Category Archives: Promotion

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.

I’ve been freed from Kindle book promotion jail!

A year ago, Amazon put me and my books into Kindle promotion jail because they found two of my titles available for download on iTunes while they were available on KDP select. I hadn’t put them there myself and eventually found a way of taking them down, but despite this, I was branded a persistent offender and given a year’s hard labour: I couldn’t promote my Kindle titles and make them free for any period of time or make them available on Kindle unlimited!

Well, I’m pleased to announce that as of 13th November I’ve been released from jail and can now promote my Kindle titles, so up until Christmas I’m doing free weekly promos for all my books. They’re all available to borrow on Kindle Unlimited. Goalden Girl was free to download from 14th November until 18th November; Goalden Sky is free to download now until 25th November; Abbie’s Rival 28th November until 2nd December; Epiworld from 5th until 9th December and Big Brother from 12th until 16th December.

Free promotion is a great way to introduce potential new readers to your books and can encourage sales later on. Once the promotion is over I sell them for only 99 p in the UK, 99 cents in the US and Europe and prices elsewhere are based on the US price.

When Episode is published in 2017, it will be available for a limited time for free on Kindle.

 

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.

 

RIP Feedjit?

I don’t know if I’m jumping the gun here, but it looks like Feedjit – the real time tracking widget that monitors visitors to your website – has pegged it. It’s been down for over a week now. The tracking on my site hasn’t worked for days and it’s not just me experiencing the problem. I completed a contact form to let them know – but I found info elsewhere to say they never reply and I haven’t heard a dicky bird. On Twitter they haven’t tweeted since 2014 and on Facebook they haven’t posted since 2013, so what’s going on?

Rather annoyingly, if you click on their page, their widget is working!

I’ve lost patience, so I’ve been on the lookout for an alternative. The problem is WordPress, the platform I use for my website and blog, can’t support widgets that use Javascript and the widget has to be embedded as text.

Tried the following that looked OK on the face of it:

Who’s Among Us? doesn’t work, all I get is the script showing as text

RadarURL has a non-javascript embedded link for WordPress and other blogs and again it doesn’t work; again only the script displays on the page.

There are others to choose from that people might like and that might work for them: AliveStats, Footprint Live, Clicky…most are free, but some are subscription, most use Javascript, some you have to download, some are just too fussy to look at and if all you want is to display something simple on your menu bar they’re no good. I want something similar to Feedjit and simple to use and does the same job as – well, Feedjit!

I might have found it: Flag Counter.

It’s free (but there is a pro version for $29.99 per year – about £21 in real money) and it’s basically a counter, but it shows the number of visitors from different countries who have visited your site. Every time someone clicks, up pops the number against the country’s flag. You can click on the flag for a more detailed overview and you also get the geographical location of the country and its history! It’s easy to set up and it’s worth registering your counter so you can log in to your management section. There you can ignore your own browser when you visit your own site (that used to work with Feedjit…) and set things up the way you want them. At the moment, I’m using the free version, but the pro has additional features like regional visitor statistics as well as national (though this is standard for visitors from US and Canada).

The other problem with Feedjit was it kept telling me someone from the UK had landed on an ‘unknown landing page’, something to do with its non-javascript version. The thing with File Counter is to get the best out of it you need to create a code for every page of your site, which will take some time, so for now I’ve got one code for my site and one code for my blog just to monitor the counts. It doesn’t matter which page people are looking at, as long as they look!

The Unlikeable Facebook Fan Page Like

As you can tell from my previous posts, like this one back in March, I absolutely love Facebook (not!) and I have a Facebook author page. Blah! Yes, folks, with reference to what I said in that post, I’m still losing Likes, but I bet it’s not just because of lack of engagement or because of buying Likes (which I haven’t done!) as Facebook claims; it could also be possibly because people who have ‘Liked’ have had enough of Facebook, anyway, and decided to close their account for whatever reason. I wouldn’t blame them, either.

There could also be another reason, the elephant in the room: that those who have Liked my page have read my books and not enjoyed them, so they’ve unLiked. OK, fine, I can live with that, except I don’t see the negative reviews, and I’d love the chance to return the favour and unLike back, only Facebook doesn’t give you that facility (Twitter does; well, there are apps that do), which is really annoying. No amount of pleading to the Facebook Help board will make Them Upstairs change their minds and it’s not just me who wants the rules changed.

A couple of months ago I renamed my FB page to Tracey Morait – Author of Fiction for Children and Young Adults to reflect who I am and what I do and overnight I lost six Likes, although some people re-Liked again. Things settled down for a while, then last week I happened across an article giving advice on how to set up an author fan page. It said not to put your book cover on as your profile image – use a personal photo so people can see what you look like – and don’t do the same with your cover photo, so I looked at my page and realised it hadn’t had a facelift for years. The profile image was my recent book Goalden Sky and my cover photo comprised of the four previous book covers. Fair enough. I decided to heed the advice and redesign it, so I did. The new images themselves went down well – but the page lost three more Likes!

When I lost another Like today, I was ready to give up and bin off FB altogether. What’s the point, I thought, of posting to it if people aren’t going to see the posts? Frustrated, I decided to do more research and came across this article:

5 Reasons Why People Unlike Your Facebook Page

I read the points in turn and thought, ‘Is this where I’m going wrong?’

  1. Constantly Self-Promoting

Well, maybe, but I thought that was the whole point of the fan page. I am trying to promote my books and also to provide progress on the new book I’m writing, but am I boring people? Could be. The thing is, I don’t treat my Twitter profile the same as I do my FB page because I read somewhere else many moons ago that your fan page is your business page and so keep it professional (i.e. boring), yet with your Twitter you have to ‘show your personality’. My Twitter is a mixture of book and football tweets; I get lots of engagement on there and RTs and FAVs of my book news. Maybe I should mix things up a bit on my FB page then, but how? That’s what I’ll have to think about. The problem is I find FB kind of, well, boring, really. I have a personal profile, but I don’t post that much on it, unless it’s to share photos of my last holiday.

The other thing I don’t do is use FB ads and I don’t constantly ‘invite’ friends to Like my page, either. This is spam to me and I hate that, don’t I? (Yeah; and I’m still getting those irritating promotion messages on Twitter!) Other authors do it and I find it annoying, and FB frowns on it, sees it as buying ads, and so that’s why they remove the Likes.

  1. Posting Too Much

Not guilty, guvnor. I prefer Twitter to kind of go on a bit and anyway it’s more fun. I remember to post to FB about once a week.

  1. Not Posting Enough

It’s a fair cop (see point 2) and when I do post it’s usually about the books. I looked at my timeline last night and thought no, it isn’t that appealing, really, is it? Hmm.

  1. You’re Sort of a JERK! #Americanslangalert

I say, that’s not cricket, even if it is true!

‘Do you vent your problems and frustrations constantly on your page and post in an arrogant and/or rude way…?’

No, but I do on my blog! Image result for laugh emojiNot on FB*, only on Twitter, and only when I’m talking footie. I’m never arrogant about my books, but I don’t see what’s wrong with blowing my trumpet now and then. I’m self-published, so chuck me a bone.

*Well, actually…I’m about to put this blog post on! #liaralert

  1. Posting Unrelated Items to Your Page

So that rules out a photo of me at New Year with a glass of something 40% proof in my hand then, with my mascara running down my face as I realise the years are rolling on and there’s nothing I can do to stop them (I do that every New Year, it’s a ritual).

The article finishes by saying:

‘So focus on not doing these things and I bet you’ll see better results on your page…’

I bet you any money I don’t!

The way I see it with Facebook, I have one of two choices to make:

  1. Put up and shut up, do my best with it and if I lose Likes, I lose Likes
  2. Delete my account altogether and stick with Twitter.

Right now, I’m inclined to stick with it a bit longer, so it looks like I’ll have to stop moaning, be more ‘engaging’, post more often, but not constantly promote, not rant, and don’t put anything irrelevant on my page – and maybe engage more often with those who do Like me.

It’s just so much easier to do all that with Twitter, though…

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…

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