Book Marketing: How the Cover of Your Self-published Book Influences Your Brand as an Indie Author

ALLi Partner Member Aimee Coveney provides a useful overview of the impact of a self-published book’s cover not only on its sales success but also on an important long-term consideration: the establishment and promotion of your brand as an indie author. What she has to say also holds true for books published by trade publishing houses. Over to Aimee…

Over the years as a cover designer, I have often spoken with authors about their brand, and on occasions I have received very quizzical looks, but it is in fact something that should be included early in your career plan as a writer.

A strong brand helps an author in the same way it helps any organisation: it gives your name recognition and helps to sell your work.

The significance of visual marketing and design is forever stronger within all industries, but with online portfolios making artists more accessible, the standard of book covers in self-publishing has hit an all-time high and subsequently increased competition for authors too.

What is an Author Brand Anyway?

The concept of an author brand is sometimes misunderstood, and it is a large topic to cover:

  • It’s not just about the genres you write in, it’s about how you represent yourself to the entire industry and create a recognisable and trusted name.
  • A brand is about how you want your audience to perceive you as a person and a professional.
  • A brand can create an umbrella for all you do, whether that’s working in different fields, or writing in different genres.

Why Book Cover Branding is Important

For new readers, your book cover is more often than not the first introduction to your brand and your work as a whole.

The average customer spends eight seconds looking at the front cover of a book and fifteen on the back.

Customers buying online may spend even less time than this, so you can see why a high standard of cover is so vital.

It’s important to ensure that your book cover not only visually represents your writing and the story it envelops, but also your brand, so that new readers have an idea of what your work will be like and existing readers can recognise books as yours.

Strongly branded book covers can also have a huge, positive impact on your chance on gaining media attention or getting bookstores interested in stocking your books – not always easy for self-published authors. You must remember that the industry is inundated with books every day. Bookstore buyers may not necessarily be opposed to self-published books, but they know all too well that it’s the cover and brand that sells and if that’s weak, then stocking it wouldn’t make business sense. Unfortunately the use of unprofessional covers can harm the reputation of the self-publishing sector.

In a study of booksellers’ assessments of publisher marketing efforts, 75% of 300 surveyed said that of all the elements of the book itself, the look and design of the cover was the most important.

The cover of a book is thus prime real estate for promoting a book and your brand.

How Effective Cover Branding Helps Reach Your Previous Readers

It’s important as an author to reach previous readers, and one way this is easily achieved is through a recognisable, branded design. If an author has received a good response from their previous work, they may assume that their next book will do equally well, if not better. But what if your readers do not recognise your latest book? The right visual connection on the cover will ensure they do. That recognition factor is vital, and it is what sells books every day.

The same can be said for booksellers. If they can easily identify from your covers that you are an author whose previous books sold well, they’re more likely to stock your books again. If the cover is not strongly branded, they may not remember your earlier books’ popularity.

What About Cover Redesigns?

That’s not to say that a redesign isn’t a good idea. If your design and brand is not up to standard, a complete brand overhaul can be a great piece of PR. Also, cover designs date quickly. The big publishing houses frequently issue new covers even for books that have been selling well under the old covers, so don’t feel that you must stick with the cover under which your book was launched. Changing covers can change the fortunes of a book entirely. (For more on this topic, see the related post at the foot of this page.)

Top Tips for Your Cover Branding

Brand identity is now more important than ever for authors, but it doesn’t have to be complex to be effective. Here are the essentials:

  • a strong, unique font for your author name and book title
  • similar illustrations or image styles for each book
  • consistent layout
  • similar use of colour

Next time you are working on a cover design, remember to ask yourself and a qualified focus group how it’s representing your brand as well as the individual book.

5* Book Review – An Almond for a Parrot by Wray Delany

30651519I really didn’t know what to expect from this book, but I was totally blown away by how intricate and beautifully written it was. The story starts in Newgate Prison during the eighteenth century where we first meet the mysterious Miss Tully Truegood. We learn immediately that Tully is awaiting trial for Murder, and as we get a glimpse into her thoughts, we are transported into her world, as the author takes us on the ethereal journey that is Tully’s life.

Born to a father who cares little for her, as a young girl Tully takes solace in the care of their cook. Forbidden to leave the house, the curious Miss Tully only manages tiny glimpses of the outside world through windows or colourful character’s that Cook and her father entertain. When she begins to experience not-of-this-world sights and feelings, Tully is soon taught to hide her ‘sinful’ abilities.

When her father marries his daughter off to cover a gambling debt whilst she is still but a child, Tully is relieved that she has no need to live or even know her husband, and instead returns to the embrace of Cook. However when she is also introduced to her new stepmother and step-sisters she fears the worst. It’s from here that Tully steps into an unknown world of affection and sparkle. Standing up to her father, she is flung into the open world and the arms of The Fairy House.

The Fairy House is a whore house with a difference. Told from Tully’s memories, it forms a beautiful part of the book, as she learns to embrace her magical abilities and use them to her advantage, dazzling her new friends and family. The author has very delicately shown the glamour, the love and the intense intimacy Tully experiences along the way, as well as the dangers women in this profession endured.

Tully meets some stunning characters here, as well as the less desirable, but they are the sort of characters that readers love to hate. It’s a book full of honest human emotion and fault, but with the touch of magic, this really has to be a one-of-a-kind story, and the author is to be commended for her originality as well as the outstanding writing.

When the final chapters loom, the reader is transported back to Newgate prison, where we learn the fate of Tully. Will she hang for murder? And will she ever see her first love again? I couldn’t possibly spoil the ending for readers, but the little I will say is that the final chapter of this book is one of the most spectacular I have ever read; so cleverly intertwined and utterly satisfying for a character that it’s impossible not to feel genuine fondness for after reading of her life.

One of the best books of 2016. Thank you to Harper Collins for allowing me to read an advance copy of this wonderful book.


5* Book Review – Meternity by Meghann Foye

41hcBn62o4L._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_As a woman, have you ever sat at work and pondered the advantages and perks that women with children receive without so much as a blink? If you’ve ever rolled your eyes when your co-workers trot off to their child’s school sports day, sigh as they take time off for appointments whilst you work late, or kept your lips sealed when you get lumbered with extra work whilst they take maternity leave, then this book is for you!

Meternity is a side splitting account of a woman experiencing just that. Liz Buckley works for Paddy Cakes, a ‘Mother & Baby’ magazine in New York, and whilst she enjoys elements of her job, she finds herself constantly taken advantage off, whilst the working mums work a strict set of hours and get promoted to boot, Liz is burning the midnight oil to maintain her position – and theirs.  Feeling as though she’s on the verge of losing her job, she’s pulled into a meeting feeling rather ill. When her nausea is mistaken for morning sickness, Liz has an insane lightbulb moment and plays along. Why shouldn’t she get lunch time manicures and the odd hour off for a ‘doctors appointment’? A Meternity instead of Maternity?

That was the plan anyway, however pretty soon, Liz can’t find a way out of her lie and eight months later she is still maintaining her story with the help of her friends. It’s not been an easy ride, as through each trimester, Liz has had to learn the hard way, all the complications of pregnancy to credibly carry on with her secret as well as learning to appreciate the struggles that pregnancy and motherhood include. An added struggle is also thrown into the mix when she finds she is falling for someone at the most inopportune time. Will she be able to keep her bizarre secret from Ryan and still maintain their relationship? At the beginning of each chapter the reader is kept in suspense, certain that the secret will be uncovered soon, but the author has created clever humorous twists throughout and Liz Buckley’s secret remains just that until the Very. Last. Moment!

Whilst this book has a serious undertone, the comedic value stood out the most for me, and with an added romantic value, this really was a story of an imperfect modern woman working her way through the ups and downs of life in a world that places pressure on everyone for different reasons. A highly enjoyable read!


Author Design Studio Receives The Liebster Award!

An unexpected award and a little pick-me-up is always a lovely surprise, so I was delighted when the Author Design Studio blog received the Liebster Aloubiesandlulu.com_1ward last week! The Liebster Award is a fantastic online award given by bloggers to other blogs. Sometimes the nicest awards are those you haven’t had to enter and are just bestowed on you by those who value your input into the online world. The lovely lady who nominated me was Ellie Holmes. Thank you Ellie! Over on her blog, And Then What, Ellie talks openly about her work as a new author, the emotions of writing and the process of publishing. A bit like chatting with a friend over a cup of tea, Ellie’s writing is clear, easy to read and a real pleasure to enjoy. I’d highly recommend her blog as well as her book, The Flower Seller, which I also recently read and had me thoroughly gripped.

For those that don’t know, The Liebster Award is a nice blogging award where you shout out to some blogs you enjoy. You get some questions to answer from the person who nominated you, then you pass on some of your own questions to other bloggers you nominate, which creates a nice chain of support and gratitude!

As part of the rules for the Liebster Award, here are ten random facts about myself:

  1. I have a Border Collie / Dalmatian cross called Tinker – my nutty but ultra affectionate dog who keeps me company when I work at home.
  2. I love an open fire (even in summer).
  3. I enjoy getting lost on country walks – it helps me clear my mind.
  4. I have an goal to work or experience working in nearly every aspect of the publishing industry.
  5. I am a major foodie, and love creating ‘chefy’ dishes for my family.
  6. One day I would love to have a small kitchen garden.
  7. I have three unpublished manuscripts that one day I may decide to publish(!)
  8. I’ve learnt more about myself in the last few years than I have in my entire lifetime and I am very proud to now be where I am.
  9. I studied Politics and was told by my lecturer that I would make a great MP. I was never sure if that was a compliment or not(!)
  10. I collect vintage and antique books and love their musky smell.


I also have to answer the questions of my nominator, Ellie Holmes:

1. Why did you decide to start your blog? I wanted to reach out to writers. After working with a vast mix of authors for so many years, I felt that someone needed to start a small blog answering all the questions that I hear on a regular basis. A niche knowledge base for those looking for a quick answer to a question that can sometimes be quite simple.

2. What is the hardest thing about maintaining a blog? Time! I work full time, and maintaining a blog as well as my design work can be challenging. I certainly wish I had more time to devote to my blog, but as a one woman business it sometimes proves difficult! Fresh content is also difficult to think of, as the online world is so vast and constantly moving, it’s sometimes difficult to provide your readers with new ideas or viewpoints.

3. What’s the best thing about blogging? Helping people. I love to hear from writers and authors that they have found an article useful or that it inspired them to try something that they’ve never considered before. I love to provide authors with knowledge that they can then use to better their online presence or design/branding. As with other social media, I also love the interaction. As many writer’s will understand, it can be quite isolating, so having conversations with others is great!

4. What are your top tips for someone just starting a blog?
I always advise authors to spend time writing a few blog posts in advance of starting. That way if they are finding it hard to devote the time needed each week/month, you can have a back-up post ready to use. This could apply to anyone looking to blog on a regular basis. I would also recommend branding it – good design is good business!

5. What’s the best piece of advice you have ever been given and did you follow it?
Someone once told me that I should walk before I run. That may be a good piece of advise for some, but not me. I didn’t follow it and I am glad. I never did like anyone holding me back. I wouldn’t be where I am today without my crazy ambitions and bravery, both in business and my private life. I think everyone should have dreams.

6. What are you passionate about?
Oh so many things! Firstly, having built up my own business, I am very proud and passionate about my work. I love what I do and helping authors achieve their dreams. I also get to work with an amazing group of freelancers who all share my dream to make our small businesses heard. Secondly, food(!) – as I mentioned, I am a big foodie and enjoy cooking for my family and creating new dishes. My husband is a very willing taste tester! Finally, I would say family and love. I’m a hopeless romantic, and I think it’s hugely important to show our loved ones every day how much they are valued and loved.

7. How would you spend a ‘perfect’ day?
A perfect day for me would be spending a day with my husband. We love exploring new places and finding hidden gems. We both work very hard and our days together really are treasured.In an ideal day, the hours would be long enough to also include writing, reading, painting, cooking and a glass of something nice!

8. Do you ever suffer with writer’s block and if you do, how do you get over it?
Whether it’s for my blog, or ‘designer’s block’ with my work, I always try to take a walk and clear my mind. If it continues, I tend to leave the project alone for a few days and open my mind to new inspiration. Allowing myself this time is something I should do more often!

9. Who is/are your favourite author(s)?
Since I started reviewing books on my blog, I have been lucky enough to read some amazing authors that I probably wouldn’t have otherwise come across – perks of the business! It’s nearly impossible for me to choose a favourite as I enjoy such a variety of work and appreciate so many author’s talents, so I always come back to my old favourite, Jane Austen, who really introduced me to the world of books.

10. Where do you hope to be in five years’ time?
Now there’s a question! I am working with another couple of freelancers who both have the same business dreams that I do, and we are collaborating to create something very exciting in the publishing services industry, so watch this space! The success of that and the happiness and health for my family would be perfect.

11. What’s your favourite waste of time?
I am one of those people who rarely relaxes, as I love to be doing or learning something, however when I do sit down, I enjoy watching films or box-sets and have ‘binge’ watched many with my husband over the weekends (in the name of research!). He hates that I can predict what will happen before he’s even cottoned on to where the plot is heading! Perhaps that’s my writer’s mind!


The official rules of The Liebster Award 2016, if your blog has been nominated and you have chosen to accept it, are below:

  • Thank the person who nominated you, and post a link to their blog on your blog. Try to include a little promotion for the person who nominated you.
  • Display the award on your blog — by including it in your post and/or displaying it using a “widget” or a “gadget”.  Images you can use for your 2016 Liebster Award can be found at .
  • List these rules in your post.
  • Answer your nominator’s questions.
  • Give 10 random facts about yourself.
  • Nominate 5 – 11 small blogs (preferably below 200 followers) that you feel deserve the award.
  • Create 11 questions for your own nominees to answer.
  • Once you have written and published it, you then have to: Inform the people/blogs that you nominated that they have been nominated for the Liebster award and provide a link for them to your post so that they can learn about it.


My nominations to accept the award are:

Carol E Wyer:

Jane Odiwe:

Marie Anne Cope:

Jean Muir:

Beryl Kingston:


My Questions for you are:

  1. Did you blog before your writing career?
  2. Does your blog help with your writing career at all?
  3. When you started, did your blog have a theme, and did you stick to it?
  4. What’s your favourite thing about blogging?
  5. How often do you blog and how do you stick to your schedule?
  6. What are you passionate about?
  7. What’s your idea of a perfect book?
  8. If you could change your career, what would you do?
  9. What has inspired your writing and why?
  10. If you began your publishing process again, would you do anything different?
  11. What are the top books you’ve read this year?

It’s been great fun to answer these questions and pass on the blogging love!





Choosing the Cover for your Self-Published Book – Follow the Crowd or Dare to be Different?

covertwitterheader.jpgAs an indie author, it’s your prerogative to do things your way, including choosing the cover design for your self-published book. While trade-published authors often dislike the covers picked by their publishers, that doesn’t mean their publishers have got it wrong. Though it may seem that all book covers in a particular genre start to look the same (take the trend for headless women on historical novels a few years ago, for example), trends are followed for good reason, and you flout them at your peril. Here I explains why it’s important to strike the right balance between pleasing yourself and conforming with common practices in your genre.

As a self-publishing author, there is one benefit which I believe gives authors a pre-conceived satisfaction, and that’s the control that they have on how their book will look in their hands at the end of the process. For many authors this is something they have dreamed of for a very long time. As a book design professional, it can sometimes be difficult to express to authors why the cover that they have visualised in their mind may not the best option.

Should You Dare to be Different?

Often the first thing a professional will hear from an author is that they want the cover to be completely different from other books on the market. Most book cover designers will tell you that this can be fatal to a book’s selling potential. This is where professional book cover designers prove their worth. They’re not just graphic designers; they should research the elements of a cover and what is working in particular areas of the market on a regular basis. The trends that are set and followed can mean the difference between your book selling or being looked over by a reader.

With this being the case, there is a fine line between being different and risking that vital connection between your book and your chosen target market.

This is because readers are naturally drawn to books that have a familiar appearance and brand to those that they have previously enjoyed.


The Disadvantage of Difference

If your book has a very different cover, you may lose out on those sales from readers who are looking for a particular style of work. Many publishers, agents and designers insist on using the tried and tested styles of design, only testing the waters with a new trend once they know it will pick up sales. This can be frustrating for self-publishing authors who rightly feel that their work deserves to be noticed, but ironically, being different can mean your book isn’t noticed as much as it could be.

Blend In, But Don’t Camouflage

Having said this, there is also a risk that your book will blend in too much and the design may appear dull. There are, however, ways that you or your designer can make your cover stand out whilst still creating a sense of credibility through familiarity within your position in the market.

  • Take some time to look through books in your genre. What covers stand out to you and why?
  • What is selling well and gaining notice?
  • You can also look at other genres, as trends often find themselves crossing over.

Once you have accumulated some detail, use this information to cleverly better the themes and styles that have proved themselves successful. The elements to focus on can include colours, imagery, mood, typography and composition.

Get the Balance Right

Cover design is a true balancing act and something to take great care and consideration over. At the end of the day, the cover is there to perform one job, and that is to appeal and sell to your readership. Achieving this can take some thought, but there are certainly ways to make your work appeal to the genre’s regular readers, whilst standing out for the right reasons.

If you and your designer have an idea that breaks the mould, that you both feel could work then it can be worth trying to become the trendsetter, but if you don’t, there is nothing wrong with balancing familiarity and uniqueness, trusting in the market and in your readers.


This blog was originally posted on


If you have any questions about cover design, feel free to comment or email me at

Interview with Ellie Holmes, author of The Flower Seller

contact1Q1. Could you tell us a little about yourself as an introduction?
My name is Ellie Holmes and I write commercial women’s fiction and romantic mystery novellas. Both Essex and Cornwall are very dear to my heart and I use those two places as the sources of inspiration for my writing.  Like most people I juggle commitments to family and friends with a part time job.  When you add writing into the mix it tends to make my days hectic and my nights long but when you enjoy what you do you don’t mind about the long hours.

Q2. When did you realise you loved writing, and what was your journey like in becoming a published author?
I have been making up stories since I was a child.  It was a hobby I felt compelled to pursue.  It chose me rather than the other way round.

Once I grew up, I continued to write.  After a few false starts, I developed a story I felt was potentially publishable and I decided to pursue the idea of writing professionally.  I joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association and went to one of their conferences and it was through that conference that I signed a contract with a literary agent.  We had several near misses over the years with different books I had written and after ten years of pursuing that elusive traditional publishing deal I decided to go the indie route and take my destiny into my own hands.

Q3. How did it feel when you first held a copy of The Flower Seller in your hands?
It was bittersweet.  My parents had longed for that day to happen and they were no longer there to experience it with me so the moment was tinged with sadness but I was also very proud of what I had achieved.

Q4. I love how relatable all the characters are in The Flower Seller. Did you spend time constructing character profiles, or did they just flow?

I do make character notes which I add to as a story unfolds in my mind – their strengths and weaknesses, their goals and dreams, the things they are most afraid of.  It’s a handy framework to refer back to especially if the plot takes a detour I hadn’t anticipated which often happens in my writing.

Q5. I found that the locations in the book also felt well researched and were easy to visualise through your writing. Especially ‘The Lodge’ and Wales. Are they based on real locations?
Thank you. I do work hard at making the settings of the book as realistic and relatable as possible.

The Lodge isn’t based on a real house but I had a very strong idea of how the outside would look early on and then conjured up suitable interiors.  I love interior design and home magazines and they are a good source of inspiration when you are putting together a look for a particular character’s home.

The holiday in Wales takes place in Hay on Wye.  It’s a place I have visited and I love the surrounding countryside.  Whenever I go somewhere new I always write up some notes of the look and feel of a place on the off chance it may appear in a later piece of writing and that’s what happened here. What Jessie could see from her hotel room window was pretty much what I could see from mine.

 Q6. Do you have a writing routine or any writing quirks?
Because I am limited with the amount of time I can devote to my writing I have to make the most of it so I aim for 5,000 words a week and then spend the rest of my time editing and working on the business side of writing which is less enjoyable but necessary.  I don’t know if you would describe it as a writing quirk but I have to write the book in sequence from beginning to end.  I know some writers who are able to write scenes out of order and then bring all the scenes together.  I couldn’t do that.

 Q7. What can we expect next from you? Is there anything in the pipeline?
Coming up next I have a romantic mystery novella called The Tregelian Hoard which will be out in September.  It is the first in my Cornish Intrigue series and will feature intrepid portable antiquities specialist Jonquil Jones.

Then in June 2017 I will be publishing my next full length commercial women’s fiction novel White Lies which will tell the story of Sam Davenport as she struggles to reconcile herself to her husband Neil’s actions and we discover what happens when seemingly innocent white lies get out of control.

FLOWER SELLER_FRONT copyReview of The Flower Seller

The Flower Seller is one of those rare novels full of heart-wrenching realism, and author Ellie Holmes packs a punch with her talent at emotive writing; breathing life into her characters effortlessly.

Jessie has a life she always dreamed of. A husband, a daughter, a lovely home, and a building career as a lawyer. But has her focus on her job taken its toll on her marriage? Her world shatters when her husband William confesses to an affair and leaves her for a younger woman. As Jessie tries to maintain her decorum and get through each day faced with his betrayal, her friends and family help pick up the pieces and encourage her to move on. I enjoyed Jessie’s strength, as she clearly wasn’t going to let William’s affair dictate her future. She maintains a civil relationship for the sake of her daughter and looks to starting anew.

As she explores her new found freedom, Jessie meets Owen, the owner of a flower stall near where she lives. His clear understanding of her healing journey spurs her on to make a future for herself…with him included. Their romance blossoms and Jessie finds herself feeling like a new version of herself. But does Owen have a secret to hide and will Jessie find herself getting hurt all over again?

Meanwhile, William gradually realises he has made a huge mistake and vows to make Jessie realise that they belong together. Can he convince her that their future is together and that all they really needed was to work on what they had? Had they both just been lost for a while? Or has Jessie’s new relationship with Owen taught her what had been missing from her marriage all along?

I loved that this novel packed a punch of emotions and kept you gripped throughout. There really is no predicting which direction Jessie will take. A compelling and heart-warming debut novel from Ellie, who I’m sure we will be seeing a lot more of, and I for one am thoroughly looking forward to what comes next.

Interview with Vanessa Ronan, author of The Last Days of Summer

TLDOS Twitter Post (3)

Q1. Could you tell us a little about yourself as an introduction?
Well, I just turned 29. I was born in Houston TX, but we moved around a bit, even living a few years in a colonial village in the mountains of central Mexico. I was home schooled till I left for university at 16 moving to NYC. My 1st degree was in dance and choreography (though I later received my Masters in Creative Writing from the University of Edinburgh as well). After that first graduation in NYC, I subsequently got the travel bug, and, after a year working at the bottom of a totem pole of personal assistants to a multimillionaire, I left to backpack through Europe for six months. Eight years later, here I still am! And, long story short, that’s how I fell onto that path that lead to meeting my husband and Ireland becoming my home.

Q2. When did you realise you loved writing, and what was your journey like in becoming a published author?
Funny as it sounds, I started writing before I knew the alphabet. When I was three I had a black notebook I filled with squiggly lines. I brought the notebook to my mother and very proudly told her, “Mommy, I just wrote a book.” My mother swears that every time I read my “novel” to her I read the same story, word for word, as though I knew what each squiggly line meant. Nearly everyone in my family writes. It felt natural to start writing, too.

Vanessa RonanQ3. How did it feel when you first held a copy of The Last days of Summer in your hands?
Surreal. And at the same time more wonderfully real than anything. My husband was at work when the poof copies arrived so I had a couple hours alone to sit with my book, smelling it, turning each page. If anyone could have seen me, sitting there by myself, smiling ear to ear, I’m sure they would have thought I’d gone crazy!

Q4. It sounds as though you have travelled quite a bit. Have any places in particular influenced your writing?
I think almost everywhere I’ve lived has somehow or another impacted my writing. My experiences as a child living in a colonial village in the mountains of central Mexico definitely had a deep early impact, as did the time we spent living on the cusp of the Texas prairie. Edinburgh, New York City and Dublin are all quite inspirational cities. I’ve been very lucky to have lived where I have.

Q5. Did you have a set plot when writing The Last Days of Summer, or do you allow the characters some control?
I am very, very much a start writing and see where it takes you sort of writer. I know the direction a story is going, know the general arch—where I’m starting, a few points along the way, have a vague impression of the ending, know the story’s tone—but room for spontaneity is incredibly important in my writing process. I often close my eyes visualize I am the character. Think, “Where am I now? What am I doing?” My scenes then unfold from there.

As the characters grew in my head and gained strength, they took on a surprising independence I didn’t expect—each one said or did things at one time or another that I hadn’t planned. But I felt I had to ‘go with it’ each time because that was what Jasper would have done or Joanne would have said, so who was I to stifle their voices? That was my first experience where characters at times seemed to make their own decisions. Now, as I write my second novel, it has felt very strange having new voices in my head, seeing through new eyes.

Q6. Do you have a writing routine or any writing quirks?
I need complete silence when I write. I guess that’s kind of quirky. Even the slightest sounds or distractions can pull me from the world I’m trying to see into.

Q7. What can we expect next from you? Is there anything in the pipeline?
I am writing my second novel. Another dark tale told from multiple perspectives, set into the fringes of society.


My review for The Last Days of Summer will follow next week! I look forward to sharing my thoughts with you.

Book Marketing: How to Use MailChimp and Bookfunnel to Grow Your Author Mailing List

creatively-corporate-newsletterIt’s received wisdom in the world of self-publishing that authors should strive to develop email lists of readers interested in their writing. Author design consultant and ALLi partner member Aimee Coveney describes the mechanics of a simple, affordable way to do so: setting up free ebook giveaways to attract signings, using a winning combination of MailChimp and Bookfunnel.

While you may not have the intention of sending newsletters on a weekly or even monthly basis, when you have a new book available, what easier way is there to share the news with your existing audience? It’s therefore well worth going to the trouble of attracting new subscribers to your mailing list.

Yet with many people tiring of overflowing inboxes, it’s becoming more difficult to tempt readers to sign up to author newsletters. Promising free books or sample chapters on sign-up, via your website or social media, is by far the best and cheapest option to get them to subscribe.

Whilst researching options for a recent website design client, I soon became aware of why so many authors rarely get off the starting blocks with this style of promotion: it can appear a very daunting process, with so many options for both newsletters and file hosting.

Simple Solution: #1 MailChimp

Mailchimp, which seems to be amongst the most popular newsletter providers, offers an excellent and easy-to-use system. It allows you to create sign-up forms in several different formats, including some which embed easily within your website or blog. It also provides a simple link for use on social media etc. All you need to do is sign up for the free account, create your mailing list(s) and customise your settings. Mailchimp is very user-friendly and is a fairly step-by-step process.

What’s not so easy is using MailChimp to send an automated message with your book’s file, especially if you want to offer the reader a choice of ebook format. Sending new subscribers a generalised format, such as PDF, has limited value, as it makes reading the file more difficult. Every reader has their own preferred reading device or app, and it is helpful and courteous to offer your free book in their favoured format.

Simple Solution #2: Bookfunnel

bookfunnel logoBy using a second service, Bookfunnel, in combination with MailChimp, you can offer electronic books in several different formats.

Bookfunnel is a great concept.  For as little as $20 a year, you can upload and share up to 500 copies of your books per month – ideal for those starting out or even longer term. The website is also easy to use, allowing you to simply upload the file copies of your books in several different formats. Bookfunnel then generates the books as downloadable files, providing readers with the format options they need via a simple link. This link can then be placed in the ‘thank you’ message of your newsletter sign up, providing your readers with the book instantly in their preferred format, without the need for expensive software.

You’re able to use Bookfunnel in combination with the free Mailchimp account, so it’s ideal for authors who simply want to test the waters.

As your mailing list builds, you have the option to upgrade, but you will probably find the free version adequate to start with. And if you reach the point of demand outstripping the limits of the free version, your book sales will by then most likely cover the cost of the upgrade – problem solved!

OVER TO YOU Do you have any tips to add to Aimee’s instructions? Do you have an alternative solution to share? We’d love to know!


This article was originally posted on:

The Chic Boutique on Baker Street by Rachel Dove

Today is very exciting, as we introduce our first ever author interview, and I am so pleased that our author is the lovely Rachel Dove, who is currently on a blog tour for her new novel, The Chic Boutique on Baker Street, published by Mills&Boon. I was very lucky to be sent a copy recently, which was thoroughly enjoyable. Our review can be seen below.


Welcome, Rachel. Perhaps you could start by telling us a little about yourself?
I am 34, have lived in Wakefield all my life (so far) and am married to a wonderful man called Peter. We have two boys together, and a cat and a dog. I would have more animals, my plan is to have a mini farm one day! I am a home body, and love nothing better than chilling out with my family, or binge watching the crime channel while the kids are at school. I wasn’t always like this, I used to be a lot crazier! I have worked in lots of different sectors, from school governor to nightclub manager!

When did you realise you loved writing, and what was your journey like in becoming a published author?
At school I think. I was like Matilda, head stuck in a book, always have been and I always remember writing lots of stories too. I have lots of files stuffed full of work at home, and I often sift through them for inspiration.

I did a Writers Bureau course, which was invaluable, and studied the markets, read A LOT, looked at blogs, and generally just studied for the job I wanted, which was of course, to be a writer. I have self published things, and am part of a fantastic group called Inkslingers, who together have released a number of anthologies and raised over £2,000 for charity. I love them all to bits.

I have entered competitions since I was young, it’s always good to enter things, to practice submitting, and any feedback you can get is brilliant. I never got anywhere though, so when I heard I was in the final 10 of the Flirty Fiction competition, I couldn’t believe it. I still never thought I would win though, I even checked that they had the right winner!

How did it feel when you first held a copy of The Chic Boutique in Baker Street in your hands?
Indescribable joy and disbelief. I have been writing forever, and this was something I always strove for, but never believed would happen. I spent the day stroking it, and I cannot wait to see it on actual shelves in shops, next to authors I have known and respected for years. It’s amazing.

In The Chic Boutique on Baker Street, Amanda leaves her life in London for a new life and venture in the Yorkshire countryside. Apart from being an author, have you ever dreamt of doing anything else?
I always wanted to teach, and when I was at primary school, I wrote an essay, which I still have, saying that I wanted to be an author and a teacher. I qualified to teach adult education last year, specialising in family learning, so when I won the competition, it was like my life goals had been achieved, and that was thrilling and scary, as I always think you need a goal to drive you. I taught for two wonderful years, and have now taken a year off to write full time and be home for the boys more, so we shall see what next year brings. To be honest, I quite fancy the idea of travelling some with the children, enjoying them being young. Who knows what will happen when they are older? I get bored easily if I am not kept busy, so I am sure some plans will form. For now, I am very happy as I am, after working so hard for so long.

Where do you find your inspiration when writing?
Everywhere. I like to study people, and I read a lot of magazines and newspapers, where just a line can give you an idea for a story. I always carry a notebook with me, just in case. I think that the place settings are just as important, so having a good strong location in mind helps. An excuse for some more travelling in my future too!

Do you have a writing routine?
I have a daily minimum of 500 words, which is quite low, but I often do more. I try to write when the children are at school and the house is quiet, but often when the house sleeps works better. I am a bit of a night owl, so tapping away in bed on the laptop is often the norm.

What can we expect next from you? Is there anything in the pipeline?
I am currently writing a book which is very different from Chic Boutique, and I have plans for more tales from Westfield too. I have lots of characters that want to say hello! All I can say for now is…watch this space!


51AWPvSAqAL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Review for The Chic Boutique on Baker Street by Rachel Dove – 4.5*

The Chic Boutique on Baker Street is a real feel-good rural romp! An ideal summer read and full of strong characters with plenty of personality. Rachel Dove has an exceptional talent with humanising her characters and it creates a great connection for the reader.

When we first meet our heroine, Amanda, she is a high-flying Lawyer working in London, attempting to conceal her love of craft and craving a simpler life. When she discovers her boyfriend is having a fling with his secretary, she finally gets the push she needs to create a life for herself. Taking a leap of faith, Amanda purchases a small shop and flat in the quiet Yorkshire village of Westfield. Changing her entire life overnight is a huge upheaval and when her instant impression of her new neighbours is not how she imagined, Amanda begins to wonder if she has made the right choice. The arrogant stranger from next door and local vet, Ben, seems intent on making sure she doesn’t ruin the sleepy village life and Amanda battles between their physical attraction and his obvious disdain for ‘city girls’.

Pretty soon Amanda has made friends with a group of fellow crafting ladies, but these busy-bodies have made it perfectly clear that they intend to play matchmaker for her and Ben. Amanda, however has plans of her own, and fully intends to play them at their own game, quickly noting the chemistry between the head of the busy-bodies, Agatha, and her life-long friend, Taylor.

As Amanda and Ben are forced to spend more and more time together, they realise that first impressions may not mean everything after all, but as they each battle their insecurities, the author ensures that she keeps you guessing until the very end!

Full of country charm and now much loved character’s, The Chic Boutique on Baker Street is well worthy of 4.5 stars and I am thoroughly looking forward to the next offering from Rachel Dove.

Creating Simple Visual Content for Your Author Platform

You may have noticed recently how more and more visual content such as images, photos and videos appear on social media. This is because visual content on social media and platform networks tends to gain a lot more attention than those that contain text alone. Social media experts say that it gives your interaction a significant boost and also strengthens your brand.

Authors can use this as a fantastic tool to further interact with readers and others in the industry. According to B2B Infographics, photos are liked twice as often as text updates, and videos are shared twelve times more than links and text posts combined! Those statistics are incredible, and something I will certainly be taking note of myself.

Below are some simple ways to create unique visual media that you can share across your author platform, including social media, blogs, websites and more.

Account Imagery
Imagery has nearly always been used strongly across social media. Profile photos and header banners are great ways to make an instant impression. I’ve always preferred photos of yourself as a profile shot. It means that visitors can put a ‘face to the name’,and conveys legitimacy. Below are some fun examples of how some authors have created a branded and fun header – just remember to leave space for the profile photo to overlap so that nothing is hidden when it’s in place. Contact me if you would like your own header image designed, or you can do it yourself fairly easily.

I have written a couple of articles specifically on video media for authors, which you can view here and here, and there are many more options to choose from. Showing your personality on camera can further that connection with your fans, and many authors are trying their hand at vlogging (video blogging), whether its with instructional content on being a writer, conveying your expertise on a topic, or general material.
Carol Wyer is currently running a very entertaining ‘Grumpies On Board Travel Show’ which follows her and her ‘Grumpy’ husband (Carol’s words, not mine!) through various adventures after the success of her books. You can view Carol’s channel on YouTube here.
Other authors use video as an interview platform, for book reviews, book trailers or as a writing journal. If you are a little camera shy, there are options to create something visually appealing that doesn’t necessarily need you in shot.
The important thing to remember is to display videos across your entire platform to gain maximum exposure. They are extremely easy to share via social media and blogs. The average internet user also spends 88% longer on a website with video, so embedding a selection of your videos and having a link to your YouTube channel prominently displayed is superb for keeping visitors engaged.

I recently wrote a blog post on the various social media account options and which authors should be using them. If as an author you use the image based social media networks, such as Instagram, Snapchat or Pinterest, you may be used to sharing photos, however for those authors who aren’t sure on what images they could possibly share, here is a list of options you may not have thought of:

  • Inspirational photos – Out and about for research? Share photos of locations, people (with their permission) or anything else that may have given you that fantastic idea for your next book! Lovely author, Ellie Holmes has a section on her website devoted to photos that have inspired her. Jane Odiwe, who is a fantastic author and artist displays the paintings she has produced whilst inspired for her novels.
  • Your favourite books – Have you seen a book that you love? Share a photo or picture of its cover, or include a photo when you link to a review.
  • Your writing space – Readers are naturally intrigued by authors and sharing a photo of the space you use to write can prove a real interest to your fans. Get creative and decorate your space per season and share over and over again.


Beth Hersant’s book travelling the world!


  • Your Readers – Readers often send in unusual shots of themselves reading your book. A client of mine, Beth Hersant has a fantastic list on her website, with her readers from all over the world!
  • Local Bookshops – If you have a local independent bookshop, why not share photos of their amazing displays. It can further your relationship with them and also help promote independents within the industry. If your book is stocked there, even better!
  • susan
    Author, Susan Gandar

    Author Events – If you attend an event such as a writing conference or are running your own event such as a book signing, ensure you get some photos. These can instigate links between like-minded authors and any readers oe locals who may be interested in attending future events.

Just Add Text
Another suggestion is to take images and add text to them. If there is something you want to get noticed, adding the text to an image can be a better way to gain that attention. It is easy enough to add words to images with Microsoft Paint, or with free sites like PicMonkey and Picfont.
They can be used to convey your brand, a new release, a book excerpt, title a blog, or even a general quote that you want to share. Some examples of this image style is below.

What could be better than an image to gain attention? An animated image! GIFs are a huge trend at the moment, and easy to get hold of on websites such as Giphy. Authors can use them to display how they are feeling at any one moment. Use them alongside some promotion or general posts for maximum exposure. It is also a great way to have some fun and enter some humour into your platform.



It can take a little more thought and time, especially for authors, who naturally write through life.The key with visual media is if you can show it instead or typing it, then you may end up gaining more attention. All that effort will be worthwhile in the end.

If you have any questions, feel free to get in touch on I always love to hear your thoughts and ideas, so please comment if you have had any experiences you would like to share.