Monday, 28 May 2018

To Pre-order or Not To Pre-order? | Narelle Atkins

By Narelle Atkins @NarelleAtkins

There are no hard and fast rules, from a publisher/author perspective, on how and when to set up print book and ebook pre-orders.

Traditional Publishing and Pre-orders

Traditional publishers tend to set up long pre-orders, often many months prior to the book release date.

Book stores will order stock in advance of the book release. Retailers want the boxes of books to arrive at their stores prior to the book release date.

Distribution channels are set up by the publisher to encourage early orders from retailers and customers.

Independent (indie) Publishing and Pre-orders

Authors who publish independently have the flexibility to choose where they offer their books for sale, and whether or not they want to set up a pre-order for their book release.

For example, I set up the Kindle pre-order for my May 29 indie release (Solo Tu) at the start of April. Solo Tu is Book 7 in ‘A Tuscan Legacy’ contemporary Christian romance series.

Our Tuscan Legacy author group decided to release the books weekly, and we wanted all the ebooks to be available on pre-order for 99 cents (US) prior to Book 1 releasing on April 17. This gave our readers the option to pre-order all 9 books in the series at the heavily discounted price. The normal price is 2.99 (US).

Our marketing strategy, combined with the pre-order pricing strategy, has so far seen the new release ebooks rank in the Kindle Top 10 in the Contemporary Christian Romance category. This may not have happened if we hadn’t set up all the pre-orders weeks in advance.

Pre-orders and bestselling books

The pre-orders are added into the sales figures when the book releases.

For ebooks, this improves the initial sales ranking for the book.

For print books sold online and in stores, the availability of the book via retailers on the release date is important. If a shipment of print books doesn’t arrive at the stores in time, the book isn’t on the shelf for customers to buy on the release day. This could negatively impact the overall sales performance of the book.

Timing of Pre-Orders

I personally prefer my indie ebooks to release near the end of the month. The major ebook distributors pay monthly, and I get paid earlier if my release date is toward the end of the month.

Traditional publishers often release books early in the month, and Tuesday is a popular day for new book releases.

Price of Pre-orders

I’m going to use Amazon Kindle as an example of how pre-order pricing works.

Amazon guarantees their customers will be billed the lowest pre-order price for the Kindle ebook on the actual release day when the ebook is delivered to the customer’s account.

As a result, it’s illogical to increase the price of an ebook during the pre-order period. Decreasing the price during the pre-order period will result in all pre-orders dropping to the lower price.

Pre-release Book Marketing

A longer pre-order period provides publishers and authors with more time to market the book prior to the release date.

Endorsements can be collected to add into the final version of the book.

Authors can share the ebook with their street teams and bloggers and reviewers to create buzz and about the book before it releases.

NetGalley provides reviewers with an opportunity read books for review prior to the release date.

Advanced reader reviews can be posted on Goodreads.

Pre-order Deadlines: What happens if the pre-order deadline is missed?

There are negative consequences for publishers (including indie authors) who miss their pre-order deadline which results in the cancellation of the book release.

These consequences are outlined in the contractual arrangements with each book seller and distributor.

Book publishing is a business and it’s unprofessional to not deliver the product you’ve promised to your customers.

It’s disappointing for readers to receive the email advising that the book they’ve pre-order has been cancelled.

Indie authors have the freedom to choose how and when they publish. This freedom comes with responsibilities and obligations.

All publishers need to be realistic regarding the publishing deadlines they set.

They may choose to publish immediately once the final version of the book file is ready and not set up a pre-order.

They may choose to set up a pre-order once they reach a certain stage of the book production process and are confident they can meet the pre-order deadline.

What do you think of pre-orders?

As a customer, I love pre-orders. I subscribe to author newsletters primarily to keep track of their book releases. I pre-order early, knowing I’ll likely forget to buy the book later.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences with pre-orders from a publisher or author or customer perspective.

A fun loving Aussie girl at heart, NARELLE ATKINS was born and raised on the beautiful northern beaches in Sydney, Australia. She has settled in Canberra with her husband and children. A lifelong romance reader, she found the perfect genre to write when she discovered inspirational romance. Narelle's contemporary stories of faith and romance are set in Australia.

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Friday, 25 May 2018

DEVOTION: Up close and personal

By Leila Halawe @LHalawe

Recently I was driving through the South Island of New Zealand on my way to some work events. I had never been to the South Island before so it was a new experience for me with new scenery to observe and gush over. And there is lots to gush over in the South Island. Beautiful mountains, long winding river beds and lush green pastures are just some of the delightful landscape you will see as you drive around.

We needed to get from Christchurch to Nelson, which meant we got to travel some long winding roads; roads that were hugged by mountains on either side. Some of the mountain peaks were covered in snow, while others were covered by the long white clouds that New Zealand is often known for. But one of the most beautiful sites was the lush green on the mountains. Many of the mountain sides were covered in lush green leaves. From a distance, all you could see was a beautiful green covering the entire mountain face.

However it wasn't until we got closer that we were able to see the detail. We didn't the interconnectedness of the forest until we were up close and we could see the branches and the leaves and the roots. When we got closer, the detail became clearer and it was apparent that what looked like a blanket of lush green leaves was really a beautiful forest of old trees with deep roots. Of rocks and boulders covered with dirt and moss. Up close, we saw the intricate details and realised that from a distance, not everything is as it seems.

Our view of God can be like that. 

When we are a little removed from God, we can have an image of Him and of His heart. We can have perception of His nature. When we are looking at Him from a distance, we can still see Him, but we won't see the details; we won't see the intricacies of His heart and character. We won't feel His heart beat. When we are looking at God from a distance, we won't hear the tones of His voice because we are too far. In the book of 1 Kings 19, we read about Elijah having an encounter with God after being on the run:

"and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice." (I Kings 19:12 NKJV).

Elijah wanted to hear from God and he was looking for God in the wind and rain and trees, but the bible tells us that Elijah didn't encounter God in the fire, it was in the still small voice. God doesn't yell or scream at us, He whispers.

And the only way to hear a whisper is to lean in close; to get up close and personal and focused.

And when we do that, we can hear God tenderly and gently speaking to our hearts. Looking at God from a distance doesn't allow us to really truly know Him. It doesn't allow us to hear His heart beat for us. To know His plans for us. To follow His guidance.

Jesus himself tells us that we need to abide in Him:

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me - John 15:4 (ESV)

He wants us to rest in Him, to sit at His feet and abide in His presence and listen to His gentle whisper. He wants us to walk close. When life is hard and when the pain is heartbreaking, we need to get up close to God, not stand back and look at Him from a distance. We need to run towards Him and really lean in and look at Him; press in and tune our ears to listen. And when we do that, we won't only hear Him, but we'll be able to see Him and see clearly His majesty and beauty and grace.

This post has been cross published on ICFW

Leila (Lays) Halawe is a Sydney based coffee loving nonfiction writer and blogger. She has published a short devotional, Love By Devotion, and shares her views on life and faith via her blog page Looking In . You can connect with her via Facebook at Leila Halawe Author  and via Twitter at Leila Halawe.

Thursday, 24 May 2018

Book Review: Streams of Living Water by Richard J. Foster

By Ian Acheson @achesonian


In this landmark work, Foster examines the "streams of living water" –– the six dimensions of faith and practice that define Christian tradition. He lifts up the enduring character of each tradition and shows how a variety of practices, from individual study and retreat to disciplines of service and community, are all essential elements of growth and maturity. Foster examines the unique contributions of each of these traditions and offers as examples the inspiring stories of faithful people whose lives defined each of these "streams."


This marvellous book starts with this Thomas a Kempis's quote:

"We must imitate Christ's life and his ways if we are to be truly enlightened and set free from the darkness of our own hearts. Let it be the most important thing we do, then, to reflect on the life of Jesus Christ."

A life of imitation.On developing an intimate relationship with Christ, Foster uses the analogy of the "rivers of living water" (John 7:38) to describe how we both live a life of imitation and how we are united together in community. He outlines six streams that define this paradigm of imitation:

1. The Contemplative Stream - or a Prayer-filled life
2. The Holiness Stream - or the virtuous life
3. The Charismatic Stream - the gifts of the Holy Spirit
4. The Social Justice Stream - a life of compassion
5. The Evangelical Stream - the Word-Centred life
6. The Incarnational Stream - Everyday Life with God

Foster outlines each stream and provides historical, Biblical and current examples of persons who display the individual streams so that we are able to get a glimpse of how each stream is lived out in practice. I particularly appreciated these illustrations as it provided much clarity around each stream.

Further, Foster provides a summary overview of the various critical turning points in the history of the church as well as a comprehensive list with one paragraph bios of people throughout history displaying the various streams.

This is a wonderful book and provides a practical and well researched outline on how to live a life of imitation of Jesus. It really should be compulsory reading for all believers.

Ian Acheson is an author and strategy consultant based in Sydney. Ian's first novel of speculative fiction, Angelguard was recognised with the 2014 Selah Award for Speculative Fiction.You can find more about Angelguard at Ian's website, on his author Facebook page and Twitter

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Tuesday Book Chat | 22nd May 2018 | Narelle Atkins

Narelle here. Welcome to our ACW Tuesday Book Chat where we encourage book lovers to answer our bookish question of the week. I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

Please join in the conversation in a comment on this post or in a comment on the blog post shared in our Australasian Christian Writers Facebook Group.  

Let's chat. Have you written book reviews?

Monday, 21 May 2018

What Authors Need to Know About GDPR

By Iola Goulton @iolagoulton

What is GDPR, and why do authors need to know about it?

First, the PSA. I'm not a lawyer, so none of the information in this blog post is legal advice. It's my best guess as a layperson who has studied the subject. If you want legal advice, you ask a lawyer who is qualified to practice in this area. In this case, that means a lawyer based in the EU with a background in privacy, data protection, or similar. You don't get legal advice off the internet.

There are two excellent YouTube videos from British lawyers, and I'll link to those at the bottom of the post for those who want or need to know more.

What is GDPR?

The GDPR is the General Data Protection Regulation, and comes into force on 25 May 2018. It harmonizes data privacy laws across the European Union (EU), so it affects any organization holding personal data from EU residents. Note that the EU still includes the United Kingdom, so GDPR still applies. The British government have indicated they will implement GDPR-like legislation following Brexit (if it goes ahead).

Why do authors need to know about GDPR?

GDPR affects all organisations based in the EU, or supplying goods or services in the EU, that collect and process the data of EU residents, regardless of where they are based. 

As Australasian writers and bloggers, we're not based in the EU (Australia might compete in the Eurovision Song Contest, but that doesn't make Australia part of the EU).

But many of us are supplying goods or services in the EU:
  • If we have a book listed on or, we're indirectly supplying goods.
  • If we have a website that's viewable in the EU, we're suppling services in the form of information. Free services, but still services
  • If we have an email list that includes EU residents or may include EU residents in the future, we're supplying services, and we may also be marketing to EU residents.
If you have a self-hosted website, then your site is collecting a lot of information on your behalf, and you are responsible for ensuring only the necessary data is collected, that collected data is kept private, and that it is deleted on request or within a reasonable timeframe.

For example, if you comment on, I ask for your name, email address, and website (although that’s optional). But the website also collects and stores your IP address, and may store cookies (e.g. so the site remembers you have commented before and that I approved your comment, so subsequent comments aren’t held for moderation. Another cookie knows not to show you the email signup pop-up more often than once every 90 days).

Yes, you need to know about GDPR.

But GDPR isn’t the big bogeyman some commentators are making it out to be. Sure, it toughens up on the way we collect and use personal data, but the main principles are around people who hold personal data using that data in a way that is fair, transparent, and lawful.

What does this mean?

We tell people what data we are collecting, why we are collecting it, what we are going to use it for, and we only use it for that purpose. And that purpose must be lawful.

We only collect the data we need, with the permission of the owner of that data. We do not pass data on without permission, and we make sure anyone we pass data to is also collecting and using that data lawfully.

That’s not so hard, is it?

First, the Possible Exception.

Yes, there is an exception, and that's when your website or blog is managed through a free provider such as Blogger (like Australasian Christian Writers) or (but not self-hosted

As best as I can tell, Google owns Blogger. Blogger/Google collects personal information every time we upload a post to Blogger, or comment on an existing post. The writer owns the copyright, but Google owns the platform.

I suspect this makes Blogger the data controller, not me (or us, in the case of ACW), and that means it is up to Google to ensure Blogger sites are GDPR compliant. Click here to read Google's Privacy Policy.

I think the same is true for (i.e. not self-hosted WordPress). It’s hosted by WordPress, which means they own it.  Click here to read the Privacy Policy. Note that WordPress do say:

We also process information about visitors to our users’ websites, on behalf of our users and in accordance with our user agreements. Please note that our processing of that information on behalf of our users for their websites isn’t covered by this Privacy Policy. We encourage our users to post a privacy policy that accurately describes their practices on data collection, use, and sharing of personal information.

If this isn’t right, please let us know in the comments (with the appropriate link), and I'll update the post.

What do you need to do to prepare for GDPR?

If you have a self-hosted blog or website, or an email list, then there are some tasks you need to complete to prepare for GDPR. Based on the research I've done, here's my approach:

1. SSL Certificate

SSL certification adds a layer of security to your website. If you don't already have SSL certification, now is a good time to consider it. You may be able to get a free SSL certificate from your web host.

Neil Patel at Kissmetrics has just published a detailed post on the subject.

2. Privacy Policy

You need a Privacy Policy, outlining the personal data you collect and how that is used. I spent a whole day researching privacy policies online (and wrote a blog post about it), then discovered this: WordPress Privacy Policy

Automattic, the owners of WordPress and WooCommerce, have made their Privacy Policy available under a Creative Commons Sharelike licence. You will need to adapt it for your own needs and brand voice, but it's a great start.

Another good option is, which offers free privacy policies tailored for New Zealand or Australia. Mine was clear, easy to read, and easy to understand, but it's not GDPR-compliant. I contacted Zegal, and they say they will be releasing a GDPR-compliant Privacy Policy before 25 May, but it will only be available to paying customers.

3. Terms and Conditions

If you are selling directly from your website, you should consider a terms and conditions policy. I'm currently using the extreme legalese of Auto Terms of Service and Privacy Policy, but I will look at this again.

4. Cookie Policy

Most websites use cookies, and EU law requires website owners to advise visitors of this fact, and obtain their consent to using cookies. WordPress plugins such as the EU Cookie Law Widget help site owners comply.

Click here to learn more about cookies. Cookies can be addressed as part of your Privacy Policy, or in a separate Cookie Policy.

If you use WordPress, check out the GDPR Cookie Compliance plugin. It's easy to install and customise (you can check it out at Note that I haven't customised it at all.)

5. Contact Form

Most websites have a contact form allowing visitors to email the website owner. It seems pretty obvious to me that completing a contact form means the website owner is getting your personal information, but some people are recommending adding a tickbox to make this explicit.

Regardless, your Privacy Policy will need to include what information you collect on your contact form, and what it is used for. The WP GDPR Compliance plugin for WordPress will add a tickbox to your Contact Form 7 or Gravity Forms contact form. It takes about two minutes to install and activate, which means WordPress users have no excuse.

6. Comments Form

Most blogs have a comments section, which collects personal information. Do we need to add a tickbox for specific consent? I've seen blog posts from non-experts that suggest we do, but my WordPress site doesn't have any way of adding a tickbox to comments.

However, the WP GDPR Compliance plugin also handles comments, so I've added the tickbox using this plugin. It took another three minutes.

7. Email Signup Forms

Your email signup forms need to include a reference or link to your new or updated Privacy Policy. You must also make it clear that visitors are signing up for a newsletter that will include sales and marketing emails, and that they have the option to unsubscribe at any time (which they will have if you're using a competent external email service provider. You are, right?)

There has been discussion over whether you can still offer a free gift to new subscribers. My understanding is that you can, but it has to be:

Sign up for my email list to receive regular newsletters and occasional marketing emails. In return, I'll send you a free gift!


Want a free gift? Sign up here!

Even better, have a tickbox as part of the signup form, so your website visitors know exactly what they are getting. I use Bloom from Elegant Themes* for my website signups, and that doesn't have the tickbox option. Yet. MailChimp* does have GDPR compliant forms, but they are not as pretty as my Bloom forms.

* These are affiliate links, which means I get a small commission if you purchase something using these links. The amount you pay does not change. If you don't want to use affiliate links, then use your favourite search engine to find the sites.

8. Email List

Do you need to contact everyone on your list before 25 May to reconfirm they want to be on your email list?

This is the really hard part, and it's something even the experts can't agree on. Some experts and mailing list providers say yes. They say you need to email everyone on your list and ask them to reconfirm their consent, then delete the people who unsubscribe or don't respond. The issue with this approach is you will lose a large number of subscribers (although it is argued you're only losing the unengaged subscribers, so cutting them will improve the performance of your list).

Some email list providers (e.g. AWeber, ConvertKit) seem to be able to segment out EU subscribers by their IP address, which makes the consent process easier. If your email provider has this option, it's worth exploring.

Other experts advise against asking your email list to reconfirm their consent, because sending the email implies you don't have a record of their consent and you shouldn't be emailing someone without their consent.

The approach you take will depend on how you built your email list, and who your email list provider is. MailChimp (my email list provider) seems to be taking a softly-softly approach. Others (e.g. MailerLite) seem to be more aggressive in requiring list owners send reconfirmation emails.

What I don't recommend is what I've seen two US-based authors do over the last few days: email their list with a suggestion/request people opt out if they no longer want to be on the mailing list, and that not opting out will be taken as consent for GDPR. I don't like this approach for two reasons:
  1. There should already be an unsubscribe option on every email you send.
  2. This is passive consent—do nothing, and you're on the list. The principle of GDPR is that subscribers must actively consent to being on your mailing list. That is, they have to check the box that says "Sign me up!" to be on your list, not uncheck it to stay off your list. 
There is one thing the experts agree on: this is a good opportunity to either try and reengage your email list, and to delete those who haven't opened recent emails (say, any email for the last three or six months, or your last three or six emails). This is the approach I have taken.

Listen to the Experts

As I said at the beginning, I'm no lawyer. But I've read a lot of blog posts, and listened to podcasts and watched videos from GDPR legal experts. Here are the two best sources of information I've found:

Mark Dawson's Self-Publishing Formula podcast interviewed British lawyer Gemma Gibbs:

Nick Stephenson's First 10,000 Readers interviewed British lawyer Suzanne Dibble. Suzanne also has a Facebook group with loads of free information. Click here to find Suzanne's Facebok group. She also has a GDPR Compliance Kit for sale, for GDP 197. Here's Suzanne on GDPR:

One Final Note

I will be updating the Kick-Start Your Author Platform Marketing Challenge to take these changes into account. If you're already enrolled in the Challenge, I'll email you once I've completed the updates. If you're not in the Challenge, why not sign up?

What do you need to do to prepare for GDPR?

About Iola Goulton

Iola Goulton is a New Zealand book reviewer, freelance editor, and author, writing contemporary Christian romance with a Kiwi twist. She is a member of the Sisterhood of Unpronounceable Names (Iola is pronounced yo-la, not eye-ola and definitely not Lola).

Iola holds a degree in marketing, has a background in human resource consulting, and currently works as a freelance editor. When she’s not working, Iola is usually reading or writing her next book review. Iola lives in the beautiful Bay of Plenty in New Zealand (not far from Hobbiton) with her husband, two teenagers and one cat.

Friday, 18 May 2018

Are You A Ready Writer?

by Carolyn Miller @CarolynMAuthor

Recently I was reading through Psalm 45 when I noticed the last phrase of verse 1:
“My heart is overflowing with a good theme; I recite my composition concerning the King; My tongue is the pen of a ready writer.” (NKJV)

A ready writer. 

Those last three words might vary from my particular version – perhaps your Bible says a ‘skilful writer’ or something similar, but the ‘ready’ aspect really struck me, with its sense of preparedness, of letting nothing slip. Matthew Henry’s commentary says of this particular psalm “The song was a confession with the mouth of faith in the heart concerning Christ and his church…of that Spirit of prophecy that dictated the psalm to David, that Spirit of Christ which was in the prophets.”

The poets in biblical times had to be prepared, ready for when a moody king (ahem, Saul) might want a song or a poem outlining their greatness, or when a more God-focused king might want a faith-building reminder of God’s accomplishments in the past. I imagine that much of their time would have been spent in contemplating such things, spending time in prayer and God’s presence to hear His heart, spending time in ancient manuscripts to remind themselves of the past, and then carefully crafting their words to best reflect God’s truth for today. All of these elements would have served to build within a plethora of praiseworthy phrases and words ready for when the king might need a song of encouragement and demand something immediately – with threats of imprisonment (or worse!) should such a request not be fulfilled.

Chances are we won’t be required to produce a psalm-like hymn to an insecure authority figure in our life (or maybe we will…), but I like to think that we are ready writers in the sense of being prepared, of knowing our subject matter to a degree that means our words can flow rather than be stilted and halting, that we can trust God and the leading of the Holy Spirit as we begin our times of writing in prayer.

So how can we be a ready writer?

·      Being a ready writer might mean taking care to record those snippets of dialogue that come to us in the middle of the night, necessitating pen and paper by the bed, or a smartphone or voice recorder that can record those phrases of gold that tumble from our mouths as a song inspires us to find exactly the right words as we drive or we’re on a walk.

·      Being a ready writer might mean taking this writing journey seriously so we carve out space in our houses so we can easily create, rather than treating our writing as an afterthought, hidden under layers of papers and bills and the stress of modern life.

·      Being a ready writer might mean committing time each week to doing exactly that: writing, even without a deadline approaching.

·      Being a ready writer might mean preparing to invest in quality resources and materials, and attending writer’s conferences and online writing seminars.

·      Being a ready writer is about allowing God to speak to us, taking time to hear His voice, so our words can be moulded by the King of King for His use.

I’m trying to be a ready writer, and I’m sure you are, too.

What are your tips for being a ready writer?

Carolyn Miller lives in the beautiful Southern Highlands of New South Wales, Australia, with her husband and four children. Together with her husband she has pastored a church for ten years, and worked part-time as a public high school English and Learning and Support teacher. 
A longtime lover of romance, especially that of Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer’s Regency era, Carolyn holds a BA in English Literature, and loves drawing readers into fictional worlds that show the truth of God’s grace in our lives. Her Regency novels include The Elusive Miss Ellison, The Captivating Lady Charlotte, The Dishonorable Miss DeLancey, and Winning Miss Winthrop, all available from Amazon, Book Depository, Koorong, etc

Connect with her:        website | facebook | pinterest | twitter | instagram