Wednesday, March 23, 2011


I normally use this blog to promote other indie and lesser known authors, but occasionally it makes sense to showcase my own work.  A few posts back I offered an opening line contest and threw in one of my opening lines just for fun.  As it turned out the readers chose my opening line as their favorite.  It came from a short story I'd written a couple of years ago.  The line was, "You're here to kill me aren't you?"  Pretty good opening I must admit.  

Anyway, the story is now published at Spinetingler Magazine.  Below is the link to the story.  Let me know what you think.   

Saturday, March 12, 2011


While the ebook versus traditional publishing debate rages on, Geraldine Evans is caught right in the middle of it.  She's an accomplished British mystery author with 18 novels under her belt and on the verge of the biggest decision of her life. Rarely will you find someone as open and honest about their dilemma.  I'll let her explain the details:


by Geraldine Evans

With all the seismic events in the world of publishing, I don’t think there’s any author more affected than the midlister. To ebook or not to ebook? Think about it. Midlisters like myself have always been the flotsam and jetsam of the publishing world, in danger from every passing wave. It could truly be said that, in many cases, we’re more printed than published, in that all those littler extras that make you feel your publisher loves you, are conspicuous by their absence.

Certainly, we get none of the supposed benefits of traditional publishing. Not for us the publisher-arranged book tours with all expenses paid. Not for us the talk shows and radio interviews, not unless we’re able to organize them ourselves. And whoever heard of a midlister guesting on Oprah, for instance? Not me, that’s for sure.

I have to make my own postcards, bookmarks and flyers. I make my own trailers and pay for the pictures I need. I write a blog and a monthly newsletter. I belong to various lists where I try to post as often as I can. I’m on facebook and twitter, linked in and goodreads. crimespace and– well, you get the picture. By the time I’ve finished doing all of that, I hardly have time to write the damn books. It’s a common problem, compounded by a chronic lack of cash. You can’t imagine – or perhaps you can – how eagerly I await my Public Lending Right income (UK) from the public libraries. After Christmas has cleaned me out, January is always a pretty grim month, with teeth gritted till we get to February and a reasonable pay day. It could all be so much better. Couldn’t it?

Midlisters stand balanced on a tightrope at the moment: should we take the plunge totally into ebooks and abandon an often unsatisfactory traditional publishing experience? When you read blogs like J A Konrath’s you think you’d be a fool not to. And yet. And yet. My esales aren’t anything like as impressive as Konrath’s. Admittedly, so far, I’ve only got two ebooks up on kindle, nook and the rest and he’s got loads, so it’s unsurprising that my numbers compare unfavourably. Though perhaps the 216 I sold in February would be regarded by a lot of people as pretty good. I expect to have a third out of print novel, Death Line, up as an ebook by the end of March, but that’s still only three. It takes time and money to make the formatting professional and the cover design perfect. And money is in short supply when you’re a midlister with no other visible means of support.

I’ve had eighteen novels published: fourteen in one mystery series, two in another mystery series, one historical and one romance. I’ve been published by Macmillan and Worldwide, by Isis Soundings and St Martin’s Press. My current publisher is… Well never mind their name. It’s irrelevant anyway.

At the moment, I’m in a bit of a cleft stick. My publisher has said he wants the rights to epublish all my books that were published on his list, including my soon-to-be out of prints. Indeed, he seems of the opinion that the rights are his for the taking. Admittedly, he’s ‘thinking’ (sic) of offering 50% royalties for the older books, but he only wants to pay 25% for the newer books, which, as JAK so rightly says, means something pretty paltry by the time my agent has taken her 15%. And the rights could be tied up forever when you consider that ebooks need never go out of print. Trouble is, because I’m otherwise unemployed, I rely on my publisher’s advances to pay the bills. What if I decide to plump all out for epublishing and the sales don’t come? I’ll have burned my bridges. I have to wonder, even if I agree to the 25% for the newer and next in my series, but retain my epub rights in the rest, whether my publisher won’t flex his stronger financial muscles and demand all or nothing.

This, at present, is my situation. Perhaps it’s yours, too? I don’t know what to do. And I’ve nearly finished the next in the series. Should I keep it or send it to my publisher? Any advice?

Monday, March 7, 2011


About a year ago I was offered a publishing deal with a print publisher.  The deal didn't offer any advance or any marketing money, but it was an offer to have my book published and I should've been thrilled.  I was, until I heard the details.  First of all this was a hardcover publisher only and they sold their books for $27.95, no exceptions.  I felt uncomfortable asking my mother to spend 30 bucks on my book, nevermind complete strangers.  Then when I asked people in the industry how many copies I'd expect to sell at that price the answer was a resounding, not many.  Maybe 500-800 for a first-timer.  

Around that same time I had a literary agent, Robert Brown, who's a prince of a man, suggest I try publishing the book as an ebook on Amazon.  He told me to charge 1 or 2 bucks and get a lot of readers to try it out.  He thought the book was strong enough to attract many fans.  After all it had won the Southwest Writers Contest, Thriller category.  So I went into this indie publishing thing very reluctantly.  The question was, "Did I want readers, or did I want to tell my writing friends I had a traditional publishing deal?"  The fact was, I wanted readers.

Now's where I come out of the closet, so to speak.  I'm not J.A. Konrath, so I'm not comfortable talking numbers like he is, but it's time to reveal whether this indie thing had been worth it.  Last June when I placed my novel, "A Touch of Deceit," on Amazon as a Kindle book for $1.99 I sold 35 the first month, mostly to friends and family.  Then 48 the following month.  I felt my decision might have been a faulty one.  Then something happened around September, I began receiving solid reviews from big name blogs and they were posting their comments on Facebook and Twitter.  Then word of mouth spread and in December I'd sold over 800 copies.  It was thrilling to see the support I'd received from so many readers and reviewers.  Finally last month alone I sold over 1400 copies of the book and surpassed the 5000 mark overall.  

It's been a long road, but the future appears bright.  With the sequel, "A Touch of Revenge," coming out next month, I've decided to lower my price even further to .99 cents.  This upsets my mother to no end, since she knows how many years it took me to write and publish etc. . . But this project has always been a long term one and right now it's all about readers and exposure.  Is this the choice all writers should make if they're trying to break into the business?  Absolutely not.  The traditional method is certainly valid and should be given serious consideration.  Am I happy with my decision?  Yes.  I've gotten so much enjoyment hearing from readers who really appreciate my skills and it's humbling to be able to communicate with them in this socially active society we're now in.  Besides, think of how many trees I've saved doing it this way.   

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


David P. Elliot's debut novel ‘CLAN’, a historical, supernatural thriller, was published in December 2008 and so far has sold in 14 countries.   The supernatural is a recurring theme in much of his writing.  He now lives in Abingdon, UK, with his partner, a native of Munich.  He has 3 grown up children and 2 grandchildren one of which inspired the novel.  Thanks to David for playing 5 questions with me.

1- The theme of “The Clan” draws heavily from the Clan system in Scotland, what sparked your interest in this particular period of history?

My father bought me a book, ‘The Steel Bonnets’ by George MacDonald Fraser (author of the best-selling ‘Flashman’ series.) But Fraser’s real passion was the history of the Borders of Scotland during the era of the ‘Border Reiver’ – a 300 year period from the late 13th to early 17th centuries. These so-called ‘riding families’ invented Blackmail, the protection racket and cattle rustling 300 years before Chicago was founded! They raided with impunity often putting hundreds of men in the saddle to raid or ‘Reive’ on both sides of the Border. I soon discovered the ‘Elliot Clan’ was one of the most outrageous and active of these families and I began to trace my family history, which led me back to ancestors who were associated with Robert the Bruce and William ‘Braveheart’ Wallace. When I discovered a man just as real as these giants of Scottish legend, William de Soulis, who was powerful enough to challenge The Bruce and Wallace, had a reputation for being truly evil and was apparently boiled in lead on a bronze age stone circle - well – a novel had to be written! ‘Clan’ was the end result.

2- “The Clan” is successful throughout the globe. How do most of your readers find you?

‘Clan’ has sold in 14 countries so far and continues to sell well since it was first published at the end of 2008. It appealed initially to what you might loosely refer to as the ‘Scottish Diaspora’ Not only was it popular in Scotland but everywhere where people of Scottish descent lived. Given the nature of the Scots, this is almost everywhere in the World, particularly in English speaking countries, the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa etc As the book became known, it then became popular also with those who just enjoy historical fiction, with a great deal of accurate history included. Add a supernatural element, and a modern day thriller thread as well and readers of many genres have found it entertaining.

3- There’s a supernatural element to the novel, so it’s hard to define the genre—that’s good for readers, but does it make it difficult to market?

Genre is a double edged sword. Many booksellers and some readers are very prescriptive about genre and as a result if you get it wrong you can miss out on readers who have preconceived ideas about what they will like. I personally call ‘Clan’ a historical supernatural thriller, others have called it fantasy or even horror. I think the story is pretty much beyond genre frankly, having elements that would appeal to many types of reader. A common comment is, ‘I would not normally read this kind of novel but...’ and similar. The only description I don’t like really is fantasy, because that genre suggests whole fantastical worlds. Supernatural for me involves strange things happening in the real World, which is far more accessible to me and requires a lower level of suspension of belief. Personally I think it is great if readers are open to giving a book the benefit of the doubt for a chapter or two. If the writer cannot grab the reader by then, then that is probably the fault of the writing.

4- Tell us about your online magazine.

‘Clan Magazine’ had an interesting genesis. The editor of a local print magazine asked to do a ‘meet the locals’ type article on me as a locally based author. During the course of that interview she also asked if I would be prepared to write a short article for the magazine, which I did. Based on the format of a popular TV series in the UK called ‘Grumpy Old Men’, I wrote an article about some things in modern life that often people find irritating. The article was apparently very popular and as a consequence she asked if I would be prepared to contribute every month. These became known as ‘Monthly Grumps’ where I was able to vent my spleen, hopefully in an amusing way on issues both serious and not so serious. After several months of this the print magazine went out of business! Suddenly I started receiving emails from all over the world, mainly from fans of ‘Clan’ asking me what had happened to my ‘Monthly Grumps’. I had no idea anyone outside the immediate area was reading them, but apparently unknown to me the magazine was also published online and they were being read as far away as Australia, Canada and the USA! I said I would try and find a mechanism to keep them going online and hence ‘Clan Magazine’ Over time it has grown somewhat to include other things, including Scottish Matters, Alternative Health, Fun and Games etc and I have a few other contributors as well.

5-With the digital age upon us, where do you see the majority of your readers purchasing your books 5 years from now?

I love books. Perhaps it is my age, but I find e-book readers or trying to read on a computer screen uncomfortable. I would personally much prefer to curl up with a paperback than an e-book reader. I also conducted a very unscientific survey of my readers and far and away the major response was that, with certain exception, they preferred traditional books to. However I want to engage with all readers and I am also very keen to encourage reading amongst the young, so I always publish books both in the traditional way and in digital format. I believe quality is an issue with digital publishing as there is very little in the way of ‘quality control’ in digital publishing – often no human intervention is involved at all. Personally, even if I used e-book readers, I would be resistant to buying a book that had only been produced in digital format. It seem to indicate to me that nobody, even the author was prepared to invest in the book. It is the equivalent to me of a film that ‘goes straight to video’ and is never seen in cinemas. I will always provide both options but I really cannot see digital books taking over entirely in the next 5 years. I foresee a major shake-up in the e-book market, I suspect that most e-book readers will probably lose out to tablets of one kind or another. If I were to predict, I still think I will be selling more paperbacks than e-books in 5 years time, but the market will decide and hopefully I will have that covered whichever way the market goes.