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Floxham Island ~ Sinclair V-Log AZ267/M now available

floxham final blog size

My brand new novel Floxham Island ~ Sinclair V-Log AZ267/M is now available to purchase in both paperback and e-book formats from Amazon, Smashwords, Lulu and Ganxy.  All the links are on the Floxham Island page (link below or click the link at the top of the page).

Sam Sinclair thought this was just another run of the mill job. As a freelance law enforcement operative, his job is to find the target and deliver them into the hands of the Law Enforcement Agency. When his law enforcement contacts asked him to find Professor Nembier who they believed had murdered nine of his co workers out on a secluded archaeological dig on Agrillia 3, he fully expected to have the job done quickly. Finding the Professor was the easy part and was to become the beginning of a terrible nightmare for Sam and his companions.

Delivering his prisoner to Floxham Island Prison should spell the end of the job for Sam and some much needed time off but once he and his companions find themselves stranded upon the strangely deserted prison planet and discover the horror that has recently taken place there, it soon becomes his worst nightmare. Facing the horrors that lurk in the dark whilst avoiding those that dwell in the light, Sam discovers that a new killer is amongst them.  As their numbers dwindle, Sam races to find the killer and secure the lives of those still surviving amidst the terror that is Floxham Island.

Click here to Visit the Floxham Island page

How to recognise a new kind of sock puppet

There has been a lot of talk in recent months about sock puppets and for those who’ve only just returned to Earth, sock puppetry is buying reviews for your book or making a fake account from a site such as Amazon and giving yourself a glowing review.  That’s the basic version anyway.  Google it for more information.

I’ve discovered a new kind of sock puppet and this one wears a disguise to try to hide the fact that it’s just a sock puppet.  Over on facebook I get invited to many ‘pages’ and ‘events’ run by authors all wanting to market their book or raise its public profile and many of them resort to good old bribery to do it.

They offer you prizes such as Amazon gift cards, kindles, paypal money etc but in return for being allowed to enter this competition (which is nothing more than pulling a name out of a hat) you have to buy their book, download their book, vote for their book and/or leave a review.  Then and only then will you be entered into the draw, which you probably won’t win anyway.

Now, we’d all love a brand new Kindle Fire or £100 paypal money and many people go in for these so called ‘competitions’ without realising what they are actually doing.  They are taking the promise of material reward in return for leaving a glowing review of a book they’ve probably never read anyway, which gives potential readers a totally false view of the product they intend to pay honest money for.

Let’s say for instance that this gal wrote a romance novel and offers such a thinly veiled bribe and people leave glowing reviews of it on Amazon or Goodreads saying how wonderful it is, how perfectly written and how they can’t wait to read more from this wonderful wordsmith etc, you know the sort of drivel.  So a real buyer comes along and likes the look of the hot guy on the cover and thinks about buying it but decides to read the reviews first.  Everyone seems to be awestruck by this wonderful piece of literature so they buy it and eagerly await the postman.  When the knock at the door comes they almost bite off his arm to get at the package and rip it open.  With a fresh coffee to hand and the cat on their lap, they sit down to read.

Then they discover the spelling errors, the bad (or none at all) punctuation, the continuity errors, the horrendously stilted dialogue, incorrect or total lack of research, contradictions galore and generally bad grammar.  They might not know the mistakes are there on a conscious level but they will quickly realise the book is difficult to read, it doesn’t seem to flow and they cannot tell who is talking and who isn’t.  They will get irritated by the overuse of identical dialogue attribution (if it’s used at all) and will find themselves thinking,

“What the fuck is this all about?”

They will feel disappointed and angry at the wasted money and time and will then assume that all  indie/self published books are of a similar standard and will be far less likely to buy another.  For those of us who take a lot of care over the quality of our product, that is a slap in the ta ta’s we don’t deserve.  We must act to raise the bar for the whole indie/self publishing world and a huge part of doing that is to stop trying to con our customers.  You may think it’s okay to help another author out, even if you’re only doing it in the hope they’ll do the same for you (they won’t, believe me) but take a moment to think of the customer who reads your review.  Will they be happy that you told the truth?  If not then remember that same customer might not be too happy to buy your book when it comes out, after being conned with the last one.

The Lilean Chronicles is now complete

The fourth and final volume in The Lilean Chronicles series is now in the process of publication.  It is live at Lulu.com now and will soon be available at Smashwords and Amazon.

I’m delighted to reveal the cover and to send my gratitude to JL Stratton for his patience and expertise in making another fabulous cover.

The Lilean Chronicles – now on kindlegraph

 

Just a quickie to let everyone know that my series, The Lilean Chronicles is now registered with Kindlegraph.

To get your e-copy personalised and signed, go to kindlegraph.com and search for The Lilean Chronicles.

Happy reading..!

Headers and Footers have a mind of their own

I’m not the most technically minded person in the universe and all things internet and pc based really try my patience.  Since I’ve had access to the internet, which is a few years now, I’ve learned so much and all of it by trial and error and google. I’ve not had any lessons in using computers or the internet so although I’m still a bit of a bonehead, I’m proud of my level of ability.

Since I started writing my novels I’ve had to learn all about self publishing and it’s been an uphill task all the way.  Thankfully, lulu and smashwords make it very easy to understand what to do to get your book published and out there.  I’m  now finding the amazon publishing platform much easier to understand and use now that I’ve gained a little experience.

Actually uploading the finished document is child’s play; it’s the formatting of the bloody thing that is so awkward.  Word is easy enough to use but it’s a bit lacking in explanations and instructions.  The problem I’ve battled with today is headers and footers.

Jeez I hate those things; they always give me trouble.  I always have problems with getting my page numbers to start at Chapter 1.  It always seems to insist on giving page numbers to the front matter too and I always end up tearing my hair out.  Today I finally worked out how to do it.

It’s all about breaks.  Page breaks and section breaks are the way you divide up your manuscript and it is essential you use them in a certain way to make sure your headers and footers do as they’re told.

For the front matter – title page, copyright page, dedication and so on, use a section break (next page) at the end of each page.  This will make each page of the front matter be treated as a separate section and any headers and footers will be only for that page.   For the chapters, use ordinary page breaks at the end of each chapter.  This will enable you to make sure that your headers and footers don’t continue from the previous section.

Then it’s just a case of doing each header and footer and making sure you delete any automatically  inputted text and making sure the ‘same as previous’ is switched off so that your front matter is clear of any headers and footers.

You can then input the headers and footers for the chapters and since you used page breaks, the whole body of the manuscript will be treated like one giant section and the whole thing will heave headers and footers in one go.

I know you probably all know this already, and really this blog is as much for a reminder for me when volume 4 of The Lilean Chronicles comes out, as it is for anyone else’s gain, but if it helps someone else then all to the good.

I’ve joined the Amazon fetish club

Since I’ve been writing I’ve learned many things, all of which have value somewhere, somehow.  Until now, I’ve published my books via lulu and smashwords and avoided Amazon.

The reason I’ve left Amazon alone is because I’m English and live in the UK and to publish via Createspace (Amazon’s paperback publishing platform) and Kindle (its e-book publishing platform) you need to have a USA tax code or they stiff you for 30% of all profits for their tax.  The complexity of getting such a code as always put me off, until I discovered the shortcut (which I explained in my previous blog here).

So now I have my EIN code I decided to join Amazon and get my books up there.

One of the things I’ve learned since I’ve been writing is that the book world seems to have a very strong Amazon fetish and unless your work is available there, you’re ignored or not taken as a ‘serious’ self pubber.  I don’t know why this should be but it is, so it’s a case of join up or be left behind.

I’ve spent the last fortnight reformatting all 3 volumes of The Lilean Chronicles for Amazon and finally tonight I got the last one uploaded.  Sometime tomorrow I’ll be able to post the links and stand up with the rest of the ‘real’ writers with my head held high and shriek

…..”I’VE JOINED THE AMAZON FETISH CLUB”…..

Navigating the USA tax nightmare for UK authors

EDIT – Since writing this blog entry, I have been informed of a couple of minor changes to the procedure I outline below. I have edited to accommodate these changes, so don’t worry about my information being out of date. Please note, I am not an accountant and am not in any way giving advice. This is simply an account of my own experience, with updates as the procedure has changed. Follow it if you wish.

I am indebted to Paul Teague, a fellow author and podcaster for informing me of these changes. Check out his blog here.

Today started out as just another ordinary day.  Y’know like any other?  The last hour has turned just another ordinary day into one of those defining moments of your life when something previously unreachable and mysterious suddenly falls into your lap, so opening another door to possiblities.

Okay, get to the point I hear you cry, and I will; I just want to build the atmosphere a bit as befits this momentous occasion.

I’m a UK author and as such, I need a USA tax code if I wish to avoid having 30% of my USA sales income to be deducted by Amazon and Smashwords.  There is a procedure for us ‘aliens’ to get this tax code but as anyone who has investigated it will tell you, it’s so complicated and scary it will keep you awake at nights.  This is why I’ve avoided even trying up until tonight, when I found out something so completely amazing that I still can’t believe it even now.

The normal way to get the USA tax code, called a TIN, ITIN or EIN is to fill in a complicated form called a W7, which you have to take through a horrendous series of hoops before you get the number allocated to you.  This number must then be given to whoever you publish with (Amazon, Smashwords etc) by filling in a form called a W8BEN.  Once that is done, you will get 100% of all USA sales income.

The W7 part of this maze is what causes the problems.  You have to get it notarised or authorised with the right form of ID etc etc ad nauseam and then you’ll probably have to pay someone to sign a form saying yes, you are who you claim to be.  You then have to send it somewhere and wait weeks for your precious number to be allocated to you so that you can then send in your W8BEN.

Well I’ve just got my number without having to fart around with a W7 and the whole process took me around 5 minutes, after which I was issued with an EIN on the spot.  I filled in my W8BEN and it sits atop my bookcase ready for posting tomorrow.

How did I circumnavigate the usual hassle?  Okay, pin back yer lugholes and make notes.

You first have to ring America and speak to the IRS.  The phone number from the UK is 001-267-941-1099.  When you get the recorded message, press 1 for English, if that is your language, then press 1 again and wait for someone to answer.  When someone answers, tell them you are applying for an EIN as a sole proprietor.  If they ask you whether you have filled out an SS-4, tell them you don’t need one as you only need the EIN.  They will then ask you for the usual details, name, address etc.  They will ask you if you have employees (say no, you are sole proprietor) and they will ask you the date this is from (I said today but you can backdate it I guess).  They will ask what your business is (say author) and they will ask if you have a different business address (say no).

They will then issue you with your own EIN right there and then.  No W7, no farting about and no fuss, very nicely thank you.

Fill in the W8BEN and send it off to whoever you publish with and wait.

EDIT I have since heard, although I cannot verify it, that there is now a quicker way even than this. Remember, this was the procedure at the time of writing, which was 2012. If you do find an even quicker and easier way, do let me know and I can further update this blog.

Sit back with a smug grin on your face and treat yourself to that extra choccy bar, jack daniels & coke or whatever your particular treat is.