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.