Thursday, 30 March 2017

The Write Stuff?

With two books currently 'on the go' (the next PORTABLE WARGAME book and the history of an important Masonic Lodge), I thought that I might see how my other books were faring on the sales front. The results were somewhat different from what I expected.

The first book I published was WHEN EMPIRES CLASH! This was published in paperback format and has currently sold 57 copies.


The Rest of the World sales split down into two copies sold in Australia and one each in Ireland, France, and the Netherlands.

My second book was BROTHERS IN ARMS AND BROTHERS IN THE LODGE. The book tells the stories of the ten members of my Masonic Mother Lodge who served during the First World War, and was written to both commemorate their memory and to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of our oldest member's Initiation into the Lodge. (He is a Masonic historian and archivist as well as being involved in the Tanks of Flesquieres in France.)

This book was also published in paperback format and has currently sold eighty one copies ... five of these being to the United States of America!


The third book was a pure vanity project, and was a thriller entitled THE ELEPHANT AND THE COBRA. It was published as both a paperback and as an eBook. I had no expectations that it would sell ... but it has!


Twelve copies might not seem like many ... but it is ten more than I expected!

I had hoped that THE PORTABLE WARGAME would achieve sales in the high double figures ... and it has. It was published in three formats, hardback, paperback, and eBook, and the sales to date amount to a total of 232.


I expected most of the sales to be to English-speaking countries, and it is no surprise that this assumption was correct.


In this instance the Rest of the World sales split down into four each in Australia and France, three each in Canada and the European Union*, and one each in Ireland, Italy, and Finland.

* The sales figures from Lulu.com do not always specify the country the sales have been made in. In this case they merely stated 'EU' for three sales within the European Union.

It is said that actors should never read reviews of the plays they are in or authors of the books that they have written. Despite this good advice, feedback from readers is important, and the following review of THE PORTABLE WARGAME recently appeared on my Amazon page:
I like the idea of a portable wargame, so the title immediately piqued my interest. The book to me has the overall feel of a piece intended for the internet, rather than as a fully thought out print book. It is as though the author was in a rush to make the point that he has thought of his own rules which can be used to play portable wargames, but accepts that he is not the only person to have done so. That to me seems to be stating the obvious.

Mr Cordery provides the reader with two example sets of portable game rules, which he then proceeds to explain by means of blow by blow fight throughs.

On reflection, this is not a bad book, it's just that with some judicious editing and the use of colour pictures, I think this could all have been put into print as a good two part article in a magazine such as Miniature Wargames, and be all the better for it.
Unfortunately my somewhat disappointed reviewer only gave the name 'Critical-look' when he submitted his 3/5 Star review, otherwise I could have contacted him to discuss the points he raises somewhat further.

22 comments:

  1. Bob, I suspect this reviewer is uaed to the modern, highly illustrated, colourful sets of rules and doesn't appreciate your deliberate 'old school' Morschauser style. It's significant that his comments are more about presentation than the rules themselves.

    I look forward to your next PW book. The sales figures from the first seem very encouraging.

    Inspired by the news that Baccus are remaking the ECW range, I'm looking at adapting PW for ECW, to use in conjunction with the campaign game from the 1644 rules.

    Best wishes, Arthur

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    1. Arthur Harman,

      I would have like to know what he did not like about the book, but the criticism seemed more about the look of the whole thing rather than the actual content. I suspect that you are right about him being used to 'modern, highly illustrated, colourful sets of rules' ... but as he only bought the paperback, I'm not sure how he expected it to have colour illustrations at that price!

      Work on the next book is currently on the back burner as I am spending all my time on research into the huge box of Masonic records I have been loaned. They want them back by the middle of April, and I am only about half way through it all. That said, I hope to do some more work on my Napoleonic project and the next PORTABLE WARGAME book next week as a break from reading though pages and pages of Minutes.

      I have written a draft of some Ancient rules for the next book, and they and my nineteenth century rules - when melded together - might well serve as a starting point for your ECW rules.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  2. Bob, I bought my copy of 'When Empires Clash' last week (or perhaps it was the week before - my age, y'know!). It looks good, and, for me, the important thing is that it has re-enthused me. I've got a lot of Jacklex British, Egyptians & Mad Mahdi beggars, that have never seen the table top - but they will now! Thanks!

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    1. AlFront,

      WHEN EMPIRES CLASH! rules were in some ways the precursor to my PORTABLE WARGAME rules, and I know that they have a small but devoted following. Jacklex figures (which are some of my favourites!) would be ideal for using with WEC, and I look forward to seeing photos of them on your tabletop in due course.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  3. Bob,
    I wouldn't pay any attention to negative type reviews or be dissuaded by what they say- some of these critics could mostly probably be referred to as 'Armchair- Experts'...i.e., had never wrote a book or modeled anything or sculpted anything ever- yet are critical of others and their fine efforts. As an example- my Wargames Foundry British Naval figures which were sculpted over thirty years ago by the Perry brothers (UK) - I had read a review about them and the reviewer pronounced them as "Stout, short and stubby and not anatomy correct" etc...I on the other hand see these Navy Sailors as the Best Figures I've ever owned- and I just love them and am very fond of them. Great going Bob with success and sales of your Portable Wargame book. Cheers. KEV.

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    1. Kev Robertson,

      I suspect that you are right ... but reading negative comments - however justified or unjustified they may be - can take the wind out of one's sails for a bit.

      'Stout, short and stubby and not anatomy correct' could easily be used to describe a whole load of figures from a range of manufacturers ... and after visiting a number of wargame shows, some of the attendees at those shows! ;^)

      Figures are like painting styles; we each like what we like, and who cares if other people don't share our views. I've always like shiny gloss-varnished figures because the varnish protects the figures and makes the colour used stand out with some vibrancy. I'm not a great fan of figures that have been painted with lots of shading and/or black outlines. To my eyes they end up looking too dark when seen on the tabletop and not at about six inches away. You may well disagree ... but if we both enjoy our hobby our way, then where's the harm? (Personally I like the figures you have bought; they have a bit of character and will be ideal for what you want to use them for.)

      All the best,

      Bob

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    2. I totally agree. The majority of modern 25/28mm wargame sculpts come nowhere near the quality of, say, Zvesda figures, which seem to be treated as toys...... Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
      As to the negative review, it does sound like a case of a superficial skim through without any understanding of the background to the rules system at all!

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    3. Barry Carter,

      Part of the problem with modern metal figures is the moulding methods used when compared with that used for plastic figures. If you try to mould metal figures that are as thin (i.e. anatomically correct) as plastic ones, you have to use top quality metal and moulds ... which would make them far more expensive. Thin figures also tend to have less heavily mounded detail, which I understand makes them less attractive to people who want to paint heavily detailed figures.

      I think you are right about the review. The fact that the reviewer does not mention the way the rules work would imply a quick skim rather than a proper cover-to-cover read through.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  4. Bob, you have several good reviews, anyway - and I've just added another one (based on my MW review)!
    Best wishes,
    Arthur

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    1. Arthur Harman,

      I was very pleased with the other two reviews, which is why I found the third so negative. Comments like 'The book to me has the overall feel of a piece intended for the internet, rather than as a fully thought out print book and his final 'damning with faint praise' paragraph do not help me in any way to understand what he did not like about the rules!

      Thank you so much for your review, which I read over lunch. I hope that when your review for MINIATURE WARGAMES is published it might generate a bit more interest in my rules.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  5. Funnily enough, I got a recommendation email from Amazon this morning which included "When Empires Clash" and at £5.99 with free (Prime) delivery I didn't rest pressing the "Learn More" and then the "Buy Now" buttons. I'm not sure whether this counts as a new sale or if it has already been recorded as such by Lulu when Amazon got hold of it. It seems to have been Amazon's last copy as they are now saying "Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 weeks" though mine is being delivered tomorrow.

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    1. Mike Hall,

      I'm not sure how the relationship between Lulu and organisations like Amazon work. I know that Amazon don't pay Lulu for eBooks until at least a month after selling them, and I think that Amazon might print their own copies of the paperback and hardback book editions under license from Lulu.com. The reason why I have come to this conclusion is that when I saw an Amazon edition of my PORTABLE WARGAME book, the quality of the images etc. were not quite up to the standard of the same book when printed by Lulu.com.

      I hope that you enjoy WEC!

      All the best,

      Bob

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  6. The corollary to not reading reviews of your own work:

    There are good reasons why there are no awards for critics.

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  7. I think gamers can be a bit arrogant sometimes. If the reviewer did not play the game, how can he expect to give it a proper review?

    I played my first game last night via the computer online Portable Wargame on the web. I did a simple river crossing (yeah. I just jumped into the deep end!) and gave the defenders 3 infantry and a gun. The attacker had 4 infantry, a gun and a cavalry. This was all in the 18th century frame so only muskets and the gun did not get +2 for direct line of site. The defender had a village to hide in on one side of the river. The right flank also had a bend in it restricting the attacker's ability to concentrate his firepower. After a prolonged firefight, the attacker charged across the bridge and tried to run off the badly shot up defending unit on the other side. He succeeded in his first attack, advanced and then was stopped with another loss. The other two defenders turned to face and fired into the unprotected flanks of the attacking unit, destroying it. Eventually, the wounded center unit was destroyed and the cavalry destroyed the unit in the open. I called game over when the defenders reached their exhaustion point.

    I have to say, this is a very simple but fine game. I did not worry about game mechanics. I only worried about strategy. I think that is the mark of a finely crafted game. Well done!

    I'll be writing more on my blog in the coming days. I think I will have some time to get a post up today at lunch with my initial thoughts.

    John

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    1. John,

      I suspect that he wanted to buy a 'product' i.e. a complete portable wargame and not a book that contained rules and a history of gridded wargaming. Perhaps he'll buy the new Perry Travel Wargame (for £50.00!) instead.

      From the description of your battle it sounds as if it was great fun ... and that you have grasped the fact that although the rules are simple, they can produce a game where you have to think about your strategy and not the game mechanisms.

      I look forward to reading more on your blog in due course.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  8. A review up on my blog. https://johnswargames.wordpress.com/2017/03/30/1277/ Also posted to TMP.

    John

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    1. John,

      Thanks for the excellent review!

      I am currently working on a new draft of my Ancient rules for inclusion in my next book. They include rules for chariots and war elephants, and the latter can be quite deadly if they are used at the right moment.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  9. "It is as though the author was in a rush to make the point that he has thought of his own rules which can be used to play portable wargames, but accepts that he is not the only person to have done so. That to me seems to be stating the obvious."
    I shouldn't worry. Those two sentences read like somebody thinking too much without necessarily being well equipped to do so.
    The book is very good and achieves what I had hoped for: as much information as necessary, both historical and current, all in one place.

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    1. Nobby,

      Cheers! I think that you are right. I've read and re-read these two sentences ... and frankly I can't understand what he is trying to communicate.

      The feedback I've had from almost everyone else has been very supportive, and any criticism has been positive and helpful ... and much appreciated.

      I'm very pleased that you think that the book is very good. I only hope that the follow-up book I am working on is half as good.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  10. The 'Rest of the World' split for 'The Portable wargame' should include one in New Zealand. :-) I wouldn't be ober concerned about the ... negative review. My own view is that it was insufficiently informative really to qualify as a proper review. The impression I get is that the presentation was not to his taste. Well, that's as may be; I for one find over-presentation more off-putting than otherwise.

    What I like about the games presented here is that they have the look of something one could knock up from one's stock of standard terrain pieces in a few minutes. What do I want with pics of war games tables that must have taken hours to set up, and that AFTER having spent half a lifetime making the individual pieces?

    That is the single most attractive feature of TPW: accessibility.

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    1. Archduke Piccolo,

      I am not sure that Lulu.com's sales figures are as up to date as I had thought that they were. They don't show any sales to New Zealand ... although it would be no great surprise to me to discover that they had been lumped in with sales in Australia.

      The review does seem to concentrate more on style than substance, and is probably more a reflection of the current trend that seems to regard everything that is shiny and new as good ... to the detriment of everything else.

      I'm glad that you think my rules and games are accessible. That has always been one of my goals. I used to put on sessions at SALUTE as part of the Wargame Developments 'presence' at such shows, but stopped over ten years ago when I overheard the 'judges' say about our efforts, 'its a great game ... but it's just what people can put on at home or at the club, and it doesn't do anything to promote the hobby'. Although we had more participants take part in our game during the day that any other at the show, the prize for 'Best Game' went to a huge moving diorama/game that looked good, but which nobody - even the people putting it on - seemed to want to take part in.

      All the best,

      Bob

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