Finally, Apple!

I don’t know if it used Apple Maps to get there, but it took over three weeks for my short story collection Life is Good to make it down the pipeline from Smashwords to the Apple iBookstore.  So I’ve learned a valuable ePublishing lesson: what you can do in a day on Amazon takes almost a month with Apple!

Life is Good cover

I’ll probably put up some permanent links to all the purchase channels on the blog homepage, but in the meantime here are the links for readers with iPhones and iPads:

United Kingdom:



Of course, like all authors, I receive higher royalties when readers buy through Smashwords, so here’s the book’s link on the Smashwords site:

Earth to Goodreads: Testing, testing…

Maybe you’ve heard of Goodreads, a great site for book lovers. Readers can rate and review books they’ve read, create a virtual bookshelf and share it with other users. plus buy books through link to the major online retailers. To my eternal shame, I’d never heard of Goodreads until my publisher Chris Trudeau mentioned it to me as a great way for authors to promote their books. Okay, so my shame wasn’t eternal, it lasted about 18 seconds. And it wasn’t really shame, just mild surprise that I wasn’t aware of a site this, um, good. But I’m going for melodrama in this otherwise dry post, so eternal shame is the phrase I’m using.

After signing up and rating about 80 books I’ve read, I then created an author profile and uploaded a link to my short story collection Life is Good. Here’s what it looks like:

John B. Dutton Goodreads author page

This what it looks like when you haven’t had any reviews… Click the image to go the the book’s Goodreads page.

So far, so good. But what also attracted me to Goodreads is that you can advertise your book on the site. And you can target it by age range or subject matter, which is a fantastic way of reaching an audience that your work might appeal to. You set your bid level for clicks and an overall budget for the time period you choose. This ensures that you won’t overspend your marketing dollars (if you feel like spending is a good idea, of course), because you only pay for clicks, and as long as you’ve written an accurate, enticing ad, some of those clicks should spur purchases. And some of those purchases should translate into (hopefully) positive ratings and shares on readers’ bookshelves.

In other words, you’re kickstarting a viral campaign (which is what online sharing really means). Because depending on friends and family to repost on Facebook or retweet on Twitter probably won’t be enough to get your work known outside your social circles.

Having said all this, I’ve chosen to run my Goodreads ad for one week as a test. In fact, the whole campaign is really a test for my upcoming Young Adult novel, Silent Symmetry, when ad targeting will be even more important for reaching the right readership.

(Speaking of which, I had a creative meeting with designer Alex Nereuta for the cover the other day. It’s going to be good…)

Check out Goodreads if you like to, you know, read good books. It’s fun to rate the books you’ve read, and the auto-suggestion system works very well to remind you of similar books you’ve read that might have slipped your mind. And hey – you might just see one of the ads for Life is Good!

And so it rebegins…

Yes, I know, rebeggining isn’t a word. But that’s how it seems when you set aside your manuscript for a couple of months, then pick it up again to rewrite it. Everything is fresh, and you almost feel like you’re reading a book written by someone else. And that’s the key idea – the only way to do a proper rewrite is to come at the work as objectively as humanly possible. If it’s not humanly possible, train your cat to do it.

Cat using an iPhone

Cats are now using smartphones.
[Photo: koratmember /]

Because you have to put yourself in the skin of a first-time reader in another city or country. Rewriting can turn a work from good to great, from interesting to a page-turner, from meh to wow. (Or, if you’re using the cat method, from meh to meow.)

So today I start the rewriting process for my Young Adult novel Silent Symmetry. I used to think that rewriting was a chore, but now I find it the most exciting part of writing. Why? Because this is my chance to kick it up a notch, catapult it to greatness, and… a bunch of other overused idioms.

Who knows how long it will take. When I write a first draft, my usual habit is to rewrite the previous session’s output before starting the next chunk, so there has already been some superficial rewriting that should have removed a great many mistakes and clunky turns of phrase.

Cat food

Cats work for cat food.
[Photo: kongsky /]

But the advantage of setting the novel aside since late May and coming at it afresh today is that I will truly be able to get a feel for the flow. Did I overuse a verb or adjective? Are there places where the action lulls? Are there other places where I skimmed a scene and could add more detail? All these questions and more will be answered over the next few weeks.

Besides, I have no choice. I don’t have a cat.

Blogging about talking on video about writing a novel

The video interview about The New Sense is now on YouTube and the BBC. Oh wait, just YouTube:

Watch it for some insights into the ideas behind my upcoming novel, what inspired it, whether (or not) it reflects my personal life and what makes me laugh out loud. (Hint: it’s sex-related.)

Thanks to my publisher Chris Trudeau of Second Generation Press for doing such a great job!