Five into Three

 

A Life of Choice is fact-based fiction, presently available as a five-part novel for Kindle. The story is the most popular title in my catalogue.

If my first attempts at this tale were included, A Life of Choice has been a work in progress for about twenty-two years. On the other hand if we were to treat my military service as research for the story—it goes back to forty-eight years.

Whatever else I published it was always important to me that I completed this project. It was heart-warming to see the first reviews from serving personnel and ex-Service personnel, of course, but to see glowing reviews from readers who’d never donned a military uniform—gratifying.

As with all of my writing, it was never my intention to publish in paperback, but like many things, I’ve decided to change course and take that step.

Why paperback?

– Since the first part was published as an eBook (two years ago), I’ve had requests to produce the story in paperback. There are many people out there who either have difficulty using a digital reader, or simply prefer a physical book.

– It will give me the opportunity to use the paperback version as a gift, or on occasion a ‘prize’ in draws for various military charities.

Do I expect to make a profit from sales of a paperback edition?

No.

– I don’t write to make money, which I like to think is reflected in the price range of my eBooks. My titles are competitively priced or they wouldn’t be treated seriously.

– By the very nature of indie paperback publication the individual books are expensive when compared to availability of the household names in any supermarket or bookstore.

– I’ve created the covers for my eBooks with a few exceptions—those being designed by a professional cover designer.

– This series will have covers created by Aimee Coveney of Author Design Studio.

What’s going on with the ‘Five into Three’?

I produced the story in logical parts to publish as eBooks, but the individual books would not justify the price set by Amazon for paperback versions—in my opinion.

Due to the the process and use of the data provided by the author, the Amazon KDP system requires exact information when relating an eBook to a paperback. I’m taking a risk, but trying to think outside the box.

A temporary cover idea.

– For the paperback version, the series will be broken into three parts. They will still be ‘logical’ parts, but of greater substance than their digital counterparts.

– To ensure the job is done properly I’ve spent many hours selecting where to move chapters from one book to another in order to adjust overall length. This has entailed amending the Preface and the Epilogue in each part.

– As I did with Amsterdam Calling, and Ten Days in Panama, I am underway with a complete revision of the story. The tale will remain the same, the humour or more serious aspects will stay in place, but the writing will be tighter. I will also be adjusting the use of uppercase letters for certain instances.

– Instead of associating the paperbacks directly with the eBooks within the Amazon system, I will sub-title the paperbacks as The Trilogy Edition. I’m in the process of writing appropriate jacket blurbs to highlight that it is the same story but in a different format. This will also forestall any conflict with Amazon and their ‘Matchbook’ process.

Will the updated writing have a detrimental effect on the eBook version?

No.

I will be using the rewritten chapters from within the paperback manuscripts to replace the chapters in the appropriate eBooks. In this way, the writing is updated but the front and back matter of each book remains constant.

How will I prevent issues with the publication of the ‘original’ and ‘updated’ editions of the eBooks?

I will prepare all five eBooks and update them in one session so that they’ll become ‘live’ on the Amazon system within hours of each other.

How will I ensure that ‘The Trilogy Edition’ paperback version is seen to be the same story?

– I will not publish any of the paperback versions until I have all three completed.

– As with the eBook updated versions, I will publish the three paperbacks in a single session, aiming for them to appear within hours. Paperbacks are not purchased as rapidly or frequently as eBooks so there isn’t as much pressure on timing.

A Life of Choice: The Trilogy Edition – Part One is completed.

There you have it, people.

In my next post I’ll report on how things are going with my conversion of five into three, and I’ll explain why my eBook publishing plans for this year have been altered.

As always, I thank all of you who take the time to visit and read my blog.

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A Life of Choice: Part Two – available

 

Signalman Rod Hogarth with B70 - circa 1973

Signalman Rod Hogarth with B70 – circa 1972

As the title suggests, this is the second episode of my coming-of-age story. My plan at the time of writing this post is to produce a series of five books, but this will depend on two factors.

1. How well the early books are received.

2. How any feedback affects the detail and content of the successive episodes.

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In Part One, ‘Innocence and Inebriation’ Jim Faulkner left a humdrum existence, and as a reserved 17-year-old went out into the world in an unexpected move. He joined the British Army and found himself facing trials and tribulations he’d never before considered.

 

In Part Two, ‘Paths and Progression’ our young man has congratulated himself on completing basic training, adventure training, and radio training. He’s spent a few months in his first working unit in the UK, and he finds new discoveries and adventures following arrival of the entire unit in Germany.

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For the benefit of anyone interested in such detail at this stage, the operator featured on the front cover of this volume is my good mate, and one-time fellow crew member Rod Hogarth. Here, Rod is depicted operating the obsolete B70 SHF radio set, and on this occasion it’s ground-based, mounted on a tripod.

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The introductory book of the series was published on 6th January 2016, and has reviews.

Recruits outside a Sandhurst Block in Catterick

Recruits outside a Sandhurst Block in Catterick

The second book has been published a week later than scheduled. It is a larger book than the first, because it focuses on a longer time period

My aim is to produce the next episode in October 2016.

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A Life of Choice: Part One

Amazon (Preview/Buy)         BookLinker (Universal)

A Life of Choice: Part Two

Amazon (Preview/Buy)          BookLinker (Universal)

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Seeing Red …

The Red Pen is mightier ...

The Red Pen is mightier …

In a blog post last year, I said I’d be revisiting my books to produce updated or revised versions. Whether the idea works or doesn’t, I believe it’s all about knowing whether the book is good enough – or not.

In the case of the book I’m highlighting in this post, the story took me four months to write, and eight months to amend by using my method of leaving it aside for alternate months.

It has taken me two weeks of non-stop effort to revise what has been out there for a couple of years.

I posted a request for opinions on the Facebook page of the Indie Author Support and Discussion group. One of my quandaries was whether or not to produce a banner on the cover when I’d completed my revised work. The general feedback was superb, as expected.

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Revision – creates the impression the first version wasn’t good enough.

Edition – creates the impression there might be more in time to come, especially if a date is used in conjunction with the word Edition.

Decision? I’ve abandoned the thought of either Revision or Edition as a banner. I’ve annotateded the blurb with ‘revised and updated – 2016’

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Ten Days in Panama - the cover 2904

Ten Days in Panama was my debut novel.

It still holds a special place in my heart. The story was intended as a romance rather than a thriller, but during the many rewrites over the year it took to produce the book, action evolved as an underlying theme.

Knowing no better, I thought romance-based thriller might work.

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Amazon – Universal (Preview/Buy)

Booklinker (if your country doesn’t support Amazon – Universal)

 

How has it performed?

It suffered in the early days due to an amateur cover, and because it was my first novel.

I paid to have a professional cover designed which created sales and taught me a valuable lesson. Since publication it would be fair to say it still sells, but not in great numbers.

Three and a half years have passed since first publication, and in that time I’ve learned many lessons.

I’ve written several more novels and I believe I’ve improved my craft.

I enjoy writing other genre, including romance, but my natural territory is action and thriller.

Without doubt, one of the most valuable lessons is to listen to others. Fortunately for me this is something I’ve done throughout my life. It was listening to others which prompted me to read the book again last year, and look closely at the writing – not the story.

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How have I dealt with the rewrite of Ten Days in Panama?

As I said I would, I read and made notes from every review, and then amended small points to tidy-up the plot. I had a particular passage brought to my notice by fellow author Julia Lund for which I owe her my thanks. Suffice to say I removed three large paragraphs and replaced them with one small one.

The passage was intended to highlight a fragile aspect of a main character’s psyche, and nobody else had seen it (and reported it) the way Julia did. My amendment to the scene has made the character’s issue apparent, but in a more subtle manner.

Evidence in the form of reviews would suggest the story is enjoyed by those who’ve reviewed, which is great news.

The main characters are well-rounded, readers care about them and how they are drawn together.

The locations, circumstances and imagery appeal to readers.

While they seemed important and strong to me when writing the action scenes, the thriller aspects are undoubtedly playing a supporting role – because whatever my intention, it is a romance.

This particular aspect of the tale was highlighted clearly by an insightful review by blogger, reviewer, writer and friend, Paul Ruddock.

I printed the story to work from hard copy, and I’ve given it the same effort I would afford to a new piece of work. Superfluous words have gone, and there were quite a few. The style is closer to what I would regard as my latest.

Working initially from a printed manuscript I took two weeks to edit, revise and rewrite the story. I’ve remained true to the original plot, however I would suggest it now reads better than previously.

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Where do I go from here?

My revised version of the story will now be marketed as romance, rather than thriller.

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How will I know if it works?

The first indication will be sales, and then of course any reviews which follow after the re-release in the new genre.

Should I receive good reviews after the revision I have a feeling a sequel will be on the cards. I have ideas in the pipeline, but I’ll have to be sure the characters are strong enough to go on.

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I’ve never been to Panama, however during the writing of the story I had incredible support from scientist, writer and dear friend Carmen Lopez. Using information gleaned from Carmen to ensure credibility but avoid legal action, no single character or location is exactly as it appears in reality. As I acknowledge in the front matter, without the aforementioned help, the story would have remained an idea.

In the original version of the story, apart from Panama City and Santiago I replaced the town names with fictional names. At the request of some of the folk who live in the region where the story is set, I have now used the real town names including: Torio, Malena and Coiba Island.

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As always, thank you for reading and now without further ado, here is the link to Amazon, and for those unable to use Amazon – Universal – a connection to Booklinker.

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P.S. I’ve checked the new sample and found two things.

The first two chapters can be read in their entirety.

Once again, the sample shows the sub-headings in different font sizes, but I’ve seen this occur in many samples. The ePub formatting remains true. 🙂

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A Time for Courage …

 

Yes, courage is a strong word and conjures up a variety of images, but it can also be measured in different ways. For the purpose of this post it will be aimed at:

Free this weekend: 23rd/24th January

1. My latest marketing strategy.
2. My next scheduled collection of short stories.
3. Indie writer attitudes.

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My latest marketing strategy.

I’ve already published my first book of this year, A Life of Choice: Part One, and I aim to have the second part published by April 2016. All is going to schedule with my other projects.

I said in a post last year that I’d stopped giving things away, but on a recent update of my catalogue I realised a word which carries international appeal is ‘FREE’.

Throughout 2016 I will promote a FREE title every month. On the weekend 16th / 17th January 2016 I set up The Welcome: and other Sci-Fi stories as FREE. My idea behind the move was to promote the title and my six guest authors.

During the weekend 23rd / 24th January 2016 I am offering A Taste of Honey as my first monthly freebie. To make things easier and more tempting to the international readership, I am using the new Amazon ‘preview/buy’ link.

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My next scheduled anthology.

Collection - A Time for CourageApart from the heading of this post, A Time for Courage is also the title of my next anthology. It will contain my preferred number of short stories (12), in a collection which will be military-themed.

I had intended to open this new collection to guest authors, but with very little interest when I floated the idea last year, I went ahead with a selection of my own ideas. There may be one or two stories borrowed from another anthology, but I believe cross-pollination is good.

At the time of writing this article I have 10 stories completed and two more in the late stages of my editing process, so I’m confident of my target publication date of late March 2016.

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Indie writer attitudes.

As a member of the Indie Author Support and Discussion (IASD) group, I’ve been instrumental in coaching new writers. No, I’m not the be-all-and-end-all when it comes to advice, but sometimes a little nudge is all a new writer needs.

Yes, I’ve been known to suggest that a ‘writer’ either works harder or finds another outlet, but I only do such a thing when I’ve worked hard to read past the first few paragraphs. On odd occasions it stands out when the person in question has an urge best kept to themselves.

We may be known as ‘indie’ but I like to think it stems more from the publishing aspect than the selfish, keep-it-to-myself attitude of some. I’ve only been a writer since 2007. I am not an authority on our craft, but I recognise when somebody’s heart is in the right place, and I will do all in my power to help. If my private offer is refused, I’ll back off – no offence taken.

IASD - globe (2)I’ve noticed at the other end of the scale we have a great number of new authors who have great storytelling skills, but they have little or no confidence in their ability. It may surprise those reading this, but I started like that, before realising the only person who could shout for me with any conviction in the early days – was me.

Authors with several titles are always asked for a piece of advice. I’m always open to take advice, but if I could offer a piece of advice to my peers it would be to lean on the rest of us. Yes, the first and general idea is ‘don’t give up’, but importantly, I believe having your work read, critiqued and read again are essential requirements.

We can’t judge our own writing, and anybody who shouts about how good their own work is will put me off the idea of reading any. Self-promotion is not about how good you think you are, but about letting people know you have titles out there. There is a big difference between self-belief and marketing.

I’m proud to be a member of the IASD, which in my opinion is the best writing group I’ve associated myself with, and I’ve been with a few. An honest opinion is never far away, but by the same token, it has to be sought.

As I said at the outset, this is A Time for Courage. We must work hard to produce a good story, and then edit, edit, and edit, before we ask for another person to give their views.A Taste of Honey

If you haven’t already tried my writing, here is A Taste of Honey, the title which is FREE this weekend.

Click on the cover to preview before downloading – if you like what you see:

As always, thank you for reading.

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2015 – A Year of Writing

 

Like many other writers, I enjoy turning a fresh page, whether it be reading, writing, or turning that page metaphorically. As we approach another year end / beginning, I’m taking a look back at my targets for 2015.

Firsts for 2015

I published A Taste of Honey in December 2014, so I was delighted to begin my new writing year with great reviews of my latest title.

In that happy frame of mind, I set myself the following aims:

1.  Update the ‘back pages’ information in all of my books.
2.  Read and review more work by the members of the IASD writing group.
3.  Step in quietly and offer assistance to new / novice writers wherever possible.
4.  Update my author website, creative writer and artist website, and this blog.
5.  Attempt a book or series for children.
6.  Write a new novel.
7.  Write a sequel to one of my present novels.
8.  Write another anthology of short stories.
9.  Work harder at my ongoing project of my fact-based fiction, coming-of-age story.
10. Work hard to make my blog topics interesting.

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How did I do with my ten general topics?

1.  I updated the information for the back pages of my published titles, and set out a standard document to make the process simpler as I moved forward.

2.  I read and reviewed 15 books in the IASD.

3.  I’ve given assistance to three novice authors directly from our group. At the time of writing I am editing a fellow writer’s debut novel. I’ll be formatting the finished manuscript, and producing the cover for him in 2016.

4.  I updated my two personal websites and my blog, and in an ongoing effort to streamline and improve them, I’ve gone on to overhaul my secondary website and this blog twice more within the past year.

5.  On my first attempt at writing for children, I failed on several levels, but rather than dwell on a specialised genre where I recognise I don’t belong, I decided to leave the genre to those who write it well.

6.  A fresh novel was beginning to look like another thriller, but I decided to throw caution to the wind and based on the success of my erotica anthology – I wrote a novel in the same genre.

In September, I published Give & Take: a Tale of Erotica.

7.  My first sequel saw the light of day, after a lot of procrastination, planning, and hard work – and then of course it was rewritten several times.

In November, I published Beyond The Law: Retribution.

8.  I started the year with three ideas for an anthology, and following the offer of including work by guest authors, the anthology was eventually created.

In December, I published, The Welcome: and other Sci-Fi stories, a collection of 15 stories, six of which are from guest authors.

9.  My fact-based fiction novel is now taking shape as my first attempt at a series. It is presently intended to be a five-part story. The first book is ready to be formatted.
A Life of Choice – Part One will be published on Amazon in January 2016.

10. I’ve written blog articles on marketing, blogging, writing anthologies, and a few other topics. My official followers have now risen to the dizzy heights of 170+.

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What else have I been up to?

writingmagazineI had an article in Writing Magazine in March, highlighting my writing successes to date.

I wrote Goals, a short story for the charity anthology, You’re Not Alone, being produced by Ian D Moore. Stories from 28 members of the IASD were included and it went live on Amazon in July. Book cover - You're Not Alone

I wrote Faith, Hope, and Charity, a short story for Holes, an IASD anthology produced by Eric Lahti, as a marketing tool for our members.

Holes snip

I wrote the poem Whisper Wood, for inclusion in a children’s anthology of stories and poetry being produced by Sylva Fae. The collection will be published in 2016.

I’ve been interviewed by Christoph Fischer, and had a Recommended Read award from Patrick (Max) Power.   Max Pwr Rec Read

Since October, I’ve been working hard on the IASD website with fellow Admin guys, Paul Ruddock and Ian D Moore. The restructuring is complete and the new, improved version of our website will be posted for public viewing in January, complete with our first Featured Author of 2016.

IASD - globe 2I’ve signed up to another couple of websites too, but whether they will prove useful in the long run is hard to predict.

My most recent trial has been signing up to BookLinker. This is a site where a regular Amazon URL can be transformed into a ‘universal’ link. I’ve been using the links on Facebook and I’ll be reporting my findings in January 2016.

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That’s about it for this year, so I’d like to say a sincere thank you to all who have played a part in my writing journey over the past 12 months, whether it be in buying my titles, reviewing, offering advice, reading my blog, or any number of other things.

Have a great end to the holiday season, thank you for checking out my scribbles again, and I’ll see you all in 2016 with a new set of projects.

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Amazon Bitch – the results

Amaazon author page - crpdAmazon.com Author Page   Amazon.co.uk Author Page

In October 2014 here on my blog, I produced two posts related to self-publishing, and my experiences. For those of you like me who have an aversion to percentages and targets in their private life – I am not intending to give figures, only a general overview.

For the benefit of those who didn’t see the posts, and to refresh the memories of those who were kind enough to read them, I will summarise both posts before I go on.

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Amazon Bitch – Part 1 of 2
I related a brief history of my self-publishing experience on various platforms. It couldn’t help but be brief, because I’ve only been on the scene since 2012.

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Amazon Bitch – Part 2 of 2
My second post of the pair was aimed at sharing ten personal tips to aid success in the world of self-publishing. Prior to making my list I did not refer to the other zillion posts on the Internet with ten tips for success. My wish was to focus on what I knew.
In closing the second post I suggested that I would return with an update if my figures reached a healthy level. For ‘healthy’ in the world of self-publishing, read ‘breathing unaided’.

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It was as we entered November 2014 that I reached a point where my novels, short story anthologies and poetry anthologies were all published on Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). Having freed myself from other publishers I enrolled all of my work on Kindle Direct Publishing Select (KDP Select), and in the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library (KOLL).

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At this point I’d like to bring up something that may have been overlooked, or misunderstood by some authors. The Amazon Terms and Conditions for publishers are long-winded and detailed, so before you tick all the little boxes and publish all over the place, spend a while reading their terms. If you transgress and you are found out, you could come unstuck. As a guide, it took me 30 minutes to read the terms and conditions.

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Okay, let’s get back on track. By November 2014, I had all of my books published on Amazon and I submitted myself completely. One of my fantasies has always been to submit myself to an Amazon. In this case it was to give my books a chance.

By enrolling on KDP Select my books gained me more royalties, and on KOLL, to buy or borrow was the reader’s choice.
Within a week my novels were being borrowed, which means I was getting royalties from readers who might go on to borrow more of my titles, if they enjoyed the first one.

It should be considered too, that if we humans feel the need to offer our opinion, we do, so that old advertising ploy, ‘word of mouth’ comes into play.

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By the end of November I saw an increase in sales on all of my novels and a regular trickle of borrowing across my entire portfolio – yes, including my poetry series. Really!
In order to stimulate sales, I tried the option of giving away a book for a day. If you want to see a spike in your Amazon sales graph, give a book away for a day and tell Twitter and a couple of Facebook groups. I’ve now employed that tactic a couple of times and it works.

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How does it work for the author by giving away a book?
It works for this author, because at the back of all of my books I have a list of my other titles and each has a brief synopsis.

Looking at my figures from early November 2014 to the end of January 2015, I’m pretty confident that I’m gaining repeat business from readers.

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Does it work being an Amazon bitch?
Personally, I believe it works for me. I have no connection to any of the other publishers and I don’t sell my books from my author website. There is absolutely no chance of me breaking any rules because I’ve affiliated myself to one publishing house.
I don’t conduct a daily sales check, because that would drive me insane, but I do check my sales weekly, and against the marketing ideas I try on a particular date.
The Books page on my author website offers links to both main Amazon websites to buy my work and I think that’s working for me. We reap what we sow, especially in self-publishing, and I take nothing for granted.

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I hope as always that at least some of this has been of benefit to my peers out there. If you are a novice at the self-publishing business and you haven’t read the two posts mentioned in my intro, please consider checking them out – my points are for the benefit of all of us. atasteofhoney(1)

A Taste of Honey was not included in my previous posts, due to it being published in December 2014.

The good news is that sales are climbing and reviews are favourable.
Thank you for taking the time to consume my thoughts. All feedback is welcome.

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Amazon Bitch – Part 2 of 2

£ $ £ $ £ $ £ $ £ $ £ $ £ $ £ $ £ $ £ $

We can lie and fall into the self-denial category, or we can come right out and admit that we may enjoy our writing, but we would like to make some … no, a lot of money from it. I’d love to see one of my stories being adapted as the basis of a movie, but maybe that’s a topic for another post.

My suggestions on how to be successful with sales are based on my own experience, not on a list provided on the Internet. There are several on there, I know.Smoke & Mirrors 020614

1. Present your books to the best standard you can. Consider the actual writing, punctuation, grammar, editing and formatting. Do not under any circumstances publish something that has only been written in one draft. My average for a novel is four drafts. My short stories usually take about six or seven drafts.

2. Pay to have eBook covers designed. Sales of my novels increased dramatically after I’d had the covers designed by a professional. Expensive perhaps, but following the revamped covers, the sales of one of my novels paid for the covers of all three novels in less than three months.

3. More than one title assists sales, but that doesn’t mean you should rush out your next book. Take your time, get it right and watch your books sell because readers trust your name and brand. Do not allow your name to be discredited by a poor book – and poor reviews.

4. Increase your social platform. There was a time when I scoffed at social media, but now I use it daily. Why? I post a link to my author website on three different Facebook groups daily. I occasionally post on Twitter, but not as often.

5. If an author website is beyond your reach financially, get a blog organised in the meantime. My first blog lasted over a year before I realised how many mistakes I was making with the content.

6. Only when you have two or more books to promote – consider an author website. If a website is out of reach – use a blog template to build an author website, but treat it as an author website – not a blog. If necessary, set up two blogs. One used as a blog, and the other as an author website. If you have any issues about the difference, please feel free to check my own.

7. Organise an Amazon Author Central page. This can be done on both the UK site and the US site. I have a page on both.

8. Review the work of your peers, and don’t stick to your own genre. I’ve reviewed Young Adult, Supernatural, Romance, Thriller, Suspense, Erotica, The Classics, Humour, Science Fiction and Children’s books. You will gain by:
a) possibly learning something, and, b) the recipient author and others might even check out your work. We all need each other, and we need to do our best in writing and support.

9. Price your books appropriately. Use common sense and remember you might become the next Stephen King, or Jackie Collins, but until you are at that level – be honest and realistic, not over-confident and greedy.

10. If you intend to produce a collection of short stories, publish a couple on one or two reading and writing sites and get feedback / reviews / critiques from total strangers. That really is a wake-up call. Make the number of stories in an anthology worthwhile.

Coming Around - 020714

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However you read into my blog posts or my occasional Facebook rant, I am not a know-it-all, and I accept that I sometimes make a mistake, but I put myself and my writing through the wringer. I give many hours over to learning about and improving my craft.

We owe it to each other and to the industry not to put something out there half-cocked. If your mum, dad, brother, sister, boyfriend, girlfriend, or Auntie Agnes likes your writing then I’m happy for you – but please don’t take their word for it that you’ve got it right and you’re good.

Why do I rant about getting the writing as good as we can?
1. Would you ride a bike, or drive a car with loose wheel nuts?
2. Would you buy a keyboard with two letters missing?

We are asking people to give us money for these things that we write. It’s a transaction whereby we suggest that what we’ve produced is worth money, and the buying public pay their hard-earned money in good faith.

I keep my book prices low. I don’t do it because I’m rich, because I’m not. I also don’t do it because I haven’t made any effort, because I work damn hard. I keep my prices low because I’m not a household name and I’m realistic. I want to build my personal brand and I will only be able to do that with a good catalogue of books that have received good reviews and are making sales.

I can sense that I’m going off on a tangent, but I hope I’ve managed to get at least a couple of points out there.

Lest I forget, I don’t expect to see my sales increasing after leaving Kobo and Smashwords, but within 24 hours of enrolling on the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library my books were being borrowed again. If it gets to a healthy level I’ll write a post.

All comments are welcome as always and thank you for reading.

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Amazon Bitch – Part 1 of 2

Yes, I’m coming out as an Amazon Bitch.

Ten Days in Panama - the cover 2904

Apart from reading conventional books, as a Kindle user it was logical for me to self-publish on Amazon when I eventually took the plunge.

I published Ten Days in Panama in November 2012, happy to leave it and get on with other projects. Sales were occasional and single figures inside any given month.

I published Beyond The Law in October 2013 and it made sales quite fast, comparatively speaking. It also reached double figures in one month before I made any effort to ‘promote’ it on social media. Beyond The Law - the cover 2904

In both cases I enrolled in the KDP Select (KDPS), and Kindle Owners’ Lending Library (KOLL). I figured that a little bit of extra publicity would be good, even if it meant that some folk might borrow my hard work, instead of buying it.

My sales increased a little – for three reasons.
1.  I had more than one book on the system. The more titles you have out there, the better.
2.  I was making an occasional sale to far off lands like Japan and India, and I saw my books being sold, and occasionally borrowed.
3.  I increased my social platform, which in my case meant going on Twitter and Facebook more often than twice per month – and I joined a couple of Facebook groups.

I tend to work on more than one project on an ongoing basis, so May and June of 2014 saw publication of my two short story anthologies, which were rapidly followed by my third novel, Amsterdam Calling in July 2014. I didn’t enrol any of these on the KDPS or KOLL schemes.
Amsterdam Calling - the cover 260714

In July 2014, I allowed my 90 days to expire on my first two novels, so I was free to publish elsewhere. I published all of my work on Kobo and also on Smashwords. During 2013 – 2014 I published my five-book series of poetry anthologies and they increased my profile.

Bang up to date and by mid-October 2014, I had not sold a single copy of anything on Kobo. The books sold on Smashwords only just made it to double figures. Neither of those sites has worked for me. Over the same period I’ve watched sales of my novels increase steadily on Amazon, but the reasons I will relate in the second part of this tale.

With effect from 21st October 2014, I have unpublished from both Kobo and Smashwords. As soon as I had confirmation, I went to my Amazon bookshelf and enrolled my full collection on both KDPS and KOLL.
In the next post I’ll talk about how to increase sales, in my humble opinion.
Thank you for reading and any comments.

See you at the weekend for Part 2.

Coming Around and other erotic stories – available

Coming Around - 020714 Coming Around and other erotic stories, is now available on Amazon for Kindle owners and on Smashwords for other eReader owners, like Kobo.

Live links:

Amazon.co.uk £1.96*

Amazon.com  $3.29*

Smashwords.com $3.29*

*These prices are estimated due to the publishing sites sometimes being out by a few pence/cents.

I’m now registered with Kobo Writing Life, but due to content issues with their extensive Terms and Conditions I will not be publishing this book there. With effect from July 2014 I will be publishing all my other titles with Kobo. I apologise for any inconvenience to Kobo reader users.

This collection is an even bigger experiment than my novels. I will first of all be keen to see if it sells, but how it’s accepted and whether anybody leaves a review is very important to me.

I’ve already decided and said so in the inside information, if I capture sufficient interest and reviews I’ll seriously consider a novel in this genre.

Whether or not you buy, you can go to Amazon or Smashwords to sample.

Thank you for coming by.

V … is for Value

V[1] is for value. In writing terms it is also for vanity, vocabulary, voice, viewpoint, visual, and a few other very useful words, but today I’m looking at value.

Once again, I’ll use my own situation, which will make it easier for me to explain, and perhaps easier for a fellow writer to understand.

I spent a considerable time on both of the novels I’ve already got out there as eBooks on Amazon. I’m conscious of the fact that I’m a relatively unknown author. Like anybody who writes, I’d like to make money from it, and feel a bit more professional about the whole thing, but I’m also realistic.

How about an example?

I know a local writer, who we’ll imaginatively refer to as Mr X, who has two thrillers on Amazon, using the same route as me to sell his work, via e-publishing. I read his first book and wasn’t impressed by certain aspects of it, so my review wasn’t glowing. I sampled the second book, but even the first five screens were enough to warn me off. I didn’t buy it.

That author has a lot of self-belief, but I think he’s confusing effort with ability. I also know he wants something for nothing. By keeping my ear to the ground I know that there are not a lot of sales going his way.

You may think I’m being a bit bitchy, but please consider the following question.

Would you spend £4.99 ($8.00) on an eBook written by an unknown author?

For me to do that, I’d have to be impressed by the blurb and the sample reading. Mr X books are not value for money in my humble opinion.

Why do I believe Mr X is wrong?

Until we become recognised, even in a small way, we should be considering:

1.  The value for money for our prospective readers (customers).

2.  The value of our prospective readers (customers) budget for spending on books (eBooks or otherwise).

 3.  The true literary, and monetary value of our writing in comparison to an established author’s work.

4. The true value or merit, of our early works.

5. The value and credibility of our name as an author if we aim too high, too early in our aspirations.

Now, having listed those, I know there could have been more, but I feel that my short lists are more effective, because they both help my blog readers to focus, and to use their own imagination.

How do I deal with the value issue?

For any out there thinking, ‘this is all about his writing,’ and ‘why does it matter how he does it?’. I make no apologies. Anybody with a basic knowledge of our craft, will understand the marketing issues inherent in our solitary world.

We must employ self-promotion, as much as it goes against the grain at first.

To put it succinctly, although I use my techniques, and my book titles to create examples, it doesn’t follow that I believe I’m the best to give advice.

Okay, for any critics out there, that was my version of a disclaimer. I hope it was enough, because my big pitch about value is imminent.

How do I price my eBooks?

I maintain a reasonably low price for my eBooks, which is about half the price of the ones mentioned earlier, published by Mr X.

Why do I do that if they’re selling better?

Value.

 1.  I’m confident that all my new readers get value for money.

2.  I’m confident that I’m not asking much of a price for somebody to give my writing a chance.

3.  I know I’m not a household name, so I don’t try to compete with them (yet).

4.  I know my method is working, because I designed my own covers to start with. Sales of my eBooks have now paid for two of them to be designed professionally. That will I’m sure be a fresh investment.

5.  For me, the true value of patience, hard work, and not being greedy is simple; I am my own ‘brand’.

As soon as this post is published online, I’m putting together the final formatting for my first collection of short stories, ‘Smoke & Mirrors and other stories’. I’ll come back later and add a live link, plus of course it will have a place on my main menu here at Tom Benson – Creative.

There are 12 stories in the book, and it will be going out at a low price, because not every story will appeal to every reader. For now, I’ve designed my own cover, but that will change.

This latest venture I believe provides value to my prospective readers (customers), because of the variety of tales from an unknown author.

It provides value for me, because perhaps there will be those that enjoy my style and follow up by buying into my novels.

What price are you prepared to pay in £’s or $’s to try out a new author’s work in eBook format?  

My sincere thanks as always for putting yourself through this literary quagmire of fact and opinion. I’ll be back tomorrow with ‘W’.