Monday, 3 April 2017

Why do Press Reviewers seem to ignore Indie Writers?


The world of book publishing has been changing for some time. The recession saw the big name houses less willing to take a punt on new authors and instead choosing to stick mainly with established names or prostituting themselves with an onslaught of celebrity bios.

No wonder so many writers went down the indie route. With the advent of Amazon Kindle and 'Print on Demand' tools, they've been able to access a vast audience without having to relinquish a substantial slice of their income to either the publishers themselves or the increasingly irrelevant agents the industry still insists on using as go-betweens.

But the downside of DIY publishing is that the market has become flooded with mediocrity, making it more difficult for real talent to rise to the surface. Quality is being stifled by the sheer weight of titles a potential buyer has to trawl through, often leading to disappointment in the choices they make.


A case in point: British chicklit author Amanda Egan's books all carry 4.5 - 5*star ratings/reviews in Amazon's bookstore - and have often featured in Top 50 filters and even #1 in certain categories - but can sometimes also languish in mid-division amidst a tide of free or have-a-go wannabe titles. This is primarily due to Amazon's woefully inadequate classification system, where amateur erotica sits incongruously next to legitimate romance novels. Amazon don't even have anything as straightforward as a 'chicklit' category when writers upload their books - surely one of the biggest markets out there with heavily promoted women's writers like Jill Mansell, Marian Keyes and Sophie Kinsella.

So to some extent it's understandable that many romance/romcom indies slip under the radar of newspaper and magazine book reviewers - for a while eBooks appeared in their automatically generated Top 20 lists, but these were dropped when they became distorted by freebie downloads and other manipulated promotions.

But I can't help but sense a certain snobbery against writers who don't rise up through the conventional publishing channels - perhaps because only the author and the outlet benefit financially - and readers ares therefore having their choices largely dictated to by media reviewers who perhaps ignore or are not even aware of a wealth of indie talent out there.

Dare I speculate that they, or their employers, are in the publishers' pockets? - or that they perhaps find it easier just to read the books that land on their desks because the publishers have the distribution means and resources to get them there?

I hope that's not the case - and I concede that E L James may be a rare exception - but it's become my mission to raise the indie profile. It begins here.

[PLEASE FEEL FREE TO LEAVE YOUR COMMENTS]

Monday, 30 January 2017

Discuss, Debate - but Please don’t Hate


They say there is more that unites us than divides us.

Let’s start with the fact that we’re all human.  That alone should be enough of a leveller.  We start life with no pre-conceptions of others, and are shaped by our environment, influences and experiences.  All of us are flawed in some way or another and we should therefore be more tolerant of anyone else’s personal shortcomings.

But when it comes to opinions it’s evident we’re becoming increasingly marginalised.

What’s wrong with someone having a different point of view?  It allows us to consider both sides of an argument in our quest to reach a balanced understanding of important issues.  But many of us are too quick to accept anything presented as fact without verifying its validity through reliable and unbiased sources - making us vulnerable to fake news sites or groups with a narrow, militant agenda.

About the only thing that prevented the recent Women’s March descending into total farce - because the individual agendas were so jumbled there were actually areas of moral contradiction - was that they were united by a common cause, albeit that the banner of oppression they were rallying under was incongruous with the freedom of speech and right to demonstrate they were clearly being allowed to exercise.

Debate is healthy but it’s getting personal now and we need to be hyper careful when we find ourselves disagreeing with family, friends or anyone else whose views we usually value on other matters.  We should listen with open minds and in a spirit of love and respect or we’ll be playing into the hands of those who are out to divide, corrupt or even destroy us at the core level of human relationship.  No cause is worth alienating those with whom we share blood or a mutual bond.  By all means try to bring them around to understanding your point of view, but don’t reject them for not adopting it.  We will never agree with anyone about everything, so accept that they are as entitled to their opinion on some matters as you are yours.

We often discover that some of the convictions we held in our youth weren’t fully formed and we’ve gone on to take a completely different stance on issues we used to be ignorant or blinkered about.  So recognise our own susceptibility to misguidance before allowing ourselves to become consumed by the arrogance of certainty that everyone should think as we do at any time - time can make a fool of you.   Instead, turn that negativity around and enjoy the warm fuzzies that come with tolerance, compassion and understanding.

None of us know it all.  We need each other because we all have different knowledge, skills and strengths.  We can create a better society by drawing on diversity to find some middle ground in the interests of serving the greater good.  Our leaders should be guardians and effective administrators, working together, not career politicians.  Giving way a little, whether at a government or personal level, needn’t be seen as compromise because everyone pays the same price to move forward instead of fracturing into ever more specific belief systems.  It doesn’t need to get political.  We are stronger united than divided.

Accept it.

Embrace it.

Be it.

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Fake News - "Gimme Some Truth"

Recently I've become increasingly concerned that so many of my normally rational and intelligent social media contacts can be sucked in by websites and Facebook pages that post pictures or videos taken out of context to serve some other dodgy agenda.  I encourage them to always check the facts with credible news sources before promulgating false information - but what happens when even those agencies succumb to corruption?

Just "Gimme Some Truth", as Lennon (not to be confused with the Russian Communist leader with a similar sounding name) sang:

VIDEO:

Saturday, 28 May 2016

What have I just seen / heard? - Holly Herndon

Image from artist's Facebook page
60 year old bloke (me) and my 20 y.o. son at the Roundhouse, awaiting Radiohead ... a shared passion.

Will there be a support?  Who cares?  Just killing time before the Masters come on.

Enter Holly Herndon.

The crowd stands perplexed as not much happens for some time except for a cacophony of set-up noises.  And then all audial hell breaks loose.  Chest-thumping beats and sound production second to none ... but what was the sound?

A tsunami of electronica and loops, that's for sure, interspersed with squeals akin to a crow/kookaburra hybrid.  And a relentless base rhythm that disappointingly works itself pretty much through the entire set.

Can you dance to it?  Perhaps in an altered state - and my own expertise in this area is an uncoordinated and embarrassing flailing of limbs - but I'm not convinced the Kung-Fu, head-banging antics of the androgynous Colin ("Gender is Over") Self match this musical outfit's aspirations toward the avant-garde.  You're gonna need more than a mouth-held pulsing LED light to cut it.  And Mat Dryhurst?  He has an endearing smile and a talent for moving a cursor around a digital landscape.

From the first minute, my son and I continued to exchange bemused looks to see if either of us were getting it.  Me, wondering if he related to my suggestions of influences from the ethereal (Enya) to the experimental (Laurie Anderson), and him ... well, in truth, begging me to bludgeon his face in so he didn't have to listen to any more.  This from a guy whose eclectic musical tastes are often beyond even my own broad frames of reference.

I remain agnostic as I try to assimilate the assault on my senses - all I'm prepared to commit to at this stage is that I feel I have been daringly challenged.  I just need to decide if it was in a good or bad way.

Monday, 11 January 2016

Ashes to Ashes - Funk to Funky

It was Bowie who led me on the path to my eclectic taste in music, having grown up with standard verse/chorus/bridge songs.  Yes, he did enough of those too but my mind did a flip on hearing the hypnotic opening strains of 'Five Years' on the Ziggy album.  My first thoughts were "This guy can't sing and doesn't even put all of the notes in the right order" and then BAM - lying on the floor with my portable record player, a speaker set on each side of my head - the magic began to flow. *Ashes to ashes, Funk to funky* ... and Station to Station, my friend. May your next stop be Heaven. R.I.P