*** NEWSFLASH *** NEWSFLASH *** NEWSFLASH ***

Fear not, faithful readers! There IS news in here, but no flash – so, no animation that upsets your iPad, no strobing photography, and no pictures of my arse.

Okay, maybe one picture of my arse.

But the point is – I have NEWS!

This week I had an exciting delivery. Several actually, which is one of the benefits of buying all your own Christmas presents – no, don’t feel sad! Trust me – it’s better this way. I get exactly what I want, and friends are over-rated anyway, and… and… *sniff*

Um, where was I? Oh yes. A delivery.

I received the FIRST EVER PAPERBACK COPY of my book ‘That Bear Ate My Pants!’

paperback copy in package

Now, I was tempted to do a proof copy unboxing video, like the very awesome, uber-succesful indie author Hugh Howey does for his amazing ‘WOOL’ books.

(NB – if you haven’t bought the WOOL books already, you’re freakin’ crazy. Go get them ALL – right NOW. No! I meant after you finish reading my blog p… oh, what’s the point. You’ve gone already, haven’t you?)

Echo…?

ECHO…

But. No video. Because I’m too damn ugly. Plus I’ve spent the last week pulling 18 hour days trying to get my second book edited, so I’d look like hell even if I wasn’t damn ugly.

Instead, here is a pretty picture – of the book itself!

Paperback copy

Oooh! See, I told you it was pretty!

Here’s a less-pretty picture of what happened to me last night during the editing process. I nipped to the toilet, and when I came back to my computer the ENTIRE FILE of Book 2 had been overwritten with bold asterisks?!?!

Screen shot of computer error

If I hadn’t just been to the loo, I’d have shit myself on the spot.

To cut a long story short, my trusty MacBook had spazzed out – probably because I haven’t turned him off in the last three months – and he was fine again after a reset. The document, however, was ruined, and I had to find my most recent back-up (from the night before) and re-do all that day’s edits.

So remember kids – ALWAYS back-up!

If I hadn’t, they’d be talking me down from the top of a tall building right now.

Anyway, before this gets too long, let me reiterate: ‘That Bear Ate My Pants!’ is now available in paperback! So for all those technophobes in your life, who refused to read it no matter how much you whined at them – now’s the chance! Get one for Christmas. If nothing else, the paperback version makes considerably better fuel for the fire than the electronic one…

Hm. I might start an ad campaign based on that. Buy my book – burn it – save a pensioner! (From the cold of course. I’m not suggesting you normally burn pensioners…)

Burn my book - save pensioners!Sorry! I’ve got lost again. Oh yeah. Buy my book! Because at long last, it’s a real book :0)

Amazon US: ‘That Bear Ate My Pants!’ Paperback

Amazon UK: ‘That Bear Ate My Pants!’ Paperback

And now that’s all done, I hate to leave a promise unfulfilled. So we might as well end on the bottom; literally, metaphorically, and in terms of tone. Not that it is particularly toned…

My bum!

Oh, sorry! I meant to say: Look away now if you’ve got a weak stomach. Too late now, I guess…  :0)

THANK-YOU!!!

For them that’s wondering (and have been hiding under a stone for the last week while I’ve been shouting it from the rooftops) – the free promotion of ‘That Bear Ate My Pants!’ was a huge success. Okay, that’s not big enough; it was a

HUGE

success!

In total, 22,701 people downloaded a copy of the book – that’s Twenty-two thousand, seven-hundred and one for those who prefer text to figures.

I rose as high as no.9 overall in the Amazon.com free charts, and held onto the coveted no.1 spot overall on Amazon.co.uk for most of the day!

I’m over the moon. Obviously! Which is why I’d decided to write this post, thanking everyone who helped me to spread the word, and helped made this day the incredible trip that it was.

Here’s a screenshot I’m particularly fond of:

Humor bestseller list

'That Bear Ate My Pants!' at No.1 in humour!

I took dozens of them! But this one, showing me at the top of the ‘humor’ category in Amazon.com – the world’s biggest bookshop – just blew my mind.

So, without further ado, here is the Roll of Honour:

Twitter Followers:

A MASSIVE THANK-YOU to everyone who mentioned, re-tweeted and followed me over the two days. Messages were flying back and forth, so it didn’t occur to me ‘till after it was all over to do a search for ‘That Bear Ate My Pants’ – and there were hundreds of Tweets in that list, all from people who don’t even know me on Twitter!

So here is my list of Top Tweeters, by no means an exclusive list – just a few good souls who seemed to be working hard on my behalf  :0)

@JoeVampireBlog (Steven Luna)

@fuentes_kate1 (Kate Fuentes)

@KatherynLane (Katheryn Lane)

@mad_gods (Athanasios)

@vickiejohnstone (Vickie Johnstone)

@emeraldkell (Allison Bruning)

@stantondaniel (Daniel Stanton)

@DavidAntrobus (David Antrobus)

@jacquehopkins (Jacqueline R Walton)

@unknown_templar (John Paul Davis)

@GerberMgerber (M.H. Gerber)

@FreeBookSy

@KristineCayne (Kristine Cayne)

@rennabruce (Renna Bruce)

@judith_price (Judith Price)

@christinenolfi (Christine Nolfi)

@roberto_baggins (Rob Powell)

@DavinaPearson (Davina Pearson) – Nomad!

@sandranorval (Sandra Noval)

@Flickimp (Imran Siddiq) – Nomad!

Please share the love by following these awesome people!

I’d like to say a specific thank-you to ‘Joo’, a reviewer and active member of the UK Kindle Forums, for being a one-woman promo army!

http://www.kuforum.co.uk/kindleusersforum/

 

Facebook Groups:

(that didn’t kick up too much of a fuss when I posted my link on their Wall! – please note, if doing this yourself – I checked all their guidelines and/or websites first, where I could find ‘em)

http://www.facebook.com/iauthor?sk=wall

http://www.facebook.com/pages/UK-Kindle-Book-Lovers/175617412524192

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Top-Travel-Tips/188870634488744

http://www.facebook.com/readingkindle

http://www.facebook.com/pages/IndieKindle/106911752752245

http://www.facebook.com/weloveebooks

http://www.facebook.com/eReader1

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Kindle-Finds/217115528350246

http://www.facebook.com/freeebookdeal?sk=wall

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Authors-on-the-Cheap/202517513144047

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Kindle-Author/168316526565998

http://www.facebook.com/earthsbooknook

http://www.facebook.com/allthingskindle

http://www.facebook.com/IndieBookLounge

http://www.facebook.com/kindle

http://www.facebook.com/TheKindleObsessed

 

And finally, the Big Guns:

(When these people say they’ll tell everyone – they really tell EVERYONE!)

Melissa Foster of the World Literary Cafe

Steve WindTalker of Kindle Nation Daily

Anthony Wessel of Digital Book Today

Phil Torcivia of the Kindle Daily Deal

Elizabeth Trudgeon Brown of the Frugal E-Reader

Ricci of FreeBookSy

Holly Bourque of Bargain eBook Hunter

Jack and Shaina of IndieBooksList

Sharon Rosen of Pixel Of Ink

Greg of Ereader News Today

And the team at Kindle On The Cheap

If you’re about to do a free day and you need the world to know – THIS is who you’re gonna call!

Thanks for reading folks. I know this isn’t my usual style of blog post – no swearing for starters, AND no pictures of me naked – sorry ‘bout that. Business shall resume as normal from next week  :0)

I love you all!

Tony

The Dangers of Daytime TV

This is the tragedy of being a writer.

I’m sitting here in my lounge, waiting for my good friend Peter Allison to appear on Channel Ten’s ‘The Circle’. Yes, I’m name dropping here! So sue me. Peter is the best-selling author of three books, including ‘Don’t Look Behind You’ and his brand new book set in South America called  ‘How To Walk A Puma’.

Peter Allison

Peter Allison

I’ve been on TV now and then, for a variety of reasons which I won’t go into here (because who cares, right?!). One thing I know is that whenever you’re waiting for your ‘bit’ to come up – it takes forever. It’s ALWAYS the very last part of the last section, one advert break past the point where you were sure there couldn’t be any more advert breaks. The show is long enough that even your most stalwart mates, who’ve been sitting on your sofa with a bribe of beer, will start to make excuses to leave. It begins with a sigh, followed by “Oh, I just realised I’ve gotta make a phone call…” and ends with them distracting your attention by setting fire to your rug and then diving out the window while you throw yourself bodily onto the flames.

Me on Doctor Who

Yes, that's me about to be electrocuted by a Darlek on Doctor Who

Although to the casual outsider it may look like I lead the life of a loafer (I haven’t had a ‘proper’ job since December 2009!) – it’s not true. Honest! I tend to be quite busy  and I frequently work up to 18 hours a day between writing my new book and promoting my first one.

So I had no idea daytime TV was laced with so many infomercials!

Now, I am a very suggestible person.

It’s funny, because only last night I was writing a chapter in my new book about it; how I can’t help doing whatever people tell me, up to and including licking a prickly cactus. Anyone who knows me knows I can’t be allowed to watch infomercials on my own. At least, not if there’s an active phone line in the house.

So… I’ve bought two packets of Bug Mesh and a Miracle Wonder Bra.

I only narrowly avoided buying a triple-box of ‘EKO Crystals for only $78.75’ because I was busting for a shit. Seriously, if that advert hadn’t happened to coincide with my morning bowel movement my credit card would have taken another pounding.

How I will live with my body’s rampant acidity levels in the absence of these miraculous crystals I don’t know. But I’m pretty sure Roo will be happier, knowing that I spent that time on the toilet.

I also got to sit through a delightful segment on shoes, promoted by a woman in a blouse so hideous even my Mum wouldn’t wear it. Well okay, my Mum probably would wear it. With her nylon trousers and crocs.

My mum

Mum's fashion sense is legendary

This woman was the in-house fashion expert for the show, and was on there showing a selection of shoes which the presenters hated. “But I own these shoes,” she protested, when told they looked like a Grandma would wear them.

Hardly surprising – the woman reminded me of one of my old high-school teachers. I think I would have come across better as a fashion expert in my stained board shorts.

Anyway, Peter’s slot, when it arrived, was delicious – and short. About half the length of time devoted to the shortest infomercial (about a miracle fat-busting powder that I’ll almost never use). The presenters themselves seemed horrified, and asked Peter if he’d come back to carry on their discussion when they had more time! Like, say, at the start of the show, before whatever viewers it attracts have already given up their will to live for the day.

Just goes to show that, write a great book – which Peter has – and people still don’t give a shit. Show up in person and fascinate them, and they’ll finally give you the time of day, become interested, read your book and love it – but until then? I can almost see the show’s guest booker in conversation with the producer.

Booker: “So, we’ve got Peter Allison, this best-selling author type guy…”

Producer: “Really? *Yawns* Okay, stick him in somewhere.”

Booker: “But not before the bras?”

Producer: “Hell no! He’s just an author. You know, books n’ shit.”

Booker: “So after the acne powder?”

Producer: “Acne powder eh? Interesting..! Double its slot. And yeah, stick whatshisname on after that. Oh, but put an ad break I first. Let’s try and make some cash for a change…”

Sucks to be an author. It’s not a bad way to make a living (if you are making a living doing it!). But where’s the respect, eh? Where’s the love? Peter’s new book took him two years to write. I’ve read it and I love it. But those 15 minutes of fame… well, if it is 15 minutes – are pretty fickle.

Yet another reason why authors need a tough skin!

And that’s reason enough for me to need that Acne cream.

(Look, it was THREE tubes for the price of ONE, okay?)

Query Letter Advice (or, How I Done Mine)

DISCLAIMER: This is NOT a writing blog. If you’re looking for real, quality advice on perfecting your query letter, go here, or for great advice on e-publishing your work, go here. In fact my writing is so bad that I have to publish it myself! :0)  (Little dig at my Indie Writers friends there!)

So because Covering Letters (the ones you send out to agents with your precious manuscript) are so important, I thought I’d share my advice on the topic – for what it’s worth…

Scribbled NoteFirst up, here’s my example. I sent out a boat load of submissions to literary agents and publishers throughout the UK. None of them gave a shit, of course. That is, until I came up with this version of my covering letter. I only sent out five of them, and had three requests for a full manuscript and two personal rejections. I came within a gnat’s bollock of getting an agent that time – only to find out that I was unpublishable because I wasn’t famous. Bugger. As a result I published the book myself and am now practically famous – but that’s a whole different story. (And at least part of it is a lie.)

20th February 2010

Dear Lucy,

I am writing to you because you represented HOW LOW CAN YOU GO by TOM CHESSHYRE, and I feel that my book fits into a similar genre.

I nearly died in Ecuador. Pretty much on a daily basis. The trouble with being a volunteer at an exotic animal refuge is that everything wanted a piece of me; and the trouble with being me is that I wasn’t particularly good at it. So most of them got one. “THAT BEAR ATE MY PANTS!” is the tale of how a desperate bid to escape conventional life took me to the other side of the world, introduced me to pain, love and the insides of a cow, and brought me back with a strength and self-confidence I hardly dared dream of. And a bit of mucus in my hair.

Right now, climate change and the economic downturn means millions of people are looking for environmentally friendly, low-cost holidays. All of them need a socially responsible guide book.

This is NOT that book.

But those people also need a damn good laugh! So for everyone who wants to know what it’s like to be bitten by a crocodile, mauled by big cats, blinded, shot at and head-butted in the balls by a wild pig – all in the same few weeks – “THAT BEAR ATE MY PANTS!” is just the job. A sequel, based in Thailand, is already underway.

My stories have appeared in Take a Break magazine, That’s Life magazine (in Australia) and I recently contributed to the anthology THE VOLUNTARY TRAVELER, published by Dog’s Eye View Media. I also have a background (and a BA degree) in Acting, so I have plenty of experience both on stage and in front of a camera.

Please find enclosed the first 30 pages and a Synopsis, as per the guidelines on your website. I’d be very grateful if you would consider representing me! Thank-you so much for your time. I’ll look forward to hearing from you.

Kind regards,

Tony James Slater

Okay – it’s not a masterpiece. I’m self-critical enough for three people, but I thought I’d use it to illustrate a couple of points I think (and it’s only my opinion) are key.

The first is, know thy enemy! You hate receiving form letters from agents, right? So it makes sense, as a form of revenge, to send them one! HA! Take that… oh, hang on – what I meant is, please will you devote your life to helping me become successful?

Don’t send them form letters. They can do that to you, because you are scum and they quite rightfully despise you.

So, research them. Specifically, find out who or what they have represented that is close to your work. I make this comparison right at the beginning, to:

a) put them in mind of a book they loved, and repp’ed, and sold – POSITIVE association, and;

b) give them a quick ball-park idea of the genre and/or style of the book.

But DON’T make it sound like you think your book is better – even if you do! Most of the books I was comparing mine to are complete crap, but their agent wouldn’t have taken them on if s/he didn’t think they were awesome. So none of this ‘It’s like Stephen King, only scarier,’ malarkey.

Next up, the length – short as poss – and the book description, also short. Three paragraphs, I’ve heard, is ideal. I also like to show a bit of my writing style in the letter, which is why there’s a bit of strong-ish language and an attempt at a joke – normally this is a big no-no, but any agent who baulks at the word ‘balls’ is going to hate my book anyway. Why go to the bother of posting them a copy?

Pile of lettersI spent a few sentences trying to give them a feel for the book, but as mine is anecdotal there isn’t much in the way of plot twists – instead I blew this extra space on trying to convince them the book as funny. Mistake? Almost certainly. But then, so are most of the things I do. It’s why I still have something to write about after all this time!

Seriously though, this section is a play on a very smart ploy – enumerating your potential audience. Remind the agent that there are eighteen point five million lactating octogenarians out there who feel your pain and would love to read your memoir. Tell them that crotch-eating bacteria is hot news and affects one in six males between the ages of eighteen and twenty four who holiday in Thailand – use numbers to suggest the size of your market. If you write sci-fi… well, let’s face it, you’re already screwed.

I repeated my title twice in the letter to help it stick in their mind and used the magic phrase ‘a sequel is already underway’. At the time it was a lie. Hell, it’s still a lie! Depending on how flexible your concept of ‘underway’ is. But the agent will be very interested to know I’m not a one shot deal – and that I’m aware of how important this is.

Finally, I gave them a bit of info about my previous publishing credits. This section is small, as I don’t have much, and it’s generally best not to try to pad out you resumé. Any waffle here, listing all sorts of minor accolades, will make you appear less professional rather than more.

I also showed again that I had read their submission guidelines and was sending exactly what they asked for – and then I thanked them. If there’s ever a time to remember your manners, this is it.

I could have included a word count, or stated that the book was finished, but the word count is on the title page anyway and the fact that I’m writing the sequel suggests this book is done – common wisdom, however, suggests you do both of these things. I am quite clearly not a wise man.

One other way I’ve seen people write queries is to start right out of the gate with the drama –

Dear Agent X,

Jeremy was already dead. He just didn’t know it yet… etc.

I think this is quite popular in the states and might work here – who knows? Anyone tried it? Personally I think it’s too ‘in your face’ for our more traditional English agenty types, and I would save this kind of opening for the manuscript itself. Don’t want your query opening to be more exciting than your book, eh!

Well, that’s it for now – this is already too long I know, particularly for someone like me with no authority to back my opinions up. Please – don’t go away and write a query letter just like mine – I don’t want to be responsible for derailing any more careers, I can’t take the guilt! Just keep in mind,

  • Brevity
  • Proving that you know the agent and/or her previous clients (and chose to submit to her for that reason)
  • Two or three paragraphs giving succinct plot synopsis
  • Demonstrate your writing style – but not too dramatically!
  • Mention sequel (even if you don’t have one)
  • Mention publishing history (only if you do have one)
  • Mention platform (again, if you have one. I don’t. Well, unless you count  :0)
  • Keep it to one page at all costs!

What do you think? Thoughts/comments/plasticine fish?

Throw ‘em all this way!

And to all my regular readers – those who’ve made it this far – Don’t worry! Next time I’ll be blogging about crazy shit, as usual. I promise.

Love

Tony