Getting to #1 on Amazon – an interview with Jo Ellis

Cover of SpoiltIn today’s blog I have the privilege of interviewing Jo Ellis, Australian author of ‘Spoilt‘, which had a crazy ride to the top of the Amazon mountain earlier this year. It’s something we as authors aspire to. I asked Jo about the climb – and the view from the top.

Congratulations on being at #1 on Amazon, that’s quite an achievement. How do you feel about it?

Thank you. I still can’t believe it to be honest. It all happened quite quickly. Now it’s sunk in a little and I am just so happy that people are enjoying Spoilt.

How many people would have downloaded your book at this point?

As of last week (I haven’t got an up to date figure from NP) I was a few thousand over the hundred thousand. Majority of them were in February where about 60,000 were downloaded. It slowed down a little in March and has been going fairly steady since.

I know you’ve had a variety of ‘reviews’. It’s easy enough to react to good ones; what was your feeling about the bad ones?

To be honest I’m still finding it hard to take the bad ones. I’ve had a lot of very mixed reactions and quite a few negative ones. Some have been very valuable and I have taken a lot from them… the others, well I admit they hurt but I am learning to deal with them. Keeping the faith in my work has been difficult and I have gone through moments of self doubt. This has been the hardest thing to overcome in regard to my ‘success’. It is really easy to believe the negative ones and for a while I let it dampen my achievement.

How much marketing did you have to do? Which techniques did you find worked best for you?

I am totally clueless when it comes to marketing and I’m thankful for Tim and Night Publishing for doing majority of the work. I post updates on a Spoilt Facebook page and on Twitter but apart from that, not a great deal. I’m grateful to have a publisher who can do this for me, I find it hard to try and ‘sell’ myself.

The book was listed as ‘free’. Fellow writers know just how much work, blood, angst and soul goes into a novel. I assume your publisher was involved in making this decision. Was it hard to give your work away and what did you seek to achieve?

At first, when Amazon offered the promotion and Tim told me about it I was… hmm free, I don’t know. Just before it happened I had started to sell a few at 99c and I think I was in the 300’s in the bestseller list when it was offered. I wondered, well I have been doing OK, should I do this? At first we were only going to try it for the duration of the promotion and see what happened. When it took off we decided to leave it as is. What we hoped to achieve was some ‘attention’ or a few more downloads and perhaps if it went well, we could establish a ‘brand name’ and hopefully roll on from that with the sequel due out in April. We never expected what happened to happen and as quickly as it did.

Do you think the whole endeavour has been a success?

At this stage, yes. Time will tell how it worked when Fire Starter comes out, I guess.

Would you do it again, or recommend to others to try the same approach?

I would do it again with Spoilt if I did it all over again but I probably won’t be offering any others for free!  As you said in a previous question a lot of blood, angst and soul goes into every story and it would be nice to gain something from this hard work. At the same time I don’t write to be a bestseller and make loads of money (though being a paid writer would be nice) I write to hopefully give readers a story they will enjoy, just as reading has for me for so many years. When I receive an email from someone who has read my book and enjoyed it, this means more than the money any day. To be making a living out of it or having a bestseller is a bonus. Though I did ‘sell’ what is considered enough copies to be considered a bestseller with Spoilt, I know I have a long way to go.  This approach may not work for everyone but I believe that as a first time unknown, unestablished writer it could work for others like it did for me.

Please tell us a little bit about ‘Spoilt’ and where we can find the book.

It is first and foremost a romance, or an adult fairytale as I like to call my stories but it is also a suspense/crime story too. It is a story about Chelsea and Lucas, who is a detective.  They meet after her roommate is murdered and fall in love. The serial killer then targets Chelsea.  Lucas and his partner Maggie don’t know why and become increasingly frustrated as they hit one dead end after another. Lucas must protect her while trying to catch the killer. Lucas also has a painful past that clouds his decision making and ability to do a job he is usually so proficient at. If you are a crime lover this may not be right up your alley because the romance is the main element… it is more for romance lovers that like a bit of suspense and a crime story mixed in with the love story.  You can find my book at Amazon. It’s available in paperback and kindle format. Learn more about me at my website.

Thanks so much for your time, Jo. Best of luck in your future writing endeavours.

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About Greta van der Rol

I'm an author of fast-paced, action-adventure novels, mainly space opera - although I've been known to write in other genres. I live not far from the coast in Queensland, Australia and enjoy photography and cooking when I'm not bent over the computer. I have a degree in history and a background in building information systems, both of which go a long way toward helping me in my writing endeavours.

Posted on 12 April 2011, in On writing and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Hi, Jo and Greta.

    Jo, congratulations on all your success. You’ve obviously had many more good reviews than bad ones with those numbers. All the best with your next book 🙂

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