‘SurReality’ by Matt Doyle – Review

‘Everything that happens in SurReality is entirely real’

Clever and unique, ‘SurReality’ is a combination of speculative and addictive fiction that I read in just a couple of sittings.

This short read shares the same title as the smash reality TV show it is about focusing on the paranormal and urban legends. After experiencing a sharp rise to fame with online viewers after their 2015 Christmas special turns gruesome, the story follows the fallout and subsequent reaction through the mode of transcripts, blog posts and news articles giving it a unique but modern Dracula-esque touch.

With one host missing and a lot of chatter online, this is modern look at how a TV show tries to live off the ‘reality’ of certain events whilst capturing the imagination in a unique way. Sometimes shorter reads are all you need to pique our interest and imagination, ‘SurReality’ is a perfect example of that. Great cover also!

5 Stars

The Story Wars YouTube Channel has Launched!

The greatest writers from around the world are gathering virtually in front of live audiences to tell true stories from their real lives

And now you can watch/listen to these stories as Story Wars now has a on official YouTube Channel.

Check it out via the link here where you can listen to me talking about my disaster story and you can also listen to the first winning story by Roni Keller.

Click Subscribe for more updates and for information on how to participate in Story Wars, check out the site here.

Awesome Recommended Indie Reads #9

The road to reviewing indie books continues and so here are some of my recent reads, all of which I recommend!

‘A Stranger From the Storm’ by William Burton McCormick

Brilliant fun – a historical mystery with plenty of atmosphere

Full Review

‘Witch in the Lighthouse’ by Azalea Forrest

A quaint and fun magical tale…

Full Review

‘The View From Here’ by Leon Stevens

An exploration themed sci-fi novella not of this world…

Full Review

‘The Caverns’ by Olen Crowe

In The Caverns an ancient evil lurks…

Full Review

‘Red on White’ by J.P Biddlecome

‘The Wolves came, rising from the waves…’

Full Review

And so that wraps up another edition of Awesome Recommended Indie Reads. Keep reading and keep reviewing!

‘A Still Life’ by Elliott Wink – Review

Short and intriguing, an original sci-fi tale perfect for reading in one sitting…

I read this intriguing sci-fi novelette in just one sitting and very much enjoyed the concept. Narrator and receptionist android ‘Addie’ has worked in a hotel for many years and its a place that has seemingly passed by from near enough all human contact, in fact, there hasn’t been a guest for a long time. Is the place closed or is there something else sinister at play here?

Whilst the guests may have left years ago, the hotel staff of two continue their tasks even if it appears they have been forgotten although we are never really given any finer details and this is just one of concepts that feeds the readers imagination. We see snippets of ‘Addie’s’ past and how her near human make-up has provided an almost existential conundrum that results in questioning her very own existence. Perhaps all she wants to be is human and have a purpose, this story does a fantastic job of exploring what its like to be alone whilst not fully understanding who you are. Very enjoyable.

5 Stars

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!

Weekly Ramble #139

The truth is and this might not be a revelation, I’m constantly busy with something. Whether it is blogging or writing, social media or day job stuff, there is always an abundance on my to-do list. I’ve partially concluded that I might only be able to function effectively as a busy person which is great, but that also means I cannot stop…

On my usual social media scrolling travels I often see writers who are in the querying trenches. It seems to be a borderline obsession for some and that finding an agent or publisher is the only route to success in writing. While I applaud and admire anyone taking the dive into querying their work, I am simply too busy to be doing that. Especially when there isn’t a guarantee of an actual end result. I could be waiting half a year for a response and so everything I am busy with, ends with an actual result. From social media posting to writing on this blog, I’m getting sales and I’m getting views. Although slowly, things are moving in the right direction which is all governed by me doing the work.

This week I reached out to my following to offer Twitter coaching, a new venture and also something I have built a lot of specialist knowledge with. Just by looking at a fellow Tweeters profile page I can tell what they need to do in order to get more traction on the platform. While my guides have all tried to capture mass appeal, I think I would be way more effective on an individual basis. Of course, new ventures always start slowly, but for this one, I am optimistic.

‘The Art of Reading: How Reading Can Help You Become a Better, More Productive Writer’ by J.D. Cunegan – Review

A relatable and open guide about reading to improve your writing…

J.D. Cungean presents a relatable and open guide about how reading and the wider realm of consuming stories in various mediums has shaped his own creativity over the years. Using an approachable conversational style, the case for reading more to become a better writer as mentioned in the subtitle is presented using the vast experiences Cunegan has while also being aware that not one thing works for everyone – any level of opinion here is provided with care and appreciation for the reader. I found the majority of this book relatable and even reassuring, as a writer who believes reading is fundamental to the craft of writing and sometimes we have to do all we can to expand our ability and find inspiration – this books tells you where it can possibly be found.

“Inspiration can strike in an instant or over the course of several years, it inevitably changes the entire complexion of your life…”

Of course reading fiction is just one aspect explored in this guide as tributes are made for many forms that one can consume stories or writing to improve including comic books, television and even musicals. In a world where solid advice is mostly subjective in writing, this book does a good job of laying out as many ways a writer could improve their craft by consuming the various mediums of reading. For anyone looking for more ideas on where to find inspiration for their own writing, this is a great place to start.

4 Stars – Reviews left via Goodreads and Amazon

50,000 Views Special

The thing about being busy is that some milestones tend to creep up on you and yesterday the notification came through saying this blog had reached 50,000 views. Let me take this opportunity to thank every single visitor to this site who makes up that number. To be read in a world where everyone online is trying to get exactly that, this is a pretty awesome feeling. This post is dedicated to looking at some fun statistics from the 9 years Lee’s Hall of Information has been operational, you’ll even find a few tips also.

So let us take a look at the individual monthly numbers first. As you can see things started rising at around the midway point of 2018 which was an important year. A year that I began reviewing indie books and released my 3rd and then 4th book

You can see the highest views came last year in March, April and May – this coincided with the pre-order run and then release of my author/blogger/ social media guide Consistent Creative Content.

Tip for authors: When releasing a book, every element of promotion should be at the maximum running up to release. For this case, my social media and blogging endeavors were and in May I hit 10k Twitter follows.

If we dive a little deeper into the individual years you can see more views appeared as I created more blog posts.

You can also see that comments and likes increased with that content. It seems the more you put in eventually the more you get back.

So where did the majority of my all time views come from. Here are the top 10 nations:

Of course there are numerous other places where my readers come from so wherever you are in this world, thank you!

2021 was the best year yet and so where did most of the reader traffic get referred from?

Twitter makes sense as I spend the majority of my social media time there although it is still a challenge to get link clicks on the platform so how did I get so many?

Twitter link tip: Instead of sharing a link in a tweet either drop it in the reply below or just tell your following to click on the link in your bio (you’ll need to put a link in your bio for them to click on). I’ve been doing this for the majority of last year it has got me nearly 6,000 clicks.

And lets take a look at what you guys have been reading. These are some of my most popular posts of 2021:

You can find some of these things over in the Resources section or just search for them via the search bar which should be to the right or below somewhere depending on your browser. Evergreen is the key word when it comes to these posts – basically stuff that can be shared again and again and have appeal over the long term. The top 3 in particular are very much in that category.

Blogging Tip: Most of these posts were published some months ago and have gained more reads by being shared several times across platforms. It’s okay to share older stuff to newer audiences, especially if you have a following which has grown.

50,000 all time views is an incredible milestone and I hope you enjoyed this post. This Hall of Information blog has become my internet home as a creator and you are all welcome anytime! Peace out, rock and roll and blogging man!

Every Book I have read in 2021 Pt1

2021 has been a year of variety in terms of reads for me. 43 in total and all of them indie or self published. I’m a big believer of supporting the industry that I’m apart of and so here is a break down of the first 21 books I read and reviewed in 2021…

‘Civil Blood: The Vampire Rights Case That Changed a Nation’ by Chris Hepler

An alternative but realistic take on vampires with sharp political and biological edges…

4 Stars Full Review

‘The Word of the Rock God’ by Brooklynn Dean

An intimately descriptive fable that merges rock and roll with a powerful message…

5 Stars Full Review

‘Husband for Rent’ by Kristina Gallo

A tale full of twisting suspense about those on the fringes of society…

4 Stars Full Review

‘Deadly Odds’ by Allen Wyler

He’s in deep with the big fishes and the odds are hardly in his favour…

4 Stars Full Review

‘Moojag and the Auticode Secret’ by N.E. McMorran

Colourful and imaginative with a positive message about being different…

5 Stars Full Review

‘Snag’ by Dylan Burroughs

A well-paced horror that puts story first and the finer details perhaps second…

3 Stars Full Review

‘From Voiceless to Vocal’ by Danielle Larsen

Candid, brave and ultimately inspirational…

5 Stars Full Review

‘Judd’ by J.D Toombs and Erika Schulze

A ‘high school for heroes’ tale about the power of accepting who you are paired with some unique world building…

4 Stars Full Review

‘Deification’ by Brooklynn Dean

The intimate description and deep prose will consume you long before the apocalypse…

5 Stars Full Review

‘Raven Woman’s Tavern’ by Laura Koerber

There were many things the people of Warrentown didn’t know about Raven…”

4 Stars Full Review

‘Pestilence’ by Susie Kearley

A well-thought-out pacey tale of the times from a promising British author…

5 Stars Full Review

‘Sex, Violence, Mars’ by Walrus

A short but fun sci-fi story with great world building, action and some laughs…

4 Stars Full Review

‘Nocturnal Salvation’ by Villimey Mist

The Nocturnal series has returned and is better than ever…

5 Stars Full Review

‘Don’t Lose Your Head’ by Dave Williams

A twisted, haunting and enjoyable read that dives deep into the shadowy depths of one man’s mind…

5 Stars Full Review

‘Hearts and Spears’ by Somto Jefferson Uwazie

A unique and thought provoking collection of emotion-resonating poetry…

5 Stars Full Review

‘Operation: Palmetto’ by R.T. Breach

The chase is on for one man on a mission to prove his worth and the stakes are high…

3 Stars Full Review

‘Josef The Writer’s Cat’ by Ellen Khodakivska

A heart-warming and fun story told from a unique perspective…

5 Stars Full Review

‘Life of Maggot’ by Paul Jameson

A masterfully written vision and song about the end of time…

5 Stars Full Review

‘King of the Wicked’ by T.R. Hamby

An immersive imaginative take on Angels, humanity and immortality…

5 Stars Full Review

‘Born in Stockport – Grew up in the Royal Navy: Book One’ by Maurice Perkins

An entertaining and gritty series of real life tales told with charm…

4 Stars Full Review

‘ARIA: Book 1 of the Scintillance Theory’ by Gyorgy Henyei Neto

Immersive science fiction with some mystery and time travel elements…

4 Stars Full Review

And so that wraps up part 1. You can read part 2 here! Thanks for reading and make sure you check out some of these awesome books. Remember to leave a review if you buy any! Peace out readers.

Sharing Recent Reviews: September 2021

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!