Tag Archives: ebook

Top 5 Author Marketing Mistakes

So you’ve written your book, polished it to perfection, and now it’s time to pimp it out… but you’ve got no idea how to do it. Marketing, it’s one of those things that sends an icy sliver of fear right into the heart of the most accomplished author. It’s like black magic, alchemy, the occult. A dark art practised by people with fake tans, wearing shiny suits.

Like writing, there is no actual secret to marketing. There are no rules, only what works, and what doesn’t. And here’s the rub: what works for one person, doesn’t necessarily mean it will work for you. But to help you along in your marketing journey, here are five things that a pretty much useless to the majority of indie authors:

#5 Spamming your friends

This should be a no-brainer. But then marketing and common-sense seem to be incompatible. Chances are that on your contact list you have a mix of real-life friends, “friends”, and people who are contacts because they are vaguely associated with you. They already know that you have a book out. They may already have bought it. So what they need is for you to post a dozen times a day about your book. Hell, why stop there? They put a picture of their little bundle of joy, so why not put in the comments that your book would make a brilliant Christening present… Can you see where I’m going with this. Save your spam for your official author channels, keep your friends as friends.

#4 Preaching to the choir

Some of you will say: “But authors are readers too!”. And although that is true it doesn’t make for a good marketing strategy. Like #5 above, spamming other authors/author groups will elicit the same response – a roll of the eyes every time your name pops up. Yes, authors are readers too, but of what genre? I’m and author, and I’m a reader. But I’m fussy. And so are most people. Authors also have limited time to dedicate to reading, so if their genre is, for example, historical fiction, what are the chances that they’ll give your transgender paranormal romance a whirl? While the scatter-shot technique may provide some results, it makes more sense to channel your efforts into a targeted campaign.

#3 Using Social Media as a one way pipe

This is my pet hate. Social. Media. The clue is in the name. It’s not called Amass a Billion Followers Who You Never Interact With Media. That’s what happens though. Accounts with tens of thousands of followers and followees all blast their messages into the interwebs – and neither side sees the other because they’re too busy saying “FOLLOW ME” and “BUY MY BOOK” to interact. Or worse still… they’re not even there. Their accounts all linked to one automated crud cruncher that churns out message after message at set times during the day. What a great way to foster a relationship with readers and potential readers. [that was irony by the way]

#2 Being Free with Freebies

People love something for nothing. But nothing devalues your work as quickly as nothing. See what I did there? And now the explanation: You are not a “best-seller” if you top the free listing chart. The majority of copies you gave away will never be read (sorry, but pretty much every Kindle, Nook and Kobo are jammed to the digital gills with free books that were downloaded for one reason, and one reason only: they were free). I’m not against giving your work away for free. But only if it is done as a way to entice sales. Make your readers (and potential readers) value your work, even when it’s free. Make it quid pro quo. They get a free book by following/tweeting/sharing/liking. OR, if you want to be even more fiendish with the freebies (and increase the perceived value) make it into a draw. Their interaction enters them into the draw for a copy. FREE free copies have had their day as a marketing tool, and will simply gather digital dust. Respect your work, and retain the value of it to your readers.

#1 Copying the Big Boys/Girls

Okay, this is quite a big topic so I’ll condense it as best I can. When I talk about the Big Boys/Girls, I mean the traditional publishing marketing methods. Unless you can match their budgets and manpower, forget it. They may be dinosaurs, but they still have a lot of clout, like the T-Rex in Jurassic Park. Definitely don’t get bogged down by meaningless numbers. The only numbers you should be concentrating on is your ACTUAL readership. Not how many followers you have on twitter, not how many likes you have on facebook, not how many klowns you have on klout, or even how many hits your website gets. If they’re not translating into sales then you’re wasting your efforts. Your marketing needs to be cost effective so think very carefully before you put any cash down on advertising. Every clam you shell out on marketing needs to do one of two things: increase your reputation, or increase your sales (hopefully both). Unfortunately, the majority of “marketing solutions” will do neither, and the majority of “marketing solutions” won’t guarantee to do either. So buyer beware. It makes better sense, as an indie author, to invest your money in you and your readership.

What do you consider to be the worst marketing mistakes?
Have you got any marketing nuggets you’d like to share?

Lament for the Living is out now: paperback and ebook

Free Sci-Fi Ebook This Weekend

This weekend ‘Lament for the Living’, the post-apocalyptic zombie survivor book is released.  It’s also the one year anniversary of the publication of ‘The Deluge of Elias’ the dystopian sci-fi short story.  To celebrate both events I’m making ‘The Deluge of Elias’ a Free Sci-Fi Ebook for the duration of the weekend.

That’s the 10th, 11th, and 12th of May 2013, The Deluge of Elias will be FREE!  To mark the anniversary it’s been extensively re-edited and contains the first three chapters of ‘Lament for the Living’.

If you didn’t get a chance to read it before, now’s your chance.  And if you did read it before, then give it another whirl.

The Deluge of Elias:
(UK) http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Deluge-of-Elias-ebook/dp/B0082FRKNU
(Rest of the World): http://www.amazon.com/The-Deluge-of-Elias-ebook/dp/B0082FRKNU

The Deluge of Elias by David Nicol

‘Lament for the Living’ is Now Available:
Amazon: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Lament-Living-UK-Edition-ebook/dp/B00CNAPUAU

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Lament-for-the-Living-ebook/dp/B00CNDEK6W
(Rest of the World)

Smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/313539

Lament for the Living by David Nicol

Click here to visit the official page for Lament for the Living on facebook.

Add Lament for the Living to your Goodreads list: Lament for the Living on Goodreads.com
Like Lament for the Living on facebook for updates:  Lament for the Living on facebook

Visit David Nicol on Facebook: David Nicol – Author
Follow David Nicol on twitter: @davidxnicol
David Nicol on Amazon: David Nicol Author Page
Join David Nicol on GoodReads.com: David Nicol on GoodReads

Why the Resale of ebooks Isn’t Evil

Recently there have been a number of alarmist posts made on the interwebs about companies (Amazon being one of the them, but Amazon is ALWAYS one of them…) planning to allow users to sell their second-hand ebooks.

People have been really throwing their toys out of their prams over the issue. Or non-issue as I like to think of it. I know that some of you are you wondering what I’m on about here so I’ll do a quick recap on the issue:

  • All creators have the right of first sale, it’s part of copyright in that when their product is sold (for the first time) they get their cut.
  • Until recently there wasn’t the technology to allow the resale, or second hand market, for electronic goods.
  • It’s apparently a back-door for pirated copies (and we all know that piracy funds terrorism (!)).
  • The main argument, especially where DRM is used, is that the first purchaser is an “end-user” and so they are only licensing the product for their personal use, so resale is VERBOTTEN!!!!!! (yes I went over the top with the exclamation marks there, but it was for comedic effect).

Now I’m not going to go into any of those points because frankly, each of them is a choice for the individual copyright holder/publisher to decide on. Personally, I’m not going to put DRM on my future works (unless required by certain outlets…. Amazon) because I think it’s limiting and frustrating for the reader. “Surely you’re worried about piracy?” I hear you gasp. Well…. no. Not as much as I am about alienating readers in the first place.

So why am I not bothered about the re-sale of ebooks? Or more specifically, why am I not worried about the re-sale of MY ebooks? There are two reasons:

  1. I’ll have earned what I consider to be my entitlement via the ‘right of first sale’. I think it’s fairly obnoxious to expect to be paid when someone sells that book on. 
  2. I actually see the option to re-sell e-books as another revenue opportunity.

Wait! What? You heard me! Now put your brain in gear. As an reader, how many copies of an ebook do you legally own? That’s right, as many as you legally paid for. Now, as an author, how many copies of your ebook do you legally own?……. Okay, let me help you with that one. It’s somewhere between infinity and whatever comes after that.

See where I’m going with this yet?  These re-selling services operate by allowing you to sell any copies you legally own. With ebooks (as long as you haven’t stupidly sold your publishing rights), as an author you own an infinite amount of them. You can create them at will, which means that you can also sell them at will. So why should a canny author be bothered about these services when he/she can use them as another revenue stream.  Log on, see how much your book is going for in the second-hand market, put a load of copies up for sale at a competitive price. A percentage of something is better than a percentage of nothing. Simples.

I’d love to read your thoughts on the issue.

Don’t forget, ‘Lament for the Living’ is out on May 10th – get a sneak peek at the first chapter for FREE!

Currently it’s .prc (DRM free for Kindle) or .pdf only.
Kindle/.prc – Download Here
PDF – Download Here

Download, read, enjoy. Let me know what you think.

While you’re waiting for ‘Lament for the Living’ to be released the following titles are also available:
Hannibal House by David Nicol   The Deluge of Elias by David Nicol
For more information and purchasing links please visit:

Hannibal House – Free for February

To celebrate the end of KDP exclusivity, ‘Hannibal House’, my short horror story (I say short, but it’s ‘War and Peace’ compared to some titles available on Smashwords) is free with a coupon throughout February.  It even has a different cover to the original Amazon version:

Hannibal House - Smashwords Version

Anyhoo – between now and the end of February 2013 you can get Hannibal House for free on Smashwords at http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/283929 using coupon code ‘GU95J’.

Troy is an American, lost. Lost in many ways and so, after the death of his father, embarks on a voyage of discovery to the land of his ancestors: Wales.

His travels around the country finally lead him to a small village on the West Wales coast. Here he sees a house that enamours him and he endeavours to purchase it.

Although Troy is keen to settle down in the village, the locals are not keen on the idea and try to warn him off. But he has made his choice. Or did the house choose him?

Visit me on Facebook: David Nicol – Author
Follow me on twitter: @davidxnicol
What about on Amazon: David Nicol Author Page
And ofcourse, GoodReads.com: David Nicol on GoodReads

Indie Authors – Beware the Rip-Offs

Most indie authors are aware of the pitfalls of self publishing, especially those that offer “packages” to authors in return for exorbitant fees with little return.  There are many companies that are to be avoided, and shall remain nameless for two reasons: 1 – I live in the UK and mentioning names could be considered libellous, and 2 – it reduces their overall exposure if you just don’t mention them.

There are also more insidious and I’d say deceitful practices out there that indie authors and self publishers should be aware of.

Firstly you should realise that if you are an indie author, or self publisher then you are a business, and as such your decision making should be business led.  If you need help with a certain aspect of your work; cover design, proofreading/editing, marketing then you should be contracting that work out to a professional.  What you shouldn’t be doing is operating on vanity.  Many of the shysters out there operate on your vanity, your ego.  Business and ego are bad bed fellows.

I wrote this post after clicking on a link in my twitter feed about “being discovered in 2013”.  I clicked the link because I’d like to be discovered in 2013.  Maybe this was my way in…. I found myself on a professional looking website that extolled the virtues of their work in being a bastion for the indie reader.  Enter now, the blurb said to get your work in to the pool to be a “discovery of 2013”.  Each entry would be read by one of their panel of judges and by the look of it be given a 4 or 5 star review…. (hmmmm).  Okay, thought I.  Let’s see what they’re after.

It was all very straightforward, enter the title of your book, genre (but if you wanted to add extra genres it was an extra $50 (double hmmmm)).  Then just scroll down a bit and it asks about payment details.  Just so we’re clear, I hadn’t filled any of the form in, I was still in the looking phase.  When I saw ‘payment details’ I was intrigued.  Payment?  To enter a competition to be discovered?  Then I saw it.  Each entry was $150.  Sooo the site wanted to be paid $150 for each discovery it made… triple hmmmm.

Strip away the “awards” on this one and you’re paying at least $150 for someone to review your book.  No siree Bob!  To me, the moment you pay for an award you devalue your product and your integrity.  How can anyone take your work seriously if you’ve paid for a 5 star review of it?

What appeared to be a legitimate discovery opportunity became potentially sullying experience.  If only I could charge that site for the time I spent working out the catch.

Another sharp practise to look out for are online directories.  There are sites out there that position themselves as independent author, or writer, networks.  Their blurb is that their goal to help indie authors and self publishers to gain visibility.  Then they want you pay a fee to be added to THEIR database.  Not a central entity, their website database.  Who are the majority visitors to those sites?  Other indie authors.  Readers, or your target audience, visit the store of their e-reader (where you’ll be listed as an author, along with your bibliography), not those sites.  So save your money and put it in to your writing, or use it to fund some marketing – it’ll be money much wiser spent.

Use online communities such as GoodReads to grow your exposure and interact with real readers.  And I can’t stress this one more:  Use Social Media properly.  facebook, twitter, whatever are for communicating, not a one way pipe for your marketing.  Build up a proper network of readers and other authors who complement your brand.  Stay away from the slush pile.  It smells.

What are your thoughts on the subject?  Tell me your experiences, good or bad of online author services.

Visit me on Facebook: David Nicol – Author
Follow me on twitter: @davidxnicol
What about on Amazon: David Nicol Author Page
And ofcourse, GoodReads.com: David Nicol on GoodReads

I Rarely Buy What I’m Sold

David NicolIn this article I discuss the “marketing” tactics that some indie and self-published authors embark on and why they may be doing more harm than good.

I don’t like being sold to.  When I go in to a shop, I’m there because I know what I want.  If they don’t have it, I’ll find it somewhere else.  What won’t happen is this: a ‘sales assistant’ will saunter up and ask me if they can help, they then listen to what I’m after, ignore the specificity of my request and instead offer me what they have in stock, regardless of comparability.  Here’s the thing: I’m very specific.  I do my research before setting foot in a shop so I’ve already disregarded any alternatives.

Sometimes the sales assistant will offer to order in the item.  That type of sales person is getting rarer and rarer each day, and unless they can sell me the product cheaper than I can order it online myself it’s going to be a No Sale.  I’ve worked in sales myself, or retail as it was called many moons ago.  I didn’t enjoy it, but it was a job and my sales/commission were good because I employed a mysterious and occult talent that many of the other sales people lacked:  I listened to the customer.  I never told a customer what THEY wanted.  They know what they want and building rapport and trust with them wasn’t going to happen if I railroaded them in to buying the item that I made the most commission on, especially if it wasn’t what they were actually looking for.

Building trust enabled me to provide my customers with what they actually wanted, and when I recommended other items to compliment their purchase they would have more confidence in my suggestion.  It also meant that I had more repeat business (although at the time I didn’t realise any of this!).

So let’s fast forward to now, and social media, and online marketing, and self promotion….

I read with interest this article by Kristen Lamb entitled ‘How Can We Brag Without it KILLING Our On-Line Credibility?‘ which discussed the issue of Obnoxious Ollies and Super Secret Susans.  Obnoxious Ollie being the continual self plugger, while Super Secret Susan told no-one what she did and the importance of finding a balance between the two.

The reason for my interest is that recently I got fed up with the Obnoxious Ollies (and Olliettas) whose incessant self promotion was swamping my twitter feed.  I have already started pruning my twitter following list and already I’ve noticed a difference.   I can now see posts from people who have something to say, not just posts saying how wonderful their book is and why I should buy it.

What does this have to do with sales?  I think what’s happening in the independent author world is that people are finding their feet in unknown areas.  The issue I believe stems from all the “how to market” type sites and books out there, and in particular one gem of (mis)information.  According to marketing “law”, it takes eight impressions before someone will take action.  It’s possible that that information is from a very credible source, but like many quotes without the original context it can easily be misconstrued.

For many they seem to think that if someone sees their blurb eight times then they will buy their book, so they keep spouting it out.  Sooner or later their message will scroll through your feed, you’ll see it eight times and be powerless but to click on that link.  Except for one glaring problem.  Is what they’re selling actually what you want?  It could be that their book turns out to be finest thing you’ve ever read, completely life changing and you find a new muse for life.  But what if it’s not.  What if it doesn’t live up to the self produced hype?

I actually find it quite offensive to be constantly sold to, the use of social media becoming a one way hosepipe.  It’s meant to be social, to allow interaction.  But as more authors turn to auto-tweeting platforms they slowly destroy the platform.  Now that I’m weeding out the one-way tweeters I’m spending more time on twitter rather than facebook and enjoying the interaction.

Having a feed full of adverts, retweets and 5* review links was not my idea of fun.


Available now:

The Deluge of Elias by David Nicol

Long after a cataclysm that destroyed humanity had been forgotten, the descendants of the original survivors live in a protected Dome governed by a set of rules known as ‘The Orders’.

The rigid enforcement of The Orders now threatens the people they were designed to protect. Elias has a solution, except it puts him on a course of action that is at odds with the rules that he has been charged to rigorously uphold. On top of every thing else, the solution came to him in the form of a dream; in a time and place where no one dreams.

Can he save the last vestiges of humanity, or even himself?

The Deluge of Elias from Amazon US

The Deluge of Elias from Amazon UK

Hannibal House by David Nicol

‘Sometimes you don’t choose the house, the house chooses you’.

The supernatural story of a house that attracts lost souls. Set in South West Wales, Hannibal House tells the story of Troy who leaves Seattle in search of his roots.

Unsure of what he’s really looking for, Troy comes across Hannibal House. Immediately infatuated with the building he sets out to possess it, or is the house aiming to possess him…

Hannibal House from Amazon US

Hannibal House from Amazon UK


Catch me on twitter: @davidxnicol
Check me out on Amazon: David Nicol Author Page
See what I’m up to on GoodReads.com: David Nicol on GoodReads

‘Hannibal House’ is now available

Today, ‘Hannibal House’ launched on Amazon. Before we launch in to the blurb that goes with it I’d like to thank those who have been involved in helping tweak the story to the finished version. I received some fantastic feedback from those involved in the beta so thank you to all involved.

Those who provided feedback will be receiving a personalised copy of ‘Hannibal House’ via email.

And now, on to the main event:

Hannibal House by David Nicol

‘Sometimes you don’t choose the house, the house chooses you’.

The supernatural story of a house that attracts lost souls. Set in South West Wales, Hannibal House tells the story of Troy who leaves Seattle in search of his roots.

Unsure of what he’s really looking for, he comes across Hannibal House. Immediately infatuated with the building he sets out to possess it, or is the house aiming to possess him…

Available on Amazon:

(UK) http://www.amazon.co.uk/Hannibal-House-ebook/dp/B008LDK2PG

(US) http://www.amazon.com/Hannibal-House-ebook/dp/B008LDK2PG


And the futuristic dystopian short story ‘The Deluge of Elias’ is also available:

The Deluge of Elias by David Nicol

(US) http://www.amazon.com/The-Deluge-of-Elias-ebook/dp/B0082FRKNU

(UK) http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Deluge-of-Elias-ebook/dp/B0082FRKNU

Deluge of Elias – New Cover

I decided that ‘The Deluge of Elias’ needed a new and totally original cover. This cover needed to have three elements to it: a figure, moisture, and decay/rust. Those elements are prevalent in the story and so the image began forming in my head.

Stock images wouldn’t cut the mustard this time, although they’d make an appearance for the background. I needed a model for the face. Hmm, where can I get a model from at this time of night? I thought, looking in the mirror. OH! Hey there handsome. You’ve got the look of a man with the world on his shoulders.

The problem with me being the model is that I’m usually the one behind the camera. That’s what I trained as, and that’s where I’m comfortable. I also have no illusions about ever being a model (let’s get that straight right now). Enter stage right: the wife.

Imagine the conversation went like this: So honey… after covering me in vaseline you get to throw water in my face while taking photographs.

Sounds like something out of Fifty Shades of Suburbia, and it could have been, but it wasn’t. Anyway, my other half seemed keen on the idea of potentially waterboarding me for some twisted reason so we got to work.

I think that Wifey dearest enjoyed chucking water in my face as the photo shoot took a lot longer than seemed strictly necessary to get the image I was looking for. Some editing time later and here we have the new cover for ‘The Deluge of Elias’:

The Deluge of Elias by David Nicol

Catch me on twitter: @davidxnicol
Check me out on Amazon: David Nicol Author Page
See what I’m up to on GoodReads.com: David Nicol on GoodReads

Sci-Fi short story ‘The Deluge of Elias’ is available now on Kindle:

Available from Amazon.com

Available from Amazon.co.uk

Hannibal House: Release Date 14th July

The beta reading event for ‘Hannibal House’ is under way. Feedback received so far has confirmed that the story holds up and has the desired effect. Other than a handful of minor edits ‘Hannibal House’ only requires formatting to ebook.

The release date for the final commercial version will be July 14th 2012.

Hannibal House is the tale of a young American who heads to Wales after the death of his father to get in touch with his heritage. He doesn’t quite find what he’s looking for until he heads off the beaten track and comes across Hannibal House, a place that attracts lost souls.

Look out for it on the Amazon Kindle Market.

Hannibal House by David Nicol

Sometimes you don’t choose the house,

the house chooses you

Catch me on twitter: @davidxnicol
Check me out on Amazon: David Nicol Author Page
See what I’m up to on GoodReads.com: David Nicol on GoodReads

Sci-Fi short story ‘The Deluge of Elias’ is available now on Kindle:

Available from Amazon.com

Available from Amazon.co.uk

The Deluge of Elias – updated

I’ve just spent the best part of the day re-editing ‘The Deluge of Elias’ (the dystopian sci-fi short story in case you’re new here).  During the conversion from straight .doc format to HTML I was able to pick up and correct a number of errors, and expand on some sections to give it more depth.

It’s been a while since I worked in pure HTML so it was quite enjoyable to ‘get my hands dirty’ again.

Some additions to the original version are an encoded version of the cover, a note from me and then an introduction to ease the reader in to the world of Elias.  I did this as some readers felt the story was lacking some background information relating to The Dome.  Although I had intended to convey one of the main themes of the story (the control of information) by alluding to a total black out of everything that precedes the present; it was obvious that it didn’t come across as clearly as I hoped.

As I intend to continue write about The Dome I have deliberately avoided giving any details about how it came about, so hopefully the information presented in the new introduction will plug some of the holes, but leave the reader still wanting more.

At the conclusion of the story I’ve also included a teaser to the next short story that I’ll be producing.

Catch me on twitter: @davidxnicol
Check me out on Amazon: David Nicol Author Page
See what I’m up to on GoodReads.com: David Nicol on GoodReads

Sci-Fi short story ‘The Deluge of Elias’ is available now on Kindle:

Available from Amazon.com
Available from Amazon.co.uk