Tag Archives: creative writing

Self Publishing One Year On – Has it been worth it?

It’s just over a year since I took the plunge and published my local history book about Whomerley Wood Moat in Stevenage, and since then have made four more available to the book buying public.  Five paperbacks in a year, each one quite different. Probate – A Personal Journey is a diarised account of events during carrying out probate on my late mother-in-law’s estate. Three Courses is an anthology of twenty five short stories, Thinking in the Cloud is a compilation of thirty five poems and Twelve Dozen Limericks is, well, what it says it is! The limericks were written over a period of about three months, and to be honest I was lucky to get to 144 without running out of inspiration!

book covers - all five

The cost of self-publishing the books was quite low, the biggest expense being the purchase of a wedge of ISBNs. It is only possible to buy a minimum of ten, and that was a whopping £144. Apart from the monetary cost, there was also the time spent in preparation for publication. Having said that, it needn’t be a huge commitment.  For instance, for the Limericks book I decided to take advantage of a free shipping offer from Lulu which only lasted two days, uploaded the text and the covers on a Sunday afternoon, received the print copy for checking on the Tuesday morning and the print book was available for distribution that evening. From my computer to worldwide publication in two days!  Mind you, the text was already laid out and proof read many times over, and the covers were ready to go before I started with Lulu.

I chose Lulu as the Print on Demand house, mostly because of the transparency of their publishing process and because they are free to use. Their profits come from the sale of your books, rather than setting them up. Actually, they are not quite free, because once you have your book uploaded and ready to go, you have to purchase an author print copy to approve before Lulu will release your work to the world. That still wasn’t big bucks though, and the print cost of the book was mostly overshadowed by the shipping charge. It’s worth mentioning that Lulu are happy to provide a free ISBN when you publish through them. It’s a matter of personal choice, but I didn’t want Lulu to be the named publisher of my books, preferring to use my own imprint Cade Books.

My sales expectations were not high, mostly because I wasn’t planning to spend a lot of time and money publicising the books, but sales to date have hit almost 200. To think that all those people bought a piece of my writing and some even came back for more is quite a thrill. The best seller out of the print copies has been the local history book ‘Whomerley Wood Moat’, with 93 copies sold, and the ‘Probate – A Personal Journey’ book is second with 54 sales. It’s interesting that of the Kindle sales, the ‘probate’ book stands far ahead of all the others with 28 downloads purchased out of a total of 40 for all the books.

Although ‘self-publishing’ means you get to do much of the book distribution yourself, Lulu has been responsible for distributing over a quarter of the print books sold. All of those purchased from Amazon or in a bookshop have been supplied directly by Lulu. Kindle downloads are made direct from Amazon of course, but almost half of the copies sold have been ordered directly from me either by email or using my eBay selling page. This is what the distribution percentages look like.

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So, was it worth doing? The answer to that is a definite ‘Yes’. I realise that compared to best-selling authors, my contribution to the book market is very small beer, but seeing my local history book for sale in the local museum, and others sitting on the shelves at our town library and available on Amazon makes me break out in a huge grin!

Take a look at the Cade Books tab at the top of my blog if you’d like to find out more about the books.

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Twelve Dozen Limericks – Now available!

Lulu ‘print on demand’ is truly amazing! I finished editing my little book of 144 brand new limericks on Sunday afternoon, and spent an hour and a bit uploading it to Lulu. The most difficult part was remembering how to transfer the cover design into their pre-defined formats, but even that didn’t take too long. So Sunday evening I pressed the ‘go’ button, and ordered a proof copy or few, which you have to buy and then check over before Lulu will send the book for retail distribution. Look at what arrived in the post this morning, Tuesday.  From uploading the book to the print copies dropping on the door mat took only about 36 hours!

five books

The book printed exactly how I expected it to, so it is now approved for distribution. It will be a while before Amazon have a print copy, but it’s for sale already as a Kindle download for 99p here, and the print copies are also available on eBay for £4.99 with free UK p&p from philsbookshop. If you have Kindle Unlimited you can download it now for free! All the buying options are under the Cade Books tab at the top of this page.

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Thinking in the Cloud Poetry Book

thinking in the cloud covers 3 front

I hope you like the collection of my poetry I’ve chosen for this new book. Most of them are freshly written and cover a wide range of subjects which are close to my heart. Some follow a strict poetic form, but I get a warm naughty feeling when I break the rules so there is plenty of that. Also tucked inside the collection of thirty nine poems is some free verse, comic rhymes, and a rap and of course the title poem – Thinking in the Cloud. Click on the Cade Books tab above to see how you can get a copy!

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Three Courses – Short Story Fiction and Google Book Search

The new book of short stories is now up on Amazon in both Kindle download and print editions. Initial feedback from readers has been good, and although not all of the stories are to everyone’s taste, there seems to be something for everyone to enjoy. If you have bought a copy, thank you very much. Please let me know what you think either by leaving a review on Amazon or getting in touch with me direct.

three cOUrses back and front

Details about the book and how to buy a copy can be found under the Cade Books tab on my WordPress blog, or go direct by clicking here.

Well, that’s one Local History, one ‘How To’ and one short story fiction book finished. Now it’s on to poetry. Some will have noticed from my lack of Facebook and Twitter presence that I have had my head down for the last few weeks. The reason is that I’ve been writing new poems to add to the small collection created over the years. I want the book to be fresh and current, so although I will include some of the old ones, most will be newly written. Watch this space for progress!

I have been wondering about Google Book Search recently. If you submit a book you have published, they include the text in their searchable database and highlight the match if anyone Googles for a particular term that’s mentioned in your work. On the face of it, this sounds like a neat idea, but I’m a bit put off that Google can display 20% (more if you specify it) of your book. On the other hand, if someone is checking out your book in a library they get to see it all for free! For me, I’m happy to share my writing because I do it for fun. However, I can see that an author who is trying to carve out a living might not want to share such a big chunk of work. Sixty pages from a three hundred page novel is quite a read for free! The bottom line is that I have released my Probate book to Google Book Search. It will be interesting to see how it affects sales!

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Three Courses – Short Stories from Creative Writing Modules

Thank you to my Facebook and WordPress friends who encouraged me to press ahead with publishing my anthology of creative writing!

three cOUrses front

I found this book much harder to put out there than Whomerley Wood Moat and Probate, probably because with my engineering background I am more comfortable with factual writing. Fiction is different. The reader gets to know how you think. They judge your ability to please them. Will they be bored? Will they smile or laugh out loud? Will they believe in wherever you take them? Will they keep turning the pages?
Now is the time to find out the answers!
Details about the book and how to buy a copy can be found under the Cade Books tab on my WordPress blog, or go direct by clicking here.

It’s available direct from me (signed copies, free UK p&p), from eBay (signed copies, free UK p&p), and from Lulu Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu. .

Amazon have it on Kindle download here, and should have the print book in stock within a week or two.

If you decide to buy a copy, thank you. I hope you enjoy the stories as much as I loved writing them.

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Anthology of Creative Writing

I have been sitting on the fence the past few weeks wondering whether or not to publish an anthology of short stories to add to my Whomerley Wood Moat and Probate book titles.

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There is quite a large collection of mixed genres, and many were written as assessed work during the Open University Creative Writing modules. And that has been the holding factor. The OU has, quite rightly, very strong rules about plagiarism and say they take a tough line if anyone is discovered copying the work of others. Although they seem to be happy to allow students to publish their work, my concern is that anyone doing so may be actively encouraging plagiarism.
While I’ve been contemplating whether or not to go ahead, I’ve been selecting what I think are my best bits of writing, reviewing each story in some depth, cutting, sometimes savagely, and rewriting extensively. Murdering my darlings I believe is the idiomatic term. However, I still felt some discomfort and that publication was not a wise move. Until last night, that is.
So, what has changed my mind?
Firstly, I have discovered it has been done before. And at least once with the unashamed blessing of the OU. In fact, Amazon have a number of student anthologies available for download as do sites such as Ink Pantry.
Then I realised that I wasn’t planning to publish ‘assessed work’ as such. The clue is included above. I have murdered my darlings. The work is not the same as I submitted on the modules. Hopefully it is more professional, more readable and more digestible!
And anyway, no-one will have access to tutor comments or advice, or indeed the marks awarded for each piece (although between you and me I did rather well). So anyone trying to pass my writing off as theirs is taking quite a chance.
Finally, the OU make extensive use of plagiarism detection software. If I go ahead and publish, there is a good chance that this software would quickly pick up any attempts to re-use what I have written. Plagiarism detectors are actually pretty good. I know because I used them a fair bit to make sure I hadn’t inadvertently copied something and failed to provide a citation.
So, my plan is to run through the editing process again, then again, and probably once again and then publish. Certainly it will be available as a Kindle download on Amazon, and as I’m a bit old-fashioned about this sort of thing I shall probably publish a printed version as well.
Right – now I need a catchy title and a cover design…

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Losing the plot? Or not?

The flush of success from Whomerley Wood Moat is fading a little and, although I’m over the moon with all the interest shown so far, I need a new fix! A deep heart-felt thank you to everyone who bought a copy of the book, and if you didn’t it isn’t too late. Just click on the Cade Books tab above for details about how to get a copy. And to wrap up this topic, here’s the half page spread that appeared in the local paper.
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I’m feeling a little empty after completing my BA(Hons) with the OU last October. The degree was spread over five years (regular readers will remember I studied three Level 3 modules, so did the honours year twice. For fun). That was five years filled with reading, learning, completing assignments, interacting with tutors and other students, keeping to deadlines and generally stressing out (in a good way). Five months after finishing, I’m missing the studying like crazy.

So, am I losing the plot to even consider starting up again? There are two options on the cards at the moment. An MA in English is one of them. The reading list is peppered with poetry from Milton’s Paradise Lost to Byron, prose from Wide Sargasso Sea and Jane Eyre to Robinson Crusoe and Foe, and plays from Antigone to Coriolanus. To be honest though, I’m not sure I have the passion needed to get sufficiently excited about works such as these. But I could try, and would probably find the study stimulating and challenging.

On the other hand, there’s the option of a BSc(Hons). The whole point of the BA was to get stuck into arts and creativity after a lengthy career in engineering science and technology. But I could sign up for some science modules, of which there are sure to be many that interest me, for a few years.

The only downside to further study is the expense involved. My BA was completed under what the OU called ‘transitional’ fees (which is why I swung an extra Level 3 while the cost was at the old rate). From now on though, the module fees will be more than three times what I paid.

Studying aside, there is still plenty of writing going on. There are two novels on the go. They were both started during NaNoWriMo, and are in various stages of re-writing at the moment. Then there’s an anthology of prose and verse containing some of the writing from the OU Creative Writing modules. It is interesting to look back at some of these pieces and to perform some much-needed heavy edits. ‘Did I actually write that?’ And I have some ideas for e-Books as well.

So, it isn’t that I have no choices.

Perhaps I’m just looking for an excuse to get out of that long list of jobs around the house!

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NaNoWriMo 2014, Week 4

It feels a tad fraudulent to hang this post on the NaNoWriMo title, because last Friday I had only 4000 words to go and over a week to finish. As it turned out, the miserable weather on Sunday meant I had some extra writing time and managed to complete the competition last weekend.
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Reverend Stocks hoisted himself up and vaulted over the top, landing with a thud the other side. The vicar had expected the back yard to be in darkness, but it was quite brightly lit from the small kitchen window at the back of the shop. He pulled back the bolts top and bottom, and Rufus squeezed past the dustbin and through the gate, looking into the kitchen. Although there were net curtains at the window, it was quite easy to see inside and he could make out the sink directly below him, the door to the shop and the other one leading up the stairs to the flat.
‘There’s nobody here,’ said Rufus as the vicar joined him.
‘What’s that?’
‘What?’ said Rufus.
‘Down there, on the floor, by the door.’
Rufus had to stand on tiptoe to see the floor.
‘It looks like a slipper, or a shoe or something,’ he said.
The vicar tried the handle on the back door, but it wouldn’t budge.
‘I’m getting a bad feeling here,’ he said. ‘Do you think we should break down the door?’
‘Or just call the police?’ replied Rufus. He didn’t want to get into any sort of trouble, not with them already half accusing him of theft.
The vicar had already decided though, and took a run at the door. The wood splintered easily around the lock, and the door flew open with the vicar stumbling over the threshold as it suddenly gave way.
‘Oh my God,’ he said. ‘There’s someone here!’
Rufus ran inside behind him. Myra was laying on the floor behind the shop counter, one foot showing through the door to the kitchen.
‘Myra! Myra! ‘cried Rufus, kneeling beside her and slapping her cheeks with the palms of his hands. ‘Paul, vicar, call an ambulance.’
The vicar picked the receiver up from the telephone on the counter and dialled 999.
‘Myra!’ Rufus kept saying, but she didn’t open her eyes. He felt her neck for a pulse, but there was nothing there so he put his ear to her half-open mouth. Nothing.
The vicar was watching what Rufus was doing as he told the emergency services where to come, and as soon as he finished he crouched down the other side of Myra.
‘She’s gone,’ said Rufus.
The vicar put his ear to Myra’s chest. He got up, slowly.
‘Poor Myra,’ he said. ‘Poor, poor Myra.’
‘What do you think it was?’ asked Rufus.
‘Maybe she died of a broken heart after losing Tom last week?’ said the vicar.
Rufus thought about the insurance policies he had seen in the flat. Myra didn’t seem particularly grief stricken when he was talking to her up there.
‘Perhaps she tripped over something and hit her head?’ said Rufus.
‘Could be,’ replied the vicar. ‘I guess the ambulance people will get the police involved.’
Rufus looked around the shop, but there was nothing unusual as far as he could see. Just the galvanised buckets with flowers in them, most of which had seen better days. Shelves with plant accessories, vases, ribbons and name tags, things that people buy when they buy flowers. A mug on the counter.
‘Looks as though she was having a mug of tea,’ said the vicar.
Rufus picked up the mug. He stared at its contents for a while, then took a small sip, instantly spitting it back into the mug.
‘She was having a drink,’ said Rufus wiping his lips with the back of his hand. ‘But it wasn’t tea.’

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Completing NaNo was exciting and brought much satisfaction, but not as much as receiving the result of my final OU module, U316 The Environmental Web, a week early. This was my third Level 3 module – you only need two for the BA(Hons), but I swung another one under the old funding structure – and it turned up trumps with a Distinction, giving me sufficient points to claim a First Class degree classification. So, that is the end of the Open University journey for me, unless (and this is highly unlikely) I go for a post graduate qualification. Watch this space!

There’s a new project on the table already. Stevenage has more than its fair share of ancient woodland, and in one of the woods where we walk the dogs there is a moat which apparently dates from around the 13th century. It is reported that inside this moat stood a homestead which, of course, is now long gone and the area looks much the same as the rest of the wood. I have been fascinated by the thought of this for many years. What would the homestead have looked like? What was life like for the family? How did they make a living? There appears to be very little information available, but I plan to track down what little there is and paint a mental image of life there 800 years or so ago. Wish me luck!

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NaNoWriMo 2014, Week 2

Second week of NaNoWriMo and a bit ahead !

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Writing has been a bit of a struggle this week, and I’ve spent quite a lot of time staring at the screen on my PC churning the main plot over in my mind and getting not very far.  Then, on Wednesday, my writing buddy helped me out when she said she was using oodles of characters.  I only have four main characters, and a few minor ones to keep things swinging along, so decided to introduce a couple more.  This worked well, because to get them in, I had to introduce a new aspect to the main plot.

 Jane had lived on the farm all of her life.  Her parents kept a small dairy herd of about a hundred cows, which had to milked twice each day.  The milking routine was set in stone.  Six o’clock sharp, her father would walk down to the lower pasture and drive the herd back along the lane to be milked.  They would have a good mineral feed at the same time before being allowed to find their way back through the top field.  Around eight o’clock the truck collecting the twenty five or so churns of pre-treated milk would turn up to transport them to the dairy.  Then it would start again at four in the afternoon.  Every day, week in week out.  The only variation was if the winter was very bad, and the cows had to be brought into the barns for the season.

It wasn’t a life that Jane wanted, and she knew her parents were upset that she wasn’t interested in taking a part in the farm when she left school.  It was a wonderful place to live, to be sure, but Jane wanted much more from life than wiping down cow’s udders and collecting the hens and goose’s eggs that they sold from a rickety wooden bench at the end of the lane.

She could see a few cattle in the top field, just released after being milked, so Jane knew she was a little late getting home.

‘Come on Jolly,’ she said,’ We’re almost there.’

‘Hello Jane!’

Jane looked over to the back of the milking parlour, and waved her arm.

Charles was the herdsman who helped put with the milking.  He’d worked on the farm as long as Jane could remember.  He wore huge wellington boots with baggy grey trousers tucked into their tops , and a ragged brown jumper under a duffle coat streaked with mud.  Charles had worn that outfit forever.

The farm house was on the right of the lane, a huge imposing building with ivy growing up its walls on each side except for the back.  A porch protected the front door, although nobody ever used that.  Just inside the porch, above the doorway, a double bore shotgun rested on a couple of brackets.  Jane didn’t remember it ever being used, but was kept there ‘just in case’.  She wasn’t sure what ‘just in case’ it was actually for.

 Here’s the NaNo bar chart showing progress to date.  Notice the blip in the middle of the week, Days 10 and 11 !

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So, I now know where I’m going with the story and have an ending in mind, although it may yet take a bit of a twist.  And with less than 20,000 words to go I’m hoping the next couple of weeks will be a smooth ride.

Watch this space !

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NaNoWriMo 2014, Week 1

My ‘novel in a month’ for 2014 is on its way, to the tune of 17,000 words!

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The writing has gone quite smoothly so far, probably because I have a plot outline and the first few chapters mapped out.  I decided to use Excel this year for the plotting, and it’s turned out to be quite useful.  It’s easy to move the cell contents about, keep a note of the various goings-on, and make comments to follow up later (when I’ve forgotten what I was planning to happen next!).

Rufus had been a good copper.  He’d wanted to be one as early back as he could remember.  Most of his pals had their sights set on becoming a train driver, a pilot, the captain of a ship.  They all thought he was mad.  Then, as soon as he was old enough, Rufus had joined the local police cadet unit.  He left school after failing his A level exams, but sailed through his police entry tests.

The two year probationary period had gone well, and Rufus enjoyed being on the beat, chatting with locals and helping out the community whenever he got the chance.  He had no interest in applying to work in specialist fields, or taking exams for promotion to sergeant.  He was happy just being an ordinary copper.

Only thing was, his wife was not so happy.  She wanted a bigger house, a nicer car, finer clothes.  She wanted friends to envy her lifestyle.  Rufus took an evening job at a local supermarket to make ends meet.  Whenever he had time off at weekends, he did odd jobs for people for extra cash.

But still the credit card bills mounted up.  A luxury spa here, a posh hairdo there.

Word count for the first week is a bit surprising, because I made the (usually fatal) mistake of going back and re-writing a whole chapter.  But I’m still well ahead, and in line to finish on time.

Here’s my handy bar graph supplied by the NaNo people:

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It rather looks as though lots of people in London started off this year, but the word count is slowing down now.  I think the same thing happened last year.  Isn’t it amazing that about 13 million words have been written in the first week alone!  Here’s the London chart:

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Although it’s still early on in the challenge, I have high hopes of putting together a half decent story (unlike last year’s rather random plot).  It’ll need a few months of rewriting I’m sure, but fingers crossed there will be something reasonable at the end!

Best of luck to everyone who is having a go this year.

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