How To Tell A Great StoryGreat StoryTelling Network Newsletter
Volume 14, Issue 8 – 31 August 2018

I have a reason for delaying this newsletter by two weeks. It’s because Rohi and I worked on a Kindle edition of  The Age of Smiling Secrets that you can download FOR FREE from Amazon for the next five days or so. This offer is available worldwide. The paperback is also available for the minimum price set by Amazon. Grab your copies here.

In this edition of the newsletter, I share the journey that Rohi and I took to make this offer available.

Happy storytelling.
Aneeta Sundararaj


–> An Evolving Journey by Aneeta Sundararaj

–>60 Surprisingly Easy and Effective Ways to Market Your Book by Dr. Rohi Shetty

STORY ME – An Evolving Journey by Aneeta Sundararaj

On 14 August, I woke up to the sound of birds chirping and I just knew that it was going to be a good day. An hour later, I was preparing my breakfast as I mentally listed down all the things I needed to do that day. I remember that moment well. In my kitchen, I was pouring boiling water into the cup when I heard the beep on my phone. Who could be texting this early in the morning? I reached for the phone and saw that the notification that a message had come through from one of the editors at the publishing house that helped with the books.

Quickly, I opened the message on the phone app. Hers were the words I’d been waiting to read for a long time. Both my books Two Snakes Whistling at the Same Time and The Age of Smiling Secrets were printed, bound, and ready for distribution. I was aware that it would take up a month for the books to be distributed all over Malaysia. So, in the interim, I had time to figure out how to make these books available to those outside Malaysia. As such, in this story, I am going to share with you that journey to publishing the novel, for a start, outside Malaysia.

It wasn’t a journey I undertook alone. I roped in my long-time friend, fellow writer and columnist, Rohi. Perhaps, before I share the journey, a little more information about The Age of Smiling Secrets will be helpful.

Malaysia is in a unique position where both the laws of Syariah and the Civil Law are practised concurrently. This has given rise to a conflict in jurisdiction in certain cases. For instance, where a non-Muslim couple is married under the provisions of the Civil Law, confusion arises when one party converts to Islam and converts their children as well. A custody battle often ensues where the Syariah Court can grant custody of the children to their newly converted Muslim parent while the High Court of Malaya can grant custody to the non-Muslim parent.

This is the scenario I’ve played out in my novel where Kamini and her daughter, Nandini, are affected by one man’s selfish actions. It is also a story about Karuppan’s struggles as he tries to survive in modern Malaysia as a child of an indentured labourer.

As you may already know from previous stories I’ve written in this newsletter, ‘The Legend of Nagakanna’, an edited version of Chapter 9 in this novel, was first featured in an anthology called We Mark Your Memory: Writings from the Descendants of Indenture, published by the University of London in partnership with Commonwealth Writers in 2018. The anthology brought together, for the first time, new writing from descendants of indenture across the Commonwealth.

With one adventure over, now came the next challenge. How to make this book available to those outside Malaysia? I sort of know how to create an eBook for Kindle, having created one for Ladoo Dog and The Banana Leaf Men (Reprint). But these were done years ago and I’ve forgotten a lot of the steps. The steps are not difficult to follow, but they require time and patience, both of which are in short supply right now. I have many on-going projects that take up a lot of my time and I knew that there was no way I could manage this project on my own. And that’s how Rohi came into the picture.

One of the first things he asked me was, “In KDP, do you want Kindle, Kindle Unlimited or Createspace?”


I was so confused by all this jargon. And this was only the first step. I decided to use simple language and replied, “Rohi, I want an eBook that we can sell on and a print version for those outside Malaysia.” Mercifully, he said OK, named his fee, and got working on the whole project.

Although we live in different countries, working with Rohi was easy-peasy. He didn’t overwhelm me with questions or choices to make. He simply went about doing what he had to do by meticulously following the instructions provided. In no time at all, he sent me the files to upload onto I would love to explain the differences between the books in terms of font used, the headers, footers and all the formatting issues. However, I can’t because Rohi did all this for me. Thank God! What I do know is this – the formatting issues for an eBook far differ from that of a print version of the book. I will leave Rohi to explain the rest.

Once that was done and dusted, I decided to attempt something that Rohi vociferously encouraged me to do: enter the Kindle version of The Age of Smiling Secrets into a competition. So, we chose the Kindle Storyteller and worked on uploading the files to meet their requirements.

Now, what remains is something special for all the subscribers to this newsletter. I have, for the next five days, made this eBook absolutely free. In return, I will be eternally grateful if you could read the eBook and post a short review it on Here’s the link again:

The Age of Smiling Secrets:

The book and eBook are available worldwide, but for ease of reference, here are some of the more popular links:

What’s next on this journey? I cannot say for sure as the story evolves from day to day. What I am learning is the need to take things one day at a time.  It is my hope by the time you read the next story, I’ll be able to share with you more information about the other book, sales and, hopefully, a story about the success of this competition.

Meanwhile, I trust that you’ll enjoy reading The Age of Smiling Secrets as much as I loved writing it. As I’ve said before, I still cry every single time I read the last sentence in this novel.

STILLNESS AND FLOW: 60 Surprisingly Easy and Effective Ways to Market Your Book by Dr. Rohi Shetty

If you have just published your first or next book like Aneeta, make a specific book promotion plan and write down the number of books you want to sell per month. When you have a specific goal in mind, it helps you to plan your book promotion effectively and also serves as a yardstick of your success. At the end of the month, review your results and make a fresh plan.

60 Simple Ways to Achieve Your Book Marketing Goals

You may already be doing some of these methods. You need not do all of them. Choose the ones that appeal to you and let go of the rest. Shortlist the ones that you want to implement and add them to your calendar. Action is supreme.


  1. Aim for at least 5-10 book reviews after the publication of your book. Request your email subscribers and book bloggers to post a review. They need not be 5-star reviews. A mix of review types is more credible.
  2. Create urgency to buy the book right now. Increasing the number of sales within a short period after publication will boost your ranking on Amazon. To create urgency, offer special limited-time bonuses or discounts.
  3. Maintain your Amazon Author Central account. Add video, links to your social media, and to your blog.
  4. Add a link to your bio to your email list opt-in page on your Amazon Author Central page.
  5. Optimize your Amazon book page so that your ideal readers can find your book.
  6. Optimize your Amazon book description and add your book keywords to it.
  7. Invite readers to join your email list in your book.
  8. If you have published other books on Amazon, be sure to list them in the current book with links.
  9. Add your bio in your book and how your readers can contact you (link to your website).
  10. Research other books in your genre to find out which categories they’re using and request Amazon to add your book in more categories. You can be in up to ten categories.
  11. Include sample chapters of your other books in the back of each book.
  12. Sign up for the Amazon Associates program so you can earn a small fee every time someone buys from your link on Amazon.
  13. Post reviews on Amazon for the work of other authors in your genre and include “author of [title of your book]” in your review.
  14. If you’re doing a free ebook promotion through Kindle Select, sign up for free ebook promotion sites in advance of the free date.
  15. Experiment with the retail price of your ebook. Increase downloads with free (if on Kindle Select), and then increase the price to $0.99, $1.99, and so on. This will improve your ranking on Amazon and boost the visibility of your book.
  16. Sometimes, the bonus is included as part of the book, as a coupon code or link to free content. If this is the case, make sure to point it out in the book description
  17. Use Amazon Ads and set up a low-cost campaign based on keywords. (Available via your dashboard on KDP.)

Your website

  1. Add Google Analytics to your site so you know where your readers are coming from.
  2. Offer a sample chapter or chapters as a free download from your site.
  3. Add a buy now link in your blog to your Amazon book.
  4. If you sell printed books on your website, autograph them to make them more special and exclusive for your readers.
  5. Post your book one chapter at a time on your blog, as you’re writing it. Invite your blog readers to purchase the book to read the ending.
  6. Update your media kit and add your contact information, your bio, a high-resolution picture of you and your book cover, and links to your social media profiles.
  7. Incorporate the research done during the writing of your book in your blog posts.
  8. Add positive book reviews to your website and social media.
  9. Create a resource page on your website for other books or products in your area of interest that you can recommend to your readers.
  10. Let other authors or product creators know that you’ve recommended them and offer to write a testimonial for their website.
  11. Research other books in your genre and pick ten to recommend and review on your blog.
  12. Set up a contest to give these books away if someone joins your email list.

Your social media

  1. Add a link to your book in your bio on all your social media accounts and in your email signature.
  2. Make your Facebook and Twitter backgrounds an image of your current book cover.
  3. Run a book giveaway on Goodreads.
  4. Create a profile on LinkedIn and include your books.
  5. Ask for cover design feedback on your personal and Page feeds on Facebook.
  6. Find other authors in your genre on Facebook and join their pages and/or groups so that you can check out how they market their books.


  1. Do book launch party with friends and family.
  2. Do author event such as book signings or book readings at a local bookstores.
  3. Do free speaking engagements and offer signed copies of your books after the talk.
  4. Offer to run your books on consignment in local bookstores.
  5. Offer your book on consignment to other retail stores such as gift shops and general retail stores.
  6. Donate one or more copies to your local libraries.
  7. Pitch your book to local media and try to associate the topic of your book to a current event.
  8. Create a hashtag for your book and also associate it with trending hashtags of current events on social media.
  9. Pitch for interviews on radio stations, both local and online.
  10. Get an interview on The Authors Show for free.

Your email list

  1. Your email list is your most important tool for marketing your books. At the end of each post, use an opt-in form to invite the reader to join your email list.
  2. Treat your email list subscribers to exclusive content that they can only get if they’re on your email list.
  3. Offer advance reader copies for free to your email subscribers and request them for book reviews on the launch day of your book.
  4. Offer a special bonus gift if someone emails you with their Amazon receipt, proving they bought your book or a link to their review of your book.

Your online network

  1. Approach bloggers in your country or niche and offer to write a guest post for their website.
  2. Approach bloggers or authors to post guest articles on your website.
  3. Reach out to other authors in your genre and see if they’d be willing to promote you to their list in exchange for promoting them to your list.
  4. Request to be a guest on podcasts related to your genre.
  5. Promote the work of other authors in your genre.
  6. Join the email lists of other authors in your country and your genre and check out the topics they discuss, and how they promote their books.

Additional marketing steps

  1. Create a professional book trailer.
  2. Distribute a press release about your book on Online Press Release Distribution Service.
  3. Publish your ebook on Smashwords, which distributes it to all retail sites except Amazon.
  4. Get your book translated into other languages and publish on Amazon.
  5. Create an audio version of your book.

(Just a reminder: You can download the digital version of Aneeta’s next novel, The Age of Smiling Secrets for free from Amazon for the next five days. Grab it here.)

The book and eBook are available worldwide, but for ease of reference, here are some of the more popular links:



Join the conversation

I will be happy to help you publish and promote your book on Amazon or Smashwords. If you want to publish your book or want help to promote your book, let me know.

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