Speak out at your peril, or so it would seem!

While catching up with what my Facebook writer friends were saying today, one post caught my attention.

It appears that an individual of my acquaintance has been deliberately targeted on Goodreads by what he refers to as a troll, despite the fact that he knows the person involved. Apparently his nemesis has systematically rated all of his books with one star, in the hope of reducing the said writer’s rating within Goodreads.

Not knowing the relationship between the protagonists I do not know why he has been subjected to such an attack. However, my friend does tend to sound off with his forthright views – he’s well know for it. Maybe that is why he is being attacked. Don’t get me wrong here, there is absolutely nothing wrong with being vocal, after all its part of freedom of speech, a right we all share. But for him to be deliberately attacked in this way is just plain wrong! According to one other writer I know, our friend is not the only one this particular individual has targeted on Goodreads. He has done it to two others as well.

While we all know that Amazon is loath to do anything about their trolls, surely Goodreads having been informed of the situation by someone other than the target will at the very least censure the attacker? I wonder if Goodreads or Amazon come to that, would merely stand by choosing to do nothing if the victim were an author belonging to the stable of one of the big six publishing houses – I think not…

If you live in the UK, grow old at your peril!!!

Welcome to the new fascist state, formerly known as Great Britain.

Two highly disturbing news articles appeared in Google news today. I seriously doubt either will appear on the BBC 6pm news anytime soon:

Pensioners could work for their pensions


Doctors told not to achieve death targets

Don’t just pass the links by, read them for yourselves!

After spending a lifetime working, paying taxes and contributing into a pension fund, it would seem that the current English government has determined that old age pensioners are now a burden on the state.

To say what they are proposing is completely disgusting and unacceptable is an understatement. While the majority of the latest crop of politicians were still in short pants, it was mine and my parents generation who were working 8-12 hour days keeping the country running.

The extremely privileged individual appearing in the first article should be taken out and shot for even contemplating his proposal to make the older generation work for their pension.

As for the second article concerning the not widely known death targets set in hospitals here in the UK to free up beds, it beggars belief!!!

My parent’s generation fought a war to end fascism forever. Now it appears it is quietly on the rise once more, this time here in England. The trouble is that the elderly and the poor in this country are easy targets for Cameron and his cronies to exploit.

Instead of taking their frustration over the national debt out on we who can’t fight back, they should be focusing their attention on encouraging businesses to employ the young. By putting the next generation into proper paying jobs, taxes for the government and profit for companies will be generated.

We may be old Cameron, but think on if you want our vote at the next election. We’ve worked all our lives. Retirement and being taken care of by the State is our reward. One other thing for you to consider Cameron – neither Adolf Hitler or Benito Mussolini lived into their old age…

Is the writing is on the wall?

The United Kingdom’s largest retail book chain, Waterstones is about to do a deal with Amazon to sell Kindle ereaders after its boss initially rejected the idea. Waterstones

The UK’s other major book seller, Border’s, finally closed its doors across the land, having failed to accept that ebooks were on the rise. Perhaps James Daunt, the managing director of Waterstones had a change of heart, fearing his chain may go the same way, or maybe he saw the writing on the wall for physical books – who knows?

Here in the UK, ebook sales are steadily on the rise. In fact, depending on who you speak to, or what paper you read, ebooks now outsell conventional paperbacks, but don’t quote me on that.

Given the current debate going on at present over the number of Kindles that are freezing – mainly third generation units, and Amazon’s statement that while they expect the product to last three years, in reality most barely make it past eleven months after sale, begs the question why Waterstones have agreed to sell Amazon’s ereader. Why not another brand like Barnes & Noble’s Nook, Or Apple’s equivalent, to name two?

There are an awful lot of totally dissatisfied Amazon customers here in the UK at the moment. Most were initially happy when Amazon UK replaced the frozen units, honoring the one year replacement guarantee. The trouble is that when your replacement dies, you find that its warranty was only good for ninety days, not a year.

If you have one of the original Kindles, the kind with no keyboard or touchscreen technology, you should have no trouble.

Here’s hoping Waterstones don’t come to regret their managing director’s decision.

Writing World

I know I’ve banged on about this in the past, but entering the world of the written word is not for the faint hearted. No matter which path you choose, be it traditional or self-publishing, the hills you climb and the inevitable obstacles you negotiate your way around are the same for either choice.
Looking at it from the viewpoint of someone who self-publishes, there are no gatekeepers, agents and copy editors’ etcetera to lean on, nor any to take what you have written off your hands and hopefully turn it into a winner. How the product of all those long months you spent conceiving that book, and whether or not you use a professional editor as well as utilizing the talents of someone versed in the art of setting the manuscript up for publishing, or doing it all yourself, in the end is entirely up to you. As for which self-publishing platform to use – talk to other writers. Each platform has their good and bad points. Like most things in life, which one you choose is down to personal choice.
Once you have published a book you will inevitably come to the attention of a group of people who one writer friend of mine describes as Grammar Nazis. Some are private individuals; others are involved within the literary world. These are the kinds of people who will argue black and blue over how, why and when something as simple as the comma or the semi-colon should be used. You will also be subjected to all kinds of criticism by people from different walks of life, some constructive, some not so. Are you beginning to see why I said at the top of this piece that writing is not for the faint hearted yet?
You will also enter the world of book advertising, mostly via sites like Facebook, Twitter, AuthorsDen and Goodreads to name a few. Try not to spam. Get yourself a blog. That is the best place for you to advertise your work. Ensure your blog is linked to as many other sites as is possible. Mainly use Facebook to talk with your potential readers.
One thing you will find totally inexplicable is how your book will be received by the general public. From where I stand I firmly believe it’s all down to the topic. Above all else, don’t stop writing. With each book you turn out, hopefully the quality will improve. Believe me when I tell you that the world of writing is very definitely a tough place to dip your toe into.
Finally, a lot has been said this year about the quality or rather the lack of it, in the vast majority of self-published ebooks. While that may be true, there are some great stories appearing of late. Would I be put off if the author of the book I was interested in misplaced a comma, or maybe missed a quotation mark at the beginning or end of a dialogue by one of the book’s characters? No not really.
What does put me off is bad spelling. These days there is no excuse as most writing software packages have a spellchecker and some form of dictionary and thesaurus, together with a grammar checker. While on the subject of spelling, being an Englishman I use the original version –British English, not American English. From time to time I see complaints that I can’t spell. Without exception they are all from readers in the US. I apologise for using the original version of the language folks – it’s a force of habit.
Unfortunately many potential readers still fail to use the ‘See Inside’ option which most online sites have. Instead of simply clicking the buy button, take a moment and look at the first few pages. That way you can check out a sample of the text before you buy or simply move on. Just because a book has an attractive cover doesn’t necessarily equate to a good story inside.

Writing is an illness?

So, science has just worked out that anyone who shows any kind of creativity is suffering from a mental disorder. Where do they get these notions from? 
In a recent article on the BBC:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-19959565  entitled “Creativity closely entwined with mental illness” it was pointed out that writers have a higher risk of anxiety and bipolar disorders, schizophrenia, unipolar depression, and substance abuse, according to a team of researchers at the Swedish Karolinska Institute, led by Dr Simon Kyaga.
It went on to say that anyone who is in the least bit ‘creative’ is almost twice as likely to kill themselves; far more than the general population. According to the researchers, creativity is often part of a mental illness, with writers being particularly susceptible.
Thanks a lot folks; that maybe explains why I am so driven to write. It’s a funny thing but I’ve never ever thought of writing as being a mental affliction before. A passion, maybe, but an illness, where’s the proof?
The article mentioned four well known authors as classic examples:
The novelist Virginia Woolf famously suffered with depression and eventually drowned herself.
Hans Christian Andersen suffered from depression.
Ernest Hemingway also suffered from depression and killed himself with a shotgun.
And finally, Graham Greene suffered from bipolar disorder.
The article ended by saying – “We know that one in four people will be diagnosed with a mental health problem this year and that these individuals will come from a range of different backgrounds, professions and walks of life. Our main concern is that they get the information and support that they need and deserve.”
Ok, if that’s the case, where’s the help I supposedly need while I sit here agonising over a storyline. Where’s the help when a story I’ve written and published gets rubbished?
Talking with other writers of my acquaintance, we all suffer from depression. It’s an occupational hazard which goes with the territory. Without exception we all fret and worry over how our latest book will be received by the reading public. We all privately suffer when we get bad reviews. We are all concerned over the book’s ratings in the marketplace. We constantly talk among ourselves about sales, usually moaning about why one particular book is doing better than the one we personally prefer. 
One thing is certain; none of us can predict which of our books will be popular, nor can we dictate which of our books the public should buy. If that’s not enough to bring on a bout of depression, or an anxiety attack, I don’t know what is.
Now if you will all please excuse me, I must go and lay down in a darkened room to contemplate my navel. Too hell with that! I’ll get drunk instead.

Amazon Trolls – I R Wun

I just had a real laugh. I’ve been patiently waiting for the amazon trolls to find my young adults fantasy “Globular Van der Graff’s Goblin Tales for Adults” on Amazon.com. One finally obliged a few hours ago.
If you publish anything on Amazon, eventually it will be found by people known to all writers who publish their work using Amazon as amazon trolls.
These individuals lurk in the shadows hiding beneath the all-encompassing Amazon umbrella, waiting to pounce on the unsuspecting writer. Without exception they show themselves to be nothing more than complete idiots. This particular one can’t even spell.
Here is that latest amazon troll attack on one of my own books verbatim. Note the spelling and punctuation errors:
2.0 out of 5 stars
To childish
The story dosent really pull the reader in. The writing is ment for a very young reader. The story line is rather boring.
Published 1 day ago by Belize
Whoever Belize may be, he/she really needs to learn how to spell – ment?
Hopefully, one day someone within Amazon will finally wake up to these idiots and remove them. Note I do say hopefully. Unfortunately so long as Amazon continues to be run by nothing more than a computer algorithm, I can’t see it happening anytime soon.

Toxic reviewers, are your ears burning?

Ask any writer who enjoys regular sales for his or her latest book why they never normally read their reviews, and you will get the same answer – they learned not to a long time ago.
While many first time writers will initially read every review of their book, those of us who have been at it for a while no longer bother. Reading them is the quickest way for any writer just starting out to become easily depressed and disillusioned; some may even quit writing altogether. Don’t let these attacks on your work deter you.
For every one hundred readers who enjoy your book there will always be one who loves to find fault, and in all likelihood, positively hates it. These toxic individuals delude themselves into thinking that what they say will dissuade others from taking up your book. You can usually find them inhabiting most online book outlets. A few crop up from time to time on sites like Facebook, although they don’t usually last long because they can’t hide behind pseudonyms the way they can elsewhere.
What none of them seem to realise is that far from achieving their goal, in fact all they are doing is make potential readers curious enough to want to read the book for themselves.
Every now and then in a moment of weakness I may take a fleeting glance at the latest attack on one of my books, or those of my friends. When I read a particularly cutting review, I check to see if the reviewer has ever written anything themselves. Usually, 99.9 percent of the time they have not. And yet they feel fully qualified to tear apart the product of the particular writer’s hard work.
All I can say is this; keep on writing those lousy reviews you complete morons. You are great free publicity for any book and therefore guarantee to boost its sales.
One last point – I wonder how many of these reviewers actually bought a copy of the book they hate so much? These days with the advent of ebooks, especially those sold between $0.99 or $2.00, my guess is that the vast majority of the toxic reviewers obtained themselves a free copy during a giveaway. Besides being self-opinionated nobody’s, they are also cheapskates into the bargain, not prepared to spend a dollar.
So the next time you are perusing a specific book’s reviews, take note of how many of them are toxic. Chances are your looking at a best seller.

Which Market is Best?

Who among us can say with any certainty which nation will take a book to heart? Judging by the way my scifi-adventure story “The Seventh Age” was initially received, when I first launched it via a free download weekend in April of this year, I would have placed a bet that of all the different markets, it would have done best here in the UK, judging by the give away numbers – US 869, UK 2257, Germany 23, Spain 3.
Boy was I ever wrong! Instead, it is the United States of America where it has become most popular. 
Currently, according to Amazon.com, Seventh sits as follows:
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,001 Paid in Kindle Store.
#38 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Fiction > Genre Fiction > Science Fiction > Adventure.
#54 in Books > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction > Adventure.
Whereas here in the UK, Amazon.co.uk currently places it at: #27,838 in the Paid in Kindle Store section, not even making it into the Top One Hundred unlike the US.
Thanks mostly to the good people of the USA and also India, Seventh has now sold 2646 copies as of today (October 3rd, 2012). 
Last month, it sold 947 copies in the US, while only selling 6 here in the UK.
Already this month, the US/Indian market has bought 82 copies, while the UK has bought a paltry 2 by comparison.
One thing is abundantly clear. The book’s overriding theme obviously appeals to the average American far more than that of my countrymen.
Hopefully, when I publish its sequel, “The Forgotten Age” later this year, or more likely in the New Year, it will also do well in the US. Whether or not it will appeal beyond America’s shores, I would not care to predict.