BTS047, Issues with Apple Books, Cover Redesigns, and The Results of Using Advanced Reader Services like BookSirens and BookSprout | December 2021 Author Diary


Hello, Writers!


I hope you are all well and are staying safe.


Throughout the preorder and launch period of the release of The Candidate, I experienced a series of frustrating issues with Apple Books. While I was struggling with Apple Books, I decided to redesign the ebook’s cover, then I went on to design the paperback based upon this new theme. And, this new design had surprising results on the ARC giveaway for The Candidate. Also, I started paying attention to the results of using BookSirens and BookSprout. This led me to decide whether I recommend you use these Advanced Reader Services.


So stay tuned for all of this and much more.


About the Episode

Just to let you know, this episode was recorded on Friday the 7th of January, so this show is primarily me looking back at December. If you’re on YouTube, you’ll notice that I’ve gone back to an audio-only version of the podcast. I’ve had to pull the plug on the video podcast episode because I couldn’t do everything, and something had to go.


If you’re new to this podcast, I want to say a huge thank you for stopping by and trying out my show. To those of you who have been faithfully listening, thank you for regularly listening in and supporting me; your support means more to me than you know.


Nice One Apple Books

During my preorder period, Apple Books kept changing the sale price of The Candidate from 99 cents back to full price in all territories, and this didn’t just happen once but several times. It was as if I was changing the price every week. After several checks, I realised it was definitely Apple and not me entering the wrong dates.


This pattern has continued after the release date when I had my 99 cent sale until the 31st of December. I have no idea why they’re doing this, but I’m not going to keep discounting my books on Apple because this is getting ridiculous, and I have better things to do with my time.


Have you experienced this with Apple, or is it just me?


The Candidate in Paperback. This is the KDP Print Proof Copy.

A New Cover Design

At the end of November, I designed a new cover for the Candidate. In the original design, I wanted to go for a black and white feel with a splash of colour, and I intended on using that style for all twelve short novels or novellas. When I first created the design, I envisioned the series to be a collection of short stories, but it didn’t turn out like that; with me, nothing ever does. During the redesign, I considered the paperback edition when I made the ebook cover. I chose an image that would wrap around the entire cover of the paperback, so I had to strategically place the image on the ebook cover. Thanks to the redesign, I received more downloads in BookSirens and BookSprout. Over on Goodreads, I had to ask a librarian to create a special edition, so I could upload the new cover.


Above is an example of what I wrote in the Goodreads thread to add a new cover to my existing novella.


The Paperback Cover

At the beginning of December, I created the paperback covers for KDP Print and Ingram Spark. I created two separate editions because the parameters are slightly different, and it’s less hassle this way. The paperback size, design, and interior are identical for both printers, so I used the same ISBN. Because I’m in the UK, I purchased ISBNs in bulk from Nielsen when I first published Missing at the start of 2020.


Hardback Cover

While we’re on the topic of cover designs, I’ve been toying with the idea of creating a hardback edition of the Candidate. And, I heard that hardbacks were available on KDP Print. So naturally, I was excited. But when I went to my dashboard, I realised that the hardbacks on KDP Print didn’t have the dust jacket. The editions are only case-laminate, and I don’t like that look on a hardback; it’s just not right. Nevertheless, I checked on Ingram Spark, and I noticed that I could create a hardback with a dust jacket.




So, I downloaded the template. Since then, I shelved the idea so I could look at other hardback novellas and see what other designers have done with the covers because I’m not sure what to put on the back cover and inside the dust jacket. 

Dreaming About AudioBooks

There’s a part of me that wants to publish an audiobook for The Candidate, not because the sales are a hit. It’s because, I love to listen to audiobooks, and I’m often disappointed that some of the books I want to read aren’t available in this format. For me, this format makes sense. But, it also may not be a great business decision.


However, before I consider an audiobook for The Candidate, I want to go through and make a few minor changes. In the reviews, I’ve realised that I’ve used a few pet phrases that I want to eliminate from the manuscript. The changes won’t be enough to consider it a second edition, but I need to do it before the audiobook is created because I want the Kindle Whisper-sync for Voice feature to work. As I alluded to earlier, it’s the way I love to read. Eventually, I want to create omnibus editions of the ebook, paperback and audiobooks for the rookie reporter series.


Advanced Reader Copy Results

Over on the Amazon UK store, I received my first three-star review for the Candidate. It was one of those reviews where it sounds positive, but the rating is low. Personally, I consider a three-star review as it was okay, which doesn’t quite match the written review underneath. Nevertheless, it’s a better review than the first ratings I received for the first edition of Missing. Those ratings were on Goodreads and were two and three stars. As you can guess, I panicked.


But back to the Candidate.


I don’t know why people do this because, personally, I wouldn’t want to be the first reviewer of a book and leave a review or rating less than four stars. Everyone who looks at the book’s page would see my review. There’s a part of me that likes the idea of getting lost in a sea of other reviews and not standing out from the crowd. Perhaps this is the point I want to make quite often reviews will speak more about the reviewers than the book itself. In no way am I saying that my book is perfect. I know it isn’t, but if, like me, your first review on a major store is three stars, don’t panic. Shift your focus to something else like writing the next book because there’s nothing you can do about the review.


Nothing good will come from interacting with readers. There are tonnes of examples of authors complaining on sites like Twitter or even Goodreads. Don’t do it; it will not end well for you.


The Review Data

Now for the results, how many reviews did I receive from Book Sirens. Over on Goodreads, I received thirteen reviews in total. Here’s how they are broken down:

  • 4 x five-star reviews
  • 4 x four-star reviews
  • 4 x three-star reviews
  • 1 x two-star review


In regards to the four-star reviews, one of those was from BookSprout. This same reviewer also left a review on Kobo, Google Play, Apple, and Barnes and Noble. And that’s the main difference between BookSprout and BookSirens. On BookSirens, it’s easier to find advanced readers, but most of the reviews are left on Goodreads only, which is fine, and only a small number of readers will post the review on stores like Amazon. During the latter half of December, I received one five star rating and one four-star rating after promoting my novella on Bargain Booksy. These ratings plus the ARC reviews gave my book an average of 3.93 stars on Goodreads.


On BookBub

However, I received two five-star reviews on BookBub plus and an extra two follows. And, on top of this, I have five reviews over on Amazon. Here’s how they are broken down:

  • 2 x five-star reviews
  • 2 x four-star reviews
  • 1x three-star review


These reviews gave my book an average of 4.1 stars. To be honest, I’m super happy with this because it’s better than the results I have with Missing.


Should You Use BookSprout or BookSirens?

By now, you’re probably wondering whether I recommend using paid services like BookSirens or BookSprout if you’re a newly self-published author. Yes, I recommend using both of these services. If you had to choose only one, I’d go with BookSirens and purchase the “Promote Plan” because they will promote your books to readers by adding your story into genre ARC giveaways.


Why do I recommend you use these services?

These services will help you put your book in front of readers who like to leave reviews and love your genre. With that in mind, some reviewers believe that to be taken seriously as a reviewer, they need to be critical. But that doesn’t mean the opinions aren’t valuable. Just be aware that you are inviting criticism and not necessarily an opinion on whether they enjoyed reading the book. It goes without saying, but I highly recommend you use paid beta readers, a line editor, and a proofreader before you enlist these services.


A BookSirens Promotion featuring my novella on Instagram

Concluding Thoughts

So, that’s all of the tasks I completed in terms of writing, book marketing, and email marketing. By the end of January, I want to have written the first draft of the second story in the Rookie Reporter Mystery Series. And I also want to design the hardback cover for the Candidate and complete a minor rewrite of The Candidate.


If you have any questions or have tips on book marketing that you would love to share with me, please come on over to the blog post share your thoughts in the comments section.


Thank you for listening, and happy reading and writing, everybody.


With love,


Amelia xx

DISCLAIMER: This blog post contains affiliate links (marked with an *), which means if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive a small commission. The commission helps support the blog and allows us to continue to make content like this. Thank you for your support. 🙂


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Amelia D. Hay

Written by Amelia D. Hay

I’m Amelia. When I’m not hosting the Authorpreneur Podcast™️ and the Book Nerd Podcasts, I write Mystery Novels under the pen name A. D. Hay. And, I’m the author of Suspicion, the Lawn, and the Candidate.

On this blog, I help new writers to finish their first draft, prepare their manuscripts for professional editing, and when they get stuck in the first draft phase or are confused about the revision process.

Right now, I’m editing and preparing my soon to be published mystery novels, Suspicion, Duplicity, 24 Hours, and Immunity for publication.

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