Allan Mayer’s Weblog

Archive for February 2009

Alex was a small lady, but her death yesterday will leave a huge gap in the lives of many people.

Alex was a red-head with an elfin face, and a smile which could melt the ice caps. One of the things I most admired her for was her irrepressible spirit- she was a fighter and, despite her small stature and slight frame was probably stronger than anyone who will ever read this. You always knew where you stood with Alex. If she was sad, you knew about it, but when she was happy she made you feel like the world was a wonderful place.

Alex shared her family’s love of music. She would bring to work recordings of her brother playing classical piano pieces . On a much lower level, Alex shared my enjoyment of Neil Diamond, and occasionally we would listen to his music together.

She was much loved by all who met her.

And yes, she had severe learning and physical disabilities, but once you got to know her you forgot about that. She had a lot to struggle with in her short life, but despite these difficulties she had a presence which made you smile, and to value, rather than pity her.

To say that she will be missed by her loving family is too much of an understatement. They have fought like warriors for Alex, and having recently won a long battle to protect her rights her death at this time must seem particularly cruel.

I must also pay tribute to that band of heroes, my team of care staff. I never use the term ‘my staff’ because I always prefer to work in a more egalitarian way than the words suggest, but I use it now because I am proud to be associated with them. It is obviously not the pay that keeps people in Social Care jobs. It is getting to know people like Alex. Two of the staff were there at the hospital. Others waited for the inevitable news. It was my job to inform them and others over the phone that Alex had finally slipped away.

I am proud that my staff team know nothing of  ‘professional detachment.’ Professional, yes, but detached is only appropriate to jobs which don’t involve working with people. We become attached to the people we work with, we come to love them because we are all human beings and love is the cement that holds us together. And the ‘service’ we offer will carry on even now that Alex has gone, in that the value we ascribe to her will be felt in our grief and happy memories that will live with us forever.

And if there is another place, I am imagining among the traditionally blond angels, a little red head who is skipping around and singing, has eyes that can see across eternity and can eat everything on offer on the banquet table. That is my hope, and if ever a person deserved it, it was Alex.

Well, I am hoping that I might be one day… because I’ve had a couple of people enquiring if Tasting the Wind is available in Australia.

Cate Thompson from Brisbane left a message on my Website guest book, and I also got a message from Jo Watson in my blog comments.

As yet there is no Australian Amazon. I managed to find an Australian supplier, but it would have cost more than double the Amazon price.

I was beginning to think that my Antipodean marketing campaign was never going to get off  the ground when in stepped my Canadian friend, Wally, with information that you can get Tasting the Wind Shipped free wherever you are from: the Book Depository .

So that’s a Canadian, helping an Australian to buy a book by an English author. Isn’t the internet a wonderful thing!

I realised from Jo’s address that she worked for Scope . We have corresponded and it turns out that she is a speech pathologist (Over here we’re more familiar with the term speech therapist.)

She also said:

I can’t wait to get my copy in the mail.  I will review it and submit it to some of our publications here in Australia. I think AGOSCI would be a good one.  It is our national publication for people interested in the needs of people who don’t use speech to communicate.   

It is very gratifying to think that someone I have never met will be spreading the word about Tasting the Wind on the other side of the world.

Thanks Jo!

It was seeing the changes in Amazon’s rankings which inspired to send for a copy of ‘Tasting the Wind’ by express delivery, so that I could see it before everyone else did.

Since then I’ve been keeping an eye on those rankings. Yesterday I was really pleased to see that having started last week  in something like  five-hundred and odd millionth place I had now soared up to position  2,942!

That was nice to see, but before I, or anyone else, gets too excited, it is important to get some perspective on what those rankings represent.

Obviously people (although it is impossible to tell how many from the rankings) are buying the book. The rankings fluctuate throughout the day. I am told that those above 10,000 are recalculated every hour, those below, every day. I have also heard that it is possible to make your figures soar if you can co-ordinate several people to buy your book at the same time.

So the figures don’t mean – unfortunately-  that  ‘Tasting the Wind’  is the 2942nd best book on Amazon- just that at that particular time several people had bought it.

                                THANK YOU WHOEVER YOU ARE- HOPE YOU ENJOY IT!

Well I  just had to do it. On Thursday I looked on Amazon and the ranking of  ‘Tasting the Wind’ had soared to 17,000 and something. People were buying it.

My order from Legend Press still hadn’t arrived and it occurred to me that other people would see the book before I had.

So I ordered an Express Delivery. It was 11a.m., and I was assured that I would receive a copy by 1p.m. the next day. So I went for it.

The following day it arrived. It had been ordered, printed and posted within twenty- four hours.

I opened the package, and as I did the horror stories started to go through my mind: Some people have received POD books which have fallen apart in their hands. One person who used YouWriteOn received copies of their book with a blue line across the cover…

Then there it was, in my hand. It was a sturdy, solid tome- all  408 pages of it.

I flicked through it- it looked like any book from the shelves at Smiths or Waterstones. But 408 pages?  Surely Tasting the Wind is 364 pages.

Well it was. Originally I had just run one chapter on from another to keep the length and the price down. Tom Chalmers of Legend Press had worked on the manuscript to make every chapter start on a new page. And you know what- it looks far more professional for it. And the price is still comparable with any other 408 page book, at £8.99.

So I have a hard copy novel. Now I have to sell it. Last night I set up a group on FaceBook, and I have been receiving enquiries from all corners of the globe. Now I will be learning  just how effective are the marketing strategies that I have been learning about over the last few months. 

The real fun is just beginning…

       ‘Tasting the Wind’ is now available!

                 

cover1

                       Christmas Eve, 1976: a man dies, tied to his bed in a Victorian Mental Institution…Andrew saw what happened. Eddie saw what happened. But their severe learning disabilities prevent them from communicating what they have seen.

 Ten years later, the hospital is destined for closure and Andrew and Eddie move to a bungalow in the community.

  Enter Martin Peach, who has come into care work for all the wrong reasons. And as if the challenge of helping six severely disabled people settle into a sometimes hostile community is not enough, his new manager, ex-nurse Della Belk, has a deadly secret which links her to the new residents…

 

 Can Martin and his colleagues put together the fragmented clues about Andrew and Eddie’s  pasts before one of them becomes the next victim?

 

 

 Praise for Tasting the Wind

 

 I immediately cared. I will be reading more…!     Ruth Estevez

compelling reading – couldn’t put it down.     Janet Thompson

 Superb …a real achievement   Lee Morris

Couldn’t put the book down! Hope you sell loads!  Linda Jackson

WOW!! This has got to be a winner… brilliant.  Jane Dunnett

 

Tasting The Wind is a truly gripping read.  Darren Houghton 
  (You can read these comments and more in my guest book)

 

 

               You can buy Tasting the Wind now at:   Amazon.co.uk  (free delivery available)  or at over twenty online booksellers. Compare prices here:   Bookbutler  or for free delivery anywhere in the world go to book depository

 Or order from your Local W.H. Smiths or Waterstones bookshops, quoting :   ISBN-10: 1849233802   or   ISBN-13: 978-1849233804

 

50% of my royalties will  be going to Derian House Children’s Hospice

 

 

I am publishing the correspondence below with the permission of Ted Smith, Director of YouWriteon.

(I had previously written about the mix up of book covers on Amazon, and Ted had replied that the cover and interior at Lightning Source matched, so the problem must have occured at Amazon…)

I wrote:

Thanks Ted,
I’ve just sent my press release to Derian House, the Children’s hospice I am giving half of my royalties to, so thanks for keeping me informed.

I have been, and will continue, collecting ideas for marketing on my blog. I am doing this because you were clear from the start that YWO would not be marketing the books. I would be interested, however, to know if you yourself have any ideas about the best ways to market a POD book. I am sure that you are very busy at the moment but if you do have time I would welcome, if you feel it is appropriate, a few words for the readers of my blog, which has been attracting over 300 readers a day, many of them YWO members.
Best Wishes,
Allan

 

Ted wrote:
 
‘ To try to get interest from a local store, it can help to also contact your local press and if they show interest in covering your book release, then contact your local store and try and tie up the article so that it appears if/when the local store has stocked you as a local author. Ideally an article might mention the local store for advantage to you both and to encourage visitors in general. This may not always work out depending on the newspaper, or store and demand on their floor space, but it can be worth a try.
 
The charity aspect may help with this, or it may be an idea to see if local press interested without, as then a few months later you could try to revisit the same press with the charity aspect and perhaps achieve further signing or stocking as well as supporting a good cause. It is always advisable to contact charities first to discuss your aims and see what the response is and whether they approve the fundraising aims.
 
Also on site, in a few weeks time members will be able to add a link on YouWriteOn for those  who enjoy your sample writing to buy your book at booksellers such as Amazon, Waterstones, etc. Part of our aim to make this a more interesting process alongside getting reviews for feedback. For each review completed of another members opening chapters, you will be assigned to be reviewed by a fellow writer/reader in return, and we hope this proactive system will help to spread the word about good writing, increase book sales for writers, as well as helping writers to develop further through feedback. Very frequently over the site’s history we have seen readers writing ‘I would buy the book’ so we hope this may prove the case for some writers.’

Thanks Ted. I know that there has been a lot of debate on some of the other blogs and forums about what direction YWO will take, so hopefully that will be of help, straight from the horse’s mouth.

 

Posted on: February 18, 2009

coverChristmas Eve, 1976: a man dies, tied to his bed in a Victorian Mental Institution… Andrew saw what happened. Eddie saw what happened. But their severe learning disabilities prevent them from communicating what they have seen. There is an answer… but it can only be found in fragmented clues about the men’s pasts. Can these clues be put together before one of them becomes the next victim?       
 Tasting the Wind…  Available NOW on Amazon  or for
                                               free delivery worldwide go to: Book Depository

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