This is a question I asked myself while pottering about in the garden.
It may seem like a simple question, one which has a very simple answer; the likes and the things we do listed, almost ‘bullet-pointed’ as a reply.
That’s fine, for most people.
But I am an author, a writer. To me, even those simple answers have hidden depths, more meaning and a thousand stories each to be told.
Here is where my writer’s mind went after I asked myself that question…
I know what I do, but I wondered if that was ‘just me’?
You see, I love travelling. I love to explore other countries, sampling their food, their culture, being amazed at wonderful vistas, cascading waterfalls, crazy cities, wild traffic and such.
I also like to travel around Britain, the place I live. So far, my favourite areas are the Highlands & Western Isles of Scotland.
The Llyn peninsular in Wales gets better and better the further west you travel. The very best being Aberdaron and Bardsey Island.
I reside in Yorkshire, the county known as ‘Gods Country’ for its stunning landscapes.
I originate from the south and was lucky enough to have lived in Kent, called the ‘Garden of England’, which kind of speaks for itself.
All in all, I love nature; landscapes, coastal areas, animals, plants, and grand views. I like red wine, cold beer, fine whiskey, food and some good company.
To my mind this is what home is all about, making a comfortable place with hints, reminders and touches of all the things you love. Pictures and photographs of loved ones, trinkets and ‘tat’ from all those places you have visited; be it a foreign country or the local park, it’s those little inconsequential, yet sentimental items, like a shell collected from a beach, a pebble from a mountain path or a serviette from ‘that’ café.
In a way that is what our homes are for, storing and sharing all those little things which bring back the memories from a life well lived.
We can also make our homes reflect the things which make us… us. Especially, at least for me, in the garden, the garden in which I was pottering when I first asked myself the question I am writing about now.
In this instance, I have ninety per cent completed a project I started about three weeks ago.
In one corner of my garden was a derelict, rotted and neglected raised ‘deck’. I built the deck about ten years or so ago from reclaimed scaffolders boards and, I must admit, was proud of the outcome.
The said deck, (holding tables, chairs, potted plants and lighting), hosted many ‘al fresco’ lunches and dinners, served as a ‘buffet’ table during garden parties and barbecues it even became an improvised office for my writing on the days the sun shone and the rains held off.
But, as many structures constantly exposed to all weathers, it slowly degenerated, until it was little more than a rickety load of planks balancing precariously on a few rotten cross-members.
After laying unused and unloved for so long I decided to rip it up, replacing it with raised-bed vegetable plots and a small seating area.
Partly this decision was to do with the ‘stuff’ I wrote about earlier, the travelling to places, the sampling of food and wine and such like.
You will see in the following photographs I have placed my potted vines along the wall. These have never produced any edible grapes or enough to make even a single glass of wine, not here in England, not with our weather. But they do grow some large and tender leaves which are perfect for making dolmades, one of those foods I first ‘found’ on my travels many years ago.
I have made one deep growing bed and two shallow beds. The idea is to grow ‘root’ vegetables, such as carrots, parsnip, onion and sweeds in the deep one, leaving the shallow beds for the vegetables that grow ‘upwards’; beans, peas, sprouts, lettuce and so forth… once the soil has been delivered, which is about all I need now to complete my task, hence it is only ninety per cent complete.
I already have an area for soft fruits and yesterday harvested a bumper crop of particularly sweet and sticky Gooseberries, the ‘Brambles’ (Blackberries) are beginning to set fruits and so still have many flowers.
This then, is my answer to my own question, “what do writers do when they are not writing?”
For me it is often gardening, but not simply for gardening’s sake.
Its for relaxation, creativity, frugality, satisfaction and for good food, healthy unadulterated food which I and or my wife will turn into some amazing dishes or preserves; some that will bring memories of a time, a trip or a place, flooding back, or maybe excite us, as we look forward to the next travel experience we have planned.
These are the sort of things I do when not sitting alone, isolated, eyes glued to the screen and scribbling away like a manic… I’ll let you finish that line!
However, I am curious to know what you do when you are not writing, please, let me know so I can be sure it is not ‘Just me’.
Keep Happy, Paul.
Don’t forget to visit my website,http://bit.ly/paulswebsitewhere you can find my latest books, including my Electric Eclectic Novelettes.
So much to do, so little time. (I think I have heard that said somewhere before.)
At least I have found a few moments to share another post about being an indie author.
I do not normally write a ‘list’ style post as they generally tend to be little more than ‘clickbait’.
However, on this occasion, I have made an exception to the rule and produced a sort of list post myself. But one I hope is better and far more informative than those ‘clickbait’ I mentioned above.
I hope these tips will help you create a book which will sell in (vast) volume.
“On with the post”
I hear time after time and frequently read, on social media, authors asking why no one is buying their book(s).
It could be down to many things, even the lack of serious or targeted promotion.
Novice writers often spending too much time and effort in posting their book(s) on author group pages… HINT… authors are more interested in writing their own books and most already have a vast TBR library they will get around to reading, soon(ish), one day, maybe later, or never.
You need to put your energy and effort into targeting those people who are more likely to want to read your work than another author. (Coals to Newcastle, busman’s holiday… ring a bell?)
However, before you get anywhere near that stage, here are a few basic questions, self-check questions, you should ask yourself and, this is most important, answer honestly.
You will only be letting yourself down if you lie to yourself.
In a nutshell, you must ask yourself, (way before you publish) if your book looks professional and is your blurb up to scratch?
These are the questions you need to use to clarify each point of consideration.
Regarding your books cover:
1, Does it look professional.
No, truly; do your book cover(s) look like they could be displayed alongside the best sellers on show in your city’s premier bookstore?
If you cannot say it does with absolute certainty, take a mock-up, even a full-colour print of your cover and visit some bookshops. Hold your image up, place it on the shelf next to the big named author’s books.
Now, give it ten coats of looking at. Ask those who are browsing what they think of your intended cover.
This is a form of market research. It can save you a ton of heartache let alone money. But you must be honest and you must listen to what others say, after all, it is they who will be buying your book, not you.
2, Does your book cover clearly demonstrate the genre of your book?
Your potential readers will, most often, have one or two genres they prefer. Like many people, once we find something we enjoy it takes a giant leap to change.
Therefore, if your book does not accurately reflect the genre of its content, you WILL be losing any potential readers initial interest.
3, Does your cover immediately garner attention?
Is it sufficiently attractive to stand out among other books on the shelf or on Amazon?
Does your cover artwork stand out amongst the other books around it? How well does your book ‘stand-out’ as a ‘thumbnail’ image on an Amazon page full of other books?
Are your friends or the bookshop browsers immediately drawn to your cover? If not, you need to make changes.
Note: Too many authors make the mistake of trying to tell the entire books story on their covers. This is not what the cover is intended to do. In simple terms, the cover is like a candle flame to a moth. It is there to attract a person browsing to take a closer look at your book. Once the browser has the book in their hands or has ‘clicked’ for more details, the cover has done its main job.
After which the points below come into play.
4, Does your book title grab attention?
Pretty much like the cover image ‘as a whole’, the title of your book must do several things. It must accurately reflect the genre of your book while defining its own individuality.
Along with this, it must show who the book is intended to be read by. Not an easy task to succeed at, especially when regarding fiction, which is far more subjective than non-fiction.
Regarding non-fiction, your title must indicate the benefit and what makes your book different to other covering the same or similar subject matter.
5, Does your book’s subtitle and/or description clarify who the ideal reader is?
Does your description work as a prime first hook on the general browser?
The description (subtitle) should convey the emotional (or practical) payoff to the reader when reading your book. (The ‘what’s in it for me’ factor)
To communicate this your description needs to capture the curiosity of the browser, it must take them on a clear, cohesive, emotional journey and leave them wanting to know more. You must engage their curiosity?
Is your books description length similar to the prime authors/major publishers books of the same genre?
Note:Nothing on the cover of a major publisher’s book is thereby happenchance, everything is carefully calculated and designed based on a vast database of market research and marketing sciences.You should not go far wrong by following their designs and formatting.
6, Pricing your book
Have you priced your book to match that of similar titles of the same genre by other indie authors?
Here price point could be a major influencing factor. Price your book too high and few will buy it. Too low and many will perceive it as a low-value item and pass it by.
The trick is to get this balancing act weighed off. Not an easy task.
7, Are your books first pages intriguing enough?
Many online bookstores offer a ‘look inside/sample read’ function. This is akin to flicking through a few pages of a physical book in a bookstore.
When considering this fact, it becomes clear you need to ensure an early hook is built into the first pages, say the first 10% of your book.
This will create an intrigue, a wanting to know ‘What happens next’ question into your potential reader’s mind, encouraging them to buy your book.
I hope these pointers will help you with the designing your books cover and when writing your ‘blurb’.
You will find many more ways to reduce your publishing costs and loads of money-saving methods by reading ‘The Frugal Author’, immediately download-able HERE.
Before I start this post proper, I am not a conspiracy theorist, neither am I paranoid, even if they really are after me.
I simply want to make this situation crystal clear.
Unless you have been living on Mars, or never use the internet, you will have heard about a new European regulation which comes into full force on the 25th of this month, May 2018, called GDPR, (General Data Protection Regulation).
I have blogged about this in the past, most notably way back in December 2017, https://wp.me/p5nj7r-1fK and notified people of the huge effect this would have on ALL of us when it came into force this year.
Of course, the 28-member states of the European Union: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden and the United Kingdom, would all deny, collectively and individually, that GDRP is yet another step in the global creep towards state control of the Web.
But they would say that, wouldn’t they?
I am sure many, if not all of you, have heard about ‘The Monkey, Banana & Water experiment’ even if you are not familiar with the details.
Inside the cage hang a banana on a string from the top, then place a set of stairs under the banana.
Before long one of the monkeys will go to the stairs and climb toward the banana.
As soon as that monkey touches the stairs, spray ALL the monkeys with cold water. After a while another monkey will attempt to climb the stairs, with the same result, ALL the monkeys are sprayed with cold water.
Pretty soon, when another monkey tries to climb the stairs, the other monkeys will prevent it.
Now, dispose of cold water and remove one monkey from the cage and replace it with a new one.
The new monkey will see the banana and attempt to climb the stairs.
To this monkey’s shock, all the other monkeys beat the crap out of him as soon as he tries to scale the steps.
After a second attempt and another attack, the new monkey knows if he tries to climb the stairs he will be assaulted.
Next, remove another of the original five monkeys, replacing it with a new one.
The newcomer goes to the stairs and is attacked. The previous newcomer takes part in the punishment, with enthusiasm, because he is now part of the “team”.
Then, replace a third original monkey with a new one, followed by the fourth, then the fifth.
Each time the newest monkey takes to the stairs, he is attacked.
Now, the monkeys who are beating up the newcomer have no idea why they were not permitted to climb the stairs.
Neither do they know why they are participating in the beating of the newest monkey.
Finally, having replaced all the original monkeys, none of the remaining monkeys will have ever been sprayed with cold water.
Nevertheless, not one of the monkeys will try to climb the stairway for the banana.
“Why,” you ask?
Because in their minds that is the way it has always been.
This, my friends, is how Governments operate, therefore we collectively accept these new rules with little resistance.
Take the introduction of ‘Speed Cameras’ in the UK. When first introduced they were called such.
The backlash of public opinion and media comments such as ‘Big Brother’ & ‘Nanny state’ along with vandalism and destruction of many of the ‘Gastco’ machines gave Government cause for a re-think.
In the year 2000, the system allowed local authorities to receive a percentage of revenue from their cameras. Local police and councils joined forces to form safety camera partnerships, picking out sites which the government would then fund.
Gatso camera numbers multiplied from 1,600 in 2000 to 4,737 in 2007
This caused another media frenzy and more arbitrary destruction, with the added claim these cameras were purely a revenue raising machine which bore no relation to road safety.
Anti-camera groups reacted by becoming more militant.
This was when the Government’s message changed from calling them ‘Speed Cameras’ to Safety Cameras’ and trotting out the know well-known mantra ” “It’s not about the fines or making money, but about reducing fatalities and injuries.”
Once this mantra became established ‘pressure’ groups of local citizens joined with the Government to install more ‘safety cameras’ as they were now ‘good’ for us. The revenue and money-making issues seemed to evaporate with this new dawn.
Since then Gatso have made way for the ‘Average Speed Camera’ and soon, not yet officially announced, the ‘tyre tread depth Cam’, that’s ‘tire’ for my American readers.
These cameras are embedded into the road surface and, with the aid of Lasers, that’s ‘Lazer’ in Americanese, The Treadcam reads if a car or truck that passes over it has sufficient tread depth.
Aside from just measuring the tyre tread depth, the device can also determine tyre wear patterns, tyre pressure, the tyre type and the axle load, at a cost of £43,000 pounds each, these machines will have to ‘earn their keep’.
But is anyone complaining, no, because we are all monkeys now and your Government knows this.
Which brings me back to GDPR, the new rules… read LAW introduced by the 28 Eurostates but, because of its far-reaching regulations affects just about everybody in every country worldwide.
Of course, YOUR countries own Government(s) could reject GDRP outright, but then that would set back their part of total internet control too.
THIS IS WHY.
Recent history has made it clear any direct attempt of any government to ‘take over’ the internet/world wide web would be met with much hostile resistance.
So, this is what is happening, this is the reason why no Government outside of the European Union is opposing GDRP.
“Unable to directly regulate the Net, it has become necessary to curtail, under various guises, the ability for the common man to exploit the internet’s capabilities.”
GDRP is ‘for your protection and privacy’ just as Speed… sorry… Safety Cameras are for your protection and safety.
Imagine you have a car which you enjoy driving, only the government wants to control where, when and how you drive it.
Now, they cannot have an official sat next to you all the time and they can’t take it from you, so they make you pay a ‘Tax’ to use it on a road. Even so, they charge you more to drive on certain roads by way of a toll.
Then they insist on a Government test every year to ensure your car works. They make you insure the vehicle, so they can raise more revenue by way of tax on tour premiums.
Further taxation and duties become payable on the fuel you use.
Very soon pleasure driving is a thing of the past, you now only use your vehicle when it is necessary, and you have a much smaller vehicle because it is cheaper to run and maintain.
So, without touching your car the Government has controlled what type of vehicle you have when you drive it and where.
GDRP has taken us one step closer to Governmental control of the internet.
Because to control the Web there is no need to touch the Web, just everything and everyone around it, to stifle its reach and its use, to regulate everything associated with it.
What’s more, nobody will complain as it will all be for ‘our own good’.
Anyway, as those monkeys will tell you, “It’s always been this way”.
Like I said at the start of this post, I am not a conspiracy theorist, neither am I paranoid, even if they are really after me or control of the interweb.
Believe me, after all, I am an author.
Thank you for reading this post.
I hope you found this post both informative and entertaining, but not as entertaining as my fictional stories you can find on my own website, which is not, as yet, under the control or domination of one or more collective Governments.
Once we have learnt about something, once we consider we understand it, think we have mastered it, we like to run with it, to keep it.
We are often loath to stop, to give it up… to alter anything.
Many of us are resistant to change, of losing the little comfort zone we made for ourselves. One can liken such to the reluctance of a child giving up a blanket, or a soother.
If we do make the move, we find it easier to be weaned, to slightly adjust, little by little, so we don’t notice the change, or at least that is how we convince ourselves.
The problem is, by the time our situation has evolved in a way which assuages our reluctance, we find we are far behind the madding crowd, so far behind we have little chance of catching up.
In these days of high tech communications and internet connectivity, it is now more obvious than ever before.
Only the fearful and desperate cling to what once was,.
Only the backward and slow reminisce and wish for those ‘good old days‘ when a Facebook post actually reached ALL your ‘friends’ and not just the 3 to 10% they do with today’s algorithms.
The same is true of your book promotions. This is why your sales do not exceed the minimal expectations you tell yourself are reasonable goals, let alone your wishes and dreams to become a consistent bestselling author.
To give away a book for free is an archaic, outdated and outmoded marketing model. One which no longer holds any credence, but one which so many still cling to with dying hope, like a gambler sliding deeper into depressive debt.
Paying another organisation to give your books away is a sign of utter desperation. A despondent cry for help, for someone, anyone to read your story.
In reality, it is authorship suicide; one you may never recover from financially and one which could leave your reputation in raggedy tatters, before you even start.
Book launches and parties no longer pull the crowds. They are a nice way to spend a few extra hours chatting with those you regularly talk to every day; to hear them say nice things about you, your book and “what a marvellous cover” you have.
But such events no longer attract readers. They have been overdone and done over, like an ancient, wrinkled whore, they no longer hold any attraction whatsoever.
Thunderclaps, Headtalkers, Daycause are little more than a (mostly) unseen flash-in-the-pan. A quick blast of tweets and public post which disappear down the scrolling stream faster than Usain Bolt running a hundred meters.
Authors, you NEED to find new ways to promote your works, ways which offer longevity rather than the promise of making a ‘quick buck’ or selling a few more copies of your latest tome overnight… for one night only.
You need to find a simple, ongoing promotional aid which is always working for you, even when you’re not working.
A low-cost way that won’t break the bank, or better still, a way which will pay you a return, a royalty, on your promotional material.
Now wouldn’t that be wonderful…
If only such a thing existed…
Well, such a thing does exist, but only for those who are prepared to move forward, to see the changing lights (mostly red ones) as social media platforms are brought to task and the hyper highway of freedom and unlimited possibility become more crowded, slower and, well… limited.
A small, but growing group of indie authors, are moving forward into the new dawn of altered perception, of interweb reconstruction and publishing future.
It is a group which, (at present), still has its doors open to welcome a few more indie authors inside. Authors with great tales to share, who are well crafted in penning a wonderful story. Authors who are serious about writing, about selling their books, about being authors.
So, what is this group and who are these indie authors?
Simple, we are Electric Eclectic. The book brand which is sweeping the internet.
Before you ask, yes, this is about sci-fi and Robots… but it also about crime fiction, fantasy, steampunk and many other genres. It’s about understanding, imagination and the muse… so read on…
Like all fiction genres, Sci-fi and its many sub-genres must evolve with the times, writers must look to the future. (pun intended)
Czech writer Karel Čapek introduced the word “robot”. It is said his brother suggested using a derivative of the word robata, which means literally “serf labour” and figuratively “drudgery” or “hard work.”
No wonder the robots usually want to revolt, to take over our world. To turn the tables on us!
But, long before the word “robot” was invented, the ideas of mechanical or artificial men was in our ancestors’ consciousness. Early ideas of robots or automata drew inspirations from early writings and figures in mythology, who were described as anthropomorphic and crafted from stone or metal.
Described in the Argonautica as a giant man of bronze forged by the smith Hephaestus, Talos is tasked with patrolling the island of Crete and fending off pirates.
However, he is still partially organic, as is shown in the description of a single blood vessel that runs from his neck down to his ankle. Much like with Achilles and his heel, the vein of Talos is his weakness, and he dies in the story from exsanguination.
This developed into ‘other’ forms of automata,
In ETA Hoffman’s short story, The Sandman, the main character Nathaniel falls in love with the daughter of one of his university professors.
While she is beautiful and elegant, Olympia speaks very little, only responding to conversations with “Ah”.
She is also often motionless for long periods of time.
The people around her find this disconcerting, and it is eventually revealed that she is a lifelike doll.
Enter the early days of Sci-fi as we recognise it now,
Edward Ellis’s Steam Man is an early example of the Edisonade genre of science fiction.
Derived from Thomas Edison’s name, the genre describes stories that feature an ingenious young American inventor, who uses his inventions to go on adventures, solve problems, and defend himself against his enemies. The invention often has many purposes, such as weaponry and transportation.
In this case, the teenage hero is Johnny Brainerd, who creates the steam man and uses it to pull wagons that can carry passengers. Despite its large size, the steam man can run quite fast, and Johnny uses this to his advantage (such as, for hunting buffalo).
An imitation of this story was written by Harry Enton in 1876, called Frank Reade and His Steam Man of the Plains, which also features a young inventor and his robots. Frank Reade’s steam man improves upon the first, with a much more efficient engine due to improvements in hydraulics and use of lighter-weight alloys. Thus, it is faster and stronger. Frank Reade’s son, Frank Jr., would eventually go on to create Steam Man Mark III, and replaced the use of steam with the use of electricity.
This and Steam Man of the Prairies were dime novels, popular fiction that is much like the comic books of today.
Dorothy finds the mechanical man, Tik-Tok, with a printed card suspended from the back of its neck.
The card provides directions for ‘using’ Tik-Tok, such as how to make him speak, think, and move by winding the clockwork in his body. Tik-Tok needs to be periodically wound like a toy to function, as he cannot wind himself up.
Tik-Tok has been referenced in other fiction, and his benign nature subverted into something more sinister, such as in Gregory Maguire’s Wicked and John Sladek’s Tik-Tok.
As I spoke of in the opening paragraphs of this post, the term Robot arose thus…
This famous play, which was successful in its time, describes a factory that makes artificial people or roboti, from synthetic organic matter.
Less like robots and more like androids or cyborgs because of their biological nature, these synthetic people work for humans but eventually organize an uprising, causing the extinction of humans.
Karel Capek’s play is influential for being the first to use the word “robot”, replacing “automaton” or “android”. It is also worth noting that “robota“in Czech means forced labour, of which the robots in the play were made to do.
“Robot:We wanted to be like people. We wanted to become people.
Radius:We wanted to live. We are more capable. We have learned everything. We can do everything.
Robot:You gave us weapons. We had to become the masters.
Robot:We have seen the mistakes made by the people, sir.”
Which basically, and with a giant leap of literary faith, brings us to the time when robots were simply robots, like Robby from ‘Lost in Space’. A time when Isaac Asimov penned ‘I Robot’ and hope for humankind lingered.
We all knew where we stood.
Then along came James Camron who introduced us to Skynet, and all hell broke loose.
So, where does that leave us, how can we tell new, inventive and genuinely futuristic tales of machines, androids and automaton now?
Maybe, a little closer inspection of where we stand now will help us, if we stand on tiptoes and look far over the rising horizon…
Robots are all around us, toiling away in factories and warehouses, busting a gut in landfills and working in hospitals. The NAO model introduces school kids and students to programming and robotics and it also teaches children with autism. Another model, Pepper, was created to work in the service sector; its tasks include attracting potential customers and consulting with buyers.
As the IOActive team discovered, to seize control of NAO you only need to be on the same network as the robot. Experts found vulnerabilities allowing commands to be remotely executed, effectively giving over full control of its actions.
To demonstrate how these vulnerabilities can be exploited, the team forced NAO to demand bitcoins from its human interlocutor.
But real criminals would be limited only by their imagination and programming skills. What’s more, it’s not just NAO that can be infected with ransomware; the more business-oriented Pepper is just as vulnerable, and other models probably are as well.
Just imagine if one fine day a robot teacher or store clerk, in full view of John Q. Public, started swearing and insulting people before going on strike or picking a fight.
You never know.
But why would anyone hack a robot?
What do criminals have to gain here? Won’t it just spoil someone’s day or their life? That might be enough incentive for some hackers, who often do such things just for fun.
But there’s another reason: money.
The profit motive is simple. Buying a robot costs about $10,000; and if it breaks, it must be repaired or replaced.
Both of those require a fair bit of cash, but factor in the downtime cost and reputational loss of having a robot threaten customers and the sum rises considerably.
If an industrial robot is hacked, it can pose an immediate threat to employee safety or production quality.
An attacker compromising a robot in one of those ways might offer a quick solution to the problem, (which they caused), pay a ransom and everything will be just fine.
But, as you might guess, cybercriminals don’t always keep their word. Of course, the vulnerable robot might be hacked again, requiring another payout.
And then, another,and another…
What can be done?
Robots are here to stay (and multiply), so avoiding contact with them is not the way to go. For that, you’d need to invent a time-machine and go back a long, long way as mentioned above.
Instead, users and manufacturers need to be sensitive to robots’ weaknesses to ensure these devices do not go from cutting-edge to catastrophic in the blink of an eye.
Robot creators need to think through security issues in advance before production starts. Today. Better still, yesterday.
Then, after product release, all ears must be kept firmly to the ground to respond promptly to reported vulnerabilities and get them fixed.
…Or some sort of mayhem, a type of life-shattering, civilisation ending apocalypse may just leap from the pages of a book and into reality…
Or maybe that is just my way of stimulating your muse… think on, but carefully and you could join the ranks of Robert A. Heinlein, Arthur C. Clarke, H. G. Wells, Jules Verne, Edgar Rice Burroughs and Isaac Asimov.
You see not all sci-fi which includes rouge robots must be apocalyptic, that idea has been done, and done, and done to death. Now it is time for a differing approach.
Take your favourite crime-based books or film, or a combination of both media. Choose a story without any robots and select a character or two.
Now, think of your chosen characters as automaton, combine those two or three films/books plots. (If they are Hollywood or from mainstream publishing, it will not be a difficult task because they use a five, or seven-point, plotline… its what makes mainstream boring and predictable.) and start writing. Don’t copy… No plagiarism allowed; simply let your muse write the story guided by the basic (combination) of the plot(s) outlines.
You will have a brand-new crime story, but one which includes robots. It does not even have to be set in the future or on another planet, it can be urban fiction, steampunk, fantasy… you decide.
What you will have is a cross-genre fictional work which can be promoted to a wider, but targeted audience. That means greater sales opportunities and a much larger readership potential.
Why not make your robot a stooge, a fall guy? Have the reader fall in love with it, empathize with it.
Alternatively, have your robot(s) as the victim, the missing link to solving a situation… not all robots are bad, not all are good, some simply have frailties, others damaged personalities, why, some are even human… aren’t they?
Whatever you do, have fun and visit my website HEREI have a load of crime fiction and other ‘stuff’ you will just love. But don’t just take my word, go and have a look now.
It is some time since I wrote a ‘Rambling’ Rambling on this blog.
Partly, this is because of the large number of commitments I have undertaken recently. Commitments which have left little time to indulge myself in creating an informative and entertaining Ramble.
Which I hope this post shall be, (at least if you read on from this point.) Although this post may seem to ‘go around the houses’ to reach its point, bear with me. It will be worth it in the end… Honest 😊
My last Rambling style post was a bit of a rant, but one which shares the truth about how ineffective giving away free booksis and how doing so is damaging all indie author’s prospects.
This post sort of follows suit regarding ranting… maybe I am becoming a ‘Grumpy old man’ or maybe I am already one?
The basic theme here is “Stop whinging, get off your arse and DO something about it.” In fact, I think I’ll use that phrase as the title of this post.
First, the ‘whining and whinging’, the consistent, droll, mind-numbing drivel I am hearing from too many indie authors recently.
“My sales are bad.”
“Facebook doesn’t help anymore.”
“Things are getting worse.”
“People don’t even want my free book.”
“Nobody leaves reviews.”
“Adverts are so expensive and don’t reach enough people.”
And so forth. All one must do is read the comments and posts in various social media groups and pages to find a torrent of such remarks.
Now, I may or may not agree with all the above. Okay, the first three are stupid statements, the last three have some if little, merit.
But this wave of despondency seems to be sweeping the internet at present and gathering momentum as it does.
Fuelled, no doubt, by the rumours about CreateSpace, Amazon and Goodreads along with the recent and forthcoming changes and alterations to Facebook.
Don’t ask me for details, go read Gisela Hausmann’s books on the subject, she is far better informed than I. Read more Here
Now, nobody said writing a book would be easy. Nobody told me marketing and selling would be a cinch.
It takes commitment, persistence, patience and determination… and lots of it. I said lots of it, that’s much, much more than you are considering or believing right now. So, treble the difficulty factor and then multiply that by the power of 92 and you could be approaching reality.
Calculate the exact opposite for difficulty and obstacles. The resultant sum should reflect the starting point of your journey into the realms of authorship.
Bilbo Baggins exploits were a simple walk in the park, in comparison of what you shall have to endure.
That is why we love being indie authors.
However, (for those who may not be familiar with my Ramblings I love the ‘However’s’.)
So, to continue.
However, I cannot take this downhearted view as one expressed solely by the Indie community, or for that matter, one voiced on social media alone.
I think this mood or at least the pessimistic and depressed expression of disappointment and negativity concerning the present and, more so, the cynical distrust of the future is something which is sweeping our society.
This attitude has now reached such proportions everybody has to have ‘a condition’, be it a simple skin complaint, a dietary need or speech impediment, let alone a major physical or mental syndrome.
As an alternative, or as an added factor, one must also be a survivor… of sexual or mental abuse, a victim of crime, a recovering drug user or alcoholic with latent effects of reoccurring PTSD… and so forth.
Nowadays everyone must have an underlying ‘Backstory’ to be accepted as part of our modern society, however truthful or however factitious that may be.
Personally, I blame Simon Cowell and the XFactor… which traumatic experience I have survived, by the way.
I am an exexfactorbackstorysurvivalist, in tentative remission.
NOW… don’t get me wrong. I am not speaking of genuine suffers from such disorders, I am speaking of the media hype and their insatiable appetite to present all who become ensnared in their tentacles as some form of miracle entity. A god or goddess-like warrior who has fought off the evils life has thrown at them.
Such influence affects us and our children’s perception of ‘normality’ in the most ambiguous ways. It is this seeking of constant sensationalism which clouds many of the authors and writer’s minds when they complain about how difficult it is to sell their books.
Instead of ‘doing something‘ to alter the situation it is far easier for many to shout “I am a Victim” and “Facebook is abusing my rights” and such like.
This is where, if you are still with me, I refer you back to the title of this post. “Stop whinging, get off your arse and DO something about it.”
I shall finish with one simple and short example-
I recently launched an initiative for indie authors called Electric Eclectic. I doubt very much if you have not seen at least one blog, post, comment or advertisement concerning such.
Electric Eclectic allows indie authors a way of using, or recycling, short stories to market and sell their prime titles. This is a form of promotion which actually earns the author money while working as a silent salesman on their behalf.
I have offered, both on major social media sites and by personal email invitation, the opportunity for a limited number of other authors to join us.
The take-up has been dismal, even though our own authors have seen sale generated via Electric Eclectic already and indications of ongoing success.
YET, I have seen some of those who know about this opportunity continue to whinge and whine about sales, the cost of promotion and the ‘state of the market’ while ignoring the offer from Electric Eclectic and other genuine initiatives.
My suspicions are these people enjoy the attention their complaining creates and, I wonder if, they like to ride the current media bandwagon of portraying themselves as victims, casualties and wounded sufferers of circumstance?
Thank you for reading this Rambling. Paul.
To find out more, or to request becoming an Electric Eclectic author, visit the website HERE and use the contact page to message Electric Eclectic.
This year 2017 has seen some seismic shifts in the publishing and advertising industries as major issues such as transparency (Note Facebook revealing their loss of Data a short while ago. This note added April 2018) and brand safety have taken centre stage. Next year is shaping up to be no different, as the industry looks ahead to key issues which will dominate the news agenda over the next 12 months and beyond.
“GDPR will hit in May 2018 and with just seven months left to be ready, many within the industry are only just learning about the implications. People are spending more time online across a wider array of devices and are becoming smarter at consuming online content. Consumers are hungry for real content and will be looking for ways to cut out fake news and time-wasting content by seeking out better quality content providers and starting to pay to access the best content.
2018 will continue to deliver opportunity; we all need to think about building interactive audio relationships via Amazon Echo, Google Home and other voice controlled devices, and how virtual reality devices like Oculus Rift and PlayStation VR and augmented reality via the latest generation of iPhones will affect the way we communicate brand messaging to our audiences in new and innovative ways.”
“Native advertising has rapidly gained momentum this year and will continue to do so in 2018. With native ad spend expected to reach more than €13 billion across Europe by 2020, it is safe to say it is no longer just a buzzword, but an essential part of the marketing mix that is finally getting the recognition it deserves from the industry.
“As publishers look to focus on brand safety, transparency, and the user experience, I expect we will see more of a migration to native as developments in creative technology bring more flexibility. By harnessing the capabilities of programmatic, the scale and efficiency of this flourishing format will be a force to be reckoned with.”
Electric Eclectic books incorporate aspects of Native Advertising in their marketing strategy assisting indie authors book sales. The amazing thing regarding Native Advertising is most people will not recognise or notice it occurring because it is an almost subliminal method of carrying your brand message.
THE CONTINUED RISE OF INDIE AND HYBRID PUBLISHING
Traditional publishers may offer prestige, but also limited creative control and royalties. In recent years, independent publishers have accounted for an ever-larger share of the market, with the help of high-quality cover designs, writing, and marketing plans.
Last year, data showed for the first time the share of self-published books and books published by small publishers, at 42 percent, was larger than the market share of big-publishers, at 34 percent.
Ascendant is the phenomenon of hybrid publishing, which includes a variety of publishing models which straddle a middle ground between traditional publishing and self-publishing. Veterans of traditional publishing have left behind their larger companies to bring top skills and experience to the world of independent publishing.
More and more authors are opting for hybrid publishing, which allows them to hold on to creative control and royalties while benefiting from the best of the traditional publishing world.
LONGER SHELF LIFE WITH EBOOKS WILL MEAN INCREASED COMPETITION
With the rise of digital book listings, we are seeing a change in the lifecycle of books. When keeping books available depended on a limited quantity of physical shelf space, it meant books that no longer sold well were removed from shelves as soon as possible.
With digital retailers, there is no such premium on shelf space. With books remaining discoverable indefinitely, authors and publishers may want to take a fresh look at “legacy titles” – books published in the past that are no longer a focus for your attention.
Consider reinvesting in a new cover, book description, and marketing resources to revitalise these titles.
Remember, in this age of digital ebooks and kindle, the more books you have available, the better chance you have to grab your share of the crowded eBook market.
This is one reason you should have a minimum of three marketing branded books working for you and all your prime titles. Electric Eclectic (part of CQ International) is the fastest growing and most inventive brand. Take a peek at their Website.
MORE BOOKS, STAGNATING READERSHIP
According to Pew Research Center, about 73 percent of Americans read at least a book a year.
This is a figure which has remained stagnant since 2012. Meanwhile, the number of books published in the US has grown exponentially since 2010. Self-published titles have grown from 133,036 in 2010 to 727,125 in 2015, an increase of 446.5 percent. (latest full figures available.)
Getting your books to readers has, therefore, become an increasing challenging.
Authors need to work towards “discoverability”, working to develop their own audience as an author and creating strong brand marketing for their books.
Many self-publishing authors also face criticism for poor editing and packaging – with more books on the market, the pressure to create and maintain high-quality presentation is becoming paramount. Pay special attention to your design choices; editing and marketing can help self-published books rise above the rest. But a great cover is your first opportunity to attract readers to your book. A professional cover will help you gain sales. Check out PeeJay Designs by Paul White. They offer a professional, but friendly and communicative service HERE
AUDIOBOOKS ARE GROWING
Audiobooks are the fastest growing sector of the publishing world.
In 2015, the audiobook industry was valued at 2.8 billion dollars. 43,000 books were released that year alone, compared to 36,000 in 2014 and just 20,000 in 2013. (Latest full figures available.)
Since audiobooks do not follow the same agency model as eBooks, publishers have been more willing to experiment with distribution models for audiobooks. In particular, subscription models, such as that of Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited platform, are on the rise. In a similar approach to Netflix or Spotify, the service offers unlimited access to 2,500 audiobooks.
While the cost of creating an Audiobooks is higher than most forms of book creation, including many hardcover formats, it is one of the publishing trends to seriously consider.
As with all relatively new markets, audiobooks platforms, production and distribution methods are only in their infancy, so invention and initiative are prime.
PUBLISHING TRENDS 2018 – SUMMARY
The publishing trends of 2018 are likely to follow the broader patterns seen throughout the decade; the rise of small publishers, digital platforms and new formats.
In other ways, the publishing world will continue to see a backlash to traditional, restrictive and controlled marketplaces during in 2018.
Keeping an eye on such trends can help publishers and authors get a sense of where things are headed in the years to come. The future will be about development, choice and ‘canny’ marketing.
The data reveal what some might consider a surprising generational pattern in book reading.
Young adults, those aged eighteen to twenty-nine, are more likely than their elders to have read a book in the past twelve months.
In 2014, there were more hugely successful movies based on young adult books than ever before. Divergent, The Maze Runner, The Fault in Our Stars, If I Stay, and The Book Thief all appealed to a younger audience and may be causing this surge of interest.
We’ll have to wait to see if this is a passing phase or a longer-term trend.
The survey also noted women are more likely to be the book readers in a household. The average woman reader read fourteen books in the past year, compared with nine books for men.
In 2014, Pew reported that 50 percent of Americans have a dedicated handheld device, either a tablet computer like an iPad or Kindle Fire, or an e-reader such as a Kindle or Nook, for reading digital content. This is up from 43 percent in September 2013.
While tablets are still the most popular electronic way to read digital books… at present, last month The Wall Street Journalpredicted they may be pushed aside by smartphones in coming years.
In the first three months of 2015, 41 percent of ebook buyers read digital books primarily on their tablets, according to the newspaper (citing Nielsen data), and 32 percent read ebooks primarily on their e-readers. However, the publication also reported on a Nielsen survey from this past December that found 54 percent of ebook buyers read on their smartphones at least some of the time. In 2012, that number was just 24 percent.
Fortune cites reasons for the adoption of reading via smartphone:
“Convenience, of course, as well as ramped-up technology that makes reading on mobile phones a more pleasant experience. Smartphone screen sizes, too, are getting larger.”
Okay, that will do for today.
There is a mass of indicators which will need your careful consideration when deciding which tactics to adopt in your overall marketing strategy.
Chose carefully and wisely, invest well and reap the rewards.
Thanks for reading another of my rather out-of-character serious postings… my normal, regular Ramblings shall resume shortly.
If you have been following Ramblings from a Writers Mind, or if you have scrolled down, looking and reading many of the posts, you will notice they fall into two main categories.
The first, those where I share my experience and attempt, in my rather haphazard way, to impart and to clarify certain aspects of wordsmithing, along with tips and ideas you may wish to try or adopt.
The second Rambling posts are ones where I express my opinions and beliefs about being an indie author. Many of these articles create controversy amongst the varying schools of thought running through the indie community. I do not see this as a bad thing, but one which stimulates discussion and debate, a great platform to exchange views and examine convictions.
This is the first of two posts regarding two current controversial topics.
This one is about of giving away free books, an activity which is damaging the entire indie book market and something I am adamantly against.
So, without further ado, let’s get stuck into this wonderfully heated issue of free books.
When Amazon’s algorithms changed some time ago, giving less weight in rating terms to giveaways as opposed to paid-for copies, many authors became less enthusiastic.
However, the advent of new players in the giveaway frame, such as BookFunnel and Instafreebie, has added a new way of distributing free books and a new purpose: to build your author database by effectively trading email addresses for free books.
While the jury’s still out on the long-term benefits we discover how many of these subscribers unsubscribe – as is their legal right – or not bother to read their freebies.
As with any decision, we should evaluate any potential short-term benefits alongside the long-term effects on the mindset of our customers/readership.
The vast (vast, vast) majority of free downloads never get read, so giveaways don’t accomplish what they’re intended to do: spread the word, get reviews.
On top of that, many authors pay money to advertise these giveaways, and spring for shipping in the case of hard copies, so they’re actually paying people to get a free copy and not read it.
Why buy the cow when the milk is free?
We’ve all heard that saying. Basically, the meaning behind it is that someone isn’t going to pay for something that is offered for free.
Whether it’s your virtue or your book, the issue is still the same.
When a writer devalues their work to the point of giving away their book, what are they really doing? Giving it away as if it were nothing?
It begs the question, are those authors so desperate to have someone, anyone, read their book, that they are willing to pass them out like pamphlets on the street corner.
Is the book so bad they think no one would or should pay for it?
What about the months, maybe even years, the author spent pounding away at the keyboard creating the book? What about the lost hours spent editing and reworking it to perfection?
Most authors sacrifice a lot to write a book. They give up any and all free time in exchange for getting the story on paper. That must be worth something; certainly, more than a freebie.
Authors tell me it’s a promotional ploy.
Promotion is great and today we must constantly try new angles and ideas to draw in readers. I have no issue with giving away a chapter to entice a reader to purchase the rest of the book, but give away the whole book?
It does not make any sense.
Many, often new or struggling authors, hope by giving away a book, readers will buy more of them or will buy the next book they release.
Unfortunately, it does not work that way. Readers are a very frugal bunch. If they can get free books, why would they pay for yours? They will simply pick up someone else’s free book tomorrow, and someone else’s the next day, and so forth.
The numbers don’t lie
You may disagree with me — maybe your experience is different — but as a publisher, I have to tell you the sales numbers don’t lie.
While a select small number of authors may have seen book giveaways as a clever promotion to boost the sales of their next book, it is rare. Giving books away isn’t making sales numbers climb.
How could it? Free doesn’t equal bigger royalty checks.
Meanwhile, authors have devalued their craft to the point where even they don’t think it should cost anything.
I’ve been to a lot of craft shows the past couple of months. I’m amazed at the price of the handmade pieces people are selling. Then I think about the hours and hours of hard work these artists put into each piece and I must admit, it’s probably a bargain.
Are not authors the same as these other artists? Aren’t authors creators of their craft and shouldn’t they value their work as much as a wood carver or a glass blower does?
“It’s a tough time in publishing for authors but the answer isn’t giving it away. To me, that’s the same as giving up.”
People who get a free copy of your book will not convert to buyers.
You see there are two distinct markets when it comes to anything really: the buyers and the freebie hunters.
I know if I go to Amazon and I’m searching for a book about dogs I click on the top free category, I’m not leaving the free category. It’s already in my mind to not pay for something like that. Even if it’s an absolute hobby of mine, I already have a wealth of knowledge resources I can snag for free.
For instance, there are hundreds of new adult fiction books published every day on Amazon. Hundreds of those books are put into KDP Select and are set to a 5-day free promotion every day. If I’m an avid reader of literary porn and I know I can get new quality erotic stories for free every day, why would I pay for it?
Hell, most of them probably won’t even read the book, depending on the genre.
There was a time when I would go to Reddit’s free eBook page and go on download sprees. I Never read any more than 2% of those books and they were deleted from my Kindle library with the same quickness they were uploaded.
It did not matter, they were free. They held no value.
Your e-mail list isn’t going to grow substantially by giving away a book. Even if you offer another free book for signing up, your list will merely be tainted by freebie chasers. They will hop on your mailing list, snag the download, then unsubscribe.
I can’t help but laugh at self-publishing authors who brag about how many books they gave away in their most recent promotion.
Last time I checked, free never paid the bills.
2,000 free downloads of your sub-par eBook do not indicate any level of success.
If it was not selling more than a copy a week, then you gave it away for a few days before it sprang to a few copies a day, I would say it was worth it.
But no… it never happened, did it?
You see, when you discount your book to zero, it devalues mine too, in fact, it devalues every author’s book by undervaluing and diminishing the entire marketplace.
Please, don’t devalue our publishing world.
Giving away one free book can equal a part of an authors mortgage payment, one of their children’s meals, maybe a new pair of shoes they shall now never own.
The thousands of free books given away mean many thousands of pounds/dollars/euros which should have supported an author and their family has been taken from them.
Giving books away is little different to stealing from your fellow writer’s pockets.
Remember, if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.
So, okay when would I, if pushed, ever do a giveaway?
Personally, never… but….
It seems to me that the only time to do a giveaway is to brand new authors and salty seasoned veterans.
Even if you have written 10 books, but you get no sales, you’re still new.
The only, vaguely possible benefit, of ever doing a giveaway is most major eBook storefronts have an ‘also bought‘ section which shows which ‘other’ books customers also bought.
This is the ONLY possible ‘money shot’ when doing a free book offer (and ONLY for new authors). The population of this ‘also bought’ section will link your book to other books, (& vice versa) so someone searching for a book of a similar subject may stumble onto your book.
So, there you have it, folks. You might give one eBook away for free when you are a brand spanking new author, or perhaps when you have such a massive following and sell millions of books each month, that giving away a book which was once an all-time bestseller, possibly twenty years ago, does not matter a single jot anymore.
….This is where too many indie authors fall into the FREEBIE TRAP.
Trying to emulate the marketing and promotional actions of major mainstream publishers who market the books of authors who are household names.
The truth is, you do not know what teeny-weeny, itsy-bitsy part of the publisher’s overall strategy their giveaway forms part of. It is definitely NOT a stand-alone, individual and isolated ploy, but a small cog of an overall strategy, planned with experts as part of a long-term stratagem focused on future markets and indicated customer trends. A fact every individual indie author I have discussed this subject with was, either not aware of, or did not take into consideration.
My advice, leave it alone.
There are MANY better ways to generate interest in your works.
Take Electric Eclectic books as an example.
Electric Eclectic is where you take a short story, one you may have forgotten and is lying unused and unloved in your files, or maybe you have one which you published in an anthology some years ago. The point is, where your story comes from is not really important.
What is important is your tale must be between 6k and 20K words, a story which you can turn into a Kindle eBook. By publishing your short story, as a novelette under the Electric Eclectic brandenables you to benefit from the brand’s extensive promotions and marketing initiatives, many which reach markets way beyond the regular social media platforms.
While there is a small, one-off licence branding fee for each book, you keep all the royalties and rights… but that is only the beginning. The true advantage of being part of the Electric Eclectic brand is that each Novelette works as your own marketing tool, leading your readers to your prime books and novels.
So, instead of giving your prime books away, or worse still, paying someone else to give them away, your promotional tool, (your Electric Eclectic book) is earning you royalties while gaining you potential readers for those main works. It’s a win, win situation.
It’s time to stop devaluing your books and yourself, make your promotions work for you.
I have been working on an awful lot of ‘Stuff’ these past few weeks.
I am always busy, it keeps me from hanging about on those street corners. But these past weeks I have been busier than most.
Let me give you a clue….
Over the last two weeks, I wrote approximately 630,000 words, 350,000 last week and 280,000 the week before.
I have promoted the November edition of CQI magazine, the Sci-Fi season special. Click on the cover image to read.
I am in the midst of compiling two annual catalogues for CQI, ‘The Collection – a guide to year-round giving’ and ‘The LIST 2018′ a catalogue of commended and acclaimed books.
During which time, I have beavered away at marketing to keep my two latest books high on the Amazon sales lists. Successfully.
I finalised and formatted a further two books, including designing the covers. They are:
Dark Words – dark tales & darker poetry is scheduled for release on the 1st of February 2018.
Within the Invisible Pentacle, a collection of intriguing feminine titles is due out on the 1st of June 2018.
That done, I can concentrate my efforts on completing two other WiP:
Floyd a Novel about an escaped psychopath on a bloody rampage of revenge and…
On the Highway of Irreverent Rumination & Delusion, which is a rendering of my past blog of the same name, about musings of life, living and our society, with many additional perceptions, formed into a book.
I am hoping to have both completed by the end of 2018… but who knows?
Included in this time, right up until yesterday morning, I have published three new eBooks, Kindle ‘novelettes‘ under the collective brand of Electric Eclectic.
Electric Eclectic books are absolutely fantastic, they enable readers to ‘taste‘ a previously unread or unknown author at the extremely low price of just 1.00 (Dollar/Pound/Euro). HOWEVER… unlike many low-cost books all EE novelettes are vetted to ensure they meet exacting standards, so readers can buy Electric Eclectic branded books with confidence.
EE is a Franchise, where the individual authors benefit from the marketing and promotion of being associated with the prime EE brand itself. Enquiries about becoming an EE author to EEbookbranding@mail.com
My current EE novelettes are:
North to Maynard, a tale of Gremlins in our modern world of high tech.
Three Floors Up, where a psychotic man watches those below until…?
Mechanical Mike, a tongue-in-cheek sci-fi robot story, set in Paris during WW2.
Oh, I have also helped a fellow author to create a fully illustrated children’s book, written by an eight-year-old girl. A project not without its problems, but one where I have enjoyed overcoming the challenges.
I took three days out to travel to Belguim during this time period too.