Waterstone’s Hemel Hempstead Book Signing

Waterstone’s have agreed to give me another book signing. This will be at their Hemel Hempstead branch in the Marlowes on Saturday 25th August 2012. The store manager, Tina, very kindly offered me the opportunity some weeks ago.

I am so grateful to all of the local Waterstone’s stores for all of their help and support in promoting my books. Milton Keynes last November; St Albans last March; Hitchin last April and now Hemel Hempstead. So a big thank you to Lisa, Sean, Alison and Tina.

The question everyone asks is ‘do you make any money’ on your books?’ And the short answer is no. I barely cover my costs but that’s not the reason I do it. Once you take that first step and sit down in front of your computer and write a story, there is some sort of force that develops which keeps on making you go back. Many other part-time writers have told me the same thing. Of course we’d all like to make a living out of writing ideally, but the love of doing it is what spurs us on.

I’ve just read yet another writer who has become successful passing on his secrets of how to become a best selling author. Apparently, all you need is a Twitter account and off you go. One follower reads your book and ‘tweets’ what a great book it is and so on, and you end up with millions of Twitter followers who buy your books.

I don’t think so.

Marketing your book is plain hard graft. I sold 40 books at my Milton Keynes signing and made the princely sum of £20 for smiling and standing on my sore feet for 8 hours . It’s the hardest £20 I’ve ever earned in my life!

What we’re all waiting for is the agent or publisher who stumbles over your book one day and begs you to sell the rights to them. They give you £2 million and you give them your book and they sell millions of them, making you a household name. So any time you publish something, there’s a queue of people waiting to buy them.

Which is why the most frequent advice that most published writers give to those of us still striving to match them is, don’t give up the day job. So APC will be pleased (or not) that I won’t.

So if any of you just happen to be passing Watertone’s store in the Marlowe’s Hemel Hemptsead on Saturday 25th August, please drop in and I’ll sell you a book.


March 3rd – a great day …

Yesterday was my book signing at Waterstone’s St Albans. I approached it with a certain amount of trepidation as my last signing at Milton Keynes had been so successful. I sold 41 books that day and had to sell a reasonable number yesterday in order to get a further opportunity at another Waterstone’s store. The pressure was on …

Well the good news is I sold 21 copies – not stunning but encouraging as they were all to new customers and not to either friends or family. I met some lovely people and I was encouraged at the level of enthusiasm there is for children’s writing. Several teachers suggested that I get into schools, not only to promote my books but help encourage children to read or even to write their own stories. And that’s what I need to do. Unfortunately work gets in the way but I’m hopeful of reducing my hours at some stage, thus allowing me to spend more time on my writing projects.

A big thank you once again to my family for coming along. They always turn out to lend their support. Some of them spent the day in St Albans and visited the Cathedral. It truly is a beautiful city and well worth a visit.

Here’s the link to my Facebook page with some photos – http://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/121933721173368/360017637364974/?notif_t=like


Waterstone’s St Albans Booksigning …

Just heard from Waterstone’s St Albans that they have agreed to give me a book signing at their store on Saturday 3rd March. A big thank you to Sean Farrell the store manager for giving me this opportunity. And another big thank you to Lisa Piselli, the branch manager for Waterstone’s Midsummer Place Milton Keynes, for giving me my first break back in November. It was a great day and I managed to sell 41 books.

That was my first signing in a book store and I have to admit it was a fairly daunting experience. I was on my feet from ten in the morning to five in the evening and I was absolutely exhausted by the time I got home. But I loved every minute of it. Even after an hour when I’d only sold one book!

I learnt a lot that day. I spoke to Lisa just before I left and she was well please with how it had panned out. But she gave me some very good advice that I took away with me. Too many authors write and publish a book and think that’s it, just sit back and wait for people to buy it and make them a fortune. But it rarely works out like that – you have to sell it. So you have to get in to the book stores and actively promote your book to the public. I’ve been a salesman for over twenty years but have never worked so hard as I did on that cold November day last year.

The whole journey of book writing has been a learning experience and one that I enjoy immensely. I still have plenty of ideas of where the Jimmy First story can go and will hopefully put pen to paper, or more accurately, finger to keyboard, and write the next volume of Jimmy’s incredible journey.

But meanwhile there is another character that I will be introducing you to this year. I am in the process of editing my next book which is a departure from time travel. All I can say is watch this space …

See you all in St Albans on the 3rd March.


Another new year

I always approach a New Year with a certain sense of optimism. It feels like starting again but in reality you’re carrying on from where you left off from the previous year. I don’t believe in New Year resolutions as they never last, well mine don’t usually make it into February.

So why the optimism?

I think it’s to do with the word new. It tells you that it’s something that hasn’t happened before, and in truth, 2102 hasn’t. It can be about new opportunities but they can happen at any time of the year, not just January 1st.

For me I’m still pursuing my writing dream and will continue the push to see my work more widely read, and yes, maybe make a few quid on the way. But that hasn’t changed from the previous year, although hopefully I will be able to commit more time to the promotion of my books.

So what have I learnt in the last year(s)?

Writing a book is the easy part, well relatively. I personally find editing to be laborious. You read the story so many times that in the end you start convincing yourself that it’s rubbish. But once you finally get it to the point where you think it’s OK, you send it to the publisher. I personally always get it proof read before they publish as there are always mistakes that you miss.

Then comes the day when they send you the first copy for you to approve and that is an amazing feeling. To see your work in a proper paperback format is overwhelming.

Then you have to sell it and that’s when it gets really really difficult. I had a reasonably successful book signing at Waterstone’s in Milton Keynes in November. The manager told me that they stock 80000 books in that store alone (includes multiple copies of the best sellers) but that’s still a lot of titles. Look at how many titles there are on Amazon – I would guess at hundreds of thousands.

So the challenge is to get your book noticed amongst all of that lot, and that amounts to something bordering on a lottery win. There are numerous sites offering you an instant marketing solution by posting your book on various sites that are going to bring you overnight success. Unlikely in my view.

So the only way to do it is by sheer hard work and persistence. Books signings; school promotions; local radio; more book signings and so on … In other words you have to put the hard yards in.

So any school teachers out there who want an author to visit their school and tell the kids why I want to right or read extracts from my books, (or both), please contact me either through this blog or my website,






From the Mouths of Babes …

I’ve had several reviews from young readers who have read my book(s). I’ve copied some of them below: -

  • ‘I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your book! Just to assure you that I have passed it onto a few of my friends and they most definitely agree with me. They loved the story line of Jimmy and Henry Crumble as did I. I must say
    that my favourite part of the book was when Jimmy found the book about his
    future. I enjoyed the contrast of the times and places. I thought that you
    conveyed the characters in an interesting and exciting way. I liked the fact
    that there was a shadow of doubt hanging in Jimmy’s mind about Henry Crumble
    and the fact that their relationship was so close made it tenser and it, at
    times, made me get shivers down my spine. I felt like I was there when Jimmy
    found Henry’s time watch and when Jimmy fainted because he thought that he had seen a ghost. I think it was a very emotional book. The description of when
    Noel died in Jimmy’s arms was heartbreaking and when Jimmy found out that Lance was dealing drugs, hate and anger welled up inside me. I was genuinely shocked.
    I also thought that Jasmine was a great character. I loved her motherly
    behaviour towards Jimmy and she really cared for him. I thought that it was sad
    that Jimmy was so gullible as to believe that Spiron was going to get his
    cerebral palsy treated. From the moment the two of them met, I knew that Spiron
    was going to be trouble. He befriended Jimmy and I felt sorry for him. I loved the
    book. I demand a follow on or a sequel. I need to know what happens next! When
    I wasn’t reading it, I was itching to get my nose back into the world of Jimmy
    and Henry and all the new and old characters. A fantastic book with an
    interesting and vivid plot/story. I can’t wait to read the next one. Please let
    me know if you release any more books as I sure as hell would love to read
    them! It was a pleasure reading Jimmy First and Destiny’s Watch.’

Thank you


  • ‘The fabulous world of Henry Crumble and Jimmy First collide when Jimmy’s mother finds him a Saturday job. Henry and Jimmy’s relationship rogresses throughout the story so their friendship becomes stronger. My favourite part is when Jimmy goes into the future and finds Jasmine. I also loved the part when Jimmy finds Henry’s watch. I think there should be another book to make a series of Jimmy First and Destiny’s Watch. It was a pleasure to read and I look forward to hopefully another book.’


  •  “A great read with lots of exciting and dramatic adventures so well done
    Ian.The main character is a unlucky boy who has Cerebral
    Palsy meaning Jimmy’s right hand is a lot weaker and due to Cerebral palsy he
    can’t run without falling over.This fabulous book is mysterious,exciting,daring,fantastic and AMAZING!!!!!!Once you start to read it
    you can’t put it down.The book is so good you are lost in your own world feeling
    what Jimmy is going through!!!.This book needs a sequel !!!”


  • I am jack’s brother and i have read your book and it is amazing.
    Will Jimmy ever be cured from cerebral palsy and will he met jasmine again?
    Your books are so amazing especially because it is based on an ordinary person.
    I love the way it starts by Jimmy going into a clock shop. It is amazing.
    from thomas
To all my readers, young and old, past, present and future, may I wish you all a very Merry Xmas.

New Website

I now have all of the updates added to my website and am really pleased with them. Andrew at Dragon Design has done a great job and I would highly recommend him to anyone who is looking for a website design.

Here’s the link – www.ianoneill.co.uk

Now all I have to do is sell a few books to pay for it!

One small line but a huge task. I’ve just read an article about an American author called Amanda Hocking who’s sold over 1 million e-books. She writes about the paranormal which is apparently a growing market worldwide.

Nothing amazing about an author selling 1 million e-books you may say, but she self published – now that is amazing. I know just how hard it is for any new writer to get their work noticed but when you self publish, you don’t have the machine behind you that does all of the marketing. So she literally has done it ALL herself.

You can see her blog here – http://amandahocking.blogspot.com/

She uses the term Indie writer which I like. It makes me think of all of those bands in the nineties who published their music with small independent music companies. Mainstream book publishers work to a format and if you don’t present work that fits within that you’ve got no chance, and most of them don’t even read your manuscripts when you submit them.

So fairplay to Amanda for bucking the system and beating the mainstream publishers. And the best thing of all is that she has now been signed up by one of the big publishers and has received a $2million advance for the privilege.

I’m not jealous of Amanda (well all right then, a bit), but I do truly find stories like hers inspiring. She worked hard and had a bit of luck, and we all need that.

So nose back to the grindstone.

For those of you who were wondering how many e-books I’ve sold – I checked with my publisher and it’s 3 – so only another 999, 997 to go :)






One year on

It’s hard to believe that it’s over a year since I published the Time Traveller’s Assistant. It seems like a world ago. I’ve learnt so much in that time, not just about writing but marketing too.

I’ve had some great feedback from kids, adults and reviewers, about the TTA, but sadly this hasn’t impacted on sales. I reckon I may have shifted around 300 copies in total.

The consenus among the people who’ve read the second book, Jimmy First and the Time Conflict is that my writing style is developing. I’m really pleased about that as it is particularly nerve wracking when you put out a new story to the world.

Anyway, I’ve republished the TTA with Authors Online. It has new text on the cover and I’ve removed some of the controversial language in the early part of the book so I’m hoping that schools will now be more willing to read it with their pupils.

So I will be promoting Jimmy First and Destiny’s Watch alongside Jimmy First and the Time Conflict. All being well Waterstones in MK will grant me a signing day in the not too distant future.