Monday, 30 December 2013

The Mysterious Success of a Stay-At-Home-Mom Turned Romance Author

Happy New Year Everyone!

2013 is winding down and I wanted to take this opportunity to show my gratitude for the amazing support that I've received with my debut novel, Break in Two. Since I released it on November 6th, it has held the top spot in the Western Romance Category on and almost everyday. More recently, it has spent a few days at #1 in the US in the same category. I've received over 500 reviews between the various Amazon sites and Goodreads, almost all of them very kind.

I've had a lot of people ask how I managed to pull this off. While luck has been on my side, it really comes down to hard work and research actually. For the entire month of October, I slept only 3-4 hours/night while trying to finish editing my book and researching how to market it. Not exactly a sexy answer, but it is the truth.

For those of you who are launching a book soon or are looking to increase sales, I hope this will save you some time!

These are the 10 best things that I did to gain exposure for my book:

  1. Nick Wale of Novel Ideas: I happened to read an interview featuring Nick on Simon Duringer's blog ( in the late fall. I decided I wanted someone as forward thinking and successful as Nick in my corner, so I contacted him right away. He has managed to have several interviews put in various blogs around the UK and North America, he featured me in his monthly e-zine, "Novel Ideas", and gave me loads of tips/hints for my launch. All of his continued hard work on my behalf has put my book in front of countless people, getting my book off to a great start. He is also a genuinely caring person who is really passionate about seeing indie authors succeed and doesn't believe in charging an arm and a leg for his help. So even if you have a tiny budget for marketing your novel (like $30), get a hold of Nick.
  2. Blog Tour: I was lucky enough to get Book Enthusiast Promotions to host an Author Spotlight for me. They have a HUGE reach in the romance world and the cost was very reasonable for the value. They will be hosting a Blog Book Tour for me from January 20-24th as well, which should help to keep my sales going for a while!
  3. A Great Cover: My husband and I designed the cover together. We found the graphic on Shutterstock and then chose the font based on an article I read about fonts for book covers ( I wanted something beautiful, compelling and professional. I also wanted something that people would be happy to have on their shelf. I think we managed that nicely.
  4. Social Networking: Now, I only joined Twitter and Facebook in June and started trying to network with other authors and bloggers. I have found this an extremely welcoming and helpful community. There are dozens of Facebook Groups, Google + groups, etc to join in order to help promote your novels, ask for reviews, get advice, etc. I haven't spent too much time trying to post links to my book around the groups since it launched - just a little at the beginning. I don't honestly think it's all that effective to promote your book to a bunch of other authors who are also trying to get people to buy their books. It makes more sense to me to use social networking to make connections with people who you can share ideas with and form friendships in order to support each other. I also try to keep my posts either helpful or entertaining.
  5. Facebook Author Page: I created a Facebook author page and use that to pay for advertising around Facebook. I am able to 'target' my ads to my audience. I have boosted posts when I launched the book, when I lower the price of my book and also to get more readers for my blog as well. I generally spend about $10-30/day on boosting posts for a few days. I like that you can see how many people see the post and how many click-throughs so you will know if the ad was effective. 
  6. Goodreads Profile: The serious readers of the western world go here to find their next book, discuss books, keep track of what they've read and what they want to read. I set up my author profile, giving as much information as I could and linking my blog to my author profile. The site is easy to use and allows you to provide a lot of information about yourself and your work. You can join groups that are specific to your genre and add your book to their "to read" shelf in some cases as well. 
  7. Host a Goodreads Giveaway: The day my book launched, I set up a giveaway for one signed copy of my book. I quickly had hundreds of people sign up to win the prize, many of whom added my book to their "To Be Read" file. This helped my book gain exposure on this important site. (On Nick's advice, I have started another giveaway again.) Here's an article on How to Host a Goodreads Giveaway:
  8. Amazon Author Central: Take a few minutes to set up an Author Central account and definitely add as much content as you can to it. I think it really helps give you a polished look and will add that always important content to your Amazon Author Page. Here is a terrific video on how to increase your sales on Amazon. I've watched it several times and employed most of her advice.
  9. A Professional Author Photo: this helps people feel connected to you. Photos that hide you or look like you took them with your webcam in a dimly lit room, don't have that same professional feel. When people are going to spend their hard earned money and valuable time reading a book, they want to feel like it is written by a real author who really cares about the quality of what they are putting out there. 
  10. Book Trailer: Nick came up with a most beautiful trailer to promote by book for Christmas. It is SO well done that I put in a Google ad on Youtube to promote it for $10/day for a few weeks. We had a very high rate of people watching 100% of the video (some weeks as many as 19% watched to the end which is almost unheard of). There was a link at the end to my Amazon page to buy the book. I didn't see all that many clicks through but I really believe it helped in the 'long game' of marketing this book. It was seen by over 70 000 people in my target audience.
So that's it for now. If you have any questions or comments, please let me know! Please share your best marketing ideas in the comments section below as well so we can all gain from each other's experience. I'm a complete newbie at all of this, so I know I have a TON to learn still. 

Thank you to everyone who has helped me along the way, who has supported me, bought my book and reviewed it! Your kindness has meant more than you could ever know. You amaze me.

All the best to you and yours in 2014! May it be your best year yet and may they all get better from there!!



  1. Dearest MJ,

    I LOVE your blog and your book was a delightful read! What a treat! Well done you! I am so appreciative of your tips to new authors, I am currently getting prepared to launch a novel myself and like you, this will be my debut. I think you've done an incredible job and I wish you great success and happiness! Best ~ M. D. Heathers - Passion Princess :)

    1. Hi M.D. Heathers!
      Thank you so much for your kind words! Sorry it took me so long to see your comment. You can see how long it's been since I've checked! Best of luck with your debut novel! So excited for you. Enjoy every minute of it!