Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Review: 12 Easy Steps to Self-Publishing For Busy People (Second Edition), by Terence W. Tam

I read a version of this book that has already been superseded at least once—I think I wrote away for my free copy back in the mid-noughties—so I was pleasantly surprised to find its content more relevant and less out-of-date than I had anticipated.

You probably won’t find anything earth-shattering in 12 Easy Steps to Self-Publishing For Busy People—it’s the same old advice that gets trotted out in every essay on the subject. But Tam does well to focus on carving out the right niche for your writing, and targeting the right audience. Of course, the publishing industry has moved on, and we target audiences in different ways these days. 

With the rising popularity and cheaper distribution of eBooks, self-publishing has become a relatively simple task. It’s certainly a lot easier to get your book into Amazon than it is to convince the bookstore owners down the road that they want twenty copies of your latest tome. In the online space, self-published authors can finally compete head-to-head with traditionally published authors…and occasionally win.

Part of that is due to the change in marketing tactics, with authors now having a lot more direct contact with their fans. Back when the author was drafting this book, Facebook didn’t exist. Social media is now one of the primary ways writers interact with their fans and potential fans, and even traditional publishers recognise its value, pushing their signed authors to maintain an online presence. 

What most disappointed me about 12 Easy Steps to Self-Publishing For Busy People was the number of typos it contained despite the author’s frequent calls to invest in professional editing. And they were simple errors, such as repeated periods or incorrectly placed apostrophes. Even the book layout was awful, with the page numbers appearing on the right-hand side of every page, so that it was tucked into the binding on left pages.

And then there was the title…I just couldn’t figure it out. There weren’t twelve chapters. There wasn’t a list of twelve steps. And it didn’t seem particularly aimed at busy people, or any other specific group of people (other than those interested in self-publishing). Given the author’s advice for creating catchy titles, I suspect he created the title without really thinking about how it related to the content. Maybe that's why he was giving away this version, and why he released another book in 2007, called Seven Easy Steps to Self-Publishing For First-Time Authors

In hindsight, I’m not really sure why I read it, but it’s done now.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016


In me, butterflies—
pas de deux in scarlet hues,
boundless skies above.

Colour blinds your eyes—
misconstrue the things I do,
never see enough.

This way, trouble lies,
unless you begin anew—
offer the white dove.

When the flutter dies,
teach it to return to you—
then you’ll know true love.

About this piece

Lies about love leave us always looking for more. Love leaves when you don't nurture it—trust that you have enough, always enough.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016


Passed on.
now, for evermore
with the woman your heart adores.
To your bride, none can compare; the sweetest love you share.

About this piece

This piece is for my Opa, who passed on last Sunday, and whose love for my Oma was so great that I think he started dying the day she passed on, some twelve years ago. I never saw anyone else love like that.

And the dictionaries state that both forevermore and for evermore are correct, so I chose the latter, even though the former may have got me more hits from the Philippines. (In the US, forever more is also used, but that doesn't make quite so much sense to me.)

First published in Poetry in Form on Medium.com.

Monday, August 01, 2016


You leave.

once you’re out the door,
you realise you’ve left everything.
You’re nothing
on your own.

You remember:

smiles and sunshine,
love and laughter,

hugs and hateful words,
kisses and kicks and
pushing and punching and patronising and pretending and

playing, right? Just playing—
a little harmless fun.

You go back.

once you’re back
in smiles and sunshine,
love and laughter,
you’re playing
a rigged game, fighting
a losing battle
against an enemy you love
more than life.

And you don’t know
how to get out,
how to get away,
how to let go.

But you do.

And then, once it’s over, it fades.
It fades away until it doesn’t really feel like much at all
and you wonder if it was as bad as you thought
and maybe, just maybe, you left too soon.

You grieve.

when you’ve let it all go,
you realise: you’ve lost everything
you could measure, and nothing
of worth.

About this piece

This piece is just a little something I wrote about the lies we tell ourselves and the truths we discover when we think we have no strength to carry on. First published on Medium.com.