Monday, March 28, 2016

Coming Soon to a 'Buy Now' Button Near You - The Pitch!

Well, it’s four days ‘til Wilful Misunderstandings hits publication date and becomes available to anyone who chooses to purchase it.  I suppose if I’m going to do any serious hard sell in this blog, I really ought to get on with it.  That’s what I set it up for, for goodness’ sake.

Regular readers (if there are any of you out there) might have noticed by now that I’m a bit reluctant to take my ‘sales campaign’ all that seriously.  I kind of enjoyed talking about the genesis of the book and its (ahem) consciousness changing properties in the first 6 entries, but since then I have in what I hope is an entertaining way been avoiding heavy promo.

‘Wilful Misunderstandings’ falls somewhere between being a book that has been accepted by a commercial publisher and one that I have self-published.  Jamie Delano, who runs it, describes Lepus Books as a ‘publishing co-operative’.  What that means for me as a writer is that I’ve had to shell out for the print copies I’ll be selling personally and through the Lepus website, while a distribution/print on demand company takes care of e-books, sales through Amazon and any orders that come through bookshops.  Lepus is not set up to promote its publications, it just exists to get them into print and sell them.  Check out the website if you want to know more about that.  Jamie has to concentrate on selling his own books, as do Deborah Delano and Alistair Fruish.

That’s why the selling of ‘Wilful Misunderstandings’ is mainly up to me.  Late last year I started researching how I might go about it.  There is a lot of advice out there, especially on the internet.  After a while, I came to the conclusion that most of it wasn’t worth shit.

The once well-ordered world of publishing has been upended by the media revolutions of our times.  Self-publishing is accessible to anyone, regardless of quality.  Wherever there are opportunities to exploit, there will be those who jump in and exploit them.  And hey, there’s money to be made out of all these self-publishers who aren’t too sure how to sell their product.  You set up a website and present yourself as a successful writer who just wants to offer help to other writers.  You offer a few tit-bits of standard advice, which can just be lifted from any other websites that are doing the same.  You then promise much more info that can be obtained by subscription to your site, or purchase of your series of ‘how to’ books.  Or you offer reviews for a price.  Etc.

Disregarding most of that crap, on the whole, I’ve done what I can.  I’ve sent out copies of the book to newspapers and magazines, without any serious hope of getting a review – but if you don’t try, you don’t know.  There was just the possibility that maybe the somewhat peculiar nature of what I’ve written might strike a chord with someone.  I’ve set up a launch event (Shaftesbury Arts Centre, April 2nd, 2.00-4.30 – be there or be square) and got some local publicity.  That’s about my biggest hope for shifting a few copies.  I’ve put some stuff on Facebook, but don’t want to lay it on too thick.  I’ve buffed up my website and I reckon its worth a look if you haven’t been there - . Twitter holds no appeal for me, so I continue to avoid it.

I’ve created this blog and I am committed to continuing it – but have no idea whether it will result in any sales.  Starting it was the result of a bit of advice I picked up early on.  The only positive effect I can say it’s had so far has been on Google page ratings.  If you Google my name only the ratings are swamped by Richard Foreman, the New York ‘Ontological-Hysteric’ playwright.  I don’t crop up til you’ve clicked through to page 14, by which time you’ll have spotted the 2 other writers who share my name and a fair number of obits for dead Richard Foremans.  But if you Google ‘wilful misunderstandings’, with or without my name, you sure get a lot of me.

So there we are.  Some campaign, huh?

Here’s what I hope.  I reckon I’ve written a pretty decent book of short stories, and there’s enough quality there to make it a more enjoyable and more interesting read than a good many self-published books, probably even some commercially published ones.  I hope that a few people will pick it up – starting with folk who know me and maybe going a little further (the words that Alan Moore and Sally Spedding kindly wrote to endorse the book might help somewhat).  I hope that some of them will enjoy it enough to recommend it and that word-of-mouth will result in more sales.  I hope that maybe some people will give me a good review on Amazon or Goodreads and the like, and that would help too.  I’m aiming to see if I can get myself some public readings of the stories and sell on the back of those.  Beyond that, who knows?

I don’t expect to make back what I’ve invested, but it would be desireable to reduce the number of book boxes currently stacked under a big table in my living room.  Above all it would be nice to think that a few people have enjoyed my stories.  It may not be the most riveting book you’ll read this year, but you’ll find some interesting characters, a few good laughs, some interesting situations, some thought provoking stuff and some strong emotional resonance.  That’s my pitch.  Be one of the discerning few.  Buy now from

I’d like to think you won’t regret it.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Misperceptions, mistranslations and misinterpretations

Phew!  All this hard sell, I think I need a break from it, this time round.  So here's the result of a bit of fun I had last week.  There's a sort of a connection with Wilful Misunderstandings.  I went to a workshop run by Dorset poet David Caddy and it was about the idea of what you can get as a writer from re-interpreting things, including deliberate misinterpretations.  I'm not going to purloin all David's ideas and re-present them for you here (hey, check him out, he's on the web), but suffice to say that he was presenting the imaginative possibilities of mis-perceptions and mis-translations, translation as re-invention, that sort of thing.

As is the way of these events, those of us attending all had a go at seeing what we could do creatively with this idea.  Some great stuff came out of it and I thoroughly enjoyed listening to everyone's contributions.  As for me, I was looking round for something to 'mistranslate'.  We meet in a very nice pub in a Dorset village, and on the wall across from me was a blackboard with the 'Today's Specials' menu - which I could only partially see.  Unbeknown to either of us, the participant sitting next to me was also using this menu as a start point. She came up with something that could definitely be said to be poetry.  I'm not sure I did - I got a bit carried away with the humorous possibilities, I think.  So, here you go, tidied up and revised for a bit more consistency, this is what I did.

Today’s Specialists:

1. Addled Imperialist
With chips off old blocks, peas in our time and badgered broccoli.

2. Hard Boiled Agent
Set in a succulent garnish of polonium, with treachery tarts and diced disinformation.

3. Sweet and Sour Celebrities
Banter basted in a slick trivia sauce and topped with spicy innuendos.

4. Mackled Minister
Stuffed with a fat wad of dough and civilly served with shredded documents.

5. Braised Pundit
Tossed off in tasteful tautologies and lightly layered in a filigree of fine leaves.

6. Curried Migrants
With single grain rice.

Our Chef Commends:

1. Royal Mint Pie
Quantitatively eased onto a bed of raised salaries, gilt investments and dire warnings.

2. Cod Almighty
Richy coated with an intolerant sauce, vengefully spiced and served by billions.

And don’t go without trying our

Post Nuclear Desserts:

1. Baked Alaska
2. Molten Lava Cake
3. Death By Chocolate
4. Spotted Dick
5. Glazed Madeleines
6. Crumble

But I'm really gonna be pushing my book down your throats next time, for sure.  Well, maybe.

Toodle pip.

Friday, March 11, 2016

23 Darned Good Reasons to Buy ‘Wilful Misunderstandings’

That April 1st publication date is coming up fast.  It's time for me to go (in my quiet and thoughtful way, of course) into 'hard sell' mode.  So here goes...

23 Darned Good Reasons to Buy ‘Wilful Misunderstandings’

1 It has an attractive and colourful front cover that will look good on your coffee table.
2 You cannot resist purchasing the work of anyone who has been described as ‘quirky’.
3 No story in the book is more than 2000 words long, so if you’re not enjoying the one you’re reading, you won’t have a long wait ‘til the next.
4 Ownership of this book will distinguish you as an authentic individual.
5 Ownership of this book will demonstrate irrevocably that you are not a prey to the pernicious marketing techniques that currently dominate the publishing industry and do not restrict your tastes to ‘best sellers’.
6 At 34 stories for £8.95 you are getting incredibly good value for money – how can you go wrong at a mere 26.323529411 pence per story?
7 You ARE too hip for genre, just like it says on the back cover blurb, and you have realised this book was written precisely for the likes of you.
8 Although there is a vanishingly remote chance that this book will be the surprise left field publishing hit of 2016, imagine if it was…  and you had bought it at the time of publication, long before all the hoopla began.  Kudos or what?
9 You are one of the small number of people who saw some of the comics stories I wrote back in the 1990s and you’re curious to know what I’m up to now.
10 You need to satisfy your curiosity as to what value Alan Moore, Sally Spedding, Jamie Delano and a few other people you might have heard of have all seen in this book.
11 You have £8.95 burning a hole in your pocket and you just can’t think what to do with it
12 You need a gift for someone else to whom all or some of these reasons apply.
13 Purchased in bulk, copies of this book would make excellent (if somewhat expensive) loft insulation.
14 There is a gap of approximately 23 millimetres spine width in your book shelf that needs filling.
15 You have read all my previous blogs and decided that you too need to develop the mental flexibility that my book could conceivably confer and that might just help us get through the next few decades without wrecking every ecosystem on the planet.
16 You are a fan of adult colouring books and would get pleasure from colouring in the various line work designs that appear on blank pages between stories in this book (as previewed in this blog).
17 You love the smell of freshly printed books and just can’t get enough of sniffing them.
18 You are one of my few surviving relatives.
19 I owe you money and you think if enough people buy this book, you just might get it back
20 You are looking for 34 enjoyable stories, most of which have beginnings, middles and ends, that will not – on the whole – tax your brain too heavily, but will nevertheless leave you with the feeling that you have read something worth your time, money and effort.
21 You just like the idea of reading a book that isn’t quite like any other book you’ve ever read.
22 Turn it upside down and the back cover will also look nice on your coffee table.
23 You feel sorry for any bugger who wastes his time thinking of 23 reasons why you should buy his book and you reckon he needs to earn enough money to buy himself the counselling and psychiatric support he obviously requires.