Out With The Old, In With The New

Welcome to my first blog post for 2019. How true that headline statement is as everything looks different on every social media site featuring my books.

The old covers for The Phoenix Series have been consigned to history. Just as we have left 2018 behind us hoping for a brighter year ahead, I’ve got a new look with which to enter 2019.

The covers designed by The Cover Collection have met with universal approval. The scale of improvement can be measured by the immediate response from the first site I approached for this week’s promotion on book #1 in the series: – “IMHO this takes your covers from a 3 or 4 to an 8 or 9”

After two and a half years of offering that first book in the series permanently free, I’ve changed tack. All 12 Phoenix books are now priced at $2.99. Book #1 will be free via KDP Select only on individual promotion days (such as today (2nd Jan) or in two weeks’ time (16th Jan).

What else has changed? The blurbs for the books have been refreshed. The revisions are punchier and more relevant than before. The keywords that help the reader find the series in the forest of other thriller writers out there are also significantly improved. I’m in better shape than at any time since I started this journey into fiction back in 2013.

Will there be further books? A new series, perhaps? I don’t believe so, but I am considering writing more short stories, which would include the early lives of Phoenix characters such as Rusty Scott, Annabelle Fox and Henry Case. 

My 2018 goals were: – To complete The Phoenix Series; to promote #1 in the series, and the complete series whenever possible. The strategy was to maintain the 20000 downloads level, to entice more readers to BUY books 2-12; and to continue to enjoy life.

How did I do? I only achieved 18500 downloads in 2018, but actual sales were 50% UP on 2017. Page Reads also contributed a decent amount to the royalties received. What were the downsides? The lack of downloads was due to the search for new covers, fresh blurbs and a general ‘stock-take’. So, I don’t consider that a failure. While I used November/December to reappraise everything and scrapped any promotion activity I put all of the books (except #1) into Kindle Unlimited.

I had hoped the income from Page Reads would pay for the new covers. The sad fact was very few people grabbed the opportunity to read the books until the new covers arrived in late December. There was a sudden flurry of activity over the festive period which reinforced the urgent need for them. Fingers crossed, that flurry will continue well into 2019.

Do I have specific goals for 2019? I don’t believe they have changed. The writing is all but done. The marketing will concentrate on #1. The promotions budget will remain at the same level. As I haven’t got 3 books to complete this year I will focus on what I could do to increase my conversion percentage viz. getting more people reading the whole series after grabbing The Olympus Project via a free promotion.

 

I’ll be back in early February with an update – or sooner, if I have exciting news. 

If you want to join my select mailing list, why not join The Phoenix Club? Newsletter (#33) will be circulated very soon.

 

 

 

Testing Times Ahead

Do you ever ask a question and then wonder whether it was the right thing to do?

I checked my September sales/downloads and the numbers were still on track for my best year to date. You know me, I’ve been at this game long enough to know you can’t stand still. I wondered whether there were things I could do, places I could promote that I hadn’t discovered yet. What did I need to do to take things to the next level?

The BookBub Ad I ran last month was a big disappointment. It may have been the targeting, the image, the wording, the budget I had available – who knows, the feedback wasn’t helpful to isolate the problem. All I knew was, it didn’t work for me.

A month ago I joined the Facebook Page 20BooksTo50K. Exactly what it says on the tin, a whole load of writers, bloggers and reviewers striving to help other indie writers progress from selling a handful of books to enough to fill a library.

I asked what I could do to take that next step.

The first replies were useful. ‘Check your categories and keywords.’ ‘Move things like Acknowledgements & About The Author to back matter.’ ‘Put your entire bibliography in EVERY book, don’t just build it up as you add a new title.’ “Have you entered everything into KU for three months?’

I set to work on those items as the weekend began. By Monday, things had progressed.

‘You need to change your covers. They’re too similar and don’t indicate the genre.’ ‘Your blurbs don’t have a positive hook to get readers enthused.’

Well, this was not what I needed to hear. Or perhaps it was what I knew was an issue but couldn’t face the prospect.

At the risk of repeating myself, I intended for The Phoenix Series to be a trilogy. Three similar covers via Canva wouldn’t have been so bad. With only three to find a designer for, maybe I would have got three professionally produced covers, who knows?

Once you reach twelve, the thought of re-designing the covers for the kindle gets to be a problem. Then, there are the tweet images, the slides for the Video Book Trailers on my YouTube channel, updating information held on a dozen websites (including my own). Not so much a problem, as a nightmare.

Oh, the paperback cover/spine/back will need updating too. Another £600 to recoup in extra sales. Most of the other changes only involve time (lots of time) but if the KU initiative brings in an income from people reading the books it might offset the inevitable expenses.

I feel as if I’m committed to making the changes. The first two books in the series have passed muster with several scrutineers on 20BooksTo50K. If I get the green light the rest of the series will be remodelled and tested over the next two weeks.

I’ve got to be careful with installing the new covers. There’s a promotion on the 15th October. The only one in October. I need the downloads from that to get me close to my 20k target for 2018. If I mess with the picture & the blurb while that’s in progress it could affect the promo’s performance.

Will these changes bring about the step-change I wish for? I’ve no idea. This blog post is entitled ‘Testing Times Ahead’. I think that goes for more than just the covers. Ah well, they say that ‘if you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep getting what you always got.’

Onwards and upwards.

 If you want to join my select mailing list, why not join The Phoenix Club? Newsletter (#30) will be circulated very soon.

 

 

Where Do I Go From Here?

Somewhere, there’s an interview where I stated my favourite book was ‘A Tale Of Two Cities; by Charles Dickens. I took the liberty of paying homage to the great man in my final novel.

Not for the first time, I slipped some of my titles into the dialogue too, for good measure. So, you will come across ‘nothing is ever forever’ and ‘a new dawn’ as you read ‘Larcombe Manor’. You see? I did it again.

Eighteen titles in six years was hard graft. Not the writing, because I loved that part. It’s been the marketing that’s made it a long, hard road. With no more books to write, I only have that to concentrate on as I move forward. Will I get bored? Or is it more likely I’ll get frustrated and pack it all in?

That’s the question now. Where do I go from here? 

The initial plan is to maintain the social media presence and to promote the books with what funds I can muster. Will I miss the writing? Of course I will. I thought I would produce more blog posts on various topics, but I don’t think that’s going to work. It’s not really my thing.

Perhaps, I’ll post book and gig reviews here as well as the occasional update on my progress. I need to keep this site ticking over, in the vain hope that more people discover it.

I never set out to be a writer. This past six years was an accident. Is it any wonder I’m asking myself – where do I go from here?

Keep cool in this sweltering summer. I’ll be back with something (?) in August.

A Frequent Peal Of Bells

I often wondered how approaching retirement felt. Those weeks and months as you neared the date when you could officially pack up work. Redundancy robbed me of that anticipation, and I was thrust into semi-retirement with no time to prepare.

I’ve kept busy in the past eighteen years with exam invigilation and quiz compiling for a decade each. In the past six years, I’ve written fiction. In two weeks’ time, the eleventh book in the Phoenix series will be published. That leaves me with just one more to write. Four weeks in May/June to write a fitting end to series that’s given me so much pleasure.

I plan to post the odd blog and promote the eighteen books I’ve published since I started, but retirement beckons. I’ve got time to prepare this time around, and to be honest – it feels right.

Yesterday (9th April) saw almost 1200 downloads. Figures are a third up on 2017 in general. I can’t complain. I received this from an ex-schoolteacher in Missouri last month: –

Just recently discovered Olympus and Phoenix. I am midway through Book 5 and totally committed to making my way through all of the books. I’ve visited so many of the places mentioned in your books that I’m comfortable with settings. Your characters are so believable that I’m easily drawn into their lives and activities. Although I am no fan of Phoenix’s music choices, I am totally in sympathy with his mission. Congratulations on weaving a tale worthy of our oral traditions.

And ONE week later: –

And now the waiting game begins. Finished Three Weeks in September, Book 10 and eagerly await number 11. Wow! I thought Demeter was an evil witch, but this new member is a true snake in the grass. Chilling. My total fascination with this series remains strong. I am surprised to see so few posts on this FB page. I am going to have to encourage my friends to read the Olympus series.

That’s why we write isn’t it?

There are others out there who will react the same way. I just have to find them. It’s not imperative I slog away with more books about The Phoenix or start a new series altogether. What’s done is done, and good enough to spark that reaction.

I’ll be back with news on the FINAL book sometime in May. 

If you want regular updates on all my books, why not join The Phoenix Club? Newsletter (#23) will be circulated very soon.

A Year In The Life – My 2017 Review

The icy fingers of winter have started to grip. The nights are long, and days where hours can be whiled away outdoors, a distant memory. Last time I told you ‘Christmas was around the corner’. Christmas, with its festive decorations, its customary surfeit of food and drink, and happy times with friends and family.

For the indie author it’s often a time for reflection. How have I done this year? Did I achieve the goals I set? Have I learned anything in the past twelve months to alter the way I approach 2018? Are there different ways to be in a better position to reach my 2018 targets?

My writing days are entering their final stage. I have three stories in my head, which during 2018 will become Books 10,11 and 12 to complete The Phoenix Series. All good things must come to an end.

I know I’ll miss the act of writing, so, I might revisit the short story genre. ‘A Sting In The Tale’ (2013) was my first attempt; perhaps it’s time for a second volume.

Another avenue to exploit is this Blog – ‘The Long Hard Road’ will be over, but a new path lies ahead. I’m planning to write about anything and everything – maybe in a ‘Midweek Matters’ and a ‘Sunday Roast’. (Suggestions welcome.)

In January I posted these goals for the year that’s almost done and dusted.

To write more; to market The Phoenix Series, rather than individual titles; to double the downloads achieved in 2016; and to enjoy life.

I published the 3 books that I promised, plus regular blog posts and newsletters to The Phoenix Club members. I concentrated my promotions on ‘The Olympus Project’ #1 in the series and the series as a whole. The strategy worked. I hit 20000 downloads by November. There were 8000 in the whole of 2016. Life was good.

Was there a downside? Downloads from free promotions don’t always translate to actual sales.
True, but in 2017 I will have sold ten times as many books as last year, plus I’m also earning royalties on KENP Reads.

What about reviews? Are there many criticisms?
Not from readers whose only aim is to enjoy a good story; but I’ve always had occasional remarks about the lack of a professional edit. I can’t afford it – end of story. That might continue to hold me back in 2018, but I can only do what’s affordable.

These are my 2018 goals: – To complete The Phoenix Series; to promote #1 in the series, and the complete series whenever possible. (the first dates are the 3rd/4th January) The strategy is to maintain the 20000 downloads level, to entice more readers to BUY books 2-12; and to continue to enjoy life. In 2017 we visited Ireland for the first time. In 2018, we want to visit Scotland. Simple pleasures.

My experiences with promotions in 2017 taught me where my attentions should be focused. That will position me better to achieve my goals. I won’t waste money on sites giving little or no return. If sales increase sufficiently, it could encourage me to tackle the editing issue. I’m not in it for the long haul (not at 72!), and if sales stick at the same level as 2017, then the books can carry on as they are.

Will I be content with what I achieved, when I reach the end of ‘The Long Hard Road’? I can tell you the answer to that already. An unequivocal YES. I’ve had so much fun writing this past five years. The fact that a good number of people have enjoyed reading my books has been amazing, and unexpected.

If you want regular updates on all my books, why not join The Phoenix Club? The Christmas Newsletter (#19) will be circulated very soon.

 

Writer’s Cramp

Here are my suggestions for a low-cost, low risk strategy to achieve a realistic level of book sales.

As you will learn later, there are bumps in the road, even if they are less damaging than when travelling on the high-risk highway.

Book Cover
The average cost of a professionally designed cover can cost $100 – $200. So, save every cent by using Canva design. I had zero experience when I started, but as my brand image is unchanging, it was a five-minute job to produce a template. All I do now is amend the title, the number in the series, and I’m good to go.
Of course, you can go the Paid route with Canva, and develop more elaborate designs, but either way, it will cost you a fraction of what a professional cover designer would charge.

(Posts ‘Building The Brand’ and ‘Can We Learn From The Best’ will let you see why I chose to follow my particular path with my covers)

Editing
Where do we start? Well, I reckon you can spend anything between $500-$2000 per title, depending on how badly put together your manuscript is in the first place, and how ‘clean’ who want it to be. For the sake of our argument, let’s pitch it at the mid-point of $1250 per book. You should then have a file that passes muster on Smashwords, or Amazon, without any hitches when you upload it.
I’ve used the free Grammarly app for the past two years, to correct my Grammar, Punctuation, and Spelling errors. The Premium plan would cost $140 per annum to remove the other ‘impurities’, but I took the advice of a fellow writer and chose Pro Writing Aid instead. This costs me a quarter of that, and does the same job.
Do I get as polished a finish as from a professional? Of course not, but none of my books has less than a 4* average. Would I sell more if I raised that to 4.5*? Show me absolute proof and I’ll give it a try. No? I didn’t think so. When you don’t have the funds to experiment, you need to target every cent you spend with care.

Title
No doubt you’re wondering why this one is here? Well, this is a free tip. No matter how apposite your title may appear for the book you’ve written; check to see if it’s been used before. As a reviewer, I see dozens of examples where authors use a title that has between 3 – 7 titles already. Give yourself a chance of success! Five minutes research could help find a title that lets your book stand out from the crowd.

Blurb
Some ‘How To’ authors will mention the word ‘copywriter’ in this regard. They will cost you money. Forget it. Maybe for the first book, just to give you the tutorial. After that you HAVE to go it alone. You use Social Media don’t you? And a mobile phone? So, you’re an expert in getting your message across in a limited number of characters. Develop those skills.
Your blurb should be 150 – 200 words. A maximum of 10 sentences. It should be engaging & fresh, setting the scene, introducing the characters, raising conflict, hinting at an outcome. It shouldn’t reveal too much, yet it must leave them wanting more.

I’ve found that all my Tweets can be constructed from a combination of my Blurbs, and my Reviews. Some have become a constant presence in identifying The Phoenix brand. You are the best person to do this. You know your characters; a copywriter doesn’t.

Formatting
When I started out, I used Smashwords to upload my first novel. I was given a list of 10 contacts who would format my Word file so it would pass through the ‘mincer’ first time, every time. On average, it costs me $30 per title. The lady I chose from the list at random, has become a friend over the past four years. A fellow writer, she smashes it (excuse the pun) every time. Never a problem. I tend to stick to Amazon these days, but the success rate is still 100%. This is one area where it’s worth spending the going rate to get the job done.

I’ll save you the task of adding the numbers. My hours grafting at the editing come free as far as I’m concerned, so the day Amazon confirm my title is LIVE, my savings compared to the route suggested by Joanna Penn, and others, is just shy of $1500 on every title.

My Marketing Budget
Between 2012-2014 it was only $1000; In 2015-2016 I raised the bar to $1500. In 2017, buoyed by the success of the second half of 2016, it became $2000.

Do you see why it’s vital for me to control my expenditure in every area possible? I am writing THREE titles per year. My outgoings on this first stage of the exercise could be as much as $7500; and that’s before I’ve even scheduled my first book promotion If you can afford much more, then good for you, but still watch where you spend it.

My strategy
Over the past sixteen months I’ve identified up to 75 promotion sites that claim to produce results. The costs vary, and if you go the cheap route, you will get downloads/sales, but you won’t set the world alight. Money talks. I selected maybe eight last summer, and raised my modest marketing budget to see if I could bring about a change of fortune. The ones I chose were a mix of moderately expensive, and cheap. Some were Twitter based promotions; some were email blasts to their client list, and some a combination of both.

The first six months of 2016 had yielded 1000 units. The second half of the year that figure shot up to 8000. I raised the budget bar further in January, and Freebooksy gave me a single day of over 3000 downloads of the first book in the series. At the end of August, my downloads/sales from a range of sites stand at 13000.

From now until December I’ll continue to spend $40 per week on average. My target for 2017 was 16000 units. My guess is I’ll be closer to 18000. For me, that’s outstanding. Remember where I was in January 2016? Ready to quit. I was doing everything the book promoters, and ‘How To’ writers said I should do (albeit on a shoestring) and I was lucky to achieve 20 units a week.

Can I call that successful? You bet. Could I spend $4000 or $5000 in 2018 and do even better? No idea. I’m not sure I could afford it, and if I could, are there any guarantees?

My strategy HAS to be low-cost, and low-risk. When you look at your own situation, you may realise that something similar might suit your pocket. If so, feel free to follow my tips and hints. Don’t disregard the ‘experts’ out there though, they will provide you with lots of great advice; but remember that you want to be lining your own pockets with cash – not theirs.

Proof of the pudding
I said earlier that you would hear about a bump in the road. I keep saying there are no guarantees. I tried an ‘ad-stacking’ experiment as suggested by Joanna Penn. On the 30th August, I tried to get five promotions running on the same day, without changing my overall budget. Either side of the 30th, I spent next to nothing on promotions. Only $20 on the 14th August.

One is still to give me the date it will run the Spotlight I booked. So, $65 of my $160 commitment has yet to bring any results.

Three sites began the promotion yesterday. Bump. $95 spent; $40 back in royalties so far. So, for one of the biggest single days expenditure I’ve risked, my returns look to be falling short.

What if I had risked $5000 like Ms Penn on her ‘ad-stacking’ campaign to hit #1 on the Amazon best-sellers’ lists? My career, such as it is, would have been over, and possibly my marriage , if my returns had been so poor.

I’ve proved it’s possible to reach 18000 units in a year on $40 a week. If that’s a success for you too, then go for it.

I can’t afford to do much more. It’s a long hard road. The bumps are many, but because my financial risk is low, these setbacks don’t deter me. I’ll keep plugging away, moving forward a little, day by day. 

If you want regular updates on my books, and my progress along that long, hard road, why not join The Phoenix Club? The September Newsletter (#15) will be circulated very soon.

Reality Bites!

Here we go again, marching into another Spring; full of optimism no doubt? Well, yes and no; in the year since I last experienced the gradual warming of my bones, and new growth in my garden, there have been many positives.

When you look at things more closely however – reality bites.

Do you recall my New Year resolutions? To write more; to market The Phoenix series, rather than individual titles. To double the number of downloads I achieved in 2016; and to enjoy life.

With the help of the Freebooksy promotion in mid-January, the first month of 2017 gave me huge optimism with well over 4500 downloads/sales. I had started writing the next book; the marketing plan was off to a great start, and I was enjoying life. So how did February turn out?

It’s never easy to pitch the follow-up promotion with a site that brought you plenty of success first time around. I discovered that last year with Digital Books Today, and Book Sends. A six to eight weeks’ gap should be reasonable; but ‘list exhaustion’ can strike before you know it, and the cost per unit yielded for the second, and particularly the third promotion make them far less attractive.

Last Monday, with no other promotions throughout February, I returned to Freebooksy for another Phoenix Series feature. This time, the figures fell to around 1700. There will be little point returning for six months; even then, it could give a similar return, rather than the heady heights of January.

What about all the other social media channels you’re using, you ask? That’s a fair point. This is where reality kicks in. Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Instagram, Goodreads, AskDavid, IAN (Independent Author Network) are all avenues I’ve used to spread the word about my books.

Do they help sell your books? Their effect is minimal at best.

Should I be worried? Why bother? Last February I was shifting a mere 10 – 15 copies per week. In the second half of 2016 I shifted over 300 copies per week and in 2017 so far, I’ve achieved 750 copies per week.

So, who needs Twitter, or any of the others if it comes to that? My own website, my Facebook Author Page etcetera, have plodded on for the past year with no significant improvement in traffic. There’s no evidence to suggest any one of them has been responsible for this eight-month long surge in interest in my books on Amazon.

No, the reality is the only sure-fire way for an indie author to sell books is to use a wide range of promotion sites. I’ve identified around 30 sites, where costs vary from $10 to $150 per feature.

Until last summer, I limited my marketing budget to around $500 per annum. I was well aware it was too little, so I pushed the boat out at the end of June, with $125 spread over four promotion sites. The results galvanized my enthusiasm for the game!

If I showed you a graph with the ‘peaks’ and ‘troughs’ of my weekly sales, it would become evident that when I don’t have a promotion running, the units drop dramatically. Not as low as the 10 – 15 of last February, but there’s no consistent, sustained level. Why is that? Because reality costs!

My hope was to use one site on six to eight occasions, costing $150 each time, to achieve 16000 copies (or 20000 if things went well). That’s not practical, because one site will never have a large enough list to sustain me revisiting it any more than three times in a year maximum.

My guess is that by varying the promotions, and trying to have one running somewhere every week of the year would mean I would need to up my budget to at least $5000. I’m not sure I can stretch to that – but if I could, I wouldn’t be surprised if I could achieve close to 50000 copies for the year.

What does it all mean for me going forward? Despite my reservations above, I’m going to continue using the majority of the social media channels I currently use, but I’m not going to do much more than ‘maintain’ them.

All my efforts are going into funding the promotions; what I need to locate urgently are features which help me SELL copies of books 2-6 (plus 7-9 later this year) in the series. With the first book set as Permafree, there are thousands of copies of that being downloaded, without a promotion that specifically encourages the take-up of the series as a whole.

If I can get five percent of those readers who have taken ‘The Olympus Project’ through a promotion, to BUY the other books in the series, it would help fund my extended marketing budget.

So, that’s the dilemma for March. How to fund more promotions; how to stimulate sales of the other books, and carry on writing ‘Something Wicked Draws Near’ (#7 in the series), which is scheduled for completion before the end of April.

Have a good month! I shall be busy, as you can tell!

If you want regular updates on my books, why not join The Phoenix Club? The March Newsletter (#9) will be circulated in a few hours.

The Dripping Tap Plan

With every month comes new challenges. September has thrown up a few familiar ones I’m afraid, but resilience is one attribute that a writer develops over time.

A setback that would have floored me a year ago is merely a mild irritation these days. All the evidence shows that progress is being made, so ‘onwards and upwards’.

The book promotion early last month yielded almost 900 downloads. The last three weeks were promotion-free zones and the drop-off in sales was significant, but not as low as the barely-visible levels of January to June.

The EIGHT paperbacks are now on the shelves awaiting orders. Don’t be shy!

If you’ve read the ‘Reverse Engineering’ blog post from a week or so back, then you will know I’ve been busy measuring my ‘digital footprint’ against others in my field. It’s a constant task; nothing stands still in social media. If it does; it stagnates very quickly.

So what’s new? The dripping tap? This will be evident on THREE fronts between now and the end of the year.

I’ve increased the number of daily posts via Buffer, with a mixed-bag of titles, images and media.

I’ve identified up to THIRTY promotion sites with potential benefits for the indie author. You might still see the occasional obvious ‘big spend’ on the sites I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, but essentially I’ve targeted a modest spend EVERY week across a range of promoters.

Instead of a possible ‘spike’ on a particular day, I’m hoping to spread the word far and wide, picking up a few new readers here and there, day by day.

If you want more news of offers and gifts, why not join The Phoenix Club. Newsletter #5 will be circulated to my ‘happy band of followers’ in a few hours.

Can We Learn From The Best?

I know this is earlier than expected, but I spotted a post from another blogger about ‘reverse engineering’ and thought I’d give it a spin.

The basic steps: –
1.Select a group of writers in your genre that you admire, or you believe are a few rungs up the ladder from you. I went mad and chose NINE! Three ‘greats’; three well-known indie crime thriller writers and three who specialize in Vigilante Justice series.

2.Compare and contrast your covers. Produce a photo collage. Is there anything you can learn? In my case, I noticed Ian Rankin’s Rebus series uses very similar covers across its range, quite basic in design, but easily identifiable as part of a series. As you know, I elected to keep the same Phoenix image throughout the series. Tim Stevens and Jon Mills use almost exactly the same cover image.
The font size for titles and author name on many of the people I chose is far larger than mine. Colour though, isn’t that important to the group. My cover stands out from the rest because of the bold orange I used. Or is that just me being protective?

3.Check out the ‘blurb’ for the book. I deliberately cut off where Amazon states ‘Read More’. If you haven’t captured their interest in the first half-dozen lines, why would buyers delve deeper? If you do read on, some of the ‘big’ names have reams of information, mini-reviews from other ‘big’ names and prestigious publications. Although we can’t all add in that much detail, there are tips and tricks to learn from what they say & how they say it.

4.Look at the huge variety in the author bios! Claude Bouchard tells you about his writing, but there are lots of personal insights too; he gives the impression of being approachable. The sort of guy you might want to know? Jon Mills tells you zip about himself. Decide for yourself what works best and try to match the content and flavour of your bio to which you think is the best. I’ll let you into a secret: – when I re-vamped mine last year, I visited Ian Rankin’s. Apart from all the accolades and achievements he’s got in his, it contains some personal background followed by a list of all the books he’s written in chronological order. I used his as my template; thinking I could add in the accolades if/when they came along!

5.Analyse their social media output. Where are they? What do they tweet about? How do they use their Facebook page? How interesting is their website? Do they have other ‘footprints’ to help them sell books in greater numbers than us? My chosen authors were a mixed bag, but a couple had websites that were awesome (when compared to my own) and yet Tim Stevens, who is prolific and successful doesn’t have a dedicated website. Peter James has a YouTube TV channel (another box I can now tick) and Karin Slaughter posts dozens of trailers, interviews and other items through YouTube on her website.

6.Some writers suggest you should read books by your ‘favourite’ or ‘successful’ authors and then use what they wrote about & how they did it to improve your own writing. I think that’s rubbish! Be your own person. The world doesn’t need another Ian Rankin (sorry Sir). Your stories have to be unique in some way that sets them apart from the crowd. You’ll never achieve that if you follow the template laid down by another writer, no matter how brilliant they might be.

There’s nothing really new in this approach is there? I remember reading articles from other bloggers and book promotion site owners telling me pretty much the same things over the past four years. I agonised over my covers, my blurb and my bio twelve to eighteen months ago and re-vamped everything. I think it had a positive effect; but you can’t afford to sit still. It’s time to re-assess. I’m going to sift through the data I’ve gathered and I’ll tweak those areas of my set-up I think will benefit from ‘learning from the best’. If you want to try it out yourself (I suggest on a more limited number of writers!) it might help; if it does come back & tell me all about it.

This was a bonus post. There are lots of newsworthy items left over for another day. I’ll be back in a fortnight. Happy Autumn!

Available In Words And Pictures

Before you know it, August will have come and gone. It’s time for a new blog post and another hectic month of events to catch up on.

The promotions for ‘The Olympus Project’ and ‘Gold, Silver, and Bombs’ produced a huge surge in downloads on the 8th of August, with just under 1400 books in twenty-four hours. Many thanks, and welcome to those new readers.

It was inevitable that after such a great day, the next three weeks would be an anti-climax, but it’s true what they say: – after you manage to get that ‘spike’ in sales, you don’t drop back to the level you were at previously. So, with very little promotion going on, the figures are still healthy.

Just in case you thought I sat back after completing the new book, the paperback situation has been moving forward quickly. There are EIGHT titles on Createspace waiting for their Cover files. The fabulous ‘The Cover Collection’ will be supplying those in the next few days and before you know it, I’ll be a Paperback Writer.

The heading for this blog post was ‘Words & Pictures’. I paid for Video Book Trailers for some of my early titles, but the outlay wasn’t justified by the number of views/sales they generated. I’ve got my own channel on YouTube now (Author Ted Tayler) with half a dozen Slideshows for my books. They all run for around ONE minute and although the ‘old’ ones are still out there, I’ll be using my new found skill to spice up my tweets and Facebook updates.

I’m planning a new promotion for The Phoenix series in mid-September, so watch this space. That buzz doesn’t show any signs of disappearing; even if it’s a little quieter just at present. Help me turn up the volume!

If you want more news of offers and gifts, why not join The Phoenix Club. Newsletter #4 will be circulated ‘when September comes’ – to coin a phrase.