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  • Writer's pictureMichael Parker

Into the Lion's Den

As readers of my monthly blog will know, I started writing and researching a book about Occupied Paris in 1940. I am currently 15000 words into the story and still not sure about where I am going with it. I thought it might be a good idea, seeing as I have shelved my Emma Carney pen name for now, to consider an editor to make sure I produce a finely tuned novel. For that reason, I consulted with a well-known and respected professional organisation in the self-publishing world. They gave me a huge list of editor options, which I was able to narrow down to those most relevant to my book. As a result, I nominated five editors, supplied them with the first chapter (2500 words), and waited for the quotes to roll in. But I had to ask myself: what was I really expecting? That’s when reality bites.

I received quotes ranging from 2000 – 9000 Euros. That knocked me back, I can tell you. I felt as though I’d wandered close to a group of hungry lions. Wow! It just shows how much, or how little I know about the real world of self-publishing. There are a lot of people out there (good luck to them) making a lot of money helping wannabes like me onto the first rung of the ladder. No, I know I’m not a wanna-be, but after reading one editor’s description of my sample chapter, I felt violated. I know I am not a bad writer, but I must be on a different planet.

Let me put that in perspective for you. I had a chap working on my house, a guy I know and have socialised with. I went out front to do some work in the garden and my friend stopped me and told me he was reading my book The Boy From Berlin. He said even though he knew I was a writer; he didn’t realise what kind of writer I was but he couldn’t put my book down. He said it was brilliant and thoroughly enjoyed it. Now, this is a working-class bloke who hasn’t been to university except living in the university of life, but he enjoyed my book. He probably didn’t know (or care) that I might have put a comma in where it should have been a semi-colon. He wouldn’t have been aware of the finer details that editors expose. No, he was a reader who simply enjoyed reading my book. And this is why I get the feeling that editors will never see your book as a means of entertainment for Joe Public, but an exercise in spelling, grammar, punctuation, and phrasing and probably have difficulty in not adding the dreaded “see me” in red ink at the end of the session.

My daughter-in-law, Jackie, gave me the latest Robert Galbraith book (J.K. Rowling), The Running Grave. It’s about 800 pages long. Jackie said it was brilliant. I started reading it and really struggled. In the end, I had to give up. I probably got through seven chapters. I thought it was tedious, stuffed with all kinds of unnecessary detail and descriptions, and too many names to remember as well — most of which I’ve always been advised to moderate and/or avoid. So there you go, two different opinions. How the editors coped with the editing process I’ve no idea. However, I do accept that J.K. Rowling is an extremely talented and gifted writer and probably has a brain she should donate to science when her days are over.

One thing I’ve learned this year, and something I’ve known forever, it seems, is that I lose a lot of money on my books for one reason or another. I make more money per annum from my Premium Bonds than I do from writing. But when I sell a book, my smile gets wider each time. One of my thrillers, The Devil’s Trinity (which I have mentioned before in my blog) is still selling on Kobo through Draft2Digital. This month I have sold five, which is about par for the course and has been for well over a year now, but it always puts a smile on my face.

So where do I go from here? I’ve opened a free account with Mailerlite to see if I can rebuild a subscriber list. I used to have 1500, but they all disappeared when I picked up my digital pen three years after I lost my lovely Pat. I actually cancelled my account with Mailchimp because I couldn’t see the point in paying for something that wasn’t working. I will have to offer a book in exchange for someone to subscribe, but I expect that anyway.

On the domestic front, like most of us, my work in the garden has been seriously reduced because of the weather. I travelled up to Norfolk to see my elder brother, Jim. Had my eyes examined (should have been my head!) and my eye drops changed. Now my nose runs all the time, my eyes keep watering and I have to stay with these drops until I see the specialist in December. I have put a blue screen filter on my laptop now, which actually helps.

And another string to my bow? I had to attend a Speed Awareness Course this month. I’d been caught doing 35 mph in a 30 mph limit up in Lincolnshire. So now I am known to the Lincolnshire Constabulary. The course was good, very informative, and, in a sense, successful because I will always have it in the back of my mind whenever I’m driving through a country village after using a high-speed, empty country road.

I’ve just looked out of the window and it’s raining again. Reminds me of the song by Super Tramp. I bought a couple of their albums in the Seventies. Loved them: terrific group. Now it’s time for church and then back to the slower pace of writing.

But before I go, I need to mention my other project, which is to start collecting email addresses to add to my brand-new subscribers list. To attract them I will be giving away a copy of my Marcus Blake thriller, Where the Wicked Dwell in exchange for their email addresses. So if you want to add your name, let me know at Let’s see how many I can collect before Christmas. Wish me luck!

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