September is always a marquee month on my author calendar. Its normally the time I realise the year is kind of slipping away whilst also being the anniversary of being published.
Open Evening turns 6 this year and the day before that milestone it will hopefully be elevated to a BookBub size audience as it will be featured by them on that exact day. It can be funny and strange how things work out because there I was looking to launch Book 8 this month quietly with a view to promote later and the advertising deal of my career literally lands in my lap.
Darke Apocalypse has the potential now to be my most successful launch ever as it will be most likely riding the coattails of Open Evening’s Featured Deal just days after. Its part fate, part right time part probably luck but I have always somehow managed to position myself for the right amount of shine.
For all the wonderful things this journey has brought me, the best is probably yet to come.
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.
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…
For the first time ever all 7 of my books are being price promoted simultaneously to celebrate the 5th anniversary of Open Evening being published.
Without my debut novel nothing else would have followed and seeing as I have a plethora of books, they are all discounted except for Open Evening which is FREE to download today only!
Some thoughts, details and links are below. As always thank you for the continued support of your local neighbourhood indie author!
It’s kind of scary how time flies when your busy and trying to get the world to read your words and somehow it has been 5 years since my publishing journey began. Those who have been around a while will know in 2015 I basically started again with a project based partly on a bad dream and mostly on my own high school days of struggle. Add a little creature feature horror, scratch that, a lot of creature feature horror and somehow Open Evening was born. Originally taken from six sides of lined paper full of scratchy writing after my fourteen year old self tried to recollect the events of that bad dream, I somehow fashioned it years later, into a fully fledged book that probably means the most in all of my works.
Before Open Evening released in 2016. I kind of got caught up in the whole querying thing with sub-par science fiction that wasn’t ready and in truth I wasn’t ready so starting again paved the way to where I am now. Someday you might see that science fiction which has grown with me and I have a huge amount of books to offer the world but until then enjoy the ones I have available.
Some of the books on my shelf may be different in comparison but for today they are all the same price.
The Ghost Beside Me is a paranormal romance about an introvert who struggles with loneliness until something not of this mortal world tries to reach out. Based partly on my own paranormal experiences and a ghost story my late Grandfather told me its a short but powerful read. Perfect for the coming spooky season of Halloween and beyond.
The Teleporter, many of you will already know and this book has become my most successful title this year. With over 160 Amazon ratings in six months I think I can class it as a hit. Kurt Wiseman is a mid-twenties slouch who is suddenly thrown into his own super hero tale and has to make a choice in order to save the day. Full of comedic wit and fourth wall breaking fun, it is bound to make you laugh at some point.
Consistent Creative Contentis basically the culmination of my journey as an author, blogger and social media personality. Part-memoir part-guide, this book is designed to show you what I’ve done to find success that I am happy with and how you can do that too. Follow my words.
Of course Open Evening is just the start of a wider series known as the Order of the Following. Every other book in that series is discounted for today!
For me today is all about giving and as someone with something to give, well here I am. You’ll find all 6 of my books available to download for Free today via Amazon. Consider it my gift to anyone who needs a read or an escape over the holidays and beyond. These are unprecedented times and this is an unprecedented year so it calls for things like this. I offer you my entire backlist just for today kind reader. This is an offer that may never happen again. Strange times indeed.
In the spirit of the season I wish you a safe Christmas wherever you may be. Those who take any of my books today, enjoy them, they embody everything I’ve ever had to say in this strange world and life. They wholeheartedly describe everything I am more than I ever could personally and for that they are worth the time.
Looking back at my debut novel these past few days has presented a range of emotions. From cringe to admiration all the way to evolution. Like all art it captures a moment in time and also accurately relays the creators frame of mind and their ability in such a moment. It might not read as fluidly as my more recent works and I’ll admit it’s got all the usual ‘debuty’ attributes of an author figuring out their words but that story even now is solid as a rock. Back then I had that same fire I still haveonly now it burns brighter.
For what once stood as 6 lined pages of scratchy writing telling a story based on a dream I had way back when I was 14, Open Evening became my entrance into everything that stands today. I sometimes forget the before, we all do while striving for a better future.
Just what business do I have going back to revisit old works? This time of the year I always update the URL’s and links in all my works but this time I thought I would give Open Evening a little polish. Now when something is released into the world of publishing it kind of no longer belongs to the creator but the wonder of modern publishing allows some licence to improve existing works. Truthfully my writing style back then (2015) seems so far removed from my standard today and I guess above all that’s a wonderful sign of progress. You can trace my evolution as a story teller chronologically in all of my works which is voyage of discovery in it’s own right. These books will be around for a lot longer than me and the hope is perhaps some day someone follows that evolution as a reader. That paper trail I leave behind will hopefully represent me more than personality ever could. Maybe that’s how our legends are built.
TODAY ONLY MY DEBUT NOVEL IS AVAILABLE ACROSS THE WORLD FOR FREE!
Open Evening is a fast paced thrilling tale of survival that will see you wanting more!
‘Luke Hartford struggles to fit in at high school and we all know how hard that can be. After a vivid dream shit really hits the fan and it’s no longer about fitting in, it’s about staying alive because his horrific vision comes to life…’
What are readers saying about Open Evening?
“Here we have non-stop action with an unlikely band of characters, there are seriously high stakes with times where I was kept on the edge of my seat. This definitely exceeded my expectations, it’s so addictive…”
“Once the action kicks off it continues until the very end. There are tantalising backstories teased at for some of the characters. There is more going on than we truly understand. But what we do see is our motley crew stepping up to the plate, and shaping up to become just the people needed to try to save the town. The big question is, can they? And can they survive becoming heroes??”
The editing process of book number 6 has gone well. ‘Darke Awakening’ is a bold and somewhat incredible feat – if I’m allowed to say so. The work we do must give us some sense of pride and as I reached the summit of what was a second draft, I feel a little more relaxed about it.
When it comes to my own stuff, my main concerns when penning any story are:
1. Is this thing going to work?
2. How the hell am I going to market it?
Luckily when I drafted ‘Darke 2’ I put in a huge amount of effort in answering question 1. First drafts serve that purpose and now comes the probable difficulty in all of this – getting people to read it!
My marketing endeavours have historically worked to an extent and this time around I shall be looking at previous methods while also trying to find new ones. My audience is in a constant state of gradual growth which helps immensely.
Those in the loop will realise I have subtly prefixed ‘The Order of the Following’ on the end of Open Evening, Cemetery House and Darke Blood’s amazon page titles. And in order for Darke Awakening to be fully appreciated they need to be read first as it is all linked together in what is an ambitious crossover. You can expect to hear more about ‘The Order’ soon.
The hardest challenge an indie author faces is brand awareness and distribution. Translation- telling people your works exist and that they have appeal. That’s what I shall be doing in the coming months so watch this space!
For a while I can let it sit and go back to reading some awesome indie books. My current read is a book called ‘NightJar’ – its a wonderful foray into the English language, I urge you to check it out.
Those of the author persuasion how do you tell people about your works?
Halloween approaches, the leaves have turned and the temperature has began to recede. While the shadows do their best to cast over everything it’s time to embrace the season and the unexpected because both Open Evening and it’s sequel Cemetery House are free to download today and tomorrow only! (this is a one off deal)
Every published author has that book which broke them into the world of story telling and Open Evening is that for me. It’s a story in which I am immensely proud of and I pretty much got to work on making a sequel for straight after; that was after penning Darke Blood which happens to be set in the same world now known as the ‘Order of the Following’.
There are going to be more books based on these stories coming soon!
So what are they about?
Open Evening and Cemetery House are two fast paced reads of the unexpected and survival. They are about so much more than the horror that is on the surface; they highlight the social struggle of growing up along with what it’s really like to go through high school. As much as there is terror and action, they are stories of friendship, coming of age and above all life. Much of the stuff in this book represents the years I spent at school – so it’s real to an extent.
Its ‘Alien’ meets ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ ‘Final Destination’ and ‘Blade’ all wrapped up in some Halloween spookyness!
A recent review of Open Evening:
“If you ever found secondary school hard, then you’ll be able to relate to the main character. If you loved Buffy the vampire slayer, then you’ll love this book…”
Cemetery House then picks up literally three weeks after the events Open Evening. High School is over and those who survived have moved into the world of work while something else lurks just underneath the surface. Not only is this a sequel but in this one you get answers and the rabbit hole goes deeper into this world which will then lead into the Darke Blood sequel!
‘CH’ is ‘Jurassic Park’ meets ‘House on Haunted Hill’ while continuing on from Open Evening.
I’ve reached 2000 tweet machine follows folks! To celebrate I am giving away all 4 of my books!
Details are below. To enter head on over to my Twitter or check out the side bar >>> where you will find the promo tweet!
FREE BOOK GIVEAWAY! Celebrating 2K Twitter followers!
3 Prizes available
1. Open Evening & Cemetery House
2. Darke Blood
3. The Teleporter
All paperback copies will be signed. Entrants must provide mailing address.
To enter: RT, like and comment on this post and follow me (I’ll follow back)
The 3 Winners will be contacted this Friday the 21st of June 2019
Thank you followers old and new for helping me reach the 2000 milestone! In return I am running my biggest book giveaway ever!
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