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Thursday, 29 October 2015

coming soon

Friday, 23 October 2015

A wonderful review and Book of the Month in November

The wonderful people at The publishers Bookclub have made Cider lane book of the month for November.  The words over the moon spring to mind
To read their full review etc you'll have to wait till November the 1st ,, ( me too come to that ) but below is the review they did for me ...   words fail in describing how awesome it is.

best review ever ............
5 stars November 2015 Book of the Month
By A Publisher's Book Club Official Review on October 22, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition
Hayes captures the essence of trauma to perfection in his book Cider Lane: Of Silences and Stars.
It's a difficult feat to write emotion. First, you must submerge yourself within the walls of the pain that we try so desperately to avoid. Hayes does this without flaw as he describes the car crash as witnessed.
It is a macabre beginning to a story that is beautifully told and easily relatable.

Friday, 16 October 2015

Strange worlds and Awkward reviews

As anyone who reads my blog is aware I review Indie authors books on a semi-regular basis.
Partly I do reviews because I am an indie writer myself. Thus I know how hard it is to get people to do reviews. In particularly honest well thought out and considered reviews. There are options out there where you can pay for reviews, and as the option is out there I am sure some people do.
Partly I do review because it means I get to read a lot of interesting writers work and it encourages me to read a broad span of different genres and styles, something which is important to me in my own development as a writer. There is nothing that expands your own scope like reading something different.
And finally partly I do reviews just because I enjoy a good read. Which is occasionally where the problem with reviews lays, because I offer to do reviews to a couple of groups on +Goodreads, and never quite know what I am going to be reading when I agree to do them.
Don’t get me wrong here, the majority of Indie books I read are genuinely great read. There is a rich vibrant community of indie authors out there. Often they are also the most thought provoking, interesting and different novels you can find. As opposed to main stream novels because main stream publishers publish books with an aim in mind, that been profit.  Many of the indie novels I read might not even get read by a publisher. Let alone find one willing to publish something that’s more than a little out of the ordinary. Indeed the indie book is generally written by authors not thinking in commercial terms. Instead they are writing what they want to write and how they wish to write it.
You may hate the book, you may love it, but either way the indie author is telling their story how they wish to tell it. Immortown which I reviewed a couple of months ago for example is a really interesting read, that written in a fascinating way. The strength of the book lays in how it is written. The strange perspective the author uses added to the power and charm of the book. It tells a good story but not in any way that I would have written it. It’s one I recommend to anyone all the same. In part simply because it is so different.
The down side is I have been asked to review a couple of books which I really have struggled with. Having committed to review them I feel obliged to read them, equally I feel obliged to give an honest review. The trouble is my honest review would be that I did not enjoy them, or that I found the writing problematic, difficult to follow, or worse perhaps just actively hated them.  I don’t often hate a book but it does happen.
One of these was a sfi book written with entirely non-human characters. In itself this isn’t an issue, a character doesn’t have to be human for me to feel empathy towards it. However in this case I did not feel anything for the characters. The writing got me lost constantly and the concepts it tried to introduce just felt flat and unreadable. It could have been better, it certainly had interesting ideas but it read like a first draft and a first draft that was written without much of a plan. What interest I found in the ideas was swamped by a lack of cohesion and most of the time I had no idea what was going on. Which was almost a shame as some of the ideas were interesting. It really seemed to be an early draft however.
Another was a YA novel which had a reasonable premise. The writing was better and it started well. The problems I had with it were more to do with the setting than anything else because when I agreed to read it I was told it was based in part around Norse mythology. The problem is I know a little about Norse mythology and what the novel was actually based on was the +Marvel Entertainment  version of it built around there character Thor. Which has as much in common with real Norse mythology as a Mel Gibson historical epic. Frankly I am not a Marvel fan as such so in fairness this was really not written for me. At the same time however it was only loosely based on Marvels universe. Again I had trouble with the characters, the main character written in the first person I had an overwhelming desire to slap every five minutes, while the sorties into third person for off centre action were  worse somehow. Though as I say I don’t think this was written for me and plenty of people might enjoy the style and the writing. Certainly it was better than the sfi book I mentioned earlier.
Every author has something to say, and every author should be allowed to say it. But having agreed to review someone’s work I wish I had a get out clause.
“Sorry I hated your book, but I don’t want to give you a bad review, so let’s just say it’s not for me.”


Friday, 9 October 2015

New price on kindle

New reduced price for the kindle version of Cider Lane : Of Silences and Stars £1.99 ($2.99) 
It is also still on kindle unlimited and free to subscribers of the service
And available in paperback for £8.99 from amazon 

If you haven't read it yet nows the time to buy

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Cider Lane Reviews

A few recent reviews for Cider Lane :Of Silences and Stars from , as once in a while it's nice to blow one own trumpet.

5.0 out of 5 starsI thoroughly enjoyed this incredibly compelling book
ByMark Adams
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I thoroughly enjoyed this incredibly compelling book, and it gripped me from beginning to end.

The author's ability to give you insights into the character's way of thinking and the damage they have endured to their mental health through their lives is something very rare: believable. The empathy that the two richly fleshed out main protagonists evoke makes the book an absolute page turner!

4.0 out of 5 starsHide From Your Friends!
ByJon Padgett
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I took this book to read on holiday. Unfortunately it got nabbed by a friend who spent his time reading it instead. Now I've got it back, I'm enjoying the start and the rest of the book was obviously good enough for my friend to deprive me the pleasure of reading it on holiday.

4.0 out of 5 starsThe writer holds the reader's attention on two central characters ...
Format: Kindle Edition
The writer holds the reader's attention on two central characters as their story unfolds and their paths inevitably cross. Really it is the depth of Susanna and Colin that are the basis of the book and the reader enters their troubled lives and learns about their tortured pasts. The story itself is minimal and I didn't realise that a writer could hold my attention for so long revolving around tin openers, camp fires, erotic tension and the preoccupations of troubled souls. An absorbing, if somewhat melancholy, read.

5.0 out of 5 starsA good story and at times thought provoking
ByA. Hawley
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
This is an interesting book. A good story and at times thought provoking, the characterisation is well done and the story well told. It is difficult to believe that this is a book from a first time writer.

5.0 out of 5 starsthis is a good book to take on holiday
ByMr Paul Mellor
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
A well paced and interesting story, this is a good book to take on holiday. With detailed description and fascinating insights about the life of a gentleman of the road, this book will catch your attention and engage your interest all the way to the dramatic conclusion.


Wednesday, 7 October 2015

book promotion, or how not to do it

Promoting your own book is a difficult task. That is not to say there are not lots of options out there, in fact there are a ridiculous amount of them out there if you look. From companies that advertise, 'We will promote your book for you.' at an exorbitant cost.
To more streamlined ways of promoting your book, such as +Facebook, +Twiter and +Goodreads  among others.
There are also those who will promote your book for a small cost that you can on sites like +Fiverr.  
Then there are promotion options with and +Kindle Ebooks Daily If your willing  and have the money to put some investment in up front.
Finally there is also doing your own promotion as much as you can. While you try and avoid driving away your friends with endless 'buy my book, posts and requests to share.

When I published Cider lane a few months back I made a decision that while I wanted it to be successful by my own criteria, which were basically I wanted to get a few copies sold and hopefully get a good reception from friends and family, I wanted it to reach a wider audience as well. However I was under no great illusions that selling beyond my own circle would be easy. So I made a deal with myself that any money I made from the book I would set aside to put into further promotion of my novel. Which then leaves me with the question of what i do with that money.

To look at the options,
Social media is the life blood of self-promotion, but realistically there are only so many people you can reach through your own network of friends. You can, and I have rather too much I suspect, ask friends who have bought a copy to share links to the book and say nice things, and as they are friends they will do so to an extent. But once you get beyond your own circle the number of people who will take a chance on a new book from an author they have never heard of is limited.

The companies offering to promote your book at an exorbitant cost, well less said the better.

The amazon and kindle promotion options are equally limited for a new author, they are relatively expensive though not exorbitantly so, but the results are open to question.

The option of doing a kindle sale deal is one that is worth pursuing if your willing to discount your book or give it away for free. But after  three years hard work went into my novel giving it away for free seemed to be a depressing concept. That said free copies will sell better than paid copies and if you have several books out there then putting one up for free is a way to build an audience. I don't as yet so I settled for a one-week kindle countdown deal that reduced the cost of the kindle version of my book considerably. I then made a concerted effort to promote the fact and in fairness it did pay off a little , a few more books were sold on the kindle, but only a very few. I was a little nieve which may have come into play here, I should have put that promotion out there in other ways as well to try and hook in readers.

There are deals which can be done on good reads and ways to promote your book including giveaway , but I have not yet taken that route. It is however a good way to get people to list the book as 'want to read' which may in time help to get people interested in buying the book .

Finally, and what I should have done before the kindle sale, I looked at Fiverr. Where for $5 you can pay people to do 'gigs' promotion wise for your book. Most of which are social media concerns. The lesson learned here is to combine a kindle sale with a marketing campaign to try and maximize your results.

I did however get a check from +CreateSpace for selling the printed versions of my book recently so I put some of the money into Fiverr promotions. The ones I went for claimed to reach 100,000+ people with facebook and twitter accounts on various pages. Which seemed worth a try. So I paid out the princely sum of about £12 between two different promoters and let them get on with promotion my book for me. As I say this was some of the money iI had made on Cider lane, only a small portion but I wanted to see how effective they might be before i expanded this approach further.

There are a myriad of other services out there on Fiverr including people who will give amazon reviews and stars without ever reading the book ( which just seems like cheating to me ).  Paid reviews are what they are, you can follow that route if you wish, but I prefer all reviews to be from readers.

So as I say as an experiment I tried promotion through third parties on social media. It was inexpensive and I only put a small portion of my budget into it. So little in fact that half a dozen sales or more would earn me the money back again. As an experiment it was a failure, Indeed I did not sell a single book on the back of it, at least as of today. The kindle sale was far more effective, and I suspect combining the two would be more effective still, but as a stand alone it was a waste of money. (Luckily not a great deal of money).

So this puts me back at square one. I have a small budget from royalties that have come in. But nowhere to spend that budget. Tempting as more promotion via Fiverr may be it seems low cost is not the same as effective.

When i next do some promotion work I will put an update here. in the hopes my experiences will be of help to others


Monday, 5 October 2015

Wife in space: the scruffy drunk

17907284A while ago a good friend thrust a book into my hand called Adventures with the Wife in Space: Living with Doctor Who.  Which was written by +Neil Perryman and in part his wife Sue after Neil, a lifelong Doctor Who fan convinced Sue to watch every episode of Classic +Doctor Who with him and record her thoughts on each episode in his blog. He even convinced her to look at the episodes that don't actually exist anymore. The so-called reconstructed episodes that make up a large amount of both the +William Hartnell and +Patrick Troughton seasons, which don't exist because some thoughtful people at the +BBC archives decided the tapes should be reused to record one man and his dog or just wanted to shelf space. The reconstructions have the odd clip in them ( generally thanks to the Australian censor trying to protect the humble Aussi), lots of stills footage , generally some one narrating them and the audio tracks form the episodes. Once in a while they have even been animated or CGI'd by fans in order to make them a little less of a chore to watch. Indeed if Sue Perryman had cited been made to watch them as cruel and unusual punishment she could probably have got a quickie devoice. But watch them they did. As well as the rest of the 26 classic series of everyone's favourite mad man in a box.

The whole experiment was recorded faithfully in the blog and readers encouraged to comment on Sues various pronouncements and observations. Many of which were the source of much mirth and merriment. Once they had finally finished this grand opus Neil wrote about the whole experiment and his own life which has occasionally been influenced by his fandom of the time lord, in the book which my friend forced upon me about two years ago. It was a great read, not least because Neil and myself are of similar age and recollections of the Tom Baker years along gave me some common ground with the book. It was also tremendously funny to read about the whole experiment. the kind of thing only +Doctor Who can throw up. As well as Sues ever delightful view son doctor who episodes there are a plethora of her views and opinions on other things. Also Sue herself is an interesting character, having built her own house and been the one who puts up shelves in the Perryman house hold. The whole book had me in stitches quite often and was tremendous fun. So I recommend it to anyone, particularity any Doctor Who fans out there. As I would also recommend reading the blog.

Which leads me to why I am writing this now, apart form my passion for independent publishing which should be clear to anyone who reads this blog. My good friend thrust another book in my hand this weekend. Due to an error at the printers the first run of The Scruffy Drunk , the blogs about the Troughton series was composed of books which were falling apart. So Neil send out replacements to everyone who had received the dodgy run. A fine philanthropic gesture which probably dipped into any profits SueMe were going to make form there limited run. the consequence being I had the second doctors blog book thrust upon me for free.

Note. unfortunately for Sue a few lost episodes were rediscovered recently and she had to sit through those again, because, well you have to be completest about these things don't you.
Since then Neil and Sue have gone on to watch and blog the whole of +Blake Seven as well as other scifi shows in a  series of blogs and books. As well as currently turning there original blog into a series of books, One for each incarnation of the doctor. These are been produced by SueMe books the couples own independent publishers in a short press via kickstarter campaigns. Fairly successful ones that that as they seem to be fully subscribed very quickly. The latest one of which is for the +Jon Pertwee years or as Sue calls him , The pompous Tory .

So in true independent publishing review style I thought what the heck I will read it, and then found it next to imposable to put down. If your a Who fan, then I recommend both the original book , and the blog . I also recommend the Blogs in print versions. Which I am probably going to have to buy myself now.

These are a treat, Sue and Niel are a fabulous couple and the Wit of Sue is endlessly entertaining.

#doctorwho #bookreviews

Friday, 2 October 2015

YA fiction, the fiction of YA

Image result for hunger gamesThe indie writer scene seemed to be over flowing with Young Adult Fiction. Or YA as it gets referred to in general. In many ways it seems the in vogue thing to write in indie circles, at least if your not writing erotic fiction. Its hard to be critical of this. It is a growth market in some respects, it is certainly the popular genre to be writing in thanks to the success of novels like +Twilight , +The Hunger Games, +Divergence , and +The Maze Runner making the leap to the big screen. YA is seen by many as a road to success, but the down side of this is the 'many' have flooded the market place with YA fiction which are now all fighting for recognition among so many books that follow the same patterns and story lines. So many want to be Stephenie Meyer's are writing teen / twenty something vampire romances, rewriting a genre that dates back to old count Dracula himself. This is not to say there is anything wrong with this. If there are people who want to read the genre then its a good thing there are people who want to write it. The problems with the Twilight Saga aside, given that it portrays and yet romanises a relationship in which a man hundreds of years old stalks a young woman. That it has inspired people to write is a good thing. Just as the Hunger games and Maze runner have there own YA dystopia clones. If there is a problem with YA fiction it is to my mind simply this. YA is not a genre. It is instead a collective genre into which everything gets dropped if it fits the very loose criteria of having main characters who are young. Preferably american high school or collage young.
So your asking, why is this a problem? 
Well its a problem because so many of these YA novels fall into the same trap of thinking calling your novel YA allows you to dumb down to an audience which is just as widely read, intelligent and thoughtful as the audience for other genre's. 
The successful YA fictions, by which I mean the ones which really go on to cross over to the main stream are the ones which most ignore there YA tag and write for an audience of everyone. Take 'The Hunger Games.' for example. The novels never write down to there audience. It is in fact not YA at all but a real grown up dystopia, carefully constructed and thought out, which never talks down to its audience or dumbs down its writing. It gets described as YA by the marketing department and placed in the YA section of big chain book stores, but it was never written to be YA. 
A cursory look around +Goodreads will let you find groups of every description. If you want to join a group which reads YA vampire fiction exclusively it will be there. Indeed there is probably a group for YA blonde werewolves in china fiction which caters exclusively to this tiny sub genre. 
Its the tag of YA that bugs me most, and I will admit it is a personal grievance and nothing more. That it seems to be endemic in the indie writer scene is the part which worries me. I have read some good YA and some bad YA. But usually the bad YA is bad because it tries to be a rewrite of something successful or it takes ideas and a concept which could be awesome and waters it down to fit a YA description rather than just write a good story. 
If you want to write YA then my advice is try not to think of what your writing as YA to start with. Tell your story but don't make your characters teenagers just to fit in with the genre. What makes the hunger games so good is the characters are who they are. Rather than carbon copies and cardboard cut outs of generic teenage misfits.