Ripples in an ocean of talent

Well I’ve quite proudly made my sales into double figures, there is a light on the horizon! That means there are at least 15 people who have entered my imagination and of course it really is only early days. The fact that people ARE reading my book is a good sign and the most feedback I’m getting is positive. But now how to go beyond that social network of friends? I promise I am trying (well many would say that about me as a person) but it is a strange affair.

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I liken this whole process as trying to a salesperson. You turn up, present what you have but already people have their trusted alternatives. Everyone has their Jack Higgins, Andy McNab, Chris Ryan and similar. Why should the deviate from the known and delve into the unknown? That’s what we fight against and even though you open yourself up to the world there’s only a few that take notice of the “little man”.

I’ve kept everything online but seeing as I have based this on the world I live in – having taken most of my influence from my home town Kimberley, I’m going to start adding some sort physical presence. Just a few simple posters in select (accessible) shops to see if I can get a local audience to come and play!

It really is a massive minefield out there trying to promote and publicise a self-published book. I have a Twitter audience (80 something followers so not too bad) but I know a lot of them will be one click wonders and forget about me. I’m trying desperately not be too spammy and constantly post tweet after tweet and come across as desperate or irritating. In itself it is a fickle and delicate balance on Social Media. I’ve grown my presence with a Facebook Page for the book, an Author profile and invested my time in making myself known on Authors Databases, Book websites and hopefully someone will say….oh hello let’s give this geezer a try!

Of course there are the numerous online companies that offer help to tweet your book for money, or set something up for X amount this month then an offer for another to promote your book. But I look at what they do and I can do it too. Of course they have follower in the tens of thousands and perhaps I should research one of these to do a bout of promotion and see if I can drag in some new readers. No matter how unwilling they are to part from the known I am confident they would like the alternative I am offering.

But then again as I sit here stomping away on the laptop keyboard my daughter has just come running in with her hands held open. At first I couldn’t work out why but then I realised “our” song was playing in the background. She loves to have a slow dance to the song and being there with her just hugging me and rocking side to side with the music and having her head on my shoulder I realised that it actually doesn’t matter. And to share mine and Little C’s song I’ll share a link to the song here (I make no apologies the song comes from the Magic Mike XXL soundtrack – I always need inspiration and drive for the gym after all and it was a good film!!!)

People can choose to read me or not, that is their right. I’d love for the world to know what I’ve created and I’m sure in time, with support from those that have/are reading Footprints that some of them may share the fact they (hopefully) like it.

So much of the future of this endeavour is both in and out of my hands. I can only do so much, I can make the book look appealing, I can sell the story as best I can but ultimately I can dance naked after a gym session with the Amazon link written on my……..chest and still people would have to physically type in the link and make that choice whether they take a gamble and try something new.

I’m Indie, I’m new, I’m unknown but lets face it. Six months ago nobody had heard of Tobey Alexander and now they do. I don’t need an audience of a million, I’d rather have fifty people who wanted to go with me into the depths of my head than a thousand who read the first few chapters and then turned away.

I have in effect thrown the tiny pebble into a massive ocean of talent but no matter what I have made a ripple. It may not reach the shores but the ocean will never be as still as it once was, there will always be the echo of my pebble, my little addition to the world of fiction writing.

Behind the doors – inspiration

Welcome to Kimberley Brewery, formerly Hardy & Hanson’s which sits in Nottingham, England. Once a working brewery and now a building of rack and ruin (currently undergoing  redevelopment into…..something else). Well it was the locally infamous tower that initially caught my attention but it wasn’t until the building was abandoned that it got my attention and started to pique my interest.

The building had something about it and as nature took back a lot of what industry had kept at bay for many years it took on a mysterious presence. The railings surrounding it became ivy-laced and the building began to fall into ruin. What was once a busy building was now an empty shell and then one day I was able to get access inside the building.

Back then the access was a little fleeting as it was a work commitment but seeing inside really fed my imagination and filled it with endless atmosphere and possibility of what I wanted to do with the building in my story. Funny but for me it was always going to be an asylum, the tower, the gates, everything about it just screamed to me the sort of place I could imagine long forgotten but still occupied in some way.

Then in 2012 I was given the opportunity to go inside (this time armed with a camera) and was able to snap some of the inside of the building, some of the things that tickled my imagination and fed into the story.

And for me, as a writer, I know my style can be quite focussed on describing the world, going into detail to make sure anyone who reads it sees exactly what I want them to see. I don’t know if it is what would be expected from an author (you read so many different styles that it’s hard to know if there is a right or wrong). So when I pictured some key places in the story I made sure they were aside from where they were in reality so as not to make the story about a particular place, but I spent a lot of time giving details on what  could see every day and hope to make it so that image lives in the minds of those who now read the story.

I always remember writing the prologue (over and over again) but I always had a particular street in mind as I wrote it. From the camber of the road to the incline and cobbled road I have walked that route a million times and worked so hard t make sure the image I put on paper reflected what I really wanted it to be.

And so in lies the part that my wife hates. Immersing myself in the story as I write it, for Footprints I can say I was swallowed inside my own story. Jack went from a brief idea to a lifelong friend in a short amount of time and everything I would look at I’d see where it could fit, what I could do with it. The amount of time I turned into (what she aptly describes as) a “Grunting Gargoyle” where the laptop becomes my sole focus and I simply put myself into my creative bubble. I’m sure my eyes glaze over and as I write things down I see them playing out in my head. When it’s like this for the first draft my sentences are garbled, the story is like the rantings of a crazed, frenzied psychopath but over time it evolves and becomes something far more coherent and ultimately, some time in the distant future, a finished product!

Well I suppose I’ve rambled a little about the places that influenced me so really I will do the next best thing and shut up and let the picture paint a thousand words. This is the building that I called Dinymour from the inside…

Story maps and little books

Talking to my oldest son about “story maps”, he told me he did them at school and I remembered that for Footprints I used a handmade orange Italian leather book to jot down all my ideas. I poured my entire imagination into that little book and didn’t realise how much I had put in it. Flicking through the pages I can see some of the ideas that died an author’s death and how a single world in some cases flourished into main story aspects. It was quite odd looking at the pages as I could pretty much recall where I was when I did most of them.

But oddly enough in the same (very battered zip folder) I found a little “red” book. No it wasn’t anything saucy, it was Whispering Shadows! Well at least the foundation ideas of what I wanted to do with Jack James next. There’s only a handful of pages done in there but instantly reading the ideas I could see where I was going to continue Jack’s development and made me remember a lot I had pushed to the cobwebbed corner of my mind.

Luckily I was on a computer based training day today and had time to mull things over for what I’d like to do next. I’ve obviously got the Origins Of The Magdon on the burner for the kids but I have decided I need to aim that for a young 10+ audience so the need for novel-length chapters and depth isn’t quite as necessary. In itself a challenge as I am more used to building longer stories that grow slowly than something more concise and aimed at children.

I’m going to blow the dust off the red cover and dig out the erasable pen (a very useful tool for getting rid of some of the more “really bad” ideas). I think I’ll start jotting some more down and see if I can build further on the world I started.

Don’t get me wrong, in the respect of Footprints I have hardy made it to the realms of best seller. I’m happy I’ve made it to double figures of sales in only a few days but I know most of them come from friends and family. I would love to find a way to spread the word and am trying my best to interact beyond the Facebook page. Twitter seems to be a slow going progress but from 0 followers to 41 (sure some may be obligatory follows) at least I am engaging with some people, somewhere. If only to set the word of mouth going in the hope that I will be able to draw in an audience.

Marketing wise I expect alongside the GoodReads promotion starting 1st February 2016 where one of three copies can be won, I will run other promotions where I see it as best appropriate but need to keep researching into what is best and how best to get my idea out into the wider world.

Immense pride

This may be an Indie title, I may not be getting a space on the shelf at Waterstones, WH Smiths or my local supermarket but you know what, seeing someone hold a physical copy of my book is quite something. Yes for those who have done this before or do it as a career I’m sure the first time it happened to you it was something quite enjoyable. I was talking last night when someone asked about the book…..I can honestly say I never faltered from Jack James. I always knew where I wanted him to go in the story and ultimately, where I’d like to take him in the future.

It’s a strange feeling knowing that in the entire world, up until this week, I was the only person who had ever heard of Jack James. I was the only one who knew his story and in reality I have felt like I have lived it (obviously) having created it all up here [pointing to own head].

It’s a mixed feeling knowing now I’m not the only one who knows the story now. But also in the same breath it is ad as I know now I’ve shared him. Funny how all this works!

Well now everything is live and updated (Kindle to be updated over the next 12-24 hours for some formatting errors on my part). This has been one massive learning curve, I’ve loved and hated it but I’m too far gone now to run away. It’s amazing to see it listed on Amazon like a real book…..well I suppose now it is!

Amazon Page

Only five years? Should have been longer!

It is a funny thing baring yourself out to the world in a way like this, it’s kind of like choosing the best moment, closing your eyes and hoping for the best. NO matter how many times I’ve gone through the contents of Footprints On The Other Side, no matter how many times I have read, re-read, edited and corrected there will still be mistakes. Things that I will look at and think “really, how did I miss that!?!”

I remember the first draft edit (way back before it was anything like what it is now). I went through it and re-wrote entire chapters, chunks and removed so much that I must have lost 20,000 words easy. That lasted well over a year, scanning and correcting every last thing I could see was wrong in the manuscript until I could read it no more. I then did as I was advised and left it for a good length of time before looking again and then repeated the process again. Discouragingly I found even more then and I had in my mind already edited the hell out of it!

So then another stint of re-edits and then a blank amount of time away from the project whilst I swapped roles at work and had a third child. Come back to it and go through it. At last I am happy, we cross the five year mark and we are happy I say. And so I decide to bare all, risk everything and get it out into the wide world and release my ideas upon the world.

Was it a mistake? Day one and people point some bits out and I notice even more that I should have noticed so many times before. I suppose there must also be the acceptance from me (and hopefully my potential audience) that I have done this with no professional input – which I truly now realise will no doubt show like a thorn amongst the roses out there in the published world. I’ve had help and support from friends who have proofed, read and given me feedback yet still what I really seem to showcase is something that pales in comparison to those things created by those supported in the industry with Agents who get the right people to do the right things.

But then I also think that this is me. Yes I am imperfect, I’m being as perfect with this as I possibly can be. I am but one that has gone beyond just wishing away my ideas, thinking that there is always someone else who will do it and I never could. This isn’t my career, this is my hobby, this is me doing what I can to share what I have created. There is always pride, I’m the first to dismiss my ideas or flee from embarrassment but I have learned one thing through all of this in the fact that Agents have rejected me, Publishers have sunned me yet I believe in what I have written.

Perhaps there will be those out there who wonder “why even bother” but having poured everything into this it would be a waste not to share it just a little. Even if only a handful read it, even if in the future it gets mocked for being imperfect, it is my imperfect vehicle born of my imagination. But perhaps one day someone in that mythical land of “there” will approach me and offer me the opportunity to give my idea the full works and do it the justice it deserves.

Until then I apologise if it reeks of amateurishness but I am what I am and this is what it is. I present my mind in its most perfected form I can.

To that end I have removed the original file from CreateSpace and gone through another edit this weekend. As soon as the Kindle version goes live I will update that to the same newest, better and hopefully more appropriate version that will at least best reflect the effort I have put into this affair.

Getting it out “there”

Where is this proverbial “there” that so many people talk about? I’ve immersed myself in Facebook, Twitter and this site as well as launching myself on various Book related websites to pretty much say “Hello all of you” to those who exist in that place called “there”.

It’s funny, there’s a modicum of pride that three people have purchased my book (yes I know, three people aren’t I an amazing top selling author!) I’ve obviously got to wait for the Kindle to go live on the 26th January due to my over-complicating a simple program/selection but you live and learn.

I’ve tried implementing myself as best I can as a new boy on the scene (hopefully not so new that other more established authors in their gang will flush my head down the toilet like big school!!!) I’m gaining a few followers, getting a few visits but I’m just happy to see where everything goes from here. The fact it is there in the first place is quite an achievement and it may not go stellar in the literary world it’s still more than I had a few weeks ago.

It is a funny feeling though, filling in endless author bios, book listings and such like on the multitude of websites that aim to let you be seen by the people from “there”. I can’t count how many times I’ve filled it in over the last 48 hours but hopefully every little helps and it may get enough interest to keep me going in this strange world of publishing, authors and books.

I’m of no illusion that this whole world is for me to create as I’ve gone into it totally on my own. I haven’t enlisted one of the numerous social media promotion services or some of the mortgage requiring PR agencies that offer bright lights and fancy websites to say…..come here, pay me lots and we will do……something for your book. Hell I even saw one with Sylvester Stallone featured in a photo. If they are guaranteed to get him to read it and pass it onto some screenwriters than I could think about forking out some massive amount of cash but until then I’ll stay small thank you and go as much off my own back as I can.

Hell you can even pay for the service of someone reading your book to then write you a review you can use. Doesn’t that sound lovely? But then I’d always be plagued by the idea that they only wrote something positive so they can make their money and make me as the author feel better. No thanks, I’ll take the rough with the smooth. I’m no idiot, I know some people will not like what I’ve done and there will be those that think they should and hopefully some who genuinely do like it. But you know what, for me that’s life, peaks and troughs ups and downs.

In reality though this is an entirely new world to me. No matter how much you research, read and think you know the actual process of going it alone is quite a daunting place.

Still it’s fun to say “I’m published don’t you know” (in some lah-de-dah voice just to make it feel all the more important). In fairness though it’s never been about that, it’s always been about sharing the fact that I did this, I created a story and characters from the depths of my own head and if you want to read it then now you can. There is inherently an immense amount of pride with all of this knowing that without me and my mad mind that I wouldn’t even be on this blog spouting what it is that I made from scratch.

That aside though I still have my day (afters and nights shift) job that fills my time, a wife and three amazing little ones to keep me busy and entertained. Speaking to a friend about this whole Footprint On The Other Side affair she asked how I could have written a book with everything I already have on. You now what I have no idea, I’m sure my wife would say I’ve spent many hours being a “grunting gargoyle” on the sofa staring into the depths of Word as I try to pour my mixed mashings of ideas into something coherent on the screen.

To be fair I have every intention to keep this up and to even share the process I went through from start to finish to get this all ready. For those who want to know I’m going to share how I created Dinymour, Jack James and the whole saga that goes to make the story what it is.

Stick with me, this will be a long ride and hopefully together we will get Footprints into the mainstream and expose this elusive “there” that everyone seems to talk about.