Give A #Dog A #Free Home – http://t.co/bWCW8z7aMy 11-13th April Amazon Worldwide

You can’t drive a better bargain than free!

There is a long tradition of novelists taking real characters and turning them into literary figures. Sherlock Holmes, James Bond, Severus Snape, Indiana Jones, Dorian Gray and Alf The Workshop Dog were all based on real people …..and a dog of course. 

If you want to check out the real Alf  FOR FREE you will able to see him live by using the interactive features in Alf The Workshop Dog which goes free on 11th, 12th and 13th April.

In the story Alf the homeless mutt helps out at a Bus depot workshop by finding tools and sniffing out waste food on a fleet of buses. Do I hear you saying “Aah – poor thing”.  Well, here’s your chance to give a dog a home and learn the whole story. 


Emma thinx: Police dogs work on leads.

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Bargain Books. Words Are Cheap.

Who am I? What is this Amazon thing?

I have the honour to write features for a “lifestyle” magazine. Recently the editor edged me into a side room. She confided that the trouble with my writing was that I used words. What people actually wanted was more pictures. In a forced outdoor flash I knew where I had been going wrong. For too long I had been trying to walkie-talkie the ball into the net. It was a Eureka moment almost equal to yesterday when David Beckham met an Amazonian Indian who had never heard of him. Dave – chill! No one at Amazon has ever heard of me and I’ve been lost in their jungle for years. 

It’s politics – it’s our National Y Front.


Okay – here is the deal. I’m having a big push to sell some books. This blog has nothing at all to do with David Beckham. If you read this Dave, get in touch for free copies of all my books. We Londoners need to stick together. After all, I’ve always cheered every swerve of your balls.

My own missions along the Amazon have brought little success. These days I have branched out onto all manner of tributaries. It’s great to see that Dave is getting away from football and doing the same thing.

99c/77p/€0,94 for sexy romance novel SHANNON’S LAW this week only…




Emma Thinx: A word is worth a thousand pictures. It’s your mind.








Amazon – My Struggle.

There is a point at which tragedy can become the stuff of humour without offending good taste. It is a narrow line to walk for a comedian. It is an even narrower line for a romantic novelist in high heels. The death of Casanova from a love borne disease is part of history rather than accessible sorrow. Even football (soccer) players are unlikely to cry in public at the thought.  It is an irony rather than a work related disease and a claim for compensation. 

The six wives of King Henry VIII became the subjects of music hall songs under Queen Victoria. The thousands who died from the ambitions of Napoleon receive a fraction of the interest lavished on his love for Josephine. 

So it was that I opened my e mail inbox this morning to find a message from Amazon inviting me to trade in Adolf Hitler for a gift voucher. I laughed – I must admit I sat here laughing. Was there someone with a sense of humour at the Amazon time horizon of the universe? All the indications so far had been to the contrary. But there it was – I could hand in my copy of Mein Kampf and spend my reward on other goods. I had always smiled when Amazon had asked me to review this work of Hitler. I read some reviews in which serious types had taken issue with Hitler’s grasp of genetics. A few had criticised his prose style. So – these were the same guys who dish out my one star because of a misplaced hyphen on page 23. 

It is true. I do have a copy of Mein Kampf. It rests on a shelf among The Bible, The Koran, Einstein’s Theory of surviving Christmas with relatives, The Communist Manifesto and a Harlequin romance novel “The Billionaire’s Secret Love Child”. Ironically, to one side of Hitler is a workshop manual for the Volkswagen Beetle and on the other the poetic works of Wordsworth. 

Just imagine the fate of anyone in Nazi Germany sending back their copy of Mein Kampf. My guess is that their gift voucher would have been delivered by armed men in uniform and included a one way train ticket. 

Comrades – we have come a long way. We are free to laugh. We are free to mock. We are free to know.  Beyond the fragile walls of our society we know there are no gift vouchers for liberty. I’m gonna be keeping the words of the enemy on the shelf so that I’m sure to know them. The worry is what Amazon knows about me…..and who else might like to know in the future.


Emma Thinx: There’s no trade in on your conscience. It’s yours. 







Amazon GC 30$/£20/€25 and book giveaway – Celebrate SHANNON’S LAW pre-launch blog tour

To celebrate the pre-launch blog tour of Shannon’s Law I have set up a fabulous Rafflecopter Giveaway with a first prize of $30 £20 €25 Amazon Giftcard and of course, paperback and digital copies of Shannon’s Law.  All entries are free – you can gain extra entries by commenting daily on blogs hosting the tour, following on Facebook or Pinterest etc.

To make the party go with a swing, all entrants get a FREE digital copy of “Cop’s Kitchen.” This is the companion cookbook to the romance – so you too can cook the meals and recipes that Shannon enjoys in the story.


The Rafflecopter giveaway runs from 1st of February 2014 and finishes in early March.

Enter here:



a Rafflecopter giveaway


Follow the tour for extra entries:

31 st Jan
3rd Feb
3rd Feb
3rd Feb
5th Feb
6 Feb
7 Feb
7 Feb
8th Feb
9 Feb
10 Feb
10 Feb
11 Feb
11 Feb
13 Feb
13 Feb
14 Feb
17 Feb
18 Feb
19 Feb
19 Feb
20 Feb
20 Feb
21 Feb
21 Feb
23 Feb
25 Feb
27 Feb
27 Feb
…and the launch day online virtual tea party:              28 Feb
https://www.facebook.com/ShannonsLaw   

Roll up. Roll up. It’s all the fun of the fayre.


Emma Thinx: You’re in the soup when the cops throw the cook book at you. 












Calling all authors: have you thought about turning your novel into an audiobook? Why you should and how to do it…

Gypsie Rosalee’s fortune telling tent?  No – it’s Jasper de Montfort (really?) in his DIY sound booth!
After my recent post on Venture Galleries “Hooks, Hopes, and Dialogue. Would you rather read or be read to?” I had a couple of comments asking for more information about the costs of creating an audiobook version of a novel and whether it was worth the investment? The following post is based on my response back to these queries.
So, how much does it cost to get your book into audio format?  The costs depend on how far you want to push the boat out – use an actor (prices vary depending on experience/fame levels etc) or record it and edit it yourself?
Some actors will take a royalty share but most want a fee as there is significant work involved producing an audiobook.  Typically they charge a fee that includes the editing – so you get  a price per finished hour of audio – which can vary from $200-$400. So for a 90,000 word book, this would come out at around 10 hours of finished audio – costing between $2000 and $4000.
The Gentleman and The Rogue is now a finished audiobook which I produced on behalf of Summer Devon and Bonnie Dee (the authors) via ACX.  For this I received a $900 up-front bonus stipend and will get  half the royalties on any sales.  
The narrator then usually records a 30 minute sample – the first 3500 words – for approval.  This is the last chance for the author to request any change of style or accent etc and is the basis for the way that the rest of the book will be recorded. The next time the author is contacted will be with the whole book for final approval.This may sound steep – but  a 10 hour finished book will have at least 75 hours of solid work behind it – recording, editing and final quality check (it takes 10 hours just to listen to it!). If you divide it out, this is paying the actor about $27 per hour on the lower rate – which is not not excessive for a professional running a business.   However, it is money that would be paid before any sales – if you can get the actor to agree to a split-royalty deal (usually they will want 50%) then it makes it easier to achieve.  Audible have many such actors on ACX.com.  
For those of you who haven’t visited ACX – you should – it is a brilliant uploading service for independent producers and authors.  They allow authors to advertise for the type of narrator they would like (accent, age, style etc) and provide an audition text for any interested party to use to record a sound test.  The auditions come in, the author selects the one they like best and then the narrator goes off to do the work.   It is a really simple utility to use and it marries authors and producers up and handles contracts, payments, sign offs etc and then gets the finished job up onto Amazon, Audible and iTunes.  They offer all sorts of payment options for producers – including royalty splits and they then handle the payments to you when the book sales start flooding in….  With this option your outlay is minimal – you are just sacrificing half your future royalties.  If you are lucky to have a book that sells well on Amazon, ACX may earmark your book by adding their own stipend bonus payment to encourage producers to audition for your book (this is usually $100 per thousand words and is paid for by ACX – not the author!!).
The other option to creating your audiobook is the DIY method. However – do not underestimate this task.  It may sound like a way of saving a couple of thousand dollars or keeping all the royalties for yourself – I have narrated some of my own books and believe me,  it’s harder than you would imagine.  To be frank, some folk just cannot read a story out loud – even if they wrote it. Whilst it’s great to be able to advertise the  ‘authentic voice of the author’ – you need to be honest about this and maybe get a friend to tell you if your reading voice sucks.  Don’t be offended by the truth – it is a skill that actors train for years to achieve.  I know that my voice is not ideal – I have too much ‘S’ sound (teccie term – sibilance) but some of this can be filtered out post-recording. I am also prone to drone and have to re-record many times before I get the level of animation that I think is needed.
Try a  no-cost test : download Audacity (free) and record yourself reading  a couple of pages from one of your  books using the mic on your computer. Play it back  – close your eyes and listen – are you able to sound animated? Do you tell the  story or is it just a flat reading? Can you differentiate between the characters if there is dialogue? Would you be happy to pay $20 to listen to your style of delivery for 10 hours? My impression is that many of the most successful narrators are outgoing Thespians rather than those tormented taciturn screenopath scribes.
As an alternative to doing a whole book, you could try having a practice on a poem or other inspirational text. When I was considering the audio option I recorded one of my own poems and put it up on you tube. I made a video and dubbed in the soundtrack. I found this a valuable experience and you may just end up with a work of art. In any event it will paste your name on just a little more of the wall of life.  You do not need to make a video – a morphing still shot sequence works well (I use One True Media which is easy peasy to use and free but there are many other packages out there e.g Windows Movie Maker). My poem has now had about 1100 views – so that means my “brand” has just a little more exposure.  Also – I find that doing this kind of stuff makes me feel a bit more like an “ARTIST”. Writing Romance means you have to let go and really dig out those juicy feelings that might embarrass your neighbour.  Actor types have that  unembarrassed confidence to express feelings and some of that has fed back into my writing even though I am no actress.
In terms of the 75 hours work to get a book done – this is quite a lot of time to find in a busy author’s day.  It will stop you from writing/living for around two weeks solid – or longer if you have other commitments – e.g. food/sleep/conversation with spouse.   Bear in mind that in reality it’s difficult to do more than about 20 mins recording at a time – your voice gets tired and it’s difficult to be “in character” and maintain an accent or voice for much longer. This is when you  start to make lots of mistakes – and that means retakes. So the recording may take much longer than you expect!  At least if it’s at home you can have rests and do other jobs in between, or run off and refresh with a “cuppa’”and some contact with the outside world!.
The good news is – It’s relatively cheap to set up a home-studio as there is excellent free software available (e.g. Audacity) and a reasonable quality podcast microphone, stand, ‘pop screen’ and headphones can be acquired for less than $200.  I got mine from Amazon.
Once you have recorded the whole book – then comes the production phase – editing (removing errors and chopping into suitable file sizes) and “mastering” (smoothing out the ‘S’ for my voice, making sure the chapters have consistent sound levels, preparing them for upload to Audible via ACX etc).
Editing an audiobook  is a painstaking job – removing the errors from the recording and maybe adding in pauses for effect or cutting long gaps to smooth out dialogue.  In addition you have to be listening out for and then remove, all the  strange wheezes and pops, coughs and clunks and stomach gurgles that somehow get onto the track.  Add to this the removal of odd external street noises (police sirens, dogs barking etc) which are inevitable if you do not record in a sound-proofed room or have a directional mic.  There is some art involved in this – deciding to leave a noisy breath in the middle of a sentence or removing one from the beginning of a phrase will depend on the flow and context of the passage.  Many authors have not planned in advance for a paragraph to be read aloud and this makes the job of the recording artist quite a challenge.  Frequently there are gaspings as the poor actor struggles to get in enough air after a long sentence with many sub-clauses or commas!
Some work could only ever be read by the author. One of my favourite possessions is a CD of Bukowski reading his own poems. The quality is appalling. He sounds drunk and slurred, there are all manner of clunks, gasps, groans, snorts and cigarette sucking sounds. It is entirely unprofessional with a  “stuff you if you don’t like it” tone. However, this is its quality and value. My guess is that it would not get past the ACX technical checking department.
When the whole book is finished, it needs to be divided into suitably-sized chapters – I tend to keep mine to around 20 minutes wherever possible as I find this is a popular length for the listener.   I then upload each chapter onto ACX – this is a very smooth process, the ACX site is so well organised and easy to use.  The author is expected to listen to the whole thing and approve it – or request any (hopefully minor!) changes.  If you are doing your own book yourself, you will have the satisfaction of signing yourself off!   It’s then a case of waiting for ACX to check the quality of your recording and then load it up onto Amazon, Audible and iTunes.  This is a nail-biting time and can last as long as four weeks.
Then joy – your audiobook appears on sale to the public..  I was quite shocked at the premium prices that are paid for audiobooks – especially if bought as a one-off impulse buy – we are talking around $20 for a 10 hour book compared to a typical Kindle price of $5 for this length of book (90000 words).  The deal on ACX is great – they take half the money and split the other half between the author and the producer (who then has to pay the narrator).  So the author gets $5 per sale – which is far better return than on the Kindle version.  However, most people into audiobooks have subscriptions to Audible, iTunes etc and use their monthly credit allowance, so the income for the purchase is reduced. So far, sales of the book I have on sale on ACX have been 50/50 between full price and monthly credits – so averaging about  $3.50 per sale to me as the producer.
So for authors thinking about audiobooks –  using an ACX narrator on the split-royalty deal will give you an audiobook for no up-front outlay, that brings in at least the same yield as your Kindle version and the added bonus of an additional medium in which to expose your work.
If you were happy to do the recording and editing yourself, as author and producer – you would  would get twice this – $7 which is much higher than the Kindle royalties but you will have had to invest the 75 hours of your time to create the audiobook. There is only one question.  Are you an introspective focused writer or an outgoing thespian – some lucky souls  are both.  If you are not, ask this question: would you hire an amateur nuclear power station designer?  Personally, I think both options give you a cost-effective means of getting your stories in front of a wider audience.
Those of you in the USA have the wonderful resource of ACX at your disposal. On their site you will find all manner of help and advice. Youtube carries tutorials on voice coaching and accent development. In the great knowledgewurst-of-infinite-everything sausage, every possible resource is there on the net.
Sadly, at present ACX is closed to non US citizens even though there are hordes of writers looking for British-English narrators and equally, scores of  British authors desperate to get their books out into the audio arena. This ban has now been applied to me and I can no longer put books out on ACX. We live in hope. We keep our narrators revved up, we are recording all our books ready for that moment and we know that we produce the goods that sell. If you have to good fortune to live in the USA, then ACX is the platform.
Based on my post for The VG Authors Collection (click the badge to find more)

Love In A Hopeless Place – Emma Calin’s new book launched today

Hearing extracts from the opera “Carmen” playing on my grandparents radiogram I used to imagine myself as a person of high culture at the age of ten. I imagined that Carmen was some kind of queen or at least a princess.  It was some years later I saw the opera on TV and discovered that Carmen worked in a cigarette factory. How could this be? How could such a glamorous tragic femme fatale spend her days in such an environment? Why would an artist place his character in such a setting?

Of course, the question was as innocent as I was in those days. Since then I have set stories in a poultry killing plant, a broken-down wreck of a truck and several threadbare domestic interiors. As I prepare to launch

I realise that my contribution to literature may be to set a story in a condom warehouse. Among the packets of Ridged Ticklers and Pleasure Domes a story of lust and love unfolds into passion, violence and destruction. (The names of the condoms have been altered slightly). 



So – why the condom warehouse? The answer is of course, that this is a true story from my own life experience and that is where Lyn, our heroine worked. I was able to see all sides of these events and have added very little. I can say no more. 

This novelette is the last of the series of tales from the gritty streets which form the “Love in a Hopeless Place Collection” which will appear in July. At last, I have gotten that piece of grit out of my eye and can see clear Romance ahead. Indeed, I am working on a story for a publisher almost as if I were a proper writer, although probably I should not go that far. All I can say is that a manly Lord and his elegant lover come together as the sun sets in Venice. Defo not a dead turkey, car smash or condom in sight. Well, you can have too much of a good thing.

Find your copy of the book

Amazon Worldwide book link: viewBook.at/B00D8K61QQ
Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/LoveInAHopelessPlaceNovel

Celebrate and enter my draw to win a copy for yourself:
a Rafflecopter giveaway


Emma Thinx: A cold heart is love’s only hopeless place





Escape To Love Goes Live

Escape on a CD

Well, there it goes – out into the cyber-dome to suffer the slings and arrows of Amazoneous fortune or to take arms against a sea of bubbles. Once they’re gone – there is only one thing to do. Yes – write another one, or rather crack on with the one on the slipway.

Here is the Worldwide Amazon link to ESCAPE TO LOVE.  The Kindle Edition includes a FREE 80 minute audiobook download.

As promised I have attached the sound file for Chapter One of the audio book. The voice of course, is mine. 

Escape with an iPod – let me read it for you!

I am out on the first stop of my mini book launch blog tour at 
Anneli’s Place in CANADA today.  Drop over and leave a message about where you would chose for your great escape get your chance to win a copy of Escape To Love!


Emma Thinx: Words – what would they say if they could speak for themselves?

The Chosen

Short story including free audio book

My body aches. Yesterday I was a surf bunny. Today I feel like a sandblasted rodent casserole. Of course, I am home in France. Already a few glasses of smooth Bordeaux wine have loosened my tensions and this wicked world seems a long way away. The sun drenched brochure busting beaches of the Ile d’ Oleron are too close to ignore. Yesterday I set out with my body board and came back with a boarded up body. Something has happened in the last 25 years – but at least a lot more of me floats nicely.

Surf bunny

This preamble on my luxurious hedonism brings me to the real subject of this blog. We all have dreams of the good life one day. Wealth, worldly success and status could be ours one day. For many folk of my latter end boomer generation, there were levers there to be pulled. Most of my contemporaries obtained jobs and careers with quite modest educational qualifications. Company pensions were generous and you could expect to bring up kids in a decent dwelling. Things are far tougher now – just reflect for a minute on the long term impact of  50%  youth unemployment in Greece and Spain. My own life has been fairly much working class – but there was work and an income to be gained.  


One of the paradoxical comedy clichés of our time is the aspirational no-hoper. The hapless home mechanics and D.I.Y. enthusiasts provide a wealth of sit-com fodder. The little guy who dreams of getting to be Mr BIG, the ugly guy who tries to date Miss World are far more than comic stereotypes. There are thousands and thousands of them. I think I might be one in my own little way. A while ago I was waiting for a party at a horse race meeting and I was chatting to a few other drivers about the lives they had led. A chatty Londoner explained to me that although he was a humble figure, he had once been wealthy and that it was only a matter of time until he was up there again. He told me a bizarre love story. I don’t think he guessed that I would write it down as “The Chosen”. 


I love short stories. As a kid I used to listen to them on the radio. Typically a story would last for 15 minutes. To me, this is how the narrative must have been before literacy. Folk would tell a story of a real event or a handed down traditional tale. The listeners would stretch their imaginations to visualise the characters. My idea of a magic mammoth may not be yours! (As a child I hated picture books that stole my own images).  I have always written short stories and I believe in them as a pure form of the tale. The possibility of adding audio now gives authors the chance to go back to the true roots of fiction – the out loud story. The novel is a new experiment by comparison. The continuing success of “Sub Prime” with audio has encouraged me to add a free audio track to “The Chosen”. So great is my belief in the audio story that I release stories as “singles” in the way that the old 45 records were sold. If you look at the way that music is purchased on iTunes it is clear that punters are keen to pay a few pence for just a single track from an album rather than buy the whole deal. Stephen Woodfin’s blog provides an interesting discussion on this topic.

Oscar Sparrow

“The Chosen” is narrated by my best mate,  the poet Oscar Sparrow. (He is used to reading in front of people and not getting paid). The story was written specifically for audio with the emphasis on dialogue between two characters. In order to differentiate between them I gave them very different accents. Since I do not like strong accents in written text, I have used plain English for the characters. The audio is accented and essentially is a different form of the story. If you get it, please let me know how it works for you.


Links for The Chosen:
Amazon.com
Amazon.co.uk
Amazon.fr
Amazon.de




Emma thinx: Length matters, keep it in your shorts.



















Beached Wail

It is that insecure first Wednesday. All in all life is good since I am alive and in France. As for the writing – well, I wish I could claim great success. These days it is very important for me to try to remember that I have been at this game since my teens. Sadly that is about 35 years. I also try to remember that the “writer” is someone other than my whole being. In here there is a woman who goes to work, talks to neighbours, shares lives with children and grandchildren etc etc. Once again I find myself  hammered by remarkably spiteful critics – all of whom arise from free book days. I do pose the question to myself that if I am that bad, would I be worth attacking with such vehemence? It  is all very much of a puzzlement to me. Why are there no readers who just kinda find a book OK, not bad, quite entertaining, undemanding but not life changing? If a free book is so bad that you can only face a few pages, why would you spend half an hour pounding it when it has not cost you anything and, by your own admission, you have not read it?


This problem of the free book critical wave appears to strike many writers. Dotting around the forums I find writers who were doing well until they went free but now have had to pull their books, change their names and titles. So far I still have more likes than not but it is something I am watching carefully. The real problem is that I do not think anyone involved in publishing knows where to go. I often feel like a complete innocent longing for those simple days when I typed out stories for magazines, sent them off and sold about one in five. At least dealing with editors meant that they made sense and knew their readers tastes. If they did not like the story they did not buy it. They did not waste time telling you how bad you were.  The internet and celebrity mags largely killed the print market for stories. The affairs of the stars trumped any invention of the old story hacks. 


And finally about reviews, recently I checked out Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” on Amazon because I was going to buy a copy for a young student of history. A guy had done a puffed up (Aren’t I clever) review stating the grammar was incorrect in the translation from German and had accorded the one star of his lofty judgement. The truth is that the the translation does a brilliant interpretation of Hitler’s atrocious grammar. The guy was a murdering dictator – not a budding author likely to be grateful for a grammar lesson from the underlings who transcribed his rantings. I must be one of the only people ever to have been cheered up by Adolph Hitler.

Figures in an unwritten book



I still want to write but the writing always gets shuffled to the bottom of the pile both by the business of life and to some extent the discouragement of it all. The same story wanders about in my head but will not form. They are like strangers on a huge beach, unknown to me, always walking away with backs turned. They have a life and a story in their faces. I took a picture of them on my local beach….


Emma thinx: Relax: all the sand will run out long before the time.

With A Cast of 50,000 – The Valley Of The Trolls

I’m a troll

We’ve been together for a year now – just you and me. Well, it’s better than drinking alone I guess. One year ago I was certain I knew nothing. Today I know everything there is to know about uncertainty. I had just launched “Knockout” – my genre Romance pulsating with animal lust, lusty animals and International Locations. To some extent I have come in a complete circle. At that distant time I realised that I was saying goodbye to 35 years of serious writing. The slush piles of the Great Gatekeepers had felt the weight of my A4 gravitas. The bin-men of south London had kept pace with my output and the scorn of editors. Employers had failed to appreciate my creative day dreaming. The dog shampoo sales stats from Manchester got lost in the post modernist white thrusting buttocks of yet another dystopian philosophical tract. My writing career had arrived at the genre milestone simply because I was too poor even to starve in the attic. Perhaps – just perhaps, one could actually make some kind of income as a writer?


At first it was all about blogging and networking. That is how we met. The book went out onto all the platforms and we struggled with different formatting and “American” grammar. A few dozen kind souls looked at the blog. Now and then someone bought a book. We were priced at 99 cents. Each sale was like a birth. Now and then a kind soul would enjoy the book and give me a decent review. At that time I was able to write and live in France. I was a humble little mouse, building my literary burrow.


Firstly then the blog. I regard this as something of a success story because the readership has grown without any corporate stunts. The help and support of indie writers has boosted the readership to a total of 2,500 per month. For the first 6 months I set myself the goal of blogging every day.  Although I’m ever popular with Russian males, most of the traffic is random hits from people clicking on photographs. The fact is that the blog has sold very few books.


I arrived in the digital budget hotel with just 2 items of luggage. One was a short story “Sub Prime” and the other a genre “supermarket” book about cops and slobbers. I had decided a few years before to ditch everything of the previous period – i.e. my life. We used to live in a Capitalist system. Now life is Capitalism. Every single thing is commercial. Everything is bottom line. This is a born poor/stay poor world unless you can pull off the deal and get your hook to hold up in the sky. Dear old “Sub Prime” is the last footprint of the way I wanted to write. 


“Knockout” bumped along the bottom all through 2011. It was so far on the sea bed that only flat fish and readers fitted with sonar could detect it.  I believe we were at about number 60,000 in the Amazonian Ocean of a million digital books. This appalling figure means that 900,000 books have no significant sales at all. 

Course of the Amazon

Then came KDP Select. We knew that other writers had gained visibility by offering free books. This was our chance to get a hook up into the blue sky. We hurled it up – and it stuck behind a fast moving cloud. We topped several categories and reached the top 300 of all books. So far we have given away 50,000 books. A success story perhaps? Well – it rather depends on what happened next. 


Our first free run in January 2012 led to a sustained sales period over weeks. People were buying and enjoying the book. Reviewers on the whole were very positive and we were beginning to see some hope of some income after months and months of day and night  promo work through every conceivable media and cyber hang-out. I had also returned to the UK, grateful to get work as a bus driver.  I must also add that my actual book and story writing had stopped. Quite simply the endless jingle jangle of click this and check that has destroyed my inner calm. I tell Gilles that I am going through the Zenopause. 


Our second free run in early March was a similar success with a sustained sales afterglow. I began to notice hits by very negative reviewers as the book went back for sale. I have a policy of not commenting on reviews but surely if you are going to criticise a book – you should have read it properly or indeed, merely have read it to some extent.


Our third free run was in mid April. Clearly things had changed. Now, I’m not much of a musician – but I do have a natural sense of algorithm. Amazon have changed the deal so that you need to do ten times the traffic of free sales to get the same advancement up the sales charts. Visibility means sales. Sales means visibility. Almost the minute we came off the free deal, the negative reviews came in. Perhaps I am paranoid but can you really slam a book on the basis that in “real life” a woman would not risk her career for forbidden love? Come on guys! The book is a light sex infused escapist Romance, not a career development manual. 


So – 50,000 potential readers have the book. On the basis of the last free run we gave away about 5,000 books in order to sell about 50. It is quite clear  that in the current format KDP Select is not for me and I will not do any more free days. I know people only grab the book because it is free, but if I had sold one tenth of those books, I would not be working all day driving a bus – at least for a few months. I also think there is a great difference between the free reader and the person who looks at your book, samples it and then actually buys it. In the long term it is probably counter-productive  to put your book into the hands of people who would never like it or choose it. 


Here is the problem though. During my last free run, I was one of 15,000 free books on that day. There are now so many free books that no one is ever gonna have to buy one again. Soon there will be a plug in external memory for e-readers and all free books will be scooped as they come out. One day our unfortunate children will receive only our digital libraries of unread free books as their inheritance. Well, they won’t have jobs to keep them busy.

Emma at the Oracle

I am not an Amazon hater. They have enabled me to publish at little cost. The lending library feature provides some income, albeit small. All the same, I feel like a supplicant at the feet of the priestess of Apollo as she interprets the gas emissions at the Oracle of Delphi. No one knows what is going on. Each time the oracle pronounces, the mob charges off to the latest Klondike. Each time a Romance novelist writes a blog, the historical imagery becomes more tangled. Soon there will be Amazon soothsayers and experts. Amazon lobbyists will offer special insights. And they will all be right – until the oracle emits gas again.


Oooh – I do go on. Thank you all my lovely readers who have sustained me during the last year. How was it for you? Please dear friends – let me know how you are getting on with KDP Select?  My own future is gonna be a lot more proactive. I want to get to the readers who want to read me and will pay a few cents to do so.


In the teeming millions of creatures being swept down the Amazon to the sea, I will no longer be  a speck in the universe washed onto the shifting sands of broken metaphors. Who said I was a purple crap writer? I really do love you guys out there.


Emma thinx: Don’t big yourself up. Big yourself within.