A writing prompt for you

Regular readers of these Ramblings will know this post is a little ‘off-beat‘ to those I generally write. However, read on, I am certain you’ll find this entertaining if not a little… well, read on to find out

I have the sunglasses.

Racing at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi

Although I am a multi-genre author, I do not tend to write science fiction and have never attempted a dystopian novel.

However, this does not stop my thoughts from wandering into such realms, such as it did a short while ago.

I was contemplating the forthcoming lifting of travel restrictions and therefore, by default, thinking about the pandemic, when this idea entered my mind.

Now, I have heard several conspiracy theories which claim Covid 19 is fake. Many of these theories then speculate about mass public control, or Illuminati culling the human species and so forth.

I am sure you have read many such posts on social, especially at the start of the Pandemic.

As part of my thought process, which was an uncontrollable stirring of the muses, I recalled the 2007 film ‘Invasion’ and the ‘Pod People’.

For those who are not familiar with the film, this is the explanation on Wiki:  

“In ‘The Invasion’, the aliens are a virus. After the person falls asleep, the virus re-writes human DNA.

Then, these Genetically Modified (post-humans?) vomit a gelatinous substance to continue the invasion.

As their invasion snowballs, the pod people transform humans by injecting them with the substance under the guise of ‘influenza vaccines’”.

 So, you may be asking… if you are still reading this… what my mind was doing with all this information.

Well, simple, it was drafting a rough outline for a novel that goes something like this. (Conspiracy theorists get your pens ready!)

What if this Covid 19 pandemic is fake?

What if it is planned unilateral action taken by world leaders?

What if they are doing it to appease an extra-terrestrial lifeform who have returned to ‘Harvest’ their human crop?

What if our governments are attempting to assuage the aliens by offering a limited number of humans, hence the major number of ‘deaths’ in the first wave?

Then, a lesser number in the second and third waves of the pandemic and the lockdowns, as our leaders negotiate with the extraterrestrials?

What if they are hiding the truth to protect us, to protect society?

It is said the human race may have come from stardust… maybe our ancestors were simply seeds?

Many peoples ask what is the point of life, of being… maybe we are just being bred as food, on a farm we call the universe?

Maybe we developed beyond that which was expected, maybe we have a chance of survival if we give up some of our numbers every 1000 years or so… maybe, one day we could fight back, even escape?

Maybe… You write the story… I’ll read it.


In the meantime, could I temp you to read one of my books? Check them out if you will by visiting my website.

Interior Book Layout & Design Principles

I have recently been helping several new-ish authors, along with some quiet well-established writers, with the design and layout of their book’s interiors.

It appears many authors, even those with some experience, do not understand the established and recognised principles of interior book design.

The standard layout of books is no accident. It has evolved from the first medieval printing presses to the current day online publishing and POD.

The issue here is, if these basic conventions are not followed, at least to the greater degree, your book will look and feel amateurish to readers.

Thus, leading to slow take-up of your title and possibly, even probably, eliciting poor or bad reviews.

In short, an inadequately formatted book, even one which has undergone meticulous copy, line and development editing, will fall short of the standards expected and required by today’s avid readers.

This post, unusually for me on this blog, directly addresses the basic principles and concepts of interior formatting of paperback & hardcover books and, to some degree, that of their lesser cousin, the eBook.

I have not called this post ‘Interior Formatting,’ as that covers a much wider and far more complex set of procedures and is covered elsewhere, much in my books ‘The Frugal Author’ and ‘Lots of Author Stuff you Need to Know’.

At the end of this post, you will find these two books which address many, if not most aspects, of independent and small press authorship.

Both books are ready to download now and, I am certain, you will find the answers to many of the question you have but have never asked.

NOW, WITHOUT FURTHER ADO, HERE IS THE PROMISED POST….


BOOK DESIGN AND SECTION LAYOUT

Note: a page is one side of a leaf.

When you ‘turn a page’ you are actually turning the leaf of a book, which is two pages. Each side of the leaf is a single page.

In this post, ‘Blank’ indicates a page typically left blank by traditional mainstream publishers.


FRONT MATTER

The front matter of a book consists of its very first pages: the title page, copyright page, table of contents, etc. There may also be a preface by the author or a foreword by someone familiar with their work.

First Page: Blank/Flyleaf

Leave this blank.

2nd Page: Frontispiece/Blank

Page 2 is the back of page 1 and remains blank unless you include an illustration.

Such an illustration is called Frontispiece.

This decorative illustration or photo appears on the page next to the title page.

Traditionally, a Frontispiece will be placed on a left-hand page.

Title page

Usually opposite the Frontispiece.

It shows the full title of the book, along with the author’s name as they appear on the cover.

Copyright page/Colophon

The Colophon or copyright page includes technical information about copyrights, edition dates, typefaces, ISBN, as well as your publisher and printer.

Usually positioned on the reverse of the title page.

Blank Page

Accolades

Quotes from esteemed reviewers and publications in praise of the book.

This praise, or some of them/it, often appears on the back cover too.

Dedication page

A page where the author names the person or people to whom they dedicate their book, and why.

This typically comes after the copyright page.

Blank Page

Table of Contents

A list of chapter headings and the page numbers where they begin.

The table of contents, often abbreviated to ToC, should list all major sections that follow, both within the body and in the back matter.

Blank or Epigraph

A quote or excerpt which indicates the book’s subject matter.

An Epigraph can be taken from another book, a poem, song, quotation or almost any source.

It generally immediately precedes the first chapter.

Preface:

Reason for writing, word of thanks.

An introduction written by the author, a preface relates how the book came into being or provides context for the current edition.

Blank

Foreword

An introduction is written by a person other than the author.

Often written by a friend or scholar of the author’s work. Otherwise by a recognised authority of the books subject’s matter.

It is an honour to be asked to write a Foreword.


BODY

The body of a book is pretty self-explanatory: the main text that goes between the front matter and back matter. For readers and writers alike, this is where the magic happens — but it’s not just the content that’s crucial, but also how you arrange it.

Prologue (for fiction)

The section before the main story begins.

A prologue aims to set the stage and intrigue the reader.

Many prologues contain notes of intriguing events which only become contextualized as the reader gets deeper in the story.

Introduction (for nonfiction)

A few pages that usher the reader into the subject matter.

The introduction clarifies the books setting and or events linking to the content, along with other information relating to the main narrative.

Note: The difference between a preface and an introduction is a preface is personal to the author, discussing why they wrote the book and what their process was.

An introduction relates directly to the subject matter and establishes the position of the book in relation to its content.

Chapters

All books have chapters, or sections, into which the narrative or content is divided.

Epilogue (for fiction)

An Epilogue is a scene that wraps up the story in a satisfying manner.

Often an epilogue takes place sometime in the future from the last chapter.

if the book is part of a series, the epilogue may raise new questions or hint at what is to come. A technique is known as a ‘Hook’.

Blank

Conclusion (for nonfiction)

This section sums up the core ideas, values and concepts of the text.

Explicitly labelled conclusions are becoming less frequent in nonfiction books, which now commonly offer final thoughts in the last chapter, but academic dissertations are still be formatted this way.

Afterword

This allows giving final notes on the books content not otherwise addressed.

It is a useful tool for edited, revised and new editions.

The Afterword can be written by the author or another person.

Postscript

A brief final comment after the narrative comes to an end, usually just a sentence or two.

For example, “Mr Archibald Carruthers died at his Cotswold cottage three months after this book’s publication. Happily, he saw his story come to fruition.)


BACK MATTER

Also known as the ‘end matter’ is the material found at the back of a book.

Authors utilise the back matter to offer readers further context or information.

The back matter is also an excellent marketing tool, listing the authors ‘other publications’ and giving links to websites.

Acknowledgements

A section to acknowledge and thank all those who contributed to the book’s creation.

The acknowledgements generally appear directly after the last chapter.

About the author

Is where the author gives a summary of their previous work, education, and personal life.

For example,  “John Doe lives in Hampshire with his wife, two wayward daughters and two even more wayward Great Danes”.

Copyright permissions

If the author has sought permission to reproduce song lyrics, artwork, or extended excerpts from other books, they should be attributed here.

Such items may also appear in the front matter.

Discussion questions

A section rarely used nowadays, but worth considering for inclusion.

Thought-provoking questions and prompts about the book, intended for use in an academic context or book clubs.

Appendix or addendum (nonfiction)

Additional details or updated information relevant to the book, especially if it’s a newer edition.

Chronology or timeline (nonfiction)

List of events in sequential order, which may be helpful for the reader, especially if the narrative is presented out of order. A chronology is sometimes part of the appendix.

Endnotes

Supplementary notes relating to specific passages of the text and denoted within the body by superscripts.

Most often used in nonfiction, but occasionally found in experimental/comedic fiction.

Glossary

Definitions of words or other elements which appear in the text.

In works of fiction, the glossary may contain entries about individual characters or settings.

A glossary should appear in alphabetical order.

For example, in a science fiction book, the Glossary could list the names and details of individual planets in the story.

Index

Generally used in non-fiction.

A list of special terms or phrases used in the book, along with the pages on which they appear, so the reader can find them easily.

An index should appear in alphabetical order.

Bibliography/reference list

A formal list of citations, a comprehensive breakdown of sources cited in the work.

Blank


Here are those two books I mentioned earlier, books no author should be without.

The Frugal Author

Amazon Kindle UK: http://amzn.to/2EYcJjZ

Amazon Worldwide: http://authl.it/B07B27SPBL

Non-Amazon bookstores: https://books2read.com/u/3JynnB

Lots of Author Stuff You Need to Know

Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/301nGYY

Non-Amazon bookstores: https://books2read.com/u/bP5O9

Amazon worldwide: http://authl.it/B07K5Z3F9K

FLOYD, an excerpt.

It is rare for me to post about my works in progress (WiP) on this blog, but today I make an exception.

Following is an excerpt from a novel I am working on titled ‘FLOYD’, which is a fast paced ‘slasher’ style story, about the deranged psychopath, Floyd, who is on a mission of revenge against all those involved with his committal to an institute for the insane, after he murdered his wife.

WARNING: The following contains scenes of extreme graphic violence and more than a sprinkle of bad language & swearing, so readers discretion is advised beyond this point.

… Floyd did not expect the Bitch to run at him. Neither did he think she would seize the carving knife from the counter. He was wrong on both counts.

She crossed the floor fast. He managed to dodge the blade as it whistled past his face. Instinctively he grabbed her arm, twisting it so she would drop the knife. But the Bitch continued to struggle, the long steel blade sliced the top of his thigh. It was damned painful.

Floyd kicked her knife-wielding arm away with his foot, keeping hold of her other arm. Then she was spinning towards him again. He took hold of both her forearms as they wrestled. Bending her wrist, forcing the knife away from his face caused the tip to sink into the top of the Bitch’s left breast. Floyd heard her flesh pop like a sausage.

The Bitch seemed oblivious. She pulled the blade free and stabbed it towards Floyd. This time he was ready, he knocked the knife from her grasp and took hold of her hair, jerking her off her feet.

The other Molly, Floyd’s new Molly appeared in the kitchen doorway. “Go on Floyd,” she shouted, “give the Bitch what she deserves. Go on Floyd, give her hell.” His Molly was bouncing up and down with excitement. Her presence bolstered his reserve, Floyd’s blood came back to the boil. Without thinking he dragged Bitch across the floor by her tangled blond hair.

“Stop, stop, you bastard,” she screamed. He ignored her, pulling her roughly up the staircase. She half bounced, half backwards scrambled, her legs flailing as she tried to keep her body moving to stop her entire scalp from ripping off her head.

Floyd lost his grip as they reached the landing, he stumbled to his knees, a great clump of tangled peroxide hair entwined between his fingers. In an instant the Bitch was on him, her small fists ineffectually battering against his back. He pushed her off easily. Standing, he grabbed her by her left arm, pulling her to her feet.

For a second they stood, panting and staring into each other’s eyes before the Bitch spat into his face. Flecks of spit, snot and blood-splattered Floyd. He hit the Bitch with a sweeping backhand. Her head bounced off the wall and she collapsed, an unconscious heap on the floor. Blood began pouring from her nose and the puncture wound on her breast.

The new Molly cheered. “That’s the way Floyd, you teach that fucking Bitch a lesson.”

Floyd hoisted the Bitch from the floor, carrying her limp body into the bedroom and tossing her onto the bed, noticing for the first time the red weal’s adorning her buttocks. So that is what the Bitch was into now, was it? So, she found she likes a bit of pain with her pleasure. Well, she could certainly look forward to some pain now.

Floyd took his leather belts from the dresser and strapped the Bitch’s hands together, tying them above her head to the bedstead. He used her stockings to fasten her legs to the bedposts at the base. The Bitch was now restrained. Spread-eagled and at his mercy, something he would have her begging for soon enough. She could not fight him now. She would have to answer his questions… or suffer the consequences.

“Let me look at your leg, you poor thing,” said his Molly, crouching on the floor in front of Floyd. “It’s quite deep. I think it will need stitches. A clean-up and some tape will help for now. Come on.” Molly led him into the bathroom.

“Oh, oh, look at this,” Floyd said pointing to the floor. “That fucking bitch has bled all over my fucking cream carpet. I’ll never get the blood out. For fuck’s sake, it will cost a fortune to replace.”

Molly bathed his wound, temporarily taping it together with some plasters from the medicine cabinet. He changed his dishevelled, blood-soaked clothing. “Grab me a cold beer, Molly,” he said, as he made his way back to the bedroom. “I am certain the Bitch will make this thirsty work.”

Floyd splashed the Bitch’s face with some of the cold beer. She blinked and coughed as she regained consciousness. “Now, now Molly, my dear,” he said looking down at her, feigning a smile.

He spoke softly, much like talking to a child. “Now I have your complete attention, your undivided attention, you will answer my questions, no lies, no evasion. Do you understand me?”

The Bitch struggled against her restraints. “Untie me, let me go,” she demanded.

“Oh, but I thought you liked that type of thing, a bit of bondage, a good thrashing?” He kept his smile in place as he spoke.

“What?” she asked.

“The red marks, the welts on your fat arse. There is only one way they got there,” he said.

“You’re not man enough for me to let you do that. You don’t excite me or stimulate me enough, not one little iota. You never did. Now untie me, you bastard.” The Bitch’s voice was screechingly loud.

“After you answer my questions.” Floyd perched himself on the edge of the bed and gently stroked the Bitch’s head, brushing the hair away from her eyes. “That must feel better. I know how you hate it when your hair covers your face.”

“Let me go, Floyd. This is not funny anymore.” The Bitch spoke a little quieter but through gritted teeth.

“Oh Molly, you must listen to me,” he said, bending close and grinning.

“Fuck you.”

His voice changed to a spiteful hiss, “For once in your fucking life listen to me, hear me, answer me, you bitch.”

“Fuck you.” Molly was shouting again.

Floyd punched her full in the face. He found the crunching sound her nose made is it snapped deeply satisfying.

The new Molly stood behind Floyd, her arms wrapped around his waist, she rested her head on his shoulder as she spoke. “You know the truth. You know she’s been cheating. Why not finisher her off now, so we can be together.”

Floyd looked at the Bitch laying on the bed. Her face was turned away. She was crying. Her body shaking with each sob. The fuck, she looked so pig ugly with her mouth screwed up like that. Besides, there was blood and snot everywhere.

Glancing over his shoulder, the pretty face of his new Molly was smiling at him. There was no contest, no contest whatsoever.

“Your right. Let’s get rid of this bitch,” he said.

Molly stepped backwards and held up the kitchen knife, the one Bitch Molly picked up in the kitchen, the one she used to cut Floyd’s leg.

“This should do it,” she said.

He took the knife and held it in front of the Bitch’s face. “So, you like something long and hard inside you, eh? You like some pain, do you?”

This was it.

This was it. This was his dream.

This was the moment he recalled from all his nightmares.

The Bitch lying on the bed, looking up in fear, in terror. During his dreams it seemed wrong, it frightened him. But now it all made sense. It was a premonition. A warning about this evil Bitch’s intentions.

“Go on Floyd, do her.” Molly was bouncing with excitement again.

“Oh, I shall. I am going to slit her throat from ear to ear.”

The Bitch was staring at him. “Who the fuck are you talking to? You sick bastard.”

He smiled, “Say hello to Molly, Molly.” Floyd reached out and pulled the new Molly to his side. “Look, isn’t she beautiful? She looks like you used to before you changed, before you cheated, before you became an old haggard Bitch. My new Molly is taking your place now.”

“You’ve lost the plot, Floyd. You’re sick. Sick in the head.” The Bitch spat out a mouthful of blood. “You’re hallucinating, seeing things.”

“She looks like you did once, do you know why? Eh, do you?”

“There’s no one there Floyd, you’ve turned fucking psycho.”

“She looks like you because she is you. My new Molly’s from a parallel dimension, a multiverse.”

“Fuck you, fuck you. You sick cunt. Now let me go.” Molly began to scream. Loud, high pitched screams and shouts for help.

“Shut her the fuck up, Floyd,” new Molly said. She had stopped bouncing up and down and was covering her ears with her hands. “It hurts my head.”

Floyd straddled the Bitch, one knee each side of her chest. His left hand forced her chin up, exposing her throat. He held the knife inches from her eyes, “Say goodbye, Molly. Say goodbye.”

The Bitch shrieked an ear-piercing, spine-tingling scream which vibrated every bone in his body. The knife sliced through the Bitch’s flesh like a butcher cutting pork. Her screams turned into a bloody bubbling gurgle. Floyd noticed the realisation and saw the disbelief in the Bitch’s eyes as the last moments of her life soaked into the crisp white linen bedsheets.

“Oh, my love, you did it, you did it,” said the new Molly, slinging her arms about Floyd’s neck, smothering him kisses. “You are such a darling.”

“Time for another beer I think,” said Floyd…


FLOYD continues to be a Work in Progress, I’ll post more here when I’m nearer to completing this story.

In the meantime, why not read another of my books, perhaps an Electric Eclectic novelette like ‘A New Summer Garden, a classic Crime Thriller.

The Orb, a fast paced Urban Fantasy Thriller.

Or maybe Mechanical Mike‘, a retro, pulp-fiction comic book yarn?


The above are available as eBooks/Kindle, with A New Summer Garden and Mechanical Mike also as Pocketbook Paperbacks.

You can find all the above books, with details, along with my other books, on my website, http://bit.ly/paulsEEbooks 

Feel free to browse around, ask questions and follow me on Facebook,  https://www.facebook.com/paulwhitewriter

Dear Diary 2020… Round Two

You can blame ‘Dianna’ for this post.

You see, back on July the 16th, I wrote a post entitled ‘Dear Diary… 2020’.

Unlike many people, who believed this Covid thing was about over and soon we would all be dancing naked in the streets and shagg hugging random strangers, (at least I can print the word hugging), I did not believe any such thing.

You can read ‘Dear Diary 2020’ HERE and then come back when you are all caught up.

Okay, now your back I’ll carry on.

So, why do I say blame Dianna?

Because she added this comment to my original Dear Diary post, it reads,

“Please, please, please update this diary for us! Your humour here has us all chuckling and we all need that now.”

Except for this short comment, I have no idea who Dianna is, but I do know she has great taste in blogs, a marvellous sense of humour, and sounds like my kinda girl.

Thank you, Dianna.

So, I shall start this post, which I am calling it ‘Dear Diary 2020… Round two’, as that pretty much sums it up, and as this post starts off where we left the first, in July.


JULY

Let me take you back to July the 6th, something I neglected to say and something which was overlooked by just about everybody on the planet

This was the day CNN reported an outbreak of the bubonic plague in Mongolia.

Seriously. I kid you not. The world was focused on a strain of the flu, the warning the world could be overtaken by the Bubonic Plague, the same ‘Black Death’ that killed over 50 million people on its last visit seemed to pass us by.

I mean, what are a few boils and erupting pustules in comparison to a coronavirus sneeze?

So, nothing to worry about there then.

The UK announced it will suspend the extradition treaty with Hong Kong due to the controversial security law that was passed (or will be next month, August). Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab warned Beijing that the UK is watching and keeping track of the rights of Hong Kong citizens.

Okay, while this is a good thing, as many current Honk Kong Chinese were British citizens until 1997, I cannot see Beijing quaking an the knees knowing they are ‘being watched’ by the UK government… anyway, I don’t think the Chinese ministers have ever watched Cape Fear.

However, the most disturbing news was for Ireland, who may now have to reconsider their entire national identity.

It is now said Leprechauns originated in Italy rather than Ireland.

After a five-year study, researchers at Queen’s University Belfast and Cambridge University have concluded the word “leprechaun” originated in Ancient Rome. According to their findings, the Irish “leipreachan” comes from the Latin “lupercus”, the name of a Roman god in charge of protecting flocks and also his cheeky male followers.

Devastating!


AUGUST

A giant explosion in Beirut, Lebanon, On August 4, killed 135 people and injured another 5000. It was soon revealed the blast was caused by badly stored ammonium nitrate.

Why any peaceful country would want to hoard such a vast quantity of that chemical is… well… let’s just say, open to speculation.

The bit I loved… okay, that may sound harsh, but hay ho… is the warehouse in question was called ‘The Firecracker’ warehouse. (Once, allegedly, being a fireworks factory).

At least the building lived up to its name. No trading standards investigation needed on that count.

On August 9, protests in Belarus erupted after the election results came in.

Current President Alexander Lukashenko beat opposition candidate Sventia Tikhanovskya after receiving 80% of the votes.

Tikhanovskya refused to accept the election results, stating it was clear more people voted for him.

Hmmm… Sounds familiar…

cousins maybe?

A possible Russian link…

nah, never… can’t be…can it?

Oh… and this… it was reported that Kim Jong Un was in a coma, and the photos of him alive and well back in May were fake. The rumour also states his sister, Kim Yo Jong is geared up to be his successor.

Then Kim Jong Un appeared at a party meeting, warning North Korea about the dangers from the coronavirus pandemic and Typhoon Bavi.

North Korea has still not reported any coronavirus cases in the country and Kim Yo Jong is still geared up to be something… or not.

Now an incident of note; Workers at a service station between Horsham and Crawley, (UK,) have been threatened with toilet brush during what they described as a “slight misunderstanding” over social distancing in the bathrooms.

Police Inspector Darren Taylor said: “How the toilet brush became embroiled into the disturbance we really don’t know.”

Readers will be pleased to know he added, “The toilet brush has now been returned to its cubicle”.

I guess the lesson we take from this is, keep you space… unless you want a prickly object inserted into a place the sun don’t shine.


SEPTEMBER

Breaking world news on September 1 came from Canada, yes, you read that right, something actually happened in Canada.

It’s okay, I’ll wait until get a stiff drink and are sitting down…

It was reported a karaoke bar in Canada could face fines after at 30 coronavirus cases were linked to it. The bar announced they will close for a week and urge their patrons to get tested.

What… you want more, sorry, that’s it.

After all, we are talking about Canada here.

BHM… Black Hair matters, no really… On September 8, protests in South Africa erupted after a controversial TREsemme advertisement was shown on Television.

The controversial advertisement compared black hair to blond, calling the blond hair ‘normal’ while saying the black hair was ‘frizzy and dull.’

The company has apologized for the advertisement and suspended all employees involved in publishing it.

So, the little man, who was most probably following orders, gets it; while the corporate marches on regardless.

(Get me, sounding all political and socialist.)

Anyway, the SH-1-T hit the proverbial fan regarding Coronavirus, when it was reported the daily Covid cases in Europe reached a record high. Lebanon’s coronavirus cases skyrocketed. Spanish officials urged the city of Madrid to enforce stricter restrictions or face serious risks.

Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau announced that the country is already experiencing its second wave of the virus. Israel passed a law banning mass protests during lockdown. Australia was sued by a consumer rights groups for the COVID-19 outbreak that occurred at the Tyrol ski resort, Ischgl. It was reported Belgium is at risk of becoming overwhelmed by coronavirus cases.

The Czech Republic faced a whole country lockdown, as the area has the most number of cases on the entire continent. France and Germany are inflicting stricter coronavirus guidelines after a rise in cases. Portugal announced new restrictions, implementing a curfew.

Chinese officials began a controversial emergency vaccine program administering emergency vaccines to hundreds of thousands of people before the vaccine has gone through safe clinical trials.

I want to say something funny or controversial here, but, to be honest, I am lost for words.

Let’s finish the month with this…

A sex shop in the US is offering female customers free red, white, and blue vibrators if they pledge to vote in the (then) upcoming White House election.

The ‘Erotique adult store’ in Montana says it wants to, “Make America orgasm again”, and is giving away 2,200 vibrators in a promotion dubbed The Great American Orgasm.

The sex toys are accompanied by an American flag sticker that states: “I came and I voted.”

Sorry if I mention this too late for you to take advantage of their generosity. (Dianna?)


OCTOBER

British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson,  warned it could be a difficult winter for the nation (United Kingdom). Now, I am unsure if he is referring to the Covid situation, has advanced knowledge of the weather forecasts, or expects our estranged uncle, the one we never speak of, to come visiting?

I suppose much depends on if, when, and how restricted our lockdown measures are.

Who knows?

This is bad, an abortion ruling in Poland led to nationwide protests. The controversial ruling banned nearly all abortions except those in the case of rape, incest, or risk to the mother’s health.

While, in the US of America… (It could only happen in the States), a man in Illinois has kept a half-eaten sandwich the then-vice President, Richard Nixon, from September 1960. Steve Jenne, then a teenager, grabbed the sandwich when Nixon visited his hometown.

“I looked around and thought, if no one else was going to take it, I am going to take it’”, he said.

Jenne has since written a book about the sandwich and been interviewed about it on The Tonight Show.

What… a book and an appearance… now that takes the biscuit…

See what I did there… biscuit (cookie in American)… sandwich… food, eats, snacks… NO, oh forget it.


NOVEMBER

I’m not going to mention anything that’s happening right now, as I will leave scope for a third part of these Dear Diary posts. (If Dianna like this one too?)

Oh, except this one thing…

Scientists in Australia have discovered no signs of alien life after searching more than 10 million solar systems.

The research team used a gigantic telescope in the Western Australian outback to perform the vast search, which they dubbed ‘looking for ET‘.

“We found no technosignatures – no sign of intelligent life,” one of the scientists said.

So, while 2020 still has some surprises in store for us, Alien invasion does not seem to be one of them.

However, they have not ruled out a Zombie apocalypse 2020 https://amzn.to/3nogJMw, a Giant Asteroid collision , or Artificial Intelligence becoming self-aware… think Skynet/Terminator?

So, there is still time for 2020 to out with a bang… Literally… in a literal sense.

I’ll leave you with one more thing to mull over…

Australian scientists claim they have proven time travel is mathematically possible, by reconciling Albert Einstein’s famous theory of general relativity and the grandfather paradox.

Germain Tobar, who led the research at the University of Queensland, said a time traveller could theoretically go back in time to kill the first person infected by Covid-19 and thus prevent the pandemic.

OK… Hands up… Who want’s that job?

Dear Diary… 2020

Before I start, this post was not wholly my idea.

This post is vaguely in the form of a diary which looks back on 2020. It is an amalgamation of pieces taken from other blogs, social posts and such, with a snippet or two of my own observations mixed in for good measure.

This is my disclaimer… as such, the following is far from my usual form of ‘Posting’. The following is purely for entertainment purposes, the expressed views herewith in are not necessarily those of the author.


download

January.

Australia caught on fire.

I am unsure if the fire was extinguished, it may still be smouldering away.

The reason I don’t know, is because the media circus had not finished talking about those fires when their attention was distracted as we came to the brink of war with Iran. The [British] Foreign Office warns British nationals against all but essential travel to Iran and Iraq, following a US airstrike in Baghdad the previous day, in which Iranian general Qasem Soleimani was killed.

We may still be ‘almost at war’ with them but the reporting stopped in favour of telling us about Jen Aniston and Brad Pitt, who, it seems, spoke to one another at an awards show and everyone flipped the crap out.

Men can walk safely on the streets once again as Reynhard Sinaga, described as “the most prolific rapist in British legal history”, is sentenced to life in prison after being found guilty of raping or sexually assaulting 48 men in Manchester. Police believe he may have been responsible for assaulting a total of nearly 200 victims.

This almost coincided with the ‘Big Brother‘ Police announcement that live facial recognition technology will be rolled out across London.

Then there was this thing happening in China. Something to do with wet meat or bats or such.

But again, the press became distracted after Prince Harry and a girl called Megan decided to “step back as senior members” the Royal family. At the same time, something was going on in the USA about impeachment. It seems that is a thing, who knew… who knows?

Then this Chinese thing (they decided to term it as a Coronavirus), it showed up in the USA “officially,” and the media got all excited… but then Kobe Bryant died, seems people in America knew who he was and it upset them so the media spent their time dredging up every bit of nonsensicle information about him, non-stop, 24/7.

In the UK, now with Boris at the helm, we finally managed to kick all the shit shifters, the self-opinionated, egotistical, communistic national-party fascists out of parliament, so the government could honour the people’s wishes from the referendum and get Great Britain out of the diabolical farce they call the European Union.

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February. 

Iowa crapped itself with the caucus results and the president was acquitted (from that impeachment I mentioned last month) and the Speaker of the House took ten-whole-years to rip up a speech.

Then ‘The WHO’, That’s not the band or the doctor, but the ‘World Health (dis)Organisation’, gave the Chinese virus a name, they called it, in a most scientifically creative way, COVID19, which confused some really important people in charge of our lives as they thought that meant there were 18 other versions before this one. But all it means is CoronaVirusDisease of 2019, which, when contracted comes out as ‘Covid19’.

Then some bloke called Harvey Weinstein was found guilty. Many Americans started asking if Corona beer was safe to drink, and everyone on Facebook became doctors and viral experts overnight. They then informed us that regular flu generally killed more people each year than all the COVIDs which had come before. You know, all those non-existent COVID numbers, 1 to 18.

So, clearly there was little to be concerened about… unless you are a conspiracist. Then you better watch your back because… if they are really after you, you are not paranoid.

The first British death from Covid19 is confirmed by the Japanese Health Ministry; it is a man in quarantin on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, anchored off Japan.

The first death from coronavirus in the UK was confirmed this month, as the number of cases exceeded 100, with a total of 115 having tested positive. England’s Chief Medical Officer, Chris Whitty, tells MPs the UK has moved to the second stage of dealing with COVID-19 – from “containment” to the “delay” phase.

 

StockMarket

March.

This is when the shit hit the fan big time.

A chap named Warren dropped out of the American presidential race and Sanders was like Bernie or bust.

Then, just as things were getting fruity, Italy shut its whole country down and this COVID19 thing was no longer considered confined but officially recognised as a Pandemic. (A Pandemic is when lots of people start dropping dead all over the place and no one can stop it happening in a hurry.)

So, a nationwide state of emergency was declared in many countries like the USA and Great Britain and the other bit, that um, whatsit… oh, yes the European Union thingy and people were told to go home and stay there, not to come out until you were at least eighty years old.

In some countries they added to their death toll by shooting anyone not at home.

But it didn’t change anything. Everyone was confused about what it was or what to do about it. Many people thought it was just a bad dose off the flu. So, everyone went shopping to buy toilet rolls, flour, yeast, Spanish olive oil and gummy bears, all the essentials for surviving the apocalypse.

Without getting all the attention it needed, COVID19 got ‘a bit’ upset, thinking we were not taking it seriously and started to infect the celebrities everyone likes, as it did with Tom Hanks.

That got it some attention from the news stations, who ran the story on each news broadcast, and all the people, who were now sitting at home watching thier screens, began to believe what they saw and hear on television, so they got frightened.

NHS Nightingale Hospital London, the first temporary critical care hospital to treat COVID-19 patients, opened in the ExCel Centre in East London, employing NHS staff and military personnel, with a bed capacity of up to 4,000. It was the first of several temporary critical care hospitals across the UK

Reacting to this, the Governments closed all the schools, hairdressers, bars and restaurants, so no one can learn anything or get their hair cut or have a beer with their frends… or their nails buffed and polished.

Then everyone had to work from home and attend Zoom meetings naked, wearing skimpy underwear or stained onesies.

The Stock markets bottoms fell out. (Out of where I’m not certain.)

Although, to be honest, most of us don’t understand why the stock market is so important or even a thing anyway.

I mean whose money is it anyway, where does it go, who do we owe it too, and where did they get it in the first place, oh, and how come there’s more money being made every year and when there’s not we’ve lost it? Is there a giant sofa with a ton of loose change behind the seats? Has anyone tried looking there?

There are just so many questions…

Anyway, while sitting around at home naked or squirming around in ragged onesies with your arse hanging out, we all got to meet a chap called Tiger King, thankfully only on our televisions. I’m guessing he’s the type of chap you would never take him home to meet your parents… Hmmph. Less said about that the better.

The ONE thing most can all agree on this year, Carol totally killed her husband… whacked him, and then Netflix was like you’re welcome, and we all realised there was no way we were washing our hands enough in the first place because all of our hands are now dry and gross and were all searching for lotion.

 

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April.

Bernie finally busted himself out of the American presidential race just as New York City became the perfect setting for The Walking Dead.

We also learned no one who needed them had any face masks, ventilators, or toilet paper.

Around this time, most people’s natural hair colour, including a great deal of grey, was showing above their root line and sales of home hair dye and other unessesary chemicals took off.

Oh, and Kim Jong – Un died, but then he came back to life… or did he? Is anyone really sure?

Who knows, because then, the Pentagon released videos of UFOs and really nobody gave a shiny shite about a fat man with a strange haircut after that.

 

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May.

Like at the predicted end of the world in the bible with the historical locust swarms, we learned of marauding murder hornets… and it dawned on us 2020 was probably the start the real-life Hunger Games, however, people must have forgoten to let us know it was starting.

In some places, people started to protest lockdown measures with AR-15s.

Sports events were cancelled everywhere. Theatres closed, both stage and movie. Aircraft stopped flying, ships and boats reduced their passage.

Basically the whole world shut down, which was a godsend for the wildlife, the sea and the atmosphere. Never in living memory has the air been cleaner, the skies bluer, the animals and birds more prevalent.

Then, people all over America finally reached a breaking point with race issues and violence. There were protests in every city, which was confusing to some because people were gathering in crowds standing a lot closer than 2 meters apart. Those people must have forgotten about the pandemic called COVID19 I guess?

The media struggled with how to focus on more than two things at once, while people, in general struggle to focus on more than anything more than that which was being dangled in front of their nose at the time.

A dead whale was found in the middle of the Amazon rain forest. Monkeys stole COVID samples from a lab and ran off with them.

All the while our astrologers were shitting their collective knickers, as a giant asteroid narrowly missed the Earth.

I think it swerved to avoid the Covid19 monster personally.

 

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June.

Common was cast from the window, somehow wearing facemasks became a political thing.

Then everyone remembered the pandemic, just as scientists announced they found a mysterious undiscovered mass at the centre of the earth, and everyone cried out “DON’T YOU TOUCH IT”.

However, after a deep breath, everyone realised people believed ‘Gone with the Wind’. They thought the film was like non-fiction too.

Then they announced of a strange radio signal from somewhere out in the universe which repeats itself every so many days… then everyone cried “DON’T YOU ATTEMPT TO COMMUNICATE WITH IT”.

In the UK, Jonty Bravery, an 18 year old, is jailed for 15 years after throwing a six-year-old boy off a 200 ft balcony at London’s Tate Modern gallery, leaving him with a bleed to the brain and life-changing injuries.

America decided to reopen from the shutdown that wasn’t ever a shutdown… and, so far, things have gone spectacularly well… well, no, they haven’t to be honest, they are not doing very well at all. 

The UK experiences its hottest day of the year so far, with temperatures reaching as high as 33.3 °C (92 °F) and hords of brain dead twats swarmed the beaches and spread the virus amongst themselves… the effects are yet to materialise, it takes a few weeks… 

Then, like a mass birth of rabid raptors, all the Karen’s came out and started tearing down statues of long-dead people, people who no one knew or remembered… until that point.

Whatever happens, history cannot be changed. Something so few seem to comprehend.

Everyone is then on Facebook, arguing about masks. are they effective… well no… not if you dump your discarded masks and gloves in supermarket carts, baskets and scatter them across countless car parks, they just hold and harbour the virus carrying further afield.

Mind you, I have said for years many people should have their heads entirely covered in public places anyway,  generally to reduce mass nausea. (I guess that’s another story though?)

Then we learned of a massive dust cloud coming at us directly from the Sahara Desert, which is fairly normal, but this is 2020, so the Ghost of the Mummy and the Scorpian King is most likely lurking in that dust.

One bright note is the Congo’s worst-ever Ebola outbreak is over… what do you mean, what Ebola outbreak… where have you been this year? Have you been distracted?

We have also discovered FLYING SNAKES, yes, seriously. FLYING SNAKES. And what about the 200,000-duck army China is sending to Pakistan to help with the locusts… yep, that’s the truth.

 

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So, we get to this month, July….

Some people, at this point, think we are over it. Of course, they are wrong, very, very, wrong.

This is just the beginning.

Not allowing for what additions are next. like Aliens, Zeus, more Asteroids, Artificial Intelligence becoming self-aware… (Skynet?).

Oh, joy… Live long and prosper.


 

WtIPV1smallWithin the Invisible Pentacle is available from Amazon UK

https://amzn.to/2SrwzIx

And from Amazon

USA

https://www.amazon.com/Within-Invisible-Pentacle-Paul-White/dp/1720987653/ 

These stories vary widely; some will make you laugh aloud, or nod in agreement. Others will make you shiver with apprehension, while a few might bring tears to your eyes.

The prevailing factor is, they are written with consideration for our fragile human disposition, the fears, the dreams and wishes, the uncertainties and self-doubts we all carry inside ourselves, the human element of love, of life and of survival.


 

Realistic character building, regarding novels, series and sagas.

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While many authors are proficient in creating individual personalities for their fictional persons, it is imperative when developing such characters’ lives, for one to write in a convincing and accurate mode to cultivate believability from the readers perspective.

Failure to originate plausible credibility of personality and interactions of fictional characters, over prolonged periods, proves detrimental to the reader’s gratification as it detracts from the overall principle and foundations of the author’s storyline, the very premise of which the reader chose for their entertainment.

Reality is fiction is all-important.

Therefore, understanding the social structure your characters inhabit is paramount to building such authentic originality. National, regional, fiscal, domestic and public constructs all constitute facets of each fictional character’s composition and structure.

Below is a list, created to assist with placing your complex and sophisticated character natures in a sound literary context. Therefore, accurately reflecting personality traits found in factual, genuine, true-life people of your chosen genre of state.

Such traits are often referred to as the ‘Hidden rules among Class.’

Following the subject heading, in bold text, are three subtexts. In order, they refer to; Lower Class (poor) – Middle Class (rich) & Upper Class (Wealthy).

Example,

Money: To be spent (Lower class) – To be managed (Middle Class)  – To be invested (Upper Class)

Money: To be spent -To be managed – To be invested.

Personality: Sense of humour – Achievement – Connections.

Social emphasis: Inclusion – Self-sufficiency – Exclusion.

Food: Quantity – Quality – Presentation.

Time: In the moment- Against future – Tradition.

Education:  Abstract – Success & Money – Maintaining connections.

Language: Casual register -Formal,(Negotiation) – Formal,(Networking).

Family structure: Matriarchal – Patriarchal – Heir/Sucsssesor, (Who has money).

Driving forces: Relationships – Achievement – Financial/social.

Destiny: Fate – Choice – Expectations.

 

I hope this helps as a useful guide for your character creativity and development.


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Bait your books to catch more readers.

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Okay, so the title of this post is probably not the best metaphor ever written. Maybe, I was just fishing for compliments, or reeling you in… okay, okay. Enough.

But relating your books sales, or rather your book marketing, to fishing is not so far off the mark as you may think.

I am sure you would have heard the term ‘hook’ used many times when referring to writing, particularly fiction

Most authors know and recognise the importance of having a ‘narrative hook’ in their book’s opening lines and at the end of each chapter, even in the closing paragraphs of books in a series.

The idea, of course, is to leave your reading wanting more, wanting to know what happens next or indeed, on ‘tenterhooks’.

Which, by the way, is an old English word deriving from the 14th-century wool making industry. A ‘Tenter’ was a frame used to stop cleaned woollen fabric shrinking, (from the Latin ‘tendere’, meaning ‘to stretch’). Hooks are placed around the edge of a frame, to which the fabric was attached, so it stretched it enough to stop it shrinking whilst drying.

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Hanging fabric onto a Tenter

By the mid-18th century, the phrase ‘on tenterhooks’ came to mean being in a state of tension, uneasiness, anxiety, or suspense, i.e. figuratively stretched like the cloth on the tenter.

However interesting all that may be, these facts have nothing to do with fishing and by association, sadly nothing to do with my terrible metaphor.

 

So, let me get to the nitty-gritty of this post, which is about your book’s description.

For this blog post, I am including your back-cover blurb and the description you use on your sales page of online sites, such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble etc. as the ‘description’ discussed.

It seems, by the requests for answers I receive and the social comments I read, the writing of your book’s description is an area many authors struggle with, which is, on consideration rather strange as, after completing an entire novel, pages upon pages of creative writing, authors should then struggle to write a dozen or so lines describing the very premise of the book.

Which is, in all honesty, probably one of, if not the most important few paragraphs of the entire work.

What I find is, as the creator of the story, authors tend to want to put every element into their book description. (Much the same is true in amateur cover design.)

The thing is, the description is not supposed to be a summary, or a report, or a review. It is simply an advert. The intent of which is to ‘reel’ in book browsers and have them buy your book.

Allow me to elucidate.

Someone will buy your book if…

Firstly, the little thumbnail image of your front cover catches their eye.

Then, when they enlarge, click, expand or whatever they might need to do to see your book as a larger image if they like what they see at the smaller resolution. (The reason you need a great cover artist. One like PeeJay Designs. PeeJaydesigns@mail.com)

This is the online equivalent of having a potential buyer physically pick up your book from a bookstore shelf and hold it in their hands. If they never pick it up they will never buy it.

The next step is, your potential purchaser will now read the carefully crafted and captivating description of your book. This could be the ‘blurb’ on the back cover or the description given on an online bookstore.

Reaching this point means the cover has done its most important job.

Of course, your book’s description will stop the reader in their tracks, intriguing them enough to want to…

One, buy your book immediately or…

Two, read some of the ‘Look Inside’. (If in a physical bookstore, flick through and read a few random samples.) and then they will, of course, buy your book, won’t they?

Sarah Gribble of The Write Practice, says. “I recently picked up a nonfiction book, which I don’t read many of, and almost put it right back down. But the description intrigued me. It got me to read the first couple pages, standing right there in the store. Then it got me to buy the book.”

However, if you have a lazy, badly worded and therefore an unsuccessful book description, they will simply move on to the next book, regardless of how wonderful your actual story may be, a story they, along with thousands of others, will never get to read.

This means you will have blown your chance, your opportunity to get the sale, all for a few lacklustre lines.

Okay, I hear you saying, “How do I make my book’s descriptions work for me?”

I’m glad you asked because it’s a little like fishing; you must bait your hook with the right lure, the right bait, for the fish you want to catch. (Yep, back to my metaphor.)

Perhaps, one of the best ways is knowing what to do and what not to do when writing your description.

The (basic) do’s:

Always write in Third Person

Use keywords, emotional words, like chilling or passion; they work well for both nonfiction and fiction book descriptions. You can Google power words to find some good ones. But do not overdo it.

Also, consider what people might be Googling that would take them to your book. This is especially true for nonfiction works. Think about employing those in your description.

Be succinct and to the point, no purple prose or verbose writing.

Be clear about the genre, the main genre, do not focus on sub-plots. i.e. if you have a thriller, say so, do not harp on about the romantic story which runs as a sub-plot.

Employ the proper utilization of grammar

Use eye-catching, powerful language. Just like your book needs a hook at the beginning, so does your book description. No one’s going to continue reading the description, let alone the whole book if the first line is as boring as dry toast. Plus, this is often the only thing an online shopper will see before they are prompted to click to see more, and you want them to click, don’t you?

Hint at the climax, never reveal it.

Tell your potential readers how perfect your book is for fans of… genre/style etc.

Mention any awards, high-class reviews, or serious ratings – (see notes below in ‘don’ts’)

Add any audience and age-appropriate.

Give trigger warning when it’s necessary. (These can have a positive effect on sales.)

The (basic) don’ts:

Never use shouty capitals.

Give too short a description.

Cut off words

Make false or misleading claims

Double/triple edit. Do not allow any misspellings or typos to get through. If you cannot write a short description without any errors, there is little hope your book will be error-free.

Do not employ ‘date language’ like ‘just released’ or ‘new novel’, in a week it won’t be and you will need to re-word your description.

Stay away from aggressive calls to action. Such as “You MUST buy this book”. Using such language lends a note of desperation and drives potential buyers away.

Do bear in mind retailers accept differing lengths of descriptions, so you may need to tailor it to each site’s requirements.

Surprisingly, some things you might think influence, do not, according to recent Bookbub research;

It seems it is irrelevant to include details of which type of bestseller you may have, i.e. New York Times Vs USA Today. Simply saying ‘Bestseller’ has far more significance.

Adding a question at the end of your description has no effect on your potential purchaser’s decision making. Which makes doing so a total waste of time.

Neither does saying the book is your debut novel, or your tenth novella, or your seven hundredth and fiftieth for that matter. It has no significant impact on the choice to purchase.

Therefore, use your description to tell people about your story, get them intrigued, wanting to know more.

Avoid telling them about ‘the book’. You may be proud of all those things, but readers don’t give a flying ***, they simply want to know if they will enjoy the story.

Including the series name in the description did not affect readers positively or negatively. Therefore, adding such information (in the description) is pretty much a waste of time and effort. It seems the cover, and the titles on online pages, already show that information; so potential buyers do not want the same information repeated over and again… they know, they get it already.

I now hear you asking how you get to a good description.

The easiest way is to create two versions of similar text, like this:

hook1

hook2

Both versions have the same information. They both start by listing the accolades which represent the renown of the book.

However, from there, description A focuses more on Nick Dunne’s perspective, while B hones in on Amy.

So, go ahead, create two versions of your book’s description, test them against each other and determine which works best for your book.

Use friends to help you decide. After all, their point of view will be far more accurate than your own; you will not be buying your book, they will and they know what attracts them better than you ever will.

Try using the following suggestions as an outline guide.

Start your description by using a bold opening sentence, possibly a statement to grab the reader’s attention.

Use at least one hook to grab readers’ attention.

Ensure the description does not contain any spelling or grammatical errors.

Make certain to ‘inspire’ your potential reader to ‘buy’.

While I do not suggest using direct comparisons to ‘famous’ or ‘renowned’ authors, (such as “…is the new Stephen King” or “Better than Sophie Kinsella…”) which is considered cheesy, desperate, egotistical and opens all sorts of avenues for negative feedback and bad reviews, it may be worthwhile making a statement your book would be “Perfect for fans of Lee Child” or “Martina Cole fans will love this gritty and convincing thriller

Note, the words, ‘Gritty & Convincing’ are taken directly from the cover of Martina Cole’s book. Never be afraid of copying the methods and styles used by major publishing houses.

Once you have found a style and method which suits you, why not create your own template and use that for your future books?

After all, great fishermen have their own way of baiting their rod for the type of fish they want to catch. You can do the same, go get the readers you need, lure them in, hook, line and sinker.

See, fishing is not such a bad metaphor after all.

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I have compiled a wealth of information to help authors of all capabilities and experience to know more about the publishing world, books and being indie.

To share this information I created two books, The Frugal Author, which is all about publishing at the lowest costs for the maximum return, and ‘Lots of Author Stuff You Need to Know’, which contains, funny enough, lots of author stuff you NEED to know.

These books are full of useful and enlightening information, are designed to help you avoid making costly mistakes and to help you generate profit as early as possible.

Both books are published as low-cost eBooks, waiting for you to download right now.

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 Redbooks2

 

Authors, are you sitting on a fortune without realising it?

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A short while ago I wrote a post about the different ways and reasons authors might sign their books. Why you should take signing and inscribing your books very seriously…

This post follows on from that one, but not along the route you might think.

Once again, this is an in-depth and informative article, from which I think you will take far more than just the main points I make.

At least, I hope so.


The idea for this post came about while I was chatting away with a friend, discussing how easy it is to recycle print books nowadays, especially since the introduction of environmentally friendly inks, papers, films, card and such.

However, as with most conversations, our chat wandered across many subjects, soon I found myself explaining how I sold several uncorrected proof copies of my books, ones which included errors, misprints, formatting issues and so forth to either fans or collectors.

My friend, who happens to be an avid collector of rare books, said this is not such an unusual occurrence, many book collections would not be complete without an uncorrected proof copy or two.

He said, some of these proofs are produced without cover illustrations, so the books are, in his words ‘raw’, just containing the writer’s words and little else. The resulting post is formed both from the information my friend shared and from research I undertook following our meeting.


I do understand why people collect first editions.

I the early days of printing presses the plates were made of lead, the sharpness of the edges on these plates would, after a number of impressions, wear. Thus, the earlier impressions would be far sharper and clearer than those printed later.

This was most important where the printed work contained illustrations or maps, which were generally finely penned pen & ink drawings or engravings, so clarity of reproduction was all-important.

In modern times, first with off-set printing and now with digital technology, this is no longer a factor and collecting ‘first’ or ‘early’ editions is now more of an act of faith than a practical necessity.

If one was to take the ‘early’ edition to its most, but logical, extreme, then it is the authors manuscript would be the rarest and most valuable version of ‘the book’… which it is.

Most collectors, including institutions, cannot collect authors manuscripts as widely, or as thoroughly, as they may wish.

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There is, however, a preliminary state of a book, prior to the first published edition and therefore closer to the authors manuscript so it still holds a high rarity value yet is more readily available.

These fall into two categories.

The first is the authors proof copy(s). Dependent on how many ‘proof’ editions are required.

The second is the ARC’s or ‘galley’ proofs, which often need final-final proofreading before publication and printing start in earnest.

These copies of your own books can also hold a higher intrinsic value than those of your production run, including POD’s.

The reason is twofold; the first is they are early examples, so they are rare, most being produced in low quantities of a dozen or so.

Secondly, most books will undergo their final revisions, by the author and editors, after the printing of the proof copies; meaning these books often show a state of the authors work otherwise unpublished. This is enormously interesting and informative for scholars and students of literature and language studies.

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The history of producing proof copies for distribution dates to the partly printed ‘salesmen’s dummies’ of the 19th century.

But ‘proofs,’ as part of the publication process, has a shorter history.

Advance copies of books for in-house use by the publisher are customary,  either as long galley proofs or in other formats. Printed and bound advance copies for distribution were rare in the 1930s and 40s, only becoming regular practice in the 1950s and 60s.

This was mostly due to Crane Duplicating Service, a Cape Cod printer, who promoted the idea to the publishing industry. Those who had a ‘Crane’ could print inexpensive prepublication editions which they could send out for early reviews, thus tempting the major wholesalers and retail buyers to place larger orders. Another development to assist with this was also devised by Crane, this was the placing of promotional ‘blurb’ on the rear covers or dust jackets of these promotional books.

This practice gained such wide acceptance proofs became known as ‘cranes’ by the print industry for many years, a practice which has only recently fallen from fashion.

You can see the natural, almost organic progress of how this influenced the concept and design of the modern book, which still sports the back cover and dust jacket ‘blurb’ first fashioned by those early publishing houses.

The number of proof copies is a secret kept by each publisher, but some figures have escaped, such as the 57 copies of Robert Stone’s first novel, The Hall of Mirrors, or the 39 proofs of Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five.

One of Phillip K Dick’s novels contained ‘potentially libellous’ text. It is said that 19 proof copies of this book still exist… somewhere.

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Not satisfied with these simple proof copies, many publishers (since the 1930s) issue elaborately produced prepublication volumes in hope of generating further interest in forthcoming releases.

Raymond Chandler’s first novel, The Big Sleep, was issued in such a prepublication form, as were Dashiell Hammett, and James M, Cain and, in 1961, an ‘advance reading copy special edition’ of a forthcoming first novel called Catch-22 by Joseph Heller, was created.

Since then, ARC’s have become commonplace, they are now par-for-the-course for most releases, such is the case for ‘The World According to Garp‘, John Irving’s breakthrough novel, which used 1500 advance copies printed for promotional purposes. Martin Cruz Smith’s Gorky Park had two printings of ARC’s totalling 2500 copies; it was his first bestseller. Since which he has become one of the most popular and successful thriller writers of all time.

Examples of textual changes in proofs abound.  Most are never discovered until someone does a line by line comparison with the final book.

Tim O’Brien revised his National Book award-winning novel, ‘Going After Cacciato‘, after the proof was printed, and O’Brien’s own copy has whole paragraphs marked out and rewritten. His second novel, Northern Lights, has a two-page section in the proof that does not appear in the finished book.

Peter Matthiessen’s National Book Award-winning ‘The Snow Leopard‘ has major changes made after the proof was printed, after he sent it to a friend, and Buddhist scholar, for comments on his references to Buddhism.

Kent Anderson’s powerful Vietnam war novel ‘Sympathy for the Devil‘ has the most stunning passages excised after the proof was printed, perhaps because they were deemed by editors to be too harsh for publication.

Oh, and no one would have known just how bad Ernest Hemingway’s Spanish was in the late 1930s if the proofs of ‘For Whom the Bell Tolls‘ was not found.

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So, even if you change, finalise, re-edit sections or whole parts of your book after feedback from your ARC’s, this may not be a bad thing.

There is a case made because proofs are printed first and are distributed outside of the publishing house, they comprise the ‘true first edition’ of a book, as such distribution constitutes the ‘publishing’ of said work. i.e., making a book available to the public, however limited the availability may be.

Combining their historical scarcity, and likely future scarcity, with the textual variations which are often found and which, by definition, represent a state of the text closer to the author’s original manuscript, the value in collecting proof copies is self-evident.

Which brings me, albeit by such a circuitous route, to where this post links back to my previous one about book signings.

http://www.peecho.com/checkout/14716200169619823/234509/doveshardv3I have sold all the copies of my own proof books and intend to do so in the future as I release new works.

I combined the rarity of such with the opportunity to sign and/or inscribe each copy as described in the previous post on this blog.

Of course, the cost of these rare editions is a little higher than the general releases and, as I have the physical copies, shipping charges are also paid by the buyer.

Some may think this would dissuade the regular purchaser, but I have found otherwise and, on two occasions, had people bidding against each other.

I no longer allow people to get embroiled in this way and set what I consider to be a fair and reasonable price for each book.

Taking this one step further, I would also welcome the sale of my original manuscript, should I have handwritten, typewritten or even made handwritten alterations on hard copy, which I have, sadly, not.

Personally, I do not work that way. I do know some authors who prefer to do so and maybe this is an option they may like to consider?


To cap this post off, here are some points you may like to consider in your future marketing plans. Please note, these are ideas for Paperbacks and Hardcover books, they are not ideal or workable for eBooks.

The following notes are based on the premise from which I started this post… “are you sitting on a fortune without knowing it?”

1, Create a ‘first edition’ short run of your next book.

You could do this as a time-limited promotion or for a set number of books. Of course, you may find some little niggly alterations you need to make, which would only better the rarity of this first edition run.

2, Use any ARC copies (which could simply be a small number of the above or a set number of pre-proofread editions) to your benefit.

Don’t just send them to ‘reviewers’ or ‘friends’ seeking Amazon/Goodreads reviews. Such reviews now lack credibility as their authenticity is under challenge, which is why Amazon deletes so many ‘reviews’.

Instead, give them to your local radio and TV stations; in the UK seek out the local BBC stations as well as the independent ones. Do the same with your local newspapers. Give one to the manager of your local Waterstones bookshop, (these managers have a say in selecting the books their stores stock.)

The main reasons I suggest ‘local media’ is they are constantly hungry for ‘local’ news, so an author from the area who has or shall soon, be releasing a book is exactly the type of story they need. You may well get an interview or be asked to appear as a guest.

Try and milk the airtime. Do a pre-book release show with the ARC & get invited back, in say, two weeks, once your book has been released and is ‘live’ online. (Get two bites of the cherry & create a relationship with the host(s))

I have appeared on two of the three local radio stations in my hometown. Including several guest appearances on the primetime breakfast show.

Note: Do think outside the box, which is especially relevant for certain genres and non-fiction. I have some of my own books in maritime museums, seafarers, and naval heritage centre gift shops and online websites.

You can try your local tourist information centres if your book is about, or set in, the locality. Check out your local museums, galleries and tourist hot spots. Your book may just be welcome on their shelves.

3, If you want to try to attack the regional market, which will encompass your ‘State’ in the USA, then why not produce your own ‘special prepublication edition’ to send to the key organisations? (This would work for National campaigns too, but they are far more difficult to organise and manage.)

As with #2 above, only offer to sign or inscribe these ARC’s for the host when you are interviewed or appear on their show, or when your recorded slot has been aired. Try not to do it pre-show or during recording sessions.

After which, it is always worth turning up ‘out-of-the-blue’ on another day to sign the book when the show is on-air. (It is to the hosts benefit… they will almost certainly ‘fit-you-in’. Trust me, I have done this.)

Even if you do not get lucky with more airtime immediately, you can arrange a time to go back for the signing, even offer to give a signed book or two to the listeners, suggest holding a little quiz or competition. Anything that engages the station’s listeners will make them jump all over you for the privilege.

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4, Manuscripts.

A, If you handwrite and are willing to sell your manuscript, either your first draft of your final draft, then please offer it for sale at a price that reflects your love for your story, (i.e. not cheaply). You could fashion a loose cover or folder to keep the whole thing neat, or at least together for presentation purposes. If this has your signature or additional notes written on it, it will add to the overall provenance.

B, If you use a computer to write, as I do, why not consider printing out your draft, at least the ‘final/final first draft’ and making your own handwritten editorial notes on the physical copy, along with and as, you edit the on-screen copy.

This could then be treated as the manuscript above.

Please, however, only have one copy of your first draft and one of your final draft, (although other working copies are acceptable, such as the ARC draft, bot ONLY as long as each is a sole copy and unique), any other/repeat copies will only devalue your manuscripts and will be considered fraudulent, which is not, I am sure, a label you want to associate with your good name.

The more handwritten crossings out, margin notes, additions and so forth the better. These are the things collectors, libraries, scholastic establishments and museums adore. Such items tend to lend people a sense of ‘knowing’ the author as they work, an insight into their mindset if you will.

Well, that’s it from me for this post.

I do hope you can use some of these ideas or, indeed, find fresh ones which suit your own unique situation.

Finally, I can’t help think of eBooks as being ephemeral, subject to being lost in a power outage or, as Amazon.com did with a number of George Orwell books, when it found it sold them without having rights to them, simply erased them from the face of the earth. Something which is far harder to achieve with printed books…. note Fanrenhight 451.


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Get a preview of my current Works in Progress.

See my Artworks and Photography.

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Why you should take signing and inscribing your books very seriously…

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But first, here are a few bits of book lore authors may not know.

By tradition and convention, authors should always sign their books on the title page, the page which has the author’s name printed on it, generally under the printed title of the book or nearer the foot of the same page.

If the author wishes to add an inscription, a message along with their signature, it should also go on the title page if it is very short, about a word or four in length. Longer inscriptions should be written on the half-title page, the page preceding the title page, or on the front endpaper, sometimes referred to as the flyleaf, if of a serious length.

An old tradition has the author put a line through their own printed name when they sign their name on the title page.

There are, by historical anecdote, two views of why this practice is undertaken.

The first, is a book only needs a single validation attributing its author, the authors own handwritten signature makes the printed attribution unnecessary, hence it is crossed out.

The second accepted reason goes back to the earliest days of printing when it was the practice for authors to sign each copy of the printed material by hand as proof of their authorship, a kind of early copyrights protection if you will.

My own view is, the tradition of crossing out one’s name arises from a combination of both, developing over the years as the printing revolution gained credence.

signed vs inscribed

I do like the thought, even nowadays, these hundreds of years later, there is some conservative part of us writers who continue this practise as a nod to our literary forebears. That we authors like to keep a connection with our history and heritage.

Another tradition for book signing is when someone asks you to sign or personalise their copy. (This is inclusive of book signings, or under any other circumstance.) Say the person is ‘George’, then the author should write the words ‘For George’. ONLY if the author is giving the book as a gift should they write the words ‘To George’. (Note Stephen King’s inscription in the above photograph).

Of course, these are only conventions, accepted literary etiquette and in no way are enforced rules or regulations. Authors can sign any way they wish.

I do hope, however, you are one who embraces historical values, discernment and class.

Here is what some established authors say on the matter;

malcolm_gladwell_signed_title_page-e1381421633946Tom C. Hunley says. “I asked Rodney Jones, American poet and retired professor of English at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, why he crossed his name out in a book he signed for me. He told me it makes it more valuable for collectors. Also, if it has a date and location, it makes it even more valuable. So, I’ve been crossing out my name and writing in a date and location at every book signing since.”

(Tom is the director of Steel Toe Books and a prolific writer and Professor of English at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, KY.)

Nicholas Belardes, a Chicano writer of speculative, literary, YA and MG fiction said, “Sometimes I cross my name out and sign. I do it out of respect for myself, for the idea of accomplishment, for the idea that writers are real people, that we can touch our manuscripts in ways that transcend the printed objects they’ve become. Our works become even more personal this way because our signatures are more physically attributed to us in the world than even fingerprints.”

“I do it. My understanding is it dates to the historical tradition of small press runs, where the author would hand-sign each copy as an authentication of the text.Sandra Beasley, American poet and non-fiction writer from Virginia.

Note: Sometimes authors sign additional copies, ones intended for future sale by the store or organisation where the signing is taking place. This is encouraging for people to purchase the book from and even attract custom to, that retailer.

However, there is also an ulterior motive; once a book has been signed, it is no longer classed as a ‘new’ book according to many publishers’ rules. Therefore, it cannot be returned to the publisher for a refund by the retail vendor. (Neat trick or not. I guess it depends on your viewpoint?)

Okay, now we have those tidbits of information, let’s get on with the reason why you might take signing your book as a very serious matter…

 When you buy a signed book, you are purchasing a signature, but when you buy an inscribed book you are getting a story.

One of the questions I’ve been asked often is “Which is better, having a book signed by the author or having them inscribed it?”

Without any hesitation, my answer is the more writing by the author in a book, the better. I even encourage collectors to have their own copies personally inscribed by the author whenever they can.

For a long time, generations, literally, there was a clearly established hierarchy of values pertaining to books signed by their authors.

I shall clarify…

The best copy is the dedication copy, most usually there is only one of these. The one gifted to the person for whom the dedication was written.

Next best are the association copies, books inscribed by the author to someone notable or important in the author’s life, a relative, a friend, a mentor or possibly another writer.

After that were ‘presentation copies,’ which means the books inscribed by the author to someone who was not (as) important to the author, or whose importance was unknown.

And finally, at the bottom of the hierarchy, are books that are just signed, with no further inscription, no other writing, etc.

The logic of such a hierarchy is more or less self-evident.

The dedication copy is usually unique or, at most, limited to a couple of copies, inscribed by the author to the person he or she thought important enough to dedicate the book to, in print.

Association copies involved significant figures in the author’s life (or in the general cultural life of which the author was a part) also have a self-evident value, although not one as unique or specific as the dedication copy.

Presentation copies are more ambiguous, the mere fact a presentation copy could sometimes, with a little bit of research, luck, or specialised knowledge ‘become’ an association copy argued for their importance, and the closeness of the two in the hierarchy.

Signed books are last, and there is the suggestion of a ‘taint’ to them, as though the only justification for a book having an autograph is celebrity worship which is inappropriate to the book (literary) world.

Because this preference is clear and longstanding in the book collecting world, dealers prefer to have presentation copies over plain signed copies, collectors prefer them and there is a premium placed on their price in the collector’s marketplace.

Now, a true story of how this hierarchy was thrown into turmoil…

An enterprising bookselling from the New York area, recognising this preference, decided to exploit it, relentlessly.

Somewhere in New York, even before the days of routine author tours on the publication of a new book, there were author readings every day. The same with lectures, talks, and seminars, most open to the public.

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Frequently one could visit several in a single day.

The bookseller in reference was a family business. They attended many readings and talks, en masse; often five or more family members at each, all carrying a bag full of the author’s first editions. Each asking the author to inscribe the books to them personally.

Then, when they issued catalogues, nearly every book was listed as a ‘signed presentation copy, inscribed by the author’, a most desirable designation, especially for modern first editions, many of which are not inherently rare unless there is something special about a particular copy.

This exploitation continued for several years. As it did the family grew bolder, branching out its operation to reach more authors, those beyond the boundaries of New York.

Stories began to circulate among writers as they began to receive identically worded, ingratiating letters from a correspondent claiming to be the author’s greatest fan and sending a box of books to be inscribed personally before being returned.

Some writers began noticing the ‘fan’ would then write a follow-up letter some months later, sending another batch of books to be inscribed,  often including copies of titles the author remembered signing previously.

Authors began to dislike it, feel manipulated, deceived and exploited. Several undertook to go along to bookshops and signing all their books in each store.

Booksellers eventually recognised the fraud of these ‘signed presentation’ copies. Whereas a plain signed book carried no such taint.

Collectors began to absorb the preference for plain signed books the booksellers now favoured, although they did not realise it was only the books inscribed to this family’s members which were ‘tainted.’

The public’s perception (wrongly) grew that all inscribed books were now less desirable than those which were simply just signed by the author.

The whole episode created a self-fulfilling prophecy: if collectors’ value inscribed books less than books which just have the authors signature, for whatever reason, it becomes far more difficult to sell inscribed books than those which are signed…. The perception of which is, it ‘proves’ inscribed books are less valuable…. and so, the merry goes around.

Such a view not only defies long-established historical precedent it also diminishes and demeans collecting.

Not only can a presentation copy, to an unknown third party ‘turn into’ an association copy (after a little research), but a collector’s own copy can become an association copy if the collector stays with it long enough and seriously enough for the collection to become recognisably important.

Hemingway’s first bibliographer was Louis Cohen, a fan and book collector.

A Hemingway book inscribed to Cohen would, at the time, be a simple presentation copy to a person of no particular consequence.

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Today, it would be viewed as a highly desirable association copy.

 

Similarly, if Carl Peterson managed to get Faulkner to inscribe a book to him, it would now be viewed as a major association copy.

The time-honoured practise of identifying books from an important collection, ‘the Doheny copy‘ or ‘the Bradley Martin copy,‘ for example, underscores collectors themselves can become significant figures.

Perhaps, most telling in terms of underlying values is the cases of long-dead authors like Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Faulkner, Steinbeck, Joyce, it is true a presentation copy has a higher value in the marketplace than one which is just signed.

They are more interesting, they can provoke interesting questions leading to discovery, which is one of the pleasures of collecting and ‘the more writing by the author in the book, the better’ is still generally the accepted truth in this market.

Now, this is where it matters to you most…

Since we do not know, cannot predict or even guess who will be part of the next generation of Faulkners, Hemingway’s, James Joyce’s or even Stephen Kings, is there any reason different criteria should apply to the inscriptions of we contemporary authors than to those we now deem as ‘classic’?

I don’t think so.

Therefore, I suggest you take your book signings very seriously indeed, because one of those people may well be you, or me, or… maybe it will be the author who just inscribed your copy of their new book.

Keep Happy, Paul.


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