• Michael Parker

A lot of stuff happened to me during the month of October: some good, some not so good. None of the downs were life threatening, nor were the ups come to that. I published my latest crime thriller, A Song in the Night, and ordered a proof copy. I couldn’t believe how many errors there were, considering I’d read through it twice before publishing, but such is the life of a writer. I edited again and uploaded the new manuscript. Once I was happy with it, I produced the eBook. And that’s were it went off the rails again. There were no table of contents (ToC) in the book, even though I included a ToC in the manuscript. Always have done and never had a problem. I contacted KDP Support and was advised that I needed a “Logical ToC”. It’s something new I guess, but why did KDP have to change something that worked fine? I did try to figure it out using KDP’s instructions and advice from Google, but I’m still scratching my head over that.

I decided to promote my latest book on Bargain Booksy, using a promotion company I’d watched on an SPF Podcast. Promises were made of course, but I sold nothing. I pointed this out on their Social Media platform and, surprise, surprise: I received an apology and my money back.

Next up was a threat of legal action from an American finance Company who keep the accounts for D2D, an aggregator I have used for about five years. It seems I used the wrong name for my tax return, so my account was suspended, fraud was hinted at and the threat of legal proceedings against me. And all my books were delisted. Fortunately, I posted a warning on the SPF Facebook Group and Mark Dawson, the administrator, contacted one of the D2D staff. I received an email from them. They didn’t even know this had happened. Eventually the error was corrected (by them) and all my books republished. Phew!

Then my banking app stopped working because HSBC were very excited to introduce a better way of accessing the online bank. It meant I was unable to view my account or even have control. I went into the bank here in Bognor and fortunately, the lady behind the glass took my phone off me and fifteen minutes later I was back in the new and “Exciting” world promised by the bank. Why do they do this? It all worked fine, so why change it?

Can you remember what you signed for three years ago? Me neither. I received an email from my Web provider, Wix, to let me know that they would be taking £300 out of my bank for my premium account. This would be for another three years. After a spell of apoplexy, I checked back through my Website editor and found that I had agreed to this in November 2019. It was only £2 per week. Nothing, eh? Until you forget and they want to lift £300 out of your bank. So, I grinned and put up with it.

So you see: all those ‘downs’ were not life threatening but did get me stirred up. Not something I need at my age. Oh, I forgot. Went to take Tuppence down the beach for the morning walk and found I had a flat tyre. I decided to take Tuppence round the village and change the tyre when I got back, but I couldn’t undo the nuts! Nothing I did would shift them, so I had to call Green Flag. A guy came out from the garage and five minutes later I was mobile again.

But on to some positives now. My latest book, A Song in the Night, is now available, but only on Kindle Unlimited. I thought I would give it try. In three weeks I have picked up almost 2000 page reads. That’s the equivalent of about four book sales. It’s an encouraging start, bolstered by advertising on Facebook of course. I have also sold ten copies so far (eBook and print), plus I have sold five other books; one of which was my box set. I’ve had the box set on KDP for about five years and only ever sold one copy I think. But it was a nice surprise to think, maybe, the interest in my latest book may have pointed readers to my website and my other titles.

Another ‘positive’ in a way was the decision I made to promote my Christian Narrative. I realised that as much as I like to see some benefit from advertising, it has always been my works of fiction (apart from My Pat, a love story) that I’ve promoted. I thought to myself that if I want God to open doors for me, I really ought to promote my Christian book: A Word in Your Ear (how God changed my retirement plans). So I now have ads for that on Amazon, but in the USA at the moment. Probably hoping to get some sales for that in the Bible Belt down south.

This month is NaNoWriMo for authors around the world. It’s for anybody really. It stands for National November Writers Month (I think). The idea is to produce 50,000 words in four weeks. Although it’s a peculiar kind of arrangement, the idea is to write 2000 words a day knowing that there are others alongside you, all over the world, doing the same thing. I actually did a thirty minute ‘sprint’ with three other authors on my laptop and about 50,000 in the SPF group on the first day. But I had to admit that I was already 36000 words ahead because I’d started a new project: writing a romance under a pseudonym. The word count for that currently stands at 46000. The first draft will be finished well before the end of the month, but I will be going back to the beginning and rewriting where I can. Eventually I hope to have the completed novel at 60,000 words when November comes to an end.

Wish me luck!

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  • Michael Parker

Last month was something of a revelation for me with regard to my word output, but not so much for my advertising skills. Looking back through my September blog, I see that I promoted The Eagle’s Covenant on Amazon and binned it. I went back to Amazon Ads, and using Janet Margo’s instructions, I rebuilt the campaign. Janet is an ex Amazon advertising exec and has joined Mark Dawson’s group to help update his Ads Course. Hey Ho! I thought; this should be good. I followed her advice to the letter, even submitting five separate ads and setting a budget across the five ads at £300 each (1500 total). This included a Lock screen ad, which is not usually useful for unknown authors like me. Janet warns about that, but her advice was to give it a try. So I did. Results since the 7th September? Zilch! Despite 37,500 impressions on Lock screen and 300 across the remaining adds. I got 77 clicks on Lock screen and 2 clicks on one other ad., but no sales. I spent just over $17. Says it all really, doesn’t it?

The resultant connection with The Book Typesetters and their design for my new book jacket has produced a brilliant cover. I’m so pleased with it that I just had to include a thumbnail image here. I’m waiting for a Proof copy before publishing it: something I hope to do as a pre-order for November 1st. I will go back to Amazon and Facebook to promote it but have promised myself to be a little more circumspect when framing my campaign.

As a result of changing my routine and creating more time to write, I have completed and published a short autobiography about the two years following the loss of my lovely Pat. I’ve called it What Happened After. It won’t be promoted; I simply felt compelled to write it and send copies to my family and friends. That was a 17000 word booklet.

But not stopping there, I gave some thought to writing a Police Procedural crime novel. I downloaded two crime novelists who I know a great deal about and read their work. It didn’t take me long to realise that police procedurals are literally all dialogue. Try as I might, I just couldn’t get out of that particular straitjacket. I often tell people who say they want to write a book, that they should “Write as you can, not as you can’t.” By not following my own advice, I fell at the first hurdle. Mind you, knowing me, I’ll probably try again, particularly as I have a great opening scene for a crime thriller.

However, still ignoring my own advice, I needed to do something having spent a lot of time finishing two books, so I started on a Romance. It’s just for fun really, and I will use a pen name. I’ve tried several names so far, but none of them seem to click. The one I’ve eventually settled on is Emma Carney. I’m not even sure I’ll use that one, but we’ll see. So far I have written 20,000 words. My daily target, which I had to trim because I wasn’t getting any work done in the house, was 2000 words a day. (I do get work done in the house of course!). My average so far is 1500 words a day. At this rate I’ll have another book available by Christmas.

I’m still planning to use TikTok as a platform for my work. I need to go through the course again, but I have posted videos there already, so I’m not a complete novice.. I’m waiting for my book to be available before I go daft and promote the hell out of it.

Other events during the month were lunch dates with my family and relatives. A trip to the Bognor Writers’ Group. That clashed with the England V. Germany game, but thankfully I was able to watch the recording. Dog walks, domestic duties, gardening (killing weeds really), running my church House Group, and trying to polish up my piano playing skills on my Clavinova. Life can be full, but underneath it all, it can be difficult too.

So what next for Michael Parker? Who knows? I might change course and become a painter, a musician, a dog walker. The world’s my oyster. Wish me luck!

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  • Michael Parker

September 2022. Looking Good.

The month of August was quite a busy month for me. Now that the jigsaw of my life was being put together slowly, I was able to get on with my latest book and I eventually finished it. I had to change my routines for this. I gave up buying a newspaper and consciously reduced the amount of time I spend sitting on my backside watching TV. I was surprised just how much writing I could accomplish, and how much time I had to deal with unexpected diversions.

I gave up some of my time to paint my neighbour, Jackie’s fence. My side needed doing (it’s a trellis fence), so when I knew Jackie planned to pay someone to do her side, I told her I would do it for nothing. She’s going to buy me dinner though. The start of that job was delayed because I was getting over Covid. Fortunately the weather was okay; the heatwave hadn’t arrived.

I was also fortunate enough to spend some time with two of my sons, Vincent and John, having lunch with their families at Port Solent. It has been years since I was there, but it was good. I also managed a lunch date with my sister-in-law, Carole and her husband, David.

I started another advertising campaign on Amazon, but my efforts have been abysmal. So much so that I binned the campaign after a couple of weeks. I have now started the Amazon Ads Course again (paid for it years ago) and hope I can enjoy more success with that. I also plan to go through the TikTok training. I am posting on TikTok, and my granddaughter, Sarah, has given me some pointers with posting on TikTok and Instagram without the latter rejecting the former. Something to do with TikTok’s watermark. I have read on my Facebook groups of amazingly spectacular results with TikTok, so I’m persuaded it’s the right way to go. Naturally I will continue with AMS.

Other aspects of my writing which are looking up is a project I’ve started and spent a little time on. There’s nothing to reveal about this because it hasn’t been completed yet. With regard to my novel, I have completed the editing and formatting of the manuscript but have engaged a professional book jacket designer to do the jacket for me. I did think about doing the jacket myself, but having come across this designer by chance, I decided to let him do the work. His prices were good: not as much as I paid for The Boy from Berlin. The irony is that I am currently redesigning my book jacket for A Covert War and using Photoshop to do it.

But the biggest part of my month, and a kind of welcome change, was to pick up my friend, Pauline, from her home in Lincolnshire and bring her down here for a week of travelling around, sightseeing, visiting family and enjoying what the countryside has to offer. Pat and I first met Pauline and her husband, Brian, in Spain twenty five years ago. We were great friends while they lived there and continued that friendship when we returned to England. Sadly, we are both on our own now. Brian died a couple of months after my lovely Pat. We chat each week on Facetime, and I have been up to Lincolnshire a couple of times, including bringing Pauline down here last year. Tempus Fugit.

Back in the book world again, I went to the Bognor Writers’ Club for their monthly meeting. It’s part of my attempts to make connections. I also popped into the bookshop in Bognor Regis where a local author, Peter Redford was holding a small event. I spent about fifteen minutes chatting with Peter and bought one of his books. I also left some of my books with the owner of the bookshop who has managed to sell a few of mine over the last few months.

I have also posted a new campaign on Amazon for The Eagle’s Covenant. The book happens to have the highest number of reviews in the UK and the USA, and the highest average star rating of 4.5 of all my titles. But the number of reviews is abysmal compared to most other popular thriller writers. Consequently I am using Janet Margo’s instructions in building a campaign as a ‘novice’, using Ad Groups and committing a big budget. Janet used to work at Amazon on the advertising panel, so she knows what she’s talking about. Naturally I have to look at what’s happening each day, otherwise I could be spending money pointlessly. I feel this could be my last chance at understanding AMS Ads and know how to negotiate the minefield out there in an effort to attract readers and book sales.

Looking back, it seems like I’m on the mend; but believe me, it’s hard without my Pat. I still miss her, and I’m sure she’s encouraged that I’m managing to put some meaning back into my life. Onward and upward hopefully.

Wish me luck!

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