Friday, 10 August 2012


Julia and I are excited and delighted that so many readers have downloaded the free ebook of The Boy with Two Heads, and I am looking forward to gaining more readers on Sunday, when four e-books will be free to download from midnight to midnight PST (8.00 am on Sunday to 8.00 am on Monday here in the UK)

Can we ask you to do something in return for your free books? Please let us have some feedback. A comment/review on Amazon or Goodreads would be very welcome- and please be honest!

Tuesday, 7 August 2012


The London 2012 Olympics end next weekend. The Free Download for THE BOY WITH TWO HEADS was so popular that author Julia Newsome wants to give her young fans another chance to read it free. So next Sunday 12th August we will celebrate the end of a splendid Olympics by offering not just one free book, but four:

Editor's Choice Historical Novels Review

August 2009

PATHS OF EXILE is a wonderful story, one that conjures up this long-gone age in extraordinary detail and reveals a profound understanding of its politics, cultures, and religions based on extensive research. It may be true, as Nayland admits, that “solid facts are rare indeed in 7th-century Britain”, but these characters—some real, others pure fiction—are so solid and credible that they will stay with you long after you turn the last page....
Full review on the Historical Novel Society website

 4.0 out of 5 stars A fabulous journey through the 1670's  24 July 2011
Shazjera (Bournemouth) - (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   

At the beginning of our journey through life in the 1670's, we meet our heroine Rosamund. Having sent out a `spiritual call' for her twin Stephen, she is waiting for him to return from his Grand Tour of Europe. Her father is an alchemist and we know she is eagerly awaiting her brothers' return to complete the Sacred Marriage. As she sees him crossing the dangerous sands in Morecombe Bay, something happens to unsettle her and Stephen's homecoming is not as joyous as she imagined. ...

I really enjoyed this story - the way we get to experience how life was lived in the 17th century (the author has painstakingly researched); how the politics of the day are portrayed and the underlying rebellion; the celebrations of the Sabbats (Sabbats are the yearly cycle of the earth's seasons and would have been important during the time the story is set); the magic; the characters and the setting!

If you like historical fiction, then you will enjoy MOON IN LEO

And finally, after three really big, meaty reads- a little gem: a previously unknown and unpublished tale, by respected scholar and novelist Kathleen Herbert, who retells Guinevere's story from her point of view.
THE ONCE AND FUTURE QUEEN gives us a a view of Guinevere which speaks to our age.

Saturday, 4 August 2012


Now, while I am offering one of my e-books as a free download, seems an appropriate time for me to add my few penn'orths to this contentious debate. This article and its comments in today's Telegraph got me thinking.

Let me start with my experience as a publisher, so that what I say can be put into context. I run a new and very small- OK micro- family publishing business. Trifolium Books UK has been in business now for just over 18 months.

I started the business initially because I was not prepared to spend hours, days and weeks of my life trying to find an agent and/or publisher for my friend Kathleen Herbert who had been a highly successful, mainstream published, author in the 1980s. Some of the story is here, thanks to Deborah Swift, and my full reasons for setting up the company are here.

I use new technology- Print on Demand- for my books, which has many great advantages- no wasted copies, no remaindered books, excellent quality printing, world-wide distribution, just as many copies as anyone wants- but one disadvantage: each individual copy costs more than your average trade paperback, and a lot more than mass market 3 for the price of 2, books. In all other ways, I am exactly the same as a traditional publisher: I offer editing, design and promotional services to my authors and don't expect any money from them!

Pricing of the books on Amazon and the world wide market is related to the cost of production, so longer books cost more- and actually this seems very fair to me. I price the paperbacks so that Amazon and the big distributors get what they need and demand; so that I can pay the authors a fair royalty; and so that I can have a tiny chance of making a small profit in the very long run. At the moment, I am happy not to lose money- but then, I don't count my time, nor does any other member of my family team, so it's a bit of an artificial picture. I have no problems with local bookshops- I can supply them on a sale or return basis so that they can sell them at a slightly lower price than Amazon etc.

Now comes the contentious bit- pricing the Kindle versions. Apart from our time, there are up-front costs of the print version- upload, proof copies, revision fees, ISBNs, physical copies for author, designer, British Library etc and enough copies to cover promotion, reviews and local suppliers. When I've done all that, the digital conversion and upload for Kindle (again, apart from time) is free, so I can sell the e copy cheaper. In the case of Moon in Leo, Kathleen and I feel very strongly that we want the book to be read, as it has such a powerful message for us all today.

This is an opportunity for me to offer these books at a lower price- especially as some of them are rather long. For example Moon in Leo has to retail at £11.99 on Amazon, or I would be paying to publish it, so I can offer the digital version at an affordable price, sell more copies and pay the authors a straight 50% of the takings, which will probably go higher if and when I sell more.

I know that I am lucky enough to have a pension that means I don't have to earn money from the business I am passionate about- at least in the short term. So- I am a traditional publisher in some ways- though not a mainstream one, and like the big publishers, I act as a gatekeeper.

The price of this very short ebook is related to its length
Is that the main difference between traditional publishers and self-publishers? Is it this gatekeeping (or lack of it) that worries everyone about self publishing? Well let me tell you- I have read some truly awful books- badly written, badly edited, or seemingly not edited at all, full of plot holes, cliches, dull and unbelievable characters, too many trite adjectives and inappropriate similes- and many were self published; but a shocking number were main stream published. I would buy the argument that we need these big publishing companies if they didn't publish vapid and trivial rubbish like books about non existent meerkats and ghost written biographies of teenage nonentities who are the darlings of readers of Hello Magazine. Most TV, many many films, and much recorded music is utter rubbish- but we are grown ups aren't we? Can't we be our own gatekeepers? We can switch off the telly or the radio, and walk out of the cinema. Why, in the case of books, do we need Nanny Publisher to tell us what we can and can't read? OK so we will have to kiss a lot of frogs before we find our book princes without her to guide us, but with books, I think most of us experienced readers need do no more than peck it on the cheek before we commit. There's no need to go for an all out snog with a bad book!

I think though, that the main point is  that the self publishers who sell cheap are damaging sales of mainstream ebooks. I have a feeling that the big publishers are over pricing their ebooks in an ostrich like move to try and make us buy only paper books. It's often possible on Amazon, to buy the real book cheaper. Whatever the true explanation for this it is counter-intuitive  to buy a virtual book which is dearer than a real one.

I buy ebooks for lots of reasons- one is that I don't risk much money to try a new author, and like many of the commentators in the Telegraph I have read authors I might not have come across because of this. Another reason is that, for good reads that I enjoy at the time, but probably won't read again, I am not cluttering up already bulging bookshelves. However, if I read a Kindle book I think is A Keeper- I go straight out and buy a real version- preferably from my local indie bookshop! I did this for Rohinton Mistry's A Fine Balance and happily payed full price for both versions- but this is a five star  + + + book!

So- how do we small indie publishers know how to price our ebooks? We neither want to under-value the work of our authors, nor put off potential readers. When Julia and I discussed the digital price of The Boy with Two Heads we decided to price it at less than the price of the adult historical fiction so that young people could afford to buy it with their pocket money. In this discussion between author and publisher, who was being favoured? Author, publisher or reader? Or are we all part of the same community? Take a look at my books on Amazon, and tell me what you think.



The Boy with Two Heads is free to download on Amazon until Sunday!  They are going fast, but they are only limited by time, so get it while it's hot!

Look out for more Trifolium Books promotions in the next few weeks:

Thursday, 2 August 2012


THE BOY WITH TWO HEADS is free to download this weekend, starting at about 8.00 pm Friday, 3rd August in UK (12.00am Pacific Time)

Author Julia Newsome will be at the London 2012 Olympics this weekend- see if you can catch her wearing her distinctive t-shirt.