My brush with celebrity status

I was going to blog about new year’s resolutions, but as someone who had a few pints in The Ramblers Rest in Chipstead about 36 hours into ‘dry January’, I am probably best to steer clear of resolutions. That topic is so last year anyway, don’t you agree?

Instead, I thought I would bang on about my progress in promoting my book, ‘Six Months to Get a Life’ and my brush with celebrity status.

In the run-up to Christmas, I was frantically working through my list of potential reviewers for the book, emailing this devoted group of people, trying to convince them one by one to read and review my book rather than ‘Having Sex with Vampires’ by D Ranged or ‘Community of Death’ by Di Stopian. Shortly before midnight on 23rd December, after sending my one hundred and eightieth review request email, I turned off my computer and re-joined my family in Christmas land.

My festivities were fantastic, except for some not particularly community-spirited hackers who stopped my boys from going online to kill people and steal their cars. How inconsiderate of the hackers.

I returned to ‘author world’ the day after Boxing Day. As I sat down at my computer, I was pleasantly surprised that a) my backside still fit on the computer chair despite the recent over-indulgences, b) two top 100 Amazon reviewers had agreed to review ‘Six Months…’ and, c) my publicist had arranged for a journalist from an internationally renowned website to interview me. There was even talk of a television interview too.

Every author dreams about a big break. Could this have been mine?

Over the next few days I locked the kids in the front room with the dog, the Xbox and a couple of tins of chocolates while I marshalled my thoughts in advance of the interview. What unique insights and killer lines could I share? I prepared as I would have done for a job interview. Anticipate the questions, think of some examples and get some good one-liners in (I wouldn’t advise going overboard on the one-liners in a job interview but one or two show personality, don’t they?).

The day of the interview came. I tried to avoid mentally dreaming about my newfound fame (is an interview in a national paper enough to get me a place on I’m A Celebrity?) and instead concentrated on rehearsing a few pre-prepared lines.  It was only a phone interview but I dressed up for the occasion, using the rationale that if I looked good, I would feel good and therefore sound good too.

The phone rang at the appointed hour.  After introductions were made, the journalist broke the ice with a nice easy one. ‘Can I ask why you split up with your ex?’

She rapidly followed that up with ‘Are you dating again,’ and ‘What do you think it will be like having sex with someone different after being married for, like, ever?’

‘Six Months to Get a Life’ is about a dad who seeks to sort his life out following his divorce. There are some similarities between the book and my life, but essentially the former is fiction whereas the latter is fact. I repeatedly explained this distinction to the persistent hack, but my answers seemed to be falling on deaf ears.

‘What’s the best chat-up line you have used in the past few months,’ she tried.

‘I haven’t used any chat-up lines.’ My frown must have been visible down the phone line.

‘OK,’ she sighed, ‘what’s your attitude to internet dating?’

By this point, I thought I had better up my game slightly so I at least tried to give her an answer. ‘Well, before I met my wife I thought about trying it, but I chickened out in the end.’

‘Why?’

‘Because internet dating is for extroverts and perverts,’ I told her, ‘I am only one of those things so I gave it a miss’.

‘I met my husband through the internet,’ my ticket to national celebrity told me before hanging up. There goes my celebrity status.

Let’s end this blog on a positive and admittedly slightly self-congratulatory note though. Fanfare please. My book is available to pre-order on Amazon and other book sites. I felt very proud when I first saw the ‘buy’ page.

The early reviews, or at least the ones I have had sight of, are extremely positive.

And I read a tweet today from someone I have never met nor even communicated with before, who told me that she had pre-ordered the book and was thoroughly looking forward to reading it. Maybe my early marketing is having some success.

Happy new year to you all.

Divorce, sex and Six Months to Get a Life

A year or so ago, my life, and the lives of others close to me, went through a period of upheaval and change. I went from being part of the typical family unit to living with my parents and having to reinvent family relationships, routines and dreams.

Put the violins away. Out of adversity comes opportunity (God that sounds corny!). I had to think positively, otherwise I might have crumbled, fallen apart or even sunk to the sordid depths of watching soap operas all night with a can of strong lager in my hand. Wait. Rewind. What was I doing last night?

Anyway, to cut a long and personal story short, I coped. I got through my change in life circumstances, as did those close to me.

The single most important thing that helped me through my challenging time was a decision I took one wet Sunday afternoon when the kids weren’t with me. I decided to pursue my dream.

No, not the dream that involves Madonna and Kylie Minogue, but the one that I have had since Kylie was in her dungarees as a teenager in that Australian classic, Neighbours. Sorry, I am back on soap operas again.

My dream, since my school years, has always been to write a book. No, that’s under-stating it. Not just to write any old book, but to write a best-selling novel that thrusts me overnight into the public eye, alongside Rowling, Grisham, EL James (er, maybe not her), Cornwell and the other members of the literary glitterati. Even as a teenager I knew that it wasn’t enough for me to produce a book. I had to produce one that people other than my mother would read.

So, back to that wet Sunday afternoon in March. I got my laptop out, plugged it in, made a cup of tea and sat down to write. I drank my tea, got up and made a sandwich, sat back down and ate it. I thought some more, did some head-scratching and maybe a bit of chin-stroking too. Eventually it was tea time.

What to write? I love crime fiction but I don’t know the first thing about police procedures, forensic science or how the criminal mind works. So that was that genre out of the window. I am not a big fan of horror or sci-fi. And I don’t even know what dystopian fiction and steampunk are, so that’s them ruled out too.

‘What do I know about’, I asked myself in a frustrated tone of voice. Can you have a tone of voice when you say things in your head?

Eventually, in a eureka moment to rival the day that Einstein bruised his apple, the idea came to me. I know about relationships, or at least how to mess them up. I know about family. I know about the impact of the break-up of a long-term relationship. I also believe I know how to make people laugh (and cry). Why not stick all of that into a pot and stir it up?  And that’s when ‘Six Months to Get a Life’ was conceived.

The act of conception was slightly different from other acts of conception you might be familiar with, but after a lot of sole-searching, a fair bit of fiddling around and a few false starts (actually maybe there is more in common than I first thought) the moment was just as sweet.

I wrote the book over the course of the Spring and Summer. It was good therapy for me. Inventing Graham Hope and his friends and writing about his escapades made me smile. I loved writing the dialogue. Being a writer is fantastic. Unlike real life, you get ages to think up the perfect put-down lines.

I signed up with a company who have held my hand, and sometimes dragged me kicking and screaming through the editing and production process. Until today when we now virtually have a physical book to waive around. We have that elusive publication date. The 21st January is getting closer. My excitement is mounting.

I wanted to recap my author journey here in this blog. I am not recommending that everyone going through a relationship break-up writes a book. I am not even recommending that everyone who has gone through such a life-changing event buys my book (although it would be nice). I am just telling you how much the whole process has helped me through a difficult time.

And my regular readers have stood side by side with me on this journey. Lots of people have commented on this blog. Virtually all of them are people I do not know personally. You should know that your contributions have meant a lot to me. The whole process of writing the book and this blog has reaffirmed my belief in my own writing. It has given me hope that, one day, I might achieve my dream. I am under no illusions, there is still a long way to go. It isn’t as if this blog gets millions of hits a day. Even thousands would be nice. But I am at least on the road.

Update on my marketing activity…

Since my last blog, I have continued with my quest to gain reviewers for my baby, with a good response from bloggers. I have entered a sort of mini-competition on Jo Michael’s excellent book blog, with the aim of gaining more reviews and maybe some sales too.

I have also received more positive feedback on the book from another reviewer I have never met before. Her email made me smile so much that I was tempted to order a frame for it and stick it on my wall next to my Madonna poster circa mid-1980s.

My book has been sent off to an indie site that issues quality badges for books it recognises to be of a high standard – a sort of kite mark for Indie books. There’s confidence for you!

And finally, my publicist is preparing the press release for ‘Six Months to Get a Life’, to be sent out in January ahead of the book’s launch. She asked me if there were any quotes in my book that I thought would fit into the press release. I am currently re-reading it for the fifty-seventh time to find some pithy one-liners. The ones that make me smile most, but aren’t probably suitable for inclusion on a press release, are:

‘It’s been a while, if you know what I mean’… Graham Hope on his sex-life.

‘Graham has a big ego and a small dick. I wish it was the other way round.’ (Graham’s ex on Graham).

‘I was in my comfort zone even if my erogenous zone wasn’t seeing much action.’ I am not telling you who said that. You will have to read the book to find out!

I would love to hear what you think of my ramblings. And if you would be interested in reviewing the book, let me know. I will be sending review copies out to those who have already volunteered before Christmas.

Ben

The panic is on: top things to do before you publish your first novel

‘Six Months to Get a Life’ is being released on 21st January.  How exciting. The countdown has started!

Or maybe it would be more accurate to say that my countdown has started. My challenge over the next 50-odd days is to get others in on the act too. To quote the modern vernacular, I need to create a buzz, to get the chattering classes chattering, the blogosphere blogging, the commentators commenting and the twits tweeting.

For your amusement, but mainly for my own project planning processes (once a project manager, always a project manager), I have jotted down a bunch of things I need to do over the next six weeks to get my book noticed.

This may sound strange, and isn’t something I am ever heard to say in my day job, but if you think there is something I should add to my to do list, then feel free to add it via a comment…

  • See my publicist. Get them on the case with all the big fishes.
  • Get on the case myself with the slightly smaller but arguably even more important fishes. This weekend I will dust off my painstakingly compiled database and pitch the book to those lovely blog people who might review it. I have developed a nice 2-page pitch that includes my cover, a photo of me (apparently it is the thing to do), my book blurb, author bio and a few other facts about the book.
  • Practice my signature for when I am sitting in Waterstones in Oxford Street signing a gazillion copies of the book. I am not even sure there is a Waterstones in Oxford Street but why let practicalities get in the way of a good dream?
  • Consume everything I can about free and paid for book advertising. Make some decisions, start placing ads and then apologise to my kids because there is no money left for Christmas presents. I can always blame Santa.
  • Keep working on my social media profile. I had my first disagreement with someone on twitter this week. They questioned how I had managed to get so many followers in the six months or so that I have been on twitter. They insinuated that I had bought my followers. I haven’t. When I replied saying that ‘maybe people follow me because I say interesting things’, she stopped following me. Oh well, move on.
  • Work out what a ‘blog tour’ is, and get some. And some author interviews. I hear Paxman isn’t too busy these days.
  • Look at giveaways. My inbox is constantly bombarded with Goodreads promotions so why shouldn’t I clog up other people’s inboxes from time to time?
  • Get the champagne in.
  • Hurry up and think about practical things to do on launch day. Do I have a big event at a bookshop or even a local bar/restaurant, or do I go for an entertaining, quirky Facebook/twitter launch party? The Royal Albert Hall or my hall? I like the pub/restaurant idea, but particularly with the book being called ‘Six Months to Get a Life’, I would feel pretty embarrassed if I spent loads of money on a launch party, only for it to turn out to have the same attendees as my family Christmas lunch. At least I am cooking for ten this year I suppose.
  • Practice dealing with disappointment when I am not asked to do a book signing event at Waterstones in Oxford Street. No, stop it. Be positive Ben.
  • Get to know book selling sites that I have never visited before. I am an Amazon man when it comes to buying books, but after careful consideration of the facts, and then tossing a coin because the facts were inconclusive, I have opted not to go for the exclusive Amazon-only KDP Select option. Instead, ‘Six Months to Get a Life’ will be available from all good ebook websites, and maybe some bad ones too.
  • Buy everyone I know a book token for Christmas.
  • Get some more champagne in because the first lot will no doubt be drunk over Christmas.

What have I missed? Seriously, I would love to hear your ideas.

My website isn’t twerking: new author, new extract

Generally, I love self-publishing my book. There is definitely something to be said for being in control of your own destiny.

But over the last fortnight, I will admit that there have been times when I frankly yearned for some great white knight corporation to come and take over the whole bloody process.

Firstly, I have had website issues. www.benadamsauthor.com looks pretty good now, with my bio, some good imagery, my book blurb, links to this blog and a contact form. But for ages the website was misbehaving. At one point it somehow ate this blog site. Hence the gap between my last post and this post.

And then there’s Facebook. I couldn’t join groups or really interact with people when I was logged on as my author page, so I now have a facebook profile too. And then there’s Goodreads. I now have a Goodreads author page, from which you can already add my book to your ‘to read’ list, even though it isn’t out until the new year.

I should now be posting witty and original content on my ‘author platform’ but all I feel like doing is pulling all the plugs out, turning off the wifi and crawling under my duvet for a rest.

In fact, that’s exactly what I am going to do. Instead of ranting, I am going to give you another taster excerpt from ‘Six Months to Get a Life’. I haven’t published an extract for a while so allow me to be lazy (a sort of ‘here’s something I prepared earlier’ post) just this once! I hope you like it.

For those of you who have joined this blog late, you should know that the basic premise of this book is that Graham Hope is trying to rebuild his life after his divorce…

‘So, do you really want to know what happened last night? Can I just tell you I made a fool of myself and leave it at that?  No, I thought not.

OK, we went for a few beers in the Raynes Park Tavern. I was fine with this bit of the evening. I held my own in the banter stakes and even managed to have a few quick conversations with women (‘four pints of lager please.’ ‘OK, coming right up’). Things went downhill rapidly though when we moved on to Wimbledon for part two of our evening’s entertainment.

I hadn’t been to a night club in years so I hadn’t even given a thought to dress codes. I had a row with the bouncer who told me I couldn’t come in wearing trainers.

‘They aren’t any old trainers, they’re f****** expensive trainers,’ I protested. Actually I would have been quite happy if the bouncer had sent me home but Dave slipped him a tenner and he let me in.

The club was as bad as I had feared it would be. The music was thump, thump, thump; the average age of the clientele was about fifteen (even with us there) and the strobe lighting did my head in. I know this is making me sound old but it is just the truth. Night clubs and I just do not mix.

I did my best to stay at the bar with Andy but even Andy ended up dancing. The traitor seriously let me down. Eventually Dave physically manhandled me on to the dance floor.  Dave, Ray and Andy had managed to infiltrate a group of mature women out for a good night. I use the word infiltrate deliberately. To me the dance floor felt a bit like a war zone, with people parading their weapons, ready to engage the enemy at the slightest opportunity and eventually move in for the kill. I just worried I would be caught in the crossfire.

I did my best to wobble from foot to foot in time to the beat and once I had mastered that bit I even threw in the odd hip jerk or two.

Drinks came and went. Women came and went. Until eventually I looked around and realised to my horror that my mates were nowhere to be seen. They had deserted me. They should be shot. The woman dancing closest to me was looking at me with intense but slightly unfocussed eyes. To my untrained eye, her dancing was no better than mine. This bolstered my confidence further, to the extent that my dance moves became a bit more exaggerated. Suddenly I thought I was Michael Jackson.

I was concentrating so much on my ‘moves’ and on the woman opposite me, who by this point looked like she was about to topple over, that I didn’t notice the ring of people encircling us. I was just about to move in for some hand to hand combat with the lovely drunk woman when Dave tapped me on the shoulder.

‘Mate, what the hell are you doing?’ he asked.

‘P*** off mate, I am in here,’ I replied, somewhat irritated at being thrown of my stride.

‘You’re twerking.  Men don’t twerk, especially fat blokes.’

It was at that point that I noticed the ring of on-lookers laughing hysterically and pointing at me. It was also at that point that my dance partner threw up all over my shoes. I got my coat and exited the battlefield with my white flag raised.

Where did last night get me? It reminded me how easy being married is. It got me poorer, it got me embarrassed and it got me a hangover. And it got me in trouble with my parents because for some reason I left my sick-encrusted shoes on the kitchen table.

Fireworks from a new author

I let someone else read ‘Six Months to Get a Life’ at the weekend. Stand back and light the blue touch paper…

Oh, the trauma. What would she think? Would she laugh me out of town or marvel at my whit and stimulating repartee? Would she write me off as a boring fart and chuck the book on the bonfire or beg me to write the sequel by tomorrow night?

Luckily for me, the book didn’t bomb. She genuinely seemed to love the fire in the characters’ bellies, their flare and the finale. She did even ask if she could read the next book, the first chapter of which is included at the end of ‘Six Months…’ Boom!

Once I had got over the relief that she enjoyed it (she read it in one sitting), we got into lots of debates about whether the characters in ‘Six Months…’ would have acted in the way that they did. And whether I should have subjected them to the fireworks that they went through.

It felt a bit like my school English literature lessons when we analysed Hardy’s or Shakespeare’s hidden meanings, only this time I was the author. I still didn’t have much more of a clue though.

The essay questions that she wanted to discuss included how would you characterise Adams’ writing style? What was Adams trying to show when he put in the scene about the marriage guidance counsellor? Would Amy have really told Graham that she was having her period whilst sitting in a pub having a roman candle-lit dinner? Would Graham’s ex really have had such a short fuse?

Even though I wrote the book, I am not sure that my answers to the above (‘God knows’, ‘that he had a sense of humour’, ‘maybe; maybe not’ and ‘yes’) satisfied my new fan. They certainly wouldn’t have satisfied Mrs, er, Katherine Wheel, my old English teacher.

My reviewer – let’s call her Claire because that’s what her mum and dad called her – is only the third person to have read the book so far (well, fourth if you count me). Hopefully I will get final type-set and EPUB versions back in the next week or two and be able to start sharing them with potential reviewers – you know, the ones who don’t know me personally and are likely to be more objective… Gulp!

Other developments on my author journey in the past week include me seeing a first cut of my fancy new author website.

I have had email chats with the man designing my site. I haven’t met him but he is probably only fourteen and already a millionaire. He asked me what apps I would like on my site. I didn’t have a clue. My boys said I should have ‘clash of clans’ put on it. I think they missed the point.

After further discussion, my web designer informed me that I wanted an app that counts down to my publication date, one that gets people to like my facebook page and one that takes people to my twitterings (@benadamsauthor). A website with all bells and whistles – well, I’m glad that’s sorted. There are some great images too. Once it is finished, it should be fully integrated with this blog.

I also published my book blurb on my facebook site. I stuck it there because I was told that I needed to generate unique content to get people to go to facebook. I am just following protocol. Normally I’m not very good at following protocol but as someone who is still new to all this stuff, I will go with the flow for now.

So, I will have facebook, twitter, fancy website, Goodreads and my porn site (oopse, I meant not to mention that one). But will they sell any books?

And what about the actual book? Let’s not forget that the book is, after all, the point of all this online nonsense.

Well, I now know that you can’t sign off the cover until you know how thick the spine has to be. As my man in the know puts it, ‘War and Peace had a big spine. Your book is practically spineless.’ I’ll give him a rocket for that.

Apparently we are still on track for a January release date. Graham Hope wants to introduce himself to the world. Then let the fireworks start…

I think that’s quite enough firework references to justify the topical title, don’t you?

I would like to take this opportunity to say a big thank you to those of you that have taken the time and trouble to comment on my blog. I have committed the cardinal sin and failed dismally to reply to everyone individually. I hope you will forgive me. There just aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything.

I have also been having lots of off-line discussions with fellow fledgling authors about the whole process of getting published. I really value these conversations. One thing that those authors are teaching me is that they aren’t like me at all – they are far more organised and prepared.

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.

Smart-arse.

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. http://www.nikkihollandphotography.co.uk/

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.

Social media for dummies

cover one

‘Six Months to Get a Life’ was with the type-setters for most of the last week. I have just got a version back. It is looking more like a proper book every day. I can now announce, to much fanfare, that the book will be 300 pages long. If you don’t learn anything else today, at least you now know the length of my pride and joy.

While I was waiting for the type-set version to be returned to me, I spent some time gazing at the book’s cover. I must have looked at it for hours. Eventually I saw the spelling mistake. Isn’t it funny how your eyes/brain automatically corrects things like this?

I also spent some time this week getting my head around what I can do to give my book the best possible chance of being noticed.

I am not sure I am any further forward now than I was this time last week though. Boy have I got a lot to learn.

If no one has written ‘social media for dummies’ yet then it is about time someone did!

I started off with facebook. Straightaway I decided that it would be a good idea to keep my drunken ramblings and photos on my personal account separate from the professional image I want to portray on my author account. No one who is considering buying my book wants to know what I got up to in ‘The Nook’ in Weymouth the other Saturday night… No one wants to see my mum putting photos of my dog up there either.

I read a few articles and set about making myself an ‘author page’ on facebook. The page looks good. I have posted some of the stuff that I have talked about in this blog to that page and I will add updates regularly as my author journey continues. Everyone can write on that page if they feel so inclined. https://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/pages/Ben-Adams/582854708503738

But I am discovering that having an author ‘page’ is different from having an author profile. I can’t ‘like’ or even ‘follow’ others from my author page. Unless I am missing something, if I don’t use my personal account, I can only interact with others on my page. I can’t post anything to their pages. That feels a bit selfish to me.

It also makes me wonder how people will find my page. I can’t send friend requests out from a ‘page’ so how can I build up a community?

I have been tweeting about my facebook page this week (@benadamsauthor). But that’s really boring. There is nothing I hate more than dull tweeters. Except, maybe, for Downton Abbey.

In theory at least, I have linked this blog to my facebook account too, but knowing me, my technical knowledge may have resulted in me linking it to a porn site instead.

I could pay for adverts that attract people to my facebook page but that just sounds like a total waste of money.

I guess I just post interesting content and hope people stumble across my site. They may search for it when ‘Six Months to Get a Life’ actually comes out in the new year.

This doesn’t seem a particularly satisfactory answer though. Can anyone tell me what I am missing?

When I haven’t been getting frustrated with facebook, I have been compiling a list of potential reviewers for my book. There are lots of people who appear keen to review contemporary fiction. I have got a good list together and have composed an email that I will personalise and fire off as soon as I have discussed the optimum publication date with my publicist. So fingers crossed I will get a few reviews in within that all-important first month. I will keep my toes crossed too in the hope that the reviews are half-decent!

Thanks to those of you that volunteered to review the book via this blog.

Ben

One step closer to publication: the writer’s journey continues

IMG_0128.JPGMy debut novel, ‘Six Months to Get a Life’ is one step closer to being released.

I wasn’t particularly attentive in my English grammar lessons some twenty-five years ago so I was quite worried about the latest hurdle – an in-depth scrutiny of my work by a professional pedant, sorry I mean proof-reader.

As it happens, the proof-read wasn’t too painful and it has certainly enhanced the quality of my book. All the commas are now in the right place, the tenses present and correct, the apostrophes where they should be (although my proof-reader tried to insert one into a reference to Frankie and Bennys which irked me somewhat) and the paragraphs are all of the required length.

So why isn’t ‘Six Months…’ out there now, available to download?

Well, it isn’t out there yet because I want to create some interest in it first. I don’t want a damp squib of a launch, where my mother and my closest mates are the only ones to register that the book exists.

I want people I have never met before to have heard of the book and to want to read it.

How do I achieve this? Well, if I am honest, I haven’t got a clue.

I could run naked around the streets of London waving the cover around. After careful consideration I have dismissed this idea for a whole host of reasons, most prominent amongst which is the fact that people would be put off rather than turned on.

I could bombard people with tweets about my book for the next few months, but that has been done before. It just bores people stupid.

I could… er, pay a professional who knows what he/she is doing to promote my book. Which, in fact, is what I have done.

I have employed a publicist. The publicist comes as part of the package I bought to help me produce the book. To date, this package has included some excellent editorial support and cover design. The company concerned is currently type-setting the book too.

I have read about the merits or otherwise of paying someone to help you publish your book. Some people frown upon the sort of services that I have bought. They say things like ‘either do it all yourself or get yourself an agent and publishing deal’. Well, I haven’t got the time or the expertise to do it all myself and I couldn’t be bothered to write off a gazillion letters to agents. So I have gone with the hybrid approach of retaining control of my book’s publication but paying to bring in expertise as and when I need it.

I have wanted to write a book for ages. I took the decision to invest in my dream to give it the best possible chance of being successful.

I am expecting the publicist to produce a press-release, picking out a newsworthy angle related to the book and then touting the book to international and national publishing media. Who knows what level of interest the book will receive via that route.

In addition, having read numerous accounts from other self-published authors, I have decided to supplement my publicist’s work by contacting book review bloggers. I have got my material ready to send once I receive the type-set version back.

I am apprehensive about what the reviewers will say. Will they even agree to review my book? They must get hundreds of requests to review books. If they do review it, will they like it? So far, my twelve year old son and my editor are the only people to have read my book. My son read it on his kindle which is linked to my account and only confessed to having read it after he had finished it. He liked it but that is probably because it had the ‘f’ word in it a couple of times.

I am proud of my book. I believe that it is written to a good standard, but what I can’t be sure of until the reviews start coming in is whether the story will capture the reader’s imagination. The risk is that the book will be launched in January 2015, not to a fanfare of endorsements but to a deluge of mediocre reviews.

I guess I have just got to put it out there and see what happens.

If you would be interested in receiving an advance reader copy of the book in exchange for writing a review (with no obligation for the review to be anything other than honest), I would love to hear from you. Either DM me via @benadamsauthor on twitter or leave your email address as a comment (I won’t publish the comment but will see it).

Feel free to comment on any other aspect of this blog post too.

Ben

Google: my new BFF

six months to get a life02 street sign‘Six months to get a life’ is coming along nicely. I am still working my way through the manuscript, fine-tuning it ready for submission to the proof-readers by the end of the month. The aim now is to publish early in 2015. I can’t wait.

It occurred to me today that I should add in an ‘author’s note’ or ‘acknowledgements’ page of some sort.

If I was being brutally honest, my author’s note would say something like:

“This book has been made possible in no small part thanks to the efforts of Mr and Mrs Google. Their dedication to the project has been nothing short of immense. They have never let me down whenever I have called upon them. They are true professionals. Oh, and can I thank my children and my editor too.”

Of course I use a million other meticulous research methods to ensure that the facts in my book are unfailingly accurate. Without a doubt though, I have used google the most.

I thought it would be fun to list a few of my searches.

Women’s dress types (I am a bloke after all!!)

Different approaches to marriage guidance

The medical term for the heel bone

Boxer shorts v briefs

Ridiculous job titles

Festivals in Weymouth, UK, in June

Small live music venues, London, 1968

Correcting errors on a birth certificate

The difference between compliment and complement (I should have listened more in English lessons)

Workplace jargon

Sexually transmitted diseases (I was glad I had no first-hand knowledge of this topic)

Typical book word length (I was anxious to avoid a ‘War and Peace’ scenario)

It would be great to hear some of the more bizarre google searches you have undertaken.

And, google, as I have sung your praises here, in return can you please put my book as the first search result people see whenever they search for anything to do with divorce, relationships, family life, comedy, sex and contemporary fiction for the entire month of January please.

Ben

And my editor said…

I love my editor. I have never met her and she may already be married but make no bones about it, I love her.

I sent my first book, ‘six months to get a life’ off to her a few weeks ago. I have been a nervous wreck ever since.

By the time the book came back, my nails were shorter, my hair greyer and my blood pressure higher.

But the wait was worth it. She likes it! She thinks it’s funny and that it could be a commercial success.

Of course she didn’t just say that everything about it was perfect. In fact she has provided lots of really constructive suggestions that I will now be enthusiastically working on over the summer.

In particular, she has challenged me to develop the characters more. Particularly for those of you that are writing your first book at the moment, I thought I would share some of her comments.

At specific points in the text she has posed questions like:

“Does he think Julia fancies him?”

“Is it OK by Graham? Does he mind being told he isn’t great in bed?”

“Shouldn’t Graham acknowledge that he’s being a bit of a dickhead?”

“Could you use this as an opportunity to show us what’s going on in Sean’s head?”

“More of a reaction/comment here from Graham, please.”

“Pretty twattish response from Graham – we should see her anger.”

“Wouldn’t Graham think about sex more? Wouldn’t he want to know about Dave & Helen? Has he slept with Amy? Does he want to? Does he think he will?”

“So what’s he like? Describe him. Can we see Graham being bitchy/jealous/competitive.”

“Does Graham fancy ‘short skirt Sarah’? He’s single again – he’d be considering the idea, wouldn’t he? Space here for him to think about whether he’s attracted to her/feels attractive himself/is he ready for anything new/what’s his self-image/how confident does he feel? Etc. Try to do it via physical details, eg might he check to see if he’s got a beer belly/does it show/should he go to the gym later.”

My editor also said a couple of things that I would love your views on.

“Really? I don’t believe a parent of teenagers wouldn’t have heard of au pairs.” What do you think? Have most parents of teenagers heard of au pairs?

“Coffee? Teenagers don’t drink coffee.” Is she right here? Are my kids odd?!

And whilst she liked a lot of the funny lines in the book, she didn’t think this one worked. Do you?
“I actually took my ring off on Christmas day and chucked it under a sofa in my family home in disgust at being bought a ‘beard care set’ for Christmas. I haven’t even got a beard.”