Tag Archives: Proper Job

Proper Job Free Today and Tomorrow

I’m invest­ig­at­ing this Kindle Select busi­ness, which is a new ser­vice offered by Amazon that allows Kindle authors to put their books for­ward for a lend­ing scheme. The catch is that Amazon requires such an author to pub­lish via the Kindle plat­form exclus­ively. Not such a catch for me, as I sell, on aver­age, zero books elsewhere.

Once an author’s book is in the Kindle Select pro­gramme, it is eli­gible for five days of free pro­mo­tion every ninety days. So, as an exper­i­ment, I’m mak­ing my novel Proper Job free for today and tomor­row, just to see what happens.

Update at 11:30

I was con­cerned about what would hap­pen to the rank of a pro­moted book. That is, when being pro­moted, at what pos­i­tion would the book enter the ‘free’ chart? Would it even go into the ‘free’ chart, or just be marked as ‘free’ in the paid chart? After the pro­mo­tion, at what pos­i­tion would it re-enter the paid chart?

Well, Proper Job has essen­tially had its rank­ing stripped. It no longer has a rank­ing accord­ing to its Amazon inform­a­tion page, and on the KDP dash­board (the back-end that authors have access to), the rank­ing inform­a­tion is marked as ‘unavail­able’. So it looks as though pro­moted books are de-indexed.

However, this doesn’t mean that people can’t find the book. 14 cop­ies were ‘sold’ in the US since it became free; and 26 in the UK. To put that in per­spect­ive, I’ve sold at 86p only 34 cop­ies of Proper Job since it was pub­lished in November.

I’ll post more data here as it becomes available.

Update at 12:00

Amazon has now indexed Proper Job in the ‘free’ chart, so I guess there isn’t a ‘limbo’ chart after all. The delay is almost cer­tainly a lag due to data­base updates and let­ting an hour’s worth of ‘sales’ accrue to com­pute the new ranking.

As a data point, Proper Job was ranked at pos­i­tion 8,299 in yesterday’s paid chart and is now at 1, 665 in the free chart. That’s for the UK. In the US, the rank­ing is still classed as unknown.

Update at 20:30

Now ranked at 862 in the US for free books, and 34 in the Humor chart. In the UK, it’s at 304 in the over­all chart and 18 in the Humour chart. US sales: 183. UK sales: 92.

★ Proper Job

It has been a long time com­ing, but today I pub­lish Proper Job, a com­edy novel whose first draft I com­pleted more than seven years ago (US). How do I feel? Exhausted. Pleased. Quite inter­ested to see how well the book will do on the Kindle plat­form in com­par­ison to Déjà Vu and Flashback. I feel that sci­ence fic­tion does well in ebook form; but Proper Job, being a com­edy lack­ing in lasers, bug-eyed mon­sters and time travel, should have a broader appeal.

The book evolved on sev­eral fronts across the course of its devel­op­ment. The ini­tial draft was edgier. Its main char­ac­ter — then called Fabe, not Andy — was a crueller indi­vidual. It was novel where the main char­ac­ter and the reader laughed ‘at’ things. Now, the novel is one where the laughter is ‘with’.

Structurally, too, I changed some ele­ments to take it away from the some­what Hollywood three-act struc­ture. These expli­cit frame­works are well and good in ret­ro­spect, but my exper­i­ence of writ­ing Proper Job has con­firmed my pre­ju­dice that they are best applied in ret­ro­spect to help fix prob­lems. They can­not be used as a blue­print. (That is, I can’t use them like that.)

So here it is. The final draft is about 60,000 words, I believe. With revi­sions, I prob­ably worked through 200,000 or more.

Subtext and — of course — schmub­text. However, Proper Job is also about my rela­tion­ship with Cornwall.

Thanks to my stal­wart editor Clare Christian and equally stal­wart proofer Olivia Wood, without whom Proper Job would be a wibbly pile of kack.

Publish and be damned.

Cover for KDP

★ Making a Proper Job of It

When I wrote Déjà Vu, I wasn’t sure if it was any good. Certainly, it was 120,000 of sus­tained nar­rat­ive and kept me enter­tained, but I couldn’t be sure about the effect on other people. Turns out they liked it.

The novel I wrote after Déjà Vu was a very dif­fer­ent one: a coming-of-age com­edy based on my exper­i­ences of being an ice-cream man, which I did to help pay for my uni­ver­sity stud­ies. I laughed a great deal when I wrote it. I thought it was good. I sent it to agents and pub­lish­ers, and instead of the form rejec­tions I’d received for Déjà Vu, I got hand-written replies. More than half those agents and pub­lish­ers enjoyed read­ing it. However, because of the demands of mod­ern pub­lish­ing, full lists, and so on, they could not pro­ceed with it.

I wasn’t quite ready to give up. Since 2005, I’ve returned to the manu­script, tweaked the gags, added col­our, and gen­er­ally improved it. I wrote a film script of the story in 2009.

When I first got together with my agent, I sent him the manu­script for Proper Job (along with Déjà Vu and Flashback). I knew that most of the people in the industry who had read the book enjoyed it, so I was more con­fid­ent in Proper Job find­ing a pub­lisher than my two sci­ence fic­tion novels.

A year passed, dur­ing which Déjà Vu almost, but not quite, got picked up. I asked my agent how he was get­ting on with Proper Job. He told me he had never received it. This puzzled me because I’d been care­ful in nam­ing it in the body of the email. Anyway, my heart sank. If I’m hon­est with myself, this is one of the reas­ons I thought my agent and I should part ways.

Over the years, whenever I came back to the novel, it sucked me in. It made me laugh. No mean feat when I’ve read some of the gags more than twenty times. Plus, the mar­ket­ing part of my brain — you know, the bit that never kicks in until I’m months into a pro­ject and real­ise its poten­tial read­er­ship is, like, five — that mar­ket­ing part told me this is the kind of book that any­body might pick up. It won’t eli­cit pre­ju­dice in quite the same way as a sci­ence fic­tion work. It’s a boy-meets-girl com­edy set in Cornwall dur­ing the eclipse of 1999, that’s all.

Now, of course, I’m in a pos­i­tion to say the hell with it and pub­lish the thing myself on the Kindle.

On Monday of this week, I went to The Grand, a well-preserved Victorian hotel over­look­ing the Leas in Folkestone. I spent every morn­ing, after­noon and even­ing work­ing on a final draft. Next week, I’ll send the thing off to my favour­ite freel­ance editor, Clare Christian, and get her take.

I’ve just real­ised that one of the major changes I’ve made in this latest drive is to intro­duce an ele­ment of faith — not reli­gion, exactly, but faith — in the main char­ac­ter. I won­der if this is my uncon­scious mind telling me to have faith in the story. If so, it needn’t have bothered. I’ve always had faith in it.