Sunday, February 24, 2013

Book Review: Building an Author Platform That Can Launch Anything by Toby Neal

I hope.

That’s the last line from Stephen King’s wonderful novella Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption. It also happens to be my favorite line in all of English literature. Those are the words of an ex-convict who has spent his entire adult life behind bars, where hope was a scarce commodity indeed. He is paroled near the end of the story, and with that freedom comes the pure joy of finally looking forward to a future that seems infinitely brighter than his past.

Today’s publishing industry has bred an entire generation of writers who have also spent years in a prison of sorts. For the longest time the seemingly impregnable gates of the big publishing companies admitted only the fortunate few. Millions of novel manuscripts lay hidden away in dark drawers. The authors had little hope their words would ever see the light of day.

Then along came ebooks, print-on-demand, and the publishing tour de force that is Amazon. Suddenly there was hope. Anyone could polish off that book, apply a bit of formatting, click a few Amazon website buttons, and kazam … they had the book live and for sale within hours.

That’s quite a happy ending, right?

Except it isn’t, not for most of those newly liberated writers. According to the New York Times, the vast majority of self publishers never sell more than 100 to 150 books. Even truly talented indie authors who produce professional quality work often struggle to be found amidst a deluge of inexpensive books.

“Go online then,” became the battle cry, “that’s where the readers are.” So authors flocked to Facebook and Twitter in an effort to be heard. Unfortunately most authors find their social network marketing efforts have little discernable impact on sales. There are only so many times you can tweet ”My book is great – you should buy it” before the people on the other end of that seller / consumer relationship simply tune out the message.

All of which leaves a legion of authors feeling imprisoned and hopeless once again, only this time due to the difficulties of standing out among 2 million+ competitive titles offered by Amazon.

But just like the select few authors who found a way past the doors of the big publishing houses, another small group has cracked the code for what it takes to succeed in a big way as an indie author. Toby Neal is one such success story.

Toby's journey into publishing began like most indie authors. She wrote the best book she could, made it available to the world, and hoped it would catch on. And catch on it did. After months of respectable sales and gathering deservedly great reviews, Toby ran a promotion that resulted in 45,000 downloads and pushed Blood Orchids into the number one Kindle Free spot on Amazon. She was able to attract the attention of large numbers of people who were interested in a delightful police procedural mystery set in beautiful Hawaii.

She followed this success by releasing three more entries in the Lei Crime series. All four of these wonderful mysteries currently have Amazon sales ranks that would be the envy of most indie authors. Each is ranked in the top 100 in various Amazon sales categories.

How did she accomplish all this? Well that’s where I can offer the best piece of good news yet, because she wrote it all down in a book entitled Building an Author Platform That Can Launch Anything.

And here’s an even better piece of news. Every step of her success story is repeatable. You can do this. You don’t have to hope that you’ve written the perfect book. You don’t have to hope to get lucky and catch some mystical trend of book buyer desire at just the right time. You do, however, have to download this book and follow her advice. Believe me, for only 99 cents this is one of the best investments in your writing career you will ever make.

Toby Neal reveals a solid strategy for developing valuable online relationships with large numbers of reading fans, whom she calls Book Lovers. She explains the principles on which this strategy is based, which actually have a solid foundation in social psychology.

Here’s an example. She suggests authors should build online relationships with Book Lovers by first being good citizens and injecting value. The example I gave above – ”My book is great – you should buy it” – doesn’t do this. It’s a straight sales pitch at too early a point in the relationship.

Think about another seller / consumer relationship in which most of us have been involved, that of a young man trying to sell a young lady on the idea of going out with him. Let’s suppose his approach is to swagger up to each new girl he meets and immediately say, “I’m great – you should go out with me.”

You’re wincing, right? Most of the time he’s going down in flames, and I’m being gentle with the word ‘most.’ He’d be better off to simply be himself for a while with the new girl, give her a chance to discover for herself that he has some qualities she admires. Then when he gets around to asking her out with humble confidence, there’s a better chance she’ll be inclined to say yes.

It’s the same with potential book buyers. Authors today have an amazing opportunity to interact in a wide variety of online forums. The trick is to do so in such a way that shows you’re willing to support others, rather than always asking people to do something for you.

How do you accomplish that? You get yourself a copy of Toby Neal’s book and follow her advice. I found I was already following several of her principles, but she still pointed out plenty of ideas that hadn’t occurred to me. I’ve started applying her tips and I’m already enjoying the results.

Toby Neal’s advice on building an author platform is authoritative and specific. She describes exactly what you should be doing if you want to achieve the kind of Amazon sales success she is currently enjoying.

Thanks in part to Toby’s book, I no longer feel imprisoned by today's fiercely competitive market. Instead, I find I am excited about the future. In the words of Stephen King, ‘I think it is the excitement only a free man can feel, a free man starting a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain.’

I hope I can apply the principles from Toby Neal’s book with the same professionalism and class she has demonstrated.

I hope I can offer something valuable to each and every new online friend I meet.

I hope readers will continue to enjoy my work.

I hope.

Next Week: Drop by to learn all the details of Andrew’s upcoming Reader Appreciation Promotion, during which Amazon top-rated thriller Unauthorized Access will be available FREE for three days.

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Sunday, February 17, 2013

Unauthorized Access

Unauthorized Access is a fast-paced romp reminiscent of the early works of John Grisham. Think of the movie The Fugitive with Harrison Ford, or The Firm with Tom Cruise – that's the type of suspenseful action you can expect from Unauthorized Access.

The idea for this book came to me one day when I was listening to an Internet security expert being interviewed on public radio. “Can you imagine what would happen,” he said, “if someone managed to take down the computer systems at a bank?” Well that remark got me imagining exactly that.

Unauthorized Access tells the story of Rob Donovan and Lesley McGrath, a recently engaged young couple living in Boston. Rob receives an emergency call from his boss at the First Malden Bank after the first successful cyberattack in American banking history scrambles thousands of account records. First Malden’s survival is on the line as furious customers and voracious reporters descend on the bank. Rob is part of the team trying to fix the damage, until the FBI charges him with the crime and brings his world crashing down. Facing prison time for Rob and the loss their future together, the couple’s only chance of reclaiming their lives lies in cutting through a web of mistrust and betrayal to uncover the startling truth behind the attack.

5-Star Reviews for Unauthorized Access

“From the minute you start this book, you’re in it until it’s over. You’ll be hooked.”

    – Jacqui Brown, author of Dancing With The Devil

“Andrew McAllister is a master of suspense. If you haven’t taken a break before the middle, forget it - you won’t want to put it down.”

    – Ella Medler, author of Blood Is Heavier

“I literally devoured this book.”
    – RenĂ©e-Ann Giggie, author of Stella’s Plea

“An excellent debut thriller that will have you reading spellbound to the end.”
    – Linda Hall, author of Steal Away

Available now in paperback and Kindle e-book from

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Housework Harmony: How to End the Chore Wars so You Both Win

Housework Harmony is a relationship guide for couples who find themselves stressed or resentful about how they share their domestic workload. This book is scheduled to be published during the second quarter of 2013.

Many surveys over several decades have revealed that housework is consistently among the most contentious topics in many homes. As far as stress inducers go, doing the dishes is right up there with money, sex, and in-laws. For example, one study involving 148 American couples found that 94 percent of couples fight about domestic work sharing and 73 percent quarrel often. S.C. Johnson & Son surveyed 2,000 people in 2011. They found that 57% of women are dissatisfied with the amount of support their man provides around the house.

That’s a whole lot of momma not being happy, which means millions of guys are also feeling the pain.

The feedback I’ve received from hundreds of To Love, Honor, and Dismay readers echoes these survey results in a big way. This online forum features discussions on a wide variety of relationship issues. Posts about household work sharing result in some of the most spirited reader feedback. Here are a few typical comments:

  • “I can only get my husband to do two chores: folding laundry and taking out the garbage. Sometimes he feels more like a roommate than a husband.”
  • “We have CONSTANT stress in our house over housework issues.”
  • “Usually when I ask for help around the house, I get a positive response, but he tends to say ‘Sure I’ll help, but I’ll have to get to it later.’ *sigh* Of course, later never arrives.”
Many couples become resigned to the idea that their chore wars will never be resolved no matter what they do. “I stopped asking my husband for help,” one reader wrote. “He’s a wonderful man and he works hard at his job, but we would always fight over the housework. Now I don’t ask.”

I take the view that both husbands and wives are dramatically affected by this tension, and both of you could use some relief. Furthermore, any solution will only be effective if it goes far beyond simply getting the floor mopped with a minimum of bloodletting. The larger issue at stake here is your relationship. Let me explain why.

Ladies, when you can’t get him to pitch in with what you see as his fair share of the effort, does that make you feel all warm and cuddly inside? Is that the moment when you just want to grab him and kiss him and tell him he’s the most wonderful man in the world?

Right. Not hardly.

And guys, when she’s making it crystal clear for the thousandth time that she’s dissatisfied with your performance around the house, does that make you want to rush out and buy something sparkly for her? And perhaps even more to the point, does that make you want to do nice things for her … like, I don’t know, folding that load of laundry she’s been talking about?

Uhhhhh... no. Probably not.

And what are the cumulative effects of the two of you feeling this way over and over again, day after day, year after year? Does this bring the two of you closer together? Or does it drive an emotional wedge between you? For many couples the answer is probably not what you want. The good news, though, is that changing the dynamic between the two of you can reverse this situation in a big way. Housework Harmony will show you how to accomplish exactly that.

Stay tuned for further announcements as the publication date draws closer.

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