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Thursday, 2 June 2016

Book Review 'The Ashes of London'

The Ashes of LondonThe Ashes of London by Andrew  Taylor

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Andrew Taylor can certainly write. He knows how to research too. The end result is a novel well worth reading. Taylor also writes modern thrillers and he knows how to pare down a plot and make it full of surprises. There is a neat surprise right at the end of this novel.

'The Ashes of London' begins with London burning in the great fire of 1666. Soon we reading about the personal problems of James Marwood and Catherine Lovett and how they become entangled with King Charles II's hunt for the last of the regicides who killed his father.

There is plenty of good period detail but Taylor does err on the man's life as nasty brutish and short side of historical writers. I wish he had included a brief bibliography to help readers find out more about the Fifth Monarchists and the regicides. But there is enough in the novel to allow readers to understand what the Dissenters and regicides were up to.

My only problem was that the main characters are not likeable. Catherine is peculiar and James rather feeble and running scared of problems with his father and the Fifth Monarchists. It is understandable that James should be scared of the consequences, but he was bit of a drip at times.

Niggles apart Andrew Taylor writes a darned good historical mystery with a cracking climax and a great plot. Fans of the historical mystery genre would enjoy 'The Ashes of London'.




View all my reviews

The Book Blast - 5 days of PR

Seems to me that writers need a lot of PR sales help and advice. 1've posted my Promotion results in several places where other readers can access it. Now I'll tuck them in here to help with October's sles push
THE PLAN
Kindle countdown deal for 5 days, our novels reduces to 99 cents then rising to 1.99 and back to the original price of 3.99
Beginning Wednesday, May11th 2016 finished Sunday, May 15th
BOOKS ON PROMOTION
Kindle versions of ‘Tizzie’ and The Effects Of Henry’s Cage: Elean’s Story’
The reason I ran the two books was to see the difference in sales between my book, which had an Amazon rating of 4.3 and eleven reviews and my writer colleague’s just launched novel. We both expected that my sales would be far better because I could advertise at most of the book sites which sent out newsletter to their readers. Very few book sites accepted a new novel, most only take novels with at least five 5 star reviews and a star rating of 4.
2
PREPARATION FOR THE CAMPAIGN.
During April I sent out regular blog posts, tweeted about the campaign, posted on Goodreads in various groups which allowed an author to advertise, and posted a note on the home page on my author’s website.I spread the news verbally too, and wherever online I could find.
DAY 1, Wednesday May11th 2016
1
Announced the opening of the promotion via Google Plus, Linked In, Twitter, Pinterest, Goodreads, my personal blog and website.
I used a front page promo on the ReadersintheKnow.com website where I have an author’s page. My colleague had a front page announcement on AskDavid.com.
2.
Each day I had organised promotions for our books in book sites which sent out email newsletters
BOOK PROMOTION AND NEWSLETTERS: WEDNESDAY BOOK SITES
http://www.ebooksoda.com would not accept a newly launched novel, but did accept mine and made a good job of a place on the website and in their newsletter. Nice clear website without overcrowding of the book covers.
http://www.thefussylibrarian.com is harder to get into. It did accept my novel and made a good job of the newsletter, the book on their site, and offered an author webpage.
www.readersintheknow.co.uk accepted both books and did a good book of the day advert and place in the newsletter. The site offers a good author page and useful perks.
www. http://readingdeals.com Here we went for the free promotion version and did not get a place. However as there are over 50,000 readers, the website is a good clear one and the newsletter well produced I think it might be a site worth using.
https://choosybookworm.com, again the free version of a promotion is a lucky dip and we did not succeed. It might be worth paying as the newsletter is good.
http://www.freebookshub.co.uk/authors Again a nice, clean, easy to see website, with a good promotion of the novel. I missed seeing the newsletter.
RESULTS.
Kindle Sales were 110 which was great. The promotion had worked.
DAY 2, Thursday May 12th
1.
Put a sale reminder on Google Plus, Linked In, Twitter, my personal blog and website.
My colleague had a front page promo on the ReadersintheKnow.com website where she has an author’s page. I had a front page announcement on AskDavid.com.
2
I set up the Indiesunlimited.com Thrifty Thursdays e-book sale for both books.
3.
BOOK PROMOTION AND NEWSLETTERS: THURSDAY BOOK SITES
http://www.peoplereads.com provided a good clear website coverage of both books and promoted both novels in their newsletter.
http://askdavid.com is a little different but well worth using. Their promotion is for 6 months. They have a very good website, promote the author and book very well at the site, you even have to write a special unique blurb for them, and they supply you with promotion on their Twitter book site. They also give the author fifteen special tweets to use. Their twitter site is specifically for their signed up readers.
http://www.worldliterarycafe.com I found their website too busy and with too many ads. Missed the newsletter too.
http://www.thekindlebookreview.net..This is not a bad site but a little expensive for what they give which is only the same as the other sites. Also my serious historical novel was promoted as a romance which the site seemed to favour.
http://www.freebookdude.com gave a one month sidebar but the site was a little crowded and the book covers smaller than on other sites.
RESULTS.
Kindle Sales were 129 which was great. Also by this time my novel, ‘Tizzie’, had risen in the ranks:
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,320 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
    #78 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Historical Fiction
    #133 in Books > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction > Historical
This meant more Amazon PR for the novel.
My colleague had sold 3 books.

DAY 3, FRIDAY May 13th
1.
Put a sale reminder on Google Plus, Goodreads, Twitter, my personal blog and website.
2.
BOOK PROMOTION AND NEWSLETTERS: FRIDAY BOOK SITES

http://www.freebookshub.com/authors Not a bad site but it did put my book up as Free which it was not. Didn’t see the newsletter.
http://ebookshabit.com We went for the free ads and missed. It would be worth the $10 fee because it is a good clear site and has a good newsletter.
http://awesomegang.com Not bad but only 7,000 readers.
http://www.blackcaviar-bookclub.com This was an interesting site which did a good webpage spread and newsletter.
RESULTS.
The Kindle Countdown promotion had now raised the price to $1.99, so sales dropped to 19 and my colleague had 2 sales. The Amazon rankings for my novel, ‘Tizzie’, went to 88 in the top selling 100 kindle historical novels. However that still meant promotion from Amazon.

DAY 4, SATURDAY May 14th
1
Chatted about the promotion and sales on Google Plus, Goodreads, Twitter, my personal blog and website
2
BOOK PROMOTION AND NEWSLETTERS: SATURDAY BOOK SITES
http://www.ebookbargainsuk.com I hoped for better UK sales from here. It is an interesting and expensive site to use, which only send out a newsletter and does not showcase books on  its website.
http://www.goodkindles.net did a good job with a nice webpage and newsletter coverage. This site had an enormous number of readers and I thought was worth paying for.
RESULTS.
The Kindle Countdown promotion had now raised the price to $1.99, so sales dropped to 11 and my colleague had 1 sale. My Saturday morning amazon rating was now:
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,429 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
    #90 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Historical Fiction
    #144 in Books > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction > Historical
Also, thanks to the AskDavid.com promotion, I received 24 tweets and retweets about Tizzie from people I did not follow but who were linked to the AskDavid.com site, and from a couple of Tweet book sites. Good coverage for me as an author even if the sales had dropped.

DAY 5 SUNDAY MAY 15TH
1.
Chatted about the promotion and sales on Goodreads, Twitter, my personal blog and website
2.
BOOK PROMOTION AND NEWSLETTERS: : SUNDAY BOOK SITES
http://www.booksends.com This works like a cheaper version of Bookbub and works in a similar fashion. Well worth the fee as there are many readers but again you have to be accepted.
http://ereadernewstoday.com Another very good site, expensive and works like bookbub and has a large number of readers.
RESULTS.
The Kindle Countdown promotion had now raised the price to the normal price of $3.99, so sales dropped to 11. The Amazon rankings for my novel, ‘Tizzie’, went to 98 and 99 in the top selling 100 kindle historical novels. However that still meant promotion from Amazon and I had raised my mana (prestige) at Amazon for a short while. I do not know if they store such information and that makes me a ‘noted’ author. It would be nice to think they did!
CONCLUSIONS
Was the promotion worth it? I certainly covered my costs in sales, but not by a large amount. The sales have dribbled on in ones and twos since the promo.
My followers on Twitter shot up, my profile on Amazon shot up, my books received a lot of attention, my website and blog were visited. I learned where best, for my serious historical novels, to find promotion. I found a lot of sites promote free books only or give them priority, and quite a few sites are heavy on Romance. Certainly the sites with a big readership and a good newsletter produced results. This was clearly shown as far as sales for my colleague went. She could not promote her books in at the sites with newsletters and only sold a total of 9 books. Obviously the first thing an author must do is get those reviews and the star rating then they can start promoting for sales. Overall most of our sales were in the USA, with a few in the UK and Australia.
    Would I do all the work again? Yes I would.With Amazon publishing over 3 million books a year we authors need to get out there and market our books. I shall be doing a major promotion like this at the end of the year, but it won't be a kindle Countdown. I know the Kindle Select programme allows you a few dollars if readers read your book - so much per page - but I think I should be getting more UK/EUopean sales and will just have a five day 99cents/pence sale I thnik next time.

p.d.r. lindsay