The great freebie giveaway experiment

It is far too early to work out if it’was successful or not but last weekend I decided to give away my A Simpler Guide to Gmail, Second Edition book for free for one day only.

As you might have already guessed A Simpler Guide to Gmail is a non-fiction book about of all things, Gmail, not a romantic story set in 1920s New York (although it could be a great time travel tale given enough time and plot!) I’ve come to the conclusion that giveing  away non-fiction books may not be the best idea.

As I mentioned it is too early to make a decision whether it is a success but I did give away hundreds of books on Saturday. So much so that I bottled out around midnight UK time and cancelled the rest of the 24 hour promotion.

Now I’ve taken part in giveaways before, the last one was with Fantasy Island Book Publishing for my Children of the Elementi book. The value of giving away books on Amazon is that your customerscan lend those books to their friends using the Amazon system. Of course at the moment this is only true for the US but it will expand in time to other countries.

The market for non-fiction is smaller. That is why traditionally the books are more expensive. You wouldn’t begrudge someone a living from their talents would you? I would agree that non-fiction is not necessarily easier or harder to write. After all fiction book are all in the inagination, but historical novels do need a certain amount of research. Still the market is smaller.

Another thing I did not take into account inmy great experiment is that it appears normally, the freebies available are not all full-blown books. I didn’t realise this but a Saturday of downloading lots of books revealed that most of the books were teasers or promotional material for services. Oops. I gave away the Full Monty, the Real McCoy (too many cliches?) – the complete book. I seemed to have missed a trick there!

My only hope is that people who have downloaded it find it useful enough that they will think to review it or at least tag it. If receiving is not on their minds, my sevond hope is that they lend it to their froends – before April when I take it off the Kindle Select program. Gmail was my biggest seller on Barnes and Noble and you could argue that I was putting all my eggs into one basket by only selling it on Amazon.

Time will tell!

Crash Course for making print book cover designs for CreateSpace

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000446_00066]

If you are a budding self-publisher you’ve probably heard of CreateSpace. They do have cover creators in their book making process but it is nice to have something original that you have made yourself. This is a crash course which by it’s very nature can’t give you the ins and outs but does give you helpful tips and the principles for making a great design.

First you need to download a template from CreateSpace at: This means all the margins, dimensions and bleeds are done for you.

To-do this you need to have a few basic details.

  • Interior Type: Black and White
  • Trim Size: 5.5 x 8.5 (the size of your book).
  • Number of pages: ? (how many pages will your book be once it is completed. Remember it is very important as your images will have to compensate for a reduced or increased spine size).
  • Paper Colour: Cream (thicker paper as well as more yellowy paper. Also note that some people with dyslexia read easier on cream paper.)

Note, if you put say 312 pages in, the file you actually download may say 320 pages. This is because of the bleed size. (They cut bits off the end of the printing process).

Once you have your template, open it in a graphics programme. This can be Gimp or Photoshop or some other flavour.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000446_00066]

It is very important you rename the first layer, template. The next thing you have to do is create a new layer. Don’t do anything to the first/template layer. Just make sure that it is at the top of your layer list. This way you can toggle the view off and on so you can see how your design will fit on the printed paperback. I’ve given you an example of how I did it on the left.

Put your background pictures on the new layer.

Explanation of DPI. Your images MUST be 300 dpi for printed book covers. They also HAVE to be at least 8.5 INCHES high (if that is the size of your book).. I have been sent 300dpi images which are only a few centimeters big. The best way to explain why this is unsuitable is to imagine you are holding a piece of material about 2cm by 2cms with a picture on it. Now try to stretch that piece of material up to 8 inches. That picture is looking a bit stretched now isn’t it? It physically cannot be done without the picture suffering badly and when it is printed it will look awful.

Once you have put your background images in you can bring the template higher up the layers list so you can see which bits of your beautiful cover will be chopped off. Adjust as necessary. Remember to delete the template or move it below all the other layers when you have finished.

Put your text on and save. Voila you now have a cover.


Fantasy Book Review: Shifting Fate by Alexis Leno


As a not-so-secret romantic, I loved Shifting Fate. Set in a world where fate is predetermined by a Goddess, a force for evil is unleashed to change the destiny of the world.

The current ruling family took control by battling the former Royal Family. Who is to say if they were right or not but the legacy of the, murder? made the previous heir bitter which in turn twists him into the present day villain. A flawed bad guy which helps to make this book special.

The royal family has been preparing for the day that the prophesied evil would come. The Queen has the power of foresight but will not say what she has seen.

The heroine is a feisty lady who I believed in. I liked her but I did think she was getting obsessed with a village at one point, I felt like screaming ‘get over yourself’ at the book. Luckily for my husband nearby I managed to suppress the urge. This by no means should put you off this book. It was a great read and I am glad that I found it.

This was a book worth reading and one of the best that I have read as part of the Fantasy Book Club I started on Amazon discussions.

It has magic, a feisty heroine (I like that word, can you tell :-)), evil, deities, fate – what nore could a guy or gal ask for? This author has talent and we can only hope that she writes more!

Review of Blackrayne by Nathyn Brendan Masters

I was asked to do this review on the Amazon discussions site. I didn’t want to because I don’t think I should do a review unless I can honestly give four or five stars. I have to give this book three stars and this is why:

The Good News

This is well written. Some may disagree with me from some of the other reviews on Amazon but I was never distracted during this book because of mistakes. I am extremely forgiving of spelling and grammar errors, so if you find any, sorry! I don’t agree with reviewers who concentrate on this area. To me the story is everything.

The Bad News

I didn’t like it. I adore fantasy, which is why I created the Kindle under $3 fantasy book club. I am not fussy about what sub genre a book is in either. All I care is that I like the characters and the book is a good old yarn.

This brings me to the characters. Jason Blackrayne is a thoroughly reprehensible figure with as far as I can see no redeeming features. Your first impressions of him are made when you find out he sleeps with a nymphomaniac who goes to him for treatment (he is a shrink) and when he comes into some ‘powers’ he uses it to get women into bed.

Now all I’m saying is that I didn’t like it. There are probably a lot of people who would like this story. Just be aware it is quite sexist with descriptions such as leggy blond giving you a taste of the style of book.

Another turnoff was the amount of Christian hyperbole in the story. I found it immensely distracting and found myself flicking through the sections with exaggerated sighs – much to the annoyance of my husband. If you are happy to read pages of scripture, again you might like this book.

I haven’t read anything like it before and the whole point of the book club was to find literature in my favourite genre that I would probably never normally try. In this the club was successful, I would normally have given up after three chapters.

I liked the concept but I would have liked to see the guy go through something in the middle to make him seem a little more, well likable

As with all books, download a sample and see if you like it. It costs you nothing to try!