Once we have learnt about something, once we consider we understand it, think we have mastered it, we like to run with it, to keep it.
We are often loath to stop, to give it up… to alter anything.
Many of us are resistant to change, of losing the little comfort zone we made for ourselves. One can liken such to the reluctance of a child giving up a blanket, or a soother.
If we do make the move, we find it easier to be weaned, to slightly adjust, little by little, so we don’t notice the change, or at least that is how we convince ourselves.
The problem is, by the time our situation has evolved in a way which assuages our reluctance, we find we are far behind the madding crowd, so far behind we have little chance of catching up.
In these days of high tech communications and internet connectivity, it is now more obvious than ever before.
Only the fearful and desperate cling to what once was,.
Only the backward and slow reminisce and wish for those ‘good old days‘ when a Facebook post actually reached ALL your ‘friends’ and not just the 3 to 10% they do with today’s algorithms.
The same is true of your book promotions. This is why your sales do not exceed the minimal expectations you tell yourself are reasonable goals, let alone your wishes and dreams to become a consistent bestselling author.
To give away a book for free is an archaic, outdated and outmoded marketing model. One which no longer holds any credence, but one which so many still cling to with dying hope, like a gambler sliding deeper into depressive debt.
Paying another organisation to give your books away is a sign of utter desperation. A despondent cry for help, for someone, anyone to read your story.
In reality, it is authorship suicide; one you may never recover from financially and one which could leave your reputation in raggedy tatters, before you even start.
Book launches and parties no longer pull the crowds. They are a nice way to spend a few extra hours chatting with those you regularly talk to every day; to hear them say nice things about you, your book and “what a marvellous cover” you have.
But such events no longer attract readers. They have been overdone and done over, like an ancient, wrinkled whore, they no longer hold any attraction whatsoever.
Thunderclaps, Headtalkers, Daycause are little more than a (mostly) unseen flash-in-the-pan. A quick blast of tweets and public post which disappear down the scrolling stream faster than Usain Bolt running a hundred meters.
Authors, you NEED to find new ways to promote your works, ways which offer longevity rather than the promise of making a ‘quick buck’ or selling a few more copies of your latest tome overnight… for one night only.
You need to find a simple, ongoing promotional aid which is always working for you, even when you’re not working.
A low-cost way that won’t break the bank, or better still, a way which will pay you a return, a royalty, on your promotional material.
Now wouldn’t that be wonderful…
If only such a thing existed…
Well, such a thing does exist, but only for those who are prepared to move forward, to see the changing lights (mostly red ones) as social media platforms are brought to task and the hyper highway of freedom and unlimited possibility become more crowded, slower and, well… limited.
A small, but growing group of indie authors, are moving forward into the new dawn of altered perception, of interweb reconstruction and publishing future.
It is a group which, (at present), still has its doors open to welcome a few more indie authors inside. Authors with great tales to share, who are well crafted in penning a wonderful story. Authors who are serious about writing, about selling their books, about being authors.
So, what is this group and who are these indie authors?
Simple, we are Electric Eclectic. The book brand which is sweeping the internet.
Before you ask, yes, this is about sci-fi and Robots… but it also about crime fiction, fantasy, steampunk and many other genres. It’s about understanding, imagination and the muse… so read on…
Like all fiction genres, Sci-fi and its many sub-genres must evolve with the times, writers must look to the future. (pun intended)
Czech writer Karel Čapek introduced the word “robot”. It is said his brother suggested using a derivative of the word robata, which means literally “serf labour” and figuratively “drudgery” or “hard work.”
No wonder the robots usually want to revolt, to take over our world. To turn the tables on us!
But, long before the word “robot” was invented, the ideas of mechanical or artificial men was in our ancestors’ consciousness. Early ideas of robots or automata drew inspirations from early writings and figures in mythology, who were described as anthropomorphic and crafted from stone or metal.
Described in the Argonautica as a giant man of bronze forged by the smith Hephaestus, Talos is tasked with patrolling the island of Crete and fending off pirates.
However, he is still partially organic, as is shown in the description of a single blood vessel that runs from his neck down to his ankle. Much like with Achilles and his heel, the vein of Talos is his weakness, and he dies in the story from exsanguination.
This developed into ‘other’ forms of automata,
In ETA Hoffman’s short story, The Sandman, the main character Nathaniel falls in love with the daughter of one of his university professors.
While she is beautiful and elegant, Olympia speaks very little, only responding to conversations with “Ah”.
She is also often motionless for long periods of time.
The people around her find this disconcerting, and it is eventually revealed that she is a lifelike doll.
Enter the early days of Sci-fi as we recognise it now,
Edward Ellis’s Steam Man is an early example of the Edisonade genre of science fiction.
Derived from Thomas Edison’s name, the genre describes stories that feature an ingenious young American inventor, who uses his inventions to go on adventures, solve problems, and defend himself against his enemies. The invention often has many purposes, such as weaponry and transportation.
In this case, the teenage hero is Johnny Brainerd, who creates the steam man and uses it to pull wagons that can carry passengers. Despite its large size, the steam man can run quite fast, and Johnny uses this to his advantage (such as, for hunting buffalo).
An imitation of this story was written by Harry Enton in 1876, called Frank Reade and His Steam Man of the Plains, which also features a young inventor and his robots. Frank Reade’s steam man improves upon the first, with a much more efficient engine due to improvements in hydraulics and use of lighter-weight alloys. Thus, it is faster and stronger. Frank Reade’s son, Frank Jr., would eventually go on to create Steam Man Mark III, and replaced the use of steam with the use of electricity.
This and Steam Man of the Prairies were dime novels, popular fiction that is much like the comic books of today.
Dorothy finds the mechanical man, Tik-Tok, with a printed card suspended from the back of its neck.
The card provides directions for ‘using’ Tik-Tok, such as how to make him speak, think, and move by winding the clockwork in his body. Tik-Tok needs to be periodically wound like a toy to function, as he cannot wind himself up.
Tik-Tok has been referenced in other fiction, and his benign nature subverted into something more sinister, such as in Gregory Maguire’s Wicked and John Sladek’s Tik-Tok.
As I spoke of in the opening paragraphs of this post, the term Robot arose thus…
This famous play, which was successful in its time, describes a factory that makes artificial people or roboti, from synthetic organic matter.
Less like robots and more like androids or cyborgs because of their biological nature, these synthetic people work for humans but eventually organize an uprising, causing the extinction of humans.
Karel Capek’s play is influential for being the first to use the word “robot”, replacing “automaton” or “android”. It is also worth noting that “robota“in Czech means forced labour, of which the robots in the play were made to do.
“Robot:We wanted to be like people. We wanted to become people.
Radius:We wanted to live. We are more capable. We have learned everything. We can do everything.
Robot:You gave us weapons. We had to become the masters.
Robot:We have seen the mistakes made by the people, sir.”
Which basically, and with a giant leap of literary faith, brings us to the time when robots were simply robots, like Robby from ‘Lost in Space’. A time when Isaac Asimov penned ‘I Robot’ and hope for humankind lingered.
We all knew where we stood.
Then along came James Camron who introduced us to Skynet, and all hell broke loose.
So, where does that leave us, how can we tell new, inventive and genuinely futuristic tales of machines, androids and automaton now?
Maybe, a little closer inspection of where we stand now will help us, if we stand on tiptoes and look far over the rising horizon…
Robots are all around us, toiling away in factories and warehouses, busting a gut in landfills and working in hospitals. The NAO model introduces school kids and students to programming and robotics and it also teaches children with autism. Another model, Pepper, was created to work in the service sector; its tasks include attracting potential customers and consulting with buyers.
As the IOActive team discovered, to seize control of NAO you only need to be on the same network as the robot. Experts found vulnerabilities allowing commands to be remotely executed, effectively giving over full control of its actions.
To demonstrate how these vulnerabilities can be exploited, the team forced NAO to demand bitcoins from its human interlocutor.
But real criminals would be limited only by their imagination and programming skills. What’s more, it’s not just NAO that can be infected with ransomware; the more business-oriented Pepper is just as vulnerable, and other models probably are as well.
Just imagine if one fine day a robot teacher or store clerk, in full view of John Q. Public, started swearing and insulting people before going on strike or picking a fight.
You never know.
But why would anyone hack a robot?
What do criminals have to gain here? Won’t it just spoil someone’s day or their life? That might be enough incentive for some hackers, who often do such things just for fun.
But there’s another reason: money.
The profit motive is simple. Buying a robot costs about $10,000; and if it breaks, it must be repaired or replaced.
Both of those require a fair bit of cash, but factor in the downtime cost and reputational loss of having a robot threaten customers and the sum rises considerably.
If an industrial robot is hacked, it can pose an immediate threat to employee safety or production quality.
An attacker compromising a robot in one of those ways might offer a quick solution to the problem, (which they caused), pay a ransom and everything will be just fine.
But, as you might guess, cybercriminals don’t always keep their word. Of course, the vulnerable robot might be hacked again, requiring another payout.
And then, another,and another…
What can be done?
Robots are here to stay (and multiply), so avoiding contact with them is not the way to go. For that, you’d need to invent a time-machine and go back a long, long way as mentioned above.
Instead, users and manufacturers need to be sensitive to robots’ weaknesses to ensure these devices do not go from cutting-edge to catastrophic in the blink of an eye.
Robot creators need to think through security issues in advance before production starts. Today. Better still, yesterday.
Then, after product release, all ears must be kept firmly to the ground to respond promptly to reported vulnerabilities and get them fixed.
…Or some sort of mayhem, a type of life-shattering, civilisation ending apocalypse may just leap from the pages of a book and into reality…
Or maybe that is just my way of stimulating your muse… think on, but carefully and you could join the ranks of Robert A. Heinlein, Arthur C. Clarke, H. G. Wells, Jules Verne, Edgar Rice Burroughs and Isaac Asimov.
You see not all sci-fi which includes rouge robots must be apocalyptic, that idea has been done, and done, and done to death. Now it is time for a differing approach.
Take your favourite crime-based books or film, or a combination of both media. Choose a story without any robots and select a character or two.
Now, think of your chosen characters as automaton, combine those two or three films/books plots. (If they are Hollywood or from mainstream publishing, it will not be a difficult task because they use a five, or seven-point, plotline… its what makes mainstream boring and predictable.) and start writing. Don’t copy… No plagiarism allowed; simply let your muse write the story guided by the basic (combination) of the plot(s) outlines.
You will have a brand-new crime story, but one which includes robots. It does not even have to be set in the future or on another planet, it can be urban fiction, steampunk, fantasy… you decide.
What you will have is a cross-genre fictional work which can be promoted to a wider, but targeted audience. That means greater sales opportunities and a much larger readership potential.
Why not make your robot a stooge, a fall guy? Have the reader fall in love with it, empathize with it.
Alternatively, have your robot(s) as the victim, the missing link to solving a situation… not all robots are bad, not all are good, some simply have frailties, others damaged personalities, why, some are even human… aren’t they?
Whatever you do, have fun and visit my website HEREI have a load of crime fiction and other ‘stuff’ you will just love. But don’t just take my word, go and have a look now.
It is some time since I wrote a ‘Rambling’ Rambling on this blog.
Partly, this is because of the large number of commitments I have undertaken recently. Commitments which have left little time to indulge myself in creating an informative and entertaining Ramble.
Which I hope this post shall be, (at least if you read on from this point.) Although this post may seem to ‘go around the houses’ to reach its point, bear with me. It will be worth it in the end… Honest 😊
My last Rambling style post was a bit of a rant, but one which shares the truth about how ineffective giving away free booksis and how doing so is damaging all indie author’s prospects.
This post sort of follows suit regarding ranting… maybe I am becoming a ‘Grumpy old man’ or maybe I am already one?
The basic theme here is “Stop whinging, get off your arse and DO something about it.” In fact, I think I’ll use that phrase as the title of this post.
First, the ‘whining and whinging’, the consistent, droll, mind-numbing drivel I am hearing from too many indie authors recently.
“My sales are bad.”
“Facebook doesn’t help anymore.”
“Things are getting worse.”
“People don’t even want my free book.”
“Nobody leaves reviews.”
“Adverts are so expensive and don’t reach enough people.”
And so forth. All one must do is read the comments and posts in various social media groups and pages to find a torrent of such remarks.
Now, I may or may not agree with all the above. Okay, the first three are stupid statements, the last three have some if little, merit.
But this wave of despondency seems to be sweeping the internet at present and gathering momentum as it does.
Fuelled, no doubt, by the rumours about CreateSpace, Amazon and Goodreads along with the recent and forthcoming changes and alterations to Facebook.
Don’t ask me for details, go read Gisela Hausmann’s books on the subject, she is far better informed than I. Read more Here
Now, nobody said writing a book would be easy. Nobody told me marketing and selling would be a cinch.
It takes commitment, persistence, patience and determination… and lots of it. I said lots of it, that’s much, much more than you are considering or believing right now. So, treble the difficulty factor and then multiply that by the power of 92 and you could be approaching reality.
Calculate the exact opposite for difficulty and obstacles. The resultant sum should reflect the starting point of your journey into the realms of authorship.
Bilbo Baggins exploits were a simple walk in the park, in comparison of what you shall have to endure.
That is why we love being indie authors.
However, (for those who may not be familiar with my Ramblings I love the ‘However’s’.)
So, to continue.
However, I cannot take this downhearted view as one expressed solely by the Indie community, or for that matter, one voiced on social media alone.
I think this mood or at least the pessimistic and depressed expression of disappointment and negativity concerning the present and, more so, the cynical distrust of the future is something which is sweeping our society.
This attitude has now reached such proportions everybody has to have ‘a condition’, be it a simple skin complaint, a dietary need or speech impediment, let alone a major physical or mental syndrome.
As an alternative, or as an added factor, one must also be a survivor… of sexual or mental abuse, a victim of crime, a recovering drug user or alcoholic with latent effects of reoccurring PTSD… and so forth.
Nowadays everyone must have an underlying ‘Backstory’ to be accepted as part of our modern society, however truthful or however factitious that may be.
Personally, I blame Simon Cowell and the XFactor… which traumatic experience I have survived, by the way.
I am an exexfactorbackstorysurvivalist, in tentative remission.
NOW… don’t get me wrong. I am not speaking of genuine suffers from such disorders, I am speaking of the media hype and their insatiable appetite to present all who become ensnared in their tentacles as some form of miracle entity. A god or goddess-like warrior who has fought off the evils life has thrown at them.
Such influence affects us and our children’s perception of ‘normality’ in the most ambiguous ways. It is this seeking of constant sensationalism which clouds many of the authors and writer’s minds when they complain about how difficult it is to sell their books.
Instead of ‘doing something‘ to alter the situation it is far easier for many to shout “I am a Victim” and “Facebook is abusing my rights” and such like.
This is where, if you are still with me, I refer you back to the title of this post. “Stop whinging, get off your arse and DO something about it.”
I shall finish with one simple and short example-
I recently launched an initiative for indie authors called Electric Eclectic. I doubt very much if you have not seen at least one blog, post, comment or advertisement concerning such.
Electric Eclectic allows indie authors a way of using, or recycling, short stories to market and sell their prime titles. This is a form of promotion which actually earns the author money while working as a silent salesman on their behalf.
I have offered, both on major social media sites and by personal email invitation, the opportunity for a limited number of other authors to join us.
The take-up has been dismal, even though our own authors have seen sale generated via Electric Eclectic already and indications of ongoing success.
YET, I have seen some of those who know about this opportunity continue to whinge and whine about sales, the cost of promotion and the ‘state of the market’ while ignoring the offer from Electric Eclectic and other genuine initiatives.
My suspicions are these people enjoy the attention their complaining creates and, I wonder if, they like to ride the current media bandwagon of portraying themselves as victims, casualties and wounded sufferers of circumstance?
Thank you for reading this Rambling. Paul.
To find out more, or to request becoming an Electric Eclectic author, visit the website HERE and use the contact page to message Electric Eclectic.
This year 2017 has seen some seismic shifts in the publishing and advertising industries as major issues such as transparency (Note Facebook revealing their loss of Data a short while ago. This note added April 2018) and brand safety have taken centre stage. Next year is shaping up to be no different, as the industry looks ahead to key issues which will dominate the news agenda over the next 12 months and beyond.
“GDPR will hit in May 2018 and with just seven months left to be ready, many within the industry are only just learning about the implications. People are spending more time online across a wider array of devices and are becoming smarter at consuming online content. Consumers are hungry for real content and will be looking for ways to cut out fake news and time-wasting content by seeking out better quality content providers and starting to pay to access the best content.
2018 will continue to deliver opportunity; we all need to think about building interactive audio relationships via Amazon Echo, Google Home and other voice controlled devices, and how virtual reality devices like Oculus Rift and PlayStation VR and augmented reality via the latest generation of iPhones will affect the way we communicate brand messaging to our audiences in new and innovative ways.”
“Native advertising has rapidly gained momentum this year and will continue to do so in 2018. With native ad spend expected to reach more than €13 billion across Europe by 2020, it is safe to say it is no longer just a buzzword, but an essential part of the marketing mix that is finally getting the recognition it deserves from the industry.
“As publishers look to focus on brand safety, transparency, and the user experience, I expect we will see more of a migration to native as developments in creative technology bring more flexibility. By harnessing the capabilities of programmatic, the scale and efficiency of this flourishing format will be a force to be reckoned with.”
Electric Eclectic books incorporate aspects of Native Advertising in their marketing strategy assisting indie authors book sales. The amazing thing regarding Native Advertising is most people will not recognise or notice it occurring because it is an almost subliminal method of carrying your brand message.
THE CONTINUED RISE OF INDIE AND HYBRID PUBLISHING
Traditional publishers may offer prestige, but also limited creative control and royalties. In recent years, independent publishers have accounted for an ever-larger share of the market, with the help of high-quality cover designs, writing, and marketing plans.
Last year, data showed for the first time the share of self-published books and books published by small publishers, at 42 percent, was larger than the market share of big-publishers, at 34 percent.
Ascendant is the phenomenon of hybrid publishing, which includes a variety of publishing models which straddle a middle ground between traditional publishing and self-publishing. Veterans of traditional publishing have left behind their larger companies to bring top skills and experience to the world of independent publishing.
More and more authors are opting for hybrid publishing, which allows them to hold on to creative control and royalties while benefiting from the best of the traditional publishing world.
LONGER SHELF LIFE WITH EBOOKS WILL MEAN INCREASED COMPETITION
With the rise of digital book listings, we are seeing a change in the lifecycle of books. When keeping books available depended on a limited quantity of physical shelf space, it meant books that no longer sold well were removed from shelves as soon as possible.
With digital retailers, there is no such premium on shelf space. With books remaining discoverable indefinitely, authors and publishers may want to take a fresh look at “legacy titles” – books published in the past that are no longer a focus for your attention.
Consider reinvesting in a new cover, book description, and marketing resources to revitalise these titles.
Remember, in this age of digital ebooks and kindle, the more books you have available, the better chance you have to grab your share of the crowded eBook market.
This is one reason you should have a minimum of three marketing branded books working for you and all your prime titles. Electric Eclectic (part of CQ International) is the fastest growing and most inventive brand. Take a peek at their Website.
MORE BOOKS, STAGNATING READERSHIP
According to Pew Research Center, about 73 percent of Americans read at least a book a year.
This is a figure which has remained stagnant since 2012. Meanwhile, the number of books published in the US has grown exponentially since 2010. Self-published titles have grown from 133,036 in 2010 to 727,125 in 2015, an increase of 446.5 percent. (latest full figures available.)
Getting your books to readers has, therefore, become an increasing challenging.
Authors need to work towards “discoverability”, working to develop their own audience as an author and creating strong brand marketing for their books.
Many self-publishing authors also face criticism for poor editing and packaging – with more books on the market, the pressure to create and maintain high-quality presentation is becoming paramount. Pay special attention to your design choices; editing and marketing can help self-published books rise above the rest. But a great cover is your first opportunity to attract readers to your book. A professional cover will help you gain sales. Check out PeeJay Designs by Paul White. They offer a professional, but friendly and communicative service HERE
AUDIOBOOKS ARE GROWING
Audiobooks are the fastest growing sector of the publishing world.
In 2015, the audiobook industry was valued at 2.8 billion dollars. 43,000 books were released that year alone, compared to 36,000 in 2014 and just 20,000 in 2013. (Latest full figures available.)
Since audiobooks do not follow the same agency model as eBooks, publishers have been more willing to experiment with distribution models for audiobooks. In particular, subscription models, such as that of Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited platform, are on the rise. In a similar approach to Netflix or Spotify, the service offers unlimited access to 2,500 audiobooks.
While the cost of creating an Audiobooks is higher than most forms of book creation, including many hardcover formats, it is one of the publishing trends to seriously consider.
As with all relatively new markets, audiobooks platforms, production and distribution methods are only in their infancy, so invention and initiative are prime.
PUBLISHING TRENDS 2018 – SUMMARY
The publishing trends of 2018 are likely to follow the broader patterns seen throughout the decade; the rise of small publishers, digital platforms and new formats.
In other ways, the publishing world will continue to see a backlash to traditional, restrictive and controlled marketplaces during in 2018.
Keeping an eye on such trends can help publishers and authors get a sense of where things are headed in the years to come. The future will be about development, choice and ‘canny’ marketing.
The data reveal what some might consider a surprising generational pattern in book reading.
Young adults, those aged eighteen to twenty-nine, are more likely than their elders to have read a book in the past twelve months.
In 2014, there were more hugely successful movies based on young adult books than ever before. Divergent, The Maze Runner, The Fault in Our Stars, If I Stay, and The Book Thief all appealed to a younger audience and may be causing this surge of interest.
We’ll have to wait to see if this is a passing phase or a longer-term trend.
The survey also noted women are more likely to be the book readers in a household. The average woman reader read fourteen books in the past year, compared with nine books for men.
In 2014, Pew reported that 50 percent of Americans have a dedicated handheld device, either a tablet computer like an iPad or Kindle Fire, or an e-reader such as a Kindle or Nook, for reading digital content. This is up from 43 percent in September 2013.
While tablets are still the most popular electronic way to read digital books… at present, last month The Wall Street Journalpredicted they may be pushed aside by smartphones in coming years.
In the first three months of 2015, 41 percent of ebook buyers read digital books primarily on their tablets, according to the newspaper (citing Nielsen data), and 32 percent read ebooks primarily on their e-readers. However, the publication also reported on a Nielsen survey from this past December that found 54 percent of ebook buyers read on their smartphones at least some of the time. In 2012, that number was just 24 percent.
Fortune cites reasons for the adoption of reading via smartphone:
“Convenience, of course, as well as ramped-up technology that makes reading on mobile phones a more pleasant experience. Smartphone screen sizes, too, are getting larger.”
Okay, that will do for today.
There is a mass of indicators which will need your careful consideration when deciding which tactics to adopt in your overall marketing strategy.
Chose carefully and wisely, invest well and reap the rewards.
Thanks for reading another of my rather out-of-character serious postings… my normal, regular Ramblings shall resume shortly.
I have been working on an awful lot of ‘Stuff’ these past few weeks.
I am always busy, it keeps me from hanging about on those street corners. But these past weeks I have been busier than most.
Let me give you a clue….
Over the last two weeks, I wrote approximately 630,000 words, 350,000 last week and 280,000 the week before.
I have promoted the November edition of CQI magazine, the Sci-Fi season special. Click on the cover image to read.
I am in the midst of compiling two annual catalogues for CQI, ‘The Collection – a guide to year-round giving’ and ‘The LIST 2018′ a catalogue of commended and acclaimed books.
During which time, I have beavered away at marketing to keep my two latest books high on the Amazon sales lists. Successfully.
I finalised and formatted a further two books, including designing the covers. They are:
Dark Words – dark tales & darker poetry is scheduled for release on the 1st of February 2018.
Within the Invisible Pentacle, a collection of intriguing feminine titles is due out on the 1st of June 2018.
That done, I can concentrate my efforts on completing two other WiP:
Floyd a Novel about an escaped psychopath on a bloody rampage of revenge and…
On the Highway of Irreverent Rumination & Delusion, which is a rendering of my past blog of the same name, about musings of life, living and our society, with many additional perceptions, formed into a book.
I am hoping to have both completed by the end of 2018… but who knows?
Included in this time, right up until yesterday morning, I have published three new eBooks, Kindle ‘novelettes‘ under the collective brand of Electric Eclectic.
Electric Eclectic books are absolutely fantastic, they enable readers to ‘taste‘ a previously unread or unknown author at the extremely low price of just 1.00 (Dollar/Pound/Euro). HOWEVER… unlike many low-cost books all EE novelettes are vetted to ensure they meet exacting standards, so readers can buy Electric Eclectic branded books with confidence.
EE is a Franchise, where the individual authors benefit from the marketing and promotion of being associated with the prime EE brand itself. Enquiries about becoming an EE author to EEbookbranding@mail.com
My current EE novelettes are:
North to Maynard, a tale of Gremlins in our modern world of high tech.
Three Floors Up, where a psychotic man watches those below until…?
Mechanical Mike, a tongue-in-cheek sci-fi robot story, set in Paris during WW2.
Oh, I have also helped a fellow author to create a fully illustrated children’s book, written by an eight-year-old girl. A project not without its problems, but one where I have enjoyed overcoming the challenges.
I took three days out to travel to Belguim during this time period too.
This post focuses on writing blogs, website content, social media and emails rather than stories and books.
As independent authors, our ability to write such is of paramount importance to our promotional and marketing strategy. Yet the way you write could be alienating those who are not quite as apt as you or me at reading.
A couple of years ago, I had a wonderful comment from a person who suffered from dyslexia about a post.
Although his comments were primarily about the content and not the presentation of the post, he mentioned he found my post far easier to read than many, if not most.
Curiosity got the better of me.
Why I wondered, could he read and understand my posts, when he struggled to read so many others?
Over the next few days, he and I conversed, by email, about his reading on a personal level and Dyslexia in general.
Before I carry on and explain the outcome of our conversations, I think as writers we should all know and understand what dyslexia and some of the most common reading difficulties are. So, I am including the following few paragraphs & bullet points, (which I cribbed from the internet), for clarity.
A formal definition of dyslexia used by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development states, “It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and / or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction. Secondary consequences may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede growth of vocabulary and background knowledge. “
Unsurprisingly, the International Dyslexia Association defines it in simple terms. “Dyslexia is a language-based learning disability. Dyslexia refers to a cluster of symptoms, which result in people having difficulties with specific language skills, particularly reading. Students with dyslexia usually experience difficulties with other language skills such as spelling, writing, and pronouncing words.”
In contrast, Irlen Syndrome is a perceptual processing disorder, meaning that it relates specifically to how the brain processes the visual information it receives. It is not a language-based disorder and phonics-based instruction will not help someone with Irlen Syndrome improve in the same way it will help someone with dyslexia improve their reading skills.
At its core, Irlen Syndrome is a light sensitivity, where individuals are sensitive to a specific wavelength of light and this sensitivity is what causes the physical and visual symptoms that people with Irlen Syndrome experience. People with Irlen Syndrome have difficulty reading not because their brains have difficulty connecting the letters they see with the sounds those letters make, but because they see distortions on the printed page, or because the white background or glare hurts their eyes, gives them a headache, or makes them fall asleep when trying to read.
Unlike dyslexia, difficulties experienced because of Irlen Syndrome can reach well beyond just reading. People with Irlen Syndrome have difficulty processing all visual information, not just words on a printed page, so they often have trouble with depth perception, driving, sports performance, and other areas not generally connected with dyslexia.
Alexia is a form of dyslexia, but dyslexia is developmental, meaning that it does not happen from an occurrence such as a stroke or traumatic brain injury.
Alexia is an acquired reading disability because of an acquired event such as a stroke. It is most common for alexia to be accompanied by expressive aphasia (the ability to speak in sentences), and agraphia (the ability to write).
All alexia is not the same, however. You may have difficulty with the following:
Recognizing words ● Difficulty identifying and reading synonyms ● Difficulty with reading despite your ability to sound out pronunciation of words.
Although you can read words, it is too difficult to read for very long ● Blind spots blocking the end of a line or a long word ● Focusing on the left side of the paragraph or page ● Double vision when trying to read ● Reading some words but not others. Of course, this makes reading impossible.
A stroke survivor with alexia that can read larger words, but cannot read tiny words such as “it,” “to,” “and,” etc. ● Any combination of some of these traits.
My conversations with, (I shall call him ‘Jay’ during this post), led me to take a close look at how I was presenting my blogs, what made them so different and, could I improve them further?
It turns out the style I chose… I was going to say developed, but that sounds arrogant. So, the style I was using at the time was to write in small(ish) chunks, using relatively short sentences and paragraphs, as I have so far in this post.
Unlike the following.
This differed to most blogs and posts on the interweb which were, (and still are), long blocks of continuous sentences and sub-sentences, forming large paragraphs with very little line spacing or breaks. This may be a ‘style’ welcomed by universities and those writing technical/medical/professional and some literary journals. I have seen many papers which follow this style. I have even read a few and I must agree it makes for extremely uncomfortable reading. To read such a document, one must concentrate fully and focus on each word of each line. Whenever the eye moves from its forced liner motion, even for a moment, is when the reader finds some difficulty in returning to the exact location they were at previously, often meaning one must, annoyingly, re-read sections already read. Like you have possibly just done when reading with this last long drivelling, over worded paragraph I have written in just such a manner to illustrate my point that it makes for uncomfortable reading, even for those of us blessed with good eyesight and adequate skill. A point which I hope I have now made adequately clear with this paragraph which is representative of many blogs.
Writing in this form creates such a large block of words it becomes challenging to separate them into clear concise ‘bite-sized‘ and manageable ‘lots’ of information.
This is one of the areas of written presentation which was highlighted to me by Jay.
I already used a style of writing which broke long paragraphs into much smaller ones, whenever practicable, but I was not aware of the impact doing so made on the reader. From then on, I broke paragraphs down even further than I did ‘pre-‘Jay’
I was also made aware of unnecessarily long sentences, sentences with too many superfluous words.
This simply meant cutting out all those unnecessary words to make sentences read far more precisely and clearly.
Eliminating irrelevant words.
You see, this is not fictional or creative literature as when writing a novel, or even a short story. This is describing and sharing thoughts, ideas, information and data. Another skill set entirely.
Authors often discover this when having to write a precise about their latest book, like the back-cover blurb, an agent’s query synopsis, or for a promotional activity.
We all know, or at least should, that mixing sentence lengths makes for better reading. But so does spacing and breaking them up, like I have done in most of this post.
Please do not get me wrong.
I am not solely writing or directing my words specifically to those with reading difficulties, but I am looking to be as inclusive as possible and not simply because I am attempting to be politically, or socially correct.
I do it because I want as many people as possible to read my words. That is why I write.
Looking at how one presents their posts on the screen does not take much effort. Neither does adjusting one’s style to make it clearer and easier to read… for everybody, including you and me.
To finish, look at this Git-Hub virtual reality page. It shows how we can best comprehend the way those suffering from dyslexia and associated reading difficulties may see the written word.
My lesson following my conversations with ‘Jay’ is, “We can all learn from others, even those we may have previously considered had nothing to give us. After all, I never thought a dyslexic could teach an established author how to write clearer, even better. How wrong I was.”
Thank you for reading another of my Ramblings. Please subscribe to this blog if you will.
I am open to all comments and try to reply to them all personally.
Like many writers I have a store of part written works. Literary orphans, many of whom deserve better parenting than I have given.
Some, are first drafts of short stories, ones which need attention before I could possibly allow others to set eyes upon them.
Some, are beginnings of new books and novels. Many are several chapters – or more – in length. A few far longer, yet abandoned and gathering dust in the archives of‘I’ll take another look at it, soon, one day, when I have time, sometime.‘
Some, are mere scribblings, outlines of thought, rough drafts of similar concept, or of unjointed notes, sort-of-bullet-points, fleeting notions.
Occasionally, I have pulled the odd page from the depths of neglect. In a few instances, I have reworked such a piece, even developed it into a viable story.
But those times are seldom.
Generally, when I unearth an old unfinished, partly written, abandoned tale, I quickly scan it, faintly recall its birth and return it, with a promise of coming back and spending some time with it ‘when I can give it the attention it deserves.’
Which is probably, almost certainly, a long way off from this current day, like… never.
We make the excuse of having more pressing and urgent tasks as current commitments. We enjoy the conception of creation, of having new babies in the making and we look forward to the birth of out next.
That is, if they reach as far as the publicatory birth. If our current focus is not waylaid or distracted by another fancy, another attractive proposition of literary lust which causes us to forsake the unborn penned pages, formed only weeks ago, during our crazed desire to conceive another narrative fable.
We, as writers, are not good role models for caring and nurturing our creativities.
This is, as you can tell, one of the ‘things‘ which I have been silently musing over during the past however-long it has been.
I wanted to understand why I could not simply open a file, drag out the unborn foetus of past indulgence and continue writing where I had left off. Even a re-read and re-write, rather like a genetic splicing of characteristics, to take each past, abandoned child of mine, from infantile scrawling to full blown manuscripted beauty and let them loose in the world.
So, I tasked myself to do precisely that. To wrench open the doorway of dusty archives and let the light flood in.
I was astounded by the mass of unloved writings huddled in the dank corners of my RAM. However, I was determined to make amends for the neglect suffered by these poor, unassuming, word documents. After all, they never asked to be created.
One by one I read the works.
By the time I reached mid-way point of the fifth part-work, I had my answer.
It is all to do with mood, muse and moment. At least it is for me.
Allow me to explain…
As I said earlier, literary lust and crazed desire set us on a special relationship in the attempt to conceive a beautiful outcome, a desired work of the bestselling nature.
While our mindset is concentrated, focused on a single relationship we flourish, some of us are capable of holding two, maybe three such affairs on a steady and productive track.
But each and all of these are balancing on a knife edge of frustration, distraction and boredom. Unable to help ourselves, our minds are constantly on the look-out for other attractive propositions and exciting ventures.
Therefore, once our muse is diverted, the love for what is under our fingers wanes. Rarely is it lost, just lessened, it diminishes, at least for the present.
Then, one day we find these lost loves, or that which we once begat from such a relationship; they reach out, arms feebly grabbing for our attention.
But are we ready to take them to our bosom once more?
Most time, the shame is, we are not. We are not ready or willing. So, we slam the door in their faces, committing them to the darkness of closed files one again.
Why are we so cruel in our neglect?
The answer I have found is that mindset I mentioned earlier. To pick-up and move forward from our past indulgences, we must rekindle the fondness we felt before, relight the old flame of particular creation.
Without us being ‘in the zone’ with regards to each individual story, we shall never see them grow into the works they surely deserve to be.
Maybe, to assuage your guilt, the shame and self-reproach I have now raised in your heart and mind, because of your own wicked neglect over your part works, maybe you should unlock the archive doors and take some time with your unborn literary children.
Bring them out of the shadows, let them dance in the sunlight of new development and re-writing nirvana. You never know what wonderful orphans you may have forgotten.
Thank you, for reading another of my Ramblings. I hope you took something away with you from these words?
Please share Ramblings from a Writer’s Mind with your friends and don’t forget to follow this blog too.
Perhaps you would like to read more of my writings? You can find my books and links to my other blogs on my website.
In this post I take a divergent path, away from my regular ramblings about writing, to speak of something which is usually just as close to any indies heart.
The reason is, no matter how good a writer you may be, how wonderful and eye catching you books cover is… if no one is ever going to see it, or hear about it, no one shall ever buy it, let alone read it.
Every indie I know who has written a book, even a short novelette, agrees the hard work starts once the book has been published.
An almost consecutive issue which is consistently raised, is the seemingly ongoing quest for the ultimate marketing tool. The ‘Eureka’ gift that will sell hundreds, if not thousands, of books each month with very little work or effort on the part of the author themselves.
Wake up, smell the coffee. There is no such thing.
Even should someone find an amazing algorithm, or system for doing just so, within moments the entire world will be climbing on the waggon, the uniqueness would dissolve in those few moments, to become nothing more than the norm.
The quest would then start over.
BUT… (there is always a but.)
There are a whole host of ‘Alternative’ marketing solutions. Or at least, people marketing a whole host, of supposed solutions.
Many asking for a substantial fee, without any guarantee of success.
HOWEVER… (there is always an however too.)
The world, (the cyberworld and the meat-space), is full of groups of writers and authors who work together, share knowledge, experience and aid one another to achieve the best.
Another I belong to, The Awethors, have collectively produced four books. Not bad, for an association of people who live thousands of miles apart and in different countries.
Working closely and introducing new people to our communities, gives each of us a wider opportunity to help others. Some authors use their experience to professionally assist others in marketing, book cover design, formatting, publishing and so forth. Author Assist,Plaisted publishing houseandMetamorph Publishing are just three to mention.
Others run newsletters, email campaigns, blogs, vlogs, webinar’s and radio shows. Each designed to help all who wish to partake.
Not surprisingly, it is this last one, CQ International Magazine, I want to talk about most, simply because this is my own publication!
CQ was never planned to be.
You see, it all started when I wrote a very posh looking newsletter, I called it ‘Rambling Away’, to keep a link to the blogs I ran at the time.
I designed my newsletter to look like a glossy magazine. The type of magazine I was involved with, when I worked in the publishing business in London.
That first, short (and honestly not too well constructed), newsletter eventually grew into CQ International Magazine, which has an established readership in 84 countries around the globe and, at the last count, is read by an excess of 50 thousand people.
CQ Magazine continues to promote and support indie writers, yet has expanded to include all forms of independent artists, from painters and illustrators, to musician and theatre, dance and performance arts, sculpture and digital creatives. If fact, anything independent, artistic, artisan or creative is welcome within the covers of CQ Magazine.
As part of our ongoing commitment to promote the indie world, CQ Magazine has recently created the C-club. This is where, for a single annual membership fee of £5(UK), indies from all walks of life, can take advantage by advertising in, or having features and promotions in, CQ International Magazine throughout the entire year, at not cost at all.
That’s right, FREE promotion and marketing to the whole world. Well, a big chunk of it anyway.
What’s more, by joining the C-club, you will be helping us to help others, by contributing to the ‘Inspiration & Encouragement fund’.
Full details about CQ International Magazine and how you can become a C-club member, can be found on CQ International’s blog, RIGHT HERE.
Go take a peek now.
I look forward to welcoming you aboard.
LOVE MUSIC? LOVE ART?
Then you will love ICONIC, a tribute to some of the worlds greatest musical artists who ever lived.
As the sun rose and the darkness faded, the sky took on a burnished amber hue.
Birds started to welcome the dawn with the melody of their chorus.
I breathed in the sharp crispness of the morning air and looked up, a few wispy clouds hung motionless in the stratosphere.
It was such a fresh, bright morning I predictably recalled the hymn ‘Morning has broken’; in this instance, my mind heard it being sung by Cat Stevens. I half consciously found myself humming along, out of tune of course.
This was soon followed by the voice of Bob Marleyand ‘Three little birds’. I smiled inwardly as I realised both these voices were inside my head.
However, the realisation itself began another thought process… I wondered why on earth we become so full of angst when someone admits to hearing voices in their own minds, or indeed fearful if they inhabit our own?
This morning, as the sun rose higher and the amber tones dissipated to reveal an azure blue sky, I found I was comforted by the voices in my head, the voices I heard singing to me.
Regardless of the scientific, cognitive or physiological explanations, of which I do not give one iota of ‘care’ for, I was quite amused by my own insight of this experience
As a writer, I constantly think of ‘Funny things that make me laugh’(Re- ‘Arthur’ aka Dudley Moore’.) I hope you have seen that film?
Anyway, this was one of those times, when even lateral thinking was unable to keep up with the speed of the random leaping of my thoughts. I have coined a personal term for this, I refer to it as ‘Geometric Surging’.
I love it, because this is where all the odd ball, wild, whacky and seemingly unconnected notions, concepts, opinions and theories I have somehow find common ground, which allows them to become authentic and viable concepts.
This is one state of mind where many of my inspirational stimuli collected from far and wide, many over long periods of time, meld into solid ideas.
All I need is a moment of ambiance, an atmosphere which can induce the right frame of mind.
Today, it was watching the sun rise.
Thanks for reading this Rambling
While you are here, take a look at this wonderful lamp.
It is a gift which, I am sure, any book lover or author would love to have in their home.
Why not treat yourself, or get one as a birthday or Christmas present.