#63 Still trying to get reviews


Reviews are the most powerful tools in my arsenal when it comes to getting attention for my books. Much as I’d like to, I don’t have the financial muscle of a large publisher. I can’t take out take out full page ads in the newspaper or put posters on the subway.

(Not yet anyway),

But I do have something much more powerful and effective than that, and it’s something those publishers would kill to get their hands on.

A committed and loyal bunch of readers.

Honest reviews of my books help bring them to the attention of other readers.

If you’ve enjoyed my book I would be very grateful if you could spend just five minutes leaving a review (it can be as short as you like).

Thank you very much.

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#62 Trying to get reviews and messing with pricing


One of the things that gets a the Amazon algorithm moving is plenty reviews. Unfortunately with the launch of #jimanddave I didn’t have many reviews and one of those was a one star which destroyed my average.

This week I’ve been trying to set this right. I emailed my mailing list asking for reviews and joined a Facebook group in which authors read and review books (not in bilateral agreements, that would be against Amazon policy).

I have already read and reviewed Flowers in December and I am currently reading another book which I hope to review soon. In return I hope that other authors will read and review my book.

I’ve also been messing around with the pricing of Living with Saci. I had set the price to free in the hope of increasing its readership but I have returned its price to $2.99 (or equivalent ) as and incentive for people to  sign up to my email list for a free copy


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#61 Switching to Kindle Unlimited


Now it’s been two weeks since the launch of The Astonishing Anniversaries of James and David. The majority of sales, as with Living with Saci, have been through Amazon with some sales through iBooks, Nook, Kobo and Google. A similar breakdown to the overall share of the e-book market shown in the diagram above.

I have been wondering what effect it might have if I signed a book over exclusively to Amazon via the KDP Select programme, making the book available for free to Kindle Unlimited members.

I’ve made the jump and so Jim and Dave will be exclusive to Amazon until the end of May and I have had to remove them from all other platforms for this period.

I was going to set up some new Facebook ads to attract more sign ups to my mailing list by giving away Living with Saci but Facebook inexplicably suspended my account. Instead, I cranked up my Amazon ads and extended my Bookbub ads to promote Jim and Dave on Amazon

I sent emails out to those who hadn’t opened the previous two campaigns sent via Mailchimp. This campaign was sent via mailerlite in plain text in case the Mailchimp campaigns had ended up in spam.

I also sent a new email out via Mailchimp announcing the end of the competition to win a signed copy. All people have to do to win is send and email to mj@mjdees.com with the first word of the ‘1976’ chapter.

I announced two new Facebook groups. The first to discuss The Astonishing Anniversaries of James and David and the second to discuss Living with Saci. Join us there, it’s a great way to avoid writing which I have done very little of this week.

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#60 Getting the first print copies through the post


It’s about a week and a half since the launch and my print copies have already arrived so I take everything back that I said about the Brazilian postal service.

It also means that I have five copies to sign and give away as prizes. To win a copy all you need to do is send me an email to mj@mjdees.com with the first word of the ‘1976’ chapter. The first five correct entries I recieve will each get a signed copy of the book. The competition closes on Sunday 4th February 2018.

Since the launch adverts have been running on Facebook, Amazon and Bookbub. The Facebook ads have finished and the Bookbub ads will probably end in the next week or so, at which point I am considering removing the book from all sales outlets except Amazon and enrolling the book in the Kindle Unlimited programme for 90 days.

I sent a follow up email to anyone who didn’t open the original launch email. I’ll send one more follow up email using another email provider to all those who did not open either email.

Meanwhile, I have signed up to two more Bookfunnel promotions with Living with Saci and have now made it free on all platforms hoping that Amazon will price match and that it will encourage more downloads.

I have written a little bit more on my fourth novel but I have also started to edit my third book which I am hoping to launch in July. This book is tentatively titled When the Well Runs Dry and is set in a dystopian future.

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#59 Posting book extracts to the blog

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Here is an excerpt from the first chapter of the book for you:

It is a sunny day in Hull, but this is doing very little to lift the spirits of Ronald.  He is miffed at missing the first home game of the season between Hull City and Oxford United because his wife, Joyce, has chosen this exact moment to go into labour and he is required to look after their first born, Lisa.  He waits near the telephone to find out whether the sodding thing is a boy or a girl.

Joyce couldn’t have waited until Sunday before her waters broke, or even have the decency to deliver during the depressing opening away loss to Charlton.  Bob and Bill were both going, and Ronald had detected amusement in Bob’s voice when he’d phoned him to explain as soon as the ambulance had left that morning.

“Oh that’s a tragedy mate,” Bob had said on hearing the news. “Never mind.
Good luck to your dear wife, pass on our regards. We’ll let you know how we get on.”

“Cheers,” Ronald mumbled, not at all impressed by the lack of disappointment in Bob’s voice.

The thing was that Bob had never forgiven Ronald for pushing Bob out of the back of a truck when the two were on National Service in Germany in 1956. Bob had landed on his knee thus putting to an abrupt end his promising career in Rugby League. At least that was Bob’s story. Bob’s Rugby League potential grows every time he re-tells the story of the truck, but no-one has ever verified his actual chances of playing for Hull Kingston Rovers.

“Look, daddy,” Lisa, his two-year-old daughter is holding up what appears to be a shiny bird’s nest whose long shiny branches are trailing into the living room or the front room as they call it in Ronald’s house.

“Oh, Christ!” he says as he realised that what Lisa is holding is not a bird’s nest but a bundle of tape that Lisa has somehow managed to extract from his pride and joy, a Philips reel to reel tape recorder.

Ronald belongs to a tape club where members copy each other’s record collections and where the more creative members, Ronald, Bill and Bob being among them, attempt to recreate classic moments in audio such as Goon Show episodes and or Tony Hancock sketches.

The trio had just finished recreating Peter Seller’s Balham Gateway to the South, and now, there it sits in the chocolatey sticky hands of his two-year-old daughter.

“What are you doing? Give me that!” he shouts, snatching the crumpled mess from the astonished toddler who stares at the angry adult stealing her toy for a moment before bursting into noisy tears.

“This is not a plaything,” he chastises, anger still dominating any feelings of sympathy he might have for his daughter who begins screaming as he tries to collect the trail of tape and put the disheveled clump somewhere out of reach.

“Mummy, mummy,” Lisa manages to mould her cries into words.

“Mummy isn’t here,” Ronald snaps, angry that his daughter should want to turn to his wife in her moment of anguish but this encourages Lisa to scream louder in a way which is fast approaching hysteria.

Ronald looks at his daughter, still rooted to the spot where she had, moments ago, presented him with her shiny discovery just to have it ripped from her hands amidst a torrent of rage.

His mood softens.

“Come here princess,” he suggests to the weeping child who wants nothing to do with him.

Ronald kneels down in front of her, offering a hug but Lisa turns her back.

“Well I’m sorry darling,” Ronald snaps again, the anger resurfacing. “But that was Daddy’s tape. It took daddy and his friends ages to make that bloody thing.”

This latest outburst does not have the desired effect unless the desired effect is to make Lisa cry and ask for her mummy even louder which Ronald wouldn’t have thought possible a second earlier.

The telephone rings.

Ronald looks at the phone, looks at his crying daughter, then back at the ringing telephone.

“Hold on princess, I’ll be back in a second.”

Lisa ignores her father and focusses on her crying.

“Hello?” Ronald presses the receiver against his ear. “Aye, speaking…aye, is everything OK?….I’m sorry, could you say that again?…aye…I see…thank you.”

Ronald places the receiver back on the phone and sinks into an armchair.

“Christ,” he says in a tone so out of keeping with his usual countenance that even Lisa stops blubbering and turns to see what has happened. “Twins.”

Lisa stares at her dumbfounded daddy. Ronald stares back at Lisa for a moment before snapping out of his trance, offering an apologetic smile to his little girl and holding out his arms for her to run into. With tentative steps, she goes to him, and he sweeps her up in a big hug.

“You’re going to have two little brothers,” he announces.

“No!” Lisa declares as if it was a question of eating her peas.

“Aye lass, you are,” he explains to the infant’s shaking head. “Come on. You’re hungry.  Shall we go and get some grub? Some chips?”

Lisa’s shaking head becomes a slow nod and Ronald gives her a bigger hug before leading her by the hand through the already open front door. Pulling it closed behind him without bothering to lock it.

The Ringtons Tea van is attempting a seven-point turn in the otherwise empty cul-de-sac. Ronald exchanges nods with the driver in a kind of ‘we both know we’re men of the world, and I’m just taking my daughter to the chip shop, and my wife’s just given birth to two more, so my penis still works’ kind of way.

Ronald calculates he can sit down to his dinner just in time to listen to the Radio commentary of the rugby if he can get to the chippy and back without bumping into any neighbours who will be bursting to know the exact weight, time of birth and names of his new offspring.

The last thought causes Ronald to check himself. He and Joyce had already agreed on Jennifer if it was a girl and James if it was a boy, but now two boys had thrown the issue wide open again. Bloody hell. It had been torturous enough arriving at the first two names. To have to agree on another one was almost more than Ronald can bear.

“Come on,” he tugs on the arm of the two-year-old whose tiny feet are moving as fast as they can, but Ronald is eager to get to the chip shop and back before any neighbours spot them.

I’ll be so lonely baby,
I’ll be so lonely baby,
I’ll be so lonely I could die

The last song he had heard on the radio is still swimming around his head, and he hums it as they crossed the road to Bottom Fisheries which stands on the corner as it has done for what seems like forever.

Lisa is intimidated by the chip shop. It isn’t the size of the hot stainless steel fryers which tower above her. Or the grease which nestles in every corner. Or the loud humour of the old man who serves the chips whom she doesn’t understand, although all of these things are enough to scare a two-year-old.  It is the fibreglass likeness of a small girl with blond hair and a blue dress, clutching a fibreglass teddy bear in one arm and a collection box in the other. The girl has some contraption strapped to one leg, and she stands with her weight on her good leg, showing off the strange contraption on her other, a combination of metal bars and leather straps. Lisa’s daddy gives her a large copper disk of a two pence coin to drop in one of the two slots, there is one in the fibreglass collection box and then another, in the head of the teddy bear. She always chooses the teddy bear thinking it might make it feel a bit better and forget for a while that it has a slot in its head.

“Alright Ron?” says John the chip shop owner.

He pulls a fresh batch of chips out of the fryer and tips them out.

“And hello little lady,” he says as he leans over the counter to smile at Lisa who hides behind her father’s leg. “And how old are you now?”

“Two,” Ronald answers for her.

“Two and a half,” Lisa corrects, almost whispering.

“Sorry, two and a half,” Ronald sets the record straight.

“And how about Joyce?”



“Twins,” Ronald repeats. “She went in this morning. Just got the call.”

“Congratulations.” John wipes a greasy hand on his filthy apron and offers it to Ronald to shake. “They’ll keep you busy. When are you going to see them?”

“Tomorrow,” Ronald improvised. He hadn’t thought about it, his mind is still on the Bottom Rovers game starting soon, but he guesses he will have to leave Lisa with a neighbour while he drives the five miles to the maternity hospital to view the fruit of his loins.

“Give my love to Joyce,” says John. “What’ll it be?”

“Pattie, fish, chips and peas wrapped please John.”

“Coming right up,” says the old man.

He scoops a fish out of the fryer and setting it down for some of the excess fat to drip off.

“Fifty p please.”

Ronald hands over a collection of change and takes the parcel of newspaper which wraps his dinner.

“And here’s something to help you celebrate,” says John.

He reaches into a fridge and pulling out a can of Shandy Bass which he offers to Ronald with a big smile.

“Cheers mate,” says Ronald, thinking as he follows Lisa out of the shop that John is the last of the big spenders.

Ronald leads Lisa back towards home, eager to get there before the game starts and the chips get cold. He rounds the corner of the cul-de-sac. The coast is clear, he is into the home straight. Less than fifty yards now.


Damn. Mary, the next door neighbour. A big woman in her sixties whom Ronald wishes would mind her own business but whom he nevertheless relies on for babysitting from time to time. Mary is a bit of a chatterbox, and Ronald finds it almost impossible to extract himself from a conversation once sucked in. He was sure to miss the start of the game now…

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#58 Clicking the refresh button

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Since the book launched, I’ve been clicking refresh icons every five minutes to see whether I’ve sold another copy. Because my book is sold in many outlets across five or six platforms that means clicking on a lot of refresh icons. To monitor sales there are amazon.com, amazon.co.uk (I haven’t even bothered to check the other Amazon sites). This is just to check the book’s Amazon ranking because to view the actual sales I need to monitor the Kindle Direct Publishing and CreateSpace sites.

In addition to Amazon there are four other sites I need to check to monitor sales to other outlets. The first of these is the Direct2digital which distributes my books to Apple iBooks, Kobo, Nook (Barnes & Noble), 24Symbols, Scribd, Playster, Overdrive plus others. Publish Drive distributes to Google Play plus others. Smashwords adds a few more outlets. Streetlib a couple of others.

As well as checking sales, I have been checking how the advertising has been going. Bookbub, Amazon Marketing Services and Facebook are all able to provide me with statistics for both how many times my adverts have appeared on pages and how many times people have clicked on the ads.

Then there is social media. Tweeting the progress of the launch and sharing on Facebook. Checking how many people have signed up to my mailing list or accessed this blog. how many people have opened or clicked on my emails. Not to mention checking my email.

It all adds up to lots of opportunities to avoid writing.

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#57 Launch Day

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So it’s launch day and I’ve already bought my own copies, copies for friends and the copies for the launch competition which I’ll tell you about in a moment.

The book is live on many stores including  Amazon.co.uk on Amazon.com

If you decide to buy a copy then please leave me a review as this will help me reach more readers.

I’ll be hosting a live Q&A session on Facebook Live tomorrow, Monday 22nd at 5pm GMT, 12noon EST and 9am PST. Send any questions you might like me to answer via email at mj@mjdees.comvia Twitter, or leave a comment on my Facebook page.

I am also giving away five free signed copies of the print version of the book.

To win one of these fantastic prizes, all you have to do is to email me at mj@mjdees.comwith the first word of the ‘1976’ chapter. The first five people to email me with the correct answer will win a signed copy each.

Finally, I’m experimenting with a new way to stay in touch with Facebook messenger . If you would like to be part of this experiment then please click here.


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