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...

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.


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.


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...

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…