Awesome Recommended Indie Reads 6

Its been a while since I last did one of these but I have been reading again, and most of which were indie books. Let us dive in and take a look at some recent awesome indie reads that I recommend!

Fee Simple Conditional by H.C. Helfand 

A gem of a read about life, love and land…

Full Review

Escaping First Contact by T.S. Beier

Original and imaginative space sci-fi full of depth and immersion

Full Review

The Art of Reading: How Reading Can Help You Become a Better, More Productive Writer by J.D. Cunegan

A relatable and open guide about reading to improve your writing…

Full Review

The Art & Business of Writing: A Practical Guide to the Writing Life by Chris Jones

A valuable easy-to-read resource for the modern writer

Full Review

A Twist in the Rift by Meg Radiant

Original page-turning sci-fi with unlimited portals of potential…

Full Review

Summer of ’77 by Rebecca Amiss

An easy-to-read heart-warming story of friendship and nostalgia

Full Review

And so that wraps up another long-awaited edition of Awesome Recommended Indie Reads. Thanks for stopping by and peace out!

50,000 Views Special

The thing about being busy is that some milestones tend to creep up on you and yesterday the notification came through saying this blog had reached 50,000 views. Let me take this opportunity to thank every single visitor to this site who makes up that number. To be read in a world where everyone online is trying to get exactly that, this is a pretty awesome feeling. This post is dedicated to looking at some fun statistics from the 9 years Lee’s Hall of Information has been operational, you’ll even find a few tips also.

So let us take a look at the individual monthly numbers first. As you can see things started rising at around the midway point of 2018 which was an important year. A year that I began reviewing indie books and released my 3rd and then 4th book

You can see the highest views came last year in March, April and May – this coincided with the pre-order run and then release of my author/blogger/ social media guide Consistent Creative Content.

Tip for authors: When releasing a book, every element of promotion should be at the maximum running up to release. For this case, my social media and blogging endeavors were and in May I hit 10k Twitter follows.

If we dive a little deeper into the individual years you can see more views appeared as I created more blog posts.

You can also see that comments and likes increased with that content. It seems the more you put in eventually the more you get back.

So where did the majority of my all time views come from. Here are the top 10 nations:

Of course there are numerous other places where my readers come from so wherever you are in this world, thank you!

2021 was the best year yet and so where did most of the reader traffic get referred from?

Twitter makes sense as I spend the majority of my social media time there although it is still a challenge to get link clicks on the platform so how did I get so many?

Twitter link tip: Instead of sharing a link in a tweet either drop it in the reply below or just tell your following to click on the link in your bio (you’ll need to put a link in your bio for them to click on). I’ve been doing this for the majority of last year it has got me nearly 6,000 clicks.

And lets take a look at what you guys have been reading. These are some of my most popular posts of 2021:

You can find some of these things over in the Resources section or just search for them via the search bar which should be to the right or below somewhere depending on your browser. Evergreen is the key word when it comes to these posts – basically stuff that can be shared again and again and have appeal over the long term. The top 3 in particular are very much in that category.

Blogging Tip: Most of these posts were published some months ago and have gained more reads by being shared several times across platforms. It’s okay to share older stuff to newer audiences, especially if you have a following which has grown.

50,000 all time views is an incredible milestone and I hope you enjoyed this post. This Hall of Information blog has become my internet home as a creator and you are all welcome anytime! Peace out, rock and roll and blogging man!

Weekly Ramble #132

In 2021 over 20,000 readers visited this blog. A record that stands as the best ever for Lee’s Hall of Information and proof that your words can eventually find an audience no matter how long you have been trying. And to me, trying is all you ever have to do in any vocation to find results.

Good things take time, work and patience and if you are willing to endure the journey of facing zero and the general graft of it all then someday that reward will present itself. That may sound easier said than done, especially now as I sit here with such a great number but those who have been around a while will know this journey has not been easy. From reverting to zero to dealing with the general snooty gatekeepers who I share this literary industry with. I have also found a wonderful and giving audience, you guys, who keep me blogging.

The future of this blog is incredibly bright and after so many years, ups and downs and work, this whole deal is starting to pay off! Thank you for reading and joining me. 2021 is coming to a close but there are just a few more tricks up my sleeve before the sun goes down on it.

Paperback Launch of Consistent Creative Content!

Perhaps it was an oversight for me to offer this book in just digital format to begin with but in that time I have learned many of my readers still appreciate that feeling of holding a real book in their hands. Due to that demand I have taken the plunge of converting my guide book into paperback and it will be available from mid December just in time for gift season!

Do you know a budding author looking for a guiding light in the daunting industry of self publishing? Is the blogger in you ready to dive in but not sure where to start? Do you want to learn how to leverage your social media following into sales?

Consistent Creative Content would make the perfect gift for any writer at any stage because it is packed full of modern resources for the modern writer. Below you will find various snippets and other cool things about the book. Rock and roll man!

Opening Pages of Consistent Creative Content

Basic Blog Content Ideas – A sample from Consistent Creative Content

Tweet Machine Basics – A sample from Consistent Creative Content

BookTube Review of Consistent Creative Content

Instagram Interview where I talk about my journey

Basic Blog Content Ideas

Image by Werner Moser from Pixabay

Even though this Hall of Information is a blog and journey in publishing, its not always going to be about that, and the more diverse your content, the higher chance that passing trade will read it. Now this may contradict my overall advice about branding, but you are the creative boss in all this and diversity in content is sometimes a good thing. In my case, at the time of starting this blog, I was writing science fiction books which are yet to see the light of day, so I needed separate consistent creative content that casual readers could just pick up. More importantly, I needed to write posts that a wide array of readers could relate to.

This can be quite a hurdle for some and might take organisation, depending on how creative you are. Thinking of what subjects could possibly be appealing and compelling for a reader is a challenge. These days, while I have some structure, my ability to think on my feet has improved. As an author who writes with no real plan I’ve become adept at ‘making it up as I go along’ when it comes to some of my blog content. This method isn’t for everyone and it wasn’t always that way for me either. If you do adopt that method, your ability will improve over time by the act of doing – like all writing.

Over the next few years after my first blog post I managed to channel my interests and experiences of life into content. While I did continue to blog about writing and pondering whether I should self-publish, the Hall of Information still needed to operate regularly and be able to reach out to a wider audience.

Readers don’t always want to hear about one thing, variety is a key factor in producing consistent creative content.  

It’s easy for me to say consistent creative content but what am I actually referring to? Although these may appear obvious, here is a list of basic blog content ideas that will reach wider audiences:

Introducing yourself in a creative and fun way;

Book Recommendations;

Current Movie Reviews;

Classic Movie Reviews;

Movie Previews;

Television Show Reviews;

Television Show Recommendations;

Video Game Reviews;

Day’s out/experience Reviews;

Food and Nutrition Reviews;

Product Reviews;

Exercise Regime Reviews;

Politics*;

Current Events;

Mental health and self-care;

Cosplay;

Poetry;

How to Tutorials;

Regular Diary Style Posts;

Book Reviews.

I have highlighted the last two because back when I began blogging there were two subjects I did not think much about or even cover yet proved instrumental to the success of my blogging endeavours and wider writing career. If both are executed right they can be social and lead to better connections across social media.

My Weekly Ramble blog post is a regular diary style account in a few hundred words of what’s currently going through my mind or a reflection of what’s happening in the world. It’s written in a way where each entry stands alone and over the years I have covered many subjects, from receiving less than satisfactory book reviews to the advantages of being a part of the wider writing community. It’s an opportunity to blog, vent and hopefully reach someone who cares. It’s also written in an inclusive way so I confide in my reader – including others is a fun way of still talking about yourself without feeling guilty or being boring. My weekly ramble post is normally the best viewed article of the week.

Book reviews are a key part of my blogging.  

*When it comes to politics and heavy opinion, these are subjects I would advise you steer clear from early on. There are prolific bloggers out there who thrive off controversial subject matters and for those with a smaller following this sort of practice will only hurt that. Heavy opinion/political pieces also attract attention that may not be the type you want, if you want to sell books or get regular views.

This is an exclusive excerpt of authoring and blogging guide book Consistent Creative Content which is out now.

7 Years of Blogging: Here’s what I’ve Learned

Writing books and blogging go hand in hand to me. They have done for seven years now and just last month I was notified by WordPress for reaching that milestone. Time flies I guess… This Hall of Information blog is the central pillar to all of my content and this post is dedicated to everything I have learned in that time. Before I dive in, let me just thank all of you, for joining me here in this space on the internet I call home. You support is very much appreciated!

Last year I put out a similar type of post which then inspired me to write a little self-help book called Consistent Creative Content. Here’s what I’ve learned in seven years of blogging.

Time

The major factor in all of this is time. If I could have incorporated that word into the title of ‘CCC’ I would have.

Blogging takes time, good results take time, finding content takes time… you probably get the picture. If you dedicate time to blogging it will eventually get better.

For those not sure where to start with blogging my basic tip would be to consider your blog as your own personal space to talk uninterrupted about any subject you wish. This brings me to…

Diverse Content – to a certain degree…

Many blogs including mine will stick to a certain theme when it comes to content. You probably won’t see a book blog talking heavy politics often and sometimes it’s good to branch out a little but my advice is to stay in the same content neighbourhood. While my Hall of Information blog started as a journey towards publishing that was fairly limited in what I could blog about. Since then my content has diversified within the realms of publishing. From indie book reviews to interviewing authors on occasion all the way to book promotion results and even just ramble posts that capture what I’m currently feeling. They are all in the same neighbourhood as my original vision but stretch a little wider in appeal. So perhaps trying new things is a good thing but…

New Ventures can take time…

Blogging for me turned a huge corner when I decided to take the plunge into offering Indie Book Reviews back in 2018. What happened the moment I launched that service? Nothing because it takes time to get the word out and build up a trusted reputation. Eventually indie book reviews became what I was known for but it started slowly.

This year I started another new blogging venture of offering space on my blog for guest posts and articles. Again hardly anyone applied but last month 8 posts were from guest authors who shared excerpts, their stories and even the story behind their story. Some of this stuff makes for great reading.

New ventures in blogging can take time but they’ll work eventually. In these two cases both offered an incentive. Incentives are the key to selling and now this month I have started a Patreon. As of right now the amount of Patrons I have is zero, but with a little more work I imagine some supporters will eventually arrive. There will be some more content soon, even some fictional stuff.

Leverage your social media following

Those who know me over on the Tweet machine will know my following has pretty much doubled in the space of a year. If you have a loyal engaged following on a platform you can turn their attention to your blog and drive them to it – this is part of the reason why my blog gets so many views these days. But how, well, this leads to…

Know your audience and write for them…

In July of 2020 this blog had 63 click through’s from Twitter, this year it has 394 and counting. This is because now I write partly for that Twitter audience of writers and bloggers who appreciate my guides and reviews. This already galvanised my existing blog audience which was bookish to begin with. For those with a small audience or none at all this is a fantastic opportunity to write about whatever you feel, if it captures your personality, eventually it will resonate with someone.

Blogging Tip: If you blog with WordPress the social element of connecting with others is already there as everyone with an account has access to a feed that shows you suggested blogs to follow – this is a great way to branch out at the start.

Guest content still takes work…

After nearly a year of pushing a lot of my own content out onto my blog I kind of hit a creative wall. While I still have hundreds of guides to come from my many experiences, I took the plunge in offering space for guest posts on my blog which has over 850 followers. Plenty of authors have since provided me with guest excerpts, stories and reviews but even that takes work. While I might have outsourced the creative element in guest posts, they still take time to check, put together and schedule. There is also a fine art to spacing out guest posts so my audience is not too overexposed to the same thing…

All content all the time may not necessarily work…

Simply, if you want to grow and grow quickly in blogging then produce more content but too much content might have an adverse effect as readers read in their own time so if you are posting daily they might not be able to keep up. Last year and even recently I would post up to 6 times a week which is great for views but the content ranged from reviews to rambles. If you do suddenly ramp up content, be aware of how your audience respond and they will…

Listen to your audience…

I don’t get a lot of comments on my blogs but most of them come from loyal long term followers. They are my bricks and mortar and I do my best to listen to their feedback and engage with them. In blogging most followers don’t unfollow so a follower earned is a follower for life most of the time.

Blogging is a craft to me…

Like writing I can show you to the door and even set you up afterwards for marketing but I cannot physically teach you to blog. That is something you have to find within and working hard to get better will pay off eventually. Your audience may start small but they followed you for a reason, give them something to come back to every week or day. Its going to feel like you don’t know what you’re doing for some time but give it time and good things will happen.

My favourite saying in all of this is simple; If I can do this, then you certainly can. Here’s to many more years of blogging and thank you all for being here day in day out to support my efforts. It really does mean a lot. I have some more quick fire tips for blogging over on my Patreon which is FREE to read at the moment and can be found here.

Peace out, rock and roll and to many more years of blogging!

Joining Patreon

As mentioned recently I have taken the rather uncertain step towards authoring and blogging being a potential career by joining Patreon. Yesterday my first guide post launched rather softly and that is going to be my approach to begin with. Gradual has always been my key to success in any new venture and social media is a tough arena to launch new ventures in.

My ultimate goal is to help others in the world of authoring, blogging and creating because helping others is fulfilling and being known for that has presented me with an opportunity. Over the past year I have experienced enough growth to justify my work to have a certain value and so Patreon feels like the best choice to showcase future guides, book promotion results, writing tips, social media tutorials and even my fictional works. Most of this stuff is what my readers and followers want and I have a plethora of work planned for this venture. I hope it is received well while some of you on here consider joining me over there.

This blog will still operate at normal capacity. Lee’s Hall of Information will continue to provide readers with book reviews, weekly rambles, guest posts and all the usual content you can expect as a follower for free.

While some might think joining Patreon is just a cash grab, and there has already been some frosty-ness shall we say towards the idea of my blogging work being monetised but those who do choose to join my Patreon will be rewarded. The incentives range from a basic shout out on social media all the way to a free digital copy of my book ‘Consistent Creative Content’ and the higher tier will also include exclusive one on one Q&A’s. For now all of my future guides will be available first on my Patreon first and then eventually they will make their way to here, my base of operations. You can find all of the relevant information here.

The first month of content which includes a few guides and some exclusive fictional work will be FREE to read. I would have never got to this moment if it wasn’t for the loyal support you guys have shown for this blog. Whether you are a blogger, writer, creative or just a reader, I hope you’ll join me in this new venture that dreams are made of. Rock and roll man!

Weekly Ramble #116

Since 2018 I have read and reviewed 120 independently published books. The pillar that holds my authoring and blogging brand together is reviewing other authors books and to begin with it drew some very favourable results – blog follows, new readers, author friends and even sales for my own works. Those things drove me initially because they are good things for me but then I realised slowly that I wasn’t just doing this for me.

While I would never ever consider myself some kind of hero for reviewing books, I now do it for greater reasons than just personal gain because in all walks of writing it’s the ‘everything else’ after that makes this whole thing worthwhile. Some of these things can come unexpectedly and that might be the true power of writing. Over those years and books reviewed I’ve forged a level of trust from you and from a wider social media following all driven by a desire to make authoring and writing better. As independents in this social media age we are representing future generations of wordsmiths who will enter this arena someday, an arena where gatekeeping is slowing diminishing, it will probably never go away fully but we can at least improve things. Amazon have given anyone a platform to publish, but it is our responsibility to make sure it is represented well. These days you don’t have to be ‘someone’ to get any type of acclaim in writing. While agents and big publishers look to hold on to how things were, times are changing for the better. Anyone who has written something can now be successful instead of someone else deciding that.

Authors reviewing fellow authors books makes the indie scene better for everyone. I have said time and time again that reviewing others’ works will also help you but don’t expect a direct return, don’t feel entitled because you reviewed a book and want something back because ultimately what you’ve done will benefit us all – you’ve made this journey better for everyone.

Book Promotion Results: June 2021

While the majority of things in writing can be subjective, most authors will know the struggle of trying to market and sell their work. The sheer variety of ways to try and market books these days can be quite daunting but I reckon I’ve got a decent grip on it. Follow me as I lay out my latest book promotion efforts with a hope it helps another wordsmith…

Aim/Background Info

What is book promotion some of you ask? Well for the beginner and to me book promotion is any method that is used to sell books. This can be through a price reduction, paid advertising, free advertising and even less direct advertising like a social media presence. There are so many ways to promote a book and most of time I tend to combine these methods.

Firstly and quite importantly when it comes to promoting a book its good to have something to aim for or at least a reason why you are promoting a book. While sales is normally the main priority, this time I had another aim alongside that – more on that in a moment.

The book I would be promoting this time around was my very recently released self-help authoring and blogging guide book ‘Consistent Creative Content’ and on June the 26th it would be discounted to 99 cents (regular price $3.99) for that day only. My methods of advertising would be a paid promotion via book promo site Robin Reads and I would also be leveraging my social media following across a few different platforms. After the book’s initial release the sales have began to drop off to almost zero so a little advertising will hopefully jump start things.

Let’s break that down into three factors.

Time an important factor when it comes to promotion. One day only for this promo adds urgency for potential readers to buy a book on the day.

Price From $3.99 to $0.99 is quite a jump and adds a level of extra persuasion for potential readers.

Reach – Using a paid advertising package via a book promo site and my own social media following meant that I could reach more potential readers on the day.

Combining these three factors should result in a positive outcome for any book being promoted although different books have different circumstances to face such as rating and genre. You’ll also notice the book cover for ‘CCC’ is professionally designed and a beginners tip: potential readers do judge books by a cover so invest in a professional to give a book the best chance of selling.

Second Aim

For this promotional run I had another aim and that was to push ‘CCC’ up the Amazon charts so it could get a little more visibility and hopefully a few more ratings because my intention longer term is try and secure a BookBub Featured Deal. A few more ratings would increase the chances BookBub would say yes and their Featured Deal Advertising package is basically the holy grail of advertising. For me to get this book featured by them would be the dream as it would reach so many more readers. I consider this promo run a partial stepping stone towards a bigger picture.

You can read more about a BookBub Featured Deal here.

Background Statistics

As you can see the blue bar represents the launch of ‘CCC’ which gradually tailed off into June.

And then June had a few sales but then things became pretty sparse so it was time for some promotion!

The Results

On June the 26th and for one day only Consistent Creative Content was discounted to 99 cents from the original price of $3.99. Here are the results:

Sales in 5 territories and even some further sales all the way into July. A good promotion will keep a book visible and selling for some time after. A great book promotion will pay dividends even months later.

Chart Movement

The best chart movement came from the US and these numbers were in the high thousands at the start of the day. They are super competitive charts so to see these numbers improve was awesome.

It wasn’t until the next morning that I checked Amazon to see ‘CCC’ in the top 4. Fantastic!

It would have only taken a few more sales to hit best seller but that’s for another day perhaps.

Factors for Success

I’ve shared my aims and the basic details of the promo but what are the finer details? Here’s what I did/what happened during the promo.

Social Media and Visuals

Using Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and this blog I spread my social media coverage wide and shared this book banner. Book banners make for a nice additional visual that should hopefully enhance the cover of a book.

I also shared a visual representation of some recent reviews and spread that around the platforms.

Specifically on Twitter I took advantage of the #shamelesselfpromosaturday hashtag and combined with 11k followers that helped spread the word significantly.

In general, social media is a hard arena to sell books in, especially as the platforms tend to notice you sharing links and things. This always makes for a challenge. You can read more about getting better results at Twitter here and you can read more about selling books without dropping the link here.

Reviews/Ratings

‘CCC’ already had some reviews and ratings but it really needed a few more, especially if I want a BookBub featured deal, they need to see recent review progress. Reviews serve a book for the purpose of promotion more than anything and some very needed reviews arrived right on time…

And on the day fellow author Ellen Khodakivska released this awesome review!

Reviews also started appearing over on BookBub which is vital for the long term and very much appreciated.

Concluding Thoughts

This ‘stepping stone’ promotional run succeeded in helping ‘CCC’ climb the charts and get some much needed visibility. Having paid $60 for the promo via Robin Reads the royalties are at a loss currently but I paid for this promo using the previous months royalties so I’m taking it as a win. To be able to put money back into to promotion after making it from a book is the stuff of dreams.

Remember its all about Time Price and Reach. If you can get those factors right then hopefully sales will come in. This time around I didn’t break any records but I jumpstarted my sales slump and positioned myself for a better chance to convince BookBub to say yes.

I’m not particularly interested in making a huge amount of money in authoring and this book I have written is to help others more importantly. Hopefully this post helped a fellow wordsmith and you can read so much more about book promotion via the resources section or alternatively you could buy Consistent Creative Content which is currently $2.99 or less in some places and is full of guides like this one.

Thanks for reading and next stop BookBub…. or I will at least apply for their featured deal….

Consistent Creative Content: A Guide to Authoring and Blogging in the Social Media Age by Lee Hall

Thank you to fellow awesome blogger Clemence for this wonderful review of Consistent Creative Content…

Dreamed Worlds

Consistent Creative Content: A Guide to Authoring and Blogging in the Social Media Age

Consistent Creative Content: A Guide to Authoring and Blogging in the Social Media Age by Lee Hall

Genre:Writing, Non-Fiction.
Pages: 135
Publisher:Lee Hall
Rating:4.50 stars (Goodreads)

Summary:

Best-selling indie author and blogger Lee Hall shares his journey of experience in this part-memoir part-guidebook that aims to inspire and inform budding wordsmiths at any level. From the basics of blogging and authoring all the way to advanced social media methods and marketing; this book is filled with good practical advice, top tips and effective strategies. You’ll even find some never before shared resources to help navigate your way to authoring and blogging success in the social media age. Subjects include:

Basic and advanced blogging;
Basic authoring and a publishing overview;
Social media for authors and bloggers;
Book marketing and the art of indirect selling;
Book promotion strategies. Including worked examples;
Book reviews;
Building your own turning…

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