Wednesday 8 July 2015

The process of buying a book.... mine at least!

Just a reminder that Leap of Faith is available on Amazon as an eBook for the special price of 99p.

So you've written a book and by some fluke (otherwise known as hard work) it's been taken on by an agent and / or a publisher. It's about to hit the bookshop shelves, Amazon depots, libraries, electronic devices, schools and eventually charity shops...... where unless someone parts with hard-earned cash the book will sit earning nothing for everyone. 

So let's look at the act of buying.

People don't go to Amazon to browse for books, do you? You go there to buy a specific volume, whether Kindle, or paperback and buy it, because it's usually cheaper than anywhere else and you're prepared to put up with the inconvenience of a 3 to 5 day wait for the convenience of not having to go into town.

From my point of view as an author of Young Adult adventure books, the downside is that the only people who buy books on Amazon are those with Kindle devices, and those who also have debit, or credit cards. No matter how hard you stuff notes into the DVD tray Amazon will never accept the purchase! Certainly lots of YA's have Kindles, but very few have Amazon accounts, or credit cards, so they either have to depend on their parents to buy for them, or they go to their local bookshop..... and browse!

Amazon may have several million books on its database, but a shop displays an excellent selection of tempting books for most age groups and genre tastes, and also has staff that are usually keen to help and advise. 

Where else but in a bookshop can you meet an author, chat and get them to sign one of their books. As an author I love the thrill of meeting existing and new readers of my books and hopefully gaining a fan for years to come. The bookshop owner loves signing days because it attracts potential buyers into the shop who may just buy other books as well. It's a scenario where everybody wins!

So the buying process in short:-
 - If you know the exact book you want and have a credit card, or willing parent, Amazon is probably the cheap option.
 - If you want to add to your reading selection within a genre, go to your local independent bookshop and browse.
 - If I'm in the bookshop grab me and ask me to sign my books. I promise I won't protest!
 - Either way, when Royal Mail brings your Amazon parcel, or you get home from town clutching one of my books.... Read them and enjoy every word!

Blog on, Dudes!

Tuesday 7 July 2015

The process of marketing a book... mine at least!

Before you start reading, bear a thought for the poor, struggling author that wrote this.... me!
Leap of Faith is available this week only at 99p as an eBook from Amazon at


So, once you've finished your book and it's with the publisher, that's your job as the author over and done with. So on to the next book!

Not a bit of it!

You may have written the world's greatest masterpiece, but if people don't know about it, unfortunately sales will reflect that. Someone has to go out to the big wide world of potential readers / buyers and tell them time and time again that your new bestseller is available and ready for them to enjoy on their book shelves or Kindle device.

Who do you shout at and what do you shout?
 - Social metworking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Many authors have multiple FB pages (personal, author and sometimes one for each book). I have three FB pages one of wich is hosted by one of the characters from my Temporal Detective Agency series. I also use Linkedin, which is primarily a business network, however like most authors, I used to be in business and still maintain my links. It also has useful groups I've joined.
 - Target your audience. My readers are primarily Young Adults, so advertising in The Oldie magazine is probably not the best use of my marketing time! Equally, think like your audience. 
- Don't shout "buy my books" at the same people day in, day out. That's a great way NOT to sell books. By variable, be interesting.
 - A blog is an excellent tool. Again, be interesting. Interviews are good, but don't keep interviewing the same people everyone else is interviewing, i.e. friends who are also authors. I started approaching well-known people (actors, broadcasters and authors) and found them very helpful and more than happy to spend time online with me. You need to create your audience though. Word of mouth / internet is a prime way and is really a recommendation to a new follower, but linking the blog to your website, if you have one, is key. Make sure also that each blog post is also linked to Facebook pages and Twitter..... and ask people to share!
- Your website is the window into your life by which the world can see who you are and what you're doing. It can be your key tool and should be aimed at you target age group and genre. Mine at is geared to the Young Adults among us and has lots of little surprises! Above all keep it relevant and up to date with lots of links to Amazon, your publisher and any other site your prospective reader might be interested in.
 - Goodreads and and the two largest book review sites. Of the two I prefer Authorsden, even though it's mainly American. It's author biography and book pages are professional and easy to create and the statistics it provides on the number of views and strike throughs to sites such as Amazon give you a great idea on traffic and potential sales. It also shows a top 10 list of books by views for each genre. I have to mention that, because my second book in the Temporal Detective Agency series (Trouble With Swords) is #3 in the Young Adults chart!
- Local press and radio and usually happy to help local authors. They're only a phone call away, but have something interesting to say, such as a new book release, or a local book signing.
- I love doing book signings in independent bookshops. They're fun and if promoted well and organised correctly can be great fun, as well as rewarding. Bookshops are also only a phone call away and are usually happy to talk.

- Don't ignore libraries, both local council and those in schools if your market is YA. I work with the Schools Library Service for each county to stock school libraries and organise school talks. J K Rawling's Harry Potter books really only took off through "playground marketing", in other words kids telling their friends about these great new books they've just read. 
- There are different distributors for independent bookshops, chain bookshops, ocean cruise liners, schools and county libraries. They're specialists in their repective markets and not to be ignored.

The main thing is to fun and to enjoy what you're doing. If you do, then it's highly likely your readers will enjoy your books that much more. And that is the name of the game!

Blog on, Dudes!

Friday 3 July 2015

The process of writing a book..... mine at least!

Writing a book is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiartion.... or roughly in that proportion. I forget who said it (probably Mark Twain!) but he was definitely a perspiring author!

In my case I sweated Leap of Faith, the first in the Temporal Detective Agency series, for around 8 years before it became properly published by Crooked Cat in both eBook and paperback format. However at some point in that period there came the magic 10% when I was (ahem) inspired!

For 15 years I was a Scout Leader and for 10 of those I wrote and produced the Scout and Guide Association Gang Shows. Ralph Reader started them some decades ago and they were tremendously popular in the 1960's with several million tuning into BBC to watch them once a year on Saturday night and an annual 2 week run at the London Palladium. Mt Gang Shows may have been on a slightly smaller scale, bu they were great fun and we had 80 kids on stage and the same number of people doing backstage, front of house, lighting and sound, security and car parking. A producer's lot is not an easy one! 

The second show was called Timescape and it always struck me that it had the kernel of a book hidden in it somewhere. I was lucky enough to have convinced Terry Pratchet to co-write one scene with me and even to act in it on video so we could show it every night. I broached the idea of turning the show (or part of it) into a book, and he rightly told me to keep the day job. However I did ask him if I could use his name and character in the book, or any sequel and he laughed before agreeing. He probably never expected a book to see the light of day, but to his surprise he apears in the second book in the series. He has a signed copy which nis agent read to him (he was blind towards the end of his life). It's the only book Terry Pratchett ever appeared in!

The first draft was nearly 500 pages long and my agent sent it back. She told me to put the letters GOWTS on my keyboard. They stand for Get On With The Story and it was the best advise I ever had. I cut Leap of Faith down to around 250 pages and I have to admit that the book now races along as an adventure, without losing anything in the reduced version! I used the same criteria in the rest of series and will continue to do so for as long as the Temporal Detective Agency is having fun.

So, back to the process:-
- Get an idea (inspiation)
- Look at it from all sides and examine it in detail. Scrap the idea if necessary!
- Storyboard it. Hopefully see the beginning, the middle and the end. I've even started a book by writing the last 3 chapters. They were good too!
- Write the first page and make it a humdinger!
- Complete the book, then look at each character and ask yourself if they really "live" in 3D. Do you believe in them, because if you don't, no one else can.
- Take out all adverbs and adjectives except those that are absolutely necessary. Be strict and remember that your reader has an imagination and will put in their own adverbs and adjectives.... probably better than yours!
- Don't get friends and family to read the book. They'll tell you it's magnificent.... or too awful for words. Either way, they'll be wrong!
- Get an agent if possible. The hardest part of the whole process, but often necessary as most publishers won't talk to authors, only agents who they presume have filtered out the dross and are presenting the cream. Sometimes the cream sinks to the bottom!

So you've got a book, it's published and you have a paperback copy actually in your hands. Er.... where's adoring queue of fan wanting you to sign copies? Now comes the really hard task.... marketing!

But that's another topic for later this week!

Remember for the next week Leap of Faith is available from Amazon as an eBook for 99p or $1.56. So go to...

Blog on, Dudes!