‘Pirate Sea’ by Kyler Kuehler – Review

A swashbuckling and sometimes brutal tale packed with action

Pirate Sea is a page-turning swashbuckling tale with a brutal edge that follows young ‘James Vane’ as he is captured by a band of pirates in the 1700’s. The writing style is both a befitting tribute to the famous pirate tales seen in classic literature whilst also having a modern feel.

Not long after readers are introduced to the story do we see events turn for the worst for young ‘James’ as his father’s ship is intercepted by the infamous pirate vessel known as the ‘Blood Revenge’ and helmed by Captain ‘Scar Eye’ – I enjoyed the naming here, it felt both original and familiar which hit the right tones for a pirate themed story. Soon enough those events turn brutal which is something that rings true from real history, this isn’t just the glamour of swords and sails, its gritty and violent. This is also a sign of things to come.

“He was pure pirate and reasoning with pure pirate was impossible”

A quote that sums up the journey James would have to take in this story to find any kind of redemption or escape and there is a heap of character development as he adjusts to these new pirate surroundings. It is during this journey that he discovers a history that is very close and personal and with it comes a tale I very much enjoyed.

4 Stars

‘Where Darkness Meets Light’ by Sabrine Elouali – Review

Thought-provoking poetry reflecting many themes surrounding the dark and light…

This is a rich collection of poetry that serves as a reflection of many themes that mainly surround dark and light. Some verses rhyme whilst others don’t but all of them have their own power whether it be poignant or even brief, poetry is a creative reflection of one’s inner thoughts and it can be impromptu or planned, I kind of gathered the vibes of both through the many poems by Sabrine Elouali which I enjoyed.

In particular, ‘Questions’ resonated with me and ‘Illusion’ which merely suggested some of the deeper thoughts that followed after reading them and that is the sign of any good writing, laying something out that evokes feeling, but the readers imagination is given freedom to do the rest. Having grabbed a digital copy of this collection for free, I’d say that’s more than a bargain for some great poetry.

5 Stars

‘Fallout’ by Pat Griffith – Review

An imaginative and highly original tale about first contact with corporeal beings from another world some of which are already here….

Pat Griffith takes readers on an original and unexpected journey that begins in one place and then takes a direction I did not see coming. A group of high school aged friends spend an evening camped out in the woods for some stargazing and experience something none of them could have possibly expected. And then there’s first contact as the real story kicks in.

The light around them dimmed, eliminating the shadows. The sun grew cold and the wind blew harder. As they looked up, gravitating toward each other, there was a mutual, unspoken question between them: What in the world was that?’

The pace suddenly quickens as its apparent this fallen meteorite contains life that has a unique invisible ability to spilt and take over a human mind. This life even has a conscience and thought process even if it does find the human anatomy seemingly foreign. After hitching a ride on their nearest hosts the chase begins as the authorities are informed – the FBI who usually turn up to these things are on the case and then comes the realisation that some of these beings were already here, hiding amongst us. The focus is on the human mind and how it can be altered or even intercepted to the point where they (the humans) are no longer in control.

Through the vessel of some wonderful description and heaps of originality we are taken on this ride of chase and hide adventure as these beings intercept and try to run. There are even those in authority who have succumbed to the effects of them. What they want is never really known but does it matter? Perhaps not because like all life, that’s probably what they want, to live. There are brief shades of Invasion of the Body Snatchers but with a less horror-esque tone and more of a focus on that corporeal life that silently takes on a human host.

For anyone looking to read an original sci-fi adventure about life from another planet that intercepts life on this one, this is definitely one for you!

4 Stars – This review first premiered via Reedsy Discovery

Book Promotion Results – May 2022

The results are in for my latest book promotion efforts and loyal Rock Star Patrons got to see it before anyone else but now its available for all. Let us dive in!

The Plan

Its good to lay down a plan and my plan was simple this time around; to celebrate the one year anniversary of Consistent Creative Content being released by running a weekend price reduction promotion with a little paid advertising. Using a few different advertisers over a few days I even had the grand vision of the book reaching #1 and Best Seller status on Amazon. There were a few other promotional things planned for the weekend and run up to it also.

I’ve been eyeing up this anniversary for a little while now and so I booked my advertising at the end of April – some advertisers tend to get booked up so planning in advance always helps with that.

The Price Promotion would be $0.99 and run from Friday the 20th to Sunday the 22nd with the usual price being $3.99 – a considerable drop so I was hopeful for this one. A few days or a weekend is more than enough to run a price promotion, I tend to only run them in short bursts to create some urgency, plus after day 2 or 3 I run out of the energy required to keep tweeting about the same thing.

Advertisers

For the Friday I used Robin Reads and their $0.99 Non-Fiction Feature that cost $65

For the Saturday I used E Reader News Today ($55) and Bargain Booksy ($35)

(Give these sites a Google if you want to find out more)

These advertisers I have used previously and generally bring good results. As you can see they have a cost which is something that you need to be prepared to do if you want serious results.

The wonderful thing is I paid for this advertising with the royalties I’ve earned so far this year from book sales.

For many years, I’ve run these promotions at a loss but there have been other returns in the form of Amazon chart movement, reviews, further sales, social media follows and new readers. Plus this isn’t my day job, so there is no pressure to earn actual money.

Other Promotional Things

To tie in with the anniversary I put together a reflective blog post about the first year of Consistent Creative Content and I also released a special presentation of yours truly narrating some of the book which was made free to listen.

These other promotional things tend to help just a little and the more platforms you are active on, the better chance you have of reaching just a few extra potential readers. So in theory, the more you do, the better chance of reach.

My initial plan was to keep things discreet on Twitter until the Saturday because the platform tends to figure out that I would be trying to sell things and therefore the algorithms would kick in or start kicking me and reduce my visibility – I can’t say Twitter does this 100% but I have a feeling something happens beneath the curtain when anyone gets a little too advertisey. On this weekend in particular, it was looking like I’d be reaching the 30,000 follower milestone on Twitter.

The Results

As you can see, day 1 brought in the most sales. There were even a few full priced sales the day before over in the US which gave Consistent Creative Content a great start.

Day 2 saw 23 sales and then things slowed down on the Sunday to just 3 sales.

For the time CCC was discounted it sold over 60 copies!

Chart Movement:

By the time Friday evening rolled around CCC shot all the way up to #2 in the US Amazon Charts under the Writing Skill Reference Chart. Usually its in the 1000’s which is an incredible result and will help with visibility.

Pro Tip: If you are looking for more visibility and perhaps even thinking of applying for a BookBub Featured deal, getting your book higher up the charts just before applying will help.

Cheeky ad of my Tweet Coaching Sessions

Social Media:

Because of the surprising chart position over in the US by Friday evening, I decided to take the plunge into tweeting. I got a little excited and hoped that maybe CCC would reach best seller…

Now the book never got to #1 which would have been awesome but perhaps another achievement for another day. I did spend the weekend tweeting quite a lot about CCC which effectively killed my engagement and visibility for the time. Even with a following as large as mine being sales focused constantly will reduce my reach or that’s how it seems anyway. Here’s an insight into that:

Friday Organic Twitter Impressions: 42,000+ (less book plug stuff)

Sunday Organic Twitter Impressions: 16,00+ (more book plug stuff)

This is also another reason why just a few days for a promo is enough.

Final Thought

I’m happy with this one year anniversary promo. CCC is becoming my most successful book but that success takes some time and time is a book’s best friend. Perhaps in a few years time the results will be even better!

Thanks for reading.

Quite soon I’ll be recording a new Twitter Coaching Sessions which is a celebratory glance at how I reached 30,000 Twitter followers and it will be free for all to listen!

‘SKINNER: Thirty-five years. Four killers. One city’ by Nathan Jones – Review

Immersive near future sci-fi meets the macabre…

Dayne Mitchell has a fascination for the macabre and the wider subject of serial killers who have plagued the British city of Bristol for many years. As a sufferer of bipolar he almost looks to the dark subject of killing as a coping mechanism to get through life in a near future world that is intriguing and imaginative – these two words are what I would use to describe a story that takes readers to dark and sometimes graphic violent places.

There are a wealth of modern subjects and heavy themes in this book that are executed very well by Nathan Jones who merges near future science fiction to thrilling murder mystery with a lot of depth. The vessel being Dayne who endures a journey of discovery, twists and then horrifying revelations as his research into Bristol’s murderous past eventually comes to him. Fans of darker crime drama will certainly appreciate this one along with those looking to learn about the geography and history of a great city.

5 Stars

The Teleporter turns 4 Today

Time flies when your busy reading, writing, tweeting, blogging and just trying to survive this world. Today marks the 4th anniversary of when I took a huge plunge into the unknown by releasing a super hero comedy novella called The Teleporter. Today, it is my most successful book.

The truth is, I really wanted readers to enjoy and find something within that at least made them laugh just once because comedy has brightened my life so much over the years and if you can laugh at just one thing every day, even if it is in the mirror like me, then you’re probably doing okay. Back when I began this indie author journey, there were just two stories that kept nudging me to write them, one of of which became my debut and the other became The Teleporter which at the time and probably even now is a far cry from my usual genre of horror, thrillers and stuff that seems darker in tone. When I wrote it, I just wanted to have some fun and come away from those darker tones.

There is a lot of advice going around in the writing industry about staying in genre and not pushing boundaries too far from your usual stuff but The Teleporter goes against that grain and took me out of my comfort zone. While some ‘industry’ advice does work for all, following your heart and your creativity is important because anytime I have created out of my comfort zone, things have eventually gone well. After an initial release that saw less than 20 sales in the first month, I was convinced very early on that I had failed. 2018 Lee was a different, less patient creative who had no idea about the path that was coming.

It is never too late for a book to find success and The Teleporter is proof of that because just over a year after release, BookBub selected it for a featured deal. A BookBub featured deal is a huge thing for any author and is often referred to as the holy grail of advertising deals. For a very small time indie author to have a book I thought nobody liked selected by BookBub was a truly special moment and then in 2021 they selected it again – at the time, it had around 20 Amazon ratings. These two moments are what I always draw to whenever I have any doubts because if a site like BookBub who often feature literary giants like James Patterson and Stephen King say yes to my book, well then I must be doing something right.

And today there aren’t many doubts about this book which was downloaded over 10,000 times in a single day for that second featured deal. Just some days later it then became a Best Seller on Amazon and just months after it hit 100 Amazon ratings. Every month since that second deal which was the best business decision I’d ever made, The Teleporter has always sold copies and to me is the greatest proof that it is never too late for a book to find success.

To all of those who have supported this super hero comedy, thank you.

You can read all about how I secured that 2nd BookBub Featured Deal here.

Book Promotion Results – April 2022

And so I’m back to share my most recent book promotion results. Those who do follow me on Twitter might have seen my efforts last weekend and so I am here to share my results with a hope it may help a fellow author.

Brief Intro

For those who don’t know me, my name is Lee Hall, I’m an indie/self published author of seven books from the UK. I’m a huge believer in helping and supporting other creatives in the community and the majority of my success has come from building trust with others. I also never give up and my dream for the world to read my words is getting closer by the day. Using mostly social media, I regularly sell books around the world but every now and then I’ll give those books a little extra help by way of some paid advertising.

Some Basics

So what do I mean by book promotion? Well to me, book promotion is a large umbrella of variety that covers many different methods to sell books. As an indie and someone who began this journey at zero much like many of you, I have determined that sometimes, selling books is really hard but not impossible. Its all about visibility and making people aware of your work.

There are a plethora of ways to increase your visibility and the majority of mine comes from Twitter where I have over 25,000 followers – something I spent a long time working at growing. From this, I normally manage to get sales roughly every other day which is awesome but every now and then I like to give my books a bigger push.

My Aim

From the seven books I have published, four of them are a part of the Occult Order of the Following Series which is horror/thriller in genre. My next release is going to be the fifth and final book in the series and so my aim for this book promotion was to increase my sales for theses titles.

How?/Methods

So how was I going to promote these 4 books? By way of some paid advertising. Over the years I have used many different book promotion sites which are basically websites that offer a range of advertising for a fee while some are free. Many of these sites have access to large mailing lists which can help get those books in front of newer eyes. This method normally focuses on selling digital books and my e book sales have always been stronger than paperback.

Basic Tips:

Generally, the more books you have available, the more cool things you can do to try and sell them.

Free is good for visibility: For those who do have a series like me, pricing Book 1 for free in digital format and then discounting the others to 99 cents or equivalent will help sales. Book 1 will most likely attract readers who then will hopefully check out the series. Those with e books enrolled in KDP select will be given a number of optional days each period to price your book for free.

Create a Series Page: Amazon allow you to create a separate page for your series which also helps for visibility. Having this link to share helps direct readers to your work. Here’s mine.

Time and Urgency: Running a promotion for just a short time really helps create a sense of urgency – Amazon allow five days for a book to be free but one or two is perfect.

Invest with Money: I’ve said this before but if you want serious results, sometimes you have to spend money for that.

Spread across Platforms: When I run any promo, normally I create a post on here where my 900+ followers will see. I also do some stuff on Instagram and of course Twitter. This cross platform spread helps get the word out.

Book Banners: Book Banners work quite well for a nice visual that can be shared across social media. Combined with a professionally designed cover, they help. I created this banner myself and there are plenty of decent online Photoshop sites out there along with licence free image sites like Pixabay.

Who did I advertise with?

For this promo which I ran for just one day on Saturday April 9th 2022, I advertised with Free Booksy and their awesome series feature which allowed me to link the rest of the books in my Order of the Following Series beginning with Open Evening (Book 1) which was free.

Stacking Promotions: Normally during any promotional run I will advertise with multiple sites, this is known as stacking, but for this promo I used just Free Booksy. They offer a range of advertising services and not just for series.

This was the first time I had used just a single advertiser. And so, on with the results!

Results

There are two main ways in which I look at the results. Firstly the free downloads of Book 1 Open Evening:

Just 3 downloads shy of 300 for a single day with just a handful over spilling the next day was a fantastic result. With 6 different territories taking part and considering this was a promo with a single advertiser, I am happy. But, did the free promo entice any paid sales for the rest of the books in the series?

The answer is yes! And I haven’t seen that many paid sales in a single day for quite some time and because I have never ran a series promo with just a single advertiser, this is a personal best!

The most popular title seemed to be Book 4 Darke Awakening which had a rather quiet release back in 2020 and proves my theory that it is never too late for a book to find sales!

Now the best indicator of a good book promotion run isn’t the day of the run but what happens after. And a good book promo run will continue to bring in results for some time after. Seeing as this run was only a few days ago, here are some more results:

After a very dry spell in terms of KENP page reads, they finally sparked to life. All of my fiction is on Kindle Unlimited and so that extra visibility has boosted page reads!

It might be unrelated but the day after the promo, my super hero comedy The Teleporter hit 180 Amazon ratings! So perhaps this promo even brought in other books in my bibliography.

Factors for Success

With nearly 400 digital copies of my works finding readers, let us look at why this promo run was a success:

All of my works have professionally designed covers which is a must for that first visual impression. Check out Design For Writers – they do some fantastic work and have done all of my covers;

Some reviews help and every one of the books in the Order of the Following Series have at least 5;

I have a series page on Amazon which means all of the books in the series are in one place;

The price reduction across the series pretty much guaranteed a few readers looking for a bargain to grab them and because this was a one day only deal, the urgency probably motivated that;

I invested money in the promotion and sometimes you have pay serious money to get serious results;

My social media game was on point. Not only did I put out a post on here but during the day I was active on Twitter and made sure my audience knew about the promo.

Final Thought

I do hope this post has helped in some capacity because marketing and selling books is an uphill struggle for most of us. These methods seem to help but there is always something else to do be done. You can only do what you know at the time. My advice would be to take your time and try and few things at once. It is never too late for a book to find readers and my first book Open Evening which was released in 2016 is proof of that!

Thanks for reading!

Here’s a short list of resources that will hopefully help with your book promo efforts:

A list of Book Promo Sites

Book Selling Troubleshooter

Free Book Promo Guide

You can also find a whole host of book marketing and social media advice in my guide book Consistent Creative Content which can be found on Amazon!

‘Powerless’ by Vicky Ball – Review

A well-written twisting thriller with darker themes…

Vicky Ball delivers a twisting tale that carries a plethora of darker themes while being executed in a page-turning style that hops back and forth in time with dual P.OV’s. Ball does everything to tell this story and succeeds. As readers we are shown just enough to suggest what is happening beneath the surface of a story that tackles the themes of naivety, coercion, trauma, addiction and of course danger that is a lot closer than first realised.

When ‘Beth’ returns home after several years after disappearing it brings up all kinds of questions and contention that places her younger sister ‘Abby’ on a twisting path of realisation. There is a lot to unpack and it happens gradually while the twists appear unexpectedly. Perhaps this a cautionary tale for those who are younger to not be so trusting to those who clearly want something – a powerful message aimed at readers of a certain younger age who will get something from this book. What we are shown is just enough without glorifying or even exploiting the many issues the reader and characters face. The concept of ‘Businessmen’ simply casts a long enough shadow to suggest what is really happening and the message being about trust.

With a story that goes full circle, Powerless is a thrilling and twisting tale that will take readers on a dramatic and sometimes unexpected ride.

4 Stars – Reviews left via Amazon and Goodreads

‘A Twist in the Rift’ by Meg Radiant – Review

Original page-turning sci-fi with unlimited portals of potential…

A Twist in the Rift is an original and imaginative story about ‘Lyricia’ who has the uncanny ability to see and travel through ‘Rifts’ which are portals to other worlds. She grows up knowing this and it isn’t until adult age that she acts upon it and so the rabbit hole of possibility unfolds. The scope and imagination of author Meg Radiant is executed well with a page-turning style that leaves readers wanting more while there is a plethora of characters, cool concepts, terminology and worlds to be explored here. Above all this book is an adventure.

There were just a few points where there seemed to be more showing as opposed to telling in the writing but for the nature of this page-turning novella it works. For anyone looking to read some original sci-fi with new worlds and concepts, this one has portals of potential.

4 Stars

Excerpt of SPINDRIFTS by A-M Mawhiney

Introducing author A-M Mawhiney who shares an exclusive excerpt of her dystopian sci-fi novel SPINDRIFTS…

Suddenly Fania gasped loudly and yelled, “I know where he is. He’s by the rapids. Poppy, come on. Gram, bring your kit and follow us.” She flew out the door with Kaib following fast behind her.
“What was in that tea you gave her?” Hope asked, watching them go.
Alicia was exhausted and unable to face another bout of Hope’s ire, so she merely shrugged her shoulder and stared at her daughter, gesturing with a sweeping motion of her hands for Hope to follow Kaib and Fania.
Kaib could hardly keep up with Fan she was running so fast. She can really run, he thought as he started to fall behind. He was just able to keep her in sight. When Fania got to the rapids he saw her stop suddenly, and she turned to Kaib and signaled for him to stop and remain quiet. Fania’s gestures showed she was fearful of what she saw. As he crept up, he saw why. Ollie was on the rock shelf overlooking the rapids, his back turned to the water, too near the edge for him to be safe. Kaib was terrified Ollie could back off the ledge into the rapids. Kaib followed Ollie’s frightened gaze to see what held the boy’s attention.
“It’s Mkwaa, a bear, Poppy,” Fania whispered quietly, pointing to a large sow reared up onto her hind legs, the bear and boy both frozen in place, staring at each other.
One minute Fania was beside Kaib, and in a nano-second she was between Ollie and the bear. Kaib had taught Fania to be tall and make lots of noise in a bear encounter, but he gasped in alarm when Fania did the opposite, crouching down several feet in front of the bear.
“Fan,” he started, but she motioned for silence, pointing behind her at Ollie and then to Kaib, telling him to get Ollie while she murmured to the bear softly. At first he could not make out what she was saying, until she switched to Anishinaabemowin and spoke at length, saying she wasn’t going to hurt the bear and she wanted to be friends. She asked the bear to let Ollie go with Kaib. Her calm voice seemed to soothe the animal. At that point Fania was sitting on the ground, and the bear suddenly came down on all fours and sat on her rump several metres away, mimicking Fan. Almost like a tea party, she thought, slightly hysterically before catching her breath to settle herself.
The moment was surreal. Mkwaa looked over at Kaib, grunted, and turned her head to look at Ollie, as if to say “get on with it then. Get the boy cub to a safe place.” Kaib motioned for Ollie to approach him slowly, as he inched toward the boy. Once he was close enough, Kaib grabbed Ollie gently and swung him down off the ledge.
A few moments later, Hope arrived to find Kaib holding Ollie in his arms, and Fania, of all things, sitting and chatting with a bear. Kaib passed Ollie to Hope, and once she’d checked him carefully and found no signs of injury, she sat with Ollie at the side of the trail. She gave him water and some warm soup while she glanced back at Fania over her shoulder, her heart in her throat, terrified to clear the tic lodged there in case it distracted Fania. Or the bear. She was paralyzed with fear that the animal would charge Fania. She could see Kaib was readying himself to intervene and that added to her worry, but she turned back to focus on the patient in front of her, steadying her hands so the soup didn’t spill, cooing softly at Ollie who had started to shiver. She knew she had to get Ollie to a warm place. It was time for him to be with his parents.
“We’ll go home now, Ollie. Can you walk with me?”
“Oh,” he wailed, bursting into tears. “I’m in so much trouble. My parents will be terribly mad at me.”
“Oh no, they will be happy to see you safe, you’re not to worry about them being angry. They’ve been beside themselves ever since they realized you were gone,” Hope reassured him quietly, as she put her supplies back into her kit. Standing up and taking hold of Ollie’s hand, she indicated with hand motions to Kaib she was leaving. With great reluctance, she glanced back at her partner and granddaughter one last time before taking the first difficult steps away from where they remained in danger.
Kaib whispered, trying to get Fania’s attention. “Ollie’s safe now. It’s time for you to step back and move slowly closer to me.” The bear looked over at Kaib as he spoke, grunted, and turned back to Fania.
“Oh no, Poppy. I can’t move yet. Mkwaa has some kind of problem we’re trying to figure out. I’m not sure what she is trying to tell me, but she’s upset about something.” The bear suddenly reared up, and Kaib started forward to grab Fania, terrified the bear was starting to attack, but she slowly turned and waddled off into the bush.
“Come along, Fan, it’s safe now, let’s go,” Kaib urged.
“I can’t leave yet.” After a few moments of silence, punctuated by Kaib’s panicked gasps, the bear returned, carrying a young cub in her mouth. She put her cub down near Fania, but far away enough that Kaib could see Fania was safe—at least for the moment. The bear huffed at Kaib as if she could understand what he was thinking, and backed up to give Fania room to approach her cub.
Kaib noticed the cub had fishing line wrapped around its snout.
“There’s a fishhook in its mouth, Poppy,” Fania said quietly, as she gently picked up the cub and put in on her lap while the poor creature moaned in pain. He couldn’t open his mouth because of the fishing line. Fania gently pulled the hook out while she crooned to the cub. Once the line was untied, Fania put the cub back on the ground, stood slowly, and stepped back a few paces. The cub rushed back to his mother who stood and regarded Fania intently for a few moments, crashed to the ground on all fours, and herded her cub back into the bush, stopping once to look back at Fania before disappearing from view.
Kaib quickly climbed up onto the ledge and urged Fania to sit with him, overlooking the rapids. The water level was low with the rocks showing though in places. As Kaib looked far below, at the churning water, he felt so relieved that Ollie hadn’t fallen. He’d never have survived such a plunge.
Kaib put his arm around Fania, who had started to shake. She leaned in for his warmth and comfort. “This is so strange. I felt calm and safe the whole time I was with the bear and her cub, but now I feel scared with what could have happened.”
“You were very good in such a difficult situation. It is natural to have a reaction right after such an intense experience. I’d worry if you didn’t.” He held her for several minutes, until she breathed deeply and stood up.
“Let’s go home, Poppy. All of a sudden I feel exhausted.”

This is an excluisve excerpt from A-M Mawhiney’s debut book, Spindrifts, published through Friesen Press, November 2021 which you can find here.