Aspiring author and random thinker

Tag Archives: independent publishing

On Writing: post writing steps – reviews

The re-release of BoK Volume one ‘Strength of Unity’ brings me many challenges. This time I intend to try getting proper lift-off velocity for the book from the promo. Last time in five days I managed to get 750 copies downloaded (all free) and didn’t get a single review from it, which is supposed to be one of the main purposes.

This time, however, I’m looking at having the book reviews actively. In other words, I’ve been going on blogs and forums to ask people for review swaps or offer them a free copy for a review. I’ve also been trying to get to Amazon reviewers, send perhaps a hundred request so far, and I have to say the response rate is pretty low. At this moment I got eight review copies sent, of which one was a swap, for three days worth of work. Although, to be honest, I haven’t been extremely active on these forums before the beginning of this month, so I’ve been kinda under the radar.

I’ll keep you posed with the details of the prmo and the results sometime in the beginning of next month. The promo will run from August 30 to 31 on Amazon and the book should have some reviews by then.


On Writing: Marketing

As I have mentioned before, I was at a miss about the post-publishing process. I have not invested anything but time in my book and was reluctant to look for an editor, instead improvised based on the few reviews I got. Needless to say, that is not an advisable thing to do. However, there was another reason behind my choice to publish without hiring a professional editor. I wanted – and still want – to see if the story is good enough to be read in spite of its lack of polishing – I know this is an extreme type of experimentation which bears a great deal of risk for future releases.

The one mistake I did was not offering the book for free via one of the many available ebook channels. Due to the Amazon Kindle select program, I don’t think I am allowed to unpublish it within the next three months.

There is one thing, however, which I miraculously discovered, marketing your ebook for free, or at least get people to download it for your initial push. Needless to say, a book without reviews is difficult to sell, simply because you cannot know if you are buying your money’s worth of ‘book’. Exposure is the first step for an unknown author and, I believe, any publicity is good publicity. Others might argue with me and chose to offer a book once it has been made perfect, and I agree 100%, but I am simply trying to test the waters in an unusual way.

The two pictures – which I cannot seem to control – at the end of the post are snapshots of the book’s performance during the free promo day of Friday 21st. Amazon calculates the book rank based on the total number of downloads for the given promo period, regardless of how long it is. In other words, in only one day, I managed to get my book as the 7th most downloaded free book of its genre with a 519 downloads for this day, which totaled to 724 when counting the downloads for promo I scheduled Friday and Saturday of the previous week. Notice that among the viewed list, Book of Kayal: Hands of Fate is the only which had not received any reviews.

How I did it? Is the question that should be on your minds right now. The answer is simple. I announced my free promo day as soon as the book became available for free on the following sites: (1) reddit, (2) goodreads, (3) this blog and (4) facebook.

I am not sure about the source for each download, and I assume that the frequency of interaction was a highly correlated indicator. was the most useful website as it got me a high stream of interaction with 212 up-votes and 56 down-votes across 6 different subreddits (a forum page specific for a certain topic). I posted my book in the following sections: ebooks, fantasy, self-publish, kindle, writers, kindlefreebies. Each post, however, had to be reworded and tailored to the audience – I will not be discussing this.

As for goodreads, I joined a few groups, actively contributing whenever I can, a week before. I spent some time pinpointing relevant groups regarding my genre and interests and stumbled upon a few. Most groups I joined had a section to announce your offered free books. I made my announcements and responded whenever a question was asked, I only received one or two questions thought. The interaction on goodreads was poor, but the community is made in a way to limit promotional interaction, something I do not mind at all considering all the other forums that require diligence in responding to messages.

On facebook, I received a total of 4 likes across 3 different groups, a huge disappointment considering that it is one of the most frequently visited websites which emphasize socializing. This blog had a total of 103 followers at the time of my announcement, and I have not received any interaction regarding my promo posts, making it impossible to judge their impact.

To conclude my experience during my personal marketing efforts discussed in this haphazardly written post, I found that reddit and goodreads were the best two means of marketing your book while keeping an open communication channel. The thing that is most precious about these two sites is the community. A significant amount of them offer you a great deal of help simply in return for being polite and promoting in a friendly non-selfish way. After getting helped by members of these communities several times, I also got myself more involved in them and offered as much help as I can, reflecting in more than simply gratification, but also keeping you active within these communities. While facebook and other social media did not do much to me, the amount of time spent on them was negligible, making them a ‘why not announce’ type of thing since you waste no time making your announcements and interacting with people. Reddit and goodreads, however, bear great reward while requiring a little bit of effort.

Here are the numbers:

Snapshot 1 Snapshot 2

On Publishing: Attempt One

Just in case some of you have not been following my writing posts, I will give you a short summary about what happened so far before going on with my first attempt at independently publishing.

I started seriously writing about a year ago and finished three fantasy books for a series I named Book of Kayal. I knew that the first two books would not be very good, yet I tried my luck finding a literary agent for them. Because there was somewhat of a cliffhanger in the end of the first book (Rise from Exile), I decided to merge it with my shorter second book (Broken Shackles), I named it (Wolf Emperor). Needless to say, I got rejections left and right. At first, doubt started to take over and it felt rather depressing, but I realized that this would not be an easy journey and kept writing just for the enjoyment of the process.

The third book I finished revising and all last week. It was by far the best work I have ever done in terms of concept, idea and plot. I spent some time researching the characters and integrated the same idea from the first book, with a great deal of tinkering, of using mythological and historical characters in the story. For example, Thalia was the Greek Goddess of drama, I made a character having similar features to what I expect a talented artist to be like – I named my character Thalia too.

This books outline was my second attempt at making one, I wrote the first book using a method referred to as discovery by Brandon Sanderson (author Mistborn series and many other books),  and making a coherent plot to bind all elements together while focusing on sub-plots during each chapter. After reading a lot of books, I mean over 40 in a span of less than six months, I found the exact style I wanted my books to have, that ending that makes everything suddenly seem so logical – the big ‘Ahhh’. Additionally, I read a great deal of short stories which provided a quick insight on the conceptual elements, not ideas, I wanted to have in my books. I finally decided to write each chapter as a short story with its own moral or philosophical lesson to it, some were better than others though. The hardest part, however, was finding this golden idea that made a mediocre book – I know this sounds strange – great by incorporating a hinted sub-plot that unveils itself in the end – the reason behind all of what happened.

So I finished my third book, revised it and decided on the platform I wanted to publish it on. From my experience with literary agents, I realized that most of them don’t even consider unpublished authors regardless of how well a synopsis, query or sample chapters are written, and you can’t blame them for it. Amazon Kindle seemed the best way of publishing my book, after some research.

Two days ago, I posted my book on kindle and started sending emails to various book reviewing websites/blogs. I am not sure what happened regarding the emails yet. Nevertheless, I could not sit and wait for the reviewers to respond, so I went with the second part of my plan and created various announcements on different forums, including relevant reddit subreddits, deviant art, facebook and goodreads. I know that there is practically no way I might make a single sale unless I have reviews or the book was offered for free, so I enrolled in the kindle select program and offered my book for free on Friday and Saturday 14-15. Yesterday at 11:00 am (+2 GMT) was my first book download. The amount of happiness I felt when seeing that 0 become a 1 was incredible, in spite of the face that it was a free promotion. Now, and 190 downloads later, I find myself reaching a halt about my next step. I guess the only thing to do is wait for reviews to pop in and see how it goes from there.

For a book to be successful it needs to have thousands of copies downloaded, but I do not expect mine to reach this level yet, unless by some miracle or great marketing. Being an author is a difficult thing, but when you see the slightest improvement or interest by someone else in your work, it is a reward which outweighs all the hard work and effort spent in this beautiful hobby/profession. I still have leagues and leagues to go, but perhaps one day I might be able to be good enough to make a living out of writing.

You can find the book on Amazon US here and Amazon UK here It is free today (Saturday 15/6/2013) and will be offered for free again on (Friday 21/6/2013). I will keep you updated about any other free promotions on this blog and on my twitter account (@TarekCherif3), which I seem to be horrible at managing.

On Writing: My Free Book

On Writing: Published on Kindle

I have finally published the first edition of the third book I have written via Kindle. The book will be available for free on Friday 14/6/2013 and Saturday 15/6/2013.