My ‘author year’.

Writer’s diary: stardate: 26.06.2014

Less than two years into my self-publishing adventure, and already I have established my ‘author year’. And why not? Other walks of life have the calendar year, the financial year, the fiscal year, the budget year, the sporting year and the academic year, for examples.

My ‘author year’ runs from September 1st to June 31st. Because I said so. And I’m in charge. Decisions have to be made and the buck stops with me.

First week of July we are heading back to the UK for the summer for the holidays. And if the weather can manage what we had last summer it will be another wonderful break, I’m sure. If you have never been to Dymchurch beach on a fine summer’s day you’ve missed something special.

In the UK my home is a two minute walk from the beach. Perfect for my three year old boy to commute to and play safely on.

Here is a snap from last year if you don’t believe me. (It’s worth clicking on it for the full-screen effect.)

Halcyon days in The Children's Paradise.

Halcyon days in The Children’s Paradise.

I won’t be hauling my laptop with me because that might tempt me to try to find time and space to write. I want to write. I love writing. I will miss writing. But I also want to enjoy my holiday with my family. If I take my laptop there will be a temptation and I don’t want the conflict to threaten my family holiday. Don’t forget I also have a day job; I need a break from everything, too. (There is no regular Internet connection for me back home, but I’ll try to keep up with correspondence on my trips with the ipad to Wi-Fi zones.)

I anticipate doing a lot of reading. There is a charity bookshop in Dymchurch which always has shelves of good and reasonably priced paperbacks for sale. How I’ve missed browsing bookshops. I anticipate long mornings reclining on the golden sands in The Children’s Paradise under the sea wall enjoying the sun and a good ‘real’ book while my son amuses himself on the beach.

This last ‘author year’ I self-published two books. Bad Sons and A Dog’s Life. I’ve also written the third in my Acer Sansom series, Smoke & Mirrors. I won’t get that out now until I return to Istanbul. It would have been good to, but it’s not ready, it needed extra work and still needs more. One of the great things about being a self-publisher is that there are no deadlines. When it’s ready and I’m happy, I’ll click publish. My apologies to any who were perhaps looking forward to this title for a summer read, but I’m sure you understand.

I’ve made a good start on the second B&C but I’m going to have to shelve it until I return. I had hopes of at least finishing the first draft before we head home but I forgot to factor in the World Cup to my ‘author year’. Watching three matches a night in my time zone is taking its toll on my creativity and energy. Again, it’s a choice and one I’m happy to make.

My realistic predictions for the next ‘author year’ are not particularly encouraging, but it’s best to face up to them and get used to them rather than live in denial. That won’t be helpful, and life can be tough enough without creating additional pressures for oneself.

I start at a new school in September. I’ve walked to work for the last five years and that’s been worth its weight in gold to me as an author and a human being. The new job is an hour’s commute away…by bus. The fact that I’ve done that to my working day is a reflection of how bitterly disappointed I have been with the new administration at my ‘old’ school this year. I’m leaving behind some wonderful colleagues and brilliant students. I’m also leaving behind a position and routine that provided me the opportunity to find time to write. I don’t anticipate that at my new school I’ll find half the time I had here.

Those familiar with this blog will know that I started writing when I came to Turkey five years ago. I’ve written eight books while I’ve been working at this school. (Not during lessons, of course, I mean in my time here.) I can still remember banging away on the first Acer Sansom – the first book I wrote – on the school computer, which kept crashing, in the old staffroom in my free periods. Before I started carrying my laptop to school every day I was always trying to find a computer that worked to practice my hobby. There probably isn’t a computer here that doesn’t have a chapter or two of something I’ve written on its hard-drive. I feel quite nostalgic about the technology here, which is quite appropriate seeing as most of it is from another age.

On top of my new working life, my son is growing up – he was three this week – and becoming  more demanding. Like Elton sang about Mars, Istanbul is not a place to raise your kids. We live in an apartment, which, like most apartment blocks in Istanbul has no play area or garden to speak of. The nearest park to us is a twenty minute speed-walk away. My usual routine is to come in from work, put his reins on him and go there for an hour or two each evening after school. (Coming from a rural area, I can’t bear to think of him not having the space and opportunity for outside play in his day.) This coupled with my new commute, I can see myself getting less time to write at home in the evenings and weekends. I won’t ignore my parental responsibilities with him just so that I can write. I wouldn’t want to. It’s a choice I’m happy to make.

This will be my last blog-post for the ‘year’. That’s something else I won’t be killing myself over while on holiday.

I’d like to take this seasonal opportunity to offer my sincere and heartfelt thanks and appreciation to all my readers for their interest, downloads and support of my writing. It’s worth repeating: writers are nothing without readers. I’d also like to say a public and huge thank you to Martin, my gentleman friend, who has worked with me on the Acer books, the fourth R&M and the B&C. Through his diligent proofreading and editorial suggestions my writing has achieved a much more polished and professional finish – absolutely necessary as a self-publisher if one is to continue to attract readers and maintain their interest.

Have a great summer everyone and I look forward to further communication with you all next ‘year.’

Amazon: love me, love me not.

 

Writer’s diary: 29.05.2015

I tried something a couple of weeks ago to boost flagging download figures for my free book, Rope Enough. It didn’t work and it added further weight to my already strong feeling that the only way for an author like me to increase download figures is if Amazon loves me. And there’s not really a lot I can do about that. (Other than continue to send them flowers, chocolates and pictures of me in the shower…maybe that’s where I’m going wrong.) So unless you’re with Amazon’s own publishing company, Thomas & Mercer – where you are guaranteed an unfair advantage in the publicity stakes (allegedly) or you’re already a household name as opposed to something to be whispered in the garden shed – it’s all down to luck regarding whether you get on the kinds of lists that can lead to an increase in numbers of downloads. Or maybe it’s not. I’m open to argument/enlightenment on that.

After not bothering too much with Twitter other than to tweet announcements of my weekly blog-posts and retweet the odd thing, I thought I’d try tweeting loads of Twitter outlets that exist to promote free-giveaways with news of my…er… free-giveaway. Several of them were decent enough to retweet to their, literally, tens of thousands of followers my message and the .com or .co.uk link to the book, and I didn’t see any difference in download figures. I know that the reliability and validity of this ‘experiment’ is questionable. I was after a snap-shot indication. I think I got one, but I’m open to argument/enlightenment on that.

Probably you’ve got to do that sort of thing over and over again, week after week. But who really reads all those tweets and retweets for authors’ books? I don’t. Do you? And even if I do, I don’t go and download them. It’s verging on policy to ignore them out of spite for the brazen self-promotion. Does anyone other than Katie Price enjoy having things rammed down their throat?

OK, sure you have to let readers know. I’m talking about overkill. Perhaps, I’m missing the point. Perhaps, my download figures are the embodiment of my lack of engagement with that sort of thing. (Hey! maybe that’s why no one downloaded my book after my twitter ‘storm’ – too many people think like I do.) Does that make me a self-fulfilling prophecy, or simply a moaning old git? I’m open to argument/enlightenment on that. (But not from my children or ex-spouses. It gets boring after a while, guys.)

I don’t know. I’m just guessing. I think the list you really want to be on is Amazon’s recommendation list. The one where Amazon recommends your book/s to prospective readers who’ve enjoyed others in the genre you write in. It strikes me as a Catch-22 situation: you can’t get really decent download figures if you’re not on that list and you can’t get on that list if you’re not getting really great download figures. Or unless Amazon wants a fling with you. I’m open to argument/enlightenment on that.

Amazon had the self-publisher’s equivalent of a brief encounter with me, I think. (Of course, I don’t know, but it felt like that – a bit superficial, a bit meaningless. Like I’d been chatted up at the bar, been used, abused and cast aside like a soiled conquest.) Why am I even talking like that? I had a great time, too. But Amazon seems to have lost interest in me these days. Amazon won’t make eye contact with me anymore at work. Amazon avoids me in the dinner hall. Amazon turns around and walks the other way when it sees me in the corridors.

Since being reborn as a self-publisher, I’ve been weaned on the idea that social networking is the way to promote yourself and to turn yourself into an C-list author in terms of download figures. There must be something in it. But I haven’t got the time or energy to divert to it and, as I said up there, I honestly believe that the whim of Amazon, like the grace and favour of a powerful monarch, is what counts. The age old story of who you know. I’m open to argument/enlightenment on that.

After all that navel-gazing, I’d like to sign off this week with a funny story, to share one thing on my own writing front. It gave me, and probably my friend, a good laugh. I sent Acer #3 to my ‘gentleman friend’ for a perusal before I get too busy with it. Just looking for some feedback from a trusted, objective source. One thing he highlighted for attention was this sentence: Then he went back to his seat at the window and watched the dessert go by as the sun went down. That was two days ago and I’m still chuckling.

The Moyes Effect. (Think butterflies without wings.)

 

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:

http://www.selfpublishingadvice.org/self-publishers-use-amazon-categories-to-drive-more-sales-50-ways-to-reach-your-reader-10/

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.

TIME OUT:

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).

Screen shot rope enough number 1 amazon us pp

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

The Price is Slight!

Writer’s diary: stardate: 28.02.2014

In January of this year I aligned the prices of my books to £1.99 each. A brave step? An arrogant leap? A hopeful bound? A foolish jump (to be quickly followed by a plunge into oblivion)?

When I first introduced my brood to the world I went into the market place like 633 Squadron (look what happened to them: crashed and burned, shot to bits, disappeared without trace, forgotten, bright young lives cut short. Ok, perhaps, the implied comparison is a little…dramatic? But I had to wonder: would that be me? Anyone craving a shot of classic British war film, nostalgic, iconic, movie soundtrack, click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GRVu18h2mfA – give it twenty seconds). Where was I? Oh yeah, low and fast all guns blazing, and screaming manically (one of the neighbours called the police). In equal measure, I was brimming with confidence at my invincibility, mumbling to a god I can’t believe in, shitting in my flying pants in case I’d got my approach all wrong, it went tits up, and I was spread all over the ebook battlefield like the contents of a jar of Robertson’s finest conserve.

I am a keen observer of the charts (every morning I spring out of my basket beside the bed [the bed I have been displaced from; the bed I used to get half a good night’s sleep in before the Halfling decided he’d outgrown his crib and wanted to move up the wooden hill and Bedfordshire’s property ladder to something a little ‘roomier’] skip to the computer while the house slumbers on, and with heart thumping like a hopeful Lotto ticket holder checking last week’s numbers after having been shit on by a bird in the street [that’s supposed to be good luck. The world is full of loonies.] I check my position in the only chart that really matters – Books>Kindle Books>Fiction>Crime, Mystery, Thrillers>British>England>Kent>Romney Marsh>Police Procedural>Contemporary>Silly Detectives’ Names. In short, I like to see how the books are doing.

When my books first went onto Amazon I priced them as cheaply as I could, as cheaply as Amazon would allow. For those of you who don’t know, the cheapest that Amazon will allow one to list a book is the British pound equivalent of $0.99, which back then was £0.77. The only way I know of that one can get one’s book’s price lower than that is to have one’s books listed as cheaper to purchase through other recognised ebook outlets and then for Amazon to be informed of such and then for Amazon to feel like matching that price.

In my initial desperation to get my books read, I gave them away for free through Smashwords. All three of the R&M Files could be had for nothing. Like I said, and I do think it’s worth repeating, I was desperate just to be read, to get some reaction.

In time Amazon price matched Rope Enough to £0.00 and that was my wake-up call to form a marketing strategy. I’d had some positive feedback, some helpful criticism and some encouraging comments. I dropped the second and third books from Smashwords (living outside the UK and the US and without a credit card I was unable to set up a payment system) and as I was giving away my first I then took a leaf out of other self-publishers books (sorry) and introduced an incremental purchase price scheme – first book free, second book, £1.50, third book £2.

Next out were my two Acer Sansom novels. Again I thought that the best chance I had of getting these read, getting some feedback and getting them into those all important charts was to make them available to download for the cheapest price I could: £0.77 again. That worked. I had a good number of downloads and the books were visible in a couple of obscure charts.

Then I brought out Bad Sons and I felt it was time for change.

I’ve been self-publishing for a little over a year and my opinion on pricing has changed (I want to say matured but I’m not sure that’s quite right). When I was new and unknown, I felt I had to do something special to attract readers to my books. And it’s my belief that the best way to do that is good covers and cheap prices. If I had to choose between the two, I’d say cheap price is the single most important factor in encouraging a prospective reader to click download.

A year on and I don’t feel quite so unknown (I’m still not remotely well-known but I do have a foot [OK maybe a pointed-winkle-picker-toe-cap] in the door that opens out onto the promised land of ebook  world. I don’t feel so desperate. I no longer feel the need to (yes, it’s time for something rude) offer myself to the customer like some backstreet harlot, spread on her filthy, stained mattress under a plastic awning while people line up round the block to exploit my talent. To continue the analogy, I’ve not decided to install myself in a suite of rooms in The Ritz either: there are some ebooks being touted for over a tenner (for a computer file hahahaha) and they’re in the charts. That’s high class hooking.

When I think of myself as a prostitute (not something I often do, I hasten to add, but I seem to have caught my stiletto in the fishnet stocking of this extended metaphor) I prefer to think of myself as having my own room in a quiet and respectable part of the neighbourhood. I think I’m charging a fair price for a fair service/product. I like to think I’ve gone up in the world. Gone are the days of £0.77 knee-tremblers in darkened recesses at kicking out time. I’ve made myself a little more dignified. Perhaps, I’ve also given myself a few airs and graces.

All this brings me nicely onto that time worn topic of conversation: what is a fair price for an ebook? Think of everything that goes into an ebook, the promise behind that thumbnail image stuck on the screen in front of readers like some obscure stamp in a philately catalogue. Hard work: months of time, effort, consternation, desperation, late nights, early mornings, sacrifices (I’ve gone through a number white chickens), intellectual property sharing, blood, sweat and tears. Money: the price of a good cover, editorial services, maybe the services of a publicist, a website and a website designer.

What does an ebook offer a reader? Escapism, entertainment, an opportunity to get in touch with their emotions, a laugh, a cry, some learning, some diversion, something to do.

What else will £1.99 buy you? Half a pint of lager in a pub; a cheap coffee in Starbucks, a BLT sandwich from a high street name; a pack of three own brand condoms; half a dozen free range eggs; a King of the Day Burger (T&C apply); 6 pints of semi-skimmed milk or a 200g tin of corned beef, for examples.

And then there’s the lasting effect dynamic of whatever one is spending one’s hard-earned two quid on to factor in to the equation. The memory of a good book will stay with a reader long after he or she has pissed out the beverage, pooped out the sarny, beaten the eggs or choked on the bully beef. Granted a pack of three can also provide escapism, entertainment, an opportunity to get in touch with one’s emotions, a laugh, a cry, some learning, some diversion, something to do, but you’ve got to put some effort in, you can’t just lie back and enjoy it like you can an ebook…actually…anyway, where was I? And in my experience it costs a lot more than the price of a condom to get to the position in a relationship where it can fulfil its intended purpose and then there’s often a hell of a price to pay afterwards: hidden costs. Those cut price condoms have cost me two houses already! I should have just bought a couple of ebooks. (Sorry. It is a bit funny.)

An ebook that sells for £0.77 on Amazon nets the author @ £0.27 – four downloads to make a pound. That no longer seems right to me. I think we’re all entitled to look for something a bit ‘fairer’ than that for what we do, for what we’ve put in. Time will tell whether that decision has been the right one for my books. Initial evidence shows that what shoving the price up has done is push me to the arse end of those all important download charts. Still at least I only have to sell one book to make a pound these days instead of four. Swings and roundabouts.

So, what do you think? Will you come on down(load) ‘cos the price is right! (Did anyone groan at that?)

A brief encounter with my annus mirabilis.

Writer’s diary: stardate: 03.01.2014

It seems like only last week was last year.

It appears to be something of a custom in the blogosphere at this time of year for bloggers to look back on their previous annus (sorry to disappoint my legions of mucky-thoughted followers – no more bum jokes): reflect, sum things up and make lists. I have decided not to subject anyone to that other than to say…

What an amazing year it’s been for me as an author-publisher! I’ve had a positively annus mirabilis. (Sounds uncomfortable, I know, but I’m assured it means something good.) It was December 2012 – just twelve short months ago – that I uploaded my first book to Amazon. I now have five on there and two finished and in the editing pipeline.

Like the famous Mrs Pig of traditional story fame I sent my three little pigs (my three R&M Files) out into the big wide world to fend for themselves. They have managed to support themselves, garner some appreciation and even send a little cash back home to papa like all dutiful absent children should. (The fruit of my loins could do with reading that. In my opinion they have completely the wrong idea about which way money should be travelling in the parent/offspring relationship.)

Generally, the five books (three R&Ms and two Acer Sansoms) have been well received. Comments are overwhelmingly (in both senses of the word) positive and encouraging. I’ve had a few duffers, of course, but you can’t please all the people all the time.  (That’s one of the top five things I’ve learned to accept this year.)

In the books, on the blog and on my Amazon author page I asked readers, who wouldn’t mind doing so, to point out any errors that they came across. (Another thing in my top five of things learned the hard way: the services of a proofreader are essential to any aspiring author.) Readers have been wonderfully helpful and constructive. A huge thank you to all of you who participated and helped me. For the record I am now ‘fixing’ all the errors highlighted. Rope Enough is done. Making a Killing is halfway there. I want to put all the new versions on together before I submit another book.

I’ve been an active social networker. I’ve blogged once a week. I find Twitter and the rest of it a bit dull in comparison. One thing I do have to work on is some proper and effective self-promotion. (Another of this year’s critical lessons. See below.)

I’ve worked bloody hard. I’m always working at something to do with the books. It’s like a second job in nature, only more enjoyable. You’ve got to love it or you’re screwed as an author-publisher.

I started out craving a traditional publishing deal, like a fat person craves cake. I wanted to be ‘discovered’, coaxed, fed from the palm of a kindly literary agent and tamed as a raw talent. Nurtured, pandered to and cultivated. It would still be nice but I’m more realistic about things these days. I’m also more appreciative of the whole self-publishing deal. Self-publishing is not the sad and desperate last throw of the dice by sad and desperate writers. It’s liberating and empowering and it’s also quite groovy.

I’m looking forward to 2014.

So, because I’m in danger of boring myself, on to the top five things learned this year in no particular order:

1) The services of a decent proofreader are essential.

2) You can’t please all the people all the time, so stop worrying about duff reviews. (unless you are getting loads, of course, and then there is probably something wrong with your work).

3) Writing something half-decent is only half of it. In order to maximise success an author-publisher must wear many hats and often. One has to get stuck into self-promotion in a big way if one wants to be big. You don’t even have to be a great writer, it appears. If you are the type of person who can sell snow to Eskimos, write a turd of a book, sprinkle some glitter on it (ie splash out on a great cover) and get promoting.

4) It’s all about commitment. One must have a driving passion for being an author-publisher. Being an author-publisher is like having a second full-time job. Because one must write, correspond, write, promote, write, network often – daily ideally. I know I’m cut out for this life because I enjoy all aspects of the ‘job’.

5) Don’t stop dreaming about success and believing in your ability to experience it. But keep a lid on it. I am reminded of a line in an oft misquoted poem…If you can dream – and not make dreams your master…

Oh, look, I had a summing up and made a list after all.

Finally, two really good blog-posts I would like to share. If you are in involved in writing and self-publishing in any way, shape or form they are worth looking at. One from the legendary Joe Konrath is the practical one and one from a guy who I envy, admire and hate in equal measure, James Oswald, is there to feed the dreams. He is living the dream – my dream. I shouldn’t resent him for it and I don’t, really. Much. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: bloody good luck to the man.

http://jakonrath.blogspot.co.uk/2013/12/konraths-publishing-predictions-2014.html

http://jamesoswald.co.uk/?tag=2013

This time last year I was a self-publishing nobody. And now I’m a couple of rungs up the ladder. It looks like a big ladder. I can’t see the top. There are people climbing over me in a frantic rush. There are people above me losing their grip to plummet to Earth. My knuckles are white and my knees are strong. I’m pacing myself. Upward and onward. I’d like to lead everyone in a couple of verses of that traditional yuletide ditty, What the Fuck by the seasonally appropriately named Sak Noel.  (Does anyone know if that translates to Santa’s scotum?) The title, at least, totally sums up my surprise at the way things went for me in 2013.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sBlY53fgN-k

­Talking of poetry, here is a less well known verse than last week’s but no less meaningful for all that. It’s certainly appropriate.

Annus Mirabilis not by Philip Larkin

Self-publishing began
In twenty, nine plus three
(which was rather late for me) –
Between the end of middle age
And my impending RIP.

Up to then there’d only been
A sort of wistful scribbling,
A writing for the fun of it,
A shame that started at fifty
And not before.

Then all at once the penny dropped:
Everyone felt the same,
We sold our souls to Amazon
A brilliant breaking of the bank,
A quite unlosable game.

I dream life will be better than
In twenty, ten plus three
(And not too late for me) –
Between the end of middle age
And my impending obituary.

You can see the original here

http://www.wussu.com/poems/plam.htm

Happy New Year and sincere thanks to everyone who has supported me.

Time Files.

Rope Enough Final JPEG 1205

Writer’s diary: Stardate: 13.12 2013

It’s now been a year since the self-publication of Rope Enough (The First Romney and Marsh File). How time flies. Rope Enough is the first book I self-published and as such was the start of something rather important to me. I feel I should really mark the occasion with a blog-post. So guess what?

When I wrote the book I had no plans to write a series of police procedural novels. I actually got the basic idea from Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train. I find it quite incredible that in over four hundred and fifty comments on Amazon for this title only one reader has mentioned that they saw a connection to the film.

Until I figured out how to get Amazon to list the book for free I had it priced at 75p. This was the lowest price I could list it at. (Something to do with the dollar. Isn’t it always?) In the first month of publication I shifted six copies and felt chuffed. In January I sold eleven copies and felt disappointed. In February, eight and felt miserable. In March, eighty four and felt encouraged. In April, over twenty four thousand and felt several contending emotions: gutted that they were all free downloads, awfully excited that so many people might end up reading me, staggered at the figures.

It was at the beginning of April that Amazon price matched the book to zero because someone had told them it was free with B&N and Sony and ibooks. Better late than never. Ever since then it’s been mostly free and it’s been downloaded over eighty thousand times. As a freebie it got into the top twenty of the Amazon free books chart. That was amazing. Since it went back to having a price (77p) it’s always been in the police procedural for sale chart. At the time of writing it’s number fifty-seven. I don’t feel that I really cracked Amazon with it yet. But one day when I get my self-promotion into gear I hope for better things. There must still be millions of Kindles with room on them for Romney and Marsh.

Rope Enough has not made me rich but it’s got me read. It’s encouraged people to go onto to the others. And the knock on from all those downloads is that I’ve had some fairly healthy sales for the other two books in the series. I’ve also had some great communication with people. Generally the comments I’ve received by email, through Amazon and on the blog have been very encouraging.

I’m involved with doing an edit of the book at the moment. That effort has stuttered because I had an idea for another book and I’d always rather be writing something new than raking over old ground, even if it is important. Reading the book again for the first time in a year I don’t hate it. I actually quite like it. A few things have made me wince. Probably the greatest sin I committed was to have a minor character with two different first names. That was bad. Worse than the homophone mistakes and the ‘could of’ error.

I say the book went back to having a price. That’s because I made a mistake elsewhere and then had to withdraw the book from Smashwords and so it was no longer free around the web and so Amazon no longer felt obliged to price match it to zero. On the eighteenth of this month my KDP Select contract expires and so I will look again at relisting it on Smashwords so that I can once again have it price matched for free by Amazon. Having a free book is the best publicity for an unknown.

All in all a good year for Rope Enough. I’m happy with the way it’s gone. And it certainly has gone quickly.

PS Time Files is deliberate. I just know someone is going to call me on it.

Prime Time!

 

Writer’s diary: stardate: 21.11.2013.

Every now and again I write an entry in my writer’s diary that might interest someone other than me. Even more rarely I write a blog post that might be of interest to other writers hawking their output on Amazon or thinking about it. This could be one of them.

A little while ago I enrolled all of my books in Amazon’s KDP Select Programme. I noticed that other canny self-publishers with several books to their names had all of theirs available in this way. Working on the twin principles of, if-it’s-good-enough-for-him-it’s-good-enough-for-me and there must be something in it, I belly-flopped in.

As part of this initiative paid up, card carrying members of Amazon’s Kindle Owners’ Lending Library have the opportunity to borrow books for free. The monetary benefit to the author is that every recorded download entitles one to a share of the monthly global fund! I’ve seen others complaining that this big Amazon incentive is not as potentially profitable as one might think. (By the time the global fund of maybe a million dollars or thereabouts is split between a few hundred thousand downloads of a few hundred thousand author’s books the dividend per book is not worth much.) But still, as an indie-desperado I’ll try any gimmick that might raise the profile and readership numbers of my books. Even giving away my books for free.

This month I scrutinized my Amazon royalty payment schedule a little closer than normal and I was pleasantly surprised. I’ve had a few downloads of my books through the Prime programme. When I sell one of my 77p books through Amazon in the normal way I receive 25p profit. According to my remittance advice for last month, every time a Kindle Owners’ Lending Library member downloaded one of these same books I received £1.56 – six times what I get for a normal sale. That was a surprise.

It made me think of the people I’ve seen moaning about the money involved. Probably they are the writers who are selling their books for a few quid each in the normal way and therefore making a few quid per download. £1.56 would seem rubbish to them. But to me, every download is another can of Special Brew. Cheers!

You remembered!

 

Writer’s Blog: Stardate: 03.10.2013

This week I had an unusual icon appear on my blog’s message notification bar. On further investigation I discovered a note from WordPress saying: Happy Anniversary with WordPress.com. Has it really been a year? I asked myself. Yes, it has. Sixty seven blog posts (not including this one) which, for those readers with something of a mental blockage where mathematical equations are concerned, is an average of over one a week. (1.288461538 and lots of other digits that I can’t be bothered to type to be precise). So what? I hear shouted from cyber space. So what? It’s a milestone, that’s what.

My Acer Sansom books have been on Amazon for just over three weeks now – how time flies. It seems like only yesterday I was anxiously fumbling with the keyboard, like some green midwife delivering her first baby, trying to make sure I brought my twins into the world without a hitch. I wonder if any other self-publisher gives themselves a really pulse-racing, heart-thumping time over putting books on Amazon (Is that the right file? Is it the right edition of the right book? Did I choose the right image for the cover? What the hell does DRM mean and is it important to me? Should I click the box to be on the safe side?)

At time of typing, both books are doing reasonably well: Dirty Business is sitting at number twenty-nine in the Kindle Store>Books>Fiction>Action Adventure chart and Loose Ends is at number forty-nine. Encouraging. It really is something special to see one’s book in a chart sandwiched between Patricia Cornwell and Robert Harris, even if they are charging pounds for theirs and mine is virtually being given away. Incidentally, it’s worth mentioning that I started out with Dirty Business in the thriller category but when I saw that Loose Ends had made it into a chart I enrolled Dirty Business in the same chart to get more exposure. It’s all about exposure as Cartier-Bresson used to quip. I’ve had a couple of good comments on both books, too.

One thing I can report to myself this week with the confidence of statistical evidence to back me up is that the Romney and Marsh Files are selling quite well since the promotion day I had a week or so ago. (That’s always going to be a relative thing and I mean relative to recent sales not some blockbuster by Dan Brownstain.) Both books that I’m charging for have lurched back up the police procedural charts with all the elegance and grace of DC Grimes in hot foot-pursuit of a Dover toe-rag. Making a Killing was knocking on the door of the top twenty for a couple of days. However, no one answered and the door remains firmly shut.

I’m nearly fifty-thousand words into the fourth Romney and Marsh title. When I can find the time and the energy to have a good crack at it it moves along well, I think. But work and life are proving particularly demanding at the moment and time is just what I seem to have too little of. That and energy. I think I’m getting old. Crap.

It’s not easy writing a book, you know, when you’ve got a full-time job and other calls on your time. The further you get into it, the more you must keep on top of it. Leave it for a couple of days and you’re going to start forgetting stuff, losing threads. And then you’re going to have to have a big re-read-refresher, which can get quite annoying after a couple. Keeping notes just isn’t the same, I find. Writing is all about the mood. And all I’m in the mood for right now is bed and a good book.

Goodnight.

PS ‘Life is full of mysteries, and whether you’re working with a traditional publisher or you are an artisanal publisher (a.k.a., “self-publisher”), the potency of your marketing platform can determine your success.’ Guy Kawasaki, Advisor at Motorola Mobility. (I prefer self-publisher, thanks, Guy. I don’t find much to commend the term ‘artisanal’ for something I’m making my life’s work.)

The price of free publicity.

 

Writer’s blog: Stardate: 26.09.2013

Tuesday

Last Friday I decided, pretty much off the cuff, to enrol my books in the Amazon KDP Select lending programme. Sales of the R&M books have looked stale for a while and I couldn’t see why I shouldn’t try something to inject a bit of interest into the books and maybe provide a boost to sales and, of course, it gives one a few days in the ninety day enrolment period to give one’s books away for free (if one can). I also thought that the initiative would be an opportunity to give the Acer Sansom novels a boot up the backside. I keep abreast of a few of the big selling ebook authors and I’ve noticed that several have all their books enrolled. They must know what they’re doing, right?

I didn’t sign up in the expectation of earning trillions from Amazon’s monthly fund, but rather in the fumbling-around-in-the-dark sort of hope that, like a generous omniscient deity, Amazon, the all seeing and all powerful one true god of ebooks – peace be upon it – would see my act of giving – not to mention the benefit to them (like me joining in with a give-away programme) – and then there might be algorithm benefits – crumbs from the table, looking after their own, a bit of mutual back scratching. What’s the worst that can happen? I thought.

I scheduled Sunday for a day of give-aways. Strike while the iron is relatively warm, I thought, and before I had a chance to think the whole thing through and wonder what the hell I was doing. I harboured fantasies that these give-aways might also have some relevance vis-a-vis those algorithms – you know, Amazon gives some credit to the author in the form of a positive influence on the book’s ranking. (I have noticed that everything I seem to do lately has an ulterior motive, which ultimately has my selfish interest at heart. Like there’s no ‘i’ in team, there’s no ‘I’m-gonna-get-double-rich-and-double-famous-in-double-quick-time’ in altruistic.)

Well, it certainly had an influence on my rankings. But it wasn’t the one I’d hoped for. When Sunday’s promotion came to an end my title, Making a Killing (The Second Romney and Marsh File), had dropped out of the top 100 chart of the sub-category: fiction – crime/mystery/thrillers – police procedurals – British – set in Kent – without pictures – occasional swear words – between 230 and 240 pages long, where it had been languishing in the late nineties for a couple of weeks. On top of this Dirty Business (The First Acer Sansom Novel), which had been clawing its way up to the low thousands in the sales rank had, like the unfortunate climber whose grip fails him, fallen off the face of the rankings cliff to disappear without trace into the ebook abyss below. This must have been because I had been busy giving away my books instead of selling them. Why does that seem unfair to me?

On the free day I gave away over 900 copies of Making a Killing. I’ve spent much of this week trying to convince myself that I wouldn’t have sold them, would I?; that I haven’t just done myself out of £900, have I?. Oh Amazon, I haven’t have I? What was I thinking?

I made two (other) mistakes regarding the promotional day that I am regretful of: 1) I neglected to mention it on any of my social networking sites – doh! 2) I forgot to download copies for myself – double doh! I really wanted to see my covers on my Kindle fire, but I’m not buying my books for the privilege.  I’ve got better things to spend my hard-earned on.

One other awkward mistake I made in the whole initiative was to register Rope Enough (The First Romney and Marsh File) with KDP Select when it was still available through Smashwords. In doing this I have fallen foul of Amazon. They don’t miss anything. The warning email wasn’t long in coming. Sort it out or we’ll send the boys round. So then I had another decision to make: leave it on Smashwords where it had been listed on Barnes and Noble and ibooks, for two examples, in the hope of reaching a wider audience, or unpublish it from there and throw my lot in completely with Amazon by providing them with the exclusivity they demand.

Since December, 2012, when I first made Rope Enough available for free on Smashwords it has been downloaded through all the available outlet’s stores a total of 839 times. On Sunday as part of the free promotion (yes, it has also been free on Amazon since they price-matched it to zero, but registering it in the KDP Select programme came with free days so I thought I’d use a free listing day for my already free book and see what happened) it was downloaded nearly 1500 times. [Go figure.] Another no-brainer. I cut my ties with Smashwords. (And I have just this instant, while typing this post, realised that in doing that the book will no longer be listed as free on Amazon’s competition sites and so Amazon will no longer feel obliged to price-match to zero and Rope Enough will no doubt very shortly revert back to £0.77 on Amazon.) Swings and roundabouts.

Now I suppose I just have to wait patiently to see if there are actually any benefits from free give-aways and enrolling in KDP Select. Early days.

Thursday

Thought I’d update the bigger picture now that some of the dust has settled. Rope Enough jumped twenty places up the free chart for a couple of days and has now gone back to roughly where it was before the promotion. (This represents an obvious increase in downloads that might see readers look to download another in the series.) At the time of writing, Making a Killing is up to number twenty-four in the police procedural sub-category (it hasn’t been that high for a long time) which obviously represents an increase in downloads. Joint Enterprise (The third Romney and Marsh File) has not seen any significant knock-on (more early days). Both the Sansoms are higher in the ranking than at any time since their release, which is encouraging. Loose Ends (The Second Acer Sansom Novel) even broke into the Action Adventure chart for a short while.

It’s all pretty inconclusive really. I’m just relating for posterity what I’ve been up to. But I seek comfort in my belief that my give-aways will turn up on ‘Customers who bought this item also bought…’ types of list and so that’s a bit of publicity. And you know what they say about publicity.

Some things are worth waiting for.

Dirty Business Final (Large) Loose Ends Final (Large)

Back to life. Back to reality. Back to the here and now. (Name that tune.) Back to the city of concrete, cars and kebabs. (That’s not the next line.)

What a truly wonderful holiday we had in Dymchurch on Romney Marsh (not to be confused with Romney and Marsh the fictitious police duo operating out of Dover, not to be confused with Inspector Dover the fictitious police officer creation of Joyce Porter operating out of Scotland Yard). All clear? Good. Let’s move on.

I wondered how to return to the blogging scene after my lengthy but incredibly well-deserved break. I thought that I’d try to generate some interest in my resurrection by including a photograph of myself on Dymchurch’s famous ‘La Plage de Costume D’anniversaire’. I decided against it.

But even that seemed not enough of a re-entry strategy into the blogoshpere. I needed something…suitably…fittingly…special. Then it hit me: why not get the new blogging season off to an explosive, high-octane start by announcing the self-publication of my two Acer Sansom thrillers, Dirty Business and Loose Ends?

How to go about it? A couple of months ago I was contacted by that enormously famous and well-respected online crime and mystery publication, ‘Thriller Ink’. They invited me to take part in a Q&A with them, which, as a desperate and struggling self-publisher, I was naturally keen to participate in. I didn’t have to pay them and they even let me write my own questions – my favourite kind of Q&A. They advised me that the article would be published in August and here is the link for anyone interested. http://thrillerink.com/oliver-tidy-author-interview/

This gave me a great and timely idea. Why not interview myself on my blog for the self-publication of the Acer Sansoms? Let’s face it, no one else wants to do a feature on me, so I might as well grab any opportunity that I can manufacture to talk about me and my writing.

So, I shunned my medication for a day, locked myself away with a tape recorder and this is what we came up with.

Transcript of interview between Oliver Tidy and his alter ego.

Great cover art. Who does it for you?

I thought this was supposed to be about the launch of my new books – my writing. Kit Foster does all my cover art. I can’t imagine asking anyone else.  Next.

Are these books like the Romney and Marsh Files?

What? Do we have to talk about the Romney and Marsh books already? This is supposed to be about my new books. This must be how Rowling feels.

Who?

Never mind.

Readers will probably want to know.

OK, OK, don’t go on about it. No, the Sansoms are not like the Romney and Marsh Files. The Romney and Marsh Files are police procedurals and the Sansoms are (I hope) more like thrillers.

What do you mean, ‘I hope’? Are they thrillers or aren’t they?

Is it all going to be like this?

Like what?

Like that Jeremy Kyle off the idiot’s lantern – confrontational.

You want to do this or not?

Yes.

Thrillers or not thrillers?

(Sigh)That is always going to be a matter for the reader to decide. If I were to stake my reputation on it, I would say that in places both books are thrilling. But I don’t consider either to be white-knuckle, edge of the seat stuff, page after page after page. That would be exhausting not to mention difficult to write.

Where are the books set?

Dirty Business begins in the UK but fairly quickly the action switches to Istanbul in Turkey and then Bodrum, also in Turkey. Loose Ends starts off in Bodrum and fairly quickly the action switches to the UK. Weird that.

Why Turkey? How are you qualified to write about Turkey?

I moved to Istanbul about four years ago. I had wanted to try writing seriously for a while before then, but living in the UK with all its distractions I just never found the time. In Turkey and responsibility free, I found I had time. It seemed natural to utilise some of my knowledge of the city in which I was living. Then I got married…

Sorry, is there something wrong? You’ve gone a funny colour.

I’m OK. Can I have some water? For a couple of minutes there I forgot. Where was I? Oh yeah, so I got married and spent a couple of weeks in Bodrum in Akyrlar, a small settlement that features in the first book. And again it just seemed natural for me to include the geography. Write about what you know they say.

Oh, so you know about guns?

No.

Piloting power boats while under enemy fire?

No.

Have you ever killed anyone?

No.

Have you ever had a fight?

When I was a little boy my sister used to hit me with her dolls.

Right. So, Dirty Business was your first book. I thought that Rope Enough was your first book.

No. They go Acer Sansom, Romney and Marsh, Acer Sansom, Romney and Marsh then Romney and Marsh again. Because I had three in the R&M (Romney and Marsh) series written first I decided to launch my self-publishing career with those.

Did you try to get a traditional publishing deal?

Yes, but no one was interested and I got fed up of wasting money on P&P of manuscripts from Turkey to UK and then waiting six weeks for a ‘no’. With the advent of the ebook, I don’t know why anyone bothers trying to get traditionally published any more.

Don’t you want a traditional publishing deal?

Of course. I’d trade my two year old son for a small hardback print run and a complementary paperback edition. Actually, just paperbacks and you can have him. (He’s had all his jabs.) But I’ve stopped begging for it and I find that life is no longer quite so disappointing.

Tell us something about the books? Must they be read in order?

Each works very well as a stand-alone novel, but like the R&M’s, to get the most out of them one should read them in order.

Can I lift a couple of bits from the Amazon blurb for this bit? Yes? Good. It should give the reader a good idea of what to expect.

Dirty Business – The First Acer Sansom Novel

When a British soldier the world thought was dead resurfaces, shot in the guts, in the home of a still-warm dead man an unsavoury story of dirty business and murder begins to emerge.

A politician and a shadowy government security official make contact with him and reveal evidence of where he should be looking for answers to his questions. With their assistance, the soldier becomes embroiled in a mission for retribution and justice. And for some crimes only biblical justice will do.

Dirty Business tells how Acer Sansom returns from the ‘dead’, where he’s been for his missing year and why he is possessed with a single-minded need for vengeance. It follows his journey from the south of England to Turkey on the trail of the men responsible for the fate of his murdered family and his search for the truth.

Acer’s desire for revenge is clear. Less clear are the motives of those helping him and whose hands are soiled with their Dirty Business.

Loose Ends – The Second Acer Sansom Novel

Acer Sansom has had a narrow escape and a taste of revenge, now he’s back for the main course – British justice.

Covertly returning to the UK after a dramatic series of events in Turkey, the carefully woven fabric of the soldier’s welcome soon starts to unravel.  The protection he was promised is compromised by his powerful and shadowy enemies who didn’t get where there are by leaving loose ends untied.

Now he must once again rely on his wits, his mettle, his training and his luck to get him out of trouble and to help him honour the debt he feels to a policeman friend, and his dead loved ones.

Loose Ends details Acer’s fight for survival, for justice and for vindication. A twisting journey of action and intrigue leads to a thrilling end and a possible new beginning. 

They sound exciting.

Are you being funny?

No. Which is the best of the two?

I like them both. Despite Dirty Business being the first book I ever wrote, I don’t think of it of a typical first book i.e. it’s not shit. Really. Even after four years and many read-throughs and edits there are still points in the story that make my eyes sting. Not with embarrassment but with emotion. Now, I’m not promising that readers will be moved to tears with passages or events in the book, but as the author, even though I know what’s coming I can’t help myself. It’s the same with the video of my son being born. Sometimes I wonder if there is something wrong with me. I asked my mum if any of it made her cry and she said only when she opened the parcel and realised what I’d sent her.

As for which is the best – Loose Ends. I honestly think that Loose Ends is the best book I have written to date. Loose Ends is effing brilliant (in places).

Did you prefer writing Romney and Marsh or these?

I like writing. I don’t care what it is. When I’m into a project I don’t want to do anything else.

Writing the Romney and Marsh books makes me laugh out loud sometimes, since I realised – about halfway through Making a Killing (the second book) – where I wanted to go with the series. I don’t laugh at anything in the Sansom books. Just cry as I’ve already explained.

The Romney and Marsh Files have some black humour in them. Is there anything funny in the Sansom books?

No. There is nothing funny in these books. The only funny thing was when I misused a homophone. But that has now been corrected.

What was it?

Can we get on?

Why did you write them?

The first one seemed a good idea at the time. The second seemed like a better idea at a different time.

Where did you get the name of your central protagonist from?

Orignally, Acer Sansom was Patrick Sansom. He was Patrick for a long time until I came across the name Acer somewhere and I really liked it for this part better than Patrick. Obviously. Patrick was taken from Patrick O’Brian my favourite novelist of all time and Sansom was taken from CJ Sansom, author of the Shardlake series of books that I simply adore and have three sets of first editions of – one for each of my children. There. And I bet that CJ Sansom never drops me a line to thank me for immortalising him in eprint. Why should he? He’s a trad-pubbed star and I’m still a self-pubbed nobody. Come to think of it he’s probably made a pretty good job of immortalising himself seeing as he’s traditionally published and ebook published and audio book published.

Moving on, tell your readers about your methods for writing a novel. Do you make extensive plans, draw pictures, mind-map, have walls plastered with little yellow post-its, or anything like that when you write a book? What’s your process?

I make it up as I go along.

Really?

Really. That’s it.

Oh. Ever had writer’s block?

There was a moment – a bit of a wobble – when I was signing the wedding register. But I got through it. Mainly thanks to my father-in-law’s shotgun being pointed at my knees. Turns out she wasn’t pregnant after all.

How long are the books?

Each one is 100,000 words minus a couple of hundred. For comparison’s sake each of the R&M books are about 80,000 words.

Why is that? Was it a conscious decision?

With the R&M’s it was. I read somewhere that one has a better chance of getting traditionally published if one’s first book is around 80,000 words. Well that’s three I’ve tried and no one’s beating my door down. Maybe there’s more to it than just word count.

Any news on the publishing front?

Is this going to go on for much longer?

Who would you like to play the parts of your characters in the film versions of the books?

I have a desperate hope that Dame Judy Dench will live long enough to play the part of a certain character in Loose Ends – no names. She’s perfect for it. Just like my mum. But she can’t act. My mum that is. Funny really that, for a drama queen, I mean.

Sean Bean would have been my first choice for Acer Sansom twenty years ago (can you believe he’s fifty-four now?) No one else springs to mind.

Have you had any feedback on the books, yet? Anyone read them and given an opinion?

My mum reads all my books before anyone else. It’s a rule. It’s also a major pain. Self-publishing an ebook is hard enough, but seriously, can you imagine what it’s like trying to self-publish a book in Braille? It’s a mission. And I certainly get through the knitting-needles and paper. She always says that she enjoys them. Mind you I gave her dog biscuits to eat once when I told her I’d baked her some cookies. She said they were great, so I don’t take much notice of what she says any more. I will let the public decide (after they’ve paid for the privilege).

You’ve had quite a bit of reader-feedback regarding errors in your writing haven’t you?

What’s that got to do with this?

I was just wondering whether you have taken any steps to ensure your readers get a smoother read with these books?

Actually, yes. I made some very pleasant virtual acquaintances through the R&M Files and had several readers offer to assist me with proof-reading further work. (Make of that what you will.) Anyway, I have struck up a good online friendship with a gentleman who has been kind enough to work with me in ensuring that the Sansom books are tighter, more polished and professional reads. That said, any errors that do turn up in either of the books are entirely my responsibility, especially as I keep changing things when he’s not looking.

How are you going to price them?

In pounds and pence. Bartering was an interesting experiment, but frankly one can have too many goats, especially living in a city apartment.

Seriously, I have thought long and hard over how to price these. Part of me thinks that I already give one book away for free and the other two together don’t cost a pint of lager. But I want people to read them. Especially, I want people who read this blog and who, therefore, probably have some sort of interest in my writing to have the opportunity to purchase the new books cheaply if they feel they might be something they could enjoy. I think I owe my readers that because I love them and they have been so demonstrably supportive. Don’t believe me? Look around this blog. And, mostly, they’ve made me very happy, if not rich. But it never was about the money.

You’ve received a good deal of hate mail for DI Romney’s apparent misogynistic leanings haven’t you?

Some. So?

How does Acer Sansom feel about women?

I know what you’re trying to do. Acer is a good and decent chap. He respects all women and most of their opinions.

What do you mean, ‘most of their opinions’?

What’s with all the questions?

It’s an interview.

Sorry. Of course.

In Rope Enough you wrote a graphic sex scene involving DI Romney and his girlfriend.

Correct.

Any regrets?

No. Why?

It wasn’t popular with all readers was it?

No.

Are there any graphic sex scenes in the Acer Sansom books?

No. Sorry if that disappoints you. Acer does have sex in the books but it is implied rather than described. He only has sex with consenting adult females, none of whom he is related to. Satisfied?

I think that we should leave it there?

Good because now I must go and update all my online author biographies and profiles to include these new books. Yawn.

If anyone’s interested here are the links for the two books. Cheapest that Amazon will allow me to list for is 77p each in the UK and a little over a dollar each in the US. Get them while stocks last or before I come to my senses and put the prices up. Ten…nine…eight…seven…six…

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Dirty-Business-Sansom-Novels-ebook/dp/B00F20QDKO/ref=sr_1_18?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1378698382&sr=1-18&keywords=dirty+business

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Loose-Ends-Sansom-Novels-ebook/dp/B00F212VGS/ref=sr_1_48?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1378698532&sr=1-48&keywords=loose+ends

http://www.amazon.com/Dirty-Business-Sansom-Novels-ebook/dp/B00F20QDKO/ref=sr_1_5?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1378698678&sr=1-5&keywords=oliver+tidy

http://www.amazon.com/Loose-Ends-Sansom-Novels-ebook/dp/B00F212VGS/ref=sr_1_6?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1378698678&sr=1-6&keywords=oliver+tidy