Joanne Phillips

A Writers Journey


Cupid’s Way

Happy Birthday Cupid’s Way

Today it’s exactly one year since I published Cupid’s Way – and what a year it’s been. In lots of ways, the launch of Cupid’s Way got lost under a mountain of problems. As some of you know, my husband was ill last summer, and many of the post-launch activities I had planned – reaching out to reviewers and bloggers, offering giveaways and other fun stuff – just didn’t materialize. But the fantastic thing about indie publishing is that books have no shelf life, and taking inspiration from brilliant author Emma Davies, who also celebrated a one year book birthday recently, I decided to throw a little Happy Birthday party of my own. Click here to say Happy Birthday on Twitter.


Here are some fun facts about Cupid’s Way you may or may not know:

  • The terrace street in Cupid’s Way is based on real-life Spencer Street in Milton Keynes – most of the railway houses like Spencer Street were knocked down in the 1970s to make room for new development, but a group of families got together and saved their street. Read more about that here.
  • Cupid’s Way is set in a fictionalized version of Bristol – a town with its own stock of gorgeous terraces, but with a lot of new building and development going on, like the planetarium …

Bristol 1

  • Bristol also has ‘green’ credentials. Evie Stone is an eco-warrior, and dives into battle when she hears about the plans to knock down Cupid’s Way.
  • One of my favourite characters in Cupid’s Way is Stig, who is named after a children’s book character called ‘Stig of the Dump.’ My Stig loves to shuffled through other people’s rubbish – with surprising consequences!
  • I made myself cry while writing one of the scenes in this book – if you read it, you’ll probably know which one! I think making yourself laugh or cry while you’re writing is probably a very good idea!
  • Cupid’s Way has had two covers in its short life so far, the most recent of which was actually the first that cover designer, Chris Howard, came up with. I chose the blue design initially, but I feel the fun, livelier cover fits the book far better.


Cupid's Way

We also have a sparkly new blurb, courtesy of BookBub:

Greedy housing developers and clueless grandparents don’t mix well. It’s up to bored, single Evie to save the day – but she never expects to fall for the evil corporation’s CEO in the process. Fans of romantic comedies, let us welcome you to one crazy neighbourhood.

Short, sweet, and to the point, and a lovely birthday present too.

So, Happy Birthday Cupid’s Way – long may you continue to get great reviews. One reviewer said: “I used the word “adorable” too many times in this review, but that’s how I feel about this book.” And that about sums it up for me 🙂

If you’d like to share this on Twitter just click here, or click on this link to share on Facebook. If you haven’t read Cupid’s Way yet, it’s still only 99p/99c on Amazon – click on the cover or here to go to the store in your country.

And to finish off, here’s a quick excerpt from the book for you to read during your lunch hour. Evie is arriving back at Cupid’s Way for the first time in years, and is about to make the acquaintance of one of its more colourful residents …

“In the middle of the narrow street stood a white shire horse – a monster of a beast, with a long fringe over blinkered eyes and white fringing over its hooves. The horse stamped and whinnied, thrashing its head from side to side. Evie had no idea how to size horses, but she reckoned this one must be the maximum number of hands possible. Attached to the horse by a wooden harness was a cart with four red-painted wheels. At first glance there didn’t seem to be anyone in the cart, or indeed anyone tending to the horse at all, but when Evie shuffled further forward she caught sight of the top of a man’s head. It was bald, with a tuft of ginger hair above each ear. As she watched, the mystery driver cracked a whip and nudged the horse on. Straight towards Frank’s supermini.

‘Reverse, reverse,’ Mavis cried, but Frank was already half out of the car.

‘Gran, we’d better get out too.’ Evie grabbed her suitcase and reached for the door. ‘Come on, over here.’

They pressed themselves against a brick wall out of harm’s way, and watched Frank advance on the horse and cart, shaking his clenched fist.

‘This is the bloody end for you, Peacock. I’ve told you a million times you can’t bring that mangy old nag up here. What the bloody hell do you think you’re playing at?’

‘What on earth is going on?’

Evie’s heart was racing; she wanted to pinch herself. A horse and cart in the middle of a cobbled street; two old men, their jaws set in anger, squaring up to each other. Evie shook her head and looked around for some kind of orientation. To her right was one of the gates that led into Cupid’s Way, and she could see the first of the twelve Victorian houses above an expanse of evergreen hedging. It was just like the others – perfectly preserved, with Gothic revival architecture and tall sash windows, a tiny yard out back and a lawned garden in front. All the gardens were communal now, with a cobbled path running down the middle of the facing rows of two-up, two-down houses. Evie held up her hand to shield her eyes from the winter sun. The window frames could do with a good coat of paint, and some of the roof tiles had slipped into the drooping gutter, but apart from that this house at the end of the street hadn’t changed since she was a child.

The man in the cart was standing now, barely as tall as Frank despite being a good two feet off the ground. He shook his fist right back at Evie’s grandfather, and the breeze made his two patches of red hair flip up around his ears like feathers. He puffed out his chest and stamped one foot; the horse whinnied and shook its head, flicking away the long white fringe and glaring back at the cart and driver.

‘Frank,’ Mavis called. ‘Think of your blood pressure.’ But Frank wasn’t listening. He reached into the cart and grabbed the smaller man by his grubby jacket.”

Read more and check out the reviews at

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.

Cupid’s Way Longlisted for SpaSpa Awards

Very happy and excited today to announce that Cupid’s Way has been longlisted for the SpaSpa Awards in the Romantic Comedy category. Check this out:

SpaSpa CW longlisted

This is such fab news! You might remember that The Family Trap WON this category last year, and the competition was just as fierce. And it won 3rd best book overall, which was amazing. The prize was pretty cool too, and included an advertising voucher for the excellent KUF Ads. I’ve got my fingers crossed this time, but with the super-selling likes of Talli Roland and Nick Spalding up there, I’m think I’ll do well to get to the short list 🙂

Q: Why Do I Love Bookbub? A: Because They Write Great Blurbs

Check out the blurb Bookbub have written for Cupid’s Way, ready for their one day listing of my free promotion:

Bookbub excerpt

“Greedy housing developers and clueless grandparents don’t mix well. It’s up to bored, single Evie to save the day – but she never expects to fall for the evil corporation’s CEO in the process. Fans of romantic comedies, let us welcome you to one crazy neighborhood.”

It’s genius! Bear in mind this isn’t what it says in my blurb, or in any of the reviews. This is a brand new description, and in my opinion they’ve captured the essence of the book, the fun and the conflict and the main reason for reading. You know, I think it’s worth paying for the Bookbub promotion just to let the creative minds at the ‘Bub come up with such stellar product descriptions. The downloads that will (hopefully) follow are just the icing on the cake 🙂

You can download Cupid’s Way for Free right here until Monday 11th May.

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