Tuesday, 29 July 2014

The Great Scottish Land Grab Book Two published!

What a ride!

Book two of The Great Scottish Land Grab went live on Amazon Kindle today:

The First Minister is missing... Scotland is divided… The referendum is in crisis...

Only one man has a vision for Scotland that could unite both sides in the independence debate.

News that the First Minister of Scotland is missing, with only four months until the referendum on Scottish independence, challenges Robert Castle to decide whether he will fight for Scotland’s future.

Sensing that the theft of Scotland’s land over many centuries has robbed the people of their opportunity to be independent, Castle fights for a modern day land grab - to reverse the clearances that stole Scotland’s land from the people.

But if the First Minister is not found, it will not just be the referendum at stake but the government of Scotland.

Will Castle’s determination to win this battle drive him and his wife apart? Will it cost him more than he can bear to lose?

Praise for book one of The Great Scottish Land Grab:

“Power to the people! I would recommend this to anyone with an interest in current events in Scotland, though I know a fair few who would be shouting at the screen. Look forward to the next instalment if only to find out what he has done to Eck”

“Great debut story! Really enjoyed this story and can’t wait for the second part. Left readers with a real cliff hanger of an ending. Whether you intend to vote yes, no or couldn't care less this book will be of interest.”

“Can't wait until the next book is issued in July!”

The final book will be released in August 2014

Now available worldwide in the following Kindle stores:

Also, I've finally released book one in an ePub format. You can buy book one from Lulu.com. Hopefully over the next fortnight Lulu will distribute book one to Apple, Kobo and Nook.

Book two will be released in ePub in August. I need to check with Neilsen about using the ISBN before I release it

I've already had one review of book two on a friend's Facebook page: "Thoroughly enjoyed it. I'm fascinated by the history and politics behind the Scottish referendum, and interested to see what happens, both in the real referendum and in Book 3. I did suggest to the author that he sends the hero to Southern Africa to research how not to do land redistribution I wonder if he'll take my advice?"

I'm now starting to wonder if that would be a twist in the tale worth following...

Book three is starting to take shape but I've still a lot of writing to do. I'm not likely to be blogging much over August but I will still be using TwitFace - as my wife lovingly refers to it. You can follow me @my100goals

I'd love to hear your feedback on book two. Comment below, on Amazon, Lulu, my Facebook page... Or just stop me on the street!

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

My #indy journey - 57 days to go

As I travel round Scotland (and the UK) promoting my Scottish Independence novel, I'm meeting hundreds of people with their own stories.

This morning I fly South (I'm writing this from the airport ) and needed a taxi to get to Glasgow Airport.

Before we reached the airport I "casually" mentioned I'd published a novel. This led onto the inevitable question: which way am I planning to vote?

I shared that I'm a marginal Yes which allowed me to follow up with: How about you?

Taxi drivers are sometimes wary of professing strong opinions but with only two options on the table and with the subject breached, he shared he was - as he put it - coming round to Alex Salmond's view.

I wish I'd mentioned my novel earlier. He was as keen to quiz me on my views about independence as I was to find out his.

There is a desire in many Scots to discuss our future. Long may that desire continue!

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Lessons in marketing

The first book of my novel - The Great Scottish Land Grab - has been on sale for over a month now and I've been spending a lot of time trying to market it. (in between completing book two!)

As I've blown my budget for this book on solicitor's fees (more about that in another post), I'm limiting my marketing to £100 in total and am finding what a lot of self-published authors seem to find - marketing is a tough world.

I've emailed every member of the Scottish parliament asking if they would give a review or feedback. Six have requested a free proof copy. Less than five percent.

I've lost count of the number of emails I've sent out to newspapers, TV and radio stations offering free copies. The Shetland Times did interview me using the former local boy angle. Apart from that, not a peep. However, one media encounter I had - naming no names - did reveal the pressure the media are under due to the referendum. They can and will be fined if they fail to give unbiased coverage - something certain Yes and No supporters will deny and claim there is clear evidence of bias. As a result many media outlets are nervous about what they produce.

I had a T-Shirt made up. The book cover with text above it asking: Yes? No? Vote for...

I've worn that while handing out those business cards.

I had 750 business cards printed up. I asked for feedback through my author Facebook page and you can view the design there. Front had the book cover and the back gives details of how to buy the book.I've given out over 400 of these cards since they arrived. 300 individually. Through Amazon KDP's wonderful reports I can see exactly how much impact giving out 300 business cards individually has had... I've sold ten books!  Three percent return on investment.

Here's where I'm really struggling. I can't afford to buy advertising space on bill boards and in newspapers or on TV or radio. There are over four million potential readers in Scotland, forty million in the UK. The novels premise is of decreasing interest the further away from Scotland one goes. But there will be people throughout Scotland and the world that will enjoy this book so how do I reach them?

There have been a couple of interesting articles on the subject of marketing and investment over the last week.

Ian Hallett wrote an amazingly inciteful post on how many people your marketing efforts reach: 0.005% is the magic number. It begs the question whether the time I spend on Facebook or Twitter engaging with people is worth the effort. I do enjoy it though. Discussing, asking, answering, commenting, sharing... These are all things I want to do as a writer anyway and I absolutely want to be involved and engaged in the lead up to the referendum on Scottish independence.

The BBC also had an interesting article: The dos and don'ts of pitching for business investment. There are probably three things writers can take from this article:
  • Being recommended is the best possible way to sell a book.
  • Having written a previously good book will make it more likely someone will buy your new book.
  • Continuing to write and publish good books over time will convince people you are worth investing their time and money in by buying your latest book.
It will help when I've published book two. The story is far closer to being complete and questions I couldn't answer when I was marketing book one will be a lot easier to answer.

But going back to those 300 business cards I've given out. I've done this three times at events round Scotland, from Cumbernauld to Tarbert in Argyll and as far North as Unst in Shetland. I've also handed out cards to people on trains going from Glasgow to Edinburgh. Interrupted conversations and readers deeply engrossed in stories on their Kindles. I've been seen in supermarkets handing cards to check out staff and embarrased my kids on several occasions with my willingness to speak to complete strangers.

But... I'm not naturally confident at talking to strangers. I've left many encounters thinking, I really didn't handle that well.

I came across the book Body Language by James Borg. It's made for painful reading!

I don't want to manipulate people or deceive them but the books premise is that body language is a skill like any other. I can learn to interact better with strangers, to become a better salesperson.

Going back to Ian Hallett's post. He refers to Kevin Kelly's article on having 1,000 True Fans - a fascinating read for anyone wanting to make a living from creative work.

I'm on a marketing journey. These have been some of my experience so far. Are you marketing something? Would you like to share some advice? I'd love to hear from you ;)

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Rewriting the blurb

One of the great things about self-publishing is that if something isn't working, you can change it relatively quickly.

Another great thing is that we don't have to do it all ourselves. Our friends, family and sometimes complete strangers will offer valuable advice and help.

I tried this out last month through my author FaceBook page: http://www.facebook.com/my100goals, asking people for their views on my proposed book cover. I received some great advice and actually, the act of asking for help forced me to come up with an alternative image to use that ended up being perfect to convey a sense of Scotland's land.

I'm hoping some of you out there will be willing to help me rewrite the book blurb: the description that you either read on a book's back jacket or online.

The original blurb/description (at time of writing) can be seen on Amazon: The Great Scottish Land Grab: Book One -

Product Description - current

Can one man turn the Scottish Referendum into a revolution?

Threatened while walking across a Scottish estate, Robert Castle tries to find justice but neither the police nor courts will help him. His quest to find justice will bring him into conflict with the highest powers in the land. Facing off against politicians and judges, Castle fights to reverse centuries of corruption that has seen Scotland's land stolen from the people. With the Scottish independence referendum fast approaching, he calls on Scotland to reject the politicians lie there can only be a Yes or No vote; and to reclaim the right to decide their own future.

The Great Scottish Land Grab will be split over three books to be published in the months leading up to the Scottish referendum on independence. Book one to be published in June, book two in July and the final book released in August.

I'm wondering about changing it.

The book description is maybe the second or third (or fourth...) thing people look at online. Book title and cover maybe being joint first, or split; reviews and description vying for next place.

Product Description - proposed

The fight for freedom starts here…

Threatened while walking across a Scottish estate, Robert Castle tries to find justice but neither the police nor courts will help him.

With the Scottish independence referendum fast approaching, Castle has to decide which side of the fence he will support. Initially a passionate supporter of the UK union he has become disillusioned with a political system that ignores the very people it is supposed to serve.

A tragic accident derails the Yes campaign but could this be the opportunity Scotland needs to recognise true independence and achieve freedom?

Robert Castle’s quest for justice will bring him into conflict with the highest powers in the land. Facing off against politicians and judges, Castle fights to reverse centuries of corruption that has seen Scotland's land stolen from the people. Castle calls on Scotland to see beyond a Yes or No vote; and to reclaim the right to decide their own future.

The Great Scottish Land Grab: Book One – Undecided? Vote to stop sitting on the fence.

The Great Scottish Land Grab: Book Two (July 2014) – Decided? Vote to tear down the fence and build a bonfire.

The Great Scottish Land Grab: Book Three (August 2014) – Committed? Vote to pour fuel on the fire of freedom.

I have to admit, I'm struggling to know how much detail to put in. I don't want to spoil the cliff hanger ending of book one, or give too much away about book two or three. Yet if I don't give enough detail, will people be willing to give the book a chance?

I don't mention Robert's wife Helen who is a main character, don't mention any of the sub plots I'm working in. But is that important?

I'd love to hear your thoughts on whether either of the above blurbs would (or have ;) encouraged you to buy book one, either in the comments below, or on my FaceBook page.