Allan Mayer’s Weblog

Posts Tagged ‘Ted Smith

A lot has happened since I started my blog one year ago this month…

This time last year I was still sending out the letters and submissions to agents and publishers and getting them returned (or not) with the standard rejection letters. Each manuscript provided exactly what each agent or publisher asked for, not a chapter more or less, an introductory letter, a synopsis and stamped addressed envelope. I never compromised on presentation, even when a friend of mine who has published a series of bestselling books told me that his break came when a publisher dished his submission out to a student, who just happened to enjoy reading it on a tube journey.

It was  advice from published writers that made me think that perhaps I was looking in the wrong place with ‘Tasting the Wind.’ One of them said that a writer’s first novel was more likely to succeed it it was ‘high concept.’ Another suggested that publishers were put off by mixed genre. A novel can be well written, but if a publisher perceives that it will not sell in large numbers it will not be taken on.

It was then that I decided to try a different route.

I had started my marketing early- about nine months before I had a published book- and that preparing of the ground proved invaluable. In August I was invited to speak at Stafford University, and it was there that a lady who later turned out to be a publishing consultant asked me who my book was aimed at, and by what time was I hoping  to get it published. For some reason I said ‘Christmas.’

It wasn’t long after this that I got an e-mail from my friend, Dominic Took, informing me that a publisher, YouWriteOn, were offering free POD publication,  before Christmas to 5000 writers .

There was never a chance that they would get 5000 books out in that time, and I wasn’t surprised when ‘Tasting the Wind’ didn’t appear until well into the New Year. So to fill the gap I carried on marketing, and through the process have met some great people. Some of them are writers who are only too happy to share ideas. Others are people who have contacted me from all corners of the globe to express interest in my work.

If you are planning to self-publish or POD publish a book, you will probably be told that it will only be bought by friends and family. I can assess this assertion in one word: WRONG. This may have been true in the days before the internet, but not now. Of course you won’t make the sales of a mainstream book- that’s a given- but if you put the work into marketing (and no one else is going to do it for you) you will find that people you have never met will buy your book, and even write reviews on it.

So, as things stand, one year on ‘Tasting the Wind’ is making modest global sales. Of over 400 YouWriteOn published books it is number one on the Book Depository chart and number two on Amazon. The immediate future is looking hopeful, as some of my biggest marketing initiatives are now in the pipeline- they include two reviews, one  in a regional magazine and another in a national.

Do I regret going down the POD route? Not at all. People are reading my story, so I consider that I have achieved what I set out to do.

Anyone who is considering POD or self-publishing must go into it with their eyes open. The chances of being ‘discovered’ by a major publisher are almost non-existent.  You will not make enormous sales, but if you work hard on promotion and find a niche market your book will not be read only by people who know you and your work will not languish on your hard drive.

So let’s see what the next twelve months bring.

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



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…


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,


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.


My week so far…


 Went to see ‘Mary Poppins’ at the Palace Theatre in Manchester. Although we took our foster child with us it was actually a late fortieth birthday present for my brother-in-law, who is now at that age and secure enough in his sexuality to feel able to ask for whatever he wants.

Karen, my sister-in-law is due to have a baby in May, and I couldn’t help wondering how live musical theatre is perceived in the womb. According to Karen the baby has already mastered ‘Riverdance.’

The show was brilliantly executed, the climax being where Mary flies right over the stalls and up into the gods.


Went to see some newly acquired friends who we met through the fostering network. The kids played, the women talked about the kids and the men compared the sizes of their sub-woofers.


Got the promised e-mail from Ted Smith, saying that the book matches the cover at Lightning Source, so there is a problem at Amazon which should sort out within a couple of weeks.

Although I don’t want to steam ahead with marketing until the correct cover is appearing and I have a copy in my hand, I have started to ‘dabble’ a little. I have registered for the Amazon ‘Search Inside’ facility. I’ve also signed up for ‘Author’s Den.’  This is a site which showcases new novels. It has had mixed reviews, but the good ones are very very good.

And I’ve contacted a site which is keeping alive the tradition of the Staffordshire oatcake. I was born in Kidsgrove, Stoke-on-Trent, where the oatcake is a local delicacy. The Kidsgrove oatcake shop features in the first chapter of ‘Tasting the Wind’ so I wondered if the current owners of the shop would be interested in knowing about this. Who knows- it could lead to a joint marketing venture: a free bag of oatcakes with every copy bought? (or a free book with every bag of oatcakes…)

Monday- Wednesday…

The day job. It’s Winter, which means viruses, which means short staffing. When this happens I stand in and do ‘hands-on.’ I manage a service for people with profound disabilities, so today I accompanied a lovely lady to ‘Wheelchair aerobics’ at the local leisure centre.


Things have started to get nasty on the Absolute Write/ YouWriteOn thread. Which is sad. Several posts have been deleted.

Which brings me to tonight…

Dropped our foster son off at scouts. He’s had a great day. I can’t name him or say much about him because of confidentiality, but today we have been very proud of him. Before he came we made up a name when we tried to imagine how our lives would change with a child around, so from now on I will call him ‘Duane.’ Today we were proud of Duane because he did a sponsored swim to raise money for his school. He told us he thought he could do 3-4 lengths, so we sponsored him for £1.00 per length.

He did twenty six lengths… perhaps I should recruit him to sell my book.

If you want to visit a top class writers’ site then you will do no better than ‘Absolute Write.’
AW covers every aspect of writing and is frequented by contributors from the entire spectrum of writing and publishing.
And yes, there is even a thread about YouWriteOn. Most of the contributors have a negative view of YWO ( at least of the latest publishing venture.) Some YWO members, including myself, have posted there with our reasons for choosing to publish as we have, but the dominant voices have been those of  experienced publishing types who have employed a vast arsenal of experience to attempt to discredit YWO, and young pretenders who, with somewhat less expertise and grace, are cutting their milk teeth on the subject.
Until now….
Enter (from stage right, or left, depending upon your perspective) champion of YWO, Kevin Crabbe.
Kevin has been putting up a staunch defence of Ted Smith which has created a very entertaining dialogue over several pages of AW.
I won’t give too much away, but contributors to the thread have had good reason to suspect that ‘Kevin Crabbe’ might even be Ted Smith himself.
In  my view, there are certain stylistic pointers in Kevin’s contributions which make his relationship to Ted quite clear- but look at the thread and decide for yourself.
I have been corresponding with Ted Smith this weekend about the wrong cover appearing on Amazon. He assures me that the right cover is with the right book at Lightning Source, and that the ISBN on Amazon is mine. I mentioned Kevin Crabbe, but he was typically ambiguous on this point.
He has my enquiry at the top of his ‘to do’ list for Monday.
So watch this space…




YouWriteOn have been coming in for some criticism recently about their lack of response to e-mails, amongst other things*.   People who have written to Legend Press seem to be having a bit more luck, so on Monday I sent the following e-mail to 


Just a quick enquiry re my book ‘Tasting the Wind’ by Allan Mayer. It is appearing on Amazon with someone else’s cover. I have heard that this gets sorted eventually, but the length is also wrong, so I am not sure if the ISBN is mine or not- can you shed any light? I could do with knowing, because I am soon to have a press release and need to know that people can buy my book through the link to Amazon, and not end up with someone else’s,

This morning I received the following reply:

 Hi Allan,

Thanks for your email. I have sent your query through to Edward at YWO, who deals with covers, who will look into it asap to clarify correct cover being displayed.
Best wishes,
I am inclined to think, however, that despite so many other things being blamed on Ted Smith, this may be more to do with Amazon’s processes. Other authors who did not publish through YWO have written to me to say that their books appeared at first with the wrong information attached.
Hopefully this will soon be remedied- it’s starting to get a little embarrassing when people who were told that the book would be available before Christmas are asking where it is.
*A masterful understatement, I know. For those ‘other things’ see the post for 3rd Feb on


Just a quickie to say that after posting this I e-mailed legend back and asked them when I would get payment details for my order of last week and, lo and behold, they arrived soon after.

Just a quickie to say- received this from YouWriteOn tonight:

Dear Allan,
We are pleased to inform you that your book is now ready to order from YouWriteOn and Legend Press. Your book has also entered book distribution channels and our books are already starting to appear on sites like Amazon. Please follow the ordering instructions below exactly so that we can process your order.


 To order copies of your book, email us, with your book title in your email header. In your email, include the following information:

 1)      Your Book Title again

2)      Your Name

3)      Your Delivery Address, including postcode

4)      Your telephone number, required for those who choose tracked orders

5)      How many books you wish to order

6)      Important Inform us of the email address which you plan to include in your Google checkout payment for your book order (link will follow your email). This is very important as we cannot tie up orders with book titles unless you specify the email address from which you will pay in your email to us

7)      Whether you would like standard delivery (Royal Mail) or tracked delivery – see below for further details. We can only inform you of delivery prices once you inform us how many copies you wish to order

 Package and Posting Terms of Delivery

 We will inform you of package and posting costs depending on the amount of copies you inform us you wish to order. For other countries, we will notify you of delivery costs and delivery times. The postage and handling charges are charged by our printers Lightning Source to us for delivery of your book. Lightning Source are one of the world’s largest print-on-demand companies. Note that Lightning Source do not replace any books that may go missing as a fault of Royal Mail delivery, so we cannot do so either. By placing an order with us you accept this as a condition of delivery. If you would like a tracked mail delivery through DHL (UK), please inform us in your order email above, and if it goes missing Lightning Source will resupply the order if they are satisfied the order was placed and went missing. We hope you enjoy your book!

 The YouWriteOn Staff and Legend Press Partnerships

This is slightly edited. For those of you who are interested in the financial side of things: the book sells at £8.99. With author discounts I will make just over £2.00 per copy (half of which goes to Derian House Children’s Hospice) but I have no idea yet what the P&P will be.



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