Archive | March, 2013

Yippee!! I Have Got A Book Publishing Deal

26 Mar

As a Non-American, AWESOME is a special occasion word – which is a shame as “awesome” is an awesome word and one which I feel we should all use more often.

But today, in Sam-land – awesome is here to be used and abused: because I am feeling AWESOME.


Today I am holding a copy of my signed and sealed book publishing deal contract.  And I reckon that makes today pretty awesome.  But perhaps, what is even more awesome is how close to NOT happening this book deal almost was.

So what’s the story?

Well you may remember I have a slight obsession-slash-addiction to buying property at auction.  You may also have noticed how I love writing about buying property at auction.

Then one fine day last year, I realised there was not a book out there which comprehensively guided you through the entire process of buying property at auction.

I was astounded.  Homes Under The Hammer have been on air for a gazillion years and I couldn’t believe they had never published a book.

But the fact was, they hadn’t.

And so I mused.

I mulled and pondered over the issue.

And then I started writing.

I wrote the outline, a proposal and a sample chapter and sent it off to a few agents and one publisher.

And then I heard nothing more.

Well, that’s a bit of an over-simplified way of saying nothing more happened (which it didn’t) but, if you want the more detailed version, what actually happened was: out of the 4 agents I contacted, 3 said “No, too specialised”.

The fourth agent (who appeared to be very impressive and had at least one author in the New York Times Best Seller List every week) seemed pretty lacklustre when it came to me.  But, he informed me he would take a “punt” on me and in return I would give him 15% of my global earnings on ANYTHING I EVER did ANYWHERE.  Yes, that’s right.  15% of ME went straight to him.

And I got the distinct impression I was meant to be grateful to him for taking this “punt” on me, which in return would see him owning 15% of my future life anywhere.

But, you know I didn’t feel grateful one iota.  I don’t buy into all that “I am so lucky” shit.  You’re lucky, because you make you’re own luck.  That’s my view.

So anyway.  That all happened.  It was all a bit boring and non-eventful.

Then I got busy and sold my agency.

Then I got bored and wondered what to do with my life.

Then I thought I should write my property auction book again…and in the meantime meet with some people who knew what they wanted to do with their lives.  I figured their “directional-knowledge” may help me with my next adventure and what I should do when I grow up…

So I met with a guy called James Dearsley.  He contacted me to meet up and discuss Augmented Reality.  It was a bit random and I didn’t have a clue what he was talking about.  But it sounded clever and funky and I thought I should meet him.

So we met.

And we didn’t really talk about Augmented Reality.  Because it turned out James used to be a bee-keeper, and had written a book.

*WOW* I was so super-impressed!

So I told him.

I shared with him my desire to write my property auction book and how I got side-lined, distracted, put-off and everything else.  And then how I had recently decided I was going to focus again and get it finished and self-publish it.

He looked at me with disdain.

“What a cop-out” he said, scornfully.

I was rather taken-aback – I didn’t really know this guy and I thought he was being a bit too blunt for such early days…

“You, of all people should not self-publish.  You are a great writer and you should get a proper publisher”

I tried to explain to him all the reasons why I was going to self-publish, but he rebuffed them all with such contempt I ended up feeling like a complete and utter dick-for-brains.

And I left the meeting feeling like a complete loser.

And I was really quite annoyed.

So I decided to ignore him and just focus on writing again.

I was going great guns and just a couple of days later I saw my ex-boss from my marketing days.  He asked me what I was doing now without the agency and I excitedly told him about the property auction book I was going to self-publish.

“Are you crazy?  What sort of damp squib are you going to look like if you self-publish.  You should know better than that, Sam.  Get yourself a proper publisher and do it properly”.  He chastised.

I was pretty pissed off.  I was hugely excited to be writing a proper, actual book and I didn’t get why me self-publishing made me such a loser.

And I was feeling really quite annoyed by the whole situation.  So I emailed the one publisher I had emailed a few months previous with the following one-liner:

“Hi,  I was just wondering if you had any news for me with regards my book proposal?”

I kept it brief and to the point as I didn’t expect a reply, or anything more to happen.

Imagine my sheer and utter f**king amazement when 10 minutes later the publisher replies to me:

“Yes, glad you reminded me, had forgotten about this – we have an acquisition meeting at the end of the month and we’ll present your proposal then”

I was stunned.

I sat there looking at the email again.

I googled what an “acquisition meeting” was and I swear I almost wet my pants.  An “acquisition meeting” was where proposals were discussed and potential purchases agreed.

I sat there looking at the email again and my google findings.

Seriously, could this actually be happening?

The end of the month was the following week.

The following week, I get an email from the publisher with an invite to a pub lunch.

Over a brie, bacon and cranberry sauce baguette they offer me a publishing deal.

I try very hard not to squeal like a pig on heat and act all business-like.

And it works.

We negotiate contracts, clauses, copyrights and all other such manner of fascinating bits-and-bobs.

Until we reach an agreement – and signatures.

So now the deal is done.

The book is almost ready (in the background I have been merrily scribbling away and crossing my fingers that all will turn out OK).

And it has.

And the funny thing is, without the random words of (what I took at the time to be unkind-ness) this book publishing deal would never have happened.

So the moral of the story: Use feeling like a loser to become a winner.


* Image supplied:



A Shameless Cry For Help

22 Mar

I know, I hate it when people do this – but I’m sorry it can’t be helped..

I WANT to be nominated for the Prime Location Blog Awards 2012

And so I am having to ask for your help please!

As a previous winner for Best Blog Post with Today I got rid of squatters from my London flat and as a former runner up for Best Blog, I would seriously LOVE to be nominated for these awards again so I get a chance to win!

Please help me 🙂

The closing date is 25 March 2013 – so not long!!

You can nominate for me here

There are a few categories, but Best Blog, Best Blog Post and Users’ Favourite Blog seem to be the most appropriate – although you are, of course, free to vote as you wish.

If you are voting for Best Blog Post, please note this is only for posts published during 2012

Sending you lots of juicy kisses for all your support x


Rockefeller Didn’t Rock My Boat

22 Mar

“It’s all about the view” said Alex, charm personified.

Alex had glided over to me at the private viewing and evening reception for the Du Parc Kempinski private residences in the heart of the Swiss Riviera.

I turned to look at the view:

kempinski du parc

Admittedly, it was spectacular.

But, you know for a 2 bed apartment with a starting price of £4million I have certain expectations – a half decent view is something I would take as a given.

And maybe I’m spoilt – but I’ve seen better views.

So I told him.

Unflappable, as only a professional from Knight Frank could be, Alex continued to soothe and sell.

Because, not only does this multi-million pound apartment buy you spectacular views, it buys you an “exceptional lifestyle” – an “unprecedented standard of Swiss living”.  The ad on the wall expounds to me the benefits of such a lifestyle:


But somehow I am left feeling flat.

The grand lobby, home cinema, wine cellar, golf club membership, Davidoff cigar lounge, fitness and wellness centre, Rockefeller living, Kempinski 5 star service and promise of a “quintessentially elite service” just feel a bit *meh*.

Of course, quite obviously I am not a target customer – target customers are High Net Worth Individuals, which means at least £10 million cash, or Ultra High Net Worth which is £100 million cash at disposal.

So maybe I just didn’t “get it”.

I sipped my Laurent Perrier some more and looked around me.

138kempinski du parckempinski du parc

I had multiple life-size images of Claudia Schiffer, 2 giant iPads attached to the wall and a plastic looking model of what the “exceptional living” complex looks like.

It’s no wonder I was unimpressed: I used to work in marketing selling pints of beer for a few quid and we would have put on a better show than this.

At this end of the market, when you’re worth so much bloody money you expect and demand more.  You expect to be dazzled and wowed.  You expect a show.  You expect a full-on experience.  You expect more than a few posters, giant iPads and a model building.

You want to feel the coolness of the Swiss environment, you want to smell and taste the crispness of the air, you want to really feel and experience the quintessentially elite service and 5 star appeal of Kempinski – and handing out duck canapes, no matter how delicious they are – just do not cut the mustard.

But, of course, a High Net Worth or Ultra High Net Worth will most likely not attend an event such as this.  If you’re lucky, they may send an intermediary.  But, even that intermediary needs to be impressed. That intermediary needs to buy into the “why’s” of this exceptional living to go back and report to the boss.

Rockefeller Estates may well have created a luxury development “tailored to the needs of enlightened lifestyle connoisseurs”.   But, personally, I think somebody in their marketing department needs to be enlightened!


No Money Down Property Deals: Dream On…

20 Mar

I know this post will be popularly unpopular.


Contrary to what many self-proclaimed “property gurus”, property network meets and exorbitantly priced “teach-me-how-to-buy-property-for-nothing” courses say: property investment requires money.

It doesn’t have to be mega-bucks, but property investment does require SOME money.

The fact is, no matter what anyone says – whether it’s a claimed Lease Option Deal, a No Money Down Deal, or a Below Market Value Deal – to buy any sort of property deal you NEED money.

Money is the lifeblood of ALL property deals.

And I know that’s unpopular: because there is a whole industry built on trying to convince people you don’t need money to invest in property – it’s the “No Money Property Investment World”.

And the fact is, it’s hugely aspirational.  And it’s hugely in demand.

Of course anybody in their right mind would want to own something for nothing which they could make money from.  I mean, how ideal is that – I get to own something for nothing and then make money from that something? Where do I sign?

But the fact is, property cannot be owned for nothing.  Property always costs something – how much of a “something” all depends on your investment criteria and where you want to buy.

But let me ask you a question: if you have no money and are trying to buy property – why are you trying to buy property?

If you don’t have any money to buy property in the first place, how are you going to find the money to maintain it, or fix the problems when they go wrong? And they will go wrong.

Don’t kid yourself.

Properties always go wrong – and I have yet to find a plumber who will accept buttons in return for fixing a temperamental boiler (although I haven’t yet tried that ruse with the electrician).

And you may think the “ideal tenant” who is going to rent your “free” property is going to pay you a shed-load of money on time and keep your head above water.  You may think there is enough net income left over every month for you to squirrel away the surplus and start saving towards your next property purchase (what am I saying, that will be “free” again, of course) but the fact is: sometimes tenants do not pay rent.  It may be for a whole raft of reasons that the tenant is not going to pay rent – but then what?

What are you going to do?

With no money and non-paying tenants how are you going to reclaim your “free” house?

The fact is: solicitors and court cases cost money.  They have not attended the same network meets and “buy-property-for-free-and-everything-will-be-allright” courses.  They have not met the “property guru” who knows how to do everything for free.

Because the truth is: they live in the real world of property investment.

The real world of property investment is a mean, bad, money-grabbing world which most novice investors cannot get their head around.  They do not want to hear the truth of “property investment requires real money to invest”.  Content with living a lie, these novice investors would rather attend a network meet, course or buy a book and be told how they can buy property for nothing.  How they can buy property for less than a can of Tesco Value Baked Beans.

They do not want the harsh reality that property investment actually requires REAL money.

Because that is not the dream of property investment.

Well, now it is time to wake up.  Get real.

If you want to invest in property, get some money.  It doesn’t have to be much.  But you do need a few grand to start with.

Only then, when you have actually got some money in the bank can you start thinking about investing in property.

Until then – enjoy your dream of buying property for nothing – coz that’s all it is.


My Perfect Bulgarian Bolthole: Wild Pigs, A River, NO Gypsies And A *THRUSTING* Local!

18 Mar

So I’ve decided to look for dirt cheap property deals.  And I mean “dirt cheap”.  I mean so dirt cheap, that dirt would probably be cheaper.

And so what better place to start my bargain hunting than looking for property at auction.

So I’ve been on eBay and I’ve found a load of bargain priced properties in Bulgaria.

I’ve found houses, farms, flats with free TV’s and fridge freezers, sea view apartments, barns for conversion, woodland, mountains and all manner of cheap, cheap property which could be bought with a click of a button and a little ping from PayPal.

But seriously, are people seriously buying property off eBay?

I know it’s tempting.

I, too, was tempted by this property which currently has a bid price of £620.

Bulgaria property for sale

The property benefits from having a “river” and I get to hunt wild pigs for “some months” plus there are no gypsies.  Which, until now, I had not realised the benefit of.  And if that wasn’t enough, I can take comfort in the fact that “many rich people from Sofia own houses here for holidays and Brits and Hollands too”.  And, of course, there is an asphalt road.

All I have to do is press the “Place Bid” button and turn up in Bulgaria to claim my Wild Pig Hunting Home (for some months) with my passport and an extra 900 Leva (500 Euros) which I will give to the notary to cover the cost of the transfer and then I will become the owner of the property.  Conveniently, there is even a bus I can take from the airport.

Which really makes it too good an opportunity to miss: so I have added it to my “watchlist”.

Sadly, I have missed what appeared to be the very real Bulgarian property bargain of the week which has recently sold for the measly sum of £541.

So what do you get for £541?

Well, this “Bulgarian Old Rural House” has a built area of 65sqm on a plot size of 631sqm and is located just 90km to the Danube river, which I guess when you are in the middle of nowhere, may as well be located according to the nearest big geographic “attraction”.

Bulgarian property for sale

And I know the property looks a little ramshackle, however I do feel comforted by the vendor’s claims that:

“Our Company has it own building company with employees builders not the rakia drinking village idiot who promises every thing and get nothing done”

Which says a lot.

And if I don’t believe what the company is saying they appear to advise buyers to RING THE BULGARIA EMBASSY AND ASK YOU WILL NOT GET A DIRECT BULL THERE”

Which is lucky, as if I manage to win the bid on the first property, I am not sure the bull will get on with the wild pigs.

And I don’t think this company is just selling the dirtiest or cheapest properties in Bulgaria because they say: “We start away from the cheapest poorest areas of Bulgaria we try to sell within 80 km to the Black sea we try to keep to the hot spot so when the market will take of again you would of all made a good profit”

Which is fabulous news – because when the market takes off again, I am going to make a killing and maybe even some sort of pseudo-sacrifice of the wild pigs.  And the bull.  If I ever found one.

And just in case I had any qualms about buying property off the internet, I feel confident in the knowledge the vendor says:

“Our COMPANY IS SELLING cheap Bulgarian properties in Bulgaria for over 7 years now”

Which made me feel good….until I checked out their feedback score as a seller and saw that the majority of their feedback was based on selling “replica” bank notes from seemingly any currency and any denomination in the world (ahem!).

But really for me, the deal was really struck when I googled the place name to see whether there was a Wikipedia entry on it.  I felt I should know more; I should learn more about this place where properties can be bought for £541.

But what I have found is, I believe, concrete evidence of Raki drinking of the locals.  I am not convinced that such *thrusting* would be possible or even conceivable without even the tiniest of drops of the anise-flavored liquor.

Anybody fancy joining me on a hunt?