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 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.