Tag Archives: poetry

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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What is Poetry?

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Inspiration has flown out of the window this past week or two. The river of ideas which was flowing into my new poetry collection has suffered days of drought and all I see is crazed terracotta. The occasional light shower creates a few shoots from seeds blown in on life’s breeze, but they shrivel into twisted black threads.
Advice at this point usually boils down to ‘Write, just write.’ That’s all very well, but what’s the point of spewing out poppycock? I believe the thinking behind the advice is that the random assortment of words spread over the page will somehow get rearranged into an attractive collection of stimulating sonnets and thought-provoking villanelles. A bit like a potter turns a blob of clay into a beautiful vase, or a painter creates a fabulous picture from worms of coloured oil on his palette. It doesn’t work like that with me. I end up with lines that rhyme, with mathematically correct metre, and stressed syllables creating accurate iambs. That’s poetry, isn’t it, you may ask. Not for me it isn’t.
Rhymes come two a penny. Look at the zillions of greetings cards on the market. The rhymes can make you giggle, make you sigh, make you hoot, sometimes make you cry. But they get thrown away with the cards. Do you remember them? Do they change your life? Do you feel what was in the mind of the creator when the rhymes were written?
Poetry surely is more than rhythm and style. Doesn’t it have to be sensual? Make your heart miss a beat? Take you to a beautiful place and leave you there even after you have stopped reading? Nod your head as you empathise with the writer’s emotions? OK, this is getting a bit yawn-provoking, but you know what I mean: There is surely a difference between rhymes and poetry. Sometimes it is subtle, sometimes it is restrained. But a difference there is.
So, is my new collection anything more than an assortment of lines where the end words rhyme? I just had a look at those written so far. Yes, some are a bit clinical, especially the couple of pantoums where it seems more work went into the structure than it did the turn of phrase. Some are a bit mathematical, like the chocolate cupcake one shaped like a… cupcake. And some are amusing with no purpose other than to raise a titter or two. As for the others, I read them again and they evoked a range of sentiments inside me. But of course that isn’t the point. I know full well what I meant when I wrote them, what I was feeling, the symbolism, the background. The point is, will the words mean anything to the reader?
I’m not going to find out just yet though, because I want forty poems for the collection and still have five to go. And inspiration has flown out of the window.
Which is where I was when I started writing this blog entry!

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Death by Sound

That’s the last time I finish a blog with ‘What to do?’  Had forgotten my wife always reads them.  So spent most of last week treating the back garden fences with preservative.  Best make sure I have lots of OU work to do in the future…

Talking of which, the forums have pretty well died completely on A363.  Even the cafe, where anyone in the world taking the course can join in, has been remarkably quiet.  There have, of course, been the usual ‘When do the results come through?’ question and answer sessions.  I have to admit to being totally daft here, because already I’m checking the home page to see if they’ve arrived, even though I know they won’t be out until early August.

One thing I must work out before the next course starts, is how to set up an index on this blog.  Previous attempts haven’t met with any success, and even though I successfully posted a picture a few weeks back, whatever I did then, no longer seems to work!  Clearly I must try harder (where did I hear that before?).

Thought I might occasionally post some of my A215 and A363 work here.  Why?  Well, it’s probably the only way it will be read by more than a dozen people.  And it might just spark some ideas for creative writing students who have reached that dreaded state of blank brain syndrome.  Sometimes, just thinking ‘I can do better than that load of rubbish.’ can be very helpful.

Death by Sound

Ear worm, what pleasures do you find

inside my head?  Your constant hiss

of steam, when all around is quiet.

To wake in silence, just a dream.

 

Your autumn rustle all year through,

with tuning strings perpetual

cacophony.  A prison term,

a life of  jangling symphony.

 

Like ocean waves on shingled shore

ensnared within an empty conch

to dance, with dream-world music spinning

rapidly in abstract trance.

 

Must flee this never ending shriek

that fuddles minds from deep inside

one’s ear with constant clamour.  Might

you be the final sound I hear.

 

I originally included an epigraph with this, to help the reader understand what I was writing about, but thought it might be fun to let you guess.

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A363, Advanced Creative Writing, Eventful Week 25!

My poetry assignment TMA05 came back this week, with an OK result.  Tutor comments were very useful on the whole, although places where I’d tried to include some of the stuff we’d learned like eye-rhymes (yes, I know the words don’t actually rhyme, but they look as though they should) don’t seem to have been well-received, interpretation of a few lines seemed more difficult than I thought, and there was modest disagreement on whether certain lines scanned correctly (how do you pronounce behemoth?).  But apart from the disastrous TMA02, my marks are, at least, consistent and I shall learn a great deal from the advice.

Also, the final assignment, TMA06 went off on Wednesday.  I’m pleased I posted it to the TGF, although only one student decided to pass comment and some of that was quite helpful.  I wish our group forums had been more popular.  Hopefully the tutor will like the way I’ve styled the life writing piece, otherwise it’ll be a case of starting again and only four weeks or so to go!  If you’re curious, I have a central thread which is written using first person stream of consciousness, following the protagonist as she makes her way to where she ends her life.  This thread generates flashbacks to some of the life events which have led her to take this drastic action.  I think it works, but it may not be everyone’s cup of tea.  The story is basically true, but is fictionalised (I wasn’t there one hundred years ago!) to fill in the gaps.

I asked the OU if they’d send me some old assignment questions from E301, but they responded that they didn’t do that.  Mind you, they did send me some on E300 and E303 last year, and even sent the last assignment booklet for the English MA just a few weeks ago!  Never mind.  I’ve decided not to go for the essay-intensive Art of English, and to wait for English Grammar in Context to come around next February.  That means I might even have time to tackle NaNoWriMo this year!

It’s also a big birthday week!  A close pal’s yesterday, my wife’s today, mine tomorrow and another close friend’s on Tuesday.  Much exchanging of birthday cards has been going on!  I know it’s a cliche and awful grammar, but the years don’t half pass by quicker the older you get, do they not?

Two years to the OAP…Tally Ho!

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Busy week on A363, Advanced Creative Writing

Should have been at the theatre in half an hour (remember, dick-a-dum-dum?), but since they haven’t phoned to say they’ve resold our tickets I guess there’ll be two empty seats.  Hope he doesn’t take it personally.

This has been a busy week on OU stuff.

TMA4 was returned on Monday, and not only was the EMA plan acceptable to the tutor, but it also shows up on the score record as 100%!  Such a shame it doesn’t count when aggregating the bottom line.  Mind you, the tutor did point out that I had bitten off quite a big challenge with the life-writing I want to do, but I think I’m up to it.

TMA5 whizzed off to the OU via that awful submit button yesterday.  Not due until next Thursday, but last night I cracked the thing that had been bugging me for weeks.  It was in the villanelle.  Although using the strict form the refrain gets repeated throughout the poem, I really really wanted to give it a subtle variation the final time it appears on the penultimate line.  Changing punctuation would have worked, and I changed it, changed it back, changed it again (get the picture?), but I wanted more than that.  At last, I found that simply swapping two words around did the trick and I suddenly felt this huge sense of relief.  So I wrapped it up and sent off my 105 lines.  Even if doing poetry turns out to be a huge mistook, I’ve absolutely enjoyed writing it, especially those foody sonnets!

Last night, I noticed a message on my student home page about transitional fees.  Apparently we have to indicate now, which qualification we are going for under the transitional arrangements.  Easy for me, because I’m now just one (but a big one) module away from my BA(Hons).  So I clicked confidently on the button to register, but the only choices open were BA or ‘Something Else’, no BA(Hons).  Now, the rule for the TFs is that they allow you to complete your undergraduate qualification under the existing fee structure (for me, £700 instead of £2500).  So now I’m wondering if the TFs only last until the ordinary degree is complete, and the Hons year isn’t covered.  Email sent, awaiting reply, biting fingernails.

A clear path to the A363 EMA, then!  TMA6 is the Mk2 plan, due in on 5th April, and the final EMA submission has to sent by 17th May.  I’m about halfway through and currently have brain block, but there’s loads of time and this is a piece of fictionalised family history I want to write for me, never mind the EMA, so all will be well.

Like I said, a busy week!

 

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