Are Writer’s lifts worth it?

It’s a polarising subject amongst many writer folks over on the Tweet machine but are the various lifts and self promo posts worth it? Are you going to jump on board the follow train or are you a soloist? That’s what this entry looks to explore so let’s get into it….

What exactly is a writers lift?

Well, in simple terms, a writer/creator will put up a post on Twitter asking other writers and those in the community to share their links or profiles to accumulate more followers with a view to generally boost their presence on the platform. Using the right hashtags might get a huge number of engagements and I suppose this is what the whole deal is about – getting more follows or engagement or even both. Some follow trains can grow semi out of control with a deluge of fellow wordsmiths looking for follows and numbers as opposed to actual engagement so is the concept of a lift just an empty attempt to gain?

And most importantly (for some) does it work?

Many writers and twitter users straight up refuse to take part in lifts and self promo tweets as they believe it just results in empty follows and temporary engagement. To them it appears to be a waste of time and lets face it, procrastination is the demon that comes in many forms. They also tend to clog up feeds and some folks just get sick and tired of seeing them time after time. Me; I’ve put that hashtag on mute a few times just to see more variety in my feed.

The big questions…

What’s the point in just having only writers in my following?

How am I going to sell to people outside that circle if there is nobody other than writers following me?

They are both great and logical questions but my response is simply those who refute lifts and self promo tweets just haven’t used them in the right way to get the right engagement. The ‘right engagement’ is what makes the whole social media success thing tick. Good engagement is also a wholesome nice feeling. Good and right engagement will eventually drive book sales – why? Because the that type of engagement has resulted in plenty of other authors getting those sales including me. Let’s break that down with a worked example.

Worked example – the centrifugal author force carousel analogy!

An author on Twitter who regularly does the self promo Saturday post has a book coming out soon. Their following has increased because of regular lifts but not everyday – this author uses moderation and knows their following/audience. This person always return follows and so therefore have retained most of them.

They decide to put that new book on pre order, it’s stand alone and the genre has a broad appeal.

Because this author does regular promo posts and also engages with fellow authors, they become well known in the community as a supporter of fellow authors. Their renown is what will sell above anything. People choose to invest in a person long before their book.

Some authors agree to help that author or pay them back by pre ordering the new release.

The centrifuge begins to turn – that being authors hopping on the carousel of support for one another , this carousel begins to spin faster accumulating more authors who jump on also and pre order the book. Everyone at this point who is engaging right will be getting more followers. The whole deal starts to gather speed and follows.

By the time the book is released, the pre order numbers help it climb the amazon charts where it could hit ‘best seller’ status where a host of non writer people see it and eventually buy it, hence jumping on the carousel also. This centrifugal force started with lifts and promos from an author, then got fuelled by authors with the final resultant being non authors buying a book.

Of course this analogy uses the concept of centrifugal force which is something that is designed to separate things, so eventually the authors who pre ordered separate from the non writer buyers who may possibly come back to buy another title. Fellow writers have played their part and helped another in need. The concept kind of relies on all of us helping one another for it to work… those who refute lifts are just looking at it from just their own benefit…

The big picture is here that if authors work together at the initial stage of a book release that work will eventually break a book past the stratosphere and out into the depths of space where many a meteorite lurk (regular readers). All of this big picture beginning with lifts.

My own case study…

You can probably gauge that I’m in favour of lifts and promo post on twitter but let’s back that up with some actual truth. Back in 2018 I really didn’t have much of a clue about engagement until I stumbled into putting a post up on twitter asking the wider community for book recommendations – this was just when I had started to review indie books on here and I needed books to read. The response was in the thousands… That night I re installed the twitter app on my phone and got to work adding books to my list. In 2019 I reviewed 40 books from that tweet I put out. The numbers for my blog alone rocketed which you can see below… those results came from a lift post! There are authors from that post whom I still connect with today and regularly engage with. They make my social media experience just about bearable sometimes…

The sceptics or yet to do it properly types…

Those who are sceptical and straight up dismissive of lifts and promo tweets probably haven’t used them in the right way. They most probably see this through the eyes of ‘how can this help me’. It can help you but only if you first help others, give it a go and remember the big picture. The only way to find any success as an author on social media is to engage and not be an island. This isn’t just all about the individual getting sales, I mean I didn’t think many of us were in this for the money or sales but instead we’re in this to get better and connect. The word social in social media is there for a reason, go be social and share your links, engage in lifts, follow back, retweet others’ pinned tweets and even do your own lifts. Lean into it and you will be rewarded. Authors together are one hell of a force. Since early August I have gained nearly 600 followers on twitter by doing self promo Saturdays.

But how?

The whole lifts and promo tweet thing is just one slice of the cake. Following through will lead to the right engagement. Take someone’s book that appeals to you from a lift and buy it. Write a review and blog about it. Not only have you read a book, but you have material to blog with and an opportunity to connect further with an author who will appreciate your genuine engagement. You might even make a friend and then repeat the process. That’s what I’ve done over the years to moderate success. As mostly small time authors we are in the business of trying to get anything over zero and lifts might just lead to those book sales even if it is one or two.

It’s an opportunty to vent…

Constantly sharing the link to your books on your own feed doesn’t work. It might take you a while to realise that but as a rule these days I don’t generally share the link to my books on social media on my own feed. Writers lifts and promo posts are a great way to do that instead, so let that urge to share build up and vent it on those lifts!

External intruders

More recently the twitter beginner who may not even be an author or blogger has realised these lifts are a great way of getting engagement. They will normally and emptily tweet ‘any book recommendations’ knowing desperate authors will share their link hoping it drives sales – it normally doesn’t and these intruders are trying to take advantage of that to boost followers. Not only does this put genuine folks into disrepute but it cheapens the whole deal. Luckily you can see them from a mile off and my advice, don’t engage, save the lifts for the real writers.

Concluding thoughts

I used to be a writers lifts sceptic until I tried it and now most Saturdays I will run one. The detail is key in any post, I normally include a promise to follow folks back and RT pinned tweets. Offering an engagement incentive is a great way to get some results along with the right hashtags. Here’s my most recent one as an example.

And here are the results after 24 hours…

Final final thoughts…

Lifts and promo posts are worth it, but moderation is key along follow up engagement. At the end of the day it’s all about what your intentions are? Genuine engagement will win the day! This may have appeared to be an investigation post on the surface but it sides with doing lifts because they can be very beneficial.

What are your thoughts on writers lifts?

Book Promotion Results September 2020 Pt2 – ‘This time it’s literal….’

Ah promoting the books, I’ve done this a lot recently and we’re back again to share methods, results and all things about the promotion of books. This is also a sequel to another post I put out at the start of the month and this time it’s literal…let’s dive in!

The aim of this post/who is this for…

The main aim of this post is to share results of a recent book promo run by informing other authors how I did it. This is with a hope they can use this info to sell some books. Much of this stuff can be applied to books that are stand alone, series, fiction or non and for all authors of every level – the self help guide book is coming next year… For those not interested in the full detail or a recap from last time just skip down to the actual start of this post…

Previously…

To set the scene, at the beginning of this month I promoted the e version of my thriller/horror ‘Cemetery House’ by making it available for free via Amazon. My main aim consisted of two objectives in this promo run:

1. To get as many free downloads for the book as possible + some discounted sales after.

2. To promote the wider ‘Order of the Following Series‘ it is a part of. The next book in this series (Darke Awakening) drops at the end of this month.

The results of this promo run were unexpected and again quite good. While I have shared the results in the previous post the numbers have gotten a little better since.

A good promo run will give books long term visibility after and drive sales, sometimes these sales come days or weeks later.

As you can see the initial numbers were good…

Updated numbers from part 1…

Free downloads of ‘Cemetery House’ during this run

1,838

Sales of ‘Cemetery House’ after the run @ 99 cents:

6

Sales of other books in the series during and after the run

62

Sales of other books in my backlist

3

Part 2 actually starts here…

Okay so part 2 and book promo run 2 of September 2020 would see the overall aim widen slightly, and with all book promotion runs it’s important to set out a clear aim from the start. Lessons from promo 1 meant that we know when advertising a book that is part of a series, the other books in that series will probably sell also. This time around, the newest book in the series set for release at the month’s end was also available for pre order.

Aims of this promo

The aims of this promo were as follows:

1. To get as many free downloads for ‘Darke Blood’ a vampire occult thriller which is part of the wider Order of the Following series.

It’s not free currently, this is here just to display the banner I used…

2. To get as many sales for other books in the series which are discounted @ 99 cents or equivalent in major Amazon markets.

3. To drive attention towards the next book in the series ‘Darke Awakening’ which is also a direct sequel to the book being promoted for free and will be available to pre order at the time of promo and the hope is to actually get some pre orders.

Strategy – how was I going to do it?

Like the previous promo this book would also be available for free through two days but this time on a Friday and Saturday (18th and 19th of September). My choice to use Saturday was to coincide the promo with Twitter’s #Shamelessselfpromosaturday which in recent times has driven a lot more traffic and attention to my posts. The writing community of twitter is something you should plug into, especially for promotion and engaging with other like minded writers. My following is above 4k and so this works as a good free boost. You can see the results and what that tweet looks like below.

Of course one method of social media is not enough to amplify my voice to tell the world this book is out there and free so I would also put out a post on my Facebook page to 500 likers and a blog post to nearly 500 followers on the 2nd day.

He’ still in pain, like most authors

My main point of attack in this promo would be as usual to use a range of paid and free book promotion websites that advertise a book using extensive mailing lists and their own sites to reach readers.

Results

Lets look at how it went, then I can share which promo sites I used and what factors of success were…

Day 1

Darke Blood reached #3 in the Amazon UK Occult chart.

Day 2

Darke Blood reached #1 in the Amazon US Folk tales/ Myth collections chart.

Day 3

6 of the ‘Darke Blood’ sales on this day were free downloads that overlapped while 6 were sales at 99 cents.

The best moment of Day 3 was a single pre-order came through for ‘Darke Awakening’ which means that all three aims were now ticked.

Analysis/Factors of success

This was a decent promotional run with exceptional sales of other books in the series most of which were from the US. There was a time when I had only sold 13 or so books in the US and now that figure has been blown wide open. To get a pre order for a brand new release is also huge, although it’s only 1, it’s better than zero!

Factor 1

A huge factor in getting all of these sales and the pre order is listing the books in a series together via Amazon. This boosts visibility big time, especially when one of them is free!

Sub Factor of Factor 1

Just before the promo I did a little sneaky and amended the blurb of ‘Darke Blood’ on Amazon…. This is what I put before the blurb…

Coming September 30th – the next book in the Order of the Following Series – ‘Darke Awakening’ Pre Order Available Now!

Factor 2

At the time of the promotion the 3 books in the series had reviews/ratings in the two major Amazon territories (UK and US). Established books with some reviews always do well when given away for free and those that weren’t free had a good amount of reviews also which helped. Reviews and ratings are useful for selling books as they tell a reader how good/bad a book can be. Getting reviews takes time and so do numbers like this…

This is a stock image, not from my books….

Factor 3

Price is a huge factor in this whole deal and I’m not just referring to everyone liking a freebie. The two other books are both priced at 99 cents or equivalent and this helped, perhaps if they were priced higher they would have been downloaded less.

Factor 4

The promo of ‘Cemetery House’ which was covered in part 1 resulted in 4 new ratings on Amazon soon after which directly effected the decent sales of it during this run. This is proof that one promo run can help another.

Geographical Factor

For this promo I used a few sites that are UK based and this directly drove more sales in that territory.

Basic factors

Great looking professional book covers, investing money and a social media following are all factors that help books get sold. These days I also use book banners which I made myself but for a little money you can probably get some made professionally and they are a nice little touch.

Final Figures

As you can see the two free promos side by side. The first one was indeed more successful and the top factor for that was labour day weekend in the US – people were looking to probably enjoy their weekend with a book or two.

The graphic below with free sales removed looks all the more impressive. Not only does it show paid sales after and during the promo but to date this is the best month of sales I have ever had in nearly 5 years of being published. Context: Upon release of Book 1 ‘Open Evening’ it sold 41 copies in the first month…

Book Promo sites

This whole deal sits on the shoulders of paid advertising and book promotion sites who help amplify that voice so folks can hear you shouting about your work. These are the ones I used:

Bookbongo – Cost $5

Ebook Booster – Cost $20

Bookrunes Cost – $25

Freebooksy (Thriller promo) – Cost $40

Bookzio – FREE

Book Hippo – FREE

Book angel – FREE

As you can see I invested less money for this promo which may have effected it’s overall success but I’m only willing to spend so much..

Final thought

Traction takes time when it comes to books. Over the years I’ve learned a bunch and partially mastered all of the factors that go into selling them. I still firmly believe the best way to market and sell a book is to write another and another until you have a backlist, so keep going writers! Whether or not a book is part of a wider series doesn’t seem to matter.

Getting that one pre order made the whole thing a little sweeter, selling a brand new title is hard especially when it’s the 4th book in a series but the launch is hopefully bolstered by that handful of pre orders. The purpose of this promo was to help establish more readers for that series, did we accomplish that? Time will only tell…

Thanks for taking the time to read, I hope you got something out of this post that will help your writing and book promotion journey. Peace out!

Fly Fearless & Fear Less: Eliminate your Fear of Flying with Knowledge! By Peter Brandt – Review

A concise, insightful and reassuring read that’ll help you cope with the irrational fear of flying…

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Peter Brandt has compiled an easy to read book that aims to reassure anyone with fear related reservations about flying with knowledge and facts. Many of us fear the unknown or what we don’t understand and even things that we cannot control – all of which fall under the fear of flying umbrella and as someone who personally doesn’t particularly enjoy flying this book has helped quell those feelings.

The bigger picture is mentioned at the start, that being this world is worth exploring and seeing, a fear of flying shouldn’t stand in the way. What follows are concise and to the point chapters that explain everything that is to explain about flying from the basic science and anatomy of aircraft to the subjects that might cause some unease to the nervous passenger. There are tips and small details throughout that make the whole narration feel calm and reassuring whether it be about turbulence, tips on where to sit in order to avoid noise or to get a smoother ride, what those noises could be, the engines and how they work, loss of power and the wider power systems, cabin crew and their responsibility, pressurisation of the cabin, air traffic control and even the anatomy of that window you’ll sit next to.

All of the subjects are delivered like a text book that anyone could pick up and read. This is the type of read that’ll serve as a resource time and time again for anyone who faces any anxiety. There were even some facts that I didn’t know about modern aircraft which adds to the concept of fighting fear through knowledge. Throughout Peter Brandt draws his knowledge from extensive experience in the aviation industry while also delivering many of the explanations through images and easy to follow diagrams along with quoting fellow professionals experienced in flying. I particularly appreciated and enjoyed the tips section nearer the end that focuses on a breadth of flying subject matter all of which looks to help anyone fight their fear of flying.

‘Be a pioneer. See the world and leave your worries behind’

4 Stars – this review first premiered via Reedsy discovery.

A guide to getting published: Part 1

Hello friends, today’s post is a re blog all the way back from 2017 although it’s still very relevant today. As I continue to research and put together a blogging and authoring guide book, this is just a snippet of what you can expect for bloggers and authors of all levels….

Lee's Hall of information

Very recently I was asked in person about my experiences of being a published author. What does it take to reach that moment of holding your own book in your hands?

How do you go from imagination and thought harnessing all the way to print?

Thinking about it, if we can go deep only for a few reflective moments and if I were to turn around and look at the road that lays behind me. Just beyond that moonlit horizon is a whole series of stories and experiences that made up my official journey to publication.

This series of posts is a guide of how I did it, what I learned, what went well, what didn’t and above all and like everything in the world of ‘publishing’ it’s subjective towards the beholder. By that I mean there is more than one way to get ‘published’ and be ‘successful’. There are…

View original post 1,234 more words

Weekly Ramble #79

The decision to carry on through whatever this year has thrown me is shaping up to be the best thing I’ve ever done in both authoring and blogging. 

During March and even April, things weren’t easy for any of us, and that’s still the case now. There’s uncertainty, anxiety and a boat load of crap that’s the resultant of these times. I’ve been extremely fortunate in being able to have a choice to carry on. Not only has this become my best coping strategy for what is happening, it’s started to yield rewarding results. 

There’s a story in everyone’s individual journey and mine is no different to anyone working their way through life, trying to figure things out. Considering the continuous ‘successful’ numbers this blog has experienced along with actual book sales, I’ve turned around recently and realized that road behind me is full of detailed lessons in how I got to today.

Combined with the interactions I’ve had recently with fellow peers in this writing community, this journey seems to be getting better and better. Without realizing; my quest to discover new books and authors has earned me a word I would never imagine anyone using to describe me or my efforts; respect. 

This has become a real pinnacle moment or even an epiphany, because when I first started out and all the way to now, its confirmation that this journey has been worthwhile and perhaps that’s worth more than anything else. While I began this journey of writing books and trying to get them read – it’s the everything else that happened which became the true moral of it all. 

I’ve always written books for me; first and foremost. But now, I know I write this blog for you. These two philosophy’s go hand in hand. Over the many years, I’ve learned a hell of a lot. And now I have the numbers, figures, sales, follows or whatever you want to measure that with, to prove it all works.

The light bulb moment appeared last week when of course like usual an idle writers mind is a dangerous thing. Now I am over 10,000 words into a guide book of all the lesson’s I’ve learned over the years to get to here. It’s part biography and part self help guide with a hope it isn’t too self indulgent. It won’t be for everyone. And already I’ve poured out part of my story which is full of struggle and triumph. As I said there’s a story in everyone’s individual journey and if I can relay mine in a way that helps just one other person, I would have succeeded.

It’s still in the very early stages, but you can expect this guide book to authoring and blogging in the social media age to arrive next year. 5 books in 4 years, soon to be 6 in 5 is definitely more than enough in terms of credentials and a blog where the numbers quadrupled in the space of a year. The whole premise of this guide will be if I can do this, so can you. And you can!  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Promotion Results – July 2020

The results are in! Let’s take a look at my most recent book promotion efforts and analyse what went well and what didn’t. Here we go…

Sell Tickets

This has no relevance to my results, it’s just colourful…

Slight Preamble…

Seeing as this year kind of took a dive in March, some will even argue it ended there. I decided to take what was happening in my stride and carry on. Carrying on might be the single best decision I have made in all of my blogging, writing and general being online endeavours. Trust me, and it was really tough to begin with. The numbers for this blog, my sales and overall results were dwindling for a little while until I dug deep, thought of a few new ways to continue producing content and kablamo, things are looking good, in fact they are real good, I’m talking best ever numbers kind of good.

I do truly feel for the many folks out there who have been stopped in their tracks from what’s currently going on (we don’t dignify these times with a name) but for me and without realizing this whole deal has kind of fallen into my hands with an opportunity that I have seized. For anyone struggling right now who is able to produce some kind of content, I would highly advise you do so, this world has changed and probably won’t be going back to ‘normality’ possibly for a while. More people seem to read my blog these days than my books, which is cool but we’re here to talk about my books…

The planning…

Seeing as I have five of them (books not kids, I hope…), I have content that is readily available right now for people to access. This year I have stuck to my guns in trying to do all I can to promote Darke Blood, the series it’s a part of and the sequel which drops next month. Having that wider back list gives me the options to change things around and promote another work, that work being The Teleporter – a stand alone, novella length comedy book about super heroes with a political edge – it’s current, relevant and relatable. Seeing as Marvel is mainstream these days having a super hero tale is quite handy – and trust me people grab this book when they see it probably more than any others (of mine).

So I decided I wanted to get 2 things out of promoting the Teleporter this time around:

(this is important in book promotion, you need to decide what you want to get out of it, then you can manage expectations/disappointment levels after…)

1.First and foremost I wanted as many people to grab it while it was free for one day.

2. I wanted actual paid sales after the promo date to drive the books chart position upwards and get some new eyes on the product It will be discounted to 99 cents and this wasn’t just a ploy to turn a profit, what’s a profit in writing?

The booking

So this would involve fighting the promotion battle on 2 fronts but with mainly the same process – book promo sites.

For those who don’t know book promotion sites offer advertisement for a fee, some are free. They have access to big mailing lists and distribution methods to get your work seen. Considering this isn’t my first rodeo, I have compiled a list of trust worthy, reputable sites who can help. Using a bunch of different sites at the same time is quite a useful method.

For this promotion I would split the promo sites between advertising on the one free day and the next few days where it was discounted.

The Teleporter would be free to download on Wednesday 22nd of July and then discounted for 3 days after at 99 cents. 

Here are the sites I used for the 22nd Free Promo:

E Reader News Today – (humor promotion) Cost $40 

Bookrunes – Free Promotion – Cost $40

Indie Book of the Day – Cost Free

Book Goodies – Cost $9

Bookwerm – Cost $5

Book of the Day Dot Org – Free

ebook booster – Cost $20 – placements on up to 15 other sites

Sites I used to promote The Teleporter at 99 cents discount (23rd and 24th) 

Armadillo Ebooks – Cost $25 – both dates

Prettyhot – (Featured listing) – Cost $25 – 23rd only

Discount book man – Cost $10 – 24th only 

Bookbongo – (bookblast) – Cost $20 – 23rd and 24th 

Bookdoggy – Free

The Preparation

So the promo sites were booked and now I needed to prepare my other promo methods. In the past I had explored the option of book banners – a poster that just doesn’t show the cover but acts as a kind of billboard. Seeing as Fiverr offers this kind of thing I got one put together for the Teleporter.

The Teleporter promo banner

Generally people tend to click on the link more when they see something other than just a book cover. And it didn’t cost much, there are loads of different merchants on Fiverr who do this sort of thing at a very reasonable price.

This time around I would focus more on the days after the free promotion and kept my tweeting and general social media lips sealed until then.

On the discounted days I tweeted to my 3000+ followers and put up a post on my Facebook page to 500 followers and I even put together a blog post on here for my 500 plus following.

The Results…

So how did it go? How much do I hate myself this time? I can honestly say it went rather okay to good, so not that much self hate…

Here are the results for the Free downloads on the 22nd with slight overlap on the 23rd

teleporter free download results 20202

downloads

Overall this was the best ever day for The Telporter in terms of free downloads and the 3rd best of all time in all free promos I have done. Not bad at all.

I didn’t track the chart position that much on the Free day but it was #5 in one of it’s charts. Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein was #1 at the time… I very much enjoy it when my book is in the same picture as something so highly regarded! Darke Blood did once go above a Dean Koontz book – my only claim to fame thus far…mary shelly

 

And now let’s look at the results for the days after the Free promo when it went to 99 cents…

teleporter discount results

On the day after the free promo, 20 good folks downloaded the Teleporter while it was discounted. The next day we had 1 download and then on the third and final day we had 4. Someone else downloaded it at full price a few days after that also.

I didn’t properly track chart positions but it did climb higher than usual but got nowhere near single digit positions.

20 downloads in one day for any of my books is a win and this year’s best day of sales and my 2nd best day of all time. The 1st being last July with the same book but boosted by a Bookbub featured deal.

I can probably expect a few new reviews soon.

What went well?

The whole thing went well in my eyes but here are the factors that helped.

1.July, something about this month in the past two years has been really good for book promotion and this blog in general. July 2019 holds the record for most blog views ever and in 2nd place is July 2020 – beach read season I reckon…

stoner on a rollercoaster

2. The day after the Free promotion a fellow blogger and friend of the Hall of Information, Stoner on a Roller Coaster re blogged my post about the promo – this helped massively so thank you! Many more good folks shared and retweeted things on Twitter – so thanks for that also!

3. The Teleporter is an established book and my 2nd most reviewed on Goodreads. It also has a good bunch of international reviews on Amazon. This helps big time.

4. I have a back list. Books sell easier when the author has more than one. People grab a book with hopes they like it and then will explore other titles if they do.

5. Fellow authors looking to give back – those whom I have connected with over the years and especially those who have books I reviewed sometimes feel inclined to return that favor, having one of my books available for free pushes that a little further – not that I expect anyone to buy my book in return for anything but it is very much appreciated.

6. The current state of affairs in this world: People need content, people are getting into reading more, e books are safe and are a low risk form of entertainment. Hence the opportunity arises.

 

Anything to improve? 

Book promotion is led mainly by the following and voice of an author. If that voice is louder, more people hear. I’m always trying to improve that volume (following) and of course there are few things that could have gone better.

I did try to get a bookbub featured deal but to no success this time. Maybe I could have explored Facebook advertising but I didn’t bother this time around.

All in all this promo run went rather well. I have on final book promo run planned before the release of Darke Awakening in late September. Stay tuned and thanks for reading! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Best Books I’ve read this year, so far…

Whoa we’re halfway there… but I suppose with all that’s going on, living on a prayer is out the window… but books aren’t and no matter what shit storm is going down out that window, the Hall of information vowed to carry on and carry on is what we have done!

Now that we are halfway through 2020, I am also half way through my TBR list and so here’s a breakdown of some of my best reads so far…

 

‘Dead End’ (Clown Conspiracy Book 1): A Short Thriller’ by Mallory Kelly

 

dead end

Short books don’t get nearly enough credit especially when they do everything a longer book can. This series known as the ‘Clown Conspiracy’ is like a bunch X-files episodes that all carry the same chilling clown type theme but branch out in story with individual arcs in each addition. From this first one I was hooked and went back to the series over the past six months. Give short reads a chance! Here’s my review from January

 

‘Nocturnal Farm’ by Villimey Mist

nocturnal farm

Vampire stories are still very relevant today, even more so when they break the usual mould and take a path less travelled like Nocturnal Farm which is the sequel to Nocturnal Blood. Book one was a chase style story that introduced the universe while this one represented more of a rescue effort while uncovering more of the vampire world already introduced. The MC is a sufferer of OCD and anxiety, but it’s not glorified or exploited, it’s highlighted in a brave and original way.  The Nocturnal series is definitely the one to watch right now as more sequels are planned! My full review is here. 

Break Them All!!: A Modern Era Awakening! by DRTao

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The Hall of Information proudly takes on books from all corners of genre. Fiction or non-fiction we’re happy to read them and this unique self help book can best be described as ‘A unique mind opening insight into breaking the shells that govern our existence…’ and that’s taken straight from my review.

Break them all can be picked up by anyone looking for a little more insight into their own mind. It’s written in that accessible way and like I said in my review It’s intelligent but easy to take in and highlights how to see things differently and perhaps not the way we usually see them.’

Nightjar by Paul Jameson

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Every now and then a true literary gem comes along and this one took me by complete surprise. So much so I had to drop mostly everything and just read it cover to cover. Nightjar can best be described as something between folklore and fantasy while being written in a classic literary style. It’s a fresh story with an oldie style and that will take you back and it’s a combination that makes this one a potential read of the year! Trust me, check it out, my review is here…

Swinging Sanity by N.F. Mirza

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And now some poetry because every reader’s list should have some on and mine is no different. ‘Swinging Sanity’ is a deep and sensory collection of poetry, by that I mean it’s  an emotion fuelled account full of feelings that covers a range of subjects. ‘From self harm, depression, anxiety, loneliness, love, individual suffering and pain to everything else that centres around our sanity, you’ll see it represented here without any reservations and with honesty – something the world needs to talk about more…’  Check out my full review here…

The Band Director’s Lessons About Life: Volume 1 – 50 Parables on Life’s Performance Cycle by Donald Lee

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The Hall of Information was approached directly by Donald Lee who introduced his work and it didn’t take much to convince me to check it out. This collection of scenarios serve as parables related to the teaching of music that reflects on lessons learned. The subject matter ranges from time management, knowledge, belief, having fun, performing, forgiveness, failure and so much more (50 in total). This is a book that’ll make you think and hopefully motivate you to be better in the same sense. My full review is here…

Memories of Mars: a Novella (Custodian Library Archives Book 1) by Colin Yeoman

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I cannot stress how good short books can be when they are good and Memories of Mars is one that caught me off guard yet again. Part science fiction and part literary ficton, this brand of ‘Fringe fiction’ faces the age old question about our origins and that of the red planet’s. To quote my reviewColin Yeoman has cleverly fused real elements of biological transmission experimentation with the human memory which possibly fills in the gaps of our history in the universe and more specifically Mars which is wholeheartedly original…’

And so that wraps up my ‘best books of 2020 so far’ but there are a stack of great reads I did not mention as I am saving them for the yearly review. Thanks for stopping by!

Awesome Short Recommended Reads…

When it comes to reading, it’s not always about length…

Shorter books frequent on my shelf and there’s nothing that beats the feeling of getting to the end of another read. Not only does it give you the satisfaction of having achieved something, but reading apparently makes you smarter, so the more books you read…

Either way here’s a bunch of shorter reads I recommend…. and guess what, they are all Indie books!

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‘The Seller of Sins’ by Kristina Gallo

Genre: Romance

Page Count: 84

The Seller of Sins’ by Kristina Gallo didn’t feel like a shorter read. It carries a depth and style that will make you think you are reading something much longer and detailed.

To quote my review: ‘this tale carries a deeper moral story about love and what really matters and we realize this at the end…’

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‘Fated to Meet You’ by Despoina Kemeridou

Genre: Fairy tale/ Romance 

Page Count: 49

‘Fated to Meet You’ by Despoina Kemeridou is a feel good story that begins like a YA novel which quickly spins into a fairy tale. It’s a page turner which I managed to finish in just over an hour. Here’s what I said in my review from last year:

‘You’ll find there’s a lot more to the story other than happy every after including a curse and even prophecy in what is a short but fun read…’

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‘Break Them All!!: A Modern Era Awakening!’ by DRTao

Genre: New Age (Self-help)

Page Count: 65

‘Break Them All!!: A Modern Era Awakening!’ by DRTao is a break the mold mind opening book designed to get you thinking. It’s unique and looks at how to overcome our ‘phenotypes’ (ego, ambition) in order to be more productive.

‘Well written and structured this is a book that may provide readers with insight to some answers you never thought could be out there!’

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‘Swinging Sanity’ by N.F. Mirza

Genre: Poetry

Page Count: 70

‘Swinging Sanity’ by N.F. Mirza is a personal collection of poetry that is deep and incredibly brave to present to the world. You may know the author as awesome blogger ‘Stoner on a Roller Coaster’and I urge you to check this one out!

Recent review quote:

‘For anyone who is a fan of immersive poetry and for those looking to take on a read that is different but also very honest, I recommend this book. It tells a story while also being inspiring.’

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‘Dead End (Clown Conspiracy Book 1): A Short Thriller’ by Mallory Kelly

Genre: Horror

Page Count: 48

‘Dead End (Clown Conspiracy Book 1) by Mallory Kelly is the first of 4 chilling shorts that read like episodes of a crime horror TV show. Two agents are in pursuit of a killer clown which then turns out to be two clowns which then becomes a whole conspiracy.  I’ve been diving into the series every so often this year and I highly recommend the series..

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Memories of Mars: a Novella (Custodian Library Archives Book 1) by Colin Yeoman

Genre: Science Fiction/Space Exploration

Page Count:  68

‘Memories of Mars’ by Colin Yeoman took me by complete surprise. For what started out as one story going one place became the rabbit hole of perhaps our existence. This one got me, and managed to do it in 68 pages. To quote my very recent review:

‘Colin Yeoman has cleverly fused real elements of biological transmission experimentation with the human memory which possibly fills in the gaps of our history in the universe and more specifically Mars which is wholeheartedly original.’

 

And so that brings us to the end of some awesome short book rec’s. Have you got a short book that you would recommend?

Thanks for reading!

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Weekly Ramble #70

What are you doing to look after your mental health? Right now more than ever do we need to be conscious of our subconscious because every so often in times that are different it’ll peek out from behind the curtain and catch you out..

Many of us are creatures of habit. We rinse and repeat in a our lifestyles, it’s how they were designed. The ‘routine’ was our nuts and bolts. In most structures, if you take the nuts and bolts away, things fall to the floor. Our brains are no different, and after extended time in isolation and away from those who make up the construct of our human routines, it’s getting difficult. Everything is making me fed up.

If you like me, you’re probably sick to death of hearing phrases like ‘unprecedented times’ or even ‘corona’. The news is a plague in it’s own right. It’s sole content is this crap the world currently faces, yet another uphill challenge but this one has us all directly gripped. I try to stay away from it. This whole deal won’t change in days or probably weeks. Journalists, or at least some of them have slipped in my opinion of them. If you watch the daily briefings in whatever land you are, and there’s an opportunity for Q and A, you’ll hear the upmost absurdities being regurgitated from their mouths.

Recently here in the UK the daily brief has included questions from real people who are asking what we want to know (not journalists). Not about the stupid fucking economy but when will we be able hug our grandchildren, or take them to play in parks. Real questions that have a human implication to emote. Journalists default to this mode of questioning that is both aimed at making a figure head stumble and bring a somewhat level of misery to everyone else. Are they things we need right now? How are we going to relate to them if they just ask questions that trigger bad thoughts?

A key and gospel way of looking after your mental health is to choose. And by choose I mean not be around certain people and places. While this is hard because we are isolated, I have abstained from listening to the Q and A part of the daily briefings. While I wholeheartedly support freedom of speech and questioning the authority to an extent, there is some journalism that is just destructive and bares no necessity in the modern world. Fuck off with your negativity and stop trying to divide us. The one thing we will always have as a species, isolated or not is each other, let’s keep it that way shall we….

Recent Indie Book Recommendations

These are unprecedented times… sick and tired of hearing that over and over again? Do yourself a favour and turn off the news for a while, the headlines aren’t going to change anytime soon so do something better with your time. 

Here at the Hall of information we have vowed to carry on in the face of adversity and continue our sacred vow to read and review indie books and keep this whole book train rolling down the track.

With book reviews comes book recommendations and so here are some recent reads that I urge you to check out for some awesome escapism from the crap reality this season of life has become – I’m talking worse than the final season of GOT…  Let’s go!

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The power of being positive is a powerful thing! And one way out of this shit storm is to escape through being positive or at least taking on a read that is proactive in that. Donald Lee approached the Hall for a review and we were not disappointed because his unique outlook on the self help genre is both thought provoking and valuable for learning so many of live’s lessons.

Donald is a tenured band teacher (no pun intended) and throughout his years he’s picked up a thing or two about life and how to get the most from it. Made up of short parables on very many subjects this book will bring a smile to your face! Check out my review of The Band Director’s Lessons about Life

Next up is a regular name who appears in the reviews here because Christina Engela has done it again with her immersive brand of space sci-fi.

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The Horror! Panic in Space series presents ‘Life Signs’ and my recent review headline reads ‘A trio of enjoyable sci-fi tales filled with mystery, fun and revelations…’

This is the second entry of Engela’s series which I am gradually working my way through. In these distracting times, stories like this are easy to read and are light on the mind while also being enough to whisk you away for a while. I urge you to check out these books along with her many other books which I have reviewed here in the past year (the Quantum series comes to mind…)

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Another author who recently reached out to the Hall is Damien Linnane from the land of Oz- stralia… who presented me with a recommendation in the form of ‘Scarred’ which is exactly what the title suggests. Trust me when I say this one is both good and brutal but it goes to brutal places for the sake of a great story.

To quote my very recent review:There are so many messages within the story such as revenge not always being the answer and the true morality of justice…’ 

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Right now like a lot of folks there’s a bunch of worry and pressure on our shoulders. It’s hard to get into a book but escapism and taking the mind away for a little while is important; enter the first book in the Willie Abrams Saga which is just enough to take you away while not overloading you with a complex overindulgent story. Sometimes simple stories are the best ones and this is a fine example of that. And I don’t mean to be critical when I say it’s simple because this is a rare quality found in indie books.

The Quest for the Sun God’s Tomb by CJ Evans  was a fun and easy to read book. Chapters are pacy and only five minutes or so long which means you can put it down and pick it up as much as you like. Somewhere between Indiana Jones and an original tale, this one is full of action and intrigue! Looking foward to reading more in the Saga soon!

 

So what are you reading? I know these are hard times, but staying in and finding a book to read will take away that anxiety and worry for a while, trust me!