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How To

SPA Girls Podcast

Updated 7 days ago

How To
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Wondering about self-publishing and don't know where to start?

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Wondering about self-publishing and don't know where to start?

iTunes Ratings

40 Ratings
Average Ratings

Lots of fun, and a day ahead!

By audiofilly - Oct 14 2019
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These ladies have dropped an episode every week for about as long as I can remember. They have had some excellent guests, and when they do a show that is just the SPA girls, they choose and prepare great content. One quibble is that sometimes the audio for a guess is not as clear as I need it to be--but then, they are recording from halfway around the world--which is how they publish the Monday episode on Sunday. Really nice start to my week.

Beware the Spoilers

By EleniSS - Sep 09 2019
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I just started listening. The first couple podcasts completely spoiled the interviewed authors books. Plus their audio is bad. Some people are too loud and others can’t be heard.

iTunes Ratings

40 Ratings
Average Ratings

Lots of fun, and a day ahead!

By audiofilly - Oct 14 2019
Read more
These ladies have dropped an episode every week for about as long as I can remember. They have had some excellent guests, and when they do a show that is just the SPA girls, they choose and prepare great content. One quibble is that sometimes the audio for a guess is not as clear as I need it to be--but then, they are recording from halfway around the world--which is how they publish the Monday episode on Sunday. Really nice start to my week.

Beware the Spoilers

By EleniSS - Sep 09 2019
Read more
I just started listening. The first couple podcasts completely spoiled the interviewed authors books. Plus their audio is bad. Some people are too loud and others can’t be heard.

The Best Episodes of:

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SPA Girls Podcast

Updated 7 days ago

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Wondering about self-publishing and don't know where to start?

Rank #1: SPA Girls Podcast – EP162 – How To Launch Like A Pro

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In response to a few recent questions we’ve been asked on this topic, we decided to talk through the basics of launch strategies for first-time or early career authors, or for authors starting off a new series or pen name.

It’s sometimes difficult to know what you should do when you’re launching a new book. We all want to make sure our book babies do as well as they possibly can when we launch, but there’s also a whole lot of often contradictory advice out there on the best way to do it.

This episode is about distilling the best of the best launch advice out there for authors, so that you can make the right decisions about your launch strategy. Go forth and conquer!

Questions to understand:

  • KU or Wide
  • How fast can you write?
  • How fast are other top sellers in your genre publishing?
  • The more books you have, the more power your promotions and options are, so focus on production of at least three in a series.

Slow and Steady Launch, Single Book Exclusive to Amazon/in KU

KU enrolment is three months (90 days) and you can set your book your book to free for five days promotion.

Month one:        Upload at full price (see others in your genre for price guide), promote on social media, friends’ newsletters etc

Month two:        Use 3 free days and book ads where you can to promote those three free days – goal is to get readers and newsletter signups

Month three:     Use final 2 days promo – repeat as above.

Day 89: decide whether KU worth staying in or not (Temper expectations: probably won’t make much money at all with just one book up.)  If not, then uncheck the enrolment box.

Slow Wide Launch with Permafree & Pre-Orders

Publish three books in series, make first in series permafree and direct all advertising to that. Books can be published either together, fast release (one month apart) or slower with pre-orders.

99c Faster Launch of New Author -Amazon Exclusive

(inspired by Susan Kay Quinn)


Write book and accompanying short piece in the world – upload short piece (novella, short story) to Prolific Works and Bookfunnel gather subscribers.

Create paperback version of book and get as many reviews as possible (friends’ arc teams, booksprout) so that when epub is uploaded, there are 5 – 10 reviews.


Upload to Amazon in KU at 99c price for 7 – 30 days, then raise to full price

As soon as live, book ads in first week after official release over the next 5 – 7 days; do facebook ad

Repeat books 2 – 3 and onward

Upsized Launch with fries (KU or Wide)

Write freebie magnet to get mailing list subscribers

Write all three books in series and launch together, with pre-order for #4

Discount or permafree first in series; full price other books

Book ads for discounted first book – ongoing in bookbub, facebook, ad lists

Points to Remember

There are two schools of thought re launching all together vs one week apart to stay in Hot New Releases list longer – for some it works best all together, and others it works best one week apart. No-one can tell you what will happen for your books.

Experiment, be willing to try different things, don’t let the stress of launching stop you. Just pick one way that feels best for you and go for it.

Load your book 2 to 3 days BEFORE your official announced launch day to allow retailers time to make “live”.

If you have a mailing list, spread your launch announcements out over a few days to different segments of the list to spread purchases out


Draft to Digital Holiday Deadlines:

Susan Kay Quinn :

Bookbub Launch Guide:

Mark Dawson Launch Podcast:

Nov 21 2018



Rank #2: SPA Girls Podcast – EP182 – Facebook Ads with Maria Luis (Part One)

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Not sure about how Facebook Ads work? Need to learn the basics?

Join the SPA Girls as bestselling author Maria Luis breaks down Facebook Ads for us, from the beginning steps, to how to choose the best images; plus what to do, and what not to do, and everything in between! 

This is the first part of a two-part series on Facebook Ads from an author who has been successfully running her own ads for the last two years. It features loads of tips and advice for running ads, how to tell if it’s a good ad, and how to scale up once you’ve got an ad that’s working for you.

If you’ve been thinking about trying out Facebook ads, or have previously tried them only to be disappointed, then this is the episode for you!

P.S. to see what ads an author’s page (or brand’s) is running, just go to facebook, click on Page Transparency (right hand column on desktop) and click SEE MORE – then scroll down to “Ads From This Page” and you’ll be able to view the ads they’re running.

Example of Maria’s facebook ad:

Apr 10 2019



Rank #3: SPA Girls Podcast – EP148 – Interview with Indie Superstar Bella Andre

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Today’s interview is a must-listen interview with… Indie Superstar Bella Andre!

We were super excited to be able to chat to Bella, who it turns out is the most lovely, down-to-earth person we’ve interviewed so far, plus being super inspirational. She was in New Zealand for the Romance Writers of New Zealand conference, and we were able to kidnap and interview her about self-publishing, how she made it as an Indie, and her advice for people aiming to follow in her footsteps…

We had such a great time chatting to her, that we tried to adopt her and convince her to move to New Zealand, but she was a little resistant to the idea… 🙂

To find out more about Bella and her books go to:

The SPA Girls Get Started Self-Publishing Workshop to be held in Auckland, September 2018, closes soon to bookings. Just a couple of seats left for this intensive self-publishing 101 day.  Go to for more details.

Aug 15 2018



Rank #4: SPA Girls Podcast – EP145 – Newsletter Ninja Tammi Labrecque

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This week we’re joined by the Newsletter Ninja, Tammi Labrecque, who talks to us about creating an amazing author newsletter that will help amp up your writing career.

She talks about why every author needs a newsletter, and how to turn the people who sign up for your list into super-fans who will buy every book you write.

Tammi also gives us a whole heap of tips on what kind of content to put into your newsletter, how to find the perfect subscribers for your books, and when to cut subscribers from your list.

It’s another tip-packed episode that you’ll want to listen to carefully. I know Shar took heaps of notes (She even broke out the shorthand…) and you will too!

It’s never too early to start your newsletter. Even if you only have a mailing list of friends and no book to promote, you can play around with whichever program you chose and find out how to make and send a newsletter long before you need to.

Before you jump in, give some thought about the person who might represent your main subscriber. This is called an avatar. What do they like to read? What is their demographic – age, location etc?

Now, decide on a program – mailer lite, MailChimp, and active campaign have free usage to a certain level. (There are loads more.)

Consider the look of your newsletter and how often you will send it. There will be templates to help on each platform. Pay attention to the welcome sequence and auto-responders to make your life easier!

Once you have a few subscribers, it’s a good idea to split them into lists and send the newsletter out over a period of a few days, especially around a release. This ensures that you have a steadier stream of sales which we know Amazon looks more favorably on.

Organic growth is still the best from links in the back of your books and from your website/Facebook etc. However, sites like Ryan Zee’s, or Melissa Storm’s Litring, can help to build your list faster. Just be careful and choose sites that have integrity and don’t overuse them otherwise you will be targeting the same people.

What should I put in my newsletter?

  • Make sure when you do send them that you have a Give to Ask ratio. Meaning – don’t only ask your subscribers to buy your book, but what you can give them.
  • Giveaways should be relevant and aimed at your loyal subscribers.
  • A free book.
  • A sample of your work.
  • A short story.
  • A snippet of your life.
  • Animal pictures
  • A cover reveal
  • A sale on your or another author’s book.
  • A competition
  • Recommend other authors in the same genre you like to read.

Cross-promote with other like-minded authors paying attention to genre, heat level and style of writing. You can do this with authors you know or find some on Bookfunnel or from groups you can join on Facebook.

Try sending your newsletter once a month for sales and then you could send another mid-way in the month with the freebies or giveaways.

The time to ramp up the selling should be when you have a new release.


Tammi’s upcoming course comes highly recommended by many in the industry: Mailing List Expert

Her book Newsletter Ninja: How To Become An Author Mailing List Expert is out August 12, 2018

Find Tammi at

Jul 25 2018



Rank #5: SPA Girls Podcast – EP200 – What We’ve Learned From Our Amazing Guests

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Here it is. Our 200th Episode! Yay! Who’d have thought that we’d ever make it this far??

First of all, we’d like to say thank you to everyone who listens to the show, we appreciate you all! It’s been an amazing few years, and we’ve loved every minute of it.

This week is a celebration episode, where we look back over those 200 episodes, and talk about the common traits of all the successful self publishers we’ve spoken to. 

From the humbleness of Bella Andre and the flexible nature of Serena Woods, to the smart work ethic of Skye Warren and the focus of Kathryn Le Veque, we cover it all. 

We will give you the ultimate list of self publishing traits that will help you rise to the top of the Indie pile! Don’t miss it! 

Podcast interviews mentioned in the 200th Show

Bella Andre

Serenity Woods

Kathryn LeVeque

Skye Warren

Zoe York

Geoff Symon

Maria Luis

Natasha Bajema

Damon Suede

Aug 14 2019



Rank #6: SPA Girls Podcast – EP170 – Get Your Head In The Game

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Are you motivated or disillusioned by all the “end of year earnings” screenshots some authors post? For some of us, it’s incredibly inspiring; others find it a distraction or even a bit depressing! There is no “right” answer – the trick is understanding yourself and this week we talk about the things you CAN control and why you should feel super positive about that!

We also discuss Melissa Storm’s Litring Reader Survey which shows some very encouraging reader buying behaviour that can help your sales without you having to spend a fortune on advertising.

We put our thinking caps on and came up with our Top Ten Things that a self publisher needs to be (in the SPA Girls’ opinion 😉 )

  1. Thick skinned.
  2. Be willing to take risks.
  3. Be willing to learn new skills.
  4. Don’t buy into the drama, and someone else’s bull****
  5. Find your tribe.
  6. Be professional.
  7. Stay focused.
  8. Celebrate your successes.
  9. Don’t lose the passion.
  10. Remember you’re a star.

Notes & Links

Litring Reader Survey:

to join the SPA Girls in a live workshop? Join our mailing list here and we’ll
let you know the minute we have workshop bookings open.  Info here:

Come say hi on Facebook and Twitter

Jan 15 2019



Rank #7: SPA Girls Podcast – EP142 – Personal Branding for Authors with Lauren Clemett

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This week we were privileged to have personal branding expert Lauren Clemett with us to discuss how to create your personal author brand, and why it’s so important. Based in Australia, Lauren has a wealth of experience with advertising, marketing and branding from a distinguished career in England, New Zealand and Australia. She now helps entrepreneurs understand their personal brand, and how they can use that to amp up their business, and find the right clients. For us, she talks about how to create a personal brand for you the author, and how to figure out who your readers are, and why they should love you! (Hint: it’s all about them)

If the thought of branding gives you hives, then you need to sit down and have a listen to this episode! Lauren takes us through the basics, explains how to create a brand that represents you and your books, and talks about the ways that you can use this information to amp up your books and your author business.

This is another tip-packed episode, so make sure you have your note book handy!

Show Notes:

At 8 years old Lauren was told she had ‘word blindness’ and would never be able to read or write properly, yet she went on to become a five time best selling author and Stevie Award Winning Neurobranding expert, using her dyslexia disability as her greatest asset – to understand how the brain sees brands.
For over 25 years Lauren worked in world leading advertising agencies including Saatchi & Saatchi, Ogilvy & Mather and Clemenger BBDO as Production Manager and Brand Manager for international corporate AXA, as well as owning her own advertising agency.
She owns her own personal branding consultancy, the Ultimate Business Propellor and created the award winning Authority Rocket program which has helped hundreds of professional services providers around the World, to become well known, well paid & wanted.

What is branding, and why is it important?

A personal brand is the ability to paint a particular picture of yourself, your core values, and emotions in the mind of the reader.

‘You can’t judge a book by it’s cover,’ is not true in this case. A reader wants to know who the author behind the book is. What are their core values? What is relatable to them?

If you choose to have pen names, then each must have it’s only clear branding.

Reader Persona

  1. Get to know what it is you want to be known for as an author. What do you want your reputation to be?
  2. Who is your target reader (avatar). What are their attitudes and beliefs. What do they want to get out of reading your book?
  3. WIIFM – What’s in it for me (the reader)

How to create the personal brand

Before you do anything, even write the book, consider the purpose, and set the intention.  What is the outcome you want when people read your book?

Your personal brand is your expert ease. The things you do with ease that others may find difficult. What do you find easy to talk, and write about? It’s pointless doing something that doesn’t relate to you, the story will not flow if it is forced and you’re not interested.

Engage and capture the essence of how you want to make people feel.

It might help you to think about mind mapping before you begin. Get all the things out of your head that relate to the book you want to write.

Marketing is easier if you already know who you want to buy your book. Knowing your audience is vital. This will help with covers, blurbs and social media.

Finding your true North.

How do you rise above those you’re in competition with? Everyone is doing what you are, so how do you make yourself known. What is your point of difference? This is why you must identify what do you want to be known for.

Reputation- what do you want your reputation to be in the market place. What do you want people to say about you?)

Recognition- what do you want to be recognized for. Covers, story methodology, short gritty content, or sweet romance?

Respect- setting intentions. Create appreciation by putting up a really good book. When writing a series ensure you give the reader what they want and expect, continuity is important. Reviewers will help to build respect in your books, and brand. Look at achieving awards, those will help create awareness and recognition. Get yourself out there in the market place!

You can’t help every Mary in the dairy (so don’t try, just focus on what is relative to you and your brand)

How much do you want this? Purpose and Intention. Take the leap and put yourself out there.

Fear is the number one factor that holds a writer back!

Fear of failure

Fear of success

Lauren creates a weekly action planner, and this helped her write four books in a short space of time.

Finding your process is important.

Beware of Bright-Shiny-Object-Ities. Often a newbie writer will come up with an idea without planning the direction they are heading in, and consequently will change focus easily and start a new book before finishing the last one.

Remember the hand guide to help achieve your natural personal brand.

Thumb – (thumbs up) consider all the things that make you feel good as an author.

Index finger – (direction) what’s the stuff you know about already that you can infuse in your books?

Middle finger – (flipping the bird) what’s the stuff you don’t like. What doesn’t work for you?

Ring finger – what engages and captivates you. What do you like to write and could write forever when you get in the zone?

Little finger – what are the little things you do with ease, and likely do automatically the more you write. The little nuances you use without thought.

We’re living in the age of authenticity, so don’t try and be someone you aren’t.


Ultimate Business Propeller. (free starter course on website for branding)

UBPERS FB page –

Lisa J Faith –

Jul 04 2018



Rank #8: SPA Girls Podcast – EP153 – From Cookie Cutter To Kapow: Bringing Your Characters To Life

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Name your favourite character from any book you’ve ever read. What did you like best about that character? Was it how they acted? Was it their personality, or because they stood up for something they believed in?

Those are the kinds of questions you should be asking when you’re designing the characters for your next book. This week our topic is how to create characters that your readers will love, and with that in mind we dissect what makes a good character and how you can create characters for your stories that will take your novel to the next level.

We delve into what characteristics are important, how to create tension between the hero and heroine using their personalities and flaws, and how you can use your character’s traits to move the story forward and follow the arc of the plot.

We also talk about how to help your readers to get to know your characters, how to pull them into the story by making them feel like they know your characters really well, and how to make readers cry. (Mawaahahaha….)

Sep 19 2018



Rank #9: SPA Girls Podcast – EP204 – Snappy Beginnings With Amy Andrews

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Ever been in a bookstore and opened a book to read the first couple of pages? (Or clicked the look inside on Amazon?)

Ever put the book back, deciding it wasn’t that interesting? 

Yep, we have too. 

And that’s exactly what we talk to Australian romantic comedy author Amy Andrews about this week. She takes us through the concept of first pages, and how to make sure readers not only pick up your book, but find they can’t put it down again (until they’ve reached the end!). 

Should you start with dialogue? What words should you cull? Exactly what are readers looking for? Find out the answers to these questions and many more in this episode of the SPA Girls Podcast! 

Check out Amy’s website here:

Sep 11 2019



Rank #10: SPA Girls Podcast – EP174 – How To Write A Regency Romance

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This episode we talk to our very own Wendy Vella about writing Regency romance. Since 2013, Wendy has forged a very successful indie career writing historical and contemporary romance. Her Regencies have been on the Amazon’s top seller lists many times and collectively she’s sold over one million books to date.

Like many romance writers, Wendy cut her historical reading teeth on Georgette Heyer, and then discovered the wonderful worlds of Eloisa James, Stephanie Laurens, Julia Quinn and Lisa Kleypas (and many more!). Regency romance is a subgenre of varying heat levels and sensibilities – from sweet, comedy of manners novels, to the succulent, sensual Regencies that Wendy writes, through to Regency-set erotica, there are eager readers wanting these books.

So how to start? Wendy covers how she goes about researching her novels, the advantages of writing in a series and the elements that every aspiring historical romance writer needs to be aware of.

Wendy says:
-You must love the era you chose to write about. You cannot write about it if you do not, and why would you want to?
-First of all there is nothing like reading this genre to understand it. This I did, extensively before writing it. Authors I love: Julia Quinn, Eloisa James, Stephanie Laurens, Tessa Dare, Anne Gracie and so many more. Then of course I read the more traditionally accurate books by Georgette Heyer.
-I also had good research books that I found hugely helpful.
One was – What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew: From Fox Hunting to Whist-the Facts of Daily Life in Nineteenth-Century England
-I write fast, so I don’t like to stop for research, so what I do is put RESEARCH in capital letters if I need research done about something, then continue writing. Second draft I fill these gaps in.
-You can write about a fictitious character as long as the facts relating to people, and places of that era are accurate. Believe me readers will let you know if you get this wrong.
-Choose an exact time period, this will determine clothing food, setting etc, and will shape your characters as they will face different challenges to those characters in modern settings
-Don’t fill the book with historical facts, you are writing to entertain not bore your readers, unless you’re writing an encyclopedia or research book
-Remember to show and don’t tell. You may have done a lot of research but your readers don’t need to read all about it
-Try to understand the religion and attitudes of the time period. What the children’s role is etc?
-What did they talk about in those times, what were the big current events. War? Who were the important people, or discoveries being made, medical, botanical, industrial revolution. Were there disease, what about jobs?
-What were modes of transportation.
-Language, check to make sure certain words are in use, and weren’t discovered later.

Helpful Links
Wendy Vella’s Books:

Feb 13 2019



Rank #11: SPA Girls Podcast – EP168 – 31 Marketing Ideas To Jumpstart Your Year

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This year we decided to begin with something a little different… Instead of the usual “motivational and uplifting” or “beginning of the year goal setting” type show, we thought we’d give you 31 quick and easy marketing ideas that you can do each day to give you a solid start to 2019.

It’s a great way to show you how little jobs done daily can add up quickly to make something pretty great. You’ll be amazed at the results you can achieve from what seems like a tiny daily effort!

You can do each and every one of the 31 ideas that we give you and tackle one per day in January, or you could pick one of them and do it every day instead.

The important thing is to be doing something each day that will advance your author career. Little steps can help you achieve so much more than you expect!

If you’re looking for some ideas for ways to amp up your marketing in 2019, then this is the episode for you. You’ll be pleased you made the effort at the end of January, we promise. 🙂


One marketing thing a day that you can do to further your career in 2019:

1. Survey your email list to find out more about what they like in your books.
2. Write a short story about a character from one of your books but for a season, like So and So’s Thanksgiving.
3. Create a list of keywords to use on your amazon ads.
4. Claim your bookbub author profile. (
5. Check your back matter and make sure it links to your other books or your website for an email list.
6. Have a look at an old blurb and see if you can amp it up.
7. A/B Test an email for the content or best subject line.
8. Try out a cover reveal.
9. Try out a preorder.
10. Apply for a book bub ad. (apply here)
11. Submit a book to an award. (click here for some ideas on the Publishers Weekly blog page.)
12. Sign up to HARO (Help a Reporter Out)
13. Email an author who writes in the same genre to say hi, and that you like their books.
14. Reach out to local press in your area.
15. Make sure your branding is consistent across all platforms (ie you use the same author photo across all social media, website and Amazon etc)
16. Create a Pinterest board for inspiration on your next book. (eg here’s Trudi’s one for the Firecaller series)
17. Join an author forum. (Start with Romance Divas!)
18. Create a boxed set.
19. Refresh your metadata.
20. Update your bio.
21. Start a course
22. Take one step toward improving your health.
23. Watch Alessandra Torre’s free 15-minute webinar on how to create a product display AMS ad
24. Create a “colour palette” for your author (or series) brand by uploading your cover to and download a free palette.
25. Get a jumpstart on social media posts with this free social media calendar from Hubspot with ALL the US holidays for 2019.
26. Pick your poorest selling book – set the timer for 30 mins and write 30 taglines for it highlighting a trope – keep going no matter how whacky they are – one amongst them will be gold. Try it out on your book description page.
27. Share the love by promoting another upcoming author in your same genre on your social media and to readers (without recompense or expectation of returned favour)
28. Write a basic business plan: see Denise Grover Swank’s blog for inspiration and guidance.
29. Revisit your author pic – how old is it? Does it represent you and your genre appropriately?
30. Make a list of other authors you’d like to be associated with and use them when likening your work to theirs. eg “If you like xxx, then you’ll love xxx.”
31. Write a list of Pros and Cons for your work in either KU or wide and if what you’re doing isn’t working be brave and try the opposite.

BONUS: Get some stickers and reward yourself. (No prizes guessing where/who this baby came from!)

Jan 02 2019



Rank #12: SPA Girls Podcast – EP164 – Talking Reverse Harem with Steffanie Holmes

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We’ve talked about reverse harem a little bit on the show, but this week we decided to get someone on who knows all about it, so we could pick their brains… Mwahahaha…

We convinced USA Today Bestselling paranormal romance author Steffanie Holmes to come on the show and chat about exactly what reverse harem is, how she came to write reverse harem novels, what you need to know about it, and how she so successfully launched her recent series.

Steff is a very smart author, and she’s steeped in the reverse harem world, so not only was she was able to give us heaps of useful information for how to write and launch a reverse harem series, but  also insights into her writing style, her processes and ideas for marketing your books.

Cher’s main takeaway from the interview: I loved Steff’s idea of using a rough outline with just a few sentences per chapter to help speed along the writing process, but the key is to have an idea of how to begin and where the story ends. I might never write reverse harem, but I’m sure that even a simple outline would help when you’re trying to corral several heroes!

Trudi’s main takeaway from the interview: It was fascinating to be able to pick Steff’s brains on the ins and outs of the reverse harem genre (or relationship type, as Steff told us to call it), and to learn more about the reverse harem Facebook groups, and the ways she’s been able to do outreach for her new series.


Steff’s website:
Steff’s blog:

Follow the SPA Girls on facebook and twitter @spagirlspodcast

Dec 05 2018



Rank #13: SPA Girls Podcast – EP139 – Kelly Lytle from Findaway Voices

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This week we have Kelly Lytle from Findaway Voices with us in the SPA to talk about creating audio books for Indie authors.

If you’ve ever considered creating an audio book, but were concerned about the price, the technology or the difficulty involved, then this episode is a must listen. Kelly takes us through the whole process of creating and distributing an audio book with Findaway Voices, from the very moment an author contacts them, to finding the perfect narrator, to pricing, and then to the recording and approval process. He demystified the whole process for us, and showed us how doable it actually is!

It’s a fascinating subject, and Kelly was a great sport about answering all our silly questions, and giving us the kind of in-depth information on audio books that we’ve all wanted to know, but have been too afraid to ask. (Or maybe just too lazy? It’s a close call. It’s nice and cozy in the SPA.)

Findaway Voices is part of the larger Findaway company which is world’s largest B2B audiobook delivery platform.

Findaway Voices is an audiobook creation and distribution service built to help independent authors and small publishers create and distribute their audiobooks. They are a fully non-exclusive platform to the largest network of audio sellers in the world and have recently partnered with Draft2Digital which allows authors to easily port their ebook’s metadata over to set up an audiobook at Findaway. Importantly for those of us outside the US, Findaway Voices, unlike Amazon’s ACX, allows international authors to create and distribute their audiobooks.

Like D2D, Findaway Voices has a very “author-first” approach to authors retain complete control over their pricing, distribution and choice of narrator.  Wendy also talks about her very positive experience in producing her first audiobook.

It’s a great episode – especially if you’re thinking of diversifying your income by doing audio books at any time in the future (which you should be!)


Jun 14 2018

1hr 7mins


Rank #14: SPA Girls – EP203 – How to Fail to Succeed

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Do you feel like your writing career is filled with mistakes? Failures? Problems? 


That means you’re putting yourself out there, trying new things, and moving in a positive direction in your writing career.

If you’re not doing any of the above…start right now! 

Why, you ask, in horror? 

Because having a pile of failures next to your name means you’re getting out there and doing things in your author business.

If you talk to the most successful entrepreneurs in the world, they’ll all tell you stories of the times they failed, the businesses that didn’t quite go as expected, and the problems they had to overcome.

And that’s okay, because learning how to fail is integral to succeeding.

It teaches us resilience, determination, and persistence. It shows us that we’re human, and that it’s okay to make mistakes, as long as we keep going. 

On the flip side, if you aren’t doing anything, you won’t fail.


Which would you prefer? 


Failure is the chance to learn and grow – it’s not the end, it’s the beginning and an opportunity to evolve and improve your publishing / writing.

Shar’s notes:

Failure helps you conquer Fear Of Future Failure – from Psychology Today article ” Fear of failure is the emotional, cognitive, and behavioral reaction to the negative consequences you anticipate for failing to achieve a goal. It is the intense worry, the negative thinking, and the reluctance to take action you experience, when you imagine all the horrible things that could happen if you failed to achieve a goal.”

The Podcast “How To Fail” by Elizabeth Day features interviews with people about their failures and has written a book of the same name. She talks about failure as a key to success. Day’s advice is to remember that we all fail which is obvious and comforting! “We are all going to fail in our life, that’s a fact. You might as well build up emotional resilience and you might as well confront failure so that the next time it happens, because it will happen, you feel better equipped, stronger and you can learn more from it.” ~

It builds emotional resilience – important for writers!

You learn more from what doesn’t work than what does

Trudi’s Section
If you’re not experiencing failure as you go along, then you’re not trying hard enough! You’re not doing enough! Failure is how we all learn and grow.

If you’re doing everything in such a controlled, structured way that you never fail, you’re never going to grow. You’re never going to get better. You’re never going to achieve everything you could be achieving.

If we’re scared of failure, it’s often that we’re worried about what people might think or what they might say about us. Or even what we might say about ourselves. But when it comes down to it, what is failure? definition: nonperformance of something due, required, or expected.

So by that definition it’s not doing something that was required. So if we were to fail, it’s that we’re doing things, and we’re trying new things and we’re learning new things.

So which option do you think gives us the most growth, and the most opportunity for success?

Darren Hardy – It’s like building a muscle, right? The key to growth is massive repeated failure.

Like is like a pendulum, on one side is pain, rejection, failure and sadness, and on the other is love, joy, happiness and success. If you stay in the middle, you won’t experience pain, rejection and sadness, but you won’t enjoy love, joy and success either.

Push your pendulum into pain, rejection, failure and sadness and it will rock you back into the other side.

If I go a whole month without failing, I’m mad at myself. Because I’m not pushing myself enough. I want to be more successful, and I need to be putting myself out there more.

The only thing stopping you from reaching your potential is that you haven’t turned fear into fun.

Brooke Castillo says similar – if you’re not taking massive action, doing as much as you can to move yourself forward, and this will definitely include failures, then you’re not going to be as successful as you want.

Also, need to change how you think about failure. If you see it as the big bad thing that you have to avoid at all costs, then you’ll do everything to avoid it. But if you see it as a part of what you need to do, and it’s just another step in the ladder, then you will take the negative emotions out of it, and allow yourself to grow and change.

“There’s not a lot of consideration as to why. I have a lot of people say to me, “I have a real fear of failure,” and I’ll say “Well, what does that mean? What are you afraid of? What is failure? Why are you afraid of it?” They’ll think about it and come back and say “You know what? I’ve never really thought about it that way.””

Definition of Failure from Google:
“The omission of expected or required action.” The omission of expected or required action. I love this definition of failure. If failure means we just didn’t do our own expected action or something else didn’t do our expected action, it just seems so benign. It seems so “Okay. Well that’s what happened. There was an omission of action on either my part or your part.” That’s what we’re called failure? Well, that’s not a big deal, right? It’s just something didn’t turn out the way we had expected.”

“If failure is really just not meeting your own expectation or not taking the
required action to meet your own expectation, then really what’s going to
happen when that happens, is you are going to think some thought that’s
going to create some negative emotion.”

So what that means is that failure is in your head. You are the one making yourself feel bad. You are the one making it mean something that you don’t like. So you need to turn it around. Make failure mean something else. Give yourself failure goals. If you don’t fail at least once a week, you’re not doing it right. When you fail, you can be happy about it, because you’ve just met your fail quota!

Brooke on being a perfectionist:
“A lot of people will say to me that they’re perfectionists, and they’ll say that “I just want to do it all right, and I’m not willing to do it if I can’t do it perfectly.” I have this sense that I think perfectionism is for scared people. I think it gives them an excuse to not take the action, to not put themselves out there and to not fail, to not meet their own expectation.
The reason why they don’t want to not meet their own expectation is
because they know that they’re going to beat their own ass when that
happens. They’re going to beat themselves up. If you were to make a deal
with yourself and say “Hey. I’m going to go out there and try and do this.
There’s going to be, for sure, a chance that along the way I’m not going to
meet my expectation. I’m going to fail, and I’m going to fail many, many
times, but here’s there thing. When I fail, I’m going to have my own back.
I’m going to treat myself with respect. I’m going to honour myself. I’m going
to use that as an opportunity to learn and to take care of myself. I’m going
to use it as an opportunity to love myself more instead of loving myself less.
I will refuse when I don’t meet my own expectation, to say mean things to
myself, to beat myself up, or to quit.”

Go out and do something you think might have a chance of failing. If it fails, no big deal. But it might succeed.

We have to learn how to fail, just like little kids learn to walk. And it’s the process of them falling, and then picking themselves up, that makes them strong enough to eventually walk.

If you don’t make failure a bad thing, if you think, I’m going to be okay with myself if I don’t achieve what I’m setting out to achieve, then you’re more likely to start, to try. If you’re worried about how you’re going to feel, then you’re not going to do it.

Practice failure. It should be a skill that you have in your tool box. How to successfully fail, so that you can move on without making it mean something terrible and bad.

Thomas Edison quote: “No. I didn’t fail a thousand times. I learned a thousand things that didn’t work.”

Barbara Corcoran TedX Speech on REthinking Failure – “I have found that failure and innovation are kissing cousins. If you work on one, you automatically get the other.”

Sep 04 2019



Rank #15: SPA Girls Podcast – EP161 – Cracking Christmas Promo Ideas

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With the holiday season fast approaching, the SPA Girls gathered to talk about their list of 12 Ideas For Christmas Promotion. Between the shopping, the relative wrangling, the wallet-aches and the end-of-year energy slump, it can be hard to manage your author promotion on top of that!

Listen up and we’ll (hopefully) ease your stress and you can go into the New Year refreshed and ready to rock your goals!

1.Do your own 12 days of Christmas promo

2.Plan out your FB posts, run holiday themed ads

3.Make your email newsletter festive:
-Links to Christmas carols
-How to decorate your Christmas tree and other tips

4.Consider a Festive cover change up

5.Build a holiday boxed set? (release for a month)

6.Reduce the price of your ebook after Christmas so all those people who got ereaders/giftcards will buy it

7.Share your Christmas Shopping/reading list.

8.Check retailer closing dates if you are loading a book in December (they may be closed) D2D suggest submitting your books before Dec 11th for all retail sites.

9.People love Christmas themed novellas, maybe plan one of these for next year.

10. Do a free giveaway, short story, novella or part one of a series as a giveaway.

11.Get a Christmas hashtag going

12. Get writing so you have a new release ready in the new year.

Helpful link:

Join us on twitter @spagirlspodcast and Facebook

Nov 15 2018



Rank #16: SPA Girls Podcast – EP158 – Some Like It Hot ….Or Not

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This week we put on our flame retardant suits and discuss how to define the heat level of your story – and why it’s important to know.

There is no standard or uniform code to heat levels, so writers and readers can face a few challenges: what one reader may consider “hot,” another might consider “mild” or vice versa. With books there’s no certified ratings system a la the movies.  And to further complicate things, if you’re looking at the hybrid route, publishers and agents also have different ideas about what constitutes a certain level of heat. Terms – especially sweet / clean can be used interchangeably by some folk, so take note of that when discussing cross promotions and newsletter swaps.  We discuss (and agree with) Sylvia Day’s widely referenced article on sexy romance heat levels – see the link below.

Defining your heat level is all about meeting reader expectations and in the podcast we also talk about conveying the heat level by your cover, title, subtitle and blurb.

Important note: Happy Ever After Ending is still a requirement for your standard romance regardless of heat level

Talking of definitions, here’s our SPA Girls Spice Index as we define the different heat levels in romance:

  • Clean = minimal sexual tension, no illicit thoughts, no kissing, no intimate touching, no violence, language, contentious subject material (note, lines between inspirational and clean are blurring
  • Sweet = no sex on page – can be fade to black, sexual tension described and kissing allowed. Can still involve serious topics (eg addiction, abuse etc) as part of the story and focus is on developing the emotional conflicts between the characters.
  • Sexy = romance story about the development of a romantic relationship with more explicit sex on the page. The sex is not an inherent part of the story and could easily be removed or “toned down” without damaging the storyline.
  • Erotic Romance = stories written about the development of a romantic relationship through sexual interaction. The sex is an integral part of the story and relationship development, and couldn’t be removed without damaging the storyline.
  • Erotica = stories written about the sexual journey of the characters and how this impacts them as individuals. Happily Ever Afters aren’t an intrinsic part of erotica, though they can be included. The focus remains on the individual characters’ journeys, not the progression of the romance.

Helpful links:

Join the SPA Girls on Facebook and Twitter @spagirlspodcast

Oct 24 2018



Rank #17: SPA Girls Podcast – EP173 – How To Identify Your Writing Weaknesses

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Today’s episode was inspired by a comment on our podcast website by listener Carron, who asked “…when you’re starting out (writing) how do you know what weaknesses to focus on? You don’t know what you don’t know. Love to hear an episode on things to work on, or things you ladies have struggled with and how you’ve gone about correcting them.

Carron makes a really good point and we’re kinda kicking ourselves that we haven’t discussed this before. We’ve all been in “the writing game” for many, many years, and it’s good to be reminded of the questions we had right back at the beginning.

Learning writing craft is something that best comes from practice and lots of reading. Later on, when you’re ready to prepare your manuscript for publication, get some “eyes” on it – whether from a critique group, beta readers, fellow writers, genre-savvy friend – and do a preliminary self-edit. Then save up and get it professionally edited. We cover the various types of editing, but briefly:

* If your “other eyes” don’t understand quite what’s happening in the story or that it has giant plot holes, then look to get a development editor. Someone who looks at the story from the “high level”

* If they don’t understand why characters do the things they do, then go back and re-read your manuscript (after taking a break) and make sure you explain your character’s motivations clearly to the reader. Highly recommend the book Goal, Motivation and Conflict by Debra Dixon

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Shar comments: For me, I was aware of my lack of grammar and punctuation formal knowledge (child of the 70s!) purely from listening to others talk about “participles” and “oxford commas” and realising I had no idea what they were talking about. So I bought myself Strunk & White’s book, signed up for ProWriting Aid and check in to Purdue University’s online writing lab that offers free exercises to help train you. This was super helpful. It’s something I still worry about, but I’m getting there slowly feeling more grammatically confident.

Wendy’s comments: Entering contests gave me validation, as until I had achieved some success here, I didn’t believe my books were either good enough, or ready to be published.

Helpful Links:

Wendy’s site with favorite writing resources:

Book: Goal, Motivation & Conflict by Debra Dixon

Feb 06 2019



Rank #18: SPA Girls Podcast – EP163 – Interview With Kelly St Clare

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The delightful USA Today bestselling author Kelly St Clare talks to the SPA Girls this week about how she moved from being a physiotherapist in a busy clinic to her current career as an Amazon bestselling author of young adult fantasy novels.

Kelly was fascinating because as well as all her fantastic tips on writing, time management and marketing, she was also able to give us some great advice on how to stay healthy as an author.

We all had some epiphany moments in this episode, from Kelly’s tips on how she improves her craft with every book, how she makes sure that she is proactive and motivated with her writing, and how she monitors the fine line between passion and health to ensure she stays at her best at all times.

Another great interview with a talented, hardworking and super-smart author doing very well on the international stage!

Kelly can be found at:

In The Wild facebook group:

Cher’s main takeaway from the interview: For me, Kelly reiterated the fact that new authors must do their research before thinking about publishing a book. Find out what your genre looks like and what it embodies. Where will your readers be hanging out? Create a presence and be authentic, fun, consistent, and interesting.

Trudi’s main takeaway from the interview: I loved how Kelly talked about the “fine line between passion and health”, which was basically how she uses her physiotherapy knowledge to help her stay healthy as an author so that she can perform at optimal levels. I was struck by how she said that by ignoring your health as an author – ie staying crunched over your desk for 12 hours a day for months on end – will have a detrimental effect on your writing. Staying healthy is just another part of your writing career that it is important to maintain.

Shar’s main takeaway from the interview: As well as Kelly’s very smart approach to balancing “working author” lifestyle with health, I loved what she said about focusing on “one craft weakness” when she’s writing each book and really nailing that. Writing, let alone self-publishing, can be overwhelming and the way she spoke about channeling her focus instead of trying to “fix all the things” was a real lightbulb moment for me.

SPA Girls Podcast can be found at, on Facebook at, and Twitter at @spagirlspodcast 

Nov 29 2018



Rank #19: SPA Girls Podcast – EP175 – How To Make Facebook Work For You

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We often get asked what authors should post on Facebook, and whether it’s worthwhile even being on the platform at all. 

The answer from the SPA is a firm yes, we believe Facebook is a really useful tool for authors, especially in romance. There are many positives to having a presence on the social platform, not least of which is the ability to find and connect with readers and other authors. 

So this week we break down the platform and talk about the different areas that are useful to know about as an author, plus give you ideas to use for ongoing content, some etiquette to bear in mind for using Facebook, and ways you can use Facebook to amp up your book sales.

Show Notes:

Shar’s tips:
Tip 1:
It’s still worth having a facebook author page. Yes, organic reach has dropped but Facebook is STILL the biggest social media platform by far. Having an author page keeps your penname secret (if required), and means you can run ads.

Tip 2: Note sure what to post? Create a weekly schedule to ensure you mix up the content/chat/connection with readers posts versus SALES posts (should be 3/4:1 and then preschedule using the inbuilt facebook scheduling system to streamline the process – eg #MondayMovieFavs #TuesdayExcerpt #WednesdayWanderings #ThrowbackThursday #FridayFunny #SaturdaySnack #SundayShare

Tip 3: Experiment with Facebook ads and prepare to learn. Two things first: Understand how to calculate your readthrough on your series / Understand your audience (other authors they like via also boughts, movies that tie in, themes in common etc) Start with $5/day and try six ads in one ad set. Leave running for 3 or 4 days and then see which image is most successful. Then using that image create another six ads but this time change out the text. This is iteration and a way of testing. Facebook requires a LOT of testing.

Tip 4: Facebook Groups are a good way to communicate with your superfans – less so for new fans. To be effective they require clear rules, good moderation, and regular input. I personally believe they come about as a result of book sales success, rather than driving that success.

Trudi’s tips:

  1. Join other author’s groups/pages and see what they’re posting about and how they’re engaging with readers.
  2. Ask questions, use polls, reply when people post on your comments. Builds up your organic reach if you have more comments and engagement.
  3. Content curation is a valid way to post. It doesn’t all have to be original content from you.
  4. Know your readers, and know the kind of content they’d be likely to respond to.
  5. Consider working in with other authors if you can’t manage on your own. Make sure you’re in the same genre though, or it’s all for nothing.

Wendy’s tips:

  1. Doing short video clips of yourself is a great way to get your fans to interact. They love the personal touch, and seeing you talking directly to them is something they will respond to. I use Quick Time on my Mac to record, but there are other options depending on what computer/laptop you have.
  2. FB polls are a great way to interact at the same time as gaining valuable information. For example. What story trope do you like A. Friends to lovers B. Cinderella story C. Second chance at love. D. Secret romance.
  3. Engage/like other author pages. See what’s working for others, and mimic them. Save their posts to use at a later date.
  4. Keep your posts short, most people are looking at FB on their mobile devices and are doing so for short periods of time.

Cheryl’s tips:

  1. Taking time one day a week to schedule posts will make life a lot easier than thinking about it each day and using a themed hashtag as Shar suggests means you know the type of thing you want for each one. (Sunday works for me) I have a folder with graphics specifically for my posts separated into funnies, inspirational, animals etc.
  2. Share on other pages that you own to save time by using the same post. (personal v author page – only if it’s relevant). Use the share option on the bottom right hand of your post.
  3. Share in groups but be mindful of group rules and make sure you are on topic. If not, you could find yourself banned from that group.
  4. To gain likes, invite people who have already liked one of your posts to take the next step and like your Page. (The two things are different) To do so, just click on the list of names below the post. In the window, scroll down and click the Invite button.


Free video – how to set up a Facebook ad from Dave Chesson:

Mark Dawson’s free guides:

Recommended read: Michael Cooper’s Help My Facebook Ads Suck!

Feb 20 2019



Rank #20: SPA Girls Podcast – EP178 – Newsletter Strategies with Larissa Reynolds, Part 2

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What’s the one objection you have to overcome to get readers to buy your book?

That question is the cliffhanger that Larissa Reynolds left us on in part 1. And now, here it is! The episode where you get to find out the answer…

In this second episode about newsletters, Larissa Reynolds talks to us about how to sell your books consistently via your list. 

She’s been writing newsletters for more than 20 years, and says it’s about more than just sending regular emails. It’s about knowing your readers, and making sure you’re approaching them in the right way.

She talks to us about how to get the right mindset with regards to your newsletter, how to focus the newsletter in the right direction, and how to ensure you’re connecting with your readers so they want to go out and buy your books.

Larissa’s website:

Mar 12 2019