Amazon Pays $450,000 A Year To This Self-Published Writer

Mark-Dawson-resize-2From FORBES.COM | April 17, 2015 | By Jay McGregor

The London Book Fair lands on an unusually sunny three days in the capital. The scorching rays – rarely seen at all, let alone in April in the UK – seem at odds with a closed-off indoor book fair. But that hasn’t stopped scores of page-turner enthusiasts scouring the giant exhibition centre’s main floor, looking for publishers to schmooze, books to buy and advice to receive.

It’s the advice from authors who’ve ‘made it’ that seems to resonate most with attendees. Seminars and workshops are scattered in between the stands – all packed with a baying audience that fire off seemingly endless questions. They’re all trying to piece together an escape route out of the doldrums of full-time work.

One man, Mark Dawson, has a queue of wannabe writers lining up to speak to him as we sit down for an interview. Dawson is one of the self-publishing success stories that Amazon likes to wheel out when journalists like myself come knocking. But Dawson’s success isn’t down to simply publishing his crime-thriller series and hoping for the best.

Dawson has become an entrepreneur. With the self-publishing platform, he had no choice. The tactics he employed to promote his series aren’t game-changing, or even particularly clever, but the scale in which he implemented them is what made the difference.

To date he has sold over 300,000 copies of his series about an assassin called John Milton. Dawson says he pocketed “ six figures” last year and he’s on course to make much more this year. And he’s got plans for bigger and better things for this series outside of print form.

(Read the full article)

5 Ideas to generate book reviews

canstockphoto15925493Sometimes I feel more excited about the reviews on my books than the checks from Amazon. To an extent, I’m sure every author feels the same way. However, it can be tough getting readers to write one. Personally, it looks like my numbers for ‘Prey of Desire’ are one review in twenty sales.

So if you’re like me and looking for a way to increase reviews, here are a few tips I’ve found that work:

  1. Trade Reviews with fellow writers

You probably personally know quite a few writers from local critique groups, writing conferences, book fairs and social media. See who would be willing to trade reviews. It’s a time investment, but will be a good way to start building some numbers. However — and I can’t stress this enough – don’t trade 5 stars for 5 stars. You must still provide honest, thoughtful reviews.

  1. Join Review Groups in GoodReads

GoodReads has several review groups. You’ll find readers looking for a free copy in trade for an honest review. You’ll also find round robin groups that will provide four people to read and review your book while you read and review four other books. There’s also a great benefit in networking with other authors.

  1. Jump on the Blog Tour circuit

Blog tours are great way to get reviews, especially from bloggers that are specific to your genre. Through this tour, a set number of book review bloggers will read and post reviews on their website (and generally Amazon & Good Reads). There are blog tour services that will organize everything for you, but they generally cost between $100 to $500, depending on the company. However, you can contact book review blogs on your own and submit your book to them at no cost.

  1. Participate in Facebook Groups

Run a search on Facebook for “book groups” and you’ll find an entire author/reader network out there. Like GoodReads, there are groups that exchange reads & reviews. There are also book clubs and book marketing clubs. You’ll even come across the occasional post from someone saying, “Hey… I just finished the book I was reading. Anyone got any suggestions?”

  1. Ask for help from email and/or blog followers

If you’re serious about your writing career, you should have a website and blog that’s collecting followers and email addresses. Send the word out that you’re trying to get to X number of reviews and need their help. Offer to provide your book for free for an honest review. You’ll get some takers.

Cool Website: – Amazon’s version of Good Reads

ShelfariSo, I’m having a slow day at work and started looking for cool websites for readers. That’s when I stumbled upon Shelfari.

Shelfari promotes its “virtual bookshelf” as one of its main features. The virtual bookshelf displays covers of books which the user has entered, with popups to show the user’s book information (review, rating, and tags). Sorting by author, title, date, rating, or review is available to the viewer of the shelf. Users may organize books into different shelves, including already read, currently reading, planning to read, wish list, currently owned, and favorites.

The Shelfari catalog can be edited by users, though some changes must be approved by Shelfari “librarians.”  Shelfari users build virtual bookshelves of the titles they own or have read, and can rate, review, tag, and discuss their books. Users can also create groups that other members may join, create discussions, and talk about books, or other topics. Recommendations can be sent to friends on the site for what books to read.Using wiki functionality users are encouraged to contribute reviews, descriptions, lists of characters and settings, author biographies, categories, and descriptive tags.

Most books in the Shelfari catalog come from the large Amazon catalog, including Amazon Marketplace listings added by independent resellers. These books link back to Amazon and display current pricing and links to AbeBooks for used book sales.


Did you know you can add an Amazon Store to Facebook?


Did you know that you can add an Amazon bookstore to your Facebook Author Page? It’s actually fairly simple, and I just set-up a store on my Author Page.

Here’s how.

  1. Slide3Sign-up for an Amazon Associate account. It’s free and available at the following address:
    1. On the tabs at the top of the screen, select “aStore.”
    2. Select “Add a Category Page”
    3. You can change the category name, if you’d like. I set mine to “My Books on Amazon.”
    4. Next, you’ll want to “Add Products.” You can select books by the ISBN or ASIN.
    5. You can choose several templates by returning to “Create aStore Pages” and click “continue” to “Color & Design.”
    6. There are also several “Sidebar Widgets” with even more options for customization.
    7. Finally,  select “Finish & Get Link.” Choose the “Embed my store using an inline frame” option from the dropdown menu.
  2. Set-up a “Static HTML: iFrame Tabs” on your Facebook Author Page.  It’s free and available at the following address:
    1. From the App Center page, click on the “Visit Website” button.
    2. Select the “Add Static HTML to a Page” button
    3. Select your Author Page from the drop down
  3. From your Author Page, find the new app (it should have a big star on it) and insert the code from Amazon.

It didn’t take me long to set-up, and wasn’t as intimidating as it sounds. If you’ve got a question or need some help, feel free to message me.


Introducing my new Facebook Page

facebook_logoI’ve set up a new Facebook Page. It’s located at Seems the Facebook Page was formerly called a fan page. Now people “like” a Page rather than “fan” it. Apparently, once the page receives 30 likes then I get access to insights about the page’s activity.

I have a personal Facebook page, but after reading several marketing books, it seems that it’s best to set up a Page in addition to a Profile. As authors, we can promote our books, include hyperlinks to an Amazon page in About and create a header with advertisement links. Facebook frowns upon you doing any of that in your personal profile.

If you get an opportunity, please jump over to Facebook and “like” the new page.

Facebook Page

Attention Book Lovers: 10 great sites to find your next great read

Girl ReadingLooking for your next book to read? Amazon and Barnes & Noble can recommend titles based on your purchase history. You probably already knew that, though.

But did you know there are a lot of offbeat, interesting sites out there specifically targeted to us readers? Below is a list of sites I like, in no particular order.

1. What Should I Read Next? answers the obvious question. Type the last book you read and enjoyed and it returns a suggestion list with tags that allow for even deeper searches.

2. The Book Lamp: Home of the Book Genome Project
Similar to how Pandora matches music lovers to new music, helps you find books through a computer-based analysis of “written DNA.” Their mission statement: “To be the best in the world at applying science to the written word.”

3. Good Reads is a free website that connects readers and book lovers. This online community allows users to create as well as peruse other member’s bookshelves, reviews, and book ratings. You can create book clubs and groups, and my personal favorite — lists! Want to see what Good Reads Members consider the best Florida Mysteries or the Scariest Books by Stephen King?

4. WattPad is a free website that connects writers and readers. Members post short stories, novels, poems and even fan fic. There’s complete works and works-in-progress, by both undiscovered and published writers. Users are able to comment and like stories or join groups.

5. Opening the Book (aka Which Book) is a really cool site. By clicking sliders to set the degree of your preference for Happy/Sad, Funny/Serious, Expected/Unpredictable, No sex/Lot’s of sex, Short/Long and much more, this website enables those combination of factors to suggest books which most closely match your interests.

6. Book Gorilla sends you a daily email with the best deals on books that match your reading genres and preferences, including bestsellers, 99 cents and freebies!

7. Book Bub
With over a million subscribers, is an e-mail newsletter operated out of Cambridge that’s essentially a “daily deals” mailing list for avid readers. It offers free or discounted downloads of what co-founder Josh Schanker calls “acclaimed books” in digital form.

8. All Readers, while in desperate need of a modernizing face-lift, is definitely unique. Browsers can search books based on plot, setting, character, and writing style, in addition to traditional search parameters. So, if you liked a specific plot, you can find other authors who write similar kinds of stories. For example, if you just loved the mystery about the murder of a lawyer on cruise ship in the 1990’s where the investigator loves her Mom but hates cats, you can actually search for a crime story with that kind of plot and main character. Cool, huh?

9. The Book Reporter Network is a sleek website that posts thoughtful book reviews, compelling features, in-depth author profiles and interviews, excerpts of the hottest new releases, contests and more every week.

10. Book Browse is a glossy, online magazine for book lovers, that includes reviews, previews, “behind the book” back stories, author interviews, reading guides, and much more.

For more information, check out the following articles:

“17 Ways to Find a Good Book to Read” by Alex Morris,
“20 Unique Ways to Find Your Next Favorite Book” by Leigh Boyer,

‘Prey of Desire’ now available on Amazon

Prey of Desire coverThey said the disappearance of two high school students over 25 years ago was mystery that couldn’t be solved. 
No one ever said it shouldn’t be. 

Following the abrupt end of a relationship, college student Kimberly Bradford finds comfort in the friendship with her over-the-top neighbor, Mallory. And, Mallory encourages her to get back out there. She would of course if it weren’t for the thrilling little love notes and gifts she’s been receiving .

Kim thinks they’re from her ex-fiancee, not realizing he’s been murdered. Worse, whoever is sending her all the extra attention is not only in her inner-circle, but has a connection to that unsolved murder some 25 years ago. That connection puts her life in danger, and exposes secrets better left buried around her closest friends and family.

Available in paperback and Kindle on

Short Story Anthology benefits LitWorld literacy organization

913tWyXiosL._SL1500_I just purchased a copy of Library of Dreams on Amazon.

This inaugural short story collection from PSG Publishing contains the work of fourteen authors from six different countries, covering every corner of the literary dreamscape. One of those stories, “Mina’s Sactuary,” was written by a WattPad friend, Tim McFarlane.

“Mina’s Sanctuary” finds a teenage girl (who witnesses bullying at school, indifference at home and sanctuary in her paintings) embarking on an adventure in a magical realm of midevil castles, wicked witches and talking animal sidekicks. The narrative references Lewis Carroll’s “Through the Looking Glass” as inspiration, and evokes the imagery of a Disney cartoon. And like Disney, Mina (whose full name is Philomina, but she really hates being called that) must find confidence and courage to complete her journey.

Proceeds from sales of the Library of Dreams will be donated to LitWorld, a non-profit literacy organization. For more information, visit