Thursday, 21 June 2018

Recent Release: Say You Will by Alexis Woods

Title: Say You Will
Author: Alexis Woods
Genre: LGBT, Romance and Relationships, Pure Romance - M/M, Adult
Published: 4th June, 2018
ISBN: 978-1-78645-226-9
Length: 12,500 words approx.

Three years ago, Darren Goldman had no idea the man he met on his first day of work in a new town would become the man he'd been waiting for his whole life. With Ace's birthday approaching, Dare sets out to do the impossible: surprise his boyfriend with a party and a proposal. 

"Can't be done," they said. "Never work." "Don't bother." "Are you sure you want to do this?" 

He'd prove them wrong. He was sure of it, until he wasn't.

* * * * *
Editor's Review
I'm a huge fan of series. I love getting totally immersed into a new world like ours but maybe once removed - an alternate form of ours, perhaps, where the characters are people as real as you and me.

It goes without saying that, as an editor, working on the subsequent instalments in a series isn't work at all when I'm as desperate as other readers to find out what's been going on while we've been away.

And so, Say You Will arrived in my inbox. Well, it didn't. Alexis and I collaborate via GoogleDocs, which is a lot of fun, especially as the version I receive from Alexis is very clean - grammar/punctuation-wise; this story, like the previous stories in the series, has on-page sexy times.

Those who've read Southern Jersey Shores from the beginning will know that each story focuses on a specific couple but always with the same cast of characters in the background. It began, in Opening Day, with Aaron and Darren (or Ace and Dare), and it is these guys we revisit in Say You Will.

Dare's a man with a plan, and a secret, and a lot of stress of his own making. I loved the glimpses of the Dare we first met - his uncertainty and vulnerability - because in general he's much more dominant (in and out of the bedroom).

While he's doing what he's doing, we get something of a virtual tour of the setting, and I have to say, the description is just beautiful - enchanting and vivid.

The ultimate treat for me, however, is the Easter Eggs for those of us who've been lucky enough to read ALL of Alexis Woods' stories. If you haven't, you should!

And the cover! This is my favourite cover in the series - my favourite cover this year!

Say You Will reads as a final instalment, and we're discussing a 'box set' of the six stories in the far? I feel like I've had a very satisfying fill of Southern Jersey Shores happy-ever-after, but I certainly won't complain if this isn't the end.

Say You Will is a contemporary M/M romance by Alexis Woods, book six in the Southern Jersey Shores series, released June 4th, 2018.

* * * * *
About the Author:
Always an avid reader and colorful dreamer, it was only a matter of time before taking pen to paper, oftentimes literally. I sing under my breath, tap my toes and swing my hips, much to the delight of my coworkers and friends. I’m a firm believer in every song tells a story and every story has a song, so each story I write has a song or theme, oftentimes both, behind it. I freely admit that becoming a romance author is the best mid-life crisis a girl could ever have.

Thursday, 7 June 2018

Recent Release: Returning to the Land of the Morning Calm by Hans M Hirschi

Author: Hans M Hirschi
Language: English
Published: 21st May, 2018
Publisher: Beaten Track
ISBN: Paperback: 978-1-78645-203-0
eBook: 978-1-78645-204-7
Category: Non-Fiction
Genre: LGBT, History, Romance and Relationships, Contemporary Fiction, Family and Friendship

Martin is eighty-four years old, a Korean War veteran, living quietly in a retirement home in upstate New York. His days are ruled by the routine of the staff, but in his thoughts and dreams, Martin often returns to the Seoul of his youth, and the lost true love of his life. Two close friends urge him to travel back to search for his love. What awaits Martin in Korea, more than six decades after he left the country on a troop transport back to the U.S.?

Returning to the Land of the Morning Calm is a story of friendship, love and family, in all its many shapes, across time, generations and cultures.

Editor's Review:
I recall reading somewhere (in Hans's newsletter, I think) that Returning to the Land of the Morning Calm originally started life as a short story about Martin - the octogenarian main character - and I can see why that simply wouldn't have been enough to do justice to this character's journey, nor to take us on that journey with him, from the USA to South Korea, twice in a lifetime.

It's the closest I'm getting to visiting Seoul, and that's OK. As is always true with this author's stories, I learn so much about cultures I've never (nor, likely, will ever) come into contact with. From the round-the-world tour in The Fallen Angels of Karnataka, to a trip to the northernmost reaches of Sweden in Last Winter's Snow, Hans takes us to incredible places, and is thankfully endowed with the talent to depict those locations, the people, the food, the smells, the literary form.

So there's the location and cultural elements, a rich context that is both backdrop and foreground to Martin's 'love story' - his love of Korea, its cities, people and food - and his love of Ji-Hoon, told through retrospective chapters interspersed with Martin's present-day situation as what my (82-year-old) mother-in-law calls 'an elderly' in a retirement home. While Martin seems happy to spend the rest of his days looking at the same four walls, his new friends have other ideas. Not content with sharing Martin's experiences vicariously, they somehow persuade him to take the trip back to Seoul, which is astounding, now I think about it, because Martin's set in his ways and doesn't shy away from telling people (nurses included) what he does and does not want to do...which leads me to conclude that perhaps he'd spent a fair bit of the sixty years since he left Seoul wishing he could go back.

Yes, I'm still thinking about the story now, three weeks after it was released and at least a month since I read it (I love that part of my job - reading the final story before it flaps its wings and takes flight for the first time). This is a novel that will appeal to many different readers - those who enjoy travel, those who appreciate a love story, those who appreciate well-researched settings - in other words, a story pretty much everyone will enjoy.

Returning to the Land of the Morning Calm is a novel by Hans M Hirschi, available in paperback and ebook formats.

Purchase Links:

About the Author:
Photo: John O’Leary
Hans M Hirschi has been writing stories since childhood. As an adult, the demands of corporate life put an end to his fiction for more than twenty years. A global executive in training, he has traveled the world and published several non-fiction titles as well as four well-received novels. The birth of his son provided him with the opportunity to rekindle his love of creative writing, where he expresses his deep passion for a better world through love and tolerance. Hans lives with his husband and son on a small island off the west coast of Sweden.


Monday, 30 April 2018

New Releases: Black Book and Tales from the Adanac House by Ian D. Hall

Author: Ian D. Hall
Language: English
Published: 30th April, 2018
4,600 words (Black Book);
17,200 words (Tales from the Adanac House)
Black Book:
Paperback: 978-1-78645-215-3; eBook: 978-1-78645-216-0; ASIN: B07CLFHLNM
Tales from the Adanac House:
Paperback: 978-1-78645-213-9; eBook: 978-1-78645-214-6; ASIN: B07CMDRFZ8
Genre: Poetry, Literary

Black Book:
An anthology of work collected from the writing and performances of poetry by Ian D. Hall.

Liverpool has always nurtured distinctive voices in its poetry, music, and art. In this collection, Ian Hall - poet, performer, reviewer of film, theatre, and music, founder of 'Liverpool Sound and Vision', graduate of English, and all-round local legend - sounds his voice with distinction, joining it to the city's resounding chorus of talents. Black Book moves us from the Armitage-like wit of 'One Day in Crewe' to the dark protest of 'Who's to Blame'; from Crosby beach in 'The Seagull versus the Iron Men' to the American, Bourbon-scented whirl of 'Kerouac Dreams'. The versatility and range of these poems will take you and shake you, shifting from sonnet to free verse and back again, and from the poet's profound love for a Morris Minor to the deep myths of Eve and the Devil, Echo and Narcissus.

To borrow a telling line, each poem is a 'sculpture of passionate sentiment : delicate yet enduring, often poignant yet also ruggedly tough.'

Read on. Enjoy.
May the music of this poetry fill you, every note.

Dr Michael Davies, University of Liverpool

Ian puts all the write words in the right places to produce profound poems.
John Gorman

Words build emotional bridges and skyscrapers. Poet Ian D. Hall uses the tools of his trade to convey past and future experiences. He has a solid foundation of work to build upon. A distinctive, sensitive voice using light, shade and colour to maximum effect.
Peter Grant

Tales from the Adanac House:
An anthology of poetry and prose by Ian D. Hall.

A dream world, a land of mischief,
of stories too numerous to entreat completely upon anyone.

A place where an armchair becomes a throne and where a man becomes a King, staring out over the past,
telling his young page
the secrets he is too inherit,
a young boy who found Adanac intoxicating
and every once supposed every tall tale to be true.

Tales from The Adanac House is a mixture of light and dark, an assortment of pictures that paint very personal and emotive journeys of a person who has experienced much, and has needed to throw the words out on page as only an artist can do.

Poetry should leave you feeling a little exhausted, as if you have been on a journey and Ian D. Hall does exactly that.
Janey Phillips

* * * * *

Editor's Review:
Being a fan of the Beat poets, it was a real joy for me to read (and get the chance to publish the second editions of) Ian D. Hall's collections of poetry and prose. Ian's love for the Beat writers is there subtly throughout, but these collections wouldn't be complete without an ode to Kerouac himself:

Kerouac Dreams
I found peace in Ginsberg County without the aid of new patois and peyote to bring forth
Dreams. No hard beer or soft women from the broken Morrison’s Hotel to keep words flowing,
All I was left with was the terms of a contract not yet signed. Kerouac yawned and smiled
With his teeth showing, baring at me across the table, daring me to join in some inspired anarchic
Game, a ritual, a joyful disease that saw leaflets dropped and new words learned.…

But by far, my favourite is one of the poems in Black Book, entitled 'The Imaginary Friend' which begins:
It was only at the end
that I realised that I was my imaginary friend’s
imaginary friend.…

Black Book and Tales from the Adanac House are both excellent collections of beautifully written open verse  (with some longer prose in the latter). Published today and available from Beaten Track Publishing and all the usual online retailers.

* * * * *

Purchase Links:

* * * * *

About Ian D. Hall:
Having been found on a 'Co-op' shelf in Stirchley, Birmingham by a Cornish woman and a man of dubious footballing taste, Ian grew up in neighbouring Selly Park and Bicester in Oxfordshire. After travelling far and wide, he now considers Liverpool to be his home.

Ian was educated at Moor Green School, Bicester Senior School, and the University of Liverpool, where he gained a 2:1 (BA Hons) in English Literature.

He now reviews and publishes daily on the music, theatre and culture within Merseyside.

Friday, 30 March 2018

New Release: Oskar Blows a Gasket by Claire Davis and Al Stewart

Author: Claire Davis and Al Stewart
Language: English
Published: 30th March, 2018
Length: 89,700 words (approx).
ISBN: eBook: 978-1-78645-202-3
Category: Fiction
Genre: LGBT, Humour, Romance and Relationships, New Adult, Pure Romance - M/M

Oskar Braithwaite is bold, brash and gorgeous. Just ask him.

Armed with designer backpack full of make-up and retro music galore, Oskar sets off for college. And, with attitude even spikier than his heels, nothing is going to hold him back. Except maybe one thing...his past is shouting louder than the 80s songs he adores and it won't be ignored. Behind the effervescence are secrets, lies and sadness. Try as he might, not even Oskar can hide forever, and one day it isn't only pop icon Simon Le Bon who's going to catch up.

Who is writing letters? And why is a spy secretly following?

Enter Bear, with dancing eyes and secrets of his own. Bear's kindness sparkles brighter than Lycra leggings, and everyone knows Oskar loves shiny things. Like every prophecy, their fates seem inevitably linked. As the walls of Oskar's defence crumble, Bear shows his hidden strength, but will it be enough to save them?

Find out in this far-out, zany tale of fame, first love and retro DJs. 

* * * * *

Editor's Review:
Who wouldn't want Simon Le Bon for a dad? Sharp suits, good looks, charm, sophistication, fame, success. He's bloody perfect, isn't he? Or if not Simon Le Bon, maybe Tony Hadley? So suave, so handsome...mmm...

So plastic.

Don't get me wrong. I fell for their charms too, back in the day. Well, not Simon Le Bon so much. I could see right through to his middle-class white boy pomp. But Tony Hadley? He's an Eastend working-class lad, and he was the one for me. I even figured out the age difference between us and whether it was too great for us to get married...until that fateful night, watching Top of the Pops, when I noticed the wedding band on Tony's hand. I was gutted.

But my teenaged broken heart is very much beside the point. 1980s British music was ideological hogwash. First up, we had Punk - The Sex Pistols, The Clash, etc. - with its anti-establishment angry rants. Middle-class kids masquerading as working-class heroes, pushing a liberal agenda, and I don't mean the 'good' kind of liberal that's all about securing rights and freedoms. I'm talking neoliberal - the right wing's rise to fame.

Thatcher's Britain.

F*cking grim.

Oh, it was all right for those in the southern English suburbs with their careers in big finance, lovely wives in Laura Ashley frocks and neat little sprogs in public (paid-for) education. But for those living in the big towns and cities in the north - Sheffield, Leeds, Hull, Newcastle, Birmingham, Stoke, Manchester, Liverpool - all those places once at the heart of British industry, it looked nothing like...

Well, nothing like Simon Le Bon.

To cut a long [political hi]story short, post-WWII Britain was generally in favour of state welfare to reduce inequality, up until the late 1970s, when British industry began to fail, unemployment was on the rise and the cost of welfare was considered too great, which was how Margaret Thatcher got a foothold and buggered us (the working class) up good and proper.

(Spandau Ballet - 'To Cut A Long Story Short'
with the delectable Tony Hadley - also the title of his autobiography)
* * *

Thatcher's government sold us a dream - work hard, earn your success - called 'meritocracy'. A lie that obscured the reality: 'the successful' were those born into privilege. Social mobility was a myth, but we still bought into it. What else could we do? There were exceptions, of course. Some of the UK's most successful businesspeople dragged themselves up through the class system. But for most of us, we just work and work and work and never get anywhere.

British pop music in the 1980s (post-punk) reflected Thatcher's meritocratic bullshit. Duran Duran, ABC, Ultravox, Spandau Ballet - all those New Romantic greats - wore the clothes and portrayed the illusion of socioeconomic success even though most were working-class boys who just brushed up well. (With the exception of Simon, as mentioned - he's from Pinner, Middlesex - Greater London. Posh.)

(Duran Duran - 'Rio' features the chaps on a massive yacht. How frightfully nice.)
* * *

I spent quite some time watching music videos, erm, I mean researching to find a working-class band/artist from the 1980s that didn't sell out for mainstream success. I came up with one: The Human League, who are from Sheffield in Yorkshire, and in their videos look like the working class dolled up for a night on the town.

(The Human League - 'Mirror Man' - clever video. Phil, Joanne and Susan on the pull.)
* * *

You may wonder where I'm going with all this, and how it's even slightly relevant to an editor's review of Oskar Blows a Gasket - the 'quirky British' new adult gay romance from Claire Davis and Al Stewart.

You may already have figured it out. If so, good on you. Thank you for appreciating the intelligent social commentary that is at the heart of every story Claire and Al write.

Because here's a thing you might not realise.

For us working-class 'Brits', being described as 'quirky' is little bit erasing. Most people in the UK are working class, many of whom live in council estates like Brinsted Gardens, with the reality of drug addiction and poverty, and only ever dream of escape to university or some other grand place, always one step away from tragedy and death (like at Grenfell Tower). Many kids who get free school meals (or used to, but that's another story) go back to school after the holidays with malnutrition. Even those a bit further up the social ladder live hand-to-mouth, live to work, and die younger than their middle- and upper-class counterparts.

What the world sees of British life is the sanitised version: red pillar boxes and phone boxes, men in suits, majestic London, rolling green fields, glorious manor houses, aerial shots of hills and coastlines... To outsiders, we're either urban or rural, and we're all well-to-do and talk like the queen or Dick Van Dyke.

Subway under Stanley Way, Skelmersdale, West Lancashire, North-West England.
© Gary Rogers (Creative Commons)
* * *

It's the same in British fiction - mainstream and literary. It's mostly written by middle-class white people (men), and they either portray their Britain, or the international edition (red pillar boxes...etc.).

I've even seen many a British author of gay romance tone down the Britishness, and I'd bet a part of that is fear of being called 'quirky' or 'quaint'.

So, when you read Oskar Blows a Gasket, and I know you will, by all means enjoy the delightfully quirky romance that blossoms between Oskar Braithwaite (good Yorkshire name, is that) and Bear. Revel in their first kisses; tear your hair out at Oskar's dramatics; shed a tear for these young men and all they've endured. But also embrace the opportunity to tuck in to some real British working-class culture, perhaps with a nice cuppa and a custard cream, or even a plate of egg and chips.

(Duran Duran - 'Hungry Like The Wolf')

Oskar Blows a Gasket is a new adult gay romance by Claire Davis and Al Stewart and is available from Beaten Track Publishing and all the usual places.

* * * * *

Purchase Links:
Beaten Track

* * * * *

About the Author:
Al Stewart and Claire Davis write about people who are not perfect. Claire embraces the dark side, and Al the good side of the force. Their work is there for a fusion of both, mixed often with kink and humour.


Saturday, 17 March 2018

New Release: Silent Terrorism: Saudi Arabia by Phetra H. Novak

Author: Phetra H. Novak
Language: English
Published: 17th March, 2018
Length: 78,000 words (approx).
ISBN: Paperback: 978-1-78645-184-2
eBook: 978-1-78645-185-9
ASIN: B07B298C5F
Category: Fiction
Genre: LGBT, Romance and Relationships, Political, Contemporary Fiction, Thriller.

Early morning, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia: Swedish correspondent cameraman Ebbe Skoog is out getting shots for an upcoming story and stumbles upon something he isn't supposed to see. On a building site, on the outskirts of the city, four men looking a lot like the Mabahith - the secret police - are sending a bound man to a certain death by stoning.

With camera still rolling, Ebbe begins to retreat when a second man enters the scene and throws himself on top of the dying man, shielding him with his body, soothing with loving words. Ebbe's reaction is immediate. Clutching his camera, he drags the screaming lover out of the rain of stones and in a storm of sand, they flee into the brutal uncertainty of the desert.

Correspondent reporter Mattis Andersson is the wild card, the rebel. He's also Ebbe's only hope of getting out alive with his new companion, Aasim El-Batal, and the memory card holding the footage that will make Saudia Arabia burn in the eyes of human rights activists the world over.

With their past as lovers, and their present as colleagues and best friends who would take a bullet for each other, it now falls on Mattis to protect his and Ebbe's future. But the Swedish government wants to silence them, unwilling to jeopardize years of lucrative weapons deals for "some petty gay love affair." It's an impossible mission that will draw on every strength the two men possess.


Editor's Review:
I love my job. Like any job, there are times when it can be a bit of a battle of endurance. Looming deadlines, sticking to schedules and having to work when I'm sick because there's no-one to pick up the slack can take their toll. But since I started Beaten Track Publishing, I wake up looking forward to what every single day has in store.

In a way, it's like having a library of my favourite books at my fingertips with a permanent excuse of 'I need to read this...for work'. I publish the books I want to read/would have wanted to read when I was younger, and refusing to bend to the sway of the market gives Beaten Track immense freedom. It's risky; there are books in our catalogue which sell very few copies and don't financially compensate for the time taken to get them 'out there'. But all of our books are important in some way or other.

Many have tremendous cultural/social/political importance. They're not always the books I would choose to read for pleasure because, being a bit of an escapist wimp and all. In my personal reading, I generally steer clear of horror and thrillers, largely because they tend to be driven more by plot than character, and I'm a natural psychologist. There is nothing I love more than everyday explorations of the human psyche.

It takes a very skilled author to write a story that is strong on both plot and character development. Silent Terrorism is the latest of Phetra H. Novak's novels and showcases her incredible ability in this regard. It's a tough read, dealing with the uglier aspects of human existence, specifically: how the political elite turn a blind eye against atrocities committed by other members of the elite if it's in their interests to do so.

Silent Terrorism is the story of a few brave men fighting for justice, fighting for their lives, and through the events that unfold, we follow their distinct yet intertwined journeys towards the same goal. There are very few female characters, but as most of the novel takes place in Saudi Arabia, this is to be expected. The women we do meet hold powerful positions in Western society, and their portrayal is too complex (and would spoil too much of the plot) to explore in this review. All of the characters are flawed, some more so than others, in some cases irredeemibly.

At the heart of it all, is Ebbe Skoog, our 'hero' in the truest sense of the word, whose every action is underpinned by an extraordinary (and dangerous) belief in justice. I can't say I enjoyed his journey, but I admired his strength and determination, and I never once stopped rooting for him. As for his partner Mattis...well, he certainly doesn't have Ebbe's quiet fortitude, but I appreciated his brash, say-it-like-it-is approach. It's vital to the rescue mission, as well as delivering brief moments of humorous respite, like flares of colour and hope in the desolate desert landscape of this novel.

Politically, Silent Terrorism tackles the complexities of international relations between cultures that share little common ground, even outside of the big human rights debates. Yet there is no dichotomy of West vs East, Good vs Evil. Instead, we encounter a detailed exploration of these issues through the events that unfold and the responses of the agencies involved in trying to get Ebbe and Aasim out of Saudi Arabia.

All in all, this is not a 'nice' read, but it's a damned good one - thought-provoking, emotional, devastating in places, but trust the author. Phetra ensures us safe passage to the other side.

50% of the proceeds of this book goes to Colin Stewart and Erasing 76 Crimes.

Silent Terrorism is a political thriller by Phetra H. Novak, and is available in paperback and ebook formats from Beaten Track Publishing and all the usual places.


Purchase Links:
Beaten Track Store:

Other Vendors:


About the Author:
Phetra often refers to herself as the odd man out, the dorky book nerd. She'd rather spend time with a good book or making up fantastic stories with even more fantastic characters, than live in the real world, dealing with real people.

The real world is strange, in a very non-humorous way, and people in it complicate it to the point of wearing you out. In the written word world, whether it's someone else's words or her own, things might get busy, complicated, and even downright painful, but somewhere along the line, a hero's always on the horizon. He's probably not a prim and proper, church-going pretty-boy since the author prefers rebellious men and women who don't follow the protocols of society.

One of her favorite sayings is that 'Only dead fish follow the stream,' and well she ain't no dead fish.

Phetra lives with her family - two children, a domestic partner, and their two cats in Gothenburg, Sweden. When reading her books, you'll notice she always finds a way to bring her own culture into her stories.

The joy of reading and writing comes from her childhood and is something she has always loved, and been passionate to share with others. Phetra loves hearing from her readers, even with ideas of what they'd like to come next.

If you are looking for her, the best place to start looking is at home in the quietest corner of the house, where she'll be curled up with either her Kindle, reading or with her laptop typing away.


Thursday, 1 March 2018

New Release: Closer by F.E. Feeley Jr.

Author: F.E. Feeley Jr.
Language: English
Published: 1st March, 2018
Length: 117,000 words (approx).
ISBN: Paperback: 978-1-78645-186-6
eBook: 978-1-78645-187-3
Category: Fiction
Genre: LGBT, Horror, Supernatural

Maplewood, Vermont is a picturesque town filled with unique shops, unique homes, and a quaint familiarity all centered around a lake with an unusual history.

Legends, old as well as Urban, float around like the mist that hovers above the lake at break of dawn.

But they're just stories, right?

Hayden Moore's life was destroyed when his husband, Malcolm, was murdered. Giving up his job as an assistant district attorney in Boston, Hayden moved to the little burg of Maplewood to recover.

A new life.

A fresh start.

However, something underneath the water is stirring. Something rotten. A deadly secret wakes underneath the black waters of Lake Veronica so disturbing it haunts the nightmares of the local residents.

It's coming closer...


Editor's Review:
March 1st, 2018 sees the release of Closer - a spectacular supernatural thriller from F.E. Feeley Jr. - not his first novel by a long shot, but the first of (hopefully) many published with Beaten Track.

The setting of the story is Maplewood, a town in Vermont - rural, picturesque, with woods, a lake and lots of touristy things to do. It's a vacation spot, and seemingly the perfect place for Hayden (our sort-of protagonist) to relocate after his husband's murder.

I say 'sort-of' protagonist because there is a small band of characters at the heart of this story, but Hayden gets a little more on-page time for reasons that become apparent as events unfold.

There's also some romance in store - what the author calls 'romance with a small r', and I agree with that. The relationships that bud are not limited to romance; friendships feature strongly, as does family, and some of the secondary characters are a real delight (Mr. and Mrs. Hatch, for instance).

The richly described setting and often flawed characters create a stunning backdrop to the supernatural element, and we, the readers, are treated to insights that the characters do not yet have. Indeed, the novel begins with the retelling of the events from the distant past, some of which are known to the people of Maplewood.

This is the beauty of the omniscient narrator; they  share details with the reader, drawing us into the inner circle. It works especially well in thrillers, putting us in a state of suspense, waiting for the 'jump scare', while the character remains blissfully unaware. I must confess, I found myself muttering 'Don't do it! Don't go in there!' a good few times while editing.

That said, it would be a pretty naff story if we knew everything from the beginning, so readers can expect a few twists and turns on the journey - a happy ending for many in relationship terms, a solid conclusion to the main arc, and an intriguing hook for the next novel.

Closer by F.E. Feeley Jr. is available in paperback and ebook formats from Beaten Track Publishing and all the usual places.


Purchase Links:
Beaten Track Store:

Other Vendors:


About the Author:
F.E. Feeley Jr is a poet and the author of six published works - four full length novels, two short stories featured in anthologies, and a good deal of poetry.

Married to the love of his life, John, he came to the writing world about four years ago where he fell in love, again, with the written word.


Thursday, 28 December 2017

Indie publishing, marketing and aftercare

Before I go any further...I'm NOT an expert in marketing. In fact, like most authors, I kind of hate marketing, but I've now spent five and a half years working with other authors to get their books 'out there' as well as publishing my own books, and I have a few observations I think are worth sharing.

Note: these are my observations and reflections, not facts. Mainly, I'm going to talk about aftercare for your book: what happens after it's released.

What works?
Isn't that the million-dollar question? Who knows? There are quite a few strategies that might work, but there's also a certain amount of serendipity involved. Hitting the market with the right release at the right time...having an eye-catching cover (good or bad) and a great blurb...catching the interest of a chatty readership who will spread the away the first book in a series, video trailers...paying a PR company...

It all works - sometimes. It might work once and never again, and once might actually be enough to gain traction. But it might not work at all.

The bottom line is, I don't know what will work for you. There are hundreds of blog posts (and courses, and experts who'll charge you money for their knowledge) out there with suggestions for authors on how to get their books selling. My suggestion: try anything. Try everything you can afford. Even if you only try it once and decide it's not worth the bother or you hate it so much you'd rather give up writing than do it again, if you want to sell books, you lose nothing by giving it a go.

What I can tell you is what doesn't work, and this is a repeating pattern I've seen in the way authors go about their work. However, I'll frame it as what you should do.

The marketing happens before and after release
It's not entirely our fault that we neglect the aftercare of our books. The ebook market has borrowed from the music industry, where everything is a build-up to release day and trying to get the single into a high chart position. And, like the music industry, if our book doesn't chart highly (on Amazon), we assume we've missed our chance.

We need to remember that's only our book's first chance. So, yes, do the pre-release blitz - cover reveals, excerpts, blog tours, giveaways, spamming social networks (meaningfully - add some variety to your posts), but remember it's only step one.

Be a market trader
Then, on release day, switch to the market trader model. You've got a product to sell, right there in your (virtual) hand, and irrespective of how many people caught your exhausting pre-release marketing, there are still millions of potential readers who know nothing about you or your book.

Interact online and offline
Social networks move very quickly, and algorithms work against us. If you're tech savvy, you can probably work around these to a certain extent. If you're rich, you can buy space and prominence. But you don't need money to plug your book. You do need some time, though, and perseverance.

Share excerpts. Interview characters on your blog or podcast. Don't have those? Set them up! Talk about your book until people flee when they see you coming. Go into bookshops, talk to your local paper, radio station - anything you do is better than doing what we authors usually do, which is dropping that book like a hot spud on release day and moving on to the next one.

Love your readers
Interact with readers - positively, professionally. Reply to emails from fans. Have a friendly online persona.

(But don't engage with those who leave reviews you don't like, or bad-mouth them in 'public'.)

One of the most successful ways to sell is by word of mouth. Fans are friends, and food.

In summary:
Giving your book good aftercare and a varied diet, in my experience, increases sales.

But what if...?
However, if your book still isn't selling, you've got a few choices ahead of you.

Keep plugging away
I can't say how long is a decent time to do this before it's 'flogging a dead horse', but it can be measured in months, minimum. While social networks move at lightning speed, the users of said networks don't, and there are also other factors involved in how people use them.

Know your readership and where to find them
I check Twitter perhaps four days out of seven, LinkedIn once a month, Instagram hardly ever and I've never even logged in to WhatsApp. I do visit Facebook and Goodreads frequently, though. Meanwhile, my daughter never visits Goodreads, Twitter or LinkedIn, but she's constantly on Instagram, Snapchat and WhatsApp. My mum uses Facebook and nothing else. My husband is neurologically wired to Facebook (or so it seems) and watches a lot of YouTube videos.

I'm not suggesting my family reflects the typical use of the various networks by different ages and genders, but there are differences, and these are worth considering while you're plugging away. Who is your target readership? Which networks do they use and when? It's worth doing a bit of research so you can more accurately target your marketing.

(Don't) Give up
There are some authors who do give up after book one (or even further down the line), and it's not a wrong decision if it's right for you. I don't write for money, so failing to sell will never lead me to giving up, but some authors do only write in the hope of making money out of it.

To be absolutely brutal about this, the publishing market is so saturated, the chance of making even a living out of writing is slim at best. I'm not saying it's impossible, but the odds are, you won't, and even if you do hit a 'bestseller' with one release, you're still playing the market for each subsequent release.

Start over with each new book
If your book does chart well on release day, great. But don't sit back and expect it to continue. You need to keep those sales coming in, and not just for this book.

As you write more and add to your catalogue, you'll become a juggler, trying to keep all of the balls in the air. Each new book requires the same attention - before and after release - but take care not to drop the book before it.

This is where back matter...matters. Make sure your readers can find your other work via links at the end of your book. Keep your list of publications current on your website/blog. It needs to be really easy for readers to find you and your books, because you are one of millions of stars in the sky. You need to be the brightest.

Move on
Work on your next book, satisfied you have, at the very least, a back catalogue of one darned good book, because you're going to do this all over again, and again.

Final thoughts...
I'm not a bestseller. I have been a bestseller, and I'm still selling books because of that one book that happened to catch the market at the right time. It can be disheartening, both looking at my own sales and seeing other authors question if it's worth continuing. That's a decision each of us has to weigh up for ourselves. Part of that process involves being honest about whether we really gave it our best shot.

About the author
Debbie McGowan is an award-winning author of contemporary fiction that celebrates life, love and relationships in all their diversity. Since the publication in 2004 of her debut novel, Champagne - based on a stage show co-written and co-produced with her husband - she has published a further forty-plus works (novels, short stories and novellas). She is the author of two ongoing series: Hiding Behind The Couch (a literary 'soap opera' centring on the lives of nine long-term friends) and Checking Him Out (LGBTQ romance). Debbie has been a finalist in both the Rainbow Awards and the Bisexual Book Awards, and in 2016, she won the Lambda Literary Award (Lammy) for her novel, When Skies Have Fallen: a British historical romance spanning twenty-three years, from the end of WWII to the decriminalisation of homosexuality in 1967. Through her independent publishing company, Debbie gives voice to other authors whose work would be deemed unprofitable by mainstream publishing houses.