Friday, 20 June 2014

Brief Update and Discounts

 Am I ready to publish anything new? No. Why not? Serious health problems continue to dominate my life at this moment in time, so much so that at particularly low ebbs I wonder if I'll ever be well enough to  regain my writing mojo. I do hope so. Watch this space.

In the meantime I offer some discount codes to try and tempt anyone who might not be familiar with my brand of slightly kinky, but rather lovely gay romance fiction.  ;-)

Visit my Smashwords page:
Smashwords Discount coupons:
40 % off Spanking Dee-Dee. The code is: EC36F
50 % off Deadlines. The code is: HH55L
50% off The Jack and Danny Chronicles. The code is: AA45D
30% Moving On. The code is: NN76G
50% off Out Of Tune. The code is: VH26H

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Read An Ebook Week 2014

It’s that time of the year again: The Smashwords big promo event for read an Ebook week. Pop along to Smashwords to pick up some bargains. The event runs from the 2nd to the 8th of March 2014.

Discounts range from FREE to up to 75% off. For readers, it’s a fantastic opportunity to try new genres and new authors at a great price. Smashwords has a good selection of GLBT titles and also BDSM, spanking and discipline stories.

My own gay romance books are enrolled in the event and most are marked down to 50% off with a few freebies thrown in.

Try something new today.

Happy Spring Everyone!

Similar discounts have also been applied to my works at All Romance Ebooks and Amazon Kindle titles too. Check them out.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Update to 'Authors Have Feelings Too.'

Thank you to all who posted comments on my ‘Authors Have Feelings Too’ post. I appreciate the kind words of support. I feel I owe you an update.

Last year was a tough year for me on several fronts. My confidence did take a serious knock and hasn’t yet fully recovered. To add to my demoralisation sales of my books have slowed to the point of inertia, as I haven’t produced anything new and in order to stay ahead you have to keep churning out the goods.  I have never been able to handle the conveyor belt method of production.

More and more people have now jumped aboard the indie self-publishing bandwagon, including mainstream publishers who at first scorned it and declared it to be a passing fad. It is now very difficult to get yourself noticed so to speak, especially if you don’t have a big advertising budget. Some of the ebook retail sites, not satisfied with taking a meaty chunk of commission from every single sale, have gotten a wee bit greedy IMHO and have shoved their ad rates through the roof and beyond the pockets of mere indie mortals such as myself.

It seems to me that the day of the true indie author may already be in decline. It was a short-lived reign. Things will go back as they once were with agents and big publishers cornering and controlling the market and calling the shots on what, and who, will be published. I’d love to be wrong. Indie self-publishers have been unfairly castigated and condemned as bringing low quality porn into the marketplace. They have also brought more diversity than has ever been seen and introduced entire new genres to scores of readers.

Anyway, leaving aside publishing politics, to cap it all I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease in November last year and am still struggling to cope with the repercussions on both my physical and mental health. I’m also suffering from deteriorating vision due to an as yet unspecified cause, so visits to the hospital seem to take up a good deal of time.

Let’s take a moment to be upbeat, instead of a bloody moaning old misery, and say that I am trying to get back into the writing zone. I want to finish The Postcard series and pen other stories too. I’m trying to discard the notion that high sales are the only mark of success and that reviews (aka personal opinions) somehow matter in the great scheme of things. I’ve accepted that I will never be able to make a living from writing as such, and that’s okay. Writing is about the joy of words, the pleasure of creating characters and taking them on a journey.

So, in between hospital visits and chronic fatigue I hope the muse will be able to pencil in a date to visit and inspire me once again. It would be nice to have the words flowing out again instead of having them crawling like a geriatric slug. Fingers crossed! :-) Take care everyone. 

Fabian Black

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Spot The Cat Contest - Win Two Ebooks

I have recently revised and re-issued Winter Pink Skies and also the Phin and Adam stories: Burdens and Riding With The Wind. They both have gorgeous new cover art.

If you would like to win a copy of each of these revised editions then visit my contest page and Spot The Cat! It's so easy.  Go on, be a devil, you know you want to: Spot The Cat!

Kingfisher Sunday - Not M/M Romance

Ester Phillips writes period piece family saga fiction - stories set in the 1950’s and 1960’s.

Most of the ‘Days Gone By’ stories focus on the Mitchell’s and the Archer’s, two families whose paths are destined to cross. The stories chart the lives, times and domestic adventures of the Mitchell and Archer children and their parents and families.

Kingfisher Sunday introduces the Mitchell's, Thomas and Evelyn. It's September 1951 and Thomas and Evie are about to become parents for the second time. Evie's joy at the birth of her son is marred by the apparent indifference of her husband. Thomas is still mourning the loss of his beloved daughter Jane and feels he cannot bond with another child. Will he be able to overcome his reserve and give his son a place in his heart?

Read an Excerpt here: Kingfisher Sunday

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Rainbow's End

I was sorry to hear that the Rainbow Ebook Store is to cease trading at the end of this month. I liked the idea of a store dedicated to GLBT fiction. I also used to like 1Place For Romance Ebooks, but that also went out of business. It’s sad when the smaller more personal ventures fail while the big ‘faceless’ corporations go on and on. Good luck to the folks at Rainbow and thanks for giving it a try. It was a nice idea.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Authors Have Feelings Too

Q: when is a review not a review?
A: when it’s a tirade of abuse.

I recently removed some titles from the Amazon Kindle Store.


Because of some of the reviews attached to them

Aw come on, most authors get bad reviews now and again, you’ve just got to take it on the chin.

I agree. Bad reviews are part and parcel of the book business, and more especially of the ebook business because of the instant ability to publish comments on something just read. Authors have to grow a thick skin to some extent. Not everyone can like the same thing. For every reader that hates your book there might be a dozen or more who love it. The sad thing is that the one who hates it might be the only one who bothers to write a review. ;-)

In some cases I’ve learned from what initially seemed a negative review - and that’s when a bad review can become a good review. In a few instances the writer of an unfavourable review has given me an insight into an aspect of a story that I missed at the time of writing it. It’s made me think: ‘wow, yes, I get their point, yeah, I can see why that might not have worked for them, how did I miss that, and so on.’ A ‘good’ bad review is one that gives you a fresh ‘editorial’ eye. It spurs you on to do better.

A review has to tell other readers something about a book or story. It has to give a clue as to content, but without giving away essential aspects of the story. Of course it’s also about the reviewer’s reaction to the story and characters, whether they liked it or not, why it didn’t work for them. Reviews on the whole are just personal opinions. Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion. I have no problem with well-expressed opinions even if they are not especially in my favour.

However, when opinion takes the form of empty abusiveness then something is wrong. Amazon, I think, is infected with the same ethos that can make social networking sites a nightmare. It’s a breeding ground for bullies. The relative anonymity of the Internet and the almost instant ability to publish an opinion allows some people to abandon all notions of self-control. It seems to encourage so many people to give free rein to vindictive aspects of their personality.

Calling an author ‘stupid’ or branding them ‘idiot’ or ‘moron’ is not and should not be a permissible aspect of a book review. Amazon should not publish reviews that make such personal remarks. A book review should not consist of phrases like: this was dross, or this is stupid, another pile of poo from this dumb writer. Abusive phrases and insults do not constitute a review. They do not inform other readers about the story content. If you are going to state that something is dross then you should back it up with clear evidence as to why you think it is dross.

Reviewing is a skill and many readers do not posses the skill to write an informed review. Writing something along the lines of: ‘I hated this stupid story’ is not a review. It’s akin to a toddler throwing a temper tantrum because the rattle they’re sucking isn’t a lollypop.

A friend recently directed me to a review someone had left on one of my stories. The reviewer felt obliged to criticise my spelling and grammar. I wouldn’t have minded, but he or she could barely string together a coherent sentence. Seriously, this person who criticised my grammar, was barely comprehensible. It was laughable. I’m educated to degree level and while my grammar is not perfect by any means, it certainly isn’t as poor as this person claimed. As for spelling, I check and recheck my spelling. My editor checks my spelling. I suspect the reviewer may have been reading on a device whose default language was set for U.S. grammar. I write in U.K. English and not U.S. English. It can make a difference.

So, getting back to the stories I unpublished. Some had decent little reviews attached, but others were so unfair, insulting and abusive that I began to feel physically ill at the mere thought of checking my reviews. I’d start to shake and feel sick. It undermined my confidence in my writing. I began to question my ability and indeed my ‘right’ to write. Perhaps these rude people had a point? Perhaps I am an ‘idiot’ and a writer of ‘dross’ and ‘garbage.’ I felt humiliated, so much so that I even had thoughts of suicide.

As a consequence I’ve now lost all pleasure in writing. Something that helped me cope with depression and anxiety has now become just another source of depression and anxiety.

I haven’t written anything new in months. I don’t know if I ever will again. The ‘Postcards’ book I was working on has been shelved because I simply can’t face working on it. I get it up on screen and immediately my mind is flooded with those hateful, hurtful little remarks and insults. I’m now totally inhibited. I hope it will pass in time. You can't really afford to be a sensitive soul when you're a writer, but unfortunately I am. 

Many of the stories with the abusive ‘reviews’ were promotional freebies. Many authors feel obliged to offer free fiction, or virtually free fiction, just to stand a chance of being noticed in an ever-expanding market. I have my reservations about this ‘free’ ebook culture. I suspect it works more to Amazon’s advantage than anything else. (And to the advantage of all other ebook retail sites who offer freebies as an inducement to snare readers)

I think ‘free’ fiction leads many readers to assume that it’s okay to be nasty. There’s an assumption that if the writer is giving it away then it’s crap anyway. I think the Amazon low price culture has contributed to this ‘insult’ phenomenon. People can download book after book after book and not pay a dime, so they have no respect at all for the thought, expense and time that many authors put into their work. A free book might be free for a reader, but most indie authors have to pay for cover design, formatting and so on.

Amazon should stop publishing reviews that include pejorative terms. A book review consisting of: this is crap I’m glad I didn’t pay for it, or, this writer is stupid, should not be published, because it isn’t a review. It says nothing about the story. It’s just the opinion of a spiteful person who feels thwarted because a book wasn’t to their personal taste.

I’ve seen readers give a free book one star, not because it was a poor book in terms of writing style and content, but because it wasn’t long enough for them. That’s another Internet publishing phenomena, the belief that a book has to be, not only preferably free or very cheap, but also mega HUGE to be of any worth. Many readers actually seem to feel cheated and short changed if a free book isn’t a blockbuster! The short story is now an endangered species. It’s a shame. I’m rather fond of short stories, probably because my writing roots are in poetry.

Not everyone gets my brand of gay romance fiction, it falls somewhat awkwardly between traditional romance and BDSM romance. It’s okay not to ‘get’ my style of fiction. It’s okay not to like my stories. We all have different tastes. However, it is not okay to slam me as stupid or a moron. It is not okay to be personal. You have never met me. You have no right to attempt to belittle me as a human being. I am not stupid. I am not a moron or an idiot. It is not okay to be unpleasant, cruel and abusive just because my style of storytelling isn’t to your personal taste.  

If you are going to review a book then review the story, review the characters, and say how it worked or didn’t work for you. Give your opinion, but please strive to at least keep it respectful and polite. Avoid derogatory language. Just because you didn’t like a story doesn’t make it ‘dross.’ Authors have feelings too, we’re not supposed to have them, but we do.  :-)

If you’ve made it to the end of this lengthy and rather self-indulgent monologue then I’m grateful. Thank you for reading and have a nice day.

Fabian Black