philip stephen rowlands


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Get Your Characters To Market Your Book

By philip stephen rowlands, 2016-02-08

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Apart from writing one of my great passions is lawn bowls. I suppose it was inevitable that eventually I would combine the two and write a fictional novel about the game I love. The result was 'Jack's High'.

'Jack's High' was first conceived as a six part comedy drama centred around the hapless exploits of a Welsh Valleys' fictional lawn bowls club called Penypont. The BBC liked what they read but were not convinced that lawn bowls was a compelling enough vehicle for comedy and asked me to write about something else. I declined.

Some of you reading this will probably think me mad. The truth is I have always believed in staying true to what you believe in and I believed in the characters I had created. They were real to me and I was not prepared to abandon them.

How real are your characters to you? 

Seth Solmes recently posted on a Google+ forum:

  "Is it possible to be afraid of your own characters?"  

Seth is writing a novel about a particularly dark serial killer. It seems to me Seth is on the right track because his character has come alive to such a degree he actually gives Seth the shivers! More about this later.

To some extent the BBC was right. Bowls is not viewed as a 'sexy' sport even though it is played globally by large numbers of people like myself. Humour on the other hand is universal but how could I convince the general public at large that a novel about bowls could be both sexy and funny? Step forward Vernon Algernon Lewis.

Vernon is one of the characters from 'Jack's High' . His uniquely insensitive and  uncompromising attitude to life can frequently be described as outrageous. He is one of those people the ' politically correct brigade' would love to clap in irons. The point is Vernon can speak and behave in a way that would get 'real' people ostracised or worse!

It seemed a 'no brainer' to appoint the unsuspecting Vernon to the position of marketing director. One of the most effective marketing ploys is to give something away for free although we authors possibly flog this tactic to death when we keep giving away books that we have slaved over for months if not years.

The presumed logic is that somehow this will result in more sales. Instead why not provide teaser material that increases interest and a desire to find out more by actually buying your book? 'Jack's High' is a 346 page novel set around a bowls club. It is highly unlikely anyone is going to rush out to buy it unless they can be persuaded it actually may be quite fun. Which brings me back to Seth's very dark serial killer.

Why not get this warped individual to write a short eBook describing 'My Top 3 Favourite Kills' from his own perspective. A bit grisly and probably in bad taste (apologies Leslie Jasper) but you get the idea. The eBook becomes the hook that catches you readers without having to give the book you slaved over away for free. Does this make sense? But be warned, your character can begin to take over your life!


Vernon has stepped out of  'Jack's High'    to write something of his own. A much shorter and more specific eBook entitled:

"7 Top Tips for Top Skips" . This is the ' lead magnet ' that will be made available to potential readers. If they like it you are well on the way to selling another copy of your novel. If they don't then what have you lost? The importance of providing quality material cannot be overstressed. It must also stand on its own merits. A sloppily written ' lead magnet ' will do infinitely more harm than good!


Vernon now features on:

WARNING! This only works if you are writing about something you feel passionate about and enjoy doing for its own sake regardless of the positives that will flow from it.


The call to action  on Vernon's blog has already begun to attract subscribers who are more likely to turn into fans prepared to purchase 'Jack's High' because they have begun to 'bond' with Vernon.

CLICK HERE to visit Vernon's Landing Page and see what you think?

Isn't it time  you got your characters working for you?


Calling Aspiring Science Fiction Writers

By philip stephen rowlands, 2014-03-31

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Who doesn't love the story of Orson Welles radio production of War of the Worlds which caused many listeners to head for the hills - literally. Deliberately introducing the play as a news broadcast proved too realistic especially when one of the actors described the emergence of an alien from its spacecraft:

"Good heavens, something's wriggling out of the shadow like a gray snake," he said, in an appropriately dramatic tone of voice. "Now it's another one, and another. They look like tentacles to me. There, I can see the thing's body. It's large as a bear and it glistens like wet leather. But that face.'s indescribable. I can hardly force myself to keep looking at it. The eyes are black and gleam like a serpent. The mouth is V-shaped with saliva dripping from its rimless lips that seem to quiver and pulsate....The thing is raising up. The crowd falls back. They've seen enough. This is the most extraordinary experience. I can't find words. I'm pulling this microphone with me as I talk. I'll have to stop the description until I've taken a new position. Hold on, will you please, I'll be back in a minute."

Many people didn't bother to hang around as panic began to grip the population. Instead of suppressing a superior snigger at all those naive folks perhaps we shouldn't be too quick to cast the first stone of ridicule. Technology is moving so fast the lines between science and fiction are becoming increasingly blurred. Perhaps there never has been such a great time to be an aspiring writer of science fiction which brings me to the point of this post. If anyone would like to provide a paragraph from their work, unfinished or published, I will feature it on this blog next week along with a link to whatever you provide.

To kick us off I'll include a few paragraphs from my own project that I will have to finish one day soon! It is set in a post apocalyptic world where some of the survivors live within vast cellular domes protecting themselves from the anarchic wasteland beyond. Genetic technology has been developed to such an extent that it is now possible to identify deviant genes that give rise to anti-social behaviour.

There was little traffic on the auto link. Occasionally they would speed past huge land transporters ferrying goods from zone to zone. Once, the monstrous bulk of an interstate freighter moved deferentially to one side in acknowledgement of the distinctive markings displayed on the sleek black limo. Only essential personnel owned petrol powered vehicles. Most drove solar powered transporters that were by law restricted to zonal sectors only. The advances in cellular construction which had made possible the development of the vast 'zonal domes' also concentrated the suns energy providing all necessary power. The domes also protected the inhabitants from harmful effects of solar radiation that so easily penetrated the impoverished atmosphere.

At least traffic jams were a thing of the past. Chief Inspector Dale had read of this late twenty first century phenomenon with amused fascination. He afforded himself a wry smile. The problem appeared insoluble to scientists and politicians alike as the multiplying mass of humanity threatened to exhaust rapidly decreasing global resources. Pollution, the suppurating wounds of industrialised society, festered openly. A disease many believed incurable. Overshadowing these horrors hung the threat of the nuclear holocaust.


When the end came no one even recognised its coming. The collapse of the Western monetary system proved disastrous. Economies disintegrated. Inflation soared. Nations plunged into a world wide depression deeper than an ocean trench. Swept away by the tidal wave of events governments lay stranded and helpless like beached whales. Anarchy prevailed. Continents became one vast battle ground. Wars raged within and between nations. Nuclear weapons of unimaginable destructive power were unleashed and a second Dark Age enshrouded mankind. Famine, the camp follower of war, carried her children, disease and misery, at her breast. The human race teetered on the brink of destruction.

Out of chaos arose a saviour.
But salvation carried a price. Theirs had been Jonathon.

The car sped through the nightmare landscape. Beyond the elevated auto pass security patrols wailed as they passed along the restricted area that marked the boundary of the Outworld. The occasional staccato roar of a helipatrol thundered a primal challenge across the reddening sky as it swept over the wasteland in scything arcs. A vivid sunset seeped through the heavens bloodying the scarred earth. Against the skyline the wreckage of a lost world cast its grotesque silhouette like the exposed bones of an ancient beast time has long since devoured. Camp fires flickered amidst the sepulchres of dead cities. Still the car sped on.

Dale glanced at the window and saw his face reflected against the desolation.
Kay still believed he was out there.
In exile.
She must never know the truth. No one must."

That's my contribution folks the rest is up to you. If you are interested please contact me at

* * * *

You may or may not know that I also write educational programs for children. If you have a young child I am currently giving away free copies of an app that simulates Cuisenaire Rods. My grandson, who's seven, loves using it. If you would like a free copy follow this link FREE APP

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Okay so Im not the greatest author in the world. Maybe I
will never make the best seller lists but thats no excuse for ripping me off.

As Indie authors we know how difficult and time consuming it
can be promoting our books. Sometimes I feel like Hansel lost in a forest of
social media never able to find my way out with new trees being planted around
me all the time. HELP!!! Then one day I discovered a clearing in the wood. It
wasnt a house made of candy but an enormous edifice called Amazon - pretty appropriate
for an empire in the forest!

I was enticed inside with the promise of self publishing on
Amazons incredible electronic device called the Kindle. Amazon dangled before
my eyes a dazzling array of world wide distribution rights and sales channels.
I was tempted. Well more than tempted actually. I didnt think twice. No more
submitting work to publishing houses who just werent interested or agents who
were even less so. The publishing dragon had been slain, or so I thought.

At the moment I am wondering if Amazon is my Knight In
Shining Armour or an Emissary of the Dark Side.

WHY the sudden change of heart?

Its all down to personal experience.

My first published book on Amazons Kindle was a novella
entitled A Christmas Carol Revisited. It had received an excellent review on BBC
Radio Wales and in December 2012 the New York City Bar Association adapted it
for a concert in the City Bar
Building in Manhattan
that proved a great success. I duly got some sales on Amazon.

So far so good, with Christmas fast approaching I bombarded
my Twitter (4,000+) account with promotional tweets courtesy of Social Oomph. APOLOGIES TO ALL MY TWITTER FOLLOWERS I BOMBARDED!!!! Guest bloggers promoted it on their sites and my Google+ groups also got the
full treatment! While I wasnt expecting to top the best seller list I was
expecting some sales. Some hope, NADA, NOTHING, NOWT!!! Not one measly sale
showed up in my reports for November or December. I had more sales on Create Space and I hadn't done any promotion for any of them.

Okay, youre probably thinking this is the case of another
deluded would be writer with no talent and less hope having a gripe. You may be
right but unfortunately my experience is not unique. John R Clark, Managing Editor at Age View
Press wrote on this very issue under the title:

Alright! Seems like there might just be a wicked witch
lurking in them thar woods. So, what to do?

As I see it we can sit back and hope things improve OR do
something about it ourselves.

BUT WHAT - How can we possible influence the LEVIATHAN that
AMAZON has become?

I have an idea. Take a look at the lottery widget on the right

What I propose is that we set up our own AUTHORS LOTTERY
using the free widget (see sidebar).

Instead of winning money everybody who opts in would have to
agree to buy or download the winning authors book (reasonably priced or free!)
either from Amazon or from the Authors website.

At least this way the winner each week would know for
certain that their book had been downloaded x number of times and could check
with their Amazon Sales Reports.
It would also give most Authors a much needed
boost as well as a little income. Everything would of course be based on TRUST.


Every Friday at 11.00 GMT
I would click the Pick a new Lotto Number button on this blog.

The author whose number was drawn would be notified. His/her
name and details of where to download his/her book would be publicized on this


To show your commitment all you need do is enter your email
address and name in the subscription box
. Once you have done this I will
allocate a number. Mine for example is 1.

I will set up another page on the blog with each others
name next to their allocated number.

I am using a free version of GET
RESPONSE software for the simple reason if not enough interest is shown after
posting this blog I will abandon the idea. I dont intend wasting money
pointlessly also. . .

HOW PRECIOUS TIME IS! None of us can afford to waste it.

Hopefully enough of us will grasp the potential of what
authors can do if we decide to stand together and help each other.

To make it worth your while subscribing I plan to run a number of courses designed to help you promote your books using social media. These will be delivered by email and the first course focuses on Twitter. It's called The Twitter Authors Marketing Crash Course. Some of the things you will learn about include:

  • The man who has made it his business to help authors build their readership on Twitter.
  • Free tools that will make your Twitter marketing extremely effective.
  • Integrating Twitter tools in Wordpress.
  • How to chat in 'real time' with your followers.
  • How to schedule regular postings using free or paid tools.
  • The basic rule you MUST follow.
  • Mistakes to avoid at all cost.

Please email me if you have any thoughts or suggestions at
WARNING: I am a married man and therefore impervious to abuse.

I think its's time for us Kindle authors to circle the wagons! What about you?

Next Week
Expand Your Literary Horizons.
Also - update on the Author's Lottery.