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The Station

Short story on Amazon

Available now for only $0.99 on Amazon, my short story The Station. If you like slasher/serial killer/horror books and have a short attention span this may be the book for you. The action is non-stop as a man who just wanted to enjoy a relaxing day outdoors finds himself thrust into the middle of a nightmare. He has to fight both his own instincts and the terror which lurks within the station to get out alive.

I’m not one for the hard sell and really I’ve written this story for my own entertainment
but I thought it was good enough that I wanted others to enjoy it too. If you have Amazon prime you can read it for free.

If you do read it leave me a review, always interested to hear what others think. Happy to be given some constructive tips. Hadn’t written anything for a while and I was very happy with the finished product but I know there is also room for improvement.

As a taster here is a short excerpt:

 

There was still no reply so I grasped the edge of the door and forcibly wrenched it further open. It scraped noisily against the step as I struggled to create a gap big enough to squeeze through. Shining my flashlight inside I could see an almost empty storage room, a few dusty crates of beer lay in one corner and an old chest freezer stood against the far wall. Just above the freezer was a yellowing calendar showing a photo of a muscle car and beside it was another door which presumably led to the rest of the station.

By this point I’d come to the conclusion that whoever was inside had already left, so, facing the unwelcome prospect of spending a freezing night in the car, I decided to go into the station and search for a phone. Breathing in, I jammed myself between the door and the frame and wriggled my way through as more rust fell on my head. Once inside I immediately noticed the smell of mold. Scanning the walls with the flashlight revealed patches of fungus and damp. Blackness speckled with splotches of white crept from the ceiling halfway down the wall, its progress probably unchecked for years. My stomach lurched as the stench filled my lungs.

 

 

 

Amazon Lending

Pages Read

One of the main main reasons I joined amazon select when I decided to self publish was the ability to allow people to borrow my story. This especially appealed to me knowing there are many good full length e-books out there priced at $2.99, making my $0.99 for 31 pages seem a little expensive.  I thought people would be much more likely to borrow my story than buy it.

Alas, this has not been the case. It isn’t possible to tell how many times your story, or book, has been lent out but you can tell how many pages have been read. So far, The Station has been available for a week and has achieved a total of 43 pages read, all on the first day. This is a low figure but it has provided me with the biggest thrill of my self publishing journey so far because my story is exactly 43 pages long (according to the calculation amazon uses for lending, which is different from the estimation they show for length on the book homepage).

This means someone has sat down and read it from start to finish. They haven’t become bored and given up halfway through or started reading and opted to finish it later, they’ve stayed to the very end. This is especially gratifying as I know it’s a lot easier to give up on something when you haven’t paid for it. This is proof, to me,  that I have created a non-stop, action packed page turner.

You may be thinking it’s equally possible 43 people borrowed my story and were unable to stomach it past the first page. To which I say, it is possible but not very likely and anyway why would you want to rain on my parade? Let me dream.

Stepping up the Page Count

Getting back in the Game

After not writing for a long while it’s hard to get going again. I was inspired to get back into it by a friend who self published a full length novel on Amazon, it intrigued me that the world of publishing had been opened up to the individual.

I can write a novel, I thought. So I sat down at my computer opened up word and waited for the magic to happen… and nothing. My mind was a blank. Where were all the great ideas I thought would just leap into my head. The fact is it’s incredibly hard to come up with something truly original, almost everything you can think of has been done.

Eventually I gave up on trying to come up with something new and groundbreaking and settled into writing  a fairly generic, but action packed, horror/slasher novel. I needed to get my writing chops back and I wanted to start getting words down on paper.

Things went well for a while, the words were flowing, I wasn’t repeating myself too much, I was starting to remember how to put an interesting story together. I had to go back a few times to fix some logic errors or adjust the premise to suit where I wanted to go but otherwise I was well on my way. Then I realized I didn’t have enough story to stretch to the length of a novel, in fact I didn’t even have enough for a novella. Sure I could have padded it out with unnecessary detail and floral language but that would have distracted from the flow. So, I decided, now I am writing a short story.

My first story, the station, ended up being about 8,500 words which in the end I was happy with. It took me about 3 months, on and off, to complete and at times was a real struggle but the satisfaction of having finished something, even if I had to compromise along the way, was well worth it. I put it on Amazon for the smallest price possible ($0.99) which, I think, is the maximum anyone should be asking for a short story.

Now I know how difficult it can be to produce a well thought out and compelling story I’ve revised my expectations. I’m aiming to bring my next story in at around 12,000 – 15,000 words, after that I will try for a novella. Hopefully this will give my writing “muscles” time to warm up and finally I’ll be able to produce my magnum opus.

 

 

Self Publishing on Amazon

Scaling the Mountain

I just finished a 2 day free promotion on my book and managed to shift 88 copies. Not sure if that’s bad or good, I’m just happy some people are reading, maybe even enjoying, my story.

Managed to make it to number five on the short horror stories chart too, making me (in my own head) internet book famous. Still no reviews though, which might mean it’s just not good or bad enough to comment on, possibly it’s extremely mediocre.

I’ve heard that in the good old days of e-books a free giveaway would result in thousands of downloads so unfortunately it seems I’m a little late to the party. There appears to be an enormous amount of e-books out there now, a lot of them self published, so it’s very difficult to get noticed.You could very easily spend the rest of your life only reading free e-books and never run out of material. Finding a truly great one though is like looking for a  fine wine at a monster truck rally.

The problem with self publishing is it removes the critical filter which we all rely on to ensure we don’t have to wade through a river of shit. Sure, it frees us up to make our own choices but no one has the time to actually find the good stuff. Anyone who has seen any of the many TV talent shows knows that many people are unable to critically assess their own level of talent. This leaves a mountain of truly awful books, some with many basic spelling and grammar mistakes, clogging up the system. Reviews help but I’m sure there are many good books out there which never get any reviews because no-one even knows they exist in the first place.

The average book sale to review ratio is (and this information is from forums so possibly completely inaccurate) 1%. So an excellent author could release a book, do no self promotion and only sell two copies, the readers may thoroughly enjoy it but neglect to leave reviews. Meanwhile a  bad author could fake several good reviews for his book.

Amazon and other e-book retailers need to introduce some filters for the good of the medium. This may mean that my own short story would never have been published but I would be happy to take that risk, it would probably make me try harder and there would be some sense of achievement if and when my book was actually accepted.

I would like to see some or all of the following introduced:

  • Filtering out books with spelling mistakes
  • Filtering out books which aren’t formatted correctly
  • Forcing authors to publish under their real name
  • A peer review system, to be self published you have to review other self published author’s work. Books which fail to meet a certain standard don’t get published.
  • E-book retailers to employ staff to randomly vet self published books (possibly with a bias towards checking books with consistently low reviews)
  • If returns exceed a certain percentage the book is removed from sale

These measures, along with the fact that many authors who release poor books also have the decency to create terrible covers,  won’t solve the problem but they will definitely help.

Now some of you are probably thinking, this guy seems very opinionated, I’d like to read his book to see if he actually has any talent. Hey, due to the lack of a critical filter, it’s available now on Amazon for only  $0.99 with nothing to recommend it other than my own inflated sense of self worth.