Confession time…



This week my conscience encouraged me to visit my local church to make confession, to seek absolution for my misdeeds. It just feels so right that my priest is a world-weary Irishman with a fondness for the drink.

Welcome, my son. What brings you to church today?

I come to seek forgiveness father, for I have sinned.

I see. And what form did this sin take, my son? Is this about the sheep again because…?

No father. I’m over her.

I’m glad to hear it, my son. God does not approve of…. Anyway, go on.

I’m a CWAP.

Don’t be so hard on yourself.

A Crime Writing Author Publisher, father.

Oh. That’s not sinful. Unless you write shite. But that’s not for me to judge. That’s up to the readers.

I haven’t finished, father. I’m a CWAP. One of the cardinal rules of being a CWAP is never get shirty with a reader.

And you did?

Yes, father.

Perhaps you should tell me all about it and we will see what is to be done.

This week I received a comment on my blog…

What’s a blog?

It’s like a little plot of virtual land in cyber space, father.

I have no idea what you’re talking about. (The sound of glass touching glass followed by the gentle trickle of liquid leaving a bottle filtered through the dividing screen.) You were saying, my son?

I received a comment from a reader of one of my books that went like this:

I love books of all kinds … but your book was poorly written. I quit after 3 pages but the book did receive a first for me … it was the first book I have ever deleted from my quite full kindle list. Please try again but this time hire a brilliant editor and you just might have a chance.

I tried to ignore it father. I didn’t approve it. I deleted it and marked it as spam. I know the world is full of bastard trolls who hide behind their computer screens spewing out their virtual puke with no thought for the injury and pain they cause. But I couldn’t forget it. It gnawed away at me. What was the book? What was her problem with it? Who the fuck does she think she is to leave a nasty, spiteful comment like that on my fucking blog?

Language, my son, and God thanks you to keep your voice down. That’ll cost you three Hail Marys.

Sorry father.

What happened?

I replied, father. I always reply to comments on my blog.

Was that wise? What form did your reply take, my son?

You recently commented on my blog about one of my books (you didn’t mention the title). I was wondering, are you a real person or was it just malicious spam? You see, I just can’t believe that anyone would seriously take the time and trouble to write such a nasty, mean-spirited comment. Unless that person was a total bitch, of course. Anyway, I look forward to hearing from you.

PS Just in case you are a real person, perhaps you could let me know the title of the book and exactly what it was about it that bothered you enough to feedback so spitefully. 🙂

That is indeed sinful for a CWAP. But fair play to you for standing up for yourself. Did she respond, at all?

She did

Nope, not a robot.  And this is the first time I’ve complained about a book on a blog.  

The book was “Dirty Business”.  What I didn’t like was the ambiguous (as in “not expressed clearly” definition of the word) introduction.  Instead of catching my attention and wanting me to continue reading it left me with such a blah feeling that I honestly couldn’t make it past the first few pages.  Which is why I suggested some good editing so that the introduction … and possibly the rest of the book, though I cannot judge the rest as I didn’t read it … would be a compelling read.  

Consider me a bitch, or consider it constructive criticism, it really doesn’t matter to me either way.  But if you take it as constructive criticism remember that you only get one chance to make a first impression with a book, as with all things in life, so make the introduction pop.  That is why the tv shows that start with a well crafted gory scene and then go from there last for numerous seasons (i.e. CSI shows).  They capture the audience and make it so they have to stay to the end to find out what happened.

Peace out.

Did you respond?

I did

Thank you for your reply. I’m glad of it. And a little perplexed. What I now don’t understand is why you couldn’t have made that constructive and focussed criticism in your original comment on my blog. If you had said the things that you have in your email I would have happily approved your comment. Here is what you did write:

I love books of all kinds … but your book was poorly written. I quit after 3 pages but the book did receive a first for me … it was the first book I have ever deleted from my quite full kindle list. Please try again but this time hire a brilliant editor and you just might have a chance.

If you had nothing better to do with your time than to trawl through the comments on the blog you would see that I always welcome constructive criticism and I always respond positively. In fact, may I share something with you from the back of my books? (You wouldn’t have seen it as you didn’t get to the end.) I invite readers to give me constructive feedback.


Firstly, thank you for taking a chance on downloading this book. I hope you found something in it to enjoy.

Secondly, I invite you to visit me at where you can find out more about other books I’ve written. You can also find me on Facebook and Twitter .

Thirdly, if you enjoyed the read, please leave a comment to that effect with the retailer you obtained it from. That sort of thing is really important for an indie author/publisher. Readers’ comments are all we’ve got to go by. Alternatively, I would be genuinely pleased to receive any comments, corrections or suggestions regarding any aspect of this book and my writing at the web address above where I have made a page available for feedback.

Best wishes

Oliver Tidy

I’ve been writing for long enough now to understand that one simply cannot please all the readers all the time. It doesn’t matter who you are. I accept that. I also accept that if a reader tries one of my books, even something they downloaded for free, then that entitles the reader to have their say on it. But, I do think that readers should not abuse or take lightly this right. Hating the read is fine. However, if you must pass negative comment can I suggest that it is done in a way that is fair, constructive, focussed and helpful. It’s much nicer than the alternative. And the world needs more nice.



Did she respond?

She didn’t.


Not a word, father, and I’m sorry for that because I believe we could have mended fences. Am I to be absolved, father?

Let me think a moment. For getting shirty with a reader, three Our Fathers and a couple of Hail Marys ought to do it. In future try to rise above it. And just remember for every shit bag in the world there are a hundred good people. Next…


Taking stock.

Dirty Business #1 frre charts.jpg

Writer’s diary: 20.11.2016

Last Monday (14.11.2016) Dirty Business (The First Acer Sansom Novel) was included in a Bookbub promotion. The emailshot let subscribers to Bookbub know that the book was free to download everywhere. Would my decision to splash out $109 with Bookbub repay my investment?

On the Monday DB was downloaded 9293 times. That sent it to #1 in the Amazon free charts. Since then to now, Sunday morning, it’s been downloaded a further 6000 times. It’s currently occupying the #13 slot in the free charts. I expect it will continue to be downloaded all the time it has that kind of visibility.

Regarding getting DB downloaded onto readers’ kindles I call that job done. Of course, the reason behind advertising the book was to get it read and then to get some of those readers interested enough to go on and try the next and the next and the next in the series. Early days for a comprehensive view of all that, I think, but each of the subsequent titles in the series has leapt thousands of places in the Amazon chart. Loose Ends (Acer #2) was languishing in the 20,000s before the promotion. This morning it’s at #1665 in the overall Amazon charts. Smoke and Mirrors (Acer#3) and Deep State (Acer#4) are, at the time of writing, both in the top 5000 for all books. That’s good.

In actual sales terms there’s nothing that leads me to believe I might be able to visit the Range Rover showroom anytime soon with a view to making THAT purchase. LE has been downloaded (and paid for) 160 times since Monday. To offer some insight into the potential for knock-on sales from a promotion, in the three weeks prior to Bookbub’s mailshot LE was downloaded 110 times. There are similar increases in sales for the other two books in the series. Good again.

Naturally, I hope that more of those 15000 readers who have so far downloaded DB for free will actually get around to reading it and then go on to download others in the series.

Bottom line, then. Does the $109 Bookbub invesment seem worth it. Absolutely, if you have other books in the same series available for readers to go on to.

Prose and promos.

Writer’s diary: Star date: 11.11.2016

dirty-business-final-largeI recently tried a Facebook ad campaign with Dirty Business. It cost £42 and ran for a week. It was the first time I’d tried a FB promotion. The book almost got into the Amazon Top 100 free books. There were other factors at play that would have influenced the chart position: the book had just become free, I was posting and Tweeting about it and so were online friends. Thanks, all.

The book is back into free fall down the charts now. At the time of writing it sits at #469, and that’s only a couple of days after the FB promotion finished.

I can’t say that I’ve noticed much in the way of knock-on sales for the rest of the series, which was the main reason for dropping the price of the book to free in the first place.

Would I consider a FB promotion again?  The FB stats indicated that over the 7 day ‘campaign’ period the promoted post, which advertised the book as a free download from all major e-book retailers, reached 4340 FB users. From those there were 170 post engagements, whatever that signifies. Not a great return, so I don’t think I’ll do it again anytime soon.

On Monday Dirty Business is being included in a Bookbub mailshot. Bookbub are THE book promoters. They have a huge mailing list. It cost me $109 to get it listed with them, which doesn’t include the US market. I could have gone for that but Acer doesn’t seem to go down well across the pond and the cost of the ad would have been far higher, and Bookbub might have rejected my application if I’d ticked the box to include the US mailshot, and then it wouldn’t even have been going out anywhere. I just have to hope that Bookbubbers love a freebie as much as I do.

The last and only other time I ran a Bookbub promo was for Rope Enough (Romney and Marsh File #1). That did really well and there was significant knock-on for the R&M Files. Fingers crossed that Bookbub can do something similar for Acer.

cold-kills-mediumAt the end of last week I sent Cold Kills off to my proofreading friend. I’m happy with it. I got some good advice from a good mate that I tried to implement. One part of that advice that will stand me in good stead with all my writing is to always consider whether blocks of writing can be expressed through character dialogue instead of chunks of text. It does work a lot better, and speaking as as a reader I much prefer reading dialogue than blocks of text. I find them a bit of a turn off. The book is better for the adjustments. And five thousand words longer, even though part of my reason for working on it was to pare down the prose to make it more concise and punchier. I did do that, of course, but a few other things sprouted hitherto unrealised potential for exploring. That’s one of the good things about leaving a project in a ‘drawer’ for six months. Fresh perspective.

I adopted some other online writing advice I came across while editing: get rid of superfluous words.  It was suggested that the words: suddenly, obviously, clearly and the ‘f’ word can always be dropped without detriment to the writing. I ditched every single one of them and every sentence I pruned them from read better for it. I also have a couple of other words that are pet hates of mine, mainly because I tend to overuse them: just and that. I did a hatchet job on those, too. That just felt good. Damn! Felt good.

I’m heading back to the UK on Monday for a few weeks. Stuff unrelated to my writing life to deal with. Having finsihed with and sent off Cold Kills last weekend that gave me this week spare. B&C#3 is the next project on my list but I didn’t want to give it a week and then leave it for a few and then come back to it. I’m going to need to focus and concentrate on that book. So what I did was run with an idea I had for a short story – working title Femme Fatale. It ran and ran. I finished the first draft of about 20,000 words today. If nothing else it’s helped me get back in my writing routine after too long away from it. It’s also comforting, make that something of a relief, to know that I can still churn out a few thousand words a day when the mood takes me.

Cold Kills

cold-kills-mediumCold Kills is my next book out. I intend to list it for pre-order around the beginning of December for a Christmas Day release.

Cold Kills is not a Romney and Marsh File; it is not a Booker & Cash story, and it is not an Acer Sansom novel. It’s a departure from the stuff I usually write and it’s a one off i.e not the start of a new series.

Cold Kills is a snowy survival story. It’s an idea that grabbed me earlier this year. It’s  about 200 pages in paperback terms. I came back to it last week after 6 months away from it. The break was really useful. I’ve been working on it most days since and I’ll be tinkering with it for a while yet.

If I found myself sharing an elevator with Ridley Scott and he asked me to pitch Cold Kills  to him in one floor I’d say: The humour of The Martian. The haunting of The Grey. The horrors of The Silence of the Lambs. (And then go back to cleaning his boots with my tongue.)

Cold Kills is a story based in the real world. By that I mean it’s not fantasy or science fiction – no vampires, paranormal activity, aliens, or magic. I know it won’t appeal to all of my readers in the same way that each one of the three series I’ve written to date doesn’t appeal to everyone. It was never more true than for a writer that you can’t please all the people all the time. So why try? I won’t stop writing different stuff and I can only hope that readers won’t stop giving my different stuff a try. You never know, you might like it better than anything else of mine you’ve read.

For a while I considered putting Cold Kills out under a pseudonym because it’s not in my usual line of writing country. And then I got over myself. Like I’m that effing famous! Ha! I wish. I like this story a lot. I want my name on the cover.

And here’s the blurb I’ll be using to promote the book: When a plane crash lands in the Alaskan wilderness the survivors must battle harsh elements, hostile geography, a hungry wolf pack and horrifying moral dilemmas if they are to live to be rescued.