The Kindness of Strangers

Dear readers and reviewers,

Thanks to the unbelievable kindness of strangers, my book ‘Q – A Thriller’ now positioned at #3 by average customer reviews in the ‘Action Thrillers’ classification (http://amzn.to/Sno7WC ) and  #11 in ‘Thrillers’ overall (http://amzn.to/SnnV9z) . On Amazon.co.uk is has 50 reviews with an Amazon average of 5 stars. (Actual is 46 five star reviews and 4 four star reviews). I am delighted at the positive feedback.

After initial launch in June 2012 and a free promo at the beginning of September 2012 ‘Q’ has slowly but steadily climbed the Amazon Kindle ladder. I am very, very grateful to each and every reviewer – it really is a case of the unbelievable kindness of strangers. Thank you all so much for both reading my ‘Q’ and for taking the time to pen a few words to help support an ‘Indy’ author!

In the quest to climb a few more rungs on that ladder to success, ‘Q – A Thriller’ is now again FREE on a short free download promotion with Amazon Kindle.

I am keeping my fingers crossed that this new promotion will generate some more solid reviews, especially in the American market. That will help ‘Q’ reach the tipping point of having enough reviews to help stimulate paid sales, which will in turn help push more sales, which will mean that another independent author can make a living from the wild new world of eBooks and independent publishing. It’s all about getting to the front pages of the Amazon shop.

Most of my sales and reviews so far have come from the UK and Europe, along with a handful from the USA, Canada and Australia. As I now live in the UK my main social media contacts were originally skewed to the UK and Europe. Over the last couple of months I have tried to adjust that so my contact list is spread more proportionately across the globe. The Kindle promotion is available both

on Amazon.co.uk  http://amzn.to/MeVGoU

and on Amazon.com http://amzn.to/MfwHFZ

Keen readers of English language thrillers in France can get it on http://amzn.to/QnnZq5

and readers in Germany can also download it free for the next few days http://amzn.to/QnocJT

If you do download and read ‘Q – A Thriller’ I really hope that you enjoy it. If, after reading, you are generous enough to put up a short review on Amazon, I will definitely owe you a drink if our cyber paths transform into a real life meeting at some time in the future.  I’ll look forward to meeting you!

Best wishes and happy thriller reading,

Kieran George

Even The Pope Has To Take A Dump…

Originating in Catalonia in the north of Spain, the tradition of ‘Caganer’ has developed into an art form that takes the wind out of the sails of the famous, important and powerful. ‘Wind’ might be an unfortunate choice of word, as the caganer are actually miniature but recognisable figurines of these celebrities with their underwear around their ankles, squatting down and delivering a large turd to the world.

Apparently, it started as a jokey feature in 17th Century nativity scenes, and since then has grown to be a thriving industry selling caganer souvenirs to tourists and visitors from all around the world. It is a fabulous idea, and should be copied everywhere. It emphasises that everybody, including Kings, Queens, Presidents, Popes, Prime Ministers, Generals , pop stars and all the rich and famous are not really all that different from everybody else. At some point, everybody has to take a dump.

There is an excellent market opportunity for the caganer industry. People all over the world should be able to email photographs of their politicians, officers, bosses, managers, enemies and even friends, then duly receive a six inch high model of said person at their business. That should help bring the over-inflated down to earth.

Let’s go one step further. Let’s make it obligatory for all politicians and directors of public companies to display a caganer of themselves outside their offices. At national Parliaments, Senates, Congress, and the United Nations each lobby area could hold an up-to-date display of personalised caganers showing who is present in the debating chamber. After all, it would be pretty accurate. Apart from wind and hot air, most of what emerges is crap, anyway…

You can get a caganer of nearly everybody that is famous on the world stage in politics, religion, sport, business and entertainment – Mother Theresa, Michael Jackson, Rafael Nadal, Albert Einstein, both George Bushes, Sarah Palin, the Clintons and many, many others.

After looking at various caganer collections, I’m left wondering if the Catalans know more than they let on about American politics. Wherever I looked, there were no figurines of Mitt Romney. Is it a) that because he’s NOT full of crap – or b) that the caganer makers of Spain feel he’s SO full of it, that he’ll never make the world stage and thus deserve the attentions of their skills? Hmm, difficult political analysis…!

Shock! Horror! Kate Middleton Has Breasts! With Nipples!

During the last couple of weeks British and European newspapers have been full of either pictures of Kate Middleton’s body (the tabloids) or pontificating articles on how terrible the papers which actually published the pictures are, and how ‘we’ (usually the broadsheets) feel it is a dreadful infringement of privacy, but we will climb on the bandwagon and discuss the issue in excruciating detail to ensure that we can also sell more copies of our papers – which is what it is all about, and, by the way, here is a blurry picture of her nipple, but it’s blurred, so it’s fine, isn’t it?

I’m getting more than a bit bored with all the coverage. It certainly shows up the essential interests of a large percentage of newspaper and magazine readers. Wars may be starting in Africa, cities are being bombed in the Middle East, economies are crumbling but what we all actually want to see, apparently, are lots of naked women. Naked women sell copies. Famous naked women sell even more copies. For those who are more interested in naked men,  the brutal truth is that pictures of naked men (even Prince Harry) don’t have the same impact on sales, and sales is all that the media owners are interested in, so they will concentrate on pictures or articles about naked women. So there. It’s business. But does that make it alright?

This is the 21st century and surely we should all be a bit more relaxed about there being two basic models of the human body? Kate Middleton has breasts. Her husband has a penis and testicles. It’s not that surprising, is it? Two nations on earth seem to be the most prurient among Western developed countries, namely the British and Americans.  They just LOVE to be ‘shocked’ by nudity. Violence is fine. Kids watching bodies being blasted by guns and chopped up with knives raises remarkably few eyebrows. But a naked breast? My God, someone should be jailed! It’s obscene!

A microscopic flash of a nipple during the 2004 American Superbowl got more coverage than a major earthquake in China. So it is with the Kate Middleton holiday sunbathing furore. Let’s get it straight. There are more important things in the world than Kate Middleton’s breasts, even if she may one day be Queen of the United Kingdom. The offending photos were first published on the 13th September. Why is it still of interest to anybody in the world? We should move on and leave her and her husband alone.

One possible solution to all this hoo-ha about paparazzi and invasions of privacy is for nations to pass a very simple law – any published photographs in print or on electronic media showing body parts of a living person that are normally considered ‘private’ should have the signed model consent agreement of the person who is being photographed.  If a newspaper, magazine or online media publishes such photos without the agreement of the person in question, whether they be rich and famous or poor and unknown, putative damages would be paid to the person in question – plus a hefty fine in addition for the publisher. That would stop most of the problems in an instant. If such a law could be approved and enforced internationally, even better.

After that, any ‘private’ body parts flaunted in print or electronically would be with the model’s consent and approval and presumably they would directly benefit in terms of a payment or desired publicity.  Then everybody would be happy. Except the people who thought that members of the British royal family did not or should not have breasts and penises, but they want to have a look anyway…

Post-Natal Book Blues – You’ve Given Birth to a Book!

After the trauma of the birth, an anti-climax.  Depressed? Yup, you have the post-natal book blues.

There should be a song for it. Some sort of anguished, wailing cross between Janis Joplin, Billie Holliday, Suzanne Vega, Muddy Waters and Leonard Cohen? Something painful, dark, poignant, sad, with a hint of self-mocking irony? How does the sad song start?

It goes back to a moment of madness – the old, old story. Like lust, like love – fevered brow, manic fumblings, obsessive thoughts, jotted love notes, then a spasm of creation. Yes! Yes! That’s it! A seed planted, taking root. You have conceived an idea for a book! Nurture it in your ideas womb for many, many months, if not years. Slowly build it up, cell by cell, word by word, sentence by sentence. Human gestation is only nine months – pah! Authors can give examples of years and decades – how’s that for a pregnant pause?

Pregnant women are besieged with dietary advice. Writers generally revert to a traditional mixture of anxiety, determination, procrastination, spasmodic frantic activity, binge eating, fasting, coffee, chocolate, alcohol abuse and intakes of other legal or illegal substances. Others, of the more austere persuasion will strictly self-discipline with rigid timetables, exercise rotas, long distance runs and self-flagellation. Whatever works for you…

En route to the book birthing room, you may have endure the attentions of various obstetric book experts. A surprising number of these people have never given birth themselves, but have just watched from the side-lines, book birth voyeurs. I think they get off on your pain. These gynaecological book-tweakers and book-parasites  hope to make money out of your labours, but they have thousands of literary foetuses to choose from and they are very selective.  They force would-be book parents to abase themselves and wait, and wait, and wait. Another re-write, another edit, more cuts. The baby will be healthier, better, stronger. Fine. But will it ever come to life?

So, cruel experience in traditional publishing forces you to contemplate a home birth. Can I? Should I? Why not? In 2008 self-published books overtook traditionally published books. The graph has been climbing steadily and strongly since then.  If all those other book-parents could do it, why not you? Go for it!

After the decision to go for a home birth, the end comes up almost by surprise. A final rewrite, edit and spell-check. Then regular pains. Publishing contractions!

“No, Mr. George, you can’t have an epidural. Publishing births work on gas and hot air. Just relax then push. Push harder. Try alcohol for pain relief…”

The eBook version has the advantage of being faster than traditional book birthing methods, and after a few panics – format, cover, final edit (forceps, vacuum, nurse…) the babe is hauled squealing into the cold light of Kindle day.

So, what happens to you now? Well, life goes on. The marketing begins. You settle down to a life of tweeting and blogging. Send out review copies. Pray for reviews. Plan a campaign. How much does a display add in The Sunday Times cost? Well, we won’t do that, will we? Check the sale statistics (not more than once every ten minutes.) You’ve sold how many? Will that buy you a coffee? Never mind, there’s always tomorrow. That’s when the anti-climactic dark cloud settles in you. Is that it? No fame? No fortune? So much sweat, so much thought, for so little return? Be patient, there’s always tomorrow. Tomorrow – argh.

On the plus side – if you are experiencing the trauma of post-natal book blues, at least it means that you finally did give birth to a book – pity the poor sods who remain perpetually pregnant, never to produce their magnum opus, pitied at the bar, gently mocked behind their backs by family and friends, their dead book bulge ever present but never spoken about face to face.

So you deal with the blues. One day at a time. Promised reviews fail to appear. Are your friends and family avoiding you? Has it been raining for weeks or is it just your mood? Another glass of wine? Forget the glass – pass the bottle. Days pass. Weeks pass. And then, it happens. Getting into bed, walking in the park, parking the car, waking up in the middle of the night. It can get you at any time. You know about it from before, but it’s still a surprise. It hits you. It hits you hard.

Oh, no! Sweating hands. Waking dreams. Heart racing. That idea, that idea… yes, it’ll work. I’m sure. I’m absolutely sure.  Yes! It’s started! I can’t go back. It’s inside of me. It’s growing…

Damn! Blast! I’m pregnant! Again!

It’s another bloody book.

 

Should You Kill The Undead on Twitter?

It’s a real dilemma. What do you do with the undead?

You are trying to build up your list of Twitter followers, and over the weeks and months of careful attention to prospective contacts you have assembled a fair old selection of Tweeps who seem to have the same interests as you have. You have evaded and avoided the worst punishments of the Twitter Bosses and your account is still alive and kicking. Several times a week, or even daily, you have culled the ingrates who do not follow you back using ‘justunfollow’ or a similar Twitter tool.

As your follower list builds, you achieve benefits and flexibility. Fight your way through the Twitter bottleneck at 2,001 follows and you are then allowed to follow approximately 10% more people than follow you. You hit 2,000 followers – you can follow 2,200. You hit 3,000 followers – you can follow 3,300. Wonderful.

Now, your eyes wander over your Twitter Tool menus. There is a tab saying ‘Inactive Following.’ You haven’t tried that one! Hmm… Shall we press it? These are mainly people who you followed in the first place, then they returned the favour. The problem is that they have not done anything on Twitter in either, one month, three months or six months, according to your selection on the drop down menu.

How many of these ‘undead’ are there? Press the button… Yikes! A LOT.

Now, do you just cull them and put them out of their half-life misery?  That will clean up your lists (think like a marketing person) and make any outgoing future communications more efficient.  Twitter only allows you to send so many Tweets or DMs in any 24 hour period. You don’t want to waste these valuable marketing or communication opportunities on zombies. Kill them! Cull them!

But wait! If you kill them, how will it impact your Twitter follow allowances? Chop them up and bury the corpses, and your follow allowances go down by 10% of the number that you have culled. For those into bragging rights on the number of people who follow you, you won’t be able to go to the pub and say ‘I’ve got 2,850 followers on Twitter’, you’ll only be able to boast that ‘I’ve got 2, 640 followers on Twitter’, which is obviously deeply shameful. You will immediately become a lesser person in the eyes of your Twitter peers, and will have to hang your head in contrition as ‘someone on Twitter who is LOSING followers.’ Disgraceful!

Then again, if you don’t put them out of their tormented misery, you will never know which members of your lovingly tended lists are mocking you from beyond the grave. Can you live with that? Should you?

But you are trying to dispose of zombies... Don’t you remember anything? Zombies are notoriously difficult to kill. Quick. Find a teenager. They will know what to do. None around? Try Google. Tap, tap, tap. ‘How to kill a zombie.’ Ah, 95,600,000 hits. Click. http://yhoo.it/LnJQWp Ten best ways to kill a zombie. Oh, dear. Clicking on ‘delete’ is not listed. Apparently one of the better ways is dropping an Egyptian obelisk on their heads. Oh, my. That’ll be easy.

For the meantime, as I’m clean out of obelisks, I’m just going to delete the list. I’ll try to put them into a proper and respectful death state. If you are one of those zombie followers and I fail to give you eternal peace, please don’t come back to haunt me. I tried my best. RIP.

Don’t Follow Dead People! Don’t Follow Eggs!

Sorry if I sound like a dirty-mac vampire type, but I only want live bodies – beating hearts, pulsing blood and working brains (IQ over 80, please, and the higher the better) are required for my devious purposes… (If it helps, at this point, you can imagine a dark and foggy night, Victorian church ruins, views of dilapidated grave stones, sinister organ music, hooting owls, lightning flashes, cracks of thunder, etc., etc.)

OK, enough of that. Cut to the confession. ‘Yes, officer, I will come clean. I am a lurker.’ There, I’ve said it. In my quest to find fiction lovers and thriller readers who are;

a) alive

b) literate

c) active on twitter

I have been lurking on other people’s accounts, checking out their followers and delving into some of the darker corners of Twitterdom. Lurking - Guilty as charged. What have I found? Well, there are a lot of pretty strange people out there in cyberspace. ‘Strange’ does not mean necessarily mean ‘bad’. Some of the strangest actually sound like fun, but I don’t think this is the right space for an in-depth analysis of my hobbies. That is between me and my therapist. If I had one.  What I am really interested in, is, can these people ACTUALLY READ?

As I search among the accounts likely to be frequented by readers, I have evolved some basic rules for efficient list building and contact making. As you may be aware, my interests and targets are readers of fiction – especially thrillers. I suspect that my basic rules can be easily adapted to any profession or leisure-time interest.   Delete ‘Authors’ and ‘Reading’ in your searches and insert ‘Micro-light Flying’ and ‘Death Wish’ if that is what floats your boat.

So, what are my recommendations to fellow authors who are trying to build up their contacts with potential readers of their books?

Rule One:            Don’t follow dead people

Real dead is obvious. Dead people don’t tweet. (Though, in the case of Elvis, I’m not 100% sure – see  ‏@ElvisPresley) I’m actually talking about Twitter Dead. They opened an account in 2011, made 4 tweets and haven’t been back. Quick decision – don’t bother. In the interests of speed, if they haven’t tweeted for a month, or even a couple of weeks – THEY ARE DEAD.

Maybe, if they’ve sent 18,072 tweets and have 6, 453 followers I will give them a few more days grace. Maybe even as much as 15 days – this level of Tweep is occasionally, just very occasionally, allowed a two week holiday from Twitterdom.  Other than that, I classify them as ‘Twitter Dead.’ Move along there people, it’s just a dead Tweep…

Rule Two:            Don’t follow eggs

Most eggs are a waste of time. They generally have only a couple of tweets, no followers and are following a handful of celebrities that are not returning the favour. They haven’t been interested enough in Twitter to upload a picture or avatar. Granted, a few eggs are genuine, but just very shy. However, look on Twitter as an omelette made in a bustling kitchen. Get busy! If you are going to build a list you’ll just have to break a few eggs. (Sorry, eggs – I suggest you upload a picture of some sort. Not an egg. No yoke.)

Rule Three:        Don’t follow crazy kids

‘Mrs Justin Bieber’ aged 8, ‘One Direction Is my Entire Life’, and ‘Olly Murs is God’ are probably unlikely to shell out time and / or cash for reading your fiction. Don’t add them to your lists. Unless you really ARE Olly Murs.

Rule Four:           Don’t follow easy numbers

Delete anyone whose bio or tweets are on the lines of ‘How I got 50,000 followers in just one day’ – Delete. Delete. Delete. Especially if they only have 105 followers.

Rule Five:            Don’t follow anyone you can’t understand

Bilingual is fine. But if their bio and their tweets are all in Serbo-Croat and you don’t happen to speak and write that fine language, don’t bother – move on. As a sub-set of Rule Five I would include those members of Twitter who communicate in some version of text-speak that is impenetrable to anyone over the age of 25, and those whose blogs and websites show that they miserably failed Primary One spelling and grammar exams.  They probably dribble from the corners of their mouths while sitting, don’t understand how to use cutlery, and are unlikely to be able to read an entire book without mouthing the words out loud, and that would just annoy anyone in their vicinity. Be nice to the world. Leave them alone.

Rule Six:              Don’t follow sex

Hi Guys, wanna do some sexy camming?’ tweeps are to be avoided. I would cheerfully bet a pound to a penny that the only pictures that they really want are of your credit card and pin number.

So, who do I want to follow?

Live bodies – people who are active on twitter – and have preferably tweeted in the last day or two. People who enjoy reading to the point that they follow authors they like, or join groups that discuss books. People who read thrillers. People that you’d enjoy meeting, people that you wouldn’t mind being seated next to at a party, and people who have opinions worth listening to – these are the people that I want to follow, and that I want to follow me.

If that’s you, I’d be delighted if you’d follow my blog and connect with me on Twitter. And if we happen to sit next to each other at a dinner party, I promise I won’t dribble. And I CAN use a knife and fork. Yay for thriller readers! 

‘Q’ – A Thriller  is now available on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk

Try before you buy! Click on the book cover link and check out the first few chapters.

 

Top Quality Fiction For 19 Year Olds – Your Recommendations?

Can You Recommend 3 Top Quality Fiction Books For a 19 Year Old Reader?

I’ve been asked to recommend just three fiction titles for a couple of 19 year olds, one male, one female, to load onto their Kindles when they depart on their pre-university gap year travels. Now, some background: they are both keen readers, did all the Harry Potter, Twilight, Tolkien, Philip Pullman stuff in their younger teens, and have been sampling some meatier reads care of ‘A’ level English, German and French courses.

We can leave Shakespeare, Dickens, Jane Austin, Molière, Thomas Mann and other standard exam texts off the list, as well as the Bible and other ‘Holy Books’.  They are looking for new insights into literature, and, for once will have the time to tackle a few heftier and more complex works of serious fiction that will hopefully extend their reading comfort zones in an enjoyable and memorable way.

Hmm. Tough choice – and just three titles?

It seems like an obvious job for the great minds of the Twitterati – so I have asked you all for suggestions and will be fascinated to see what is suggested.

The rules are: 3 works only. No pornography. No religious books. Apart from that, any fiction genre, any titles. Published in English. Works that will hopefully stay with them for life – and promote many further years of enjoying good fiction writing. 

To start the ball rolling, I have put down:

War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy

Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China – Jung Chang

The Game of Kings – Dorothy Dunnett

So, please, Twitterati – what are your suggestions? All thoughtful suggestions gratefully received!