What’s the new book all about? OUT SUNDAY MAY 11TH!

A head full of knives KINDLE COVER BLACK

Sorry it’s been a bit quiet here on the website for a while … but it’s because I’ve been WRITING! And the new book is out THIS SUNDAY! It’s called A HEAD FULL OF KNIVES, and here’s the blurb:

Martin Hogan is being watched, all of the time. He just doesn’t know it yet.

It started a long time ago, too, even before his wife died. Before he started walking every day. Before the walks became an attempt to find a release from the whirlwind that his brain has turned into.

He never walks alone, of course, although his 18 month old son and his faithful dog, Scoffer, aren’t the greatest conversationalists.

Then the walks become longer. Then the other dog starts showing up. The big white one, with the funny looking head. The one that sits and watches Martin and his family as they walk away.

All over the world, the first attacks begin. The Brotherhood of the Raid make their existence known; a leaderless group who randomly and inexplicably assault both strangers and loved ones without explanation.

Martin and the surviving members of his family are about to find that these events are connected. Caught at the centre of the world as it changes beyond recognition, Martin will be faced with a series of impossible choices … but how can an ordinary and broken man figure out the unthinkable? What can he possibly do with a head full of knives?

Luke Smitherd (author of the Amazon bestseller THE STONE MAN and THE BLACK ROOM series) asks you once again to consider what you would do in his latest unusual and original novel. A HEAD FULL OF KNIVES will not only change the way you look at your pets forever, but will force you to decide the fate of the world when it lies in your hands.

Out Sunday May 11th!

Paperback Paparazzi! Let’s See Your TSM Paperback Snaps!

Seeing as The Stone Man has been out in paperback (thanks to Amazon Createspace) for a few days now and has actually shifted a few copies, I thought it might be fun if those of you that have made very, VERY sensible choices and bought a copy sent me in a shot of the book; either just the book in an interesting location, yourself holding it, or even just a shot of it sitting snugly in your hand. I’d love to see them, and either way I’ll post all of the ones I get up on here! And BEFORE any wags send in their shots of them wiping their arses with it, I saw the gag coming, okay ..?

Hmm, anyway, maybe I’ll think up some sort of little prize for the best photo? I’ll ponder it …

Anyway, for now, here’s my very basic attempt. Surely you can do better than this, or at least match it? 🙂


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On a week when I’ve given all of the existing covers of my books an overhaul, I thought that I’d put up a piece about all of the recent changes involved with my covers, and of the importance of covers in general for the self-publisher.

“But Luke,” you may be saying, “hold it right there. If covers are so important, why did you do yours yourself?” Wellll, because it’s something I personally enjoy doing a lot, and take as much pride in creating as I do the contents. I love the idea of having a ‘uniform’ look to my covers, as well as the concept of having a different, bold single colour for each one combined with a central, minimalist figure/image; obviously, there’s no reason that I couldn’t tell a cover designer to make them that way, but I just really wanted to have a go myself. Perhaps unwise, but I felt strongly about it at the time.

Pictured: minimalism.

HOWEVER, I also appreciate that my covers so far have looked a touch home made; there has also been a major discrepancy in sales numbers for me between the US and UK Amazon sites. So why not try and make something that looks a little more ‘published’ – but still keeping the same single colour and uniform stylings as before – and see if it affects sales overseas? Especially on a week when I have my first reasonably expensive paid promotion coming up for any of my books (more on that another time.)

And if, after a few months, THAT doesn’t work, rhen I might have to look into busting the old coffers a bit more and digging up some money to pay a professional cover designer…and if I was going to do that, I’d give it to the excellent Paddy Green (@padgrn but more on HIM shortly.)

I’m currently reading ‘Self Printed’ by Catherine Ryan Howard (@cathryanhoward) and it’s been giving me a bit of a kick up the arse on a few issues book-wise, several of which should have been kind of obvious. I don’t agree with EVERYTHING she says (my readers rather seem to respond well to me  my fairly sweary and ‘unprofessional’ self, both in my afterwords and online presence, and she advises being otherwise. She’s probably right in most cases, but it doesn’t seem to be the deal in mine…I think she’d probably despise the state of this blog too, but one step at a time and all that) but the her book has, so far, been very inspiring, and I recommend it highly to anyone considering self publishing. Anyway, she makes some good points regarding covers.

After all, your cover is your shop window. The Stone Man currently has 94 reviews on Amazon UK, which is great, but if the cover lets people know that my book is self published, a lot of people out there simply won’t touch a self-published book; why reduce your potential market? The perfect timing of discovering Catherine’s book and a tweet from the excellent Paddy Green (later, later) have spurred me into action.

It may be more interesting to look at my own cover development through that of my first book, The Physics Of The Dead, as that is the only one of my books to have four different covers, three of which were all variations of themselves. Here’s the very first one, which I imagine the majority of you have never seen:

You may like it, you may hate it. Some did, some didn’t. Either way, it’s supposed to be in a very minimalist style, which always divides opinion. Or you might just think that it looks amateurish. Later, I changed it to this:

The idea, colour, and central image are all the same, but I prefer the font and the layout of the text. This is something I’d keep throughout all of my books for some time, and even when I overhauled everything, I kept the font and typesetting for my name. This styling then continued in the other covers:

I realised that TPOTD didn’t quite fit in with this, plus the white text was hard to read against such a light green when thumbnail-sized on Amazon, so I changed it again:
I have a lot of affection for these covers; but I recently realised that perhaps I’ve let that blinker me to the fact they do look home produced. So I’ve tried to do something a little more ‘published’ looking with their replacements (although, as with these, some people prefer them, some people despise them):

 And, of course, The Physics Of The Dead (the only one that’s kept its original colour):

You can hopefully see the new uniform styling (text on the left, artwork on the right) and to me, it looks a lot more professional. You might disagree; I guess we’ll see if sales are affected in any way. However, there’s also another option…
You see, he excellent Paddy Green (see: earlier) got in touch via twitter to say that he enjoyed TPOTD, and that he’d discovered it as it followed a similar subject matter to his own book, The Old Terra Vitae. It was looking at Paddy’s cover (also self-published) and realising how much more professional it looked that my own, that combined with Catherine’s book to spur me into action; I half-jokingly asked if he fancied having a crack at re-doing TPOTD. Proving that the ‘Excellent’ in his name isn’t just a clever title, he promptly sent back two conceptual covers for it that even tie in some of the elements of the story (you’ll know if you’ve read it.) And here they are:

Both great, but I particularly like the second one. I would have used it too, if it wouldn’t mean redoing all of my other covers to tie them into a similar look. But what do you  think? Do you hate them all, prefer the old ones, prefer the new ones, or even think that you could do better? Why not let me know in the comments section below? 🙂

You can find more of Catherine’s  self-publishing thoughts on her blog, Catherine, Caffeinated and you can follow Paddy Green @padgrn. 

To learn more about MY books (Woo!) visit www.lukesmitherd.com where you can buy them for the Kindle.


Free listings on Amazon for KDP Select publishers like myself, whilst less effective than they used to be (more on that another time) are still a good way of getting your work out there when no-one knows who the hell you are. Like myself. 
But it’s ALSO a good idea to get your work submitted to the various sites that promote said free ebook listings (of any type, not just Kindle); they’ll not only put your work on their front pages (provided you meet their varying requirements, and that they like you) but often tweet the link to their thousands of followers too. There’s an immense market of people that only read free books on their Kindles; whilst, in the long run, you won’t make any money off them, a lot of them will give you the vital reviews you need to help you on your way. If you think about it, it’s quite a nice two-way relationship; because these people are happy to try out new authors, a lot of them are happy to post a review, more so, in many ways, than your paying customers, many of whom will think that they’ve paid you your money for the book, so they don’t owe you a review (they’re right, they don’t owe you anything…but it’s makes an author extremely grateful when they do.)
Anyway, something I discovered on my free-listing-promotional-insanity-day was the extremely useful Author Marketing Club. It has a load of free ebook ‘marketing tools’ – nothing new there – but best of all, it has a page where the best of the free ebook marketing link sites all in one place. Even better, the links on that page (the page the above link takes you to) all go directly to those sites’ book promotion submission pages. It saves a lot of time, and you can go through the whole list in an hour or two. 
It might only get you another 30 downloads, but hey, if those generate even one new review, that makes it worth it, right?
To learn more about MY books (Woo!) visit www.lukesmitherd.com where you can buy them for Kindle.


Just a quickie; The Stone Man has three free listing days that need using up by June, so I’m using ’em. I’ll be honest, since Amazon took down the tags on KDP listings, the free days (for me at least) aren’t the nuclear promotional option that they once were. Either way, if you fancy sharing the link, that’d be great. It’s quite a long book, and it’s FREE; whatcha got to lose?

The Stone Man-USA Amazon Link

The Stone Man-UK Amazon Link


Anyone who has a MAJOR problem with procrastination, such as myself, knows how tough it is when it comes to just sitting down and contiuing to write your book, or to start that day’s chunk of writing; you feel like you’re not aware enough of the rest of the story (if it’s a project that’s already in progress) it feels cold and alien, and the zone you were happily beavering away in the last time you were adding to your novel seems a million miles away. The main problem, of course, is that you’re not only trying to start writing out of nowhere (the literary equivalent of going 0-60) but you’re trying to do that whilst adding to a huge chunk of text that already exists. And if you’re starting your book or essay full stop, trying to find a way to begin, you can feel like your opening words won’t be good enough because you’re coming to it cold. It’s not always like this, of course, but there’s a lot of days where it is. On days like that, the way to solve the problem is to have a quick warm-up; it won’t solve the adding-onto-existing-text problem, but it certainly makes it feel a damn sight easier when your writing brain is prepped an ready. 
So how do you do it? For me, one of the bonuses I’ve found about writing this blog is that it works as an excellent warm up on days when I’m sat in front of the laptop and pissing around on Facebook instead of getting down to the job in hand. It gets the juices flowing before diving back into my latest undertaking, helping me get it nice and ready to sit unnoticed at the bottom of the Kindle store listings…(feeling rather bitter about failed free listings today.) So getting a blog going is one idea, even if it’s just a blog for random thoughts. Blogging is fun, and you never know who might be reading (the police, for one, so keep those thoughts clean.)
But here’s an excellent, excellent writing warm up for you; the wonderful onetwofiver.com , a small and simple website with a built in tool that works on a simple concept. To use their words:

“One Two Fiver is a series of stretches for warming up your writing muscles.
Start with a single word.
Type it like you mean it.
Now write two words.
Move on to five…
Keep typing until you are writing.”
It’s like’s an extended version of that old game where you take it in turns to say the next word in a sentence…except each time you keep saying more words. It sounds daft, but it is indescribably useful on those days where you just can’t seem to get started (on anything, not just writing fiction; it works equally well for bringing yourself to getting round to sending a lengthy complaint email to WWE for giving you horrendous seats for Wrestlemania without telling you that the view would be highly restricted….for example.) I highly recommend giving onetwofiver a go anytime you just can’t seem to get your A into G.
Whilst I’m here, I thought you might find it fun to see a sample of what I produced one of the times that I used it; admittedly I started with ‘Once’ because I knew I was going with ‘Once upon a time’, but once I got to ‘…there was a’ I added ‘Pig’ and away I went. Not really the way it’s supposed to be used, I know, and normally I start with just a random word and go from there, but this is the only one that I still have a copy of. I remembered that I’d copied all of the text and kept it for some reason (I liked it as a beginning and thought I might go somewhere with it eventually, just as a short story.) And if you’re REALLY bored, why not try and finish off the story and post your results below? I’d love to see them.
Your messages are always so kind.

Here’s what I came up with as a writing warm-up:

Once upon a time there was a pig called Steve, unremarkable in appearance and manner, but reknowned amongst the other animals on the farm for being an all round likeable chap. Whenever, say, one of the lambs were worried about their first shearing, or one of the horses were concerned about the appearance of their coat, or the cockerel was feeling inadequate in his role as leader of poultry, all would come to Steve for a kind word, sage advice, or just to have a friendly pig’s ear to talk into.

And so it was in this manner that the farmhouse cat came to Steve one day, leaping up onto the wall of the pigsty and nervously clearing his throat. Unfortunately, this also caused the start of a hairball retch, but once he’d cleared it he regained his composure. The cat rarely deigned to put in an appearance with the farmyard animals; they thought him aloof, he secretly thought them uncultured, but there was no genuine malice between them. Even so, his appearance at the pigsty was a mild surprise, and all the pigs-including Steve-turned to look at him. Trying to look and sound casual, the cat spoke.

“Yes,” said the cat, feigning a casual air, “I…I’d like to talk to Steve please, if he has a minute?” The pigs all turned to look at Steve, who blushed slightly. It looked unusual on a pig.
“Um…of course,” replied Steve, finding himself feeling strangely nervous, “What’s the matter?” The cat didn’t respond at first, and instead just looked around, scratching at his neck in a manner that was supposed to look relaxed but actually just made him look even more furtive.
“Any chance,” said the cat finally, inspecting some unseen object in the middle distance and still not addressing Steve directly, “We could talk a little more privately, Steven?” Steve bristled slightly at this (easy for a pig) as he didn’t like being called Steven. It reminded him of his mother, long since taken away to what the animals called ‘The Happy Pasture.’
“Nope,” replied Steve, bolder now, “I think we’ll talk right here, actually.”

That’s where I stopped. See what you can do, if you can be arsed.

To learn more about MY books (Woo!) visit www.lukesmitherd.com where you can buy them for Kindle.


Just a quick one here; The Black Room, Part Two: The Woman In The Night is out NOW; and Part One is free until the end of May 5th! Perfect for the Bank Holiday Weekend, if you associate out-of-body experiences with your Bank Holiday weekend. Depends how much you drink, I suppose.
Here’s the link for the Amazon US link for it too. Just don’t forget to leave a goddamn review, eh?

To learn more about MY books (Woo!) visit www.lukesmitherd.com where you can buy them for Kindle.