So, here's the thing! I'm not my usual jovial self! What the hell happened to Amazon's UK charts on Christmas Eve? It was like a creeping virus only days before: (A Life for a Life moved from No.14 on Dec 20 to No.28 on Dec 24, then on Christmas Day it was No.95). Every one of my 17 books etc plummeted in the same way. I had four books in the Top 100, but on Christmas morning I was left with one (A Life for a Life) at Number 95! I mean, even on bad sales days things like that don't happen - or do they?
It's been mooted that, 1) The email Amazon sent round caused the drastic changes, or 2) Amazon fiddled with the algorhythm and weighted some books over others. Well, whatever happened I thought I'd been stabbed in the back. All the work I'd done promoting my books, goodwill, fanbase, etc was - in the end - all for very little, because it's no longer a level playing field - if it ever was! And if that sounds like sour grapes - you'd be right, it probably is.
Now, it wasn't just me - oh no, no, no! Kerry Wilkinson - Locked In - suffered the same fate as yours truly with two of his books plummeting. Locked In stayed where it was at No2, but his other two - Vigilante and The Woman in Black fell into the 70s and 80s (and what's interesting - and probably a clue to some dirty tricks - is that his and my books stayed in relative positions, but fifty places lower!). They're both making some headway in recovering now, but my books don't seem to be moving back up. A Life for a Life has been shuffling between Nos. 85 and 95 since it dropped to its new position.
Anyway, what can we do? Not a lot it would seem! 1000s were added to the chart positions of some of my books, and I assume others suffered the same fate (a similar thing occurred in the US as well!). It would be useful to discover what actually happened, so that we could find a way to counteract it. Maybe there is no way to change things, maybe this is the New World Order! I'd heard tell that the powers that be were fed up with the Indies clogging up the charts, well they're not doing that now, so maybe they've worked out a system to discriminate against Indies! Am I being paranoid?
Then, of course, there's the draw of the filthy lucre! The email that came round included advertising for all the traditionally published books - including Locked In, which was a bit strange - so, it might be it was this that caused the seismic change! Anyway, if major publishers are paying Amazon to publicise their books - and new releases - then Indies can't hope to match that and its no longer a level playing field!
Well, I suppose that's my rant over with. Oh, I'll keep writing, because that's what I do now, but I have a horrible taste in my mouth now while I'm doing it!
So, here's the thing! Somebody asked me to mentor them! Yes, I know, how awesome is that? Well, mentoring and I are not complete strangers - Oh no! I used to do some mentoring on the MBA in Educational Management at Lincoln University - that's Lincoln, UK, not Lincoln, Nebraska! Whatever happened to Fergus O'Sullivan and Liz Wood? Anyway, I knew a bit about Educational Management back then - what do I know about writing? Yeah OK, Toady, some of my books are doing well in the charts, but I think that's purely by luck than design! I mean, people would expect me to advise them on plot, characters, the beginning, middle and end, the twists and turns, the mystery, suspense... I have a long list if you're interested? Please write a detailed request on a postcard to 'Dear Mentor' and send it to Santa's mentoring course, Lapland.
'You could do mentoring, boss.'
'Do you really think so, Toady?'
'Is that a word?'
'You could write an ebook.'
'You have a mind like a steel trap. I could call it something like, "Toady's little secrets revealed."
'Excuse me! Why my secrets?'
'Well, you thought of it. Have you got something to hide?'
'So, I won't find any skellingtons in your draws if I start rooting around?'
'Have you started the book yet?'
'Started the book! I'll have you know I've just published a novella.'
'I wish you wouldn't use jargon, you know I have a brain the size of a walnut.'
'That big, huh? A novella is between a third and half of a novel.'
'What's it about?'
'DI Quigg and Sergeant Lulu Begone are hunting a festive serial killer.'
'You can say that again, Toady.'
'Yuk! Are you going to rest on your laurels now?'
'You've heard somebody else say that, haven't you?'
'I have thoughts of my own, you know.'
'I find that unlikely, Toady. Anyway, I'm four chapters into Parish & Richards 5 (His Wrath is Come) and I still need to get to grips with Quigg 3 (The Skulls Beneath Eternity Wharf), and before all that, I want to write Chapter 1 of Stone & Randall 2 (The Gordian Knot)... Arrrghhh!'
'Are you having a psychotic break, boss?'
'There's simply not enough time to write everything I want to write.'
'So, what about this ebook on writing?'
'I have some notes, but I'd feel like a fraud.'
'You always say that, but I'm sure your fan would appreciate some gobbits from your table.'
'I don't know, Toady... Did you use the singular by mistake then?'
'Mmmm, must have?'
So, here's the thing! What does it take to get noticed by agents, publishers, or anybody around here? Well look, if the Amazon Kindle lists are the new slushpile then sombody - anybody - should have snapped me up like a Bahamas Mama. I mean, I have four books in the Top 50 paid Kindle list at 14, 23, 27 & 28 (Numbers subject to change every hour on the hour due to various strange Amazonian anomolies that no one understands especially me such as what my wife's wearing, whether its a full moon or not - werewolves and vampires don't like my books apparently, I mean, how strange is that! or the amount of pig iron produced in Pensylvania), so you could argue that I've risen high enough to get noticed - haven't I?
My books are selling in the millions - well all right, the thousands - you drive a hard bargain Toady - the hundreds then, but I'm not going lower than that! I mean, A Life for a Life has sold over 30,000 copies. Now, if I'm not mistaken, that's pretty damned good for someone who left school at 4¾ under a dark ominous cloud when hell was beginning to freeze over. The Wages of Sin - over 16,000 copies, The Flesh is Weak - over 10,000 copies, and the fourth in the series, The Shadow of Death (Published 3 weeks ago) - over 5,000 copies, and my other crime novels are bubbling away just outside the Top 100 - Hey, I have a lot of time on my hands, don'tcha know!
Now, not only but also, the majority of people seem to like my stories in terms of characters, writing style, suspense, plot, and have I mentioned my good looks? Oh, there are some mean people - aren't there always - who don't like what I write, but I'm pleased to say they are in the minority - they say some nasty things though!
So, I did a telephone interview the other day with a reporter from the local paper, and a fantabulous young lady came to my house all the way from Finland with a camera in the afternoon and took some snaps of your's truly. As you've probably noticed, the result is above. I thought I looked a fairly young 21, but I'm beginning to think writing crime has aged me, Doctor Sally. What do you think? Have you had any cases like this before?
Anyway, I'm now famous in my own back garden, and since this interview I've had two phone calls. One from a woman I used to work with when I was counting beans - she was really pleased I was doing well - It was lovely of her to phone. A second phone call came from a traditionally published mid-list author who had been dropped by his agent/publisher. He wanted to know how to e-publish his books, so I told him. Well, let's face it, its hardly Top Secret, is it Toady? Also, I had someone leave a message on my Facebook Fan Page saying I was an inspiration! Now steady on, there's no need to call people names. I mean, it's not as if I'm Stephen King, or Ray Bradbury, or anyone really famous, is it Toady? In fact, you're more famous than I am, Toady.
'Oh yes, I've had emails about you.'
'They wanted to know if you were real, what you looked like, whether you were single.'
'I told them that it was me talking to myself.'
'You didn't? They'll think you're a crazy person.'
'I am a crazy person, Toady don'tcha know - I'm a writer aren't I?'
Hi, I'm Tim Ellis - I write a lot and I hope you enjoy what I write.