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Friday, March 29, 2013

Review: Hands Off Books by Rachel Rofe


Hands Off Books is a new guide by Kindle publishing expert Rachel Rofe that is currently on launch special offer.

It's been creating a lot of buzz online and has already sold nearly 1000 copies. So I thought I should buy a copy myself, to see what all the fuss was about.

As the name indicates, Hands Off Books is a guide to creating Kindle e-books quickly by getting other people to provide some or all of the content for you. Seven different methods are covered. As mentioned above, it's currently on a launch special offer at $9.95 (around 6.50 UK pounds).

Paying gets you access to the members website. Before you reach this, though, there is a one-time-offer for another of Rachel's products, Rolling in Reviews. This sounds good as well - it's a guide to getting (many) more reviews for your e-books - but I decided to pass, as I was mostly interested in the main guide.

You can, incidentally, still buy Rolling in Reviews later on, but you may of course have to pay more for it.

The members area itself is clearly set out, with sections for each of the seven methods accessible from a menu on the right of the screen. The seven sections are as follows...

1. Get 'em begging to write for you
2. The expert arm-twister
3. Cashing in with Craigslist
4. Outsourcing with a quickness
5. A small army of people promoting for you
6. Insta-partnering with your idol
7. Kindle blogging for big bucks

For each idea you get a fairly concise explanation, and a selection of examples, links and (sometimes) videos. It's a quick and easy read, and some of the ideas are genuinely eye-opening.

It wouldn't be fair to give away too much, but I particularly liked Method 5, which involves creating a contest to encourage people to submit work to you. Rachel has a very clever twist on this idea, which ensures that everyone involved has a stake in promoting your book and ensuring that it is successful. And no, that doesn't mean paying them all royalties!

Most of the methods are best suited to non-fiction writing, but some of the ideas could certainly be adapted for fiction as well. Method 5, again, could be successfully used with fiction as well, I'd have thought.

As well as the seven methods, there are a couple of bonuses. One is titled "How to choose a great niche" and has some good tips on this important topic. The other contains template agreements you can use or adapt when engaging outsourcers (as in Method 4).

Overall, I thought Hands Off Books was a thought-provoking compendium of clever techniques an author could use to build their publishing portfolio quickly. Not all the techniques are entirely "hands off" and all will still require a certain amount of work on your part - but against that many of them will also ensure that your book is noticed and promoted by other people too.

If you're looking for a project to start (and maybe even finish) over Easter, Hands Off Books could fit the bill. In any event, you might want to note that the launch offer runs for seven days only (a period that started earlier this week), and after that the price is due to double. So if you think this guide might be of value to you, it makes sense to buy now before the price increases.

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Thursday, March 28, 2013

How to Read Kindle E-Books Without a Kindle

A few times recently I've heard people say that they would like to read a Kindle e-book, but can't because they don't have a Kindle themselves.

In fact, however, not having a Kindle is no obstacle. Amazon wants Kindle e-books to reach the widest possible audience, and so they have made a wide range of apps available to ensure that you can read them on almost any device.

To see the range of reading apps available, visit the homepage of your country's Amazon store (e.g. Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk). In the left-hand menu under "Shop by Department" place the cursor over "Kindle" and in the flyout menu that appears click on Free Kindle Reading Apps.

A page showing what apps are available to you will then appear. The screen capture below shows the top of the relevant page for Amazon UK (other country's stores may differ slightly).

As ever, you can see a full sized version of the image above by clicking on it.

As you can see, there are apps available for smartphones, computers (both Mac and PC) and tablets, meaning that the great majority of popular platforms today are catered for. Simply click on the link you require and follow the on-screen instructions. Note that you will need to enter your Amazon account log-in details (email address and password) so that the software can be synchronized across all the devices you use.

Even though I'm a Kindle owner myself, I also have the Kindle for PC app on my desktop computer. Although I mostly read Kindle books on my Kindle (surprise!), sometimes with non-fiction books in particular I prefer to read them on a full-sized monitor, as this can make it easier to view diagrams and illustrations. In addition, my Kindle model has a plain e-ink display, so I only get the benefit of colour on my PC.

Using the display options (see below) on the app you can set various options to make your reading experience as pleasant as possible.This includes changing the brightness, font size and number of words per line. You can also change the background colour to sepia or black if you prefer. I can't imagine many people choose the latter!


Yet another advantage of viewing Kindle books on a computer is that it's easy to take screengrabs if required, e.g. if you want to print out a table or diagram (see my recent blog post about printing from a Kindle for more discussion about this).

One other option available in some countries (though not the UK apparently) is Kindle Cloud Reader. This runs in your web browser but looks and acts just like an app, and you can continue reading even if you lose your internet connection.

Kindle Cloud Reader works in Firefox, Google Chrome or Safari (though not Internet Explorer). As well as Windows PCs, it will also run on devices using the Mac or Linux operating systems. If Kindle Cloud Reader is available to you, you should see it listed as a separate item on the Kindle flyout menu mentioned earlier.

A huge range of Kindle e-books is now available, and most (especially those from independent authors) are very competitively priced. In addition, many titles are advertised free for limited periods to help boost their profile, so you could quite easily fill up your Kindle library while paying very little.

In any event, it's usually possible to sample Kindle e-books using the "Try It Free" feature, which allows you to read the first 10 percent or so. This can be a good way to determine whether you want to spend the (probably) small fee to download the rest of the book.

To sum up. then, it really is well worth while visiting Amazon's Kindle Store, even if you don't own a Kindle yourself!

Finally, while I was researching this post, I came across this video by Dr Andy Williams, which also discusses how to read Kindle e-books without a Kindle, and shows you as well using screen captures. I thought you might find this a useful additional resource, so I've embedded it below.



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

Incidentally, Andy is a successful Kindle author himself, and you might like to check out his excellent Kindle Publishing and Formatting guide in particular. Here's a link to this title's page at Amazon.com and here it is at Amazon.co.uk.

If you have any comments or questions about reading Kindle e-books without owning a Kindle, feel free to post them below, and I'll do my best to answer!

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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Ten Reasons to Sign Up for ScriptFever Today!

As you will know if you're a regular reader of my blog, ScriptFever is the challenge hosted on my forum to create a script (or scripts) of 100 pages for any dramatic medium in the month of April.

It's our attempt to fill the gap left after ScriptFrenzy closed earlier this year.

ScriptFever is getting very close now, so I wanted to give you one more chance to sign up if you haven't already. And to persuade you to join in the fun, here are seven great reasons for getting involved...

1. ScriptFever is free to join.

2. No previous experience of scriptwriting is needed (there will be plenty of help and advice available).

3. It's a great opportunity to challenge your writing skills and maybe discover a talent you didn't know you had.

4. You will have the support and encouragement of all your fellow participants to complete the challenge - lots of accountability partners to ensure you stay on track!

5. Everyone successfully completing the ScriptFever challenge (and proving it) will receive an attractive certificate they can print out.

6. They will also get a "Winner" logo in .jpg format they can proudly display on their blog or website.

7. And, thanks to the generosity of our sponsors WCCL/The Self Development Network, EVERYONE who completes ScriptFever successfully will receive a $10 voucher they can use against the cost of any of the company's wide range of writing courses and other products.

8. At the end of the month you will have a complete script (or scripts) that you will be able to polish and hopefully submit. Hollywood may be calling!

9. You will have the opportunity to bounce ideas off your fellow participants, and maybe even find writing partners or collaborators.

10. You will have the huge satisfaction of completing a substantial writing project within a month.

What more incentive do you need? You can read more about ScriptFever in this post I wrote when we launched the event. You can also click here to visit the dedicated ScriptFever board on my forum. Time is running short, so please do sign up now!

If you have any questions about ScriptFever, of course, please feel free to post them below.



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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Review: $5 Book Promotion by Amy Harrop and Deborah Drum


$5 Book Promotion is a new, multimedia course aimed at self-publishing authors who need help with formatting and (especially) promoting their books or e-books.

The authors, Amy Harrop and Deborah Drum, are Kindle publishing specialists. I've mentioned some of their other excellent products such as Publisher's Review Accelerator and Book Trailer Treasure Map 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 $5 Book Promotion, so here's what I found...

First off, this is a web-cased course, hosted on a WordPress site. This is an increasingly common approach, and has the advantage that course material can be continuously updated and expanded. As I've said before about such courses, just be careful to make a note of your log-in details!

$5 Book Promotion is arranged in five main "workshops" (plus a short introductory module). The workshops are as follows:

1. Publishing Essentials
2. Author Platform
3. Communities and Social Media
4. Specialiized Promotions
5. Repurposing Content

Each workshop has one or (usually) two videos of 15 to 20 minutes in length. These are screen-capture based and voiced by Amy or Debbie.

I was pleased to see that the videos are accompanied by transcriptions, though the authors strongly recommend that you watch the videos through at least once or you won't see the examples they are referring to.

At the end of each workshop is a set of checklists for each topic covered (Module 1 covers seven different topics, for example, including book cover, book description, formatting your book, and so on). The checklists are provided in Word format, contained within a Zip wrapper. They set out concisely the key points you need to consider for the topic in question.

In addition, an outsourcer spreadsheet is provided for each workshop. This is where the reason for the name $5 Book Promotion becomes apparent. Amy and Debbie suggest that you don't try to handle every aspect of your book promotion yourself, but rather stick to what you enjoy and are best at. For each topic, therefore, they recommend a range of potential outsourcers on the popular Fiverr website.

As you probably know, Fiverr lists people who are willing to take on specific tasks for just five dollars. The spreadsheets include links to the Fiverr members in question and their job (or gig) titles. To give you an idea, I've copied part of the spreadsheet for Workshop 1, covering book cover design, below.

As always, you can see a larger version by clicking on the image.

Using low-cost outsourcers for some tasks can greatly boost your productivity and ensure you focus your time and energy on the tasks you are best at. Although many people are understandably wary of spending money hiring other freelances, in practice - as Amy and Debbie show - investing just a small amount in outsourcers can pay huge dividends in terms of raising your book's profile (and sales).

In addition to the course itself you also get various bonuses, including access to a live question-and-answer session with the authors. This is all explained on the $5 Book Promotion sales page.

Overall, $5 Book Promotion lives up to the high standards set by Debbie and Amy's previous products. It's not for complete beginners, but if you have self-published titles that aren't getting the sales you hoped for, it could be just the resource you need to build your royalties at an ever-growing rate.

If you have any comments or questions about $5 Book Promotion, as ever, please feel free to post them below.

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Friday, March 22, 2013

Triple Reminder: ScriptFever, Guest Blogging Contest, Facebook Plug!

A quick post today to remind you about three current (or forthcoming) opportunities.

ScriptFever is the challenge hosted on my forum to create a script (or scripts) of 100 pages in the month of April. It is our attempt to fill the gap left after ScriptFrenzy sadly closed this year.

Anyone is welcome to join ScriptFever. There is no charge, and no previous experience of scriptwriting is needed (there will be plenty of advice and support available). The only requirement is that you must be a member of my forum, but it's quick and easy to join if you haven't already.

You can read more about ScriptFever in this post I wrote when we launched the event. You can also click here to visit the dedicated ScriptFever board on my forum. If you fancy a new challenge in April, please do sign up now!

I wanted to remind you as well about my contest to win a copy of my brand new course Blogging for Writers.

All you have to do for this is submit a guest post for my blog on a subject that would interest writers and aspiring writers. I've only had one entry so far, so there may not be as much competition as you think. Anyway, the closing date is 31 March 2013, so there are ten days left to get your entry in!

You can see full details of my guest posting contest and how to enter in this post.

Finally, have you written a book or e-book, and are you on Facebook? If so, don't miss the opportunity to promote your title free of charge on my Facebook business page today. Strictly speaking, this offer is only open on Friday 22 March, but if you don't see this post till the weekend, I might stretch a point for you.

Already quite a few people have posted links to their books, and there are some fascinating-sounding titles among them. Even if you don't have a book you want to promote yourself, therefore, you might still like to visit my Facebook business page and check them out for yourself. Here's a link to the actual post, in case you can't find it.

Do feel free to "like" my page as well while you're there, by the way!

Any comments or questions, as ever, please do post them below.

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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Review: Kindle Bestseller Secrets



Kindle Bestseller Secrets is a new, multimedia course from successful Kindle author Derek Doepker. It's currently on launch special offer via the Warrior Forum.

On the sales page Derek reveals how, between December 21 and 31 2012 , he accumulated over $5,383 in royalties from one single Kindle book in the highly competitive health and weight loss category (and yes, he provides proof of his best-selling status).

Kindle Bestseller Secrets has been getting a lot of good feedback, and was also voted WSO [Warrior Special Offer] of the Day. In any event, it's hard to argue with that level of success, so I decided to buy a copy to see for myself what useful advice Derek had to share.

As with a growing number of e-courses, Kindle Bestseller Secrets is hosted on a password-protected Wordpress site. There is a lot to be said for this, as it means the course can include audio and video as well as the usual written content. It should also mean that it can be regularly updated and expanded. Just don't forget to keep a record of your log-in details!

What you actually get is a six-module course taking you through every aspect of the Kindle writing and publishing process. The modules are as follows:

1. Success Secrets
2. Research
3. Book Setup
4. Cover Creation
5. Publishing
6. Marketing

Each module contains between one and nine lessons. These are a mixture of audio, video and text. A typical lesson comprises a 15-minute video, followed by links to resources discussed in the video, followed by additional notes to clarify or expand on the points covered. All of the lessons are quite concise, and wouldn't take longer than 30 minutes to complete.

There is also a highly informative 26-page PDF of "Quick Tips". Here's just part of one tip on using KDP Select, for example...

"Select the days you'd like to go free, preferably at least a week in advance to let the various kindle freebie websites know about it. I suggest running all 5 free days in a row which is what I did. The goal is to break the top 100 of all free books, and doing so increasing downloads exponentially. During my first few free days, I had about 1200-1500 downloads a day. After I broke the top 100, I had around 5000 downloads the last day alone. Running a longer promotion allows you to build momentum and give people a chance to see your marketing efforts. The alternative is to run separate 2 and 3 day promotions. If you'd like, you can select a 3 day free promotion, and then if sales are high add two more days. If sales are diminishing by day 3, you'll be able to save your other 2 free days."

Derek says the "Quick Tips" guide is intended as a supplement to the course, but as an experienced Kindle author myself I actually found it one of the most useful components. This is partly due to the fact that it mentions a range of useful resources I haven't seen before, and also (as in the example above) includes practical advice based on Derek's own Kindle publishing experiences. This kind of advice based on real-life experience is priceless, really.

Even that is not the end of it, though. You also get various bonuses, including video case studies, author interviews, and more. You also get membership of a private Facebook group, where advice and mutual support from other Kindle authors is available.

Finally, I should mention that there is also an OTO (One Time Offer) for an additional module called Ninja Tracking Methods. I didn't buy this myself, but I gather it includes information about advanced tracking methods (with codes provided) for tweaking conversion rates, uncovering specific 'hot' keywords that drive buyer traffic, plus a way to distinguish the types of traffic that originate on Amazon or outside of Amazon.

I'm not entirely sure how useful this would be to me - I guess I need to study the marketing modules in the main course in more detail - but for the moment anyway there is a link to buy it from the KBS members area, so I may upgrade later. It's only fair to add, though, that Derek says he's only going to sell a limited number of upgrades, after which the offer will be closed.

Overall, I thought Kindle Bestseller Secrets was an excellent product and well worth the modest - though slowly rising! - fee. Obviously, if you're an experienced Kindle author, some of the advice will be familar to you. Even so, I am willing to bet that - like me - you will pick up some invaluable tips. And the multimedia format makes it easy and enjoyable to absorb the lessons (though I'm glad that there is plenty of written content as well).

Kindle Bestseller Secrets is aimed more at people who want to write nonfiction, though much of the advice could also be used with fiction. Nonetheless, if you are looking for a guide to writing Kindle novels, something like Geoff Shaw's comprehensive (though much more expensive) Kindling course might suit you better.

If you have any comments or questions about Kindle Bestseller Secrets, please feel free to post them below and I will do my best to answer them.

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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

How to Set Up Google Authorship (and Why You Really Should)

If you write any online content, Google Authorship is something you can't afford to ignore.

Authorship is Google's program for verifying the identity of online writers. Once you have claimed Authorship, any time one of your articles or blog posts appears in someone's Google search results, they will see your picture and a link to your Google Plus profile.

You can see an example linking to one of my blog posts below.


This has obvious advantages in terms of giving your posts added visibility and increasing the likelihood they will be clicked on.

In addition, though, using Google Authorship will boost your credibility and expert status with Google in topic areas you write about regularly. It will also help your original articles rank higher than sites that have (legitimately or otherwise) copied your content.

A further advantage is that if a user returns to their results list after reading an author-tagged search result for a certain period of time, Google will add three additional links to similar articles from the same author below the link they originally clicked. How cool is that?!

So far there is no evidence that articles with Google Authorship automatically achieve higher placings in search results - but as Authorship helps build your reputation, it is likely that in the longer term it will assist you in achieving higher search-engine rankings as well.

Before you can set up Google Authorship, you will need two things: a Google Account and Google Plus (also written Google+) membership.

If you use any Google services that require you to log in - Gmail being the best-known - you will have a Google Account already. Otherwise you can sign up here. It's free and only takes a moment.

Google Plus is Google's attempt to create its own social network to rival Facebook. Although it has failed to capture the public imagination in the way Facebook has, according to this recent article on ZDNet it now has over 343 million active users. That puts it ahead of both Twitter and YouTube (which Google also owns, incidentally).

Google Plus is already tightly integrated with other services such as Google search, which is a good reason to open an account in itself. You can check out my Google Plus page here, incidentally.

Assuming you have a Google Account, joining Google Plus is simple (and free). Just visit the Google Plus website to sign up. The Digital Unite website has detailed step-by-step instructions to joining Google Plus, if you need them.

With that done, you are almost ready to set up Authorship. There is just one more thing to do, which is to ensure that you have a good quality portrait photograph that Google can display in search results. You can upload or change this via your Google Plus profile page.

Setting Up Authorship

There are two main ways to set up Authorship. The first, and simplest, can be used if you have an email address on the same domain as the blog or website you want to claim Authorship for.

For example, if you want to claim Authorship for articles you write on www.mywebsite.com and you have an email address of writer@mywebsite.com, you could use this method.

In that case, visit the Google Authorship page and submit your email address to Google via the online form. Google will send you an email containing a link to click in order to confirm that this is indeed your account. Once you have done this, Authorship will be set up for the domain in question. The root domain will also be added to the list of items in "Contributor To" on your Google Plus profile page.

No matter how many articles or posts you publish on this domain, you should only need to do this once. For Authorship to work, however, it is essential that every article or post you write includes the word "by" (without the quotation marks) followed by your name exactly as it appears in your Google Plus account.

Note that doing this will also add your email address to the Work section of your Profile. By default this is viewable only by your Circles (people you have chosen to follow in Google Plus). You can keep your email entirely private if you wish, however, by editing the visibility settings in the Work section.

Of course, this method can't be used where you don't have control over the root domain, as is the case with many blogs on free hosting services such as Blogger and WordPress.com. The same may apply with blogs you have written guest posts for. In that case, you will need to use a two-step method.

First, go to your Google Plus profile page and click on "About". Scroll down a bit and you should find a box headed Links. I've copied mine below...


As with all the images in this post, you can see a full-sized version by clicking on the image concerned.

Click on Edit at the foot of the box, and click on Add Custom Link in the "Contributor To" section. You will then be able to add the website concerned to the list of sites there.

That's not enough for Authorship to work on its own, however. This is where Step 2 comes in. You will need to add a piece of code on the web page concerned that identifies you as the author. Here is the code I use:



The URL in the middle is that of your Google Plus Profile page, so you will need to navigate to this and copy it from your browser's location bar. Obviously, the reference number of your page will be different from mine, but otherwise if you are on the correct page it should look similar.

The other crucial element to include is the ?rel=author tag directly after your Profile page URL. This tells Google that you are claiming Authorship for the post or article in question. The anchor text you use doesn't really matter. I've used my name in the example code above, but you could put "Google Plus" if you prefer. In that case it will render as in the following example: Here is an Authorship link to Nick Daws' Google Plus page. Either way, it should work without any problems.

To test that you have set up Authorship correctly, go to Google Webmaster Tools Structured Data Testing Tool. Enter the website's URL in the box and click on Preview. A results page should then appear showing whether Authorship is working or not (and how it has been verified, using email or rel=author markup). Here are the results I got for this blog when I tried doing this just now:


As you will see, it wasn't possible for me to use the email method for my blog, so I used the rel=author method.

Naturally, with guest posts you have written in the past, Authorship won't work unless the necessary code is inserted. You might therefore want to write to the owners of the blogs concerned asking if they would be kind enough to add a link to your Google Plus page using the "rel=author" tag.

And that's it, really. In this post I have tried to show you all the basics you need to know in order to claim Authorship of your blog and guest posts. If you need more help, Google Webmaster Tools has pages titled Author Information in Search Results and Link your content to a Google+ Profile using "rel=author".

Good luck setting up Authorship. I hope that in this article I have convinced you that it's worth doing, and it isn't rocket science!

If you have any comments or questions, please post them below, and of course I'll help if I can.

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Saturday, March 16, 2013

Guest Posting Contest: Win Blogging for Writers!


As you may know, Blogging for Writers is my brand new course, published by The Self Development Network.

It's a blockbusting guide to everything you need to know to leverage your writing skills to maximum effect as a blogger, and it's already getting excellent feedback from buyers.

To celebrate the launch of Blogging for Writers, I thought it would be fun to have a contest, and I managed to persuade my publishers to donate a copy of BfW as the prize.

As it's all about blogging (naturally), I felt that the contest should be blogging related. So here's the deal - I want you to send me a top-quality guest post for my writing blog!

Just like regular guest posts, it must be on a topic that will be of interest to writers and aspiring writers, and between 500 and 1000 words long. You can also (if you wish) include a link to your own writing-related blog or website in a byline or "resource box" at the end. Note that the byline/resource box does NOT count toward the wordcount of the post itself.

In fact, the rules of the contest are pretty much summed up in my Guest Post Guidelines, so I strongly recommend that you read these before entering. The only difference is that for the purposes of this contest, for obvious reasons, I won't be accepting any initial queries. But if you want to see a couple of guest posts I have accepted in the past, check out this example from David Robinson and this one.from Joanna Penn.

Clearly, I won't be able to judge this contest anonymously, but will attempt to be as objective as possible whether I already know you or not! To that end I have prepared a judging schedule as follows, where a maximum of ten points can be allocated on each of five criteria...

1. Quality of writing (grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc.)
2. Abiding by my guest post guidelines
3. Originality
4. Practical value to writers and aspiring writers
5. Style and entertainment value

So it's simple enough. There is a maximum of 50 points available in total. The entry achieving the most points will be the winner and receive a free copy of Blogging for Writers. Their article will also be published on my blog, along with their byline or resource box pointing to their writing blog/website if they wish.

At my discretion, I may also offer to publish one or more other entries as guest posts if I feel they would be of sufficient interest to my readers. All entrants will retain copyright in their articles, of course. I will accept up to two entries from any one person.

How to Enter: Ideally, just copy and your paste your entry on my Contact Me form (note that you may need to disable pop-up blockers for this to display properly). Ensure that the subject line reads Guest Posting Contest Entry.

If that's not possible for any reason (if your post includes graphics, for example) write to me via my Contact Me form saying that you wish to submit a post for the Guest Posting Contest and I will send you my email address by return. I prefer not to publish my email address online, to try to reduce the amount of spam I receive.

The closing date for this contest is Sunday 31 March 2013 at 5 pm GMT, so you have over a fortnight to create and submit your guest post (loads of time!). I will reveal the winner of Blogging for Writers on this blog the following week, and hopefully also publish their entry at that time.

Finally, it's not a rule of the contest, but you might like to post a comment below once you have submitted an entry, so I know to look out for it. And, of course, if you have any questions about the contest, feel free to post them as well.

Good luck, and I'm looking forward to receiving lots of potential guest posts!

P.S. Don't forget - I'm still offering a free module from my forthcoming course Writer's Cashpoint to anyone who buys Blogging for Writers via my blog. See this post for full details!

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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Kindle Singles Pro: a New Guide to This Lesser-Known Outlet for Kindle Authors

Kindle Singles Pro is a new guide for Kindle authors that has just been launched on the Warrior Forum.

I haven't seen the Kindle Singles opportunity discussed much till now, so I thought I'd buy a copy to check it out.

Before I give my review, I should perhaps clarify that Kindle Singles are short titles, typically between 5,000 and 30,000 words. Amazon say: "We're looking for compelling ideas expressed at their natural length--writing that doesn't easily fall into the conventional space limitations of magazines or print books."

You can't just self-publish a Kindle Single. Before any title is accepted for the program, it has to be assessed by Amazon's editors. But if your book is accepted, the advantages are considerable. To start with, you get the full 70% royalties rate, even if your book is priced below the usual $2.99 threshold. And even more important, Kindle Singles are heavily promoted by Amazon themselves, through emails, recommendations, and direct to Kindle devices. Kindle Singles also get noticed in the wider world - both online and offline - and can help considerably in building your author platform.

Kindle Singles Pro is a guide that aims to show authors what sort of books have the best chance of being accepted as a Kindle Single, and how to maximize your chances of being accepted. It's by Paul Coleman, a  successful Kindle Singles author and founder of promotional website BookPumper (more on this in due course). In the video below, Paul explains more about the Kindle Singles opportunity.



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

The main Kindle Singles Pro guide takes the form of a well-written 22-page PDF. This discusses the Kindle Singles program in detail, and explains the types of book that (based on Paul's experience and research) stand the best chance of being accepted. A wide range of books, including fiction, may be suitable, but Paul particularly recommends creating a "rant". You'll need to read the guide to discover exactly what he means by this, but it is basically an opinionated essay that sits on the cusp of politically correct and politically incorrect. If you have strong and controversial views on a certain issue, you may well have the basis of a saleable Kindle Single.

The manual covers a range of techniques you can use to boost the chances of your book being accepted on the program. Obviously, writing a compelling book is the most important, but Paul also talks about the value of generating advance interest in your book, and how to write its Amazon description. There are actually some great tips here for all Kindle e-books, not just Singles.

Getting advance reviews and publicity is also covered, as is what to do if your application is rejected initially (yes, it's possible to reapply). There are good tips on pricing, as well as thought-provoking advice on the best way to leverage your sucess with Kindle Singles to help promote your other Kindle titles.

Having read Kindle Singles Pro, I think the approach recommended will work best if you are the sort of person who has strong opinions on certain subjects and enjoys expressing them in writing. To be honest I'm not sure if I'm ideally suited, since as I get older I find that on many issues I see both sides of the argument! Possibly the method will work best for young (or old) firebrands with views and causes they are passionate about promoting. Still, there is no reason why anyone couldn't come up with a suitable topic, so long as they have at least one subject they feel strongly about.

I should say that as well as the main KSP manual, you also get a number of bonuses. Curiously, many of these are not advertised on the sales page at all. I won't go through them all, but two that look particularly valuable (and have been sold separately in the past) are Kindle Revolutions and Kindle Simple System. These both cover the basics of devising and creating Kindle e-books.

Kindle Revolutions has more detailed information about formatting and publishing your e-book, while Kindle Simple System, as the name suggests, sets out a system for researching niche e-book topics and publishing them on Kindle. More experienced Kindle authors may have seen some of this information before, but it's still well worth a read.

Finally, Paul is offering anyone who buys Kindle Singles Pro via this launch offer a free promotional package on his BookPumper website. The normal price he charges for this service is $97. As well as having your title publicized on the site (once it's available from Amazon), this also includes being featured on BookPumper's official Facebook page and their Twitter account. This will quickly put your book in front of thousands of potential buyers.

Overall, I think Kindle Singles Pro is a good-value guide that should help anyone hoping to crack the potentially lucrative Kindle Singles market, and the free promo package is a great bonus. As with all Warrior Special Offers, this one could be withdrawn at any time, so I recommend investing in a copy now if this is an opportunity that interests you.

If you have any comments or questions about Kindle Singles Pro, of course, please feel free to post them below.

UPDATE: Unfortunately, not long after I posted this review, the launch offer closed. Please accept my apologies for any disappointment. As I said above, WSOs can be withdrawn at any time, but this one vanished even sooner than I anticipated!

It's not all bad, though. You can still get Kindle Singles Pro, and much more besides, by joining Paul Coleman's ePub Heroes forum. This costs $19.72 a month, but if you just wanted KSP you could join the forum, download it (and anything else that takes your fancy), and then cancel, all for a lot less than the standalone price. I will try to review ePub Heroes sometime soon.

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Friday, March 08, 2013

Download This Complimentary Report on E-book Promotion Today


Today I have an advice-packed report on e-book promotion for you by e-book authors and product developers Amy Harrop and Deborah Drum.

Regular readers will know I'm a big fan of Debbie and Amy, and have reviewed several of their excellent products in the past (e.g. Publisher's Review Accelerator and Book Trailer Treasure Map).

They have just released a PDF report titled Underground Book Promotion, which is aimed at authors of Kindle e-books and other e-books. Readers of this blog can download a complimentary copy by clicking here (or click here if you just want to view it).

Underground Book Promotion contains some great tips for any author on how they can promote their e-book, particularly (though not exclusively) through the popular Goodreads website. There are some excellent tips here that I definitely intend to put into practice myself. I haven't used Goodreads to promote my books very much in the past, but that's all going to change now!

Underground Book Promotion also mentions Debbie and Amy's new $5 Book Promotion Workshop, which I will be reviewing on this blog soon. This is a big multimedia course, covering all aspects of e-book promotion (and more besides). It also reveals how you can use the power of low-cost outsourcing to maximize the returns from your marketing campaigns. If you enjoy reading Debbie and Amy's free report, do check out their $5 Book Promotion Workshop also.

And, of course, if you have any comments or questions about the report - or e-book promotion generally - please feel free to post them below!

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Thursday, March 07, 2013

Sign Up Now for ScriptFever!


If you're interested in scriptwriting but never seem to get around to doing it, I have some exciting news for you!

On my forum at myWritersCircle next month, we are hosting ScriptFever. This is a challenge to create a script (or scripts) of 100 pages for any dramatic medium in the month of April.

ScriptFever is modeled on ScriptFrenzy, a challenge that ran every April on its own dedicated website. Unfortunately ScriptFrenzy closed down in 2013 for financial reasons. A lot of people have been left disappointed by this, so we decided to create our very own version on myWritersCircle.

Like ScriptFrenzy and NaNoWriMo, ScriptFever is a challenge, not a contest. There will be no winners or losers. Or more precisely, everyone who completes the challenge will be a winner, because they will have at least the first draft of a script they can polish and hopefully in due course submit.

You could use ScriptFever to create a movie screenplay, but that is by no means the only option. Some other possibilities include a stage play, TV drama, radio play, sitcom, comic book, podcast, video, animation, and so on. You might also choose to use ScriptFever to create a number of short scripts (comedy sketches for TV or radio shows, for example).

At the end of April, we will issue printable certificates of achievement for everyone who successfully completes the 100-page challenge, and their names (or forum IDs) will be added to a permanent roll of honor on the forum. You will be required to submit your script/s as evidence, but this will not be used for any other purpose and obviously you will retain the copyright in your entries. We also hope to create a logo or avatar participants can use to show that they are taking part in ScriptFever or support it.

If you would like to join in ScriptFever, please add a reply as soon as possible to the Sign Up for ScriptFever topic (obviously, you will need to be a registered member of myWritersCircle and logged in to your account to do this). Please say what project/s you plan to work on in ScriptFever, so that members know who is working on what.

I hope ScriptFever will be a catalyst for some great new writing. By signing up you will be joining a group of other writers who are also planning on completing the challenge, and available to provide mutual support and advice. You can get your questions answered, give (and offer) feedback, encourage anyone who may be flagging, and maybe even find potential collaborators for future projects. Plus, of course, you will have multiple accountability partners, to ensure you really do get that 100-page script completed on time!

Finally, if you are looking for a useful resource to help plan and write a movie script, I should just mention that our sponsors WCCL (The Self Development Network) produce an excellent CD-based course called Movie in a Month. As well as providing a step-by-step method for creating your first draft script in 28 days, it includes a screenplay formatting guide, plotting guide, and over 850 actual movie scripts and treatments. It's an invaluable resource for any aspiring screenwriter. You can find out more by clicking through here.

If you have any questions or comments on ScriptFever, as ever, please do leave them below!

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Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Blogging for Writers is Launched!


Big news today - my course Blogging for Writers has been released by my publishers and blog sponsors WCCL (The Self Development Network).

Blogging for Writers is a blockbusting guide (I don't do short!) to everything you need to know to leverage your writing skills to maximum effect as a blogger.

Whether you want to attract more readers, generate more book sales, or get more clients for your writing and editing services, blogging has the power to do this. And the same applies if you’re hoping to join the growing ranks of authors such as Zoe Margolis and Tom Reynolds whose blogs have been spun-off into best-selling books and even TV series.

On the other hand, if you simply want to earn a sideline (or even full-time) income to supplement your writing earnings, blogging can do this for you too. And yes, I'm definitely speaking from experience here ;-)

Blogging for Writers is intended both for complete newcomers to blogging and for those who may already have a blog and now want to move up a level and unleash the full power of this highly writer-friendly medium.

And here's a true confession for you. I actually wrote Blogging for Writers a little while ago, and only discovered it had been published when a reader of my Facebook Page, Charles Olsen, posted the following message:
"Almost finished going through your book 'Blogging for Writers' for the first time, preparing to set up a new blogging site. I am finding a lot of great ideas there, so many things that I would never have thought of on my own." 
You can check out Charles' message, and his follow-up where he talks more about the benefits he is enjoying from the course, by clicking here. And, by the way, you can see how astonished I was to discover that the course was out and I hadn't known!

Blogging for Writers covers pretty much everything you need to know about blogging from a writer's perspective. The main manual has eight substantial chapters, each with screengrab illustrations. The chapters are as follows:

1. Introduction
2. Easy Ways to Make Money Blogging
3. Setting Up Your Own Blog
4. What to Blog About
5. From Blog to Book
6. Monetizing Your Blog
7. Attracting Readers
8. Onward and Upward

You also get a range of free bonuses, including my unique 4-Week Blogging Action Plan (to take you "from blogging zero to blogging hero", as WCCL's copywriter neatly puts it!), my guide to writing irresistible blog post titles, a list of 50 niche blog topics with big earning potential, and more.

There is plenty more about Blogging for Writers, including the specifics of what each module covers, on my publisher's information page, so please click through any of the links in this post to find out more.
 
Finally, I like to give my readers an extra reward when buying my courses, so if you buy Blogging for Writers after clicking through from here, I will send you my own personal extra bonus. This is "Make Quick Cash with Fiverr", and it's actually Module Two of my other forthcoming writing course, Writer's Cashpoint

Writer's Cashpoint will contain ten modules on different ways you can "cash in" on your writing skills online. Buy Blogging for Writers through me now, and you can get a free sample of this other course as well before it's even published!

To claim your bonus module from Writer's Cashpoint, click through any of the links to Blogging for Writers on this page and purchase it from my publisher's sales page. Then, when you have received your email receipt, send a claim to me using my Contact Me form and quoting your receipt number. I will check this against my records and email your bonus module within 24 hours.

I am very excited that Blogging for Writers, into which I put many weeks - nay, months - of work, is now available. If blogging is something that interests you (and if you're a writer, I strongly believe it should), I hope you will consider investing in it. Apply the advice it contains and I guarantee it will pay for itself many times over!

If you have any questions, of course, please feel free to post them below!

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