Another Pitstop On The Long Hard Road

The longer gap than usual between blog posts has been due to several things. I’ve been writing for 32 days and have completed ‘Three Weeks In September’.
I know, you thought I was hard at work on ‘The Noble Heart Cracks’ #10 in The Phoenix series. Well, the title didn’t match the plot in the end. That’s what happens when you let the characters loose and they disappear over the horizon making up their own plotlines.
This week I’ll be editing. Next week I start writing #11, which is now entitled ‘A Frequent Peal Of Bells’. Whatever happens, it must be written, and edited before we fly to Ibiza on holiday at the end of April.

Promotions in January and February went ahead as scheduled, and there have been 4500 Downloads/Sales YTD, which is most encouraging. My concentration has been on writing & editing. The numbers appeared with a lot less input from me than in previous years. The end is in sight, and that’s my focus.

My writing ‘career’ has always been three steps forward, two steps back, so there have been setbacks since I last posted. It took until the end of January to get Amazon to upgrade the Product Pages to my satisfaction. I also upgraded the four titles in the Box Set (taking the opportunity to feed the changes into the original books too). More editing to satisfy the critics who concentrate more on the packaging than the content.
I know I’m a Philistine, but I believe the story is what’s important. More of that next time.

I uploaded the new files to Amazon KDP and Createspace. All went well until mid-February when Createspace sent a Content Validation Request. They seem to be confused over whether I actually wrote ‘The Olympus Project’, or at least, that I own the publishing rights. It was stupid, but it’s finally been resolved.

All Author have been busy. My interview with Mady Joshi is being featured this month. You can read the full content here: –

The front cover of my first novel ‘The Final Straw’ is in the March contest for Cover of the Month.
If you wish to vote for it, then please follow this link: –

Back to the editing, then the new book. I hope to be in touch before April, but you never can tell.

If you want regular updates on all my books, why not join The Phoenix Club? Newsletter (#21) will be circulated very soon.

Slow But Steady Wins The Race

As one gets older, days pass more quickly. Two weeks of this new year have gone already. It seems only last week I was preparing for Christmas. What progress have I made towards achieving my goals for 2018? The two days of ‘free’ promotion for the box set on Amazon yielded two thousand downloads via Freebooksy, The Fussy Librarian, and Good Kindles. We’re well on the way to matching one of those goals.

As for writing the three remaining novels, I’m afraid progress has been zero. I’ve blamed the cold weather; it’s too cold to sit upstairs writing without putting the central heating on. My wife and I heat one downstairs room, and share it, getting on one another’s nerves at times. If things get too bad, she’ll decide to hang the expense and tell me to get warmth into every corner of our home; so we can spend several hours as far apart as our four walls allow.

Another reason for the lack of writing is a further bout of self-analysis. I carried out a ‘reverse engineering’ exercise two years ago, and it felt time for another assessment. Amazon (US and UK) have been pedestrian in their updating of my newly-refreshed Editorial Reviews. On some titles they have been slower than that; more a snail’s pace. I had hoped it would all be complete by the end of the first week in January, but it looks like being closer to the end of the month.

Older readers will recall the 10 writers I selected as my benchmark against which my Titles/Covers/Blurbs/Author Profile/Website and Social Media ‘footprint’ was to be measured. Initially, I came out as a size 8, where I was hoping for a size 10. When I decided a refresher was needed last December, I looked at Karin Slaughter’s Editorial Review section, and reckoned if that format was good enough for her, then I had nothing to lose – even if Stephen King, Jeffrey Deaver, and the New York Times haven’t reviewed any of my books as yet.

There are still a few titles with the ‘old’ versions, but many now have the updated section as I wanted it to be, plus a refurbished Author Profile on my Author Central Page. No doubt there are other more important things that need to be done, but change is continuous. Any aspect of my online presence that can be ‘tweaked’ to attract more first-time readers has to be beneficial.

The next two weeks will be filled with finishing those amendments, booking the next promotions for February and March; and starting the tenth Phoenix book. I will also be hoping for warmer weather, or a short, sharp, cold spell that forces a review of our heating plan. I can’t delay too long. The three-book goal must be achieved.

I was contacted by a community radio station in the US between Christmas, and the New Year. They had read the 5* review of ‘Revenge Comes In Many Colours’ from Amy Shannon, a much-respected blogger, and want to interview me. I look forward to sharing the details of that with you in due course.

If you want regular updates on all my books, why not join The Phoenix Club? Newsletter (#20) will be circulated very soon.

A Year In The Life – My 2017 Review

The icy fingers of winter have started to grip. The nights are long, and days where hours can be whiled away outdoors, a distant memory. Last time I told you ‘Christmas was around the corner’. Christmas, with its festive decorations, its customary surfeit of food and drink, and happy times with friends and family.

For the indie author it’s often a time for reflection. How have I done this year? Did I achieve the goals I set? Have I learned anything in the past twelve months to alter the way I approach 2018? Are there different ways to be in a better position to reach my 2018 targets?

My writing days are entering their final stage. I have three stories in my head, which during 2018 will become Books 10,11 and 12 to complete The Phoenix Series. All good things must come to an end.

I know I’ll miss the act of writing, so, I might revisit the short story genre. ‘A Sting In The Tale’ (2013) was my first attempt; perhaps it’s time for a second volume.

Another avenue to exploit is this Blog – ‘The Long Hard Road’ will be over, but a new path lies ahead. I’m planning to write about anything and everything – maybe in a ‘Midweek Matters’ and a ‘Sunday Roast’. (Suggestions welcome.)

In January I posted these goals for the year that’s almost done and dusted.

To write more; to market The Phoenix Series, rather than individual titles; to double the downloads achieved in 2016; and to enjoy life.

I published the 3 books that I promised, plus regular blog posts and newsletters to The Phoenix Club members. I concentrated my promotions on ‘The Olympus Project’ #1 in the series, the 4 book box set, and the series as a whole. The strategy worked. I hit 20000 downloads by November. There were 8000 in the whole of 2016. Life was good.

Was there a downside? Downloads from free promotions don’t always translate to actual sales.
True, but in 2017 I will have sold ten times as many books as last year, plus, with the box set in KDP Select I’m also earning royalties on KENP Reads.

What about reviews? Are there many criticisms?
Not from readers whose only aim is to enjoy a good story; but I’ve always had occasional remarks about the lack of a professional edit. I can’t afford it – end of story. That might continue to hold me back in 2018, but I can only do what’s affordable.

These are my 2018 goals: – To complete The Phoenix Series; to promote the box set, #1 in the series, and the complete series whenever possible. (the first dates are the 3rd/4th January) The strategy is to maintain the 20000 downloads level, to entice more readers to BUY books 5-12; and to continue to enjoy life. In 2017 we visited Ireland for the first time. In 2018, we want to visit Scotland. Simple pleasures.

My experiences with promotions in 2017 taught me where my attentions should be focused. That will position me better to achieve my goals. I won’t waste money on sites giving little or no return. If sales increase sufficiently, it could encourage me to tackle the editing issue. I’m not in it for the long haul (not at 72!), and if sales stick at the same level as 2017, then the books can carry on as they are.

Will I be content with what I achieved, when I reach the end of ‘The Long Hard Road’? I can tell you the answer to that already. An unequivocal YES. I’ve had so much fun writing this past five years. The fact that a good number of people have enjoyed reading my books has been amazing, and unexpected.

If you want regular updates on all my books, why not join The Phoenix Club? The Christmas Newsletter (#19) will be circulated very soon.

Free and Bargain ebooks/Book promotion site
for authors

Christmas Is Around The Corner

Happy Thanksgiving.

I’ve no idea why I wrote that. In the UK it means nothing, yet on social media today all I’ve read is designed to make me feel warm and friendly. I guess it’s worked.

I scheduled the final Free day promotion on the Boxed Set for today (with special features on Book Gorilla, and Ebook Discovery) hoping for a warm and friendly response.
I have a promotion on The Olympus Project scheduled next Tuesday, and if there’s an afterglow from today and Black Friday, who knows? Christmas may come early.

The big news is that #9 in The Phoenix series arrived ahead of time. Yes, you read that right. ‘Revenge Comes In Many Colours’ was promised for the 1st December, and like many babies after your first-born, the little devils have a mind of their own and pop out without warning.

You can buy the new book on Amazon here

What’s next? #10 in the series ‘The Noble Heart Cracks’ will be out by March 2018 (see what I did there? ‘by’ not ‘in’; it’s the rebel in me surfacing again. The tablets are wearing off.)

As the Blog Title says, Christmas is only a month away. I’ve spread my Glad Tidings earlier than usual, so watch out for a little Joy before the big day. Take care, and happy reading. I’ll be back in four weeks.

If you want regular updates on all my books, why not join The Phoenix Club? The December Newsletter (#18) will be circulated very soon.

One Day At A Time

Two occasions have passed me by in the last ten days; Halloween and Bonfire Night.
Neither has any real significance in the calendar, yet they attract vast amounts of money spent on them, when family finances are reported to be at breaking point.
It doesn’t take a genius to work out that the marketers sat down several years ago and decided there was too large a gap between the Late Summer Bank Holiday (last Monday in August to any Americans reading this) and Christmas.
Something was needed to stimulate sales as autumn (fall) crept towards winter. So, now you can’t escape the masks and costumes from early September. Bonfire Night should be simple enough; remember, remember the 5th of November. Yet family pets are cowering under beds from the first of the month until the fifth, and often later as freworks litter the night sky.

Well, if you can’t beat them, join them. On the 9th and 31st of October I ran Free days for the Box Set (Days 2 & 3 of my 5 in KDP Select).
Booksends/The Fussy Librarian gave me 1400 downloads on the 9th, and a combination of Digital Book Today/Many Books/Book Adrenaline added a further 800 on the 31st. The latter wasn’t great, but I had a lot of competition. Next year, I’ll avoid Halloween.
My target for 2017 was 16000 units. I hit 18500 by the 31st. My dream of 20000 is only 2 Free days away now, and I have a promotion on The Olympus Project scheduled.
The downloads were welcome, of course, but actual sales have been climbing, and the volume of pages in KENP has been staggering. In October my royalties exceeded my outlay on promotions for the first time. I know, another two months like that, and I could break even for the year. Who knew?
If ever there was an incentive to write, then October provided it, and ‘Revenge Comes In Many Colours’ #9 in the Phoenix Series is 95% finished. I’ll be editing, and polishing by the weekend. The next instalment in the Olympus story should be with you by December 1st.
Take care. I’ll be back with the latest news and a post about the new book in four weeks.

If you want regular updates on my books, why not join The Phoenix Club? The November Newsletter (#17) will be circulated very soon.

A Tactical Switch

If you have stuck with this ‘Long, Hard Road’ blog post for a while, you’ll know that nothing ever stays the same in this game, from one month to the next. When I started out, I used to feel obliged to write something every two, or three weeks. Lucky for you, I settled on a once a month update. I’ve seen some bloggers who are ‘at it’ every day. Heaven knows what they find to write about, but it’s not for me. It would be like being on one of the most extreme switchback rides ever at an amusement park.

At the end of August, you heard about my ‘bump in the road’. The Penn-inspired ‘ad-stacking’ experiment for the box set which in the end yielded $60 towards the $95 spent. Overall, I suppose it wasn’t too big a bump.
(The eagle-eyed among you will spot that one site is still to give me that date for the Spotlight I booked. So, there’s $65 out there that may yet bring results, unless it was a scam site, of course?).

On September 25th I started to use the box set as my bargaining tool. If you recall, my strategy now is to generate downloads on Free days in a Countdown Deal, using my best performing promo sites. I have 4 more days to schedule between now and December 1st. I chose Freebooksy at $85 as my flagship performer. When I checked progress late on Monday evening, the box set was at #3 in Crime Thrillers, #6 in Suspense Thrillers, and #42 Overall on the Free Kindle charts.

I slept well. I was reasonably confident that meant I had received 1000-1500 downloads over the 24-hour period. When I checked the numbers in the morning, it was 3487, the best day I’ve ever had.

The next Free day (make a note in your diary) is next Monday 9th October. By the end of the year there could be 8000 box sets out there. I’ve got 10000 words of Book 9 done, and ‘Revenge Comes In Many Colours’ will appear on Amazon by December.

Will every one of those 8000 readers love the box set so much that they will each buy the next 5 books in the series? I wish. Whatever happens it’s given me every reason to finish the last 3 books in the series next year.

My target for 2017 was 16000 units. I hit that on the 25th, thanks to Freebooksy. My dream of 20000 is only 4 Countdown days away. I could run an occasional promotion on other titles too. I’m tempted, but I don’t want to tempt fate. That next big bump is probably waiting around the corner.

It’s a Long, Hard Road after all.

If you want regular updates on my books, why not join The Phoenix Club? The October Newsletter (#16) will be circulated very soon.

Writer’s Cramp

In my last post, I talked about the financial ramifications of following the advice in ‘How To Market A Book’ by Joanna Penn (@creativepenn). My conclusion was that it was ‘Good advice – if you can afford it’

I posed the question; can you be successful without it costing you a small fortune? In the interim I hope you have considered what ‘success’ means to you, because that will very much influence what your financial outgoings might be.

Here are my suggestions for a low-cost, low risk strategy to achieve a realistic level of book sales.

As you will learn later, there are bumps in the road, even if they are less damaging than when travelling on the high-risk highway.

Book Cover
The average cost of a professionally designed cover can cost $100 – $200. So, save every cent by using Canva design. I had zero experience when I started, but as my brand image is unchanging, it was a five-minute job to produce a template. All I do now is amend the title, the number in the series, and I’m good to go.
Of course, you can go the Paid route with Canva, and develop more elaborate designs, but either way, it will cost you a fraction of what a professional cover designer would charge.

(Posts ‘Building The Brand’ and ‘Can We Learn From The Best’ will let you see why I chose to follow my particular path with my covers)

Where do we start? Well, I reckon you can spend anything between $500-$2000 per title, depending on how badly put together your manuscript is in the first place, and how ‘clean’ who want it to be. For the sake of our argument, let’s pitch it at the mid-point of $1250 per book. You should then have a file that passes muster on Smashwords, or Amazon, without any hitches when you upload it.
I’ve used the free Grammarly app for the past two years, to correct my Grammar, Punctuation, and Spelling errors. The Premium plan would cost $140 per annum to remove the other ‘impurities’, but I took the advice of a fellow writer and chose Pro Writing Aid instead. This costs me a quarter of that, and does the same job.
Do I get as polished a finish as from a professional? Of course not, but none of my books has less than a 4* average. Would I sell more if I raised that to 4.5*? Show me absolute proof and I’ll give it a try. No? I didn’t think so. When you don’t have the funds to experiment, you need to target every cent you spend with care.

No doubt you’re wondering why this one is here? Well, this is a free tip. No matter how apposite your title may appear for the book you’ve written; check to see if it’s been used before. As a reviewer, I see dozens of examples where authors use a title that has between 3 – 7 titles already. Give yourself a chance of success! Five minutes research could help find a title that lets your book stand out from the crowd.

Some ‘How To’ authors will mention the word ‘copywriter’ in this regard. They will cost you money. Forget it. Maybe for the first book, just to give you the tutorial. After that you HAVE to go it alone. You use Social Media don’t you? And a mobile phone? So, you’re an expert in getting your message across in a limited number of characters. Develop those skills.
Your blurb should be 150 – 200 words. A maximum of 10 sentences. It should be engaging & fresh, setting the scene, introducing the characters, raising conflict, hinting at an outcome. It shouldn’t reveal too much, yet it must leave them wanting more.

I’ve found that all my Tweets can be constructed from a combination of my Blurbs, and my Reviews. Some have become a constant presence in identifying The Phoenix brand. You are the best person to do this. You know your characters; a copywriter doesn’t.

When I started out, I used Smashwords to upload my first novel. I was given a list of 10 contacts who would format my Word file so it would pass through the ‘mincer’ first time, every time. On average, it costs me $30 per title. The lady I chose from the list at random, has become a friend over the past four years. A fellow writer, she smashes it (excuse the pun) every time. Never a problem. I tend to stick to Amazon these days, but the success rate is still 100%. This is one area where it’s worth spending the going rate to get the job done.

I’ll save you the task of adding the numbers. My hours grafting at the editing come free as far as I’m concerned, so the day Amazon confirm my title is LIVE, my savings compared to the route suggested by Joanna Penn, and others, is just shy of $1500 on every title.

My Marketing Budget
Between 2012-2014 it was only $1000; In 2015-2016 I raised the bar to $1500. In 2017, buoyed by the success of the second half of 2016, it became $2000.

Do you see why it’s vital for me to control my expenditure in every area possible? I am writing THREE titles per year. My outgoings on this first stage of the exercise could be as much as $7500; and that’s before I’ve even scheduled my first book promotion If you can afford much more, then good for you, but still watch where you spend it.

My strategy
Over the past sixteen months I’ve identified up to 75 promotion sites that claim to produce results. The costs vary, and if you go the cheap route, you will get downloads/sales, but you won’t set the world alight. Money talks. I selected maybe eight last summer, and raised my modest marketing budget to see if I could bring about a change of fortune. The ones I chose were a mix of moderately expensive, and cheap. Some were Twitter based promotions; some were email blasts to their client list, and some a combination of both.

The first six months of 2016 had yielded 1000 units. The second half of the year that figure shot up to 8000. I raised the budget bar further in January, and Freebooksy gave me a single day of over 3000 downloads of the first book in the series. At the end of August, my downloads/sales from a range of sites stand at 13000.

From now until December I’ll continue to spend $40 per week on average. My target for 2017 was 16000 units. My guess is I’ll be closer to 18000. For me, that’s outstanding. Remember where I was in January 2016? Ready to quit. I was doing everything the book promoters, and ‘How To’ writers said I should do (albeit on a shoestring) and I was lucky to achieve 20 units a week.

Can I call that successful? You bet. Could I spend $4000 or $5000 in 2018 and do even better? No idea. I’m not sure I could afford it, and if I could, are there any guarantees?

My strategy HAS to be low-cost, and low-risk. When you look at your own situation, you may realise that something similar might suit your pocket. If so, feel free to follow my tips and hints. Don’t disregard the ‘experts’ out there though, they will provide you with lots of great advice; but remember that you want to be lining your own pockets with cash – not theirs.

Proof of the pudding
I said earlier that you would hear about a bump in the road. I keep saying there are no guarantees. I tried an ‘ad-stacking’ experiment as suggested by Joanna Penn. My first box set was published a week ago. On the 30th August, I tried to get five promotions running on the same day, without changing my overall budget. Either side of the 30th, I spent next to nothing on promotions. Only $20 on the 14th August.

One of my five sites fell by the wayside because it demanded a minimum of 10 reviews. The 4 books in the set had over 60 between them, but that didn’t count. Go figure.

One is still to give me the date it will run the Spotlight I booked. So, $65 of my $160 commitment has yet to bring any results.

Three sites began the promotion yesterday. Bump. $95 spent; $40 back in royalties so far. So, for one of the biggest single days expenditure I’ve risked, my returns look to be falling short.

What if I had risked $5000 like Ms Penn on her ‘ad-stacking’ campaign to hit #1 on the Amazon best-sellers’ lists? My career, such as it is, would have been over, and possibly my marriage , if my returns had been so poor.

I’ve proved it’s possible to reach 18000 units in a year on $40 a week. If that’s a success for you too, then go for it.

I’ve got the box set now to use as a bargaining tool. My strategy is to generate downloads on Free days in a Countdown Deal, using my best performing promo sites. This time next year there could be 10000 to 15000 Free downloads out there of the first four books in the series. Will that give me a better chance of converting more first-timers’ into true followers? Not a clue. I live in hope. I can’t afford to do much more. It’s a long hard road. The bumps are many, but because my financial risk is low, these setbacks don’t deter me. I’ll keep plugging away, moving forward a little, day by day. The numbers don’t lie. The evidence is there – my strategy can produce an average 350 units a week. The more seeds of the series I sow – #1 Permafree; #1- #4 at a saving of 45% off list price, and occasionally Free in the box set – the more readers I can attract to the last 8 books in the series. #9 will be out in December. Three more next year, and then all my attentions will be focused on promotion. The writing will be done.

If you want regular updates on my books, and my progress along that long, hard road, why not join The Phoenix Club? The September Newsletter (#15) will be circulated very soon.

Penn and Ink

I mentioned in my last blog post that I was reading ‘How To Market A Book’ by Joanna Penn (@creativepenn). I finished it by the end of the first week in August. Then I wrote my review. This is what I posted on Amazon: –

Good advice – if you can afford it
It’s hard to argue with anything Joanna Penn says. If you’re just starting out on your writing journey, then this book will be a vital resource. If you have been at the game for several years you should have tackled (if not mastered) most of the basics she covers, but there are probably new tips between these covers she has spotted you can to add to your armoury.
My only reservation on giving the full five stars for this book are the financial implications involved, which are somewhat glossed over. Getting a professional cover designed, then having a full-length novel adequately edited, and formatted for publication can set you back a minimum of a thousand dollars.
There are free, and cheap promotion sites out there, as the writer points out, but they rarely deliver significant returns. Once you add in the extra costs of adverts on social media, whether Amazon, Twitter, or Facebook, then the financial commitment is significant.
In a ‘How To’ book such as this it’s necessary to cover a vast array of avenues, or ‘opportunities’, and as Ms Penn points out, you don’t have to do ALL of these things at once. Who can afford to anyway?
A newcomer needs to be aware just how much you might have to commit, if you are hell-bent on making a career out of writing. The statistics are readily available. Only a very small percentage of self-published writers are successful. Over ninety-percent will sell around fifty copies of their first book to family and friends, regardless of how many of the ‘essential’ items they tick off the list provided by writers like Joanna Penn.
You can only achieve so much by investing time too, instead of money, as she suggests, and who wants to spend virtually every waking hour searching for the right genre, the perfect set of keywords, and the promotion sites that give you a half-decent chance of a return on your investment?
The only people guaranteed to come out in front financially from a court case are the lawyers, as we are all aware. In the writing game, the cover designers, editors, book promoters, and advice experts can make a good living out of those who sweat blood trying to write the best books they possibly can. It’s a long, hard road, and although books like this appear to provide the answer, I would advise caution.
There is no magic bullet; and as in many other walks of life money talks the loudest. By all means, use this valuable resource as much as you can, but keep a running total of the rough cost of all the things you must do. Keep a close eye on your purse-strings, it can be expensive.

Now, I’m sure Joanna Penn, who lives only a few miles up the road from me, is a lovely lady. She HAS written best sellers under various pen names, so she’s more entitled than most to pass on her knowledge on how best to go about it. My point is that Joanna, and many others, will earn far more from this type of publication than perhaps only ONE PERCENT of the authors that buy into their ‘How To’ philosophy hoping to find the key to a golden future.

To support my claim that the ‘How To’ brigade are the ones really coining it in at your expense, Alex Newton (K-lytics) has just issued his detailed report on the non-fiction genre. It’s a growing market with over 780 million dollars spent in the past 12 months on self-help, skills and self-motivation books in the US alone. A healthy proportion of this sum was spent by authors hoping to learn ‘How To’ get their first best seller.

Can you be successful without it costing you a small fortune? I believe so. Your first step is to define what ‘success’ means to you. I’ll leave you to ponder that for a week or so, and then I’ll post again in early September with my suggestions for a low-cost, low-risk strategy to achieve a realistic level of book sales.

Before you ask, no, I don’t have a book to sell, nor will my suggestions cost you a cent. I clearly don’t have all the answers, or I would have achieved my own best seller by now. I merely want to share my own experiences with you, in order to save you time and money. I offer a helping hand; what have you got to lose by taking it?

Boxing Clever

How was July for you? A mixed bag I imagine, rather like it was for me.
The BBQ summer has been abandoned, as another disappointing spell of weather has gripped the UK.

We used to get warm rain when I was a boy on my school holidays, interspersed with wall-to-wall sunshine. Eventually, a thunderstorm would bring the magic to a violent end, but it was soon over, and normal service resumed.

These days the jet stream settles itself far lower, and as a result we get strong winds, blustery showers and cold rain instead of sunshine. Today, it’s more like October than the first few days of August. If only moving abroad was a viable option.

‘Evil Always Finds A Way’ was published towards the middle of July, and a couple of reviews have surfaced. I started on the promotion game as soon as I could, and there have been more successes than failures in the past month.
I did hit the 12000 downloads towards the end of July, just to reaffirm what I wrote in my last post, that money governs everything.

The week-long celebrations for my wife’s 65th birthday went extremely well. We had a terrific weekend away to start the ball rolling. The afternoon tea in Bath was scrumptious; and all the children, and grandchildren came to us on the following Saturday, for food and drink, and of course – the cake.

There’s nothing to be gained by sitting still. Book #9 will soon be started, but in the meantime other things should be reassessed. I’ve decided to issue a boxed set of Books 1-4 in The Phoenix series. It will be priced at $2.99 (a $2.50 saving on the list prices). I’m looking to use several promotion sites in an ad-stacking campaign. Lots of downloads on the same day is the target. That should give the overall series lots of exposure, and if that stimulates extra sales of books 5-8 (already priced at $2.99) that will help me finance promotions for the rest of the year.

As well as preparing the boxed set; I’ve overhauled the website, and shuffled the pack on my buffered Tweets. I’ve designed dozens of images for my Instagram account, and bought a K-lytics analysis of the Mystery, Thriller, Suspense genre to further assist in focussing my marketing. I’ve added to my knowledge on book promotion sites and which perform well in my genre. I’ve reviewed a dozen or so books, and am currently 80% of the way through ‘How To Market A Book’ by Joanna Penn (@creativepenn). So, I’ve not been idle.

Now, if the weather had been perfect… who knows how little I could have achieved? It’s an ill wind, they say. I’ll be back in September with an update. Keep warm and dry.

If you want regular updates on my books, why not join The Phoenix Club? The August Newsletter (#14) will be circulated in a few hours.

Write On

Within days of writing last month’s blog the fightback began.

I finished writing ‘Evil Always Finds A Way’ (#8 in The Phoenix series) at lunchtime today. Sixty thousand words, give or take, and packed full of drama and excitement.

I began the editing process this afternoon. Almost as soon as I started my broadband speeds hit the floor. Everything is taking six times longer than it should. If I scream part way through this post you know why.

Last month I told you about the successful promotions in May/early June and the Amazon Ads. This month I have little to report because if you’re writing, there’s no time to think about mundane items like selling books.

It doesn’t hurt to take a break from spending money on promos. It can be a reality check. I understand totally where I stand. If I spend £1500 -£2000 this year I’ll achieve 20-25000 downloads. If I quit now having spent just under £1000, then my year-to-date figure of 11000 will struggle to reach 12000.

Money governs everything. I feature on Twitter/Facebook/ and Instagram. Half a dozen other sites say they give me valuable exposure, but in the final analysis the only thing that stimulates downloads is the money I shell out for promotions.

I’m praying I can complete the editing, prepare the book for publishing, and get it out there by Friday week. That’s when we go away to start a week’s celebration. My wife will be 65 on Wednesday week (19th) and a long weekend in the Midlands is my first treat for her. We’re booked in for Afternoon Tea in the Royal Crescent, Bath on her birthday; then we plan to have all the family over on Saturday (21st).

Yes, there will be some promotion for the book launch, and the series, but writing will not start again until October. The summer holidays mean we’ll be looking after our grandsons two days per week in August. I’ll be too shattered to write!

If you want regular updates on my books, why not join The Phoenix Club? The July Newsletter (#13) will be circulated in a few hours.