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Monday, 5 December 2016

My mailing list is open to new members now!

Hi everyone. I hope this post finds you well. It't just a quick one today. My mailing list is now open and receiving new members. When you join up you receive a link for The Master's Revenge completely free on any device you may own. So if it's a kindle, IBook, kobo device or any other you can read it free.

By joining my mailing list you will also be among the first people to read book 5 in the series, maybe even help me choose the title, and also be the first to hear Journey to the Other Side on audiobook when it comes out early in 2017.

You will have the chance to become one of my beta readers and also receive exclusive free artwork from the series as well.

What are you waiting for? Clink the link below and I look forward to speaking with you soon.

Sign up here

Have a great week.

Kevin

Friday, 30 September 2016

Two free international best sellers


It’s been a long time since I’ve written anything on my blog. Months and months of getting book 4 finalized and out there for my fans to read. It’s had some great feedback, and for that I’m thankful.
It’s always a nervous time for an author when they put new work out there for people to read. Every book I’ve released has gone to number 1 in it’s genre on Amazon within a couple of hours of being available, which is fantastic, but always puts just a bit more pressure on the next one.
My first book, The Viking’s Apprentice, has scored over 20 genre number 1’s on Amazon, and won some great awards along the way. Without the fans who bought and read the book none of that would have happened.
It’s been a brilliant journey so far and I look forward to whatever is coming next. Well actually I know what’s coming next. Book 5 is underway and I think it has the potential to be the best book in the series so far, but I would say that I guess! Be ready for some surprises and possibly a glimpse at another world.
I entitled this post, ‘Two free best sellers’ for a reason. I’ve decided to make The Viking’s Apprentice free forever for everyone on all eBook formats. What’s more when you download the book there is a sign up form at the start and end that will take you to a page to get book 2, The Master’s Revenge, for free as well. Two free International best sellers isn’t a bad deal. I’ll sweeten it further. When you sign up for my email list you get access to some pretty cool special gifts throughout the year. You’ll receive some exclusive artwork from time to time, some advance chapters of forth coming books, and every month one subscriber will win signed copies of my books simply for being on the list. You may even get the chance to part of my advance reading group. Let me know what you think of the books and please leave a review if you have the time. 
Simply click this link and select your reader of choice by clicking the book cover under that heading. If your reader is not listed select the Smashwords option.  kevinmcleodauthor.com

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Firstly, has it really been so long since I wrote a blog post? What have I been doing! Let me apologise for that straight away.
The Viking's Apprentice has continued to do very well and during a recent free promo day (23rd of March) it was downloaded 23700 times. This was amazing and made it the most downloaded children's book in the world that day and the 4th most downloaded book on Amazon. This was also the day that audible version came out. I'm running a competition on my website to win the audible version for free. This will run through April for all of you that are interested. There are 5 copies up for grabs and it is a simple competition to enter with just one click. Follow this link to my competitions page where you'll also find a free signed paperback giveaway being hosted by goodreads.com Here is the link My Competitions page. It's always worth checking back as more competitions will be coming up. If you just want to go ahead and buy a copy of the audiobook you can here Audio version

Enough about me now on to twitter and how to build that following. Interesting content and the best book in the world will not guarantee you success on twitter. If no one sees it then no one reads its right? I've begun to really build my following and I'm doing this using two simple techniques that anyone can do and costs nothing. My twitter following used to consist of my wife and two fake followers. It's now up to just over 6000 and grows about 100 to 200 a day with very little effort. 
The first technique is called the 6 minute technique. Go on twitter and find someone who is in your area of interest with a large following (don't start that clock yet). Once you've found the perfect person on twitter follow them (it's only polite) and then have a look at their followers. What you're looking for is people with roughly the same amount of followers as people they are following. So for example they are following 5000 and are followed by 4900 then this person is ideal! Start your clock. Go through the followers and follow everyone who fits into the above category. Once that clock hits six minutes stop. Why? Well for one you don't want to spend your whole day on twitter trying to follow people and you don't want to fall foul of any of twitter's rules on following people. 
If you had completed this step you've probably followed between 50 and 100 people. Of those it's a sure fire thing that most will follow you back. It's what they do and you can tell that by the followers to following ratio. 
The second technique is similar to the first but it uses a software that's twitter approved so don't worry. It used to be called justunfollow but it is now called crowdfire. It's free and simple to use. It loads up your twitter and shows you who doesn't follow you back. This is important especially if you are below 2000 followers as twitter won't let you follow above that until you have 2000 followers. 
Crowdfire allows you to see who on your following list hasn't tweeted in a long time and is effectively dormant. This allows you to remove them and frees up room to follow more active accounts. You can look at who you are following and again go back to the six minute technique and bring up their followers. Crowdfire goes one step better as it shows you when the person last sent a tweet so you get an idea how active they are. Crowdfire also allows you to send out an automated thank you message to everyone who follows you. This is important as you can provide a link to your book or website or facebook page etc in this message. The free version has limitations but none that will stop you doing any of the above. The paid version just lets you do a bit more. Click the link to go to their website.  Crowdfire
Once you start to build up that following get interacting and keep tweeting out your great content. The more you get retweeted the more reach you'll gain and the more the world will see you. Here's a link to my twitter account. Be great for you to join me there. My Twitter

Monday, 30 June 2014

Release date gets closer for 'Journey to the Other Side.'

Ok, it's not the most catchy title for a blog post but it does capture what's happening right now. My third book in The Viking's Apprentice series is due for release later this month or early in August. This is a nervous time for any writer. A time where their faith in their own work is put to the test; a very public test.

Soon I will find out what the readers think of book 3. Will it achieve number 1 across Amazon in it's genre as the other two have? Obviously I truly hope it does, however in reality I have no idea.

The actual writing of the book finished 2 weeks ago. It's with the editor, (same editor I used for book 2, Karen) and she will be tough but fair, and won't pull any punches if something doesn't add up. Writers can get defensive when the editor points out a flaw or a mistake. I used to, but not any more. It takes more than the author to complete a good book. The author has the skill to write a story, but others help make it presentable to the public.

The cover is also a work in progress, and again I am using the same artist I used for book 2. Ash is a talented artist, and his cover for The Master's Revenge won cover of the year 2013 in the children's category in the AuthorsDB contest. For book 3 we have passed the cover back and forth a few times and it's now finished apart from a couple of minor changes, and the blurb for the back of the paperback version. I posted an early version to my facebook page, www.facebook.com/thevikingsapprentice feel free to have a look at the cover, and don't forget to like the page, and leave me a comment. I always answer any comments personally.

As a book launch nears I find a lot of my time is used up preparing social media which is something I enjoy. Hootsuite is my weapon of choice, but I'm sure others are just as good. Once again, as stated in a previous blog, I don't get paid to support any social media tool over another. I just call it like I see it. I find Hootsuite easy to use and it links with all my social media platforms which makes it straight forward for me.

I'm not a social media master, but I definitely see improvement in my skills from this time last year. It's a required part of an author's work whether they are self published or traditionally published. As always if there any authors out there who are starting out and need some help finding their feet they can contact me through this blog or through any of my social media contacts which are listed below.

I will keep you all updated with the timetable for the launch of book 3, and I hope you all enjoy it as much as you did books 1 and 2. I thank you for your support and the great number of messages I receive on my facebook and twitter. I genuinely appreciate the support, and the books would not be a success without the readers.

Oh, I almost forgot if you haven't got the first two books and would like the chance to win sign copies head over to goodreads via these links to enter for free.

The Viking's Apprentice paperback

The Master's Revenge paperback

If you just can't wait and feel you must have both books right now then you can visit my website buying page and it has all the links to every platform. Whether you use Amazon, Ibooks, kobo, nook or any other readers they are all there just waiting for you. Follow this link  Buy the books here
The first two books are only 99p/cents until book 3 is launched at which point their price goes back to normal so don't delay to join the adventure!

The Viking's Apprentice achieved number 1 in US, UK and Canada, was Reader's choice in the Scottish Daily Record and chosen as the reading book for some schools in Scotland for ages 8 to 11.

The Master's Revenge achieved number 1 in the US and UK and won cover of the year in 2013 in the children's category of the AuthorsDB.com annual contest.

Chart position is from Amazon genre data.

My contact details...

Twitter @bannon1975
Facebook
website
email me kevinmcleodauthor@gmail.com


Have a good week everyone, speak to you all soon.

Kevin!






Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Goodreads

Most of you who read my blog regularly will know that I'm not paid by or connected to any website or product. I would like to recommend something for authors looking to increase awareness for their books. As always this is based on my experience.

Many of you will be aware of Goodreads.com which is a site for authors and readers to connect and share recommendations for books etc. I joined Goodreads roughly a year ago and set myself the target of having 100 people add my book to their lists within the first year. Not a very challenging target I thought but like all sites of this size how do you get yourself noticed?

I joined various groups on the website and interacted with other authors and readers. Gradually my list began to build and after ten months 76 people had added my book, The Viking's Apprentice. Now just two months after that 920 have added The Viking's Apprentice to read and 644 have added the second book in the series The Master's Revenge. How did this huge jump happen? What made over 1500 people suddenly add my books in a short period after only 76 had added it in ten months?

The answer is simple and something every author should do on Goodreads in my opinion. I did a giveaway for both books. I offered two copies of each book up for free. I opened the giveaways for a period of two months and did nothing else. I didn't even advertise the giveaways apart from two posts on my facebook page, The Viking's Apprentice FB. The reason I chose not to advertise the giveaway was that I wanted to see how much effect Goodreads could have on it's own with very little help from me. The results were amazing. Adding both giveways together, over 3000 people entered and half of them added my books to their reading list increasing the visibility.

Setting up the giveway is simple and takes five minutes. You select which of your books you want to giveaway, add some details about it and select which countries you are willing to send it to. The giveaway is for paperbacks/hardbacks only. It's not available for ebooks. Please remember that when you select the countries you will have to pay the postage cost for the books. Also remember to sign the copies.

It's simple, effective and it will get your book out there to the people you want to reach. Give it some thought and if you have any questions at all please get in touch either on the blog or through my website Kevinmcleodauthor.

If you were not one of the lucky winners or if you would like to buy a copy of my books you can get the ebooks for 0.99 for a limited time at all online retailers listed on my website, click the link to select your Ebook of choice. Buy the books

Book three in the series is coming in May 2014.

Monday, 31 March 2014

How to reach your audience. My tips for writers of children's fiction

Today I'd like to talk about the things I have found most useful when trying to reach and engage with my audience.

My first book, The Viking's Apprentice was published just over a year ago. I'd written it, put it on all the usual sites and sat back waiting for the money to roll in. Tumble weed rolled in, but not money, and certainly not a following. What was I doing wrong? I'd written a good story, people that did read it seemed to like it and I appeared briefly in the top 10 on Amazon in my genre.

I checked my twitter account and I had gone from three followers to one! Twitter had removed to the two fake eggs that were following me. I needed a new approach, I needed to get active and engage with my readers.

I sat down and thought about it. Who are my readers? How can I reach them? How can this unknown author from a small town in Scotland reach the world. I made a list which looked something like this.

1. Colleagues in my day job
2. Schools
3. Libraries
4. Get more entries for my list.

The Day Job

Still three ideas is better than no ideas so I began with those. If you are a new author the chances are that you will have a day job. Who do you work with? Do they have children or grandchildren? I work in an office with around 500 employees and it's own internal news letter. I wrote an article for the newsletter and I got postcards printed from an online store to display in my work's cafe. This allowed the word to spread further than my team and my friends. I put out 50 postcards in the first week and when they all vanished I put out another 50, and so on. The cafe staff told me that there was a genuine interest and people seemed pleased that someone they were working with was doing something creative.
These postcards were simple, my book cover on the front and my website and contact details on the back.
Word was out amongst my work colleagues and soon I was getting stopped in the hallways and stairways to discuss my book. All good advertising and all for not very much money (about 15 pounds for the postcards). Never underestimate word of mouth. The more people talking about your book the better.

School Visits

Then I moved on to number two in my list, and this one has proved to be the most effective and the most fun. My book is aimed at children 8 and over so I approached primary schools, emailing details of my books to the school administrators. I told them about me and my work and asked if they would like a copy of the book and making it clear I was available for visits to talk to the children. I received several replies asking for copies which I dully sent. I then received an email from a school who would love to take the book as their reading book but the budget was the concern. I took a calculated risk and sent them ten copies free of charge. I wanted the children to read my work and if they liked the first book they might become fans of the series. The children at the school loved the book and invited me to visit which I did.

I've never done anything like this before so visiting a school where the children will tell you exactly what they think of your story was daunting. The children were brilliant though. They had completed projects on my book and drawn pictures and asked wonderful questions. I thought I would be there for about an hour and ended up staying all day. I took part in their story writing lesson and spoke to the children individually. It was a great experience.

The teachers at the school spoke about the visit to their colleagues in other schools and soon I was getting lots of requests to visit more schools all over Scotland. My last visit was a 300 mile round trip on country rounds which took about 6 hours of driving. The visit was excellent though and well worth the drive. It is so rewarding to hear children talk about your book and what they loved and which characters they liked.

I always leave a copy of each of my books for the school library and run some competition with the children. At my last visit I asked the children to draw something from my book and I gave away signed cover art.

You can see pictures of my latest visit at my facebook page www.facebook.com/thevikingsapprentice

If you're a teacher reading this please feel free to get in touch kevinmcleodauthor@gmail.com to talk about a visit.
To give an example of the impact of school visits the position of my book before my visit last Tuesday was that The Viking's Apprentice was sitting at number 6 in norse and the sequel, The Master's Revenge was at number 8. Two days after the visit The Viking's Apprentice was number 2 and The Master's Revenge was number 3. My books have not left the top ten in their genre in Amazon UK for over 6 months.

Libraries

I would advice all authors to approach libraries in their local areas and offer them a copy of your first book. This builds a relationship with the libraries and you will find that they are often more than willing to help local authors. They will take your advertising materials and might even set up events for you. When your subsequent works come out email the libraries to let them know. Building up a local following is important in all genres.

Book Fairs

Book fairs are a gold mine for authors of children's fiction. Everyone that walks by your stall is a potential customer. At my first book fair in June last year I had no idea what to expect. I took what I thought was a reasonable amount of books to see out the day and hoped for the best. I soon discovered that everyone who walked through the door was interested in my books. Why? Everyone knows a child who loves reading. Be it their own child, grandchild or family friend. I talked to everyone that came through the door and met some great people. My books sold out in 90 minutes. The lesson for the next book fair was take more books!

Radio Interviews

Do those words fill you with dread? A radio interview, a live interview with potentially 1000's of people listening. They shouldn't, they should fill you with optimism. I have done lots of radio interviews now and have mostly used this as a way of reaching out to people in America who I can't physically visit. My first interview was an hour long Q and A and although this might sound daunting the time flies by and when you love the subject you're talking about your passion will come through to the listeners. If radio stations aren't approaching you then approach them. Use Goodreads and twitter to find blog radio shows and offer yourself for interview. It's a great experience and well worth the effort. Be proud and confident of your work.

Well that's a lot to get you thinking and hopefully point you in the right direction. Since I started this proactive approach I have had my books go to number in their genre on Amazon in the USA, Canada and UK. Over 800 people have added my books on Goodreads and I have built a twitter following of 1500. Also 5000 people read my blog which is pretty amazing.

I'm giving away two signed copies of each of my books at Goodreads. If you would like the chance to win one then please follow this link. Book giveaway

If you would like to contact me then please do so at kevinmcleodauthor@gmail.com or leave a comment on the blog. If you would like to follow the blog please sign up by email.

If you would like to connect on twitter then please do so @ @bannon1975

If you're interested in buying either book in paperback or ebook format please visit my website where you will find a full list of where to buy. Where to buy the books.

Monday, 10 February 2014

Twitter, my tips.

Twitter is a great tool for social media, for building contacts and relationships. It's a great way to reach your audience, and a great way to make contacts with people in your chosen industry who can help you.

11 months ago my first book, The Viking's Apprentice , was published and it suddenly occurred to me that I might need to use Twitter to help get the word out. I had a grand total of three followers at the time. One was my wife and I'm pretty sure they other two were fakes. Now my Twitter account @bannon1975 has over 1327 followers and is increasing all the time.. oh I'm now at 1339, see it's going in the right direction.

I have taken some time to learn how to use Twitter, and taken advice from some very knowledgeable people. I've used different tools and programs to help me and recently I think I've finally got my head around what helps and what doesn't.

Quick do's and donts.

Do make your twitter interesting. Tell people about you, not just your books or products. Share links to information you have found useful. Talk to people, engage with people. Don't just blast out tweets trying to sell; that will switch people off.
Don't buy followers, ever. What use would that be? There are loads of links on twitter telling you that you can get 1000's of followers for a few pounds or dollars. Think about it though. Why flood your account with fake followers? Will they be interested in what you have to say? Will they buy what you have to offer? No they won't and ultimately they will ruin your account and dilute your message.

There are also lots of websites out there that offer tokens or coins to swap for followers. I don't understand why people would use them. Your twitter account, when used correctly will generate it's own followers. Just give it time and work hard at making it work.

Show yourself, get rid of the egg and upload your own profile pic. People want to see you, we relate to a face better than a graphic.

One Great Tip

I can't remember who told me this, but it works. It's called the six minute rule. When you are trying to build a follower base a good tip is to use the six minute rule. Go on twitter and start the clock. Search for other people that work in your field. Look at their followers and follow the ones you think are interesting and, importantly, that actually tweet. Do this for six minutes then stop. You're done for today. Do this consistently and your list of follows will grow. Human nature will kick in and lots of those that you follow will follow you back. This will build a high quality list of followers that you can engage with. Try it, it works!

Social Media Tools

There are loads of social media tools out there, some good and some awful. I'm going to concentrate on the ones I have used for twitter. Which makes sense as this is a blog about twitter.

I used Tweetdeck for a while, but to be honest I didn't like it. I didn't save the time or do what I wanted it to do. Yes you could load tweets but it was time consuming and clumsy. I looked around for other tools and I now use only two. I use Hootsuite and Commun.it. Why did I settle for these two? It's simple really. They both work, they both save time and they are both excellent social media tools. I sound like a sales pitch so I have deliberately not linked to either site so you know I'm not just trying to sell you click throughs to social media software. I want to help you, and hopefully I'm going to.

HOOTSUITE

Hootsuite is a tool which links to your twitter account. There is a basic free version which is good for saving tweets that you can then tell Hootsuite to 'auto schedule'. This means it will send the tweets out at certain intervals to ensure a wide coverage. I used this version for a while, but now I'm using the pro version. Again I'm not going to link to it as I don't want you to think I'm selling.
What are the advantages of the pro version? You can create spreadsheets of tweets to send out throughout the day or week that you can then save and edit as you need to. These spreadsheets can be bulk loaded into Hootsuite and the tweets will go out at your specified times. It takes a bit of time and tinkering but it's worth the effort as the results are excellent. I've been able to organise my time more efficiently and set my tweets to work in the best way to engage with my followers.

I should point out that Hootsuite can link to all your social media accounts. Mine is linked to my facebook, linkedin, Google+ and, of course, my Twitter.

My advice would be to get the free version then work from there. If the free version does all you need then don't upgrade. If you want to save time and have an excellent social media tool in your corner then upgrade to pro.

COMMUN.IT

Again I'm deliberately not providing a link as I don't want you thinking I'm getting paid for this post. I came across this tool through my website www.kevinmcleodauthor.com. This website is through wix.com and they offer a range of tools to help enhance your site. I began by using the free version and found it ok. What commun.it does is it organises things like who follows you, who unfollows you. It makes suggestions at who you should follow and unfollow. It's excellent for getting rid of people that never tweet or accounts that have gone dormant. If your follower list is full of people not using twitter then that's a pretty useless list. If you use the free version you need to work with it and twitter at the same time to unfollow and follow new people, and to do the other functions commun.it uses.
As I became more aware of the importance of twitter and other social media resources I decided to get the professional version of this software. I have to tell you all that I absolutely love it. It's by far the best tool I have used in my social media world. It even tops Hootsuite, which takes some doing.

What makes it so good? The pro version is just so simple to use, excellently laid out and gives you everything you need. So what does it tell you?
Your new follows and unfollows (those terrible people that ditch you without so much as goodbye). You can then engage with your new followers directly though commun.it and it will post to twitter for you.
It shows you who is retweeting your tweets and which people in your follower lists are the most active. You can then engage with these people which builds your twitter reputation.
If you have missed anyone that mentioned you it highlights it. Again you can then engage with these people.
The reports are brilliant, it shows you your activity for the week, month or day which ever you want to look at it. For example this week I have 117 new followers, 125 retweets and have reached 851,000 people. When you can see your figures it makes you work harder and smarter.
Another great report shows you which phrases that are relevant to you have been used in tweets. For example my twitter name @bannon1975 has turned up in 201 statuses and has been seen by a potential 1.4 million people.

My advice is to get it and go straight for pro, it's cheap and excellent.

I hope these tips help you work better with Twitter. It's a great tool and I believe it can help anyone who uses it correctly.

If you would like to connect with me you can in the following ways.
Twitter @bannon1975
Facebook TheVikingsApprentice
Email kevinmcleodauthor@gmail.com
Linkedin Kevin McLeod

If you would like to buy my books they are available from many online outlets. Follow this link Buy my books

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