Monday, April 29, 2013

There Is No Panacea

by Daniel Kemp

The struggles of an aspiring author are widely known, it is a tough, uncompromising industry to break into. You have to get used to rejection, and constantly strive to improve your own work in order to reach an extremely high level of perfection. Many on this journey experience dramatic highs and lows with some giving up because of this and the loneliness of it all.

It does not have to be that way anymore.

Before the digital age, a writer’s only entrance into publication, and the readership they sought, was through the old and trusted method offered by traditional publishing houses, who had a shared monopoly of the market. That’s all changed, and dramatically so.

Nowadays many options are available.

That old way is still there of course but it has adapted to the modern world and the competition that self-publishing and print on demand, having moved on and developed to such an extent, as now to be challenging its position. The days of colossal advances are over. There are few now between a derisory amount, and the astronomical figures that hit the headline press. It is a dream of course to be offered a rich sum of money and thereby, be able to indulge in the love of crafting stories for the rest of one’s life.

    The reality for the vast majority is that; it is only a dream.

The insult that was thrown at those who wanted to be read, but were not willing play the game of waiting to be selected, of being vain, has now vanished from the uneven playing field, and is only mentioned as a way of defense, from those threatened by the rise in popularity of eBooks and Amazon as the way into publication.

By now you may have gathered that I’m self-published, and I paid to be. I had written a novel that found an agent, but never enticed a traditional publisher to invest their money into its publication. Here is the first lesson to be learned by those waiting for that knock on their door. Writing and publishing are different.

Writing is a love. Publishing is a business.

You may have written the most grammatically correct, literary masterpiece in the history of the printed word, but if it won’t sell, don’t wait for that knock on the door. It won’t come.

I was sixty-two, at the time of first venturing into telling stories by writing them down. I had no academic qualifications, no literary profile but I was blessed with impatience and a business mind. I use ‘blessed’ intentionally. How many people do you know who say, “I’ll write a bestseller one day,” but find excuses not to try? Write the story and get it out there was my goal.

That agent of mine suggested that I write another novel and then publish it myself. I wrote that other book, The Desolate Garden, and decided that was the best and only route for me. I’m now extremely pleased that I did.

I was completely computer illiterate at that time. I didn't even know how to paste and copy. That’s the truth. I preferred to pay someone else to take the strain out of learning how to upload onto kindle direct and sort out delivery of physical books to Amazon and bookshops. These things you, as an unpublished writer, can do for yourself. I simply didn't want to.

The publisher I went with did all this and more. One of things that came in my ‘package’ was the services of a book selling agent. Again, you can arrange this yourself. The bookseller opened doors for me by using his huge network of contacts in major bookshops, and I opened them further. Persistence is your only weapon.

As I've said above, all what I paid for can be done by yourself, but, and here comes a crunch. It takes time. A huge amount.

Let’s say you decide to wait for that lucrative traditional deal. Who does the promotional work in marketing your work? If you believe that your publisher will do it all, think again. The average spend, in promotion by a traditional publisher, on a new writer is less than £350.00 (pounds) per year. That figure includes their time. Either way  in getting your work out and read, will involve you in the marketing.

Not all cases, but in many, a traditional house will want the ownership of your work. In self-publishing you own your work. I was paid £1,000.00 (pounds) for a twelve month film option on mine.

The filming is costing $30,000,000. When the filming starts I get $300,000, with no-one sharing that money. I doubt that would have been the case if I had a traditional deal, one reason being is that I arranged that deal, and not someone else.

This incidentally I believe, was the beginning of the end for me and my literary agent. He believed, and suggested, that I had a moral obligation to give him a cut. We are no longer together.

I have a good understanding with my publisher, with whom I now have that traditional deal, in so much as I will not pay to be published again. He has done a webpage for me, arranged publicity on a national level, and has helped in supporting all my own efforts. One reason was because I was so active in the initial marketing of my work.

If you do everything yourself, you will be on your own completely.

Everything necessary in getting your book read can be done by you. The first step of course is to write that story, a daunting task in itself, but it’s the easiest of the whole process, and pit falls, that lie in wait. Investigate all avenues carefully, paying particular attention to those claiming to offer their services in one way or another. Editors being just one.

Look into all things to do with advertising. Many want to charge you for this, and before you consider paying for that, ask how it is of benefit.

If I can offer one piece of advice it would be this; Believe in yourself. Don’t ask why someone doesn't help you, instead praise yourself for all your own endeavors.
I have a silly saying: To try is a worthy thing. To wait a wasteful thing. Those who try stand to fall, while those who wait gain nothing at all……….Just a thought.

Bio for Daniel Kemp:

A former London Police Officer. Once arrested for attempted murder in England, and being found not-guilty, Danny Kemp decided that a career in writing was for him.

No different than Nicholas Sparks, Mr. Kemp's first novel The Desolate Garden was picked up in a snap, and published in March 2012.

The novel is available on forty-one internet sites worldwide and either in, or by order from, all major bookshops in the United Kingdom, including Waterstones ~ the largest book retailer in the UK ~for whom he recently finished a sixteen week signing tour.  Waterstones has likened Kemp's witting to that of Graham Greene. 

Having been compared to The 39 Steps, The Constant Gardener and North By North-West, The Desolate Garden is being converted into a film by a  London Film Production Company. A ‘set’ is being constructed in The Arab United Emirates.

Outside the field of "run-ins with the law”, Kemp draws on decades of experience, encompassing the Metropolitan Police, the tenancy of three English Public Houses, and the Licensed Taxi Trade in London, as well as being a radio voice-over artist in several radio plays, where he honed his sense of story and pacing.

He lives with his beloved wife in London, England, and is rather proud of his two step-children and four grandchildren.

You can find out more about author Daniel Kemp and his writing here: 

Friday, April 26, 2013

The "Cracked" Vessel

Two years ago I placed a raffle ticket in a huge bowl full of tickets as a chance to win a free iPad at a writing conference. Part of the proceeds of the raffle tickets were going to support fellow author, Brenda Novak's special diabetes charity. I had no idea what one would do with an iPad and had never wished for one, but the money was going to a good cause.
That year I had been honored by being allowed to introduce Romantic Suspense Author, Brenda Novak. I began by saying "I have a confession to make. I am an addict." Those who know me can imagine the hushed shock silencing the room. (grin) Then I said, "I'm addicted to Brenda Novak novels and I have to wait until November for my next fix!" Laugher erupted.
I have long been a fan of Brenda's books. She creates larger than life characters, placing them in suspenseful situations that seem impossible to escape. But love and good triumph at the end. She is not a Christian author, but I am an eclectic reader.
However, I digress. Back to the iPad. That drawing was the last of the day. know what I'm going to say. My name was drawn and read. I brought the iPad home and showed hubby, but I couldn't tell him how I would use it. I had no clue. Soon, though, I had it up and running and began to understand how powerful it could be. I downloaded an app which allowed me to write on it and sync with my computer later.
While hubby was going through pulmonary exercise therapy two days a week for three hours each day, I took my iPad and sat in the cantine at the VA Clinic and wrote. Those days I wrote a lot of words! I loved the iPad. So much so that it nearly became an obsession. Not good.
We can so easily get caught up in idolizing something worldly which pulls us away from the one true God. One day, about a month after receiving the iPad, I was preparing to walk down the stairs to my office when it suddenly fell straight down to the ceramic tile floor--glass side down. One corner shattered. I thought it had been destroyed.
The iPad still works, but a crack runs diagonally across the screen. I put a protective clear shield over the screen to help protect it.

Now when I look at my iPad I can see the imperfection, but despite the appearance it gives me the same benefits. One thing has changed. I no longer "idolize" it. I believe the fall was orchestrated to get my attention. My iPad is a tool God provided for me to share His love with the world through my words. Just like me, my iPad is imperfect. I have multiple cracks and through my journey in this world, I will receive many more scars. Yet I am beautiful in His eyes.
2 Corinthians 12:9 But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. (NIV)



Friday, April 12, 2013


Please bear with me today. This is not my typical kind of devotion, but this is heavy on my heart..

Our baby, Wilbur, was adopted on August 1, 2003. He will be ten years old this year.
He is a docile peacemaker between his brother Templeton and his sister Charlotte. During a routine yearly visit to the veterinarian two weeks ago, the doctor noticed a tumor about the size of rather large pea next to the first toe on his left paw.

We scheduled him in to have the tumor removed, but after much discussion, we decided we didn’t want to have the tumor sent off and analyzed. If it was malignant, we didn’t want to know.

Today was the day of his surgery. The doctor called during the operation to let me know the tumor was very invasive and had spread into his toe. I had only a couple of minutes to decide whether to have the toe removed or just have her take as much of the tumor as possible. There were no guarantees that if she did take the toe, the tumor wouldn’t recur, nor that it hadn’t already invaded lymph nodes.

Crying, and heart breaking, I struggled to give a “right” answer. She said we should send the tumor to have it analyzed so we’d know what we were dealing with. If it was malignant, we were probably looking at some expensive treatments with no guarantee, but we would know how to move forward.

I asked about his recovery with the toe removed and she said he would have to learn how to balance without the toe, but it wouldn’t be too bad.

How does one make such decisions without being able to think about it? When the heart is breaking and the mind is struggling to process the possibilities?

Finally, I said to just take as much of the tumor as possible.

Wilbur came through the surgery fine and is waking up. He will stay at the vet’s office overnight and she’ll call me in the morning. I asked (after the operation was completed) if they could just go ahead and remove the toe. I didn’t want to think about part of that tumor remaining. However, back to back surgery is very risky.

I just want to bring Wilbur home, pray for the best, and let him live his life as normally and as full of love as ever. This is in God’s hands. Anyone reading this, I humbly ask that you pray for my beloved Wilbur. I know God loves all His creation. I know He is sad at my tears and pain.

Genesis 2:24-25  Then God said, "Let the earth produce every sort of animal, each producing offspring of the same kind--livestock, small animals that scurry along the ground, and wild animals." And that is what happened. God made all sorts of wild animals, livestock, and small animals, each able to produce offspring of the same kind. And God saw that it was good.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Balanced Life

© Sandy Matzen | Dreamstime Stock Photos
Lately I've been like the man who fell off the boat in the picture to the left. Flailing in the water, making excuses for having my priorities out of balance.

I'm a writer, but my writing time seems to have been sucked into a vortex and swept into a white water current.

My to-do list is so dynamic it doesn't exist. Schedules? Seemingly impossible to set and keep.

I'm totally off balance.

When I have free time, I bury myself in meaningless things to escape from life. My energy is not channeled in a positive direction. I'm self-destructing. My body and mind are exhausted, my strength is weakening, my health is deteriorating.

Ever felt that way?

When my scales are tipped like this, I know Satan is standing in my presence. He invades with his favorite weapons: confusion and doubt. I'm like Peter, who after he stepped out of the boat and took his eyes off Jesus began to sink. How that must have hurt Jesus, to see his beloved apostle's lack of faith.

Thankfully, Jesus understands and holds out His hand to lift me up, despite my faith having faltered. The sad thing? I didn't realize my eyes had shifted away from His, if only for a brief moment. But Satan was watching and he tied a concrete block to my ankle to pull me down.

Ever hear the word "theocentric?" It means God-centered. A truly balanced life needs to be theocentric. I'm letting God become the center of my universe and give Satan the boot (or sandal).

Life is a balancing act. But we can sail on calm seas with Jesus as the mast of our boats.

2 Corinthians 4:7-9 "We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed."

Praise God from Whom all blessings flow!!!

Now if you'll excuse me, I have a novel to write.