So, here's the thing! The better half and I went to Crete. We'd been before, so we knew what it was like - hot, hot, hot! We hadn't been on holiday for at least 5 years because of the four shitzhus we've got - putting them in kennels would be the cost of another holiday, and they're our babies so we didn't want to anyway. But, as the planets aligned, aliens arrived for a visit, and my son was able to come to stay for a week and keep them safe. Hey ho, off we went - booked on Tuesday, flew off on Thursday. Did I say it was hot? Yeah, it was hot. But all was not lost. For one, it was a child-free hotel - the peace and quiet was life-affirming. For two, we had our own private pool and sunbeds just outside the air-conditioned room (we didn't have to fight anyone for them, or get up in the middle of the night to put Union Jack towels on them). For three, I ate a Cretan salad every day with feta cheese, which I love. For four, I was able to write my 10,000-words for the week, and read The Concrete Blonde by Michael Connelly and The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafon - both favourite authors. Did I say it was hot? Yeah, we were glad to get back to the freezing rain at Stanstead airport last night.
This morning, I tipped over 250,000 ebooks sold - I know, a quarter of a million! I feel a bit humbled. Not too much, but a bit. I would say, not bad for an indie author where the majority of books are ebooks, which have not been translated into any other languages, and there are no hardbacks with inflated prices. So, well chuffed. Thank you readers for buying them.
Now, that said, I've had some complaints about The Breath of Life. Well, when I say some, I mean three. In fact, my wife did that yesterday. We were sitting in the departure lounge at Heraklion Airport - well, it was a room with a couple of chairs and a boogie box making a noise in the corner. So, she said, "Lots of people have bought the type of bag I bought." Now, based on the aforementioned comment, you would think she had only bought one bag - sadly, that was far from the truth! She had actually bought five bags she doesn't need - I digress - for good reason you might shout! Anyway, when I looked for these sad people lugging the type of bag my wife had bought I couldn't see one. I said, "Where?" Well, you would wouldn't you? Apparently, and don't quote me on this, there was one person hefting the bag who had already gone through booking and I didn't actually see her!
Complaints, that's what I was talking about. Yes - here's the main thrusts. But first, I should say that some people have liked the book, or should that be, "do like the book"? Anyway, they felt: 1) the ending was rushed (now, this has been mentioned before, so I'll drag the next ending out over at least ten chapters); 2) the dialogue wasn't appropriate in some of the critical situations - Mmmm; 3) there was a lack of police procedures - I agree; 4) familiar characters were eliminated without ceremony - hey ho, easy come easy go; and 5) some of the characters were stereotypical - Mmmm! Okay, let me say that I've taken these points on board for the next book The Dead Know Not, and already made changes as a result.
Now, there's no point in me trying to rebut any of the complaints, because that's the way I wrote the book. I'm saddened that some people didn't like the book (or some of it). Hey, I would love 100% of readers to like 100% of everything I write, but sadly that's never going to happen. There were so many different ways I could have written - or ended - the book, but - right or wrong - I chose the way it is. What I can say, is that those people who thought some of the storylines had ended are sadly mistaken. People may think Parish has found out who his parents are, but... Well, that's another story, which hopefully will be better than the last one. And, if you're going on holiday, make sure you take the high sun protection factor cream with you!
So, here's the thing! As I write, A Life for a Life is at No.14 in the Top 100 of the paid Kindle Store! I know, how awesome is that? But... what exactly does it mean? Let's add some context, develop the character, provide some description, because unless you're an avid Kindler I've noticed that people are totally underwhelmed! In fact, it means squat in the general scheme of things because the majority of the population don't know anything about a Kindle, the bestseller charts, the Top 100, my book - In second fact, I wonder if the people who don't own a Kindle - or haven't read my book - are brain dead - just one of many random thoughts I sometimes have!
So, let's put some meat on the bones, some flesh on the meat, and then bring it all to life by running a megawatt of electrical current through the corpse! Mmmm, didn't somebody do that once and call it Frankenstein's Monster? Oh well, if they didn't, maybe I will! Maybe I already have, maybe A Life for a Life is my monster!
Where was i? Oh yes! Context - Apparently, there are over 750,000 books in the Kindle store - that's a lot of books! How did mine end up at No.14? I suppose that must be the million dollar question, which if I had the recipe for moving up the charts, would make me a million dollars. I know, John Locke wrote a book called How I Sold a Million eBooks in Half-an-Hour, (You owe me for advertising this for you, John!) and I'm sure he tells a good tale and made another million bucks with it, but I think its more than that. I think that you have to write a book that the 'majority' of people want to read. I say 'majority' because you only have to look at the spread of reviews written about most of the books in the Top 100 to realise that not everyone will agree on the merits of a book. Some give it a 5* rating, and say that they couldn't put it down (the Kindle was stuck to their fingers); while others gave it a 1* rating, say it was drivel, and that they stopped reading it after the first page and deleted it from their Kindle. Who do you believe?
I suppose it's a bit like an inconclusive experiment, you have to go with the weight of evidence either for or against. Anyway, some iffy research on how readers find books suggests that there's a lot of books readers read based on recommendations. Okay, I'm nearly okay with that, except I've said above how one man's fluffy bunny is another man's mad dog, so that sounds a bit strange. I mean, as well as being a writer I'm also a reader, and I select books based on genre - I love historical fiction (In fact, I love crime, fantasy, scifi, etc), and usually read any and all books if they're historical fiction regardless of who they're written by - yes the cover, blurb, and subject matter are all input into my equation on whether or not to buy, but hardly have any influence on the decision at all. I suppose for me, the Acid Test is the writing! Once I start reading it has to grab me and keep me interested. Sometimes, I'll read a first chapter, put the book down, and then dread picking it up again because - to be honest - its not very interesting.
So, for me, as a reader, the start of a book is the most important. If I've read the first chapter, and either don't want to put it down, or can't wait to pick it up again then that's a good book - so far. What it means is that the writing is good, the story's begun, and has reeled me in - I'm one of the characters, on the rollercoaster, part of the action - now it has to keep me in there! I'm reminded of the original film Tron about a hacker being sucked into a computer programme - that's what I want, I want to be sucked into a book's storyline until the very end.
I've seen reviews about books, and read books myself, where the middle of a book takes forever to read, a lot of the narrative is padding and reading it is a bit like wading through treacle. The snappy dialogue has been replaced with boring conversation that appears to go nowhere, but worse - the ending is rubbish! I hate it when you get to the end of the book and don't feel satisfied - the author has run out of ideas, or got lost somewhere around Chapter Three! Life's too short to read books that don't add to your life experience.
Well, that's it, I've done my blogly duty - or should that be blogging duty - whatever, init! It's been ages since I've written a blog. Well, let's face it, let's call a banana an apple - I don't get paid for blogs! I know, it's not always about money, but you crazy people want everything for free. And let me tell you, there's no such thing as a free sushi! - Not in this game.
Let me also tell you about The Shadow of Death - Parish & Richards 4, which will be published in about three weeks. While I've been writing this blog, Not only has A Life for a Life moved up to No.13 (and then some - I'm No.11 now - How did that happen?), but I also received another 5* review wondering when the next instalment was coming out - now you know - in three weeks time - spread the word. Take a read of the blurb I've just put up on the book page, and if you haven't already, read the first chapter. I'm at 47,000 words, so I'd better get my skates on instead of writing blogs about writing, and reading, and blogging, and the book I'm meant to be finishing!
Go away you crazy people, stop looking in my windows and asking for more books... TELL EVERYBODY, I'M NOT FEEDING THE CRAZY PEOPLE, I'M FINISHING THE SHADOW OF DEATH SO THAT IT'LL BE OUT IN THREE WEEKS! Three weeks I tell you - not a minute more, nor a minute less - Three weeks - Threeeeeeeeeeee...
Hi, I'm Tim Ellis - I write a lot and I hope you enjoy what I write.