Pandragon Dan

Pandragon Dan


Top Five Tips - Reasons NOT To Self Publish

As I’ve said on many occasions, I am a self published writer – and I love it. I love the way that I am in control of how I want to write, distribute and publish my books. Whilst I am sure having an agent and a publisher would be a great help to me, I feel that I’ve accomplished more by publishing myself than I would have if I had either of the two things. Mainly because I have faith in my project and producing it the story the way I wanted it to go, without it having been changed to conform to any current trends in the book world.


You may be thinking, if I love it so much, why I am doing a blog post advising against it? Short answer – I’m not! In fact I openly encourage any author to try it as there is more ways to publish your book than ever these days. That being said, there are certain dos and don’ts that follow with self publishing – and today I’m looking at the DON’TS.


These are five ways of thinking that I don’t think any author should go into if they plan to self publish as, if you follow these lines of thinking, you will fail pretty quickly. If you’re just going to self publish for fun, fair enough, you probably don’t need to read any further. But if you are SERIOUS about making a go of being a self published author, then these are the thoughts that you must banish quickly if you think to succeed.


Like with any of my Top Five Tips, this list is purely based on my own experiences of being a self published author and these are all five things that I myself believed when I was younger. Believe it or not, I actually had another book out before Trapped on Draconica called Satopia – which I believed would be the next big thing. But I was young and naive back then and didn’t have a clue what I was doing, so the whole thing went wrong and today I don’t really like to talk about that novel as it was, in my eyes, a failure. But I also know that part of that was done to my complete lack of understanding of the writing world. These days I’m a little wiser – I’m a long way off from being a famous writer, but at least now I have a better understanding of what I need to do. The best I can do is warn other new writers out there of the dangers and hopefully they won’t make the same mistake I made.


I should also like to point out that this list is NOT intended to discourage new writers, but rather give them a heads up as to what to expect.



1. Self publishing is easy to do and I’ll get a lot of sales


With so many companies out there offering ways to publish a novel (such as Createspace, Lulu, Amazon, Smashwords, etc), it’s easy for a new author to think that once print or upload their masterpiece, all they have to do is play the Waiting Game until the cash comes through. But let me tell you, if this is all you do, you will be playing this game for a LONG time! The companies I’ve listed above are simply means to get your book uploaded or printed – they are not selling tools.


Here is the hard truth – you’re a new writer. You’ve never put out a book before. Why should anyone, outside of your friends and family, buy your book? If a regular reader comes across a choice of your book, or that of a more established writer, which one do you think they will choose? I’ll give you a hint, it probably won’t be you. But that doesn’t mean that you’re not a bad writer – readers are more likely to go with what they know than something they aren’t sure about. As the old saying goes ‘Better the devil you know, then the devil you don’t’.


That being said, maybe you’ll get lucky and one person will buy a book and love it so much that they tell their friends about it and it becomes a huge hit. But the chances of that are small and you can’t rely on just that alone.


The solution? You need to promote your book where you can! Wherever it’s blogs, Facebook, Twitter, approaching shops, review sites, whatever. You need to bust your ass to get people to hear about your book and try and convince them to buy it. How you go about advertising it is up to you – there are no real right or wrong ways to promote a book in my eyes, but some work better than others. If I can give one bit of advice on this subject, what I would recommend that if you use Twitter, if you get a new follower, don’t DM them straight away giving them a link to your book. I get this all the time on my Twitter and it gets on my nerves – and others usually feel the same as well. Leaving a link to your website or any other page on your Twitter profile is usually enough and if people are interested, they will check it out.


Long story short, self publishing is not easy – but the rewards are great if you work at it.



2. Self publishing will make me rich


Short answer – no it won’t! For all the reasons listed above. Authors like Terry Pratchett and Stephen King may be raking it in money wise, but that’s only because they worked hard at it for years to get where they were. And even J.K Rowling wasn’t a major success at first and had to gradually build up a following. Maybe your book will make you millions – but you shouldn’t go into self publishing thinking that as you will only end up disappointed if it doesn’t.

Self publishing is not a get rich quick scheme, so don’t think of it as so. If you want to get rich, get yourself a high paying sales job and be a first class seller – you’ll be better off trying to get rich this way than publishing.



3. All my friends and family think that I’m a great writer


When I hear these words, I cringe. Mainly because I can automatically see where this is going!


Now don’t get me wrong, there is NOTHING wrong with getting support from your friends and family – in fact I think those things are important in life. Your friends and family should support you during your writing career, or through life in general. But, with all due respect, are your friends and family alone going to make you a famous writer? Unless you have a thousand friends that buy a thousand copies of your book, sadly I’d have to say no.


But unfortunately, many novice writers do rely on their friends and family for praise of their work and, in my experience, this tends to lead to overinflated egos. They get so much praise from their loved ones and five star reviews on Amazon (or whatever) that they truly believe that they are a god amongst writers. And, inevitably, once they get their first negative review, they become overly aggressive – sometimes even attacking the reviewer. I think the reviewers of the website Big Als Books and Pals can relate to this when they reviewed the book The Greek Seaman over a year ago, giving it a negative but critical review, and the author lashed out at them online. In the end, all it did was show that she was unable to take criticism and I think she is now regretting her outburst!


When you decide to be a writer (or any form of expressive art for that matter) you have to be prepared to take criticism as not every review you get will be a good one. Friends and family are great, but they will generally be overly positive of your work because they want you to succeed. I’m kinda lucky in this respect in that I always get my father to read my novels when they are done and he reads them as a reader – not as my father. He can sometimes be a little harsh in his criticism, but it is always fair and I do listen to him.


That’s not to say that you can’t use friends and family to promote your work. Word of mouth is a great selling tool. Get your friends to tell their friends about your work, and then tell their friends, and their friends, etc! When Trapped on Draconica came out, my parents did this and I actually got some decent sales out of it. I even got some sales from people who weren’t my friends in the long run.


The point I’m trying to make is that you shouldn’t always rely on your friends and family for praise of your work. You need to be level headed – critical and open minded to criticism. This way you won’t take it so personally if you get a bad review.



4. Self publishing is a back door to getting an agent or publisher


I think this probably used to be the most common way for people to self publish – and indeed, there were a few self published authors that did get a publishing contract this way. Christopher Paolini being one of them. But, if truth be told, this happens very rarely – like once in a blue moon!


You might think that if you self publish you will get an agent to recognise your work and be offered a massive publishing contract – but this doesn’t really work. Agents normally get hundred (or thousands) of submissions from authors that are asking them to represent them and they just don’t have the time to go out looking for new authors unless there is something about them that catches their eye. So if you go into self publishing with this idea (like I did), then you’ll be disappointed.


That being said, I do kinda find this method of self publishing a little hypocritical. As I said earlier, the advantages of self publishing is that you are in control of your own project. If you get an agent or publisher, you will have to relinquish control of that somewhat to fit in with their publishing guidelines. You have to ask yourself, would you be prepared to do that after being in control of your own work for so long?


My opinion is that if you’re really good at selling your own book then you don’t NEED any of these things. If you really want to get a publisher or agent then that’s great. But don’t use self publishing as a “back door” as you’ll be waiting a long time (possibly forever) for this to happen.



5. I just want to self publish as it’s the current trend at the moment

Yes, there are plenty of people out there that get into writing just because it seems to be popular at the moment. But not just writing, music, art, poetry, acting, the list is endless. There are loads of people who get into something just because it looks cool.


Personally, I have never been fond of these “creators”, because for me, art in any form should be a personal expression – a love of a certain genre or feeling. The best artists (which included authors, musicians, artists, actors, poets, the list goes on) are the ones who don’t try and conform to any trends and write from the heart. Those who just do it because it’s cool just end up churning the same mediocrity that is overly clichéd and dull. And this doesn’t just go for self published authors – but even some in the mainstream. Ok, J.K Rowling isn’t my favourite author, but at least she writes because she loves it (and hopefully still does despite her fame).


For me personally, I write because I love telling stories – and I tell stories that I myself would want to read. Occasionally, I do take inspiration from certain characters and other writers, but I would never willingly conform to any trends within the genre. I have no interest in making millions and millions of dollars from my writing – just enough for me to live. I know that if I work hard enough then I will achieve it and I hope that any anyone that enjoys creating art will make it.


I don’t mean to sound angry – I just get frustrated when people that churn out the same crap get the attention and people who put their heart and soul into it get overlooked. However, that being said, there are plenty of artists out there in the mainstream that I have respect for and did actually make it because of their love for their art – so I know it is possible.


I guess what I’m trying to say is, write because you want to, not because you HAVE to. Self publish because you want to share your works with the people, not because you want to be famous. Self publishing is a way for unknown authors to finally share their works – we should be able to use it in that way.



Phew! I just realised how preachy that last comment sounded, so I apologise for that. I just get passionate about these things – so I hope I didn’t overstep the mark.


Again, I want to assure you all that this list is not intended to discourage any new authors who wish to self publish. I just believe you need to go into this understanding what you are getting yourself into and not end up making a hash of it like I did. I also want to assure people reading this that this email is not intended to discourage those who want to try and get published the traditional way. Whichever way you want to try and get published, I wish you all possible success in your endeavour.


Please feel free to comment below if you found this helpful or not. I welcome all comments. Thanks for reading!




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Why I'm looking Forward To Game of Thrones Season 2

In just a few short days, Game of Thrones season 2 airs on our TV screens. And let me tell you I am PUMPED for this show to start! Ever since I first saw the first series of Game of Thrones (and read the first book in the series), I was instantly hooked on this program. I can honestly say it was one of my favourite new series of last year, along with Treme and Boardwalk Empire.


What I loved most about season 1 of Game of Thrones was how true it remained to the book. It followed the story exactly and only very rarely made changes to the plot. That is what a good adapation should be in my eye - it should be close to the original story as much as possible and not try and screw with it in any way. The world of Westeros was perfectly imagined, the casting was brilliant and I have to give praise to the child actors - they all played their roles perfectly. And I loved the armour and costume designs.


Now seeing as I'm on book 4 of the series, I already know what's going to happen plot wise (but I won't spoil anything). I'm just interested to see how they handle it and whether they stay as true to the second book as with the first one, seeing how in the second book the action hots up!. From the early impressions I've seen, it all looks good. The casting of all the characters looks pretty spot on - with the possible exception of Stannis Baratheon. I kinda imagined him being a much bigger and stockier guy and I'm not sure the actor they got was a perfect match. That being said, I'm not going to pre-judge anything and just gonna take it as it comes. I am, however, interested to see how they do the battle scenes - as their are some truly epic fights in the second book!


If I go on, I'd risk putting in spoilers, so I'll stop there. Let me just say that I have been looking forward to this show since the beginning of this year (and even since the end of season 1 last year) so I am hoping that I won't be disappointed. But seeing as it's HBO, I don't think we are in any danger.


Let the Clash of Kings begin on April 1st! (April 2nd for the UK).




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Right Side, Left Side - A Guest Post By Benjamin X Wretlind

Today I'm joined by Benjamin X. Wretlind, author of the excellently disturbing Castles: A Fictional Memoir of a Girl With Scissors (click on the picture below to see my review of it), with a very interesting guest post on the subject of both sides of our brains. Hopefully it will give you all food for thought! Enjoy!

Right Side, Left Side (or Multitasking the Dinner Plate)

By Benjamin X. Wretlind


There have been, at different times in my life, three or four or even five different novel ideas competing for attention. In March 2006, I tried to analyze how to deal with this mess. The following is a post I made on my original blog (with some tense changes here and there). I bring it up now simply because I find it ironic to read just one day after finishing Phillip K. Dick’s A Scanner Darkly.



Multitasking the Dinner Plate


Allow me to present you with this poor analogy. Pretend you’re sitting at the dinner table with prime rib in front of you. You’re offered a creme brulée and bottle of Dom Perignon. While the meat is good, you’re tempted to let the other two objects make love with your taste buds just as much. Yes, they compliment each other as a whole, but each one has a unique flavor that demands attention, not haphazard scarfing or slurping.


As a child, I ate my food in a specified order (usually clockwise). Peas never made contact with rice, steak sauce didn’t touch mashed potatoes and the last thing on my plate was the flavor I wanted to keep in my mouth the longest. As I grew older, I abandoned this approach and learned to combine the flavors of different foods on my plate by multitasking.


However, I still have my priorities: the main course is generally consumed in multiple mastication sessions, while complimentary dishes are taken care of in one or two. This is how I eat, and it is balanced.


However, my writing life has bounced between two extremes: multitasking to the point of never completing anything, and working on one thing only for months at a time. The former extreme is just plain bad for business and the latter results in a loss of focus. When a bunch of novel ideas compete with each other in my head, I wonder if my approach should not lean more toward a balanced combination of multitasking with more emphasis placed on the project I feel the most connected to at the time. After all, it’s all about focus.



Fixing the Focus Issue


There are exercises to combat loss of focus, but most of them are related to some aspect of project management in the business world. They are not easily transferred to the uninhibited creative mind; in other words, the right side of the brain cannot form strategies (i.e. the path to completion of a “real” project), or break down a project into component tasks. Our right side is often exercised in areas that are contrary to compartmentalizing our creative efforts. It does, however, explore possibilities. Within these possibilities, strategies can be analyzed, and eventually goals can be achieved.


If we subscribe to the notion that novels are projects, and writing them is a career path, then managing the creation of these novels should be no more difficult than managing a software development project or a large defense contract. I’m not saying we apply Critical Path Analyses or Gantt Charts to them, but there are tools that might effectively guide projects to completion without losing focus. To do this, though, we have to assign “novel writing” to the left side (or logical portion) of the brain and infuse creativity into what can now be called a managed project.


I’ll back up for a moment. As some of you know, I used to be a meteorologist and often used a managed process and creativity to analyze the state of the atmosphere at a given time to forecast what the state will be in hours, days or weeks. I was also, for about three years, a project manager and interface designer of prototype climatological Internet applications for the Department of Defense. Software developers who might be reading this are usually guided by requirements documents and shudder at the idea of “creativity.” Damn you for thinking outside the box, and such. As a meteorologist who developed software, though, I had a unique point of view while managing these projects at work: I could insert creativity into the regimented software development process without fear of reprisal. Things got done, and there was much rejoicing in the land.


If I were to turn that around, though, and attempt to apply a managed process to what I feel should be a strict creative expression, I would ultimately lose focus and feel my creativity is being stunted by the logical progression of the requirements document. Timelines would be missed, and although a project might see fruition, it would not do so in an ordered fashion. The end result would be a pretty-looking piece of crap.


So if the first approach to managing projects at work was successful, I wondered: why can’t I apply this principle to writing novels? Why can’t I insert creativity into a managed task?


The answer is: I already do it, and so do you. Yes, the right side of our brain cannot accept guidelines; that’s the hemisphere that, when presented with the order “Stay within the lines,” will translate it into “What would my picture look like if I melted this burnt sienna crayon on the paper and used a tongue depressor to push it around?” And yet, we use our left side to force our creative expressions into linear patterns, to use words, to see order (exposition, conflict, rising action, climax, denouement), and to understand grammatical rules that we adhere to religiously. Combining the two hemispheres allows us to ultimately create something that is accessible to others.
Writing is a managed process infused with creativity.



The Man With Two Brains


When a writer loses focus on a project, there must be a breakdown in one or more of the functions of the brain required to create. I argue that the creativity is not lost here. It is, instead, writhing around in pain in the right hemisphere, unable to cross the corpus collosum–the bundle of nerves that connect the two sides of the brain–and guide the logical process of the left hemisphere. A writer’s focus becomes blurry at this point. He or she attempts to force creativity through the left side or tries to push some managed process through the right. The writer wants to believe that his or her work is a strict creative expression. Headaches ensue and projects suffer.
Roger Sperry, a Nobel Prize winner, conducted a study regarding the vast differences in the way the two hemispheres of the brain react to the world around a person. These “split brain” experiments laid out, in so many terms, what each hemisphere is capable of doing. More importantly, he characterized the need for synchronicity between the two hemispheres in the creative process:


Communication between the two hemispheres of the brain is essential if our creative efforts are to be well integrated in many dimensions . . . Indeed, when the halves of the brain exchange their disparate experiences, pool their viewpoints and approaches, the resulting synthesis brings . . . a whole symphony of talents. (Sperry, R. W. (1975) Left-brain, right-brain. Saturday Review. Aug. 9, pp. 30-33)


With all that said, I offer myself this analysis: in order to complete a project, we must break it down into its component parts, assign a logical progression of plot, and finally allow our creativity to guide the words that come from our left hemisphere. If we do this–assign novel writing to the logical side of the brain and treat it as a project to be managed like any other project and broken down into manageable tasks–we can allow the creative brain to explore deeper, imagine more, dream larger. The stronger the right hemisphere becomes, the more clout it has with the left hemisphere.


In short, we must have two brains, and they must like each other.




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Thanks to Benjamin for the extremely interesting guest post, which I hope was equally as helpful to you guys. More guest posts to come in the future!


AUTHORS: Want to contribute a guest post? I am always welcome to any author who wants to post on my blog. Please contact me at to discuss.


Until next time.




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Anime Conventions I Will Be Attending (So Far)

Hey guys. I know I promised you all some teaser artwork from my upcoming sequel Legacy of the Dragonkin and I haven't forgotten about it. In fact I do have some artwork ready - but I just feel that posting these would give spoilers away for those who haven't read Trapped on Draconica yet. And I don't know about you guys but I don't like spoilers, so decided to hold back on them for a bit. I will post them when they become available.


In the meantime, I'm pleased to let you guys know that I'll be attending a couple more conventions this year, which I am excited about. The first one will be the second London Anime Con on June 30th - July 31st (see my previous post HERE to see how that went), whereby I'll be selling paperback versions of Trapped on Draconica AND (for the first time) paperback versions of The Wandering Valkyr and my upcoming prequel All Hail Emperor Gothon. I also have a special sketchbook planned for the event that includes sample artwork for the book and some teaser artwork for later stuff.


The second convention I'll be attending will be Anime Attacks at the Gateshead Library, near Newcastle. This event runs from the 13th - 14th July and I will be attending on the 14th, again with copies of my book Trapped on Draconica. I will also be hosting a special Q&A session and workshop based around my book - which I'm looking forward to.


To check out these events, click on the links below to be taking to their website/facebook page.

If any are in those areas on either of those days, please pop over and say hi! And don't forget to check out the other great events that are taking place that day!


Thanks for reading! On Wednesday we have another special author guest blog!





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Read2Review Easter Egg Treasure Hunt - Day 25

Hey guys and welcome to Day 25 of the Read2Review Easter Treasure Hunt. For those of you who have been following the treasure hunt will know the score by now. But for those of you who have only just seen this and are coming into it not sure, please check out the previous Easter Treasure Hunt posts and full details of the massive giveaway that we currently have going on!




As part of the Grand Prize Giveaway, I have donated a paperback copy of my book Trapped on Draconica, along with a 1 page Omake (bonus mini comic) and a signed piece of artwork from Alexis M Centeno – the artist of the novel.

To be in with a chance to enter, check out the previous posts (linked above) and collect 39 letters hidden from the various sites during the tour. Those of you who have been following the treasure hunt will probably have found many of the letters already, but if you’re starting from scratch then you’ve still got time to catch up.

For this part of the competition, click on the egg below and search the website to locate the secret letter, written in RED.

But wait, I hear you cry, MOST of the writing on the website is done in red! Well, you didn’t think I was going to make this easy for you, did you? Lol! You’ll have to browse through the pages to locate the letter, but don’t worry – as I’m a generous soul, I’ve left an “eggecellent” clue as to where it’s located.


In addition to that, I am also offering a very special min-giveaway on this very site – a Trapped on Draconica T-shirt! (Picture below is just for reference – actual colour of T-shirt may vary).

To be in with a chance to win this T- riffic prize (that joke sounded SO much better in my head!)  then please browse the website (by following the egg link) and then answer the following questions:


1) How many characters (not including the face in the background) are there on the cover of Trapped on Draconica.

2) On The Wandering Valkyr cover, what colour are Selena’s eyes? (She’s the one with the purple hair).

3)    (You’ll need to go to the Artist’s Dan Has Worked With link to answer this one). In the picture in Alexis M Centeno’s profile page, what is she dressed as?


Send your answers to (or send an email from the Contact page on the website) posting Easter Giveaway in the subject heading. DO NOT post your answers in the comments below. Winners will be selected at random after the date of 8th April, whereby winners will be contacted by Email to request address and sizes. ONE T-shirt per entry.


Thanks for taking part guys and hope you will take an opportunity to check out the other posts for this great competition. Be sure to follow all the future posts. Thanks to Kate at Read2Review for this amazing opportunity.





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