A slow news week.

 Get it?


Get it?

This is my writer’s diary. Because it’s a diary I have to make weekly entries. It’s that kind of diary. The entries must have something to do with my second life as a writer. Sometimes there is not much to report to myself.

I have been working on the first draft of Booker & Cash #2. I reported last week that I’d ‘finished’ the story and now I’ve gone back to the beginning. Reading and pruning.

I’ve blogged about my new commute ad nauseum. It’s funny what you get used to. I suppose that’s one of the things that makes the human race so successful. We can get used to pretty much anything and life goes on; we adapt and get on with it. I’ve been using the hour and a bit each way to do some reading on my Kindle. Naturally, being a tight git, I downloaded as many free titles as I thought would appeal to me. Verdict? A mixed bag. I’ve had some good reads but several of them I’ve only given about 10%, and that includes all the necessary guff before the opening chapter. It’s given me a lesson though. In the ebook era when 1000s of titles can be stored on a device it is crucial to hook the reader early. It’s just too easy for people with short attention spans, like me, or too little reading time in their lives, like me, or a virtual mountain of ebooks waiting to be read, like me, to tap a button and move on the next freebie in search of something… sufficiently engaging. I wonder if I would be so intolerant if I only had physical books to read. Probably not. Probably I’d give the books more of a chance.

I did read one brilliant book this last week: 1984 by George Orwell. I’ve been meaning to read it for years and found it online as a PDF document being offered for free. The guy was a prophet. But more than that (and the man’s creative genius of aside), based on the evidence of this book, he was, in my humble opinion, simply a brilliant writer. Full stop. Loved it.

Something else I’ve been doing over the last few weeks is some research for a new series of books I think I might move on to next. I brought half a dozen reference books back from the UK after the holiday and I’ve been working my way through them. I don’t read a lot of non-fiction, although I often enjoy it when I do. To be reading books in the name of research for a fiction book I want to write has brought an extra tickle to the reading experience. I think that as soon as I have He Made Me how how I want it, I might make a start. I have the opening scene in my head.

Oh, and this week I got in touch with the nice man who does my covers asking for one for He Made Me. Looking forward to seeing how he realises the fairly scant information I provided for this one.

Interesting statistic for the week: as I write, Rope Enough has 666 reviews on Amazon.co.uk. Ominous?

Best wishes to all.

 

 

Immortality Anyone?

Writer’s blog: Stardate: 10.10.2013

As Jimmy Durante might have been moved to type, had he been a writer instead of a whatever he was, sitting at my computer the other day a bolt from the blue struck me clean between the eyes – a laser beam of inspiration. It left me dazed and reeling and then excited beyond words with its potential for furthering my career as a best-selling author of note and making me quite wealthy. I haven’t felt so enlivened about an idea since my brainwave at fourteen that my dad should try to cross the Atlantic by pedalo to get famous and rich. I still have an old black and white photograph of him going into the water off the Cornish coast. I hope he made it. He never writes.

It is quite possible that this is not an original idea. There is little originality in the world anymore – even less so in writing and self-promotion/self-publishing/self-prostitution. But I haven’t stolen it from anyone. Any similarities to anything existing are purely accidental and coincidental. (My lawyer said I have to write that bit.)

My big idea concerns generating interest and money (in advance) regarding my next Romney and Marsh File. It suggests to me the possibility of making a lot of easy money and generating a media frenzy to rival Savilegate. Perhaps I could, just for a day, an hour, be what’s become all-too-commonly known as ‘an Internet sensation’.

So, here it is: I’m going to sell off the names of new characters introduced to the literary experience that is The Romney and Marsh Files. For a trial period of one book only, ordinary mortals (readers) can gain immortality through the pages of the next ebook instalment of this hugely popular contemporary mystery/crime/thriller/police procedural series. Think about it. The ebook will never be out of print. For as long as the planet manages to generate electricity your name will, like the love in the theme tune to Titanic, go on and on. Generations of your ancestors will be able to share with friends, family and colleagues your foresight, your famousness – you will be remembered for eternity on Earth (and maybe on a spaceship heading to far off galaxies). And when the TV rights get purchased…

Why stop there? My head is now literally splitting with my body’s physiological inability to contain my enthusiasm for the natural progression of this idea and it does hurt. Crimson rivulets seep from the torn seams of my cranial flesh as the joins of my skull succumb to and expand with the internal pressure of original thought. There’s something else there too, something clear and sticky to spatter my clothing, laptop and desk. I can sell the title! Romney and Marsh and the Case of the Missing (insert brand name here) Tomato Ketchup. So what if there isn’t any ketchup in the story. Who would care? Merchants, think about readers scanning thumbnail images in Amazon’s crime fiction department – Death to All, Everyone Must Die, No Survivors, Massacre and Mayhem, The Case of the Missing (insert brand name here) Tomato Ketchup (Brand name and instantly recognisable product logo over-sized).

I can approach leading brands for product placement rights within the story.

DI Romney sat down heavily and proceeded to drink noisily and thirstily from his cold and highly refreshing tin of Diet Coka-Cola (deliberate typo. No one has paid anything yet) ‘Oh God, DS Marsh that tastes so good. I’m so glad I choose this brand over all others because it really hits the spot and quenches my thirst in ways that no other cola comes close to and I’m sure my libido and sexual stamina are increased by my daily consumption of Tescbury’s own brand fair trade rich dark chocolate which is on special offer at participating stores this month if you just mention my name (DI Romney) and the promotional code number 48839.’

‘Really, sir? I’ll definitely be giving those two products a try next time I visit Dover’s Castle Wharf Shopping Arcade which has free parking on Thursday nights between seven and nine. And a carvery.’

DC Grimes pushed through the double doors into the inner sanctum of CID.

‘Hey, Peter. Your hair has got a real shine these days. What conditioner are you using on it?’

‘Morning serge. The wife discovered this amazing brand of two in one shampoo and conditioner which saves me time in the shower and gives my hair this healthy glow. It’s called Wash and Run and it’s really cheap. But never mind that now. Have you tried the new bog paper from Morristrose? So soft and absorbent. One wipe and just about everything comes off clean and fresh. You wanna look?’ Grimes’ hand went to his belt.

Yes, we all mention brands in our books from time to time, but for effect rather than profit. In my first Acer Sansoms I had the villains driving around Istanbul in Audis. Maybe I should contact Audi and threaten to change the Audis to Range Rovers if they don’t provide me with an Audi TT or a cash alternative.

But what I’m really talking about here is proactively seeking sponsors for product placement and not just a bit of name dropping. Example: DI Romney pulled up to the petrol pump in his new Ford. This could become: DI Romney pulled up to the petrol pumps in his new Ford Mondeo 16V Cosworth in Air Force Blue with Recaro seats and the alloy wheels optional extras. He’d bought it on the strength of it being voted Which Magazine’s best value family sports saloon for the second year running. He’d been particularly fortunate with his purchase – Ford were operating a 0% finance package over five years for anyone quoting the promotional code: RomneyandMarshCosworthOffer.

Maybe I could forget writing and become an agent. I could set up deals between authors and advertisers. Have a website – a proper one not a blog pretending to be one. I could take a commission. I could become rich and infamous.

So where was I? Right, selling names of characters in the book. I think I should create a sliding scale of fees that matches a character’s involvement in the story. So far we have:

Main murderer – £500

Murder victim 1 (non speaking part) – £100

Murder victim 2 (speaking part and lots of screaming) – £250

Postman (non speaking part) – £100

Alien that DI Romney finds in his garage (speaking part but you can’t understand a word it says) – £250

Man masturbating in lift (non speaking part but plenty of strange noises) – £100

Mad woman who drowns kittens in bucket of her own urine (speaking apart) – £250

Maybe I need to go back and write in some more characters. Maybe a few of them should be more appealing to be identified with by potential investors craving immortality. Let’s face it if you’re going to be immortal you want to spend eternity as someone cool, not a wanker in a lift (literally). Or maybe I should auction off the roles. Dutch or normal. The sky’s the limit for this shizzle. The opportunities are limitless.

I’m half-way through the book so plenty of time for interested parties to contact me with offers regarding opportunities to prostitute myself, my art and the holy sanctity of the written word for economic gain.

I know what you’re thinking but look what’s happened to TV. The haunted fish tank has product placement all over. Everyone’s selling out, leaping aboard the gravy train, claiming their spot at the trough. My mum told me about Jamie Oliver. If the squeaky clean Golden Boy of cookery can bend over to take it from the corporate advertising gang-bangers there must be a fortune to be made. Why else would he do it? In fact why did he do it? Surely, he doesn’t need the money. Silly me. Money’s addictive. Obviously.

Maybe Romney and Marsh could get fed up with being confused with that corner of Kent and change their names by deed poll to Rolls and Royce (big money in that one) or Benson and Hedges (controversial but with the muzzle on cigarette advertising these days I reckon they’d jump at it. I could have all the covers re-deigned to look like fag packets (great thumbnail images). Romney is well known for his filthy habit but I’ve never named his brand. I could. For a regular standing order into my off-shore account.) Oh, hang on. What did I say about original thought? Someone’s ahead of me with that one – Bryant and May. (Break for belly full of scorinish laughter.) What was he thinking? What can they offer him? There’re only so many free boxes of matches one can use in a lifetime. Maybe DI Benson and DS Hedges could bump into Bryant and May in a book. Think of the laughs and in jokes. (If you do let me know because they escape me.)

So, immortality anyone? Sort of.

So far, so bloody brilliant!

Wordpress stats

Writer’s Blog: Stardate: 02.06.2013

I’m going on holiday tomorrow. I’m going back to the UK for five weeks. I heard that. Before you say anymore, I’m a teacher. I deserve it. Don’t believe me, try it for yourself, or ask someone you know in the job. Flipping energy-vampires. I’m knackered. And don’t forget I’m an author too. And a dad of a two year old with so much enthusiasm for life he makes Forest Gump look like a couch-potato.

This will be my last blog-post until I return to Istanbul in August. I’m having a break. I’m making that decision now so that I don’t have to suffer the self-imposed pressure to churn out another instalment in my spluttering attempts to be an author of note. (Yeah, I’ve cranked it up. I want to be an author of note now [whatever that means. Some other woolly term to trouble my sleep patterns.] not just an author. One thing that I’ve learned: in this day and age anyone can be an author.)

So this seems like a good and timely opportunity to look back on my first six monthish as a self-publisher. A bit of stock-taking as in taking stock. And please remember: this blog is essentially an on-line diary of my experiences as someone trying to make it as an author (now of note), so a six month review of how things have gone so far doesn’t seem too self-indulgent. If it does to you, you know where the delete button is.

It all started here https://olivertidy.wordpress.com/2012/09/30/stage-1-completeish/?preview=true&preview_id=3&preview_nonce=b4206811ff&post_format=standard

In early-December, 2012. I uploaded Rope Enough to Amazon and Smashwords. At the end of that month Making a Killing went up on both and in mid-January of this year Joint Enterprise joined them.

The following figures are only for Amazon UK. (The books just haven’t taken off at all across the pond. Perhaps British police-procedurals aren’t their thing. Perhaps Amazon was kinder to me in the UK by putting my books on some lists to get them noticed.) I’ve already established that I don’t do much self-promotion. Smashwords, as I have blogged, could not hold a cheap tallow taper to Amazon for me. I’m sure Smashwords works better for others.

So, through Amazon UK, Rope Enough has been downloaded over 56,000 times. (Before anyone gets too excited for me, over 55,900 of those were free downloads – list price for the sold copies netted me @35p an ebook. You can laugh.) Making a Killing has been downloaded over 4000 times. (A good number of those were through Amazon’s KDP free days. Not so funny.) Joint Enterprise has been downloaded over 2000 times. None of those were freebies. (Now who’s laughing?)

It’s really worth repeating that if Amazon had not price-matched Rope Enough – The First Romney and Marsh File to free then in all likelihood I would still be getting download figures each month in the tens. To illustrate that, February was a typical month for me for downloads: Rope Enough 8, Making a Killing 4, Joint Enterprise 2. March was a little more encouraging but the figures were influenced by my KDP free lisiting days for Making a Killing, which I had enrolled in KDP Select. After the price matching in April things really started happening. The vast majority of the downloads have come in the last three months.

The cover art cost me £100 a book. And that’s the only financial outlay that I’ve had to make.

I’ve got into blogging, something that I’ve really enjoyed. I’m as fond of my blog as I am any of my books. I tweet, but I’m less enthusiastic about that – too much noise. It’s like whistling in a summer dawn chorus.

I failed to win a place on the CWA Debut Dagger shortlist, something that I’m not embarrassed to admit I really wanted, had set my heart on and truly believed that I had a chance of.

I haven’t been idle. I have not been resting on my Romney and Marsh Files’ laurels. I have three other full length novels that are in various stages of the editing process. I have a hard-drive of ideas. I’m soon going to start the fourth Romney and Marsh.

WordPress stats tell me that my blog has been accessed by people from seventy five different countries, or places on earth that have their own flag. (See image above with a magnifying glass. I did my best.) That is an amazing stat. A great number of those people, I know, have either read a Romney and Marsh File or been scouring the Internet for information (let’s be honest, probably pictures or videos) on ‘Female Ejaculation and Gay Men’, one of my more popular blog-post titles. Were they disappointed? How I laugh every time I see another hit of that gem on the stats. https://olivertidy.wordpress.com/2012/10/09/female-ejaculation-and-gay-men/?preview=true&preview_id=217&preview_nonce=27aee416c5&post_format=standard

So what’s been the best thing about this good start that is my foray into self-publishing? People actually. Or more precisely readers. Or more specifically readers of the Romney and Marsh Files who have taken the time and trouble to get in touch and let me know what they think of the books. It hasn’t all been good. But it’s all been valuable and gratefully received. Amazon comments, comments on the blog and private emails. I have been truly bowled over by the number of readers who have contacted me to say something about the books. I’ve had some wonderful, meaningful, and useful exchanges. I’ve learned a lot. I’ve made some virtual friends. (Anyone who actually knows me is going to think that I’m either drunk or dying after reading that. I have more in common with DI Romney’s misanthropic side than I might have previously owned up to.)

If I hadn’t taken the decision to self-publish and be damned my three Romney and Marsh books would be still be skulking in the bottom of my wardrobe, under the bag of odd-socks, and I would have denied myself one of the most truly enjoyable episodes of my life.

Regrets? Not a one. I’m looking forward to the next six months.

Here’s wishing all the Romney and Marsh Files’ readers a great summer. Thank you one and all. (Even you Suzi.)

Hope or train?

 

Writers blog: stardate: 19.04.2013

Ten days ago Amazon price-matched my book Rope Enough – The First Romney and Marsh File – to zero. It is now a free book and I will keep it that way – forever. Despite this book having cost me a good chunk of time and effort to create – not to mention the blood, sweat , tears and hundred quid for the cover art – I cannot think of a better  means of constant, free and easy self-promotion. I cannot think of any other means of self-promotion that would see me – an unknown, newcomer to self-publishing – get my book in front of the people who I want to get it in front of – the people that matter: ebook readers.

In the ten days that it has been a free ebook it has had over eleven-thousand downloads through Amazon.co.uk. Yesterday, it was at number three in the Kindle free-download chart for all ebooks, and in the last twenty-four hours it was downloaded over one thousand, seven hundred times. That book is now on the reading devices and in the homes of eleven-thousand readers. How else could I possibly have achieved that?

A big chunk of the people who downloaded it won’t read it; I know that. But a good number probably will at some point. Maybe not this week or this month, but it’s on their device. In a year they might give it a go. They might like it and they might look for the second in the series and that’s where I realise I have inadvertently done myself and my self-publishing venture the best turn that I could – I already have the next two in the series available for download.

If I had just one book available and I gave it away for nothing I might get thousands of people download it. But what then? Those that read it and enjoyed it and wanted to find something else by me would soon be disappointed and move onto the next free book. I would. I do. By the time that I got around to writing and publishing the next book, I would have to start all over again. I would have missed my window of opportunity.

If I had one book available and I was asking money for it as an unknown, I doubt strongly that I’d see many downloads. And again, those that enjoyed the read would have nothing to go on to by me. See above.

I’m no expert in self-publishing, but I’ve learned some things about it. And if there is one bit of advice I would give anyone who is looking to make money from self-publishing it is this: my self-publishing formula for a modicum of success – or better.

  1. Write a series in a popular genre.
  2. Get professional cover art that clearly links the books in a series and identifies their places within in it.
  3. Make the first in the series free to download. Just swallow.
  4. Have at least one more title in the series available to download for those who enjoyed the first  – three is better. (Look around – commercially successful series are like buses.)
  5. Make the second in the series attractively cheap to purchase.
  6. Make the third in the series still cheap for a novel but up the price a little.

I can’t claim to have invented this formula and, like I said, it is simply good-fortune that I had already written three in a series before I got around to self-publishing. Others are doing it, have been doing it, or something like it, and doing well out of it, for some time.

Example: Alan McDermott has his Tom Gray trilogy out at the moment. I understand that it’s been out a while. The first in the series is a free download. It has been at number one on Amazon’s free download chart ever since I’ve been looking. If I can crawl up to number three with seventeen-hundred downloads in a day, how many does he shift in a day? and how many has he shifted in the months that he’s been self-published? A conservative estimate would be hundreds of thousands. It could be more. Book two in that series is in the top one hundred Kindle downloads for paid books. Book three is just outside the top one-hundred. Take it from me; he’s selling shed-loads and he is making some serious money. Best of luck to him.

Part 2

I have finished what I feel strongly will be my penultimate edit of Dirty Business – The First Acer Sansom Novel. I shall now email this new version to Amazon and it will be almost immediately pinged back to my Kindle reading device where I shall then give it the final proof-read. I’ve blogged before about how useful I find it to read through my books in a variety of formats: computer screen, hard-copy, Kindle. Each new reading experience brings with it a novelty factor that provides me the opportunity for a fresh perspective to spot errors. It’s what my circumstances have reduced me to. And I think that I’m getting better at it. In fact I’m feeling so confident about my abilities these days that I might even offer a reward for any typos spotted. Then again, maybe I won’t.

Yesterday, Kit Foster, the nice fellow who did the covers for the three R&M’s, sent me some ideas for Dirty Business and Loose Ends. I was very happy with elements of them and he is going to combine these into a couple of covers that I think will be effective, strongly suggestive and representative of the genre and story.

I’m still not sure about where to pitch the price on these two. The three R&M’s are priced on a sliding upwards scale – free, £1.53 and £2.05 (I wanted £1.49 and £1.99 but Amazon did something to the numbers that I still don’t understand.) The three R&M’s are all around the eighty-thousand word mark. The two Sansoms are one-hundred-thousand words each. Should that extra twenty-thousand words justify a higher price?

I’m drawn to list them at £1.99 each and it’s not because of the extra bulk. I still don’t think that that is expensive for a decent read, which I have to hope people will think of them. I do. I also think that I’ve established myself to a very small degree as a half-decent story-teller – reviews, comments and feedback lend weight to this notion – and perhaps, as it could be argued that I have let my first three novels go quite cheaply, even by ebook standards, those who have read them and enjoyed them won’t begrudge me looking to net just over a pound a book. I don’t think that looking to make one pound a book is greedy or likely to price me out of a potential sale. Time will tell on that. Of course, if people start writing to tell me how awful they find them and how robbed they feel, I might have to reduce the price a bit.

With the self-publication of the Sansom’s will come more work. All the information on my various author pages relates only to the R&M books. The images on my Facebook page and blog banner are R&M covers. I’ve also got to write a couple of elevator pitch style summaries for the forthcoming Amazon listings. I’m not complaining – I like all that stuff. It makes a change and I’m doing it for me.

In all their full-size glory

 

That’s one small step for English literature, one giant leap for my self-publishing. Actually, for English literature it might be more of a trip in the dark than a proper forward-moving ‘step’. I don’t care. Screw my critics. I’m moving again. And I’m whistling from the right end.

The old self-publishing grindstone got a bit stuck lately. I’ve had a week away back in the real world i.e. home – responsibility, property maintenance, family, big jobs, little jobs, socialising. It’s all fun and frantic and depressing and consuming. Nanna used to say that a change is as good as a rest (she never went anywhere) but I can’t sit down and ‘work’ on my writing when I’m ‘home’.

But someone was busy. The guy who has been creating the ebook covers for the series has been industriously beavering away and after a couple of drafts and some discussion he’s realised a set for the three books that I’m really very pleased with.

I told him that I was looking for some common identifiable themes on the jackets of the first three books in the series that can be taken forward and exploited on covers of future books. I think that we have a good few going on with what we have.

One letter of each book’s title is replaced with, and depicted by, an artefact from the story. Each cover has a strong silhouette that hints at a prominent locational theme of the book. The typography is common to all three and strong. The background wash of colour is in keeping with the season in which the story takes place. And each cover had a contrasting splash of red in the form of a ‘rubber stamp’ indicating which in the series of the Romney and Marsh Files the book is. Now, all this might not be to everyone’s taste, but appreciate this: the cover has a very important job to do. It must attract the attention of the reader who is looking for a certain type of read. It must reflect the genre and stimulate interest. It must be instantly recognisable as part of a series. I find them simple, subtle, reflective of the content and effective. That’s what I was after and to my mind (and I know the stories better than anyone) that’s what I’ve got.

Now, maybe, I’ll treat myself to one more, final, final, final proof-read…

Desperate times call for desperate measures.

 

 

A couple of days ago I posted that I had run into problems with my e-book covers and that I thought that I might/should seek some professional help (for the covers, not for me).

I looked through a couple of years of entries in the monthly e-book cover design awards on the website  www.bookdesigner.com. (a great resource) and found a couple of artists that impressed me with their work.

I tracked down their websites and gave them the once over. And I’ve settled on someone to approach. His artwork is really good, he has good testimonials on his website and his prices are quite reasonable, especially when compared with the competition. £100 a cover. I want three.

In line with keeping a record of my foray into self-publishing I’m including a copy of the letter that I’ve sent to him today. (I haven’t got anything else to report and it is all relevant).

His name is Kit Foster. He is based in Scotland and his web address is http://www.kitfosterdesign.com

Hello Kit,

I have written three novels that I am going to self-publish as e-books. Not wanting to spoil the ship for a ha’porth of tar I think that I need, and would benefit from, professional help with the e-book covers. I’ve done some research. I really like your work. I hope that we might work together to our mutual benefit.

I’m approaching you after reviewing a couple of years of entries in the e-book cover design awards on www.bookdesigner.com. Just for your information, regarding any designs that you might undertake for me, I generally agree with every comment Joel Friedlander makes, which is good because he obviously likes your covers.

My books are the first three in a police detective series. I shall be writing more. They are set in Dover, Kent in the present day. The series is pretty formulaic in that each book involves the two main characters from the local police force, solving crimes that the town throws up. The two main characters’ names are Detective Inspector Romney (male) and Detective Sergeant Marsh (female).

I’m looking for a striking design that can be used as a common theme throughout these books and others that will follow. I want my books to be visually instantly recognisable as a series with certain common features. I want a brand. To this end, I would like to incorporate on the cover, as well as title and author’s name, a phrase something like ‘ The First Romney and Marsh File’ The Second Romney and Marsh File’ and, obviously, ‘The Third Romney and Marsh File’. I’m not sure if this should be done in a novel, logo-type – maybe something like a rubber stamp imprint? – way or would be better as a simple sentence.

I hope that I’m writing in the crime/police procedural-with-an-element-of-thriller genre. If I’m not, I’m screwed.

My target audience is readers of contemporary police detective novels set in the UK; who expect to be kept guessing to (just about) the end and who don’t expect either regular graphic scenes of brutality and violence and the text peppered with bad language, or little old ladies in surgical stockings solving crime. I don’t mind blood and guts and swearing but there’s not too much of it in my books.

I don’t know whether I want the covers to specifically reflect the town. I don’t know if that’s necessary. My personal opinion of Dover that I’m writing the books through is that it has some wonderful historic and geographical features going for it, but that as it is today it is tawdry and neglected with a dark underside and peopled by, not exactly low-life, more unsavoury elements.

I don’t want clearly definable images of people’s faces on the cover (see Martina Cole novels) but I don’t think that that is your style anyway. I’m not looking for a quaint English village feel either (see Agatha Raisin books). I want something gritty and implying darker elements of society portrayed in a simple effective way.

I need e-book covers for these three titles that, specifically, Amazon will accept for uploading as a Kindle e-book. I’m sure that you will know these specifications better than I do.

I would like the books to have a strong contemporary feel and strong typography. I’m not necessarily looking for something visually suggestive of the location. If you think that’s best then fine; I’m not averse to it either. I like simple and striking and uncluttered and clever and memorable and subtle and effective. Who doesn’t?

Anyway, assuming that you’re interested in doing the covers here is some detail. If you want more please ask.

DETAILS OMITTED BECAUSE THEY CONTAIN SPOILERS.

I have no publisher logo to consider.

Probably of no significance to the design process, but I’ll include it anyway, is the fact that I come from a place just down the coast from Dover called Romney Marsh. Hence the sir names of the two main characters.

Having just read through all of this I would like to add that as the titles of the books are revealed as being very relevant and suggestive of the overall main storyline for each novel I would like the cover artwork to be a visual suggestion of the titles as much as anything else.

I do hope that all this makes sense to you.

If you require any content from the books I can send it to you.

I would appreciate you letting me know whether you’re interested in the commission and if you are your initial thoughts and price.

Have a good weekend.

Oliver Tidy

A ha’porth of tar.

Another day, another…cloud. But wait. Another cloud another silver lining – perhaps.

Over the weekend I found the time and motivation to have a go at formatting my Microsoft Word document into something that Amazon’s Kindle will display. I wasn’t looking forward to it because I thought that it might get a bit technical. However, it was pleasantly and surprisingly really simple and within a minute of pinging my novel over the internet to Amazon it came back, formatted, on to my Kindle e-book reader. This provided me with two sensations. The first was one of astonished amazement at yet another example of just how flipping amazing the technology is today. I mean I live now. I grew up with this stuff. I’m used to it. But technology still has the ability to utterly baffle and bewilder me. How does all this work? There aren’t even any cables involved. It’s all wireless. I wonder sometimes how a great innovator of centuries long gone would react to it all if he/she could be resurrected and shown a few examples. Could they cope with it?

The second feeling that I got was a bit warm and gooey down there. No, not down there. Just in the pit of my stomach. My book was on a Kindle and I could read it. And of course I should. I must. To ensure that there are no errors thrown up by the formatting, or otherwise, I must read the book again on the device that it is intended for. What a chore that sounds. I’ve read the damn thing three times in two weeks. I like it, and I’m exceptionally egotistical where my own ‘art’ is concerned, but I can’t face reading that thing again just yet. Actually, I won’t have to because I have a fly in my self-publishing ointment that is the new cloud in my life. (I apologise to myself for mixing my metaphors.)

A little while ago those of me who have been paying close attention to my blog posts will have seen me boasting about how I nailed my evocative and enticing e-book covers in a matter of hours and at no expense at all. How clever I was. And yet how conceited and possibly stupid too.

I’m a bibliophile. I collect books. I can spend a hundred pounds on a book and not bat an eye, if I really want it. I love everything about books: the smell (new or old – unlike people books actually smell better with age), the feel, the reading, the look of a superbly crafted and atmospheric dust-jacket….yes the dust-jacket. I always judge a book by its cover. I think that dust-jackets are as important to the book as, as, as…well they’re bloody important, I know that much. It’s often the first thing that people see and people do make a judgement of the book based on that first impression. So why oh why did I think that the dust-jackets of my e-books weren’t important enough in my grand scheme of self-publishing to warrant some investment in some professionalism? I’m going to put my books out into the big wide world where they are going to compete with all sorts of professional and brilliant artwork. I have to give them the best start that I can, the best chance that I can, to get them noticed by the casual browser with thousands of titles to choose from. Don’t I? If I get noticed maybe a few people will linger long enough to press download and then read me.

Back to my problem. When it came to downloading my e-book cover to Kindle Amazon would not accept the file because it wasn’t up to pixel standards. In fact it was humiliatingly short of pixels. Nothing to be done about it. I must abandon them. And after I’d stopped crying I started thinking about what I could do. I’ve ended up back on that dilemma’s horns again – invest in some software that will enable me to create industry standard e-book covers or bite the bullet and pay a pro to come up with something?

Naturally, I turned to my best friend – I had a scout around the internet, like you do, and found a couple of graphic designers offering this service (how much? I’m definitely in the wrong job). I also found this website http://www.thebookdesigner.com/2012/10/e-book-cover-design-awards-september-2012/

This was an eye-opener. It’s really worth a look if one has an interest in cover art. Every month the guy who runs the site judges the dozens of submissions that people send in for someone to be singled out as that month’s best. He has several months of e-book covers archived and it makes really fascinating viewing. The guy who runs it is a pro designer himself and he provides feedback on a lot of the entries and I learned a lot just from considering his comments with the artwork. He is good.

I’ve learned from this experience to appreciate even more the importance of, and impact of, a really well crafted and appropriate book jacket. What I’m thinking now is that I should find myself a professional e-book cover designer and start talking about deals for a three-jacket-order. It’s going to cost me (and realistically I can’t ever see me making any money out of my books to compensate for this outlay), but a) I think that my books are worth it b) they could give me the edge that I need to get noticed and c) I like the idea of having professionally and sympathetically created jackets for my series. OK it’s going to be considerably more than a ha’porth of tar but so what? I die a few hundred pounds poorer. Big deal.