Saturday, 21 December 2013

Uneven play field on Amazon balanced by tax laws.

The benefits of joining Amazon.com as opposed to your own countries are quite significant. You can buy kindle books from different countries sites and save money, and you can send kindle books as gifts, which is lucrative for American authors, not that I am having a go at fellow writers in the US of course, but the ways of Amazon are bizarre to say the least.
A link back to your own country's site instead of a 'Buy with 1 Click' button, and no 'Send as a gift' button either.
According to a colleague across the way her Christmas sales increase whereas mine will be under the thousand monthly sales total for the first time ever since I published last May.

It is of course swings and roundabouts though as being a Brit ex-pat my royalties are only taxed by the Philippines, but US ex-pat authors are taxed twice, by the US as well as the country of residence.

Friday, 20 December 2013

Monday, 9 December 2013

Excerpt: Volume 3 'Fight Through'

Excerpt: Volume 3

   “Mister President, those men and women are outnumbered fifty to one, they have fought and held this long despite the inadequate equipment and war stocks their governments provided them to do the job, and the fact that they are about to be over run, and where the blame lies for that, is no fault of theirs.”
A pin could have been heard dropping in the seconds that followed, and Terry Jones was not alone in realising a line had just been crossed. The President had been questioning whether there was fault in the ability of the men and women in uniform at the battlefront, but the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs had laid the blame squarely at the door of government.
The Joint Chiefs are free to criticise the Chief Executive, but on a one to one basis behind closed doors, not in front of onlookers even if they were on the staff.
The President became very still, and his eyes narrowed a fraction as he looked at his top soldier. Henry met the President’s gaze and held it calmly in the knowledge that if he were to be relieved now it would matter not one iota.
The President broke the silence.
   “A simple yes or no would have sufficed, General.”
    Henry went on to outline what they believed the enemy would do once they achieved a breakout.
   “We expect the Third Shock Army to head for Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Zeebrugge and Antwerp, with their Sixth Shock Army following on behind through the breach and to then swing south west for the French ports. What remains of Second Shock and Tenth Tank army will probably hook left and right to roll up the rest of our lines. These are their last, first class outfits and they about used up their second-class units in keeping up the pressure on us and trying to force the rivers up to this point in time. Which leaves third class units to assist in the mopping up, whilst the fourth class…those manned by troops in their forties and early fifties, will in all probability be used to secure the lines of communication.”
   The President had rested his elbows on the table before him, and his hands were clasped together, the fingers entwined and he rested his chin on the spire they formed.
   “What, may I ask, does General Allain intend to do about that?” The President followed on before Henry could answer. “There is just a cobbled together, infantry heavy division sat in the way of god knows how many tanks so does he honestly believe that will hold them until our new Corps arrives on the scene?” with that he sat upright and raised a coffee mug to his lips while he waited for the answer.
Henry responded with four words.
With a snort that sent coffee splashing across the papers in front of him, the President choked in mid swallow. An aide hurried over and began mopping up the spilt coffee before him, and the President coughed whilst fishing out a handkerchief and dabbing at a growing stain on his shirt. Leaning to one side to see past the charring aide he stared at Henry.
   “What?”
   “He’s going to attack.” Henry Shaw repeated.
The President knew what forces were in Germany, and so he had to ask himself, and Henry, if SACEUR had taken leave of his senses.
   “General Allain is quite sane Mr President; he is just faced with desperate choices at a desperate time.”
Turning back to the screen Henry continued his explanation by highlighting two NATO units sat slightly to the rear of their own lines and at either side of the expected breach.
“These two units, the 2nd Canadian Mechanised Brigade and the French 8th Armoured Brigade, are currently in hide positions and have been brought up to strength as far as possible as regard reinforcements and supplies. Once the lead enemy manoeuvre units have passed through the breach they will close it behind them, sealing the breach.”
   “General?” The President was pointing the end of a pen towards the screen.
   “If memory serves, that Canadian unit was over a hundred miles away two days ago and holding a section of the line to the north, and the French brigade was a lot further south, so who is in those positions now?”
   “The King Alfonso XIII Light Infantry Legion Brigade relieved the Canadians in place thirty hours ago, and the Lusitania Light Armoured Cavalry Regiment took over from the French 8th Armoured about this time yesterday. They are both Spanish rapid reaction units and as such carry little in the way of excess baggage so the move took very little time.”
The President was about to ask another question, clearly surprised that these moves and the Spanish units involved had not previously been even hinted at. He wasn’t certain that the Spanish units in question were even under SACEUR’s control. However, General Shaw had already turned away.
The map on the big screen panned back to encompass the south of Europe and the UK. Blue parachute symbols were clustered about the locations of airfields far from the fighting.
   “Tomorrow morning at 0300hrs GMT, elements of the Belgian, Turkish, Greek, Spanish and Italian airborne forces, along with three battalions of the 82nd and the British 1st and 2nd Parachute battalions will drop into occupied Germany to attack enemy airfields and supply lines.”
Henry paused before finishing and looked at all the faces peering from him to the screen.
   “This is a one shot deal and there will be no reinforcement or re-supply.”
The President sat listening with raised eyebrows as Henry spoke, and when he had finished the President looked around the table.
   “Why is it that this is first that I have heard of it? Why haven’t any of the European leaders spoken to me about this? Why General, was I not consulted?”
Henry gave him that answer.
   “I think you will find sir that General Allain felt that the other leaders would only have seen it as throwing good money after bad, and would have wanted to preserve those forces for the defence of their own borders. He may also have felt that by consulting you sir, it would have put you in an awkward position.”
   “No shit.” The President replied with much irony, and then as another thought occurred to him his brows knotted together in confusion.
   “So how did he get those airborne units, General?”
   “He didn’t consult the national leadership’s sir.”
Henry answered.
   “Only the Generals’.”
Andy Farman @ Goodreads
Andy's Amazon page.

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Write about what you know, research what you do not.

Write about what you know, research what you do not.

Incorporate some of your experiences into your writing, preferably the humour of the moment but definitely nothing that could be of the 'I guess you had to be there' variety, so testing it out first is a good idea.

I had regular dealings with a certain famous theatre which was run largely by eccentric former, failed, or 'resting' Thespians of the Royal Shakespeare Company. There was no obvious structure to the management and much was done by verbal agreement, and much was done by unspoken agreement. I could go down there and show my warrant card at reception every day of the week and it would be a different receptionist (the daughter/niece of a minor sponsor) so I would have the same conversation.
"Is the Director or the Operations manager available?"
"What is it about?"
"A confidential operation."
"What is that?"
"It's confidential, sorry."
"Did you ring for an appointment?"
"No."
"Why not?"
"Because the matter is confidential."
Eventually I would get the Front of House Manager, or the Music Director, or once even the Head of Procurement (Catering), but I would eventually get someone with their own assigned parking space outside. The parking spaces were interesting as they swapped owners frequently because poor role performance was not grounds for sacking, merely a move. The Head of a Productions at the time of a poorly received play would be parking in the Head of Props bay for a while. I am sure you get the hang of how it was there.
"The Queen is coming to watch your opening night of Hamlet." and I would at that time then be able to get on with the initial organisational meeting with the SPOC (Single Point of Contact) if this was any other organisation of course, but they would discuss amongst themselves who was best to deal with the visit. 'Felicity from Accounting' was a frequent proposal. Felicity had not the first clue about Royal protocols, counter terrorism, Emergency Egress (bug-out routes) or possess any practical organisational skills, Felicity could not even count very well, but it was 'her turn' and of course she was so-and-so's daughter/niece, a major sponsor.
My shaking head was usually the sign that Felicity, no doubt a charming girl, was not the ideal first choice of the security forces of the United Kingdom.
Emergency Egress Routes were often misconstrued by former Shakespearean actors (now in management) and I can only presume that is was due to the absence of the word 'Emergency' in Billy's writings.
"What would be your suggestion of the fastest route from the Royal Box to ground level?" I once asked.
"That would be this way." and I followed the elected SPOC along several corridors and through several locked doors to the Green Room on the next floor up.
"We have just acquired this rather nice water colour, donated by a sponsor." would be the explanation "She would no doubt appreciate it in passing."
"No." I would reply.
"But she likes water colours!"
"No, you are thinking of Prince Charles, and no she would not see it as her personal protection officer will have thrown her across one shoulder and be moving at as near to a sprint as he can manage."

I did once have Felicity from Accounting as a SPOC but that was not because I had any say in the matter. It was not a VIP visit but it was one of great importance to the theatre.
She telephoned me at work one day.
"We want to kick off the theatre year next week on Shakespeare's birthday. So we are having Cleopatra's royal barge row up from Westminster and deposit her at the steps to be met by Mark Antony, is that okay?"
"How many rowers and what time are you going to be arriving at Westminster?"
"Four, and 9am to set up, why, is there a problem?"
"Does the barge have an engine?"
"No, just the willing lads from 'Props' and 'Scenery'.
"Well there are two things actually, the first is that it is a spring tide that morning and your rowers will probably be exhausted or still trying manfully as they catch sight of the Theatre Royal at Windsor...." (20 miles upriver)
"Oh.."
"And that day is the day of the London Marathon, so you would need to be in place at Westminster Pier at 2am at the latest before the road closures go in."
Google is a great research tool, but I suspect Billy did not Google much either.

My next book will be a comedy but I have to think of some way to manufacture two similar incidents into it.

Andy's Amazon page.
Andy @ Goodreads

Advertising....don't get me started on advertising!

Getting it out there:

I had a disagreement with Facebook on their stupid policy regarding the amount of text allowed in an advertising poster which led to some research and a useful discovery.

As I have previously stated, if you advertise with FB you should only target your book page, be it Amazon or whoever you use. You can use this to get 'Likes' for your FB page like some attention hungry teenager, but as an author you will go hungry, literally. 'Likes' do not pay the bills.

Go on to FB and search 'Advertise on Facebook', this will link you to the process. Target your countries and audience carefully, do not 'shotgun-and-hope-for-the-best'.
IGNORE the option to post your advert in the newsfeed but SELECT 'Right hand column' as this is where 80% of 'clicks' to my Amazon page originated.
I only advertised for seven days and it cost me $50 to reach 209,566 members and I received an average 170 daily clicks to my Amazon page. Whether anyone actually bought a book remains to be seen, but there you have it. The right hand column ads work much better than news feed ads.

Of course, you need to post an eye catching ad too, but I can't help you there.

Best of luck