Thank you

To all those who ‘bought’ my book on Kindle, thank you.  The results were… interesting.

You may not realise this, but Amazon is a ‘local’ website.  If you visit www.amazon.com you will be pushed towards www.amazon.co.uk – to the extent that you cannot buy from the .com site.  The .com site is for American customers; the .co.uk is what we Brits have to use.  There are also seperate sites for germany, italy, spain, and france – what the rest of Europe is supposed to do, I have no idea…

Trying to get more information about my own books on the American site was difficult – I managed it, of course, but it was difficult.  I had to deny who I was!  I had to tell the website that I was not me, and that I was not in the UK.  I got my answers, though.

Before I tell you how my book fared, I’d like to point out a couple of small things.  First, of the three books I have available on Kindle, only one of them (Revelation) has sold at all; it sold only two copies, and I paid for one of them myself.  The other two have never sold a single copy.    Second, there are hundreds of thousands of books available on Kindle – and the one I’ve sold two copies of is currently ranked at number 351,066 in the UK.  (It is unranked in the US, as I’ve only sold in the UK.)

OK, results.  (Nervous cough while waiting for the drum-roll…)  Ahem.  UK Sales: 30.  France, Italy and Spain sales: 0.  (Hate those foreigners, don’t you?)  German sales: 5.  (Ah, I take back that foreigners comment.)

So, 35 books sold.  That’s a big improvement on pre-promotion sales, anyway.  But wait… what about the US?

I’m glad you asked.  I did a little better over there.  Just slightly.  How many?  No, you don’t need to know that, just take my word for it.  Would I lie to you?  Honest, I did sell a couple more there.

Why do you look like you don’t believe me?

Oh okay, okay, I’ll tell you!  I sold 289 copies in the US.  Yes, that’s two hundred and eighty-nine, taking my total sales comfortably over the three hundred mark.

When I worked out how to check it, I found that my book had ranked higher than the 2,000 level.  I know, it’s not quite top of the bestseller list, but it’s waaaaaaay better than 350,000, isn’t it?

Over 300 copies ‘sold’ in five days.  In all honesty, I’d be happy to sell that many a year – especially if they were really sold, and not given away!  Not that I want the money for them – at 77p a time, 300 books is little over £200, and I can spend that on one fishing rod – I just want the books to be read, appreciated… Liked.

Now, I’m just biting my nails waiting for somebody to review or even rate the book.  Until I get some readers becoming ‘fans’ I’m not going to reach more potential readers/fans.

Writing the book is the easy part, I’m learning. 😕

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Do me a favour?

As most of you know, I’ve tried my hand at writing a book or two, and published them on Kindle.  The problem is, I’m lousy at the commercial side of things – mostly because I hate the things you have to do.

I won’t create a facebook page, tweet identity, myspace, or whatever to promote my books.  I won’t trawl websites looking for places to drop hints, or promote my books.  I won’t… oh, you get the point.

With Amazon and Kindle, this is a small problem.  The more people who download your books, the more popular you become – and the more they will promote you.  The big names, for instance, are always on the first page you see. 

It makes sense, I know.  But it creates a problem for all new writers: you have to break through the barrier to stand a chance of breaking through the barrier.

Well.  Last night, I managed to get one of my books, Genesis, included in the ‘free’ section.  For the next four days, anybody, anywhere, can download a copy for absolutely nothing.  Normally, this sort of promotion costs the writer: we have to pay for the download.

That’s the favour.  Go to Amazon.co.uk (or amazon.com), navigate to the Kindle books section, do a search for ‘Keith Bartholomew’, and download the book.  If you have a Kindle, fantastic!  If you don’t have a Kindle, no worries – if you look just under the ‘Buy now’ button, there’s a clickable link that says ‘Available on your PC.”  Use that and you can download a Kindle reader for your computer.

In the twelve hours since making the book available, I’ve had 32 copies downloaded – one in Germany – but I’d really love to get the number up into the hundred plus region.  Maybe then, people will risk paying for the other two that are available. 🙂

Don’t feel you have to read the book…  But if you do, please post a review on Amazon.   (Crosses fingers for ‘good’ reviews.)

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Battle Royal

“What happened to our food?”

Targus threw my shield at me, and snarled his non-answer.

“We’ve almost caught them – they’re just over that hill.”

A cold dawn, colder as we had camped late and made no fires, was now much worse: the food had still not managed to catch up with us.

We had been chasing the Pretender for days now, and with every day the supply train had fallen farther behind.

I was starving. 

All around me was the noise of war: horses snickered as they were mounted; swords rattled in scabbards and armour creaked, clattered and jangled; spears knocked against shields; and my stomach rumbled.  I checked to see if I was observed, and pulled a black and green lump from its hiding place in the boss of my shield.

Ignoring the insects on it, I broke off a small piece and placed it in my mouth.  The bread softened slowly as my spit soaked in, and after just a few minutes I was able to chew it enough to extract a little flavour.  Then I swallowed it, and treated myself to a second piece.

By now, I was in place among my comrades.  We were the shield line, defence against a cavalry charge or foot assault.  Ahead of us was the cavalry, ready to make a quick sortie against the enemy or a quick retreat behind our lines.  Ahead of them were the skirmishers, sword bearers eager to prove their insanity against the foe.

Behind us, of course, were the commanders.  Our main task was to defend them.

We were moving forward in the half dark, into a ravine that was making the commanders nervous.  There appeared to be no path to the top of the ravine, but there may be one ahead of us – so the enemy could have men above us, even now.

The commanders stopped.  Word was passed forward that their position gave them a perfect viewpoint, and that they would move forward when the enemy was no longer in sight.

The shield line stopped, too.  We were not allowed to move too far from the command post. 

I looked around.  Where I was standing, the path was at its highest, having risen over the last league or so.  From here, it slowly dropped as it narrowed, to the point where I could see the enemy.  Ignoring all the rules of etiquette, I took a look behind me at the commanders.  I had to look downhill to see them, too.  For a moment, I wondered how they could have a perfect viewpoint from there, then realised that being on horseback gave them a higher position: obviously, they could see over our heads.

I looked to the front again, just in time to see the last horses disappear from view, and a small cluster of swordsmen embracing each other before they entered the narrow gap, too.

Wait… not all of them.  One remained.  One lone swordsman stood in the gap, his sword unsheathed, the point of the blade resting on the stony ground before him.

Our advance ground to a halt, as cavalry and skirmishers both waited for the other to move forward, then a cavalry officer spurred his horse back through our shield wall to confer with the commanders, followed by a skirmisher who was gasping for breath before he even reached us. 

By the time the skirmisher reached the commanders, the cavalry officer had returned to his unit, and the cavalry withdrew, leaving the field open for the skirmishers. 

I heard the skirmisher returning, moving slowly, every inhale a desperate wheeze for oxygen – every exhale a curse against cavalry officers.  My comrades patted his back as he passed, and I took the opportunity to slip another piece of bread into my mouth.

The sun hit me in the face, warming me a little, as the skirmishers prepared to attack.

The gap in the ravine was so narrow that the cavalry would have to approach single file, and even the skirmishers would be in each other’s way if they attacked by twos – so they sent their best man in first.  He approached slowly, cautiously, and paused when he was just outside sword range – challenging the lone swordsman to attack.

I wasn’t close enough to witness what happened then, but the story is well-known, and I feel free to report it here as if I saw it in person.  I did see it, but at a distance.

The swordsman lifted his sword just as the sun poured through the gap, outlining him in golden light.  He closed his eyes for just a second, and spoke:

“What a beautiful place to die.”

Then he swung his sword, parrying the attack from the skirmisher who had thought to take advantage of his opponents closed eyes.

One by one the skirmishers attacked. One by one the skirmishers fell.  The bodies piled up before the swordsman,  creating an obstacle the skirmishers had to cross to attack – but one that also blocked the swordsman view.  He was forced to move back with every kill.  Just one step, but a retreat all the same. 

Eventually, he had retreated so far through the gap that it was no longer a gap: the skirmishers could attack by twos.  He held out a little longer, but finally he fell, and the road ahead was clear.  We could resume our chase of the pretender to the throne.  Or did we serve the pretender?  I forget.

As we cleared the bodies from the path, and lit our campfires for the night, I felt an overwhelming gratitude to that lone swordsman: not only had his sacrifice given his friends time to escape – it had also given the supplies time to catch up.

Food!  At last!

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Dance

The reception was in full swing, and I watched as the bride pranced around the dance floor from which I had been banned.

“Sarah dear, we simply can’t have my guests laughing at you, not at my wedding. Please promise me you’ll stay away from the dance floor?”

Alison had always had a weight problem.  Not that she was overweight, oh no, no. No, she was the original size zero, always had been.  No, the problem she had was with my weight.  Ever since we had moved in next door, Alison had been trying to ‘help’ me with my weight.  Diets, exercise regimes, videos, stomach staples – Alison had tried the lot without success: My size only ever increased.

Alison worried about my health, my weight, my love life, everything. 

God, she annoyed me!

So here I was, at her wedding.  Not a bridesmaid, of course – that post was reserved for her equally paper-thin cronies – but Matron of Honour.  Matron of Honour?  Me? 

I glanced across the room, to the other side of the dance floor, and saw a smiling Dawn give me a little wave.  Size thirty, like me, Dawn loved a good party – though she, too, was banned from the dance floor.  Scanning the room, I caught the eye of several other dance floor personae non grata.  Alison, over the years, had gathered together a whole tribe of us, all of whom had had the benefit of her ‘help.’

A scream of laughter from the dance floor grabbed my attention, and I looked to see a freely perspiring and seriously out of breath Davina stagger to her table for a restorative.  She’d managed two whole dances this time, bless her.  Still, when you’re that thin,  you have nowhere to keep a spare battery. 

Alison’s gang were now reduced to simply swaying to the music, supporting each other as they did so.

Time.  Time to do this.  I stood up, and waddled to the dance floor as the first strains of ‘Macarena’ filled the room.

At the edge of the arena, I paused, just for a moment, and checked my surroundings – then I launched into the dance.

Alison never knew what hit her, as six very large, very driven ladies executed a flawlessly synchronised Macarena, followed by the twist, the chicken song, and a can-can in quick succession.  For the rest of the evening, I danced rings around Alison, Davina, et al.  Oh, they tried to keep up with us, but our dance troupe had been rehearsing for years, and we were at the top of our game.

I may be on the large side, but that doesn’t mean I’m unfit, or unhealthy – it just means I’m large.  Oh, and happy.


I make no apologies for this (or, indeed, my last) post.  Sometimes, something I see or hear causes an idea for a short story to pop up in my mind – so I give them a little space to grow.

As it happens, I had two such ‘pop-ups’ in close succession, so you got two slightly comic observation pieces.  You may get another one soon, you may not see another for a long time – there’s no way of knowing.

Just enjoy (or not) when you do get them.

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Updating Kindle

I hate myself, I really do.

As you know from reading my blog, I have a deep and abiding hatred of commercial manipulation in the form of marketing/advertising.  I go out of my way to be unaffected by any advertising I see.  But I sit here now, deeply ashamed of myself.  I have been persuaded to buy a Kindle.

I know, I know, it’s only a couple of weeks since I said I would only buy one if the price of Kindle books dropped below those of ‘real’ books.  In my defence, when I looked, I saw all the books I fancied were cheaper for Kindle versions.  Honest… (or was that a dream?)

Whatever – I love it.  I’m glad I bought it, and I’m thoroughly enjoying reading a book on it.

But, I thought I’d give you devoted readers an unbiased review of this new device.

First, if you read the advertising blurb, you could be forgiven for thinking that you don’t need a computer to use it.   This is, mostly, true – you can use it, and download books onto it, without a computer.  BUT you need to set up an account with Amazon to get the books, and you need a computer to do that! 

You also, absolutely, need a wireless network.  You can only put books on the Kindle in one of two ways: through a wireless network, or by connecting it to a computer using the USB cable. 

You cannot – as I must confess I believed you could – buy a new book on the Kindle while you’re not at home.  Unless, of course, you have access to somebody else’s wireless network wherever you are.

Second.  You open the box, and find inside it a Kindle, a USB cable, and an instruction book consisting of less than 100 words in many many different languages.  The instructions?  Plug the USB cable between a computer and the Kindle.  That’s it.

Once it’s charging up, the Kindle comes alive, and starts asking you questions. 

Now, without wanting to be arrogant about it, I know it is fair to say that I am the most technically minded person I know.  Nobody I know is better suited to dealing with a matter like this.  It took me three attempts to get connected to my wireless network. 

Setting up the Kindle was not ‘easy.’  I did it, but the next time I turned it on, I had to set up the wireless network again.

Once it was set up – once I had connected to the network, and registered it, and everything was ready to go – only THEN did it move on the next bit.  And guess what the next bit was?  It was a set up guide, talking you through it step by step…  Yes, you have to set up the wireless to download the guide on how to set up the wireless!

I bought my Kindle yesterday: today my partner and I went for an eye-test, and quite a few people, including the optician, were admiring it.  Yep, I took it with me, and read while I waited.

I just slipped it into a pocket.  It’s so small, and light, I almost forgot I had it with me, but when I picked it up and turned it on I was instantly lost in the story I was reading.

A word of warning: during the set up process, or somewhere in the guide, I read something that concerns me a little, though.  It seems that even while ‘off’ it will still receive ‘special offers’ from Amazon, to be displayed when I turn it on.  I haven’t seen any yet, and I’m really hoping I don’t, but I should have guessed that they wouldn’t miss an opportunity like that.  They have my name, address, and reading habits.  Now I’ve bought a book from them, they’ll want to sell me all the other books by the same author, and by other authors who write like him, and authors with a similar name, and authors with book whose title is similar, and books that have no connection at all but they thought I might like, and books…. well, you know how it goes.

The Kindle itself is a joy to hold and use – the marketing behind it is dreadful.

So, buy a Kindle, then buy my books for it, then ignore Amazon after that.

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Re Kindled

The Kindle device – used for reading ebooks bought from Amazon – has just been updated.  I saw the adverts for it, and was tempted.

The new device is smaller (while still having the same size screen), lighter, and cheaper than the old one.  On the negative side, it will only hold up to 1,400 books at a time, and the battery will not last quite as long as on the old model.  You’ll now have to charge it up every couple of weeks rather than every month…

Honestly, the bits they’ve cut down on to save costs are not important – apart from the possibility of a full charge not quite lasting you through a fortnights holiday, and who can afford a fortnight these days?

Read more…

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Those damned programmers again

I’ve been stuck for a while on my new book.   Writer’s block, I suppose.  I know where I want it to go, I know the stops along the way – I just don’t know where to start.

This morning, while contemplating my navel in the bathroom, I wrote the start of the b0ok in my head.  Yay.

I quickly finished what I was doing, and fired up the computer, then sat down to write it.  I didn’t waste any time, I just used notepad to get the words recorded.  I am so glad I did…

With that first page jotted down, I thought I’d get some serious writing done – while I was in the mood, and the creative juices were flowing.  So I fired up MS Word, and started to write.

Then a thought occurred to me: I was most likely going to publish this on Kindle – wouldn’t it make more sense to write it for that? 

And that was it. 

Read more…

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All yours

I’ve put together a collection of short stories, written over a few years for one reason or another, and tried to publish them with Amazon.

They’ll publish them, but insist on a minimum price of 99c – about 60p, I think – and I wanted to give it away.  So I’ve uploaded them to this site, and you can download them for free.

If you click on this link, you can open or download the file, if you have the right software to do so.  If you don’t have the right software, you can either get the Kindle reader from here, or a Mobipocket reader from here.

Do not, ever, simply ‘open’ a file like this.  Always download it, and then run a virus scan on it before you open it.  (If you don’t know how to do that, try right-clicking on the file – you should get a menu on which there is a ‘scan with…’ item that names your anti-virus program.)

Yes, it’s true that I would never offer you a file that was infected.  But, the file is on a server that is out of my control, and it will be delivered to you through many other servers – it can get infected at any time, any place.  No matter how much you trust the source, always run a virus check.

I hope you enjoy the stories, and I really hope that they make you more interested in reading my books.

I’m working on the third one now, and I’d welcome some feedback, good or bad.

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Such sillyness

As you know, I’ve published a book on Kindle, and you can buy it at Amazon.  So, naturally, I’ve been looking at their facilities for promotion.

One of them is their ‘Author Central’ service. 

On Author Central, you – the reader – can view the Author profile, bibliography, etc.  So, I followed the links, and put in some info and a link to this blog.  Great.  I now have a page on Amazon where anybody in the World can find out about me as an Author.

Only… It turns out that the links I followed from the Amazon UK site took me to the Amazon USA Author Central site.  So anybody visiting Amazon UK and looking at my book will find the Author info page blank.  Visit the Amazon USA site, look at exactly the same book by exactly the same Author, and you can read my profile.

I thought this was ridiculous, so I found the right place to leave feedback on the site/service, and told them I thought it was silly that the two were not linked, and that I had to fill out two identical profiles for the same Author of the same book.

Their reply?  They told me the two sites were not linked, and that I’d have to fill out two ident..  What’s the point?  They told me exactly what I told them.

Or do they think that a book may have a different Author according to the country?

I’ll repeat it here, for all to see: Having identical sites for UK and USA which MUST hold the same data is just stupid.  It’s much too easy for a mistake to creep in.

The really stupid thing is, I only wanted to publish in the UK anyway – but what we have in the UK is a badly adapted version of the USA service, which brags about how you can now buy your book in UK pounds!

So, if you want the best profile page for me, go to Amazon.com and look up my book there.  (All you need to do is go to the Amazon site and enter my pen-name of ‘Keith Bartholomew’ – you’ll soon find my book.)  On the book page, follow the link to my ‘author page’ and read all about me.  Or not.

See you next time.

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Yippee

My first book has just been ‘published’ on the Kindle platform, and I’m quite pleased about it.

I’ve talked about Kindle before, and there is no way that I would tell you to go out and buy one – but you don’t need to. There is a free program available that allows you to read Kindle publications on your PC, and various other devices – like the ipad – can utilise the Kindle format.

The price of the book is set at the absolute minimum that was available to me – I’m not trying or expecting to make money from this.  I just want my work to be read by people who don’t care about hurting my feelings.  I’ve spent a lot of time working on that thing, and… well… I want it to be read.

I’d like to appeal to my family and friends – anybody who knows me personally, in fact – to not buy the book.  I’d be quite happy to email you a copy if you want one.

For my readers who don’t know me personally, if you would like to buy it, you can get it from the Amazon UK website. The price at present is £1.71, and you can actually read the first five chapters or so for free.

Just for the record: Yes, I’m advertising. 😉  You caught me.  I am shamelessly advertising, marketing, and promoting my book.  I see no moral or ethical problems in doing so, though, as I’m doing so on my own site, and not intruding on anybody elses time or space.

Next time I publish a book, I’ll do exactly the same.  I’m shameless.

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