Hard at work

I am in the final stages of proofreading for The Tyrant’s Onslaught. Once that is finished I will begin the arduous task of formatting for Smashwords, Kindle and Paperback.

I am expecting Pre-orders to be available in the next fortnight and will keep you posted once they are up.

Until then, keep your fingers crossed, and send me some good vibes so that I can keep my eyes open and get the next installment of the Valerious Chronicles out to you.



Are you editing too much?

Writers love to write. Who would have thought? Then they finish their story and have to edit. Gasps, grabs chest in panic! There are some crazy people out there who enjoy editing; some who go so far as to love it! I am convinced they are delusional.

Most of us rely on others to fix our work for us, but before that can happen we need to do the initial editing ourselves. I’ve just finished the first edit of my second book and am finding myself changing sentences as I usually do, only to change them back on the second read. I have come to realise that there are really two types of editing;

(Type 1) The Necessary: This is the editing that removes grammatical mistakes. Wrong words, bad spelling, incorrect punctuation and other things that are just plain wrong by language standards.

(Type 2) The Superficial: This is the editing that moves a word around or changes a phrase slightly to change the narrative itself. Often this will improve your work, but it is ultimately a matter of taste.

Getting your manuscript ready for submission/publication is a process of doing the Necessary editing first and fully, and then knowing when to stop with the Superficial. Most people have heard of overcooking your manuscript. And I firmly believe there is such a thing. In fact, without care, one can easily set the house of fire by leaving the editing in the oven unchecked.

This also applies to the situation where you have multiple editors/beta readers. Everyone’s tastes differ and sometimes as the author you need to take creative control and stick with what makes you happiest. I have had 6 different people read a single chapter and all want to change the same sentence to 6 different things.

Excess Superficial editing takes up a lot of precious time. Time that could be spent marketing your book or writing your next book. So the key is to know when to say enough is enough and finalise your manuscript.

If I have learnt anything it is that no matter how many times you change things, you will always look back at your own work and want to fix it. Writing is a skill that continues to grow, so it is only natural that you will feel you can write that sentence better. At some point you need to bite the bullet and give your work to your audience.

Just like buying a new TV, in 6 months there will be a better version for the same price. Six months from now your writing will have improved and you could rewrite your story to improve it. You need to eventually draw the line and finalise your story.

Watch out for the Superficial editing trap. Have confidence in your work and just get it out there. Don’t leave the oven on, nobody likes an overcooked manuscript.

Excitement for the book launch


Business Card

So it’s only a few days until I hold my official launch for The Valerious Chronicles. The paperbacks are in boxes, ready to be taken to the venue, business card is ready. The invites have been sent and the champagne is in the chiller. It is finally time to put the pen down for a day and look back on what I have accomplished.

Coming up to the launch I have been asked by so many people, how do you find the time and energy to write a book and work full time as well. I think I will allow Neil Gaiman to answer.

“This is how you do it: you sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until its done. It’s that easy, and that hard.”
― Neil Gaiman



The Long and Twisting Road of Self Publishing


Nothing is ever accomplished without hard work. Anyone who has written a novel knows that as hard as the writing in itself can be, the journey to publication is oft the most challenging. When people ask me, how did you find the time and energy to write a book, I now say to them, “The writing was easy, that’s my passion and what I want to do with most free seconds that I have. Getting it out there and available for sale was the real nightmare.”

Like most new authors I tried the traditional publisher route. Most writers dream of having one of the big six publishing houses picking up their novel and jet setting them to stardom. To walk into the local bookshop and see their name on a shelf. Yet like so many new authors that was not a reality for me. After unsuccessful attempts to sell my manuscript I turned to the ever emerging indie self publishing world.

The relative ease in which someone can now publish their own work is amazing. I say ‘ease’ with caution in that it is easy to get it up onto a website and for sale. Doing it properly is a different story. I did my research and looked at many self published books available. I looked at the successful ones and the ones that were obviously failing. And I saw a massive gap.

If you peruse writing forums you will find endless debate on the merits of ebooks and the digital age of publishing, which has given birth to indie self publication. Some argue that it is a blessing which allows more authors to reach readers and provides consumers with lower prices and in a lot of cases authors with higher royalties per book. Then you have the opposing side that argues that due to the ease in which a book can be submitted for publication, essentially at nil cost other than time, the market is full of drivel.

To some extent I have to agree. I have come across my fair share of books that have been rushed to publication with little or no editing. Coming across these books tarnishes the indie industry as a whole. However the other side needs to be seen. The fact that readers now have access to much more affordable books and larger choice is a good thing. And for authors like myself who have taken the time to create a work of art, it is satisfying to be able to share this with the public. An avenue that a decade ago was a highly expensive endeavour.

Thanks to smashwords and services such as createspace and lulu I am able to bring my book to my friends and family professionally. That journey was one of long nights and a sore back. Sitting for hours formatting and filling out information on forms can be enough to drive many authors away from self publishing. However once it is all done and dusted and you see the finished product selling to consumers, you realise that your toil has been worthwhile. For me I consider the road travelled one of success. But I look back and realise it was a long and very tough journey.

Formatting: Quite possibly worse than editing.

English: Example of screenplay formatting. Wri...

English: Example of screenplay formatting. Writing is own work. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Were it not for the fact that I now feel like there is a light at the end of the long long tunnel that is revision, editing and rewriting, I think I would be banging my head against the wall right now.

Having spent more hours than I care to mention transferring my completed manuscript into a template for publication through createspace, I now tip my hat to individuals who do such activities on a daily basis.

It is a truth that writers do what writers do best and that is WRITE. With self publication now a popular option, more of us are being forced to delve into activities that require tedious organisation and meticulous detail. At the very least once I have my published book in my hands I will be able to look back and say. It was all worth it!

Now onto finishing my cover! (Shakes head)




Image Copyright 2013

My publish ready map is coming together. A few touch ups and I think I will be content. I have been tossing up between whether to use text on a hand drawn map or not. However I am happy with the result. The final product results in a cleaner finish whilst retaining the old time quality. Many of the fantasy books are using fully digital maps. I’m not a big fan. However I am also not a massive fan of fully hand drawn if the details are washed out by the sheer amount of ink. I think it is hard to find a balance.

The demise of the train paperback

Books in the Douglasville, Georgia Borders store.

Books in the Douglasville, Georgia Borders store. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I used to catch the train every day. Whether to uni or work, I could rest assured that at least twice a day I would be sardined into a carriage with hundreds of other commuters, most of whom had their heads down, noses buried in a book, newspaper or staring intently at the floor as they bopped their heads to music. Then my work took me to the suburbs and I was forced to drive. Not that much of an issue really, unless like me you are one of those that loves to read and managed to churn through dozens of books a year due to time spent commuting. So I was glad the other day when I caught the train into the city for training and was able to pull out my book and lose myself for half an hour before arrival.

Yet something strange happened. About halfway through my journey I looked up from my book, glanced around and locked eyes with a young man (glasses, red hair and bad skin) who looked down at the book I was reading and nodded with a smile suggesting we had just shared something. At first I stared back at him, trying desperately to figure out if I knew him. Eventually I simply smiled back, hoping that, if I did know him, that he wasn’t going to approach me, because that could have been an awkward conversation. Then his eyes turned back to a book he was reading. The smile he cast me was no ordinary (Crap he noticed I was looking at him, now I have to pretend to be polite) smile. It was definitely a (That’s right, you know what I’m talking about) smile.

I looked at my book, not a common one, few people would have recognised it. Can’t be that, I thought to myself. I now felt a little awkward. Was there something on my face? Maybe it was a (You have absolutely no idea that you have nutella all the way up your cheek!) smile. Damn it! Now there was no chance of me getting lost in my book again. I had to figure out what had just happened. I looked around, the train was jam packed, people pressed up against each other, most of them scowling at the inconvenience. Then I noticed something else.

Of the sample of people in my carriage, within eyeshot, at least two thirds had their eyes glued to their phones or a tablet. Not unusual these days, but then I thought about it a little more, I glanced around again and that’s when noticed something. Of the people I could see, there were only two people with a paperback novel in their hands. Myself and the friendly stranger. Could that be it? He had looked down at my book and then smiled with a nod. Maybe he was acknowledging the fact that we were part of a slowly dying breed. The individuals who elected to read real paper books on the train.

Is our species endangered? Now I couldn’t take my mind off the topic. I recalled my days travelling to uni on the train, there had definitely been more paperbacks and less tablets/phones. Not that this is by any means a bad thing, there are pro’s and con’s for both ebooks and traditional paper books, and I myself enjoy both formats. That being said I realised that having worked in the suburbs for some time now, I had become more attuned to this rapid shift in our society. Much as you will not notice small changes to a persons appearance if you see them every day, when I was commuting every day, I was oblivious to the change in consumer behaviour. Stepping back into that world after an extended absence, I was caught by the stark change.

There is a dramatic revolution occurring in the publishing industry, with more authors turning to digital publication and self publishing. Will the trade paperback see further decline on our trains? It is becoming increasingly difficult to find a physical bookstore, the rise of websites such as the Book Depository has driven them into hiding. Perhaps that red haired stranger and I are the last remnants of the traditionalists, dinosaurs who haven’t learnt to take their iPad’s on the train.

As I caught the train home that night, I spotted a few more paperbacks on my carriage and breathed a slight sigh of relief. There are still a few of us left.