Category Archives: Advertising

Ten of the Best Free Press Release Sites

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a proud indie author about to publish a masterpiece must be in want of getting the word out there. Publicity is necessary, or where would you find your readers?

As you write, you can bore your potential audience rigid by talking about your book on social media or by blogging about it (as I do, but one word of warning: if you market through Twitter don’t do it when there’s a football match on or you’ll be tweeting to yourself!). Then, when your book is finished, edited, published and ready to sell, you can think about publishing your press release – or even better, getting the press release out before you publish. A press release is not only necessary, it’s mandatory! An online press release on a site gives you free publicity and you never know where it could lead.

Most authors, musicians and other artists want to find free press release sites. Why pay for it when you can get it for free? The problem is, I’ve noticed over the years that it’s becoming increasingly more difficult to find mainly free sites, especially in the UK; however, there are a few I’ve used that remain free for basic news items, but which do charge for premium ads that can be distributed in the media more widely, so these are also worth considering if you can afford it. Releases are often subject to approval before publication and some sites limit word count and the number of days they will keep a release. The down side for authors is that most of their releases can be lost in the Arts and Entertainment sections; not many have dedicated Book categories, but on the plus side many sites are now tweeting releases and sharing on Facebook, offer global media distribution and your release will almost always show up on the front page for a time.

So here are my ten of the best free press release sites:

Briefingwire – searchable with immediate publication

eNewsWire UK – starts with a note of advice about submitting a press release already submitted through other channels. Searchable via a monthly archive

Free Press Release Center – Covers a comprehensive list of topics

FreePRNow – simply laid out; account required, but completely free

NewsSides – US and Canada distribution only

OnlinePRNews – free and paid; releases are live for 90 days

Press Release Place – looks great on the face of it, but for authors and other artists there are no specific sections and there doesn’t appear to be a way to search for a release

Pressbox – simply laid out; this site doesn’t require an account to submit a release, but once submitted you can’t edit

PR Fire – a searchable free press release service covering a wide range of topics; prfire.com is the paid service

PRLog – nicely designed site with a search engine optimised web page

Read my press release for Big Brother published on Free Press Release Center.

Book Promotion Sites (or Their Authors) That Have (Probably) Died

One of the best ways to promote your books is to put them onto promotion sites. There are loads all over the web and I’ve done my best to utilise all of them. There are too many to mention and one of my favourites is Readers Gazette: free registration and free tweets on Twitter.

The thing is, a book promotion site is only as good as the human who designed it, like a computer is only as good as the computer operator. Why is it that sites appear then disappear a few years later? There could be a number of reasons: it’s too expensive to keep the site running, the author of the site has got fed up with the hassle of running it and it’s taking too much of their time (or they could’ve died: well, they are human and death comes to all of us, doesn’t it?), or maybe because there are not that many people utilising the site. One of the ways I monitor if a site is still running is by checking the date at the bottom of the home page. and if it is being promoted on Twitter or Facebook, the last time anything was tweeted or posted.

Here are a few sites I think have gone to the wall:

Armchair Interviews still displays its site and I can’t find a date on the home page or any social media presence, but they advertise an interview with Jackie Collins (no longer with us!) and review her new book (published in 2009!)

BookIdeas gone! Shame, got a good review for Goalden Girl 😦

BookPinning still has a presence, but the date at the bottom of the home page is 2013 and the last time they used social media was 2013 and 2014. I have four of my books on there and when I tried to add Goalden Sky it never appeared.

Front Street Reviews now a site for travel reviews

Nothing Binding is just a sad lonely domain name now. It was a platform for new and aspiring writers to put their books on and invite people to review them, but I never saw reviews being added and they were continually advertising for reviewers.

ReviewTheBook is one of the reasons why I don’t like paying for promotion. They made a charge for each book to be taken up by five reviewers and I had good reviews for Epiworld, but the site disappeared about two years ago.

There will be more to add to the list and that’s why when I get a review from any of them I add them to my website, because you never know which one will disappear next.

 

As a Member of the Following Author Promotion Sites, I Hereby Conclude:

Goodreads does naff all for the independent author, especially if you’re British. A few readers have been interested in Goalden Girl and reviews have been left for Epiworld, but only two (taken from other sites), nor is there an option for ‘I Wrote’ against your own book titles. Got 216 friends, though (probably 0 after this goes out, like…)

iAuthor has been a right let down. I’ve amassed a total of 5 friends, big wow (#BillyNoMates lol) and I doubt if any readers even look at the site. From what I can tell it’s a platform for authors to pitch to other authors, not readers, and offers no UK alternative to Goodreads at all.

BookHippo isn’t very good, either. I had one review out of that for Big Brother and the other person who wanted to review that wanted me to gift it to her on Kindle, which you can’t do in the UK, so that was that. On the plus side, the review I got was posted on Amazon.co.uk, but I can’t find it anywhere on BookHippo.

Nothing Binding invites reviewers to review books, but I can’t see even one title that’s even been reviewed on it.

All other sites like Independent Author Network, Indie Author Index and AskDavid are great platforms for displaying your books, but they’re not free, and I get a lot out of Readers Gazette (which is) who tweet my books regularly, and I get retweets from their tweets, but I don’t utilise the site properly. Readers Gazette is well worth a look; if you’re an indie, check them out.

As I’ve said before, though, the majority of the sites out there are, sadly, American (disclaimer: I am not saying it’s sad to be American, I’m only saying in the world of the indie/self-publisher, they kind of do it more in America than in the UK).

Now what was it I said On Facebook a few months ago? I intend to design my own site for free advertising and book reviews for indie authors. Well, here’s an update – I haven’t even started! I do have an idea in mind, but my problem is time what with all the other stuff going on in my life and also while writing Episode (onto chapter four now). It will have to be a WordPress site and I want to design it so authors can add their own titles and pitch their work to prospective reviewers, not just by adding the blurb or synopsis, but by giving an account of their own work, a bit like the self-reviews I did for my books. Everyone will have to log in, even readers, and I can advertise on Twitter and Facebook, and if readers what to review my books that’s up to them. I’d like something similar to Readers Favorite (American, but love its style). It has registered reviewers and an author lists a book for review and sends a PDF copy, which the site pitches to reviewers. I’ve had two great reviews through them, but it can be a long wait if you want it for free.

Sounds like I want the site without wanting the aggro of thinking it out properly? Yeah, I reckon so (I’m bone idle by nature!), but I have to make a start this year or I’ll never get round to it, will I? No.

Meanwhile, as stated above, I’m cracking on with Episode (will say more about that in the next blog post), but it’s July tomorrow, so it probably won’t be available until early next year.

Amazon’s KDP Select Rules Suck!

Let’s be honest: despite a lot of misgivings from authors surrounding the ethics of Amazon (lots of anti-Amazon feeling online from authors, just do a search as there are too many to list here, and that’s without Amazon not paying its UK taxes), the majority of readers these days buy their books from them, and it’s the first place an author will go to check their sales rank, especially if they’re an indie author. Without Amazon, where would the self-published, independent author be, especially if he or she has an eBook edition available for download? Hands up those authors who on the onset of the eBook thought, ‘I want to make my book available as a download. I know, I’ll put it on Nook, Kobo (boo hiss!) or iTunes.’ Liar! Unless you published directly to Smashwords (the eBook publishers of blessed reverence for many), if you have a paperback version first, you go to Kindle because it’s heavily publicised and Amazon knows its onions when it comes to marketing its products (we have an Amazon fire stick for the telly you know), because it revolutionised the way an indie author could make their work available to readers without it costing beggar all, and because it got there first. (Actually, I saw an eReader for sale in a WH Smith shop (boo hiss!) long before I knew about Kindle, so that last statement probably isn’t true…)

As a paperback and Kindle author and reader myself, and knowing how Amazon has revolutionised publishing for indies, naturally I check the sales ranks for Amazon first, though my paperbacks are available worldwide in reputable stores like Waterstones, Book Depository and Barnes & Noble; I’m also aware that not everyone has or even uses a Kindle. I know a lot of people prefer Nook (until recently not available for UK and European readers) but for now I’ve had to bin it off (as mentioned elsewhere!) or a Kobo (boo hiss; scroll down to my comment!), or even iTunes and Google Play, and naturally I wanted to widen my scope and reach more readers, so I made plans to upload all my books to those platforms. As I’ve probably mentioned elsewhere, the indie publisher I use automatically uploaded my first two works Goalden Girl and Abbie’s Rival to Nook at Barnes and Noble and iTunes (for overrated prices), which is why I wanted to re-upload them and upload the others so they’re more affordable, and to make them available in the UK and in Europe, but in the case of Nook it all went boobs up, didn’t it? Yes, it did…moving on…

Anyway, Amazon has this KDP Select programme, too enticing to ignore. During certain times of the year when there’s a Silly Book Day going down – like World Book Night for instance – who amongst us will want to ignore the chance to make their titles available for FREE for promo purposes? This year, I jumped on the bandwagon: struggling with paperback sales and with Kindle sales being soooooooo slooooooooow, I thought to hell with it: I’m going to put all my titles onto KDP Select make everything free on Kindle to everyone and his terrier for a limited period, not just for those on Kindle Unlimited and Prime. What happened? Throughout the Kindle-buying world they downloaded: from the UK to the US to Canada to Japan to the Netherlands they went for it! Something for nothing and the books for free! Over 400 downloads I counted, but not one brass farthing in royalty did I earn ‘cos of the free thing (I was never in it for the money, anyway, but you know what I mean…) I even got a review for Goalden Sky out of that promotion on Amazon Canada, albeit one word (and don’t get me started on even trying to get reviews!) but I was given four stars!

Imagine my chagrin when I got a snot-o-gram email from Amazon informing me that because Goalden Girl and Abbie’s Rival are available on iTunes (interesting they ignore Barnes & Noble and Nook!) they have to remove both from KDP Select, but they will still be for sale for anyone who wants to pay 99 p/99 cents for them. I’ve had a few of these emails since, because I’ve sneakily added those two titles to KDP Select again for promos at other times, not least for the Alder Hey Children’s Hospital Comic Con (where I had my appendix out when I was 3 and to which I donated my paperbacks as well). After all, Goalden Girl is the prequel to Goalden Sky, so to offer the latter for free would be daft without offering the former…

It annoys me that Amazon should demand exclusivity for Kindle titles on KDP Select when it comes to promoting eBooks. Why should it? What gives it the right? Why can’t I have my eBook available in more than one place so that I can broaden my readership, then promote my titles for free via all hosts without being told off? In my opinion the answer is that Amazon works more for Amazon’s benefit than it does for the author or the reader; it knows people will go to them before they go to any other online shop for books, because it sells all sorts of other stuff people want but can’t be bothered to go shopping for, unlike its competitors. Indie titles are hard to get in bricks and mortar shops and Amazon knows it.

I hold my hands up here; Amazon is handy and I buy most of my stuff online from Amazon.co.uk. OK, ‘fession over.

It has us well and truly by the short and curlies, and why’s that? It’s because we, the indie author, lets it. Right now there’s little we can do about it. Will it stop me adding my titles to other platforms? No; such a shame Nook is a pile of rubbish and those running Kobo are a bunch of losers…

ROLL UP! FREE Kindle Downloads of My Books for World Book Night 23 April 2015!

For the occasion, I am offering three of my books for FREE download on Kindle until 27th April, regardless of whether readers are Prime customers or are registered with Kindle Unlimited:

Epiworld

Abbie’s Rival

Goalden Girl

Thereafter ALL of my Kindle titles will be  99 p or 99 c (Euro, US, Can, Aus and whatever the equivalent is elsewhere) even the young adult titles: Goalden Sky, Big Brother and Epiworld. Annoyingly, that’s the lowest price I am able to set, otherwise I would set it to 50 p, so get your FREEBIE while it lasts!

As i write 22 copies have been downloaded today, Abbie’s Rival in the lead with 10 downloads, followed closely by Goalden Girl.

If you download one of my books or buy one in paperback, PLEASE DO leave a review! I would really appreciate it!

 

 

 

Something For Nothing and The Books For Free

Ah. Isn’t it a great feeling to see your eBook at number 1 in the hit parade? This is the current free sales rank for Goalden Sky on Amazon.com

(It’s football, not soccer).

As I write, it’s also doing well on Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.ca, Amazon.de and Amazon.jp.

And how did it achieve these dizzy heights? It’s because I discovered something very recently by accident: you can give your Kindle books away FREE to all readers, as a promotion for a limited time. Goalden Sky is in the KDP Select programme, which allows free copy sales for Prime customers, and now also gives the option of free copy promotion to everyone and anyone with a Kindle, worldwide. We’ve just had Easter, so I thought, why not, let’s have a free Easter giveaway of Goalden Sky and see how many people want to download it. I advertised it on Twitter and Facebook and it’s taken off really well! The promotion ends today and I’ve sold over 30 copies since 5th April! Great! I’ve done the same for Big Brother until 12th April because a kind reader wants to review the Kindle edition, but in the UK we still can’t gift Kindle copies as far as I know, so the reviewer can download it free within that time (which I hope she has).

I wish I could do the same for my paperbacks, but I can’t, and it’s got me thinking: with some of my paperbacks going for silly money on Amazon and other sites, why aren’t they selling just as well? Epiworld is currently selling for buttons on Amazon.com for $2.23 (whatever that is in pounds, shillings and pence), is £1.46 on Amazon.co.uk and Abbie’s Rival is dirt cheap as well; so I’ve told everyone. Yet what’s the difference? It’s probably because of this: postage. Also they have to wait for the paperback to drop on the mat. It’s always instant with an eBook.

Do readers really prefer the eBook, or do they just want diddly for squat? I think the latter. My Kindle editions are cheap anyway, between £0.99 and £1.99, and that’s buttons, but they didn’t do this well when readers had to pay for them! The downloads have gone crazy since the two books went free, even for Big Brother: the current sales rank on Amazon.com is like this:

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,949 Free in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Free in Kindle Store)
#15  in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Children’s eBooks > Science Fiction, Fantasy & Scary Stories > Scary Stories

Actually, that worries me. Why is it in children’s eBooks scary stories section?! It says quite clearly at the top of the book description it’s suitable only for 12-16 years of age, so now I’m bracing myself from a torrent of abuse from annoyed readers! 😱

Amazon.co.uk puts it into the horror section, which is kind of correct.

It kind of knocks out the popular theory that if an indie author prices their books too low they’re telling readers their books aren’t worth jack, doesn’t it?

It’s a pity Amazon and other stores don’t do a similar promotion for paperbacks. From what I can tell I can’t give away my paperbacks for a limited time through a store, only my Kindle books, unless I put it down as free as a third party seller, and even then Amazon will probably put a gun to my temple and make me charge postage! I’ll have to try a little experiment with that.

It’s a bit cynical to state that people want something for nothing, but I think it may be true of the free Kindle promotion. There’s nothing wrong with it and it’s more exposure for my books. I’m going to give away Epiworld, Abbie’s Rival and Goalden Girl on Kindle, too!

Only one fly in the ointment: I don’t get a bean in revenue! 😒

Meanwhile, say hello to my new cat, Treacle.

treacle

So I Finally Joined Goodreads, But Where Is The UK Equivalent?

You know how it is: you’re a self-published, indie author and your only real source of book promotion is the internet. If you have the balls to do it, you can go cap-in-hand to bookshops and ask them if you can do a book signing, and you might get an interview with a newspaper looking for a local interest story, but let’s face it, it’s damn hard being taken seriously as a self-published author. People always think: self-published = low quality; so you turn to the review and promotion sites online.

As many indie authors have to watch their budget, including me, you would rather have this sort of promotion for free, but you accept you may have to pay for it once in a while. That’s OK: £13 here, £10 there. I paid a one-time fee for Independent Author Network and Independent Author Index (though for the latter I still had to pay $6 to list Goalden Sky). The annoying thing for the UK indie, though, is the fact that two thirds of these sites want your money in US Dollars. Yep, most of these marketing sites are American, with their weird spellings and readers who don’t have a clue what UK authors are on about half  the time, even though we had English first, mate. What UK promotion and review sites there are tend to charge a small fortune; take a look at this one, for instance. Fine, go for it if you can afford it, but I wouldn’t.

In 2007 I self-published my first book Goalden Girl and back then I was really green when it came to promotion. I didn’t know where the hell to begin, and I still find it a nightmare. In 2009 I registered with Goodreads, but I quickly realised it was mainly aimed at readers, not authors. Readers post reviews on everything they’ve read, and from what I can tell indies get only a cursory look-in. Also, I was put off by a review for Goalden Girl that one of its members poached from a site I had submitted it to. She may well have read it, but she copied and pasted that review from a site called Front Street Reviews. That site has gone to the wall now, like so many other sites I’ve promoted with. Check out my review pages on my site and I have indicated which ones have passed away. That’s the other thing that p’s me off: the people who set up these sites either die, get bored or can’t afford to run them any longer. That’s why, if you get a review, you should save it elsewhere, even though when you advertise it you look a prize idiot because there’s no link to the site to show for it. Scroll halfway down this page to see the original review for Goalden Girl on FSR dear Violet poached for GR. I don’t believe she’s changed a word.

Last week, however, I rejoined Goodreads again, after reading an article about how it could work for independent authors, and knowing from tweets on Twitter that everyone and his dog is on it and rates it. Why not join the bandwagon, I thought. Well, it’s free for a start. Notice in the article, though, how Michelle starts by slagging off Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest; being the cynic I am, I know all she’s doing is pumping her own site, and why not, but people still use Twitter to promote it and GR is on Facebook. Anyway, as suggested, I listed my books on the various relevant GR Listopia listings because, as the article claims, if your book comes up next to a bestseller it might attract a reader’s eye. LOL. I’ve even put Goodreads buttons by my titles on the home page of my site. Soon after joining I made all these ‘friends’ and got an email from one asking to read and comment on his article. Like me, Ellis doesn’t see the point in Goodreads for authors, but is prepared to persist with it in the hope that someone might notice his work. That’s the point: it’s all to do with ‘hope’, it’s all the indie has. My book Big Brother has been on two ‘want to read’ lists since March 2013! I’m still waiting for one of them to say she’s read it!

In order to become a Goodreads author I had to ‘claim’ that status. Before that I put my own books on a shelf I had to create myself: ‘I Wrote’, and before I did that I had to say I’d ‘read’ them; my personal logic is if you write it you have to read it as well, but it’s a clue that Goodreads is aimed more at readers, there’s no preset ‘I Wrote’ shelf. Actually, as an author my books are now attributed to me, anyway. I also thought it would be a good idea to show what I read. To date I now have forty-seven books and over one hundred friends. When I get to fifty books I can apply for librarian status, whatever TF that means. I have this ‘hope’ that if people are directed to what I’ve read, currently reading, or want to read they might also be directed to what I’ve written, but I doubt it.

For the reader, though, it’s a very popular site, so much so that Amazon have bought into it; but what’s its problem? Yes, you guessed it: free or not, it’s still American, though it does appear to know where you live (probably from your email adress) and so it invites you to add more store selections. Furry nuff; but where on Earth are the UK sites offering a similar sort of service?

Well, a few months ago, I stumbled upon iAuthor, which operates something similar to the Goodreads Listopia, known as Themes. The title of the site suggests it’s geared towards the author. Authors are invited to create a theme and other authors add their titles to that theme, the idea being, I think, for other indies to take a look at your book and think, ‘Yeah. I’ll read that one. If I’m feeling generous I might even review it.’ I’ve created a few themes myself, like this one. Guess which theme appears to be one of the most popular of them all, though? Tells you a hell of a lot, really, doesn’t it! It also tells you that there are plenty of indie authors out there bouncing about like molecules in the air vying for space to get noticed, me included.

Again, with iAuthor, only time will tell if it will help me.

Yesterday, I discovered another UK free site created by a someone frustrated by these promo sites being mostly American: Indie Book Bargains. I joined, but it’s geared towards just eBooks (as a lot of these sites are), and if you have few reviews elsewhere your book is given ‘low priority’ for consideration to the review service. Whatever.

Due to the lack of choice in the free UK book promotion world, I’m thinking of setting up my own service. Don’t know how I’m going to go about it yet, but it will be free, and it won’t be geared towards just readers, either.

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