Ten Days in Panama … in paperback


Ten Days in Panama was my second novel, and having first been marketed as a thriller, I amended the description to romance. The first publication of this title was in December 2013 and it’s had two makeovers since then in terms of the manuscript.

As I told my son when he left home to live abroad, ‘if we’re honest with ourselves, about every five years we think we know it all’.

In my humble opinion, the advice I gave that young man is never more accurate than with writers. We may write, revise, edit, rewrite, and so on, but if we go back to a piece of work we were proud of five years earlier, we’ll find things we want to amend. I’ve been plying my craft (and learning) since 2007, and it’s due to my targeting of a higher standard that I’ve delayed paperback editions until recently.

In Ten Days in Panama (paperback and digital), I’ve reduced the sexual content to a softer tone. If there are any readers out there who like my style and crave explicit sex scenes, check out Tom Benson – Erotica.

– The cover of the book is now brighter and I’ve reduced the strapline, and I believe in this case brevity works.

– For me, nothing has been more important or more of a challenge than tightening the manuscript to improve the reading experience. An example would be the removal of most dialogue tags, to be replaced by character activity.

It was a labour of love to produce this story the first time around, and I spent many months creating characters, situations and a story which would live on in the memory. I’m pleased to say that none of the original aspects of the tale has changed in the process.

To those who strive to maintain an updated and informative author website, you will appreciate the joy of adding a ‘paperback’ button to the page for a title. Now I have two of those buttons on display, and in the coming months, I’ll be working hard to add them to my other novels.

Thank you to all who pass by and take the time to leave their thoughts.


*Remember, if you don’t want to buy a paperback and you don’t own a Kindle, the Kindle App UK is free and it can be downloaded to a PC/Laptop.

If you’re not in the UK, don’t feel left out … Kindle App (from Amazon.com)


Kindle, or Kobo?

The aim of this piece is to look at the two systems as a writer, and not a reader.


When it comes to eReaders there is a wide choice, and the prices reflect that choice.

As a writer, I first published with Smashwords, but apart from learning a lot about formatting, and how difficult it was to be paid for my sales … well, let’s not go there.

I moved on to Amazon and tried the KDP route. It took an hour to read the Terms and Conditions, but at least I knew where I stood by the time it came to ticking, or un-ticking little boxes.

Sales were reported, and hey, I was paid regularly. I continued to publish my work through Amazon, and when it was offered, I ventured into the KDP Select programme to gain from the many benefits offered … yeah, whatever.

Having spent many months with Amazon, I published three titles with Kobo, believing that with the big advertising campaign in the UK, it had to be a winner. Perhaps I was the only person in the country seeing the ads, or my work didn’t appeal to anybody with a Kobo.

Three months later I dropped my titles and put all my eggs in the Amazon basket, and topped off the basket by also placing them on the KDP Select listing.


Three years have passed, and I’ve commenced building a portfolio with Kobo. If you’re familiar with KDP Select you will know there is a 90-day exclusivity clause involved. All of my titles were ‘locked-in’, but now as they are available I am publishing in both Amazon and Kobo, but not in any of the select programmes.

What has changed?

Kobo has improved, having ironed out many of the issues which existed three years ago, and now I find myself with twenty-plus titles, many of which sell regularly. I’m confident in my work, and I’m giving Kobo a six-month trial with a selection of my titles. Later in this post I’ll explain which are being left out of the equation, and why.


If you’re a writer and you didn’t already know, Kindle and Kobo both have an exclusive loyalty programme to which you can assign your titles.

Kindle has the KDP Select:

1 – Earn higher royalties from *Kindle Unlimited and *Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, plus 70% royalties when your titles are bought in a handful of selected countries.

*Both programmes are subscription based for those who are reading the books.

2 – Use of two promotional tools (Kindle Countdown, or Free Book).

Kobo Writing Life has the Kobo Plus programme.

Kobo Plus equates roughly to KDP Select, in that the author is paid if a title is borrowed by a subscriber to the programme.

On the author side of Kobo I’ve found plenty of services. The distribution for Kobo published material is wider across the globe without having to enter into any ‘exclusive’ programme.

Kobo appears to concentrate the ‘loyalty/reward’ aspect of the business on the readers, which is fine, because those of us who write and self-publish are (or should be) readers.

If you should know differently on any of the aforementioned, please let me know.


Tom Benson – Amazon Author Page              Tom Benson on Kobo

I’m watching closely for the first month as I select and publish titles with Kobo, and if I see sales, I’ll add more titles. When I have most of my titles in both camps, I’ll monitor sales until end October 2017.

I will not be publishing my erotica titles with Kobo due to their strict guidelines, and I’d prefer not to get into a legal tangle because I disagreed with their opinion of what is, or isn’t erotica.

As always, thank you for reading and commenting.


A Life of Choice: Part Three


To meet demand for more, the third part of this five-part story is available on Amazon.

A Life of Choice is sometimes sad, occasionally humorous, but always insightful. If you haven’t read any of the series so far, but you’re tempted …

The first three chapters of all of the first parts are available on this blog.

Alternatively, if you select the appropriate Amazon Preview/Buy link, you’ll be able to see the story formatted as it would be for your Kindle or Free Kindle App.

As with the first two parts, I appreciate all feedback, and particularly if it comes in the form of a review.

Part Four is scheduled for Spring 2017, and Part Five is scheduled for Summer 2017.

If you’d prefer to have links to go straight to Preview/Buy to read in Kindle format:

A Life of Choice: Part One – Innocence and Inebriation

A Life of Choice: Part Two – Paths and Progression

A Life of Choice: Part Three – On and Off the Rails

As always, all comments/feedback is welcome and thank you for visiting my blog.


A Taste of Honey – promotion

This week, commencing Sunday 29th March 2015, I am promoting A Taste of Honey with a Kindle Countdown Deal.


What does that mean to the buying public?
Although the title of the promotion suggests a countdown, it is the period of the promotion that is counted down – not the item price. The item price starts low and goes back up.


How does it work?
– The book price is adjusted by the author to be at an accepted minimum price, and that is a minimum set by Amazon; not the author.
– The book will be available at the lowest price for a period of perhaps one, two or three days.
– The price will go up in increments at each stage, until it returns to the original price after the week-long promotion.


In the case of my books I maintain a low price. I am not a household name, so I depend on honest reviews of my work. It’s better to be judged by others than to make claims for the quality of my creative ability. By the nature of the countdown promotion I have very little space to manoeuvre, but I am able to create two low price points before the title goes back to the regular price.


How does the promotion benefit the reader, or buying public?
It creates the opportunity for a customer to buy a book at a knockdown price.

It also allows the customer the opportunity to perhaps try a new author without feeling that a lot of money has been invested on the basis of the free sample being interesting.


How does the promotion benefit the author?
It creates added interest in that particular title, but also the author’s work in general.

If the author has an appealing style then he or she may gain many more fans from the act of giving up a little cash.


I’ve recently promoted my brand by using a Free promotion for two days, and the book used then was one of my anthologies, Smoke & Mirrors; and other stories. It proved popular in six countries so even though I’ve given away hundreds of copies, I consider that a success.
As I’ve said to colleagues in my day job, ‘I don’t want to be famous with my writing – I want to be successful.’


Writing a novel is not easy, and taking it beyond that first draft is hard. Each successive draft becomes harder as the author tries to tighten up dialogue, reduce excess word count and strive to produce a well-presented, entertaining read for the end user; the customer, the reader.

The most difficult task facing an independent author is not the writing of the story, or even the editing, re-writes, formatting, presentation or self-publishing – it is the marketing.


There you have it. That is the single unambiguous reason for me pushing my name and brand at every opportunity.

It’s not about being egotisitical – it is quite simply self-marketing; because the only other person who will market for an author is that author’s readership.

Please note that I didn’t say ‘market free for an author’.

Why not?

The reader has paid hard-earned cash to buy into the brand, so when they are kind enough to write a review, it may be free to the author; but not to the reader.

As always, I thank you for coming by and reading my thoughts. Please leave a comment if you feel so inclined.


Great Expectations?

Disturbed at work ... or just disturbed?
Disturbed at work … or just disturbed?

 You want to be a writer – so you write. Once you feel you have a flair for it, the next natural notion is to be a successful writer – yes, then that sordid subject of money rears its head. In some cases, the decision to join a class or group is a no-brainer. Surely that’s going to be the next step, it will help to set you up as the next great thing in the literary world. Isn’t it?    

How hard can it be to come up with an idea, string a few sentences together, build them into paragraphs, and then block the paragraphs into chapters. Give it a title. Oh my goodness – a book!

Marathon runners don’t normally set out to master that gruelling discipline. They will usually go through an apprenticeship of sprints, middle-distance, cross-country and finally, having altered their training regime, they feel they are ready for the big one.

In terms of writing, I’ve discovered a lot of folk have served a similar apprenticeship with their writing. It seems to follow the pattern of; poetry, short stories, flash-fiction, novella, novel. Okay, in some cases there are those that go straight from one of the early stages to novel writing. There are even those few who go straight for the big one.

What’s the next logical decision to be made? Traditional publishing, or eBook?

A tropical romance.
A tropical romance.

Now we come to the crux of the thing. At this point we must do what many people have difficulty with … and be honest with ourselves. Are we in it for the pleasure of writing, to entertain, to make money, or a mixture of the aforementioned?We must consider our answer before we go back to that publishing question. Why? It’s quite simple.

If we go down the traditional route, we will be spending money on our hopes of recouping the outlay with sufficient sales. All the months of effort must go through the time-consuming, filtering process of proof-reading, copy editing, etc. Does the style work? Is the grammar good enough? How accurate is the punctuation? Oh yes, that’s apart from questions raised on title, plot, characterisation, imagery and whether there is any entertainment value. The traditional route can take many months after the story is written.

Personally, I have no desire to be famous. My driving force is to entertain and as a by-product of that, I’d like to achieve some success – which isn’t the same as being famous. What have I done about it?          

In 2007, I started on poetry at Starlite, and then progressed to short stories and flash-fiction. I tried writing a novel, but was honest enough with myself to know that I wasn’t learning enough from my reading, or my reference books. I joined local writing group, the Inkerman Writers under the leadership of John Dean, journalist and crime novelist. Within the environment of a writing group, an aspiring writer learns if they have any ability in the use of words. It’s not pleasant to hear that what you thought was good, is actually not, but isn’t that what ‘feedback’ is all about?

A vigilante in Glasgow
A vigilante in Glasgow

  I’ve produced two novels in the last two years, ’10 Days in Panama’, and ‘Beyond The Law’. I’ve gone through the journey of at least four drafts with each story, and had the satisfaction of formatting the manuscripts myself. I’ve self-published my stories as eBooks on Amazon. In both cases I’ve gone on to publish fresh editions – because I found issues when I downloaded them and read again as a writer.

My books may not be ‘bestsellers’ and they may not bring me fortune and fame, but they have sold in six countries so far and I’ve had several decent reviews. The only ‘Great Expectations’ I have is the copy on my Kindle, but I’m enjoying what I do, and also the thought that my efforts have entertained. In that respect I’ve achieved my aims.My third novel, ‘Discovering Amsterdam’ is already underway. It is a romance laced with intrigue and my first objective is to submit it to New Writing North as a contender for the Northern Writers’ Awards 2014.

Why the analogy with running? In my running days, I started at 200-metre sprints, moved onto cross-country, 5000 metres and then competed in half-marathons and marathons.

Thank you for reading and feel free to comment.

My website: http://www.tom-benson.co.uk/


Laptop, PC or Tablet, but no Kindle ?

Screenshot from a PC using the Kindle App (an excerpt from my novel)
Screenshot from a PC using the Kindle App (an excerpt from my novel)

If you haven’t got a Kindle, but you do have a PC, Laptop or Tablet, why not take a few minutes to download the FREE Kindle App from Amazon. Click here to check it out: Free Kindle App for Laptop, PC and Tablet

Why should I promote this idea? Well apart from anything else, I hate to see people missing out because they don’t know about something – and this is a pretty simple ‘fix’ to check out the wonders of eBooks. A lot of them are FREE! It’s no accident that the word FREE is being plugged so much in this post, so in summary, if you haven’t got one of these wonderful machines, but you’d like a lot of the benefits of having one, click: Free Kindle App for Laptop, PC and Tablet  … and enjoy! 

My own Kindle is a Keyboard 3G. Displaying here the main shopping page.
My own Kindle is a Keyboard 3G. Displaying here the main shopping page.

It takes a few minutes and then you can download books, adjust the font size, etc., just like any of the family of eBook readers would allow you to do.  

Every day from Wednesday to Saturday (inclusive) this week, each one of five of my books will be FREE. For details check out my Amazon page:

Tom Benson / Author’s page – UK 


Tom Benson / Author’s page – outside UK

All my eBooks are listed with price, or the FREE indication. Thank you for checking out my blog. Feel FREE to comment.

FREE on Amazon for Kindle

The novel ’10 Days in Panama’ had a good run as a giveaway when I first published it on Amazon just a couple of weeks ago so with each of my poetry books so far I’ve promoted them with a two-day Free promotion. An Anthology of Poetry - Volume 5 3rd

The fifth volume in the series, Thrills and Chills is now published with Amazon and is Free during 1st and 2nd May 2013. In this volume I’ve included a lot of topics that don’t really fit into the genre-based volumes. For example there are titles like: ‘Assassins’‘Cop Killer’, ‘Bastions’, ‘ Chasing the Moon’, ‘Big Game Hunter’, ‘Jack the Ripper’, ‘One of those Knights’ … .

I’m already putting together Volume 6 which will be the first book dedicated to serial poetry. These series are best imagined as novels broken down into a set of poems. In Volume 6 there will be ‘Honey’ a young private detective, ‘Hawk’ a vigilante and ‘Augustus’ a slave forced into combat in the Colliseum. When the book is completed I’ll be giving it a shout here and promoting it for Free on Amazon.

At present I’m also working on my next novel, ‘Hawk – A Manhunter’ about an ex-Special Forces soldier who returns to his native Glasgow and establishes himself as a vigilante. The city then becomes a place where the crooks are not safe. Not surprisingly this novel is based on what was a popular series on the Starlite Cafe poetry site.

As usual, I’ve got more than one short story on the go. Reformatting and preparing my ebooks to go from Smashwords to Amazon has taken up considerable time so I’m going to feel content to be back to storytelling.

I’ve updated my website so if you haven’t seen it recently why not click the link on the homepage here and check it out.

Download ‘Thrills and Chills’ for FREE here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Thrills-Chills-Anthology-Poetry-ebook/dp/B00CK0A96I/ref=la_B00C9HTUTY_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1367435058&sr=1-6

10 Days in Panama – 1,100 + downloads so far

I revamped the story, redesigned the front cover and relaunched the book on Amazon / Kindle two weeks ago on a five-day FREE promotion.

So far there have been 100 downloads across the UK and 1000 downloads Worldwide. 

If you are one of those good people – I thank you!

The new look cover and title - being used on Amazon / Kindle
The new look cover and title – being used on Amazon / Kindle

I have two reviews within the front cover, which was part of the relaunch and I’ve already had a positive review from a new reader. That person will be posting their review on Amazon within the next day or two. Reviews, and in particular positive ones, are the lifeblood of a book and it’s author. I would be grateful if having taken the time to read my work, you could then write a short comment on the book’s Amazon page, either on Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk 

My next novel is a thriller set in Glasgow and Western Scotland. I’ve completed the first draft and the rewriting is well underway. I’ll be happy to send an excerpt to any reader who reviews ’10 Days in Panama’

Minimum prices I can use are: £1.95 and equivlent U.S. $2.99

Link to ’10 Days in Panama’ on Amazon / Kindle:


FREE on Amazon Kindle

The new look cover and title - being used on Amazon / Kindle
The new look cover and title – being used on Amazon / Kindle

Yes it’s true, I’ve moved my novel to Amazon Kindle and I’ve put it on a FREE promotion for five days.

I spent two weeks in March giving the manuscript a mini-revamp, re-titled it to become: ’10 Days in Panama’ and to finish the job off, I refreshed the front cover.

I’m pleased to report that in it’s first couple of hours on promotion it was downloaded over 130 times.

If you haven’t got your copy, why not get along to Amazon Kindle before Saturday and get it for FREE. From Saturday it will revert to the minimum price of £1.99 / $2.99 approximately (give or take a penny or two).

This is a short post to highlight the move to Amazon Kindle but I’ll be back in a day or two if there is any progress to report. I’m now once again working on ‘Hawk’, a vigilante thriller set in Glasgow. It’s already on the third draft so I’m pleased to be getting back onto it.

Use the title or FREE as your link to download ’10 Days in Panama’

Spring In My Step

Which step is that then?  Well it’s the next step in my writing of course, but more of that shortly.  As we in the UK all take that common leap of faith from March to April we hope to experience a marked change in season, from Winter to Spring.  I for one, will not be holding my breath … .

Small section of the Walled Garden at Blair Castle.
Small section of the Walled Garden at Blair Castle.

What is the graphic all about?  A good question and one that deserves an answer.  In some ways it represents that leap of faith as mentioned above regarding the weather, but it also represents a similar leap … regarding my writing aspirations.  How so? I hear you ask, so I’ll enlighten you.

The walled garden only partly pictured above, has a lot going on within and by virtue of the ‘walled’ aspect it is reasonably under control.  As the garden is cultivated and nurtured there is a fervent hope to see great things from it in time.  In my own case, since October 2012 I’ve been working a three-day week.  Mainly thanks to Tony Brown, my Area Manager and Kev Bailey, my Store Manager at Ryman, my transition from management to staff and reduced hours has been easy.  I have much more time available for writing, reading and increasing my art portfolio.

The key word of course is ‘available’ … and now, you dear reader wonder why.  Gaining all the extra time in the world is no good unless it is used for the intended purpose.  Like many others I’m guilty of allowing other things to encroach on my time; DIY projects, TV programmes, clearing out the attic, etc.

Between October and December last year I relaxed and enjoyed the extra free time.  January 2013 arrived and I made a concerted effort to tackle more projects related to my newly announced job title: ‘Creative Writer and Freelance Artist’.  I finished off a couple of outstanding short stories, completed the term of writing classes with the Inkerman Writers and settled in as a member of ReadWave online.

More recently I’ve finished reading the incredible book, ‘Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee’ by Dee Brown.  It’s a tale of the atrocities committed against the Native Americans as the white man ‘discovered’ and ‘tamed’ America.  If you’d like to read my review, please click on the appropriate Good Reads panel in the right hand column.

Why is April so important with all this leaping?  Another good question.  It sees the start of the new tax year and I will now start to maintain records of all my expenditure and income related to my writing and artwork.  I will have a couple of months to decide whether or not I want to go down the route of ‘self-assessment’ with our wonderful Customs and Excise department.

I’ll be back soon with news of a move for my e-published books … could they be heading for Amazon / Kindle publishing?