So, here's the thing! I just had a 2* review stating that one of my books contained 'poor grammar and sloppy editing'! I mean, who says things like that to an author with an ego as thin as tissue paper? I'm devastated, jaw-droppingly broken beyond repair - now I know how Humpty-Dumpty felt. Oh, it's not the first time such barbs have been thrown in my direction, but usually I comfort myself with the overwhelming messages of support. However, the cries for me to get an editor are a growing concern. Like most authors, I like to think I've given readers my best work, and when they say it's shoddy, and the mistakes detract from the reading experience... Well, one has to sit up and take notice - Is that a cliche? I hate cliches.
Traditionally published authors have the proofreading, editing, etc thrown in as part of the publishing deal. However, independent authors must pay for it themselves, and this is where the nub resides. Proofreading usually costs in the region of between £500 - £1,000 per 80,000-word book, and editing between £600 - £1,200. Now, we'll do a little math here: I have 14 novels, and if I had sent each one of them to a proofreader (let's ignore editing services - you can do the math yerselves for them) it would have cost me in the region of £10,500 (@ £750/book). Now, don't forget, I have to spend this money up front before I start raking in the trillion of £'s.
So, of course, I had this £10,500 lying around in a drawer just waiting for me to give it to a proofreader. Okay, so the book's ready, no mistakes - it's been proofread and cost me £750, so there'd better not be - but there are! (I kill the proofreader and get life imprisonment for murder!) Anyway, I upload my book and put an extortionate price on it of 75p (86p with VAT). Some simple math again: £750 divided by 0.75p = 1,000. I would have to sell 1,000 books before I actually started making any money on my magnus opus. Now, you're thinking, put a higher price on it! Yeah, I could do that, then no one would buy it, because in comparison to the other books it's too damned pricey - and don't forget - I'm not traditionally published therefore not a 'real author', so people expect to get indie books real cheap.
I'm getting bitter and twisted writing this, Toady! I mean, a reader pays 75p for an 80,000-word book, enjoys the story, but there are a few errors - we won't even talk about the errors in trad-pubbed books, which have been edited and proofread into the bargain - and then they say nasty things like, 'the sloppy editing spoiled my reading experience, I won't buy any more of this author's books!' I'm gutted. I mean, I spent 4 months writing a damned good novel, I then self-edited and self proofread because I object to paying £750+ (even if I had it) in the hope that I'm going to get it back in the distant future. All I can say is, I'll miss your 75p. If you're not magnanimous enough to think: 'Hey, that was a really good story. There were a few typos, the lady in black changed to the lady in red half way through, one of the characters got up and walked away after you'd killed him, and a few threads were left dangling - but can't wait for the sequel BTW', then really, your 75p would just turn my two other 75p's putrid and disgusting, so it's probably mutually agreeable that you don't buy any more of my books... Well, not if you don't want to anyway... Care for a cup of tea, Sir/Madam? A nice cream scone? Some strawberries...? Stop grovelling, Toady!
Not only that, I have people chewing their fingernails to the elbows waiting for the next installment of my roller-coaster of a series - How long does proofreading take? A couple of days, weeks, months? Now, I'm not saying proofreaders or editors wouldn't be a desirable addition to my writer's toolbox (Do writers have toolboxes? Maybe we're talking about a metaphorical toolbox! Or, it could be a spiritual or philosophical toolbox! I remember, when I left school, my second job (let's not talk about the first job) was building ambulances at Herbert Lomas & Sons on Wilmslow Road in Handforth - I was an Apprentice Vehicle Bodybuilder. I only mention this because I built myself a toolbox, and I fell in love with a girl who worked in the administration with blonde hair and freckles called Joyce. You're thinking, not another girl! Yeah, as I said in a previous blog, I was a serial faller-in-lover. So yeah, it'd be the bees knees to have an editor, coz then I could say things like, 'My editor just called...' or 'I've sent the MS to my editor...' People think you're a real writer when you have your own editor... All I've got is a red pen!
Many people (and I'm extremely humbled and grateful to those people) have been thrilled with my stories and have obviously forgiven the minor transgressions in terms of grammar, punctuation, and editing - I wonder if people say 'editing' when they really mean 'proofreading'? Anyway, don't think it doesn't concern me, but I'm not paying £750 per book for a professional to proofread my magnus opi (is opi the plural of opus? No, I don't know either! Except, could it be that a magnus opus will always be in the singular?) That's one thing about blogs, you can get away with murder! Maybe I should be writing my books as blogs, and then no one would care about the sloppy editing. But saying that - have you seen some of the lousy reviews free books get? I mean, what's that about? Have people got no morals? All this hassle! Retirement is meant to be quiet and peaceful isn't it? Maybe I should try knitting, or cross stitch - I'd probably need an editor then to check my 'one purl, two purl, over, up and unders' - Yeah - like writing - you've probably noticed that I know nothing about knitting either! Although, did I ever tell you about when my mum...
So, here's the thing! Hordes of fans, well a few anyway, have said how they'd like to see the Parish & Richards books adapted for television - I agree! Well, I would wouldn't I, but no... I'm being serious. I mean, what's on the TV worth watching these days? Bugger all is my answer - excuse um moi! Ha, ha, you didn't know I could speak French, did you? Anyway, A Touch of Frost came to an end, and that was brilliant. Dalziel & Pascoe came to end, and that was just as brilliant. What have we got left? Oh, there's been some other adaptations.
Mark Billingham's Thorne is quite good. David Morrissey does a reasonable job as DI Tom Thorne, but for the life of me I can't recall any of the other characters, which is not good. You've probably guessed I'm a character man, I love creating characters, and that's what a lot of the reviews say - "Parish & Richards are wonderful characters, and they want to hug the Chief..." Then there's The Body Farm - not good. Now, Waking the Dead was brilliant - why? Because Trevor Eve and Sue Johnston were brilliant. In The Body Farm, Tara Fitzgerald and her bunch of weirdos have no personalities - they're one-dimensional. Silent Witness was also very good, but I quite fancied Emilia Fox who plays Nikki Alexander. I'll do some more, but I'll let you into a little secret now - Of course, there has to be a good storyline, but unless there are some three-dimensional engaging characters, it's generally no good because people want to root for or hate your characters.
Stephen Tompskinson also does a good job with Peter Robinson's DCI Alan Banks, and I also like Andrea Lowe as DS Annie Cabot (but I think I might have a bit of crush on her!) The Killing (Danish version) was also fantastic, but the ending was rubbish - again the characters were suberb. Sofie Grabol as Inspector Sarah Lund was really excellent - sacrificing everything to get to the truth. Her partner, Jan Meyer was very good as well. Also, there's a 2nd series due to be aired on BBC4 on 19th November - only nine days to go - Excellent!
Now, you'll note that I've only been discussing British TV crime series - Well, that's because I live in Britain, Toady! But hey, I'm not a complete anglophile - I've just ordered the complete Prison Break (series 1 - 4 including the Final Break) just in case there absolutely nothing on over Christmas, which is probably a dead certainty!
Now, let's continue on, Toady. Taggart - getting a bit dated, and without Mark McManus it was never the same. Sherlock Holmes - I'm afraid I still like the Black & White ones with Basil Rathbone and Nigel Hawthorne (I know, call me a dinosaur!) I definitely don't like that weird-looking Cumberpatch doll! Midsomer Murders - dear me! Morse with John Thaw and Kevin Whately was brilliant. The spin-off Lewis isn't bad, but without Thaw, well it's just not the same is it. Agatha Christie's Poirot with David Suchet is also excellent, but again a bit dated. New Tricks and Foyle's War I've never fancied. Luther was very good, but I began to lose sympathy with the character. The Wire in the Blood with Robson Green and Hermoine Norris was fabulous, as was Rebus with Ken Stott, and Spiral - the French series, Rose & Maloney with Sarah Lancashire and Phil Davies (I particularly like Phil Davies - I think he's a superb actor, and was excellent in this series). Linda LaPlant's Prime Suspect with Helen Mirren was brilliant. In the past, there was Cracker with Robbie Coltrane, which was wonderful. There are some I've not mentioned, which are okay, such as George Gently and Criminal Minds.
So, the common thread running through each of the TV crime series that are successful is a strong lead character(s), and strong supporting characters as well. In the Parish & Richards series we've got Jed Parish, Mary Richards, Ray Kowalski, Chief Day, Doc Michelin, and Paul Toadstone. I know there are others, but let's focus on Parish and Richards to start with. Who do you think should play these two?
Now, I've looked at some male UK actors, but none make me think of Jed Parish. I think I'd have better luck trying find someone to play Mary Richards. So, I don't want to colour your judgement, who do you think should play these two? Now, that's not necessarily a redundant question, because I'm teaching myself scriptwriting with a view to writing a Parish & Richards script for TV - How hard can it be? Anyway, I'll keep you in the loop, but books and scripts to write Toady, so toodle-pip for now!
So, here's the thing! I've just published the 4th Parish and Richards novel - The Shadow of Death. I know, it's a bit scary. Why is it scary you ask? Well, although it's my 16th book, you wonder if the reader will like the story, the plot, the characters, the descriptions, and well... I'm sure you get my drift? And when I say "You" I do, of course, mean Toady! I don't care, I say 'publish and be damned', but Toady always worries. As soon as I upload the tome to Amazon he begins to have panic attacks. I have to keep a stock of brown paper bags (you know the ones, the small ones with dinky little handles from Primark), soothing phrases like 'pull yourself together wimp', and marzipan chocolate bars - you don't want to know about those!
Anyway, you'd think it was a pleasant experience, but with Toady nothing is ever simples. I mean, I'm moving on with my life - you know, catching up with my emails, saying 'Hi' to people I've ignored for 4 months, reading stuff that has come through the letterbox and been added to the pile, filling in forms, ringing the bank and pleading with them to reinstate my dedit card, and a million other pathetic things that create stress and never-ending aggravation - In fact, I said to the wife only yesterday, 'Get to the nub. What do you actually do?' So, she says, "Assess whether parents are fit to look after their children!" She's a Social Worker by the way. Yes, I know, they're like the worst kind of effluent in society, but somebody has to keep our children safe from the deranged people who have them. Hey, if the cap fits...
Where was I? Oh yes, Initial Assessment! So, I said: 'What prevents you assessing and reporting on that assessment?', which is what she's paid to do?' Here are some of the things she told me: Hot desking - when she gets in she has to find a desk to sit at; the docking station at the desk she sits at won't work with her laptop - she has to find a computer tech' to sort it out - by the time she actually gets on the computer it's bloody midday - It's a good job I don't work where she works because I'd have to kill someone (or everyone); a million emails from jobsworths; forms that run to pages and pages, which repeat information on other forms attached... Anyway, what I'm saying is: 'What do you actually do?' I write, anything else is an obstacle to be overcome. Things don't get done in my house until I've finished writing my novels. We could all say, but... 'life gets in the way!' Yeah, that's what Toady says. Sometimes, Toady makes me want to strangle him with a wet nappy!
Oh yeah, Toady! Well, as I said, I'm moving on with my life, but that crazy frog is checking to see if anyone has emailed to say how much they loved the book, checking the KDP sales every... 17.5 seconds, checking the book's position in the charts, checking to see if anyone has left a 5* review... Toady drives me to distraction with his checking!
Anyway, the book's out there, at the mercy of readers, waiting for the thumb's up, or the thumb's down. And you know what? I'm trying not to write. WHAT? I hear you mutter. Well, as I said, I've got all these admin' tasks to do, but I created a character called Celia Rowe for the next Parish & Richards book - His Wrath is Come. She's a Haitian and practises voodou, and... Well take a read, you'll get the idea. Characters are like members of the family, and you can hardly move in my house with the number of characters that are vying for my attention. So, this Celie wants me to write about her - Pah! She should be so lucky!
And while we're talking about members of the family - I had five shitzhus until Monday evening, but now I've got four! I know, Mim was 10 year's old, but had tumours in her ear, so the wife and I agreed that it was time to let her go. Not an easy decision, but the right one. We had 10 years of fun and love with her, and she gave us three puppies, which we've still got, so it's not all bad. I've only ever cried twice in 40 years - both times when we lost dogs! Right, Toady and me have got to go now, but... oops, forgot to finish it off... but what? Well, I suppose we'll be back... Didn't someone say that once? Have a good one!
Hi, I'm Tim Ellis - I write a lot and I hope you enjoy what I write.