Swallows & Amazon : The super summer of 2012 and what Saffina Desforges did next

They say hindsight is a wonderful thing.

I say:

Who needs hindsight when you have the internet?

These days, I am very careful about what I write. Always. I know several authors/bloggers that have quickly come to regret comments on facebook or twitter or had to backtrack on statements made six months ago on the barely-still industry we have the pleasure of being involved in.

Abraham Lincoln was a wise man indeed when he warned us:

Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.

No, nowadays, it really is best to listen and learn. What was true yesterday might be ridiculed a week on Friday. Publishing changes quicker than Ussain Bolt running a bend and what you really need is a crystal ball.

That, or cahones as big as shot puts and the nerve to write and publish whatever it is you like – and to hell with the rapidly becoming redundant gatekeepers! ;-)

Speaking of balls of steel, what a summer it’s been eh? For Great Britain especially. We have had a wondrous summer of sport and music; Diamond Jubilee, the Euro’s and the unforgettable Olympic games.

The Paralympics has recently started and in a few days the closing ceremony will lower the curtain on a season that will be remembered by a generation for many, many years to come. I for one am dreading the imminent post-summer hangover that will start as the nights pull in and you watch the last swallow take to the skies for another year…

But panic not! After Summer comes Autumn, which means Halloween.

Halloween gives way to Bonfire/Guy Fawkes night and no sooner have the sparklers fizzled out and the embers died on the bonfires, then the countdown to Christmas begins…

And so we do it all again.

We find ourselves another year older (you have no idea how much dread the thought of my next birthday celebration fills me with! I cannot be forty, I CANNOT be forty) and hopefully, wiser and the seasons continue to change.

It’s been that way always.

What you do with it is another matter.

Since I last posted on this official blog (for a weekly dose of  my hugely popular Banning the Bullsh*t blog, go here) quite a few things have happened, not least, in the publishing industry.

The already-mighty ‘zon joined forces with the weedy-by-comparison (in the digital publishing stakes) Waterstones in a huge one-eighty that left lots of people frantically stuffing their ill-thought words back in their mouths and going back on previously professed declarations of abhorrence for the Kindle (see earlier statement about thinking before you speak/type/tweet) and with more than a smidge of egg on their faces. Still, it will no doubt have a huge impact on digital publishing in the year to come.

Enter the only other (but slightly battle-worn) worthy opponent into the digi-arena to have one last crack at the ‘zon with its patched-up sling-shot.

Barnes & Noble have just announced that the Nook will be gracing our shores come October and not only has it got software giant Microsoft in its corner, but it’s had a make-over too and the new-look-Nook has a trick up its sleeve. A secret move that may just catch Amazon square on the jaw and leave the ref pounding the canvas in a ten-count.

It glows.

Yes. Not only does it have up-to-date eInk technology, but it allows you to do the one thing that the Kindle can’t without performance enhancing asssitance. You can read it in the dark.

B&N aren’t stupid. Rumour has it that they have hand-picked three MONSTER retailers in the UK to help them in the war against Amazon, John Lewis and Argos being their best-equipped allies.

You can read all about it here.

So what does that mean for us mere minions? Well, as writers, it can only be good news, right? What with Kobo allowing us to directly upload to their sites and these two beasts fighting it out for supremecy it only provides more ways for us to get our books in front of readers, wherever they decide to download them from and whatever device they select to read them on.

So everything’s groovy and being a writer now is the best time ever to earn your millions?

No. Not unless you wrote ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ and didn’t tell anybody.

Why? Precisely because of the above.

There are more books than ever before digitally available and more places to get them from, so unless you are already very well-known and have the rights to a massive backlist and want to stick them out there for twenty pence a pop or have a huge publisher with an even bigger marketing budget behind you, you’re gonna have to work harder than ever to get your books noticed. And then some.

So how do we do it?

Sorry, I don’t have a draft ready to stick on (insert your preferred digital platform here but discount others at your peril) entitled ‘A guaranteed best-seller in forty eight hours without paying for reviews or writing mummy-porn or your money back’…all I can tell you is what Saffina Desforges is doing next. The rest, you’ll need the aforementioned crystal ball for… and a big dose of luck!

A few days ago we clinched our very first Amazon.COM category #1 with a book that is totally out of our comfort zone. Soooo un-Saffi’fied that unless you looked closely, you wouldn’t even know it was one of ours.

Anca’s  Story  is no-holds-barred, Young Adult, Historical, literary fiction. If you’re gonna stick a label on it.

Some time back, we were told by an uber-respected agent (not our current agent, I might add) that we couldn’t release anything  that ‘wasn’t a crime thriller’ and we were ‘risking literary suicide’ if we did so.

Anca’s Story has only been out a couple of months and is selling very well thank you, on both sides of the pond and will soon be available on all digital platforms and in paperback on Amazon.

For the next five days in the UK/Europe, you can get Anca’s Story FREE here (UK).

And here for France

And for Germany here.

Just a little thank you to our loyal Brit’/European readers and a final hoorah before we take it out of KDP Select. That is one for another day…

Within the next fortnight, the second book in our Rose Red crime thriller series, ‘Rapunzel’ will be available on Amazon and within the next month, Kobo, Waterstones and iTunes, plus a handful of other retailers. Book One, ‘Snow White’, plus ‘Sugar & Spice’ will also be available in paperback from Amazon in time for Christmas.

Look out on Amazon for the first in our new short story series, Rose Red Rhymes too.

‘Ring-a-ring o’roses’ will be out in October!

See? There is no magic formula. We just keep writing and writing what we think readers want to read.

And we make sure they are in as many places at possible.

Oh, and a couple of other things we have learned along the way and we might have mentioned before:

  • Get a great cover
  • Write an exciting blurb
  • Get your book proof-read. Upload a clean version of your book and if readers find mistakes, correct them and upload a new version until it’s as perfect as can be
  • Keep the price affordable

Other than that, just keep writing!

Write blogs, tweet, write posts on facebook, comment on other blogs.

Write short stories, write under a pseudonym, write local newspaper articles, write guest blogs, write goddam erotica if you’re good at it and you think your readers will like it (your current readers might not, but new readers might, then they might read your other stuff!) hell, write chic-lit or  fantasy if the mood takes you, as long as you’re writing!

Phew! Did I mention that you should be writing?

As we speak, one of our two preferred cover designers is beavering away on some new stuff for our late 2012/2013 releases (you can find links to Athanasios and Jeroen on this blog) and Jeroen has just shown us the fabulous new cover for Book three in the Rose Red Series, ‘Beauty & the beast’.

What do you think to this?

Print

 

Awesome huh?

2013 is hopefully going to be another great year for Saffina Desforges and a very exciting one too!

We can’t reveal too much other than what we have already given away, but we’re going to be putting some new stuff out there that will not be what you’re expecting!

More to follow on The China Town Mysteries, The Dark Halo trilogy and a few other surprises along the way.

So what does all of this mean for the shape of publishing over the coming 12 months? Truth? We don’t know. We don’t have said crystal ball.

There will be a next-big-thing. Shades of Grey will topple at some point, the erotica market will reach saturation point and readers will be looking for something new. No-one can say what that will be. The agents and publishers don’t even know!

But I’ll tell you this for free: If you haven’t got a book out there, it won’t be you.

AND, whatever it is, you can bet your bottom dollar/pound/yen/euro that it’ll have been an ebook first.

So what are you waiting for?

Saffi

Battle of the books – England v France : the great Euro divide

We ♥ the French.

It’s true.

Not because they lunch for three hours, or because of their beautiful churches and gloriously gorgeous people, nor is it because you can drink over there at fourteen and seemingly deposit your car between two parked cars by shunting them out of the way and NOT get arrested – no, it’s none of that (although all of the aforementioned reasons do help).

So, why the love-fest on the Saffina Desforges blog today for our friends across the channel?

Well, I’ll tell you…

It’s their love of books.

Not just their love of books, but their infinite passion for the written word (in whatever format it might take) and their open-mindedness when it comes to subject matter.

Now, you may accuse me of being biased and maybe I am. I am still a little love-sick for Paris after my recent trip and miss the waving of hands when talking and the kissing of both cheeks every time you greet somebody, but there are a few things about our experience with our French publishers that we wanted to put out there into the blogosphere to help dispel a few myths.

For those of you who have either been living under a rock, detained at Her Majesty’s pleasure or are just not the slightest bit interested, a few things have been happening recently.

There was the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, the Leveson Inquiry, Euro 2012 started and the Olympic torch started its journey around the UK. Oh and lest we forget, Paraphilia, the French version of Sugar & Spice was released in print and digital! ;-)

 You can read about my promotional trip to Paris here on my SMoD&L blog.

So, of course, we are totally enamoured by the French to start with because they took the chance on publishing our book and for that we are eternally grateful, but what has become glaringly obvious is the difference between the horror stories that you read daily on writers’ blogs about ogre publishers, non-compete clauses that rival any of Tolstoy‘s offerings and the age between the signing of a contract and holding a book in  your hands, and our recent dalliance with a publisher.

Well let me put that straight right here and right now:

With our publishers (MA Editions),  we had none of that. In fact, the polar opposite.

I have talked about how professional, friendly, approachable, flexible (shall I go on) and just downright awesome MA have been with us from the very first email contact we had in previous blog posts, but it won’t hurt to recap:

  • From first email requesting the MS to signing the contract approximately 4 weeks
  • Total control over the re-name of the book
  • Constant contact with the translator throughout that process
  • Frequent updates on release progress
  • Meeting in person in the UK with the Publishing Manager
  • Time from contract to print approximately 7 months
  • Arranging of promotional visit to France for myself and sorting meetings with publicists, bloggers and other influential literary persons

They have been brilliant! The owner of the Publishing company even turned up at le Gare de Nord to collect me from the Eurostar and drove me to my hotel, before staying with us all day throughout the meetings and translating for me during my interviews. Nothing has been too much trouble, honestly.

We couldn’t have asked for better treatment, even as total unknown/debut authors, they have treated us with the utmost respect and professionalism and we hope to continue and strengthen our relationship with them going forward.

Even now, with Paraphilia in its first week of official release in France, we are talking to them about our next projects and they are involved already. We are looking to  set the third book in the Rose Red crime series, Beauty & the Beast in Paris, so we checked with them on the legalities of mentioning place names in the book and asked if they knew of anyone who could help us with the French police procedural references.

Two hours later, we have a French lawyer to contact for the project and they are currently seeking out an English speaking detective to assist.

That’s what I call service.

The whole publishing system in France is completely different too.

In a very long (and slightly scary) drive to my hotel in Paris, I chatted with Eric and Valerie, who between them have over 45 years experience in publishing, about the UK’s reluctance to publish Sugar & Spice, the print v digital debate and the French pricing structure.

Eric could not get his head around the whole ‘we love your book but we daren’t publish it because it’s got the word paedophile in it and we can’t be associated with that’ saga, nor could he understand why you had to have an agent to get anywhere (or so some people think) these days. He also wafted away my concerns about the price of both the digital and print version of Paraphilia and explained that publishers have no (or little) control over pricing and that the margin for promotional/reduction purposes is not even as high as ten percent. Ergo, the French buying public expect to pay the prices set. Not a bad model. At least for the publishers and authors.

A week in to our release and we are awaiting reaction and reviews to come in, but sales are looking promising.

Today we charted on Amazon.fr with the Kindle version of Paraphilia and we couldn’t be more thrilled:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As for print sales, it will be some time before we find out how that is going, but one thing we do know is, our publisher will be doing everything within their powers to ensure the book is a success.

Our wonderful translator, Christophe Sisyphus even sent us this picture of Paraphilia in the Virgin store!

So all that remains for me to say to all you wannabe/new and disillusioned writers out there , is ‘don’t believe everything you hear’.  Most horror stories aren’t true or at least, not the ones you hear about publishers anyway. ;-)

I leave you with the question: Why are the UK so far behind in just about everything?

Of course, if it comes down to England v France in the Euro’s at any point (I realise we have played them, but we COULD meet again), I won’t be quite so in love with the French, but I cannot deny, a little of the blue in the red, white and blue running through my veins, now belongs to Francais. ;-)

Au revoir.

Saffi

PS. If you are so inclined and can read French, you can get Paraphilia here:

Amazon UK print

Amazon UK Kindle

Amazon FR print

Amazon FR Kindle

Raise your glass! Goodbye 2011 and what’s on the way in 2012

So, happy New Years Eve eve! ;-)

By the way, that was a question?

What IS on the way for 2012?

Now, as I’ve said before, my co-writer, mystic Mark (Williams), is the one with the crystal ball, so you won’t find much in the way of predictions here on this blog, more a review and reaction to what HAS happened, not what MIGHT. For all things digital publishing and spooky speculation, check Mark’s blog out. MWi.

But here, today, let me tell you what HAS happened in 2011 and what WILL happen in 2012.

  • We were the only TRUE indie writers to make #2 in the Amazon (UK) paid store and #1 in Thrillers with Sugar & Spice
  • We sold over 125,000 books in our first year of publication
  • We set up MWiDP and now have over 100 titles from 40 odd cool writers live on Amazon
  • We made #2 on Waterstones ebook chart
  • We turned down two of the biggest lit agents in the US
  • We accepted a French translation and publishing deal for Sugar & Spice from a forward-thinking publisher who listens
  • We teamed up with some awesome people (Miriam Joy, Charley Robson and Elizabeth Ann West. Jeroen ten Berge & Athanasios to name but a few) who we are hoping to do more brilliant things with in the next year!
  • We wrote and published 4 books
  • We built (with the help of the brilliant Kristen Lamb) a social platform across several blogs, twitter, Facebook and every other social networking tool imaginable, that now reaches and connects tens of thousands of people
  • We spent our lives in front of a computer (without which, none of the above would have been possible)

We did a lot of other things too. Occasionally slept, ate and saw friends and family, but not so much of that! ;-)

It’s been a blast.

So, what’s next?

  • We will release Rapunzel in the first part of 2012
  • We will release Saffina Desforges presents...Vols 2 & 3 in the first quarter of 2012
  • We will release the co-written St.Mallory’s forever! in the first quarter of 2012
  • We will release the first book of The Chinatown Mysteries, co-written with Elizabeth Ann West in the summer of 2012
  • We will release Book One in our new dark, urban fantasy trilogy for Halloween 2012
  • We will release Beauty & the Beast (book 3) and Little Red Riding Hood (book 4) of The Rose Red crime thriller series
  • We will open our new indie world bookstore IBU (indiebooksunited.com) coming soon!
  • We will release Vols 4, 5 & 6 of Saffina Desforges presents…
  • We will continue to build and grow the MWiDP cloud sharing partnership
  • We will fall out and disagree A LOT (Mark and I, that is)
  • We might even sleep
Oh and in-between all that, we’re gonna teach the world to read!
In our spare time, we were planning on finding a way to shut Justin Beiber up, but that’s secondary! ;-) (I am also doing the Four Peaks challenge in May for charity and will be bugging you all to sponsor me. Details to come)
So, we’re gonna be busy to say the least.
We are HUGELY excited about the next twelve months and we wave good bye to the last with fondness as far as our writing and publishing careers are concerned.
All that remains is to wish you and yours a Happy New Year and hope that 2012 is great for you. Oh and to ask you this:
Will you be coming along for the ride?
Saffi

Official annoucement: Publishing deal for ‘Sugar & Spice’ by Saffina Desforges

It’s been one crazy year for the Saffina Desforges team.

Last Christmas the brand was completely unknown. Two debut novelists (one a complete newbie, the other with background in TV and theatre, but that counts for little when writing a book) writing under a new name, Saffina Desforges. Their book, Sugar & Spice, was barely a month old on Amazon and had sold precisely nothing. We had hopes we might start moving with all the new Kindles in the UK market, but it was not to be. It wasn’t until February, three months after we launched, that we even made double figures!

It seemed the gatekeepers were right. Time and again they had turned us away, sometimes with encouraging words, more often not. At best we were told it was a great book but no publisher would touch it due to the sensitive subject matter.

In March, after endless months of rejection, we finally had an agent who seemed seriously interested, and took the book under exclusive consideration. Bear in mind the UK ebook market was still embryonic at this stage. Were there even enough people in the UK with e-readers to make ebooks viable?

We doubted it. So the latest agent seemed the answer to our dreams. At the time we would probably have signed anything she sent to us without even looking at it.  But the agent was slow. Very slow.  She loved the synopsis and openings and asked for the full script for her in-house reader. The in-house reader loved it. A glowing report came back. The agent asked for a further read.

Weeks became months. March became May. We became a lot more worldly-wise. When the final decision came, we realized just how crazy the old system was. The agent wanted us to take the ebook down so she could start touting to publishers. Three months earlier we would have done so. We were selling nothing. But this was three months later.

The week we sent our first rejection letter to an agent was the week Sugar & Spice broke the 50,000 sales barrier in the tiny UK market, and was the second biggest selling ebook in the country, competing – and beating – names we used to idolize.

Sugar & Spice went on to break the 100,000 sales barrier in late summer, and despite an Amazon glitch with the buying links that saw the book literally disappear from Amazon for almost a month, the book continues to sell well today, a year on.

And we continued to send out rejection letters, to both agents and publishers. Not because we had suddenly become anti-agent or anti-trad publisher, but because what they offered would have been a backward step.

When we hit #2 on Kindle UK with 50k sales the almighty Trident Media Group, one of the biggest agencies on the planet, came cold-calling.  Months earlier we couldn’t get an agent to give us the time of day. Now New York’s finest were coming to us! Could this be our big break in the American market?

Sadly not.

In fact their representative had not even read the book, and when they finally did she wanted so many changes (to a book that by now had sold 60,000 and was still topping the charts!) it would have been unrecognizable. And this just to get them to approach a publisher, let alone whatever changes the publisher might demand.

When the Trident agent then told us we had to withhold release of our new Rose Red crime thriller series until after they had approved it – this without us ever having signed a contract with TMG – we realized this and many other agents were living in some fantasy past world where writers were nothing more than an irritation in their all-important lives. When writers had no other options.

While all this was going on we were also being approached by overseas agents and publishers. We let slip the name of one Turkish agent in telephone conversation and the next day Trident – with whom we had no agreement whatsoever – had contacted them to tell them TMG were running the show. Six months on Trident have yet to tell the Turkish agency that TMG are not, and never have been, our representatives. Shame on you, Trident Media Group.

Other agency and publisher offers followed, with contracts ranging from merely unreasonable to downright despicable.

Then along came an offer from France that immediately captured our interest.

For starters, they had actually read the book! Nothing can be more instructive about an agent’s or publisher’s interest in you than they never having read the book they seek to represent / publish. Yet here was a French publisher interested in the Sugar & Spice story, not the Amazon ranking.

So we moved to the next stage, to discuss T&Cs. Here to stress how important it is for all writers to understand that the true value of any deal is not in how much you get out of it, but how much you lose in the detail.

Sure, that glitzy NY agency spiel or the big-dollar advance offered may be tempting. But at what cost to your integrity and future freedom as a writer?

Trident told us (from the very first phone conversation they were dictating terms like they owned us!) our projects list of future books was “just silly”. We could only write crime thrillers for “the next three years”. Our urban dark fantasy, trilogy? Not a chance. Our YA boarding school series, St. Mallory’s? Forget it. Our China Town chicklit mystery series? Go stand in the corner for using foul language. Chicklit doesn’t sell! As for non-fiction… Trident’s rep almost jumped down the phone and grabbed up by the neck to shake sense into us.

And as we looked at other publishers’ and agents’ contracts it became clear many were downright predatory. Non-compete conditions. Exclusivity. World rights despite they having no interest in anything outside the US/UK market. Loss of editorial control. Ridiculous advances and then a timetable to publication that made us wonder if we’d live long enough to see the first edition. Almost every clause was one-sided, and not in favour of the author.

So when we were approached by this publisher in France we were wary. We loved their enthusiasm and personal approach, but Trident, and many others before and since, have been enthusiastic and friendly, until the contract came up. At the end of the day, the only thing that matters is the contract.

So we went through it with the proverbial fine-toothed comb, exchanged questions, asked for revisions, made suggestions, and discussed the whole deal on equal terms.

And when we were quite satisfied, we signed.

As is standard in such contracts there is a confidentiality clause which prohibits us giving the fine detail. But we’ll try to be as open as possible about what we gained, and more importantly about what we didn’t lose.

First off, these guys moved fast. Within a matter of weeks from first contact with this publisher we had negotiated terms, signed and received the advance.

I know you’re all dying to know how much, but we’re not at liberty to discuss that, or the royalty rates. Suffice to say we entered into this contract having weighed up every pro and con carefully, and we are delighted with the outcome.

The deal is for French language rights only. Yes, there’s now a Kindle France site sitting there, ripe for exploitation. So why not stay completely indie and go it alone we hear you cry?

Well, Sugar & Spice is a 120,000 word novel. The translation costs alone are exorbitant. Would we ever recover the costs of translation? If it took off big-time like in the UK, perhaps, but the French e-reader market is tiny by comparison with the UK. That will change, but when? 2012? 2015? We have no effective way of marketing in France anyway, and certainly no time to do so.

We pondered a percentage deal with a translator, like David Gaughran and Scott Nicholson have done, but it’s a huge amount of work and time to translate a novel of this length, then to see it only available as an ebook in a country where ebooks are so new, and with no effective marketing.

Now our French publisher MA will translate for us, get us into print on Paris book shelves and into hypermarkets, train stations and bookshelves all over France (Mark is ecstatic at that – it’s his favourite European country!), not to mention on amazon.fr. And as MA is widely distributed by a HUGE press over there we can expect a marketing campaign that may not match James Patterson’s, but will certainly be better than we could do on our own.

On top of that we got an advance which, when you consider the deal is for one language and has absolutely no limitations on us selling again and again elsewhere around the world, compares very favourably with what US and UK publishers are typically offering for world rights. And of course we’re not giving away 15% of the advance, or the royalties, to an agent who picked up the phone on our behalf. IP lawyers? No need. This was a straight-forward contract with no hidden clauses or ambiguous language.

Royalty numbers? Again, we’re not at liberty to discuss details, but MA were open to negotiation and we settled on a figure that compares very favourably with what’s being offered elsewhere.

Yes, we could theoretically get 70% from Amazon by going it alone. But that would be digital only. We have no way of getting into any other French ebook outlets, and we have sold precisely four English-language books in France since the Kindle store opened. Now we get to see our book in print in Paris and on Amazon Kindle and other French ebook sites professionally translated and marketed.

The math was simple. Seventy percent of nothing, or a smaller percentage of a very real something.

Throw into the ring the additional problems we’ve had recently with Amazon – where a glitch they admit was their fault just last month cost us literally thousands of sales with no hope of compensation – and it was really a no-brainer.

We lose absolutely nothing, and gain in almost every way. We’ve already banked the advance, and the translation for the print and ebook version of Sugar & Spice in France is on-going, with Paraphilia expected to hit the French market mid-2012. Yes, that soon!

Paraphilia? Just one more benefit of having a French outfit on board to sell in France.

Sugar & Spice translates easily enough, of course, but the traditional British nursery rhyme it draws upon (“sugar and spice and all things nice, that’s what little girls are made of” – a reference to the story line of the hunt for a child-killer obsessed with little girls) is pretty much unknown in France, so the title was meaningless and potentially misleading. Something that would never have occurred to us as outsiders.

So are we still indie?

Of course we are!

We are very excited about our partnership for 2012 with this forward-thinking publisher and are currently also discussing other options with them.

But we built our brand up from nothing, with no help from any trad publisher or agent, and we will continue to do so. We will continue to release all our books as indie ebooks first, written how we want them written with covers we choose, published to a timetable that suits us, and priced as we see fit, for maximum royalties. Oh, and without paying 15% to an agent for doing so.

And once we’ve proven the market we can negotiate from strength if and when another agent or publisher comes up with an offer for partial rights to those books. Or indeed for Sugar & Spice itself, which is still open to offers from publishers and agents anywhere that doesn’t speak French!

But don’t even think of trying it on with your boilerplate contract for rookie writers like so many have recently! Take a lesson from MA on mutual respect.

We may not be selling in James Patterson’s numbers, but we think all writers, whatever their status, deserve to be treated with courtesy and respect. And we sure as hell think we’ve earned the right to some.

Saffi & Mark

Jobs for the boys (Goodbye Mr. Apple)

So, sadly, when I made my last post a few days ago about the iPhone, I had no idea about the untimely death of Steve Jobs. In fact, it was less than 24 hours after I posted that I learned of it.

It’s a strange one. Everyone knew he was ill, people had seen how he looked in his last public appearance and then a day after Apple make their ‘big’ non-announcement about the poor relation iPhone 4s, he was gone.

I guess it is tribute to the family that they kept his last few months away from the media and they were able to spend those last precious days with him and out of the spotlight, but I can’t help feeling that there are more powerful forces at work here – more powerful even than they guy who transformed the way we listen to music, communicate, watch tv, workout and basically live – function.

They reckon he has left years’ worth of technology behind. Wow! What a legacy.

I have always been a fan of ‘all things Mac‘ and having had the cash to buy some of their products recently, I am a complete convert.

They work the way you think. That’s what I love about them.

I just bought the new Apple TV to stream music, photos, videos etc around the house. No docking station, no stereo, no memory card, no dongle. Just stream your stuff to a HD TV and watch/listen to it through your tele and surround sound. Awesome.

I can’t believe how things have changed.

We moved into our house 7 years ago in May, just gone. We had a Technics stack system, a 32″ Panasonic HD Viera (which was the most amazing new invention), a pretty decent surround sound system, a laptop and a desktop PC. Oh and an MP3 player the size of a stone. No seriously, it was actually called ‘the stone’.

And we won’t even talk about the mobile phone!

How the f*ck did people talk on those things without getting whiplash (at this point, if a ‘no-win, no fee’ company call you. It wasn’t me!)?

Anyway, I digress. My point here is how things have changed and how quickly.

For me, Steve Jobs was at the forefront of the digital revolution and will leave a legacy that leads the way for years to come. And big up to him. What a guy. He certainly changed my life.

So, what does all of this have to do with me and mine?

Well, I’ll tell you.

Not only has the way I text, call people, watch my favourite programmes, shop, changed; so has the way the world reads.

This time last year I bought a Kindle and persuaded (beat to a pulp about) Mark into putting a book on it.

Hmmm. Let’s see what’s happened since…

Are you sitting comfortably?

Then I’ll begin:

Paramore (yes, my guilty pleasure. Well, one of them Roxette is another. but that’s another time for bums on carpets) sang about the world ‘not needing another band’.

In fact, they said:

“Now I’ve got a feeling if I sang this loud enough

You, would sing it back to me.”

“No one is as lucky as us,

We’re not at the end

But oh, we already won.”

“Tell me how you got so far, and never making a single sound.

I’m not used to it, but I can learn

There’s nothing to it.”

Ok, so the lyrics aren’t in that order, I had to mash them up a bit, but the message is pretty appropriate.

For thousands of years, people have been writing books (think Bible) and the gatekeepers have dictated what you, the public, get to read. Imagine if Steve Jobs had filtered what gadgets went to general market and which ones the ‘rich and famous’ could have access to? (alright, so we’re not all gonna have a solid gold Gucci iPhone!)

Imagine if there are a billion writers out there who’s work is AMAZING, but agents and publishers said you ‘weren’t allowed to read it.’? Your children couldn’t have access to it?

That’s what has happened. Up ’til now.

When you went to school, college, Uni, there was a set curriculum to follow. You were told what to read. Don’t get me wrong, most of the time, they were spot on, but just open your mind to the fact that for every one book you’ve ever read, that left you feeling empty, scared, empowered, sad, happy, alive, desperate – there were a thousand books that were better than that that you would never get to read? Huh? What’s that about? What if J.K. had listened to the publishers rejecting her work?

Sorry, but you get my point!

Well, no more!

The advent of the e-reader has changed the face of literature. Forever.

I am not going to get into the big J.A Konrath/sometimes Stephen Leather  ‘most of self-pubbed stuff is a pile of shit’ debate & ‘it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon’ crap, (have you even run 5k?)  readers can judge for themselves (hello, they have brain cells!) but what  I am going to talk about, is how things will never be the same again. Never, I mean, never.

Forget publishing, reading will never be the same.

The way we read has changed.

How we read has changed.

Where we read has changed, but the biggest difference, is who we read has changed.

December last year, my bookshelf (yes, a real wooden shelf) looked like this:

Stephen King

James Herbert

Patricia Cornwell

Dean Koontz

J. K. Rowling

(and Mr. WillIAM Shakespeare and the odd Edgar Allen Poe might have been jostling for elbow room)

And it still looks like this.

Ya know why? Cos I haven’t bought a hardback/paperback book in 12 months.

Guess what titles are on my Kindle/iPhone/Nook/Sony other android, reading device?

Lee Childs (never read him before, even though he is an awesome author and I am now deeply embedded into his fifth book)

Kathy Reichs

Tess Gerritsen

(ok, so, I know what you’re thinking, but this is thanks to exposure)

And here come the “not-so-well-known-but-equally-as-great-writers”

Michael Wallace

Sibel Hodge

Barry Eisler, Jack Kilbourne (no, not the same person. But you can be forgiven for thinking that J.A  Konrath and Blake Crouch are snuggling up in the same sleeping bag and smelling man farts! But wh0 are we to diss co-writing? Oops. I am sure in the UK you will NEVER HAD HEARD OF THEM JUDGING BY BC’s very short-lived stay in the top  100, despite signing a deal with Thomas & Mercer? Some things, cannot ‘cross the pond’? ), John Locke (ok, I haven’t read them, but you can’t discount them)

Amanda Hocking (ditto above, but still…)

And…

erm…

I bet you were expecting a massive ‘who’s who’ from our new digi-imprint MWiDP right? Nope, that comes later.

The best book I have read this year (and for a long time) ON MY E-READER was ‘Into the darkest corner’ by Elizabeth Haynes.

Right, so it was a top ten best-seller (so was our debut novel for five weeks!) and it was publicised, but I would NEVER have read it if it wasn’t for my e-reader.  I would never have SEEN it. I spent the whole time reading it, thinking “I should be writing” and why am I reading another one of those, “I’ve been done wrong, let’s make a book out of it.” (slight nod to Amanda Knox) diatribes, but I loved it! Her writing style was so fresh and misleading. Kept me sane when my life had just tilted 90 degrees to the South.

Why?

I once got told that your first book in a print run is expected to sell less than a thousand copies. Then what? Er, thanks, but we can’t afford anymore rainforest destruction to chance another.

Well get this!

Sugar & Spice has now sold over 100,000 copies in less than 12 months! Ok, we pubbed it in late Nov’ 10, but I don’t count that, we were  Kindle virgins at that point.

It is currently #3 on Waterstone’s chart (above John le Carre, Steig Larsson and the literary genius that is James Corden) and our new release ‘Snow White‘ is #12!

You know what? We might get two top ten hits on Waterstones? We might sell another 100,000 copies of a book without a publisher that no-one has ever heard of. We might not.

Let me tell you what we are doing.

We are celebrating the fact that the reading public have the chance to decide what they read and when.

We are talking to readers and writers and the other uncategorised. We couldn’t do that with a print book.

We are reaching audiences we never knew existed and making them listen.Hell, they didn’t even know they were audiences,  but by far the biggest thing that has ever happened… is down t0 you.

The readers.

Forget the digital revolution.

This is a revolution –  digital. And it’s in your hands.

Literally.

Don’t stop loving books, just see books in a different form  and see how many more books you can reach now.

Mr. Apple lives on, as do his inventions. he changed our lives, it’s time to change yours.

Saffi

P.S: Steve Jobs was a businessman. He would kill me for not doing this:

If you’re not being talked about, they’re talking about somebody else.

Here’s a list of the most fabulous writers in the world, who we are thrilled to have join the MWiDP imprint. Check them out if you want a good read at a decent price! It doesn’t tear up trees, it shreds minds. Paperless. ;-)

Tonya Kappes

Anne. R. Allen

Prue Batten

Danielle Blanchard Benson

Christine DeMaio-Rice

Karin Cox

Elizabeth Ann West

G. S. Johnston

Sarah Woodbury

Allen Scahtz

Barbara Silkstone

Athanasios

Cheryl Shireman

M.P. Macdonald

Tom Winton

G.P. Ching

Sunhil Bahtia

Georgina Ellis Young

Patricia Rockwell

The future is here, the future is digital (unless you get a six-figure paper deal over four books between two which means you can actually get 12k per book. divided by two?) again, huh? Nah.

The future is a bag-load of fab writers helping each other (aka http://thewritersguidetoepublishing.com/) and apparently, Apple (aka Steve Jobs) have announced the iCloud? Whether it rivals Kindle or Google ‘clouds’ remains to be seen.

Did Steve not see Mark’s post a while back, or did Mark See Steve’s?

I used to want to write books.  Now I realise, that if Jayne was still here, she’d have said this:

  • “It is in vain to say human beings ought to be satisfied with tranquillity: they must have action; and they will make it if they cannot find it.”
    – Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre
Nah, Jayne, you’re wrong.
What we will do is self-publish! (what a dirty word! I can see the ‘so-called’ agent with 700,000 blog followers – if  you had that many readers, you would be a writer, instead of a  agent,cringing over their copy of ‘Publishers’ Weekly’)
Or, as I like to call it: Give the readers’ the choice.
Let them decide.

  • Buy Part One: JAX – INDIGO KIDS from Amazon

  • Buy Part Two: HADI – INDIGO KIDS from Amazon

  • Buy Part Three: STARR – INDIGO KIDS from Amazon

  • Buy Part Four: CECI – INDIGO KIDS from Amazon

  • Buy ROSE RED CRIME THRILLER BOXED SET FROM AMAZON

  • Buy Sugar & Spice from Amazon

  • Buy the French edition of Sugar & Spice (Paraphilia)

  • Buy Snow White from Amazon

  • Buy Snow White in PRINT from Amazon

  • Buy Rapunzel from Amazon

  • Buy Ring A-Ring O’Roses from Amazon

  • Buy The Night Before Christmas from Amazon

  • Buy Anca’s Story from Amazon

  • Buy Anca’s Story in PRINT from Amazon

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