Monthly Archives: March 2015

Self-Publishing – Come on Amazon play fair

So I self-published nearly three months ago with a 46-page short story, followed up six weeks later with a 40-page short story. I am still feeling my way around in the dark and trying to make connections. Build a brand, find time to write, edit, etc… you know what I’m saying – nothing I haven’t said before.

So the difficulties of self-publishing are evident. Who buys the work of a self-published author? Well, initially it is friends and family, certainly with book one. Whether they like your style of writing and assuming you haven’t written a pile of crock determines whether they move onto book two. Yes, they buy at first because they know you but they don’t have to leave a review. Assuming you know they bought it, they can if so inclined make up a million and one excuses as to why they haven’t left one. The best one and also the one that has the ring of truth is finding the time in our hectic schedules to do it.

This post isn’t about whether they left a review or didn’t, I appreciate that they supported me enough to buy it. The review is the part that boosts my flagging confidence when all the hard work doesn’t seem to be paying off.

I discovered this week that I had two reviews left for me that were taken down by Amazon, actually they didn’t appear. One was by a friend – she preferred book two and wished to leave a review for this one. My sister also left a review. I contact Amazon to ask why these reviews hadn’t surfaced, and they told me it was because the reviewers knew me! (I know exclamation marks should be used sparingly, and I will try to limit it to just this one.)

I know Amazon want to try to maintain the authenticity of reviews. But when someone has purchased a copy of this book, regardless whether they know the author or not they surely have the right as a customer to leave a review. It doesn’t mean their review is fake, or biased. I could understand this when someone leaves a review without it being a verified purchase.

Come on Amazon be fair, until an independent author has established themselves the majority of their reviews will be by people who know them. As they network they will make online friends within the writing community, do these reviews also count as being unacceptable? Trying to get noticed out there is hard enough without silly rules to make it harder. Amazon I have brought new customers your way, ones that otherwise would not have made that purchase. I know the sales that I have generated, the 30% you take is a mere drop in the ocean to you. If you add the sales of all the Indie authors around the world together and consider their fan base then these “friends and family members” are bringing you in a sizeable revenue.

Each sale I make and each review I receive brings a smile to my face and makes the process worthwhile. So come on Amazon please don’t deny my right to these reviews and the customer’s right to leave them.


As Dreams Are Made On By Maria Gibbs

Thank you to Hannah for this lovely review.

Echoes In An Empty Room

Matty Taylor: a beautiful young woman is starting out in her new life with her husband. Plagued by visions that seem all too real she seeks advice from the Gypsy at the local fair.

Donald Taylor: cannot believe his luck when Matty agrees to marry him. A methodical, down to earth, man who requires irrefutable evidence to believe in the existence of anything.

Thomas Trevelyan: Enigmatic and exciting but with an agenda of his own.
Matty is pulled from her life in the 21st Century into a frightening dream world where Thomas Trevelyan rescues her from a crowd of angry peasants and spirits her off to his secluded house in the woods.

Frightened when he cannot wake Matty from her sleep Donald has to start challenging the way he thinks in order to get her back.
If Thomas can win her heart, he will be a step closer to obtaining…

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Pay it forward for authors – revised

I have been playing around with the idea of authors helping each other ever since I embarked on my second full-time job at the beginning of January. Self-published author with no contacts, no experience in marketing, in fact, no one but myself to do everything that needs doing.
I have had some advice from some kind, helpful authors who have already trodden the well-worn path. I have joined many groups on Facebook and Google+ some of which I have enjoyed being part of or reading comments on even though pressed for time. There are wonderful review groups, groups to chat about what you have read and all things book. On some of these groups, you can’t share links to your work, or you can occasionally share and understandably so. These groups are about so much more. Are we really trying to sell to each other though? Is another author our main target audience? Yes, of course, authors read, it is part of the job description but do they want to be inundated with links to other authors books?
I have approached reviewers, some of whom have kindly left me a review; some haven’t responded as they have a backload of requests. Some have put me on their lists and for all of those I am grateful. Despite the many hours spent finding reviewers, doing the social media rounds and trying to come up with visually pleasing boards to advertise my books I am still struggling to get noticed. Of course, it is only early days, and I certainly wasn’t expecting to make my fortune but I do need to do something. I need to engage my creativity to find a solution for the struggle to spread the word, not only for me but other authors too.
I had an idea before of authors buying and reviewing each other’s work (not new or original, not claiming to have come up with a revolutionary concept) on a scale that they find acceptable. But it would seem that this isn’t necessarily the way forward. It is hard to be critical of another’s work, and some authors don’t reciprocate.
So I have adapted the idea somewhat and have set up a Facebook group. The idea is that you post a link to your book(s) and then share someone else’s link on Facebook, Twitter or any other form of social media that you wish to use. The one you choose may not be a genre that you read personally. You have a wide range of friends, who will have varying tastes in books. They may enjoy having access to books that otherwise may not be brought to their attention, especially those of a self-published, indie author.
I don’t suggest you share every link by every author; you will lose Facebook friends rapidly if you do that. Just as you share theirs, they will share yours. The novel, short story, novella that you poured your heart and soul into will have the opportunity to reach a wider following.
Come and join us, help the little group grow and hopefully take your writing to a whole new audience.

Spring & writing

Spring is on the way, the daffodils and crocuses have started to spring from the dark soil reaching their petals and leaves towards the sunlight. The greyness of winter is starting to recede as the colours of spring cascade all around us like a kaleidoscope. The sun’s warm rays touch our skin as we peel back the layers of clothing that have shrouded us. As though by magic people have started to appear out on the streets, lingering to talk instead of racing back home to escape the cold. The upward tilt of lips are visible, washing is starting to appear on clothes lines, the joyful sound of children’s laughter as they’re allowed to play outside once again.

It hasn’t been a particularly harsh winter, but it is great to know that the worst of it is behind us; although we will still have some cold, some wet and some grey days ahead. The mornings and evenings are getting lighter and getting a glimpse of blue skies, and the sun makes everyone happier.

The tree outside my window is still bare and barren; the green buds haven’t started to form yet. That will be the next thing to look forward to as the abundance of leaves burst out all over the spindly branches until it is covered breaking up the drab concrete building that forms its backdrop.

It will be time soon to head out with notepad and pen, find a beautiful spot and fill the pages with words in the old-fashioned way. Instead of cooped up inside, with blanket and laptop, eyes straining from too many hours in front of the screen. There will also be fewer distractions, no temptation to flick between social media pages in between writing. So once again my writing will enter a new phase; my right hand will ache after a satisfactory writing session. I will breathe that sigh of relief in the warm, clean air smiling at the unrivalled beauty of nature. It’s funny I never get quite the same feeling after a successful writing session on the laptop as I do when I use pen and paper.

Certainly a reason to smile.