Milestones and millstones.


Rope Enough Final JPEG 1205Yesterday, Rope Enough (The First Romney and Marsh File) received its 1000th comment on Amazon UK. That feels like a milestone. I honestly have no idea how many times the book has been downloaded, but it does run into tens of thousands. That’s because it’s always been free to download as my try-before-you-buy initiative. In that regard, I suppose, it’s been quite successful. However, the really important statistic linked to this milestone, for me, is what the starred feedback rating average amounts to. Rope Enough is currently enjoying a 4.4* out of a possible 5* average. And that is a wonderful feeling of validation for my writing. That is something for me to celebrate.


Deep State (Large)A couple of weeks ago I received the line-edited copy of Deep State – Acer #4 – back from Amazon. Because of other commitments, I’ve not been able to have a sustained run at it, so, an hour in the morning before work and sometimes an hour before bed. It’s taken me a long time to get through it. Much longer, I suspect, than many of the other books adopted by the Kindle Scout programme, which are overwhelmingly American in pedigree and style. This is because I write British English and the Kindle Scout editors are ‘correcting’ the manuscripts for the US market.

The manuscript is returned to the author with all the suggested changes made and detailed in the mark-up pane of an MS Word document. If one is pitching one’s work at an American market it’s easier to read through and adopt, or not, the points made. What I had to do was to open my original MS Word document alongside the ‘corrected’ version, search for the suggestions and then incorporate them, or not, into my original document. Continually switching between documents like that is a very time consuming and laborious process. But it felt like my best option.

I had to do it this way because of the huge number of changes that had been suggested with regard to the differences between British and American presentation and language. A good example of this is that American prose makes use of double speech marks as the norm. While UK formatting uses single speech marks.

US: Acer said, “These shoes are killing me.”

UK: Acer said, ‘These shoes are killing me.’

See what I mean? And there are so many spelling differences between the two languages – words and letter combinations that crop up regularly.

I had a choice to make: (a) accept the edited manuscript with the double speech marks and other differences of formatting (I just couldn’t because as established last blog-post, Acer and I are British writing for, predominantly, the British English market), (b) accepting the revised version and going through it to change all the formatting and spelling back to British English (I’d rather kill myself) or (c) do what I did – read them alongside each other and make changes to the original, if I agreed with the editor’s comments.

My decisions have also been informed by the not inconsiderable matter of series consistency. To have accepted half of the suggested changes would have made Acer #4 incompatible on various levels with Acers #1, #2 and #3. Not good for anyone reading them in order and not good for anyone who reads #4 and decides to try one of the others.

I hope no one thinks that I’m complaining. I am not. However, I do think that this is something that Amazon need to consider when they select books for publication. Perhaps British editors editing for the British English market would be a step in the right direction.

On the plus side, it soon became apparent that the editor really understood the book and the characters. He made remarks that I had to think hard about. For the record, I found him very professional, insightful and thorough. It’s just that he had a job to do on my book and his employer’s expectations and mine were different for the finished product. I even sensed in a couple of places that he seemed reluctant/sympathetic with some of his suggestions. Maybe that was just wishful thinking on my part.

I’d like to share a couple of cherry-picked comments from the editorial feedback letter: Overall, the manuscript has a fast pace and some excellent plot twists and well-developed characters… The flow of the plot is great and imaginative… The plot is very strong with some nice surprises… Of course, all of those sentences continue with a ‘however’ or a ‘but’ or an ‘although’ but I’m feeling positive today.

Anyway, all done now. Of course, once all the changes were made I had to then read the book again to make sure I hadn’t buggered anything up while I was toying with it. (That was a day of DIY lost.)

The good news is that Deep State – Acer Sansom#4 is about the best it can be. And I think it’s not a bad read. It’s gone back to Amazon now. Pinged off this morning. I’m waiting to hear from them regarding release date. All those who nominated the book in Amazon’s Kindle Scout campaign will get a free e-copy in advance of publication day. Lucky you. And me because I voted for my own book. (There was nothing in the rules to say I couldn’t.)

For those who didn’t get to see the opening sample of the book that was available for reading during the Kindle Scout campaign, here is the first word of the first paragraph of the first chapter as a teaser: ‘The…’

I’m sure you’ll agree from that, it’s gripping stuff.


And now for an update on the millstone. Because it’s my writer’s diary and I should include things that stop me writing as well as everything else.

This week I ran a ring main round for the sockets and a circuit for the lights; disconnected and took out the gas boiler and the gas fire; built the frame for a cupboard in the bathroom; removed some blown plaster from downstairs; did some gardening; cleared out some rubbish and now I’m working on removing all the woodchip wallpaper in preparation for my plastering friend skimming the walls.

May 1.jpg


May 4.jpg

May 6.jpg

On the brightside, literally, the weather seems to be changing for the better. I’ve even started enjoying the odd drink in the garden. Talking of which, my coffee cup beckons…

May 5.jpg




12 thoughts on “Milestones and millstones.

  1. I’m glad you had the strength to withstand the editorial ‘suggestions’ and maintain the British English language and culture in the book. I agree with your thoughts on the continuity with the previous books, your KSP editor probably won’t know anything about the previous books, thereby not having the full background to take into account when looking at this one. I am so looking toward to the publication. I assume it is going to be published as a physical book too? Will you be doing a book tour? If so, make sure you make it to the REAL North, or you will have me and David Gilchrist on your case!

    On other matters, what exactly are you doing with that building, you keep telling bits of it, but as far as I can see, you haven’t actually said. While you are sorting out electrics, do you want to come and do mine?

    • Thanks for your comment. 🙂 The more I think about things the more I wonder about Amazon’s real interest in all this. I mean, why are they submitting my British English manuscript to an American editor? That just doesn’t make sense, especially when it clearly states everywhere (book & cover) that it’s #4 in a series. Oh well.
      I’m also looking forward to getting it out there and read by readers of Acer. I want to know what readers think.
      Sadly, there is no real book. It’s just ebooks. So, I’m afraid the book tour will have to wait a while. But when it happens rest assured that I will have all my injections so that I’m able to travel further than Watford. 🙂
      The house is a building project I started before i left for Turkey. Downstairs got done (and then occupied by my son) and now I’m trying to make upstairs habitable before the Turkey Tidys arrive in June. I have no idea whether those electrics are going to work, so you might like to wait and see. 🙂
      Best wishes

  2. I am a big fan of British, and really, international crime fiction. The appeal is the interesting backdrops, the different use of language, the cultural differences; Americanize it, and it loses that appeal. Why would you have a British setting and use American spelling and usage? Amazon and I, apparently, don’t see this the same way! What a job to decide which things to incorporate into your manuscript and which to ignore! Of course, the continuity with the others in the series should have been a consideration. Yeoman’s job well done!

    • I agree Dianne. I can tell from the reviews I receive in America that readers enjoy the backdrops and cultural differences. It is the same for Brits reading books by American authors!

      • Yes, I love American crime novels written in US English. It’s part of why I read them – the difference. 🙂

    • Thanks for your comment, Dianne. The more i think about all this the more mystified I am. I really think that Amazon should have sent my manuscript to British English editor, especially as it’s part of an existing series. I suspect it’s because the KS operation is all American at the moment and so that’s the market they are primarily concerned with.
      It was a chore at times, but ’tis done and I’m happy.
      Best wishes.

  3. Cripes, a lot of work involved. How much say do you get over the changes you make? I would see it in a similar way to you, the majority of my sales are in the UK, so I’d expect the books to retain its Britishness overall. My American readership never seem to complain about the differences in style and language, even in my husband and wife sleuth series which is very ‘traditional British’. Agatha Christie’s books are still hugely successful in the US we shouldn’t forget! Good luck!

    • Hi Kath
      Thanks for your comment.
      Yes, it was a lot of work and tedious with it. But of course, as you’ll know well, you can’t afford to make a mistkake to it’s all fierce concentration.
      Fortunately, as the author I’m allowed to accept all or nothing of the proposed changes. No pressure. That was good. The editor had some very useful input, which i did take on board, but the formatting and stylising time was wasted.
      I have had some negative comments on Amazon from American readers who didn’t appreciated the Britishness of some of my books. What can you do? And good point about Christie et al.
      I’m looking forward to seeing how the KS experience impacts on things overall. No doubt, I’ll blog about it. 🙂
      Best wishes

  4. Amazon is off the mark. They don’t realize or perhaps understand that folks in the US crave British mysteries and there authors. I’m an American and 98% of my book purchases are British. I love the language and fully enjoy hearing the accent in my head. Stick to your guns and let Amazon know there are plenty of Americans who want to read books in the British style.
    Susan Hollers
    Portland OR

    • Hi Susan
      Thanks for your comment. Much appreciated.
      I think that Amazon are very US market focussed with their Kindle Scout programme. They’re thinking of sales, no doubt. That’s their job.
      Acer will remain in British English (unless Tom Cruise wants to play him in a film and then…)
      Best wishes.

  5. Is that Artex on the ceiling? Vile stuff. Hope that is getting skimmed over too.

    Onto books and style. One of my authors got slagged off on for using British words and spelling. Anyway, we ignore that and continue our merry way. But, quotation marks are alternative. Most of my British authors use “” even though I tell them correct style is ‘’. Speaking of which I enjoyed Rope Enough, nice characters, interesting plot, and only around 40 errors. These days that seems pretty good. Oh, and no graphic gore which is another plus.

    • I can live with the Artex. Just about. The rats are going to have to find a new home though.
      Thank you for your comment. Good to know that you enjoyed R&M File#1. I’m used to getting slagged off – I was a teacher. Thick skins and all that. And if there is one thing that self-publishing has taught me it is that you can’t please all the people all the time.
      Best wishes

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