Despite all the financial doom and gloom over the last few years, British publishers seem to be bucking the trend as they have reported record sales in 2012.
According to this article on the BBC Website, total spending on books (both printed and digital form) rose to £3.3bn in 2012. That represents a 4% increase on the previous year.
I keep hearing that e-book sales are going to swallow their print counterparts, but when you consider just £400m of these sales were e-books with the rest being print copies, the feel of the paperback still seems to be winning the readers over.
Having said that, digital sales did increase by 66% compared with physical sales seeing a small 1% drop.
Overall, the book business still seems to be in good shape and though these numbers don’t take into account self-published titles (weighted more towards digital sales than print), the demise of the paperback is greatly exaggerated.
I still think authors/publishers are missing a trick. This is their chance to sell back catalogue books cheaper than the paperback versions. I know I would buy more older books if they weren’t priced at £4.99-£5.99 for the Kindle.
They might not like the e-reader, but it is here to stay and they could boost their sales more by taking the cost of printing, storage and delivery of the book off the price for the consumer. Because of VAT you can pay more for an e-book than the paperback, which has to be wrong, particularly for older titles.
I’m not going to mention the most popular books over the last year, because I think we all know which series takes that honour, but I did want to investigate my own trends.
Between my wife and I, we have downloaded over 100 books in the last 18 months and bought less than 10 print books. Go e-books!
I buy more books now than ever before and more than I can read. I have enough to keep me going for the next three or four years.
How many books do you buy?
What ratio of those are e-books?
Last week we experienced some sunshine! I commemorated this rare event with a photograph of my magnolia plant. Look at the colour of the sky!
Filed under: E-Book, General, Reading, Writing | 33 Comments
Tags: BBC, E-book, Kindle, Paperback, photography, Publishing, Reading, Writing
It passed by in a blur and I could have slept for a week after posting my letter Z post last Tuesday. Well, if work didn’t insist on me going in to the office everyday.
Now the dust has settled, I thought I’d do a wrap-up post re my first experience of the A to Z Challenge.
Firstly, thank you all for your visits, comments, likes and support during the month. I couldn’t have completed the challenge without it. There were over 500 comments (over 1,000 including my replies), you doubled my previous best month for hits and over 100 new followers signed up.
How was it for you?
I found this challenge more INTENSE than Camp NaNo.
You might think that’s a crazy assessment, you might not. Having to write 26 posts in one month really challenged me. I didn’t want to post a few photographs and call that it. I tried to embrace the A to Z Challenge and push myself.
Let me clarify something. I call myself a PLANNER. I’m a DISGRACE!
My idea of planning for this challenge was so inadequate it was laughable. Seriously, I had titles for around 11 posts.
That was my extent of planning. A TITLE!
Of the 11 titles, I changed FIVE of them and had only three pre-written posts by the 1st April. On reflection, that was not enough. Next year I will have more posts drafted before the start. Promise.
I even managed to edit 12k words of I Can See You during the first couple of weeks. Next time, I need to just concentrate on the blogging during this challenge.
But, you enjoyed it, right?
I have had a blast.
Despite the poorly planned start (on my part), I’ve been more organised in my blogging than ever before and I’ve loved every minute of it. I’ve also met LOADS of new bloggers and followed many, many, many new interesting blogs.
If you’re wanting a concentrated list of new sites to visit, then I recommend the A to Z Challenge list as a great place to start. A high-percentage of sites are tagged whether they are about Writing, Books, Cookery, photography etc.
I think this was a good touch and I’ve visited a good number so far and over the next few weeks, I plan on visiting as many of the Writing related blogs on the list as I can.
I like completing these challenges and receiving the “I Survived” badge. Jeremy Hawkins from Retro-Zombie designed this one and I display it with pride.
If you’re thinking about taking part next April, you have plenty of time for planning your posts and I would have a theme in mind and possibly posts planned. Go on, give it a go. You might have a blast too.
Thanks for reading.
Here are a few pictures that didn’t make the cut into the A to Z Challenge Posts.
Filed under: A to Z Blogging Challenge, Writing | 40 Comments
Tags: A to Z Challenge, castleton, Kittens, photography, putteney bridge, Reading, symonds yat, Writing
We made it!
This is the last day of April and the last letter of the alphabet, which means the final post in the 2013 A to Z Challenge. Again, a big thank you to the challenge founder, Arlee Bird, I have had a blast this month.
Originally, I planned on writing a lame post with Zzzzzz as the title as I’m knackered and plan on sleeping for the next 7 days.
But, I didn’t like the idea of a cop-out post and flicked through the dictionary, desperate for another Z title. I read all the words out loud to see if anything inspired me and as I moved beyond Zone, my wife stopped me and said, “why don’t you write a post about when you’re in the zone.”
Why didn’t I think of that?
Over the course of the month, I written posts about forensic techniques to inspire your crime writing, posts about festivals and writing techniques that help me get into the writing zone. Challenges like this and NaNo help push you towards a target or an end goal, but does a target help get you into the zone?
I’m not sure that it does.
The A to Z Challenge has made me write daily, like NaNo does, but I wouldn’t say I’ve been in the zone whilst writing the posts. Few of them were written in one draft and when I’m in the zone, I don’t stop writing for anybody.
As a planner, I think I head into the zone when I feel at one with my characters. They tell me what they want to do next and I pour those words onto my screen. When I’m happy with the plot and everything is in place, that’s when I’m in the zone.
Whether it be a blog post, the next chapter of my book or editing the previous one, when I can concentrate on the subject and my muse is by my side, I can hit the zone and ride like the wind for as long as I can. NaNo and other challenges help, but without knowing my characters and without my planning, I don’t always reach the zone. When I do, there is nothing like it.
How do you get into the right ZONE for writing?
This is my Z post for the A to Z Blogging Challenge. A list of all my A to Z Blogging Challenge posts are to be found here.
So, at the beginning of this challenge I had the crazy idea to post photographs inspired by letters of the alphabet. Like it wasn’t already difficult enough to write a post about the alphabet, I had to go and complicate things.
Now the challenge is over I can admit that I had photographs of Abe, my much-loved and much missed cat, and Billy our first family cat lined up and NOTHING ELSE!
I had nothing and yet committed myself to this CRAZY Challenge on two fronts. Thankfully, I take a lot of photographs and my pictures folder on my laptop and my printer/scanner being on hand to include some older photographs from storage in our loft, meant I’ve managed to hit all the letters.
Well, all except this last one. Today’s photographs are from what this post was originally going to be: Zzzzzzzzz. Snooze time and a couple of picture of our Munchie is full-on nap mode.
Filed under: A to Z Blogging Challenge, Writing | 49 Comments
Tags: A to Z Challenge, cats, NaNoWriMo, photography, Reading, Writing, Z
This is the penultimate post of the 2013 A to Z Challenge. After this, just one more to go!
Yesterdays is the title of the post and I’m talking about flashbacks.
One school of thought is that you should never start your novel with a flashback. I’ve read this in a number of places recently (including from Linda over at My Corner of the World) though a couple of good books I’ve read started with a flashback and they were both cracking reads. Like all the rules, they can be broken if you do it well.
I like to think of my flashbacks in two forms.
- You have your daydream. Your character whilst doing one thing, thinking back to an earlier time and/or place.
- Full cinematic flashback. A scene in its own right to help set the context within your story.
When I started writing I Can See You, my police procedural, the flashback was firmly in my mind as I started the planning. Two of the first scenes mapped out were flashbacks sowing the seed for one of the back stories of the novel. I like to use the power they can have as they transport you back to the time and place you want your reader to visit.
I don’t want too much of the narrative to be in flashback form. A few scenes and maybe only 10 pages are devoted to them in my WIP, but without them, I don’t think the story flows properly. I think of the flashback as my friend.
Television and Film can make excellent use of flashbacks. Lost fans probably SCREAM at the thought of flashbacks, but they can serve as a valuable tool in your writing arsenal.
So, when you are writing about your character and what they are doing today and tomorrow, don’t forget the tool that is writing about their yesterdays.
Do you make use of Flashbacks in your stories? Or, avoid them like the plague?
This is my Y post for the A to Z Blogging Challenge. A list of all my A to Z Blogging Challenge posts are to be found here.
Today’s pictures are from my 1990 trip to Yosemite National Park. Yosemite is one of those places where I could have stayed for the rest of my life and been happy. I could cope with living there and never setting foot outside its perimeter. Enjoy!
Filed under: A to Z Blogging Challenge, Writing | 35 Comments
Tags: A to Z Challenge, Flashbacks, photography, Reading, United States, Writing, Yesterday, Yosemite National Park
We have reached the more interesting letters of the alphabet. Today is the dreaded X. Arguably the most difficult letter to blog about from a writing point of view.
I had the idea for this post several months ago. A week or so after I finished writing the first draft of A Scream in the Woods from Camp NaNo, I printed it off and tried to put it out of sight and out of mind for a few months. My mind wouldn’t let me off that easily and I kept thinking about the second draft and what I wanted to do. How I wanted to play it.
It made me think about how I would approach the second draft this time. To do that, I need to break the story down to the bare bones and see what’s missing. Sort of X-ray the story to see underneath the first draft.
I don’t know about you, but when I write a first draft I don’t put everything into the story. There will be parts I leave out or at least leave vague. For me, a second draft will often see me either merge a couple of characters together, or even split a character out into a couple of others. I will add more details, more twists and background data.
I do the second draft after the x-ray. Almost bullet-point the story again and see that the ankle bone’s connected to the leg bone. And all that. Sorry if that song is now running through your mind. The leg bone’s connected to the hip bone.
As a crime/thriller writer, I need to make sure the ankle bones is not connected to the neck bone. I might start with a plan, but I do deviate from it and might not always get things back on track so that any of my story makes sense. The X-ray after the first draft lets me bring my story back to the planning board and ready myself for the next round.
Do you X-Ray your story at the end of your first draft?
This is my X post for the A to Z Blogging Challenge. A list of all my A to Z Blogging Challenge posts are to be found here.
I have an App that lets you take photos with different styles and one of them is X-Ray. Today’s photos are a couple from around the house. Strange how some items look completely different through an X-Ray filter.
Filed under: A to Z Blogging Challenge, Writing | 23 Comments
Tags: A to Z Challenge, photography, Reading, Writers Resources, Writing, X-ray
They say that writing is a lonely occupation. Not wrong are they?
There are times in your writing life that you need to sit and talk with other writers. Like anything you’re interested in, you talk to your friends or your family. People who share a passion for the same things as you are going to want to talk about it. Help you through the tough times and the doubts.
A writing group should be the same. Providing you can get into one that suits your needs then it can be a wonderful experience and one to help inspire you to keep writing.
I’ve mentioned before about the Steel City Writers. We studied the same Open University course and met through that both on-line forums and a couple of tutorials. A few of us have kept in touch and we meet up every couple of months. We even published a FREE anthology of our work: Just Get It Out There.
Our group is more about helping each other with encouragement and advice. We spur each other on to keep writing. I know some groups are more about taking your work along and reading or critiquing at the meetings. I don’t think I would like that to be honest. I just want to be able to talk about writing with people who are experiencing the same doubts and pressures against their time.
I’d feel self-conscious about reading my work to others even though I’m happy now to let people read my stuff and pass comment. In a concentrated form I think that might stress me out too much.
I know when I’m feeling doubt and finding my writing a slow progress, a meeting of the group keeps me going for the next few weeks.
Do you belong to a Writing Group? What are your experiences?
This is my W post for the A to Z Blogging Challenge. A list of all my A to Z Blogging Challenge posts are to be found here.
Today’s photographs are of Warwick Castle. Shocked? I could have gone for Whitby, but I’ve done the coastal theme enough for this challenge.
Filed under: A to Z Blogging Challenge, Writing | 38 Comments
Tags: A to Z Challenge, Open University, photography, Reading, Warwick Castle, Writing, Writing circle, Writing Groups
A couple of months ago, I was scrolling through the WordPress reader and a blog caught my eye.
As they do.
The title of the post was something like “Finished, time to publish” and I clicked to check it out. The upshot of the post was they had just finished the draft of their book, corrected a couple of commas and they were publishing it a couple of days later.
A couple of DAYS.
This was a first draft. They commented on it being a first draft and that there were probably loads of mistakes and yet they were slapping on a cover and selling it on Amazon.
I appreciate that there comes a time when you have to let your work stand (or fall) on its own, but come on. This is where self-publishing gets a bad name. We all need to validate our work. To make sure it IS the best it can be and for that you need more than your own eyes reading the words.
I’m reassured when I read writing bloggers comment that their manuscript is with their editor, or with their proofreader. Another set of eyes to validate the writing, check for errors, make sure it IS the best it can be.
Another comforting post to read is when you send your manuscript to a beta reader. Until I started blogging, I’d never heard this term before. I love the idea of your book, your story being read by someone during the latter stages of development. A chance to test your ideas with actual readers to give you a chance to consider their views and opinions as you finalise your manuscript.
I’m heading towards finishing the third draft of I Can See You and I have a couple of beta readers lined up. I know them both, but I know they will give me honest feedback. From their reactions to my manuscript, I’ll know what work I need to do before my book is ready to release out into the world. My final piece of validation.
What is your experience working with beta readers?
How did you pick who to offer first read of your work?
This is my V post for the A to Z Blogging Challenge. A list of all my A to Z Blogging Challenge posts are to be found here.
The photographs today are from Venice, Verona and a night-time shot of Vegas from 1990.
Filed under: A to Z Blogging Challenge, Writing | 46 Comments
Tags: A to Z Challenge, Beta reader, Manuscript, photography, Reading, Writing
This is the last post in my Forensics series for this A to Z Challenge. I’ve had fun with these and I hope they’ve helped you identify some elements of plot you could include in your novels, whether they be in the crime genre or not.
Dr. Edmond Locard, a forensic science pioneer, had a theory that became known as Locard’s exchange principle:
“Every contact leaves a trace.”
Unless you move around in a fully protective space suit, you’re likely to leave trace evidence wherever you go. Be it, fingerprints as you open doors, or handle a glass for your drink, or the impressions your feet leave walking across a freshly weeded garden.
What if you then went into someone’s home and deposited the soil on their kitchen floor. You could have also walked through a freshly painted floor and a combination of the two are left in the kitchen. When the police arrive to investigate the case of the stolen cookies, you are likely to incriminate yourself through the trace on your shoes.
And, if your cookie stealing, mud spreading villain broke a window to steal those delicious treats, then they could well have glass shards caught in their clothing, footwear and about their personage. Whilst most of these fragments would work loose within hours, it could still be an avenue for your detective to investigate.
When the case is slightly more serious than stolen cookies, and a struggle, possibly violent struggle has taken place then other evidence will be left behind. One of the most common will be hair.
As well as the possibility of obtaining a DNA sample, hair can be examined to show the species it originated from. That walk in the park with the dog, could be a pointer to whodunnit in your novel, so could the cat hairs deposited from around your criminal’s ankles where their cat rubbed up against them waiting for breakfast.
You also have other fibres. The most common one will be either clothing or carpets. Did your killer put their victim in the boot of their car? Well fibres from the boot are likely to be present when your detective finds the body. That and the blood traces found inside the boot will take some explaining.
If every contact leaves a trace then think about how your criminal arrived at the scene, what interaction they had whilst they were committing the crime and what they could have left behind for your detective and crime scene characters to find.
I hope these posts have stimulated some crime writing ideas for you or things to think about when you decide to break the rules and go for that extra cookie in the middle of the night.
Happy Crime Writing!
This is my U post for the A to Z Blogging Challenge. A list of all my A to Z Blogging Challenge posts are to be found here.
Today my photographs are from Universal Studios L.A from back in 1990.
Filed under: A to Z Blogging Challenge, Writing | 17 Comments
Tags: A to Z Challenge, Crime, Dr Edmond locard, Forensic science, photography, Reading, Trace Evidence, Universal Studios, Writing
For years I’d heard about this software programme that would change the way I approached my writing. I downloaded the trial and it seemed complicated at first, but I read through the tutorial and decided last August to use it for Camp NaNo.
I thought I would use the competition and a new project as a trial run to see how I got on. I wrote the first draft of A Scream In The Woods exclusively using Scrivener and I loved it.
No going back now!
Word served its purpose, but now I see it as too one-dimensional. I’ve bought into the Scrivener Project mode where you can have everything at your fingertips.
I suppose it depends on how you work. If you write using one file and have hand written cards for character profiles then you might not think this is worth it.
I have a Word .doc file for each chapter and another .doc file for each character detailing their traits and information relevant to the current WIP. I’d be forever flicking between files trying to find what I wanted.
Scrivener lets you organise all this in one place. If you want to split your scenes down you can do that under each chapter’s folder. Then if you want to move scenes around. Drag and drop and it’s done. Easy peasy.
Rather than having to open loads of documents, I now open the one file. When I want to remember what car my character drives I click on characters and the information is there. I have a few bits of research copied and pasted from the web. It’s where I want it under Research.
I thought it was complicated, but the more I use it, the more it dawns on me that it isn’t. I’m sure there are features I don’t use that would save me even more time. Right now, I wouldn’t go back to using Word or anything else.
I’m not on commission, but the 30 day trial is free so if you were thinking of giving Scrivener a go you have nothing to lose.
What do you think about the Scrivener and other writing programmes? What do you use?
This is my S post for the A to Z Blogging Challenge. A list of all my A to Z Blogging Challenge posts are to be found here.
Today’s photographs are a variety of sunsets.
Filed under: A to Z Blogging Challenge, Writing | 62 Comments
Tags: A to Z Challenge, Microsoft Word, photography, Reading, Scrivener, Scrivener Project, Sunsets, Writer Resources, Writing