Three Free Books on Publishing

I’m running a FREE promotion on Kindle for books 3-4-5 in my Author’s Essentials series. Get whichever ones you want or grab all three. These are part of what I teach in my in-person free writing seminars. Ask with any questions!

Book 3 on Choosing a Path is here-

Book 4 on Traditional / Large Press / Small Press publishing –

Book 5 on Self-Publishing step by step (including Amazon paperbacks, Amazon Kindle, and other systems) –

Free Mentoring Session

Reminder! Free! Tonight! I’ll be doing a LIVE video mentoring system from 6-8pm EST at

 – it’s free to participate. Ask me anything about writing, editing, book cover design, publishing, marketing, and more. You don’t need a video camera or microphone or anything – you just type your questions. This will be a test run for me to see if it’s an efficient way to help many writers at once. I also have free in-person seminars but I know many of you aren’t in Central Massachusetts to attend those. I’d love to hear any feedback or suggestions on this! And I hope to see you tonight as part of my test 


Flustered Flamingo

Hurrah! My life has been so busy that my to-do list got away from me. I’ve FINALLY hit publish on book 10 in my cozy zoo mystery series. It should be live soon! Then I’ll need to re-edit all ten books to link properly to each other and to the full compilation. And then this series will be set, at least for this arc! One step at a time! If you haven’t read book 1 yet, it is FREE and here:

What are you up to?

Writing & Cover Design Books FREE

For the next five days, I have put the first two books in my Author’s Essentials books FREE on Amazon. You can download these both wholly for free now. I suggest doing that before Amazon ends that free period.

Please share the news with any family and friends.

Here’s the link for book 1 on writing and designing the book:

Here’s the link for book 2 on designing the cover:

I am doing this as part of a push to begin offering more services online. Up until now I’ve only helped people via the in-person library seminars. That is nice, but some people end up driving an hour or more each way to get to one. Also, there are many people who can’t attend due to scheduling issues or they are just too far away.

Here are the two options I’m trying out.

First is Patreon. I will be offering various options here for readers to support my writing and for writers to get personalized one-on-one support with me, via email or phone or Skype, to make progress on their writing, publishing, and marketing. I’m new to Patreon, so please let me know if you use that or if you’re able to help me test it. I am still in the ‘review’ stage so all the options are not yet live.

Second is Twitch, which is a live video streaming service. You will be able to log on and watch me, live, as I talk about writing, editing, publishing, and marketing a book. You can type in questions live for me to answer right there for you. I’m new to Twitch, so I’d like some guinea pigs (ahem, writers) to test this out with me. Please let me know if you’re willing to give this a try!

My next free in-person seminar is this Tuesday, June 4th at the Sutton MA library from 6-8pm. The focus of Tuesday’s seminar is on all forms of publishing. Traditional publishing. Small press publishing. Self-publishing. I’ll go step by step through screens to show how it works. Come on out if you’re free!

Let me know if you have any questions!

Cash Prizes for Authors from BiblioBoard

If you’re an author, you should definitely look into the contest offered by BiblioBoard. This contest offers cash prizes on a state / province basis. For example, the winner in Minnesota gets $1,000. The winner in Wisconsin gets $1,000. And so on.

There are a variety of states and regions which participate in this, each one awarding its own prizes. California. Texas. Florida. Connecticut. Virginia. So on.

This is ONLY open to Indie Published books. Its purpose is to help indie published books get publicity and acclaim.

Part of what this program does is bolster the SELF-e ebook program used by many libraries around the world. Authors submit their books to the SELF-e program. Libraries subscribe to BiblioBoard / SELF-e so that their patrons can get access to all those books. It’s amazing, free marketing for all the authors. Many people who read a book in a library then go buy it and tell their friends about it if they really love it. I always highly recommend that authors get into as many libraries as humanly possible for that reason.

I happen to live in Massachusetts. I want to note that Massachusetts is NOT a participant in the BiblioBoard / SELF-e system. They used to be. I used to have quite a lot of my books available in this system. But in June 2018, Massachusetts decided to opt out of the system. So our libraries no longer have access. Instead, Massachusetts libraries use the Overdrive system.

You can see my Lisa Shea books available in OverDrive here, to see how OverDrive works –

To put your books into OverDrive, you just use the Draft2Digital system. That lets you, with one click, have your books distributed to a number of different systems like iTunes, Nook, and, yes, OverDrive. So I definitely recommend if you’re an author who is not Kindle Exclusive that you have your books available through Draft2Digital to get to the OverDrive market.

But, back to the contest. Definitely see if your state is participating in the for-cash aspect of this contest. Even if your state is NOT participating, you can still load in books to the system. The LibraryJournal staff will be reviewing all entries from all over the world. They will choose their favorite entries to be available across the system. So your books could still be chosen for world-wide distribution, to give you that huge marketing reach.

Let me know how it goes, and GOOD LUCK!!

Amazon Free Marketing to Followers for New Releases

Did you know that you can get FREE easy direct marketing from Amazon which sends email blasts out to all your loyal fans? And it comes right from the Amazon servers?

Here’s how it works.

Amazon just emailed news of my latest book out to all of my followers.

Authors – this is why you want to release new books on a regular schedule. Each time you do, Amazon will alert all your followers both about the new book and remind them about your other books. It’s free, powerful marketing. Note that you MUST tie your book into your Author Central page for this to work. That’s how people follow you. Here’s mine to show how the Author Central page works.

If you don’t have an Author Central page yet, go to:

to set yours up. Ask with questions and I’m happy to help. If you post your AuthorCentral link in the comments, I’ll make sure to follow you and, if you want, offer some suggestions.

This email is another powerful reminder of why your cover MUST be powerful at a small size. Amazon shows people tiny thumbnails. Readers choose to click or not click based on that tiny thumbnail. If the tiny thumbnail is muddy or unclear, they won’t click. Make sure that tiny thumbnail pops! Look, for example, at the tiny ad they put at the top of the newsletter. Look at how small that promo book’s image is. Will it catch the eye even at that tiny size? If not, it’s time for some polishing of the cover!

Let’s also note that Amazon does not show ANY blurb or description with this promo. Amazon only shows the cover and title. So many times in Amazon’s system all a reader sees is the cover and title. The cover and title MUST clearly convey what a book is about and also grab its target audience. If your target audience is fantasy then the cover must scream fantasy and appeal to fantasy readers so much that they say “That looks cool! I want to learn more about that book!” Don’t rely on your blurb to do that. If someone never clicks on a cover, they’ll never see your blurb.

Ask with questions!

Do Not Allow Friends / Family to Review your Book on Amazon

I’ve said this many times in the past and I’ll keep issuing the warning. If you’re an author on Amazon, do NOT allow your friends or family members to post reviews of your book. This is explicitly against Amazon’s rules and FTC regulations. Amazon has the technology. They will find that relationship. They could easily shut down YOUR ENTIRE AMAZON ACCOUNT and eliminate your sales permanently.

Amazon is a massive near-monopoly on the book selling industry. The last thing any author wants to do is to risk in any way their access to that market.

I am an author with over 350 books in the Amazon system. I also have a fairly extensive family and friend network. I do ask those family and friends not to review my books. Apparently someone might have done it recently, though, because I got this fairly harsh warning email from Amazon.

* * *

We have determined that your account is related to accounts that have written Amazon customer reviews for products that you have a financial interest in. This may include products that you or your competitors sell.

Why did I receive this message?
Family members, close friends, or employees of a seller on Amazon may not write reviews for the seller’s items or negative reviews for items sold by that seller’s competitors. Sellers are not allowed to manipulate ratings, feedback, or customer reviews.

Violations of our policies may also violate state and federal laws, including the Federal Trade Commission Act. Amazon strives to maintain customer trust and provide the best possible shopping experience. As a result, we will investigate when we learn that sellers, vendors, or others have attempted to manipulate reviews. This includes offers of compensation in exchange for reviews.

If this continues, it may result in account deactivation.

* * *

This is a strongly worded message and it carries a fairly dire threat. Yes, of course Amazon is not the only book seller on the market. One could still sell with iTunes, Barnes & Noble, SmashWords, and other avenues. But if one lost the entirety of the Amazon marketplace – from ebooks to paperback books, from Audio books to Kindle Unlimited’s lending library – that is simply massive. For me the loss of Amazon would be catastrophic. It’s where 99% of my sales take place.

I have written Amazon to try to get more details about exactly what I need to watch for. Do they want me to police all my reviews on a daily basis, watch to see if anybody looks like an account I might know the owner of, and write them to ask them to take that review down? What if a cousin is using a pseudonym on their account?

The short answer, though, is that every author needs to take this VERY SERIOUSLY. Never, ever ask family or friends to write reviews of your books. I’ve said this before and I’m doubling down. It is just not worth it. Get your reviews through legitimate means – work with bloggers, do book promotions in marketing newsletters, and build your fan base. That is the ONLY safe method of building a review count which is healthy and Amazon-approved.

Twitter for Authors

If you’re an author, you need to be on Twitter. Facebook is great for reaching existing fans; Twitter is amazing at reaching future fans. Post your Twitter link below so we can all follow you. If you don’t have a page yet, make one and then post it!

Some key tips:

* Always include an image of some sort. Images are key on all social networking platforms. Even if it’s an image of your book with a mug of coffee, or your book with a cat, or just your book, use that image space.

* Always use 2-3 *popular* hashtags. Using a rarely-used hashtag is wasting your space. Don’t try to create hashtags. Use hashtags that have proven popularity. Rotate through new ones to draw in new eyeballs.

* Put #IARTG at the end of your account description, follow @IARTG, and occasionally use that hashtag. Occasionally retweet other authors who use that hashtag. That then encourages all those 66,000+ IARTG members to like and share your posts. Remember, Twitter is a community. You need to like and share other authors’ posts to have them do the same for you.

* Like and share posts relating to your topic area. Again, if all you do is post about yourself and never interact with anyone else, it’s unlikely people will interact with you. The more you behave like a community member, the more likely other members in the community will like, share, and support your posts.

Ask with any questions! Good luck!

Build your Followers

I know an author who is striving to get a publisher. Today she was publicly whining that the publisher wanted to know her follower count – and that it was stupid because THE PUBLISHER was supposed to do all the work of selling her book for her. She’d done her part, writing it, the end.

I have a feeling that publicly venting like that is not the way to build a relationship with a publishing house. The publishing house has thousands of other manuscripts coming in weekly which are just as good. Undoubtedly a number of those come with authors who are eager to do their part of the marketing task.

If an author presents herself as unwilling to help at all, she automatically has created large barriers in the relationship. Given the thousands upon thousands of other authors eagerly competing for that same contract, why would any author deliberately downgrade their chances?

Tip: Don’t whine in public about how you’re unwilling to help support your book’s sales. If your follower count is low, work on building it up. If your marketing skills need help, take steps to build them. Your source manuscript may be great – but so are thousands of other manuscripts flooding the publisher.

Many of those authors will bring solid marketing systems and fan bases with them. If you want to compete against those, then compete.