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In two months' time, on 12th of May, it will be the first anniversary of the release of my debut novel, Gods and Conquerors . In tha...

New Covers!

In two months' time, on 12th of May, it will be the first anniversary of the release of my debut novel, Gods and Conquerors.

In that time, hundreds (yes, hundreds!) of copies have been downloaded on Kindle or purchased in paperback, it has been reviewed 10 times on Goodreads with an average rating of 4.1, and AmyBucklesBookshelf.co.uk has given it an absolutely glowing review which I read back to myself whenever I'm feeling a bit down. It's been lovely.

But if you said to the average person, "Have you read Gods and Conquerors yet?" They would probably ask you what you were on about. If you went into your local bookshop and asked them where they keep their books by up-and-coming writer Aaron Kane Heinemann, they would have no choice but to turn you away. Despite hundreds (yes, hundreds!) of people having downloaded and read my two books, even combined they haven't sold more than a thousand copies.

I probably shouldn't have told you that. Doesn't matter too much, I suppose.

Anyway, the point is, I'm not as successful a self-published author as I would like to be. So how do I change that?

Well, one way to change it, according to the self-publishing forums, is to create an "author brand". Have a running theme across your covers - the fonts, the imagery, etc. - so that your readers recognise your books and fill their bookshelves with them, and encourage all their friends to do the same.

So, that's what I'm doing this year. Yes, this whole blog post has been about some new covers for my two books - how anticlimactic is that? Story of my life, I'm afraid, folks. Here are the new covers, in all their glory.



One of the other tips for success in self-publishing is to release a book every year. I'm not sure I could manage that, but I'm working on another short story collection at the moment. We'll see how that goes.

Have a nice day, everyone.

It's been a while since I posted a review roundup hasn't it! Some would say it's because I haven't been reading much, so...

Book Reviews - February '18


It's been a while since I posted a review roundup hasn't it! Some would say it's because I haven't been reading much, so it hasn't seemed worth it to post a roundup, but I would call that cynicism. If we try hard enough, you and I can just pretend that I read these books in February, because I'm a super fast reader and I read a lot and that's a fact.


Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell

"Our lives are not our own. We are bound to others, past and present, and by each crime and every kindness, we birth our future."

I bought this book for about 50p from a charity table at Sainsbury's. It doesn't have a back cover and it looks like someone used it as a doorstop for a few years, but it was readable and that's all that matters.

Cloud Atlas is 6 stories in one. Its overarching story is that of one soul travelling through time and inhabiting different bodies, but each life it lives is a new and interesting story about the way humans treat each other. Particularly, the way in which we enslave or bully or generally rule over each other.

At first, I was a bit bored. I found it hard to get into or care about. But as the stories went on I found myself caring more about some than others, and it was the variety that really helped me get into it. By the end, I loved it.

But it was still a bit too long for me. I'm a fan of being concise, and long books take me a long time to read because I can't face reading them on the train. It's not exactly a deal breaker, but it doesn't endear me to a book, when it's thicker than my nan.

4/5.


Outer Dark - Cormac McCarthy

"Ive seen the meanness of humans till I dont know why God aint put out the sun and gone away."

Culla and Rinthy Holme are brother and sister, and we join them holed up in a cabin waiting for their child to be born. Culla is ashamed, so when Rinthy gives birth, he leaves the baby in the woods while she sleeps, telling her it has died. But Rinthy won't be fooled, and when she discovers the lie, she sets off across the country to find her child.

This is McCarthy's second novel, published in 1968, and even though it came early in his career, you can see that he always had the talent he has today. It has the same darkness, sparseness and inimitable style as all his other works, even if it doesn't have some of the action to grab you and shake you around.

A must-read for any McCarthy fan, but not necessarily for someone who's looking for a first McCarthy read. For that, I'd recommend something like No Country for Old Men.

3.5/5.


The God Delusion - Richard Dawkins

This is a 400 page argument against belief in God. It's not nasty or belittling, it's just matter-of-fact rebuttals to the most common arguments that religious people make that God exists. But you could be as nice as you wanted in a book like this, and it would still be controversial, because people get so angry about this stuff.

Sometimes Dawkins goes on a bit and says in many, many words what could have been said in a few. But most of the time, he articulates very well those points which many of us might have wondered over the years but never really put into words. Like, why do we have to tip-toe around "respecting" (i.e. not questioning) other people's beliefs, no matter how little evidence they have for those beliefs? And why is it okay to indoctrinate children into life-changing religion, when they're clearly not old enough to make informed decisions about it themselves?

Did you know that the percentage of people who identify as atheists or agnostics in the UK has increased from 14% to 42% in the last 55 years?

I don't like debating my beliefs anymore. I did when I was a teenager, but now I just think that as long as you're not hurting anyone else, you can believe what you want. The trouble is, a lot of people use their beliefs as an excuse to hurt people.

4/5.

GIVEAWAY NOW CLOSED. CONGRATULATIONS TO THE 20 WINNERS AND BETTER LUCK NEXT TIME EVERYONE ELSE! 😁 Welcome to 2018, DestroyedorDamag...

Goodreads Giveaway!


GIVEAWAY NOW CLOSED. CONGRATULATIONS TO THE 20 WINNERS AND BETTER LUCK NEXT TIME EVERYONE ELSE! 😁

Welcome to 2018, DestroyedorDamaged.com readers! (Hi mum!)

I thought I'd start the year with a gift to you all, but because Goodreads don't let you do Kindle giveaways outside the US, I'm just starting it with a gift to all you readers from the US instead 🤣.

Yes, from today until 4th Feb, if you're a US resident with a Goodreads account and a Kindle, you can enter to win one of 20 copies of my debut sci-fi novel, Gods and Conquerors!

Gods and Conquerors tells the story of four people who are sent on a one-way trip to a planet known to be inhabited by intelligent life, only to find the planet a scorched wasteland when they arrive. It has been described as "truly astounding" (Amy's Bookshelf), and you can click here to read more about it.

So, what have you got to lose? Click here to enter for free right now!

(See Goodreads for full terms and conditions.)

I missed October, so I've squashed two months together. I know I've been a terrible blogger, and I've received a number of ...

Book Reviews - October & November '17


I missed October, so I've squashed two months together. I know I've been a terrible blogger, and I've received a number of e-mails begging for me to return, so here I am.

0 is a number.


Creating Character Arcs - K. M. Weiland

I read this book after seeing it mentioned on my favourite YouTube channel, Lessons from the Screenplay. Check out that guy's videos, they're great. I also read it on an iPad, which I wasn't a fan of. Just didn't feel right, reading on such a shiny screen.

Anyway, about this book. It's a good look at creating convincing characters who experience convincing changes in outlook as a result of the things that happen to them. It's all about the Lie your characters believe, the Truth that they need, the wound that made them like this...

I don't want to sound like a know-all, but I felt like a lot of this stuff was intuitive, like I already knew it but I just hadn't put it into words yet. That probably comes from reading a lot of good books - as any writer will tell you, if you read enough, it will become more and more easy to write well too. But still, there was also a lot of new stuff, a few "of course!" moments, and a couple of things I'd never even thought of before.

All in all, I'd say it's a very good book for anyone who calls themselves a writer. Especially if you like books that are badly edited - this one has loads of mistakes!

4/5.



The story of a collapsing family told from four points of view: 33-year-old Benjamin, with the meandering mind of a 3-year-old; Quentin, the son whose Harvard education was paid for by selling some of the family's land; Jason, the piece of shit son so obsessed with money that he'd steal it from his own family; and their servants, who put up with more of the family's shit than I ever could.

More stream of consciousness from Faulkner, clouding up the story. And more of me not knowing how to feel about it. When you're in the midst of it, it's frustrating because it will go on and on and you have no idea what's going on but you keep reading because you have faith that it will become clearer at some point, even though it doesn't seem that the author wants it to become clearer.

And it does. By the end of the book you pretty much understand everything that's happened, even if you were still lost halfway through. But I just wonder if there wasn't a way this story could have been told that was a lot more friendly to the reader, and less pretentious. Was the reward so great that it was worth dragging yourself through all that punishment?

Obviously a lot of people think so. This book is constantly appearing in top 100 lists, so people love it. And apparently, it's better on the second reading. I won't be reading it again any time soon, but I didn't dislike it. I just wasn't blown away.

3.5/5.



An anti-self-help book written by everyone's favourite mentalist. This book isn't about giving you a recipe to follow to achieve happiness, it's about all the ideas and thoughts that philosophers and writers have had over the last few millennia about how we can change our mindsets to live more happily.

So, instead of positive mental attitudes and asking the universe to give us what we want, we're advised to lower our standards and accept that sometimes things are going to go wrong, and that's ok, because we're prepared for it and we can just pick ourselves up and try again. Putting pressure on ourselves to try a load of different methods of forcing happiness is actually likely to achieve the opposite.

Just decide that everything is ok. If you do your best and things don't work out, accept that it didn't go your way and move on. Life is too short to aim for the stars and be crushed when we can't reach them. So stop worrying about things you can't control, and cherish the things that mean something to you while you have them.

I enjoyed the book overall, and the ideas inside it definitely wormed their way into my head. I feel like I can take something from it and be a bit more chilled about things now. But it was a bit too long - points were laboured and repeated until you felt like you'd been beaten into submission by them. I think it probably could have been half as long and still got its points across.

Also, the last hundred pages are about death. How to die well, how to be okay with your own death, how one might feel about becoming terminally ill... I went into those thinking it would be a bit much, and a depressing way to end a book; but it was okay in the end. Not as bad as I expected.

As with all things Derren Brown does, it's still great despite any minor flaws.

4/5.

Sorry I haven't been around all month. I meant to write a Writing IRL post - it was really important, since I promised to do it mon...

Book Reviews - September '17


Sorry I haven't been around all month. I meant to write a Writing IRL post - it was really important, since I promised to do it months ago - but I didn't. I don't have a good excuse, I've just let you down. I don't know if this makes it any better, but today, my book is 0% off on Amazon. That's right, it's only FULL PRICE! Go check it out.

Anyway, let's get on with this.



This is a lovely little story about love and friendship and the weird personality traits we all have. I loved it, so I read it all in one day. It made my heart feel warm.

One of my favourite things about it is that Kaufman let his imagination run wild and allowed himself to be silly. I have the capacity to be very silly, but I rarely let myself do so in my writing because I'm worried that I won't be taken seriously. It's really important to me that I'm one of those pretentious writers that write meaningful things. But you can be taken seriously and still be a bit silly, if you write something good. Like this.

A lot of people on Amazon and Goodreads just can't do silly though. They don't have the sense of humour for it. It's quite amusing reading the reviews of people who didn't get it, but think that that gives them a reason to be angry with the book. How dare it be funny to some people when it didn't make me laugh?! Fuck you, book!

Anyway. I loved it. Would recommend to anyone who wants a light, quick, wholesome read.

5/5.



This is a Young Adult book which you might have heard of. In my experience, Young Adult books are generally too long, and they have mediocre writing and poorly formed, immature characters. This book is no exception.

It started out ok. It was fairly exciting, the characters were believable, there was stuff happening... then about 100 pages in, it slowed right down, and the characters became melodramatic and boring, and I was just left thinking that the book could have been shortened by about 50%.

I was also surprised that a book about racism could have so many stereotypes crammed in. Apparently, no white person has ever heard Happy Birthday by Stevie Wonder. So my life must have been a lie...

It wasn’t the worst thing I’ve ever read, and it does have an important message, and I hope it helps some people become more tolerant. It’s just not a great literary achievement, I'm afraid. And, saying that, I'm lucky that no one reads this blog, or I'd suffer a backlash in the comments like anyone who doesn't give it 5* on Goodreads. Seriously, people go mad.

3/5.



"It takes two people to make you, and one people to die. That's how the world is going to end."

Addie Bundren is dying. Outside, her son Cash is making her coffin, without even considering if she can hear it. When she dies, her husband will put her in that coffin and travel miles to bury her with her family, stinking out the towns he passes through and putting his entire family at risk.

We all know I love a moody book, a pretentious book, and especially a book with long sentences, southern US accents and dirty horses. But this didn't grip me, because half the time I was trying to understand what the characters were on about. It's definitely not the book's problem; if I were cleverer, I'd have caught on quicker.

The problem is all the stream of consciousness stuff. I get lost when a character is rambling on and changing subjects mid-sentence and obsessing over stuff that doesn't make sense. I had the same problem with Umbrella by Will Self. My attention span just isn't sufficient.

But it was good. Even if I had to Wikipedia it afterwards to make sure I got it all right. I did, pretty much.

3.5/5.

Wait a minute, that's not a book!  Well, I'd just like to sneak in a little mention for the new Queens of the Stone Age albu...

Book Reviews - August '17


Wait a minute, that's not a book! 

Well, I'd just like to sneak in a little mention for the new Queens of the Stone Age album too, since we're reviewing stuff. If you like good music, check out Villains. I am obsessed with it at the moment.

Anyway, let's get back to books.


Ready Player One - Ernest Cline

I was looking forward to reading Ready Player One, because everyone you talk to about it loved it. But I was horribly disappointed.

Most of my criticisms have already been written by a load of other reviewers. The references were shoe-horned in, and useless to the story. He was always telling us things, never showing us. He over explains everything - the first 60 pages are just lengthy explanations of the world, the OASIS, those embarrassing references. The writing was below average and the love story was cringeworthy.

And yes, those references really were as bad as people say. So obvious, so over-explained. It made me wonder who he was writing it for - if you want it just to be a nice nostalgia trip for people who lived through the 80s, why explain every reference to death? If you want to appeal to everyone, why make the references so specific to someone who lived in the 80s and had a very limited set of interests? Choose your audience, and stick to it.

I also have another gripe that I haven't seen anyone talk about. The main character (or maybe just the author, since it's clearly just about him) really wants us to know how TOLERANT he is. He wants a big old pat on the back for it. He meets this person for the first time thinking it will be a white man, and it's a black woman! Gasp! And he's totally OKAY with that! Wow, what a lovely guy. Then he finds out his love interest has a birth mark on her face! Oh no! But it's okay, because he thinks she's BEAUTIFUL! YAAAAAY! If you need to make such a big deal of being a nice, tolerant person, you're not nice at all, it's clearly just an act.

Then at one point, he says that the OASIS was the best thing to happen to black women, because in that virtual world they can pretend to be white men. WTF?

Anyway, I've gone on too long now. It wasn't the worst book ever because it had video game stuff and it was easy to read. The film might be better. I just found myself cringing the whole way through.

2/5.


Cities of the Plain - Cormac McCarthy

John Grady Cole (All the Pretty Horses) and Billy Parham (The Crossing) find themselves working together on a ranch in the conclusion to the fantastic Border Trilogy. John falls in love, and as one might expect from one of these books, it isn't going to be easy to find a Happily Ever After sitch. It might change both his and Billy's lives forever.

Just another brilliant, profound, emotional book from Cormac McCarthy. What can I say? I bloody love the man. He's a living legend.

The only thing I wasn't mad about was the epilogue. Right at the end it picked up again, but most of it was a bit rambly, philosophising for its own sake without regard for whether conversations like that actually ever happen. But still, it's all very deep and meaningful, so who can blame him for leaving it in? He loves a bit of it, I love a bit of it, we're all happy.

4.5/5.



Yes, this is my book, and I'm a self-centred dick for including it in this post, but I haven't sold a million copies yet, so I'm still trying to market it, okay? Give me a break.

@amybucklesbookshelf wrote a really lovely review of my book this week, and I'd encourage you to follow her on every social media channel you can find (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Blog). I'd also encourage you to read the review and to buy my book because it would make me very happy.

If you're a book blogger or a bookstagrammer or a Hollywood producer, I might be throw a copy at you to review and/or option for a multi-million dollar film deal. Get in touch and let's see what we can do.

The fifth post in the Writing IRL series. So, you've finally done it. You've written several books (and yes, you need to writ...

Writing IRL - Pros and Cons of Traditional Publishing

The fifth post in the Writing IRL series.

So, you've finally done it. You've written several books (and yes, you need to write several - unless you're some kind of godlike genius, which you're probably not, your first book is not likely to be good enough), and your latest is the one that proves that you're ready to be A Writer. This is the one that might make a great film, that will have people desperate to give 5 star reviews, that you'd be proud to hold in your hands and tell people you wrote.

But where do you go from here? Which is the best route to take - self publishing, or traditional?

Well, in this two-part IRL post, I'll be listing the ups and downs of both routes, as I see them, so that you can make an educated decision on which path you want to follow.

So, what's so special about traditional publishing?

You're in the hands of the professionals

You might remember how dramatic I was about self-publishing in the first half of this two-part post, and how I kept ramming it home how hard you'd have to work to be successful. You'd have to do your own marketing, find and fund your own editor, get your own cover designs…

Well, with traditional publishing, almost all of that is dealt with by someone with a lot more experience and knowledge of the business than you (probably) have. 

So you don't need to worry about whether the freelance editor you've found online is really just an idiot with a PayPal account who speaks English as a second language, and you don't need to design your own cover in Paint because you don't have the money to pay someone to do it for you, and you might not have to market the hell out of the bloody thing on the Internet, where no one wants to be sold a self-published book.

That's a HUGE plus.

I wish someone would handle my marketing for me.

As a result, you lose some control

What if you don't like the cover that has been designed for you by your lovely professionals? What if they ask you to change the title of your book because your one (which you're really attached to, by the way) doesn't work for them? 

What if there are clauses in the contract that make you feel very uncomfortable, but the only way you'll get published is to accept them?

By taking the traditional route, you give up a certain amount of control, which you might not be able to get back. So while it's nice that professionals will be steering the ship for you, you have to be aware of what you're letting yourself in for.

…and some money-making potential

Oh, and your royalties will be lower. A lot lower. You can earn 70% on Amazon, but you might only get 8% going the traditional route. 

Real-world percentages may vary, but it's worth thinking about. If you end up selling 100x more books going the traditional route because your marketing team got you on Richard and Judy's book club or something, then it's worth the royalty difference, surely? You become more successful than you ever could have been on your own.

But if not… Well, you could always get another job.


It's free

Unlike self-publishing, which is only free if you do it badly or know some very skilled people who owe you favours, traditional publishing really is free. 

All these experts have enough faith in your work to print it for you with their logo on it, so of course they're going to pay for the editing, the cover design, and any other up-front costs. You might be their next cash cow!

But it's incredibly difficult to get into

Have you seen all those memes people post on Facebook and Instagram in which J.K. Rowling looks smugly into the camera at some posh event, and the caption says something like, "J.K. Rowling was rejected 275 times before a publisher picked up the Harry Potter series, and now she's basically a goddess"?

While I won't deny that J.K. Rowling is cool, that's really not all that amazing a story. Everyone who tries to go the traditional route is rejected many, many times. The amazing part is if you're ever accepted at all.

I know, I know. There are some really shit books out there, published by some really big houses. I can't explain the logic of what is accepted instantly and what isn't (although I know it helps if you're a celebrity who wants to publish a shit book with your name all over it); I just know that if you're looking for a literary agent, you should expect to be rejected. And if you're going straight to publishers, you should expect to be rejected. 

I read once that literary agents accept about 1 in every 1000 submissions they're sent. How true that is, I'm not sure; but I can believe it.

And even if you're accepted, one day in the distant future, you still might not actually be published.

The chances of success are as slim as they could be, but the prizes are potentially bigger. So it's up to you whether you think the struggle is worth it.


So, to summarise…

The traditional route promises fame and fortune, and can (but won't necessarily) deliver. The only problem is getting there in the first place - it will be hard and long and you will be rejected before you're accepted. And that's only if you're good enough to ever be accepted.

This route is for people who want the bragging rights, people who have the patience to keep trying and trying for the grand prize, or people who know they can't do it on their own.

I sent a few queries to agents once. Probably about 10. I would say I heard back from about 8 of them, and only 1 of them was a personalised rejection written by a real person. It made my day, actually. She liked what I'd written, just not enough to represent it. So, y'know, even the rejections can feel good…

I'm sure no one has been wondering why I haven't posted a book review for a while. Well, worry not, because I'm going to ex...

Book Reviews - July '17


I'm sure no one has been wondering why I haven't posted a book review for a while. Well, worry not, because I'm going to explain the reason anyway!

It's partly because I don't want to find myself writing another big long review being horribly mean to someone, only to have them stumble across it. That's not cool. It's also partly because some books aren't interesting enough to inspire a long review, and who wants a whole blog post for one mini-review?

But mostly, it's because I want to spend more time writing fiction and less time writing reviews. I've mentioned before that my writing time is precious, so I want to use it wisely.

So, from now on, I'll post a monthly roundup of books I've read, with a short review for each. I might not even do it every month, because I'm a renegade who doesn't follow anyone's rules, not even my own. Deal with it.

Let's go.



Brandon Sanderson is really cool. He has a writing course you can watch for free on YouTube, and it's great. Check it out.

But I did not enjoy this book. It was cheesy, the protagonist was boring, the attempted comedy didn't work for me at all, and the weird fake swearing ("slontze!", "sparks!") was cringeworthy.

Sorry Brandon.

2/5.



I read this book in a day. That's the first time I've ever read a novel in a day.

Not that that's necessarily a comment on its quality. It was good, but not life-changing. It's just that I was on holiday and it was cloudy and there was not much better to do.

It was good though. I enjoyed it. Utterly detestable characters making thoroughly stupid decisions, which always kept the plot moving. And nice big words so you feel like you're reading a big thick book when really if they'd just used a normal font size it'd be like 100 pages shorter.

3.5/5.


 
No. Just no. I mean... I can't even bring myself to write about it again. If you really want to see what I thought about it, check out my Instagram post. The TL;DR is that this book should not have been published, at least not in its current form.

1/5.


 
The brilliant story of a bad husband and the mess he's left in when his wife goes missing on their anniversary.

I loved the film already, which ruined the book a bit because I knew what was going to happen. But still, it was gripping, and the writing is genuinely excellent. This deserves all the praise it gets, I think.

Those characters though, they're almost all despicable. That seems to be the theme for thrillers.

5/5.

The fifth post in the Writing IRL series. So, you've finally done it. You've written several books (and yes, you need to wri...

Writing IRL - Pros and Cons of Self-Publishing

The fifth post in the Writing IRL series.

So, you've finally done it. You've written several books (and yes, you need to write several - unless you're some kind of godlike genius, which you're probably not, your first book is not likely to be good enough), and your latest is the one that proves that you're ready to be A Writer. This is the one that might make a great film, that will have people desperate to give 5 star reviews, that you'd be proud to hold in your hands and tell people you wrote.

But where do you go from here? Which is the best route to take - self publishing, or traditional?

Well, in this two-part Writing IRL post, I'll be listing the ups and downs of both routes, as I see them, so that you can make an educated decision on which path you want to follow.

So, what's so special about self-publishing?

You have complete control.

When you self-publish, you have complete control over your book. You control the cover design, the release date, the title, the content, the layout, the marketing, everything.

If you're sure you know exactly what you're doing, this is a huge benefit. No one wants you to change your story, no one is taking a cut of your royalties, and everything is done on your terms.

But if you haven't the time, knowledge or desire to think of absolutely everything, then this might be a show-stopper. Can you design a brilliant cover yourself? Do you know someone who can? If not, are you willing and able to pay for one to be designed?

Have you found an editor who can turn your good writing into great writing? Have you had enough impartial feedback to know that this book is definitely ready for prime time? Have you already written a tantalising blurb and decided on the perfect keywords that will bring people to your book in the hundreds?

The answer to all of the above has to be yes. If it isn't, then perhaps it's not time to self publish, yet…

The chance of holding your finished, published book in your hands is 100%.

Going the traditional route means selling yourself and your work to agents, then to publishers, then waiting around while people read and reread and suggest changes to your book, until at some point in the future, maybe you get published. Maybe.

With self-publishing, if you've already decided your book is going to be released, there is nothing holding you back, so your book is definitely going to be published. You are going to hold it in your hands.

So if fame and fortune aren't as important to you as just getting your work out there for everyone to see, this is the way to go.


It's easy and (can be) free.

It's incredibly easy to self-publish. Some would say too easy, considering the amount of crap that gets published on Kindle. I use KDP, but there are loads of services out there, and they're all in competition to make theirs the easiest to use. So you can do it.

You also don't have to spend any money up front. With all the services I've researched, it's free to publish your book, you'll just have to pay a cut of your earnings (but you'd have to do that whichever route you took).

But because it can be easy and it can be free, that doesn't mean it's right. You still need to have your book edited by someone who knows what they're doing, even if you think your command of the English language is out of this world. There will be something you've missed, and if someone spots something big that they don't like in the first chapter of your book, they're not going to read the rest. If your best friend isn't a professional editor who'll edit your book for free, then you'll probably have to pay for that.

And then there's the cover, and the blurb, and the marketing. While these things can be free, they probably won't be if they're done right.

A real world example: I won't go into exact figures, but I spent hundreds of pounds getting Gods and Conquerors ready for publishing, and at time of writing, it hasn't made all of that money back. But I don't mind, because it's out there, I'm proud of it, and it achieved one of its purposes already.

I repeat: you're in charge of marketing.

Yes, it's good to be in control of your work, but have you really considered how you'll market the thing, when everyone in the world is trying to sell something?

Your book could be better than Pride and Prejudice, bigger than Crime and Punishment; but if no one reads it, you'll only feel Disappointment and Sadness.

You won't have a major publishing house buying ads for you. None of the big newspapers will be printing reviews of your work anytime soon. Richard and Judy are a long way from including you in their book club. So you need to be a master of social networking, or an expert on going viral, or just the most popular person in the world, to make a dent in the Amazon bestseller list.

At time of writing, I have 330 followers on Instagram and 370 on Twitter. I post to #bookstagram every day and engage other bookstagrammers like a normal person, not a spammy marketing bot. I tweet, and advertise (a little bit), and even offer free copies of Gods and Conquerors to people who will review it. I'm no marketing expert, and I know I have a lot of room to improve here; but still, I reckon only about 2% of my followers even know I'm a writer, let alone that I have a new book out.

And even though the number of copies I have sold is in the hundreds, only 6 people have reviewed it on Amazon, and 3 on Goodreads. I'm pretty sure I haven't even convinced all of my friends to buy a copy!

People are busy, and there's a lot of media out there stealing their attention. Getting them interested in your work is the hardest part, in my opinion.


But, after all that, you might get rich!

But you probably won't. Without looking it up, can you name 5 millionaires who made their money self-publishing books?

You shouldn't self-publish because you want to be rich and famous, because you probably never will be.

But you could be. It's not impossible. You just have to work very hard. When you self-publish, the power is very much in your hands.

…And that's about it.

That's all I can think of at this point. To summarise: with self-publishing, you have the potential to get a lot of readers, on your own terms, at your own pace. But to really succeed, you have to work very hard and really know what you're doing, because no one else is going to do it for you.

This is the solution for people who want to put in that work, or those who just want to be published because they love writing, and not because they need fame and fortune. If you don't fit into either of those categories, self-publishing might not be for you.

Stay tuned for part 2 next month: Pros and Cons of Traditional Publishing.

If you've read my new paperback ( Gods and Conquerors ) , or if you follow me on Instagram, or if you can just read the picture abov...

About The Proposal


If you've read my new paperback (Gods and Conquerors), or if you follow me on Instagram, or if you can just read the picture above, you'll know that I used the dedication page to propose to my girlfriend.

And before I go on: she said yes. We're happier than we've ever been. Thanks for asking.

I've had a lot of questions since then, so I thought I'd answer them in a little blog post. Saves me repeating myself, over and over and over (though I'm sure I still will anyway).

What made you think of it?

We've always bonded over our love of books - in fact, one of the (many, many) reasons Eleanor went out with me in the first place was that I got my phone out and showed her my first book on Amazon while I was doing a terrible drunken job of chatting her up - so my proposal had to be bookish. I thought about trying to get myself published the traditional way, but that would have been years away, if it ever happened at all; so I self-published, and I did it right now, because there's no better time.

How did it happen?

We've had a stressful few months with trying to move house and stuff, so it was a good excuse for me to say we needed some alone time to just have fun together. So I organised a date day, and we went up to London to see a show and eat loads of food. At one point in the day, in private in a dimly lit bar, I asked Eleanor why she hadn't asked to see the paperback yet, when she knew it had been published; and I got one out of my backpack to show her.

She definitely thought it was weird that I had brought it up out of the blue and that I'd brought one out with me, but she flicked through it anyway, saying kind things about how well it had turned out. Then she turned to the dedication page, and her jaw dropped, and there was crying and hugging and all that nice stuff. It was beautiful, I wish I'd recorded it on the sly.

I notice the dedication is only in the paperback version of the book. Is that because it's twice the price?

No! In fact, I make a lot less money from each sale of the paperback because of the cost of printing them on demand, so it would work out better for me if everyone bought the Kindle version. No, I did that because I don't have a Kindle, so the only one on which I could test the Kindle version of my book was Eleanor's. So, obviously, I had to leave it out in case she saw.

That stone is huge! How much did that cost and why are you shoving your excessive riches in all our faces you disgusting piece of shit?

Whoa, chill out, there. The engagement ring pictured is a cubic zirconia placeholder ring, because I had no hope of choosing the perfect ring for her myself. It's not a diamond, it didn't even have a three-figure price tag, and she says it's too big for her tastes anyway. So sorry everyone, but you'll have to get your outrage fix elsewhere.

Did you do it for publicity?

Well I hadn't really thought about that until I did it, and then it seemed like it might cheapen the whole thing to use it to my advantage. But Eleanor told me I should, so I gave it a go; but I'm not very good at the whole Internet fame thing. Even when I get a few more Likes than I expected, it makes me more paranoid than happy. Why are so many strangers paying attention to me? What if one of them hates me? What if...

...So yeah, I'm struggling with that. I'll try again soon, but till then, I'm fine with the attention it's brought me so far. It did the job, and got me the girl. I don't need much more than that.

On the off chance that you're reading this and you are interested, you can find out more about the book here and you can read the first chapter here

How are you going to top a gesture like that?

Sigh. I've no idea. I'm out of over-the-top romantic ideas.