In the past I've recommended Duotrope for researching potential markets for fiction. Since 2012 they have charged a fee, however, and have lost a lot of members and goodwill as a result. Although we all have to make a living somehow, trying to charge for something that was previously free is a dangerous tactic, as more than a few websites have found out to their cost!
Anyway, if you're looking for some help researching potential markets for your work, and you can't (or don't want to) pay for Duotrope, in my opinion The Submission Grinder is well worth a look. It's still in Beta as they build up their database, but even now a good range of fiction markets is listed. Poetry and nonfiction markets are not currently included, but I understand may be added in future.
You can narrow down your search by genre, payscale, length, anthologies/contests, and so on. One tip from my experience is not to narrow it down too much, though. The database is still a lot smaller than Duotrope's, and if you limit your search too much you can easily end up with no results.
Although it's possible to search the database without registering, if you do (which is free) you will also be able to use the submission tracking system. This provides a method for tracking where you have sent work and what the outcome was. This data is also used (anonymously, of course) to produce statistics about response times and so on for different markets - a useful extra resource. If you plan to use The Submission Grinder regularly, I do recommend registering on the site.
The Submission Grinder is a resource from Diabolical Plots, a genre zine co-edited by Anthony Sullivan and David Steffen. Its focus is on "speculative fiction with a significant bias toward the business and craft of writing".
AmaSuite 3 is a suite of tools and training resources for anyone who is keen to profit from the Amazon affiliate program (as discussed in this recent blog post).
The software has been created by Dave Guindon with his business partner Chris Guthrie. If Dave's name sounds familiar, it may be because he is the man behind the popular Kindle research tool KD Suite, which I bought myself and like very much. I reviewed it a few months ago in this blog post.
Anyone who has bought KD Suite will notice certain similarites in AmaSuite 3, if only in that both are highly professional! AmaSuite 3 comprises three software tools and a linked WordPress plugin, plus two full video training courses and a growing range of other resources. It would take weeks, maybe months, to explore it all properly, but in this review I will share my initial findings.
The four main items in AmaSuite 3 are Keyword Generator, Top 100 Analyzer, Product Inspector, and the AmaSync WordPress plugin. All four can be set to work with Amazon.com and/or Amazon UK.
Keyword Generator reminded me somewhat of KD Search Analyzer in KD Suite, but of course it covers the whole Amazon store, not just the Kindle section. Essentially, it uses Amazon's search suggestion tool to show you the most popular searches for any given keyword or phrase. You can see a screengrab of the software in action below.
As always, you can see a larger version of this image by clicking on it. Use the Back button on your browser to return here.
If you search for Samsung, as in the example above, it will list all searches beginning with Samsung 0, then Samsung 1, Samsung 2, and so on, and then throughout the alphabet, starting with Samsung A (which turns out to be Samsung Ativ). You could use this tool to help identify popular search terms to target in a marketing campaign.
As the name indicates, Top 100 Analyzer shows you the most popular products across Amazon. You can set it to show Best Sellers, Hot New Releases, Movers and Shakers (products climbing in popularity), Most Gifted, and Most Wished For. You can also select a category and (optionally) sub-category for your search. The screengrab below shows the results of a search of Most Wished For items in the Electronics category on Amazon UK.
As you will see, the software displays a range of useful information, including product name, Amazon discount, average buyer rating, number of reviews, and (very important) affiliate commission per sale.
You can apply filters to get the software to show you only items with more than a certain level of commission, and/or with a minimum discount (say 30 percent). Clicking on any product name takes you to the relevant sales page on Amazon, of course.
The Top 100 Analyzer is a powerful (and easy to use) tool for exploring profitable items on Amazon to promote.
Product Inspector is another tool for researching products to promote in Amazon, but it works in a different way. It is really more like a search engine for Amazon. Enter any keyword/s you wish in the software, and it will display relevant products. Here is a screengrab displaying a search I conducted on the keyword Halloween on Amazon.com.
As you can see, these particular products don't in general offer big commissions, but of course they sell extremely well at this time of year.
Incidentally, as with Top 100 Analyzer, you can rearrange the display by clicking any of the column headings. In the screen capture it is arranged by sales rank, but you could easily rearrange it according to commission payable by clicking on that column heading.
The other main item you get with AmaSuite 3 is the AmaSync WordPress plugin. Unlike the other three products this is not Windows software, but rather a plugin for the popular (self-hosted) WordPress blogging and website-building platform. It is specifically designed for use in conjunction with Top 100 Analyzer and Product Inspector.
The two programs mentioned both have the capacity to export the ASINs (Amazon product identifiers) of any items you select into a plain text (.txt) file. This can then be imported into the AmaSync plugin, where it will create one post per item. This post will feature the relevant product title, image, price and (in most cases) description from Amazon. Naturally, your affiliate code will also be incorporated. You can either post this "as is" or edit it first (which is recommended).
I have published below a screengrab of a post created using the AmaSync plugin on a test site I use for such purposes (Beautiful Greece).
This was published directly without any editing. Obviously, with just a little polishing it could look very smart and professional. If you wish, you can see the actual blog post here.
I was impressed with the AmaSync plugin, which (unlike some I could mention) I found easy to install and configure. You will need to enter your Amazon affiliate IDs and also Amazon API code, but links and help videos are on hand if required. Once you have done this, you could potentially create an Amazon WordPress store stocked as you wish in a very short time.
So those are the core products in AmaSuite 3, but in a way that is still just the tip of the iceberg. You also get a ten-module video training course on how to make money as an Amazon affiliate by Chris Guthrie. This focuses on building Amazon affiliate websites, specifically using WordPress. Advice on making the most of AmaSuite 3 to research and populate your site is, of course, included.
A further bonus is a comprehensive WordPress video training course, which covers everything you need to know to make use of this popular platform, even if you are a complete newcomer to it. There are seven main modules in this course, which includes 159 videos in all. Various other bonuses are on offer as well.
As you'll gather, this is a huge and highly professional software product and training resource. And during the launch phase, which runs until the end of October, it is on offer at a massively discounted price of $27 (about 17 UK pounds), after which it goes up to $67. It will still be an amazing bargain at that price, frankly.
But as I've worked with Dave Guindon before and am a fan of his software, I have persuaded him to offer some additional bonuses to anyone buying via my special AmaSuite 3 Partner Bonuses page. They include no less than ten pre-loaded Amazon WordPress stores, various useful plugins, and a tailor-made Amazon WordPress theme. Just order via this page and you will find all these extra bonuses in the AmaSuite 3 members area once you are logged in.
As I said in this recent blog post, now is really the ideal time to be promoting Amazon products as an affiliate, not least because you get commission on all products that are bought during a visit via your link - and if someone does all their Christmas shopping at the time, you could end up earning a very tidy sum.
Being an Amazon affiliate clearly has many advantages for writers. Not only does it give you an extra income stream from your own books and e-books, it can also provide an excellent sideline (or even primary) income in its own right. If making money this way is something that interests you, I highly recommend buying AmaSuite 3 at the low launch price now.
If you have any comments or questions, of course, please feel free to post them below, and I will do my best to answer them!
Today I am pleased to bring you a syndicated article from Erica Martin. In it she interviews book marketing expert Lynn Serafinn about how authors with limited budgets can best publicize their books or e-books. I hope you enjoy it and find her tips helpful.
E-book author Erica Martin interviews book marketer Lynn Serafinn about her top marketing tips for authors with a small (or non-existent) marketing budget. Next to writing a great e-book, effectively marketing your e-book is probably the most crucial…
Kindle Perfect Review Review Traffic is a new product from Bolaji Olatunde and Shola Abidoye. It is designed to help Kindle authors get more visitors to their sales pages through the power of reviewing on Amazon.
Bolaji and Shola were kind enough to allow me a review copy of their software, so here's what I found...
Kindle Perfect Review Traffic comes in the form of a downloadable zip file. Once you have unzipped (decompressed) it, you will have a folder containing five files. Double-clicking on the .exe file will then run the software. This is not the most professional way to install and run software, but it works well enough. You can always create a shortcut to the .exe file on your desktop if you like, of course.
The software guides you through a twelve-step process of creating a high-quality book review. The first step is shown in the screen capture below. As you will see, this involves inserting the title of your review, and (as with all the steps) instructions and tips are provided at the bottom.
You can see a larger version of this image by clicking on it (use the back button on your browser to return).
Once you have entered the text in question, you can click to go to the next step. Note that you can skip any step if you like (some are really only relevant to fiction books). You can also go back to earlier steps if you decide to change them.
An additional feature is that you can access lists of 25+ persuasive openers and 100+ action verbs by clicking on More Options at the top of the screen. These struck me as more suitable for non-fiction books (whereas the main software seems more orientated toward fiction) but it is nonetheless a useful extra feature. I also like the fact that the lists are displayed via Google Docs, which means that Bolaji and Shola will be able to expand them in future.
Once you get to Step 12, you can save your review and copy and paste it to Amazon (the review publishing process is not automated). Tips and advice on doing this are provided, and your review will be stored in an HTML file on your computer.
You can watch a video demonstrating the entire review writing and publishing process below.
As ever, if you are receiving this review by email or RSS, you may need to visit my blog to see the video.
You might ask how creating great reviews will help boost sales of your own titles. The answer is that Amazon allows - and indeed encourages - reviewers to incliude links to other books within their reviews. If you have written a book similar to the one you are reviewing, you could therefore include a line that, "If you enjoy this book, you might also like [link to your title]." Another possibility would be to put your name at the end of the review, followed by "Author of [link to your title]".
Bolaji and Shola argue that so long as you produce a high-quality review, nobody is likely to object to this - certainly not Amazon, who cross-link between titles all the time. And the book's author is unlikely to object if you have produced a comprehensive, high-quality review of his or her book. If you tried using the technique with short, low-quality reviews, though, you would risk being branded a spammer and having your account closed. This is why the high-quality aspect is so vital.
I have actually used this technique myself in a small way in the past - see my review of Coronallium Conundrum by David W. Robinson, for example (N.B. This e-book does not appear to be available on Amazon any more, but the link to my review should still work). This product opened my eyes to how it could be used to much greater effect when reviewing top-selling titles.
Even if you don't choose to insert a link in a review, you can benefit in other ways. If you create top-quality reviews, you will start to be noticed, by readers, other writers and Amazon themselves. This can have many benefits in terms of authors contacting you asking for reviews, offering to review your own books, and maybe suggesting joint ventures. If you have a writing blog or other website, it can also help drive more traffic to it via your profile.
Overall, I thought Kindle Perfect Review Traffic set out a very interesting strategy I hadn't seen discussed much before. The software isn't the most professional I have seen, but it does provide an excellent step-by-step template for producing reviews that people are likely to enjoy and rate highly (thus ensuring they are displayed prominently by Amazon).
If you choose to include a link to your own e-book in a review of a best-selling title, it seems to me that this could potentially drive a lot of traffic to your own sales page. And although it is specifically targeted at Kindle authors, you could just as well use this method for reviewing print books, or indeed promoting them.
Kindle Perfect Review Traffic is on a launch special offer on The Warrior Forum. It is on a slowly rising dimesale, with a curent price of around $12.50 (about 8 UK pounds). I would expect the price to rise significantly once this launch phase is over.
Finally, I should mention that you will also be shown a "One Time Offer" before you buy. This is for a rebrandable version of the software, which (among other things) you can give to outsourcers if you wish. It's not going to appeal to everyone, and is certainly not essential, but if you are of an entrepreneurial inclination it is worth considering. The OTO sales page has more details.
This is a concise guide to three different techniques you can use for plotting any fiction-writing project. It is partly based on one module of my Write Any Book in Under 28 Days course.
Although it's a Kindle e-book, you don't need to be a Kindle owner to download or read it. Amazon has a wide range of free apps that will allow you to read Kindle e-books on your PC, Mac, tablet or smartphone. Please see this blog post from a few months ago for more information about this.
In this recent post I reviewed Non Fic Pic Pro, a new guide for authors who want to break into the lucrative world of children's non-fiction picture-book writing for Kindle, from Amy Harrop and Deborah Drum.
The review generated a lot of interest, and I know that a number of you went ahead and bought (and I've not heard from anyone who was disappointed).
However, one or two people have asked me about the special offer (apparently I mustn't call it an OTO), which I wasn't able to review in advance. This is for a software product or "app" called Non Fic Pic Automator, created by Rob Howard and Lina Trivedi. Buyers also get a selection of manuals and videos on Kindle e-book creation by Rob and Lina.
I'm pleased to say that Amy and Debbie have now arranged for me to have reviewer access to the special offer as well, so here is what I found about this...
Non Fic Pic Automator is a web-based tool you can use to create children's nonfiction picture books for Kindle, as described in the main course. Essentially, it provides a series of boxes or fields (some prepopulated with standard text you can edit as you wish) for the title page, introduction, conclusion, last page, and so on. You can also have as many content pages as you like. These are described as "sections", and comprise a title, image (which you upload from your computer), and text. Full editing and formatting facilities are available, including editing in HTML.
Once you have everything as you wish, you can preview it in your browser, and all being well click to publish. A Zip file is then created, ready to be uploaded via Kindle Direct Publishing. All the images you include will automatically be optimized for Kindle, incidentally, ensuring that they display at the correct size and the files are kept as small as possible (to minimize your download costs from Amazon).
You can watch a video demonstrating how the app works below...
As ever, if you are reading this post by email or RSS, you may need to visit my blog to watch the video.
I haven't actually used the software to publish a book yet, but based on my initial testing I am very impressed with what it can do and the time it can save, especially if formatting books for Kindle is not your strongest suit. In my view, this is a better, faster method for creating your e-books than editing the template provided by Debbie and Amy in the main course. And the extra editing features built in mean that you could use it for other types of book as well (it would be very good for recipe books, for example).
I have only two very small criticisms. One is that the menu headings within the app have bright red backgrounds, which personally I always associate with error messages! Also, I think the full formatting options should be shown by default, with the option to hide some, rather than the opposite, which actually applies. Neither of these things matters in the least once you are used to the software, of course.
In addition to Non Fic Pic Automator, you also get the following bonuses. To save time I have copied the list from the sales page.
Rob and Lina’s Love and Sex Romance Book Training - How to Write Hot Romance Fiction Quickly - Sold for $7
Love and Sex Training Videos - Watch Us Write a Book Live! - Sold for $17
Kindle Klinic - Complete fiction writing clinic! - Sold For $7
Kindle Klinic Live Over the Shoulder - Watch as Lina Actually Writes a Book! - Sold for $17
The first of these is a 20-page report in both PDF and Word formats. It's well written and attractively designed, and takes you step by step through planning a romance story or novel (despite the title, there isn't anything I would call erotic discussed). It's a useful guide - perhaps a little formulaic, but then I guess many romantic fiction stories are!
You also get two e-classes. These are one-hour videos in which the authors expand on the guidelines set out in their report and build up an outline of a romance story using mind-mapping software. It's interesting stuff, although you might want to fast-forward through the last bit of the second video where they are making a pitch for a product you have already bought! You also get a copy of the finished mindmap in PDF format.
The other bonus you get is access to Kindle Klinik. This is actually a complete video course in writing fiction for Kindle. The videos cover dialogue, description, foreshadowing, plot, and so on, and there are also videos in which Lina takes you through the process of writing one of her own stories (which you can download and read separately if you like). Kindle Klinik is a general course in fiction writing for Kindle - it is not limited to writing romance.
Overall, although at $47 it's a bit more expensive than the main Non Fic Pic Pro, I do recommend giving serious consideration to picking up the special offer as well. The main attraction, to my way of thinking, is the Non Fic Pic Automator app. This is a powerful tool which appears to be ideally suited for applying the strategy set out in Amy and Debbie's guide (though it could equally be used for other types of book as well). The bonuses from Rob and Lina are nice, but will mainly be of interest if you also aspire to write fiction for Kindle (and especially romance).
Finally, a quick reminder that the price of Non Fic Pic Pro will be rising to $17 on 31 October 2013, so if you want to get it for under 10 bucks I recommend buying now. I am not sure whether the cost of Non Fic Pic Automator will also be rising then.
Any comments or queries, of course, please feel free to post them below and I will do my best to answer them.
Non Fic Pic Pro is a new guide for authors who want to break into the world of children's non-fiction picture-book writing for Kindle. It's been launched today at a low (under $10) special offer price.
Amy and Debbie were kind enough to allow me pre-launch reviewer access to Non Fic Pic Pro, so here's what I found...
As with many of Amy and Debbie's products, purchasing gets you access to a members area, which is hosted on a private Wordpress site. I like this method of product delivery, as it means vendors can provide a range of resources (not just a single manual) and they can all be easily updated at any time. Just just don't forget to make a note of your log-in details!
From the Non Fic Pic Pro members area you can access all the course materials. From the homepage you can download the main manual, which is a 17-page PDF. This explains that the focus of the training is on creating non-fiction picture e-books for children, typically in the age range 3 to 8. The manual reveals the type of book that does well in this market, and makes the point that such books are actually quite easy (and fun) to research and write.
The manual goes into some detail about researching topics for your book. It includes links to spreadsheets created using KD Suite (an excellent tool for Kindle research and marketing, which I reviewed in this post). The spreadsheets are provided in HTML form and are therefore interactive: clicking on a book title (for example) will take you to the Amazon sales page for the book concerned. Multiple spreadsheets are included for different categories of picture book. Spending a little time studying these will open your eyes to the wide range of topics you could write about.
The manual goes on to to look at areas such as pricing, writing, picture research, and so on, with advice on how to outsource some of these tasks if you wish. If that sounds a lot to cover in 17 pages, it's because in many instances links are included to videos, spreadsheets, checklists, additional reports and so on in the members area. This is really where the advantages of using a membership site for product delivery become apparent.
In addition to all this, you get a Microsoft Word document you can use as a template for your own picture books. This is actually one of Amy and Debbie's own children's picture e-books, about a father who is a superhero. I did slightly wonder why they used a fiction title to provide a template for non-fiction, but I presume they had their reasons. In any event, it's a standard Word file, and thankfully in .doc format rather than the dreaded .docx.
Obviously, the idea is that you use this as a starting point for your own e-book, replacing the pictures and text provided with your own. Advice is given about doing this in a video in the members area (though it's hardly rocket science), and there are also two more PDFs with book and image formatting tips you can download. Amy and Debbie make the point that with picture books it's very important to optimize images to reduce their size, or you could end up being charged extra download fees by Amazon (thus cutting into your profits).
Finally, there is advice on uploading your book using KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing), including a separate PDF devoted to this topic.
Overall, I thought this was an excellent value (especially at the launch price) product that should get you started in this potentially lucrative field. There is a little bit of overlap with the authors' earlier product Fast and Cheap Storybooks, although that product focuses more on fiction, and it also has a bit more information about image editing (less likely to be needed with non-fiction books). Both are genuinely useful in their own right, though.
One other thing I should mention is that there is a "One Time Offer" with Non Fic Pic Pro for some software called Non Fic Pic Automator, created by Rob Howard and Lina Trivedi. This wasn't available to reviewers in advance of the launch, but judging from the video and other information on the offer page it does look well worth considering. It is a tool that should help you create optimized children's picture books (as discussed in Non Fic Pic Pro) ready for upload via KDP in the shortest possible time.
Finally, I understand that the low launch price will only apply until October 31 2013, after which the price will almost double. So if you feel that you could benefit from this product, don't wait too long!
If you have any comments or questions about Non Fic Pic Pro, as ever, please do post them as comments below.
If you're reading this blog, it's quite likely you have a book or e-book on Amazon. If that's the case, you should be promoting it extra vigorously right now. And, specifically, you should be promoting it as an Amazon Associate (as Amazon calls its affiliates).
There are various reasons why promoting your book as an Amazon Associate is a good idea. The obvious one is that any sales generated through your link will attract commission from Amazon. Assuming you're earning royalties on sales as well, in effect that means you'll be getting paid twice over for every sale.
But there's another particular reason to promote extra hard via Amazon just now, and that's because you will receive commission from Amazon for ALL purchases made by a customer who visits the store via your link.
And in the coming weeks, in the run-up to Christmas, Diwali and Hanukkah, many people will be buying multiple items as gifts. If they do some or all of their gift shopping via your link, you will earn multiple commissions.
Even so, if someone spends a lot of money on a visit (and it happens at this time of year) the returns to you as the referrer can be substantial. Darren Rowse (aka Problogger) regularly lists surprising products people have bought from Amazon on visits via his links. Here's one eye-opening list he posted a while ago.
If you're not an Amazon Associate already, you can easily join by scrolling down to the foot of the Amazon homepage, clicking on Associates Program, and following the instructions to sign up. Note that you will need to join each national store's Associates Program separately to promote there.
Once you're in, Amazon have a huge range of banners and widgets you can use on your blog or website. They include, of course, simple image ads such as the one below for my latest Kindle e-book on Amazon.com...
You can also have all manner of other widgets, including slideshows, word clouds, best deals boxes, and so on. Here's an example of a 'best deals' widget (optimized for Electronics).
You can even have an Amazon search box, such as the one below. This allows your website visitors to search the whole of the Amazon store concerned - and again, if they make any purchases, you will be credited with the commission.
Note that if you are receiving this post by email or RSS, you may need to visit my blog to see the sample ads and widgets.
Of course, it's possible that all you want is a simple text link. Oddly enough, this isn't as straightforward as you might think with Amazon. For text links Amazon give you about five lines of code which are designed to display your link in a pre-formatted, Amazon-approved style.
If you don't want their complicated and largely superfluous formatting, here's a simpler alternative. Use the following framework to construct your link:
The ASIN is the unique identification number every product on Amazon has - you will find this in the product details. My own affiliate ID on Amazon UK is nickdawswriti-21, so a basic text link for my e-book above for the UK store would look like this: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00DP8HKLQ/?tag=nickdawswriti-21
One slight drawback of this method is that if your visitor is located somewhere with a different national Amazon store, they won't automatically be redirected. If you are targeting a multinational audience (very likely online) you might therefore like to use the free A-FWD service. This creates a single link that detects where visitors live and automatically forwards them to their own national store, with your affiliate link included if you have entered it for the store concerned.
This is a three-day event at The Millennium Gloucester Hotel Conference Centre (pictured below) in London SW7. It will run from 1-3 November 2013.
The event will be attended by over 100 literary agents, literary consultants and publishers, as well as authors and aspiring authors.
Speakers/trainers include NYT best-selling author Mark Anastasi, millionaire self-publisher Christine Clayfield, international book marketing expert Mark Coulson, inspirational business coach and author Tracy Repchuk, leading online marketing strategist Armand Morin, and many more.
Stephanie says that during this 3-day event, you’ll discover:
How to write your book in under 28 days.
How to turn your book into a New York Times bestseller.
How to get your book into high street stores like WH Smith.
How to get your book in front of 1 billion airline passengers.
The normal price of a ticket to The Millionaire Bootcamp is £297, but for a limited time you can book an 'Early Bird' ticket for just £37. And yes, you read that correctly, just thirty-seven UK pounds, equivalent to around $60 US or 44 Euro.
If you can get to London on the dates in question, this looks amazing value to me. You also get over £1000 worth of bonus gifts for signing up now, including a free place on Launch Your Book with a BANG, a one-day workshop in Oxford with Stephanie herself in January 2014.
I honestly don't know how Stephanie is able to offer all of this at the ridiculously low price of £37, but I double-checked and that's definitely the deal that's available now. I'd imagine the networking opportunities at the event alone should be worth many times that modest investment.
Anyway, good luck if you do decide to register for the Millionaire Bootcamp for Authors. Please return to this post afterwards and leave a comment about your experiences there!