Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Year Cheap Deals On Spider Shepherd Full-length Novels

The wonderful people at Amazon have slashed the price of my Spider Shepherd novels to just £4.35 for three. That's close to 1,600 pages for less than a fiver,  less than £1.50 per book. The books are Soft Target, Cold Kill, Hot Blood, Dead Men, Live Fire and Rough Justice.

Hodder has published them in two eBook volumes and they are the cheapest way of buying the Spider novels.

You can buy the first volume BY CLICKING HERE  It has the full length books Soft Target, Cold Kill and Hot Blood.

You can buy the second volume BY CLICKING HERE   It contains Dead Men, Live Fire and Rough Justice.

I'm not sure how long they will stay at the special low price of £4.35. I hope for a long time!

Meanwhile I'm hard at work on the latest Spider Shepherd novel - Black Ops - which should be on the shelves (real and virtual) this summer.

I hope you and your families all have  great New Year!

Friday, December 26, 2014

A Jack Nightingale Christmas

All's well on the Jack Nightingale front. The two recently-published Jack Nightingale short stories - My Name Is Lydia and Tracks  are the two best-selling Horror short stories on the Kindle.

And the new Jack Nightingale full-length novel - San Francisco Night - is the best selling Occult book on the Kindle.

You can buy San Francisco Night for the Kindle by CLICKING HERE

I'm now working flat out on the new Spider Shepherd book - Black Ops. I've written 103,000 words so far and am on the home stretch. It should be in the shops by the summer.

And then?  I have a great idea for a new stand alone thriller. Actually I have ideas - titles and plots - for two, it's just a question of which I write first!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The New Jack Nightingale Novel

The new Jack Nightingale supernatural detective novel is now up and running on the Kindle and through Smashwords. It's called San Francisco Night and I think it's the best yet!

Here's the synopsis, or the blurb as they call it in the trade! Jack Nightingale fights his battles in the shadows – in the grey areas where the real world meets the supernatural. But when he arrives in San Francisco to take on a group of Satanists bent on opening a doorway to Hell, the danger is out in the open and all too real. The Apostles – a Satanic coven using murder and torture to pave the way for a demon to enter the real world – realise that Nightingale is on their tail. And unleash their own brand of monsters to take him down. With Nightingale’s life – and his very soul – on the line, he has only days to stop The Apostles from bringing death and destruction to the entire world.

I had hoped to have the paperback of San Francisco Night available before Christmas but the mother of the lady who is doing the formatting fell and broke her ribs and she has to take care of her so it isn't going to happen. I know some people don't have eReaders and others really do prefer the feel of a hardback and a paperback, but it looks now as if it won't be ready until the new year. I'm selling the eBook for just £2.99 in the run up to Christmas. It'll go up to its regular price on Boxing Day.

Why am I self-publishing it? Basically my publisher - Hodder and Stoughton - didn't want to continue the series but I did. They already have a five-book deal with me for other books (including the Spider Shepherd series) and didn't really want any more. My agent wasn't enthusiastic about taking it to another publisher so self-publishing seemed like a no-brainer. It's not as if I don't know what I'm doing, I've already sold well over a million eBooks!

Anyway, after just one day San Francisco Night became the best-selling Occult Horror novel on the Kindle in the UK, which was reassuring!

Will there be more Jack Nightingale novels? I'm honestly not sure.  We'll see how this one sells. The character will continue, of that I'm sure.  I am planning a run of Jack Nightingale short stories. I have already published Curse, Still Bleeding, Tracks and My Name Is Lydia.  I do love the character and Jack has reached the stage where he has a life of his own, pretty much, so I don't see that he will let me stop writing about him!

Anyway, have a great Christmas - you can buy San Francisco Night on the Kindle BY CLICKING HERE

Monday, December 1, 2014

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Terrific Amazon Discounts On The Spider Shepherd Collections

I've always been a big fan of selling eBooks cheaply. I was one of the first authors to offer novels for just 99p and as a result became one of the top-selling authors on the Kindle.

These days most authors - even those who used to complain about low prices somehow devaluing their work - can be seen selling their books cheaply.

A self-published writer can pretty much decide the price of their book, but from time to time Amazon steps in and offers discounts of their own. How or why they do it is a mystery, but it does mean that occassionaly there can be terrific bargains to be had.

That's the case now with two of my Hodder and Stoughton published books.

The first Spider Shepherd collection includes Soft Target, Cold Kill and Hot Blood. The second collection brings together Dead Men, Live Fire and Rough Justice.

The books were originally priced at £9.99, but over the last few days Amazon has slashed the price to just £4.35.  That means they are less than half price.  That means each full-length novel is being sold for less than £1.50. How cool is that?

You can buy the first Spider Shepherd Collection    BY CLICKING HERE

And you can buy the second Spider Shepherd Collection    BY CLICKING HERE

Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Power Of Amazon

I've been a huge KDP fan ever since it started, and am hugely grateful for the way KDP and Amazon have boosted my sales over the past three years.

As well as self-publishing several books through KDP, I gave two of my books - Once Bitten and The Basement - to Amazon to publish through their Thomas and Mercer imprint.

That was three years ago, and yesterday - yes, yesterday - Once Bitten was in the US Kindle Top 100. How cool is that? It's nothing to do with me, it was simply that Amazon decided to promote the book. And wow, does their promotion produce results!

Within hours of Amazon starting their promotion, Once Bitten was in the US Top 20 chart. As of today, it's just outside the Top 100. And it's the top selling vampire book which is way cool when you consider what the competition is. 

The book is even higher in the Canadian charts! Number 73 as we speak, though it was higher!

Publishing is a funny old game. One of the things I've learned over the last twenty years as a published author is that the difference between an author who sells just a few books and an author who sells a ton of books is promotion, pure and simple. And no one does promotion better than Amazon!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Eight Curious Cases Of Inspector Zhang

Some time ago I started writing short locked-room mysteries featuring a detective from Singapore, Inspector Zhang, and his pretty young sidekick, Sergeant Lee.

The stories are great fun to write but a little difficult, which is why over two years I have only managed eight. I have titles (and set-ups) for several more but haven't yet managed to work through the plots!

The eight that I have are now being published by Monsoon Books in Singapore, who also publish my Thailand books Private Dancer and Bangkok Bob and the Missing Mormon.

In the UK, Amazon has just slashed the price of the eBook to £2.47.  Now that's cheap!  You can buy the eBook for the Kindle BY CLICKING HERE 

I'm off to Singapore tomorrow to attend the FI Grand Prix - research for a new Inspector Zhang story, of course!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Under Surveillance

I had a fun time yesterday being tailed around the streets of Bangkok by a surveillance team. And it taught me a lot about following people!

An old pal of mine used to run surveillance teams for the Met and for the Serious Organised Crime Agency. Now he trains surveillance teams in Bangkok.

Usually they pick a member of public at random and follow them for practice, but yesterday my mate decided to have some fun with his team and get them to follow me instead. Usually the target has no idea he's being followed, but by briefing me we were able to set up a few surprises for the team.

He had also tasked one of his more experienced guys to tail the team that were tailing me so see how clued they were up on counter surveillance. My pal in turn would hang back, watching to see how well the team tailed me. He communicated with me - and them - through text messages.

I was picked up at a Starbucks in the city, drinking coffee. My pal had sent them a photograph of me in the cafe and once they were up and running I was given the go signal.

I walked to a nearby Skytrain station and got onto the Skytrain to another part of the city. I was sure that I'd spotted one of my tails within a few minutes, a middle-aged guy in an orange t-shirt. I was also suspicious of a guy with a hearing aid and a rucksack.

I got off and walked to a shop, on the way doing a U-turn to go to an ATM. I didn't see anybody and  I spent fifteen minutes in the shop and the only person I spotted was my pal walking by.

Out of the shop I used a footbridge to cross the main Sukhumvit Road and that was when I had a definite spot of a tail, a young guy in front of me who had looked over his shoulder. Just once, but it seemed an odd thing to do and it put him on my radar At that point I remembered that (maybe) he had been outside the Starbucks, but I wasn't sure.

Down off the footbridge I pulled another U-turn to talk to a couple of time-share touts, and I saw the young guy hesitate so I was sure I had made him. I then pulled the big surprise, I hopped on a motorcycle taxi to a local park. I was fairly sure that would lose any tail.  I got to the park and waited for the exercise to end before heading off to meet the team.

The guy on the footbridge was indeed one of the team, but to be fair I only spotted him because I was looking. The two guys I had made on the Skytrain - Orange Shirt and Hearing Aid - were nothing to do with the surveillance team, they were just civilians.

It turns out that they had been with me every step of the way. There had been two of them on the Skytrain, and one of them was close enough to get a photograph of me in Starbucks!

Another guy managed to get next to me on the Skytrain. I didn't see him either!

They had no problems tailing me along the street, and often they were ahead of me or on the other side of the road. They managed to get a picture of me from an overhead bridge.

One of my U-turns did almost bring me on top of one of them, apparently, but he had turned and bought a lottery ticket from a pavement vendor and I missed him completely.

The big surprise was that one of the tails had managed to get himself on a motorcycle taxi and follow me to the park. He'd even managed to get a photograph of me on the bike.

Here's the scary thing. I knew I was being followed. I had counter-survellance measures in place. But I still only spotted one guy. And to be fair, I only spotted him because I was looking for tails. I was actually more certain that Orange Shirt and Hearing Aid were tails, and I was totally wrong.

The guys who where on my tail are still being trained but they were ace. They didn't spot the guy who was tailing them, though. And neither did I. But he was with us every step of the way.

The big lesson I took away from this is that if you are being followed by experts, no matter how prepared you are, you almost certainly won't know it.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Number 9 In The Bestseller List!

White Lies was the ninth bestselling book in the UK last week according to the Sunday Times Bestseller list, which is good news.

My pal Peter Robinson's book Abattoir Blues is at Number 4, which is great news for our publisher Hodder and Stoughton.

I'm a huge fan of eBooks but I have to say it always gives me a thrill to see my hardbacks selling well!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

White Lies Tops The Asda Chart

White Lies has been out for a week and is already topping the charts in Asda. It's funny how important supermarkets are for sales these days and it always surprises me how many people are keen to buy a book while they do their weekly shopping.  But it's a fact that in terms of overall sales, supermarkets sell more of my books than regular bookshops by quite a long way.

Sales-wise White Lies is selling more than the last Spider Shepherd book - True Colours. Last week it reached Number 11 in the Sunday Times hardback bestseller list, which cheered me up no end.

I already have the 12th Spider book - Black Ops - plotted out and will start work on it soon. In the meantime I am working on a new Jack Nightingale supernatural thriller which will be titled San Francisco Night. I'm having great fun with it, I love writing the Nightingale books.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Revamping The Cover Of Soft Target

It's a fact of life that, in the world of publishing at least, you CAN judge a book by its cover.

I've been asking my publisher Hodder and Stoughton to revamp some of my early covers. In my experience, revamping a cover can substantiality improve sales. It has worked for my self-published books and I hope it will be just as effective with my Hodder and Stoughton books.

They have agreed to test the water by revamping the cover of Soft Target, the second book in the bestselling Spider Shepherd series.

The existing cover is good, but it has been around for almost ten years.

Hodder came up with this cover as a replacement.

I liked it but worried that it's a bit futuristic, giving it the look of a sci-fi novel.  And I also worried that the figure - who is presumably meant to be Spider Shepherd - is left handed.  The gun is also definitely not Metropolitan Police issue. In my humble opinion the details of a cover aren't that important, what matters is the overall feel. And this feels good. I love the London skyline.

I explained my feelings to Hodder and they came back with a slightly different version.

I think this is brilliant, and it'll soon be up as the new cover. Hopefully it will lift sales. I shall keep you posted!

You can buy Soft Target on Amazon by clicking HERE

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

A FREE Dan Shepherd Short Story

Hodder and Stoughton are publishing a FREE Spider Shepherd short story to coincide with the publication of White Lies, the new Spider full length novel which is out in August.

They are currently fine-tuning the cover!

The short story will be out four weeks before the novel and is already available for pre-order HERE

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Judging A Book By Its Cover

It's a cliche, of course, that you can't judge a book by its cover.  In fact, when it comes to self-publishing, a cover is a pretty good indicator of the quality of a book. Generally I've found that while it's not true that all good books have good covers, it does seem to be the case that bad books more often than not have bad covers.

When you self-publish eBooks, the cover is the first thing the potential buyer sees. If they don't like the cover at first glance, they'll just move on and you've lost a sale.

Back in June 2012, I self-published a collection of free short stories - Short Fuses. Since then it has been downloaded more than 50,000 times, which is a success in any terms. The book is a marketing tool - along with the four free short stories I have included opening chapters of half a dozen of my bestsellers, which I hope will bring in new readers.

Recently I decided to refresh the cover, and went to Derek Murphy at creativeINDIE for advice. Derek is an expert at revamping tired covers - you can see his website HERE

I told Derek I'd like something similar, but more modern, cleaner, and with more impact.

He came back with three suggestions.

I liked all three suggestions, but after I had received feedback from my Facebook friends, I settled on the one on the right, with a slight tweak. I thought that having my name on one line would look better.

Derek figured that having FOUR EXCITING SHORT STORIES above the title would have more impact, and I agreed.

So, we agreed on the cover on the left, and I posted it on Amazon and Smashwords on April 25. I think it definitely looks cleaner and more modern, the big question I needed answering was would a new cover boost sales?

The answer is a resounding YES!

Over the first three weeks of April, I averaged 55 downloads a day.

A week after putting up the new cover, I was averaging 64 downloads a day. Yesterday more than 125 copies were downloaded.

I haven't done any promotion or advertising, all I did was change the cover. The number of downloads has more than doubled and the book is now in the Top 200 on the Amazon Free list.

You can download Short Fuses for free at 

Incidentally, I am currently working on a similar anthology of free short stories plus chapters of my early books. It'll be called More Short Fuses and I'm using one of Derek's other cover ideas. Watch this space!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Blood Bath - More Than 16,000 Copies Downloaded So Far

Blood Bath - a collection of seven Jack Nightingale short stories, has been downloaded 16,275 times since it was published last month.  It's FREE, of course, but even so I think that's pretty good going!

Blood Bath is free - you can get it at Smashwords for all eReaders or for the Kindle by clicking HERE  The plan is for it always to be free, it's a great way of introducing readers to the Jack Nightingale series, and to the other writers who collaborated with me on Blood Bath.

Joining me in the book are six other authors, including bestselling thriller writer Matt Hilton, creator of the Joe Hunter series. He joined writers Alex Shaw, Conrad Jones and Andrew Peters, and Nightingale fans Robert Waterman and Lynnette Waterman.  All put their own spin on the character, while remaining true to the original.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Why Is Howard Jones, Conservative Councillor For Leatherhead North, Picking On Me?

I've said it before, and I'll say it again, by far the best way of dealing with trolls is to ignore them. Generally they are looking to provoke a reaction, and if the don't get a reaction they'll eventually get bored and turn their attention elsewhere.

If you get a malicious review, just ignore it. If you get trolled on a forum or a blog, just ignore it. And if a troll vents his spleen on Twitter, just block the person and they won't bother you again.

Some of the best advice on dealing with trolls comes from self-publishing guru Joe Konrath. His mantra is - ignore them. –  ALWAYS GREAT ADVICE FROM JOE KONRATH

The big question, though, is how long you have to ignore a troll before they move on and pick on someone else.   Most trolls give up after a few weeks. A few will persevere for a month or two, especially on Twitter because Twitter makes it so easy for trolls.

But some really don't know when to give up. I've written before about Howard Jones, a man I have never met, never spoken to, and until he Tweeted about me, I'd never heard of.

Out of nowhere, back in March, Howard Jones posted a very strange Tweet. Someone had posted about a character called Mo Ansar being evasive  and Howard Jones then Tweeted ‘Makes Stephen Leather look easy to pin down.’

According to his Twitter profile he was a barrister, politician, historian and cricket lover.

He talks about his dog, Arthur, a lot, and seems to take pride in the fact that he never married the mother of his children.

But I had never heard of him. I'd never spoken to him or about him. I didn't know him and he didn't know me. So why the gratuitous insult?

As I said at the time, I was somewhat concerned, because when a barrister says that you are hard to pin down, it suggests that he has met you and gathered that impression from something you had done. And I was very sure that I had never met Howard Jones, in his professional capacity or indeed in any capacity. My worry was that people might think that he had questioned me in court! 

I didn’t want to send him a public Tweet but then I noticed that he was following my Twitter account.  I was following him and he was following me, and when two people follow each other they can send each other a direct message, a Tweet that only they can see. A private Tweet. So I sent Howard Jones a private Tweet, just for his eyes, saying that I wanted to get in touch with him. I asked him for a number so that I could call him.  Unfortunately, instead of getting in touch as I’d asked, he then fired off four public tweets, for everyone to read.

In the public Tweets he said that I had been putting some time and research into trying to get in touch with him. That’s a bit of an exaggeration as I spent just one minute on Google and one minute on the phone calling his last place of work. Ten seconds to send him a private Tweet.

And he made it seem as if I had been doing something wrong in following him –  completely ignoring the fact that he was following me.  If he hadn’t been following me, I wouldn’t have been able to send him a Direct Message.

But what really worried me was his public comment – “Should I expect grief or do you have to be a fellow writer to get grief?’

I was stunned that a barrister would think it appropriate to ask such a leading question in public.  It’s on a par with the legendary ‘how long have you been beating your wife’ question. I doubt any judge would allow such a question in court and I don’t understand why he felt it necessary to say that in public.  I did notice that not long after he sent the Tweets, he changed his profile to say that he was a non-practising barrister.

I thought that would be the end of it, but I was wrong.  Not long after that, Howard Jones started Tweeting about me again, but this time he made more serious allegations.

In a series of Tweets, Howard Jones accused me of being behind a sockpuppet account that had been active on Twitter.

That is an absolute lie. The account is nothing to do with me. I Tweet through two accounts and both are clearly labelled with my name on the profile page, @stephenleather and @firstparagraph.  Those are the only two accounts I use.  I don't know why Howard Jones decided to make those allegations in public, but they are lies and I deserve an apology. I doubt I will get one, because Howard Jones has demonstrated an unwillingness to engage with me directly, he prefers to Tweet insults and lies.

Howard Jones was recently elected as a Conservative Councillor for Leatherhead North - and yes, I appreciate the irony that my name plays such a large part in his life. He changed his Twitter profile to let the world know of his new political office. He removed the word 'politician' and added 'Councillor For Leatherhead North'. 

It was a close-won race. Howard Jones received 525 votes, only slightly ahead of Adrian Daniels of UKIP, who polled 512 votes, and Lib Dem Christopher Lloyd who got 519 votes. 

I hope the fact that he now is in office means that he'll stop trolling me. It's one thing to be trolled by a member of the public. It's another to be trolled by a (non-practising) barrister. But if  a Conservative Councillor for Leatherhead North takes to Twitter to harass someone they have never met or even spoken to, then that's a different matter. I'm sure that his constituents would rather he spent his valuable time looking after their interests than Tweeting baseless allegations about me. We shall see.


Howard Jones has just tweeted this:

In the Tweet he accuses me of being an Amazon fake reviewer.

Maybe he is confused, or maybe he is deliberately lying. I don't know. But the statement he made is a lie. And a lie told in public is a libel. As a barrister he would know that.

Here's the thing about Howard Jones. He is a barrister and barristers are governed by the Bar Code of Conduct which requires barristers to be courteous at all times. Clearly in my case he's being far from courteous so maybe I should complain to the Bar Standards Board? Or maybe I should ask the Conservative Central Office if they think he is behaving in a manner befitting an elected official representing the Conservative Party. Or get a lawyer to send him a "cease and desist" letter. Or do I just continue to ignore him? I just don't know. I just wish he would leave me alone.


Unbelievable as it may sound, instead of spending Boxing Day with his family, Howard Jones - who has risen to the dizzy heights of Mole Valley District Council's Executive Member for Town Centres - was on Twitter continuing to libel me.

He started off by calling me a narcissist, a sociopath and a bully. I don't think I'm any of those things. I'm certainly not a narcissist, I hate seeing my photograph and am able to see all my own faults to the nth degree. A sociopath maybe, but then a lot of successful people have sociopathic tendencies. The tricks to keep them under control.  A bully?  I can honestly put my hand on my heart and say that I don't think I am a bully. I don't recall ever attacking anyone unless I was attacked first. I will always defend my corner but I can't think of any occasion when I have gone on the attack without me being wronged first.

Name-calling is the norm on Twitter but Howard Jones crossed the line again with his next Tweets.

In them he accuses me of using sock puppet accounts to post bad reviews of rival authors. I have never done that. And why would I? Posting a bad review of a rival author (and that's in itself nonsense, authors are not rivals) doesn't help sell my books. And almost certainly wouldn't hurt that author's sales. It could be that Howard Jones is confusing me with another author outed by the Jeremy Duns he refers to. But he is quite wrong to make that accusation about me.

But his most damaging allegation is that I have fabricated bogus solicitors letters. I have never, ever, done that. I have no idea why Howard Jones has made that accusation. I do wonder why a barrister, albeit non-practising, is prepared to tell so many lies about me in public. It's all very worrying.

And I'm not the only one to have noticed that Conservative Councillor Howard Jones has been behaving badly on Twitter. CLICK HERE TO READ HOW HE USED THE MURDER OF MP JO COX TO SMEAR SUPPORTERS OF JEREMY CORBYN.

Interestingly, Howard Jones threatened the author of that blog with a libel writ if there were errors in the article! That's a bit rich considering the lies that Howard Jones has Tweeted about me!