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Sunday, April 26, 2015

Amazon 5-Star Review of The Euros: Notre Dame Point Zero

Amazon 5-Star Review of The Euros: Notre Dame Point Zero
Here is the review:


By BOBA on March 1 2015
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase

Like many of Glenn Ashton's other books, this one grabs you right away and doesn't let up until the very end.
The "Euros" will satisfy anyone who is a fan of the Rainbow Six and Private para-military groups fighting off the bad guys. However, they are a bit classier and less super-human, therefore much more believable. In this case the bad guys are taken from the current headlines and set in both Notre Dame Cathedral and the sewers in Paris. The location is finely crafted and shows an obvious flair for detailed research.
This is a highly enjoyable read but don't expect to just read a bit and then put it down. That won't happen!


You can find more at my Amazon author site at:

What is my latest book - The Euros: Notre Dame Point Zero – about?

How would you rescue women and children held hostage in Notre Dame cathedral in Paris by a band of faceless, nameless and ruthless men, who have attached bombs to each hostage, and threaten to blow up the cathedral if their demands are not met?

That is the problem that The Euros face in this, the first book of the series about them.

The Euros is the name for the Euro Protection Bureau, the highly skilled, well trained super cops unit formed to protect the European Union from threats to its integrity.

With five headquarters – the Puzzle House in London, the Grooming House in Paris, the Toy House in Berlin, the Garage in Rome and the Story House in Prague - the PuzzleMaker and Headmaster, directors of the London and Paris HQs, have a limited time to find a way to make themselves invisible so that they may enter the cathedral, rescue the hostages, save the cathedral, and capture the Bad Guys.

As little children are marched to Point Zero in front of the cathedral, with flickering lights on their explosive vests, and the Headmaster is forced to go into the cathedral as a hostage, the PuzzleMaker turns to Knuckles, the leader of the Onsite Prediction Unit, to cast her knucklebones and help him anticipate the actions of the Bad Guys.

He also asks a young gypsy girl to help him, and the Gypsy takes him on a hair-raising trip through the catacombs and sewers of Paris.


Thursday, April 23, 2015

Authors, what Your Readers need from You to buy Your books

There are lessons to be learned from opinions of readers in various surveys, and the 2012 survey gives some good ones for self-published authors.

In the 2012 survey of readers of historical fiction, the finding was this:
In the 2012 historical fiction survey, 562 people listed favourite reading oriented websites, blogs and social media sites. The winners in connecting readers with books share three attributes:
  • thoughtful, trustworthy information about books,
  • opportunities for dialogue and an exchange of ideas, and
  • a community of like-minded readers.
If you write historical fiction, this finding from the 2012 survey should give you some hope, if you are a beginning self-published author:

Elsewhere in the survey, participants said that they choose books based on time period (27.2%) and on genre (30.3%). Only 18.3% choose based on author while the remaining 24.2% choose at random. Based on these percentages, it’s not surprising that historical fiction readers seek help to find stories from the time periods and genres they favour.

So, if you are relatively unknown as an author, you can still find readers based on the time period and genre. And almost a quarter of the readers bought at random.

But from this base you could connect more easily with your target readers and build your author brand, if you had a marketing plan aimed at these objectives. You can find such an easy to use promotion plan in my book Small Steps to Bigger Book Sales, and if you fill in the sign up form on the right, you will receive a free bonus copy of my marketing plan template (plus lots of other items for serious writers).

Here are some other survey findings that you should consider:

The data suggest a number of conclusions:
  • Historical fiction readers love to share their book reading experiences with others. Many create blogs as a venue for sharing.
  • Readers are proactive in their pursuit of good books.
  • Reading is a social event; readers like to talk to other readers about books.
  • Readers prefer to rely on trusted communities for recommendations.
  • Though readers buy online in large numbers, they prefer other sources for recommendations.
  • Big book review sites are not intimate enough for readers.
  • Readers do not identify with publishing houses.
What lessons can you learn from these findings? How can you capitalize on this valuable market information? Do you think – as I do – that these findings are useful to writers in genres other than historical fiction?

And how exactly – without a professional, easy to use, and really well designed marketing plan – do you expect to meet the needs of your target readers: the ones I have bolded in red above?

You really should spend $4 for the eBook version of Small Steps to Bigger Book Sales, and consider buying the printed copy for less than $15. Are you not worth this much, as a writer? It would be an investment in yourself.


 AND NOW A SPECIAL FACEBOOK GROUP JUST FOR YOU!

Once you’ve bought Small Steps to Bigger Book Sales why not join my Facebook group Small Steps Plan Group to have a conversation with other authors who have also joined that group and are starting their journey to better marketing of themselves and their books using their own Small Steps Plans? You will find the new group here.

I look forward to many conversations with you!


Authors: What do these Survey results mean for you?

A Writer of History blog post has links to the latest survey of readers of historical fiction, as well as a summary of results of the latest 2013 survey, at this site.
Here are some of the 2013 results as summarized by the blog – ask yourself what impact the results might have on your writing and publishing efforts (audience, likes and dislikes, price expectations etc):
A few highlights from prior surveys:
  1. HISTORICAL FICTION IS MAINSTREAM: Less than 2% of participants said they rarely or never read historical fiction.
  2. GENDER MAKES A DIFFERENCE: Women and men differ significantly in their reading habits and preferences and their views of historical fiction.
  3. AGE MAKES A DIFFERENCE: Those under 30 have different preferences for genre and time period and have different patterns of consumption and acquisition.
  4. SOCIAL MEDIA IS HAVING AN IMPACT ON READING: Social media and online sites play an increasingly significant role for those choosing, purchasing, and talking about fiction.
  5. BOOK BLOGS ARE VERY POPULAR: 1,473 participants listed one, two or three favourite blogs.
  6. GEOGRAPHY: Responses to questions such as the use of online tools for recommendations and purchasing and preferred setting for historical fiction varied by geography.
  7. PRICING: Sadly, readers are pushing for low prices. For example, 60% want e-books at $5.99 or less and 66% want paperbacks at $10.99 or less.
  8. ONLINE BOOK CLUBS ARE GAINING POPULARITY: 21% belong to online clubs while 15% belong to clubs meeting in a physical location
  9. VOLUME OF BOOKS READ MAKES A DIFFERENCE: for example, high volume readers have different expectations for book reviews, a higher interest in tracking their books, and higher usage of online tools and social media to augment their reading experience.
A Writer of History has many posts on survey results and insights and you can find summary reports and other popular articles here.
FOR MORE ON READING & WRITING HISTORICAL FICTION follow A WRITER OF HISTORY
Have fun!



Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Your 50-Step Checklist for Publishing your Kindle eBook

Your 50-Step Checklist for Publishing your Kindle eBook

You’ve finished typing your manuscript and now you face publishing it as an eBook on Kindle. How do you go about it?

If you’ve published your book as a print on demand through Amazon’s CreateSpace, they offer to use your document and cover to publish it on Kindle for you. Take them up on this offer, but check the file they send to you very carefully. I found a few mistakes in my copy and junked it before starting on my own to publish the eBook version of Small Steps to Bigger Book Sales.

The Kindle instructions for publishing your eBook with them are very clear, and easy to follow.

My 50-steps checklist will help you work your way through Kindle’s instructions. Glance at the 5-steps before you start, because it will give you an overall idea of what lies ahead.
Here are the steps:
  1. Create account - First, create your account with Amazon / Kindle. Go to the Kindle site in paragraph 3 to get there.
  2. Click here for the general Kindle site. You can also sign in by clicking at the top where it says new customer.
  3. Or you can click here for the Kindle sign in site.
  4. Click here for the Kindle publishing terms. Read these. You need to know them before you publish on Kindle eBooks.
  5. Prepare your novel for publishing by doing the things set out below. It things go wrong, just take a deep breath and start again. The first steps are to load your book in Microsoft Word and start formatting it so that you can publish it.
  6. Spacing and font size for your novel – I suggest you use single spacing Times Roman type size 11 or 12. Kindle readers can choose their own font and size, so don’t worry about your choice.
  7. Indents - Do not indent paragraphs. Kindle automatically indents all paragraphs.
  8. Paragraph spacing - Do not press enter to have a space separating paragraphs. Kindle automatically puts a space between paragraphs. Creating an extra paragraph yourself results in big spaces on various devices.
  9. Saving your novel - Save your file in .doc not .docx. You might have to use Word 1997-2003 to save it as doc, as Word 2007 and higher use docx.
  10. Other style items – You can use indents, bold characters, italics and headings. However, bullet points, special fonts, headers and footers must not be used.
  11. Page Breaks: Enter a page break at the end of every chapter to prevent the text from running together. To insert a page break in MS Word, click "Insert" at the top menu bar and select "Page Break."
  12. Image Placement and color: Images should be inserted in JPEG (or .jpeg) format with center alignment (don't copy and paste from another source). Select "Insert" > "Picture" > then locate the file on your computer and select the file. Use color pics if you have them.
  13. Images size - Images should not exceed 127 KB. The Roxio Photosuite 5 program or the Photoshop program allows you to resize images to as to reduce them below 127KB. If you don’t have them, google free image size reduction program and test them to see if they work for you.
  14. Cover page - Prepare a cover page and save it as a jpeg file. Size to use is 926 by 1200 pixels. The cover page is uploaded separately into Kindle for publishing (see below). Make a note of where you saved your cover image because you will need it later on.
  15. Justification - Kindle readers can justify the text of your eBook as they wish, so use left justification.
  16. Headers and Footers - Do not use Headers or Footers as Kindle does not use them.
  17. Page Breaks for chapters - All new chapters should start with an "Insert" and "Page Break" in Word.
  18. Book structure - The structure of your eBook is usually this: Cover image, Cover page, Copyright page, Dedication page, Preface (if any), Prologue (if any), Table of Contents, then chapters, with the Author Details and author photo (if any) on the last page.
  19. Table of contents – Tougher to do, so avoid them unless you really need one. Most fiction novels do not need one. Use one that simply sets out the contents without linkages to each chapter. If you do want a TOC with hyperlinks to each chapter, then google for advice on how to handle such a TOC in Word.
  20. Saving for publication – When you are ready to upload your eBook, save your Word file using Web Page, Filtered (*HTM & *HTML) format. You can find this format by saving using the Save As command from the top left corner of the Word program, and then clicking on the type on the bottom of the page – you are given a menu which includes this Web Page, Filtered (*HTM & *HTML) format. Answer Yes to any questions asked and then save it. Make a note of where you have saved your file.
  21. The next step is to convert that file of your book into something that the Kindle program can work with; see the next paragraph for how to do this by downloading the very handy free MobiPocket Creator program.  This program will help make your epublishing on Kindle hassle free!
  22. MobiPocket Creator – This is the best program to use to Build your book so that you can upload it to Kindle.  The MobiPocket Creator is a free application that will convert your Web Page, Filtered (*HTM & *HTML) file into an eBbook. It can be downloaded by googling mobipocket book creator.
  23. The following steps use MobiPocket Creator to build your book.
  24. Open Mobipocket Creator and click on Import from Existing File – click on HTML document (your eBook was converted into HTML when you saved it as set out above).
  25. Browse to the HTML file of your eBook (from the place you saved it and noted as per 20 above), and click it and then press "Import".
  26. This will open the book editing function. Click on "Cover Image."
  27. Click "Add a Cover Image" and browse your files to locate your eBook cover you prepared as a jpeg file.
  28. Select your book cover and click "Update" to save your cover.
  29. Then select "Build" from the Mobipocket Creator Menu.
  30. On the "Build" page, click "Build".
  31. Once Build is complete (it can take a few minutes), this message will appear: Build Finished.
  32. Next, click the circle next to "Open folder containing eBook" and select "OK." You can skip this step if you want to.
  33. The file will be in PRC (or .prc) format and open in your My Documents\My Publications folder. Your book will be located here for future reference. Make a note of this location for future use. Mine goes to C:\Users\Owner\My Documents\My Publications.  
  34. This PRC file is what you will upload into the Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP).  You do not upload doc files or any other kinds of files – the PRC file created by Mobipocket Creator is the best way to go in my opinion.
  35. Preview your eBook - But first you can check how your eBook looks in Kindle and iPhone etc by using a Kindle previewer provided for downloading to your computer.
  36. Google Kindle Previewer download and then select the Softpedia version.
  37. When you have loaded the Kindle Previewer, run it, click on "File" and then click on "Open Book".  Click on the right PRC file!!!!! Look at how your eBook appears in all the Devices (click on all of them and go page by page through your book). Make a note of what is not right about the layout etc.  You are now pretty close to being published!
  38. Revision - Revise your original DOC version to remove what is wrong as shown in the Kindle Previewer. Then go through all the above steps to reload the revised eBook by creating HTMP files and using MobiPocket Creator to create a PRC file and previewing it again in the Kindle Previewer. Do the revising of your .doc version until you are happy with how it displays in the Kindle Previewer.
  39. The next few steps show how to upload your eBook on Kindle eBooks. You should by now almost smell the scent of victory! These steps are pretty easy to take as the Kindle form has clear instructions.
  40. How to upload to Kindle - Log into your Kindle account and upload your eBook. You do this by opening your Amazon/DTP account, by logging into  it using your email and Amazon Password, then you click on "My Bookshelf". Then click the "Add New Item" button.
  41. Type in your eBook title.
  42. Type in the series title (if you have a series of books to publish).
  43. Add a description of your eBook (written like the blurbs on the backs of novels) – google for some hints on how to do this.
  44. Enter a category your eBook will be listed under (makes it easier for people to find it because readers search by categories).
  45. Enter your prepared Keywords.  Google Kindle keywords for an explanation and some hints. Keywords help readers find books on Amazon / Kindle of the kind they are looking for.
  46. Click the "Save Entries" button to make sure Kindle retains your information.
  47. Then click on "Upload & Preview Book".
  48. Select "Browse" to open [only the PRC file NOT the HTM or HTML file] a dialog box to locate the file you want to upload – this is the PRC file on your computer that the MobiPocket Creator made for you. ONLY USE THE PRC FILE – DO NOT USE ANY DOC FILE OR ANY IMAGES WILL NOT BE UPLOADED ETC.
  49. The Kindle site then converts your book – this can take a while.
  50. Click on the "Preview" button to see how your eBook looks.  It should look fine when you go through it page by page. If it doesn't, fix what doesn't look OK in your DOC file and go through all the above steps again until you are happy. Chances are pretty good that your eBook will look fine in Kindle's preview!
  51. Click on "Enter Price" and enter your price.
  52. Click on "Save Entries" and then on the "Publish" button.
  53. Congratulations! You should now be a  published eBook author on the Kindle eBook site.
SOME GOOD SITES ABOUT PUBLISHING ON KINDLE:

Read a few of these sites for other hints on publishing your eBook:

How to make books available for the Kindle platform:

Simplified Formatting Guide:  Google kindle simplified formatting guide for their simplified guide.

YOUR NEXT STEP:

You are now a published eBook writer. Your next step is to make sure you find readers who want to buy your eBook.

How to go about this?

Click here for my blog post on my simple guide to using social media to promote your books – Small Steps to Bigger Book Sales.

If you enter your name and email address into the sign in form in the right column of my author blog, you will subscribe to my emails and newsletter (no obligation and no cost to you); you can unsubscribe at any time. You will then receive a series of emails with free bonuses for you, dealing with self publishing. One such bonus is an Excel template of a complete book marketing plan, based on the 20 tasks in my book. You can use this as your own plan, simply by filling in the blanks.

My author blog is at: https://glennashton.blogspot.com and my Small Steps Kindle eBook (only $4) and POD version ($15) can be bought at my Amazon author page at https://www.amazon.com/author/glennashton

And may the writing gods grant you massive sales of your books!


Saturday, March 28, 2015

Authors: A simple and effective marketing plan for your books

Welcome to my latest book, written for authors who wish to better market their books, and for all those who use social media in some form or another.

Based on proven marketing methods, Small Steps to Bigger Book Sales is for every author with books to sell, or anyone who wishes to improve dramatically their participation in social networks.

Your 20 Tasks:
 You will be guided to do 20 Tasks, over 9 months, as part of your very own Small Steps Plan to market your books. 
You will start with the first 10 tasks over 3 months and the next 10 over the next 6 months. Then you will review and revise your next Small Steps Plan to cover the next 12 months.
 Your Book Promotion Plan:
 Your easily-prepared book promotion plan will set out methodical, small steps every week to market your books where they stand the best chance of being bought by readers. 
 What you will learn:
 You will learn how to:
  1. create your Team of advisors to help you every step of the way;
  2. define your Target Readers, so that you can persuade them to buy your books;
  3. find and use many of top social network forums, where readers and writers mix, so that you can build your Clan, or team of supporters;
  4. get reviews of your books;
  5. use other social networks tools easily and effectively; and do all this at your own speed and in the free time you have.
 Easy to use:

It is very easy for you to start and to carry out your promotion plan, with most of the heavy lifting done for you.

How to start: 

Your whole marketing plan is already prepared for you. Chapter 25 has a detailed template for your own Small Steps Plan, of 200 small steps in 20 tasks. All you have to do is add the target starting dates for your many small steps on your road to success. You can easily make any tweaks to it that you and your Team want to.

How to make it work: 

The easy way for you and your Team to carry out your plan is also provided. Chapter 26 has a very detailed 120-item Weekly Engagement Checklist. Each week you simply do those things that need to be done that week, confident that the Checklist will keep you on course.




Some more of my random posts for you:

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