Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Treasure Hunt - SHOW ME YOUR NOOK!

In eBook-world the focus is so often on the Kindle, Amazon’s baby and the device that brought eReading to the world. It’s far from alone though, with a rapidly increasing number of choices available even in the UK (my home). There’s now the Kobo, the Apple tablets and – finally - the Nook. 

In celebration (it’s Christmas after all), I’ve got together with a few other authors and, until December 31st, we've got a fun offer so you can win some free ePub books – the format that will load into the Nook (or the Kobo or Apple readers). So...

Show me a picture of you with your NOOK! 
(Keep it clean, people) 

Just post the picture on my Facebook page - and leave a message so I can get back in touch! 

I might not be around much over the holidays (hey, authors need a break too), but I promise once we’re all back to work (probably around 7th January) I’ll be in touch with a coupon code for you to download a shiny new copy of my thriller The Defector from the Smashwords store.

It’s not just me though – head to any of the following authors hang-outs, because they are also playing Show Me Your NOOK!  They will have similar instructions to mine, although the way you get the ebook may vary.  

Fantasy, Humour, Mystery, Nonfiction, Romance, Science Fiction -- who knows what they're offering?  

Here are other authors playing Show Me Your NOOK!

Cat Kimbriel -- Fires of Nuala -- Science Fiction
Jeffrey A. Carver  --- Eternity's End --- Science Fiction
Phyllis Irene Radford -- Guardian of the Balance -- Fantasy 
Brenda Hiatt -- Lord Dearborn's Destiny -- Regency Romance
Phoebe Matthews -- Demonspell -- Contemporary Fantasy
Lorraine Bartlett -- Murder On The Mind -- Mystery
Ruth Harris -- Modern Women -- Chick Lit  
Doranna Durgin -- Barrenlands -- Fantasy
Jennifer Stevenson -- King of Hearts -- Romantic Comedy
Vonda N. McIntyre -- Starfarers, Book One of the Starfarers Quartet -- Science Fiction
Lise McClendon -- All Your Pretty Dreams -- New Adult Fiction -- 

Go get ‘em folks – just... Show us your NOOK!

And have a fabulous holidays -- see you back here in 2013!!

Obligatory disclaimer: All copyrights to the free books are retained by the authors. You may share this post in its entirety.  All pictures must be posted by 11:59 PM, December 31, 2012, CST.  If anyone posts any of these EPUBs to a torrent site, the portal closes and we won't have any more games.  This is a gift to you, not an invitation to set the book free forever.  If you post a picture that would be considered in bad taste, it will be deleted and you won't get a coupon code.  Thank you for keeping things fun!

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Zero Day by David Baldacci

I’ve not read any David Baldacci books before, and I only started with this one because it sat at the top  of the UK charts with a bunch of good reviews and a 20p price tag – but I’m glad I picked it out, and I’m giving it four stars. It would be three and a half, but that isn’t possible.

Zero Day is the first in what I’m sure will be a series starring Jack Rea... sorry, not Jack Reacher, John Puller. Spot what Baldacci did there? Many other reviewers have drawn the comparison between Lee Child’s Jack Reacher and Baldacci’s Puller, and while there are only seven basic plots in story-telling and some overlap is inevitable, I’d still have to say that Baldacci’s Reacher is unnecessarily close to Child’s Puller. If you see what I mean.

The story begins with John Puller being assigned to investigate the murder of an entire family. Puller is Army CID, and he’s given the job because the father was in Defence Intelligence. The investigation unwinds slowly, and the book really gets going at about three quarters of the way through when we learn the reason for the murder. It was done to cover up multiple wrong-doings, and part of that is a very nasty terrorist attack that Puller must prevent once he’s figured out who the bad guys are.

The book’s writing style is a curious mix of spare with a tendency to being long-winded. The set pieces are economically described – a little bit too economical for my liking, it’s a bit slow in the slow parts, and never really fires up in the action.

This is not gritty realism, this is a CSI-style procedural detective story, with thriller action in the end game – also very much like a Jack Reacher book. So if you’re one of those people for whom Child’s one-a-year output is not enough, then this is right up your street.

Despite my reservations about the comparisons, I enjoyed this one and thought it was just about worth the four stars. It stretched my suspension of disbelief too much to stand any chance of getting the fifth star, and while I was always engaged with the story, it never came close to rising up and sweeping me away.

It was a perfectly good nuts and bolts thriller with, for the most part, tab b very effectively fitted into slot b. If you’re looking for paroxysms of excitement or enlightenment, this isn’t where you’ll find it, but it’s a more than pleasant diversion for a winter evening.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

A Tale of Two Sales

Christmas has been rushing up like the light at the end of the tunnel (or more like an on-coming train) for a while now, so this was always going to be a short blog. The festive season focuses the mind of anyone in the book trade like nothing else.

It used to be that Christmas shopping was the key sales period for the whole year. It’s still really important for printed books as they make such great presents. And the village that I live in recently had ‘late-night’ shopping for a couple of evenings to cater to the present-shopping brigade. The local gallery, Sea Sky Art stocks my books, so they asked me to come in and do a ‘signing’.

This really is old school book selling – making a sale by hand, of an individual, signed 'spy thriller' to the person you have just spent five or ten minutes talking to about books, life and the universe. It’s a wonderful experience, and I had a great night. My wife, Tina is a photographer and she came with me to take some pics – there were carol singers, minced pies and mulled wine. It really felt like Christmas had started.

But these days, the peak book-selling period extends a month or three into the New Year. And that’s because so many eReaders and tablets are given as presents. All those new owners look to Amazon, Nook, Kobo and Apple to load up with something to read right after they unwrap their new toy on Christmas Day – and either that or Boxing Day is usually the top sales day for eBooks.

It was with this in mind that I have spent every spare minute over the last couple of months sprucing up my book pages on Amazon and the other websites. New book descriptions, jazzed up formatting, a new cover here, a change of category there... whatever seemed like it might help. I’ve also made The Wrecking Crew, one of my ‘Janac’s Games’ action thrillers available as a free download, the idea being that a good position in the ‘Free’ charts will help people find the others, and so boost sales overall.

I got a big helping hand on that front when the book was featured on the fabulous Ereader News Today on Monday, 11th December. The Wrecking Crew shot up the charts into the Amazon Top 100, and reached #1 on the US Spy Thriller Chart. This could not be more different from hand-selling printed books – in the time it takes to sell one paperback, tens, or even hundreds of eBooks can be downloaded. And I have no idea who those ereaders are, unless they pop back in a week, month or a year and write a review. It’s a very different experience of selling books, but no less thrilling when you see your pride and joy hit the top of a chart.

I don’t know where it’ll be when you’re reading this – hopefully it’ll stay high enough to boost the visibility of all my books right through into the New Year. So if it’s after the great unwrapping, go have a peak at the Spy Thriller Charts in the US, or in the UK, and see how I’m doing... 

In the meantime, I hope you’re not in the middle of a last-minute shopping frenzy, have your turkey wrapped, your presents decorated and your tree ordered. Or... is that... oh, never mind. Happy Christmas and Merry New Year.