Sunday, 27 April 2014

Is it worth paying for a structural edit?

We are putting huge efforts into finalising the manuscript of the latest book.  As the Itinerant Poet ploughs through the printout from 6-9am most mornings and I sit for hours processing the myriad of handwritten changes, I am once again at the point when I ask myself, "Will this one sell?"

It is about a dog.  People who like dogs buy books about dogs.
It is set in the 1970s.  Retro is good if you capture the atmosphere effectively.
It is written "by the dog".  Different perspective could be appealing?
It is humorous with elements of pathos (knock on effect of Itinerant Poet reading David Lodge books lately?)

If it is going to succeed, we may need a professional editor and that is going to cost some dosh.
It is written in episodes that are a bit like short stories with time gaps in between - not conventional.

Truth be told, we DID pay for a professional editor to look at a very early version way back in 2006.  The book was deemed to have potential and some very good points but needed work to be a success.  This was not an easy view to accept and resulted in the manuscript being shelved until 2012 when it popped up for a short rework to potentially coincide with the video release for the "Do the Dinosaurus" album. It never quite happened but here is the ebook cover I prepared at the time.  Any comments gratefully accepted.

For the first time since 2006, I have just re-read the editor's report and it now doesn't seem nearly as harsh as it did back then.  In fact, I can see what she was driving at AND I can see that the Itinerant Poet is implementing some of the changes even though he cannot remember anything much about the report.  Perhaps he has "grown" as a writer and it is showing through.

I recently read an article about the importance of a good editor to self-publishers (read the page at A Dystopian Future) and am now thinking that it may be worth laying out some more cash.  However, I will use the old report as a guide first and then look again.  I may even consider documenting the re-birth of the book via the blog and include some excerpts.  What do you think?

In the meantime, here is the video we made way back in 2011/12 that just happens to start with a bouncing retriever...

...NOOOOO that's not a bouncing (much) retriever, that's my backside!  Watch the next bit!

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Maria Miller bound to bounce back - nothing new in politics!

Just had to put this poem up that the Itinerant Poet wrote way back in the 90s but, unsurprisingly still resonant today with the Maria Miller fiasco.


Let's all do the cabinet reshuffle
If you can't do a job
Don't worry it's no trouble
'Cos nobody can
Despite the nod
Come on and a-shuffle
Like policeman plod!

Let's all shuffle with the cabinet.
Hubble, bubble, toil, no trouble.
Ip-dip-applepip and you are out of it
One potato more and you are back again.

(C) 1998 David J. Mason

Friday, 4 April 2014

Experimenting with social media and brands

I currently find myself venturing into the world of social media.  I have toyed with it before and used Facebook to keep in touch with friends but I have not yet been brave enough to take on the challenge of trying to make it really WORK for our business.

 It occurred to me that one of the problems with Inspire To Write, is its identity.  The creative consultancy side is the main earner and is the service delivered to schools.  However, there is also the performance poetry side (overlapping with the consultancy), ditto the story-telling.  Then there are the books and the music.

Divide and conquer?

I decided it would be easiest to start with the creative consultancy.  I set up a Twitter account for this purpose @mason_creative and started selecting educationally related sites/people to follow.  This extended occasionally to publishing and poetry.  The good news is that currently 22% of people I followed have followed me back plus a few who found me and followed - I have generally reciprocated.  I have yet to find out how come some have tens of thousands of followers and if they have been generated via an app, just dedicated clicking or otherwise!  Hootsuite is the next phase, automating the posts to each Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn account.

I intend to set up a separate identity for North Street Publishing that leads to our book shop page, Amazon and any other platforms I upload the digital books on to.  The music and poetry will lurk on the YouTube channel that I set up some years ago but which needs some updating.  I just need time to get my head round the rest of it before taking that on too.

My thanks go to...

Stephan J. Myers who spent time talking me through some strategies that have been successful for him.  Hopefully I can return the favour regarding the creative consultancy aspects in due course.  Stephan is the author and illustrator of the wonderful Loss de Plott stories and The Prayer.  Here is a link to his page on