My Favourite Book of 2016

At the time of writing this post, Goodreads informs me I’ve read 87 books (so far) this year. I’ve decided that the final post of 2016 should celebrate the book which I’ve enjoyed the most. I’ve read lots of excellent novels this year, but there has been one which really stands out, by an outstanding author… Continue reading

Self-Publishing Myths

Today, I thought I’d talk about some of the common myths I’ve come across in the self-publishing world.

typewriterYou can write a book by yourself.
Selling platforms such as Amazon and Smashwords have given a large number of people the opportunity to publish their books. This has allowed many more writers the chance to showcase their abilities, but as the old saying goes, ‘no man is an island.’ A writer needs to have a team of beta readers and an editor to point out what needs improving or changing. Extra pairs of eyes may see things you have missed, and they can give an impartial opinion on the plot, flow and character development.

Then there’s making your book look as appealing as possible. The general consensus regarding book covers is unless you are a talented graphic artist, then you should seek help with designing a ‘look’ for your book. The interior appearance of a book is also important. Formatting a book for Kindle can be a complicated and frustrating process. Unless you want your readers getting annoyed with chapters starting half way down the Kindle screen, or too many spaces between words, find some help. JJ Marsh and Jane Davis discuss this myth in their blog post ‘Self Publishing Myths – Busted.’

 

partner_logosYou can upload your book and people will find it.
The majority of indie authors upload their books to Amazon, along with other platforms such as Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, and KOBO. Just uploading your finished book doesn’t mean it will sell. Yes, the occasional reader may come across it and download it, but that won’t lead to many sales. As I found out, you have to do A LOT of research about book publicity and marketing.

Just because someone, or a company, say they are book publicists, doesn’t mean they do the job well. Unfortunately, there are many ‘publicists’ who receive payment from authors for their marketing services, and then deliver very little in return. Again, research is needed. Drill down into what a potential publicist can provide in terms of visits to your Amazon page and book sales before paying for anything. Ask for recommendations from other authors who have had successful promotions. Who did they use and why? You can find some excellent advice about finding a publicist and working with them in Jane Friedman’s blog post ‘How to Find and Work With a Book Publicist – Successfully.’ Continue reading

Interview with Tracy Fenton, Founder of THE Book Club – Part Two.

new-tbc-banner

Today I’d like to welcome Tracy Fenton back to the blog. Due to overwhelming popularity, I thought it only right to invite Tracy back for a second interview. If you haven’t already read the first interview, then you might like to read it here. Thank you, Tracy, for taking the time to answer my questions. Let’s begin.

 

Since your first interview here THE Book Club has grown to now having over 6000 members. How do you keep everyone in line?
I’d love to say with a taser gun and through threats of violence, but the truth is that the group pretty much regulates itself now, as we have such a strong group of dedicated members who are very quick to report “inappropriate” posts or even in the past calm down controversial posts just by being the kind and supportive people they are. We also have a very strong admin team who are online 24/7 watching and lurking and ready to delete when necessary. Shout out to Helen Boyce, Helen Claire, Sharon Bairden, Loo Elton, Teresa Nikolic, Carol Ellis and Sumaira Wilson and obviously Charlie Fenton.

tracy-with-tess-gertsonThere was a lot of excitement about (and photos of) the recent Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Festival in Harrogate. What was your personal highlight of the event?
I had a fantastic time in Harrogate this year and quite a few stand out moments. I was invited to a private lunch with Linwood Barclay which was pretty cool. Listening to Tess Gerritsen (with Tracy, left) speak for an hour on her panel was jaw-droppingly awesome and so inspirational and then getting a signed book and photo with her. Meeting up with several TBC members who I hadn’t actually met in real life before and being able to give them a hug. Sitting next to Linwood Barclay at a private lunch. Meeting up with 4 of the TBC admin team for the first time despite chatting with them 10 times a day for the past year. tracy-with-linwood-barclayTaking a selfie with Linwood Barclay at a private lunch (as seen on the left.) Being invited to a special panel to discuss Mark Edward’s new book The Devil’s Work and finally did I mention I met Linwood Barclay?

 

 

 

How important is knowing authors on social media to your book buying choices? Are you more likely to choose a book by an author you know, rather than one you don’t?
Honestly? Not important at all. I read what I want to read when I want to read it. At the moment I have decided to only read TBC author members during the month of September and only read authors I haven’t read before #cherrypop which I am thoroughly enjoying as I am reading genres I probably would never read before… and some I will never read again. Knowing authors on social media can sometimes be a double-edged sword because I might LOVE them on Twitter and Facebook but I know that I wouldn’t read their book because it just isn’t my type of book, but because there is a social link there is a slight element of pressure to read their book.  Continue reading

Book review of Portraits of the Dead by John Nicholl

PortraitsBook Description:
Emma didn’t know how long he hid, silent and unmoving, in the large Victorian wardrobe to the side of her single bed. She didn’t know how long he peered, salivating and drooling, between the two heavy dark oak doors, and watched, mesmerised, as she slowly drifted into fitful sleep. She didn’t know what time he pushed the doors open and crept towards her in the drab grey darkness of the night.

Detective Inspector Gravel finds himself floundering when a local nineteen-year-old university student is abducted and imprisoned by a sadistic serial killer, who has already tortured and killed at least five young women.

The greater the evil, the more deadly the game… How far would you go to save your life?

 

Extract:
When she first awoke from her enforced slumber, Emma thought for one glorious, but all too fleeting moment, that the events of the previous night were just a nightmare. But the invasive throbbing pain seemingly erupting from every inch of her face and the congealed blood around her nose and mouth bought reality into sharp unrelenting focus, as she realised that one swollen eye wouldn’t open and reluctantly recalled events prior to the assault. Oh God, it was real. It was all too real! Life had taken a dark and unexpected turn.

 

4.5* book review:
This is another excellent novel from John Nicholl. Although a stand alone, this novel continues the author’s exploration of how the criminal mind and it’s actions have an impact on their victims minds and personalities. In this case a university student is kidnapped and kept in a windowless room, and tormented by the kidnapper.

I thought that the portrayal of the working relationships between the police team investigating the missing girl came across well. I also like how there were references made back to the arrest of Dr Galbraith (from White is the Coldest Colour.) I did think however, that there were some parts of the story that didn’t feature the missing girl that perhaps would have benefited from a chapter here and there with her in – just to let readers know more about her situation.

The best parts of the book were those that featured the antagonist. John writes a really good bad guy, and this one is sick and twisted. There are a few scenes that shock, but they are not over done and fit in with what is happening in the plot.

I also liked how the story kept taking me in directions I wasn’t expecting, and I didn’t see that ending coming either! This is a dark, twisted psychological thriller written by a brilliant imagination.

I received an ARC copy of the book in exchange for a honest review.

 

Portraits of the Dead is now available on Amazon for £1.99
You can find John across social media on Facebook, Twitter and his website.

As always, thank you for reading,

All the best,

Mark.

Interview with Crime Fiction Author, Matt Hilton.

Matt HiltonToday I’m pleased to welcome crime fiction/thriller author Matt Hilton to the blog. Author of the popular Joe Hunter series and Tess Grey thriller series, Matt’s fiction is all about thrills and action. Taking a break from writing the third in the Tess Grey series Matt has kindly agreed to answering some questions from me. Thanks for taking part today Matt, lets start the interview:

What inspired you to write in the crime action genre?
Back in my youth I read whatever books came into the house via my father. He was a huge fan of the men’s adventure books of the day, so these were the books I was picking up and reading too. I loved stories full of action and pace, and it didn’t matter to me if the protagonist was a spy (Nick Carter), vigilante (Mack Bolan), gunslinger (Edge) or barbarian swordsman (Conan the Cimmerian), as long as the story was fast and furious and full of hair-raising adventure. So, when it came to start penning my own tales, it was obvious that I’d try to emulate my literary heroes, and from all those genres I found the one that suited me best was crime action – which for me can encompass all the other genres mentioned above, as long as it’s in a relatively contemporary setting. These days when I pick up a book, I still reach for crime action (AKA crime thriller) first, so I suppose I haven’t changed much over the years. The other answer is that I write the kind of books I’d love to read.

On your website you say that you listened to your Dad tell stories when you were younger. What was your favourite, and why?
It’s difficult choosing only one, or even recalling any single story. Often the same story was told on different occasions and each time it took on a different slant, or had a twist, so they were ever changing, so kept on entertaining. If the stories featured action, there’d be a lot of play-acting (or role-playing) going on, with play-fights a must to get most enjoyment from the experience. But, I must say, my dad could tell a good ghost story, and from that I have also developed a lifelong love of a good spooky story. Continue reading