Why do mince pies no longer look like coffins?
How do you navigate yesteryear’s family games without a fire extinguisher?
Why did Father Christmas trade in his wagon for a sleigh when he first came to town?
Why should you complain if you don’t receive at least one gold ball from the Big Man?
And how do the best Christmas songs jingle our bells?

All these questions that I wanted to answer about Christmas, packaged up in a glossy cover for my new book, Making our Christmas Present: A Merry Journey.

The answers and a lot more will be revealed from 4 November 2021.

This will be a FREE download, which I hope you will enjoy, and I would ask you please please please to take a few moments to post a review. It’s the lifeblood of authors like me, and I would appreciate it very much.

But enough of that!

I wanted to give you here a quick insight into my author thought processes around the book.

I wanted a snappy, Christmassy cover with instant appeal. I don’t know whether I managed that but this is how I got to where I am now.

The book looks at centuries of Christmas, and where the traditional bits came from that individually and together serve up most people’s vision of Christmas. It’s not a history epic or a social commentary or a heavyweight study. The heaviest it gets is fretting over Santa’s belt size…

So I needed light.

I started by thinking about Christmas. There is of course more than one major defining point:

But I fastened onto Santa and how he became the figure we know today – instantly recognisable for the cover, at least today’s version.

I thought about him using an evolutionary cover, something like this, with overlapping pictures merged together:

St Nicholas
Holly King
Santa 2021

Too complicated.

Too serious.

So, Plan B was initiated. A Christmas Kiss – otherwise known as A Christmas Keep It Simple, Stupid

Christmas trees. We all think of brightly-lit and decorated trees at Christmas time…

So why not go for a more sophisticated dark background, and a blurry tree.

Thanks to Kelly Sikkema, Unsplash for the pic

Much better. I like this but it’s a bit tooo sophisticated for a book that’s supposed to be merry while Santa is “Checking it Twice”. That had been the original title. This pic was too serious, looking like it was dressed up for cocktails…

Third time lucky, then.

I went for Christmas trees again, but not just any old Christmas trees. Toy ones, with the addition of a Santa hat on one of them.

I think (hope) that hits the more amusing, whimsical vibe that I’m after, which fits in with my writing style.

And here it is, in all its glory with the new title, the one that will be published on 4 November: on Amazon Books:

Ta – dAAAA!

More playful, less creaking with history, not so blingy…

I hope you’ve found this insight into this part of my creative process interesting

More to come on other stuff soon, and you’ll get it first on my blog…



Alan Camrose

Thanks to Mitya Ivanov, Unsplash

Down the Kindle Hole

Welcome to my Blog

You are very welcome to my Random Place, and thanks for stopping by.

This time, unravelling one of the mysteries of the Amazon self-publishing algorithm…

I am embarking on publishing my third book and it has made me re-evaluate some of the processes and activities involved.

Selling books on Amazon is a conundrum. On the face of it, practically, it seems so easy.

And yet…

Once you’re happy with the text of your new book and worked through the mysteries of trim size and blurb composition, there’s the sacred task of trying to ensure that your epic can actually be seen by people. Yes, I’m talking about the Dreaded Amazon Algorithm. Not right now the dark arts of “independent” reviews and how they affect sales. More about where you pigeon-hole your work in the labyrinth of department categories and sub-categories to be sniffed out by eager and thirsty readers.

Yes, those links that can put the catastrophe into categories.

On the face of it there are two categories for a book to fall into, chosen from a limited list of single words. My first novel was a mix of fantasy, humour, crime, and adventure, so was impossible to pin down in two categories for a “better consumer experience”.

I’m all for a better consumer experience, it’s what we harried authors strive for. Short-cuts don’t cut it.

Then I discovered that Amazon has a rabbit up its sleeve. A big rabbit.

Extra categories and sub-categories.

If you ask them nicely.

I asked them nicely and they confirmed that an author can place a book in a total of up to ten categories and sub-categories combined. That means that you can be a bit more granular about who might be interested in seeing your work and more likely to see it in the blizzard of zillions of offerings in the massive bucket catch-all categories. Why that is not publicised at the start and baked into the initial set-up process is beyond me, but if you’re not aware of it at the moment, then it’s worth spending time delving into the area while you get ready to publish.

Am I shooting myself in the rabbit’s foot by divulging what is to be fair a not-secret, just not universally known?

Absolutely not. What helps you helps me, as far as I can see…Greater precision gives greater confidence to all authors and readers alike.

More granular means less cross consumers who don’t want to dive into the giant Fantasy Bucket when they are after a Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > LITERATURE & FICTION > HUMOUR & SATIRE >

Check it out for your next project. In all honesty, I’m not sure what difference it really makes, but for your British Humour and Satire book, it’s better it’s visible there among the smaller thimble of titles than the giant LITERATURE & FICTION swimming pool, right?

For an e-book (the principle is similar for paperbacks):

  • At, there’s a Search bar.
  • Click on that.
  • Change “All” to show the “Kindle Store” Department.
  • Click on the changed Search icon.
  • Click on “Kindle eBooks” under “Kindle Store.” That is on the left side of the webpage.
  • Now you should be able to see a list of categories under “Kindle eBooks”
  • Click on a category. It will reveal the subcategories. Figure out where your book sits and follow the categories path down the rabbit hole until you can’t choose any more sub-categories on that path – the BRITISH in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > LITERATURE & FICTION > HUMOUR & SATIRE > BRITISH If your book’s set in Minnesota and isn’t funny, now’s the time to go back up the chain…
  • Make sure you pick up ten paths. (Amazon counts the two you choose in your initial set-up.)
  • The format is important when you ask Amazon to update your paths. It took me a few emails of jolly back and forth to alight upon an agreed place for that better consumer experience…
    • Use the following format: “Kindle Store > Kindle > eBooks > CATEGORY > SUBCATEGORY.”
  • Slightly bizarrely, but presumably due to any spelling or cultural differences, the categories need to be set for each individual jurisdiction where you are selling on the Kindle Marketplace or market for paperbacks.
  • Be patient, Amazon allows itself up to 72 hours to reflect your choices, but experience shows that they are thankfully much quicker.

Hope that’s helpful.

Happy categorising!



Alan Camrose