22 November 2013

Guest Post by Alexander Kreator ~ Traditional and Self Publisher Authors Meet

I met Eifion Jenkins at the Tenby Arts Festival book fair in September 2013 and knew a conversation with him might prove a sparkly discussion.  On my unexpected visit to Tenby again last week we met over lunch.

The meeting was a first for me with a real ’proper’ author. Someone who has climbed higher up ahead by being tested in the heat and fire of agents and publishers, experienced rejection and finally acceptance and has been paid for his book and publishing.

Eifion has spent a lifetime with words in business and pleasure and has published factual books as well as his first long fiction book - If you fall I will catch you. He informed me he started this book after coming out of the dark of a cinema into the light some 30 years ago. Since meeting Eifion in September I read his book and in an echo of an editor’s comment about my writing I found the book “enjoyable and unusual” with a satisfying ending.


Then me, a figures mechanic all my life involved in the world of building and funding with my only experience of writing fiction all those business planning reports and projections. I started writing after a bad dream in June 2010 with a target of writing a million words, so I know I am an old beginner eager to learn before the grim reaper arrives. One perspective as a new writer and a reader is scepticism of the huge literary production machine between me and my potential readers.

We at least share the wish to concentrate on our creative writing as a start. Up to our meeting I had not realised how much space one appears to have as a proper writer once a publisher has taken on all those nitty gritty things to do with preparation for printing, distribution and a share of marketing.

Perhaps, as Eifion suggested, I have become too deeply involved in the detail of self publishing blinded by my wish to learn by doing and have control or know in depth the detail of all the processes, because after all it is MY book. When working freelance I stopped working for clients I advised who decided not to take my professional advice or did the opposite of what I recommended. I fear in many ways in self publishing I have done just that and can only laugh at my double standards.

Looking back on my work career I know life continues to change. The days when one trained and one’s professional word was accepted are now long gone. It is hardly a surprise with designers producing houses which leak and when users and those who pay are dissatisfied today with many professional and personal services. My self publisher said to me some things in the printing process which used to cost tens of pounds now can be done for a few pence with new technology.

Eifion’s view of my cover on Ywnwab! - Autumn Story-book did not come as a surprise “Something which looks like a holiday brochure of the 1970s because you have not used current technology to the full.” My self publisher’s adverse comment is unprintable, but then he would have liked my book to be printed in Times New Roman font. The only comfort I have is most other readers who have purchased and or read my book have praised the simple clean cover design, fonts and layout. My cover is not something run up in an instant, but the result of three years looking at other people’s efforts and twenty years involvement in the rough and tumble of an “eye balls” environment. I dislike most of the neat and tidy wispy picture and text designs of the thousands of new books on Waterstone’s sales tables. I did accept Eifion’s useful comment about technology and another about the need for the text extract to be in larger type. If I were to do it again it would also be cut to 10 to 15 words.

Eifion also offers editorial services and at least we agreed editors should not change your book into their book. I have found the real value from editors and readers who are prepared to be provocative about my writing is the potential improvement triggered by thinking about what they say and taking their advice.

We did try to put the world to right in other areas, talked about e books, genre pigeon holing, the power of Amazon and book writing and publishing in Wales. Overall a useful two hour discussion to be resumed I hope next year when I come to Tenby again.

In a change of view I think I may also at least try the traditional route when I have a long fiction book to offer and also look at a co operative for marketing e books.

 Alexander Kreator aka Douglas Burcham of the Allrighters


Read more and subscribe for email updates on www.allrighters.co.uk

Eifion Jenkins 

Eifion Jenkins is a freelance writer and journalist living in West Wales. He has a passion for ancient stones and myths, as well as outer space. Those fascinations are reflected in his first novel If You Fall I Will Catch You published in 2008. He was also commissioned to write a short story to mark the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights in December of that year.His previous published and performed works include a stage play, stories for radio, short stories and poetry. He is the author of a social history of South Wales in the 20th century, Through the Decades. He is a member of Academi, the national literature promotion agency and society of writers in Wales. More current work, including ebooks, can be seen at his website eifionjenkins.com 


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