Welcome to the November edition of Simon Says.
There is no survey this month (but there are some results from last month’s questions) and there is no history (which is another way of saying I’m nowhere near to finishing any historical novels).
For some readers this will be their first edition of Simon Says. Welcome to all! And I’d particularly like to welcome those new readers who got caught up in the technical difficulties that meant some missed out on a few of the welcome emails and others received multiple messages.
I’m sorry for the annoyance, but I’m pleased to have you here. So pleased that I feel the need for a free book for everyone.
The Camera: Free for a Very Limited Period
Between (Tuesday) 14 November and (Saturday) 18 November you can get The Camera for free on Amazon.
Get The Camera for free on Amazon, but hurry—this is a limited time offer.
Once you’ve read the book, if you’ve got time and the inclination, I’d really appreciate it if you could leave a review on Amazon.
Simon Says hits your inbox every month. It’s my chance to say “hi” and to talk about what I’ve been up to and what’s keeping me interested.
With the exception of my books, Simon Says is—for me—my most important production. It is my opportunity to directly communicate with people who read (or might read) my books.
With the last two editions of Simon Says, I’ve been asking questions; in September about the introductory sequence of emails and in October about Simon Says.
The reason for the questioning is to make sure I understand what readers think about what I’m doing. As I’ve mentioned in passing, I’m looking to make a few changes in 2018—nothing big, a bit of smartening up and a slight change in emphasis—and before I make any changes I want to make sure I’m moving in the right direction.
I’ll talk about my direction of travel in a moment, but first, some survey results.
Simon Says: Responses to Last Month’s Questions
Thank you to everyone who took the time to let me have your thoughts about Simon Says. The replies were fairly consistent which makes them easy to summarize.
- Everyone thinks that the frequency of the Simon Says email (once a month) is about right.
- As for length, one person thinks the email is a bit too long. Everyone else thinks the length is about right.
- No one wants alternative formats—video, audio, or whatever—which is quite lucky for me because that would have been extra work and logistics :-)
There were also some very kind comments.
Thank you all for taking the time to let me know what you think and thank you for the comments.
I really appreciate when a reader tells me that something I’m doing isn’t right for them. It gives me a chance to consider and perhaps to change.
As I mentioned, one reader felt that Simon Says is too long and suggested that I could make the email shorter by cutting some of the historical material. Those of you who have been around for a while will know that I’m working on a historical novel and as a result I have been talking about historical issues over the last few months, so I understand the notion that some of this could be cut.
But there’s another angle here—the historical material has engaged many readers.
Fundamentally, there’s a balance to be struck. Simon Says is intended to give readers something interesting and entertaining that is more than a headline and a single paragraph. It is intended to be longer, but at the same time, I don’t want to waste people’s time.
There is no “one true way” to get this balance right and while I try, I’m not certain that I always get the equilibrium correct. For at least one reader I have got it wrong, and to that reader, I apologize.
What Am I Intending With This Communiqué?
A writer without readers is not a good thing.
I want readers—and potential readers of my books—to hang around. The more people that hang around, and the longer that those people hang around, the greater the chance that they’ll read my books.
And to be clear, my aim is to be read. I’m not trying to sell books—I want to encourage people to read my stuff.
Simon Says is my monthly opportunity to give readers (and potential readers) reading material (as books in the introductory library, extracts from books, and articles in Simon Says). If someone reads what I put out and enjoys what they have read, then there’s a good chance they’ll want to read more.
And if people are enjoying what they read, then—over the longer term—they’ll happily pay for your reading. To my way of thinking, selling books is a byproduct of making readers happy.
However, it isn’t a case of buy a book or unsubscribe from Simon Says. I hope you do buy a book (heck, I hope you buy them all), but if you don’t, I’m still pleased to have you along.
My aim is to keep building and to nurturing a community of people around me who like books/reading and who enjoy what I write. Within this community, beyond buying books, there’s more that people can do to support me and help other readers, for instance:
- Write a review of one of my books (including the free books in my introductory library).
- Tell your friends and family about me and my books. Maybe pass a copy of Simon Says or forward a link to my free introductory library so that new readers can try my books and join the readers’ group.
- Ask questions—if you want to know something, there’s a good chance another reader will be interested.
Or you might want to just hang around—I’m happy to have you here for the ride. If you enjoy Simon Says and the free books in the introductory library, that’s enough for me.
2018 and Onward
At the start of this section I muttered about changes.
In short, there will be few changes around here. From time to time I will experiment (as I did in August with the extract from the historical novel), but fundamentally things will remain the same.
Where there will be a difference is outside of Simon Says (for instance, on social media). Those activities will continue, but they will have less emphasis—my focus is Simon Says.
What Simon Said in 2017
With Simon Says, I always talk about my books. But I talk about more, and now I’ve compiled that “more” from the last twelve months of Simon Says into a single volume ebook which can be read on your Kindle, iPad, phone, or other reading device.
Every article where I’ve been pushing my books has been taken out. So there’s no mention of recently published books, there are no extracts from published books, there are no special offers, and there are no giveaways.
But instead what you’ve got here is a collection covering:
- Answers to the questions I’ve had from readers where I’ve been able to take the opportunity to be a bit more expansive than a tweet or Facebook post may allow.
- My thoughts about the writing process and book research. This includes a bit of background to some of the inspirations for the books and discussions about a number of the issues I have wrestled with as I wrote my books.
- Some comments about books and movies or issues in the public eye.
This collection has then been collated by subject to give a smoother reading experience (you don’t have to cross-reference from one month to another). I’ve also added a table of contents to make navigation a bit easier.
You can download Simon Says 2017 here. I’m using the same distribution method as I use for my introductory library, so however you read those books, you can read this compilation.
Mystery and Thriller Giveaway
If you were paying attention last month, then you can skip this section. But in case you missed it, a quick reminder about a great giveaway.
I’ve got fifty mystery and thriller ebooks for someone’s Kindle.
The fifty books come from authors including John le Carré, Lee Child, Catherine Coulter, Nora Roberts, Sue Grafton, Blake Crouch, Paula Hawkins, Karin Slaughter, Mary Higgins Clark, and Liane Moriarty, to mention a few. I’m also in there with The Murder of Henry VIII.
If you want a chance of winning fifty free books, then head over here. Tell your friends. Tell your family. Tell anyone who might be interested. The more people you tell, the more chances you have to win.
And if you don’t own a hardware Kindle, don’t let that stop you from entering. You can read these books on a phone or tablet using the Kindle app.
Good luck to all who enter. And if you win, then be sure to let me know.
I’ve been watching Comrade Detective.
It’s fun…at least the idea is amusing, but I’m not sure it quite sustains over the full series (six episodes).
The central conceit is that this is a Romanian TV series made in the 1980s as a piece of Communist propaganda. With the end of Communism the series was lost, but this jewel of the genre has now been discovered and dusted down for public consumption.
In truth, this was filmed in 2017 as a period piece.
It was filmed in Romania with Romanian actors speaking Romanian. But subsequently the dialog was dubbed into English by “Hollywood” actors (including Kim Basinger, Daniel Craig, Channing Tatum, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Chloë Sevigny).
The story is—as would be expected for a 1980s piece—a typical cop set-up. A policeman is murdered and his partner tracks down the killer aided by the dead man’s childhood best friend.
The first episodes are good, but as the series continues, the joke wears a bit thin and some of the storyline choices run out of steam leading to the plot falling flat.
The satire works. The self-reflection is biting. But the knowingness doesn’t work and the an attempt to position this as a lost masterpiece (Channing Tatum and Jon Ronson talking to camera) is trite, cringeworthy, and undermines the show.
If you’re of a mood, do watch Comrade Detective, skip through the earnest talking heads and if the story line starts to drag, then that’s probably the time to stop watching.
This is the last full edition of Simon Says for 2017. There will be an communiqué in December, but it will be short.
I will be brief next month because Christmas and the holiday season is coming. And if you’re wondering what to give as a present, then why not give a book? If you’re looking for ideas, then head over to my website.
I’ll see you in December.
All the best