Monthly Archives: May 2013

Paid Advertising – Kindle Books and Tips vs Book Gorilla & Kindle Nation Daily

My first paid ad this month was with Kindle Books and Tips. It cost me $50 and I did this as a bit of an experiment to find out if our book would appeal to their demographic – (women in the US between 35-55). I set the categories as Thriller with the second choice Action/Adventure and I kept the price at $2.99. I sold 25 books in the US, 1 in Canada and 2 in the UK and made my money back.

The second book ad I did was a joint ad (called a sponsorship) with Kindle Nation Daily & Book Gorilla which cost $100. This was $100 I could afford to lose as I knew that by setting the price at .99c there would be no chance that we’d break even. To do that we’d need to have sold around 285 as we’d be getting the 35% royalty rate and not the 70% we got for the Kindle Books and Tips ad. By now I’d taken the book out of the second category Action/Adventure as there was no way we could compete in such a large category as there are just too many books there…I chose Political as the second category. It’s not a perfect fit but on a Google/Amazon search I found that there were more people looking for that than they were for Conspiracy.

What I like about Kindle Nation Daily is that on their website they publish the sponsorship results so if you check it out you can see for yourselves that we rose in the rankings from 307,011 up to 7,908. We had a 3782.28% gain (Movers & Shakers formula). We made the top 100 in political thrillers in the UK just by moving into a smaller category – even though we only sold 2 books there….

In the US we made the top 100 of political fiction. Compared with the 240 or so other books with paid sponsorship in May (and we still have a few days left so our ranking could change) we came in at 180. Incidentally, also in May a certain F Scott Fitzgerald (or his estate) was plugging Gatsby Girls (categorised under Romance!?). Despite a movie tie-in he began at 62,026 but did end up in the coveted 100 – at no 100.

So how did these stats translate into numbers? So far we’ve sold 2 in the UK (that was from my efforts on Facebook) and 34 in the US and 0 in Canada. The loss then was around $88.

It was a useful exercise and far less of a risk than a Bookbub promo as although we can afford to lose $100 – $280 is another matter.... Incidentally, we were turned down by Bookbub as either our 11 reviews weren’t enough – or they didn’t think the book was right for their thriller readership. Annoyingly with Bookbub, they won’t tell you why you’ve been turned down even if you ask them so you could end up re-submitting, getting it wrong again and once again be wasting your time (and theirs).

Where I think paid ads are useful are for when you might be languishing in the lower ranks (as we were) and getting fed up with sinking ever further and perhaps needing a morale boost. Or, it might be that you sell better in the UK but can’t seem to get much traction in the US.

Would I do it again. Yes – but maybe I’ll have another crack at Bookbub again- when we’ve had a few more reviews – unless of course they put up their fees again…


I may not know much about Book Marketing but I know someone that does

In the first part of this series on book marketing I am handing over the blog to Marketing Consultant, Sarah Ripley (yes, a relation) who is a bit of a whizz when it comes to marketing. That comes in handy, as if there is one thing I seriously underestimated when I became an indie, it was the time and effort it takes to market a book successfully.  Over to you, Sarah:

There has never been an easier time to market your book.

Technology is fabulous. It enables you more than ever before to reach your potential readers with the click of a button.

That’s the good news. The bad news is, that there are now so many books available that your potential reader simply hasn’t got time to trawl through the three million plus books on Amazon to find your gem.  And if you aren’t careful your competitors will get to them first.

Writing fiction requires a rather odd skillset: from creativity to tenacity; a writer has to be willing to accept criticism and be willing to rewrite, and have the right personal qualities – including a desire to produce the best possible product, polished to perfection. Marketing demands different skills.  Marketing can still be done creatively but the writer has to be able take a step back and look at the work the way others see it.  It might be hard for a writer to grasp, but marketing is a business and marketing creative work isn’t really any different from marketing any other business in the world.  You still have the pressure of comparing your outcomes with those of your competitors but when you wear your marketing “hat” you have to do this in a logical and precise way. Otherwise it’s too easy to fall into the trap of perceiving that everyone else must be doing better than you are.  Be honest with yourself too.  Maybe that other writer does have a better book cover or a more compelling blurb but have you considered that they might just like marketing more than you do? And maybe, just maybe, they’re a bit more driven, are more tenacious and what’s more, are willing to invest more time and energy than you?

But pep talk over, perhaps the most important decision you will need to make when it comes to the marketing of your book is deciding what it is that will make you stand out.  Ideally you should have decided this before you started marketing your but it’s never too late to tweak your marketing plan once the book is published.  Digital books, unlike traditionally published print books do not date and if sales are truly dire and you can pinpoint the reason (poor cover design, a title that doesn’t stand out or even that a book targeted at the wrong market), a writer can decide to re-launch their title. 

To make your book stand out you need to consider these points:

What is your message? What makes you/your brand/your book special?

What are the needs of your customer? How will you satisfy these needs?

Write these down. They should form the foundation or your marketing.

Unlike many traditional business transactions which require monetary loss for product/service gain, writers’ are asking two things from their customers: money plus time. Time is a far more precious commodity than we might realise.  As writers we need to put ourselves in the place of our readers (and for most of us that shouldn’t be difficult as you can’t really be a writer without being a reader as well – can you?).  That means not only writing a decent book but making it look good as well.

Sounds simple enough?

Author David Gaughran suggests, in Let’s Get Digital and in his excellent blog, the following list of important steps when putting together the most professional package:

1.     A good book that has been professionally edited

2.     A striking cover that speak to your genre

3.     A compelling blurb that entices your target audience

4.     A killer opening that will hook any readers who sample

5.     Clean formatting that won’t pull the reader out of the narrative

6.     A price that won’t make them think twice

“Too many authors skimp on those steps, and then waste money on marketing. That money would have been much better spent on putting out the most professional book possible. As Seth Godin says, the best marketing is designed into the product.” – David Gaughran.

A good friend, top dude, oh and also a co-Wizard of Ads Partner, Tim Miles, recently published his first book on marketing for business, Good Company  – Making It, Keeping It, Being It. Tim has done amazingly well in a short space of time by following the above points and you’ll want to check out his Amazon product and author descriptions as they rock. You can view these at:

Would-be purchasers tend to feel better about their money and time investment as the book has clearly helped others and Tim’s great reviews enhance his product.

Creating and optimising your Amazon sales page with a hook, (quoting from reviews and other supporting information) is probably one of the most effective (and free) marketing activities available to you. Amazon does a great job at doing a lot of the hard work for you. When putting together your sales page, try not to skimp on information or rush this. Simply putting together some generic information and hoping the “hype” of the book will drive sales regardless is a fool’s trip to failure.

Be descriptive. Tell a story… stories are powerful. These stories should speak to the needs of your potential reader, you remember, those needs that you wrote down earlier? Don’t get too bogged down in identifying “your ideal reader” and only speaking to her. Remember we rarely make decisions in a vacuum with only ourselves to consult. Everyone has a friend/sister/mother/partner/neighbour who may just be the best spruiker for your book if you can convert them.

Speak of the felt needs of your reader.

Some other points to consider when marketing your novel:

1.     Encourage reviews on Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Don’t be afraid to ask friends/relatives/colleagues for their reviews. Why not make it a competition?

2.     Create a website. Your social media platforms should then all point back to this website.

3.     Start a blog.

4.     Send out free copies to influential/high profile people, namely reviewers.

Much like traditional marketing – the same concepts still apply.  Create a marketing plan and a budget for an ENTIRE YEAR, working out how much  time and money you are willing to invest every day/week/month for the whole 365 days. Like dieting, what counts is the effort over the whole year not just the weeks when you feel like it.

Make a marketing commitment and stick to it. Rain, hail, shine or when boredom strikes.

Remember that you the novelist are your brand. And a brand needs time to build. That means there are no quick fixes. It takes commitment, patience and huge motivation. But hey… you put these same principles into writing the book in the first place, so I trust you can follow through.

Sarah Ripley – Marketing Consultant –Wizard of Ads

Visit her blog:



“Feral Youth is as life-affirming as Trainspotting and will connect with teenagers and adults alike.” – Lambert Nagle

I’ve been itching to tell the world about Polly Courtney’s latest novel, Feral Youth, which I had the pleasure of reviewing – and now – I can!

Polly Courtney

Rebellion on a South London street


You’ve seen Alesha – or your children have: she’s the one standing in the shadows, watching, hood drawn up, at the bus stop, eyeing up the trainers and the mobile phones. And then one day, a newcomer to the area turns up whose parents are too naïve to know that sending your kid off to school with the latest trainers is asking for it… And that kid is followed by a gang of yoots and he’s mugged – all because of Alesha’s expert appraisal of how much his shoes 

might be worth.

Feral Youth

By choosing to tell Alesha’s story in the first person, Courtney takes us deep inside the world of an abandoned 15-year-old, for whom home means living with her boyfriend at his nan’s place – with a staffie called GBH completing their little family or fam – in Alesha speak. And then…

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Review – The Hard Swim – (Sam Dyke Investigations)

Keith Dixon’s P.I. Sam Dyke is back…. This time the action takes us to Edinburgh, Manchester, Portsmouth and across the channel to a sleepy village in rural France. Sam makes for a thoughtful protagonist – he’s the son of a Yorkshire miner who can riff on comparisons between the decline of industrial Britain and that of French agriculture, while getting himself and his client out of sticky situations.
Keith’s nemesis in this book is not the hired assassin Connell Steele, but his paymaster, the ambitious and morally bankrupt politician Gideon Blake.

Where The Hard Swim excels is the way it takes us into the minds of the hard-men soldiers who saw and did much more than they should have on the front line in Iraq and Afghanistan. On their return to civvy street some of these washed-up souls end up driving taxis or, for those who really can’t get rid of their residual anger, go into jobs such as ‘oil security’ or worse. Connell Steele is one such, rather deranged example. Steele, though is tiring of his day job as a mercenary. Like many a wage slave he’s stuck in his job and even though he’s very well paid to do his dirty work, he’s hardly the type to chuck in the towel and take himself off to do a creative writing M.A.

The Hard Swim is deftly plotted and an engaging read, weaving together stories from the Second World War with those set in the present. The plotting is so well done that Dixon keeps the reader guessing. Every detail that is set-up earlier on in the novel has a pay-off later on in the story. Keith Dixon’s prose is fluent and assured and he has that knack of making the writing look easy…. Although Chantal remains somewhat of an enigma, I think it was a wiser choice by the author to choose instead to delve into the mind of a complex psychopath, who is beginning to doubt himself.

On the strength of this, the third Sam Dyke book I’m keen to read the first two.

Greedy, powerful and stinking rich, the battle for Russia – Part 3

You may recall my interview with thriller writer George Eccles and review of his book, The Oligarch on this blog last year.  I said at the time that it was an outstandingly written book and as far as I was concerned, George had set the benchmark very high for fellow thriller writers.  Obviously I was not the only one who admired George’s writing and it therefore gives me great pleasure to announce that George has won the silver medal in the Independent Publishers Book Awards 2013.

The Oligarch: A Thriller has been nominated runner up in the best thriller or mystery novel published as an e-book in the Independent Publishers Book Awards 2013.

Already nominated for the Global E-book Awards 2013 and winner of the Indie Book of the Day Award 2012, this prestigious award is further recognition of this topical, disturbing thriller set in Russia’s corrupt political and business world.