A free short story, just for you.

For those who don’t know…

I am Paul White, a multi-genre author of fiction, non-fiction, and semi-fiction.

Many of my short stories are available under the ‘Electric Eclectic’ brand, some are eBooks, others paperback collections, while a growing number are those wonderful Pocketbook Paperbacks that are increasingly popular because of their size, as they really do fit into your pocket. Perfect for reading while commuting or away on vacation.

You can find my books on Amazon and many other bookstores. All are shown on my website

Now, on with the story.

This one is titled ‘Free Spirit’, enjoy.


FREE SPIRIT

.

When I walked into the apartment, I knew this project was going to be fraught with difficulties.

Firstly, the place has been unoccupied for some time; a musty dampness prevailed its entirety. I sensed this staleness was not simply neglect but an ethereal odour of others’ lives, of previous tenants.

Secondly, there were many pieces of furniture still in situ; old, dusty brocade curtains hanging at the windows, personal effects, a small trinket box sitting on the dark wooden sideboard, a silver-backed hand mirror laid on the dresser, and a time-worn leather-bound book on a side table, near the musty, torn chintz-covered armchair, all emitting a staleness of abandonment.

Before I could start the repairs and redecoration, I would have to clear all this old junk from the building. That would involve putting in some extra hours, late nights I had not planned. I was sure the extra effort would be worth it in the end because it is not often one can find such a large home for such a low rent in a neighbourhood of this stature.

On Friday, after work, I hurried to the apartment, eager to begin the clear-out and clean-up.

Once achieved, I could start on the repairs. Tearing off the old wallpaper, ripping up the musty carpets, filling the holes where pictures once hung, all that sort of stuff.

Then I would be in the position to begin to decorate what was to be my new home, my first home.

Fresh paint, light colours on the walls, modern, sleek, designer-style furniture, new light fittings, and mirrors. I like mirrors, they lighten even the dullest corners. I wanted the place to be what I can only describe as understated urban chich.

I was excited.

Tonight, I would be alone. My friends, the ones who offered to help, were all out on the town, or so they said. I don’t blame them for not being here today, after all, it was a Friday night.

Tomorrow, I had promises, commitments from them. I would have a small troop of workers grafting away all day in return for cold beer and snacks, oh, and pizza at the end of the day.

But tonight, it was just me.

My first task was to wrestle the largest items of furniture into a group by the lounge door, so my team of workers could easily carry them out to the skip, which was due by eight o’clock in the morning.

I was surprised by the weight of the old furniture. I’m uncertain if it was Mahogany or Oak, but it took all my effort to ‘waltz’ it across the room. No wonder the previous occupiers had left it where it stood.

By the time I had shifted all the pieces, I was sweating from the effort.

Opening the window did not cool me down. The air was too heavy and humid, and too weak to do more than slightly move those heavy curtains.

It was now midnight, but before I finished for the day, I wanted all the drapes removed, the litter from the floors swept and binned. I wanted this room ready for paper stripping, and carpet removal.

By the end of the weekend, I would be happy if this room and the hallway were ready for my creative attention. If I could get at least one of the two bedrooms stripped too, well, that would be a bonus.

Right now, my stomach was grumbling. I needed to eat. Anyway, it was time to take a break. A stroll to the all-night cafe on the corner, where I could grab a coke, a sandwich, a pork pie, or toasted sandwich. It would do me the world of good to eat something.

Once in the café, I decided I would be wasting time if I stayed to eat, so I carried my refreshments back to the apartment.

Wearily lowering myself into the tatty chintz armchair, I froze. Looking around the room in disbelief. The coke slipped from my grasp, spilling over the threadbare carpet.

The furniture, and I mean all the furniture I spent the last few hours moving into a group close to the doorway, was now back in its original position.

It was as if I had not moved a single item.

The window was closed, the curtains still, the lingering scent of neglect somehow stronger than before.

There was something more.

I could hear a faint melody floating into the room. Trumpets, brass. Smooth music. Perhaps a nineteen-forties swing band?

I shook my head, trying to gather my thoughts. This was not possible.

I moved the furniture. Placed it by the door.

I was trying to convince myself I had not, purely for my sanity.

The music was playing softly.

Surely it was coming from another apartment. Yet it sounded far closer, emanating from somewhere in this apartment.

Maybe I was overtired. Whatever; I needed to get a grip on myself.

I followed the sound, walking slowly along the hallway until I was outside the room where the music was coming from.

Someone was playing a joke on me. My friends have seen me leave, deciding it would be funny to mess with my head.

Angrily I snatched open the door, ready to yell at whoever was doing this, whoever found it funny to try and scare me.

The volume from the gramophone blasted out a crackling version of Chattanooga Choo Choo as I stepped into the room.

I halted, standing stock still.

I could not comprehend what I was seeing. This room was perfect. A nineteen-forties parlour. No damp, no faded wallpaper, no rotting furniture.

It was bright, new, perfect.

“Come in, David,” she said, “sit yourself down. I have been waiting for you.”

To my right, I saw a handsome-looking woman. She was wearing a flowing evening gown, long white gloves, and a pearl necklace.

In front of me, a well-ordered room, brightly lit and warm. Behind me, a cold dank hallway, the discoloured wallpaper peeling from the walls.

This was surreal.

“Don’t be shy,” she said, “come, sit, enjoy some champagne.”

She was holding out a wide-rimmed coupe glass at arm’s length. Hesitantly, feeling I had little option, I took the glass from her hand.

“Who are you?” I asked.

“Oh, you young people, you are always in such a hurry,” she replied, smiling, and lifting her glass towards mine.

We touched glasses. Automatically I said, “Cheers.”

She smiled at me again, replying with a “Chin, chin.” She sipped her champagne without wetting her dark red lips.

I sat, bolt upright, in a small chair, and as nervous as hell. She lay back, relaxing on a chaise lounge opposite my chair.

If I were dreaming, this was far too real.

The woman spoke. “So, you want to move into my home, to come and live with me. Do you, David?” Her eyes were firmly focused on mine.

“There must be some confusion,” I said, “I have just bought this apartment, it’s mine.”

“Oh no, David,” she answered, shaking her head, “It will never be yours, it belongs to me, and forever will.”

 “I don’t understand,” I replied.

 She nodded understandingly, reaching out, placing a gloved hand on my knee, patting me like a reassuring aunt.

“My husband built this building back in the early 1930s. I have lived here ever since the day it was completed. I shall never leave. Now, I like you, David. You are a fine young man, so I am willing to let you stay if you wish to share my home with me?”  She left the sentence hanging.

I sat motionlessly, my mouth ajar. I did not know what to say.

“Well, David” she prompted, “what have you to say?”

“This place, it’s a mess, all old and rotting. I need to clean it up, do repairs, redecorate, get new furniture… except this room, your room, its lovely, I mean it’s really nice.” I knew I was gabbling, the words tumbling from my mouth faster than I could think.

“Oh, David.” She said, “don’t worry about that for now, just tell me if you will be happy sharing my home.”

“But when people come, my friends, family. How do I explain this room, or you?” I asked.

She smiled like an understanding aunt looking at a child. Patting my knee again she said, “No one will know, David. No one except you.”

“But this room, when people look around, they’ll…”

She interrupted me. “More Champagne. You look pale, you’re shaking. A good drink will settle your nerves.” She continued, “Think, David. This apartment, how many rooms are there? Don’t answer, but this room is not one of them, is it?”

I was mentally counting, walking through the apartment. She was right, this room was not one of them. This room did not exist.

My mind was in a whirl. “I, I, I don’t know. The furniture, I moved it. I put it by the door, now it is all back where it was. Then I heard the music and… and, I followed the sound. It led me to this room.”

Her laughter filled the room, “Oh my dear boy,” she said, “I have thrown you into a right tizzy, haven’t I?”

I gulped the last of my champagne.

“I have something stronger if you prefer?” she said, “a whisky, perhaps. I know what you men are like.”

I was nodding. It was an almost unconscious action as my mind was whirring. Random pieces of thoughts flew through my mind.

“Do not fear. You may decorate the apartment as you wish. I will not stop you, David. That is, if you want to live here? Now, before you worry too much, I don’t leave this room, well, only when the need arises, and I am sure I‘ll have no reason to venture out while you’re here.”

“I would like to live here but, who are you?”

“Oh, my. I have been remiss, haven’t I? How rude of me for not introducing myself. My name is Evelyn, Evelyn Keyes-Johnson.” She held her hand towards me. “So, David, are we friends. Shall you be sharing my home?”

I took her hand and shook it, although slight, Evelyn had a firm grip.

“I would like to stay, and I would be happy sharing with you,” I said, although I had not totally convinced myself. “I do have a question though.”

“Ask away, young man.”

“Are you a ghost?”

Her laughter filled the room with lightness. She smiled a wide, bright grin.

“As I died many years ago some people may call me that,” she said, “but I prefer to consider myself a free spirit.”

END.

Free Spirit©PaulWhite2022

Projection of Thoughts through Space and Time… or Show, don’t Tell.

It’s been a while since I found time to write an informative post for ‘Ramblings’. The reason is, I have concentrated on writing, publishing, and marketing my books, as all good authors should.

The stimulus for me to write this blog post is, recently I have seen many people asking about ‘Show don’t Tell’. Questions such as “How do I do it?”, “What does it mean?”, and ‘why!”

In my regular rambling way… (hence the title of this blog), and without using any more technical terms than necessary, I shall endeavour to share not only what ‘show don’t tell’ means but why it is the golden criterion for all creative writers.


SO, HERE WE GO…

Firstly, and without any reservation, to write well an author must understand narration.

Creative writing, which includes fiction, principally relies on narrative. The purpose of narration (sometimes referred to as the story’s voice) is to tell a story or ‘narrate’ an event, or series of events.

Inevitably, a major quantity of narration involves description. Description creates, invents, or visually presents a person, place, event, or action, allowing the reader to visualise what the writer is attempting to portray.

Descriptive narrative aims to make vivid a place, an object, or a character. It acts as an imaginative stimulus, allowing the reader to relate to the writer’s notions.

The writer should not simply aim to convey facts about the subject but give the reader a direct impression, thus allowing the reader, the recipient of those words, to create a mental picture that is in union with the writers’ thoughts.

Simply put, through the correct usage of narrative, a writer can project their thoughts into the reader’s mind. Virtually, a form of compliant subliminal connection. One which can transcend both space and time.

To achieve this, writers utilise a practice generally referred to as ‘Show, don’t Tell’.

<<>>

SHOW, DON’T TELL.

This term is often attributed to the Russian playwright Anton Chekhov, who is reputed to have said, “Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.”

What Chekhov factually said, in a letter to his brother, was,

“In descriptions of Nature one must seize on small details, grouping them so that when the reader closes his eyes, he gets a picture. For instance, you’ll have a moonlit night if you write that on the mill dam a piece of glass from a broken bottle glittered like a bright little star and that the black shadow of a dog or a wolf rolled past like a ball.”

You may notice Chekhov does not go into a mass of detail in this explanation. Descriptive writing does not mean the author should attempt to portray the subject in every excruciating detail.

Ernest Hemingway, a notable proponent of the “Show, don’t Tell” style, sustained his ‘Iceberg Theory’, also known as the ‘Theory of Omission’, which he developed while employed as a newspaper reporter.

The term itself originates from Hemmingway’s 1932 bullfighting treatise, Death in the Afternoon.

Hemmingway writes.

“If a writer of prose knows enough of what he is writing about he may omit things that he knows, and the reader, if the writer is writing truly enough, will have a feeling of those things as strongly as though the writer had stated them. The dignity of movement of an iceberg is due to only one-eighth of it being above water.”

Creative literature, in general, hinges on the artful use of a wide range of devices (such as inference, metaphor, understatement, the unreliable narrator, and ambiguity) that rewards the careful reader’s appreciation of subtext and extrapolation of what the author chooses to leave unsaid, untold, and/or unshown.

<<>>

George Singleton explained this concisely with this notable quotation.

“You do not have to explain every single drop of water contained in a rain barrel. You have to explain one drop – H2O. The reader will get it.”

These examples suggest the writers understood the need to respect their readers, who should be trusted to develop a feeling for the meaning behind the action, without having the point painfully laid out for them.


Examples follow.

Telling:

He knew something was wrong because he could see the fear in her eyes and that she was trembling.

Showing:

She trembled, looking up at him with fear in her eyes.

In this example, ‘Showing’ uses fewer words but packs twice the punch, because you are seeing her actions demonstrating her fear, instead of being told what one character noticed.

It is rarely the function of a character to notice something, that is the reader’s role. By showing the action, the reader (and the characters) figure it out simultaneously, creating a wonderful ‘aha’ moment using a gripping narrative.

<<>>

Telling:

Roger was never very bright when it came to figuring things out, he could never seem to do even simple things right.

Showing:

Roger worked on the crossword puzzle for two hours, scribbling out more incorrect answers than correct ones. The result of all his hard work? Ink stains on his hands.

This example demonstrates the character’s qualities by showing he cannot complete a crossword puzzle and does not realise a pencil would be more practical than a pen.

Showing how your characters behave, readers will interpret their traits automatically. You should not need to endlessly describe every characteristic they have.

<<>>

Telling:

There was broken glass on the floor and a pool of blood behind the bar.

Showing:

His boots ground the glass shards on the floor with each step. He let out a gasp as his eyes focused on the puddle of blood behind the bar.

Showing allows the reader to experience the scene through the character’s experience, and places it in context, as does the character’s emotional reaction.

<<>>

Telling:

The pancake tasted bitter; he couldn’t stand it.

Showing:

He spat out the pancake. The congealed mess landed on his plate. “Darlene, why have you put so much baking powder in these pancakes again?”

<<>>

You can use dialogue to show ideas, emotions, and actions, which is far preferable to telling the reader. Tasting, for example, is an experiential verb, never tell readers about the experience a character has. Let your reader find out by being part of the action.

When your characters have experiences, you should be showing your reader those experiences through strong scenes and action, not by talking to them from a third-person perspective. This disengages the reader from the story.

If an author understands and utilises ‘Show don’t Tell’ effectively, they will project the essence of their narrative onto the reader in such a way the reader will become fully immersed.

Once the author has ‘captured’ the reader, and they become ‘lost in the book’, then the book becomes ‘unputdownable’, simply because the reader, by their own will and desire, creates a compulsion to find out ‘what happens next’ to the characters within the tale, with whom the reader will now be totally, and emotionally engaged.

This is what makes a good story, a great story.

It is why people read, to escape, to be immersively absorbed and entertained.

It is what sells books.

Remember, someone could be reading your book, anywhere in the world, and at any time in the future, even one hundred years from now, an exchange of extraordinary connection through space and time.

This is one reason I love being an author.

Keep happy, Paul 😊


Paul White is a prolific author with more than twenty-eight published books, including an Amazon no.1, and an international bestselling author.

He is the Principal of Electric Eclectic books, a founder member of the Authors Professionals Cooperative, and a member of #Awethors, an independent authors’ international alliance.

A good introduction to Paul’s works is, ‘Within the Invisible Pentacle’, a collection of short, and not so short, stories.

Available via Amazon. UK, https://amzn.to/3HRUGrC All other areas, mybook.to/wtipentacle

On the Highway of Irreverent Rumination & Delusion

For far too long I have been working, albeit intermittently, on a title called, ‘On the Highway of Irreverent Rumination & Delusion’

This book-to-be, (I shall complete and publish it… one day), is full of recollections, personal views, my ‘sideways look’ on life, friendships, and society.

The contents of this book are loosely stitched together, taking place during a fictitious road trip. The following chapter is one which starts as I enter Scotland.

Enjoy.

Outdoors

I have just crossed the border.

The sign said, “Welcome to Scotland.”

In all truth, the change is unnoticeable at first; but as the miles disappear and the number of people dwindle, the changes begin to reveal themselves.

Scotland is significantly different to England, not only on a political level and in a geographical sense, but of spiritual connotation.

Scotland retains many of its ancient origins, its Celtic traditions. It is far more natural, raw, and autochthonous.

Like many wild places, the character of the environment harks to our latent memory. It stirs within us feelings and dreams which lay dormant, subdued, smothered, covered, and repressed by our modern world of steel, glass, concrete, and unnatural plastics.

Fleeting half-thoughts, mists of the long-forgotten, stir within the recesses of our brains, our subconscious, and subliminal minds. Sights, smells, senses peak as we feel, and see much the same as our ancestors did a millennium before.

This is genetic memory stimulated. This is where tales of déjà vu are born, this is where life is re-lived, echoes replaying like an old record crackling to life.

It is this very ancientness of wilderness, of wide-open space, of freedom and memory, I was now passing through, which took my wandering mind to my childhood, my outside childhood.

You see, when I was a child, I spent most of my time ‘outside’.

Maybe, I am just of ‘that’ generation? possibly the last generation whose young lives were honed and shaped by the playing fields and parks, the waste grounds and streams, the woodlands, the scrapheaps, the dumps, and all the inaccessible, and off-limit areas, in which we played and adventured.

Areas now considered far too dangerous by the health and safety ‘police’; they who insist on secure fencing, notices, warning signs, and patrols to protect, not the children, but the pockets of the wealthy landowners, or the coffers of the local councils, and multi-conglomerates from litigation.

The second ‘concern’ is of abduction, and paedophiles.

No longer are parents comfortable in allowing their young to venture unrestricted into the great playgrounds of ‘outdoors’ unsupervised.

Which is not only a great shame, but an indicative reflection of our so-called civilised society.

I believe this loss of freedom, the forced imposition of restriction is detrimental to the well-being and development of our current, and future crop of children.

The actual risk of attack, according to recent statistics, is no higher than when I was a young boy. The years of the two-thousands are no more dangerous than those of the sixties.

The difference is the media, who are no longer satisfied by reporting events, they now have a penchant for sensationalising everything, to speculate and hypothesise.

They find extraordinary pundits to postulate and theorise.

It is this current trend of media frenzy, the over-dramatisation, the addition above facts, of overstatement and embellishment, which lends itself to the social hysteria, and collective knee-jerk reaction of fear.

It is they who created the ‘me too’ society.

A society where everyone is no one, unless they are a ‘me too’. Unless they stand and claim their fifteen minutes of fame… well, of media hype, or internet trending moments.

Now, to be ‘normal’, to be well balanced, happy, fit, healthy, and not claim you are a ‘me too’, is considered ‘weird’ or ‘strange’, or both.

If that is you, perhaps you need help?

Serious help?

Now, I have no wish to see any harm come to anybody, child, or adult, but consideration for facts and freedoms should take precedence over fear and speculation.

Children playing will, at times, harm themselves. It is an inevitable fact. It is risk; a part of growing, of learning, of development, and should not be eliminated from a child’s life experience.

As I have said, I was an ‘outside’ child and youth. I climbed trees, waded in icy cold streams looking for sticklebacks and newts.

I was one who found the high heaps of scrap metal, waiting to be turned into pig-iron, a fascinating source of props for make-believe play.

Derelict buildings were castles or forts, woodlands, great forests, where battles were fought with sticks and shields, (often found on those scrapheaps).

The hedgerows, or parcels of wasteland housed our secret dens.

We lived in a world unseen and unknown by ‘the others’, those strange creatures who are known as adults.

Our world was only accessible to the few, the chosen young of few years life.

I have many images and memories of my childhood pass through my mind this morning, and never, not in a single instance was it raining.

Snow yes, ice yes, wind, puddles, sun… yes.

But never rained.

It never rained when I was a young boy.

Never, not once, at least not when I was playing.

I can recall looking out from my bedroom window on a rainy evening, watching cars passing by, windscreen wipers flicking and rain spraying from the wheels in their wake, hanging in the air, a faint mist swirling in the light wind.

I recall my father, who was balding, saying the rain made his head itch, as we walked to the local shop from my grandmother’s house.

I have a memory of sitting in the warmth of a bus with my mother. I was drawing doodles with my fingers in the condensation on the windowpane as the rain lashed down, and the thunder crashed above.

But it never rained when I played outside.

I know this is simply my memory being selective, choosing to falsify my recall, to enhance my fond recollections, but I kind of like that.

I prefer remembering my childhood being this way, however inaccurate; after all, these are my memories, mine alone.

I might tell you about them, explain what I experienced, but I cannot share them with you, not unless you can enter my mind and see what I saw, feel what I felt, smell what I smelt.

Going ‘out to play’ with my friends was not always a straightforward affair.

First, I would call at their homes. Either they were in, but often they, like me, were ‘out’.

There were days when I would walk miles searching for my friends.

Back then, we had to travel to find one another.

We had no phones, no means of instant communication, so we made vague arrangements to meet at a location, or a choice of two… maybe three.

These are the places where we looked first.

Sometimes we would find one another immediately, on other occasions we would have to hunt around.

If my friends were not where they said they may be, I then searched our usual haunts, the places we would gather, where we generally hung out.

This too, was all part of being from the ‘outside’ generation.

I have I plethora of wonderful, and fond memories of ‘playing out’ during those halcyon days of my childhood.

Which brings me to this though:

What memories will the young children of today hold?

Will this new generation have anything substantial to recall of their childhoods as they age?

I know many who seem to live their lives absorbed in a netherworld, a semi-cyborg existence of Playboxgaming, and i-texting, of cyber friends, and avatar existence; rarely seeing the natural light of the sun.

How many shall never smell the primaeval scent of ancient heather carried on the breeze, or hear the screech of a wild eagle echo from the mountains?

How many will never truly venture ‘outdoors’?

I wonder, and I fear.


Paul White is a multi-genre author of fiction, semi-fiction, and non-fictional works.

His books range from Children’s stories to tales of Crime and Violence, from true accounts of those who live in the worlds War Zones, to recording the humorous social history of Royal Naval Life.

Stories of Heartache and Lost Love stand alongside episodes of Psychological Terror, and the plain absurd.

The common denominator which runs through many of Paul’s works, is the most important matter of all, the Human Condition; that of Life, of Love, Happiness, Laughter, Anger, Anguish, Fear, Hope, Uncertainty, Pain, and Loss.

​​​Paul is an ardent independent traveller and globetrotter, a nature lover, and supporter of ecological and wildlife preservation.

He says he has a “warped sense of humour, is a lover good food, good wine, and great company.”

You can visit his website here, http://bit.ly/paulswebsite


Interior Book Layout & Design Principles

I have recently been helping several new-ish authors, along with some quiet well-established writers, with the design and layout of their book’s interiors.

It appears many authors, even those with some experience, do not understand the established and recognised principles of interior book design.

The standard layout of books is no accident. It has evolved from the first medieval printing presses to the current day online publishing, and POD.

The issue here is, if these basic conventions are not followed, at least to the greater degree, your book will look and feel amateurish to readers.

Thus, leading to slow take-up of your title, and possibly, maybe probably, eliciting poor or bad reviews.

In short, an inadequately formatted book, even one which has undergone meticulous copy, line, and development editing, will fall short of the standards expected and required by today’s avid readers.

This post, unusually for me on this blog, directly addresses the basic principles and concepts of interior formatting of paperback & hardcover books and, to some degree, that of their lesser cousin, the eBook.

I have not called this post ‘Interior Formatting,’ as that covers a much wider and far more complex set of procedures, and is covered elsewhere in greater detail, as in my books ‘The Frugal Author’ and ‘Lots of Author Stuff you Need to Know’.

At the end of this post, you will find links to these two books which address many, if not most aspects, of independent and small press authorship.

Both books are ready to download now and, I am certain, you will find the answers to many of the questions you have, but have never asked.

NOW, WITHOUT FURTHER ADO, HERE IS THE PROMISED POST….


BOOK DESIGN AND SECTION LAYOUT

Note: a page is one side of a leaf.

When you ‘turn a page’ you are actually turning the leaf of a book, which is two pages. Each side of the leaf is a single page.

In this post, ‘Blank’ indicates a page typically left blank by traditional mainstream publishers.


FRONT MATTER

The front matter of a book consists of its very first pages: the title page, copyright page, table of contents, etc. There may also be a preface by the author or a foreword by someone familiar with their work.

First Page: Blank/Flyleaf

Leave this blank.

2nd Page: Frontispiece/Blank

Page 2 is the back of page 1 and remains blank unless you include an illustration.

Such an illustration is called Frontispiece.

This decorative illustration or photo appears on the page next to the title page.

Traditionally, a Frontispiece will be placed on a left-hand page.

Title page

Usually opposite the Frontispiece.

It shows the full title of the book, along with the author’s name as they appear on the cover.

Copyright page/Colophon

The Colophon or copyright page includes technical information about copyrights, edition dates, typefaces, ISBN, as well as your publisher and printer.

Usually positioned on the reverse of the title page.

Blank Page

Accolades

Quotes from esteemed reviewers and publications in praise of the book.

This praise, or some of them/it, often appears on the back cover too.

Dedication page

A page where the author names the person, or people, to whom they dedicate their book, and why.

This typically comes after the copyright page.

Blank Page

Table of Contents

A list of chapter headings and the page numbers where they begin.

The table of contents, often abbreviated to ToC, should list all major sections that follow, both within the body and in the back matter.

Blank or Epigraph

A quote or excerpt which indicates the book’s subject matter.

An Epigraph can be taken from another book, a poem, song, quotation or almost any source.

It generally immediately precedes the first chapter.

Preface:

Reason for writing, word of thanks.

An introduction written by the author, a preface relates how the book came into being or provides context for the current edition.

Blank

Foreword

An introduction is written by a person other than the author.

Often written by a friend, or scholar of the author’s work. Otherwise by a recognised authority of the books subject’s matter.

It is an honour to be asked to write a Foreword.


BODY

The body of a book is pretty self-explanatory: the main text that goes between the front matter and back matter. For readers and writers alike, this is where the magic happens — but it’s not just the content that’s crucial, but also how you arrange it.

Prologue (for fiction)

The section before the main story begins.

A prologue aims to set the stage and intrigue the reader.

Many prologues contain notes of intriguing events which only become contextualized as the reader gets deeper into the story.

Introduction (for nonfiction)

A few pages that usher the reader into the subject matter.

The introduction clarifies the book’s setting and/or events linking to the content, along with other information relating to the main narrative.

Note: The difference between a preface and an introduction is a preface is personal to the author, discussing why they authored the book, and what their process was.

An introduction relates directly to the subject matter, it establishes the position of the book in relation to its content.

Chapters

All books have chapters, or sections, into which the narrative or content is divided.

Epilogue (for fiction)

An Epilogue is a scene that wraps up the story in a satisfying manner.

Often an epilogue takes place sometime in the future from the last chapter.

If the book is part of a series, the epilogue may raise new questions or hint at what is to come. A technique known as a ‘Hook’.

Blank

Conclusion (for nonfiction)

This section sums up the core ideas, values, and concepts of the text.

Explicitly labelled conclusions are becoming less frequent in nonfiction books, which now commonly offer final thoughts in the last chapter, but academic dissertations are still formatted this way.

Afterword

This allows giving final notes on the books content not otherwise addressed.

It is a useful tool for edited, revised, and new editions.

The Afterword can be written by the author or another person.

Postscript

A brief final comment after the narrative comes to an end, usually just a sentence or two.

For example, “Mr Archibald Carruthers died at his Cotswold cottage three months after this book’s publication. Happily, he saw his story come to fruition.


BACK MATTER

Also known as the ‘end matter’ is the material found at the back of a book.

Authors utilise the back matter to offer readers further context or information.

The back matter is also an excellent marketing tool, listing the authors ‘other publications’ and giving links to websites.

Acknowledgements

A section to acknowledge and thank all those who contributed to the book’s creation.

The acknowledgements generally appear directly after the last chapter.

About the author

Is where the author gives a summary of their previous work, education, and personal life.

For example,  “John Doe lives in Hampshire with his wife, two wayward daughters and two, even more wayward, Great Danes”.

Copyright permissions

If the author has sought permission to reproduce song lyrics, artwork, or extended excerpts from other books, they should be attributed here.

Such items may also appear in the front matter.

Discussion questions

A section rarely used nowadays, but worth considering for inclusion.

Thought-provoking questions and prompts about the book, intended for use in an academic context or book clubs.

Appendix or addendum (nonfiction)

Additional details, or updated information relevant to the book, especially if it’s a newer edition.

Chronology or timeline (nonfiction)

List of events in sequential order, which may be helpful for the reader, especially if the narrative is presented out of order. A chronology is sometimes part of the appendix.

Endnotes

Supplementary notes relating to specific passages of the text, and denoted within the body by superscripts.

Most often used in nonfiction, but occasionally found in experimental/comedic fiction.

Glossary

Definitions of words or other elements which appear in the text.

In works of fiction, the glossary may contain entries about individual characters or settings.

A glossary should appear in alphabetical order.

For example, in a science fiction book, the Glossary could list the names and details of individual planets in the story.

Index

Generally used in non-fiction.

A list of special terms or phrases used in the book, along with the pages on which they appear, so the reader can find them easily.

An index should appear in alphabetical order.

Bibliography/reference list

A formal list of citations, a comprehensive breakdown of sources cited in the work.

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Here are those two books I mentioned earlier, books no author should be without.

The Frugal Author

Amazon Kindle UK: http://amzn.to/2EYcJjZ

Amazon Worldwide: http://authl.it/B07B27SPBL

Non-Amazon bookstores: https://books2read.com/u/3JynnB

Lots of Author Stuff You Need to Know

Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/301nGYY

Non-Amazon bookstores: https://books2read.com/u/bP5O9

Amazon worldwide: http://authl.it/B07K5Z3F9K

The best time to release your new book

Yesterday I completed another book, making it ready for publication.

Over the previous three days, I have titivated with the internal layout, put the final finickity touches to my tome, trying to ensure I have no orphaned sentences, that the images, I have several throughout the book, are set as I wish and then, once again a run-through for any grammatical, punctuation or other errors such messing about can create.

For the two days before, I worked on finalising the cover.

The book Is now filed away awaiting the right window for publication. (I’m thinking sometime around May.)

The reason, I believe this will be the BEST time for me to release this book.

But is there a best time for you to release a book?


Let’s look at how this publishing game pans out over the year, and what else might influence when you make your book available.

Publishing your book as soon as it is ready is termed ‘soft publication.’

Your ‘media date’ or ‘hard publication date’ or ‘release date’ can be whenever you think the stars are going to align with your media coverage and the success of your pre-release marketing.

It should be when you think you can sell the most books.

Traditionally, in the UK, new books are published on a Thursday, especially a Thursday between the 7th and 14th of the month.

The weeks leading up to autumn are often some of the busiest times for new releases, as publishers jockey to fill bookstore shelves ahead of the upcoming winter holidays.

If you read are a regular reader of my blog on writing, ‘Ramblings from a Writers Mind’ or have any of my books on authorship, you will know I often say, “Copy what the big boys do.”

The reason I say that is, the major publishers rarely do anything by chance. They spend a fortune on strategic planning and market research to ensure they get the right books, in the right places, at the right time to maximise their sales and hence their revenue.

Regarding the release of your next book, you could follow my advice and do the same as the major publishers.

But wait a moment. Let’s think about a few things first.

Some would say, do not release your book anytime between a Tuesday and a Thursday, because doing so will put your book in direct competition with the major publishing houses’ releases.

Suggestions of when is best include weekends, a Saturday will (generally) give you five whole days before the big houses release another title.

Some industry data points to Sundays and Mondays to attract the most journalistic attention.

It may be worth choosing a date early or late in the month, (before the 7th, or after the 14th), just after or just before the ‘Monthly Payday’.

Of course, there are other considerations, particularly for books of certain genres.

Romance books do well in early February, and a couple of weeks before the summer holiday period.

Horror works well from mid-November, and through October.

Introspective works sell best during the Summer, books like ‘Go Set a Watchman‘ for instance, as do many Adventure stories.

Books described as ‘light & airy‘ do well in the Springtime.

Unsurprisingly, winter tales, snowy themes and settings, do well during the winter months.

But there’s more to consider than the seasons.

The premise of your book can be all-important at certain times too.

Check out which television series are scheduled over the next six months to a year, find which have comparable stories, settings, locations, or characters to your book.

If your book is a period tale and a new costume drama is to be released on Television in August, then that program could help boost your sales.

If the new Sci-Fi blockbuster is due out in March… go for it. Major publishers have been known to change the name of a book to align with a mainstream film title.

For example, say a film, a Sci-Fi blockbuster sequel is named ‘Beyond the Far Crescent’, the publisher may alter a book’s title from, ‘From the Planets Shadow’ to ‘The Light of the Crescent’.

Never be afraid to re-title your book to align it with the marketplace, demographics, or current trends.

Consider too Special Calendar Days.

Easter time always sees a boost in Christian related books. Martin Luther King Day, for Black origin works. International Women’s Day, for strong female characters, feminism, and women’s rights. Remembrance Day, for War Stories, or Memoirs, for instance.

In this case, my advice would be, as I so often say, “do what the big boys do. Learn from them. Use their knowledge to compete with them.” It’s a bit like literary judo, using their size and bulk against them.

I admit there are no hard and fast rules, but I do suggest seriously planning when you release your next book.

Look ahead, research, find out what influences will affect your book, and create your strategy accordingly.

To help you decide when to release, or hold an ‘official’ launch day, here’s a rough guide cobbled together from industry data.

January

Self-help; diet; inspirational; business.

If your book fits into this category, you’ll find the media are particularly interested at this time. Mianly because it’s what many consumers are thinking about. Consider New Year’s resolutions, business forecasting/planning.

February

Self-help associated with relationships; debut authors; business; fiction.

If you are a debut, or relatively new indie author, this month is (generally) not so full of new titles, and there may be more promotion, and media opportunities, as a result.

March

Debut authors; mysteries; fiction

April

Women’s fiction

May

Beach reads; women’s fiction; biographies; books on mountain climbing (Good month for indies)

June

More beach reads; women’s fiction; biographies, or nonfiction that appeal to male readers on vacation, or for Father’s Day.

July

Quieter month, better for debut authors; more of what you saw in June.

A suitable time for indies, as there are fewer ‘new releases to compete with.

August

Debut authors; education-related titles; narrative nonfiction by lesser-known writers… read indie authors. (Get in, before next month.)

September

Public affairs and politics; serial authors in fiction and nonfiction; cooking; highly publicised titles by debut authors with mainstream publishers.

This is the main month, traditionally the annual main release month for major publishers. It is an incredibly competitive month and not indie-friendly.

October

More politics; cooking; big nonfiction titles by well-known personalities and writers; higher-end photography books; art books.

Not an indie-friendly month, unless you are releasing an art or photography title, possibly a nice, glossy, hardcover ‘Coffee Table’ tome.

November

Photography; art; gift books; ‘big name’ authors; diaries and journals, and anything you can think of that will sell in the current budget year.

Go for a well-planned strategic, high publicity release in early November through to the last few days of October.)

December

A good month for lesser-known authors. A variety of books are published, including latecomers for Christmas, or titles for people who want to get a jump on the usual January offerings.

Good for indies looking to establish base sales going into the following year.

UPDATE:

Regarding ‘Jack’s Dtis2’, the book I mentioned at the start of this post; I gave it a ‘soft release’ in March, (with a pre-order by invitation only) followed by an ongoing, promotional program targeted directly at my market segment. The book is still selling in good numbers a year later, and shows no signs of slowing down.


Feel free to browse this site, there are a plethora of posts written for writers and authors of all experiences, and abilities.

I am open to comments and am happy to answer your questions on any aspect of ‘Being Indie’.

Many questions we have about authorship are answered in the books shown below. Both are books of distilled knowledge; they are NOT guides or how-to books but indispensable books for any writers library.

You can download both now, or read for FREE on Kindle Unlimited. Simply click on the links below

https://mybook.to/Authorstuff https://mybook.to/FrugalAuthorugalAuthor

Two must-have author books, saving you money, time, and heartache

I have heard many writers, over several years, comment about the costs involved in publishing and how they restrict new or independent authors.

What writer wants to start their authorship in a position of book debt; knowing they must sell hundreds, if not thousands, of copies before they recoup their writing and publishing costs?

For me, mitigating unnecessary expense is the only sensible way to proficiently indie publish, after all, being a full-time author is a professional commercial career.

Even if an author is not a full-time writer, I see no gain from spending out more money than is absolutely necessary to achieve the same result.

Surely, it is common sense and logical to follow the concept of getting the most value for every penny of your hard-earned cash – the highest return on investment- possible?

It was adopting this attitude which allowed me to develop a method of indie publishing letting me generate profit from my very first book sales.

How I do this is no secret.

I have published two eBook/Kindle books, which are ready for you to download, where I share my methodology, ideas and principles which you can adopt fully or partially, implement in part or whole, now or over time, and adjust to suit your working practices.

These books are NOT ‘how-to’ books, ‘Instructional manuals‘, or ‘tuitional publications’. Neither are they ‘step-by-step’ guides.

They do NOT contain the common and over published/promoted drivel about how to ‘market your book’ and ‘what to do to become the world’s bestselling author’ (again) or ask you to buy irreverent and patronising bullshite for a thousand dollars a year, (non-refundable), subscription.

They are books of knowledge.

Insights into the indie publishing world, full of the distilled results, the acquired understanding and personal practice of being a successful, award-winning, Amazon bestselling indie author who dislikes paying out more than is necessary.

These books are presented as simply as possible, excluding as much technical or market segment jargon as practicable, while sharing a significant quantity of pertinent comprehensive information, in a light-hearted fashion; hopefully a reflection of my disposition, or at least my outward temperament after, at least, two cups of strong black coffee on any given morning.

Based on the reckoning you are already a proficient writer and amazing storyteller, you now want your books to look good, to feel professional and attractive so people cannot resist buying them… am I right, or am I right?

Then what are you waiting for? Download these two books today, you know you want to.

The Frugal Author

UK https://amzn.to/3ivgtZd

Worldwide https://mybook.to/FrugalAuthor

Lots of Author Stuff You Need to Know

UK https://amzn.to/2SncZxm

Worldwide https://mybook.to/Authorstuff

A bit more Rambling…

As always, my intention of posting regularly is not happening; as they say, (whoever ‘they’ are), the highway to hell is paved with good intentions!

Even now, in lockdown or self-isolation or whatever you may be calling it, my life is far too hectic to guarantee I post in any other way than at random intervals.

Generally, my posts tend to be informative, either about publishing or to give insights into writing or ‘being indie’ while trying not to get too technical and academic… hence boring.

This post is not focused on any of the above, it is simply me ‘Rambling away’ about what has taken my time over the past… however long it has been.

So, without further ado this is it.


If you are a follower or regular reader of my ramblings, you will know I run Electric Eclectic, in its most simple form it is an alliance of indie writers from around the world who, besides promoting their books, are ready to help and aid other writers with their personal and technical dilemmas regarding all things indie publishing.

EEnewLogo

Several things are happening with Electric Eclectic, the first we are encouraging more authors to join our ranks.

Secondly, we are accepting entries to the Electric Eclectic Novella Fiction Prize 2020. The ‘Prize’ is the winning stories having their books published as paperback and eBooks along with marketing packages.

We are also at the formatting stage of Electric Eclectics latest anthology, one especially written to celebrate the 75th anniversary of VE-Day. It is simply called VE75.

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The Government brought forward the May bank holiday to May the 8th is to coincide with the VE-day anniversary. Sadly, due to the outbreak of coronavirus, the planned public events are most likely to be cancelled.

However, Bruno Peek, VE Day 75 pageant-master, told me,

“Even if I must ring around every organisation and individual involved and tell them we’re cancelling, there is something everyone can still take part in regardless. At 3 pm on Bank Holiday Friday, the nation will be asked to raise a glass to toast the heroes of World War II – men, women, children wherever they are. We’re not asking people to raise a glass of alcohol so everyone, all people, faiths and creeds, can join in. It can be done anywhere: in the supermarket, at home. The Prime Minister can even raise a glass from Number 10 if he’s not able to leave Downing Street by then.”

Electric Eclectic is producing VE75 as an eBook, so people can simply download it to whichever device they wish. The book is part of the VE-Day celebrations, so I hope you will buy a copy and help support our military veterans and military families in need.

Apart from my Electric Eclectic commitments, I am working on several ‘Works in Progress’, two books in particular are;

FLOYD, a bloody psychological revenge thriller, while On the Highway of Irreverent Rumination & Delusion contains my personal views on life, living, the state of society and the world in general. I shall let you know when they are due for publication.

Meanwhile, you can read about my Works in Progress and find my published books, including some special editions which are not available from Amazon, here.

Apart from writing, I am a digital artist and photographer, feel free to browse my art website.

Of course, I still have all the ‘normal’ regular home and household chores to attend to. Add to the above, my position as editor of Electric Press Literary Insights magazine and you will see, even shut in my home, I am far too busy to be able to commit to a set programme of posting to this blog.

EPletterhead

I started this post with the intention of thanking all my followers and subscribers and regular readers… you know who you are, and to say keep safe, keep well and keep happy.

Please, if you are an author, consider joining us at Electric Eclectic. Email us for more information, EEbookbranding@mail.com

If you are a novice writer or even an established author, think about entering the Novella Fiction Prize.

If you are a booklover, a bookworm, a bibliophile then subscribe to the Electric Press magazine, it’s FREE and it is simple, just go to the Electric Press blog, where you can also read the current edition

Well, that’s enough of me for today.

See you on the other side.

Paul.

Unconnected connections of habit.

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I recall reading Roald Dahl’s ‘Georges Marvellous Medicine’ to my son when he was a child. One phrase I found particularly hilarious was when George’s grandmother said, “Growing was a nasty childish habit.”

I’ll give you a short extract for context.

“You know what’s the matter with you?” the old woman said, staring at George over the rim of the teacup with those bright wicked little eyes. “You’re growing too fast. Boys who grow too fast become stupid and lazy.”

“But I can’t help it if I am growing fast, Grandma,” George said.

“Of course, you can,” she snapped. “Growing’s a nasty childish habit.”

As it happens, in the ensuing years I found my son adopted other ‘nasty childish habits’ growing boys seem to enjoy. I mentioned most of them to him in much the same way as George’s grandmother, not that it had any effect!

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However, it is not childhood, growth, or adolescence peccadillos I speak of today, but one of habits.

You see, like many other authors, my mind is constantly working overtime. Even when I am ignoring it, doing regular stuff like cleaning, gardening, or shopping, it is whirring away noticing things, listening to other people’s conversations, reading notes, lists, and phone screens (over people’s shoulders), and so forth.

It really is a bit of a rouge in many ways.

Rotational_symmetries_in_designs_produced_by_a_kaleidoscopeDSCN2440The thing is, those subconscious bits of my mind remember it all, record it, and mull it over, twisting totally unrelated events, jiggling individual occurrences, shaking them together until a kaleidoscope pattern of instances that hold the possibility of illusory whimsy forms.

This is when it digs a sharp elbow of attention into the soft kidneys of my platitude, painfully jerking my ‘normal’ daily thoughts away from the mundane and into the imaginative world of fantastical conception.

Last night, as I was going to bed, I felt the aforesaid sharp elbow ram painfully into the soft parts of my consciousness.

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A voice in my head spoke excitedly to me.

“You know,” it started, “you write a fair bit about remembering the past, about nostalgia and stuff?”

“Um, yes,” I said, not sure where this was leading.

“Well, what about if people get all nostalgic because they survived it?”

“Survived it?” I questioned.

“Yeah.” The voice was shouting in my brain. “Think about it.”

“I’m going to bed,” I said. Trying to placate my thoughts.

“Yeah, but you’ll not sleep, not until you understand this.” The voice said, sounding a little annoyed and more than a little bit smug.

Of course, it was right. I needed to do this now, as tired I was. So, I grabbed a notebook and pen. (I have several dotted around the house exactly for moments like this.)

“Okay,” I said, “fire away.”

“How about if… people love the past, the recent past, like the times in and around their childhood because they lived through it, or most of it. They survived relatively unharmed. Well, they must have done, or they wouldn’t be here now, would they?”

“Um, no,” I replied, “I suppose not.”

“So, just like in a good book, or a movie, where the hero rides off into the sunset at the end, that’s what you have done, along with everybody else who reminisces. You rode off into your sunset to arrive in the here and now.”

“Well, maybe, sort of.”

“I’m right. The past is where your parents were. They helped keep you safe, mended your cuts and bruises, kissed your grazed knees. It was home, comforting, warm. Your bedroom, your inner sanctuary, guarded by your parents.”

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“I guess so.” I was chewing my inner lip. Something I rarely do. “But not all memories are good ones, bad things happened too.”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” my mind said, “I’m not talking about those bits. No one gets all sentimental over the bad stuff. We remember it when we must, but not in a nostalgic way. Nostalgia is reserved for nice memories.”

“I’ll go with that,” I said, nodding to myself.

“Well, that’s the key,” my mind continued.

“The key to what?” I asked.

“The key to writing something captivating in your books, especially when you’re basing them in the past, or have characters talking about ‘back when’ & ‘do you remember’ and stuff. It’s great for flashbacks, prequels, and stuff like that. Think about it.”

I was thinking about it.

“Even a futuristic story must have its past.”

I scribbled a few rough notes, odd aide memoir single word notes I could refer to later. (That later being now).

The thing is, after a good night’s sleep, a day carrying out family chores, and a visit to the dentist for a clean & polish, I have mulled over my conversation with the excitable voice from last night, and my conclusion is… I agree.

It makes a ton of sense for us to hold fond memories of good times. They could well be recollections of childhood events, maybe a loving mother tucking you into bed, possibly escaping an annoyed farmer while scrumping for apples, or like some of the memories I have written about previously, such as days out for a family a picnic, or a train journey to the seaside; all exciting experiences for a child.

My teenage years hold more life events that have helped forge who I am today. Don’t get me wrong, I have instances of near-death, but… I survived to tell the tale. I did ride off into my sunset… although some moments may be more akin to crawling along a drainage ditch in inch thick cloying mud… but those tales are for another time.8ZXBf5MBEC-10

It’s called living life.

As an author, I feed on such memories, use them to build my fictional worlds, create my characters, lay plots, and write scenes. It is a habit I’ve adopted.

Until now, until the conversation with myself, I did not consider why nostalgia, which is according to the dictionary, ‘A sentimental longing, or wistful affection, for a period in the past; even one never experienced,’ is such a powerful apparatus to use to elicit emotion.

Now, I have spent time complementing the reasons, it makes perfect sense, and one I shall be far more aware of when employing it in my writings in the future.

So, while scrumping for apples, and reading George’s Marvellous Medicine may be unconnected events, both in time and geographical distance, the voice in my head found a way to join them together into a cohesive entity.

You could say they were unconnected connections of habit.

Keep Happy, Paul


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I would love you to check out my books, you can see them all on my website, even those not available on Amazon, including exclusive hardcovers.

Don’t forget to look at my Electric Eclectic books, eBooks and Pocketbook paperbacks. You can find them on my website 

I am open to comments and communication, so feel free to contact me at pwauthor@mail.com or via Facebook.

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Amazon’s A9 algorithm, dispelling a myth and the future…

Amazon-A9

In most of my posts, I ramble away in an unplanned manner, eventually making sense of, or come to a conclusion, about whatever topic is being discussed.

I tend to stay clear of jargon and try not to get too bogged down with the technical aspect of… stuff.

I have tried to do the same here; if you really want to get all techy and scientific you’ll need to undertake some research of your own.

Otherwise, please read on, some explanations, tips, and links are included.


‘A9’ is the proprietary search algorithm developed by Amazon. It is named after the company’s subsidiary which handles SEO

It has one job, to answer customer’s purchasing queries.

Please note, it is NOT Google.

Amazon is the primary destination for book searches, so understanding A9 is critical to your author success on this platform.

Amazon is happy to let A9 fly under the radar, even with A9 being somewhat revolutionary, to say the least.

We all love how Google seamlessly adapts its SERPs to your browsing habits, but A9 floated this idea successfully way back in 2004. A9 also pioneered visual street views long before Google Maps was a thing. The point is, despite being the most valuable company in the world, Amazon isn’t keen on pushing A9 through as a wide-lens search engine. In fact, you won’t find many people who have heard of the A9 algorithm.

The simple reason is, as I said above, it is NOT Google.

Amazon is not in the Searcher Intent business. Searcher intent is simply the type of request or query a specific user is looking for. For example, searcher intent is extremely obvious when terminology such as “buy” or “sell” is used. This is 100% commercial intent. E.G. “buy shoes” “sell my car” etc.

Whereas other intents, such as informational, e.g. “how-to” is also searched by users in YouTube, Google and other major search engines.

Amazon though, being a product-based search engine, doesn’t have this issue. That’s because people coming to Amazon are looking to do one and one thing only: Buy Stuff, like YOUR books. Unlike a traditional search engine, A9 does not need to consider whether someone searching for say, ‘Stephen King’ wants to learn more about the author or if they want to buy his books, Amazon it ‘knows’ they want to buy his books… and this is the most important factor. It is what shapes the way you need to work with A9 to gain higher rankings on the platform.

To place your book in a ‘high’ and visible position the A9 algorithm needs to consider factors such as degree of text match, price, availability, selection, and sales history.

Therefore, optimizing your books potential rating on Amazon begins before your listing goes live. There are several optimization elements you have control over and need to address before you sell even a single book.

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1, Book Title and Brand Name, (if any)

The most relevant keywords will be the title and subtitle (if any) of your book. As with Electric Eclectic branded books, the brand name is used as, or as part of, the subtitle.

This allows people optional and assorted methods of searching for your book. They can key in your book title if they know it or remember it, or at least search for something similar. Alternatively, they can use your author name, or simply type in the brand.

For example, when you enter ‘Electric Eclectic books’ into your Amazon search bar you will be presented with a list of all the titles, from authors who have written under the Electric Eclectic brand.

Check out Electric Eclectic at https://electriceclecticsblog.wordpress.com/about/

 

2, Book Description

While it is clearly important to write a compelling description to entice the person browsing to buy your book, consider using three to four ‘bullet point’ at the top of your description, such as, ‘Fast-paced Thriller’ or ‘Romantic Fantasy’, to clarify the genre of the book.

Bullets naturally stand out and make content easier to read than a block of text and help increases conversion rates.

Other bullet point options are such things as ‘Revised Edition’, ‘Prequal to ….’ and so forth. Not only does this help your potential buyers to decide, but it also reduces the risk of bad reviews due to a purchaser buying a book outside their regular choice/comfort zone.

A9 will also pick up on the words used, helping to target your book towards those who will enjoy your story.

TIP: Try by selecting three top-ranked competitors, (Mainstream publisher/agent listings are great for this) chose ones which boast the greatest number of reviews.

With the list of keywords in hand, remove those that aren’t relevant. As easy as that, you’ve got a handy list of keywords in your arsenal

In most cases, data from 3 or 4 competitors is enough to get started.

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3, Pricing

Your books must be strategically and competitively priced. If they are your conversion rate will benefit.  Analyse the book pricing of those with high volume sale in your book’s genre, ensuring they are of similar page count/format. Find the ‘sweet spot’ price points, both on and off Amazon and price your book accordingly. Do not overprice or under-price, doing either will reduce your potential sales.

A9 takes pricing into consideration as it is in Amazon’s best interest to prioritise products (books) that sell.  To better your chance of being listed next to, or in the proximity of a ‘Best Seller’, you need to be thereabouts.

 

4, Cover Images

Although images are not a direct, performance-related Amazon ranking factor, they play a critical role in both your click-through and conversion rates.

While cover images are not factors A9 specifically evaluates, (presently) They are very important for your potential customers and can have an impact on your sales.

High-quality images which view clearly when enlarged can increase sales by as much as 10%, according to Amazon, and the A9 algorithm rewards products that sell well.signature

Are you looking for a bespoke cover? Email Peejay Designs at PeeJaydesigns@mail.com

 

5, Customer Reviews

Genuine, unsolicited, un-incentivised reviews are an ‘indirect factor’ which may impact your product’s rank on Amazon. Customer reviews can significantly influence the conversion rate, demonstrating their role in Amazon SEO. Books with strong ratings (four stars or higher) are more likely to rank higher in Amazon search results than those with less than four stars.

Although your Amazon ranking, as discussed, is dependent on many other factors; so often a two-star review rated book will show next to four and five star reviewed books. This could simply be because it is a new book is without enough reviews to give a true indication but more often it is because the author simply got everything else perfectly set up for A9, so the book appears higher on the pages.

You should constantly monitor your reviews to ensure customers do not abandon their potential purchase due to a negative review.

By responding to negative reviews in a timely fashion, you are showing your prospective customers you hold a value of their comments. This helps maintain positive overall customer experience.

You will notice at the start of this section I used the wording ‘Genuine, unsolicited, un-incentivised reviews’. This is because these are the ONLY reviews that Amazon A9 is concerned with.

Many authors believe that paid for, swapped, coerced or otherwise incentivised reviews help with Amazon rankings. Well, maybe they once did, but Amazon has been working extremely hard and are finding ways to validate every review.

Amazon uses a number of various systems to log everything… the numbers, the names, usernames, associated usernames (friends of), web locations, physical locations, device ID’s of reviewers, ISP addresses associated with reviews and many more data points.

This information is used to monitor the posting of fake and incentivised reviews, along with authors and businesses linked to enticing fake reviews. You may get away with one or two, but that’s about it, many more and A9 will flag your account(s). This may mean the reviews will be deleted, your account may be suspended or closed, just as those posting the reviews.

As A9 and its associated crawlers and bots develop and gather more information about each author/users’ actions and their algorithms enhanced, Amazon has vowed to clear all fake and incentivised reviews from the platform to improve quality.

Read more… https://wp.me/p5nj7r-1kR

 

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6, Sales

The most important thing to remember about the A9 algorithm, and what differentiates it from traditional search engines, is that it exists to facilitate one thing: sales.

A9 looks at your title, product descriptions and the price you set to determine relevance. Together, these factors create a flywheel effect where improving one element of your product marketing also increases sales velocity which, in turn, improves your listing’s visibility.

Higher A9 ranking means more targeted exposure by Amazon, such as showing on ‘Also bought’, ‘Also viewed’ and ‘Frequently bought together’ directed to a relevant audience.

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7, The Future for A9

Looking at how Google evolved over the years gives us a look into how we believe Amazon is expected to change.

Amazon’s A9 algorithm will follow a similar trajectory, albeit more slowly and less aggressively (remember, as effective as it is, A9 is not one of Amazon’s most important ‘products’).

Amazon is working to fix many problems: low-quality listings, broken English, higher return rates and how people generate reviews (fake reviews, for example). Amazon has aggressively targeted fake reviews in the past few years, going so far as suing Fiverr directly.

In February 2011, Google released an update called Panda.

Despite its tame name, this update wiped out millions in affiliate marketer & SEO consultant earnings. Superficially speaking, the update itself was aimed at low-quality sites from a content point of view. Copied, scraped and poorly created content was the chief target, meaning that millions of low-quality sites were hit very hard and de-indexed. 95+% of traffic and all the income associated with it, poof, GONE.

Amazon is looking to publish a similar update; the goal to have listings that read well and avoid broken English, duplicate content and generally poor optimization overall, instead of just basing the majority of factors on sales directly.

One of the reasons this makes sense from a business point of view is to reduce the number of low-quality Chinese sellers driving out genuine, quality-focused businesses. (Think future competition, think Alibaba).

There are multiple other reasons it makes sense to Amazon’s business model.

This ‘Amazon Panda’, or whatever they may call it, will change the game, but what will ultimately turn Amazon SEO services & marketing agencies on its head would be an algorithm update similar to Google’s ‘Penguin’ update.

The Panda update in 2011 was big but the Penguin update actually changed the SEO game forever. Released on 24th April 2012 (version 1) it impacted close to 3.1% of search queries. If you’ve ever implemented an SEO campaign, you’ll know it’s a massive amount of organic search results.

In short, this update aimed to remove link spam. Any site which was using questionable link building tactics was hit and penalised. Organic traffic for some companies went to zero and some never recovered.

Amazon’s ‘Penguin’ update, a form of which is under construction (I have been told), will involve targeting elements such as sales manipulation, discounted product giveaways, which they are already combating, and overall search engine manipulation.

Other trust signals will become more and more important.

Industry chatter tells me that generating more than 3 reviews per day is a signal that Amazon uses to identify review manipulation. Other tools such as Fakespot or Reviewmeta are also very common for spotting fake reviews.

Third parties are building tools that identify fake reviews. Amazon has signals and software to reduce the amount of review spam on their platform.

The end result is if you want to stay 100% safe, ensure you stay within Amazon’s terms of service and avoid any algorithm manipulation

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 One final ‘thing’  to end this post..

Myth: Discounted books and Giveaways Still Work.

NO, they don’t.

This is an Amazon SEO myth we have to cover… discounted and book giveaways. They just don’t work anymore.

This was a very sharp change Amazon made almost 2 years ago now. The main tweak involved how Amazon weighted the ranking signal for discounted product sales.

Previously Amazon weighted discounted products (80%+) still relatively heavily. So, a small amount of discounted product giveaways resulted in large organic ranking movements.

The tweak Amazon added downgraded the weighting used. With this in place, running discounted giveaways just doesn’t make economic sense anymore.

Read more… https://wp.me/p5nj7r-1fn

reflection