A sailor’s life it is a merry life
He robs young girls of their hearts’ delight
Leaving them behind to weep and mourn
They never know when they will return

OK, wrong occupation, but never lose an opportunity to recall Sandy Denny’s remarkable singing voice. But is a writer’s life a merry life? I mean professional writers, those that need to earn an income from their travails to put bread on the table. Is it better than flogging into the office for 9am, 48 weeks of the year? Presumably if you are in the top 0.1% of writers (EL James, John Grisham, Danielle Steel etc.) with the world beating a path to your door it can’t be bad.

But 99% of professional authors just scrub along, scribbling away, marketing as best they can, hoping for a break. All are hoping for a publishing deal which rarely comes along. If it does then the author thereafter marches to their tune in return for often crappy royalties.

Increasingly writers are going down the self-publishing route, investing up-front costs in return for cutting out the agent/publisher. Those up-front costs can be minimised by going the e-book route which is commanding a rapidly growing percentage of the book market.

Of course flying solo means you’ve got to do much of the work yourself – the writing of your epic masterpiece is only a small part of it.

Yeah but hey, where’s the free offer? OK, you’ve got to be a Kindle user. Click here and you can pick up, for the next few days, a copy of Catherine Ryan Howard’s Backpacked totally free. Catherine, from Cork City, is one of those hard-working authors making a small living from her work. And she’s not mad, giving away her work. All those free downloads send the book up the charts and hopefully there’s a spin-off in future paid sales. This lady is generous in sharing her self-publishing experiences and tips with others and deserves a bit of success.

Of course, after the struggling professionals come the army of amateur writers, all thinking they’re going to write the next worldwide blockbuster together with film rights. This is a lot more fun as we don’t rely on writing for an income. Of course it’s nice to sell a few and have people not say it’s a pile of poo, but it’s essentially a hobby. And we’re never going to sell loads as the desperation isn’t there. Your book may be good but people won’t buy it if they don’t know about it. And us amateurs just haven’t the time to do all the marketing, networking and plugging on Facebook, Twitter etc. that is necessary in the overcrowded book market.

But it’s nice to see A Jersey Midsummer Tale on the shelf at Waterstones. It’s not quite flying off that shelf yet, or at least my distributer hasn’t been on the phone wanting more copies. WH Smith are slower in getting it out, head office red tape I gather whereas Waterstones’ local managers have more autonomy.

And at last a Bank Holiday Monday when I can pick up Tess of Portelet Manor again. I’m probably half or two-thirds of the way through the first draft. I’m loving writing it and hope to have it out there in the early part of 2013.

And a second free offer – I still have copies of Barry, my first book, to give away. Rugby tackle me in the street or contact me via the contact tab above.