Friday, 28 November 2014


Usually I find out about new legislation far too late to do anything about it, but this time, thanks to Facebook, I'm up there with the news! There is a fiendish plan afoot to place VAT on digital products - yes, that will mean e-books!

New EU VAT regulations come into force in Jan 2015.

Micro-businesses selling Ebooks direct to customers will forfeit their VAT exemption threshold by doing digital business in Europe.

"From 1 Jan 2015, the new ruling means that should you make a sale to the EU (how one can prevent that with online services is not clear) from the first £1 of revenue your business earns you will need to be VAT registered in the UK and under the VAT MOSS Europe-wide scheme – meaning that you will immediately have to apply VAT to all your services, including those in the UK.

Furthermore, this this means a quarterly obligation to submit VAT returns, increasing the accounting burden significantly; as well as, the cost and complexity involved with meeting the letter of the law regarding the capture and retention of evidence of its customers’ location will bring (which needs to be retained for 10 years)."

In 3 years I have sold less than a dozen books to readers in Europe.
I don't know how I can stop them buying, and I certainly don't want VAT on my other sales in the UK.

Click on the link and sign to petition against it -

Monday, 24 November 2014

Clear Out and Statistics

 I love the sound of the word Clear Out, and I love actually doing one. But I'm always afraid it'll come back to bite me. This morning I deleted several folders from my Inbox, plus all their contents. Behold me now sitting nervously waiting to see if  I've deleted something I'll later regret! It is unlikely. Some of the folders were last used in 2012, so I should be safe.

Yesterday I was struck by the statistics bug. (Must be something in the air at the moment!) I carefully went through all the reports for Kindle sales from my very first venture with FAIR BORDER BRIDE in October 2011 and put the results into a spreadsheet. Once the figures go into graph form, it was quite a surprise to see that my best seller by far is FAR AFTER GOLD.

An even bigger surprise was that the UK sales outweighed the US sales by quite a margin.I'd always thought that the bigger market of the US would be where I had the most sales, but no, that was not the case. I had no idea what my second "best seller" would be, but good old FAIR BORDER BRIDE proved to be the one. Slow and steady sales in almost every month since publication, and - quite unexpected - selling in the US far better than the UK!

My other titles have sold a lot less, and in almost equal numbers to both the US and UK markets. Occasional sales come from Germany, Canada, France and Australia, but nothing major. I wish I could find a way to reach the Australian market; perhaps I'll make an effort to visit the blogs belonging to Australian authors and try and make some impression. I know they're out there!

Friday, 21 November 2014

Goodreads Gone?

The big move of the year for readers and writers is probably Amazon's takeover of Goodreads. I've not been following the news as as well as I should, obviously, but I have picked up one or two snippets and hints about this so decided to check it out. Alison Flood has an article, dated 13th April, on the subject in the Guardian. Link 
I have to say that I never really got to grips with Goodreads. I'm on it, but in a sketchy sort of way because I could never understand how the website worked. As of this week I confess to being puzzled as to why none of my covers for e-books are showing on the site. I'm sure they were there not so long ago, but perhaps its just paranoia on my part. Goodreads boasts 16 million subscribers, all of whom probably use the site happily enough, which in turn makes me feel an absolute dunce. 

Some say Goodreads could have become a competitor in online bookselling, either selling direct or directing users to a site other than Amazon, which was why Amazon stretched out a giant hand and grasped it. There those who think Amazon has a plan to rule the world. Most people seemed to be against  the move, but not all.

Hugh Howey (of self-published Wool fame) predicted "a lot of hand-wringing over the acquisition". but thought  there were "so many ways this can be good for all involved. I'm still trying to think of a way it could suck."

He thinks Amazon wanted the data behind the Goodreads scenes and will use the algorithms to improve  their tailored buying suggestions . The social networks that feed readers' habits are going to get stronger. The people who helped make Goodreads so good are going to get richer. And the people at Amazon are going to keep trying to get the right books in the hands of readers. Aha - there's the rub, or at least one of them. The people at Amazon are going to decide which are the right books Or am I misreading what Howey says? 

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Unseasonable weather

A few of my blog friends appear to have given up on blogging in favour of other forms of social media, so I'm clearing out the attic, so to speak. No hard feelings. I've enjoyed their words of wisdom for a year or two, and if they come back on-stream, no doubt I'll find them again.

As I find new and interesting blogs, I'll add them to the list. Talking of changes - if I could discover how to put new photos up in the Jen's Holiday pics feature (on the sidebar) I'd refresh that too, but as of this moment I have no idea how I managed to get them up in the first place.

I know the north American continent  has snow already, but we still have temperatures that are unseasonably warm. I tend to dress for the season rather than the actual weather, and that is proving a huge mistake. I seem unable to adjust to going out in November without a sweater or a fleece. Madness.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Bathroom blues

How long does it take for a book to dry out? Anyone know? I was reading in the bath the other night, fell asleep and woke up with half submerged book across my middle. It has been reclining beneath the bathroom radiator ever since and still feels twice its normal weight. I'm thinking about using a hairdryer to speed things up because I'll soon forget what the first half of the story was all about, and it wasn't an easy read.

In Life after Life characters die and then reappear alive in the next chapter which is strange enough, but there's an additional complication in that scenes leap about the decades and the reader gets views of the heroine at various ages but not in sequential order. I haven't yet figured out why the author has done this, hence the wish to get to the end of the book.

It is a typical November morning today. Damp, misty and dull. Not a lot of light, and probably one of the major reasons why people leave the UK and go and live where it is bright, clear and sunny all year round. Still, I say to myself, what is life without variety? I should hate to miss autumn and spring and leap straight from summer to winter, and vice versa.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Cover Issues

This the third cover I've put up for Viking Magic. For some reason this book is lagging behind the others and isn't attracting attention. There may be 101 reasons why from a poor cover to a whiny heroine, but since I've nothing to lose I thought I'd experiment.
The first cover was dramatic, perhaps, with the prow-beast head but maybe the pink background didn't gell very well with Vikings. First mistake. Secondly I went for a purchased photograph and thought the girl looked like the heroine of the story. It was only some time later that I saw John Locke had a cover using the self same portrait. Maybe that went against me.
So I decided on a third attempt. This one conveys the darkness and use of magic in the story of a girl fearful for her soul as well as her life. She is too desperate to be kind-hearted, but uses everything she can to avoid entrapment by the wicked magician.

Let's see if this cover makes any difference. If nothing else, it is an interesting experiment in use of covers.

Monday, 10 November 2014

Adventures and freezing at Downton

Took Tim for a walk down by the riverside this morning and amused myself taking pictures of cobwebs on the gorse bushes. Boy! Have those spiders been busy! Do they do it all in one night, or is it the work of several days? Walked on, turned back to the car and realised I no longer had my phone.

Horrors! Not only an expensive item, but a gift from dh! I got Tim out of the car again, clipped on his lead and set off at a great pace back to the point of taking pictures of cobwebs. I had a clear memory of the spot and found it easily. Fortunately no one else is stupid enough to go off in the long wet grass among gorse bushes taller than they are, and my phone was lying where I presume it had fallen out of my pocket. What a relief!

So now I am happy to sit, and Tim is happy to sleep after double the normal amount of exercise.

Watched the final Downton last night. No more until Christmas. What amazes me is that inside those huge rooms, gentlemen wear (I'm guessing here - vests?) shirts, waistcoats, and tweed jackets and trousers. Ladies on the other hand, waft about looking pale and lovely in thin silk and chiffon. Their white skin has a beauty we don't often see in these days of suntans and the delicate set of a long neck on pale shoulders has a lot to recommend it.

Then we go outside, and the gentleman heave a mackintosh or overcoat and hat on top of their tweeds. Lady Mary and the other ladies favour thin-looking coats that often don't close up to the throat. I shiver for them. Come evening, the men have jackets, stiff shirt fronts and sometimes waistcoats while the girls once more shiver in silk with bare arms,and throats. They sport long leather or silk gloves which they remove at the dining table. I can only assume they have Danmart underwear to keep them from  hypothermia.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Marketing blues

I wrote a great blog post, pressed the publish button and the darned thing disappeared. I hope this is not a sign of how my day is going to go. So I'll start again. Now my book is out in the big wide world, I'm contemplating how to get people to buy it. Marketing is the tool, say the Createspace experts.

Marketing, they tell me, is the process of communicating with the rest of the world and telling them about your book, making them want to buy it without doing any direct selling. Who is your target audience, they ask. Anyone who reads historical fiction, I say. Not good enough. Who are they? Where do they live? What age group, social class? What are their hobbies? Which newspapers do they read?

I shrug my shoulders. Haven't a clue. Anyone between the ages of 14 and 94 might read historical novels, and the only link between them is probably just that - they like historical fiction! (I had to pick numbers, but I'm sure there are people over 95 and under 14 who read historical fiction!)

There are lots of sites on the internet these days who do nothing but promote books. Some charge, and there are lots of warnings from authors who've paid hard-earned cash and been disappointed with the results. So I think I shall steer clear of such places. I'm not enamoured of the way Twitter is flooded overnight with promotional post which I assume originate in the USA. I whizz by them - as they come batches this is very easy to do. The general opinion seems to be that 1 tweet in 10 may mention your book as long as you are offering other contents on the other 9. That seems reasonable to me, and the same seems to operate on Facebook.

This time I've let everyone know (or I will have done shortly) that my book is available, and this is a first for me. I'm slowly investigating lists of promotional sites, and may yet come up with some goodies. I'll stick with my promotional yahoo groups and see what the results are like.

It's quite a game, this writing lark. I thought the writing was the hard part!

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Publication Day

Any minute now, Abduction of the Scots Queen is going to be available in paperback at Amazon. It is already available in Kindle format. That means I am off the hook, free, able to ignore the PC for a while if I wish. Freedom, in other words. Yipppeeee!

Not that I would have missed the experience. Having Matho's story out there for everyone to read is a wonderful feeling after I've worked on it for so long. Some might say it's a coming of age story - how a young man goes off to try and earn fortune in the last few years of King Henry VIII's reign. Not that he and Henry ever meet. Henry never figures in the pages except as the man who bellows that he wants the Scots Queen in England so she can marry his son Edward. He has cogent reasons for that, but the story centres on Matho's experiences as he travels north across the border and runs smack bang into Lady Margaret Douglas. Characters include her father, Archibald Douglas, Marie de Guise, the Dowager Queen of Scots and Mathew Stewart, Lord Lennox.

Others might say it's a historical suspense story - will he or won't he succeed at the task he has set? Will he survive trying?

I don't think anyone will claim it is solely a romance, though there are two romance threads running through the story. For good or evil, Abduction is finally done!

Lost dog!

Sunday 8 th May Slow start to a sunny day with a promise of high temperatures. Bill took Perla out at 7.30 as he has done all this month ...