How to Write a Bestseller and Feel Good While Doing It

Focus on what you want in your life, not on what you don't want.

Focus on what you want in your life, not on what you don’t want.

Act as if it has already happened. Focus only on the end result. For example, “I have written and published the first in a series of island-based mysteries, and I feel (insert emotion here, such as elated, powerful, satisfied, ‘on my way’). Repeat this practice often, feel imbued by its exhilaration, surf the blue-green waves of happiness and send any dark-eyed doubts packing.

Be not bashful – gleefully share the news with your loved ones and tell everyone you know of what you have begun to create.

Thoughts become things. Visualize the book gracing your mother’s proud coffee table, seeing its YouTube trailer go viral, or pitching the debut novel everyone is talking about on your favorite talk show.

As the saying goes, “It is not enough to stare up the ladder, one must take the first step,” so map out a game plan of action steps to bring your goal(s) to fruition and do them. Carry a symbolic reminder such as a crystal in your purse or wallet, tape notes on your bathroom mirror or photos of what will be, and BELIEVE it can happen.

You create your own universe as you go along.~Winston Churchill

Writing a Mystery or Suspense Novel – Suppose, What if and Why?

“Don’t forget things that were painful or embarrassing or silly. Turn them into a story that tells the truth.” Paula Danzinger

One of a writer’s most precious resources is the world that lives beyond the creaking gate, borne in a fog of ideas that seeks the low places. Here, sometimes in the din of dank recesses, other times in bright, golden light, march a legion of the hopelessly lost and unceasingly forlorn. They bang their dented tin cups so that we might notice them. Their tatters of spirit overpower and wrest control of the rules of engagement we have posted in our heads and tattooed indelibly across our common sense. Yet, we ensnare and assail them without conscience. The meat of their souls will sustain us until we have had our fill.

Pen and paper, recorders and our brains are the simple tools we have packed for this hunt. When we return from the fray victorious, our prey in hand, chafed but unharmed, the camp is pitched with sturdy folders, and staked in neat rows by organizational software. Lieutenant Scrivener cages our captures, tarping the rough edges with a well-stitched backstory, calming, nurturing, grooming them. No meal tonight, only a fortune cookie that teases, promising ultimate release into the light of day. Cynics among the group argue that this is largely hot air and not to be trusted.

Suppose they escape while we go about our daily affairs? It simply will not happen. Resolutely prepared for their struggles, we observe them unnoticed, peripherally, boldly, one eye to life’s knothole. They huddle as if to gain strength by association and we hear their whispers, indistinct and largely unintelligible. We bait them to be more forthcoming and revealing by releasing a few of them at a time. Wary of yet another trap, at first, they peek out with pinpoint pupils. Once they see the fire-breathing dragon is only papier-mache and has human feet with yellowed toenails, they rush out pell-mell, leaving behind a boneyard of dangling participles, split infinitives and tired cliches. Their fires of determination are stoked with dreams of literary stardom, their tickets punched on express trains to glory.

It’s like the stories are already there. What they pay me for is the leap of faith that says: “If I sit down and do this, everything will come out OK.” Stephen King, author of 11/22/63: A Novel

Need Marketing, Editing or Proofreading Services – Professional Quality, Quick Turnaround, Reasonable Prices? Doors open early at our May Madness Sale.

Happy Writing!

R. R. Harris

www.IndieAuthorCounsel.com

Building Your Author Platform – Part Two

Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters, most recent book by Barack Obama, with Loren Long

An Author Platform is a way to quickly communicate your genre and entertainment value if you’re writing fiction, and your expertise and credibility if you’re writing non-fiction. Here are additional suggestions on how to achieve an “Expert Author” status:

1) Grab a Partner or Two – Find a few friendly authors in your niche or social media circles and reach out to them. Find them by replying to commenters on your blog or those how have opted-in to your menu of scrumptious freebies. You can help each other by reviewing each other’s books, doing guests posts on each other’s blogs, and participating in each other’s promotional activities.

2) Invite Guests Over for Tea – List a series of questions being asked on forums and blogs. Then, entice media pros or top-selling authors to guest blog with their thread focusing on the interests of your list. Ask them to share in advance with their readers where they will be blogging that day. The advice they leave behind will not only set up your blog as a repository of memorable content in the reader’s mind but your work will be introduced to the guest’s following, hopefully luring some of them to join your ranks too.

3) Ask, Don’t Tell – Use a poll to get your readers involved by querying them for an answer to an obstacle you have faced, perhaps even one you have already solved. Publish a summary of their submissions, and include what worked best for you.

4) Wind the Clock – “Host” a contest on a regular basis with a writing prompt specific to your genre. Frame the contest rules with a firm time deadline and give away a prize related to your niche, or a book bag, workout shirt or coffee mug imprinted with the cover of your book. Ask the winner to send you a photo of them with the item and publish it to gain momentum for the next contest.

5) Get a Second Opinion – Use the free tools at www.grader.com to optimize your website, author ranking or SEO. For example, the analysis may conclude that your website/blog needs more content or inbound links or that your Twitter presence is weak.

6) Be a Gatherer, Not a Hunter – Compile a list of resources such as websites, free downloads, social media, publishing or marketing advice and share it. Ask your readers for their reviews and experiences.

7) Save Yourself – Know that building your platform will take time and effort so decide how much of both you are willing and able to expend, then create a schedule and stick to it. Being a successful Indie author is a marathon, so save some energy for Heartbreak Hill and your run to the finish line.

If you’ve started writing, it’s never too early to start building your Author Platform. Download your Free Book Marketing Checklist from Indie Author Counsel.

Happy Writing!

R.R. Harris

www.IndieAuthorCounsel.com

 

Top Marketing Mistakes Indie Authors Make – A Guest Post by Marcie Brock

We are privileged to have Marcie Brock here as a guest blogger today.

Marcie Brock is the pen name of Laura Orsini, a self-publishing consultant based in Phoenix, Arizona. Download your complimentary copy of Laura’s highly useful Marketing Skills Evaluation. This will help you determine where you’re on track and where you may need a little extra boost.

Top Marketing Mistakes Indie Authors Make

by Marcie Brock – Book Marketing Maven

You’ve spent lots of time, energy, and perhaps money producing the best book possible. Maybe you’ve got a dozen cases in your garage or perhaps you have a PDF of your eBook on your website. Either way, you may be wondering how you’re going to get the readers to come to you.

Here’s a list of some of the top marketing mistakes indie authors make. If you find yourself committing any of these, don’t beat yourself up. Just create a plan NOW, and stick to it.

1.  Waiting until their book is done to begin marketing

The minute you commit to writing your book is the minute you should begin marketing it. Far too many authors wait until they have their book in hand to begin looking for their readers/audience. This is far too late to begin creating your platform, which is your ability to reach your book-buyers or your plan to do so. Unless you are a celebrity of any measure, you probably don’t have a built-in audience. Start early by tapping into all the ways and places you can create demand for your book before it is printed.

2.  Failing to specifically identify their target reader

You’ve written or are writing a book, so you have a message. But do you know who will receive that message? Do you know who your audience is? Do you know where they spend time, and if or where they buy books? Is your niche audience comprised mostly of men? More than 80 percent of books are purchased by women – so if your audience is mainly male, do they read, or have women in their lives who buy books for them? Failure to identify your market will make it very difficult to sell books to them.

3.  Thinking the book will market itself

One of the most difficult things for most new authors to grasp is the time/money/energy commitment involved in marketing their book. Hundreds of people write books. What differentiates those whose books sell well is not their writing talents as much as their ability to market their books. Many authors believe they should be left alone to write while someone else handles the marketing and promotion, but YOU are going to sell this book – no one else is. That means you must be as available and open as possible. If someone from the media calls you for an interview, drop everything else and get there. Become a media darling, even if you are shy! Take an acting class or join Toastmasters if you’re afraid to speak in public. Spread the word about your new title on the Web. Send preview copies to select reviewers and/or personalities with long reach. You went to all that effort to write your book. Now be fearless in promoting it.

4.  Designing their own cover

Many indie authors, in an attempt to conserve money, forgo the investment in a graphic designer with book cover expertise. This is a HUGE mistake. According to selfpublishingresources.com, 225 out of 300 booksellers surveyed identified the look and design of the book cover as the most important component of the entire book. All agreed that the jacket is the prime real estate for promoting a book. If you hope to have your book make it onto bookstore shelves, you must impress the book buyers who will likely make their determinations based on just a few seconds’ glance at the cover. Additionally, a shopper will spend an average of just 8 seconds looking at the front cover and 14 seconds on the back. This is a total of less than a half-minute to decide if your book is even worth flipping through! If you do not have a professional image that is congruent with your contents, you will likely miss the sale.

5.   Failing to think like a marketer

Like other artists, many authors live for their craft but recoil at the thought of marketing their work. “I’m an author, not a SALESperson!” However, unless you want you and your mom to be the only ones who buy your book, it’s essential that you learn to think like a marketer. That means knowing WHO will read your book and HOW you will connect with them. It also means putting on your Savvy Book Marketer thinking cap and noticing all the chances for connection as they arise. Like anything, the more you practice, the better you will get at seeing marketing opportunities everywhere.

6.   Failing to create a plan

One major place where indie authors get tripped up is in understanding how long it takes to build an audience. This is why you must create a plan and dedicate time to marketing. It’s understandable that writers prefer to write, but your book won’t sell itself. The amount of time you can dedicate to marketing your book differs for each author. Even if you can only afford two hours a week, schedule that time. Put it in your calendar. Make a sign for the door: “Do Not Disturb ― Mommy’s Wearing Her Savvy Book Marketer Hat Until 2 p.m.” Get up an hour earlier. Stay up an hour later. Write a blog post during your lunch hour. Get a digital recorder and dictate your ideas so you remember them. Find an accountability partner to check on your progress weekly. Do whatever works for you – but create a marketing plan and find a way to stick to it.

7.  Spreading themselves too thin

Marketing is an unending process with virtually limitless options, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Determine ONE strategy to start with. If you already have a sizable mailing list, an e-mail drip campaign might make sense. If you’ve got a good-sized social network, you may want to begin there. If you are building your platform from the ground up, a blog may be the best place to start. Begin with ONE strategy and master it. Then explore the next strategy to add, and so on.

8.  Never getting started

Some authors let the fear, unknown, or other issues sabotage them, so they never get their marketing off the ground. Don’t let this be you!

If you’re ready to get organized, download our free BOOK MARKETING CHECKLIST.

Happy writing and marketing!
Roger Harris

www.IndieAuthorCounsel.com

Why do I write? Advice from Pearce, Hemingway, Capote, Maugham and Goldberg

Their surnames might adorn an oak-panelled wall where back-room deals are consummated over hearty handshakes and cognac-infused cigars, a place where billable hours litter the hardwood floors like so much confetti but, instead, these authors will help us answer our burning question of today, our raison d’etre as writers.

 

“The only obligation any artist can have is to himself. His work means nothing, otherwise. It has no meaning.” ~ Truman Capote

“What a writer has to do is write what hasn’t been written before or beat dead men at what they have done.” ~ Ernest Hemingway

“A writer need not devour a whole sheep in order to know what mutton tastes like, but he must at least eat a chop.” ~ W. Somerset Maugham

“As writers we live twice, like a cow that eats its food once and then regurgitates it to chew and digest it again. Slow down now, touch what is around you and out of care and compassion for every moment and detail, put pen to paper and begin to write.” ~ Natalie Goldberg

The following is an excerpt of a poem (untitled, I think), by Laura Pearce and partially answers our Topic’s question for me. Namely, because I want literary magic like this to gurgle forth from my keyboard and scribble pad.

When the gypsies came, your grandmother

made me promise not to go to the woods

where fires blazed and music played

and dark-eyed women danced in coins.

She said they’d steal a girl like me

with golden hair and flower skin

and make me beg in filthy clothes

and feed me scraps of moldy bread.

Thanks for stopping by.

Roger Harris, editor and marketing consultant

http://www.IndieAuthorCounsel.com

HOW TO GET YOUR WRITING DONE!

“Treat every day like it’s the day before vacation, and you will get more work done!” ~ Zig Ziglar

Have a writing deadline facing you? Or just procrastinating on finishing your book?

Follow these tips to help you treat every day like you are leaving on vacation tomorrow:

  • Be organized. Do you have your outline done? Be organized in your writing and in your life, as if you were leaving on a jet plane tomorrow! Make a checklist of everything you’ve got to get done today —then see exactly where you can fit your writing work in.
  • Delegate. When you go on vacation, you probably leave other people in charge of things, like taking care of your pet or getting your mail. What time-consuming, non-writing activities are you doing that you can delegate to someone else, a family member or an intern or colleague that could help you with things like updating your website, research, and other business tasks?
  • Let the unimportant stuff slide. Don’t get sidetracked cleaning out the garage, shopping for a new swimsuit for your vacation – turn the 80/20 rule around (that 20% of your efforts will bring you 80% of your reward). Spend 80% of your time on the 20% of your activities that will bring you success.
  • Do the hard stuff first. Face the stuff you don’t enjoy first – editing that first draft that sits in a pile of dust, or writing a guest blog to promote your book, for instance. Then, you can get to the more fun, creative writing of your next book.
  • Unplug. It’s a good idea to unplug appliances when you leave for vacation and an even better idea to unplug from social media and your phone during scheduled work time. Prolific writer Jennifer O’Neill said she works on her writing and completes her goals before checking emails, returning phone calls and blogging.
  • Get serious. Make a commitment to tackle your daily to-do list. If you were really coming to visit me in Hawaii the next day and wouldn’t be back for a week, you’d have to get it done, right?

If you have a writing goal, set your intentions down on paper – 1,000 wds/day on your new novel; two blog posts or articles each week; 5 Tweets/day; 1 post on Facebook. Ask yourself, are they realistic? If not, prioritize, get more help, and keep in mind the goal of lying in the hammock out in the sun after your work’s done.

When you do, you’ll not only get more done in a shorter amount of time, but you’ll also experience less stress and find yourself with more free time to do the things you want.

Thanks for stopping by. If you’d like to join me in and write your NOVEL IN A MONTH, click here: http://www.novelinamonth.com/?afl=90058

Happy writing!
Roger Harris

www.IndieAuthorCounsel.com

How to Market Your Book or Put Books into the Readers’ Hands

Pulled in too many directions? Get professional help in publishing your book.

As I write my new book, I’m glad I like to multi-task, because I’m reminded by the guidelines in the “Novel in A Month” program that it’s never too early to start getting your message out there. Writing a self-help book means I want to help make the world and the people in it happier and healthier – but it will only happen if they know about my book.

I wish that publishing and marketing your book would be fun and a labor of love like writing the book. But make no mistake, it is labor. If you are pulled in too many directions and do not want to do it yourself, there are dozens of individuals and firms, like www.IndieAuthorCounsel.com, who will be glad to assist you in any and every phase.

Back on the sunny side where a mountain of books and eBooks are filling brick-and-mortar stores and virtual marketplaces like Amazon, let’s discuss some tried and true methods for maximizing your visibility as an author to the reading public. Can we call it the Books in Carts strategy?

(1) Prepare a marketing plan

Start this well in advance of launch of your book.  Start with Where and How you will market your work. For example, where will you place it – Amazon, Barnes and Noble or Smashwords? Where will you Social Network? Choices may be Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter in addition to your blog and/or website.

Identify the marketing issue, and create an action list with a schedule for completion or the amount of time you will spend daily or weekly, if it is a repetitive task. It is human nature to do tasks that we enjoy first and to delay the others interminably.

(2) Request Reviews

Gather a list of reviewers so that you may request reviews the second the ready-to-be-published copy is in your hot little hands. Create a professional review request document that includes an image of your book cover, a cogent, yet concise synopsis, (Imagine you are standing in line at the DMV or post office, carrying a tote bag that advertises your book and a woman who is reading a book on her Smartphone, looks up and asks about your work – you have 15 seconds to schmooze her or lose her. What will you say?) and pertinent details such as genre and number of words.

(3) Become a Chatty Cathy

Put up a thread about your book on a readers forum even if you have not completed it yet, and get to know people. Some of them will end-up reading your book, and if they like it they will recommend it on other forums too. Offer them incentives to be an advanced reviewer such as a PDF download to gather blurbs for your back cover.

(4) Get tangled in the Web

Write about your projects and comment on others’ work. Pass on advice on what helps you and what does not. Post sections of your work and invite comment. However, just like a date from hell who refuses to quit talking about themselves, websites that are solely a self-serving vehicle are a bore and will sit home many a lonely Saturday night without even a visitor.

Thought for the Day: To write, all you have to do is to open a vein and let it bleed. Red Smith

Thanks for stopping by. If you’d like to join me in trying to write your NOVEL IN A MONTH, click here.

Becca Chopra

www.TheChakras.org

www.IndieAuthorCounsel.com

Novel in a Month – Day One

Whether you are writing a self-help work, like I am with Balance your Life or fiction, as my colleague R. R. Harris is penning with Double Take, it pays dividends to be organized.

“An outline is crucial and saves so much time. It tells you where the story is going.” John Grisham

So, we begin at the beginning.

TITLE: Give your work a name, or something that can reference your project.

GENRE: Be flexible as this may change as the plotline and characters and your thoughts morph and develop. List all of the genres that your story might fit into.

POINT of VIEW: Will it change from scene to scene or will the main character narrate in first person throughout? An author friend of mine said that when she began her autobiographical “coming of age” novel that her original intention was to have the first-person voice change as her character grew and matured. However as she drove further and further into the hinterlands of her work, she realized how maintaining that direction complicated her writing and de-railed it from flowing freely from her consciousness. For example, she would have to ensure that her teenager was not speaking with the voice of a worldly and wise, middle-aged maven or vice versa.

Some authors choose voice from scene to scene by weighing what character stands the most to lose. Although unless skillfully written, this approach can leave a reader wondering what is going on and especially, who is talking.

WHO wants, WHAT do they want, WHY do they want it and What/who stands in your character’s way? Not sure where to begin?

“What if X happened? That’s how you start.” Tom Clancy

“Don’t wait to be struck by an idea. If you are a writer, sit down and damn well decide to have an idea. That’s the way to get an idea.” Andy Rooney

SETTING: Can make a story gel into a dish fit for the Queen or alternatively turn it into cold tasteless soup that even hungry flies shun. Of course, there are endless possibilities. You can create memorable characters as at home in the book’s setting as a well worn slipper, but who enliven it and blaze brightly at the slightest provocation. Perhaps others triumph despite all odds or seemingly invincible villains meet their match in a unforeseen avalanche of choices that could not have been forecast.

“Most of our lives are basically mundane and dull, and it’s up to the writer to find ways to make them interesting.” John Updike

HOOK/SPARK: Yeah, the night was dark and stormy and she came to the door with nothing on but the radio, but then what? What will I write in the second paragraph and on page 87 that will keep my reader into the book? Will the last sip of my book be as satisfying as the first, or even more so?

As an author I must constantly ask – have I set-up conflict, created suspense and action and left the reader panting for more? Am I solving a problem the reader has, conveying knowledge or fulfilling a need?

“I want the reader to turn the page without thinking that she is turning the page. It must flow seamlessly.” Janet Evanovich

DON’T QUIT: “Nobody cares whether you write or not, and it’s very hard to write when nobody cares one way or the other. You can’t get fired if you don’t write, and most of the time you don’t get rewarded if you do. But don’t quit.” Andre Dubus

Namaste!

Becca Chopra, author of The Chakra Diaries

www.IndieAuthorCounsel.com

TAKE THE WRITING CHALLENGE – BOOK IN A MONTH!

I spent three years writing my first novel, The Chakra Diaries. Then, a full year on the sequel, Chakra Secrets, which I can happily say is now finished and on the way to the editor.

Now, I’m ready to write the book my students and readers around the world have asked for – Chakra Healing Simplified. I have the title ready, Balance Your Life, and my enormous pile of information at the ready.

I want this book written quickly. So, I decided to jump into a new way of writing for me – an organized routine and structure for writing. I was introduced to this program, NOVEL IN A MONTH, when joining Indie Author Counsel, and I’m going to see if the system works to use both my left and right brain to complete my self-help guide.

Now, are YOU ready to write as well? Laptop at the ready, a rough story outine lying pent-up, cramped into the folds of your brain, awaiting glorious release through your fingertips?

Anton Chekhov suggested that every sentence should spend two days in the brain, lying perfectly still and putting on weight. But using that principle, your work might be completed by the time you are 98 years old.

If you want to join me in the challenge of writing a book in a month, try the program along with me….

Learn how YOU can write your own book in just ONE MONTH, by visiting the official website:

http://www.novelinamonth.com/?afl=90058

I’ll be posting my progress as I move through my outline this week. If you try the program or have other writing advice, please share your comments as well.

Happy writing,

Becca Chopra, author of The Chakra Diaries

www.IndieAuthorCounsel.com