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! Keeping this damned website relevant - as Simon Cowell says - is a full-time job. I was tinkering around with it most of yesterday - so who needs to write for a living when you can muck about with jpgs, html code, create and publish new pages, and so many other wonderful webmaster things?
Anyway, I thought I'd cobble together a blog although I've got absolutely nothing to say. I sold 1,399 books in June - thank you to all those wonderful people who bought one or more of my books - I'm filling up with plumptiousness.
A Life for a Life keeps slipping and sliding between 3 and 5 in the Police Procedural charts, and still bubbling outside the Kindle Top 100 - I wish it would make up its damned mind and put me out of my misery!
I haven't told you about my wife's Japanese Maple (we think) and all the things she keeps hanging on it, have I? Well, I'm gonna spill the beans now! It all started with a couple of candle lights, then fat balls and half-coconuts for the poor starving birds, and then some yellow plant pots, and today she's got some yellow buckets and a yellow watering can (she's got a thing about yellow!) The birds come from miles around for the bread, the birdseed, the mealworm, and to laugh at the things on the dangly tree! I'm beginning to wonder whether the wife has got one of those strange diseases that affect beautiful twenty-one year-old women - I hope its not catching!
So, let's get back to my favourite subject - me! I'm getting up early tomorrow morning. Well no, that's not strictly true, I always get up early, but instead of writing my thousand words I'm gonna sell all my books at a car boot sale and sellers have to be there by 6 a.m. I know, there's some crazy people about! And... you're wondering 1) What books?; and 2) How many books has he got? You're confused, Toady! I'm not talking about the books I write, you know - Oh no, no, no! I'm talking about all those useless factual books on psychology, sociology, management, business, theory, research, philosophy, quality, and... I'm sure you get my drift. When I was doing my Masters degrees and my Doctorate I collected books to read, to cite, to appear intelligent. But anyway, I don't want them now because I'm retired. Also, I've given up reading factual books unless its research for a book I'm writing, and they were clogging up my garage, so I'm gonna sell them at a car boot sale for a £1 each - I must have about 500+ of the damn things and now they're weighing down my car ready to go in the morning!
That's a picture of one of my five dogs called Buddy. I'm sure you've guessed, put your hand up to your mouth in shock and horror, and screamed "He won't be doing Sample Sunday!" Well, that's where you're wrong, Toady. Through the magic of technology I've scheduled about 24 (or so) tweets every half-hour from 0905 until about 1935 hours - my usual #SampleSunday tweets plus lots of others. I've created tweets so that people can sample the beginnings of all my 11 books, and put up two new pieces of work. The start of a crime novel called The Removal Man about a man that takes children from their homes, and the beginning of a thriller called The Gates of Hell about a team of archeologists that find the gates to hell in the Negev Desert. I outlined this book over two years ago! I need two clones! How much do you think two clones would cost me? Now, I don't want uppity clones like me, just brilliant writer clones to write my books and then get back into the closet!
Now, I know what you're thinking - you're wondering how I'm gonna retweet yours if you retweet mine. Am I right, or am I right? Well, I'm gonna be back from making me fortune Gov'nr at about 3 o'clock (1500 hours to us military types) and after I've counted all me money I'll be retweeting as if the Devil were burnin' my butt, Mabel, so don't you go frettin' none.
So, here's the thing! I know I haven't written a blog for awhile. And I also know that you've been getting the tremors, that your mouth goes dry at odd times, you toss and turn at night and wake up screaming my name, and you keep checking my blog every five minutes. These behavioural symptoms are manifestations of withdrawal - going cold turkey! I can only apologise, but I was all written out. Oh, I'm all right now, so don't go rushing round here to feel my pulse, or put a cold cloth on my sweating brow, or other demonstrations of affection - you know how I get all embarrassed when people say nice things about me!
Anyway, I know I've harped on about my American sales before, which have been fairly abysmal to say the least, but now they've ground to a halt. What's going on? Let's investigate this phenomenon, and get to the bottom of the murky issue. In the UK my sales are pretty good, but I've had no sales in the US of A for 3/4 days (and we won't talk about Amazon.de because I have no idea what's going on there! In fact, I'm clueless about a lot of things!)
Are all the Kindles broken over there in America? Has the satellite for the 3G wireless network run out of gas? Have all the American people decided to down Kindles and stop reading at the same time? Please feel free to chirp in at any time with a more rational scenario, or if you know the answer SHOUT IT OUT! (Cups hand to ear - hears nothing - no shouting, whispering, or muttering). Now, strangely enough, as soon as I wrote this - and I haven't even published it yet - my US sales started to creep up - is that spooky or what? Well, I did go on Kindleboards and make merry, so maybe that's the answer - making merry!
Another thing is, I don't do any promotional activity, but then if I did where would I do it? Well, that's not strictly true - I tweet now and again through Bookbuzzr, but I'm not a great believer in Twitter. I mean, a tweet only goes to the people who follow me, and all three of them would have to be glued to Twitter at the time that my tweet appeared for them to notice it. Now, the idea would be that one of those three people miraculously notice my tweet and retweet it, which then goes to their three followers, and one of those kind people re-retweets it - ad infinitum, so that the old lady in Alaska who's 105 with black whiskers on her chinny chin chin and has just got broadband in her igloo in the frozen wastes, reads the tweet, but decides she doesn't like crime, scifi, fantasy, or historical fiction and instead of downloading all of my 11 books she downloads one of Mel Comley's, or Stuart Land's, or Rick Murcer's books because they have better covers, blurbs, prices or, liking the look of Stuart Land's cat she rubs her tummy and says, "Yum, yum!"
So, there's my disjointed thoughts on the matter! But anyway, here's another thing! I've just created a new website! You're thinking, "Wow! Something else of his to read - can't wait!" What I've noticed is that my fantastic fantasy book Orc Quest: Prophecy isn't selling - I know, you're thinking, "How can that be when he writes so well?" Well, I can assure you it's true, so I thought I'd give it a website as a present. I haven't put anything on there yet, so be patient. I've just been choosing the design, creating pages, and generally messing about, but tomorrow - tomorrow I'm gonna do it!
Out of the many books you've written, why choose this one to give a website to? I hear you ask. Well, I just had so much fun writing it. Let me tell you a bit about it: The main character is an Orc. Now, Orcs are usually the baddies (think Lord of the Rings), so I thought let's make one a goodie. Grog - that's his name - quakes in fear when he's fighting some Ogres and fails his passage to adulthood (Hey, there's a lesson in there somewhere!) So, the Council of Elders banish him from the Bloodwolf clan - uh oh, what's he gonna do now? Well, his father tells him about a human beyond the Veil of Mists who knows witchery - the trouble is, there haven't been any humans on Garagol since anyone can remember because the Orcs hunted and ate them all (and wouldn't you know it, the Veil of Mists is at the other end of Garagol that is swathed in mist), but if he wants to be a true Bloodwolf warrior he must get back his courage. So begins his quest, but that's not the end of it... I could tell you about his friends and his adversaries such as the baby Dragon called Mimeo, or about Alfick the grumpy Dwarf, and then there's Nub the sneaky Goblin... It's chock-full of memorable characters and places like the Tunnels of Skygge, the Hall of Secrets, the Necropolis of Lost Souls, the Isle of Charon... And don't make the mistake of thinking that it's just for young adults, this book is bursting with humour. If you like my blogs, you'll want to cuddle this book and take it to bed - well, your Kindle anyway! That's it! If you don't love my book then you're not human!
So, here's the thing. I said I'd tell you about my writing day in this blog didn't I? I can't imagine why you would even want to know! Mind you, I have to admit, I do like to read about other people's trials and tribulations. Well, we do, don't we? I guess we're all just too damned nosy about each other for our own good. We like to open other people's cupboards and doors, rummage through their underwear drawer, prise open their boxes that display large clear signs saying: "Don't open the box, stupid!" Hey, isn't that what Pandora did? Human nature, that's what it boils down to. I'm a student of human nature, always have been. We're social animals see, not happy unless we're in groups, touching, feeling, loving, chattering and nattering, getting the scuttlebutt, and spreading the news (gossiping).
Did you know that in the dark and distant past before you were born, gossiping was a sin punishable by death (found that out as part of my research for The Wages of Sin)? Yeah, so just you think on before flapping those gums of yours, Baby Jane! Well, I get up at 5 a.m. (I know, a tad early, but it's the old Army discipline ingrained in me. And not only that - no distractions). I make a coffee, let the dogs out, switch the laptop on. Yeah, we (my wife and I) don't have a PC we have a Dell Inspiron laptop each (mine's black, the wife's is red) and a BT Broadband hub sitting snugly behind the television. Nope, never had any problems with the laptop or the hub, and we won't talk about the wife's foray into netbooks! So, the dogs curl up and go to sleep again, and I check my email - read and delete, or put them in folders, or if they're Twitter followers I'll log on to Twitter, see who it is and maybe follow them back. I hate having Twitter open as a tab because the Tweets start mounting up and stress me out. Within minutes they're 368, 399, 462 - then I click on them - and almost immediately - 9, 1078, 3,000,000 - Aagh! I have to close the tab down before I crack open a bottle of ginger beer!
So, after I've cleared my emails - oh, I forgot to tell you that I have folders for agents and publishers emails - they're both empty! Anyway, next I open and log onto KDP to check my overnight sales in America, UK, and Germany. Now, American sales are mostly non-existent - I don't know what that's about. You know what I think the lack of sales is down to? Well, I'll tell you - readers can't find my book among the million other books on there. A good analogy is an alien planet in the vastness of space - everyone wants to find this planet, but where to look? Now, I've put tags on my book, but so has everyone else, so what's a bod to do? We all know that Amazon have made it verboten to publicise your books anywhere in the known universe, so what's a bod to do to get noticed? And don't say social networking - done that, got the T-shirt, seen the DVD, listened to the MP3 - none of it or all of it works, but who the hell knows - not I Horatio!
UK sales are good, but not in the same league as Amanda Hocking, Saffina Desforges, or JA Konrath (plus many others who have sold more than 2 books!) It's stop and start! One minute there are three sales, I move up the 'Police Procedural' rankings to No. 17 and I think, "Hey, hey!" I here the rusty gears and cogs of the flood gates opening, but then nothing happens, and I slide back down the rankings again to #250,757.4 or something just as obscure (that's a lovely word, init!) So, sales in blighty are good, but could be better - a lot better. As an aside, I received a wonderful email from a fan (one of my two fans! Insane or what - me with fans - he he!) last night saying how much they loved the Quigg books (Body 13 and The Graves at Angel Brook) and where was the 3rd one (The Skulls Beneath Eternity Wharf). Well, if all you get are a couple of negative reviews it kinda puts you off continuing with the series, so my advice to you readers is - if you like a book write a review on Amazon, because it has a cuddly warming effect on the author, and makes them want to get up in the mornings to write some more. German sales - well, the less said about that 'beige bar of shame' (BBOS) the better - nul point! You know what I think...
If there are any sales, I record the numbers on my Excel spreadsheet where I keep a consolidated ongoing record of my month-by-month sales and royalties as notified by Amazon and Smashwords - how sad is that! Then, I go to my website and bounce onto Amazon.US and Amazon.UK to see if any kind person has written me a review - usually the answer is non (that's French for no apparently!) The last review I received was last week - a wonderful person left me a 5* review for Jacob's Ladder! Now, here's another thing! I sent Jacob's Ladder out to agents about 2/3 months ago, and this morning a rejection came through the letter box! I don't think I need faceless agents rejecting my books anymore - I'll let the ereaders decide whether they're any good or not!
So, I've been up half an hour and I haven't even started writing yet, but then I do. I leave all my tabs open (oh, I use Windows 7, IE (sometimes Chrome), and Office 97 (my wife's got Office 2007 if I need to save anything as a PDF). I open up Word and my latest magnus opus, which at the moment is The Flesh is Weak (the 3rd Parish & Richards novel) and get going. Now, you want the lowdown, the nitty gritty, the... Yeah well, I start at the previous scene break and read/edit as I go to get back into the book. I have a notebook by my chair that I record key details in i.e. future things people have to do, a clue, a red herring, etc. I also make notes like: Describe the characters, don't assume people have read the other books! and I describe key plot details, which eventually make their way into the book. I don't plan, or write an outline - that's for wimps. I just write and see where the characters take me. I have an idea in my head, and that's about it. Sometimes, I end up in a cul de sac and have to backtrack, but most of the time its full steam ahead mixing metaphors and battling cliches!
Well, that's it! I know, you're thinking, "He was going to tell us about his writing day, and all he's told us about is the first half hour!" You kept diverting me, making me talk about other things, the blog's too long now, people will get bored - I'm bored! Tell you what I'll do, I'll write a part two - how's that? There see, I can be reasonable if you're nice!
Hi, I'm Tim Ellis - I write a lot and I hope you enjoy what I write.