camino, creation, life, my shit

19 Mistakes I made Publishing my First Book

Many people are self publishing these days. Aside from the Success stories of 50 shades of Grey, The Martian and a few others, is it possible to actually make a living from this?

I say NO! At least not until you have published many titles and have a solid fan base. My book has received positive feedback from anyone who has read it which is lovely but it has failed to spread into the world and make me rich!

Here, are the mistakes i think i made in publishing my first book.

  1. I failed to generate any reviews from any media. Aside from one review from a friends news site, I failed to get the book into the hands of the people who could have got the word out there.
  2. The content of the book was spread out over a measly 84 pages, much of which were illustrations.Was there enough literary content to make an impact strong enough to engage the reader to recommend it?
  3. I gave away approximately 50 copies of the book to people I thought may scream about it. I received a few private messages with feedback on the book, which done nothing to promote the book!
  4. I priced the book too low, at just £5, the profit was only £1.40 per book and therefore it was impossible to make enough to pay the contributors and make it profitable. (see point 20)
  5. My writing style was very messy. It was my first book and with little experience felt I was yet to find my voice. Luckily I had a friend who was an editor who made the whole thing make sense before we went to print.
  6. The spine on the book failed to print, and I only learned later that the minimum page count for spine printing is 130 pages. The book can never be recognised on a shelf, and looks more like a pamphlet from that angle.
  7. A team comprising of Welsh author, Welsh illustrator, Welsh graphic designer and Welsh editor then relied on an American company to manufacture and deliver the product. Shame we couldn’t complete the whole thing locally.
  8. I failed to get the book into any stockists or reviewers in Portugal or Spain where the events of the story took place. Or in Wales, the living place of the author.
  9. I failed to mention the Camino in the title of the book which has made it impossible to market it to people who are keen walkers or are familiar with the Camino de Santiago. I would definitely re-title the book to appeal to these people, as i am yet to sell one book to actual Camino walkers!
  10. The Web address that I printed on the inside cover is a dead link. I need to build a website.
  11. I did not arm my early adopters with the tools to spread the word about the book, and only gathered a few Amazon reviews. If they liked it, I just prayed they would recommend it, but a more solid plan could have helped it spread.
  12. The author should, as recommended by successful self-publishers, have a follow-up book within 3-4 months to keep the buzz going and build momentum. I am writing, but i dont have a book. I just have pages and pages of nonsensical rants with absolutely no thread – Brain Farts. (Now there’s a book idea!)
  13. We made the book paperback only, forcing physical copies of my work into the world, as real books are my preference. I now think it would have made more sense to release the Kindle and other E-book versions simultaneously, as many people read this way, the price is much lower and the profit MUCH bigger.
  14. Making my 1st book illustrated, although beautiful, made the whole process much more difficult, as we had many problems with formatting. Also it made the task of creating an e-book version much more difficult and contributed to the decision to postpone it.
  15. Having so many people involved in the book, unpaid, also extended the time frame as I was reliant on people for favours who had other more important things going on (ie. Paid work!)
  16. I had little capital to invest in marketing or promotion and compared to a publisher’s marketing clout my marketing plans were pathetic.
  17. Contacts in the world of publishing were minimal as I am a music producer. This means it was difficult to acquire advice or experience in this world. I failed to reach out to many people who had done it successfully. (Apart from Sue at Starships & Aliens and Derec at Opening Chapter – Thank You!)
  18. No Pre Promo, no buzz built, No launch party – locally or online, again just a facebook post on day of release. I relied solely on social media for promotion.
  19. I walked 200 miles, wrote 15,000 words and untold hours were spent by various friends editing, formatting, designing and illustrating the book. All in all making it a labour intensive project which has so far only netted approximately £300. Take away the cost of the free copies and i have so far made about £200. And i haven’t paid any contributors to the book!  Was it worth it?

 

There’s nothing more exciting than seeing your first book in print, and i would highly recommend it! When i ripped open the box and first cradled it like my first born, i squealed and popped like cheap bacon in my new tefal titanium pan.
The book is getting great reviews on Amazon and it has inspired a fewfriends to change things in their life and has made others laugh. Surely effecting people is more important than MONEY?

Huge thanks to everyone who has read it and had the time to share their thoughts or recommend it.

If you don’t have a copy yet, some Amazon sellers have now completely devalued my art, and for some reason you can grab a copy for £3.01, here!

massive thanks to Norris Nuvo, Laure Lajarthe, Paul Bevan, Cai Hughes and Eleanor Burns.

 

 

 

‘PAIN? It makes you more spiritual!’
-Thomaas the Astronomer

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life, other people's shit, the sicknote diaries

Sicknote Driver, Dickie Balboa’s House Fire

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Dickie Balboa. Do you remember him? The legend that drove Sicknote around from approximately 2006-2011. He put so much into the band, and although he had a wicked time with us, he got very little back. A true giver in the truest sense or the word. Eventually succeeded by Stevie G, another legend and true giver. I feel these guys gave the most to the project financially, always keeping vans on the road for our benefit, and silently absorbing the costs to ensure the sickness arrived. Anyway he left in 2011, and had to get a job, sell the sick mobile and sort his situation out. I think he was feeling under-appreciated and his personal circumstances were in dire need of some attention. Dickie then became a charity bag collector. Delivering the bags one week and collecting them the following week, for British Heart Foundation. It helped that he was a hoarder, his house was notorious for being full of junk. From floor to ceiling in most rooms. He used some of this junk to ensure the charity was getting it’s quota, but still worked flat out, usually starting his rounds at 4am each day. He worked his balls off. He paid off his debts, and managed to save a little bit. Dickie, being Dickie, stashed his little savings at home. He wasn’t one to leave it all in a bank. Fuck the system. So he had it stashed in a box buried deep within his junk upstairs. It would take a thief days to find it.

At the end of last year, Dickie opened his back door, and some kind of back draft thing happened. The open fire, that was blazing away his winter chill, spat out a ball of flames right up the wall and across the ceiling. He stood upon a bench and began to pat the wall and ceiling out, but managed to pretty badly burn his forearm. It was no use, in a matter of seconds the entire kitchen ceiling was alight. He headed for the stairs to retrieve his little stash, but the fire was spreading fast. He stepped outside to survey the situation, and then decided on one last mad dash. A neighbour was passing and grabbed him, thankfully, and stopped him going in. He dragged him to the opposite side of the road and they watched as the entire house went up in flames. The fire brigade came and put it out. The roof was gone. Every window melted. The doors gone. All of his belongings. Money. Everything reduced to a smouldering pile of soot. The only thing he had was the clothes he stood in, and his Sherpa van parked outside.

fire

The neighbourhood, Abertridwr, an odd dead-end village in the valleys near Caerphilly pulled together in ways that help build faith in humanity. These are people without a pot to piss in. And they are giving everything they haven’t got. The local pub landlord gave a room for people to drop off donations. The community were dropping in fridges, sofas, money. Scaffolding companies put up free scaff on the remainder of the bricks. And they began to raise money with local and online collections. Everybody, even people who didn’t personally know him put money in the pot, and although not a lot of money, it afforded Dickie some emergency help with his basic needs. Friends cleared out their spare rooms and he is staying locally with the friendliest and most colourful insane characters. He had always said he needed a clear out.

here is the news article with the link to the local donations (now expired – £835, spilt between Dickie and his neighbours)

I got the bus up there before christmas and done a couple days work. It was fucking hardcore. I thought it was game over, but no, he was determined to build his house back. If you had seen it you would have no doubt agreed with me, that this was impossible. There was fuck all left. Piles of black shit. Collapsed black ceilings, Stairs black and hanging off wall. And not much else. The roof was gone, save a few burnt beams, and the rain pissed through, making it all a smelly, soggy, pile of black ash. When I first arrived he was stood covered in black soot, arm bandaged, soaking wet carrying buckets of black shit, what was his belongings, and dumping them in a donated skip outside. Somehow still cracking jokes. Determined and full of life as usual. My second visit, a roofing company was on board, and a delivery of donated roof tiles turned up. It was me and Keithy Cammando’s job to get the tiles up the scaff to the roof. Killer job. The roofers were unbelievably fast, and the new roof was fitted in an afternoon. Drenched, sweaty and fucked, I got some chips and got the bus back home.

That was over a month ago. I went back last night. The upstairs had windows fitted, a new staircase was in. Scaffolding gone. Aside from that and the inside looking a little cleaner, it was still an absolute bomb site, with all downstairs windows and doors yet to bet fitted and nothing inside but burned walls. The rain poured down hard, it seems to never stop in Abertridwr. I located Dickie at his friends house up the road, and he invited me in. A fat dog with a squashed face and short legs yelped and squeaked and jumped all over me. Dickie’s arm had recovered well, but his hands were ground down in places to fleshy bloody cracked sores, and the rest of his skin was covered in the soot. He looked knackered. He was rebuilding his home from scratch with hardly any tools and relying on help from anyone who would offer it.

We had a cup of tea, and in true Dickie style, he had us laughing our arses off in no time. And yes, Dickie being Dickie, there was no insurance. He had bought the house in the 80s. Never insured it. Never contents or buildings insurance. Nothing. Basically everything he ever had was literally up in smoke. He had to give up his job to dedicate himself to the task at hand, and is relying on handouts from his local community. Completely mental. Never seen anything like it.

So, the Tribe, if it wasn’t for Dickie we wouldn’t have cut our teeth across the country in the early days of the band and gathered up the following and the scene which ensued. I’m not sure who knows Dickie, but I do know those who have met him, love him. He is a true gent and was a total father figure for Sicknote, always in the background making sure it all went off. A true giver, who deserves help. So I’m asking you to chip in. Even a single penny will help. There is nothing too small. The state he is in at the moment even a tin of Aldi beans is a true help. Help him out, a couple of pennies will do, and whatever we get together I will take up to him at the end of the month and make sure he’s got some money from the Tribe to help him move on from this complete nightmare.

If you donate, I will write your name, every single name, in a big card and put the money in the card. I’ll update every night or two (with screen shots of paypal) with how much we’ve got and a list of donators for that day (unless you’d rather stay anonymous). I plan to take the cash in a card up to him at the end of February, and hopefully by then we’ll have a lump. I think this is the way forward, I know he’d be embarrassed if he knew we were doing this. But it’s about time he received. His local community helped, and now it’s our turn! I thought I’d set this up and see what happens, if it fails, as I’m aware he wasn’t that well known and was never in people’s faces, then so be it. But even if it’s £50 I take up to him, I know it will help. He slipped into the conversation last night that the windows downstairs were about £200 each and he needed outer doors too. So my target is £500 to bring to him. If it’s less or mOre! then so be it.

Flakey has just set up a Facebook group to share ideas to help him out, here.

If anyone has any other ideas drop me a message, or just turn up at his house, and help him out! Abertridwr Street in Abertridwr (you can’t miss it). It’s been a few months and it’s a long way off from being liveable. Chuck a penny in and Help the legend that is Dickie Balboa here or press button below. THANK YOU!

THE KARMA OF DICKIE BALBOA

target £500 by March 1st 2016:………

RAISED SO FAR:

£ 1104.53

[updated daily]

DONATE!

People who have chipped in:

Nick Bray, Paul Bevan, Nick Walker, Joe Marvelly, Eleanor Burns, Stevie G, Jason Doghouse, Karl Parkinson, Johanna Hartwig, Matthew Downes, Rev & Flakey, Dom Atreides, Andy Thimbleberry, Victoria Leadbeater, Toby Evans, Joe Goddard, Julia Round, David Sheppard, Becci Barker, Theodore Ellinas, Gina Wathen, Lesely Haywood, AM Bligh, Mouse and Badger, Jason Phillips, Stuart Forsyth, Paul Hardy, David Newton-del-Campo, Luise Tomlins, Craig Lee, Mark Deer, Crocker, Stephen Cuky Cooke, Swag Minal, Hobaps and Major Triadz, Karl Baker, Sare Bear, Anna Doolan, John Garton, Ange n Mark, Annabel Tinks Neilson, Keith Harman, Rebecca Gould, Philip Crisp, Les Wilkins, Caroline Richards, Sian Richards, Jessika Burridge, La Laure, Lorraine Boyle, Fozzys, Heather Casey, Emma Money-Kyrle, Julie Kirk, Simon Betts, Joanne Taylor, Emma Barnes, Stephen Reed, Rowena Brook, Caroline Tomlinson, Joel Morris, Yin Hau, Janine Palmer, Michelle Nicholson, Maja Palser, Tina Price, Audrey Jackson, Megan Dugmore, Robin Weallans, Gavin Bolton, Timothy Barker, Julie Acorn, Paul Riddell, Geraint Short, ………..

thanks to every one of you.  we will put all your names in a card with the cash. x

here is Dickie’s living room:

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