Tag Archives: bookshops

I don’t know about you – and most people don’t agree with me, get upset and throw me in the bin (I’m sure they’d like to literally) – but, I’m really disillusioned over this whole social media business. Using it as a promotional tool, I mean. Does it work? I’m not convinced. Let’s be honest, often when I go on Facebook I see quite a lot of promotional stuff, covers of books, people telling me how great they are, and I simply delete them. I do think a lot of authors get carried away, that they believe social media is working, so they are afraid to stop. Unfortunately, by dominating the pages the way they do, it feels almost as if they are spamming. I like to go on FB to interact with people, usually people I know personally or have a strong connection through the site. I myself do use it to occasionally promote my work, but this is purely because I feel pressurised to do so. But it doesn’t work.

And then there is Twitter. Twitter is now simply a promotional site, with so many screaming headlines about ‘my wonderful book’ or ‘the latest from best-selling author bla de blar’…I’ve often wondered, if they are best-sellers, why are they still promoting their book in this way? I still feel word of mouth is the best recommendation, with browsing in a bookshop coming a close second. I love that about Waterstones, where the members of staff write down their own recommendations. I’ve bought quite a few books this way. I remember many years ago going into my local W’s and finding a recommendation card, written in a spidery hand, spouting off about a little known Swedish author called Henning Mankell. I was so won over by the recommendation that I bought the book and, from that moment, bought every other thing Mankell has written!

Wow…to get a book on the shelves of Waterstones…

That’s my ambition, my dream…

I know most of you will scream in derision, but I do not believe I will not have ‘made it’ as a writer until I see one of my books in there.

Anyway, the thing is, what to do. I don’t know, is my answer. Just keep plugging away, I suppose. But I am sick and tired of reading about other people’s books on social media, so I am sure people must be sick of reading mine. I try to keep all my author stuff on my FB author page, with links to my website where I usually try to put some excerpts from my books. I’m going to try not to put much on my personal FB page. And I’m culling my list of ‘friends’ as a lot of them have ideas that are totally contrary to mine. I actually feel a lot better for this.

I remember when I first started buying books, for pleasure. Agatha Christie, Sven Hassel, Ian Fleming, they were the big three. I read every book Sven and Fleming wrote, but I’ve still got some way to go with Christie. But here’s a thought – I never once thought I’d like to meet the author, interact. For me, an author was like a god-like figure, distant, all-powerful. Their words, their creations were enough for me. Now, we are bombarded with interviews, webinars and all sorts of stuff. I never read them. I’m not convinced they serve any purpose, I’m really not.

Well, I have good news. My dystopian thriller ‘Tears in the Fabric of Time’ is about to be published and I can’t wait. This has been a labour of love for me for many years. I loved writing it and now it is going to be published! The cover looks cool and the first chapter is available on my website, so go and have a look.fabric-of-time-cover

Also, Varangian Volume 3 – HARDRADA – is out soon too. This has been a long haul but we’re almost there. Some people have asked me about Hardrada (YES, on social media…wow!), so here is a little taster about Volume 1:

2 books

His name was Harald Sigurdsson, but the world knows him as Hardrada. Having fought his first battle at fifteen, where he watched his brother, King Olaf, die, he fled south to the fabled city of Constantinople. Here he enrolled in the legendary fighting unit known as the Varangian Guard. His love for the Empress Zoe is legendary, but Harald seeks more than mere love. To regain his birthright drives him forever onward. To be the King of Norway. The year is 1042 and Harald is imprisoned, betrayed. The first volume of this great Viking king tells of his attempt to flee the great city and return north. It is a violent, uncompromising tale of murder, deception and depravity, for the Emperor is the lust-filled Michael V, and he wants Hardrada’s head. Hardrada, the very name means ‘Hard Ruler’, but how can he ever rule unless he can escape. And to escape he must forge allegiances with some of the most despicable men in the entire empire.

HERE is a link to the Amazon page for Varangian.

My website: www.stuartgyates.com for further information.

Thanks for dropping by and thanks to those of you who have bought my books. I hope you like them.

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Adventures in Writing – tweet, tweet ter-woo!

You know, I’ve just posted something on Twitter. I go to look, and it’s not there. Well, it is, but it is already superseded by about forty or more tweets from others. This got me thinking. In order to READ all of these Tweets, you’d have to be on the internet 24/7. For most of us, this simply isn’t feasible.

So…I tried to work it out. All my efforts to post earth-shattering, informative, philosophical, newsworthy Tweets…

Is it really worth it?

I began to think about myself. I’m not unique, different, in any way out of the ordinary. How much of my day do I spend on Twitter? It didn’t take me long to find the answer.

About ten minutes.

In that time, am I likely to take notice, spot, discern, know about the world’s next great book?

Answer…

No.

We are all programmed to believe that having a ‘presence’ is absolutely essential in this hyper-spaced-out-world in which we live.

Is it?

What does it mean if we have 108k followers? I’ve talked about this before, but sometimes I think it is worth revisiting. I use the above figure as an example. Here’s why.

Today I received an email telling me I have another new follower on Twitter. Not a company giving me access to thousands of e-books, or a travel firm, or fashion house, but a real person. Youpie. I investigated. This person follows some 23k people. That, in itself, is something of an achievement. Where does he find the time? Then, his followers…108k. I had to look again, One hundred and eight thousand followers! My God, who is this guy? Some sort of Mahatma Ghandi, a man of world-renown, the next President?

No. He’s just a guy. From Merseyside. And he’s written a book. And he has 108,000 followers.

What the hell is happening? Am I the only one who thinks all of this as simply some massive con? I think I am. People bombard me with all sorts of put-me-downs after I post such ideas. They lambast me, insult me, tell me I need to wake up, get real, join the real world. Really?

Sometimes, being a lone voice, is kind of deflating, but it can also do wonders for the spirit. Think of how many great men and women have been ridiculed for their views, only to be revered later when people realise the truth of what they said. Crying in the wilderness is actually a good thing. Just because a thousand people tell me I’m wrong doesn’t actually mean I’m wrong.

And then…joy of joys … as if to confirm thing, I receive an email from someone inviting me to be their follower on Twitter. Someone … or something. They ‘sell’ reviews. For a small payment I can purchase ‘good’ reviews.

Now this really got my blood boiling.

I do not want to buy ‘good’ reviews. If I’m going to buy reviews, I want them to be ‘honest’. And I receive an email from Amazon telling me that only when you have received 50 reviews are you going to be taken seriously. Fifty? So, the pressure is on. We have to have that magical number, we have to break through the barrier, get ourselves noticed, win the accolades, the sales, the acceptance. Fifty. And, guess what, Amazon can help. Yes, they really can. You can get onboard and ‘buy’ the required number of sales to be regarded as a best-seller! Just imagine, having that accolade on your book cover. ‘Best-selling author bla-de-bla’ comes to a village hall near you to talk about how wonderful it is to be a star. Famous. Rich. Mm.

I’m being cynical? You think? I know James Joyce did it. He bought 200 copies of Ulysses I think it was, to give away to his friends. That gave him something of a kick-start, but what is being proposed today is very different. As long as you keep spending your money, you can buy your way to success. Well, I’m of the school which believes talent, creativity and the ability to craft a damn good story is of far greater importance. We all need to promote ourselves in the best ways we can, but this buying your way above the masses … Well …

I’m simply and honestly disgusted. This is all a sham. We are living in the era of the biggest publishing con there has ever been, and we all contribute, we all buy into it, even me. Because the pressure is on to sell, sell, sell. Honesty and talent no longer have a place. We must sell, by hook or by crook, and to hell with everything else. Listen to Amazon, if you don’t believe me. Or Bookbaby. It’s easy. Anyone can do it … just keep reaching inside your pockets.

Beam me up. I’ve had enough.

I’m going back to my keyboard, find happiness in the worlds I create, and keep submitting. I believe, in my simple innocence, that good writing will forces its way to the top. People like good stories. They simply need to know I write them, that I exist. But I’m not going to buy my way into the consciousness of prospective readers. Besides, I can’t afford it. So, there has to be another way. Surely.

Thanks for dropping by. You can find out about my books on my website: www.stuartgyates.com. Come along and visit me, pick up a book, enjoy. But whatever you do, keep reading.

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Adventures in writing – a personal view by Stuart G Yates: how do I get known?

There are so many authors out there now, it’s like a world gone mad. I feel sorry for the poor reader, avid or not. How are they supposed to choose who and what to read? It’s something I’ve been trying to think about a lot.

How do I make my choices?

It’s difficult for me right now. Living in Spain, I have little opportunity to visit a bookshop. An English one, I mean. We used to have one where I live, but it has closed. They even stocked my books for a while, but now the whole venture has disappeared – along with my books! I’ll never get them back, nor will I get anything from the company. I’m not even sure if they exist. But I wander from the point (which isn’t uncommon for me!).

So…how do I choose a book?

Sometimes, it’s by the only really credible way – recommendation. A friend reads something, they pass on a copy to you. You like it, you then go out and buy another by the author. We all do this, and it’s a great way of discovering new books. Then there are recommendations in magazines, newspapers and, of course, Amazon. I like the way they link similar themes together, so if you put in a search for a well-known author you could end up buying a book by someone totally different. I read the reviews and take the plunge. This is how I came to Simon Scarrow, and his wonderful Roman Empire novels.

We might come to them via films – this was how I ‘discovered’ James Bond, or TV, which is how I came to Ian Rankin and ‘Rebus’. There are so many different ways, more than I’ve listed, but isn’t the best one simply going into a bookshop and sifting through all those lovely, freshly printed volumes? At a visit to ‘Waterstones’ I saw a staff-recommendation for a book, priced at only £1 as an introduction to an author. This was about ten years ago, and the author was Henning Mankell, and what a find he turned out to be.

Of course, as an author, I have another problem. How do I get people to pick up my books? Being with indie publishers, I have to do the marketing myself, which is a total pain I can tell you. I’d much rather be writing. Somehow, you do feel the pressure, even sitting alone with just your word-processor for a companion, to try and promote. Panic, frustration, they all gnaw away at you. How many times have I taken a break, popped over to Facebook and become dragged into to replying and commenting on posts? And as I do this, I become increasingly agitated by the armies of authors I see on there, shouting out about how brilliant their latest book is. So many now are wound up by the need to be published and to find success. Success, which means, sales. I look at their posts and I’ve now got to the stage where I simply scroll by, not even giving them so much as a glance. Unless it is by an established author. Then I might stop, and read. I did this actually. I tried to find some top authors on Facebook. John Harvey, for example. If you like thrillers, you’ll know who he is. He hasn’t got a Facebook page. The aforesaid Ian Rankin, he has, but I’m not at all sure if he writes it. The same goes for Lee Childs…is it him?

Some authors, like Simon Kernick, Harlan Coben and Michael Jecks often post something. Michael even tells us about his walks over the moors, which is fantastic. I love this approach, which is so unassuming, so personal and nothing to do with his books (which are great by the way). Natural. There are others, however, who simply use Facebook to declare their brilliance, or their particular bigotries. These latter ones happen to be also so-called sock-puppeteers and I no longer have them as ‘friends’ or, more importantly, buy their books.

As for me, I’ve had enough. I’m so disillusioned by all this social-networking rubbish that I’ve decided I’m pretty much going to turn my back on it. I’ve just read a blog by Bernard Cornwell. It’s like a breath of fresh air and reaffirms what I’ve always known – write a good story. The rest of it is nonsense. All these marketing tips may well be very good, but if your story sucks, what is the point?

There is a whole world out there full of hard-nosed profiteers who will take your money and promise you the earth, with interviews, author pages, guest blogs. There’s one right now, on Facebook, advertising ‘How to become a best-selling author’, or words to that effect. Another ‘Make your book sell…find out how to become the next Stephen King’. These books cost 4.99. Great, pay the money, and discover what? The magic formula? I think not.

There are thousands of ‘friends’ who LIKE your book but never ever buy it. They take your free-promos, but they never have the time to write a review. I’m sick of it, there has to be another way to get yourself known, and I wish I knew what it was.

So, what do you do as somebody who wants to write? I’ll tell you my own experience, after doing this since the mid-70s, with 14 books published and 2 more due out this year. You get a job. You earn money. And you write in the evenings, or the weekends, or during your holidays. You write because you love it, because you have the urge to create. And when you’ve written a good story, you write another one. And you don’t stop, because it is what you do. You may never make any money, you may be rejected a thousand times by every agent on the planet, but you don’t care, because for you the writing is all.

That’s it. No big secret. I write, I re-draft (about 3 times), I get it proof-read, I then submit. I’ll no longer go to small independents, and I’ll not self-publish. If an agent one day likes something of mine, I will crack open the champagne and rejoice. But until that day, I no longer have any desire to shout my wares from the rooftop on Facebook. If people buy my books, that is because they like the sound of the story. And that’s good enough for me.

Here’s some timely advice about finding an agent: http://writingteennovels.com/2013/03/21/finding-a-good-literary-agent-for-your-novels-by-paul-volponi/

Visit my websites to find out a little more about me, with links to my books: www.stuartgyates.com  and

www.glennstuart.co.uk

Thanks for dropping buy, and keep on reading. Here’s a selection of some of my books, with links.

 The cover of my first 'legitimate' novel, Cold Hell in Darley Dene

big coverFront cover

 

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Adventures in writing…a personal journey by Stuart G Yates

I came off my motorbike about 2 weeks ago, mangled my knees and smashed my shoulder. The shoulder is getting there, but my knee…I can hardly walk!

Still, as I am off work, it has given me the chance to catch up on all sorts of business that required my attention.

Like web sites.

We are always told, as authors, that we need to establish a presence on the Web, build a web site, have a blog, develop social networking. I am now of the mind that I don’t believe much of that works. The only thing that generates much interest is this blog. Very few people so much as look at my posts on FaceBook. And as for book promotions, the best place to buy a book, for me, is still in a bookshop. It would be interesting to see how many of you agree.

I love book shops. I remember when I was a boy, every Saturday morning I would wander up to my local town-centre and go to the bookshop. It was called, conveniently, ‘BOOKLAND’ and I would spend hours just browsing through the titles. More often than not I would buy something. I always longed for a library of my own and my dad, who was amazing at making anything out of virtually nothing, built me a splendid bookcase. Empty shelves stared back out at me, and I knew it would be a long process to fill it up. But fill it I did.

Do you remember those adverts that graced the back covers of Sunday supplements, for ‘World Books’, or ‘The Literary Guild’? You could buy six hard-back books for about two pounds, and then you had to become a member and choose a book a month. I bought some amazing books from them. I still have most of them. ‘The Washing of the Spears’, ‘Trafalgar, the Nelson Touch’, and, of course ‘The Complete Works of William Shakespeare’. Most of us must have that, I shouldn’t wonder, despite most of us never reading any of it!

Well, my library grew. I bought a wide range of books, mainly fiction but with plenty of history thrown in for good measure. I seem to recall I had a lot of John Creasy. No idea why. I doubt I ever read a single one, but I wanted to, so there they would stand and I would stand, and look, and feel my heart swell. My library. Wow.

Now, sadly, it is increasingly difficult to do all of that. Perhaps, in a generation, nobody will possess their own, private library. The age of the download is upon us, as well we all know. So where do we go to find our next book? Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads? There are a plethora of sites nowadays devoted to recommended reads. But none of them, sorry to say it, can replace the smell, the ambiance of a lovely bookshop. I still believe this is the best type of marketing. To see your title on a shelf in a bookshop…WOW! The joy of picking up books, flicking through the pages, reading the blurbs, being enticed by the covers…how can you beat that? And yet, when I asked my daughter, who lives on Merseyside, to find an independent bookshop that might be willing to stock my books, she couldn’t find ONE! NOT ONE! I couldn’t believe it.

So, imagine my joy when, last year when I went to Burgundy for a holiday, I visited a tiny little place and it had not one, but THREE bookshops! And what wonderful places they were. Small, cluttered, thousands of books piled up to the rafters together with greetings cards, wrapping paper, pens and pencils, etc. They even had a ‘foreign titles’ section. I was blown away. The French love their books, and they have a wonderful approach to their reading – they still buy REAL books! Those bookshops are flourishing whilst we, in the UK, allow our shops to die. It’s the same with everything, as we see from the news. Shops we have grown up with, disappearing one by one, unable to compete in the instant, sanitised world of internet shopping. Soon there will be none left. It’s all somewhat depressing.

I don’t know what will happen, and I am in no way decrying the rise of the digital book, but I rarely, if ever, go on sites to find a new read. I go to a bookshop. Here, where I live, in Spain, I would often go to the English Bookshop, and have a really good browse, more often than not picking up one of their ‘on offer’ titles (as new books are simply far too expensive now). Imagine my horror when, only last month, I went to choose a book and…The shop had gone. Disappeared. POOF! Yet another victim of the crisis…or, perhaps, the rise of the digital market?

Who knows?

Well, I mustn’t complain, because my own books are offered for sale on all the mobile devices. And for the moment THE STORY OF DON LUIS is FREE on Kindle. So, I mustn’t be too negative must I? No, I’ll leave that for something else.

In the final analyse, I don’t suppose any of it matters as long as people reads. That is the important thing. My school has recently purchased a stack of Kindles. Perhaps that is the way forward? If the by-product is that young people become excited about reading, then perhaps it really is a good thing. And they do seem excited when they pick up that slim machine. You can see them, their eyes glowing with expectation. It could even cause them to be more adventurous in their reading choices, to hunt out classics that they may otherwise have overlooked, for any number of reasons. Buying ‘War and Peace’ and feeling the weight of it in your hands is extremely daunting, but you don’t notice that on an E-reader. Big books, little books, it makes no difference to the machine itself. But if more people read because of that…then…Hallelujah!

You can visit my website which has details of my published books, where to get them (sadly, not in Bookshops) and of the FREE OFFER for Don Luis: www.stuartgyates.com.

And a friend of mine has dipped her toe into the publishing world, and written a very saucy book, loosely termed erotica! And that too is FREE. Seems to be a trend, and not a bad one at that. Give her book a try by visiting her website: www.gsstewart.moonfruit.com where you will find all the details. It is raunchy however, so be warned.

Thanks for reading!

 

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