The Self-Publishing Struggle


Writers are always told to write what they know so for my first blog post back after a little hiatus I wanted to write about my experience of self-publishing. All the articles I have come across promising to shed light on how to manoeuvre through the self-publishing process only seem to concentrate on the professional rather than the personal.

1- It is the loneliest form of writing. There is no one to bounce ideas off of, no one to turn to for advice or to remind you of deadlines and push you to meet them. Agents and publishers don’t care how much housework you have, whether your child is sick or you are moving house or you have visitors.


2- It is very easy to ‘miss the boat’ and so easy to push the importance of writing/publishing to the back burner in favour of family life and demands. It only takes one event to break the creative flow. Writing like many practices is only improved through practice. I so often feel I am taking one step forward and two steps back and for various reasons I have been struggling to catch up since June and feel I have missed a number of advertising/marketing opportunities for my current workload.


3- If you don’t consider writing as important and part of your job, no one else will. So many times I have been persuaded to shut my laptop in favour of watching a film, a sitcom or political satire and due to my desire to please, my goals are again pushed back, it has happened so often that it is inadvertently expected of me. My husband often works from home and when he does often shuts himself away upstairs until his work for the day is completed.  On the other hand, I sit in the family room with a million and one things happening all at once and seem to forget that I am working from home as a stay at home mother and as a writer and should act accordingly.


4- In the self-publishing process, time is often of short supply and it is so easy to take short-cuts in the hope you can get one step ahead. Take it from me, sometimes long cuts are needed to save both time and money. We are so often told time and time again that it is better to take your time and complete a job well rather than rush it and make mistakes and then have to repeat it over and over again. Oh the painful truths of hindsight.


5-  The advice I hear from writers time and time again is to simply keep going. I am currently writing this from the glow of a lion nightlight in my daughter’s bedroom as she lays sleeping beside me recovering from a stomach bug and subsequent Meningitis vaccination. (The wonderful joys of her ‘big girl bedroom’ and a trundle-bed is that we can have ‘sleepovers’ whenever we want).   Even if it means you end up editing/proofreading subsequent drafts by torch-light, keep going. I wish I had from the beginning.


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Alphabet Games in 2012: Review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 25,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 6 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.

With A Little Help From My Friends

I finally find myself in the long-sought after position of reading and writing all day long and I have enjoyed testing myself by accepting new writing challenges, one of which I now need your help with.

I have decided to write an informative, pictorial essay on life in Iran that will be downloadable from my blog for free. It may not be a subject close to many people’s hearts and minds but as every writer is told, you need to ‘write what you know’ so that is exactly what I’m doing.

There seems to be a lot of rhetoric about Iran, most of which is negative and most of which from my perspective is largely based on misunderstandings. I plan to conduct thorough research, expand upon my findings with my own first-hand experiences and observations and hopefully provide a different perspective for my readers than they previously have been used to.

This is where you come in. I am inviting you to contact me with your perceptions of Iran via my proofreading e-mail address: or alternatively by commenting on this post. You are more than welcome to contact me anonymously and please feel free to express your true opinions and/or perceptions of Iran. I will not identify anyone in the write-up but would like to grasp a cross-section of understanding from people.

I genuinely really look forward to hearing from you and hope you will share your thoughts on Iran with me. You do not need to be Iranian, know an Iranian or even understand Iran. Just write what is in your mind.

Title image from: Role of Friends in Life 

The Book Rant

Books are lovely little creatures.

One thing I hope to do when I am a published writer is to help others. Don’t get me wrong, I do not expect to save the world but I hope that I am able to calm my reader, to help them feel they are not alone in whichever trouble or strife they find themselves in. I want to share their happiness and sadness. I want to be able to make them laugh, to make them cry. I want to help them to feel emotions they didn’t know they had.

I HATE the term chick lit or at least I HATE what the term represents. That it is something unacceptable for a book to offer frilly, happy endings. Sometimes that is what you need in life. Sometimes our lives are so busy and so turbulent that you need frilly, happy endings to remind you that they can happen whether in fantasy or reality. Sometimes you need fantasies to help you forget your reality.

I surprised myself this morning. I experienced a set back yesterday and I actually stood beside my bed choosing which book will accompany me into London today. I am currently reading Second Chance by Jane Green while commuting and although it is full of elements of a hard life for each characters (i.e. in no way happy or frilly), I couldn’t really appreciate its implied positivity today. Instead I chose She’s Never Coming Back by Hans Koppel. It’s pretty harsh about a kidnapping and a woman being held captive in the basement of a house opposite her own. I must admit it is not something I would normally read. I brought it originally because I wanted to expand on my reading material. To learn different methods of writing. Many people suggest that you can tell their mood by their hairstyles, the clothes they wear, the colour (and/or extent) of their make-up. Sometimes for me, you can tell how I feel by the book I hold in my hands.











Even those I know who are not ‘big’ readers always want to curl up in bed or on the sofa with ‘a good book’ when they are not feeling 100%. There is something so very comforting about books, regardless of whether it is about a love or a crime. Who would not want to be a part of that? To be a comfort to a total stranger?

How can people tell what mood you are in?

The Loneliness of Writing

I Have. Written. A. Book.

Yep. You read that correctly. This past weekend I have written a book and the adrenaline is still flowing. I feel so alive. 29 days into the new year and my children’s book is completed. Okay, okay so I still have the editing stage, there is still no title but it actually looks like a book. As I came running down the stairs Saturday evening and showed my husband; as I began to share with him everything I had planned for the book, I could barely take a breath. I have never felt like this before. I feel I have now finally found what I have been looking for all these years. I have found my place, my calling. I feel complete. Not only have I written my  children’s book but I have drawn a mind map for the skeletal body of the fictional account of my trip to Iran. (I long to finally welcome you with titles so I don’t have to use full sentences when I want to share any specific writing project with you). I am hoping the map will also help trigger elements of the story that I have yet to discover. I wanted to round off the very productive weekend with a blog entry but succumbed to the calling of Desperate Housewives and attempted to write the post while watching it. I don’t think there can be anyone who is efficient enough at multi-tasking to complete that well. I managed to write at least a paragraph which was something.

Writing really is a lonely job. I hid myself away most of the weekend in the spare bedroom, iTunes playing and occasionally allowing my husband to enter with fruit and drinks. I counter-balanced this by watching films in the evening. Promising that if I could only work on this for a few hours, I will then be able to (with peace of mind) lose myself in the latest blockbuster offering. On Saturday evening though, I had to at least hold a book – even though I didn’t even open it – just so I could feel it in my hands. (Is there anyone else out there who can join me in this?)

I think I can now understand how writing can be lonely. Not only are you locked in a room; away from the world with your head permanently buried in a book or staring at a computer screen; it is also very hard for anyone else to share your excitement and joy at meeting milestones in your writing. Neither do many appreciate how hard it is to even sometimes get a single word down onto a page but this does not necessarily make them any less supportive. This loneliness is also a reason why you should write primarily for yourself. Writing a book is such a fast rollercoaster ride, there is no room on it for anyone else. The children’s book was primarily for my niece but now I have actually written it and I see it’s future, it’s become more for me than her.

Writing is a lonely job but I would rather be alone in my room poised for the latest Politzer prize winner to flow from my fingertips than to be surrounded by people in a job I dislike.

The Struggle For Words

We are now 14 days into the new year. 2012. The year I promised my book WILL be finished. Yet despite this I have failed to write a single word in my selected notebooks or laptop. In terms of the children’s book, I’m stuck in finding an illustrator and although I have had quite strong interest from an American publisher, I’ve been somewhat turned off by their hard selling tactics. Distracted by Christmas; New Year and family commitments, my writing has taken a back seat. I’ve tried to combat this by sitting with my family, watching films and writing but it’s no good. I just end up staring at a blank page. Wherever I go, I carry with me a bag of writing materials, books and notebooks but rarely even open the bag. My New Year’s resolution? To spend just 30 minutes each day on writing, whether that be researching, reading or writing itself. I am going to be selfish and work on what I need to do. I will stop trying to be all things to everyone but instead be all things to myself. Don’t get me wrong. My priority will always be my family but writing is my salvation. Some people have music, others may have films, others use sport. I use writing. It always helps me to make sense of my past, to escape the reality of the present and to imagine a happier, more fulfilled future.

I used to implore my husband to help me to write as if he could wave a magic wand and make all other responsibilities disappear. I see now that it was wrong. It is up to me to help myself to write, it is up to me to take my writing seriously and show others that it should be taken seriously. I’m currently reading a book that is opening up a brand new path to the opening of my own story and I’m looking forward to spending the rest of the evening reading further. In terms of my children’s book, I’m tempted to leave it to one side. Then again, I think of who I wrote it for and ‘leaving it to one side’  is not something I am willing (and able) to do. Thinking about it now I’ve decided to send it to publishers – what harm can it do?

The next time I am asked my occupation, I want to say: “I am a writer.”

Alphabet Games’ 2011 in Review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for Alphabet Games. I may have been a few days short of a post a week but exceeding the Sydney Opera House is not a bad achievement!

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 21,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 8 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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