THE WAKE-UP CALL

You either love him or hate him. No matter if you think he’s an asshole or just a nice guy in a heap of trouble, Jack Reynolds will stir your feelings. Do like 40 000 readers and enjoy his story…

You can buy The Wake-Up Call (print) at The Book Depository or Amazon US and UK Or why not as an e-book? Amazon US, UK, FR, IT, DE, ES.

Book description:

On the surface he has it all: the women, the career, and the Central Park view penthouse, but behind his well-groomed and chiseled facade he has nothing.

At least this is what he’s about to realize.

At age 35, alpha-male Jack Reynolds’ workaholic, womanizing and self-centered behavior is catching up with him both physically and mentally. After a series of grave romantic mistakes, he tries to get away from it all by boarding a plane to Cancun, Mexico.

But Jack soon realizes he can’t really run away from anything…

…especially not himself.

Find out how Jack gets his life-changing wake-up call in this fast-paced, heartfelt and funny novel about soul-searching, friendship, and love.

Readers response to The Wake-Up Call…
“A contemporary Don Draper!”
“A riveting page-turner.”
“Brilliant fun for small money.”
“If you don’t smile to this book, you probably never smile anyway.”
“Like a male Bridget Jones in the voice of Marian Keyes.”
“Good style, great flow! Can’t remember that a book entertained me this much.”
Gritty, realistic and a damn good read!”
“The Wake-Up Call really has it all – you laugh, you’re moved and most of all you’re entertained.”

The Wake-Up Call reached the semi-finals in The Kindle Book Review’s Best Indie Books of 2012.

Reading right now: Wool and The Liberty Tree

However crazy it may sound, I’m usually reading two books at the same time; one e-book on my iPhone in the gym and one at home in print.

My gym book at the moment is Wool by Hugh Howey, a book with a crazy amount of five-star reviews on Amazon and already hailed as a sci-fi classic. I’m not a huge fan of sci-fi, but the reviews and the storyline intrigued me so I couldn’t really pass it up. Check it out for yourself, I’m about 20% in and it’s a really great story.

Description for Wool:

This is the story of mankind clawing for survival, of mankind on the edge. The world outside has grown unkind, the view of it limited, talk of it forbidden. But there are always those who hope, who dream. These are the dangerous people, the residents who infect others with their optimism. Their punishment is simple. They are given the very thing they profess to want: They are allowed outside.

The other book I’m reading is The Liberty Tree: Drunk to Sober Via Love, Death, Disintegration & Freedom by Suzanne Harrington. It seems like a very interesting book. I will review both The Liberty Tree and Wool on the blog soon.

Description for The Liberty Tree:

Touching and brutally honest, The Liberty Tree is like nothing you have read before. It raises questions many of us will find difficult to answer, but it is ultimately life affirming in its humour, warmth and candour. It will be the most talked about memoir of 2013.

Book review: Spirit House by Mark Dapin

I just finished Spirit House by Mark Dapin today and I must say it’s one of those books that make you want to stop writing altogether. The reason being it’s so well-written that, as a fellow author, it’s easy to lose your motivation. You think, how will I ever be able to write something that good?

But that is obviously not critique towards Spirit House, because it’s a very entertaining read that I have only good things to say about.

Spirit House is much about the relationship between an old man and his grandson. The man, Jimmy, was a prisoner of war and a Digger on the Thai-Burma railway during the second world war and suffers greatly from the horrors of his past. He wakes up in the middle of the night screaming, being right in the middle of the memories that haunt him and the only way to alleviate this pain is to tell the story to his grandson, David.

David is really excited by the stories at first, but the more gory and brutal they get, the less he wants to hear about them. You could say he’s fascinated, but at the same time slightly sick to hear what he’s grandfather had to experience.

Spirit House is a deeply moving book. Dapin’s excellent use of the English language really paints a vivid picture of how it was to be involved in the war, not only as a POW but in general. The book is full of humor, especially in the dialogue of Jimmy and his old Digger friends, Solomon, Katz, and Myer who meet up to talk about the past from time to time, something which usually involves pretty harsh but mainly very funny conversations.

This is what Dapin writes himself about Spirit House: I wrote it as a war of remembering my own grandfather, and the generation who fought in the Second World War. I tried to capture their dry, sometimes brutal humour, their love of profanity (but only when there were no “ladies” present) and equally pronounced love of a drink. My granddad was not a POW. He served in the Air Rescue Service in the East End of London during the Blitz, but the characters of the old men in my novel are based loosely on him and his ex-service mates, and the conversations they used to have on Sunday afternoons in the club.

Dapin draws up great characters and he tells the story much like had been there himself. It obviously helps that Dapin is the editor of The Penguin Book of Australian War Writing, but still you can’t be nothing but impressed by the amount detail and emotion with which he tells the story. To be able to capture such a tale is no small feat, but Dapin does it brilliantly and he has crafted a novel  that is equally distressing and tragic as it is funny and clever.

But before I end my review by recommending you to read this beautiful book, I should tell you what a spirit house is. A spirit house is a shrine to the protective spirit of a place. It’s found in Southeast Asian countries like Burma, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand. The spirit house is usually shaped like a miniature house or a temple. The house is intended to provide a shelter for the spirits.

And that’s why Jimmy is building a spirit house, to make the spirits leave him in peace. If he succeeds, you’d better find out yourself by reading Spirit House.

Hollywood Ass – a box of print books arrived

The day started with Aiden and I picking up a box of fresh “Hollywood Ass.” from the US and A. They look great, all thanks to my brilliant cover designer Etienne Bugeja. They’re available on Amazon US or Amazon UK etc. Read more about how to get your hands on one through the dedicated Hollywood Ass page. And if you’re interested in reviewing it for Amazon and your personal blog or website, send me your details and I might send you a print or e-book straight away. Any help getting the message out about the book is GREATLY appreciated.

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Looking for book reviewers

(Yes, it’s an adorable kitten reading a book. All to get your attention.)

How do you market a book without reviews or testimonials? The answer is you don’t. Book reviews sell books, there’s no question about it. And for indie authors reviews are an even more important tool, because some e-book marketing sites won’t even accept an ad if the book has less than 4.0 stars out of 5 in average (I find this rule very strange), so without reviews or with a poor review average you will have little chance to get your writing out to a wider audience.

This is why I’m asking for your help. I’m looking for book reviewers for my stories, most importantly Hollywood Ass. which was recently published on Amazon Kindle.

So, I will offer you free copies of my books, either Hollywood Ass. or The Wake-Up Call in return for a review on your blog or Amazon site of your choice.

If you’re interested in reviewing either of the books (or my free short stories A Killer Date or The Development Talk) please write a comment on this post or send me an e-mail to jonaswrites_at_gmail.com (“_at_” equals @).

I have a selected number of print copies that I will send to you who can motivate why you should get a print copy instead of a file or a download link. I’ll even sign them 🙂

Hollywood Ass. print version: Print UKPrint US.

Links for Hollywood Ass kindle version: USUKDEFRESITJPCABR.

Writing and Self-Publishing a Book

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Writing a book is easy. After all, I have written two and I’m no rocket scientist.

Of course, if you want to write a really good book, it might be more difficult. I always aim high, but I guess it will take a few books before I’m really, really satisfied with the result. But at least I’m writing and trying my best. (If you want to check out what I’ve written – check out My Books.)

So how do you write a book? Well, first you put words together, then you put sentences together and then you put paragraphs together and then you put pages together and voila! you have a book.

It might suck, but at least it’s a pile of paper showing you’ve worked for hours.

Because even if writing a book is easy, it does take a lot of time. You really have to put the effort in. It’s like what Malcolm Gladwell says in his book Outliers: you need 10 000 hours to achieve mastery. For writing it seems like 10 000 hours isn’t a whole lot and definitely no guarantee for mastery. You might work on a book for 10 000 hours and it might still turn out to be complete crap, because writing a good book is difficult – writing any book is easy.

How can it be easy? Well, I suggest you take a look at the Kindle Store. There are millions of book there. Many of them self-published. Many of them shit. Still someone had to sit down, write for hours and days, put the book together, get a cover designed, set up the book in Amazon KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing), decide on a price and click PUBLISH.

Some of the books that you might think are shit get thousands of downloads. Some even get decent reviews. This obviously means that you can write one too! Maybe even a good one!

You don’t need to be a genius to be an author, you just need a computer, heaps of time and a bucketful of determination (because self-doubt WILL haunt you like a hungry ghost).

After a lengthy introduction, here comes the steps towards getting a book published.

1. Have an idea of what to write. You can approach this in different ways. Here are a few:

Based on a situation – “What happens if a guy gets stuck in an elevator with convicted felon and they start talking about their past and it turns out they’re related?”

Based on a person – “What if you have a (on the surface) really dislikable guy who through the course of the book turns out to be quite likeable?

Based on a (historical) event – “How was it to grow up in Hiroshima in the aftermath of the atomic bomb?

Based on a strict plotline – “There is a murder on the Orient express and it’s obvious that one of the passengers is the murderer, but it’s a complete mystery who it is.”

2. When you have the idea you need to: Write, write, write. (This is an essential part of the process).

3. Don’t stop every other page and look at what you have written. This might work for some, but I find it to grow a lot of doubts around what you’re writing, which might lead to you never finishing anything. Which would be very sad.

4. Make sure you find time and space to write. Whether you prefer to write in a café or a hotel lobby (like me) or in your private office or in a cabin in the woods, is up to you – but make sure you’re able to focus a hundred percent on the writing.

5. Cut out distractions. Linked to 4, but worth to be repeated. Unplug your internet cable or turn off your wifi if needed. Get a typewriter. Use a fountain pen. Whatever works for you.

6. Write every day. If you don’t, it’s easy to lose track or interest in the story and the characters. Better an hour a day, than two hours every other day in my experience. Writing every day will make you feel good about yourself too. Like you’re working towards something.

7. Seek inspiration from books, long walks, Internet, friends, overhearing conversations in the subway or cafés, newspapers, family and friends. Be a sponge!

8. Make sure you have fun while you write. (This is probably the most important tip of all). If it’s not fun, it won’t be good. And, not to forget, life is supposed to be fun.

9. When you’ve finished, let someone you trust and respect like your spouse or a best friend read your work. Let them be critical. Try to take it for what it is – constructive feedback. Don’t listen to everything if you feel strongly about something, but try to be open-minded.

10. Rewrite. Rewrite. Rewrite.

11. Let the material rest. Put it in a drawer. Don’t look at it for days or weeks. It’s important to look at your writing with fresh eyes.

12. Pick it up again and read it. It might even be worth to do it out loud to make sure the rhythm is right.

13. (PRO TIP) Hire an editor to give you input and properly proof your book. Can be expensive, but probably worth every penny if you want professional material.

14. Rewrite again.

15. When you’re happy with the material and you think the book is finished, you have two roads to go: pitch your material to an agent and hope to get a contract with a publishing house or self-publish your work. This is obviously up to you, but I have found self-publishing to be a quite friendly and far less frustrating route.

16. Publish. Below you will find some thoughts on where and how…

If you decide on traditional publishing you really need to scout for a suitable agent and make sure you have a good cover letter and a super neat manuscript. Since I haven’t really focused on this route myself (although I have acquired some 20 rejection slips), I feel I’m not the right person to give you advice on it, but there should be plenty of references online.

If self-publishing is the road for you, you have quite a few options of suppliers. Since publishing e-books is the cheapest and easiest way to reach out, I’d definitely suggest starting out with that channel.

Some players in self-publishing industry: Amazon KDPKoboNookSmashwords (for print I found Createspace to be great)

What you need to self-publish properly:

  • A good writing software like Microsoft Word or Pages (for mac).
  • You might need an e-book file conversion software like Calibre.
  • You might like to check out a dedicated writing software like Scrivener.
  • You will need a cover designer or if you want to do it yourself a proper design software like Adobe Photoshop. IMPORTANT! The cover might be one of the most important marketing tools so spend extra time/money to get this really good. I used a good friend and a great designer, Etienne Bugeja, for The Wake-Up Call and Hollywood Ass and I have received lots of praise for the covers.
  • See to it that you write a good sales text for the back cover blurb, the description and for marketing to different book sites. Read this post on how to market your e-book.

A sentence to summarize…

MAKE SURE EVERYTHING YOU DO WITH YOUR BOOK BREATHE PROFESSIONALISM. FOR PEOPLE TO TAKE YOU SERIOUSLY, YOU HAVE TO TAKE YOURSELF AND YOUR WRITING SERIOUSLY.

That’s it. The best of luck and remember: you can write and publish a book!

I Know You Want a Piece of Ass.

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I know, I know. It’s an absolutely ridiculous headline showcasing my very bad taste.

But it does look good though, doesn’t it? And by that I don’t mean any old ass, I mean the print edition of Hollywood Ass. as displayed in the picture above. The cover is designed by the excellent designer Etienne Bugeja who also designed The Wake-Up Call.

(By the way, Ass. is an abbreviation of assistant)

Print UK: http://amzn.to/12hWggM

Print US: http://amzn.to/XZcQLC

If you prefer e-books, Hollywood Ass. is actually FREE today.

Links for Hollywood Ass kindle version:

US: http://amzn.to/XZcQLC

UK: http://amzn.to/Z3jMHL

DE: http://amzn.to/XqZzkb

FR: https://www.amazon.fr/dp/B00BMU0GT2

ES: https://www.amazon.es/dp/B00BMU0GT2

IT: https://www.amazon.it/dp/B00BMU0GT2

JP: http://www.amazon.co.jp/dp/B00BMU0GT2

CA: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B00BMU0GT2

BR: https://www.amazon.com.br/dp/B00BMU0GT2

 

 

 

 

 

Kindles – they’re good for you

Ever since I got my first Kindle I fell in love with it. What was most powerful about the whole experience was the e-ink screen which reminded me of my beloved Psion 3 series which I wrote my first short stories on. It’s just feels less intimidating for the eyes than for example an iPad or Samsung Galaxy tablet and I like that it only has one proper use for it – to read books on. This makes you less distracted than with tablets and lets you focus on the reading.

But not everybody believes in e-readers and e-books. Lenah was kind of hard to convince for example, but I think I have convinced her now that we have decided not to have so much clutter in our lives. We both love books, but they to take an awful lot of space and although they look nice in a bookshelf, you rarely read them twice.

And that’s where a Kindle comes in handy. You can store all your books in one space and when you travel, which you should if you’re a sensible person, you don’t need to run around bookstores when you’ve finished a book! Just go to the Kindle store and buy one or read the next one in your collection.

So although you miss the feeling of holding real paper, there are loads of advantages to owning a Kindle.

Since I’m a cheapskate when it comes to buying gadgets (I prefer spending my money on travel and food), I have the cheapest Kindle, which costs only 89 dollars. Although there are more fancy Kindles out there like the Kindle Paperwhite or Kindle Fire, this is more than good enough for me (but I would rather buy a Kindle Fire than an iPad for example). Below you see why it’s so good:

Benefits of owning a Kindle (I ripped this off of Amazon.com)

  • Less than 6 ounces – lighter than a paperback, fits in your pocket
  • 15% faster page turns
  • New darker, hand-tuned fonts for easier reading
  • Reads like paper with no glare, even in bright sunlight
  • Download books in 60 seconds with built-in Wi-Fi
  • Holds over 1,000 books – take your library wherever you go
  • Massive book selection. Lowest prices. Over a million titles less than $9.99
  • 180,000 Kindle-exclusive titles that you won’t find anywhere else, including books by best-selling authors such as Kurt Vonnegut
  • Supports children’s books and includes new parental controls

Does owning a Kindle mean you have to stop reading printed books? No, you should obviously do both. But it’s a great complement to printed books and the ideal travel partner. And if I can get Lenah to want one, I’m sure you can find it useful too.

And remember, you don’t need a Kindle to read Kindle books. You can use whatever gadget you have, your computer, your iPad or your mobile phone. Just download your free Kindle app.

The power of free – tips on Amazon Kindle Select

Trying to “make it” as an indie author as taught me a lot about the power of the word FREE. The reason is that with Amazon Kindle Select you can run promotions where any of your self-published books are free for a set number of days. The idea is for the book to climb the many top lists on Amazon so that it gets maximum exposure. The “only” thing Amazon asks of you is that your book is exclusively published with Amazon for a three-month period.

I’ve tried free days on Amazon Kindle Select quite a few times now with some success and found it to be one of the most powerful marketing tools an indie author can find. When I’ve run it for The Wake-Up Call I’ve had up to 26 000 downloads in two days. This helped the book to climb the top lists and to my amazement it managed to reach #4 in Contemporary Fiction and #1 in Humor. Since the book stays for some hours on the top list even after the promotion is over, this will obviously net quite some sales as well.

That was the most successful Kindle Select Promotion I ever ran. Other times, it’s been decent to completely pointless. The success of your promotion depends on a number of things:

1. The days you choose. Weekends are rarely good, because people tend to do other things than browse for free e-books.

2. That the book has a decent rating. Less than 4 star reviews in average will be less effective.

3. That you do your homework and make sure to advertise the book everywhere you possibly can. There are loads of free book promotion websites out there. I will list some below.

4. That you use all your communication channel in getting out the message. Social media can be very effective and Twitter has done wonders for me in the past.

5. That your book has a good looking cover (people are very visual) and an interesting description.

6. That the first pages of your book (what readers usually sample) really hook the reader.

7. That your book is placed in the right category for it. Categories like Mystery and Thrillers is extremely competitive, but maybe you have a smaller niche that is easier to reach out through? This means it will be easier for you to climb to #1 on the Amazon top lists.

The reason I started writing this post is that I’m now trying two free days (3rd and 4th of April) on Amazon Kindle Select again to see if it can do any wonders for my recently published novel “Hollywood Ass.”

I have done some promotion, but sadly the book is yet to have a review so I’m not sure it will get enough downloads to make a difference. But as an indie author you have to try your best and see what works.

Sites where you can promote your books (to be updated):

Digital Book Today
The Kindle Book Review
World Literary Café
Freebooksy
Author Marketing Club
Bookbub
BookDaily.com
Ereadernewstoday
Booktweetingservice
Free Ebooks Daily
Kindle Nation Daily
Centsiblereads
Kindle Mojo
Kindle Book Promos
Book Goodies
Bookdealhunter
Zwoodlebooks

Some useful twitter hashtags courtesy of Jeff Bennington:

  • #kindle #kindlefire #ebooks #FREE #mustread #goodreads #greatreads #freeebooks #Kindlefreebooks
  • #AmazonPrime #Kindledeals #kindledeals
  • @FreeKindleStuff @FreeReadFeed @free_kindle @Freebookdeal @freebookpromos @freebooksy
  • @KindleBlaze @KindleBookBlast @KindleBookKing @KindleDaily @Kindlbookreview @digitalBKtoday
  • @KindleFireDept @KindleEbooksUK @KindleFreBook @KindleFreeBooks @KindleFreeStuff @KindleKing
  • @KindleSurprise @KindleUS @KindleUK @KindleDE @KindleES @Kindle_Max @kindle_mojo @Kindlefreebies
  • @Kindlestuff