Category Archives: Books

How I Did It: Free Promotions by Anne Allen

Today I’m welcoming author Anne Allen to the blog to talk about her recent free promotion for her novel, Dangerous Waters. Anne’s got a brilliant new book out, and as I type this she is over in sunny Guernsey signing books and meeting readers, the lucky lady! Over to you, Anne …

Anne Allen

Anne Allen

“Hi, Jo, thanks for inviting me along to offer my thoughts on free kindle promotions. Over the past two years since launching my first novel, Dangerous Waters I have run two free promotions and a couple of reduced price offers on Dangerous Waters and my second book, Finding Mother. I would say that both the free promotions produced better results than the lower price offers.

Dangerous Waters

Dangerous Waters was originally published for me by Matador and they offered the ebook across all the retailers and so it was not eligible for KDP Select. However, last October, when I published Finding Mother under my own imprint, Sarnia Press, I took back Dangerous Waters from Matador although it was still available from other retailers under their imprint. This changed last month when I was about to publish the third in The Guernsey Novels series, Guernsey Retreat. I had heard that three novels is the magic number for newbie authors: the magic backlist. Yay! So, my thinking was I needed to offer No 1 free to encourage sales of all 3 books. After enrolling Dangerous Waters in KDP Select I planned my first – and possibly last – free promotion. Of course, I might change my mind when No 4, The Family Divided, comes out next year☺

I had used BookBub for a reduced price promo on Dangerous Waters and it did well, but since then I had seen some good reports for a service only dealing in free promos, Freebookservice. I know there’s been some controversy about this service, but I understand that the initial issue with Amazon is now resolved. Just before Christmas 2013 I set up my free promo for Finding Mother with this service and some smaller ones and secured nearly 30k free downloads, reaching No2 on for ALL kindle free books. The consequent sales were more than enough to cover the cost, making a tidy profit and producing new reviews.


Last weekend (1-3 August) I used freebookservice and a few other, smaller low-cost or free sites, to promote Dangerous Waters a week before launching Guernsey Retreat. I could not be more pleased with the results. Not only did I reach No 1 on in the overall free chart but I did well in the UK too. The total free downloads were again around the 30k mark, with nearly 2k in the UK. A week later my paid sales of Dangerous Waters alone have more than covered the cost of the promo, including around 150 sales in the UK. I’ve also seen good sales of Finding Mother and Guernsey Retreat even though I’m not doing a great deal of marketing now. I chose the Platinum service and paid $212 (about £126) to freebookservice. Boy, am I looking forward to the royalty payment from Amazon in 2 months’! It will be my best yet, although not life-changing it is encouraging.

The conclusion? I can categorically say that the free promos I’ve done have paid off. I know my sales will slow in the days or weeks to come, but with the advent of my third book in a series – very important, apparently – I’m hopeful that I’ve found new readers who will keep looking out for my books. I may well publish all three across other retail platforms at some point, but am not in a rush at the moment. As well as the paid sales, there have been about 100 ‘borrows’ this week. Not to be sniffed at!”



Thanks Anne, and we wish you the very best of luck for Guernsey Retreat :)


Filed under Books, Marketing & Promotion, Self-publishing

Murder at the Maples is now FREE on Kindle

You’d better not be getting fed up with Flora Lively news because I’ve got one more great bit of news today – to celebrate the release of the audiobook, the Kindle edition of  Murder at the Maples is now FREE! From today until Monday you can download the first in the series for absolutely nothing, giving you plenty of time to read it before Book 2 – A Date With Death – comes out in November.

Click on the cover to get your copy now …


Need more convincing to give it a try? Okay, here’s the blurb from Amazon:

Contemporary mystery with a touch of romance …

“A gripping tale filled with humanity and humor. Don’t miss this one!” Found Between The Covers

When twenty-nine-year-old Flora Lively loses both of her parents and inherits the family business, Shakers Removals, she tries hard to make a success of her father’s dream – even at the expense of her own dreams. Burdened with Marshall, her father’s handpicked American manager, Flora finds solace in her friendship with Joy, an elderly client she helped move into the Maples, the local retirement community. When strange and dangerous things begin to happen at the Maples, Flora finds herself conducting a private murder investigation.

Will Flora discover who’s behind the series of ‘incidents’ at the Maples? Will her newly inherited business be able to fight off their biggest rival? And just who is that mysterious stranger Flora keeps bumping into?

Described as ‘Bridget Jones meets Midsomer Murders’, Murder at the Maples is a new ‘genre-busting’ romance-mystery from the author of Amazon bestseller Can’t Live Without.

“An excellent start to a new cozy mystery series and a brand new amateur sleuth for readers to fall in love with.” Socrates Book Reviews

“There is much more to the story than a mystery to solve. The mystery is underpinned by important and thoughtful considerations of the nature of love, loss, grief and old age – this serious undercurrent adds depth to the book, likely to make the reader think about it for long after they’ve solved the mystery and read the final page.” Debbie Young

“The characters are lovely, and the mystery is top notch. Murder at the Maples is a wonderful start to a cozy series.” Brooke Blogs

“A quirky and well developed main character, strange and interesting secondary characters, and the question of whether there was, or wasn’t, a murder kept me turning the pages. If you’re a fan of Elizabeth Peters, Agatha Christie or Charles Todd, I think this is a book you’ll want to check out.” Queen Of All She Reads

“With her usual comfortable writing style, Joanne Phillips brings to the page a murder mystery full of intrigue but without the gore of the usual murder mystery. Her storytelling is a mix of Agatha Christie, Arthur Conan Doyle and M.C. Beaton.” Found Beneath The Covers


With reviews like that you just know that getting it for free is a bargain ;) I have no Bookbub assistance on this one, just my book and you, so please share and download and share some more. Thank you, and enjoy x


Filed under Books, Flora Lively

A New Collection from Author James Smith

After whetting your appetite with my freebie over the weekend, today I’ve invited author James Smith onto the blog to talk about his new short story collection – The Shoe Box (cool name). I worked with James and a host of other talented authors on a collection called A Festive Feast in 2012. This was to raise money for Cancer Research, and included an exclusive short story by yours truly: Extravagant Promises. I asked James about the market for short fiction, and invited him to tell us a bit more about his own collection. Over to you, James …

A Festive Feast

“Hi Joanne and I can’t thank you enough for hosting me – it’s scary (and exciting) releasing your first book, so it is fantastic to know that there is such amazing support out there.

I think there has been a real upturn in the interest for shorter works (flash fiction, short stories and novellas). A quick search for ‘short stories’ on Amazon returns almost 111,000 thousand ebooks. The titles indicate a massive range of genres being catered for – in my experience short stories were restricted to women’s magazines and comics – now we have romance, crime, thrillers, horror, erotica and action/adventure short stories all being produced. So there really is something for everybody out there. I also think that the biggest indicator that shorter works are becoming popular again is the fact that international best-selling authors are writing them to support/enhance their novels.

Personally, I have always been a fan of short stories. They allow you to experience something new in a relatively short space of time. With our ‘modern’ busy lives, being able to read a complete story whilst travelling to work or grabbing that much needed cup of tea I believe really enriches our lives. Another huge bonus – thanks to self publishing on electronic devices (which is incredibly simple. Just upload your manuscript and tick a few boxes. OK there is a little bit more to it than that, but I could not believe how easy it was) these books are relatively inexpensive, so as a reader you CAN take a chance on that new author or genre.

As a writer, I really enjoy producing short stories for a number of reasons.  Most importantly, for me anyway, is the sense of completion. You can easily go from initial concept to a fully edited piece in a week – writing a novel (which I am also attempting to do) takes a lot longer.  Secondly, you can experiment with different genres and writing styles, which is a great deal of fun and even if the end product is complete nonsense (and I have produced some utter nonsense) you have only invested a relatively short amount of time into it – so sending it to the recycle bin is not as sickening as it could be.

So, after just over 18 months of writing (I’m a full time secondary school science teacher and father of three boys, so time is a limited commodity), I am proud to be able to share with you my first collection of contemporary short stories – The Shoe Box.

shoe box

The title is a bit of a self indulgence – my first short story to be accepted by an editor onto their website (but never sold, so no-one has read it until now) is the first story in this collection – New Shoes.  I thought that it would be an idea to pay homage to this story by giving all the other stories a foot/shoe related title and then boxing them all together. The five stories examine the human ability to deal with adversity, maintain that special spark and our obsession with competition and celebrity.

Someone once described short story collections as ‘a box of chocolates’ (could that have been you, Jo?) and I believe this collection neatly fits that description. There is variety in the stories and I hope that everyone finds something in there that they like (let me know on Twitter @James_Sm1th when you do!)

The Shoe Box: A Collection of Short Stories is available to buy from Amazon UK or Amazon US.

Author picJames Smith has been making up stories for as long as he can remember, but only recently decided to write them down. He was born and bred in Derbyshire, before moving to Newcastle Upon Tyne to complete a degree in Genetics. He still lives and works in the North East, having refused to move away from the area. He is currently a Secondary School Science Teacher and spends his days attempting to enlighten 11-18 year olds about the wonders of science. It’s a tough job but someone has to do it…he would write a series about his experiences, but is afraid no one would believe him.
Connect with James on Twitter @James_Sm1th

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Filed under Books

A Life Unpredicted is FREE This Weekend

To celebrate the brand new gorgeous cover for A Life Unpredicted and other stories, I’ve set the price to free for this weekend only.


This collection of 10 short stories has over 20 4&5 star reviews on Amazon and is described as: “An emotionally satisfying collection of short stories, dealing with love and loss and some darker themes” by bestselling author Celina Grace. I’d love to use this free promotion to reach out to new readers so please download and share as widely as possible. Short stories don’t generally do as well as novels in free promos, but let’s see if we can get a couple of hundred downloads – that would be awesome!

Click here to download your copy for free right now :) x


Filed under Books, Marketing & Promotion