November price drop!

My recent good progress with sales has dwindled drastically this month, so I’ve slashed the prices of all my Kindle books to 99p or less (in the case of The Green-eyed Monster and The Greatest Show in Town).

They will remain at these bargain prices until December 1st when they will revert back to their original prices.

Grab ’em while you can!

Bone Breakers UK  |  Bone Breakers US
The Hunters UK  |  The Hunters US
The Gamblers UK  The Gamblers US
The Green-eyed Monster UK  |  The Green-eyed Monster US
The Greatest Show in Town UK  |  The Greatest Show in Town US

The Gamblers is free on Kindle… but only in the US

Hey, folks.

If you’re visiting this blog from the US, and haven’t picked it up yet, or didn’t read it last time it came out as a freebie, The Gamblers is currently free on Kindle. (It’s also free on Smashwords and Kobo – for those of you with other eReaders.)

My advice: download it, read it, and – d’ya know, what? – you’ll probably like it. Especially if noir and crime thrillers are your thing.

I’m not sure why Brits are being excluded from this freebie, and I’m sure that even if I asked for a reason Amazon probably wouldn’t tell me. So there. Even though it has pissed on my plans a bit. I’ll explain that below.

What I’m hoping to achieve from this freebie is fairly simple: I want more reviews. I want to shift enough units that, over the course of the rest of this year, the odds of people reading it (rather than leaving it untouched in the dark basement of their To-Be-Read pile, or deleting it) increase by sheer weight of numbers. This was one of the reasons why I hoped that Amazon would make the freebie universal rather than regional. I have thirteen reviews in the UK and I was hoping to take that number into the twenties. Reviews don’t increase sales, but large volumes of positive notices can sway wavering browsers into clicking the buy now button.

However, it’s not gonna happen now. Not for a while, anyway.

Still, more reviews in the US (he says, with fingers crossed). I’ll be happy with that.

Advertisements for Myself

I did a freebie of The Gamblers recently and have decided to share a few thoughts:

a) I won’t be using a book publicity service again (I won’t say who they are). I paid $40 for them to notify a considerable number of free book websites about my upcoming freebie. I gave them a considerable amount of notice about this free period (almost three weeks), and yet they pretty much notified all the sites concerned at the last minute. Most of these free sites seem to require 48 – 72 hours notice. In most cases, the publicity service only gave them 24 hours notice, which means I know for a fact that many of the sites notified didn’t run details of my freebie as a result. If I pay money for a service, I expect that service to be undertaken properly.

b) There were more downloads of The Gamblers during this free period than there were last time. However, download figures were fairly poor until I started tweeting (and getting retweeted) early on Saturday evening, which is how I know that many of the free sites didn’t display my freebie at all. Many thanks to those who gave me a retweet.

c) The recent freebie has had zero impact (literally) on sales, which have been flat-lining in the UK for over a month. This means The Gamblers is probably not going to shift any more copies at full price, so I intend to make it a loss-leader when the KDP select exclusivity ends tomorrow. I will make it free on Smashwords and Kobo and hopefully Amazon will price-match it and make it available for free – permanently.

d) If I’m lucky I might get some new reviews from the latest promotion. The general consensus is that 10% of people who download a book for free will read it (though not necessarily straight away) and out of the 10% who read it maybe 10% of them will post a review. So if I’m lucky I might get two new reviews in the UK and maybe three in the US. I won’t hold my breath, though.

If nothing else, I have at least learned that my work is never going to make me a penny of profit. If I add the time I’ve spent on covers, formatting, tweets, blogging, Facebook posts, then I’m still making a loss on my work.

So be it.

Not everybody is going to be a success, not everybody is going to write commercial work. And as I’ve stated before, it’s not the money that keeps me writing (if it was I would have stopped long ago). All I can do is keep writing, hopefully keep improving, and at least keep my very small audience happy. And, on the subject of keeping my audience happy, Bone Breakers (a Stanton brothers novella set long before the events in The Hunters) is coming very soon, and The Glasgow Grin is still on target for a 2013 bow. Added to which, another Stanton brothers short I started recently, A Funny Thing Happened On The Way to Billingham Forum, has since become a novella, and is also almost done-and-dusted.

For the next three days The Gamblers is free

That’s right, you heard correctly. Call it my little Valentine’s gift to you readers.

If you can’t give your love the gift of love then give them a little murder, betrayal, and £750k of drug money to play with.

Give them The Gamblers free in the US, the UK, and anywhere else with an Amazon store.

The Gamblers special offer – half price on Kindle

For those of you who don’t already have it, The Gamblers will be half price from now until the end of the month. This means it’s $1.50 for those who wish to buy it at Amazon US and it is currently 96p for those who wish to buy it at Amazon UK.

This special offer is for a short time only and ends on May 31st, when it goes back to its usual price of £1.99/$2.99.

Happy Kindle birthday, The Gamblers

This slipped past me almost unnoticed (partly because The Gamblers was first released on paperback in November 2011), but I thought I’d say a few words to mark the occasion.

This last year has been an interesting ride on Kindle. Sales were marginally better than I hoped upon release, though it’s never troubled the best-seller charts (not counting the occasional chart place in the hard-boiled hit parade). And in that time I’ve managed to release another book, making me almost prolific, haha! I’ve learned a lot about this indie-publishing business too during the last year and I thought I’d share these thoughts with you (feel free to click away when you get bored):

1) There’s a vibrant hard-boiled crime and noir community out there. I didn’t realise just how vibrant it was until I joined Twitter and noticed that not only are there lots of people doing what I’m doing, but they’re doing it a lot better too. What this means is I know I have a lot more to learn. It also means that it’s not a lonely place, and there are a lot of great writers to chat with online. That feeling alone is marvellous.

2) I’ll never make my living as a full-time writer. This isn’t some whiny point declaring woe is me, it’s more a simple statement of the facts as I see them. Getting noticed is incredibly difficult and involves more effort than I can manage if I’m to keep earning a living as a graphic designer and pay my rent. I can only do it to a minor degree, far less than I would like, which means minor returns. But I’m cool with that. Sales might take off to a degree over time, given a more substantial back catalogue, but I’m pretty certain the best I can hope for is something that can supplement my full-time job income rather than replace it. Regardless of this, I’ll keep writing. I love doing it, because it’s not about the money, it’s more than that… I don’t want to sound all poncy and pretentious, but it fulfils me in a way that I can’t quite explain – whether that’s spiritual or what have you, I don’t know, but there’s a sense of contentment I feel when I’ve finished a project that I don’t get from any other aspect of my professional life.

3) The Gamblers wasn’t a one-off. I was worried that I might return to my pre-Gamblers routine of starting projects that remained unfinished, but this hasn’t been the case. The Hunters, the first of a series of hard-boiled and blackly comic crime thrillers featuring two dysfunctional criminal brothers, made an appearance and will be quickly followed by three other books later this year and into 2013. Also, I have another noir that is on schedule for late 2013! The floodgates are well and truly open.

4) I’m going to stop trying to sell my wares all the time on Twitter. I’ve been scaling this back, but unless I have a specific deal going (two-for-one deals, a price drop etc.) I’m going to cease with the Twitterbombs. To be honest, Twitter is an abysmal selling tool and I find that I get more sales through providing interesting content on this blog, or links to interesting content on Twitter, than I do by saying, ‘Oi! Buy my books’. If I slip with this promise at any point, feel free to pull me up about it 😉

5) I won’t be doing any more KDP Select giveaways. Initially, KDP Select kickstarted sales of The Gamblers again after they went dormant for a while, and it’s given The Hunters an initial boost, but repeated freebies have done nothing more for me in terms of sales and are probably detrimental in the long run. And what’s the point of giving away my work to hoarders who don’t read it? It’s a waste of my time and theirs – they’ll only end up deleting it unread anyway. Better a tiny audience of devoted readers than a larger audience of those who couldn’t care less. So, I have a few ideas of my own to boost sales in the summer months, involving a slightly more structured giveaway of my own devising (I’ll reveal more another time).

6) It’s been fun, thus far. I’ve enjoyed having all three of you visit my blog from time to time and read my work, and I hope to keep you entertained for many years to come. And if the standard slips do let me know. I’ll come back stronger and better for it.


My ‘Free Weekend’ experiment updated

On Friday evening I enrolled The Gamblers in the KDP Select program. This allows publishers and self-publishers to make their work available for Amazon Prime users to borrow for as long as they wish. More usefully, however, it also allows you to ‘promote’ your work for free during a 90 day period.

I decided to use 2 of my days over the last weekend. Why, you might ask?

Firstly, The Gamblers is dead in terms of sales. I haven’t sold jack-shit over the last six weeks and no matter what I try and do nobody wants to buy. I’ve tweeted, I’ve Facebooked, I’ve used forums, I’ve used this blog, but nobody is interested in buying it any more – despite the fact that it is a very reasonable £1 or $1.99 a book. So, I figured that giving it away puts it on a number of Kindles and other devices capable of viewing Kindle ebooks.
>>The Gamblers has started selling again and the number of visitors to my site has increased. Not sure if this is the ‘halo effect’ or something more pronounced. The coming days and weeks will confirm one way or another

Secondly, I decided that The Gamblers may as well serve as an advert for my future work. Most of my readers have enjoyed the novel, and of those a number have since expressed an interest in my next work, The Hunters. My hope is that enough people read The Gamblers between now and January (the new Hunters release date – more on that later) that they swoop and buy my latest work.

Thirdly, thinking about how well The Gamblers did over the weekend gave me a promotional idea for The Hunters – one I intend to implement. When TH is finally released in January I intend to give away the Kindle edition of The Gamblers for free to everybody who buys an ebook of The Hunters. All I will need is proof of purchase and an email address that I can send your ebook to. >>I’ve realised that I won’t be able to give The Gamblers away for free as promotion for the Kindle version The Hunters. One of the downsides of KDP Select is you have to give Amazon exclusivity for 90 days. I will have to come up with something else as a promotion. But I do have some clear ideas about what that will be. I think you’ll like it.

So, how did I do over the weekend, you might also ask?

Over the weekend 362 UK copies of The Gamblers were downloaded; 257 copies were downloaded in the US, and (oddly) 2 copies were downloaded in Germany.

That’s 621 potential new readers in total. On top of those who had previously bought copies of The Gamblers – either on Kindle or as a paperback – that’s a fair base upon which to launch my next pieces of writing: The Hunters and an as-yet-untitled short story collection featuring the Stanton Brothers (the anti-heroes of The Hunters).

The Gamblers free for this weekend only!

Am I crazy, you ask?


However, that’s neither here nor there, as this weekend (to celebrate The Gamblers inclusion in Amazon’s Kindle Owners’ Lending Library scheme – for all you lucky folks with Amazon Prime accounts) I am making the Kindle edition of my novel completely free.

You read that right – free.

Not $1.99. Not £1. Not $0.99. And not 86p. NO – IT’S FREE!

This mini sale starts tomorrow, 10 December, and ends on Sunday at midnight.

Grab ’em while you can, folks.

A review on a forum for The Gamblers

I’ve just seen this review on a Kindle forum for my novel The Gamblers. It’s an interesting perspective from a reader, and writer, who isn’t a regular reader of noir fiction. It’s a combination of good and bad. But I think it’s a well written review and I’m quite happy to share it:

The Gamblers” by Martin Stanley

Martin Stanley has titled his book “The Gamblers” and that is a most fitting title for it. Stanley presents us with various and assorted people whose lives consist of gambling – with money, with position, with their very lives. He displays for us a dark underside of both humanity and human nature, filled with violence, cruelty, betrayal and lust.

Stanley writes very well, with an eye for detail, and tells an intricate story with a complicated plot. He drew me into his world with the introduction of Mike Kandinsky, a candidate for Gambler’s Anonymous, if ever there was one. Kandinsky has not only gambled away all his money but owes some £3,000 to a loan shark, who is just a tad peeved at not getting his money back on time. Kandinsky is given two weeks (and a beating in lieu of interest) to sell his BMW and pay off the loan shark – or else. Kandinsky doesn’t want to give up his auto and, when presented with an alternative, begins an adventure that threatens to take him into a downward spiral that he may not recover from.

Stanley writes of the addictions that drive men (and women) and how they can make gamblers of the best of us (though his examples are of those who are far from the best of us). The choices Stanley’s characters make left me wincing, though I could see the twisted logic of them. He bars no holds and the violence and degradation of the various characters would likely have caused me to put the book down, were it not for his story-telling ability and writing prowess.

However, Stanley makes what I consider to be a grievous error: He has no sympathetic characters at all. There is not one character in the book for whom I can root. Between the lot of them (and there are a lot of them) one can barely find a single redeeming trait. I can recollect but two instances of what might be considered ‘kindnesses’ (there may have been more, but, if so, the darkness blotted them from my memory) and they are but momentary. For me, this is not enough; I don’t like my stories this bleak. Stanley replies that his book is ‘noir’ and that this feature pervades the species. I’m obviously not in his target audience, so bear that in mind as you contemplate my review.

So, if you don’t mind violence, at time gratuitous, and you enjoy dark stories and the noir genre, The Gamblers may be one for you.

Take a gamble…

If you fancy a prime slice of gritty, urban noir and a fast-moving good read, then The Gamblers is still for sale. Imagine Ted Lewis crossed with Jim Thompson updated to the 21st century and you’re getting close to what The Gamblers is all about…

Get it on Kindle in the UK for 99p here:

Get it on Kindle in the US for $1.99 here:

For those who prefer their books printed rather than digital, get the paperback for 10% off at Barnes and Noble:

Go on, take a gamble…