Having been through the whole book publishing and marketing ‘thing’ years ago with the book, “Sun on a Rusty Roof”, which I co-authored with Ron Edwards, I had no desire to repeat that exercise with my current books.

“Sun on a Rusty Roof” contained full-page plates of my watercolours depicting old buildings on the left page. Each text page on the right explained something about the painting opposite, and contained an appropriate bush poem or folk song from Ron’s collection, as well as one of Ron’s black and white sketches. An exhibition of the original watercolours specially painted for the book was used to launch the book at a prominent Cairns art gallery.

The book sold well for the first six months until our Queensland based publishing company was taken over by a major Australian publishing house which in turn, within a year, was itself taken over by a multi-national. This company was not interested in distributing and marketing our book anymore, preferring to concentrate their efforts on distributing and promoting the latest fiction thrillers.

Part of the original deal was that the publishing company would market and distribute the books through their distribution agents, who travelled the country visiting bookstores and the like, promoting their new releases AND checking and re-ordering sold stock. Now this no longer happened, and our sales died.

The new company gave us two choices: either they put the books in the ‘throw out bins’ of bookstores at a ridiculous price so that our royalties would be nix; or we could buy the stock at cost. Ron was not interested as he had his own books to market and sell. So my husband and I decided to buy the stock and pay out Ron for his share. I was determined not to have a fire sale of the books. I didn’t want to lose face with those who had paid full price, and I needed to be able to hold my head up in the community where I lived.

Now what to do? As it was just before the social media era, marketing the book required ‘foot slogging’ to every conceivable outlet: bookstores, tourist souvenir shops, local museums, newsagents – anywhere I thought the book would sell.

It was a great learning experience for me. I had never found it easy to promote my artwork or myself, and I found marketing the book even harder, but in the process I learned much about human nature and relating to others. My marketing area stretched north to Cape York, west to Mt. Isa, and south to Rockhampton including every small township in between, with a few outlets in Brisbane.

This required monthly follow-ups, either personally or by phone. It also required follow-up to collect payment; most selling agents wanted the books on consignment, but were not very prompt in paying for sold ones. It was scary at times. But I persevered.

It took me quite a few years, but I eventually sold the thousands of books. Today, the book is out of print and highly sought after by collectors, and only three copies remain in my collection. I still get requests for it. Eventually, we did very well out of the sale of the books, BUT it was hard work!

So you can see why I wasn’t keen to repeat the exercise with my current books. After some exploration, I decided on the self-publishing option for my new books, using Amazon as the publishing, sales and marketing option. My books are for sale on Amazon, in both hard copy and e-book format (Kindle).

However, besides selling the books online, I realised I also needed a public, local profile for the current books, “The Lone Photographer”, “Terror and Turmoil” and “Into the Mirror, into the Past”. These are quite different books from “Sun on a Rusty Roof”.

I chose a Friday evening event with drinks and nibbles at the Atherton Library for the launch of “Terror and Turmoil”. Since the book was about our experiences of Cyclone Tracy and its aftermath, I began proceedings with a sound recording I had made of cyclonic winds with the intermittent cyclone warning siren, followed immediately after with a chapter reading from the book. It certainly attracted attention and frightened the hell out of some of the people there! Besides the usual invitees, invitations were also extended to Tablelands Regional Council emergency staff, and State Emergency Service, medical and nursing personnel.

Cairns was chosen for the launch of “Into the Mirror, Into the Past”, since much of its story revolved around this city. This book is about my childhood in Nazi-occupied Holland, emigration with my parents, and growing up in Cairns from the late 1940s to the 1960s. I prepared a video of the photos and paintings I had used as illustrations, and this was played on a big screen throughout the night. At the time, the paintings were on display in a local gallery. I also did a chapter reading, as I have found people really respond to readings by a writer. A little later, I displayed the book at a school reunion and donated copies to the various schools. Word of mouth then took over.

I designed my launch invitations so that I could guillotine off the launch information, leaving the remainder as a handy brochure hand-out – much like a large business card. Launch sales for these two books were beyond expectations, and we had to place names on waiting lists to purchase copies. People did not seem to mind waiting a few weeks for their copies to arrive from Amazon.

I have yet to organize a launch of my latest book. There are decisions to be made and venues to explore since moving to a completely new life in Brisbane. Despite this, sales have been good both online and by promotion on social media and my website. I had developed an email distribution list by saving contacts from the sales data of my previous two books, and was able to notify these readers about my new offering. Because they enjoyed the previous books they were eager to read the new one.

So with Amazon you have the opportunity to sell locally, go on a marketing road trip if you so wish, and sell online. You don’t need to take cases of books with you everywhere but can ask Amazon to send your Author copies ahead.

If Amazon publishes (sells) your books, they will automatically become public. Anyone – readers, bookstores and libraries – can buy your books from the Amazon website from anywhere in the world. But isn’t that a good thing? I have sold my books in the UK, USA, Europe, Argentina and Australia – markets I would not have been able to reach myself, unless I was a James Patterson.

Using Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing was a great learning experience – exciting and fun. With Kindle, royalties are paid monthly into your bank account, advice is by e-mail, and each day, if you wish, you can check the statistics on your book’s sales and progress.

For me, the Kindle royalties that flow in magically by themselves are a bonus, ‘the cream on top’, while I concentrate on selling the hard copies I’ve ordered, usually ten or twenty at a time, at Author discounted prices. As the books usually take 2 to 3 weeks to arrive, I schedule the times into my marketing program. With hardcopy books sold online, Amazon pays royalties through Kindle as well. However, no royalties are earned with the discounted Author copies you order.

I have no complaints about my Amazon and Kindle experiences, and enjoy the immediacy of the statistics and Amazon’s search engine possibilities. However, keep in mind that Amazon has more than 35 million books online, and tens of thousands of new books are added each month. Kindle has almost four million books, with tens of thousands of new ones added each month as well. For readers, this means a lot of choice, but for authors it is easy for their books to get lost in the crowd. For this type of online selling, authors need to choose the book categories and pricing carefully, and promote regularly online.

With my latest book “The Lone Photographer”, I will need to arrange some sort of public launching even though the book has been selling well on its own. It helps with publicity when I can mention that the book had rated as #1 best seller in its category and #1 best selling new release, and can post readers’ feedback on my author web site. You need to stay constantly on top of marketing so that your book does not fall into ‘the black hole’.

For me, selling and making money from the books was not my priority. I wanted to write my stories and present them in a professional-looking book format so my descendants would find them attractive enough to pick up and read. Also I did not want to outlay huge sums of money to have umpteen copies printed and sitting there as most publishing houses stipulate runs of hundreds, often thousands, of books at a time; I initially just wanted enough copies to give to family and interested friends. Amazon gives you the opportunity to print just one if that’s your wish, but you have to remember it will be ‘out there’ for all the world to see and buy just the same.

I currently have three new books on the go, working from one to the other – much like I do when I’m painting. This helps me to keep the muse in tow. I’m hoping to have at least one of these books ready by Christmas 2020.


  • KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing)   https://kdp.amazon.com/
  • Navigating KDP is easy with lots of templates you can use for the text and covers, plus an excellent help/forum with answers to anything you can think to ask.