Category Archives: books

I’m a mid-list author and I earn my living by writing books that sell. What’s wrong with that?

money, writing, publishing, brimsonI have an admission to make: my name is Dougie Brimson and I am a professional writer. That isn’t an introduction to some kind of warped author or screenwriters anonymous group, it’s a statement of fact.

I mention it because the other day someone asked me what motivates me to write and having thought about it at length, the one thought that kept entering my head was ‘what a stupid bloody question!’ Let’s get this clear once and for all; I write for two reasons: 1. I’m a lazy bastard who likes sitting down all day and 2. I need to make money to facilitate item 1.

That seems fair enough to me but for some strange reason it doesn’t seem to sit well with the literati. For them, the very idea of a writer admitting to being motivated by income rather than some holier-than-thou desire to ‘create’ is almost akin to admitting a being a Brexiter and admiring Margret Thatcher. Mind you, both of those are true of me too.

I have never really understood this thinking. After all, writing anything  isn’t just bloody hard work it takes an awful lot of time as well of a degree of talent so if you’re going to do it, surely the aim must be to get the final work published or filmed? Yet that will only happen if someone thinks that there is potential to sell copies or put bums on seats and if either of these things happen, you make money. That’s how it works and that’s why they are  called the publishing business and the film business.

Yet for some reason, if you as a writer approach the process by looking at the market and giving it what it actually wants as opposed to what some commissioning editor or producer thinks it should have, you are regarded almost as a traitor to the art form. Believe me, I’ve met people who work in publishing, and film for that matter, who genuinely seem to consider being popular as something to be ashamed of (see my blog: Why are publishers so scared of lad-lit).

Well sod that. I might never win the Booker prize or receive invites to the Hay festival, I might not even be able to persuade independent bookshops to stock my work, but I know my market, I know what it wants and I’m happy to provide it with as much as I can and as often as I can. If the literary world doesn’t get that simple commercial reality then screw them.

The reason why this is so relevant is because as some people are already aware, In The Know, the third book in the The Crew/Top Dog trilogy has just been published and whilst I’m looking forward to seeing it on various bookshelves, I’m equally excited about knowing that it’s available to download as an ebook.

There are numerous reasons for this (most of which are quite tedious) but the two main ones have to do with speed and money.

It can take months, sometimes years, for a manuscript to make the journey from laptop to Waterstones and even longer for the meagre percentage of the cover price to reach the authors bank. With less and less independent bookshops stocking books like mine, that means either my publisher selling direct via their website or relying almost entirely on Amazon or online stores. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, far from it. Quite why I’m expected to show loyalty to indie book stores just because I’m an author genuinely escapes me when they do absolutely nothing for me at all.

However, with an ebook, especially a self-published eBook, it can be online, on sale and on Kindles within hours and any royalties in the bank within 3 months. More importantly, even though eBooks are significantly cheaper than paperbacks, that royalty is higher.

As a professional writer, that’s significant because at the end of the day, whilst I’ve sold plenty of books (around 1,000,000 at the last count) I’m not JK Rowling or Jeffrey Archer and I don’t get offered 6 figure advances. My income is generated primarily by sales. Equally, writing for the market I do, it’s highly unlikely that I’ll get my books reviewed in the mainstream media nor will I feature in the Sunday supplements spread across a comfy sofa so the chances of crossing over into the mainstream are minimal at best.

Don’t get me wrong, I cannot even begin to tell you how much I appreciate every single email, tweet, letter or comment I receive about my writing and when it comes to motivation, nothing works as effectively as praise from readers. But I also appreciate the income that my work generates if for no other reason than it buys me time, food and motorcycles. So anything I can do to increase that income and the speed with which it arrives, has to be a good thing.

The downside of course, is that by stepping away from the more traditional publishing route I’m actually taking work away from the very people who have for years been in control of my career.

I get no pleasure from that and with my paperbacks now being printed in Poland, I’ll certainly miss the thrill of watching my next book roll off the presses but at the end of the day, whilst my approach might not win me any friends in publishing, no editor would work for nothing and I’ll be buggered if I’m going to either.

violence, racism, racist, anal sex, oral sex, bum,On the subject of ebooks, it continues to astonish me that since it was first released as an ebook in November 2011, The Crew has almost continually held onto one of the top 2 slots on both its Amazon and iTunes chart and continues to receive 5* reviews as recently as yesterday.

Thank you to everyone who has brought copies and rest assured, as long as people keep buying them, I’ll keep writing them because to me, the reader is and always will be the most important person in the whole process. Which is kind of the point.

@dougiebrimson

sex, lads romance, love, vibrator, george clooney, fartDougie Brimson is the author of 16 books as well as the writer of a number of award winning movies including the cult classic, Green Street.

His books and DVD’s are available from both Amazon and iTunes

hooligan,hooliganism,writing,writer,author,screenwriting,greenstreet,sex

Everything you wanted to know about being an author (but were afraid to ask).

As I sit here pondering my navel during the madness of this lockdown and doing pretty much anything I can to avoid actually writing, I often stumble across things which not only make me laugh, but strike a chord. One of the most recent items to achieve this double whammy was an old blog I read entitled ‘Everything you wanted to know about being an author (but were afraid to ask).

The reason this caused such mirth in Brimson Towers was because this last week I’ve received not one, but two emails asking me about that very thing. Now in both cases, given that Matt Haig, the author of said original blog, is a far better and more accomplished writer than I will ever be and had pretty much said everything I would have said and more anyway, I simply passed on the link and wished the individual well.

However, as I mulled it over whilst standing in line at my local Co-Op yesterday (I needed Mozzarella, seriously) I decided that if I was going to accurately apply this excellent list to my own writing life and process, it would need a tweak or two.

So what follows is a bastardised version of the list in question. I have included the original in italics for reasons which will become obvious and hope that Mr Haig will accept my apology for brutalising his excellent efforts which, if you would like to read them, can be found here: 

1.     We live on toast. And cereal. And caffeine. And wine. But mainly toast.   Since I am banned from eating bread due to my lard arse frames dislike of wheat and rarely drink alcohol of any description, I only survive at all thanks to a daily plate of eggs and bacon, this being supplemented by a ready supply of Bourbons. On reflection, this could explain my aforementioned lard arsed frame.

2.     By the time our book comes out, it feels like a childhood memory. But more distant.   As a writer who is intent on spewing out books and screenplays on a scarily regular basis until such time as readers finally suss out that I am a talentless hack (a fact I am already well aware of), I am no longer hindered by the agonising time it takes publishers take to get books from emailed file to the shelves of Waterstones. Hence, when a book is released into the marketplace, or as I prefer to call it, Amazon, it is still scarily fresh in the memory.

3.     Our daily word-count was approximately three thousand words higher before the arrival of Facebook and Twitter.   Absolutely true. Indeed, there is a whole heap of irony to be found in the fact that whilst the world wide web provides the engine for what passes as my writing career, it also does all it can to slam it into reverse on an almost minute by minute basis. Proof of which can be found by looking at my Twitter and Facebook timelines.

4.     At parties someone will always say, ‘So have you written anything I’d have heard of?’ Or, ‘How are the books going?’ Both questions end in awkward silence.   Again, absolutely true although the reality is that I rarely get invited to parties. In fact for rarely, substitute never. I suspect people assume I will turn up, get pissed and wreck the place. This being as far from the truth as you could possibly get.

5.     If we were number two in the bestseller charts, the only book we would ever be thinking about is the one selling more.   Partially true. Well OK, mostly true. Although in some instances, I do look at who is languishing below me and mutter a smug ‘take that you fucker’ to myself.

6.     We never know if the book we are writing is the right one until we have written it. And even then we are not sure.   In my case, I know it’s the right one because I ask my readers in advance and they tell me what they want. That’s the joy of being an author who actually talks to the people who buys his books.

7.     It is harder to make friends after you become a writer than it was before. But way easier to make enemies.   True and very true.

8.     People think you are automatically a bit weird. (Or is that just me?)   No, it’s not just you. Although in my defence, I am actually a bit weird.

9.     We need editors ‘like a fat kid needs cake’ – to quote that sensitive literary soul, 50 Cent.   This is golden rule number 5 in Doug’s golden rule book of writing. It is so, so true.

10.    The best day is when we get to see our book cover. Unless we don’ t like the book cover in which case it is the worst day.   Being an independent author, my publishers involve me in developing covers from day one and often I have the final say so this isn’t the case for me. My best day is usually when I write ‘the end’ and the worst is when I realise that it usually isn’t.

11.    ‘Royalty statement’ is Latin for disappointment.   Thanks to the web, I see my sales figures on an almost daily basis. Sometimes they are orgasmic, other times I want to kill myself.

12.    We get stomach pains every time another writer wins something. (We have continual stomach pains).   Not only have I never won anything, I’ve never even been nominated. Come to that, I’ve never even been invited to anything where any author won anything. My stomach pains are entirely due to my Bourbon intake.

13.    We all want to be Hemingway, minus the suicide part.   I’m quite happy being me.

14.    We would probably all be writing poems, if people actually bought poems.   If I could earn a living writing football chants or perhaps greeting cards for lads, I’d be happy with that. Who wouldn’t?

15.    We spend a lot of our time going on five hour train journeys to events where eight people turn up (and only three of them buy the book).     The only events I get invited to involve either court or family and generally speaking, I tend to avoid both of them like the plague anyway.

16.    We chose not to choose life. We chose something else.   This is true. It’s called solitude.

17.    We are generally quite bad at dancing.   Untrue. I have the moves! Or at least I did before my back gave out.

18.    In most cases, the person we don’t like more than any other just happens to be another writer. But then, the person we admire most is one too.   This is true. Although in my case it is more to do with personality than the nature of their output.

19.    We may have our name on the front of a book but we always feel slightly outside the publishing industry, looking in. Like Keats at that metaphorical sweet-shop.   True. Despite my success I exist firmly on the outside of the publishing industry and always have. I fear that is unlikely to ever change.

20. If we were a neurotic wreck before we were published – and we were – we remain one afterwards. Our brain chemistry doesn’t fundamentally change.   This is absolutely true although my worst insecurities tend to be more about my other writing life. Screenplays are genuinely terror inducing.

21. If we get good reviews, we want good sales. If we get good sales, we want good reviews.   I want both. Is that too much to ask?

22. We are happy for five whole minutes after a book is sent off. Then we realise all the mistakes we made.   True. Although thanks to the magic that is the eBook, we can if need be, continually edit!

23. We start off wanting to be published. We get published. Then we want a nice review. We get a nice review. Then we want an award. We get an award. Then we want a film deal. We get a film deal. Then we want a film to be made. And so on. For ever. (We are never happy).   Well as previously discussed, I know I’ll never earn any kind of award although I have had a movie and plenty of film deals. Another West End premier would be nice though, I wasn’t actually invited to the first one… (long story)

24. If someone reads our work midway through the writing process we need them to faint in awe or it goes in the bin.   People are constantly reading my work at every stage from one-line idea to final manuscript. As a consequence, if they are happy, I am happy. If they’re not, I listen to what they say and change things until they are. They are legends!

25. We are a little bit lonely.   True. Thankfully, despite coming from a large family, I have always been a bit of a loner and my favourite company is er… me. That has stood me in good stead over the years.

26. Bad reviews are always taken personally. Always.   Totally and absolutely true.

27. Writing a novel is like a relationship. During the early stages every other possibility looks incredibly attractive. But commitment pays off.   True. And since manuscripts, like screenplays, are always females, there are occasions when you get to the end and are glad to see the back of her.

28. We rarely write in coffee shops.   True. Instead we watch and listen and use the fact that we are writers as an excuse for loitering. Or is that just me?

29. Writing is heaven. Re-writing is hell.   Oh god yes.

30. We are rubbish at other jobs. And DIY. And most other things too.   I was an engineer in a previous life so I can do pretty much anything. The biggest problem I have is getting myself motivated to actually do it whatever it is that needs doing.

31. We say the wrong things at parties.   I refer the honourable reader to the answer I gave some moments ago. I don’t get invited…

32. The definition of discomfort is the moment after your mother reads your semi-autobiographical novel.   Substitute ‘mother’ with ‘daughter’ and you’re about right.

33. There is no praise more treasured than that of an author you worship.   I wouldn’t know about this. It’s never happened.

34. The best book we have ever written is the one we are about to write.   It better be!

35. The best ideas we have are the ones that arrive accidentally.   True. In fact the idea for my next book actually arrived thanks to an accident. I was in hospital with my wife who had broken her arm when the plot came to me!

36. There is no email in the world nicer to receive than the one from a reader who has been moved by your work.   Oh yes. Thankfully, I have had many of those over the years and each and every one is valued.

37. We know, in our heart of hearts, that we have the very best job in the world.   The truest of all truths.

So there you have it.

Finally,  I’m happy, if not delighted to announce that work is currently well underway on my 18th book which will be my first military based thriller. However, before that, in a little over three weeks in fact, book number 17 hits the shelves. The third book on the Billy Evans trilogy, it’s entitled In The Know and is, if I say so myself, a cracker.

 

You can pre-order it, as with all my books, my clicking on the following links. Amazon  iTunes

@dougiebrimson

Why I love my readers (and why their reviews are so important!)

I love my readers.
I love my readers! Come on, give us a cuddle!

Over the last couple of years you might have noticed that the world of the ebook has changed publishing out of all recognition. This is particularly true for mid-list authors such as myself.

No longer under the control of editors or publishers we are now free to go it alone to write what we like and publish it when we like. Trust me, for all kinds of reasons that freedom is liberating!

For the reader, it has been equally revolutionary. Who would have thought five years ago that not only would there be a genuine alternative to good old paper but that there would be books available to download for free at the touch of a button!

But the rise of the ebook has added a new and very important element to the reading process and it is one which not everyone seems to have grasped. It is the power to review. Be it on amazon, iTunes, Goodreads or any of the numerous reader websites, if you enjoy or even dislike a book you are now able to tell the world.

That my friends, is power, real power. And I will tell you why.

As a professional writer of ebooks, whenever I release something new onto the market the promotion of that book falls not to the publisher as it used to, but to me as the author. As a consequence the normal routine is to bombard media outlets, social media, related websites and blogs in the hope that someone will help by providing some publicity.

This, as you can imagine, is an extremely important part of the publishing process because at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how good a book might be if no one knows about it no one will buy it! But this work can consume an extraordinary amount of time and whilst it can be fabulous fun, it can also prove to be both frustrating and soul destroying.

However, after a certain amount of time you have to get back to the actual process of writing which means that you have to let your latest stand on its merits and fend for itself. It’s at this point that all authors hope that their readers will kick in and take up the task of spreading the word on their behalf. Fundamental to that is the review.

From the readers perspective a review can have many functions but for the majority of authors reviews are promotional tools and in that sense they are almost unrivalled which is why we all ask, plead and even beg readers to post them. It isn’t that we want you to boost our self-esteem (nice though that is!) it’s because the simple truth of the matter is that nothing sells books like word of mouth and these days, that primarily means what readers have to say on the online outlets.

Of course there are people who would never review a book for all kinds of reasons. The usual three being ‘I wouldn’t know what to write’,’ I’d be embarrassed’ or ‘I can’t be arsed.’ But by thinking in this way they are actually missing out on what to me is one of the most exciting elements of the ebook revolution and that’s the potential for the reader to become directly involved in the publishing process.

Because when you download a book be it free or paid, you earn the right to have an opinion. And since your opinion is as good as anyone else’s, rather than keep it to yourself or simply share it with your immediate family why not share it with the global community? You don’t have to say much, just a sentence or two, but anything is better than nothing. Believe me, it can be a great deal of fun!

Equally and just as importantly, by posting a review on one of the online stores such as Amazon and iTunes –and this is the crux of the matter- you instantly become a part of the promotion for that book.

I won’t try and explain the mysteries of the various ranking systems and why every single review counts but think about it in its most basic sense; your glowing review could be the one which introduces someone to the delights of Billy’s Log or The Crew! Surely that has to be worth a few minutes of your time!

And speaking as an author, reviews have other benefits. One of which is that they help me to decide what to write next. For example, I had no idea that there was so much interest in sequels to both Top Dog and Billy’s Log but now, thanks to both the sales figures and the fabulous reviews posted by readers, I do. Which is why you will hopefully soon the sequel to at least one of them within the next 12 months. In addition, I’ve recruited all of my beta readers (the people who read my work before it goes to publication) because they contacted me after posting a review somewhere.

For me that encapsulates why I place so much importance on my readers opinions. Because by posting a review and helping to keep a title or titles selling, they/you allow me to concentrate on the actual process of writing and develop fresh material.

At the end of the day, I hope that’s what people actually want me to be doing as opposed to trying to climb up some journalist rear end in the hope that they might say something nice about my latest. It’s certainly what I’d much rather be doing.

So please, if you have ever read a book and like it, take the time to leave a review somewhere or even mention it on Facebook or Twitter. As I have said a million times each and every one of them genuinely helps and as someone pointed out to me today, a review is a fabulous way of thanking the author for his or her efforts.

One final point on the subject of reviews and just to confirm the importance of what I’ve said above, could I say a huge thanks to all the people who have been posting such kind things on Amazon and iTunes lately. It’s because of you guys that The Crew, Top Dog and Billy’s Log in particular continue to sell so well and I am both humbled and eternally grateful for your fantastic support.

sexy lads romance love
Billy’s Log – autobiography?

You can order all of my books by clicking on either of the following links. Amazon  iTunes. And keep an eye on my website for more details of the latest projects. 

@dougiebrimson

 

Want to be a writer? It’s money for old rope.

writer, author, brimson, lazy, ebooks, amazon, itunesAs I have previously mentioned, I receive a lot of emails asking for advice about writing. Primarily, these are of the ‘where do I start?’ variety as opposed to the ‘how do I enrich my novel with deep and meaningful subtext?’ sort but that’s fine with me. After all, I’m not exactly DH Lawrence or Dickens and to be fair, most of the time a large portion of my brain is actively tied up with trying to comprehend how I’m able to get away with earning a living as a writer. Although thinking about it, this is possibly why so many people do ask me. ‘If that talentless tosser can do it….’ etc, etc.

So let’s get this clear, writing a novel is easy. You simply sit at a keyboard, tap away at the keys until you have around 75 thousand words and there you go. It’s a novel. Anyone, and I mean anyone, can do that.

Screenplays are even easier. General thinking is that a page equals a minute of action so you’re only looking at about a hundred sheets of A4 which equates to around 20 thousand words. That’s a little over a quarter of the words required for a novel. Absolute piece of piss.

So what are you waiting for?

I am of course being flippant (I know it’s hard to tell sometimes) but trust me, there are people who really do think it’s that simple and in a certain sense it actually is. What they fail to recognise is that the easy bit is followed by the hard bit. Gathering together those 75 thousand words and putting them in some kind of coherent order takes takes time, effort, blood, sweat and tears.

Don’t get me wrong, I am one of those who subscribes to the theory that everyone has a book in them and I would most definitely urge everyone to have a go at writing for all kinds of reasons. As someone who is lucky enough to be able to do it all day every day, I can tell you with hand on heart that it can be hilarious fun, massively therapeutic, hugely exhilarating and even bloody exciting. But it can also be lonely, frustrating, heart breaking and certainly soul destroying.

Yet I wouldn’t have it any other way nor I suspect, would any other writer. Because that’s why we do it.

@dougiebrimson

football, comedy, humour, rivals, derby, soccer, premier league, championship, manchester united, chelsea, liverpoolAll of my books and DVD’s are available from both Amazon and iTunes.

A new novel, the third in the Billy Evans trilogy, will arrive in autumn 2019. News of a new movie (or maybe two) will hopefully arrive before that.

How to create believable characters (according to me!)

bovver,greenstreet,hooligans,indiefilmI was asked this morning how I come up with names for my characters and since I haven’t blogged for a while I thought it might be an idea to kill two birds with one stone by writing something about the process and how I go about it.

It is important to stress from the outset however, that this is my creative process. As I’ve written many times before, I have never studied the craft of writing and so have no idea if there is a standard ‘way’ or not. This works for me and that’s all I need worry about.

Character development is actually one of the most fun parts of the writing process for me because it allows me the opportunity to play god. And given that it’s fairly certain that he and I will not be meeting in the afterlife as I’ll almost certainly be heading south, it’s an opportunity I tend to relish for all kinds of reasons. Revenge being just one.

Now, I know that in both Billy Evans (The Crew, Top Dog) and Billy Ellis (Billy’s Log) I have created characters which have and will make return appearances but what we are talking about here are characters which make an appearance in my psyche for the first time. But be that in a novel or a screenplay, the process always starts with the same thing, the story. Be it tightly or loosely plotted, it is vital that you, as the writer, have some idea of the journey you’re going to take your creations on before you start putting them together. Once you have that, then you can start putting flesh on bones. It is however, important to understand that to all intents and purposes, your characters must be real in every sense of the word. They must have histories, personalities, flaws and fears and it is up to you, as the writer, to create those.

For me, the first stage of that process is to give each of them a name, a face and a voice. The name is the easier of the three because all it has to do it fit the individual and the world you want them to inhabit. Can you imagine Billy Evans being called Tarquin Selby-Green? Of course not, it would never work. Billy is short, sharp, blokey and slightly cheeky so it was perfect for the main man in both The Crew and Billy’s Log.

I also wanted the christian names to be short and punchy. Evans was my former agents name and Billy Evans rolls off the tongue. Simple as that. But in the past I’ve found names for my characters simply by scrolling through Facebook and finding something which I think fits.

However, a name can be changed fairly easily, usually with a few clicks of a button, but the face and the voice are far more important because as you spend increasing periods of time with these imaginary people, they will fairly quickly come to haunt your consciousness.

When a character first appears in your head, he or she will inevitably have a certain look and Billy Evans was no exception. From day one he was medium height, stocky, dark haired and had a cheeky face. In essence, like any one of a hundred lads I know. I also knew immediately what I wanted him to sound like and so once I had the plot tied down, I went looking for him.

Oh yes, every character in everything I’ve ever written is based on a real person. In the case of Billy Evans, it was a mate. Now I won’t say who he is (he knows, but he is very different from Leo Gregory which is why I had so many initial problems when I began adapting Top Dog for the screen) but I follow this same model for every character in everything I write. The reason being that if I ever find myself struggling, I can either ring up that person or YouTube them. Trust me, it’s amazing how quickly and easily a quick chat or a short video clip can free up the mind and spark something off.

Of course as work progresses the characters begin to take on lives of their own which is exactly as it should be but as a starting point, basing them on real people certainly works for me and in all honesty, that’s all I care about!

writer, writing, author, screenwriting, film, movie, hollywood, football, soccerIt has recently been commented upon that I have been fairly quite of late. This is not however, because I have been suffering from the mythical writers block not have I retired. Far from it.

In fact over the last year or so I have worked on three movie scripts (two of which have nothing to do with either football or criminals) as well as what could be an extremely controversial TV drama. Having thrown all of these into the commissioning pit over the last few weeks, I am now back working feverishly on the third book in the The Crew/Top Dog trilogy which is thankfully, heading toward completion.

More news of all of these as and when!

Exciting times!

@dougiebrimson

,sex, lads romance, love, vibrator, george clooney, fartJust in case you didn’t already know, all of my books and DVD’s are available from both Amazon and iTunes

author, screenwriting, screenplay, green street, elijah wood, fart, farting, gangster, sex, oral, football, soccer, hooligans, author, indie, independent, self publishing, ebook

 

Why is publishing so scared of Lad-Lit?

brimson, writer, author, writing, publishingAs most people involved with the publishing world know, the Edinburgh Literary Festival is regarded as possibly the foremost festival on the publishing calendar.

It brings together authors and ‘thinkers’ from across the globe and over a week long period, stages all kinds of events ranging from impassioned debates to creative workshops.

Now I’ve never actually been to Edinburgh, or any other literary festival for that matter, but I mention it here for a very specific reason. You see a while back, I stumbled across a website which provided a guide to getting published. It was written by someone who described themselves as a ‘literary coach’ and was quite informative but actually contained little or nothing that any published author could have provided free of charge.

However, what did interest me was a list of services provided for potential authors and a range of prices charged for those services. It wasn’t cheap but I guess if you are desperate to get into print, you will do whatever it takes, or costs.

Anyway, seeing these prices, I researched said ‘tutor’ and discovered to my astonishment that they had a backlist of… well I hesitate to call it a list at all. Let’s just say it was less than five…a lot less. From what I can gather, their sales haven’t exactly set the world on fire either.

Initially bemused at how someone was getting away with earning between £25 and £50 an hour teaching about writing when they seemingly have so little actual experience of it, further research uncovered the fact that this person is a regular at festivals, including Edinburgh, where they are given a platform to inform the public about the process of getting oneself into print for the first time. At which point I shook my head and went back to doing something more constructive. I’ve been around publishing long enough to know how it all works. If your face fits…

Now I don’t say this through any sense of hurt or indignation, but it is a fact that in spite of having written 15 books, shifted many hundreds of thousands of copies around the world and as the person widely regarded (wrongly in my opinion) as the father of the genre known as ‘hoolie-lit’ I have only ever been invited to two literary events in the UK and one of those I had to get myself invited to. The other had been organised by a group of disgruntled authors keen to complain about the appalling PR provided by our mutual publisher. Aside from that, with the exception of the odd writing group, I have never been asked to talk about anything relating to my experiences of publishing let alone give my opinions on either the industry or writing generally.

I used to ponder the reasons for this quite a lot and believed that much of it stemmed from my reluctance to play the ‘networking’ game. For just like the TV and film industry, publishing tends to be more about who you know rather than what you can actually do.

However, the real reason was explained to me in extremely blunt terms by the late, great and ever fabulous best-selling author Gilda O’Neill who told me at the aforementioned moan-a-thon, and I quote; ‘look at all these fucking snobs. I feel like I should be walking round with a tray of drinks’.

Yes, that’s right, snobbery runs through the literary world like a cancer and in terms of a clique, it makes the freemasons look like a youth club.

To be honest, I have always kind of understood why they might be reluctant to invite someone like me in. After all, I’m working class, never been to university, write primarily about blokey things and to those who don’t know me, probably appear as if I can’t string two coherent sentences together. I’m also prone, as you may have gathered, to saying things as I see them which doesn’t always go down well.

However, in recent years I have begun to consider another possibility. One that might not actually be as personal as I always suspected.

You see I write for a particular market and that market is me and people like me. In other words, working and middle class lads. This, to me, is what ‘lad-lit’ is all about yet for whatever reason, it is a genre which even as a concept, the publishing world have never fully seemed to grasp properly. A simple truth underlined by the fact that it often refers to Nick Hornby as The King of Lad-Lit.

Now I have nothing against Nick Hornby who is after all, an awesome writer. However, I’ve always struggled with the notion that his output is targeted at the same market as the one I inhabit. Yes, we’ve all read Fever Pitch but no one I know has read Funny Girl or Juliet, Naked or for that matter, would ever want to.

The question of course, is why does the publishing world seem so desperate to steer itself as far away from the lad market as is possible? After all, with the economy as it is these days you’d have thought that they’d have looked at the success of ‘chick-lit’ and given more serious thought to how they could fully service the other 50% of the population.

Sadly, if they are looking at all, the only answer they seem to have come up with is to pump out ever more pallet loads of SAS books or sports or  gangster related autobiographies. Great if you like that kind of thing but not so great if like me, you regard 90% of sportsmen and gangsters as relatively uninteresting. However, the fact that they cannot or will not look beyond these increasingly bland and repetitive genres is, in my opinion, entirely down to anti-male snobbery.

You may laugh at this but it’s something I have heard referred to many times over the years and it stems from an unspoken belief within the publishing world that ‘blokes don’t do books’.

Quite why this incredibly patronising view of a section of male readers continues to impact on the industry escapes me because the truth however, as ‘hoolie-lit’ conclusively proved, is that they do. From where I sit, having been there and done it, I do think that there’s much to be said for the idea that publishing is still a somewhat elitist world. Therefore the last thing it wants or needs is to become infested with working class oik novelists who, perish the thought, might actually manage to become popular. I know that’s a contentious accusation but think about this; can you imagine a ‘chick-lit’ author with 15 titles and a three quarters of a million sales to her name failing to attract invitations to literary events? No, I can’t either.

If true, it is a tragedy. Not least because there are some great male authors out there who, if given the chance, could actually forge a decent career for themselves by providing some fabulous and inventive popular fiction for male readers. OK, they might not win any Booker Prizes, but that’s not what it’s about at all.

You see somewhere along the line those individuals who make editorial decisions seem to have forgotten one fundamental and inescapable fact and it is this: The single most important person in the publishing industry is the reader and irrespective of their gender, politics, religion or class, if you keep them happy you’ll do the one thing that everyone in the industry is desperate to do, you make money. And if the phenomenon of hoolie-lit proved one thing, it’s that there is plenty to be made from working class male readers. Lots of it.

You just have to look under the right rock. Or rather, you have to want to look.

@dougiebrimson

sex, lads romance, love, vibrator, george clooney, fart

Just in case you didn’t already know, all of my books and DVD’s including The Crew which has been at #1 on its chart for over 6 years, are available from both Amazon and iTunes.

Further information can be found at dougiebrimson.com

 

Merry Christmas folks…. but do we have to have it every year?

writing, writer, sex, penguin, porno, madonna, christmasI read somewhere that the Christmas holidays are supposed to be a joyous time when we are all apparently meant to be... well, joyous.

Given that my twitter and Facebook timelines are awash with people moaning about everything from chaotic shops to equally chaotic weather, joy is something that is clearly in short supply today. It’s certainly absent here in Brimson towers although to be fair, I’ve never really been a fan of the festive season anyway so ironically, having something else to moan about is actually a bit of a positive.

However, in the interests of fair play, I have been giving the point of Christmas some thought over these last few days and whilst I appreciate the religious significance (even though I am not in any way shape or form religious) I am increasingly baffled as to why we bother with the rest of it.

After all, there can be few more stressful times than late December and let’s be honest, if you have kids or grand kids, the impact on the old bank balance can be catastrophic. More to the point, now that we can buy Brussell spouts pretty much all year round even the delights of Christmas dinner can be replicated whenever we feel like it.

Yes, I know there are all kinds of other reasons why the holidays are ‘special’ but when you sit down and think about it, most of them are bollocks. We’re all far more mobile these days so most family can get together relatively easily and even if we can’t, the internet allows communication in forms we couldn’t even imagine when I was a little ‘un. Equally, thanks to Netflix, Love Film and catch-up even the once highly anticipated post-pig out TV experience is largely a thing of the past.

OK, there’s the issue of time off work but when when you’re self-employed and work in an industry which tends to commence winding down at the beginning of December, the fact is that the whole month is lost which can be a pain in the arse.

The more I think about it, the more it strikes me that as a society we are being led not by the church, but by the supermarkets and the online stores and in these times of austerity, the question is, why do we do it?
Would we not be better of binning the annual spend-fest that Christmas has become and holding it once every four years instead?

It works for the World Cup, the Euro’s and even the Olympics and would it not be better all round to have something to really look forward to as opposed to dreading?

.

A couple of bits of news: the editing on Top Dog is well underway and a rough cut should be ready for viewing soon. I’m actually dreading this as it’s the first time I’ll have ever seen one of my books brought toreaders, film, ebooks, itunes, amazon, blog, publishing, author, writing, top dog, brimson, screenwriting, the crew, green street, elijah wood, leo gregory, charlie hunnam, essex boys life but I have every confidence in Martin Kemp so I’m sure my worries will be unfounded.

More to the point, once the rough cut has been viewed firm decisions will be taken regarding release dates etc, so as soon as I have news of those, I’ll pass them on.

I’ve also taken a positive decision about my next book. I don’t want to say too much at the moment as things may change but suffice to say that it’s an idea I’ve had ticking over in my head for a long time and in many ways, it will be the book that I’ve always wanted to write.

Finally, could I take this opportunity to wish everyone who reads this a very merry Christmas and if you could do me one favour over the coming week it’s to take the decision not to drink and drive.

2014 is going to be a massive year and I’d like to think you’ll all be around to share it.



	

Indie author or not indie author. That is the question!

indie, self publishing, soccer, money, eastenders, danny dyer, football, soccer, brimson, top dog, green streetThe other day, whilst talking about the subject of publishing, I was referred to as an indie-author and then asked if I was comfortable with the label.

My response was seemingly the cause of some angst to my inquisitor who, from what I could gather, was hoping their question would illicit a rambling and angry diatribe about the evil empire that is traditional publishing. What they got instead, after about a milli-second of thought, was the response that not only do I not know, I don’t actually care.

However, since the question was asked I have actually given it some consideration and eventually I goggled the obvious question; what is an indie author? The response was extremely interesting with the top answer being provided by the Alliance of Independent Authors who define it thus:

  • You have self-published at least one book.
  • You recognise that ‘indie’ does not necessarily mean ‘self-publishing only’ and acknowledge that even the most indie-spirited self-publisher works in collaboration with other publishing professionals (editors, designers, distributors) to produce a good book and reach readers.
  • You are open to mutual beneficial partnerships, including trade publishing deals where appropriate for you, so long as the author’s status as creative director of the book is acknowledged.
  • You expect your status in the partnership to be reflected in contracts and terms, not just lip service.
  • You recognise that you are central to a revolutionary shift in publishing which is moving from seeing the author as resource (in the new parlance ‘content provider’) to respecting the author as creative director.
  • You are proud of your indie status, which you carry into all your ventures, negotiations and collaborations for your own benefit and to the benefit of all writers.

Now if that’s the standard definition, I’m actually none the wiser. After all, I’ve never self-published a book and I certainly don’t do anything for the benefit of other writers (why should I? They’ve never done much for me!) so that pegs me firmly in the NOT camp. However, I most certainly do involve other people in my work and since without me, there will be no more Dougie Brimson books, it’s fairly obvious that I am both the creative director and very much my own boss which puts me squarely in the AM category.

But, and here’s the key point, as anyone who knows anything about me or who has taken the trouble to read a blog post or two will know full well, I’m barely comfortable calling myself an author let alone prefixing that with anything else.

I write books and I sell books, that’s as far as it goes for me and if someone wants to tag me as this or that label, that’s their business. It’s certainly not mine because I’m too busy writing.

Which is actually how it should be.

.

indie, self publishing, soccer, money, eastenders, danny dyer, football, soccer, brimson, top dog, green streetI’ve been receiving lots of questions about Top Dog and in particular, requests for information about when it will hit the big screen.

The answer to that is that I don’t actually know for sure and whilst that sounds hard to believe I promise you it’s true. I might be the writer but the whole thing is in the hands of the editor at the moment and until he’s worked his magic, I’m firmly out of the loop. Rest assured though, as soon as I have news, it’ll be all over Facebook and Twitter. In the meantime, I’m really looking forward to getting my teeth into my next movie project We Still Kill The Old Way which is starting to look really exciting.

On the subject of books, both The Crew and Wings of a Sparrow are now available in both print and eBook format from all online and high street book stores. Top Dog will also be re-released next spring as a movie tie-in.

Finally, could I say a huge thanks to all those people who have contacted me about Billy’s Log lately. For some reason (and I wish I knew what it was) it’s started to sell really well again and I’ve had a flood of mails asking me about a sequel.

I’m happy to tell you that there is indeed going to be a second instalment and indeed, it’s all mapped out so as soon as time allows, I’ll get my teeth into it. Promise!

Why all writers are mad… sort of.

writer, brimson, lazy, ebooks, amazon, itunes, screenwriting, author, novel, green street, sex, monkey, imac, windowsAs a writer, you inevitably spend a good portion of your time alone. The process is after all, fairly solitary and in truth, that’s one of the great attractions. At least it is for me. I’m not really a people person you see. Or to be more specific, I’m not really a real people person.

For on most days, I’m not actually alone at all, I’m in the company of all kinds of characters. Men, women, kids, hooligans, old men, glamorous women, thieves, thugs, hero’s… the list is endless. In fact it’s limited only by my imagination, because that’s where they live.

The joy of that is that they exist purely at my bidding and are real only for as long as I want them to be. Some I will meet only once, others will remain for a long time. Sometimes we have fun, sometimes I put them through all kinds of grief, sometimes I just watch what they do and feed off them. People are amazing, even imaginary ones. 

Now I know this makes me sound like some kind of mental case and if I were to chop off the first paragraph of this post and read it aloud to my doctor, she’d be quite justified in having me sectioned.

But the key word in that first paragraph is ‘writer’. Creating is what I do and my vivid imagination is my primary and most important tool. That’s how I can get away with having a mind which is a cross between a bizarre soap opera with only one viewer and a computer game with only one player. Both of which are me.

Sometimes however, it all goes horribly wrong. Or rather, fabulously wrong. Yesterday was one such occasion because filming began on my own adaptation of Top Dog. A novel I wrote well over ten years ago and which itself is the sequel to a book which first hit the bookshelves over thirteen years ago! And as I sat on set watching scenes I had created in my head actually being played out for real, I was frequently struck by how different it all looked from how I had imagined it. And the truth is, it looked a whole lot better in 3D.

That has taught me a very important lesson and it’s one which is almost certainly going to make me a better screenwriter. 

Because actors are real, locations are real. And as a writer, if you want to give your characters and situations life, the best way to do it is to understand that unlike the people in your head, they already have it. 

.

wings of a sparrow, the crew, top dog, football, screenwriting, leo gregory, hooligan, martin kemp, jonathan sothcott

Aside from the commencement of filming on Top Dog which will continue for a while yet, this week will also see two of my novels hit the shelves of WH Smiths (and all decent bookshops).

The first is the print edition of my most recent book, Wings of a Sparrow and the second is a re-issue of The Crew which continues to hold on to the #1 slot on the sports download charts. A position it’s held for well over two years now.

All in all, not a bad few days for me then. 

Book signings? That’ll be a no…. mostly.

russia, st. petersburg, author, green street, top dog, wings of a sparrowWhen I first became an author, one of the things I looked forward to was the opportunity to go on book tours. These, I imagined, would be huge affairs where people would queue around blocks waiting for me to sign books whilst at the same time fawning all over me telling me how awesome I am and let’s be honest, who wouldn’t want that?

For some people I suspect, that’s exactly what they’re like. For me however, they are slightly different. Well OK, they are totally different. Alright then, I don’t do them at all. At least not in the UK.

The reasons for this are many and varied but the primary one is that as someone who still struggles to come to terms with the fact that I’m actually getting away with writing for a living, the idea that people would actually take time out of their busy lives to come and see me in the flesh simply because I am an ‘author’ that they like does not actually compute. That’s not false modesty, it’s fact.

There is however, an exception to this and it’s one which has in many respects, crept up on me. Because for some bizarre reason, my books are becoming increasingly popular abroad and if an overseas publisher invites me, I always go and I always sign. And I love it!

I mention this now because I have just returned from St. Petersburg where I did a shed load of PR to launch the Russian translation of Wings of a Sparrow.

This was actually my third visit to the city and I really do love it there which is ironic given that I spent 18 years helping to repel the might of the Soviet Union as a member of Her Majesties armed forces. To say it the trip was a blast is an understatement and as always, it was a series of brilliant experiences punctuated with the odd bout of terror. Let me tell you, being driven at speed through the suburbs of a Russian city by four blokes you’ve never seen before and no idea of your destination certainly focusses the mind!

Of course as always, I had nothing to worry about because that’s just the way things are done over there. Indeed, everyone I met was amazingly warm and generous and all of the signings and events were brilliant. So much so in fact, that plans are already afoot to go back next year. This time equipped with some better Russian language skills I hope!

readers, film, ebooks, itunes, amazon, blog, publishing, author, writing, top dog, brimson, screenwriting, the crew, green street, elijah wood, leo gregory, charlie hunnam, essex boysThe success of the trip has however, got me thinking. For with Wings of a Sparrow and The Crew due to hit the bookshelves of the UK before the end of November and both Top Dog and We Still Kill The Old Way heading for filming within the next six months, has the time come to actually think about doing some signings over here?

Or would that, as I suspect and indeed, fear, be too pretentious?

.

Wings of a Sparrow will be published by Caffeine Nights Publishing on October 21st. It is available to pre-order from Amazon by clicking here. If you would prefer an eBook, you can download it now via here.

Further information can be found at dougiebrimson.com