Tag Archives: reaching readers

Pros and Cons of Self Publishing

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This article is based on my experience writing and self-publishing two titles to date. My research cuts across many sources: published books, online learning, social media groups, verbal sharing of experiences and lessons learned at the coal face. It is my intention to ‘tell it  how it is’ and of course this is my perception to date.

Pros:
1)      You have complete control

You can choose what you write, how you package, how you market. Everything. And you can retain all your rights, provided you are wise to not signing them away to a vanity publisher or service company along the way. You don’t need to, so don’t. Read every letter of every agreement and if it looks ‘bad’ for your interests find a better route to market. Self publishing means that you own all of your book rights, that’s the deal. If you decide to sell some of them, make sure you take legal advice and receive payment.

2)      You can sell your own product in the market

No one can stop you selling your works directly to the public. For example, if your ‘Memoirs of a Frog Prince’ is complete, you can publish pretty much everywhere via Amazon, Kobo, Smashwords etc. without anyone else approving your work. You can also publish for relatively little outlay in e-book and print. (But that does not mean you will necessarily sell many copies, most titles sell less than 100 ever).

3)      You can sell product to readers (almost) directly

It is possible to sell product from your own website, but you will probably reach a far greater audience via Amazon, Kobo, Smashwords etc. These platforms will take a cut, but that cut is far less than a traditional publisher would take if you were signed-up. (However, your book would be likely to reach far more sales outlets and territories in print with a good deal at a good traditional publisher).

4)      It is possible to succeed

If your work is good enough and you work hard enough to find your audience, you could succeed all by yourself. However, not all books will be good enough and not all reader audiences can be found online. The proportion of ‘winners’ in this game is relatively small. You will need luck, a strong sequence of products and a lot of hard work to succeed commercially.

Before you write I suggest studying BookBub’s advertising rate chart for several days. See it here: http://www.bookbub.com/advertise/pricing.php

I wish I had seen it a lot earlier. Basically, this is as close as you’ll get to understanding the real potential market for your books, pro-rata. Of course the total world market is bigger than this, but the proportions are valid and representative for the UK and US markets. For example, you may wish to compete in a more widely read e-book genre than ‘Teen and Young Adult’ if you are just starting out. (I wish I had).

5)      You can achieve commercial success without the gatekeepers

The definition of ‘success’ is probably a case by case matter by writer and genre. Certainly, there are (some) professional self-published writers who make a decent living from writing books. They tend to be writers of multiple books for adult genres. They tend to be very hard working and strong minded, as well as good, solid writers.

For many writers, self-published (or indeed traditionally published) books are likely to be an additional source of income rather than a primary source, at least for the early part of their careers. And this is not unusual historically. Many famous writers held substantial jobs while writing their major works. J.R.R. Tolkien, and C.S. Lewis being two notable examples.

Cons:

1)      It is all down to you

The flip-side of control is that you have to do it all yourself. Or you need to find people you can pay who can assist you. Editors, cover artists, e-book designers and print book designers being essential services you will need. Most of your competitors will be using professional help as well, so be aware. You are all competing for repeat readers!

You also need to learn as much about online book marketing and promotion as you do about how to write a quality book. Omit this step at your peril. If you hope to sell in volume, you need to know how to oil the gears of your own selling machine. And that learning continues for years…

2)      Big companies will block you

It is a fact of the world we live in that big businesses will block out smaller businesses until the start-ups somehow ‘breakthrough’. At which point, they will consider buying them out, if they can. Sorry to kill off the romance, but you are basically selling a product which the world does not  want to know about until it sells a lot of units. Yes, it is a catch-22. So to slay some more dreams in the bud while I’m on a roll:

  • Chain stores will resist all attempts by you to stock your books in preference for their deals with established publishers and authors. (Independents are still an option.)
  • Libraries will resist attempts by you to stock more than a handful of ‘local books’ in their county.
  • Online libraries will refer you to their partner – probably Overdrive – who will refuse to deal with you directly and will refer you to an ‘aggregator’ such as Smashwords.
  • Bookbub will refuse to take your advertising unless you meet their criteria or are very fortunate. (They won’t elaborate on why) This is because they have plenty of other paying customers for their advertising space and can afford to pick and choose their customers (lucky them).
  • Agents will send you standard rejection letters (or emails) unless you are incredibly diligent and lucky. Because they have plenty of other books to sell. By the way ‘Not suitable for our list’ means ‘we don’t think we can (or want to) sell your book’ . It’s a sugar coated ‘no way’. (And many of them also rejected J.K. Rowling – so what do they know?)
  • Publishing companies will likewise reject your work, unless you are incredibly diligent and lucky. Because they also have plenty of other books to sell. And they listen mostly to Agents.
  • Publications will blank your attempts to request reviews in print or online. Because they have plenty of other published books to review and are (probably) paid in kind for such reviews. (It’s easily done in this world).
  • If you have personal contacts in any of the above use them!!!!!!!  (And then share them with me please)

3)      You will have to give away and heavily discount your product

Because everyone else does. Therefore you will end up giving away hundreds or thousands of units in the hope of picking up ‘visibility’ on Amazon and climbing sales charts. The precise details of ‘why’ vary with the manner in which Amazon compile their sales charts. However, the premise is simple – your work is unknown and will remain so until it appears on some ‘best selling’ lists. If it is seen and reviewed well, people will buy it. To achieve that push you will need to give away some copies and discount some copies. (Ouch!)

You will also have to provide an incentive for people to subscribe to your newsletters. A discounted or free book being an appropriate ‘gift’.  Likewise to gain those illusive online reviews, readers and bloggers will expect free books in exchange for their time and (hopefully) their kind words.

4)      It is also possible to fail commercially

You may succeed in writing a great book, your best ever book etc. However, commercial failure is entirely possible. Even if you learn and work hard at marketing and promotion, it is not a certainty that enough people will buy your books to make you more than 100 sales. Life is not fair, there are no guarantees and it does hurt. Sorry, but that is the truth.

It is also possible that you may not be cut out to be a writer in a commercial sense. That is not to say that you have ‘failed’ as such. No. Simply, that you will need to have other income available to live on while you write for your own pleasure or for other goals. At some point, a competition win or a big name review could change your fortunes as an author, but until that time….

Consider this: A writer produces a quality book that is well presented and does not fit easily into an established genre. They try all the regular routes to self-publish and promote. However, what they may not realise (ever) is that their work might be an acquired taste or a niche work. That is not to say that their writing lacks merit. It simply means that – like the vast majority of books – it will sell in trickles rather than floods, because that book’s market is relatively difficult to find or is quite small.

Or this: A writer markets their work to the hilt and writes for a genre that sells well. They produce a few books, promote them well etc. What they may not realise (ever) is that their work basically ‘sucks’. It falls short of the standards their potential readers require to pass on a recommendation. This may be incredibly tough to accept, but it happens. And no one will tell you for fear of causing offence. (You may not believe them anyway). On the plus side you can always improve! And in time, you will recognise on reading back your own work how good it really is. Meantime, keep up the day job!

Luck, hard work and persistence remain key factors for any ‘overnight success’ and writing is no different. (I’m very much at this stage right now).

As an informed guess, you will need at least three titles to make a serious impact and probably four. The first will likely fail, but you will learn from it. The next two will be better quality and you will be better placed to promote them. By the third you have enough product to ‘sacrifice’ to giveaways and heavy discounts. And you will gain in cross-sales with your other titles. Plus, you will have built a name within your reader population. Blog followers, subscriber lists, twitter followers etc. all add up and provide better chances for you to directly promote your books to interested readers.

5)      You will still need to negotiate with ‘gatekeepers’

It would be great to think that ‘gatekeepers’ with approved ‘lists’ will go away when you self-publish. (Agents, Publishers and PR people run a ‘list’ of work they represent or are trying to sell for). Unfortunately the ‘gatekeepers’ won’t go away, instead they morph and change.

To succeed as a self-published author you will still need endorsements and acceptance for your work from a number of people. Not all of who will be as open minded to the merit of your work as you are. These include:

  • Book bloggers – generally they want genre and quality consistent with their values and interests. (Vampire bloggers are not ‘into’ sci-fi for example)
  • Book advertisers – ditto with their audience goals and their income models.
  • Amazon – can (in theory) reject/take down works which have reader complaints against them. It may be rare, but it can happen.
  • Customer book reviewers – need an angle to want to like your work. It is not a level playing field (sorry) An ‘okay read’ will not usually result in a review. A high profile book will attract far more sales and therefore far more reviews. Not all of them good I hasten to add.
  • Your first readers – will obviously judge your work against their own likes and dislikes
  • Your social media contacts – will generally want to associate more with ‘rising stars’ than ‘unknowns’
  • Your potential ‘fans’ – by definition will like the work that ticks their boxes. If they are ‘your’  fans you will want to look after them. Nurture them. Hug them even.

In conclusion, while there is no one recipe for success in an ever-changing world of book publishing (thank goodness), there are some truisms:

  • The winners take almost all of the cake – see the published book sales figures for any given year
  • The harder you work, the luckier you will become
  • Success breeds success – fiction books (like pop music) is a very polarised market with a very ‘long tail’ of low volume selling titles.
  • Successful titles come from the most popular genres – which is de facto a statistical certainty and relates also to demographics.

Good luck and happy writing

David Jarrett

www.SeanYeager.com

Sean Yeager and the DNA Thief Cover, available now at Amazon, Kobo

Sean Yeager and the DNA Thief available now at Amazon, Kobo

Sean Yeager Hunters Hunted. Available now at Amazon, Kobo etc
Sean Yeager Hunters Hunted. Available now at Amazon, Kobo etc

Self publishers – how to reach your future readers…… tips and learnings

Hi,

I thought I would share a few learnings before I start taking what I have picked up for granted. After many hours I’ve learned one thing more than anything – authors need to keep learning and connecting with their readers and peers. Because self-publishing is a constantly evolving enterprise and world.

How to reach an audience online? Partly it’s about luck, mostly it is about toil and being interesting for your audience.

Here in no set order are some tips. I hope you find them useful.

1) Set-up your own website with your own branding and content relevant to your books. Cross-link your online presence in all directions with your website as the hub. Brand your website and link to reviews, sales points, samples and everything else you can think of.

2) Make absolutely certain that your books are as good as you think they are AND as good as they can be. Find some critical readers and correct ALL the typos, mistakes and rubbish parts. Polish, polish, polish. IF the feedback is poor or ‘iffy’ STOP. Re-write your book until it shines under all lights. If you cringe when you read back a section, it is because it is not good enough, YET.  Or it might need to be cut out completely……

NOTE: Omit this step at your peril. Bad reviews can not be deleted later when you attract a level of interest. If your book(s) suck paying customers really will tell you so….. and in so doing tell the whole world. Plus you could spend a lot of hours promoting yourself and your work with a relatively poor product to sell. And that will ultimately prove painful.

3) Join a group or two of like minded self-publishers. I recommend the Alliance of Independent Authors. This will help you to stay in touch with developments, meet helpful people and ultimately keep you relatively sane. And contribute what you can in return as well – it’s good for the soul.

4) Set-up and use Twitter, being authentic, interesting and book / fiction centric in the main. Your aim is to connect with people who can help you, read your work and people you can help in return – by entertaining them with great books or sharing learnings.

If you use Twitter automation tools be aware that Twitter could suspend your account. So be careful and as low key initially as you can be. I do not recommend buying followers or for that matter book reviews.

5) Set-up and use Facebook. Create a Facebook page for your books. Upload interesting content and cross link to everywhere. Friend authors, readers, book clubs and anyone you reasonably ‘know’ or share an interest with. Avoid complete strangers and people peddling non-book stuff.

6) Set-up and use Goodreads. Become an author and ‘claim’ your books. Use the groups to make connections. If you have print copies, create ‘giveaways’ over a 2 to 3 month period. Use a ‘pull’ model to attract and invite interest. Do not chase or hassle on Goodreads, they don’t like it! They could bar you.

7) Set-up and use Librarything. Load your books etc. Use your Bio (that you created way back for your website) and run e-book or print giveaways.

8) Set-up and start writing a blog. Use it as your own lessons learned log and a way of talking about your journey. It’s your blog so experiment with the style you prefer. Do you want to be a book / writing tips consultant? Or maybe a reviewer / blogger? Or perhaps a commentator on a particle genre of media that ties in with your books? Your blog. Your call.

9) Keep writing your books. All the above is pretty much useless until you have written your next and subsequent books. Why? Because it will take you time to do and you need multiple titles to cross-sell to your audience. Satisfied customers will ask – ‘when can I read the next one?’

10) Commercials matter. Price appropriately and DO NOT give away too many books. You are a business and you do not want to promote yourself as a ‘free writer’ who values their work as only good enough to give away. Possibly run promos for limited periods across titles, possibly have a sacrificial promo title that will always be free. Remember basic maths – making one thousand bucks is a whole lot easier if you are charging 2.99 than if you are charging nothing or 99 pennies. Remember, the big indie authors usually have lots of titles and a huge audience. You don’t. Yet.

11) Monitor your SEO and presence online by regular Google and Bing searches. Check what sites are moving up the rankings and promoting your work. Your work will still have to sell itself ultimately, but your page rankings matter if you want to attract browsers. You will also have to take a realistic look at your book market and Google Adwords analysis of terms ‘searched for’ can be a sobering exercise. Are people really looking for funny books about duodenal ulcers and the family consequences? That’s not a dig, but you do need to be realistic about your market expectations. Not every genre sells and that’s a reality.

12) Treat all your online contacts (messages, posts, responses, emails) in a consistently jovial and constructive manner. Never enter a slanging match EVER online. Because it will not go away, it will be recorded for a long, long time. Ignore bad reviews; block inappropriate followers and comments; delete what you have control over if it is plain abusive. HOWEVER – leave constructive comments alone and learn from them.

13) Write this out and repeat it daily. ‘I will learn more from a constructive and harsh critic of my work than I ever will from my friends’.

It’s true. You will. It will hurt initially, but you have to learn how to open your mind to the reality that no one’s work is perfect. Everyone can improve how they write, how they plot, what they write about etc etc. Even the pros. Check out any successful book’s reviews on Amazon to see the array of thoughts if you don’t believe me.

And of course you can select which parts of the feedback to action. Often people will give conflicting suggestions, so look for the patterns. Consider whether they have a point. (That is after you’ve (privately and offline) fumed and vented your initial reaction).

14) Last and by no means least – be yourself across all sites, media and in the real world. Have fun and consider all the new skills you’re learning as positives. In theory, you could now promote almost anything online. You will also have to learn firm time management and how to stay healthy – another time perhaps for those topics.

Good luck

David Jarrett

Sean Yeager Adventures

Sean Yeager Hunters Hunted

Sean Yeager Hunters Hunted

So how on earth do you reach new readers with social media?

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Welcome,

Today’s big question is an ongoing experiment in social media and content promotion. Yep, you guessed right first time, I’ve no clue how you reach anyone including my own family on social media. By ‘reach’ I mean to make a meaningful connection with as opposed to randomly spam or annoy. ‘Reach’ as in – interest them enough to go to your website, read a sample of your book and perhaps consider a purchase. Because they want to, not because of a guilt trip, pity purchase or a clever bit of key word marketing and coding.

So here’s my run down so far in relation to my experiences promoting Sean Yeager Adventures Admittedly on a zero budget and now with two entertaining books published. And let me tell you – the writing was the easy part, the reviewing was horrible but way more productive than attempting ‘social media connections’. As I joked recently, ‘I could sell more books standing next to a motorway than via social media’.  And it’s not about some mental block thing or lack of trying – there is a giant, electronic, elephant in the room.

Amazon – virtually useless, search engines optimised for top sellers only. It’s a shop for the top, period. You’ll be dead before someone finds your book or Kindle board note. And then it’ll be a mistaken browser looking for someone else. Catch-22 is – they don’t know you, so they won’t look for you. Your book may as well be buried 300 feet beneath the ocean,

KDS Free days – virtually useless. So you give away free books, then what? Sales spike and all is well? Dream on. It might work for big name authors with tens of books in their canon, for the rest of us I doubt it is of any use at all. It also devalues the writing and the book. Also a great way for pirates to obtain content without doing anything remotely clever.

Twitter – virtually useless, an echo chamber of people selling stuff to other complete strangers who are selling stuff to complete strangers. Might work for ‘real’ celebrities, if we can glean who they are online these days. Could be their cat for all we know. More likely an impostor or an intern with a crush.

Facebook – virtually useless, a cage of rules for not bothering people and then a non-stop stream of content from people who like to transmit. Always best when you have no idea what  on earth the original event or question was – all you see is a response and some pictures. Right, for light relief of the comedy kind it’s okay, that’s all I seem to see. Jokes, viral images and comments. The spam you learn to look through and ignore. And why wouldn’t you?

Facebook has some great info groups online. Promotion – forget it.

Yes Facebook do advertising, unfortunately they do a really bad job of explaining to me why I should pay a bean for it. Free trials, stats, breakdowns – it’s not happening for me and yes of course I’ve a zero budget anyhow. Social networking and connecting? Not any more, you could throw some money into the void and pray. Now that’s a sound business investment decision right? Not on my planet.

Linked-In – fine for articles and groups, rubbish for promoting fiction. Another echo chamber.

Goodreads – good for presenting stuff, great for giving away stuff. I’ve yet to be convinced that anyone actually buys and reads unknown fiction as a result. Maybe some people do.

Scribd – good for presenting stuff, great for giving away content. I’ve yet to be convinced that anyone actually buys and reads unknown fiction as a result.

Librarything – ditto, seems to be for ‘serious fiction’ really. Held breath and died before anyone read a simple posting. Now a ghost haunting the site out of morbid interest.

Book Blogs – difficult to judge, no one is interested in reviewing Sean Yeager as it’s an adventure /  sci-fi book. (Yep, real niche stuff alongside underground stuff like Star Wars, Star Trek etc) So de facto useless, but it may work if you write books that are reviewed and hence promoted on book blogs. Which seems to be anything written for a female audience and blogged about by a lady with a love of books (who also happens to write romantic supernatural stories about vampires and men with six packs and no clothes on (I blame the TV) )

That’s all for now, I’m off to the pub for some research, And a primal scream.

AHHHHHHHHHHH!

That’s better.

Happy reading

D.M. Jarrett

New year, new story…..

Hunters Hunted Text 2 small

So welcome to 2013, not my favourite number, but I’m glad we have all that Mayan nonsense out of the way. Lo and behold nothing happened. Or to be more precise more of the same continued to happen. More meanness, cruelty, deception, opinionated horse droppings etc etc. I dare say if we could turn the clock back to 2013 BC it would be much the same. Power, corruption and lies only a different flavour and some different empires in full flow….

Over the holiday season I’ve been busy avoiding the echo chamber of writers selling stuff to each other. It’s been refreshing. It’s also given me a chance to focus on book 2 – Sean Yeager, Hunters Hunted. The cover is nearly completed and I’m progressing well on the many passes of revision and updating. Not my choice of fun activity, but essential none the less. And even if I say it myself (and I am, ’cause there’s no one else here….) it’s a step up from the last book with loads of stuff going on. It is essentially an action, mystery adventure with lots of action and weird stuff. It’s funny to think this could be a future classic and so far no one but me has read it yet. More on that in future posts….. 

So above there’s a quick sneak preview of the cover while I continue the never ending rounds of revision. I’m also mind mapping out some ideas for book 3, which given the strengths of Hunters Hunted is going to be a challenge, a good challenge. It’s also the part I enjoy the most, so it’s all good. Yep, plotting is where it’s at people! Be afraid characters, be very afraid. Some nasty stuff will happen to some random people among you…. Ha ha ha!

Happy 2013 and happy reading.

D.M. Jarrett

It’s not a matter of life or death, it’s more serious than that……… the riddle of unloved sci-fi

Sean Yeager and the DNA Thief Cover, available now at Amazon, Kobo

Following a late night debate over a beer or two, I recently researched the best selling films of all time

I like all kinds of fiction and non-fiction in films, TV and books. I like comedy, horror, adventures dramas and such like. I only draw the line at ‘crud’ and the majority of chick flicks. So that also rules out anything Twilight related. (Yes I can’t stand them – for me the Underworld series is a far better story)

I began writing Sean Yeager Adventures because it felt right and because it arose from my interests as a youngster. We used to have no end of sci-fi on TV: UFO, Dr Who, Star Trek, Blake’s 7. And at the lighter end we had Danger Mouse, Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet and many more. I guess some of it rubbed off and then Star Wars happened…

So back to the film stats. It turns out that nearly 1/3 of the top selling films of all time are sci-fi and they account for just under 1/3 of the gross income for the top 50 (that’s about 28% or $13.2 Bn).

The big winners are of course well known:

  • Avatar
  • Star Wars
  • Transformers
  • Inception
  • ET
  • Jurassic Park
  • The Matrix

To which we can add other big films like the Terminator, Alien and Star Trek series who fall outside the top 50.

And my point is?

Simply this – how come there are so few top selling books that are sci-fi?

I don’t believe for a second that sci-fi lovers don’t buy or read books.

Happy reading

D.M. Jarrett

To boldly go where no man has gone before……….. Sean Yeager in print now

Sean Yeager and the DNA Thief Cover, available now at Amazon, Kobo

After months of crafting, designing, huffing and puffing… Sean Yeager and the DNA Thief is available in deluxe print!  Hurray!

Deluxe because it is a 6×9 inch book size which shows off the cover and makes it very easy to read.

For those who don’t already know – the book series is a mixture of adventure, comedy, action, science fiction and mystery. A bit like a cross between Young James Bond, Men in Black, Star Wars, Artemis Fowl and elements of Monty Python / Red Dwarf / Hitchhikers Guide. We’re not in Star Trek territory yet. Watch that space though, Star Trek is converging all the time…

The DNA Thief sets the scene at breathtaking speed and Hunters Hunted is set to build on the mysteries and action  in a big way.

It’s a big milestone for us and very soon we’ll be speaking to libraries and bookstores about stocking the physical books. It’s funny there is something about holding print in your hand that makes a real difference….

Meantime, on with the series. Hunters Hunted is nearing completion and will see the light of day first as an e-book initially with print to follow.

Happy reading

D.M. Jarrett

 

 

 

 

 

 

www.seanyeager.com

It’s life Jim but not as we know it …….. villains never give in

Just like my evil nemesis Egbert Von Krankhausen I never give up in waving a virtual flag at those readers who are seriously missing out on a good thing. I mean come on everyone over here! Aren’t you bored of vampires yet? Sean Yeager awaits! The true spiritual successor to Parry Hotter and Dartemis Owl.

In a move that is bound to spread tremors and tsunamis across the world I am transporting Sean Yeager to a whole new dimension for the holiday period. A dimension of lending. That’s right the Kindle lending scheme. Now you have no excuses – read and enjoy!  Or I’ll send Krankhausen after you…..

Is it life Jim or is it opting for the inevitable? I’ll beam up again soon with news from the front. One thing is clear there will be no cosy little romance picnic to spoil the action. Yes that is a direct dig at Star Wars who made me cringe for what seemed like eternity with that dire excuse for a love story between ‘To be Darth’ and ‘Oh look I’m pregnant with twins and the best sci-fi gizmos and forces ever can’t save me’.

With Hunters Hunted steaming up the mirrors and generally leaping off the page to climb new mountains, The DNA Thief will soon be joined by another. Yes folks its going to be Empire Strikes Back time. Aliens with a plural instead of the singular dark, shifty stomach ache and pregnancy metaphor. (Ouch!) It’s building up nicely into a spaghetti car crash of gargantuan proportions. Try saying that quickly!  (“That, that, that…..”)

So in the run up to Happy Holidays of all colours and creeds consider this: Sean Yeager is out there somewhere hiding from his enemies and hoping that Santa isn’t laser blasted to a crisp by his trigger happy protectors. (Could be worse, have you met Krankhausen? Now he has some serious personal issues man!)

Happy reading

D.M. Jarrett

Infinity welcomes careful drivers…… and a big tip of the hat to Douglas Adams

Copyright Aenathen Omega 2012

Welcome star-speeders,

As you may or may not realise we’re big Red Dwarf and Douglas Adams fans around here. Just thought I’d throw that into the mix to see if any Vogons were passing. Being a Brit there’s also a liberal dose of Python, Black Adder and such like sprinkled on top for good measure. Mmmm, tasty……

Just a quick note to mention progress on a few things I’ve been working on:

Sean Yeager Hunters Hunted is progressing well and is on track to see the light of day by early next year. It will be the second in the Sean Yeager series with another great cover and an elaborate, action packed story. It builds from the first novel and follows Sean Yeager and his new friends on their quest to recover a mysterious artifact. Of course in true SYA fashion the mission is far from straightforward thanks in no small part to Sean’s new found enemies and the intervention of The Foundation in a purely protective role you understand….

Sean Yeager and the DNA Thief will soon be available in print to satisfy all the bibliophiles out there. This will be a slight revision on the original version, not that most mortals will spot the different (Yes you may take that as a challenge if you wish) Of course the e-book version will continue to be available. The film may take a while to sell and produce…..

A Sean Yeager Adventures logo is now complete and will feature prominently in the printed versions of the SYA books. See above for a sneak preview. We’re very pleased with the outcome and maybe one day over a glass of beer someone may convince us to spill the beans about what it means. (Chilled real ale of course, even Brits don’t actually like warm beer!)

Please feel free to forward the SYA links to anyone you know who enjoys adventure sci-fi. All the main links are listed on the website for ease of navigating. Things are beginning to really hot up around here….

In future we’ll possibly / probably put up some more artwork on the website, but don’t hold us to it as we have lots of other things on the boil.

Give my regards to the mice,

D.M. Jarrett

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Sean Yeager takes over the world….. the story so far

For those of you who are new to reading this blog (and that’s several billion of you) a quick recap.

Sean Yeager began when I was trying to find some quality reading for my son. I struggled frankly. I was looking for an entertaining read that didn’t insult his intelligence and I failed.

So I listened to what he was interested in and I went out again to look for something with him. In the end I let him choose. We bought some books and they were okay but not great. They were mostly read and quickly forgotten. One was dumped completely as ‘boring’. Eventually we settled on Harry Potter as being the best all rounder. (And to this day my main role model in a book alongside Bartimaeus).

We talked some more and I wrote some short stories for my son about a boy called Sean Knight and how we helped to save the world. Surprisingly these were so well received I had a demand for a ring binder to store them in and some regular discussions about the characters and their gear.

I shared the short stories with some friends to gauge how well they worked. Was it just youthful enthusiasm? The feedback came in and it was mostly positive. The stories seemed to have something. People understood the concepts and liked the angle.

Next I did some research –  I figured out the market, costings and what I could achieve realistically. I also set about finding an illustrator and began sketching some ideas myself. My first attempt with a cover designer was okay and I sort of received what I commissioned. I was chuffed to begin with.

So I sent out loads of unsolicited submissions to agents and publishers. Not a single one was even vaguely interested in what I had written. Actually I fib, one sent me a vaguely positive rejection letter  that implied they might consider my work sometime later in the year. Needless to say I did not receive any follow-up inquiries or feedback. Perhaps strangely I was not surprised in the least. I thought ‘this is why most of the books in the shops don’t sell very well’. Not that I thought my short stories were exceptional, more that no one would even recognise the gap in the market I was aiming for.

Following a particularly ‘can’t be bothered’ piece of feedback from an agent I made a decision. I decided to take on the full responsibility for producing a professional product myself and to act like a professional. I set values and goals. I costed out the proposition and I researched. I planned to write two books inside a year and publish them in e-book and print. I also aimed for top quality plotting and writing together with top quality design and illustration. I realised it would be tough and I  also realised it would take a lot of work. As it turned out I was right on both counts you need a lot of determination and a thick skin to be a writer.

And that is where Sean Yeager and the DNA Thief began. I decided to change the character’s name because of a character called Sean Knight in a Mage comic. I wrote to the creator and in a trend that I have become very used to I received no reply. So I thought, ‘you know what change the name anyway and keep it straightforward’. In a way it was probably a good thing but at the time it was a complete pain to find and be happy with a new name.

I wrote and revised for several months until I felt the first novel was complete. Several revisions and corrections later I lent it out to some beta readers and held my breath. The feedback was consistently positive with some helpful suggestions which I applied to the next revision. Being a whole lot more involved than a short-story I realised that the plots and characters were equivalent to a film script. I figured ‘why not?’ So I set out to write so the stories are easily adaptable to film and yet quirky at the same time.

Which brings us almost up to date. I found a very talented illustrator and commissioned a new cover and some interior images. The interiors became material for website and posters when I realised how expensive colour printing can be. Needless to say the second cover was massively better than the first and you can see it above.

Sean Yeager Adventures has an e-book on each of the major sites a website, a blog, twitter, facebook, even a spoof advert on youtube and various postings all over the internet. Do any of them attract readers? Good question. If people want to find out about Sean Yeager I believe they can and will. So probably. Will social media sites sell people the books? I think people decide for themselves in the real world. I encourage people to read the free preview and see the website. And guess what? Many of them do. Soon they will be able to hold a printed copy in their hands (hurray!).

Yes Sean Yeager will soon be arriving in print. Then libraries and then (hopefully) some high street shops and book clubs. Meanwhile the second book is nearing first draft completion and promises to be every bit as good as the first and more expansive. Perhaps by the fifth draft it will reach the light of the internet and print outlets. When the quality is good enough that is.

So Sean Yeager takes over the world….. yes he does. It’s what the series is all about. I’ve set my aims high to entertain, stretch minds and be as good as the best. All that’s left is the blood, sweat and tears to push on and achieve those goals.

And why have I done this?

Because I believe readers deserve a really compelling book series and it all goes back to what my young readers told me they wanted to read about. I also have a ball writing the stories which makes up for the rejections and emails I’ve sent that have gone unanswered. I laughed recently about The Beatles’ first rejections, it clearly happens to everyone.

Yesterday I took some promotional postcards to a school and a boy asked for another one because he lost the first. He’d yet to read a word of the story and yet he loved the idea of the book simply based on the cover. Priceless.

Yes, Sean Yeager is taking over the world, you heard it here first.

Happy reading

D.M. Jarrett

What is ‘good’ writing?

D.M. Jarrett author of Sean Yeager Adventures muses on the balancing act of what makes writing ‘good’.

Recently, I signed up to review another author’s book and while I’ve yet to begin the task it has me thinking. I’m wondering about what to comment on in the review and what my yardstick should be. Should it be about the standard of the writing or my impression of the work as a reader. Should it be about the plot or a combination of all the above? It’s tricky. And then of course I don’t want to be too kind or too cruel because I’ve been through the hours and hours of creating a work until you are sick of the sight of it. (Temporarily sick of course).

I have found in the past that when you are involved in something (such as writing, designing or music) your focus shifts and you become almost incapable of stepping back from the small details to see things as others do. It’s almost a curse. Yes I quite like that song but rhyming ‘fall’ with ‘crumble’ and ‘stumble’ is making me feel ill. There was once a song I heard so many times that it could almost induce physical vomiting whenever the first few bars were played because I hated aspects of it so much. Fortunately, someone eventually culled it from radio play lists and there was a suitable parody (but it didn’t go anywhere near far enough to my mind.)

So what is ‘good writing’? Would you recognise it knocking at your front door and inviting itself in for dinner? It’s a tricky one and no doubt liable to split academics down the middle let alone bloggers. So I’ll settle for giving my thoughts as subjective as they are:

1) Readability – I look for a good smooth read which flows and is relatively easy to follow. I’m not keen on heavy reads where I have to repeat read sentences to understand the intended meaning. Neither am I keen on use of language which fails to paint a picture in my head. I find it’s working when I almost forget about the words and I’m carried away with the ideas and events being portrayed.

2) Plot – I always want to know what’s going on. I absolutely hate being taken on a wild goose chase with characters who have no clear fit to the flow of the story. Some authors drive me nuts with lengthy parallel plots where inevitably one is preferable or more entertaining than the other. And worse when it all comes together at the end in a giant twist. More than likely I’ve given up caring by Chapter 5!  Okay it can be clever, but I don’t like being sold a pup as a reader. Leave out the dull stuff and keep me enthralled or laughing or scared. I actually really, really, really, do not care what the characters have for breakfast or what they think of their father unless it is directly relevant to the plot line.

3) Genre & style – I’ll read almost anything but it has to evoke emotion for me to want to read on. It can be any of the main reactions – laugh, cry, tremble, be excited, be amazed – preferably several of them at once. However if a story does not make me want to care then (unsurprisingly) I won’t bother to care and may well put the book down. I’m not big on concept books or shallow books unless they bring out a reaction and I find the best books work on all these levels, so I choose to read them instead.

4) ‘Universe’ – I enjoy being taken somewhere else during the read. Sometimes it can be the best part of the book for me. I still want to feel and read easily, but if the places and events are sufficiently interesting it can carry an otherwise poor plot. There are several books I’ve read where the style and setting were on reflection far better than the eventual story which in some cases was actually pitifully poor, predictable or worse unremarkable.

5) Use of words – I would imagine my vocabulary is about average for a graduate, nothing amazing and a reasonable understanding of less common word meanings. I like seeing interesting words in books where their meaning flows well and adds something, it restores the brain a little. On the other hand, there are some writers who find it necessary to use obscure language and structures, which not only cloud their intended meaning but also irritate the hell out of me. Ironically, I don’t mind if they invent words so long as the meaning is disclosed, but force me to reach for a dictionary more than a couple of times and I’m unlikely to forgive the  book. And never write in slang or phonetic language to evoke a character unless you absolutely have to, which is still never. A few odd words here or there will do. But frankly I’m not interested in how clever, clever it is and in one very notable book it is completely wrong in context as well. As in totally implausible and unnecessary.

6) Overall impact – This is probably the most personal aspect for any reader I would guess. My preference is to have a positive overall impact because it feels like a chore if you’ve read a sizable book to arrive at a negative or unclear ending. I hate endings where you have to guess what the outcome was and I also dislike endings where it’s a laboured denouement with all loose aspects closed off. A short third act with a clear outcome tending towards positive, or at least hopeful, usually does it for me. All the better if there is a plausible twist at the end. Best of all show us an ending we could not possibly have thought of ourselves and which makes sense.

7) Deus Ex Machina – Otherwise known as cheating with plot twists and outcomes. Makes my blood boil and has been known to spoil books and films completely. Unless we’re in a fantasy and magic genre, I really don’t want to read about impossible escapes and invisible plot devices that only arrive in the last few pages. ‘It was all a dream’ has to be the worst of the worst excuse second only to ‘they imagined it all (the whole story) in their last moments of life’ . Err nope I’m calling the plot police and charging the writer with abuse of writer privileges. The bond between writer and reader (in my opinion) is that the reader is not to be short-changed on page 450 (or whatever) having read the previous build ups and tensions. Nor do I like the swings into the absurd that pepper so many films. e.g. despite being shot 15 times our hero managed to climb a mountain appear at the last second inside a locked building and save the helpless captives, all because he is the hero. No stop right there! Call the plot police! Shoot on sight with nuclear, water cannon, toffee apples (yes it’s easy to cheat isn’t it?).

So your honour, the subjective terms of ‘good writing’ have mostly to do with what we personally want from a book. ‘Incredible, how did you figure that out?’ the jury cried. Make us laugh, cry and jump then give us a decent resolution. Easy huh? (err yeah right).

In the meantime, I’ll do my best and reach for the birch twig each time I catch myself breaking one of my own  rules. (Anyone have some bandages and liniment going spare?)

Happy reading

D.M. Jarrett

Sean Yeager website