Eradicate Negativity: Your Marketing Depends on It

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Negative vs. Positive

Reading should be a positive experience, right?

You want to create a positive shopping experience and a positive reading experience.

And writing is a positive experience, right?

(If not, why on earth are you doing it?)

So should publishing and marketing be positive.

But not everything and everyone you come across will seem positive.

And you will definitely encounter people and issues that will challenge you to stay positive.

  • Don’t let ’em bring you down.
  • Don’t let it make you negative.

You want to appear positive when you interact with potential readers. Even with fans.

The best way to appear positive is to be positive.

  • It’s easy to fall into a negative mindset.
  • It’s often not easy to stay positive.

But it’s so worth consciously working toward this. You can do it. 🙂

Author Branding

You’re striving to build a positive image as an author.

A critical review will challenge you to remain positive.

Cynics will challenge you.

Failed authors will challenge you.

Many people and occasions will challenge you to stay positive.

Don’t appear negative on your blog, in person, on social media, or anywhere.

  • What will readers think if they read about you complaining about a review on your blog?
  • What will readers think if they see you behaving negatively on a discussion forum?

You’re in the public eye now. Your image is at stake.

  • What will readers think if they meet you and you appear very positive about your book?
  • What will people think if you always come across as positive, even when you’re dealing with adversity?

Win your battles to stay positive. Build a positive reputation.

Each challenge is an opportunity to shine.

It’s not just your book and image that matter.

  • If authors complain about Kindles and readers hear this, why would they want to buy one?
  • If authors complain about Amazon and readers hear this, does it make them want to shop for books?

Positive Marketing

Staying positive has its rewards:

  • Visualize a positive outcome. It helps motivate you to work toward your goals.
  • When your positive mindset is challenged, think of it as an important battle toward long-term success. Win this battle by staying positive and making positive decisions. Don’t let this battle turn you negative and impede your chances for a bright future.
  • You’re more likely to show confidence when you stay positive.
  • You’re more likely to put your best effort into something when you feel positive about the outcome.
  • When readers see your positivity, it impacts their buying decisions.

But challenged your positive mindset will be.

And in some cases, it won’t be easy. You’re likely to feel, “Come on! Not again! That’s more than enough,” but you just have to be that much more determined.

Think to yourself, “Bring it on. Is that the best you’ve got?” When you get through this battle, things will start going your way.

Negativity definitely has its disadvantages.

Interact with positive people. Add positive authors to your circles. Avoid negativity.

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2014 Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.


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WHY I support and encourage Authors

Some great ideas here. 🙂

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

I’ve made no secret of the fact that I believe Sir Terry Pratchett may have had an excellent point when he surmised that OUR species of Hominid survived, while all the others didn’t, because we were Story Telling Apes, or at least better at telling, and learning through, stories!

I’m not the only one who thinks so, “Our brains are structured to make sense of the world in the form of narratives – stories. Not only that, we are primed to believe the stories we hear.” see the re-blogged post last Thursday HERE!

I concede that there are probably other factors involved as well, but storytelling was (and hopefully still IS) a significant part of our species survival strategy.

If we cease to tell and learn from stories, then we too may become extinct because without them we will have created our very own ELE (Extinction Level Event).

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Most Valuable Marketing Tools for Self-Published Authors


1 Word of Mouth

What it can do for you:

  • It can generate sales even when you’ve had a couple of recent unfavorable reviews. What a reader’s buddy tells them about your book carries more weight than what some random stranger writes on your Amazon product page.
  • It doesn’t rely on Amazon to sell your book through search results or customers-also-bought lists. Those can change over time. Word-of-mouth sales can yield traffic during times when Amazon’s marketing isn’t helping your book.
  • It helps your book get discovered. Instead of having to hunt your book down amongst thousands of others in that genre, your book is reaching readers’ ears directly.
  • It lends credibility to your book. Somebody that readers trust is recommending your book.
  • It gets readers interested in your book and puts them in a positive frame of mind at the outset. Readers discovering your book on Amazon often approach it with concern.
  • It can lead to a very long-term chain reaction. A few readers hear good things about your book. It may take weeks for them to buy and read your book. If each of them recommends it to their buddies, the number of readers and recommenders has grown. Many months later, what starts out small can lead to something much bigger.
  • It can build your reputation as an author. This helps not only to sell one book, but to generate interest in your full line of books.

Word-of-mouth sales can be the most valuable, but also the hardest to get.

How to earn them:

  • Your book has to have a wow-factor. When strangers pick up your book and feel impressed with the read, you really have something. Your book’s strengths need to compel readers to want more of that. Give readers more than they expect; much more.
  • Fiction books need to evoke strong emotions in readers; they need to also deliver on readers’ expectations for the genre. Nonfiction books need to fulfill the range and depth of information that readers want; they also need to be well-organized, communicate ideas clearly, and present the information at the right level.
  • You need to shore up your book’s weaknesses. Even if the storyline or characters are incredible, readers find it hard to recommend books with editing, formatting, or other issues. Their reputation is on the line, too, in the recommendation. Your book needs to earn it. You’re charging money for your book; it needs to appear professional.
  • If your book has that wow-factor, get it into the hands of readers. Run promotions, find bloggers who review books in your genre, and find and interact with your target audience. Find experts to read your book and politely request an editorial review or a quote that you can use in your book’s blurb—that’s a professional recommendation that carries weight with some customers.

When the author goes the extra mile to impress readers and produces a book worthy of word-of-mouth praise, this can have a huge impact on the long-term success of the book.

2 The Horse’s Mouth

What’s the next best thing to hearing positive things about a book from a trusted source?

Interacting directly with the author, of course.

Even in today’s world where millions of authors are getting books out there, it’s still a treat to meet and interact with the author.

Why does it matter? This personal interaction can do things that your product page can’t:

  • Show your passion and enthusiasm for your book.
  • Make the reader feel special. Don’t just draw interest in your book. Get interested in your readers, too.
  • There is greater potential to establish credibility as an author.
  • Answer any questions that the reader has.

Of the most common ways for books to sell, personal interactions with the target audience is the one big factor that is most accessible to self-published authors. (The other big factors include shopping the bestseller list, shopping by the name of an established author, browsing through the gigantic haystack of books on Amazon, professional book reviews, and bookstore recommendations.) When you aren’t dealt a good hand, you better play the one good card you do have. If you do play your cards right, you can eventually benefit from the other popular ways that books sell, too.

Think long and hard about where to find your target audience. Go out and interact with them. Charm your potential readers.

While you can reach greater numbers online, interactions in person are more likely to result in sales and reviews.

3 Flash It

Your book needs attention.

Shoppers will be browsing through hundreds of thumbnails in search results. Others will see your cover when they come across your marketing efforts.

Your cover needs to stand out.

It also needs to look the part. If it looks like a mystery, but it’s really a fantasy, your sales will be a bad romance.

A fantastic cover won’t provide long-term success for a lousy book.

But a fantastic cover can have a significant impact on the sales of a quality book.

For a highly marketable book (i.e. there is demand for the book and the content delivers on expectations), investing a modest amount toward a fantastic cover can pay nice dividends in the long run. And what you might lack in terms of financial investment, you can make up for in time. After all, time is money. Take the time to learn the how-to, get feedback, and get it right.

There are no guarantees in the publishing business, but most successful self-published authors credit their covers for being valuable players on their books’ sales teams.

4 Talk to Me, Baby

An effective cover grabs the attention of the target audience and brings shoppers to the product page.

Now it’s time for the only salesperson you have at the point-of-sale to close the deal.

“Who’s that,” you ask? It’s your blurb.

The description of your book isn’t a summary. It’s a sales tool.

The blurb needs to attract attention right off the bat. It needs to engage interest in the first line and hold that interest until the customer clicks to Look Inside.

Many effective blurbs are very concise, especially in fiction. Too much text there can be intimidating. If you’re exploring hundreds of books, you don’t want to read a long description for a book you might not even buy. In nonfiction, you can make important points easy to read by using bullet points (such formatting is possible through Author Central).

If the reader gets bored, it’s no sale. If the blurb doesn’t reinforce the genre depicted by the cover and title, it’s no deal.

Once the blurb generates a click to Look Inside, the Look Inside needs to wow the customer into making the purchase. Like the blurb, the Look Inside needs to engage interest immediately and keep it throughout. It must also look professional and read well.

Finally, the book must deliver on the promise made by the cover, blurb, and Look Inside. Otherwise, you get returns and frustrated readers.

5 Hunt ’em Down

Your book is out there, but who knows it?

You want to find your target audience. The word for this is marketing.

A great cover and blurb help, but first people must find your book. Recommendations are great, but first people must read your book. First, you need to get your book discovered.

Paid advertisements probably won’t be cost-effective for marketing a single book. Unless you have an amazing promotion going on and you supplement the paid advertising with much free marketing. In that case, a BookBub (click the link to learn more) or other type of promotion may come in handy.

There are many free marketing strategies, which are often more effective for books than paid marketing. Blogging, Twitter, Facebook, and other social media sites help you build a following and interact with your target audience. The key words here are target audience, which means posting content that will be relevant for them, using appropriate hash tags, and finding relevant Facebook groups.

Social media is a slow process. Now you go from just getting your book discovered to getting your social media pages discovered. You can do this through months of effective posts, interacting with people in your target audience, and directing readers to your social media pages in an About the Author section in your book. Then you’re kind of going in circles. But your social media helps two ways: You want people to discover you and your book, and you also want to attract fans so you can tell them about your next book when it comes out.

Don’t forget old-fashioned media: newspapers, magazines, television, and radio. Local papers often have column inches to fill and local radio stations may have minutes of air time to fill. Think about what can make you interesting to their audience. You’re selling yourself to sell your book. Learn how to prepare a press release package.

Remember, personal interactions are valuable to self-published (and all) authors. See if you can put together a successful reading or signing. Visit local libraries to see if you can get a paperback copy in circulation there or volunteer to read (appropriate material) to kids or senior citizens (visit a senior citizen center, too). Try to get stocked in local bookstores, and antique and other kinds of stores that sell books, but don’t specialize in books.

You need to work hard to find your target audience. But you can also help your target audience find you. Over time, turn your blog into a content-rich website with nonfiction material (even if you write fiction) that will attract your target audience through search engines. Your goal is to get 100+ visitors daily to your site through relevant search engine queries after a year of posts. That’s a lot of people discovering you and your book. It starts out very slow, but if you do it right, it can be very effective toward long-term success.

6 Can’t Get Enough

It’s easier to market several similar books than it is to market a single book.

It’s also easier to buy a book from someone who looks like a committed writer. When readers try out new authors, they’re looking for someone with the potential to provide a lifetime of good reading. If you just have a couple of books out, there isn’t much potential reward even if the book turns out to be good (i.e. comparing a reader who likes your book to a reader who likes a book by an author who has a dozen books out, this second reader will be enjoying many more books).

You also look like a professional writer when you have several books out.

And then each book that you sell helps to sell your other similar books. A hot promotion on one book helps to sell all your other books. More books, more readers, more recommendations, multi-book sales… If you’re looking to grow your sales, you need to publish a full line of books.

Don’t try to build Rome in a day. Take your time and get your books right. Just look ahead to the future. Your long-term goal is to have several good books that all help one another. It won’t help at all to have several books out unless readers enjoy them.

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2014 Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.


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6 Star Rating at Goodreads… Umm…

Rating GR

The picture says it all:

  • Look under the author name.
  • Next to 1 rating, in parentheses, it shows 6.00 avg.

However, the rating isn’t above 5 stars on the book’s page at Goodreads.

This anomaly only appears on my Goodreads author dashboard.

Just thought I’d share this quirk.

Certainly not complaining about it. 😉

Mirror Interviews: Authors Wanted

If only opportunity would knock…

readful things blog

So, I’ve been thinking about doing a Wednesday feature here on Readful again as I haven’t done one in a while. Usually the Wednesday feature is a guest blog, and I’d like to keep that tradition running…sort of.

See, there’s two things. First thing: I was talking to an author the other day who pointed out that all author interviews seem to ask the same questions over and over. Not a lot of people pay attention to them, and it gets rather monotonous answering the same boring things all the time.

second thing: I’m lazy.

So, here is my solution:

I am looking for a handful of authors who want to do a blog interview. The catch is, I’m looking for a handful of authors who want to interview–themselves. Yep. I won’t send you any boring, already answered questions. I won’t ask you boxers or briefs or who would play…

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5 Things You Should Never Do On Your Author Blog…

A great list with tips.

Viv Drewa - The Owl Lady

Author Blog HeaderWhether you’re published yet or not, a vibrant author blog should sit at the heart of your promotional efforts – the “homebase” for your author brand.

Used properly, your blog will help you to impress agents and attract a publisher.  And if you’re already published, it can be used to attract new readers, create a successful launch of your next book, generate buzz and bring your work positive reviews.

But it’s crucial that you use your blog the right way to achieve all of this.  There are certain blogging mistakes I’m going to tell you about that can seriously hurt your book sales and your reputation as an author.

To help you avoid these pitfalls, here are five things you should never do on your author blog and what you should be doing instead:

1. Projecting That You’re A Beginner Or That You’re Unsuccessful

blog fireworksWhile being a retiring…

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So Your Friend Is an Author…


Amazing, Isn’t It?

Yes. It is.

How many authors do you actually know?

Now your friend is one.

The key word there is friend.

This was your friend before. Becoming an author doesn’t change that.

Sure, you can tease your friend about this, if your relationship ordinarily involves teasing.

But your friendship is based on more than just teasing:

  • You support one another. Even if one of you writes a book.
  • You’re honest with one another. Even if you think the book isn’t quite, well, you know.
  • You know each other well. How to get on one another’s nerves. How to put things gently. So you can figure out the right way to share honest feedback.
  • You motivate one another. So in addition to honest feedback, you’ll provide encouragement, motivation, and direction.

Your friend wrote a book. That’s a huge accomplishment. Treat it as such.

There are some things you should know about writers:

  • Writing is a lonely process. Literally: Alone with the computer, writing. Marketing can be lonely, too. This same author, all alone, is reading reviews, which sometimes tear down the author’s hard work. Friends can remind that author that he or she isn’t alone. They can help the author handle criticism, and prevent the author from doing anything rash.
  • Once in a while, the author needs to be dragged outdoors into the real world, kicking and screaming. But if you try this when the author’s muse has just shown up after a long absence, it could prove to be a fatal mistake. You have to judge how vigorous the kicking and screaming is.
  • Writers can be a little eccentric at times. Your friend has some personality. You’ll be occasionally entertained. What’s not to like about this?

There are many ways that you can support an author (and still be honest and scrupulous):

  • Read the book, especially if it’s a kind of book that you’d normally be interested in. But if it’s not your kind of book, you can still support the author without reading it.
  • Help spread the word, especially if you’ve read the book and enjoyed it. But even a “Hey, my friend, Joe, just wrote a mystery” mention is valuable advertising for your friend. Most authors feel uncomfortable with the necessity of promoting their own books (even if they do this, they often feel uncomfortable doing so). Readers, also, sometimes put more stock in what someone else says about the book than the author’s own self-promotion. Gee, if only that author had some wonderful friends who could help spread the news… Hint, hint.
  • Do you know someone who read the author’s book? Ask that person to write an honest review. Authors need reviews, but asking for reviews of your own book… can look unprofessional (and again, authors can feel uncomfortable doing that). But an author’s friend, taking the initiative to do this (i.e. the author didn’t ask you to ask for reviews)… you could be that secret helping hand. You’d be like a superhero with a secret identity.
  • Follow the author’s blog, tweets, and Facebook posts. Encourage the author to keep separate Facebook pages for personal and authorship (e.g. there are author and book pages at Facebook). You should follow both. Expect to get tired of hearing about your author’s book. Don’t feel obligated to read and comment on every one of the author’s book-related posts. Your name is there. You participate occasionally. This means a lot.
  • If you have your own blog or website… just imagine if you mention the author’s book. Don’t even tell the author. Let him or her happen to come across it someday. “Wow! When did you do that? That’s so cool!”
  • Check out your friend’s product page at Amazon. Vote on reviews. Offer some feedback to the author on the cover, description, and Look Inside.
  • Visit local libraries and bookstores. Ask them why they don’t have this most amazing book right there on the shelf.
  • Attend a signing or reading. Encourage your author friend to do these. If you don’t feel like attending yourself, you can still help spread the word and encourage other people to attend.

Your friend spent months finding a little extra time each week, typing tens of thousands of words, massaging those words into a book. That’s no small achievement.

Your friend has considered agents, publishing houses, and self-publishing. There is no easy answer, no clear road to success. It’s a challenge.

Your friend is navigating the deep waters of marketing. It’s a strange world, but necessary to share the book with others. It’s daunting.

A little support from a friend would go a long way.

Mix that with some patience and understanding.

Remind the author that there is a real world here, which the author is part of… which the author needs to physically seem be a part of from time to time.

Remind the author that friendship works both ways. You have needs, too. It’s not just all about the author.

Throw in a little teasing, perhaps.

If your friendship survives authorship, it’s mean to last forever.

Copyright © 2014 Chris McMullen

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.


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Why Does Your KDP Report Show all Zeroes?

Sales Zero

Showing All Zeroes

It’s now possible to see all zeroes across your month-to-date Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) sales report.

In the past, if you didn’t have any sales, returns, or borrows for a title, that title simply wouldn’t show up on your month-to-date report.

Things have changed with the introduction of the new KDP sales dashboard.

You may observe a discrepancy between your KDP sales dashboard and the KDP month-to-date report.


Evidently, when a customer buys the book, the sale shows in your sales dashboard, but the sale doesn’t show up in your month-to-date report until the payment is processed. There can be a significant delay.

As a result, something strange can now happen.

If a title that hasn’t yet sold in the current month suddenly sells, the order shows up on your sales dashboard and a string of zeroes shows up on your month-to-date report for that book at KDP.

You’ll see a zero for sales, returns, borrows, and freebies when this happens.

Eventually, once the payment is processed, one of the zeroes will change to indicate the sale.

It would have been interesting to notice this for the first time today, on Friday the 13th (with a full moon, even). 🙂

Copyright 2014 © Chris McMullen

Superstition Squared: Friday the 13th, Full Moon

Moon 13

Run for Your Lives!

Oh, no!

It’s Friday the 13th.

And in some places on earth, it was a full moon this morning.

You know what that means, don’t you?


…it means one of three things:

  1. If you walk under a ladder and there is a werewolf on the ladder, you’re in for the biggest chase of your life.
  2. If a black cat crosses your path and you turn into a werewolf, that might be the unluckiest dinner you ever eat.
  3. If you look at a mirror and it breaks, it means the werewolf you turned into is having a Medusa-level hair-day.

Why is it so rare?

  • There can be as many as 3 Friday the 13th’s in a calendar year.
  • There can be as many as 13 full moons in a calendar year. (Don’t let that number go to your head.)

Doesn’t it seem like it should be more common? The next one is set for 2049 (well, some times zones get “lucky” and will see it in 2017 or 2019).

Read all about it

  • Slate explains that it’s no more rare than, say, having a new moon on Monday the 22nd. (If you really want to get rare, try a blue moon on Easter Sunday!) This article also explains the time zone issue, and how some time zones will see this again much sooner.

  • If you want to participate in some of the Facebook frenzy on this subject, here is a good place to start:

  • Want to learn two new really long words for a couple of cool phobias (fear of Friday the 13th and fear of the moon)? Check out this article:

Copyright © 2014 Chris McMullen