Smile, you’re an author

It’s been a while since I updated this blog. One of the strongest lessons I am learning in my author journey is that, pre-publication, nothing happens in a hurry.

‘Six Months to Get a Life’ is coming along, though. The last time I sent the hard copy proof back, it only had one thing wrong – rollercoaster stretched across two lines, with the hyphen appearing after roll.

William, my youngest son, asked me why I bothered sending my book back just to have that tiny point corrected.

‘Because I take pride in my work, son,’ I told him, ‘I want my debut novel to be the best debut novel I have ever written.’

‘Well, it can hardly be the second best debut novel you have ever written, can it?’ he replied.


Anyway, other than repeatedly reading laid-out copies of my book, I have, during the last week or so, received the final front cover image, minus the errant spelling mistake.

I have also been prompted to think about what photographs I would use for publicity – in my press release for the book, on my website and social media.

I spent a while at the weekend scanning through my digital photo library. I love taking photos. I have loads of good pictures of my kids but I found that I didn’t have many of me. There was the one of me sitting in a beach bar in Turkey with a bottle of Efes. Or the one of me in Majorca with a bottle of Sol. Or the one of me in the Lake District with a bottle of… You get the picture.

None of those photos will apparently do for my website, or so says the young man with the cardigan who is instructing me on these matters. So I found a local photographer, Nikki Holland, who agreed to do me a few professional-looking head shots at a reasonable price. As someone who hasn’t released a book yet, the reasonable price bit was important to me.

I prepared well for my meeting with Nikki. I got myself professionally groomed (in the old sense of the word) at an establishment in Wimbledon that was a cut above (cringe) my normal barbers. My sideburns, such as I have them, have never been straighter than they were that day.

Despite my exemplary prep, though, my meeting with Nikki didn’t start particularly brilliantly.

Firstly, I pulled the door handle off as I was entering her studio.

And then, when I happened to tell her that I was a fledgling author, Nikki volunteered that her husband had published a few books. I asked his name and, despite something stirring in the deepest corners of my consciousness when she mentioned it, I couldn’t quite place him. My blank look made that fact obvious to Nikki. Awkward. I was still looking blank as she went on to tell me her son’s name. He too is more well-known than I am ever likely to be.

Nikki was far too professional to let my ignorance of her family’s celebrity put her off from the task in hand though. She managed to put me at ease. I am not very good at smiling to order. I am not very good at smiling full stop. But Nikki’s painstaking pursuit of the perfect photo has, in my mum’s mind at least, elevated her to the rank of miracle-worker.

‘How has she managed to make you look good,’ mum asked. How rude.

My mates have also praised Nikki’s work. Comments have included ‘what’s that crap they say about the camera never lying,’ ‘I thought I was good with Photoshop,’ ‘you almost look sensible’ and ‘I suppose anything is better than that topless photo of you on the beach’.

Putting the banter to one side, the basic question on my mind is ‘will that photo help me to sell books?’

What’s next on my author journey? Over the coming few weeks I hope to get first sight of my new website, and eventually see the publicist. The company I have commissioned to handle my publicity want to get the building blocks in place before my meeting with the publicist, but hopefully it will happen soon. I will keep you posted.

Oh, and did I mention that I moved house last week too.

6 thoughts on “Smile, you’re an author

  1. jaytharding October 21, 2014 / 3:59 pm

    As a published author, I read your comments with complete understanding, sympathy and encouragement. Whenever a hopeful writer states an interest in penning a book, I quickly remind him or her that the reality is this: for every 1,000 people, 1 will have the desire to write; of 1,000 desiring to write, 1 actually begins the task; of 1,000 beginning the task, 1 will complete their goal; of 1,000 completing their goal, 1 will succeed in getting published; of 1,000 succeeding in getting published, 1 will be good enough to be accepted by a reputable publisher with an actual professional editor, a fantastic cover designer and a vigorous publicist (to name but a few of the entire team of people dedicated to producing a book the public will gobble up). After that, I give the fledgling writer my blessing and simple advice: #1: Write, and #2: Don’t give up. Ben, my friend, congratulations on doing both, and for your incredible tenacity and pride in your work. I salute you!

  2. G.P Williamson October 27, 2014 / 7:43 pm

    Made me laugh boss. I self published my first three and now plan on going the traditional route for autobiography. I won’t bore you with details. You’ve made my day. Following on twitter and shared your new book cover. Good Luck! GpwPoetry.

  3. Philip V. Ariel (@PVAriel) October 29, 2014 / 4:36 am

    Hi Ben,
    What a pleasant note.
    Nice to meet you today via twitter.
    This is really an interesting note,
    Your son is right in asking that!
    But your answer i liked it too!
    Have great time with the upcoming
    projects. All Good Wishes.
    Nice to be here.
    Keep informed.
    ~ Phil

  4. wmdean007 October 30, 2014 / 2:18 am

    Ben: I love your blog and I am extremely jealous that people actually leave comments on your blog–Doh!–and here’s another one!! You and I have a lot in common — I posted your blog on my FB author’s page ( — tried tweeting it, but some problem there I’ll have to sort out…like you I’m just now exploring social media. I now follow you on twitter and the blog. Maybe you;ll find my blog of interest as we are both at about the same point in publishing our books. ( Good luck with your book.

  5. Mary October 31, 2014 / 5:22 pm

    Hi Ben, glad I discovered your blog. I’ll have to keep an eye out for that book when it’s published. Just followed you on Twitter and look forward to future correspondences.

  6. jenanita01 November 5, 2014 / 8:13 am

    Glad to meet a fellow newbie, as it makes a change from most of the people I meet on Twitter. You know who I mean, the ones who are three or four books down the line and doing very well thank you!
    At this stage I have no idea if I will ever join that club…but still optimistic!

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