How Far Should I Go?

‘Dead Reckoning’ #14 in the Freeman Files Series arrived by the end of June as promised. I hope you’re enjoying it. I’m taking a few days off before getting stuck into ‘A Normal November’.

 (Football, cricket, tennis, and family are occupying my thoughts over the next week – although not necessarily in that order!)

I haven’t forgotten that before I complete ‘Into The Sunlight’, the sixteenth title in the series, I need to decide what comes next. Gus Freeman was a six-book series when I started writing about him in August 2019 and moved to ten the following February because I found it so much fun. The Freeman series took off in April 2020, and it seemed fitting to extend it to sixteen. Now, I’m in a quandary – do I research four or even eight more unsolved murders and keep going, or not? I searched Amazon for guidance.

Peter James’s ‘Roy Grace series’ – 17 titles

Faith Martin’s ‘Hilary Green series’ – 18 titles

Ian Rankin’s ‘John Rebus series’ – 23 titles

At first glance, sixteen appears a sensible number. Twenty-four seems cheeky. After all, Ian Rankin has sold twenty million books over the past thirty years. I’ve managed to get one hundred and eighty thousand copies of The Freeman Files to readers in eighteen months. 

I’ll tell you a true story. Someone in my family took several James Patterson paperbacks on a holiday a few years back. They were sure they had reached Chapter Eight before going to sleep, grabbed a book from the pile the following day, and read on from Chapter Nine while spending several hours sunbathing.

Yes, the penny finally dropped when they retired for the night and saw a book on the bedside table. But at no time did they feel it necessary by the pool to flick back to Chapter One to Eight because the story didn’t flow.

With Patterson and his multitude of co-authors, the formulaic approach works. I realise there are patterns in the way I tell Gus Freeman’s stories, but I’d hate it to become an issue. I’ve got time to mull over which way to go.

What do you think?

I’ll be back with an update in the second week of August.

Take care. Keep reading.

Best wishes

Dead Reckoning

‘Dead Reckoning’ #14 in the Freeman Files Series is 50% complete and I’m on target for publishing before the end of June.  

We’re still unsure whether total unlocking will occur on June 21st here in the UK. I fear we might have a short delay. However, things did improve after May 17th and on our first trip we visited a garden centre. For the previous two weeks it had been cold, wet, and windy. The day turned out to be the warmest day of the year so far.

Last Monday our son invited us out for a meal with his wife and two sons. It had always seemed so simple in those faraway pre-Covid days. On Monday, it was The Rule of 6; No booking; Register that you are waiting for a table through an app; Go for a socially distanced wander and when allowed in, keep your masks on until seated; Check the menu on the app, get one of your party to input your order and wait to be served.

It felt strange, I must admit, but we saw more people that evening than we had in fifteen months. We enjoyed the meal and sitting around the same table with loved ones for the first time in eighteen months was priceless.

A Phoenix Club member contacted me last month suggesting I had mistakenly used miles per hour instead of kilometres per hour for the rate at which someone’s car was travelling in one of my books. If you live in the UK, you’ll know how perverse we can be on the matter of imperial or metric measure. If you live in the US, Canada, or other corners of the world, you will just know that we’re perverse!

I can’t speak for every car on the road in the UK, or every road sign, but in general our speedometers show both mph and kph. (mph tends to be in larger print) As for speed signs, the upper limit is 70mph and below that there are a variety of limits for given situations.

Somehow, despite decimalization back in February 1971, we never got to grips with switching every weight and measure.

Why do you think that was? Well, can you imagine the impact it would have on phrases we use in conversation if we changed everything?

  • A miss is as good as 1.609k
  • They buried him 1.829m under
  • More bounce for the 28.35g
  • In the Merchant of Venice, would .454k of flesh carry the same weight? (Sorry)

 

I’ll be back with an update towards the middle of July.

Take care. Keep reading.

Best wishes

Ted Tayler

Acknowledgements

The first line is the only acknowledgement I put in each of my books. A trawl around the others who have warranted a mention to record my thanks in print is long overdue.

To Lynne, my wife, none of this would have been possible without her love and support.

Our children, Stephen, Kim and Louise, for becoming the people we hoped they would be. We’re both immensely proud of you.

My parents, Albert Victor Nelson Tayler and Edith Tayler (nee Harmsworth), for the happy home they gave my younger brother Bob and me. My mother’s love of music sparked the interest in my first passion, and her love of words encouraged me to read anything and everything. It was years after they both died when the writing started. I never got the chance to show either of them what they helped me achieve.

For the past five years, every active member of The Like Club has been my collective rock. Always available with encouragement and advice gathered from your writing careers. I wish you every success going forward. I’ll be around to plug your titles for a while yet.

Eternal thanks to every blogger/reviewer who has read my books and posted a review.

A lady who has been with me every step of the way since my first novel is Lucinda K. Campbell. I self-published my first two novels on Smashwords and saw a list of 10 book formatters they recommended. Her name sprang off the page. Heartfelt thanks for all the sterling effort you have put in, Lucinda. I loved the Evergreen Series and was honoured to read and review it.

I also enjoyed working with Melissa Alvarez of BookCovers.us, who designed covers for my first three works of fiction. The switch to The Cover Collection was a game-changer. Debbie Tisdale, you are a genius.

A massive thanks to my readers. I wish I could list every single one of you. I’ve got the space, but I don’t know your names.

Last but not least, thank you to the select band of Phoenix Fiends, who have taken the trouble to add their names to my mailing list. I hope we’ll stay in touch through the newsletters for as long as you want to hear from me. We might get more fans to join. Who knows?

 

The Last Word

 

 

 

 

 

I never set out to be a writer. It happened by accident. A friend, Tom Sangster, suggested I write down the stories I told of my years singing in bands. I gathered them together and tried to place them on a timeline. In 2011, I found a vanity publisher for my book of memories.
In August that year, I had 150 paperback copies of We’d Like To Do A Number Now to gift, or sell, to friends and family. By the end of October, those copies had gone. I considered getting more printed but elected to use my brand new website, combined with Twitter and Facebook, to sell the Kindle version. I often wonder what possessed me to set up that network for one niche title. If I hadn’t, things would have ended there.
I pondered what I could do to fill my leisure time. I reflected on the enjoyment I had when writing those memoirs and wondered if I could write fiction. If a novel was beyond me, were there enough ideas for short stories to create something worthwhile.
What did I have to lose? The website and social media presence were in place. I still didn’t know how to market books, but I’d had a year’s social media experience, plus the benefits of learning how to use Amazon and a few book promotion sites. I wrote The Final Straw and self-published it in the Spring of 2013.
The next eighteen months were a whirl. Lynne asked me why the ending of The Final Straw hinted there was more to come? I admitted I had an idea how things might turn out for my anti-hero Colin Bailey, but I wasn’t sure whether it was worth pursuing. She convinced me to continue.
In 2014 I wrote Unfinished Business and 12 short stories with a twist called A Sting In The Tale. I grew my Twitter following and ran promotions to persuade those followers to buy my books.
It was the start of a long, hard road.
I didn’t have the budget to get my books edited and polished. Nor could I afford to commit a great deal of money to promotions. Lynne was still keen to read everything I put in front of her, but questions followed when she read the final paragraph of Unfinished Business.
“What’s this about Erebus and asking someone to collect Phoenix? Who’s Phoenix?”
I explained I was considering a series about a secret organisation where Colin Bailey, aka Phoenix, carried on his vigilante exploits. Either that or Cat and Mouse was a working title for crime thrillers featuring Phil Hounsell and Zara Wheeler.
“I don’t want to read about Phil and Zara,” she said, “I prefer Colin Bailey, the bad guy. He’s far more interesting.”
So, Cat and Mouse ended before they began, and The Olympus Project was soon the first book in The Phoenix Series trilogy. That’s right, a trilogy.
How did I reach a dozen books three and a half years later? When I sketched out the three storylines, I decided my final book would be Nothing Is Ever Forever.
By early 2016, I accepted I needed a larger marketing budget to improve sales. Better judges might have opted for a good editor, but I believed I could self-edit using Grammarly and Pro-Writing Aid. Few readers will have noticed this, but you can gauge the progress of that change in approach via the titles of the subsequent books in the series.
Book four was In The Lap Of The Gods. Could the new approach improve things enough? Would the extra expense yield greater returns? Book six, A New Dawn, reflected the massive sea-change on June 30th, 2016 (massive by my standards, at least). I ran a promotion across three sites which produced 1500 downloads in two days. I thought I’d turned a corner.
Three books followed in 2017. Sales and downloads in 2016 were astronomic compared to previous levels. Last year the figures doubled again. I had improved year on year, but the past was repeating itself.
When I sang in those bands many years ago, we were so close to making it. We didn’t have that final bit of magic that separates the support act from the star turn. It didn’t stop us from enjoying what we did or looking back with pride at what we had achieved when it ended. It just wasn’t meant to be.
As 2018 approached, I realised there was little more I could do. If the lack of editing was the major stumbling block, I couldn’t afford to rectify it. I decided to write a final three books and close the series.
My feelings are as they were back in the early Seventies exactly. I’ve enjoyed what I’ve written, learned a heck of a lot and met many inspiring people. I’m proud of what I’ve achieved. The next promotion might lead to a genuine breakthrough; time will tell if it was to be.
You can keep in touch with my progress on social media, my website, or through my newsletters.
Ted Tayler
July 16th, 2018
Update – A BookBub Featured Deal in the US in March 2019 was the fillip I needed to start me on the next leg of my journey. A brand new six-book crime series will be published commencing later this year. Onwards and upwards.
April 20th, 2019
Update – A BookBub Featured Deal Worldwide in December 2019 brought me that Christmas #1 I’d craved back in my singing days. The Phoenix was rising from the flames; Gus Freeman had taken his first steps. Exciting times lay ahead in 2020. Onwards and upwards.
January 8th, 2020
Update – A BookBub Featured Deal Worldwide in April 2020 gave me a #1 on every site across the world. Gus Freeman’s first cold case investigation triggered a considerable increase in Sales and Page Reads. The Freeman Files series will now have ten titles.
May 1st, 2020
Update – A BookBub Featured Deal Worldwide in September 2020 gave me another #1 on every site across the world. The Box Set of Gus Freeman’s first three cold case investigations cemented the significant increase in Sales and Page Reads and justified my decision to extend the series to sixteen titles..
Oct 1st, 2020
Update – A BookBub Featured Deal Worldwide in April 2021 on the first Box Set in the Freeman Files Series was another unqualified success. It coincided with the release of #12 in the series and before the end of the summer I need to decide whether to aim for twenty or twenty four titles. It’s still a long, hard road, but I have no regrets at taking that first step.
May 14th, 2021
 
 
 

Beginnings and Endings

‘Strange Beginnings’ #13 in the Freeman Files Series goes ‘live’ on 15th May.  

#14 “Dead Reckoning’ is in the planning stages. Patience is a virtue.

As restrictions lift from next Monday in the UK (17th May), I might travel further than my study on occasion over the coming weeks. A trip to hug my children and grandchildren is in order.

My wife and I have had our second jabs and visited the hairdresser, so despite cancelling our holiday to Ibiza for the second year running, we’re feeling positive about the summer.

Not everyone is as fortunate as us, so our thoughts are with those Phoenix Club members still coping with the threat of this stubborn virus. Our message still holds true – stay safe, stay strong, together we are stronger.

What else have I been doing since my last Newsletter? I joined Book Sweep and Book Funnel and perhaps now I’ve finished writing the latest book, I’ll work out how to use them to spread the word. Standing still isn’t an option.

The BookBub Featured Deal for the Freeman Files Box Set #1-3 on April 9th was another unqualified success. Review numbers are close to 1300 now – up 250 in a month, and sales of books in the series continue to give me a reason to carry on beyond #16.

When can you expect to read ‘Dead Reckoning’? My wife’s birthday is in the third week in July. The decks will have to be clear by then!

I’ll be back with an update on my progress towards the middle of June.

Take care. Keep reading.

Best wishes

Ted Tayler