Search Results for: story cartel

My Long-Awaited Story Cartel Results

Story Cartel logoEarlier this year, I wrote about my experiences using Story Cartel, a service that connects willing reviewers with authors in need of honest reviews for their books.

I discussed my reasons for giving away my book for free and how I got more book reviews using Story Cartel.

Since the first of those posts covered my thoughts prior to trying the service, and the latter was my perspective of things as the experience was drawing to an end, I promised that I would post one final wrap-up post for those who wanted to hear the final outcome.

Unfortunately, I got busy with other subjects and never came back to pull together all the numbers that you might be interested in.

Hoping you’ll feel that it’s better late than never, I’m finally pulling that information together for you. [Read more…]

How I Got More Book Reviews Using Story Cartel

StoryCartel logoI’m often asked by my clients how to go about getting book reviews for their latest title. I have a few of my own ideas, but thought I’d open up the question to members of the Book Marketing group on LinkedIn. It was there that I learned about a site I’d never heard of before called Story Cartel. I thought you might like to hear about it too.

If you are willing to offer your book in digital form on Story Cartel for 30 days, and can offer $30 worth of Amazon gift cards for a contest, volunteers will download your book (for free), read it, post an honest book review on Amazon (and wherever else you request), notify Story Cartel of their review, and then be entered into a drawing for one of the gift cards. There are three winners (that’s why 3 are needed).

The idea intrigued me, but I wanted to make sure it was worthwhile before recommending it to my readers. [Read more…]


I thought it would be helpful to create a resource page that you can always come to for all of your book marketing needs. I’ll add to it as I learn more, and take away from it when I no longer recommend a specific tool or service or when I have another one that I’ve come to prefer.

As you read through The Plan that Launched a Thousand Books, I hope that it stirs your thoughts and gets you excited about the many possibilities there are that will enable you to market and promote your book effectively.

I recommend bookmarking this page for your reference and convenience. Enjoy!

Disclosure:  Please note that some of the links below are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase.  Please understand that I have experience with all of these companies, and I recommend them because they are helpful and useful, not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to buy something.  Please do not spend any money on these products unless you feel you need them or that they will help you achieve your goals.

My Most Recommended

If you look at nothing else on this page, these are the ones that you should know about. I find myself recommending these resources again and again, on my blog, at conferences and in interviews. I use them because they make my life easier and I’m confident you’ll agree too.

Book Like a Boss adBook Like a Boss – If you’re in a business that involves offering services, scheduling appointments, takings payments or handling reminders (and who isn’t?!), this is the best tool around. You can create a branded page on their site or configure everything there and embed it on your own site. Either way, the system is robust and the developers are responsive!
HostGator logoHostGator – The majority of my websites, and my clients’ websites, are hosted on HostGator. Why? Because their customer service is outstanding, and their cPanel is intuitive. They have a QuickInstall for WordPress that makes setting up a WordPress site quick and easy. I highly recommend using HostGator for all of your websites too. If you have multiple domains, you can install them all on a single hosting account if you’d like. Click this link and enter “AlewebAuthors” to receive a special 25% discount on your new HostGator account.
StudioPress Premium WordPress ThemesStudioPress – Unless you have a specific theme you’re just dying to use for your WordPress site, I recommend using the Genesis framework from StudioPress every single time. There are hundreds of child themes that work with Genesis that are easily customizable, and that can create an attractive site with minimal time and effort. Click this link to see what StudioPress has to offer.
Roboform adRoboform – Let’s face it… Keeping up with all of the accounts we create and the associated user names and passwords can become a real nightmare! And as you’re working to promote your book, you’ll be creating even more accounts. I have found Roboform to be the absolute best means of keeping track of all of the sites I have accounts on, as well as the specific user names and passwords I’ve used on each one. Not only do I have dozens of my own accounts,  I also manage scores of other accounts for my clients. I’d be lost without Roboform. Click this link to see how Roboform can help simplify your online life, while making it more secure.

DropBox logoDropBox – When you work with a support team of any kind (even if it’s your spouse), it’s important to have access to the most current files possible. DropBox acts as a mini private network, allowing you to store and share files and folders in a secure network that only you and those you permit can access. Click this link to learn more about how DropBox can help you.

Templates and Reading Material

Preparing to Market Your Book – This is the downloadable template that comes with your purchase of The Plan that Launched a Thousand Books. Use it to clarify your vision and message so that as you start reaching out to potential supporters and readers, you can be clear in what you’re sharing.

A.P.E. How to Publish a Book – This book by Guy Kawasaki is a great resource for anyone who has ever considered writing or publishing a book.

31 Days to Build a Better Blog – Darren Rowe of CopyBlogger Media walks you through this step-by-step guide with a new task each day that explains both the how and the why of the task, and offering further reading resources if you want to dig deeper into a specific topic.

Build a More Effective Author Website – Read through this article as you consider what you want your website to do for you, and steer away from the pitfalls the author points out.

Google Chrome Extensions

KindleSpy – Imagine being able to discover the most successful titles on Amazon today and then reverse engineering what makes them successful… Or being able to take the temperature of the reading public to find out which topics are of the most interest? KindleSpy allows you to gain sales and ranking insights into the ebooks that are selling well right now. Check out this review and demo in “Researching Killer Topics Using KindleSpy.”

Roboform – As mentioned above, I think Roboform is the best portable password keeper around. I can access it from everywhere I use the internet so that my account info and passwords are always at hand.

SpyBar – Although SpyBar is a new addition to my Resources list, it’s a great resource. You can use it to identify the theme and plugins used on any WordPress website. So if you see something you like, it’s easy to find out how they’re doing it. You can also use it to do research to determine which keywords are working for your competitors. You can learn more in this article. [New since v2.0 of The Plan.]

Website Resources

Namechk – Use Namechk to verify the availability of the domain name you’d like to use in addition to all the relevant social profiles you may want to claim. If you’re torn between two names, knowing which one you can stake the greater claim on may be the deciding factor in selecting your domain name.

GoDaddy – I recommend GoDaddy for domain registration only. I do not recommend their web hosting or websites.

HostGator – I recommend HostGator for web hosting services. As mentioned above, they have excellent customer service and their cPanel is intuitive and easy to use. Rarely, I have used HostGator for domain registrations as well, although that’s been much less frequent. No reason why… Just haven’t done things that way.

WordPress – My website tool of choice is WordPress. I prefer working with self-hosted WordPress websites (from rather than because it has all of the expandability that I could ever want for my websites.

StudioPress – As mentioned above, StudioPress creates my WordPress framework of choice. I use Genesis for most of my sites and select suitable child themes to apply from there.

Google Analytics – Once you start getting traffic to your website, make sure that you’ve put analytics in place so that you can track where visitors are coming from, and what content they seem to like the most.

Google Webmaster Tools – Webmaster Tools is a free service offered by Google that helps you monitor and maintain your site’s presence in Google Search results. You don’t have to sign up for Webmaster Tools for your site to be included in Google’s search results, but doing so can help you understand how Google views your site and optimize its performance in search results. Learning how to use it and what it means will help you to optimize your site over time.

Google Keyword Analyzer – This tool will tell you what search terms people are using, allowing you to target your content to be found in popular searches. – This site allows you to load in content or a website and it will create a word cloud of the most common words on the site. It’s the fun way to verify that you hit the keyword you were targeting.

WordPress Plugins

Backup Buddy – This plugin allows you to do complete backups or simply backup your database on whichever schedule you set. You can also use it to migrate a WordPress website from one location to another. Easy to configure and use, this plugin is an essential component of any website that I build.

vCita – An active engagement tool is a great way to get people to respond positively to your website. However, the pop-ups that are shown before a user has a chance to experience the website or that hold them hostage as they try to leave a website only serve to leave a bad taste in the visitor’s mouth. I recommend using vCita, which allows you to set the time at which a discreet pop-up appears along the edge of the screen. It doesn’t block the visitor’s ability to read, but does draw the eye because of its fluid motion.

RunClick – If you plan on using Google Hangouts to increase your visibility online through author interviews, group chats, public readings, webinars or anything else along those lines, you need to have this plugin. It costs a fraction of what other services like it does, and allows you to host the Google Hangout on your own domain (increasing “time on site,” which is good for SEO) and allows you to have users register on your site instead of elsewhere. You can also configure the plugin to send out reminder notices before your event, as well as thank you messages with a link to the replay. Really a cool tool!

Ecwid – This is the eCommerce plugin that I use. The free version of it allows you to have a storefront with up to 10 products in it, linked to your PayPal account and your favorite shipping service so that you can factor in shipping costs and receive payments. You can also specify related products, turn on social sharing so that purchasers can tell their friends about your products, and set up the automated delivery of digital products after purchase. The premium version allows you to offer discount codes and coupons, and to have more than 10 products in your store. But the free version is often sufficient enough to get started with.

MyBooks for Authors – Create beautifully formatted listings for each of your books using this plugin, along with recognizable buy links to the various online retailers where your book is sold.

Simple Google Sitemap XML – This plugin by iTx Technologies is simple to use, but serves only one purpose. It creates a sitemap and submits it automatically to Google for you. I typically use it whenever I use the All in One SEO plugin so that the combination of the two takes care of my SEO needs. The alternative is to use WordPress SEO by Yoast to replace these two, however, that plugin doesn’t submit the sitemap automatically for you. So, you’ll have to do that yourself.

WordPress SEO by Yoast – This plugin by Yoast is what I use most often. It supplanted my use of Simple Google Sitemap XML and All in One SEO because it’s so powerful. However, it does require a little more set-up than the other two do. So, it’s a trade-off between ease-of-use and power. You pick which is best for you!

All in One SEO – This plugin by Michael Torbert of Semper Fi Web Design makes it easy to manage your SEO. It’s powerful, intuitive and easy to implement. For the longest time, this was the #1 rated WordPress plugin for SEO. I often use it in combination with Simple Google Sitemap XML.


You can download and use this retweet button, courtesy of Michael Stelzner of Social Media Examiner, simply right-click on it and select “Save As…”

Retweet button from Michael Stelzner


Triberr – This site allows active bloggers to share their content with other bloggers willing to cross-promote posts to their social networks. (In other words, you post mine and I’ll post yours.) However, I recommend that you be strategic about using it. Sharing irrelevant posts with a social network that you’re trying to build as an engaged and active audience for you requires knowing what content they will value. So only join “bonfires” in Triberr whose likely content will be of benefit to your following. I also use Triberr to research bloggers who are actively reviewing books in my genre to seek out bloggers for outreach programs.

BloggerLinkUp – Looking for new content for your website? Or hoping to share your content on other sites? BloggerLinkup connects bloggers to sites who can use their content. You can use it to find actual content for your site, or to spark some ideas for what you’d like to write yourself.

E-mail Marketing Tools

MailChimp – Offer a reason for visitors to subscribe to your mailing list, whether it’s a free download, a sample chapter or a short call with you. I recommend using MailChimp to manage your mailing list needs. It’s free until you have 2,000 subscribers, which takes time, yet still offers all of the functionality and flexibility that other contact management systems so. So, why pay for one of those others systems before you really need to?

Productivity Tools

DropBox – Whether you want to share information with readers, publishers or your support team, DropBox allows you to easily and intuitively store and share files with others.

Trello – I use Trello to organize all of my projects, whether they are client projects, marketing projects or book outlines, Trello helps me keep track of all the little details that make up the whole thing. Check out “Using Trello to Manage Your Activities” to learn more.

Google Voice – Although I didn’t mention this in The Plan, I rely on Google Voice to provide my phone service. There are 3 benefits to it that appeal to me most. I live in an area with no cell reception. So, I can set it to forward calls to my home phone, computer and cell phone, allowing me to be accessible wherever I happen to be. I can also place all of my long distance calls using it, free of charge, and I can send text messages too directly from my computer. So, it saves me money. It also transcribes all voicemails and e-mails the message to me, allowing me to forward things to other people as needed. The transcriptions aren’t always great, but I can playback the recording from the same message. Being able to forward messages to others allows me to delegate tasks as necessary. – Take an audio and have it transcribed effortlessly by humans using Start at only $1/min to have your audio or video transcribed. This service is great to use when you want to repurpose content. Record a video and have it transcribed for a blog post. Record an interview, and collect a number of them to make an eBook. The possibilities are endless!

Facebook Tools

FB Lead Finder – This tool beats Facebook Search every time, hands down. If you want to find, connect with and find potential followers, you need to have this tool. With it, you can proactively find the existing Facebook pages that cater to your topic area, and then prioritize your outreach activities based on the size and activity levels of those pages. Looking for a conference to speak at? Search for it using FB Lead Finder, sort it by the pages with the largest following, and then reach out to the administrator to see if they need a speaker. There are so many ways that you can use this tool, it’s only limited by your imagination.

22Social – This Facebook app allows you to create a landing page or sales page with multiple features. First, you can set the page so that visitors have to “like” your page in order to see the content. Second, you can livestream a Google Hangout or share a replay on the page. But what makes it powerful for you, is the third point about the app. Other 22Social users can clone your page to add to their own page, thus sharing a great “guest expert” with their followers (lending prestige to them, and greater visibility to you).

Seminar Platforms and Supporting Services

RunClick – I’ve listed RunClick here again because it serves as both a dual purpose. While it is a WordPress plugin, it can replace any webinar platform you might be considering using, at a fraction of the cost. So, if you already have your own website, why send traffic to someone else’s?

InstantTeleseminar – If you need another option for hosting your webinar or teleseminar, another alternative that I’ve used and approve of is InstantTeleseminar. This is the service I used for the 2013 Survivors Summit, and it worked well and was consistently reliable. The only issue I had with it was that I was running a 3-hr per day call, and it cuts off after 2 hours and 30 minutes. So, that was a problem. But if you’re planning on sticking within that limitation, it’s a reliable service with great technical support and user documentation.

FreeConferenceCall – I have used for years. They provide my conference call number, for when I need to have a team call and don’t want to use video. I have clients who are speakers who will also use this service to record coaching calls that we can then edit and put together as a CD or MP3 product offering. They have recently added free screen sharing for up to 25 attendees, but I have not tried it yet to see how well it works. One thing to be aware of when you use the conference call feature is, it doesn’t work with some phone numbers. So, you can run into an issue where people calling it with a Google Voice number can’t actually access the call. So, when I use this, I typically use it for working within a team or doing individual recordings. I don’t use it for a large client-focused project where accessibility reflects on me.

Eventbrite – Regardless of how you’re selling tickets to your online or live event, or handling free registrations, it’s always worthwhile to add a listing to Eventbrite as well. While they do take a fee for anything sold through them, your event is added to their calendar, which generates an additional avenue of advertising for your event that has a loyal following. And being listed in the event calendar is free. Your only fees are associated with actual tickets sold through their platform. So, take the free advertising and sacrifice the pennies they charge if they handle a ticket sale for you!

Book Review Services

Story Cartel – This is a great site where authors can connect with readers who are interested in receiving a copy of your book, in exchange for an honest review and the chance to win a great prize. I often recommend that my clients start their quest for reviews here simple because you can gather multiple reviews from one campaign. Many other methods only allow you to secure a single review for your efforts. You can read a few different posts on this site about my experiences with Story Cartel here.

Readers Favorite – This site allows you to request a review from a volunteer Readers Favorite reviewer. They also offer a popular annual book award contest. It is the fastest growing book review and award contest site on the Internet, as well as being the recipient of the “Honoring Excellence” and “Best Websites for Authors” awards by the Association of Independent Authors. So, receiving a stellar review or winning award from this site has some name recognition that goes with it.

Kirkus Reviews – Kirkus has been an authoritative voice in book discovery for over 80 years. Kirkus Reviews magazine gives industry professionals a sneak peek at the most notable books being published weeks before they’re released. Given its history and authority, a good review from Kirkus could open doors for your title that no other review site could accomplish. However, there’s no guarantee that your book will be receive a positive review. So, make sure that if you pursue this opportunity, you’ve spared no effort to create the highest quality book that you are capable of.

Publishers Weekly – Publishers Weekly is a weekly news magazine focused on the international book publishing business. It is targeted at publishers, booksellers, librarians, literary agents, authors and the media. While it offers feature articles and news on all aspects of the book business, bestsellers lists in a number of categories, and industry statistics, it is best known for its pre-publication book reviews, publishing some 8,000 per year. Having your book reviewed here can be a huge boon to your sales, but only if, once again, your book is of the highest quality that you can make it.

Book Award Contests

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of awards contests out there. Some are regional, others are national or international. For many of the awards contests, your book may be suitable for entry into more than one category. If you have the budget for it, submit your book to as many categories in a contest as makes sense.

To find the ones that work for you, do a Google search. I often start with “book award submission” followed by the current year to find those that are running right now. You can narrow the search by adding your genre to the search criteria as well.

Here are some that I have firsthand experience with.

Writers’ Digest Self-Published Book Award – Writers Digest holds a number of book awards throughout the year. I just happened to submit one of my books to the 2014 Self-Published Book Award.

Readers Favorite Book Award – Now, yes, I did mention Readers Favorite in the Book Review category as well, but they also run an annual competition that’s worth looking into as well.

Interview Resources

RadioGuestList – This website allows you to subscribe to a daily digest of radio shows who are looking for guest experts. The free version sends you everything that’s been posted, while a premium version allows you to receive information about only those shows that are relevant for you.

“How to Get Radio Interviews” – This MP3 audio course put out by RadioGuestList provides you with valuable information about how to secure more interviews.

What is Google Authorship and Why Should You Care?

As content creators, we want to have our work viewed by as many eyes as possible. Getting the word out there about what we’ve written, what we’re doing, and where we’re going is important, right?

We like to think that if we create great content, Google will love us and will give us all of the credit that we’re due for being such wonderful innovators of ideas.

The sad truth is, unless you give Google a reason to know who you are, it’s not going to notice…

To put it bluntly, you are nobody to Google until you’re somebody.

Google is great at being able to judge the authority of a domain (a website) based on a number of key factors like traffic, engagement, authority, etc. However, it has no idea who you are or what you’re writing until you stand up and say “Here I am!”

That’s why they introduced the Google Authorship program. [Read more…]

7 Tips for Successfully Finding Volunteer Book Reviewers

It’s the blessing and the curse of living in an increasingly interconnected world. Finding out what other people think of things is incredibly easy. As a shopper, this is helpful. However, as an independent author, getting people to read and write book reviews is now mandatory if you want to succeed, and finding people to do that honestly can be a huge and time-consuming challenge.

Take this conversation that I started on LinkedIn, for example. I was preparing for the release of my latest book, “The Best is Yet to Come,” and decided to find out what recommendations other authors had for finding reviewers. For those who are budget-poor and time-rich, they provided some great ideas.

[Read more…]

Book Review: The Millionaire Map by Jim Stovall

The Millionaire Map by Jim Stovall, cover imageAs I was posting my own book for review on StoryCartel this weekend, I saw that Jim Stovall’s latest book, The Millionaire Map, was available for review as well. Knowing Mr. Stovall’s work from his great movie, The Ultimate Gift, and another of his books, The Lamp, I eagerly grabbed a copy, excited to read it.

Little did I realize at the time that it was exactly what I needed to read right now.

Less than 24 hours later, with 6 pages of notes by my side, I’d read all 160 pages of the book.

I found myself frequently posting quotations from it to my Facebook friends, and sending personal notes to specific friends whom I knew would benefit from reading his thoughts as well.

Mr. Stovall was hitting on the same struggles and sticking points that my friends and I have been sharing of late, and it was great to have the wisdom and insight of someone who has been where we are, leading us to where we want to go.

[Read more…]