It’s a pleasure today to be joining the blog tour for The Road to Cromer Pier, the second novel by Martin Gore, published for kindle on 9th June (also available in paperback), and available for purchase via Amazon in the UK and US. My thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for the invitation to join the tour, and for her ongoing support.
I can remember Martin’s first novel – Pen Pals – catching my eye, and it was one I’d have rather liked to read had I been able to carve out the reading space. And I’m sorry that the same log jam has made it impossible to read this one – but there’s so much about it that makes me think it’d be a book I’d enjoy…
Janet’s first love arrives out of the blue after forty years. Those were simpler times for them both. Sunny childhood beach holidays, fish and chips and big copper pennies clunking into one armed bandits.
The Wells family has run the Cromer Pier Summertime Special Show for generations. But it’s now 2009 and the recession is biting hard. Owner Janet Wells and daughter Karen are facing an uncertain future. The show must go on, and Janet gambles on a fading talent show star. But both the star and the other cast members have their demons. This is a story of love, loyalty and luvvies. The road to Cromer Pier might be the end of their careers, or it might just be a new beginning.
I’m delighted to welcome Martin as my guest on Being Anne, with his observations – as a two book author (his words, not mine!) – on independent writing…
It is important for any writer to realise when starting out that you are:
a) Unlikely to be the next J K Rowling
b) Unlikely to get a book deal
c) Unlikely to make money
d) Going to need to spend more time marketing your book than you did writing it.
I guess I should say at the start of this that I do not consider myself a successful writer, although my first novel, Pen Pals, did get some great reviews. It is therefore difficult to offer definitive guidance as to what you should do. Regrettably this piece rather tells the aspiring writer what NOT to do. Being naturally of positive disposition however writing in this vain is rather counter intuitive to me. So you have slaved for months and now have a 80000 word novel. What should you NOT do?
Well here are my seven deadly sins:
1) Do not submit an unedited work to 45 Literary Agents as I did. Having an copy editor review the structure and flow of the story from a reader’s perspective is crucial. We all have hobby horses and points we feel strongly about, the trouble is that once the reader has heard this more than once he or she gets BORED. If you are by any chance the next J K Rowling then you can ignore this advice around editing, because she submitted Harry Potter as an unedited typed manuscript and…….well..
2) Do not skimp on proof reading. You may think that you have a good standard of English (I did!) but the reality is that even if you do you are too close to your work to spot mistakes in the giant haystack of a novel. Readers and reviewers will punish poor grammar and spelling, so cough up the money for a proper proof reader.
3) Do not TELL the story, but SHOW it. Show don’t tell is a mantra which any writing school will espouse. Don’t say your character has a headache, tell us his symptoms which lets us draw that conclusion. Telling is just simply very boring, and a bored reader won’t stay with it. Again if you are Jeffery Archer you can ignore this advice, because trust me he does!
4) I started by writing plays, and read a playwriting book by Alan Ayckbourn. He said that you must keep the audience guessing, and not release the plot too quickly. If you do the audience gets BORED. If you take this too far however the audience gets LOST. Who said that this was meant to be easy?
5) If you submit your manuscript some will write back saying that they would LOVE to publish your book! Success! You see artistic Nirvana approaching along with your Booker prize! Alas not. More likely than not they will offer to publish your work…… at a hefty price of course. Don’t go there!
6) There are reputable players in the market who offer publishing packages, including editing and marketing services. The only problem is that they tend to be expensive, and they will be the first to tell you that they don’t guarantee success.
7) You can hire PR services who claim to get you press and media coverage. Having talked to one author who used such services she enjoyed the PR buzz, but questioned whether the buzz translated into sales? It’s only one point of view, but for me it made me decide that I had better ways of losing my money.
Okay so now I have put you off entirely. Well don’t give up because self publishing your book has never been easier, and can be done at reasonable cost.
1) Technology is your friend. A simple word manuscript can be edited, proof read, formatted and published on Amazon remarkably cheaply. I used People Per Hour to identify three professionals to work for me at a sensible cost. Each contractor can bid for your project, and has ratings from previous users. I have hired all of the skills I need at sensible money.
2) Be active on twitter and facebook. Follow readers and bloggers and post stuff about your book. People are fascinated when you say you’ve published a book, and want to read about it. Find facebook groups interested in your subject, and talk about it on there. Interact with readers and book bloggers. Gaining Amazon reviews is key to building a profile.
3) Talk to your local library and book group. They like authors and will try to help if they can.
4) Talk to Waterstones. If you fill in the forms required for a Gardner’s account you will get a listing, allowing you to invite readers to order your book in Waterstones shops.
5) W H Smith have recently opened up to hosting independent authors for book signings in their shops. Meeting readers can be daunting at first, but you soon find common ground with open questions about what they are reading now.
6) Book covers are crucial, so get something that stands out from the crowd. I used Simon Hartshorne of People per Hour. He provides simple pen and ink drawings to my brief, but they are very effective.
So don’t be put off by it all. Writing a novel is something few have done, and many aspire to. Sure you’ll get bad reviews (mine were all grammar related so be warned). But also some great ones. My favourite was from a reader who was an adopted child. She says that in Pen Pals I got her attitude to her birth mother spot on. It’s those comments that keep you going, and seeing your printed paperback in the flesh for the first time is fabulous!
Thank you Martin – some excellent advice there! Wishing you every success with The Road to Cromer Pier, and I do hope to catch up with your writing at some point in the future…
About the author
I am a 61 year old Accountant who semi-retired to explore my love of creative writing. In my career I held Board level jobs for over twenty five years, in private, public and third sector organisations. I was born in Coventry, a city then dominated by the car industry and high volume manufacturing. Jaguar, Triumph, Talbot, Rolls Royce, Courtaulds, Massey Ferguson were the major employers, to name but a few.
When I was nine years old I told my long suffering mother that as I liked English composition and drama I was going to be a Playwright. She told me that I should work hard at school and get a proper job. She was right of course.
I started as an Office Junior at Jaguar in 1973 at eleven pounds sixty four a week. I thus grew up in the strike torn, class divided seventies. My first career ended in 2015, when I semi retired as Director of Corporate services at Humberside Probation. My second career, as a Non Executive Director, is great as it has allowed me free time to travel and indulge my passion for writing, both in novels and for theatre.
The opportunity to rekindle my interest in writing came in 2009, when I wrote my first pantomime, Cinderella, for my home group, the Walkington Pantomime Players. I have now written eight. I love theatre, particularly musical theatre, and completed the Hull Truck Theatre Playwrite course in 2010. My first play, a comedy called He’s Behind You, had its first highly successful showing in January 2016, so I intend to move forward in all three creative areas. Pen Pals was my first novel, but a second, The Road to Cromer Pier, will be released in the Summer of 2019.
I’m an old fashioned writer I guess. I want you to laugh and to cry. I want you to believe in my characters, and feel that my stories have a beginning, a middle, and a satisfactory ending.