Tuesday, 26 August 2014

When writing takes a back seat to a dog.

I try to write, I really do. At my last sitting a put down 2,500 words, but that was three (four?) days ago now and I haven't been able to get back to it at all.

Animals and the Spanish

Animals are partly to blame. You see, I live in a country where animals are treated merely as a commodity, with very little love shown to them if any. I live in Spain, a country famous for its bull fighting and bull running and numerous other 'traditional activities' which usually mean an animal has to suffer to please the people.


In the small region where I live (La Rioja, pop: 320,000), 5,000 dogs are abandoned each summer when families take off for three months vacation, the dog being nothing more than a costly nuisance. If it is there when they come back, they might even take it in again.  Over 300,000 pets are abandoned in Spain EVERY year, the worst country for abandonment in the European Union. After 10 days, Spanish law says they must be killed.


Me with Pitbulls ELTON (L) and Rasta (R)
Elton cuddles up to my wife
What's this to do with my writing? Well, due to my love for animals and in an attempt to make up for the Spanish indifference to their animals, I recently went to the local charitable dogs' home, (AsociaciĆ³n Protectora de Animales en La Rioja) with my wife to see if we could help at all. The amazing volunteers there collect dogs from the local government killing houses and attempt to give them a longer life at the shelter, trying to have them adopted by people who care. We sponsored two Pitbulls, simply because they told us NOBODY will have anything to do with them due to the negative publicity re the breed, and because they were two of the friendliest dogs I have ever met. It means that we now drive the 25 mins to the shelter each day and take the two dogs out for a walk. They love it, and so do we.

Own dogs

This is on top of my own two dogs. Nina the Dalmatian was bought in Spain and - due to inconsiderate breeding - is 100% deaf. She is now 12 years old and doing fine, capable of understanding at least 15 hand signals. Adah is a 9 month old German Shepherd we bought in La Rioja. Today we confirmed that she has severe Dysplasia in both hips and needs an operation. She is in so much pain and I feared we were going to lose her. Dysplasia is very common in Spain, as most people just breed any dog to make a profit with little thought for the welfare of the dog.

Adah (L) and Nina (R)
I'll never BUY another dog in Spain as I can't trust the people to care enough to breed healthy animals, but I will go to the shelter and adopt dogs from there. If I had space, I'd take in Elton and Rasta tomorrow.

As for my writing, it seems a tad irrelevant right now.

Monday, 21 April 2014

Foundation Monitoring

As I prepare for the release of book three of The Rozzers series, I like to keep an eye on what's happening with the previous two books.

Passive Marketing

As you may know, End of the Road is permanently free, and links through to the second book in the series, Cops Don't Run (0.99c). That is all the marketing I do, nothing more. This I call passive marketing (it is visible on my FB page, blog etc). I don't do active marketing (or very little, and only occasionally). If only I had the time!

So, how are the books doing?


End of the Road has been downloaded nearly 7,000 times in the last 16 months, and has never been off the #1 spot in various categories (that's over 100 copies per week). Success? I think so, although obviously I don't earn anything from it, but then that is not my intention with this book.

End of the Road on Amazon UK (today)


Since Cops Don't Run was published in Nov 2013, it has sold 250 copies (approx 10 per week). Again, it is not actively promoted. For the first few months I was selling one copy per day. The last few months that has doubled to two copies per day. The majority of these sales are conversions from book one readers (they liked what they read in the free book and decided to go on and buy book 2) - this was my marketing plan all along.

Conversion rate

The interesting thing is that as downloads for book one show a slight decline over the last few months, purchases of book two seem to be increasing. In January, the conversion rate was 13.2 copies of EotR for every one copy of CdR bought. That rate has steadily improved, and is currently at 6.1 free copies downloaded for every one copy purchased.




My mum, and #1 fan
As actual sales have steadily increased since January (now selling 2.2 copies per day, up from 1.2 in Jan), it would seem to be a good time to publish the third part, as I believe that the 250 buyers of book 2 will want to buy book 3 as well. If I can get them all to buy it on the release date, the book should get pushed high up the charts.

To achieve this, I plan to use the preorder option with Amazon and Smashwords, and of course announce its availability on my ever-increasing newsletter, Twitter, FB and blog.

I will also tell my mum, as she tells everybody and anybody back in my home town!

Saturday, 23 November 2013

It's great to feel like an author!

There is no greater feeling than that of finally beginning to feel like an author after almost a decade of hard, almost impossible writing. I initially began to feel the first stirrings of being an author when I published my first book, End of the Road. I felt a tad more like one when I finally published the follow up, Cops Don't Run.

Now, when I look at the two books together with their amazing covers, I positively glow with pride.  It's great to feel like an author!!

Writing & publishing was the easy part

So you've just hit the publish button for that book you've been labouring over for the last God-knows how many years. Now you can sit back, smile and relax, and just wait for the money to flow in.

Well, I certainly recommend relaxing and smiling, you have jolly-well earned it. Writing a quality book, having it edited and proof-read, and finally formatting it for Amazon and Smashwords is no easy task and you deserve a rest. But now the work really begins.


Firstly, your book is sitting amongst 1.5 million other books. It's most probably completely invisible, only findable by people you send its way through active or passive marketing. What you need to do is ensure that book and the information presented with it is not only up-to-date, but grabs the reader's attention before they click on another book presented below yours. I am amazed just how many books are sitting on Amazon without these basic requirements. Here are a few ideas of things that you should be doing after you have published your book.

Additional images

Me at 24yrs of age
Amazon displays an image of your book. Did you know you can add additional images to sit alongside your book cover? Images grab attention, and somebody glancing at your book image might be about to move on from it until they see a second, smaller image with it. Then they'll click on it. This may lead to further clicks and keep the reader on your book page. That is what you want - the longer they stay, the more likely they are to buy your book. To give you an idea of what I am talking about, my first book (End of the Road) has an image of me as a 24yr old soldier with it. Why? Because it is a true account of a particular day when I was that young military man. What better way is there to read it than with an image of the man in your mind. Take a look here. Can you see, just below the main book image, two smaller images? Go on, I know you want to click on it. Stay on that page, because I'm going to talk about the text underneath the additional picture next.

'Book description'

Once the viewer has clocked your additional pictures their eye will glance down at what you have to offer. This is another chance to seize them or lose them. The Book Description field as a place where you can add some impact to your page. The first thing you see on my page is a review, in bold, yelling out the qualities of my book. This is immediately followed by About the Book, where I mention that the book hit #1 in its category. Getting the picture now? My book is growing in value. I've also added a warning about the content, as some people are offended by strong language and may paste a negative review. I have given them fair warning.

Beneath the warning is a teaser for the book, followed by a handful of other reviews. All you need to do to add such details is log into your Amazon Author Central account, select your book page followed by your book. The Product Description page is where I added the above details. Scrolling down the page gives you additional fields, such as From the Author and About the Author. Again, add some detail to these sections as they will appear on the page and give you more chance to trap the viewer. Back to the books sales page, you'll see mine appear beneath Customers who Bought this Item also Bought... Hopefully, I have created sufficient interest in the viewer that they won't click on one of these other books, choosing instead to skip over them to read more about me.

Below these are the book details (including any category it is in). Again, if you can be top of a category this will help the viewer to become a buyer. Below this are the all-important reviews, creating another prompt for the viewer to buy (get some reviews if you don't have any!!).


Beneath the reviews is a section called Book Extras from the Shelfari Community. More selling space! To add this, you need to visit Shelfari, claim the book and add the details. Others can also add to this information if they so wish. Shelfari is now owned by Amazon and will come into use more and more.

'More about the Author' page

The final space for you to keep the viewers attention is a link to your Amazon author's page. Make sure you have updated this with links to your Twitter, blog, newsletter etc. Click on the link and note the additional photos included here too.

Once you've done all of that, you'll need to do the same for the other Author Central's you have (I do it for AuthorCentral.com and AuthorCentral.co.uk, my two main markets.)


It's not over yet. You still need to update the book on any other sites that you have listed you and your book, eg Authors Database, Goodreads, Pinterest, Facebook page and your blog and or website. If you don't have them, I suggest getting on with it right now!

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