Amsterdam Calling – with options

There is no excuse for not reading certain books and Amsterdam Calling is now included in that ‘certain’ category. It matters not if you use a smartphone, eReader, computer screen or prefer to handle a physical book — the options are all there. If you have a Kinde eReader you can even read the book for free on Kindle Unlimited.

As the author it’s not for me to say whether it’s a good story, but here is the selection of review excerpts I’ve included on the back cover. I’m delighted to say that the reviews are by three exceptional authors: Lesley Hayes, Patrick Christopher Power, and Barbara Fagan Speake.

Research in Amsterdam

The seed was sown by my distant friend and fellow author, Carmen Lopez. She suggested my knowledge of Amsterdam and its many attractions would lend itself to a good story. In the latter part of 2012, the first notes were made, hundreds of photographs perused and a simple plot devised. A few weeks later I had the makings of a thriller, but as an author will tell you, strong characters have a way of messing with your head; and your story idea.

By the spring of 2013, my tale was a romance with thriller undertones, so thanks for that, Dan and Crystal, (the main characters).

The final version took a year of rewrites, double-checking of facts, emails to businesses and reaching up to pull out hair that was no longer there. Amsterdam Calling was no longer one of several optional title ideas and a hard-fought manuscript. By the summer of 2014, it was an eBook.

This year, having revised all of my books at least twice I was prepared to do so again, starting with Amsterdam Calling. After all, the paperback version was going to be more expensive and I wanted them to look professional in every respect. My aim was to deal with formatting so I purchased the Vellum program. I asked Aimee Coveney a professional cover designer to deal with the solution for the exterior of the paperback. I gave myself a target of four weeks for completion, and that was how long it took.


It was halfway through my final year at school, in May of 1966, the Beatles released what was to become one of my favourite tracks – Paperback Writer. I recall there was a big football tournament on TV at the time, but it took second place to my loves of music and reading. It would take a little over fifty years before I fulfilled my dream and published a paperback.


My creative writing commenced in earnest in 2007, so I spent ten years working at my craft and only publishing eBooks. For the past two years I’ve suggested I’d get into paperback versions of my books, but each time I’ve started work on the project it’s been postponed to write more stories.

To see this story in paperback is a thrill, and sales are being made which is heartwarming, but unlike many authors, I have something else which will give me a buzz. In the summer I’ll be heading to Amsterdam, so I’ll be taking a few copies of the book; gifts for people who gave me permission to use their enterprises in the story.

I’ll leave you with useful links in case you’re one of those yet to find a comfortable way to read this story:

Amazon Preview/Buy      Amazon Paperback      BookLinker Global

You’ll notice in the graphic of the paperbacks, I finally have the excuse to make bookmarks. They’re double-sided and laminated, which means anybody who uses one won’t forget what I write and where to find my books.

As always, thank you for reading my post, and those of you who do; my books.


A Life of Choice: Part One – now available

In 1992, I considered myself fortunate, not only to have completed a military career, but to have done so unscathed by mental or physical trauma. It was towards the end of that great life I considered writing my autobiography, but I wasn’t sure how to proceed.

Most service personnel are storytellers, although many would say it wasn’t the case. To put that statement in context, if you have two or more soldiers in a truck, in the troop garages, a trench, a bar, or a social event – you will have storytelling.

My favourite setting is the ubiquitous campfire. I can recall more than one occasion sitting around with a group of guys, sometimes with beers, and sometimes with coffee. Even the memory brings a smile.


CampfireThe scene means more to me now, as a writer.


It is where storytelling began – and in effect where my present career was born.

Prior to the written word, storytelling was how experience, instruction, and legend were passed between our ancient ancestors – and it still is in some places.


I toyed with the idea of a straightforward, no holds barred, truthful account of 23 years of fun, fear, drunken nights and a multitude of different days, but I realised it couldn’t work. Next up was the thought of writing the chapters as individual short stories, but that method would have made it easier for real people to see themselves and others.

I followed my military career with 20 years in retail management, during which I wrote my autobiography in several styles – but always badly.

I am not foolish enough to judge if I’ve got it right this time, so I’ll have to await reviews, but the story will now be published in easily digestible parts.


It was in 2007, I stepped down from retail management to make writing my third career, but it was only in recent times I pulled out my handwritten notes and word documents to assess what to do with my very first ‘big’ story.

Armed with the experience of writing my novels and short stories, I tackled the venture with a new attitude. The story is loosely related to my military career, but it is not an autobiography. Although I’ve chosen to write the tale in first person point of view – it is fact-based fiction.

All the ingredients are retained, but with a light-hearted tone. I sincerely hope it leaves a sense of intrigue and not frustration in the mind of the reader, to know that some events involved me, some are fictitious, and yet others are based on events that I know happened to somebody else.

A Life of Choice – Part One is now available on Amazon and is unlike anything I’ve written previously. My estimation is to complete the story in five parts, and if reviews are favourable, this is the story I would most like to produce in paperback at a later date.

The link below is an Amazon – universal link which will take you to your local Amazon.

Amazon – universal / preview / buy


As always, thank you for reading my blog, and if you do decide to try this new title, I would appreciate a review, however short. Authors don’t ask for reviews to receive praise – they ask for them to provide feedback to let them know if they’ve achieved the primary aim, which is to entertain the reader.

Until we meet again. Thank you.


Learning to Listen, Read, and Write

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What’s the hardest thing to do when you’ve received praise?

I believe the hardest thing for many of us is to consider that we could have done better.

Yes, you’ve done something that received acclaim, but does that really mean you’ve done your best?

No, it means you’ve done enough.


In July 2015, while I was working hard simultaneously on Give & Take: A Tale of Erotica, and Beyond The Law: Retribution, I wrote a blog titled A Review of Reviews.

I stated in the post that I intended to get my main projects published by December 2015, and then I would tackle each of my titles, one after another to perform a full critical analysis and rewrite.

Well, guess what … it’s November and those two main projects are now published.


What are my projects for the months ahead?

My agenda is flexible, but fairly well set up for the foreseeable future:

1.  Continue working on my next anthologies
The Welcome: and other Sci-Fi stories
A Time for Courage: and other military stories

2.  Dust off and get back to work on my fact-based fiction / coming of age story A Life of Choice, which I will now be producing in a series of books.

3.  Continue to work behind the scenes to support and build on the success of the Indie Author Support and Discussion Facebook group, especially with the restructuring of the group website.

4.  Read and review titles from the IASD group website.

5.  In December 2015 I will begin what I said I would do – commence a detailed revision and rewrite of all of my titles.

– Make a copy of the main manuscript.

– Read and make notes from every review, whether positive or negative issues.

– Locate and amend the negative issues as a priority.

– Read the story as a reader, and look out for the telltale signs of the novice. I will have a list of key words and phrases in front of me to locate and zap / replace.

– Subject each chapter individually to Grammarly to double-check punctuation, grammar, and so on.

– Amend the cover and inside information to have a subtle ‘Revised Edition’ with the appropriate date.

– Ask for beta readers in advance of completion.

– When all bugs are ironed out, republish and set up a Kindle Countdown Deal to kick-start interest in the title, and my brand.

– Move on to the next title.


How long will it take?

Time is not my major concern, because if I’m aiming to achieve a higher standard, it takes as long as it takes.

I’d like to think if I don’t touch the poetry series, I might be capable of dealing with the novels and short stories by next summer. It will be interesting. I’ve no doubt there will be many things which are fine, but there will be issues and it will be a test of my mettle to deal with them properly.


I will of course report back on a regular basis. Once underway, I will not give up.
Thank you once again for joining me on my journey. All comments are welcome.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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

– 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.


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.


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.


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.


Give & Take: A Tale of Erotica

I’m pleased to say that my debut erotica novel is now available for download. I know I’m naturally biased, but I’d like to think that this story will put some other books of the genre in the shade … or should that be shades?

There are no millionaires with hang-ups, or naive virgins. In this story you will find only a handful of characters, but they are interesting – just like the situations which are presented throughout the tale.Give and Take - the final cover

What is it about?

Nick and Kirsten are an attractive couple in their early 20’s and share an apartment. To the outside world they are perfectly matched, but behind closed doors things are not so straightforward.

Nick’s appetite for sexual experimentation goes beyond what Kirsten will allow. Kirsten’s love for Nick is pushed to the limit, however, she confides in a friend and takes a course of action that nobody would have expected – least of all her boyfriend.

The couple find themselves in a world where they will both see fantasy become reality, but at what cost?


Until this title becomes available on my author website, I’ll add the appropriate links in this post and in my main menu.

 Give & Take    

Give & Take –        

(The sample available on Amazon does the introduction perfectly)


This genre does not appeal to everybody, so I realise that there will be those who have enjoyed my other work but will not buy into this one – which is as it should be.

If you should decide to try this story, I would be grateful if you left a review.

If on the other hand you would like to read the book and not make it public; that is understandable. I’ll be happy to receive a ‘confidential’ opinion or review. If you’d like to opt to do so, please use the contact page of my author website:

The only person to see any contact made in that way will be me, so confidentiality is guaranteed.


There will be a follow-up to this post once the book has had time to ‘breathe’. As with any novel, if I have sufficient positive feedback, a sequel will be on the cards. On the subject of sequels, I have other work in progress at the moment, but for a few days I will try to catch up with blog visits and reading.

As always, thank you for checking out my blog and buying into my brand.

If you opt to try the new book – enjoy! (oh yes, one other thing … wear something comfortable 😉 )


Give and Take – the idea

Any venture which involves a partnership requires ‘give and take’, and it was from this perspective that I chose to attempt one of my latest projects.

Regular visitors to this blog will be aware that I said, if my book, Coming Around and other erotic stories proved successful and received positive reviews, I’d consider writing an erotic novel.


Guess what?

Okay, so I haven’t made enough money from that title to retire to a little place in the country. Neither will I be swapping spit (or anything else) with a famous author who made a fortune from a badly-plotted erotic novel which appealed to so many people – but not to me.


How have I measured success for that particular experimental collection?

912FmvSHzYL._SL1500_1. It has been bought on a regular basis since publication.
2. It has been read by both male and female readers.
3. It has amassed a staggering seven reviews … but they are all 5*.
4. It has caused no less than four individuals to write to me asking if I’d ever consider writing an erotic novel.

That’s successful enough to give me the excuse.


What is Give and Take about?

Essentially, it is about a relationship, and I’ve chosen to focus on the weakest part of that relationship, which is the couple’s sex-life.


How can you write anything meaningful about a couple’s sex-life?

Some of you will wish you hadn’t asked, but whatever, read on.

Let’s all now prepare ourselves to be honest – I mean really honest.

If you are involved in a sexual relationship, is it all it could be?

Would you ever divulge your deepest fantasies to somebody else?

Would you consider spending a few days in a remote clinic, where you and your partner could indulge yourselves in activities that you have only ever dreamt about?

Are you even a little bit ‘curious’ in the sexual context?

If you are still reading, having hesitated just a few questions back – respect!


Give and Take is the story of a young couple who have different attitudes to the sexual side of their relationship, but although both are sexually curious, they have difficulty communicating their fantasies and desires.

They find themselves at breaking point, and in order to save all that is good about their partnership, one of them feels compelled to take decisive action. The story sees them go to a private clinic where fantasy can become reality if the desire is strong enough, and honesty pays dividends both psychologically and sexually.


I’ve had feedback from four of the writers who received my ‘rough’ fourth draft. Today, I decided to take a break from what I’m hoping is my penultimate editing session. I tend not to set up a bespoke Facebook page and play a social media fanfare with a new title, but I do like to give an introduction like this one.

In the last couple of days I’ve produced a cover which I’m content with, and for the next two weeks I will work to trim, polish, and tease the writing into shape.Give and Take - 12b - white author

My aim is to have Give and Take published by end August / early September 2015.

Who knows? If this one is moderately successful I’ll try writing another, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves, eh?


In the next two weeks I may be happy with what I would call the finished product, but before I hit the publish button I would really appreciate final feedback.

No erotica experience necessary, although some sexual experience would be preferred. Only 18+ need apply.

Contact: – subject: Give and Take

If you would be interested in reading the manuscript with a view to giving feedback before I publish, please get in touch. Confidentiality is promised, because I know that not everybody likes to be publicly associated with such literature.


As always, thank you for reading … and now you can go back to your own fantasies …


New Year … New Projects!

HF - 20

A location which will be recreated in my stories for young children.

Many writers enjoy the feeling of a new year, because it feels like a natural time to get fresh projects underway. I am one such writer.
For me, I believe 2014 was a successful year for my writing, so I’m going to push myself harder this year. I’ve already started.

Two days ago I updated the front end (sample pages) of all of my eBooks to give excerpts of recent reviews, so that they are all live and updated for the benefit of prospective readers.

Today, I updated the information on several sections of my author website:

Although I have a ‘coming-of-age’ novel already well underway, I am intending to write two sequels to other books, and I’d like to compile an anthology of military short stories.

My greatest self-imposed challenge is to create ‘Countryside Tales’, a series of stories for young children. As I write, I have already created the main human and animal characters, plus I’ve drawn a map of their environment. I have three authors in mind for when I require guidance as to whether or not I’ve got it right.

I’m intending to produce my own covers, but for now at least I am not using illustrations. I toyed with the idea of producing my own illustrations, but they are time-consuming to get right and to resize for an e-Reader. Apart from those points, I believe that I am capable of creating sufficient imagery within my words.

I will be making more of an effort to check out my fellow bloggers, so I’ll have to come up with a routine, because sporadic visits don’t seem to work well.
As always, thank you for checking out my scribbled thoughts.

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


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.