Friday, 6 December 2013

Initial plot outline - System Error: In Your Favour

Original plot ideas

What is the best way to capture the plot outline for a new novel? Do you mind map, use chart outlines, make copious notes about your characters and story, or just wing it?

On this blog posting I just wanted to share with you my initial plot outline for System Error: In Your Favour that I created a few months before starting work on my novel and explore a couple of other ways that it could have been done.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Dotting the Ts and crossing the Is - the importance of good grammar

After trying out a service called Grammarly for the first time on my last blog posting this week I thought I would apply it to the whole text of "Tweet of Faith", a self published fiction novel that I recently published on Smashwords and Amazon.

I wanted to find out just how many errors my own proofreading efforts had missed.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Friday, 15 November 2013

Some random mulling on the question: "How did you get into writing?"

Author's disclaimer: This blog post is kindly sponsored by the lovely people at Grammarly :) 

I use Grammarly for proofreading because lectures in high school on correct punctuation and grammar still give me nightmares! After reviewing this blog the Grammarly online tool told me to "try harder", just like my old English teacher did...

Do we all have a story to tell?

I've recently been mulling why it is that so many people feel compelled to write stories. It's a very old proverb but "everyone has a story to tell" was just ingrained into me when I was growing up, and I never thought why that was until now.

Image courtesy of Jppi - MorgueFile:

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Marketing, Marketing, Marketing

Marketing your book

Ever since I wrote my first book I've been doing a lot of reading about various marketing approaches you can take to develop sales.

Here are few ideas I've tried out and a few future ones I aim to try.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Getting started with Kindle Direct Publisher

Kindle Direct Publisher

Having just gone through my first self publish adventure using Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing programme I just thought I'd jot down a few of my lessons learnt along the way.

Friday, 10 May 2013

Watching your sales in real-time!

Kindle Nation Daily Free Amazon Sales Tracker

I'm continuing to search for really useful tools and techniques for marketing my first book "System error: in your favour".

Today's find could be equally a blessing and a curse, it's a tool that gives you a really nice visual of your sales progress on Amazon's charts from Kindle Nation Daily.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Kindle Refunds

1st Customer refund!

In this blog I thought I'd capture all of the highs and lows of publishing my first novel via Kindle Direct Publishing and Createspace. 

If nothing else, it'll be a useful memory jogger in future of the whole venture. 

I was looking at my Kindle Direct Publisher reports today and spotted that 1 person requested a refund of my book.

I immediately worried that they were unhappy with the book (typical neurotic author response) but after a bit of looking around I quickly found that there could be several other explanations.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

First teaser of audio book

Audio Book under way!

As you'll have seen in my past few posts I recently plunged into the world of self-publishing when I set my first novel "System error: in your favour" up on Amazon.

Publishing to Kindle was the first step, then after a bit of reformatting I joined Createspace to offer my book as a print on demand option.

My most recent foray has been to sign up on ACX, yet another Amazon service that matches authors to narrators to produce Audio books that are then distributed on, ITunes, and Audible.Com.

Before getting started I looked at a few blog postings on ACX and found that nearly all of them were really positive about the service. One blog I found particularly useful was this from Stacey Wallace Benefiel .

Monday, 6 May 2013

Buy new or buy used

The first used copy appears on

Well, 3 weeks after its initial release sales of the book continue to grow steadily. As I've mentioned in previous blogs, my task now is promoting and marketing the book to maintain momentum. So far that's involved a lot of messaging on my social networks and most recently the creation and distribution of a press release about the book.

I also heard the first 15 minutes of the audio book version which is currently in production last night and I'm really excited about working with Eila Ulyett to bring it to life.

You can find more about the voice artist via her site British

On average it seems to be selling about 10 copies a day, nearly all of which are in Kindle format.


So it looks like the future is definitely digital, but I was surprised and delighted to see that in April 20 people did opt for the paperback version of the book.

Today I just logged in to again to check on sales progress and spotted that 1 of the paperback copies has been put up for sale as a used copy!

So, under a month from a new book to a used version. Is that good or bad? Have any other self-published authors out there experienced this?

I must admit my first thought was a little disappointment that the person wasn't going to keep the book forever on his/her bookshelf, but after I got over that I hope the person manages to sell it on as it gives someone else a chance to read it.
First used copy of my book appeared on today

Publishing your first press release

Publishing your press release

After writing and publishing my first novel, my focus has entirely shifted over to learning about the best way to get my book "out there" and hopefully noticed by some folks who would enjoy reading it.

In my last post I described the process I went through to write my first press release announcing my book to the world. If you missed it, you can check it out here: Writing your press release.

Having crafted your first press release the next challenge is sending it out to a multitude of sources like newspapers, review sites, and other media channels. 

Enter the press release sites

A few years ago, I would have imagined that getting your press release circulated would have taken many hours and probably cost a significant amount. However, when I started researching this topic I was amazed to learn that there are many services that will circulate your press release for you for either no cost, or a low to medium cost. 

As a first time author I was of course most interested in the free services and after a bit of surfing I found this comprehensive listing and review of press release services. I highly recommend this post if you are as new to using press release sites as I was.

The Winner

I submitted the same press release wording to nearly all of the free sites listed on the 

It took a few hours to register on each individual site and then upload the press release content to them. I had my press release all nicely formatted in a word document but nearly all of these sites make you paste in the headline, subject, author notes, and body of your press release in separate text boxes so there's a lot of copy and pasting involved in this exercise.

Some of the sites were better/faster than others. Some I found deliberately confusing in their design, like they'd automatically select that you were buying the Gold distribution package etc and try to charge $250 by the end of your submission process. 

You then have to go back a few steps to look for the Free option. 

However, perseverance paid off and after I clicked the final submit button I just had to wait to hear whether they would publish the story or not.

What happened - site by site

Some sites were really quick to respond and I never heard from others again. Some sites rejected the article outright and I was considering totally rewriting it, but after a few days wait PR.Com published it! The next day after that I could successfully find the story on Google News.
    • 1888 Press release - rejected as it was too much like an advert for my book
    • OnlinePRNews - reads like an article rather than a news announcement
    • Pressbox - released the article but I cannot find it on Google or Google News
    • PR.Com - made one minor change to my author name (so that it matched the book) then approved it -
    2 days after release I could find myself in Google News thanks to PR.COM

    Next steps

    Well, the press release has been out there on the internet for nearly a week now. It would have been great to seen an immediate boost in sales but to be honest sales of my paperback and kindle story have remained quite constant. 

    Puzzled by this I did some further reading and I found many blogs that questioned the value of the PR distribution sites. The main argument they put forward is that there isn't a lot of evidence that journalists pick up stories on these sites and publish them, but I'm hopeful that having the story on Google and Google news will still be useful. 

    One top tip I did read was to put the wording of your press release on your own blog, so I dutifully added that on my previous post.

    There is also a lot of discussion about the value of the premium services that the press release sites offer.

    I'd be interested to hear if anyone out there has paid the premium on these sites for greater exposure/coverage/editing support. In your opinion is it worth spending some money on your press release? Has anyone out there seen a tangible lift in sales after submitting a press release?

    Wednesday, 1 May 2013

    Responding to reader comments

    Author reviews

    After publishing my first book it wasn't long until I received my first review on

    That was a really exciting day for me as it meant that not only had someone bothered to buy and read the book, they were sufficiently engaged with it to add a comment to the site - fantastic.

    Before deciding to publish my book I made a conscious decision to respond to all review comments both good and bad.

    I wasn't sure whether to engage with a dialogue with the reviewers though. What if I disagreed with something I put in the book? What if they had taken a different interpretation of the book? What if it was just a harsh review that I took exception to? Would the best response be to argue with their points or just say a polite thank you?

    Danger of not responding to reviews well

    I was keen to see what other approach other authors had come up with and quickly found an amazing example where a reviewer and author ended up publicly arguing resulting in a huge amount of negative publicity for her book.

    With so much choice on I knew that reviews were hugely helpful to possible future readers of the book so in the end I ended up with what I hope is a balanced approach.

    I would answer any queries posted in a review but never criticise or publicly disagree with the reviewer. (Of course, coming up with this theory is a lot easier than sticking to it).

    My standard response template

    So, in the end I came up with the following short and sweet reply text.

    Hi [Insert Person's Name], many thanks for taking the time to download, read, and review my book - really appreciated. I'm working on an early draft of my next book which I hope you'll have the chance to read and enjoy too.
    Best regards, [Your Name]


    Reviews are an excellent way to connect with readers. However they are a direct evaluation of your work by someone you've often never met and therefore they provoke a very strong reaction whether the review is good or bad.

    Like all authors, good reviews are a huge boost, and negative ones take some additional processing time. The mantra that keeps me going is to focus on these facts:

    • someone read your book
    • someone cared enough about it to give feedback
    • you have a chance to either take that feedback on board or file it away and move on

    Goodreads Author Profile

    Writing your first author press release

    Wow, today was a big day as I sent out my first press release on my debut novel (very exciting).

    I had no idea what the structure/format of such a document was but after a bit of searching I found some great examples and templates.

    Template websites

    These websites were hugely helpful in pulling the release together - many thanks!

    Now, I just need to find some channels to send it to (another post on that to come shortly).

    However, in the meantime - here's the finished article - lets see if it has an impact on Sales..

    The Press Release

    Date: 01/05/2012
    Contact: Iain Clements

    Bank computer virus causes global credit Crunch – exciting premise of Iain Clements’ debut novel, “System Error: In Your Favour”.

    Bangkok, Thailand, May 1st 2013.

    Could a bank computer virus have caused the recent global financial credit crunch? That is the novel and exciting premise of Iain Clements’ Debut Novel, “System Error: In Your Favour” which was recently released on

    “I wanted to offer a different perspective on the credit crunch” says Clements about his book. “Every day I would watch the news and see different explanations being offered about what had caused the global credit crisis. A bank computer going crazy didn’t seem that far-fetched an idea so I started to develop it into this novel”.

    With so many people affected by the financial crisis, the plot of the novel seems to have struck a chord with many readers. Sales of the book in both e-book and paperback formats have steadily climbed since publication.  “As soon as I started reading I had to find out how it would end” stated one Amazon purchaser, and “the story is well told, especially the bits where we hear from the computer” added another.

    The novel is set at the peak of the credit crisis a few years ago. In London's Canary Wharf district computer specialist Kate Meer understands all too well the cause of the chaos. A new artificially intelligent computer system called C.A.R.L that she designed is out of her control. As events in the world continue to spin out of control and the global financial markets embark on a roller-coaster ride, Kate has to join forces with James Gold, a notorious hacker, to try and regain control of their renegade system before it’s too late.

    System error: in your favour is available on now as both a paperback and e-book version.

    An audio book version of the story is also scheduled for release in May 2013.

    Author profile for Iain Clements available on Goodreads.

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