Category Archives: Articles

Should You Buy John Locke’s Book Now that We Know He Paid for Amazon Reviews?

Not long after I published the articles “The Twitter Experiment: Can I Increase My Following on Twitter and Sell More Books Than I’ve Imagined?” and it’s follow up “The Twitter Experiment: First Stages,” I discovered that John Locke,  back in August 2012, was outed for paying for Amazon reviews–infuriating thousands of readers of his book How I Sold 1 Million Books in 5 Months!

After I found this out, I knew I had a problem: I had bought the book eons ago and had recently recommended it as part of a system I was cobbling together for my own marketing plan! Should I write a post to tell you not to buy the book because the guy’s a shyster, or should I still recommend it because the info is sound?

Some of you might question me…how do you know the information is sound? If he lied about the reviews, he might have lied about what was in the book.

Actually, the methods in his book are recommended by other people in other books and websites, and they have become standard in many marketing plans. So, I’m not worried about the methods.

However, because he lied, there is no way to tell if the methods are what catapulted him to the top or the reviews. In other words, what percentage of buyers came from the reviews, and what from his internet methods?

I cannot tell you, but I do know that marketing in the 21st Century is integrated–with the whole being greater than the sum of it’s parts. So, this marketing plan I’m putting together takes PARTS of Locke’s book and cobbles them together with other techniques from other books, in order to make my own method

When I’m done, I’ll have the Denise Miller Holmes’ Marketing Method, not the John Locke Marketing Method.

So, I’m not recommending Locke’s book in it’s entirety, I’m recommending key pieces of it and I will be adding those pieces to the techniques I’m using from other books.

My short answer to this post’s title question is–it’s up to you if you buy his book or not! It depends on how you think about it:

  • If you think the information is still good, the book is cheap, and there’s no reason to punish yourself just because he’s a scoundrel, then buy the book. I would definitely recommend, though, that you scale down the “one million books sold” to perhaps “10,000.” There is no way to know how many books were sold solely due to positive paid reviews, but I’m guessing that without them, he would have sold less than one million! However, his internet-marketing methods were still a solid part of getting attention to his book reviews in the first place.
  • If you think that liars and cheats should not be rewarded with more books sold, then you should NOT buy the book. Other writers are discussing these techniques in internet marketing books, so don’t give him one more dime…the cheat!

As I’ve stated, I already had the book and had recommended it to y’all when I found out about his indiscretions, so I’m still gleaning his methods, even though I don’t think I’ll sell one million books using them. I will, however, sell many more books using some of his methods than if I weren’t using them. Right now, the source of the info is less important to me than the info itself.

But for those in the second camp–throw the bum out!–know that I will be teaching the key parts of John’s system that I am using, and we will learn and experience their use together. So…if you stay here and continue reading my posts, you won’t have to buy the book because I’ll explain it all to you.

Well, that’s all she wrote. If you want to vent in the comments about what a dirty, rotten, cheat John Locke is, then go ahead, but I will warn you–it’s been a while since he’s committed his naughty-ness, and whatever you say has already been said. Everybody wants to cattleprod him off the planet. 😀

Note that the service that John Locke was using–GettingGood (run by Todd Rutherford)–is out of business. That’s a good thing, yes?

Here are some articles for further reading about John Locke and paid-for reviews:
The Best Book Reviews Money Can Buy” by David Streitfeld; “EXTRA ETHER: Buying Book Reviews – Still Admire John Locke?” by Porter Anderson; “Do I Still Recommend John Locke? No” by Holly Lisle.


Carrie O’Toole’s Book Marketing Plan: A Combined Approach for the Book RELINQUISHED

Guest Post by Colorado Life Coach, Carrie O’Toole, M.A 

I’m gearing up to self-publish my first book, Relinquished: When Love Means Letting Go. It’s about our turbulent journey through the international adoption, and subsequent relinquishment, of our son who struggled with severe Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD).


It is a memoir, and I am aware that I have to be especially smart in its marketing and promotion because publishers consistently told me, “Memoirs don’t sell.”

I think the hardest thing about selling any book is to make sure it’s well written. I sent mine through two major edits, with two different, but talented, editors. Currently, I’m waiting for my proof copy before I submit to Amazon’s Create Space.

In the meantime, I’m building my platform so the book competes well against the many others in the memoir genre. I’ve consulted with several people for help and guidance, and read books including, 1001 Ways to Market Your Books, by John Kremer. It’s a huge resource, and I’m realizing I should have started months ago, but, better now than never!

Here are the strategies I’m using:

  • Twitter
    I followed Denise’s suggestions in her articles on The Twitter Experiment and I am adding 200 followers per day. I use to add 1000, then wait a day and keep those who followed me back. I delete the rest. I’m trying to find people who will actually read what I’ve written, so I searched “adoption, adoptive families, Reactive Attachment Disorder, RAD, Trauma,” etc. I click on “top results,” then begin following their followers. Many follow back, and they are the audience I’m looking for.
  • Facebook
    Using the same principle, I searched the keywords above on Facebook and found several pages to follow.
  • Podcasting
    I started a Podcast in January and invited an attachment-disorder specialist as a guest. I posted the video on YouTube, and the audio on ITunes. You can find it by searching “Broken and Brilliant.” Both are linked to my website.
  • Films
    My son is a filmmaker, so we created some short films . They are all very different, but all have to do with relationships, God’s love for us, growth, healing, etc.
  • Combining Podcasts and Films with Twitter and Facebook
    After we had several podcasts and short films, I started posting on the Facebook pages and Twitter. Doing this for just two days brought over 150 views and several shares. We’ve now topped 500 views in 16 countries. People have started contacting me asking for resources.
  • Guest Blogging
    I’ve asked friends and acquaintances if I could guest blog for them. Many said yes, and I’m preparing a few different posts to help spread news about the book.
  • Book Trailer
    We used royalty-free music, a voice-over of me, reading selected passages, and video from our trip to Vietnam. See it here.
  • Church Bookstores and Adoption Agencies
    I’m purchasing 100 books to give away for marketing. I’ll hand deliver to church bookstore managers, etc., and ask them to read it. If they like it, they may decide to carry it.
  • Newspapers
    I’m now contacting local newspapers. I ask for journalists who cover local stories. Five communities in my area have a significant number of adoptive families, so my story is relevant to these communities. I’ll be able to offer a compelling story for the journalists, who may decide to write about my story and promote my book. Because I am an expert on attachment issues, my information is helpful to newspapers and local news agencies.

I’m finding my audience through this process. With work and follow-through, I hope to sell many more books than I would otherwise. I’ve put a lot of work into this project, so I want it to succeed and have the ministry impact that I believe it can.


About my book:

This wasn’t a book I wanted to write, but found it to be therapeutic after our difficult journey.

I actually wrote the book three years ago. Then, it sat in my computer until this past January. During that time, I worked with a publisher and a coach trying to figure out how to turn this story into a self-help book. As I said in the introduction of this article, I kept hearing “Memoirs don’t sell.” Yet, each time I took a stab at something else, I found myself uninspired and overwhelmed.

Other people had already written what I was attempting to write. They did it well, and I couldn’t find my voice. I didn’t have the desire to write a book just to write a book. I truly wanted to write something that uniquely mattered. As I prayed about the New Year, I kept hearing, “Finish the book.”

So I did.

And now I hope my promotional journey helps you when you finish and publish your book! If you know of anyone that can benefit from the info in this guest post, or my book Relinquished, please pass along this blog link to them!

Carrie O’Toole is a Board-Certified Christian Life Coach by the American Association of Christian Counselors (A.A.C.C.), and holds a master’s degree in Human Services, specializing in Marriage and Family Therapy from Liberty University. She practices in Colorado. You can pre-order Relinquished here on her website.





The Twitter Experiment: Can I Increase My Following on Twitter and Sell More Books Than I’ve Imagined?

The marketing technique I’m about to share with you should apply to fiction or non-fiction, self- or traditionally published.

I have two works-in-progress (WIPs)–one fiction and one non-fiction.  They will be self-published, after being edited to high heaven and approved by beta readers.

But, I’m discouraged. The book-marketing experts tell us that our first books will not sell well because we haven’t developed a large-enough following. I say “large-enough” because even if we build a platform before we publish, it usually isn’t enough for a new author to sell many books.

What is supposed to happen, the experts say, is that our audience builds with each blog post, each speaking engagement, and each book. When we have a fat backlist, our newest book sells all the rest to new fans.

But, all this takes time!

I believe in building a platform. I don’t care if it takes time–except when it comes to my first few books. To think that my first few books won’t sell as well as they deserve because my audience is so small, makes me cry. And, it discourages me to finish them because I’m writing them so people can hear the message (and be entertained while receiving it, of course!).

Little audience, little impact.

I know there are Christians dying to tell me that it’s the Lord’s message and He will impact who He wants…blah blah blah. Yes, but I don’t want to hide my light under a bushel. So, I think there is some responsibility on my part to do what I can to increase my audience.

I am happy to say that after much whining, I have found three books that have given me hope. They all focus on the use of Twitter to boost your sales.  The choice is Twitter because Twitter’s limits for followers are HIGH. Facebook is effective for some, but they limit followers on your personal page. Twitter does not, if you do it right.

Putting these three books together,  a two-step process emerges: 1) you increase your Twitter followers by thousands and then 2) you go about the relational business of Twitter: retweets, @replies, promoting other people’s work, and launching your book via Twitter. (John Locke’s book will be used primarily for this part, but see my disclaimer here.)

Thing is, Step 2 is ineffective until you do Step 1. And yes, I said thousands.

The reason huge numbers are important is only a small percentage of your audience/followers will buy your book, even if they are like minded. In direct sales books, they tell you that a direct mailing, when sent out to the general public, will only garner a 1% positive response.

But what if you only send your mail piece to everyone in your city that LOVES the kind of thing you’re selling, and have bought things like that before? The response will be a whopping 10% percent! (Insert sarcasm mark here.)

Thus, pumping your numbers up high is important AND you need to make sure those numbers are people who would reasonably buy your book (have somehow demonstrated that they like what you’re selling.)

The three books that I used to cobble together this method are all ebooks, so if you really want to try this you’ll have to get yourself a Kindle or other ereader. I have mine on my Kindle. Here are the titles:

(The John Locke book doesn’t cover the quick-add method, but does talk about how you handle your followers once you get them. Again, see my disclaimer here.)

For those of you who are thinking Cool, we get permission to spam, uh, NO. And for those of who who are thinking, Stay away from this, it’s spam, absolutely not!

This is not about spamming people. It’s about getting real followers who like what you like and may very well want to buy your book! The only thing I’ll be experimenting with is speeding up what before was a very slow process. Hallelujah, there’s hope!

In a couple days, I will post Part II of this and give an overview of the method I stuck together from these three books and how it’s worked for me so far.  I will not give away every single detail, I’ve done some real work on this, but I will give you enough to get you started, and if you read the three books above (and maybe even more) you may find you can tweak my method to suit your own way of thinking and doing things.

Talk to you soon!

Follow me, Denise Miller Holmes, on Twitter!

Follow Words for the Journey Christian Writers Guild on Twitter!

The Twitter Experiment 2; The Twitter Experiment 3; The Twitter Experiment 4


The Power of the Verbal Business Card, Part 1

Savvy Writer Article #1202 by DENISE MILLER HOLMES

Wherever you go, as a writer you need to promote yourself. You will especially need to promote when you are  engaging editors and agents at conferences. ALWAYS be ready to tell people what you do as a writer–and keep it to thirty seconds or less.

A dynamite way to do this is with a verbal business card. It’s very much like the “elevator pitch” you practice for your books, but it’s about you.

When asked what they do, most writers say, “I am a writer,” or, “I write romance novels,” or “I write historical non-fiction,” etc.  This response is somewhat interesting, but it doesn’t  grab. Proponents of the verbal business card say that you need to hook the listener, much like you hook the reader at the beginning of a novel.

Here is what a VBC does–it discards bland verbs like “I write” or “I am” and uses exciting verbs instead such as build, craft, teach, inform, manage, design, construct, generate, train, guide, establish, mentor, regulate, develop, structure, organize, etc.

The reason these verbs work better is they are verbs used to describe what authorities do. Teachers are authorities in our society. People who construct and train and design and regulate all have authority. Writers? Not so much. :D

Notice how much more powerful these statements are than “I am a writer”:

“I craft futuristic mystery stories that inform readers about social issues in an entertaining way.”

“I teach people who hate gardening how to care for their gardens in five easy steps  so they have more time to enjoy Life.”

If you are a Christian writer, here are more examples:

“I inform Christian women through my romance novels about God’s love, so they can find a deeper happiness.”

“I design materials for Sunday schools that helps primary-school-age children understand how to have a walk with God.”

“I teach teenagers about history through non-fiction that emphasizes the biblical worldview so they make constructive decisions.”

There are two more things we need to look at when writing a VBC–specificity and benefit.  These will be covered in Part 2.

If you enjoyed this article, you will also like Market YOU Before Your Book: A Lesson in Passive Marketing