My message may be unpalatable to some…

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…certain individuals don’t like plain speaking, preferring to bury their heads in the sand.

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One current ugly stumbling block for all writers these days to be ignored at all costs is the average inbred moron seated at his/her computer who deludes him/herself into believing that what he/she says on a public book based forum, actually matters. His/her kind set themselves up as self-styled critics, typically wittering on endlessly about subjects such as non-American spelling and grammar in books written by anyone living beyond the borders of the US for instance. Thereby clearly demonstrating their ignorance of the English language to the world at large. The aforementioned description while general, nevertheless fits the individuals currently responsible for the majority of one, two and three star reviews for any book you care to name on Amazon, to the detriment of the genuine reviewer.

Not one of them has ever written a book in their entire lives, let alone had one published, and yet they feel it is their bounden duty to harshly criticise, especially when it comes to newbies, no matter whether or not they are self-publishers or mainstream. There are also a few unscrupulous individuals who see absolutely nothing wrong in adding a link to their review of your book, to advertise their own efforts – extremely bad form!

Like most writers these days, I simply fail to understand why Amazon seemingly encourages and condones what amounts to nothing more than often vicious attacks. As a writer, for the sake of your sanity take my advice and never read the reviews. Above all refrain from entering the forums, no matter how indignant you may feel.

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As a successful writer I see far more pressing issues in a lot of what today’s eBooks have to offer. The main one often being the new writer’s poor choice of genre. A lot simply jump on the bandwagon hoping to cash in on what is portrayed as popular by various advertising campaigns by publishers and so-called professional editors and book touts, such as the current trend in nauseating vampire and zombie based stories and what can only be described as badly written pornography (think Fifty Shades of Grey). While it is true to say that largely these genres appeal to the uneducated, those who write more thought provoking novels are left by the wayside, struggling to survive.

Some writers become convinced that niche markets is the way to go, which in reality means the product of their efforts will barely sell in the dozens rather than the thousands.

Face it people, the only book that will sell in its thousands is the one whose subject matter initially provokes curiosity in the mind of the often fickle reader. A growing number of writers cling desperately to the belief that by writing in a largely unpopular genre, the product of their toil will be noticed. How many times recently have I seen writers desperate to sell their wares, spend money time and effort to change a cover for instance and to produce actual paperback copies, which they then hawk around the many small time book fairs, largely at their own expense? In the end none of the aforesaid will make a damned bit of difference if your favourite genre is currently out of fashion. To my mind this kind of thinking is nothing more than an example of self induced vanity press. In other words spending money you can ill afford.

Just remember this – if you have to shell out good money after bad to get your manuscript edited by a so-called professional, you have to recover that cost as well as the cost of the cover and printing before you are in profit – something which a lot of modern day writers ignore at their peril… Remember this too – if a book fails to sell in the traditional publishing world it is remaindered (pulped) and a line is drawn under your name with the words DO NOT ACCEPT ANYTHING FURTHER FROM THIS AUTHOR! Traditional publishing’s business model is to make money not lose it. It should be yours too!!!

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Next comes the biggest stumbling block for a lot of writers – editing and proof reading. Many Indies pay someone to edit for them (another cost to be taken into account). However, using the ‘look inside’ feature available on Amazon, it would appear that many mainstream editors let alone self-published writers simply fail to use a Spell checker, common to all writing software packages. The same goes for the humble Grammar checker – patently ignored by the majority. How many even use the Look up or Synonym features, accessed simply by right clicking over a word? Not many it would appear…

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We now arrive at colloquial language and writing in the first person. Many fall into the trap of using colloquial language when two characters are conversing within the context of a story – bad idea! The other big no-no is to write in the first person. It is not easy to do. The use of first person is chock full of pitfalls for the unsuspecting. Avoid using it if you can. Loathsome as it may be, even third person is preferable.

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Finally remember this simple fact – the product of all your hard work is just one among millions currently available for sale. If its content doesn’t stand out, especially these days where people prefer to wait until in sheer desparation you buckle under and offer it for free! Even then there is no guarantee it will be read. Inevitably after three or four weeks it is consigned to the literary equivalent of the Bermuda Triangle for ever more by the publisher; the way books disappear from the top 100 on Amazon is a prime example! No amount of cover changes, giveaways and signed copies in an internet contest will increase its chances of becoming a best seller one iota…

Just imagine, you have all of the above to look forward to. Do you still want to publish that book?

😉

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Is this a clear case of literary crucifixion?

Unless they are masochistic, no one likes to be attacked. The following is a classic example of a troll attack by someone who cultivates a friendly countenance to the world. I’ve known this person for a few years now. Hell, I like him. Until the other side of his Jekyle and Hyde persona appears when he is asked to provide a review that is.

Luckily I managed to persuade the individual concerned not to post what he considers is an honest review. For those of you who have already read and reviewed Autumn 1066, decide for yourselves if you agree with his brutal crucifixion of the historical account. Who knows what motivated him to go on the offensive? Only he can answer that…

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“Autumn 1066 reminded me of one of those dramatized historical TV documentaries. You get the narrator telling you what’s going on and you occasionally meet a few characters in a dramatized fashion, to explore their thoughts and feelings. Eason follows a similar format, which makes it hard for me to classify this. It’s not a novel (or novelette, given its brevity), nor is it a history book.

If you are hoping for a historical novel in the style of Bernard Cornwell’s Saxon Tales, you will be disappointed. Eason doesn’t delve in historical details or characters, offering instead mere glimpses of people’s thoughts and motivations. If, however, you are looking for a brief introduction to some of the key players in the making of England, then this may be the perfect book for you.”

To be honest, I would give it 3 stars. It was good, but I personally dislike 3rd-person narratives and got lost among all the similar-sounding names (Harold, Harald, Hardrada, Aldred, etc) and wished I could empathize more with any of them. The most sympathetic character was Cynric, and I wished the story was told from his point of view. Although it’s probably just as well, as we don’t even find out what happens to him (I assume he dies in battle, of course). Also, the price felt rather steep: each of my own Pearseus books sells for $2.99 and is almost 100,000 words long. Expect a lot of trolling if you keep it at that price.

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So there you have it. Under no circumstances will I name the individual. I don’t have to as he did that himself indirectly when he mentioned a series of books he penned. I will say that the person concerned is well-known and liked in the blogosphere and Social Media circles.

This was my reply to him:

God almighty man you do like to put the knife in don’t you? You got one thing right in what can only be described as your rant. As the story is historically correct I wrote it as a docudrama. Meaning I put in one or two fictional characters.
Harold Godwinson, Harald Sigurdsson (Hardrada) – your right they are similar sounding. Not surprising really as the Anglo-Saxons (Germanic), Norwegian Vikings, together with William and his troops (also of Viking descent) all have similar names.
You say you’re not sure what happened to Cynric. If you read the last couple of pages again you will see that his uncle Aldred dragged him away from the battlefield to safety.

May I suggest you rewrite your review. Anyone reading it will see it for what it is – a sniffy personal attack. If you do post it as it is, you’re doing yourself no favours my friend. None at all…

He replied by saying that: I’m sorry you took it as a personal affront; it wasn’t meant that way. It was just my honest opinion. Since you don’t like it, I won’t publish it.

~~~

A worse case of literary crucifixion I have yet to see! No one likes being attacked by armchair critics, especially those who call you friend to your face while being prepared to stab you in the back…

PS – there is an old adage that goes something like this:- Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. This is clearly a case in point.

Bah humbug

😦

Pseudo-experts and other lunatics

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As a published writer, sooner or later you will encounter one or more of the following!

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Once you have published a book or books, it is inevitable that you will attract the attention of individuals with a doctorate in incomprehensibly stupid! When Amazon opened the can of worms by giving everyone and their dog the privilege of being able to offer their opinion on your work on their sites worldwide, was the day the age of the internet troll and other non-entities was born.

Today, not only Indie writers, but also traditionally published ones find themselves on the receiving end of what can only be described as pseudo-expertise. For the latter its bad enough that their editors are imposing their often misguided personal opinions on how a book should be written, often to the detriment of the story, instead of sticking to correcting grammar and punctuation. But now all writers are endlessly being bombarded by totally baffling comments by some other published writers, who quite frankly should know better than to openly criticise someone elses work in public. What you and they have to realise is that they are expert in only one thing – destroying their own reputation just for the sake of pouring scorn on a colleagues work. Not everyone can write a story worthy of being read, let alone be published. Which is why so many who entertained the idea of fame and fortune by writing the definitive novel of the age fail and soon resurface as literary experts and critics. Or worse, offer their services as editors, always for a fee of course!!!

What none are willing to accept is that first of all your story is yours not theirs. Secondly, who better than you knows its ins and outs, plot and counter plot?

If you are lucky, people find it among the millions of books on offer and read it. Some will like it. Others not, so they do their damnedest to convince the public to stay away, which begs the question why? In the case of failed writers, it has to be that they’re green with envy. Or more than likely, they’re angry that they didn’t come up with it first. What other reason(s) could there possibly be?

What about the literary snobs, pedants, anal retentives, pretentious poseurs, grammar nazis and other self-important armchair critics who inhabit the internet these days? If you will take some advice from an old campaigner – LIKE THE TROLLS, IGNORE THEM ALL LIKE THE PLAGUE!!!

Having read this, you will now know that I have zero tolerance for any of the above. Guess what, neither have any of my published writing colleagues either…

Happy New Year.

😉

The Modern Day Penny Dreadful

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While many authors and certainly the entire literary world turn up their noses at the phenomena of the eBook, there is no getting away from the fact that being able to buy a book cheaply, or more often than not these days, getting it for free to download to the ereader of your choice, resonates with the public at large, particularly in the United States. But if you expect to get your next read for $0.99 or less, don’t complain when the book that has taken your fancy is not a literary masterpiece.

Time and time again some authors together with assorted literary snobs, armchair critics and pedants, endlessly decry an eBook for its lack of literary quality. All too often they take great delight in pointing up any given eBook’s faults.

But does it really matter when it is free or priced so cheaply? The short answer is no. The vast majority of the reading public these days only care about whether or not the story appeals to them. They couldn’t care less about whether or not the author over uses the comma, or for that matter the colon or semi-colon, or which form of a particular word is used in any given circumstance. If asked about their views on the particular author’s use of the colon or sem-icolon, chances are they would think you were referring to a particular part of the anatomy rather than two types of punctuation mark. As for whether or not they considered that the author in question used far too much passive voice or descriptive prose…

Today’s eBook is the modern day equivalent of the Victorian Penny Dreadful. Rather than throwing any book written by myself which I consider to be sub-standard, into the corner, If its still a good story it ends up in the eBook market. Judging by the hundreds of thousands of copies of my eBooks out there, my storytelling appeals. In the end that is all that matters.

Yes, each and every eBook penned by myself automatically attracts the attention of the trolls. But so do eBooks by any author for that matter, Even best selling authors working through the big five publishing houses are not safe from scorn being poured on their eBooks by trolls. In that regard the literary world is a natural habitat for bitchy individuals jealous of the fact that our cheap books, yours and mine, are being read. To them I would only say this – FOR GOODNESS SAKE GET OVER YOURSELVES!!!

Meanwhile I’ll keep writing until I’m happy that the book I’m working on fulfills all the requirements necessary to make it worthy of the appelation ‘Literary Masterpiece’.

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A Message To The Slackers

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If you get a free copy of any book, it behoves you to at least read it!

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Unfortunately for independant writers, the downright miserly of this world will never deign to purchase a copy of anything you write. Instead they wait for a free copy to become available. Which brings me to the free giveaway of my latest scifi novella last month. So far out of the one hundred and five free copies of The Guardian taken up, it has received a grand total of five reviews – two five star, two four star and one three star. Does that mean that only five people read it? You could be forgiven for thinking so.

I can just hear the weak-willed apologists right now saying something like “ah but they probably have it on their TBR lists. Besides, reading a book, let alone reviewing it, is not compulsory.” To which I would readily reply, “in that case why did you help yourself to a free copy of the book?” I would go further by pointing out that good manners and common decency demand that you must read and review it.

On the odd occasion when I do read a free book, even those I beta read for other writers, I always review them without fail. Yes I have a TBR list, but when I owe someone the courtesy of reading and reviewing, I get on with it! Think about it, how else will any author know if their books are being read? Book sales figures don’t tell you.

Five out of one hundred and five definitely have read it. Its high time the rest of you got your backsides into gear. You know who you are, so please read and review it, preferably during the next two weeks! I gave it to you for nothing. So you owe me…

At the moment on Amazon US The Guardian sits at 2066th place in its genre (Science Fiction), while here in the UK The Guardian is placed at 1020th. What does that tell you?

I know what it tells me. The Guardian aint dead yet.

😉

Are Book Reviews Really Necessary?

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In a word, yes!!!

To survive, books need reviews like you need to breath. In their case reviews are necessary to bring them to the notice of potential readers out there. Without several reviews they will rapidly disappear into the slush pile along with the millions of unread books out there. One review, no matter how praiseworthy, is not enough to ensure a book’s future. But one negative review will soon attract others, ending a book’s chances of surviving!!

Contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t make a scrap of difference how eyecatching a book’s cover may be. What helps readers to make up their mind about any book are its reviews. Without them books simply don’t generate curiosity among the millions of jaded readers.

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To give you an example, here are the numbers so far for each of my nine books:

The Adventures of Ursus the Bear (a story for tiny tots) – 1 five star

Cataclysm (a Science Fiction novella) – 4 five star, 3 four star

The Guardian (my latest Science Fiction novella) – 2 four star (with two more reviews promised in the immediate future, which I’m looking forward to it receiving)

The Forgotten Age (an Archaeological adventure) – 5 five star, 7 four star, 1 two star, 3 one star

The Seventh Age (an Archaeological adventure) – 7 five star, 8 four star, 8 three star, 10 two star, 20 one star

The Next Age (a Science Fiction novella) – 3 five star, 1 four star, 1 two star, 1 one star

Goblin Tales (a Fantasy anthology) – 1 five star

Turning Point (a Science Fiction adventure) – 8 five star, 5 four star, 2 three star, 3 two star, 3 one star

Onet’s Tale ( a Science Fiction Space Opera) – 5 five star, 1 four star

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No prizes for guessing which of the above titles consistently sells and which don’t. Believe it or not if potential readers see nothing but five and four star reviews, they are immediately suspicious and won’t buy.

As the old saying goes, “there’s nowt as queer as folk,” especially when it comes to buying a book. The other thing to remember is that these days, anyone with an axe to grind will automatically give any book a one star review, hoping to put off potential readers.

To counter their attack, if you enjoyed it, review that book you’re reading as soon as you finished it. But before you do, take the time to think about what you are going to say. As much as you may be tempted at times, always leave objectionable reviews to those who are insanely jealous of the particular author’s success.

Plus, don’t forget to tell your friends about the book and where they can get a copy of it if you enjoyed it.

😉

 

All Writers Crave Feedback

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When it comes to meaningful dialogue with our readers it rarely if ever happens, more’s the pity. We writers need the connection. All a review ever tells us is that the individual responsible for it either loved or hated the book in question.

Most writers like myself have a blog like this one where you can leave comments below a post, and a Facebook page where you can voice your thoughts in person on any book written by us, should you choose to do so. Or if you want, we can just chat about something else entirely. The point is that by chatting, we get to know each other, hopefully forging a lasting friendship.

Like you, every writer is plagued with the typical faults, passions and emotions that all human beings share. Some are known to hold strong views on varying subjects. Don’t let that necessarily put you off talking to any of us. We’re not ogres.

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Now a word to the wise, so please pay attention!

With book sites like Amazon, we are well aware of the inevitable one star reviews, often written by other writers hiding behind pseudonyms. And so, unless you have just landed on planet Earth within the last half hour, by now you will have noticed that my latest offering is now in its second free Kindle download giveaway day.

Here’s the rub. I fully expect it to gain endless one star reviews as a consequence. That always happens when a book is given away in any promotion. To that end I would remind anyone who has taken advantage of the offer, that you did get it for nothing. Therefore if you feel the uncontrollable urge to write a cutting review of your free copy, don’t! No one likes an ungratful smart-arse. Peversity on your part will hardly endear you to others, now will it. For the majority, please feel free to write your reviews and post them on whichever Amazon site you downloaded it from.

Lastly, I’m well aware that there will be errors. All books have them. Once the promotional period is over I will take it down temporarily to search them out before uploading the corrected version.

As they say in America – have a nice day.

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