Thursday, January 12, 2012

Family Rules: Author Guest Post

I am thrilled to share a new book I have been fortunate enough to feature this week called Family Rules by Vincent Tuckwood.  Thanks to Pump Up Your Books Virtual Tours for allowing me to showcase this novel today!

About the Novel:

New York. In this city that never sleeps, anyone could make a brand new start of it. Or so the song goes.

For some people, starting again is no option.

Kenny is adrift in the city, tormented by the scars and memories of his unique upbringing as a child star in the UK, chasing any addiction that can fill the void he carries at his core.

Increasingly unable to paper over the cracks, to numb himself with street corner narcotics, or build an abiding relationship with his junkie soul-mate Ivvy, he turns to stealing cars to provide momentary escape from his increasingly desolate life.

Estranged from his parents, Kenny has no hope or vision of a better future.

Until one night he steals a car from a gas station in New Jersey and is offered an unexpected, final opportunity for redemption; a radically different role to play.

About the Author:

Vincent Tuckwood is a story-teller working in fiction, song and verse. At any given point in time, he’s proud to be a father, husband, son, brother, cousin and friend to the people who mean the world to him.

He is the author of the novels Escalation, Family Rules, Karaoke Criminals and Do Sparrows Eat Butterflies? as well as the 2010 poetry collection, Garbled Glittering Glamours. His screenplays are Team Building and the screen adaptation of Family Rules, Inventing Kenny.

Vince regularly connects with his audience at and at his story-teller page on Facebook, often writing poetry in response to their prompts, and encourages everyone to get in touch there.

You can find out more about him and his work at

Book Excerpt:

I slowed to a walk a block from Central Park. More from exhaustion than any rational response to the situation; I was long past caring whether I drew attention to myself or not. Across Central Park West and I was entering the park through Strawberry Fields. I had no choice but to sit down on the first bench I passed; my arms burned with the weight of the kid. Burned.The kid kept clinging to my neck even when I’d sat down.

Guest Post:

“What? You mean you wrote this?!” – How to sell out… on purpose!

In 2010, as I was putting the final touches to my third published novel, Family Rules, we bid a fond farewell to my Nan, Dorothy Underwood. She was 97 years old and lived a very, very full life, not least of which was being able to bake the best apple crumble and custard you could ever hope to eat.

When my Nan was born, in the poor end of Nottingham, radio hadn’t even penetrated communities, let alone television. Horses were in the streets,the motor car a whispered idea from far away. America, France, Spain, India… These were places that only wealthy people got to go, written on maps that were only available at the public library.

When my Nan was born, people talked with their neighbours. What happened in the next town was all a story, and everyone was a story-teller.

Nan saw the advent of the car, television, the internet, global travel, mobile technology. She saw two of her grand-children relocate to the US and South Africa respectively.  She saw the real world shrink, while the virtual world exploded outwards in cyber-space. Before she died, we regularly chatted with her via free Skype video-calls. She didn’t think it odd at all.

In that same time period, the world of publishing underwent an equally transformative journey; democratization, increasing access to the means of production.

Previously, if you were lucky enough to be literate, and to write a novel that was deemed worthy of publishing, you got access to a Literary Editor, Copy Editor, Publisher, Agent, Typesetter, and Printer.

Of course, there is a significant body of opinion to suggest that all those editors and brokers acted as taste-keepers, filtering out the dross and ensuring only high quality work got published
[I’ve read some really BAD novels in my life, and have to call BS on that!]

and, without doubt, these brokers did the best they could in bringing their skills to the story’s journey from artist to mass market.

Now, though, any author with the right skills can:
•    Write a novel
•    Encode it for digital transmission
•    Produce print-quality copy and art-work
•    Engage in a rights-free, no-cost contract to produce hard- and e-copy of the novel
•    Manage and monitor sales online

All from a device in her or his bedroom that costs only a few hundred dollars.
I’m not here to argue the value of working with partners; pro or con. Either way, both routes end up with a book that someone thinks is worth selling; a story worth telling.
But there, again, the world has changed.

Books used to sell because of how they were positioned in Bricks-and-mortar book-shops. Now, though, bricks-and-mortar has been replaced by virtual-bricks-and-mortar has been replaced by social networks. I would argue that a great book with a potential audience needs few of the historical taste-keepers or brokers to help it sell.

Obviously, in terms of selling,it should go without saying:
•    Write a great book
•    Make your book easy to buy, in as many places as possible
•    Publicize your book – reviews, reviews, reviews!
•    Tell people about your book – advertise!

If you have a great book with a potential audience, this will get you sales.

Advertisers and marketers used to be able to create a best-seller,and I guess they still can.But in my own experience, with a Facebook or Google ad, it’s easily possible to reach a targeted potential buying audience of over 100 million people – for only $1 per click. Suddenly paying multiple thousands for a small ad in Publisher’s Weekly seems like a REALLY expensive way to let people know about my books!
The times they are indeed a-changing…

You’re no longer selling a book, you’re interacting with your audience. You’re selling access. You’re selling you.

You’re selling out… on purpose.

This was brought home to me at a recent holiday shopping event at my daughter’s school. I’d taken a stand to show willing, and was selling all my books.

A few people glanced at the table as they walked past, so I got off my big, fat behind and went and stood in front, welcoming them, saying “Hi!”, asking if they fancied something to read. This got a little more interest.
Over the next few visitors though, I began to notice that when I mentioned I’d written the books, people were suddenly avidly interested AND ended up buying one or more copies. I’d been assuming they knew I was the writer; truth was, they didn’t.

I adjusted my pitch again, asking whether they fancied something to read and what they liked to read about then, if there was alignment, casually dropping into the follow up that I was thinking about “that sort of thing” when I’d been writing <fill in the blank here>.

The evening went very well – and I’ve heard back from a number of people that they enjoyed the books!
My learning was simple. Selling your book now includes selling the writer.

And, because the bricks and mortar are disappearing, that means selling out inyour online, virtual world. It means selling access.

That means what I’m doing right now, guest blogging, it means what I get up to over at, it means having a story-teller page at Facebook. It means experimenting with live writing and virtual poetry. In short, it means being alive and present in both real and virtual worlds.

It means building your audience one-reader-at-a-time, rather than hoping to suddenly have the masses buy your book. Sure, you can dream about a best seller with a display rack inside Barnes and Noble, but it’s increasingly improbable. There is prior art for what’s happening in the bookonomy; it’s called Tower Records, it’s called Napster… Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it is an iTunes world out there.

When my Nan was born, writers were myths, a visionary far away who conferred their wisdom upon unseen readers, who passed their interest on. Writers cared what the reader thought, of course, but their caring was disconnected. Now, writers must be willing to step directly into the trust circle that exists between artist and audience.

We’ve come full circle, to a world where artists focus on the small circle of audience they can touch, in the faith that their art is strong enough to swell that audience organically.

And even though all this is happening via silicon and electron-flow, it’s a world my Nan would recognize.
And you know what? I don’t think she’d think it that odd at all.

1 comment:

  1. Happy to have been here with you this week, Lindsay - look forward to hearing what you think of Family Rules!