Genre blogging and how it helps you sell ebooks

I’ll be honest, I’m a bit of a blogging whore. I can’t help it. I’ve had so many blogs in my lifetime that I can’t even write them all down. In addition to running this author blog, I have a gardening one for my landscape company, I’ve just started a new one about my Second Life bookstore attempts, and I have many old and languishing websites that are long forgotten.

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been reading with increasing interest about the reasoning behind genre blogging; that is, writing about your novel’s genres and interests, rather than about the writing process itself. It does seem obvious when you think about it. If I blog about how to write novels, ways in which to promote books and my own self-publishing story, then I can expect to attract other authors who are interested in, or going through, the same process. If I blog about Inside Evil or my other books, I’m likely to attract only my current fans or those who are specifically looking for more information on my books.

However, if I blog about fantasy, science fiction and other subjects that have inspired the books, then I’m more likely to attract new readers who might give my books a go because they have similar interests. 

I’ve increasingly been thinking about blogging in my genre and how to go about it on this blog. Writing about fantasy and science fiction is no hardship for me at all – I’m more than happy to gush about Mass Effect, LOTR or Blood & Chrome for HOURS. But, these subjects are such a dramatic split from this current blog that it just didn’t sit right with me.

Would I offend current readers of this blog by posting material that they really weren’t interested in? Would new readers looking for the latest gaming update or cinema release really be drawn in by other posts about writing?

I don’t think so.

As such, I’m attempting to breathe some life back into my old blog, The Modern Hermit. I’ve had this blog running for several years, and despite not having posted on it for nearly a year, I still get more hits a day on that site than I do here, largely because the back-list of articles and keywords. The blog certainly has a different tone than here, with completely different subject matter and a far more informal, even cursing voice sometimes, but it draws readers. Readers that could become book buyers.

Today I’ve updated both the themes for each blog to tie them together, as well as adding a new page on The Modern Hermit about my writing. It means that if those interested in fantasy and science fiction material are interested, they can easily find my work, but that I can keep the realms of writing and genre blogging separate from one another.

I think my little tip here is that if you feel that two subjects don’t fit alongside each other on a blog and you run the risk of repelling the very viewers that you’re trying to attract, listen to your instincts. Instead, create two blogs with the same themes, the same look, sister sites you could even call them. Then encourage cross reading for viewers, but ensure that should they want to do so, bloggers only need read the items that interest them.

5 Things NOT to do when promoting your book on Twitter

I love Twitter. I’ve been using it for five or six years on various plaforms, and when I first took to the micro-social networking website, it was largely undiscovered. I’ve learned how to use it over time, and I love connecting with people and being social. I’d even go so far to say that because I’m so hermity in real life, tweeting people throughout the day helps me fulfil some of my social fix (SAD, I know).

Using Twitter to promote and sell eBooks

I’ve had quite a lot of success selling Inside Evil and The Tower of Souls through Twitter. I know that some authors hate the platform, and scorn anyone that promotes using it as a marketing tool. But, from first hand experience, it’s worked for me. It doesn’t sell vast numbers, but it’s sure better than being lost in Amazon’s algorithms.

Twitter won’t work for everyone, but it’s worked, and is still working, in helping me get the word out about my books. You can make friends, RT reader’s compliments to your own followers, connect with other readers – it really is a great tool.

However, over the past few months I’ve noticed that a hell of a lot of authors are just going about it completely wrong. Hell, there are some authors I follow that I seriously need to sit down and have a word with. If they’re driving me crazy when I’m trying to support them, then they must be turning potential readers off left, right and centre.

So, with that said, here are five things not to do when promoting your book on Twitter.


I truly do not care if you’re ‘promoting‘ your book, but tweeting every five minutes, hell, tweeting every 10 minutes about your book is SPAM whether you think it is or not. It fills up the Twitter feed with useless rubbish that IS NOT GOING TO BE READ by readers. Worse than that, it will cause people to unfollow you. Yes. It’s really not a good move to make. In my personal opinion, if you end up in Twitter jail, then you’re tweeting way too much and need to reign it in a bit.


OK, this isn’t quite as spammy, but tweeting your book link and only your book link is not going to gain the attention you want. If you are going to tweet about your book, at least give your followers some information, as ‘Inside Evil available now at ________‘ simply doesn’t cut it. Give your followers something interesting to read. Provide a hook for your book, use weekly events such as #samplesunday to attract people to your sample chapters, or tell folks that your book’s a bargain if they’re looking for a new read. Fill out those 140 characters so your tweets are read, rather than falling into the virtual slush pile.


Oh my, if there’s one thing that infuriates me, it’s when mutual followers send me their book link out of the blue. Not only will I rarely click the link and take a look, but that author immediately gets a black blot on my copy book. You want to be remembered as a fun and interactive Tweeter, not someone who sends unsolicited messages. Of course, if you’ve had a full conversation with someone first and they’ve shown interest in your book, then by all means send them a link with a ‘here’s the link if you want to find out more‘.


This is a little bit of advice that I’ve learned myself in the past few months. I’ve always let my past Twitter accounts grow organically, but I’ve been a bit more aggressive in building my professional account. This entails actually going through Twitter, finding readers and following them. It can be highly rewarding if you meet new people, new friends and ultimately manage to get some sales. BUT beware responding to DM’s too quickly. DM’s (Direct Messages) are a great tool once you’ve got to know people and want to have a quick bitch, ahem, chat off-screen. But, returning DM’s from new followers before you’ve sussed them out can lead to some strange and uncomfortable conversations.


A lot of people join Twitter to promote their book and think that the 1,000 followers they’ve followed are going to buy their book. This is NEVER going to happen. If you’re lucky 10 or 20 might check your book out. Five or six might buy it. Twitter isn’t an immediate promotional tool; you need to talk to people, engage, make friends. People WILL look at your profile, so put a link to your website in there. People WILL ask you about your book, especially if you tweet about it’s progress, about what you’re writing, about sales, covers, even other books you’re reading.

It’s been a pleasure getting to know readers over the past few months since I started my official author profile. I talk with many about far more than my work, I’ve made friends, and in return these folks have bought my books. If they’ve liked them, they’ve tweeted about them. I’ve RT their tweets.

If you’re using Twitter for book marketing, then please go in with open eyes. Twitter should be used about increasing your branding and exposure, not about sales…these will come later. Go, tweet, make friends, debate, and sales will come from the most unsuspecting places.

Writing books on smartphones and gadgets

When it comes to writing, I’m one of the world’s greatest procrastinators. Rather than simply sitting down at my computer, I like to first get all of my client writing work out of the way. I like to schedule my day and work out when I can write blogs, clean the dishes, feed the cats; anything but actually sit down and actually work. I will be thinking about writing, formulating scenes and chapters in my mind, but I can often put off the actual process of writing for an extraordinarily long length of time. Sometimes, it’s just that I don’t want to sit down at my computer.

Something that’s got me producing more work and words every day is writing whilst I’m on the move. Though I’m a PC boy, I have fallen into the Apple cart, quite literally, and the iPhone has literally changed my life in the past two years that I’ve had it. However, it is in more recent weeks that the ‘Notes’ app (right) has been proving a huge benefit.

You may not think that writing a novel on your iPhone is the smartest way to go about producing work, but if you can actually get words written, then anything is a bonus. Think how fast you type messages and emails on your smartphone. If you can transfer this speed to your ‘Notes’ app, then surely you’re onto a winner. A benefit with the app is that there’s an integrated email function. When I’m home I can simply cut and paste the words into my main manuscript. Yes, there’s some formatting that needs to be done, but highlighting the text and adding line spacing, indents and changing the font takes mere seconds. As for correcting comma and quotation fonts; well I can easily do that in the final edit.

In the past few weeks I’ve managed to get a lot of words written using this method. Any free moment, whether it’s a coffee break or even an advert break when I’m watching the television, I can jot things down. Yes, you can take notepads, netbooks or laptops wherever you go if you wish, but there’s one thing that’s almost certainly always going to be to hand, and that’s your phone.

Of course, this isn’t a replacement for your PC or Mac, but it sure helps churn out those important thoughts and words when you have a few spare minutes. It also seems like less work than sitting down at your computer. And, for the ultimate procrastinator like me, emailing across the document, integrating it into the manuscript and suddenly realising you’ve written 5k by utilising otherwise wasted time is wonderful. I’m not sure whether other smartphone systems have similar applications as this. But, if you have an iPhone and you sometimes struggle with sitting down to concentrate on writing, utilising the Notes app may just provide the extra incentive to keep going.

Increasing book sales by using a mailing list

I recently read a very interesting blog over at Lindsay Buroker’s excellent website. Lindsay talked about how important it was to cultivate a fan base, a following, a group of happy readers who love your work and can’t wait to devour more of your words. It was suggested that if you can cultivate around 10,000 fans, you can be pretty comfortable whether the market for ebooks crashes or Amazon changes its algorithms to make finding your titles even harder. This is a very obvious concept when it’s clearly pointed out, but I hadn’t given it much thought before. Build a thriving fan base, and you can be pretty much assured that you’ll have ‘X’ number of buyers and readers when any new work comes out.

Lindsay’s post made me realise the importance of creating a mailing list from the word go. It doesn’t mean more workload, and you certainly don’t have to be producing a newsletter every month. However, it does offer you a direct link to those who have read your work and are more than happy to know about milestone news. By milestone news I mean the launch of a new title, a public book reading that you may be doing, or perhaps an exciting competition you’re running. It’s important here not to overdo your contact with fans and bombard people with every new blog post and piece of information that you can possible think off – that’s one sure way of having people un-subscribe.

Creating a mailing list is VERY simple, and even Hotmail offers the ability to create categories of people who you can send mail to. Each time a reader wants to be added to the  mailing list I simply add them under a contact name of ‘Inside Evil Updates’ and add them to the appropriate category. Then, when the time comes, simply send a group notice to subscribers using the BCC mailing address (this avoids you sending out the contact emails of EVERYONE on your mailing list to each other) and hey presto, job done.

But, how do you get subscribers?

  • Put a note in the back of your books. At the end of your books, simply tell readers that if they send you an email at ‘X’ address with ‘Y’ in the subject line, they can be added to a mailing list for important author events.
  • Put a note on your website. If people are visiting your website, then there’s a good chance that they may have read, or be about to read, your books. Offer them an obvious chance to stay in the loop.
  • Flatly and out-rightly ask people. I’ve had a couple of emails from readers already and in my response, have ASKED them if they’d like to be put on the mailing list. NEVER just assume the best and add people, because this could put a black mark next to your name when emails start arriving in their inbox.

It’s now my belief that from the moment you finish your book, you should be looking to create that vital fan base. Nurture them, talk to them, help them grow. Writing is a pleasure, and having readers respond positively to your work is a complete wonder. And, though I’ve only just started out, my mailing list is already growing, offering the promise of readers when my next novel hits the virtual shelves.

Library Thing – Giveaway Promotion

There are many resources that you can use when it comes to advertising a book. I like to take the passive marketing approach, joining in with discussions posted on communities and groups such as Kindle Boards (KB) and Goodreads and getting clicks from signatures, rather than aggressively posting about my work. KB really is a must if you’re a self published author, and you’ll find all manner of help in the Writer’s Cafe forum. Meanwhile, I am slowly getting to grips with Goodreads, and after my post the other day, I’ve noted that Inside Evil is now on several people’s ‘to be read’ lists. I haven’t actively advertised at all. I’ve simply engaged with readers and writers in the forum and they’ve decided to add my book.

I’ve been looking for a way to offer a limited number of freebies of late because, of course, getting people to read your book must be your main aim. Having opted out of KDP Select, there’s no way I can offer freebies of my book on Amazon other than changing the actual book price to zero. However, someone on KB talked about Library Thing and the opportunity for no-cost free promotions and so I decided to get involved.

I’d taken a look at Library Thing once before, when I initially published and was looking for advertising options. However, I hadn’t realised that they offered a wonderful give-away option. It’s superbly easy to navigate and as long as you’re not offering your title for free anywhere else, you can sign up a certain number of copies to be offered to members. I’ve set a one month deadline and 50 copies, and on June 5th, Library Thing will email me a list of people who have requested my free book in turn for a review, along with their email address so that I can send out the correct files.

I only set this up a few hours ago, and I already have one request, so it seems like it could be a great way to get a book out there, especially if you’re a new writer. I can only speculate as to whether reviews will come out of this promotion, but I think Library Thing could be a good resource for building fans and spreading the word.