Thursday, March 21, 2013

The 'Post Select' Week

In all honesty, I had had it with Amazon Select.  I had decided it was a waste of time.  After trying an experiment at Christmas where I made my latest book free for four days and having somewhere in the region of 300 downloads in total I had decided that it was pointless.  I had spent almost a day emailing bloggers, including the big ones like Pixel of Ink and e-Reader News Today.  The big guys never picked me up, and it seemed that the hours emailing the others had proved fruitless.  In the first few days of the year, I had decided that Select and I, were through.

Then after the irritation of my perceived failure to even give my books away, I came up with a new theory.  Christmas, as we know is a crazy rush of sales.  Even walking into the local department store is overwhelming, as everything is price-slashed and mixed up together.  I love a bargain, but not even I can cope with this type of shopping.  So, I thought, perhaps Amazon was just a digital version of this.  Maybe everybody had thought they would cash in on the Christmas rush, and maybe Escaping Life just got caught up in the wave of free books all fighting for room to breathe.  

Two weeks ago today, on a whim, I decided to give the Amazon Select another chance. I set a two day free period to start on a Wednesday, and I emailed the two big advertisers mentioned above, along with a few other blogs and Facebook groups.  By the end of the first day, I had already exceeded the previous total, and had given away something like 1000 books.  This was progress, and I went to bed feeling quite happy that Escaping Life was sitting somewhere in the region of #1600 in the overall free chart on  

As the second day progressed, my frequency for number and ranking checking took on a whole new enthusiasm.  I watched it creep up further and further, and the downloads rose from 1000, to 1200, and then 1400, and then in the latter half of the day I realised that the book had made it to number 14 overall.  Surely this was enough to warrant an extra day?  Could it get higher?  I didn't know what to expect, but eagerly scheduled the next day anyway.

By the end of the third day I had given close to 4000 books away, 60% in the UK, another 30% in America, with the remaining 10% spread between the other sites.  The book made it to #11 in the overall free chart, and #2 in the subcategories 'women sleuths' and 'suspense'.  I was, to put it mildly, ecstatic.  Even more so when I realised that only two places ahead of me was Victor Hugo's Les Miserables.   (OK, I know this is irrelevant, but it seemed very exciting to be on the same page as that book.)  

Since then I have seen a steady stream of sales, most notably in the first few days.  Then this morning, something else happened.  Amazon emailed me.  Subject: Escaping Life.  My first thought was 'Oh God, what have I messed up?'  But I soon realised that it was a list of recommendations, and Escaping Life was the first book on the list.  They wondered if I might be interested in my own book.  You bet your life I am!

So my conclusions so far is this.  At the right time, and with a bit of effort on my part, Select can, and has worked.  I have had more sales this week then the last three months put together.  But the real question is not how many sales I have had so far, but rather, who else got that email?  Did many other people wake up with the an email from Amazon recommending Escaping Life this morning?  If Amazon are advertising my book in this way, this is certainly because of the success of Select.  Only time will tell if this email has gone out to many other book lovers, and if it results in sales.  But I am starting to wonder if using the free Select days might be the difference I was waiting for.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Author spotlight - R. E. Hargrave

For all of the adults out there, today I am sharing a new author with you.  R.E. Hargrave lives on the outskirts of Dallas, TX where she prides herself on being a domestic engineer. Married to her high school sweetheart, together they are raising three children from elementary age to college age. She is an avid reader, a sometimes quilter and now, a writer for Renaissance Romance Publishing. Her latest novel is a work of erotic fiction, and the cover, buy links, and description are here for you to get your claws into.

To Serve is Devine
Catherine O’Chancey is a reserved, demure, and graceful submissive. All traits she trained hard to enhance when she discovered the world of Dominance and submission in college. In an attempt to start fresh after the unexpected death of her last Dom, Catherine moves to Dallas, TX to escape the shroud of darkness he left behind in her life. She has tried to fight the need that resides deep within her to submit, but finally has to admit she can’t for it is not a choice, but part of who she truly is. After months of mental preparation, she ventures back into the lifestyle by attending a coveted open-night event at Dungeons and Dreams, an exclusive BDSM club.
Is it fate or coincidence that Catherine garners the attention of one of the club’s board members who happens to be on the hunt for the perfect sub – a partner who enjoys receiving pain and pleasure as much as he enjoys doling it out?
Jayden Masterson is many things: a firm Dom, a shrewd businessman, and a gentleman. What he isn’t, is someone who partakes in relationships outside of contractual ones with his multiple, un-collared, regular submissives. While he likes rough sex, he is not an animal, and can find pleasure only if it is consensual. What his harem is missing is a pain slut; could there be one in his future?
Upon meeting Catherine, Jayden feels an instantaneous spark inside him that has him wanting to know not just her body, but her mind. He wants to unravel her mysteries and discover her secrets. Through pain can they find the pleasure they seek? Can part-time pain lovers find full-time fulfillment when it’s not in their contract?

You can get your copy from Amazon here.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Author Spotlight: Nic Taylor

Nic grew up in Penzance, Cornwall and spent these formative years either hanging out on the beach surfing and diving or taking photographs. At the age of twenty he talked himself into a job as an architectural assistant with a prestigious practice in London and spent the next seven years designing banks and partying in the city. By the age of twenty seven, the wander lust hit him and he headed off to Montego Bay in Jamaica, there he both ran a diving school and freelanced as an architect for hoteliers.

For five years he managed to keep this up and himself narrowly out of trouble. Until after one too many close calls, he decided it was time to leave. He boarded a plane and headed for Singapore to visit a Singaporean girl he’d got to know.

Singapore or more pointedly the Singaporean girl managed to calm Nic down, somewhat, and for a dozen years he based himself out off Singapore working in various fields. He taught diving and escorted dive parties to remote locations throughout the South China Sea, the Indian Ocean and the Indonesian archipelago. He designed the odd hotel or two in the Maldives and Thailand and expanded his photographic repertoire to become one of the foremost photographers in the region. 

He also diversified, into the moving picture industry to eventually shoot several short films and documentaries including Burning Earth for the Discovery Channel. Where he spent many weeks camped out in the burning jungles of Borneo and hung out of helicopters with a camera on his shoulder. But he did find the time to get married to the same Singaporean girl and produce two sons, Adam born in 1996 and Dan a year later.

In 2003 he moved back to the UK and built a house overlooking the Wye River, on the outskirts of Ross on Wye, in Herefordshire. The move back to the UK was prompted by two very different reasons.

Firstly, the events in the US on the 11th September 2001 changed Asia; it had always been a lively place to live and work but the atmosphere had changed. Throughout Malaysia and Indonesia a pronounced  anti western attitude was taking hold, culminating in the Bali bombings at the Hard Rock Cafe, where Nic used to hang out along with his sons.

The second was his awakening to environmental issues.  The fires he filmed in Borneo were certainly one of the catalysts; another was the visible degradation of the oceans and reefs, he couldn’t help but notice. The coral bleaching of the Maldivian reefs, the raw sewage pumped into the ocean by hotel developers, mangrove swamps destroyed to make way for prawn farms and the over fishing, all of them taking a horrendous toll, and plain for anybody to see. All prompted him to be a part of the solution rather than ignore these issues as the majority of the planet seemed to be doing.

Armed with an idea inspired by villagers growing seaweed on one of his favourite remote islands groups Nusa Penida and Nusa Lembongan, he set about working on a concept. This concept entailed growing macro algae in marine farms along with fish and shellfish; the fish and shellfish already had a ready market and the macro algae could be processed to produce renewable fuels. 

Being the foolhardy and impetuous soul that he can be much of the time, Nic thought he could make this contribution on his own and set up a research company, Taylor Made Marine to work on his concept. The concept was good and he is still working on it today, although no longer alone but the financing of it was seriously flawed. And these flaws became evident in 2007, when the bank pulled the rug from beneath his property development company, developing sustainable and affordable housing, which provided the funding for the research. Resulting in the collapse of the company and seizure of his assets on which loans were secured.

Undeterred by this catastrophe, Nic whose marriage had also disintegrated, a consequence of the stress but not before having another child this time a daughter named Shakira, moved to Plymouth. In Plymouth he joined forces with Plymouth University to continue with his research and work towards a PhD.

 Nic now spends his time equally divided between his research, the Plymstock Oaks Rugby Club, where he coaches the Under 15’s, runs several projects including coaching rugby to the disabled and using rugby as social inclusion vehicle to get kids off the streets. And his writing, his first book “A Plague of Dissent” has just been published and he is presently working on the sequel, Gaia’s Warriors.
The Plague of Dissent is available on Amazon and Smashwords now!
Reviews for A Plague of Dissent
"Nic Taylor knows how to deliver edge of your seat excitement, and he does it beautifully in A Plague of Dissent. His masterful prose and intimate knowledge of crime fighting in the UK is on par with Ian Fleming. Every scene is so well described, throughout, that I felt like I was right there. It's a consummate storyteller that he is!5.0 out of 5 stars

"If you love a fast paced thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat, with sex, lies and media hacking - this is the book for you!" 5.0 out of 5 stars

Monday, March 4, 2013

Inspiring Blogger award!

Awards season is coming to a close with the passing of the Oscars, and the hype of who wore what, who gave the worst/best speech, who cried, who deserved it and who didn't, and undoubtedly it will all fade into memory as quick as Anne Hathaway's Prada (not Valentino) dress.  So when I discovered today that as far as I am concered awards season is still very much here, I was both shocked, a little humbled, and a lot excited. 

It would appear that somebody thinks I deserved an award for my blog, which for me is really quite exciting.  Why so exciting?  Well, most of my friends think I am on facebook all day, my family probably just think I am poor and gave up a perfectly good career, the rest of society thinks I sit in a rather self-indulgent fashion smoking and drinking coffee, or whisky, or both, when actually, the reality is that it's just me at home or in the office on my own with a cup of tea, working hard, and with a repetative strain injury in my right hand.  But before you crack out the violins, I wouldn't have it any other way.  Another writer understands this, and so to be nominated by a fellow writer makes this award even the more exciting!  So thank you Laekan who nominated me.

But there are also rules. 
  1. I have to thank the person who nominated you.  (Check)
  2. I have to tell you guys, the readers, seven interesting things about myself.  (OK, thinking)
  3. Share seven other bloggers that I appreciate and enjoy reading about.  (Easy)
  4. Leave a comment on their blog so they know about it.  (Simple!)
So, in order to start as instructed, here are seven things about me that you might not know.  I hesitate to say that they are interesting.
  1. I love cooking.  Especially baking.  I do not claim to be good at it, but I haven't had too many complaints either.  When I do it, I speak to myself in the voice of Ina Garten from the Barefoot Contessa.
  2. I once dived with sharks.  Big ones.
  3. I speak Greek with an accent that at times is English and at times Cypriot, and always greatly amusing.  In fact, it would seem I have never been so funny without really trying.
  4. When I was a child I was in a marching band and travelled around Europe playing the euphonium.
  5. I had to wear a head brace to make my teeth straight.
  6. I won every fancy dress contest that I ever entered.
  7. After doing a parachute jump, I wanted to throw up for the next six hours.
So, without keeping the award going it is pointless, so let's tell you about some other bloggers who I think deserve it.
  1. Kristan Hoffman
  2. Cherie Reich
  3. Jason Garrett
  4. Faye, at daydreamers thoughts
  5. Lori, at The Next Best Book Blog
  6. Jenn, at Genuine Jenn
  7. Rose Pryimak
Plus, I have to tell them about it by leaving a comment on their blog!  I am off to do just that.  Thanks again Laekan!!!!