The Price You Pay

Why certain books sell, while others don’t, is a conundrum. Some terrible books sell by the barrowload and some fantastic books…don’t. Books lauded by the great and the good, with terrific reviews and recommendations from others, flounder in the lower reaches of Amazon’s rankings, while others with a couple of simple reviews top their charts. Then there’s the $64,000 question – how much?


Cheap, that’s what sells. Right? Get your price down as far as you can and you’ll be rewarded with more sales. Granted, your profit will suffer, but as long as you’ve got volume, you’re sorted. Right?


I’d like to share two things that happened to me in regard to pricing. One is a cautionary tale, the other an example of the illogicality of pricing. Both reveal the power of Amazon promos.

  1. When I was about to release my second novel, my first was flying high on Amazon, selling c.60 copies a day. I decided to follow the adamant assertions of others and offer it for free, hoping to create a larger pool of buyers for novel two and boost sales post freebie period. After all, that’s what happened to everyone else doing that. Only, it didn’t work; I gave away 2000+ copies of novel one and afterwards sales crashed and novel two didn’t sell all that well. I now know that the crucial error I made was to interrupt an Amazon promotion with my own. In the run up to my freebie promo, Amazon had discounted my book from 99p to 77p (at their expense) and promoted it to their database. I went free and they dropped me from their campaign. This killed my visibility and therefore my sales.
  2. About a year ago, I put the price of In Many Ways up from 99p to £1.99. Almost right away, sales fell and it tumbled down the rankings. I panicked, put it back to 99p and it rallied, a bit. I kept all four of my e-books at 99p and sales trundled along, earning me little in the way of royalties. Last week, I discussed pricing and the new Kindle Countdown mechanism with my publisher. We agreed to raise prices in order to try this promo tool out: you have to sell books at a higher price for 30 days before offering them at a discount on the Countdown. So, all the books went from 99p up to £1.99 and, right away, started to sell. On Monday, things really took off with over forty books selling in four hours! It’s Friday and sales are still far higher than before the price rise. Better still, I’m making four times more royalties from every copy sold! Why, though? They’re more expensive; sales should have dropped, like before. However, it turns out I’m on an Amazon promo again. Don’t know why, but they’re emailing folks with my books suggesting they buy them, and they are, which is nice.

So, you see, there is no logic to pricing but there is every reason to hope for an Amazon promo. Just don’t interfere with them!

Maybe there are other authors or readers out there with views or stories to share regarding pricing? I’d love to hear from you.

Peter Carroll

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And then there were four…

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That’s Stark Choices available on paperback now and the set so far is complete.

Thanks as ever to Dave Lyons for his help.

It would be hugely appreciated, if you’ve read and enjoyed any of my stuff, for you to leave a review somewhere on the web – even a couple of lines. It really helps us authors get noticed. Thanks.

Peter Carroll

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Stark Paperback

I just got a great early Christmas present – Stark Contrasts is now available on paperback. Stark Choices should follow shortly – once the proof copy makes a bid for freedom at Customs!

As ever, thanks to Dave Lyons at Raven Crest Books for his help in making this possible.

I’d like to take this chance to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year when it comes along.

Stark Contrasts Cover

Peter Carroll

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Trainspotting Again

Nineteen years ago, in June 1994, I married Sharon; a momentous and memorable day indeed. One of Sharon’s bridesmaids, Carol, gave me a wee present to take on honeymoon with me – a copy of Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting. For some reason, whenever I mention that I read this book on my honeymoon it raises smile, chuckle or eyebrow; sometimes all three. Well, I say for some reason, if you’ve read it, you’ll know for exactly which reasons.

Trainspotting Cover

Back in 1994, the book was only just over a year since published, building a cult following, but yet to go stellar. Carol was so effusive in her praise that, though I’d never heard of the book, or Welsh, I was looking forward to trying it. However, as I lay on my sun lounger, slowly crisping in the Greek sun, I began to realise I was reading something very special.

There are so many things about Trainspotting that make it stand out from the novel crowd. The unusual structure, the lack of a proper plot, the ever changing character perspectives and narrative voices, the use of phonetic Edinburgh dialogue and the unremitting realism of the violence and drug taking. I found myself lurching between belly laughs and revulsion in equal measure. I’d never read anything like it. I was truly blown away.

Fast forward to 2013 and, as Irvine Welsh publicised the 20th anniversary of the publication of his immense debut, I decided I would be well served by reading it again. It may seem surprising that I hadn’t revisited the book in the interim, considering how highly I regarded it, but I rarely re-read a book. I know lots of people who do and I’ve got no problem with it, nor do I have any particular reason or principle behind my own avoidance. It’s just kind of how things usually pan out. However, this was no ordinary book and I was intrigued to see what I’d think of it all this time later.

I wasn’t disappointed.

All the things I thought were amazing nineteen years ago hit home with almost as much force. The book is quite simply a masterpiece. Intelligent, challenging, brave, repulsive, insightful, entertaining and original. If you’ve never read it before, and assuming multiple uses of the c word won’t send you running for the hills, then read it. If you’ve read it before but, like me, it’s been a while, treat yourself and read it again. You won’t be sorry.

Peter Carroll

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Stark Choices

Hoorah, yay, woo hoo, etc. Stark Choices is on the electronic shelves!

Stark Choices Cover

If you buy it, thanks and hope you enjoy it!



Peter Carroll


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Stark Choices

Well, here we go again, it’s new book time! I’m really excited to announce the next installment of the Adam Stark series of crime novels will be out very soon. You can read the opening chapter if you click on the Sample Chapter tab above.

Look forward to your feedback and here’s hoping you enjoy the whole thing when it comes out!

Stark Choices Cover

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Old Dog…New Tricks

As an indie writer, you learn a lot as you go along from trial and error. Actually, that’s life in general, isn’t it? Anyway, it’s true to say that, like anything else you might do regularly, you find yourself improving. In writing, the other thing that starts to emerge is your ‘voice’. The style and tone you like to create with your writing. It’s certainly happening to me.

In March 2012 Pandora’s Pitbull was published. It’s fair to say it hasn’t set the publishing world alight! I think it’s a good yarn (I would say that…) but it needed a spruce up to try and get it to sell better. With this in mind, I asked for some opinions on the cover. The majority of folks seemed to think the first cover was perhaps a hindrance to sales. This month, we’ve changed it and… I love it! Bolder, more colourful, less aggressive, a more intriguing background and the font is a vast improvement. I hope others agree – feedback from Facebook has been very positive so far.

PP5            PP NEW 2013

With the Off the Page event looming, I really wanted to make it available in paperback. This meant an excuse for a full re-edit. That’s when it struck me how much my writing voice has developed over the past year. I’ve radically pruned, restructured and rebuilt the prose of the book. I’ve altered little, if anything, of the storyline, plot or characterisation but I’m far happier with the content now. I hope this might also encourage a few more positive reviews.

There is a potential difficulty with this alteration though. It means that folks with the original version might feel a bit hard done by. Was their version not as good? Well, if I’m being brutally honest, no, it wasn’t. I think I’ve made the prose tighter, punchier and flow better and we have a new jacket. With this in mind, I’m really happy to say you can update your version via the kindle and Amazon without any further charge. However, if you’re struggling to do that, please let me know via email or the comment box, and I’ll gladly send you a free replacement copy. I’d be especially grateful to anyone who found the time to review it afterwards.

This is the first of many exciting writing things going on in my life this Summer. Stay tuned for more announcements – including a brand new Adam Stark novel called ‘Stark Choices’.

Right, write, right?

Peter Carroll

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Off To A Flyer!

Here’s the flyer Dunblane Library have produced to promote my event at off the page. Let’s hope it helps get me some attendees!

Off The Page Flyer

Peter Carroll

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Off The Scale

I am very pleased to announce that I’ve been given a slot in the “off the page” Stirling Book Festival 2013!

Off The Page Front Cover

This is incredibly exciting. It’s also daunting, as there’s an admission fee, and I’ll need to be witty and interesting enough to persuade a few folk to firstly attend, and then to stay for an hour and a half without demanding a refund! 

Off The Page Inside

I’ll be joined by my publisher Dave Lyons and we’ll be talking about what the brave new world of Independent Publishing feels like at the sharp end, reading some stuff from my novels and taking questions. I might even have a brand new novel to promote if I can get my act in gear and finish “Stark Choices” in time – nothing like a deadline to sharpen the mind.

If you do fancy coming along, you’d be most welcome. We’ll be at the Dunblane Library on Friday 6th September from 7.30-9.00pm. Details of how to get there (and the tons of other great events taking place as part of the festival) can be found on the Stirling Libraries website.

Woo hoo!

Peter Carroll

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Dilemmas of Independence

In 2014 Scotland will have a referendum to decide whether or not we’d like to become an independent nation. The democratic process in action; people exercising their free choice and then most of them not getting what they wanted. Then again, it’s a better system than the one they use in Burma or China. However, this blog may not be what it seems. I’m not going to discuss the dilemmas facing an Independent Scotland; rather I’m going to ask for your advice, your democratic input into resolving the dilemmas facing this independent author.

I have three books, but the difference in their sales performance perplexes me. Much of it is self-doubt, that stressful and unpleasant domain of all people who chuck a piece of creativity out into the world for others to judge. Some of it is more technical; to do with cover images, blurb and so on. Some of it is about marketing and trying to hit the right note with readers and reviewers. 

In Many Ways Cover

The good news is that ‘In Many Ways’, my debut novel, has done very well. Since publishing in late august 2011, I’ve sold nearly 7,000 copies, it’s attracted twenty-seven 5 star reviews (25 in the UK, 2 in the US), and I’ve had lots of nice feedback from readers via Twitter in addition to these reviews. In April 2013 it won a Thriller of The Month award from I’m extremely proud of this and grateful for all the positivity.



‘Pandora’s Pitbull’ was published in March 2012 and so far has sold modestly. Less than a thousand copies so far. I’ve only garnered seven 5 star reviews (6 in the UK, 1 in the US). I have come up with a few reasons why might this be and the dilemmas facing me:

1. The cover is putting people off. I used an aggressive, striking image of a pitbull, thinking this would attract attention. Maybe it does, but of the wrong kind? The first big dilemma – should I change it after a year and a half?

2. The title is not quite right? I have been torn by the title since the day I decided to go for it. It comes from a line in the book. Originally, in an early form of the story it was called ‘Dawn of the Ned’. I backed out of this in the end fearing the joke would be lost on non-Scots and it might imply the book was a comedy, which it’s not. Next big dilemma – should I risk changing it?

3. The blurb is not hitting the right note with browsers or prospective buyers.

Stark Contrasts Cover

‘Stark Contrasts’ was published in December 2012 and has done pretty poorly so far in sales terms, and with similar review stats to PP. However, it also won a Thriller of the Month award for May this year on e-thriller. So, why am I struggling to sell this book when it’s in a similar genre to ‘In Many Ways’ and is the same price? My problem here is not with a lack of faith in the technical side. I don’t think the cover is a problem (I might be wrong) and I like the title (I still might be wrong!). The blurb may not be attracting buyers mind you. It just seems less easy to nail down for Stark. Why won’t it sell?

This is where I need your help, your votes, your democratic input.

Should I change the cover and/or title of Pandora’s Pitbull or just stand by it, accept it won’t ever sell that well and move on to writing another book?

Thanks in advance for any advice or opinions given.

Peter Carroll

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