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Indie Sales Dominate

I must admit that data analysis is not one of my favourite pastimes. It is however a useful skill and I remain thankful to my BSc Psychology degree which often forced me into the world of data analysis. Data really doesn’t float my boat but occasionally something crosses my radar and I sit up and take note.

Take a look at the table below. In May 2016, Indie authors had captured almost 50% of the Amazon eBook market. We live in exciting times according to the report; today it’s possible to be a full-time professional author, earning $50,000+ a year without ever sending a query letter. On Amazon alone, the data shows (in the USA) over a thousand indie authors earning a full-time living right now with their self-published titles.

Indie Published 42%
Small or Medium Publisher 17%
Amazon Published 10%
Big Five 23%
Uncategorized Single Author Publisher 8%

Those stats speak volumes about how the various sub-sections of the industry are performing because after all, it is not only about the quality of the writing. Some weight has to be applied to the other sections of the publishing process. Ultimately, the readers are the “gatekeepers” but somebody has to get the words out there.

Here’s a 2016 breakdown of authors . . .

75,943 Indie Authors
123,371 Small/Medium Publisher Authors
    1,822 Amazon Imprint Authors
35,457  Big Five Authors
57,498 Uncategorized

In October 2016 things changed . . .

During the five short months since May, it seems that Indies lost their market share gains of the preceding 18 months. This was counterbalanced to a limited extent by a slight uptick in traditionally published unit sales: both Big Five and Small/Medium Traditional Publishers each gained roughly 1% in market share. But most of the lost indie market share seems to have gone to Amazon Imprints, who gained a whopping 4% in market share.

But I wonder? Is this decrease in Indie sales due to authors being hard at work on their next novel? It’s a tough balancing act between doing what we do best, getting our work out to the world and staying at the top of the listings.

What do you think?

If you want to see the full report, go to the Source: http://authorearnings.com/report/may-2016-report/

Powerful Female Characters

After receiving a wonderful review from (Elionor Jones), I was particularly encouraged by her remarks about some of the female characters in Beyond The Pyre.

More on that later because according to the Readers Digest and I guess a sizable list of readers, the following female fictional characters are said to be among the best of all time. That’s quite a claim to make when I think of many others I have loved as I read their stories. Not to mention (well I will at the end of this article) a few of my own.

Elizabeth (aka Lizzie or Eliza) Bennett

Elizabeth Bennett is the witty protagonist from Jane Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice. The second oldest of five daughters and, like the rest of her sisters, she’s not expected to marry for love, rather status and money. True to herself, she would rather stay single; a concept that was not generally acceptable at the time.

Nancy Drew

Her debut was in the 1930s but she remains one of the most iconic female characters. Conceived by Edward Stratemeyer, Nancy Drew’s character was ground-breaking because she wasn’t simply a pretty sidekick to a leading male counterpart. Instead, the bold, physically strong, and fiercely intelligent Nancy used her superior intellect to solve mysteries.

Josephine (Jo) March

Jo is a second eldest daughter and a central focus in the novel Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott.  At 15, she is strong-willed, confident, and literary. Unlike her sisters, she is outspoken and uninterested in marriage. Jo struggles with and defies society’s expectations of how women in the 19th century should carry themselves, making her one of literature’s most daring female characters.

Lisbeth Salander

My favourite on this particular list! She’s provocative, intense, and probably bi-polar but, most people she meets simply label her crazy. Lisbeth has become one of the most intriguing female characters in literature. As a lead character in Stieg Larrson’s novel The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, she is a world-leading computer hacker with a photographic memory who fights to overcome a traumatic childhood and helps solve a complicated series of mysteries. Her uncompromising moral code can be shocking but, devastating to those who find themselves on her radar.

Hermione Granger

Frequently collects ten points for Gryffindor, but Hermione is much more than a very intelligent young woman. As the lead female character in the Harry Potter stories and in my humble opinion was superbly cast in the films.  Her keen intellect and powerful memory are consistently evident, sometimes to the dismay of her friends, who often think she’s bossy and annoying. The Muggle-born Hermione transforms from an eager, know-it-all 11-year-old to a confident, loyal, and brave heroine.

Celie

Celie is both the narrator and protagonist of the outstanding novel, The Color Purple, by Alice Walker. At the hands of her father and then, later, by her husband, Celie is a lonely, dejected, emotionally and physically mistreated victim. Through the power of love and forgiveness, Celie finds her own strength and transforms into a confident, independent, and compassionate woman.

Katniss Everdeen

Katniss Everdeen is a contemporary icon. Strong, determined, and fiercely loyal, she is a highly skilled archer and hunter who becomes a leader in the rebellion against the tyranny of the Capitol. By the end of The Hunger Games 3, Katniss becomes a reluctant hero. A girl who was never ordinary who found courage and compassion under constant life-threatening circumstances.

Arya Stark

One of the lead females in George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones, Arya is a small, fiery force to be reckoned with. Tough with a capital T, the fiercely independent Arya outwardly scorns “noble” female hobbies like sewing and dancing in favour of sword fighting and horseback riding.

I think Martin must have met my youngest daughter. However, adding more of Arya’s stories might result in spoilers for some so I will be kind and stop here.

Now on to a few of my own superwomen in Beyond The Pyre. . .

“I also loved the female characters in the book! I love strong female characters, and this book was full of them. The main female characters were Catharine, from modern-day Britain, Sophie, a French Catholic supporter, and Elionor, a Catholic who supported peace between the faiths. Personally, my favourite of these characters was Elionor, and I loved the banter that went on between Elionor and her husband with regards to women’s position.

Catharine was also a strong female lead, and I liked again how Ben saw her as his equal, and the links between the two couples throughout were interesting and, often, adorable. I thought the fact that the 13th and 21st century couples mirrored each other was also a great element.

‘He knew that ventures into the spirit world could be draining, and Catharine never did things by halves.’”

Ask any writer about the value of reviews and they will tell you something on the lines of, ‘they are like gold.’ Of course they give the ego a pat on the back but they also inform us and help us to improve. Especially if the reviewers are honest about our work, which is exactly what Eleanor Jones gave me when she reviewed Beyond The Pyre; plenty to think about.

What she also gave me was a wonderful reminder relating to the personal side of me.

I was a child of the sixties brought up in a loving family with traditional values. Not much changed until I went to work at British Aerospace where I saw and worked with many women in positions of authority. Some were exceptionally independent; others accepted and bowed to the male dominated higher management. I began to challenge the status quo and found myself in frequent deep-water for doing so.

Moving on to university in the early 80’s and possibly influenced by Thatcher there was a huge increase in ‘feminism’ and sadly some of it was so extreme it turned away some men who were potential supporters. The debate on my course alone was often fiery and led to feelings of us and them.

Looking back, a little change has occurred and realistically, the 80’s explosion has settled and it at least started better recognition of women. There is still a very long way to go before real equality is achieved and I believe it needs to be approached from all aspects of life. Here’s one reason why I like to have strong female characters in my novels.

From a spiritual point of view I believe we are all equal and none are more equal than others (Sorry Mr Orwell), hence the balance between Elionor and Louis who spent much time in a Cathar community where the prevailing belief was equality. Catharine and Ben in the 21st Century practiced their own equality, or, did they carry it with them through the ages?

I’ve only mentioned two female characters but there are others for another day and some in my children’s novel Horando.

What do you think? Who is your number one female character?

I will leave you to consider the featured image that could well be Serdica from Beyond The Pyre.

 

#SynopsisThursday

Send in your synopsis today to be included on Thursday.

Here’s how it works.

You send a synopsis and link to your current or forthcoming book in 500 words (or less if you prefer), and I will present it here. In addition, I will promote the first one I receive each week (for seven days) on my social media accounts which are steadily growing.

No catches, that’s it, send a synopsis today.

Dusty Files Episode 1

Deep in the recesses of my old hard drives and notebooks some strange files lurk and all carry my name as the author. I’ve dusted them down and present them here for your reading pleasure (or not). Yet reading these causes me to celebrate the wonder of human development when I look back and try to remember what my writing felt like then, compared to today.

As much as I live for today, the past serves as an informant, it is what I have become today. Aside from the philosophising, some of the dusty files I have rediscovered have potential as stand-alone works while others may well be swallowed into something greater.

As with every feature here at Beyond The Pyre, you are very welcome to add some of your own dusty files with a link back to you. Go on, dust them down, it’s a great experience.

The 4001st Hole

‘They said there were four thousand holes in Blackburn, Lancashire in the 1960’s. Well, I can tell you that there were never four thousand holes in Blackburn; I know that because I was responsible for counting them and I don’t make mistakes. There was four thousand and one to be precise and would you believe it, they missed the most important hole that made its’ way from the street to the subterraway ever.

OK, you might argue that they didn’t actually miss the hole in question and that in fact they had included it in their total and had missed another one. Not true; I know that too because I followed them as they counted because I needed to employ an assistant and wondered if one of six applicants might be up to the job. They didn’t get the job because they proved to me that they could only see what everybody else sees and they had no capacity for spotting the special.’

‘What are you talking about, Bron? There are holes all over the place. The council or the utility people are always digging them. And, and, what’s a subterraway?’

‘It’s just a word to describe the underground routes around the globe and yes, they are always digging holes my friend but there’s a lot less now than there was in the 60’s. Anyway, I am not talking about any old hole. These are special. Imagine them as doors to other places that help you to travel almost at the speed of light to just about anywhere you want to go on the planet. Come on, I’ll show you what I mean.’

‘Have you been drinking, Bron? No, no, I know what it is. You been taking those two for one offers on ecstasy that they were on about on the news. You’ve frazzled your brain. I keep telling you to stay away from that stuff.’

‘I’ve not had any stuff and I’m offering you a rare chance to see something very unique. Now are you coming or not?’

With a resigned tut and thoughts of here we go again, Eric followed Bron through the shopping centre to the site of the old fire station where he suddenly grabbed Eric’s arm roughly and before he had a chance to say ouch, he found himself spitting sand from his mouth on a starlit beach in Goa.

Two hippies sitting nearby giggled and marvelled at the strength of the joint they had been enjoying while Bron encouraged the astounded Eric to keep his raincoat on and lead him away from the hippies after filling in the hole they had left. As they walked up the beach, Bron explained how they had come to be in Goa and how a network of subterraways connected the entire planet.

Eric felt sick. The skin on his face felt too tight and it hurt, as did every muscle in his body. He looked for familiar signs listened for familiar voices, looked for familiar shops, nothing was familiar and the sickly feeling turned to reality that Bron said would be washed away when the tide came in.

‘Here, eat this friend.’ Bron gave Eric an apple that he had picked up from Thompson’s on the way to the fire station. ‘It will get rid of that taste in your mouth and will put some of the sugar back that you lost on the journey. You see travelling at the speed we just did takes it out of you when you are not used to it.’

Eric still looked sick. ‘Why can’t I take my mac off?’

‘Trust me, you will need it in a minute,’ Bron said matter of factly and before Eric could utter another word he caught a glimpse of Bron’s arm and hand which held his before he felt himself being violently jerked through the sand. Several whooshing sounds and one very loud pop later, they appeared on a ledge beneath an ear-shattering waterfall near Ingleton, North Yorkshire.

‘I want to go home now. Please take me home,’ Eric simpered.

‘I have just given you the trip of a lifetime.’

‘If you carry on putting me through this I will have no life. I don’t know which part of me belongs where, I feel sick, I don’t know whether this is a dream, am I going insane or what!’

‘Most people would be thrilled.’

‘Yeah right.’ Eric was getting some of his usual confidence back. He walked forward, away from Bron who stood with his back to the wall in an attempt to keep dry. The force of the waterfall caught Eric squarely on the shoulders and forced him off the ledge into the pool some twenty feet below. Bron leaped off the ledge and joined him in the water, much to the amusement of several walkers who were enjoying a quiet picnic on a rare sunny day in the dales.

‘Take my hand and hold your breath,’ Bron yelled above the roar of the water.

‘No. I won’t, you are not going to get me again. I just want to go home.’

Before Eric could protest any further, Bron grabbed him and with unusual strength for a man with the appearance of Mr Punyverse, he pulled Eric to a dark shape at the bottom of the pool. Needless to say, the shape was a actually a hole and following another instant of body punishment, they appeared at the site of the old fire station in Blackburn where Eric stormed off, squelching his way through bemused shoppers. Bron was nowhere to be seen and when he got home, Eric felt sick again when he heard the newsreader say that the emergency services in Ingleton were baffled when two men disappeared.

 

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