Buy My Book! (Or Download It for Free if You’re Quick)

The Cover of my eBook: Do You Dare Me to Cross the Line?
The Cover of my eBook: Do You Dare Me to Cross the Line?

As hinted in the previous post, I’ve been dipping my toe in the waters of ebook creation and my first offering is now available for download (free for a limited period until the end of Tuesday 7th April) on Amazon for Kindle readers (and Kindle reader apps).

The ebook features four short stories, all  of which were selected and performed by the Liars’ League.

Read about:

  • Naked photography in a hipster’s  Shoreditch loft kitchen in Do You Dare Me to Cross the Line?
  • An intern’s impromptu elevator pitch for the most calamitous disaster movie ever in Elevator Pitch
  • The petrol-headed rage of a spurned, blade-wielding opera singer in The Good Knife
  • Lovesick rapping from the dock by a guilt-ridden, Premier League hard-man in Well Sick for a White Guy.

All are 2,000 words or under so can be read in ten minutes or so.  10-15 minute stories that were memorably read by actors at Liars’ League’s award spoken-word evenings in London, Leicester and Hong Kong. Click on the cover image to download the book.

Links to three of the live performances can be found elsewhere on this blog. The exception is Well Sick For A White Guy, which was performed in September by Liars’ League Leicester. The video for this story hasn’t been made available online and the only place the text can be found is in this ebook (unlike the two Liars League London stories which can be read on the Liars League website).

Well Sick For a White Guy might actually be my favourite story of the four. The reading would certainly have been fun and I’m rather sad that I missed it, although Alex Woodhall and Sarah Feathers’ readings of the first two stories in London were excellent in person and Bhavini Ravel’s great reading of The Good Knife can be viewed below.

I’m not normally a fan of giving away intellectual property for free because of the way it eventually undermines the ability of creative people to get a decent reward for their work. However, it’s the fact that these stories are in the public domain already which has encouraged me to publish them together as an ebook — and people did pay to hear all of them read for each public performance. Therefore I’d have the book on free download indefinitely if it wasn’t for the rather strict promotional rules on Kindle Direct Publishing (only five days in any ninety day period).

When the promotional period is over, the book will revert to the current Amazon Kindle minimum price of £1.99 — which is less than the price of a cappuccino in Pret A Manger or half a pint of beer in most pubs in London (i.e. not much at all compared with the relative effort that goes into the creation of each).

You don’t need a Kindle to download to as Amazon will provide Kindle reading apps for iPhones, iPads, Android devices, PCs and so on.

As well as experimenting with the mechanics of self-publishing, my motivation for publishing it is purely give anyone who’s curious enough a concise taste of my writing and if anyone who downloads it feels kind enough to leave a review then that would be great.

I don’t make any great artistic claims for the cover image above (anyone spot where it is?) but it’s a fact of self-publishing that you need to have one — and not one that rips off anyone else’s image rights (that’s my own photo). The eventual image was voted for overwhelmingly (out of a not-very-inspiring selection) by my Facebook friends!

And my stories are rubbing literary shoulders in exalted company as Liars League is now on Radio 4! A series of three readings — from Hong Kong, New York and London — is currently running on Sunday evenings at 7.45pm. The first story was broadcast yesterday. While my stories have no connection with those broadcast, it’s a fantastic endorsement of overall quality threshold of the Liars’ League events and is a very positive reflection on my fellow LL writer alumni.

Liars' League Listing in the Radio Times, Easter Sunday 2015
Liars’ League Listing in the Radio Times, Easter Sunday 2015

My collection has been put together with the blessing of Liars’ League — Liar Katy Darby helped me pick the title and had a look at an early version of the ebook. I’ve actually been doing Katy’s  highly-recommended Writers’ Workshop short course at City University between January and March this year to help develop ideas for the next novel — keep reading this blog for more news on that over the next few months).

I’ll be looking at other means of distributing the ebook but it needs to be exclusive to Amazon for the next three months so, if you’re interested, download it as soon as possible. Watch the blog or follow me on Twitter for when it goes on free download again.

Incidentally, if you want to watch Alex Woodhall’s superb reading of Do You Dare Me to Cross the Line? one more time in person then he’ll be performing it at a special event — the Studio 189 Spring Ball organised by my friends Sabina and Fay on 25th April in north London. It also offers a private viewing of some erotic artworks and an opera singer — all for the bargain price of £30.

Studio 189 Spring Ball
Studio 189 Spring Ball


First Dale Winton, Now Amazon Remind Me of An Enormous Boob

I’ve just had an e-mail from Amazon asking me if I’d be interested in a certain selection of titles by one of their best-selling authors. The titles include: ‘Crystal’, ‘Sapphire’, ‘Paradise’ and, oh this is a bit worrying, ‘Angel’ and, even more so, ‘Angel Uncovered’. The author concerned, as probably 95% of the book-buying population knows (the exception being the sort of people who are enrolled on, or maybe otherwise involved with, university creative writing classes), is Katie Price (aka brand Jordan).

I had actually recently become aware of this unfortunate co-incidence  — but only several weeks after our course reading had touted the title of my novel to the great and good of the London literary agency world as ‘THE Angel’.

I was pulling up weeds in the vegetable patch when I was listening to Dale Winton on Radio Two — who was making a more entertaining stand-in turn than Steve Wright normally manages (why is it that EVERYONE Steve Wright mentions always ‘Loves the Show’ — and that Steve Wright feels it necessary to tell us that?).

Dale Winton was interviewing Katie Price — as one can imagine it wasn’t really a Jeremy Paxman style grilling. After they exhausted the topic of how the media were for some inexplicable reason always invading her privacy (she’s only done three interviews all year so who on earth is promoting the constant coverage of her in the tabloids?) they discussed her writing career. I was mildly interested until I heard the name of the main character of the series — Angel –who’s oddly enough a glamour model.

I was pretty mortified by this at the time. Partly it was because I’d not done my research on names and, had I done so, then I may have avoided using any angelic references in my title. That said, many books have similar titles and Katie Price is the kind of author (if that’s the right word) whose name is in far bigger type on the book cover than the title, which is almost incidental. However, even though the literary agents we invited to the reading would certainly not have expected me to launch into a carbon-copy bonkbuster (I hope) then they may have been unfortunately reminded, even subliminally, of the connection.

I still like my title, though, as it has a lot of meanings and connotations — apart from the religious guidance, protection and revelatory aspects it’s also the name of the nearest tube to City University — it just has an extra association now.

What I’m a bit more unsettled about is Amazon sending me an e-mail suggesting I might want to buy the whole Katie Price canon. I may once have browsed briefly at her book after I heard the Dale Winton interview although I remember more clearly flicking through the new one (‘Paradise’ I think in W.H.Smith) and having to wait as long as page five to get to a sex scene. I can understand them sending me mails about creative writing books or boring IT strategy texts that I buy for my MSc in Software development but I’ve hardly, if ever, looked at the sexy adventures of Angel. I do have a lot of files on my computer’s hard disk with Angel in the title, though, and I may have sent a lot of e-mails with Angel in the subject line. Makes you wonder.

How Far Does Amazon Go In Researching Its Recommendations?

I got an e-mail this morning from Amazon based on the fact I bought ‘Doña Nicanora’s Hat Shop’  by Kirstan Hawkins from them. Headed More to explore: are you looking for something in our Fiction category? If so, you might be interested in these items.’

I was intrigued to see that Penny Rudge’s ‘Foolish Lessons in Life and Love’ was second on the list. I don’t know how they worked this out unless they’d recorded that I’d searched for the book previously. If they’d combined browsing history with purchasing history they’d also find that I’ve already bought that book from them and it was delivered earlier this week.

So I wondered whether there was something more crafty at work? The books are, on the face of it, not terribly similar in content apart from being modern fiction written by women. I guess it could be that there have been enough people on our year’s (and perhaps previous years’)  Certificate in Novel Writing course to have searched for both books fairly recently and they’ve mined this connection out of their database? If so, that’s quite an interesting network effect and shows how word of mouth and personal connections can influence this sort of viral marketing.

The other books, whose descriptions I’ve not yet dug into to discover if they also have City University connections, are: ‘Ruby’s Spoon’  by Anna Lawrence Pietron; ‘Ms Hempel Chronicles’ by Sarah Shun-Lien Bynum; ‘The Wives of Henry Oades’  by Johanna Moran; and ‘The Hidden Heart of Emily Hudson’ by Melissa Jones. I guess they’re all by women but I wonder if any of these authors has a connection with people on the course or with Kirstan Hawkins or Penny Rudge — there’s probably some connection somewhere either through buying the books or some underlying collective browsing pattern.