All I know…

Forwards is all I know. It’s probably my greatest coping strategy and my most powerful weapon against anything adverse in this life and believe me, adverse is understatement when it comes to describing 2020. How we cope in situations life throws us is our true measure. Much of what I do involves thinking on my feet and going with it. There is no short term planning, it’s just me going with instinct and trusting it will stick. When something does stick. I just go forth with it. That’s how I got here, a road behind paved by supporting and being supported by others. There’s gold in supporting others, not a physical kind but the kind that means more than fortune.

Figuring out this whole blogging and authoring deal is half the battle. This year provided an opportunity to go forward continually. That ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ is gospel to me, when they said that all the way back during WW2 they knew what they were talking about. All this uncertainty shrouds the true opportunity and that opportunity is carrying on through anything and everything. Even when we don’t know if we’re really going to win, what is winning these days? Survival is winning to me, it always has been.

I’ll be taking everything I do into next year and beyond. Truthfully it’s kept me going emotionally and physically. To have purpose and to find purpose is to truly live. To live is an awfully wonderful adventure. See you in 2021, no doubt I’ll be going forwards, it’s all I know…

Lockdown Equals Opportunity

What a week this is shaping up to be. I mean is this the run up to the final episode of 2020? We’ve got lockdowns announced left right and centre along with an election across the pond. It’s felt like one hell of a long slog to get here with March literally being three years ago, or so it seems…

While in an ideal world it’s fun to compare this present reality to one of our favourite or not so favourite shows (Game of Thrones, cough, cough…), in real life there isn’t the luxury of fading to black and rolling to the credits, or blaming the writers who secured a gig with Star Wars just before they started production of the final season…

Over here in the UK – or specifically England, we’re about to face a second lockdown. Having been there before and because so many of this blog’s followers are facing similar circumstances in other countries I can wholeheartedly say that with a lockdown comes opportunity. Now I’m not talking about the business shark antics that take advantage of someone else’s misfortunate – what do you think this is the 80’s? But when the first lockdown hit back in March I eventually realised people need content for a distraction. Because I had the time to focus more on producing content, the numbers, follows, book sales and pretty much everything went up. This blog has faced more success this year than ever before!

If you have something to offer in this world that will serve other people, offer it, especially now…

Those who can produce content, right now this is your opportunity, not only does it express the importance of you personally carrying on, but someone somewhere will appreciate your efforts. It’s a circle of well-being because for me expression through words makes me feel good and my hope is that those good feels are passed on to readers. The world is in a state of flux right now but those who can remain doing what they did before without endangering themselves are serving to preserve what will be left after this era has gone. We as humans have always looked to escapism to survive the crap that is happening out the window, be that escape for someone. You’ll find purpose in creativity and content trust me.

Carry on, write that blog post, produce that video, put out that tweet, review that book because you’ve probably got the time now, seize it because lockdown equals opportunity!

Weekly Ramble #87

If there wasn’t any social media I would still be writing, period. Recently I’ve been seeing more and more authors venting their frustrations because it feels like they are not selling anything or being listened to online. Is that what really matters in all of this?

I’ve vented many of my laments on here before, the whole reverting to zero thing is something all of us as creators must get used to. Just because you expected one thing and got another doesn’t mean the result was a failure. Selling hundreds of books and getting thousands of follows is great, sure, that’s an ideal world type of situation but does it really foster any type of fulfilment. If I were to rephrase that I would say selling the right book to the right person and getting the right engagement is way more fulfilling and important than getting larger numbers.

Because you had a bad book promo run or a stint of nobody liking your tweets is a paper thin reason to walk away from something as great as writing. That desire and dream you had perhaps long ago is stronger than that and so are you. For me this journey started at aged 12 in front of a Windows 98 computer on a rainy day. I’m a long way from that now because all good things and results in authoring/blogging take time and work.

Because you wrote a book and advertised it everywhere for nobody to buy it is an opportunity, not a failure. Do this for the writing and the journey your words take; everything else, no matter how much you try to get them; Retweets, follows and sales, they are not the measure of success because they are mostly out of your control so let it go. The rat race of social media will never ever go away, that feeling of chasing is constant – don’t let it bother you because there are stories out there someone wants. Stories that come from your energy and passion which deserves way more attention. Don’t give up. The greatest opportunity we have is in those words.

Weekly Writing Inspiration #15

This week is gonna be busy with book reviews and promo stuff so the memes that might be inspiring have arrived early…

Just don’t…

That’s some tight but extremely casual footwear…

Glad we cleared that up…

Youtube strikes again…

Truthfully I haven’t been inside a store since June…

Sometimes it’s best to leave those memories alone…

Non-meme inspiration moment of the week…

My latest book review will arrive on Thursday and I cannot stress how important the subject matter of the book really is. A Diary in the Age of Water takes a modern look at how we are losing some of our greatest ecological resources. For those who are passionate about sustainability – let’s face it, we all need to be – this book is a must read. I’ve never been one to preach about our planet on social media, but this reading experience really hit home for me.

Thanks for scrolling and peace out!

Weekly Writing Inspiration…

Because if I can do it, anyone can so how about some motivational propaganda to start the month of right! And let us start with some very wise words…

20200701_094731

Darke Blood got it’s latest review via Goodreads; this has been especially rewarding after new marketing idea!

Image

It’s a bargain, but I’m not so sure about the story….

Image

soshaldistancing

AMIRIGHT….

Shout out to S.D McKinley for this awesome review of Open Evening

OE review

Word of the month…

Image

And Finally, ‘Every Stephen King Book; even the ones that aren’t macabre or supernatural still finds a way to be depraved…’ 

Image

Have a good rest of the week, and have a good month! Rock and roll man…

Let’s talk about… Star Ratings

Book reviews. What do they really mean? Unlike most products out there, books aren’t reviewed for whether or not they function properly, books are reviewed through the opinion of a reader which is entirely different…

The word ‘subjective’ gets thrown around a lot in the literary world, Agents will cling to it when rejecting a query and many other reviewers will use it as an excuse to give good or even bad reviews of stories.

Above the sacred book review is an often overlooked factor of governance, the Star Rating which is the subject for discussion because on at least 3 platforms I know of in the book reviewing world, it differs..

Goodreads

Is Goodreads Free?

Goodreads (the Facebook of the Book world) takes their stance on the star rating system as follows…

More on caveats | lucinda sans

Now I’m pretty satisfied with most of their definitions and let’s face it, the only thing available to review on Goodreads is books so it’s pretty specifically set for them, that is until it comes down to the 2 star and below. To me 2 stars is less than OK for a book…

The truth is, I’ve never rated a book below 3 stars on any platform mainly due to the fact I just haven’t found a read like that yet; I am quite picky and know whether or not I am going to enjoy a book, so I see the star rating as a score out of 5 and anything below three isn’t a pass… (this is just my opinion folks)

Amazon

More Amazon delivery restrictions are coming | TechRadar

Amazon, arguably the most important place for authors to get reviews as it is where their work is sold exclusively from, like me. There appears to be a little difference between their rating and Goodreads, now Amazon have done the Amazon thing and I can’t find anywhere reputable throughout the Google that tells us straight up what each star in their rating system means. This could be because they don’t know, they don’t want us to know or maybe it’s a combo of both. So let us look to the 2 star review as an example:

beam me up

This ‘review’ is taken from my super hero comedy novella ‘The Teleporter’ and as you can see it’s not only a negative review but a DNF review also which is hardly in line with the Goodreads 2 star review of ‘It was OK’.

When comparing probably the two most important book reviewing platforms they contradict one another and that is without another major factor; personal preference which is what Mr Beam me up decided to do with his/her review because even if you put out guidelines, whether or not they will be followed is another thing and this reviewer didn’t then hop on over to Goodreads.

Reedsy Discovery

reedsy

You can expect my very first Reedsy Discovery review tomorrow and it’s a good one trust me! Now their rating system is strict compared to others. They feel that you don’t need to give every book a 5 star rating and of course save that for the truly exceptional reads.

1

2

3

4

5

As you can see from their emoji heavy rating system that it agrees with me in principle. Anything below 3 is a ‘not for me’ but this also makes things tricky going upwards because of their stance of 5 star reviews, one has to find a truly exceptional book to use that rating.

Personal Preference

I don’ think there is one true way to rate a book using the above platforms and their own star rating systems. They differ too much, even without us realising. A four star review from Goodreads could mean something entirely different on Amazon because of the personal preference of a reader or because the guidelines aren’t particularly clear.

Personally I might have been way to generous in the past but arguably the books I’ve read had an effect on me and motivated me to rate them the way I did. The journey these authors have taken me on has led to what I thought of them and I pride myself on the support I give. The 5 star rating I give might not be for a truly exceptional once in a lifetime story but for the effort they put in to write something, to do research or even help me escape this world for just a while.

Authors view reviews as gold dust or even currency these days and it’s big business trust me. If it wasn’t for reviewing books, this very blog would be a ghost town.

What do you think of the star rating system for books? 

Swimming in the sea of self published books…

With the emergence of self publishing or indie publishing the world isn’t short of books right now. Writers everywhere are all looking for the same thing and so the marketing techniques are quickly becoming tired.

The ‘Free to download’ promotion has a shelf life and if everyone is doing it then there’s no value to such a deal. Readers might even see more value in priced books and so the marketing situation spins.

The Boy On The Sea Of Books

Reviews don’t actually carry much value. I have a liberal amount and even with few reviews my books still sell as much as those with more reviews. Its all about reach.

I’ve been public with most of my marketing efforts but even major companies omit recipes or ingredients. So yes there are few cards I hold to my chest, this ain’t charity. you know…  Many writers come to me and my resource page. They use the info and move forward, sometimes rinsing and repeating. That’s fine for a time but everyone with content must find their own ways of reaching their own market eventually. Find your own tribe.

Much of my advice adopts a ‘help all’ style but this will only take one so far; trust me I’m the first to use this stuff so I know.

Finding new ways to create reach is called innovation. And in the social media world which is rammed full of writers all looking for the same thing it does feel like we are swimming in the sea of self published stuff. My marketing strategy has always remained for as long as I am an indie author and that is to focus on selling one book at a time to one person at at time.

Eventually some of those ones return for another book and another – my next pillar of marketing – create more content which is then galvanised by me being active in the writing arena by reviewing books and giving back. Those three marketing strategies may not sell large amounts of books but they sell a satisfying amount and the circle of books is complete in my eyes.

I read a lot because I want to be able to write well. Professional athletes probably watch their own sport as much as they play it -the ones who want to get better do anyway….

This is an eye of the beholder situation and always has been…. Don’t be disheartened for single figure sales, they all count.

Do you have any unique book selling ideas other than just making your book free to download? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weekly Ramble #69

From every shit-uation there are positives and good eventual outcomes. People have a lot more time now. The hustle and bustle of life’s busyness has slowed down and even I can feel people are taking their time to do things they didn’t before.

slales

These are the best sales I’ve ever had outside of Book promo

Book reviews are up. Book sales are up. And social media engagement is up. I’m even writing new stuff. I’ve always tried to justify my place in the arena with both books and a presence and it’s times of struggle like this that people look for reads and people who are carrying on in the face of adversity.

Writers and artists are needed even more so and while the social media socialite types who produce nothing are being starved out of attention, people are looking to genuine content creators and it gets no more genuine than a book or a blog.

We’ll look back on this time as one of invisible pressure and hardship. But take those away and you’ll find it was a period where we all had time to read that book, watch that show or paint that wall. 

All of a sudden this will be over and we’ll be back in the arms of friends, family and even co workers. We’ll forget what it truly means to be isolated and away from groups. We’re a herd species, until recently anyway.  The rat race will resume and it will all be forgotten. Humans have a fickle way of carrying on. Whether it comes from a vaccine or even medication, we’ll beat it, we’re too resilient not to I salute all of those carrying on in the face of this adversity – by carrying on I mean, writing a few words a day, speaking to friends over skype, cooking that meal, staying busy; we’ll get through, we always do!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weekly Ramble #59

I am fully immersed into book editing mode. Delving back into the pages and words I laid down nearly two years ago has lifted me. It’s surprising how well polished I left what I thought to be a first draft of ‘Darke Awakening’. Over the books and years my style of drafting has evolved into an edit and go process which pays off when you return to a project. 

This book will have it’s challenges but the most difficult part of the writing process has already been figured out. It’s a masterpiece, an intricate complicated shitstorm of fun intertwined with several story arcs combined to tell one great mess of a book which I personally adore. It may well be a tad ambitious but what I have edited so far has restored my faith in a story told over three books; Open Evening, Cemetery House and Darke Blood – three books readers must take on to enjoy this next one and hence the real challenge in all of this; marketing the whole thing.

Personally and it might sound indulgent and egotistical but I’ve said this before; I actually don’t care if people don’t like what I write, I do it for the story telling and not the reaction of mass audiences.

Yeah we get bruised as creators when someone gives us a scathing review but that isn’t why we are in this game. We do this because we want to create and to contribute towards art and literature. We do this because it fulfills us and shines a light into this dark void of life. Opinions and audiences are variable, the story we tell is the constant.

To reach the summit of those two sacred words ‘the end’ is to truly live as a writer. And to create something from the imagination entirely from scratch is to be free. All of us live to be free. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weekly Ramble #44

It’s taken every ounce of my writing strength to reach this moment. Those words, those two words only the real writers will ever know and feel. It’s removal but with satisfaction. It’s acceptance but regret knowing it probably isn’t the best you could do, but nonetheless the track is laid, the motions are in place and the draft is done. Everything else after is yet to come and this is truly the beginning.

The real hard part is done. Getting it out of the thought process and onto pages and into words. Although some elements remain incomplete I am without the strength to carry on. I’ve used it all up creating something only now I was totally ready for. I’ve been on this journey since I was twelve years old, I realized this dream at fifteen and at thirty I finished drafting it. My whole life, my whole purpose as a story teller is to tell one story, everything else is for that, to prepare myself as a writer, to learn my craft, to find my voice, all of it is for that story I first devised over half my life ago.

Dreams have that power, they drive our existence and go deeper than anyone could possibly imagine. They grow as you do, they fight with you and they fight for you. Dreams can be bold, they can be crazy, they can be absurd but they are ours, and nothing will ever take them from us. The characters in my head have carried my dreams with me for as long as I remember and soon, on the horizon compared to the road before me, they will appear for everyone else. I urge you all to dream on, you never know where it will take you…

Jack Thorn and the maverick prophecy is a story that will change science fiction. And I’ll prove a bunch of people wrong along the way… feel that fire inside me yet, its wholly and entirely mine, but you’re invited to help it burn too…