Tag Archives: success

What do successful indie authors say about achieving success?

During the month of August I interviewed five successful Indie authors on this blog. You can click on them down the sidebar.

Here is a summary of of their advice to writer’s and similarities about their approach:


~ Treat Writing Like work

It was clear from all of the authors interviewed that they took all aspects of writing novels, marketing and the publishing world seriously. Although many of us may not aspire to the dizzy heights of employing staff like Adam Croft ~ most of us commission people to do the cover art, formatting and editing. We aim for a professional product our readers expect of us.

I’ll let you into a little secret here. I met Adam when he was promoting his first ever crime novel, giving it away free on Amazon through Smashwords ~ and so there’s nothing wrong with aspirations of grandeur! (and possibilities)

Writing seriously IS HARD WORK!


~ Build your audience by expectation

Although many authors dabble in different genre and some are successful doing that, it is the consistency of publishing in a certain genre, an awareness of your audience and regular releases of books in a series that appears to build success. It may take time, but patience is then rewarded.

(If you click on the links below they will take you to the author pages on Amazon)

I know if I buy an Anne Allen book that it will be some kind of mystery, reflect a period in history and be set on the island of Guernsey, usually in at least two time periods.

Tony Riches writes historical fiction, researching characters in history who are less well known and it is obvious from his books that he has explored the places and well as also the lives of the people.

Margaret Skea is also a  competent historical fiction writer, often with some mystery adding a different dimension.

Adam Croft writes crime. His plots are quirky and increasingly complex, but all of his books are ‘a good read.’

Maggie Anderson writes Regency Romance which has a great following and are easy to identify.

Skimming over their author pages gives a clear picture of what to expect if buying their books.


Adam Croft was into Audio Books well before they ‘took off.’ Margaret Skea has taken the opportunity during lock down of launching her books on audio too. With audio increasingly popular and profitable, why are more of us not taking up this opportunity? (note to self!) At first Audio books were mainly in the realms of libraries but not anymore.

Many of us are glad we ignored the doomsayers about e books and have always diversified into both paperback and e book. This is vital in today’s odd world.


I am a great believer in this message. No author is an island unto themselves. (a Diana mis-quote!)

Avenues for marketing are limited these days for those of us who were used to speaking to an audience, having stalls at craft fairs and book signing. There’s a plethora of different ways though, to promote your books on line. Margaret Skea, author of Historical Fiction, gives the good advice that it is essential to ‘give as much or more than you take’ when marketing on Social Media.

Help other authors out and they are more willing to support you.

I certainly feel the same. Author Tony Riches is always promoting other people’s work and because I love his books I trust his choice of books he promotes. It’s a win win situation. He has also given me tips along the way and pointed me in the direction of marketing opportunities, such as The Coffee Book Club Tour.

Maggi Anderson mentions the importance of a newsletter ~ so important and often overlooked.

… and finally just get writing!

If you would like to do a guest blog between now and Christmas on this blog then please read:

Throw a Dice for Memories of a Character in your novel

Then leave your contact details as a comment on my blog or email diana@dianamaryjackson.co.uk

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Filed under Blogs, Guest author, Marketing your novel, Publishing your novel, Social Media Networking, Writing

Cover Competition Results ~ Hooray!

Firstly, I have been overwhelmed by gratitude and pleasure by this event and want to thank all the students who have submitted covers, those who tried but did not submit, all those folks in college including their tutor Ben, my Facebook friends and readers and twitter followers who have entered wholeheartedly into the spirit of this event!

There was such a wonderful buzz with helpful feedback, comments and opinions, sometimes quite heated, for this cover competition by students at North Herts College, Hitchen. After that I spent a good while discussing each cover with several of the Ampthill Writers’ Group face-to-face at the new Costa Coffee and the church Soup lunch, my editor, proof reader, family and finally I had the results from the college on line vote too. The final decision wasn’t easy and in the end I will not please everyone but I think you will all agree that the students are the heros here for allowing their work to be discussed so publicly!

Here is a summary of feedback:

Cover A

Cover A


College Votes 10

Facebook lots of positive opinion, likes and useful comments too. Here is my  feedback:

“Well done for completing a wrap around cover. The designer clearly followed the specification quite carefully. It was the men particularly who liked this cover best of all on Facebook and with my readers it gained equal votes to Cover B. They liked the vibrant, eye catching colours and the retro style, in keeping with a murder mystery. My writers’ group made some useful pointers for amendments which would need to be made but suggested that it would stand out on Kindle. This cover won my readers’ vote by a small margin.”


Murder Now and Then CCollege Vote 27

Facebook Many liked this best of all and there were lots of favourable comments too with helpful hints for amendments which could improve it.

Here’s my feedback to the student:

“Immediately I saw this cover it made me smile because I thought how cleverly the designer had interpreted the specification and made an image I felt was intriguing and eye catching. Feedback from my readers caused a great deal of discussion verging on being controversial, which I think is a good thing! Some loved it including myself, especially the puzzle aspect and the spy glass. There were some valuable points made though, and if the designer is willing and able to spend some time working with me to improve her cover I feel that it could be a winner.

It certainly won the college vote and I congratulate the student for her unique design.”


Cover C

Cover C

College Vote 7

Facebook Likes, equal to A and B and a lot of favourable feedback. Here’s mine:

“There was excellent feedback from several of my readers who backed it as the best cover for its simplicity and shelf appeal, fitting for a murder mystery in today’s market. My writers’ group felt that, though they liked it, the historical significance of the shape of the cross being German in WW1 rather than English was not in keeping with the theme of this particular novel, although the designer was not to know this since she had not been given the opportunity to read the manuscript. I would like to thank the student for her proposal and congratulate her that the feedback from many I asked was extremely positive and she should be proud of her work.”


Cover D

Cover D

I have to hold my hand up here and admit that I had no intention of using this cover, which I designed myself to give the students some idea of what I needed them to achieve. I thank you for the positive and flattering response although I feel that it is mainly due to the fact that it is complete in every way, rather than for the design. When I looked at it on a Smart Board with the students we felt that there was too much plain brown and for an e book cover one student aptly commented that, ‘it looked like a bible.’


Attempt 1There was a late entry that I would like to acknowledge here because I feel that the designer has worked hard to produce something a bit different. I discussed it with close friends, family and members of my writers’ group unfortunately after my Facebook event. I felt that it was a very clever cover and I have seen a similar style used recently.

Here is my feedback to the student:

“I thank the student for entering their proposed book cover and it was looked at and discussed by my writers group, all of whom liked the formal lettering, clean lines and thought that it was a balanced overall look with a photograph which could be relevant for a novel set in a stately home or country manor. Overall it was felt that the cover was designed in a style more appropriate for non-fiction but that it was a commendable book cover nevertheless. “

At the end of the week I must admit that my head buzzed on the verge of aching with the decision I had to make. I could not please everyone and so this is what I decided:


I am going to launch cover A, the orange  one, for the book on Kindle because it is bright, eye catching and fun, with colours and images both sinister and speaking of danger. The designer has agreed to carry out some small amendments and complete the design and I will share it with you when it is finished, asking permission to mention his name too. I have asked if he would complete the paperback cover too and I will hold it for possible future use, but intend to use it for some of my posters.


I am going to launch an amended version of Cover B for the paperback version. I was told after this decision that the designer made the images in 3D and so I am in awe that she is unphased by the changes I have suggested and we are now working together on amending the design which will incorporate much of your feedback. I will share it with you when it is complete.

Congratulations to both of these designers and all those who have taken part in their first ‘real’ work experience in art and design. The final publication date for ‘Murder, Now and Then’  will be when all is complete but fingers crossed it will be in April!


Filed under Marketing your novel, Murder Now and Then, Publishing your novel

Reviewing my rewarding but rollercoaster year of events ~ Advice to Authors

First of all I’d like to say thank you to everyone who has supported me this year, both the familiar and new faces. I really appreciate it and I’ve gained so much pleasure from meeting and talking to so many people.

I’ve been out ‘on the road’ frequently since March this year and as a relatively unknown author I have to admit that my emotions have gone sky high with the successes but plummeted with the occasional less than successful events and it made me think.

Is it worth the energy, time and of course money spent in organising events?

Are there any hidden benefits?

Here are my thoughts:

1. Attendance at author talks ~I have had audiences from 5 up to 80 but usually somewhere in between. The high turn-out does tend to be with organisations which have regular meetings and you are on their ‘guest speaker’ list. The buzz from a large audience is electric and if you enjoy reaching out to people in this way, my advice would be to advertise it on your website, (which I haven’t yet) and try to get on lists, probably at the local library (if you’re lucky enough to still have one!) There’s a joy in being asked rather than touting for business too. It means that your name has been referred by another group or reader. Great news!

At one venue the organiser quoted another author,

‘I won’t agree to come unless there’s an audience of at least 100.’

What do you think of such a reaction?

Hidden benefits ~

  • Publicity, posters which reach a far wider audience
  • word of mouth
  • positive contacts with the organisers increasing your credibility and reach as an author
  • building your ‘platform’

 Downside ~ planning a talk takes time, travelling costs (ask if you are entitled to travel costs on top of your fee before the event)

2. Book-signings at Bookshops ~ Always a pleasure to me. (apart from one occasion when the timing and inclement weather led to a disappointing turn out) You are more likely have a favourable response if you are local, the content is set in the locality of the bookstore, you have been on the local radio or in the newspaper.

 If you have a book launch in a book shop then the store will benefit from visits from family, neighbours, colleagues and friends but if not, what is the good of only selling maybe ten to twenty books?

You are meeting new readers, engaging with them in conversation which does not always lead to a sale but is rewarding nevertheless.

 Hidden benefits:

  • As above publicity, posters but you are also making links with the people who matter.
  • If you sell well then the manager is likely to think favourably about selling your novels in future….which is harder than ever for an independent. Waterstones, for example, used to sell books from local authors and often had a section for them. Policies have changed and the decision of approval for stocking books happens through a central buyer.
  • Thus you are generating goodwill through your efforts and that must be good!
  • Reaching out to a totally fresh audience.


Downside ~ travel costs and time taken, especially when travelling distances and you must balance this with the need for Amazon reviews and this is a balancing act I’m not very good at.

  3.      Marketing Outside the Box (click on link for previous post)

Fetes, shows, stalls ~ all of these options are lots of fun and you may find, like myself, that you are reaching out more specifically to your target audience that way. For example I hope to have a stall at The Wrest Park, World War One event next year. It ticks lots of boxes for me:

  • It’s local
  • My novel ‘Ancasta Guide me Swiftly Home’ tells a quite different story of WW1
  • My murder mystery, out soon, mentions Wrest Park and is set in the locality, partly at the end of WW1 and for the most part in the future

Hidden Benefits: Other benefits could be

  • At a village fete you might reach more of your neighbours than before and maybe give a donation to a local charity or church too
  • At an arts and craft fair your book may just be that Christmas gift that someone was looking for, signed to an individual by the author no less!
  • You can hand out publicity or mention future projects too


I’m sure you can add many more ideas and benefits. You certainly need to handle your expectations carefully, but maybe, with a lot of time, good will and effort, one day you will have that queue waiting outside the store before you begin. Well, you can dream! There’s no harm in that, is there?

Let me know what you think and any ideas you have.

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Filed under Book Shops, Events, Marketing your novel, Talks, The Great War, WW1