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

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.

Blank


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

Time, stimulus and unanticipated events

It seems I no longer have enough time to regularly write this blog. This post explains the reason, or at least one of them.

Most of you will know, at least I hope you do, I love it when random things appear to me and stimulate my writers muse.

Often the best thoughts and ideas come from the unexpected, the surprises and unanticipated events.

I either scribble down notes or mull over whatever stimulated my mind and write my thoughts at a latter date.

I shall return to those notes. Many will become the basis of a short story, often one idea can give birth to a succession of tales, often of various genre, and with seemingly little or no relation to each other.

These stimuli may a form the premise of a novel, or a component of one. Some may suggest the possibility of a non-fictional work.

Now, these unanticipated events, the ones which ‘blow my frock up’, are as unpredictable as the English weather.

One may come from overhearing a private conversation, another from observation, yet another from an article or interview broadcast on the radio and, of course, there is a wealth of written material, both online and physical.

The joy is, one can never know what it is that will prompt the mind, set your thoughts into an overdrive mode, or, indeed, when such an event will occur.

Today, an hour or so before writing this post, I stumbled across something of the ilk.

I was browsing a section of the web, with a vague notion of the sort of thing I was looking for.

By that I mean, it was the start of a research period and I was casting my net wide before knowing where to hone in on the specifics, when I read the following short, but intriguing article regarding an important area of English politics.

Now, that may sound a bit dull to you, but trust me, read this article from The Guardiannewspaper. I am sure you will then understand how many stories you could create… and that does not include the ideas you can develop from ‘clicking‘ on and reading the information found by following the contained hyperlinks.

This is one reason I need to live to be one hundred and forty million years old, then, possibly, I would have enough time to write all I wish, including regularly posting here.

Have a read, tell me what you think.

Keep happy, Paul.

https://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/other/it-s-true-we-ignore-parts-of-our-history-and-not-just-about-our-colonial-past/ar-BB1aAhCV?ocid=msedgntpand


Talking about short stories, why not indulge yourself in my short story collection, ‘Tales of Crime & Violence‘.

Stories, I assure you, which will not conclude as you might think, or hope.

Download the eBook/Kindle now, or order your Paperback copy.

mybook.to/CandVPaperV1mybook.to/CandVKindleV1

mybook.to/CandVPaperV2 mybook.to/CandVKindleV2

mybook.to/CandVPaperV3mybook.to/CandVKindleV3

Realistic character building, regarding novels, series and sagas.

character

While many authors are proficient in creating individual personalities for their fictional persons, it is imperative when developing such characters’ lives, for one to write in a convincing and accurate mode to cultivate believability from the readers perspective.

Failure to originate plausible credibility of personality and interactions of fictional characters, over prolonged periods, proves detrimental to the reader’s gratification as it detracts from the overall principle and foundations of the author’s storyline, the very premise of which the reader chose for their entertainment.

Reality is fiction is all-important.

Therefore, understanding the social structure your characters inhabit is paramount to building such authentic originality. National, regional, fiscal, domestic and public constructs all constitute facets of each fictional character’s composition and structure.

Below is a list, created to assist with placing your complex and sophisticated character natures in a sound literary context. Therefore, accurately reflecting personality traits found in factual, genuine, true-life people of your chosen genre of state.

Such traits are often referred to as the ‘Hidden rules among Class.’

Following the subject heading, in bold text, are three subtexts. In order, they refer to; Lower Class (poor) – Middle Class (rich) & Upper Class (Wealthy).

Example,

Money: To be spent (Lower class) – To be managed (Middle Class)  – To be invested (Upper Class)

Money: To be spent -To be managed – To be invested.

Personality: Sense of humour – Achievement – Connections.

Social emphasis: Inclusion – Self-sufficiency – Exclusion.

Food: Quantity – Quality – Presentation.

Time: In the moment- Against future – Tradition.

Education:  Abstract – Success & Money – Maintaining connections.

Language: Casual register -Formal,(Negotiation) – Formal,(Networking).

Family structure: Matriarchal – Patriarchal – Heir/Sucsssesor, (Who has money).

Driving forces: Relationships – Achievement – Financial/social.

Destiny: Fate – Choice – Expectations.

 

I hope this helps as a useful guide for your character creativity and development.


I am associated with Electric Eclectic, the place for authors and readers, so why not follow Electric Eclectic on Facebook.

TopTip

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.

img_0013-alt_tiny-removebg-preview (2019_12_15 12_41_52 UTC)

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.

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.

amazon-search-algorithm

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.

kindle-description-field-textarea

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.

amList

 

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

google-panda-penguin

 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

Bait your books to catch more readers.

download

Okay, so the title of this post is probably not the best metaphor ever written. Maybe, I was just fishing for compliments, or reeling you in… okay, okay. Enough.

But relating your books sales, or rather your book marketing, to fishing is not so far off the mark as you may think.

I am sure you would have heard the term ‘hook’ used many times when referring to writing, particularly fiction

Most authors know and recognise the importance of having a ‘narrative hook’ in their book’s opening lines and at the end of each chapter, even in the closing paragraphs of books in a series.

The idea, of course, is to leave your reading wanting more, wanting to know what happens next or indeed, on ‘tenterhooks’.

Which, by the way, is an old English word deriving from the 14th-century wool making industry. A ‘Tenter’ was a frame used to stop cleaned woollen fabric shrinking, (from the Latin ‘tendere’, meaning ‘to stretch’). Hooks are placed around the edge of a frame, to which the fabric was attached, so it stretched it enough to stop it shrinking whilst drying.

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Hanging fabric onto a Tenter

By the mid-18th century, the phrase ‘on tenterhooks’ came to mean being in a state of tension, uneasiness, anxiety, or suspense, i.e. figuratively stretched like the cloth on the tenter.

However interesting all that may be, these facts have nothing to do with fishing and by association, sadly nothing to do with my terrible metaphor.

 

So, let me get to the nitty-gritty of this post, which is about your book’s description.

For this blog post, I am including your back-cover blurb and the description you use on your sales page of online sites, such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble etc. as the ‘description’ discussed.

It seems, by the requests for answers I receive and the social comments I read, the writing of your book’s description is an area many authors struggle with, which is, on consideration rather strange as, after completing an entire novel, pages upon pages of creative writing, authors should then struggle to write a dozen or so lines describing the very premise of the book.

Which is, in all honesty, probably one of, if not the most important few paragraphs of the entire work.

What I find is, as the creator of the story, authors tend to want to put every element into their book description. (Much the same is true in amateur cover design.)

The thing is, the description is not supposed to be a summary, or a report, or a review. It is simply an advert. The intent of which is to ‘reel’ in book browsers and have them buy your book.

Allow me to elucidate.

Someone will buy your book if…

Firstly, the little thumbnail image of your front cover catches their eye.

Then, when they enlarge, click, expand or whatever they might need to do to see your book as a larger image if they like what they see at the smaller resolution. (The reason you need a great cover artist. One like PeeJay Designs. PeeJaydesigns@mail.com)

This is the online equivalent of having a potential buyer physically pick up your book from a bookstore shelf and hold it in their hands. If they never pick it up they will never buy it.

The next step is, your potential purchaser will now read the carefully crafted and captivating description of your book. This could be the ‘blurb’ on the back cover or the description given on an online bookstore.

Reaching this point means the cover has done its most important job.

Of course, your book’s description will stop the reader in their tracks, intriguing them enough to want to…

One, buy your book immediately or…

Two, read some of the ‘Look Inside’. (If in a physical bookstore, flick through and read a few random samples.) and then they will, of course, buy your book, won’t they?

Sarah Gribble of The Write Practice, says. “I recently picked up a nonfiction book, which I don’t read many of, and almost put it right back down. But the description intrigued me. It got me to read the first couple pages, standing right there in the store. Then it got me to buy the book.”

However, if you have a lazy, badly worded and therefore an unsuccessful book description, they will simply move on to the next book, regardless of how wonderful your actual story may be, a story they, along with thousands of others, will never get to read.

This means you will have blown your chance, your opportunity to get the sale, all for a few lacklustre lines.

Okay, I hear you saying, “How do I make my book’s descriptions work for me?”

I’m glad you asked because it’s a little like fishing; you must bait your hook with the right lure, the right bait, for the fish you want to catch. (Yep, back to my metaphor.)

Perhaps, one of the best ways is knowing what to do and what not to do when writing your description.

The (basic) do’s:

Always write in Third Person

Use keywords, emotional words, like chilling or passion; they work well for both nonfiction and fiction book descriptions. You can Google power words to find some good ones. But do not overdo it.

Also, consider what people might be Googling that would take them to your book. This is especially true for nonfiction works. Think about employing those in your description.

Be succinct and to the point, no purple prose or verbose writing.

Be clear about the genre, the main genre, do not focus on sub-plots. i.e. if you have a thriller, say so, do not harp on about the romantic story which runs as a sub-plot.

Employ the proper utilization of grammar

Use eye-catching, powerful language. Just like your book needs a hook at the beginning, so does your book description. No one’s going to continue reading the description, let alone the whole book if the first line is as boring as dry toast. Plus, this is often the only thing an online shopper will see before they are prompted to click to see more, and you want them to click, don’t you?

Hint at the climax, never reveal it.

Tell your potential readers how perfect your book is for fans of… genre/style etc.

Mention any awards, high-class reviews, or serious ratings – (see notes below in ‘don’ts’)

Add any audience and age-appropriate.

Give trigger warning when it’s necessary. (These can have a positive effect on sales.)

The (basic) don’ts:

Never use shouty capitals.

Give too short a description.

Cut off words

Make false or misleading claims

Double/triple edit. Do not allow any misspellings or typos to get through. If you cannot write a short description without any errors, there is little hope your book will be error-free.

Do not employ ‘date language’ like ‘just released’ or ‘new novel’, in a week it won’t be and you will need to re-word your description.

Stay away from aggressive calls to action. Such as “You MUST buy this book”. Using such language lends a note of desperation and drives potential buyers away.

Do bear in mind retailers accept differing lengths of descriptions, so you may need to tailor it to each site’s requirements.

Surprisingly, some things you might think influence, do not, according to recent Bookbub research;

It seems it is irrelevant to include details of which type of bestseller you may have, i.e. New York Times Vs USA Today. Simply saying ‘Bestseller’ has far more significance.

Adding a question at the end of your description has no effect on your potential purchaser’s decision making. Which makes doing so a total waste of time.

Neither does saying the book is your debut novel, or your tenth novella, or your seven hundredth and fiftieth for that matter. It has no significant impact on the choice to purchase.

Therefore, use your description to tell people about your story, get them intrigued, wanting to know more.

Avoid telling them about ‘the book’. You may be proud of all those things, but readers don’t give a flying ***, they simply want to know if they will enjoy the story.

Including the series name in the description did not affect readers positively or negatively. Therefore, adding such information (in the description) is pretty much a waste of time and effort. It seems the cover, and the titles on online pages, already show that information; so potential buyers do not want the same information repeated over and again… they know, they get it already.

I now hear you asking how you get to a good description.

The easiest way is to create two versions of similar text, like this:

hook1

hook2

Both versions have the same information. They both start by listing the accolades which represent the renown of the book.

However, from there, description A focuses more on Nick Dunne’s perspective, while B hones in on Amy.

So, go ahead, create two versions of your book’s description, test them against each other and determine which works best for your book.

Use friends to help you decide. After all, their point of view will be far more accurate than your own; you will not be buying your book, they will and they know what attracts them better than you ever will.

Try using the following suggestions as an outline guide.

Start your description by using a bold opening sentence, possibly a statement to grab the reader’s attention.

Use at least one hook to grab readers’ attention.

Ensure the description does not contain any spelling or grammatical errors.

Make certain to ‘inspire’ your potential reader to ‘buy’.

While I do not suggest using direct comparisons to ‘famous’ or ‘renowned’ authors, (such as “…is the new Stephen King” or “Better than Sophie Kinsella…”) which is considered cheesy, desperate, egotistical and opens all sorts of avenues for negative feedback and bad reviews, it may be worthwhile making a statement your book would be “Perfect for fans of Lee Child” or “Martina Cole fans will love this gritty and convincing thriller

Note, the words, ‘Gritty & Convincing’ are taken directly from the cover of Martina Cole’s book. Never be afraid of copying the methods and styles used by major publishing houses.

Once you have found a style and method which suits you, why not create your own template and use that for your future books?

After all, great fishermen have their own way of baiting their rod for the type of fish they want to catch. You can do the same, go get the readers you need, lure them in, hook, line and sinker.

See, fishing is not such a bad metaphor after all.

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I have compiled a wealth of information to help authors of all capabilities and experience to know more about the publishing world, books and being indie.

To share this information I created two books, The Frugal Author, which is all about publishing at the lowest costs for the maximum return, and ‘Lots of Author Stuff You Need to Know’, which contains, funny enough, lots of author stuff you NEED to know.

These books are full of useful and enlightening information, are designed to help you avoid making costly mistakes and to help you generate profit as early as possible.

Both books are published as low-cost eBooks, waiting for you to download right now.

mybook.to/Authorstuff         mybook.to/FrugalAuthor

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Authors, are you sitting on a fortune without realising it?

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A short while ago I wrote a post about the different ways and reasons authors might sign their books. Why you should take signing and inscribing your books very seriously…

This post follows on from that one, but not along the route you might think.

Once again, this is an in-depth and informative article, from which I think you will take far more than just the main points I make.

At least, I hope so.


The idea for this post came about while I was chatting away with a friend, discussing how easy it is to recycle print books nowadays, especially since the introduction of environmentally friendly inks, papers, films, card and such.

However, as with most conversations, our chat wandered across many subjects, soon I found myself explaining how I sold several uncorrected proof copies of my books, ones which included errors, misprints, formatting issues and so forth to either fans or collectors.

My friend, who happens to be an avid collector of rare books, said this is not such an unusual occurrence, many book collections would not be complete without an uncorrected proof copy or two.

He said, some of these proofs are produced without cover illustrations, so the books are, in his words ‘raw’, just containing the writer’s words and little else. The resulting post is formed both from the information my friend shared and from research I undertook following our meeting.


I do understand why people collect first editions.

I the early days of printing presses the plates were made of lead, the sharpness of the edges on these plates would, after a number of impressions, wear. Thus, the earlier impressions would be far sharper and clearer than those printed later.

This was most important where the printed work contained illustrations or maps, which were generally finely penned pen & ink drawings or engravings, so clarity of reproduction was all-important.

In modern times, first with off-set printing and now with digital technology, this is no longer a factor and collecting ‘first’ or ‘early’ editions is now more of an act of faith than a practical necessity.

If one was to take the ‘early’ edition to its most, but logical, extreme, then it is the authors manuscript would be the rarest and most valuable version of ‘the book’… which it is.

Most collectors, including institutions, cannot collect authors manuscripts as widely, or as thoroughly, as they may wish.

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There is, however, a preliminary state of a book, prior to the first published edition and therefore closer to the authors manuscript so it still holds a high rarity value yet is more readily available.

These fall into two categories.

The first is the authors proof copy(s). Dependent on how many ‘proof’ editions are required.

The second is the ARC’s or ‘galley’ proofs, which often need final-final proofreading before publication and printing start in earnest.

These copies of your own books can also hold a higher intrinsic value than those of your production run, including POD’s.

The reason is twofold; the first is they are early examples, so they are rare, most being produced in low quantities of a dozen or so.

Secondly, most books will undergo their final revisions, by the author and editors, after the printing of the proof copies; meaning these books often show a state of the authors work otherwise unpublished. This is enormously interesting and informative for scholars and students of literature and language studies.

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The history of producing proof copies for distribution dates to the partly printed ‘salesmen’s dummies’ of the 19th century.

But ‘proofs,’ as part of the publication process, has a shorter history.

Advance copies of books for in-house use by the publisher are customary,  either as long galley proofs or in other formats. Printed and bound advance copies for distribution were rare in the 1930s and 40s, only becoming regular practice in the 1950s and 60s.

This was mostly due to Crane Duplicating Service, a Cape Cod printer, who promoted the idea to the publishing industry. Those who had a ‘Crane’ could print inexpensive prepublication editions which they could send out for early reviews, thus tempting the major wholesalers and retail buyers to place larger orders. Another development to assist with this was also devised by Crane, this was the placing of promotional ‘blurb’ on the rear covers or dust jackets of these promotional books.

This practice gained such wide acceptance proofs became known as ‘cranes’ by the print industry for many years, a practice which has only recently fallen from fashion.

You can see the natural, almost organic progress of how this influenced the concept and design of the modern book, which still sports the back cover and dust jacket ‘blurb’ first fashioned by those early publishing houses.

The number of proof copies is a secret kept by each publisher, but some figures have escaped, such as the 57 copies of Robert Stone’s first novel, The Hall of Mirrors, or the 39 proofs of Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five.

One of Phillip K Dick’s novels contained ‘potentially libellous’ text. It is said that 19 proof copies of this book still exist… somewhere.

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Not satisfied with these simple proof copies, many publishers (since the 1930s) issue elaborately produced prepublication volumes in hope of generating further interest in forthcoming releases.

Raymond Chandler’s first novel, The Big Sleep, was issued in such a prepublication form, as were Dashiell Hammett, and James M, Cain and, in 1961, an ‘advance reading copy special edition’ of a forthcoming first novel called Catch-22 by Joseph Heller, was created.

Since then, ARC’s have become commonplace, they are now par-for-the-course for most releases, such is the case for ‘The World According to Garp‘, John Irving’s breakthrough novel, which used 1500 advance copies printed for promotional purposes. Martin Cruz Smith’s Gorky Park had two printings of ARC’s totalling 2500 copies; it was his first bestseller. Since which he has become one of the most popular and successful thriller writers of all time.

Examples of textual changes in proofs abound.  Most are never discovered until someone does a line by line comparison with the final book.

Tim O’Brien revised his National Book award-winning novel, ‘Going After Cacciato‘, after the proof was printed, and O’Brien’s own copy has whole paragraphs marked out and rewritten. His second novel, Northern Lights, has a two-page section in the proof that does not appear in the finished book.

Peter Matthiessen’s National Book Award-winning ‘The Snow Leopard‘ has major changes made after the proof was printed, after he sent it to a friend, and Buddhist scholar, for comments on his references to Buddhism.

Kent Anderson’s powerful Vietnam war novel ‘Sympathy for the Devil‘ has the most stunning passages excised after the proof was printed, perhaps because they were deemed by editors to be too harsh for publication.

Oh, and no one would have known just how bad Ernest Hemingway’s Spanish was in the late 1930s if the proofs of ‘For Whom the Bell Tolls‘ was not found.

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So, even if you change, finalise, re-edit sections or whole parts of your book after feedback from your ARC’s, this may not be a bad thing.

There is a case made because proofs are printed first and are distributed outside of the publishing house, they comprise the ‘true first edition’ of a book, as such distribution constitutes the ‘publishing’ of said work. i.e., making a book available to the public, however limited the availability may be.

Combining their historical scarcity, and likely future scarcity, with the textual variations which are often found and which, by definition, represent a state of the text closer to the author’s original manuscript, the value in collecting proof copies is self-evident.

Which brings me, albeit by such a circuitous route, to where this post links back to my previous one about book signings.

http://www.peecho.com/checkout/14716200169619823/234509/doveshardv3I have sold all the copies of my own proof books and intend to do so in the future as I release new works.

I combined the rarity of such with the opportunity to sign and/or inscribe each copy as described in the previous post on this blog.

Of course, the cost of these rare editions is a little higher than the general releases and, as I have the physical copies, shipping charges are also paid by the buyer.

Some may think this would dissuade the regular purchaser, but I have found otherwise and, on two occasions, had people bidding against each other.

I no longer allow people to get embroiled in this way and set what I consider to be a fair and reasonable price for each book.

Taking this one step further, I would also welcome the sale of my original manuscript, should I have handwritten, typewritten or even made handwritten alterations on hard copy, which I have, sadly, not.

Personally, I do not work that way. I do know some authors who prefer to do so and maybe this is an option they may like to consider?


To cap this post off, here are some points you may like to consider in your future marketing plans. Please note, these are ideas for Paperbacks and Hardcover books, they are not ideal or workable for eBooks.

The following notes are based on the premise from which I started this post… “are you sitting on a fortune without knowing it?”

1, Create a ‘first edition’ short run of your next book.

You could do this as a time-limited promotion or for a set number of books. Of course, you may find some little niggly alterations you need to make, which would only better the rarity of this first edition run.

2, Use any ARC copies (which could simply be a small number of the above or a set number of pre-proofread editions) to your benefit.

Don’t just send them to ‘reviewers’ or ‘friends’ seeking Amazon/Goodreads reviews. Such reviews now lack credibility as their authenticity is under challenge, which is why Amazon deletes so many ‘reviews’.

Instead, give them to your local radio and TV stations; in the UK seek out the local BBC stations as well as the independent ones. Do the same with your local newspapers. Give one to the manager of your local Waterstones bookshop, (these managers have a say in selecting the books their stores stock.)

The main reasons I suggest ‘local media’ is they are constantly hungry for ‘local’ news, so an author from the area who has or shall soon, be releasing a book is exactly the type of story they need. You may well get an interview or be asked to appear as a guest.

Try and milk the airtime. Do a pre-book release show with the ARC & get invited back, in say, two weeks, once your book has been released and is ‘live’ online. (Get two bites of the cherry & create a relationship with the host(s))

I have appeared on two of the three local radio stations in my hometown. Including several guest appearances on the primetime breakfast show.

Note: Do think outside the box, which is especially relevant for certain genres and non-fiction. I have some of my own books in maritime museums, seafarers, and naval heritage centre gift shops and online websites.

You can try your local tourist information centres if your book is about, or set in, the locality. Check out your local museums, galleries and tourist hot spots. Your book may just be welcome on their shelves.

3, If you want to try to attack the regional market, which will encompass your ‘State’ in the USA, then why not produce your own ‘special prepublication edition’ to send to the key organisations? (This would work for National campaigns too, but they are far more difficult to organise and manage.)

As with #2 above, only offer to sign or inscribe these ARC’s for the host when you are interviewed or appear on their show, or when your recorded slot has been aired. Try not to do it pre-show or during recording sessions.

After which, it is always worth turning up ‘out-of-the-blue’ on another day to sign the book when the show is on-air. (It is to the hosts benefit… they will almost certainly ‘fit-you-in’. Trust me, I have done this.)

Even if you do not get lucky with more airtime immediately, you can arrange a time to go back for the signing, even offer to give a signed book or two to the listeners, suggest holding a little quiz or competition. Anything that engages the station’s listeners will make them jump all over you for the privilege.

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4, Manuscripts.

A, If you handwrite and are willing to sell your manuscript, either your first draft of your final draft, then please offer it for sale at a price that reflects your love for your story, (i.e. not cheaply). You could fashion a loose cover or folder to keep the whole thing neat, or at least together for presentation purposes. If this has your signature or additional notes written on it, it will add to the overall provenance.

B, If you use a computer to write, as I do, why not consider printing out your draft, at least the ‘final/final first draft’ and making your own handwritten editorial notes on the physical copy, along with and as, you edit the on-screen copy.

This could then be treated as the manuscript above.

Please, however, only have one copy of your first draft and one of your final draft, (although other working copies are acceptable, such as the ARC draft, bot ONLY as long as each is a sole copy and unique), any other/repeat copies will only devalue your manuscripts and will be considered fraudulent, which is not, I am sure, a label you want to associate with your good name.

The more handwritten crossings out, margin notes, additions and so forth the better. These are the things collectors, libraries, scholastic establishments and museums adore. Such items tend to lend people a sense of ‘knowing’ the author as they work, an insight into their mindset if you will.

Well, that’s it from me for this post.

I do hope you can use some of these ideas or, indeed, find fresh ones which suit your own unique situation.

Finally, I can’t help think of eBooks as being ephemeral, subject to being lost in a power outage or, as Amazon.com did with a number of George Orwell books, when it found it sold them without having rights to them, simply erased them from the face of the earth. Something which is far harder to achieve with printed books…. note Fanrenhight 451.


Find my books, even those not available on Amazon.

Get a preview of my current Works in Progress.

See my Artworks and Photography.

Find my Biograph. 

Visit my website

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