It’s been 4 months since I joined book review platform Reedsy Discovery and my experience so far has been mostly good. Not only have I read some pretty cool books but I’ve also connected with some awesome authors. Let’s take a look at what I’ve read recently…
American Blasphemer by John Gillen is a potential read of the year for me and what a way to arrive on a new book reviewing platform. This contemporary/literary fiction story reads like an autobiography and its a dysfunctional one at that. If you’re okay with profanity, swearing and sexual stuff that’s turned all the way up to the extreme you’ll probably enjoy this one although it’s about way more than that trust me. It’s a series of encounters that make up an anti bible of sorts told through the eyes of someone trying to make their way through life in modern America. Like my review said it’s “a masterful labour of modern honesty, told through the lens of a lonesome soul trying to figure out this world and life… “
Rites of Passageby Chad Lehrmannis “a twisting unpredictable creature feature set in a small town with a big secret…“ and it’s my second Reedsy Discovery Review. Although I am a sucker for small town horror this one did have quite a few tropes usually seen in the genre along with it being the typical ‘chosen one’ story. Saying that this book did enough to hold my attention, it’s well paced and the pages fly by. Full review here.
Senescenceby Denver Scott is another potential read of the year and was also my first 5 star Reedsy Review because it’s an incredible deep dive into our potential future. Science fiction and non fiction merge in what is a plethora of all things cosmos and wider science that looks at the many aspects of humankind. Just what will our future look like? Find out with this highly readable and accessible book that boldly goes where not a lot of books have been before – seriously check it out. My full review is here….
The Dreamophile’s Diary by Shazrina is both unique and surreal which is exactly what dreams can be like – the very essence of that weirdness is captured quite well in this series of short stories all based on, you guessed it, dreams. “Life is strange indeed, sometimes what you most desire becomes futile for you the very next moment…” You can read my full review here….
Noxious by Bruce Knapp is a book for those who love their horror with variety. From witchcraft to possessions and everything else that could possibly be enveloped by the shadows of the macabre this one is a page turner. Of course Bruce Knapp is no stranger to the Hall of Information as last year we reviewed the short stories that make up his Night Audit series and now he’s back with another series all based around the town of Blackwater. Watch this shadowy and dark space! Full review here….
And so that wraps up Issue 1 of what I hope will be a quarterly exploration of Reedsy Discovery Reads. If you’re on the platform come and say hi. Until next time, peace out!
A tale that walks the fine line between survival and madness through solitude…
Young author J.P. Biddlecome tells a story through the eyes of sole character and teen ‘Mark Poe’ in what reads like a diary style account of exploration. It pulls you in quickly and then comes the realisation that he’s lost. ‘Mark’ has been turned around in the Oregon forest and so survival along with trying to keep things together becomes the priority.
The setting is wonderfully described and literally feels as if its closing in. This is written by someone who knows the setting well and so combining that with the urgency to survive comes the real story. From the need to build a fire to quickly diminishing food rations, staying warm and even Coyotes, our narrator faces many different challenges that all centre around survival and in the end he see’s it as a sort of game.
This solitary feeling coupled with a slow burn madness ‘Mark’ experiences makes for a readable and mostly enjoyable read. There are some moments where the narration style comes across as repetitive; ‘I did this’ and ‘I did that’ and similar phrases do appear often and this is something that could have been executed with a little more variety. Being able to show a reader as opposed to telling them is limited in this setting because of the solitary feeling but still it kept my attention throughout and made for an interesting read. For those who enjoy a shorter reads about survival in a wonderfully described setting will find this book well worth a look.
It’s a polarising subject amongst many writer folks over on the Tweet machine but are the various lifts and self promo posts worth it? Are you going to jump on board the follow train or are you a soloist? That’s what this entry looks to explore so let’s get into it….
What exactly is a writers lift?
Well, in simple terms, a writer/creator will put up a post on Twitter asking other writers and those in the community to share their links or profiles to accumulate more followers with a view to generally boost their presenceon the platform. Using the right hashtags might get a huge number of engagements and I suppose this is what the whole deal is about – getting more follows or engagement or even both. Some follow trains can grow semi out of control with a deluge of fellow wordsmiths looking for follows and numbers as opposed to actual engagement so is the concept of a lift just an empty attempt to gain?
And most importantly (for some) does it work?
Many writers and twitter users straight up refuse to take part in lifts and self promo tweets as they believe it just results in empty follows and temporary engagement. To them it appears to be a waste of time and lets face it, procrastination is the demon that comes in many forms. They also tend to clog up feeds and some folks just get sick and tired of seeing them time after time. Me; I’ve put that hashtag on mute a few times just to see more variety in my feed.
The big questions…
What’s the point in just having only writers in my following?
How am I going to sell to people outside that circle if there is nobody other than writers following me?
They are both great and logical questions but my response is simply those who refute lifts and self promo tweets just haven’t used them in the right way to get the right engagement. The ‘right engagement’ is what makes the whole social media success thing tick. Good engagement is also a wholesome nice feeling. Good and right engagement will eventually drive book sales – why? Because the that type of engagement has resulted in plenty of other authors getting those sales including me. Let’s break that down with a worked example.
Worked example – the centrifugal author force carousel analogy!
An author on Twitter who regularly does the self promo Saturday post has a book coming out soon. Their following has increased because of regular lifts but not everyday – this author uses moderation and knows their following/audience. This person always return follows and so therefore have retained most of them.
They decide to put that new book on pre order, it’s stand alone and the genre has a broad appeal.
Because this author does regular promo posts and also engages with fellow authors, they become well known in the community as a supporter of fellow authors. Their renown is what will sell above anything. People choose to invest in a person long before their book.
Some authors agree to help that author or pay them back by pre ordering the new release.
The centrifuge begins to turn – that being authors hopping on the carousel of support for one another , this carousel begins to spin faster accumulating more authors who jump on also and pre order the book. Everyone at this point who is engaging right will be getting more followers. The whole deal starts to gather speed and follows.
By the time the book is released, the pre order numbers help it climb the amazon charts where it could hit ‘best seller’ status where a host of non writer people see it and eventually buy it, hence jumping on the carousel also. This centrifugal force started with lifts and promos from an author, then got fuelled by authors with the final resultant being non authors buying a book.
Of course this analogy uses the concept of centrifugal force which is something that is designed to separate things, so eventually the authors who pre ordered separate from the non writer buyers who may possibly come back to buy another title. Fellow writers have played their part and helped another in need. The concept kind of relies on all of us helping one another for it to work… those who refute lifts are just looking at it from just their own benefit…
The big picture is here that if authors work together at the initial stage of a book release that work will eventually break a book past the stratosphere and out into the depths of space where many a meteorite lurk (regular readers). All of this big picture beginning with lifts.
My own case study…
You can probably gauge that I’m in favour of lifts and promo post on twitter but let’s back that up with some actual truth. Back in 2018 I really didn’t have much of a clue about engagement until I stumbled into putting a post up on twitter asking the wider community for book recommendations – this was just when I had started to review indie books on here and I needed books to read. The response was in the thousands… That night I re installed the twitter app on my phone and got to work adding books to my list. In 2019 I reviewed 40 books from that tweet I put out. The numbers for my blog alone rocketed which you can see below… those results came from a lift post! There are authors from that post whom I still connect with today and regularly engage with. They make my social media experience just about bearable sometimes…
The sceptics or yet to do it properly types…
Those who are sceptical and straight up dismissive of lifts and promo tweets probably haven’t used them in the right way. They most probably see this through the eyes of ‘how can this help me’. It can help you but only if you first help others, give it a go and remember the big picture. The only way to find any success as an author on social media is to engage and not be an island. This isn’t just all about the individual getting sales, I mean I didn’t think many of us were in this for the money or sales but instead we’re in this to get better and connect. The word social in social media is there for a reason, go be social and share your links, engage in lifts, follow back, retweet others’ pinned tweets and even do your own lifts. Lean into it and you will be rewarded. Authors together are one hell of a force. Since early August I have gained nearly 600 followers on twitter by doing self promo Saturdays.
The whole lifts and promo tweet thing is just one slice of the cake. Following through will lead to the right engagement. Take someone’s book that appeals to you from a lift and buy it. Write a review and blog about it. Not only have you read a book, but you have material to blog with and an opportunity to connect further with an author who will appreciate your genuine engagement. You might even make a friend and then repeat the process. That’s what I’ve done over the years to moderate success. As mostly small time authors we are in the business of trying to get anything over zero and lifts might just lead to those book sales even if it is one or two.
It’s an opportunty to vent…
Constantly sharing the link to your books on your own feed doesn’t work. It might take you a while to realise that but as a rule these days I don’t generally share the link to my books on social media on my own feed. Writers lifts and promo posts are a great way to do that instead, so let that urge to share build up and vent it on those lifts!
More recently the twitter beginner who may not even be an author or blogger has realised these lifts are a great way of getting engagement. They will normally and emptily tweet ‘any book recommendations’ knowing desperate authors will share their link hoping it drives sales – it normally doesn’t and these intruders are trying to take advantage of that to boost followers. Not only does this put genuine folks into disrepute but it cheapens the whole deal. Luckily you can see them from a mile off and my advice, don’t engage, save the lifts for the real writers.
I used to be a writers lifts sceptic until I tried it and now most Saturdays I will run one. The detail is key in any post, I normally include a promise to follow folks back and RT pinned tweets. Offering an engagement incentive is a great way to get some results along with the right hashtags. Here’s my most recent one as an example.
And here are the results after 24 hours…
Final final thoughts…
Lifts and promo posts are worth it, but moderation is key along follow up engagement. At the end of the day it’s all about what your intentions are? Genuine engagement will win the day! This may have appeared to be an investigation post on the surface but it sides with doing lifts because they can be very beneficial.
There have only been a handful of times in my life when something has happened that cannot be explained. Many of us have experienced the same; from the cliche odd bump in the night or the feeling of being watched to even something lurking in the corner of your eye. I’m a sceptic and even after this encounter and another after that, I still am. But to this day it still remains unexplained, so let me take you back to the summer of 2013…
Like the year previous I had joined my significant other and her family on the annual summer trip to the south of France; a beautiful place all year around; in the summer the weather is a hot as Spain and this is accompanied with the forest backdrop that could be England but way more rural.
Okay so things are actually looking really good right now which is both weird and oddly satisfying. With everything I have thrown at this year in authoring and blogging just short of the kitchen sink, it might have worked. Seeing plans come to fruition albeit successfully is a somewhat liberating feeling both personally and for the wider world. Its also rather new territory. We’re not there yet, but just days from this year’s epic conclusion for me…
Authors and creators have a place in this world, even if said world does appear to be falling to shit, rising back to better and then down to shit again. Riding that wave has presented those who want it with an opportunity and a learning curve. That opportunity is something I fell ass first into and since dusting myself off and trying to get back up, several hands of several truly wonderful supportive people were there to pull me towards somewhere I’d never imagine; satisfaction in this constant battle to get your work read as an independently published author.
People have actually taken on my work, they have responded to those efforts, there are even those, although just a handful that have pre ordered a book that represents all of my story telling efforts up to this moment. This is such a far cry from efforts previous feeling like they fell on deaf ears. People are out there and they have my back, this is both heart warming and emotionally gratifying. From the dramatic ride of high’s, lows, reversions to zeros and everything in between this next book resonates that journey and reflects everything I’ve ever been through. The characters who are a diverse range of souls are going to have to band together in order to find some kind of resolve, like me finding you, loyal reader, a supporter and ally in this deal whom I am nothing without. It’s complicated, fun, surprising and now satisfying – all words that I use to describe this wider journey, the latter only really appearing recently.
Of course I’m not done yet, and perhaps I never will be, maybe that’s the secret. Marathon runners are always looking to better their PB and maybe that’s what I will always look to do, except I’m chasing the words, trying to get better, trying to get home. Either way recent times as an author in 2020 are worth smiling about, there isn’t much to be happy about these days, perhaps I’m lucky and the satisfaction will wear off, until then wish me luck, although that’s only a portion of the path to success. Consistent, creative content is what has really driven it, along with my work being accepted into open arms of those who have supported me. Thank you and bring on next week, the most important book release of my life.
‘I know every mile will be worth my while. When I go the distance, I’ll be right where I belong… ‘
Some truly wonderful folks that seem to believe in me have pre ordered book six and since this tweet the numbers have increased! You guys rock!
September 2020 has been a record breaking month with over 100 paid book sales for the first time. Of course I’ve shared my marketing methods here and here. I also have plenty of other book and blogger resources . The plan right now is to finish drafting an authoring and blogging guide book which should be released in the first half of next year….
As you can see the viewing figures are exceptional in the past few years and they jumped by four fold compared to the first years we shall name the tumbleweed era. Much of this success is a combination of a few readers believing in me and putting out consistent content. Ride that wave bloggers, when the views come in, capitalise on it. I’m lucky enough to have loyal readers!
As always thanks for scrolling and for the support. See ya in the next one…and go pre order Darke Awakening.
Ah promoting the books, I’ve done this a lot recently and we’re back again to share methods, results and all things about the promotion of books. This is also a sequel to another post I put out at the start of the month and this time it’s literal…let’s dive in!
The aim of this post/who is this for…
The main aim of this post is to share results of a recent book promo run by informing other authors how I did it. This is with a hope they can use this info to sell some books. Much of this stuff can be applied to books that are stand alone, series, fiction or non and for all authors of every level – the self help guide book is coming next year… For those not interested in the full detail or a recap from last time just skip down to the actual start of this post…
To set the scene, at the beginning of this month I promoted the e version of my thriller/horror ‘Cemetery House’ by making it available for free via Amazon. My main aim consisted of two objectives in this promo run:
1. To get as many free downloads for the book as possible + some discounted sales after.
2. To promote the wider ‘Order of the Following Series‘ it is a part of. The next book in this series (Darke Awakening) drops at the end of this month.
The results of this promo run were unexpected and again quite good. While I have shared the results in the previous post the numbers have gotten a little better since.
A good promo run will give books long term visibility after and drive sales, sometimes these sales come days or weeks later.
Updated numbers from part 1…
Free downloads of ‘Cemetery House’ during this run
Sales of ‘Cemetery House’ after the run @ 99 cents:
Sales of other books in the series during and after the run
Sales of other books in my backlist
Part 2 actually starts here…
Okay so part 2 and book promo run 2 of September 2020 would see the overall aim widen slightly, and with all book promotion runs it’s important to set out a clear aim from the start. Lessons from promo 1 meant that we know when advertising a book that is part of a series, the other books in that series will probably sell also. This time around, the newest book in the series set for release at the month’s end was also available for pre order.
Aims of this promo
The aims of this promo were as follows:
1. To get as many free downloads for ‘Darke Blood’ a vampire occult thriller which is part of the wider Order of the Following series.
2. To get as many sales for other books in the series which are discounted @ 99 cents or equivalent in major Amazon markets.
3. To drive attention towards the next book in the series ‘Darke Awakening’ which is also a direct sequel to the book being promoted for free and will be available to pre order at the time of promo and the hope is to actually get some pre orders.
Strategy – how was I going to do it?
Like the previous promo this book would also be available for free through two days but this time on a Friday and Saturday (18th and 19th of September). My choice to use Saturday was to coincide the promo with Twitter’s #Shamelessselfpromosaturday which in recent times has driven a lot more traffic and attention to my posts. The writing community of twitter is something you should plug into, especially for promotion and engaging with other like minded writers. My following is above 4k and so this works as a good free boost. You can see the results and what that tweet looks like below.
Of course one method of social media is not enough to amplify my voice to tell the world this book is out there and free so I would also put out a post on my Facebook page to 500 likers and a blog post to nearly 500 followers on the 2nd day.
My main point of attack in this promo would be as usual to use a range of paid and free book promotion websites that advertise a book using extensive mailing lists and their own sites to reach readers.
Lets look at how it went, then I can share which promo sites I used and what factors of success were…
Darke Blood reached #3 in the Amazon UK Occult chart.
Darke Blood reached #1 in the Amazon US Folk tales/ Myth collections chart.
6 of the ‘Darke Blood’ sales on this day were free downloads that overlapped while 6 were sales at 99 cents.
The best moment of Day 3 was a single pre-order came through for ‘Darke Awakening’ which means that all three aims were now ticked.
Analysis/Factors of success
This was a decent promotional run with exceptional sales of other books in the series most of which were from the US. There was a time when I had only sold 13 or so books in the US and now that figure has been blown wide open. To get a pre order for a brand new release is also huge, although it’s only 1, it’s better than zero!
A huge factor in getting all of these sales and the pre order is listing the books in a series together via Amazon. This boosts visibility big time, especially when one of them is free!
Sub Factor of Factor 1
Just before the promo I did a little sneaky and amended the blurb of ‘Darke Blood’ on Amazon…. This is what I put before the blurb…
Coming September 30th – the next book in the Order of the Following Series – ‘Darke Awakening’ Pre Order Available Now!
At the time of the promotion the 3 books in the series had reviews/ratings in the two major Amazon territories (UK and US). Established books with some reviews always do well when given away for free and those that weren’t free had a good amount of reviews also which helped. Reviews and ratings are useful for selling books as they tell a reader how good/bad a book can be. Getting reviews takes time and so do numbers like this…
Price is a huge factor in this whole deal and I’m not just referring to everyone liking a freebie. The two other books are both priced at 99 cents or equivalent and this helped, perhaps if they were priced higher they would have been downloaded less.
The promo of ‘Cemetery House’ which was covered in part 1 resulted in 4 new ratings on Amazon soon after which directly effected the decent sales of it during this run. This is proof that one promo run can help another.
For this promo I used a few sites that are UK based and this directly drove more sales in that territory.
Great looking professional book covers, investing money and a social media following are all factors that help books get sold. These days I also use book banners which I made myself but for a little money you can probably get some made professionally and they are a nice little touch.
As you can see the two free promos side by side. The first one was indeed more successful and the top factor for that was labour day weekend in the US – people were looking to probably enjoy their weekend with a book or two.
The graphic below with free sales removed looks all the more impressive. Not only does it show paid sales after and during the promo but to date this is the best month of sales I have ever had in nearly 5 years of being published. Context: Upon release of Book 1 ‘Open Evening’ it sold 41 copies in the first month…
Book Promo sites
This whole deal sits on the shoulders of paid advertising and book promotion sites who help amplify that voice so folks can hear you shouting about your work. These are the ones I used:
Bookbongo – Cost $5
Ebook Booster – Cost $20
Bookrunes Cost – $25
Freebooksy (Thriller promo) – Cost $40
Bookzio – FREE
Book Hippo – FREE
Book angel – FREE
As you can see I invested less money for this promo which may have effected it’s overall success but I’m only willing to spend so much..
Traction takes time when it comes to books. Over the years I’ve learned a bunch and partially mastered all of the factors that go into selling them. I still firmly believe the best way to market and sell a book is to write another and another until you have a backlist, so keep going writers! Whether or not a book is part of a wider series doesn’t seem to matter.
Getting that one pre order made the whole thing a little sweeter, selling a brand new title is hard especially when it’s the 4th book in a series but the launch is hopefully bolstered by that handful of pre orders. The purpose of this promo was to help establish more readers for that series, did we accomplish that? Time will only tell…
Thanks for taking the time to read, I hope you got something out of this post that will help your writing and book promotion journey. Peace out!
A concise, insightful and reassuring read that’ll help you cope with the irrational fear of flying…
Peter Brandt has compiled an easy to read book that aims to reassure anyone with fear related reservations about flying with knowledge and facts. Many of us fear the unknown or what we don’t understand and even things that we cannot control – all of which fall under the fear of flying umbrella and as someone who personally doesn’t particularly enjoy flying this book has helped quell those feelings.
The bigger picture is mentioned at the start, that being this world is worth exploring and seeing, a fear of flying shouldn’t stand in the way. What follows are concise and to the point chapters that explain everything that is to explain about flying from the basic science and anatomy of aircraft to the subjects that might cause some unease to the nervous passenger. There are tips and small details throughout that make the whole narration feel calm and reassuring whether it be about turbulence, tips on where to sit in order to avoid noise or to get a smoother ride, what those noises could be, the engines and how they work, loss of power and the wider power systems, cabin crew and their responsibility, pressurisation of the cabin, air traffic control and even the anatomy of that window you’ll sit next to.
All of the subjects are delivered like a text book that anyone could pick up and read. This is the type of read that’ll serve as a resource time and time again for anyone who faces any anxiety. There were even some facts that I didn’t know about modern aircraft which adds to the concept of fighting fear through knowledge. Throughout Peter Brandt draws his knowledge from extensive experience in the aviation industry while also delivering many of the explanations through images and easy to follow diagrams along with quoting fellow professionals experienced in flying. I particularly appreciated and enjoyed the tips section nearer the end that focuses on a breadth of flying subject matter all of which looks to help anyone fight their fear of flying.
‘Be a pioneer. See the world and leave your worries behind’
Maximum book promotion activated! Okay, some y’all might be getting tired of me making another book available for free, but I promise you this is probably it for a while… and to paraphrase Thanos, this is a necessary sacrifice…
Darke Blood is Free to download today and for the final time this year. So if you like mystery thrillers with spooky small town vibes full of shadows and the unknown then this this the book for you! Halloween is coming after all! And books are a safe past time that involve not breathing on anyone…
This promotion is serving as a parallel opportunity to hopefully generate some interest in the sequel Darke Awakening which is currently available on pre order, some of you have already reserved a copy and have been amazing supporters. I look at the numbers of pre orders and sigh less now, so thank you but wait there’s more. The rest of the books available in the Order of the Following Series are currently discounted – this is also a limited time offer and quite soon they shall all resume their normal still very affordable prices…
Scroll down for a brief blurb of Darke Blood and the links…
Blake Malone is a stranger in an even stranger town and has come to sleepy Darke Heath for a new start, that is until his past becomes a mysterious blur and then he meets a creature of the night called Caitlyn Turner. Together they lift the lid on the Heath’s shadowy vampiric secret and look to fight the forces of witchcraft and darkness. With a cast of multiple likeable characters and a story full of twists, turns and revelations Darke Blood is a must read thrill ride of mystery.
Everyone else put this into your regional Amazon: B072LPNX3P
Let me know if you grab a copy or if you grab any of the books in the series, remember to leave a review. Thanks for reading, peace out, rock and roll man! Have a great weekend! I’m not at work for once, there will be snacks…
An enjoyable yet sinister tale of the macabre that’ll keep you turning pages…
There is so much going on in this book and I found myself quickly turning the pages as the events build, unfold and eventually intertwine in what is a clever fusing of several stories that centre around the strange dark small town known as Blackwater. Bruce Knapp has delivered a tale that is dark, sometimes gruesome and wholly satisfying and the setting is delivered well and through the multiple characters. Throughout, the story evolves along with those characters as everything plays out.
“Grim shadows loomed over Blackwater, trying to conceal the hatred, but the evil continued to grow like a fungus, a black poisonous mould…“
We see those who are looking for faith, some with lust on their mind, religious types, businessmen, lawmen and even those on the fringes of the occult and witchcraft. Hell, there is even something monstrous lurking in the local ‘Suwanee’ river, this tale really is one of variety that even feels like an anthology piece that is all wrapped up in less than a 200 pages and with short but sharp chapters which keeps those pages turning and the flow consistent.
Main character ‘Robert Thompson’ seems to have a dark cloud following him and his choices soon lead to a shocking and gruesome turn of events. It was at this moment I really became invested in the story. Robert is a changed man from this point and his journey is filled with sometimes graphic brutality to himself and others. Of course that cloud hanging over him has a name (‘Nyx’) and plays an influencing role in the form of possession.
Eventually we see the ‘Noxious’ part of the story which kicks in later on but has been cleverly built from the early stages. Of course Robert’s journey culminates during this satisfying finish for a book with so much variety in the horror genre. The town and setting of Blackwater feels like a character in its own right, it’s always there, hanging over everything with a certain darkness. This makes for a great atmospheric feel to the reading experience.
Those who like multiple character led stories with elements of the occult, witchcraft, paranormal that’s a little graphic in places will enjoy ‘Noxious’. Everyone else may just end up in the ‘Otherworld’ on Leap Day.
4 Stars – this review first premiered via Reedsy Discovery. Reviews left on both Amazon and Goodreads.