The Beano Annual 2019.

Always a highlight of my year!

I know the jokes are rubbish and predictable. I know they are simple and childish, even. I know this because I’m sixty years old.
But I love it!

(Read more …)

 

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The Cynic’s ‘To Do’ List for Aspiring Authors.

  1. Read squillions of blog articles that detail definitive ‘to do,’ lists for aspiring authors: you don’t want to miss out on anything. Research needs to be thorough.
  2. Build your author blog: you could probably skip this step if your surname is ‘Anonymous.’
  3. Write frequent and interesting posts for your blog: like this one you’re reading right now, though obviously way better.
  4. Build a fanbase for your blog: to be honest– most of your ‘fanbase’ are not strictly ‘admirers of your writing. They are mutual back-scratchers. It’s all about the numbers, you know.
  5. Interact with other bloggers on a regular basis: my better results have been when I kept my comments polite and courteous.
  6. Establish an Amazon Author page: maybe not required until point #21, but it’s easier to do this while your enthusiasm is still high.
  7. Set up an ‘author’ Facebook page: it’s best to separate your personal life from your author persona. Readers / potential readers of your cutsie YA romantic novel are probably best shielded from your drunken antics last weekend.
  8. Invite all your personal Facebook friends to ‘Like’ your author page: they will, if you badger them long enough. Go on, go on, go on …. Remember, it’s all about the numbers, you know.
  9. Write frequent and interesting posts for your author Facebook page: I don’t – and look how many books I haven’t sold.
  10. Join a Writing Group. Online or the good old fashioned way, it doesn’t matter: don’t just sit there feeling alone and miserable, devoid of any ideas. Spend time with like (empty) minded people – a problem shared is a problem halved and all that.
  11. Read the WIPs of fellow aspiring authors in your Writing Group: actually, you will be well impressed by some. You will be inspired to write to such a great standard. Some though will be complete bobbins.
  12. Feedback to said fellow aspiring authors: try to find that precarious balance between praise, patronising and downright jealousy.
  13. Continue reading books of similar genre to that which you will (eventually) write: being an aspiring author is difficult. It’s fraught with pressures, not least, that on your time. Try to relax with a good book, but one that keeps you in ‘the zone.’
  14. Set aside some regular ‘you time,’ for planning your book: 3am is generally accepted as the only available slot for this. Blocks of ten or fifteen minutes will probably have to do.
  15. OH YEAH – WRITE YOUR BOOK!

  16. Revisit steps 1 to 15 for the next three years.
  17. EDIT YOUR BOOK! self-doubt, familiarity with the story and slight tweaks to the plot that involve complete rewriting of several chapters, mean this step could take another year to complete.
  18. FINAL EDIT OF YOUR BOOK!
  19. Submit book to every publisher you can track down: you owe it to yourself to at least try. If nothing else, once the submissions are made, you have a short period of respite and relief where your life may return to what passes these days as ‘normal.’
  20. Remember to recycle your rejection letters.
  21. Decide to follow the self-publish route: who needs a publisher anyway? Self-publishing means you are in complete control, right?
  22. Set aside a couple of weeks to correctly format your book for submission to Amazon: you won’t be short on advice and help. Fellow aspiring authors are always willing to help. Don’t be too hard on yourself. You are not stupid – they are just highly intelligent and technically gifted.
  23. A) Plan a marketing campaign through Amazon and offer your book at a generous discount: this will probably be the most hurtful part of the project. It’s not exactly a ‘loss-leader,’ but it will still stick in your throat to do this. You will likely generate some sales though. Results will however vary in line with how much you outlay on your marketing campaign. B) Don’t worry about the extortionate costs of doing so through likes of Bookbub – you’ll likely be rejected anyway.
  24. Request your doctor prescribe a raft of anti-anxiety medications. Or take up yoga: you will need something to calm you down each morning as you excitedly open your laptop to view the daily Amazon sales reports. Yippee! You made $9 yesterday. (Less, of course, the $10 daily average of your marketing campaign.)
  25. Take advantage of this quiet period and re-introduce yourself to your family: reassure the dog you are not a burglar.
  26. Be amazed as your book, boosted by initial sales to family and friends, rises to be #1 in the rankings: Ok – #1 in the (eg) Books > Home & Garden > Animal Care & Pets > Dogs > Dogs with a lisp, category.
  27. Be amazed at just how quickly your book can fall from an overall Amazon ranking of 3,023 on the first day: remain positive though. The book-buying public are fickle. Things will change.
  28. Nothing changes: after two weeks of crossing fingers, and selling your soul to the double-crossing book gods, you book is probably now ranked around the 2,435,647 mark.
  29. Run a promo campaign to give your book away free: your book instantly shifts 53,178 copies. Well, downloads. Now you need your doctor to prescribe some meds to calm you back down again. Or take up yoga. Again. The initial fad didn’t last long – it never does.
  30. Doctor simply suggests you look at the Amazon sales reports: No royalties from the freebies. You feel such a fool. And only two reviews on the Amazon page. From 53,178 sales? Sorry. Free downloads. The cold truth dawns. People like free stuff. Just for the sheer heck of it. How many actually read your book?
  31. Cheer yourself up by blowing all the earned royalties from actual, proper sales: the family are excited about a trip to the movies. And possibly a visit to the local burger joint on the way home. But best take the credit card for that, just in case.
  32. And tomorrow? Tomorrow, you’ll still be an aspiring author. Tomorrow you’ll start on book #2 and repeat the process all over. It’s just what we do.


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REVIEW: ‘The Bottom Corner: A Season with the Dreamers of Non-League Football’ – Nige Tassell

As a follower of Non-League football myself, I found this book quite engrossing.

The format was tidy, accounting for the season and off-season on a month by month basis, and concentrating on only a couple of clubs each chapter. I would, though, have preferred to read about more teams from the middle the pyramid, my only slight criticism being that the book seems more focused on National League, and then clubs right at the bottom of the pyramid.

But that really doesn’t detract from providing a well written account of life at the Bottom Corner. of British football

DESIST, ASSIST and PERSIST.

Book Week Scotland - Balloch Library - 28th Nov 2015 - 3It’s now one year since I published my first book, ‘Damp Dogs & Rabbit Wee.’

Get me –  ‘first book.’ Now I’m talking in some kind of author-type language. Like I’ve got another book in me. Well …

I’ve learnt a lot these past twelve months: I cringe now when I think of the number of exclamation marks I used in my first drafts of ‘Damp Dogs;’ I now understand why many readers dislike the overuse of adverbs; head-hopping can become confusing and overuse of ellipsis (oops – see above) and quotation marks can becoming annoying.

I’ve also learnt to cultivate a thick skin – this being the result of submitting pieces of work to Critique Circle. Boy, can they be brutal? (See? – in the old days, I’d have had an exclamation mark just there. And there.)

But most of all, I’ve realised that to be a writer, successful or otherwise, you need to learn to desist, assist and most of all, persist.

STOPDesist from talking-down your book. Understandably, you will be unsure as to how it will be received. Will it merit many / any ‘five star’ reviews? Will it attract any reviews at all? Authors writing in the same genre are far better and more experienced than me. Those thoughts, and others, can easily lead to the conclusion that the best way to prepare for disappointment is to get your strike in early. Lower the expectations of any potential readers and work from the ‘promise low, deliver high,’ perspective.

Logically, this may be a sound approach. Except that the number of potential readers may have been greatly reduced as a result of the author’s perceived negativity.

Don’t do it. Tell the world how great the book is. Show some belief.

Sheepish modesty may be cute, but it doesn’t sell books.

You Can HelpAssist other aspiring authors in reaching their goals. Whether this is through constructively critiquing their work via online writing groups, or re-tweeting details of their work / special offers, or sharing links to their sales pages on your social media / blogs, it doesn’t matter. Writing is fun, but it’s kinda lonely. Not in a sad way, but it’s good to talk as a wee bird once said.

Mutual back scratching is way better and more productive than mutual back slapping. Be honest with your comments to others, but be positive. And guaranteed, you’ll receive the same benefits in return. Authors are a breed apart, but form a tight-knit, worldwide association.

I know from experience, I’ve had invaluable help from The Inca Project; Scribophile members; the CLOG group on Goodreads; Clean Indie Reads and numerous individual writers.

Show support, and if at all possible, buy their books. Kindle editions normally cost only a couple of pounds. I’ve read more books this past twelve months than at any point in my life since leaving school. And all have been from indie authors, the majority of whom have not yet made it into the High Street stores.

There are some tremendous stories out there.

PERSISTPersist with your belief. Writing a fabulous book is the easy bit. Telling the world it even exists, especially with no marketing budget at your disposal is another thing entirely. It’s a slog, I know, but a little bit of work, even just through social media can pay dividend.

This past week, I’ve run a low-key promotion in the UK – there will be a bigger effort made in the U.S. market after the Olympics. I spent a total of £10 and that was on a donation basis to a site that promoted ‘Damp Dogs & Rabbit Wee.’ The direct results of that promo were poor, but through my own efforts of persistence, I managed to sell another twenty-six books.

No – it’s not big-time. And no, I can’t yet give up work to become a full time author. But it’s all relative, isn’t it? The fact that the book rose from around 200k to circa 12k  in the Amazon Kindle rankings was good enough for me.

UK Promo -pre campaign - KINDLE27th July - 9am - KINDLE

 

 

I’m not writing for money – just as well, eh?. I’m writing for experience. So that I may learn how to make more of a success of the comedy-fantasy, ‘Soul Survivor’ that I’m currently working on.

Success is all relative. I started out as the hopeful writer at the start of the ‘desist‘ paragraph above. I reckoned that if I sold about thirty books to family, friends and clients, then I’d be happy. So, having sold over two hundred and seventy (when the average for a debut effort from an indie author is, I believe, ninety) I’ve now embraced the mantra from the end of that section.

It’s not rocket science, and it’s all been said before. But after a year, the penny’s finally dropped. With all your invaluable assistance and support, even from just reading this blog, I know both ‘Damp Dogs & Rabbit Wee,’ and when ready, ‘Soul Survivor,’ are / will be successes. Even if just in my own head.

See you on the shelves of Waterstones and Barnes & Noble.

Wimbledon 2015b - 200

(Cee Tee)

ALMOST A GIVEAWAY!

Bramble.

Bramble.

Well ….. what do you expect? I’m Scottish. So sue me.

Damp Dogs & Rabbit Wee,’ was published a year ago this week, and to celebrate, the Kindle price has been reduced to only 99 pence (in Amazon’s UK store) until 11pm on Friday 29th July.

I know – I’m all heart, me.

When I ran a Goodreads Giveaway some months ago, there were over 1,200 entrants hoping to land a free copy. If you were one of the 1,195+ disappointed folk that missed out, then maybe you’ll want to grab this amazing opportunity to read the amusing antics of Marley and the gang for such a keen price.

Maybe, on the other hand, you’ll think, “What a tightwad – why couldn’t it be a freebie?”

I’m really sorry. Honest. But much as I’d like to hand copies away for nowt, I do have to eat. And 99 pence would allow me to buy a bread roll, a slice of ‘plastic’ cheese and maybe leave just enough for a Bazooka Joe bubblegum. Bazooka Joe

Anyway, please – it would be  great help if you could let all your dog / cat / pet loving pals know of this, ok, slightly less than startling offer, by any means of social media you have available.

Thanks so much.

I’m off now to have my evening bite of that roll and ‘plastic’ cheese slice.

99 cents book promotion in the USA!

Amazon.com bannerHere’s one for all readers of this blog in the USA, or who have access to buy goods from Amazon.com:

Damp Dogs & Rabbit Wee’ will be on a Kindle Countdown deal from Wednesday March 23rd until Saturday, 26th.

The price will be reduced to only 99 cents throughout this period, before returning to the original, $2.83. That’s a reduction of almost 67% if my arithmetic’s correct.

If this were Walmart, there’d be massive advertising hoardings in the car park and along every aisle in the store.

Bramble.

Bramble.

But it’s not. It’s just a wee blog, written by a wee bloke, in a wee country, who uses the word ‘wee’ in a different context in the book’s title.

So, if anyone can help spread the word to dog / pet lovers and dog walkers in the USA  by means of social media, or even personal interaction (remember those days?) then I’m on the beers.

Thanks.

Cee Tee

 

Sorry …. well – not really.

I know … yadda, yadda, yadda. Another chuffin’ five star review on Amazon.com (USA)

America  – I’m comin’ to get ya!

Sorry – this is not in my normal character, but I’ve learnt over these past few months that if you don’t bang your own drum, then there ain’t nobody else going to do it for you.

(Except, of course, these wonderful people who have taken time to leave such lovely words on both Amazon – 17 on Amazon UK and 6 on Amazon USA – and Goodreads. Thank you all.)Damp Dogs & Rabbit Wee - final - thumbnail

Format: Kindle Edition

The author explains how a couple of unexpected career changes ultimately presented him with a new job opportunity as a Pet Professional. This new job provided many stories and lucky for us, the author has written this book to share them with us.

Written in a comical and heartfelt way, we learn about the animals’ reactions to various situations and the way each pet formed their very own unique bond with him, and he with them. The author did a great job describing the vast personalities of these pets. I especially liked the comments he imagined them saying.

Overall, this was a fun read and I thoroughly enjoyed the author’s sense of humor. Of course, animal lovers will naturally be drawn to this book, rightfully so, but anyone who has gone through (has ever thought about or been forced into) a career change, will greatly enjoy this as well.