Wednesday, 16 October 2013
Friday, 11 October 2013
Saturday, 7 September 2013
I will be making an appearance at my friend's Holistic Fayre on Saturday 21st September. I'm mainly there to help out but I will also be handing out flyers and other goodies about my books. If you're in the Croydon area and you have one of my books and would like it signed, feel free to come down and say hello. You can also have some groovy treatments and therapies done too while you're there.
I will be there from 11am - 4pm. Feel free to contact me via this blog for more details.
Saturday, 29 December 2012
Saturday, 24 March 2012
I have to confess I knew little about the Titanic before the film in 1998. To me, it was always just the ship that hit the iceberg and sank, and a source of fascination for my oldest friend, Lynn, who was slightly obsessed with it! I sort of saw the film because everyone else was, and I was blown away – not by the cheesy love story, but by the fact that there was more to the Titanic than just the ship that sank. It came to symbolise the end of the Victorian era, and the values that English society had been built upon. Even as far back as 1998, I wondered how a First Class passenger, sitting in one of the many half-empty lifeboats would have felt, hearing the screams and cries for help of those who were doomed, just because they had been born poor. Of course, two years after the Titanic sank, came the First World War, when suddenly the very rich and the very poor were fighting alongside each other and the divisions of class started to erode. The poor found a voice, and after sacrificing so much for King and country, found it harder to return to bowing and scraping to those ‘above them’.
But first came the Titanic, and after a century of industrialisation, when machines transformed how we lived and worked, it could be argued that these metal gods were seen as infallible; and the Titanic came to represent man’s absolute faith in that which had been manufactured. The disaster came to show that when push comes to shove, Mother Nature can defeat anything that is man-made. I would imagine that by mid-April 1912, society would have felt the jolt when the ‘unsinkable’ ship was knocked out by an iceberg, and along with it, those who survived could speak of the horrific prejudices that prevented the poor from being saved.
I had no intention of writing a book based around the Titanic disaster – quite frankly it had been done to death; until, for a birthday present, I took Lynn to the Titanic Artefacts exhibition at the O2 in 2010, and I read the story of a woman who snatched a baby from another passenger just to get onto a lifeboat, refusing to hand it back for several days afterwards, claiming it was hers. Reading this, my vivid imagination came into play, and I wondered what it would be like if that happened, and the other woman refused to hand the baby back full stop. I originally wanted to write it as a sort of Agatha Christie-style murder mystery, where a woman is killed and it’s revealed she was the true mother of this rich man blah blah. It didn’t work, so I returned to my normal ‘romance’ genre – although there is very little traditional romance in Never Forget.So many books and films based around the Titanic focus on what happened before, and during the disaster; but I’ve always wondered what happened to those people who survived. These were the days when Post Traumatic Stress Disorder was unheard of, and people just ‘had to get on with it’. To witness such a horrific accident would affect survivors forever and their lives would never be the same. I thought it would be far more interesting to write a book about the aftermath of the Titanic, and so Never Forget came to be. The story of two women from very different walks of life, who are brought together during one of the most extraordinary events in modern history, and from a random act – one woman snatching the baby of the other, their lives become intrinsically linked. The book spans from 1911 to 1940, and touches upon subjects like the First World War, the increasing power of America, the growth of the Socialism, women’s rights and finally the Second World War. So my book is about more than just a ship that sank. And indeed the Titanic itself was more than just the ship that sank. To me, it was the end of an era, and the start of modern society as we know it.
Tuesday, 21 February 2012
One of the best things I've ever done is publishing with Smashwords, their distribution network is fantastic, and as I stated before, I discovered, by chance that my free books were flying off the shelves on Barnes and Noble. I received a lovely comment on my website from a lady comparing me to Lesley Pearse, and she had read my books on Kobo, which they never would have appeared on should I have stayed purely with Amazon. In my opinion, offering free books is the best way of introducing yourself to an audience. Look at this way, take a pop-star such as Adele. She is a major success on both sides of the Atlantic, but in the UK, her big breakthrough came at last year's Brit Awards, when she gave such a moving performance of 'Something Like You', people sat up and took notice. If 5 million people watched the Brits, let's break it down and say that three million had it on as background noise, one million hated Adele, and one million loved her. Of that one million, five hundred thousand would no doubt go out the next day and buy her album '21' and possibly'19' too. They tell their friends, who didn't watch the Brits and it escalates from there. All that started with someone watching her performance for free, on their television.
The same goes for books. Unless you’re already established, or else a TV or media celebrity, without the aid of major public relation campaigns and a huge marketing budget, no-one is going to know who you are or that you've published a book. Whereas if you publish a book for free, even if you get 1000 downloads, discount 500 of those, because people just love free books and don't bother to read them. But of those 500 that are left, even if 200 people don't rate your books, you are left with 300 people who want to read more of what you done. Who have friends, family and colleagues they will recommend you to. This isn't going to happen without them finding you in the first place.
I contacted Amazon, pointing out that Maudie, Mrs Osbourne Regrets and Winner Takes it All are all free on Smashwords, B&N, Kobo, Sony, iTunes etc and asked if they could price match for a while, and I received a generic reply saying they controlled the pricing of their books and that they use their discretion. In other words – get stuffed! They are shooting themselves in the foot. They don't know if I'm a rubbish writer, or the next Catherine Cookson, but if they took a chance and made my books free for a week, there is always that chance that people would love my work and go on and buy other books - all of which Amazon takes a cut from. But they're not interested. Here in England they have the monopoly on online book sales and know they don't need the likes of me to boost their coffers.
Well, it's their loss, but it does sadden me that I am missing out on readers in my home country because Amazon do nothing to help promote authors who won't play ball with them. I'll goon buying things with them, and downloading books onto my Kindle. I'll even upload ‘Julia’ onto Kindle on 5th March when it's released. But I won't expect anyone to notice it. I'll just wait for it to come out on Nook.
Thursday, 16 February 2012
Either way, the giving away of free books certainly seems to work. It’s fairly lazy marketing, but I can only shout out how good my books are, so often and also people need to see proof of the pudding, and the only way they’re going to do that is by reading them. Facing redundancy, it’s good to see that there is light at the end of the tunnel, and just maybe, my book sales are on the increase. It’s a slow process, because unlike a song which is instant, books take time to read, and a thousand other things get in the way. I wouldn’t recommend offering free books if you’ve only published one book, because by the time people have read it – if you haven’t got another one to offer – they’re likely to forget about you. I would say it’s only a good idea if you have a whole arsenal of books on offer, and also the ones you do offer for free, try and link them to something else. I’m giving away Maudie, which is book one of a trilogy (the other two aren’t free), or Winner Takes it All, which is the sequel to Summerset, and as I said before, more likely to entice people to buy the original book.
Sceptics will laugh, but many years ago I went to see a palm reader, who told me that my success in life would come overseas and I poo-poohed it, not being one of life’s travellers. But of course, the whole self-publishing phenomenon has been driven by America, and so my outlets have become mainly based in the US. In America I have had thousands of downloads, and lots of people know my name. Here in England, I still have work colleagues who don’t even know I write! Maybe the psychic is right and my literary success will be in the States. Whatever happens, I feel more positive about the future, and this is down largely to giving away free ebooks. And for anyone who has more than three books to offer, I would say certainly consider it. But please, make sure you edit the book first, one thing I have come across, being a Kindle owner is the awful amount of typos in self-published book, making the most well-written book appear shoddy and un-readable.