My Writing Year – 2017

 

I’m exhausted, but content as we are teased to the end of the writing year.

Completed in 2017

In many ways, this has been a productive and enjoyable year. My writing aims were achieved with the exception of two areas.

– I placed a variety of my titles on Kobo for four months and saw nil return for my efforts.

– I postponed tackling paperback to allow more time for producing my target titles.

What were my reading and writing achievements?

– I read thirty books – twenty of which, were by IASD authors.

– I published all seven titles which I had either in progress or intended for this year.

– I created the early stages of Codename: Nightshade, a standalone thriller which is a spinoff from the Beyond The Law trilogy.

The ‘Tom Benson – Author’ catalogue at end of 2017

 

– In March, I separated my erotica titles from this blog and set up Tom Benson – Erotica

– In July, my study received a makeover, and I got an early birthday pressie – a Mac.

More views available on slideshow to top right

– In September, our son, Andrew treated me to a four-day break in Prague, Czech Republic – to celebrate my retirement year. This spawned the idea for a new thriller — Czech Mate. Many photos were taken and pages of notes written in research.

 

 

 

 

– In the first week of November, I turned 65 and finally retired from regular work. Another celebration trip was made, and on this occasion, I went to Edinburgh, Scotland with my wife. While there I took photos, made more notes and walked miles in research for Czech Mate. The main character is from Edinburgh. 🙂

 

– As this year comes to a close I will cease to hand out my work for free. For over two years I’ve given away one, or a number of titles for a weekend each month. How much impact the venture has had on my sales is unclear, but somewhere along the way I’ve had reviews from folk generous enough to give their time. My freebies were worthwhile for that if nothing else.

 

– When December got underway I dropped the price of A Life of Choice: Part One. Now that the series is complete and there are a few sales, I thought it might stimulate interest if the first volume in the series was only 99p (and equivalents).

 

– During December, my Highland Games erotica novellas are available at 99p each. If you haven’t ventured into reading this genre, you know what they say — don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. 😀

 

 

 

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– Throughout the year I was proud to be a part of, and play my part in the Admin of the Indie Author Support and Discussion (IASD) group. For me, this involved assisting in the maintenance of the group website, and the updating of the monthly Featured Author.

– During 2017, I continued as mentor for my distant friend, Carmen, to help produce her first collection, Alone: and other short stories. The stunning cover was designed by Carmen’s partner, Bryce. The book will be published later this month and I will post links appropriately when it goes ‘live’. I supplied three of my stories to support this debut title.

Carmen was my key resource and support during the writing of Ten Days in Panama. She is also one of the guest authors in my collection, The Welcome: and other Sci-Fi stories.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What lies ahead for my new writing year?

All will be revealed in my first post of 2018, but suffice to say, I’m going to be busy.

I will take this opportunity to thank all who read my work, and those who make the effort to read my thoughts and check on my progress. I sincerely hope your old writing year has been good to you, and your new year will be better yet.

Tom

 

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A Stage further …

 

Yes, I’m a happy man. I’m filled with a sense of achievement as I compose this post. This is not something about which I’d normally boast, but hey, it’s special.

As I reach this point in my life I have already put a sequence in place for my monthly freebies on Amazon.

It’s only three weeks until I give up my retail job, and one week later I’m officially retired. The act of retirement is a conclusion of sorts, and my other achievements are also conclusions in their own way.

Some time ago I suggested I’d try to write a sequel, which was done and then followed by a series. This of course refers to Beyond The Law, the trilogy.

I have over the years insterspersed my other other writing with a long-term project. My factual autobiography and military memoirs was fraught with issues when I first wrote it – apart from the standard of the writing.

Now, with reasonable writing experience and success, I’ve completed my five book series, A Life of Choice. The fifth book is not due publication until November, because I would like to use completion of the series to celebrate the 48th year since I signed up to join the British Army.

I tried my hand at erotica in short story format, moved on to novel, and following success with both, I recently completed a series of five novellas. Highland Games is the result.

My September give-away was the first in my Beyond The Law trilogy, and with three months to the end of the year, I’m giving away books with connections.

Over the next three months, on two occasions the weekend freebie will be the first in a series, and the remaining weekend freebie will be a pair of books which complement each other.

Military Matters is a book of poetry which contains 80 verses which reflect aspects of life in military uniform. This book will be accompanied by A Time for Courage: and other military stories. In an attempt to avoid any hitches they will be offered separately, but over the same few days.

At the end of this year I will be terminating my monthly, freebie weekend. If you haven’t yet sampled my work, this is a good time to try a variety for free.

As we come into the final three months of the year it will come as no surprise to anyone who knows me that I have three WIP. Two of the new stories are thrillers, Czech Mate, and  Codename: Nightshade. The third is erotica, Curious and Camping. All three books will be published in 2018.

Thank you for taking the time to read my words and taking an interest.

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Writing is series work ….

2016-so-far

Graphic links to Anthologies page of author website.

Before this year got underway I set myself certain targets regarding my writing. Among my aims I wanted to cut down on casual social networking. Yes, it’s the mainstay of our marketing for self-published authors, but I’m working on the theory – if I have more titles with quality time spent on them, it’s better than pushing the present catalogue.

I’m delighted to report I’ve been true to my goals … for most of the time. In the past I’ve gone from conducting a minimum of marketing to going overboard, and this year I’ve aimed to strike a balance.

I tend not to advertise too much prior to publication of a title, and so far, I haven’t embraced the ‘pre-order’ idea. This year so far I’ve produced five titles, but none were rushed. Due to my method of working, I have three projects underway at any given time. I may work on one book for a week or a month, and when it is left to simmer, I pull up one of the others. Of the five titles in the banner above three of them had been rewritten several times before 2016.

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Working on different projects in such a way may not appeal to everybody, but I’ve found it maintains my interest, and my productivity – if I avoid the distraction of social media.

iasd-globe-2I have an allegiance to, and certain responsibilities regarding the Indie Author Support and Discussion group, and it’s never a hardship to work towards the success of the group. The IASD has been and will remain the exception to my personal rule about social media visits.

Exposure of my writing has come about, in the sense I’ve continued with my monthly ‘Freebie’ weekends on Amazon. This month the free book appears on the 15th/16th.

Apart from the regular free books, I update the News page of my author website monthly, and the detail is posted in all the usual places.

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What have I got in store for the remainder of this year?

I’m presently sharing my writing time between four projects. Before the end of the year I’m hoping to publish: the third title in the series A Life of Choice, the final part of the Beyond The Law trilogy, and if the characters will misbehave for me – the third in the Highland Games erotica novella series.

The fourth project (not shown in graphic), is my next anthology Temptation: and other short stories, which is under constant revision.

part-threes

Of the aforementioned titles I’ve discovered a peculiarity. The Highland Games series carries the lowest priority for me, but when I feel the need to get away from another project, or I simply want to escape into a world of fantasy, the words flow easily with my erotica series.

When I’m out and about in life and my notebook makes an appearance, it is invariably to jot down a new idea, character, or situation for one of the series.

However the rest of my writing year goes, my readership may rest assured I’ll be putting every effort into producing my best entertainment.

As always, thank you for your time, and any comments.

***

Ten Days in Panama - the cover 2904

Click graphic for book blurb.

If you’ve been kind enough to check out this post I think it’s fair to drop a subtle hint about Tom’s two-day freebie for October ….

This was my first romance, but has recently been revisited.

Erotica: The Long and Short of it … Part 3 of 3

 

Give & Take 150516

FREE  weekend on Amazon –  Sat 30th / Sun 31st July 2016

In Part 1, I wrote about the titles and general description of my work in this genre.

In Part 2, I moved on to how I found myself venturing into this area of creative writing.

I’d like to use this final article to go under the covers ….

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In the wake of Romance, the Erotica genre is the next big thing – in regard to sales. For this reason alone, it’s not surprising writers of other genres attempt erotica, and it might be why their trials are published with a pseudonym.

Many writers try producing this special genre. Having read widely in the indie and the traditionally published sectors, I’ve discovered a wide range of ability.

We all think we know what goes on behind closed doors, but how much of our ‘knowledge’ is actually supposition, imagination, or guesswork?

The first aspect of this topic to put to bed (pun intended), is about how wonderful other people’s sex lives are. We could look at examples, but in reality there are too many variables to examine sex life.

I’ll list a few examples to prove the point:

1. A person who has no sexual experience, but has read a few books which suggest sex should be enjoyed by anybody with anybody, doing anything. I remember a girl from my early 20’s who earned the nickname ‘Martini’. If you’re not old enough to remember the TV ad, the slogan was: ‘any time, any place, anywhere ….’

2. A person of limited sexual experience, but read widely, and is eager to try anything once.

3. A person who enjoys the early years of marriage, where there has been an occasional hot night between the sheets. Lifestyle calmed and the bedroom became a place for two things; frustration, or boredom – or both.

4. An older person who has been in a relationship for 50 years, had a lot of varied experiences before marriage, and has for far too long settled into a mundane ‘get it over with’ mindset.

5. A person in a long-term relationship, but is with a partner who has no desire to ‘experiment’. Opportunities may not have been taken when younger, and now one partner may spend time wondering about activities found in books, but never tried.SS2 - Coming Around 150516

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What must a writer consider when publishing erotica?

Instead of producing a text-book answer, I’ll list a few of my personal criteria.

1. It is erotica, but it should not only be about the sex – a plot should exist.

2. I avoid sexual taboos, which I don’t believe have to be listed. If you have any doubts what is considered ‘taboo’ in erotic literature – use a search engine.

3. Colloquialisms for body parts and activities read better than creating a biology lesson with an underlying story.

4. Consent – or a fair idea of what is ahead is my preference. If a character sounds as if they didn’t know what they were getting into – or what was getting into them – it’s not non-consensual or innocence; it’s naivity.

5. Exceptional hygiene standards and preparation are occasionally mentioned in passing.

I have other minor points I keep in mind, but the aforementioned are the main ones.

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Highland Games - 1 - CougarWhich erotica appeals to me?

I enjoy the tale if I find myself consumed by the story, embracing the characters (metaphorically), and reading for the story – not the genre.

Which erotica irritates or alienates me?

When the language used is stilted, and the body parts and activities are like a sex education class for those who speak English as a second language.

When the situation and dialogue is contrived and the ‘story’ goes from dialogue to action in an unrealistic time scale.

Two-dimensional characters usually combined with little or no back-story.

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Where do I go from here with my titles?

I have erotica poetry within my Love and Romance volume, short stories in Coming Around: and other erotic stories and my novel Give & Take: A Tale of Erotica.

Highland Games is the series title of my erotica novellas. My first tale is an introduction to the series and the main location. In each successive book I aim to explore a different aspect of sexuality. As I do with all of my work, I’ll be taking note of feedback, and I’ll adjust my writing if there is good reason.

Coming soon ...

Coming soon …

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Thank you for taking the time to read my posts, and particular thanks to those of you kind enough to leave your thoughts. I appreciate all feedback.

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As a reward for your kindness, I’ll remind you my novel, Give & Take: A Tale of Erotica is FREE on Amazon over the weekend Saturday 30th July / Sunday 31st July 2016.

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Erotica: The Long and Short of it … Part 2 of 3

SS2 - Coming Around 150516

Click graphic to Preview

 

My first article in this mini-series looked at what I’ve written and published in the erotica genre. As a refresher, it explains I’ve written poetry, short stories, and a novel. It also highlights my latest venture – I’m underway with a series of novellas.

This second post is an insight into why I decided to get involved in this area of creative writing. Reading erotica isn’t for everybody, and having read comments from writers who can spin a great yarn, I know the writing of erotica isn’t for everybody either.

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In closing Part 1, I promised the whys and wherefores of my interest.

I first dabbled in literary titillation when I was experimenting with poetry. I’d written about natural history, the military life, thrillers, reincarnation, romance, and a few odd pieces where I introduced humour. It was when I wrote about relationships I found I had to move on from the meeting, and the dialogue.

Surely as the romance deepened it would be natural to move on to action?

It took several attempts before I produced anything I’d post on the poetry website, which had guidelines on ‘acceptable’ content for any genre.

My erotica poetry started out like sexual foreplay. The hints were in there, a bit of teasing of what might come, and I took it forward with visual appreciation, dialogue, romance, titillation, and finally action. I received several compliments on my efforts and I was glad I’d tried.

An excerpt from ‘Our First Time’ (Poetry Vol 2 – Love and Romance) Click graphic to Preview

 

In the background I had already started playing around with the concept of short stories, and I’d tried a variety of genre. The prompt to try my hand at erotica came from a fellow poet. The lady wrote well, which was why I was delighted to have public praise from her on my widely varying poetic efforts. As I developed my verse, this lady was particularly impressed with my erotica and wrote me a private message to let me know.

A couple of private messages later there was a request for me to write an erotica short story. It wasn’t for general consumption, but for my secret fan, who said she’d be willing to critique the finished product. I obliged and produced a story which she liked, and it was followed by a few others. We’re no longer in regular contact, but I get an occasional message to let me know she reads all my work.

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I was keen to write romance, adventure and thrillers, which were the genre I read. As I increased my selection of reading material, I selected the first in the ‘Fifty Shades …’ series. Suffice to say I wasn’t impressed by either the writing or the content. I wrote a review which appears here: Fifty Shades – a review.

Having had my interest piqued by the popularity of something so badly written, I downloaded erotica eBooks by both male and female authors. It should be remembered at this point, a high number of authors in this genre use a pseudonym. I found several areas of concern in my research of erotica storytelling.

1. A lot of the ‘books’ purporting to be erotica are neither erotica, nor stories, but a series of scenes involving two or more people in sexual activity.

2. Many of these titles are badly written in the extreme, but the worst are usually spotted in their short sample available on Amazon.

3. A personal gripe is the ‘author’ who produces a badly written, short book, and compounds those two factors by over-pricing.

Is there anything worse?

Yes, sadly, a few of them go on to write a ‘series’. I detected many of these by the rapid turnaround of the ‘next in the series’ being produced a month after the previous title.

Having read several erotica titles covering a wide range of sexual orientation I can tell who knows their subject, and who uses vague descriptions.

What’s the difference?

Put simply, it’s the difference between saying ‘The man had a gun.’ or, ‘Dan carried his Browning 9mm automatic.’

I’ve read samples which have had me shake my head because they’re so awful, and I’ve seen eBooks which made me smile – because the cover, title, length, sample, and price were so bad. It takes imagination to believe the author is serious.

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Coming soon ...

Coming soon …

There we have it faithful followers. I was erotica curious, and tried my hand. I believe I’m making progress, and my titles have positive reviews. I am still experimenting to some extent, but I work on the premise my finished titles should have a story, and the books should be written and formatted with the same care given to any other genre.

In the final part of this insight I will take you under the covers, and we’ll look at the detail.

Thank you for reading my offerings, and any comments are welcome as always.

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Erotica: The Long and Short of it … Part 1 of 3

 

Poetry Vol 2 - 150516

Like it or loathe it – erotica is one of the oldest genres of storytelling. You can dress it up (no pun intended), in a pretty cover, or go black cover with a suggestive title, but the introduction of the eReader has enabled many people to indulge and enjoy the reading of sexual adventures which had previously been so near … yet, so far.

The erotica eBook market is a gift to those who would have looked at titles in a bookstore, but never lifted the book. In many cases it would be due to the books being out of reach. Peer pressure, embarrassment, upbringing, or whatever reason might have stopped thousands of folk from buying into this area of reading, but no more.

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What is the appeal to a reader?

Two areas come to mind, although there are more.SS2 - Coming Around 150516

1. For those who have, or have so far had a less than adventurous sex life it gives an insight to how things might be, even in the imagination. We can all dream.

2. The erotica eBook opens doors (mainly bedroom doors), and it allows the voyeuristic aspect of our nature a little exercise.

‘I don’t have a voyeuristic aspect …’

‘I just love the stories …’

‘It’s porn in words …’

Whatever your attitude to it, I’m here to tell you I enjoy reading it (if it’s well written), and I enjoy writing it too. Yes, I’m still in the early days in writing the genre, but for me, it gives the same release of imagination other writers have when working on paranormal, historic romance, or any other specialised topic.

I will continue to write thrillers and romance, but I’m unashamedly erotica-curious. I have a strong desire to explore erotica, and I’d like to see which type of writing works best.

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Highland Games - 1 - CougarI produced a few pieces of erotica in my Love and Romance poetry volume. My short story collection Coming Around: and other erotica stories is popular, although only a handful of brave people have cared to leave a review – but they’re good reviews, so I’m delighted.

My debut erotica novel Give & Take: A Tale of Erotica sells on a regular basis, but again sadly isn’t supported by many reviews.

It was while considering story length it occurred to me to produce a hybrid – the erotica novella. Thus far I have one title out there, but I’ve already made notes towards the others in what will be a minimum five-part series.

How do I intend to capture and hold interest with the series?

Each of the stories will be based in the location which is introduced in the first novella Highland Games – 1, but as the series progresses I’ll concentrate on a different angle of sexual persuasion.

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What’s coming next in this three-part post?Give & Take 150516

In the second part of this article I’ll explain the whys and wherefores of me getting into bed with this genre. At the end of Part 2 I’ll give you a hint of what’s coming in Part 3.

If you’ve taken anything from this first part (other than the links to my books), I’m certain you’ll enjoy how I first discovered my desire to experiment … and later in Part 3, we’ll go under the covers, or between the sheets if you prefer.

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Highland Games

 

Highland Games – 1 is now available on Amazon.

Apart from the location, there is no connection between ‘the games’ in the story and the games usually associated with the Scottish Highlands.

It is my first novella, and if the idea appeals to enough readers there will be a series. My plan at the present time is to continue to at least five stories. Each book will introduce new characters, but cameo roles will be played by characters featured in other stories from the series.

Central to the idea is the Highland Haven Hotel which is in a remote location, not surprisingly – in the Scottish Highlands.

Is it wham, bam, thank you ma’am?

No, it isn’t, because although the predominant activity is sexual, the characters will have a background, a voice, and as might be expected, particular preferences ….

Each book will have a cohesive story to carry the journey of a main character and at least one support character.

These books are not among the longest, or most complicated I’ve written, however the most ambitious aspect will be for me to inter-relate the characters of the individual tales, and the dates.

I accept the erotica genre does not appeal to everybody, but in my reading experience so far, I’ve found a lot of badly written work in this category. It was after reading a famous, modern story I was inspired to write the genre myself. The ‘Shades’ book in my opinion is neither believable, nor properly researched. I applaud the author for making a fortune – selling rubbish.

How does my version of erotica compare?

It’s not for me to say, however I have more than one title out there now, and they carry positive reviews. Enough said.

As always, I appreciate any feedback.

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Amazon – Preview / Buy

BookLinker – Universal

Why so … series?

 

Like so many creative writers, by the time I completed my first novel, Ten Days in Panama, I had grown to know my characters as if they were real people. A few of those people would be good to look at, and to have around, but like reality, others were not so endearing.

In my next big story, Beyond The Law: Formation, I had learned more about my craft and the characters became better developed much faster. I spent longer in their company, and each visit was like getting together with a few old friends.Novel - BTL - Formation - 220216

When I wrote my sequel, Beyond The Law: Retribution, I got back together with characters with whom I was well-acquainted, and I enjoyed the process of the story from the outset.

BTL RetributionIt was less frustrating when the storyline veered away from my intended direction. I was also forgiving of issues as they arose. I was still the puppeteer, but in some mysterious way I had been pulled into the scenes, conversations, and struggles.

I left those characters behind to get on with other projects, but I’ve been drawn back, so among other things, I’m presently working on the final story in the trilogy, Beyond The Law: Consequences.Novel - BTL 3 Consequences

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As with poetry when I started writing, I’ve come to realise I enjoy the familiar company of certain characters, and in recent times it occurred to me to take the series idea to a new level.

A Life of Choice - Part OneFor many years I’d worked on my autobiography, but it was never fully satisfying, so rewrite after rewrite left me feeling empty. There were too many anecdotes to include, because it made the story too big, but many which were so peculiar they refused to be excluded.

Apart from anything else, even if it was fact-based-fiction, which point of view would work best?

From this train of thought evolved A Life of Choice, a fact-based-fiction novel in five parts, but each part a generous size. I’m not interested in writing a handful of short books to top up my catalogue. To date, I have the first two parts published, and Part Three will arrive in the autumn.A Life of Choice - Part Two

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I dabbled in the writing of erotica and enjoyed it, so I wondered how best to continue. I compiled a collection of short stories which was well received, so I followed it with a novel. It too received positive feedback.

How could I achieve a hybrid, I wondered?

My foray into the novella length is how I’m heading. It will be a series of inter-related stories, each longer than a short story, but shorter than a novel. The novella series will start with Highland Games – 1. By mid-June I’ll be looking for beta readers for this first story.

Due to it being erotica, anyone who volunteers will remain anonymous if requested.

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The answer to the question in this blog post title, ‘Why so … series?’

By creating a series of three, five, or more stories which are interconnected – I can enjoy the company and emotions of characters I’ve come to know better than some of the real people in my life.Highland Games 1 - 150516

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I’ve learned during my reading and writing journey, in the case of some authors a series can be a method of continuing a story for the benefit of a readership. It can be a way of increasing sales by producing a series of extremely short stories, and I’m fine with either of those ideas. However, there are some series which are too short in quantity, and lacking in quality, but these are measures we find in every part of our lives.

Any books I produce as part of a series will be produced with the same care and attention to detail I devote to my other writing. I will strive to make every book a standalone, but without irritating anybody who’s read the earlier work. If I ever come up short, I can only hope it’s because a reader has a personal issue, and not because of the writing.

For me so far, writing about characters beyond a first story has produced the joy of writing about people I’ve become close to, and after the realities of life, my characters are great companions. They won’t let me down. If they do – I’ll kill them. 🙂

Thank you for reading.

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The Wallpaper Effect – Part 2 of 2

Wallpaper sectionIn the first part of this two-piece article I highlighted what I refer to as the Wallpaper Effect. As promised, this second post is not intended as a list of suggestions to bring success to all, but it is an insight into my own personal strategy.

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It may not seem like much, but if you saw Part 1, you will remember how busy the graphic appeared. There was so much it was difficult to see the information. In the picture above you’ll see the same information, but presented more clearly.

Even in a picture we must remember to keep it straightforward – or the message can be lost, or ignored. For an eBook, the cover must be effective – it has a job to do, so it might be the reason there is little or no interest in your hard work.

Be prepared to change your cover if there are no sales, or after a lengthy period only low sales. Yes it’s true, the cover can be the cause of folk taking no interest in a title.

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Who designs my covers?

The covers of my novels are usually designed by a cover designer – and this has proven to be a good decision. I saw my sales rise when I made that investment.

I created the cover for Give & Take, and then it was enhanced with the help of the very talented Nico Laeser. The whole idea of attempting the genre was experimental, so I didn’t intend a big outlay. Give and Take - the final cover

As we all do for all of our titles, I have high hopes for my erotic story, but I will only have a new cover designed if the sales continue to rise over the coming weeks. This is not through lack of faith in my work, but because of the saturated market in that genre. Since publication about two weeks ago there has been one day when it hasn’t sold.

I design the covers for my poetry and short story anthologies – because it doesn’t matter how good they look – they are both low selling markets.

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Why would I have a cover designed if my erotica story was actually selling?

Statistics used at a recent conference demonstrated that a professionally designed cover increases existing sales of an eBook by 34%, or if you don’t like percentages – one third. In other words if you are selling 30 books per week, the change to a professional cover is highly likely to take your sales up to 40 per week.

My own title Beyond The Law was selling a couple of days per week with the cover I produced. I had a bespoke cover designed. Inside the first week with the new cover it started to sell almost daily, and it is still my best performing title.

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Which outlets do I use?

I was with Smashwords for a year, and with Kobo about three months, and that was whilst I was also using the basic Amazon account. I decided early on not to spread myself too thin and end up with a possible conflict of interest between outlets.

A few months ago I moved all of my work to Amazon, so as I’ve said before in two posts, I’m an Amazon Bitch. Check out Amazon Bitch Part 1 and Part 2.

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What is my philosophy regarding marketing?

I treat my name as a brand with regard to writing. I know that many indie authors don’t agree with the ‘brand’ idea, but if I am promoting the sale of a product – my work – it is a brand. Fact.

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How do I use my books as a marketing tool?

My steadily increasing catalogue of titles is my best asset. If I can capture one reader with any of my titles they might go on to read more of them. If I’m really lucky the reader will talk about their experience.

I believe my general format helps. To ensure the prospective reader is offered a good sample – I place the minimum information at the front of my books:

– Title, copyright, acknowledgements, and Table of Contents (which lists the information at the back).

There is time enough for extra information at the back:

– Endnotes, a word from the author, a short bio, and also by the author – listing each title with a blurb to entice the reader to try another. I will soon be adding links to other authors – if I’ve read their work.

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What about pricing?

I maintain a reasonable and varied price range – bcause I’m an unknown.
My poetry anthologies are the cheapest – because few people buy poetry.
My short story anthologies have 12 stories – because I believe that gives value for money.
This year, I’ve started working on a sequel to one of my novels. I will eventually write sequels for all of them.

Wallpaper section

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Is there anything I do not do?

– When I post about my titles, I do not praise my own work, except occasionally with a humorous comment.
– I’ve learned to reduce my membership of social media to a handful of sites. I believe that one of the reasons for indie authors feeling stress about marketing is because they spread themselves too thin on the ground.
– Even on Facebook I try not to join too many groups. Once again, less is more
– I do not promote my work daily.
– I post on social media regularly, but not always the same title, or the same message. I alternate between the Books page of my author website, the News and Projects page, the Homepage, and this blog.
– I occasionally use a Kindle Countdown Deal, but I do not do FREE books. I have tried it three times and I don’t think it helped my cause.
– I do not rush my writing – so my publishing target date is not set in stone.
– I do not do a ‘release’ page or anything of that sort on Facebook. This proved to be fortuitous, because I postponed the publication of Give & Take by a week, and I believe I improved the overall product.

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How do I produce my books regularly?

I work on at least two projects simultaneously. Most recently I alternated one month on Give & Take (erotica), and one month on Acts of Vengeance (thriller). Whilst one manuscript is ‘resting’, I work on the other. I’ve found that method of working pays me dividends on various levels, but I may write more about that in another post.

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What else do I believe helps to market me as a brand?

– I have my author website which I paid to have designed. Writing is not a hobby for me – it is by choice a new career, so I wanted a professional look.

– I have another website, Creative Writer and Artist, which features both my writing and samples of my artwork.

– I have an account with the Independent Author Network.

– I have my separate page on Facebook: Tom Benson – Writer.

– I have an author page on both Amazon – UK and Amazon.com

– This blog is related to writing – it is not used as a journal of my daily life.

Please remember – if you don’t want to spend any cash, you can use a blog website as an author website.

My one suggestion is that if you do, you must maintain it as such, and not allow it to become a blog. WordPress have a good basic framework to build such a thing, and it is easy to use. This blog is a WordPress site.

Apart from all the efforts online I designed a business card, and business postcard. Image (28)

I have these produced regularly through Vistaprint. I designed the front with a gloss finish and downloaded a QR code so that it can be scanned by smartphones.

The back of the business card has all contact information except phone number.

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Is there anything that helps but indirectly?

It is probably the most subtle of all things, and I have never intended it as any sort of self-promotion. I make every effort to help other indie writers – especially those who are new to the game. There is not one of us so good that we can’t do with a little bit of help occasionally.

There is nothing more to it for me, than the desire to help, so I read and review work by others.
If I see something that would spoil a story, I hold back on a public review – I tell the author privately. There have been cases where the author has dealt with the issues and I was happy to go back and write a 4* or 5* review.

I do not promote an author’s work unless I’ve read it – for many reasons. If I do like an author’s work, I will praise it at every opportunity.

I’m proud to say that I’ve been in support of Paul Ruddock since he set up the Indie Author Support and Discussion group on Facebook. In the early weeks I ventured to send respectful private messages to those who were producing … less than a good quality product.

We lost three ‘writers’, but since then I’m pleased to say that I’ve continued to work the same way and we have several members who accepted my early criticisms and have gone on to produce great stories.

That is not due to my interference – it is down to the individual author’s hard work and positive attitude. They’ve accepted that their skills were lacking in a particular area – and done something about it. I still get the odd message from a fellow writer about a minor issue, and I’m always grateful.

Mutual support is key to our individual success.

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Do I consider myself an authority?

No, I am not an authority, but I learned most of what I do by reading reference material, hard work, and listening to my reviewers. I am now more of a hermit than a socialite, but I have a burning desire to help my fellow writers to avoid issues I’ve had on my journey.

I joined a writing group a couple of years ago, and it helped me in some ways. When it began to feel like a social gathering, I left.

For several years I’ve subscribed to the two main writing magazines on offer in the UK. They are Writers’ Forum, and Writing Magazine. I’ve won prizes and free subscription years with both of them in the past.

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I hope I haven’t bored anybody with my opinions and ideas, and as always, I’m willing to take any comments or criticisms coming my way. I try never to say anything that I cannot later justify.

Thank you for reading. My next post will be about my journey from ‘regular’ genre to the divisive area of erotica.

See you there … all you voyeurs.

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Elementary to Erotica – my journey so far

Kindle Edition Normalised Pages - Sept.

Like the Kindle Edition Normalised Pages, writing is a life of peaks and troughs

I am always keen to learn about a fellow author’s route, from those tentative steps of composing a first piece of work, to first publication and beyond. Irrespective of age, or experience, the early days are the most difficult, as they are with most ventures.

An introIt’s good for a writer’s morale to take stock occasionally, but publicly like this. It’s also self-marketing, but we can’t hide our light under a bushel, because therein lies obscurity.

My story may not be awe-inspiring, but I’ve reached another stage with my latest release.

Now is a good time for me to take a look back.

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In 1992, following a military career of 23 years, I next took up retail management, which I did for 20 years. In the mid-90’s I started to write my military memoirs. It took over two years and the writing was abysmal. I abandoned the memoirs, and over the next few years I wrote short stories for my own amusement, not knowing anything of the required discipline.

In 2007 I wrote a rhyme whilst on a coffee break. A colleague told me I should join an online poetry site. I did and I wrote 700+ poems in three years, but felt the need to do something more.Smoke & Mirrors - 030714 2

I read short stories and books on how to write them, whilst I practised. I took out a subscription to a national writing magazine. In 2010 I won a competition and had my story included in an anthology. Poetry was left behind, as I spent every available minute producing ideas to create short stories.

I joined a website and a local writing group and learned much from having my work critiqued. I’d long had a yearning to write a novel, but felt it was beyond me. My first novel was inspired by a fellow poet on the other side of the world. We’d reviewed each other’s poetry and kept in touch. I’m delighted to say that our friendship has remained firm and we continue to support each other.

Ten Days in Panama - the cover 2904In December 2012 I published ‘Ten Days in Panama’, a romance-based thriller. I knew it wasn’t great, but I had introduced aspects of the thriller, and I knew I had to write something more exciting. It was a steep learning curve, just as it had been with short stories. I used the manuscript ‘rest’ periods as a time to continue writing short stories.

In October 2013 I published ‘Beyond The Law’, a crime thriller about a vigilante in Glasgow. During breaks from my novels, I honed my 12 best short stories to create an anthology. In May 2014 I published ‘Smoke & Mirrors and other short stories’.912FmvSHzYL._SL1500_

When I read ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ I was disappointed in the content. I got the impression that the author had a good idea, but minimal knowledge of her subject. I am amazed at the success of that series.

I had experimented with writing erotic stories, but they’d never been seen. I thought back over my life experiences and decided I had the knowledge and imagination to adapt them and create a variety of scenarios. In June 2014 I published my second short story anthology ‘Coming Around and other erotic stories’.

Amsterdam Calling - the cover 260714My work on thrillers continued. In July 2014 I published ‘Amsterdam Calling’, a psychological thriller. Since moving on from poetry, my practice had been to work on more than one project simultaneously, so my next book was at an advanced stage.

I published ‘A Taste of Honey’ in December 2014. It was another vigilante story, but this time about a rogue female detective – in the US.

From late 2014 into early 2015 I had a handful of private messages asking if I’d ever considered writing an erotic novel. These were not random queries, but from folk who had read my erotic anthology. Just as I had with my poetry a few years before, I sensed a challenge, but once again, a challenge I relished.A Taste of Honey

In September 2015, I completed the final draft of ‘Give & Take: A Tale of Erotica’. It has sold almost daily since publication.

Give and Take - the final coverIf my first attempt at an erotic novel receives positive reviews, I will be happy to produce a sequel. It has two reviews already.

Whether or not I find success in the world of erotica I’ll continue to write thrillers, but there is escape in writing contrasting genre.

I would suggest to any writer who feels the urge to try a new genre – do it. Don’t let anybody hold you back with their opinions. You owe it to yourself – and your readers.

In November 2015 I aim to publish ‘Acts of Vengeance’, the sequel to ‘Beyond The Law’.Beyond The Law - the cover 2904

One of the greatest things we can all do as indie authors is to support our peers. Try to read other indie authors, and provide reviews. Make an effort to read widely in genre – it really does pay dividends.

Another good idea is to do as I’ve done here, and produce an occasional update on progress. It doesn’t matter if you’ve written one book so far, let people know you are out there.

As always, I thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts. Feedback is always welcome.

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