A few days ago I met up with the very fabulous Michelle Ward, singer and presenter on Phoenix FM, as well as writer, journalist and fellow author Sylvia Kent. We talked in general about books, book titles, as well as How To Do Everything and Be Happy, How To Eat Loads and Stay Slim, and How To Start Dating and Stop Waiting. The conversation span off into dating disaster stories where, perhaps fortunately, we eventually ran out of time.
The eagle eyed amongst you may have noticed that it’s been a while since I posted an entry on this blog. I’d like to tell you that I’ve been ludicrously busy, and whilst that wouldn’t be a lie (these past few months have been possibly the most manic I can remember) it certainly wouldn’t be the whole truth.
The thing is, I’ve been feeling a bit of a fraud.
This is my author blog – it says so right there at the top of the screen, but with only book to my name, published through my own company, there have been times this past year – quite a lot of times – when I’ve felt that calling myself an author is akin to the average man on the street buying himself a second hand lute and declaring to the world that he is a musician. But no more.
Allow me to give you a potted career history of Peter Jones.
Back in my early twenties, a series of poor choices and lucky accidents resulted in me becoming self-employed and working for most of the UK’s Credit Card banks as a freelance business consultant. I was (and I suppose, still am) an ideas man, and a fix-it man; wealthy men would ask me how to make even more money using the tools they had at their disposal, and I would tell them. Though it pains me to admit it, the credit crunch is partly my fault – not my idea, but I was most definitely pulling the levers and pressing the buttons that made it happen.
It wasn’t a bad way to make a living – the money was nice – but whilst I enjoyed the problem solving, and the company of the people I worked with, as the years rolled by I became less and less comfortable working in that industry. By the time I met my wife Kate I wanted out, and much of our time together was spent trying to find ways to use the few skills we had between us to create an alternative career. We tried everything from website design, to property investment. None of those things really worked. And when she died, it felt like my dreams of escaping credit card consultancy died with her.
How wrong I was.
What actually happened was that my focus changed. And instead of trying to dig myself out of the pit I’d spent almost twenty years getting myself into, I concentrated my solution-finding skills on seeking out the very thing that I seemed to lack; happiness. I read a lot of books, made a lot of lists, and tried anything and everything I could think of. Most of the ideas didn’t work. But some.. did!
One day a good friend of mine (hello Tina) suggested I ought to write down some of the quirkier ideas. Several months later I found that I’d accidentally written a book.
Around that time one of my banking contracts was drawing to a close, so I took the somewhat risky decision to dedicate the next few months to publishing my strange work of accidental non-fiction, first as an e-book, and later as a (Print On Demand) Paperback. If you’re a regular visitor to this blog you’ll also know that not only did I achieve that but that the book was quite successful. And when I say ‘quite’, I am of course being extremely British about the whole thing. I’m using ‘quite’ in the same way that some Americans might use the world ‘wildly’. By Christmas of last year my sales were such that I’d started to wonder if I could actually get away with not returning to my previous life – whether I could achieve the impossible, fulfil a child-hood dream, and become a full-time author.
“I am supporting myself
doing the things I love & enjoy,
and no longer worry about bills.”
By March, and thanks to the persistent efforts of my assistant, I found myself one of the many authors taking part in the prestigious Essex Book Festival. A few weeks later I signed a three book deal with audible (.co.uk | .com), the world’s largest supplier of audio books. I asked if I could audition to read my own book – I passed the audition, recorded the title, and timed the second e-book edition of How To Do Everything and be Happy to launch alongside the audio in June.
It was always my intention to bring out this updated version in paperback too but events took a slightly different turn. The ebook success and audible deal got the attention of an agent, who in turn was able to get the attention of some fairly major publishers. On August 31st I officially signed a deal with publishers Harper Collins to relaunch the book that got me here in the first place. Essentially How To Do Everything and Be Happy has broken into the mainstream.
What does this actually mean?
Well firstly the book has a brand new funky cover. Secondly, the e-book is now available EVERYWHERE, for every e-reader on the planet, from all good e-book retailers. Thirdly, it’s still only £1.99 (or your local equivalent).
And last, but by no means least, a brand new paperback version – with all the lovely second-edition extras & goodies – will be on shelves, in bricks and mortar UK book stores, on the 17th of January 2013 (a little later in the US – be prepared for half a zillion pictures of me in bookstores up and down the country on facebook in the New Year)
To celebrate the re-launch of the paperback I’m planning on having a book-launch thingamy. I’m not a huge fan of book launches, or indeed any social gatherings (you seem surprised?), but even I’ve got admit that this can’t go by without something to mark the occasion. And so long as I’m left in charge of organising it please consider yourself (and a friend) invited, because I could never have got this far without you!
So does this mean I’ve achieved my goal?? Am I no longer worrying about bills? Pfff! Not quite. But I’m a good deal closer, and I’m still working on it.
The next book - How To Eat Loads and Stay Slim - is finished. In a few days I’ll be able to tell you where and when it’ll be available. And right now I’m half way through writing a third book, and about to start a fourth. I am quite frankly stunned at what I’ve managed to achieve. Not proud – just stunned. Pride will follow shortly I’m sure, but right now I’m still reeling on a daily basis from how much you can achieve if you set your goals correctly, and put some effort in.
And you’ll be pleased to know I’m feeling a good deal less fraudulent. Expect more frequent author blogging from this point on. At least, assuming I’m not too busy.
I’m back! Did you miss me? What d’you mean you hadn’t realised that I’ve been away. Tch! Typical.
The truth is I’ve been working on a number of things – so many things that at times it’s been hard to see the spinning plates for all the broken crockery – but finally, after many weeks, a couple of these projects are coming to fruition, and I’d rather like to tell you about them.
How To Eat Loads and Stay Slimisn’t a diet book. Not in the traditional sense. It’s a book packed full of thought provoking, scientifically-provable, ideas and changes you can make to your life to increase your chances of being slim.
It’s a mixture of hard science (eg. how hunger really works), quick ‘cheats’ (eg. how to make zero fat chips), psychological techniques (eg. why focusing on your food as you eat is really important), ingenious strategies (eg. how to cut down on sugar without going cold turkey), and easy peasy recipes (eg. my roast potato & egg smashup breakfast or my co-author’s apple ginger clafouti) – all wrapped up in an easy-to-digest, humourous read from authors who’ve been where you are now.
Yes that’s right. Authors. Plural.
I’m co-writing the book with author, teacher, editor, dog-whisperer, regular contributor to Writers’ Forum magazine and slimming guru, Della Galton. Della has had about a thousand short stories published in various magazines over the last twenty years (I’m not exaggerating – 1,000 short stories) as well as goodness knows how many books (every time I think I know about all of them she casually mentions another published under a different name, or by a different publisher, or in large print only, or on Mars). It’s a little daunting writing along side a real author. Obviously I’m a real author too, but she’s, well, you know, MORE real.
Actually, whilst we’re talking about Della I might as well mention that today is her twenty eighth birthday (hang on, doesn’t that mean that she was first published when she was… hmmmm..) And, just to prove my earlier point, it coincides with the release of a short story anthology series, ‘Daily Della‘ – bite sized chunks of fiction ideal for your daily coffee break.
Oi! Pay attention! This post has been ‘archived’ because things have moved on quite a bit since I wrote it. To read something a tad more current, click here
So how ya been? Sorry I haven’t been around but life’s been… interesting.
For starters, if you follow me on twitter or you’ve ‘liked’ the facebook page you’ll know that I’m in the process of striking a three book deal. And that’s about as much as I’m prepared to say on the subject right now because – being the superstitious sod that I am – I’m terrified that if I say much more it’ll jinx everything. That probably sounds very paranoid, and maybe it is, but consider this – just because you’re not paranoid doesn’t mean that they’re not out to get you! Hmmmm. Not feeling so smug now are we.
SO ANYWAY… what I will tell you is that one of the titles in the deal is my current book How To Do Everything and Be Happy. Yes, almost a year after it was first released in ebook form, the book that I wrote on a whim is going to be republished. And not just republished, but updated and revised! Since Christmas much of my time has been spent working on a second edition.
I’ve never written a second edition before. Heck, I’m still getting my head around the fact that I wrote the first edition (which, can I just point out, recently celebrated it’s 6,000th sale), I certainly never expected to be updating the thing less than a year after it first came out.
The plan is to release the revised version in ebook form as soon as I can, and follow it up with a print version in June-ish. The dates are a little flexible right now because of other secret reasons which I am bursting to tell you about.. but can’t (see second paragraph). There are also a couple of other ideas I’m toying with – for instance I’d like to be able to give a free electronic copy of the revised version to anyone who shelled out on the first edition (be that electronic or paper), and anyone who’s supported me in any way (my way of saying thank you to all those people who left nice reviews, posted a comment somewhere, came to a workshop or talk, or just told someone about it – the list goes on and on). Quite how I’m going to do that I’ve yet to work out but it might be a good idea to stay subscribed to either this blog (use the box in the top right hand corner), the book’s blog, the facebook page, my facebook profle, or follow me on twitter, to ensure you don’t miss out.