Using multi-channels to sell your ebooks

Anyone who’s read this blog for any length of time will know that I’m a keen advocate of the multi-channel approach when it comes to selling books as an indie author. Had I come into the publishing industry a few months earlier, say around December 2011, then Amazon’s Select program may have well stirred enough interest to get me to sign up. As it is, I published Inside Evil in March 2012, and after reading several reports that the advantages of Select were already waning, decided against becoming exclusive. It seemed pretty obvious to me; I didn’t want to put all of my eggs in one basket.

Select continues to draw a large number of people in, and I’m sure that they’re doing very well out of it. However, distributing with Smashwords and Kobo Writing Life has never been easier. I hear a lot of people saying that they have issues with Smashwords, but in all honesty, I can hand on heart say that I’ve had no problems. I’ve gone through their Meatgrinder without ending up with a completely ruined eBook file, I’ve got into their Premium catalogue with no worries, and I’ve been distributed fairly fast. B&N does take a while to get going, but I don’t necessarily think that this is Smashwords’ fault because CRYO landed in the iBookstore just days after being distributed.

Why use the multichannel approach?


Readers want flexibility, and whilst the Kindle is still a huge eReader, an increasing number of people have other devices. I read everything on my iPhone and I have fans of my work who read on the Nook and Sony devices. Had I started on Select, none of these readers would have got to sample my work whilst the exclusivity contract was in place. And, though I’ve thought about putting subsequent work into Select, it ultimately means that any readerbase I’ve already gathered would be penalised for not choosing Amazon as their number one ebook provider.

Maximum Exposure

There’s no denying it; Amazon is a huge marketplace and has millions of readers awaiting your novel. But this can have its downsides too. It will take more sales to get into Amazon’s Top 100 lists than it might on Apple or Kobo, and you’ll fall out of those lists more quickly too. Being on Amazon alone also stymies the places you can promote, and you’ll be stuck to advertising methods that only point directly back to Amazon. In addition, the Select contract means that you can provide excerpts of no more than 10% (i.e. the sample that Amazon offers) and links must direct back to them. However, by choosing to use a multi-channel approach, the world and all the eReaders really are your oyster.

– Limiting Risk

Placing all your work in one place is risky. What happens if Amazon suddenly decides to stop promoting indie authors? They make a deal with the Big Six and, almost overnight, all those top ranking indie books disappear way down the lists because of changed algorithms? This is not a good thing, and it’s made worse if your work is only available on Amazon. Of course, creating a newsletter is the best option if you want to reach readers regardless of where they are and whatever happens to the market. However, by having your work in as many places as possible,  you can limit the risk of a big hit due to one market changing or closing.

I love Amazon, and they do make it very easy for us indie authors to sell our books. But I also love the multi-channel approach, and I’d be severely stunted if my readers suddenly couldn’t download on iBooks or the Nook.  CRYO: Rise of the Immortals has now made it to Apple, just days after it was uploaded to Smashwords, and you can find it for both US and UK versions. Having it in multiple places has helped its launch and got the book off to a good start. As for your advertising, which do you prefer? Amazon Select or multi-channelling?

How to create promotional postcards for books

Christmas is coming up and I’m, well, rather under-prepared. It seems like an age ago since I read that interview with Amanda Hocking about self publishing books on Amazon, even though it was only back in February. Since then, life has changed considerably. But this is my first Christmas, and I’ve no idea what sort of promotion I should be doing.

Other than writing the article about creating Christmas book hampers, the only other idea I had was to create some actual physical promotional tools. I went to a family christening back in July, and lots of people asked about the books. I told them, chatted about Inside Evil, said ‘oh, you can find them on Amazon,’ but I had nothing to give. This Christmas I decided to go one step further and create some postcards that I could hand out.

photo (17)If you haven’t got much time for promotion, or have little money for buying adverts, then these postcards are perfect. I’ve created them with a view to giving them to friends, family and acquaintances rather than leaving them in stacks at book fairs, but they could be used in that circumstance too. I created and ordered them from Vista Print very easily and, more importantly, they were very affordable – just £30 for 50 postcards. That price also included an online proof that I won’t have to pay next time I order. Plus, I went for two weeks shipping to get them in time for Christmas, and hey presto, they were here within 10 days.

Why did I go for postcards?

There are a vast variety of options to choose from in customisable merchandise, and I nearly got sucked into creating mouse-mats, pens and even keyrings with the Inside Evil cover on. BEWARE, they do try and lure you into spending – you can’t really blame them.

My main reasoning behind postcards rather than bookmarks is that the Inside Evil is largely in an ebook form. Yes, you can buy paperbacks, but I’m promoting the ebooks more than anything. Someone who uses a bookmark on a regular occurrence may well be more likely to read traditional books than fire up their kindle. And, if they do fire up their Kindle, my bookmark isn’t going to be anywhere in sight to remind them to buy.

Secondly, I like that you can fit more onto a postcard. Rather than reaching out to strangers, I’m reaching out to people I already know are interested in my books. Therefore, I want to provide them with a few more details and incentives to buy.

I’m very happy with the overall look of the cards, and the price. I’ll be giving them out this Christmas, so I’ll let you know whether they help remind people of my work and bump up sales as a result.

How to sell eBooks in Second Life

I’m always looking for new ways to sell books. I haven’t yet managed to get that snowball effect with my novels, and am far from getting that crucial 1,000 sales on Amazon, so at the moment it’s hand selling all the way. Not that I mind, it’s nice to actually talk directly to most of the people who buy my stuff, but it takes up a lot of time – time that I’d rather be using to write.

I’ve been in Second Life for a number of years now, doing little bits and pieces here and there. I’ve always believed that it would be a great place to sell books, especially ebooks as, like Second Life, they’re virtual. There are some large readers and writers communities online, and if you could just access these groups, you’d have a great audience to reach out to.

But, just what is Second Life?

Second Life is, simply put, a virtual world where you can build anything. Think of a computer game where you take the role of the main character and adventure through levels to complete quests, and in the case of MMO’s (million multi-player onlines) make friends, build guilds and journey through the game together. Now think of a platform where the developers haven’t created the world in which you land, but have left it up to you to create. We won’t go into the extreme complexities of building, but suffice to say users have created some stunning and creative places to visits, from New York and London replica’s, to fantasy lands with waterfalls, mountains and secret forests to explore.

How can Second Life help sell books?

Like all online worlds, Second Life has an economy. Lindens (L$) can be bought for real life dollars so that you have money to buy commodities in-world. Lindens can also be pulled out of the game and into real life accounts, and this has enabled many people to make their entire living through selling items and services in Second Life. So, in theory, you could sell books for Lindens in Second Life and then draw the money out into your account.

BUT, with linking to Real Life items, the process is made even more simple. 

My Second Life bookstore

About four weeks ago I created Best Books (Inside Evil readers will realise the significance), a Second Life book store that would contain Real Life books. The premise is simple; Second Life residents browse Best Books and can find a range of novels, read the samples, learn about the author and then follow a purchase link to buy on Amazon. I met with many people that said it might not work, I learned that Amazon had once been in Second Life in an attempt to do a similar thing and that it wasn’t cost effective. However, over the past few weeks, I’ve sold four books. That’s more than I’ve sold at Kobo, or Smashwords, or Barnes & Noble, or Diesel. In addition, because I’m using my affiliate Amazon account, I made some affiliate money off the sales too! It may only be four, but those are new readers, a new audience, and any one of them could be the individual that blogs, writes, tells 1,000 friends about my book.  Anyone of them could start that all important snowball.

How can I help you sell books in Second Life?

The best thing about my new venture is that YOU, authors, can take advantage, even if you have no interest in getting into Second Life yourself. Best Books currently costs a minimal amount to run, and I hope to be able to fund the SL venture on the money earned from affiliate sales. This means that the cost to advertise your book in-world is a big, fat, ZERO. Yep, I’m charging nothing. It’s FREE.

I already have several authors interested in participating, with my view to building Second Life’s best and biggest eBook store. As I gather more books and attract more readers, I want to hold book readings too. There’s also the opportunity for book signings, with people being able to visit Best Books, talk with the author and request a Authorgraph right then and there.


If you’re an author and are interested in getting involved in the venture, please don’t hesitate to contact me through my email address: If you want to visit me in-world, then please feel free to hop on this link and head to Best Books. Otherwise, just email me and we’ll talk about how it works and what I need. Generally, all I’ll require is cover images, blurbs, your samples (the same as Amazon’s preview), book genre, author picture and biography…the same media pack that you’d normally supply book reviewers with.

In Summary…..

If your books sales are streaming in, then it’s unlikely that you’ll need to advertise in Second Life. However, no matter what your sales figures may be, I always think it’s important to reach out to new readers and possible audiences.

Can you sell your Real Life books in Second Life? Yes, I’ve proved it, I’m selling copies of Inside Evil and The Tower of Souls already and I’m quite surprised by it.

So, if you want another avenue to get noticed, to showcase your work, and to help drive up your sales, then get in touch and lets build this virtual bookstore!

How to market your ebook in your email signature

I’ve been marketing Inside Evil in my email signature ever since it was available for sale. There’s nothing like a subtle sales pitch for getting the attention of people, and if you include a link to your books in an email, you may find that people will naturally click the link and take a look. After spending a few minutes placing the link, you’ve got a marketing plan that keeps on working (as long as you send emails, of course), and whether you’re emailing friends, family or new associates, you have the chance to make a sale or at the very least, stir some interest.

I always just used a text link in my email – it’s easy and simple to do. I use hotmail most of the time, so adding a little piece of text and including a hyperlink to my Amazon page seemed obvious enough. However, for no specific reason at all, I decided today that it wasn’t enough. OK, so people might look at the link, but it didn’t exactly leap out of the page.

After dabbling around in hotmail I realised that, much like on a website, I could use HTML to actually put in a sales image containing a specific sales link. All you need is to create your banner, have somewhere available to upload your image to the web so that it has an URL, use some rudimentary HTML, and off you go.

Firstly, I created a quick sales image that would be sure to catch people’s eye when they get an email from me:

You don’t want it to take up too much space, so this image is just 150px x 700px.

Secondly, I uploaded the image to this website’s media centre so that I could get an URL for the picture. This is important because hotmail doesn’t allow you to upload an image into your signature directly. However, it does offer HMTL, which means that you can link to an image anywhere on the web.

Thirdly, I used a simple piece of HMTL code to paste the image and link into my signature:

<a href=”” target=”_blank”><img src=”” border=”0″ width=”700” height=”150“></a>

You can see that the red text indicates where the image links to. I thought about linking directly to my Amazon author page but thought I’d try a direct Inside Evil link first. It’s easy enough to change around, so I can alter it at my preference.

The blue text indicates where in my wordpress directory the image is held. This doesn’t have to be your blog, it could be photo service such as Photobucket, but your image must have an URL.

Finally, the green numbers show the size of the image so that you can set your picture to your own dimensions.

I have no idea where this will work, but it’s sure to be more eye catching than a simple written signature link with a hyperlink installed. Now, when people open my email, they’ll (hopefully) be drawn towards the covers and want to find out more.

How to get 1,000 Ebook sales

How to get 1,000 Ebook sales? That’s a question I often ask myself. Look around the various blogs about self publication, and it seems to suggest that once you’ve hit around 1,000 sales on Amazon, the website’s algorithms will take over and help to make your work more visible. Note that this isn’t total sales, but sales for each title. While, of course, selling more of one title is likely to help sell other works too, pushing up your overall sales figures, it is 1,000 per book that you’re aiming for.

This can be an astronomical figure to reach, especially if you’re only selling tens of books per month. Inside Evil was published in March and I’ve not yet cleared the 100 sales barrier. Interestingly, in my latest giveaway on Elle Casey’s blog, Inside Evil was one of the most sought after titles, so the book itself seems to be in demand and attracting attention. It just doesn’t get noticed by people browsing on Amazon. And, without a lot of luck, I’m warning you, growing to 1,000 sales will be hard work.

But, how can you achieve this feat? How can you reach that target? I’m not entirely sure myself, having not gained those dizzying sales heights yet. There are variety of methods that I’ve come across, and some may work for you, others may not. Here’s some of my findings.


Some people advocate joining lots of forums, putting your book in your signature and then talking, continuously, about yourself and your work. This doesn’t work and WILL NOT SELL ebooks. You’ll quickly get a spam notification and be ejected from the boards.

However, there are some forums that you might be persuaded to join, such as Kindleboards, the official Kindle forums at Amazon and the Kindle Users Forum. Whilst you’ll get all manner of help and tips at these places, I wouldn’t look for a lot of sales here. Generally, these boards are occupied by people like you; authors wanting to find how to sell ebooks and unlikely buyers.

LibraryThing & Goodreads

My use of LibraryThing and Goodreads has been haphazard at best, largely due to the fact that I hate both website’s interfaces and I find joining in conversations extremely confusing. LibraryThing is great for doing giveaway’s, but though I’ve noted a few reviews trickling through, these haven’t turned into sales. Meanwhile, though I’ve had a very few ‘adds’ on Goodreads which may have possibly led to a miniscule number of sales, my Goodreads ad campaign was a complete failure and I didn’t make one sale from the investment.

Word of Mouth

This is a very obvious way of selling, but if you don’t tell anyone about your book, then how can you expect sales. Word of mouth is vital for sales. Tell friends and family about your book. When you go to parties and meet new people who ask what you do for a career, tell them about your writing and mention your novel’s name..who knows they might just go home and download it. Put a link to Amazon in the signature of your email so when you’re emailing people, you have an unobtrusive marketing ploy ready to go. This has been my best sales tactic to date, helping to push Inside Evil higher in the Amazon charts and therefore being more noticeable.


Some people swear by it, others don’t, but I have found that Twitter has got me sales. I have recently opened a new Twitter account devoted to only my writing. Whilst I have a personal account with over 1,000 followers, I tend to have verbal diarrhoea on that feed, and whilst those 1,000 followers don’t care about me talking non-stop about the Olympics or saying slightly rude things when I’ve had a glass of wine too many, I really don’t want my main group of readers and authors bombarded with this. Of course, many may want to, so it’s worth tweeting that you have another account, but to keep all my professional and book related stuff in one place, I now use GWakelingWriter.

One of the good things about Twitter is that you can easily interact with readers. If someone tells you they’ve bought your book, thank them, ask them for feedback. RT their comments if they’re positive reviews. Use Sample Sunday (a writer’s RT group which helps spread book samples on, you’ve guessed it, Sunday’s) to reach a larger audience. Use Writer Wednesday to follow and RT other writers. Most of all, ensure that the majority of your tweets are personal, RTs or links to informative articles rather than constantly links to your own work. This will turn people off immediately, and your Twitter account will never get off the ground.

1,000 ebooks is a hard task…

Selling ebooks is no easy task, and shifting these first 1,000 ebooks is monumentally difficult. I read blogs all the time offering advice on how to get sales, with each and every post saying, ‘once you’ve reached 1,000 sales you can use X, X and X to get increased earnings,’ but what about the climb to 1,000? What about the depressing screen of Amazon’s Beige Bar of Shame when it’s staring at you mid month because you’re yet to have  a sale? What about selling five or 10 copies a month and realising that it’ll take you years to reach that elusive 1,000?

I’ve used the above processes to get a few sales here and there, but nothing that has finally swept me along at pace. I’ll soon be releasing a new book, The Tower of Souls, and I’m hoping that it’ll attract more people to the series. However, for the meantime, it’s the slow plod along. What do you use to try and increase sales? Found any tactics that worked? I’d love to discover new areas that I haven’t tried…and we can all look forward to pushing our sales and cracking that 1,000.

The importance of book reviews and word of mouth for ebook sales

It may sound obvious, but word of mouth is one of the major factors that will help you sell books. I know this, you know this, but knowing and doing are two completely different things. When I first started self publishing, I debuted Inside Evil on a bit of a down low. It was my first novel, I didn’t know how it was going to be received and I didn’t want to put family and friends in that awkward position where they have to gush about loving your book whilst they’re secretly cursing the hours they lost having to read their loved ones trash. Luckily, it seems that I didn’t write 70,000 words of trash, but putting a book out there that you’ve slaved over is scary stuff.

Once you hit that self publish button, and for those who are organised enough to get a head start, the marketing and advertising starts. Forum posting, blog commenting, Goodreads ads and LibraryThing giveaways are all part of the process of trying to get sales; along with having fingers and toes crossed that a little bit of luck comes your way. However, from personal experience, the one thing you need to do to sell some books is to swallow your pride and turn to book reviewers, friends and family to spread the word.

Book Reviews

Some people don’t have a lot of luck with book reviews, but I’ve found that it’s been one of the best way to get sales. Most reviewers have a huge backlog of books to read, but getting on as many blogs as possible will passively spread the word of your novel, build some reviews and gain some sales. Most reviewers will post their ratings on their blog, Goodreads, Amazon and even Barnes and Noble, offering you the chance to reach blog readers and grow your range of marketplace reviews. On Goodreads this can help you to reach more people’s shelves, adding to the natural word of mouth spread of your book.

One of my first book blog reviews came in yesterday with a stunning 4.5 stars. A huge thank you to Krista at Breathe in Books for this review, and I’ve already noted an increase in sales which I expect has come off this sole review.  Don’t be persuaded to only go for some of the big book reviewers – get on as many blogs as possible to reach a wider audience.

Two great lists of book reviews can be found at:

Kristy’s Stories book reviewers post
Indie Book Reviewer

Word of Mouth

There’s nothing that says ‘buy this book’ better than a personal recommendation. In the best scenario you want readers to be saying ‘Wow, I read this great book. You should give it a go.’ However, you need a little help now and then, and it’s here that friends and family can help. There’s nothing wrong with asking for a little plug here and there. My sister put out a Facebook status saying that she’d read my book and loved it. She added the Amazon book link and I had several sales from people who were interested. Likewise, an author friend of mine Tweeted about my book, and I had several more sales as a direct result from that.

It’s understandable that you don’t want to rely on friends and family to spread the word, but you have to reach new fans in the first place so that word on your book spreads. Get two friends of a family member to buy your book and recommend it to others, and you soon have new and completely unrelated fans. This in turn will push up your Amazon sales rankings so that you can enter top 100 lists and become more noticeable.

Reaching new fans and getting sales is a difficult task. People will be far more willing to try a new author if they receive a personal recommendation. If, like me, you’re not very good at blowing your own trumpet, asking for help from family and friends can be a huge help to get your ebook sales snowballing.

LibraryThing Giveaway Promotion

As some people will know, early in June I offered a LibraryThing giveaway, providing 50 copies of Inside Evil to people on LibraryThing in return for reviews. I had many hopes, not to increase sales, but to get reviews. Here are the results.

It can safely be said, that the LibraryThing giveaway was a bit of failure. At the very least, it failed to live up to expectations. Of the 50 books that I offered, 39 people downloaded the novel from Smashwords which I would think is a pretty good result. However, over the course of the past month, I’ve only had ONE review and around FOUR Goodreads adds. It’s a little disappointing, as I hoped that a ratio of at least 10% would give me a review, but alas, so far, the one sole review is all I’ve had. Still, this was a 4star one so it’s not a complete loss and I was ecstatic to see that the reader posted on LibraryThing, Amazon and Smashwords.

Of course, when you’re running a LibraryThing giveaway, it’s important to remember that the types of people bidding in these contests are the type of readers who may well have a substantial backlist of books to read. After one month, I’ve had one review. However, that doesn’t mean that there won’t be more to come in the future as individuals finally get around to giving Inside Evil a go.

Would I use LibraryThing’s giveaway again?

At the end of the day, it’s a great giveaway tool and so, yes, I would use it again. I plan to offer 50 copies of Tower of Souls to readers about a month before the release. This should give people the chance to read the book and make a few reviews so that when it goes live on Amazon and Smashwords, there is already some feedback available. Obviously, it’s a sequel, so people winning the book may even buy Inside Evil first so that they’re caught up on the story.

If you’re thinking of using a LibraryThing giveaway, then don’t expect great instant results. Be happy for the reviews that you do get in, and utilise it as a way to get your work read and find a few new fans and followers.

Increase your July book sales with Smashwords promotion

Promotions can often be key in marketing. Getting people to buy your book is no easy thing, as I’ve discovered myself, and a few freebies and discounts here and there can offer great incentives for readers to download your book, read it, love it and hopefully spread the word.

If you currently sell with Smashwords and received their email this morning, don’t bin it to your delete box before reading because they’ve announced their Summer/Winter sale. This site-wide promotion starts on July 1st and lasts a month, allowing you to discount your books. You can make them free, 75per cent off, half price, or 25per cent off. If you want to enrol, then do so before July 1st for maximum exposure.

As you can see from the form above, it only takes mere seconds to enrol and you might find a jump in sales. I’ve never used the promotion before, but anything to offer readers a little extra incentive to buy your book is a good opportunity to utilise. Inside Evil will be 50% off for the month, and you’ll be able to buy it at the reduced price using the SSW50 code.