How to Get the Best #Indie Books on Amazon

KindleAnyone who has ever browsed independently published ebooks on Amazon will know the daunting, overpoweringly vast range of books available.  Every so often you stumble across an excellent book, a true treasure, but we’ve all wasted lots of time wading through a great many poor books too. With so much out there, it’s hard to find the good stuff.

Some indy authors do very well but the vast majority, including some excellent authors, remain completely undiscovered by almost all readers. If only there was some reliable way to sort the good stuff from the bad stuff!

The thing is, there IS a way to solve this and it’s very effective. Most authors find only around 1% of readers leave a review/rating on Amazon. Everyone knows that the first 3-5 people who review a novel are probably friends and relatives of the author, so we all ignore those. The problem for authors who only have a few dozen readers is that no-one trusts the very few (if any) reviews they have.

If every reader left a review for every single indy book they read – even just a sentence will do – then all indy authors would get many, many more reviews and suddenly review scores would be statistically vastly more accurate. Those great authors with very few readers would begin to properly stand out from the crowd and all readers would benefit from reliable opinions.

It only takes a few seconds to leave a review and it is one of the best ways to say thank you to an author. Telling him/her how good his/her novel is is a very nice thing to do, but leaving a review on Amazon is a much more powerful way to say thank you.

If a book has hundreds of reviews, you can be much more sure that the average score is a more accurate measure of the book’s quality.

What to do when your technology guesses are disproved?

Technology in Astronomicon: The BeginningTechnology is always a pain for writers of hard science fiction. We need it, a lot of it and often it is key to the storyline. Like most hard sci-fi writers I put a lot of time and effort into researching science and technology to make as accurate a guess at the future as I can. Sometimes we get it right but, often, we get it wrong.

Time is our enemy. The more time passes the more science and technology advance, leaving our best, educated guesses in danger of being proved wrong.

I wrote Astronomicon: The Beginning something like 20 years ago and much of the technology I included has held up well. Some things, however, have not. Now, this isn’t usually much of a problem because the vast majority of readers take the age of the book into account. The same goes for movies; who stops watching Blade Runner because it completely missed mobile phones or in 2017 (Blade Runner is set just two years from now) we simply don’t have flying cars?

My situation is a little different and becoming increasingly awkward. I’m in the process (and it’s a LONG process) of rewriting the first novel in the Astronomicon series in a serious attempt to bring it up to my current level of writing an correct the flaws in my technology predictions. Being the first in the series, I can’t just get rid of it or write it off as not worth the effort. It’s how many readers get into my universe and simply must be representative of the other novels.

The Elysian, the main spacecraft in the story, will undergo a complete design change to bring it into sync with the much improved and more realistic version currently used in Behemoth. That will have a significant impact on the book, mostly in terms of descriptions and character navigation. Nothing fatal there. Some of the minor characters will change a little and gain some depth. Again, nothing fatal. Things get awkward with the technology used to communicate with Earth. When I planned the novel over two decades ago, I went for Quantum Entanglement as the medium but now we know that just would not work.

The problem is, there just isn’t any viable way to communicate between stars without being limited by that pesky speed of light restriction. That makes a big chunk of the plot completely impossible. So, when I rewrite the book, do I keep in a chain of events which cannot be justified, maybe by making up some fantasy technology (which is hardly hard sci-fi) or do I rip out the relevant chunks of the story and then attempt to come up with some other idea as a reason for the characters wanting to do what they do? As I write this, neither option seems like a good solution.

Top 6 social media platforms for #writers

Having spent a few years trying out a whole range of writing communities and general social media and networking platforms, I believe I’ve isolated those that are worthwhile and dropped a huge number that are a waste of time. I realise that we’re never going to all agree on these and that some people are better suited for some than others, but here are my results in reverse order:


#6 GoodReads

Still struggling with this one but it is the second biggest author community out there. I find the reviews can be a little unhelpful – it’s one of only two places where I’ve received any negative reviews with no attempt at being constructive, but still mostly friendly and helpful. I don’t like the forums here and have never felt like part of the community. Worth adding all your books here. If you make any decent headway, please let me know how you did it! Visit GoodReads.


#5 Facebook

This one is only on the list because everyone would think I was crazy if I didn’t. I have to admit I just don’t get on with Facebook. The interface is confusing, cluttered and unintuitive. In all the years I’ve been there, I’ve gathered just 9 followers. That’s about 3000 times less than Wattpad and not much more than a third of my Minds following (and I’ve only been there a few weeks).  I keep persevering with Facebook but it’s not been of any benefit for me. Visit Facebook.


 #4 Google+

I know many people would rate this one higher but it’s been problematic for me. For the first few months, it worked and I got on with it very well. I gathered lots of followers and seemed to be doing well then it all died. I’ve only gained about 20 followers (yes I know the jargon is “20 people added me to their circles”) in the last 6 months, but I’m still trying to make headway there. Visit Google+.


#3 Minds

This one is very much the new kid on the estate and it’s probably too early to say if this one is going to be a hit, but their interface is great and the social aspect of the community works very well. The writing community is only a small subsection but it is only just starting out and growing fast every day. Activities in the community such as posting or voting gain you boost points, you even get 50 points per hour just for visiting. These points can then be used to boost your points – great for your next big book launch or competition! Visit Minds.


#2 Twitter

Twitter is simply massive. Everyone’s heard of it and (almost) everyone is on it. Better still, unlike some more restrictive social networks, it’s easy (and totally permitted) to have more than one profile there. You can have a personal account, an author account and some authors even have accounts for their main characters too! The main drawback with Twitter is that there’s too much activity and once you’re properly engaged in the community you’ll receive far more tweets than you can read. However, follow the right people and it’s a great way to find out about publishing opportunities, writing competitions and lots more, all while connecting with a few readers along the way. Visit Twitter.


#1 Wattpad

I really wish I’d discovered this year years earlier. Excellent site for connecting with a simply colossal number of readers as well as other authors. Highly active and friendly community with forums, competitions, rankings and a comprehensive comments systems. I’ve made more contacts here than anywhere else and it’s a great place to get feedback on your writing. Visit Wattpad.


No doubt I will be adding more to this list in future and, of course, I will rename the post accordingly. If you have any suggestions for writing communities or similar that I might not have tried yet, please add them to the comments below. In the meantime, I hope this list is useful to you.

Chasing the Horizon

SunsetMeasuring your progress in life is important. With the right mindset, it can provide the impetus to drive you forward to achieve your dreams and aims. Lots of people will tell you that having targets is key to the success of any project, any person. The problem with targets is they can, and do, complete distort your perception of where you are.

As an author, my original first target was to write a book, actually complete the whole thing. Like many wannabe authors, I’d started a few, but actually finishing a book is a big step and an important target. Achieving that was a world-changing moment for me. Suddenly, I could tell people I had written a book and was now working on another one.

After finishing one book, my target became finishing the next. However this time, with the confidence of knowing for sure that I was able to finish a book, it took me about one-tenth of the time. About this time, I published my first novel on Amazon and this, in turn, led to my first sales. Book sales put a whole different spin on my targets.

This was about the time that I got into Twitter and Google+ and then, much later, Wattpad and a few other sites. My first target on Wattpad was 1000 followers. It only took a couple of weeks for me to scale that back to 100 instead. Months went by and I struggled to hit double figures. Determined to make a go of it – it is after all the biggest fiction community on the web – I kept posting my chapters and short stories. Eventually, my follower count began to climb and I hit my 1000 target. That made me up my target to 2000.

That all seems logical and sensible, but there’s a problem. After enjoying my 1000 followers achievement for about a day, I now faced the mountainous task of doubling that. In time I achieved that and felt good about it, but that enjoyment was soon replaced by the daunting task of achieving 5000 followers. I recently passed 10,000 followers. That was great, BUT, now it’s just become another thing I’ve done and I’m looking at 20,000 as my next aim.

3 Astronomicon NovelsBack when I began this journey, I truly believed that 10,000 followers on any system would have proved that I was a successful author, that I mattered in the online fiction community and that readers would be buying my books by the hundred. But here I am with six novels completed (five of which are on Amazon), 10,800 Wattpad followers, 10,500 Twitter followers, 2100 Google+ followers, 6 Facebook followers (Never cracked FB!) and I’m still not remotely successful, know lots of people who are doing MUCH better than me and I’m probably still years away from my book sales covering my mortgage repayments.

So after all this work, all this progress and meeting so many targets, I’m still not where I thought I would be and that’s a little depressing. Sometimes it feels like no matter how much I progress and how many targets I hit, I’m still not getting anywhere. Like the horizon, no matter how far you travel, it’s still far ahead of you.

Anyway, you don’t get anywhere without determination, so I will press on, somehow get to my next targets and keep chasing that horizon.