28 October 2013

SELF PUBLISHING - PART 7 - Choosing The Best Categories

If you choose to publish on Kindle Direct Publishing KDP, you will be asked to place your book in to two categories so I suggest you give some thought about what categories relate to your particular book.  For example, for a work of fiction in the mystery genre you would first choose the following:-

FICTION>Mystery Thriller & Suspense>

As there are several sub-categories under Mystery Thriller & Suspense, you can then choose two sub-categories.  The following are your choices:-

Mystery Thriller & Suspense
  • Mystery
  • Cozy
  • Crime
  • Police Procedural
  • Suspense
  • Thriller
  • International Mystery & Crime
  • Crime Fiction
  • Series

FICTION>Mystery & Suspense>Police Procedural
FICTION>Mystery& Suspense>Mystery

Before you make your choices, however, do a bit of research in to how many books are listed on Amazon in the sub-categories you plan to use.  To do this, go in to Amazon, click on Kindle eBooks and on the left hand side of your screen you will see a list of categories.  If you drill down in these categories, you will then see how many books there are in each sub-category.

For example, at time of writing:-
Police Procedural 4,601
Cozy 1,486
Mystery 50,825
Crime Fiction 26,077
 -Murder 5,428

International Mystery & Crime 745
Series 411
Suspense 33,507
Thriller 43,616

As you can see from the two examples I chose above:-

FICTION, MysteryThrillerSuspense, Police Procedural
FICTION, MysteryThrillerSuspense, Mystery

the sub-category I chose for Police Procedural has a lot less competition with only 4,601 books compared to the Mystery sub-category with 50,825 books in it.  If you do happen to have a run on sales, you have a far better chance of obtaining a good rank in a sub-category with fewer books in it.

Therefore, rather than the Mystery sub-category, I would have been better off to choose Cozy that has only 1,486 books.

FICTION, MysteryThrillerSuspense, Cozy

Then again, I could have chosen Crime Fiction that has an extra sub-category:-

FICTION, MysteryThrillerSuspese, CrimeFiction,Murder

Crime Fiction does have 26,077 books , but Murder only has 5,428.  Your book will get exposure from both these categories.

16 October 2013


I thought I'd share with you a story that was passed on to me some years ago about a lady who could, to my mind, see the bigger picture.

The 92 year old, petite, poised and proud lady, who dressed each morning by 8am with her hair fashionably coiffed and makeup perfectly applied (even though she is legally blind) moved to a nursing home today.

Her husband of 70 years recently passed away making the move necessary. After many hours of waiting patiently in the lobby of the nursing home, she smiled sweetly when told her room was ready. As she manoeuvred her walker to the elevator, I provided a visual description of her tiny room, including the eyelet sheets that had been hung on her window.

'I love it,' she stated with the enthusiasm of an 8 year old having just been presented with a new puppy.

'Mrs Jones, you haven't seen the room yet,' I said.

'That doesn't have anything to do with it,' she replied.  'Happiness is something you decide on ahead of time.  Whether I like my room or not doesn't depend on how the furniture is arranged... it's how I arrange my mind, that counts.'

'I've already decided to love it.  It's a decision I make every morning when I wake up because it seems to me that I have a choice.  I can spend the day in bed recounting the difficulty I have with he parts of my body that no longer work, or I can get out of bed and be thankful for the parts that do.  Each day is a gift, and as long as my eyes open, I'll focus on that day.'

11 October 2013


The Lady of the Rivers
by Phillipa Gregory

The Lady of the Rivers is part of Phillipa Gregory’s, The Cousins’ War, series.  Set in France and England during the reign of King Henry VI, it follows the life of Jacquetta of Luxembourg who is part of a family endowed with the ability to foresee the future, and descendents of the river goddess, Melusina.

As with The Red Queen, The Lady of the Rivers tells the story of the War of the Roses, but from the perspective of Jacquetta who, at the tender age of 17, finds herself married to the Duke of Bedford, a man twice her age.  The Duke encourages Jacquetta in her occult abilities to foresee his military fate.

With a mixture of historical facts and fiction, Phillipa Gregory has woven a fascinating tale using both real and imaginary characters, providing a window in to their lives in a time of treachery, betrayal and war.

For me, The Lady of the Rivers was a page turner as I became captivated by Jacquetta’s life.  Some interesting points it has sparked for me are, the illness suffered by King Henry VI, the history of the castle of Calais, the Queen, Margaret of Anjou, and a wish to read about Jacquetta’s daughter, Elizabeth.

The Cousins' War series encompasses the following books:-
The White Queen
The Red Queen
The Lady of the Rivers
The Kingmaker’s Daughter
The White Princess
The Last Rose

8 October 2013


We all love to read books where characters jump off the page.  Not only can we imagine what these people look like, but their idiosyncrasies and faults are also evident.  They appear real, and we remember them long after we’ve finishing reading their story.

So, how do readers become so passionate about a character who only exists on the written page?
The short answer is that the character is three dimensional.  Not only has the author described the character’s appearance, but flaws and strengths in personality, and how the character deals with the ever increasing tension as he strives to reach his goal.  We will also have observed the changes that occurred in the character as the story progressed.  This all adds up to the reader caring for, and relating to that character.

How to tackle character development is entirely up to the individual.  Some authors start by creating a detailed list of each character’s physical attributes and personality traits etc., while others might start writing while only having the merest idea of their character’s vocation, general appearance, personality type and background.

I tend to do the latter.  To start with, I give a few physical details that will help the reader imagine this person.  After all, I have a whole book in which to describe (show don't tell) my character’s flaws and quirks without putting it into one paragraph as soon as he or she is introduced.  Here is an example from Murder At The Rocks.

Tall and lean, his refined features enhanced by deep blue eyes, Nicholas Harford cut an imposing figure as he strolled through Terminal 4 of the Los Angeles International Airport for his flight to Sydney and the last leg of his long journey home.  Uppermost in his thoughts was his father, Edward Harford, and their estrangement which had led, in part, to his journey to South America.  The other reason for his year-long sojourn was his entanglement with Claire, the wife of a friend and colleague.  But it was the inevitability of being captured once again by Edward’s oppressive ways that kept him away.  Only when Andrew Pemlett’s letter caught up with him in Ecuador with news of Edward’s ill health did Nicholas contemplate returning to Australia.

I then sprinkle any quirks my characters have throughout the book, and repeat some of these so as  to refresh my reader’s memory.  For example, in my Fitzjohn mystery series, Fitzjohn’s wire framed glasses are mentioned often as is his rotund shape.

How do you create your characters?

See also