Saffina Desforges

Website URL: http://www.saffinadesforges.com

27
Oct 2011
Well, sometimes, life never ceases to amaze me. Here I was, after having spent all day online, promoting our authors in our new digi-publishing venture (MWiDP), blogging, checking the charts, writing about Halloween on my sister blog etc etc, looking at the news... you know, generally being a writer in the 21st century, and I see this article on the Daily Telegraph site: Article Wow. This was the man (and I use the term loosely) that inspired our best-seller Sugar & Spice. This is the monstrous serial killer that caused my writing partner, Mark, so many sleepless nights. Cost him two years of his life whilst he researched him, robbed the families of three precious girls their futures. He actually doesn't deserve our time and thoughts. He has been found guilty of a FOURTH murder.
Robert Black now ranks among Britain's most prolific serial killers. Scotland-born Black had denied murdering Jennifer Cardy in August 1981. The nine-year-old disappeared after leaving her home at Balinderry in County Antrim to cycle the short distance to a friend's house. The discovery of her red bicycle sparked a six-day search.
If you've read 'Sugar & Spice', you'll already see the similarities. Although our story is very far removed from these heinous crimes, the murders were what inspired the book that has now sold over 100,000 copies. But, there's a difference: Our book is fiction. Purely an idea from something real. This guy, well, he crossed the line. In fact, the reporter today called him a "lost cause of humanity" We have been slated in some areas for how close to the mark 'Sugar & Spice' is and had numerous communications from police offers and social workers not liking how they were portrayed in the book. Let me tell you now, make no mistake; the research came from first-hand experience. If only things had been done differently at the time? Anyway, I am not here to talk about that, I am here to marvel at the forensic science that has enabled this monster to be convicted yet again. A till recipe. Sheesh. I think they said nine and a half years that the parents of that little girl have had to wait for a verdict. Jennifer Cardy, today was about you and your family and the girls and families of the other victims, not him. I know it will be of little comfort that he (no longer afforded a name, as he isn't of this world) is convicted of one more crime, but please take heart that the nation and the world are with you. And they're pleased. Pleased that this monster is no longer free to walk the streets. Sorry that he wasn't stopped. This blog is for you, Jennifer Cardy and the others, not him. May you RIP. xxx As for him: "He killed childhood as much as he killed children." Let's hope not...
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21
Oct 2011
They say you shouldn't brag about your achievements on your blog, or talk about your own books. Yeah? They also said that the world was flat and that Father Christmas doesn't exist! They're not right all of the time you know! ;-)

Well, I'm sorry, but I have never been one for doing as I'm told!

This morning, 10 months after its proper release and after hitting number two in the Amazon UK Kindle paid charts twice and staying in the top 100 for almost 5 months (plus achieving over 130 five star reviews) Sugar & Spice hit the number two spot in Waterstones ebook chart.

Ok, great! That's nice. But let's put this thing into perspective:

  • We were told it was too controversial for the British market and that it wouldn't sell (we just reached 100,000 copies sold since Christmas)
  • We were told it was too long (possibly)
  • We are STILL the ONLY true indie authors to have NEVER been traditionally published and reached the number two spot on Amazon.
  • We are THE biggest selling indie authors in the country with one title
  • We have no agent
  • We have no publisher
  • 'The Sense of an ending' by Julian Barnes won the Man Booker prize two days ago and we are still the most searched for on Waterstones
  • We did ALL of this ourselves
FACT!
So forgive me for blowing our own horn, we're kinda pleased with ourselves! ;-)
Oh, and Snow White is currently at #14 in the very same chart! ;-)
Have a good weekend, we will!
Saffi
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21
Oct 2011
They say you shouldn't brag about your achievements on your blog, or talk about your own books. Yeah? They also said that the world was flat and that Father Christmas doesn't exist! They're not right all of the time you know! ;-)

Well, I'm sorry, but I have never been one for doing as I'm told!

This morning, 10 months after its proper release and after hitting number two in the Amazon UK Kindle paid charts twice and staying in the top 100 for almost 5 months (plus achieving over 130 five star reviews) Sugar & Spice hit the number two spot in Waterstones ebook chart.

Ok, great! That's nice. But let's put this thing into perspective:

  • We were told it was too controversial for the British market and that it wouldn't sell (we just reached 100,000 copies sold since Christmas)
  • We were told it was too long (possibly)
  • We are STILL the ONLY true indie authors to have NEVER been traditionally published and reached the number two spot on Amazon.
  • We are THE biggest selling indie authors in the country with one title
  • We have no agent
  • We have no publisher
  • 'The Sense of an ending' by Julian Barnes won the Man Booker prize two days ago and we are still the most searched for on Waterstones
  • We did ALL of this ourselves
FACT!
So forgive me for blowing our own horn, we're kinda pleased with ourselves! ;-)
Oh, and Snow White is currently at #14 in the very same chart! ;-)
Have a good weekend, we will!
Saffi
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13
Oct 2011
So, sadly, when I made my last post a few days ago about the iPhone, I had no idea about the untimely death of Steve Jobs. In fact, it was less than 24 hours after I posted that I learned of it. It's a strange one. Everyone knew he was ill, people had seen how he looked in his last public appearance and then a day after Apple make their 'big' non-announcement about the poor relation iPhone 4s, he was gone. I guess it is tribute to the family that they kept his last few months away from the media and they were able to spend those last precious days with him and out of the spotlight, but I can't help feeling that there are more powerful forces at work here - more powerful even than they guy who transformed the way we listen to music, communicate, watch tv, workout and basically live - function. They reckon he has left years' worth of technology behind. Wow! What a legacy. I have always been a fan of 'all things Mac' and having had the cash to buy some of their products recently, I am a complete convert. They work the way you think. That's what I love about them. I just bought the new Apple TV to stream music, photos, videos etc around the house. No docking station, no stereo, no memory card, no dongle. Just stream your stuff to a HD TV and watch/listen to it through your tele and surround sound. Awesome. I can't believe how things have changed. We moved into our house 7 years ago in May, just gone. We had a Technics stack system, a 32" Panasonic HD Viera (which was the most amazing new invention), a pretty decent surround sound system, a laptop and a desktop PC. Oh and an MP3 player the size of a stone. No seriously, it was actually called 'the stone'. And we won't even talk about the mobile phone! How the f*ck did people talk on those things without getting whiplash (at this point, if a 'no-win, no fee' company call you. It wasn't me!)? Anyway, I digress. My point here is how things have changed and how quickly. For me, Steve Jobs was at the forefront of the digital revolution and will leave a legacy that leads the way for years to come. And big up to him. What a guy. He certainly changed my life. So, what does all of this have to do with me and mine? Well, I'll tell you. Not only has the way I text, call people, watch my favourite programmes, shop, changed; so has the way the world reads. This time last year I bought a Kindle and persuaded (beat to a pulp about) Mark into putting a book on it. Hmmm. Let's see what's happened since... Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin: Paramore (yes, my guilty pleasure. Well, one of them Roxette is another. but that's another time for bums on carpets) sang about the world 'not needing another band'. In fact, they said: "Now I've got a feeling if I sang this loud enough You, would sing it back to me." "No one is as lucky as us, We're not at the end But oh, we already won." "Tell me how you got so far, and never making a single sound. I'm not used to it, but I can learn There's nothing to it." Ok, so the lyrics aren't in that order, I had to mash them up a bit, but the message is pretty appropriate. For thousands of years, people have been writing books (think Bible) and the gatekeepers have dictated what you, the public, get to read. Imagine if Steve Jobs had filtered what gadgets went to general market and which ones the 'rich and famous' could have access to? (alright, so we're not all gonna have a solid gold Gucci iPhone!) Imagine if there are a billion writers out there who's work is AMAZING, but agents and publishers said you 'weren't allowed to read it.'? Your children couldn't have access to it? That's what has happened. Up 'til now. When you went to school, college, Uni, there was a set curriculum to follow. You were told what to read. Don't get me wrong, most of the time, they were spot on, but just open your mind to the fact that for every one book you've ever read, that left you feeling empty, scared, empowered, sad, happy, alive, desperate - there were a thousand books that were better than that that you would never get to read? Huh? What's that about? What if J.K. had listened to the publishers rejecting her work? Sorry, but you get my point! Well, no more! The advent of the e-reader has changed the face of literature. Forever. I am not going to get into the big J.A Konrath/sometimes Stephen Leather  'most of self-pubbed stuff is a pile of shit' debate & 'it's not a sprint, it's a marathon' crap, (have you even run 5k?)  readers can judge for themselves (hello, they have brain cells!) but what  I am going to talk about, is how things will never be the same again. Never, I mean, never. Forget publishing, reading will never be the same. The way we read has changed. How we read has changed. Where we read has changed, but the biggest difference, is who we read has changed. December last year, my bookshelf (yes, a real wooden shelf) looked like this: Stephen King James Herbert Patricia Cornwell Dean Koontz J. K. Rowling (and Mr. WillIAM Shakespeare and the odd Edgar Allen Poe might have been jostling for elbow room) And it still looks like this. Ya know why? Cos I haven't bought a hardback/paperback book in 12 months. Guess what titles are on my Kindle/iPhone/Nook/Sony other android, reading device? Lee Childs (never read him before, even though he is an awesome author and I am now deeply embedded into his fifth book) Kathy Reichs Tess Gerritsen (ok, so, I know what you're thinking, but this is thanks to exposure) And here come the "not-so-well-known-but-equally-as-great-writers" Michael Wallace Sibel Hodge Barry Eisler, Jack Kilbourne (no, not the same person. But you can be forgiven for thinking that J.A  Konrath and Blake Crouch are snuggling up in the same sleeping bag and smelling man farts! But wh0 are we to diss co-writing? Oops. I am sure in the UK you will NEVER HAD HEARD OF THEM JUDGING BY BC's very short-lived stay in the top  100, despite signing a deal with Thomas & Mercer? Some things, cannot 'cross the pond'? ), John Locke (ok, I haven't read them, but you can't discount them) Amanda Hocking (ditto above, but still...) And... erm... I bet you were expecting a massive 'who's who' from our new digi-imprint MWiDP right? Nope, that comes later. The best book I have read this year (and for a long time) ON MY E-READER was 'Into the darkest corner' by Elizabeth Haynes. Right, so it was a top ten best-seller (so was our debut novel for five weeks!) and it was publicised, but I would NEVER have read it if it wasn't for my e-reader.  I would never have SEEN it. I spent the whole time reading it, thinking "I should be writing" and why am I reading another one of those, "I've been done wrong, let's make a book out of it." (slight nod to Amanda Knox) diatribes, but I loved it! Her writing style was so fresh and misleading. Kept me sane when my life had just tilted 90 degrees to the South. Why? I once got told that your first book in a print run is expected to sell less than a thousand copies. Then what? Er, thanks, but we can't afford anymore rainforest destruction to chance another. Well get this! Sugar & Spice has now sold over 100,000 copies in less than 12 months! Ok, we pubbed it in late Nov' 10, but I don't count that, we were  Kindle virgins at that point. It is currently #3 on Waterstone's chart (above John le Carre, Steig Larsson and the literary genius that is James Corden) and our new release 'Snow White' is #12! You know what? We might get two top ten hits on Waterstones? We might sell another 100,000 copies of a book without a publisher that no-one has ever heard of. We might not. Let me tell you what we are doing. We are celebrating the fact that the reading public have the chance to decide what they read and when. We are talking to readers and writers and the other uncategorised. We couldn't do that with a print book. We are reaching audiences we never knew existed and making them listen.Hell, they didn't even know they were audiences,  but by far the biggest thing that has ever happened... is down t0 you. The readers. Forget the digital revolution. This is a revolution -  digital. And it's in your hands. Literally. Don't stop loving books, just see books in a different form  and see how many more books you can reach now. Mr. Apple lives on, as do his inventions. he changed our lives, it's time to change yours. Saffi P.S: Steve Jobs was a businessman. He would kill me for not doing this: If you're not being talked about, they're talking about somebody else. Here's a list of the most fabulous writers in the world, who we are thrilled to have join the MWiDP imprint. Check them out if you want a good read at a decent price! It doesn't tear up trees, it shreds minds. Paperless. ;-) Tonya Kappes Anne. R. Allen Prue Batten Danielle Blanchard Benson Christine DeMaio-Rice Karin Cox Elizabeth Ann West G. S. Johnston Sarah Woodbury Allen Scahtz Barbara Silkstone Athanasios Cheryl Shireman M.P. Macdonald Tom Winton G.P. Ching Sunhil Bahtia Georgina Ellis Young Patricia Rockwell The future is here, the future is digital (unless you get a six-figure paper deal over four books between two which means you can actually get 12k per book. divided by two?) again, huh? Nah. The future is a bag-load of fab writers helping each other (aka http://thewritersguidetoepublishing.com/) and apparently, Apple (aka Steve Jobs) have announced the iCloud? Whether it rivals Kindle or Google 'clouds' remains to be seen. Did Steve not see Mark's post a while back, or did Mark See Steve's? I used to want to write books.  Now I realise, that if Jayne was still here, she'd have said this:
  • "It is in vain to say human beings ought to be satisfied with tranquillity: they must have action; and they will make it if they cannot find it." - Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre
Nah, Jayne, you're wrong.
What we will do is self-publish! (what a dirty word! I can see the 'so-called' agent with 700,000 blog followers - if  you had that many readers, you would be a writer, instead of a  agent,cringing over their copy of 'Publishers' Weekly')
Or, as I like to call it: Give the readers' the choice.
Let them decide.
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05
Oct 2011
As a self-confessed Apple addict (I have the iPad, iPod, iPhone, Mac air and a iMac) I have been eagerly awaiting the release of the iPhone 5. I waited and waited for news of a release as I was due to buy a new iPhone and didn't want the 4 if the 5 came out this month. There had been rumours of the 5 not being ready and some 'technical glitches' and also word of a dispute with the touch screen and component manufacturers, so I was wary. We all know it is gadget suicide to release something before it is ready and then have people complain and switch to a rival brand. It's not that different from uploading your book when it's done. You may have the 'perfect finished novel' but if it isn't properly proof-read, edited, formatted and you don't have an eye-catching cover, you could be chancing your arm. As you may know, we have recently launched our new digi-imprint MWiDP (mark williams international digital publishing) and we are in the process of uploading our first books to Amazon KDP. We currently have 9 titles live, 16 awaiting publishing or review and another 7 ready to be uploaded. On top of that, there are contracts sat on the desks of some top, top writers scattered around  the globe waiting to be signed. We are working with these writers to ensure that when the books are released, readers are getting the most perfect product available. Maybe Apple are doing that because last night, whilst the world held their collective breath at the hugely-hyped "Let's talk iPhones" reveal, I joined them in a universal blowing out of cheeks. No iPhone 5. Instead? iPhone 4s. Now whilst this new version has some great extra features such as: a new chip, better camera and voice recognition software: Siri, it isn't what the techies were expecting. Sure, it works with iOS5 and the new iCloud, but it's not the iPhone 5. Apple have come under fire recently for their "walled-garden" business model and their refusal to allow Adobe (who, incidentally, have just bought out Typekit) Flash software on their products, and with the perfectly timed Amazon sucker-punch last week and the new Kindle Fire being released, it is just possible that their heavyweight crown is slipping. In this hugely competitive, cut-throat digital age, you can't afford to not play with the other kids. Mark explains our 'cloud theory' at MWiDP and how we are even getting into bed (not the ring) with other small publishers, over at WG2E. So have Apple just thrown in the towel with their damp squib, half-release? Is their domination of the gadget market coming to an end? It could well be. If the value of their share price compared to Amazon is anything to go by, it's a certainty. Don't get me wrong, I am still a HUGE Apple fan and I am sure the iPhone 4s will sell well, but as a writer and publisher (heck, that sounds funny) I am interested in where the market is for our books and I expect the run up to Christmas to be one huge clash of the titans. Who will triumph? Who knows? But there's one thing I can tell you for sure: it'll be one hell of a fight! Saffi PS. If you're fed up with all the feuding, why not check out the peace and harmony of writers helping other writers and playing nicely in the sand-pit at MWiDP? And if you would like to join the band of merry scribes, drop us a line at markwilliamauthor@gmail.com
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28
Sep 2011
Well, we made #1 in the Amazon top 100 Hard-boiled category today! And to our great surprise, we checked the Waterstones chart yesterday and found this: And this! This morning, I was interviewed for BBC Radio Humberside. The interview will air between 11.00 - 12.00 on Saturday @ 95.9FM/485AM or you can listen here online:  Radio Humberside Thanks to James Piekos for the interview! In case you didn't see the mention in the Mail on Sunday Live mag, here's the link: Mail on Sunday article It's all going down! ;-) Saffi
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07
Sep 2011
I get asked all the time what it is like being a writer in this exciting new digital age. I recently did an interview with a journalist who is writing a piece for The Mail on Sunday magazine, Live on e-publishing and the Kindle experience and he asked lots of questions - I mean lots! But the thing that resonated with me personally was just how much more you are than a writer these days. I guess I hadn't thought about it until I said it out loud. I know how poor George felt now when he jumped over the desk at Bailey's Buildings & Loans to escape the crowds at the bank; everyone wanted a piece of him. That's kinda what it's like being a writer. You are a business; a brand. Gone are the days when writers would sit tapping on keys, smoking cigarettes then posting their finished manuscript to an agent or publisher before taking a holiday and starting their next one. You need a blog, several email addresses, a twitter and facebook account, a website, a cover designer, an accountant, proof-reader, editor...I could go on. All of these people need communicating with, directing, you need to be available 24-7. I feel like the shop owner in Stephen King's 'Needful things' (one of my all-time favourite reads) sometimes, always open and able to lay my hands on anything anyone might want. (and although I don't ask that people end up dead, I do expect a favour in return. Reminds me of the concept behind Kristen Lamb's "We are not alone'!) I think when Amanda Hocking explained her decision to sign with St. Martin's Press, she explained that feeling. She said something like "I just want to write." It's true. Writing is in your blood. It isn't something that you wake up and decide to do one day (well, not for me personally anyway) nor is it something that you can just stop. I love writing - in any form. So whether I am tweeting about my day or blogging about the latest book, at least I am writing, creating. Of course, my real love is telling stories, but hey, just lately, that has to come a measly second-best. No, what we are busy doing now is learning how to run a business. How to market our brand, keep ahead of the trends, out-think the competition and stay ahead of the game. No-one taught me to be a writer (OK, I have learnt a great deal over the last few years about the craft and technicalities of writing, but no-one can teach someone imagination and their voice) but I am having to learn other things now. A year ago, a blog and a website was something that famous people had. I very rarely visited any, let alone thought that I would be able to design and run my own! HTML, Mobi and epub might as well have been characters out of a sc-fi film for all I knew and being interviewed by the press was something that happened to other people (well, except when I was 11 and was the first girl to join the local football teams supporters' club and they put my picture in the local free weekly. Remind me to tell you the story of getting a tour around the players' dressing room, whilst they were all changing because I had a hat and scarf on and nobody noticed that I wasn't a boy! ;-)) but twelve months down the line and these things are part of my life now, like it or not. Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't have it any other way.  It means that I am getting to do what I love: write and most importantly, have people read it. So if that is the price I pay for waking up every morning and thinking Hey, I'm actually a writer (I can say the words out load now without cringing with embarrassment) then I'll take it every day of my very busy week. It is a wonderful life, but it's also damn hard work!
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03
Sep 2011

When we released our debut novel 'Sugar & Spice' what seems like eons ago now, we never dreamed that it would make the top 100 in the Amazon paid store.

We never even thought we'd sell 100 books, let alone reach the top 100, but we did. It took us roughly 160 days.

'Snow White' was released 20 days ago and this morning, I awoke to find us sitting at number 98.

We might not stay there, who knows, but it was still a nice sight to wake up to.

We've learnt a lot since then - loads.

I was interviewed yesterday by a journalist for an article on the rise of Kindle and digital publishing and he asked me that very same question: What do you know now that you didn't know when you started out?

The experience of uploading our second book to Amazon was very different. The first time round we stumbled through the process like a blind-folded drunk on ice and made some BIG mistakes.

The result? 'Sugar & Spice' sat bobbing around the lower echelons of the Amazon charts unnoticed for weeks, months even. Then when it did start selling, we also had problems and the climb was arduous, pedestrian.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing. This time, we did everything differently:

Paid for a cover in advance, promoted before the release. Blogged, tweeted and facebook'ed'. Had it proof-read and professionally converted for upload. All things we had done ourselves the first time. Sure, it costs you money, but it pays for itself almost immediately.

Those few things sell books - fact.

We are learning all the time and when we release 'Rapunzel' before the end of the year, we'll be even wiser (and older!).

Ok, these things don't guarantee success, but they sure help. ;-)

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27
Aug 2011

It's one thing after another these days.

Sometimes, I dread switching on the news.

After Britain was gripped by terrifying riots, the constant fighting in Tripoli whilst Gaddafi continues his murderous grip on Libya, our boys still coming home from Afghanistan dead and injured, hundreds of innocent lives being claimed every day by famine, disease and disaster, I fear the worst every time I log onto the internet.

Today, we send our thoughts and best wishes out to all of our American friends and readers. Hurricane Irene has caused mass mandatory evacuation of low-lying areas in New York and New Jersey. It's scary stuff.

Stay safe.

Saffi

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About SD

Saffina Desforges is an international best-seller writer.

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