Allan Mayer’s Weblog

Archive for June 2009

I’ve been visiting so many different writing websites this year that I haven’t had time to return to many of them.

Tonight I noticed that someone had come to my blog via Writers’ News. Following the link back revealed a comment on my thread from February, with the following link, where you can find a load of free e-books on book marketing:

http://robinmizell.wordpress.com/2009/02/03/a-list-of-free-ebooks-about-book-marketing/

I’ve also had some good news: Tasting the Wind will be featured in Lancashire Life Magazine in August. You can find Lancashire Life at newsagents and supermarkets throughout the county, so I’m hoping that this level of publicity will be a great boost to sales.

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Summer. And we love nothing better than flying off to restful, idyllic, carefree environments. Places where we can soak up the sun. Places where we can partake of exotic food and drink…

 Places where we can read about the gory exploits of crazed but highly intelligent serial killers.

Odd that. Although we would definitely not want to live next door to one, so many of us find great delight in reading novels about psychopaths- and novelists seem to be continually stretching themselves to find crueller and bloodier methods with which they can dispose of their victims.

This year I read two novels during my one-week break: Velocity, by Dean Koontz, and ‘Book of the Dead, by Patricia Cornwell.

I was on sure ground with Koontz, and I took great pleasure in the fact that (**NAMEDROP ALERT**)   Velocity was recommended to me by Koontz himself. Considering his output, I’m sure that the reply to my letter was sent from the pile labelled ‘send to wannabee authors seeking advice,’ but it did bear his signature (In ink) and has influenced the style of my next novel. Koontz suggested that any new novelist attempting to break into the field should go for the ‘High Concept Novel.’ He said that the only novel of his that he considered ‘High Concept’ was Velocity.

And it is a great rollercoaster of a read. So what would you do if you received a letter which said ‘ If you don’t take this note to the police, I will KILL a lovely blonde schoolteacher somewhere in Napa county. If you do take this note to the police, I will instead KILL an elderly woman.’

I’m sure that in this position I’d just take the note, but in true Koontzian fashion there are lots of good reasons why it isn’t that simple, and a strange logic to how Billy, the hero of the piece gets further and further embroiled. Lots of beautifully ghoulish scenes about how to dispose of a dead body without spoiling your carpet, and a satisfying denoument in which we find that the clues really have been there all along.

I have never read a Patricia Cornwell, and am aware that Book of the Dead is quite a way into the series of Kay Scarpetta novels. This made no difference to my enjoyment of the book, as there were enough references to the characters’ backstories to put you in the picture.

The characters are brilliantly crafted, and in addition to detailed forensics there is immaculate characterisation. I particularly enjoyed the way in which the complex relationships of the major characters are portrayed.

If you don’t like forensic detail- e.g. descriptions of bodies with their skin peeled off and eyes removed- not by the psycho but by the good guys- in order to confirm that abuse has taken place, then this novel is not for you.

I thought it was excellent, and will be looking for more in the series.

 

Any followers of this blog will be glad to know, I am sure, that I have begun my rehabilitation…

I have started to break away from the  Amazon Ranking obsession.

The first thing was to cancel my Booklert notifications.

Booklert is a very useful tool for following how your book is going on Amazon. You can set it to notify you over longer periods but I, of course, opted for hourly updates.

What this led to was spending time every evening checking a load of e-mails, and on occasions where I missed doing it clearing them from my inbox.

I have now cancelled the service. And I have started to delete over six hundred unread messages.

All I have to do now is not look at Amazon quite so often…

Just as a matter of Interest…

I’ve recently been corresponding with an Australian reader of  Tasting the Wind, who has generously offered to write a review for a periodical which she edits.

She clearly enjoyed reading the book, but was disappointed with one of the twists about 3/4 into the book, which she feels changes the whole nature of the piece, and has wondered how to present this in her review.

The twist is that a character who appears to have a profound learning disability turns out to be not quite what he seems. As the reviewer writes for a periodical which specialises in profound learning disability, she felt that Tasting the Wind was no longer about that subject but, eager to write a review, asked for my advice on how she could get round that problem.

The fact that I am revealing this information here indicates that to my mind that the ‘spoiler’ does not give enough away to ruin the reader’s enjoyment of the book, and in no way does it give a clue to the eventual outcome. The denouement has in fact come as a shock to all who have read it, although its seeds are scattered throughout.

I did admit in my correspondence that although I had set out to present a person with a profound disability in a major role I may have sacrificed this to the thriller form- but this does not take away from the fact that several characters have severe/profound disabilities and the lead character without a disability comes to value them despite his preconceptions.

So hopefully this has not told you too much if you are half way through!

I would still welcome reviews- I believe in the message of ‘Tasting the Wind’ and want to get it out to as many people as possible. Please put a review on Amazon, or if you write for a periodical please contact me (with evidence that you can publish a review!) and I will gladly send you a review copy.

 

Just to update blogreaders on the Author Interview feature on my website http://www.allanmayer.com/Author-Interviews-Menu.html

I am pleased to report that it is beginning to help new writers reach wider audiences, as evidenced by this e-mail which I received recently from Matt Arnold:

Allan, Of the books listed on your Author’s Interview page, This Time Around definitely seemed like something I’d enjoy. Ordered it on Amazon; just received it today and have begun reading it. It is clearly going to be a great read. Let J.P. Ledwon know that his listing on your website resulted in a book sale, and since I’m in the US he can now refer to himself as an ‘International Author’ if he has not been able to claim that mantle yet. regards….m

Take a look at it- you might find something new, or if you are an author you may wish to take part.

This is perhaps one of the frustrating periods in my book marketing campaign so far…

I am waiting for the next phase of marketing for Tasting the Wind to kick off. I’ve explored so many avenues with varying degrees of success. Of over four hundred books rerleased by my publisher I have been up as far as second place on Amazon, and have held first place on Book Depository (on and off) for some time.

Now I am waiting for reviews. This is one of those areas over which a writer has no control. I have been offered reviews in all sorts of places, sent off free copies, and as yet not one view has appeared. The problem mis that these editors will have their own priorities and schedules, and I will just have to waitpatiently until the reviewer has read Tasting the Wind, written the review, and submitted it to an editor who will have their own priorities.

So far I have made an appearance in the British Institute of Learning Disabilities ‘Current Awareness Service.’ I am waiting for reviews in a national periodical, a regional periodical, from an American academic, from an Australian periodical, a charity magazine, and from a high-ranking celebrity.

And all I can do is wait. These people have their own lives.

In the meantime, if you have read Tasting the Wind I would welcome your review on Amazon. So far there are six (5 on Amazon UK and one on Amazon.com) only 2 of which are from people who know me, and I would be happy for you to read any of them (and maybe buy a copy if you haven’t already.)

As for the professional reviews- I’ll keep you posted.

…I’m sure of it…

This is what they are doing:

First, they create a rankings system. Not a simple system, where you can find out how many books you have sold, oh no, or even a great long list of every book they sell where you can gradually watch your POD published book climb from position 4,000,000 in the world to position 3,999,999 over 25 years.

No. They have created a system where your rankings change every hour to reflect how your book is doing at that specific time in relationship to other books in its vicinity.

And it doesn’t stop there. If you go onto Amazon and instead of searching for a book search for a publisher, you can see everything put out by that particular publisher in ‘Bestselling’ order.

I FEEL THAT IS MY DUTY TO WARN YOU NOT TO GO THERE… FOR IT SURELY WILL LEAD TO MADNESS.

 

You see they don’t just provide you with a figure which tells you how well you are selling. Oh no. They provide you with a rank for ‘relevance.’

How the hell does that work?

Apparently it’s something to do with a combination of sales, number of positive reviews, number of times someone has looked at your page, how many spells have been cast in your name and how many of your readers are frogs called Trevor… well in my view anyway.

It’s just that having followed my Amazon rankings closely since my book was published, I have begun to question what it all means.

I originally set out to be a writer of books. Books which entertained, informed, and added a new light, however small, to a dark world.

But now I find myself checking my Amazon rankings far too often. And they have started to do weird things, which is why I think that Amazon are doing strange things with my head in the manner of a Dean Koontz novel…

As my publisher introduces more books in its recent phase of publishing, these books are enjoying their first surge of sales, and books which have done well in the rankings, including mine, are beginnng to fall. This is to be expected. The odd thing is the relationship between my ‘bestselling’ and ‘relevance’ rank.

A couple of days ago I was at number 2 in relevance. Great I thought, I must have gone up in bestsellers. Wrong. I had slipped out of the top ten to number seventeen. Yesterday relevance was 5, but I was back at number 10 in the best sellers.

Does anyone out there have a clue how this works?

If you do, I will write you a nice thankyou card in coloured crayon…

they don’t allow me to have pens anymore.


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