Mini-course on self-publishing basics

Self-publishing is easy. You write a book, edit it, put on a cover and upload it. Easy.

However, without help, the vast majority of books sink into oblivion with nary a sale. If it was your aim to get the book out of your system, you’ve succeeded, but what’s the fun if no one is reading it? You might buy a $10 ad, get two sales and the next day the book sinks again. With no reviews, you’re not even eligible to submit to many promotion sites. No sales = no reviews = no promotion. Dog, meet tail.

A sale a day per book, 30 sales a month, makes a huge difference in both your income and your book’s visibility. There are a few simple things that you can do to increase the visibility, but if you google “self-publishing”, you get hit in the face (in the search results and for months afterwards!) with ads for vanity publishers. URGH!

This is why I’ve written a free three-part mini-course on self-publishing tactics for beginners. It covers presentation and a few simple tricks that have been beneficial to many writers.

The course will go out in three emails that will be sent two days apart. Sign up for my mailing list before Saturday 9pm AEST or 4am US west coast time and you will receive the signup link with the newsletter that goes out that day.

Did I mention it’s FREE?

Mini-course on self-publishing basics was originally published on Must Use Bigger Elephants

Showing off all new covers for the Ambassador books





Do I need to add words to this to say how awesome they are? Click on images to learn more about each book, or go to my Amazon page.

All done by Tom Edwards. He will be working on book 4 Coming Home soon. I better hurry up writing The Dragon Prince (for which I also have the cover but will show off a bit later) so I can start on that book.

Showing off all new covers for the Ambassador books was originally published on Must Use Bigger Elephants

Why you are the biggest impediment to selling your books

I’ve reached the goal of having a decent stable of books. Having series with good presentation (cover, blurb, sample) is important. Few people start selling out the gate with just one book, so I wrote some series. This is still ongoing. It was my aim this year to spend more time selling my books and less time writing new books.

But where to start?

You poke around on the Kindleboards a bit, buy a few ads, butt your head against Bookbub, and eventually get accepted by them, a few times even. Each successful ad makes your sales spike, in case of Bookbub for 6 to 12 weeks even. But eventually you slide back, and you feel you haven’t made much progress.

And then you come across a post like this

OK, so you try the Facebook advertising thing. This is a good guide for how not to completely blow your money. Watch those videos. Seriously.

These posts are written by authors who have been insanely successful at what they did. Is their method going to work for you? Maybe. Could you try something a little bit different and make that work for you? Absolutely. You should be doing just that.

Because when you take away the specific advice about where and how they reached their mega sales (like exactly which tools they used) their advice looks like this:

1. Write every day. Publish.
2. Do an promotional activity every day. It better to advertise low-level every day than to run big ads with lots of days of nothing in between.
3. Give away as many books as you can for free to get people to read subsequent books, until you don’t need this tactic anymore. Advertise the hell out of your freebies.
4. Get a mailing list. Use it.

OK, so what’s up with the title? Why is the author the biggest impediment to selling books?

Because authors get hung up on things, often “helped” by an enthusiastic band of author friends.

Despite the two links I gave above, getting sales rolling is not a formulaic process. It will be different for everyone, and therefore you should be willing to change *everything* about your process.

The author likes a cover and therefore isn’t changing it. Friends may be saying “but I like that cover!” and they’re not being friends at all. They’re an impediment to the author trying out another cover (or another blurb, or another category).

The same applies to marketing. Marketing is not, ever, about individual preferences. How often do people tell you “But I hate XYZ marketing technique!” And heck, the author might even hate it themselves. The authors then lets his or her actions be coloured by those opinions.

How often have people told you:

– I fucking hate popups and close down sites that have them (yah, there isn’t going to be much of the internet left for these peeps, but what the hey)
– I never subscribe to mailing lists
– I would only send mailings for one new release per year

And yada yada yada.

So, in trying to be a good friend, you try to be as sanctimoniously least-offensive as you possibly can. Because you can’t annoy your friends, right?


Thing is: you’re not marketing to your friends. They will be your friends regardless of whether or not they buy your books. If they want to, they know where to find your books and they know when they’re out, because you never shut up about writing.

So forget about the things they tell you about whatever they hate in marketing. While you’re at it, toss your own opinions as well. Like, clear the slate. Stand up and say: I’m going to try everything at least once to see if I can get it to work.

So try stuff. Give it a good spin (like a few months). Doesn’t work? Then go back to the drawing board and try something else. Get your suggestions for which things to try from people who are where you want to be, sales-wise. Forget about how *you* would, or wouldn’t, like to be marketed at. IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU! It’s about a percentage of highly consumer-oriented people who may make a difference. You’re very unlikely to be part of that percentage. That’s OK. You are not in your target group. That’s OK. Marketing is not about you.

Why you are the biggest impediment to selling your books was originally published on Must Use Bigger Elephants

Investing in your writing

Earlier this week, Wayne Stinett, fellow self-published writer at the Kindleboards, posted this in his blog (this post opens in a new tab, so this blog post will still be here when you finish reading.

You will probably know me as someone who advocates not to spend money self-publishing. Maybe, but that’s not true. What I advocate is not to spend too much money when you’re starting out. I totally advocate spending money once you learn where to spend it. In fact, the way Wayne, who sells far morethan I do, went about the process is just about perfect.

I advocate being really careful with your initial expenses because it is so easy to become utterly discouraged by the disparity in the number of zeroes between your income and what you spent.

Why this post? Because I’m spending up. I seriously don’t want to look at my selfpublishing income vs outgoing this month.

At this point in time, I have FIVE people doing things for me.

My awesome editor/formatter I’ve had for a long time. But these days there is not a month that he’s not doing anything for me.

I’m having a whole bunch of covers designed. This is because I want to have wraparound print covers and seriously can’t be arsed to redo the illustrations. It is also because I have a few new releases coming out and my ideas for covers are moving south. And most importantly, because I think I can do better.


Tom Edwards is an awesome artist who is doing the Ambassador covers.
Damonza is considered the single best freelance cover designer. He’s doing the ISF-Allion books.
Lou Harper is a very talented graphic designer with a lot of experience. She is doing the For Queen And Country series.

And the fifth person? The woman who is translating the Icefire Trilogy into Spanish. She isn’t actually costing me any money right now (phew), but she’ll be paid out of commissions.

For me, this is a gamble. I’ve sold enough books to pay for this giant splurge, but I’m not a mega-seller. What I’m hoping for is this: awesome, really professional cover design sells. It’s not that hard to whip up an acceptable design, but there is a difference between acceptable and awesome. Awesome sells books.

Expect a lot of cover reveals shortly. First up: The Sahara Conspiracy, which will be published with the new cover by Tom.

Investing in your writing was originally published on Must Use Bigger Elephants

Photography: the best of recent trips

Blues Point. The morning looked cloudless and boring, but then this very fine haze of clouds came up.

Blues Point June 2015-6 Blues Point June 2015-8

Kurraba Point. This is looking west towards North Sydney. You can see a small piece of the Harbour Bridge on-ramp.

Kurraba Point June 2015-9

La Perouse. Bare Island.

La Perouse June 2015-2 La Perouse June 2015-8

Long Reef. This is a bloody long way from the car park, so you need to get up very early or walk very fast.

Long Reef June 2015-4 Long Reef June 2015-8 Long Reef June 2015-13

Milsons Point. It was the absolute bloody coldest morning of the year. When I came back home, the grass was still frozen.

Milsons Point July 2015-6 Milsons Point July 2015-7 Milsons Point July 2015-9

Photography: the best of recent trips was originally published on Must Use Bigger Elephants

Cover reveal: Ambassador 1: Seeing Red


Awesome artwork by Tom Edwards in the UK. Tom is becoming fast known for his signature style space art. He has done some amazing covers for fellow authors, as well as games and other illustrations. Way back when I started, he also did the cover for The Far Horizon.

I have waited to make this post, because I wanted to make sure that the cover was updated at Amazon, and they took their sweet time about it.

I’ve now placed the book, and the rest of the series in Amazon’s Select programme for a minimum of three months. Unlike my other series, the vast bulk of sales came from Amazon. I now means that you can buy it on Amazon, but if you’re a Kindle Unlimited subscriber, you can read it for free.

The next Ambassador book, The Sahara Conspiracy, will be done and off to the editor by the end of the week.

Cover reveal: Ambassador 1: Seeing Red was originally published on Must Use Bigger Elephants

News: Shifting Infinity and Ambassador

Shifting InfinityIt’s been a while since I posted here, and I guess most of you will have seen that Shifting Infinity is now live.

See all the info with website links here.

Another tidbit of news I can probably share is that it looks like the Icefire Trilogy will be available in Spanish later this year. This will add significantly to my stable of translations, since This Peaceful State of War is available in Dutch.

I’ve bitten the bullet and commissioned new covers for the Ambassador series. This is mainly because I’m looking at making all books available in print, and I don’t have highres versions of the covers, and also because of Tom Edwards! He did the cover for The Far Horizon a few years back, and his artwork has developed from really good to amazing! I have the cover for book 1 ready, and will reveal it in a separate post once the new cover has been added to the ebook files.

Also about the Ambassador series:

I’m in the process of (probably temporarily) removing them from all non-Amazon outlets so that I can try out the new KDP Select. The sales of this series, in contrary to my other series, are very skewed towards Amazon, so I thought what the heck, let’s try it. This will be for a period of at least three months, but it will also mean that if you have a Kindle Unlimited subscription, you’ll be able to get them for free. Otherwise, you can still buy them as normal.

The next book will be Ambassador 1a: The Sahara Conspiracy. This is a short novel in between book 1 and 2, set entirely on Earth, but with a good deal of extra-terrestrial fire power. I’m sorting out some backstory, but the book should be done within the next few weeks.

News: Shifting Infinity and Ambassador was originally published on Must Use Bigger Elephants