Thursday, 30 June 2011

New Facebook page for The Drought!

With the impending release of my debut novel, The Drought, I have set-up a Facebook page for fans. Just go to www.facebook.com/TheDroughtBook and give the book a "Like"!

Advice for Indie Authors: You do judge a book by its cover!

Advice for Indie Authors: You do judge a book by its cover!
I read with interest an article last week about the research conducted by HP that claimed digital book printing is greener than offset. The comments that followed the article threw up some interesting debates; such an argument that the research only applied to short-run jobs, and what would the carbon footprint comparison be against eBooks?

This sort of research is only good news for the print-on-demand market, and particularly the self-publishing houses that are able to churn out tens of thousands of copies of books each year at the click of a button.

I would also like to think whatever side of the fence you sit on, when it comes to book printing, most printers should be fairly confident of getting it right when printing black text on white paper.

But what about the book cover? This has to be a slightly different discussion. In spite of the well-known saying don’t judge a book by its cover – surely that is the first thing a consumer does when they pick up a book. The quality of the cover and the quality of the printing has to come into play.

I have realised over the last three weeks just how important the cover is. Working closely with Jacqueline Abromeit, Art Director at Pen Press, has shown me that the design of the cover is vital. After nearly two years and 90,000 words later, I am on the verge of becoming a published author, and the last thing I want to do is put people off by the cover.

“You really cannot tell if a book is well written or if you will enjoy reading it by looking at its cover,” Jacqueline said. “Still, we need a book cover to communicate with us. And of course, like all packaging, it should help to sell its contents by appealing to its targeted audience. Never try to please everybody – it is not possible!”

Doing some research in the printweek.com archives, I found an interesting story from last year on how publishers are now looking at different printing techniques to make sure their books stand out on the shelves.

As an indie author without the backing of a big publisher behind me, having a cover design service like the one offered by Pen Press has been a huge benefit, as Jacqueline has always been on hand to offer advice when needed, and to make changes and recommendations.

“At the very least it should clearly inform us of the book's title, author and genre,” Jacqueline said. “The cover should intrigue the potential reader into picking up the book. Something that is even more important for the unknown author who doesn't yet a have faithful following, or the famous name to attract attention. And then there is this other line – a picture says more than a thousand words.”

This blog was originally posted on printweek.com

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Dan Schreiber - I'm not worthy!

Dan Schreiber: One funny dude!
Diary of a stand-up comedian Entry #23
I'll keep this post short and sweet as it's late and I want to go to bed! But I have just got back from a gig at The Old School Yard - part of the Comedy Bin circuit - where you perform in the downstairs room, which by all accounts used to be the cellar and still smells like one! But once you get past that it is actually a nice venue and there was a good crowd in hand.

But one guy stood out last night and unfortunately it wasn't me! It was a guy called Dan Schreiber. It was the first time I have seen Dan, but he was slick, professional, and very, very funny.

The bastard!! :)

Monday, 27 June 2011

The Drought goes to press!

Steven Scaffardi, The Drought, Stand Up Comedy, Stand Up Comedian, Comedian, Comedy, Lad Lit, Chick lit for men, funny books,
My debut novel has gone to press today! Nearly two years after completing the first draft - and several re-writes later - it is now only 8-10 weeks before The Drought will be available to the world as a print and eBook version through online outlets such as Amazon!

Big. Sigh. Of. Relief.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Nick Sun is crazy part 2!

Recognise anyone? Back wall at Rudy's
Revenge - does the character on the
right look familiar?
Diary of a stand-up comedian Entry #22
After seeing Nick at Laughter Lung last month, I wasn't too sure he would be able to top his craziness... But he did! This time it was at Rudy's Revenge in Holborn, promoted by Five Minutes of Fame.

During his set, he was attempting to read someones mind by placing his hand on top of an audience members head. But his attention switched to a lady sitting in the audience who he had overheard whisper to her friend that she was bored.

What followed was nothing short of outrageous! Nick decided he would read her mind by bascially shoving his hands down his trousers and rubbing his genitals. Oh, and then he rubbed his hand on her face!

To say there was an element of shock in the room would be an understatement, and it wasn't really a surprise when Nick left shortly after his set! However, it gave me a bit of material...

On the back wall of Rudy's Revenge, behind where the comedians perform, are a series of cartoon characters that have been painted on to the wall. One character happens to look a little Oriental with big black hair, and his hand shoved into his pocket.

I think you can probably guess how I opened my set this evening... Thanks Nick!

June 6-13 comedy round-up...

June 6-13 comedy round-up...
Diary of stand-up comedian Entry #21
Three Comedy Bin gigs so far this month, but not too much to report. I was at The Carnivale on June 6, and then performed at Alchemist on June 8, before last nights gig at The Bowery on New Oxford Street.

Comedians who have made me laugh over the last three gigs include the likes of Matthew Griffen, Johnny Armstrong, Tim Rivett, Oliver Noakes, Alan Sellers, and Michelle de Swarte.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Advice for Indie Authors: Are we there yet? Nearly!

Advice for Indie Authors: Are we there yet? Nearly!
Genuinely exciting moments can unfortunately be few and far between in your working and professional life. The clock hand hitting 5.30pm on a Friday is one of those moments, and having a vending machine that actually serves something that resembles coffee is another.

But neither of these two come close to raising the excitement levels I experienced this week. Despite my sarcasm, I did actually feel an overwhelming sense of exhilaration, as in the past week I have received both the final edited draft of my manuscript and the first draft design of my book cover from Pen Press. This is really happening!

In the past couple of months, my experience of working with Pen Press has been first-rate. I won't sugar coat it – I had absolutely no idea of how to get my work professionally edited, let alone get a book cover with blurb created. These services are immensely helpful, especially as you have a dedicated representative from Pen Press to talk you through both of these elements to make sure you feel involved during these important production stages.

But then it started to dawn on me. What is the point of being a published author if no one actually bothers to buy the book? It’s not like I have the marketing weight of the likes of JK Rowling behind me.

So what am I dealing with here? In an earlier blog I pointed out that one self-publishing company had published work for 1.1 million people over the last decade, and that doesn’t even take into account traditional published work. Check out these stats from Wikipedia to give you an idea of the minefield I am about to step into! These are pretty daunting numbers to contend with!

But there is hope. Stories of self-published authors achieving successful sales are becoming more common now than you might think. Just last month, Mel Comley, a UK-born self-published author of the Impeding Justice series of crime novels, signed a contract with the respected New York literary agent Richard Curtis.

Mel said: “It's been eight months of hard work, 14-16 hour days of writing and promoting my novels. But it was all worth it as I have now achieved 20,000 sales and obtained the services of one of the top agents in New York. Plus, I still have agents contacting me weekly on both sides of the pond.”

Hard work is certainly the key to success. There doesn’t really seem to be a magic formula, except to write great novels that people want to read. Without self-publishing, Mel might not have ever been discovered.

Earlier this year in March, PrintWeek published a special issue on books. Digital was once again the buzzword when it came to examining the growth of this market.

TJ International was ranked 11th in the UK book printers league table, and their managing director, Angus Clark, echoed the praise for digital book printing by saying: “Digital is our biggest growth market and we believe digital book manufacturing will continue increasing at phenomenal rates.” Further evidence for this growth came in the shape of the on-demand books feature in the same issue.

So now I have an edited manuscript, a book cover and blurb, and at the click of a finger I have a novel ready to be unleashed to the world via on-demand printing. Don’t you just love technology!

This blog was originally posted on printweek.com

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Did anyone see Banksy in the area?

Banksy, art, graffitiComing back from a work meeting last year, I was waiting at a local train station in the Southampton area and noticed this piece of modern art. I'm not an expert, but I think this has a certain bit of Banksy flair about it...! Aaah, the youth of today!