The Age of Loneliness

age of loneliness

When I was first asked if I would consent to being featured in a documentary about loneliness, I was pretty nonplussed.

Although my wife and I had just split up and I was spending at least part of the week living on my own, I still hadn’t come to terms with my own feelings, let alone being ready to talk about them on camera.

Could I really go on the telly and tell people how bereft I felt?

Who would want to hear my tales of woe anyway?

What would my kids say?

What would my mates think?

Come to think of it, I knew the answer to that last question.

Eventually, after some back and forth with the producer about how my story would be handled, I agreed to mull their suggestion over.

That night, I talked to my boys about the documentary.

‘Are you really lonely?’ Joe asked.

‘Will I be on the telly?’ William wanted to know.

I explained to the boys that, since their mum and I separated, I hadn’t had anyone to share life’s trials and tribulations with, to snuggle up with on the sofa, to cook for.

‘I don’t know about the snuggle bit, but you can cook for us any time you want,’ William reassured me.

‘And you can share life’s trials and tribuwotsits with us too if you like,’ Joe chipped in.

Ah, bless.

The truth is, I needed to talk to someone about my loneliness. I’m not one of those men that find it hard to talk about their emotions. In my case, I am quite prepared to open up when I feel it would help.

My problem was that I didn’t have anyone to open up to. The kids are great but when all’s said and done, they’re teenagers. Their capacity for listening is pretty minimal at the best of times, but it’s non-existent when what they are being asked to absorb is an outpouring of their father’s innermost feelings.

My wife was now my ex so I wasn’t about to confide in her. My mates would have been embarrassed to be forced into having such a conversation and my mother would have told me a few home truths that I wasn’t ready to hear.

So that left me with two options. Either talk to myself or confide in a cool Scottish woman with a camera.

Thinking what the hell. I made the call.

me interview

And I haven’t regretted my decision for one second since.

Sue Bourne is a fantastic documentary-maker. Known for programmes such as Fabulous Fashionistas, My Street and Wink, Meet, Delete, Sue handled the subject matter sensitively.

We had a fantastic time filming my story – a process this blog describes.

celebrity chef

The process even helped me come to terms with my loneliness. Sue got me to open up about how hard I had found the whole break-up thing. She made me realise how much my life had changed over the previous few months.

‘I don’t want to come across as a sad sap,’ I told her.

‘What are you doing about addressing your loneliness?’ She asked me.

Er, good question.

In truth, the answer at that point was not a lot.

Instead of going out, making new connections and meeting new people, I had been hiding away in my study for the previous few months writing Six Months to Get a Life, my not autobiographical at all novel about a man learning to live again after his divorce, and Six Lies, my second rom-com with a twist.

Bennewdoubleposter

Sue’s question made me realise that I would indeed look like a wet blanket if I hadn’t started enacting a plan to rebuild my life by the time the camera crew turned up on my doorstep.

Gradually, over the summer, I forced myself to start thinking more positively. Because I had been able to talk about my recent past, I began to stop blaming myself for my marriage ‘failing’. I learnt to look myself in the mirror without cringing. I grew to like myself again.

Once I felt ready, I signed up with an internet dating site. ‘Half-blind sad lonely middle-aged man with two teenage boys seeks Swedish super model,’ my profile read. Or something like that…

Remarkably enough, by the time Sue and her fantastic entourage turned up armed with expensive recording equipment and almost as expensive sandwiches, I had recovered somewhat from the low point I was at when I agreed to be featured in the documentary. I had met someone new. Sue, you may yet turn out to be my Cilla.

dating couple

Looking back on that difficult time in my life, talking about my loneliness, even to a film crew, certainly helped me in my recovery. As did writing novels that did their best to give people hope that a mid-life crisis is sometimes no bad thing in the long run.

Being in the documentary has raised my awareness of loneliness in its different forms. 19-year-old Isabel who is spending her first year at university, and Emily, a stay-at-home mum in her thirties, will, like me, hopefully find that their loneliness is temporary.

But Bob, a 93-year-old widower, and Olive, who will have received her telegram from the Queen by now, expect to have to live with their loneliness for the rest of their lives.

I have seen the final cut of the film, which is being broadcast tonight at 10.35 on BBC1. It features people of all ages, from a variety of backgrounds. It is beautifully shot and expertly edited, with the various vignettes woven into a moving account of loneliness in twenty-first century Britain.

Although I admit to feeling a bit sheepish about how my friends are going to react to The Age of Loneliness, one thing is for sure. I don’t regret being involved in the project. Loneliness is something that will affect most if not all of us at some point in our lives.

Being lonely is nothing to be ashamed of.

Ben

The worst radio interview ever

radio interview

‘That was Adele’s fantastic new single. Now I’m really excited about our next guest. I’ve been a big fan of his for ages. You’ve gotta love his books. And, ladies and gents, he’s got a new one out today. If it’s as good as the last one, we’re all in for a treat. Give it up for the one and only Ben Adams.’

‘What a great intro. Thanks Chris.’

‘Nick.’

‘Shit, sorry Nick.’

‘This is going well, isn’t it. I must apologise to anyone who was offended by Ben’s language. Ben, it’s lovely to have you on the show. I’m a huge fan. Six Months to Get a Life was a hilarious book. And now you’ve got a new one out… Is that your phone?’

‘God, sorry about this Chris. I mean Nick. It’s my son. Hang on a minute. Joe, what do you want, I’m live on the radio. An emergency? What sort of emergency? Well, how am I supposed to know where the bloody remote control is? Sorry about that, Nick. I’ve turned it off now.’

‘Kids eh, who’d have em. So, you were going to tell me about your new book.’

‘Yes, my award-winning second novel is called Six Lies…’

‘Award-winning? Has it won an award already?’

‘Well, not exactly, but it’s just a timing thing. Anyway, let me tell you about it. Dave Fazackerley is not in a good place. He has just buried his mother. His wife has left him for a librarian and neither his band nor his career as a City Banker is progressing smoothly. The only thing keeping him sane is his close relationship with his life-long role model, his father.’

‘Sounds intriguing, Ben.’

‘But all this changes when, the day after his mother’s funeral, he sifts through the condolence letters piled up on his doormat and finds an envelope addressed to him in his mother’s artsy hand. The letter reveals a secret…’

‘Oh, we need a drum-roll.’

‘That sounds more like the travel news jingle to me.’

‘Sorry, wrong button. Back to the secret. Do tell.’

‘Biologically-speaking, his mother isn’t his mother.’

‘Was that your stomach?’

‘Yeah, sorry. I had a kebab last night and it’s been repeating on me ever since.’

‘We’d best get back to the book I think. So, it’s like that programme Nicky Campbell and Davina McCall present on the BBC? Long Lost Family?’

‘Er, no, it’s nothing like that. Their families don’t have rows in supermarket isles, drummers throwing hissy fits, drunken pub quizzes, book dorks, Virginia the virgin or their best mate’s kids taking the piss, sorry micky, out of their sex lives…’

‘Wow, sounds great. Right, the producer’s giving me the evil eye. Time to play another record. Ah, I see where we’re going with this one. Nice link.’

‘Let me guess, ‘Paperback Writer’?’

‘No. ‘Shaddup You Face’.’

six lies cover for pc w endorse

And now for the boring bit…

Thanks to Debbie, my publicist and new best friend, my books are getting lots of really exciting coverage at the moment.

I’m doing the rounds of radio studios around the country. Fortunately, the above wasn’t a transcript of my appearance on either Radio Newcastle or Radio Coventry and Warwickshire. Hopefully, my chat with Allison Ferns on BBC Sussex this lunchtime won’t be anything like this either.

My diary is chock-a-block between now and Christmas. There’s more radio banter, an article for a national newspaper, some magazine work and a few personal appearances (get me!).

The BBC documentary I was involved in is being shown during the first week of January. There is talk of something even more stellar in the near future. I’ll blog about that in due course if it looks like comeing off.

Finally, for the writers amongst you, after a chat with my publisher, we have decided to make the e version of Six Lies available exclusively on Amazon for the next three months. By enrolling it in KDP Select, I am giving those who have signed up to Amazon’s Unlimited subscription service the opportunity to download my book for free. My thinking is that I might get more early reviews by going with this approach.

If you have views on KDP Select, or if you have any great tips on how to avoid messing up a radio interview, I would love to hear from you.

Ben

All I want for Christmas is…

A rest.

Actually, there are lots of things I want for Christmas, but ‘a rest’ is certainly near the top of the list.

‘More time’ would also be high up there. With five weeks until my book joins the millions of others on Amazon’s metaphorically creaking shelves, I have certainly been burning the candle at both ends. My internet usage of late has probably been on a par with that of the entire population of a small nation, as has my coffee consumption. After a day’s work, I come home, feed and vaguely interact with the kids (I talk, they grunt, I shout, they slam doors), and then I sit down for a few hours of hard slog with the aim of promoting my book.

I won’t bore you with the intricate details of this week’s admin, but it is all being done with the aim of shoving ‘Six Months to Get a Life’ under the noses of avid readers of that sort of thing on or as close to 21st January, the book’s launch date.

Other things I want for Christmas include bloggers agreeing to review the book, and opportunities to guest post or post author interviews in places frequented by discerning readers. Actually I might be a lot of things but I’m not a snob – the readers don’t have to be particularly discerning. I am having a good amount of success in this respect, but call me greedy if you like because I want more!

For Christmas I want my publicist to produce the killer press release. You know, the one that persuades The Daily Mail, The New York Times and the Wimbledon Village Women’s Institute to shout about my book. I am talking to my publicist this afternoon. I have had a few thoughts about headlines. What about ‘Six Months to Get a Life’: the best work of fiction since The…’ (no, let’s not go there, I might lose half my readers!) Maybe I had better leave it to a professional.

I would actually like a physical copy of my book for Christmas too – my author services partners are still working on it, so I haven’t felt it in my sweaty palms yet. I have lots of marketing ideas to pursue once I have the book to play with.

Oh how I envy my sons. They wrote their Christmas lists last week. ‘Dear Santa,’ my eldest wrote, ‘I would love an X Box with the latest Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto games.’ He is fourteen – you can see we have brought him up well. He went on to list other things he would like, including a rainbow and a unicorn. I am not sure why he wants a unicorn but I reckon he was really after the pot of gold, not the rainbow itself.

Sure, the pot of gold would be nice, but it isn’t top of my Christmas list. If thousands of people read ‘Six Months…’ then I will make a few quid, but what I am really after is the knowledge that people like my writing and are prepared to give up the time in their busy lives to read it. I crave the feedback.

Although come to think of it, the pot of gold might enable me to devote more time to my writing, which would be a present as valuable to me as anything anyone could give me.

My youngest son has got his own youtube channel. He wants some video recording equipment for Christmas. I might actually stump up for that, on the condition that he makes me a video book trailer. I have shied away from making one myself but I would be more than happy if my son, or even Father Christmas, feels minded to produce one for Christmas.

Other things I could do with for Christmas are a tech-savvy brain (or a PA), a new wardrobe in preparation for all those TV appearances and book signings (I quite like the cut of Lewis Hamilton’s jib – I wonder who his tailor is) and/or a celebrity friend or two who could say nice things about ‘Six Months…’ to their millions of followers.

A nice bottle of Rioja would be good. Oh, and obviously world peace and an end to suffering.

I have been a good boy this year, more out of circumstances than choice, but the big man doesn’t need to know that bit, does he?

What do you want for Christmas? Whatever it is, I hope you get it.

Ben

Divorce, sex and Six Months to Get a Life

A year or so ago, my life, and the lives of others close to me, went through a period of upheaval and change. I went from being part of the typical family unit to living with my parents and having to reinvent family relationships, routines and dreams.

Put the violins away. Out of adversity comes opportunity (God that sounds corny!). I had to think positively, otherwise I might have crumbled, fallen apart or even sunk to the sordid depths of watching soap operas all night with a can of strong lager in my hand. Wait. Rewind. What was I doing last night?

Anyway, to cut a long and personal story short, I coped. I got through my change in life circumstances, as did those close to me.

The single most important thing that helped me through my challenging time was a decision I took one wet Sunday afternoon when the kids weren’t with me. I decided to pursue my dream.

No, not the dream that involves Madonna and Kylie Minogue, but the one that I have had since Kylie was in her dungarees as a teenager in that Australian classic, Neighbours. Sorry, I am back on soap operas again.

My dream, since my school years, has always been to write a book. No, that’s under-stating it. Not just to write any old book, but to write a best-selling novel that thrusts me overnight into the public eye, alongside Rowling, Grisham, EL James (er, maybe not her), Cornwell and the other members of the literary glitterati. Even as a teenager I knew that it wasn’t enough for me to produce a book. I had to produce one that people other than my mother would read.

So, back to that wet Sunday afternoon in March. I got my laptop out, plugged it in, made a cup of tea and sat down to write. I drank my tea, got up and made a sandwich, sat back down and ate it. I thought some more, did some head-scratching and maybe a bit of chin-stroking too. Eventually it was tea time.

What to write? I love crime fiction but I don’t know the first thing about police procedures, forensic science or how the criminal mind works. So that was that genre out of the window. I am not a big fan of horror or sci-fi. And I don’t even know what dystopian fiction and steampunk are, so that’s them ruled out too.

‘What do I know about’, I asked myself in a frustrated tone of voice. Can you have a tone of voice when you say things in your head?

Eventually, in a eureka moment to rival the day that Einstein bruised his apple, the idea came to me. I know about relationships, or at least how to mess them up. I know about family. I know about the impact of the break-up of a long-term relationship. I also believe I know how to make people laugh (and cry). Why not stick all of that into a pot and stir it up?  And that’s when ‘Six Months to Get a Life’ was conceived.

The act of conception was slightly different from other acts of conception you might be familiar with, but after a lot of sole-searching, a fair bit of fiddling around and a few false starts (actually maybe there is more in common than I first thought) the moment was just as sweet.

I wrote the book over the course of the Spring and Summer. It was good therapy for me. Inventing Graham Hope and his friends and writing about his escapades made me smile. I loved writing the dialogue. Being a writer is fantastic. Unlike real life, you get ages to think up the perfect put-down lines.

I signed up with a company who have held my hand, and sometimes dragged me kicking and screaming through the editing and production process. Until today when we now virtually have a physical book to waive around. We have that elusive publication date. The 21st January is getting closer. My excitement is mounting.

I wanted to recap my author journey here in this blog. I am not recommending that everyone going through a relationship break-up writes a book. I am not even recommending that everyone who has gone through such a life-changing event buys my book (although it would be nice). I am just telling you how much the whole process has helped me through a difficult time.

And my regular readers have stood side by side with me on this journey. Lots of people have commented on this blog. Virtually all of them are people I do not know personally. You should know that your contributions have meant a lot to me. The whole process of writing the book and this blog has reaffirmed my belief in my own writing. It has given me hope that, one day, I might achieve my dream. I am under no illusions, there is still a long way to go. It isn’t as if this blog gets millions of hits a day. Even thousands would be nice. But I am at least on the road.

Update on my marketing activity…

Since my last blog, I have continued with my quest to gain reviewers for my baby, with a good response from bloggers. I have entered a sort of mini-competition on Jo Michael’s excellent book blog, with the aim of gaining more reviews and maybe some sales too.

I have also received more positive feedback on the book from another reviewer I have never met before. Her email made me smile so much that I was tempted to order a frame for it and stick it on my wall next to my Madonna poster circa mid-1980s.

My book has been sent off to an indie site that issues quality badges for books it recognises to be of a high standard – a sort of kite mark for Indie books. There’s confidence for you!

And finally, my publicist is preparing the press release for ‘Six Months to Get a Life’, to be sent out in January ahead of the book’s launch. She asked me if there were any quotes in my book that I thought would fit into the press release. I am currently re-reading it for the fifty-seventh time to find some pithy one-liners. The ones that make me smile most, but aren’t probably suitable for inclusion on a press release, are:

‘It’s been a while, if you know what I mean’… Graham Hope on his sex-life.

‘Graham has a big ego and a small dick. I wish it was the other way round.’ (Graham’s ex on Graham).

‘I was in my comfort zone even if my erogenous zone wasn’t seeing much action.’ I am not telling you who said that. You will have to read the book to find out!

I would love to hear what you think of my ramblings. And if you would be interested in reviewing the book, let me know. I will be sending review copies out to those who have already volunteered before Christmas.

Ben

Fireworks from a new author

I let someone else read ‘Six Months to Get a Life’ at the weekend. Stand back and light the blue touch paper…

Oh, the trauma. What would she think? Would she laugh me out of town or marvel at my whit and stimulating repartee? Would she write me off as a boring fart and chuck the book on the bonfire or beg me to write the sequel by tomorrow night?

Luckily for me, the book didn’t bomb. She genuinely seemed to love the fire in the characters’ bellies, their flare and the finale. She did even ask if she could read the next book, the first chapter of which is included at the end of ‘Six Months…’ Boom!

Once I had got over the relief that she enjoyed it (she read it in one sitting), we got into lots of debates about whether the characters in ‘Six Months…’ would have acted in the way that they did. And whether I should have subjected them to the fireworks that they went through.

It felt a bit like my school English literature lessons when we analysed Hardy’s or Shakespeare’s hidden meanings, only this time I was the author. I still didn’t have much more of a clue though.

The essay questions that she wanted to discuss included how would you characterise Adams’ writing style? What was Adams trying to show when he put in the scene about the marriage guidance counsellor? Would Amy have really told Graham that she was having her period whilst sitting in a pub having a roman candle-lit dinner? Would Graham’s ex really have had such a short fuse?

Even though I wrote the book, I am not sure that my answers to the above (‘God knows’, ‘that he had a sense of humour’, ‘maybe; maybe not’ and ‘yes’) satisfied my new fan. They certainly wouldn’t have satisfied Mrs, er, Katherine Wheel, my old English teacher.

My reviewer – let’s call her Claire because that’s what her mum and dad called her – is only the third person to have read the book so far (well, fourth if you count me). Hopefully I will get final type-set and EPUB versions back in the next week or two and be able to start sharing them with potential reviewers – you know, the ones who don’t know me personally and are likely to be more objective… Gulp!

Other developments on my author journey in the past week include me seeing a first cut of my fancy new author website.

I have had email chats with the man designing my site. I haven’t met him but he is probably only fourteen and already a millionaire. He asked me what apps I would like on my site. I didn’t have a clue. My boys said I should have ‘clash of clans’ put on it. I think they missed the point.

After further discussion, my web designer informed me that I wanted an app that counts down to my publication date, one that gets people to like my facebook page and one that takes people to my twitterings (@benadamsauthor). A website with all bells and whistles – well, I’m glad that’s sorted. There are some great images too. Once it is finished, it should be fully integrated with this blog.

I also published my book blurb on my facebook site. I stuck it there because I was told that I needed to generate unique content to get people to go to facebook. I am just following protocol. Normally I’m not very good at following protocol but as someone who is still new to all this stuff, I will go with the flow for now.

So, I will have facebook, twitter, fancy website, Goodreads and my porn site (oopse, I meant not to mention that one). But will they sell any books?

And what about the actual book? Let’s not forget that the book is, after all, the point of all this online nonsense.

Well, I now know that you can’t sign off the cover until you know how thick the spine has to be. As my man in the know puts it, ‘War and Peace had a big spine. Your book is practically spineless.’ I’ll give him a rocket for that.

Apparently we are still on track for a January release date. Graham Hope wants to introduce himself to the world. Then let the fireworks start…

I think that’s quite enough firework references to justify the topical title, don’t you?

I would like to take this opportunity to say a big thank you to those of you that have taken the time and trouble to comment on my blog. I have committed the cardinal sin and failed dismally to reply to everyone individually. I hope you will forgive me. There just aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything.

I have also been having lots of off-line discussions with fellow fledgling authors about the whole process of getting published. I really value these conversations. One thing that those authors are teaching me is that they aren’t like me at all – they are far more organised and prepared.

Social media for dummies

cover one

‘Six Months to Get a Life’ was with the type-setters for most of the last week. I have just got a version back. It is looking more like a proper book every day. I can now announce, to much fanfare, that the book will be 300 pages long. If you don’t learn anything else today, at least you now know the length of my pride and joy.

While I was waiting for the type-set version to be returned to me, I spent some time gazing at the book’s cover. I must have looked at it for hours. Eventually I saw the spelling mistake. Isn’t it funny how your eyes/brain automatically corrects things like this?

I also spent some time this week getting my head around what I can do to give my book the best possible chance of being noticed.

I am not sure I am any further forward now than I was this time last week though. Boy have I got a lot to learn.

If no one has written ‘social media for dummies’ yet then it is about time someone did!

I started off with facebook. Straightaway I decided that it would be a good idea to keep my drunken ramblings and photos on my personal account separate from the professional image I want to portray on my author account. No one who is considering buying my book wants to know what I got up to in ‘The Nook’ in Weymouth the other Saturday night… No one wants to see my mum putting photos of my dog up there either.

I read a few articles and set about making myself an ‘author page’ on facebook. The page looks good. I have posted some of the stuff that I have talked about in this blog to that page and I will add updates regularly as my author journey continues. Everyone can write on that page if they feel so inclined. https://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/pages/Ben-Adams/582854708503738

But I am discovering that having an author ‘page’ is different from having an author profile. I can’t ‘like’ or even ‘follow’ others from my author page. Unless I am missing something, if I don’t use my personal account, I can only interact with others on my page. I can’t post anything to their pages. That feels a bit selfish to me.

It also makes me wonder how people will find my page. I can’t send friend requests out from a ‘page’ so how can I build up a community?

I have been tweeting about my facebook page this week (@benadamsauthor). But that’s really boring. There is nothing I hate more than dull tweeters. Except, maybe, for Downton Abbey.

In theory at least, I have linked this blog to my facebook account too, but knowing me, my technical knowledge may have resulted in me linking it to a porn site instead.

I could pay for adverts that attract people to my facebook page but that just sounds like a total waste of money.

I guess I just post interesting content and hope people stumble across my site. They may search for it when ‘Six Months to Get a Life’ actually comes out in the new year.

This doesn’t seem a particularly satisfactory answer though. Can anyone tell me what I am missing?

When I haven’t been getting frustrated with facebook, I have been compiling a list of potential reviewers for my book. There are lots of people who appear keen to review contemporary fiction. I have got a good list together and have composed an email that I will personalise and fire off as soon as I have discussed the optimum publication date with my publicist. So fingers crossed I will get a few reviews in within that all-important first month. I will keep my toes crossed too in the hope that the reviews are half-decent!

Thanks to those of you that volunteered to review the book via this blog.

Ben

One step closer to publication: the writer’s journey continues

IMG_0128.JPGMy debut novel, ‘Six Months to Get a Life’ is one step closer to being released.

I wasn’t particularly attentive in my English grammar lessons some twenty-five years ago so I was quite worried about the latest hurdle – an in-depth scrutiny of my work by a professional pedant, sorry I mean proof-reader.

As it happens, the proof-read wasn’t too painful and it has certainly enhanced the quality of my book. All the commas are now in the right place, the tenses present and correct, the apostrophes where they should be (although my proof-reader tried to insert one into a reference to Frankie and Bennys which irked me somewhat) and the paragraphs are all of the required length.

So why isn’t ‘Six Months…’ out there now, available to download?

Well, it isn’t out there yet because I want to create some interest in it first. I don’t want a damp squib of a launch, where my mother and my closest mates are the only ones to register that the book exists.

I want people I have never met before to have heard of the book and to want to read it.

How do I achieve this? Well, if I am honest, I haven’t got a clue.

I could run naked around the streets of London waving the cover around. After careful consideration I have dismissed this idea for a whole host of reasons, most prominent amongst which is the fact that people would be put off rather than turned on.

I could bombard people with tweets about my book for the next few months, but that has been done before. It just bores people stupid.

I could… er, pay a professional who knows what he/she is doing to promote my book. Which, in fact, is what I have done.

I have employed a publicist. The publicist comes as part of the package I bought to help me produce the book. To date, this package has included some excellent editorial support and cover design. The company concerned is currently type-setting the book too.

I have read about the merits or otherwise of paying someone to help you publish your book. Some people frown upon the sort of services that I have bought. They say things like ‘either do it all yourself or get yourself an agent and publishing deal’. Well, I haven’t got the time or the expertise to do it all myself and I couldn’t be bothered to write off a gazillion letters to agents. So I have gone with the hybrid approach of retaining control of my book’s publication but paying to bring in expertise as and when I need it.

I have wanted to write a book for ages. I took the decision to invest in my dream to give it the best possible chance of being successful.

I am expecting the publicist to produce a press-release, picking out a newsworthy angle related to the book and then touting the book to international and national publishing media. Who knows what level of interest the book will receive via that route.

In addition, having read numerous accounts from other self-published authors, I have decided to supplement my publicist’s work by contacting book review bloggers. I have got my material ready to send once I receive the type-set version back.

I am apprehensive about what the reviewers will say. Will they even agree to review my book? They must get hundreds of requests to review books. If they do review it, will they like it? So far, my twelve year old son and my editor are the only people to have read my book. My son read it on his kindle which is linked to my account and only confessed to having read it after he had finished it. He liked it but that is probably because it had the ‘f’ word in it a couple of times.

I am proud of my book. I believe that it is written to a good standard, but what I can’t be sure of until the reviews start coming in is whether the story will capture the reader’s imagination. The risk is that the book will be launched in January 2015, not to a fanfare of endorsements but to a deluge of mediocre reviews.

I guess I have just got to put it out there and see what happens.

If you would be interested in receiving an advance reader copy of the book in exchange for writing a review (with no obligation for the review to be anything other than honest), I would love to hear from you. Either DM me via @benadamsauthor on twitter or leave your email address as a comment (I won’t publish the comment but will see it).

Feel free to comment on any other aspect of this blog post too.

Ben

Google: my new BFF

six months to get a life02 street sign‘Six months to get a life’ is coming along nicely. I am still working my way through the manuscript, fine-tuning it ready for submission to the proof-readers by the end of the month. The aim now is to publish early in 2015. I can’t wait.

It occurred to me today that I should add in an ‘author’s note’ or ‘acknowledgements’ page of some sort.

If I was being brutally honest, my author’s note would say something like:

“This book has been made possible in no small part thanks to the efforts of Mr and Mrs Google. Their dedication to the project has been nothing short of immense. They have never let me down whenever I have called upon them. They are true professionals. Oh, and can I thank my children and my editor too.”

Of course I use a million other meticulous research methods to ensure that the facts in my book are unfailingly accurate. Without a doubt though, I have used google the most.

I thought it would be fun to list a few of my searches.

Women’s dress types (I am a bloke after all!!)

Different approaches to marriage guidance

The medical term for the heel bone

Boxer shorts v briefs

Ridiculous job titles

Festivals in Weymouth, UK, in June

Small live music venues, London, 1968

Correcting errors on a birth certificate

The difference between compliment and complement (I should have listened more in English lessons)

Workplace jargon

Sexually transmitted diseases (I was glad I had no first-hand knowledge of this topic)

Typical book word length (I was anxious to avoid a ‘War and Peace’ scenario)

It would be great to hear some of the more bizarre google searches you have undertaken.

And, google, as I have sung your praises here, in return can you please put my book as the first search result people see whenever they search for anything to do with divorce, relationships, family life, comedy, sex and contemporary fiction for the entire month of January please.

Ben

And my editor said…

I love my editor. I have never met her and she may already be married but make no bones about it, I love her.

I sent my first book, ‘six months to get a life’ off to her a few weeks ago. I have been a nervous wreck ever since.

By the time the book came back, my nails were shorter, my hair greyer and my blood pressure higher.

But the wait was worth it. She likes it! She thinks it’s funny and that it could be a commercial success.

Of course she didn’t just say that everything about it was perfect. In fact she has provided lots of really constructive suggestions that I will now be enthusiastically working on over the summer.

In particular, she has challenged me to develop the characters more. Particularly for those of you that are writing your first book at the moment, I thought I would share some of her comments.

At specific points in the text she has posed questions like:

“Does he think Julia fancies him?”

“Is it OK by Graham? Does he mind being told he isn’t great in bed?”

“Shouldn’t Graham acknowledge that he’s being a bit of a dickhead?”

“Could you use this as an opportunity to show us what’s going on in Sean’s head?”

“More of a reaction/comment here from Graham, please.”

“Pretty twattish response from Graham – we should see her anger.”

“Wouldn’t Graham think about sex more? Wouldn’t he want to know about Dave & Helen? Has he slept with Amy? Does he want to? Does he think he will?”

“So what’s he like? Describe him. Can we see Graham being bitchy/jealous/competitive.”

“Does Graham fancy ‘short skirt Sarah’? He’s single again – he’d be considering the idea, wouldn’t he? Space here for him to think about whether he’s attracted to her/feels attractive himself/is he ready for anything new/what’s his self-image/how confident does he feel? Etc. Try to do it via physical details, eg might he check to see if he’s got a beer belly/does it show/should he go to the gym later.”

My editor also said a couple of things that I would love your views on.

“Really? I don’t believe a parent of teenagers wouldn’t have heard of au pairs.” What do you think? Have most parents of teenagers heard of au pairs?

“Coffee? Teenagers don’t drink coffee.” Is she right here? Are my kids odd?!

And whilst she liked a lot of the funny lines in the book, she didn’t think this one worked. Do you?
“I actually took my ring off on Christmas day and chucked it under a sofa in my family home in disgust at being bought a ‘beard care set’ for Christmas. I haven’t even got a beard.”

Book cover – which do you prefer?

Choosing a book cover is so important. As a reader I will shy away from tacky-looking covers or covers that suggest to my subconscious that the book is a bit too girly or paranormal or whatever for my tastes. A glance is all it takes to put me off a book.

The trouble is, a cover that might put me off might at the same time attract others to at least read the book’s blurb.

I have just received the attached two cover designs for my first book, ‘Six Months to Get a Life’. I would love to know what you think of them.

six months to get a life02 street sign

six months to get a life03-02 fat bloke cover

I wait with baited breath!
Ben