Progress Update

Progress update as described in April 2015

I have not been updating all the sub-pages of this site as frequently as I would like. Still I’ll have some time soon to devote to writing and the supporting effort.

On that theme I have joined Readers In The Know as another way of trying to reach more readers, especially when I have offers for books going like the ongoing Smashwords deals I have although in this case the primary links are to Amazon.

To the point of the blog – updates to current writing progress:

An Agent’s Prize – the third book in what I’m calling the Demise series – after a long stall this has finally got going again. I have had to sort out the plot’s timeline to make it work and drop a major scene idea which was forcing to many other scenes.

Intervention – Another stalled process that has got going again. This is the second part of The Observer Series. I was making it too complex, so some cutting and altering needed to be done before progress could be made. That revision has mostly been done and further chapters added

Collection One – Not far off finishing, but in the put away and think about it for a while. Not happy with the proposed cover nor the title. Actually, not totally convinced by a couple of the stories. – Editor’s note – remains unfinished and uncollected. See Coming Soon

Revolt – No progress, this may be put away for a while

To The Survivors – The Sequel – Has been started but I have a conflict in where it starts with several alternate ideas and three opening chapters. The biggest problem has always remained, where does it go and from when, till when? The original spans twenty years or more.


There are other snippets and starts but nothing definite. For those of you who have heard snippets from me – I can’t say when or how these will evolve.

Enough blogging – there is lots of writing to do as well as promoting existing works, setting pricing, and not checking sales

Smashwords Deals

I no longer publish through Smashwords

To celebrate the forthcoming launch of Landscape I have some coupon codes via Smashwords to grab my existing books at special discounts for a limited time only!

Simply add the coupon code at check out

An Agent’s Demise – AC79Z – Special Offer with the code $1

An Agent’s Rise – WT3H – Special Offer with the code $1

To The Survivors – BN59T – Special Offer with the code 50% off

The Persuasive Man – YE67W – Special Offer with the code $1

The Observer Series-Part One-The World of Fives – LP55E – Special Offer with the code $1

Creating Editions


Editor’s Note: In creating editions my books are now published on Kindle or via Amazon for all editions

I am trying to decide if I should create different versions of my latest books to attract more types of readers as not everyone has a Kindle or other e-Reader, nor wants one.

For my first book, An Agent’s Demise, I have Hardback, Paperback, Kindle, and Smashwords versions. The ePub is also on iBooks and B&N therefore on any e-reader like the Nook. I am in the process of creating an Audio version via ACX.

For my second, To The Survivors, I dispensed with the Hardback, iBook and B&N but there are Kindle and Smashwords versions. The book is on ACX but I have had no takers for auditions.

For book three, The Persuasive Man, there are Kindle and paperback versions although I changed paperback format size. There is no Smashwords version.

For the two latest books, An Agent’s Rise and The World of Fives, there are only kindle versions.

All books are in English, (UK not USA,Australian, Canadian or other versions) although there are some dialogue elements in other languages. I have looked at creating translated versions via Babelcube and Fiverr, with no success so far.

So instead of writing new books should I take some time to create the missing Smashwords and Paperback versions? I used Lulu for my initial outings. Then I look at the downloads numbers from Smashwords or the sales through Lulu and think it is not worth the effort. Will audio versions be any more successful? Would translated versions be welcomed in non-English speaking parts of the world?

So instead I have written a blog about the decision to be taken. In the end it will come down to mood and how the creative juices are flowing or not. Now it’s time to fire up Scrivener and see where the mood takes me.

The Sequel Approaches

I’m nearly there. Over eighteen months since my first book launched onto and unsuspecting and oblivious world, its sequel is nearly ready. My other two books are completely different stories.This prompts a range of thoughts about sequels also prompted by the discussion on Closing Time by Joseph Heller a sort of sequel to Catch-22.

Closing Time feels very different, more surreal and fantastical than Catch-22 and I have to admit that I did not find it as cynical or amusing. Comparisons can be harsh. What of other sequels some are like planned series of books. In a series there is a massive story to plot and unwind whether it’s Harry Potter (seven books) or Songs of Ice and Fire / Game of Thrones (also at 7).

I have been reading the Reacher series which is now I believe up to 16 of which I have read fourteen. They seem less planned than a typical series but were they unplanned sequels. In my own case, I did not intend that there should be a sequel, it wasn’t my intention. Writing it proved challenging for many months as I could not get a plot going that I liked. It will be for the eventual readers to judge whether I have succeeded. Of course I do not have a professional publisher wanting a return on their investment waiting for the next instalment. My investment is one of time and interest, rather than financial gain. If I sell half as many copies I would be happy but that won’t pay for the editing. So, should I save my money and perhaps not save my readers (if I get any) from some of my worst grammatical errors?

Then there are web-site pages, adverts, messages, to plan and complete. KDP forms to fill in, pricing to set. To Kindle Select or nor. Should there be a Smashwords edition and what about the hard copy paperback or hardback where Lulu helped with the first three books. Shall I take the time and effort to publish physically?

Then there are the readers who have asked for a sequel almost since day one. Now, it’s nearly here I am full of nervousness about releasing it. Far more than my previous efforts. I have delayed and prevaricated. I have adjusted and amended, moved sentences, paragraphs and even whole chapters. I have added and deleted whole chunks and changed plot direction several times. I have gone back and checked with the first book. Are there contradictions inconsistencies? Does the timeline work? Some Beta reader comments – sorry about missing your train-station Trevor. That’s good in one part. For Trevor it was engrossing will it be for others. One recent review of my second book described it as boring. That was not a reaction I had received before. I hope this is not boring. Should I add more sex and violence be more/less graphic? Too much sex, not enough violence, bad language, what should the balance be? Have I checked my other facts, the historical backdrop?

After all this I want my readers to enjoy the story, to lose themselves for a few hours in a make believe fictional world but with a clear base of recent history. I want them to care about the characters, care enough to keep reading. Perhaps encourage others to read the story; demand another sequel?

We’ll see. Now is it time to press the publish button? Not quite, one more check on the book but I can click the blog publish.

My Daughter’s Acknowledgement

My daughter’s acknowledgement was written in 2014

I’m in trouble. It’s not an unusual state of affairs when it comes to family matters. This one concerns acknowledgements in my second book – To The Survivors.

It seems I gave an acknowledgement in the closing pages to my family except my daughter. At the time she had not read the book, but she has now. Good news is that she liked it, bad news, she noticed her omission. Sorry!

You of course helped and supported me and now you have a dedicated blog to acknowledge the fact. She is of course busy with her studies so she has not had time to read the books in the publishing time frame. Quite right study first, Dad’s requests later.

More generally, how many readers actually read the preface/front matter or the closing pages after the end of the story. Kindle defaults settings seem to start at the first formal chapter unless the publisher is careful to change the settings to start at the start. The start of a normal book is of course the Cover. Many writers like me add in quotes, extracts or other starting material. For my first book I added a cast list but I now realise many readers will not have seen it. No wonder they found it complex. Until I changed the settings to start at the start. Of course many writers have shown family trees or lists. For one of my new books I even have a web site to give the back story and hopefully generate some initial interest.

For acknowledgements it’s harder. I normally skip the long lists found in many books of all those that have helped with producing the book. I keep it down to under a page. Then there are the links to other books, and frequently a sample chapter. I have not produced a sample chapter, but I have added a brief description of other books by me.

Some writers have added reviews from newspapers or web sites to their introductions alongside links to web sites, Facebook, Twitter etc. all hoping that one sale will lead to another.

So acknowledgements are important alongside all the other bits either side of the story. I must remember to read them myself and not forget anyone. Thank you for your help, Tasha. Now, can you read the others!

The Blog I Should Be Writing

The blog I should be writing was written in 2014

I should be writing a blog. A blog that allows me to link to my books in some way or adds to the greater good (IMHO) with a commentary on passing affairs.

Yesterday, I had an idea about writing one describing the reasons why I have given up playing golf – perhaps another day.

I could add more on a whole variety of subjects that I would like to write about, Scottish Independence, the NSA, more on the hacking trial, even the disappearance of the Malaysian Airlines flight. Lots of things to talk about. Instead what have I done? Editing of my sequel to An Agent’s Demise (managed to get a link in somewhere). I have lost track of how many times I have read and re-read sections, trying to hone the plot, justify character’s actions and get rid of the allowed for aloud stupid mistakes. I of course have written about this before, here, but, now I have an editor. I hope I have also learned some rules even though some go against what I was taught years ago.

For example starting sentences with conjunctions like and and but is apparently allowed (not aloud). I was always taught to use two spaces after a full stop (not a period – sorry USA it’s called English for a reason) but apparently that means I am a dinosaur left over from the typewriter age. Professional publishing with its typefaces never used two spaces anyway, allegedly. Now we have serif and sans serif fonts to worry about. With an ebook the publisher has no control over what font the reader uses on whatever screen resolution, in whatever colour (It has a u in it WordPress, Goodreads, et al) or not is used. The quick brown fox Microsoft Word test is always fun in different fonts.

I’m rambling again, I still have another five chapters to edit in An Agent’s Rise before a Beta Reader test then an edit or three. I’m also waiting the return of To The Survivors from a professional edit of the MS. Then I have The Persuasive Man to send off and The World of Fives. I think it’s ready, having incorporated some Beta reader feedback. Maybe one more read through, then I’ll have to start Part Two of the series. I was again asked if I would write a sequel to To The Survivors. I am still not sure, I have to have an idea for the sequel, where does it go? The story I mean, I’m in need of inspiration.

Then maybe in a month or so I may be ready to publish my fourth and fifth books, different genres once more. Cover design, formatting, uploading (Smashwords I’m looking at you) then marketing. I was not going to do any links but here I am. A page of non-blog rambles with links to all my current and next two books neatly embedded. Anyone would think I had done that deliberately. Now where’s those badly used discarded golf clubs, I hear there are good prices for scrap metal!

Reaching Out Overseas – October 2013

Reaching Out Overseas from October 2013.

A frequent concern of new and existing authors/writers, including me, is how to get readers to read our books preferably having purchased a copy from any retailer. The endless methodologies for marketing have been discussed in lots of blogs and forums. The independent and self-pub writers are just as desperate as mainstream publishing houses but without their advertising budgets. Of course those budgets are limited both in value and access and talking to some properly published authors the ability to access those funds is limited to an elite few.

I have previously commented that publishing houses seem to be little more than glorified marketing companies. Despite the constant streams of abuse about how poorly edited/written self-pub books are mainstream books still suffer from the usual round of problems. David Jason biography in a Bridget Jones novel anyone?

But I digress, this is not a rant about that endless argument over quality, the cost of editing etc, this is supposed to be about one aspect – getting overseas customers.

My books have not been translated into non-English languages, they haven’t even been translated into US English, they are in what we British like to call proper English – no comments please about grammar, typos, dialects, etc – actually comment all you want. There is a very large English (in it’s various forms) speaking/reading population, so how can I access these readers? My various retail outlets, Amazon, Smashwords, Lulu provide the self-published author with lots of sales statistics and each time I look – it’s a habit I should break.

I can see where my books are selling or more frequently not. I now know that Australian and New Zealand sales are included in, Canada has its own site as does India. Regardless of where the sale is registered how can I reach these readers and potential buyers? Is there something in my stories I should include much as the BBC include American actors in its dramas so that they can sell to the USA? How do I generate more readers in these countries? won’t even list reviews from other sites and those other sites only show reviews from after the description. It shows the book as un-reviewed.

Surely, a review is a review! A star rating is a star rating, but on all the other Amazon sites the book appears as unread, un-rated and un-reviewed regardless of it’s sales or reception elsewhere in the world. Amazon are losing out as well, after all a sale for me, is a sale for them.

For the readers out there (ther must be some) do you look for a setting, a scene or a character from your own country that might make the story more appealing? It doesn’t matter to me where a book is set although it might limit the scope of the story. For a character the main concern for me would be dialogue or cultural references, but that can apply in country just as much as overseas. Is there any point to running an advert in those countries. trying to generate sales or should I have to wait for a groundswell of US and UK reviews to attract attention? Yes, social media can spread the word but there are lots of words being spread in a very thin layer.

Do I have an answer? No. I include scenes and settings in locations that fit the story that I want to write. My third book, The Persuasive Man, has multiple international locations and extended scenes in Honk Kong, Dubai, and Caribbean locations along with New York and for non-English France and Shanghai. It’s not a travelogue but a tale of dodgy business. My other books vary, the first, An Agent’s Demise, has several international locations, whereas my second To The Survivors barely has any. Excluding free downloads my second is the best seller worldwide. Why is that, it is very UK focused in its story? Perhaps that is what attracts it to other English speaking parts of the world.

The whole conundrum of what attracts readers continues to baffle me and the tens of thousands of new writers out there. Overseas sales just adds to the bafflement.

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