Ding Dong it’s the Avon lady

Yes, it’s time to bring out the free samples and aim for that shiny ‘Salesperson of the Year’ badge. As author John Dolan put it:

‘I didn’t know when I started this writing lark that I’d have to become a double glazing salesman’. (Fans of witty gritty noir thrillers with complex PIs check out John’s totally addictive series ‘Time Blood and Karma’ http://www.amazon.com/John-Dolan/e/B008IIERF0)

When Amazon introduced the idea back in 2007 that writers could become publishers, a revolution started. All of us who had a book somewhere in our head needed only (?) to write it, then follow the Kindle Direct Publishing guide and lo, our Word document shift-shaped into a digital book which could be read on any ebook reader, tablet, smartphone or computer. No more hanging about waiting for agents to decide whether or not the manuscript was ‘what they were looking for’ – almost certainly not – no more crushed egos as rejection slips dropped like confetti through the letterbox. A revolution indeed.

But don’t forget the fat lady.

You’re an indie author. You are happy and modestly proud. You’ve come up with the riveting plot, the unforgettable characters and the pithy dialogue. You’ve negotiated the steps in the KDP guide. Amazon has fired your oeuvre on to a cloud. Isn’t that the end?

No, because your book is sitting up there, sad and lonely, lost among millions of others.

is that one mine?
is that one mine?

How are people going to find it, let alone buy it? You don’t just want it to go drifting off into space like George Clooney in Gravity, never to be seen again, do you? (Personally I was disappointed to see George disappear so soon.)  So it’s up to you to get out there and find your readers. In other words you have to do the marketing equivalent of Sandra Bullock grappling with airlocks, activating undocking systems and launching herself at a speeding space station with a fire extinguisher.

First this means putting in hours of research on the internet finding out how to market. Then you have to apply the techniques to your magnum opus and hope your book shoots onto another, loftier, cloud, this one bearing the label ‘Top 100′. For the technologically challenged among us, this process also involves eyeball to eyeball confrontations with stuff you never dreamed existed. URLs, RSS feeds ASINs and bitlys. At the end, like Sandra, you’ll be down to your underwear, sweating profusely and holding a one-sided conversation with machines.  Note: For those who don’t like vodka, I can recommend sauvignon blanc.

And so to the subject of this blog. My first ebook, Biarritz Passion: French Summer Novel Book 1, will be on free promotion between May 4th (afternoonish if you live in Europe) and May 8th. Spread the word to your millions of Facebook and Twitter buddies! (I don’t have any).

N.B. Book 2 in the series, Hot Basque, is scheduled for launch shortly afterwards. I prefer not to give a specific date. All those clouds, not to mention stuff flying about in space. Remember Sandra saying ‘OK we detach this, then we go home. Piece of cake’? That was just before the space station was hit by flying debris and exploded into 500 zillion lethal fragments. Just suppose that while my finger hovered over the ‘Submit Hot Basque’ button a meteorite happened to bump into the satellite that provides our internet connexion. Or hurtled through the ceiling of my study and blew up my computer. Or –

Well, you get it.

Watch this space…

oh no...
oh no…





Just back from a visit to this great city.

Initially surprised and touched  that the locals had laid on an exceptionally warm welcome for us, we quickly discovered the cheering crowds were for Nicola Sturgeon, woman of the moment, leader of the Scottish Nationalist Party, or ‘Queen of Scots’ as she was referred to in the press after winning the first TV election debate on April 2nd.

For those who have managed to miss the news, there will be a General Election in the UK on May 7th. Here’s how it’s looking.

The ‘cyberwar’ is now well underway, with ‘cyberwarriors’ engaging in ‘precision strikes’ and ‘carpet bombing’. (NB: a ‘cyberwarrior’ should not be confused with a ‘happy warrior’, e.g. Ed Miliband,* fending off attempts to destabilize him by Conservatives engaged in a ‘Kill Mill’ plot.) After the first TV debate, ‘Sturgeonmania’ swept the country, in spite of the Nikileaks scandal**, which ‘the nippy sweetie’ claims was all a ‘dirty tricks campaign’ (and in which the perfidious French were somehow involved). Her ‘cybernats’ have been busy ‘pumping out vines’*** on Twitter with the aim of ‘going viral’.

In case you’re wondering what on earth I’m blathering on about, I’m merely quoting expressions found in the UK press over Easter. Apparently social media will have a vital role in the election, so, dear ex-pat readers, it’s time to get out your vocabulary notebook and start adding new items on the ‘Politics’ page. Then you can slip them into casual conversation with the neighbours, using tactical cyberbluffing to ensure you continue to hold the political and technical high ground. ****

All very interesting, but personally I preferred discovering the fabulous cocktails at the Chaophraya restaurant while craning my neck from the rooftop terrace to try and spot the haunts of Edinburgh’s legendary detective, Inspector John Rebus.


cocktails at the Chaophraya
cocktails at the Chaophraya


‘…as he stop-started between the lights on Queensferry Road he thought maybe he’d go to the Oxford Bar. Not for a drink, maybe just for a cola or a coffee, and some company….he drove past Oxford Terrace, stopped at the foot of Castle Street. Walked up the slope towards the Ox. Edinburgh castle was just over the rise. The best view you could get of it was from a burger place on Princes Street. He pushed open the door to the pub, feeling heat and smelling smoke. He didn’t need cigarettes in the Ox: breathing was like killing a ten-pack….Harry was on duty tonight. He lifted an empty pint glass and waved it in Rebus’s direction.

‘Aye, OK then,’ Rebus said, like it was the easiest decision he’d ever made.’

(Ian Rankin, “Dead Souls”)


*Notes by Ed Miliband to himself were left behind in the TV studio; he reminded himself to appear as ‘a happy warrior’ (a Wordsworth quotation, also used by Obama in his campaign).

**Just after the TV broadcast, a memo was leaked to the press which stated that Sturgeon had privately told the French ambassador she would prefer the Conservatives to remain in power after the election in spite of her promises to Scottish voters that her party would not support a Tory government.

*** vine: a short video

****To understand these terms, we were fortunate in having an interpreter from the younger generation, great-nephew Brodie, who can be seen below.  Three months old, but already a genius. ‘After all,’ he told us ‘it’s child’s play’. Mum and Dad were interpreters.

'Not sure about the Happy Warrior, Ed.'
‘Not sure about the Happy Warrior, Ed.’