Queen Victoria Market

C_Class_Tram,_Melbourne_-_Jan_2008The light rail from Port Melbourne to the city takes about fifteen minutes, and costs $7.50 return, if you are a pensioner or $15.00 full fare.
After the Golden Princess docked in Melbourne, we caught the light rail to the city centre. The cost includes a reusable card that can be ‘topped up’ over the internet, so we didn’t throw the card away on leaving Melbourne – just in case we return, because it still has credit on the card!

DSC09675r  Sunrise over Melbourne as we crept alongside the wharf.

Maureen and I lived in Melbourne for five years before moving to Sydney. The Golden Princess would be alongside for about eight hours so where to go and what to see – for me the answer was a ‘no brainer’, Maureen likes shopping, so for something different how about Queen Victoria Market. It had been a long time since we visited this market, and our day of arrival would be Friday, so the market would be open.

Queen_Victoria_Market_201708The market is a hundred and forty years old (opened in 1878), and is open five days a week – Thursday to Sunday and Tuesday.
It is the largest open-air market in the southern hemisphere, and with over 600 stalls covering seven hectares (17 acres) it would take us most of the morning to see them all. After the market we planned to return to the ship for a late lunch, which would also make sure that we would not miss the sailing time.

With hindsight I think we arrived a little too early, because many of the non-food stalls were only just setting out their goods. Two friends, Viv & Lorrain, from our small ‘cruising’ group had joined Maureen & I, so the ladies could please themselves as to what they wished to see, as I could, because I was not all that keen on checking out lady’s jackets for more than fifteen seconds.

I wondered around with my trusty point and click to record a few colourful stalls. Fortunately the more colourful stalls appeared to be set up earlier than the ‘run of the mill’ stalls.

DSC09682rThis was an interesting stall – all the individual flowers are made from recycled wood!

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DSC09680rI don’t know how many I touched, just to satisfy my curiosity and to make sure that the flowers were not real!

DSC09685r$5 ‘T’ shirts – I didn’t buy any, but the display was colourful.

DSC09688rSupposedly Australian roads signs, but as I don’t have a bar or ‘den’ I didn’t buy any.

DSC09689rBecause our destination was Tasmania I considered buying the Tasmanian Devil sign, but where to hang it at home – all too hard, so didn’t buy anything. I’m a great shopper.

DSC09678rBoomerangs – I think they were made in China. . . not sure if they were supposed to work (which I doubt), or if they are just for collecting dust in forgotten drawers at home.

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Not sure where the ships came from, but I don’t think it was Australia. I fancied one of them, but was bothered about getting it home in one piece. They looked very delicate.

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The card stall was ‘different’ – all pop-up three ‘D’ cards – five for $20.

DSC09693rGlitter and more glitter, reminded me of various stalls that I ‘d seen in Asia & India.

DSC09695rThis stall had the feel of Japanese cartoon characters – another stall offered Japanese crockery – mainly every day crockery. When I was at sea we used to call in to Nagoya (east coast of Japan), to pick up a cargo of everyday crockery, as well as expensively created porcelain.

800px-NoritakeThe above is a sample of Noritake porcelain of Nagoya, from the 1920’s.

We walked up and down each aisle and eventually came out of the covered area to find an unusual sculpture in String Bean Alley.

DSC09697rCheck the hanging item at the centre right of the above picture. Melbourne seems to be big into recycling packing cases or wooden pallets.

DSC09696rA close-up of the sculpture . . . unusual, but not to my taste.

DSC09698rWalking down the alley we came to the organic market, which is more my taste.

DSC09700rI do like chillies – and I was pleased that I’d found something that was ‘made in Australia’ !

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DSC09701rSay cheese!

DSC09702r Stuff this stuff that  . . .!

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DSC09703rThe indoor area of the market, was mainly for the sale of fresh food – wine, fish, meat, bread, everything that you could possibly want, such a shame that this market it is about a thousand kilometres from where Maureen & I live. The colours and the smell of the fresh fruit was a ‘feast’ to the senses.

fruitNectarines & peaches.

 

meatSmoked meat, cold cooked meat, olive oils and more.

wild meat

Wild meat – It’s years since I last had rabbit, I think it was just after the war when meat was still rationed in the UK.
Kangaroo meat is very lean and tasty.
Venison is ‘common’ and wild boar expensive.
A wallaby is a small to mid-size animal of the kangaroo family, and is a native of Australia and Papua New Guinea – I’ve not tasted wallaby, and didn’t know that it was available as food for humans.

When visiting markets, I try and remember to take my ‘book lists’, just in case I find a second-hand book stall – which I didn’t this time.
After finishing our tour of the market we decided to walk back to the city centre via Elizabeth Street, because years ago there used to be a second-hand book shop just off this street.
It is no longer where it used to be, but I did find a shop called The Book Grocer , which seems to specialise in ‘end of line’ books – nothing over $10!
Like the addict that I am, I couldn’t pass a book shop offering discount books.

As many of us do I couldn’t help but check to see if my own book was on offer . . . it wasn’t.

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Triangle TradeFor the newer followers I’ve written one book, but it has been published twice. The above two books are the same story – I wrote Ice King and self published, which was picked up by a UK publisher and reissued as Triangle Trade in hardback. Ice King is cheaper and is still available as an e-book from Amazon.

The point of the above explanation is that I am writing the sequel and I’d written about the Fishing Fleet of India during the early 1800’s.

What did I find in the Book Grocer, but

Fishing FleetI had to buy it, for further background research for my sequel. I’m half way through reading The Fishing Fleet and have forgotten that I should read it for research, because it is such an interesting and entertaining book.

The best laid plans etc  . . .

Swan of the East

While researching Prince of Wales Island (now called Penang) for the sequel to Ice King (aka Triangle Trade) I came across details of the German cruiser SMS Emden, which had links to Penang.

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Triangle Trade

Maureen often says that I am more interested in the research than the act of writing, which to an extent is correct. Little things started to come together so I thought – how about a blog.

Karl_von_Müller

Karl Friedrich Max von Müller was the son of a German colonel in the Prussian army.

In 1913, at the age of forty, he became a captain in the Imperial German Navy and took command of the light cruiser SMS Emden.

images-1He was posted to the China station and using his initiative he shelled Nanking, because it was in rebellion. For this action he was awarded the Order of the Royal Crown. (Third class).

200px-Prussian_Order_of_Crown_3rd_Class_with_Cross_of_GenevaOn the brink of WW1 the Emden was anchored at Tsingtao, which was a German naval base in China. I sailed in to Tsingtao in 1963, and it was still a naval base then, but this time for the Chinese.

Von Muller took the Emden to sea on the evening of the 31st July, 1914.

On the 4th August Emden captured the Russian mail ship Rjasan, which was the first vessel to be captured by the German Imperial Navy in WW1.

The Emden met up with the German East Asia Squadron commanded by Maximilian Reichsgraf von Spee who had decided to take his squadron across the Pacific and around Cape Horn in to the Atlantic.

Von Muller persuaded the Admiral to allow a loan raider to attack merchant ships in the Indian Ocean – the Admiral agreed.

As an aside Maximilian Reichsgraf von Spee defeated the British 4th cruiser squadron at the Battle of Coronel in November 1914. A month later he decided to attack the Royal Navy at the Falkland Islands, but the British surprised him and his squadron was destroyed. He was killed as were his two sons (serving in other ships of the squadron.)

In Germany he was considered a hero and several ships were named after him, including the ‘pocket battleship’ Admiral Graf Spee, which was scuttled after the Battle of the River Plate in December 1939.

300px-Bundesarchiv_DVM_10_Bild-23-63-06,_Panzerschiff_-Admiral_Graf_Spee-Admiral Graf Spee 

Back to SMS Emden – in the next three month Von Muller captured fourteen merchant ships, and became known as an honorable enemy of the allies. He was daring and did his best not to cause injury to civilians. His attacks required the British to stop merchant ships sailing between Singapore and India.

The British tactics reduced the targets for the Emden, so in September 1914 Von Muller sailed in to Madras harbor at night (now called Chennai) and attacked the oil tanks.

Bombardment_of_Madras_by_S.S._Emden_1914Within thirty minutes the oil tanks were ablaze and causing explosion that damaged vessels in the harbor. SMS Emden sailed before the harbour defense guns could train on  the raider.

The following days she added six more vessel to her score.

On the 16th September 1914 the Royal Navy in Singapore advised the Admiralty, London, that they were sending HMS Yarmouth and HMS Hampshire to hunt down the Emden.

HMS_Yarmouth_(1911)   HMS Yarmouth – note the number of funnels.

   In the mean time SMS Emden added a false funnel to disguise herself as HMS Yarmouth.

Bundesarchiv_Bild_137-001329,_Tsingtau,_SMS_-Emden-_I_im_HafenSMS Emden photo taken in 1911 in Tsingtao.

SMS Emden approached Penang harbour at 4.30 am on the night of the 28th October 1914.

Its silhouette, with the fourth false funnel, gave the impression that HMS Yarmouth, was coming in to port, but once in the harbor, and before he opened fire, Von Muller ran up the Imperial German Navy battle flag.

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He spotted the Russian cruiser Zhemchug at anchor. She was in Penang for repairs to her boilers.
SMS Emden opened fire at three hundred yards (270 mtrs) by firing a torpedo, and followed this with gun fire. The torpedo and the gun fire struck the Russian, and she was soon on fire. Von Muller ordered a second torpedo, which hit the Russian’s ammunition causing a huge explosion as she sank.

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Russian cruiser Zhemchug.

German_postcard_of_the_Battle_of_Penang_1914A German postcard  of the battle.

A French cruiser and destroyer opened fire on the Emden, but they were inaccurate. The firing was enough for Von Muller to order the Emden to retreat.

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A newspaper reporter from the New York Times wrote that she watched the battle of Penang from near the hotel, which would have been the Eastern & Oriental Hotel, where Maureen & I have stayed. I took the above photograph when at the hotel, which shows the entrance to Penang harbour. The anchorage is to the right of the picture, where the battle would have taken place.
The map below is from the report of the New York Times correspondent who witnessed the battle.
At this time, 1914, the USA was still neutral, they didn’t become involved until 7 th December, 1917, which is ironic considering the 7th December in 1941.

When_the_Emden_Raided_Penang,_Map,_fromThe_New_York_Times,_Dec

On leaving the harbor the Emden spotted the French destroyer Mousquet, which was coming off patrol and unaware of the Emden’s attack on Penang.

300px-Mousquet-Bougault

Postcard of the French destroyer Mousquet.

Von Muller opened fire and sank the Frenchman, after which he rescued thirty five sailors and one officer from the water. He later stopped a British cargo vessel SS Newburn and instead of sinking her he handed over the French survivors on the understanding that the Newburn would take them to a neutral port in Dutch Indonesia and that they would no longer be involved in the war.

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I took the above picture from the Eastern & Oriental Hotel. I think the area to the left of ship in the photograph would have been close to where the Mousquet and the Emden  fought their battle.

SMS Emden sailed south to re-coal from her captured British ship Buresk after which she  headed for the Cocos Islands. Von Muller wanted to destroy the radio station, in the hope that this would cause the British and Australian navies to leave the Indian Ocean to protect their line of communications.

On the night of the 8/9 th November Von Muller arrived at the Cocos Islands and sent a shore party to disable the wireless and the undersea cables. Fortunately the station staff had seen the Emden and managed to get off a message that they had seen a strange ship, before the Emden jammed their transmissions.

A convoy of Australian troops ships was not too far away, and the allied commander ordered HMAS Sydney to investigate.

StateLibQld_1_120860_Sydney_(ship)HMAS Sydney

As the Sydney approached the Cocos Island the Emden opened fire and scored hits on the Sydney with her fourth salvo.

 The Australian ship replied with her heavier guns and soon the SMS Emden was so damaged that Von Muller decided to beach her on North Keeling Island to save the lives of his men.

SMS Emden Image 3The Imperial ensign still flew over the beached ship, she had not formally surrendered. Captain Glossop  of the Sydney signaled a number different ways, including plain language because he knew that the Emden’s code books had been thrown overboard, to try and see if the Emden was ready to surrender. The Sydney fired again and hit the stricken ship before the ensign was pulled down and white sheets hung over the side. The Germans burnt their ensign rather than allowing it to fall in to the hands of the enemy.

Captain Von Muller had captured twenty seven ships for the loss of one civilian life.

Karl Friedrich Max von Müller was captured and ended up in a PoW camp in England. Earlier in his career he had been attached to the East Africa Squadron where he suffered from malaria. The climate in England didn’t agree with the malaria, so he was sent to Holland, under compassionate grounds, as an exchange prisoner, for treatment. In October 1918 he was repatriated to Germany – the war ended in November.

Von Muller was awarded Pour le Mérite (For Merit) (also known as The Blue Max)

200px-Blue_MaxThis was awarded to particular people for excellent service in the military. The military version of the award was stopped in 1918, but the civilian award is still in use – similar to the British OBE

Karl Friedrich Max von Muller died suddenly in 1923 at the age of fifty – weakened by malaria.

Swan of the East was a nick name given to the ship in Tsingtao, because of her sleek lines.

220px-Emden-gun-3One of the Emden’s guns can be seen in Hyde Park in Sydney

HMAS_Sydney_I_Memorial_Mast-23080-94736

HMAS Sydney’s mast can be seen when taking the ferry from Circular Quay to Manly – it is on the north shore of Sydney harbour.

All of the photographs, except for the two that I took, have been taken from the internet to illustrate a paragraph etc.

Fact or fiction for historical stories.

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Writing historical fiction is time consuming to say the least. Each scene that surrounds a character must be true for the reader, and the easiest way to make this scene true, is research and more research. You cannot afford to be wrong, unless of course you do it deliberately, because you are writing an ‘alternate history’ novel.

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A few years ago I wrote an historical novel, which took me at least two years to research. I’d write a scene and then study it to make sure that a character could do what I wanted. For example, I had the main character board a coach in London to travel to Liverpool in 1804. The first thing that comes to mind, was from where in London would he leave – research.

stagec-coach-travel

How big was the coach, how many horses, how many passengers, did they all sit inside or did some sit on top and if so was it cheaper to travel ‘up top’ than inside? Research, research and more research.

My wife considers that I more interested in the research side of writing than I am in producing the finished novel. There may be some truth in her comment . . .
Small details can pop up that you consider and then either use or discard. Too many details will slow the story and you are trying to entertain, not educate, but you do inadvertently educate, so accuracy matters.
One small detail that I didn’t use was that the cost for sitting inside was 5d (five pence) per mile and if you sat up top it was 2 1/2d (twopence h’penny). If I play trivia pursuit on NYE I wonder if I’ll get this question?
How fast did the coach travel, – the average speed being about eight to ten miles an hour until the roads were improved by Mr. McAdam allowing the speed average to increase to fourteen miles an hour.

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How long was it before the horses were changed?
The route was cut in to ‘stages ‘ hence the coach was a ‘stagecoach’- and they would change the horses every ten to fifteen miles.
Some stage stops would allow the passengers to have a meal, but if a coach carried mail many stage stops would be to just change horses, and the post office would only allow five minutes for this procedure, but a crack team could do it in three minutes. To warn the inn and to save time the guard at the rear of the coach would sound his horn in a way to warn the coaching inn that they were approaching, and to have the horses ready for the change.The tone of the sound informed the inn keeper that the coach only wanted fresh horses or that it was a meal stop.

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Was there anything special about the coach; – a Royal Mail coach would have the origin city’s name and the destination city’s name blazoned on the side along with the Royal coat of arms. Royal Mail coaches used numbers whereas commercial coaches gave their service names ‘The Flyer’, ‘The Union’, ‘The Courier, and ’Umpire’ was a Liverpool bound coach and so on.
One would think that a novelist could make up the answers to many of the questions, but if he was wrong then this would taint the overall story and if a reader thought that the author had ‘cheated’ then the reader might not finish the book or the they might post a negative review, which would be worse.
In my novel I had the London to Liverpool coach stop at an inn at Stony Stratford, which was well known as a stopping place for stagecoaches on their way north to Liverpool, Manchester etc, Stony Straford being a day’s ride from London.

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The picture illustrates the inside of a coaching inn (not Cock Inn).
The inn I used was the Cock Inn, which is just up the road from the Bull Inn, which was also a coaching inn. It is known the both inns would exaggerate their services and after a time a story teller would be told that his story was a load of Cock and Bull.
Jon Cok was the original landlord in 1480, which is how the inn got its name not from the bird. Although the pub sign shows the bird.

cock-sign

Stony Stratford has been around since 1194, and the word ‘Stratford’ in Anglo-Saxon means a ford on a Roman road – the ford being across the River Ouse. The ‘stony’ bit is referring to the stones on the bed of the river.
A friend of mine from my Conway days, who lives near Stony Stratford and had read my book, sent me photographs of the same street today.

cock

The Cock Inn is now a hotel.

bull

As is the Bull Inn, which is to the right of the Cock Inn.

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The Bull Inn can be seen on the right of the picture with its Bull Inn sign and further along the road, near the flower baskets close to the lady in red, is the Cock Inn.

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Cock Inn late 1800’s – I doubt that this coach & four was on its way to Liverpool.

All this research for a small part of one chapter – if nothing else I learned a lot.

If you wish to know the connection between the slave picture and my book, read the blurb on the book’s cover. If it is unclear or too small, try this link

https://www.amazon.com/Ice-King-Geoff-Woodland-ebook/dp/B0042P52VG/ref=sr_1_15?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1483139337&sr=1-15&keywords=ice+king

Plant now and harvest later

I have been asked about the assessor that I used to advise me if I could write, and if my book was entertaining and worth reading. After all writing is a branch of the entertainment industry and fiction has to be entertaining if you wish to keep the reader’s attention so that he or she will keep turning the pages.

Thanks to the internet I was able to research a number of assessors before deciding on Tom Flood of  Flood Manuscripts.

Oceana

In 1990 Mr Flood’s novel Oceana Fine won the  Miles Franklin Award , which is Australia’s most prestigious literature prize. The prize is awarded each year for a novel of the highest literary merit and presents Australian life in any of its phases.
I checked the list of authors who have also won this award – very impressive.

During my investigation I found out that Tom Flood had also won the Victorian Premiers Award, the Australian/Vogel Award and the Orange Banjo Paterson Short Story Award. For my none Australian readers Orange is the name of a famous city in Australia. Flood’s writing was also exhibited in the National Museum of Australia.

I never did meet Mr Flood during all the time we corresponded via e-mails. His business address is a three hour train ride from my place so I stuck to e-mailing.

My original manuscript was over 160,000 words and with Tom’s guidance I managed to reduce it to around 120,000 words, which was still high for an unknown author.

Once I’d received the report from Flood Manuscript that in their opinion I could write, I started searching for an editor, and I wanted a female editor so to have input about the story from the opposite sex.

In today’s ‘enlightened age’ I suppose I was being politically incorrect by choosing an editor by their sex, rather than by their qualifications, but I was sure that I could find the right editor who just happened to have both qualifications. The other small detail was that I was paying!

It took me some time to find the ‘right’ person, because I’d never spoken to or had any dealings with an editor of either sex.

Eventually I found Louise Wareham Leonard, a writer who was born in New Zealand, moved to New York with her parents at the age of twelve, attended the United Nations International School and then Colombia. She has BA in Comparative Literature and Society.
Her first book Since you asked won the James Jones Literary Award,

Since you

and her second book Miss me a lot of was released in 2008.miss-me-199x300

Her third book was released in 2015, but this was in the future of the time that I was researching.

Once again all correspondence was via e-mail because ‘my’ editor lived in Western Australia and I live in NSW. The tyranny of distance was not a problem and we soon built a rapport and the manuscript was pulled apart, tweaked and rebuilt. Of course all this takes time, but as the title of this blog states – plant now and harvest later, which was my plan  once I’d finished writing Ice King

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When Ice King was picked up by a UK publisher, and republished as Triangle Trade they had the manuscript edited once again by their own editor. I am happy to report that they only found five very small items in the manuscript to change and one of those was to satisfy the current PC brigade and had nothing to do with either Flood Manuscripts or Louise Wareham Leonard.

Triangle Trade

Part Two of Traditional or self publishing.

On receiving the contract I read it quickly and then read it again more slowly and then one more time, after which I decided that I needed help to make the correct decision.

I bounced the idea off Goodread, which is a book readers web site, and I was very pleasantly surprised to hear from  Stephen Leather, one of my favourite authors. He was kind enough to comment on my request for advice.

Chinaman   Long shotTunnel rtasDouble tap

 

 

Just four of the nineteen Stephen Leather books that I have collected over the years.

Stephen advised me to retain an agent before signing with a publisher. So the next thing was to find an agent willing to represent me. Funny how history repeats itself – I was unable to persuade any Australian or British agent to represent me, even though I had a publishing contract and their cut from my commission would be 15%. Many of the agents that I contacted stated that they were ‘full’ – and others failed to reply.

I still wanted the contract read by someone who was aware of the pitfalls in the publishing industry, so I joined the Australian Society of Authors and paid to have the contract checked by their legal department. I received an eight page report containing thirty four suggestions. Some suggestions where easily fixed with the publisher, but for other suggestions the publisher wouldn’t budge. Certain clauses were going to be ‘take it or leave it’ clauses.
If I rejected a certain clause the contract to publish would be withdrawn. In the end I accepted the contract, after all, I’d always wanted to be published by a professional publisher and this company had been in the business for a hundred and fifty years. A strong consideration for me living in Australia was that a UK publisher would be able to market the book far better than I could in the UK & USA. I even had some of their books on my book shelf at home, which I’d bought some years ago.

At the request of the Company I sent the publisher’s editor a copy of the manuscript and I am pleased to say she (another female editor) only requested five small changes to the manuscript. One of the changes was based on the perception of how a reader would accept my description of an urchin in 1805, which would be unacceptable today (un-PC). I explained that in 1805 it was acceptable, but in the end I lost the argument and the word had to be changed. Overall I was pleased that the editor that I picked to do the original editing was a very good choice.

Once they were happy with the manuscript they wanted to change the book’s title and the book’s cover. It took me some time to get used to the new cover. I must admit that it is more dramatic than the original cover. The title in the picture below shows ‘The’ Triangle Trade, but in the final production I managed to get rid of this word on the grounds that it made the title sound like a textbook. It was published as just ‘Triangle Trade’. Triangle Trade

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I was then asked for suggestions as to marketing the book.

My suggestion was to produce the book in paperback, and I specifically asked that it not be produced as a hardback. I wanted it produced as cheaply as possible, and suggested that the publisher place copies in airport & railways stations book shops marketing it as an impulse buy for travellers. I was an unknown author, but with the new cover and at the right price, I thought that it would make an attractive read for a traveller’s journey.

The publisher already had a databank of customers to whom they could do a mail or e-mail shot.

Sales staff around the country where given the new book’s title and told to start marketing.

I was given a small advance on sales and the book was produced – in HARDBACK with a sale price of £15.99! I was sent six free books as the author.

At that time the exchange rate to the Australian dollar was $2 for £1.00, which made Triangle Trade one of the most expensive books in Australia, (and I think the UK) particularly for an unknown author.

I complained that Triangle Trade should have been issued as a paperback and I was told that they had been in the publishing industry for over one hundred and fifty years, and that they knew what they were doing. . . . . .I had my doubts, because I spend a lot of time in secondhand book shops. New paperbacks in Australia are expensive.

I buy new paperbacks from Book Depository because their prices are the lowest in many cases, as long as you don’t mind waiting a week or so for free deliver.

A year or so later the e-book version was issued at £4.99 (AUD $10.00), which is more expensive than the e-books from Stephen Leather, Lee Child, C. S Forster, Vince Flynn, Michael Connelly and many others.

Overall the sales have been disappointing. I receive a report of sales every six months, which includes details of my commission. My commission has not yet paid back the small advance.

On a positive side the marketing by the sales person working in and around Merseyside (Liverpool, UK) did a very good job by getting me interviewed by Radio City of Liverpool, the local Merseyside  radio station. The radio station rang me and the interview went for about thirteen minutes.

The same sales person also managed a full page spread in the Liverpool Echo on the ‘Book’ page, written by Laura Davis, the Executive Editor of ‘What’s On’, in the widest read newspaper on Merseyside. As you know Triangle Trade (Ice King) is centred around Liverpool in 1804 to 1807 so the radio and newspaper link generated a lot of interest, but few overall sales, which I put down to price again.

If a reader of this blog is considering self publishing and they are fortunate enough to be picked up by a regular publisher, be careful as to what you sign. I signed away my own work (Ice King) for ten years in a cloud of euphoria, plus I have to offer any further books to the same publisher.

I suppose I could write under a non-de-plume, but it would be difficult to write the remainder of the King & Co. series under another name, because I have possibly a total of three or four books in mind for the series.

I sold a few hundred paperback editions of Ice King, and also hundreds more as an e-book before it was re-published as Triangle Trade, so there are too many current readers asking for the sequel by Geoff Woodland rather than A. Another.

Over ride your wish to be published in the traditional way, maintain control and do it yourself. Only reconsider this approach if you have an agent.

Stephen Leather being a prolific writer, has managed to do both, much of his work is published by a traditional publisher, and he has produced additional e-books, which he self publishes. Check Mr Leather’s link for a great deal of information on self publishing.

 

 

 

 

Traditional or self publish?

Ice King cover

I like facts and figures so I collated some facts and figures about trying to get a book published.

After months of research and many more months of writing I completed an historical novel, called Ice King , all I required now was a publisher or agent who might be interested in my work.

Before sending Ice King to anybody I  had the manuscript assessed to find out if I could write, and if the story was interesting enough to hold a reader’s attention.

The initial word count was 150,000, and I knew that publishers would not consider such a large novel from an unknown author, so under advice from the assessor I reduced the word count to 120,000 words. I was aiming to cut it to 90,000, which is the breakpoint, apparently, for unknown authors. If I had managed to cut it to 90,000 words it would have destroyed the overall story, even 120,000 words was a struggle to keep the story together.

The assessor lived north of Sydney, so all our communications were via the internet – we never did meet. At the end of a few weeks, and taking in to account the assessors’ detailed suggestions, I had a novel of 120,000 words.

The next job was to have it professionally edited. I hired an editor, who lived in country New South Wales, Australia, and during the editing process she moved to Perth, so I didn’t get to meet my editor either.

The assessor was a male, so I deliberately set out to find a female editor because I wanted input from both sexes. My editor was born in New Zealand, educated in New York, and graduated from Columbia College, New York.
She won the American James Jones Literary Award for her first novel in 1999, so I judged that she would be the one to edit my novel.

Once the editor had finished I had the best possible chance of getting my book published – wishful thinking with hindsight.

Ice King is a trans- Atlantic centred story set between 1804 to 1807. The story takes place mainly between Liverpool in England, and Boston in the US, so I had my doubts of any interest in this type of story from an Australian publisher or agent, I was correct – unfortunately.

I sent out thirty five proposals, which generated a 45.7% response – all negative, I am sorry to say.

I was in good company Gone with the wind 38 Margaret Mitchell was rejected thirty eight times – I don’t consider myself to be as good as this author, but her number of rejections gave me hope.

This is the breakdown –

Australia – three companies approached – one answered – my work was rejected.
Of the other two, one asked for a synopsis & two chapters, which were sent. The agent didn’t communicate further. The other failed to reply to the initial approach.

ContestMathew Reilly was turned down by every publishing house in Australia before self publishing. His book was picked up, after he self published, by an Australian publisher and republished under the publishing house imprint. He is now in great demand with fifteen books to his name.

UK – twenty two companies approached – nine answered – all nine sent personal e-mails – which were polite, but they were all rejections.
Of the thirteen that failed to reply, three sent auto replies that they had received the submission. The other ten failed to reply to the initial approach.

watershipDown 26 Richard Adams was rejected twenty six time by British publishers

USA – Ten companies approached – six answered – all six sent personal e-mails – polite, but they were rejections.
Of the four that failed to reply, one sent an auto reply, one asked for additional sample chapter & didn’t communicate further, the others didn’t acknowledge the initial submission.

Carrie 30Stephen King’s ‘Carrie’ was rejected thirty times by American publishers.

I only approached agents and publishers who were interested in new authors or  specialised in historical fiction. I didn’t wish to waste the time of a publishers or agent who focused on westerns, crime, horror, or fantasy books etc.

The lack of interest from traditional publishers and agents made me think of what to do next.

I decided to self publish. I hired an American company to format the manuscript so that I would be able to give a computer file to any book printer, and they would be able to produce a paperback edition of the book.

At the same time I had a web site created, Geoff Woodland, which included the front cover in an effort to market the book. My problem was that the sales of the book were of more interest to British and American readers than Australian readers. The postage charges from Australia killed the European and American sales, so I opened an account with Lightning Source of the US & UK for print on demand, and this worked reasonably well, but I was not selling as many copies as I’d hoped, which I put it down to price, because I had to include local US or UK postage.
Lightning Source issued a monthly catalogue of all their available books to booksellers. To be included in the catalogue there was a cost to the author, but competition between hundreds of authors for recognition swamped many small book sellers, and large booksellers only stocked popular selling books of well known authors. An author not living in the UK or US was at a definite disadvantage.

I looked around for an outlet that would allow me to sell Ice King at a cost that was not too expensive. I found e-books! Amazon & Smashwords would be my salvation. I had the Ice King Word file created in to a mobi file to upload to Amazon. I also uploaded to Smashwords, which was easier, because Smashwords had a program to auto convert Word to their own system.

Ice King became an e-book and sales picked up. Flattering reviews started to appear and I had a feeling that it had all be worth while – or had it?

A few months after the release of the e-book version it was picked up by a UK publisher, and they wanted to republish under their own imprint.

I was over the moon! A real publisher, who had been in business for over one hundred and fifty years, wanted to publish Ice King.

I was offered a contract, and with this under my belt I felt sure I would be able to secure an agent.  . . . . . .