PSEUDONYMS – Every Writer and Blogger Should Use Them

Just a quick bit of banter about surnames (and pseudonyms) while I’m having a milky coffee and taking a mid-morning break.

First up let’s look at surnames….how do you feel about yours? Like it? Love it? Loathe it? Don’t give a jot either way?

Personally, I don’t much care for mine. Sorry and all that, but it’s not really my cup of tea (or milky coffee). People get it wrong all the time. On the phone is a nightmare. “Name please?” “Truelove” “Thankyou Mr True.” “No, it’s True Love” “That’s what I’ve just written down, Mr True.” “Look love, it’s Truelove love, not True, love.”

Envelopes are interesting too. I once received a letter addressed to Mr Treeloaf.  Now that I like. It has a certain something to it that’s right up my street….it’s bizarrely surreal yet somehow appealing.

However, let’s segue unconvincingly to Pseudonyms for writers. I love ’em. I think every writer or blogger should have at least a dozen pseudonyms at their disposal. Mix and match for the kind of thing they’re writing at the moment. Lovely jubbly. They would certainly work for me.

Some days I feel like Brett Stormhouse (definitely fiction….war stories….terrorist stuff….international spies). Usually Mondays.

Tuesdays I’m slightly mellower and often come over all Sheridan Knottingley. (I like to try my hand at historical novels/heaving bosoms/lace up corsets, that kind of thing)

By Wednesday I’m grittier, more kitchen sink, Ted Cupboard. (I tend to call a spade a right bloody shovel)

Thursday I prefer to be a little more off the wall, River Trent (that’s when I write my best poetry)….

Friday is usually a toss up between Rock Candy or Fluff Arizona (and I have the outfits and outrageous chick lit  sales to prove it)….

Saturday, I often take a punt at writing silly fiction for our younger readers. Basil Baggytrousers. A little over the top I know, but the kids seem to like it.

Sunday I’m back to something more down to earth, Dick Soil (that’s my psychological thriller with an unfathomable twist at the end of the story pseudonym. You’ll find me all over Amazon).

Right, enough of this tosh…..back to work…..well, I say work, I’m currently having a day off, pleasing myself, and chipping away at some of my recent outdoor stone ‘sculptures’ (I use the term loosely)…. and I’m definitely not in Truelove mode….more Eddie Limestone…..or Mike Marble.


You’ve Written Your Fabulous Book For Children – But Where On Earth Do You Find Someone To Illustrate It That Won’t Cost You An Arm And A Leg?

Wow…sorry about the long-winded title of this piece….I’ll try and make up for it by keeping the post quite short.

The question is a tricky one for new writers trying to break into the children’s book market.

In the last 20 years or so I’ve met hundreds of wannabe authors who can’t wait to show me their fabulously written books for children….let’s use ‘Henry and the Magic Chicken‘ as an example (I’ve just made that up, obviously…but apologies to anyone currently working on their very own Henry/Magic Chicken book…there’s bound to be someone somewhere. Please feel free to get in touch).

In general, most of these authors are trying to save money, so what do they do? They illustrate the book themselves. Or their nephew/niece has a pop at it. Now I don’t want to be a party pooper but again, in general, the illustrations spoil the book. Not always the case, I admit, but as I say ‘in general’ it’s not a wise thing to do.

So, what should they do? Pay a professional illustrator to do it for them? Lay out an arm and a leg? Give away a percentage of their book’s profits? It rarely happens.

For those authors who can’t do their own illustrations the conversation tends to run like this….. “Steve, do you know any young, up and coming, wannabe illustrators who would love a chance to get into the profession? Would they like to work on my Chicken book for a small fee? If the book makes any money I’ll certainly see them right.”

Now, you may think my answer would be “Sure. No problem. I have a little black book with the names and contact details of hundreds of suitable young talented illustrators who’d jump at the chance to take a crack at your book. Now, let me see, who do I know who can draw great chickens?” Nope.

I can honestly say I know no one. Trust me, I’ve looked. No one. You might think every young, aspiring illustrator/artist would be interested, and would be up to the task, but I’ve not found them. Maybe they exist, but not on my radar. Oh sure, there are lots of young people who want to be illustrators but to be perfectly frank I’ve found very few who can actually draw. It pains me to say that, honestly. They tend to work on Photoshop, which is a fabulous tool (I use it almost every day), and there are some terrific images produced that way, but if you ask “Can you draw me a crazy chicken running down the street with its tail feathers on fire?” I suspect most would struggle.

So, what’s the answer? What am I getting at? Well, I have to hold my hand up here and say that I’m currently one of those ‘wannabe authors’ with a book without illustrations.

Actually, I now have three books I need illustrating, but they are all very much ‘spec’ books…..not ones I want to spend much money on….they are what they are, ‘written on spec’. They might come off, they might not. One might make up into an animation short…who knows….and it’s precisely at moments like this that you tend to think “I can’t afford to pay my usual illustrator his fee for just a ‘spec’ idea. If only I knew a young aspiring artist who might be good enough to do it for me!”

So what I’m suggesting is simple…if anyone reading this knows of any young (old, whatever the age, I care not) wannabe illustrators who would like to be considered for these kind of jobs please tell them to get in touch with yours truly and I will add them to my Little Black Book of Fabulous (and Inexpensive) Illustrators which is currently blank.

OMG. Six hundred and forty five words. I blethered on again. Sorry about that.


Un-Enrolling Your eBook From Kindle KDP Select – Keep An Eye On The Date

Just a quickie as I’m sure you’re all busy.

A pal of mine whose book I converted for Kindle and uploaded and enrolled in KDP Select got in touch the other day. The conversation went something along these lines… “Steve, I have a chum who wants to promote and sell my eBook as a digital download on their own website but I can’t do that if the book is ‘enrolled’ in KDP Select. Can we get out of KDP Select? Un-enroll?”

Okay, for those of you who are not sure about what KDP Select is and the reason it exists, here’s a brief explanation. Very brief.

Once you upload your eBook to Kindle you have a choice to make. Enroll in KDP Select or not. Enrolling your book in KDP Select gives Amazon (Kindle) the exclusive right to sell your digital book on the internet. The word you need to watch out for is ‘EXCLUSIVE’.

If your book is being offered anywhere else on the internet in digital form then KDP Select will not allow you to sign up with them.

There are all kinds of benefits to enrolling, you get higher royalty rates, free days to promote your book, and a share of KOLL the Kindle Owners Lending Library royalties….and more.

The fixed term for KDP Select is 90 days. Ninety. To save everyone messing about the 90 day period is automatically extended for another fixed 90 days…in other words it rolls over without you having to take any action.

Now, what about if you want to un-enroll from KDP Select BEFORE the 90 day period ends? Yep, that’s fine. BUT….you need to give Amazon 5 days notice. So watch out for that…..

But, you are also allowed to cancel KDP Select enrollment in the first  THREE DAYS of your next 90 day period. So that’s worth checking too. Otherwise your book is signed up to be enrolled for the full 90 day exclusive period and you are locked in.

Obviously, some of you may be wanting to know why you should enroll your book is KDP Select anyway? That’s another story I’m afraid, and a VERY long blog post, so best to go onto Amazon and check out the KDP Select Terms and Conditions and their very useful Frequently Asked Questions.

To sum up….my advice is to write down the START DATE of your KDP Select agreement for each of your books you have available for Kindle….that way you can see when your book is about to expire…..but don’t forget it’s 90 days (not three months).

Hope some of that made sense and was of some use……..have a good day.

If you want to know how to un-enroll from the automatic 90 day enrollment, let me know, and I’ll post something for you.

SELF PUBLISHING ON KINDLE – Have Any Books On Kindle Ever Sold No Copies?

I wasn’t planning on writing a post on the blog today but my attention was caught by one of the Google Search terms that helped someone find my blog…..the phrase being “Have Any Books On Kindle Ever Sold No Copies?

Answer. Plenty. How come?

‘Lack of any form of proper promotion’ would be my first answer I suppose. If no one knows about your book no one will buy it. It makes sense.

The second answer would be ‘If the subject of the book is so obscure and seemingly irrelevant to 99.9999% of potential readers then that might be a problem’. I can’t think of a good example to quote off the top of my head but how about “Yemeni Basket Weaving for the Lost and Bewildered”? (Apologies to all those Yemeni basket weavers reading this post…I’m sure Yemeni baskets are fantastic…come to think of it I might be interested in that book myself. I fit all the criteria).

Third I guess is if the book is totally hopeless….badly written, full of mistakes, ridlled wiht typo’s, and unedited. Believe me, if you upload a book like that to Kindle you will soon get found out, so to speak.

Will that do for starters? I’m sure there are a hundred and one (at least) other reasons why a book might not sell any copies but if your book hits the mark on my first three suggestions then there’s no point going any further.

But seriously, if I may, even good books, well written and promoted, can sit there on Kindle and earn nothing. Nada. It happens all the time, But that’s the nature of the beast. There is so much competition out there these days it’s not easy.

You just have to be honest with yourself and try and be objective about your book….and don’t expect miracles. So, upload your book, take a punt, promote it, and see what happens.  You have nothing to lose. You never know there might be zillions of potential basket weavers out there.

Never Underestimate The Power Of Your Blog Posts – They Are All Over GOOGLE

Just a quickie. Nothing too life changing, but interesting all the same. Well, I thought so.

Yesterday I was browsing through my Stats (as one does) and my eye drifted across to the ‘Search Terms’ section.

Now for those of you who have never really thought about this, those terms are the exact Search Words or Phrases that someone has typed into Google (or other search engines too) and then found your blog post and had a look at it.

Okay, this is not new, you probably already knew this, and you’re thinking “So what?” Well, I have to say “Big Deal actually”……why?

Think about this…..someone is searching for something very specific and they found your post. Just one example from yesterday’s Search Terms on my post was ‘How Many Kindle eBooks Can I Expect To Sell?’ A bit of a daft question really, but it does serve as an example.

Think of all the articles, websites, blogs, you name it on Google…yet that search term resulted in them clicking on one of my blog posts about just that very subject.

Just to check I went immediately onto Google and entered the very same Search Term and Bingola! Guess What? My insignificant, little blog post on the subject came top of the Google Search. Top. I looked at the thousands of other search suggestions, many of which were incredibly good and detailed, yet my whimsical blog post came top. Number One, and the searcher actually took a look at my post.

You may still be thinking ‘So What? What’s the Big Deal then?’

Well, do you know how many web developers/promoters/search engine optimisation agencies shed blood and tears to get their client’s websites to number one on Google on anything?

So to briefly sum up…..always bear in mind that your blog post, the very one you may be uploading right now, has the potential to reach a heck of a lot of ‘Google searchers’……and as soon as you upload a post it ‘floats’ around in the Googlesphere (I wonder if I could copyright that term? That would be worth a few dollars, surely? Somebody must have done that?)….and has the potential to be found by zillions. Consider that for a moment. Think of how you might use it for one of your books/projects…..

I’ll leave the thought with you. Have a good day.

Typos, Spellcheckers and Proofreaders – Don’t Get Me Started!

I’ve just produced a book for a first time writer that has broken all records….well, at least the records I keep. I will share them with you if that’s okay?

The writer is a smashing chap. It’s his first book, and I suspect his only one, but it’s good fun and I know he will sell a stack of copies to his friends, relations, work colleagues and fellow ‘hobbyists’.

I am not going to name him, obviously, and there is no way he will ever read this…..but let’s just say his manuscript came to me a couple of weeks ago to be turned into a book and published by my imprint Write Good Books. Fair enough.

The 120,000 word manuscript contained rather a lot of typos, spelling errors, grammar quirks, misplaced commas, a vague number of full stops and a weird and wonderful use Or Misuse of Caps and incorrect spellings of place names…..san Francissco mite Give, you some idae of The problem  !!.

So what could I do? Send the manuscript back and tell him to check it all again? Well, I suppose I could have…..but, no I didn’t. This man is of a certain age and I had an inkling he had simply had enough of his manuscript and just wanted to get it into print….a lifelong wish to ‘get it all into a book while I still remember it’ kind of scenario.

So, I pointed out that the script contained a ‘rather a lot of typos’ and did he want me to go through the book and correct them as best I could? “No”, was the answer, quickly followed by ‘”I’ve already spell-checked it and it was fine”.

But I couldn’t just let it go at that…..I couldn’t possibly live with publishing a book with so many errors……so I began the long process of correcting the manuscript as best I could in any free time I had available… was a long haul. I’m not looking for sympathy here, just stating the facts, ma’am.

So what’s the point of this post? Well, simply that if you write something, anything, you really DO owe it to your readers to get it right. Spellcheckers only work up to a point. They are not the Holy Grail. Human’s are better, but still capable of missing tons of spelling mistakes, so in the end it’s down to the writer (YOU) to check, and recheck and check again.

Proofreaders? Are they the way to go? Spend money? In my whole publishing/self publishing ‘career’ I’ve yet to meet one writer who has employed one. Not one. It’s a money thing.

So what to do? Well, I know a lot of you employ the tactic of picking maybe five people you trust to read your manuscript looking for inaccuracies of any kind and then getting them to report back…..and it works. I know. I’ve been there and done that. So perhaps that’s your back up….but as I say, first and foremost it’s your responsibility. As writers we all owe it to our readers to GET IT WRITE. Sorry….GET IT RIGHT.

Finally, apologies for the long-winded rant of a post…….but here to prove to you that spell-checkers really don’t work is a poem I found all over the web….it’s worth a look…..

Eye have a spelling chequer,
It came with my Pea Sea.
It plane lee marks four my revue
Miss Steaks I can knot sea.

Eye strike the quays and type a whirred
And weight four it two say
Weather eye am write oar wrong
It tells me straight a weigh.

Eye ran this poem threw it,
Your shore real glad two no.
Its vary polished in its weigh.
My chequer tolled me sew.

A chequer is a bless thing,
It freeze yew lodes of thyme.
It helps me right all stiles of righting,
And aides me when eye rime.

Each frays come posed up on my screen
Eye trussed too bee a joule.
The chequer pours o’er every word
Two cheque sum spelling rule.

Blogging or Not Blogging – What happens when you don’t blog for a month or so?

Greetings. I’m blogging again, sort of. It’s been a while. Life got in the way I’m afraid. Enough said. I’ll not bore you with details.

So, what’s new? Well, the break from being a blogperson has produced ‘interesting’ results statswise for yours truly.

So first of all here’s a question…..What do you think would happen if you did a regular daily blog for let’s say three months, built up a reasonable following, and then completely stopped for a month? Any ideas? Maybe you’ve already done that and know the answer. I had no idea. But now I know.

The first thing that happens is nothing much. Visitors still keep coming to your blog and taking a look even though you are posting nothing new. Comments still appear from time to time, mostly on posts you wrote weeks ago and you’d forgotten about. In other words, life goes on.

You may be missed by a handful of your blog followers but it’s unlikely any of them will ask where you are or why you have suddenly stopped. Why should they?  They have plenty of other bloggers to follow. It’s not personal. At least I don’t think it is.

Amazingly, the stats do not dry up….visitors arrive, take a look at what they fancy and rattle up a fair amount of ‘views’. It’s all rather strange, yet not strange at all. Which, I suppose, is as it should be really. I don’t know what I was expecting really.

Oh yes, there is one thing that you’ll miss…all the emails telling you someone ‘likes’ your latest post or whatever. Yes, there is that. But that’s about it really.

So, today is the first day I’ve checked my blog stats for some time and incredibly there has been quite a good deal of traffic through the posts today…..why is that I wonder? I have absolutely no idea.

So, if you ever feel like taking a break from blogging but worry it will all come to a sad end, then fear not. Life, and WordPress continues with or without you. And I suppose that’s a good thing. Yes, I’m sure it is.

So will I keep blogging? Yep. Sure. Why not? But not daily. And only if and when I have something I think is worth saying…and something you might like to read about.

Onwards and upwards as they say……


WRITING, TALKING, PERFORMING – But Not Necessarily In That Order

I’m always interested in a challenge. It’s just the way I am. And if that involves writing I’m definitely up for it. Bring it on, as they say.

The flipside of that approach to life, you could call it the downside, is that I tend to flip flop between projects, doing them full on for a few weeks then hippity hopping to another project to get that moving. I’ve mentioned this ‘butterfly’ obsession of mine before so I will go no further down this path.

However, I may just be about to set another challenge for myself….but this one may, from the outset, be a step too far. We’ll see.

Over the past five or six years or so I’ve done several talks/presentations you could call them, about a rather well known entertainer and his wife. They were both famous, and infamous, from the 1930s into the 1960s. I’ll not go into details. Their relationship was stormy, yet mostly kept from the general public, the wife being the dominant partner….and it’s this ‘strong willed woman’ aspect that always goes down well with audiences.

The talk is very popular and once given I’m always asked back, and to be honest it’s something I’m able to do, and enjoy doing.

However, in the last year or so I’ve become interested in two other female personalities, both again strong individuals whose lives would make for very interesting and entertaining presentations. I’ve researched both women’s lives but have not as yet turned them into talks/presentations…..

Now, here we get to the point….the more I think about these last two characters the more I think they would make terrific stage short plays. A two hander I think….the main female character and a man to play the other parts…..something minimalistic, stylised….I know it would work.

I’ve seen a couple of one man plays recently, touring productions, having similar formats to the kind of thing I have in mind. Two acts of approximately 45 minutes per act separated by an interval. I can already visualise how both of these plays might look….and it’s this visualisation that is urging me to begin writing.

As I said earlier, I have enough on my plate at the moment, and I know taking on a writing project like this would involve a lot of work and sleepless nights, but it’s this kind of challenge that I think most writers would welcome. But whether to pursue it or not?

It’s a tricky one. Maybe I’ll sleep on it. Or maybe I’ll not tell anyone I’m doing it and just get on with it, then if it doesn’t work out no one will be the wiser…..well, you will know, but hey ho.

Does anyone else suffer this kind of dilemma?  Do you ever ask yourself……“I’m already writing something rather important – why should I begin writing something else at the same time?”

So, do you leave the new idea alone until you’ve completed the first project? Or does the enthusiasm for the new project insist that you make a start on the new one?

‘To write or not to write….that is the question…?”

I’m Not Going To Write Today – But I’m Going To Do A Lot Of Thinking – And Wire Twisting.

‘Where do ideas come from?’ I wish I had a pound (dollar, euro) for every time I’ve read or heard that question. Where would I be now?

Well, not here, obviously. I would be sipping something cool and refreshing under a palm tree on a desert island of my own surrounded by sun-kissed dusky maidens…, we’ll not go there for now, there may be children present.

However, as it’s Monday morning I thought I would re-visit the question, briefly.

I had a sort of ‘day off’ yesterday. Only two phonecalls and no one knocking on the door. Great. A day to do some serious writing. But to be honest I just fancied ‘messing about’.

I rather like messing about. It’s what I do extraordinarily well. People who know me comment on the fact that if medals were handed out for extreme feats of messing about I would have a string of gold ones hanging around my neck. Medals, that is.

So, yesterday was a messing about day. And what did I do instead of writing?

I messed about with some small sculptures….I use the term sculptures in its loosest sense…..they are nothing more than weirdly shaped bird forms. I make them in idle moments from wire, masking tape, papier mache and lots of PVA glue. It’s therapeutic. I wire up – I switch off.

Now before you switch me off, bear with me, there is a point to this…somewhere. Ah yes, here it is. As I was wire twisting and gluing….well, an absolute torrent of ideas flooded through my head. Ideas about writing.

New plotlines, solutions to dead ends in all my unfinished stories, ideas for short one act plays, presentations, interesting characters I should develop, the list could go on for another half dozen paragraphs but I’ll spare you. I realise Monday may be a busy day for you. Other fish to fry etcetera.

It was a waterfall of wonderful ideas. Niagara times a hundred. Amazing. Honestly, I couldn’t stop ‘thinking’…..that sounds extremely silly even as I type this, but it’s true.

So I kept on wire-fiddling and as my fingers twisted the wire this way and that into rather interesting shapes, so whatever electrical connections there are in my brain began to wire themselves together too. There must be some neuro-mumbo-jumbo term to describe it but it’s not in my dictionary.

It was an illuminating afternoon to say the least. You’ll be glad to hear I scribbled all the ideas down too, between breaks to allow the glue to dry….

So where do ideas come from? Wiring up. I may do it again today.

WORDPRESS BLOGGING CRISIS – That’s It, I’m Going On A Stats Diet…!

Right. Something has to change. I’ve had enough. It can’t go on any longer. Drastic action is called for. Right now. This minute. This instant.

I’m going on a Stats Diet.

From this moment on this blogger is going to be a Stats Free Zone.

Yep. I’m cutting down looking at the horrible little things.  That’s it. I’m definitely going to do it this time.  They’re taking over my life, and I don’t like it one bit.

I know I’ve said it before but this time there will be no turning back. No Stats Snacking. No Stats with my meals. Not even a Stats Substitute patch. Nothing. Nada. I’m going one hundred percent Stats Cold Turkey. Definitely.


Well, it’s getting ridiculous. The first thing I do in the morning is have a Stats check. And what’s the last thing I do at night? Yep. You guessed it – I check my Stats. I’ve even started checking my Stats in bed. No! Stats Checking in bed..! That’s definitely asking for trouble.

But can I really do it? Of course I can. Am I a man or a mouse? Don’t answer that. I already know what you’re thinking. You think I won’t be able to pull it off.

But to prove I’m a real man I’m going to do it just when the Stats have become important in my life. I’ve reached a time where a ‘significant number’ looms large….yes, you’ve guessed it – almost 200 followers. I think I’m about three short at the moment but I don’t want to look…..I daren’t…..I need to take control of my life again.

Or maybe one last look is okay? Just a peek? That would be all I would need to satisfy the craving. Just one little Stats check . Then I promise I won’t bother with them ever again.