Category Archives: publishing

It Never Was You is ready to (indiego)go!

It Never Was You will be released some time in April. Yep, that’s a month later than previously announced, but having looked at the lead times, I realised I was being a little hasty and have had to put it back by a few weeks.

I know that will come as a blow to many readers who are waiting patiently to read it. However, there is a way to get your hands on a copy early. Want to know how? Then read on…

Want to get hold of It Never Was You before anyone else?
Click here to head to the campaign and grab the perk!

In order to give It Never Was You the launch it deserves, I’ve put together a crowd funding campaign on

indiegogo is a great place where all sorts of people from around the world are raising money for all kinds of concerns. From film makers trying to get their latest project off the ground to charities raising awareness of their cause, it’s full of inspiring stories and projects and well worth a browse.

Publishing the Cypress Branches trilogy is a labour of love for me, and it’s something I do without the aim of making a profit – in fact, I’ve ploughed a lot more money in than I’ve got out. The reason I do it is because I’m determined to see William’s work in print. That vision, and this project, costs money, and that’s where this campaign comes in.

Last year I was able to fund a print run and the beginnings of a marketing push for Pegasus Falling using my own funds before selling one book. This year, I was facing the possibility of having to launch It Never Was You without any funding available. Whilst I would have been able to launch the books by making them available as an ebook and via print-on-demand on Amazon, I would not have been able to distribute them to a wider audience. That would mean that I would not be able to supply the shops which stock Pegasus Falling with stocks of its sequel, or send copies to journalists, reviewers and bloggers. Not the best way to keep the momentum going! By creating this campaign, I should be able to give It Never Was You the push it deserves.

So why indiegogo? 

One of the great innovations of the site is something they call “perks”. Perks are rewards which people can claim in exchange for a contribution. Film makers provide anything from a DVD of their finished movie to the chance to go on set during filming. Charities offer a warm fuzzy feeling or priority booking on fundraising events.

I’ve made one of the perks of contributing to the Cypress Branches campaign being able to get your hands on an advance copy of It Never Was You. Depending on your budget (or your preference!) you can request an ebook or paperback copy as a perk, sent to you as soon as the files are ready / the books are printed in mid March, and before they appear on Amazon or in the shops. By grabbing one of these perks, you’ll get a copy at the same time as the review copies go out, and be amongst the first to read it.

It’s the perfect solution, I think. I can raise funds to ensure that I can give It Never Was You the perfect launch, and also make sure that all you lovely lot who have supported me over the past year or more get the chance to read the book sooner. (And enjoy the bragging rights!)

If you’re feeling generous and fancy treating yourself to an extra special perk, there is also the chance to own a copy with a personal handwritten note from me inside, or a rare copy of the hardback edition featuring the original manuscript we printed back in 2009 or even get your name added to the acknowledgements page.

Whatever way of contributing you choose, you can be sure that every penny raised will go towards getting William’s books into print. I’ve set the target at £2,000. This will pay for an initial print run of It Never Was You, a second run of Pegasus Falling and a big marketing push to get sales going.

The great thing is that we can keep raising money, even if we reach the target before the end of the campaign. If we can smash the target, I’ll plough all the extra money straight back into the project, starting work on Part Three of the trilogy as soon as possible.

If we don’t reach the target, I will still receive around 90% of the funds pledged (indiegogo raise their fees to 9% if you don’t reach your target). Whilst this would be less than ideal, it will still mean that I can go ahead with launching It Never Was You – but the print run may have to be postponed or curtailed and the marketing will be much scaled back. This would be sad. Let’s not think about it.

Spread the word…

The success of the campaign very much depends on how far we can spread the word. If you’d love to see William’s trilogy taking a significant step closer to completion, then please help get the word out there by heading to the campaign page and using the “share this campaign” tools. You can “Like” it on Facebook, send a tweet, do whatever you do on G+, share on your blog or website, send your friends an email or do all of the above, all from within the campaign. You can also post comments, check for updates and brag to your friends that you’re helping William get his books printed.

And the cool thing is that the more of us who share, the greater chance we have of raising the profile of the campaign on indiegogo itself! They use an algorithm which measures a campaign’s success and attributes it a “gogofactor”. The higher the gogofactor, the higher up the campaign goes in the listings, and the better chance it has of being spotted by others using the site.

I won’t be releasing any copies of It Never Was You to general buyers until the official launch date. The only way to get a copy before then is to contribute to the campaign and request the perk. Then you’ll not only get that warm fuzzy feeling from knowing you’re helping me get William’s books out there and into the hands of the audience we all know will love them, but you’ll also be able to read them before anyone else! Now there’s bragging rights!

Head to the campaign page now, grab your perk and get sharing! 

As ever, happy reading, everyone and thank you all for your continued support!


FIRST LOOK – It Never Was You cover images

Saturday was a very exciting day. It was the photo shoot for the images which will be used to create the cover of book two of the Cypress Branches trilogy – It Never Was You.

The day followed the same format as the previous shoot for Pegasus Falling‘s cover, gathering family and friends on a shoestring budget and having some fun with actors, period costumes and a camera. I am lucky enough to know some very skilled, very generous (and very patient) people who agreed to help me out, and must thank Geraldine Allen and Mark Godfrey for allowing themselves to be transformed into Mary and Harry (the two main characters in the second book) for the day, and once again to Rebecca Potter for her wonderful hair, make-up and 1940s styling prowess and to Dewi Clough for taking these very evocative shots.

There is a very simple theme running through the Cypress Branches covers – strong women. There is a series of strong female characters at the heart of the novels, and I thought it would be appropriate to highlight them on the covers. Lesley is depicted on the first cover, holding Sammy’s red paratrooper’s beret. The vivacious and charismatic Mary will adorn book two. I already know who will appear on book three, but I won’t spill the beans just yet.

It was a fun day and I think we’ve ended up with some very powerful images which we’ll be able to coax into a great cover artwork. Of course, the finished cover will look very different to these images (please ignore the backgrounds – they’ll be painted out). There’s a lot of work to do, but in the mean time, here’s a taster of the shots we managed to get in the can.



Ignore the backgrounds in these two pictures – they’ll be edited out!


What do you think? Is there a powerful book cover in here somewhere? Do you have a favourite? What do you think we should do with the images? There are plenty of ideas that I’m keen to play around with, but any suggestions or comments are always gratefully received…

A matter of Price and Death

What you charge for your ebook is a hot topic, a hot potato and a headache all in one.

And its a matter that I don’t take lightly. Throughout the last 6 months, I’ve read many authors’ and bloggers’ thoughts as I’ve gone through the process of making William’s work available in ebook form.

Pegasus Falling has been available at several price points since its launch in March. I launched it at a fairly respectable (in my then opinion) £1.49 / $1.99. Although this didn’t qualify it for the 70% royalty on the US price, it did represent (again, in my opinion), a good introductory price for those who would be interested in reading it.

However, as I read more into it, it looked like I might have been too eager, and evidence was pointing towards new authors having to price their work at rock bottom to start sales going. On the back of a story published in the Guardian back in February, I dropped the price to the minimum permissible on KDP – £0.75 / $0.99.

Sales started to pick up. This is without doubt partly down to us receiving some very positive reviews from early readers on Amazon and the intrepid and generous bloggers who have taken a punt on an unknown author. But it did appear that if people were seeking the book out, the low price was leading to an on-the-spot sale. After all, it’s less than a quid – where could you go wrong?

Then, as sales started to go slowly but surely upwards,  I started reading around again, and was worried that I was doing the novel an injustice by charging the bare minimum…

This interesting post from Catherine Ryan Howard helped seal my decision. Her argument seemed to ring true with what others were saying around the net – that you should try and price your work at a point where it is simultaneously a bargain and expensive enough not to look suspect. I could see the logic behind thinking that readers would be put off by a price that was too low – after all, you tend to get what you pay for, don’t you? And with me thinking it would be nice to earn 70% of £1.79 (£1.21) rather than 30% of £0.75 (£0.26) with each sale, and confident that sales figures would continue to rise and rise on the back of more and more positive reviews, so I made the changes.

I upped the price to £1.79 and $2.99 on all platforms. And, to be fair, sales continued for a week – albeit with Amazon discounting the book to start with, because they had been quicker to apply the new price, so were still price matching the dawdling Smashwords and Kobo.

But then, the worst thing possible happened. Sales slowed to a barely noticeable trickle. Despite the fact that more positive reviews continued to be posted, with each one, the anticipated flurry of sales failed to materialise. It was more like an occasional drip than a flurry – a lone snow flake blowing in the wind, not the blizzard I had been sure would happen.

So what went wrong? I had priced the book at a reasonable, yet still bargain basement price. But sales made for the opposite direction to where I’d hoped.

It took a while for it to sink in, but after arguably our best and most widely read review yet lead to one of the most lacklustre sales weeks we’ve had so far, I had to come to the conclusion that something was wrong with the price.

Promoting your book is all about making people care about it – they have to want to pick it up and read it. Reviews are one way of getting it seen, and Pegasus Falling has had universally good or excellent reviews. But, as I’ve discovered, that’s not enough to get people to reach into their virtual pockets and pay good money to read it.

The fact is that many people must have had a good look at Pegasus Falling online, but decided that $2.99 is still too much to fork out, seeing as they’ve never heard of the book before and besides, there are other books by other unknown writers out there which are being given away for free, or close to free. That barrier that goes up in a large proportion (whether its a majority or not, I still don’t know) of the reading population when they see a self-published book (or suspect it is) stops a lot of potential buyers from clicking “Add to cart”.

And after all, The Bridge aside, there are no other works of William’s available…for now. Until It Never Was You is released later in the year, he will remain a completely unknown author of only one major work, and people are wary of trying out anything new. 

Although the argument that a higher price will give your book more kudos amongst the reading public might be a very attractive one, I think it is flawed – certainly for the little or unknown author just starting out. Yes, I believe that Pegasus Falling is well worth the $2.99 price tag, but I can’t get passed the fact that at that price, it has sold nowhere near the numbers it has at $0.99.

And at the end of the day, it’s sales that matter at this stage. The more people read the book, the better. We have to make some money from the venture – bills need paying, after all, and yes, the royalties are far lower per unit at this price point – it takes almost five sales at $0.99 to make the same royalty as it does one sale at $2.99. But if your sales increase 10-fold, you win in two ways…you make more money, and more people read your books. 

So, the decision has been made to reduce the price back down to its minimum and the ebook is available on all platforms for £0.79 / £0.99. Whether it’ll be permanent or not, I don’t know, but it will be interesting to see if sales pick up and grow again.

One thing I’d say to other novice self-publishers is this. Although you know your book is amazing and people will love it when they read it, the general public don’t know that yet, and even if it tickles their fancy, they may not want to pay good money on an unknown quantity. Don’t run before you can walk. Although you know in your heart that your book is worth more, price it at a point which makes the most sales. Experiment, by all means – you may be luckier, and find that you can get away with a higher price – but don’t be scared to bring the price down again.

I’d be interested to hear what other authors / publishers experiences have been.

EDIT (4th September 2012): Well, since first writing this post, we’ve had another lacklustre month of sales. Perhaps it was the small matter of the world being distracted by elite sportsmen and women doing what they do best, or the fact that people just don’t buy books over the summer because they’re on the beach reading the ones they’ve already bought, but reducing the price to £0.99 made no difference at all.

And in the mean time, I’ve been talking to other indie authors about the subject. It seems there is no easy answer, but the $0.99 price point is no longer the silver bullet it once was. It’s too low for the book for serious readers to be take it seriously, and too high for those readers only after freebies to consider.

So once again, the price has changed. It’s back at $2.99 / £1.79. With Saturday’s exciting news that Pegasus Falling has been named a finalist in the Kindle Book Review’s Best Indie Books of 2012 contest, the accolades are starting to roll in, and I have to set the price at a point that matches the excellent response its getting from those who do read it.

Pegasus Falling is a serious book for serious readers and I feel that I have to stand by its quality. Others are, so why shouldn’t I?

Pegasus Falling is available now from,, Kobo & Smashwords

Well covered

It’s an obvious point to make really, but an important one. The front cover of a book can make or break it. In the days of old, the cover could mean the difference between picking a particular book up from the shelf and reading it and it languishing on the shelf, unloved, undiscovered and gathering dust.

In today’s world of online retail, it’s probably even more important that the cover stands out. You have to consider how it looks on screen, as well as on the shelf. Not only that, it must look good as a thumbnail as well as full-size.

It doesn’t matter how amazingly brilliant the content is, if the cover doesn’t “speak” to your audience, they won’t take a closer look. And I get the feeling that’s what’s happening with Pegasus Falling. Judging by the reviews, everyone who’s reading it is loving it, but I’ve felt that something is stopping people who are happening upon it by chance from picking it up, and I think it’s the cover.

Although I like the cover of Pegasus Falling, I’ve never felt 100% happy with it. The image, taken last summer by the talented photographer Dewi Clough with the help of a group of family and friends, is powerful and striking. But somehow, I felt that I haven’t been able to do it justice.

Out with the old – the original cover design

I’m no graphic designer – and I’ve never pretended to be. I’m operating on the tightest of budgets and can’t afford to hire one. So, I’ve put the cover together using Photoshop Elements and Publisher. I haven’t just thrown myself in to the project blind, though. At all stages of the design, I consulted book covers – hundreds of them – to see what worked and what didn’t, and have tried to emulate them. 

Oddly, the photo we settled on wasn’t the one we were going for, and was taken right at the end of the day as we were trying other ideas. We took this snap not really knowing what we were aiming for – we felt that we’d already got our shot in the bag and were just playing around, really. But it ended up our best shot, but that lack of planning is what’s lead to the problems with the cover. (A look at some of the other photos we took that day would make a good post – I’ll put one together soon.)

With the release of Pegasus Falling in the US last month, I decided to try and tweak the cover artwork to see if I couldn’t give it that killer “look”. I tried to highlight the text more, and took off a grain effect which was supposed to age the picture, but when printed just looked like it was pixelated.

The new, improved CreateSpace cover…better, but still not quite there

But the more I looked at the proof, the less I liked it. There was still something not quite right about it, and I’ve spent the last two days tinkering further with the design. 

I’ve been looking over other book covers, both mainstream and indie, and noted down what works and what doesn’t, and fixed upon two problems with our cover.

Firstly, the image is too dark. Colours on covers of literary and historical fiction books, I’ve noted, tend to be bleak and washed out wit the occasional splash of a single colour. I wanted to keep the motif of the red beret against the black and white background, but experimented with washing out the colours in photoshop.

Secondly, the text was all wrong. Everything from the font and the colour to the size and its position was all plain wrong. It felt tacky…not the impression I was going for! A problem with this image is that it takes up the entire cover – there aren’t many spaces to fit in the graphics – no dead space to fill with words. If we were taking the photo again, I’d re-frame it to take this in to account, but that’s not an option, so I’ve had to work with what we’ve got.

But the biggest difference has been changing the font. I used Lucida Bright before, a respectable classic typeface, but still too heavy. Now, I’ve gone for Trajan Pro – the graphic designer’s favourite. And there’s a reason for that. It works. Scale down the title and author name, fit both on one line each, place them both within the darker space under the hands at the bottom, remove the gold colour and hey presto, I think we’re on to a winner.

Finally, I think I’m happy with the cover. It may not be a design classic, and a graphic designer undoubtedly could do better, but I like it. It’s more sophisticated, somehow.

In with the new – the sophisticated look

And this time, I’m putting it to bed. It’s time I moved my attention fully over to It Never Was You. You can be sure I’ll have learned a lot of lessons from what I’ve gone through designing this one, and they’ll all be implemented for Part 2. I just hope I can get it right first time, next time. 

Come Monday, the new files will be uploaded to Nielsen, CreateSpace and the ebook retailers and that will be that for Pegasus Falling – no more changes! The paperback will not be available to buy for a day or two while it goes through the review process, so if you want to get hold of a copy with the original artwork, get in there quick (after all, there aren’t too many out there with that artwork, so although its inferior, you may find yourself with a collectable in years to come!)

So, what do you think of the new design? Is it an improvement? Was I right to make the changes? Let me know by leaving your comments below.

Happy reading,

Coming to America!

Last week, Pegasus Falling “landed” in the United States in paperback.

To mark the occasion, Melissa hosted a guest post I wrote on her There For You blog introducing Sammy, the main character. To get to know Sammy, and also read an exclusive extended extract from the book, head over to Melissa’s blog by clicking here

To celebrate the release of the book across the pond, we’re giving you the chance to win one of five copies of the paperback. If you’d like to be in with a chance of winning, head over to and enter the giveaway. 

Hurry, the giveaway closes on 20th July.

Good luck, and happy reading!

Pegasus Falling is available now to buy in paperback for $13.99 from