Thursday, 28 May 2009

BubbleCow blog has moved

The BubbleCow blog has moved here:

It is now part of the main BubbleCow site. Those following on RRS feed should have already seen the change. If not you can subscribe to our feed here:

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Buy the book - get the audio and digital for free!

The debate surrounding book publishing and the use of technology is already a few years old and looks set to rumble on for a number of years yet. It is still unclear what role, if any, digital eReaders will play and if third-party devices such as the Iphone/Ipod will have a significant say in the market. Products such as Stanza are making the delivery of digital material easier and it seems clear that the market place is open to new ideas.

One aspect of the argument that does seem settled is that book selling is starting to become less about the format (paper vs digital) and more about the content. It is also clear that choice is becoming key. It has been debated that the future will involve a reader opting to consume their book in a number of formats switching between digital and traditional as their circumstances change.

This is where US publishers Thomas Nelson come into the picture. CEO Michael Hyatt (@MichaelHyatt) has openly championed the experiment of providing multiple formats. This month Andrew Andrew’s The Noticer has been made available in a traditional paper version with the audio and pdf being given away for free.

This is what the site says:

For a limited time only, buy Andrew Andrews' new book The Noticer and receive $76.96 worth of FREE products

It's this simple:
• May 1–20 Purchase The Noticer from or your favorite book retailer
• Fill in the information below to download FREE audio and e-book formats, including E-Pub, PDF, and the Kindle-compatible MobiPocket*
*You will need your copy of The Noticer in hand to access the downloads.

Michael Hyatt insists that if the experiment is successful then this is a model that will be used more regularly by Thomas Nelson.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Four things you can do today to sell more books

  1. Put an extract of your book on your blog/website/Facebook page/platform of your choice.
  2. Ask ten high profile writer bloggers if they would like a free review copy of your book, then send them out.
  3. Arrange three email interviews with fellow bloggers and talk about how you wrote your book, but remember not to make the interview into a sales pitch. It’s more important to be interesting and give the reader something of value.
  4. Run a competition on your blog giving away a free copy of your book. The more creative the competition the more people that will enter, but remember to keep it simple.
Similar articles:

The power of the email interview
How writers can promote their books online using free social media tools
How writers can use the Internet

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Why AmazonEncore matters

A lot has been written about the publishing industry and the role of new technology. My view is that the system is broken. No longer is a publisher needed to stump up huge amounts of cash and expertise to get books into bookshops. Technology and social media has given writers the ability to bring their own books to the market without the help of publishers. It is now possible for a writer to make their book available to a worldwide audience, at a very low cost, and hundreds (if not thousands) of ‘fans’ can buy that book without a mainstream publisher ever being involved.

I recently spoke to an industry insider about this very topic and he said, “What they [publishers] really want is for social media and self-publishing to go away and for things to be like they were 10+ years ago.” This is great news for the writer. I truly believe we are on the edge of a revolution. We are seeing a shift in publishing power away from the big publishers and into the hands of readers and writers. However, publishers will still have a role to play, though this will be more editorial. However, it seems that Amazon are the only people that can really see what is happening.

This week Amazon released AmazonEncore.
AmazonEncore is a new program whereby Amazon will use information such as customer reviews on to identify exceptional, overlooked books and authors with more potential than their sales may indicate. Amazon will then partner with the authors to re-introduce their books to readers through marketing support and distribution into multiple channels and formats…
What?!? Amazon will use the most sophisticated model of reader’s book buying habits ever known to man to identify books that have been overlooked by the mainstream publishers! And by this they mean self published books.

And!?! Amazon will put the weight of their worldwide business behind promoting these books to a wider market.

My God they get it!

Monday, 18 May 2009

Hits and tips for twittering to more than 100 followers

Twitter is great. It provides a platform to link with like minded people and when used correctly can boost your book sales/business/website hits/blog visits. However, the basic Twitter page is hopeless once you top more than about 100 followers. The solution is to find yourself a Twitter Client. My client of choice is TweetDeck.

The key to large scale twittering is the realisation that no matter how much you try you simply can't give every one of your followers your full attention. Instead you must stay focused on the people that offer you the most value. The tool that allows this to happen (for me) is Tweet Deck.

Once you have TweetDeck installed and up and running here are some hints and tips at becoming an effective twitterer to more than 100 followers:

Using Groups

THE best feature of Tweetdeck is the ability to create groups. Automatically created is a group called All Friends. The biggest problem that you face when dealing with large groups of twitterers is keeping an eye on the tweets that are useful to you and this is where a skilful use of grouping comes in handy.

On my tweet deck I have these groups:


This contains people I am following who themselves have more than 5000 followers. A mention in the twitter stream of one of these big boys can earn you loads of followers.


This group contains all the people I follow whose tweets I comment on regularly. I like to keep these all in one place and give them the most attention.


These are people who I follow and find interesting. They will have less then 5000 followers and will not have been promoted to the commentable group.


Here I put all the twitterers I follow who have a local link.

Replies and Direct Messages

These groups are created automatically and house all those juicy @replies and DMs.

Using search

Tweetdeck makes it possible to set up a few groups based on search terms and this can be very handy. I have one with the term BubbleCow. This means anyone mentioning BubbleCow will appear in the group. This can be very handy.

Dipping into All Friends

I like to spend ten or fifteen minutes each day looking through my All Friends stream. If anything catches my eye I simply promote them to Interesting.

The power of the @reply

One criteria I use for moving followers from the All Friends group to Interesting is an @reply. If a follower ReTweets one of my tweets or takes the time to @reply to me I automatically promote them, after all it is active twitterers who I am looking to spend my time following closely.

This is just how I use Tweetdeck and I hope it will give you a few ideas. However, one thing I would like to drive home is that I am not the only person using Twitter this way. One of the keys to building a good twitter following is to know your audience, know what they want and try and make your tweets as valuable to them as possible.

So are you using Tweetdeck? I would love to hear any of your tips and tricks.

Related posts:

A writer's guide to Twitter

Twitter's @reply error

Friday, 15 May 2009

Twitter's @reply error

This week Twitter imposed a change to the way their system operated. In a nutshell they decided that when you Tweeted a message that started with an @reply, this message would only be seen by your followers who also followed the person the message was aimed at.

So what you might ask...

Well it now means that a well known twitter tactic of engaging in a conversation that a wider audience may find interesting is now more difficult. It means that the followers to the person with whom you are conversing will not see your @replies - in essence you are invisible to them. So no more curious twitterers getting involved in a conversation, and this is surely a step backwards.

One solution is to make sure that you never ever start a tweet with the @ symbol. Personally I am going for a . @reply.

Any thoughts?

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Free Online Writing Courses

In recent years the UK has seen a marked rise in the phenomena that is the post graduate Creative Writing degree. Almost every major British University now has an MA in Creative Writing with such prestigious authors as Martin Amis, Carol Ann Duffy and Simon Armitage all holding teaching positions. Yet the MA is not the most suitable route for many writers and during the same time period we have seen the rise of online writing courses.


There are a number of companies offering online courses for a range of fees.

Writing Classes (the highest ranking hit when I googled online creative writing courses) charge £150 for a ten week course. They say:

All our creative writing courses run for ten weeks (a free familiarisation week + nine conferences). During each conference participants read online notes, complete writing assignments and are encouraged to appraise each other's work.

This is pretty typical.


In addition to paid courses there is a growing band of free online courses.

Here are some examples I came across:

Creative Writing 101

Writing what you know (Open University)

Start writing fiction (Open University)

Approaching prose fiction (Open University)

What is poetry? (Open University)

Approaching poetry (Open University)

What is good writing? (Open University)

Introduction to Fiction (MIT)

Writing and Reading the Essay (MIT)

Steven Barnes' Free Writing Class

Three English courses from Yale

Publishing Poetry

Cleaning Your Copy

Proofreading Your Writing

Basic Grammar Skills

Conquering the Comma


So has anyone had experience of these online course? Worth the money/time?