Tag Archives: Stones of Judgment

FIRST FEATURE — What fun!

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The Suffolk Press Press, a local paper serving the Sudbury, Suffolk area (circulation about 8,100) and beyond published a feature on me and my book, The Stones of Judgment last week. Yes, that’s me resting on the fence outside my sister’s cottage. I come from Suffolk and as some of the action takes place there, the newspaper was interested in the story. The exposure may even help to sell a few more copies, which was the reason for doing it. I am much more confident holding the pen and notepad than answering questions.

Word of mouth, going viral, spreading the news: there is no quick way, beyond super-celebrity endorsement, to get people to take notice of a new book by a first-time novelist. Even those who receive the praise, and plenty of media coverage, often don’t get the sales to reflect this. A good friend of mine has released a superb memoir (Mother, Daughter, Me) this spring that was selected by Oprah Winfrey as a best book for the summer and received rave reviews everywhere. It is selling well and always gets many-starred, enthusiastic reviews on Amazon but despite all this, it is not top of the bestseller lists yet.

The problem was follow through: the publisher did not take the good reviews and recommendations and push them with further advertisements and promotions. Why? Because at some meeting earlier in the year they must have identified the books they were going to support whole hog and this was not one. So even though my friend is doing a great deal of self-promotion and has trekked across the US talking at bookstores everywhere, she did not have the clout she might have gotten if her publisher was fully behind her. This is a great pity.

So where does that leave the self-published Kindle-only book: on the virtual shelf, I’m afraid, sadly waiting for someone, somewhere to hit the download button. It is a full-time job (and I already have one of those) drumming up the support and publicity that you need to start the recognition ignition. Approximately 2.2 million books are published annually, with about 20 per cent of those in English, according to UNESCO – and that doesn’t even include eBooks. Bowker, a US company, estimates that there were 3 million books published in the US in 2012 (including eBooks) and that very few sell more than 250 copies each.

That is both encouraging (I am not alone!) and really disappointing. eBooks are super cheap. Mine sells for less than £3, what you would pay to board a bus twice in London, but, depending on traffic, it can give you hours more fun.

I am grateful for Barbara Eeles of the Suffolk Free Press for taking an interest in the book and me. I hope that a few more people will go online, Google it and opt to download. My son was amused that my royalty statement for 2013 won’t allow us to splurge on a new X-Box 360 for him as my readership is still struggling in the low double digits. But  I was encouraged this weekend when an acquaintance of mine won a Kindle and promised to buy it. So I am expecting to see a slight up-tick in sales over the coming week but probably not enough to change my tax status.

I am glad I made the effort to publish. I do have other books planned, full-time job permitting, and the fact that I can search for myself on Amazon is rewarding in a small way. However, I won’t be retiring to a writing life just yet — too many responsibilities  — though I am certainly looking forward to the time when I can.

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I’ve sold three downloads to people I know

This is very exciting. Three people — all either related to me or very good friends — have downloaded my book, The Stones of Judgment at 99 cents a copy. That is great news — and I haven’t started the media blitz yet, just a quick post on Facebook.

I am not sure what the media blitz will look like, but when I get more than a few minutes of time, I shall give it some thoughts. My sister has suggested local Suffolk media because part of the story takes place there. That’s something to consider. I can also send out review copies to people I think would have influence. I imagine Dan Brown, for example, giving it a blurb (in my dreams of course). I can see Oprah reading it on the beach and tweeting to all her followers, too.

It’s fantastic what the imagination can do! 

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Pressing the Amazon publish button

I had thought it would be easier. But after I received the Kindle version of my book, Stones of Judgment, ready for Amazon uploading I broke stride trying to figure out what kind of royalty deal I should go for. The 70/30 split on offer for a bunch of countries looked good until it seemed that I would have to price the book higher than I had wanted. And then there was the issue of exclusivity with a shot at the Amazon lending pot … about $1million to share between many thousand writers. But then the book would have to only be available on Amazon.

So, because I couldn’t decide what to do, I decided to start slow. I picked the 35/65 deal and priced the book at 99 cents and pushed the publish button. Amazon said it would take 12 hours to go live. That should be sometime while I am sleeping. I believe many more people will sleep through the event unless I get my act together and spread the word.

First stop, blogging. Expect more where this came from.

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On Pope Watch

This time around I am on constant Pope watch. I’ve looked at the odds and all the stories about the scandals at the Vatican Bank and allegations of inappropriate behaviour and wonder how will they influcence the outcome. Not that I really believe the Papal Conclave could be rigged, but it adds a bit a spice to a plot that I started thinking about more than five years ago.

As I write, the final pages of Stones of Judgment are being prepared for proofing later this week. There will be a new Pope before it’s published. But with so much scandal around the Vatican at the moment, could it be possible that the choice was influenced not by conscience but by coercion?

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/09/world/europe/cardinals-conclave-pope.html?ref=europe&_r=0

 

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March 10, 2013 · 12:24 pm