Sunday, February 27, 2011

Article About Me In The Observer Newspaper

I'm featured in The Observer newspaper in the UK today, along with US eBook star Amanda Hocking. It was written by the paper's books editor and it was clear from talking to him that journalists are as confused as everyone else about where the publishing world is going! I suggested that the paper starts to review books that have only been released as eBooks which is something that doesn't happen at the moment. The papers seem to think that a book only exists if it has been published by one of the big firms and really that's no longer the case and there are some great eBooks out there that don't exist as a physical edition!

A very cute photographer spent an hour taking my picture around Dublin but on the online story they used a photograph of a blonde lady holding a Kindle! I'm off to buy the paper to see if they used my picture in it!

CLICK HERE to see the article!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

How My Christmas Wish Came True

The UK Publishers Association has just revealed that the number of e-readers in the United Kingdom doubled over Christmas.

How cool is that? One in twelve adults in Britain received an e-reader as a Christmas present, and there are now 6.5 million adults with them, equivalent to 13 per cent of the population.

Of course the Kindle was the most popular and one in four of e-book users now have one. According to the Publishers Association, almost two-thirds of the adults who were given an e-reader for Christmas immediately downloaded a paid-for e-book and the average new user has already bought six books. The PA suggests that up to ten million e-books have been sold in the UK since Christmas compared with almost 17 million dead tree books.

Was I surprised? Absolutely not. In fact, I predicted this would happen back in October last year. I knew that the Kindle was about to become the most-gifted item ever in the UK and so I put three of my books up on Kindle in late October. I spent November and December marketing the books so that on Christmas Day I had all three in the Top 5 of the Kindle Bestseller list.

I knew that on Christmas morning hundreds of thousands (though even I didn’t predict three million!) of people would be opening their Christmas presents and discovering that they had an e-reader. And I knew that the first thing they would do would be to start buying books and that many would go to the Kindle bestseller list for suggestions. And that’s why I sold 7,000 copies on Christmas Day, another 5,000 on Boxing Day, and 44,000 in December as a whole.

It was a total one-off and will almost certainly never be repeated. But one thing is for sure – the number of e-readers in the UK is going to continue to rise.

Monday, February 7, 2011

How To Deal With Bad Reviews On Amazon

One of the most important selling tools for any Indie author trying to sell on Kindle are the reviews. Ideally you want as many four and five star reviews as possible because there’s no doubt that buyers are influenced by reviews, good and bad.

If a book is good then overall the number of good reviews will outweigh the bad, but in the early days one bad review can be damaging.

If you do get a bad review, it’s worth taking a good look at it. If Amazon feels that a review is ‘spiteful or malicious’ they will remove it! All you have to do is to contact Customer Services and explain why you think the review is unfair. Obviously you can’t just ask for a review to be removed simply because a reader didn’t enjoy the book. But there’s no doubt that there are some people who go around posting malicious one-star reviews! If I do get a one-star review I always look to see what else they have reviewed, and more often than not I find that my book is the only one.

Last month a reviewer gave Dreamer’s Cat just one star when they admitted that they hadn’t even read the book. This is what Pat wrote:

1.0 out of 5 stars
Present tense, 31 Jan 2011
Pat "technophobe" (UK) - See all my reviews

This review is from: dreamer's cat (Kindle Edition)

This is not a review as such, as I haven't read the book and unfortunately won't do so. Why? Because it's written in the present tense which, in my opinion (and I stress that it is only my opinion), simply doesn't work for a full length novel.

I've read other Stephen Leather novels and as far as I can remember he's always written in the past tense. Please return to your former technique, Stephen!

At first I thought it was funny, but Dreamer’s Cat only has 27 reviews, and while most of them are favourable there’s no doubt that a one star review brings down the average rating. Anyway, I dropped an email to Customer Services and today I got the following message back –

Hello Stephen Leather,

Thank you for bringing this customer review to our attention.

We have taken action to remove the customer review as it does not comply with our guidelines and will shortly disappear from the website. Our intention is to make the customer review forum a place for constructive commentary and feedback.

We thank you for taking the time to report this. Feedback from conscientious customers such as yourself helps us maintain the quality and integrity of our website.

And with minutes the offending review was gone!

So it does pay to keep a track of the reviews you’re getting, and if you feel that you have been given an unfair review, it’s worth taking it up with Amazon!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

I Sold 45,303 Copies In January

I’ve just got my Kindle figures for January 2011 and I’m happy to say that I sold 45,303 copies – a slight increase on December.

My bestseller was The Basement which topped the Kindle UK Top 100 for the month. Not included in my sales figures are Hard Landing, which is at the Number 2 position. Hard Landing is the first in my Spider Shepherd undercover cop series. My publisher Hodder and Stoughton have cut the price to 49p and are continuing to keep the price low for at least another month while we see if it feeds through to increased sales of the rest of the series. I would estimate that we’re selling more than 600 copies a day of Hard Landing. The rest of the series do seem to be moving up the rankings, but slowly! I think that reflects the fact that they are still quite expensive, with some of them actually selling for more than price of the real book.

In second place, sales-wise, is my vampire story, Once Bitten. It sold 13,101 copies, just less than half of The Basement sales. Prior to Christmas, Once Bitten was selling twice as many as The Basement, and I’m still not sure why there was a turnaround. Both are getting lots of reviews (mainly four and five star) with The Basement already passing the 100 review mark with Once Bitten not far behind!

In third place, sales-wise, is my science fiction novel, Dreamer’s Cat, with sales of 3,761. For two weeks I had priced Dreamer’s Cat at £1.99 and that definitely hit sales so I have put it back to 72p which will, I think, increase sales this month. We’ll see.

My Bangkok novel Private Dancer only sold 185 copies during January, but the price is just under £4 so that’s not surprising.

The one book that I am disappointed with is my Bangkok detective novel Bangkok Bob and The Missing Mormon. It sold just 169 copies. For most of the month I sold the book at £2.99, which I think is a fair price but it hardly sold and only received eight reviews. I really don’t understand why it isn’t selling as I think it’s a good book. I have just cut the price to 75p (showing as 86p after VAT and delivery) to see if that helps, and in two days it moved from about 800 in the UK Kindle ranking to 400 or so. But that’s still only a few copies a day.

My American sales are still miniscule compared with my UK sales. In all I sold 856 copies through Kindle US in January, with The Basement, at 347 copies, doing best and Once Bitten close behind at 316. I don’t understand why Once Bitten isn’t selling better – it’s priced low (99 cents) and is getting great reviews, including four and a half stars from the Paranormal Romance Guild who featured the book on their website at

It’s still a mystery to me why I’m not selling better in the US and I’m currently talking to eBook guru Joe Konrath in the States about successful selling strategies. Watch this space!