ImmerseOrDie Might Be Too Mellow

One of the accusations levelled at ImmerseOrDie is that Jeff, Bryce, or I look for reasons to fail a book, that readers don’t judge books the way we do. I’ve never been inside Bryce’s head, but I feel a deep joy when a book makes it to the line; and we’re not alone in noticing issues.

<p style="text-align: justify;"Anne R Allen warns that minor errors at the start of the book could kill sales.

I’m a grammar freak, so a misplaced apostrophe or verb/object disagreement will stop me. I know not everybody is such a stickler. But I think all readers want to see that a book looks professional and polished. They don’t want to invest time in a book—even if it’s free—unless they feel they’re in competent hands.

While I agree that noticing these issues might seem to be limited to “grammar freaks”, IoD reports show issues that don’t cause us to put a book down still increase the chances that a subsequent issue will stand out enough to lose that sense of competence; so, for every reader whose attention catches on an issue, there are several who don’t stop at that point but are primed to judge later concerns harshly.

And for those who think the failures are still us being picky, remember that Allen (and people in her comment thread) believe that having a contents page that is boring – not ill-formatted, dysfunctional, or otherwise flawed, but just boring – damages sales.


Reviewing The 2017 NaNoWriMo Writing Tools Bundle

I’ve been sent a free copy of Kevin J Anderson’s 2017 NaNoWriMo Writing Tools Bundle with a request that I share my honest opinion of a few of the titles. Apart from the guide to Vellum (I already have a good eformating program and don’t have a Mac) they all seem worth a read. However, I don’t have time to read them all properly before the bundle expires, let alone review them. I’ve already got my eye on a couple, but I thought I’d ask you, my glorious followers, which of them you’d most like to read my thoughts on.

A Creative Perspective on EU Membership

With about a week to go until the UK Referendum on EU Membership there have been plenty of recent articles frothing and lashing about the hair colour or the shoe size of the other side. The opportunity to add the preceding chthonic image to the debate aside, these have struck me as irrelevant to my life. However, this article by Vincent Moss setting out potential impacts on authors (and other creative businesses) advances the debate.

I suspect everyone can guess which way I’m intending to vote, and I don’t have any new arguments to add, so I’ll let Moss speak for himself.

Politic Discourse

One of the most common pieces of advice given to people who both blog and have a professional online platform (authors, musicians, bespoke-weasel-waistcoat tailors, &c.) is to avoid discussing politics and religion; indeed it is such pervasive advice that some give it to anyone as the answer to any situation. However, as with many rules that can be expressed in a brief sentence, it is usually given without an important modifier: without reason.

Going into the Nitty Gritty

This Saturday, I will be co-hosting the first ever episode of the Nitty Gritty Writing podcast with Simon Cantan.

The show will be about writing and publishing from the perspective of people who aren’t big names in author-publishing. Over the weeks, we’ll be sharing our own journeys as authors, what we’re trying at the moment, and any tips we have for avoiding or overcoming the obstacles we’ve hit in the past.

Make sure to tune in from 19:30 GMT to find out more.

Immerse or Die Story Bundle 2015

As I’ve mentioned several times, Misha Burnett’s Catskinner’s Book is one of my favourite books. And several of the other’s in this collection are on my TBR list.

Note: While I run the short-story subdivision of the Gobi Author Torture Program, I don’t receive anything from this collection – apart from the validation of having books I like publicly displayed as of high quality.


I’ve mentioned Jefferson Smith’s Immerse Or Die Report before.

The concept is brutal in its simplicity.  Every morning he takes a self-published novel or story collection and gets on his treadmill for forty minutes. When he runs across something that breaks immersion–unclear syntax, wooden dialogue, boring exposition, pretty much anything that makes him look away from the page–the work gets one strike.  Three strikes, and it’s out.  The ones that make it past the forty minute mark without collecting three strikes are considered survivors.

It’s a tough standard–kind of a Gobi torture test for literature.

Of the two hundred and five novels that he put through the mill in 2015,he chose nine survivors to be included in the 2015 Immerse Or Die Story Bundle.

As it happens, Catskinner’s Book is one of the nine.

All Covers Large

Yeah, it’s there, second row, far left.  He didn’t like my original cover (in his review…

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The Cost of Doing Business

In many situations, we need to compare the cost effectiveness of actions. For me, it is spending the limited pot of money on various ways of making one of my books more attractive or more obvious to readers. And for some of these actions, they are all or nothing: the book only has one cover, so I either pay or don’t. But, some can be done over and over: I can advertise a book and then advertise again. Gut instinct suggests doing something repeatedly would be better than once. But is it true? And how might you measure the impact in advance?