I was delighted when Owen contacted me to ask if I would consider hosting a Blog Spot for him for his new book, “Old Friends and New Enemies”. I checked him out on Amazon – a Scottish Author and a new Scottish crime book – too right I was interested!
His new book “Old Friends and New Enemies” is the 2nd in the PI Charlie Cameron series but can be read as a standalone book, my review will follow Owen’s guest blog.
Owen has lived a colourful life and his guest blog focuses on the trials and tribulations of Indie Authors
So over to the man himself….take it away Owen!
Travelling On The Indie Road
Two thousand five hundred years ago, Buddha first explained The Four Noble Truths to his followers. The first Noble Truth was: Life Is Pain so clearly he must have tried to get his book published.
When I lived in London – at the time I was trying to make it in the music business – I asked my manager what made record companies so important.
He was in no doubt. ‘Their money and their marketing machine,’ he said. ‘They can afford to pay for expensive studio time which will be clawed back from royalties. Their size gives them clout: the ability to get the product into shops. They bring their machine; the artists bring their talent. That’s the deal.’
This guy had worked for The Who, Henry Mancini and a year after this conversation, he started with Motown. Later on he went to America to work for Berry Gordy and further down the line, Clive Davis [Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin, Carlos Santana, etc]
I used to meet him in his Motown office in Curzon Street in Mayfair and gawp at the walls lined with gold and silver records – the Supremes, the Temptations, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye. It was a lot of fun and what he said stayed with me.
The similarities between the book business and the music business were impossible not to notice. First and foremost they are in business, which means their main purpose – probably sole purpose – is to make a profit for their shareholders. For a long time I had airy-fairy notions about this that could only have come from someone on the artist side of the table. I didn’t want to accept it was tins of soup: sell the popular ones and reject the rest. But – though there will be exceptions – it is.
As a rule, publishers won’t speak to writers directly. They need to be represented by an agent who effectively becomes their gate-keeper, sifting out anything unsuitable for publication. [a fancy way of saying anything they think isn’t commercial]
So getting an agent is the first big step after writing the book. And it is hard. I read somewhere that 80% of people who self-publish do so because they can’t get an agent. Well, I have had three agents and turned down another two offers. If I told that story I would be here for a week. It is enough to say it was an interesting experience, though often not enjoyable or productive.
My wife, Christine, was witness to the many disappointments. For example, I would send off a re-edit to my agent and months – on one occasion, six months – later get an email telling me how it ‘wasn’t quite right.’ I needed to do this and why didn’t I do that. Remember that at this time I still believed these people understood things I would never understand about what publishers and their customers would buy.
And maybe they did. I’ll never know. I can tell you that too often the changes they wanted me to make were just that: changes. “You say tomato and I say…” I came away thinking they were a shower of b……s and good riddance.
I got very close to packing it in, and even with Christine on at me to go the alternative route I resisted.
Why did I want to avoid becoming an indie author? The answer for me had its roots in that conversation about the music business, and it was a simple answer.
In another life I had been a marketeer, well able to appreciate the enormous challenge of trying to get any product out into the world. Even with a budget, name recognition and industry connections.
Without these it seemed beyond me…but I hadn’t reckoned with the generosity of people. Literally hundreds have helped me: reviewers who took the time to read my books and were able to say some very positive things; bloggers who have given me space to write, reach a larger audience, and become better known; and, of course, book clubs and their members who, again, have been pro-active and supportive of my work, as well as those who spotted the titles on Amazon or Goodreads, or who have followed me on Facebook and Twitter and help drive the many adverts an ‘indie’ author has to produce. It seems they are fine with my ‘tins of soup’.
My fellow authors – too many to mention by name – have also been a constant source of help and hope.
There are certainly aspects of the journey I struggle with. Technology isn’t and never will be my strength but the freedom to make my own decisions and trust my own judgement is re-discovered joy that cannot be under-estimated.
So I keep going, though not the same person who first booted-up the PC and started pecking away. I am less jaundiced, more humble and genuinely grateful to all those who have tried and succeeded in making writing stories what I always imagined it would be.
As for the mainstream, I view them differently now. More sympathetically I guess. Not as a shower of b……. but rather a shower of b……s just trying to make a living.
Insight and forgiveness; tolerance and gratitude! Who knew the Buddha teachings would rub off on me?
Long live indie authors.
“The body on the mortuary slab wasn’t who Glasgow PI Charlie Cameron was looking for. But it wasn’t a stranger. Ian Selkirk had been stabbed through the heart and dumped in the loch.
Suddenly, a routine missing persons investigation becomes a fight for survival as Charlie goes up against a notorious Glasgow gangster. Jimmy Rafferty is ruthless. Even his own family are terrified of him. He wants to use Charlie to get something for him. And Jimmy Rafferty always gets what he wants.
Only one problem.
Charlie doesn’t know where it is.”
My Review: 4/5
Old Friends and New Enemies – gripping, gritty and dark Scottish crime novel that takes the reader from the scenic shores of Loch Lomond to the dark underbelly of Glasgow streets as Charlie comes up against one of the city’s most ruthless gangsters.
I loved Charlie Cameron, as a character he has his flaws but these just serve to make him “real”, he is determined to get to the bottom of things even though it puts his own life in danger. Catching up with an old flame brings grief for Charlie and adds even more grit and drama to the story line.
I hadn’t read the first in the series so did miss out on some of the nuances in the relationships with other characters and the back stories but this did not detract from my enjoyment or reading of the book. I love a book where I feel that I am “in the streets” with the characters and this book gave me that – I honestly felt that I was in NYB with Charlie at times and I have a picture in my head of what it looks like! This is a must in a book for me and Owen achieved it for me!
The book flows well and there is plenty of action and twists to keep the reader enthralled, highly recommended for fans of crime procedurals, thrillers and my favourite genre, Tartan Noir – 4 stars from me!
To buy your own copy of this fab book then head over to Amazon and get clicking!