The Final Countdown.

Barring an alien invasion, in which Martians coordinate their ships to fire bolts of plasma energy upon the world’s sources of electricity thereby destroying life as we know it, tomorrow should see the release of Particular Stupidities (Romney and Marsh File #5).

Two days ago I received an email from Amazon informing me that there were some formatting issues with the book that needed my attention. I can’t speak for other self-publishers but when I get an email from Amazon telling me to do something I feel the need to drop everything, sprint home, fire up the aging laptop, do it, then email them back to let them know how happy I was to respond to their wishes in full. No trouble at all. I regard Amazon as my employers these days and I don’t want to disappoint them and face consequences, sanctions: banishment to the self-publishing wilderness temporary or otherwise, for example. ( I can be a bit dramatic on occasion.)

I looked at my employer’s suggestions and decided that I was happy with my way of doing things but because they are Amazon I was going to comply. In any case, earlier this week I made the mistake of opening up the word document of this book and reading the first few chapters, just to see how it still grabbed me. I found a couple of words that I’d repeated close to each other (that irritates me in a text when there are usually so many synonyms available to choose from) and I thought I might as well take the opportunity to change those while I was carrying out Amazon’s instructions. But I couldn’t. I couldn’t make any changes. The book’s editing option was locked. I was locked out of my own book. My bowels made themselves known to me.

I double-checked the date. OK. No problem. I could email Amazon and they could sort things out. They are always very good at communication – friendly, helpful and prompt. I emailed them. They emailed me back – friendly and promptly – letting me know that there was nothing to be done. Apparently, Amazon’s policy is that when a book is on pre-order it is locked down, protected from all influence and interference, for the three days prior to its release date. My sweat ran cold and freely from every pore followed by the threat of things hot and messy running freely from other places I was struggling to maintain control of.

When I recovered from my swoon my first thought, after exhausting my extensive repertoire of Anglo-Saxon swear words and checking my underwear, was why would they email me with things that need to be done at a time when I can’t do them? My mind was then immediately filled with ‘what if’ scenarios. What if I’d found something very wrong on a final, final check that I hadn’t been able to resist? A wrong name, a missing paragraph, a ‘proper’ formatting issue? I would not have been able to gain access to my book and make the necessary changes. All those pre-orders would go out across the world carrying the errors and the damage to my reputation would be cataclysmic, a bit like what those alien invaders could do to the world. Only worse.

As I said above, I’m happy with the way the book looks (apart from those two words that I really do want to change). But hang on… what if there are other issues? I didn’t read past the first five chapters. Did I thoroughly, thoroughly check everything before I uploaded it? I think I did. I’m sure I did. Didn’t I? Did I? I can’t look now. To find something else, something significantly disastrous, something that I could not rectify because my book is locked down would probably finish me as a fully functioning human being.

My current state of unease exists because I’ve gone the pre-order route with this book. It’s the first time I’ve done that. It’s worth repeating that Amazon insists on having the final copy submitted ten days before publication date. I fully understand why. But for self-publishers like me – mind like a sieve, memory of a goldfish, total responsibility for everything mine – the experience can become quite… agonizing. Anxiety levels quickly move up the scale towards panic attack when the eleventh hour approaches and the doubts and worries stampede in.

Of course, the answer is quite simple and obvious: do everything properly, thoroughly, in good time and then check, check and check again before pressing upload. And I’m sure I did. Except that did I?

Still available for the special pre-order price of only 99p (or the US $ equivalent). This will increase to £1.99 the day after publication.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Particular-Stupidities-Romney-Marsh-Files-ebook/dp/B0105YO1F0/ref=pd_sim_351_4?ie=UTF8&refRID=1Q7480QTR9HMGD6WX4KF

http://www.amazon.com/Particular-Stupidities-Romney-Marsh-Files-ebook/dp/B0105YO1F0/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1438164700&sr=8-1&keywords=particular+stupidities

Eight days and counting!!!

Only eight days until Particular Stupidities (Romney and Marsh File #5) hits the virtual shelves. It’s still available for the special pre-order price of 99p. On the same date (30th July) I’m also the focus of an author Q&A over at the excellent and fast-growing Facebook group Crime Book Club run by the wonderfully supportive and energetic Louise Hunter. I’m doubly excited and doubly anxious in equal measure.

In response to my last blog-post, in which I expressed concern that I’m not finding (making) any writing time while I’m on holiday back ‘home’, I had a comment suggesting that it was likely the visit would still be useful to me in a number of ways, not least of which was reassociating myself with the area in which I base most of my books. How true that is. As well as the day-to-day living here where I’ll just absorb things through a kind of osmosis I’ve had a couple of more deliberate and direct experiences to share.

Outside

Outside

I attended a talk in one of Romney Marsh’s fourteen medieval churches. (Fourteen! That seems quite a high number to me for the size of the Marsh. There are four recorded ruined churches here, too.) The talk was held at St George in Ivychurch and was titled: Tracing Your Ancestors Through Death Records. It was fascinating and I’d have been glad to attend in any case. There’s a great pub next door, too. (Link to the speaker at the bottom of the page. [And the pub]).

Inside

Inside

I was there because another reader who keeps in touch let me know about it and suggested it might be of some use to me in my writing. Thanks to him. It was a spookily serendipitous suggestion, actually, because I had been kicking around a Booker & Cash plotline about someone getting in touch with Jo Cash to see if she’d be interested in some historical detective work – locating ancestors type stuff. In that respect the talk was really useful and the speaker was happy to follow up with a very detailed emailed handout. I’m that much more excited about getting stuck into the writing project. (It must have been a good talk – I bought the book.)

I’m not a remotely religious person, in fact I’d go as far to say that I am a practising atheist, but I do find churches special and interesting places. The architecture, the times they’ve lived through, the graveyards and the history attached to them all combine to make them buildings I’m always happy to while away some time investigating their features and enjoying the surroundings.

It was my first visit to St George church. Having just Googled the link for the Marsh churches’ trust I’m encouraged to visit a few more before I push off back to Turkey.

Again, rather serendipitously, one of Dymchurch’s oldest living sons (He’s in his nineties and still gets about courtesy of his mobility scooter.) dropped by the other day to let me know that the Dymchurch Heritage Group had their meeting and reference room open for a couple of hours. I went along to discover an Aladdin’s cave of fantastic material related to Dymchurch history. I couldn’t help seeing future Booker & Cash stories everywhere. Again, I became quite excited with possibilities. The custodians on duty were fantastically helpful and generous with offers of access to their material.

So, yes, I might not be writing but simply being back in Booker & Cash country could prove to be worth it to me the writer as well as me the human being.

(I’m writing this on the laptop in the lounge while my youngest sleeps off the bracing morning walk in the breezy sunshine on the new sofa. He looks so angelic when he’s dozing. He’s just caught my attention because he’s obviously dreaming about doing something energetic – his little limbs are twitching. He now has my full attention and I’m not smiling indulgently anymore. I’m experiencing mild panic. I’ve just noticed a large dark patch on the upholstery underneath him that wasn’t there when I put him down. I just have to hope that his mum doesn’t come home before he wakes up and I’ve had a chance to flip the cushion. A spray of Glade and it’s our secret.)

Some links:

http://rmhct.org.uk/

http://www.heritagefamilyhistory.co.uk/

http://www.dymchurchheritagegroup.co.uk/

http://www.thebellinnromneymarsh.co.uk/

Why I can’t live in the UK.

Sometimes in order to fully appreciate something one needs to go without it for a while. That’s how it is with me and my home. I’m talking about Romney Marsh. Six years I’ve lived abroad and I’m finally coming round to the idea that the place I left has a lot going for it. (That’s probably just as much a reflection of Istanbul as it is anything.) Regarding home, I think that familiarity bred, not contempt, but something approaching it. Shame on me. And so it is with no small amount of sadness and irony that I say, even though I quite like it here these days I don’t think I can live here again.

My ‘About Me’ page on this blog says: When I lived in the UK, I tried a couple of times to write, but with the responsibility of property and family and work and the distractions of television and radio and newspapers and people I never got anywhere with it. Nothing’s changed, I’ve found. I’m here on holiday at the moment. Been here just over two weeks. A couple to go. And I haven’t stopped. Mostly, I haven’t stopped enjoying myself. Having a four year old who loves the outdoors helps. If we’re not enjoying the miles of Dymchurch’s golden sands we’re down the local park or on the RHDR or in a rowing boat on the Royal Military Canal or in the garden playing a ball game. We spent a fantastic today at Port Lympne wildlife reserve. Tomorrow he’s having a party.

I’m playing tennis. (I got to go to Wimbledon this year – as a spectator.) I play football once a week and then we hit the pub afterwards. Tomorrow I’m digging out the push-bike for a cycle. I run on the beach. Too many evenings I’m spending working my way through five seasons of Breaking Bad and bottled ale.

I’m cooking because I want to. I’m eating for pleasure. I’m enjoying some decent booze. I can’t remember the last time I shaved or wore a pair of long trousers. As a retirement present I bought myself that watch I was looking at a few months ago. (No one else was going to buy it for me and I reckoned that the time I put in at the chalk face deserved something special by way of commemoration.) I’ve stopped wearing it. Who cares what the time is when you’re on holiday and enjoying life?

I’m also gutting a flat in preparation for refurbishment. I’m enjoying that physical graft too.

About the only thing I don’t have time for is writing. And these days, after jacking in the day job, I’m supposed to be writing for a living. I repeat: I don’t think I can live back home again – too many distractions.

I have read two books since I’ve been back. To be precise, I’ve read the same book twice. It’s called Particular Stupidities. It’s my next release in the Romney and Marsh Files, just in case you’re new to this blog. Each read-through led to a number of revisions – mostly just ‘better’ ways to put things. I’ve also lost a few hundred words more. Two days ago, after having done the formatting and got it Kindle-ready, I decided that two read-throughs was enough and I uploaded it to Amazon. (In all honesty I believe that if I read it another ten times I’d find things to change every time.)

It was quite a relief to get it off my hands, especially with Amazon’s deadline for the submission fast approaching. (The book is out on the 30th July but Amazon wanted the final copy ten days before that date: no later than the 20th July. If you miss their deadline you forfeit the right to make use of the pre-order facility for a year. Yikes! I quite understand why Amazon can’t afford to be buggered about by publishers, self or traditional, but they sure made me anxious as the date approached – they were emailing reminders more frequently and the language was becoming a little more… insistent with each email. Or that may have been my imagination.)

This is the first title of mine that I have made available for pre-order. Until publication day a copy can be snapped up for 99p. Then it’ll go up to £1.99 like the others. I think that the current price has been a major factor that has kept the book hovering around the top twenty of the British Detective chart. Whatever, it’s had plenty of visibility, which has to be a good thing. I don’t know how many copies have been pre-ordered because Amazon doesn’t seem to make that information available on my sales account page until the day of release. I’m guessing that on release day, when everyone who has pre-ordered gets their copy the grand total will be revealed to me.

I like to catch up on some reading during the summer. I made a start on that resolution today by opening up a copy of A Touch of Frost by RF Wingfield. (A few readers of my books have mentioned the Frosts as good reads with some laughs.) I’m a hundred pages in and it’s OK. Of its time (1990) I think it would be fair to say. (Some of my more critical readers have expressed disapproval for aspects of DI Romney’s character and behaviour, especially  towards women. If you haven’t read any Frost books, take my word for it – Frost makes Romney look like a feminist. Even I’m cringing at some of the things he says and ‘thinks’. [I do understand that twenty-five years ago things would have been a lot different and that Frost is probably representative of the policing and cultural times.])

It’s twelve days until release day of Particular Stupidities. Like each of the other books I’ve put out, as publication day looms I’m experiencing a creeping nervousness over whether the book will please readers of the R&M Files. Reflecting on the book led me to consider what I hope to deliver to my readers with this one. My answer is this: a murder mystery, a few laughs, a worthy addition to the Romney and Marsh Files and maybe a bit of food for thought. Ambitious? We’ll see.

I hope that everyone is having a great summer.

Self-promotion: like most things, it’s who you know that counts.

A week ago I listed Particular Stupidities (R&M File #5) as available for pre-order from Amazon. For the first time in my self-publishing career (better late than never) I then went on to make a bit of a nuisance of myself on social-media. My aim was to raise awareness in the hope that readers would pre-order the book and in turn get it up the Amazon charts and noticed, maybe even attract the interest of Amazon’s recommended reading list that it emails out to readers. When one is releasing a new book, it’s definitely a list you want to get on.

As well as putting out a blog-post and linking it to my Facebook and Twitter accounts I sent a lot of tweets to a lot of Twitter accounts that I’d chosen because I hoped they might be suggestible. (For fun, I even tweeted a couple of best-selling authors whose names popped up on the screen as I was networking away.) I learned something from the exercise that is worth sharing with others who might be seeking self-promotion ideas.

The response from readers who follow the blog and are Facebook and Twitter friends of mine was very encouraging. Once again, a massive and heartfelt thank you to everyone who not only pre-ordered a copy of the book but who then went on to share my links with their own lists of friends on social media sites. As I’ve already blogged since listing the book it briefly broke into Amazon’s top 1000 list (I’m pretty sure that was a first for one of my books.) It’s drifted out now, currently @ #1825, which is still good. I’m certainly not complaining.

The dozens and dozens of hopeful tweets to unknowns (ebook promoters, readers I don’t know, the famous authors and just about every news media outlet involved in the south-east where the R&M Files are set) only achieved one retweet (thanks to Whitstable Live), which makes the effort seem generally wasted. I tweeted all the newspapers local to the R&M Files and didn’t get one retweet or reply. Total waste of time #justsaying. 

I admit to having been a poor self-promoter. I still am – it’s an energy thing. Going on the evidence, such as it is, I would have done well to have taken a leaf out of the books of other successful self-promoting authors and organised a mailing list that readers could subscribe to. I could then have emailed directly all those readers who would have signed up to being notified of my forthcoming releases. I’m sure it would have been a smart move for me the self-publishing author. Will I do it now?

All that said, it’s my understanding that there is no greater boost for an author’s chance of downloads than to get onto Amazon’s radar. If a title comes to Amazon’s notice as something people are downloading in significant numbers then Amazon get behind you and make you more visible – the more you sell the more they make. Why am I now thinking about Joseph Heller?

Writers are nothing without readers.

Just a quick post tonight.

I’d like to express my sincere gratitude to all those who have downloaded, supported and shared R&M File #5. Tonight is the first time one of my books has broken into the top 1000 on Amazon sales chart. Currently it is @ #989 and I’m chuffed to bits.

Sincere thanks to all.

Writers are nothing without readers.

Particular Stupidities (R&M#5) available for discounted pre-order.

    TAKING A LIFE IS EASY. GETTING AWAY WITH IT CAN BE MURDER.

TAKING A LIFE IS EASY. GETTING AWAY WITH IT CAN BE MURDER.

Particular Stupidities (Romney and Marsh File #5) is back from my gentleman friend. Thanks to him for a quick turn around of the book. Now I need to get cracking on reading it through again (probably a couple of times), formatting, and the myriad other tasks that go along with self-publishing a book. Good job I’ve got a week of doing nothing before we quit Istanbul.

I mentioned here recently that I would try the Amazon pre-order option with this title. See links for UK and US at the bottom of the page. Release date will be Thursday 30th July. I know that seems a long way off when I already have the book back but I have my reasons (good or otherwise).

One of my better reasons is that Thursday, 30th of July is the date I’ll be hosting my author chat with Crime Book Club (See previous post). I thought I’d combine the two dates. You might also notice that the pre-order price for this one is a mere £0.99 in the UK and $1.57 in the US. I will be changing that to the usual £1.99/$3.01. on Friday 31st July so grab a bargain while you can. I’m just trying something different.

One area of my self-publishing that I’ve been found wanting is self-promotion. I intend to devote more time and energy to that now that I have the time to. I need to. So expect to see more of that kind of thing here and elsewhere. (Apologies in advance.)

If you buy a copy and have Twitter or something like it, I’d really appreciate you spreading the word. Readers’ word of mouth is vitally important to self-published authors.

And here’s the revised blurb:

A rotting corpse is discovered in one of Kent’s old coal mining communities. In their search to uncover the identities of the victim and those responsible for the death and concealment of the body DI Romney and his team must confront and deal with issues of prejudice, bias, loyalty and betrayal (and that’s just amongst themselves). 

The fifth Romney and Marsh File sees Dover CID taken to the outskirts of their jurisdiction, the edge of reason and the brink of self-destruction.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Particular-Stupidities-Romney-Marsh-Files-ebook/dp/B0105YO1F0/ref=sr_1_14?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1434977432&sr=1-14&keywords=oliver+tidy

http://www.amazon.com/Particular-Stupidities-Romney-Marsh-Files-ebook/dp/B0105YO1F0/ref=sr_1_9?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1434977659&sr=1-9&keywords=oliver+tidy

An evening with…

dinner

https://www.facebook.com/groups/CrimeBookClub/

Some great news to share. Crime Book Club (link above) has invited me to take part in an online author chat session at the end of July. Currently the group has over 1500 members. I’m very excited. It’s a terrific opportunity to raise awareness regarding my writing.

The group is free to join. (You need to join it, and then be approved, to have access to all the features. Then go to ‘Upcoming Group Events’ and ‘See All’ and there I am.)

As well as crime readers sharing and discussing their views on what they’re reading they also hold those regular author chats. Nıkki Owen and best-selling Rachel Abbott coming up soon. And then I’m in the firing line. Gulp!

It has been suggested that I might like to run a quiz about my books or do a give-away or something fun. I’ve decided that I’m going to do a quiz. The prize will be a candlelit dinner for two at a lovely restaurant I’ve discovered in the Caribbean. (See T&Cs below.)

T&Cs

The lucky winner must pay for everything including meals, unlimited champagne, accommodation in a five star hotel for me and my mum (separate rooms. Make that separate hotels. She will also probably want to join the lucky winner and me for dinner.) Oh, and of course first class return travel to Istanbul for two.

Excited? I know I am.