500 top authors line up for new attack on Amazon over ‘book monopoly’ claim: Curated Post

The world of book publishing has been in a state of rapid fluctuation over the past ten years. That means that as authors, we need to keep a constant eye on all available options and be open-minded about what so many possibilities could mean for our books.

While it’s no secret that Amazon has been hogging the world of e-books ever since the release of the Kindle, its growing control over the publishing arena is making many of us nervous. This article by The Drum’s Noelle Young summarizes the recent Amazon vs. Hatchette affair and what Amazon’s monopoly could lead to.

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What I Learned from Writing Anonymously

I’ve been building quite a bit of recognition lately, and it’s a mixed bag. People have expectations, and I need to be careful to keep my writing quality at its best and to work to keep improving. That makes writing harder since I find myself pushing myself instead of writing for fun. I also have to watch the content that I write and make sure it fits with what others would expect.

Just add cliches!

About a month ago, I decided to try an experiment. I would go to the other end of the writing spectrum under a pen name and see what would happen if I did things very differently. I’m writing a series of short genre Kindle books targeted at Kindle Unlimited readers. Each book is about 5,000-6,000 words, and right now six books are out with an omnibus for the first five books at a lowered price. The genre? Teen werewolf adventure. Cliches are welcome. I’m making them as sappy and emotional as I can (a nice exercise, since one of the biggest complaints about my writing is that it isn’t emotional enough). I’m not promoting them, and I publish a new book once a week to keep them going.  Now that it’s been a while, I’m starting to see the results.

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Why Podcasting Interviews Are Essential for Authors: Curated Post

Podcasts are the newest evolution in the world of radio. I only started listening to some last year, and have my first official podcast interview on the Speculative Fiction Cantina on October 9. I’m nervous about it. Radio is never something that I thought I’d get involved with as a writer, but it is true–podcasts are becoming more popular every few months, and if you want to expand your scope and reach more readers, you should look into booking a few appearances.

Viv Oloyu is an audio marketing expert who specializes in using podcasts to promote books. In this article from, she discusses the importance of using this new medium and ways to maximise its potential for your writing career. The original link is


When developing your book marketing strategies, the written word is not your only option for book promotion. Podcasting and interviews can be an effective way to reach potential readers.

We are half way [sic] through 2015, and a lot of people who didn’t consider themselves authors or writers this time last year have written and published books. This means there are more books available fighting to catch readers’ attention.

Just as there are more books available in all genres, there are new podcast shows launched every day. Since podcasting has become more accessible to everyone through smartphones and tablets, it’s popularity has grown significantly, and I’m sure you have your favorite podcasts you listen to regularly.

Thanks to new technology, we are no longer restricted to listening to our favorite podcasts on just our devices, because Apple and Android Auto (created by Google) have created the technology for podcasts to be accessed through a car’s audio system, meaning people will be able to listen to their favorite podcasts as they drive. For Apple, about 40 car manufactures [sic] have signed up to include this technology, and 32 for Android Auto.

This is a significant development for you as an author or writer, because it means there’s a wider audience available for you to tap into and market and promote your book.

You’ve probably heard people say you should create your own podcast show as it will attract and draw your ideal reader in, and you can build your audience that way. I see this as a long term [sic] strategy that may not appeal to everyone. For those of you who want to promote your book now, podcast interviews offer you an excellent opportunity to do that.

I’ve mentioned the technology in car stereo systems, and while that’s exciting in itself (to me anyway), the point to note is that exposure is what sells books, and it’s a combination of different book marketing strategies that work. There are hundreds of podcasts available for authors, and being featured on different podcast shows will feed into your objective to sell more books.

I think audio is an amazing communication tool! It allows you to connect with people and establish rapport easily. You don’t have to worry about what you look like, and listeners get a sense of who you are. They get to know, like, and trust you, and it helps you connect with listeners in a way that can help you sell more books.

If you are excited about this prospect and ready to get started, the first thing to do is to plan and maximize your efforts. As you plan, have this at the back of your mind: there should always be a synergy between you, your book, and the listeners of the podcast. I see/hear so many people requesting to feature on different podcasts show just because they may have a large audience. That shouldn’t be the goal. The goal should be connecting with the ideal listener who will want to buy your book after listening to you talk about it.

Here are a few things to take into account as you plan:

1. Identify the compelling aspects of your book
When you’re planning your book marketing strategies, you should identify the compelling aspects of your book as hooks to draw listeners. It’s important to spend some time thinking through them, so you are clear about the exact content you want to share on different podcast shows, and the amount of content too. You don’t to give away everything during the promotion process; and planning effectively helps [sic].

For example, if you are fiction author, one compelling aspect about your book could be the location – where the book is set. Think about how you chose that location. What made it special for you? The time spent doing this will give you options on the different podcast shows that will find you and your book interesting, and more important, relevant to their listeners. This will also pay dividend when it comes to repurposing content which I talk about below.

2. Consider the listeners’ interest
When you’ve spent time planning the content you want to share, it should become clearer to you who will be interested in those aspects. Take the time to plan according to what listeners will be interested in. If people don’t see – or in this case, hear – something relevant to them, they are less likely to be interested in you and or your book.

Using the location example again, an author can approach a travel podcast to talk about why that location is central to the book. Highlighting the exciting features of the places their listeners can visit can put you and your book into context for listeners to relate to.

3. After the interview, repurpose your content
It’s easy not to consider what next to do after an interview. A lot of people don’t think their podcasting interviews have any value once they are over and published, but they are wrong.

One of the additional reasons I recommend authors plan content ahead of time, is so they have different content from their book they can repurpose. Ask the podcasting show host for a copy of the interview, explaining you want to use parts of it in your marketing and book promotion; most will understand and oblige you with an MP3 audio file.

You can edit the file into sound bites, upload to SoundCloud (the first 180 minutes is free!), and easily share across your social media platforms. SoundCloud is a great audio platform built with features for social engagement which authors and writers can benefit from.

Apart from repurposing into sound bites, you can create a video file and upload to YouTube, with an image with what the clip is about. There are a lot of people who only use YouTube as their source of education and entertainment, so there’s an audience there waiting for you.

Finally, transcribe your interview and use the content for your blog or website – or approach someone in the industry for a guest blog feature, further extending the reach of your book.

These are exciting times for you as authors and writers, because technology continues to create more opportunities for you to reach and engage with readers and potential fans at little or no cost.

Whatever your book marketing strategies, take into account that your potential readers consume content in different ways that suit their lifestyle and their learning styles. As an author, you should create content in various formats to reach as many people, and sell as many books, as possible.


Avoiding Writing Paralysis Due to Over-Analysis: Curated Post

In the world of hobby board gaming, there is a term that is frequently flung around when it comes to someone taking too long on his or her turn–AP, or analysis paralysis. Basically, analysis paralysis happens when a player feels the need to examine every upcoming possibility before deciding on a move or strategy. It can hold up everyone else at the table and keep anyone from having a good time.

This happens in writing, too. Many people begin writing books, but stop eventually because they don’t know where to go from a certain point. If you over-think too much, your writing will come to a halt and your writerly ambitions will die. In this post from the Kill Zone blog, bestselling thriller author James Scott Bell shares his views on this age-old dilemma and offers tips for moving forward. You can read the original post here:

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Fruit stand

How to Improve Your Description Copy to Sell More Ebooks: Curated Post

When I was trying to find reviewers for my novel Automaton, there was one thing that they mentioned repeatedly as convincing them to read the book–the blurb. It wasn’t a traditional blurb. I had heard recently that book blurb and description experimentation is a great thing and will get you noticed easily. It was easy for me–just thinking about the nature of the story gave me an idea for a gripping description. But what about when you don’t know where to start?

Dana Urban from self-publishing giant Bookbub explains some of Bookbub’s tricks for getting more noticeable and better blurbs–what to include and what you might as well leave out. You can read the original post here:


Your book description on retailer sites like Amazon is one of the most important ebook marketing elements at your disposal. Your cover and title will catch potential readers’ attention, but your description is what will make the sale. The strongest part of your description should be the first 150 words. But what can you do to pack a bigger punch into such a small space?

At BookBub, we often run split A/B tests to see what blurb copy resonates most with our subscribers. In this post we’ll share the biggest takeaways so you can incorporate these findings into your own book descriptions.

How we tested our blurbs

Before diving into the results, let’s review how we collected this data. When sending our daily BookBub Featured Deals emails, we ran A/B tests, randomly sending a slightly different version of the same promotion to two groups of our subscribers. For example, Group A received one version of blurb copy while Group B received another, though everything else in the promotion remained exactly the same. This method allowed us to isolate the copy and find out which version appealed more to our readers.

How BookBub Tested Blurb Copy

It’s important to note that we tested the copy only in emails to our own members, so while these results are good indicators as to what copy BookBub readers prefer, implementing the findings from these tests won’t guarantee an increase in sales.

Copy that sells based on actual data

Here are some examples of copy changes that made a big impact on engagement in the BookBub Featured Deals emails.

  • Quote authors, not publications. When including a blurb in the copy, quoting an author got an average 30.4 percent higher click-through rate than quoting a publication.
  • Cater to your audience. Including copy like “If you love thrillers, don’t miss this action-packed read!” instead of “An action-packed read!” increased clicks 15.8 percent on average. For historical fiction, including the time period increased clicks an average of 25.1 percent.
  • Include high numbers of reviews. When a book has at least 150 five-star reviews on Amazon or Goodreads, including the number of five-star reviews in the copy increased clicks an average of 14.1 percent.
  • Choose the highest number of reviews. If a book had more reviews on Goodreads than Amazon, for example, including the Goodreads reviews resulted in an average 5.1 percent higher click-through rate than including the Amazon reviews.
  • Include author awards. If the author has won an award in the past for any book, including this fact would increase clicks an average of 6.7 percent, especially if the award signified the genre of the book (for example, the Shamus Award for mysteries).

Copy that doesn’t make a difference

For several tests we ran, we were surprised by the results in that there were no results — these changes didn’t make a difference in engagement whatsoever!

  • Bestseller type. Whether a book is a New York Times bestseller, USA Today bestseller, or Amazon bestseller, including one versus the other in the copy didn’t make a difference. Including the fact that the book was a bestseller did help!
  • Posing the hook as a question. We tested posing the hook as a question versus a sentence, and it made no difference. For example: “Will Cora discover that he’s the perfect guy?” and “Cora may discover that he’s the perfect guy.” yielded the same exact results.
  • Mentioning the age of the protagonist. Mentioning the protagonist’s age made no difference, even for young adult novels.
  • Mentioning a debut. If a novel is an author’s debut, mentioning that fact one way or the other didn’t make a difference at all.

How to run your own tests

There are various methods you can use to test specific elements of your book before releasing it into the wild, including your book title, cover design, and description.

You can either run a drastic test or an incremental test:

  • Drastic test: the two variations you test against each other are completely different.
  • Incremental test: the two variations are only slightly different. The blurb tests we ran are examples of incremental tests, in which we changed a few words or a sentence within the blurb copy.

There are different methods for testing your design:

  • Qualitative: Poll your audience to find out which variation they like better. This is a subjective approach because respondents see both variations.
  • Quantitative: Split A/B test your variations with equal segments of your audience. Results are based on raw data (e.g., the number of clicks) and performance results.

Ideally you’ll use both polling and A/B testing as part of your testing strategy. Let’s dive into some of these testing methods.

Option 1: Use polling software like PickFu

PickFu makes it easy for authors to get qualitative results quickly since PickFu has an established testing audience. Survey respondents need to say why they made the selection they did — this way, you’ll know they didn’t arbitrarily choose one variation over the other.

Here’s an example of a copy test for 21 Days in Maui:

Copy Test PickfuSee the full test results here.

PickFu isn’t free — you can purchase polls a la carte for $20, and you’ll get 50 max responses per poll. Or you can pay $49 (three polls) or $99 (seven polls) per month, depending on how many responses you want per poll.

Option 2: Run a poll on your website or blog

You can also run a simple poll by using free tools like PlayBuzz and embedding your poll directly on your website or on a blog post. There’s no limit to the amount of responses you can get. However, you have to rely on your own network to get responses, so depending on your fan base size, it could take longer to get results. Fortunately, PlayBuzz makes it easy to share your poll on social media sites so you get more traction.

You can test anything from cover design to your book title to description copy, as long as you incorporate your A vs. B test elements into a single image for the poll. Here’s an example of a poll testing copy:

PlayBuzz Copy Test

Option 3: Run a Facebook ad campaign

With Facebook ads, you can run a split A/B test and get quantitative results for as little as $30. Creating an ad on Facebook is pretty simple. For example, choose the ad objective “Send people to your website.” If your book has already been released, use your Amazon page as your landing page. If it hasn’t been released, create a page on your website where visitors can sign up for a notification when your book is available to order.

Next, choose the demographics to target. For example, if you’re a Young Adult author, you can target females aged 15–19 who speak English and have specified “reading” as an interest.

Your next step depends on what you’re testing:

  • Cover design: Upload multiple images to your ad. The recommended image size is 1200 x 628 pixels. If you upload a standard portrait book cover image, only a portion of your cover will appear in the ad.
  • Copy: Create a new ad with the same budget and targeting the same audience in which you edit either the headline (book title) or the ad copy (description).

Facebook Cover Test

Option 4: Run an A/B Test Email Campaign

Do you have a list of people who have signed up to receive email updates from you, or subscribers to your author blog? If so, send them a split A/B test email promoting your book. Link to your Amazon page if the book is out, or link to a page on your website where people can opt in to get notified when the book is released. The emails should be identical except for element you’re testing. The variation with the highest click-through rate will be your winner.

Here are some reasonably priced email service providers that make it easy to run split A/B test email campaigns:

  • MailChimp
  • AWeber
  • Campaign Monitor

How To Write Better Fiction: Curated Post

Yeah, the title of this article is pretty bland, but the tips are surprisingly good. In an earlier post, I wrote about the importance of using background activities and cultural details to break the tedium of talking head scenes, like meals and board games, or even illnesses to give the characters something to do. UK blogger Mooderino has shared some other excellent tips on her blog, Moody Writing. The link is for anyone who wants to read the original.

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Showdown: Yarny vs. Litlift

Writing your novel as a Word document might be simple, but it comes with a lot of risks. The file could be lost. Your computer could get smashed on by a visiting elephant. Or you could find yourself stuck for eight hours in an airport without access to your computer, wanting to write but not having any way to store it except to email it to yourself–which is awkward and clunky.

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