Why it’s OK to read THE DRAGON IN THE DRAIN even if you’re a grown up

Since THE DRAGON IN THE DRAIN was released a few days ago, feedback from readers has started to trickle in. One of my favourite things that has happened is that people have very kindly sent me pictures of their children reading the book, with that faraway look of deep concentration on their faces that people only get when they’re lost in the magic of a story. For obvious reasons I can’t share those pictures publicly but they’ve been fantastic for me to see as the author. Thank you so much to everyone who has shared those with me.

The other feedback I’ve been getting is from adults who’ve read the book. And some of them are just a little apologetic about it. I know it’s really a children’s book, but …

Actually, it’s just a book. It’s a “children’s book” because when people buy a book (or anything else, for that matter) they generally like to know a bit about it before parting with their hard-earned cash. So we categorise books by genre or age range to give potential readers indicators as to what kind of book they’re going to get. THE DRAGON IN THE DRAIN has young protagonists, and contains no material or subject matter that kids can’t read, so it is categorised as a children’s book. But let me tell you a secret. I wrote it because it’s the kind of thing I like to read. 

Like music and visual media, the way we consume books has changed and continues to evolve. We can still buy print books from bookshops. We can buy print online. And we can buy digital versions of books too. For authors, the rise of digital has also opened up a platform that allows them to get their stories directly to readers without going through the traditional publishing system. The most exciting thing about that as an author is that no-one gets to tell you what you’re supposed to be writing or what will or won’t sell. And as a reader, that means they don’t get to tell you what you can read, either.

But then it isn’t just publishers who like to tell people what they can read. Lots of people have Opinions when it comes to books, don’t they? Not ordinary opinions that they form when they read a book and decide whether they like it or not. Lots of people have the kind of Opinions that are about which books other people should be reading. This book is terrible, that book is badly written, such and such an author’s writing style isn’t up to scratch and so and so’s book is a rubbish story that we shouldn’t enjoy. This book is for children and adults who read it are ridiculous. Funnily enough, most of these Opinions are about books that have sold by the truckload, to people who loved them and didn’t give a fig for Opinions.

The great thing about books is that you can read whichever ones you like. No-one else can tell you what to read, not even publishers these days. And the people with Opinions? Well, another great thing about digital books is that you can read them on a device that also has a headphone socket, and if you plug some headphones into it and turn on your music player, it makes Opinions much more difficult to hear. Maybe next time someone tries to tell you what to read, you should bear that in mind.

Why you should review my self-published book

THE DRAGON IN THE DRAIN was released yesterday, and has had more sales than I could have hoped for, so I’m very happy. Many thanks to everyone who has already bought a copy. And those of you who haven’t, what are you waiting for? The price goes up next week. Get thee to Amazon, quickly. Go on, NOW. You can read this later.

If you have bought a copy, I’m now after something else from you. What the heck? But I’ve already given you 99 whole pence! you might think, or even exclaim aloud if you are that kind of person. What more could an author want from me? Blood?

Fortunately for us both, blood doesn’t come into it. What I want from you now is … a review.

Oh. One of those. Well, they’re a bit tedious to write, aren’t they? And they don’t really make any difference, do they?

Ah! But for independent authors, they do.

Once upon a time, publishers were the ones who decided what people read. Now it’s readers. YOU HAVE THE POWER! But with great power comes great responsibility.

What an independent author needs more than anything – even more than KitKats to fuel their creative genius or lovely new pens with which to perfect their author signature – is eyeballs. Not their own eyeballs (although they’re pretty useful as well) but yours. People’s. EVERYONE’S. They need people to know they exist and be able to SEE their work. Otherwise no-one can buy it. And if no-one can buy it: no KitKats.

Reviews can help visibility and push sales. They give prospective buyers confidence to purchase a book. And many of the great promotional sites that independent authors can use to boost their visibility and reach more readers require a certain number of reviews before they’ll consider promoting your book.

And as well as helping authors, you’d be helping your fellow readers. There are millions of books out there. How do you find the great ones? Word of mouth? Recommendations from your friends? That’s just another type of review.

So if you’ve read THE DRAGON IN THE DRAIN and you enjoyed it – or even if you didn’t – if you can spare a few moments to leave a review on Amazon, I will be eternally grateful. And so will all the other people who might never have found the book without you. OK, that’s not strictly true – they’ll never give you another thought. But you’ll know you did something nice.

And just to make you feel like you got something out of it too, I wrote this post for you twice. Once in the way you just read, and again below – but this time in story form. So don’t say I never give you anything.

The Garden

Once upon a time there was a kingdom that was famous for its beautiful formal gardens. People loved to walk in them, admiring the flowers and foliage, enjoying the scents on the breeze and listening to the insects and birds. The gardens were meticulously landscaped. They were designed and maintained by the Head Gardener, who tended the garden and chose which plants would be grown in the garden for the people to enjoy.

One day, as the Head Gardener was planting some more blue flowers, a young boy approached him. “Excuse me,” said the boy, politely. “The blue flowers are very beautiful, but all the flowers are blue. But could we have some red flowers in the garden as well?”

The Head Gardener chuckled and shook his head. “No,” he replied. “The people are not interested in red flowers. They prefer blue.”

The boy frowned. “But I am one of the people. And I prefer red.”

A woman who had been passing with her husband overheard the conversation and joined in. “Actually, I prefer orange flowers,” she said.

“No,” said the Head Gardener. “You may think you would prefer orange flowers if there were any, but the orange flowers are of inferior quality. I know more about gardening than you and so I have chosen the best flowers for you to enjoy. And the best flowers are blue.”

“Perhaps you do know more about gardening,” said the woman “but you don’t know which flowers I prefer to look at. And I prefer orange.”

“And I prefer red,” said the boy.

“And I prefer yellow,” said the woman’s husband.

The Head Gardener began to get frustrated. “But I am giving you the best flowers there are!” he said. “And not only are they the best quality, but they are the colour that people prefer to look at. I know this because there is are market stalls at the corners of the gardens, and the only flowers people buy are blue ones.”

“Do you sell red ones?” asked the boy, his face eager with hope.

“Well … no,” said the Head Gardener. “Because no-one wants to buy them.”

“How do you know if you don’t sell them?” asked the woman.

“Because I know that people prefer blue flowers,” said the Head Gardener.

The woman tutted. “Are there no orange flowers to be bought anywhere, then?” she asked.

“”Well, people do sometimes send me trays of orange flowers,” conceded the Head Gardener. “Or yellow. Or red. But I don’t plant them, or sell them. Because no-one likes them, you see.”  And with that, he turned back to his work.

“I like them,” said the boy to the woman and her husband. “Maybe we should plant some seeds and grow our own orange, red, and yellow flowers.”

“But if we did that,” said the woman, “when we came to buy the seeds, how would we know which flowers were beautiful and which to avoid? What if some of the flowers turned out to be weeds?”

“Some people might like the flowers that you regard as weeds,” said her husband, and the woman realised he was right.

“But if no-one knew which seeds were the ones they might like and which were the ones they wouldn’t, it would be too confusing,” said the woman. “And no-one would be able to find the good seeds amongst the rest.”

The boy thought for a moment. “But what if we were to tell each other? We would buy the seeds and then, when we found the flowers we liked best, whatever colour they were, we would tell our friends how lovely the scent is and how pretty the petals are. Then they would be able to buy the same seeds and enjoy the flowers too. And our friends would do the same for us if they bought good seeds. And if the flowers were poor, we would warn each other to avoid them.”

So that was what they did. The Head Gardener never did agree to plant or sell red or orange or yellow flowers. So while the people of the kingdom still often stroll through the formal gardens and admire the blue flowers, they have also created gardens of their own. And when they find a flower they love, they tell their friends. 

And the sellers of good seeds and the people who grew the colourful flowers all lived happily ever after.

 

Drum roll, maestro, please … THE DRAGON IN THE DRAIN is out!

Dragon in the Drain Cover High Res

I hear the sound of fanfares, party poppers, fireworks, and champagne corks. Possibly even some raucous singing. THE DRAGON IN THE DRAIN is live on Amazon.

Not only that, but for ONE WEEK ONLY you can get it for the absolute bargain price of just 99 pence!

Share the news, people! Spread the word!

It’s available here if you’re in the UK, or here if you’re in the US. It’s available in lots of other places too, but you’ll have to search your local Amazon yourself if you’re elsewhere. Come on now, I can’t do everything for you.

At the moment, THE DRAGON IN THE DRAIN is only available as an ebook. If you’re chomping at the bit to get your hands on a print copy, please be patient. It’s in progress!

Thank you so much for your support so far, and I hope you enjoy THE DRAGON IN THE DRAIN. If you do, then please – tell me, tell your friends, tell your hairdresser, your postman, your next door neighbours and all your friends on social media. Tell EVERYONE. If you don’t – well, socialising is tiring isn’t it? Sometimes it’s just nice to stay in. On your own.

If you have any queries or comments, you can contact me via all the usual places, or you can email me at hello@janecooperbooks.com.

And now … I’m off for a nap.

 

 

Where’s THE DRAGON IN THE DRAIN?

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve had a few people ask me things like, “Oi, didn’t you say you were publishing a book? So where the heck is it? WAS IT ALL A DREAM?”

These people are beginning to worry (or possibly hope) that they imagined the whole thing.

THE DRAGON IN THE DRAIN is still coming soon. Promise. So what’s the delay, Cooper?

Well, I’ve been writing for years. But I’ve been publishing for never. And what I didn’t know before now is that when you prepare to publish, you create accidental side effects. Without realising, the further you travel down the road that is signposted “Edits”, you change reality and brew certain scientific conditions that are perfect for the replication and rapid growth of a certain kind of virus-like creature. It’s actually frightening how quickly these beasts can get a grip on your life and infiltrate your work. They run amok, leaving your writing battered and bruised. Sometimes they even leave it for dead. The worst thing is, they have the power to blind you to their very existence so you can’t even see them, no matter how hard you look. Then, when you finally believe you’re ready to publish, they cruelly reveal themselves at the very last moment: usually seconds after you’ve saved a file called, “FINAL final draft, definitely final, absolutely without question THIS ONE IS THE FINAL DRAFT!” That’s when they appear. And then they have a party.

Yes. That’s right. When you head towards publishing, no matter how many protective barriers you erect to protect yourself, no matter what convoluted steps you take to keep them at bay, you suddenly find that you’re an expert at something you never even set out to learn at all: breeding typos.

Some of them have probably spawned themselves in the time it’s taken to write this blog post. I’ve already deleted several. But these things have had the same qualities bestowed upon them by the universe as odd socks in washing baskets and plastic carrier bags kept under the sink: they are able to reproduce without human intervention. We are in constant battle to keep invasion at bay. This is serious stuff, people.

So, back to THE DRAGON IN THE DRAIN. It’s currently in the hands of a very experienced, absolutely merciless literary warrior. She is conducting a special purification process that involves hunting down every last critter and expelling it and all its friends and relatives from existence. That’s right. She’s a member of the most remorseless, pitiless, unforgiving group of people in the world: a proofreader.

So, THE DRAGON IN THE DRAIN is in the final stages of scrutiny, and it really is almost ready for release. Stay patient, faithful potential readers. I’m grateful for your stoicism.

Meanwhile, I’ve started writing the next book, which will be a sequel to THE DRAGON IN THE DRAIN. Exciting news! Hurrah! Six thousand words and a mere 476,000 typos so far.

 

Another THE DRAGON IN THE DRAIN teaser: Bonus scene!

Hurrah! Another little teaser for THE DRAGON IN THE DRAIN!

This short bonus scene is an extra, just for you. It doesn’t appear in the book. But it gives you an insight to events that DO take place in the book from a different character’s perspective. But what exactly has been going on?

Gladys Atkins sat at her dressing table and examined her reflection in the chipped white-rimmed oval mirror. She gave her head an experimental wobble; the front left roller was loose again. She pulled out the hair grip, repositioned the roller and re-inserted the pin. That was better. Only when her scalp ached was she satisfied that her rollers were tight enough. She rarely took them out, except on special occasions. If you took them out every morning, you had to put them back in again every night, and she certainly didn’t have time for that. But you never knew when a special occasion might surprise you. It didn’t do to be unprepared. Gladys Atkins had been waiting for a special occasion to surprise her for twenty-five years. She tied a brightly coloured headscarf around her head, tucking the corners in neatly.

It had been a strange breakfast. Last night Gerald had been angrier than she’d ever seen him, and that was saying something. He was a volcano of a man, her husband, ready to erupt with fury at any given moment, without warning. His mild-mannered, newspaper-reading spectacle-wearing persona fooled a lot of people, but it had never fooled her. She knew a wild spirit when she saw one. And she knew that one day he would reveal it and prove her right.

Wilf had been subdued too. At least at breakfast he’d stopped all that nonsense he’d been talking last night. Dragons, indeed. Silly boy. What had possessed him to think he could get away with it? And what had all that hiding behind the curtains been about? She wondered if her son’s friendship with young Alf Lomax had anything to do with it. He’d always seemed a nice enough boy but his mother was very odd. Never talked about her personal life at all, and dodged all the questions about her marriage. There were very few mysteries in Gribble, but that was one of them. Gladys had always made sure she’d been very sensitive when she’d asked Mrs Lomax about how her husband had died, and she had still taken offence. Every time. She was one of those over-sensitive types, Gladys supposed. It was surprising how many of them there were about. He’d died years ago, after all. If you were a widow, surely you had to expect that people would be interested in your story. It was rude, really, to refuse to discuss it. If Gerald died, she’d never stop telling people all about it in great detail. But then she was a generous soul. It was just her nature.

She puckered her lips and applied a slick of red lipstick. She gave her head a final wobble, just to make sure, and then, satisfied that her rollers were in place for the day, rose from the little velvet stool and left the room.

 

 

 

THE DRAGON IN THE DRAIN teaser: What’s happening in Gribble?

If you wander around the village of Gribble, you can pick uGribble Chronicle articlep some interesting clues about what’s going on there. This crumpled sheet of paper blown out of a dustbin behind the local newspaper office is very revealing. This article is a little difficult to read in its original form, so the text is copied out for you below.

RAGING INFERNO ENGULFS VILLAGE SCHOOL

BY BARRY PIGGLESWORTH, JUNIOR REPORTER  

A major fire at the village school has caused mayhem among staff and pupils today.

The inferno, believed to have started under mysterious circumstances in a sports bag situated in a cloakroom this morning, was dealt with courageously by Mr Bertram Splodge, chief fire officer for Gribble village. Mr Splodge, who described his age to our reporter as “still young enough to beat you in a race to the pub, Sonny Jim,” said of the blaze, “luckily for everyone involved, my new Fire Cart 3000 boasts the best technology available and as such is now equipped with a small blanket as well as the regulation buckets of water and sand. That Miss Dagger did try to prevent me from entering the scene of the fire, but I reminded her that once a call has been made, the fire service is obliged to see the job through. She wasn’t very happy, I can tell you, but as I said to her, rules are rules. I had a job to do and I did it, in spite of her sticking her nose in. Oh, you won’t put that bit in the paper, though will you? Not that I’m scared of her of course, nothing like that. But, well, you know what she’s like.”

The Chronicle understands that the fire resulted in Miss Bovina Wishbone’s class being evacuated to the playground and forced to remain there for several minutes. A sports towel was incinerated to such a degree that it could not be saved and several children claimed to be so traumatised that they needed to go home, but were disappointed to be returned to the classroom and told to continue with their fractions. The Chronicle also contacted Miss Mortillda Dagger, headmistress, for her comments on the situation. She said, “For pity’s sake, not this again. Is there no real news to report these days? I don’t know what they pay you for at that newspaper. I hope you’re not taking any notice of that fool and his ridiculous cart. Tell your editor if he doesn’t start minding his own business he’ll have me to answer to and —That’s enough, Barry. Don’t send this to print. Ed.

Fire in the school? Well now. What could possibly have caused that?

Come back soon for more teasers!

 

Not long now until THE DRAGON IN THE DRAIN!

Wow.

So, that’s been an exciting couple of days!

The response to the announcement of the forthcoming publication of THE DRAGON IN THE DRAIN has been amazing. I’m grateful for each and every supportive and encouraging comment, tweet, post and share. Thank you to every single person who has helped me spread the news , and please keep telling your friends. In fact, why not tell people you don’t like, too? They’re not that bad, are they? Be fair. They don’t deserve to miss out.

I’m due to make final edits to the book next week, and then once it’s been formatted it’ll be ready to go. I’ll be sending out an email to my mailing list to as soon as I have a date for publication so sign up to receive the updates!

I’ve been asked a fair few questions over the last couple of days, and a couple keep popping up again and again.

Firstly, people are asking about the reader age range for THE DRAGON IN THE DRAIN, and I’d say the answer to that is probably from about age 8 or 9 and upwards. That’s just a guide of course. I just wrote a book that I would enjoy reading myself, and I’m much older than 8 or 9. But hey, no-one’s too old for dragons, right?

The other question that keeps recurring is whether THE DRAGON IN THE DRAIN will be available as an e-book or a paperback. The answer to that is that it will definitely be available as an e-book and it will also be available as a paperback if that’s what the readers want! The publishing processes are separate, so the e-book will be available first. I’d love people to get in touch and let me know if they would prefer a paperback version (no obligation – I’m just trying to get a general idea of how much demand there would be). You can comment here on the blog, or on my Facebook Author Page,  tweet me at @janecooperbooks, or even email me at hello@janecooperbooks.com if you prefer.

Thanks for your support so far, and I can’t wait to hear from you!

Dragon in the Posh Paws

She looks uncertain, but that’s just because she hasn’t read it yet.

PhotoFunia-1459939959

*Alright, Posh Paws was a dinosaur, not a dragon. Never heard of him? Ask your parents. Or possibly your grandparents.