Interview with Dorset Book Detective

I’m pleased to have a new interview with Hannah Stevenson on the Dorset Book Detective website, which you can read here.

Hannah Stevenson is the editor of the Official Inspector Morse Society’s newsletter, as well as an expert on Henning Mankell. She also has an MA in English Lit and a passion for reading crime fiction. Her blog contains many author interviews and reviews of crime books. It’s worth checking out!

Dude, where’s my book?

Unless you are a celebrity or already a bestselling author, nobody looks up your name on Amazon (and other retailers), so you are entirely dependent on whether or not readers can accidentally find your book when they are browsing.

The title, keywords and category are the only way of getting your book seen by customers – so you have to choose wisely.

Since one of my books hadn’t been selling for months, I decided to look for it via the usual methods – keywords and categories – just to see how easy it was to find it by browsing like a customer.

The book was called Crowning Achievements: The Legend of King Arthur – a very historically inaccurate and irreverent fantasy novel for fans of light fantasy and historical parodies.

In theory my King Arthur novel should have been listed if I searched for my chosen keywords – but these often produce huge lists of books. Common keywords like “fantasy” and “historical” might produce a list of thousands of books – so it makes sense to narrow the focus with more specific words and phrases.

Typing “King Arthur” produced too many results.

Typing “Crowning Achievements” produced memoirs about dentistry.

I knew what my keywords were, of course, so I expected to find my book listed somewhere if I used them for searching. One of them was “Arthurian” because my book is a fantasy about King Arthur. Amazon suggests “Arthurian” as a keyword if you read their help guide. Amazon lets you have two categories and six keywords – which can be used to put your book into narrower categories.

Doing a search resulted in 75 pages of results. My book wasn’t on the first page or the second one, which is about as far as a normal customer will go to find something. Nobody ever looks at all 75 pages. Therefore, my keyword was totally useless.

I decided to look up my book via the other major method of finding books – clicking on categories until I reached fantasy>arthurian.

Here’s a picture of my search results, starting with five million ebooks. I whittled the number down bit by bit …

 

Ah! Only 5 books! My book had to be in that category because it perfectly described what it was about.

I clicked on the link and looked at the page of results. I’ve blurred the image – but you can see the books.

Mine wasn’t there.

To say I was a little bit puzzled is an understatement. How could anyone browsing find my book if I can’t find it when I know the search keywords?

Amazingly, two of the five books were not remotely suitable for the category. They were werewolf-shifter romances set in the modern world.

Why were they listed – but my book wasn’t?

I chose appropriate keywords that put my book under “fantasy”, “historical”,” Arthurian”, “Merlin”, “King Arthur” and “humor”. (The American spelling of “humour” was required by Amazon). I followed their guidelines to make sure my book could be found in the right place – but it wasn’t anywhere.

Evidently, some kind of magic had made it invisible.

I’ve now gone back to Kindle Direct Publishing to make some keywords changes. I’ve also changed the title around so it is now The Legend of King Arthur: Crowning Achievements.

Hopefully, it will be more visible now – but if it isn’t, here’s a link to it for anyone interested.

The Legend of King Arthur on Amazon US

Amazon UK

 

Inside the writer’s mind – library cutbacks

Comic strip about writing and library cutbacks.

Shameful Cutbacks For Libraries

Last Friday, I was shocked to learn my local council intends to close two of the three libraries in my region. That will mean I’ll have to travel thirty minutes to the remaining one, which is something I won’t do, even though I love reading. It’s just not practical for me to travel so far. Instead, I’ll be forced to buy every book that I want to read, which will severely limit what I choose because I don’t have an infinite budget. I won’t discover any new authors by casually browsing until I find something new and exciting. I won’t learn obscure facts from giant reference books. I won’t try something different because it was free to borrow. Instead, my reading will be limited to only those books I can afford to buy.

Unfortunately, libraries are closing all over the country – in vast numbers. The government are slashing the number to save cash – allegedly.

When I was little, my dad used to take me to the local library so I could borrow loads of books on every subject under the sun. I love books today because I was exposed to so many when I was younger. If those books had not been free to read, I would not have read them and learnt to expand my imagination.

It’s incomprehensible to me any civilised society would close libraries when the benefits of keeping them open are so obvious. Libraries are a vital resource. Reading books develops critical thinking. It educates children. It provides pleasure and stimulates the mind.

Without libraries, future generations will be less educated than the current one, creating more problems than it solves, so it makes no sense to close them, no matter how bad the state of the economy. Employers always complain about the poor level of education of graduates unable to spell basic words and form grammatical sentences. Investing more in libraries will help solve that problem. The government needs to invest more in libraries – much, much more – if they want to reduce crime and poverty and improve society. Cutting back the number of libraries to save money costs more money in the long term. It’s insane. No libraries should be closed to “save” money.

It’s a false economy.

A big, ugly lie.

Closing libraries closes minds.

Does anyone want that?

We need to keep libraries OPEN.

We’ll be far worse off if they close.