I’m thrilled to have a good friend of mine over at the blog today. My former cohort on Close to the Bone, Craig Douglas, is publishing stories like it’s no-one’s business at the moment and he’s here to reveal the true life of a writer – it ain’t as glamorous as you may think!
It seems that to get very far in the writing world, bar persistence and a dogged approach, you need a name behind you and a reputation to boot. Take for instance celebrities who for most hold no real writing talent. Autobiographies are written by the celebrities but heavily edited by the unknown talent. Perhaps most concerning are the writing deals offered to fledgling celebrities who, still wet behind their ears, are yet to trip over themselves in the limelight. The winners of the X-factor ‘Little Mix’ have been offered a deal to produce their autobiography. I would argue against the term ‘Autobiography’ and replace it with ‘Biography’ since no paragraph will go untarnished by a proof-reader’s hawk eyes. Not so sure on their ages, but they’re a little young to start a life story. Who’s the target audience? ‘Little Mix’ fans that’s who and they’ll be in their millions. Let’s hope the book is full of pictures.
I checked out how many followers ‘Little Mix’ has and it’s not millions, but at the time of writing 704,226 – that’s a lot of potential book buyers. And there we are trying to harness a little culture of fans on our websites, going the slow route. If you want to make a fortune go on TV and become famous, then write a book. Justin Bieber would make a killing as he’s got more followers on Twitter than Barack Obama beating him by 7 million – the US president’s only got 19,708,407. Imagine the book sales if Bieber wrote a book. That said, he probably already has several ‘life stories’ on the market.
Katie Price has probably never read any of the books that have her name lavishly spread across the cover. Katie doesn’t seem the type who could string a sentence together. She does, however, claim to have an input into the plot of her work.
Look at Andy McNab or Chris Ryan. Their names spark the imagination of the masses. The names of former SAS soldiers would add credence to any military fiction authors’ work whose name wouldn’t stop you in your tracks at a book store. In this case the name itself is powerful; therefore it outweighs the subject matter. I’ve seen someone take this up with the name of Steven King; just change the Christian name slightly and you might get away with it. More fool the people who buy that e-book.
When you write you need to ask yourself a question. Who am I writing for? If you’re writing for yourself then that’s okay, but understand that you’re not likely to make a fortune if your following is you. If you’re writing for the masses with the intention of making a living then you need to plug into the minds of the audience you are targeting. What is the public perception of the work you’re producing? It won’t work with non-fiction obviously, but with fiction you need to step into the mind of the ‘average Joe’ who will pick up your product and read it. Some people (myself included) are often on a different planet while writing, but I find going a little crazy and free writing encourages the brain into writing mode – it’s my coping strategy to get back on piste.
Some people – since the advent of the e-publishing revolution (because that’s what it is: trees give a sigh of relief) – want nothing more than to see their names on the cover of virtual book on Amazon or Smashwords. If you’re unlucky to have bought their books your Kindle will be graced with prose a chimpanzee could have surpassed in quality.
Speaking of chimpanzee writing standards, I decided to jump onto the virtual world of publishing in January and discovered how greedy people were. Selling a book for 77p was just too expensive – as soon as I put it on Amazon for free I had 800 downloads in a day. The minute it went back up to 77p ($0.99) sales stopped. I released the start of my David Cresswell series. I find it easy to work in the mind of the character, because I enjoy the banter the character has within himself. It’s like a release valve for some of the things I’d like to say, but don’t because their either insulting or politically incorrect. My mind is not a very polite place to be.
‘Opportunity Knocks’ is based on a story that was retold in my office one day. I laughed so much at the punch line that I nearly fell off my chair. I already knew the main character and based it on a friend of mine. I can visualise him, and hear him – job done really. You could analyse this and say it’s a snap shot of society today and it all about options, drink and taking responsibility for our actions as well as police corruption. But, I wanted to put a tale told by a friend on paper and had a laugh about it.
‘Bad Karma’ tells the tale of David again, this time on his round as a binman and a practical joke gone wrong. This, you could say, has a deeper meaning; every action has a reaction or something about guilt.
‘Viva Espana’ is David’s holiday in Spain. It’s a controlled affair due to the presence of the women. If I’d had a load of blokes then it would have gotten out of control; hospitals, sex and police. I wrote this 2 years ago and finished it last year. Due to the inclusion of bird flu you might get a gist of the time zone for this.
Then there’s ‘A Scattering of Ashes’. It’s a collection of short stories written by me. I’ve been told by some smart arse that it’s not an anthology, as an anthology is a collection of written works by other authors where these stories are all written by me. I’ve based this collection on the common theme of conflict. There’s a lot of stuff in this book, there’s war, revolution and internal revulsion and disillusionment at society from the perspective of a returning soldier. You should have a look, even if it’s only to look at the free shortened downloadable version; see for yourself.
A Scattering of Ashes: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/100730