Frome FM (96.6FM)

If you fancy some lunchtime conversation, tune into the Frome FM Book Club (96.6FM or online) on Friday, 27th April, at 1pm. I will be talking about An Other’s Look and how I came to write it.

I’m doubly excited about this because we’ll also be discussing Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick and The Rabbit Back Literature Society by Pasi Ilmari Jaaskelainen. My book in such exalted company!

The Wrong Story Blog Book Tour

The Wrong Story, is going on a blog book tour. Here’s the poster with its itinerary. I’ve asked it to send postcards. Do you think I should have a tour T-shirt made up?

The Wrong Story Blog Tour Poster

By the way, if you want to help its sibling to get out there and join it, there’s still time to pledge for An Other’s Look at

Don’t hand out leaflets, Stephen. I’ll do it.

My next few months are now defined – crowdfunding my new novel, An Other’s Look, which is going to be published by Unbound. The site has gone live and here it is!

I spent all last year writing it, following the Stephen King model: I wrote the first draft as fast as I could, kept it hidden and let it brew. Only after the second draft was complete did I let it out for peer review. And then a third draft before submitting it. (No doubt there will be a few more when the editors get their hands on it.) It worked. I think. Well, I’ll find out

Sager minds than mine who have been through this crowdfunding process more than once advise me that it can be even tougher the second time around. I didn’t think that was possible.

Screen Shot 2018-02-19 at 12.02.06
An Other’s Look leaflet

I hope I’ve learned something since I worked with Unbound on The Wrong Story. I’ve prepared my leaflets ahead of time and I’m looking forward to the windy, rainy days when I can stand on street corners handing them out. Not sure Stephen King does that, but you never know. Actually, I hope he doesn’t because he should be at home in the warm writing more novels. If he wants any leaflets handing out, I’ll do it.

Anyway, returning to topic, we’ve enhanced the reward levels so that now, pledging is as much about pre-ordering one or more paperback copies as supporting the novel’s publication. There will also be bundle options, book club rewards and aspiring writer’s workshops on the reward list.

I’ve improved the video too by keeping my face out of it for as much as possible. That was a definite plus. Of course, I show up in it towards the end – it would be rude not to, but by that time I hope the message has come across and people aren’t too distracted by what appears to be me looking into a spoon. Stephen King n

Feedback, as ever, warmly received.

The Wrong Story – 503g of obsession

I am obsessed. For the past week The Wrong Story has been available for pre-order. I could go online and look at it, pre-order it if I wanted, search for it. And I have. I can’t stop looking at it. Sales rankings and review stars. At the beginning of the week I was in the top 35000. Yippee!

I have an ISBN, or rather the book does and now I insist on telling people about the breakdown of that number, what it means and why. I searched on it and found my book available for pre-order in France. I spent an hour translating the specification. Guess what? It was exactly the same as the English version.

And it has a shipping weight – 503g. That seems rather heavy for a paperback. I wanted to discuss this aspect in great detail but suddenly I was alone in the room. I compared that weight to many other books and I was right. It is substantial. Does that include the packaging? Has it been printed on vellum or a light metal such as Titanium? What else weighs 503g? I discovered that in making explosives, 503g of a certain compound is required. Now, how long will it be before there is a knock on the door and I am the subject of a rendition?

After months of writing, crowdfunding, editing, hoping and waiting, The Wrong Story is now available to buy, read, review and comment on. So, it’s time to let it go. Stop doing all this and focus on novel number two.

Yes. Let it go…

…but in the meantime, just in case… Click here to see it on Amazon



I’m in control and I’ve got a spreadsheet to prove it…

It’s been a month now since I began my new life as a full-time writer and things haven’t progressed as well as I’d hoped. On the plus-side, I have registered as self-employed and cleared my ‘to do’ list of anything that wasn’t directly to do with writing – other than ukulele practice, of course. I have completed my feedback on my friend’s novel, put the PhD idea on the back-burner and prepared for a  reading later this month. Oh yes, and I’ve sketched out a short-story for a BBC competition. I’ve even been in touch with Unbound and should be getting the page proofs (press ready files) for The Wrong Story to review in the next day or so.

That’s all good. But on the negative-side I have only written one word of my new novel. One word. 1. It is a good word but it needs company. My friend’s novel has 104,000 words. So I’ve constructed a spreadsheet that lays out the challenge. It’s colour-coded with lots of formulae and conditional formatting and pivot tables and all that stuff. It took ages. Then I looked at all the how-to writing books I’ve got, and googled all the how-to writing articles that are out there, and fed that data into my spreadsheet too. That also took ages. But now, just by entering a date, I can calculate when I need to have written the structure, plot points, chapters, characters, scenarios, big scenes, little scenes and upside down scenes of my new novel.

So, let’s see… ah yes. According to my spreadsheet I have to stop faffing around and get writing immediately. Hmmm, I knew that already but I suppose it’s nice to see it laid out in a column.


Go leaflets, go!

From an anthropological perspective (and try saying that with a mouthful of toffee) it’s interesting how people react when I ask them to pledge support for my novel. Some I feel I offend simply by raising the subject. Others ask for more detailed information – certificates of authentication, my licence to write, recent police records, that sort of thing – and one said they might pledge but only after reading the book (that threw me).

But most people just say ‘yes’ and it makes me want to hug them. Over twenty people from my Masters course jumped in without demur. A similar number of friends and colleagues from work stumped up their hard-earned cash and scarcely broke sweat. Friends, family, well-wishers and other writers, other Unbounders, attendees at public readings, have all shouted ‘yes’. My first friend at primary school, from 50 years ago, to whom I haven’t spoken for over 30 years, and whom I found on Facebook and promptly mugged, threw  in his money with a humbling generosity. (Have I got all my whoms right here? They are tricky devils. I work on a he/she, him/her basis.)

As I write, 104 people have pledged 70% of my target. There’s a mighty hugfest brewing.

Now it’s time to launch the next stage of the campaign: Project Leaflet. Yes, I’m going old-school: leaflets in cafes, leaflets in libraries, leaflets in bookshops , leaflets through letterboxes – you name it, I’ll leaflet it. If it moves I’ll hand it out, if it doesn’t I’ll stick it on. I am sorry a small tree died to make this possible, but I will plant a new one in its honour this autumn.

And here they are! Waiting like paratroopers to be deployed. Go leaflets, go!


Why Unbound is the right choice for The Wrong Story

Two years ago I started writing my first novel The Wrong Story. Now, bar the final edits, it’s complete. To some extent I thought the journey was over: I’m a writer, I have written. Veni, vidi, vici.

But of course, the journey has only just begun. There is the little matter of publication and distribution. Engaging with mainstream publishers can be a bruising experience. The simple fact is, with diminishing margins and outlets mainstream publishers are less willing and less able to be adventurous with their lists of new authors. We all know this and I accepted it as a universal truth: that is the way it is. Get over it.

But I am learning that it doesn’t have to be that way. I was introduced to Unbound, the trading name of United Authors Publishing, a curated crowdfunding publisher. Unbound are like a mainstream publisher in that they edit, advise, provide high-spec graphic design, run marketing campaigns and publicise. They also distribute through Penguin Random House, which, let’s face it, is pretty good. The difference between Unbound and the traditional publishing model is that their production costs are covered through crowdfunding – people pledging money. This mitigates risk and gives a good view of the potential market.

That all sounds very now, but to be honest I hated the thought of asking people, including friends and family, for money. However, the more I thought about it the more I got it: it wouldn’t be me that would be getting funded, it would be the project, the book. And that, for me, is what this whole journey is about.

I remember standing up for the first public reading of one of my short stories: my legs turned to jelly, my mouth became drier than sandpaper and it seemed quite likely that I would fall over. But none of that mattered because having people hear the story was more important than my physical collapse. I would read it from the floor if I had to. I get the same feeling now when I think about seeking pledges. I want people to read the book.

Of course, the ‘curated’ aspect of Unbound’s business model means that they are as choosy as any mainstream publisher. With all the care and attention I would give to any submission, I pitched my story and then waited in that familiar silence for a yes or a no. But Unbound are fast and after only six weeks (which included the Christmas holidays) they responded – and to my deep joy it was a yes.

So now the journey continues. The contract is signed, I have my own pages on the Unbound site, a ‘shed’ in which I can talk to all my pledgers, a video (oh dear), a sample of the novel, a synopsis, a biography and so on. Unbound are very active on my behalf in pushing the project, but the bringing in of pledges is largely down to me. So I’m getting on with it – tweeting, emailing, going to readings, handing out flyers – and doing all the things that have to be done in order to get the book out there. And it’s exciting. I feel energised and I feel involved in the entire lifecycle of my book. I’m discovering that being an author is not just about writing.

It helps enormously that Unbound believe in The Wrong Story as much as I do. It also helps that I genuinely believe in Unbound – they’re responsive, committed, helpful and very enthusiastic. They’ve got a great list of authors and through their crowdfunding model they’re able to promote a stunning array of titles, one of which made the 2014 Man Booker Prize longlist. It is very now, and it does feel very right.

Looking back, when I was first introduced to Unbound my immediate question was, why would I choose to crowdfund my book? I now realise the question I should have asked was, why wouldn’t I?

To help make The Wrong Story this year’s bestseller (hem), please follow this link and pledge here:

For more information on Unbound, please follow this link: