Allan Mayer’s Weblog

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Tasting the Wind took me ten years to write.  I now want to give it away to you as a free e-book…

 The paperback would cost you £8.99 on Amazon. Click  HERE  to see it and to read some excellent reviews.

 

So why am I giving it away?

 

There are 3 reasons:

 

1)      We are living in difficult economic times. I want to give you a free read. If you want to check out what it’s about and if it’s any good, click on the link above.

2)      Because we live in difficult economic times the powers that be will be looking to cut essential services. ‘Tasting the Wind’ is partly set in a 1980s institution for people with learning disabilities. I want to raise awareness of what life could be like for people with learning disabilities if funding cuts force them to return to institutional styles of living.

 

3)      The profits from the paperback go to Derian House children’s Hospice. If you keep your copy of the e-book I would ask you to give a donation (as much or as little as you like) to Derian House. You are under no obligation, but if you wish to do so go to: http://www.derianhouse.co.uk/donate.html

To get your free copy click the following link which will take you to Smashwords, where you can download your book in one of several versions including Kindle:

http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/5061

And finally: although I do not wish to make money from this book, I do have an ego. Please message my blog,  add reviews on Amazon, and join my Facebook page:

                                                                                                                                                               http://www.facebook.com/#!/group.php?gid=56190762166

 Let me know what you think, and how far round the world this has travelled,

Thanks,

Allan Mayer

 

 

 

 

 

At the end of 2008, after years of rejection letters from agents and publishers, I decided to publish my novel, ‘Tasting the Wind’ in a ‘Print on Demand’ (POD) format.

POD is not to be confused with self publishing. If I had self-published there would have been a lot more donkey work- buying my own ISBN, submitting the legally required copies to the relevant libraries and so on. It would also- and I have this on the authority of self- published authors- be far more expensive. With conventional self-publishing the author pays for a print run and ends up with a garage full of physical copies. POD books exist in cyberspace, and can be printed off… well on demand, as the term suggests.

So how was it for me?

The down side.

So you can have a nice, glossy covered version of your work without having to suffer another rejection. But what are the down sides?

These are probably in proportion to your expectations. If you think that a POD book is going to make you rich and famous, then think again. Some writers (including myself at one time) will point out the occasional author who has self or POD published and as a result has been ‘noticed’ by a major publisher. These are so few and far between that it can in no way be relied upon to get your book into the bestsellers list. Also, once you have gone down the POD route you have used up your first publishing rights.

 The fact that the technological revolution has enabled you to publish a book which has had no editorial input or proof reading means that anyone at all, regardless of talent or lack of it, can publish a book.  Even as a POD published author I have to admit that I am very careful about buying POD  work, and like to find out as much as I can, including reading a sample if possible. In order to give others a chance to decide before buying ‘Tasting the wind,’ and because I believe it will stand the test,  I have put the opening chapters on my website, www.allanmayer.com  and you can read a whole 25% of it on Smashwords, where it can be downloaded as an e-book.

Even after ten years of work, ‘Tasting the Wind’ admittedly has some typographic and grammatical weak spots. Despite careful readings by myself, family and friends, seeing your book in a published form for the first time will highlight some obvious errors previously unspotted. *

The company that I published with – www.youwriteon.com , have had their fair share of criticism. Their original plan to publish 5000 books by Christmas 2008 was never going to happen in reality. For £39.99 YWO printed my book, bought an ISBN number and placed it on several online book sellers sites including Amazon and Book Depository. YWO get 40% of everything I sell. I am aware that I could have gone down other routes which would have retained me more of the royalties, but as I knew that these would not be phenomenal figures I didn’t get over concerned about this.

I’m not sure if marketing should come under the downs or the ups, as it has provided an enjoyable learning experience. BUT it is hard work, and can consume a lot of your time. The best thing that can happen to a POD book is that it finds a niche audience or manages to get national press coverage (which to my knowledge two YWO books have done.) Talking of the down side, as I am, this brings me to my two greatest disappointments. Both ‘Community are Magazine’ and one of the Royal College of Nursing  journals showed interest then decided not to pursue the interview/ review. An appearance in either of these would have really boosted sales, but que sera sera… 

One last thing about  the downside: there were  frustrating delays in the publication of the book and the appearance for a short time of someone else’s cover with my information on some of the sites.  I don’t know if I’m particularly blessed with patience or just plain stupid, but at a time when people were panicking and withdrawing their work I decided to wait and see. The POD project was new to Ted Smith and the team, and they would be first to admit that there were teething troubles.

Then came the day when the first copy arrived, which leads me to…

The Up Side

I had heard all sorts of terrible things about the quality of POD books, including one of a writer doing a signing where the books were so poorly bound that they fell apart. No such problem with books published by YWO- I have handled several copies of ‘Tasting the Wind’ and books by other YWO authors and all have been sturdy and well produced.

I have made a lot of lovely contacts through developing my web presence. I received an e-mail from an Australian Speech Pathologist who was using parts of ‘Tasting the Wind’ in her lectures. The director of a company which specialises in workplace disability adjustments ordered signed copies for all of  his staff. I was also contacted by friends of David Heffer, a friend and colleague who was killed by the IRA and to whom ‘Tasting the Wind’ is dedicated.

Talking of web presence- I succeeded in what I set out to do by blitzing as many outlets as I could find. Google any combination of ‘Allan Mayer, Tasting the Wind and you will find pages and pages. Not that many people will Google those words, but I am pleased to say that if you also Google ‘Learning Disabilities novel’ I now appear on the first page.

Although, as I said, you will not earn fame and fortune through a POD novel, you may earn a small amount of local celebrity. I have appeared several times in local papers and have been approached by people who have seen the article and even bought the book. I am also pleased to have appeared twice in the magazine of  Derian House children’s hospice, to whom I was proud to give the first month’s royalties.

The critics of POD publishing say that only your friends and family will buy your book. This is patently untrue- living as we do in the world of the internet there is more potential than ever before for creating sales worldwide.

The most important thing is that my book is being read. It is not only being read, enjoyed, and not just sitting on my hard drive.

So how many people have read it?

Well, I once read that a POD book would do well to sell 100 copies. I was happy when I heard that I had sold 122 in the first six months. Fluctuations in my Amazon rankings (U.S. and UK) since then  indicate that it has continued to sell, and I know that some people have passed it on to friends. Having come to the conclusion that my book was not commercial and unlikely to attract a major publisher, I concluded that a small readership was better than none at all. At the end of the day it all comes down to why you write. Yes, fame and fortune as a writer is a highly desirable thing. But in this case so is the thrill of connection I have found when people have sent personal e-mails or written reviews which tell me that they get what I am saying.

I think that fame and fortune can wait until the next book…

(WATCH THIS SPACE)

*My purpose in writing this post is to give an honest account of my POD experience- not to put you off buying my book.  If you find this off putting please refer to my Amazon reviews, where people I have never met have taken the trouble to point out that despite these issues they would still recommend the book and have given no lower than 4/5 stars.

From today Tasting the Wind is available as an e-book. You can read it on your pc, Amazon Kindle or Sony reader for a mere $5.00 (about £3.00)

Go to:

http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/5061

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…

…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.

1: I’ve started up a ‘Tasting the Wind’ group on FaceBook
2: I got this from Ted at YouWriteOn…
 
Hi Allan
 This is to give you an update on the issue that the majority of our book titles are appearing as normal on leading bookseller sites such as Waterstones, but a number, including yours, have not being listed for display. This was due to a data input issue at Nielsens that they have resolved.

 How booksellers receive information is that Lightning Source, our printers, provide all the necessary information to Nielsens and Gardners  for each book published so that each book can appear on bookseller sites and be ordered through book stores. This is the basic info including ISBN, publisher, etc. Lightning Source assured us all this information was correct and sent information to us to verify which appeared all correct and in place. So we looked into this further with Nielsen and they report that for a number of titles there was a temporary blip in their Trade Data and that their Trade Data Team have fixed the problem to resolve this.

 Nielsen have reported to YouWriteOn that this was due to the omission of a publisher link in their trade data information for the affected titles. They report, “We manage this via a prefix mapping process. I believe that the titles that were missing the publisher link had a prefix which we had not mapped to the YouWrite publisher name. This has now been recitifed, and any new titles supplied by Lightning Source in their ONIX file to us for YouWrite titles with your prefix will automatically be given a YouWrite imprint name.”

 Nielsen’s have worked very hard to identify and rectify this issue.

 We are pleased this has now been resolved by Nielsen’s Trade Data team so that the affected books, including yours, can go forward to appear on the wide range of leading booksellers sites that our books appear on.

 Best wishes

 Edward

 

3:I had already uploaded my cover to Amazon, as the page was looking sad with no image.

4:I’ve also sent in a synopsis now, so that people looking at the page can tell what ‘Tasting the Wind’ is about.

5: Submitted another press release to the local paper.

 

I’ve also been chasing up the copies I ordered a month ago from Legend Press. I wanted to send some of them out as review copies, so that side of the marketing campaign is on hold. I do know that from now on I will order from Amazon or Book Depository, as they do free delivery and I get royalties which aren’t swallowed up in postage.

 

Oh Well, you live and learn…

 

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!


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