Joanne Phillips

A Writers Journey


Marketing & Promotion

How To Make Your YouTube Channel Brilliant

Have you ever uploaded a video to YouTube? Do you have your own channel yet? I’m sure you’ve watched a few videos by now, even if it was only to catch up on those Strictly dances … like that amazing Jay and Aliona jive? YouTube is growing all the time, with many authors using it to grow and improve their platforms and reach. Here are some tips to help you do the same.

What’s great about video is its immediacy. Readers love to see a different side of their favourite authors, and via video you can connect in a way you can’t manage with the written word. Likewise, video is a fantastic medium for sharing your thoughts and feelings with that all-important personal touch. You can ‘show’ not ‘tell’ – taking readers on a tour of locations in your books, for example, or showing them where you work. And video can also be utilized for more practical purposes – like using screen capture software to produce ‘How To’ tutorials. More on that in a minute …

Youtube thumbnail

I’ve spent a bit of time updating my YouTube channel recently, primarily by adding custom thumbnails (like the one above) to most of my existing content. This helps with branding, making your videos stand out in the other video listings and giving potential viewers an idea of what you’re all about. You can have a look at the rest of my videos on my channel here. Incidentally, I made the thumbnail image, along with my YouTube artwork and all the new artwork and graphics on the blog with Canva – and I’ll be posting a short How To video on YouTube soon explaining exactly how you can use Canva to do all this kind of stuff. You can subscribe to the channel if you don’t want to miss that, or just watch out on here for the link.

Other tips for making your YouTube channel brilliant include:

  • Upload your own cover art, making sure that the key images will show on all the various devices. YouTube gives you chance to check this when you upload.
  • Add tags, which work like keywords, but remember they don’t only affect where you show up in searches – they also affect which other videos are ‘attached’ to yours. For example, one of my vlogs relates to me having a haircut, and this was listed in the tags. Linked to my video was loads of how to videos for clippering 😉 Not exactly relevant content …
  • Make your thumbnail striking to look at, but also think about how it will work with your title. You could give each video a similar thumbnail for continuity and branding, or a distinctly different one that works with the title of the video to entice viewers.

Something I really enjoyed about going back though all my old content on YouTube was watching the videos going way back to September 2012, when I filmed my very first vlog post! That’s three and a half years ago! It made me feel very old :/ I watched them all, trying to pick my favourite to share on here with you today. There are four ‘Excited author opens a new box of books’ videos, a number of vlog posts, a reading of The Family Trap, and even a video of me signing along to Jolene. (Oh, dear!) But, after much consideration, here is my personal favourite from my new, rebranded YouTube channel.

Four boxes! It made me smile, watching this again, because that was June 2014 and I’ve only just offloaded the very last of those books! I ordered too many, needless to say 😉

I couldn’t leave you without going back to that YouTube classic – Jay and Aliona. Come on, YouTube is wonderful for promoting our books, and sharing How To videos, and watching clips of cute kittens and whatever else floats your boat, but this is the stuff that keeps me hooked. Take it away, Jay …

Brilliant Book Signings and A Super Competition

Wow, what a weekend! The book signing event in Whitchurch was a fantastic success, with a real buzz going and readers actually queuing up to get their books signed! Most people bought a copy of each of the Flora Lively mysteries, and the new cover for book one looked awesome in paperback – check out one very proud author on her way out the door to go to the signing …

Book signing before

Dinah Anderson from BookShrop had set the signing table up beautifully – she always goes to so much trouble for her authors, it’s no wonder the events are successful. Many readers had heard about the event from the local papers – coverage was great, check this out …

ADWD newspaper

So, here I am signing books, chatting to readers and generally looking very happy 🙂

Signing ADWD 1

Signing ADWD 2

Signing ADWD 4

Special thanks to Lynsey for the flowers, and to Emma, above, for travelling all the way from Bedfordshire to get her copy of A Date With Death!

All-in-all a great success, and every time I do a signing event more people show up, which is lovely. My husband and I were trying to work out how much it would cost to pay 20 or 30 people to queue up outside the bookshop, with the idea that other people tend to just join queues even if they don’t know what they’re queuing for! We decided it would cost way too much 😉 – but that hopefully one day that wish might be a reality. You never know.

If you couldn’t make it and you’d like to enter a competition to Win a signed copy of A Date With Death, along with lots of other goodies, just pop over to my Facebook Page and enter the competition there.

A Date With Death FB

Meanwhile, Murder at the Maples continues to do well in the US and UK charts, so thanks again to everyone who downloaded a copy during the recent BookBub promotion. I’m totally fired up to get on with book 3 – The Sign of Seven. Can’t wait to get that cover up there with the others!

Results of a Free Promotion Using Bookbub’s UK Only List

Regular readers will be aware that I ran a free promotion on my romantic comedy Cupid’s Way just under a month ago. The stats are in and it’s time to report on the results. For those of you who are keen to skip to the end, I’ll save you the bother and say right now that it was a big success. Not huge – I had a better download rate and sales on return to paid from the full Bookbub promotion I did last summer with The Family Trap – but still very good in terms of paid downloads, and in terms of reviews and follow-on ranking. And the return on investment for the $25 fee from Bookbub is excellent. So, here are the figures in more detail, with lots of nice graphs and images …


Before this promotion, Cupid’s Way was selling very little. I don’t know why this is – it’s a popular book, and gets overwhelmingly good reviews – but my best guess says it’s just plain old discoverability. No one sees it, so no one buys it. I changed the cover just before going free; even though I loved the old cover I thought it just didn’t speak to the market as well as it could. Only time will tell whether this new cover, combined with the effects of the promo and a couple of other category and keyword tweaks I carried out, will have a longer term effect on sales.


The promotion ran from 7th to 11th May, with the Bookbub listing on Friday 8th. For this I paid $25 to be seen on the UK list only. Compare this with a fee of $340 to be in the US and UK listing (and Canada), and it’s a massive saving. But would it have any effect at all? I thought it was worth taking the risk.

CW Free Promo stats 2015

So, you can see from this graph that on day one, 7th May, Cupid’s Way was downloaded free over 1,500 times. This was great, and without any advertising at all. I didn’t even list with the usual free sites. Honestly, I couldn’t be bothered – and I wanted to purely test the Bookbub list without any other factors. On day 2, the Bookbub day, downloads shot up to 3,000. These were, as you might imagine, mostly in the UK. (Breakdown below.) Then, of course, the effect of positioning comes into play – because Cupid’s Way was starting to rank highly in the free charts it was seen by more people and achieved yet more downloads. It only tailed off on the 11th because this was the day the promotion ended – it’s reasonable to assume that the book would have continued to be downloaded for a few more days until it reached saturation point for the number of people looking for this type of book for free at this time.

So, overall download figures:

US: 3073
UK: 6704
DE: 119
FR: 1
ES: 6
IT: 10
JP: 1
IN: 17
CA: 21
AU: 14

Not bad, really. Cupid’s Way has been free once before, back in October last year, where I did list it with all the major free sites, and it was new to the free market, and it got a similar number in the UK and almost 14,000 downloads in the US. Proportionally, though, this massive download figure last year didn’t see a huge upturn in paid sales in the US, although it did show a marked increase in the UK. Could it be that Amazon UK apply a different algorithm to free downloads than Amazon US for positioning? I don’t know. I think you really do need to reach the top 10 overall in free in the US and stay there for a couple of days at least to see any real impact on sales after the promotion ends. In the UK maybe it’s the same, but the market – and the competition – is smaller. Cupid’s Way reached number 4 overall in the UK Kindle store for free books, and number 20 in the US. So, what happened after?


Did I mention that prior to running this promotion, Cupid’s Way averaged at around #140,000 in the UK Kindle store? It went back into the paid charts at around #5,000, and quickly rose to the awesome position of #548.

CW top 600

This was really nice to see 🙂 (Understatement of the year there.) The book glided gracefully down the charts over the following couple of weeks, while Amazon’s algorithms did their thing and gave it a nice chance at being seen by lots of new readers. Remember, all the time there are other books coming off fantastic free promotions, or being pushed by publishers – even the best efforts can’t keep a little indie title up in the top #1000 forever. Not without a lot of luck, anyway.

By May 20th, Cupid’s Way was just about to drop out of the top #100 in the Romantic Comedy category. This is a key category and was responsible for a lot of sales.

CW top 100 rom com

I think it’s important to be in major categories like this, and to take your results from performance here. There are so many novels now in spurious categories that call themselves ‘Number #1 Bestseller’ just because they made it to the top of a list of about 300 books, most of which aren’t even fiction! One particular romance series ranks high in various non-fiction sub-sub-sub categories, but really, what’s the point? Anyway, I’m getting off topic here. Let’s get on to the nitty gritty – sales figures.

The Results

Any free promotion is only concerned with after sales. Well, maybe that’s a sweeping statement – there are authors who use free books to drive people to email lists, or to provide a lead-in to a series. But that, when you follow it through, is still concerned with sales, so my first statement was right.

The really interesting thing about after sales for this promotion was the increase in the number of borrows/Kindle Unlimited downloads. As part of KDP Select, my books are available to borrow or download as part of a monthly subscription fee. Authors get an amount per borrow – this amount isn’t fixed, so until my sales figures come in on the 15th June I won’t know exactly how much money Cupid’s Way made after the promotion. But I do know download numbers, and the number of borrows, and I’m about to show you and tell you here:

CW sales after promo

This chart shows Cupid’s Way from 18th April to 18th May. The red line is the number of paid units, the blue line the number of KU (Kindle Unlimited) and KOLL (Kindle Owners’ Lending Library) borrows/downloads. (The green line you saw above was the number of free downloads, and that is deselected in this chart.) See the big spike in sales, from zero to 40? That was the day it went back to paid. Sales continued, leveling out at just under 30 a day, then around 20 a day, finally dropping off to around 5 a day, where they currently remain. You’d think that the borrows might mirror this, but they are a bit haywire if you ask me! Still, borrows continue to be even stronger than the sales, and by the end of May Cupid’s Way had achieved, post promotion, 240 Kindle sales and a further 300 borrows. Even at £1.00 per borrow, that’s a good return on the investment of $25 to list the book with Bookbub.


Would I do the Bookbub UK only list again? Of course I would! But they will be putting the price up, no doubt about it, as their list and traction increases in the UK. I’m happy to announce that the first in my Flora Lively series, Murder at the Maples, has been accepted for a US & UK Bookbub promo this month (June), so it will be interesting to compare the results.

I hope you found this interesting and helpful, particularly in terms of planning your own promotions and knowing what to expect. Let me know in the comments below if you found it helpful, or if there’s anything else you’d like to know about this or other promotions.

Celebrating A Brand New Cover With A FREE Book

It’s almost a year since I released Cupid’s Way – my uplifting romantic comedy about Evie Stone’s quest to save her grandparents’ home in a street (Cupid’s Way) that is threatened with demolition. Reviews have been outstanding, and sales were brisk to begin with, but as is the case for so many mid-list or indie authors, ‘discoverability’ by readers is getting harder and harder.

Although I loved the original cover for Cupid’s Way, I decided to see what, if anything, a change of cover would do. That is the beauty of being indie, after all – we can change things, experiment, mix it up  and see what happens. In fact, to be indie and to not be changing everything that isn’t working (depending on your personal definition of ‘working’), is actually pretty crazy. There are benefits to not having a publisher, such as access to meta-data and other key factors, so in light of the downside – i.e. you’re all on your own – it seems appropriate to go ahead and keep on trying new things.

So, here is the sparkly new cover for Cupid’s Way, courtesy of my ace designer, Chris Howard:

Cupid's Way


I really love it! I’ve done a lot of research around cover design, particularly for indie titles, and I knew that for a heart-warming, uplifting rom com like Cupid’s Way I really needed a cover that spoke to the market, with illustrated elements, a quirky feel, and bright fresh colours. This is perfect. You might notice that the blog itself is undergoing a bit of a re-brand, with the elements from the new cover being used as a backdrop to the new banner and a colour-palette that uses more red and green.

Let’s Celebrate!

To celebrate the new cover, and to get the book into as many hands as possible, I’m putting it on Free Promotion until Monday. So that’s a whole weekend for you to grab a copy if you haven’t already 🙂 This time I haven’t listed the book with all the free sites (experimenting again, you see), although I do have a BookBub UK-only promo set for tomorrow. It will be interesting to see how that goes, and for any writers or marketers who are interested I’ll post the results in a couple of weeks.

Here is the link to download your copy: and please, please share and Tweet and tell all your friends. Cupid’s Way has an average of 4.6 out of 5 stars on Amazon UK, and is a lovely, warm-hearted read for the summer.


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