Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Kindle and Smashwords

I did not intend to blog over Christmas. After all, with all the shops closed, the snow falling and everyone at home what could possibly happen?

Well, Arrival could hit 800 downloads and a brief appearance on the Smashwords most downloaded anthologies list. It was at #8 when I checked so you'd need to scroll down to see it, but that is a nice Christmas present. This is completely unexpected, and a very pleasant surprise. It is getting to the point where I am tempted to do a trailer for my free ebook.
On the other hand this does give me some grounds to approach my publisher about moving the release of the Kindle edition of Fire Season up. I have no idea whether or not a commercial product will be as successful, but the ebook does seem to have moved rather fast.

I hope you had a Merry Christmas and, if I don't update before then, have a Happy New Year!

Friday, 24 December 2010

A Christmas round-up

SInce it's Christmas Eve, I thought I'd add a few notes on how the year has gone so far. After all, mince pies and sherry are a great help to reminincing.

I started with a manuscript, and ended it with a book. In between, a quick summary of the year shows that things were eventful. The first book deal occurred in April, then the manuscript was released in June. After a few months of negotiation with various publishing houses I went with a small games publisher who released it in December.

The main problem with the launch was the snow, which no one could have expected. Sicne the books were stuck in a snow drift, with the publisher, printer and distributor snowed in, they weren't available on shelves. To recover this, I sent out author copies for review in early December but I only had a limited number. One bright spot was the launch reviews; to be honest, they've been better than I hoped or expected for a first novel.

Arrival, a short story I tweeted, pulled over 6,000 readers on various channels. It's now up on Smashwords as a free e-book, and has gained over 500 downloads and ten times that reading online. Post Christmas it should show up in the Premium Catalog - that's Kobo, Barnes and Noble and a few others - which might draw even more readers.

Next year looks promising. Now the publisher and distributor have their copies things should start to move. I know they are talking to bookstores, so we will have to see if central distribution can be arranged. Other events going on:
  • A presence at Salute 2011
  • More reviews coming out
  • Magazine and genre coverage
  • Bookstore and Library events being arranged

All in all, the new year is going to be an interesting time.

Merry Christmas!

A quick update on Arrival.

Going by what other bloggers had said, I was expecting maybe ten downloads a day. Short stories from unknown authors with little promotion apparently go unnoticed. Instead Arrival (uploaded on 14th December, went into directories on 19th) reached 500 downloads last night and is still going. That's not including anyone who read it on Goodreads or viewed it online.

My round-up for the year will go live later today, but that news makes a very nice early Christmas present.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Arrival - a Free short story

Back between August and November I released a short story, linked to Fire Season, through tweets and regular blog updates. It proved rather popular, drawing over 6,000 followers on its various channels. So, since it's coming up for Christmas, with the help of the publisher it is now available as a free download on Smashwords in most ebook formats.

Arrival is set a few years before Fire Season, covering the arrival of one of Brooke's Vale's more unique residents.

Ebook Price: Free! 1560 words.
Type: Fiction
Author: V.H. Folland
Released: December 14, 2010
A short story about the arrival of one of Brooke's Vale's more unusual residents.

A prequel, set several years before Fire Season, this was originally released through Twitter.

*Click here to Download Free*

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Amazon hijinks & £3 a book?

I was rather surprised this morning to find that a seller, book depository, had started advertising my book at about £3. I contacted my publisher to see if this was a promotion, and found out a few things.

There is apparently some hilarity going on at my publishers. Due to the snow, they currently know where every copy of the book is, and have for the last three days. Certain sellers who do not have copies have been advertising it for the last three days.

On the other hand, Book Depository's offer is legitimate. More importantly the sale rate to the distributor is fixed, so it doesn't affect my royalty or the publisher's margins.

So, for anyone looking for a stocking filling for Christmas, please consider my book. After all, that is £2.97 for something you can guarantee they don't have, and that's getting 4 and 5 star reviews. Oddly enough, it is more expensive on their own page (£5.99), so to get the discount buy through Amazon.

I don't know how long that offer will stay live for, so if you're after it get it here!

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

And they are here!

My books arrived in the post this morning, and were waiting for me when I got back from work. I think the packet survived about 5 minutes from the time I got indoors, that being how long it took me to get the scissors.

So, now I am holding my book. The first copies I've actually seen. My impressions?

It's bigger than I thought, at 352 pages. The cover is a matt laminate, and the artwork has come out well. Overall it has the slightly old fashioned style I wanted for the book, but will definitely stand out on shelves which is important. The page is nice, and the font, although larger than usual for a mass market paperback, is nicely readable.

To celebrate, there is another goodreads giveaway going on - this time for three of my author copies.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Fire Season (Paperback) by V.H. Folland

Fire Season

by V.H. Folland

Giveaway ends December 10, 2010.

See the giveaway detailsat Goodreads.

Enter to win

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

A book released - into a snow drift...

My book was officially released today, on the day that snow blanketed parts of the UK. My publisher is currently snowed in, as am I, and my books are not likely to reach the distributor due to snow delays. On the other hand while the book mght not get to stores, not many customers are either.

In better news, Fire Season has received another 4 star review on Goodreads, from a reviewer who said it's not her usual choice of book.

"...the ending had me, literally, sitting on the edge of my seat!" Ruth, Goodreads (Full review)

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Getting a book into Waterstones

This seems to be the holy grail for UK writers. As a small press author who seems to have managed it in a few stores, speaking to my publisher I found out it isn't as easy as you think.

Some articles make it sound like walking into any random store with your book and waving it at the manager stand you in good stead of shelf space. This is misleading. Although Waterstones managers do have some discretion over what goes on the shelves, they do also have a central list that they pick from. The three basic things you need to get into a book store seem to be:

1) ISBN: you have to have one.
2) (in the UK) be listed on Nielsen
3) A recognised distributor who manages sale or return.
4) Access to the Waterstones independant books listing

These will let you get listed on the Waterstones computer system, without which the managers can't order the book. Now they can order the book, you need to persuade them to do so. If you have a good distributor, they will handle this, but otherwise you need

3) A good commercial, marketable, book.
4) A media pack of press releases,posters, and details of how to order your book
5) Good walking shoes.

Just because your book is available for them to order doesn't mean they will order it, or even know about it. You need to speak to the store owners, arrange events and promote your book.

Sales reps do this nationwide and have many years experience. Normally I'd say leave it to them, with one exception: if you are a compulsive bookbuyer and on first name terms with your local, (e.g. your store knows you well enough to special-order books before you even know they are out, phone you, and then fetch them out of the warehouse shipment for you) you might want to approach those stores yourself. It worked for me.

Here's some more information, straight from the horse's mouth:

(And if you read that, you can probably guess where one copy of my book and its covering letter will be going on 2nd December.)

One thing that surprised me: Being listed on their website for order is not the same as being available through their store system. If you are on Neilsen's feed, you'll probably show up on their site since they can order the book. Fire Season showed up there before it even had a cover, but was not available to stores for several more weeks.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

A Nano update

At the weekend my final copy of the manuscript went off to the publisher. They let me know it had gone to print earlier this week, so everything is progressing nicely.

Now I should be working on selling my book, but it's a little difficult with one remaining ARC and no printed books yet. So, for the next two weeks, my attention will be on something else I have been neglecting: NaNoWriMo.

I've got the first few thousand words written up, but not put in yet, and since we are halfway through the month I have some catching up to do!

Friday, 12 November 2010


This was going to be a post about the difficulties of promotion when you're an author with a small press, since the channels for established publishers assume you are self-publishing and the ones for self-publishers assume you are with a company and have unfair advantages. I'll put this post up another time, however, since I actually have a few updates on the book.

The book trailer has been accepted for YouGottaRead's trailer contest for January, so I'll probably be Tweeting a lot about that when it occurs.

My publisher let me know that the Nielsen feed has updated with cover and distribution details, so the book is available to be ordered Sale or Return from just about every bookshop in the country.

Clover Hill Book Reviews took an ARC earlier this year and kindly got back to me with two reviews, Goodreads and the Clover Hill Book Review blog. Phrases like "well-researched" and "Compulsive Reading" as well as the 4.5 stars out of five definitely made my morning.

"Thought provoking, emotional and compassionate, this is a book I could read again. A recommended read." Clover Hill Book Reviews


Monday, 8 November 2010

Cover Image!

Last week I was told the publisher had received a copy of the final artwork from Barry Weekley.

This week I got my final cover layout. The "furniture" like author name and publisher logo are still being adjusted, but this is apparently pretty much what the front is going to look like. The back? Well as I hoped it's a wrap-around cover and the image continues on the back. What is on the back won't be a surprise to anyone who followed my story on Twitter, or anyone who's seen the lens.

I have to say, I rather like it. It certainly stands out.

Fire Season by VH Folland
Pre-order Fire Season from Amazon.co.uk

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Twitter Story - Week 12

"I don’t think he planned that far. You missed him trying to get Rose’s help, through an odd mix of begging and barking." Jake’s tone was light, and Jim grinned. The crop sprayer pilot had never been good at asking for help, even when he needed it.

"You know she’s not qualified to work on it, right?" he asked and Jake nodded.

"That’s what she said. Think you might know anyone who could give him a hand?" Jake’s suggestion was deliberately casual and Jim sucked his breath through his teeth in mock thought.

"A few. Say ten or so." He knew her old crew would be more than happy to have a quick look up here and see what had happened to their old lady. Looking down at Matt, now shifting the stepladder along the wing to a new spot, Jim smiled. She might not be his, but his grey lady had definitely found a good home.


And that's the end of the story. This short story preceeds the novel by a few years, but if you want to know more about them, and what they do with their odd acquisition, you'll need to read Firestorm (excuse the gratutious shill).

The story, about 1,200 words was run as 83 seperate tweets, released daily through my twitter feed, under hashtag #vhfstr1.

Follow VHFolland on Twitter

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Twitter Story

As the story nears its end, the final round up will be tomorrow.

Happy Bonfire Night, and stay safe!

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

A Goodreads giveaway

The Goodreads Giveaway complete yesterday and I sent the books off this morning.

I'll admit I have doubts about sending out proof copies. After all these aren't the finished copies so complaints about justification, or the cover art, would be somewhat unfair. However this appears to be standard practice in publishing, so I'll follow my publisher's lead and keep my fingers crossed for good reviews.

On more hopeful news the lens about my book, http://www.squidoo.com/FireSeason, will be one of the featured lenses for their Books cateory until the second of December. That should build some interest. An advertising campaign targeted to specialist interesed parties, will also kick off later this month.

In some ways I feel as if this is getting away from me a bit. When I started I was expecting a small release, a few reviews up before it came out, and any interest to build after that. Instead my publisher is talking to distributors, handling pre-orders and promoting it with a fair degree of advertising. I'm not complaining, believe me, but I am wondering if I can keep up with everything!

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Twitter Story - Week 11

"Yeah. Who’d you think had to do the fire assessment for Matt when he decided to bid for it?"

"You could’ve told me!" Jim snapped, and Jake waved a reproving finger at him.

"No I couldn’t. Professional confidentiality. Besides if you’re too dumb to check who actually won the auction, or actualy talk to your brother, or even look left at the huge grey nuclear bomber that you drove right passed -"

"Ok, ok." Jim went back to watching the old crop sprayer pilot scrubbing industriously at the paint, reflecting that his brother could be particularly annoying when he was right. "Who’s he planning to get to help him look after it?"


The story updates daily at my twitter feed, under hashtag #vhfstr1.

Follow VHFolland on Twitter

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Making Steady Progress

For anyone interested in the Goodreads giveaway these are examples of the uncorrected proofs/ARCS that are being dispatched. In fact, two of them probably are the copies that will be sent out.

It's been a very busy day. It started with dispatching some advance copies to reviewers, and hearing that the first batch the publisher had sent out had already arrived.

Then the first set of test bookmarks I'd designed for Fire Season arrived in the post, and I set up an order details page to go with the media kit. I dropped a note to some potential advertisers, who came back to me the same day and were very nice about arranging to put my ad up around the time the book is coming out.

Then I was shown the first tests of the actual cover, not the placeholder used for the ARCs. The artist is still working on the final image, but it's a very nice picture.

If all that wasn't enough, the day ended with me talking to Waterstones about doing a book signing or event there. They were very nice and more than interested in helping out a local author, so I came away with a list of contact names and people to talk to about getting my book stocked with them.

My publisher's already following up on it, so hopefully things will work out.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Planning a book launch

With six weeks to go until the book is released, people have started asking the question that I was hoping to avoid:
  • "So, when's your launch party?"
  • "I'll get back to you."
The launch party appears to be a traditional part of a book launch now, with press, publisher, author, and possibly family, friends and vague acquaintances being invited. Since I am being published by a small press, I have to arrange my own. As someone with a life-long aversion to public speaking, large events, and media exposure this feels rather like being asked to pick the members of my firing squad.

I have not even settled on a venue yet. Ideally I'd like a bookshop with a cafe, so they can handle the book selling part and I can get something to eat and drink. Unfortunately my local closed a few months ago, and I can't find another that fits the bill. I did consider going to the other end of the spectrum and asking Foyles, but when I checked the schedule that would put my little event head to head with the Poet Laureate. I know my limits.

It may yet be upstairs in my local with pub grub, friends, family and regulars attending, and a stack of books in the corner. To be honest, that rather appeals.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Cover Artist

The ARC copies have gone out for review with a placeholder cover. Much as I liked seeing them, I can't wait for the actual book with the full cover.

The cover art for Fire Season is being done by Barry Weekley, a noted aviation artist. With an outstanding gallery, including a number of other book covers, to his name I find myself worried that my book won't live up to its cover.

Unfortunately, like most authors, I didn't get much of a say in the cover art. After a few discussions in which I gave some ideas, I am left to see what the publisher and artist come up with. I do know it's supposed to be a wrap-around image, so to see the full picture you'll need to open the book flat.

Barry Weekley has his own book of aviation art out, "The Aviation Art of Barry Weekley" which you can see on Amazon.

For the best idea of his artwork however, please see his website at:

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Twitter Story - Week 10

It was true, Jim knew. He had deliberately avoided looking, since the last thing he had wanted was to watch Matt's planes when he had just lost the auction for his own. Turning the magnification up to full he surveyed the aircraft, the eight propellers gleaming before four engines. The faded grey livery showed that this was an old, old, lady, and yet she still looked ready to fly. As he looked along the wing he stifled a chuckle. Matt was already up on a stepladder with a bucket and cleaning supplies, attacking the grime on the grey surface. Then Jim suddenly realised –

"Hold on. That means you already knew I lost." Jim lowered the binoculars and gave his brother an accusing glare.


The story updates daily at my twitter feed, under hashtag #vhfstr1.

Follow VHFolland on Twitter

Thursday, 21 October 2010

ARC giveaway

My publisher just let me know I am getting more ARCs than expected. As a result, I have put two of the extras on Goodreads as a giveway.

These are uncorrected proofs from a digital press, and have placeholder covers, so they don't entirely represent the finished item. On the other hand, if you are following VHFstr1, they are your chance to avoid waiting until December to read the rest.

Reviews are not mandantory, but definitely appreciated.

Here's the details:

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Fire Season (Paperback) by V.H. Folland

Fire Season

by V.H. Folland

Giveaway ends November 01, 2010.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

ARC Copies recieved!

This morning brought a very welcome package: my first Arc copies.

To get the issues out of the way first: There are a few issues with the positioning which the publisher wants to adjust, and a sheet of final corrections they want made to the manuscript after seeing it laid out in the proof. They are digital proofs for the printrun, with place holder covers and the almost too-white pages from a digital press.

None of this changes the fact they are also the first copies of my book in print, and if I may say so they look really good.

I've also got a few extra copies in the post from layout testing. Since the publisher no longer needed them I've snaffled them for PR, and possibly early reviews.

It seems very final in a way. Even if the books are hardly the finished product, looking at layouts from a digital proof and having something you can hold in your hand, really does drive it home. My book is coming out.

I just hope the reviewers like it.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Quick Amazon Update

The book's back up on Amazon, so search for the ISBN, author surname or title (sorted by publication date) and you can see it again.

However I will admit to spending a very worried evening.

My attempt at publicity materials are also underway, including a set of mini-bookmarks that should arrive later this week. The publisher is refining their press release and putting together a media kit.

Monday, 18 October 2010

The Rocky Road to Sales...

Things are currently rather interesting. I'm in the middle of setting up my Amazon Author Central page which will be live in seven days, working on my Goodreads and Authorsden pages and generally trying to tell the world about my book. On Twiends I got a brief VIP feature which increased traffic to my Fire season lens significantly.

The publisher spoke to Nielsen and the release date issue has been corrected. I will confirm here it is the 1st December 2010, not 1st November.

Perhaps most worrying of all, in two days I should receive an ARC copy of my book for promotional purposes. It has a placeholder cover, but the internal text should be properly laid out.

Things were looking good.

This of course is when Amazon crashed this afternoon and lost my book page. The page still exists but currently without the direct URL you can't find it as it isn't on the search, making promotion rather difficult. Things don't ever seem to be easy with this book, but then nothing worthwhile ever is. If I keep repeating that I might believe it, but I can't believe most authors go through all this to get their books out.

Meanwhile I'm back to bothering bloggers for reviews. If anyone would like an ARC copy for a review, please leave a comment below and I'll pass it on to the publisher.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Twitter Story - Week 9

"Yep. Matt heard there was a plane up for sale, and you know what he’s like." Jake sounded rather pleased with himself. "Thought he’d get a gate guardian, and god knows he’s got the hanger space."

"He spent that much on a gate guardian?" Jim sounded incredulous and Jake sniggered.

"And what were you going to do with it? Tour flights?" Jim ignored him, lifting the binoculars to take a closer look. The markings were all still in place, and he knew without a doubt that this was his aircraft - even if he now had to accept it was Matt’s.

"How?" he asked quietly, slightly stunned.

"She arrived this morning. You must've been too busy sulking to notice or you'd have seen her when we drove passed."


The story updates daily at my twitter feed, under hashtag #vhfstr1.

Follow VHFolland on Twitter

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Promotion underway

Since it can now be pre-ordered I'm back to promotion. Less than fifty days left to sell the entire printrun before we print it (just joking).

The trailer is slowly being sent out. I'd deploy it everywhere at once, but to be honest neither my internet nor my patience will stand for waiting on the upload times. There's a new hubpage for extra backlinks, and even a few promotional items for Fire Season up on Zazzle using old digital artwork designs.

I'm shattered already - and it's only Day 49 before launch. Much more to do!

Monday, 11 October 2010


Without yelling, may I just say that as I typed the last update I got news that the book is now available for pre-order.

Fire Season can be preordered from the Foyles website. I am rather chuffed that my little book is available from the largest independant bookstore in the country.

The only problem is the release date is listed as 1st November, not 1st December. The publisher is talking to Neilsen to get that fixed. To be honest, I'm just happy to see it up there. Here's the link:

A pause in promotion

I was slightly doubtful about the title change; after all if you google VH Folland Firestorm I am the first three pages of results. However that happened in four weeks, so with luck I can get the same effect with Fire Season. Unfortunately I can't seriously start promoting until next week.

With just over 50 days to publication and launch, I have been asked to hold off on publicity for a few more days. If I wait, I can include pre-order links in my online material. Since the publisher is setting things up with a partner who sells world wide, I think that it is well worth waiting for.

However to keep people interested, while the publisher gets their pages set up, there's a page now up on Squidoo with everything about the book so far (including the Amazon link).

Sunday, 10 October 2010

On Amazon!

This was set up a couple of days ago, but it takes time for the details to come through. This is why the book is showing as "Out of Stock" instead of "Coming Soon". The important thing is, it's there.

Dates for updates:
  • Cover Image: 16th November
  • Targeted Release: 1st December

Unfortunately Amazon won't allow you to reserve a copy, or tell the publisher if you add it to your wishlist. Alternatives are apparently being looked into, and I'll let you know when I have an update.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Twitter Story - Week 8

Jim shrugged free and turned away from the airfield, reluctant to be reminded of his aircraft, now on its way to the breaker’s yard. The faint hum of a microlite in the distance did nothing to improve his mood.

"So what’s so important?" he asked irritably, and Jake shook his head in exasperation.

"Look, idiot." Jim’s eyes followed Jake’s pointing hand automatically, and his retort died unsaid.He didn’t need binoculars to know the silhouette even at that distance. The grey frame, with its stub nose and the long glider-like wings with their unique propellers was unmistakeable. He gaped for a moment before collecting himself enough to speak.

"Is that -?"


The story updates daily at my twitter feed, under hashtag #vhfstr1.

Follow VHFolland on Twitter

Friday, 8 October 2010

ISBN's registered - promotion underway

Well, the book's been through Neilsen and it now has a ISBN. The e-books are taking slightly longer as they apparently go through "Pubweb". My publisher has previously only allocated ISBNs to print books, so they're sorting out registration, but it all takes time.

On Monday, once the ISBN has propagated through to Neilsen's feed, the publisher will be chasing print distribution. Ideally I'd love to get it in Waterstones and WHSmiths, but I'm a realist and while they work on large scale distribution I'll be begging my local book store owners. At least I'm already a good - read, frequent - customer!

I did mention I'd been in publishing before, just not writing novels. If you do ever end up in this situation, I will say that dropping off a copy of your book, a press pack, and the name of a recognised distributor (particularly running Sale or Return) where they can buy it, makes it a lot more likely a few copies of your book will be picked up than handing across a book, press pack, and your phone number for consignment purchases.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Book trailer beta up!

Live on Youtube for a limited time, and featuring all the changes I got from my first round of feedback.

If you'd like to get a preview of the book trailer, here's the link:

Feedback is, as always, welcome. It is still a beta release.

What's missing for now? ISBN, release date and cover art. A full version with these will be released once the book proofs come through. What it has that I haven't announced yet? The new title. It's amazing how much fuss can be made over such a small change.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Twitter Story - Week 7

"Then try these." Jake handed him a pair of binoculars, all-too-conveniently to hand, and Jim took them. They had obviously been fished out or a cupboard and recently cleaned.

"What've you been setting up?" he asked, suspiciously.

"Go and look," Jake replied. The annoying grin was still there. Realising that he wasn’t going to be left alone to get drunk quietly, Jim gave in.

"Fine. Sooner I get this done, the sooner I can get down to drinking." Jake chuckled, stood up and,gripping Jim’s shoulders, propelled his brother towards the door. Out in front of the house, Jim shrugged free and turned away from the airfield,


The story updates daily at my twitter feed, under hashtag #vhfstr1.

Follow VHFolland on Twitter

Friday, 1 October 2010


I've just been told that my books ISBNs have been filed with Neilsen. This means it is actually going to be coming out. The publisher's started talking to distributors, and I've got details for at least one competition they want to submit it to.

If anyone following the blog is interested in an ARC copy, please let me know!

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Twitter Story - Week 6

"Eighteen effing minutes," Jim muttered sullenly, and his brother grinned back.

"Still older," Jake retorted, leaning against the fridge and blocking Jim from grabbing for another can.

"So why don’t you bugger off and let me get drunk in peace?"

"Because before you get completely hammered, I think you want to have a look at Matt’s place." Jim looked up about to say that he had just lost a plane, the last thing he wanted to do was look at more,and then he saw the look on his brother’s face. Jake was entirely too smug.

"I’m not driving all the way to the other end of the valley," Jim said.


The story updates daily at my twitter feed, under hashtag #vhfstr1.

Follow VHFolland on Twitter

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Publication details

After all the ups and downs the book is coming out. With the contract in place, I find myself very nervous.

In summary the book is being released as:
  • mass market paperback
  • planned R.R.P. £6.99
with a Kindle edition.

The title is under revision, but a new working title has been decided on and cover art is in production. The trailers and teaser trailers will be coming out soon, as will a press release. The publisher is talking to distributors and pre-orders will be available soon - probably with the first teaser trailer.

Bound galleys and electronic ARCs are available - drop me a note if you are interested, either by email or through the blog.

Personally I'm amazed it's coming out, terrified something will go wrong again, and trying very hard to get used to refering to my book as something other than Firestorm. It's an odd adjustment.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Twitter Story - Week 5

Jim glared for a moment as the truth of the comment sunk in, and then slouched in his chair.

"Why are you having a go? I lost the bleeding auction anyway."

"Because I don't want you doing something silly. You know, like spending two years savings on a plane that can’t even fly -"

"Oh shut it!” Jim had had enough. His brother was being eminently reasonable, and somehow that made it worse. "So you’re so much older and more responsible -"

"Yes, which means saving my little brother from being an idiot is in the job description."


The story updates daily at my twitter feed, under hashtag #vhfstr1.

Follow VHFolland on Twitter

Friday, 17 September 2010

Decision time.

For the second time this year I am looking at a publishing contract for the book. This time it's completely transparent: release date, print run size, promotion, distribution, etc. All the details are there.

And I find myself just looking at it. After accepting a release once already, I find myself wondering if there are any catches, any issues not covered by the contract, that are going to spring up. Even worse, I think I've lost confidence in the book.

The downside? No advance, limited book store distribution, a publisher new to the field, and I'd be doing most of my publicity, promotion and marketing myself.

The upside? A print run, better royalties, pre-orders, bookstore distribution, and some marketing support, as well as review copies going out.

I just feel very drained. After all the work to get here, now isn't the time for second thoughts, but I'm having trouble trying to gear myself up to start promoting again after last time. I just keep thinking that something will go wrong.

They have requested four changes to the book to tighten the plot a bit, and on review I can see what they mean. I'm just finding it difficult to put down the new book I was writing and get back into the mood for the first one.

On the other hand, some people never get into print, so on balance I think I'm doing very well.

ETA: It looks like a few things I thought were fixed aren't - like book title. Oh well, as long as it gets into print...

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Twitter Story - Week 4

"Is it capable of carrying a nuclear device, yes or no?" As Jim paused, he pressed. "Well?"

"Yes, but she only dropped lifeboats." Jake raised an eyebrow.

"Which doesn’t answer the question of what you would do with it. You don’t own an airstrip for a start - "

"I’d have begged Matt." Jim admitted.

"And Jill would have laid out completely reasonable hanger fees that you couldn’t afford." Jake pointed out. Matt’s crop sprayer operation was run on a tight budget and Jill, the manager, was not the type to let friendship get in the way of business sense.


The story updates daily at my twitter feed, under hashtag #vhfstr1.

Follow VHFolland on Twitter

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Twitter Story - Week 3

Since he was nearer, Jake grabbed a beer from the fridge and sat down, tossing a can to his maudlin brother.

"Shouldn’t you wait until you’re out of uniform for that?"

"Who’s going to care?" Jim cracked the top of the beer and downed a swig, staring moodily at the floor. Jake chuckled, and his brother looked up and glared. He held his hands up in a soothing gesture.

"Jim, seriously, looking at this from the point of view of a rational person and not an obsessive pilot, what the hell would you do with a defunct nuclear bomber?"

"She's a search and rescue craft, not a nuclear bomber!" Jim's defense was instant, and Jake snorted.


The story updates daily at my twitter feed, under hashtag #vhfstr1.

Follow VHFolland on Twitter

Thursday, 2 September 2010

A quick update

I've sent the synopsis off to a publisher who is currently accepting submissions. Still nothing on the agent front.

On the publicity side, I spent the latter part of the airshow season this year talking to people about the book. There's been enough interest, and business cards exchanged, I'm beginning to sway towards taking up the offer to just print it. After all, it's been professionally edited, and picked up once, so it can't be that bad. I suspect the reason I keep trying for a larger publisher is because I want the security of other people who want it to succeed once the book is out.

After the four-page test, I'm happy they can lay it out professionally. It just depends if I like what they'd put as a cover and what resources I can put into promotion. After many years in media, I'm acutely aware that you can't just throw a book out and expect it to sell.

On the bright side, the daily story seems to be picking up followers - 200 on twitter itself, but also extras on redgage, tumblr and even this blog. And if you're curious about what on earth he was bidding on, keep reading: only one day to go and things become a lot clearer! (#vhfstr1 for anyone not following - or just follow me, since I'm keeping the feed pretty clear for the story.)

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Twitter Story - Week 2

“I didn’t think it would take that long to get home. Didn’t want to talk about it.” Jim wasn’t being quite honest; he didn’t even want to think about it. Jake raised an eyebrow.

"Were you even close?"

"Not a chance. She went for more than my entire backpay."

"Just as well. I don’t know what you were doing bidding in the first place. Why didn’t you try to buy something less life-changing, like a house?" Jake was utterly unsympathetic, and Jim scowled.

"Just sentiment, I guess. I need a drink."


The story updates daily at my twitter feed, under hashtag #vhfstr1.

Follow VHFolland on Twitter

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Everything's up in the air

It is very difficult to give a blog update now, because I can't go into detail until things are signed.

The book was submitted to the connection I mentioned in a previous update, but frankly I am getting impatient. I can hold out for the best deal, or settle for getting it into print and into a position where I can capitalise on the marketing and distribution that has been on hold. The second option is getting very tempting.

My fallback option gives me review copies, distribution, a print run, set release date and pre-orders, (and options on a second book ) so to be honest I wouldn't exactly lose out.

The problem is that I want to get back to writing, not worrying about this sort of thing.

Hope you're enjoying the Twitter story!

Follow VHFolland on Twitter

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Twitter Story - Week 1

"I lost the auction." Jim slung the kitbag down and slumped in a chair. Shaking his head, Jake stepped across and closed the door Jim had left swinging behind him.

"Just as well. What would you have done if you'd won?" he asked, and Jim stared at the floor.

"I dunno. I'd have worked something out. I hate to think of her in the hands of strangers."

"And it took you a week to tell me?" Jake sounded unimpressed.


The story updates daily at my twitter feed, under hashtag #vhfstr1.

Follow VHFolland on Twitter

Friday, 20 August 2010

Decisions, decisions

I have a decision to make. I was going to go with the other publisher I mentioned. However through trade connections they've encountered a mainstream publisher who is currently accepting submissions and may well be interested.

As they put it, if I submit and it doesn't get picked up they will still be here and wanting to publish. If it does, then a publisher who actually works in the right field can do a lot more with it.

The back-up publisher still wants certain spin-off rights to do with their field, and I'd have no problems negotiating with them on that. They would benefit if it was picked up by a large company as it's more exposure for their spin-off.

The problem? Time. It takes months for a publisher to get back with a reply, and I am seriously not sure I want to wait when I have a route to publication open.

So I now currently have review requests, ongoing promotion, distribution channels, and interest in spin-off rights - and still no confirmed publisher.

Monday, 16 August 2010

Twitter story begins

Starting today, a short story will be released through Twitter. It will run for about two months, to end near Halloween. The story will be released at the rate of one tweet per day, with a weekly roundup on Friday afternoons on this blog.

Set a couple of years before the events in Firestorm, the story covers the arrival of one of the main characters in Brooke's Vale.

To follow the story either follow me on Twitter, or look for hashtag #vhtstr1.

And the story starts

The Twitter story stars up today, under hashtag #vhfstr1. It's a short story (cut to half its original length) set some years before Firestorm.

In summary:
  • One tweet per day at 12:00 GMT
  • Over 80 tweets in total
  • A weekly roundup on the blog
  • Starting 16th August and running through to November

It's the first project of this type I have done, and it will be interesting to see how it works. I am very, very nervous, but I think that will get better once it gets to 12:00, the first tweet goes out, and nothing awful happens. My nerves do have a reason - after setting it all up, the Twitter API failed this morning. Hopefully that problem is now fixed.

Two issues that did cause a delay was whether the tweets should be numbered, and if a blog URL should be included with each. Intially I've decided to number the tweets, in case something goes wrong with the schedule. The URL is being added infrequently to the shorter tweets where it won't interfere with the story.

Fingers crossed!

Friday, 13 August 2010

Twitter terror

This is surprising.

I have books in print under pen names. I've had good and bad reviews over the years. I've worked in media and I know about rough audiences. I've been in this business for over ten years. I'm a member of the Society of Authors. My work has a fan club.

So why am I absolutely terrified at the prospect of putting one of my stories up on Twitter?

I keep sitting here, staring at the nicely set up system with all the ordered tweets, and wondering if I should simply delete the lot. Part of the problem is that to get it onto Twitter the story has suffered severe cuts from the full version. Another part is that using Twitter like this is a new format - at least for me.

On the other hand, it's been planned for months and the story has been edited and beta approved. How do you tell the difference between valid concerns and massive pre-release nerves?

And of course, the overwhelming and ever present concern that, if this doesn't go well, it will hurt Firestorm's release.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Twitter story update

So far the revised video trailer has only got good reviews. However, although I would like to release it now, I am waiting until I can add confirmed information about the book, the publisher and a definite release date. Once bitten, twice shy.

The twitter story passed its beta readers and is now undergoing a last check, while I try to work out the best way to split it up so it does not become confusing on twitter. I've also set up weekly roundups that will appear on the blog each Friday. The targeted start date is 16th August, which means it will finish around Halloween.

There are no further updates I can discuss regarding publication at this time.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Trailers and twitter

The trailer got its first revision (thank to ruadh and kia for their feedback on the proboard) and the new version is currently available through Youtube. Drop me a note if you want the link.

The twitter story is now in 82 discrete tweets with a hashtag allocated and space to retweet. I just need my betas to confirm it makes sense in the new format, and I'll start sending it out.

Other than that, there are currently discussions underway with a distributor. They were interested when it was with Bewrite, so rather typically of my wrong-way-round approach first I got a publisher before an agent, and now I have a distributor before I have a publisher!

On the publishing front things are moving along, but I can't say anything more. However if things go as planned, and in publishing they rarely do, August 20th should be a busy day.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Book trailer in final cut

I've just completed the final draft of the first 30 second book trailer, chased up the permissions and made sure all the images, sounds and software are given the correct credits. It is now up on Youtube, but don't go rushing in searching for it, since it's private. Right now I am after views and opinions, and would be grateful for feedback on it. If you would like to help and want access to it, please drop me a note or a PM on the proboards.

Any comments can be shared in the comments here, or on the proboard if you want a more active discussion.

Please don't leave comments on the video. If I have to revise it that involves deleting and reuploading, which would wipe your feedback.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Things coming up

Things coming up about Firestorm:

1) A short story to be released on twitter and through the blogs, from the suggested anthology.

2) A discussion of cover artwork.

3) An announcement about publication. I will say now I have not heard from the mainstream publisher, just so you know it's not them.

4) An announcement about pre-orders.

5) Talks about distribution are underway, and whether the book gets an overseas release or just UK.

Please remember for all of this, no contracts have been signed yet since we are still talking terms and the people on both sides want to get this right first time.

Monday, 26 July 2010

A companion volume

While there is no news on Firestorm, there has been one development I can share. As I mentioned, one of the items in the offing was the possibility of an anthology of short stories.

Over the weekend, this got discussed in some detail. As anthologies rarely draw much attention, the current suggestion is that the anthology will be a POD and eBook release only. It would be a selection of stories set in and around Brooke's Vale, broadening the background of the characters and giving more information on the setting. There is even a title under consideration.

So I am sitting down and penning short stories about my characters. To be honest, it makes me a lot more hopeful that Firestorm will get a good release.

Friday, 23 July 2010

Another reason for Pseudonyms

I've covered the basic reasons for using a pseudonym before (genre confusion, privacy, shelf position), but recently I encountered one I had not considered. I was talking to a professional contact about some work, when he asked what I'd been doing with myself for the last few months.

"I've been working on a book deal," I replied.
"Oh, excellent! You're publishing a book on [professional area of expertise]! Put me down for one."
"No, it was a novel." Even down the telephone, the suddenly screech of brakes and mental reverse was obvious. After a bit of stammering from him, I mercifully changed the subject. And then people wonder why I don't discuss my interests outside work...

Once the work issue was done, we discussed his reaction, why it wasn't unexpected, and he gave permission to blog about it as long as he was not named. The problem is that people in my job aren't supposed to be creative. I've already had one person tell me that there should be no problems with signing a contract that handed over rights to everything I created during the time I was working with company X (inside or outside working hours), because people in my role "didn't create things". That contract remained unsigned.

Professional stereotyping is such an interesting thing to encounter, if you define "interesting" as limiting, irritating, inaccurate and a cause of team conflict. One of the best examples I encountered in one of my consultations was the reaction of a design team when one of the tech support girls had her artwork selected for an exhibition. Having to take most of a department in hand for seething jealousy issues was not enjoyable, and I don't particularly want that attitude aimed at me.

In general however, the pen name is to try to avoid the disbelieving comments: "But you do X! How can you write a novel?"

One word at a time, just like anyone else.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Somewhat down

The post arrived early today, and as expected there was no news. However I also received a note from one of the locations requesting ARCs who are very keen to move ahead with an ARC and a review. Last night I got a message from the Growler (http://www.thegrowler.org.uk) who were interested in a copy and review for their September issue.

This kind of interest, and I am still working on getting a publisher. It is somewhat depressing.

At the moment, unfortunately, everything is still up in the air. I will let you know as and when I receive news.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Acquisitions & editors - an odd irony

Getting through the editor isn't the last stage either. Once an editor likes it, they have to put their case to an acquisitions board which includes sales, marketing, distibution etc. The acquisitions board then decide if the book is worth buying. These boards often meet once or twice a month.

I am trying hard not to remember that my first book got through all the editorial levels with one publisher but was rejected at acquisitions as they did not think they could market it. If I'd known then what I know now - how rare it is for a first novel to get that far - I'd probably have sent it to more than five agents and one publisher. Instead I trunked it, and wrote the one that's now on submission as "Firestorm".

It is rather ironic that my first book failed to get published because of potential lack of demand, and my next lost a deal because of too much...

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Content aggregation online

There are several sites which say they can take all your online content and aggregate it into one profile. I have tried out tumblr which many people swear by, but unfortunately it turned out to be something I would swear at, since it didn't work very well.

I've just gone back to Redgage. It's slightly slower, and doesn't take straight RSS feeds in, but on the other hand I have used it before and I know it works. My new profile is here:
On the book front, there is now a set-up ready to take pre-orders when we know what is happening with publication, and an online/mail order games company willing to put flyers in each of their sales to promote the book. That should help sales whoever publishes it.

Monday, 19 July 2010

Does no response mean No?

This is an odd one. On the one hand you have agents and editors who say that no response means no. On the other there are editors who won't even look at a manuscript until they have been chased the first time. To complicate matters, there are other editors who will dump a manuscript unless you do chase them.

This is the bit where you need an agent who knows what the particular publishing house's rules are, and also when they break them. For example, I had an agent who said that no response in three months means no and then sent me a rejection eight months later.

Without an agent (not for lack of trying) I'm a little lost, but with the end of the four weeks coming up on Friday I need to make a decision. The choice is surprisingly easy, although it might be my professional background talking: if I hear nothing by then, then either by email or phone I'll be asking politely about feedback on Monday.

Since acceptances are usually fast responses, I do suspect this is a no.

Friday, 16 July 2010

Hope for the best - Part 2

There is a problem with my post in part 1. The worst case scenario isn't that the publisher says no, it is that they say nothing.

This could occur if the manuscript or SSAE gets lost in the post, although that's unlikely. I may joke about them, but Royal Mail are usually pretty good.

The more depressing alternative is if the manuscript gets stuck in the slushpile and left unread. For a good assessment of how this could happen, see "The Sobering Story of Myrtle the Manuscript" by Tappan King. It's a good read, not just amusing but also useful for anyone considering writing. However it's a completely nerve-wracking article if you have a manuscript on submission. Be warned.

This worst case scenario comes with the difficulty of politely and delicately chasing an editor about a book, while not doing anything that might make them drop it.

This part of publication in general, waiting on feedback while racked with nerves, is what agents are good at. Since I don't have one, being in the rare position of selling my first novel myself, I'm learning as I go.

However, for prospective authors, it is worth remembering that if I had stopped trying when the agents said no I'd never have landed the first book deal, far less been discussing a second.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Hope for the best - Part 1

As you probably already know, the book is sitting with a publishing house at the moment, and with luck I will hear back later this month about whether they want to publish it. Given that, why all the contingency planning?

Hope for the best, plan for the worst.

The best is if they pick the book up. The worst is if they pass.

If they say yes, then great. The book gets published by people who can make the most of it. My marketing and distribution (trivial compared to what a publishing hosue can do) are simply there as a base that they can take over or integrate with their own contacts.

If they say no, then the book is adrift. If I haven't planned ahead, then all the marketing and distribution I set up is lost. At that point, final galley or not, the book simply becomes another unpublished manuscript doing the rounds. Having got this close to seeing print, that seems like a waste, so I am planning for contingencies.

This doesn't mean I'm not hoping for the best.

(Continues Tomorrow in Part Two)

Monday, 12 July 2010

Why so nervous?

I had an interesting chat last night about getting published, from a friend trying to give me a pep talk. After all, he said, since the manuscript's already been through this once, why be so nervous? Surely it can make its way through the slush again, and at least we already know it is publishable.

Well, I definitely have good reason to be nervous, because the answer to the second question is both yes and no.

There is a brilliant analysis of the slushpile and what it takes to get out of it on Slushkiller by Teresa Nielson Hayden (scroll down to 3. The Context of Rejection)

Going through her fourteen point list, I don't need to worry about items one to ten (covering illiteracy, plagarism, and authors with "problems") which are the reasons for 95-99% of slush rejections.

This leaves three more reasons for rejection before reaching point 14 "Buy this book". All three are to do with the preferences of the publishing house. No matter how good the book is, if it isn't what they are looking for, they may not pick it up. Just because one publisher liked my work, it does not guarantee another publishing house will.

Editorial taste is the one thing that it all hinges on. Well, that and Royal Mail...

Friday, 9 July 2010

Publishing options

After getting a few questions on chat about how I intend to proceed, I will cover the details here.

The full manuscript is currently with a publishing house. If they pick the book up then release options and marketing will obviously change; and improve a great deal since they have significantly more options.

However, if they don't and I end up going with the local imprint, here are the pencilled in details (obviously subject to change):
  • The book will be released in print and ebook formats, including Kindle, with a short-run printing rather than purely POD.
  • Pre-orders will be taken online through established ecommerce partnerships.
  • The release would be late Q3 prior to christmas, which gives a few months to release ARCs and galleys, and build buzz.
As mentioned, if I go with them I'd be doing a lot of the work myself as it isn't their usual area. Since they are only offering this option as fans of my previous work (thank you very much, on bended knee, gentlemen), none of this will be started until we hear back from the mainstream publishing house.

Obviously a mainstream publisher could do much more with the novel, due to experience, better distribution links and superior marketing.

To be honest, I'm not sure if the fallback option is calming my nerves or making them worse. I know that I have a lot of hard work coming up very soon, but I don't know the exact nature of it, how much support I can expect, or even whether I can actually sell a novel using existing connections.

Fingers crossed. They got it on June 25th, so just over two weeks before I hear back.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Board Migration

After an interesting technical issue with nabble, I have moved the forum to Proboards. The new forum is at:
Unfortunately content and threads were lost due to the glitch. I have migrated the remaining content, but if you have a question or comment that has not made it across, please visit the new boards and repost.

The nabble forum will be deleted shortly to avoid confusion or misuse.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

A brief interview

I've just done a brief interview at whohub:
I'm also in the middle of an interview for solelyfictional.org about my self published writing from the nineties. I'm not sure how relevant my experiences back then (photocopiers and combbinders) still are in the age of Lulu and Createspace, but it is part of a series. Comparing notes with other writers is always interesting.

The current situation

Because things have moved very fast, I was looking back through the blog and realised this is the one place where I haven't covered what happened. To clarify the timeline of events, here is a quick summary:

I got a book deal from Bewrite at end of April/start of May
Firestorm went through the editing process to final galley in May and June.
I started marketing in June, getting requests for ARCs and galleys.
June 22nd the book was released by Bewrite, with the suggestion I should find a full print publisher, not P.O.D.
June 23rd Discussions occurred with a mainstream publishing house, resulting in a request for the full manuscript.
June 24th The manuscript was sent out, with a suggested response in four weeks.

Rather than put all my eggs in one basket, I also looked into self-publishing but found it easier to take advantage of an imprint that publishes some of my existing work in a different field. As this involves begging a favour from a friend to publish something well outside their field, it really is a last resort. It does mean that, one way or another, Firestorm will see print.

The reason for the summary is that most of this was listed on the forum, and due to an interesting technical glitch on nabble, we will be switching that to a new system, possibly proboards.

Monday, 5 July 2010

An anthology and still waiting.

Three weeks to wait until I hear back from the publisher, and not much else I can do on the novel itself until then.

Meanwhile I've started getting my short stories into an anthology. If I end up self publishing, I'll give it a limited release through the website on POD and e-book to accompany the novel. Done that way it won't cost very much, and it's a useful way to boost the novel.

However, this won't be released for a few weeks yet, since I've got to sort out cover art and either beg a favour from an artist or dive into iStockPhoto for raw materials. I'm also holding off for three weeks as I'm not sure whether releasing it would affect whether the publisher would be willing to pick up Firestorm.

Monday, 28 June 2010

Airshow and the update

I didn't attend Biggin Hill Airshow due to the travel warnings and the temperature. Instead I've been doing the basic administration work: producing a master list of all promotion and planned promotion, costing up self publishing in case it becames necessary, and tidying up some of the online sites.

Other than that, I've been trying to get some more written on my next project. It's simply difficult to know what to do when everything about this book is currently up in the air. I don't want to launch anything like a book trailer or the short stories when I don't know who is releasing the book and when. Until then, things are on hold on promotion while I work like mad on the less interesting parts like logistics.

I should have a definite answer in four weeks.

Friday, 25 June 2010

Biggin Hill airshow, publishers and a preorder possibility

Well, since last Friday, I've visited a museum, arranged an interview, worked on a book deal, lost a book deal, got another publisher interested, arranged a fallback...

And this weekend is the Biggin Hill Airshow.

Now I was planning to go along and flyer it, link up with a few acquaintances, push the book mercilessly on them and possibly get bought drinks for actually getting the deal. And, of course, come away with a few preorders and several interested book sellers.

Instead I'm wondering if I really want to go. I can't exactly flyer without a publisher or release date confirmed. It's not easy to get to from where I am and, I will be honest, I actually prefer open airshows like Bournemouth where there is a lot more room for the aircraft to perform. On the other hand, if I turn up and discuss what has gone on this week, I will definitely be bought drinks.

In some ways it is slightly disappointing, as it is unlikely the book will be picked up in time to take advantage of this year's flying season, but on the other hand if my limited online publicity was already causing review and demand issues, promoting at airshows would have caused severe problems. Bournemouth and Eastbourne clear over a million visitors, all aviation mad.

I also have a company willing to act as distributor and reserve review copies for $3/£2 through paypal - pay the rest when the book comes out. Since this would work regardless of who publishes it I am actually tempted to take them up on it.

Any opinions?

ETA: Who am I kidding? It's Biggin Hill, there are too many nice aircraft to stay away, so I'll be there on one of the days if at all possible. It is a shame the Vulcan won't make this year.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Not good news

This morning Firestorm was officially released by Bewrite, for a reason that I honestly never expected to hear from a publisher. They have returned the rights free and clear so I can find someone who can exploit my marketing more effectively.

However this also leaves me trying to find a way to get the book published by the end of the year, preferably by someone who can take advantage of my ability to get things on shelves - and then sold off them!

I have one option already available, an offer from someone I've worked with before. Unfortunately as fiction and novels are completely outside that publisher's normal remit, they've agreed I should try to find a specialist first. As a result I am now busy trying to find another publisher prepared to take on an orphaned work with a lot of PR underway and pre-orders already coming in.

However timescales are short. If I can't find something by the end of the week I'll be going with the first option since they want to move quickly to exploit the marketing I've already done. Either way however, Firestorm will see print.

Please wish me luck. Finding an agent or publisher in less than a week is almost unheard of.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Temporary hiatus

Hopefully only for a couple of days while I sort things out.

Right now, I need a drink.

Gatwick Aviation Museum Open Day

We got to Gatwick Aviation Museum, and had a pleasant day looking round.

Not only do they have one of the only live Shackletons in the world, but their Buccaneer is now runnable. Sadly no Shackleton engine runs are currently planned because of the cost - starting at £600-£800 and going up depending on maintenance requirements.

Several of the aircraft are newly painted, but the weather is slowly taking its toll on them. News from the Museum is that they are putting in for planning permission to replace the temporary buildings and grass site with a hanger, which would provide the aircraft being restored (and the people working on them) with some protection from the elements.

Another notable addition was some of the owner's photographs. He had some beautiful photographs of the Gatwick Airport frozen while the volcanic ash limited flights, with row upon row of stationery planes.

A small and unadvertised gem, this museum really is a must-see for anyone really interested in classic aircraft or aircraft restoration.

Museum Links

Suggestion: zoom in three times and let the image clear:

View Larger Map

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Themes and websites

I've spent the day doing a bit of research on Arts Council Grants, just in case I can get some help with researching my next book.

I've also got a theme for the actual website, since the google site I am using at the moment is not particularly attractive. Ironically, the URL is also not exactly search engine friendly. There's now a news list set up, so if you are interested in the book, you can sign up to get press releases, updates and more. Hopefully the full website will be up by the end of the week.

Unfortunately there is no word on preorders, although I have asked if Bewrite can clarify the launch date. Also, one of my old distributors from self-publishing may be interested in taking a few copies, which is always good news.

There's an Open Day at Gatwick Aviation Museum tomorrow, which I might attend. Due to an accident however it will depend on whether hobbling or walking is the order of the day...

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Cover artwork

I just got an email asking about the cover and any restrictions, which is a problem. I'd like to avoid the standard, cliched, and usually inaccurate, "people running away with big aircraft overhead and flames in background" approach. Other than that I'm really not sure.

While I can supply reference shots and videos, deciding what to create from them isn't my strong point. I'm alright with digital stills and video work, but I am definitely not an artist.

So, a picture of the airfield? An overhead shot of the Vale? I really don't know. Anyone with ideas, please let me know.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Still working on promotion

This blog should hopefully be appearing on Technorati shortly. Meanwhile I'm creating a list of local press, review sites and author profile sites, so that once the book is up, I'll have it ready.

Even if it's the same profile on each, it's all extra backlinks and publicity.

If anyone is interested I could put this site list up on Google docs and make it shareable.


The current situation

The back cover blurb has now been added to all the various web pages I have set up to promote the book. Between feeds, pages and forums the current situation is:
  • 69 or so search results
  • 4 or 5 dedicated websites
  • Twitter (oddly the twitter account has only five followers but I keep running into my tweets in syndication)
  • Two pre-orders.

Needless to say, the last one makes me very happy, since I don't have a release date yet.

The only problem I have is that the promo work is cutting into my writing time. I've got my next book half-written, and can't find time to finish it off!

Also, Bewrite just launched Liza Granville's "The Tor". All the best to Liza. This is her third book with Bewrite, but I'd imagine you still get just as nervous as you do about the first.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Endorsements and promotion

This morning I gingerly dipped my toe into the murky world of endorsements. This largely involved going through my address book and looking out anyone still involved with aircraft, and then trying to write something that might persuade them to endorse my book.

Yes, in the US and Canada these people may not be names in their own right, but the fact they've got the word "Air" "Aeroplane" or "Aviation" in their job title and that they (fingers crossed) liked the book enough to say so on the cover, might help sales in those areas. It would certainly help in the UK. However this does leave me to see if the publisher is prepared to give me permission to send out full bound manuscripts for their reading pleasure.

On the downside, after my last encounter with duelling experts it does lead me to wonder if I'll get them back covered in red pen and contradictory advice.

On the upside, I've already had two preorders based on the blurb I wrote for the back cover. It's now been added to:
Why not have a read?

Saturday, 12 June 2010

And a final goes across

Having had it sanity checked, spell checked, proofed and hopefully honed to near completion, the manuscript is now back with the editor.

I am, not surprisingly, extremely nervous. To kill the nerves, I've been busy with yet more promotion, getting the blog linked to new sites and trying to make sure the RSS feeds are all connected. Hopefully most of this is now done - as you can see from the growing list of badges on the right hand side of the blog.

As long as I can get this done correctly now, it should make getting word out about the book a lot easier when the time comes.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

International issues

The joys of conflicting laws: on what should be the final edit I find out something about the US that means a plot point is actually illegal over there, while in three other countries it is standard practice.

Fortunately it is easily fixed to make it international, so it is not a showstopper just extremely irritating. At the current stage I will admit I am being pedantic, but I would like to reach the widest possible audience.

However for any later books, I will probably try to stick to one country and a definite location - it's easier than balancing multiple laws!

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Promotion and proofing

Today has been an interesting mix of editing, spell-checking and promotion work.

I've finished a first look through on the manuscript, highlighted areas of concern, corrected the spelling errors that I found, and then switched to promotion work since I was having trouble focusing on the pages.

Things have moved rather quickly on the marketing front. There is now a site up at vhfolland.co.uk. It's bare bones at the moment, but does have a forum for interaction. Two teasers and a book trailer are now ready at my end, although unreleased. I'm not sure what the publisher intends on this front, but I thought I'd make sure there was something available.

Yesterday if you googled VH Folland you got a few links to Folland Gnat fighters with that registration. Today, I'm on the front page of search results, so I think the work is beginning to pay off. Now I need to manage the same with "adventure author" as the keyword, but until the book is out that will be a challenge.

All those years consulting in information, engineering, security, media and ecommerce have come in surprisingly useful. The first three gave me something to write about. The last two are helping me let people know that I've written it.

Monday, 7 June 2010

Is a Publication date approaching?

According to the editor, if we agree this version it will go out. Good news, but unfortunately this is where first novel nerves become a problem. I'm doing a final proof and re-read to make sure it is in the best possible shape before release.

Catching two typos that have survived the rounds of re-reads is not unexpected. However, sentences and scenes that have been in since the first version suddenly no longer make sense to me. I find myself second-guessing sentences as simple as "Hello." and wondering 'who said that?' or 'why does that happen?' about the most trivial items, while redoing research that I did for the very first draft.

The problem is that with non-fiction the problem of artistic licence does not arise as everything is factual and cited. With fiction you have to decide what facts to leave out or gloss over, because essential as it is, it would bore or distract the reader. With my other fiction work, it has largely been giving directions for others to interpret, and when I have occassionally self-published the buck begins and ends with me. With this book, there is a publisher prepared to trust my judgement and put their funds and effort behind it, and for some reason having other people relying on my untried skill as a novelist worries me. At least I know that they think the story is good, or it would never have got this far.

Unfortunately this does not particularly help with nerves, and a sudden and unexpected lack of confidence. When you find yourself thinking that you should take a bound galley to the people who helped with research to check if they really want their name on it (with thanks), that is a genuine confidence crisis. Fortunately it can be overcome by common sense.

What has thrown me is that I have been working towards this for years now, and suddenly it seems to be happening very, very, quickly. When you've been told the editorial process should take 6-8 months and instead it takes 6-8 weeks, things seem to be moving incredibly fast.

On the internationalisation front I have given up trying to make it perfect. Instead there is one country on the earth (three at a pinch) where professionals will read it and, hopefully, nod. Elsewhere, the labyrinth of differing laws and procedures will almost certainly trip it up for them. However, the book is now at a point where the layman located anywhere should read and enjoy it - and they make up a much larger share of the audience.

And now I need to stop blogging and get back to editing. Wish me luck.

And a second round of edits begins

I received the manuscript back this morning. The editor is apparently happy with it. The problem is that I am not.

The book was originally written to be true to one particular country's laws and regulations. The themes could fit a number of others, so I widened the scope and made it less specific. Unfortunately making it fit an international audience causes a number of conflicts between varying laws and practices worldwide. While a layman can enjoy the story, some of these may take a reader who works in the field out of the book since there is no longer anything to tell them it isn't set in their country.

The issue is whether to let it go out now as a good story, or whether to continue to work on refining the internationalisation to make it accurate to as many countries as possible.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Marketing and publicity

It seems early, since the book is still being edited, but promotion work is already underway. Once the book is released, promotion and publicity has a hard deadline as a new release becomes yesterday's news very quickly. Although the publisher does the marketing and promotion, any additional work the author can provide can only help; after all if no one knows about your book, how can they know if they want to buy it?

My efforts are already taking effect. This blog is one of the more obvious, as is the online presence I am building. Book trailers and videos are under discussion, and the first mention of a cover was made recently which caused my ears to prick up.

I know how the book reads, but I can't wait to see how it looks.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Second edit in process

The manuscript has returned to the editor after the first round of edits were completed.

One of the interesting things about writing adventure is the detail needed - readers who will accept unlikely or illegal actions by characters within the plot will get taken out of the story if a door opens the wrong way.

Friday, 28 May 2010

Firestorm - an aviation adventure

Firestorm is a new aviation adventure due out from Bewrite Books Canada in the near future.

My debut novel, the story focuses on a small airstrip caught in a wildfire and the operation to extinguish it with the scant resources available to them.