The Final Ramble – 2020

Unprecedented is probably the biggest understatement to describe this year but somehow we face the end of it.

Reflecting can do strange things to one’s thoughts. The future, the now and the past all come to mind. What we’ve been through as individuals and together will shape our lives maybe for many years to come and I won’t lie, back in March even I thought this fragile society we live in could possibly collapse – it came near but not near enough because we dug our heels, stayed indoors and got through. We dealt and most of us tried to make do while others suffered. Still good folks out there are suffering and its important to think of those in need no matter what time of the year it is.

There have been so many ups and downs, it really has been a rollercoaster and not for one second do I regret carrying on with this blog, carrying on producing content and overcoming everything to publish my 6th book. I wouldn’t have met folks like you if I didn’t and not to mention the loyal folks who have seen this blog rise from absolute zero. All of you make me somebody – perhaps my dream in all of this. The rewards have formed into a hopeful and promising future, I’m still only on the first few rungs of the author ladder but I’m getting there. Armed with a dream I’ve had since the age of 12 and you guys, the loyalists who somehow see what I see, together a vision shared is one dreamed. I just made that up but it sounds pretty epic and let’s hope better days are just that.

Thank you for joining me this year, wherever you are have a safe end to 2020, be kind to yourself and others, you, they and we deserve it. Even though you’ll probably be busy over the coming weeks, I urge you to check back here on Christmas day. I’ll sign this post off with a quote I first laid down back in 2017, some thing’s don’t change, they just get better…

Weekly Ramble #91

Looking back at my debut novel these past few days has presented a range of emotions. From cringe to admiration all the way to evolution. Like all art it captures a moment in time and also accurately relays the creators frame of mind and their ability in such a moment. It might not read as fluidly as my more recent works and I’ll admit it’s got all the usual ‘debuty’ attributes of an author figuring out their words but that story even now is solid as a rock. Back then I had that same fire I still have only now it burns brighter.

For what once stood as 6 lined pages of scratchy writing telling a story based on a dream I had way back when I was 14, Open Evening became my entrance into everything that stands today. I sometimes forget the before, we all do while striving for a better future.

Just what business do I have going back to revisit old works? This time of the year I always update the URL’s and links in all my works but this time I thought I would give Open Evening a little polish. Now when something is released into the world of publishing it kind of no longer belongs to the creator but the wonder of modern publishing allows some licence to improve existing works. Truthfully my writing style back then (2015) seems so far removed from my standard today and I guess above all that’s a wonderful sign of progress. You can trace my evolution as a story teller chronologically in all of my works which is voyage of discovery in it’s own right. These books will be around for a lot longer than me and the hope is perhaps some day someone follows that evolution as a reader. That paper trail I leave behind will hopefully represent me more than personality ever could. Maybe that’s how our legends are built.

Weekly Ramble #89

November is a strange and long month. I’ve always called it the month of lethargy and it is in some senses. It just keeps going. The sky is normally grey and the weather turns along with the nights that seem endless, much like this year. And what a strange year this has been.

I’m still quite hopeful that quite possibly my best news is yet to appear. One is allowed to be optimistic and of course vague as the ace up my sleeve is paper thin, but it’s still an ace. Perhaps all my efforts have been building to something bigger, that’s the hope and hope is something that has kept me going time and time again throughout the slog that 2020 has been. Keep reviewing books and good things will happen, keep blogging even when everyone was taken over or distracted by fear and good things have happened. It’s turned out to be the biggest period of growth and success I’ve known to the point where others are noticing. Supporters are returning week in week out – this ramble series, the most viewed normally each week. Folks that care and perhaps even want me to succeed, ah the dream. Not once has this writing, blogging and social media-ing deal ever felt like work, although I treat it that way, if something get’s a good reception I just go with it and hope things stick.

All I have tried to do is carry on and support others like I wish to be supported. The give as good as you get philosophy but perhaps flipped around although my expectations are always grounded. We’ll see what happens next because that ace beckons…

Weekly Ramble #88

Crossing the 600 follower mark is truly a noteworthy achievement. From every part of my heart, not just the bottom, thank you for following this blog so it could get to this moment.

When I was much younger, we’re going back to the very early years of when I used to just be a kid staying up and reading past bedtime, I only really wanted to be one thing when I was older; someone. The day in day outer’s who like the post’s on this blog; many who blog nearly daily themselves with pictures, stories, reviews, current events, book tag stuff, craft stuff and even a few political pieces – I feel like I’m someone to them.

Those day in day outers combined with followers who supported this blog from the very start over 6 years ago combined with those just showing up and those who I’ve connected with on the way through all the years – that’s you, loyal cultured reader. It means so much to feel like my words are being read. This blog has become my number 1 platform because of that support. Long may it continue, and those who see something in me, I don’t know what, thank you, wholeheartedly. I’ll keep chasing the words if you help me catch them in moments like this.

Change the culture

Never did I think I’d know something well enough to see through it and realise there’s a culture that needs changing. Of course what I think like anyone else is just an opinion and not fact, remember that, but after many years of being published I’ve made an observation of something that I believe needs to be changed. Whether it be through lack of awareness or even lack of knowledge, all the way to ignorance, there is a huge step missing in the culture of modern day self publishing.

Now anyone who enters any arena and achieves an eventual level of expertise might inadvertently change the culture just by enduring that journey. Some changes can be natural like evolution – a change nobody see’s but then some changes need a little encouragement.

Right now we are in a boom period for publishing, especially of the do it yourself persuasion. No longer are the gate keepers controlling content. The online world that has evolved and evolved again is driven by content and most probably these big time publishers and literary agents cannot keep up with starry-eyed story tellers who are pumping out thousands of books, their dreams, their visions brought to life before their eyes. Some are pure treasure and probably good enough for any pro publishers interest. Some might not be but are still a good effort anyway and contribute to the literary industry no matter. No longer are authors waiting to hear back from agents leaving them in limbo or having their work destined for the slush pile, in effect that slush pile is now on Amazon and it’s fighting back – it’s great, it’s richly diverse and it’s there for anyone.

There just seems to be selfless disregard for the industry so many of these published authors are entering, and I’m not putting labels on any particular group of authors but every day I see it, authors old and new blindly sharing the link, sharing the link, sharing the link and then getting down because nobody bought the book and let alone reviewed it. The cycle just repeats. That definition of madness comes to mind.

This culture of over self promotion and nothing else is something I have an ambition to address. Yes we all need to get our stuff out there but there is other stuff out there too and authors can promote themselves by supporting others. I choose not to address this because I am an activist, not because I am some kind of wannabe hero or do I even want to stir a debate, fuck debates online. I want this to change because in the past two and half years I have embraced and supported fellow authors probably more than I have supported myself, and the reward – more than any success I had before that time. It’s done way more good for me that I could possibly describe and I want that good to happen to others!

Just how do these authors think they are going to sell their own book if they don’t support books themselves? That whole being an island thing just goes round like a broken record. Authors looking for that quick fix to sell – there isn’t one. All they constantly want is reviews and sales – this is a just a marathon that never ends because no author will ever be satisfied with the amount of sales and reviews they get, but the truth is, this year for the first time in my life as I writer I felt satisfied. In July I broke my sales record and then I broke it again in September. I won’t be promoting my work with effort for at least four months now. I don’t need to, I’ve got enough and so my focus moves back home, to supporting other authors and a little writing. Why? Because I love books, I love stories and that’s all it needs to be. More authors need to love other books too. You probably have time to write one, so you have time to read and review a few, at least. Give back, trust me, just look at the graphic I shall finish this piece with. You can near enough pin point the moment I started supporting other authors.

Weekly Ramble #87

If there wasn’t any social media I would still be writing, period. Recently I’ve been seeing more and more authors venting their frustrations because it feels like they are not selling anything or being listened to online. Is that what really matters in all of this?

I’ve vented many of my laments on here before, the whole reverting to zero thing is something all of us as creators must get used to. Just because you expected one thing and got another doesn’t mean the result was a failure. Selling hundreds of books and getting thousands of follows is great, sure, that’s an ideal world type of situation but does it really foster any type of fulfilment. If I were to rephrase that I would say selling the right book to the right person and getting the right engagement is way more fulfilling and important than getting larger numbers.

Because you had a bad book promo run or a stint of nobody liking your tweets is a paper thin reason to walk away from something as great as writing. That desire and dream you had perhaps long ago is stronger than that and so are you. For me this journey started at aged 12 in front of a Windows 98 computer on a rainy day. I’m a long way from that now because all good things and results in authoring/blogging take time and work.

Because you wrote a book and advertised it everywhere for nobody to buy it is an opportunity, not a failure. Do this for the writing and the journey your words take; everything else, no matter how much you try to get them; Retweets, follows and sales, they are not the measure of success because they are mostly out of your control so let it go. The rat race of social media will never ever go away, that feeling of chasing is constant – don’t let it bother you because there are stories out there someone wants. Stories that come from your energy and passion which deserves way more attention. Don’t give up. The greatest opportunity we have is in those words.

Weekly Ramble #86

Reviewing 41 books in just over 10 months is up there with 2020’s finest moments for me. These days book reviews are the anchor of premier content for this blog and they make the whole thing seemingly tick. Not only do they provide content that an audience likes but with book reviews comes a plethora of opportunity.

Although I’ve said writing more books is probably the best advice I can give for marketing, first of all you have to convince people to invest in you before they’ll invest in any of those books and so comes that opportunity. Reviewing books by fellow authors will get you more personal investment than any marketing trick or tip out there. It proves you want to contribute to the industry and be a part of it. You’ll be seen in a trustworthy light, and with trust comes loyalty. This will take time and all good things do.

Let’s face it, if your an author you know the struggle to get reviews, if your a blogger you know the struggle to get reads, I know it too and so I set out to fight back by helping others as I would wish to be helped – that’s all this is and the road to being taken as a genuine and respected figure in blogging and authoring is paved by giving back. The best forms of engagement rely on being genuine, honest and giving without expectation. I’ll say that word again trust. Commenting on another blogger’s post will sometimes make their day and most of us know how much a good review can help an author’s general mood.

And what do I expect in return – well here’s the wonderful thing, I actually expect nothing back because reviewing and helping authors is done out of mutual feeling so if I get anything out of it, that’s a bonus. This whole deal is a state if mind and importantly above all I’m reading wonderful books – something I have loved doing most of my life. If you can fashion a passion into a worthwhile cause then you are a better person for it. There have even been better outcomes than selling books or getting reviews because now I regularly connect with authors through email, twitter and this blog. Some just want to talk while others run ideas by me, not that I know much but I’m happy to help.

To all the authors I have connected with through reviews and social media endeavours, you were the one’s who got me interested in your work and pushed me to this achievement so thank you. Where do we go from here? Well the year isn’t out yet so you can expect this Hall of Information blog to do what it always does, to review more books!

Weekly Ramble #85

Nothing beats the thrill of a story unfolding as you write it. As much as planning can be fulfilling, there’s a certain organic creativity that comes with seeing a tale come to life in front of your own imagination.

Even with this current novella I’ve got back into, after starting it late last year I don’t actually know where it’s going in some respect which to me is thrilling. It also shows that sometimes we’re not consciously in control because the ideas that follow suite appear from the deep imagination. They are normally led by character and setting, something that’s always established early in my works so maybe there is some truth to stories writing themselves.

My reasons for delving back into this one may become apparent eventually but recently I’ve learned as a writer and a blogger to go where the demand is. If there is a need and want for something then sit your ass on that pony of opportunity as it walks by. Plus it’s also good to get into an already established project.

This is supposed to be ‘off season’ but things have changed this year and so I’ve loaded up and got out there again into the voyage of book writing. Currently I’m gonna need five life times until I might actually be done with everything and that’s purpose above all, without it we’re nothing. Truthfully, this has been a year of social media stuff for me and I’m actually happier without that right now and just writing is where I want to be – it’s what I do all this for anyway. In terms of that novella, watch this space.

This year I pledged to review one book more than 2019’s grand total of 40, without realising because my head is either in a book or a writing project I am about to achieve that goal of 41 indie books reviewed! This has been a foundation and pillar to near enough all of my success. Maybe we’ll get to near 50 by the year’s end, either way achieving that before the end of November is huge!

Weekly Ramble #81

September is finally here. For many, this a month that 2020 has been building to and where some perceived things would return to normal. That old normal is still far away but we’re carrying on through it. To all those going into the unknown this month, good luck and you are not alone.

Right now in all my social media author blogging endeavours I feel like the thrusters are to the max and I’m nearly three quarters down the runway. Take off is apparently imminent and this year from the very start I have pushed and pushed and pushed. From book promotions, to blogging, reviews and even Twitter which is approaching the 4000 follower mark. I have thrown near enough everything at trying to get a bigger better and more engaged following. Of course lock down gave me time to do this which I seized along with some fantastic encouragement from the acquaintances I’ve come to know, old and new. Thanks for the support everyone.

Every ounce of my efforts have been with my 6th book release in mind, that is along with the networking part of social media which is turning out to be mostly fun – connecting with others seems to be more satisfying than selling books and book sales seem to be happening a lot more now. August was my most successful non book promo month for sales pretty much ever. What did I do different? I just blogged more, tweeted more and engaged more. Folks invest in you before they even consider your work. This also led to the best ever month I’ve had on twitter – 500 followers were gained. As I said the whole thing is being turned up to the max. All of this will be relayed in a growing guide book which I plan to put out next year sometime.

September was always going to be important to me. It’s possibly my biggest month ever in authoring so far. Book 6 is a sequel and a 4th book in a series, I’m not expecting a huge amount of sales, 15 on release will be redemption and satisfaction all at once. Either way 2020 has been one hell of journey….

Weekly Ramble #71

Everything feels boring at the moment. Social media has gone stale and seems to be the same broken record playing over and over again. As an introvert I’ve never had a problem with being confined to just my own thoughts but when you confine everyone else at the same time, there’s the problem. Maybe because the whole flock is bored too it’s started some vacuum of mundane repetitiveness.

Twitter for me right now has hit rock bottom in my opinion, my following and those I follow are saturated by the writing community which is overall good but I need to branch out. I’ve muted so many writing community hashtags to try and avoid the monotonous repeat of every writers lift or follow train. How can a room full of millionaires appear to be individually rich when their numbers are all the same, everyday?

I turned off the Prime Minister’s brief last night and substituted it for a few hours in Skyrim. My opinion of the authority dwindles as we try to navigate these pain in the ass times which need to fuck off. This isn’t some depressive slump or episode, I’m fine, trust me, but it’s like what someone once said to me;

‘It will always be them and never you…’ 

Wise words…