Author On The Up – The Story So Far

Today I am reembarking on my journey as a self-published author.

For the last year I have become acquainted with what is out there.
The possibilities and opportunities for indie authors are manifold.
Quite a few of my colleagues are doing very well already.

A year ago I bought Nick Stevenson’s 10K readers course and shortly after Mark Dawson’s FB ads course. The enthusiasm both courses gave me is hard to put into words.
I started implementing lessons of both courses and saw some success in attracting new subscribers.
I sold a few (only a few) books and have had thousands of downloads of my freebie via Amazon.
My freebie has been sitting comfortably in the top 10 of its category for months.
I’ve done a few cross-promos with other authors.

Enter the tax man

I’ve spent quite a bit of money on FB ads, courses, promos and the likes, but my biggest success so far this last year has been that the tax man has finally agreed to write my authoring expenses off against tax, which he’d previously refused to do since I was not traditionally published.
Apparently I was just dabbling at it.
A hobbyist.
Really.

Take things further

So now is the time to take things further.

I was deeply impressed by fellow student Will Patching’s spreadsheet about his promo efforts and resulting downloads and sales. I was also blown away by his excellent thriller ‘Remorseless’.
Well done Will, and thank you for sharing your figures.

Back to the tax man.
Dabbling at it.
Well, to a certain extent I was only dabbling and I still am.

Increased visibility

I realise that more books means highly increases my chances of visibility, exposure, leverage, and reader satisfaction.
So my number one priority must remain to push the last two books of the series out.

Writing has been slow, due to a number of factors.
I have family problems back home in Germany. An ailing father. And I’m an only child.
The full-time job, and my work as a trade union activist.
The subject matter of the current novel-in-progress. It’s set in the last days of WW2 in central Poland near a concentration camp. Not easy to write. Very emotional and very close to home.

And as I see my fellow Stevenson / Dawson students take off I am still overwhelmed by the fantastic amount of help, good advice, free courses, Scrivener templates, ebooks, pdfs, spreadsheets, goodies, FB groups etc that are out there to help me.

I sometimes get lost in it all

So, as I gather myself together, here are my two priorities:

1. Write that novel – consistently
2. Implement AND KEEP A TALLY ON some marketing – consistently

Oh yes, and

3. Don’t get sidetracked by life.

Tricky one.

I’ve decided to call this little exercise ‘Author On The Up’.

Thanks for reading,

Bea

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Professionals or Hobbyists, Creators or Dabblers in Art?

Beethoven

Beethoven, in a pensive mood

Today I am outraged.
Outraged at what the tax man told me.
That unless I was signed to a traditional publisher and had received a healthy advance I could not claim for any expenses connected with my writing that are higher than my earnings from writing.
That in fact UNTIL I was signed to a traditional publisher and had received said substantial advance my writing was to be considered a hobby.
That unless I was on to ’the next best thing’ and had proper, professional backing I was writing for my own pleasure and that of my few readers and friends only.
The tax man didn’t exactly say all that.
I’m just carrying on the trail of thought.

This of course means, that unless an activity makes good money we are just dabbling at it. We are not serious. We are just pursuing a hobby. It can’t be considered work, because it’s not making (enough) money (yet).

What about the 20.000 or so hours spent practising your cumbersome instrument BEFORE you’re good enough to get a job? Just a hobby?
And the 50.000+ hours spent practising and rehearsing since you started playing, the 1000+ hours you spend as an orchestra rehearsing and performing every year?
The countless drafts of your latest novel?
All those canvasses you destroyed because your work just wasn’t good enough yet to put out there?
Exactly how many scores did Beethoven tear up before he was satisfied with his work?
Was composing just a ’hobby’ for Ludwig until he suddenly got noticed?
Or worse, for us, after all this time, is our music-making, our creative process, just a job?
‘Isn’t it so nice to make your hobby your job? What’s your day job? You get PAID for playing in an orchestra??’ Yes, these really are frequent questions we are being asked as professional musicians.

At which point do you decide a hobby becomes a job?
What drives you forward? Surely it’s not the money. Millions of impoverished musicians, actors and authors vouch for it.
What is it then? 0.001% chance of illustrious fame? What makes you decide? Do you yourself decide at all?
When your creativity becomes a vocation the decision seems to have been made for you elsewhere. You’ve just got to do this. You are not complete without it. And however much you struggle with the notes, or financially, or mentally and, as a bass player, physically, you do have the urgent drive to carry on.

Because what you do does something else, somewhere.
So it’s just a hobby after all then. You’d be doing it anyway. It doesn’t really matter if you get paid nix or next to nix, you’d still turn up because you love it so much, wouldn’t you. Why?
Because what you do needs to be done and said. It needs to be out there.
And because much more relevant than your own pleasure (and pain) is the experience you bring to your audience. You’re not doing it to be famous.
You are an entertainer, a maker of dreams.
You owe it to your audience.
You owe it to yourself and to your dedication.
And most of all you owe it to your talent which has been given to you by a ‘force’ bigger than yourself.

Yes, it’s down to masses of practise, nerves and failures.
To the will to get up, go and do it again, even better than before.
And to education.
And to good teachers.
And to insistent parents.
But don’t forget, it’s YOU who has done the hard work.
YOU had to be willing, disciplined and in control.
Don’t be modest, you did it all.
You are the creator.
You have achieved stuff.
Whether the world knows about it or not (yet).
Whether you are a world class international classical soloist or the archetypal impoverished (and unpublished) author.
You’ve done the practise and honed your skill.
You have written that yet to be published blockbuster that your friends adore.
You didn’t just try. Because trying is never good enough. Trying is never 100%. Trying always reserves a tiny slot for failure. A get-out-clause.
You just went and did it. Properly. You most probably still do it, every day. Despite your Self. And you occasionally rack your brains and struggle with overwhelm and self-doubt.
Heck, you probably struggle frequently.
I do.
Every day.

So I won’t claim editor’s expenses this year. After all, my PROPER job of operating the double bass for a living (never ’just’ a hobby) will now pay for a new hobby, writing, and for my writer’s expenses, I am lucky that way.
Many are not, their creativity quashed by student loan and instrument debt repayments. Many ’creatives’ do jobs that have nothing to do with their hobby-job-vocation, exclusively in order to pay the bills; their vocation as an artist/creative/actor/musician eventually zapped dead by fatigue, self-doubt and, let’s face it, lack of opportunity for doing it, their hobby-job-vocation.

So what’s there to do? In a country where the creative arts are so much part of the makeup and identity of society (yet so little importance is placed on them by the wallets of those in power) it’s a shame that the drive to get most art out there is placed squarely on the shoulders of enthusiasts; people who consider it their duty and that work their backsides off to get concerts, plays, exhibitions, book clubs, youth orchestras, choirs and so on off the ground, often without adequate pay or funding – and call this their job. And yes, I do include artistic managements, who do sterling work to keep art and music alive against the tide of ever decreasing artistic funding, at a fraction of the pay that executives of ’money-making’ organisations enjoy.

And so the enthusiasts continue to jump in with both feet and stick at it. Because that’s the only way to keep our artistic heritage alive, apparently, these days. And we as professional, tax-paying artists must continue to deliver to the highest standard possible, using our own quality control system, installed during 50k+ hours of ’doing it properly’.
And you never know, we might be dabbling with ’the next best thing’; we just won’t know until we’ve done it.

And I will put my writing expenses back into the drawer for another tax year.

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Reviews

Match Games reviews

MG cover 1Winning Combination of Grit, Character, and Romance, 1 April 2015
5.0 out of 5 stars

An investigative reporter just getting back on his emotional feet after a divorce looks into accusations of match fixing within a local football club and ends up framed for a violent crime.

I had a hard time starting this novel. Every time I settled in for a long reading session, something or someone interrupted me and I had to go back to the beginning. Finally, though, I got to read the whole thing. So glad I did. I know nothing about Nordic Noir mysteries, but if MATCH GAMES is the general example, I’ll be seeking out more of them.

Lukas Novak is big and gruff…and idealistic and so innocent that he brings tears to your eyes. Life has hurt this man in many ways, but he still believes in honor and being decent to people, even people who might not necessarily deserve the consideration he’s so quick to offer. What starts as a tentative exploration into illegal gambling charges that may or may not add up to a real story, dumps Lukas in a too real mess. With a couple of probing questions, he ends up on the wrong side of crooked cops, vicious gangsters, and sports hoodlums of the worst kind. Over the course of the novel the stakes for Lukas escalate–first his freedom is threatened, then his life, then the lives of those he loves most.

Luckily Lukas isn’t alone. His helpers include Mark, a disgraced (and seriously demented) former police officer, and Dannii, a Renaissance Woman football blogger who’s mastered everything from computer code to spelunking to higher mathematics. Author Bea Schirmer does an amazing job with all of her characters. They are so fluid in their allegiances and mixed up in their motives. You’re never really sure who you (or Lukas) can count on. Good guys aren’t always good, and bad guys sometimes come through for the right side.

The setting–Northern England–is used to great effect. From gritty housing estates to majestic scenic spots, place is integral to building character, establishing mood, and pushing the plot forward. At one point, Lukas, Mark, and Dannii are on the run from police during a blizzard. Their car is totaled during the chase. How will they deal with the elements AND put distance between themselves and the authorities? The answer revolves around a complicated network of caverns and offers an incredible (and claustrophobic) series of action scenes.

The mystery at the center of Match Games isn’t complicated per sea. Nor is identifying who is behind it all. What is a puzzle is figuring out the true motivations driving all of the shenanigans. There are so many twists and reversals. Even the bad guys can’t trust one another. The plot turns continue all the way to the end. Every time I thought, AH! This is it! A character did something completely unexpected and the wild ride was on again.

I had two tiny issues with the book. One, I wish Dannii’s age had been established sooner and more clearly. Two, and this could be a factor of the Kindle formatting, there were some missing scene breaks. So at times it took me a moment to realize that we were in a new scene.

Overall, MATCH GAMES is a fantastic book. Schirmer may show us an ugly side of the sporting world, but she populates that world with fascinating people. You can’t help but want to spend time with them.

 

 Debut thriller, 31 Dec. 2014
5.0 out of 5 stars

Really exciting and well researched. Great knowledge and descriptions of Manchester and Glossop. The characters were well drawn and fascinating. Thoroughly good read and looking forward to the rest of the trilogy

 

An exciting and gripping read. I loved it! on 12 Mar. 2015
5.0 out of 5 stars

This is a brilliant read. I just couldn’t put it down. The plot is truly gripping. There were pages where my heart was racing and I just couldn’t devour the words quickly enough.
The book is packed full of local knowledge and is really well researched.
Get Match Games today – I can’t recommend it enough. I hope we don’t have to wait for more from this author!!

 

Northern England based investigation 30 Dec. 2014
5.0 out of 5 stars

This is a well researched book
Its location is an area I know well and some of the descriptions are very close to home.
I have read it once and will return to it again to make sure I have not missed anything.
One item of special interest to me is a mention of a flat capped local with his beer drinking king charles dog

 

Loved the reality of the setting, 7 May 2015
5.0 out of 5 stars

Absolutely gripping and a very exciting read! Really looking forward to the next instalments! Loved the reality of the setting. Not many books I’ve read are set in the area I know and love and Ms Schirmer captures the flavours of the area expertly. The book had many page turning passages that had me totally gripped and I would recommend it to anyone who likes adventure, thrillers or the beautiful game.

 

TLC_amazonThe Last Convert reviews

An emotionally vulnerable journalist faces a seemingly invincible foe. 26 July 2015
5.0 out of 5 stars

When the death of a family friend leads journalist Lukas Novak to investigate a cluster of strange deaths in a nursing home, he uncovers a diabolical scheme with roots deep in the past.

This is a prequel to MATCH GAMES, a full length Lukas Novak mystery. That book kept me on my toes from first page to last. THE LAST COVERT has the same complex characterization and an equally intricate plot. We get to meet Lukas in a dark hour. His marriage is over and his wife is bent on alienating him from his children and ruining him financially. Poor guy can’t take a breath without fear that something negative will be reported back to her attorney and used to bankrupt him. To be fair, Lukas has spent his whole marriage hiding the fortune he inherited from his famous brother, a rock star whose recordings still bring in a tidy sum long after his unhappy death.

The point here is that Lukas is in a fragile frame of mind as the book opens during the funeral of a close friend. This emotional vulnerability clouds his judgement as he investigates the events surrounding the man’s death and the surprising beneficiaries of his will. I don’t want to tell too much. I’ll just say Lukas isn’t prepared for the extent of the conspiracy he’s stumbled upon. Nor is he aware how deep in the past the seeds of the crime are buried. The villain behind it all isn’t just some murdering con man out to get his hands on the victims’ worldly goods. There’s a deep pathology involved. A terrible history that will repeat and repeat unless Lukas can put a stop to it. And it’s not clear that he’ll be able to do that.

It’s amazing to me how much character and suspense Schirmer packs into this relatively short work. Yet the pacing is right on. There’s no sense that she’s cramming in plot points or forcing the action.

THE LAST CONVERT is a gritty and action-packed thriller that will keep your heart pounding until the very end.

 

I am already waiting for the next book in the series Very Good read. 27 July 2015
5.0 out of 5 stars

This second book by Bea which follows Lukas, a strange character of true life.
It starts fairly tamely but then descends into mystery and twists that keeps you reading until you finish it.
I an already waiting for the next book in the series
Very Good read.

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‘The Last Convert’ 5 star review – An emotionally vulnerable journalist faces a seemingly invincible foe

TLC_amazonBy Carrie Ann Lahain

When the death of a family friend leads journalist Lukas Novak to investigate a cluster of strange deaths in a nursing home, he uncovers a diabolical scheme with roots deep in the past.

This is a prequel to MATCH GAMES, a full length Lukas Novak mystery. That book kept me on my toes from first page to last. THE LAST COVERT has the same complex characterization and an equally intricate plot. We get to meet Lukas in a dark hour. His marriage is over and his wife is bent on alienating him from his children and ruining him financially. Poor guy can’t take a breath without fear that something negative will be reported back to her attorney and used to bankrupt him. To be fair, Lukas has spent his whole marriage hiding the fortune he inherited from his famous brother, a rock star whose recordings still bring in a tidy sum long after his unhappy death.

The point here is that Lukas is in a fragile frame of mind as the book opens during the funeral of a close friend. This emotional vulnerability clouds his judgement as he investigates the events surrounding the man’s death and the surprising beneficiaries of his will. I don’t want to tell too much. I’ll just say Lukas isn’t prepared for the extent of the conspiracy he’s stumbled upon. Nor is he aware how deep in the past the seeds of the crime are buried. The villain behind it all isn’t just some murdering con man out to get his hands on the victims’ worldly goods. There’s a deep pathology involved. A terrible history that will repeat and repeat unless Lukas can put a stop to it. And it’s not clear that he’ll be able to do that.

It’s amazing to me how much character and suspense Schirmer packs into this relatively short work. Yet the pacing is right on. There’s no sense that she’s cramming in plot points or forcing the action.

THE LAST CONVERT is a gritty and action-packed thriller that will keep your heart pounding until the very end.

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‘The Last Convert released’ & video trailer

TLC_amazon‘The Last Convert’ is now available on Amazon.

Lukas Novak’s life has just taken a turn for the worst. His wife wants a divorce and Lukas has had enough of being the underdog. He promises himself to start over. There is just the matter of the death of his old family friend Tibor, and his funeral to be taken care of.

But all is not what it seems at Fairhaven care home, Tibor’s last residence. With ten deaths in just as many weeks, superstitious inmate O’Daniel smells a rat. Lukas asks questions but is sidetracked by Fairhaven’s mysterious councillor Eda Enigma, who believes in the transference of spirits. Desperately seeking resolution in his own life and curious about her methods at Fairhaven Lukas enlists for a course of counseling.

Days later his research into a mysterious book with a call to invite his “Guardian Angel” into his life stretches Lukas’s own sanity to its edge.

In human psychology The HemiHelix Effect is the individual’s realisation that one has the ability to double back on oneself, whatever the circumstances.

‘The Last Convert’ is episode 1 of The HemiHelix Effect series of novels.

Click here for reviews.

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Match Games video trailer

Here is a short trailer compiled in iMovie to bring ‘Match Games’ to life.

Match Games trailer

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The Legend returns – The Hallé welcomes Stanislaw Skrowaczewski

In 2010, when the ash cloud crippled European air traffic for a few days afterSkrowaczewski 1 the eruption of the Barbarbunga volcano in Iceland, Stanislaw Skrowaczewski was packing his bags in Poznan, Poland for a brief visit to his old band, The Hallé, in Manchester.
When he learned of the ash cloud grounding his flight he decided quickly. He hired a taxi and two drivers. 800 miles and 24 hours later he arrived in Manchester exhausted but exhilarated to be with The Hallé again.
He was 87 at the time.

On Tuesday he returns to Manchester to conduct Brahms 4th Symphony, Schumann cello concerto with our own Nicholas Trygstad and Weber’s Der Freischütz overture.
As we have become accustomed to, he will greet the orchestra enthusiastically, looking around the band for familiar faces.
Then he will explain that “this right eye is not so good these days” and “this left eye is almost blind”. Followed by “my dear friends, it’s so good to see you!”
Stan St Peters 2013

Rehearsals will be on the short side and communication difficult at times.
Yet, once he picks up the baton the conversation will take care of itsself, through music.

The band calls him ’Stan the Man’, affectionately.
It is with awe and respect that we welcome him to Manchester again.

right: Stanislaw Skrowaczewski rehearsing at Hallé St Peter’s in 2013

Thank you for reading!
Bea

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Michael Kennedy Orbituary

guest post by Cheryl Law
kennedy_3151696k

I was sad to learn of the death of Michael Kennedy, who was one of the great names in classical music journalism; documenting musical life in Manchester for some 70 years, editing the Oxford Dictionary of Music and writing acclaimed biographies of many composers, including Elgar, Britten and Strauss.  A leading authority on many aspects of British musical life, he was associated with some of the past century’s finest musicians and composers, and was a personal friend of Tippett, Barbirolli and Vaughan Williams.

Born in Chorlton in 1926, Kennedy started out as a copyboy on the Northern edition of the Daily Telegraph, but soon began reviewing concerts, returning from the Free Trade Hall and working through the night to meet deadlines.   He rose to become editor of the newspaper, and later became the chief music critic of the Sunday Telegraph, for which he still wrote well into his 80s.

The last time I saw him was at a Hallé concert. The enormous amount of respect and admiration from my colleagues for this man was entirely justified, for, apart from his enthusiastic energy for music, one of the things we all loved most about Michael Kennedy was his commitment and loyalty to the city in which he was born, and the musical life that has always thrived here.

A devoted patron and advocate of all of Manchester’s orchestras, it was undoubtedly the Hallé that was closest to his heart. Following his 1960 biography of the orchestra, he has supported it through good and bad days, and just last year sang Mark Elder’s praises, telling his interviewer: I never thought the glory days of Barbirolli would come back again, but they have”.   I’m so glad that the boy from Chorlton, who loved classical music so much, saw the Hallé on such a high. Manchester’s musical life, in which he had such faith, shall miss him.

Thank you, Cheryl, for this wonderful post.

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‘Match Games’ released

MG cover 1Today I am releasing my debut novel ‘Match Games’ out into the Wild World-Wide Winter Wonderland via Amazon. Please click here or follow the Amazon widget to the left to go straight there. Click here to read more.

‘Match Games’ is available on Kindle and I will make the paperback available in the new year.

Thank you to everyone for your support and help! Without you it wouldn’t have happened.
Thank you to my wonderful beta-readers for their encouragement and honesty.

Book description:
A secret conspiracy. A corrupt soul. A psychopath returned from the grave.
And the Beautiful Game, fanatically followed by millions, all over the world.

Slightly disheveled, self-proclaimed investigative journalist Lukas Novak inadvertently disturbs a hornets’ nest when following up a mysterious blog’s match-fixing allegations at football giants Mancunia FC. When the wrong people start getting hurt the hunter becomes the hunted and Lukas finds himself a non-person, on the run from a GBH charge.
Unsure who and what to trust Lukas stumbles upon answers that he hasn’t been looking for and that change the course of his investigation and his own life forever.
If you like ’Nordic Noir’ and hard-hitting, real life conflict, then this dark and gritty mystery thriller, set in Northern England, is for you.

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