“Quality always sells itself?”

So, the book’s on Amazon, you’re all poised for the big time, now the question is how to ‘break in’ to the big time?

I was watching a YouTube interview a few weeks ago from an author who just knew she had a book that would sell millions, if she could just get someone to publish it that is!

Eleven publishers rejected the manuscript, but she kept plugging away, and eventually, one small publishing house took it on, and seven years and seven books later that writer was a Billionaire whose books were found on every child’s bookshelf, or if not on the shelf they were on the ‘wish list’

An inspiring story, but what about those of us who’ve taken the gamble and cut the ‘middle man’ publisher out?



I got my book onto Amazon, and truth was, I’ve had no idea what to do next! My sole ‘marketing plan’ was just put the books on Facebook and sell directly to people, I didn’t really expect to sell that much.

Actually, I kind of hoped that someone would stumble across the books and things would go from there!

In one sense, that’s what happened when I got asked if I’d enter the second novel into the Ngaio Marsh 2018 crime writers awards. Yes someone did ‘discover’ the book, but it wasn’t because of any kind of marketing I did.

Quality always sells itself!

Dad was a Coal merchant when I was growing up, going from door to door in the North of England selling bags of coal to the general public, most people had coal fires back then, but one thing that used to surprise me was I don’t think I ever remember him advertising his business!

Forty years he was in business, and not once did he ever put an ad in the paper, or on the radio, or anything like that!

I once asked him “Dad, why don’t you advertise?” thinking that even though he was always busy, it would bring more business in, that had to be good right?

I’ll never forget his reply, “Quality always sells itself”

Dad knew that if you were selling the best product, then once the word got out, people would come to you for your product, and forty years in business showed there was some truth in those words.

But how to get the word out?

That’s why Amazon relies on the system they do, they rely on people reviewing the books they sell, and they’re pretty fierce on enforcing the policy of making sure any ‘reviews’ are obtained fairly.

Hey, I never said I’d give you the answers on how to, I said this was a journey we’d undertake together, and so far this is what I’ve done, judge for yourself if I’ve done it right, it’s about us working these things out together.

When I published I basically had no idea what or how to get any reviews, and all I got was ‘post on facebook’ and the like.

Well, I did, I joined Facebook groups, and I’ve learned a lot from them, but mostly all I got when I posted stuff for sale was ‘Likes’ which were nice, but they don’t pay the bills.

But Quality does sell itself. See, I got some books that I sold ‘face to face’ and guess what, people started asking “When’s book two coming out?” and when it did, they were asking about book three, so I guess Dad might have been right.

But here’s a guy who’s helping me on the way

Meet one of my Mentors Dave Chesson

Dave doesn’t know I’ve put the link there, but he wouldn’t mind anyway.

One thing I did a few days ago (and it blew me away) was I went onto my Kindle page and took a look at the history of my books since the day they were published, and I discovered they have been selling, but tiny amounts!

See, quality does sell itself, and that’s what they’ve been doing, but how to get the word out, Facebook got me known a little around the ‘indie’ world, but mainly only ‘likes’ when I put stuff up for sale.

However I did learn some great things from Facebook, and I’ll be using them when I ‘ramp up’ the selling in the bookshops!

One thing I have learned, is I need to ‘target’ whom I’m going to approach to market the books to, but that’s for another post.

If you want an idea which Fb groups work, then leave a comment.

By the way, the ‘book’ I talked about at the beginning was ‘Harry Potter and the Philosophers stone’ and the writer, JK Rowling, need I say more!


My Book’s on Amazon, now what?

“You’ve done the hard yards, you’ve written the book” you’ve heard, or read the ‘spiel’ usually followed by, “now all you have to do is follow my ‘xyz’ plan and you’ll make a bundle of cash”

Ever come across those lines? I have, and usually, they just don’t sound right!

Over at my regular job, we’ve got a poster on the wall that says ‘if your brain is saying “is that safe“, it probably isn’t’

I’m going to say that it’s probably true of those sites as well, it probably is too good to be true!

Okay, so the book’s on Amazon, now what?

Well, sorry to disappoint, but if you’re looking for a ‘quick fix’ and a ‘how to’ article then you need to go find one somewhere else, I don’t have what you need.

But if you want, you can join me on a journey, one where we might just find the answers together.

See, a few weeks ago, I got the opportunity to do something I thought was totally out of my reach as an author, I got the chance to do a ‘book promotion’ in a local library, and it was ‘bloody awesome’ (remember, I’m English, not well practiced in the art of understatement!).

What happened was a few months back, I’d just posted my second novel on Amazon, and a guy was looking up ‘New Zealand crime’ when Amazon nicely told him of my novel, set in NZ (and I live here) so he asked me if I’d consider putting it into the Ngaio Marsh competition, which I did, and hey presto, it’s actually doing pretty well, they asked me if I’d like to take part in the event in the library and I pretty much snapped their hands off!

That showed me that actually, it’s not just me that thinks my novels are good, and not just friends ‘being nice’ but they really are good, and worth the effort learning how to market them, then came the big surprise.

Yesterday, when I was thinking about this post, and thinking whether I’d have the guts to write it, I did a check on Kindle (both books are available on Kindle) and bearing in mind I’ve done nothing apart from the occasional Facebook post, the two books have sold about seventy copies of the ebooks, and been read in the Kindle Unlimited!

My first book, “Sting of the Scorpion”

Okay, they’re not screaming to the top of the bestsellers lists, but if they’re doing that with no marketing, what can they do if I take the time to learn how to do it properly?

That’s what I’m offering here, a chance to sit back and enjoy the journey, possibly learn from my journey as we set about learning how to market books on next to no money, we make mistakes, we make sales, and we build a platform for marketing books.

The second one that got entered in the competition “Scorpion’s Reach”

Take a look at them, by the way, they’re both on Kindle Unlimited so you can read them there for free.

Join me next week as we begin the journey.

Strange things these be!

It’s true if you stop and think about it, someone who takes the time to help on the way, that’s what a ‘Mentor’ is or are they?

Think about the great movies, and the role that the ‘Mentor’ plays in them, I’m thinking of Yoda in Star Wars, Obi-Wan Kenobi (or Old Ben Kenobi as we’re introduced to him in the very first movie made, ‘Star Wars, a new hope’) or Mr Kiysaki in ‘The Karate Kid’ and you get some ‘old guy’ (or in Yoda’s case a very old Alien) showing up to help out a young and pretty inexperienced kid get out of a huge jam they’re in, is that a pretty accurate picture?

But things aren’t always that way with the real one, see, we all use ‘mentors’ in some way or form, the fact is, most of the time we just don’t know we’re using them!



(A Very good life Mentor)

“What is a Mentor?”

Ever asked that question?

They’re sort of guides, guides for life in general, and also they can be guides for specific things.

Ever asked a buddy how you do something? Like how you fix the damn car that won’t start, or could they show you how to cook up that amazing breakfast you just had?

They roll up their sleeves, and away you go, learning what you just asked about, then a few weeks later, they’re asking how you’re going with the ‘new skill’  checking in, seeing what the progress is like, they’re not much further ahead in that skill than you are, but guess what, you’re both learning, and ‘mentoring’

Just recently I’ve taken on a mentor for marketing my books, he doesn’t know it as I’m using a website, but it’s there, and every few days I check into the site to learn a new skill or set something up, but each step is mentored as each step I get clear instructions on what to do and what not to do. I leave feedback at times on what works and what doesn’t, that way we both learn, and we both grow from the process.

So what about you? Are you using a ‘Mentor’?

By the way, they don’t have to be Human, or alive to be a mentor, they can also be a book, take a look at one of my biggest mentors above.

Leave a thought.

via Daily Prompt: Mentor

Words not to listen to

Does that sound a strange title? It does to me! but you know something, just as it’s important to listen to certain things, there are also times when it’s really best not to listen!

Okay, that doesn’t mean that when the wife or partner is wanting your attention that it’s okay to ‘turn off’, that’s not what I mean, and it’s 100% sure a time to actually listen, but there are times when we really shouldn’t listen.

“You’re so useless”

Ever hear those words? I did at times, I didn’t listen then, and as sure as hell I’m not going to now! but how many of us did take them ‘onboard’ without intending to?

“You’ll never make it!”

I heard that a lot, in a number of ways, there were times when I listened, and times when I said: “Screw you, I’m going to make it!”

Earlier today I was listening to a podcast by an ex-Navy SEAL, who also happened to be an Admiral, so maybe he knows what he’s talking about. One thing he said was that SEALS when they do their training. They go through a week called “Hell week” where they have to do long-distance swimming.


In that week the instructors take great delight in telling them about the sharks they’re going to have to face in the water, and they tell them the only way through is to face the shark, and don’t back down, if he comes too close, then punch him right on the nose, he’ll move off, because you aren’t the easy prey he wants!

The sharks of this world are looking for ‘easy prey’ so stand firm, punch them in the nose and say ‘Screw you, I am going to make it!”

And let’s change our world for the better by getting rid of the ‘sharks’ or at least our fear of them.

They say, “If you want to change the world, then judge a person by the size of his heart, not the size of his flippers”

What about you? are you going to ‘make it’?

Darn right you are! Just keep pushing on, and give the ‘sharks’ the occasional ‘black eye’

Think on that one.

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Breaking the mold

I just read a comment that sparked a thought, something I was struggling with as I tried to think about what to write as a post this morning, and I was pretty stunned by the simplicity of the thought.

The thought was pretty basic really. The guy was Hal Elrond, and at the beginning of his book, ‘Miracle morning’

(Just want to say hello)

He said that when we were little we were pretty much told we ‘could be anyone, or anything we wanted’

My first thought was ‘he obviously didn’t grow up where I did’! For us, life was set out before we came along.

Born, school, factory (or office) marriage, kids, retirement and ‘final curtain’ (as ole blue eyes once sang) was our path, or that’s what I was told.

Then I realised something, see I ‘broke the mold’ and I did it without realising!

You see, I’ve always been one who sorts out what I can achieve, then pushes one step beyond, and if I think that steps coming too easy, then I re-sight and aim further out!

Has it worked, well it got me a diploma from one of the most prestigious universities in the world (Cambridge university) and the equivalent of a degree from Sheffiels university just for starters, so does it work? Yeah, I can vouch it does, but it takes work, and time, by the way, I highly recommend that book I mentioned earlier.

Bye for now

Leave a comment.


Busy Lives

Busy lives.

We all lead them right? Up early, out the door, sometimes struggling to even get breakfast in. ‘Noses to the grind’ as it were, just not enough time in the day!

I’ve got to admit, there have been days when I seriously thought of asking the Good Lord why he didn’t make an extra hour in the day or an extra day in the week, but it appears he knows better than me, and he knows if he did, I’d fill it, probably with more ‘junk’ and within weeks I’d be back to where I was before, full day, not satisfied with the amount done, and pushing the limits. That sound familiar?

Well, I’ve got some good news for you, God’s not gonna listen to that request for ‘more time in the day’

But he might listen to someone saying “Lord, help me get the most out of today, and help me be satisfied with what I do get done”

What do you think? Is that a good idea?


The last few days, I’ve been reading a few posts by writers who’ve passed some significant ‘milestones’ in their journey as people and writers. It’s caused me to stop and think about some of the ‘milestones’ along the way.


Back ‘in the day’ a milestone was just that, a stone put at the side of a road that marked the distance between two cities. Simple, but they showed how far you’d travelled, and how far was left to go.


But here’s a thought we often forget, someone has to walk the road between the two so as to record the distance, literally to ‘mark’ out the milestones for others to follow. We often call those people ‘EXPLORERS’ or ‘PIONEERS’ or at least we call the first few to do it that.


But did you know, every few months or years someone walks those roads? Measuring wheel in hand they set off and measure out the route again, see the earth’s crust is constantly moving, and they have to, so that we know exactly how far it is to our destination! Here’s the thing, satellites can do it as well, but it takes someone actually ‘doing the hard yards’ to check they get it right!


Okay, where am I going with this? Well, I will pass a milestone in a couple of weeks, actually it’ll be two. One says I’ve been with the bus company five years, and am one of the ‘senior drivers’ and the other says it’s a year since my first book was published. Am I on course for where I want to be? From the signs others have left the answer is yes, but there are changes ahead.

Here’s the ‘Milestone’ I’m talking about

Some of those changes might take me into ‘unchartered territory’ so, I guess I better get ready with some milestones, so as others can see the way

The Workman, and his tools

“A bad workman ‘allus blames ‘ees tools”

That was a favourite saying of my Dad’s, I think it was probably passed down from him from my Granddad, but by the time I was old enough to remember it, it was Dad who used it, and it’s been a saying that’s always stuck with me for various reasons.

When I was a kid, I’d try and do a job, it didn’t always turn out the way I wanted, and it was so easy to say, “This brush isn’t good enough, the bristles aren’t strong enough for the job!”


It might have been true, but Dad would always come back with that saying, and it drove me bonkers! I was convinced he had patches of dirt literally glued to his specs, he always found a patch of dirt, or a part of the pan I hadn’t cleaned properly!

Eventually I learnt that it’s not so much whether you ‘know’ how to do a job, but how well you know your tools!

Think about it for a minute, ever spent time with a tradie? What’s the first thing they do when they get their pay packet, especially when they’re just finishing the training. Pretty much the first thing they buy is a decent set of tools, the kind that’ll last a lifetime, then they set about learning how each tool performs.

Not just what it’s ‘supposed’ to do, ​but what, with a bit of practice, a real ‘artisan’ or craftsman can achieve!

You know, we writers often talk of our writing being a craft, we get out and we practice the craft, but what happens when we don’t get the results we think we should?

I know what happens with me. Dad’s words “A bad workman ‘allus blames ees tools” rings in my ears, and back to the learning how to use them I go.

So with that thought, I want to issue a challenge to all you writers out there, take time to learn more about your tools, and the best way to do that, is to use them, but use them in a way you haven’t done before, then you’ll get to see them in a new light!.


Leave a comment below, and let me know how you get on.


‘Finding the time Part 2’

Last week we talked a little about what I did to find the time to write my first Novel. To me, at the moment it sounds a bit as if I’m ‘blowing my own trumpet’ and I suppose I am, but the real reason I’m writing this way, is to try and show what “thinking outside the box” might look like.

Not the same for everyone I know, but truth is, if you have something you really want to make happen, then you’ll find a way right?

How badly do you want the dream?

So, the intent here, is to tell you what I did, and maybe then it’ll get you to thinking “what can I do differently?”

As I said before, I discovered that writing that early in the morning meant my ‘boy’ didn’t get a walk, and he was getting grumpy! Ever thought a dog could get grumpy? How about disobedient? It takes three or four attempts to get attention, and then it’s only given ‘grudgingly’! That was Barney.

As soon as the walks started again, and he realised they were going to be regular, the mood improved, but the writing didn’t!



It’s amazing how ‘bossy’ they can be!

That had stopped, but then my beloved told me a bit about Google docs.

Before we go any further, I’ll point out Google docs is a free program you can load onto your computer and phone, it allows you to sit and write anywhere, at any time and stores the document in ‘The cloud’, it even ‘syncs’ your devices so that what you write on one is available on the other (password protected)

What about Privacy?

Okay, about now there’s a few of you beginning to rise out of the chair to start the ritual ‘Jumping up and down’ and going on about privacy and the fact that ‘online stuff’ isn’t all that ‘secure’ but the truth is, don’t put any stuff you don’t want shared on there! And if you do lose it, you can always ask the National Security Agency (or GCHQ if you’re British) for their copies!!!

Don’t laugh at that, I do know of one guy who did that with the KGB and got every email he’d ever sent, as well as every fax!!!

Here’s the Novel that was produced, take a look.


Anyway, the result is that it doesn’t matter where I am, as soon as I’ve got a break, out comes the phone, you know, the one I now use as a writing pad, and away I go, tapping away at the latest story!

The result was a 73,000 novel produced in just over nine months, I’ll let you be the judge of how good the story is.

That’s all for this week, but leave a comment, and let me know what you think.



‘Finding the time?’ Part 1

Finding time?

It’s interesting that I chose to start writing this post at the start of a week that’s been really busy and I didn’t actually have the time to sit and post the article, but I did find the time to actually write it!

Over the next few weeks, we’ll spend some time talking through some of the things I’ve done over the years to ‘find the time’ to write, and why it’s been important for me.


Ask yourself, “What’s important to me? what, or whom do I need to find time for?”

It’s one thing I’ve always struggled with, so many things I want to do, so many projects I seem to start, but they fall by the wayside, usually killed off by one little thing, I run  out of time to do them!

Writing a book, any book is a pretty major commitment. I mean first you need an idea, then need to start working that idea out. Kind of developing the original into something you can work with.

Research is important, it’s no use having your characters doing things you have no idea what it involves, sorry but it’s gonna show!

All these things take time right?

So, if I’m working a full time job, how is that gonna happen? I mean job, family and stuff, where’s the time for the things I want to do?

That’s the struggle I had, a few times, actually more than a few, I’d start a manuscript in the holidays, get part way through, then have to go back to work, and before I realised it, six months had passed and I had no clue why I started the project!

Last year, I decided to change it a bit, I really wanted to write the story, and I’d just got a laptop, the only time I could write was early morning, around five am!!

Hey, if you want something had enough, you’ll find a way!

That’s what I did, half an hour every morning, maybe two hundred to two fifty words, pretty soon I had a 47,000 word novella that I’m proud of.

That took six months!

Here’s the result, take a look.

And I was bitten, but exhausted, also my dog Barney hadn’t had a walk for so long, it was time to change the way this was were done!

All it took was a little planning.

What that meant, you’ll have to tune in next week.