Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Missing the boat? By Jan Needle

With impeccable timing, my ebook publisher Endeavour Press just told me that my sea novella, The Devil's Luck, is going up for free on Amazon at nine o'clock THIS MORNING!
     Yeah, TODAY.
     They suggested I asked as many people as possible to 'buy' it for nowt, to help it up the freebie ratings. I'm not sure how that helps me, but they say it does. Optimum time for free download algorithm is as close to nine as possible, so if you're feeling bored with toast and Weetabix, please click on the url below. Failing that, do it when you've finished crunching, or any time to suit yersen. And you don't even need a Kindle, I've just learned from this magnificently useful AE site - I've put the link below for people like me who tend not to read instructions. For once, it seems, I haven't missed the boat...
    Missing the boat, however, is a trick I've made into something of an art form over the years. Most spectacularly was when I had a brilliant idea (sez me) for a novel based on The Wind in the Willows. I was lying in a truckle bed in a dosshouse in Dewsbury one Sunday morning, discussing the life and times of Toad and Co with a young lady, as you do. There's some dispute as to who had the idea actually, but we've had children together since, so that hardly matters.
    I'd never written a novel before, so I started it next day and finished it in about a month. Didn't know how difficult it was meant to be, see. When I'd finished, me and her agreed that whoever's flash of brilliance it had been, the result was a towering classic, and would make my fortune (not hers, you notice!) Within another fortnight I'd typed it up, found out who published WiTW, and sent it off to them. Sat back and expected a cheque by return.
     I'd missed the boat. Not by lateness, for once, but rather just the opposite. Methuen told me they liked the book a lot ('Dear Mrs Needle, etc etc') but that Grahame's version was in copyright, and if I went ahead it would cost me dear.
    'But it's nothing like it!' I bleated. 'Toad, Ratty, Mole and Badger are the baddies! The stoats and the ferrets and the weasels are the starving rural poor! It's revolutionary!'
    In which case, they responded, I'd go to prison, as well. Can't have that in a children's book. What would Paul Dacre say?
    'But it's not a children's book! Neither is The Wind in the Willows, are you mad? Some children like and understand it, but it's for grown-ups! Any fule kno that!'
    And so the correspondence ended. Until a few years later when my agent negotiated that I pay the copyright holders a share of my royalties, and Wild Wood went ahead.
    Again, I weirdly missed the boat. Because it was published while Grahame's copyright was still in force, there wasn't an anniversary for the Press to notice. Sadly, anniversaries are the fount of most stories in the newspapers, as you know. Ten years, fifty years, a hundred years? It doesn't matter as long as there's a hook to hang a story on. So Wild Wood was virtually ignored, while the myriad  sequels and follow-ups to WiTW that burst onto the scene when his copyright DID expire were covered wall to wall. I don't think it's sour grapes to say they probably didn't deserve it much.
    Wild Wood didn't die the death, though, and ever since and from every where, people have popped out of the woodwork looking for copies, wondering if they can adapt it for stage, TV and film, saying how much they loved it. And the late, great Willie Rushton's marvellous illustrations as well.
Mr Toad meets Baxter Ferret

    And last week I found out from Julia Jones's Francis how I might get in touch with Rushton's estate, and found myself talking to his son Toby, who I met when I went to Willie's house to talk through the illustrations all those years ago. And Toby remembered the meeting! And had the book in view even as we spoke! And granted me permission to use the pictures!
    All hail the internet! Last time I met Toby he was dressed in tennis whites, as was his father, and they were playing Wimbledon in their front room, on a ping pong table, with glasses of Robinson's Barley Water to hand. Honestly.
     So, with the help of Julia, and my son Matti Gardner (whose mother's idea the book might have been - she lived in Burstall then, 17, Tart's Terrace if you must know), and good old Toby himself, the book will rise again. Certainly as an ebook, possibly as the real thing. Int life wonderful?
     And in the meantime, download The Devil's Luck for FREE and keep the ebook revolution surging ever onwards.
     You know it makes sense!
     Oh, and another thing. Devil's Luck is a kind of a prequel to the first navy history novel I wrote, A Fine Boy for Killing, which the Guardian described thus:        
      ‘A painfully authentic portrayal of naval life in the 18th century. A powerful story of lost humanity…its violent emotions are shattering.’

     That was the first of a quartet of books about a man called William Bentley, which are still in print in America. Fine Boy will be going into ebook about a week after the above-mentioned freebie, done by me and Matti on my imprint Skinback Books.
    After that will come more Bentley books, and more novellas about Charlie Raven, my new hero.
    With good old Mister Toad bringing up the rear.
    POOP-POOP!


The Devil’s Luck

http://amzn.to/18tE1So

Free download app for laptops, etc
http://amzn.to/14RXu45



Skinback Books: http://amzn.to/Hkb6oR



My website: janneedle.com

12 comments:

Chris Longmuir said...

Great post Jan. I've just contributed to your Amazon algorithms by downloading. However the link doesn't bring up The Devil's Luck, I had to do an Amazon search for it. The link brings up your other books eg Kicking Off etc. Try this link, it takes you directly to the buy page for The Devil's Luck http://www.amazon.co.uk/Devils-Charlie-Raven-Adventure-ebook/dp/B00F6CFZM0/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1381828405&sr=1-1&keywords=the+devil%27s+luck

julia jones said...

Got Devil's Luck on my kindle already and am looking forward to it. Thrilled about Wild Wood. We could even PLAN this one ...

Dennis Hamley said...

As you know, I've got Devil's Luck already. Paid for it too! And, as you know, I think Wild Wood is the best, funniest and most readable alternative WOTW ever written. at least 700 times as good as William Horwood's anodyne effort. I bought Devil's Luck but my WW was a gift from Pam Royds, so that shows how far back we go. And it contains one of the two best concealed beer jokes in the language (the other one is from 'The Prince in Waiting' by John Christopher and concerns the sub-standard products of the brewery you grew up with in Hants).

Dennis Hamley said...

And reviewed DL too. Brilliant. 5-star. Also, I meant WITW, not WOTW.

CallyPhillips said...

Yer short link doesn't work. Chris didn't read my help on short links carefull enough or she'd have known that we only need to put in THIS
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Devils-Charlie-Raven-Adventure-ebook/dp/B00F6CFZM0/
much of the link to get to it. So for those who want a quick,free link, copy/past the http:// through to the ASIN number that's the B00F6 thingamy.

Serendipitously (I'm on a brief coffee break before going back to battle my own 18th century demons - I HATE the Hanoverians) it occurs to me that you, Jan Needle, may singlehandedly disprove all theories of marketing/seo and all that malarky, becuase you never has a SCOOBIE what you're doing and yet you sell as many (or more) than lots of us who put more 'effort' into it. Which just goes to show it's about more than writers knocking their pan out doing the marketing. And may, indeed have something to do with content being king after all eh? Write what people want, tell them about it in whatever inept way you have and sit back and hope for the best. That is (I think) the Jan Needle method. Over and out. And if anyone has a good simple explanation of what the hell the Hanoverian monarchy was up to, I'd welcome it.

Catherine Czerkawska said...

Downloaded Devil's Luck and can't wait for Wild Wood!

Jan Needle said...

ooh cally, you say the nicest things. still love you, though. and still can't really understand what you're saying on the technical front. i'm sorry, everyone, about the ineptitude of my linking. here it is again, http://amzn.to/18tE1So That was done through bitly, and it works on emails and so on, so what the thingie?

otherwise, i suppose, you could just go on to Amazon Kindle and type in The Devil's Luck by Jan Needle. It'll still be free, which is all that matters!

as to explaining what the hell the Hanoverian monarchy was up to. for god's sake, cally, we're novelists, MAKE IT UP! xx



Jan Needle said...

Oh, btw. 'The Jan Needle method' Discuss the last word (on both sides of the paper)

Lydia Bennet said...

well what an energetic piece, both books sound great! as you'll know, I did a similar inversion with Pride and Prejudice, again I think my timing's wrong, or something is - yet we have to write the ideas when they come to us!

Reb MacRath said...

Downloaded it and clicked on link for good measure. Am excited but--Jan, can you do anything to stop my Inbox from being FLOODED with FB notices that I've been tagged in relation to the book? About 60 today.

Jan Needle said...

dear reb, that sounds very painful, and very annoying - but i haven't the foggiest idea what to say about it. it hasn't happened to me, so gawd only knows. perhaps you could ask cally. i know she's busy but she always helps me out of my technofailings, even if it makes her weary unto death. sorry again. but as the great bart once said 'i didn't do it!' (more than once said. much much much more than once said...)

lydia. we do, we do. all we can do is hope, i think. and go sailing!

Bill Kirton said...

An exhilarating post, Jan, and with so much promise of more to come. Thanks for Devil's Luck and please let us know when Wild Wood appears.