How Author Newsletters Help Sell Your Books – with David Ebsworth

The Assassin's Mark book tour logoI’m delighted to welcome David Ebsworth to Off The Shelf today for a stop on his global tour promoting his latest historical novel, The Assassin’s Mark, which was one of the best books I read last year. Dave’s going to tell us today how he uses his author newsletter to keep readers informed about his work and to prime them to buy, recommend and generally spread the word about his historical novels.

But first, a little more information about The Assassins’ Mark

Anyone who knows Dave will recognise that he’s a bit of a globetrotter, whether whizzing around the internet or in real life, carrying out meticulous first-hand research for his novels and reaching out to new audiences for his published books. (Well, that’s his excuse!)

David Ebsworth, Debbie Young & Helen Hollick at Foyles

Dave at his talk at Foyles, Bristol about The Assassin’s Mark, with me (centre) and historical novelist Helen Hollick

I was lucky enough to attend one of his author talks about The Assassin’s Mark at Foyles in Bristol last summer, and his detailed, passionate account of how he came to write his novel and the history behind it was full of infectious enthusiasm.

I thought I had a reasonable knowledge of the events of the Spanish Civil War, having studied it at school and read Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia, but Dave uncovered the most extraordinary facts that played a central part in his novel. Who knew that Franco organised tourist bus trips around the battlefields while the war was still going on, in American-style yellow school buses? The hero of The Assassin’s Mark, a British press reporter, goes along for the ride, and soon he has a murder to report on.

For more about the novel, read my review here – or visit Dave’s website, www.davidebsworth.com.

But now back to the subject of how to use author newsletters to sell your books, with Dave’s providing the perfect case study…

My introduction to Dave actually came via a recommendation for his newsletter from our mutual publisher SilverWood Books, when I was researching my book promotion handbook, Sell Your Books! Publishing Director Helen Hart suggested I check out Dave’s newsletter as a model of direct author marketing.

Having read one issue, Dave won me over, and I immediately became a subscriber. His newsletters are so pleasant to read that I open and read every issue all through, immediately on receipt – and not many messages in my inbox get that treatment! 

So, Dave, over to you to share your top tips about author newsletters…

How long have you been writing a newsletter and why did you set it up in the first place?

Well, thanks for hosting this, Debbie. I set up the newsletter in January 2012. My first book, The Jacobites’ Apprentice, was due to be published and I had started looking at ways to market the novel. Helen Hart at SilverWood had advised me to subscribe to the free newsletter called The Book Marketing Expert produced regularly by Author Marketing Experts. Apart from all the other excellent book promotion and publicity tips offered, it struck me that a newsletter of that sort was exactly what I needed myself – mainly because I was sold on the idea that I needed  a more intimate and “one to one” contact with friends, family and supporters than I could achieve through a blog.

How often do you send it and is there any particular day or time that seems to work best for you?

The newsletter goes out on the first of every month, come rain or shine, at about 7am (UK time). It took me a while to realise that there wasn’t really a “best time” for this since lots of my readers are scattered across time zones from India to the USA, so I simply picked the hour that suited my own work schedule best.

How do you manage the mailing list – do you use MailChimp or something else?

I get a lot of stick for this, but actually I manage the whole list myself. There’s nothing wrong with MailChimp at all, but I like to be able to reassure subscribers that I use no third-party provider whatsoever and that the addresses are all “blind copied” so that nobody but myself sees them. With all the fears that exist just now around online security, I feel happier doing it this way. So I simply type up the newsletter, mail it to myself and BCC it to a batch of recipients – normally around 40 at a time so I don’t fall foul of any spamming controls. It takes 2-3 minutes for each batch, no more than that. And the whole process takes me less than an hour.

What software do you use to format the newsletter, or is it a simple email?

It’s a simple e-mail. I use Comic Sans or similar, and just add a bit of colour to some of the headings. Then, after I finish circulating, I also post to my website. You can see it here: http://www.davidebsworth.com/page4.html

Copy of The Assassin's Mark with matching bookmarks

More great marketing materials from David Ebsworth

After you’d initially set up your mailing list and newsletter format, how much time do you spend per month managing it?

It varies. Subscribers end up on the list in two main ways. First, whenever I do an “event”, I always make sure (of course!) to have my Visitors’ Book with me and I specifically invite people to write down their e-mail addresses. That bit’s easy. I just add them when I get home – only a few minutes work.

But second, I monitor my presence on Goodreads a lot. So, whenever I arrange a Giveaway on Goodreads, lots of readers “add” the book to their own lists. Last time, there were around 600 who “added” my second novel, The Assassin’s Mark. There’s a facility to message each of them, although you have to be careful that this also does not fall foul of the anti-spamming guidelines. So I just send a brief thank-you for adding my book and ask whether they’d like to also receive my newsletter. From my experience, around 10% say yes.

It’s a very time-consuming process, and the Goodreads in-house security system will only allow you to send a limited number of messages each day. I just stick at it until the job’s done – maybe an hour each day for a few weeks. But obviously that’s only a couple of times each year.

How do people react to your newsletter? Do they email you back with a reply? Do you notice a boost in sales or website hits after you’ve sent one out?

Because it goes out as a personal e-mail, with only me and the recipient showing on the address lines, it seems to encourage responses. People will “chat” with me about something in the contents, exactly as with any other e-mail. And I often have a genuine “call to action” in there somewhere. I usually struggle, for instance, with titles for new books so I’ll ask subscribers to “vote” for various choices – usually with very positive results. I can’t honestly say that I’ve seen any boost in sales from the newsletter (I’m not that good at monitoring sales figures anyhow!) but certainly an increase in website hits.

What are the three biggest benefits for you of running a newsletter?

First, it helps me to both drive and monitor my activity. In other words, it gives me a chance to list both what I’ve done over the previous month, as well as what’s coming up in the following few weeks. If I struggle to fill the newsletter, I know I’m not working hard enough! Second, it helps me to spread the word about forthcoming events on a one-to-one basis. Third, it’s my favourite way to engage with readers and supporters – once again, at a very personal level.

What is the most surprising result you’ve ever had from one of your newsletters? The most gratifying? The most negative?

I have to be honest and say that I can’t think of a single negative result since I’ve been running this. The most surprising, gratifying and amusing, I suppose, was the response to a “call to action” I made about Goodreads listings. I guess everybody knows about Goodreads, and that the site has a Listopia section. So you can look up the books that readers have voted to include, for example, as “Best Historical Fiction”, “Best Romance” and so on. I’d not really looked at these very much but somebody drew my attention to the fact that my second novel, The Assassin’s Mark, was showing on the “Best Books about the Spanish Civil War” and at number 10. Well, that was OK, but I thought we could do better, so I invited my readers to look at the list and, if they wanted, to vote for Assassins.  

As a result, it’s now number 1 – ahead of both George Orwell and Ernest Hemingway. This doesn’t mean much in terms of pure book sales, but it’s a wonderful tag line, isn’t it? “The Assassin’s Mark – Voted by Goodreads as the Best Book ever written about the Spanish Civil War”!

How much has the mailing list grown or fluctuated since you set it up?

I had just 25 subscribers when I started, and the list has now grown to almost 600. And I’m pleased to say that I’ve only ever had one person unsubscribe.

What would be your three top tips to any author setting up a newsletter of their own?

First, keep it simple but informative – no waffle. Second, try to make it entertaining – a modest amount of humour goes a long way. Third, make sure you engage with readers through realistic “calls to action.”

What are the most popular elements of your newsletter? Do you run any subscriber-only offers? Do you give subscribers sneak previews of events and releases?

Anecdotally, I think the most popular elements are the “calls to action” since I think readers quite like to feel close to their authors. To “know” them, almost. And I certainly give subscribers sneak previews of events. But I’ve only recently started to think about subscriber-only offers. Mainly this is because I have badly neglected Twitter as a marketing tool, but have recently been persuaded to use this a bit more. So I’ve brought in some help from an organisation called PubShelf who are beavering away to boost the number of my followers. At the moment, I’m putting on an extra 100 followers each week, but I really need to drive these towards my books – or, better still, to my newsletter. As a result, my website www.davidebsworth.com now has its own Giveaway page. A series of tweets will direct people there to receive free copies of exclusive short stories (my own, naturally) and all they need to do to receive them is sign up for the newsletter. Simples!

Why do you need a newsletter as well as a blog?

Because I’m hopeless at maintaining a regular blog, of course! Seriously, I have huge admiration for those authors who manage to maintain their weekly or bi-weekly blogs but I’m just no good at it.  I tried – really I did! And, to be fair, I do still blog as often as I can, both on my website and on Goodreads. But the newsletter is simply more manageable for me. And, as I’ve already said, I feel as though it gives me far more two-way personal contact than I’ve ever experienced from the blog alone. There must be a thousand-and-one ways to improve on this model but, so far, this one has worked very well for me.

Thanks, Dave, for that detailed and inspiring account of how you’ve made such a success of your author newsletter. There are lots of inspiring ideas there, and you make it sound relatively painless and easy, provided the author is prepared to invest the necessary time. Good luck with the rest of your book tour, and I hope it brings you many new subscribers, as well as book sales! 

If, after reading this interview, you’d like to sign up for David Ebsworth’s newsletter, please feel free to drop him an email – you know he’ll be glad to hear from you! 

To read my review of The Assassin’s Mark, click here.

How to Sell More Books: Network! with Guest Author Chele Cooke

Photo of Chele Cooke, author of "Dead and Buryd"

Social networker extraordinaire, the author Chele Cooke

With social media now an established part of modern communications, self-published authors have at their disposal a huge armoury of networking weapons to raise the profile of themselves and their books. But which to choose?

Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest and GoodReads are currently the best known, but not every author feels comfortable with all or any of those. There is also the worry that if any social media currently in the ascendant may be be a bubble that is about to burst – who uses MySpace these days?

When most writers have day jobs and find it hard enough just to make time to write as much as they’d like to, it’s important to decide which of these – or of the many other networking choices – is right for you and your book.

I recently came across a debut fantasy writer – on a Facebook forum, as it happens – who impressed me with her particular approach to networking, including some routes that I confess I’d never heard of (showing my age here, perhaps!) She joins Off The Shelf today to talk about how she is using social networking not only to launch her debut sci-fi/fantasy novel, Dead and Buryd but also to foster her development as a writer.

Debbie: Hello and welcome, Chele Cooke! I first came across you and your book via ALLi’s private Facebook forum to which we both belong, and you immediately struck me as a natural networker. But you told me that you presence on Facebook is only the tip of your networking iceberg, and that you’re also very active in “RPing”. I had to ask you what that was! What exactly is RPing, how has it fostered your development as a writer and how is it now helping you spread the word about your writing?

Chele: It’s very nice to receive such a wonderful compliment right off the bat, as networking is something I’m usually quite worried about. As the new kid in school, so to speak, it can often be worrying that you’re coming off as pushy or asking too many questions.

RP (or Play-by-Post Roleplaying) has proved a massive influence in my writing. I started RPing as a young teenager, and it sparked my interest in writing and stories as a whole. Writing alongside others fosters a feeling of cooperation, as plots don’t always go the way you’d planned. I became used to changing ideas at the last minute and finding different directions to take things, which really helps me come up with a number of directions to take my writing now. If I feel that something isn’t working properly, I can change it.

The RP community is also incredibly enthusiastic about new ideas and when people decide to take their writing further. Different RP sites need to advertise themselves in order to gain members, and advertising my own writing is rather similar. I find that you have to be unafraid to catch people’s attention, but not too pushy as to annoy people. It’s a game of balances.

Debbie: In a way, RPing sounds similar to writing fan fiction, which is a great way of refining your writing and making new like-minded writer and reader friends. What part did fan fiction play in your development as a writer?

Chele: There is a well-known phrase that ‘you need to learn to walk before you can run’ and I am a big advocate for fan fiction for this reason. There are a lot of different aspects to learn when you start writing, from characterisation to setting, from grammar to plot timing. For a new writer, trying to take on all these things at the same time is, at best, tricky. By starting out in fan fiction, I took out some of those elements and focused on things like plot and sentence structure. The setting and characters (for the most part, I did have a few original characters in there) were already laid out, so I could focus on them less. Doing this meant that when I was ready to move on to my own original fiction, it was less to learn all at once.

Some of my fan fiction should probably be burned and never looked at again, but I have a number of stories that I’m incredibly proud of, and are still available online. In fact, I still get new notifications of people selecting them as a favourite, or leaving a review on pieces I posted years ago. I think they’re pretty good obscure advertisements for my new writing.

Debbie: Another social media that I’ve shied away from myself, and always wondered whether I’m missing something, is Pinterest, of which I gather you’re a big fan. How have you used Pinterest and what does it offer that other social media can’t?

Chele: I think RP and fan fiction have really bolstered my appreciation of a medium like Pinterest. These are often incredibly visual, with people creating graphics to advertise their work. As these are mostly non-profit, you get very used to searching the internet for images that represent part of your work. That’s pretty much what I’ve been doing with Pinterest, giving readers a visual insight into my writing.

There is a big similarity between Pinterest and Tumblr, in which they are both very image based, but I personally find Pinterest easier to use for an advertisement purpose. You can collect all the images in the same place, especially if you’re working with multiple books, where as Tumblr is completely chronologically organised.

I think the important part with any social media platform is that you enjoy doing it. If you don’t enjoy it and updating it becomes a chore, it isn’t going to be as enjoyable for readers either. I really enjoy using Pinterest, and I think that shows.

Debbie: Coming back to the more commonly used social media, Facebook and Twitter, how do you use those two to promote your work?

Chele: Currently, I’m using Facebook and Twitter a little differently than I usually would because Dead and Buryd has only just been released, so much of my social media has been geared toward that. However, on a day-to-day basis, I use social media to let people know about me far more than I broadcast my writing.

I find, and this goes for face-to-face networking as well as online-based relationships, that if you go into it with the intention of making a sale, people will quickly lose interest. Nobody wants to hear ‘buy my book’ screamed into a vacuum thirty times a day. I tend to focus my tweets and statuses more to my life. Sometimes this involves writing and where I am on a project, but mostly it’s things that I find interesting or amusing, little tit bits from my day. I find that if people are interested in me, they’ll be more likely to be interested in taking a look at my writing.

Cover of "Dead and Buryd" by Chele Cooke

Now on tour: Chele Cooke’s debut sci-fi/fantasy novel

Debbie: This post is appearing as part of a blog tour celebrating the launch of your debut novel. How did you go about setting up your blog tour and how is it going so far?

Chele: I’m finding blog touring very interesting, but I’ll admit, for a first-time author, it has been a little difficult. Blog touring, it seems, relies on connections, which I haven’t had all that long to create within the author and book blogging community. I think I probably would do better next time, when I have more of a background to my writing.

In general though, mainly I contacted friends and people I know through ALLi. There is a great feeling of cooperation, especially in groups such as ALLi, so I spent a lot of September hosting guest posts on my own blog, helping others the way they planned to help me. There have been a few hiccups with missing days, but I’m not letting it get to me. Hope for the best but plan for the worst, I guess.

Debbie: Of all the networking facilities that we’ve discussed here – the various social media and the blog tour – if you had to choose only one to promote your book, which would it be and why?

Chele: That’s a very tough question, because I use all of them for different aspects. I think that if I had to choose only one, I’d have to go with Facebook. There are so many little communities that you can become a part of, not simply for advertising, but because I find the conversations genuinely interesting. Plus, Facebook has the added bonus of being able to post a variety of different content, whether it’s texts, links, or images. Everything you post is right there, instead of linking you away to something else.

Of course, I’d rather have my selection of mediums going on. It’s far more interesting.

Debbie: Thank you so much, Chele, for that fascinating insight into how you’re using the combination of social media that suits you best. I really enjoyed your book, by the way! Good luck with the rest of your blog tour – I’m sure it will be a great success!

  • For more information about Chele Cooke, visit her website, where you’ll also find her many social media links!
  • To read  my review of Dead and Buryd, click here.
  • If you’re interested in finding out more about ALLi (the Alliance of Independent Authors, to which I also belong and whose blog of self-publishing advice I edit), click here.

Spread The Word With GoodReads

English: Open book icon

Open book  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you’re published a book recently or are about to publish one, here’s a simple, free, effective way to find new readers.

First, you will need to be a member of GoodReads. Described as a “Facebook for readers and writers”, GoodReads is a social network that is free to join, discreet and uninvasive, so you have nothing to lose by taking part, and potentially a great deal to gain.

Once you’ve set up your GoodReads profile, apply to join the GoodReads Author Program, an enhanced level of membership available to anyone who has written a book listed on their database. (You can also add your book if it’s not already on there. The Author Program offers you valuable advantages, including the option to set up  free promotional giveaways of your books. This is simple to do and totally under your control. All you have to do is decide how many copies to offer, the territory in which you’d like to promote it, and set a start and finish date for your promotion. In return, you gain worldwide attention for your title, free of charge.

How Many Copies To Offer

You can offer just a single copy, or as many as you like. Obviously the more you offer, the more people will enter the draw, as they’ll feel they have a greater chance of winning, but I always caution authors against giving away too many copies without good reason, on the basis that for every copy you give away, that’s one less to sell.

Which Territory to Target

You can choose the countries in which your promotion will be visible. Obviously, if the winner lives abroad, it will cost you more in postage to send their prize. Even so, it’s still a very low-cost way to reach countries that might be otherwise be beyond your budget or reach. Just be sure that you own the copyright for the book in your target countries. Apparently, for many books published in the US, the author or publisher holds the copyright only in the USA, so their promotions cannot reach abroad.

How Long to Run It For

This is entirely up to you. GoodReads suggests a month but allows you to set the start and finish date. Browse through the current giveaways and you’ll see some are longer, others much shorter. Once you’ve input the details of your proposed giveaway, it can take a couple of  days for GoodReads to approve it and make it go live. Then when its time is up, you’ll receive notification of the winner’s details, so that you know where to post the books. You send them directly to the winner, not to GoodReads.

How To Make The Promotion Work Harder

Enclose a personal note with each of the prize books. It’s reasonable to ask the winner to spread the word about the book if they’ve enjoyed it (and you hope that if they don’t, they’ll keep it to themselves!) GoodReads’ terms and conditions state that they expect the winner to post a review on GoodReads, as least, and I don’t see any harm in suggesting other places too.

Case Study

Here’s a real example of the results of a GoodReads giveaway, using my own book, published last month:  Sell Your Books!, a book promotion handbook for self-published and indie authors.

  • I offered just one copy, because I felt I should practise what I preach!
  • I chose to run the giveaway worldwide, because my book is available to order everywhere. This was an easy and economical way to reach distant countries that I otherwise only market to via Twitter and Amazon. This was well worth the price of extra postage should the winner be abroad.
  • I chose to run the promotion for a month, (a) to give people a reasonable chance of finding out about it, and (b) because I was too impatient to wait longer  for the result!
  • By the end of the month, 863 people had entered the draw, and 348 people had added it to their “to-read” bookshelf, where anyone looking at their shelves will now spot it.
  • The winner was a lady in the USA and I’ve just despatched her copy enclosing a personal note, a business card for Off The Shelf Book Promotions and a bookmark  from my publisher, SilverWood Books. My note included a gentle hint for a book review on GoodReads and Amazon US, where the book has fewer reviews than on Amazon UK.
  • In return for the cost of a single copy of my book and airmal postage of about £5, plus  a little thought and effort, I’ve been able to raise the profile of my book significantly all over the world. Result.

Bear in mind that to be eligible for a GoodReads giveaway, your book must have been published in the last six months, so don’t linger too long before making your decision, or it will be too late. Only print books are eligible, I’m afraid, so if you’ve published only e-books, this scheme isn’t for you. The reason for this is a practical one: there is no easy way to distribute free e-books that will suit all e-readers worldwide.

It’s also worth noting the wording on the GoodReads websiteL this giveaway option is offered at no charge to authors “for now”, which suggests they may charge in future. So there’s another good reason to give it a try now! Good luck with your book promotion and enjoy GoodReads.

Have you promoted your book via the GoodReads giveaway scheme? I’d love to hear how your got on! Please feel free to use the comment form below if you’d like to share your experience. 

6 Great Reasons To Keep Posting Online Book Reviews

Engraving of a Reader

(Image by Wikipedia)

To my mind, one of the greatest strengths of websites such as Amazon and GoodReads is that they allow readers (and writers) to post book reviews for all to see. Much as  I love bricks-and-mortar bookshops, I’ve never seen one yet which can do this on the same scale. (Though I DO love Waterstones‘ idea of displaying their staff’s views on books they’ve read.)

I therefore find the current “sockpuppet” controversy irritating. Haven’t we all known all along that some reviewers are unscrupulous, biased and driven by their own agenda? They are pretty easy to spot and the intelligent person ignores them and moves on.

Whatever you do, don’t let it put you off posting your reviews of books you’ve read, because, counter-intuitive as it may seem, reviewing other writers’ books is a great way of promoting your own books. It also helps you hone your own writing abilities.

Here are six sound reasons why you, as a writer, should post online book reviews:

1) Composing a formal book review is a great way of harnessing your thoughts about what works and doesn’t work in books that you have read. Building your critical faculties in this way makes you a more effective writer and editor of your own books.

2) Reviewing books in the genre in which you write, ending with a signature linking back to your own author website, raises your profile before previously unknown readers who will by definition be interested in your kind of book.

3) Reading other authors’ review pages gives you insight into how they manage their public image. Examining how they present themselves on Amazon will give you new ideas for how you manage your own publicity. They’re missing a trick if they haven’t set up their own author page on Amazon Central  and linked it back to their own author website – as are you.

4) It  helps you build a thicker skin for when you are on the receiving end of book reviews. Reading one-star reviews for books that you love will make you realise that even the best authors get slated by some readers, through no fault of their own. It’s common for someone to condemn a book because they hadn’t read the blurb properly when they ordered it, and so it turned out not to be what they were expecting or wanting to read. And of course some of reviewers are clearly just plain bonkers – or have other issues that make them enjoy complaining. (If you check out other one-star reviewers’ reviews,  you’ll often find they are negative about everything they read.)

5) It’s a great way of  encouraging other indie writers in your social network, and doubtless they will want to do the same for you. I’m not suggesting for a moment that you should post dishonest reviews full of false praise –  but you might want to keep your criticism constructive and diplomatic. And if you have something really negative to say, always consider whether online is the right place to say it. For example, if you’ve just read an e-book peppered with typos, it would be far kinder to send the author a private email, giving them the opportunity to correct their mistakes without public embarrassment. Call me old-fashioned, but “do as you would be done by” is one of my mantras.

6) Reading and writing reviews is not only entertaining. It’s also a great stimulus to your imagination. As a writer, you find yourself fleshing out the character of the people who have written the reviews, following interactions and conversations, and before you know it, you have the starting point for a novel or short story – or even a murder mystery! (If you write one, do let me know – I’d love to read it!)

So keep calm and carry on reviewing. It’s good for you as an author, it’s good for promoting your book, and it’s good for the industry as a whole. As far as I’m concerned, those grumpy people out to devalue this fabulous arena can jolly well put a sock(puppet) in it.

Further Reading

An  interesting and balanced piece from The Daily Telegraph (that’s something I don’t say very often!)

Great overview from Nick Harkaway via The Bookseller

Befriend Great Self-Promoting Authors

Mark Twain

My hero Mark Twain, whose advice about writing is still very relevant today (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This may not seem the most obvious piece of advice on promoting YOUR book, but it’s worth taking frequent steps outside your own marketing plan to examine the marketing activity  of other writers.

There are many new self-published authors out there who not only fervently promote their books, but generously share their experiences  to help other authors follow in their footsteps. And there’s never been an easier time to glean their advice.

Many of them talk openly about their book promotion success stories on their blogs. It’s the work of moments to sign up to follow such a blog, to stay effortlessly in the loop. They’re mainly self-taught and learning from their own experience, so can appreciate the lot of the newly published author who isn’t quite sure what to do next.

There are a lot of very active authors on Twitter all week, but a Wednesday is an especially good day to start as this is designated as “Writers’ Wednesday”. Many authors who don’t go on Twitter every day will make a special effort to post an update and read the latest posts every Wednesday. Relevant messages will include the tag #WritersWednesday to make it easy to find.

Choose writers to follow whose company you enjoy and opinions you respect. It doesn’t matter whether they’re working in your own genre – their advice will still be valid and most likely be applicable to your area too.

I’ve been hugely impressed by the generous nature of many authors on the web who are happy to share what traditional publishers would almost certainly want to keep to themselves. Here are two great ones to start you off:

  • Author of Can't Live Without, Joanne Phillips Joanne Phillips, whose blog is subtitled “A Writer’s Journey: Sharing my journey from unpublished writer to bestseller!, has brilliantly promoted online her first novel Can’t Live Without, is one of the best I’ve come across, sharing fascinating details such as her profit and loss account and how she managed to sell thousands of copies as the direct result of a free Kindle download offer. (Her book’s a great read, too, if you like funny, feel-good chicklit.)
  • Young Adult Fantasy Writer Richard DenningRichard Denning, who writes Young Adult Fantasy featuring time travel to great moments in history. He is an energetic and inspired book promoter, often thinking laterally to generate interest in his books. If you think you don’t have as much time spend on book promotion, take a look at Richard’s extensive website and book list and prepare to be awed – in his day job he is a GP, and day jobs don’t get much more demanding than that.

Spending time in the company of great self-promoting authors and you will also, by definition, be rubbing shoulders with people who share your passion for writing. It’s not just book promotion tips you’ll pick up (and in no time at all, you’ll be finding you have some of your own to share). You’ll also end up chatting about your writing and all things bookish – a great antidote to the loneliness of the long-distance writer, sitting day after day in isolation at a desk.

And you know what they say – success breeds success! Make sure you’re mingling with upbeat, positive thinking writers, rather than with those who are happier bemoaning the writer’s lot and showing you their collection of rejection slips.

By the way, if you find yourself benefitting from an author’s advice, do your best to repay them in kind, in the way they’ll love best: “like” their books on Amazon,  write reviews on Amazon and GoodReads, pass on their website links and Twitter handles to other aspiring authors like yourself – and don’t forget to share with them any tricks of the trade that you pick up.

But best of all, READ THEIR BOOKS!

For more advice about Twitter, you might like to read my recent post: 12 Reasons Why Authors Should Be On Twitter 

To follow me on Twitter, look for @DebbieYoungBN. (The BN stands for By Name – I’ve chosen this because I write a personal, non-writing related blog called YoungByName – oh, and because there are about a zillion other Debbie Youngs on Twitter!) 

Sell More Books!, my new book packed full of practical promotion advice (most of it which will not cost you a penny to implement) will be published by SilverWood Books this autumn – watch this space!