Writer’s diary: stardate: 25.04.2014
Perhaps, a bit like voting Labour in the last couple of elections expecting change – scratch away the thin veneer of sun-blistered, faded red, they’re just a lighter shade of blue – my hope is false, but I like to think of the Kindle Top 100 Free chart as the promised land for an author, like me, to wake up in.
I like to think that everyone who owns an ereader, whether it’s new or they’ve had it for years, still trawls the Kindle Top 100 Free chart from time to time for something for nothing. I like to think that it’s basic human nature. (It should be noted, for the record, that I also like to think that there are fairies at the bottom of my garden, that Elvis runs a simit stall in Istanbul and that one day Ronnie Corbett will call to enquire after the film rights to my Acer Sansom novels – think TC & JR.)
I have prayed and promoted and blogged and tweeted and accosted people on public transport and sacrificed chickens and been nice to children (probably the hardest of the lot) in my quest to see the first R&M File, Rope Enough, make Amazon’s Top 100 Free chart. This week after months of yo-yoing around the cusp the book made it. And all I had to do was follow some good advice, click a few buttons on my laptop and send Amazon a message.
My message was only slightly more complicated than: ‘Dear Amazon, please put my book in the Top 100 Free chart.’ But only just. The good advice came from a gentleman called: David Gaughran. See it regurgitated on another website here:
So I followed that good advice. Amazon responded quickly, sending me a message that they would implement my category change request and it would be live within seventy-two hours. Sit back and wait. As is my usual experience with Amazon the reality of the changes was a lot sooner. On Amazon.co.uk all was well and overnight Rope Enough found itself at #2 in the chart Kindle Store > Books > Crime, Thriller & Mystery > Crime Fiction > British & Irish > English This leap-frogged it up the slush pile (surely, ranks of overlooked, talented authors in waiting? Ed.) to #49 in the Top 100 Free chart. I managed half a cartwheel in the lounge before colliding with the dining table, knocking my future-ex-wife’s floral display over and smashing that ‘collectors’ vase she bought from Disneyland. (When I say cartwheel I must confess to catching a glimpse of myself in the floor-to-ceiling living room mirror as I got halfway through my impromptu acrobatics. Granted, I was upside down but I could have been looking at a crippled, midget hunchback falling out of a low tree in a dressing gown. Poetry in motion it wasn’t.)
I thought that surely the floodgates would be thrown open and a flock of free downloads would explode out of my portal (?) like last night’s chicken vindaloo comes out of my…curiosity to experiment with spicy food. Maybe one out of ten of those who grabbed a copy would actually read the book. Maybe one out of that ten would actually enjoy it. Maybe one out of that ten would be persuaded to download the second in the series. Maths never was my strong point, but the possibilities of that equation made me want cake and quickly. I was having a blood sugar episode.
Within two days the book had slipped into the late eighties, a bit like how my haircut invariably ends up looking when I go to that cheap barber next to the vets in Kadikoy.
Istanbul anecdote alert. (I’ll try to tell it quickly.)
Two weeks ago I went to the cut-rate barbers next to the vets in Kadikoy. It costs 9TL (@£2.50) for a SB&S. (I love a bargain. Mind you, what I save there I usually end up spending on cream, antiseptic and plasters afterwards at the pharmacy next door. That haircut could be a false economy.) There I was in the reclaimed dentist’s chair, smock draped round my top half, smelling faintly of mildew and cat piss (the smock not me, although after only five minutes in that converted parachute the stink tends to stay with one.) The senior partner of the franchise, the one with the chronic shakes and the incredible spectacles (I thought it was a practical joke first time I saw him in them. I reckon a normal-sighted person could probably make out craters on the moon on a clear night through them – was lining up for another run through my barnet with the grade four trimmer. (I do wish they’d change the blades once in a while. It feels like he drags out more hair by the roots than he cuts. If there’s any pain like that anywhere else, I don’t want to find it. I wouldn’t mind inflicting it on a few people but that’s for another blog-post.) And the door was flung open making everyone jump. (I still have the plaster on my ear to prove it wasn’t just me.)
In rushes a rather hirsute gentleman dressed in the uniform of the professional veterinarian and cradling a mangy, aged looking Alsatian. His enormous tongue was lolling out of the corner of his mouth like a yard of red flannel and his eyes were rolling around like marbles on a saucer. (This is the vet not the dog. The dog looked dead to me.) There was a frantic exchange in guttural Turkish of which I caught only three words: quick, arsehole and shit. (It occurs to me now that it is not so odd these are the only words I managed to decipher from the vet’s outburst as these are words I hear on almost a daily basis in my adopted country.)
Without apparent thought for what we in the UK take for standard hygiene practices the dog was positioned upside down in the chair next to mine. The vet lifted the tail. The barber took one pace right and to my horror began to run the electronic trimmer around the dog’s rather swollen, weeping and infected looking backside. Great tufts of matted and soiled hair ended up on the floor releasing a rather noxious scent that had me thinking about…well…dog-shit, if I’m perfectly honest. (It must have been potent to overwhelm the smell of that smock and I had a bit of a cold.)
When it was done the vet gathered up the inert beast and rushed out, presumably back to his practice to perform what looked like a life saving operation. The barber and I exchanged a look in the big mirror. He raised his eyebrows and through his plate-glass spectacles the effect on his magnified eyes was something quite startling. He mumbled something, which I took to be his apologies for the interruption. I etched an understanding smile, although in truth I was greatly disturbed by what I had witnessed.
The barber then turned his attention left and raised his free hand to someone passing his shop window. I automatically followed his gaze and before I realised what was happening he had run that electric trimmer right across the top of my head. He managed another three strokes before I could even think about finding my voice let alone forming a suitable Turkish phrase to express my outrage. But by then it seemed pointless to make a fuss. The damage was done. Better to get it over with as quickly as possible and get home – he doesn’t wash your hair for 9TL.
About the only good thing to come out of this sorry episode of life in Istanbul is that I had two seats to myself on the bus home. Come to think of it, it was more like four. And there were lots of people standing.
Where was I? Oh yes. Amazon.co.uk and one foot in the ‘promised land’. Within three days Rope Enough had disappeared without trace after a disappointing performance. I call it The Moyes Effect.
Quick peek at Amazon.com by way of procrastination before hammering on with Acer #3. Rope Enough’s second category now listed as NON-FICTION. Fucking hell! FUCKING HELL! This was potentially far worse than sharing the hairdresser’s clippers with a dog’s arsehole. To their credit, again, Amazon sorted it out quite quickly. And then the really good news. Rope Enough leapt the charts Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Mystery > British Detectives and Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Mystery > Police Procedurals to the number one spot in each which also put me in the Amazon.com Free Top 100 charts (for about twelve hours).
Cue The Moyes Effect. Sigh.
My future-ex-wife is still treating me to her ‘north’ face. I call it her ‘Eiger Sanction’…to her ‘north’ face…she doesn’t get it…hahahaha
Thank you for a jolly good laugh Oliver, as usual another very entertaining blog. The wife, or even possibly soon to be ex-wife, (as I shouldn’t take things for granted either) has just downloaded the rest of your books, she really enjoyed all of the Romney and Marsh series.
Glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for saying so. And even happier that your wife liked R&M enough to invest a little more of her research budget (er… I mean hard earned wages) on other books what I wrote. Please, pass along my sincere thanks.
Ditto the above, Oliver, very entertaining. Gaughran’s blog was also enlightening as have been thinking about how to re-categorise myself for the past two weeks.
Thanks, Pat. It’s always good to know I’m not wasting time I should be writing novels blogging. Gaughran’s advice is really good for a boost. I recommend giving it a go. The thing is finding a category that a) a book fits into and b) every other book currently listed in that category is shıt. Let me know how you get on. Next I’m trying: Kındle books-selfpublished-249 pages long-featuring detectives wıth cheesy names-authormale-born in1963. Wish me luck.
Sat, howling with laughter, at your blog! Thank you for brightening up a grey saturday morning! I am laughing with you, honest!! (I am such a bad liar!!!!) For what it is worth, I shall encourage all my fellow e-reader buddies to download the books today. Maybe buy Mrs T a set of clippers and get her to sort out future haircuts…..can’t be any more dangerous than your barbers! Have a great week.
All the best
Thanks for letting me know you enjoyed this. I’m used to be laughed at – I’m a teacher. After what ı dıd to that ‘vase’ I’m not letting Mrs T anyway near anything sharp other than my wit of course (??). I’ll waıt ’till that ‘north’ face thaws out a bit. Thanks so much for spreading the word about my books. That’s the best help I can get for them.
Hahaha! I did tell you to cough up the extra 6TL (£1.50) and go to my barber. Still I haven’t once seen him sterilise the cutthroat razor and I sit wondering every time how many hepatitis ridden former customers have sat their arse in the chair before me. Sigh! Such is life in Istanbul. Hope to see you for a beer (possibly not a haircut) in Kadikoy soon.
1.50 is 1.50. A bad haircut will soon grow out. It’s rabies I’m worrying about. Now where have I read something about that recently…? Never mind.
How about next Saturday. Are we asking Whiff? 😉 hahaha
That’s good with me. See you there 🙂
and A Dog’s Life at number 30 and Making a Killing at number 36 of PAID best sellers?? There is Romney and Marsh outranking Jo Nesbo and surrounded by Agatha Christie!! What more can you ask for?? More sales I suppose!
and what’s this??? Joint Enterprise at 61 of PAID – ahead of P.D. James!! I should point out this is at Amazon.com………not that funny UK site!
Thanks for noticing. It’s difficult to put into words how proud I feel when I see an R&M File or three rubbing shoulders with the greats of the genre. I know it doesn’t mean much in the grand scheme of publishing and popularity but it’s very encouraging.
I shan’t tell my current-future-ex-wife that I’m actually making a few dollars out these books, she would expect me to replace that ‘antique’ Mickey Mouse vase immediately.
Amazon have a UK site? I must check that out.
Ha excellent post as ever. Am trying not to dwell on the seeping-bum metaphor for too long. I wonder if we could persuade Amazon to instil a South Coast category?? Have just posted along similar lines if you’re interested.
Maybe we should pester them for it. Then again all the pros would probably just rise to the top (as usual). Tweeted your post. Feel for you with those rewrites. Soul destroying to do a job twice.
Thanks. Maybe I should have finished it before serializing it! Thanks for the tweet. And good point – maybe it should be a non-mainstream co- op….we, although that might just be us!
Thoroughly enjoyed this blog…gave me a good laugh…think a good book would be the life and times of a struggling author, living in Istanbul, with a soon to be ex wife. Keep up the good work….when is the next Acer out 🙂
Thank you. Glad you liked it.
As for your suggestion, they do say write about what you know. However, that could just end up wrist-slittingly depressing ın my case. Essentially, I write to escape my wife (surely, ‘life’? Ed.) (Sorry. Freudian slip.)
We have a day off today. I am hammering away at the keys. Acer 3 should be out for the summer…2016 😦
Loved the dog story. We laughed and laughed.
Thanks, Sarah. 🙂