Saturday, August 29, 2015

The Basement - A True Bestseller

Amazon recently announced that a book of mine - The Basement - was one of the Top 10 all-time independently published eBooks of all time.  You can read about it by clicking HERE

Wow!  I mean, wow!

How cool is that?

Here's the list -



What makes my entry so amazing is that The Basement was only self-published for a couple of years. After that Amazon took it over. They now publish it under their Amazon Encore imprint. I sold close to a quarter of a million copies and Amazon have gone on to sell many more. It is one of very books that have been Number 1 in the Kindle list in the UK and the US.

Friday, August 7, 2015

The Self-Styled Self-Publishing Experts Who Know Nothing

Michael Kozlowski is a liar and a plagiarist. He claims to be a journalist, but to me a journalist is a professional who gathers facts and then assembles a readable article. From what I've seen of Michael Kozlowski's work, he seems to think it's journalism when you take another reporter's work and repost it. That's not journalism. That's theft. And what makes it worse is that Michael Kozlowski doesn't even check the material he steals, which means he publishes lies and rumour.

You can read his blog HERE - but I wouldn't bother. It's rubbish. And pretty much all the material is lifted from elsewhere.

This is how Michael Kozlowski describes himself on his Twitter account -




He says he's editor-in-chief but I get the impression he's a one-man band. He describes himself as a 'young hero' but he's not that young and he's no hero.

Professional journalists, when confronted with their mistakes, apologise and print a correction. Not Michael Kozlowski. I know this from experience because he published lies about me. He didn't apologise when I pointed out his errors, he just rewrote the article so that it contained even more lies. And he justified his lies by showing me the articles he'd stolen his copy from. I pointed out that those articles were inaccurate, but he didn't care.

This is one of the passages he wrote which is an absolute lie -

I have never, ever, paid for reviews. I've never had to, I always get plenty of reviews. That is an absolute lie. Nor have I ever posted false reviews. I review under my own names and I do not review my own books. Why Michael Kozlowski published those lies, I have no idea. But it calls into question anything else the man writes. He can not be trusted.





Michael Kozlowski makes a lot of claims about being a publishing expert. He isn't. It's  clear from what he writes about self-publishing that he has no understanding of the process.

I'll go into more detail when I've got the time. At the moment all I want to say is that Michael Kozlowski is a liar and a plagiarist. As a result, you can't believe anything he writes. Not a word. He is one of a growing number of so-called 'publishing experts' you find on the internet these days. The common thread seems to be that they have no professional journalism experience and steal copy from each other with abandon.

It turns out that one of the 'journalists' that Kozlowski stole from was self-styled publishing guru Suw Charman-Anderson, who I have discussed before.If he had made any attempt to check the 'facts' he lifted from Suw Charman-Anderson he would have realised that they were inaccurate. But he didn't. He just stole from her without checking.  Suw Charman-Anderson is unreliable and the last person anyone should be copying.  She claims to be a social technologist, journalist and writer, yet she refuses to deal with Amazon. 



It's crazy advice, frankly, from someone who clearly doesn't "get" self-publishing.



In fact Suw Charman-Anderson recently announced she was giving up self-publishing. You can read about that HERE

It's hardly surprising that her foray into self-publishing was so unsuccessful - ignoring Amazon makes no sense at all. And anyone who suggests that is really not giving sensible advice to aspiring writers. (I also think that a real journalist wouldn't feel the need to use the word "shit" in an article about self-publishing, but that's another story.)

Here's an example of Suw Charman-Anderson's writing - which pretty much says all there is to say about her, frankly.




She also touts herself as a social media "expert" but seems to think it acceptable to use profanity on Twitter, and her blog. That fact alone means any advice she offers about social media is suspect. Michael Kozlowski stole from an article in which Suw Charman-Anderson discussed my marketing techniques. She was wrong in what she wrote, but Kozlowski used her information as fact, without attribution and without checking. He repeated lies that she told.

If you want to get an idea of how much of an expert Suw Charman-Anderson is on social media all you have to do is to look at her Twitter stats.  Last time I looked she had sent almost 80,000 tweets (the equivalent of two million words, by the way - more than 20 novels!) but despite that prodigious output she had fewer than 6,000 followers. So she tweets away but hardly anyone notices. Does having 6,000 followers quality her as any sort of expert on social media?

Not according to TwitterCounter who say that there are more than 100,000 Twitter accounts that are more popular than Suw Charman-Anderson. So presumably there are 100,000 people who know more about social media than she does.  Michael Kozlowski is even less popular than Sue Charman-Amderson, with just a few hundred followers. So the question is, who can you depend on to offer up useful, and accurate, advice to writers who are just starting out? Not writers like Suw Charman-Anderson or Michael Kozlowski, that's for sure. Michael Kozlowski, for instance, doesn't think that self-published writers should call themselves authors. You can read that claptrap HERE  The man's an idiot. As well as a liar and a plagiarist.

He also thinks that self-published authors are destroying literature. You can read that nonsense HERE but I'd suggest that you don't bother. 

It seems to me that the best guide to the quality of the advice you will get comes from the number of books the person has sold. Not the number of books they have written because there are plenty of awful authors who are churning out rubbish books in huge numbers. Look to see how many books they have sold.  Suw Charman-Anderson - virtually none.  So look instead for advice from writers like Stephen King, Lee Child, Val McDermid and Jefferey Deaver, who sell in their millions.

And if you want advice from a self-publishing guru - a real self-publishing guru and not simply a wannabe - then go to the font of all knowledge, the awesome JA Konrath who has sold well over a million eBooks himself. YOU CAN READ JA KONRATH'S ADVICE BY CLICKING HERE




Monday, August 3, 2015

Black Ops Number 6 in the Sunday Times Bestseller List

Black Ops has risen to Number 6 in the Sunday Times hardback bestseller list, which has pleased me no end!


Last week it was at Number 7, so it's heading in the right direction. The books above it are all great so I'm not expecting to go much higher, but I'm thrilled to bits to be anywhere in the list.

Black Ops is the 12th book in the Spider Shepherd series, I'll be starting the 13th fairly soon, at present I'm looking for plot ideas....  Any suggestions gratefully received!

Friday, June 19, 2015

The Case Of The Disappearing Shoe


There was a very strange story in the headlines this week, with a prominent Muslim campaigner - Asghar Bukhari  - complaining that Mossad agents had stolen a shoe from his home. Just one shoe. Though later he said that a pair of slippers had also gone missing.



After making the claim on his Facebook page, the story went viral. And most people 1) didn't believe it and 2) ridiculed him because of it.

Asghar Bukhari then posted this video about his shoe going missing -



And then later he posted this. In this second video he explained how his slippers had been found, but the shoe was still missing. What happened to his slippers is as strange as the missing shoe.



They are both longish videos but they are worth watching. He's trying to be ironic and sarcastic in the second video, which is a pity because actually this is serious and I don't think he should be making light of it.

The media gave him a tough time.  Newspapers like the Daily Mail and the Daily Telegraph made fun of him, refusing to take his allegations seriously.


THIS IS WHAT THE DAILY TELEGRAPH SAID

AND THIS IS WHAT THE DAILY MAIL SAID

AND THE SPECTATOR MAGAZINE ALSO HAD A POP AT HIM

Twitter also gave Asghar Bukhari a rough ride. Leading the charge was the author Jeremy Duns.





This was followed by a series of tweets from Jeremy Duns, aimed at belittling Asghar Bukhari.






Jeremy Duns then started tweeting personal insults, unfortunately.


Jeremy Duns posted several other nasty tweets about the incident.  It has to be said that Jeremy Duns has something of a reputation as an internet bully and as someone who tweets personal attacks on  Muslims.  CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS

Writer Tim Stevens also joined the attack on Bukhari, Tweeting this -


Stevens is a good friend of Jeremy Duns and the two writers post favourable reviews of each other's books. You can read about their review swaps HERE

Now, here's the thing. I don't know if Asghar Bukhari's shoe was stolen, or if it's lying under a sofa somewhere.

And if it has gone missing, I don't know if it was Zionists who took it.

But I can tell you one thing with absolute certainty. Things like this do happen. They happen in this country. And sometimes it is Government employees who make it happen.

How do I know this?

Because many years ago I met a man who did exactly that. I kid you not. For a time it was his job to, as he put it, 'destabilise bad guys'.

In the second video, Asghar Bukhari explains how the Stasi - the East German secret police - used underhand techniques to bring down their enemies in a process they called Zerstzung, literarily corrosion or undermining.

But the man I met did the same sort of thing in the UK. His targets were people being looked at by other agencies. Criminals, spies, terrorists.

His job was to play with their minds, to put them under pressure, to put them on the back foot. But he was never to confront them, never to do anything overt.

He would arrange for rubbish bins to be not collected. For much larger than normal utility bills to be sent. For hotel and airline bookings to be cancelled or changed. For unnecessary roadworks to happen outside their houses. For phone lines to go down. And, sometimes, to go into a house and rearrange furniture. Or remove a personal item, like a toothbrush. Nothing too obvious, nothing that would result in the police being called. Just small things, things that would prey on a target's mind. Because the more pressure he was under with regard to the small things, the more likely he was to make a mistake in other areas of his life.

On one occasion they kidnapped the dog belonging to a target's wife, knowing that she would make his life hell until the animal was returned!

When he told me about the house-breaking stuff I said I didn't believe  that was possible. I had just bought a flat and installed state-of-the-art locks and a burglar alarm with motion detectors. I said I didn't think anyone could get into my flat. He spent the next few minutes explaining, in detail, exactly how he would get in and ever since that day I have had no faith in locks or alarm systems. If the powers that be want to get into your home, they can and they will. And you will never know - unless they want you to know.

The stories he told me back then have always stuck with me, and I've often toyed with the idea of incorporating them into a thriller.

Am I sure I believe him?

Absolutely, one hundred per cent.  I have to say I was never completely sure who he was actually employed by. I know for several years he was up against the IRA and did the best Belfast accent I've ever heard from a non-Irishman. He gave me lots of intel that ended up in my IRA thriller The Bombmaker. After 9-11 he was very busy with Al-Qaeda and told me lots of stuff that often appeared in newspapers months or even years later and much of what he told me ended up in my Spider Shepherd books. He never told me anything that when checked proved to be anything other than the truth. I tried calling him this week but the numbers I have for him don't work and he seems to be off the grid. But yes, I believe what he told me about the 'destabilising' operations.  And I do believe there are people who will sneak into your house, rearrange your furniture, and steal a shoe!

EDIT JULY 31

Some six weeks after I wrote this blog, Jeremy Duns decided that it was a personal attack on him. It wasn't of, course. But Jeremy Duns does love to play the victim, despite being one of the Internet's most well-known bullies (see the link above). Let's be clear what happened here - Jeremy Duns went online to bully Ashgar Bukhari. All I did was to say that the intelligence services sometimes do strange things to disrupt the lives of those that they see as their enemies.  And that's a fact. But then Jeremy Duns does have a problem with facts. CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS





Wednesday, May 13, 2015

New Covers On The Way

My publisher Hodder and Stoughton have been throwing around ideas for a revamp of my backlist. Here are the new versions they're planning for The Stretch and Tango One.



I think they're awesome!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Spider Shepherd: SAS Books Now Available As Paperbacks


The Spider Shepherd: SAS books are now available as paperbacks. You can buy the first volume BY CLICKING HERE and the second volume is available  BY CLICKING HERE.

They cost £9.99 each, they're trade paperbacks, i.e. the hardback size but in soft covers.

I've published both of them through Createspace, part of Amazon. It wasn't exactly easy getting the books formatted and downloaded but having done it once I think it'll be easier next time. The profit margins are much lower on paperbacks than eBooks, obviously because it costs that much more to produce a physical copy of a book. I think I get to keep about £1,66 for each copy sold, whereas Amazon pay royalties of 70 per cent on eBooks. I doubt they'll sell in large numbers but I do have fans who want to own a physical book so I'm happy to give them the option!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Black Ops - the 12th Spider Shepherd Thriller - Is Done And Dusted

Black Ops, the 12th book in my Spider Shepherd series - is off to the printers.  I'm well pleased with it, I think it's a cracker of a story.

Hodder and Stoughton have already decided that this is the cover, I think.


Black Ops is on sale in July but is already available on pre-sale at Amazon - YOU CAN GET IT BY CLICKING HERE

Here's the synopsis -

WHO CAN YOU TRUST IF YOU CAN'T TRUST YOURSELF?
Spider Shepherd's MI5 Controller, Charlie Button, has gone rogue, using government resources to get revenge on the men who killed her husband. Spider is told to betray her. Worse, he's asked to cooperate with his nemesis at MI6, Jeremy Willoughby Brown, in taking Charlie down. And he will have to cross the assassin, Lex Harper, currently on the trail of two Irish terrorists, who may be able to lead him to his ex-boss.
Meanwhile, Spider's sixteen-year-old son is caught with drugs, expelled from school and threatened with prosecution. But the drug police offer Spider a deal: go undercover, unmask a local dealer and his son will go free. Spider has no option but to cooperate. But is he any better than Charlie, using work resources to resolve personal issues?
There's little time to debate because another high profile mission is about to engulf him. President Vladimir Putin is about to visit the UK and a father who lost his son on the downed Malaysian plane over the Ukraine holds Putin directly responsible for his death and wants revenge. Along with everything else, it's down to Spider to stop the assassination of a head of state on British soil.


Despite it being a complex plot, it took less than four months to write. The edit was done in a couple of days and the line edit took another day to check.  It was plain sailing all the way, pretty much.

I'm always a little surprised at professional writers who go through endless drafts of a book. Especially those who say - 'The first draft is done, now the hard work begins'.  In my experience it's better to do all the hard work before you finish the first draft.

One writer who thinks that way is David Harrison, who writes under the name Tom Bale. YOU CAN READ A RECENT INTERVIEW WITH TOM BALE HERE

This is what Tom Bale says about rewriting -


The fact that his second draft takes longer than the first suggests that there was something very wrong with the first draft. Which is perhaps why Tom Bale has recently been dropped by his former publisher, Random House - and has had to sign with a new agent. In my experience publishers and agents don't want writers doing rewrites after rewrites - they much prefer the writer to get it right the first time.

I always think of writing as akin to painting, really there's no excuse for not getting it right the first time. I doubt that DaVinci finished the Mona Lisa, took a step back and said "You know, I think she'd look better as a blonde and maybe I'll change the smile to a frown".  That's not how painters work, they improve their art as they go along.

In fact it's the same with any profession. You wouldn't trust a cosmetic surgeon who said "I'll have a go at your face lift. The first version probably won't look that good but we'll be able to have another go at it."

Or a mechanic who said he'll fix your brakes "but it won't be perfect, you go away and tell me what's wrong and I'll try again."

In fact I can't think of another profession - other than maybe computer programmers - who hand in a 'finished' job that clearly isn't fit for purpose.

Don't get me wrong. The best advice you can give to a writer starting off is to write every day. And yes, it's fair to tell them that anything they write doesn't have to be perfect first time because it can always be improved.

But that's for amateurs. For wannabes. For writers who are learning their craft. Things change once you're a professional. Any writer who hands in a first draft and then receives pages of notes from an editor and a request for a complete rewrite really has failed in his job. And if that rewrite isn't perfect and requires another rewrite, then something is badly wrong.

Writing isn't easy. It's time consuming and it's challenging. But time and time again I hear writers complain that producing a book is like pulling teeth and that they have to go through rewrite after rewrite before their book is publishable.  Writer's write, that's what they do. Anyone who complains about the process isn't a real writer. And real writers don't hand in work to a publisher until it's pretty much perfect. So yes, the best advice to any writer when they are starting out is to write every day and not to worry too much about the quality. But once you are a professional, once you earn your living from the words you produce, then the work you hand in should be fit for purpose. Anything more than a simple tweak or polish means you have failed.

So what now?  I'm working on a stand-alone ISIS thriller set in London. I've done 36,000 words and it's really, really good.  I can't tell you the title because it's quite special, but one I rejected early on was "Nine Guys Called Mo".  Seriously!

There's a character called Lex Harper in Black Ops (he was Spider's spotter in Afghanistan) who is a drugs baron and part-time assassin. I'm planning a book in which he'll be the main character, maybe even a series.

And I'm hoping for more Jack Nightingale short stories, maybe even a new novel. Busy, busy, busy. But every moment of it is a blast!