Marketing

RealmShift for only 99c – it’s a Bookblast!

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January 21, 2014

Those wonderful people over at Gryphonwood Press have set up a very special little promotion for RealmShift, called a bookblast. The bottom line is that you can get RealmShift for just 99c on Kindle, Kobo and Nook. Also, if you buy the Kindle version for 99c, you can get the audiobook version through Amazon for only $1.99. This is some kind of madness, surely? Well, maybe, but it’s only lasting for a day or so, so you’ve got til the end of Wednesday, US time, to get your copy.

Here’s the skinny:

Realmshift1 RealmShift for only 99c   its a Bookblast!

Today through Wednesday only, get RealmShift, book one of
Book 1 of The Balance for 99c

RealmShift, book 1 of The Balance series by Alan Baxter, is only 99 cents on Kindle, Kobo, and Nook! What’s more, if you buy the Kindle version for 99 cents, you can also buy the Audiobook for $1.99 through Amazon! Don’t miss this great intro to Alan’s dark urban fantasy series.

Kindle US

Kindle UK

Kindle AU

Kindle CA 

Kobo

Nook

You know you want to – go get some! And please share this around any of your networks if you think people will be interested.

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RealmShift giveaway at Goodreads

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August 13, 2013

I’ve been meaning to give this a go for ages, and finally got around to it. Goodreads do this thing where you can register your book for a free giveaway. It’s not a competition or anything complicated – you simply offer a book (print editions only) to Goodreads members for nothing more than shits and giggles. Recipients are encouraged to review any books they get for free this way, but there’s no obligation.

You fill in a form, decide what countries can participate, how many copies you’re offering and off you go. I’ve just set it up for three copies, so if you’re interested, go to the Goodreads page here, scroll down a bit to the Win a Copy of This Book section and click the Enter To Win button. Simple as that.

Please share it around. Hopefully it’ll generate a bit of buzz for the book.

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You don’t owe me anything

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June 28, 2013

boy reading 263x300 You dont owe me anything Mea culpa. I am guilty of this and I’m putting my hand up right now to accept that and change my position. I’m getting more than a little sick and tired of authors demanding things of their readers. Back in 2011, I wrote this blog post where I said such things as “You’re a reader and you have a new responsibility” and “it’s an act of true benevolence to leave good reviews of stuff you enjoy, or drop by websites and leave a star rating. You can write a single line or single paragraph review and copy that to all the sites you visit or shop at. If you do blog, then reviewing a book on your site is fantastic. But whatever you do, do something.” While I still believe that stuff has true value, the last part is bollocks and I take it back. You don’t have to do something. You don’t have to do jack shit.

I also posted a thing recently which listed all the ways readers could care for authors – it was a funky little infographic and had things like leaving star ratings at Amazon and Goodreads, reviewing, telling friends and family and so on. Again, all those things are great, but you don’t have to do anything.

If you bought a book, give yourself a pat on the back, because you are a fucking legend. You did all you had to do. Anything else is gravy. I do log all the books I read on Goodreads. I usually leave short reviews, and cross-post to Amazon if I can. I’m one of three contributing editors at Thirteen O’Clock, a dark fiction review site. But you know what? I really enjoy all that stuff. I’m happy to do it. But I don’t have to do any of it and neither do you.

I honestly believe that reviews are the lifeblood of authors. Whether those reviews are on a dedicated blog, at sites like Goodreads or over a beer in the pub with your friends, only honest word of mouth really works. That’s the holy grail of marketing right there. People talking up your shit is the stuff of dreams. But if someone bought your book, enjoyed it and never mentioned it again, anywhere, it doesn’t matter. They haven’t slacked off in their readerly duties at all.

Too often now I’m seeing things like the stuff I posted before, but it’s starting feel wrong. Where my intention in posting it was a genuine entreaty for mutual support between readers and writers (who are often the same person, incidentally), I’m seeing a more and more militant approach lately and it’s pissing me off. It makes the stuff I wrote before seem just as militant and I don’t like that. I don’t want to demand anything of my readers. Fuck me, you bought my book! I’m dancing like a freaking numpty over here, because that is the absolute top of the line result right there.

If you want to do more, like write reviews, tell your friends, even buy more copies as gifts for like-minded friends and family, then you shit solid gold and your breath smells like roses dipped in chocolate and don’t let anybody tell you different, because you went above and beyond, dear reader. You, sir or madam, are a diamond encrusted behemoth of a human being. Because you didn’t owe me anything. No one does. But if all you did was buy and read my books, you still have gold shit, chocolate-rose breath and diamond encrusted body parts, because there’s nothing “all you did” about it. You bought and read a book. You. Fucking. Rock.

So yes, I do still stand by the value of all those lovely things readers can do, but I retract any assertion that they have to do those things. Because it’s getting kinda creepy and nasty out there and the last thing we need to do is be creepy and nasty around our readers. Talk about taking a crap in your food bowl. Readers are awesome and that’s all writers really want – to be read. So buy the book, read it and hopefully have a good time. If you choose to signal boost that book in any way, you’re brilliant. If you don’t, you’re still brilliant, because you’re a reader. And you don’t owe anyone anything.

*drops mic*

*reads*

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Video trailers for RealmShift and MageSign

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0
March 28, 2013

I’m very pleased with these. My publisher, Gryphonwood Press, has put together these two simple video trailers for my dark urban fantasy novels, RealmShift and MageSign. I’m very much of the opinion that a simple trailer for a book is the best option. If you have loads of money to spend on a really professional, slick video, then great. But if you do it on the cheap, it looks tacky and… well, cheap. And that does no favours for your book. But Gryphonwood Press commissioned top notch voice actor Jeffrey Kafer to voice these trailers and just used the book covers for the visuals. The result is simple and effective. At least, I think it is! What do you think?

Here’s RealmShift:

And here’s MageSign:

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Emma Newman and Between Two Thorns

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February 21, 2013

If you’re a regular here, the name Emma Newman probably rings some bells. It should, because she’s a mighty talented person and I’ve talked about her a bit. I was lucky enough to be asked by her publisher to pre-review and blurb her short fiction collection, From Dark Places. You can see that review here. I was also happy to host one of her Split Worlds stories here last year.

Well, now the Split Worlds has expanded into the first of a series of novels, published by Angry Robot Books, called Between Two Thorns. And the reason I’m talking about it now is because there’s a sweet little pre-order special offer happening.

Between Two Thorns is an urban fantasy novel. Here’s the blurb:

Something is wrong in Aquae Sulis, Bath’s secret mirror city.

The new season is starting and the Master of Ceremonies is missing. Max, an Arbiter of the Split Worlds Treaty, is assigned with the task of finding him with no one to help but a dislocated soul and a mad sorcerer.

There is a witness but his memories have been bound by magical chains only the enemy can break. A rebellious woman trying to escape her family may prove to be the ally Max needs.

But can she be trusted? And why does she want to give up eternal youth and the life of privilege she’s been born into?

Sound interesting? Well, here’s the offer:

Pre-order a copy of Between Two Thorns for a chance to win a great prize!

BetweenTwoThorns COVER1 e1355137730189 Emma Newman and Between Two ThornsPre-order a copy of Between Two Thorns and you’ll be entered into a prize draw. If you win, you’ll have a character named after you in All Is Fair – the third Split Worlds novel (released October 2013) – and a special mention at the end of the book.

You have to admit, that’s a pretty cool prize.

How to Enter

Pre-order a copy of the book from your favourite retailer (if you pre-order from Forbidden Planet you’ll get a signed copy).

If you order from Forbidden Planet or robottradingcompany.com (for ebooks) you don’t need to do anything else – Angry Robot will take care of your entry for you. If you pre-order from anywhere else you’ll need to email a copy of your order confirmation to: thorns AT angryrobotbooks.com and they’ll assign a number to you.

Here are links to all the places you can pre-order:

Forbidden Planet (signed paperback) http://forbiddenplanet.com/97907-between-two-thorns/

Angry Robot Trading company – for DRM-free ebook http://www.robottradingcompany.com/between-two-thorns-emma-newman.html

Amazon (paperback) UK http://www.amazon.co.uk/Between-Two-Thorns-Split-World/dp/0857663194/

US http://www.amazon.com/Between-Two-Thorns-Emma-Newman/dp/0857663208/

The Book depository (Worldwide free postage)

UK Edition http://www.bookdepository.co.uk/Between-Two-Thorns-Emma-Newman/9780857663191

US Edition (bigger) http://www.bookdepository.co.uk/Between-Two-Thorns-Emma-Newman/9780857663207

There are two UK launches and an international one using the magic of telephone conferencing. All the details are here: http://www.enewman.co.uk/real-world-adventures/between-two-thorns-launches-prizes-and-parties

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On idiot reviews

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December 13, 2012

I’ve said many, many times here that reviews are the lifeblood of an author’s career. And reviews can mean literal reviews, posted at places like Amazon, Goodreads and so on, as well as reviews in newspapers and on dedicated reader blogs. But reviews can also refer to readers simply talking about a book they enjoyed with friends, family and colleagues. That may lead to those people buying the book, so it works just like reviews are supposed to. But not all reviews are created equal.

In essence, any review is valuable. Even if you didn’t like a book and you give it a bad review and a low star rating, it’s still useful to potential readers and it may lead a different reader to think, “Well, the problems that person had with the book don’t sound like problems to me, so I’ll give it a go.” And besides, you can’t please all the people all the time, so a good spread of reviews and ratings shows honesty and means we don’t start to suspect that Auntie Mabel and the Sockpuppets are the only people reviewing the book.

For example, American Gods by Neil Gaiman is a book universally recognised by readers and awards alike as being quite excellent. But not everyone likes it. On Amazon it has a 4-star average rating, but that includes 92 1-star reviews. (I’d be ecstatic with 92 reviews of any kind, but that book has over a thousand in total!) Anyway, my point is that not all reviews are going to be good ones and giving a one or two star review is fine. If you’re reviewing the book.

Wondering what I’m talking about? Look at this fucking idiot:

sea horse 1 star On idiot reviews

In case you can’t read that, it says:

Taming a Seahorse was good. However, Monday I purchased another Spencer book, and it took sooooooooooooo long to get to my Kindle, I was 20 pages into another book………………..

And the idiot gives the book a 1-star review. I’ve deliberately blurred the name, as I’m not here to witch hunt. It’s just one of many reviews I’ve seen that are like this. This “reviewer” is directly damaging the author’s career by reducing their rating average for reasons that are nothing to do with the author or the book and for things over which the author has no control. The “reviewer” even says they thought the book was good, but they’re giving it a one star review because the Whispernet service was slow delivering a completely different novel by the same author. The degree of stupid here is staggering. What the fuck did the author do to deserve this one star review, exactly?

It’s just petty hollering because the person wanted to have a moan about something publicly and arbitrarily tacked that whinge onto one of Parker’s books. If anything, they should have simply complained to Amazon directly (which, admittedly, is like trying to water a garden bed by pissing on the roof).

This is not an isolated, or even uncommon, incident. These fuckknuckles are everywhere. There are even blogs set up to collect all the reviews that are small nuggets of human idiocy distilled into illiterate paragraphs. This is one of my favourite examples of blogs like that, but I can never get past a few entries before the red mist of rage descends: http://leasthelpful.com/ Seriously, it starts off quite funny for the first one or two, then I begin to despair at the stupid, then, after half a dozen or so, I just want to go out and block the blow hole of a dolphin until it drowns. Then hit stupid people with the dead dolphin.

Reviews are awesome and anyone who takes time to review a book is a fantastic person who will be rewarded with cookies and whisky. But only people who review the book. If you’re using a review and slamming an author’s work in order to whinge about postage times, delivery networks, the fact that your dog shat in your bed (which you deserved, by the way) or anything else, then you’re a broken, stupid person and you should have your internet privileges revoked. Please, won’t someone think of the authors?

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Small press and non-digital survival

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October 11, 2012

It’s a fact of the publishing world that new ventures rise and old ones fail all the time. Running a small press is incredibly hard work, and there’s not much, if any, profit to be found. So many small presses are run for the love of it, with their owners also keeping a full time job and using their own money to keep the press afloat. If a small press can break even, financially, it’s considered a success. Of course, there are those which do actually turn a profit, even if it’s not a full living wage, and those presses could go on to eventually become financially successful ventures. But it’s not easy and by no means definite. With the way the publishing world is currently changing, there are a lot of pitfalls along the way, just as there are a lot more opportunities out there. Never before has the phrase “Adapt or die” been more relevant.

So it was with sadness and some consternation that I read about the closure of Wet Ink the other day. From their announcement:

It is with great regret we have to announce that Wet Ink is closing down after seven years of publication; the current issue, number 27, is the last.

We were hoping for number 28, but it isn’t feasible.

Basically, the reasons are financial. Retail sales are weak, advertising and sponsorship are almost impossible to obtain and subscriptions levels haven’t been enough to make up for the shortfall in other areas. Despite all of these problems we are not interested in only going digital, as it isn’t for us a meaningful alternative.

Now I quite understand that some people are married to the physical artefact and not interested in reading ebooks. I understand that many publishers aren’t interested in learning new skills to engage with the digital marketplace. Even though those skills are easy to learn and implement, I get that some people aren’t interested. And, as a result, the publishing endeavours of those people will die because of it. What confused me more in the case of Wet Ink was this line:

Despite all of these problems we are not interested in only going digital, as it isn’t for us a meaningful alternative.

(The emphasis is my own.)

Only? Meaningful? The implication there is that survival is only likely with a purely digital product, which is simply not true. Digital production doesn’t mean only ebooks. With technology as it is today, it’s quite possible to build any publishing venture into a print and digital product without any compromise on quality and with far lower operating costs. Print On Demand technology is responsible for producing some truly beautiful books and magazines these days, without the high cost of physical print runs. Also, the difference between producing a print product and then adjusting that product for the ebook market is negligible in terms of time and effort.

A press that is producing a quality magazine with high running costs can switch to POD and ebook production quickly and easily and still produce their own favoured high end print artefact, as well as making ebook versions available, thereby maintaining any existing (print) subscriber base and potentially attracting a whole new set of electronic subscribers. That’s adapting to the modern era and giving yourself a chance at survival.

To suggest that it’s death or digital, as in suggesting that it’s a choice between losing money on beautiful books or giving in to those awful ebooks, is misinformed. It’s a perfect example of refusing to adapt, therefore dying.

I feel for the people behind Wet Ink, I really do. It sucks when something you love becomes unsustainable. I quite understand that there are people who don’t want to learn or embrace the new digital ways. But it’s a shame that a well-respected journal like Wet Ink has to die because digital isn’t seen as a “meaningful alternative”. What’s not meaningful about keeping a good thing alive?

Adapting to the modern environment is something people have always had to do. Every industry goes through many changes and old technologies die or change. Publishing, until recently, has been strangely insulated from change. But not any more. It’s very sad to see Wet Ink die, just as it’s sad to see any journal die, thus reducing the variety of publications out there.

I wish the people behind Wet Ink all the best. And I hope other publishers stay on top of this changing world and manage to adapt so their publications don’t die too. Still, even if they do, young turks will come along with new ideas, embrace the new technology and opportunity, and exciting new things will appear. Publishing isn’t dead or dying – far from it. It’s never been more vibrant.

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Selling Fiction vs Self-Publishing

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October 2, 2012

Self-publishing doesn’t carry anything like the stigma it used to. This is a good thing, of course, as it opens more opportunities for writers, and we’re all looking for opportunity. But should we all jump on board and self-publish all the writings?

There is certainly the argument that self-publishing has the potential to give the writer a far greater dividend than any other form of publishing. But this is something of a furphy. All the really successful self-publishers have either built their success on an already established traditional publishing career (like Konrath, et al) or they’re publishing lottery winners (like Hocking, et al). For ninety nine point nine per cent of the rest of us, self-publishing will garner far smaller results.

Let’s look at the alternatives.

One of the myths bandied around all the time by the self-publishing evangelists is that traditional publishers are mean and nasty, and not interested in new talent. This same nonsense is applied to publishers of short and long fiction, to publishers of books and magazines, be they print or electronic. It is true that a lot of big business trade publishers operate on something of a risk-averse model. They’re unlikely to take a chance on anything really left of centre, because they operate under a certain agenda. But there are numerous small press outfits around who are very keen on “different” stories, to set them apart and build their own legacy.

Publishers are not mean, nasty or averse to new talent. They’re just very busy and receive a lot of submissions – and a lot of what they receive is pretty poor. Writing, like any other craft, takes time, effort and commitment to master…

Read the rest of this article at the Planet EWF Blog here.

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Amazon doing their job, kinda…

By
7
September 12, 2012

So I get this email from Amazon, offering me a selection of books I might be interested in.

20120912 211742 Amazon doing their job, kinda...

You know what, Amazon? I am quite interested in that book. But not as a reader. Because I wrote it!

Still, at least Amazon are doing a good job. Kinda.

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A way to fight the review buyers and sockpuppetmasters

By
5
September 11, 2012

sockpuppet A way to fight the review buyers and sockpuppetmastersThere’s been a lot of stuff going around the interwebs lately about douchefucks paying for positive reviews, guerrilla reviewing their rivals with one star attacks, sock-puppetry and so forth. I blogged about it a little bit here and a web search will show loads of other people weighing in on the debate. The net result of all this is primarily twofold.

1. People are now distrustful of all positive reviews;

2. The real victims are readers, because now no one knows what or who to trust.

In some respects, this is only a small part of the bigger picture. Most people buy their books on the recommendations of friends, regardless of reviews. They trust certain outside sources, like book bloggers they respect and so on. However, reviews are a significant part of any author’s literary lifeblood. We will always get new readers when someone reviews a book, someone else sees that review and says to themselves, “Well, that sounds like it’s right up my particular stinking alley, I’ll give it a go.”

So we need people to continue reviewing. We need people, once they’ve read a book, to take a moment to leave a review and a star rating on Amazon, Goodreads, LibraryThing or wherever they frequent. We need them to write about it on their blog, mention it on Twitter or Facebook or wherever they hang out socially. These things are easy and it shows great love for your favourite authors, so said authors get to continue squeezing word babies from their fetid brains for your amusement and delectation. It’s a symbiotic relationship and it works well.

That is, until these fuckmuppets and their sockpuppets start devaluing the whole thing for everyone else. (Incidentally, Fuckmuppet & The Sockpuppets is the name of my next band.)

Some people are suggesting that Amazon needs to address the problem. Some are saying they need to only allow reviews from verified purchasers, or only allow reviews from accounts linked to some third party verification. But there are massive problems with that.

The verified purchaser thing is a problem because what if someone borrowed a copy of a book from a friend and really liked it? What if they wanted to review it on Amazon? Or even if they hated it and wanted to review it. They can’t. People borrow books all the time, there’s nothing wrong with that. Or they buy them secondhand. Or they download them illegally. All these things deny the author a royalty, but it doesn’t really matter. It’s just how things are. What does matter is that those people can leave reviews which will help that author in the long term. Take away that option and you take away the ability for borrowers to give anything back to the author they enjoyed (or hated) so much.

And it’s not all about good reviews. People will pay much closer attention to a book with a whole range of reviews than to a book with only 5-star reviews. The more variety in the ratings, the more likely a person is to learn about that book and make an informed decision. You can’t please all the people all the time. An honest 2 or 3 star review can actually help to sell a book. What you don’t like might appeal to someone else.

The absolute last thing we need is for places like Amazon to make it harder for people to review books. If that happens, the douchefucks have won. The power is more in the hands of the reading public than it has ever been, and that power only retains its potency while it is easy to apply. Right now you can read a book from any source, then spend literally five minutes or less popping into Amazon and Goodreads and leaving a star rating and a couple of lines of review. You only have to type it once, then copy and paste it elsewhere. Take this review of RealmShift on Amazon from one Cathy Russell:

I liked that this story had believable characters and explored faith (or lack of), it’s origins, etc. It had a lot of deep themes. The characters were well thought out. The plot was engaging, and I liked the whole idea of a superhuman who could kick the devil’s ass. While reading this, I kept thinking it would make a great action movie or comic book too. I’d recommend this.

That’s a fantastic review (Thank you, Cathy) and would have only taken moments to write. She gave it four stars, too, bless her beautiful reading eyes. Now imagine if Amazon had required some particular hoops be jumped through in order to leave that review. She may still have done it, of course. But she may very well have not bothered. That would damage me as a writer and potential future readers.

star rating A way to fight the review buyers and sockpuppetmastersI don’t think it’s Amazon’s job to police this stuff (beyond the obvious, like removing reviews flagged as hate, etc.) It’s up to us, the readers. BY THE POWER OF GREYSKULL, it’s in our hands! We can fight the douchefucks with our minds and tappity typing fingers. I’ve compiled a list below of all the things you can do to help your favourite authors. And you can address authors you’re not so keen on using the exact same list. Because open honesty is what’s required. If we deluge the system with clear and open reviewing, then whatever douchefuckery these other bastards engage in loses its potency with every blow we strike.

At the same time, if you are one of those douchefucks who buys positive reviews, uses sockpuppets, sabotages your fellow authors with 1-star attacks or anything else, just fucking stop it already. You’re a scumbag and you make the world a worse place. Don’t game the system for your own selfish ends. Let the system work. If recent news is anything to go by, you’ll be found out in the end anyway. You’re just pissing in the shared flagon in the meantime, and that’s not on.

So, here’s that list I was talking about.

Whenever you read a book, take a moment to do the following:

  • Talk about the book, online and IRL. Tell people you read it and what you thought.
  • Tweet, Facebook, Google+, etc. a quick comment about it, like “I just really enjoyed/hated reading This Book by An Author.”
  • Go to Amazon, Goodreads or any other bookish place you frequent and click a star-rating.
  • If you have time while you’re there, jot down a few lines quickly about why you rated the book the way you did. You don’t have to be super eloquent or anything. Just honest.
  • If you have time, spend a bit longer on a more thoughtful review.
  • If you have a blog, maybe write a blog post about the book.
  • If you enjoyed the book, buy it for a friend, family member or colleague for their birthday or anniversary or just because you’re a hoopy frood.
  • If you hated the book, buy it for an enemy, because you’re cold like that, you mean sonofabitch.
  • If you’re part of a book group, suggest the book as a future read for your group.
  • Talk about the book, online and IRL.

You may have noticed that my list is in increasing order of time and effort. If you only do the first thing, that’s great. It’s better than doing nothing (which is why it’s repeated at the end). The more of those things you do, the better it is for everyone and the less of an impact the dishonest douchefucks will have.

So, take it away. And please comment with your thoughts on the subject and any suggestions you have for doing the right thing by authors and readers. Feel free to suggest additions to my list.

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Welcome

The website of author Alan Baxter

Alan Baxter, Author

Author of horror, dark fantasy & sci-fi. Kung Fu instructor. Personal Trainer. Motorcyclist. Dog lover. Gamer. Heavy metal fan. Britstralian. Misanthrope. Learn more about me and my work by clicking About Alan just below the header.

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