So, here's the thing! I've had my Hawaiin mug since 1982 when we went to Wakiki Beach from Hong Kong on a two-week holiday, and I've used it continuously to drink my coffee out of since! I know, how fantastic is that? I'm thinking of applying to the Guinness Book of Records - unless you know of a mug that's lasted longer, of course?
I mean, I'm sure there are mugs out there that are older, but I bet they've been kept in cupboards wrapped in tissue paper, cotton wool balls, and knitted socks! I don't know how many other mugs the wife has bought whilst I've been merrily drinking out of my Hawaiin mug - What a mug! Also, I wonder if its worth anything? Maybe its an antique! Maybe one day someone will find my mug in an antique shop and say, "This mug belonged to the famous writer Tim Ellis!"
In fact, I've been in continuous use since 1953. I know, how old am I? But... maybe I'm an antique! Maybe I'm worth something! Maybe one day someone will find my skeleton in an antique shop and say, "How much for this bag of bones, matey?"
Anyway, what's been happening? Well, I've been slacking again! I know, but I have a reasonably sound excuse - I was peddling my bicycle in the twitterverse, out there meeting people, providing samples of my works of art for people to... well, - sample, you know the thing - It's called 'slapping the flesh' - well I thought shaking hands was called that, but apparently not because a search reveals that it's something to do with preparing human flesh for eating - yum, yum! No, don't call the doctor yet, I've remembered now - it's called 'pressing the flesh'! Don't you just love those fantabulous idioms?
So, I did write something this morning, finally stumbled over the 45,000-word line like a clapped-out cross-country runner, and had great plans to reach for the 50,000-word milestone, but I petered out, got ambushed by life. Maybe tomorrow... but that's it, isn't it? We have all these plans, ambitions, goals, but life gets in the way. I suppose I'm lucky though, because there's not a lot of life left to get in the way anymore - son's got his own life (at last), no work to wear me out and suck the creativity out of me, the wife shops on ebay, QVC, and a million other Internet places whilst I'm writing (or procrastinating). She says, "How many books have you sold now?" I tell her, she gets the calculator out, and then buys another pair of shoes, dress, bottle of perfume, or a Toy Boy! Ha, ha - not really! If she read that I'd be dead meat. Then of course, there's our babies - the five Shitzhus (Chinese lion dogs) - I'm the pack leader! There's only four here - the mum (Mim) is missing. From left to right - Buddy, Coco, Daisy, and Frodo (the dad).
So, I remember reading somewhere that self-published authors could count themselves lucky if they sold 250 copies of their book! Don't ask me where it came from, I don't know. Why 250? Who knows, maybe there was anecdotal evidence, but the point I'm making is that maybe with the advent of the ebook and the eReader that's all changed - or has it? If a book is not up to the mark in any number of areas will people still buy it? Probably not. Is 250 a reasonable ceiling? Probably!
If that's the case, then we all need to make sure that what we produce is the very best it can be, and I'm not talking just about formatting, punctuation, spelling, grammar, although you gotta get these right. I'm harping on about writing style, your voice, crisp and realistic dialogue, description that readers can see, taste, smell, touch, hear and drips off the page like honey, three-dimensional characters that we love or hate, a logical twisty-turny plot that grips the reader and doesn't let go until the very last word, a story that touches the reader in some way, and conflict and resolution - nothing left hanging.
You've done all that! Well, you could have said, instead of letting me prattle on like a fishwife! In that case, I'm done! What more is there to say other than, "Goodbye-ee!"
So, here's the thing! You wait for a tram for hours, and then seven come along all at once! Not that I've been waiting for a tram, because there aren't any here in this part of the world. It was purely an old saying to reflect my second blog in as many days! Anyway, on to the business at hand - let's do a post mortem (PM, or for my American readers - Autopsy) of SampleSunday (SS). Don't you just love acronyms? Being in the Army I was fed on acronyms. For a start, I was in the RAMC (Royal Army Medical Corps), at various stages in my career I was a PN (Pupil Nurse), a WO I and II (Warrant Officer), RSM (Regimental Sergeant Major). I've got the GSM (NI) General Service Medal (Northern Ireland) and the LS&GS (Long Service & Good Conduct) medals. I worked at an MRS (Medical Reception Station), a BMH (British Military Hospital) - Oh yes, we love our acronyms! Don't get me started on Internet Acronyms 8 (oral sex - say what!), CD9 (code 9 - parents are around), TDTM (Talk Dirty To Me - the real thing is better!)! Don't you just love the kids today! And we're not even gonna mention the AAAAA (American Association Against Acronym Abuse) - Pah! The Americans are the worst culprits, they've created a new acronym language. LOL!
So, I was up early on Sunday morning, and I opened up my SampleSunday document with all my tweets on! Yeah, you don't think I make them up every time, do you? The first time I did it, I copied all the tweets I used into a document. Now, all those samples are on this website. If you have a look around, I'm slowly building it up into a resource, and what I find interesting is that - unlike some sites and blogs, which are clunky - the Weebly sites are reasonably smooth. What I mean by this is that when you scroll up or down, it moves smoothly instead of chugging like an old worn out engine! Also, some sites, when you go to them, are really slow to load because people have put too much on the front page (which also does not look attractive either, so look at layout), especially the Amazon widgets, Bookbuzzr, etc. What I'm saying is, if your site is difficult to navigate around, or people have to wait ages for it to load, they won't bother to stay. Remember, the attention span of the average person can be measured in nanoseconds, so you don't have long to grab them, lure them into that dark celler, and inject them with a cocktail of hallucinogenic drugs, and chain them up for torturing later.
I think it was the stunningly beautiful Mel Comley from her boudoir in Normandy who suggested that I go to the Kindleboards and put a link there, so I did and the fabulously changeable Morgan Gallagher had opened up a thread. I put all of my 13 tweets in a post on the SampleSunday thread (although some said "one for one" not "one for thirteen", but that was OK) like everyone else had put their tweets in there. I copied and pasted each of their tweets one at a time into Twitter and tweeted them, and they did mine (I also did it later in the day as well). Now, some of these people were American, and my US sales didn't skyrocket - in fact, they stayed firmly on terra firma! So, whether this (or any of it for that matter) had any effect on sales - who knows! Now, one thing you should notice is that none of my samples are the books I have on sale, they're just the first (or more) chapters of books I'd like to write if people ever stop asking me to write blogs!
After I've written my current book The Flesh is Weak (Parish & Richards 3), I'll be focusing on The Timekeeper's Apprentice, then The Skulls Beneath Eternity Wharf (Quigg 3), and Orc Quest: The Last Human (Book II). Although, there's merit in continuing to write more crime novels seeing as they're selling so well, and as well as The Shadow of Death (Parish & Richards 4), I have a number of other crime novels up my metaphorical sleeve such, The Blue Butterfly and another one I only have a title for: Where Do You Go To My Lovely? (Remember the song by Peter Sarstedt?)
Oh, what I also did, but forgot this time, was to do a tweet directing them to my Books page, because they can sample about 24 pages of each of my books through the Bookbuzzr widgets. So, they have a choice of 11 book samples on one page!
I suppose you're wondering, "Why 13 samples?" Well, the idea is that you want those lovely readers to sample your writing (although - before I forget - some people create a website for one sample - that's a bit of a wasted opportunity if you don't mind me saying, because I don't know about you, but I like to peek in the cupboards, rummage through the drawers, nosy in the cellar and attic, and bounce on the beds, but if there's only one sample to read - how boring is that?) Anyway, if you're only offering one sample of say, Chicklit then there's a lot of people who won't even click the link - me for one! If I'm offering some crime, historical, biopunk, scifi, horror, paranormal, etc (and these are just samples - i.e. I've not had to write a whole book, it's merely samples of my writing - it could be short stories, but different genres) then a lot more people are likely to visit, and some will stay and nosy around, and maybe click on my book links - that's the theory anyway! Oh yeah, if they wanted a sample of your book(s), they could just download it from Amazon or Smashwords, so I give them something different, and if they like my writing then they might try my books!
So, I think I'm done! Except, the following day, I found out who'd retweeted and mentioned me and thanked them. One other thing, only one person has ever left a message saying, "Loved your sample!" so I don't know what that's about. Maybe, people click on the link, laugh, and leave! Maybe, people click on the link, copy/paste what's on offer, remodel it and steal your work! Maybe, people visit, copy all my ideas, and write the book before I get the chance to! Maybe... I'm being paranoid! Maybe... if I take my tablets when the nurse opens the door she'll let me see the daylight today! Please...
Hi, I'm Tim Ellis - I write a lot and I hope you enjoy what I write.