Monday, 21 December 2020

There are times when an ebook makes more sense.


About five years ago I finished reading a hardback book I'd had since 2009. Stephen King's 'Under the Dome.'  Six years to read a book! Actually it took me six years to start reading it. I had not read it because it is a massive book, 1093 pages. It weighs 1.3 kilograms (2.3 pounds) - too heavy to read unsupported. (Enjoyable book if you want to read it.) I'd looked for it as an e-book but due to the Amazon/Hachette dispute couldn't find it. In the end I read it in bed before sleeping, with it supported on my knees.

The trouble with big books is that they are heavy and bulky They are certainly not the best choice when going mountain climbing. If you are an older reader then you may find reading a heavy book can be a painful experience.

A Vested Interest Omnibus 1

Yet people seem to like longer books; especially if the book is science fiction or a thriller. People also like books in a series and are fond of those bargain 'box sets.' My co-author and I have produced such a collection. It contains the first three books of our 'A Vested Interest' book series and has over 1,400 pages. An average reader would take over 37 hours to read it - great for keeping you occupied while shut in at home during a pandemic. It's ONLY available as an ebook despite the picture. Your wrists will thank us.

What's it about?

It's a techno-thriller. We started writing it in 2007. The concept is that in 5,000 years the earth faces the ultimate apocalypse when a wandering planetoid will collide with it. The impact will be similar to the one which created the moon 4.5 billion years ago. Nothing on earth will survive. We can't destroy or stop this planetoid - it's too big. To survive we must move and we must take with us every living thing on earth. BUT it's five thousand years in the future and even though we know it will happen we do nothing since it's, "not my problem."

Book 1 of this collection is Immortality GeneTo save the world the solution is simple we must make everyone immortal so that it is their problem. It's normally free. It's been  #1 in technothrillers, #1 in Science Fiction genetic engineering, #1 in science fiction adventure. It's long and involved featuring lots of technology we are developing now - including the immortality. It has medical advances, romance, murder, mystery and conspiracy. And it's ending will leave you hanging so you really need the second book.

Book 2 in the collection is Dark Secrets. It features a pandemic spreading a virus. We wrote this back in 2010 and it's eerily similar to how the Covid-19 pandemic spreads. Our pandemic makes people immortal though. It fixes their DNA so that genetic damage - the sort that makes people old - can't occur. old senescent cells are destroyed and replaced with young cells. People start to get younger! Eventually they reach an optimal apparent age of about 25 and there they remain. Does this seem far fetched? The reality is that the first person to live to age 1,000 is probably alive now and is probably considered old now. But that title? There's a conspiracy governing the world that has been a dark secret since the crusades.

Book 3 in the collection is No Secrets. It reveals more of the dark secret governing the world and brings together people forced apart by it. It does the very opposite of book 2 where a protagonist turns out to be evil and makes an antagonist turn good.

Get the collection - It will keep you entertained for hours and it costs less than getting the books individually, even if one of them is free.

Sunday, 29 December 2019

Be careful about what you post on social media

I've said many times that authors should take care not to offend anyone on social media since a vindictive person you offend can have a disastrous effect on your book sales with a bad review. There's another side to this though. Social media is getting flack from government over hate speech and fake news and has had to develop ways of combating this. Enter the social media algorithm.

Facebook is a classic example. As a social media platform it is huge. it has become more powerful than the traditional print, tv and radio media as a source of information. Unfortunately it's also a source of misinformation and hate speech.

To police Facebook would require an army of people constantly scanning posts and checking facts. That's simply not possible so an algorithm is used to seek out offending items and flag them for action. Even that is too much of a task and would still require an army of human checkers. Result? The algorithm takes action itself and inevitably it makes mistakes.

That happens quite often so Facebook gives those the algorithm has targeted to option of appealing the decision. Handling the appeals is less of a task and is more manageable - in theory. However it can still go wrong as happened to me over Christmas 2019. Here's what happened.

I made this post (You may notice the subtle use of an affiliate link to the film at Amazon):
Nothing too innocuous here and facebook didn't object - yet. here's the comments which followed:
I entered into a discussion about religion, something that along with politics is best for an author to avoid. However I've frequently discussed this with this Facebook user and we agree to disagree while remaining friends. Here was the killer follow-up though.
ZAP - Facebook's algorithm kicked in and decided the meme of Hitler was hate speech. It removed the comment and gave me a three day ban on making further posts. Naturally I disagreed and made the appeal.

Someone at Facebook looked at the offending comment and decided it had been mistakenly identified as hate speech. They apologised nicely and restored the comment.

But here human error kicked in. Although they had restored my comment they forgot to remove the three day ban on posting which went with it awarded on 23rd December 2019. When I discovered this on Christmas eve I naturally clicked the 'This is a mistake' button.

TOO LATE! The Christmas holiday had kicked in and my 'This is a mistake' didn't get attention.

No big deal perhaps? Not to me. It meant I couldn't post to various author groups, especially author retweet groups, over Christmas and that will have cost me lost book sales.

So let me reiterate that warning.

Be careful what you post on social media - especially if you plan on promoting in the next few days.

If this post has helped you  will you help me? Download a FREE copy of books 'Immortality Gene' from or/and Raging Storm
Even if you never read them (but I hope you will) - it will help our rankings.

Want to comment?
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Monday, 4 November 2019

Amazon - Should I choose the 35% or 70% royalty rate?

There seems such an obvious answer here. If you are selling an ebook for $2.99 then the 35% royalty rate would be $1.04 and the 70% royalty would appear to give you twice that - $2.08

Except it's not quite that simple because Amazon make a delivery charge if you use the 70% rate. They subtract that amount before calculating the 70% royalty.

This delivery charge is based on file size and for a normal book, file size is something like 2 megabytes. The download charge for that would be about 30 cents. That means your 70% royalty rate would give you ($2.99 - $0.30) x 0.7 or $1.88

But suppose you have a book with lots of images? Such a book could have a large download size.
Here's a book like that:
As you can see this book earns a higher royalty by selecting the 35% rate because you are not charged that delivery fee.

So the answer to the question posed is really - Not always.

Other retailers don't make this download charge. Most offer a 50% royalty and that can make a big difference if there is no download charge. Sixty percent of $2.99 is $1.74. That's much better than the $1.05 the above book would get at Amazon. best of the bunch appears to be Smashwords which offers up to 85% royalty rate.

Friday, 27 September 2019

Editing can be fun (especially if someone explains it for you)

Take a look at this text.
Now I'm pretty sure you will be able to spot a mistake. BUT did you spot all five of them? Have a go yourself but if you can't see them all scroll down for the answers.

  1. Technically you shouldn't start a sentence with a number. That 70 should be seventy. Of course this isn't always bad because starting a tweet or Facebook meme with a number gets you more attention.
  2. There's no proof of the accuracy of that number. If you are making such a statement then you really should provide some evidence that it's correct. Particularly so in any scientific document.
  3. Repetition - I've used '% percent'
  4. Repetition of the word 'the'. This is a common mistake where a word ending a line is repeated on the next line.
  5. I said there were five so shouldn't 'mistake' read mistakes'?

Tuesday, 27 August 2019

There's no such thing as "free on Kindle Unlimited"

(or when does Kindle Unlimited become worthwhile)

Lets be a little silly today. I see lots of authors advertising their books as being 'FREE on Kindle Unlimited'

It's a LIE!

Readers pay a monthly fee to subscribe to Kindle Unlimited. £7.99 per month if you live in the UK. ($9.99 in the US)

So how much does that work out per book? Let's make some assumptions and I'll do some math/s for you. 


  • You are a super-fast reader who reads at 400 words per minute. That's about twice normal speed.
  • You read non-stop for 12 hours per day, 30 days per month. That leaves you 12 hours a day to sleep, eat and do anything else you need to do.
  • We'll take an average book as being 305 pages and about 61,000 words. I actually measured 50 Kindle Unlimited books and got an average length of 400.7 pages - we will take the mean which is 305 though.
  • We'll assume an average page has 200 words. (it actually varies between 200 and 250 words)
Based on that you would take 162.5 minutes to read a book. lets round that down to 2.5 hours.
Each day you would read 4.8 books. Each month that's 144 books.

So each book will cost you £7.99 / 144 or a little more than five pence per book (about $0.07 US) That may be a very small amount but it's NOT free.

Of course would you really read 144 books a month? How much time do you actually spend reading each day? Are you a much faster reader than normal?

Now I read quite a lot. The last time I checked I read 55 books in a year. A little more than one book a week on average. If it's a really good book I might read more (I read all three of the Angriest Angel books at one book a day, 1589 pages) but would it be worthwhile for me to subscribe to Kindle Unlimited? The table at the right tells me that if you, as an individual, read less than four books a month then it's not worth it.

However if your family reads a lot and you share an Amazon Kindle account then yes - subscribe to it.

Of course there is one time when Kindle Unlimited is free. When you take up their offer of a 30 day free trial.

Asto all those 'FREE on Kindle Unlimited'  posts - What you really mean is 'Available on Kindle Unlimited.'

Wednesday, 21 August 2019

Using Buffer to Record Tweets For Re-use

Updated August 2019

I keep a record of successful tweets so that I can re-use them much later - a month or more later. Many of my tweets have an attached picture. Twitter used to show the URL of pictures and videos but that stopped some time ago.

So how do you get this URL?

I've found three methods:

  1. Use Tweetdeck. This will show the URLs of images you post in tweets.
  2. Use the menu and click the embed tweet link. Then edit the tweet.
  3. Delete the tweet! Well at least start the delete process. This worked until Twitter updated their layout in summer 2019 but I've found a way to get it back.
Of the three methods the third method was by far the simplest way but Twitter changed things. This is what you could see on the old and new layouts when you try to delete a tweet:
Old layout
New layout

The old Twitter layout showed the text of the tweet and a shortened link. When copied the full link was included. If you used a picture or video in the tweet a link to that was shown also.The new Twitter layout does not show the text or links. Unfortunately that's the bit we need.

 Fortunately it's possible to go back to the old style Twitter layout. I do that with a browser extension called GoodTwitter. While that extension is active you get the old style Twitter layout (including the time based timeline rather than the most popular tweets). Edit - Alas as of 2nd June 2020 this method no longer works.

The trouble is I quite like the new Twitter layout so I use a second browser extension, Extensify, to switch GoodTwitter on and off quickly.
Extensify displays all your browser extensions and allows you to switch them on and off with a single click.

 Both extensions work on Chrome, Firefox and Brave - a new browser I'm testing.

Assuming you now have the old style Twitter layout available, here's how you capture tweets. 

I start the process from Buffer's Analytics page but you can do this from your Twitter Profile page too.

Step 1 - find the tweet you want to record in the Buffer Analytics window (or scroll down through your Twitter Profile to find it). Click the timestamp of the tweet.

Step 2 - The tweet will open in a window. Click the chevron at the top right of the tweet
 or the 'More' icon at the bottom - the three dots ...
From the menu which appears click 'Delete' Don't worry you are NOT going to delete it.

Step 3 - Twitter will show the tweet including that elusive picture URL and ask you to confirm deletion. Highlight the tweet text and copy it. Although the tweet link URL may appear shortened, when you copy it you will get the full URL. Then click 'Cancel' since you DON'T want to delete it.
Step 4 - Now paste the tweet into the text file or spreadsheet you want to store it in for later reuse.

Simple. Here's the text of the Tweet I just copied:
34 ways to NOT get more followers on Twitter

If this post has helped or entertained, will you help us? Download a FREE copy of our book 'Immortality Gene' from
Even if you never read it (but we hope you will) - it will help our rankings.
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Wednesday, 13 February 2019

How to become a successful author

The most important factor in author success is one you can't buy—Luck. Despite that there's an old saying which applies—The more I practice, the luckier I get.
Here's what I consider you can do to get lucky as an author:
  • Get a remarkable cover which attracts the attention of readers browsing for books. Few can do this themselves so it is worth spending money on this. A good cover will give a book browser the interest to check out the book. You need something which is still eye catching at postage stamp size.
  • Spend a huge amount of time and effort getting a book description which makes the reader think "Wow! This is a book I have to read." Your description should use emotive language and use your keywords. Try running the sentences through a headline analyser.
  • Use the right keywords/tags. If you have problems here, steal them from the top selling books in your genre. To do that create a blank book in calibre and in the meta tag ID section paste in the ASIN number of a top ranking book in your genre. Then download the meta data. You'll get the tags and the book description.
  • Make sure your book starts with a powerful hook to keep the book browser reading. Your book's first three pages should be gripping.
  • Create promotion pages for your book which get high rankings on Google. If you are not discovered on the first three pages of search results when you enter a keyword and your book's title, you never will be discovered. Use an incognito browser window when doing this. (See http://authorbookpromotion.blogs...)
  • Video, pictures, headlines and subheadings are effective in promotions in that order. Run headlines and sub headings through checkers for emotive language such as and This works for Tweets and Facebook posts too.
  • Make sure promotion pages have a clear 'call to action'.
  • When you provide links to your books use a link shortener service and customise the link to make it typing friendly. I recommend books2read links because they are easy to create, will find your book at all the leading retailers and will automatically add any affiliate codes you have. For example is a lot easier to type than and also allows the user to select a different retailer to Amazon.
  • Get the price right. If you've already published your book at Amazon, try Amazon's book pricing beta service. To get to that select your book from the Amazon KDP bookshelf. Find the book you want to modify and in the "Book Actions" column, click "Edit book pricing." Next scroll to the 'Royalty and Pricing' header and under KDP Pricing Support (Beta), click "View Service."
  • Recognise that a promotion at best will produce a spike in your sales but you need to sustain that spike for at least a month for it to produce a rise in your sales rank at Amazon. You'll need to stagger effective promotions.
  • Know that not all promotions are effective and some are downright scams. There is no point in tweeting to fake accounts or putting book links on sites with no visitors. See this post. Learn how to recognise the fakes and how to use UTM (Urchin Tracking Module) codes to spot those sites which work.
  • Facebook adverts work but NOT 'Buy my book' adverts. Instead make an attractive offer which people can get if they add their email address to your mailing list. Email lists are effective at selling books.
  • Twitter posts work but not until you have 10,000 real, active followers. Few will see your posts. People will unfollow if your posts are solely 'Buy my book' posts. These should never make up more than 10 - 15% of your feed. DON'T auto follow-back because you'll end up with fake followers; vet your followers. Never send out 'Thanks for following me' direct messages; instead retweet one of their posts. Aim to get 100 new followers per day. Remember people are only on Twitter for short periods of time so the vast majority of your tweets will be unseen. That's why you need a LOT of real followers. Make sure you have a pinned post there so that authors you retweet can reply in kind..
  • Twitter and Facebook are NOT the only social media platforms. Get a presence on Tumblr, LinkedIn (if you write nonfiction), Google+, YouTube also. There are also vital forums such as Kboards.
  • Although I dislike Goodreads, it's an essential platform for an author to be on if you want recognition as an author. BUT never sign in to Goodreads using your Facebook account! If you do then Amazon is likely to link the two and may reject reviews from some of your friends on Facebook. Be careful what you say on Goodreads—lots of Trolls there.
  • Amazon paid advertising appears to work.
  • Pre-orders work for new books, especially if you follow them with promotion during the release week.
  • If you are not using affiliate accounts you are wasting an opportunity to earn at least 4% extra at Amazon and much more elsewhere. You can use this as a sales tool too.
  • Remember there are only 24 hours in a day and you can't do all of this at once. Some can be automated though.

  • Ask people to help you promote! Hey if you have not already downloaded one of my free ebooks (Immortality Gene and Raging Storm) please do so. Even if you don't read them it will help my sales rank.

Darn that all sounds complicated. Maybe there should be a magic promotion button. I'm working on it but it's not quite finished yet. Take a look here.