Sunday 28 February 2016

Indie Publishing - Self Publishing - How to make a Million


The road to self publishing is paved with gold - yeah, sure!

There's an interesting article HERE on this very subject. It's a refreshing read since all we seem to hear about are the mega sales of folk like Amanda Hocking and J A Konrath, but for every big seller there are thousands of others struggling with low, often non existent, sales. So why is this? Well there's a lot of dross out there, of course.But even well established authors, with a proven track record are finding it difficult to shift units in bulk.

Raymond Benson, a well known  writer, the third official author of the James Bond series, recently wrote about his own difficulties in selling his back list as eBooks and Archive friend, Chap O'Keefe, a very well respected western author, has reported that sales are slow with his own eBook titles.

Is it all about promotion?  Take Joe Konrath for instance - he constantly preaches promotion while making claims of massive sales, often selling a truck load of books before dinner time. And yet I've tried to corner him for an interview with the Archive for some time and had no response. John Locke, on the other hand, has talked to the Archive -  he holds the distinction of being the first self published author to sell a million titles. Congratulations John - we're thrilled for you. I could make the outlandish claim that the Archive is responsible for Locke's success, but of course it isn't as the author is a bloody good writer and his work is addictive. He has also worked long and hard at promoting his books but the most important fact is that they are engaging books.  However  in the spirit of outlandish claims I'm gonna' make it anyway - APPEAR ON THE ARCHIVE AND SELL A MILLION!!!!!!!!
It took some time for my hugely popular Granny Smith series to find a readership, but now that it has sales are strong from week to week, and a fourth title in the series will be published at the end of March 2016. I've promoted the hell out of these books - indeed the first three titles are currently at a low low price on Amazon until the new book comes out- and I shall continue to promote the series. 

Maybe readers are reluctant to buy eBooks by new authors after being stung by some of the badly written, badly edited crap out there, but that doesn't explain why true craftsmen like Chap O'Keefe and Raymond Benson  are struggling to make the eBook model work. At the moment we live in a world where anyone can easily publish a novel to eBook using Amazon, Smashwords or Barnes and Noble, and believe me many do - some it seems bang out something in a matter of days, bung up a cover with Photoshop and then press publish and  their creation is soon available to the world.

I do strongly believe though that true talent will shine through - at the moment the self publishing craze seems to have levelled out, but as time goes on readers will soon discover what is good and what is not. Self publishing platforms like Amazon really do need to introduce some quality control if they are to ensure their eShop contains nothing but quality writing, still I fear this will never happen since money is made from the good as well as the bad, and the bad outnumbers the good by seemingly sixteen squillionwilliontwillion to one.

Though have no fear - writers will continue to write, since that is what they have to do, what they must do.

Indie Publishing - Self publishing - Traditional publishers warned to recognise the worth of self published writers

Hannah MacDonald, currently at September publishing, warned industry insiders to send out polite rejection slips or risk losing future best-sellers to self publishing. Hannah who has worked for HarperCollins was speaking recently to the Independent newspaper and she stated that traditional publishers could do more to nurture young writers.

'It is very difficult for editors to find the time to add constructive criticism to rejections,' she told the newspaper. ' But if we can't communicate with the authors of the future we risk losing them to self publishing. They will abandon the traditional industry.'

Publishing must not be seen as a closed fortress, Hannah warned.

Tainted Stats

Weekly Stats Report: 22 Feb - 28 Feb 2016


  Mon Tues Wed Thur Fri Sat Sun Total Avg
Unique Visits21127813650434852818117
First Time Visits20927713448414548802115
Returning Visits2122234162

Wednesday 24 February 2016

Indie Publishing: Self Publishing Basics - Dealing with self doubt

No matter how well you work social media, or how skilled you are at producing blog posts that generate  serious traffic, none of this will benefit you as a writer if you don't, first produce a decent book. If you're not prepared to put in the work in, many many hours with little if any financial reward then you'd be better off giving up now. Sorry to be so negative but that's just the way it is. You need to write a damn good book. That is the single most important step in your career as a writer - getting published is hard work, staying published and becoming successful is even harder, but without first having written the best book you can then you've got no chance.

There is no easy route to success. In fact if you want to make money quickly then writing is not the way to go -  you'd be better off getting a regular job but there are some of us who positively need to write. Writing is buried in our DNA and no matter how hard it becomes we have no choice but to torture ourselves creating our fictional worlds, and although we are regularly visited by self doubt we simply work through this, trusting in the dream that one day someone will recognise our work. It is for those people, this poor multitude of which I am a member, those with a burning in their gut that can only be soothed by applying the fingers to the keyboard, the pen to the page, that this series on Indie publishing/self publishing is aimed.

Audiobook - find the book at Amazon/Barnes and Noble
Self doubt is natural, though dangerous - we all feel it from time to time but the only thing to do with it is give  it a good kick in the balls, and stamp all over it when it hits the ground. I, like everyone else, get regular visits from the self doubt monster -  whenever a passage is not going well, or I struggle with a plot point, that monster is there, leaning over my shoulder and whispering in my ear - 'Give up, call it a day. Give up.'

 I've kicked that beastie in the balls so many times that my foot aches. Now I'm lucky in that I'm a hybrid author and have and continue to be traditionally published, so whenever I fail to see any worth in my work I simply tell myself that my agent, my publishers and my readers see that worth.

 Self/Indie publishing is something I do alongside my other books - this year for instance will see two of my books traditionally published - Riding the Vengeance Trail, a western written under the penname, Jack Martin will be released in hardcover this May from Crowood Press, and Dark Valleys, a non-fiction look at historical murders commited in the South Wales valleys will be out in paperback from Pen and Sword Books.  And then on the Indie/Self publishing front next month will see the publication of the fourth title in my popular
Granny Smith series, and I've also got another project, provisionally titled, The Reluctant Terrorist in the planning stages. There are other things going on, of course. There has to be if I want to sustain and grow my writing - the first of the Granny Smith books, Granny Smith Investigates (20012) which has twice hit the top ten in the Kindle Cozy Crime charts will make the transistion to audiobook next month.

Now granted many of you reading this may not have the kudos of having a traditional publisher in order to soothe away self doubt, but that doesn't matter. If you are meant to write, then you'll do just that and with hard work, a lot of hard work, success is there for the taking. It may take awhile, a long long while to get there but real writers will get there, no matter how long it takes they will get there.

Below are a list of just three of the many authors who have made it big in the self publishing world, so when self doubt takes hold then take heart from the magnificent trio below. They've done it and so can you.

Kevin Bochaz
Kevin Bohacz -  Kevin saw his first two books, Immortality and it's sequel, Ghost of the Gods explode on Amazon, occupying high positions in the charts. His almost immediatel success surprised him -    It baffled me,and I was really looking for the cause because I’d like to be able to repeat it.”   Though Kevin's sucess is no mystery. He simply write good, compelling stories and the readers found him.

Russ Colchamiro - in 2010 he published, Finders Keepers, and found success that many of us can only dream of. He wrote this book while balancing a full-time job and three-year-old twins, so dedication is it seems of paramount importance if you want to replicate this success. And since then he has built on the first novel and created a franchise that seems to gather fans at the rate of knots. Part Terry Pratchett, part Douglas Adams, Ross has given us a universe that we want to return to time and time again.

Joe Konrath
Joe Konrath - works in the thriller, mystery and horror genres and what is truly remarkable about Joe is that as well as churning out hugely popular fiction, he manages to maintain a Indie publishing blog that is a must read for anyone interested in indie writing - the newbies guide to publishing. Joe is outspoken and often seems to be on a mission to bring traditional publishing to its knees, but above all else he writes damn good books. I've not a fan of his horror work but his mysteries are favourites...I recently read his, Cherry Bomb and found myself both laughing out loud and gnawing at my fingernails. I may not always agree with what Joe has to say on his blog but I always return to read should too.


Wednesday 17 February 2016

Indie Publishing: 2016 - The State of Play

Looking back through the archives of this blog, the reader will discover that I've always supported digital publishing. Right at the beginning, when the Kindle was just one of the eReaders fighting for our hearts, minds and money - back in 2011 in fact, in an article entitled, The Times they are a'changing, I wrote, 'It's a new phenomenon and many in the publishing industry believe that the lunatics have finally taken over the asylum - only recently there was a stigma against self publishing, which seemed to be lumped under that dreaded term, Vanity Publishing. These days however things are changing - and rapidly. With the advent of eBooks and the ease in which anyone can publish to a platform like Amazon's Kindle, we are seeing newcomers outselling long established names.'

Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won't come again
And don't speak too soon
For the wheel's still in spin
And there's no tellin' who
That it's namin'.
For the loser now
Will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin'.

And now in 2016 the eBook market has, if not mutured, then at least entered it's troubled teenage years. The Kindle device now dominates the market, although there are other eReaders that have pretty solid user bases. Kobo eReaders for one have a strong following, as does the Nook but for the writer it is the Kindle which is the gold standard. Amazon have the best eBook store out there and for author's hoping to gain an audience it is the Kindle that  offers the best opportunities. Though that is not to say you should ignore the other platforms and it is a good idea when producing your eBook file to create an ePub version alongside the mobi for uploading to marketplaces other than Amazon.

I got into self publishing, though I prefer the term Indie Publishing, back in 2012 when I made the first of the Granny Smith series available to the Kindle and Kobo devices. I'm what you would call a hybrid author - I publish traditionally with Crowood Press and Pen and Sword Books, but I also publish my cozy crime novels under my own own digital publishing house, Red Valley Books. This year will also see two of my western novels, LawMaster and Wild Bill Williams published by the excellent Piccadilly Publishing. Sales of the Granny Smith series have been strong with both Granny Smith Investigates and Granny Smith and the Deadly Frogs going top five several times in the Cosy
Crime charts. The first book, Granny Smith Invetigates went as high as No 2.

Next month will see the publication of the fourth Granny Smith title, Mudrer Plot and in the build up to publication the previous three titles are on offer for the knock down price of 0.99c or equivalent. So now may be a good time for new readers to check out the books.

Now after several years of self publshing - no scrub that and start again - Now after several years of INDIE PUBLISHING I have learned one or two things, and I intend to share these hard learned lessons with readers of the Tainted Archive through a series of articles that goes under the collective  title, Indie Publishing. This article here is an introduction to the series, and I aplogise upfront if I mention my Granny Smith series several times in each article...hey, the importance of  self publicity is one of the things you'll learn during this series of articles.

Next: Writing that book

Monday 15 February 2016

Tainted Stats

Weekly Stats Report: 8 Feb - 14 Feb 2016


  Mon Tues Wed Thur Fri Sat Sun Total Avg
Unique Visits241792273341723462751,674239
First Time Visits240742233311683452701,651236
Returning Visits1543415233

Sunday 14 February 2016

Q&A session with the creator of Granny Smith

This MARCH a all new Granny Smith adventure will be hitting the digital bookshelves, and in order to celebrate the release of the eagerly awaited fourth book in the Granny Smith series, the first three titles have been reduced to 0.99c on Amazon for the Kindle versions. This offer will continue until 30th March so why not catch up on Granny Smith now. Get yourself in the loop before the publication of, Granny Smith: Murder Plot.

Born in 1965, Gary M. Dobbs (Gary Martin Dobbs) is a British writer and actor. As a writer using the pen name Jack Martin[1] he is responsible for a string of popular westerns for Robert Hale's Black Horse Western imprint. These include 'Arkansas Smith', 'The Ballad of Delta Rose', and 'The Afterlife of Slim McCord'.
As Gary M. Dobbs he has written the popular series of mysteries featuring the character of Granny Smith - described as Miss Marple on steroids. As an actor Dobbs has appeared (often unaccredited) in many British TV shows, as well as in the films The Reverend[2] and Risen.[3] In 2014 Gary wrote the non-fiction historical book, Cardiff and the Valleys in the Great War, published in 2015 by Pen and Sword Books.

Q- So what next for Granny Smith?

A-    Well, of course we have just seen Gerald’s wedding,which changes the Granniverse somewhat.  The next full-length novel will be called Murder Plot and concerns murder and intrigue at the allotments society. It's very nearly ready to go and will see publication at the end of March.

Q-Where did the idea for Granny Smith come from?

A- The back of my brain, likely. I’ve a fondness for classic crime fiction and also the old Ealing comedy movies. I think that the Ealing movies and Agatha Christie, particularly her Miss Marple series are the two biggest influences on the Granny Smith series, but there are other influences that all meld together to form the unique universe of the novels, the Granniverse of you like. I love Tom Sharpe for instance and although my writing maybe more PG Tips than PG Wodehouse I do hope there’s a lot of good humour in the books. M C Beaton’s The Agatha Raisin series are also a major influence. I’m aiming for the sky with Granny Smith, but if I only reach the shithouse roof then at least I tried.

Q – The books usually concern a murder and the subsequent investigation. Does humour have a place amongst such dark themes?

A- The novels would fall loosely into the cozy crime category, so yes there is a murder but this takes place off page and there is very little gore or graphic detail. And of course the characters are all so much larger than life. We know we’re not dealing with a real world murder and all the ramifications resulting from such.  It’s all fantasy as
is our detective the very wonderful Granny Smith. Miss Marple on steroids, indeed. In one of the reviews someone called her, Batman with dentures...I think I like that.

Q- Which character from the Granny Smith books would you most compare yourself to?

A-    Gerald, obviously! But no I think there’s a bit of myself in all the characters. I love the way Granny sees political correctness for what it truly is and I hope I share this trait. Also Gerald’s flamboyance, Arthur’s lust for solitude and Twice’s self importance are swirling around in my DNA.

Q- Granny aged ten years from the original draft of the first novel. Why was this?

A-    It’s true when I first wrote Granny Smith she was in her early Sixties, but I always wanted her to be older. I always thought her early Seventies was the correct age for the character but I was worried that it would be too much of a stretch to imagine all the things she does and so I created her as an extremely fit woman in her Sixties – which is not old by modern standards. Of course I soon realised that this was a mistake and that she had to be an older woman – and so I republished the first novel and aged her. That’s the beauty of electronic publishing in that it is so easy to go back and revise a book that’s already been published. I guess I’ll age Granny into her Eighties over maybe ten books.

Q- So you see the series going on for at least ten books?

A-    And more. Granny’s a fun character to play with and I love the way the world looks through her eyes. I’ve become a fan of series characters in cozy crime and especially enjoy the works of Simon Brett, M. C. Beaton and Lesley Cookman and if these guys can continue to come up with ideas for their characters then I’m sure I can for mine.

Q- You have had some success writing westerns as Jack Martin so isn’t cozy crime a big switch?

A-    Not really. My westerns contain a lot of humour. And I see no reason why a writer is expected to stick to one genre. That doesn’t happen in other fields where creators are free to switch genres whenever the fancy or need takes them. Stephen Spielberg doesn’t only make one kind of movie and The Beatles switched genres from track to track. I write the story that takes over my imagination at any given time and the genre is a secondary issue.

Q- So would you write Erotica?

A-    Good God, no. I find it difficult to type one-handed.

Q- Where can people find out more about your writing?

A-    That’s a convenient question – thank you. Well you can follow me on Twitter @garymartindobbs and I keep a Facebook page under the name Gary Martin Dobbs and then there’s my very active blog, The Tainted Archive which you can find at . Oh and Granny has her own Facebook page:

Q- Finally where you get your ideas?

A-    Well I do a lot of people watching – well one woman really but the police have told me I’ve got to stop. Where do ideas come from? Anywhere and everywhere – from other books, movies, events in newspapers.

Q- Tell the truth: you made these questions up yourself didn’t you?



"The story then follows Granny Alice Mary Smith into various stages of the mystery in a humorous but intense way. The book is beautifully written and is a pleasure to read. The Miss Marple references are not only in our mind but the author has made them too, calling Granny Smith as “Miss Marple on steroids”

It is a cozy and wonderful murder mystery, the likes of which, I have not read for a long time. Agatha Christie story lovers must catch this book. It brings back many memories of age old murder mystery classics.
" Goodreads five star review for Granny Smith Investigates


Monday 8 February 2016

Everyone loves a special offer

Granny Smith and the Deadly Frogs currently on special offer on Amazon worlwide...remember please support this author by leaving a review.

Currently at a special promotion price for the eBook at Amazon.
'As usual, Granny is deep in trouble again. The pipe smoking Welsh granny is trying to help the conservationists save a pond, that may have a rare species of frog from becoming extinct. I thought I had the "perp" figured out, but at the end was surprised that it wasn't who I thought it was. I liked the book and the characters.' Five Star Review

'Writer Gary Dobbs has created a modern day cozy series that can stand alongside some of those series by British Isles authors that I devoured in my early years. He has a great mystery here and brings that style of cozy forward into the twenty-first century, touching on modern subjects that wouldn't have been tolerated back then, Hell, not even thought of back then.' Amazon five star review

Sunday 7 February 2016

Tainted Stats

Weekly Stats Report: 1 Feb - 7 Feb 2016


  Mon Tues Wed Thur Fri Sat Sun Total Avg
Unique Visits8688114140117129160834119
First Time Visits7985109138111126154802115
Returning Visits7352636325

Audiobooks, Miss Marple on steroids and a deadly frog or two.....

Granny Smith Investigates has been a great success for me, and kicked off the Granny Smith series - so I am especially excited to sign up with Audible for the book to be turned into an eBook. The title is currently in the early stages of production, - this means that voice actresses are currently  being auditioned to the read the story, and I anticipate having some big news within the next few weeks. There are two other books currently available in the series, though the third title, The Welsh Connection is actually a short story, and a fourth book, Murder Plot will see publication this March.

I am hoping that the audiobook release coinicides with the next Granny Smith book, Murder Plot which is due for publication at the end of this coming March - it will certainly be nice if it works out that way, but the audiobook production is the resonsibility of the experts at Audible, and this is a new venture for me so I'm not sure how long the process actually takes. All I know is that voice actresses are currently being auditioned to read the title.

The Granny Smith series are what you would call cozy crimes, though I prefer the description, comedic capers. Ah well, I'm funny that way. And if you haven't read any of the books, and you fancy catching up on this senior detective then why not check out the books. The easiest way of getting hold of titles is to pop over to Amazon where there are some great offers on the Kindle versions, though they are available for other eBook platforms as well, and can be found at most eBook sales websites. 
A delightful story with an unpredictable plot, remarkable characters, unrealistic happenings that combine for an engaging lighthearted read. Granny Smith, named after the apple convincingly morphs into "Miss Marple on steroids". Amazon Review

The Welsh elements, the humour, the familiar characters and a well-developed plot combine to produce a better than average cozy mystery. What more could you ask for? Apart from the next in the series? Amazon Review

The first title in the series, Granny Smith Investigates sees the intrepid slueth, Miss Marple on steroids, Batman with dentures, trying to solve the murder of her next door neighbour, while the second, The Deadly Frogs finds Granny up to her neck in murder and mayhem when she gets herself involved with a group of enviromentalists who are trying to save a pond containing rare frogs from property developers. The third title, The Welsh Connection is a short story that proves that no matter where  Granny goes murder is not far behind and terror comes to Eurodisney.

I downloaded this book and couldnt put it down its brilliant granny smith is a no nonsense lady that has an way of getting to the truth which is sheer brilliance she really is miss marple on steroids cant wait for the next book in the series. Amazon Review

Monday 1 February 2016

The Welsh Ripper Killings

" Buffalo Bill and Jack the Ripper in Wales around the turn of the twentieth century, kind of catches the imagination doesn't it. Lots of action with intriguing characters, a very good read. I have to admit the ending left me hanging but I understood the logic of it. Read it it and see what you think "   Five Star Amazon Review

The process of producing an eBook is obviously quite different to that of a physical book, but the editing process for The Welsh Ripper Killings has been just as strenuous .  I've written about many aspects of the novel in previous posts and so I thought I'd tell you all a little about Police Inspector Frank Parade's town of Pontypridd.

Parade's beat is the Welsh town of Pontypridd - "Pontypridd was a vibrant cosmopolitan town and had all the attendant problems that went with such prosperity. Alongside the great wealth there existed extreme poverty and the streets were often lawless – river traders, gypsies, pickpockets, drifters, even escaped convicts ranging from petty thieves to crazed killers would come up the canals and make for the alehouses and taverns of which there were plenty. There they would mingle and lose themselves among the sea of faces. Though it had not always been so and the town, once a rural backwater, had been born out of the industrialisation of the surrounding areas and had benefited from its close proximity to the Glamorganshire Canal, which allowed access from Merthyr’s coalfields to the docks in Cardiff and from there the world beyond."

One area of Pontypridd featured heavily in the book is The Tumble - the modern day Tumble is pictured left and the pic above is the same area as it was in Parade's day. Note the trams that ran the length of the town during the days that Frank Parade walked the cobbled streets.
Today the Tumble is made up of a busy main road but sadly the town is no longer the thriving attraction it once was. The main building in the picture is today known as The Soul Suite but in Parade's day it was The White Hart and behind that is the River Taff and the beautiful Ponty Park.
I have tried to remain accurate with Ponty's georgraphy in The Welsh Ripper KIllings although I have taken some artistic licence in the name of telling a story. For instance in the novel the fictional alehouse, The Butcher's Arms is situated opposite the White Hart and it is here that much of the action takes place. The landlord is one Eli Jenkins, a small wiry man who is always on the lookout to make money, legal or otherwise.
"Eventually the Taff Vale railway had linked Pontypridd to the Rhondda creating a fast and efficient artery into the coal scarred hills. Each year would see over 57 million tons of steam coal shipped down from The Black Klondike, as the valleys were
now known. The coal would then be transported down to Cardiff and Barry and once again sent around the world. Fires, the industrialised world over burned bright with Rhondda coal."
The Welsh Ripper Killings is available now from Amazon, Smashwords and anywhere eBooks are sold.

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