Wednesday 27 November 2013

Christmas Desperation....

"Are you ready for Christmas?" 

My father and I place bets on how early we will be asked that question, each year.  I expect my first one will happen in the hairdressers on Friday. I will pretend I haven't heard it.  (I'm not, by the way).

Well, then - are you?  No, I don't really want to know.  Every year we hear that the seasonal retail figures for 'the high street' are disappointing - especially in recent years, now that more and more people are shopping online.  The shops are getting desperate - and it shows.

Where I live, the shopping centre is open air.  Yesterday I walked through it, on only November 26th, to the tune of Wizzard's "I wish it could be Christmas every day".  I couldn't get away from it.  Look, I didn't want to hear that banal, tired song in 1973 when it came out, and I certainly haven't wanted to hear it for every one of the 40 years since. How, pray, do the shops think this will entice me in?  The same goes for the clothes stores with horrible reindeer sweaters in the window, and every single emporium trying to orientate its wares towards present giving; even Wilkinsons (where you go for your cheapo kitchen cleaner and shampoo) claimed to have the perfect Christmas gifts for all the family ("a handy kitchen gadget for Mum, and don't forget that garden tool for Dad!"). A girl in a red fleece wearing reindeer antlers stood at the door trying to spray me with perfume as I walked past.  I only wanted a notepad and a pack of biros.  

As for the supermarkets who start pushing overpriced chocolates and packets of red candles at you as soon as you start taking-a-cardigan-with-you-because-those-late-summer-evenings-can-get-a-bit-nippy ~ don't get me started, especially not now that people moaning about it begins as early as Christmas product promotion every year, and I'm as guilty of this as everyone else.  I find the whole thing so desperate and so ghastly that this year, guess what?  I'm not going to go out shopping again until January.  I'm going to be one of those who shops online, instead.  

I think it was buying bleach and loo paper to the sound of Elton John's appalling "Step Into Christmas" that sent me over the edge...  

Monday 25 November 2013

Free Promotion results & thanks - and Kindle Countdown!

As anyone who uses Twitter alot may well have grown sick of seeing over the past week, I have just had a five day promotion for my new short story collection, Nine Lives (I'm so fed up with the sight of it I can hardly bear to type that!).

I know that the free promotion is, like, SO last year, and these days it's no guarantee of anything other than making sure that 500 people have yet another book on their Kindle that they'll never read, but I wanted to do the short stories as a chance for some people to try out the way I write without having to commit to a novel - and, much to my delight, I have already had some new people saying that they loved them and now want to read more, which is what it is all about, is it not!  Also, I had far more downloads than I expected; I had only anticipated about 500, but got 1541, which is not half bad for these days, considering it's without advertising on any other sites apart from Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads - not even all the Facebook/Twitter free pages, for the simple reason that I couldn't be bothered. 

However!! I would not have had half so much success without the help of so many lovely people - a big thank you to all the people who retweeted for me, some many, many times, and I'd like to just mention a few people here who really 'went the extra mile' for me, by putting it on blog posts, reviewing, downloading and telling the (Twitter) world about it, scheduling tweets, sharing Facebook posts, and all the rest. Big, big thanks to: Sonya Kemp, Susan Buchanan, Bodicia (and her apple), Deena Rae, Maria Savva, Rosie Amber, Julie Ryan, David Njoku, Darcia Helle, Geoff West, Jack Croxall, Alice Huskisson, Jan Ruth, Ro Jordan, Jenny Twist, Neel Kay, Sharon Roberts, KJ Waters, Lizzie Lamb, Claire Hill, Joanne Phillips, Hache Jones, Mack Brown, Carol Hedges, Francis "Mr Lover Man" Potts, Dylan Morgan, Molly Greene, Andrea Williams, John Donoghue, Alex Martin, Dave Perlmutter, Wendy Proof, Cathy Lynn, Judee Ann, Colette Thompson Pam Howes, Foggy Tewsday, Jane Sleuth, Roberta Goodman, Carrie Bookworm, John Hudspith and anyone else on the #wkb group who tweeted for me, Kitty Bittersplit, Jeanette Christie, Amy Good, Peter "Awesome lol hugz" Davey,  and I'm really sorry if I've forgotten anyone, my head's a bit full at the moment!

Kindle Countdown
(This bit mostly just of interest to other writers!!! Sorry for boring non-writer readers!!!)
At the end of the book is the first chapter of my latest novel, What It Takes. To tie in with the free promotion, I thought I'd reduce the price of this one. Earlier in the week I had heard that the new Amazon Kindle Countdown promotions are the absolute cojones del perro; two friends who normally sell roughly the same as I do (or a bit more or a bit less!) reported sales in their hundreds.  Daily.  Gosh, thought I, I iz gittin' me a piece o' that mo'fo, innit.  So, I put What It Takes on a Kindle Countdown deal for half price yesterday. What happened?  Bugger all. Sure, I've sold a fair few, but no more than I would expect on a normal reduced price weekend.  

I was beginning to think I had a problem that my best friend hadn't told me about.  Where were the 500 sales of which my friends spoke?  Then, a writer friend solved the mystery for me.  She told me that Kindle Countdown deals are no longer advertised on the home page of the Amazon Kindle Store (as they had been until the day before mine started), but have been tucked away somewhere else.  In other words, they have been taken out of the shop window.  Chaps, we've missed the boat.  Whereas the Countdown deals are good royalty-wise, the initial boost is all over.  

An example of shop window benefit: eighteen months ago, my first book, You Wish, was number one in Kindle 'Movers and Shakers', which was, at the time, also on the home page of the Amazon Kindle Store.  It was selling every five minutes.  That's literally, by the way - it really was.  The minute it stopped being at number one, though, and slid down to number 4 or 5, you could no longer see it on the front page - and sales went back to normal.  

Conclusion ~ Amazon visibility is all.  With it, you don't have to do anything to promote at all.  You can just sit back and watch those sales roll in.  Without it, it's a hard road out there - but one I shall keep travelling, nevertheless! 

Thank y'all again!! 

Please note:   What It Takes continues to be on offer for the whole of this week.... see the top right hand corner for the link to my Amazon UK page, or the link is here:

Saturday 2 November 2013

My new short story collection - NINE LIVES!

I'm happy to announce that my short story collection, NINE LIVES, is nearly ready for publication (cross fingers)!  I'm hoping it will be out on November 20th, and it will be free on publication, for five days.  

I love the cover!

NINE LIVES contains nine stories (hence the name!), with various themes ~ here's a brief run-down:

Angel ~
A young woman in a storybook perfect marriage is tempted to stray...

Shut Up And Dance
Laura's boyfriend Paul has promised to love her whatever size she is - but does he mean it?

Mia ~
A middle-aged wife talks about the threat of 'the other woman'

Kiss Your Past Goodbye ~
Zoe wonders what happened to Jack, who broke her heart when she was eighteen

We All Fall Down ~
The quick drink between two old friends that gets out of hand....

Bright Light Fright ~
Vengeance, a burglary, and a nasty shock!

Mama Kin ~
Emma has serious doubts about Melanie's attitude to childcare...

Don't Get Mad - Get Even!
Kevin and Marcus have been friends and rivals since childhood - but who will come out on top?

Happy Birthday
A forty year old woman looks back at her life

I hope you will download it - and I'll be shouting about it from the rooftops (okay, on Facebook and Twitter!) when it's published, so you won't miss it!