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Thursday, February 28, 2013

KD Renegade E-Book Cover Maker - Review and Discount

In this post last year I reviewed a newly launched Kindle cover maker called Kindle Renegade. This was a web-based application designed to help self-publishers with limited graphics skills produce decent-looking e-book covers.

At the time Kindle Renegade was being sold as a special offer on the Warrior Forum and still had a few kinks to be ironed out. Following feedback from users, the finished product is now being sold from its own dedicated website. The current version is called KD Renegade (I'm not sure why the name change, and in some places the name Kindle Renegade is still used).

KD Renegade developer Bertranddo invited me to check out how the software had matured since I first saw it, so I was delighted to accept his offer of a review copy. 

The web-based interface doesn't look much different at first glance, but in fact a range of extra features has been added. One I was most pleased to see was a Save button. Previously, if you made the mistake of closing the tab with the application on it, the project you were working on simply vanished, never to return. Now, you can save projects online and reopen them any time later.

There are also now Undo and Redo buttons, which save a bit of time. One of the things I liked most, however, was the range of templates that have been added. There were 33 when I looked, and Bertrand tells me they are adding about four new ones every month. Of course, as this is a web-based application, buyers of KD Renegade will get all future templates as well.

The templates are professionally designed and cover a wide range of book types, including both fiction and non-fiction. Obviously, you can edit anything you want in the template, including text, images, backgrounds, and so on.

You don't have to start your project with a template, of course. You can begin with a blank page, or with your choice of image. However, there is no denying that using a template can save a lot of time. Here's a template-based cover I knocked up in about ten minutes, for a thriller novel I may or may not one day write...

Another feature of KD Renegade is that you can also use it to create 3D versions of your cover image (this was previously an optional upgrade). You can't use such images on Amazon, but if you're selling through a self-publishing platform such as ClickBank (as discussed in my 10-Day E-Book course) they could be just the thing. You could also use the 3D image on your own blog or website. As a matter of interest, here is the 3D version of my example cover.

Pretty cool, wouldn't you say?

Obviously, one drawback of using a template is that others are likely to be using the same image as well. How much that matters is open to debate. Of course, you can make your design unique by altering the font size and style, changing colors, adding banners, and so forth.

Are there any minuses with KD Renegade? Not many. One I did discover is that if you click on Training to view the tutorials, it opens in the same tab, and if you haven't saved your work, it will be lost. In my view, it would be better if the Training page opened in a new tab or window. Still, this does reinforce the importance of saving your work regularly!

Speaking of the Training area, this has three sections. The first contains training on using KD Renegade itself, the second is Kindle and e-book marketing training, and the third contains design and image tips. The advice is generally quite concise but covers all the main things you need to know. The section about Kindle and e-book marketing includes free guides to formatting your work for Kindle and publishing it on KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing), which is a useful extra.

Overall, I was very impressed with KD Renegade, and pleased to see the improvements that had been made since the earlier version. If you're looking for an easy solution to creating e-book covers, it is well worth considering.

Inevitably, as this is the "mature" version of the application, the price has gone up now, to $77 (about 50 UK pounds). This does include all the templates and 3D image maker, which were previously optional upgrades.

If you commissioned a professional designer to create a single cover image for you, that would probably cost more than $77 alone. To ease the pain, however, Bertrand has kindly offered a special discount to my blog readers. Once you reach the KD Renegade checkout page, enter the code "imwithnick" (just like that, no spaces, and without the quotation marks). A $25 discount will then be applied, reducing your cost to $52 (about 34 UKP). I'm not sure how long this code will work, so if you think KD Renegade could be of value to you, don't leave it too long!

If you have any questions or comments about KD Renegade, please leave them below.

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Monday, February 25, 2013

PLR and ALCS Payment Time for UK Authors

If you're a UK author registered for PLR, you can now check your earnings for 2011/12 on the UK PLR website. Just log in here and click on My Statement.

This year (covering July 2011 to June 2012) they are paying 6.20 pence per library loan. Payment was due between 13 and 22 February 2013, so if yours hasn't appeared in your bank account, I recommend contacting UK PLR to ask why.

For those who don't know, PLR (in this context) stands for Public Lending Right. The UK PLR Office distributes money to UK authors based on the number of times their books have been borrowed from public libraries in Britain in the last year. This money is paid to authors as compensation for their presumed lost royalties on sales.

All UK authors are eligible for PLR (even if they don't currently live in Britain), but you do have to register with the UK PLR Office first. If you're a UK author with at least one published book to your name, therefore, you should sign up immediately to get what is due to you.

Non-UK nationals cannot claim from the UK PLR Office, but many other countries (though not the USA) have schemes in place to compensate writers for library lending. Australia, for example, has what appears to be quite a generous program, though payments are based on the estimated number of copies of an author's book in libraries, not total loans. For more information on PLR schemes worldwide, visit the PLR International website.

In many countries there are also reciprocal arrangements to compensate non-nationals for lending in the country concerned. In Britain this is co-ordinated by ALCS (the Authors' Licensing and Collecting Society), and UK authors should also register separately with them. ALCS also pay out photocopying fees to authors. I received my annual ALCS statement in the post at the weekend, and payment has now also appeared in my account, I'm pleased to say.

I always find it interesting to study my PLR statement. One message that comes across very clearly in the latest one is that library lending is down generally - partly, I guess, as more and more people switch to e-books and the Internet.

But I'm still earning some PLR money even from books that were published quite a few years ago. My book The Internet for Writers was published in 1999, for example, and must be of purely historical interest now. Still, it got borrowed from libraries 74 times last year, earning me the princely sum of £4.59!

While my PLR fees have been going down in recent years, my ALCS payments have been rising, to the point where this year they exceeded my earnings from PLR for the first time. It's perhaps worth pointing out that a large proportion of this money comes out of the bulk fees paid by institutions such as universities for photocopying rights - so even if your book is never actually copied (and declared) you will still earn a bit of cash from it.

Over the years I have made literally thousands of pounds from PLR and ALCS payments; in the case of some books I have earned more from these sources than I have in publisher fees or royalties. So if you're a UK author, it is definitely worth taking the few minutes needed to register yourself and your book/s with UK PLR and ALCS. Otherwise, you really are leaving money on the table!

Photo credit: Alan Cleaver on Flickr.

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Friday, February 22, 2013

MWC Olymp-Inks 2013 - The Winners!

The MWC Olymp-Inks is now over, so here is a complete list of winners (forum IDs only).

For the benefit of anyone who doesn't know, the MWC Olymp-Inks was a set of writing-related events run on my forum at from 1 to 15 February 2013 and open to all members to enter.

Prose Marathon
Prize: Scrivener
Winner: Dawn

Poetry Marathon
Prize: Write any book in under 28 days CD (WCCL)
Winner: Pale Writer

Umpires Editorial
Prize: ProWritingAid premium membership for one year
Winner: Annmarie

Rhythmic Gymnastics
Prize: Essential English for Authors (WCCL)
Winner: 510bhan

Poetry Triathlon
Prize: Writer's Block CD (WCCL)
Winner: Estwg

100-Word Dash
Prize: Book Backup software (WCCL)
Winner: Hillwalker3K

Prize: Kindle Kash (WCCL)
Winner: Siege

Torch Campaign
Lou Darvas Cartooning Course (WCCL)
Winner: Siege

Spectators Sport
Prize: The Wealthy Writer (WCCL)
Winner: 510bhan

Poetry Freestyle
Prize: The 10 Day E-book (WCCL)
Winner: 510bhan

250-Word Dialogue Sprint
Prize: 60 Second Science book by Nick Daws
Winner: Siege

Prize: Self Publishing Secrets (WCCL)
Winner: Matt Walker

Live Online Events

Pentathlon (pairs event)
Prizes: How to Write a Children's Book (WCCL) x 2
Winners: Tom10 and Ma100

Prize: Kindle Kash (WCCL)
Winner: Annmarie (who won this event last time as well!)

Limerick Relay (pairs event)
Prize: Travel Writing Secrets (WCCL)
Winners: Distant Sun and 510bhan

Photo Finish
Prize: Choice of books by Mark Hoffman
Winner: Distant Sun

Caption Contest
Prize: Your Chinese Horoscopes 2013 by Neil Sommerville
Winner: 510bhan

Letters Chase (pairs event)
Prize: A choice of e-books by John Craggs (Gyppo)
Winners: Sasquatch and Siobhan

Word Hurdle Eliminator
Prizes: Two 10 UK pound discount vouchers for WCCL products.
Winner: Hillwalker3K

Javelin Puzzle
Prize: Trinity by Patrick Fox (Kindle version).
Winner: Hillwalker3K

Couplets Discus (pairs event)
Prizes: Lost in the Dark by Joe Mynhardt and Caxton Tempest at the End of the World By Ken Preston
Winners: Gayle and 510bhan

7 Day Sprint word games
Prizes: A choice of any of the MWC charity publications in e-book form. Also four e-books by Neil Somerville and Truitts Fix by Rex Evans Wood.
Winner: 510bhan

The Victor Ludorum Prize for the best overall performance was won by 510bhan (Sio) who entered pretty much every event and became renowned for her speed in the live online events! Sio wins a copy of Movie in a Month from WCCL, along with all her other loot. Congratulations to her on a hugely successful Olymp_Inks!

Congratulations to all our other winners as well, and thank you to everyone who took part, whether as a competitor, judge, marshal or forwarder. We couldn't have done it without you!

And a very big thank you indeed to the redoubtable Ma100 (Mairi) for organizing and running the whole shebang!

Speaking of which, if you won any events in the Olymp_inks, please contact Mairi by forum personal message (PM) now to claim your prize/s. She will need your full name, your email address, your physical address if a prize is a book or CD (if unsure, include this anyway), and the name/s of the prize/s you won. We (and our sponsors) will then get your prize/s out to you as soon as we possibly can.

One last thought is that if you won a prize, it would be appreciated if in due course you could review it and/or send a testimonial. Our sponsors have been extremely generous with prizes - WCCL alone donated well over five hundred dollars' worth - and it would be nice to return the favour wherever possible. Please check out all of our sponsors' products via the links above, and you can also see most of WCCL's range on their excellent WriteStreet website.

In view of its popularity and the almost universally positive feedback received, we hope to repeat the MWC Olymp-inks again next year. If you have any comments or suggestions on the Olymp_Inks, including any ideas for how it could be improved, please leave them on this forum topic or as comments below. Thank you!

Photo credit: wickedrice on Flickr.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Review: Publisher's Review Accelerator

Publisher's Review Accelerator is a new launch from writers and software developers Amy Harrop and Deborah Drum.

I have reviewed Debbbie and Amy's work on my blog before, most recently Book Trailer Treasure Map, their multimedia guide to creating video book trailers (still available here for under $10, incidentally). I've always found their products good value for money, and customer service first class.

Publisher's Review Accelerator is a tool enabling self-publishing authors and publishers to quickly find and contact potential reviewers on Amazon. It works on both Windows PC and Mac OS X (just take care to download the correct version!).

All authors know that getting reviews is crucial to a book or e-book's success. What PRA does is automate the process of finding reviewers via the Amazon website. It does this by performing an initial keyword search for a word or words relevant to your niche. Books in that niche are then listed, and you can choose any titles that have a decent number of reviews attached to them (this is shown on the search page).

For each such title, you can set the software to search for those reviewers who have included contact details (an email address or a website). You can then export any or all of these individuals' details to a spreadsheet, and contact them to see if they would be interested in a free copy of your book in exchange for a review.

That's it in a nutshell really, but here's a video produced by the authors showing PRA in action...

As ever, if you are receiving this post by email or RSS, you may need to visit my blog to watch the video.

Debbie and Amy were kind enough to allow me a review copy of Publisher's Review Accelerator, so here's what I thought about it...

First of all, the process of downloading and installing the software was very straightforward. You have to enter a licence key to activate the software, which is on the Thank You page after your payment has been processed. Once that is done, you are all set to start using the software.

I found Publisher's Review Accelerator pleasingly straightforward and intuitive to use. There is, however, a short video you should watch first, which sets out everything you need to know.

There is also a PDF file that walks you through using the software for the first time, with plenty of screengrabs to ensure that everything is crystal clear. With all this guidance, I can't imagine that many people will need to to contact the vendors' help desk (though this is available if required).

I tried using the software with a few different keywords, and it worked exactly as shown in the video above.

One thing I did notice is that only a minority of reviewers actually leave contact details - around 10 percent seems typical. This is one area where PRA really does save you a lot of time and effort that would otherwise be expended clicking through to a reviewer's profile page, establishing that they haven't left any contact details, and moving on to the next.

You can check out the personal profiles of all the reviewers who have left contact details and see what they say about themselves. If they sound like potential reviewers for your book, you can add them to a shortlist. This can then be exported as a CSV (comma separated values) file, which can be opened in a spreadsheet using a program such as Microsoft Excel. It's then down to you to contact these people personally and ask if they would like to review your book.

The authors do provide some help with this as well. You also get a fairly detailed (14-page) PDF on the subject of how to ask for book reviews. This covers approaching potential reviewers by email (message template included) and how to get your book to them electronically. There are various ways of doing this, all with their own pros and cons, and Debbie and Amy set out the main options. They also recommend quite a clever method which involves taking advantage of one aspect of listing your Kindle e-book on KDP Select.

Overall, I thought Publisher's Review Accelerator was a neat, well designed application that does exactly what it promises on the sales page. If you're a self-publisher, and especially if you have several titles, it can save you a lot of time and effort identifying potential reviewers.

My one slight reservation is that currently it only works with Of course, if you live outside the States, there is still nothing to stop you contacting American reviewers. However, it might be nice if other Amazon stores were also included in future. I gather that buyers of PRA will receive updates to the software automatically (and free of charge), so hopefully this feature may be in the pipeline.

Finally, I should mention that Publisher's Review Accelerator is currently available at an introductory price of just $17 (around 11 UKP). However, Debbie tells me that the price will definitely be going up at the end of February, so if you want their best value deal it's well worth ordering now.

If you have any comments or questions about Publisher's Review Accelerator, please do leave them below!

UPDATE Monday 25 February: In my review above I said that my one reservation about Publisher's Review Accelerator was that it only allowed you to find reviewers on

Well, Amy and Debbie must have been listening to me, because they are adding the ability to search Amazon UK and Amazon Canada as well. That really does double its value (at least) for non-US authors. Anyone who purchases the software now will get this upgrade free of charge as soon as it is available.

Publisher's Review Accelerator is still available at its low introductory price of $17, but I have heard from Debbie and Amy that the price is more than doubling to $37 on 1 March 2013. So if you think this software with its planned upgrade could assist you in your book marketing, now is definitely the time to snap it up!

UPDATE: Publisher's Review Accelerator has been withdrawn due to changes made by Amazon. However, Debbie has released a new, improved tool called Book Review Targeter, which does everything PRA did and a lot more besides. Click through this link for more information.

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Friday, February 15, 2013

Why I Changed My Mailing List Service from YMLP to Aweber

Email Marketing $19/Month!
I'm slightly off topic today. But as many of you will have an online presence yourselves, I hope you will find the topic of mailing list services of at least some interest!

My story starts about ten years ago - before the days of this blog - when I set up an email service called E-Writer to provide a means of keeping in touch with my readers and clients.

E-Writer was irregular at first, but eventually it settled into a monthly e-newsletter, and I kept it running like that till the start of this year. You could subscribe via my homepage at and ultimately it had around 1200 subscribers.

One of my resolutions for 2013 was to look again at how I communicate with my readers - and where the newsletter was concerned, I soon realised it was time for a change.

It seemed to me that in this fast-moving world the whole concept of a monthly newsletter was looking a bit dated. I wanted a way of contacting readers as soon as I had something interesting to tell them, rather than wait till the end of the month and send a lengthy digest, some of which would likely be out of date already.

For E-Writer I had always used the mailing list service YMLP (which stands for Your Mailing List Provider). They had always provided a good service, but for the new E-Writer Updates service I envisaged, I could see that they would be less suitable.

For one thing, while YMLP allow you to mail lists of up to 1000 free, each time you send out a mailing the total number is added to your monthly usage.

So if you had 600 subscribers, you could mail them free once a month, but if you wanted to mail them twice that would put you on 1200, above the free allowance, meaning you had to pay to upgrade. YMLP's charges are not extortionate, but if you were mailing two or three times a week, you would swiftly have to upgrade your account to a much more expensive tier.

YMLP is also relatively limited in the range of features it offers. While you can use it to send out newsletters, for example, you can't really set it up as an autoresponder. So after some investigation I decided to switch to the most popular service in online marketing circles, AWeber.

Aweber doesn't offer a free starter service, but one big attraction of going with them is that charging is based purely on the size of your list. That means even if you mail your subscribers every day, it will cost no more than if you mail them once a month (incidentally, this is one reason why if you join an AWeber list, you are likely to hear from the list owner quite frequently!).

Aweber offers many other features as well. As mentioned above, you can set up autoreponders. For example, when someone first signs up to your list, you can arrange to send them a series of messages at pre-set intervals (your choice) perhaps going into more detail about the products and services you offer. I haven't actually done this myself yet, but it's certainly on my 'to do' list.

Like all such services, Aweber provide the means for people to sign up to your list using the industry-standard (and spam-proof) double opt-in process. They also offer a wide range of sign-up boxes which you can add to your blog or website by copying and pasting a bit of HTML. And, of course, they ensure that subscribers can change the email address at which they receive your mailings - or unsubscribe - by automatically adding such links at the foot of every mailing.

One lesser-known feature of Aweber that I really like is that any time you do a mailing, an archive page containing the message is created (and hosted) by Aweber, and you can also set it up to share these pages via Twitter and Facebook.

These pages are indexed by the search engines, and several times recently I have seen them high up in Google results. You can see the Aweber page for my latest update here if you like. And, as you will notice, readers are invited to sign up to my mailing list at the same time. Please feel free!

If you promote yourself or your books or writing services online, you really should have a list to keep in touch with your readers and prospects. In my view, Aweber is a good choice, and possibly the best.

In any event, if you fancy giving it a try, I've arranged for readers of my blog to test-drive it free of charge (and without obligation). Just fill in your details in the form below and click on Free Test Drive. Aweber will then send you some emails so that you can learn more about what they offer and experience the service first-hand.

Multiply Profits AND Automate Your Business
AWeber's email marketing software makes it easy.

Learn how they can do it for you, too.

Incidentally, if you're looking for a low-cost (or free) service that will work with less frequent mailouts - such as a monthly newsletter - I do still recommend YMLP. If you wish to try it for yourself, just visit and enter the promo code 266CJ1. You will then receive a 15% discount on their normal pricing for as long as you remain a member. For non-profit organisations in particular, I reckon that YMLP would be a good choice.

I hope you find this article helpful and will consider setting up a mailing list of your own (and sign up for mine, of course!). If you have any comments or questions about AWeber, YMLP or mailing list services generally, please do post them below.

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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Review: E-Publish and Be Damned! by Ruth Barringham

As some of you will know, Ruth Barringham is an Australia-based freelance writer and publisher.

Ruth was also my co-author on The Wealthy Writer, a downloadable guide to making money writing for online markets that we wrote a couple of years ago.

Ruth recently released a new e-book for writers, the full title of which is E-Publish and Be Damned! How You Can Make a Million Writing Your Own E-Books. It's quite inexpensive - just $8 or around 5 UK pounds at the time of writing - so I decided to buy a copy myself to see what I thought of it.

E-Publish and Be Damned! is a 62-page downloadable PDF, which Ruth is selling via the self-publishing platform E-Junkie. Purchasing and downloading my copy was straightforward enough.

The manual is divided into around 40 short chapters or sections. Each section is hyperlinked from the table of contents at the front, which is something I always like to see.

The greater part of the guide is about publishing a Kindle e-book. That is quite understandable, considering this is where the biggest market for e-books lies right now. Ruth talks about the types of book which sell well on Kindle, and takes you through such matters as correctly formatting your e-book, publishing using the KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) website, pricing and royalties, and so on.

Ruth does also cover other e-book platforms such as and publishing your e-book as a PDF, albeit not in as much detail.

Marketing is discussed in depth, and the manual concludes with a seven-step action plan for building your self-publishing empire and becoming an e-book millionaire (if only!).

Ruth has quite a distinctive style, where she regularly talks about her own experiences to illustrate points she is making. Often she takes the opportunity to recommend resources she has found helpful herself. Here is an extract where she is talking about creating cover images, for example...
If you've never designed your own book cover before, then you might want to get someone else to do it for you.

You can search online to find a professional book cover designer and they will do an outstanding job for you. The downside is that they'll probably charge you around $300.

You can hire a freelance designer from This is a job auction site where freelancers bid for jobs and say how much they'll charge you. But you can also state exactly how much you're willing to pay.

I've used Elance quite a few times for different jobs and have so far been very pleased with the high standard of work that was done for me.

You could also try, or But when I need an ebook cover, I use Buddy. I don't know Buddy personally at all but I always use him for my ebook covers. I simply tell him what I want and he creates a cover and emails it to me within 2 or 3 days. He's very fast and very good. He even provides royalty-free images for the covers.

He designed the cover of this ebook too. I simply gave him these instructions - "I want the cover to be mostly maroon (deep red) and to convey the feeling of how easy it is to write books and get them published. An image of someone working as a book writer, perhaps?"

All I gave him to work with were those two sentences and the title and subtitle of the book.

Two days later he emailed the covers to me. One 3D paperback image and a flat rectangle.

Buddy charges $27 (at time of writing) payable through PayPal. He offers a choice of two 3D cover formats so choose one from his range (paperback, hardback, box, etc) and ask for the second one to be left as a flat rectangle, because Amazon only wants a flat rectangular image. The other 3D image can be used for marketing on your own website.
It's the personal tips like this scattered throughout the manual that make it so useful in my view (and yes, she does give Buddy's contact details as well!). E-Publish and Be Damned may not be as comprehensive as my own Kindle Kash course or Geoff Shaw's encyclopedic Kindling, but there is more than enough valuable (and hard-won) information to justify the modest asking price.

I also found the tone upbeat and inspirational. Ruth has a real "can do" attitude - due to her Aussie background maybe! - and by the time you have finished reading this guide, I defy you not to want to get started straight away on writing an e-book of your own.

Do I have any criticisms? Well, only minor ones. One is that I would like to have seen a few more illustrations. As it stands, the manual is almost entirely text. Ruth's style, with plenty of short, snappy sentences and paragraphs, ensures that it is by no means an effort to read. Still, I can't help feeling that a few screengrabs (for example) would have helped things along considerably..

I did also find the odd comment that I disagreed with, e.g. her assertion that puzzle books are unsuitable for Kindle. I'm sure my colleague Rosa Suen (whose Kindle Hot Niche guide about creating word-search puzzles for Kindle I reviewed a while ago) would disagree with her about this!

Still, these are relatively minor quibbles. If you're interested in e-book writing and publishing, I have no doubt that E-Publish and Be Damned! will prove a great-value investment for you.

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Monday, February 11, 2013

Amazon Kindle Books by Category [Infographic]

Today I have an infographic about Kindle e-books for you, by courtesy of Gary McLaren, who runs the excellent website.

I thought Gary's infographic contained some interesting and useful information for e-book writers, which is why I asked his permission to reproduce it here.

In particular, you might be surprised to see that there are almost twice as many nonfiction books as fiction in the Kindle store. Often, when thinking about writing for Kindle, people assume that books must be fiction. Increasingly, however, people are buying nonfiction books for Kindle as well, and there is a large (and growing) market for titles in a wide range of niches. If you're thinking of writing for Kindle, a niche nonfiction book is well worth considering, especially if you can identify a niche lots of people are currently searching for information about.

On the fiction side, also, you can see the wide range of titles published. Particularly noticeable is the large proportion labelled "genre fiction". As Gary says in his original post, this may well be because publishers can select up to two categories for any book, and genre fiction makes a good “second” category.

If you're looking for an introductory guide to formatting, publishing and writing Kindle e-books, I still recommend my own Kindle Kash guide. As you will see, if you buy it from my homepage, I am giving away three extra bonuses of my own. This is in addition to those being offered by my publishers, The WCCL Network (also trading as the Self Development Network).

If you already have some experience with Kindle, a low-cost guide to creating "niche" nonfiction books that I recommend is Kwik Kindle Kash (no relation to my course despite the similar name!). This is a video training course that takes you step-by-step through finding potentially profitable nonfiction niches to write about, and is packed with useful hints and tips. It's currently available for under $10 as a Warrior Forum special offer, and I recommend checking it out.

Thanks again to Gary for letting me reproduce his infographic. If you have any comments or questions about it, or Kindle publishing generally, please do leave them below!

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Friday, February 08, 2013

Wealthy Web Writer Subscription Contest - The Winner!

Up! by timothygareth, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 Generic License  by  timothygareth 

In this post last week I set out a contest to win a three-month Platinum subscription to Wealthy Web Writer.

Wealthy Web Writer is a membership-based website aimed at aspiring online writers. I reviewed it in this blog post. As you may recall, I was impressed with the vast amount of information and advice in the members area.

The contest required entrants to leave a comment on the blog post concerned. In the end, fifteen people did just that. So I numbered all the comments in date order, and asked to pick a number between 1 and 15.

The number it chose was 12 - so many congratulations to the twelfth person to comment, Sam Johnston, who wins the free subscription. Please could you contact me via this blog, Sam, and let me know your email address. I can then pass it on to my friends at Wealthy Web Writer, so that they can set up your free account for you.

Commiserations to everyone else who didn't win this time - but bear in mind that there is still plenty of free content on the Wealthy Web Writer site that is well worth exploring. And subscribing costs a modest $27 (about 17 UK pounds) a month.

Many thanks again to Wealthy Web Writer for kindly offering to sponsor this contest.

Keep reading my blog for more contests and giveaways in the months ahead. And don't forget that there are still lots of free prizes to be won in the MWC Olymp-Inks, which are going on right now at the myWritersCircle forum. Here's a link to my blog post with the full programme and list of prizes.

Good luck, and good writing!

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Thursday, February 07, 2013

Lots of Opportunities with Chicken Soup for the Soul

It's come to my attention that the famous Chicken Soup for the Soul book publishers have lots of calls for contributions at the moment (and indeed most times).

I found a number of opportunities listed on the excellent website. In all cases, payment is a flat fee of $200 for a story of 1200 words or less.

Chicken Soup for the Soul also publish poetry, although I couldn't find any information on what they pay for this - could be the same, could be less.

Anyway, here are all the current opportunities I know about, with links to the relevant pages on The descriptions are copied from the pages concerned.

The Dating Game

We're publishing a book on dating! First dates, blind dates, group dates... we want to hear about all of them. Meeting the family, embarrassing moments, break-ups and make-ups... we want all of your war stories. Did you meet your perfect match online? Did you have an office romance or start a relationship with someone who was just a friend? How about first dates after divorce, reconnecting with a person from your past, or even simply finding your happily-ever-after where you least expected it? Tell us everything from love at first sight to dating disasters. For this book, we prefer contemporary stories. They will be favored over stories about events that happened decades ago. We are accepting stories from men and women 18 years and older. The deadline date for story and poem submissions is July 15, 2013.

Multitasking Mom's Survival Guide

Moms are the busiest people in the world! They juggle kids, husbands, jobs, housework, paid work, volunteer work, parents, pets, etc. How do they do it? Sometimes they are successful and get everything done. Sometimes... disasters happen! Busy moms - here is your chance to pass along your words of wisdom, your lessons learned, your funny or embarrassing moments. Pretend you're talking to a friend and share your wonderful stories with other busy moms. The deadline for story and poem submissions is June 30, 2013.

Lemons to Lemonade

"When life hands you lemons... make lemonade!" And don't only make lemonade but squeeze every last drop of juice from that sour lemon to make the sweetest lemonade possible. We are looking for stories that show how you made the best of a difficult situation and how you turned what seemed like a negative into something positive. Did a change in your attitude help? Did a friend give you the boost you needed to get you past what seemed like a dead end? Tell us your success story and how you made it happen. The deadline date for story and poem submissions is February 28, 2013.

Holiday Stories

We are collecting stories for our newest holiday book. Everyone has special memories and stories to tell about Christmas, Chanukah and Kwanzaa - from inspirational and joyous, to heartwarming and humorous. We want to hear about your holiday memories and traditions. NOTE: Please make sure that the stories you are submitting to this book are NEW holiday stories that our editors have not read before. If you have submitted stories to our Christmas books in the past, we have your stories in our database. Also, please make sure your stories are "Santa safe" as we want to keep the magic alive for the young ones. The deadline date for story submissions is February 28, 2013.

Messages from Heaven

We have heard many terrific stories about your own after-death communication experiences since our first Messages from Heaven book came out. It was a national bestseller so we have decided to make another edition, with the theme "Love Never Dies." If you have a story about receiving a sign or communicating with a loved one after his or her death, we would love to consider it. The deadline date for story and poem submissions is March 31, 2013.

In addition, Chicken Soup for the Soul are looking for shorter stories (up to 500 words) for Devotional Stories for Wives. This has more of a religious slant, and each story has to be accompanied by an applicable Bible verse (from the NIV version of the Bible) and a 2-3 sentence prayer. Only $100 per story for this one.

As you may gather, the sort of stories (and poems) required for these books may best be described as heartwarming. They aren't the easiest to write, but if you can come up with something the publishers like, the payment is decent and you also get 10 free copies of the published book.

Full writers' guidelines and submission instructions can be found on any of the pages linked to above.

Good luck!

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Monday, February 04, 2013

Follow me on my new Facebook Page!

For a while now I've had a Facebook business page, where I post writing-related news, tips and information.

However, I made one cardinal mistake when I set it up - I gave it the same name as my personal profile. This was causing growing confusion - both for me and people who wanted to follow my updates - so I decided that this year I should grasp the nettle and set up a new page with a distinctive name.

My new page is titled Nick Daws - Freelance Writer and you can find it at I do hope you will click over and "like" it, so you can start seeing my writing-related updates in your Facebook newsfeed.

Unfortunately it wasn't possible to rename the old page (Facebook won't let you do this once you have more than 200 followers), and neither is it possible to transfer people over to the new page automatically. If you want to keep in touch through Facebook, therefore, you will need to "like" my new freelance writing page to do so.

I apologise for any inconvenience, but in the long term I'm sure that this will be the best thing all round. I've also made a few small changes in the type of update I post on the page, with a view to making it more interactive than the old one. Please do feel free to comment on or "like" any of my updates, therefore, and add contributions of your own if you wish as well.

And finally, if you're thinking of setting up a Facebook business page (also known as a fan page) yourself, learn by my mistake and give it a different name from your profile page!

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Friday, February 01, 2013

Win Wealthy Web Writer Platinum Membership!

Last week I published a review on this blog of Wealthy Web Writer (not to be confused with my and Ruth's Wealthy Writer course!).

Wealthy Web Writer is a membership-based website aimed at aspiring online writers. As you may recall, I was impressed with the vast amount of information and advice on the site, although I did say I felt it could be a bit better organized.

Anyway, my colleagues at Wealthy Web Writer must still have liked my review, because they have now offered a prize of three months' Platinum Membership of the site to a reader of this blog. Many thanks to the Wealthy Web Writer team for this kind offer!

I thought the fairest thing was to do was run this as a prize draw, with the winner picked using the random number generator at To enter, just leave a comment on this post ("Pick me" or something more creative if you prefer).

Just one entry per person, please, and if you post as Anonymous, please leave your name (or nickname) as well, so I know how to refer to you if you win.

Also, bear in mind that I have to approve all comments manually - so if your comment doesn't appear immediately, please don't post it (several times) again!

The closing date will be Friday 8 February at 5 pm GMT (UK time) and I will announce the winner as soon as possible after that. Please check back here to see if that's you!

Good luck, and I look forward to reading your comments!

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