Monday, 29 July 2013

An open letter from an author to book reviewers…

When you're an author, there's nothing more upsetting than getting bad reviews.

When it's from someone who just didn't like your book and gives perfectly valid reasons, you can accept it. But when it comes from someone who gives unreasonable reasons, beyond the author's control for not liking your book, it seems unfair.

1. It's unfair to mark books down because of how much they cost because despite what people think, authors don't make a lot of money per book and unless it's self-published on Kindle they don't get to set the price either.

FACT - Amazon get as much as 70 percent off the cover price of a paperback or hardback book. Yes, 70 percent. That means if the book sells for 7 dollars they pay 2 dollars 21 cents for a book. If it sells for 7 UK pounds, they only pay 2 pounds 21 pence.

FACT - Bookshops can also get discounts of around 50 per cent. Some may get more.
At a standard ten percent royalty rate, that means writers get 21 cents or 21 pence a book. It's not a lot for all the work that goes into writing a book.

These calculations apply to traditional, royalty paid publishing. Self-published authors also face deductions. On Amazon, those who use Kindle Direct, either get 70 percent or 35 percent royalties on the price of their own book. And there may be tax to pay too.

2. Pay attention to genre.
It's unfair to read say a romance novel and then give it a poor rating because you don't like romance novels. Steer clear of genres you hate. An author pal got a stinker of a 2 star review on Amazon because he'd written a book set on a spaceship and the reviewer said they hated the fact it was set on a spaceship.

I got a one star review for Hell To Pay that the reviewer posted everywhere. When I looked at all the books she read they all seemed to be erotic fiction. My books is billed as a revenge thriller and has a bloody hand on the cover and not a naked man:) In no terms could it be described as erotic fiction.

3. Before you leave a review, look at how many pages a book has.
One of the reasons someone gave me a bad review for Hell To Pay, was they said it was a short novel. The book is a short novel - it's a novella - and if you think it's too expensive see point one about traditionally published authors not setting the price of their own books.

4. It's unfair to give a bad review because you're from the UK and the book is written in American English, or vice versa. A correct spelling in the UK is a wrong spelling in the USA.

Fact - Most of the big publishing companies don't even bother to change American English to UK English when they sell books in the UK. This means that UK readers can read books in both their English and American English. The opposite doesn't seem to be true, but that's not the author's fault.

5. Look at where the books are set and expect characters to use national phrases.
For instance, in Scotland where I live, we say "no" instead of not. As in "that's no fair" and "I'm no doing that."
This little quirk makes the way people talk authentic without going overboard.

In Hell To Pay I used that phrase a few times and I just know people will read it (like one reviewer) and say it's a spelling mistake. It isn't.

To sum up...
In most cases, reviewers have paid their money or have devoted their time to reading a book they were given to review, and are entitled to their opinion, but there has to be an element of fairness. And, I believe that most reviewers are fair.

If I hadn't a long history of publication, I'd have been totally devastated by the withering review I got. But other authors might have been so crushed they'd never have written anything again and readers would miss out on their next book that even the harshest reviewers would call a gem.

Reviewers, authors love you, but only when you play fair.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Watch the trailer for Hell To Pay...Glasgow's about to get meaner

Hell To Pay's official release date is Friday July 26th, 2013 when it will be available on paperback and on Kindle...

Disclaimer: The Die Hard for Girls books are pure, escapist fiction and do not in any way advocate violence.

Monday, 22 July 2013

It's time self-published authors were more honest

You'd need to have been on another planet not to notice the rise of the self-published or indie author. Their stories are everywhere and make selling books sound, well easy –

"I sold a thousands books a day using social media."
"Why I'm turning my back on a big money book deal to stay indie."
"I tweeted my way to hundreds of book sales a day."

Whilst all these stories inspire indie authors and those who are thinking of going indie (like me) they also make those of us who don't sell thousands of books a day (whether we're self-oublished or traditionally published), feel like garbage.

We use the social networks, we blog, we write promo pieces. And, we wrote good books. So, what's wrong with us or our books?

Probably nothing. So, why are other authors succeeding whilst we're not?

Part of the problem is that although I've no doubt these bestselling authors work extremely hard, they are not always completely upfront about the things they do to "sell" so many books or the fortune they spend.

Here are 3 things I've discovered -
1. Writers counting free books as sales. When something's given away, it's a freebie not a sale. If I see someone giving out free candy bars, I grab one. It doesn’t mean I’m gonna eat it, or in the case of free books, read it.

2. Authors are spending a fortune on publicists. One author I read about spent 40 thousand dollars on her publicist. Compared to what others spend, that's chump change.

3. Authors spending a ton of money on advertising, including fees to get on book blogs. I was sad to see that there seems to be a growth industry in prising money out of authors’ hands. This is often money they can’t afford.

What this post isn’t, is me having a go at indie writers who write great books that sell and work hard to get those sales. What this post is however, is a call for successful self-published authors to be more upfront about how much money and time they spend to make the Amazon bestseller list.

Sadly, I know of too many authors who have grown disillusioned because they’re not the next John Locke, the first self-published author to sell over one million eBooks on As well as writing what I’m told are great books, he spent a bundle on advertising to sell books too.

Sunday, 7 July 2013

The angry writer makes a comeback...and she's livid.


When you're not being published you look at writers who are and think their life must be wonderful. They've made it. Their book's out there being coveted and they're being told how wonderful they are. They're raking in the cash - go on, you in the know; chortle away at that one.

Then you become one of them and realise life can still be, well not to put it to politely, shit.

So far (I'm expecting more rotten tomatoes) here's the lowdown on my publication hell -

Amazon getting the listing wrong on ALL their sites, so all of my books wouldn't appear on my Amazon author page. I had to contact those sites individually - you can't just contact one, you've got to contact them all - to get the details changed. See What to do when Amazon gets your details wrong post. This was a time consuming process and all because whoever keyed in the details on a book site, couldn't copy information.
The book coming out a month early but the Kindle version not following suit. Result - losing would be sales and losing out on potential readers.

Getting one star ratings from people who complained that the book "didn't contain enough romance."
It's a crime thriller with a bloody handprint on the cover. There's no mention of romance.

Getting two one star ratings on Goodreads from someone who hadn't read the book. One rating was for the Kindle version that isn't even out yet. I contacted Goodreads and they didn't seem to think this was a big deal. It wouldn't surprise me if there's going to be an Amazon review scandal with people leaving malicious ratings and reviews.

My publisher saying my book came out at the wrong time "for the word to have got yet" and the book missed out in being in "some of the trade catalogues" where so many bookstores order their books, so there were hardly any orders.

A writer with the same publisher wanting to exchange likes on Facebook, then pulling out and sending me a sniffy message saying "I don't like your cover." A bloody handprint for a crime novel - why didn't I have a picture of a fluffy bunny? Eh, it's not a book like Living Cruelty Free.

To top it all, I've spent hundreds of hours promoting this book, doing things like setting up a website, a Facebook page, blogging, getting reviews and running a Twitter account, as well as putting excerpts up on Wattpad and Scribd and I'm starting to wonder what the hell is the point? The last time I wrote anything was this blog post. Yet, I've got a heap of writing projects that I could be doing rather than promoting a book I seem to be more invested in than my publisher and fixing Amazon screw ups.

Then today I got a call from my dad to tell me they'd seen a book with the exact same cover in Waterstones. I'm now off to scream into a bucket.

Friday, 5 July 2013

Would you like a starring role in a novel? Have a character named after you.

Some fanfare please –

Would you love to have a starring role in a novel?

Or have a character named after a person of your choice – your other half, or even your dog as a unique gift?

Well, your dreams can come true.

Everybody who writes a review for Hell To Pay on Amazon or Goodreads between now and July 26th when the book will be out in Kindle - available now on Amazon in paperback – will be entered into a draw to gets a character in my next book named after them or someone of their choosing (but no obscene, made up names please). The two winners - YES - TWO WINNERS - will also get a signed copy and get a mention in the acknowledgements.

Here’s the links people -

Happy reading and good luck:)

The book won’t be available on Kindle until July 26th, so I will be repeating this competition then for the Kindle version.

Note – I’ve had to extend the original closing date because a few people have been in touch to say they’ll be in holiday or books take longer to be delivered where they are.