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.

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.


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

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

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.

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.

Best Laid Plans

What is it they say about ‘best laid plans’?

One month on from my last blog post, and the next book in The Phoenix is no further forward. The plan now is to start in earnest on Monday; but will I stick to it?

So, what went wrong? Very little, in fact. The weather was fine and sunny for a week or two, so I read a lot of books in the garden, and posted my reviews on Amazon.

Now my wife is retired, we find the days slip by between the weekly visits to the supermarket so much quicker than they used to. Do we achieve much in the hours in between? A trip to the recycling centre here, a drive to the garden centre there for bedding plants; a general tidy-up in the garden and inside the house, followed by time with the kids and grandkids. The domestic and social whirl leaves little time for writing it appears.

Have there been negative signs this month that have discouraged me from locking myself away to write? Far from it; May has been my best month since January for downloads.

I ran a promo in the second week with a site that charged $29 to offer my ‘free’ title to up to 30 different sites for a feature. I’m not sure who, where or what was taken up, but that kick-started the increase in units with around 400 over the week.

Often when someone contacts you directly you are sensible to be wary. 99% of them are useless at best, and scammers at worst. I was approached by and after a few preliminary checks risked $24 on a feature. That proved to be another winner, generating just under 600 units in week three. That site has been added to my ‘go to list’.

Buoyed by that success, I returned to my ‘old favourites’ in week four. Freebooksy ran a one title feature last Wednesday and generated a further 1000 downloads. The Olympus Project shot back up to #2 in the Free Crime Thriller charts. Across all genres, it reached around #125. Happy days!

Next week, Booksends will hope to start June figures off with a bang. I haven’t been back to them since last August when they provided me with almost 1500 on a single day. Half that figure this time would be more than welcome.

The lack of writing progress has nothing to do with sales activity. Downloads have hit 10k for the first five months. With a following wind, July–June should hit 20k with ease. You only have to flip back to blog posts from Spring last year to see that a transformation has taken place.

One of the distractions over the last month has been Amazon. Nothing problematic; quite the opposite. I followed the suggestion of two writer friends to use Amazon’s Sponsored Product Ads. Twitter and Facebook ads are far more cumbersome to use, and less successful – for me, at any rate.

My first ad is coming to the end of its run, with the second hot on its tail. The quantity of impressions for my own selection of keywords were impressive, and the ‘clicks’ started to gather pace as I fine-tuned my bids, and added more keyword options. Readers of books by Fleming, Rankin, Child, and Slaughter have all seen ‘The Olympus Project’ pop up on their product pages. For a modest sum, the ad has raised my visibility, if nothing else.

The second ad will feature Amazon’s automatic selection of keywords; this will indicate areas I can use in future to supplement the ‘winners’ I discovered with my own humble effort. No, everything’s positive on the promoting/marketing front.

In the final analysis, the real reason behind the inertia is that I’ve been lazy. Mea culpa. I prayed for rain. It’s due in bucket loads from Monday; so, the plan must get back on schedule. 20 days at 3k words per day, and no excuses. Add an extra 10 days for edits, re-writes, proof reading, and the rigmarole of getting the thing published, and I can still make it by the end of July.

That leaves five months to keep the downloads coming in, the ads ticking over, and complete book #9. That was the 2017 plan after all. I may be three weeks behind; but all is not lost. Unless the sun returns on Tuesday! Watch this space.

If you want regular updates on my books, why not join The Phoenix Club? The June Newsletter (#12) will be circulated in a few hours.

Accentuate the positives

What was the question I asked last month? Have things quietened down? At the time it was two steps forward, one step back. In April, things came to a standstill. So, maybe after nine months of positivity, things had at last levelled out.

Positives remained though;

– I received a significant refund on the under-performing Books Butterfly feature. So far I haven’t ventured back to that site to decide where to spend it.

– The early reviews on ‘Something Wicked Draws Near’ have been extremely positive.

Do you remember how my writing journey began? My book of memories was published in paperback almost six years ago. Last year, while we were in Ibiza, one of my close friends from the band passed away.

Out of the blue, in early April one of his colleagues turned up on my doorstep looking for copies of the book. It has been out of print for several years, although it’s available on Kindle.

I unearthed one ‘used’ copy (in good nick) from Amazon, but several more were needed, so a short print run is in the offing. If you fancy a copy, just give me a shout.

I spent time in April too, searching for new sites to use during May and June. Results from the half-dozen sites I’ve had success with have been disappointing when I’ve returned the second/third time. That was when the negatives started to build! One Hundred Free Books and Robin’s Reads both turned down my request for a book feature. That was the first time that had happened. It was a wake-up call.

I spent a decent sum on a promo with Book Goodies during April, but returns were pathetic. Maybe it was just the wrong site, at the wrong time. I won’t be rushing back to try again.

My wife and I returned from our Ibiza holiday on Saturday; the weather was excellent, and a good time was had by all. Now it’s back to the grindstone. I’m starting ‘Evil Always Finds A Way’ #8 in the series tomorrow.

The holiday came at a good time. The negatives during April could have depressed me last year, or the year before; but the past nine months have convinced me things are still moving forwards. I just have to keep working harder to find the right sites to promote with, and to keep writing.

If you want regular updates on my books, why not join The Phoenix Club? The May Newsletter (#11) will be circulated in a few hours.