Exciting Competition! 12 Books For 99c Plus The Chance To Win $500 Worth Of Prizes

Exciting news today and a fantastic competition with lots of prizes for authors, so it’s worth reading on and entering even if you don’t want the books!

Update: 26 Feb – the competition is now closed, but the book is still available!

Book Launch: Deadly Dozen. 12 Mystery/Thrillers for just 99c

deadly dozen the twelveMy bestselling conspiracy thriller, One Day In Budapest, is one of the books within the Deadly Dozen mystery/thriller box-set – out now and already an Amazon Kindle Top 100 Bestseller, hitting the lists in Mystery, Thriller and Suspense.

For just 99c (or equivalent) you can get $46.65 Value (if the books were purchased separately) with a regular retail price: $9.99.

There are 10 full-length novels + 2 long novellas with over 680 5-star reviews across all 12 titles!

It’s by The Twelve, award-winning and bestselling authors writing across the boundaries of thriller, mystery, horror and crime, connected by a love of intriguing characters, fast-paced writing and edge of your seat tension

You can buy now on all the Amazon stores, Nook, Kobo or iBookstore using these links. Open to everyone globally :)

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The Prizes!

There are a number of prizes:

TheCreativePenn_Course Buttons8Everyone who enters gets ‘21 ways to sell more fiction online,‘ an 86 minute video recording of a webinar I did on book marketing with lots of tips for non-fiction writers as well. Plus, you get the mp3 version if you prefer audio, the slide pack in PDF and resource guides. That’s $21 value for just 99c.

prizesThen everyone who buys will also get entered into the draw to win:

  • 1st Prize: All 4 Pro-Writer multimedia courses: on Traditional Publishing, Independent Publishing, Book Marketing and Secrets of a ProWriter with NY Times bestselling author of over 1 million books, CJ Lyons and myself presenting the multimedia course with video, audio and text material. This prize is worth over US$300.
  • 2nd Prize: US$50 Amazon.com voucher

So, for 99c, you’ll get 12 mystery/thriller books PLUS/ 21 ways to sell more fiction online PLUS/ the chance to win more prizes!

How to enter

Update: 26 Feb – the competition is now closed, but the book is still available at the following stores:

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It can be any store, from any country in the world and everyone is welcome to enter. This promotion is valid until 25 Feb 2359 US Eastern and I will then contact the winners directly.

Update 26 Feb: Winners have been notified – thanks for entering!

If you have any questions, please leave them below in the comments or email me: joanna AT TheCreativePenn.com

What are you waiting for! Go buy Deadly Dozen and join the competition :)

Book Marketing: The Long Term Launch

The days of focusing on the initial spiked launch are over – thankfully!

vital vocationThere is no shelf life online, with ebooks or print on demand, so we can space out our marketing activities and look for longer term sales. Today Brian Cormack Carr outlines what he is learning from a long-term launch process for his book.

I published my first book  How To Find Your Vital Vocation: A Practical Guide to Discovering Your Career Purpose and Getting a Job You Love – in early June of this year, and two months later I’m not even half way through my planned promotional activities.

In this post, I discuss why a long-term launch is every bit as valuable as an overnight bestselling success, especially for self-published authors.

There’s nothing quite as exciting as the launch of your book.

You spend weeks, months – even years conceiving it, writing it, and preparing it for publication. Then you let it loose in the world and wait eagerly to see how quickly it shoots to the top of the bestsellers list.

Of course, for most of us, success doesn’t come as immediately as that. It takes a lot of time and effort to ensure that people other than your immediate family know that your book even exists. That’s doubly true if (like me) you’re a first timer.

Far from being a limitation for indie authors, I see this as being one of the great freedoms of the self-publishing model. When our main platform is online, where books can have perpetual shelf-space, it can be a case of slow and steady wins the race.

Here’s some of what I’ve learned during the long-term launch of my book.

1. You don’t need to expect an instant hit

Although I’ll confess to fantasizing about achieving an overnight No.1 bestseller, I’m actually very happy to watch sales steadily grow.

I launched the ebook version of How To Find Your Vital Vocation just a few days before my 40th birthday (which was the publication deadline I’d set myself) and was rewarded with a pretty modest initial placing at No.20 on the Kindle careers bestsellers list…but please allow me a moment of glory as I note that for a period of about four hours, my book was a couple of spaces ahead of Donald Trump’s in the chart. That’s a feeling you can’t put a price on.

That actually didn’t take a huge number of sales; but it did take significantly more sales than I could account for amongst family and friends, so clearly I had done something right.

A confession: I miscalculated the lead-in time I’d need to coordinate the launch of the digital and physical versions of the book, and was initially disappointed that I didn’t get them out simultaneously. That disappointment soon dissolved when I realized that the paperback publication gave me another great opportunity to re-launch the book. Interestingly , as well as seeing a flurry of paperback sales when I did that about a month later, the ebook also shot back into the bestsellers list.

Sales have been steady since, and the book has re-entered the Top 30 of the bestsellers chart several times. Not bad for a first timer!

2. You do need to build your author platform first

That initial flurry of sales would not have happened had I not spent time building an audience through blogging and social media activity long before I released the book.

At the time of publication, I had around 800 Twitter followers, 600 Facebook fans and a mailing list of about 200 subscribers.† That might sound daunting to anyone who’s only beginning in these arenas, but bear in mind that I started building this audience long before deciding to write a book, as I had already been blogging to promote my coaching practice.

It’s worth noting that my blogging has been inconsistent and ad-hoc. If I were to have this time over again, there’s no doubt I would put more effort into being consistent in that arena, because greater consistency would almost certainly have created greater audience participation and probably more sales.

That said, I was able to use my blog to crowd-source opinions on which cover I should choose for my book, which definitely built up some immediate pre-launch interest amongst readers.† Of course, the good news is I can start building that consistency now, which will only improve future audience engagement.

I discovered another delicious unintended consequence: not only has my author platform helped with the book launch; the launch itself has helped grow my author platform.† Since the book came out, my overall audience across all media (including unique blog visitors) has approximately doubled.

3. Getting help is a great idea

I wanted to ensure my book got the best possible start in life, so as well as working hard to ensure it was well-written, I hired an independent editor and a professional cover designer. I’m sure that initial investment in the quality of the book has helped sales (and has helped generate consistently positive reviews so far).

Help can come later in the process too, and so I spent time building links with other bloggers who have since been gracious enough to host me on a blog tour to promote the book. This guest post is one of my stops on that tour.

Here’s a key point to note: after every one of these stops, I’ve seen a spike in book sales.

As a relative newbie, I needed help to flesh out my tour and so I hired a book tour company to help me secure some additional guest posting opportunities. These have been useful for back-links to my blog, and I think they’ve helped with some sales, although the response hasn’t been as pronounced as it has been on my self-generated tour stops.

By the way, don’t be afraid to ask for help from other bloggers and experts. The only prerequisite is you should have built a bit of a relationship with them first, by commenting on their blogs and interacting with them at least on social media. That’s how I made contact with Joanna, and it’s also how I made contact with best-selling author Barbara Winter, author of the famous Making a Living Without a Job, who (to my delight) agreed to provide a wonderful quote for the front cover of my book.

Another form of help I’ve tried is paid-for advertising through Facebook and on a couple of indie-author sites.† The jury’s out on that approach as far as I’m concerned – I haven’t seen the results from advertising that I’ve seen through blogging and social media interaction – but I’m continuing to monitor this.

4. There are always more things to try

I’m happy with progress so far, but I’m also excited by the fact that two months on, I still have a number of options up my sleeve. Such as:

  • Amazon optimization. I’ve already claimed my author page, written a detailed book blurb and linked my eBook and paperback pages but I haven’t yet spent time doing the other things that are generally agreed to be a boost to book sales, such as writing product reviews on books in related niches, or creating useful Listmania lists which can help draw readers to my book.
  • A podcast tour. At the time of writing I’ve done a couple of Skype interviews with Tom Evans a.k.a The Bookwright and I had such great fun, and saw such good results, I definitely want to do more. This is what I’m going to focus on next after my blog tour begins to wind down.
  • Special-offer prices. So far, my book hasn’t been enrolled in KDP Select, partly because I’ve read some conflicting information about how best to use it. However, I am likely to look seriously at this in the near future so I can promote the eBook through free days. I’m also considering special offer days at lowered pricing for both the electronic and physical versions.
  • Promotion in the real world. My promotion so far has been online, which works for me since I have a full-time day job, but I am considering some real world promotion such as press-releases and public speaking engagements.
  • Re-investment of revenue. Now that the book is selling, I’m looking at how I might use the income I’m making to further boost its visibility. That’s likely to involve a re-look at how I might make advertising working better.

5. You should measure your success beyond your book sales

I want to finish by encouraging indie authors to think beyond book sales as a measure of success. If your book is in the non-fiction genre and is at least partly designed to promote a service you offer, consider the impact it has on the rest of your business. In my case, that has been particularly striking. I haven’t been actively seeking more coaching work, but since the book came out, inquiries for my coaching help have more than quadrupled.

It’s true what they say – a book really is the best business card.

There you have it. In reading this back, I’m realizing as much as anyone how much I’ve learned. I may not have had an overnight success with How To Find Your Vital Vocation but I’m more than happy with what I’ve achieved so far, and by the time my next book is ready to launch, watch out – I’m going to be dangerous!

Read Brian’s blog series How To Self-Publish Your First Book:

Part 1: Planning, Platform…and a Promise Fulfillled

Part 2: Formatting, Cover Design & Getting Professional Help

Part 3: Pricing, Promotion & Lessons Learned So Far

Do you have any questions about launching? Please join the conversation by leaving a comment below.

Brian Cormack CarrBrian Cormack Carr is a writer, certified career coach and chief executive of BVSC The Centre for Voluntary Action, one of the UK’s leading local charities. He trained in personnel management with Marks & Spencer plc and gained an MA (Hons) in English Literature and Language from the University of Aberdeen. Brian has nearly 20 years of experience in the fields of personal development and leadership, and has helped hundreds of clients, readers and workshop participants to find fulfilling work and a renewed sense of purpose.

Website: www.cormackcarr.com

Twitter: @cormackcarr

HOW TO FIND YOUR VITAL VOCATION:

Amazon link: http://viewBook.at/VitalVocation

Smashwords link: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/324656

Getting A Book Deal And Launching A Bestselling Non-Fiction Book With Marianne Cantwell

I believe all authors need to become entrepreneurs and treat their writing as a business, but today’s guest started as an entrepreneur and then got a book deal from her blog.

marianne cantwell 2Marianne Cantwell is an author, speaker and entrepreneur, making a living with a free range, location-independent life. Her new book is Be A Free Range Human – Escape the 9-5, Create a life you love and still pay the bills (or on Amazon.co.uk here).

You can watch the video interview here, or listen to the audio in the player above, subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, or listen to the backlist here (150+ episodes).

  • How Marianne got started. Marianne has always been a voracious reader and created stories in her life from a young age. She did a Creative Writing degree but then went into a ‘proper’ job with media, marketing and management consultancy. She put aside her writing for a number of years until, as part of her own career change adventure, she started a blog, Free Range Humans which kick-started her writing again. We both agree that if you don’t know what to do with your life then starting a blog is a great way to work it out!
  • Marianne’s latest blog post states that her business is based on writing and that writing is not a waste of your time. She explains how writing has been indirectly responsible for her income, and that until the recent book, she hasn’t been directly paid for writing. She has an email newsletter weekly as well as writing articles to attract her target market on the blog. All her clients have come from people who have liked her writing enough to find out more.
  • What is a Free Range Human anyway? A few years ago, Marianne was working in the city of London and commuting on the Tube, packed into crowded transport with lots of miserable commuters. During the summer, the temperature gets so high that, if animals were inside, the rights campaigners would be up in arms. Marianne thought about the much happier free range animals out there, and decided she wanted to be a Free Range Human. She started the blog and the name stuck. Now she helps people figure out what they want to do with their life and make money from it, as well as considering the option of location independence.

Getting a book deal and working with a publisher

  • How Marianne got a book deal, even though she didn’t really want one. A few years ago, her site did get noticed and she did start talks with a major UK publisher but it turned out they wanted her as an author, but only did it their way. This negative experience with publishing put Marianne off, preferring the freedom of blogging. About 18 months later, a publisher approached her but that person had been on her email list for several months, so she “got” Marianne’s message and unique voice, giving her more freedom and an expansion of her message in a book format. It’s important to be able to commit to the book for the long term so you have to be happy with your publishing partnership.
  • Marianne talks about the experience of publishing as up and down during the process. She didn’t like not being able to control the title or the cover design, but she is still glad the book is out there, and the publisher has let her put the book she wanted to write into the world. She feels it does give her a bigger reach than she could do alone. On balance, it is a positive thing and thinks her publisher is amazing, despite their battles!

On marketing.

  • Marianne went into the publishing process with her media and marketing hat on, and with a business discussion in mind. Part of the reason she was even approached was her marketing ability and her existing audience through the blog. She used her knowledge of what the publisher wanted to bargain for some of the things she wanted as part of the deal. A big part of marketing is writing a book that people want.
  • Publishers love comparisons, so never think your book is unique. Make sure you can name 3 other titles your book is like, which empowers the team to market your book internally.
  • You will be asked about your existing platform, so include your own mailing list numbers and social networks, but also think about your broader network and contacts e.g. I know these other influential people and these are THEIR followings. So you have access to far more people than are just on your email list if you connect through other networks.
  • They will also look at media profile, but the focus is on your ability to be promotable, so look at how you would respond to interviews or speaking live. Some publishers want their authors to talk in public or speak to journalists. Being presentable and media savvy is always a bonus and will help your pitch.

How relationships are critical to your success online

  • Part of blogging is about connection even if you’re not a natural networker or outgoing person. You can do that through writing or social media, so it doesn’t have to be in person. But when you are putting yourself out there, you tend to meet other people who are in the same niche over time and that helps build a reputation.
  • Going to conferences is a great way to start, and also emailing people who you have connected with over social media first.
  • Both Marianne and I use interviewing other people as a great way to connect, as it’s an excuse for a 30 min chat as well as an opportunity to market them. Always be promoting others. What can you do to promote them?

On launching the book to the top of the Amazon.co.uk charts

  • Marianne concentrated on building her email list and doing a pre-launch to drive pre-orders before the book came out with her existing fan-base. She offered bonuses and got other bloggers to promote the book and it debuted at the top of the charts in Entrepreneurship. This got a lot of notice for the book and then of course, it dropped during the Christmas rush but then after it officially went live it started to rise again, on the back of word of mouth, as the book is so useful.
  • Pre-launch is important but it’s also over-hyped. You can make many more sales after that initial launch period. It’s more about awareness raising and generating reviews. Don’t let it go – keep focusing on marketing for the long-term.
  • Her publisher wanted to do media in February after the book went live in Jan, which then caused a second spike for the book. Marianne has had interviews for major news and magazine outlets, including Business Week and CBS Moneywatch based on her publisher hiring a PR company. (Most authors will not get this, so don’t bank on it!)  She uses HARO and Sourcebottle to respond fast and concisely to journalist requests and with a new book in hand, most journalists want to talk to you.
  • Choose your publisher wisely and the experience will be much better.

free range human bookYou can get Free Range Human, the book on Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk and at bookstores everywhere.

You can find Marianne at the Free Range Human blog, or on twitter @freerangehumans

Here’s my review of the book:

This book is a great primer for people who are considering stepping out of the corporate world, the traditional career ladder and aiming to make a living doing something they love. You can still earn good money but the focus is more on life wealth, on how you spend your short time on the planet. Marianne walks the talk, living the free-range life, so she is the perfect guide to this way of life. I particularly think the section on “creating your free range life” is important for people to consider when deciding on a business. Do you really know what you want? Or are you using the metrics that you have been taught to use? Being the person you “should” be or who you really are? Inspirational and useful as a way to consider your next steps towards your future.

Do you have any questions about getting a book deal from a blog, or launching a non-fiction book? Please do leave them in the comments and we’ll jump in to answer them.

Book Launch. Prophecy, An ARKANE Thriller

Today is the official launch of Prophecy, #2 in the ARKANE series of action-adventure thriller novels. It currently has 16 reviews averaging 4.5 stars on Amazon.com and has already made the Amazon bestseller lists in Action Adventure and Religious Fiction. I have a whole lot of launch posts coming which I’ll link to below but here’s the blurb and some reviews.

“I looked, and there before me was a pale horse. Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him. They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth.” Revelation 6:8

The prophecy in Revelation declares that a quarter of the world must die and now a shadowy organization has the ability to fulfill these words. Can one woman stop the abomination before it’s too late?

From the catacombs of Paris to the skeletal ossuaries of Sicily and the Czech Republic, Morgan and Jake must find the Devil’s Bible and stop the curse being released into the world before one in four are destroyed in the coming holocaust. Because in just seven days, the final curse will be spoken and the prophecy will be fulfilled.

Prophecy is now available on the Amazon Kindle store. Coming soon on other ebook platforms.

Prophecy on Amazon.com

Prophecy on Amazon.co.uk

Praise for Prophecy

“Penn…has a background in theology and she employs this to great effect again in this novel. These books are as intelligent as they are gripping. She has also upped the supernatural ante since Pentecost and created a demonic villain (or two) that rise to the spiritual struggle inherent in the book’s premise. The final showdown between Morgan and the forces of evil will stay with you long after you have finished this compelling, page-turning thriller.” Orna Ross, author of ‘After The Rising’

“The action moves swiftly but the suspense never wanes, as Penn uses her vast knowledge to inform and educate the reader in a seamless unfolding of this fast-moving tale. Exotic locations and supernatural artifacts add to the adventure. Pentecost has been described as Lara Croft meets Indiana Jones and there are certainly elements of both to be found in these thrillers. However, I feel Joanna Penn has managed to establish her own voice in this series delivering strong characters and creative, but believable, plots. I’m already in line for the next one!” Patricia Sands, on Amazon.com

“Penn has a degree in theology and her knowledge and research, of ideas and locations, really shines through in these stories…as rollicking thrillers these books are great – perfect for holiday reading.” Alan Baxter, dark fantasy author of Realmshift & Magesign

“Prophecy is a gripping tale, plunging the reader into a race against a shadowy organization and its doomsday plot. Death lurks around every corner as Morgan Sierra and her partner Jake explore ancient ossuaries and dark catacombs in search of a sinister and deadly artifact. Mystery and adventure that is sure to please readers who love a good religious thriller.” David Wood, action-adventure author of Quest, Dourado and Cibola

“If you’re a fan of Dan Brown, then Joanna Penn is the author for you. Like Brown, Penn weaves information about religious art, icons and history with modern-day fears. The result is a face paced read, one that kept me up past my bedtime because I wanted to know what happens next.” Natalie Wright, who also did a great video review here.

“I particularly like the main character, the strong, intelligent, and attractive Morgan Sierra. Joanna Penn uses her academic training in Theology and Psychology to weave an intriguing page-turner in which Morgan must locate an artifact and prevent the Apocalyptic prophecy. I love learning as I read, and this book did not disappoint me. Through it, I learned about the God Helmet, The Devil’s Bible, the ossuaries, and various art and architecture. Joanna Penn seamlessly interlaces the facts with the story, creating a wonderfully vibrant and compelling story.” Jane V Blanchard, Amazon.com 

My inspiration for Prophecy

Psychology, neuroscience and religion are woven together in Prophecy along with some seriously creepy locations. You can read more about my writing inspiration in these posts over at my personal site, JoannaPenn.com

Guest Posts Coming Soon:

Would you like to interview me? 

I’m always interested in interviews so f you have an audience who might like Prophecy or hearing more about indie publishing, book marketing or writing in general, then please do email me: joanna@TheCreativePenn.com

How To Build A List Of Readers For Your Next Book Launch

So you’ve written a book and you’re about to publish it. Maybe you know you’re going to write another, maybe you have six more planned in the series, or maybe you have no idea what will come next, but you think perhaps you should know who your readers are. These days we all have to market ourselves and if you can market directly to people who love your work, it’s that much easier.

You are in the most powerful position right now to capture information about your market.

If you have no website, no twitter following, no social media presence at all, no speaking platform – nothing else at all – you can still start building a list of people who like your writing.If you have all these things, you can still capture a specific list who love your books.

Simply add to the end of the book a link to a website with a sign up list.

You can do this inside your print book or at the end of your Kindle book. Even if your book is out there, you can modify your files for print on demand or ebooks. So it’s not too late for anyone.

The example right is at the end of Pentecost and points to a signup page.

How do you actually set up list-building software?

Read about the basics of list-building here. I use Aweber (affiliate link) which is one of the best and most highly reputable services as well as being easy to use. You also need a site to put it on (you can use a wordpress.com free site) and a URL if you want an easy to remember one. This one just points back to a page on this blog so nothing too exciting there but I will point it to a special page once Prophecy gets going e.g. free chapters etc.

This has the obvious benefit of giving you a list of people who liked your book enough to sign up for the next one. You can email them directly when you have your next book out or send out information prior to get the launch started early.

It also has the added benefit of giving you a kick up the ass! I get emails daily showing that people are signing up for Prophecy and every day, I think I could have made another sale. There is great power in the backlist, and great earning potential and this is a daily reminder I need to get on with the series.

How are you building a list of readers for your next launch? Does this help?

Image top: Flickr Creative Commons Esparta