Iain Kelly’s State of Denial: Santa finally comes to Bristol

Dismal old month, January.

The weather’s awful, Christmas a distant memory, the only signs it even happened being stray pine needles in the carpet and the need to slip into elasticated waistbands for the first quarter of the year.

However, I have found an answer to the winter gloom, something to lighten the long trudge to spring –

I have become my own Santa.

As I apparently wasn’t good enough to deserve Iain Kelly’s latest book – State of Denial – from the real Santa, I thought I’d cheat and order a copy for myself.

And there it is, above (apologies, Iain, for the terrible photograph, especially as your covers are so wonderful! Did you know he designs them himself?).

I haven’t delved in yet, but anyone who read the first book, A Justified State, will share with me a need to know just what happened to beleaguered detective Danny Samson, how he’s fared living under the controlling, sinister influence of the State, especially after his earlier shenanigans.

To read more about the trilogy, pop over to Iain’s blog here.

Or just skip straight to your territory’s Amazon and buy the first two State books, links here.


Traditional publishing VS Self-publishing: Let’s get ready to rumble!


Image: Pixabay


After yesterday’s post about the premature self-publisher, I was mulling over the whole Self-pub VS Traditional publisher debate.

I’ve so far been put off self-pub because tech is not my thing. When I began this blog, I had to take WordPress Blogging 101 just so I knew what a widget was and – don’t laugh – I’ve only just recently learned how to included YouTube videos in my posts.

Yeah, I know, I’m lame. But please remember when I was growing up, computers were only just appearing in the classroom, and they still had those snazzy orange-tinged screens. Pong was cutting edge back then, so I don’t think I’m doing too badly.

Anyway, let’s decide this thing once and for all. 

In the Blue corner, several hundred years old and weighing in at a trim 150 pounds, the Leviathan of Literature, the Maestro of the Metaphor,

Traditional Publishing!

And in the Red corner, less than 20 years old and touching 155 pounds, the New kid on the Printing Block, the Nipper of the Novel, iiiiiitsss


Let’s get ready to rumblllllle!

SELF-PUBLISHING pros and cons

Control ‒ the author has total control over content, cover design, layout. All pros, especially for many who don’t fall into prescribe genres or writing styles. But also a con if the author has poor judgement on cover design (we’ve all seen those covers that scream SELF PUBLISHED – image and font picked out of a hat). It also means they don’t have a professional proof reader or editor on hand to guide them – though these skills can be bought independently.

Tech savvy rating ‒ the author has to be able to upload, format, add photographs if necessary. A skill some of us struggle with, nay flee from screaming / have nightmares over involving man-sized homicidal novels trying to give us lethal paper cuts because we got their formatting wrong.

Marketing ‒ to sell any books at all, the author has to develop their own marketing strategy, set up their own interviews, contact the press etc etc. Without good planning and a thorough strategy planned in advance, the book can sink without trace into the sludgy waters of the Self-Pub Swamp.

Money – any earnings go directly to the author (after publishing costs  and tax have been deducted, of course). Though if sensible, you’ll pay for editorial services and a cover artist. No 10% to agents – no publisher’s cut. Of course, the book may be more difficult to promote without a publisher behind it, so may sell less than if produced conventionally. 100% of nothing is still nothing.


Control – although the author can have input over cover design, the final say will no doubt be from the publisher. But they’re the professionals so should know what sells ‒ a good cover should boost your sales. There will be more editorial input re contents and if your novel seems hard to market (perhaps it straddles genres or is unconventional in other ways) you may not be picked up by a publisher at all, no matter how good the writing. You will have a team working on your side, proofing, editing – though we’ve all read conventionally produced books which contain errors or could’ve done with a few hundred words fewer, so even the professionals aren’t infallible.

Tech savvy rating – zero, as other people do it all for you.

Marketing – you’d think having a big publisher behind you would lessen the authors marketing load. This is not really the case these days as writers are expected to promote their books to the same extent self-pubbed writers do. However, there are occasions (see Jessie Burton’s The Miniaturist), where publishers see the product as a potential big hitter and will throw a substantial advertising budget behind it. And it still seems the case that you’re more likely to get your book in bookshops if you’re traditionally published.

Money – you’ll have an advance and only begin to earn extra money on top once (if) you sell enough copies to cover that. If you have a 10% cut of sales and your agent takes 10% of that … you can see there may not be much left to play with.

So, the result?

It’s a close run thing – no knock outs. This bout will have to be decided on points.

I think if you’re confident in your own IT skills and have the energy, ability and imagination to promote yourself, if your editorial skills are top notch or you can pay to have a professional do it for you – then self-publish. And as my last post proved, you may start off self-published and could snag a conventional deal anyway if you make a big enough splash.

If you’re not confident in all of these things, need the validation that comes with a book deal and have a carapace of steel that can cope with a ton of rejection – try the old fashioned route. But still be prepared to do your own marketing and if the continued rejection gets you down, there’s always Kindle Direct Publishing.

Bout result – an honourable tie.


What do you think? What’s your experience? What pros / cons have I missed?

Rushing to self-publish? A cautionary tale.


Image: Pixabay

Now, I love some aspects of self-publishing as much as the next author.

It’s great that some woefully neglected talents are able to produce a book without those traditional gatekeepers of style and taste – agents and big publishers – dictating if a book will sell or not.

We all know they’re human, they make mistakes and let some gems slip through the net.

I often imagine skeletal Gollum-like creatures  (submissions readers) chained in a cellar, surrounded by teetering towers of unsolicited manuscripts – that legendary slushpile – yearning for a glimmer of gold and amidst the iron pyrite.

Where is the precioussssss? Are them nasty Hobbitses hiding it?

Okay, maybe publishing houses don’t chain their readers in the basement. And to be fair, they have to read A LOT of manuscripts. It’s not surprising if they sometimes fail to recognise potential.

This is why self-publishing is so inspiring for writers.

Take The Martian as an example. Andy Weir had published chapters of his novel on his blog, when readers began asking for an e-reader copy. When some had problems downloading it, he decided to publish on Amazon instead. The book soon topped the sci-fi chart, Random House came calling and a movie deal popped up a few days after that.

So far, so fairytale.

But such self-pub stories delude us all into thinking that if we meander along the same path, success is guaranteed – because we’re all brimming with undiscovered genius, right?

Allow me to share with you what prompted me to write this post.

I regularly read a particular writing magazine and one of the things I enjoy most is the subscribers’ stories section, where fellow budding authors share their publishing successes. In my last copy was a letter relating one man’s foray into self-publishing. It didn’t sound as if he’d been writing for long, and being the nosy baggage I am, I thought I’d pop along to read a few sample pages of his short story collection on Amazon.

What I found was a a well designed cover and inside … a poorly formatted, unengaging, badly written short story, with a weak opening a so-so middle and no ending to speak of.

And I thought what a terrible shame that was.

Because with time, that man could be a good writer in the future. He could learn to sharpen his prose, avoid cliches – actually develop a plot instead of a drawn out anecdote you might tell your mates in the pub.

Instead, he’s rushed at publication like a bull charging at a man in a tomato costume. And unless he decides to withdraw the files, that book is up there for all to see, colouring people’s opinions about his capabilities.

Just because we can self-publish doesn’t mean we should.


What do you think? Should we have to gain a Writers’ Licence before we self-publish or does that defeat the entire point?