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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Two Great Free E-Books for Writers!

Today I wanted to share with you two great free e-books for writers. Both are PDFs, so easy to read on any PC or Mac.

Both are also exceptionally well written and produced, by authors who really do know their stuff and have the publishing chops to prove it.

The first one is Kindle Publishing Unleashed, by bestselling Kindle author Lilly Sage.

Lilly writes both fiction and nonfiction ebooks, and has achieved greatest success with a series of vampire novels.

Kindle Publishing Unleashed is a 149-page guide to all aspects of publishing on Kindle. She doesn't go into great detail about formatting, preferring to refer readers to Amazon's own free guides to this subject.

There is useful advice on pricing and book length, but the most valuable part of the book in my opinion is where she discusses marketing. There is a whole section (section 2) devoted to internal marketing on Amazon, covering such things as choosing categories for your book, tagging, descriptions, getting reviews, cover designs and so on.

Section 3 then looks at external marketing methods, including blogging, social media, creating an email newsletter, and so on. Finally, Section 4 talks about strategies you can use to get your e-book on to the Kindle best-seller lists (and the benefits of doing so).

You can download Kindle Publishing Unleashed free via this topic on the Warrior Forum, where it is being promoted as a WSO ("Warrior Special Offer"). There is no need to be a member of the Warrior Forum to take advantage of this link.

Lilly also runs her own Kindle Club for people who are serious about succeeding on Kindle. Membership isn't free, but if you feel that Kindle is the way forward for you (and it is for a growing numbers of writers) it's well worth considering. Here is a link for more information.

The other free e-book I wanted to recommend today comes from self-publishing legend J.A. (Joe) Konrath.

The Newbie's Guide to Publishing is a compilation of posts from his popular blog of the same title.

The articles have been edited and organized into categories for ease of reference. The main categories are: Writing, Breaking In, Publishing, Promotion, Touring, Peers, Internet, Ebooks, Reviews, Newsletters, Motivation and (of course!) About Joe.

Each category has as many as fifty articles, so this is a LONG ebook! In fact, it weighs in at 1102 pages, containing over 360,000 words of advice. This is definitely not a book you are going to read in one sitting, therefore! But it's packed with excellent (and inspiring) advice from a prolific thriller author, who refuses to sign up with a conventional publisher because he believes he is far better off publishing his own work.

You can download The Newbie's Guide to Publishing free from this web page.

So there you are - two free and excellent writing guides that should keep you busy for a long time! If you have any comments or questions, as ever, please do leave them below.

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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Half-Price Sale of Writing Products from the Self Development Network!

Regular readers of this blog will know that it's sponsored by my publishers, the Self Development Network (previously known as WCCL).

Well, today I have some exciting news for you. Their head honcho Lee Benson has decreed that every day for the next nine days, they will be offering one of their writing products at half price.

This includes many of the writing courses I have created for them, including today's Kindle Kash. Other products that will be on offer at half-price for a day include How to Write a Children's Book and the blockbusting Movie in a Month CD.

All of WCCL's products are written, edited and designed to the highest professional standard. An unconditional money-back guarantee is provided, and they also come with unlimited 24/7 help and advice from their online support site at

The offers open each day at 9 am New York time and close at midnight (again New York time), with no exceptions.

The way it works is that if you want to buy the product for half-price, you go to its website on the day in question and when you reach the checkout enter the coupon code provided. Hey presto, the price will be cut by half!

To emphasize again, each code will ONLY work on the day specified, so you will need to move quickly if you want to take advantage and obtain the product concerned for 50 percent off.

I will be adding each day's discount code to this post, and also sending it out to my E-Writer Update subscribers. I will put it on the myWritersCircle forum as well, so you have plenty of options for keeping track of each day's offer!


Tuesday 7 May CLOSED

Guess what? SDN have surprised me again and added another item to their half-price Deal of the Day promotion!

This time it's their Writer's Block CD, an audio CD that uses binaural beats and other cutting-edge technologies to entrain your mind to its most creative frequencies. If you sometimes need a bit of help getting into a creative groove, it's definitely well worth a look. For today only, you can get it for just $19.97 instead of the usual $39.95.

If you click here you can read my original in-depth blog review of the Writer's Block CD.

Click here to visit the sales page and at the checkout enter the coupon code UNBLOCK to activate your 50% discount. As always, this offer expires at midnight New York time

Monday 6 May CLOSED

Today's final half-price Deal of the Day is the big one! It's Movie in a Month, the blockbusting CD guide for anyone who would like to try their hand at at screenwriting. For today only, you can get it for just $48.50 instead of the usual $97 - almost a fifty dollar saving!

If you click here you can read my original in-depth blog review of Movie in a Month. Incidentally, if you read my review, you will notice that I was offering several additional bonuses to anyone buying through me. I will still honor that, so if you buy Movie in a Month today, drop me a line and I'll send you the bonuses once I've verified your order.

Click here to visit the sales page and at the checkout enter the coupon code WRITE14 to activate your 50% discount. As always, this offer expires at midnight New York time.

Happy screenwriting!


Sunday 5 May CLOSED

Today's half-price Deal of the Day is Self Publishing Secrets by Carol Anne Strange. This is a guide for anyone who wants to publish their own book in hard-copy form. For today only, you can get it for just $12.98 instead of the usual $25.95.

Click here to visit the sales page and at the checkout enter the coupon code WRITE13 to activate your 50% discount. As always, this offer expires at midnight New York time.

Happy self-publishing!

Saturday 4 May CLOSED

Today's half-price Deal of the Day is Essential English for Authors by yours truly! This is a guide for anyone who is concerned that their grammar and punctuation may be letting them down. It aims to get them up to a publishable standard in the shortest possible time. For today only, you can get it for just $12.47 instead of the usual $24.95.

Click here to visit the sales page and at the checkout enter the coupon code WRITE12 to activate your 50% discount. As always, this offer expires at midnight New York time.

Happy writing!

Friday 3 May CLOSED

Today's half-price Deal of the Day is The Ultimate Copywriter by Mel McIntyre. This is a guide to earning big money as an advertising copywriter, with a particular emphasis on writing for the web.  You can read my full blog review here if you like. For today only you can get it for just $23.97 instead of the usual $47.95.

Click here to visit the sales page and at the checkout enter the coupon code WRITE11 to activate your 50% discount. As always, this offer expires at midnight New York time.

Happy copywriting!

Thursday 2 May CLOSED

Today's half-price Deal of the Day is Book Proposal Secrets by Mel McIntyre. This is a guide to creating a powerful book proposal that will all but compel any publisher or agent reading it to offer you a contract. You can read my full blog review here if you like. For today only you can get it for just $23.50 instead of the usual $47.00.

Click here to visit the sales page and at the checkout enter the coupon code WRITE10 to activate your 50% discount. As always, this offer expires at midnight New York time.

Happy book proposal writing!

Wednesday 1 May CLOSED

Today's (penultimate) half-price Deal of the Day is Novel in a Month by Dan Strauss. This sets out a step-by-step system for anyone who wants to write a complete novel in the shortest possible time. You can read my full blog review here if you like. For today only you can get it for just $24.97 instead of the usual $49.95.

Click here to visit the sales page and at the checkout enter the coupon code WRITE9 to activate your 50% discount. As always, this offer expires at midnight New York time.

Happy novel writing!

Tuesday 30 April CLOSED

Today's half-price Deal of the Day is Travel Writing Secrets by Mel McIntyre. This is a guide for anyone who would like to enjoy the exciting life of a professional travel writer. For today only you can get it for just $23.50 instead of the usual $47.

Click here to visit the sales page and at the checkout enter the coupon code WRITE8 to activate your 50% discount. As always, this offer expires at midnight New York time.

Happy travel writing!

Monday 29 April CLOSED

Today's half-price Deal of the Day is The Best-Seller Secret, by Dan Strauss and Mel McIntyre. This is a step-by-step guide to boosting your book (or ebook) to number one bestseller status on Amazon. You can read my full blog review here. For today only you can get it for just $18.50 instead of the usual $37.

Click here to visit the sales page and at the checkout enter the coupon code WRITE7 to activate your 50% discount. As always, this offer expires at midnight New York time.

Happy book promotion!

Sunday 28 April CLOSED

Today's half-price Deal of the Day is The Wealthy Writer. This course was co-written by me and Australian author/publisher Ruth Barringham. It covers a huge range of methods for making money online from writing, including blogging, e-book writing, short reports, articles, job auction sites, and much more. For today only you can get it for just $23.50 instead of the usual $47.

Click here to visit the sales page and at the checkout enter the coupon code WRITE6 to activate your 50% discount. As always, this offer expires at midnight New York time.

Happy online writing!

Saturday 27 April CLOSED

Today's half-price Deal of the Day is Write A Children's Book. This is not by me (for a change!) but my colleague Mel McIntyre. I rate it very highly, as you can see from my blog review. If you are interested in writing for the massive children's market, this is one of the best guides out there, and for today only you can get it for just $18.50 instead of the usual $37.

Click here to visit the sales page and at the checkout enter the coupon code WRITE5 to activate your 50% discount. As always, this offer expires at midnight New York time.

Friday 26 April CLOSED

Today's half-price Deal of the Day is my original CD-based course Write Any Book in Under 28 Days (also known as The Nick Daws Course). This is a complete guide to writing a full-length book in under a month. It features my unique "outlining and blueprinting" method, which has been used by many thousands of students to create their first books.

Click here to visit the sales page and at the checkout enter the coupon code WRITE4 to activate your 50% discount. As always, this offer expires at midnight New York time.

Happy book writing!
Thursday 25 April CLOSED

Today's half-price Deal of the Day is my own 10-Day E-Book, an in-depth guide to writing a money-making e-book and publishing it on ClickBank or similar. This is a premium product, so you can save almost fifty dollars by taking advantage of today's offer.

Click here to visit the sales page and at the checkout enter the coupon code WRITE3 to activate your 50% discount.

Happy e-book writing!

Wednesday 24 April - CLOSED

Today's half-price offer is Kindle Kash, my course on devising, writing, formatting, publishing and promoting your very own e-book on the hugely popular Amazon Kindle platform. This course has already been used by thousands of students to get their first e-book on sale at the Kindle Store. Take advantage of today's opportunity to get it for half-price!

Coupon Code: WRITE2

Click through here for the Kindle Kash sales page and enter the coupon code above at the checkout to receive your discount.

Watch for more daily offers over the coming week.

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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Kindle Traffic Sniper - Review and Bonuses

Today I'm reviewing a new guide for Kindle authors by Joel Gagne that goes by the name of Kindle Traffic Sniper.

I bought a copy of this modestly priced guide myself so that I could review it (and use the information it contained, of course!).

Kindle Traffic Sniper reveals a method Kindle authors can use to get stats from their Amazon sales pages. As you may know, Amazon does not normally make this information available to authors, so you can only evaluate the performance of your sales page by copies of your book sold. That's fine as far as it goes, but it doesn't give you any indication of the proportion of visitors who end up buying.

By using Joel's method to obtain stats about visitor numbers (and where they come from) you can gauge much better how effective your page is at persuading people to buy, as well as monitoring far more accurately the effects of advertising, KDP Select promotions, title and description changes, new cover images, and so on.

Kindle Traffic Sniper comes in the form of a 29-page PDF, illustrated with screen captures. It's not the best-written guide I've ever seen, but then again English is not Joel's first language. It's all stll perfectly comprehensible, though.

I thought the method Joel explained in Kindle Traffic Sniper was very clever. Clearly I can't give away too much here, but basically it involves setting up a tracking service by making a small - and perfectly legitimate - modification in your book's description area.

The main method described uses free resources, and the stats you get include not only total views but also the site the visitor is on (,, etc.) and the country where they live. Joel also shows how you can get additional stats - down to city level - by using an inexpensive paid-for service. Obviously, this more localized information will be more relevant for some titles than others, but the option is available if required.

Joel offers personal support to all his customers via email or Skype. If you have any problems applying the method, he says he will be happy to help solve them for you. Personally, I found it all pretty straightforward, and now have stats up and running on the sales page of my Kindle e-book The Festival on Lyris Five.

As I'm a fan of Kindle Traffic Sniper - and an affiliate - I'm offering a special bonus to anyone buying it via one of my links in this post. In fact, there are two bonuses.

The first is my personal "hints and tips" file, based on my own experiences applying Joel's method. In this I explain what worked for me - and one thing that didn't - and offer a few extra tips on getting the most from it.

The second bonus is my private report on how to customize your Kindle e-book descriptions on Amazon. This includes adding different levels of header (including the Amazon 'gold' header) and how to insert an image from your book or a picture of yourself. I've even included a link to some free software that will format your descriptions for you automatically, adding the necessary Amazon codes (not the same as standard HTML) as you go. If you'd like to see the effect formatting your description can have, again I refer you to the sales page for The Festival on Lyris Five!

Obviously, once you have stats on how many visitors your sales page is attracting, you will be much better placed to try to boost sales by improving the description and so on. My bonus report will show you how to go about doing this.

My two bonus reports are PDFs saved within a compressed Zip file. The download link should be on the "Thank You" page once you have ordered, but if there is any problem contact me via this blog and I'll sort you out directly.

And obviously, if you have any comments or questions about Kindle Traffic Sniper, please do leave them below!

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Friday, April 19, 2013

Kindle Nonfiction Author? Think About the Reader!

I don't know about you, but I'm buying and reading more and more Kindle nonfiction books these days.

There is a huge range of up-to-the-minute titles on offer, including some great how-to books aimed at writers (this one by Dr Andy Williams on writing and formatting Kindle e-books, for example).

Not only that, prices are generally very reasonable - far lower than similar titles on ClickBank, for instance - and you can also pick up some of them free (when they are on special promotion for KDP Select, for example).

Nonfiction books do throw up some additional challenges for authors, however, especially when - as is often the case - they use tables, diagrams, screengrabs and other illustrations. As a reader I've noticed such issues arising quite a bit.

So in this post I'd like to encourage you to think carefully about the reader - and by that I don't just mean the human reader, but the device your book is being read on! I'll also share one or two examples of good practice I've seen.

So what are the sort of problems readers of nonfiction ebooks experience? As an owner of a Kindle Keyboard (which admittedly is becoming old technology now), one of the biggest frustrations I find is where writers include hyperlinks from website names but not the URL.

From my Kindle (pictured above) I can't follow hyperlinks or "see" the link they point to, so such links are no use to me. In that case, my only option is to load up Amazon's free Kindle for PC program instead and open the book on my computer - but that's not always convenient, obviously.

I therefore think it's good practice to include the full URL for the benefit of older Kindle owners such as me (I'm referring to the Kindle model here rather than me personally - though then again...).

I like the method adopted by Andy Williams in his Kindle manual (referred to earlier) and other titles. He puts the full URL in brackets after the website name, with both hyperlinked. So a reference to self-publishing platform  Smashwords ( would look like this.

Another problem for many Kindle users can occur with diagrams. Bear in mind that many of us with older Kindles only have black-and-white displays. That's fine for reading novels, but can be problematic with charts and diagrams.

Avoid, therefore, using color coding to distinguish different areas if you don't want to leave readers such as me screaming with frustration. It's better in my view to use textures (solid, clear, cross-hatched, etc.) that will show up clearly on monochrome displays as well.

Even so, it must be said that diagrams, screengrabs, and so on can be very hard to read on the small screen of a typical e-reader. Obviously, you will try to ensure that your image appears as large as possible, but there are clear physical limits to what can be achieved.

So what is the answer? I like the approach taken by another author, Lambert Klein, in his Kindle book WordPress Power Guide, which I downloaded a few weeks ago (and also recommend, incidentallly). In the Introduction, he writes:

This book contains quite a few images. Since eReaders don't always display images well, I have provided you with a link in the chapter titled "Conclusion" [to] a PDF file that contains this book...the images in this will be easier for you to view.

There is a slight risk with this approach that potential buyers might find the PDF online and download it free rather than paying for the book on Amazon. It's a small risk with a Kindle e-book that only costs a few dollars, but even so there may be a case for publishing just the accompanying diagrams in the PDF (and not the text as well).

When I publish the Kindle version of my book Start Your Own Home-Based Business shortly this is the approach I plan to follow, as there are only two or three diagrams in this book that I think might cause problems for people using an e-reader.

Of course, nowadays there are apps that will let you read Kindle ebooks on your PC or a wide range of other devices (see my recent blog post about this). So it's perhaps worth pointing out to your readers that they can do this as well.

Dr Andy Williams (again) has the following paragraph in the introduction to his Kindle writing and publishing guide - the link at the end is to an article on his own blog...

If you want to take advantages of the URLs in this book without having to type them out, I recommend you look at the free Kindle software available for PCs, Macs, iPhones, iPads, Android tablets and smartphones. You can read about it here:

So there you are - just a few thoughts on how you can make your nonfiction Kindle book more readable and reader-friendly, and hopefully pick up better reviews as a result!

If you have any comments or additional tips to share, please do leave them below.

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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Review: Kindle Day Job Killer

Kindle Day Job Killer is a new guide for aspiring Kindle authors from Australian Martin Kerrigan. It's currently on a special launch offer at The Warrior Forum.

Kindle Day Job Killer has been creating quite a buzz since it was launched, and it was recently voted WSO (Warrior Special Offer) of the Day. So I thought I should invest the $17 required to see the product everyone is currently talking about.

The claim on Martin's sales page is that it will help you discover "a totally unique way to launch multiple best-selling Kindle books, even if you're up against a tirade of stiff competition". The main manual is an exceptionally well produced and well written 63-page PDF. Quite often with WSOs you get the impression that they are works in progress (which they may well be), but that's definitely not the case here.

Kindle Day Job Killer covers every aspect of creating a Kindle e-book, but some topics are covered in more detail than others. Formatting, for example, is dealt with in a single paragraph, which basically advises readers to download Amazon's free guide and follow that. Fair enough, I suppose.

Of course, KDJK isn't really about formatting your e-book, or even writing it for that matter. The guide covers three main areas in depth. The first is - perhaps surprisingly - why you must have a good cover image and how to create one. A range of resources is discussed here, whether you prefer to go down the DIY route or outsource.

Next comes choosing a niche for your book. Both fiction and non-fiction are discussed, and Martin suggests some clever and unusual ways of identifying promising topics to write about. He reveals how you can check the likely level of interest in your proposed book using keyword research, and also discusses methods for coming up with killer titles.

The main part of Kindle Day Job Killer concerns promotion, however. Martin provides a detailed account of the range of methods he has used to catapult a series of his own books into the Kindle bestseller lists.

This is really priceless information. Martin isn't afraid to say which methods haven't worked for him as well as which have (he gives a thumbs-down to Facebook advertising and Kindle Nation Daily, for example). In the Introduction, Martin says that the aim of his guide is "to show readers how they can sell the most Kindle books for the least amount of effort using both unpaid and a few paid methods." It's a real eye-opener to see what methods have worked well for him, and he reveals some great resources that I'm now keen to try out for myself.

Of course, most Kindle authors nowadays are aware of the KDP Select scheme. This lets you profit from free loans of your books to Amazon Prime customers, and also (perhaps more importantly) lets you list your book free for a few days, to generate more downloads and reviews and boost your sales ranking. Martin has his own perspective on KDP Select, and again his advice and experiences are well worth reading about.

One thing I haven't mentioned so far is that Martin's style is unusually entertaining and humorous. Here he is talking about Facebook, for example...

"One of my friends describes Facebook as a time vampire and I think he is right. I often wonder what employees did with their time at work before Facebook. You can create Facebook pages until you are blue in the face, you can update your timeline every second minute, you can plug your book over and over again, probably only to be un-friended by a lot of your Facebook friends. You can buy Facebook ads and target them exactly where you want them. Interests: Kindle, e-books, books in your niche, your niche full stop, by age, by demographics, by country - the result will still be the same. You are wasting your time and money. Trust me. Been there and done that. I know that many people are telling you how great Facebook is for promoting your books. I have never found it to be so.

"Joke: I went to the gym last night and almost went to bed without updating my timeline. What a waste of a workout that would have been.

"This is the quality of leads you are finding on Facebook. You have more chance of finding Kony."

OK, you might argue that humor isn't really relevant in a how-to guide, but I would have to disagree. If done well - as it is here - it makes reading a pleasure rather than a chore, and can actually make it easier to remember the nuggets of information imparted.

In addition to the main manual, you also get a range of bonuses. Quoting directly from Martin again, these are as follows...

* How to get an EIN if you are not a US resident so as to save yourself 30% in tax on your Kindle earnings
• How to create your very own categories in Kindle (yes, it is possible!)
• How to customize your description of your Kindle book using Amazon’s own HTML (which is not as hard as it sounds, so don’t panic)
• A summary of “The Hero’s Journey”. The “How to” of writing a fiction novel
• And, as a special treat, the first and last lines of five, unwritten romance novels

There is also an unadvertised bonus, which is a video course on a related topic. As it's unadvertised I probably shouldn't say too much about it, but it was originally sold as a WSO in its own right, and contains some very interesting ideas on choosing keywords for your (nonfiction) book.

Overall, I was genuinely impressed with Kindle Day Job Killer. If you're looking for informed, up-to-the-minute advice on what's working right now for promoting Kindle books (and much more besides), in my view it's well worth the low introductory price. Highly recommended.

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Friday, April 12, 2013

Guest Post: Seeing Covers

Today I am pleased to bring you a guest post from self-publishing author Terrance Bramblett.

Terrance was the runner-up in my recent guest posting contest. In his thought-provoking post, he reveals his own particular approach to creating covers for self-published books and e-books.

* * *

I am not directly addressing the issue of writing your opus in this post. We all agree that it will be marvelous, and that you have the skill and fortitude to get it down on paper or in a document format. Instead, I am going to talk about book covers.

I personally do not have as much trouble with the actual writing process as I do afterward, trying to come up with a cover and title for my e-books. Everyone says they need to be catchy, vibrant, eye-pleasing, and a lot of other adjectives designed to extract money from the pocket of the potential buyer.

I know this is true, for I do it myself. When I browse in a bookstore or library, if the novel does not have an arresting title, inside cover blurb, and graphics, I mostly pass on it. It isn't right, but it does seem to be human nature. I suppose it's as if Moby Dick had a picture of a lower limb prosthetic. You might think it was a large book concerning surgery and never know about the large marine mammal. You can pay someone to have a cover professionally done, or you can purchase the right to use a stock photo. But there is another alternative. Perhaps you can create your own.

I have started observing scenes as possible photographs to use as covers. I am an amateur photographer, and the availability of digital cameras has opened the world of photography to many of us. Since an e-book  book cover is typically a tall rectangle, usually about 1600 by 2400 pixels, any camera of 4 megapixels or larger can take photos that will serve as a cover. If you have a higher pixel count, you can take even larger photos and crop them to get the meat of the scene, or use common software to resize them.

The one thing I have had to change about my photography is to look at more scenes from a portrait standpoint. I have almost always taken photos in landscape mode. If your camera is of sufficient pixel count, you can do that and crop it to the tall rectangle shape. But it is easier to take the picture in the first place in portrait mode.

Using the creativity you have that allows you to write, think of a scene that will complement your book. For example, if you are writing about ghosts, you may find a gloomy graveyard shot just right. A zombie apocalypse might allow use of an abandoned, rusting old factory. A cover for a romance novel could maybe have some flowers and a pretty female. Be wary of using humans, though. You will have to obtain a release from them to use their countenance on your cover. A civil war novel could have a photo taken at a National Park battlefield site such as Bull Run or Chickamauga.

The possibilities of scenes relating to your novel are only limited by your imagination, your camera, and your ability to get to them. I hope it will help make your book a best seller. I am still learning this myself, and I have done a few covers for my e-books using photos I have taken and edited. You can see a few of them on my somewhat-about-writing blog at

* * *

Thank you to Terrance for an excellent guest post. I've reproduced a couple of his book covers above, and highly recommend clicking through to his blog to see some of his others.

Incidentally, a growing number of tools are available to help non-expert designers create their own cover images. Two I like and have reviewed in this blog recently are the web-based KD Renegade (discount coupon available via the link) and the downloadable application Ebook Cover Maker Pro. Both of these design/layout tools can be used with your own photos if you wish.

If you have any comments for Terrance or for me, please do post them below.

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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Get Your Book Reviewed at Readers' Favorite

All self-publishing authors know that getting reviews for their books or e-books is an essential requirement for getting sales.

So today I wanted to share with you a US website that promises to review your book free of charge through a network of volunteer readers.

The website is called Readers' Favorite. It's been around for a while, and is used by top authors and publishing houses as well as self publishers. It's a site that any author today should at least be aware of.

And yes, they do genuinely offer to review your book for free. The way it works is that once you have registered your book or ebook, it goes on a list that is circulated to their volunteer reviewers. If one of these people likes the sound of your book they can claim it, and promise to provide a genuine review once they have read it.

Obviously, this does mean that there is an element of chance about how quickly your book gets reviewed, although you can improve its prospects by creating a compelling description. If you want to guarantee a quick review, however, you can also pay for a guaranteed "express review" in two weeks or less. They review both print books and ebooks, and even audio books.

Readers' Favorite posts reviews on their own site, Barnes and Noble, Google Books, Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and Pinterest. You can also post their reviews on your Amazon page.

In addition, they say that their reviewers will often post reviews of your book on their own websites and blogs, and on popular review and social media sites.

You might wonder what if the reviewer gives your book a bad review? Readers' Favorite say they only post 4 and 5 star reviews. If a book receives a poor review, they provide constructive criticism direct to the author instead. As they say, they are in the business of helping authors, not hurting them.

There are certain other advantages to submitting your work to Readers' Favorite. For example, if their reviewer gives your book a five-star rating, they allow you to use the Readers' Favorite Five Star Review Seal on any of your marketing materials (website, book cover, etc.). You can also join their Review Exchange, which allows you to trade reviews with other authors (i.e. you agree to review their book if they review yours).

Readers' Favorite also run their own Book Award Contest, which is quite heavily promoted on the site. There are substantial cash prizes for the winners, but of course you have to pay a fee to enter.

The Awards are run separately from the reviews service, and you don't have to submit your book for review to enter it for an award (or vice versa).

There is quite a bit more to the site than I have been able to mention here, so I strongly recommend visiting Readers' Favorite and spending a little time exploring it. It does seem to me that there is nothing to lose, and potentially a lot to gain, by submitting your book for a free review at least.

Lastly, I should also mention that they are always on the lookout for more volunteer reviewers - so if you fancy getting your hands on some extra reading matter, it's worth checking out the site as well!

If you have any comments or questions, as ever, please feel free to post them below.

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Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Guest Post: No-one Told Me About Self-Publishing!

Today I'm pleased to bring you a guest post by Louis Sharman (via PostJoint).

Louis has some inspiring words for anyone who may have been thinking of self publishing but been put off by its perceived difficulty.

* * *

They say there's a book in everyone. Certainly to be a published author is the ambition of thousands of people, including me. How I envy all those first-time writers that win awards and literary acclaim with their debut tomes. I wish I could emulate their success.

Seeing your name in print is considered the ultimate achievement, but in reality only a very small percentage of authors get published and that's probably after months - if not years - of pushing manuscripts to different publishers and absorbing the knock-backs. Everyone knows the story of J.K.Rowling and how her book about a boy wizard was continually rejected until Bloomsbury finally accepted. It's not easy to get published, and that's what's put me off thus far.

That is, until I was introduced to the concept of self-publishing. Call me naive, but I had no idea this option even existed. Why didn't anyone tell me?

I've since discovered that hundreds of amazing authors are getting their books out via this means, without the need for an agent. What's more, self-publishing isn't new, apparently. Some of the great authors resorted to it, including the likes of Jane Austen, and what's good enough for wonderful Jane is good enough for me!

How do you go about self-publishing? Here are a few tips that I've picked up:

Advice and guidance

I've always been of the mindset that you don't need a reference book to help you write a novel, but I now concede that tips on characterisation, plot development and the like are actually very useful.

Additionally, a writing course I recently attended emphasised the need for a defined structure, thus for a first-timer, I admit it's probably a really good idea to get some good advice from a reference book. Also, there are books available all about self-publishing that provide lots of insightful hints and tips.


Depending on the theme of your book, you may need/want to include some illustrations or photos; certainly you'll want something to create a striking and professional cover. Consider your audience when selecting an image, choosing one that is relevant to the story. If you don't have any of your own photographs, there are always stock image sources, such as, though you might need to check on the rules pertaining to use.

Where to publish?

As you know, the idea behind self-publishing is to send your manuscript to a third party which will print copies as and when a customer buys one. There are lots of online services out there, including Lulu, Blurb, and CreateSpace. Even Penguin is venturing into the self-publishing arena. Each offers different packages - at different costs - depending on how you want to design and market your book. Do your research and shop around before selecting a service.

The benefits

The benefits of self-publishing are evidently huge: there's no requirement to shift thousands of printed copies, the royalties are better, but most of all: you get your name in print.

This information has inspired me to finally start my novel and I hope it might encourage a few more to be brave and write the book which I know is inside you!

About the AuthorLouis Sharman is an avid blogger and writes on a plethora of subjects ranging from book reviews to suggesting the importance of children's books or thriller and crime books in modern culture. He lives in London, UK, and enjoys reviewing the most recent books of sports. He is also an amateur photographer and has a great collection of photography books. You can connect with him on Google+

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Thank you to Louis for his encouraging article, and I wish him every success with his novel!

Of course, nowadays as well as print, writers also have the option of publishing in e-book form. My course Kindle Kash reveals how to do this step by step.

Nonetheless, many of us still have the understandable desire to hold a printed copy of our book in our hands; and even if you are publishing on Kindle, you should really consider producing a print version as well, to reach the widest possible market. You can download a free guide to formatting a book for Amazon's POD (print on demand) service CreateSpace via this newsletter article if you wish.

If you have any comments or questions about Louis' post, as ever, please feel free to post them below.

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Thursday, April 04, 2013

E-Publishing - Don’t Give Up!

Lazy day reading with the new Kindle by Malenkov in Exile, on Flickr
I'm delighted to bring you today the winning entry in my recent Guest Posting Contest.

It comes from Sally Jenkins, who is (quite coincidentally!) a near-neighbour of mine.

In her excellent post, Sally offers timely and encouraging advice for anyone who may have published their first e-book and been disappointed that sales haven't been as spectacular as they hoped.

Over to Sally, then...

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So you've taken the plunge and published your first Kindle e-book. Well done! What a great buzz of excitement, pride and anticipation you enjoyed as the launch announcement went out via Facebook, email and on your blog!

Then there was the flurry of sales as friends and family loyally downloaded the book and left kind words in their Amazon reviews.

But then things changed. After a couple of weeks the book stopped selling, it plummeted down the charts and the reviews and 'likes' dried up.

Since then you've been wondering whether it was worth the hassle of formatting the wretched thing and all those hours spent on the cover design.

It's tempting to decide that this Kindle business isn't all it’s cracked up to be and to jack it all in.

Stop! Think again!

E-publishing is all about marketing and there are ways to sell more books. Here are just a few to try:

• Publish another book ASAP. Make sure that this second book includes a link back to the first, and re-publish the first book with a link to the second. Or, even better, link to a web page where the reader can see details of all the books you have available.

• Create a series instead of writing one-off books. For fiction authors these could either be stand-alone stories that use the same characters - for example, a detective series - or a serial whereby the reader has to buy each book in turn in order to find out what happens next. Non-fiction writers should base each book on a small topic from a larger subject - for example, books on 'Character', 'Setting' and 'Dialogue' might form part of a 'Writing' books series. In either case, have several books in your series ready to publish together - this will encourage readers to buy now because they know there is the follow-on book ready and waiting for them. If outputting this number of books sounds daunting, remember that the beauty of e-books is that they can be short!

• Try fiddling with a book that has lost its sales momentum. Increase or decrease the price (sometimes putting the price up can make a book appear more attractive). Change the keywords to pull in readers using other search phrases. Get a new cover - a professional-looking cover can work wonders. If your budget is limited, try one of the designers offering cover design for $5 on

• Enrol in KDP Select (assuming that your book is not available on other e-publishing platforms) and run a free promotion to gain reviews. This needs advance planning so that you can publicise the giveaway on websites, Facebook pages and forums - have a look at this link for places to try.

• Find a group of like-minded people by joining an online forum such as Lilly Sage's Kindle Club. Take part in the discussions and ask questions about all aspects of e-book publication and marketing.

• Subscribe to the blogs of those that are making a success of e-publishing (you're reading one now!) and follow up all the information that appears. There are a lot of generous, experienced Kindle authors out there willing to share their expertise - grab their advice and use it!

Writing and publishing books for Kindle is not a 'get rich quick' scheme. But with hard work and determination you can make it financially worthwhile. So stick with it!

Sally Jenkins blogs about writing and related subjects at
Details of her e-books can be found at

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Thank you again to Sally for an excellent and inspirational article, and for supporting my contest!

Sally wins a copy of my new course Blogging for Writers, which I hope she will enjoy reading and putting into practice.

If you have any comments or questions about Sally's article, as always, please feel free to post them below.

Photo Credit: Lazy day reading with the new Kindle by Malenkov in Exile on Flickr. Reproduced under Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 Generic Licence.

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Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Review: Under the Radar List Building

Under the Radar List Building is a guide to an unusual method for building your mailing list. It could also represent a good sideline-earning opportunity in its own right. It's currently on offer at a low launch price on the Warrior Forum.

This is the latest release from Amy Harrop and Deborah Drum. I've mentioned some of Amy and Debbie's other high-quality products such as Publisher's Review Accelerator, Book Trailer Treasure Map and $5 Book Promotion on this blog before. I also recommended their report on "underground" promotional methods, which you can still pick up via this blog post for free if you haven't already.

Amy and Debbie were kind enough to allow me reviewer access to Under the Radar List Building, so here's what I found.

The course content is downloadable but it is accessed via a WordPress membership site. This means it can be easily updated and expanded.

The main manual is a 32-page PDF that sets out how the method works. As you would expect with Debbie and Amy's products, it's well produced and well written, with plenty of screengrab illustrations.

The method involves using an up-and-coming e-course platform. Essentially, you will be setting up a short web-based course here on the subject of your choice. You can create paid-for courses, in which case you will receive a (large) proportion of the fee paid by each student.

Amy and Debbie recommend setting up free courses initially, though, with the main aim of building your opt-in mailing list. As I've noted in several of my own courses (e.g. The Wealthy Writer) anyone doing business online needs to have a list, and that certainly includes writers. You can sign up to my own list here if you like ;-)

The e-course platform recommended by Debbie and Amy does require (or at least prefer) all courses to be 60 percent video based. A wide range of video styles could be acceptable, including screen captures, PowerPoint-type slides, talking to camera, and so on. The rest of your course content can be in the form of text, but if you're not comfortable making videos, this may not be the opportunity for you. Debbie and Amy provide some basic information in the manual, but it's not a product about video making.

If you're reasonably OK with video, however, the method looks interesting and do-able. The authors recommend that initially you create a short course of around an hour's duration and offer it for free. It will then be available on the e-course site and marketed to students and potential students.

Once you have people signed up for your course - which should basically run on auto-pilot - you can give them an incentive to sign up to your personal list (e.g. by offering them a free report). You could also use this method to encourage students to buy your Kindle or ClickBank e-books, follow you on social media, and so on. It could therefore represent an effective method for building your marketing platform.

In addition to the main manual, there are several bonuses. These include a course planning checklist, a questionnaire to ensure you have everything covered, and a product creation mindmap that guides you step-by-step through how to succeed with this method. All very helpful!

In addition, Debbie and Amy have thrown in a complete course on using the popular Aweber autoresponder service (which I use myself) to build and manage your mailing list. I'm guessing that this was originally sold as a separate course in its own right, or maybe that was the original plan.

In any event, this is an impressive product in its own right. You get a 39-page PDF manual and also ten screen-capture videos that take you step by step through setting up and using Aweber (the last video isn't actually about Aweber at all but rather about using Google Plus as an autoresponder).

As a fairly new Aweber user myself, I got a lot of valuable information from this "course within a course" and would say that it is well worth the modest price Debbie and Amy are currently charging for Under the Radar List Building in itself.

Overall, Under the Radar List Building is another product from Debbie and Amy I am happy to endorse. It may not be ideal for everyone, but if you're undeterred by the thought of preparing some videos (and perhaps if you have a bit of teaching experience) it represents an interesting and unusual method for building your list and growing your online income. And if you get really keen, you might even join the growing band of instructors who are earning a good second or even main income via this platform. It's certainly something I will be looking into myself in the coming weeks.

If you have any comments or questions about Under the Radar List Building, as ever, please post them below and I will do my best to answer them.

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Monday, April 01, 2013

Guest Posting Contest: The Winners!

A few weeks ago on my blog I launched a guest posting contest to win a copy of my new course Blogging for Writers.

The contest didn't attract a huge entry, but the standard of those I received was generally high.

There was a clear winner, though, and I'm pleased to reveal that this was Sally Jenkins, who is (quite coincidentally) a near-neighbour of mine. I will be publishing Sally's brilliant article "E-Publishing - Don't Give Up!" on the blog later this week.

The runner-up was Terrance Bramblett, who submitted an enjoyable and thought-provoking article titled "Seeing Covers" about creating your own e-book covers. This is a topic of particular interest to many self-publishing authors, and in his post Terrance suggests a slightly different approach from the usual one.

I am sorry that Terrance just missed out on the prize, but hope he will agree to allow me to publish his excellent piece on my blog at a later date.

Third place went to Amrita Sarkar for her post titled "Things To Do to Stay Interested in Your Thesis". This was a well-written and entertaining piece, though perhaps more suited to a niche blog aimed at students rather than my writing blog. Nonetheless, congratulations to Amrita for a fine piece of work, which I am sure she will soon find a home for.

Thank you very much to everyone who entered my contest, and commiserations to those who missed out on a prize this time.

I'd like to conclude with a few quick tips on what works and what doesn't for blog guest posts, based partly on entries to this contest...

1. Very important: try to keep most of your sentences and paragraphs reasonably short. Remember that big slabs of text are very off-putting online. This applies especially in blogs (such as this one) where the text columns may be quite narrow. I've deliberately made this paragraph longer than I would normally, so you can see how on the blog it starts to look quite lengthy and daunting, even though it's only four sentences in total!

2. By contrast, numbered or bulleted lists often work well and can provide a cohesive, easy-to-read structure. Sally's winning entry uses this technique, incidentally.

3. Include hyperlinks to useful resources where relevant. This can greatly increase the value of your article to readers.

4. Check and double-check for mistakes (typos, spelling errors, incorrect word usage, etc.) before submitting. Little errors can make a huge difference, especially in contests.

5. Speaking of which, print out your article before submitting and read it carefully, as you may well notice errors you didn't spot on screen. It's also a good idea to read your article out loud to judge how well it flows and whether there are any over-long or awkward sentences in it.

Finally, I should mention that Blogging for Writers is still available to buy from my publishers, WCCL/The Self Development Network. You can find out more in this blog post, including my unique special offer of a free module from my other forthcoming course Writer's Cashpoint for anyone buying via my blog!

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