HI-Arts and Writing - by new member Orla Broderick

Many thanks for the opportunity to write here. I am new to blogging so please bear with me. All constructive
'The January Flower' by Orla Broderick
feedback is most welcome.
                Several lifetimes and at least two incarnations ago I was an obese, unkempt, depressed single mother living off benefits in a nice wee house on a fairly safe council estate. I coloured my black hair bright pink for the sole purpose of attracting the attention of Peter Urpeth, then HI-Arts’ Creative Writing Development Officer.
                Pete set tasks for me. Writing tasks like ‘give me 3000 words by the end of next month’ then give me 30,000 words by the end of the year.’ Me and my pink hair jumped through each and every one of those metaphorical hoops. I think we did a good job, but I returned my hair to its natural state and just concentrated on the writing.
                HI-Arts tutored me. As a community they extended a hand of friendship which guided me through the sheer delight of meeting other authors. My dear friend Angus Dunn says (as often as he can) “Oh it’s just so gorgeous to be in the company of other writers.”
Pete and Angus independently pointed me in several, often differing directions. One area their opinions merged was the rise of self publishing via kindle or e-pub and in particular the rise of John Logan. At their suggestion I followed his progress. Then, when HI-Arts offered courses on e-publishing, advice on social media, when HI-Arts provided free on-line advice about audience engagement and development, I soaked it all up. I absorbed it.  
I eventually met John at a conference provided by HI-Arts, the result of which was my decision to self publish in kindle. It makes me feel very brave and avant-garde to have a kindle book that I wrote and produced, for sale on Amazon. It makes me feel much more confident than pink hair ever did.

                I would never have dreamed of electric books but daily I wish there was an easier way for an indie author to make deals with Bertrams and Gardners, the book distribution people. Accounts with bookshops are tricky, in my experience. The business of discounts and who-gets-what is an institution that a debut independent novelist cannot fathom or compete with.
                In my opinion it is a scandal, an outrage and even a sin ( I am Irish and catholic by origin) that HI-Arts’ services have been cut and their staff sacked. They changed my life – for the better.

Orla Broderick, author of The January Flower (councilhousepublishing.com)


Anonymous said…
Welcome - and happy learning.

The web is FULL of nice people who have discovered how to do things connected with self-publishing - and so many of them write about it, and write well.

I've never had the benefit of a program such a you describe, but it sounded wonderful.

Give the blogging a couple of months if that's where your interests lie - if I can do it, anyone can.

CallyPhillips said…
Hi Orla and welcome. You've clearly done something right as I note that you've had 'book of the month' on BooksfromScotland for January Flower and I'm sure they told me 2 years ago that I couldn't list my 'self published' book Brand Loyalty there - have the rules changed or did you just get lucky - or is that the power of HiArts?
At least you've had the benefit of their sterling work and now become an indie (as we all are here) and hopefully you'll see the benefits of peer 'support' to continue in your indie writing/publishing career. Remind yourself that you're one of the lucky ones who got helped/mentored etc and now are in a good position to help others get where you are today!!! At its best thats what indie collectives can do - support each other! As for bookshops. They take 40% And yes, they aren't geared to indie/self publishing types. Maybe someone here will convince you into Createspace for your next novel. Though there are all sorts of other options. But print is far less cost effective for an indie than 'e'. Anwayy, I'm sure you'll find we're all happy (sometimes too happy!) to share our views and opinions with anyone who'll listen, so WELCOME to the Indie pond!
Chris Longmuir said…
I enjoyed your first post, Orla, and welcome to the group. I'd be interested in your experiences of deals with bookshops as well as Bertrams and Gardners. To date I've had 2 individual book orders from Bertrams, and I think I made a profit of about 38 pence on each sale! Ebooks are definitely the best way to go.
glitter noir said…
Welcome and thanks for an enjoyable first post. I worked at one great indie bookstore for years, as the Fiction Manager, and still have nightmares about one pitching session by a major publisher's sales rep. He flipped through a huge binder with covers of new titles, spending as little as 15 seconds each. Flip, flip. Our store buyer nodded off. And your book, or mine, was among the good books that she dozed through. And I remember shredding the covers from thousands of books for store credit. They never even had a chance against the goliaths. But here, in EbookLandia, we do have enormous say about our covers, our promotional copy, etc. So welcome once again.
Dennis Hamley said…
Orla, welcome. That was an interesting post indeed. I must be really ignorant because I'd not heard of HiArts before. And it looks as if it's too late now. In this new world, most good things seem to be trampled on in the end. But you'll find AE a wonderful community, the sort of thing everybody ploughing this lonely furrow needs.
Dan Holloway said…
Welcome on board!
madwippitt said…
Dennis stole the words right out of my mouth! Ditto!
Hi Orla,
Great to see your first post as a member of AE!
And yes, sad that it has come to this for HI-Arts after what I believe was 20 years of service.
Sign of Times indeed.
All best,

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