Sunday, December 29, 2013

Taking Stock of 2013

Like many writers, I inevitably look back on the year to review the highs and lows of my writing life. I’m happy to say that there were plenty of highs this year. I hand sold nearly 200 books at craft fairs alone, published my third Casey Holland mystery, Beneath the Bleak New Moon, and signed a contract for the fourth, which will be out next September. I wrote over 100 blogs, and nearly 50 book reviews. I also built my own website, for the first time, and now completely control the changes and updates.

So, what does all of this mean? It tells me that my career’s moving in the right direction, one step at a time. I still have a long way to go to achieve my goals, and I don’t sell anywhere near the number of e-books that some writers do, but I plan to focus on that this year.

Meanwhile, Digital BookWorld has compiled a list of the bestselling e-books for 2013. It’s interesting to note that they start their article by saying that prices rose and plummeted from week to week with e-books. I’ve seen this as well, which is why it’s so hard to determine an e-book price. Some days, I think my books are priced too high at $7.99 (my publisher's decision, not mine), other days it seems about right compared to others. The article says that a couple of the bestsellers were $.99 novels in the romance and young adult fiction category, yet the average price of other bestsellers was $7.74.

Out of the 21 titles listed in the article, eight of them came from Penguin and three were self-published. Not surprisingly, plenty of big-name authors made the bestsellers list, including Dan Brown, Nicholas Sparks, David Baldacci, Stephen King, and Stephanie Meyer. In fact, a quick glance at the list shows that many of the top selling authors were also top selling authors in print before the e-book revolution exploded. Collectively, indie authors are publishing hundreds of thousands of books, but it seems clear that name recognition, branding, and a solid fan base are still invaluable tools to reaching bestseller status. I’d be foolish not to work on building these aspects as well.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Why the Fascination With Creative Peaks?

A recent article in Pacific Standard stated that researchers have long been fascinated with determining when a highly accomplished creative person reaches his or her peak. The article briefly mentioned the creativity of scientists, painters, and composers, referring to two studies. One 2011 study noted that the majority of modern-day physicists make their most innovative discoveries around age 48. Another study found that plenty of artists from the 19th and 20th centuries painted their most significant works when they had lived nearly 62% of their lives, which happened to be as they approached age 42.

But, here’s the thing: there are always exceptions. What happens if you’re a person like Harper Lee who wrote only one novel (I don’t know how old she was when she did), yet its significance is quite obvious. Once more, when it comes to art and books, who has the final word on which piece was the most important?

Experts tell me that one should write at least a million words before publishing a book because it takes years to learn the craft and find one’s voice. Readers complain that someone’s series isn’t as good as it used to be and that the writer should have packed it in six books earlier. Maybe all these points are valid, but maybe there are plenty of artists, composers, scientists, and writers who are steadily getting better at their professions decade after decade. I’m sure many won’t peak until much later in life, or sadly run out of time before they produce their best work.

Artists will work at their craft until they no longer wish to, or no longer can. At the end of the day, whether they peaked early, or as predicted, or much later in life doesn’t really matter to me. And what does one do with the information anyway? Will aspiring artists feel pressured to get to work before they're ready?

While it’s interesting to read articles like this, it’s probably not a good idea to take it to heart, especially if you’re just starting your creative life after long years at a day job. However, if you want to read the studies, you can find links in the article at

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Are Indie Promotion Strategies Failing?

Anyone who follows Kindleboards knows that this enormous site has become a virtual watering hole for all types of writers, particularly self-published authors. Over the past year, I’ve noticed growing discontent with sales numbers compared to the previous couple of years. It seems that giveaways and low prices aren’t helping sales as much as they used to.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the binge publishing syndrome that’s backfired on some indie authors. It’s the philosophy that publishing three or four a year will improve your odds of getting noticed and therefore improve your sales. I also reported a couple of writers’ personal experiences where this has not been the case. One of the primary reasons is that readers are understandably skeptical about the quality of books that are written and published in three months. But this isn't only reason for lagging sales.

In her blog, author Toby Neal says that traditional publishers have jumped on the deep discount bandwagon with the works of big-name authors, and that readers are right there with them. In fact, Neal clearly admits that she too purchases deeply discounted books and who can blame her for wanting to read Michael Connelly, Patricia Cornwall, and Louise Penny for less than $3 or less? The downside, Neal notes, is that her sales have been cut in half since September, despite increased promotion efforts and great reviews. And this is what I’m reading on Kindleboards as well.

There might be other reasons for lagging sales. If you’re an indie author who’s looked for promotion venues, or an avid e-book reader, you’ve likely heard of BookBub. They claim to have two million subscribers who get the scoop on all sorts of time-limited free or discounted e-books. I’ve never used the site, but I’ve just signed up as a reader. Authors have complained about BookBub's strict criteria for listing books. Compounding the problem is that BookBub charges authors a lot of money (now apparently up to $500) to participate. Authors are finding BookBub less profitable and definitely less affordable.

But here’s another thought. I also read an interesting blog, more than one actually, addressing the relevance of doing the same type of marketing and promoting year after year; a similar trap that traditional publishers have been experiencing for ages. Indie authors see what others are doing successfully and the next thing you know tens of thousands have jumped on that bandwagon, making the strategy less successful. Giveaways and 99 cent books are two examples.

Promotion and marketing strategies need to change frequently. Authors need to think outside the box and come up with their own ideas, and not rely on others for their entire marketing program. Neal also offers good suggestions for improving sales on her blog. One thing is clear. Bookselling is more competitive than ever, and each of us will have to find new, creative ways to stay in the game.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Are You In It For The Money, Or Something Else?

Every now and then, I like to take a look at the state of self-publishing. After all, it’s gone through as much of a revolution as the e-book industry has, and why not? The two go hand in hand. A USA Today article reported that the number of self-published titles released in 2012 was 391,000, a whopping 60% rise from the previous year due, in part, to Amazon’s Kindle Direct Program. Smashwords’ numbers are also high: 250,000 titles from about 60,000 authors. Author Solutions (purchased by Penguin) has 200,000 titles from 170,000 authors. The thing is, how many of those authors are actually making money?

According to a marketing VP at Author Solutions, authors spend between $1,000 and $2,000 to publish their books and most aren’t making their money back. I don’t know how much Author Solutions charges for their services, but I do know that to produce a professional product, you’ll likely need to hire either a typesetter, jacket designer, or editor. Based on my own informal research, $1,000 to $1,500 for a jacket designer and good editor isn’t out of line.

But the article raises an interesting point. Not everyone who writes a book publishes it to make money. In fact, a study by Digital Book World revealed that making money was only forth on the list of a writers’ priority. I think there’s some truth to this. I know plenty of writers, myself included, who’ve been writing and publishing for a couple of decades or more, but still aren’t making a living. For the first twenty years of my career, money wasn’t even on the radar. Learning to finish and edit novels was, along with the long journey to find a publisher. I kept going because transforming a single idea into to a fully formed novel was tremendously satisfying.

As Digital Book World’s study showed, I wasn’t alone. The two top reasons respondents gave for writing and publishing were to build a writing career and to fulfill a lifelong ambition. Maybe this is why so many people I know don’t put the time and energy into selling their books as they did to writing and editing them. I think most of us want something to be remembered by. Publishing a book provides immortality, at least it does in Canada, as every book ever published winds up in Canada’s National Library to be saved forever. So, I have immortality. But wouldn’t it now be nice to make some money?

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Will Your Book Be Pulled From Amazon?

Anyone who’s published e-books through Amazon knows that they like to change things now and then. Sometimes the changes make sense, other times… This week, I came across a blog by Penny from Author Marketing Experts, Inc. (I’m not familiar with this company) who reported that Amazon is pulling books because they don’t like the content of keywords and/or book descriptions.

It seems that Amazon used to encourage authors to use the names of other titles and authors in keywords and descriptions. Recently, someone decided that this practice is no longer acceptable. For this reason, one of Penny’s authors had her book removed from the virtual shelf without notification.

Incidentally, in a follow-up blog, Penny clarifies that keywords are not the same as tags. Tags are no longer used. Keywords are words associated with your book page; the back end page where you upload your e-book and add the book cover.

In the follow-up blog (you can find the link in the original blog), Penny reports that she’s been able to have the book reinstated. Penny also personally wrote to Jeff Bezos, after not having much luck with Author Central, and received a response on from a customer relations executive acting on Mr. Bezos’ behalf. It seems they weren’t aware of this practice and we looking into the matter.

So, whether more books will be pulled for this reason remains to be seen. Meanwhile, it might be a good idea to do your own investigating and to take a second look at your book’s description.

Monday, November 25, 2013

When Good Things Happen

Anyone who’s been writing a while knows that the writing life isn’t easy. It often feels that there are more setbacks than milestones. It’s part of the biz. We slowly type those words on a blank screen or scribble words on a lined notepad, only to find within seconds, minutes, or days that what we’ve written isn’t nearly good enough, so we revise and revise. And then we take it—if we’re lucky—to a trusted group of readers to learn that the piece needs more work.

It’s the same with submitting a story. Once that new work is ready to submit to a willing editor, agent, or publisher, we often find the same type of setbacks and frustrations or worse, total indifference to the work. Again, it’s part of the writer’s life. It’s also the part that sends many folks packing onto new ventures, deciding they don’t need the aggravation, and who can blame them?

But every once in a while good things happen. Then it’s time to celebrate and reflect on how far you’ve come and, above all, to pay it forward. I’ve just experienced such a month, beginning with the news that my publisher, TouchWood Editions offered me a contract for the fourth Casey Holland novel, The Deep End, which will be published in September 2014. I’ve also just completed four weekends of selling books at Christmas craft fairs and, to my surprise, I broke my own record. I’m grateful for the many book buyers who bought copies because they believe in supporting local authors.

Lastly, I received word that my essay, “The Wheels on the Bus” that discusses the Casey Holland series has appeared in Mystery Readers Journal, Murder in Transit issue. I’ve never made it into a national magazine for mystery readers before and again I’m grateful.

When things like this happen, it’s all the more important to do what I can to help other writers. So, this weekend, I bought another writer’s book, I told yet another writer about Access Copyright, which he’d never heard of, and I honoured someone’s request to like their page. This is only the beginning. In my experience, writers represent a close community and we’re stronger when we help each other.

After all this, I've reconnected with the inspiration and the drive to keep working hard Most of all, I learned how the importance of gratitude and to keep paying it forward.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Writing A Novel, 250 Words At A Time

I'm doing NaNoWriMo this year. I did it in years past, "failed" it a couple of years, and didn't try at all last year. This year, I had the silly notion to use it to write something I've never done before: a Romance novel.

According to my impeccable reasoning, if I'm attempting something I have absolutely no practice in and no proven competence in, I have a license to fail. It's not only allowed to be of poor quality because it's NaNo, it nearly guaranteed to be of poor quality. How's that for taking off the pressure? It's like being dipped in Invulnerabilium or something.

So I'm having fun this year. And I'm keeping up with my word count.

Sometimes, it's hard. But you know what I do? Yes, the title of this post totally telegraphs the message: I tell myself I need to write 250 words. That's all, just 250 words. Sometimes that seems like a lot. Sometimes I do it one. word. at. a. time. But I seldom write just 250 words. Because the time comes when I count my words, and I have 276. If I have 276, I might as well try for 500. If I have 500, I might as well go for 1000. By that time, I'm nearly always on a roll, and I can exceed, hit, or come close to my word count.

I can't guarantee what I'll have when NaNo is over. It'll probably be an unusable mess.

But you know what? I don't really believe that. This is just too much fun to be a total loss.

Marian Allen
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Plenty of Bookstore Closures in the UK

A few days ago, the Guardian reported a 42% increase in the number of bookstores that closed in the UK last year. That is a whopping 98 stores, some of which had been around for decades.

Naturally, there is more than one reason for all these closures. The article says that part of it is due to deep discounts and the digital book market. But the secondhand book market, particularly in the world of academic textbooks, has soared, and Amazon’s secondhand marketplace definitely hasn’t helped. This is one of the few articles I’ve read that also lists digital piracy as part of the problem. Additionally, the end of the Net Book Agreement (NBA) in 1997 was a game changer.

Originating in 1899, the NBA agreement essentially allowed publishers to set the retail price themselves. Each publisher agreed not to do business with anyone who tried to discount books. The retailers thought this was fine because it wouldn’t hurt their bottom line either. But then things began to change.

Some people believed that the NBA was a restrictive practice, so the issue was re-examined in 1982. The agreement was upheld because it allowed publishers to subsidize the work of “potentially important” authors. You can read more about how the agreement unravelled in the 1990’s through the link provided in the Guardian’s article.

It saddens me to see so many bookstores go. I was raised with bookstores, but the chains look far different from the stores I remember, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Although I’ve embraced the digital age, by both buying and selling e-books, I was hoping that more booksellers would find ways to adapt. Maybe it was simply wishful thinking. Clearly, the UK is in a state of flux and some people clearly blame Amazon’s arrival. But maybe it all comes down to re-evaluating what customers want, and trying to accommodate them a little better. I do know that the model of “we’ve always done things this way so why should it change?” just doesn’t cut it anymore.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Welcome to the November Crush

If you have been writing for a while, you’ve probably noticed that November is one of the busiest—if not the busiest—months of the year for writers. Not only are writers’ groups in full swing, but there are plenty of readings, book signings, conferences, and festivals to attend. November 1st also marks the beginning of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), which was created to encourage writers to write a novel in one month. I have a number of colleagues who’ve taken part, with varying degrees of success, and honestly, I admire them. I haven’t had the courage to try, yet.

For those of us actively engaged in selling books, November is also our busiest month of the year. Christmas craft fair season is upon us and I’ve taken part in two events so far in November. I have two more go, and this is a slower month for me. Last year, I took part in ten events over a six week period. Fun, but tiring!

So, if you’re starting to feel a little fatigued, how about pulling back a bit and sitting down to read? If you want to challenge yourself, why not tackle one of the fifty difficult books listed by Emily Temple? She describes these books as really long, or difficult, or with intense or upsetting subject matter. In some cases, there is also brilliantly written pose that requires effort and serious mind expansion. Intriguing, and a little scary, isn’t it?

Some of the titles you’ll be familiar with, such as Finnegan’s Wake and The Sound and the Fury, but others will be new. Temple provides a description with each title, so sit back and enjoy her list, then try one, if you dare!

Meanwhile, on my website’s News and Events page, I have a list of upcoming craft fairs, and big news about a new publishing contact, which you can find at

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Too Much Too Fast is Bad News

I came across two thought-provoking blogs this week that had me wanting to shout “Yes!” One by Robert Bidinotto and the other by Libby Fischer Hellman both discuss why publishing a huge number of books over a short period of time is a bad marketing strategy for authors.

Let’s back up a bit here. On a forum I belong to, I’ve noticed that whenever an indie author bemoans dwindling sales, the response from others is to write more books, or write in a new “hot” genre. There are indie authors who truly believe that publishing three or four books a year is vital to success. The reasoning might sound good in theory...increased volume means increased visibility which means increased sales, but it’s not happening for a growing number of authors.

As Binindotto points out, authors are actually seeing reduced sales, referring to indie author Mike Dennis, as one example. Dennis provided the grim stats on a forum, which you can find on Binindotto’s blog. Bidinotto is quite right when he says that successful selling isn’t dependent on volume but on writing a distinctive book. Note that he doesn’t say a literary masterpiece, but rather one that has a unique plotting and/or characters. I absolutely agree.

He also refers to Libby Fischer Hellman’s blog, where she states flat out that what she calls “binge publishing” has to stop. The market is over-saturated and only about 10% of available reading material is actually read. I’m guessing that a lot of that is free downloads. Another important point she’s made is that so much writing and publishing is leading to exhaustion and anxiety for authors. It’s too much too fast. What happened to letting ideas simmer over time? What happened to carefully developing the best plot possible, and don’t get me started on the number of authors who refuse to spend a penny on experienced editors who understand the craft. As Hellman says, it’s nuts out there and the market is not sustainable. I think this is why so many authors are seeing decreasing sales despite the growing number of books on their CVs.

As someone who couldn’t possibly write two novels a year, it feels good to know that I can relax a bit. For a while, I was putting too pressure on myself to produce lots of books when I’d much rather take my time to write something unique and memorable. I encourage you to read both blogs. They're terrific.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

In Publishing, Things Rarely Go As Planned

If you’ve been in the writing/publishing game as long as I have, you’ll know that there has been more change and upheaval than you can probably count. So, when I read two interesting articles about Amazon’s apparent failure to make a splash in the publishing world, I can’t say I was surprised.

Articles in and, state that the publishing venture Amazon announced in May 2011 hasn’t been as successful as they’d hoped. The plan was to provide competition to what was then the Big 6 publishers (now 5), however, but this hasn’t happened. In fact, Larry Kirshbaum, the man hired to make it happen, recently announced that he’ll be leaving Amazon in early 2014. Neither article faults Kirshbaum for Amazon’s failure to make the big splash they’d planned. As former head of the Time-Warner Group and later a literary agent, Kirshbaum certainly knows the American publishing scene but, as so often happens in publishing, unforeseen problems cropped up.

Both articles state that, in part, Barnes & Noble’s (and other indie stores) ban of any Amazon-published books has definitely hurt their bid to make a dent in the New York scene. Furthermore, a Department of Justice ruling earlier this year on e-book pricing, which worked in Amazon’s favor, further angered bookstores, publishers, and some authors. Consequently, Amazon apparently hasn’t been able to entice many big-name, bestselling authors to join them.

Interestingly, of the tens of thousands of authors selling their books through Amazon (both self and traditionally published), the publishing component of the company has yet to create a runaway bestseller. According to the piece, this is odd, given the amount of data Amazon has collected about genre, sales, readers’ tastes, etc.

This isn’t to say that Amazon won’t find a few stars down the road. Kirshbaum was able to sign several celebrities, including Penny Marshall, but apparently her book hasn't sold as well as they'd anticipated. Welcome to the world of publishing Amazon, where there’s plenty of hits and misses, and things rarely go as planned.

You can find the articles at:

Thursday, October 24, 2013

10 Mistakes Authors Make That Can Cost Them a Fortune (and how to avoid them)

Book marketing expert, Penny Sansevieri, shares 10 tips for success:

When it comes to books, promotion, and book production I know that it can sometimes feel like a minefield of choices. And while I can’t address each of these in detail, there are a number of areas that are keenly tied to a book’s success (or lack thereof). Here are ten for you to consider:

1) Not Understanding the Importance of a Book Cover

I always find it interesting that authors will sometimes spend years writing their books and then leave the cover design to someone who either isn't a designer, or doesn't have a working knowledge of book design or the publishing industry. Or,
worse, they create a design without having done the proper market research.

Consider these facts for a minute: shoppers in a bookstore spend an average of 8 seconds looking at the front cover of a book and 15 seconds looking at the back before deciding whether to buy it. Further, a survey of booksellers showed that 75% of them found the book cover to be the most important element of the book. Also, sales teams at book distribution often only take the book cover with them when they shop titles into stores. And finally, please don’t attempt to design your own book cover. Much like cutting your own hair this is never a good idea.

2) Sometimes You Get What You Pay For

There’s an old saying that goes: You can find a cheap lawyer and a good lawyer, but you can’t find a good lawyer who is cheap. Though this is a very different market, it’s kind of the same thing.

Yes, there are deals out there and that’s not to say that you have to pay a good publicity person tens of thousands of dollars, but if you find someone who’s willing to market you for $200 or something like that, I’d be asking questions about what you get for your money because while $200 dollars isn't much, it’s $200 here and $99 there and eventually, it all adds up. So if a deal seems too good to be true, make sure that you’re getting all the facts. Just because they aren't charging you a lot doesn't mean they shouldn't put it in writing. And by in writing I mean you should get a detailed list of deliverables. Finding a deal isn't a bad thing, but if you’re not careful it might just be a waste of money so ask good questions before you buy.

3) Listening to People Who Aren't Experts

When you ask someone’s opinion about your book, direction, or topic, make sure they are either working in your industry or know your consumer. If, for example, you have written a young adult (YA) book, don’t give it to your co-workers to read and get feedback (yes, I know some YA books have adult market crossover appeal but this is different). If you've written a book for teens, then give it to teens to read. Same is true for self-help, diet, romance. Align yourself with your market. You want the book to be right for the reader, in the end that’s all that matters.

4) Hope is not a Marketing Plan

I love hope. Hope is a wonderful thing, but one thing it isn't is a marketing plan. Hoping that something will happen is one thing, but leaving your marketing to “fate” is quite another. Even though you wrote the book, even though you toiled hours making it perfect and even though you feel that you have enough people you know who will buy it and/or recommend it to friends, you still have to market it.

More often than not authors tell me that they can’t seem to get family or friends to buy their book. I know that sounds odd but it’s true and even if they do, that’s what? One hundred copies at the most? While family and friends do want to help, you shouldn't bank on them for success. So when it comes time to get your book out there, you need to have a solid plan in place or at the very least a set of actions you feel comfortable working on. Waiting on a miracle, a sale, or a sign from above will cost you a lot in terms of book aging. Once your book is past a certain “age” it gets harder and harder to get it reviewed so don’t sit idly by and hope for something to happen. Make it happen. A book is not the field of dreams, just because you wrote it doesn't mean readers will beat a path to your door.

5) Work it, or Not

There’s a real fallacy that exists in publishing and it’s this: “instant bestseller.” Anyone who has spent any amount of time in the industry knows there is no such thing as “instant” and certainly the words “overnight success” are generally not reserved for books. There is also the belief that a “miracle” will just happen to you when you publish. Personally I love miracles but they tend to not happen with books, sadly. Book promotion should be viewed as a long runway. Meaning that you should plan for the long term. Don’t spend all your marketing dollars in the first few months of a campaign, make sure you have enough money or personal momentum to keep it going.

Whether or not you hire a firm you must “work it” – meaning working your marketing plan, working your goals, whatever. Publishing is a business. You’d never open up a store and then just sit around hoping people show up to buy your stuff. You advertise, you run specials, you pitch yourself to local media. You work it. But what does “working it” mean? Well, it means that if you have a full-time job you find time each week to push the book in some form or fashion. You find time, you make time. You should be engaged in your own success, even if you hire someone to do this for you, you should still be involved. Sometimes it doesn't take much, but it does take a consistent effort, whatever that is. I have a friend who is losing weight. She’s lost 19 pounds over three months. Maybe that seems like pretty slow weight loss, right? I mean who wants to wait three months for a measly 19 pounds? Still, she’s ahead, she’s doing little things that make a big difference. Time will pass anyway. How will you use it?

6) Not Understanding Timing

While timing in publishing has essentially become obsolete, things like advanced reviews, advanced pitching and early sales into bookstores aren't the be-all-end-all they once were. Still, timing is important. While it’s true that sometimes older books can see a surge of success it’s not the rule. You’ll want to be prepared with your marketing early. In fact, you should have a plan in place months before the book is out. That doesn't mean that you’re sending 200 review copies out, that just means you have your ducks in a row so to speak and you know what your plan will be.

Also, timing can affect things like book events (especially if you’re trying to get into bookstores). Understand when you should pitch your book for review, start to get to know your market and the bloggers you plan to pitch. Create a list and keep close track of who to contact and when you need to get your review pitch out there. Though many things have changed in regards to timing, it doesn't mean you shouldn't plan. I recommend that you sit down with someone who can help you strategize timing so you can plan appropriately for your book launch. A missed date is akin to a missed opportunity.

7) Hiring People Who Aren't in the Book Industry

Let’s face it, even to those of us who have been in this industry for a while it still doesn't always make sense. Hiring someone who has no book or publishing experience isn't just a mistake, it could be a costly error. With some vendors like web designers you can get away with that. But someone who has only designed business cards can’t, for example, design a book cover. Make sure you hire the right specialist for the right project. Also, you've likely spent years putting together this project, make sure you make choices based on what’s right and not what’s cheapest. If you shop right you can often find vendors who are perfect for your project and who fit your budget.

8) Designing Your Own Website

You should never cut your own hair or design your own site. Period. End of story. But ok, let me elaborate. Let’s say you designed your own site which saved you a few thousand dollars paying a web designer. Now you’re off promoting your book and suddenly you’re getting a gazillion hits to your site. The problem is the site is not converting these visitors into a sale. How much money did you lose by punting the web designer and doing it yourself? Hard to know. Scary, isn't it?

9) Becoming a Media Diva

Let’s face it, you need the media more than they need you. I know. Ouch. But it’s the unfortunate truth. So here’s the thing: be grateful. Thank the interviewer, send a follow up thank-you note after the interview. Don’t expect the interviewer to read your book and don’t get upset if they get some facts wrong. Just gently, but professionally, correct them in such a way that they don’t look bad or stupid. Never ask for an interview to be redone. Most media people don’t have the time. I mention this because it actually happened to a producer friend of mine who did an interview with a guy and he decided he didn't like it and wanted a second shot. Not gonna happen. The thing is, until you get a dressing room with specially designed purple M&M’s, don’t even think about becoming a diva. The best thing you can do is create relationships. Show up on time, show up prepared, and always, always, always be grateful.

10)  Take Advantage

In this instance, I mean take advantage in the best possible way. There are a ton of resources out there for you. Seriously. Compared to when I was first in business almost 13 years ago the resources and free promotional tools that are out there now are almost mind-numbing, and the fact that so many authors don’t take advantage of them is even crazier.

Things like social media - I know it’s a time suck but you would be amazed at how many authors rock out their campaign by just being on Facebook, or Wattpad or even Goodreads. When I wrote a Goodreads article a while back I got some interesting feedback from people who said that there was a lot of negativity on there. Well, that may be so but I've never seen it and if I do, I ignore it. Point being, the stuff is out there. Find out for yourself what works and what doesn't. Yes it’s fine to take advice from other authors but you should still experience this for yourself before you decide if it’s right for you or not.

When it comes to marketing, the mistakes can cost you more than anything both in time and money. Knowing what to do to market your book is important, but knowing what to avoid may be equally as significant.
* * *

Reprinted from "The Book Marketing Expert newsletter," a free ezine offering book promotion and publicity tips and techniques.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

A Place Where Writers are Respected

Do you ever feel like the whole word is writing and publishing a book? Given that well over a million books are published worldwide every year, I can understand why. So, I was amused to read a BBC article which states that one in every ten residents of Iceland will publish a book, and this is from a population of 300,000 people!

Apparently, there more writers and more books published and read in Iceland than anywhere else in the world. In fact, reading is so popular there that public benches have barcodes enabling you to listen to a story on your Smartphone while you sit. Not only that, writers can make a living there, which is odd given the competition. But here’s the thing. Writers are also respected. Whattt??? Every household receives a book catalogue which is thoroughly pored over. Books are a huge Christmas gift item and the country abounds with festivals.

Did you also know that Iceland has a Nobel Laureate (1955) named Halldor Laxness and that he’s so highly regarded in Iceland that his books are sold everywhere, including gas stations, and that people name their cats after him? High praise indeed.

Okay, so you might be thinking that well, it’s Iceland; what else have they got to do? Certainly that’s a point, but Iceland also has incredible geography and apparently a lot of talented people who write riveting books. Of course, with all those people writing and selling, there’s competitive pressure, which publishers definitely feel. Still, as a writer and a reader, I’d thrive in such a place.

Interestingly, the article made no reference to the self-publishing revolution, e-books or the competition from digital entertainment, which is a shame. I would like to know if Icelanders have made room for both, or if they’ve simply not embraced technology the way we North Americans have.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Celebrating Alice Munro

There were plenty of topics to write about this week, but as a Canadian writer who’s loved Alice Munro’s work for a long time, I couldn’t bypass the spectacular news that she’s won this year’s Nobel prize for literature. Hooray!! Sharing the sentiment of many Canadian authors quoted in the yahoo article below, it’s been a long time coming.

Her award is a big deal on many levels. Of the 110 Nobel recipients, she is only the 13th woman to receive this distinction, and the first Canadian woman to do so. Canadian-born Saul Bellow won the award years ago, but he only spent the first eight years of his life in Canada. What’s so special about Munro’s win is that she’s been recognized not only for the short story form, but for a body of work that focuses on everyday people in a small Canadian town.

I can’t honestly say that Munro inspired me to write, as I’d already begun my first short story attempts when I discovered her work. But her stories showed me how exquisite the short story form can be. I learned that that drama, conflict and a riveting read doesn’t have to involve crime and big events. In Munro’s world, everyday events are indeed important and created on layers of complexity and consequence.

In a way, it’s ironic that Alice Munro, described as a humble person who’s lived a quiet life, recently decided to retire from writing. It’s also ironic that her real life and her fictional world are a far cry from the attention she’s now receiving. Winning the Nobel simply isn’t the type of thing Alice Munro would write about. But real life has this way of throwing interesting events in our path.

If you haven’t read any of Alice Munro’s stories, please do yourself a favor and pick up one of her books. It’s been quite a while since I’ve done so, but I’ll be doing so real soon. This wonderful author deserves more readers, and readers—especially aspiring writers—need to know just how wonderful short stories can be.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Are Children Reading Enough These Days?

Research firm Nielsen Book recently conducted a survey of 2,000 British children and parents, and found that 50% of households now own a tablet (up 24% from last year), and that children are spending less time reading.

The study also reports that 32% of children read for pleasure on a daily basis and 60% read for pleasure on a weekly basis, which seems not too bad on the surface, however, the study suggests that there are warning signs for the future.

You won’t be surprised to learn that more children are spending time playing games apps and watching YouTube than reading. In fact, reading time was down nearly 8 percentage points from the previous year. The Nielson study suggests that there is a significant increase in the number of non-readers or occasional readers, compared with heavy readers. By the way, The Guardian article defines the different categories of readers. Also alarming is that the children appear to be dropping art, hobbies, and other extracurricular activities for more game time. This is particularly prevalent in the 11-17 age group.

Here’s an interesting comparison. In the 2012, study, Nielson Book asked children if they would like to read e-books. 21% said they already were and 38% stated that they wanted to. In 2013, 33% indicated that they were already reading digitally, while 28% said they would like to. So, maybe it’s not all bad. It appears that, given access to e-books, kids will read them. The article notes that parental influence plays a huge role in ensuring that kids adopt regular reading habits, and suggests that many parents could do more to help engage their children in reading.

One of the other points made is that this would be a great time to use video to talk about books, review books, and even form online book clubs for kids. These venues probably already exist somewhere, but might not be prevalent yet. The good news is that kids don’t seem to think that reading is less cool. It’s just that there’s too many other distractions. I’d say the same is probably true for adults.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Not All Events Are Created Equal

Last year, after the first event of Christmas craft fair season, I was disappointed by the lackluster sales compared with the same event the previous year. I was talking about it with a veteran of this particular fair, who said “Hey, it’s a crapshoot. You just never know how things’ll turn out.” Wise words indeed. Two weeks later, I attended a similar event and sold double what I’d hoped for.

When you’re relying on weather for a turnout, then the stakes are higher. I exhibited at an outdoor event in August. In our part of the world, an August rainfall is unlikely, however, this year was an exception. The farm we were exhibiting at was situated in a valley known for damp, dewy mornings. I should have known I was in for it when all of the other exhibitors—experienced outdoor sellers to be sure—brought tents, or at least a solid canopy. I brought an umbrella and a plastic sheet to cover my books, which turned out to be a good idea because the rain came in spurts on and off all day. I lost count of the number of times we pulled the plastic sheet on and off.

This year’s WORD event (formerly known as Word on the Street)  took place over the weekend culminating in the festival’s main event on Sunday. By all accounts, the weather wasn’t looking cheery. There’d been a storm on Saturday and forecasters warned about another one for Sunday. This prompted the organizers to move everything indoors. For those of us scheduled to display our books outside the Vancouver Public Library’s perimeter, this was a godsend.

Although it was lovely to be in a warm, dry area, some of the tables were smaller and the environment was cramped. Passersby couldn’t find the table they were looking for as the program map was now useless. The walking space between the two rows of tables was narrow and the white noise was a loud, constant din. I’m pretty sure that most people were put off by the weather to begin with, and attendee numbers seemed to be significantly down.

But, hey, these things happen. It wasn’t a stellar selling day, but so what? I had a chance to see writing colleagues I hadn’t seen in months and catch up on their lives, and—because I was a panelist—I received a spiffy new T-shirt for my trouble. Would we have loved more sales? Of course. Was the day a complete bust for me? Absolutely not. Will I go again next year, rain or shine? You bet. Crapshoots are becoming my thing.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

How Do I Write? Let Me Count the Ways

Okay, I admit it: I am a closet pencilphile. Seems silly, I know, in this electronic age, but I write in pencil on loose-leaf paper. There. I’ve outed myself. I feel so much better now.

I am not being contrary. I do have reasons. I have a better mind/writing connection using pencil and paper than I have with a keyboard; a mechanical pencil is easier on my fingers than pen, and paper is easier on my eyes than a computer screen.

(The above photo is the handwritten copy of A Spark of Heavenly Fire.)

For me, fiction writing is largely a matter of thinking, of trying to see the situation, of figuring out the right word or phrase that puts me where I need to be so the words can flow. I can do this better in bed, clipboard propped against my knees or on a pillow than sitting at a desk. If, as Mel Gibson said, “A movie is like public dreaming,” then novels are like shared dreaming, and where better to dream than in a comfortable bed?

I don’t know the entire story before I writing, but I do know the beginning, the end, and some of the middle. That way I can have it both ways: planning the book and making room for surprises.

I need to know a bit about the hero, but most of the time I get to know the characters the same way a reader would — by the way the characters act. In my work-in-progress, I thought I had a mother who was manipulative, but a reader pointed out that if that’s what I wanted, I needed to show it better. I reread the sections with the mother and decided not to impose my will on her. Although she drove her son crazy, I saw her in the rereading as sad, as if she were trying to find a way to fit in the world or make it fit her, and that was much better for purposes of the story.

I need to write the story in the order it happens — it’s more satisfying for my logical mind and easier to keep track of — but if I get to a place where I know something happens without knowing what, I will skip it and go back later when I know what is missing.

So, there you have it. That’s how I write.

What about you? How do you write? Do you have a favorite place or a place that puts you in the proper frame of mind? Do you write from start to finish, or like Margaret Mitchell, do you start with the last chapter and work forward? Do you have to search for the words?


Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, andDaughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.”

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Beneath the Bleak New Moon Released!

My third Casey Holland mystery has finally been released to the public. I waited a long time for this, and there were many obstacles along the way, but tenacity is everything in this business.

The idea for the book came to me one night several years ago while I was working in the fashion department at Zellers. At the end of evening shifts, my job was to straighten the racks and fold sweaters to return to the display tables. Oddly enough, this was one of my favorite tasks. It was relaxing and gave me time to think. Most of what I thought about was which piece of writing I would work on next. Back then, I was still working on my second Alex Bellamy novel, several short stories, and the first two Casey novels…crazy times … slow, but productive.

One night, I was heading home on a dry, chill October night. There’d been updated news coverage about a pedestrian who’d been killed by one of two vehicles in a street race many months earlier. Of course, the tragedy was originally a hit-and-run, but the racers were eventually caught, tried and convicted, and one of them deported. As those events slowly unfolded over the years, more people died.

I can’t tell you how many deaths there’ve been in Vancouver’s Lower Mainland this month alone, as school has reconvened, and the sunny weather has inspired pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists to share the roads with distracted, bleary-eyed drivers.

As a transit officer who rides the buses a lot, Casey would have seen more than her share of accidents. This book opens when she witnesses a hit-and-run, tries to help the victim, and fails.

One of the things I also thought about while folding all those sweaters was how wonderful it would be to have five books published one day. Well, now that it's happened, the time has come for new publishing goals. I should probably go find some sweaters to fold.

The book is available through e-book formats and in print, and you can find links through my newly created website at

Saturday, September 21, 2013

A Trilogy and a Trick

All three books of the SAGE trilogy are now available in paperback and for Kindle. I think the thing I'm proudest of about these books is that, although fans of heroic fantasy like them, people who don't ordinarily like heroic fantasy tend to like them, too.

In trying to figure out why, I've decided it's partly an oddity in the rather poetic way I use language in these books, coupled with the ordinary motives of the characters. The combination is both grounded and otherworldly.

Usurper. Lost Heir. Runaway bride. Land on the brink of civil war. All so familiar, until Tortoise -- the Divine Creature who ignores the rules of right and wrong -- challenges his fellow divinities to meddle. Suddenly, children targeted for murder are adopted, swordsmen turn into blacksmiths, and none are reliably who or what they seem. The four Divine Animals are afoot: Tortoise, Dragon, Unicorn, and Phoenix. Hold on tight.

The Fall of Onagros,
SAGE Book 1
In the first book of the SAGE trilogy, a legacy is lost, a woman vanishes into thin air, wisdom is found in unexpected places, and a man hopes to defeat a tyrant with tall tales and gossip.

Bargain With Fate,
SAGE Book 2
The mighty are helpless, the weak are strong, and a little girl clutches creatures of terror to her ragged heart.

Silver and Iron,
SAGE Book 3
The contention over the throne of Layounna is fought on strange battlegrounds: an island, a henyard, a scrivenry, a pocket, and the heart of the chief claimant.


And what's the trick? you ask. See that link that says That's a mighty mighty Amazon redirect that directs your click to the Amazon national portal appropriate to your browser. So, if you're reading this in Canada, clicking on that link SHOULD take you to Amazon's Canadian website. If you're in America, you go to If you're in France, vous allez à Is that cool, or what?

 If you want to know more about the books, including reading the first chapters of each, visit The SAGE Page at my blog.

Marian Allen
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Look How Far Self-Publishing Has Come

In an increasingly digital age, the mystery writing community has noticed a marked decrease in the amount of print space reviewers are giving books these days. A number of Canadian newspapers have substantially cut back their review sections, although some are maintaining a strong electronic presence.

As anyone in the self-publishing business knows, acquiring reviews is still challenging, however it’s better than it used to be. When I first published Taxed to Death in 1995, willing reviewers were few and far between, yet there were plenty of independent bookstores around to help sell my book. By the time Fatal Encryption came out in 2008, 95% of the independent stores were gone, however, an abundance of bloggers and online reviewers agreed to review my book. Still, getting the book reviewed by a major publication was nearly impossible.

Imagine my delight when I read in The Atlantic Wire this week that Publishers’ Weekly is expanding their self-published review section from a bi-monthly to monthly event (before that it was quarterly). Addressing the self-publishing explosion, PW’s co-editorial director Jim Milliot says, “It’s really become a part of publishing—that’s the bottom line. It’s certainly not stigmatized in any way.”

Holy cow! Publishers’ Weekly is saying that self-publishing is no longer stigmatized? I never thought I’d hear those words. But it shows you how far the self-published industry has come on some levels. I say on some levels because the article also discusses the Fifty Shades of Gray phenomenon, quoting another source who says that Fifty Shades is the future of publishing, but that one shouldn’t mistake form for substance.

We could debate forever the spectrum of quality among self-published books, but that would take too far long here. In fact, I’ll leave that to the  PW reviewers. I’m just glad to see mainstream reviewers acknowledge that self-publishing is not only here to stay but deserves more space on their pages.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Will You Be a MatchBook Person?

If you’ve been following the week’s headlines in the publishing biz, you will have heard that Amazon’s announced a new bookselling endeavor called the MatchBook program. The Kindle aspect of the program will allow anyone who’s purchased a print book from Amazon since 1995 to purchase the e-book version at a reduced rate, which could be anywhere from free to $2.99. I might have missed it in the material I read, but there was no reference to buying a reduced price print copy if you’d already purchased the e-book. What it does mean, though, is that if you sign up for the program,  you can buy both, presumably at reduced prices although, as far as print goes, this isn’t clear to me either.

According to an article in, the program is scheduled to launch in October and already has 10,000 books listed. As stated in the article, this is a drop in the bucket compared to the number of books out there. The program for both self-publishers and traditional publishers is voluntary, however, Amazon maintains that this is a great option for publishers and authors, as it will increase their revenue stream.

As you can imagine, the marketing strategy has stirred up controversy. Some love the idea and others hate it, stating why would you want to buy the same book twice? Yet some people like to read print at home, but e-books while commuting or traveling. So far, HarperCollins has joined the program, but others aren’t quite so quick to jump in.

An article in states that the concept of bundling has been considered for years in the publishing business. That Amazon is the one to take this initiative in a big way irritates anti-Amazon folks. Whether it will prove to be a great strategy, or an unsuccessful bid to upsell remains to be seen.

What are your thoughts on this? Would you be willing to pay for both the print and e-book versions? What else have you heard about the program?

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Learning From Others

I came across an interesting blog by an author named Bob Mayer who has written 53 books and made bestseller lists. In his blog, Mayer lists ten things he’s learned as a writer, many of which I’ve also learned over the years.

Two things struck me about his piece: one was that his bio says he’s sold five million copies of his work, yet I hadn’t heard of him. I admit that I’m not the most well-read person out there, but I’m trying to read as many authors as I can; however, neither do I live under a rock. One of the things Mayer says that he did wrong was not network enough when he was a traditionally published author. Now that he’s an indie author he’s learned the value of doing this, and now I’ve heard of him. This has happened before. A multi-published author I didn’t know existed has become indie, and now I hear that person’s name on different sites. Could it be that indie authors are trying harder at promoting and networking than traditionally published authors, especially those who’ve already many copies of their books?

Two of the ten points Mayer makes really hit home with me. One is that the best promotion you can do for yourself is to keep writing good books. I’ve heard this said by others and I think it’s true. Rather than spinning our wheels registering for every networking site under the sun, why not pick three favorites, restrict one’s time, and get back to writing? I see so many indie authors endlessly promoting and commenting on forums that I’m amazed they get any work done.

Here’s another point that’s really sunk in with me lately: being a writer and being a business person are two equally important aspects of this job. Both need each other to survive. Now, when I say be a business person, I don’t mean merely improving one’s social networking skills, I mean getting out in the community, meeting business people, and making connections that will help you grow your business, establish your brand, and sell more books. How many writers actually belong to a small business association in their community?

A couple of weeks ago, I had one of those ah-ha moments, when a Facebook acquaintance saw my announcement of the arrival of my latest book, Beneath the Bleak New Moon. She’s joined the small business community in our area, and invited me to take part in an upcoming event. I wasn’t convinced that a small business expo would be the right fit for me, however, after a discussion with the group’s organizer, the epiphany came again. I am a business person as much as a writer, and I need to improve networking opportunities face-to-face in my own community. I started taking steps in this direction three years ago when I began selling at craft fairs. Now, I’m ready to expand my world from one of crafters to business people. It feels right at this time in my life, and I’m looking forward to the adventure.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

New Opportunity for Literary Projects

Award-winning author, Deborah J Ledford has come up with an innovative way to finance her next project. IOF Productions Ltd. established the NatAmGoGo crowd funding campaign on Indiegogo to produce and distribute the audiobook version of her latest thriller novel, Crescendo from Second Wind Publishing.

The NatAmGoGo campaign will also benefit The Blue Feather Corporation, a Native American language and culture nonprofit organization.

The professional audiobook presentation will be narrated by TV and film actress Christina Cox, who has appeared in a variety of films and television episodes including NCIS, Dexter, 24, Castle, Chronicles of Riddick, Better Than Chocolate and Nikki & Nora. IOF Productions Ltd will record Crescendo in November at Costa Mesa Studios in Southern California for download and to purchase as CDs for a December 2013 release.

Crescendo“We are thrilled to have Christina Cox set to perform Crescendo. Her exquisite voice and acting prowess will truly bring my words to life,” Ledford says. “The audiobook will be recorded by an experienced staff, with the quality that will equal narrated books presented by top publishing houses.”

Contributor packages for the Indiegogo/ NatAmGoGo project include a PDF version of Staccato, the first book in the Steven Hawk/Inola Walela mystery series; autographed poster of the Crescendo audiobook cover signed by Christina Cox and Ledford; print versions of book series, including Staccato, Snare and Crescendo, signed and personalized by the author; a leather bound package containing all discs of the Crescendo audiobook with booklet signed by Cox and Ledford; a full content edit by Ledford of a manuscript up to 90,000 words, and hand-crafted jewelry created by a renowned Navajo, Hopi and Taos Pueblo artists.

Ledford spent her summers growing up in the Great Smoky Mountains of western North Carolina, where her novels are set. She met Floyd “Mountain Walking Cane” Gomez in 2006 while doing research for her award-winning novel, Snare. Several years later, Floyd expressed the need to protect languages and culture on reservations throughout the United States, which is why he is establishing the Blue Feather Corporation.

“The storytelling campaign is an effort to prevent the disappearance of Native American languages and culture,” says Arizona author Ledford, who is part Eastern Band Cherokee.

“Native tribal languages and ancient ways are dying on our nation’s reservations,” Ledford explains. “We want to ensure that ancient societies survive.”

The Native American nonprofit foundation will receive 50% of the royalties from downloads and sales of the Crescendo audiobook. “But once the funding goal is reached, any excess will benefit the foundation 100 percent,” Ledford adds. “We can’t let another language or culture disappear,” Ledford concludes. “‘Wado,’ which means ‘thank you’ in Cherokee.”


Click here to contribute: NatAmGoGo

Monday, August 26, 2013

Special guest Nakia R. Laushaul: "Life is Good . . . Now That I Finally Decided to GO Live!"

I never imagined that the path to following your dreams would be littered with so much beauty. Of course the road gets ragged with its fair share of speed bumps, winding roads, and caution signals which we may also know as fear, cash flow and time. The truth is, those stop signs existed before and they will always exist. There is no way around them except to keep going. Keep believing. Keep dreaming.  

You see, when I wasn't doing much of anything but working to live, I somehow managed to move forward with my life. I actually thought I had a really good life. But this kind of passionate living is different; it has a wonderful, magical surreal appeal to it. Every word that I write, every motivational message I send out into the universe, every book that I sign, and every heart that I touch through my literary reach means something special to me. The stories that sat on a dusty shelf in my soul for all of those years had a purpose. I have a purpose. I am not an accountant. I am not a teacher.  I am not a scientist. I am a writer. I own that title proudly. I pray that something I write, a blog a social media post or a book will flick the switch for others to finally have the confidence, the courage to run after their dreams and begin to live their real true life just like me. This real life is so amazing that I want everyone to experience it for themselves. Yes, it is just that good.

To be totally honest, I started this journey wanting to be a rich and famous author. Hey, I’m human and the mom of a hungry seventeen year-old son. However, somewhere along my journey, I made a right turn and my goals changed and so did the way I see riches. My life has become more about encouraging others, giving to our future and healing our families by writing what is true. Truth is, holding the payment in the palm of my hand for the purchase of one of my books just doesn’t compare to how rewarded I feel when someone says, "Because you did, I think I can." When people find the inspiration in me to go and really live, I’m good.

If your dream is to write a book, a screenplay or start your own blog, I say go do it. GO LIVE! Your readers are waiting for you and have no fear, if you keep living (writing) they will find (read) you.

You can find Nakia R. Laushaul almost everywhere on the web:

Award winning author, Nakia R. Laushaul resides in Houston, Texas with her lovable teenage son. She is an inspirational poet, motivational speaker, novelist and entrepreneur. She is the CEO and chief designer of a typesetting and interior book design firm, A Reader’s Perspective. Her debut novel, RUNNING FROM SOLACE, is the 2011 Best Books Award Winner and a 2012 Next Generation Indie Book Award Finalist. She recently penned a romantic and honest novella; CHASITY RULES (released July 2013) Nakia truly believes that by doing what you love, you become happy! She hopes that you will find your happiness. For more information visit her website:

This week (8/26/13-9/1/13)only, her award-winning novel, RUNNING FROM SOLACE is 50% off!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Great Book Promotion Sites

After reading Marian Allen's latest post and the insightful comments of readers, it's clear that the struggle to find a workable balance between writing and promotion is always a challenge. I'm hoping that this week's post will help authors more efficiently and effectively. On the other hand, it might just make you groan as you realize how many promotion opportunities are out there, and what you can or should be doing. 

Anyhow, I came across a great post on GalleyCat blog this week, listing 15 sites where you can promote your book for free. As the blog notes, a lot of these sites came from Kindleboards, which is a great place for ebook authors to promote their work, share experiences, and learn. Here is GalleyCat’s list. They provide a link to every site, and I’ve listed GalleyCat’s link below.

Addicted to eBooks
Appnewser Free eBooks of the Week
Author Marketing Club
Books on the Knob
Digital Book Today
EBook Habit
eReader news Today
eReader Perks
Frugal Reader
Free Kindle Books & Tips
Free eBooks Daily
GalleyCat Facebook Page
Meet Our Authors Forum
Pixel of Ink

As it turns out, I’ve only used three of these opportunities. The list looks daunting, but if you pace yourself, you can probably have signed up with several of them within a week or two. It might be not a bad investment of your time.

Having said that, don’t completely rule out paid promotion either. A number of authors are reporting great success with a site called BookBub. They’re using BookBub to promote the free days offered on Kindle’s Select Program. (You get five in all, but can divide them up.) BookBub charges a fair bit of money (over $200), however, this site has enough klout to help get your ebook in the top 100 list. Authors are reporting that signing up with BookBub has gained them 40,000 downloads over a three-day period, which has resulted in sales of other books in their series. I hear that people are making their money back and then some, but this of course won’t be the case for everyone. It depends on how strong your brand is, what other promotion efforts you’re doing, and the genre you’re writing in. As I’ve written before, Romance does sell well.

You can find BookBub at

And Kindleboards is