Overcoming Obstacles for Indie Writers: Reviews and Ad Campaigns

woman on top of mountain

E-Book Success is Not as Easy as 1-2-3

On your path to e-book sales, there are many obstacles to overcome. For the longest time, my prime obstacle to achieving consistent sales was getting book reviews. Maybe you can understand that. Thanks to a fairly new platform called Pubby, that obstacle is now crumbling in my wake, thank the good Lord.

I covered Pubby in the previous post, so here I’m only going to update it real quick and add some new discoveries to help you discover its benefits.

After enjoying the initial 10 day free trial, I then paid for a month of Pubby Pro, $24.99. Of the 4 monthly options, this was the only one of value to me. It allows you to submit up to 10 books on the platform. In just under 3 weeks, I’ve submitted 6 books and received a total of 18 reviews: 13 Five Star and 5 Four Star reviews.


When clicking the Get Reviewed button, you can also pay an extra 300 snaps to receive what Pubby calls 5 Star Rating Protection. If you hit this, Pubby will search for readers most likely (based on their reviews and genres) to give your book a 5 star rating.

I did this for a book where I had one review, a 4 star bugger, hoping to boost its overall rating. This option takes a smidge longer, but it seems to work. After waiting an extra few days, my book was picked up, read, and 5 Star reviewed.

You’ll have to read and review more books if you want enough snaps to keep doing this, but it seems a useful option if you have a book that consistently earns 4 stars and you wish to boost it a bit.

By God’s grace and the wonderful gifts of readers on Pubby, 2 of my books have received consistent 5 star ratings, W.A.N.D. and Lotteryman, without using this extra rating protection. So perhaps it depends on your book?

Two points you should know before signing up for Pubby subscription:

  1. Pubby seems to be a fairly new platform, and not many people are yet aware of it, so it’s slim pickings here, folks. You’ll have to review some ‘clearly new’ writers to earn snaps. And because the membership has not yet grown to huge numbers, it occasionally requires extra time for your submitted book to be picked up. (My books are usually picked up by a reader within 24 hours of submitting to be reviewed.)
  2. Membership can be a mite costly for any writer wishing to receive reviews for more than 2 books.

The good news is, once you’ve received reviews, and Amazon posts them a few days later, they remain online—and your profile, reviews and submitted books remain in storage on the Pubby site, even if you leave it! So if you run low on dough, and need it for food and toilet paper, you can close out your subscription month and return later when you have some more moula, and all your info is still there!

Now for the nitty-gritty hard truth.

Your next obstacle is even tougher, believe it or not. After an initial boost in sales, even with a few reviews, your books might not sell. Furthermore, even with a few reviews and AMS ad campaigns running, you still might not make sales enough to keep you in coffee.

As I am a ‘working writer’, meaning one who is learning this along with his fellow indie authors/editors/publishers, I will be updating when I have successful updates to share.

It worked for reviews. I’m finally earning them, for every book I submit to Pubby, and mostly excellent, blessed reviews they are. Not a pro, but finally I’m not an amateur in this indie area either.

Concerning ad campaigns, I am currently in the learning stage. You need to excel in 3 areas to succeed with your ad campaigns:

  1. Impressions
  2. Clicks (or click-through-rate)
  3. Conversions

If you’re not getting many impressions—meaning thousands over the first 10 days—then you don’t have enough keywords and key phrases. Don’t forget to include author names as keywords. Most of my clicks have come from these Search Terms.

Use comparable authors as keywords!

If you are getting impressions aplenty but not many clicks, then readers probably aren’t appreciating your book cover or Ad Copy.

In the ‘sponsored products’ line on Amazon, I noticed that my W.A.N.D. cover, though decent,  stood out as very different looking. So I created a new one, conforming to the look of other YA fantasy book covers. Hate conforming!

Now I’m getting a snotload of impressions and plenty of clicks.

That’s 2 more obstacles down on this one’s journey to sales!

Unfortunately, I’m not converting these clickers into buyers once they reach my book page. This is not good, as it not only means no sales, but it costs me every time someone clicks my ad and goes to my book page.


Scrubs 'I Can't Believe Your Head Exploded..' GIF | Gfycat

If you have encountered this issue, pros like Kindlepreneur suggest the problem lies with your book description. I edited this for W.A.N.D. and, after recently altering my book cover, I am now waiting to see if the sales will start trickling in like the initial run.

Do check out Kindlepreneur’s free video covering this issue, here.


If you’re current obstacle is getting book reviews, I would suggest hooking up with Pubby. It’s a sure, financially doable step. Get the free 10 day trial, and then pick your subscription method based on your needs. If you only have 1 or 2 books that need reviewing, do the $12.99 Personal sub monthly fee. It’s worth it. Use the following code to get 15% off your first month!


A few facts concerning book reviews:

  • Readers (potential customers) are unlikely to buy a book with no reviews
  • Readers might buy a book with a few reviews
  • Readers are likely to buy a book with more than 10 reviews, if they like the genre, book cover, and description

The more I learn, the more I share, and if you are a fellow indie struggler, I hope you’ve found some useful tidbit here today. Never lose your hope. Now go get those reviews you’ve earned!

schwarzenegger giving thumbs up

The Best Way to Get Book Reviews–For Free

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I am psyched to share this fantastic opportunity with you.

Getting book reviews doesn’t have to be a major struggle anymore.

By the grace of God I’ve stumbled on a platform designed solely to help indie authors get reviews for their books. These reviews are free and posted on Amazon. The site, Pubby, was cleverly crafted to circumvent Amazons bewildering review policies:

(1) It is not a social network (2) You do not interact with anyone on the platform (3) You do not exchange books for reviews; in fact, authors are not allowed to review the books of someone who has reviewed theirs, and most importantly (4) You do not pay for reviews.

Let me clarify: You sign up for Pubby with a 10 day free trial, and then you either close out, or you pay a subscription fee (I know, it sounded too good to be true, but it is worth it–just read on, you’ll see for yourself), and continue collecting reviews.

Pubby has 4 different ‘plans’ for authors, with successive plans being a smidge more:

Prelaunch, where you get customer service and can review other books but not upload your own, is $3.99 a month. Personal, where you can upload 2 books, costs $12.99 month. Pro, you can upload 10 books and pay $24.99 a month (this is the one I’m going with). Press, where you can upload unlimited # of books and it will cost you . . . a lot. If you have to ask, you can’t afford it. Each sign up gives you a signing bonus of 1200 snaps. Like the MLB.

girl covering another girls mouth

This is how it works, all straightforward:

You upload your book(s). This takes about 5 minutes per book, and Pubby will approve it and make it live usually within 4-8 hours. You must upload a doc. or PDF of your manuscript. I would suggest encrypting it, or password protecting it through Acrobat, just because not everyone is a saint.

The book uploading Questionnaire requires descriptions, sections asking why customers will like this book, a section for comparisons, and a spot for you to paste in your favorite passage from your book. Upload your cover and hit SUBMIT. Wham-bam you’re done.

Now, while your book is being submitted and uploaded, you can go to the left-hand dashboard to the READER section and click FIND A BOOK. Pubby will offer a small selection of books for you to review. If you don’t wish to pay to download a book to review, you can FILTER the selection by hitting the FREE checkbox to the right. You’ll be shown a small medley of often obvious newbie writers, but there are a few professional quality books, and I enjoy reviewing these.

Hover over the one you might like, click READ. By doing this you agree to review the book. (There is an opt-out available, if you just don’t care for the book and don’t wish to leave a bad review, but I think this costs you your snaps).

Tying the ‘agree to read’ with the ‘agree to review’ is a good thing. It means only people who want to read your book will review your book. No needle exchange here. This is what I love about Pubby. It was created specifically to help indie authors get reviews, authors who have been struggling to circumvent Amazon’s increasingly difficult review policies.

While honing my skills in every other aspect of writing and self-publishing and all that, getting reviews has always been a major hurdle for me. My friends are not big readers, and in my family only my younger brother helps with my writing career. And anyway, Amazon doesn’t accept family reviews.

SNAPS! Now, each time you agree to read—and thus review—a book, you receive snaps. Depending on the length of the book, you’ll earn anywhere between 1,000 – 1,600 snaps. The numbers are pretty much arbitrary; it could just as easily be 10-16 snaps

Now you take these snaps and go to your AUTHOR section. To the right of each of your books you’ll see a GET REVIEWED button. Earning a review costs 1500 snaps. Click GET REVIEWED. You lose your snaps.

Pubby then makes your book available for review, placing it before various other authors on the platform who like that genre. Once someone agrees to read and review your book (and this usually happens pretty fast, as authors on the platform are motivated; they don’t earn reviews without giving reviews) you will see a line beneath your book that says: SOMEONE IS CURRENTLY READING. How exciting!

They may take a 1-3 days (Pubby gives them a time limit) to read and post a review.

Once they have reviewed it, you will see those glorious gold stars beside your book. The reviews are done on Amazon and Amazon takes roughly 2-3 days to post the review on its site.

But then it has happened, this small miracle! You now have a 5 star review for your book on Amazon!


Keep reviewing and earning reviews. It balances out: for every review you post, you earn 1 review.

Other tiddlybits you need to know about Pubby:

Understandably, Pubby limits the number of books you can review to only 8 a week. This means you can earn no more than 8 reviews a week. But that’s maybe 10-12 reviews you can achieve during your 10 day free trial. 10 reviews for free!

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Only fellow authors, self-published indie strugglers like yourself, will be making reviews, which means your reviewers understand exactly how hard it is to get reviews, and how vital it is to receive high-star reviews. So they’ll likely leave 4 or 5 star evaluations. The average review from Pubby is 4.8 stars. I believe this claim. In my first week on the platform, I received 7 reviews: five 5 star reviews, and two 4 star reviews for 4 uploaded books. This is fine, as the Amazon creepy-crawlers get suspicious of nothing but 5 star reviews.

Now, if you haven’t signed up for Pubby, I suggest you do. You can use this link to go there, and then paste in the following code to receive 15% off your price (following your free 10 day trial): https://pubby.co/?invite=3430

I hope this opportunity helps you as it is helping me. God bless!

A Short Story About Gun Control

I would like to share a short story of hope and gun control with you

The Shooting of Amy Rose  is based on real events. What follows is a quick summary of this short story. It opens with a church shooting. In the mayhem Brian Collins is shot in the leg, but his fiancé Amy Rose is brutally gunned down.

Aftrwards, while lying in bed, disgusted with his governments’ useless gun control measures, he receives a vision in the night, of a device that could protect the innocent. If it works, the device will disarm and ID potential shooters, while bypassing the gun control debate altogether.


gun on bill of rights

Brian’s investor in the device, with his shady past, proves to be a colossal liability, and throughout the story Brian encounters a mysterious dark lady with designs of turning his ragged heart back to God. Despite her gentle nudges (and delicious baked goods), Brian refuses to forgive Amy’s shooter, and defiantly denies the existence of a good God.

The question he faces is this: Can a man without faith, give Americans hope?

Now, we must consider that even the idea of a gun control measure called GVRO, as posited by Washington Post, is questionable. This measure relies on potential shooters letting people know beforehand that they intend to shoot people. (Surprisingly this does happen on occasion, but incredibly the warnings are always ignored!)

My device in The Shooting of Amy Rose, while perhaps a bit sci-fi, bypasses the debate entirely, to disarm only those Americans who indubitably seek to harm other Americans.

girl in a white dress walking alone in a sunny field

While I am proud of my other works, fiction and non-fiction alike, their value lies more in entertainment (or in the cases of Take it to the Bank and The (Psycho) Path to Success, education), The Shooting of Amy Rose is first and foremost a timely and relevant tale. It takes the polarizing currents event conversation about gun control and turns it on its head, posing an alternative to ineffective measures that even policymakers don’t expect to work.

It also boldly examines the nature and potential power of faith, and poses the question of God’s role in modern America, and whether those hurt by gun violence can find their way to trusting Him.

Due to Amazon’s rule of allowing authors to make their works available for free for only 5 days every 3 months, The Shooting of Amy Rose will be free for only a short time. But I urge you to read this work, during its promotional period or after. Don’t worry if you have a large TBR list and don’t feel up to another book at the moment; this is a short story and it will be only .99 cents after the sale period.

I believe it is well worth a look, if for no other reason than to inspire faith and hope. If you download it, and if you enjoy it, I would ask you kindly if you could take a moment to leave a review on Amazon, as this helps promote the work and brand. Remember, we authors and self-publishers are coworkers. We help each other out. Your triumphs are mine, and vice versa.

God bless you, and keep writing. You never know where your next story will take you!