So you can read my books

Saturday, September 20, 2014


Megan Fox wrote me, asking if I would explain how to succeed at being an eBook author. 

And after that would I mind establishing world peace?

{I live in an enchanted world. But even so that last request is a bit beyond me.}

Well, to start off:

A self-published author has beaten names including Lee Child, James Patterson and Stieg Larsson 

to become the bestselling ebook author on for the last three months of 2011.

Kerry Wilkinson, 31, self-published Locked In, the first book in his Jessica Daniel series of detective novels, last year,

only to find it shoot up the UK's Kindle charts.

 Self-published author Katie Stephens also took the fifth slot over the same period with her debut novel, Candles on the Sand.

"This time last year, I hadn't even started writing Locked In and now I have a No 1 bestselling book in the Kindle Store,

 outselling many authors that I have grown up reading," said Wilkinson.

1.) Wilkinson's Secret:

Wilkinson never approached a traditional publisher with his novel because he "didn't set out to 'be an author',"  instead aiming just to "write something I thought I would like".

"I keep chapters short and snappy because I like that.

I try not to flit between characters too much because I don't like that either.

As such, in a literary sense, I know it's not perfect - but I wasn't aiming for that. I wanted to create something I would like as a consumer," he said. 

2.) Choose the right book, the right genre and the right title:

In other words, catch the potential reader's attention!

At this stage in the digital revolution,

the successful self-published ebooks spring from popular genres, and those for which there are already big online communities –

fantasy, erotica, chick-lit, horror and crime thrillers.

Be careful with your title:

in an era of keywords, tags and search engine optimisation, it has never been more important.

3.) Don't just rely on Twitter or Facebook:

Most people who buy your book want to find out more about you and they can't find that from your Twitter feed.

A website is a sales platform, it's a marketing platform and it's a global presence if you do it right.

 A recent Verso survey estimated that barely 12% of books are discovered from social networks whereas 50% are passed on via personal recommendations.

4.) Do it professionally:

According to the survey done by The Taleist ( )

self-publishers who take the most professional approach to production – getting external help (editors, proofreaders and, especially, cover designers) –

make on average 34% more from their books.

5.) Learn from the most popular girl in high school - GIVE IT AWAY:

Everyone loves a freebie, especially online. Getting read is an obvious way to sell more copies via word of mouth –

if your book is any good.

For authors wanting to eat, giveaways should be for a limited time only ... AND FOR THE FIRST OF A SERIES


No, not erotica,

although, Megan, for you that's not a bad idea –

the print version of EL James's originally self-published Fifty Shades of Grey sold 100,000 copies in its first week in the UK,

becoming the fastest-selling book that year.

Kerry Wilkinson's day job involves web journalism

but his success, he insists, was the same as any book throughout history:

 his book found an audience via word-of-mouth.

"The truth is, there is no magic wand.

Regardless of anyone who tries to flog you a 'How to sell a million books' guide,

it is the dirty secret no one will share – a lot of it is luck."

So there all of us are: on the shore of the ocean of possibilities.  The decisions are yours alone.

Make them wise ones.


  1. I'm still searching for that luck. Great article.

  2. Many successful ebooks are writing to a specific market (Twilight, 50 Shades, etc.) regardless of the rhetoric the authors publish afterwards (why I wrote this book). Currently, many focus on YA and NA as that's what's selling - a pity for literature's sake. How many will last or be discussed in education? Only time will tell, but I have my doubts.

    There are certain genres that will always sell, especially for those that want a quick read and doesn't make them think too much.

  3. Mary:
    Aren't we all. It is all a matter of a random chance meeting of our work with the right observer.

    Like with KIM, I write my YA for all ages. A YA book that an adult cannot enjoy is not truly a novel at all.

    I shoot to make each of my novels something that could be studied by an English class and still enjoyed by all the students.

    I might not hit the mark. But I try. :-)

  4. With all the literary references and research that goes into your novels, Roland, yours were not what I had in mind re my comment.

    Are you referring to your Victor novels as YA? I could see your Egyptian tales with all the intertwined history surviving well in a discussion class and they would also introduce past literary greats to future students.

  5. D.G.:
    Yes, Victor is my YA KIM with all the historical and literary allusions.

    I'm glad you think McCord in all his adventures would make for good classroom discussions. :-)

    I think I may have pink eye. Rats!

  6. Hi Roland .. great post - writing something that you think the consumer will appreciate and produce the book professionally ... all your points make sense.

    If you have pink eye - at least it can be cured relatively easily .. take care and if possible (unlikely) don't overwork it?!

    Cheers Hilary

  7. Hilary:
    Now, to find the time to go to the doctor! Until then, tears, blurred vision in one eye, pain, and other fun stuff! I'm glad you liked my post. It's hard to write with one eye betraying me!

  8. I'm happy for Kerry. I'm thrilled he's been successful. I'm even happy for EL James as long as I'm not forced to read her books. Anyone who can make it in publishing deserves our applause and attention.

    I do, however, wish there was some evidence that a market exists for well-written, original stories. Not because that's how I perceive my own work—I don't—but because those are the books I like to read.

    Do you think it's significant that both Kerry and EL are British? Perhaps Brits talk more about books (word of mouth) than Americans do.

    VR Barkowski

  9. First establish world peace, Roland, then you can have Megan Fox.

    Reading about other writers' self-publishing success both inspires and frustrates me. For all the logical good advice and facts, sometimes wild success really does just seem the result of pure luck.

  10. VR:
    Last I checked, over 1000 ebooks are published monthly! How to stand out in that motley crowd?!

    I believe you are right: the British are more into reading than we are it seems, and they like to chat up their favorite books more, too.

    It seems a losing battle. Also books of substance seem so few and far between. It seems only flashy cotton candy books are popular these days.

    For establishing world peace, I would demand a date with Cate Blanchett -- but her spoilsport husband would object I bet!!

    Basically, it seems mostly luck and being "discovered" by the right source, doesn't it? Sigh.

    I am so happy you enjoyed my little post. I try to help my friends! :-) Thanks for visiting my little cyber-home!