So you want to crowdfund your book?

Don’t bother – you’ll just waste your time. Never gonna happen. Your book isn’t good enough. Go find some other way to publication and stop reading this.

 

Still here?

Good – you’ve passed the first test. As well as self-doubt, there will be people you’ll meet and articles you’ll read that will convince you this is a Bad Idea. Well guess what? Promising to go to the Moon within the 1960s was probably a Bad Idea. A vacuum cleaner without a bag? Don’t be silly. A personal mode of transport without four legs? Never catch on. You want it? Then go for it. F**k the doubters – it’s your dream.

Crowdfunding your book is not for the faint-hearted. There’s a lot to think about and do if you want to succeed. This post uses my experience of a long, hard, but ultimately successful campaign with book crowdfunding site Britain’s Next Bestseller (BNBS). I had to get 250 pre-orders to obtain a publishing deal; fail, and I would have got nothing. Read on to see if it’s for you…

 

So what do you need to crowdfund your book?

telegraph pole smallA book. Well, duh! But is it the sort of book you can get 250 people to buy without any reviews? Is it too niche? “Britney Spears Zombie Clone Games 2” may well appeal to a ready-and-waiting audience, but “Telegraph Poles in 20th Century Cornwall” might have a limited appeal. Also, is it actually any good? Don’t be blinkered – seek opinion from people who will be honest with you. If you get doubters, It doesn’t mean your book shouldn’t be published, but maybe crowdfunding isn’t the avenue for you.

Sample chapters. You’re asking people to take a leap of faith in buying something that may not be the finished article yet. They’ll want to see what kind of writing it is, so decide on and polish the sample chapters. Proof read them. Get others to proof read them. Make sure they’re the most interesting ones and won’t confuse the reader. If it’s comedy, use a chapter with gags you know others have liked. If it’s a horror, show something horrific. If it’s a thriller, pose the question. Get them hooked, leave them wanting more. Anything boring, confusing, with flowery descriptions or poor grammar is bound to get people reaching for the back button. My very first line of dialogue was:

“A penis?”

which did wonders to capture initial attention. (As a friend put it: “If in doubt, start with a nob gag!”)

A bio. People will want to know about you, your story, how you got here, what else you’ve done, why you’ve written the book. Look at others’ bios to see the style. Again, make it interesting, even if you think you aren’t!

A video trailer. You can go for something simple or something sophisticated, but make sure it sells your book. If you don’t have the skills, there are plenty of people you can hire for just a few quid who’ll put together something professional for you. (Mine’s here if you want to see what I cobbled together via iMovie on an iPad and a lot of work.)

A cover. Dont be fooled – people will instantly judge the book from its cover. Like it or not, if you have a bad cover there will be some people who won’t even look at what the book is about. On the flip side, if you have a great cover, you will attract some people purely on the basis that it looks good. Your cover will go everywhere – it’s your main gateway to your book. You’ll use it in Facebook posts, tweets, newspaper articles, emails and all promotional material. Don’t skimp on it. Don’t make it look like a crappy “I found some free images on the Internet, done a Photoshop merge and added a title in a big font” cover that you see some self published books have. Again, unless you have very good design skills, get someone else to do one for you. I’ve seen many awful covers out there and many good-looking but boring ones. Ask other authors who did their cover (I was lucky to have a cousin who’s a graphic designer). Be different. Be professional.

Andrew Males SmallAn author photo. There’s a good article here about author photos. I’ve also read that it’s good to use the same photo everywhere, for consistency in recognition. Choose your photo carefully and if you’re having problems then there’s always black and white and Photoshop to help you out. I chose one done in a pre-wedding shoot by a professional photographer, and despite my friends’ comments on me appearing to be Mr C&A Man in it, it was probably the best I could hope for, given the raw materials.

Potential supporters. Are you Mr Connected or Billy No Mates? Ultimately, crowdfunding is a numbers game. The more people you know, the more people you can reach, the more potential supporters you’ll have. If you’re a hermit who’s never worked and hasn’t talked to your family for years, you’ll have a harder job than someone who runs a keep fit class every Wednesday, is learning Spanish every Tuesday, has had 20 jobs and a family rivalling the Waltons. (However, you may have more spare time than her!) Make a spreadsheet of all the people you know who you could contact. Rank them in probability, from a definite buyer (you hope) to a long shot. You may be surprised how many people you know. Doing this exercise will at least give you an idea of the size of task that you face. Not got a big list? Don’t be daunted – if you do well with getting the message out, there’ll be plenty of randoms and connections from others that will get you there. Trust me – I had nowhere near 250 people and was amazed at the amount of extra people that I managed to connect to who ordered my book.

A good reputation. It doesn’t matter how many contacts you have if none of them are likely to buy your book. If you happen to be a complete and utter bastard, then people who know you probably won’t help. If on the other hand you are Mr Nice Guy, then I’m sure people will naturally be inclined to help.

A Plan. You wouldn’t climb Everest by just waking up one day, going to the mountaineering shop and picking up a thick coat, a couple of Sherpas and 5 bars of Kendal Mint Cake would you? No, and just like crowdfunding, you need a plan first.

The start. Don’t choose a start date that is too near – you may need time to do all of the above items, plus prepare some groundwork so that everyone is primed ready to order from day 1.

The end. The end of your campaign is likely to be the busiest. Don’t plan it so that the last week is the one little Timmy is performing nightly on stage in The Gruffalo and needs you there for every performance. Don’t let it coincide with a holiday or busy event – you need to prepare for what could be an intensive final furlong.

The length. Don’t make it too short – give yourself enough time to get the orders. Mine was 14 weeks and it soon flew by.

And simply don’t do a campaign when you’re about to do something major such as getting married, having a baby or going ahead with a gender reassignment – you’ll have enough on your plate. I became a dad for the first time last year just when I wanted to submit, but had to wait until I had the energy for something more complicated than breathing.

If you think uploading a rushed chapter or two, a few lines for a bio, a video trailer with one screen saying “Buy my book – it’s brill!” and a single generic email to everyone you know will cut it, then you’re mistaken. You need to work at it, and working at it means spending time.

Sure, someone will prove me wrong and upload a semi-constructed, goblin wizard erotic story with nothing but a dancing ogre in his underpants for a video, post it to an appropriate forum and watch the orders go through the roof, but that will be the exception. For the rest of us, it’ll take time and constant effort over several months.

(Note: If I’ve just described your book above, please send me the link to it.)

 

Is it really worth it?

If all this has put you off and you now think you’d rather self publish, I’d say don’t be so hasty. If it’s your dream to be published by someone else, then isn’t it worth the effort? How many hours have you spent writing the damn thing? How does anyone achieve great things without putting in a load of effort along the way? I see crowdfunding in the way I did it via BNBS to be a halfway house between traditional publishing and self publishing.

You’ll push yourself, learn so much and even have fun. Despite the number of hoops you have to jump through and the time it takes to do, it’s one hell of a ride. The thrill of seeing those orders come in the realisation that you’re going to make it is one of the best feelings you may ever have.

If it seems right for you, try it. It may just be the best thing you ever do…

 

Andrew Males successfully crowdfunded his first novel, 26 Miles to the Moon, which as a result is now available to pre-order on Amazon.co.uk here.

 

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Christmas giveaway – win a signed Ken Follett book!

I have a signed copy of Ken Follett’s new book to give away for free!

On 11th October, I met fellow (and slightly more successful) Stevenage author Ken Follett at a book signing for his latest novel, Edge of Eternity and he was kind enough to sign a copy for me.
And now I’m giving it away to one lucky person!
It’s hardcover, bought for £20, got 4.5 stars across 550 Amazon reviews and would make a great read over Christmas or even a great present for someone else. And at over 1000 pages, it would also make a great step for your vertically-challenged Great Aunt Flossy.

Edge of Eternity Edge of Eternity Sign

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So why are you doing this?

Because I’m a generous person! And yes, also because I’m hoping it’s a bribe to get some more pre-orders and/or some more exposure to my crowdfunding campaign for my own novel, 26 Miles to the Moon.

Cool! How do I win?
There are two ways to win this prize:

1. Pre-order 26 Miles to the Moon
For every pre-order of 26 Miles to the Moon between now and 18th December 2014, you will get 5 entries into the prize draw.

Pre-order at:

https://britainsnextbestseller.co.uk/index.php/book/index/26MilestotheMoon

2. Share the love
If between now and the 18th December 2014 you share my BNBS link on Facebook to at least all your friends, or tweet it on Twitter to all your followers, you will gain 1 entry into the prize draw.
To make it easy for you, here’s a Post and a Tweet you can just click on and then share/RT:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/26MilesToTheMoon/posts/382605801908717
Twitter: https://twitter.com/andrewdmales/status/542448675541106690

Or if you want to create your own message, then just use the link above.

How will you know I’ve done these?
Let me know! Obviously I’ll see the names of people who’ve stated them on my Sponsors page, but if you’ve pre-ordered anonymously, message me and I’ll check, adding an entry for you.
For shares/tweets either copy me in or again just let me know.

Any rules?
Only 1 entry will be given for a Facebook share or Twitter retweet, no matter how many times you do it.

Posting of the Ken Follett’s book only available to an address in the UK. (I’ve set an end date of 18th so I can post in time for Christmas.)

You can try and bend the system if you like, but if you do and then win the book…on your conscience be it. Remember: Santa is watching you.

My decision is final.

Can you give me some examples, just so I’m clear?
You pre-order 1 copy today: you get 5 entries.
You pre-order 2 copies today: you get 10 entries.
You pre-order 1 copy today and share on Facebook: you get 6 entries.
You pre-order 1 copy today, share on Facebook and do a tweet: you get 7 entries.
You pre-order 1 copy today, share on Facebook twice and do 10 tweets: you get 7 entries.
You’ve pre-ordered before today but tweet today: you get 1 entry.
You’ve pre-ordered before today and don’t share or tweet: you don’t get any entries.
You get the gist…

How do I know it’s fair and not just a scam?
Hey, I genuinely want to give this book away. I bought an extra copy and got it signed purely as incentive for this campaign. I’ll do a fair, supervised draw.

 

So what are you waiting for? Pre-order 26 Miles to the Moon and/or share all about it and you could win, win, WIN!

 

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What a start!

THANKS!! And now for the inside story…

After such a barnstorming start to the crowdfunding campaign to my novel 26 Miles to the Moon, I simply have to start with saying thanks to everyone who has pre-ordered, everyone who has helped get me here and everyone who has spread the word. Here’s how it felt for me to be wrapped up in this adventure…

Sunday 12th October – 5 days till launch
F**k! Just how are you gonna pull this off, Andy? Just five days to go until everyone is supposed to see a killer book trailer and a well-put-together page on the BNBS site. All I have right now are uncertain ideas, a few lines, a bunch of basic images and high hopes. Why didn’t I just pay someone to do this? I don’t know what I’m doing. This could be a total disaster.

Monday 13th October
Right, I’ve got a few things together but I’m still not sure about this video idea. It could end up looking like an experimental pop video from the 1980s, with (slightly) less-dodgy hair. The initial voice over is smooth, though, and I do have other ideas but they would be harder to pull off. Shell advises me to do something simple but do it well. I stay up to 1am. Clock’s ticking.

Tuesday 14th October

I’m juggling work, family, cat, my video trailer and the BNBS web page. Plus remembering to eat. Not much time in between, but my page is nearly done and looking ok. However, I have just rattled off the bio and inspiration sections so don’t know how good they are. Trailer is coming together, now I have access to some quality images and video clips. Just need some better images for Jon, Nicki and Summer. I take a look at the image site I just got a 7-day free trial on. A cartoon Jon depressed at work would be nice…omg…here’s a cartoon man…depressed…at work..with a dream bubble depicting an astronaut! Jackpot!! We have a winner ladies and gentleman! Oh, and there’s a good one for Summer, and an evil Nicki one, great.
??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????I just need something like a cat being stolen or something. Fat chance, though. Wait, what’s this? You gotta be kidding me! A photo of a man in a balaclava holding a cat? It’s like someone put these there just for me, knowing I’d be doing this very thing. Which is utter bollocks of course, but at 1:30am it does make you think…

Wednesday 15th October
YouTube! My trailer needs a home and I have just a few hours to master uploading, embed codes and external links via a WordPress plugin. Not that I have a finished trailer yet, but I have a rough one to practice on. Thank goodness for YouTube help videos, although at 2am the enthusiastic instructor is a bit too much for me. Geek.

Thursday 16th October
It’s all going wrong! I only have tonight to finish it as it’s supposed to be going live tomorrow, but everything is going against me. My mouse has decided to go on strike until it is fed new batteries. My internet connection is so slow I’m tempted to see if the cat’s chewed through a cable. And my new voiceover recordings have me sounding like Marlon Brando eating marshmallows. Maybe I should just let Amber do it.

Some new Duracells, patience and the umpteenth recording and I’m almost there. I throw in a few marathon photos so spice it up and have a great idea on one photo to involve my friends. More work, more wrestling with iMovie, which to be fair is behaving well. My page has been tweaked and sent off so it’s just the trailer now. I fiddle with the links on the video to put the finishing touches on.

But will people like it? What if they think it’s poor? Unfunny? Cheap-looking? I’ve been immersed in it for so long I’ve no idea. Still, Shell thinks it’s very good. Plus I have zero time to go in another direction.
I go to upload it and see the progress bar make its little journey to the end with the same speed fingernails grow at.
00:38 I send the email to say I’m done. It’s over. It’s ready. Wow.
What will tomorrow bring?

Friday 17th October
It’s alive! It’s alive! My campaign is up and running with a live site! We have take-off! BNBS have just let me know. And the best bit? “Ps – love the trailer” Wahoo! 1-0. Now to let my friends know. I want those orders and I want them fast. Wonder what they’ll think?
8:04 I have my first derogatory comment from a friend about my voice. Yeah, yeah, that was always gonna happen. Friends, eh?

8:45 Next message: “I’m not sure the meet the author section makes sense… It doesn’t appear to read well.”Arggghh! Wtf? What does he mean? Everyone is about to read it – it has to make sense! What’s the chump on about? I don’t need this hassle. I ask him to explain and read it again, ready to argue. Oh shit. He’s right. It DOES read funny if you take it in one particular way. Crap. How many times did I read and re-write that? Welcome to the world of writing. A quick re-think and an email to BNBS with an alternative version. Within minutes, it’s sorted. I thank Si and inside slap myself for initially berating him.

9:28 Another message, this time from from my best mate. “Apart from your dodgy voice, fabulous trailer. Outstanding work.” Phew. He always tells it how it is with me, so maybe it’s gonna be ok.

BNBS QR small11:00 Just to pile on more anxiety for the day, I’ve decided to run the team meeting at work. A sneaky move by me, however, as I get to write a quiz. Hmm…now what topics can I use? 20 questions later on marathons, books, space and grammar, with a QR code to my site thrown in and I now have 15 people all informed.

 

12:00 Refresh…wait five minutes…refresh…ticking over nicely! Orders, likes and messages are rolling in. If my phone could talk, it would be saying, “Ooh, aren’t you Mr Popular?” as it pings all of the notifications.

17:30 We are now at 34 copies! Thanks in no small part to a friend and ex-colleague who bought a whopping 10 copies. I’m stunned. I message him to thank him and he tells me that I once gave him an opportunity to shine, and he was just returning the favour. I start to well up. Time for a few beers in London…

00:00 The day is ending with a beer buzz and 40 pre-orders clocked up. Friends have been brilliant. Family have been awesome. Even ex-colleagues and friends of friends have pitched in. I don’t think I’ve ever had a day quite like this.

Monday 20th October
I’ve just done an interview with my local newspaper. It felt both strange and scary talking to a stranger tapping away at her keyboard on the other end of the phone knowing that whatever was coming out of my mouth might well make it into print. Let’s hope she gets all the details right and I don’t end up as Andrea Males, 52 from Hatfield.

Thursday 23rd October
Infamy! Infamy! They’ve all got it in for me! (Well I just had to use one of my favourite quotes.) I’m in my local rag! Always wanted to appear in the Comet, and now I have, right bang in the main section where it’s happening. On, err, page 46. I end the day with 77 pre-orders, well over a quarter of the way there in just one week. Surely it’s in the bag?

Monday 27th October
Oh no. Oh no no no. Zero orders today. It’s run out of steam. It’s derailed. It’s heading for Nowheresville. I’m not gonna reach my target. Who am I kidding, thinking it would be easy having done so well to start? This is a marathon, and I’ve sprinted out of the blocks and puffing already.

Wednesday 29th October
Ok, so maybe the rumours of its demise are premature. The count is ticking up and it’s heading towards 100. I’m ok. Relax, Andy. Not even 2 weeks gone yet.

November 1st
99…refresh…99…refresh…99…refresh. OH COME ON! Somebody get me to 100! 99…refresh…

100 smallWunnnnnnn hunnnnndreddddddd!
We’ve clocked up a century! 100 pre-orders in less than 16 days. I’m chuffed. It feels that a mental barrier has been lifted, reaching three figures.

 

So there you have it. For three years I’ve been working on a book that has only occasionally seen the light of day when it ventured out in draft form. Now, the pitch and the first few chapters are there for the world to see. I’ve made my own video and put my voice out on YouTube, my photo in the newspaper and my hopes and dreams into the hands of the public. I have had panic, fear, anxiety, joy, delight, worry, doubts and pride.

So just what will the next 11 weeks bring?

 

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Clear for take-off

It’s almost here…the chance for YOU to be a hero, to get YOUR name in print and to help my publishing dream come true.
But a first, a reminder of the basics…

What’s this crowdthingymajig again?
You mean crowdfunding.

Yes, that’s the one. So what is it?
Getting enough people to support making something a reality.
In my case, it is the publication of my novel, 26 Miles to the Moon.

How?
By using crowdfunding publisher Britain’s Next Bestseller.

What do they do?
They enable writers to ‘pitch’ their manuscripts to the reading public and empower readers to choose what gets published.

 

 

They have said they’ll publish my novel…providing enough people want it.

How do you prove that?

By getting enough people to pre-order my book.

Here’s a 1-minute video that explains them:

http://vimeo.com/88330897

Sounds exciting – I want a piece of the action! How exactly do I pre-order?
From Friday, I will give you a link that will take you to my book page on their site. From there, you can place a pre-order.

What does “place a pre-order” entail?
You choose my book, order it, enter your card details. But the great thing is: YOU DON’T PAY ANYTHING UP FRONT.

Ok, ok – no need to shout.
It’s worth highlighting – you pay nothing unless I reach my target. If I fail, nothing will get charged on your card. Only if I succeed will the payment go through, once the whole pre-order period has finished.

So how long’s the pre-order period?
14 weeks, finishing on Jan 23rd.

And your target is?
250. I need this many pre-orders by then to get a publishing deal.

And if you fail to reach 250?
Game over. No deal for me. No charge for you.

Can I order more than 1?
Yes. You can order as many as you like. If you wish to order all 250, be my guest and become my bestest friend in the entire universe.

Hmm, I was thinking 2 at a push.
Hey, I’m grateful whatever!

Can you order it outside of the UK?
Yes. You can order it from anywhere in the world – USA, Canada, Australia, Poland, India, Spain – anywhere.

So how much is it?
£9.99 plus p&p.

Ok. Um, that’s maybe a little more than I usually pay for a book.
Perhaps, but when you usually buy a book:

  • Are you helping someone you know achieve their dream just by the act of ordering it?
  • Will you get your name in every copy of that book in the list of acknowledgements?
  • Will you be helping a charity?
  • Do you get a chance to win a golden ticket?

Wow. No, none of that
Well you get all of that for little more than the price of a couple of London drinks. Without any hangover.

What’s the charity idea?
I’m giving £1 of my own money to a children’s charity for every pre-order I get…regardless of whether I make my target.

Cool. Although isn’t that a big risk for you if you get hundreds of pre-orders?
I don’t think I’d be complaining if I do! But although I get nothing myself for the first 250 pre-orders, Britain’s Next Bestseller will give me £1 for every one after this amount, as an incentive to keep getting more pre-orders.

What’s the charity?
DCTCDreams Come True – helping the dreams of terminally and seriously ill kids come true.

 

So worse case is that you donate £249 of your own money and still don’t get a publishing deal?
Yes. If that happens I will probably cry, but then if I help a dying kid achieve their dream…

‘Nuff said. I think I’ll wait until January to pre-order, though.
Noooooo! I mean, it would really help me if you pre-ordered as soon as possible.

Why?
Let me explain with a football analogy…
Would you have your star striker say to you, “Don’t worry boss – I’ll mess around all game and only try to get you the winner in the 90th minute?”
No – you’d give him the hairdryer treatment and tell him to try from the very first second or else he’s being transferred to Accrington Stanley.

Accrington Stanley – who are they?
Exactly.

To stretch the analogy further…
We are playing Target FC and have to score 250 goals to win the title. I need you all to score a goal – if you do and we win, you’ll get your name engraved on the cup.

No extra time?
Nope.

But I haven’t brought my boots.
Ok, don’t stretch the analogy too far.

So when will I get the book and in what format?
Once the pre-order period has ended, it will go through the publishing process. You will then get a paperback copy (with your name in it!) when it is published in April.

So does this crowdfunding thing really work?
BNBS BooksAbsolutely! 15 authors have reached their target with Britain’s Next Bestseller and have/will be published. Here’s a photo of two books I’ve bought that I actually helped make happen!

 

 

What sort of quality is the printing?
Superb. I was very impressed with the books I’ve ordered. Britain’s Next Bestseller know what they’re doing.

Ok. So could you sum it all up for me again?
Pre-order my book from Friday 17th October 2014 to become my hero and put me on the road to publication. If we get there together, you’ll get a great book to read, a bit of fame and help a worthwhile charity.

Awesome – I’m doing it on Friday!

My hero!

 

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Wanted

WANTED: Superheroes to help achieve dreams.

I’m looking for superheroes to help me promote the arse out of my book for its imminent launch. I’ll be working hard and doing loads myself to promote and market it, but let’s face it, I’m not popular enough to reach 250 on my own. However, with a bit of help from you wonderfully-supportive people, I know I can reach much more than that.

You don’t have to leave the house or even your seat – all I’m looking for are people who can tweet, send links, Facebook page invites – anything that will help spread the word of my campaign. Of course, if you want to walk around your town centre, naked under a sandwich board saying “26 Miles to the Moon rocks!! Order now at…” then fantastic, but you’re not obliged to do so. And might get arrested.

Don’t care so much for me or my book? Well I’m also donating £1 of my own money to children’s charity Dreams Come True for every pre-order, so maybe just spread the word for this cause instead.

Don’t understand exactly what crowdfunding is all about? Don’t worry, I can and will let you and everyone know what it is and isn’t.

Don’t care for me, my book or my charity? That’s cool. But then why are you still here?

If you pre-order my book, you’ll be my hero.
If you also help promote it, you’ll be my superhero.
I can’t bestow x-ray vision or invisibility on you, but if I ever meet anyone who can, I’ll definitely point them in your direction. Deal?

Many thanks to those who have already been superheroic and spread the word already! Awesome!

IMG_0705-0.JPGTo paraphrase Jerry Maguire in that dramatic scene as he leaves his job and addresses everyone:

 

“So…who’s with me?”

 

(Note to self: only one woman and two goldfish followed Jerry, so look for a more suitable rallying cry next time…)

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Moon shot

This is absolutely THE most exciting thing to ever happen to me!

Well, aside from the birth of my daughter. Oh, and my wedding day. And that Champions League final when we came back from 3-0 down at half time. Actually, the day I did a sky dive was pretty intense…ok, let me go out and come back in again…

This is absolutely ONE of the most exciting things to ever happen to me!

 

My novel, 26 Miles to the Moon, has been selected by Britain’s Next Bestseller for a crowdfunding campaign!

 

‘Fantastic!’ I hear you cry…followed by, ‘Er, what the hell does that mean, exactly?’

Well let me enlighten you – because this is where you can become my very own hero…and have a bit of fame yourself…while helping an excellent children’s charity.

Sounds cool? Read on…

 

BNBS

BNBS logo2Britain’s Next Bestseller (BNBS) gives readers and authors a twist when it comes to publishing: it will only publish books YOU want to read. An author submits an unpublished manuscript and if BNBS agree to put it up on their website, the author promotes the hell out of it. If enough people show their interest, then BNBS will give you a publishing deal and the book becomes a reality. Simples.

But there’s more: if you support a book by ordering, you’ll actually get your name listed in the book, as a credited sponsor. Unless you choose to be anonymous, every reader will see your name in every copy as someone who made the book possible!

 

Wow! So where do I go to tell them that I want 26 Miles to the Moon to be published?

I like your enthusiasm, but I haven’t started my campaign just yet. I’ve only just found out, but I wanted to put the word out now (and I’m so excited I couldn’t hold it back even if I wanted to). I have to get 250 copies committed to in order to reach my target, though. To show BNBS you are serious about wanting the book, you will be able to pre-order a copy (or copies if you’re that enthusiastic 🙂 ) but pay nothing up front whatsoever. If I don’t make my target, you won’t get charged at all, and I won’t get published. Zero risk for you – but for me, I need to convince enough people like you that they want this book, that they want to be a part of it. Therefore, I need time to work out a marketing campaign so that when I tell everyone all the details, it’s all professionally setup and I can hit them with my best shot.

 

You mentioned charity?

DCT LogoI have this balmy idea. Call it a bribe or gimmick if you like, but I see it as an incentive. If you pre-order, for every book I’ll give £1 of my own money to a children’s charity, Dreams Come True. Not your money, mine. If I don’t make my target, I still commit to giving the money, even if it’s £249 and I don’t get the publishing deal and make absolutely nothing.

Risky? Yep. But what’s the worst that could happen? I only donate to a charity and help a dying kid. ‘Nuff said.

 

And if you do make the target?

Only then would you be charged for the book, and you’d be one of the first to get your hands on it, getting a copy before everyone else who didn’t step up to pre-order.

I get to be a published author, and you’d have helped make it happen. You’d have earned a HUGE thank you from me!

I’d have donated hundreds of pounds for charity.

I’ll be dancing round my living room with a stupid grin on my face until it’s time for bed. And then I’d still dance some more.

 

So is a target of 250 achievable?

target1Of course it is! I believe in my novel. BNBS obviously believes it has potential to earn them money, otherwise they wouldn’t have chosen it. I’ll put a lot of effort into the campaign. This is my dream, and I’ll do as much as I can to make it happen, to reach out and grab at least 250 people.

Also, a number of authors on BNBS have already achieved their dreams this way. It proves it works – I’ve actually now got two other books I fancied which have since made it, and both have my name in them as a thanks to their sponsors. Why not me?

 

So what next?

26 Miles to the Moon Cover WebBNBS have all the details to go live, the date of which is 17th October. The campaign will last for 14 weeks. Between now and October I’ll need to work out who to reach and when. I’ve already got tonnes of ideas and have started talking to the charity for publicity help. I’ve got a book trailer video to make (some friends are already working on a 26 Miles to the Moon song!) and as you can see, the fantastic provisional book cover (thanks Claire!) is already complete. Once that’s all done, it will all come together like a plan from The A Team’s Hannibal. Except not in a garage and with less bullets flying around. (Unless I get really desperate for pre-orders.)

 

Reality check

I know that this will be hard. I’ve had a lot of good feedback of the book from various readers of its drafts, but it’s another thing to get 250 people to pre-order, even without any risk on their behalf. Assuming each person will only pre-order one book, do I even know 250 people? No, but with a good campaign I can reach many more than that amount. Also as I’ve said before, one of the themes behind 26 Miles to the Moon is to take chances, as you never know where it may take you.

I’m taking this chance.

 

Wanna be one of my heroes?

Keep an eye on my blog and my Facebook page for further announcements.

 

The Great Space Race IS on…

 

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Pasta way to do it

I didn’t want to turn this blog into a diary of a dad, because I planned that it was to be all about my writing. I’ve been told that blogs should focus on one topic – that’s how you’ll get followers to stick around. However, I’m not one-dimensional. This blog is really about me, and has always contained entries about the important things that have happened in my life. Oh, and football. So here’s the final part of the baby trilogy that so far seems to have amused a few of you out there…

Great expectations
7:30pm
I’m home from work. I’ve sent Shell upstairs to get some sleep. Amber is asleep in the car seat in the living room. The cat has been fed. All I need to do is hang up the washing, cook some pasta and then sit down and listen to a webinar on crowdfunding for books at 8pm. What could possibly be simpler?

7:32pm
Amber-Mat-09-07-2014As I start hanging up my socks on the airer in the kitchen, I hear Amber stirring. In the five seconds it takes me to reach her, she’s gearing up for the next level. I quickly get her out of the car seat and cuddle her. Eruption avoided. She even looks happy. However…holding her I can do nothing else. I could use the sling, but I haven’t tried that yet and have visions of cooking dinner and setting her bum alight with the stove. I know – her activity mat! I lay her down, pull the cord on the musical octopus (or is it a jellyfish? She may grow up quite confused), stay with her a few minutes and then go back in the kitchen.

7:35pm
I get everything out to make the pasta. When I say make, I mean undo the packet of fresh 3-minute pasta and take off the lid of the microwaveable sauce. I’m about to start boiling the water when I begin to feel guilty about not supervising Amber in the other room. Nah, nothing will happen to her. She’s on a soft play mat and cannot roll over yet. Still… I pop back and check. She’s fine. I go back to the kitchen and try to ignite one of the large gas hob rings. It sparks, it lights but then goes out. I try again, but to no avail. Time for the daddy centre ring then. Hang on – is that a murmur from Amber? I only checked on her twenty seconds ago but part of my brain has just given me the image of her choking on some object previously unseen by me. Or even worse – dribbling on the Sky remote control. No, she’s fine, surely. I light the gas and at the same time she starts to cry. Dammit. The instinctive part of me tells me to go to her, to comfort her, to stop her from reaching a level that would wake my wife who so dearly needs her sleep. I start walking to the living room. It was then that the non-baby part of my brain woke up to process the fact that whilst my current course of action was admirable, given that the gas was now on and unlit, the likely result of said action was the total destruction of everything around me, and that such an explosion might just ruin my number one objective and wake up Shell. Shit! What the hell am I thinking of? It was only one second but my mind obviously isn’t used to processing such primal thoughts with modern realities and always coming up with the best initial action. Gas off, I go to Amber.

7:50pm
Oh come on! I’m still bouncing Amber in my arms hoping she’ll go to sleep. The cat’s meowing, wanting attention. The pasta begs me to cook and eat it. My iPhone reminds me that the webinar is about to start. I begin to wish I was that octopus.

8:00pm
The pram! The pram can be my saviour. Why didn’t I consider that before? Let’s lie Amber in the pram and cook my pasta. She’s looking a little sleepy, but I’ve fallen for that before. The transition from sleepy baby in arms to wriggling screaming monster can occur from about 2mm from your current position. It’s a risk I’m willing to take…and she’s down! She looks a little miffed, but seems to be quiet. Time for the pasta.

8:02pm
Meow. Meow. Meeeeeeoooooowww! Oh good grief. Getting the pram meant releasing the cat upstairs, and now he’s doing a good impression of an alarm clock outside the bedroom door. Time to rescue him before he undoes all my work.

8:05pm
Pasta cooked. Sauce done and mixed in. I’m nearly there!

8:06pm
Ok, so the pasta’s still in the saucepan and could be staying there for some time – Amber’s now in full-on screaming mode.
Sleep! C’mon Amber. All I want is a few minutes. C’mon!

8:10pm
Amber’s in meltdown mode. We’re talking screeching until I’m convinced my ears are bleeding. I’m holding and rocking her in the kitchen but I may as well not be here for all the good it’s doing. Just stop! Please stop! What do you want? You can’t be hungry. You’re nappy’s fine. JUST STOP CRYING!!!

8:11pm
That’s it. I’ve had enough. All I bloody well wanted was to eat dinner and some time to myself. I’ve worked all day and looked forward to seeing my lovely daughter, not a crying machine with no off switch. I can’t stand the noise, can’t stand not being able to do anything to get even close to reducing it. Ammmmmmberrrrrrrrrrrrrr!
Oh sod it. Shell can deal with it. Off you go upstairs. I’m sorry, but that’s it – I’ve simply had enough…

And then it hits me. An inner voice pipes up. All of this…it’s nothing. Nothing what my wife probably goes through twenty times a day. Nothing that men, women and probably even some older children go through around the world with babies. Every day. Are you really trying, Andy? I mean REALLY trying? Imagine if you had no other choice…what would you do? I bet Shell would have coped with this. Sure, there may have been tears, but she would have probably cooked dinner, worked out the finance for our new car and chosen Amber’s university whilst holding her. What have you got, Daddy?

Jees, way to go all new-age dad. Back in the day I wouldn’t even be in this situation. I’d be watching football or asleep or something while the mother dealt with it. But you’re right. I’m not trying my best. Maybe I can do this. Don’t be such a wuss and TRY. Time to up my game…

8:12pm
Amber-Andy-BW1Ramp up the lunges and sways to factor 9!

Deploy the shooshing and random white noise tune generator within you!

This baby is getting settled…

 

 

 

8:14pm

Oh yes. I’ve only gone and done it! She’s now miraculously asleep thanks to my daddy cuddling skills. I’ve got the moves like Jagger, I’ve got the moves like Jagger, I’ve got the moo-ooo-ooo-ooooooo…. anyway…
I then perform the task of putting her back into the pram with no less skill, patience and precision than a bomb disposal expert disarming a 10-megaton nuke. Everyone knows the tricky bit is the removal of your hand from behind the head once they’re down – slow and careful versus tablecloth whip action – but I manage it with barely a whimper.

8.15pm
I’m eating pasta with two hands! Ok, so not literally with two hands, but you know what I mean. I’m free. She’s quiet and actually looks like she’s gone to asleep. I’ve even started my webinar, seemingly just in time for the good bits. All is well. Peace reigns.

I have triumphed over adversity, and all it took was a bit of extra effort, a touch of luck and the best damn moves this side of Strictly.

So there you have it. A microcosm of life with a baby, played over many times in millions of homes throughout the world with far more challenging situations than the one described.

But as small as it seems, I’ll take this little victory for Team Dad.

 

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New dad: The highlights

My last post detailed the birth of our daughter, Amber, but what happened next? Here are the extended highlights…

 

Events

Amber-Words-SmallMomentous occasion performed by me: Cutting her cord. I’m now available to open supermarkets.

First pang of jealousy: Seeing Amber having mummy time on her chest for what seems a lifetime before I got to hold her.

First ever nappy: Midwife: “You’ve got the nappy on upside down.” NewDadScore = -1.

Most weird and interesting thing I’ve ever seen: A full tour and explanation of the placenta given to me by the midwife. I declined to take home any souvenirs, though.

Most inappropriate simile never vocalised: Midwife performing essential post-birth maintenance on my wife like a mechanic repairing an engine.

Moment most felt like we were totally incapable of looking after a baby: First night, 12am, exhausted and when we just couldn’t work out how to stop Amber crying. Emergency call to Shell’s parents saved the day and our sanity.

Moment I felt I was best dad ever: Getting Amber off to sleep in my arms after a massive crying fit. I’m the man, I’m the man, I’m the man…

First true bonding moment: Amber in her Moses basket staring up at me, looking straight into my eyes for ages. Yeah, you ma girl.

Worst nappy change: The first few black tar ones that make you question the logic of input v output.

First hat-trick: Soiled nappy. 1-0. Change. Immediate reply in new nappy. 2-0. Clean up. Wee everywhere. 3-0. Well played, lady, well played.

First Father’s Day. Finally I get to receive a card and present!

Biggest screaming fit: The first bath. I expected Scotland Yard to break down the door at any moment to arrest the suspected infant torturers.

First time I thought we’d taken home a baby piranha instead of a baby human: A starving Amber gumming my shoulder like crazy. Maybe I really should have named her after a Liverpool player.

 

Things I’ve learned since becoming a dad

Amber-Andy-Close-SmallI can make up random repetitive tunes at will to soothe her to sleep.

I know the words of very few songs, but can do a good mashup of “The Wheels on the Bus” and “Old MacDonald Had a Farm”

Cats can be very jealous. No more cooing on the bus for two unfortunate pigeons in our garden.

I can invent new rhyming words, such as “Pjamba”.

I can both celebrate wildly and swear profusely completely in silence whilst watching an England game with a sleeping baby.

There are times when you’d rather die from dehydration than disturb a sleeping baby in your arms by trying to get your glass that is inches out of your reach.

Anyone who has ever done this as a single parent deserves to be fast-tracked for an MBE.

Anyone who has ever done this for twins or more could probably do a good job in running the country.

If – as I’ve been frequently told – I myself screamed the house down for 6 months solid when I was born, then I now realise that I can never apologise enough to my parents even if I live for two hundred years.

Our parents are awesome.

People love giving cute baby girl outfits. Thanks to you all!

It’s not only Liverpool that can give me sleepless nights and reduce me to a sobbing mess.

Compared to the slicing ability of a baby’s fingernails when it is being cuddled past its feed time, Wolverine has nothing.

Playing “Express Yourself” and “Theme from S-Express” on your iPhone’s loudspeaker when Shell is performing a certain maternal activity for the first time is not welcome.

 

I wonder how we’ll look back on these first few weeks as Amber gets older. Will our tears, fears and desperation be forgotten as we move onto the next stages of her life? Well at least I’ve documented them here as a reminder. I’m sure there will be tougher times ahead (and I suspect some parents reading this are nodding vigorously thinking about teething/terrible twos/teenage strops/hormonal rages that may lie ahead) so for now I’ll just enjoy my time with a brand new daughter, as I know this time as a first-time dad will never be experienced by me again.

 

Which is just as well – I’m exhausted…

 

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It’s a…?

At 1:08am Sunday 8th June 2014 my life changed forever. A new chapter had started. In a special two-parter, I’ll reflect on an eventful three weeks.
(Note: Some of the times given may vary slightly from reality – some of it was a bit of a blur!)

Induction day
Saturday 12pm, Lister Hospital, Dacre Ward
“We’ll just give it another thirty minutes.”
After hours of waiting and monitoring, induction has begun. I had no idea of the process until now and perhaps that was a good thing. It’s like someone has lit a stick of dynamite that has an unknown length of fuse – you know big things are gonna happen but you just don’t know when. A certain Will Smith song springs to mind. Sharing this analogy with Shell is not likely to be a good idea, though.

3pm
“Uggghhmfff”
Uncomfortable. Shell owns the word. I can barely read my Stuff magazine for all the shuffling.

7pm
“Well maybe they are contractions.”
This is not like the movies at all. The ongoing discomfort has gradually slid into regular pulses of increasing discomfort which we’ve only just recognised as the start of contractions. Deploy the TENS machine!

8pm
“I feel kinda bad eating my pasta next to you whilst you’re going through this.”
I really do, but seeing as I’m about as useful to her at the moment as a visit from Nigel Farage, there’s not much else I can do and watch her hit that boost button every few minutes as I scoff my dinner.

11pm
“4 centimetres”
That magical, wonderful measurement. I love you. This means it’s game time: we’re going down to the delivery room and not forced to have more hours up here in limbo.

11:30pm

[insert unworldly cry emanating from the creature formerly known as my wife]

Where it all actually happened!

Holy shit. I’m hearing sounds that I would previously only equate to the coming of the apocalypse. The gas and air are spacing her out in between contractions, but in between, I fear for my life and for the existence of this world.
I am also curious to see what’s happening at the business end, but have been previously warned by mates that any attempt to take a peek may put me off certain fun activities in that region for life, so I stay near the noisy end as the lesser of two evils.

11:45
“Get me an epidural!”
Ok, I’ve trained for this moment. An epidural was always the last resort, and we’re not there yet. I’m in control, I can handle this situation. I suggest the morphine route, as planned. Shell looks at me with pain and desperation that makes me feel like I’ve just suggested biting down on a small stick. She wants the hard stuff, and wants it now. The midwife has said that she can’t push yet, as she’s not ready. After several tentative attempts at trying to persuade her to go for an interim stage, we agree to go for the epidural.

12:00
“Push!”
Well knock me sideways with a sledgehammer – in the time it took to start the prep, Shell has only gone to the next stage and has the green light to push. Too late for an epidural – we’re in to the final stage.

12:01
“Channel the effort downwards, not out of your mouth.”
The first push once again invoked the cry of the banshee, but then something magical happened. Following the midwife’s instructions to focus her energy, Shell channels everything into the push. It’s like someone flipped a switch. No screaming, no noise, not even a hand crush. Every bit of energy she has left is being directed to the main cause. Shell is like a new woman. She might just return to me unpossessed at the end of this.

12:30
“You have a very efficient uterus, Michelle!”
As praises go, that must be a first for her. Things are ticking along nicely. My role is reduced to saying how well Shell is doing (frequently), providing the gas and air when needed (a lot) and supplying her with drink (Lucozade by the litre).

01:05
“Ok, here’s the head!”
I’m in awe. I can’t quite see anything from where I am, but just to know that my child is about to arrive in the world is just amazing. I wonder how long now? Surely still a way to go?

01:08
[Speechless]
OMFG! The baby has just slid out! It’s here! The movie clip that will never be erased from my mind has just occurred as a messy bundle of life has virtually skidded out of my wife. Sure, the bloody scene that now confronts me looks like a Disney film directed by Quentin Tarantino, but I don’t care.
“Ok – let’s just put him on your chest, Michelle”
They wipe the baby down as best they can. No crying, not the baby, not Michelle, not even me. We’re in shock. “He’s all good. Are you going to cut his cord?”
Suddenly I process what the midwife said. “So it’s a boy?” Do I have a son?
“Actually, I don’t know! I didn’t check.”

The transfer from bed to her chest was done so quickly no-one’s even looked at the sex yet. She holds the baby up and in the initial confusion of blood and cord I think it is a boy…but I’m wrong! Of course I’m wrong…it’s a girl!

We have a daughter.

Amber Lucy Helen Males has been born.

I am a dad.

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From here to paternity

Yes, the pun’s been done 100 times already, but it’s the perfect title for this entry. In a few days at the very most, after a pregnancy lasting seemingly longer than the average Spurs manager, I will definitely become a dad. Rather than bore you all with paragraphs of my feelings (I’m sure I’m like most dads-to-be right now) I thought I’d write a questionnaire for me to fill in after.

 

1. When the contractions start, will you:

a) Be Mr cool, calm and collected, being your wife’s rock?

b) Panic and grab every person that vaguely looks like a nurse in the surrounding vicinity?

c) Go off to grab a KFC for substance, as you’re in it for the long run and the beginning stuff doesn’t matter anyway?

 

2. Your wife is squeezing your hand extremely tightly. Do you:

a) Smile and say nothing – she must be in way more pain than you?

b) Skilfully move her hand onto the nearest rail so she can grip onto that?

c) Shout out, “F**king hell! Lay off the hand, woman! Do you know how much that hurts?”

 

3. The baby is placed on your chest for the first time. You are bonding. Do you:

a) Stare at him/her intensely with more love than you could ever thought possible, marvelling at the wonder of life?

b) Lay there and think “OMG I am completely clueless. This kid hasn’t got a chance of me as its dad”?

c) Sob uncontrollably?

 

4. You get your camera out. Do you:

a) Take a few choice photos of the baby for the album and for family?

b) Capture the baby, your wife, all three of you over the day, charting the incredible first few hours of your new family?

c) Capture the entire process from dilation, fill up 2 16Gb SD cards, upload to iPad, create four Facebook albums and send off for a Vistaprint A1 poster?

 

5. You think about the life ahead for your child. Do you:

a) Say to yourself that he or she can be whatever they want to be?

b) Hope that they somehow follow in your footsteps?

c) Open your William Hill app and ask the odds for your child winning the Golden Boot at the 2034 World Cup?

 

Guess I’ll find out soon!

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