book promotion, publishing

What took you so long?

So, Curtis, Perfume Island is finally ready for release.

Ha! L’Arlésienne arrives at last.

I’m sorry?

A young woman from Arles in Alphonse Daudet’s play of the same name. She’s talked about all the time but never actually appears on stage. The term now applies to something we’re led to expect but which never arrives.

I see. Well, I hope it’s worth the wait. What took you so long?

You may recall it was about to come out last year, but-

You think I recall that? With all the other books I have to read?

Well, if you stop interrupting, I’ll remind you. My publisher at the time was… let’s just say I decided it would be better to do it myself. At which point I embraced self-publishing fully, stigma and all – well, there isn’t one, is there? Once you decide to go down that road, you can’t let doubts like that get in the way.

And what did it involve in concrete terms?

I realized my marketing strategy was non-existent. I kept reading that the best way to reach out to readers, and above all to keep them, was through a mailing list, so I set about building one. I’ve done a giveaway and two cross promotions, and now have a list of about 420.

Who are all going to read Perfume Island?

If only! No, but eight of them – people I don’t know at all – have already agreed join my launch team. Which basically means they get free stuff in exchange for writing a review and spreading the word when the book comes out. Of course, 420 is a tiny number – self-publishing guru Mark Dawson has 60000. But it’s a start. The next 12 months will be a test of how well this works. Right now, I’m just pleased that I did part ways with my publisher – having control over the whole process makes a huge difference. Even if I make mistakes, they’re my mistakes and I can decide how to fix them. And I’m finding that marketing can be enjoyable too, once you start to look at it as a creative, learning experience.

Any final message you’d like to give?

Just my heartfelt thanks to the Writers’ Co-op. It seems a long time ago when GD put forward the idea on Book Country. We’re hardly big, but the level of support is tremendous. And though we write in different genres, we share the same commitment to the process. Every word of encouragement has been precious. You guys rock!

15th November – release of Perfume Island. The Arlésienne appears!



book promotion

Marketing update


A short while ago I announced I was doing a giveaway. It ended on 5th July, so here are the preliminary results. In fact I also participated in a cross-promotion in which 20 mystery and suspense authors made their books available free on Instafreebie, undertaking to promote the offer to their mailing list.

The giveaway was costly – the value of the prize plus promoting the giveaway itself came to over $200. I’d hoped for a minimum of 200 subscribers; I got 97. Conclusion? Not worth it. Especially when compared to the cross-promotion, which cost me nothing (Instafreebie offer a free trial for a month, after which it’s $20 a month if you want to collect the email addresses of those who download your book).

The cross-promotion brought in 576 subscribers, meaning I now have upwards of 700 altogether. In three years of blogging, I laboriously reached 65, so the sudden influx is massive. Is this the way forward? Everyone says so.

Now the challenge is to convert those subscribers into readers, and ultimately readers who’ll want to pay for the next book in the series. I’m approaching this with some trepidation – send out too many emails, be too pushy or adopt the wrong tone, and they’ll unsubscribe. So far, my unsubscribe rate is under 4%, which is healthy. If it goes up to 7%, Mailchimp (free till you get to 2000 subscribers) suspect you of spamming and send you nasty warnings.

A lot of people, of course, don’t even open the emails. Or don’t read the free books. Or if they do, don’t pay for the next one. So only a tiny proportion of subscribers will become your followers or fans. How tiny? Only time will tell. But at least it feels like I’ve got some sort of traction, a sense of control over a process which has hitherto been random and wasteful. If I convert just 5% of subscribers into followers, that’s 35 – not a lot, but still way more in a single month than in three years of effort up to then. So what do I do next? Rinse and repeat.



blogging, book promotion

Styles of Promotion.

In terms of promotion, what works?

In the marketing groups (there are many) on Facebook, there’s so much schmaltz: “Amid the burning chaos that has become his life, Saro finds a solace he never expected, eyes filled with understanding and a smile that steals his heart even though he’s only begun to trust.”

Your eyes start to glaze over.

Here’s a restrained pitch: “Discover a love so deep it defies a 40-year family feud.” One short sentence, and there’s a cover, with no tits and no muscles, amazing! I guess that works if you’re known. Another Gage! He’s great! I’ll read anything he writes. 40-year feud. Sounds fascinating!

One guy is offering – for five dollars – to post your book on his personal book promotion group:

I will promote your EBook by posting your ad on my HUGE Social Media Network. You get massive exposure! This Facebook group has 114,000+ members and adds almost 1,000 new members per day!!! All of these members WILL SEE YOUR ADVERTISEMENT.”

114,000 members? (Hard – damn hard – to buy.) Most of whatever number probably inactive, like on any site. No thanks.


Most of the marketing groups are closed groups, you have to ask to join, but permission to join comes almost immediately. I doubt that they turn anyone away except (maybe) folks pushing extra nasty porn.

I’ve seen thoughtful entreats, but way more gush. I’ve come to the conclusion that it makes no real difference. Nobody pays much attention to any of it. (FYI: I’m my own guinea pig.)

I’ve asked a dozen promotional geniuses (Ladies! You’re not going to believe how hot this is!) how their various styles of tout are doing (I asked nice, I swear) and have had no replies.

Jim Meirose is one I followed up on. He sounds like he’s arrived, like he’s successful. (He is, with shorts. I don’t think he’s got his novels off the ground yet. His novels on Amazon are down in the million-plus with the rest of us.)

He has a long list of credits for stories published in some well-known magazines. I read one of his shorties and liked a whole lot about it. I will definitely read more of him. I found him by accident. He happens to be married to a cousin I’ve been out of contact with for decades. I recently joined FB. Long lost relatives are coming out of the woodwork.

Facebook is useful. I’ve gotten some good advice on there. (Nothing astonishing, that I didn’t know or couldn’t have figured out.)


Tim Flanagan in the group Marketing for Authors says:

Hi Mimi – I’ve just had a look at the writercoop website. I like the idea – authors should always support other authors. Have all the authors got their own independent mailing lists and websites and social media pages? If not – that’s the first thing you should ALL have, separate to the coop website. If you have each got your own platforms you should have all that information on the coop website.

I notice a few of the authors have their own websites but they’re not particularly engaging or visually interesting from a reader’s POV. You should also be cross promoting each other on your own platforms. Use each other’s mailing lists. Add links to each other’s books in the back of each others books. Put a box set together -one book from each author.

Your greatest strength is in cross promoting between each other. Alternatively, improve your coop website so that it appeals to readers rather than just explaining who you are. Set up a mailing list for the coop as a whole. Give away a small starter library featuring a short story from each writer in exchange for a reader giving you their email – build a coop following that each writer can tap into.

Separately, have a short story on amazon for promotional purposes only – each other can use their 5 free days every couple of weeks so there is more exposure for that author, but also the others in the coop. There’s lots you can do but it depends how serious you all are as individual writers, as well as a cooperative. Message me if you want more information.”

Crap! That’s a job of work there. But we have to implement at least some of these suggestions if we want to flourish. I have my hands full with my own site, but as I learn, I’ll pass it on.


Here’s a piece off Scribophile:

I’ve just discovered that there’s a thing called debut author classes (class as in class of 2017, not as in lesson). Basically, all the debut authors with books coming out in a certain year (and usually from the same genre/age group) form a group where they help promote each other. They also have a blog that showcases all of their members, their books, and blog posts. Members have to contribute blog posts, read and review a certain number of their peers’ ARCs, promote their peers, and do a bunch of other stuff. I’m following some of the members on Twitter, and seeing all the camaraderie and conversations and shoutouts and shameless promotion of other people’s books is really cool. Unfortunately, you have to be traditionally published to join. Is there anything like this for indies? Not a typical book blog, the focus not to promote a *book*, it should be book-themed entertainment to subtly hawk your wares.

(Isn’t that what we’re trying to do?)


Screen Shot 2016-09-04 at 12.58.01 PM.png

I like this, clear, lots going on, front and center links.

I think our best immediate move is to punch up the layout of our site, have a prominent list of previous features, the front page presenting a lead article and a roster of additional titles and links.

Here’s a screen shot of a site that caught my eye. This will be a lot of work to set up. But it may be easy to maintain.

We have great content, for a certain audience. (Not for the Ladies-this-book-is-hot-hot-hot crowd. Thank God.) But we must boost our visibility, and our vitality.

Can we get our articles accepted on other sites, with links to us? Everybody is hungry for striking content, and we certainly have it.