"I don't want to earn my living; I want to live."

Is a self-published author really an author?

Hello folks! It’s been a while I know, apologies for that – I’ve been very busy trying to make a career for myself. My latest research has raised a certain question and I’m curious to see what other blog writers or indeed any sort of writers think.

I recently read a post which suggested that authors who publish on Kindle or other self-publishing platforms aren’t really authors. It’s a fact that there has been a stigma attached to self-publishing and indeed vanity publishing for years, but I had thought that more recently, self-published authors had been more accepted.

But there are one or two articles kicking around on the internet that suggest otherwise. Personally, I don’t view self-published authors as being any different from those belonging to traditional publishing houses. They have after all, for the most part, still sat down and constructed a novel – which as we all know is no easy task. They’ve gone through the editing process, cut away pieces of that work when it killed them to do it, but they did it because it was necessary for the good of their story. Surely that is the very definition of an author?

I respect self-published authors, not just because they do all that a well-known author from a traditional publishers would do but because they do much more than that. They don’t have a team of professionals backing them. They don’t have an agent watching their back. They don’t have a marketing team getting people interested for them. They don’t have someone coming up with a catchy title or a good looking book cover. A traditionally published author for the most part has to give up those things and have no say in it. Self-published authors have to be business people as well as writers, and manage all of these things themselves unless they pay through the nose for professional help.

Okay, I will grant you that there are many terrible self-published titles filling the shelves on Kindle – but so there are too in every book store. Readers all have different tastes don’t they? My cup of tea might not be the same as yours, no matter which way it was published.

As well as all that, I often think self-publishing is actually quite a sensible way to go about things. We all write for the love of it, we all want to share that love. And much as we don’t write for the money (because often there isn’t much, if any!) I’m sure we have all dreamt that we could make a career out of our writing and fill our days doing the thing we love most. Self-publishing more often than not does offer a higher rate of royalties and much more importantly, you don’t have to sell your soul to the devil. Traditionally published writers usually have to sacrifice their rights to get a deal, so swept up and grateful to be given any sort of offer that they willing sign it all away. And a lot of the time, the publishing house never even uses those rights, they just sit there going to waste.

So I’m left wondering to myself – as I stand on the edge trying to decide which way to go for myself, which way is best? In the long run, self-publishing seems to be the way to go but as someone who has never published a book before, I can still see the fascination with traditional publishing houses. I don’t write to be hugely famous but it stands to reason you need a fan base to be successful even in a small way. If you can impress a publisher, surely you have a fighting chance out there in the world? Not to mention that lovely, warm, looked after feeling – even if you know it is all rubbish really.

Either way, I think anyone who has written a book, traditionally published, self-published, vanity published, or even sitting in a dusty old boxfile in the basement – I think all of those people are worthy of our respect. What do you think?

Tartan Rose xx

Which medium?

I don’t know if it’s just me – but I love writing, all kinds of writing. I enjoy poetry when the mood takes me, I’ve written stories both short and long, plays, TV series, movies…

When your muse pops along with a little idea for you, do you make a conscious choice about what kind of writing you will use for that idea?

I had a thought pop into my head a few days ago; a brand new idea. I almost immediately knew it was a film rather than a novel. The question is how? And why?

I found myself wondering, do other writers have a system they follow? Do you make a conscious choice about what you are going to write or does it arrive in your head packaged a certain way? I’m genuinely curious, so please do pop your answer in the comment box!


Novel/Novella/Novelette – What’s the Difference?

You might believe the title of this post to be a somewhat stupid question. Indeed I think most people have a sort of vague idea, in terms of actual book size (or how many inches thick) how long any of the above should be but how many of us know the figures used by publishers to determine which is which?

I know I didn’t. So when I stumbled across a list of just those things, like the good little blogger I am, I want to share.

Apparently, a Short Story can be anywhere between 1,000 and 7,500 words. These are the types that can be found in anthology collections, periodicals or genre zines. All look for work around this length.

A Novelette therefore, is between 7,500 and 20,000 words. More often than not, work of this size can be difficult to sell to publishers being too long to insert comfortably into a magazine, yet too short to be a novel in its own right. The best way forward is to compile three of four works of this length and put them forward as a compilation novel.

Now, a Novella ranges from 20,000 to 50,000 words. Most traditional publishers will shy away from publishing work of this length but it is ideal for the e-book market. The online reader tends to squeeze a little reading into a busy day, they have little patience to sit through a 100,000 word novel. On the other hand, if you are a non-fiction writer, work of this length can be entirely acceptable.

The Novel of course sits between 50,000 and 110,000 words long, though most publishers prefer a minimum of around 70,000 words for a first novel – some even hesitate if the piece is shorter than 80,000 words! At the other end of the scale, editors tend to balk at piece of work longer than 110,000 words, because all the while they are considering profit and costs. They need to be sure they can produce a book that looks exciting enough to readers without over-extending their budget.

Finally, Epics & Sequels are usually over 110,000 words. So if you write a novel that is far over the 110,000 word mark you have a few options available to you. You could attempt to condense the work down to a more saleable size of course but if you can’t do that without crushing the story it may be time to consider lengthening the novel to create a sequel, perhaps even a trilogy if the story has the legs. These things needs to be considered, unless of course you are Stephen King, then you can do what you want more or less but for us lowly unheard of writers the above info can be very handy.

Remember though, this is just an estimated guide – all publishers are different. Use a bit of common sense and if it is possible check the guidelines of the publication you intend to submit your work too. Most presses and publishers have websites. Publishers accepting shorter works for instance will specify maximum lengths more often than not and novels are considered according to the strength of the story not how many words you have crammed in so don’t follow religiously or crush your work if you can help it!

I hope you might find this as useful as I do.


Response to “Do you hate E L James? #fiftyshades”

As is fairly usual in the blogging world, I spend much more time having a nose at other people’s blogs than I do on writing my own. A few days ago, I stumbled across this post entitled “Do you hate E L James? #fiftyshades” on Damyanti’s Daily (w)rite and stopped off for a read.

The article is well written and does just what any good article/blog post should do – it causes you, the reader, to stop and think. So, this post is my response to that article, which you can read here:

Now, first off I have a confession; I read the whole trilogy :/ though it was clear by the bottom of the first page that it was not written to the good standard that we have rightly come to expect from published books. But the woman had the presence of thought to write about a taboo – something everyone has heard of in whispered conversations in dark places but never really understood. While some mock her for it or suggest she is encouraging abusive relationships (Not an opinion I share) very few people mention the fact that she spotted a hole in the ‘market’ and took advantage of it. Now in spite of her far from top notch writing skills, that has sold her an awful lot of books!

As to the grade of the writing itself; in the beginning I think she was writing on the internet, much the same as many of us have done. And while that doesn’t mean we should lower our standards – it’s a fantastic platform on which to learn the trade so to speak – with other writers often leaving helpful critique and constructive criticism in the comment box. When it came to being a properly published piece of fiction – I’m assuming James had the help of editors, proof-readers, copy-editors and such – surely these people too have to take some responsibility for the shoddy writing? They are after all paid to fix inconsistencies and grammatical errors.

Lastly, as a writer who is finding all sorts of online writing communities, starting at and later finding forums and blogs just like this one, I have found that there is an awful lot of support. Another writer will tell you if you are doing a good job as well as pointing out any holes in your plot by asking all the right questions, usually in a kind way. The thing that I don’t understand is, what makes E L James any different? Why, when she puts herself out there is she being ridiculed and abused? Whatever happened to supporting other writers or offering the constructive criticism we have all found so useful at times? Sure – she’s rich, sold millions of books and has a nice car but when you break it down she is still just a writer, learning all the time like the rest of us.


News Items of Note #1 – The British Library

My favourite story in local news this week; The British Library in London has been made a Grade I Listed building – at the tender age of 18!

As you may or may not be aware, usually a building has to be over 30 years old before it is considered; therefore this is most out of the ordinary but none the less, wonderful. Nor is the British Library alone, seven more libraries are to be given Grade II status, though some of these are much older.

The British Library itself already has one or two claims to fame. It is the largest public building to have been built in the 20th Century and is home to prestigious documents like the Magna Carta manuscripts and let us not forget; handwritten Beatles lyrics.

The building of the library took 15 years and even after it opened its doors in 1997, it was a further four years before all of the books were moved inside. It is said to hold 14 million or so books in its five floored frame – at the centre of which is George III’s library. The 506 million pound architectural beauty is also said to house Shakespeare’s first folio and Gutenberg’s 1455 Bible; surely two of the greatest pieces of fiction ever written.

To me, it is an event to be celebrated. We hear every day of the decline of literature, how fewer and fewer people spend their leisure time reading and how Amazon’s Kindle and the like have killed the need for a real solid paperback. Surely, this must be taken as proof to the contrary?


Blogging Buddy; CowHeartGirl

‘Ello again folks!

I just wanted to share with you; as I said in a previous post, I was told to start a blog repeatedly by several different people but I still would not have done, were it not for an incredibly inspiring young lady I met on The Prince’s Trust course I recently attended.

Beth and I had rather a brief conversation as we left the introduction segment of the course but in that short conversation my mind was quite made up – here was a person I found extremely interesting from the offset and I am really not easily impressed.

Alas, we ended up sitting together when the course started proper and I learned that my initial suspicions were right when we took part in some of those dreaded ‘icebreaker’ activities. Her hobbies and interests were far from the usual and mundane; with canons and reviews both huge and highly enjoyed parts of her life – you cannot fail to be transported.

Beth is blogger too and far more experienced than I am and she pointed me in the right direction when I asked for her advice on writing my own – so if anyone out there ever actually comes to read this, you have Beth to thank (or blame!) and so do I. And as such you should head on over to her blog and check it out.

Read all about the battle re-enactment’s she has coming up, blogs seeped in history and excitement, reviews on products she has found recently and all of the adventures she got up to on her recent holiday to France! There really is something for everyone.


Brand New Certificate!

Has everybody got that Friday feeling? I know I have – having had an interesting and informative week. My good friend Leanne, who lives in Skegness took part on a course at the beginning of the year; it was the Exploring Enterprise course, run by The Prince’s Trust.

For those of you who don’t know, The Prince’s Trust was set up in the 70’s by HRH Big Ears himself; The Prince of Wales. Now, old Charlie may have been the butt of one or two jokes over the years but on finishing his service in the Navy, Charles wanted to help out young, disadvantaged people right across the country thus; The Prince’s Trust was founded. Nearly 50 years in the making, The Prince’s Trust helps disadvantaged 13-30 year old’s to build a better life for themselves regardless of their background.

One such way they do this, is through the ‘Exploring Enterprise’ course. Now when Lea did the course, she told me all about it naturally and while I thought it sounded interesting and useful, I didn’t understand it in its entirety. However, as a writer you’re self-employed for the most part and seeing as I have a mortal fear of the tax man (That’s one man you really don’t want to mess around, even if it is an accident) and I knew taxes and such were covered in the course, I signed up.

I finished the course this afternoon and I have to say, anyone out there that wants to be self-employed, you could worse than to do this course. The staff are great, the guest speakers/mentors were impressive and inspiring and I learned an awful lot. So, huge thank you to The Prince’s Trust and Tracy particularly – I owe you one.

However, I didn’t just learn from the course material – all in all there were 16 of us there to learn most of this week and I think I have probably learned something from each and every one of them. You’re put in a room round a huge table with complete strangers and its odd but even by the end of the first day you’re already beginning to have a bond – a lad I met on the course hit the nail on the head for me earlier, when he said we were ‘like-minded people’.

I agree almost entirely, but that awful (and rarely seen) girly part of me likes to think it’s much more to do with the heart.

To round off our final day cramped together in that little room we were all awarded our certificates – which we shall treasure forever naturally, then most of us (14 of the 16 I think) headed off to a little nearby Mexican restaurant for a quick drink together before we went off in to the big wide world. As we walked together to the restaurant, I remember thinking, this could all go so horribly wrong.

Once we were all out of that semi-boardroom atmosphere, would we be able to find anything to say to one another? Or would it be one long and awkward silence? To my delight, we seemed to find endless things to talk about and when we headed to the bar I needed to schedule a visit to the little girls room. Without even thinking about it, I handed a ten pound note over to Beth (whom I shall tell you more of later) while I nipped to the loo; it only occurred to me as I took a seat on the porcelain throne, that it had been quite an odd thing for me to do. I only met these people properly, less than 96 hours previously…and I trusted them with my money.

You might not think that’s a big deal, but I kinda do – trust is a massive issue to me and usually, I make people earn it rather than giving it away freely. That should tell you something of the magic of the enterprise course.

My head is so full now that I’m sure its going to burst but I learned so much this week and connected with so many wonderful characters and personalities that I had to share it with you.

Thanks for reading – have a great weekend.


Why am I here again? #Itsallalearningcurve

I had been advised a few times that I should probably start writing a blog; I’m not entirely sure what one is supposed to do really but I enjoy writing for my own amusement, so that seems like a good place to start, right? But do forgive me if it takes me a while to get used to the formatting for all this!

Why Tartan Rose? I’m neither Scottish, nor a particularly striking flower, more’s the pity, so it may seem an odd choice as first. It’s really rather simple (ish). My old man is a Northern Irishman by the name of Stewart. The tribe comes with its own tartan – Hunting Stewart tartan if you really care to know. Mother dear, on the other hand, is a Yorkshire lass that hails from good old Doncaster. Thus, a Tartan Rose symbolises my heritage really rather well and it’s one I’m proud of.

For those of you who may have stumbled across me quite by accident, let me introduce myself; I’m Dibz. That wasn’t so hard was it? Myself and the family recently moved away from my hometown, Leighton Buzzard, to a wonderful little place that no one has heard of, by the name of Arlesey. And I have to be honest, there is nothing here. I have to catch the train if I want to visit a supermarket, buy clothes, even visit the bank; but do you know what? We couldn’t be happier and after the last few years, that’s a damn good thing. The community is wonderful, the people are friendly and there is always something going on in or around the area; and what an area, beautiful countryside which ever direction you take – I could not ask for more.

I’m a writer, I love my literature – I’ve always got my nose in book; Stephen King is my hero, but I do love British classics, period novels and I will more or less read anything. The same rules apply when it comes to writing, I have never stuck to one genre in particular; but I do like a good thriller. Nor have I ever stuck too rigidly to any one kind of writing – I adore it all and have had a stab at most of it. I’m pretty big on films too so I aim to do a few review type posts on books and films that I have (or haven’t) enjoyed! I recently invested in a camera and took part in an online digital photography course – in the hope that one day if I am incredibly lucky and fulfill my dreams, I will be able to take photo’s to go along with any article I write.

I also have an interest in publishing houses – though I know very little, so there may well be the odd post about that as well as the occasional random post about something I want to share with you. For now though – it’s all about figuring out how to work this contraption, so forgive me for a pretty mundane first post.

Things can only get better.


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