I haven’t posted for some time because there has been precious little to say.

My Goodreads Giveaway cost me the price of 10 books. So far, in return, I have received one very kind 5 star review. Its £70 price tag seems high, and consumed many of my royalties earned to date, but it is worth its weight in gold to a writer who desires praise from people he doesn’t know from Adam.

Having sold 140 copies – almost halfway to my 300 target – sales have flatlined, throwing a bright light on my lack of marketing strategy which extends only to social media.

This has had an upside for me, the discovery of Instagram and how to make content for it.

thebumblingboy has only 90 followers but high levels of engagement, and of course reach is important in terms of awareness raising. It is impossible to tell if this activity has inspired even a single sale, but creating and posting is fun and quick, and allows me to respond to events and dates in the calendar.

So I will let the pictures do the talking. Here are the nominations for my very own Instagrammy.






My Kindle Countdown Deal turned out to be what my dad would have called ‘a right poor do’.

It’s a promotional tool that allows authors to sell their books at a discount for a limited time. In the case of The Utterly Amazing Bumbling-Boy VS The Green Bogey, bargain hunting readers had a week to shell out just 99 British pence for the eBook read of a lifetime.

Copies sold?


Unfortunately – or perhaps not, I can only take so much humiliation – the deal cannot be applied to the paperback version of the book. I reassure myself that, despite mobile devices being glued to youngsters’ hands, physical books are really what children still want. What’s more, there remains the central problem: my novel is like an undiscovered planet. Passing silently through cyberspace it is both there and not there.

On the bright side I have sold 82 copies and made over £100. My plan to reinvest in Kindle advertising has faltered because I am still debating whether or not to buy 10 books as review copies and mail them to appropriate outlets.

Efforts to raise its profile have been fun and not particularly time consuming. Posts on Instagram get Likes but of course it’s impossible to tell if any of them convert to sales.

One thing I have learnt – social media and significant dates have a tight relationship. If, for example, it’s Mother’s Day and you can make your book relevant to it, take advantage of the hashtags and try to get noticed within the conversation.

And another: marketing a self published book is a slow burn and relies on skills that have to be learned. This is true of most conventionally published authors, too, and just like the writing itself, you have to believe that you can do it well enough to make people engage.

Of course, when I am fiddling about designing I may be enjoying myself but I am not writing the sequel. One thing that is becoming clear is that a series of books would be helpful – if they are any good they will cross promote each other.

So now I have started to put time aside for The Utterly Amazing Bumbling-Boy VS. Santa Claws with a view to having it ready for Christmas shoppers. It’s a tall order. I do not regard myself as a rapid writer.

But at least I have a plot focusing on a Blackwater resident who becomes the mother of all evil Father Christmases; and I am looking forward to having child genius, Dinkesh, introduce Bumbling-Boy to his latest anti-crime invention: the BeeMX rocket powered bicycle.

BTW – here’s a tip. If you are very selective with the sales data presented on amazon you can often isolate encouraging numbers like these. When the desire to keep on writing fades they can be as meaningful as they are meaningless.

The book has only been on sale for a month. Things can only get better…

See how easily I have been given a boost?

To infinibee and beeyond!



The Utterly Amazing Bumbling-Boy VS. The Green Bogey has been on sale from amazon for almost three weeks now and sold 54 copies – along with 5 I bought myself.

I am just under £70 better off. At this stage it seems unlikely that self publishing will make me richer than Croesus.

However, I like to think my publicity campaign, such as it is, has barely left the launchpad.

An appearance on local BBC radio lead to the undignified audio spectacle of my begging listeners to buy my book – please!

You can listen by clicking or tapping here: between 2.01:35 – 2:09:30.

Deb James my PR friend who sent the release to Radio Merseyside emailed me afterwards to say that 8 minutes of airtime would be deemed to have a media value of £24,000, but sadly there seems no way of cashing it in.

Deb also scores with the Wirral Globe, the peninsula’s local weekly paper. There’s a decent mention along with an author photo that some alleged friends claim was taken years ago. Not true! Fake news! Sad!

My social media operation has expanded into Instagram where I am having fun with images, taglines and hashtags. However, with just 80 followers it is unlikely this will generate a Burj Khalifa size spike on the sales graph.

I resolve to use the kindle direct promotional tools and schedule a Countdown deal, which basically offers the eBook at a discount for a fortnight before raising it back to its list price. This arrangement doesn’t seem to be available for the paperback version for reasons I don’t understand, though it’s not the end of the world inasmuch as the eBook royalty is higher than that of the hard copy due to the cost of printing.

It’s also time to spend on advertising and reinvest some or all of my 70 quid earned thus far. A sponsored campaign will rely on the amazon algorithm to reach potentially interested readers and this seems infinitely simpler than the manual campaign which requires a lot of thought coming up with keywords that might seduce customers. I can specify what I want to spend so there is no danger of a runaway budget. I set my ceiling at £75 and decide to launch on March 15 and wipe out my profits at the same time.

One thing that my activities to date have achieved is the increased visibility of The Utterly Amazing Bumbling-Boy as far as search engines are concerned. It’s an illusion but, to my mind at least, there is encouragment from the impression that his story is being talked about. If someone goes in search of him the results are many and hint at something good natured and good fun.

So far my novel has attracted no reader ratings or reviews – which are clearly important. I could write one myself under my amazon buyer’s pseudonym but the idea nibbles at my conscience. Encouraging people to review also has an unethical whiff about it, but I know of readers who claim to have enjoyed the adventure and should have no qualms about posting. In truth I dread the completely unsolicited, one star review that, who knows, might be coming my way. A sudden epiphany of questionable morality points out to me that I have no idea if reader comments can be censored.

Self publishing is not for everyone but I predict that most serious writers who try it will find the experience fun and illuminating.

The process obliges intense editorial scrutiny of the manuscript prior to publication.

  • The urge to avoid embarrassment, from the smallest typo to stick out like a sore thumb plot malfunction, turns out to be powerful and useful.
  • The duty to market the book demands thought about what exactly it is and why you believe people can be persuaded to buy and read it.
  • The need to keep its profile as high as possible, no matter how invisible it feels, has to become an appetite that needs satisfying.
  • The interaction with digital publishing in general makes you au fait with technology that will have an ever increasingly important role in the future of the content industry and the ownership and exploitation of intellectual property.

The Kindle Direct print on demand paperback service is in Beta testing right now. In future the company aims to offer writers the chance to buy and sell wholesale copies. This kind of rules out mass distribution of review copies, but this week I’m going to research how likely coverage might be if I go down the route of buying 10 copies at full price, mail them out…

And plunge further into negative cash flow.

Let’s get ready to Grumble…




The Utterly Amazing Bumbling-Boy VS. The Green Bogey has been on sale for 3 days and the total number of eBook and paperback copies sold is…


I am pretty sure that all of them have gone to friends and family, and already I am keeping the lid on a cancerous resentment aimed at any of my nearest and dearest who haven’t coughed up yet. In my story the villain draws up a list of names under the title VICTIMS WHO MUST DIE HORRIBLY. Continue reading “MY JOURNEY INTO SELF PUBLISHING PART EIGHT: ON THE MARKET”



Having uploaded the cover of the paperback version of The Utterly Amazing Bumbling-Boy VS The Green Bogey I can price the book.

Out of the cover price comes the cost of printing and amazon’s commission. Truth is, even though printing costs almost $3.50US per unit I feel I can’t go beyond $8.75US or £6.99GBP – even though any royalty I receive will be less than that generated by a sale of the eBook at $2.99US.


If I sell an eBook I receive $2.06; if I sell a paperback it’s $1.81.

It’s not about the money, though – unfortunately. Continue reading “MY JOURNEY INTO SELF PUBLISHING: PART SEVEN: ON THE BRINK”



I have just discovered that the Googlebot has done its thing. If I search for The Utterly Amazing Bumbling-Boy I’m taken swiftly to this blog and images associated with it.



My momentary euphoria is dispelled when I ask myself, “But who apart from me is likely to search for The Utterly Amazing Bumbling-Boy?” And even if they do, will the novel’s amazon listing be at the top of the page? Continue reading “MY JOURNEY INTO SELF PUBLISHING: PART SIX: BEE-LIEVE!”



The Blackwater Bugle is my added value site that aims to complement The Utterly Amazing Bumbling-Boy VS. The Green Bogey by giving readers access to the life of the town where the story is set.

Maintained by 10 year old Samantha Kwok it should, in theory, add another layer of entertainment, cross promote the novel and encourage loyalty. It also allows me to seed characters who will feature in sequels like The Utterly Amazing Bumbling-Boy VS. Santa Claws. Continue reading “MY JOURNEY INTO SELF PUBLISHING: PART FIVE: ADDED VALUE”



How to make my Press Release for the novel more human, more personal – that’s the challenge laid down by Deb my PR pal but I’m stumped. This is the best I can do:



“It’s hard to believe,” says Mark Gorton, “when looking at my 98 kilo body napping on the sofa with its mouth open that I was once a chubby child who dreamed of being able to fly.”

More decades later than he cares to mention Mark has taken that childish imagining and channeled it into The Utterly Amazing Bumbling-Boy v. The Green Bogey, a new all action comedy novel for children aged 8 to 12.

“Bizarrely,” recalls Mark, “I used to dream about flying on a giant paper aeroplane launched by an equally giant elastic band. The story’s hero, Kenny Lane, is much more cool, although at first he doesn’t think so.”

Now the release continues by describing the plot of the book and includes a couple of quotes which reveal me to be articulate and charming and only took three hours to write.

Job done. What next? Continue reading “MY JOURNEY INTO SELF PUBLISHING: PART FOUR: PROFILE”



As I begin to devise my marketing campaign for The Utterly Amazing Bumbling-Boy VS. The Green Bogey it’s time for some social media stocktaking.

  • I have only 223 twitter followers and I suspect some of them are not human beings but bots with absolutely no purchasing power and even less interest in the story of a chubby boy stung by an atomic bumblebee.
  • My Facebook friends number 276.
  • Linkedin is slightly more encouraging: 500+ connections, though a fair few are people who want to sell me something and with whom I foolishly linked out of some misguided sense of politeness.

At first I found these numbers disheartening – until I read that social media is not a great way of selling a self published book anyway, apart from in the marketplace populated by friends and colleagues.

Friends and colleagues. Yes. Those poor saps.




Part of my publicity strategy for The Utterly Amazing Bumbling-Boy VS. The Green Bogey has collapsed already. My offer to hire my local bookshop for an evening to entertain 50 or 60 friends (and flog them a book each) has been turned down on the grounds that my novel will be available only from amazon – wherefrom I might be buying books in the future.

So it goes. At least saving a few quid on venue hire means I can divert the money into another area of my promotional masterplan.

I have a photo a quite like on the grounds it makes me look reasonably fun-loving and avuncular. Continue reading “MY JOURNEY INTO SELF PUBLISHING: PART TWO: WHAT?”



Many aspiring fiction writers know what it’s like. You’ve written a book, had plenty of rejections from agents, but a couple of them have read your work and responded warmly at first – only for hopes to be dashed when both say that, in the end, they don’t feel they can represent you and your novel.


I have no idea how much effort went into writing The Utterly Amazing Bumbling-Boy VS. The Green Bogey because it was fashioned in the evenings and at weekends over a period so long I have lost track of it. Given that it takes me five minutes to write the title alone I can only surmise that I put plenty of hours in.

I do know, however, that writing the story gave me a great deal of pleasure. I also know – well, hope – that it is a decent, 50,000 word read that will make young readers laugh and think. Continue reading “MY JOURNEY INTO SELF PUBLISHING: PART ONE – WHY?”


THE FALL by Mark Gorton

I wrote this story in 1986 to enter a Gollancz/Sunday Times science fiction short story competition. It was a runner-up and published in the subsequent anthology. Set in a possible future it also harks back to the past in which it was written – when the Internet was still embryonic and mobile devices were neither small nor almost ubiquitous; when people still read books and wrote on paper. A past when you could quote Karl Marx and people would nod thoughtfully…

Continue reading “THE FALL by Mark Gorton”


There was a time when I read the local TV news with Anthony H. Wilson.

As a television presenter he had the rare ability to be the same human being in two dimensions as he was in three.

He also had the gift of writing out loud. What went down on paper and then came out of the telly was always Wilson.


Tony also enjoyed making things as difficult as possible for no apparent reason.

In 1985 he decided to mark the launch of the Liverpool based movie Letter to Brezhnev with a live report from the city.

The technology at his disposal was as follows: new but unreliable outside broadcast facilities in the shape of shiny blue Range Rovers with big antennae on top; ENG tapes for his packaged pieces; massive ACR cassettes for movie clips and other bits and bobs of archive footage; and quarter inch audio tape with which to play in music.

Wilson being Wilson decided to use everything and his script was a wonder to behold. When it landed on our desks it looked like a printout of the human genome. Continue reading “A LASTING MEMORY OF ANTHONY H. WILSON”


Sixty-seven years ago the genius of two men turned the seaside town of Southport into the centre of the universe.  This is the story of how and why.

Eagle 010 (vol 1 #10) scan by jon 01

It was a time of contrasts.  On the one hand World War II was fresh in people’s minds and austerity was the order of the day; on the other was the excitement and promised prosperity of the space and atomic ages.

Into this world, in April 1950, came a dream of things to come; a revolutionary comic called Eagle that introduced us to the Pilot of the Future.

He was the distilled essence of the British fighter ace – courageous, quick thinking, honourable, a knight of the skies – and his name was Daniel McGregor Dare.