Self-publishing – and Horse colours (tips please!)

Writing coming off hold! I’ve been a little quiet on the twitter/blog front recently. What happened was that the combination of hungry horse and awful winter weather (not to mention very long winter) here in Bedfordshire (UK) has meant that the grassy green field turned into a sludge brown field. So I’ve sent the hairy cob away to an equestrian centre in the next county over, for some expert schooling and to rest the field. Meanwhile, I’ve been picking up horse droppings, re-seeding the field and laying down fertiliser. Result: a few green shoots and a glimmer of hope for more.

So now, back to focus on the writing. I’ve now read no fewer than five of those books about how to succeed with self-publishing and marketing your e-book. Some of the main lessons in all these books (now they tell me…) are about things you should do BEFORE publication so I’ll be trying these out. One piece of advice many of these books give is about self-publishing on Kindle and then being able to give away free copies on selected days. Now neither of my e-books (“Lights! Camera! Gallop! The Story of the Horse in Film” and the short story book “Because it is Written”) are in my control so I haven’t been able to do the give-away thing. But I’m determined to publish the new one myself through Kindle Direct Publishing.     

So, I’m starting the new book now. The plan is to aim it at a younger audience than Lights! Camera! Gallop! The Story of the Horse in Film and I’ll give it a more playful focus. There will be some horse film stars in it and lots of pictures. It’s going to be about the huge variety of colours horses can have, and the different names for them (sometimes the same colours have different names in the UK and USA). The colour of a horse is often carefully considered in film-making and there’s been a whole raft of theories about the symbolism of a horse’s colour. Just as a director might have definite views about whether to choose a dark haired actress such as Angelina Jolie or a blonde like Reese Witherspoon, he or she would also decide carefully between a black stallion, which might hint at, say, power, mystery, secrecy or even death, or a white one, which would traditionally suggest innocence, light, sun, vitality or resurrection.

Such interpretations of colouring are not set in stone and are sometimes reversed, as for example a pale horse might symbolise death. The star horse in the various Black Beauty films, being all based on the book of the same name, had of course to be black in colour but his character was also very carefully and very strongly shown to be good: brave, faithful and patient. Then there is my own favourite colour: the Palomino. I’m thinking Roy Rogers’ Trigger or the legendary talking Mr Ed.

So, I’d very much value your input as I start this project:

Have you a favourite horse colour?

Have you an anecdote about horse colours?

And – have you any hints on marketing self-published books or on the Kindle Direct Publishing please? 

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Tips for Book Clubs

Lots of people are still catching on to the fun of Book clubs. In the UK, maybe this has something to do with the unrelenting cold, wet and dreary weather. Book Club night can be something you look forward to, brightening up the week and giving you a chance to participate in something actively (whereas something like going to the cinema is more passive). If you’re still struggling with the setting up process for your book club there are plenty of tips out there on the internet. Some of the more obvious suggestions are:

  • decide what sort of book club you want it to be, within the range of say a friendly group focusing on the social side for the evening to a pretty seriously academic kind of discussion group.
  • Aim for numbers between around 9 and 16. That’s because you need enough for a discussion when some don’t turn up but not so many members that some never get to say anything
  • aim to vary the sorts of books that you discuss, from the lighter and more popular books to those a bit more challenging. I’m not suggesting Dickens here but maybe something a little bit on the side of classic but still easily readable such as, say, Graham Greene or Neville Shute. (I’m being very much influenced here by the last two books I’ve read – but you get the idea).

Okay so once your book club is up and running there are a couple more traps you might fall into and you should probably think about these even if you decide that you are going to fall into one or both traps only too willingly! Firstly you will almost certainly want some food even if it’s only in the category of nibbles. Now this wouldn’t be me at all but I hear there have been some book clubs where the provision of food has become a bit competitive. No real harm in that but it is likely to take away from the focus on books. The other danger is around the issue of alcohol. Many book clubs of course include a certain amount of wine drinking. It’s all part of the being sociable aim of the evening but I have heard (surely not?) of the occasional book club evening turning into such fun that nobody can remember whether they actually discussed the book or not. The trick here is probably to phase the wine slowly at the beginning of the discussion at least.

There is another problem that many of the more informal book clubs face that few of their members feel brave enough to mention out loud. That is the problem of one or two people being much less comfortable or much too busy actually to read the whole book that has been set for that meeting. This can be embarrassing for person(s) concerned  – and four the other members.  A suggestion I’ve not seen anywhere else is that of choosing short stories occasionally. There are huge numbers of short story collections, from a classical short story writers. See for example websites such as www.onlineclasses.org which has a list of “The 50 best short Stories of all Time”. Amazon’s Kindle store is now promoting sales of short stories and articles.

If you fancy trying out this idea, I’ve got two very different short stories of revenge and redemption: Because It Is Written. This booklet contains one story set in 17th century England about a blacksmith presented with the perfect opportunity for revenge on the man who hanged his wife. The second story, Hoodies, is by contrast about a drug dealer killing on a modern day problem housing estate and seen through the eyes of his ex-girlfriend and of a naive press reporter. 

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