Hi all. Finally beginning to explore publishing RockHeart and thought I’d share my first appraisal…

Dear  Alan

I have now had the opportunity of reading and evaluating your book and will detail my thoughts and publishing proposals.

The very first impression I gained from RockHeart is that it is a very good written and highly competently constructed book. It is most certainly necessary to have such qualities since it presents itself in what are the popular Kindle categories of memoir. It is also worth knowing that, when listing a book on Kindle, one is allowed to place it in two categories. That this book can legitimately appear in at least two sub-categories of memoir doubles its potential appeal and readership.

The style is affable and loquacious, and your cinematic narrative technique hooks the reader instantly. Writing any kind of memoir is notoriously challenging, especially if your intention is to attract a general audience, but you have made this look effortless. This fact alone places the book head and shoulders above others of the same type.

The opening section of any book must do several things and the opening of your book (and by this I mean the first ten percent or so) fulfils all of the requirements perfectly. It really is superb. The ‘Welcome’ is an excellent way to begin your book and will pique the interest of all who read this introduction. Anyone with a military background, or who is familiar with Gibraltar, or has a general penchant for reading other people’s life stories, will find so much to entertain them amongst the pages of RockHeart. When reading your book I intended reaching only as far as the first sixty pages or so in order to get a ‘feel’ for the book but found myself so absorbed with the sincere and honest narrative that I continued reading far beyond that.

In commercial terms the point about having an opening which is both impacting and yet promises more to come, with particular reference to Kindle books, is that some time ago Amazon introduced a ‘Look Inside’ facility in their Kindle books whereby prospective buyers can read the first 10% of a book before deciding whether or not to buy. This is to the huge advantage of RockHeart in that this is such a superbly portrayed, constructed and written opening section that it would have buyers clicking the ‘Buy Now with One Click’ button immediately. As a lesson on how to begin a memoir it is exemplary.

But the book as a whole has a great deal to recommend it, not least your natural storytelling skills, your gregarious nature and zest for life, all of which are evident from start to finish. In addition to the abundance of rich anecdotes and recollections (both happy and sad) your photographs and illustrations give the book extra appeal. Woven amongst your personal stories is a powerful social commentary too – from the attitudes of 1970’s society and the ‘compassion’ of the Royal Navy during that era, to insights into family life, pregnancy and, of course, life in Gibraltar – and this gives your memoir great kudos.

Interestingly, for a book of this kind the range of content is handled most proficiently. You share memories from your early years in the Royal Navy before you met Carol, snippets of your difficult childhood and your relationship with your foster parents, and how your cousin sparked your lifelong interest in Gibraltar when you were only nine years old. The reader then gets a snapshot of the various milestones in your life for the next 40 years, and as well as your love for Gibraltar, the Alameda gardens, and the apes, your love for your family is almost palpable from the outset. From your bohemian days, rubbing shoulders with celebrities, and your special friendships (and the parties), to your iconic cassette tapes, the cockroaches, your stomach ulcer and struggles with alcohol, you have offered a well-balanced piece of work here that will remain in your readers’ minds for a long time. Each story deserves its rightful place in this book and I assume you will have had many more that could have been included too.

There is a danger, of course, in an author having such personal knowledge of the subject matter that he becomes too absorbed in the introspective details, allowing the narrative to suffer. So it is to your great credit that the balance between narrative and execution is well-nigh perfect.

To look now at certain specifics, the content of this work is very good indeed and you have done well to fashion a personal book which will appeal to a broad-ranging audience. Your finely detailed descriptions of the sights and sounds of Gibraltar, compared with NE England, and the UK generally, paint a vivid picture, and it is clear to see how you became so captivated by its beauty within your first 24 hours of being there. In all autobiographical works the content has to be emotive and entertaining, and this is unquestionably the case with your book. You have encapsulated so many ups and downs of your life and shared your experiences with emotion, relish and plenty of humour. The whole creation process must have been most cathartic for you. As a result you have created an emotional and lasting memory for your daughters to keep and pass on to their children. And while this is all practical in its own right, your book is also given something ‘extra’ because of your writing talent and your charismatic personality.

In summary, therefore, this is as good a book of its type as I have read for some time and far better than the majority of hopefuls one encounters. It will be particularly strong in the Kindle marketplace simply because it is difficult to find fault with it. It seems to possess everything required to be successful and one cannot praise more highly than that.

For all these reasons I feel that now is the opportune time to publish your book and that Kindle is the most suitable platform that could be used in order to attract the kind of audience who will find your book appealing.  Thus, I would be more than happy to publish this book on Kindle for you. For a book to be truly accepted by the Kindle readership it needs to be professionally and expertly published.