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postage free

This morning I've been researching bookshops online, and websites selling books, just to see what works.

On the first website I came to, the inevitable happened - I found a book that I wanted to buy - it was Bridget Jones Mad about The Boy - now I've been waiting to buy this book in paperback as the hardback is such a big book, and I really just prefer paperbacks. My wait is over - it's published in paperback today!!

So I added it to the basket, it said postage free at the top of the page, so there was no down side - I set off to checkout... where I was told I'd have to spend another £6 to get my free postage - to say I felt mislead would be an understatement.

I didn't buy the book on this occasion, so I suppose I had a fruitful morning - managing to do research without actually buying a book (though I do need that book soon...), but it did show me the effect misleading information has a customer. All my books on my website are postage free as I feel that adding postage is what kills internet sales, I did however have a postage fee on my little knitted sheep, which I have now removed, so the price you see is the price you pay.

What's that, you haven't heard about my sheep...? They're in my bookshop, go and round some up...

1st edition 1st print run limited print run

So here's the thing...

I've got some pretty special books - first edition first print run  - and what's more it's a short print run of just 100 books, each hand numbered and signed.

And why should you buy one? Am  I famous? - well no, not yet, but with my drive and stubbornness anything is possible, and wouldn't you just kick yourself if you'd missed this opportunity...?

But the real reason to buy my new book Outnumbered by Cats is that you're going to love this true story, it's all there - possibly a bit too much at times - is it normal to hiss back at your cat when she hisses at you in the middle of the night for telling her kitten off...?  ...she was certainly surprised.

Oh and did I mention the photos? You're going to love the photos...

Book signings and the randomness of craft fairs

Every so often I venture out from behind my computer screen, out into the world....

Book signings in bookshops are good because people are already there looking for books, but you can't beat the randomness of a craft fair...

I'm usually the last to arrive at these events, because I know I can set up in less than 10 minutes. It's become like a well oiled machine - the tablecloth, the book stands, the books of course - some on stands and some laid flat on the table. Most people like to pick up the ones from the table rather than the stands, who know why... maybe they don't want to risk upsetting the stands. But really not much upsets the stands, they're a tough lot, my display team, valiantly holding up books for hours on end  with never a complaint... (oops, letting my visual imagination run away with me again).

The newest addition to the display is a little flock of sheep, that go with my bestseller But I'm Not Sleepy. I have fairy lights and bookmarks, and the sometimes forgotten notice that says I'm a local author doing a book signing - strangely that's the thing that mot people don't notice... 

Although the characters of my latest book Outnumbered by Cats, try to stow away in the boxes as I pack them, I don't think half a dozen cats running round a craft fair would be very practical, especially as the occasional dog comes in...

The other traders are usually a friendly bunch, which helps the day go by, through the quiet times. And there's nothing like eating a sandwich to bring out the customers, it's as if they just wait for you to fill your mouth with food to come over and ask a question, so lunch can take a while to eat. My record for longest lasting sandwich was a couple of hours - if only I could remember the filling for that magic sandwich that brought the customers flooding in...

And there's nothing more random than the customers...

  • There's the obvious book lovers, who spot the books from the other side of the room and come over with that glint in their eye. 
  • There's the ones who look totally uninterested, but get drawn in and often buy one. 
  • There's the collectors who buy a signed book to put away and see if it becomes valuable - while quite possibly missing the true value of a book, which needs to be read to be revealed... 
  • Best of all is when a book is bought for a small child and placed in their hands to hold and enjoy. Books are precious, but not the sort of precious to be placed on a shelf like fine china. The sort of precious to hold, to read, and to look at the pictures, and to get a little shabby like a favorite teddy...
  • Lastly there's the difficult ones, who'll pick fault with everything, but stay to talk anyway, they've no intention of buying, and the books are probably shying away from them in terror in case they get picked... (oops that imagination again...) 
Craft fairs can be fun, and a great way of meeting customers and getting your book out there. 

Cats and boxes - it's a cat thing

...because cats love to be the centre of attention

The marketing team - making marketing fun

I've decided that I need some help to shift my stock of books - so I've brought in a marketing team.

They've agreed to work for commission of food, toys and cuddles... with a possible bonus of a new 'kittie corner' if they do really well...



Unique selling point and marketing hats...

So I'm supposed to be wearing my marketing hat - so what can I say... I need to tell you about my book's unique selling point (USP) well apart from the unique story, a behind the scenes view of living with kittens - and the 82 colour photos, this is a small print run of just 100 books, all of which will be numbered and signed. 

So for a first first - first edition, first print run it's pretty exclusive, and the first box is going down fast...

Making a mess

How is it that when I do a book signing at a fair, I'm usually the last to arrive, but never the last to finish setting up. I'm organised and ready to talk to passing people and sign books.

Why then, did signing and packing books on my kitchen table become a scene of total chaos? By the time I fetched my assortment of padded envelopes to actually pack the books, there was nowhere left to put them but the floor, where a passing cat wondered whether to walk on them or stay and destroy them - luckily he chose not to destroy them, he probably saw that I had already surpassed him in messing the place up...

Finally the books were in envelopes, all containing a card with a message on (hopefully all to the same people as the outer envelope was addressed to...) and all that remained was to clear the table.

It occured to me as I packed away, that this was the worst and the best part of working from a kitchen table:
Worst because I have to clear everything away at the end of the day.
 Best because I have to clear everything away at the end of the day, and so, have a clear table to start a new mess everyday.

Sending new books out

I've just had a busy morning packing Outnumbered by Cats books to send out into the world, they're headed for various parts of the UK and Canada. The first box of books is going down nicely...

Self publishing, and why I'm not trudging around the bookshops with my books

My new books are here and ready for sale, so why am I not out there trying to get my books into the bookshops?

Well it's a case of been there, done that, and taken the losses when the bookshops go out of business, and it's not just the small shops, it's the big boys too. Why do bookshops expect to  take their stock on sale or return? I don't order a print run on sale or return, I buy in what I'm confident of selling.

So my position is, I'm happy to sell to bookshops, or supply to them through distributors, but I'n not pushing my books on sale or return anymore.

So my books will be selling from my website and book signings. I'll sign  books for that personal touch, and I'll hand number all copies of my first print run of Outnumbered by Cats, as it's a short print run of just 100 books.

Why such a short print run? Because it's been quite an expensive project to do, it's got colour inserts containing 82 colour photos, and that was after some hard editing down. But the good news is that if you're quick it's at a launch price of just £7.99!

New book now on sale exclusively from my bookshop

Finally it's done - The story that emerged from the kitten diaries, written as kittens climbed on me and chewed the edges of my note books...

It's bursting with 82 colour photos - yes I managed to edit them down to 82!

They're currently only available from me - because I've got them all! It's a small print run of 100 books, which will all be hand numbered - how exclusive is that...?

It's currently exclusive to my website bookshop, but it's available to any bookshop who wants to stock it.

The art of being busy. Looking busy v being busy and productive...

This afternoon, right this minute I look very busy - I'm typing away at the laptop with notes and a pencil case next to me: I don't even have a cat climbing on me (well not right now anyway). And yet I don't feel like I'm being busy in a productive way...

Why is it that I am actually being more productive when I appear to be doing nothing? ...sat with my feet up proofreading, with a cat asleep at my feet - you see even he thought I was having a nap, and came to join me...

Book signing near York - time to get the knitting needles out...

I've got a book signing at the weekend - time to get the knitting needles out...

That's right, that's what I said - knitting needles - you see I just like to make things hard for myself.

Not only do I write, illustrate and self publish my books - by the end of 2013 I was looking for a gimmick to add to my table at fairs. My imagination went around in a few circles and came up with the idea of knitting sheep - the characters from my bestseller But I'm Not Sleepy. The sheep caught the imagination of young and young at heart - who wouldn't want to take home a knitted sheep after all?

I have been toying with a design for a knitted cat to link with Basil and the Flappy Thing, but so far I've only produced a knitted head which is bigger than life size,  so I'm not sure where I'm going with that one...

I've heard of an author who takes his cat to book signings, and his cat sits happily on the table next to him, but I can't see that working our for me. I think there would be a riot, especially as there will be birds of prey at the same fair as my forthcoming book signing.

My life - one long learning curve...

Exciting times... my new book Outnumbered by Cats is now listed on amazon, if only as 'unavailable' and not 'pre-order' which a mainstream publisher would have enjoyed - but hay I'm not put off, I know my book will soon be available in my own online bookshop and at book signings. And in case you're wondering, it'll be available on amazon too - if the unavailable or 2 - 4 week label doesn't put you off...

Meanwhile I'm rummaging around and trying to remember how to customise my new blog and fill it with pictures and links... if I did this sort of thing more often I'm sure it would be easy, but I do tend to spend much of my time either lost in a book or getting distracted by my cats...



Cat flap season has started...

It seems that the cat flap season has started... we've already had a rat and a mouse brought in - the rat was discarded on the floor and should probably have made me jump, but I think I''m just getting used to such things now... The mouse was obviously more prized, and I had to have a chase around the house after Captain, who really wanted it for himself.

And there was me thinking that a cat flap would make life easier...  

Random thoughts about characters and where they come from

Characters - where do they come from?
Sheep - what is it about sheep that makes them so appealing in story books?

When I started writing But I'm Not Sleepy I can't remember having sheep in mind at all, I simply wanted to write a bedtime story. Then the idea of not being able to get to sleep started to take over my thoughts, and most of the plot of the story unraveled itself in a swimming pool, as I swam up and down doing some lunchtime lane swimming...  I never count lengths, I simply swim up and down and let my mind drift where it will...

The sheep soon became very real, and it was the obvious progression for a sheepdog to turn up in Lucy's bedroom. Then the sheep became quite rebellious and decided that they were tired of being rounded up...

This is a clear case of characters popping up in a story and making it their own. Next came the cardboard pop-up sheep on my table at book signings, which attracted people's attention - it seems sheep are very popular. Before long I found myself knitting sheep, and I used to say I'd never make characters to merchandise my books - never say never! The knitted sheep went down very well at Christmas fairs, and earned their place at the fairs: form the little tot who said "Baa", persuading her parents that they must buy a sheep, and then ended up buying the book too, to the lady who bought one for herself for her crib scene.   

I even have a spin off book planned which is sheep based - is it any wonder my nearest and dearest are now thinking of me when they see anything sheep related, and sending me all sorts of links to funny sheep stuff...

When fiction comes true... on the ski slopes

I'm pleased to see that sales of A Face Full of Snow have picked up again, I don't know whether it's the winter Olympics that's spurred on the interest in skiing, or just the time of year - it is after all still the ski season out there, even  if it doesn't seem much like it in York as the sun burns its way through the last of the morning mist... I just hope Iver No-Idea and his dog HB don't escape and pop out of a mobile phone on a ski slope and disrupt someone's holiday, like they did Eric's. 

Of course the chances of them popping up on a phone on a ski slope are now quite high - when I first wrote the story, it was aimed at a printed book, but now that it's an ebook too it could very easily pop up on a mobile phone on a ski slope - strange how fiction can sometimes come true...

 So if you get A Face Full of Snow on your mobile - watch out that they stay in there, and don't jump out and course havoc...

Struggling with my promotions hat... which seems to have shrunk...!

Struggling with my promotions hat... which seems to have shrunk...!

It's been two weeks now since I zapped my files off to the printers, and since then I've been trying to be creative in a different direction, namely I've been blogging and putting posts on facebook and generally trying to squeeze my head back into my promotional hat... but it doesn't quite fit, much like a pair of jeans freshly washed - and shrunk!

This is the time when a mainstream author would have a backup team (who presumably all wear their promotions hats every day, and are comfortable in them...). But as a self publisher I feel a bit on my own - even my cats seem to have deserted me in favour of cat baskets and beds about the house.

My mind is now getting distracted by thoughts of designing a new promotions hat... one that will not shrink while I'm busy wearing my author hat or editing hat. It needs to be a design that will inspire out-of-the-box thinking, possibly something flamboyant, but without being big and flappy, it's quite gusty outside today...

Maybe I should take inspiration from Aline's hat in A Face Full of Snow - the one that Eric thought was a alien on her head... It has eyes on stalks, and looks as if it could see round corners to search out new ideas...

World Book Day and the incident of the missing chicken...

It's World Book Day today - sounds like an excuse to curl up and read a book to me...

If I could just stop the characters of my new book trying to give me enough content for the next one, all in the same week...

Captain has finally settled on the chair next to me after bringing a mouse in twice through the cat flap. I usually take mice off them if they bring them in, but he wasn't in any mood to give it up, so he had to take it back outside. Then he finally came and knocked on the kitchen door to be let in - he often knocks, when he can't be bothered to open the cat flap.

At the weekend we had the disappearing frozen chicken incident - when I came home to find an empty bowl in the kitchen sink where a frozen chicken used to be... it didn't take long to find it, it seemed to have been making its own way to the table, as it was on the floor next to the dining table, but I think this was more likely to be Tabby related than a chicken doing its own thing.

My chief suspect is Bumble, who may well have just been annoyed that the chicken was occupying his sink, where he likes to sit. Or it could have been Kryten getting his own back on me for taking his dead bird off him earlier in the week... Whoever it was, it was quite impressive that a cat could lift a frozen chicken out of a sink, and I expect it landed with quite a bang, which probably explains why Steve was a bit spooked...

All in all, I think I would have been more annoyed if they had made off with a cooked chicken, and I would also have been looking for something else for dinner, as it was there were no teeth marks, just a slightly ripped bag.

Cat flaps... never a dull moment.

Cat flaps... what does your cat think?

Have you ever thought about the cat flap from your cat's point of view?

On first viewing they must think we've gone completely mad - making a hole in a perfectly good door, and then flapping it and calling through it, before inevitably giving in and opening the big door...

But what happens when your cat realises the full implications of this new addition to their freedom...? Not only can they come and go as they please, but they can also bring in all sorts of wildlife that they might have been collecting along the way. The cat flap may not have made my life any easier, but it has provided the inspiration for a book: Basil and the Flappy Thing

You could win a copy Basil and the Flappy Thing by sharing your thoughts on what Basil, or your cat might be saying to the idea of being called through a flappy thing in the door.


Win a signed book


For a chance to win a copy of Basil and the Flappy Thing:
Pop over to Lost in a Book's facebook page and write in  'comments'  what you think your cat would say to you as you hold the cat flap open and call them in. Then click share.

If you haven't got a cat, or a cat flap, then imagine what you think Basil might be saying to Mr Feed-Me...

I'll post the most entertaining comments on my blog and website, and the best one wins a signed copy of Basil and the Flappy Thing

I will be judging the comments and my decision is final.
The competition closes on Friday 7th March 2014 at 9pm GMT
Competition now closed.

If a picture tells a thousand words, then the word count on this one is huge!

The book files are now at the printers, getting magically turned from digital files to a shiny new book. So what's happening during this waiting time...?

Well I've been phoned up and offered a table at a Christmas fair - so I now have my first event booked for Christmas 2014!

I've managed to finish a book I was reading, and buy another in the series... plus another that just took my fancy... so I suppose you could say I've been book shopping.

...and next I need to do all the paper work involved in the actual publishing of a book - namely register the ISBN of the new book, so that it will be out there for all to see...

And what about the publicity?

The experts say that a book should be advertised long in advance of it coming out, but what can be more annoying than hearing about a book long before you can get your hands on it; and at that point I didn't know some of the crucial details - such as how many pictures it was going to have, final word count and number of pages...  In the end there are a lot of colour photos - so if photos of kittens is your thing you're going to love this one, and if a picture tells a thousand words, then the word count is huge!!

New book finished and zapped to the printers :)

I may be a week later than everyone else, but I've got that just broken up feeling. And why am I feeling this way...? Well I've finally finished my latest book, and zapped it off to the printers! It's a great feeling to finally finish a project - next I'll get to see my proof copy in all its glory - now that will put a big smile on my face... :)

Meanwhile, other good news this week included another sale of A Face Full of Snow on kindle - well it is ski season, and with the winter Olympics ongoing, it's a very topical book to read. I think  the athletes all have better trained skis than Eric (or me for that matter...)

Nobody ever said that writing a book was easy...

It seems that everything possible has got in my way, to stop me ever finishing this book, even, or perhaps especially the characters themselves. But in truth, when the technical side of editing, formatting and publishing gets on top of me, it's the characters - namely my cats who keep me sane - who could resist a cat meowing at the door to go out and play... 

And so I'm finally done - although at the last hurdle I've had my email hacked and am now locked out of my account - but did I let it sabotage my day...? No, I've pushed on and done the finishing touches, and if email still lets me down tomorrow I'll deliver the files on a disk to the printers...

Nobody ever said that writing a book was easy...

I think my brain works better on words than numbers...

I now have my print quote, and number mashing has given me a headache - I think my brain runs better on words than numbers, a bit like putting the wrong fuel in you car...

As a self publisher I need to decide how many books to have printed, the bigger the print run the cheaper per book they are to print, but the figures soon add up, and this one was never going to be a cheap book to produce with all the colour photos that I just couldn't leave out. So I'm thinking I might do a limited edition on this one, and then future editions will have fewer photos... we'll see.

Meanwhile, I got distracted as I tend to do and baked some gingerbread moose...

Beating writer's block

Every time I try to write something positive and useful about writers block, it seems to waken up and come at me like a demon who hadn't noticed that I was happily writing away, until I called its name and drew its attention my way...

So maybe today will be different and I'll manage to write some useful tips down before it notices... so here goes:

How to avoid writers block:


  • Try not to think about writers block - just get on with it.
  • Think about what you're going to write before you sit down at a blank screen or piece of paper.
  • Allow yourself time to daydream - it's actually very productive and lets your imagination wander about and come up with things you didn't even know you had in your head.
  • Don't be too worried about the first sentence, you can always go back and change it later, in fact you probably will, but at least you will have made a start.
  • Let your imagination run wild without a care for what anyone else might think of what you've written - right now you're the only one who can see it, and you might just surprise yourself with what an unrestricted imagination in an come up with...
  • If writer's block does strike, go and do something else: go for a walk, or a swim - I often come up with ideas in a swimming pool: or just sit in the sun and let your mind wander - you'll free your mind and sneak up on new ideas.
  • Write something else - it's more productive than sitting staring at a blank screen, and come back to it later.
  • Read something.
  • Try writing with music playing. Music is a powerful thing and can change your mood in an instant.
  • Visualise writer's block as a monster that you will either ignore or beat - but you will not allow it to beat you!

Printing

My home printer is chugging away in the corner, and where am I...? I'm perched on the edge of an old computer chair because my recuperating cat (came off badly after a fight, but is healing well now) is curled up in the big comfortable chair... well, I'm not hanging around long so it doesn't seem worth disturbing him from his nap. If I stayed too long in the comfy chair I might just join him and have a nap myself.


Anyway - the printer is chugging away at my draft copy of my new book. It's one of those projects that seems to get further away from completion the more I get done, but I'm sure I'm nearly there now. 

Cat books

It's been hard, but I've finally edited the photos down to a more manageable number, though I've been getting very distracted along the way - and what about the photos that didn't make the book...? Well some of them will be cropping up in my blog, so keep checking in...


Meanwhile why not check out Basil and the Flappy Thing, and see what all the fuss is about - it might just put you off buying a cat flap...

So many cute photos...

So, work is continuing on the book, though it sometimes doesn't feel like work, looking through cute kitten and cat photos. It is very distracting, not only do I have the kitten photos on the screen in front of me, but also the real life grown up cats roaming around and climbing on me. Captain likes to climb on my shoulders and tries to settle himself there, he was trying to climb in my hood again this week, though he's really too big for that now.


While I was looking through the video clips of Mitzi and her kittens one day, Mitzi came and sat on my knee, and was listening and watching intently as her young offspring squirmed about making their little squealy pre-meowing noises. I think she was quite sad when they escaped their box...

Colour kitten photos

I've been building my book on the laptop, sorting through photos and editing them into a book. 


My initial idea of turning the photos into black and white illustrations was all going well, and I was inserting the pics into the text... until I had my eureka  moment - why dull down cute kitten photos into black and white when I could have them printed in colour on insert pages like a a mini photo album within the book...


Cat blog

Meet Mitzi



They say you should never work with children or animals, well what if your animal has children...?

Well the result was large chunks of time when I didn't manage to get to a computer, let alone do the ongoing blog that I intended, but sometimes you just have to go with the flow, enjoy the moment and write about it later... 

What I did have time for was to write kitten diaries - it's easier to write with pen and paper when kittens are climbing all over you, than it is to try to type. And from these kitten diaries - which have paw prints and chewed edges, a book is emerging... 

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