Monday, 26 June 2017

Self-Publishing Stigma vs Inspiring Author Entrepreneurs


There are two main podcasts I listen to when I'm doing chores.

An inspirational and info-packed podcast with over 300 interviews with successful author entrepreneurs. It's been so influential I felt compelled to include host, Joanna Penn, in my acknowledgements for The Hen Party even though I've never met her.

Friendly host Paul Teague interviews self-published authors at different stages of their writing journeys  and also updates listeners on his own personal journey. A lot of what I hear really resonates with me.  

Yesterday my hero, Joanna Penn, tweeted a post I'd written for the Alliance of Independent Authors on Why I Swapped the Traditional Dream to Self-Publish. Half of me felt chuffed, the other half a little apprehensive that I had been outed as having self-published. Not long after the tweet, Paul Teague, host of my other favourite podcast said he had been meaning to write to me to see if I wanted to be on his show. Again, very pleased, and also slightly anxious.

The truth is I'm a hybrid author who is open to and has been published both traditionally and independently. Deciding to self-publish The Hen Party was not a second choice, as I point out in the article; it was a case of wanting to feel empowered.

The word entrepreneur has a lot of positive connotations. An entrepreneur sounds like someone who is driven, creative, has get-up and go. 


Unfortunately self-publishing entrepreneurs aren't always met with the same admiration in the writing world!

Self-publishing still has a lot of stigma - and I get why. People want the credibility of a big publisher. They assume if a big publisher didn't print it, then it can't be good. In reality, a traditional publisher might like the book but may not have space for it on their list. They may well have a similar author writing in the same genre. 

I didn't wait until the very end to find out if a publisher wanted my book. It takes months and months for replies and the first so-called 'rave rejections' convinced me the novel was good enough for public consumption. They went like this:  

Rejection 1: Emily’s novel is so much fun and full of heart. Kate in particular stood out as an interesting and well-rounded character and I think the author does a terrific job of moving the story along at just the right pace and making sure all the different storylines don’t become too confused.'

Reason: Bad timing. Publisher already has three writers in similar genre.

Rejection 2: 'I really liked the writing and I think Emily is definitely a very interesting author with bags of potential.' 

Reason: Not sure about theme. Reality TV isn't as popular as before.

Rejection 3:'I really, really enjoyed reading it. It’s just so much fun! And Emily’s voice is fab – light but shrewd, I absolutely raced through this.'

Reason: not sure about Kate (see first rejection reason - if anything, it proves how subjective it all is.)

The book took me over a year with two massive edits so I wasn't going to just discard it because three people liked it but weren't sure they'd be able to sell it. I didn't just hit publish once I'd made up my mind. It was important to me that it would be produced with the same care as a traditionally published book.

Next, it went through a professional editor. After that, a proof reader. Self-publishing can sound like: I wrote a book, my mummy liked it, so I printed it out! But though this might be the case for some people, it certainly isn't my take on independent publishing. 

For me, it's about being proactive about your career, treating it like a business and taking the wishful thinking out of it.  It's about taking creative control of your project, getting fair royalties and being able to adjust prices and book covers if at first it doesn't succeed. 

Perhaps knowing The Hen Party has been produced independently will put you off buying it, but I hope not. If it helps, I've been published traditionally three times, and if anything my writing should be getting better. Personally, I'm proud of the book and thrilled with the reviews starting to come in. I've been told it's my best book yet... but I'll let you be the judge of that!    





Friday, 23 June 2017

San Juan - the day health and safety inspectors cry themselves to sleep


One of the best things about Spain is the way they've maintained so many traditions and the huge quantities of festivities there are. You could spend a year hopping from one town to another chasing fiestas if you wanted to. Perhaps I should do that and write a book about it - except I'm a bit of a lightweight and I can't cope with two late nights in a row.

By late, I mean reaaaaally late. You've got to calculate the time as if it were the time plus three hours. So if you get home at 3am, that's really only like getting home at midnight in Spain.


Today is San Juan, which means tonight we'll be celebrating La Nit de Foc - the night of fire. Tonight is the night safe and healthy officers give each other a look as if to say 'why do we even bother?

In Palma, it will start in front of the cathedral with ominous drum beats that will set your pulse racing. Then devils will appear wielding tridents with spinning fireworks at the end of them. Sparks will fly, smoke will fill your nostril, the bang of firecrackers will ripple through your body and you will retreat screaming. You will then probably creep forward again, because it's so mesmerising you won't be able to stay away.


After an hour of all hell breaking loose, the devils will depart... to rejoin their families probably for a barbeque and a beer. Everyone will head down to the beaches and prance around flaming bonfires. There will be no supervision and no massive barriers in front of the fires like there is in public displays for Guy Fawkes in the UK.

There are rituals - like scribbling your deepest wish on a piece of paper and throwing it into the fire so that it comes true. Or jumping over it three times. In reality, the most common ritual is drinking too much, swimming in the dark and making a mess of Mallorca's beaches. I'm intending to go equipped with black bags and be a conscientious San Juan party goer!

So there you have it. If you happen to be in Mallorca tonight - or Spain in general: Do not be afraid. It is not the apocalypse - it's only San Juan. 

I'm seriously thinking about including some mad fiestas in my next novel... 





Thursday, 22 June 2017

Goats or Boats - choosing a Mediterranean dream!


Prices for property in Mallorca are sky rocketing and we've been thinking it might be a good idea to look for somewhere to buy before it's too late. Yesterday we saw an old block with a huge perk. Direct access to the sea via a ladder from a concrete platform. Pretty special, right? Don't get too excited. The second bedroom was too small to swing a cat; too small for a comfortable visit. 

It had a great terrace though. You could grow a tomato plant in it. Not big enough for chickens. Certainly no goats. There are a lot of wild goats in Mallorca. We went on an excursion in our inflatable dingy and saw some walking along the cliffs. It was the highlight of my week.

Every time we set off in our little boat I marvel at how different my life is from what it was a few years ago living in the big city of London. We lower our little anchor, jump into the water for a snorkel, and then dry off in the sunshine, bobbing gently until I feel a bit seasick and we have to go back.

Before I moved toMallorca I was sure I'd choose mountains over sea every time. That's because my summer holidays in the pre-pyrenees in Catalonia were blissfully happy ones. I imagined we might look for a rustic stone-walled finca in the countryside.


Instead we got lucky with a beautiful flat with low rent in a lovely residential area outside Palma. If we could buy a place in our current neighbourhood, we would; unfortunately it's too expensive. 

Having spent two years just walking distance from the sea, I feel its immense value. An ever-changing and always uplifting view, relief from the stifling heat. Plus, we've got our boat now and need to make the most of it.

Back to those goats. There's nothing like seeing wild animals. No doubt we'd see lots  if we chose to take that apartment we saw yesterday because it's not all that far from Magaluf. It gets me thinking. Access to the sea is great, but is it still great if it's in a tourist bubble? If it's in a place which doesn't even resemble Spain any more?

I used to be a massive fan of the programme A Place in the Sun. I remember how the guests ummed and aahed over the compromises they would have to make. In my next book there's a retired couple who come to the island after a dream. Trouble is, they start to realise it's not the same dream.

A place in the sun? Well, I've got the sun bit. Now it's about working out what's the best place to enjoy it... on the budget we have!





Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Mallorca: the sensationally dark side


People often ask writers: Where do you get your ideas from?

Up until now, they've just arisen from daily life. A conversation with someone; an observation that has instigated a series of What if's in my head. After reading the latest copy of EuroWeekly News, I realise I've been missing a trick. The amount of outrageous stories in it are enough for at least three novels a week.

-Sordid Orgy Scandal Erupts: Two top politicians found to have had drug-fuelled orgies with the so-called Godfather of Mallorca

- Caught Red-handed: Two men caught suspected of encouraging Brits to make false food claims.  Mallorca hotels have paid out an estimated 50 million already on fraudulent claims, with a 700% rise in Brits doing the conning

Then there's drunk driving, domestic violence, an attempted kidnap of a baby, disappointed football fans throwing eggs at their team's bus, an inflatable plastic protest against the rise of pollution and of course LOTS AND LOTS AND LOTS OF MISBEHAVING DRUNK TOURISTS:

-Stark naked Brits go jogging
-Scottish and British football fans filmed exchanging blows, chanting and covered in blood
-Budget Mile High Club: Couple filmed having sex on a Ryanair flight

Charming! 

It gets worse:

Neo-Nazi thugs invade a bar

Then there's the idiotic:

Women caught stoned in hospital with 46,000 in her purse believed to be cash stolen in a previous raid.

How can you be so stupid?

The only light relief is a mention of a Spanish fiesta where men dressed as devils leap over a line of babies.  Not much relief if you're one of the babies though!

There I was thinking I'd moved to Paradise. By page two of EWN I'm wondering if I've been blind all this time.

On the upside: Lots of potential novels! 

My new novel The Hen Party is also set in Mallorca and does have some misbehaving characters in it. However compared to what I've just read, it's quite tame! 

It's for anyone after a fun, fast-paced book for the summer which won't leave you feeling depressed and in need of another holiday by the time you reach the last page. I can't say the same for this week's EWN. Although I should feel optimistic, if I keep reading I'm sure to have some entertaining plots sorted soon... Plus I love doing the crossword! 






Thursday, 8 June 2017

Sun, Sea and Missing Hens - The Hen Party is out now!

If I haven't blogged recently it's because I've had my hands tied behind my back in a bid to stop me typing before the right time! That and I've got a new job with abcMallorca magazine. But more about that another time. Today is all about THE HEN PARTY.

And the general election in the UK. Oops. Could I have chosen a worse day?

Never mind! I can't resist sharing the news any longer. The Hen Party ebook is OUT NOW in the digital wild. Proceed without caution. Be a big spender. Toss those three pounds at it like you've just discovered them in an old jacket you haven't worn in ages.

I say pounds, but the ebook is available all around the world - $9.99 Reales in Brazil - $49.99 pesos in Mexico - 129 Rupees in India! £2.99 sounds cheap now, doesn't it?!   

The paperback will follow shortly and I will update as soon as it comes out! Best place to find me is on my Facebook Author Page.   

I really, really hope you enjoy the book. If you do and you have a spare minute, reviews are SO helpful as they raise the profile of the book and mean other people see it too.

Thank you for accompanying on the writing journey this far and THANK YOU so much to everyone who buys a copy of my book! 

                                      BUY THE HEN PARTY!


I might calm down in a minute, but I can't promise. 


The Hen Party Blurb

Film Director, Kate Miller, is in serious trouble.  The entire cast and crew of the reality TV show The Hen Party has gone missing while filming in Mallorca.

To make matters worse, the network boss has just flown in and will be arriving any minute to check up on her production.

Kate thinks it's all her fault. She hasn't exactly been following the guidelines.

But if she is to blame, why were the hens arguing between themselves? And why is the groom-to-be calling her up in tears?

Kate doesn't know the half of it. The hens have their own secrets and it's only matter of time before they all come tumbling out.   

A party of eight arrive on the island, but not everyone's going home.


If you are a reviewer would like to get in touch about a review copy, contact me directly: emily@emilybenet.com. 



Friday, 12 May 2017

Cover Reveal: THE HEN PARTY

Here it is, at last! I present to you, the cover of my new novel THE HEN PARTY. I said on facebook that I would reveal it at dawn and I'm sure somewhere dawn is breaking... 




THE BLURB 

Film Director, Kate Miller, is in serious trouble.  The entire cast and crew of the reality TV show The Hen Party has gone missing while filming in Mallorca. 


To make matters worse, the network boss has just flown in and will be arriving any minute to check up on her production.

Kate thinks it's all her fault. She hasn't exactly been following the guidelines.

But if she is to blame, why were the hens arguing among themselves? And why is the groom-to-be calling her in tears?

Kate doesn't know the half of it. The hens have their own secrets and it's only matter of time before they all come tumbling out.   

A party of eight arrive on the island, but not everyone's going home.


THE PART WHERE I INTERVIEW MYSELF ABOUT 
THE HEN PARTY 

Why did you decide to write a book about a Hen Party?

I love books which follow multiple characters and I thought a Hen Party would provide me with a fun and dynamic cast of characters to work with. My all time favourite novel is Big, Little Lies by the brilliant Liane Moriarty, and it made me want to write a book which bit by bit unravels a mystery and isn't told in chronological order.

Why did you set it in Mallorca?

Because I've come to know it very well and couldn't resit. It's perfect for the plot. It's got beautiful beaches and countryside, plus not far from the hens' villa is the notorious party town, Magaluf. I think The Hen Party would make a good beach read so hopefully I'll see people reading The Hen Party on a Mallorcan beach this summer!

What can readers expect?

It's a fun romp with twists and turns, personal trials and tests of friendship. It's not your typical romantic comedy, but I think there's enough romance in it to keep the romantics among you smiling!


Out this Summer 2017




Let me know when The Hen Party is available to buy! 

Friday, 28 April 2017

Fancy a Social Media Workshop for Writers in Mallorca?

Since moving to Mallorca I've been a bit in the shadows. Not literally but literary-ly.

In London, I attended literary festivals and writing events. I was a regular speaker and ran my own blogging and social media workshops for writers and other creatives.

I gave it all up when I moved, choosing to dedicate my time to fiction and journalism. But recently I've started to wonder about doing workshops again, here.   

On Tuesday I went to the 5th anniversary of a local book shop, Universal Bookshop. I was invited by the very welcoming and enthusiastic owner, Kay Halley, who called the event An Audience with Authors.  

Anna Nicholas launching A Chorus of Cockerels
last year at Universal Bookshop
It was really great to meet other writers and catch up with Anna Nicholas, who has written a series of books about life on the island. We'd talked about setting up writing workshops months ago over lunch but hadn't progressed further than scribbles on a page.

The idea of running social media workshops reared its head again, as I talked to other writers. One author was impressed that I had a traditional publisher.

"Ah, you're lucky," she said. "They do all the marketing for you."

This is definitely a common misconception. Perhaps once upon a time, authors were expected to just write the books and leave the marketing to the publishers. But gone is that time, if it did really exist. 

Whether traditionally published or self-published, writers must promote their books if they want to sell more than a couple of copies to family members.

"Tell me about blogging," she said, when I told her that in fact, that wasn't the case.  

Where to start? If only I had a couple of hours and my slides with me. I really should do a workshop, I thought.

"Do a workshop!" another writer urged, as I tried to impart everything I'd ever learned and she scribbled furiously into her notebok.

Giving advice to lovely Laura Provost,
who has written a children's book!
It struck me that there might be a good handful of writers and creatives out there who might be interested in a workshop about setting up an online presence and growing their audience.

SO:

If you are interested in workshops on social media and marketing for creatives, based in Mallorca, don't hesitate to get in touch at emily@emilybenet.com 

Alternatively sign up to my newsletter, where I'll post related news:

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Wednesday, 12 April 2017

On Not Believing Everything You Read (Or: Finding Out You Were A Call Girl!)

You'll never guess what I've just found out. 

Before I tell you, I want you to know the source is bona fide.  I did an internet search and it popped up in Google. Not only that, the information was in a book. 

Not just an e-book either. I'm talking paperback. A proper published paperback. Judging by the reviews, it's probably sold quite a few thousand copies too. Basically, it can't be wrong.

Here goes the news:

"In England, Salt Publishing offered Emily Benet, who originally wrote under the name Belle du Jour,  a contract for her blog, Shop Girl Blog, about a twenty-eight year old call girl's sexual exploits. Shop Girl Diaries won a Guardian award, and rumors have it she landed a six-figure deal" - Extract from How to Blog a Book

Here it is:





To be fair, now that I read it again, it doesn't sound quite right.

A couple of things are off. The paragraph is completely accurate except for these teeny, weeny details:

1. I've never written under the name Belle Du Jour
2. I've never been a Call Girl
3. I've never written about my sexual exploits
3. I was not 28 years old when I wrote my blog
4. Shop Girl Diaries didn't win a Guardian Award 
5. I did not land a 6-figure* deal (A friend wondered if they meant I'd been paid with a Russian Doll. Another,  @Grays85 made the point that £0100.00 was still 6-figures) 

Apart from those minor details, the info was totally correct. The author even spelt my name right. Usually people can't resist doubling those 'n' and 't's.

Jokes aside, this is a good lesson on not believing everything you read!

The Author has since emailed me and is feeling very sorry. The information is going to be corrected. It's not much consolation to all the people who have come to my blog over the years looking for sizzling, sexy entries though, is it?

That's why I've decided to show you a bit of leg...



Enjoy.


For more thrills like this, you can read my book Shop Girl Diaries. Not much sex in it. No sex actually. But if you buy it, it will help me towards that six-figure deal I didn't get! 

Thanks for reading! 


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Friday, 24 March 2017

Lifestyle Change: Experiences, not things!

Spring is in the air in Mallorca. The sun has been shining solidly for weeks and everywhere you look, flowers are in bloom. 

The bravest have been swimming in the sea. As for me, I put my foot in the water last weekend, felt the approach of frostbite and aborted the mission at once.

As the days grow longer and the weather warms, my husband and I agree that the season of Netflix is over and we must get out more. 

Inspired by Eventbrite's message of EXPERIENCES, NOT THINGS! I had a think about what I wanted to be DOING more of this year. 

After all having great stuff is good, but having great experiences is even better! Of course some stuff leads to great experiences, which brings me to number 1 on my list:

1. NAVIGATE A DINGHY - a quick wander around the prestigious Port Adriano confirms my suspicions that I'll need to write more than a few books before I can purchase a yacht. Even a crappy little one costs as much as a one bedroom flat and that doesn't include the mooring.

To be honest, the accumulated wealth in the ports make me feel slightly nauseous. However I love the sea and as we gave up our London life for an outdoor island lifestyle, it makes sense to invest in some sort of inflatable apparatus to take advantage of it. Therefore, for 150 euros (not 150,000€) very soon we might well be boat owners!

2. GO ON ADVENTURES OF THE IMAGINATION - just because we will soon be boat owners, doesn't mean we have cash flowing out of our ears! Fortunately there are exciting adventures to be had for the cost of a book. 

I recently popped to India with The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (I came across it in the local charity shop and thought, why not?) and have made several surprise trips with Joanne Harris's short story collection Jigs & Reels. When there's no money to go anywhere, pick up a book! 

3. LEARN STUFF! - I may no longer live in a thriving metropolis with thousands of courses taking place every evening, but that's no excuse not to keep learning. Having the internet means you can educate yourself from wherever you are in all sorts of things. 

For a few weeks I studied German on a free DuoLingo app. Mallorca has a huge German population and, as a writer, it's annoying not to be able to eavesdrop on conversations. Since using my app, I still haven't got a clue what anyone is saying, but I am starting to recognise individual words!

I realise that an educational app doesn't count as GOING OUT, but that's because I haven't got to the course I really want to do this year, which is of course *drum roll* MYCOLOGY. 

Yes, mushrooms. I want to learn about wild mushrooms, specifically what mushrooms will poison me and which will make a delicious meal. Now if that course doesn't get me up the mossy mountain, I don't know what will!

4. EAT AT FOOD FAIRS - Someone once said they wished breakfast, lunch and dinner was a pill so they could get on with their day. I am not that person. I am the person who is prepared to do a Mycology course to find out about mushrooms to then hike up a hill to spend an hour finding five mushrooms to then cook them... because aaaah, how delicious life is.

When the woman at the supermarket gives me a slice of Manchego cheese to try, and it turns out it's the best Manchego cheese I've ever eaten, actual happy tears well up in my eyes... So this year I want to go to lots of different food fairs that this island has to offer - olive oil, oranges, almonds, mushrooms.... mmmm

5. VISIT ALL THOSE COLD COUNTRIES - when we lived in London, the last thing I wanted to do was go on holiday to somewhere else with miserable weather. Now we have reliable sunshine, I suddenly have an urge to visit Iceland. I imagine being in a hot natural spring surrounded by snow-capped volcanoes. However, Iceland will have to wait. Our next stop is Berlin! 

I've never been to Germany so I'm very curious - apparently people eat white sausage and beer for breakfast... I'll find out and let you know how it goes!  

So there you have it - my top experiences planned for 2017 - boating (ha), reading, learning, eating and travelling! 

Oh, and if you want to share your experience, be it a course, talk, food fair, boating day out, eventbrite has free management software to set it up. I used to use it for my social media workshops and it worked really well!

And you? What experiences are you looking forward to this year? 

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Wednesday, 15 March 2017

No alcohol? Whatever you say Dr Google!


After reading my last blog, I think a few readers think I have a drinking problem! But just because I've downloaded a motivational Sober Time app on my phone doesn't mean I'm an alcoholic. I also have a period tracker app but no period - hahaha sob.

That's partly the reason why I've stopped drinking completely. Dr Google says alcohol could affect your cycle even if you drink within the limits. It increases levels of estrogen and testosterone apparently. I don't really know what any of this means but I'm going through a phase of doing whatever Dr Google suggests.

Dr Google: Drink parsley tea! 

Dr Google: Try ginger tea first thing in the morning!

Dr Google: herbsbherbsherbsherbsherbs


I googled the nearest herb shop and headed straight over. The woman sold me some evil tasting mixture for €12 and told me it would sort me out.  

Dr Google: Do exercise  (But not too much)

I went running a few times.

Dr Google: Give up alcohol

Giving up alcohol is the only thing I've done which has had any affect on my body. I've started getting mild headaches!

Could it possibly be withdrawals? It seems a little extreme to me. I used to drink a couple of beers or wine in the week, perhaps share a bottle on the weekend. I haven't had so much as a droplet of wine for almost two weeks

The positive affects of giving up alcohol have been the following:

1) I'm waking up earlier and getting out of bed more easily. I've been able to stick to a routine of yoga, meditation and morning pages every day. I even found myself eagerly performing this ritual on a Sunday morning at 8.30am.

2) I haven't experienced any anxiety... although it might be too early to say I won't in the future!

3) I'm feeling more clear headed and assertive. Assertive about my writing career, specifically.  

I've suddenly realised that it's time to take control.

Simply put, if my book doesn't land a traditional publisher in the next month, I shouldn't delay any longer. I will set about doing it myself. Properly of course. With an editor and book cover designer and the whole shebang.

I woke up at 4am this morning, wide awake, my head buzzing with ideas. I've been following self-publishing podcasts for years and have learnt so much. I know it's not an easy option, but I don't want to depend on other people for my success, so if needs be, I'll muster the money and double my efforts

It might not come to that. But if it does, I'll be ready for the challenge, and  if I keep this up, with a very clear head to boot.



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