Brenda tapped Sara on the shoulder to take over her register. Brenda was starting the second part of her eight hour shift. Deep into the full swing of Black Friday. A day that Brenda never looked forward to working. So many obnoxious, rude customers all demanding to be catered to. She logged into the register and looked out over the sea of people lined up with their overflowing carts. The vast amount of greed made her stomach turn.
Here she was twenty-three working retail in order to support herself. Her modest means, and simple lifestyle, she rented a rundown studio apartment, was vigilant about turning out the lights, keeping the thermostat at a comfortable sixties-five degrees and only took fifteen minute lukewarm showers. She utilized the public library for her entertainment needs, and used the neighbors Wi-Fi for her laptop when she needed to be online, which wasn’t often. She…
For some time now I’ve managed to make my corner of social media a pleasant place to be. Not that I am claiming to be some hero in the process but for everything I have tried to achieve on this journey, its becoming something I am probably the most proud of.
We’re all fighting or striding for something and this sometimes volatile world of always trying to get results can make us forget that perhaps a pleasant environment is important. Most of us have seen the darker side of social media, the trending feeds full of commentators with plenty of cents and no real sense. The trolls who create accounts to simply fulfil their existence lurking under whichever bridge they choose. The straight up hatred, anger and whatever intimidating emotion these crowds can feel while they try to cancel whoever, what if, just what if there was a place away from that?
I know in my heart that the majority of people I connect with on here and across social media are decent. Genuine people who are just trying to get reads, views, sales or even friendship or connections. Some even have guidance to offer or are in need of some. My Twitter has grown through the simple act of helping others and trying to stay afloat with positivity and in doing so has become a decent pleasant place. Maybe that’s what I will eventually be known for. Not for books, writing or what I sell, but what I offer on that basic level, something that cannot be purchased but still experienced. A nice place on social media. Nice places are hard to find in this world and kindness goes a long way.
September 2021 is turning out to be one of the most successful months ever for book reviews and to celebrate I’m sharing the best ones. Reviews are a hard thing to get and so this post is dedicated to the awesome folks who left them for my works recently.
Thank you to Megan for this wonderful review of Open Evening which has just celebrated 5 years of being published.
This is the latest of at least 140 new reviews The Teleporter has received this year. Thank you Mr Morton.
My short but powerful ghost story is starting to become an authors favourite in recent times. Thank you Dan!
In fact ‘Ghost’ has done exceptionally well this month to capture two reviews. Spooky season is coming and this book is prefect for it. Thank you for the kind words Vicky!
Seeing as it has only been a matter of months since ‘CCC’ dropped it’s nearly up to 20 ratings – that’s personal best stuff right there – thank you kind kindle customer!
Thank you to Eve for one of the most wonderful reviews I have ever received. To recieve feedback like this is stuff of dreams and let me extend that thank you to anyone else who has rated my work in recent times. Book reviews/ratings are so difficult to get, so after your next read, remember to leave one!
Time can be a funny thing and it has certainly flown since I first envisioned and then eventually released my first book ‘Open Evening’ back in 2016. We’ve seen pandemics, two different presidents and even hardbacks being introduced to Amazon since this book came out.
For a story based upon a bad dream I had during my teen years it has shaped a huge part of me and my author journey ever since I wrote down the events of that nightmare onto six sides of lined paper. While it sat amongst many of my writings gathering dust for some years after, eventually it would be brought back into the light and served as my great writing reset while also being my debut novel and probably being my most important publishing moment to date. This post is dedicated to some of the vital things I have learned through releasing that book and my wider path as a creative.
Books capture a moment and version of you in time…
I am going to defend it jealously but I am also not afraid to admit that ‘Open Evening’ doesn’t contain my strongest writing – why would it? Because between then and today six other releases have arrived in that time. That’s six opportunities to be better than the previous project. Literally hundreds of hours toiling away figuring out my own style and the English language in general stand between my debut and now.
The story to me is still strong, but the execution, that’s something all writers will always be trying to get better at and so O.E. captures my writing ability at that moment in time. This is a book based in the US but written by a UK based author who has never been across the pond – words and phrases don’t always connect but I’m not going to change them for the world, this book represents so many things I’ve learned in time and those quirks make it all the more meaningful. There’s almost a charm in early works by some creatives and this book perhaps has a little of that.
Every time I have gone back into the manuscript files to change back matter or correct the odd error I find myself unable to change anything more than that. It represents me back then and I’m proud of that version of me in time. This also means that if you do read this book first and move on to later releases, you should hopefully see my writing ability evolve.
Truth in fiction resonates big time…
You’ll find that ‘Open Evening’ contains a huge dose of truth in between the monsters, the running and the terror. My own high school days play out in this book but with the fictional volume turned up. From geographical elements to even characters, much of this story is influenced by real things, people and encounters. For it, you get one hell of a resonating and relatable ride. If you are able to find some element of truth to base your own works on, you’ll probably captivate readers. Combine that with the sometimes outrageous fictional ideas and we’ve got ourselves an immersive tale. That ‘truth’ model is a concept you’ll find in all of my works so this book paved the way.
There are some fictional influences also…
From combining the name of my old high school with the town where slasher film ‘Halloween’ is based all the way to Alien, Buffy and even Blade. Much of my favourite thriller/horrors are also represented in this book and I’ve found that paying homage to them in a story gives readers a weird nostalgic comfort. If you liked Final Destination or any of the stuff below, you’ll probably like ‘Open Evening’.
Social Media Following is everything to me now, but it wasn’t always…
I had a fraction of the following I have now when this book was released and still it sold relatively well at the start.
41 copies – most of which were paperbacks got sold on release. This was a record I have only just broken in terms of release month sales. Back in 2016, Facebook was my main platform along with this blog which also had a fraction of the following I now have.
My advice when it comes to authoring and releasing books: You don’t necessarily need a big following to start off with because as long as that work of yours is findable, readers will eventually gravitate to it over time.
Me: I worked on regularly releasing content before I got anywhere near the social media following I have now. Content will foster new followers.
I got busy writing and spending the time I had to create…
Like I have said before, time is probably the governing factor in all of my content and success. When’ Open Evening’ was ready to be released, my editor wasn’t available and then so I had a year in lieu to use and that’s exactly what I did. Just as O.E. hit its release I was planning my next and already had a draft of ‘Darke Blood’ ready to be edited. 8 months later I had two books out there all because I used the time.
The Free Promo(s) have been worthwhile…
Many authors are strongly against giving their work away for free but I’m not many authors and for the six times ‘Open Evening’ has been priced at zero, thousands of people downloaded it. This has led to me finding an important readership and has even boosted paid sales of other titles over time.
Damn, getting reviews is hard…
I’ve tried near enough every trick out there to try and get more reviews and all of that started with this book. From sending physical copies to bloggers who never even responded, let alone left a review to giving copies to perhaps ‘higher end’ indie authors only to see that same copy on ebay some time later. Reviews are so hard to get and this book confirmed that for me. Since publication ‘Open Evening’ has managed 30+ reviews in that time. A small figure to some, but to me and considering I had very little following back at release, a good number.
It is never too late…
You’ll see me preaching this on Twitter every now and then but the release of a book is only the beginning and from that moment after, the opportunity for a book to find sales, reviews, audiences and a following is always there. It is never too late.
Only you can write your book…
Writing tips and advice take many forms these days, from the awesome gems of guide books out there to social media, but only you the author can find what it takes within to write that book. It started for me with this fast paced high school creature feature horror but I have dabbled in many different genres while only really listening to myself and figuring out this wonderful craft.
Friends and Family were there for me…
As much as I am thankful for the support this book got at the very start, I will stress the word ‘were’ because after the release most of my family and friends disappeared. While back then it was kind of crushing I now understand that most of these people were supporting me and perhaps not the book which forced me over many years to go out and find my own supporters who backed both books and me. This became a blessing in disguise and I know some authors will never even get the acknowledgement from anyone they know for the work they have done so I am ever thankful for that initial support.
That initial support is how I promote myself today…
While most of my family and friends grabbed a copy of this book on release, they did so to support me personally and today that’s how I promote myself – as a person first and then my books second. Most of you reading this would have probably come from social media and might not have even read my works but you know who I am for that effort.
International pricing matters…
This is more of a practical lesson but for a while, my books never sold anywhere outside of the UK and this was mainly due to me not being fully in the detail about pricing in other countries. Be sure to do a little research just to see what is a fair price someone would pay in other places around the world.
Seek Professional Help…
My budget for most releases includes cover artists and editing – both of which to me are essential building blocks that make up the basic anatomy of a book. From word choices, structure and overall guidance; a good editor will help shape that work of yours. A good cover artist will also guide you – ‘Open Evening’ looks the way it does because of the professional help I got. The original cover I envisioned was way more elaborate but I know that those scratches embody everything I wanted to covey for a potential reader.
Keep Creating, Keep Learning…
The journey never ends and books once they are released will outlive us eventually. Books are a life investment and it’s important to learn what you can from releasing one into the wide world where anyone and anything can be said about it.
‘Open Evening’ represents the start of my publishing journey and for all it’s ‘charm’ this book is something I am immensely proud of giving to the world. There is something truly genuine about fostering a story from scratch and writing it with your heart and then offering it to the world; perhaps that’s the most genuine thing a human can do. To me, its certainly up there, so no matter what happens, embrace your art, learn from it, keep creating it and in this case embrace the unexpected.
As a social media creative who regularly gets views and sales from various endeavours, I have concluded in order to get them consistently over time you need to stand out. Most marketing advice online is either out of date or easier said than done and standing out to me is to simply go against the grain of what everyone else is doing and hope it gets noticed. While that may seem easier said than done, and it is, only you can figure out what works for your brand or persona online but passion above all, resonates with near enough everyone.
Social media seems to contain this giant echo of everyone copying one another to the point where most folks just blend into the bandwidth. The passion in all of this is distinctly lacking. Understandably, it can be easy to get caught up or even daunted by this vacuum of repetition but where is the creativity? Buy this or subscribe to that. Everyone seems to be mining for numbers and sales with no real end game when really all you need to seek on social media is enrichment through conversation. That alone will drive visibility, engagement and eventually trust. Trust that you are more than a miner trying to score more points in an endless game that you can’t take anywhere useful. Gain the trust of someone and they’ll invest in you. And this is something that cannot be fabricated. Top that off with a little human passion and things will start to move.
This revelation came to me after I spent way more time than I probably should have on social media, scrolling, watching and talking – maybe it wasn’t in vain after all because for that time I gained the rewards from a high following to regular sales and now a belief this may some day be a career. That is without mentioning the true value of friendships through those things because I found others who share my vision. All I did was spend time conversing and less time trying to sell things and now people have become my power.
It would appear many creatives loathe the thought of marketing, but me, I actually quite enjoy the challenge and results which are always an opportunity to learn and pass information on. All driven by the desire to go against the grain and try something new fuelled by people who believe in me. Those days of reverting to zero are few and far between for me now, long may it continue.
Lee Hall’s Open Evening (The Order of the Following Series)
“Hell I know Spike is the best looking and Xander has all the best lines,” I said. A smile began to emerge from Josie’s face.
That is the best thing I’ve read in a while. Lee Hall has a way with words, keeping it a fast paced, action driven horror story, and yet keeping it light hearted with the pop-culture references. Nods to using Buffy as comic relief in Open Evening.
As someone that consumed a lot of media growing up, everything from Saturday Morning Cartoons to Sitcoms to Night Time Dramas. The 80’s, 90’s and early 2000’s were some of the best in T.V. pop-culture. In my personal experience. I did warn you that this is a rambling review.
Before I dive in, get yourself a beverage. I recommend water, because even though it’s now September it’s still…
And we thought selling our books to people who would actually pay money was hard. If that was the big victory then getting them to leave a review after is a whole different challenge so let’s talk about that struggle.
This post is partly inspired by a message I received over on Twitter from a fellow author struggling to get more reviews for their work. Of course, like all authors who approach me in need I did my best to provide some advice that is both practical and thought based.
I’m going to break down in detail the whole deal of that struggle to get reviews with a little overview, some story telling, some solutions and even tips on how to get more.
I’ll admit now that there are no real quick fixes, like anything in writing, my advice is subjective but let’s all agree first and foremost that finding reviews is really really difficult. Over the years and through much struggle I’ve concluded that the reason why it is so difficult is because the average reader never thinks to leave a review. Back when I used to read Crichton or King novels way before being published, never once did it cross my mind that they needed my review and they probably didn’t on an individual level.
But now, we stand in a shiny new era of publishing and this new-ish social media self published indie generation have only really just emerged in the past few years (a decade at best), that is of course only a slice of the author pie as I would like to acknowledge anyone else published through traditional or smaller presses. Our struggle is the same, but only recently has it become so apparent because a lot more folks are self publishing and the spotlight from social media makes everything way more heightened.
Readers just not thinking to leave reviews is both logical and hopefully reassuring to you and that’s what this post is designed to be, an objective viewpoint to hopefully reassure and help. So, how do we deal with this struggle for reviews. We’ll get to the logical/practical soon but first comes the story which aims to reassure…
It has been a while since I put out one of these posts and there’s a few books I’ve read in that time. All indie and all recommended. As an author myself I understand the struggle that is finding reviews and the pillar that holds this place together is content driven by indie reads. Let us dive in…
‘King of the Wicked’ by T.R. Hamby
‘An immersive imaginative take on Angels, humanity and immortality…‘
Introducing fellow author Erik Meyers who reviews Fee Simple Conditional by H.C. Helfand
I don’t remember exactly how I found how about “Fee Simple Conditional”. While that’s not really important, I loved the book so much, I wish I knew where I had discovered it.
At first you think ‘what a funny little phrase’. Then you begin reading and are pulled into a glorious story that grows and grows and grows on you.
Besides learning a lot about deeds, property and the history of such, you follow the ups and downs of Abigail Fischer.
A chance side-job takes her to places and people she never thought she would connect with.
I loved the twists and turns and surprises on every page.
What really stuck out though are the quirky characters. None of them are what you would expect. And that’s what makes the book so sensational.
They aren’t perfect. They have their good times and their bad times, like real life.
I read the book in an afternoon turning page after page faster and faster to find out what happened and the whole time wishing Abigail gets the life she deserves. She sounds like a wonderful person I would actually want to meet.
The ending is a beautiful cherry topping on the cake that will blow you away.
No spoilers here. You will just have to devour this book like I did to find out what happened.
Planned as a series, I can’t wait to read book 2!
I haven’t had a book touch me like this is a long time.