Overthrow the Overlords

Hi guys, apologies for the remarkably late update to this blog, my excuses for my lateness is completely understandable if you would like to hear me out? But rest assured, I’m back and will continue to write articles all the way, until the very end of the Odyssey. So before I start this update, lets go over the reasons as to why you thought I’d abandoned you, then I will talk about how to ‘Overthrow the Overlords.’

-I’ve been kinda busy working both a day and night job.

-I’ve been searching for a new editor.

-I’ve been marketing Episode One.

-I’ve been venturing outside my place of work and my office.

-I’ve been trying to fix my internet.

Yes, I work in retail during the day throughout the week, I cannot say it is a passion of mine, most of the time I am up inside my own head, thinking about the future, but it pays the bills, keeps bread on the table and water in the bowl, or sometimes if I am lucky, whiskey (Johnny Walker Black). Every other weekend in the night time, I also work in a cocktail bar. When not feeding my skinny wallet, I am working in my little office on what REALLY matters to me..TAO…For those of you who have not yet read my previous blogs, first of all go back and read them, then come back here! Second, TAO stands for ‘The Ancestral Odyssey,’ a project that I like to refer to as the new fantasy epic, a project that I hope will one day redefine the epic fantasy genre, something that will stand alone, taking readers to places where they never thought they’d visit, presenting situations that will force you to wince and urge you to read on, all the while bringing to the table something fresh and remarkably exciting on a truly massive scale. Why am I killing myself you say with work and not focusing on this project 100% of the time? Why have I not had the time to update this blog? The answer is simple, I am flying to Australia come the end of this year, to start a new life living on the road from a van for a year, road tripping across the country, visiting wonderful places, basking in the unbearable heat, chilling with all things great and small from cuddly koala bears, kangaroos and the vicious, deadly creatures of all types having evolved with the exclusive need to end Human life in the most painful ways possible. Just kidding, I am sure it is not really as bad as some of my friends have described it to be, hell on Earth. In order to get to Australia and pay for this trip, I need to work, then when over there, I need to continue working while moving, but to give myself the best experience, I’ll need to work as much as I can here, in beautiful Oxfordshire.

As some of you may already know, the editor I hired from America a year ago, while I was travelling Europe in 2015, who supposedly was working on The Utopian Dream – Volume One, STILL has not delivered a shred of work to me, nor has she even suggested sending me anything anytime soon. Even after signing a contract, even after I handed over hundreds of pounds, money that I really could’ve done with, even after several dozen e-mails mainly coming from my end, no work has been returned and I’ve heard nothing from her for many months. She has gone completely cold on me for far too long, I have assumed I will never hear from her again, and I guess I will not see that money returned. I would go into further details because there is a lot more to the story, but it angers me the more I talk about it, and I am generally a mild mannered person. Never the less, I’ve found myself a new editor, someone closer to home, someone who is interested in my work and eager to work for me, someone who gives me daily updates and advice, the way good editors should be. Should he do a good job, I will hire him again and give him a mention in the acknowledgment section at the end of Volume Three. This means that ‘The Ancestral Odyssey: The Utopian Dream – Volume Two,’ will be professionally edited for your reading pleasure, unlike Volume One which remains untouched by an editor, a Volume which is receiving much praise regardless of the odd grammatical error here and there, I say that without shame because none of us are perfect and screw you if you think you are. As goes for my former editor, I will put up a fight and attempt to regain my lost funds, but it’s not looking good.

Marketing Book One, The Utopian Dream is taking up 95% of my time when I hit the office. The other 5% is noting down ideas in my notebook, or scribbling down doodles of certain characters or places. It has been so long since I actually wrote anything new it saddens me, but once Book One, Volumes One, Two and Three are available on Kindle and Paperback in the Amazon Store, I will continue with TAO and work on the sequel, ‘The Ancestral Odyssey: Rise of The Black Doves – Volume Four. Marketing is not all doom and gloom however, there are perks to it and rewards to be pulled out from all the work, at this point not only do I have my own Teaser Trailer on Youtube that you are free to check out, but I am in the process of making personalised bookmarks. For those of you who are interested, simply list a couple of your favourite colours, your favourite animal or creature (it can either be real or unreal) and type up a quote that you cherish. Send it to me at taotome@outlook.com and entitle the e-mail with your name. Please do remember to list the person who wrote the quote and where it is from, I do not want to appear to have taken someone else’s words. I am finishing the first batch on the weekend and hopefully will get around to sending them out before Monday 6th. Obviously I cannot keep this up forever, the offer is limited but if you put in an order before the 25/06/2016, hopefully you’ll have yours sometime in July depending on how many orders I get. All this, is absolutely free of charge.

Some of you probably gasped at my last excuse but yes, it is true, I have been going out more often than not recently. Whether it be for a long walk in one of the parks around Oxford, going out for drinks with friends or attending staff parties, I’ve been trying to rebuild my social life, one cannot remain a digital vampire all his life. The best recent event however, was going to York and seeing Bill Bailey perform Limboland live. I’ve seen Bill Bailey’s stand up before online and on DvD, but seeing him live was something else. It was a remarkable performance, haven’t laughed so hard for a long while. If you haven’t seen Limboland, I suggest you try to see it, if it is still being shown that is, because it was brilliant.

As for my internet, there are a few things in this life that really grind my gears, one such thing is a cold shower, when you have to be somewhere, when you need to go to work or shoot out to meet people, you jump in the shower to freshen up real quick, and the temperature goes from scolding hot to freezing cold and cannot make up its mind. It infuriates me! Another thing thing that I really cannot stand is printers, printers from big shops and offices work fine, they are absolutely tip top, can print in all sizes and the colours look great. However, when I find myself in a position to buy myself a relatively good printer for my work, it is only a matter of time before it breaks down, the colours don’t look right, or there are constant paper jams and other errors. I guess you get what you pay for and I cannot afford an office printer, they are way too expensive and impossible to lug around from house to house. When this happens repeatedly over and over again, after half a dozen returns, repairs and new purchases, I really am against looking into printers and would rather use a reliable source. To add to this list is poor internet, I’ve been struggling with my net in Oxford for the past two months, I wont go into great details but holy hell, talk about a slow decline going from off an on now an then to completely flat lining. After several engineers, technicians, phone specialists and hourly phone calls, the problem is still persisting and it is likely to carry on till I leave for Australia in October. I hate to admit it, but I am dependent on the internet for research, communication and to upload new content…Don’t look at me like that, you know you are too.

So there you have it, my reasons for being away for so long, I cannot promise it won’t happen again because I am a busy guy and soon I’ll be in Australia, travelling around in a little van, writing on a laptop most likely disconnected from the internet for weeks at a time (Oh God). This is not for a long while yet though, I will keep you guys posted on my Australia travels, speaking of which, should you be one of the ones e-mailing me about your own bookmark, if you have been to the land of Oz before, please drop within your e-mail a place you’d recommend I visit or an activity you feel like I should participate in, that would be awesome. Anyway, without further a due, lets actually start on addressing what I set out to write about in this post, and that is ‘Overthrow the Overlords.’ I hope you enjoy it.

Before I get started, I need to point out that I have no experience with Traditional Publishing, understand I have not been Traditionally Published, after years of trying to no great effect I decided to look into Self-Publishing and eventually went down this route to success. Throughout this post, if I write anything that isn’t correct, please do not hesitate to e-mail me and clue me up on what ever it is I get wrong, as hard as it is to believe I do get things wrong from time to time. Throughout this post I want to also point out the downers of Self-Publishing and contrast it with the other option, which is Traditional Publishing. Lets cover what it means to get Traditionally Published, Self-Published, talk about the positives and negatives and then go over what my experience was like and why I made the choices I did.¬†From my understanding, the first feat you have to overcome is a mental one, you must realise that you are literally setting yourself up for failure and heartache and have a very long journey ahead of you. This journey, this trial will test you, not only have you accomplished so much already, by writing a novel that you love and are heavily passionate about, working into the early hours of the day, forgetting to eat properly, missing out on social events and maybe ceased your income for a day or two just so you can nail down a particular scene, but the real test is still to come, and believe me when I say…YOU WILL BE TESTED! Arguably, this is where most aspiring authors fall, this stage separates those who are truly in it for the long haul, and those who dabble in and out. If you are still reading this post, I am going to assume that you are one of the ones who are here to stay, to hopefully one day see your work up on the shelves next to other great works, I take my hat off to you, because you too likely have an interesting story to tell in regards to this business, or are struggling tirelessly to bring your vision to life. Rest assured, you are in good company here, so lets break our struggles down, share a story and look at the current options available to us aspiring authors.

Step One – You’ve already written your book, it was tough but it is done and you are happy with it, fucking finally am I right? Pardon my french. When you get to this stage, I advise you to put it away for at least a week, maybe two and give yourself some time to relax, go play outside, call up some friends and drink one two many, eat something healthy for God’s sake that’s not out of a packet, no doubt you’ve been neglecting your social circle and yourself just so you can finish that stupid book full of nonsense, and no one around you understands what you are going through because they are what I like to call ‘normies,’ we are the weird and wonderful people who shut ourselves off from society in a dark room, living off coffee and microwave noodles, pawing at our notebooks and ignoring communication attempts from real people on the outside because…Because we are awesome, and what we do expands our minds and fucks with the heads of other, again pardon my french. Anyway, after your time off from writing, re-evaluate your work, I know! Right now your telling me to go fuck myself and I would too, but trust me, go over your work once more with a pair of fresh eye balls, you WILL see mistakes, you will find inconsistencies and your ideas would have grown stronger since. So, go fuck YOURSELF and do as I say, re-read your work, go over it again, edit it yourself one more time before you even think of setting out to get it published. You can thank me when you are sitting in your grand leather chair, in front of your massive HD TV, surrounded by beautiful women or beautiful men rubbing your feet in your tower of silver and gold.

Step Two – Make a pot of coffee, sit your ass down and order a book online. The book I want you to buy is called ‘The Writers and Artists Yearbook.’ It is typically a big red book filled with ALL the information you need, sure there are other helpful books out there and it is a good idea to have a browse through them or make more than one purchase, more than likely they will benefit you, but I believe this Yearbook is your best option…Yes, it has everything you need to know in those pages, going over all the ins and outs of publishing, it can provide you with hundreds if not thousands of pointers, giving you and your work the best possible chance of success. If you stop reading this article now and never follow this blog again in order to invest and read this book, I totally understand, because there is more in that book than I could ever write and provide you with. So go get a job, buy it and read through the parts that concern you, because there is a lot in there to get through. Once you have it and have had a good chance to flick through it, picking up as much information as you can, head towards the back of the book and look for the contact information of Literary Agents. It is important you highlight and make a note of such agents that specialise in your own genre. If you don’t know your genre, then what the hell have you been doing with your time? For example, if you have written a romance novel, you are unlikely going to find representation from a Literary Agent that focuses on cooking or crime. List the agents that suit your genre until there are non left in the book, and then psyche yourself for a lot of e-mailing, letter writing and possible long phone calls. It is also important to record all those agents you get into contact with, you are going to be doing this for a great deal of time, you may forget who you have e-mailed or have spoken with, don’t waste your own and their time to write them again if say they have already rejected you. So document those that reject you and those that do not respond, a non response I’d say is worth another shot later on down the line, but don’t hold on to hope in this case, sometimes these evil people do not even bother to get back in touch with you, just like that girl you went out on a date with a few weeks ago and never bothered to call or message again, it is their way of saying “Thanks but no thanks.” To avoid confusion, I found it handy to set up three folders in your Laptop or PC. All folders should be dated, this goes without saying, always try to date everything so you can keep things ordered when the folders start to overflow and constrict your airways. One folder should be named Literary Agents, the other should be called Pending Agents and the last one which is my personal favourite, should be called Rejection Bin. Why is the Rejection folder my favourite folder you ask? Because everyone who ends up in this folder is someone who cannot see the potential in your work and is missing out on success and a seriously great project to be proud of, so shame on them, they are not rejecting you, they are rejecting themselves a chance to be part of something incredible. This is the mind set I have subscribed to and suggest you do the same. Every time I received a rejection letter, it felt like being flicked very hard in the balls, if any ladies are reading this and cannot relate to a good ball flicking, take my word for it, it hurts and sometimes makes you want to be a little sick over yourself. It is not a nice feeling, but if you do as I say and develop a thick skin early, it softens the blow. I was thinking about naming this The Loser Pile, The Idiot People or The Museum of Morons, but Rejection Bin I guess seems to be the best name for it.

Step Three – It is important to understand that at this point The Literary Agent holds all of the power, you are a peasant asking your Lord for more. (If you understand that reference I give you a round of applause) You may have written the finest piece of literature in all history, you may be in possession of something so incredible it will change the very fabric of society as we know it! Even if this is the case, you still have to go through this process I am about to detail. Even Mr George R.R Martin, the formidable Christopher Hitchens and J.K Rowling have had to do this at some stage, hard to believe I know but it could not be more true, everyone of us has had to bend over to some else and take it. Understand that you as the aspiring author is pretty much knocking on a busy business mans door and asking for some attention, some of his precious time and a hand out of money to help fuel your project, (personally I fueled my own project and I used tea, but I am the exception of course) in order to get this overlord to take you seriously, to hear your story, you must abide by his or her rules. So when you look up one such Literary Agent online or manage to get their secretary on the phone, you must be sure to follow the instructions they give you. In my experience, they typically ask for a Cover Letter, one to three Chapters of your book and a Synopsis. It is vital, fucking vital that all three are constructed beautifully, I cannot stress this enough of how brilliant you ought to make these three documents. I will go as far to say this, you need to pour in as much love you have given your novel into what the Literary Agents ask for…No, I am not even kidding, even I failed on this, I could not get passed this stage and I will explain my story at the end of this blog. Do your research and do it well, read through what the Yearbook has to say, write the most gripping, the most striking Cover Letter possible and get it proofread over and over again. Get it looked over by someone professional, a teacher, a professor or a successful writer, same goes with your Chapters and Synopsis, they need to be tip fucking top just to score a single read through by the evil overlord…I mean Literary Agent…And even then, it is unlikely that they will get back in touch. When someone told you that the hardest part was writing the book, was a tremendous LIAR! Getting picked up by a Literary Agent and having your work passed on to a Publishing House could safely be put into the impossible category in life. Some agents will ask for more than what I previously mentioned, some may want a CV or a bigger Synopsis even, others may want more Chapters, it really does vary, but so long as you follow the instructions and give them what they ask for in a professional way, your chances to get noticed will increase.

Step Four – Unfortunately this is where my knowledge falls a little short, for I never made it passed this stage, believe me it is more complicated than just failing the previous stage, I will go into more details about my publishing story at a later date, but for now I will focus on you guys and what you should do. Before you send off anything, be sure your work is protected by Copyright Law, you can protect your work in many ways, don’t worry, you don’t necessarily need to pay for this service, I read that you can send your work to yourself, you can load up on evidence by taking pictures from a digital camera or mobile phone, let people know you are writing because these people can also testify in your defence if some asshole tries to steal your work. Protect your work anyway you can, one of my nightmares was losing my work to someone else, because this is something I actually give a shit about. Once you send off your bundled e-mails or physical copies to said Literary Agents, you need to wait til they get back in touch with you, for the love of God do not ring or e-mail them after a few days or weeks, silence usually means no anyway it does not help your case if you come across as a needy little bitch. The time varies from agent to agent, you may not ever hear back from them, so after about three to six months, stick those that never got back to you in the Pending Folder, and after a significant amount of time, either resend your submission or write them a polite non needy e-mail regarding the situation and work. Here is when it is important to provide them with the dates so if they take you seriously, it will make it easier on them, but luckily you took my advice and have kept your dates and recorded of them for a situation like this. I won’t lie to you, you are going to get flicked in the balls aka rejected many a time during this process, if you employ the tactic that I taught you earlier, the flick will be softened, but never the less it will still bruise, for those of you with brains like goldfish, I’ll repeat said lesson, here it goes pay attention…Value yourself and believe in your work!…The agents that reject your work, chuck everything you sent them in The Rejection Bin right away but do not delete it (you need it for your records) and never look back, they missed out on a great opportunity to work with you and lack vision, so good for you for standing up for yourself and shame on them for their inability to get on board with your project. Should you receive a letter, e-mail or phone call congratulating you on all your hard work, and that they want to take you on as a client, well done to you, give yourself a mighty pat on the back, but do not bang your head on the ceiling from jumping too high just yet, keep your cool and listen to what they have to say, remember they are still the overlord and you are still just a humble peasant trying to secretly overthrow their rule. Follow whatever instruction they give you and follow through if that is what you want, you may find that their company is not what you expected it to be, so do not be afraid to withdraw the offer if you have to, better to go with a Literary Agent who will do a grand job in representing you rather than someone who disrespects the business. What I am saying is that it is okay for you to be a little picky, but bear in mind, it is very hard to find representation in this day and age.

Step Five – From here, your Literary Agent will represent you, and will pass on your work to Publishing Houses, (overlords even bigger than themselves) these houses will either want to take you on or they wont, it is as simple as that and you have absolutely no say in the matter, you just have to play it by ear, continue to go to work in your day job until you receive that one e-mail or that one phone call we all yearn for. When you get THAT phone call however, it is then appropriate to open up your Rejection Bin and get back in touch with everyone who has rejected you, and throw it in their faces, really rub it in and do not stop till they beg you to give them another chance!…Just kidding, don’t do that, unless you are a douche bag, in which case, go away, I don’t like douche bags reading my stuff. But in all seriousness, what I have just talked about through these steps is just the beginning, if you are lucky you will be swept up relatively soon, if you are an unlucky sod like me, you will wallow around for years in this depressing pool of misery until you give the overlords the middle finger, and climb out into the Self-Publishing pool. Once you jump into this glorious blue sea of happiness, you will find that it is generally a better place to be but underneath its waves, it is still loaded with its fair share of jelly fish, sharks and other monsters with tentacles wanting to rip you up and eat you.

Before you say it, I know what you are thinking, so shut up and let me say this! Choosing the Self-Publishing route is not selling out, quitting or taking the easy option, on the contrary to what you may already know, it actually requires more hardship, more work and more of your hard earned money, dedication and time. I will fight you on this because I believe it is true. What comes hand in hand with your endless struggles and hardships, comes great reward and the best success stories ever told. Self-Publishing your book is a bold and very lonely move, as Alexander the Great once said to his followers, one of my favourite historical idols “Fortune favours the bold.” I don’t care who you are or what you have achieved, no one can argue that Megas Alexandros was anything but a successful man.

If you are lucky enough to get published traditionally, and please do not say it has nothing to do with luck because it does to a degree, I congratulate you. What you have achieved is to be commended, praised and highlighted whenever possible, for you have worked hard, beaten the odds and can experience the feeling of seeing your work out there on the shelf for people to buy and read at their own pleasure. I, D.W.Gill, personally applaud your efforts, well done and keep doing what you are doing…This will not stop me however from pointing out why I believe Self-Publishing is a better option than Traditional Publishing. You are free to disagree with me, you are free to e-mail me my ignorance if you spot anything inaccurate, I am happy to concede that I do not know everything and open to learning more. Who knows, I may change my mind in years to come, but currently, at 28 years old and having experienced what I have experienced, I hold the Self-Publishing route higher than Traditional Publishing, and here is why.

Once you hand over your material, once the contract is written up and signed by both parties, to my understanding you sign away the majority of your power and creativity to the Publishing house, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but for me I want to be able to build my front cover or perhaps work with a Graphic Designer throughout the process, upon teaming up with a Publishing house, you forfeit these rights. I want to work with the editor and analyse what content goes in and what ends up in the bin. It can take years for your work to end up on the shelves and I’ve heard the royalties aren’t very desirable either, because everyone who puts a hand into your project, is owed a calculated cut. I am not saying there aren’t positives to Traditional Publishing, should you be working with a great team, your book will be looked after, it will be well marketed (although I’ve been told that the author still has to do the majority of marketing regardless, unless you are already ridiculously famous) and will be distributed to all bookshops…Where as, if you Self-Publish, you regain complete control of your project, you build your own cover, you hire your own editor, you market it and spread the work using what resources are available to you. You receive a greater royalty but have to pour in your own money to fund your distribution. Self-Publishing is hard, if you want to give your project the best chance for success, you have to forever be working round the clock between jobs and social events, researching ways to get your material into readers hands, making it stand out among the thousands of others out there. I developed my own Teaser Trailer with the help of a friend and put it on Youtube for the world to see, I post quotes on Twitter, give my friends on Facebook monthly TAO updates, I am in the process of creating bookmarks, beer mats and looking into getting ads in magazines and maybe just maybe, this will be enough to grab peoples attention. If you go the the Traditional Publishing route, this to my knowledge is mainly handled for you.

In summary, Traditional Publishing is a harder club to get into, but once in, things become easier, but there is a trade off however, you trade away some of your power and voice, giving it directly to the Publishers. Self-Publishing, you regain your power but have to work harder to spread the work around. I was lucky because I have come from a creative background, studied art and graphics in College and University, so I can use some of the tools professionals use, giving me a slight advantage over those that have not had such education. At the end of the day, most people do not care who you are published by, so long as you have a good, well written story that you believe in, people will likely want to read it too. I have a vision, an idea of something grand, something epic in my head that I feel needs to be told, and told in such a way that no one else can steer this ship but me. Call me selfish but before you do, I have brought in a friend to help with the trailer, a trailer I will leave a link in at the bottom of this post, I choose my editors carefully, somebody who is as passionate as writing as I am, and I do wish to one day start my own Publishing Company where I bring in new writing talent to help build the story before ‘The Ancestral Odyssey’ called ‘The Mythorigins,’ but this is still as of yet an idea in the works, an idea I will keep you posted on when there are actual updates to be posted.

I chose the Self-Publishing route after years of trying the traditional way. I had a chance to achieve publication once upon a time, but was unable to give my power away, unable to bend over backwards for a company who wanted to change and cut up my story, change the characters and its ending, so I refused there offer and went back to the drawing board. Shortly after this, I realised that I was getting nowhere, realised that my time was valuable, realised that my project was in fact not marketing material, the risk to publish me was too great and there was no guarantee these companies would make there money back and profit. From a business money making point of view, I was shot down time and time again, which hurt, it shouldn’t be about the money, it should be about the quality of your book and the dedication you are willing to put into it. I have a great project, I am onto something fresh, something complex, something remarkable, a story that I believe needs to be told, but with every rejection, with every criticism thrown my way, my book grew stronger because of this, I worked harder to create a better piece of work which is why I do not believe in negative criticism, because imperfection breeds perfection. If my work is not made for a traditional publication then I would take the only other path available. I gravitated toward the Self-Publishing road and made my mind up to commit to this during my travels around Europe last year in 2015, I was in Albania when I finally made that decision. If you would like to know which path you should choose for your own novel, it is entirely up to you, both choices have pros and cons. I advise you do your own research, read the ‘Writers and Artists Yearbook 2016,’ check out what others have said and come to your own decision.

Thank you for reading this post. I hope you found it insightful and entertaining. Again I apologise for the lateness of this article, I cannot promise it won’t happen again because I have a shit load going on right now. If you have any questions regarding my project, if you would like some advice on your own novel or would like your own personalised bookmark made for you by yours truly, e-mail me on taotome@outlook.com. Also if there are any details that aren’t accurate concerning the differences between Self-Publishing and Traditional Publishing, hit me up and I will take it on board. Bookmarks will stop being made on the 25/06/2016 so please keep this in mind. Here is the link for the Promotional Teaser Trailer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cf2qNplelyk and here is the link to buy or download ‘The Ancestral Odyssey: The Utopian Dream – Volume One’ from Amazon.https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01E87FLAY

D.W.Gill

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