Monday, 25 July 2016

They Move Below July Horror Blog Tour (5)

Today is the penultimate stop on my July horror blog tour for They Move Below.

Visit damppebbles for my guest blog post about how I started to love books and writing, and about dealing with depression. Plus a review that made me smile. Many thanks to Emma for hosting me! Please do visit her excellent site.

PS You'll find the full tour timetable here. The final stop is a Facebook party!


Monday, 18 July 2016

Reviews, And Why They're Important To Writers

Authors have many concerns beyond good characterisation, exciting plots, broken pencils, and avoiding being distracted by pictures of cats on the Internet. Reviews, for example. Reviews affect sales, and sales affect your visibility. You have to sell a lot of books to increase your Amazon ranking before Amazon starts including your book in "xxx also bought ..." messages. Some of the best marketing services that promote your book also require quite a lot of reviews as a prerequisite (and the reviews on one Amazon site don't count towards another: some services require a number of reviews on, so they ignore all the reviews on and Goodreads; you end up needing even more reviews!). All this means it is really hard to get a foot in the door. You can only use effective advertising and get recommendations after lots of sales and reviews; you only get lots of sales and reviews after effective advertising and recommendations. Catch-22.

For many authors, writing expenses are more than their writing income. The only way to equalise the two is to get more sales and reviews. Again, the loop.

My main task at the moment (apart from my blog tour, editing, and working on my next book) is to try and increase the number of reviews I have so that I can try a marketing service to get word out about my writing. And I'm asking for your help!

How You Can Help
  • If you have enjoyed any of my books in the past but not left a review, please consider doing so. It only needs to be a rating and a sentence or two - no need to break down the structure, plot, characterisation, imagery, style and so on (unless you're that kind of reader and want to write about those things!)
  • If you've left a review in one place - please consider copying and pasting it to another site as well (see "Where To Leave Reviews" below).
  • If you are reading my work now - please leave a review at the end! I'm not just asking for positive reviews, but for honest reviews. If you like it say so, but only if that's true. It's your review.
  • If you've not read my work - there are buy links here. If you can't afford a copy then no problem, just get in touch ("Contact & Follow" menu above). I’m happy to send you an e-book in any format.

Where To Leave Reviews
Goodreads is one option if you have an account; or seller sites, particularly and Obviously if you are a bookblogger, your blog would be your primary location, but it needn't be the only one. Once written, you can copy and paste the review to more than one of those (which has the advantage that if the review ever disappears from one site, such as Amazon, it will still be visible online somewhere).

Note that you don't need to have purchased a book on Amazon to review it: only for it to be a genuine review. (If you did purchase the book there it gets an extra "Verified Purchase" label, but it isn't a requirement.)

"Karl, Are You Saying That Reviews Are Only Important For Those Reasons?"

Of course not. Reviews are important for many other reasons, such as:
  • A direct form of reader feedback that shows where the writing/story is doing well, and where it could be improved; 
  • Reviews help people find your work, but also help to deter people who wouldn't enjoy it (life's too short to read books that don't suit you); 
  • An extrinsic reward in the form of recognition for the years you have put in to enhancing your authorial skills and writing the novel. 
It's just that with my latest book on tour at the moment, and wanting it to be a success, this other aspect has been on my mind this week. After all, the end result I'm aiming for is so that people who would enjoy my work are more likely to find it.

Thanks! For buying, reading, or reviewing my work; or for sending me emails and Tweets and messages (or vegan chocolate, but that is a rarer occurrence). It keeps me going.

"Karl, Why Do You Often Give Your Books Away For Free If You Need The Money?"

For a writer, obscurity is worse than poverty; and poverty is only defeated by breaking out of obscurity.

"Karl, Why Do You Ask Yourself Questions As If There Is Another Voice In Your Head?"

What do you mean, "as if"?

Peace and love.


Thursday, 14 July 2016

They Move Below July Horror Blog Tour (4)

Today is the third stop on my July horror blog tour for They Move Below.

Visit Life of a Nerdish Mum for Helen's post about one of my stories, and a Q&A with me about my writing. Many thanks, Helen!

PS You'll find the full tour timetable here.


Sunday, 10 July 2016

They Move Below July Horror Blog Tour (3)

Today is the second stop on my July horror blog tour for They Move Below.

Visit Linda's Book Bag for something different: I was challenged to argue the case for why people should read horror. You can read here to see whether I succeeded. Many thanks to Linda for hosting me! Please do visit her excellent site.

PS You'll find the full tour timetable here.


Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Review Into The Welsh Government’s Support For Publishing And Literature In Wales

When I wrote A World Of Writers And Readers: Understanding Modern Publishing I didn't realise it would get picked up and shared all around the world. Maybe it is seen as a good overview; maybe it acts as a "how to" guide; maybe the world likes to know about the literary scene in Wales; and maybe it is seen as exposing a form of prejudice. Or all of the above. This post is a minor addition to that.

Yesterday the Welsh Government shared a link to its survey about support for publishing and literature in Wales. I was asked to help share it. The survey is open to anyone, not just people in Wales. It is short - a few demographic questions, a few about preferences, then a few text boxes where you can type what you want. This is the email:
Please see link below to the questionnaire in relation to the current Review into the Welsh Government’s support for Publishing and Literature in Wales. We would appreciate you sharing this widely with your contacts within the industry to ensure maximum input and feedback.
Questionnaire – Publishing and Literature Review
The Questionnaire will be available until 31st August 2016.
Just for information, my responses are below. Only afterwards did I realise that I forgot to add an important point: any panel to do with literature (reviews such as this, or prize-judging panels) should include at least one person who is an independent publisher or has experience of being an author-publisher, or is from an organisation like the Alliance of Independent Authors. Otherwise the panel aren't including all viewpoints, as well as missing out on a whole area of expertise.

Independently-published e-books vastly outperform
traditionally-published e-books [Source]

10. In your view, what are the main challenges faced by the publishing industry and literature in Wales? These could be cultural, social, economic or of another kind.

So much is produced globally (over a million new titles a year in the US alone, I think) that it is difficult to stand out. On the other hand, readership is growing, and new markets opening (India, China), so it is also an opportunity!

Also, publishing often adopts systems that irritate consumers - DRM, limited formats, high e-book prices, regional restrictions, severe copyright restrictions, dishonest marketing (fluff quotes etc) - which puts people off purchasing. Publishing should be more open and honest, and win back consumer trust.

11. Which aspects of the support currently provided for publishing and literature are working well (and why)?

To be honest it is hard to say, because I think the current system is quite difficult to understand. It doesn't seem to be very public about how much money is spent, on what, and why. How are decisions made to subsidise a title or publisher? How much funding goes to just support traditional publishing? Traditional publishing is important but is only one part of the story of literature in Wales. After all, traditional publishing came about a LONG time after the story of literature in Wales (oral and written) began! We're moving back towards a system of openness and participation, which is a good thing in many ways rather than a threat. We need services that aim to improve and promote all writing in Wales, regardless of who produces it and how.

12. Is there anything that should be done differently (and, if so, why)? Please explain what the outcomes would be of making the changes you describe.

We want the best quality writing from Wales. It’s not a requirement for everyone, of course - there is an important role for writing in terms of self-development and creativity, which needn't have anything to do with commercial success and markets. The vital parts of literature in Wales are the WRITERS; literature can exist without publishers, but not without writers. Nowadays there are many routes to market. So I feel that most of the money should go to writers directly. It shouldn’t matter whether the author chooses to licence rights to a publisher in exchange for royalties, or whether they prefer to act as an authorpreneur and retain control and royalties but hire people to provide the key services instead.

How could this be done? Possibly by funding writing services all writers in Wales could use (e.g. substantive editing and copyediting and proofreading). That's probably where I spend the bulk of my money, services which cost c. £1,000 per book. (Cover and interior design are the next most expensive). We want all books from Wales that are available for sale to be the best they can be.

I definitely don't agree with double-funding. This occurs when, for example, and author gets a grant to write a book, then a Welsh publisher gets a grant to publish it. It should be one or the other. Certainly the public seem to get annoyed when they realised double-funding is taking place in any sphere. Maybe grants for writing or editing services should include the condition that, if used, the book cannot receive a second grant to be traditionally published? Or ringfence figures for titles which aren't published by traditional publishers.

Public funding should also make works more widely available and re-usable/quotable to the public who support and fund it. I'm planning on making my books CC-NC in future (Creative Commons licensed, for non-commercial purposes - as used by Cory Doctorow). This kind of thing should be much more common. It could also tie in to the idea of using funding to pay a small guaranteed income to serious writers in Wales, in exchange for the resultant work being made open to the public in this way.

13. Is there anything else you would like the Panel to consider?

All authors should come together. Regardless of genre or format, or means of production. Authors are the primary producer, so it's a no-brainer that funding should primarily support them in their endeavours, and they shouldn't have to assign their rights elsewhere in order to benefit from funding and promotion. It should be their choice whether to do that or not, but they should be supported regardless of what they decide. Nothing publicly funded should exclude an author just because their book was not published by a small press, but rather by a team the author assembled and paid. To be honest, the future is likely to be a hybrid system, where some of an author's work might be traditionally published, some self-published; as rights revert titles might change from one to another. This kind of flexibility is a good thing for all involved in publishing: it's an opportunity, not something to fight over. I don't believe in "us and them": it is all authors together, with traditional publishing being one of the partners authors can work with. Not the only one, but one that can definitely benefit some projects because of the expertise, passion and connections of many small presses. Authors shouldn't miss out on the benefits of working with a publisher; nor should they be unaware of the benefits of retaining full creative control. Likewise we all benefit from a growth in quality literature, that creates new markets and enhances readership; we should all be working together to create that united creative industry.

Plus what I have already said here.

Thanks for being patient with me.


Saturday, 2 July 2016

They Move Below July Horror Blog Tour (2)

Today is the first proper stop on my July horror blog tour for They Move Below!

Visit Grab This Book for a Q&A with me (where I reveal something I've not discussed publicly before, and reveal the diary entry from the time) and a review of They Move Below. Many thanks to Gordon of Grab This Book for hosting me. I won't re-post his comments here, it's best to visit his excellent blog.

PS You'll find the full tour timetable here. Also this new review appeared on Goodreads yesterday.


Friday, 1 July 2016

They Move Below July Horror Blog Tour (1)

Today is the start of my July horror blog tour for They Move Below! I hope some of you will follow it when it reaches each new location. I also have some good news after the timetable. :-)

At some point on each day a post related to They Move Below will go up on the indicated website - in most cases the blogger's thoughts on They Move Below (which will be a surprise to me, because I haven't been told what they will say in advance!) and a contribution by me, such as a small article on a topic, or a Q&A. While you're there have a look around - each blog is packed with reviews and other information, so you might find some other great books to read. Hopefully a blog tour like this benefits everyone. I get exposure for my new labour of love; the blogs gain new readers; book readers find out about other books they might be interested in, and insights into my own work or creative process.


I've had a piece of good news this week - IngramSpark has entered They Move Below into the British Book Design and Production Awards. I'm so pleased! Working with IngramSpark has been a pleasure all round.

Audio Books

Another exciting announcement - the audiobook of They Move Below is being recorded. It will be available on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes. I'm incredibly pleased that R. J. Alldred is narrating and producing the book. She's a professionally trained actress, and among her other credits she has voiced numerous characters in the multi award-winning game, Dragon Age: Inquisition. I'm amazed at Rosie's ability to do accents, and my collection certainly puts that to the test: English, Welsh, US, Scottish, Burmese, Somalian and more. I have to admit that the audition I had posted was very cruel, because it involved applicants having to sing as part of it - and sing in an out-of-key way! I'm pleased that Rosie was still willing to work with me after that. :-)

Harvest Festival

One of the stories from They Move Below is also available as a standalone release - Harvest Festival. A fast-paced novella based on the premise: how would you protect your family if you woke in the night to find a terrible threat had arrived at your isolated farmhouse? Harvest Festival makes a great introduction to my recent work, and also a cheap present for someone (hint hint). As with all my books, it is available in print and electronic formats.

Organic Apocalypse

Lastly, I have a publishing imprint called Organic Apocalypse. This year my existing books will get a lick of polish and be re-released with new ISBNs, probably new covers, minor interior edits etc. Organic Apocalypse is also the name of the practice band I play in with my friends.

Thanks for sticking with me, hopefully see you at the various stops of the blog tour! Feel free to say hi below. Have you read any of my books? Will you be visiting any of the sites? What do you like to read?


Tuesday, 28 June 2016

My Newsletter

I sent out a newsletter last week. Yay! Some of my past newsletters can be found here, and you can sign up here. If you are a subscriber, did you receive the latest issue? Some changes to how mail services deliver newsletters might have affected a few of you.