Thursday, 10 April 2014

How my documentary shoot went - with photos.

In my last post I mentioned that I'd been asked to do a mini documentary, and earlier in the week (Tuesday) the crew arrived at my home to begin shooting. The short film forms part of a series which focusses on author success stories for Amazon KDP, which is where my publishing story began in 2011.

It was an early start with people turning up from 06:30 as they wanted to catch my daily routine, which begins when I take my wife to the train station - and what a lot of people! I didn't really know what to expect, perhaps three or four, but there were around ten in total, covering the filming, lighting, sound, stills photography, there was also the interviewer (of course) and several other people doing things I mostly became oblivious to as I was directed to do this and that. There was even someone there for hair and makeup, which for obvious reasons (see profile pic) put a smile on my face. I do hope she wasn't on half pay for only being able to do half the job!

It was pretty cold at around seven degrees Celsius while we were shooting at my home, so if you can see my knees knocking in the film when it comes out, it was as much from the chilly weather as it was from being nervous - honest! I enjoyed what they call the B-roll sections most of all, where I was asked to do things without being mic'd up - walking here and there, or sitting at my desk typing. I found the interview sections quite tough, but I'm assured the crew were very happy with the day and that everything's going to be great. 'Of course it is,' he added, swallowing dryly.

I met a really great bunch of people and took a few photos of some of them while they were setting up. After that, from the time I put my own camera away, to the time the director called 'It's a wrap', which was in London at about 17:00, it all seems to have passed in a blur. It really was great fun, and although I usually shy away from anything like this, I'm glad I said yes. It's left me with some wonderful memories. In the film You'll have a tour of my writer's cabin and my garden, which although not at it's best until June is looking very spring-like. You'll get to see my writer's hat and find out why I wear it whenever I'm writing. We'll go for a walk along the river where I've broken through many a plot barrier, and then we'll jump on the train to London and visit St Paul's Cathedral, which is central to the plot of my third Jefferson Tayte mystery The Last Queen of England, and was where I felt the most nervous about being interviewed because it was such a busy area - and there I am sitting on a low wall beside the pavement with a fluffy boom mic dangling above my head as everyone in the world (it seems) passes by, wishing I could melt into the stonework. I think that section of the film could be quite short.

I'm told my mini documentary should be ready for release sometime in May, so stay tuned as they say, and maybe we can watch it together as I'm sure I'm going to need plenty of support and encouragement to click that play button. So, am I glad I did it? Yes, absolutely. Would I do it again? I don't know. You'll have to ask me once I've seen the film!

Friday, 28 March 2014

What a couple of weeks!

My books have launched!
The 18th of March saw the Thomas & Mercer editions of the first three books in my genealogical mystery series go live on Amazon for the Kindle, and in paperback and audio formats, and it's been very exciting!

I took a week off with Mrs R during launch week and we went into London to celebrate on the big day, and somehow I managed to resist checking my chart positions. When we arrived home I ran straight to my laptop though and had a look. I didn't know what to expect. I knew the advertising campaign in the UK wasn't going to start until the 4th of April, but I'd been told it would kick in straight away on When I looked however, nothing much had changed. My books were live, but their chart positions had only seen a small increase. They were certainly up on the day before, but not significantly so. This was the case for a few days, and I thought, 'Steady progress... That's okay.' Then BAM! towards the end of launch week I was at a hotel in the Cotswolds, having a drink before dinner, and I checked my chart positions on my phone. Then I knew something significant had happened. In the Blood had shot up into the 200s over all, and by morning it was an top 100 bestseller! I was also very pleased to see that To the Grave and The Last Queen of England weren't far behind it. 

My books have been Amazon top 100 bestsellers before, but with the marketing that put them there being short and sweet, so was the time my books remained in the top 100. This time though, In the Blood has stayed in the top 100 for a week so far, having reached a high (that I saw) of No.48 in the Kindle store. The day after I arrived home from the Cotswolds, I found out what had happened. I had received an email from a fan who had already written to me some time ago, and he told me that my books were being advertised directly on his Kindle! Then Amazon confirmed it and sent me some screen shots, along with a few images of the on-site advertising they were running.
Kindle device advertising. I love the atmospheric woodland setting.

Where I'm at with the The Lost Empress.
You might have noticed that I changed my blog header (and website) recently to coincide with the re-release of my books. You might also have noticed that I've sneaked the title of my new Jefferson Tayte mystery in there. I'm currently going through a structural edit phase with the new book, which is designed to help shape the story and make it the best it can be. Early signs from my editors are very encouraging. This part of the process will last a few more weeks, and then the manuscript will be sent off for copyediting before the proofreading stage. We've not started on the cover design yet, and I can't wait to see how that's going to turn out. I've some strong ideas for it, and I already know the team behind its creation are going to do a great job.

The excitement continues...
I'm going to be in a mini documentary - oh my! A film crew are coming to my house early next month (must tidy up!) and they're going to spend the whole day with me! I know... I still can't believe it, either.  I'll tell you how it went next time, but suffice it to say I'm pretty nervous about it all. I usually run a mile from this kind of thing, but I've decided to get out there more (come what may) when the opportunities arise. Something tells me I'd better hide my guitars though before the film crew turn up! 

Friday, 7 March 2014

Jefferson Tayte audiobooks and more

This week saw the arrival of some advance copies of my books, as performed by multi-award winning narrator, Simon Vance, in CD and MP3 audio formats from Brilliance Audio. It was a particularly nice surprise as I wasn't sure whether I was going to receive any audiobooks until the van pulled up outside my house to deliver them. They're in their full retail packaging with a price tag of $14.99 printed on the back, which seems very reasonable for a nine CD set in the case of In the Blood. Amazon UK will be retailing them at £10.80 and just £6.82 for the MP3 download.

I'm planning to open a bottle of wine later this evening and start listening to In the Blood with Mrs R. If the sample I heard before production began is anything to go by, I'm sure it's going to be a lot of fun. I can already see myself smiling all the way through it. :o)

More news this week is that I've just sent my new Jefferson Tayte Genealogical Mystery to my editor, so the production ball will soon start rolling, first with a structural edit and then a copyedit, followed by proofreading. The re-release of my existing books (and the audiobooks) is a week next Tuesday and I'm getting very excited about that. I'm hoping to be able to release some more information about the new book on the same day (March 18), along with the release date, which I'll put up on my blog as soon as I know it.

Friday, 28 February 2014

More book cover photos - all three new editions together

The Last Queen of England - Thomas & Mercer Edition

As promised last week, here are some photographs of the new paperback edition of my third book, The Last Queen of England, which is out next month on March 18. For me, this cover marks the greatest change from my original cover image, and much for the better I think. It's closer to how I originally imagined the cover, but I was unable to reproduce it with the tools at hand. I love the movement provided by JT in the top half of the image. It says he's going to be doing some running around in this book and he certainly does plenty of that. I also wanted to get those binary digits in, and I think Amazon Publishing did a great job with them. It says there's a puzzle at the heart of this story, which the original cover also failed to get across. I like the image I made for the original cover, of the statue of Queen Anne with St Paul's Cathedral in the background, but it never really shouted thriller to me, which I feel this new cover definitely does. It gives you a glimpse of what to expect before you start reading, which of course is what a book cover should do.

Shot on location in my kitchen. :o)

Also as promised, here are a some photos of all three of the new T&M edition books together. I can't wait to see the fourth book alongside them now, but I'll have to be patient for its release later this year. I'm thinking dark blue for the next cover, with a silvery title and some fog, but we'll see.

Friday, 21 February 2014

A suitcase full of books!

To the Grave - Thomas & Mercer edition.

More books arrived from my publisher this week, and having just about finished the second draft of my new book, the title of which will be announced very soon, I thought I'd take some time out to play with my camera again. Last time I posted a few photos of the new T&M edition of In the Blood, now it's To the Grave's turn.

I had a rummage in my loft and found Mena's little red WW2 era suitcase, which I'd bought previously for the cover of the original edition. Now that my book covers are changing, I thought it would be nice to use it again to welcome in the new edition. These are not the first books to have been put into Mena's suitcase, however, because in the story, when Jefferson Tayte first comes across it, among other things it contains a copy Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert - a book that came to hold special significance for Mena.

The new edition will be out next month on March 18, along with In the Blood and The Last Queen of England, and I can't wait! I have copies of all three new edition paperbacks now, and I think they look great together. I'll post some more photos soon, so you can see for yourself. I'm just waiting for some inspiration for how best to showcase The Last Queen of England. So, if you see a man with a camera, piling books up around the Queen Anne statue outside St Paul's cathedral at the weekend, that will be me. :o)

A suitcase full of books!

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Book 4 update and new edition paperback photos

I've finished!

Just a small post this week to share the news that I've finished the first draft of my next (4th) book. Yay! The story is down, but there's still a fair way to go before it will be ready for publication. I was aiming for 100,000 words and the story has come in at around 97,000, which is great, and will sit nicely with the other books in the series. I've lots and lots and lots of editing to do now, which I've already begun. Mrs R has started reading it, too, and so far so good. I'll be sending it to my editor at Amazon Publishing next month - and then holding my breath!

Something else I wanted to share is that I had a very nice surprise during the week when a UPS van pulled up out outside my house and the driver delivered a big box of books. The new Thomas & Mercer edition paperbacks of In the Blood have arrived ahead of their general release on March 18, and I must say, I think they look amazing. The vivid colours really pop out, and the satin finish is very classy. Needless to say, I'm over the moon with them and can't wait to receive the other books now. I know they're going to look great side by side, and I'll be sure to post some more pictures once I have the set.

Click images to enlarge

Saturday, 25 January 2014

New covers and blurbs for the Jefferson Tayte Genealogical Mysteries

Out with the old - in with the new

I've been eager to share my new book covers with you ever since I saw the finished images a few months ago. Yesterday, I received the final full covers from Amazon Publishing, so I'm very excited to be able to say, "Here they are!" 

The level of input I've had towards their creation has been very impressive, to the degree that they feel as much 'my' covers as the originals. Amazon have certainly shown me that they both welcome and respect their authors' opinions, and between us I think the end results are great. I love the vibrant colours and the mood they set, and I think the inclusion of a figure in each image has added an extra connection that was lacking before. Seeing them all together like this makes me feel like a child in a sweet shop again, and I just know the paperbacks are going to look amazing. I can't wait to hold them all and see them together on my bookshelf! They will be available, along with the audio editions on CD and digital download from March 18.

I hope you like them, and thank you for taking the time to check them out. To see larger images where it might be easier to read the new blurbs, just click an image for the gallery.

In the Blood

The jetty or pontoon where Mawgan Hendry was murdered in 1803, as depicted in the prologue, is central to the story of In the Blood, and I'm glad it stayed. Now JT is there, pondering the mystery of Hendry's murder. I think the frothing clouds add great atmosphere, and they remind me of the nightmare Amy has in the book. I think the full jacket really adds to the drama and the sense of space as JT gazes out over the Helford River.

To the Grave

The new cover for To the Grave is perhaps the closest of the three to the original, but now with added  atmosphere. I think the mood it creates really suits the tone of the book. I always thought that Mena's little red suitcase - the beginning of the mystery - was a strong image, so I'm very glad it remained, and has now been made stronger by the indistinct, almost ghostly figure in the distance. I must see about getting the full Jackets printed for my cabin wall.

The Last Queen of England

This was the most effective improvement for me as it incorporates the imagery I always had in my head, but which I was unable to reproduce with the tools I had - largely my camera and limited graphics software. It shouts thriller to me now: St Pauls ties it to London for a big backdrop, JT is there running with his briefcase, as he is throughout most of the book, and those subtly rendered binary digits - the key to the story - streaming down the cover like something from The Matrix. I love it.

And here they are together. I think the series and author identities are nice and strong. Book four will be out later this year, with the release date due to be announced at the launch on March 18.