Category Archives: Getting Published

Follows the history of how one bad writer evolves until he gets published.

Old World vs New World Publishing

Things have changed so quickly in the world of publishing. It wasn’t so long ago that the BIG publishers were willing to reward best selling authors with huge advances. Now the game has changed and the huge advances are about as likely to happen as winning the lottery. The days of Donna Tartt are over. The new e-world order for authors is publishing their own work via a number of different distribution methods but the one that seems to be working the best at the moment is e-publishing. A lot of writers, including some very big names, are setting themselves up to publish their own material. Thus, authors are taking control over the future of their writing back from the bigger publishers – and that in most cases is a win-win.

Publishers have a vested interest in selling paper. That is the main reason they often keep the price of the e-books so high relative to their hard and soft back editions – especially for their proven authors with large backlists. Traditional publishers only understand distribution of a paper product. They want you to choose the paper versions over the electronic version so they keep the prices close – therefore encouraging the purchase of paper based product. That they do so doesn’t serve the needs of either the author or the public. Moreover, that the traditional publishers have stuck to their guns on this issue, only helps to self-servingly prolong their crumbling empires and outmoded marketing models. They have been shortsighted, and much like the railroads that never realised that they were in the transportation business last century and so fought a futile fight to maintain market dominance, mainstream publishers are increasingly finding themselves irrelevant. Of course they won’t disappear entirely, but they are relegating themselves from the mass market to a niche market: paper based distribution.

Another industry was too involved in protecting its empires to learn and adapt to the needs of the marketplace. The music industry did not embrace the pace and tide of change – which was against them. They suffered the consequences at their own peril. Now they haven’t disappeared but they can be said to have been marginalized.

Now, authors can publish their own work quickly and cost effectively via electronic distribution allowing the author to achieve a higher return on their investment of time and energy and the public to pay prices that allow them to read more books. Paper books won’t disappear. People will still want to have paper-based cookbooks, art books and the like, but paper will just be one form of distribution among others. This is good news for authors who are increasingly ready and capable to publish their own content. This benefits both the writers and public who are increasingly buying new books by name authors under a threshold of £4.99 – something that seems to be able to happen only in the new e-world order of publishers. Even with lower prices for the public, authors end up much better off in almost every respect.


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Filed under Black Mary Press, Bookselling, Getting Published, Independent Publishers, New Authors, New Novels, Novels, VP Von Hoehen, Writing

Writing a Book is Only the Beginning: It Needs to Sell

Writing is Selling: Ideas

Writing is Selling: Ideas

Writing gives you the illusion of control, and then you realise it’s just an illusion, that people are going to bring their own stuff into it. D. Sedaris

I have wanted to be a writer since I was in my English Lit class when I was, like, sixteen. As I have mentioned in an earlier blog it was in that class I received an F grade for the first time. It stung. Moreover, it still stings. Since then I have tried to improve my writing with a long and constant effort: not entirely successfully (so far), but mostly I would say it has been worth it. I give a lot of thought to what I write, but it does not always return an equal reward. The fact of the matter is that I am getting better and I have published my first novel. Now, that may seem like a triumph, and it is in a way, but what really counts is the book sales – and writing the next book, of course.

I find selling books a more difficult task than writing. I was advised early on with my writing ambitions that in the modern world of publishing it would be more effective to write and publish my own books – not as a “self-publisher” as such, but rather as a small independent publisher. The world of book publishing is changing. A leaner more focused and flexible approach would be needed if I wanted to find my books on the bestseller lists – never mind my personal goal of seeing what I write translated onto the big screen. Creating my own publishing company was about keeping control, being nimble and quick to respond to the demands and opportunities of the market place.

The Black Sea, my first novel, was a long time in the making. It took years of work – and not to create something anyone would want to call a literary masterpiece, quite the contrary, I consider myself an entertainer. I want to write books for the moment that allow people a moment of escapism – an easy read and a good story. I have not learned enough to even get close to writing a book that would be considered something literary: although it is my ambition to do so one day. That day, however, remains in the distant future as I focus my efforts on writing quality thrillers. Now, my first effort has had some earned some good comments from most people who have read it. And, no, I do not mean from those closest to me: quite the opposite really. Those closest to me have been the hardest on me and thankfully so. I am lucky enough to hear the good, the bad and ugly about my work from those closest to me and inevitably, that makes me want to be a better writer. The people around me have been amazingly supportive in my work but that doesn’t mean they’ve been easy on me.

For some would-be authors, their efforts to become a writer are mocked by those closest to them. Sometimes, because they do not really want to see others succeed or are dealing with their own demons, insecurities or financial pressures.  This type of person frequently tries to plant seeds of doubt that often plague, entrepreneurs, actors and other such “dreamers.” However, if you have the right people around you, it is more likely that they want to help – and that is what I have found. I am very lucky in that regard. Not everyone has constructive help and criticism to guide their progress. There are many naysayers out there who will try to hinder you, but the best practice is to listen and reflect on what they say. If you find their comments helpful, take the advice and improve yourself. If it is destructive, ignore it, much as you ignore a wasp or a bee hovering over the food on your table. Do not pay it attention: just allow it to pass through and avoid the sting.

Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony. M. Gandhi

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Filed under Black Mary Press, Book Launches, Bookselling, Bookstores, Getting Published, Independent Publishers, Marketing, New Authors, New Novels, Novelists, Novels, The Black Sea, VP Von Hoehen, Writing

“We’re Talking About Money Money.”

Slot Machine by Corpse Reviver

Slot Machine by Corpse Reviver

August 23rd, 1978.  The Brown family were shocked, each for their own reasons.  Mrs. Brown sat silently next to her husband.  The older children’s eyes spun wildly like  $1,000,000 slot machines.  The two younger ones weren’t quite sure of anything.  Why him?  Why now?  What rationale?


In July 1978 the Browns were to travel to Europe, but while they made their plans, the mumps had made their plans too and had settled into the neck glands of Trevor, my charge. Mumps were a problem.  While women and children survived the disease well, in adult males it could lead to sterility or death. Mr. Brown tried to keep Trevor’s hopes up but eventually the doctor ruled out travel.

His older sister, Lilith, who was in the throes of a young romance insisted on staying with Trevor.  In a house with twenty-two bedrooms and twenty servants Trevor didn’t need or want Lilith to look after him.  He, like the rest of the staff, could barely tolerate her.  We used to call her the Anti-Christ.  It may even have been me who started it.  I was Trevor’s driver and bodyguard.  I cared for Trevor – more than his own parents.  Like Trevor, I was never fond of his siblings.  The older boys had grown up during a period when Mr. Brown’s vast industrial fortune was still growing, so they were lean years for the older children.  By the time Lilith and Trevor came along their lifestyle was extremely opulent.  The older children despised the younger ones for the privileges that their father’s wealth provided them in their childhoods.

The Family Home

The Family Home

Mr. Brown pressed ahead with the trip for him and his wife.  Childhood illness would not be permitted to interfere.  Although the others were in the dark, Trevor and I were the only ones to know the real reason that Mr. Brown was so adamant they continue – it would be the couple’s last trip together.  Unknown to his wife or the other children Mr. Brown had spoken to Trevor a few weeks earlier out by the larger pool.  He simply sat down and announced:  “Trevor, your mother and I are getting a divorce.  Who do you want to live with?”  Trevor was dumbfounded, but his reaction was immediate.  He would stay with his father.  On July 4th, 1978 Mr. and Mrs. Brown left for Europe on their Canadair private jet.

Lilith and Trevor stayed at home and, as anticipated, she was rarely seen or heard from.  I was one of the few staff members who had had the mumps so I stayed with Trevor night and day as he ran a high fever and his neck glands became rock solid.  Though there was little Trevor could do, he did look forward to a daily call with his father, with whom he shared a dry, sardonic sense of humor.  Nobody offered an explanation for Lilith’s constant absences, but her escapades were known: Mr. Brown had eyes everywhere.

About two weeks later Mr. Brown called from Paris; it was a memorable call for two reasons.  First, it was Lilith’s birthday, and despite a large party planned for her by the staff, she neither attended nor thanked them.  The second reason was that the phone call triggered a domino-like reaction, which took four weeks for the final domino to fall.

Mr. Brown had not been feeling well and was diagnosed with the mumps in Paris – one side of his face had swollen and turned hard almost in an identical fashion to Trevor’s, so it seemed a logical diagnosis.  Trevor meanwhile had recovered and was the only Brown on the estate.  He was spending most of his time with the horses at the far end of the grounds, playing tennis with me, or swimming in one of the two pools. .  And now, with that call, he was awaiting the imminent return of his parents

The next night the parents’ call came from London.  The following night it came from New York.  Then the house manager contacted all the children and asked them, in no uncertain terms, to be present for the Browns’ return the next day.  The family was rarely together in one room.  Several times I had to tell Trevor who his elder half brother was when he attended the estate.  In fairness he had only seen him five or six times in his life.  That is how unusual such a family gathering was.  Something big was about to happen.

The next day all the children were settled in the drawing room in an unnatural manner that avoided conversation and eye contact.  A lot of families are dysfunctional, but in my experience wealth amplifies dysfunction exponentially.  There was no love lost between any of them.  The only sound in the room was the clank of tea spoons, a sip of a drink and the crunch of the odd biscuit.

Mercedes 600 by Benutzer-Vic Dorn

Mercedes 600 by Benutzer-Vic Dorn

Finally the Mercedes 600 limousine pulled up out in front of the pillars of the Georgian mansion.  All the staff were outside on the front steps waiting to greet the Browns.  Once in the house, pleasantries were exchanged at a distance with the children: no kisses, no embraces.  There was a dangerous but unspoken discord in the air – as though the smallest of sparks would have set off the largest of explosions.

Mr Brown ordered a Dubonnet on the rocks with a twist, and his wife a Crown Royal whiskey.  There was silence while the house manager saw to the drinks.  Mr. and Mrs. Brown left momentarily to freshen up.  I was standing, as I usually did, a meter or two behind Trevor – the staff hadn’t been asked to leave.  The room was writhing with melancholic energy and the strange artificiality of the situation.  When returning from other trips Mr. and Mrs. Brown would be greeted and retire to their apartment in the mansion.

This was uncomfortable.  Lilith rather cruelly suggested the meeting was to announce their mother’s pregnancy.  The eldest, Roy, looked Lilith dead in the eye and replied that perhaps the family was broke.  Sinisterly he continued that perhaps her father knew about her underage “fuckfest,” and she would be written out of the will like their other brother Jeff had been for a similar offence.  Roy had managed two shots across the bows of two siblings with one attack.  Trevor, no doubt, thought it was the news of the divorce.

Back Gardens photo by PvH

Back Gardens photo by PvH

Mr. and Mrs. Brown returned.  They took their drinks from a Tiffany tray, and had a sip.  The father stood, the mother sat.  Mr. Brown began: “you all know we have returned because of a medical problem.  When we informed the staff of this, we thought it was the mumps.  Doctors in London, however, were not convinced.  They sent us to New York where I underwent further testing.  Unfortunately, the hard swelling in the neck had moved down to the collarbone and they biopsied it.  It is cancerous.  I have been told I have four weeks.”

Mr. Brown died on September 24, 1978 one of the richest and poorest men in the world.  In his wake he left many questions about love and money and family.  Mr. Brown had left Trevor a letter which I leave to the reader below.  In a move I thought cruel and unnecessary, Mrs. Brown directed me to tell Trevor his father’s last words: “between family and money… choose money every time.”  The others used this to mar the father’s memory but I wanted Trevor to see it from a different perspective: What is a 42 year old man with such a vast fortune going to say?  Losing the money doesn’t hurt.  Losing your family does.  No family, no pain.

September 23, 1978

Rest in Peace

Rest in Peace

Room 1072
Timberland Hospital

Hi Trevor,

This weekend was the best on record.  The days seem brighter with you around, but they pass too quickly.

I can see I have at least brought one good thing into this world when you came along.  You are growing up so fast it is hard to believe it was ten years ago that I had to visit you between meetings while you were fighting for your life in the hospital.

I see a young man who is strong, but gentle, who loves life and seeks wisdom, who is polite and thoughtful, but forgives others their foolishness.  Never lose this ability to see the world as it is.  Never let people use or hurt your pride.  Always be proud!

Use that intelligent mind to make you happy and wise.  Your mother and I were never going to make it together but we both knew you were the one good thing we did together.

Love Dad
Ps.  Between love and money, choose love.

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Filed under Cancer, Capitalism, Consumerism, Death, Death of a Parent, English, Family Feuds, Getting Published, Healthcare, Journalism, Novels, Wealth, Writing

There Comes a Time in Your Life When You Must Draw and Line and Say: ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.


Lately I have found it harder and harder to concentrate.  I started investigate possible reasons for this deteriorating situation.  It seems that the constant television, radio, newspapers, buses, the underground, escalators, electronic

Even in the back seat of the taxi: it doesn't stop.  Photo Jodi  Young

Even in the back seat of the taxi: it doesn't stop. Photo Jodi Young

billboards, traditional print billboards, bench backs, tweets, internet, magazines, pamphlets and leaflets… not to mention text advertisements and span emails, have caused a blizzard of sorts in my mind.

Even the whirl of branded clothes, glasses, and accessories adds to the storm.  Now, for those of you who know a little bit about me I would probably best be described as a Buddhist, but I love theology, mythology, history, philosophy, sociology and psychology.

Even Andy... Photo by the Viscount

Even Andy... Photo by the Viscount

Last month I read the Koran and like many belief systems it recommends periods of fasting to concentrate the mind and focus on the values and ethics using the fast as a way of bring your attention to the beautiful teachings in the Koran (if you haven’t read  it, I highly recommend it, regardless of your theological affiliation).  In the spirit of the Islamic fasting aiding concentration on the religion, I have decided to begin a media fast to remove the barrage of media and advertisements that don’t allow me to quiet the din in my head – “which is too much and it’s no good.” S. Vega

So I planned the media fast, but after several days I realize short of being in the mountains or desert there is no way to avoid media.  As a result I have decided specifically to avoid all advertisements.  The problem is that living in the center of London this is not going to happen because of ‘collateral advertising’  (just like collateral damage).  The almost impossible situation created by capitalism to ensure that your mind is effectively kidnapped by the advertisers – resulting in a form of ‘Advertising Stockholm Syndrome.’  The point that you are so unwittingly become a cog in the perpetrator’s wheel and end up supporting the very people

'I didn't start the fire, it was always burning since capitalism's been turning.'

'I didn't start the fire, it was always burning since capitalism's been turning.'

who have kidnapped your body, mind or soul.  Advertisers are the capitalists form of terrorism.  How many images and messages does one mind have to endure.  Apparently the answer in the capitalist system is infinite.  They expect that we can ultimately absorb all that is thrown at us without reacting to it.  But we can’t.

Over the next six weeks I am going to do my best to avoid all types of advertising and report to you here on the my efforts and the results of those efforts:  how it effects me metaphysically and psychologically and if I am lucky I will try to extrapolate some kind of sociological benefit from avoiding advertising of all kinds.

It won’t be easy I know.  Almost certainly close to impossible, but I will try to get the bar as high as possible and make my assessments as interesting as possible.

I hope you will all enjoy reading the results.


Filed under Advertising, English, Fasting, Getting Published, Journalism, Media, Novels, Writing

i have been ill for a really long time and here is what i have to say about it… I AM BACK BABY!

in the sky there is no distinction between east and west.  without a clock there is no distinction between past and future. people create the distinctions in their minds and then believe them to be true.

illness is a fact of life, a necessary part of life.  i have had more than my share perhaps but less than others.

get through the day

get through the day

there is a time for everything including healing and much of what makes us ill takes its form from our minds.

“once there was a man on a long journey who came to a river. he said to himself: “this side of the river is very difficult and dangerous to walk on, and the other side seems easier and safer, but how shall i get across? so he built a raft out of branches and reeds and safely crossed the river.  then he thought to himself: “this raft has proven very useful to me in crossing the river; i will not abandon it to rot on the bank, but will carry it along with me.”  and thus he voluntarily assumed the unnecessary burden of the raft. can this man be called wise?”

i no longer wish to carry the unnecessary burden of the illnesses in the past and only assume the burden of making it through the day.

and that is what i have to say about my illness…

i will be back now publishing regularly here and with my new project the Viscount’s Table.  thanks to all of you who follow… i appreciate as always your comments feedback and taking the time to read my dribble.

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Filed under 1, Getting Published, Goals, Healthcare, Novels, Writing


Last Week’s Blog:  I Must Be Really Smart

2010 – Twenty-ten


I spend the last couple of weeks of each year thinking about next twelve months and the year just past and what I will accomplish,  what I have accomplished and what I have failed to accomplish.

My goals, of course, are me oriented: me, me, me.  It is important to understand that a person doesn’t necessarily have to be goal oriented in this world to triumph.  The Viscountess is a great example of this.  She never formally commits her personal goals to paper (avoids it like she avoids Boris Johnson downstairs at Stringfellows) and yet she inevitably enters the next year well ahead of where she began it – and so she should – she is brilliant.

I, on the other hand, need goals to focus my attention: to give a me a reminder of what my long term goals are and where I am going, not only next year, but in the next five and maybe even ten years – all depends on what it is and what direction I want to take in my life.



At the moment one of my overall objectives is to become a better and better writer, which on the surface might seem a bit woolly.  It isn’t, actually. The overall goal is sufficiently flexible to take in account the unexpected and infinite things that can happen along the path to achieving  this kind of life project.  One person who I respect and admire very much sets daily ‘intentions’ and then builds from there.  If you have 365 intentions – even small ones – at the end of the year you can make real change to your life.  Constant and never ending improvement: kanai (definitely not a Tony Robbins concept – it’s Deming).

I learned a long time ago that larger goals need to be more flexible – especially when it comes to timing.  Things come and go in everyday life.  It can mean one goal is no longer worth pursuing.

I am learning that a rolling calendar is the best way to plan for goal or intention setting.  Life is too unpredictable for any other kind of hard and fast timeline.  Too many people reach the end of the year with 80% of a goal completed and then just drop it, because the new year has begun and they haven’t finished it.  My advice is that if the goal is worth writing down it is probably worth allowing it to flow into the next year instead of giving up on it.  Most people, I think sadly, give up at the start of the new year and then claim they are never good at achieving any of their new year’s resolutions.

You might not become fluent in French in one year, but you can build on your French from one year to the next and in maybe in five years become fluent.  I learned Spanish that way despite first making it a certain one year goal.  Then a two year goal.  Then I just established it as a very

Edu and his estranged family in Istanbul

Edu and his estranged family in Istanbul

important goal with no exact time frame but, rather, a looser one that would take in account all of life’s uncertainties and still kept it at the forefront of my objectives.  By about the fifth year I was talking fluently (If you are wondering why I  learned Spanish, my reply would be, “How else are you going to talk to the cleaner and the gardener?” – a little joke for my best friend Eduardo and the rest of my Spanish friends).

For those of you who know me, the incredible things I have managed to experience in my life are because I began working hard when I was 12 and I always had a direction.  Unfortunately, the last few years have thrown me a number of curve balls – mainly health – and I have accomplished fewer of my goals than I had planned.   I maintain most of the goals but I have, sometimes by choice, and sometimes by force, had to alter  the dates by which I wish to complete them – but I almost never give them up.

Tenerife Blue Sky

Tenerife Blue Sky

I have worried a lot about losing my Spanish since moving back to England.  Truth be told, I have forgotten a lot, but I remain fluent.  I have completed some goals by the seat of my pants.  This very blog is the completion of my desire to publish 12 pieces this year.  Next year I plan to publish 40 or more.  Not all on writing and philosophers – so those of you who find it a bit dull can relax.

In fact, one of next year’s goals is the publishing of a new blog accompanied by the establishment of a food and conversation group that will go out and about in London to dine and converse.  A few days later after everyone has had time to digest the evening I will ask the club’s members to evaluate the evening and will publish the consolidated results on the new blog, The Viscount’s Table.

Publishing these last 12 pieces, then, is a goal completed.   I have completed reading the books I believe are important (yes, I plan the number of books I read each year in English and Spanish)  but I barely made the goal this year – again just under the wire. (I literally completed my goal by counting the book I finished this afternoon).

I like to classify my goals in an Aristotlean manner.  I have economic goals.  Education, which I believe is a life time project.  Health goals.  Travel objectives.  I even have household goals like myrather successful herb garden which provided us with scads of pesto (about 4 or 5 litres this year), rosemary, parsley, lavender (which the Viscountess insists to all who will listen is a remedy for most ills).  We have also had mint galore, tarragon, thyme… the only thing I couldn’t get to grow well was coriander (or cilantro, depending on the reader).  I put small things and big things on my list of objectives – which I actually call my Schedule of Resolves (tipping my hat to The Great Gatsby and F. Scott Fitzgerald) although the Viscountess still insists the phrase is not properly used (Can anyone hear “pedant” in the back of their head? Well, that is me saying it under my breath as you read).

Eduardo en la casa en los Seychelles
Eduardo en la casa en los Seychelles

I also make goals about relationships.  There are people I want to know better and people I want to know less (I am sure we all face this to some extent).

Eduardo “Edu-ito…” guapete… cuanto te quiero tio… nunca te puedo decir… eres un santo personal para mi.  Pienso en ti y pienso en que bueno se puede ser un ser humano.  Eres mi idolo con un corazon de oro.  Cabezota?  Pues…  si…  pero yo tambien.   No hay palabras adecuadas mi hermano.  Tu apoyo dentro todo los problemas medicas y que se que piensas de mi cada dia me ayuda mucho tio.  Alvaro aunque se parece a veces que te he olvidado, no lo piensas por favor… ni olvido a Miriam nunca, la quiero mucho mucho mucho y es mi chica siempre).

Nicki in Egypt with the Viscountessa

Nicki In Egypt with the Viscountess

I have been lucky to get to know better the Viscountess’ mother, Nicki, better.  She is fabulous and I adore her.  She is the best.

Jules, the sneaky crack whore that she is, is one of the finest friends a person can have – a real, um, jewel – lol… er, alright, gem.

Chez Jules

Actually, gem is not an adjective that shines enough to describe her.

Gregory is perhaps the purest of souls I have ever met and every day I think of him is a better day.  Greg I adore you.

I can think of endless doctors too, who I would love to see less of on a professional basis and spend more time with them on a personal or social basis.  My uncle, who currently, lives in Moldova, was high on my list to spend time with, but he has become ever more the recluse and this hasn’t proved as easy as I thought, but I am not giving up on him.  I have spent a lot of time and money on therapy to try and let people deeper into my life – this goal is coming along fine, but is not yet ready to be checked off.  I have also met lots of people who have been added to the list this year and whom I hope to see here again next year.  I have been very fortunate.

Visc and Ms
Visc and Ms

We all have a person who has brought tremendous change into our lives and improved the quality of each and every day of our life (It doesn’t stand to reason that I am the only person for whom this happens).



One day I will be able to put the words to paper  in a manner and order that will pay sufficient tribute to the person who has brought the most good into my life, but I am not that good a writer, yet.  I, of course, speak of the Viscountess.  She is the first person who ever gave me unconditional love and the first person for whom I ever felt it.  That I can love anyone more than superficially is down to her making me want to be a better person (and a king’s ransom to therapists to deal with my childhood and my family).

It may take awhile, but once you get there...
It may take awhile, but once you get there..

Becoming a better person has brought new people into my life and made is so much richer and brighter and I look forward to many years of their friendship, love and company.  Their good energy is already flowing through me.

All in all if you say goodbye to one year and welcome in the new, and you can honestly say things are better, then it has indeed been a good year.

Thanks to those around me and in my life for making this year better… HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE.  (All photos by the Visc or Visca).

Coat of Arms Hohenzollern

Coat of Arms Hohenzollern


Filed under English, Getting Published, Goals, New Year's Resolutions, New Years, Novels, Writing