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text 2016-12-06 07:10
# 7 The LOCAL RAG. Putting everything I know into a book launch and achieving nothing
The Local Rag - Rod Raglin


How I came to write my seventh novel, The LOCAL RAG.

Plus book launch advice - what doesn't work


The LOCAL RAG was my first go at fiction - a long, long time ago.


At the time I was full of hubris and upon completion quickly sent it to a local publisher. I don't even remember revising it.


It just so happened it landed on the desk of an editor who recognized my name as the publisher and editor of five community newspapers and an aspiring politico. Rather than shred it she took the time to line edit the first chapter. Suffice to say there was so much "blue pencil" it obscured the original manuscript.


I quickly hid this embarrassment in the back of my filing cabinet and would have forgot about it except for her comment that "there's a good story in here somewhere". I thought so too, all I needed to do was learn how to write it.


With the demise of so many reputable media outlets and the rise of just as many disreputable ones I had been thinking about writing a novel with a media theme. I wanted to investigate "citizen journalism", the influence of social media, and digital technology on my profession. Why not have a protagonist, a publisher and a journalist, who is struggling to keep his professional integrity while confronted with technological and financial challenges.


Hey, that's what The LOCAL RAG is about, and maybe I now know enough about the craft that I can write it.


I dug it out, sucked it up, and read it.


Wow, was it bad. But, as the editor had said, there indeed was a story in there and it was the one I wanted to tell.


It's quite interesting that as you become a better writer you write simpler. New writers and bad writers use way too many words. I cut about forty percent of the novel and then set about layering in characterization, motivation and honing the plot line. I also needed to bring it up to date technologically and to do that researched successful online newspaper models.


It was fun, it was exciting and a side benefit was that I learned how to put the last of the community newspapers I still publish online.


Here's the gist of it:


Do you believe everything you read in the newspapers?


Jim Mitchell doesn't.


He's a journalist and the publisher and editor of a community newspaper, The Sentinel.


He gave up a career with big media because he couldn't justify their choice of what to cover, couldn't tolerate the way they edited his stories and would not be implicit in misleading the public to benefit some hidden corporate agenda.


When he bought The Sentinel he thought all that would end. Being owner of "the local rag" he could select the stories, edit the copy and make sure the interests of the community were served.


He would print the truth - no slant, no bias, no spin, and he'd make a living doing it.


He was wrong.


Right from the beginning Jim's brand of reportage rankles some powerful people, people who pay his bills. Then there's the new competitor, a multinational media conglomerate that's expanding its generic community newspaper format into The Sentinel's market area.


Soon it's a struggle for The Sentinel to make a profit and for Jim to keep true to his uncompromising ethic.


When his best friend, Anthony Bravaro decides to run for mayor Jim's hopeful he'll be an honest politician.


Hope turns to dismay as Jim watches the quest for power turn a good man bad. Tony's campaign tests Jim's professional objectivity and personal integrity.


When Jim confronts his friend with damaging information that could end his run for public office he finds out how far Tony's prepared to go to win the mayor's seat - farther than he could ever have imagined.



This being my seventh novel I tried everything the so-called experts insist makes for a successful book launch.


Beginning in October, The LOCAL RAG was available for pre-order and entered in KindleScout, where readers could nominate it. I did a direct mail campaign with a free e-book advanced reading copy attached to over two hundred people who had expressed interest in my work. I ran giveaways on Goodreads, BookLikes and LibraryThing and enrolled in Amazon's KindleSelect so I could take advantage of their five days where The LOCAL RAG is available free.


I promoted all this on Twitter and Facebook and sent two follow-up messages to my email list.


So far I've given away about four hundred e-book editions and the net result has been one sale - I think ( I find Amazon's royalty reports are challenging to understand) and four reviews - all flattering mind you, but disappointing just the same.


I'm here to tell you despite what the book marketing, book launch scammers tell you none of their sure-fire techniques and gimmicks has worked (yet) - at least for me. The only up side, if you can call it that, is I've been able to do all this marketing on my own so it hasn't cost me anything.


I have two more Amazon free days left and am currently in the process of sending out e-books and two paperbacks to winners of my giveaways so there still could be a review or two trickle in from that - not like it will make a difference.


Even for a guy who loves to write this is getting a bit (?) frustrating.


Stay calm, be brave, watch for the signs




Reviews for The LOCAL RAG can be read at



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review 2016-07-27 15:26
I See You
I See You - Clare Mackintosh

I Let You Go was one of my favourite books from 2015 and I was thrilled that it won the Theakston’s Crime Novel of year at last week’s festival.
It is set in London and has two main characters, one is Kelly a police officer who is determined to prove her worth after events in her past affected her career. The other is Zoe, a mother who is separated from her children’s father and in a new relationship with Simon a journalist. When she sees a photograph of herself in a local papers classified section she is worried and upset. Even though those close to her don’t take it seriously she soon realises that a different woman’s photograph feature each day. She decides to contact the police when she suspects that it could be more sinister.
The narrative switches between both women and infuriatingly always does so at a crucial point. This made if a very quick read because I couldn’t wait to see what happened next. Even if I should have been asleep. I did figure out some of what was going on in the background but had no idea at all who was responsible for the photos.
It’s a brilliant read, a worrying storyline if you are a commuter. The levels of paranoia from Zoe and guilt from Kelly were very believable. There was probably not as many twists as there was in I Let You Go but they are there and they are shocking. By the end I was minus a few fingernails and convinced that I had just read one of the best novels in recent months.
Very highly recommended, you won’t want to put it down.

With thanks to the publisher for the copy via NetGalley.

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text 2016-07-11 13:24
The Woman in Cabin 10
The Woman in Cabin 10 - Ruth Ware

Having loved Ruth Ware’s debut novel In a Dark, Dark Wood last year I was looking forward to her latest book. A stand-alone it features a young travel journalist Lo who is excited to be given the chance to report on a new cruise. She has had a few problems, had a break in that left her injured and suffers from anxiety.
There were only a few people on the ship, all of them were on board to publicise the cruise and she was eager to make a good impression. She is nervous, feeling claustrophobic and has quite a bit to drink. When she finally gets back to her cabin she hears a disturbance from the cabin next door and sees what she thinks is a body being thrown into the sea. She reports it to security and is told that she must be mistaken because the cabin is unoccupied.
The level of claustrophobia was quite high and I found it to be a little intimidating. I felt the same tension as Lo when she was walking through the ship. There was also a feeling of isolation, being out at sea with no way of making contact with anybody who wasn’t on board.
I thought that Lo was a great character, she had her faults but refused to back down to the ones who didn’t take her seriously. There were a few parts that I really admired her for how she coped with what she experienced. There were also parts that didn’t really work for me but I still did enjoy the book a lot. It has convinced me not to go on a cruise though.
With thanks to the publisher for the copy via NetGalley.

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review 2016-06-27 10:58
A Country Road, A Tree
A Country Road, A Tree: A novel - Jo Baker

A Country Road, A Tree is one of the most convincing novels that I have read that shows the suffering experienced during WW2. It takes place in France and is based on the life of Samuel Beckett. At no point in the novel is the main character named although other characters are.
I knew nothing at all about Samuel Beckett and I had no idea when I started reading that the novel was based on him. I noticed a couple of reviews that mentioned it was in the Author’s note which my proof copy did not have. So for me the novel was just about people struggling to survive the war years experiencing hunger, danger, loss and betrayal alongside devotion and lifelong friendship.
At times it was difficult to read, there is no glamorizing of events here. You read about overcrowded railway stations with not enough trains. People moving across France with the possessions that they can carry. They are hungry, dreaming about what they would like to eat most whilst others who aren’t as worried are feeding their dogs black market ham. When friends are taken away by police they decide that they have to do more to help and get involved with the resistance.
It wasn’t all gloom. The relationship between the characters in the novel, especially Samuel and Suzanne was lovely to read. I felt that they were devoted to each other but at times she felt frustrated by him especially when he gave away much needed items or placed them in danger.
Completely different to Longbourn, the previous novel but one that I enjoyed a lot more and I would like to thank Alison Barrow for my proof copy received.

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review 2016-06-06 16:58
Deadly Harvest
[ { DEADLY HARVEST (DETECTIVE KUBU MYSTERIES (PAPERBACK)) } ] by Stanley, Michael (AUTHOR) Apr-30-2013 [ Paperback ] - Michael Stanley

Deadly Harvest is the fourth in the series that features 'Kubu'. I've not read the earlier books but after reading this fabulous one I plan on doing so very soon.
There was so much about it that I enjoyed. The very first thing was the little sketch on the back of book of the hippo, the mammal which gives Kubu his nickname. And then there is his love of cookies, like him I don't need much of an excuse to have an extra one! And I loved that each part of the novel takes its name from a quote from Macbeth which given the main subject matter was very fitting.
Witch Doctors and the muti is the main theme and how it is regarded by the people who feature in the novel. Even the ones who insist that they don't believe still understandably fear it. Certain parts of it had me feel more than a little spooked, especially when there are unexplained noises around certain people.
It's not all about superstition. Politics and the impact of AIDS are also a big part of the storyline. I never knew that deaths caused by AIDS was so high in Botswana and the novel demonstrates very well how so many families are affected.
I had a great sense of Botswana, I could hear the characters talk as I was reading, and experienced the atmosphere in the bars and at demonstrations.
It didn't matter that I hadn't read the previous books, I never noticed any spoilers or even mentions of previous cases or Kubu's personal life. I'm looking forward to reading more about him and Botswana soon.

With thanks to Karen Sullivan for the copy received.

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