Allan Mayer’s Weblog

Posts Tagged ‘books

Ever thought about promoting your book in a virtual world?

I didn’t know it was possible until last weekend when I came across Second Life (SL).

SL is easy to access and to load, although I’m sure that some of the more advanced options will take time to learn. All you have to do is register, choose an identity, and you can guide him or her (or ‘it’ in the case of some of the avatars I’ve seen on there) around a vast 3-dimensional world.

SL has locations to cater for every taste. Yes, there is an adult area, although I won’t be venturing there. I think you would have to be of a particular mindset to get sexual kicks in this way. Although not everyone agrees: when my character fell, Mr. Bean-like, out of the SL sky, one of the newbies was being asked by another for a ****.  I suggested that if she did she might pick up a virus…

But on to higher things. If you type ‘books’ into the search function you are presented with a whole menu of virtual places on the subject. I went immediately to ‘Book Publishing Island.’

There is a virtual town there, made up of nothing but bookshops. I was in Heaven.

Of course it wasn’t as simple as that. When I arrived I immediately got caught behind some billboards. I could see rows and rows of bookshops, but couldn’t get to them. I tried the ‘fly’ option, but couldn’t get out, so as it was Saturday night, a night when the brain is traditionally clouded, I gave up and logged off.

When I logged on again a couple of nights later my character was still stuck! Then I had the obvious idea of calling up the menu again and teleporting out and back again- which worked. My virtual imprisonment was over.

I would recommend a visit to SL- I’ve still got a load of places to check out, and I’m sure it has great potential as an online social tool. It is also free, but you can buy SL currency to spend on things like hiring or building ‘properties.’

But it did leave me with one question around my particular interest in the site: I was checking it out as a book marketing tool. Does anyone go on there to buy books?

I would be interested in hearing from anyone who has either bought or promoted on there. In the meantime, why not pay it a visit at:



I’ve noticed an increase over the last few days in the number of links clicked on the site, so here are some more sites about promoting your book. I haven’t had a chance to check  them all out, but have asterisked those that look most useful. If you find any of the sites useful, please let me know through comments.












12)   *****




16)  *****



19) *****

 20)  *****





25)  *****









34) *****










44)  *****








People have been asking if they should be concerned they have heard nothing yet from YWO. I’m tending to think that this can only mean that everything is in order, and that they will next be contacted once their books are published.

I, on the other hand, must by now be in a file at YWO marked ‘High Maintenance Contributors.’

Firstly, my document had changed in transferring from my computer to theirs, so that my prologue began on an even page. To remedy this I was asked to send it in again on PDF.

A couple of days ago I received an email saying that they hadn’t received my back cover blurb. I knew that I’d sent it, so the same gremlins that mixed my pages up had run off, cackling, with a whole file.

At the same time I read a very good review of ‘Tasting the Wind’ from a YWO member, who spotted a grammatical error. Now I’ve always thought that the grammer wot I ‘ave got to be quite good, and that of many of my proof readers even better. But there it was, and it had escaped us all. And not only was it very basic, it was right at the beginning. And not only was it at the very beginning, but it was in a rhyme which was repeated by a major character at various points throughout the entire length of the book.

I would be getting my new baby in December, and even if others commented favourably I would be aware of nothing but the blemish.

So I emailed YWO, explaining what had happened and attaching a corrected copy.

 I was very surprised the next day to receive an email saying that my new PDF had been passed on to Legend Press. This is very reassuring, in light of the fact that the contract said that there would be no correspondence.

I am now back to looking forward to the arrival- and I vow not to look at it again before it’s in print.

Then again I don’t need to, because now it’s absolutely perfect…


Earlier this year I phoned the fundraising department of a local children’s hospice, ‘Derian House,’ and told them that I was an author seeking a publisher, and once my book was published I would like to give them a proportion of my royalties. They were very interested, and asked me to call back when I was about to be published.

So today I phoned back.

Now I’m not doing this because I’m particularly nice… OK, I am nice, and would like to think that I had contributed something to the kids at Derian… but linking up with a charity can be mutually beneficial for both the charity and the author.

If you are being published by anything but a major press, then you need exposure from as many angles as you can find. Do you support a charity? Has something touched your life which would naturally lead you to one?

All you need to do is phone their fundraising department and offer a proportion of the earnngs from your book. Don’t think of this as being in any way cynical- the charity will gain funds, and you will increase circulation at the same time as having on side someone whose job it is to market and promote a cause. The charity may even have a shop where you could sell copies. Explain to the fundraiser that you are publishing through a small press, and that sales depend solely upon the marketing that you -hopefully with their help- can achieve.

As a result of my phone call there will be an  article about me and ‘Tasting the Wind’ in the next Dderianhouse_logoerian House  magazine. They will also be contacting a local newspaper.

So- more funds for the charity, free advertising, increased exposure and a slice of ‘feel good’ factor for you (not to mention that it makes you that little bit more interesting to the newspapers.)

It’s a win-win situation…

and you won’t come across many of those!

Thanks to Lucy Fox for this contribution. I’ve included it in the ‘Tips From Published Authors’ series as next month she will be one, thanks to YWO. 


Hi Allan, Just popped in to add a couple of things I found to help market our books.

Before I add them, with regards to the article asking why we don’t ‘cut out the middle man’ and go direct to Lightning Source, I have this to say. From what I can gather, only publishers, NOT authors are allowed to sign into their site, let alone try and get anything published off their own bat, and, as authors,not publishers, we most certainly aren’t allowed to buy an ISBN.

Legend will be doing a great deal more than ‘just getting an ISBN’ for us. There is masses of work to be done before Lighting gets hold of our precious babies. Especially with regard to word submissions, as Lightning do not accept books in this format. There are also many different covers to be generated for those who haven’t submitted their own.

Also getting back to cost. £39.99 is nothing when you consider that YWO/Legend will be supplying the obligatory library copies. Other companies charge £50 just for that service. If we were eligible publishers and bought our own single ISBN it would cost over £100!

Anyhoo, that’s my ha’pence worth. Here are a couple of things that may be of interest:
Quite a lot of info links from this page.

One way to promote your writing is through book signings. Here are some suggestions:

– Develop a strategy.

 – Collect reviews,blurbs and reader comments.   These may get the interest of some bookshop managers.

–  Gather names, addresses, and phone numbers From the Internet of stores you think would be interested in your book . 

 – Speak to the  bookstore managers by telephone. Tell them that you are local author, and that your book is in their system.
– Ask if you can arrange a book signing. Have your  ISBN ready, and your diary- the manager or their in-house worker will organise the event.

As my book is for children, I will be approaching schools. I have the invaluable help of a teacher who is going to give me instuctions on how to go about it. I’ll pass it on when I know.

Also, try this link- 
I’m still looking for ways to get noticed.  I have lived in quite a few places, so I will see if I can plug it there.  I’m even having my sis promote it in the States.  She works for one of the biggest law firms in Chicago and is going to put it on their network that goes around the world.  I’m going to send a copy to the truck stop Dysarts in Maine and the motel in Prince Edward Island where I wrote a load of it before I got on the plane home.  Also, I must fish out the example press release I found on Dan Poynter’s website.  Maybe you could go and look at his site yourself.

and this blog

Toodle Pip and keep up the good workxx

Good luck to all in your endeavours.









              Self Publishing

       How I achieved 400 sales

               with dyslexia

            at the age of 18.


Back in 2005 when I was just eighteen I had finished College and I said to myself “I’m going to self publish my book.” I’d already written and finished The Storms of Acias that year so I was well poised to get to grips with the publishing process. Through pure initiative I started to contact people who I knew had self published and done well at it, I did a few school trips (Not many) and that was about it, back then I was just a baby at the publishing lark, especially its many areas of knowledge and operation. I knew nothing of how it functioned, I just knew I had a novel and I was going to publish it. At that time, nothing at all could stop me, I was dogged I was extremely focussed and totally dedicated.


One of the first people I contacted or as I now like to say, through the words of a friend “Looked into” was G.P Taylor the author of Shadowmancer. I contacted Graham and told him that I’d published my book and I’d done a few things, but I wasn’t sure how to market and promote it effectively. I didn’t really understand ANY of it and it’s only in the past year that I’ve understood how to market and sell at all. Graham sent a few emails back and from then on he became a good friend and a great help to me in my quest to get published and be successful. He told me a few things, most of which were simple and none of which went into any great detail. He told me to keep writing, he told me to get on the radio, go into schools and get the papers interested at every single event I did and above all else he told me to keep at it.


I took these on board and managed over the course of a year to sell 200 copies of my book, the first edition of The Storms of Acias. At that time I still didn’t understand how to sell to a wider base, it had been friends, family and then extended friends as well as schools, etc. It was only in 2007 that I began a proper campaign. What I did was to have a vision, like any good entrepreneur, I wanted to do things in a big way and so I looked at the big picture. My goal was to get into all the schools in the country nationally, to talk to the children, to educate them and to sell books at the same time. I would put on book signings in all the libraries in the country and I’d make sure that I got the press involved in every single one of those events. (With this big picture, the sky IS the limit) Did I do this? In the end no, but if I hadn’t attempted to aspire to do it there is no way I’d have gone on to do what I actually did.

I set up a publishing company called Transient Innovations Ltd, I went through all the steps to self publish (Which would take me too long to list here) and then when I had the book I went round all the libraries in Cheshire, who still know my name by word of mouth fairly well and I went round some of the libraries in north Staffordshire. I went into schools in Manchester, Cheshire and Staffordshire and I went to reading and writing groups in those same areas. I got my book into Waterstones, I got it onto I got it in independent book stores and I got libraries to buy copies as well. I worked with managers of stores and with head librarians to make these events work. The combined effort of all this, as well as my website achieved the sales figures below. I tried to cover as many different places as I possibly could and I still know now that there are more I can cover with the sequel “The Path of Gracious.” In the past six months I’ve also worked with a PR consultant to achieve even wider press and if you can afford this, it certainly helps. I’d like to point out that all my costs were paid for by part time jobs, I worked very hard to get where I am today and I know it is just down to finding a way, being positive and not allowing yourself to say “I can’t.”


So how many sales did I achieve? Roughly 300 to 400 overall. The one other thing that GP Taylor has, is self belief, belief that what he was doing was I guess right and also that what he was doing could help children and could later on break the JK Rowling mould they were so used to. He also uses all the weapons in his own arsenal very well when it comes to self publicity, he knows his brand intimately and now I do not hesitate in mentioning my dyslexia, my age of 22 or the fact that I have a vision of my own.


So I say, know your brand, look at the big picture and look into those you respect. Then I know you will gladly break the 400 book sale very easily and achieve GP Taylors success.


Good Luck,


Dominic Took


(amazon link)


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Thanks to Jane for the following:

Allan, Wally asked who was going to print the books–that’s Lightning Source, based in Milton Keynes. Legend is just assigning ISBNs as far as I can see: they don’t print any of their own books.

And so far NO ONE who is publishing via YWO has explained to me why they think it’s better to hand 40% of the profits over to YWO rather than signing up to Lightning Source and keeping all the money for themselves. Anyone can do it, after all. And ISBNs can be bought cheaply: I just don’t understand why people think it’s better to go through YWO, and would love it if someone would explain.

The only think I can think of is that some of the people submitting assume that the Random House editors who read YWO’s top ten are going to get involved in the publishing side of things. As far as I can see, that’s a completely separate scheme and there’s going to be no crossover between the two: the Random House editors have their own slushpile to read, and won’t have time to consider reading YWO’s too.

You can read  Jane’s informative blog on YouWriteOn at:

Jane’s comments have led me to some soul-searching, which is never a bad thing, and I will add something about my motivations to use YWO in a later blog. Meanwhile, here is Wally’s reply:

Hi Jane;
The reason I choose YWO over others, such as Lightning Source, etc (we have some
good “do it yourself publishing” shops here on this side of the Pond as well)
was, to be fair, YWO does have a “name.” I have some writing friends in
Australia; I checked with them, and sure enough they’d heard of YWO and have a
good opinion of this site. So, hopefully belonging here would give us some
recognition. I have been a member here for a while and am impressed with the
quality of writing and critiques. Also one gets to discuss things here with
knowledgeable people, such as yourself, and learn by exchanging ideas. At a
“print-shop” one would be just a number, much like an ISBN.


PS: By the way, there will be a difference between the Random House’s slush
piles and YWO’s books. We are “published” and people will be reading our novels
and writing reviews. The other Publishers’ is just that, a static slush pile for
their interns to read on a lonely Sat night.

Thanks also to Paul Ekert for this response:

It does seem as though the world and his wife are now against the YWO deal. Some of the arguments make sense, some of them smack of “people with too much time on their hands”… I have the image of radio 4 being boring and so a number of “Disgusted from Surrey” start writing in…

There has been some anger too, I think mainly the result of the anti-YWO’s being frustrated that some people will still want to be involved and from the Pro-YWO’s who want to be treated as adults making adult decisions.

Here’s the point. No one wants to see someone else ripped off, this is human nature, but at the same time, no one likes to feel bullied for making a specific decision or told they are stupid for doing so.

Yes there are disadvantages for publishing this way, but there was also this wonderful carrot and stick approach that forced writers to focus their minds and get the book published.

Perhaps we have all made a huge mistake. If so, then we will have lost 39.99 at most and really it will not be that tragic. And it will be our own mistake, made willingly.

I hope now the Anti-YWO’s will leave us all alone and go find another battle to fight. Preferably one worth fighting and one that is any of their business!

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