Saturday, 4 October 2014

Bookshops? What bookshops?

My local town doesn’t have an independent bookshop. My local town doesn’t have any kind of bookshop. Outside of the supermarkets (and we have lots of them), the only shop you can buy books in is a very small branch of WH Smith. Anything bigger and I’d have to drive to Crewe or Chester, or venture further afield to Liverpool or Manchester.

So I’m shopping today on the High Street. We have Rymans and Boots and Costa – even Marks & Spencer. But no book shop. I decide to have a wander around WH Smith just to have a look at what’s on the shelves these days.

Best-sellers – Sylvia Day and EL James. Fifty shades of erotica and more. Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl (I hated that book) in several different incarnations. Scandinavian crime and lots of romance and women’s fiction. I move towards the back of the shop, falling into old habits of hunting out the science fiction and fantasy. There used to be lots of it – now we’re down to a couple of shelves and if you don’t like Stephen King or Robert Jordan’s 300 books of the Wheel of Time or Terry Pratchett, then you might as well move along. Where are all the mid-list authors? The up-and-coming authors I used to meet at conventions? How are they ever going to sell if nobody buys their books? How is anybody going to buy their books if they don’t know they even exist?

I don’t have a dog in the Amazon v Hachette fight. I don’t want to see Amazon take over the world either. I’m happy reading paperbacks or ebooks, from both traditional and self-published authors – I don’t care; if the story is good, I’ll read it. But who dictates what books are on the shelves of WH Smith? The big publishers can offer the best discounts, pay for front-of-store promotions for their star authors, while the rest languish in obscurity. I don’t want to be offered a selection of what the people with the most money think I should be reading or buying. Why isn’t it about art anymore?

At least Amazon offers me a (relatively) unbiased selection of books by all authors. Yes, I have to sift through rubbish. Yes, I have to filter through whatever Amazon decides to show me first. I’m sure the big publishers pay for virtual shelf-space here too. But at least I can get beyond that and find books I want to read and not what the big boys tell me I should read.

I don’t think I’ll bother with WH Smith again.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Ratline....

New cover! Book should be out by the end of the year, hopefully. What do you think?


Friday, 12 September 2014

Audiobooking - Part 2

I blogged about starting out on my audiobook journey in June 2014. On ACX – Amazon’s audiobook programme which hosts the entire process – I agreed with my narrator that he would deliver the first 15 minutes of my thriller Hamelin’s Child by the end of July 2014 and the rest of the book by the end of the year. 

Read more ...

Monday, 1 September 2014

Those punch-the-air moments....

Does anybody else get them? Those moments when you're slogging on writing your WIP, making your characters do awful things and have even more awful things happen to them ...

... when suddenly your conscious brain disconnects from your fingers, you type furiously for a few minutes, them sit back and read what you've written for the first time ...

... and punch the air, yelling YES At the top of your voice. At which point your spouse/family/colleagues fall off their chair in surprise, or run into the room wondering what's happened. Are you ill? Do you need help? You shake your head, smiling ...

... because you've written what may be the best few lines of prose ever committed to a computer. Your subconscious has kicked in and boy, has it delivered on its promise.

Or else your subconscious has made good on a bargain it made with you way back - maybe in the previous novel (it's a series). You had a deal. You agreed to let it keep a throwaway and apparently meaningless line. You argued with your editor that it had to stay there. And in return your subconscious promised you that the payoff would be good.

And it is. That throwaway line makes sense now and adds a whole new dimension to your character or plot.

And you kiss your subconscious and promise faithfully never to ignore it again.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Leaving Reviews for Indie Authors

Reblogged from http://authorssmith.com/

This has always been a topic close to my heart and this post says it all so succintly. For independent authors, the internet - the book sites (Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, even GoodReads) are our store front, our bookshelves. And reviews are what give us space on a virtual shelf somewhere in the vicinity of the shop itself, and not deep in the bowels of the basement:

You know that friend who’s always pleading harassing  asking you to leave them a book review on Amazon? The one whose book you read? Possibly you even got the book for free? Okay, so ME for some of you.

This is just a little tutorial/explanation of why it is so important and how to do it. One more encouragement to get you over there, leave the review, and drop the guilt. :)

First of all, is one more review really important? YES! Unless the book has over 100 reviews, it’s important. And the author checks every day on occasion to see if there is a new review. And it really makes the author’s day to see a new review (unless it is 2 stars or less and then they feel kind of bummed).

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Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Openings

It was like some corny made-for-television movie: Bad guy gets released from prison with just a small bag of personal stuff. Close up of the gate banging shut, as he lights up a cigarette and turns his face up to the sun, smelling freedom at last. And there’s a car waiting for him… 

But the gate did bang. He did light up – the novelty of having a cigarette lighter again was enough for that. It was sunny, if barely a couple of degrees above freezing, and fuck did he appreciate being outside after three very long and boring months.

And there was a car waiting for him.

Friday, 6 June 2014

On Audiobooking

Audiobooks have been around for a long time. I remember listening to them myself on cassette as a child. My own daughter adored (and still has) many books on CD and she used to lie in bed at night and let them talk her to sleep. She always complained that she’d heard the start of one book so many times, she knew it by heart – but she still had no idea how the story ended!

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