Category Archives: publishing

5 ways for authors to handle bad reviews.

author,writing,review,amazon,ebook,self publishingFor any writer, be it of book, script, article or blog, reviews are not just important, they are vital.

This is especially true of those just setting out along the rocky path of penmanship and who have followed the self-published author route.

However, as much as we’d like every review to be a glowing endorsement of our creativity, the reality is that not everyone is going to like what we produce. Sadly, those readers are increasingly happy to hit the internet and slaughter both a book and its author if they feel disappointed or worse, cheated.

That is their right of course, they are customers after all, but make no mistake, when this happens to you (and it will happen) it hurts. Bad. After all, if you’ve put your heart and soul into a book, having the former ripped from your chest and publicly stamped on is not exactly a barrel of laughs.

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Just one of many I’ve had over the years.

Yet the sad fact is that no matter how good a writer you are, bad reviews are an inevitability and dealing with them goes with the territory. 

So how do you do it?
  1. Accept them for what they are: an individual opinion. Yes, they’re tough to accept and trust me when I tell you that a bad review can eat away at you forever. However, if you’re happy to wallow in the affirmation of a 5* review, you’re got to learn to take the 1* criticism. 
  2. Never respond. Whilst it’s always tempting to rip into a bad reviewer like a rabid dog, leaving aside the fact that it’s bad manners, it’s also inviting trouble. Trolls love a good author spat and if they get hold of you they can do more damage to both your book and your career than you can ever imagine so don’t give them that opening.
  3. Develop a thick skin, and fast. The more books you produce, the more negative reviews you’re going to get. Conversely, you’re also going to get more positive reviews so keep re-reading those to balance things out.
  4. Be honest. Reviews aren’t just feedback, they’re market research so if you’re getting more bad than good, it might well be that there is actually some truth in what’s being said. So whereas good reviews will always tell you what works, bad ones will often tell you the rest. Use both as learning tools and use that information to help you make your next book better.
  5. Enjoy them. Even a bad review means that someone has read your book, YOUR book! Be proud of that and remember, not only does each and every review push your book up the amazon rankings, it also means income. Why do you think authors are so desperate for them? Even bad ones.

Away from books, my next movie, the thriller Three Greens, is moving swiftly toward production with casting of the major roles currently underway. In addition, I am thrilled to announce that another script has been given the green light and with finance in place, is also heading toward casting.

I can’t say much about this new project, but I can guarantee that it’s going to cause quite a stir!

@dougiebrimson

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

football, soccer, comedy, cost of football, manchester united, liverpool, derby, watfordJust in case you didn’t already know, all of my books and DVD’s are available from both Amazon and iTunes.

Further information at dougiebrimson.com

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Why is publishing so scared of Lad-Lit?

As 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 a very famous and very working class Cockney female author 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 write primarily about blokey things and to those who don’t know me, I 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 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 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’. The truth however, as ‘hoolie-lit’ conclusively proved, is that they do.

Quite why this incredibly patronising view of a section of male readers continues to impact on the industry escapes me but from where I sit, there is a lot 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. Keep them happy and you 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 money to be made. Lots of money.

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 are available from both Amazon and iTunes.

Further information can be found at dougiebrimson.com

 

The ‘art’ of writing.

Of the numerous emails that land in my inbox, a good number involve the issue of advice.

Recently, well since I’ve been blogging anyway, these mails have actually been for me suggesting various things to do to myself that are anatomically impossible which merely proves that women do indeed have a quite nasty side to them. However, prior to this, many have actually asked for my advice on writing or making that leap from the laptop to the shelves of Waterstones.

Given that I never set out to be an author nor have I really even studied the craft -as many people have pointed out!- I have often wondered why that is. After all, I am not and probably never will be a Booker Prize winning novelist and whilst I enjoy what I do and always put in 110%, the truth is that I am definitely not one of those people who is driven to write (make no mistake, the day that my 6th lottery number pops out of that machine is the day I’ll have typed my last letter and from that point on, life will revolve around doing as little as possible!).

I suspect the answer lies in the fact that unlike many other authors, I am reasonably easy to contact but there have also been occasions when there has definitely been an element of ‘if he can do it, so can I so I might as well ask him how he did it’. To be honest, I have no problem with that largely because there is indeed a degree of truth in it. I’ve always been happy to admit that I did indeed ‘luck’ into writing and I although I have done better than many so-called ‘established’ writers in terms of both output and sales (you’d be surprised how few books some of these apparently successful authors actually sell) I most definitely have no delusions about my position on the Great British literary ladder. As someone once suggested, it is firmly in the ‘bungs on the feet at the bottom’ category.

However, to return to the point, as long as someone has taken the trouble to write to me, I have always responded. Not simply because I think I should but because I hope that one day someone I set on the rocky road of penmanship will strike it big and I’ll get to appear on some kind of TV show celebrating their literary achievements. Let’s face it, chances are that’ll be the only way I manage it!

But recently, a few things have happened which have started to make me wonder about the wisdom of such a policy. Not because I have suddenly started to think that being helpful is a bad idea, but because increasingly, I am being contacted by people who have asked me very specific questions. Usually involving the names and contact details of agents, publishers and even TV producers.

To be fair, many of these requests have come from American authors looking to break into the UK market rather than from ‘newbies’ looking to get a foot in the door but having worked in the ‘creative’ world for some time now, I have learnt two very important lessons. First, contacts are everything and second, the most valuable currency of all are ideas. Which is why both are much sought after and where possible, stolen. Indeed, I could tell you some stories about certain………. no, best not.

However, the fact remains that whilst I have become (almost) used to the gut-wrenching feeling of being shafted by people who work in TV, I am now starting to feel the same way about writing and that has to stop. If only because it eats into my time and therefore costs me money.

So whilst I will happily continue to help anyone who is trying to break into publishing or anything else for that matter, I am no longer so receptive to requests from anyone who has ever earned a penny (or a cent) from their writing. Unless of course any kind of reciprocal arrangement or better still, a fee is involved!

Pondering this last night, the thought struck me that rather than upset 50% of the population with another diatribe about women and/or football, it might be a good idea to use this blog to offer up a bit of advice to those looking to set out on the rocky road of penmanship for the first time. It is the same advice I use as the basis of every talk I ever give on writing and is based on six very basic rules which come in a very strict order.

1.   If you cannot take criticism, do NOT write. No matter how good a writer you think you are, at some point, you will have to show your work to someone else be it a partner, friend, agent or publisher.

Trust me, no matter how good a writer you are, sooner or later someone is going to come back with a negative response and it hurts. Some can take it, others can’t. The key is to take all criticism as constructive and learn from it.

But if you think it’s bad when you first start out, wait until the presses have rolled and the reviews begin. Any author who says they never read their reviews is a bloody liar and I’ve been lucky enough to have some awesome ones in my time (‘The best book ever written on football hooliganism’ Daily Mail) but I’ve also had some horrors. The worst being simply ‘Yeah right. Now fuck off’ courtesy of Time Out.

The fact that both of these were for the very same book proves many things and whilst the initial inclination following a bad review is to either hang yourself or track down the offending individual (I took the latter course of action with Time Out but that’s another story) the simple truth of the matter is that they are just one persons opinion. But as any publisher will tell you, any review is better than no review and that is very true.

2.   Write what you know. It is an old adage, but it is absolutely spot on. Not only does it save on research time, but if you know the subject well, it will come across on the page. Conversely if you don’t, you will spend all of your time having to deal with people who will take great delight in pointing out your mistakes (see above!)

3.   Join a local writing group. You might think they are full of geeky nerds or middle aged women seeking to fill their time (and to be fair, some are) but a good one can provide huge amounts of advice and encouragement.

Most will also have regular guest speakers and a good one will be both inspirational and a source of very useful information about the writing and the publishing process. Never forget, getting into print is incredibly difficult and so the more advice you can obtain from people who are at the coal face or who have been through it, the better.

4.   Never write to get rich. Very few (and I mean, VERY few) published authors earn a living wage from their work. The days of huge advances for first time authors are long gone folks.

There is only really one reason to write and that’s because you want to do it. If it’s good enough, everything else will follow. How you can make that happen however, is an entirely different blog!

5.   Write, write, and write. It’s a fairly obvious thing to say but the more you write, the easier it becomes. It’s a skill and it needs constant honing.  

And finish everything you start. You might know it’s rubbish from the end of the first chapter but trying to turn it into something half decent is a great exercise and fabulous experience. There is also the very real chance that as you are working, something will click into the creative box in your brain which you will be able to use on something else.

One other point I will make here, in my opinion there is no such thing as writers block. As far as I am concerned it’s a myth that was invented by writers to cover up laziness or lack of creativity. If you get stuck, it’s simply because your idea doesn’t work and you should have worked that out at the planning stage anyway.

6.   Most importantly of all, enjoy it! It’s supposed to be fun you know and if it isn’t, why bloody do it?

So what are you waiting for?

@dougiebrimson

football, comedy, humour, rivals, derby, soccer, premier league, championship, manchester united, chelsea, liverpool I desperately need to do some work on my Amazon author page  this page, primarily by adding some new titles to it! So I’m happy to pass on news that there will be at least two, maybe even three new ones coming in 2018! 

In the meantime, you can buy all the existing books including the football comedy Wings of a Sparrow and the #1 thrillers,The Crew and Top Dog from either Amazon or iTunes.  

Please click on the relevant link for more information.

 
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