I’ll never be as popular as a baby panda!

These days, being an author is about so much more than just writing an actual book. Our job description now also includes working tirelessly at building our online presence.

But in trying to gather followers on all my various social media platforms, I’ve had to face up to some cold, hard facts. I will just never be as loved, followed and popular as this baby panda.

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Because no matter how much blogging I do, no matter how many color-coded and carefully curated photos I take of myself holding a book, sipping a cappuccino and sporting a pair of literary themed hipster socks in a desaturated filter, I’ll just never be as popular as this fluffy black and white thing. No matter how many hashtag-vomits I send out into Twitterland, or pseudo-humble posts I write on Facebook that are meant to boast about my latest achievements without looking boastful, I’ll still never be as popular as this fluffy kitten dressed as a frog.

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I won’t even be as popular as this ugly, angry little Chihuahua that looks like it needs to be tossed into a vat of holy water.

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And as for this revolting Easter surprise from the fiery pits of demon infested hell…?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Nope. Still not as popular.

In fact, everywhere I look the internet is being taken over by viral animals. Angry hamsters, grumpy puppies, discontented dormice and moody marmosets?

Well, I am fighting back! Humans are being forcibly pushed aside in cyber -space and replaced by  small fluffy things, or scaly reptiles wearing head attire. This is speciesism, and is as unacceptable as sexism and any of the other ism’s.  That is why I have decided to start an organization called, “POOVA” People Opposed to Online Viral Animals.

POOVA1

It’s time for us humans to take back our power and stand up to sentiments like,  “You wrote some books, SO WHAT, this baby panda sneezed and scared its mom and that’s why it deserves ten million more Likes than you!”  

It’s time for us to realize that we can be just as cute and angry and confused and scared of cucumbers as these animals are.

 

Let’s stand up to these online animal usurpers and take back our power today. Share if you support the POOVA movement. And post a picture of yourself being just as good as those online animals.

 

*Jo Watson is a multi-award-winning author of romantic comedies. Her book Burning Moon is coming out in August this year and will be translated into French, German and Italian. Her books have been read over 18 Millions times online on Wattpad and she is represented my Erica Spellman of the Trident Media Group. You can pre-order her book here.

http://www.amazon.com/Burning-Moon-Jo-Watson-ebook/dp/B01ARXVTE0/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1461057653&sr=8-1

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vampires vs Books

VS

There are several surprising similarities between your book and the dark, clandestine Nosferatu.

  1. Let’s start with the fundamentals. Vampires are bloodsucking, demon soul usurpers. They suck you dry and bleed the life out of you. Just like your manuscript! If you’re anything like me, you will have experienced that moment in which the book you are busy working on feels like it’s killing you- slowly and painfully. It sucks every last drop of blood and energy out of you. It steals your soul and leaves you creatively broken and wanting to plunge a stake into your own heart.
  2. Vampires are immortal, and so is your book once you send it out into the world. It will live on forever in some or other form. This can be a good thing, or a bad thing. I often wonder how many authors cringe and hold their heads in embarrassment at the sight of their less than eloquent first novels? Moral of the story, don’t write a crappy first novel! 
  3. Vampires can disappear into thin air, and so can your book when you’re faced with an impending deadline and your computer decides to crash! Never underestimate the cruel, conniving intentions of your Mac or PC. They are out to get you, especially when you’re racing against the clock. In fact, they seem to know exactly when you are panicking and that’s when they strike. (Note; it is vital to always act calm and casual in front of your computer, no matter how dire your situation is. Always present a cool facade and do not let them see your fear.)
  4. A vampire has immense power and super-human strength. A book has the power to change the world and completely influence popular culture. Take Twilight for example, whether you’re a fan of pale, sparkly romantic leads, or of heroines with the personality and backbone of a sea sponge, is irrelevant. But we can all agree that the effect Twilight had on popular culture, was akin to the explosion of a band like the Beatles. (Also, if you throw a hardcover book at someone’s head with just the right amount of force, they will probably be knocked out cold. Possibly even die.)
  5. Vampires are most powerful at night. Oh, how many torturous nights I have stayed awake staring at the ceiling. Fretting, and obsessing and losing sleep over my work in progress. It is in the dark, quietness that my manuscript has the most power to torment me.
  6. And finally, if you throw a book up in the air, it will resemble a bat for a moment or two as it falls back down to the ground. (Ok, that was super-lame, but I’m running out here)

So there you have it. The reasons your innocent looking book, or manuscript, might be as evil and deadly as Dracula’s bloody fangs.

Can you think of any more similarities?

 

*Jo Watson is a multi-award-winning author of romantic comedies. Her book Burning Moon is coming out in August this year and will be translated into French, German and Italian. Her books have been read over 18 Millions times online on Wattpad and she is represented my Erica Spellman of the Trident Media Group. You can pre-order her book here.

http://www.amazon.com/Burning-Moon-Jo-Watson-ebook/dp/B01ARXVTE0/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1461057653&sr=8-1

 

 

 

My CRAZY path to publishing.

pub deal

The internet. The glorious thing that is the world wide web. That is how my journey to becoming a published author began. It is a journey that is very different to most people’s, it is a journey that many authors frown on too- I have since discovered to my dismay.

They frown and raise eyebrows because I didn’t toil for years and suffer the soul-sucking devastation of doors being slammed in my face and endless rejection. (This seems to be considered a right of passage as an author) Instead, my journey was an almost overnight affair, which let me assure you, comes with its own set of unique challenges.

I had no intention of becoming an author in the first place. In fact, it was the last thing on my mind at that stage of my life. I had a very established career, I ran one company and was a partner in another and mainly worked as a TV scriptwriter and storyliner (the person that makes up the stories for the TV show) But one day, as I sat in front of my computer reading  a mail from a commissioning editor at our big South African network, I got very disillusioned. Let me not go into why I was disillusioned, that is a blog all on its own.

I longed to break out of the confines of my small country on the Southern tip of Africa. I longed for my work to reach a wider, international audience.

So I hit the internet. I Googled, “Write overseas” which yielded a million strange results. I then started Googling “Writing Internationally” and so it went on, until I stumbled on an international book writing contest. The annual So You Think You Can Write by Harlequin, hosted on a writing platform I had never heard about called Wattpad. 

The deadline was 3 weeks away and I was like, Ok… I can write a book. I’ve never written one before, in fact, I’ve never even read a romance novel in my entire life! (True story) I read crime thrillers and non-fiction books on Physics and the universe.

But hey… what the hell, right? So I sat down, got an idea and just started writing, posting all my work on Wattpad as I went. In three weeks I had accumulated 22, 000 reads on Wattpad, and bizarrely, bizarrely, bizarrely, I won the competition along with some other amazing writers. And then the book just took off on Wattpad like a crazy thing. It was totally out of my control and it just seemed to have a life of it’s own.

And then BAM… I was offered a 3 books deal. And BAM again, another publisher offered me a deal and so it escalated so fast that my head spun! I realized that in order to pursue this as a career, I would need to dive in head first. I don’t do things in a half-hearted manner. When I do, I do obsessively. So I closed my companies, bold move, took my savings and started writing books.

Things continued to escalate when I got an agent, Erica Spellman at The Trident Media group (only the best literary agency in the world) I say this not to boast, but to try and paint an adequate picture of how I felt when she emailed me and said, “please call me at your earliest convenience.” I cannot, cannot explain the shock, the sheer slap-through-the-face shock when this happened. I cannot express how nervous I was when I called her and I cannot express the strange, surrealness of the moment when she said she would represent me. A day later- literally- she forwarded me email correspondence that she had had with Grand Central Publishing in which they showed interest in my book.

And BAM… I got a three- book deal. The foreign rights were then sold and it will be translated into German, French and Italian.

My head still spins, I still feel like this is not real. I feel like I got dropped into the big leagues and I don’t even know what sport I am meant to be playing. Other authors have had years of practice leading up to the day they get published. They have had ample ‘warning’, I had nothing. I was thrown in head first with no knowledge of the industry at all. I sound ungrateful, but believe me, I am not. I think I am still in a state of shock and am only now settling into my new career, one which was almost thrust on me by accident.

You might be thinking at this stage that I hardly had to work to get this- that is what a lot of people assume. But let me assure you, that I have never worked so hard in my entire life. I wrote my first book, Burning Moon, in 3 weeks, with almost no sleep. And in the last two years I have subsequently written 7 books.

I have now been ‘playing’ at being a full-time author for just over two years now. I say ‘playing’ because I still don’t know what the F I am doing. My books have been read 18 million times, MILLION, on Wattpad and I sit with an agent and publishing deals and am officially making a good living doing it (Mainly due to the fact that our South African Rand is so shitty, and for every $1 I receive, I get R16) I still feel like if I pinch myself, I am going to wake up from all of this.

It has been the craziest ride of my life, and at age 35 I think I have actually found the thing I am meant to be doing. It took me more than ten years to find it, and I found it accidentally, but I’m doing it now and hope it will continue. I hope my career as an author is not going to be as ‘over-night’ as my path to becoming one was. This is a very real fear I have.

I have no idea what the moral of this story is, I think it is along the lines of ‘just put yourself out there‘ because you never know what will come back. The deadline forced me to write without thinking too hard, and there was no room for procrastinating. Look for writing competitions, I swear by them. It is the one way to assure your work is seen by the right people.

That is the nutshell version, I’ll give more details later on!

Someone pass that woman a razor!

deadline razor

The 15th of March might have been an ordinary day for you. So ordinary in fact that you might not even have noticed the little sucker pass on by.

But I noticed it.  Oh yes, I did.

I noticed it because it was the day my 3rd book was due to my publisher. Perhaps some backstory is needed here; Grand Central Publishing bought 3 of my books recently. Two of which they have read, one they have not. And the 15th March was when I had to hand in this book. And because they had not read it, and they loved the other two, the pressure was on. And I did not handle the pressure in a very ladylike manner, at all. 

In fact, the pressure reduced me to something vaguely resembling a Neanderthal. The first thing to slip was my attire. In my single-minded, obsessive pursuit of this deadline I began forgetting to get dressed in the morning. I rolled out of bed in my pajama’s, rolled out the house, across my little lawn and into my office- still in my pajama’s.

The next thing to disappear was my hair brush. Soon I began walking around looking like Cyndi Lauper’s long -lost love child that had been raised by apes in the Amazon  since being dropped off there in the mid-eighties to avoid scandal. My hair got so big that  it began attracting small items; my glasses, pens and pencils and finally small woodland creatures that decided to use it as a nest.

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And then, as the sleepless, stressful, cuticle-biting, chocolate-binging-eating, energy-drink-consuming days passed, I began to forget to shave. All desire to remove unwanted hair had left me. I had almost forgotten that such hair-removal devices even existed. First, my legs started sprouting hairs and then my armpits exploded forth with an abundant hairy bounty! But the worst part… was that I hadn’t even noticed it!

That’s how little attention I was paying to anything outside of my book (my husband- bless his soul- had probably pretended not to notice). I only became aware of my own hairiness when standing in the checkout queue at my local grocery store. I’d raised my arm to scratch my head (it was probably the small rodents causing it to itch) when I saw a man look at me in horror (more so than usual).

You see, the man had just come face-to-face with my unshaveness. He probably thought I was one of those bra-burning, freegan-feminists that’s into free-bleeding and shooting men in the balls. I vowed right there and then that when I got home I would shave immediately…

Only I didn’t. I forgot again, because whilst driving home I solved a plot issue  and rolled right back into my office and carried on typing in all my glorious hairy-ness!

p.s- I have since shaved. Although I am currently relapsing, as I chase a 1 May deadline. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No seriously, I’m an author!

Writer

No seriously, I'm a author

Had I known that telling people I’m an author came with the same barrage of predictable questions every single time, I might have had the foresight to arm myself with a recorded, automated response I could play every time someone asks…

And what do you do?

At this point I know I can look forward to at least one of the following questions;

  1. “An author? Really?” They might ask as they look at me with suspicious disbelief. Because aren’t real authors serious, intellectual, poetry musing people with neat little haircuts like Donna Tartt and fancy British accents?
  2. “An author, how lovely?” They say, while looking at me in a patronizing manner, as if they’re imagining some whimsical version of me sitting under a blossom tree at the bottom of an English country garden scribbling little notes in calligraphy on old bits of papyrus. “How sweet.
  3. They might then ask, “but how much money do you make writing books?” Because it’s perfectly ok to ask a person about their earnings. That’s not rude at all.
  4. “And what do you write?” They often ask. And when I reply with a, ‘mainly romantic comedies’ they reply with a knowing, “Oooohhh, I see!” Their suspicions about me have just been confirmed; because real writers don’t write romance. Undersexed, bored housewives with nothing better to do now that little Jimmy has left home write romance. “Oh, so you write books about greasy, shirtless fireman who save bare-breasted virgins from burning buildings and then shag them all the way into Sunday?”
  5. They may also start telling me about their brilliant idea for a book, the one they have been meaning to write for soooo long, but haven’t had any spare time. (It is also the worst idea in the world.)
  6. They often ask how I come up with the ideas? As if that’s an easy answer.
  7. Or they might ask me what else I do, since being an author is not a serious, real job, right?
  8. And then the most bizarre one by far, ‘What do you write, children’s books?’ (I suspect this question has more to do with my appearance than anything else.)

To avoid the inevitable tedium, I’ve debated the pros and cons of telling people that I’m either an undertaker or a hooker. I’m pretty sure that telling people you work with dead bodies all day over hors d’oeuvres is a conversation killer. Likewise, I’m sure that telling someone you stand on a street corner while doing the soccer mom run will also shut them up.

But,  of course, I don’t. So when asked what I do I shrug, I look wildly disinterested (I might even roll my eyes and make a tisking sound) and I mutter something or other under my breath about ‘working for myself’ and then I very quickly add a, “And what do you do?”

 

*Jo Watson is an award-winning author of romantic comedies. Her book Burning Moon is coming out in August this year and will be translated into French, German and Italian. Her books have been read over 18 Millions times online on Wattpad and she is represented my Erica Spellman of the Trident Media Group. You can pre-order her book here.

http://www.amazon.com/Burning-Moon-Jo-Watson-ebook/dp/B01ARXVTE0/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1461057653&sr=8-1