Thursday, 27 May 2010

Finding an agent part 2

Following on from a previous post I did on 'finding an agent', writer Dean Crawford sent me this link to an interview conducted with Agent of the Year Luigi Bonomi of LBA Literary Agency - this is what Luigi has to say on the subject

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

More from the Crimefest photo album...and a mini-competition

The first person to name ALL of the authors depicted in the photos above wins a signed 'proof copy' of the USA edition of Judgment and Wrath. Clue: one male, and two of the females are not writers, but which ones? Persons depicted in the photos are not allowed to enter for obvious reasons and to make things slightly more difficult you have to spell the names exactly as they appear on the authors' books.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Beauty and the Beast (L to R)

This is me doing a good impression of Shrek at the Gala Dinner during Crimefest in Bristol last Saturday. Don't ask - no I wasn't drunk, that's actually a coffee sitting in front of me.

Monday, 24 May 2010

Mysteries Galore praise Dead Men's Dust

It's gratifying to find that US reviews of Dead men's Dust are strting to appear now that the mass market paperback edition is on general sale. Above is a link to a glowing report from Mysteries Galore Dot Com if you'd care to take a read.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Lock 'n' Load

Sean Black and I have a lot in common. We are both crime thriller writers, born in Scotland, represented by Luigi Bonomi at LBA, members of ITW, with our first books debuting in 2009, with tough guy characters - Joe Hunter and Ryan Lock -who are often mentioned in the same breath as Lee Child's Jack Reacher (for one reason or another, be that good or bad), and both mentioned in the Daily Telegraph's Thrillers of 2009 listing . I've had the pleasure of meeting Sean whilst the two of us were attending last year's Thrillerfest in NYC, and he's a great guy. He has also got a great blog via his website - the link's above - and has just started to relate how he came to write the first in his series following 'executive protector/body guard' Ryan Lock called Lockdown. It's a fascinating journey and I think you'll enjoy it.

Lockdown is already available in hardback, but the paperback edition with a cool new cover will be released on 24th June, with the second book, Deadlock coming in hardback this July. Lockdown's a great book, that I've already mentioned here before, and if you haven't read it yet, I urge you to do so. I'm looking forward to the next one!

Tuesday, 18 May 2010


I just wanted to congratulate my agent, Luigi Bonomi of LBA, on being named 'Literary Agent of the Year' by the British Book Awards. It is a very well deserved award...and long overdue.

I am over the moon for Luigi, but then again, I already knew he was the top man in the business.

Slash and Burn keeps on keeping on

Some people who have been huge supporters and fans of Joe Hunter since his inception in Dead Men's Dust are Patricia Reid and Gina Metz, both of whom live in the USA but are such great supporters that they get the UK edition of Joe's latest adventure as soon as it is published. I am indebted to both Pat and Gina for their enthusiasm and willingness to review my books.

The links above will take you to Pat's most recent review, this time for Slash and Burn (it's the same review at three different sites) if you'd like to see what she thinks of the latest book.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

A newbies guide...

J A Konrath is the author of 'AFRAID' - albeit under the peusonym of Jack Killborn - and the 'Jack' Daniels series of crime thrillers. Aside from this he is also one of the most succesful and innovative authors concerning ebooks which, despite many authors' reticence to accept, is going to be huge in the future and may well replace traditional publishing before we know it. There isn't much that Joe - that's his name - doesn't know about publishing ebooks, or for that matter writing and publicity, so if this is an area of interest to you, why not take a look over at his blog 'A Newbie's Guide to Publishing'. From there you can surf to his website, where you can download free ebooks, or buy some if that's your wish. Alternatively you can just glean some amazingly good advice from his writing tips. Well worth a few minutes of your time, I bet.

By the way 'Afraid' is just about the most intense horror/thriller I've read in years and his ebook 'Serial' is an awesome novella that is guaranteed to give you a buzz. (you can download it at his site).

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Grit Lit dot Com - open for business

Can I direct  you to a great new resource site for readers (and writers) of thriller and crime fiction - usually of the tougher protagonist type - where head reviewer Myles Knapp brings us the best in gritty literature to satisfy any readers tastes.

Myles Knapp has been reviewing books for his regular newspaper collumn 'Grit-Lit' which appears throughout the USA and has now moved all of his archives onto his very own website. Why not take a look here and let Myles know how much you enjoy his site. Already there are many books and articles archived at the site, with many more to come.

Friday, 14 May 2010

Red Station

‘Adrian Magson writes with the authority of a veteran spy master, conjuring a tale steeped in intrigue and menace, interspersed with humour and bursts of realistic violence. Red Station is a terrific thriller, all the more frightening because of the topicality of the events. I was hooked: MI5 agent, war hero, Harry Tate is a very welcome addition to the spy thriller genre and I can’t wait to read more.’ Matt Hilton author of the Joe Hunter thrillers

One of the perks of being a published author is that occaisionally you get asked to read forthcoming books from some of the top writers in the industry. Well, I recently had the pleasure of reading the up-coming spy thriller fresh from the pen of Adrian Magson. It was/is excellent and I'm sure you'll all enjoy it too.

Red Station will be released in the UK and USA by Severn House publishers in August. Further books in the Harry Tate series will follow. To find out more double digit here:

Thursday, 13 May 2010

The Holy Grail...also known as finding an agent

I'm often asked two very pertinent questions: How did you get your book published and How did you get an agent to represent you?

Pretty much the answer to one is the answer to the other. Basically, I got published because I got an agent to represent me.

Now, it isn't a hard and fast rule, and this is only from my own personal point of view, so take my way as only one way.

Gone are the days when publishing houses employed readers to wade through the 'slush pile' of unsolicited manuscripts, and these days they rely on literary agents to weed through the mounds of submissions, and bring them only the best of the best. Now, then, agents don't have hundreds of readers on hand to do the reading for them, so something sent to them must firstly grab their attention, and secondly hold it. It's no good sending through something and say 'I know it starts slowly but it gets really fast after page 59' because, quite frankly they won't read that far. Your story must capture their attention from the first page. Make sure that there is something there: action, an intriguing question, a promise of things to come, on your first page, because if there's no hook, you can forget catching their attention.

There tends to be a standard protocol for sending submissions to agents. Check on their websites, check in a book like The Writers' and Artists' Yearbook where it tells you each agent's submission procedure, and stick to their rules. If they say 'No Unsolicited Submissions' send them a query letter first, ask them politely if they'd be interested in reading your book (I'll go deeper into this later), plus the standard first three chapters and short (1 page) synopsis. Don't just send them your entire manuscript and hope for the best - it likely won't even get looked at. If they say electronic submissions only - send your query in the form of an email. If they say 'no email submissions', then don't email them, send hard copy. Sounds obvious, but you'd be surprsied how many aspiring authors don't check the rules.

Anyway, there are far more knowledgeable articles on the above subject than I can do justice to so I'll leave it at that. Look at John Connolly's website for a great article on 'How To Get Published'. Instead, I'll give you a potted history of my road to publication so you can see what I did. If you want to emulate it, go ahead, it might get you the agent you need.

Here goes:

I've been writing since I was a child. Short stories, comic books, songs, poems, novels, articles, film scripts, you name it I've given it a go. Throughout the years I had a couple successes with articles in Martial Arts magazines, and a local magazine, but I always longed to be a fiction author.

Years ago, I started sending off short stories to competitions, but with no success. I then plucked up the courage to send some of my novels to publishers. Ten years ago, they still had submissions editors at some of the publishing houses and I did get one editor interested, but things finally went arse-end up and my aspirations fizzled out.

I continued sending off the letter, synopsis and sample chapters but could get no-one interested. I then realised to get anywhere, I needed representation from a reputable agent.

Anyone read Clive Barker? I once sent some stuff to his agent only to be told my writing was 'too dark' even for her. But that's another story.

Two things happened - call it a dual epiphany - I realised that the books I was writing weren't commercially viable, and I'd been aiming myself at the wrong agents.

I've already related the tale of how I decided I needed to come up with a commercially viable series that would interest a publisher in investing in me and my books, so won't go over that again. I also realised that I'd need a top agent if I was ever going to get anywhere.

Three years ago, Simon Kernick had hit the big time and was in every bookshop I ever visited. He had been picked as a 'Richard and Judy Book Club' summer read. He was storming the charts. I wondered, who is Simon's agent then? I researched and found that he was represented by Luigi Bonomi. A little more research later and I found that Luigi had been nominated as 'Agent of the Year', so I thought, why not go to the mover and shaker?

I was bricking it. I thought I'd get laughed all the way back to my little corner of Cumbria, but I bit the bullet and went for it.

I found Luigi's website, studied his submission protocol and stuck to it.

Next, I sat down and wrote a letter I hoped would say enough to catch his attention without going on too much. In brief, I mentioned the years that I'd been writing, the number of books I'd written and that I now felt I'd served my 'time' and learned my craft and was now looking to take my career further with professional representation. I outlined my plans for a series of books featuring a sustainable character firmly in the crime thriller mode, as I believed there was a gap in the market at that time for a 'British' thriller writer. I also explained that, because my books were international in aspect then they could also appeal to an international readership. I then mentioned who my books would appeal to, and mentioned some of the contemporary authors writing in a similar genre. I rounded it off with a brief description of myself and my background, and gave my martial arts coaching, my security and police careers as examples of how I could be marketed. Basically I was pitching a 'business' idea, the way you would to your bank manager when requesting funding for a business venture.

I rounded off my letter with the question, would he be interested in seeing the full book? Along with the letter, I sent a synopsis of the book and the first three chapters. And a SAE for their return.

Ok. Things didn't end there.
Some newspapers reported that I was 'saved from the slush pile by the agent's wife', making it all sound a little lurid. To put the record straight, Luigi had looked at my submission, but had discarded it but was urged to take another look at it by his wife - who hadn't popped in for lunch, but who is a respected editor in her own right - after she read my query letter and saw how committed to making a success of my writing I was. Luigi requested to see the entire manuscript, which I sent off forthwith.

Now, here's where the real secret lies. Luigi got back to me and said that the book required a major rewrite to make it ready for publication and was I prepared to give it a go. I answered yes. And good that I did because I was being tested.

I rewrote the book and delivered it.

Luigi had it read by five independent readers who gave feedback on the book. All had differences of opinion, but where they crossed over, I then rewrote the problems they'd found to put them right.

I went back and forward for five months, rewriting, editing and polishing, all under the guidance of Luigi - with no promise of representation at the end of the process.

I was asked to go and meet with Luigi - to see if I was willing to do the 700 mile round trip, to see if I was determined to work hard, to see if I was a fruit-cake or not - which I dutifully did. Again we discussed my ideas for future books and how I saw a future for my character, and I talked at length at how hard I was willing to work in order to achieve a successful writing career.

Finally, when my 'product' was ready - I'm pretty sure that Luigi was already putting out the feelers to publishing houses - I was sent the 'terms and conditions of representation', which I was asked to sign and return if I wished representation. I had them back to Luigi within hours via fax.

Within only a few days, my book went to auction and three large publishing houses bid against each other for publishing rights. And that was the start of my publishing career.

Now, in the saying it doesn't sound much, but it took me years to learn the craft, a few more to practice it, then a few more to get things right. I was lucky, but it wasn't all luck, it was also hard work, grit and determination. I knew what I wanted to do, and that evidently shone through when I was going through the process towards representation from Luigi.

So...bullet point time (without the bullet points):

Research agents who represent other authors in your genre

Check and double check their submission procedure and get it right

Send the required material in the correct format

Send a query letter telling the agent your background, plans for the future and any special interest that might help sell your book/s

Send a tight synopsis of your book

Send the correct number of sample chapters.

Make sure your submission is as professional as possible as basically you are requesting to enter into a business arrangement beneficial to you both.

Don't send out multiple submissions (not a hard and fast rule but it can come back and bite you on the arse further down the line if you do)

Be prepared to work hard and do take onboard the suggestions and advice offered by the agent.

Do not pester the agent for a decision, let their decision be based on the merits of your query pack. If they ask to see the full manuscript, send it and mark it 'requested material' so it doesn't get lost among the other hundred envelopes landing on the agent's doorstep.

If you're invited to go speak to the agent, do so. Don't make excuses. Go.

Work hard, do everything you can (legal and with dignity) to show how dedicated you are to your chosen profession. Then wait. Yes, expect to wait, because not everyone gets a deal in a few days like I did (after five months of to-ing and fro-ing don't forget), and don't expect huge advances. Huge advances are often reported in the newspapers but they're the exception to the norm. Don't go planning on writing while reclining on a beach with a cold one at hand. The reality is you'll be slogging your guts out at your usual writing place, holding down another job and still wishing for a mega-seller or three.

If an agent demands payment to read your work, don't do it. Anyone that does this is a shark.

Steer clear of 'internet agents' who promise to represent you for an up front fee. They usually ask you to send your book as an email, tell you how wonderful your book is, then ask you for money for administration purposes. Tell them to F**k Off, because they're charlatans and crooks. Any bonefide, honest agent won't ask you for money up-front. They will make money for you and take their commission from your earnings.

Hope this helps, and answers the question some of you have been hoping to ask.

Something I haven't mentioned: I sent my books out to dozens of publishers and to dozens of agents, prior to coming up with that dual epiphany and not a one of them was interested in publishing or representing me. Funnily enough, now that I'm a published author, those self-same publishers and agents have asked why I didn't go to them first. Go figure.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Talking of short stories...

Here's something a little different from my usual output...


I wake this day and reach for my wife.

She does not offer her lips to be brushed by my tremulous fingers. She is gone. On this same day she peers on vistas of gold and turquoise, or such is the heaven promised to her by her faith. I think that she has gone to a dark and empty place, a nothingness of forever, for who could have faith in anything now? He doesn’t have faith in us.

I catch the sob in my chest, but it has a will of its own and breaks forth as a belch of phlegm that bubbles on my whiskered chin. Shuffling closer to her, the sweetness of decay is rich. Caring not, I place my lips to her marbled forehead, kissing her gently.

Murky opal eyes stare back at mine, pebbles on the bed of a highland stream viewed through peaty water. There are skeins of threads, broken corpuscles making a scarlet maze amid the yellow and purple lividity of her cheek where it lies on the pillow. Once pretty, a pattern of duck-egg blue flowers, forget me not’s, the pillow is now stained black where the essence of life has spilled from her, sticky and gelatinous and congealing.

It is three days since my wife died. In the night death had come for her, spiralling down from a bruise-ridden sky, a harpy on shattered pinions. While I slept in dreamless exhaustion, the claw-footed thing had alighted on my wife’s breast and stole from her the omega exhalation of her time on earth.

She had been afraid to die. I’d held her and told her not to be frightened. When it’s time I will be there, right beside you, my love. My promise was as cheesecloth carrying water. Well intentioned, yet pointless. I did stay with her and have stayed the three days since, but now I cannot bear to share her bed any longer.

Crawling from the blankets, the stench of my own body on me, I tuck the duvet around her stiffness. Around me stalk the shades of ghouls, flicking back tattered veils to expose drooling maws. Banshees howl, a demented lament calling me home. Goblin shadows crawl through the detritus of our room, and I fancy I hear their claws scraping on the boards. They have no power over me, for it’s not yet my time. But today is the day.

The jug holds enough, and I splash the flammable liquid upon our bed. Pass censure, I care not. I bring flame and set it to her pyre, sending the imagined night fiends scurrying, for flame is anathema to them all.

I stand in the road, watching the breeze chase trash below the overgrown hedges. Behind me, the place that was our marital home thunders in on itself, imploding, sending tendrils of smoke to catch at my ankles.

Where to go? That is the final mystery on the day.

I walk, following a path untrodden, my bare feet sinking in mulch. Beneath the leaf litter, do insects still crawl? Nothing of the air, or land or sea has survived, I am certain. Chitinous-backed things, though, are they the new lords of this world? Had they always been?

The corpse of a dog.

Then other corpses. Not canine. No maggots, no flies or blue bottles, so perhaps they too have been struck down.

More corpses. Male, female, some older and indistinguishable now.

The rank and bloated things are nothing new to my eyes, yet still shake me with unforgiving terror. In them I see my own future.

It is imminent.

This is the day.

Nothing moves between heaven and earth. Cornflower blue, tufts of cotton wool, nary a contrail: the sky is as empty as the heart that rides like a clenched fist in my chest. God once pledged a rainbow as a sign of his promise. Today the sky holds no prism. No promise.

I stand by a river. It smells like corked wine, not least because the bodies of men and women fight for space with the dray beasts piled along the embankments, or hang caught in the tree roots along the edges.

I go on. This is the day but not the place.

It’s later and I stand on a bridge. I know this place. Along the way I’d been drawn back along an anabranch until my feet had again found familiar ground. One foot after the other I walked, dazed, seeking a sign. None came, not at first. The arch of the bridge drew me in, a sliver of steel to a lode stone, and I plodded towards it, my mind feeble, a shuddering ache in my bones. The coughing kept coming, the sputum, claret-rich, flecking my shirtfront. It still comes.

There on that bridge I first kissed my wife. She wasn’t my wife then, but that means nothing now does it? She had been my everything and I want to be with her again. This strange anastomosis, this joining place that had entwined our life blood, made of us one being, it is the place to end it. Right? Damn right.

The river here is broad and deep, such is the way where bridges arch. I stand, bent over the low wall and stare down at the smoked glass waters. The banshees are calling again, their wailing beaten back only by the thrumming of my pulse in my ears. Saddle, stirrup, anvil, all thrum. I force the lamenting things from me. It isn’t time. I am not ready. Deep breath. Exhale. More coughing. More blood. It’s turning black.

On a bent knee, I lean on the wall. Head bowed, hands clutched to my stomach. Not in prayer; I clutch at the burning in my lungs. My lips drool, thick, viscous froth that takes an age to slide to the brassed-current below. As it hits the plop is loud in the still air. Even the breeze holds its breath.

Breathe, goddamn you, I tell the world. Breathe and live again.

As well that I wave a hand and command the dead to rise once more.

Such is my impotence.

My wife was afraid to die. I told her not to be frightened. But I am the king of hypocrites. I am terrified. I am not ready, but it is the day.


If there is such a thing, He has turned His head away in shame. He has judged his greatest creation a failure, and has held closed his fists, giving free rein to Death and all his cohorts. Disease came, Pestilence followed on its filthy heels and they swept the earth. Every man, woman, child, every beast that flew or walked or swam in the oceans, they have all been struck with God’s furious cleansing. The seas rose, the bloated fishes riding the tides, fields were spoiled by the cattle dropping in droves. Planes fell from the skies, cities burned, sewers overflowed and dams failed. It has taken less than eight months all told.

I am the last man alive.

Stumbling, I bring both feet onto the parapet. I scrape a nail out of the bed of my toe, and wince at the pain. Even now, pain can still make me cringe. How sad that I have not the fortitude to face this unflinching.

The flames immolated my wife, but I can not face them. I choose this instead.

God has cheated us. Now I will cheat him.

I step off the bridge. Open my arms, greet the rushing surface of the river. My love I’m coming home too.

For today is the day.

That humankind dies.

Copyright: Matt Hilton 2010

When I'm not writing books...

...I'm usually writing short stories.

There are some that I'd like to sell, or have published in the mainstream. Then there are others that I do purely for the fun of it. Maybe I've mentioned before, but as well as crime thrillers, I'm also a big fan of horror, dark fiction (sorry not the girlie-vamp-type, but the dark stuff that transcends crime and horror) and humorous crime. When I've got one of those heads on I write under the pseudonym of Vallon Jackson - just about the worst kept secret on the blogosphere - and I usually have a ball.

I've posted VJ's stories (not all but some) over at Thrillers, Killers 'n' Chillers, but to make things easier for you, I've now added a sidebar on this site with links to all my favourites. I hope you'll take the time and have a read of some (if not all) of them.

The PIE SAGA is ongoing - expect more episodes of the Wile E. Coyote Killer's ham-handed attempts at murdering his nemesis Robert the Red in future.

With the other stories I've placed a hint - Crime, Horror or Humorous - next to them. But it isn't easy, because they usually transcend those titles. Enjoy. And do let me know what you think.

I've also started to gather together a couple of 'Matt Hilton' stories which you might also enjoy, and there's links to them in the sidebar as well.

Our Man In Poland

Paul D. Brazill is not only a superbly talented noir and crime writer, but he is also a consumate gentleman. He conducted a short, sharp interview with me for Pulp Metal Magazine some time back, and has re-posted the interview now at his own blog: 'You Would Say That, Wouldn't You?'

Expect different questions than normal...and enjoy.

And while you're there, try out some of Paul's wicked writing at the various links on his site. You will not be disappointed.

Paul's short story THE TUT was recently shortlisted for the 'SpineTingler Award'.

Thursday, 6 May 2010


Forgive the shameless publicity but it is general election day in the UK. And if it's good enough for Brown, Cameron and Clegg then here goes...

We can all think of icons of pop music...Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Dylan, The Beatles, Michael Jackson, Madonna to name but a few, as well as movie stars John Wayne, James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, Mickey Mouse etc...but how easy is it to name icons of crime/action fiction?

Well, of course there's Sherlock Holmes, Tarzan of the Apes...Uh, eh, I'm struggling here. There's big names, no doubt about it - Miss Marple, Poirot, Sam Spade etc - but I'm talking world-wide instantly recognisable figures of crime fiction. You only have to mention their name - often only part of it as in 'Elvis' - and everyone knows who you're talking about.

Well, wouldn't it be wonderful if your character became a world wide smash?

In the crime fiction and thriller market two characters that are fast becoming iconic are Lee Child's Jack Reacher and Robert Crais' Joe Pike.

You know your character is having a huge impact and creeping into the world's psyche when people start wanting to be like their hero. There are Reacher Creatures - a huge following of Jack Reacher fans - and there's a huge movement of people donning forward facing red arrows on their deltoids in respect of Joe Pike. That's when you know you're beginning to make a mark in people's minds.

Now, I'm a fan of both Reacher and Pike myself and one day hope to achieve even a small chunk of either character's success with Joe Hunter.

The thing is how to do that.

Keep writing books that people enjoy, I hear you say. True. I agree.

But there's got to be something else.

Choosing a pop/royalty analogy:
At the moment Reacher is 'The King', Joe Pike is 'Prince', while Joe Hunter is a robber baron trying to steal his way into the hearts and minds of the populace. Kind of like Cliff Richard (for US readers please insert Buddy Holly here) trying to take his crown alongside Elvis, if you get my drift.

For Joe to be allowed a throne alongside the big guys, it's going to take a lot of hard work, a lot of battles to be won, before the winds of change push him into the collective consciousness. Maybe there only needs to be a swell of support, just like there was for Spartacus.

Maybe if all of Joe's fans stand up and proclaim to all their friends (i.e. via email, facebook, twitter etc) and say: 'I AM JOE HUNTER' then the world will ask 'Who Is Joe Hunter?' and then they will know.

How's about it?


p.s. please take my final comments in the tongue in cheek manner in which I say them

Ponderings from the fluffy navel...continued.

A Catch 22 scenario that is the bane of most authors' lives is the fact that most bookstores - including supermakets - will concentrate on the big established names' latest books, rather than give shelf space to new authors who are trying to establish themselves. Therefore it's very difficult indeed to establish a new name, because quite frankly most casual readers won't know that you exist.

I'm very fortunate in that I have a couple of huge publishing houses supporting and pushing me as a 'new author', but even then it isn't plain sailing. I have to stop and wonder what chance new books from many thousands of writers stand in getting any shelf space whatsoever.

And if they're lucky to have their book picked up by a bookshop...

Here's a quandry:

Book shop receives stock
Book shop puts stock on sale
Stock sells out
Book shop doesn't re-order replacement stock
Stock therefore doesn't sell (because it isn't on the shelves)
Book doesn't make it into the big sellers
No sales last week, so book shop will replace it with something that did sell
No sales this week either
Book drops out of sight
Next book doesn't get ordered as first didn't sell.
No sales.
What chance does an author have of establishing him/herself?

Thankfully this isn't a scenario I've suffered from and my books are still on sale - but I've seen it happen on a smaller scale.

Here's what happened when my first book came out in hardback:

I approached a manager of a chain store and offered to sign their stock of my books for them. At the time I was number 12 in the Sunday Times hardback charts. The manager gladly accepted, but on checking found their order was late and therefore no books were available to sign. The manager asked if I could come back the following week, which I dutifully did, but the books still weren't there. Another ten days went by and I went in again. There was a box of forty books waiting for me. Oh, goody, I thought, only for the manager's hand to go up. 'Oh, hold on...Where are you in the charts now?' On checking, my book - due to none being in the shops for customers to purchase - had dropped back to the low forties. The manager said, 'In that case we can't put them out on the shelf because we only stock up to the number 40. Err, don't bother signing any in case we have to send them back...but would you mind signing one I've bought for my brother?'

I wonder how many other authors have faced a similar dillemma, and how many author's careers have gone up in a puff of smoke due to similar situations.

Here's a sum for you.

A: An author's book is published at 1,000 copies. 900 of them get sold and 100 sent back to the publisher as unsold returns.
B: Another author's book is published at 100,000 copies. 80,000 get sold and 20,000 sent back to the publisher as unsold returns.

Who is the succesful author?

The answer BELIEVE IT OR NOT is A.

Author A sold 90 per cent of the books with only a meagre 100 returns
Author B 'only' sold 80 per cent of their books and the publisher was 'stuck' with 20,000 remainder copies.

Sound ridiculous?
It is, but that's the way statistics are reported.

Therefore, Author A is more viable and their next book is pushed harder. Author B is a liability, and theirs isn't.

Again, thankfully, I'm not speaking from personal experience, but know someone who this happened to.

Here's another scenario:
Huge book store chain says, 'We aren't supporting (insert author's name here) until we see how they do with sales....Maybe if they do all right, we'll start supporting them after their third or fourth book.


Basically, it's a frustrating situation, when all you want to do is sell books, entertain your readers and perhaps make a little bit of a living out of it.

Are you sure you still want to be a published author?



Because the benefits outweight the maudlin times ten-fold.

As writers it isn't about becoming mega-stars, but actually writing something that you think other people would like to read.

There's nothing like the feeling of seeing your 'by line' on a book cover, and having the knowledge that other people are reading and enjoying your work. Those two simple points outweigh all the frutrations mentioned above. Pretty much, they're out of your hands, so just do what you do best.


Tuesday, 4 May 2010

The Arrowsake Alumni is Dead, Long Live Joe Hunter's Fixers!

Some of the regulars at my website may have noticed that the link to the forum The Arrowsake Alumni is down - there's a very good reason for that.

I'm currently cleaning house and doing a reshuffle of all my sites and networks. The work to update some of them far outweigh their value to both myself and the members, so I've chosen to close down the forum for the time being, until I can find something a little more user friendly.

In the meantime, I intend using my sister blog - The Joe-centric Joe Hunter's Fixers as the new place for up to the minute Joe Hunter news and invite all my readers to come over and join me there. On the site there are already some top short stories by contributors, as well as an original Joe Hunter short story, and interviews with Joe Hunter and Jared 'Rink' Rington to take a look at.

In the future, I will be inviting aspiring authors to send through their original short fiction (crime thrillers/adventure only), to share with Joe's readers, to help them build a fan base of their own.

Why not pop over now - and if you can, stay a while by clicking the 'follow' tab.

I look forward to seeing you all over there.

best wishes

Monday, 3 May 2010

Five Magnifying Glasses.... is fast becoming one of 'The' top crime fiction based sites on the internet and to say that I am thrilled that SLASH and BURN has been given a 'five magnifying glass' rating would be a huge understatement.

I admit to having met reviewer Graham Smith way back last year at the Theakstone's Ol' Peculier Crime Writing festival at Harrogate, but at the time Graham probably didn't know too much about Matt Hilton or Joe Hunter, so this review came straight from his heart. Having already penned this review and submitted it to Editor Chris Simmons at beforehand, Graham came along and joined in the launch of Slash and Burn on 31st March 2009 where we were able to discuss in a little more detail the motivation of Joe Hunter and the 'true' meaning behind the inclusion of the Bolan twins. I won't go into it here - for spoilers sake - but I had personal reasons for including the giant twins, and wanted to investigate the morality of Joe's actions through that of someone who truly loves his sibling. Hope my readers get the message, too.

Many, many thanks to Graham for an awesome review. I am well-chuffed.

"Joe Hunter is fast becoming a serious rival to Jack Reacher in the action stakes."  Graham Smith at