Making Money Online Self Publishing

I Got My Writing Mojo Back

I’m an adult, I’m not scared of the dark, I don’t believe in ghosts or monsters. But I was scared – really, really scared – of this:

Scary, scary file - lurking on my computer

Not the program, Scrivener, – its cool, it was the outline – the outline for my next book. That File.

It was just so scary – I had to hide from it for a month. Eventually I decided it was too hard, I went around it – wrote a bunch of content for Lis’s Travel Tips – content which is quite similar to what will be in the book – but they were just long blog posts – I can write those!

As Tracey pointed out in the comments of my last post – you actually don’t need spectacular sales to make money selling indie non-fiction. Although she missed the future value of money ($3k today is worth more than $3k paid out over 10 years) – her point is valid:

Basically what I’m saying is that it’s about volume (amount of books you have) and repeat customers.

I knew that, I knew I had to write more books, for goodness sake I’d written one,  why was the next one so bloody hard?  I dunno maybe its just me – having done something out of confort zone one, doesn’t make it that much easier to repeat the exercise. Weird

However as a student of time management and procastination I knew that I couldn’t manage the problem if I didn’t measure it. The problem was two -fold:

  • I was writing enough;
  • I wasn’t writing my books

I decided to start counting words – yeah like rocket science, right?

I decided to start with the easier problem – the first one. I started writing – last week I wrote a total of over 8000 words  (I don’t count comments, forums, social media, only words written as articles either on my sites or to promote my sites). It was a little scary – I was guest posting – something I’ve never actually done. But amazingly I persuaded some bloggers to publish my stories: Wellington Sculpture and Paris in the Snow . But it wasn’t as scary as That File.

OK so my output was up, and it was good for marketing – but I really needed more  product to sell. I needed to deal with That File.

Now Dave in his clever little Pond decided to start with some motivational board. Post your goal – make it public, and either win or fail – if you fail – well it was bad – the Duck Booed

  1. Monday: Stated aim: 5000 words, achieved 5153, 13 articles for an auto-responder series. Yeah thanks to info in the Duck Pond – I’m finally going to send emails to my lists (want more Lis’s travel tips  – sign up for the Newsletter here.
  2. Tuesday – I didn’t state a publishing aim – instead I spent the day sorted out how to actually use AWeber (yeah really I’ve never used it to actually send mail LOL) and editing some of the words I’d written so I appear literate.
  3. Wednesday – OK lets try writing today. 5000 words. Not sure what I want to write about: of course I have books to write,  a ton of keyword focussed articles to write, hell I could even write some backlink articles. Did none of it – massive Duck Boo !
  4. Thursday – I opened up That File. It didn’t bite – it was more like -” hey hello Author – nice to see you, been a while”.  The structure wasn’t bad. I found the notes that I’d written on the plane – fitted them into the plan. I decided I needed a chapter on a place I hadn’t been to – I did some research. By 10:30pm I had about 1100 words. But I’d promised myself 5000 words. By 1am I had those words.

Would I have stayed up if I hadn’t promised publicly that I’d write them – nope. Where they great words, nope, the grammar is awful and the typing was falling off markedly towards the end. Doesn’t matter – they can get edited, they are not final words, but they are a start, and having some words rather than a blank screen, is about 80% of the way to the goal.

So today is Friday – and I have another 5000 words to write on my book! Later!

Self Publishing

Update on Indie Non Fiction Sales: Month 3

Ouch, bugger, yuck, is there any surprise why people give up on this game. You want instant satisfaction – buy chocolate is my only advice. Indie non fiction books is not  going to give it to you! Indie non fiction books aren’t going to make you rich overnight!

Some times it doesn't just rain, it hails

My September Stats are rubbish:

  • 5 books sold
  • 4 books sold

Frankly I’m surprised that the UK sales are doing so (comparatively) well – for a book that is such an American search term- just goes to show that the English can read American but not the other way around.

I didn’t sell anything directly from – but thanks to their distribution system which sends my books to retailers I can’t get to  apparently back in August I also managed:

  • Apple 1 book sold
  • Barnes&Noble 2 books sold

So yes I guess it is worth getting your book formatted right and into their premium catalogue!

What I do have is a promotion plan going forward, I’ve developed it while avoiding writing the other books – because my brain does stupid stuff sometimes.

I’m building an email list. Its something I’ve resisted for years. As part of my “I hate marketing” mindset I of course particularly hate marketing email lists – after all I’m bloody expert on them – I am forever subscribing to them 🙂

But I have a new approach – and its not spammy, and its something I’d even admit to in public. It provides value to the subscriber AND its not even additional work for me!

But I’m not telling you the details. Why not? Its not original – the idea was provided in Zen Duck’s Forum – for free – you might want to check it out – and no that’s not an affiliate link. Really I’ve been in a lot of SEO forums over the years, kinda been there, done that. But Dave bullied me, and then he gave me a free membership, and I’ve got my money’s worth. I just think you would too.

Hell I might even get so enthused to start of a mail list here too …. just kidding, maybe…

Making Money Online

Making Money Online – Your Mind is Your Biggest Enemy

I cocked up a client’s site today -well not their site -the new website is just fine and they are happy, but I stuffed up their email. I hadn’t realized that I needed to add a MX entry to redirect the mail sub-domain to ensure that mail still went through their current provider. It took me a few hours to figure this out between several calls to find out who the email provider was and then get the right tech details from them, and a live chat session with Hostgator to make sure I didn’t fuck it up further.

I was working under pressure, people’s email was heading out into the interstitial void instead of their inboxes. I didn’t know WHAT an MX record was at the start, I just knew I must have caused the problem. I chased the people I needed to find the right technical info, I learned a lot about how email works on the Internet, I implemented the solution.

I focused and worked and sorted it out.

I looked up after 3 hours, decided the dog needed a walk and I needed a coffee.

Then I wondered – why? Why can I focus that well on a technical problem, and yet I struggle so much with focusing to write the bloody books I need to write, develop the sites I need to develop. Get to the income goals I need to reach?

As I walked I thought about why I was good at technical support.

Its just a little bit broken, Christchurch earthquake damage

I learned how to do technical IT support before I even knew what the job involved. I arrived in London in 1986, with no money, the right to work, and desire to work in London and not the North Sea (thereby precluding working in my actual profession – geology).

So I became a typist, a legal typist to be exact, it paid better. I could touch type, I re-did my resume and I started working for a small agency based in the City specializing in secretaries for legal firms.

This was before Windows was invented (yup Word was not the first word processor. Google: DisplayWrite, WordStar, Word Perfect). I ended up being their troubleshooter – there were bazillions of WP packages and quite a number of operating systems (CP/M anyone?). No standard operating system, no plug and play printers. The “network” was large floppy disks, usually poorly labeled. There was no email, or google to find the answer. They’d usually lost the manuals. If the secretary was away and the partner needed a contract printed out for a client – they needed me. It was fun, I had no fear, and nothing to lose, I was well paid and I learned a ton in a short space of time. I don’t remember ever failing either.

A few years later, back in New Zealand, I set up a unix network from scratch. By myself, with a mixture of toll-calls to the supplier in another town, and the manuals. It was mission critical, and it worked well. I had no unix qualifications, no experience, in fact I didn’t know what a systems administration WAS, but someone had to do it – that turned out to be me. I worked stupid hours for months, I was well paid, I learned a ton. I don’t ever remember thinking I would fail, or what if we didn’t get it working right, or what would happen if something went wrong.

These days you’re not allowed administration access to similar servers unless you have a several qualifications, and lots of years experience. From what I’ve seen in more recent work places, they fuck it up more often than I did. But at least there’s always a paper trail and someone to blame. Must truly dreadful doing IT support these days for most corporates.

Which gets me back to – WTF does Lis’s ancient history have anything to do with making money online? It explains something – well to me anyways. It explains why, when faced with a white screen where a website should be, I fix it. When the emails get lost, I find them. I don’t panic, I don’t worry about whether or not it can be fixed, I just find out what I have to do, and I fix it.

So I have this other problem. My income has declined significantly this year. There are three main reasons:

  • hubpages stuffed up
  • the US$ collapsed (I’m paid in US$ but I don’t spend US$ at the supermarket)
  • I fired my long-term client who had got way too picky about their backlinks

The first two were out of my control, the third was simple ROI investment decision.

The net result was that last month, for the first time in a VERY long time, I spent more money than I earned.

So what did I do – did I deal with it by say, figuring out what the problem was, finding out the solution, and then working hard? You know just like when I had to do technical stuff which scares the crap out of lots of people?

Nope – I panicked. I couldn’t focus, I flitted from Facebook to Twitter to G+. I wasted over a month.

And the really, really stupid thing is – I don’t actually have to problem solve. I know how to fix my income problem, I need to build more websites, build more backlinks, write more books, sell more books, and ensure people go Christmas shopping while using my Amazon Christmas link!.

I just have to do the fucking work. How dumb – one wasted month. Time to start writing.

I’m no good at this pop-psyc stuff – but if you aren’t succeeding have you looked at the guy in the mirror lately – he may be the problem…

Self Publishing

2011 Kindle – Kindle Reader, Kindle Touch – Free Kindle eBooks are Going to Be Hot in 2012

OMG – Amazon has done it again – they have, in one stroke pretty much destroyed the paper back publishing industry, at least in my part of the world where a paperback can easily cost over US$25!  Yes there is a new Kindle out in time for Christmas 2011 (shipping late November I believe) – and its called … well there are four of them: Kindle, Kindle Touch, Kindle Touch 3G and Kindle Fire.

Kindle 2011 - Kindle Touch - Kindle Keyboard - Kindle - just cool
My Kindle 3 WIFI now known as a Kindle Keyboard - on Vacation

So why am I buzzing around telling you to go and check out the new Kindles now?  Well obviously I want my Amazon sales to boom at the end of the year.  Because, frankly, at $79 – why aren’t you giving everyone a Kindle?  I am certainly thinking that my partner needs to stop borrowing mine! And no,I wouldn’t pay for a teenager to have an expensive, fragile tablet – but I would consider the tablet version called Kindle Fire  at under $199.

No its not the cute new Kindles that have me excited – its the fact that when the Kindle 3 came out (the current one, why don’t they like version numbers?) last year,  the sales for Indie e-book authors went through the roof.  You see what do you do when someone gives you a new Kindle – yes – you spend the holidays buying books, cheap books,  that Indie’s put out for 99c – not the outrageously priced ones from the traditional publishers.

So if you want to check out the new Kindle models (you can still buy the “old” one too – which is the only one that now comes with a keyboard, here you go:

So now I REALLY have to get my act together and get the next five books I have in my head out into the pixels… This is going to be huge – and not just in the US. From what I can see I can get Amazon to deliver the new Kindle for less than I can buy them downtown.  They are also releasing some models through the  UK store for UK Kindle Store shoppers.

Why You Need To Buy a Kindle in 2011

And for those of you who haven’t got  e-books and Kindles yet.

Why the Kindle is cool:

  • you can read it in bright sunlight – try that with your iPad or netbook;
  • you can read it in bed without causing yourself or your partner concussion or hand cramps – try that with the latest 400 page trade paper back;
  • you can read it without glasses because you can dial the font up to super-size – try that with a cheap book with crap typography;
  • people who have serious sight loss can read it (or listen to it-  they will talk to you as well) – without paying a fortune for the very limited selection of large print books published;
  • you can listen to it read your book while you are stuck in traffic – did I mention the battery life is still about 1 month?
  • you can get the book immediately – you click its on your Kindle – I’ve read more books in the few months that I’ve had the Kindle  than I’d read in the previous year;
  • once you have bought someone a Kindle – you never need to think of a present again -just buy them an Amazon gift card.

Why eBooks are cool:

  • they are removing the gatekeepers – you don’t need an agent and a publishing contract to publish your book – you need a free Amazon publisher account and a free Smashwords account – just like iTunes did for music;
  • the price of books are coming down, seriously down – while the percentage that (self-published) authors are going up – a lot.
  • e-books mean you can take 3500 books with you on vacation and still pack light;
  • you can read trashy novels, erotica or Shakespeare on the c0mmute – and no one knows;
  • you can subscribe to a newspaper or magazine and be able to read it standing up, on-handed on the Tube (seriously that’s why the Brit’s buy them);
  • you don’t even need a Kindle to read them – or any form of e-Reader – Amazon has free Kindle software for Macs, PCs, iPads, iPhones, Android and few others I never heard of.

Bullying Online is NOT OK – Even for “Adults”

If you’re bored with the making an income online – you are bored with life in my opinion. Normally I stay out of the day to day online dramas – but hell – what the heck – so here’s my thought of the day.

Don’t Let the Bullies Win

Today a blogger (and I’ll get to that term later) – wrote to me and said he’d removed a post, that I’d commented on. The post was written celebrating that he had resigned from a job that was “sucking the life out of him” – it rang a very loud bell with me – so I commented. Then he deleted the post – because the company that he hadn’t named was threatening to withhold his final pay (and his name isn’t on the site either). Now he probably shouldn’t have posted until he had the final check cashed, but either way the company was bullshiting – and he fell for it – it happens a lot online.  Bullies win, because people think they need permission.  I hope he puts the post back up once he has his final pay banked.

I don’t like bullies, I’ve mentioned that before. Its one of my trigger points, bullying.  My bet is that anonymous blogger’s boss was a bully in primary school too.

But online bullying is hard to do. Because bullies work by playing on people’s fear. The victim wants everything to go away – unless they stop and think, and realise that the free speech is a what most of us think is the basis of a decent society.

And writing your opinion of what you think about a product or service, on your own blog, is the right of anyone really.

Here are some of my opinions:

  • MacDonald’s makes bad food;
  • there’s no point swimming in water colder than 24C;
  • rugby sucks and Rugby World Cup is a complete waste of my (taxpayer) money;
  • Ken Evoy Googlebomb are three words that go together.
You may chose to disagree – but I warn you now – any pro-rugby comments will be deleted forthwith!
Tropical Beaches - the only one's worth swimming on!

Own Your Own Website

There’s an awful lot of people out there who are looking for a work from home opportunity – it seems quite a lot of them can write passably well. So they believe that they can make money writing for revenue share sites such as Suite101, eHow, Squidoo, HubPages. Scam  or for real?

I used to promote HubPages on this site – as a way to make money -because I earned my first online money with them.  Now I don’t. Because they have made changes to their site and their terms and conditions, which I don’t like. And there is not a darn thing I can do about it.

And don’t just own your website (hosting and domain name) – make sure you own the technology behind it. For example if you use a proprietary site builder like – hmmm, let me think,  Site Build It!, and for any reason you decide to leave the program – you will have to move onto another technology (I’d recommend WordPress). This is of course entirely possible – if you are pretty technically able, which you probably aren’t as a newcomer. You will have to pay someone to do it right, and if they aren’t very careful you will lose quite a lot of your rankings. If your site is large, you might even find that paying $300/year for your site’s hosting with Ken Evoy, will be cheaper than moving to to your own hosting.

Commentators – Read This First

Let’s get this very clear. I am bored to tears with SBI!, sitebuildit, Site Build It and related keywords. I’m not writing this,2 1/2 years AFTER my first post on the topic, to re-kindle the fires.

Dr Ken Evoy did that. Read the first link to Ken Evoy Googlebomb. Let’s be clear – I really don’t care if Evoy has declared war on Google, let’s face it, Google probably doesn’t care either.

What I care about is that Ken still doesn’t get it. He doesn’t understand that the reason that my original post has dropped into obscurity, its nothing to do with the original post – its because of the appalling behavour of his hit squad that descended on my site. This is, and has never been, about the post – its about the comments.

I thought maybe he’d figured it out – after all he’s a smart guy. But apparently not.

He is rallying the troops again. The same goon squad is currently forming in the private SBI! Forums and he’s telling them to start attacking my social media profiles and to write pro Site Build It Reviews and link to them. The reviews I don’t care about.

Though there has always been plenty of positive SBI reviews out there – that was what started this whole saga – there were ONLY positive reviews.

Because of Ken’s – shut down the opposition policy.

Still I don’t give a shite – but it bothers me that third parties are scared for me – scared enough to contact me and warn me, genuinely.

Its still bullying guys – and it still doesn’t work.

Sending me pornographic suggestions doesn’t work – frankly I enjoy sex – and some of your suggestions are interesting …

Abusing how I look – why would I care? I have spent nothing on my appearance ever – I think I’ve had good value for money.

Praying that I or my family die of cancer – yeah sweet – confirms everything I’ve ever thought about the religious fringe – glad they are not on my side – don’t want to spend eternity with you either.

So fill free to comment, but I may delete you comment without warning – or I may copy it and send it to anyone I feel like. Might even tweet it …

Oh and yeah – maybe before you do anything your favourite guru tells you to do you might want to watch this:

Debate is fine – bullying is not – its not hard to tell the difference – discuss.

Self Publishing

Second Month’s Sales: Indie Travel Book

Now those of you who live in the other hemisphere might not realise that the Australians and New Zealanders get a bit competitive with each other – like its OK so long as the Kiwis win – of course – so the Ozzie chick’s update on her book sales has me kinda bummed – she won 🙁 – but not by much and there will be a comeback!

Also I was really, really busy last month:

Busy doing research, Krabi, Thailand

So what happened while I ignore my sites and my outsourcer added some low value BMR links links to them?  (I did do some random blog commenting as well, but not much).

Books sold:

  • Smashwords 1 (5 in July);
  • Amazon US 16 copies (9 in July)
  • Amazon UK 3 copies  (0 in July)

Nothing exciting about my affiliate sales through the site – but as the sales are spread out through the month I have hope that some of these are “real sales” ie to strangers!  Especially as the Smashwords sales collapsed (real people buy through Amazon not some website they never heard of). Mind you I might have sold zillions through Barnes and Noble and iBooks as I was approved for Smashwords “premium” distribution so my books are apparently available through places that I’m not even allowed to buy as a Kiwi LOL!

So apart from coming second to an Ozzie I am pretty happy with sales.

Now if I could just get my arse sat down to write the next four books! I think I had post-holiday (vacation) blues! I’ve been back a week and written less on my forthcoming Thailand travel books than I did when I was on the beach in flipping Thailand!  Well I have it all planned -the outline is even written down – now I just have to fill the gaps in!

While I haven’t been doing (enough) actual writing – I have been thinking about this new thing called marketing – but luckily I don’t have to think about it anymore because James over at TheAverageGenius – just released a free report on how to do all this marketing stuff . Yes there is something you have to do to get it – which is part of the plan – and yes this is like real information from someone who has actually done it – not just some stuff he read somewhere, re-written.  Oh and its quite long – and its not in 33 pitch font so there is some reading to do. Oh yeah, and James, sorry about declining your  request for guest posting here – but I really don’t do guest posts – my readers would flee in droves if I published anything more regularly than twice a month!


beginners Blogging Lis Recommmends Making Money Online Paid Tools The Keyword Academy

Keyword Academy 2.0 Review – TKA 2.0 Review: Scam or Legit

UPDATED January 2012. The Keyword Academy drives me insane sometimes! If we could just get Mark to dot some “i’s” and “t’s” it would be so much easier! 

Its been a long time since I did my first Keyword Academy review – nearly 3 years  in fact. So is the Keyword Academy still working in 2012?  Yes it is but some of wish Mark would hurry up and update his bloody sale’s page from time-to-time – like once every couple of years OK! 

Google is always changing the game, and in 2011, in response to changes in Google (known as “”Panda-monium” by those of low humour standards) – so-called TKA2.0 was released.  The core lessons were updated, changed from video format (really hard to update) to written form, some tools had to be retired because they just didn’t work with anymore with the changes to Google’s programming feed.

But now the buzz is that The Keyword Academy 2.0 is out and I’ve had emails asking – is this program still good to go – is it worth it could you please update your Keyword Academy review? What’s changed – will it still work for me? Does Keyword Academy work in a post-Panda SEO world and as always – is it a scam or legit ?

Quick Summary of Keyword Academy 2.0  for the Attention Challenged Reader

  • Yes TKA 2.0 still works
  • The Keyword Academy is not a Scam
  • No I don’t know whether you can earn $2000/month in the next year from online marketing (but I know that I do ).
  • You will need to put serious work in to make money – but your work ethic is far more important than spending a whole lot of money up front.
  • Yes I really do use the program to make me money – and not just from the commission I get if you sign up NOW .
  • Yes I will get a commission if you do – but there is no real hurry so keep on reading, hang around, think about it – and remember if you cancel in the first 30 days you will pay nothing.

The Longer Version for the Procrastinators and For the Long-Tail Searches (thanks Google)

Lissie hard at it doing more research for you!

First is TKA2.0 a marketing ploy? Any of you who have been around the Internet Marketing/ Make Money Online world for more than a year or two will have seen how programs are always being updated and changed, usually accompanied by a price hike. The reason is usually pure marketing – make it new – make people buy now – before time runs out, hike the price while you’re at it.

That’s never been TKA’s style – lets face it they are yet to get around to creating some decent images for us poor old affiliates to use!

So why a new TKA now?

Does the change in TKA mean that the old approach of niche sites doesn’t work anymore? Did Panda (Google’s 2011 update in March and April) – ravage niche sites developed using the TKA method? Well my sites have been just fine – some have gone up, some down, but no I didn’t wake up one day and discover they are all gone. 

Its true though that some people on the forums did see some of their sites dropping. From what I’ve seen I’ve seen no real pattern – though newer sites, as always, are more vulnerable to bounces up and down the search results. From my moderately successful point of view – nothing much has changed – Google still counts backlinks, Google still can’t read or appreciate the finer points of English usage – but Google can find a keyword and related terms – just as well as ever.

What is changing is that competition is getting heavier and nastier. Google can’t tell very easily whether a site is purely a made for Adsense (or affiliate) income – but your competitors can – and its very easy for them to report you. That’s when you need to have a legit site – a site with real readers and which offers more to the web than the chance to click an ad.

So What is The New Keyword Academy Method
Basically its not a change of direction – more a change of emphasis. The emphasis is on fewer larger sites – emphasizing more personal experience and insight.

Ahh the cynics amongst you might say, well I did, like SBI or blogging – make a name for yourself, write your passion, the visitors will come and then you parlay that into a career as a speaker, writer, or (my own personal definition of Hell) a public speaker. Build your list, sell to your list retire to a pleasant beach bungalow on a Thai beach (for which you get a heavily discounted rate in return for a glowing review on your site).

Nope the heart of the Keyword Academy method is still keywords. That’s the key difference between The Keyword Academy and the  “the blog it and they will come approach”. Rather TKA combines finding something you are interested in – then finding some related keywords – writing about them and promoting them. This is not about acquiring 100,000 twitter followers or 1779  Facebook likes.

What Does TKA Offer in 2012 And Beyond

  1. A clear and precise set of instructions on how to start your online business – instructions on how to choose a topic for your sites, how to setup your sites, how to write, monetize and build traffic. 
  2. Postrunner – I’ve described a detailed case study about how I use Postrunner for real in my business. Postrunner is the easiest way on the planet to get guest posts and backlinks for your sites. In fact Postrunner even makes me some of my income as I (and you if you join) can have sites within the system. 
  3. Forum. The one thing I find that is huge with working on-line  is the loneliness and isolation.  Not one of my real life friends and family understand what I do online to make a living – they just kinda hope its legal!  Having a forum for bouncing ideas around in, is sanity saving! Its so much better than talking to yourself about it – trust me on this one! 
  4. Webinars. Mark does a weekly webinar – I dont’ always make it live – but still, after 2.5 years I make a point of listening to each and everyone (they are recorded). Mark really is an awesome trainer/coach – he should get out and do this in person – but maybe not as he’s in the US and I’m not I probably wouldn’t get to hear him in person! 

Which brings me to my final point – and I think the most important development for the Keyword Academy for 2011 and beyond. Mark Butler has done the hardest thing of all – and realised that he can’t do it all by himself. I don’t know why, but most entrepeneurs I have met are control freaks, they can’t delegate to save themselves, or their businesses. Its a character flaw which basically means their businesses grow to a certain level and no further. Mark has managed to get past this though and has partnered with a couple of new teachers to greatly expand the core lessons and basic support. He’s also opening up the Academy to other members who may have their own unique methods of making money online to add their 2c as well.

And that to me means that the Keyword Academy will continue to prosper in 2011 and beyond. So for those of you who skipped to the bottom of the page looking for the quick solution to making money online – sorry don’t have one.

If you want to learn how to build a genuine business online though – feel free to check out the Keyword Academy through my HONKING BIG AFFILIATE  link – free for the first 30 days and then billed at $33/month – you cancel via Paypal at any time.

Self Publishing

First Month’s Sales: Non-Fiction Indie Book

Inspired by Tracey’s first month’s sales report – I thought that I should peak a look at my own sales figures for my shiny new eBook. Yes I have been quite good and haven’t logged on more than one a week – after all it took me 9 months to make my first $100 on Adsense – so I wasn’t holding my breath on Amazon – particularly because I have issues around being a non-American and having to deal with the US tax system for the first time (maybe – I will check with my accountant re Tracey’s suggestion to get around this). BTW why the heck do they not treat authors the same as affiliates – bloody weird the US tax system.

Random moody shot of Auckland, NZ, nothing to do with the post

Anyway back to the point – I have sold a million copies and am retiring to Thailand on Thursday. Hmmm not quite. But I’m not unhappy. This is not a get rich quick scheme (yeah you might as well unsubscribe now – sorry). So the bottom line is that I have sold

  • 3 paid on Smashwords (plus a couple of freebies);
  • 7 on Amazon @ 70%
  • 2 on Amazon @ 35%

That comes up to a grand total of $16.59 from Amazon and $6.63 from Smashwords.

The bonus was the additional $28 of Amazon affiliate earnings I earned from the book site – which was not for the book (well 20c was) but for other travel gear…

So its a nice start – but really unless I get myself ranked I expect this month to be worse as I know some of my friends were helping me out with sales – thanks guys.

The stats that I really need work on though – is ranking the book site in Google and associated sites which are also selling it.

And getting signups for my email list.  Help guys – I’ve never done list building seriously. I have the sign up form on my “brand site” – but should I also put it on my book site: as well? Do I want them to sign up for the list more than I want them to buy the book? (I suspect yes for the longer term – but short term its hard to distract people from buying the book LOL).

Also I am heading to Thailand this week – purely a research trip you understand … It won’t be fun at all checking out the beaches and pools of Phuket, but you know, someone has to do it!


Publish The Book Self Publishing

How To Write and Self Publish a Book – Formatting, Violence and Hard Liquor

OK I’ve done it I’ve published a book! I was beaten to the chase my good friends Tracey, Terry and Dave all got over the line first – but we all know that line is just the start of the race!

But bloody hell could someone at least mentioned that the formatting step was going to steal 2 days of my life, and awful lot of coffee, 1/2 a bottle of gin, and the odd flounce! I mean FUCK ME how hard is it to get the formatting right!!!!

I need a holiday!

(3 weeks and counting!)

But its OK – I am – almost – over it. Deep breath.

Its been a learning experience – and I need to write some of this stuff down so that I can get it right for the next book.

What You Need to Start 

  1. A nice cover design Sybille Yates did mine and I’m very happy with it. If you use photos you didn’t take make sure you have the right license for those to – hint you will have to pay!
  2. Unless you are very good – you will need an editor. My editor, Debi Willis, took some time out from California vacation planning from her Kauai beach condo, to do mine – awesome job.

Formatting and Publishing an eBook

Two places to start with Amazon and Smashwords – at least as a non-American. There are LOTS of formats for ebooks – there is a huge fight going on about formats – its all politics and patch protection.  You can totally ignore it quite happily. But basically it appears that most ebooks sell like this:

  • Amazon sells Kindles and they read a format called mobi which is what you buy from the Kindle eBook store. But you can also read Kindle formatted books ;
  • Barnes&Noble sell nooks, other major stores sell Kobes in Australia, NZ and I assume elsewhere – they use a format call ePub;
  • anyone with a PC or Mac can download free software (for Kindle/mobi)  or Adobe Digital Editions (for ePub) to read these formats.
  • people can read both of the above using apps on their iPad or iPhone – or they can buy books straight out of the Apple bookstore;
  • Blackberries have their own proprietary format called PalmDoc.
  • Most people already have the software to read a pdf.

How To Use a WordProcessor Initial Formatting Steps

Now I started typing on a typewriter – so I’ve only been using wordprocessors for over 30 years – I have used everything from Display Write, to WordPerfect – I was an expert on Word Processing before Microsoft even produced a WordProcessor.

I thought most people younger than me would know the follow two golden rules – apparently not:

  • do not EVER create indents by using tabs or spaces;
  • do not EVER create spaces between paragraphs by putting in extra carriage returns – use paragraph styles instead.

Phase 1 Getting a Clean Manuscript 

Time Taken: About 2 hours

Required: Coffee (about 2)

Also Required: a text editor and a word processor

  1. Get all your editing done and get an absolutely final version of the actual words – congrats you are about 10% there!
  2. If you’ve been using page numbers and a auto-generated table of contents for editing ease – delete both.
  3. If your copy has been through a few versions, or back and forth from different software – get a clean copy as recommended by the Smashwords Style Guide: copy and paste all the contents into a text editor; cut and paste it back as plain text into a new document. Yes really – it saves time – trust me it does – I’ve done it both ways!
  4. Decide whether you are using indents between paragraph OR a space between paragraphs – YOU CAN’T HAVE BOTH if you want Smashwords to distribute your book (and you do).
  5. Add in as few as possible paragraph styles – I used just one, add the spacing or indents that you want in this paragraph style. Add heading styles to anything you want in your table of contents.

Phase 2: Formatting and Submitting to Amazon

Time Taken: 2 -4 hours depending on whether you used bullets

Required: Coffee (about 4),  gin (but not too much): optional dog (to kick), sound proof room (for the screaming).

Also Required MobiPocket Creator (free), notepad++(free, or your favourite html editor)

Amazon has its own formatting tool – but its a command line piece of software which absolutely no one uses (well unless they are a publishing house with an IT department). You can however upload any of html, doc or prc files.  Trust me this is not too bad compared to Smashwords.

  1. Take your current doc or odt format book and SAVE IT – in several places – be very, very sure to do this!
  2. Export your book to html.
  3. Fire up MobiPocket Creator. Import your html document, add your cover (kindly supplied by the talented Sybille Yates), add you content, tell it to make a table of contents and tell it to use h1, h2 (to whatever level) for the TOC (you did use header styles didn’t) you?
  4. Hit compile (don’t do the submit thingy – that’s all out of date you just submit using the kdp dashboard).
  5. Celebrate – you now have a prc file, do happy dance, open up file in Kindle for PC – see it all looks great – drink gin.
  6. Get happy and download the prc file to your Kindle to show off your cool new eBook. Notice that the bullets are fucked, notice other weird format stuff (drink more gin, kick dog, scream etc).
  7. Remember that this is all in html – open up the file in some html editor like notepad++ Notice that withing <li> tags of bullets you have <p> marks – delete all of the same. Get rid of other miscellaneous formatting crap and realise that you shouldn’t have skipped Phase 1 #3
  8. Repeat steps 3-7 until happy, pissed off, successful, drunk, taken in by the SPCA.
  9. Submit to Amazon.
  10. Go to bed – trust me don’t skip this step…

Phase 3: Formatting and Submitting to Smashwords

Time Taken: 8 hours++

Required Option 1: Hard Liquor (bottle or 2), partner to abuse, padded room (for flouncing), rugged laptop (for throwing)

Required Option 2: $25-$50 to pay someone

Required Option 3: Son-of-Satan, piece-of-crap, over-priced, bloated, piece-of-shite (aka Microsoft Word)

Smashwords does have an adventurous scheme – they have a piece of software that converts your single file to multiple formats – now that is hard thing to do. But all that said I am still genuinely bemused that they chose to use Word as their input format.  I don’t own Word (see note above) – but I’ve used OpenOffice on doc files for years and its never failed me – until now.

After at least eight hours – were I totally followed the Smashwords Formatting Guide – my files passed the meatgrinder – I got no error messages from them.

But the results were crap. Specifically

  • the bullets were off i.e. the bullet was the line about the content;
  • the TOC was not clickable at all (pdf) or partially (ePub, Kindle);
  • my non-indented content got indented (Kindle)

After I finally I had given up before I did serious damage to my fairly fragile laptop – I finally had someone offer for free to run my file through Word – after that everything was good – except for the third point – at which point I decided I didn’t give a shite whether I had indents or not (it was consistent after all).  After all that I needed to curl up with some easy reading so I bought Danielle Blanchard Benson’s cool chick lit eBook (yup it was Danielle who helped when I flounced on Facebook!).

So I am the stupid one – did no one else have serious formatting issues? Or do you all own Word???

Market The Book Self Publishing

How To Promote a Non-Fiction Self-Published Book

Yeah I know adding “non fiction” to my title probably cut down my potential search traffic by 9o% but what the heck – I really do think fiction is a whole other beast. Also I am only talking about eBooks – not dead-tree books (dtBooks) – though so a lot of  what I have to say is probably relevant for them too.

OK so you did some keyword research before you decided on your book’s title (you did, didn’t you?) – so if for example you don’t have a book titled “Packing Secrets of the Not So Famous” – rather you have one called “Vacation Packing List: How to save your back, time and money”. You also have a series of books planned so that you can get the most bang for your buck in terms of cross-promotion.

County Down, near Downpatrick, Northern Ireland

The Key To Promotion – Promote to Customers NOT Writers!

When I started getting into this writing a book gig I went searching I found a bunch of forums and an even bigger bunch of blogs about publishing your book – usually written by writers who had – yup self-published their book!

This all felt very, very familiar – yup its like Internet Marketing – complete with a Warrior Forum analogue! Gorgeous self-promotional signatures, heaps of experts, everyone selling to each other  – yeah been there done that got the T-shirt!  Of course times have moved on and there is an active Facebook group to (this one isn’t too bad) – but again its pretty much about selling to your peers.

You don’t want to sell to your peers – you want to find where people who are interested in your niche hang out. 

So where do my customers hang out. Stepping back – who are my customers:

  • they are holiday-makers/vacationers/travelers/tourists;
  • they are probably first-timers or first time overseas visitors or first time solo travelers;
  • they may be just looking for something to read about their favourite topic without actually doing anything about it – yes I do own guidebooks to places I’ve never been to or got around to going to!
  • they aren’t terrified of technology (they are going to buy an ebook) – but they may not be that confident online (haven’t found that any question will find an answer if asked on the popular travel forums).

Great so this is who I’m doing to promote – pretty much its a blend of sound SEO with a bit branding thrown in without getting into the dark, dark time-sink of social networking.

Yes I do have my book in my sig link on some forums – on TRAVEL forums – not writing ones – get it?

Direct Promotion 

Now this stuff I can’t do until the book is live and this is the bit which is going to be fun.  Amazon listing are loved by Google – you’ll see Amazon listings at the top of Google all the time.  My little book’s Amazon listing is going to be linked to from every website and hubpage that I own that have anything to do with travel or vacation. I will of course use my affiliate ID so I get the extra 4-8% commission when someone buys.  I am picking that this will be enough to get my Amazon listing #1 for my main keyword – watch this space!

My book will also be published at Smashwords.  This gives me access to other distribution channels (Apple, Barnes&Noble, Whitcoulls) – which I can’t get to otherwise so why not? And again it should be a listing that I can rank – though its not nearly as keyword rich -as

So with some, hmmm, luck links,  I aiming at controlling the first three listing for my favourite keywords – before it even gets hard…

Note you will get three Amazon listings:, and Really though I see no reason why I can’t just send some links to the dot com version – if you land on the uk Amazon site when you are supposed to buy from the dot com Amazon will send you on to the right place.

Oh and I have done a profit-sharing deal to get a German language version of my book to, I know Germans travel a lot – and it must get tedious reading about it in a foreign language!

Building Your Online Home(s) 

  1. Author you, or your pseudonym, needs an identified home – for many this would be your own dot com – or As MY online home is already occupied and not really associated with travel – I needed a new one – which was branded for the new niche – hence (made with my favourite theme Catalyst).
  2. Next your book needs a home – you may have noticed that many movies now use a domain like e.g. – well books are starting to do the same thing – so we get Vacation Packing List – Book – this isn’t a blog in the sense that it will ever get updated – its a static mini-site, developed in WordPress – which is basically an exercise in getting the person who arrives there to buy the book and linking them back to the overall “author home” site – this is a set and forget it website (all done with pages for the technically minded, and I again I use Catalyst theme because I’m too lazy to use anything else now).
  3. On your author website add the compulsory social media buttons – now one of the reasons I decided against yet another persona for the books is that I already have a (genuine) FB profile and an (entirely automated) twitter one . People who buy eBooks don’t necessarily read blogs – so for once I find a genuine reason to use social media.
  4. Decide what the aim of all this is for. My aim is to a) build a list (I can’t believe I just wrote that down LOL) and b) sell my books to my list.
  5. Link to your author home from both your Smashwords profile  and your Amazon author’s page (which will take an RSS feed) using either your brand or your name.

Well that’s a start! One thing I’d say about the author home – you need to keep it focused on the niche – not on how to write about your niche and publish a book about it!

My Lis’s Travel Tips site won’t be getting updated at all regularly – I threw some content up – note how you can’t tell which dates the updates were posted? But really this is more like a once a month event not once a week! After all I want most of my content on SALE not being given away on my blog!

Research The Market Self Publishing

Finding the Right Subject For Indie Non-Fiction

Will anyone buy my eBook? Well people will buy stuff if it solves a problem for them – at the right price. I know this because I make a living from it from affiliate marketing and advertising. Would someone buy something I wrote? Well I don’t know for sure, but I know that when my hub ranked well it got about 50,000 unique page views last year.

Is There Demand?

What if, instead of finding a hub at the top of the serps, the searcher found a cheap little Amazon eBook.  Say a book for $2.99 – would they buy that?

If someone bought my book on Amazon for $2.99 – I’d get about $2 (if they were from the US, UK and some other places I can’t recall, otherwise about $1). But the topic is an American term, not a UK English usage. So lets assume $2.

So if all 50,000 visitors bought the book – that would be …

But they won’t maybe only 10% of them will buy – still $10,000/year – who around here has made that off a website yet?

Maybe only 5% of them will buy… bummer only $5,000 – its still not bad for a 20,000 word book which has taken me a couple of weeks to write because I am still trying to work out how to do this.

Basically even if only 1% of searchers buy my book its worthwhile. That’s an annual income, this is not a topic that grows old or out of date…

Who Reads eBooks 

Some stuff does brilliantly well on a Kindle.  A books on a Kindle is anonymous – no one can see what you are reading. What is the most profitable part of the book market that no one talks about in critical circles but makes huge amounts of money? Romance, Mills&Boom, Harlequin – no one admits to reading it or writing it, it sells like hot cakes.  Amazon has a HUGE erotica selection.

Old people buy Kindles – why – because they can’t see well – you can change the font size to any size you want – you can create your own large print book. You can even have the Kindle read to you.  Have you ever walked around a town or a museum with a really good guide or a really boring audio guide?  You probably paid more than $2.99 too…

Travelers buy eBooks – I can fit 3500 books on my Kindle (apparently) – you have no idea how much my back loves the thought of that – the only real question is whether my partner will need to buy his own or whether we can share …

Commuters buy eBooks – have you ever tried to read while standing up on a bus or train  for 40 minutes on the London tube? Even with a seat its difficult to read a broadsheet paper, its heavy to carry a book, a Kindle is neither.

People who can buy eBooks from the Amazon for a lot less than “real” books in their own country: that’s New Zealand and Australia to start with, and I thinking of any non-English speaking country with a sizeable expat English-reading population…

Will the Punters Pay?

Yes I think they will. I took a walk downtown today. I checked out the bookshops. They may be struggling – but they still have their big popular sections: displayed prominantly – near the front. Cookbooks, celebs, travel. Lots and lots of travel.

I checked Amazon – to find there were were two other  proper traditionally published books which had eBook versions priced at $9.99 – presumably these were published because people would pay three times as much as I would charge.

Its no guarantee of course – but its a start.

What’s the Upsell? 

But you know the drill in Internet Marketing  – you hook the suckers in with the cheap $7 product and then they spend another $77 for the one-time off of the video course plus 33 bonuses they never knew they needed.

Amazon doesn’t upsell. It cross-sells. I have sold stuff on Amazon that I didn’t even know WTF it was until I looked at the product listing! People click through on Amazon and go on a bloody buying spry.

I bought my Kindle about a month ago. in that time I have bought about 10 books, my partner another 5 – neither of us had ever bought a book to read online. I hadn’t bought a fiction book for years – I’ve bought at least three this month.  Everytime a read a book on the Kindle Amazon tells me right on the Kindle what other books previous purchasers of this title bought – and I can buy them too, with one click.

John Locke – who I mentioned before – didn’t sell a million books by having one title – he sold a million books over 9 fiction titles (I imagine his how-I-did-it book won’t do too bad either).

You Need More Books To Sell 

If you are familiar with the terms used in the Keyword Academy – you need to build authority you can’t be a one-book wonder.  You need to focus on a bunch of related keywords – or don’t mix your travel guides with erotic cowboy stories (use a different pen-name if that’s where you are at).

The trick is blindingly simple – at the end of your book you add an offer: you suggest to your reader that they might want to go on they might want to check out your website where they can sign up for the newsletter that will let them know the very moment you release another title. 

You write a good book, a book that solves a problem.  You get a decent cover for it so it looks appealing. You triple check it for typos. You hire an editor. You get some reviews – from people who have actually read it.

Now your book shows up if anyone searches in Amazon for your topic, and also shows that it has good customer reviews and it may even show in the best-sellers list of your category.

When you publish the next book – you revise the first book to include the cross-sell to the second book – maybe the first chapter or so .. and you let the list on your website know.

Now you have traffic from your website,  from your email list, from showing up inside Amazon’s search engine -oh yeah and Google may rank the book listing and your book’s website too.

Once you have some momentum happening though – it doesn’t really matter WTF Google thinks of it all though does it?

Once Amazon gets old, of course there is – they distribute to

Apple, Barnes & Noble, Sony, Kobo, Borders Australia and Angus & Robertson Australia (both powered by Kobo), Whitcoulls (New Zealand, powered by Kobo), the Diesel eBook Store and other distribution outlets coming soon… all Premium Catalog titles available as single-book apps for sale in the major mobile app marketplaces including Apple, Android, Windows Phone 7 and HP’s WebOS.

So who even cares which eBook reader is best (apparently lots of people use the Kindle free software to read Kindle books on iPads).

Wow writing this down – having been thinking it through (and writing) for the lost month still does my head in!

Oh the book – well its not out yet – but you check out my Lis’s Travel Tips website – and make sure you sign up for the email list – so you’ll be the first to know – but only if you are interested in travel!