space and human’

             ‘The Whittington’ crashed in a treasure chest of flames onto the steps of St. Paul’s Cathedral in the early hours. The charred body parts, burnt bones and sinew of the crew littered the ancient grey stone cobbles. Fried metallic wings lay bent amid discarded fried chicken wings. The nuclear-powered engine smoked over smoked cigarettes, and warped computer chips lay scattered among a greased bundle of discarded cod and chips.
            Those who witnessed the impact were either too drunk to notice, too blasé to care, or too eager to salvage parts of the vessel for their own ends. Two kids on skateboards made off with a rusty box that had been thrown clear of the wreckage by the force of the crash. The only witness to take any interest in the welfare of the crew, whose blackened limbs and livers, lungs and legs he’d have to sweep up was Edgar.
            Like other roadsweepers, the one thing Edgar never swept was the road. Gutters, pavements, tree-bases, bridges, they were his stock trade. The road? Too dangerous. ‘Stick to the pavements’ the boss and wife would say.  Edgar was used to looking down for his living. Down at the chewing gum circles he couldn’t shift. The sun-pinked Coke cans. The russet green leaves. The pennies and the pounds. Broken chains of gold silver platinum and worthless plastic that all blended into the same detritus of life. Folded, rain-soaked papers that occasionally looked like fifty-pound notes, but never were. Bits of foil masquerading as five pence coins, the fall-out from a night out, some space head stealing a line off a car bonnet or atop a racing green telecoms cabinet.
            Edgar knew he could always make a little bit on the side from the things he picked up. A little bit on the sidewalk his American counterparts might say. He knew there was enough silver and copper on the streets of London to tide a man over. To buy himself a coffee once a week. Especially round here, near the tourist trap that was St. Paul’s. He’d heard say of a theory that there was over a thousand pounds in dropped change and lost jewellery on the pavements of England at any one time. Despite the presence of these potential riches, for Edgar, London’s streets weren’t paved with gold but with puke, spittle and stale ale.
            And now like everyone else, he was having to look up more. To dodge the ships falling from the sky. The spirallers out of control. The plummeters. The speeding fireballers. 

Gets Up Your Nose And Curls Your Toes - a free excerpt

This goes out to the few billion people out there who have yet to download this irreverent moan at 68 things about modern life that, well, just need to be moaned about.

You dislocate your shoulder. Or badly bruise your elbow. Whatever the injury, you can bet strangers and friends alike will manage to accidentally but annoyingly knock, bump, scrape or pat the precise zone of pain, however small or obscure it may be.

An Open Letter To People Who Have To Live With Writers

Dear [insert name here]


Sorry for not always being there physically.

And sorry for sometimes being there physically but not mentally.

Sorry for trying to grab every moment I can with my laptop.

Sorry for using the printer at half one in the morning. Hopefully, I'll soon be able to afford a quieter one.

Sorry for regularly disappearing upstairs for short periods. I'm not up to anything dodgy, just checking my Kindle Reports or Smashwords dashboard, praying for a sale, even a freebie download, any evidence that somebody somewhere might like my stuff.

Sorry for finishing writing one book and then immediately piling in to another. I don't think I can stop.

Sorry for not making this letter longer. It's just that I've got other things to write.

REVIEW: The Pregnant Widow - Martin Amis

What great value an Amis novel is.

I don't subscribe to his late father's view that he should show off his literary talents a little less. I'm in the  'if you've got 'em, flaunt 'em' camp. And Amis has them in abundance.

But it's not been easy for me to read Amis ever since becoming obsessed with the quality of London Fields back in the Nineties. Topping that is as close to an impossible task as you can get. So it was good to see the return of a Keith to his work, Nearing this time, not Talent, and a few nods to the latter's stomping ground of Queensway.

As expected, I found invention on every page, sharp dialogue, cliche-free description and a bunch of twentysomethng characters spending a summer in Italy thinking about having sex with each other.

Certainly a rewarding read for Amis aficionados, but if you're new to the great man's work, may I suggest you head over to London Fields first.

What's A Book Got To Do To Get A Review Around Here?

Reviews are big currency in the self-publishing world. A shit one is better than none at all, certainly if the Fifty Shades series is anything to go by.

But how do you get them?

I've approached a few bloggers and reviewers (very politely, I might add) and have yet to receive a reply, let alone a review.

I've resisted the urge to write my own under some alias or other as that just seems a toe-curlingy bad way to go.

But as I've only received one for The Money Star, and one for my non-fiction book Gets Up Your Nose And Curls Your Toes (both fairly good ones, I might also add) on Amazon, I'm on the look out for new ways to get comments, even if they're scathing.

An Unexpected Benefit Of A Synopsis

It's the moment writers all dread.

You've written 70,000 plus words, and now's the time to distill all the twists, turns and character arcs into a few hundred words.


So, imagine my discomfort when I wrote my first synopsis for The Money Star, and came up with some story ideas that were better than what I'd written.

Forcing yourself to explain your story in as few words as possible and in the style of the sort of thing you'd read on the back of a dustjacket is, as all writers know, a great way to focus on the crux of your story. But, as I discovered, it's also a great way of improving your story.

As long as you're prepared to get your head down and tuck into ANOTHER draft, that is.

Give Them Something To Read In Between The Lines

'If what's happening in your scene is what's happening in your scene, you're doing something wrong.'

Somebody much cleverer and more successful than I once said or wrote words to that effect. And ever since, I've tried to heed them.

It's all about subtext, innit? Reading between the lines.

Having two people just talking about what they're talking about doesn't make for interesting reading or viewing. There's got to be, as Hitchcock suggested, something like a bomb ticking under the table, or something that the audience knows that the people in the scene don't.

Something that makes what they're saying mean more than just what they're saying means, if you know what I mean.

Have Literary Agents Become An Irrelevance?

You finish draft number eleventy or whatever. Buy the latest Writers And Artists Yearbook and trawl through the pages of Literary Agents, trying to work out which is least likely to reject your book.

Or do you?

I did it with The Money Star, but for the latest book I quite frankly couldn't be arsed.

It's not just the waiting that put me off. Three months of nothing, followed by an almost guaranteed rejection in the form of a curt, mass produced email or letter, I can handle. I'll just fill that time writing something else.

But I've heard stories lately of writers with agents who just aren't getting it done. Their books still aren't selling. Publishers aren't picking them up. They're having more luck going it alone on Kindle.

So, although agents still seem a good way to get an experienced pair of eyes to look over your manuscript, I'm going to stop bothering them. They've got enough on their plate (desk) without me adding to their slushpile.

That nothwithstanding, if any agents are interested in... blah blah blah

Genre. The Best Sales Tool Since, Since, Ever.

Don't make the mistake I did with my first novel and start writing it without a genre in mind.


If you want to sell copies, or even give them away as freebies, make sure your book fits into a category.

Deluded old me thought sod that, I'm going to write this genre buster that's a combination of heist, sci-fi, thriller, adventure. All very well until you upload it to Smashwords or Kindle and have to pigeonhole it.

You soon see that books are sold on genre, and writing something that dips its toes into several different genres isn't the fast lane to big sales.

Sure, I've shifted a few copies (mainly freebies) but because The Money Star straddles several genres rather than slotting neatly into one, it's 'yet to find its audience', which I believe is common parlance for 'we don't know what genre this thing is'.

As a result, I've been forced to post-rationalise, during which I discovered the catch-all category of Speculative Fiction, which covers a multitude of genres. But, as yet, it hasn't boosted sales.

Which is why when I started my second novel, I made sure which category it would be filed under when it was published before a finger touched the keypad. (Horror, thanks for asking).

Why A Lot Of Fiction Bores My Pants Off

A work of fiction that charts events that could conceivably happen for real in the real world is, for me, pointless. I’d rather read about these events happening to real people in biographies, than follow the misfortunes of fake characters in tepid romances or colour-by-number crime stories.

So I write about ordinary people in incredible, fantastical situations, putting them up against awesome obstacles and seemingly insurmountable odds. And then I throw shit at them. As much bad shit as I can find. And when I run out, I find some more. Posing my protagonists challenge after challenge after challenge until they either break down or break out.

Self Publishers Have Got To Love America

Seriously. If you want to shift ebooks, fall in love with America.

Even go as far as making sure there's an American character or location, or something in your book.

Because in my experience, the US is the biggest market for self-publishers who write in English. By far.

I can barely give my books away in my homeland of the UK, my freebie promotions of The Money Star shifting a fraction of what gets snapped up in the States.

Why is that?

Are Americans more likely to give works by unknown suckers like me a chance? Or is it just because there's so many more Kindle owners that side of the pond?

I'll wager it's a bit of both. Either way, as someone once said, maybe even sung, God Bless America.

A Big Mistake Ebook Reviewers Make

I've seen this several times in my (so far fruitless) search to find someone to review my brace of bracing books: reviewers asking that authors only send in their novels if they are truly exceptional.

Did I read that and think, shit, hold on, mine's decidedly average, I'd best keep looking for a reviewer who's after a bit of run of the mill?

Of course I didn't.

Every author out there believes their work's the dog's testes, and we're all clogging up Smashwords and Kindle, hoping someone, somewhere who can do something will see what's painfully obvious to us: that our words are in a better order than everyone else's.

I Am Deluded

Really, I am. I thought the first novel I wrote was incredible. Groundbreaking. A surefire success. Bound to get critics salivating, demanding more.

Never happened.

Ten years later I ploughed into my second. Ten drafts I wrote. A brilliant concept, I thought. Streets ahead of the first. Only a matter of time before an agent or publisher picks it up.

Never happened.

Then I spent a year learning story theory. McKee first. Then Truby. The brilliant Truby.

And I re-read my first two books.

They were [swearwords omitted].

I could see what I’d previously been blind to. Sure, the writing was good and there were few errors. But they were structurally naïve. They weren’t stories that gripped. The characters weren’t the kind you rooted for.

Upon realising my first novel was beyond salvation, I rewrote my second, with the benefit of my newfound knowledge.

Five more drafts. Another year’s work.

And I’m currently wallowing in the delusion that it’s streets ahead of the previous drafts. Only a matter of time before an agent or publisher picks it up…