Thursday, May 31, 2018

Tips For Facebook and Newsletter Book Marketing

The biggest barrier to publishing is getting yourself noticed. There are so many millions of great books out there, that getting yours on someone’s reading list is a challenge. In the last few months I’ve been spending some money on marketing and here are some thoughts on how it’s panned out.

Facebook Personal Timeline Posts
Word of mouth is very valuable, so if you can get a reader to post a note about your book - WHOOHOO!

Problem: if you like to any page outside of Facebook, then Facebook will ‘hide’ the post. Because they don’t want people to leave, ever. 

Fix: a couple of likes and comments pushes up visibility. So get your mates to help you with a little bit of love.

Facebook Group and Page Posts
Public groups and dedicated pages can be great for reaching readers.

What works: if you have one that’s active with visitors, it’s a great way to get noticed.

What doesn’t work: post-and-run forums are a waste of time because nobody is looking.

Takeaway: avoid a group or page with 10,000 Likes if people simply like, post and run. But a page with 200 likes that’s active can be gold.

Tip: look at the ten most recent posts. If people are liking and commenting, you’ve hit gold.

Also remember: a couple of likes and comments pushes up visibility. So get your mates to help you with a little bit of love.

Newsletter Marketing
In theory newsletters should be great compared to Facebook because they don’t suppress readership.

What works: a newsletter that people like to read

What doesn’t work: commercial lists that go to hundreds of thousands of people, few of whom even look at it.

Tip: don’t ask, “How many subscribers do you have?” but ask, “How many opens do you get?” And if you're asking a company that charges, don’t be surprised if they refuse to tell you! 

From what I can gather, big newsletter get around 10-20% opens. So if you see 10,000 subscribers, some 1000 to 2000 people will open the newsletter. However, it doesn’t mean they read beyond the first book. So if you’re not at the top, even those opens may never see your book.
Takeaway: an author newsletter with engaged readers is gold. If a fellow Indie offers to host you or mention you, offer the woman a mani-pedi.

Worth trying: a promo group with an in-house newsletter that goes to serious fans.

Warning: not all newsletter hosts are honest. To see how they do, sign up for the newsletter you want to be featured in and track their posts for two or three cycles before you send off your $$$.

Coming Soon!
I’ve come to some other conclusions about what works in promos and will be putting together a test kit to see if I can refine everything into one ka-pow package. I’ll be checking it out in June and will write about it in July. Cross fingers it works and I don't fall flat on my face.

Until then, people I’ve used recently who I’ll be using again:
Love Kissed Promotions


Friday, May 25, 2018

We have two winners!

The two names picked randomly were Anne and Tarra. I've sent email and the winners have contacted me.  Parcels will be posted first thing Monday.

Thank you soooo much, all of you for your support. I really appreciate it.

A new post and book review will be up in about a week from now. Then we'll have a break because I'll be off to see my mum.

Cheers, Ellen

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Growing Up In A Male Fantasy World, plus a review of Sherwood Rogue by Kristi Cramer

I’m a huge fan of fantasy fiction but when I read Sherwood Rogue by Kristi Cramer this weekend (the review follows) I suddenly realised something odd.

Apart from the Earthsea stories by Ursula Le Guin, I couldn’t remember a single story with a female lead.

Not one! Isn’t that wild?

I devoured books by Tolkien, Feist, Piers Anthony, Douglas Adams, Pratchett, Stephen Donaldson, CS Lewis, David Eddings, Frank Baum, Micheal Moorcock - and as I started to itemise my favourite authors, I realised something else: they’re all men!

I guess in those days, publishing houses were run by men and for male authors. I can’t say it bothered me because, in my head, I had no trouble at all identifying with the heroes.

Mind you, I did get fed up sometimes of the very dull female characters. I remember moaning to my brother, also a massive fantasy fan, that the girls in the Riftwar series are either princesses or plucky tomboys, and very one-dimensional tropes to boot.

At the time, I grumbled but accepted it, and got my happy reads with rounded female characters from authors like Daphne Du Maurier, Mary Stewart, and Mary Renault.

While it's possibly easier to write from your own gender perspective, I would like know why my favourite fantasy authors generally avoided writing good female characters. Did they think we didn't matter? Or did they try, and discovered they sucked at it?

Anyway, having read Sherwood Rogue, I’m blessing myself for living at a time where online publishing is allowing women writers to share their work with the world. Not only is it great for us, but it means young girls can now pick up fantasy novels with finely layered female characters.

I think it’s also excellent for the genre at large; when a small group has dominated a field, opening it up breathes in new life and new ideas.

So, it’s a happy day today. I’ve got a new favourite book and there’s more to come.

(Update: I've figured out why I still enjoyed fantasy novels! )

Review: Sherwood Rogue by Kristi Cramer
I thought YA and Robin Hood would be dull as dishwater so I’m totally taken aback by this unusual take on the legend. This was an awesome read! 

Unusual and totally awesome!
Unhappy 21st century Kay steps through a time portal and is sent to Sherwood Forest where she joins Robin Hood. While she lives the legend, she’s living her own story at the same time. The result is an adventure story with a love theme - and some excellent twists. (I won’t spoil it for you.)

What I loved about it:
It’s a thoroughly human story with carefully layered main characters.
It retains some of the legend’s iconic points, like the fight between Robin Hood and Friar Tuck.
The gore, the dirt and the rough bits of medieval England are all there.
Kay doesn’t become a sage or a wise woman or any of the usual tropes.

What I didn’t like:
Actually, it was an excellent read. If I’m super critical, then I’d say the first few paragraphs don’t hint at the amazing story to follow. So if you read only the first page, instead of dipping in the middle, you may miss out.

Five star read, and it’s on my re-read list.

Buy Sherwood Rogue on Amazon UK
Buy Sherwood Rogue on Amazon US

Oh, and a message from me: on Saturday I pick the winners for the batik sarong and beach purse. It's newsletter subscribers only, so if you want in, sign up!

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Join my mailing list - and enter to win a sweet batik gift!

Hi there,

Do you like pretty things? If so, I have a surprise for you!

As you may know, I live in the tropics, in Malaysia, so for us it’s summer all round. Also, we have some amazing local crafts.

To say thank you to everyone on my mailing list, and to help those of you in colder climates welcome the summer after the super cold winter, I’m holding a surprise giveaway.

I’m giving away two traditional Malaysian batik sarongs and two handmade batik wallets.

If you’ve never seen it, batik is a wearable work of art. The artist draws or stamps a pattern made from beeswax onto plain cotton cloth. Then she dips it in a vegetable dye, lets it dry, and then she removes the wax with hot water.  This leaves a simple two toned pattern. The artist then repeats the process, building up layers of colour.

Although artists all have their own style, classic Malaysian batik tends to feature flowers and leaves. Popular colours are also very natural, with lots of brown, green, cream and dots of red and blue.

As you might guess, we love our batik! All of us, men and women, use it as a casual wrap, as a throw, and to make formal party dresses and shirts. Because it’s so versatile, we also have a cottage industry of ladies making batik wallets, coin purses, fans and more.

I love batik and I want you all to enjoy it with me!  So I’ve made up two prizes, each containing one sarong and one wallet.

What do you have to do to enter to win?
You have to join the mailing list.

Subscribe to my sweet romance mailing list

* indicates required


How are winners picked?
On 26 May 2018, I go to, put in all the names from this mailing list and let it pick two winners. I then write to you, privately, to get your mailing address (work or home) and I post you the gift. If you’re in Europe or North America, it will take about 10 days to get to you.

Winners will be announced to the whole group, via a very short newsletter on the day of the draw. So please be sure to check your email!

Speaking of newsletters: I write about three sweet romances a year, so you’ll only hear from me when it’s pre-order time (you get DISCOUNTS) or if I’m running a giveaway.

I do love to gossip, so I blog every week or so, and I’m online at FB. If you like, do come and chat!

The next Winthrop novel should be ready in August. I’m loving the story line but I’m thinking a little steamier might be fun - let me know your thoughts? Find me online or just hit Reply.

In the meantime, enjoy the spring, and I’ll be in touch on 26 May 2018 to announce the winners.