Tuesday 27 March 2018

You Know What Frustrates Me About Book Marketing?

The fact that I have to keep doing it.

So I run a marketing campaign for one of my books. A newsletter feature, AMS, Twitter, or Facebook ad, it doesn't matter.

The ad runs, and I get a couple of sales of that book. Typically not enough to actually pay for the ad in question, but I figure book marketing's more about brand awareness anyway, right?

My Amazon rank shoots up a couple of hundred thousand places for a day or two, and then... nothing. Crickets. No reviews are forthcoming, nobody recommends the book, and all indications are that nobody even reads them. Within a week, that book's rank on the Amazon US store is over a million again.

I guess it's not too surprising when I consider how I as a reader react to promos: when I see a promo for a book that looks interesting, I click through (which costs the author money, if they're running a pay-per-click ad). Unless it's a really interesting book, or a really good price, I probably don't buy it on the spot.

Instead, I head on over to Goodreads and add it to my "to-read-to-get" shelf (if I did buy it outright, or it was free, I instead add it to my "to-read-i-have-it" shelf).

As I finish books, I pick new ones to read off those shelves, and unless I'm really looking forward to reading a particular book, that next one is chosen at random. I have over 750 books on my combined "to-read" shelves, so it could be a long time before I buy/read that book I saw on promo. Sometimes a year or more.

At least after I have read it, though, I always leave a review!

So yes, it's understandable, if other readers have similar processes, but as an author, it can still be frustrating.

As a reader, how do you react when you see books on promotion?

As an author, have you also experienced my frustration?

Tuesday 20 March 2018

It's Interesting What People Buy on Amazon

As you may know, I'm a member of the Amazon Affiliate Program, so most times, when I share a link to a book on Amazon, it's an affiliate link. That means I get a commission if you click through and buy anything.

The thing is, people often click through, and what they end up buying isn't anything like what you were advertising.

Case in point, I got commission on two purchases this month, for Kindle books that I've never heard of before. Maybe you'll enjoy them too? Click the covers to find out where you can buy them.

The Glass Spare by Lauren DeStefano

The first in a new fantasy duology, The Glass Spare is a gorgeously told tale of love, loss, and deadly power from Lauren DeStefano, the bestselling author of the Chemical Garden series. Perfect for fans of Shannon Hale and Renee Ahdieh.

Wilhelmina Heidle, the fourth child and only daughter of the king of the world’s wealthiest nation, has grown up in the shadows. Kept hidden from the world in order to serve as a spy for her father—whose obsession with building his empire is causing a war—Wil wants nothing more than to explore the world beyond her kingdom, if only her father would give her the chance.

Until one night Wil is attacked, and she discovers a dangerous secret. Her touch turns people into gemstone. At first Wil is horrified—but as she tests its limits, she’s drawn more and more to the strange and volatile ability. When it leads to tragedy, though, Wil is forced to face the destructive power within her and finally leave her home to seek the truth and a cure.

But finding the key to her redemption puts her in the path of a cursed prince who has his own ideas for what to do with Wil’s power.

With a world on the brink of war and a power of ultimate destruction, can Wil find a way to help the kingdom that’s turned its back on her, or will she betray her past and her family forever?

Murder On Magazine by Julie Smith


"Julie Smith writes like jazz should sound—cool, complex, and penetrating right to the heart.” -Val McDermid, best-selling author of the Tony Hill series

The TENTH installment of the Skip Langdon series is a New Orleans feast for the senses, a canine love story, an action-packed police procedural made-to-order for readers who like their female sleuths bold, smart, and refreshingly human. A serial killer is using Airbnb units to stage his murders, but a teenage runaway has escaped his grasp and now she's in the wind, believing she's killed him. Meanwhile the real killer stalks the city – and her.

Cody, the pink-haired sixteen-year-old, should be in school or at the mall texting her friends, not hanging out at the intersection of serial murder and human trafficking. When the options are: (1) Return to a life of slavery (2) Go to jail for murder (3) Be killed by a serial killer, Option 4 makes perfect sense – RUN! As mean as the streets of The City That Care Forgot can be, this child attracts angels (often unlikely ones) – and entire packs of dogs – who come to her aid.

She also finds a friend in NOPD’s newest Sergeant – big (six-foot!), beautiful, tough, and tender-hearted Skip Langdon. Skip knows her best hope of finding the killer is to find Cody – plus she feels for the girl, in whom she recognizes a younger version of her plucky, resourceful, whip-smart self. The city’s hard-boiled; the detective has a heart the size of the Superdome.

Longtime Skip Langdon fans who’ve thirsted for #10 will be delighted to hear the music of New Orleans in Smith’s prose. Fans of female-sleuth authors like Sue Grafton, Marcia Muller, and Linda Barnes, will love Skip Langdon’s pluck and charm. And those who particularly favor female cop stories, especially those by Nevada Barr, Lisa Gardner, Tana French, J.D. Robb, Karin Slaughter, Tess Gerritsen, and Anne Hillerman will find a new fave here.

“If you haven't discovered Smith yet, now is the time to do so… Move over, Sara Paretsky.” --KPFA-FM (Berkeley, CA)

“If it’s gritty realism you’re craving, gently simmered with spicy suspense and marvelously memorable characters, Smith is the perfect New Orleans tour guide… --The Clarion-Ledger (Jackson, MS)

“BRILLIANT.” --San Francisco Examiner & Chronicle

Saturday 17 March 2018

The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter (Book Review)

I last read a book by Terry Pratchett some years ago. It was a Discworld novel, but I can't remember which one. As I read The Long Earth, though, I found myself smiling on many occasions as I thought, "Ah, Terry Pratchett, how I've missed you!"

Although it has its moments, this one's not nearly as funny as Discworld. But then, it's not meant to be. It's meant to be a somewhat serious look into the possibilities of Infinite Worlds. And it could happen.

I don't want to give too much away, but there are plenty of "What would I do?" moments as our intrepid adventures travel through The Long Earth to parallel dimensions, and discover things about themselves, the world, and the meaning of life.

And even though it's meant to be serious, Sir Terry just can't help put his humorous stamp on pretty much everything. I mean, the means to "Step" (which is what the book calls travelling between dimensions) is powered by a potato, for Pete's sake. I'm sure that wasn't Mr Baxter's idea!

My Rating: 4 / 5 Stars

About the Book

The UK's bestselling adult novelist and a giant of British science fiction combine forces to write the first novel in an astonishing, mind-bending new series...The Long Earth

1916: the Western Front. Private Percy Blakeney wakes up. He is lying on fresh spring grass. He can hear birdsong, and the wind in the leaves in the trees. Where have the mud, blood and blasted landscape of No Man's Land gone?

2015: Madison, Wisconsin. Cop Monica Jansson is exploring the burned-out home of a reclusive - some said mad, others dangerous - scientist when she finds a curious gadget - a box containing some wiring, a three-way switch and a...potato. It is the prototype of an invention that will change the way Mankind views his world for ever.

And that's an understatement if ever there was one...

The Long Earth is the first novel in an exciting new collaboration between the creator of Discworld Terry Pratchett and the acclaimed SF writer Stephen Baxter

Click here to find out where you can buy the book.

Tuesday 13 March 2018

Do You Like South African E-Books?

I've started a new Facebook Page, everyone. It's called South African E-Book Daily:

Like it and see one e-book by a South African author, every day. The book could be in any genre, so it's really pot luck, but they'll often be on sale.

Please sign up, and help me support South African authors. :)

Tuesday 6 March 2018

Inkanyamba (A Free Flash Fiction Story by Graham Downs)

It's been a while since I gave you a free story. Life's just been so hectic lately, and I've obviously been really busy with the launch of my new book, Memoirs of a Guardian Angel.

Anyway, it was high time I rectified that, so without futher ado, I present you...


 “We’re almost at Howick,” said Sam as he rubbed his neck and rolled his head. They’d been driving for four hours. “Should we stop?”
“Why not?” said Eva from the passenger seat. “I’m sure Gary’d love to see the falls.” She turned to their five-year-old in the back. “How about it, Gary? How’d you like to see Howick Falls?”
Gary rubbed his eyes and groaned. His parents had picked him out of bed at three this morning and bundled him, covers and all, into the back seat of the car. He’d been looking forward to the Amanzimtoti trip for weeks; now, he wasn’t particularly excited about anything.
“Don’t care,” he mumbled. “Want to sleep.”
Eva rolled her eyes. “Well, you can stay in the car if you like, or you can come have a look at the falls. Dad’s been driving for hours, and he needs to stretch his legs. We all do. We’re stopping.”
Twenty minutes later, the old jalopy station wagon pulled up at the curb. Sam and Eva exited the car, stretched their arms and yawned. Eva stared across the small paved area between the street and the Falls. Apart from a few people, it was empty at this hour.
“It’s beautiful, isn’t it?” She pointed to the hundred-metre high waterfall across the paving and past the low wooden railing.
“Yes, it is,” replied Sam. He nodded towards a small cafĂ© across the street. “I’m going to get some coffee. Want some?”
Eva nodded eagerly. After watching her husband walk off, she opened the back door of the car and lifted Gary out. “Come on, my boy. You’re not going to want to miss this.”
Gary let his mom carry him in her arms, grumbling all the way. When they got to the railing, his eyes shot wide open and he was silent. Then, after a few moments, a single “Wow!” escaped his lips. He wriggled out of his mother’s arms, and stood at the rail, staring.
“These falls are truly beautiful, young one.”
Eva turned to see an elderly gentleman standing next to them. Gary looked up at him, wide-eyed.
“Did you know,” he continued, “that the Zulu people call this place KwaNogqaza? It means ‘Place of the Tall One’ in English, and they also believe that at the bottom of these falls lives the Inkanyamba. Anyone but a sangoma who approaches the bottom of these falls is in for a nasty surprise.”
“That’s interesting sir,” said Eve politely, while keeping one eye on Gary in this stranger’s presence. “So what is this Inkanyamba supposed to look like?”
The stranger chuckled. “It’s supposed to be a serpent—“
“Mommy, what’s that?” Gary interrupted and pointed towards the pool at the bottom of the waterfall.
The two followed Gary’s finger with their eyes. On the shore at the bottom of the Falls, halfway out of the water, was a man. Squinting, Eva could see what looked like blood on his head. He wasn’t moving.
The tranquillity of the place, the sound of the water, the birds tweeting in the trees, was suddenly drowned out by screaming. People were running everywhere–Eva hadn’t realised there were so many.
Gary was crying. Eva turned to see Sam walking up to her, two paper coffee cups in his hands.
“Eva, what’s-“
She grabbed him by the arm with one hand, and grabbed Gary with the other. “We need to get out here, now!”
Later that afternoon, the three were sitting in their Happy Days flat in Amanzimtoti. A salty breeze was blowing through the open windows, and Eva stood staring out at the ocean.
Sam was reading a newspaper, while Gary sat on the floor playing with his toy cars.
“Look here, Eva,” said Sam. “There’s an article about that body we saw this morning at Howick. Apparently it was a suicide.”
Eva grunted. She just wanted to forget the whole horrible incident.
There was a knock at the door. Eva went to open it, and standing there was the old man from the falls.
Eva was suddenly afraid. “What are you doing here?”
“I have bad news for you,” he said, ignoring her question. “The Inkanyamba is angry with you.” He turned to look at Gary. “Your son’s life is in danger.”
Gary looked up at his mother and started to say something. Before he could get the words out, his eyes rolled back in his head, and he passed out on the floor.