What is More Important?

As an author, what would you consider to be more important, book reviews, or book sales?

To most of us struggling authors, the answer to the above question seems simple enough – it has to be book sales. If you publish through a traditional publisher who has a substantial promotional budget, access to the TV and press, and the ability to put your books on the shelves of the major bookshops, it will probably work for you. But if you’re an indie publisher and your sales are purely Kindle or E-book orientated, then it’s a different scenario. When you don’t have something with an attractive cover that will make your book stand out on the shelf, draw the prospective reader in, something they can pick up, flick through and read the odd page or two, then they have no way of deciding whether they might like what is inside or not, and as result you cannot hope to generate sales. As an E-Book publisher, the reviews that your book receives on sites like Amazon and Goodreads are your best promotional tool as, in reality, they are the shop front for you book.  Trial TA2

So after a rather lengthy, and what some might consider a rather obvious observation, I hope that you will forgive me for what looks like a bit of outright begging.

My book The Apprentice, the first book in the “Alex Keyes” trilogy, was published on June 22 of this year. The combined sales and a free download promotion have been extremely encouraging, however, as of today, I have only received five reviews, although I’m not complaining, as they were all “Five Star”. So with the hope that I don’t offend anybody, if you have downloaded and read the book, and can spare the time, could I ask you to please leave a review on either on Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com, and to make it easier for you, the links to both sites are shown below.

Thank you to everyone who has either bought or taken part in the free download promotion.

Amazon.co.uk – Reviews

Amazon.com – Reviews



Hope For Us All

On the 16th of June, I published a post on this blog titled, “Are you an aspiring thriller, writer?” The subject covered the rapidly changing world of publishing for the writers of the so-called “boys books” genre.

To quote one editor: “Market research is telling us that the majority of books are now being bought and read by women and that they have no wish to read military-style thrillers. So unless your work can meet the new guidelines, immediately appeal and connect with a female audience, it won’t even make it onto the desk”.

So you can imagine how thrilled I was to read this “five-star” review written by a woman on Amazon.com.  Trial TA2

“Having read Theo’s previous book, an autobiography ‘A Hell for Heroes’, I was very keen to read more from this engaging author. I was not disappointed in the least and finished the book in a weekend. ‘The Apprentice’ is a story of Alex Keyes – an ex-Olympian who is forced to become a spy. But there is so much more to the story than this, an engaging depth that draws you in.

Alex is a strong, lethal fighter but who also has a very human side which tends to cause him degrees of pain and concern. This is what I love about Mr. Knell’s writing and his character – the range of understandable and relate-able emotion as well as a story that doesn’t follow the same blueprint as those in similar genres.

The story follows Alex on a secret mission behind the Iron Curtain – a journey that will test all his skills and make him question whom he really is as he is forced to almost change identity to make his way across the harsh land and help him survive several hit men.

I can’t wait for the next installment in this series and would recommend it to anyone, regardless of their preferred genre, for an engrossing, enjoyable read.”

It would appear from the above review, that it is not impossible for the writers of the so-called “boys books” to meet the new publishing guidelines.

Have a great weekend all.

Amazon.co.uk – Reviews

Amazon.com – Reviews

It’s Over!

Good morning everybody.  Well, you can now all breathe a sigh of relief, the free download for my book, “The Apprentice” finished an hour ago.  I would just like to say a huge thank you to everybody who took part, the number of downloads was staggering.  As I said earlier this week the idea was to get people reading my work, and hopefully enjoy it, well there are certainly a lot more people who now have access to my work, only the reviews will tell us if they enjoyed it.  TheoKnell

You all have a fantastic weekend, one where there will be no mention of free book downloads, well not from me anyway.

Take care

Last 24 Hours

Trial TA2Good morning everyone.  Today is the final day of “The Apprentice” FREE download.  As of midnight PT, (8 am BST Saturday) the price will return to £3.85 or $6.00 depending on whether you use Amazon.co.uk or .com, so if you would like to claim your free copy, today is your last chance.  To all those who have already taken advantage of the free download, thank you very much for taking part.

What to Put In – What to Leave Out?

When writing a modern-day thriller the story must be both driven and informative.

Firstly, as the name implies, the story must thrill. It should be a rollercoaster of a journey that keeps the reader glued to the pages and on their toes, encouraging them to look for clues and make assumptions. If, as the writer, you have done your job properly, the clues will be subtle, and in most cases the reader’s initial assumptions, although logical, will be wrong, leading to comments like “wow, I really didn’t see that coming!”.  The Thinker

Secondly, the story should be fast moving and not get bogged down in irrelevant detail. For instance, in a thriller the description of a person, place or object must be relevant to the story. Detailed descriptions of a person, their clothing and looks are all very necessary in a love story or historical drama as they add to the overall atmosphere and desire, but in a thriller every word written should drive the story forward and at a pace. Along with a character’s looks, their clothing gives us clues as to who they are and what they do, even before they have said or done anything. In the two examples below each description will tell the reader everything, they need to know about the character to form an initial opinion as to whether they are Friend or Foe?

“She was a pretty girl, tall but not ungainly, with a waspish waist and long legs. He looked at her feet, she was wearing flat shoes, probably in an effort to reduce her height, and make sure that her feet made it through her long shift.”

“Standing directly beneath a streetlamp, he made no attempt to hide his identity. It wasn’t the same man who had followed him on his first night in London. This man had no military bearing. He was short, probably not much more than five foot seven or eight. In his late forties and dressed in a non-committal dark suit that looked to be badly worn, and baggy at the knees. His hair was long, dark and wavy, and his face was tanned, but not as a result of spending too much time lounging in the sun. Jack guessed that he had worn his colouring since birth. He had the look of Romany about him.”

The same rule applies to your description of a place or location. It should make the reader feel either comfortable or fearful for the character.

“Standing at the entrance to Mill Lane, the narrow street that Mrs. Butler had directed him to, Jack stared into the darkness. It was more of an alleyway than a street, and it was poorly lit. Halfway along it, he found the “Rose” and looked up at the building. Even from the outside it was a disappointment.”

Up until now we have covered what needs to be included, but what about the things that should most definitely be left out? Of course, general descriptions of an environment are always necessary. They paint a picture, giving the reader clues as to what might or might not happen, as well as telling you a little more about the character. However, what you should avoid is making the description too detailed, and in doing so draw the reader’s attention to something that is totally irrelevant to the story and will never be mentioned again.

Jack looked around the small room. It contained a single wardrobe, a small armchair, and although it was currently bare, a large double bed that looked comfortable enough.   To the right-hand side of a tall window that looked out towards the river, was a narrow fireplace. Jack nodded his head. `This will do just fine.`

The above passage does the job it’s supposed to do. It reinforces the fact that Jack is there to do a job, and as a result he is happy to take whatever is offered, even rough it a little. But by adding just a few extra words you run the risk of leading the reader astray, and as a result they begin to read things into the story that aren’t there. For example:

Jack looked around the small room. It contained a single wardrobe, a small armchair, and although it was currently bare, a large double bed that looked comfortable enough.   To the right-hand side of a tall window that looked out towards the river, was a narrow fireplace. Jack stared at the officer’s sword that hung above it, and nodded his head. `This will do just fine.`

The sword is irrelevant, it plays no part in the story, but now, because it has been mentioned, the reader will be waiting to find out how and when it will be used. You may get away with something like this once, possibly twice, but readers will quickly become tired of being fed irrelevant and misleading information.

The simple rule is: if something doesn’t have a purpose, a significant part to play in the story, either now or later – DO NOT INCLUDE IT.