My first Kindle Free Promotion

This week, I ran a Kindle Free Promotion and it might be useful for other writers to read  about my experience.

There are some very specific factors that helped make this promotion a success, so if you want to emulate what I did, do keep that in mind. Ymmv.

What’s a Free Promotion?

First, a few words on terminology. A Free Promotion is a promotional tool available to you when you enrol your book in KDP Select on Amazon. It allows you to run price promotions. You can offer your book at a reduced price (or free) for a limited number of days for each term your book is in KDP Select. (All KDP Select books are also enrolled in Kindle Unlimited). Having a book free or reduced for a day or a few days allows you to run specific promotions, like BookBub deals.

My method

Getting a BookBub deal is incredibly hard and I’ve not yet been successful. But I’d heard good things about Freebooksy, so I went ahead and booked a slot. It cost me $30 for my book to go into one newsletter and on the site for one day.

I enrolled the first book of my series, A World Apart, for a one-day Free Promotion, on April 24, 2019, and I booked the Freebooksy for the same day.

On the same day, I also sent out my newsletter. I promoted the free deal on all my social media (Twitter, Facebook and Instagram), and I asked my author friends to share it on theirs. In hindsight, I wish I’d also done a few newsletter swaps, though finding people who send newsletters on exactly the right day can be tricky.

How can you make money off a free book? 

I had no idea either, but apparently, you can. Again, ymmv, but my collateral sales made me more money than the Freebooksy cost.

I believe there are a few reasons for that:

  • The book is always in Kindle Unlimited, so some people (accidentally or on purpose) read the book with their KU subscription. When you go to the Amazon page, that button is more prominent than the buy button.
  • It’s the first book in a series, and a few people bought book 2 and 3 or read it on KU right after reading the free book. My page reads are still excellent several days later.
  • I had another, unrelated book on sale at $0.99, and a lot of people bought that one, too.

Show me the money!

Here are the hard and fast facts from the day of the free book and the immediate aftermath. Authors who have been at this for a while will find the amounts modest, but for me, the whole experience was a success.

  • Cost: $30 for Freebooksy slot
  • Free downloads on Free Promotion day: 1,292 (and four of a perma-free short)
  • Sales April 24 through 26: 54 (I usually average between one and five books on good days, but have long stretches of no sales, too) – 27 of those were of the other discounted book, 7 of the sequels, 15 of the previously free book; I’m guessing by people who saw the promotion late and decided the regular price of $0.99 was still good value.
  • Page reads across all my KU books during that time: 2,250
  • Money made: $40.89

Sales have tapered off now, but page reads are still going strong. This is the first advertising that really was worth my while. I’ve not had any luck with Amazon or Facebook ads. I use book tours for exposure, and I’ve made between 40 and 60% of my money back when using other newsletters for discounted deals.

Newsletter promotions aren’t as amazing, or lead to the near-constant success of continuously running Amazon or Facebook ads. But they’re easier on the wallet and less stressful. And they work for my genre (m/m romance) where other advertising is tricky.

What next?

I want to do this again, but I don’t want to do it with the same book. I might see what happens when I make a book free that’s not in KU and not in a series, and when I’m not running a second deal. Watch this space, I’ll keep you posted!


A New Life release happening right now!

I’ve been sorely neglecting the blog, but I wanted to mark the occasion and let you know about the release of Book 2 in the Loving Again series. In Book 1, we meet Ben and Donnie as they find love under difficult circumstance. Book 2 follows them as they start building their new life.

I wrote an additional chapter in-between the first two books as a treat for my readers.

Here are the blog tour dates:



Release tour for He is Mine

It’s happening right now – my release tour for my new book! We still have more than a week to go. Here are the dates:


There are interviews, blog posts, and giveaways. You can also read the fist chapter now.

People are probably most interested in the giveaways, so here are the links to those directly:

Rafflecopter Giveaway for a chance to win:

1x He is Mine ebook

1x signed paperback copy of A World Apart

Enter here!

And for a chance to win a signed paperback copy of He is Mine, enter my website giveaway!

My first ever blog Q&A

I’m so excited to welcome Asta Idonea on my very first blog Q&A. Thank you so much for being my guinea pig, this is a huge honour! Let’s jump right in!

Tell us about your latest work. What inspired the story?


Beastly Businessmen and Guitar Gods is a collection of six loosely interconnected MM contemporary romances. Each is based on a fairytale or myth, but there are no magical/fantasy elements in these retellings. The book was briefly published before, but that publisher sadly closed, and NineStar Press offered to give the work a new lease of life.

The inspiration for the piece came from the fact that I was keen to do a fairytale retelling, but I hadn’t seen a suitable anthology call at the time. I soon realised I had more than one idea, and it occurred to me that I could make my own anthology!

Would you say you write mostly what you feel the most inspired to write, or do you pick genres/tropes that you know will sell well?

Mostly, I stick with what inspires me. If I came up with an idea but really thought it wouldn’t sell (for whatever reason), that might affect my decision to go ahead with it, but I certainly choose ideas based on the stories that appeal to me, rather than writing something just because I think it will sell. I need to feel passionate about each story I write.

Do you write every day? And do you set goals for each writing session?

Yes and no. I would like to write every day, but my schedule doesn’t always allow it. It’s the aim, but not always achievable. No, I don’t set goals per se, but if I can draft a chapter each session, I consider that good progress.

Tell us about upcoming projects.

Well, my next release is a MM superhero novel called Super for You, Bad for Me, coming from Dreamspinner Press on 14 August. I’m really excited to share this one with readers. Keep an eye on my blog and social media for buy links and release info!

I also have a short story (MM contemporary) coming out in December as part of Dreamspinner Press’ 2018 Advent Calendar. That one is called Barbies and Beaches.

At present I am working on first drafts of two new MM PNR novels—one historical, one contemporary—so look to hear more about those in 2019!

And a quick fire round!

Coffee or tea?

Tea, of course—I was born in England!

What kind of music do you like?

An eclectic mix: musical theatre, classical & opera, 60s pop, Ásgeir, Elizaveta.

Who is your favourite superhero?

Loki—he’s a hero in my eyes

Do you have a TV show/franchise/something else you’re a really big fan of?

Do you have a week to spare? 🙂

You can buy your copy of Beastly Businessmen and Guitar Gods on the publisher’s website and all the major retailers now!

NineStar Press | Amazon | Kobo | Barnes and Noble


About the Author

Asta Idonea (aka Nicki J Markus) was born in England but now lives in Adelaide, South Australia. She has loved both reading and writing from a young age and is also a keen linguist, having studied several foreign languages.

Asta launched her writing career in 2011 and divides her efforts not only between MM and mainstream works but also between traditional and indie publishing. Her works span the genres, from paranormal to historical and from contemporary to fantasy. It just depends what story and which characters spring into her mind!

As a day job, Asta works as a freelance editor and proofreader, and in her spare time she enjoys music, theatre, cinema, photography, and sketching. She also loves history, folklore and mythology, pen-palling, and travel, all of which have provided plenty of inspiration for her writing.

Asta (Nicki) on social media: BlogFacebook TwitterInstagramGoodreads

WIP Playlist

Thanks to the heat wave all I feel like is starfishing in my unmentionables and listening to music. And it occurred to me that it would be kinda neat to have a playlist before I start outlining my next project.

Now, when you’ve gotten over the shock of that mental image, let’s play a game. What do you think is the topic/genre for my next book?

  1. Bryan Addams – Summer of ’69
  2. Hollywood Vampires – My Dead Drunk Friends
  3. Kaiser Chiefs – Ruby
  4. R.E.M. – Man On The Moon
  5. Soul Asylum – Runaway Train
  6. Stone Roses – Ten Storey Love Song
  7. Aerosmith – Cryin’
  8. Queen – We Will Rock You
  9. Bon Jovi – It’s My Life
  10. Guns ‘N Roses – November Rain
  11. Scorpions – Wind of Change
  12. Eagles – Hotel California
  13. Pink Floyd – Another Brick In The Wall
  14. Metallica – Nothing Else Matters

That was quite the trip down memory lane. I could’ve added about ten to thirty awesome song for each of these bands. Anyway, I’m looking forward to starting this one.

My five favourite M/M romance writers

Writers are always told to maintain an active blog. We’re supposed to write about our books and projects, but also about things outside of writing, to show our readers something about our lives.

I’ve been struggling with this last bit. I work, I write (and promote my books) and I read. I can write about writing easily and enthusiastically, and I guess I could write about my day job too, but while it’s a job I enjoy, it’s not very interesting to outsiders. I mean, we all sit in an office for a lot of the day and stare at computer screens and type out endless emails. There, that’s my job in a nutshell.

There’s only one other thing I have anything exciting to say about – the books I read. Those of you who following my Facebook will already know pretty much what I read and when I read it because my Goodreads account is linked to my page. But I don’t tend to write reviews, even though I love 99% of everything I’ve read in the last few months. I simply don’t have the time for in-depth reviews, which is what my favourite books deserve.

But today, I do want to tell other people about some of the wonderful M/M romance writers I’ve fallen in love with recently, because they make my life 100% better!

So, while you’re waiting for my new books (and they are coming, I promise), why not check out some of the great books below? By the way, these authors are not a definitive selection, they merely wrote some of the M/M romance stories that have touched me most deeply. There are many, many more amazing authors in this genre, and I’m hoping to write about them next time!

Here they are, in no particular order, my most beloved M/M romance writers and stories!

Garrett Leigh

Writes: Contemporary M/M romance

I simply love her books. LOVE them. Her characters are sweet, sexy, gorgeous, but always very real and relatable. And she writes the best hurt/comfort I’ve so far encountered in M/M romance. And boy, am I ever a sucker for H/C! I love gorgeous guys taking care of each other. And Garrett writes H/C in such ways that it never makes her characters appear very real.

My favourite book so far has been Between Ghosts, which is set during the Iraq war and tells the story of an SAS soldier and a journalist who (unsurprisingly, since this is romance) develop feelings for each other. But my first book was Rented Soul, which is the story of a cool guy business man and a rentboy falling in love. The book is followed by Soul to Keep, which is the story of the rentboy’s best friend overcoming his own demons. And this book is what led me to Between Ghosts. Garrett likes to feature her characters more than once, giving supporting chast from one story their own book later on. I really love that approach!

Not all of her series work for me, and this is actually one of the best things I’ve learned in recent months: If a book doesn’t immediately grip me, don’t write off the author. If there’s something about the book you like (the writing style or the voice, or the characterisation) try another one of theirs and see if it’s a better fit. Writers tend to write for different audiences even in the same overall genre, and they evolve. And lucky for us, some of the most amazing writers have been at it long enough to give us plenty of stories to choose from!

Find Garrett’s books and more info on her website.

Josh Lanyon

Oh my goodness, what can I say? I love Josh’s books! Nothing is as satisfying as her crime stories in that beautiful prose, giving us one hot couple of law enforcement officers after another (interspersed with the odd artist, bookstore owner and history professor, who just make the stories even hotter).

Again, I came for the hurt/comfort, and stayed for the amazing storytelling. I have several favourite couples. Adrien and Jake from The Adrien English Mysteries are a classic, but I think Will and Taylor from the Dangerous Ground series are my favourite couple. I mean, FBI. Lord. Jason and Sam from The Art of Murder series are a close second for the same reason, and Elliott and Tucker from All’s Fair are also up there. Sometimes, Josh does cameos for her characters too, and it’s always fun to find those.

I liked a whole bunch of her other works too, but steered clear of the cosy mystery, the paranormal and the adventure stories, because the genres are simply not my jam. But I want to mention them, since everyone loves different things and I’m sure these books will be just as amazing for those of you who love the genre!

Find out more about Josh and her books on her website.

Other books

There are many other M/M romance books I loved, and I want to mention a small selection because I genuinely think you’re missing out if you don’t read them!

The Sacrifice and Other Stories – Kim Fielding

After just having extensively gushed about two authors’ back catalogues of contemporary M/M romance, here’s a Fantasy anthology I thoroughly enjoyed. I haven’t read much M/M in the genre, but this one took me by surprise. I loved the fairy tale quality of the stories, and how the author doesn’t shy away from writing sweet love stories between men who aren’t always perfect, young and gorgeous. I’ve added a whole bunch of Kim’s other books to my TBR pile. 

Trailer Trash – Marie Sexton

I’m not overly fond of books about younger people. I found puberty annoying enough to go through once and adolescent angst isn’t for me. But this book definitely hooked me. It’s not YA, even though the protagonists are only 18. It doesn’t even really read like NA, maybe because it’s not set at college. I’m not sure. But whatever it is, it worked for me. The story is sweet and sad, but also gritty. The boys are easy to like, and I cared a lot for their fate. So far, I haven’t delved deeper in Marie’s back catalogue, but I do want to!

Gay Amish Romance series – Keira Andrews

Loved this so much! It was one of the first M/M romance series I seriously delved into, and I was hooked from the first page. The books are a little heavy on the sex for my taste, and I probably skipped the odd scene, but the story Keira weaves around the steamy bits is sweet and angsty and feels very real. I’ve added a few other of Keira’s books to my TBR list and will hopefully get around to them soon!

That’s it for now, but I thoroughly enjoyed writing about these faves, so I definitely plan to do another post like this in the not too distant future!

Do you want to share your favourite M/M romance stories and writers with me? Please comment about them below, I’d love some good recs!

Have I told you about Wings of Glass yet?

Muse and Flame coverNo, I haven’t, because I’m a doofus! My little short story, over which I laboured for a long time, found a very loving and perfect home with Fluky Fiction in The Muse and The Flame: A Collection of Bizarre Romance, which came out last week! The anthology is really unusual, the love stories are about monsters, cannibals, and death. But I promise, it’s a great read! (I also really love the cover.)

Matt Doyle also had me over on his blog for an interview about the anthology, in which I made up a poorly thought-out analogy to do with kangaroos. Yeah, I don’t know either.

And here, last but not least, a little taster of my story. Maybe it’ll entice you to spend $1.40 to read the rest!

Wings of Glass (Excerpt)

He’s been dead three months today. But when I close my eyes I see him, perched on the balustrade out on his roof terrace. Goofy grin on his face, sort of lopsided around the cigarette he never could give up, even at the end.
“Hey, babe,” he calls, and beckons me over. “Missed you today. What’s new with you?”


Daz’s cell:
U bought milk? Bacon? Cigs?
Baby animal food, check. Cholesterol in shrink wrap, check. Cancer sticks, check and check. Be there in 5.
Daz’s cell:
U funny xx C ya soon.


I sold my book, now what? Part 2 of my writing tips

Back in August I wrote a post about how to get your foot onto the published author ladder. I had just successfully chaired my first ever Nine Worlds panel, and my book had not yet come out. Now I feel it’s time to share more things with you that I’ve learned and trialed since then.

My book is out, and I’m very pleased with how the launch went, and how it has been received. Since August, I have learned an awful lot about how to market your book. The guide, I sold my book, now what? is a collection of all the useful resources I’ve come across, plus some hints and tips for all of you who are slightly panicky over how to start their marketing efforts for their first book.

Take heart, you can do it! And if you have any questions, just drop me a line and I’ll see if I can’t dig up something useful!

Musings on the release of A World Apart

Now that my debut novel has been out a couple of weeks and the reviews are coming in, I had the urge to write a little bit about how the book’s reception has affected my thinking of the story.

First of all, thank you so much to everyone who has written an honest review! I can’t stress this enough, I’m deeply grateful to everyone who has taken time out of their busy lives to share their thoughts.

Secondly, I’m not trying to justify or even clarify anything with this blog post. I don’t think any writer has to justify why they wrote the story they wrote. But of course, I have thoughts on my first release, and I want to address one of the aspects that has come up a lot in the reviews so far: The quick progression of the love story between Ben and Donnie.

I’ve said this before in other places, so forgive me for repeating myself: I write relationship stories because I find relationships, of any kind, quite hard. I’m an introvert and like to be by myself. But I like people, too. I like my friends, and I even like meeting new people, in small doses, with lots of time in between to decompress. What fascinates me is how people relate to one another, as acquaintances, friends, family, lovers… I like thinking about that, and I like writing about it, especially about people being kind to each other.

When I started writing, I did so in the world of fanfiction. I’m proud of that, and I carry the flag and talk about it openly. There are a lot of great writers in that world who deserve to have their talent recognized as widely as possible. I’ll always feel connected with the fic fandom. (You can find a lot of us over on AO3.)

Fanfic is different from published writing in many ways, and I want to talk about one of the main differences. When you write romantic* stories in a fandom, the fact that your two characters (or sometimes three, or four, or more) will end up together is a given.

There are heaps and heaps of slow burn fics in fandom. I think, generally, the structure of the romance genre is a lot like those fics: Two people fall in love against all odds, must go through trials and tribulations but, in the end, are HEA (or at least HFN). And that’s lovely, there’s a lot to be said for that and it’s wildly successful both in fic and in romance as a commercial genre.

But I haven’t ever really written those fanfic stories. My stories are about the romance, yes, but they’re also about other things – oftentimes quite serious things like illness, and violence, and dealing with a hostile world (I write The Walking Dead fic, after all).

I think it’s entirely my fault, that I don’t fit all too comfortably into the romance genre. I didn’t do my homework. I didn’t come to romance writing after a life spent devouring books about people falling in love. I read Sci-Fi and fantasy and horror and crime growing up, and I still do. I’ve asked myself why then am I not writing in those genres, and I honestly don’t know the answer.

My next book is a romantic suspense novel, and that’s probably more along the lines of the stories that I’m used to writing.

When you write fic, you can experiment with everything. You make it available to a small audience for free, and while some readers will tell you if they don’t like your story you’re usually not judged on whether or not it fits into a specific genre. Fanfics are sometimes called transformative works, which means that a mainstream text is taken and changed in some way. But I believe that transformative also refers to the experimental nature of fanfic writing. You can write odd POVs (2nd person is something no publisher will even touch, except maybe for RPG which are also transformative literature, in a way), play around with style, with tense, with mixing genres etc.

A World Apart, just like my fic, is a story about a relationship, but it’s also a story about what happens to the characters beyond that relationship. My favourite romance stories have always been the ones where a couple gets together quickly, even if they then have to fight to make the relationship sustainable. I’m no fan of the slow burn, or the “will they, won’t they” trope. (I just want to make it clear that I don’t think there’s anything wrong with those stories at all, they’re just not my personal favourite.)

If I were to write A World Apart now I would write it differently, I’m sure. I might stretch the first story over two books (to conform more with the customary relationship arc), and I definitely would refrain from making the characters use the L word so soon. But I’m not writing it now. I wrote a story to the best of my abilities at the time, and I’m pleased with how it turned out.

I’m not sorry that Ben and Donnie’s story is what it is. Writing about them still makes me very happy, and I’m working a little on the second book in the series now, alongside writing the standalone romantic suspense novel. Another thing I learned from writing fic is that it’s nice to have several projects at the same time, even if they take longer to complete that way.

On a final note: Something from fanfic that I wish was adopted more widely by the publishing industry is tagging. If we knew, when we buy a book, that the story is “slow burn” or “insta love” or “relationship amongst other stuff” or “enemies to lovers” or “angst” or “hurt/comfort” I think it’d be much easier to pick books we’ll enjoy.

*By far not all fanfiction is romantic in nature.

Want to have your work published? I wrote a thing that might help

This weekend I attended the Nine Worlds Convention in London and got to chair a panel, From Fanfic to Book Contract and Beyond. While this is a terrifying prospect for an introvert, I think it went rather well. Many thanks to all attendees, and to the organisers to make this happen!

During the panel, I mentioned a document I pulled together. In it, I list (and ramble about) all the resources I’ve been using in the last few years to help launch my writing career. If you’re looking to do the same, you can find the document here: Mel’s Resources for Writers Who Want to Go Pro.

I hope it’s of use to some of you. And because the WWW is truly bottomless I’m already working on the next list of resources. Stay tuned!