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Saturday, 30 April 2011

E-publishing V Traditional Publishing

The world of publishing is undergoing changes as the electronic world catches up. As an author who has published both ways it seemed to me to be a good time to weigh up the pros and cons.

My first book Dead Wood was published in the traditional way after winning the Dundee International Book Prize. What an exciting time that was. The procedure prior to publication was not without pain. Any author will tell you that writing ‘The End’ when you finish, is not really the end. There follows a period, which can last up to a year, but in my case was 8 months, for the editorial process. During this time conflicting demands were made – to add words and to cut words. The cover was decided by the publisher and the title changed. But what a feeling of achievement there was when I held my book in my hands and saw it on the bookstore shelves.
Now all that may seem fairly easy to the new author, but that book had been hawked round publishers and agents for 4 years prior to winning the prize. Rejections were the order of the day. The last rejection I had was 1 month before winning the prize and that publisher had retained the book for 4 years before making up his mind. That same publisher, I may add, had a recent column in a Sunday newspaper bemoaning the fact that publishers were losing their authors to e-publishing.

So, 2 years later, after hawking my second book round the publishers and agents, I decided to go down the electronic route and publish Night Watcher to Kindle. After the formatting it was relatively painless and cost me nothing, apart from the editing fee, which is a good investment. Shortly after, basking in my success, I published the book to Smashwords so that other reader formats could have access to the novel. Admittedly I didn’t have that wonderful feeling of holding a book in my hands but at least it’s out there and being read. After all, what is a writer without an audience?

So what are the pros and cons. Well, with traditional publishing you have all the pain of constant rejections, plus the length of time everything takes. With e-publishing you can have your book on sale almost immediately, although I would advise sending it to a literary agency or editor prior to taking that step. A traditional publisher will give you 8 per cent royalties (average), while with e-publishing you can be earning anything between 35 to 85 per cent, provided you publish yourself. But best of all you are independent, and the feeling of liberation that comes with that, because you don’t have to prostrate yourself to publishers, is marvellous.

I would say that the e-publishing route has been a success for me, although I do miss being able to hold my book in my hands following publication.

E-publishing or traditional. What do you think?

Monday, 18 April 2011

Internet Explorer 9 is Driving me Nuts

As some of you probably know I'm a bit of a techie addict and can never resist new gadgets, new hardware and new software. So it goes without saying that when the new Internet Explorer version became available I downloaded it. Now, there are features on IE 9 that I like. I like the clean interface. I like the ability to pull a tab off the address bar to make a new window, and I like being able to pin favourite sites on my Windows 7 Task Bar, but the new browser does take a bit of getting used to.

The tabs of the websites you open are now on the right of the Address Bar, at the top of the screen. You can still click Ctrl when you are opening a new web page and the tab opens to the right of the tabs already there. So far so good. However, when you want to close them, that's when the problems start (for me anyway). Theoretically the extra tabs can be closed by right clicking and then clicking on Close Tab, or you can click the  x at the right of the tab. The tab vanishes okay, but the page is still there - blank with a little whirly thing in the middle and there it stays until you close the whole browser down, that is, if the browser hasn't frozen. The only way then is to bring up Task Manager and close it down from there. This is what is driving me nuts.

Wait on, though. I think I've found a solution. You recall that further up this blog I said I liked the ability to pull a tag off the Address Bar to make a new window. I've found that if I do this I can close the page by clicking the X at the top corner of the page. Voila, no blank page and no small whirly thing in the middle.

The other thing I kinda like, although I'm not sure I like it better than the row of favourite sites below my Menu Bar in IE 8, is the ability to pin these favourite sites to my Windows 7 Task Bar. The idea is that the site icon will stick there. Well it took a bit of trial and error in the first place to successfully pin a website to the bar. I pinned Smashwords and then my own website, they both came up with Internet Explorer icon, then I pinned my two You Tube videos to the task bar and they came up as two separate You Tube icons. So you can see the difficulty. It is identifying which of the favourite icons is the one you want, although all is not lost because if you right click the icon it tells you which site it relates too. What a hassle.

Apart from these small moans I'm gradually coming to terms with IE 9, although I still find myself going to the left of the screen to click favourites instead of the top right corner.

Moans over - until the next time.


Saturday, 9 April 2011

Carry on Screaming

Screaming is usually something I write about, and chapters ending with a scream are usually effective. However, I have just returned from a holiday which involved a lot of screaming, a fair bit of fear, and quite a few heart-stopping moments. I'm talking about my holiday to Euro-Disney with my grandchildren.

The holiday was really good, although a different experience for me. Last year's holiday was a bit more posh because I went to Venice on the Orient Express. Unfortunately for me, Hercule Poirot was nowwhere to be seen. Grandchildren, however, don't appreciate that sort of holiday, so Euro-Disney it was.

Naively I thought I would get off with watching them as they cavorted on all the scary rides, but grandchildren have a way of getting round you and it wasn't long before I was screaming my head off on the terrifying Thunder Mountain, Crush's Coaster, Pirates of the Carribean and a succession of equally scary rides. I put my foot down though at the Tower of Terror - even one of my grandchildren chickened out of that one.

So what has all this to do with a blog that I'd hoped to devote to writing, reading and all things related? Well, it allowed me to experience a variety of emotions that I normally only write about, and I also found myself eyeing up the settings. Alice's Curious Labyrinth, for example, would make a superb body dump, and the opportunity for a wide variety of mayhem could be provided by the multitude of dark and creepy places on which many of the rides and attractions were based.

So it wasn't a waste of time in the writer sense. And, I must say, I did enjoy it, even the screaming!

Au revoir, until the next time.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Crime writing author

How do I begin? I'd better tell you a little bit about myself before I get down to blogging.

This is my first blog as a - hopefully - reasonably successful crime writer. I started out writing a bit over 20 years ago and soon became published as a short story and article writer. I went on to write novels. My first attempt was a saga. I wrote it just as sagas went out of fashion. Sod's law they call it. Anyway I moved on to crime writing and I suppose I should have started there to begin with because my reading of choice is crime, the darker the better. Up until the time I got published I had written four novels - determination is my middle name - or is it simply pig-headedness.

My big break came when I won the Dundee International Book Prize with my novel 'The Screaming Woods'. One of the conditions of the prize award was that the book's title should be changed - I would have stood on my head if they'd asked me - so it was a no-brainer to agree. The book, a crime thriller, retitled as 'Dead Wood', was published in 2009, and what a fabulous feeling that was. There is nothing quite so thrilling as holding your own book in your hands. I positively drooled over the bookshop shelves for months.

My most recent crime thriller, Night Watcher, has now been published as an eBook, in all ereader formats, and is available from the Amazon Kindle Store, or This is a new experience for me and I'm wondering how to get my book noticed among all those thousands of eBooks out there. I can only hope quality will count.

Well, that's me in a nutshell.

Until we meet again.