To be a hybrid.

I am not a religious person. But I do love a good hymn. One of my favourites is ‘To Be a Pilgrim’ aka ‘He Who Would Valiant Be’. What a stonkingly rousing number. Stirring stuff. I’m adapting it for my campaign – ‘To Be a Hybrid’.

Since I started out on my journey as a CWAP a fair number of aims/targets/goals have come and gone. Some I’ve achieved; some I didn’t/haven’t yet; some I discarded. I have a new one. I feel quite strongly about it and have done for a while. It’s linked with one of my original core aims. I want to be a hybrid author. What does that mean? Possibly not what you’re thinking.

Before I even thought about writing I was a book collector. I love first editions. That’s my thing. I love the physical book in its first published state. I love everything about a real book. For me books are multi-sensory pleasures. The only sense in which a book doesn’t appeal to me is taste (as in food). This is based on my experiences of licking books – don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it, although be careful where you do – I got thrown out of Waterstones for running my tongue up the spine of a certain JK Rowling. (Book not author. But I’m up for it if she is.)

Among the things I love about first editions is seeing them displayed on a bookshelf, spine out, the gaily coloured dust-jackets with the (to me) all important publisher’s name standing out – a seal of industry approval. When I started writing that was one of the things that I wanted for my books – a dust-jacket with a proper publisher’s name on the spine. I still want it. (But I’d settle for paperbacks.)

It seems quite popular in self-publishing to activate the Print On Demand (POD) facility with Amazon. And why not? It’s a way to get your book into print. It’s a way for readers to find you, to appreciate you, to share you, to fund you. It’s another way for an author to spread the word about their work. I haven’t gone down the POD route yet. There are no physical copies of my books out there. I have probably hurt myself by choosing not to get involved with POD. I really do want to have physical copies of my books. But I really do not want to be the one who commissions them. I want my physical books to have a proper publisher’s name on the spine – not Createspace or blank. I’m not yet ready to strangle my own dreams.

Am I a snob about it? I think so. Is it a form a vanity? Undoubtedly. People can think what they like about my position and my personality. I don’t care and I’m not hurting anyone (except myself.)

It get’s worse.

I don’t just want to be traditionally published. I want my cake and I want to be allowed to eat it. I want to be a new kind of hybrid author. A ‘trindie’. It could become trendy. I could be the first trendy trindie. I want a traditional publisher to take control of my physical books but that’s all. I want to retain control of the digital and audio rights to my books. I’m sure there are those who know something of the way things are in publishing these days who now need to go and change their underpants because laughing long and hard can do that to you.

I’m sure there are dozens of reasons people could give me why this isn’t ever likely to happen. (Someone probably once told Neil Armstrong that he should stop dreaming.) I’m sticking behind the reasons that it could work. Everywhere you look in the book-selling industry people are saying that the players need to adapt to new opportunities and new ways of doing things. This is a new way and the only reason it couldn’t work is because people wouldn’t want it to. That’s all. I’m still hoping to find the forward-thinker who is open to something different.

A WHITE-KNUCKLE CHRISTMAS 1030 1Did I mention that A White-Knuckle Christmas (Romney and Marsh File #7) is out tomorrow? Yeah, I know – it’s the Easter weekend. What can I tell you? I can be unconventional.

Available from all good ebook retailers spelt like this Amazon.  Pre-order here Amazon UK and here Amazon US .

I have two weeks left in Turkey. Yesterday I hit 50,000 words of B&C#3. It will be touch and go whether I finish that before my bell tolls.

A Bookish Valentine’s Day…blog-post.




Say it with simit.

When I went to pick up the morning simit bread today the woman behind the counter popped this little gift into my bag. (I know it looks like a heart-shaped turd, but it’s bread.)

After I stopped panicking that I’d forgotten it was Valentine’s Day, it got me thinking about the occasion (and about how I could rescue myself from the promise of a bad day at home because of my forgetfulness). I could have presented my wife with the heart-shaped simit and pretended that I’d paid for it, but by the time the idea occurred to me on the walk home from the shop I’d already eaten it.


A flower in bloom, like first love, is beautiful to behold: fresh, fragrant, perfect. It is no surprise that they are chosen by many a romantic to give to the apple of their eye on Valentine’s Day. But… they wilt. They become ugly and smelly and depressing to look at. A metaphor for our chosen loved one, perhaps? Eventually, we can bear to put up with them no more and they are discarded, thrown away on life’s rubbish heap. It’s one of the reasons I don’t give flowers. (The other reason is, I’m tight.)


Chocolates! Mmmm… another safe staple for many a Romeo to fall back on and many a Juliet to get fat on. Remove the cellophane of the packet, lift the lid, inhale the trapped scents of long-sealed  c h o c o l a t e… it’s almost sexual, isn’t it? The box is full, virgin, unspoilt, unmolested, a treasure of tastes and torment, treats and truffles. But wait… chocolates get eaten, they disappear, soon they are all gone, there is nothing left… a bit like love, perhaps? And then, like love, it all turns to shit. Literally. That box of chocolate, that token of love is turned by your insides into poo. You squeeze it out and flush it away. A stinking mass of waste, again, literally. Gone. Forgotten. It’s one of the reasons I don’t give chocloates. (The other reason is, I’m tight.)

Flowers and chocolates: landfill and shit. What a waste in every sense of the word.

This is the speech I made to my wife this morning before she stopped speaking to me and threw something heavy in my direction. It was only half of my intended speech. She didn’t want to hear anymore. I don’t think that she could have over her sobbing behind the locked bathroom door.

Three Short Blasts  (Medium)The rest of it went like this. A book. Is there a more complete, more personal, longer lasting, more multi-sensory pleasure, more multi-layered gift that one civilised person can give to another with whom they experience feelings of deep and enduring love for than a book – new or old? I don’t think so. As well as all of the above a book is a present that can be opened again and again. That’s why I pre-ordered you, my sweet, a copy of my latest book Three Short Blasts.

Her response probably would have gone something like: It’s not even a real book. It’s a crappy electronic file. You only pre-ordered it to get your sales figures and your Amazon chart position up.

Despite marrying me, she’s not completely stupid.

For anyone out there looking for a late Valentine’s Day gift for the love of your life, here are pre-order links. Amazon UK Amazon US

And at £0.99 and $0.99 a copy you won’t find many cheaper presents out there. Say it with an electronic file.

Here’s the Amazon sales page blurb in case you need a little more convincing.

Three Short Blasts is a collection of three original stories that are not to be found anywhere else. There is one story in each of the three series that I write: The Romney and Marsh Files, Acer Sansom and Booker & Cash.

Going on industry standard word count, the three stories range from forty to sixty pages of a paperback novel in length – significantly longer than short stories but not quite novellas.

There’s also an introduction in the book where I explain the motivation behind it. You can skip that bit if you like and get straight into the reads, which I hope you will enjoy.


As regular followers of this blog will know, last Sunday Rope Enough (R&M File #1) was the subject of a book promotion excercise that saw it go to #1 in the Amazon free charts. That’s the chart for every single free book on Amazon. Quite amazing. I’m still trying to get my head around that. There must be thousands of free books on Amazon. Maybe tens of thousands. In its first twelve hours it was downloaded nearly 6000 times. I thought it would quickly drop back down the charts but it stayed at #1 for 24 hours (awesome) and then hung around in the top 10 for most of the week. A few thousand more downloads later and today it’s at #20. Still good and a great boost to the book and the R&M Files’ profile for a mere $50.

There have been some good knock-on sales for the other R&M Files. That’s what it was all about.

Hits on my blog were also up. Before the promotion I was averaging about 30 or 40 hits a day. All this week I’ve been averaging over 100 hits a day, presumably from downloaders of Rope Enough checking out my links. Great stuff! Lots of exposure.

Talking of the blog: a small milestone this week: I posted my 200th blog-post. By my calculations that’s quite a lot of CWAP.


We must be innovative and inventive and pioneering…

I’m only writing this blog-post because I feel the desperate need for some original thought, some new ground. I just must oil the old grey matter with my creative juices. All week I’ve been going over the first two R&M Files: reading, revising, touching up, interfering with, adjusting, tinkering – language, punctuation, grammar, structure, meaning… To be honest it’s not been a lot of fun. I just want to finish it. It’s become a chore. Two down and uploaded to Amazon with revised Amazon summaries. One to go.

It’s been a bit like how I would imagine Christmas would be if I rented a castle somewhere and invited all my immediate family to spend the week together. And they all came. And it snowed heavily. And we were snowbound. And the telly broke. And there were no books. And we ran out of booze. For a couple of days it would be great to meet them all again and catch up. By the end of the week, I could see it as a patsiche of The Shining, as imagined by Roman Polanski.

So, because there’s not much been going on with my writing life this week I’m going to fall back on something I put in the blog-post cupboard for a rainy day.

A couple of months ago I had what I thought was a good idea. I still think it’s a good idea. I think it’s a good idea for me, for my books, for readers and for a certain High Street retail outlet. (Of course, I’m biased.) Here it is.

Actually, maybe it would be best if I just copied and pasted the email I sent to James Daunt the CEO of Waterstones. What prompted me to send the email was that I’d seen an online article in which he’d been interviewed and banged the we must be innovative and inventive and pioneering if we are to survive drum. I thought that my business idea fitted the bill nicely. A win/win for everyone.

Buoyed with my naive and childish enthusiasm I typed.

Dear Mr Daunt

I am writing to you with a business proposition. Books are your business. Books are my business.

You will know as well as anyone how the High Street book-selling trade needs to find and embrace new initiatives in order to continue to survive and thrive. I believe I have such an initiative and I would be grateful for your consideration of it.

I am a successful self-published author. I sell my books exclusively through Amazon. Importantly, with regard to my business proposition, I only sell my books as digital files; no physical copy of any of my books has ever been printed.

My business proposition is this: let Waterstones partner me in bringing my books to their physical form.

My books have received many hundreds of favourable reviews and ratings on Amazon and Goodreads. (I do not use sock-puppet accounts neither do I pay for reviews. The reviews are genuine readers’ comments.) I write three series, the most popular of which is a British police-procedural series set in Dover, Kent. Currently, I have five books available in this series with another two on the way.

The main selling points, if you will, that I feel apply to my initiative are as follows and in no particular order.

1) Waterstones would have the exclusive rights to sell my physical books in any or all of its stores.

2) Because no publisher would be involved we can work together to create, print and promote my books without the interference of a third party.

3) Because no publisher would be involved the retail price of the books could be kept down while still maintaining the same profit margins.

4) I would work with Waterstones to promote my books at Waterstones stores.

5) Attention that a well publicised and highly original initiative such as this would garner could significantly benefit sales of the books, not to mention bring attention for Waterstones in other positive ways.

I would be very happy to discuss my proposal further should you so wish. I would like to emphasise that my books have proven themselves to be popular with a wide range of readers. You can find evidence of this at the web links below.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Kind regards

Oliver Tidy

That was over three months ago. There has been no response. I sent an email to his personal Waterstones email address and a general company one. I think it’s safe to say they are not interested in my kind of innovative thinking. (Or maybe they were and then read one of my books.)

Next week: how I signed a six-figure publishing deal with WHSmiths…

A Load of CWAP

On identity. Most of us want to belong to a group of some sort. We want to be part of a bigger body – social or business – with other like-minded souls. The reasons are myriad.

Since I have been self-publishing my books, I have given occasional thought to the group that I now consider myself belonging to: people who write crime fiction books and self-publish them.

One of the first and, arguably, most important early steps in the formation of a group is the label given to it. Catchy titles and clever acronyms abound.

I used to refer to myself as a self-publisher, but that seems out of vogue these days, and the term is oft tainted with something that will lead a lot of people to treat it and anyone who claims to be ‘it’ with disdain.

I recently moved on to referring to myself as an ‘indie’. But I find this term often needs explaining and clarification – people don’t always get it because it’s a bit vague. I realised I needed something different, something more precise, something accurate and unequivocal.

Sitting at breakfast in my local cafe this morning, I was struck with an idea. I think it must be a good one because it caused me to choke on my simit.

What am I? I am a crime writing author publisher. I am a CWAP.

What really tickled me about this epiphany was when my train of thought steamed ahead and took me to a place in the future where I am attending a festival dedicated to writers of crime fiction and who self-publish their work. (It will come. I hope I’m alive to see it. There are many brilliant self-published writers of crime fiction out there right now who could, given the right circumstances, come together to put on a festival that would be a serious contemporary for any of the others that take place across the UK. I have no doubt about that.)

But what really tickled me about this idea would be the hope that the label Crime Writing Author Publisher could be universally adopted by those involved. Our identity. Our social/professional group tag.

But what really, really, tickled me about this was the idea that the conference/festival could be called A Load of CWAP and that people would book and pay for tickets for A Load of CWAP. That posters and flyers and media articles would all be informing the public about A Load of CWAP.

Brothers and sisters let us join together. Let us stand as one united body. Lets each and every one of us be proud to be a CWAP.

Going back to my (R&M) roots.


Three Short Blasts  (Medium)

Just sharing the cover for the forthcoming short story collection. Another cover I really like. I’m excited about this project.

I dithered about writing a blog-post this week. Because time is really stacked against me for reaching my targets before my Turkey time is up. And I didn’t help myself this week by adding significantly to my workload. But the blog is important and it’s my writer’s diary. So here goes with a brief entry.

In no particular order:

This week I read a non-fiction book that I would recommend to anyone who is writing or thinking of writing. It’s called On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King. Great read. Entertaining, too. We think so much alike on so many aspects of writing, Steve and I. I now want to meet this guy and shake his hand. Awesome. (One thing we don’t agree on is listening to music while writing. SK says he listens to it; I can’t listen to music when I’m thinking and trying to write, not even classical. I can’t work with the distraction.)

Unhappy Families is still doing well. And it’s had over fifty reviews/comments on Amazon UK already. It’s not been out a month yet. Thanks to all involved anywhere with making this book a success.

Last Monday I started a writing job I’ve been putting off and putting off for over a year. And now I’m on it. Feelings-wise it’s been a mixed bag for me. Some good, some bad. I’m performing edits and overhauls of the first three R&M Files. It’s needed doing. And I’m doing it. But it’s going to take going on a month out of the time I’ve got left here.

I’ve been through Rope Enough twice, already. I’ve changed some stuff in line with general reader feeling for aspects of that read. There were two things in particular that I’ve had more negative feedback concerning than anything else: Romney’s apparent misogyny and the sex. I’ve addressed both. Toned one down and been less explicit on the other. Why? Because I’ve come to realise that these aspects of the book did not appeal to a certain reader demographic and the last thing I should be doing is putting people off my writing when what’s putting them off isn’t essential to the book or my writing or how I feel about my writing. I’ve written before that Rope Enough has always felt like a bit of a cuckoo in the Romney and Marsh Files’ nest. I feel less so about it now. That makes me happy. (Don’t worry: Romney is still Romney.) (On Romney – this week a reader got in touch and mentioned that Martin Shaw the actor would have made a good Romney. In his day I think he could have been perfect. Too old now. He’s seventy!!!!!!)

Romney remains stiff towards Marsh in book one but from book two he is now calling her Joy and not Sergeant Marsh all the time, which has been embarrassing to read. In fact first names are being used a lot more now (but not Romney’s. He remains ‘sir’ to his subordinates or ‘guv’. That’s the way that it is.) And in books one and two I kept referring to Romney as ‘the DI’ (it seems so… TV show cop-drama). Dumb and cringeworthy. He’s now just Romney. Romney, Romney, Romney. And why, oh, why, in Rope Enough did I keep referring to CID as ‘the squad room’? (Hot flush creeps up neck.)

I’ve been embarrassed by other things in these read-throughs. (A reason I’ve been putting it off. I knew I would.) To cut a long, self-critical story short, let’s just say that I feel I’ve improved quite a bit as a writer over the few years I’ve been at it. I needed to. Looking back at these early texts I’ve been spotting all sorts of mistakes: grammar, language, sense, punctuation, structure, tense… get the picture? (Not spelling because readers helped me a lot with those errors and I fixed those a while back.)

I gave myself a crash course in the use of commas before I got going. (Better late than never.) I’ve got the six main rules on Post-its above my desk. Applying those rules as best as I can over these three books is proving quite an intense, concentrated and educational exercise. But I’ll tell you what: knowing something about commas makes you look at your writing differently. Understanding a comma rule can unlock vision in sentence structure, for example. I’ve changed a number of sentences about to make them better in several regards, simply because I understood them better because of my new knowledge and insight. (I know what I’m talking about and that’s what matters.)

I’ve also increased the number of chapters in each of the books and cut down on the word count. Example: Rope Enough was 80,000 words. It’s now just under 77,000 words. (That wasn’t all Romney being horrible about women and having sex.) It was 16 chapters. It’s now 46! (Shorter chapter length, like shorter senence length, gives an idea of increased pace. It works.)

I’m still working on the other two books Making a Killing and Joint Enterprise but they are following similar patterns.

The positives? Despite doing a lot of cringing and tutting and punching myself in the face from time to time, I get one thing about these books that has pleased me. They are each good stories. I’m basically enjoying reading them again – getting back to my Romney and Marsh roots. I think that a yardstick of my reflected feelings is that even with all the English errors, and misogyny and objectionable explicit sex and overlong chapters and wooly sentences in Rope Enough it’s still had a lot of good reviews and ratings.

I strongly believe I’m making these books better reads.

One of the two reasons that I’ve never commissioned print on demand books for the R&M Files is because I’ve always known that the early ones needed work. Probably still do. I’m so glad I hung on. I’d feel particularly bad if I thought that there were physical copies of these books out there with all these errors in that could never be changed. I’d be hunting them down and burning them. The beauty of epublishing is that you can change your work every day if you want to and then readers can simply upload the updated version if they choose to. (I think.)

I haven’t uploaded any revised versions yet. I’m going to finish doing all three books and then read them all again back-to-back. Then I’ll upload. I’ve also got to update front and back matter and blurbs for all of my books with links and stuff. I want them all to be as good (make that correct) as I can make them before I push off ‘cos when I get back to the UK I don’t know where I’m going to find the time to write and do all of this shizzle.

Oh yeah, something that is really cheesing me off at the moment is my aging laptop. I think it’s ill. When I’m halfway through typing a sentence it keeps changing lines so that half the sentence is on the right line and half of it is in the middle of a line up the page. Lots of messing around and frustration with that. I’m saving for a new one.

Finally, apologies for all the spelling, punctuation and other errors in this post. I’m in a rush.

Eleven weeks and counting! Holy crap.!

Opportunity knocks.


This week I have been working on Three Short Blasts my collection of three short stories – one in each of my three series that I will put out in one book. I really like them all. I’m pretty excited about my little project. I also think that I’m about as happy as I can be technically with each of them. I think they are about ready to go down the line.

With Three Short Blasts put to one side I felt it was time for another look at A White-Knuckle Christmas (Romney and Marsh File #7). After another read through and a few small alterations I can see that I’ll soon be ready to hand this one over to my gentleman friend too. One more read through should do it but I need a week or two away from it before that.

Then I went back to Booker & Cash #3 to familiarise myself with the story so far and give thought to where it can go. Just as I was getting into a B&C frame of mind I got sidetracked with something I saw on my Amazon author page.

Anyone heard of Kindle Scout? I hadn’t. I know about it now though having spent a couple of hours reading up on it and checking out what others had to say about it on independent websites.

Kindle Scout has been going for a while in the US. Late in 2015 Amazon introduced it to the UK. What it boils down to in Amazon’s words is this:

Kindle Scout is reader-powered publishing for new, never-before-published books. It’s a place where readers help decide if a book gets published. Selected books will be published by Kindle Press and receive 5-year renewable terms, a $1,500 advance, 50% eBook royalty rate, easy rights reversions and featured Amazon marketing.

To see more about Kindle Scout click the link. Please have a look. It’s very reader friendly.

I’m a bit excited about Kindle Scout and the possibilities that getting chosen could bring to my writing. I’m not fixated on that advance. I’m looking at the bigger picture that would come with being selected by Kindle Scout and when I look at the bigger picture this is what I see:

1) An Amazon interest in the writing, which means Amazon promoting and helping to sell books. It’s what they do best.

2) Amazon say it’s OK to submit a book in a series, just so long as it’s never been made for sale anywhere else.

It so happens that I have a book coming back to me in the not too distant future from my gentleman friend. It’s a book that meets all the criteria of the submissions page for Amazon Scout. It’s the fourth book in my Acer Sansom series. I think it’s pretty good. I certainly think that the first five-thousand words that can be read as a sample are good enough to encourage readers who like the genre to consider voting for it. I’m seriously thinking about submitting it.

It’s an opportunity. And I realise that I must pursue them. Sales of the Acer books stagnated a long time ago. Probably my own fault. I haven’t done any promotional work yet. If, I say if, Deep State Acer #4 were selected for the Kindle Scout programme then it could potentially bring significant attention in the form of sales to the other Acer books. That would be great news for me the writer.

I quite like the look of the process for Kindle Scout. It’s all over in forty-five days, so not too tortuous for all concerned. I can see how it could be open to abuse though. All a vote takes is someone with an Amazon account to click a button. If a participant has access to thousands of qualifying ‘supporters’ who can be encouraged to click the link then that’s what will count at tallying up time.

I’m seriously considering entering Acer #4 and then hounding the hell out of everyone I know on social-media to vote for it. What do you think?

I will take a quick paragraph here to say that I know there are a few readers who are eagerly anticipating the next Acer and if I enter it in the Kindle Scout programme that will naturally delay publication. I wouldn’t enjoy disappointing those of you who are looking forward to the next installment. I wouldn’t want you to think I would take the decision to enter the book in Kindle Scout lightly, because I don’t give a stuff for your feelings. You know I do. But I would hope that you would approve of my decision and offer your support. (If I’m unsuccessful then the delay is only forty-five days. If I was to be successful and you had voted for the book you would get a free copy from Amazon in thanks!)

Anyway. Still thinking about it. I mean that most sincerely folks! (You didn’t really think I could have a picture of Hughie Green up there and not use his catchphrase, did you?)