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Happy All Over

Getting a rave review from a reader is what makes life worth living for many an author but this is my first ‘six star’ write-up!

The Tale Of Findo Gask is currently on promotion and I wasn’t expecting to see any new reviews yet but had a look at the Amazon page to check the book’s sales ranking.

So my jaw dropped to read the following from James Coyle in Vanuatu:

“I’d never heard of this author before until I picked up a free copy of this book. It was absolutely outstanding and is one of the best I’ve read since I purchased my Kindle Reader last year. If I could give it 6 stars I would! As an author of 28 books of my own on Kindle I automatically search for typos and errors. If there were any I didn’t find them.”

James, I know we’ve never met before but you’re my new best friend! Thank you for downloading and I’m delighted you loved the book as much as I enjoyed writing it.

And if anyone else wants to see why James was so impressed, Findo is free for the rest of today and all day tomorrow from:

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

Recommended Reading

Glancing back through the library on my Kindle the other day, I suddenly spotted a book I’d downloaded as a freebie many months ago.

It wasn’t on my ‘to review’ list but as soon as I saw Welcome To The Underworld, I knew that I had to give it a plug.

I’ve read a lot of books since I got my Kindle a year ago and this one really stands out.

It’s basically four, linked short stories. What made them special for me was the gentle, humorous style and the way that I was so quickly drawn into an imaginary version of Ancient China.

Put quite simply, I just thought this was beautiful storytelling and I really hope that Ian Rowan does one day complete the story of Dao Shi.

I’ve also reviewed two other more recent reads – one of which I really enjoyed and one that other reviewers have raved about but didn’t quite do it for me.

The reviews are on the Latest Reviews page. As well as Amazon’s US and UK sites, I’ve also started posting reviews on Goodreads.

Proof why proofreading matters

Oh, dear. A few days ago I was blogging about the importance of proofreading. (Yeah, yeah, you say with a yawn.)

That’s right. We all know proofreading is important. Everyone bangs on about it. But here’s a lesson in why.

My novel, The Vault,  just got a new review on Amazon. This is an extract:

In addition to the main story of crime and murder, there is teenage angst, first love, bullying, a dark and menacing side with a character preying on children. There is a broken marriage and even some little hint of racial prejudice.

Pretty good so far, eh? Well, it gets better:

On the face of it that would seem to be too much for one book to hold but Huw Thomas skilfully packs all these into an enjoyable, thrilling and enthralling read that is at times unputtdownable.

Wow. Just what an author wants to read. High praise indeed. But here’s the killer:

I would have loved to give this book five stars but it is let down slightly by editing and proof reading glitches which is a shame.

End result is reviewer Diane Dickson only gave The Vault a four-star rating. Not bad but five stars would have been so much better. I can’t blame her. As a reader, I know sloppy editing can be really annoying.

So, fellow authors, the moral is don’t be slack. Skimping on the proofreading will come back and bite you. (Funny isn’t it, I mentioned the dangers of people in glass houses throwing stones when I was writing about this last time. Now it looks as if I’m going to have to sort out a revised edition of The Vault!)

New reviews

Just time for a quick post – been spending the day taking out a kitchen sink and stripping down a wooden worktop. Not quite the kind of creativity I wanted to fill my day with but sometimes life takes over…

Anyway, I have added two more book reviews to my list: Convictions by Julie Morrigan and Enchantress by James Maxwell.

Different but both good reads. I’ve set up a new page for my Latest Reviews.

Hopefully I’ll have a bit more to say for the next post and not spending all my time on DIY!

Doing my bit

All authors want reviews so I thought it only fair I should start writing some myself.

I’ve just added a new Reviewing page to the blog – with my thoughts on three very different books:

The Stolen Crown is a story of romance and intrigue set in pre-Tudor England, Mongol Rally is the non-fiction account of an amazing road trip and Only The Truth a folksy tale of what happens when a mysterious young woman turns up in a small Arkansas town.

At the moment I’ve got a backlog of reviews to write – books I’ve read on Kindle over the past few months that have impressed me for one reason or another. I’ll also post my reviews onto Amazon (UK & US sites).

I’m not going to write long critiques – just whatever it takes to convey what I think are the key points for potential readers.

Once I’ve caught up with this backlog, I’ll decide whether to open this blog to review requests or just review those books that take my fancy. In the meantime, I hope my reviews are of interest – and if you’ve read something good don’t forget to post a review somewhere!

Grit your teeth

Publishing a book is an emotional experience. After months, sometimes years of work, your creation is suddenly pushed out into the world… where anyone and everyone can now read it.

All authors want readers. I love writing. The process is (mainly) pleasure. Give me a keyboard or a pad and pen and I can have hours of fun coming up with ideas, playing with words and making up stories.

Ultimately though, I want to create stories that others can enjoy. That’s the real point of the process: to spin a tale, put across ideas, entertain… and provoke a reaction.

The trouble is, reading is such a subjective experience and what one person loves, another may think is dreadful. Which is why putting my work out via Amazon has meant pain as well as pleasure.

Thin Ice is the third novel I’ve published via Kindle. Thankfully, my first review was four stars and pretty positive (once I’d sorted out an initial formatting problem). Reviewer Willie Wit described the story as “clever and entertaining”.

It was a good start and just got better – three five star reviews followed – with a reader called Elaine G described Thin Ice as “a very cleverly crafted crime thriller with a difference, absolutely gripping from start to finish”.

‘Oh joy’, I thought, ‘everyone loves my work’. Then I put the book on a five day free promotion and was even happier when I suddenly had thousands of copies being downloaded.

Then came my first one star review and a two star review – from one reviewer who thought my characters so cliched and badly drawn that they gave up, and another who gave up because they were confused by the number of characters. (I really don’t understand that as by my reckoning there are eight ‘main’ characters and maybe a dozen more minor characters.)

For a moment, depression kicked in… ‘I’m terrible, I might as well give up now!’

Luckily, I was able to remember the good reviews on Amazon.co.uk – and the fact that Thin Ice also got a very positive write-up the US review website LL Book Review, which described it as “an entertaining, complex story”.

I guess that’s the downside of pushing my baby out into the wide world. Not everyone out there is going to like it. It’s just a case of gritting my teeth and hoping that the positive reviews continue to outweigh the negative.

So… if you’ve read Thin Ice and enjoyed it… please help keep the scales tipping the right way by adding your thoughts. Thank you.

Want a free read?

This whole e-book publishing world is quite new to me so I’m taking it a step or two at a time.

Having got my first books out there on Amazon – and picked up some very nice reviews – the next stage is to try and raise the profile of my novels.

Which is why I’m looking for more reviewers to help spread the word.

I’ve got three novels available and I’m offering 10 copies of each on a first-come, first-served basis. I can send copies in various formats – .epub, .mobi etc – that should work with most types of e-readers. All I ask in return is that if you like the book you post a review on Amazon and any other forums/sites that you use.

For more information about each book, click on the links for Findo Gask if you want to read about how a young boy born into poverty becomes a master thief, Thin Ice for a thriller about a young journalist who wakes in hospital to find that his perfect life doesn’t exist anymore and that there’s a serial killer stalking young women…

Or The Vault for a story of childhood drama, hidden secrets and murder – published in aid of the disaster relief charity ShelterBox.