Looking back at my debut novel these past few days has presented a range of emotions. From cringe to admiration all the way to evolution. Like all art it captures a moment in time and also accurately relays the creators frame of mind and their ability in such a moment. It might not read as fluidly as my more recent works and I’ll admit it’s got all the usual ‘debuty’ attributes of an author figuring out their words but that story even now is solid as a rock. Back then I had that same fire I still haveonly now it burns brighter.
For what once stood as 6 lined pages of scratchy writing telling a story based on a dream I had way back when I was 14, Open Evening became my entrance into everything that stands today. I sometimes forget the before, we all do while striving for a better future.
Just what business do I have going back to revisit old works? This time of the year I always update the URL’s and links in all my works but this time I thought I would give Open Evening a little polish. Now when something is released into the world of publishing it kind of no longer belongs to the creator but the wonder of modern publishing allows some licence to improve existing works. Truthfully my writing style back then (2015) seems so far removed from my standard today and I guess above all that’s a wonderful sign of progress. You can trace my evolution as a story teller chronologically in all of my works which is voyage of discovery in it’s own right. These books will be around for a lot longer than me and the hope is perhaps some day someone follows that evolution as a reader. That paper trail I leave behind will hopefully represent me more than personality ever could. Maybe that’s how our legends are built.
Essential reading for marketing books effectively while gaining a better understanding of Amazon key words and beyond..
There is so much information in this clear and concise guide which is designed to help anyone who is published via Amazon reach readers through the concept of shared interests using keywords – while this may sound technical and it might be but Dale L. Roberts explains this concept flawlessly and easily. Not once did I have to re-read anything although I will be going back many times to use this guide as a reference point to improve my own book marketing efforts. While reading it I have already implemented some of the valuable advice given.
The guide begins with Dale relaying a conversation he had with a few old friends who share the same interests and this serves as an example throughout in how we can find an audience that can relate to our books to eventually drive sales. That ideal reader is out there and we just need to build a bridge to them through keywords. Of course we get a plethora of information on keywords like what they are, why they are important and how best to use them. It’s upfront about the fact keywords aren’t all that sell books but they are indeed important.
The world of selling books on Amazon can be daunting especially if you don’t know much about it but this guide has given me a lot more than I used to know and there are even some other valuable outside the box tips that opened my eyes. From search engine algorithms to the relevancy of key words alongside many more useful articles linked throughout and at the end of what I consider an essential read for all authors.
A feel-good swashbuckling fairy tale style romance of the seven seas…
The Pirate Captain is an easy to read short but fun tale that follows the journey of young lady ‘Avalee’ who escapes her abusive confines and empty promises made to her for an education. From the first page we get a lot of information that helps set the scene as her life transitions from that confinement to escape and the terror of being on the run to an eventual destination; that being a stowaway on an infamous Pirate’s ship.
After some quick thinking our heroine disguises herself to fit in and talks her way into joining the crew of this vessel. She changes her name and spends her days adjusting to the life of a pirate in sometimes amusing and possibly disastrous ways that almost reveal her true identity. All the time ‘Lee’s’ journey unfolds a slow burning admiration for the ship’s captain begins to form into something more.
The strength of this story is the slow build towards an eventual romance which runs the course of an enjoyable tale where the worst of situations in life bring the best possible outcomes. Nearer the end it get’s a little steamy making this one probably better suited for a more mature audience. My only real critique is that the story does tend to tell as opposed to show but for a shorter book that works.
Christina Engela delivers with this action packed tale that introduces the Galaxii series; an expansive world of Imperial space fleets, distant planets, space pirates and beyond. Utilizing her unique, fun and strong narration style we meet ‘Mykl d’Angelo’ who serves firstly as a mystery man seemingly marooned alone in space until the authorities take him in and learn he is trustworthy. His brutal back story becomes apparent and as a reader you naturally side with him. Whether it be for his quick witted one liner’s or ability to deal with most situations and seemingly get out of them; the Imperial space fleet soon employ d’Angelo. He even reconnects with an old flame in the form of ‘Ripley Jones’ who vouches for him.
The real threat in Engela’s deep space Galaxii universe and much like many of her other books are the Corsairs – a mystery group of pirate types who appear to ravage any civilisation they can. Soon enough d’Angelo’s rescuing ship comes across another vessel manned by them and so the action, drama and deception begins. In order to fully intercept the Corsair world, they must align with an unexpected ally.
While this tale is wholly original there are some fun references throughout from old school weaponry, pirate slang terms and even a hilarious fast food reference. From shootouts to car chases this book has everything fans of sci fi action could want. It’s imaginative, highly readable and fun much like many of Christina Engela’s works which I highly recommend!
5 Stars – A cracking read. Reviews left via Goodreads and Amazon. Thank you to the author for providing a copy to review.
If there wasn’t any social media I would still be writing, period. Recently I’ve been seeing more and more authors venting their frustrations because it feels like they are not selling anything or being listened to online. Is that what really matters in all of this?
I’ve vented many of my laments on here before, the whole reverting to zero thing is something all of us as creators must get used to. Just because you expected one thing and got another doesn’t mean the result was a failure. Selling hundreds of books and getting thousands of follows is great, sure, that’s an ideal world type of situation but does it really foster any type of fulfilment. If I were to rephrase that I would say selling the right book to the right person and getting the right engagement is way more fulfilling and important than getting larger numbers.
Because you had a bad book promo run or a stint of nobody liking your tweets is a paper thin reason to walk away from something as great as writing. That desire and dream you had perhaps long ago is stronger than that and so are you. For me this journey started at aged 12 in front of a Windows 98 computer on a rainy day. I’m a long way from that now because all good things and results in authoring/blogging take time and work.
Because you wrote a book and advertised it everywhere for nobody to buy it is an opportunity, not a failure. Do this for the writing and the journey your words take; everything else, no matter how much you try to get them; Retweets, follows and sales, they are not the measure of success because they are mostly out of your control so let it go. The rat race of social media will never ever go away, that feeling of chasing is constant – don’t let it bother you because there are stories out there someone wants. Stories that come from your energy and passion which deserves way more attention. Don’t give up. The greatest opportunity we have is in those words.
Nothing beats the thrill of a story unfolding as you write it. As much as planning can be fulfilling, there’s a certain organic creativity that comes with seeing a tale come to life in front of your own imagination.
Even with this current novella I’ve got back into, after starting it late last year I don’t actually know where it’s going in some respect which to me is thrilling. It also shows that sometimes we’re not consciously in control because the ideas that follow suite appear from the deep imagination. They are normally led by character and setting, something that’s always established early in my works so maybe there is some truth to stories writing themselves.
My reasons for delving back into this one may become apparent eventually but recently I’ve learned as a writer and a blogger to go where the demand is. If there is a need and want for something then sit your ass on that pony of opportunity as it walks by. Plus it’s also good to get into an already established project.
This is supposed to be ‘off season’ but things have changed this year and so I’ve loaded up and got out there again into the voyage of book writing. Currently I’m gonna need five life times until I might actually be done with everything and that’s purpose above all, without it we’re nothing. Truthfully, this has been a year of social media stuff for me and I’m actually happier without that right now and just writing is where I want to be – it’s what I do all this for anyway. In terms of that novella, watch this space.
This year I pledged to review one book more than 2019’s grand total of 40, without realising because my head is either in a book or a writing project I am about to achieve that goal of 41 indie books reviewed! This has been a foundation and pillar to near enough all of my success. Maybe we’ll get to near 50 by the year’s end, either way achieving that before the end of November is huge!
Wanna buy a book? I mean through all of my marketing efforts, tactics and out of the box thinking if that actually works to make a sale then I will be both astounded and not surprised, after all the writing game is poetically ironic at the best of times…
It’s been one hell of a weird journey in getting this book onto the shelves, since 2018 when I first drafted it to now, we’ve all come a long way and then this year happened…
To be able to push through all of the adversity of this shit storm that is covid fest 2020 and have a book to hold in my hands for the 6th time is pretty fuckin special in my eyes. Although this story represents so much it stands as a statement that words, ideas and books cannot be beaten no matter what situation is unfolding outside our windows. Of course I am fortunate enough to be able to carry on and even more fortunate to have so many wonderful, truly wonderful people to support me.
The journey in getting this story out there was a redemption kind of deal way before 2020 and now it’s happened, I am truly happy with it. While I’m eating celebratory halloumi and writing this post, I can honestly say this whole writing malarkey was worthwhile
This year has hit so many people hard and the best thing I can do to get through to anyone is to create content for them and these days people are actually reading it. In my eyes the loyalty of readers coming back time and time again to this site is worth more than any book sale but that’s a slight digression from what is supposed to be a book selling post…
The book sale bit…
Tumbleweeds at the ready because whenever an author tries to sell their own stuff or even think about it everyone suddenly vanishes but you’re getting a sales pitch anyway…
Darke Awakening is the 4th book in my occult, monster, witch, vampire series called the Order of the Following. It see’s two separate story lines collide as they are set in the same universe. The first three books in the series are currently discounted to 99 cents and so now there are 4 books to get yourself into right in time for Halloween/spooky season. Just look at them below, awesome right?
Darke Awakening is an ambitious crossover which throws many different heroes, villains and those in between together in a tale full of twists, turns, revelations and darkness. Anyway it’s officially released today and so because some awesome heroes pre ordered it buying the book now would be very beneficial for chart positioning on Amazon. I am literally 5 sales away from my target. If this target is reached then this whole deal is a success, that can only be achieved through you, potential loyal reader.
Marketing the 4th book in a series that only a limited number of readers have bought has been one hell of a challenge but I think we pulled it off!
Either way September 2020 stands as my most successful month ever for paid books sales, this is before the release of this book. Just look at those numbers as of yesterday…
And because I will always be closing, you can expect a guide book to how I did all these things hopefully next year. I guess that’s this post done, the links for Darke Awakening are below.
Peace out, stay safe, let me know if you grabbed a copy and thanks for reading. Rock and roll man!
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.
This post is designed to inform and help those in the online world of authoring and reading. It is an investigative exploration more than anything. While the subject matter might be subjective, this isn’t the place to be throwing differing opinions around, it is here to be spotlighted.
For the purpose of this investigation, no parties other than myself will be directly named. Let us explore the concept of being paid to leave 5 stars review on Amazon…
The world of Amazon reviews is huge business these days. For authors; probably the greatest struggle to get in all of publishing. Nobody has ever complained of having too many reviews and every author I know has faced this at some point as their greatest lament in writing. Don’t get me started on the lower star reviews either…
Authors are always looking for more ways to get those reviews – many seem to think this is the only way to sell books and there are several high end book promo sites that only showcase books with a higher amount of reviews. Authors sometimes shout to the high hills about how important reviews are, especially indie authors and most of the time it goes unheard so there’s a general feel of frustration around the subject. It’s a huge never going away need that can unfortunately be exploited. Exploiting the desperation of a person isn’t a new tactic, it’s basically what sales can be defined by.
‘Here we have a product, and our marketing team are going to tell you how you need it. You will then feel you can’t live without it and then you’ll buy it…’ – Businesses everywhere, all the time.
Getting book reviews is a constant itch that can only be temporarily scratched. There are several thousands of folks out there who see this as an opportunity to make a fast buck. There are even those who will use readers to carry out the hard work and siphon huge amounts of money in the process all the while working around Amazon who take this very seriously. This is probably why I have written this post, not to controversy grab for reads, not to name and shame but to inform and hopefully get the message across that authors are being exploited for reviews (which aren’t the be all and end all), but what exactly am I trying to inform you about?
Being approached to write 5 star reviews…
I’d never been approached as a reader to leave 5 star reviews on Amazon until the other day an ‘account’ slid straight into my DM’s . For the sake of this post let us call this account ‘Reputable Readers’ and what exactly did ‘RR‘ say in said DM?
(Paraphrased and wording changed)
‘Hey, wanna review books for (undisclosed amount of money)?’
(Three/four paragraphs of waffle about what services they provide for authors and books)
‘There’s a certain expectation that you should leave a 5 star review. We’ll pay you (undisclosed amount of money) per 5 star review’
‘We’ll also pay to buy the books you review just so they are verified purchases via a well known online payment thing. You stay classy!‘
‘Representative from Reputable Readers’
What’s the big deal about this?
From the paraphrased message and trust me, this is everything relevant they said, you can see they wanted me to just leave 5 star reviews for books they recommend. It’s what they haven’t mentioned that serves as red flag numero uno. There is no mention of leaving an honest review or even reading the work that I would have to buy. They are pretty up front about it but in a clever way and clever is probably what this whole deal seems on the surface.
This whole ‘service’ looks to be instigated via Twitter messages and under the radar. ‘RR’ will approach an author desperate for reviews > author likes the concept and agrees, then pays undisclosed amount of money (probably a lot) > ‘RR’ approaches a willing reviewer offering part of that undisclosed amount of money > Reviewer does all the work, leaves review, verified purchase.
‘RR’ have no real interaction on Amazon and they basically serve as an expensive middle man that rakes in the cash and gives a little to the reviewer who has left the review on their own account. All which operates undetected. A cash incentive will always persuade someone to say yes while they also persuade the author with 5 stars. This whole deed is seemingly invisible to Amazon who are huge on fake reviews but through this process it’s very difficult to prove.
If I were to try and report ‘RR’ I couldn’t due to lack of real proof, they are just a middle man and that probably only leaves me with one choice, to report the author who really isn’t the bad guy here. They just want their work to be liked and in this ever growing world of the internet it’s tempting to google ‘buy 5 star reviews’ because there are so many who are offering this service.
This whole concept is clever and perhaps an immorally genius attempt at making money and that’s why I wrote this post to serve as a warning to authors and readers. I’m not a fan of anyone being exploited and on this world wide web, it’s everywhere and authors are being exploited here. They could also get themselves in trouble if Amazon found out.
Authors paying for 5 star reviews is wrong, being paid to give 5 stars without reading a book is wrong and more importantly Amazon don’t like it, they will shut your shit down if they find out, trust me!
There are several different types of review services that pop up online all the time many of which provide readers with books and authors with honest reviews – it’s all about execution.
I’m a reviewer for Reedsy Discovery who are a growing social platform for readers and writers and I have even been tipped by an author after leaving an honest review for their work . I suppose that’s what this whole deal is about. Paying for 5 star reviews puts other readers who spent time reading into disrepute, it also preys on the desperation of some authors who just want reviews: this is especially prone in beginner authors who no doubt ‘RR’ will target. It’s also lying and misleading potential future readers. You could argue, this is just business, and I want folks to read my stuff, they don’t need to know what goes on in the kitchen. You could argue that, but not here, shove that opinion.
Methods of honesty
Straight up, reviews don’t actually matter that much. And yeah that’s coming from an author who checks to see if he has any new ones multiple times a day. They literally serve as a gate keeping method for some promo sites and not much else. Of course they mean a bunch more to the small time creator but eventually that small time creator won’t need just reviews to sell books because readers would have invested in them as the person first. If I were you, I wouldn’t focus on trying to get reviews but to get people reading your stuff through promotion. Check out the resources section for that…
The best we can do about subjects like this post is to talk about them and spread awareness, especially to those who are vulnerable to a scam – let’s face it, we all are. Writers and bloggers as a collective are stronger together.
I’ve kept the ‘service provider’ nameless in this post to firstly avoid any retaliation – trust me this happens a lot with these posts and because ‘RR’ will be here today and probably gone tomorrow for another one to pop up. How they change tactics is up to us to find out and report to the community which I care for.
Thanks for reading and of course your thoughts are welcome in the comments – keep the opinions light…
“Between chaos and the unknown, you’ll find a perfect storm…”
Well what a year it’s been, through the struggle and uncertainty all the way to the apocalyptic vibes 2020 has seemingly spat our way and still I’m standing exactly where I wanted to stand when this year began (only now I’m washing my hands every two seconds and wearing a mask)!
Some of you would have seen over the weekend my lack of ability to contain my excitement pride in being able to share my latest book cover. Darke Awakening is not just my 6th book but a personal journey and a symbol of how important carrying on has been this year. It’s also been mighty rewarding as many different folks have connected or continue to connect with this here blog. Through all of my endeavours in 2020 the book has been a beacon of hope that has carried me to here and hopefully beyond because now it’s up to my readers and you, kind follower.
Those who have supported me from the beginning, those who have captured and seen my vision over the years and quite frankly for me, that is who this book is for. It won’t be selling thousands of copies on release but the people that matter to me will be buying it. The individuals I have convinced one at a time to believe in my work and those who have made a believer out of me, that is who this is for. And for one very important demographic of folks who only exist in words…
What you’re probably here for…
Well I’ve done the introductory preamble bit and laid it on as thick but smooth as possible. Let’s take a look at the cover of Darke Awakening in full, front and reverse:
It’s darker compared to the first one and murkier because there’s a theme of uncertainty. Just what is in the deep woods? What everyone thought they knew will get blown wide open. Plus it snows quite a bit later on in the book. There’s some new faces and even some unexpected arrivals all of which looks to tell a story of darkness and awakening.
A huge shout out to Design for Writers who put together this fantastic cover!
Darke Awakening carries on straight from Darke Blood but then later begins to cross over with both Open Evening and Cemetery House. You kinda need to read all three books in the series that precede it to appreciate the whole thing – hence why 15 people max will buy it. The good thing is I’ve got ya, all three of those books in the Order of the Following Series are currently discounted to 99 cents. One of which will be free this weekend but I’m not here to sell those….
The sales part….
Those who have been watching closely will know right now Darke Awakening is currently available for Pre order! Yes you can go right now and pre order the damn thing! This is of course only for the E version, Amazon aren’t brave enough to trust indies with paperback pre order things. I’ve said pre order a lot.
If you click on the rather shiny banner I put together below, it will take you to the Amazon US page.
Everyone else, just copy and paste this into your regional Amazon:
Final fun part…
This cool little comparison feature might be one of the only good things to come out of the new WordPress editor. As you can see all of the wonder and brightness of stars is gone as we go further into the dark – they both are really cool covers!
Closing statement/ a thank you
As always my efforts on here are made better by you. Thanks for reading and thanks for the constant support. You guys gives me hope and belief. To those who have already pre ordered the book, you are amazing, and to everyone, help an author out and go grab a pre order, let me know if you do grab a copy and let me know what you think of the cover!