TCK Publishing Non-Traditional Book Publishing for Independent Authors Wed, 13 Dec 2017 23:23:45 +0000 en-US hourly 1 TCK Publishing 32 32 We believe authors change the world by sharing important stories and ideas. Let us help you get your story out to more people and make the world a better place. We interview authors who are self-published, indie published, and traditionally published to find out what’s working right now to help you grow your career and sell more books.<br /> <br /> On The Publishing Profits Podcast show, international bestselling author and publisher Tom Corson-Knowles interviews the publishing industry's best authors, publishers, editors, literary agents, marketers, and attorneys to share inspiration, education and best practices. Our mission is to help authors and publishers succeed in the new era of publishing.<br /> <br /> Ebooks didn't even exist 15 years ago. Today, readers spend more than $6 billion each year on ebooks in the United States alone. Are you taking advantage of this huge shift in reader purchasing habits? Tune in and learn how to build a full-time career and income as an author by proactively responding to the huge changes in the industry.<br /> <br /> Whether you're just thinking about writing your first book or you're a multi-published author, you'll find new ideas to help you take your career to the next level.<br /> <br /> The show's audience includes writers, new and experienced authors, publishers, literary agents, editors, graphic designers, bloggers, content creators, marketing professionals, public relations and PR experts, and publishing attorneys.<br /> <br /> Learn more at TCK Publishing clean TCK Publishing (TCK Publishing) Copyright 2017 by The Publishing Profits Podcast The #1 Show for Writers, Authors and Publishers TCK Publishing We believe authors change the world with by sharing important stories and ideas. Let us help you get your story out to more people and make the world a better place. We interview authors who are self published, indie published, and traditionally published to find out what’s working right now to help you build your career and sell more book.s On The Publishing Profits Podcast show, international best selling author and publisher Tom Corson-Knowles interviews the publishing industry's best authors, publishers, editors, literary agents, marketers and attorneys to share inspiration, education and best practices. Our mission is to help authors and publishers succeed in the new era of publishing. Ebooks didn't even exist 15 years ago. Today, readers spend more than $6 billion each year on ebooks in the United States alone. Are you taking advantage of this huge shift in readers’ purchasing habits? Tune in and learn how to build a full-time career and income as an author by proactively responding to the huge changes in the industry. Whether you're just thinking about writing your first book or you're a multi-published author, you'll find new ideas to help you take your career to the next level. The show's audience includes writers, new and experienced authors, publishers, literary agents, editors, graphic designers, bloggers, content creators, marketing professionals, public relations and PR experts, and publishing attorneys. Learn more at Weekly How to Set Your Freelancing Rates: A Guide to Pay for Freelancers Wed, 13 Dec 2017 05:25:36 +0000 how to set freelance pay rates

When I talk with people who want to be freelancers, I get asked many, many (MANY!) questions. One of the most common is:

How much should I charge?

When I talk with people who want to hire me as a freelancer, I get asked many, many (MANY!) questions. One of the most common is:

How much do you charge?

The answer to both questions is more complicated than you might think. Let’s talk a bit about what the going rates are, how you can set your own rates, how to negotiate your pay, and some ways to increase your rates as you advance in your career.

But first, the most important thing:

Get Paid by the Job

Always quote your prices based on a project rate.

If you’re a graphic designer, that means setting one rate for the full logo design project, booklet, or other task.

If you’re a writer or editor, that means charging by the word. Sometimes this means an actual per-word rate. Other times it means bidding on a job by estimating the final number of words and then multiplying that estimate by your per-word rate.

I recommend this for three reasons:

1. It Streamlines Your Process

Tracking hours sucks. It takes time you could use for better purposes, and it poses difficult questions. If you spent 40 minutes thinking and 20 actually writing, is that a full hour? Do you charge your client for bathroom breaks? What about a phone call where you talked business for 20 minutes and golf for 30?

2. It Values Your Knowledge and Skill

As a writer, you get paid for your expertise. Every client you have pays you a little for the time you spent actually writing, and the rest for the time you spent getting good at writing. Per-job billing reflects that better than payment per hour.

3. It Compensates You for Efficiency

Once you get your professional chops down, you’ll be writing quickly enough to justify making $150 to $200 per hour. Very few clients will sign off on that as a per-hour rate, but they’re perfectly happy paying $500 for a writing job that takes you 3-4 hours.

Some clients will still insist that you bill by the hour. If they do, reverse engineer it by figuring out how quickly you write and setting your hourly rate to match. But because I’m such a proponent of getting paid by the job/by the word, the rest of this discussion will be in terms of payment per word.

What Are Market Rates?

A general rule of thumb is that you can charge whatever the market will bear. But what does that mean?

There’s an average range of rates, called scale, that most people in your industry will charge—that doesn’t mean that they all charge the same rate, but that they’ll fall somewhere along the scale based on their personal overhead, expertise, length of time in the field, and so on.

This applies to just about every type of freelancing, from graphic design to writing to being a private chef. Here, we’ll focus on writing as an example, but you can apply these principles no matter what field you’re in—it’s only the pay ranges that will differ.

How much writing is worth varies wildly, but here’s a list of the most common ranges of scale.

Insulting (FREE)

Do not write for free. Do not write for “exposure.” The difference between a professional and a talented amateur is whether or not they insist on getting paid for their work. Be a professional. Get paid.

Note: The exception to this is when you’re doing marketing for a book or building your platform. In this case, you can consider writing for free under certain circumstances: guest-posting on a popular blog, writing lead magnet pieces for your email newsletter opt-ins, or writing content to give to your followers to keep them engaged.

Work for Trade (Varies)

Apart from platform-building exercises, this is the only exception to the “don’t write for free” rule.

Many writers got their first pro gigs by working in trade. For example, if your favorite bar needs a better website, you can write the copy in exchange for beer. Don’t do this for too long, but it’s a foot in the door method that can get you good clips and exposure.

Unacceptable (< 5 cents per word)

A lot of the less reputable shops offer this rate, and although it’s actual cash, it’s not enough cash to make a living. You can’t write enough at this rate to make a decent living, and if you try, you spend so much time writing you don’t have time to build your brand.

Accept these only as your very first assignments, and get out in no less than three months.

Beginning (5 to 10 cents per word)

You can make teacher-level wages if you work for this scale. There’s plenty of work available, and you can easily make $50 to $100 an hour doing it once you figure out how to write quickly. There’s a golden handcuffs risk here, though, since you’re making just enough money to get by but not enough to really live the dream. Stay here for a couple of years, but don’t stay here forever.

Journeyman (11 to 25 cents per word)

Most good trade magazines and major paying websites pay at this range, as do ghostwriting assignments from businesses and professionals. There isn’t as much work to go around as at the beginning level, but the repeat business is good. Clients who pay this much prefer to work with people they trust.

You should be writing at this level most of the time by three to five years into your freelance career.

Professional (25 cent to $1 per word)

Professional blogging, ghostwriting for consultants and the financial sector, national magazines, and the top websites occupy this category. Writing here is great, because you’re making six figures on the regular and have enough extra time to keep looking for this level of work. It also gives you enough cushion to regularly say “thanks, but no thanks” to offers that pay less.

This is the top of where you can expect your writing career to regularly land you, but it’s a good place to spend the bulk of your career.

Expert ($1 to $2 per word)

If you work hard and have talent, you can spend much of the latter half of your career demanding this rate. You’ll get it from the major glossy magazines, the very-highest-paying feature assignments from high-end websites, top-level ghost blogging, and ghostwriting for minor celebrities. You can also expect this wage from writing excellent ad copy and white papers.

Making $5,000 for writing 5,000 words is a pretty sweet gig, and one you should start applying for in the second half of your first writing decade. You won’t get these jobs all the time, but even one or two a year makes living the dream a reality.

Enterprise ($2 plus per word)

This is the realm of freshly funded startups, major corporations, elite direct mail, and the highest-paying magazines in the world. You’ll also see this rate for top-drawer ghostwriting for celebrities. Nobody writes exclusively at this level, but even a handful of 5,000-word assignments can make you expenses for the entire year. Never stop chasing this goal.

Your career should be an upward trajectory along these categories, until you’re doing most of your work in the Professional and Enterprise levels. You’ll slide back sometimes, and occasionally take a lower-paying gig because the topic or the person is close to your heart, but overall, move upward and onward year by year until you’re actually getting paid what your words are worth.

Setting Your Own Rates

Determining how much you get paid follows one of two paths, depending on which market you’re going for.

If you are writing for markets with set rates, you determine how much you get paid by submitting to the markets that pay what you feel you’re worth. If you want 10 cents per word, pitch magazines that pay 10 cents or more per word. Don’t write for markets that pay less than you want to make, unless you have a compelling reason to do so.

If you are writing for clients with flexible rates, ask for what you think you’re worth. I personally mention a price that’s 150% of what I will accept, then offer 125% with discounts like “for the size of the contract” or “because I’m fascinated by the topic anyway.” Usually I make at least what I hoped to make.

If you apply these strategies to the knowledge above, you can take control of your rates and thus control of your writing career.

How to Negotiate Your Rates

There are two other things you need to know about when making decisions about how much you should charge.

The Little Brother Technique

This is a negotiating technique I use on a regular basis when people ask about how much I charge. It works like this:

CLIENT: “How much will this cost me?”

ME: “I like to make (amount of money). However, I mentor a few very talented younger writers. If I’m not within your budget, I can connect you with one of them. You’ll get solid work, with a little oversight from me, and pay about 60% of what I charge.”

I have never, not even one time, had a client opt to go with my “little brother” when I offer this. They all want the professional who’s so good at his job that he mentors other professionals. Even if they did go with one of my connections, I charge finders fees when I send out work, so I’d still get paid something.

Don’t lie here. If you’re not already mentoring somebody, start this week. Everybody knows someone who’s a little further behind on the path. Go teach them what you know. It will improve your writing.

Your Annual Raise

Working for an employer, you’ll get an evaluation and related raise about once each year. You should treat yourself with the same respect. Every year, you should increase your rates. Do this in one of two ways:

  • Let each of your clients know that as of September, your rates are rising by X cents per word. Don’t justify it, just send out the email and reflect it on your next invoices. Most understand that rates go up in life, and a 5% or even 10% increase isn’t enough to complain about.
  • Leave existing contracts as they are, but charge the next client or assignment 10% to 20% more. As old clients fade, this provides you with a steady, annual raise.

It’s Really that Simple…

…though I admit it’s not as easy as I might have made it all sound. Now get out there, charge what you’re worth, deliver excellent work, and charge a little more next time.

Before you know it, you’ll be making coder wages for writing in the language you like best.


For more on the business of freelancing, read on:

7 Common Editing Mistakes and How To Fix Them Tue, 12 Dec 2017 05:32:27 +0000 how to fix common writing mistakes

Editors are busy, time-constrained professionals who read all day long.

With only so many hours in the day, your editor wants to focus on helping you create amazing story arcs and deep, engaging characters. She does not want to spend her valuable time fixing your spelling, grammar, weak words, and awkward sentence constructions.

Your editor—whether a freelancer you’ve hired or the publishing house acquisitions editor you’re asking to publish your book—expects to see a certain level of polish. Unless you want to see the veins stand out on her neck, fix these 7 common issues before you submit your manuscript.

7 common editing mistakes and how to fix them

1. Cut the Adverbs

Have you heard these wise words before?

“The road to hell is paved with adverbs.”
— Stephen King

“An adverb modifies a verb, and nine times out of ten? If you need to modify the verb? It’s because you’re using the wrong verb.”
— Max Adams

“Cross out as many adjectives and adverbs as you can.”
— Anton Chekhov

“Death to all modifiers, he declared one day, and out of every letter that passed through his hands went every adverb and every adjective.”
— Joseph Heller

Adverbs, more often than not, prop up a weak verb. You’re better off cutting the adverb and using a strong verb in its place. Consider the following before-and-after examples:

  1. “I never want to see you again,” she said furiously. She pulled the door closed loudly as she left.
  2. “I never want to see you again,” she snapped, slamming the door behind her.

Which version paints a better picture in your mind?

Trust strong verbs and nouns to do the work for you rather than rely on adverbs. Use an editing tool to highlight every adverb and then go back and replace them with stronger wording.

2. Fix Your Repetitions

Do too many of your sentences start with pronouns?

She said okay. He held the door open. They left together. It was raining outside.

While this is an obvious example, you’d be amazed how often it happens. When you’re writing a scene about your main character, I’ll bet you’ve used “she” too many times. Frequently starting sentences with a pronoun makes writing feel tedious and dull.

Similarly, you might not notice that three sentences in a row start with an “-ing” word. Consider the following:

Eliminating the errors is the best course of action. Fixing the discrepancies will go a long way to making your editor happy. Submitting your manuscript in a polished state makes any editor smile.

Vary your sentence structures to keep your readers engaged with your work. When you start some sentences with clauses, some with pronouns, and others with proper nouns, you mix it up enough to keep it fresh.

3. Death to Clichés!

And you thought adverbs were bad!

Editors suffer apoplexy when confronted with clichés. Unoriginality at its worst, clichés scream of lack of imagination or just plain laziness. Safeguard your editor’s health by finding an original way of describing people, places, or situations.

This great quote comes to mind:

“Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.”
— George Orwell

What should you do instead? Call on vivid imagery, weird associations, counterintuitive comparisons, and so on. This is the time to let your personality as a writer shine through—be as unique as you like, and use those writing skills of yours to paint a truly original picture that will captivate your reader, instead of making their eyes glaze over at a well-worn turn of phrase.

4. Eliminate Redundancies

Redundancies creep into manuscripts all the time and they drive editors crazy.

Don’t “add an additional” chair to the table.  Just “add” the chair.

Don’t send “send advance notice” to your editor, just “notify” her.

Don’t “ask a question” of your editor, just “ask” him what you need to know.

Each of the above examples creates excessive words that your reader, and your poor editor, must wade through. Why do that to them?

Be kind. Ruthlessly cut redundant words and phrases—your editor will appreciate it. And, perhaps even more importantly, so will your readers.

Here are some more redundancies that seem to roll off the tongue (or fly from the fingers):

  • First began
  • False pretense
  • Final outcome
  • Collaborate together
  • Advance planning
  • Absolutely necessary
  • Frozen ice
  • Armed gunman
  • Past history
  • First conceived

Are you guilty of using any of these?

5. Use Active Voice

This is one of those rules passed down by generations of writers—because it’s good advice. Sentences written in the active voice tend to be stronger than those written in passive voice.

In an active sentence, the subject is at the start and the object is at the end. For example:

  • Tommy delivered the newspapers. (subject – verb – object)

In the passive, it’s reversed:

  • The newspapers were delivered by Tommy. (object – verb – subject)

Neither of these sentences is grammatically incorrect. However, you want your strong verbs coming from the subject, rather than the subject having something done to it.

Like many of these rules, this does not mean that you must remove every occurrence of the passive voice—sometimes it works—but often, your sentence will be more effective if you rearrange it.  To more effectively self-edit your passive voice out, use an editing tool to highlight instances of passive voice so that you can reconsider them.

6. Declutter Your Sentences

“Sticky sentences” are filled with glue words (of, the, an, on, at, that, is, have, etc). Glue words offer no meaning or clarity to your sentence; they just take up space.

Here’s an example:

Because of the fact that I was able to get good grades, my dream of becoming a student at an Ivy League college is almost coming to fruition.

The Glue Index (the number of sticky words compared to the total words in the sentence) is 53.6%. You want that number below 40%. Consider this rewrite:

With my good grades, I will reach my dream of attending Yale.

The first sentence had 28 words that wound around and didn’t get right to the point. The second one is 12 words long, has a Glue Index of 33.3%, and states the point succinctly.

Use an editing tool to find the sentences in your document with a high Glue Index and see if you can make them clearer.

7. Vary Your Sentence Lengths

Short sentences are choppy. Long, verbose sentences that crawl around, weaving through several different ideas without leading anywhere in particular, are hard to follow. Sentences with between 11 and 18 words are average and easier to read.

When you vary your sentence lengths, you create an engaging rhythm that readers and editors respond to. You want your editor to comment positively on your sentence variety. Good sentence variation looks like this:

writing sentence length report tool

Source: ProWritingAid Sentence Length Report.

Another important element to make your work engaging is how easy it is to read. Check the Flesch Reading Ease Score of your document. If the average fifth grader can read your manuscript and understand it, you’ve achieved success. If your editor sends your manuscript back with red pen everywhere asking you to simplify, your readability needs work.

Your goal is not to impress your editor with your command of a unique and intricate vocabulary—or to prove that you own a great thesaurus. It’s to clearly tell an engaging story in the simplest, most inconspicuous way possible. If a reader—or an editor—stumbles through your work, expect some yelling.


Give your readers, and your poor editor, a break! Don’t bog them down with errors and technical gaffes that you could (and should) have caught.

An editing tool like ProWritingAid will help you tighten up your writing so that everyone can concentrate on the amazing story you’re telling. Your editor can focus on helping you create real-life characters and a thrilling narrative arc that keeps readers turning pages until the very end.

And isn’t that what everyone wants?

About the Author

lisa lepki prowritingaid headshotLisa Lepki is the managing editor of the ProWritingAid blog. A word nerd, she loves the technical elements of writing almost as much as the writing itself. She is the co-author of The Novel-Writing Training Plan and 20 Editing Tips from Professional Writers.

Create the Perfect Elevator Pitch: How to Write a Pitch That Sells Your Story Mon, 11 Dec 2017 05:40:32 +0000 how to write an elevator pitch

Your manuscript is complete.

You’ve pored over rough drafts.

You’ve put in the late nights, writing well into the early hours of the morning.

You’ve solicited feedback from anyone offering a critical eye, and you’ve hammered every comma, dash, and period into place.

Now comes the real work: pitching your book to prospective literary agents, editors, and publishers.

What’s an Elevator Pitch?

Enter the elevator pitch—a brief promotion that delivers the brass tacks of an investment opportunity in the span of a few seconds.

The elevator pitch is an invaluable marketing device that’s found a home in the publishing industry, where brevity is valued currency, and it functions on multiple levels, succinctly and effectively communicating the crux of your book.

It’s never too early to start honing your book’s marketing strategy, and by mastering the theory and methodology behind composing a strong elevator pitch, you’ll be able to deftly answer that all-important question:

“So what’s your book about?”

Let’s take a look at some key tips for writing your elevator pitch.

Keep It Short and Sweet

When was the last time you read a book’s back cover text or dust jacket?

You’ll notice that back cover copy, similar to a movie trailer, follows a standard format: it draws readers in, teases a few highlights, and offers a small sample of what’s inside the cover.

The same approach can be applied to crafting an elevator pitch.

Much like with writing itself, being concise is the guiding principle here. The goal is to create the maximum effect for readers, using as few words as possible. This is especially true when dealing with agents and publishers, as they’ve listened to more pitches than they care to remember.

Here’s a short exercise to help you write an elevator pitch:

Without exceeding 100 words, sketch the main components of your book.

Here are some tips to help you!

Fiction and Narrative Nonfiction

Establish your main character or subject. Offer a few sensory details so readers can get a glimpse of who he or she is, and allude to why readers will ultimately be invested in this individual and the story in general. Indicate what’s at stake for this character or subject and the source of tension. Provide a sense of how your book will grip readers.

Next, capture the story’s plot. Introduce a few of the prevailing themes the book will explore. From there, offer some additional context. Hint at the world your book has built—the location (real or imagined), the era, and the landscape.

Include only the most notable features of your book: the central conflict, the main characters or subject, the setting, and the primary themes.


Briefly present the book’s thesis. Discuss what topics the book covers and the knowledge readers can expect to walk away with. Touch on how the information your book contains might fit into the framework of their everyday lives or broader cultural issues.

Include a few statements that communicate what makes you qualified to write the book. Cite any professional qualifications and unique insights you have on the field that give your book credibility.

Add Personality

After you’ve outlined the relevant information, add some personality to the blurb.

Tap into the characteristics that make your writing style unique, and let your narrative voice highlight the book’s attributes. Remember, the goal is to deliver a strong pitch in a short amount of space.

Cut the Fluff

For all genres, cut out any clutter and unnecessary phrases. Don’t use generic preambles such as “My book is about …” An elevator pitch shouldn’t last more than 60 seconds, so avoid embellishment and be mindful of word economy.

Ideally, your book’s elevator pitch can be pared down to a single sentence. This kind of promotional text is typically the only thing readers and booksellers have to go on when purchasing new books.

Check out Examples

Look at examples of pitches for successful books for a better idea of what makes a decent elevator pitch.

Here are four write-ups from the New York Times Bestseller list for November 2017, two fiction titles and two nonfiction titles. Review the list and consider the common thread between these pitches: brevity and concision. Consider how you might apply the same style to your own pitch.

“An artist upends a quiet town outside Cleveland.”
—Celeste Ng, Little Fires Everywhere

“Three lives intersect after a car accident in Brooklyn.”
—Isabel Allende, In the Midst of Winter

“A collection of essays that define the historical changes and essential institutions of America to suggest ways to overcome divisions within the country.”
—Dan Rather and Elliot Kirschner, What Unites Us

“A straightforward, easy-to-understand introduction to the universe.”
—Neil deGrasse Tyson, Astrophysics for People in a Hurry

Practice Makes Perfect

After you’ve penned a few drafts and practiced your pitch daily on your commute or during a few minutes of downtime, it’s time to present it to an agent or publisher and move one step closer to seeing your book in print.

Literary agents and editors listen to countless pitches from authors looking to sell their work, often a few dozen over the course of a single day. So how the heck are you supposed to stand out from the crowd?

The good news is, there are steps you can take to ensure your pitch stands out. It may take several drafts, but keep reworking the text until you’ve got something direct, concise, and punchy.

And be brutally honest with yourself. Read it out loud several times.

Does the pitch sound weak or contrived?

Would it benefit from infusing a little humor?

Practice your pitch on friends, family, coworkers, or even complete strangers (although this can get a little awkward—maybe just use it at your next dinner party). The more you give your pitch, the more feedback you can get on what’s working and what isn’t.

What don’t people understand?

What are you talking about too much?

Use this to refine your pitch even more.

How to Deliver a Great Elevator Pitch

Crafting a great pitch is crucial.

Delivering your pitch well is just as important.

How you deliver your pitch can make a big difference in how you’re perceived by an agent, editor, or potential reader—you need to be confident and comfortable speaking about your book and giving your pitch.

Here are 4 useful techniques to help commit your pitch to memory:

1. Record your pitch

Practicing how you deliver your pitch is nearly as essential as polishing the content.

Recite your pitch aloud into a recording device and listen critically.

Take notes as you listen to each pitch and identify what’s working and what might need some slight adjustment.

2. Rewrite as needed

Try to come up with at least five good pitches based on what you’ve learned from giving your pitch out loud.

Give yourself time to process each draft, and let some time pass before making a new recording.

3. Cut your drafts down to three solid pitches

Tailor each pitch for a distinct audience.

It is important to have a different pitch for various situations.

How you might pitch your book to a would-be reader at a convention or dinner party will differ from the pitch you’d deliver to an agent or publisher.

4. Keep calm and relax

Try to sound natural when delivering your pitch, though you’ll want to strike a balance between casual and professional.

Commit your pitch to memory to the point that it’s practically second nature for you to share it with others.

book market research

Know Your Market

In an aggressively author-driven market, readers almost exclusively follow a handful of authors.

Many readers will only venture outside their comfort zones to pick up books by authors similar to those household names and proverbial bestsellers riddled across social media and bookstore fronts.

Know Your Genre

That’s why it’s crucial that your work have a defined genre—a way for readers to immediately recognize whether the book will appeal to their interests.

It’s even more crucial that newer authors possess the understanding and self-awareness to know where their work fits in such a crowded market.

Know Your Agent and Publisher

Literary agents and editors are looking for titles that will sell.

Your book will be acquired and sold to publishers and readers on the merits of the idea and concept behind it as much as the quality of the prose. Without a gripping hook to generate interest, your title is not going to make it past the initial pitch.

Know Your Reader

Have a firm understanding of who your book will appeal to.

The foundation of developing a strong elevator pitch is knowing how to describe your work stylistically and managing expectations—remain confident yet grounded when assessing your work, but don’t place your writing in a singular unattainable category.

It’s hard to write the Great American Novel or the next mega bestseller—and that’s okay. By asserting a clearly defined genre, you can present to a prospective agent or publisher exactly where your book fits in a competitive market.

The harsh truth is that publishers are working in an industry where it is increasingly challenging to turn a profit.

By using your pitch to convey your book’s genre and target audience, you demonstrate that you have consciously thought about your book’s marketability and possess what it takes to be successful in your stated genre.

Keep in mind throughout this process that the publishing business is a business. The more resources you invest into your book’s marketing efforts, the more attractive it will be to potential publishers and literary agents.

Next Steps

Your elevator pitch can get you in the door with a reader, agent, or editor.

From there, you have to be ready to provide the additional information they need to get hooked on your book.

When approaching an agent or editor, your pitch should capture the storytelling elements or professional expertise that sets your book apart.

After that comes the more detailed information. Once your elevator pitch has gotten someone’s interest, be sure to have your book’s information on hand:

  • Know the exact word count or page count
  • Know your specific genre and subgenre
  • Know which age group the book is written for
  • Know if the book will be part of a series, and if so, how many books there will be in the series
  • Know at least three authors and three books that are similar to yours

It’s important to know a list of similar authors and books so that people who have never read your work can immediately understand what your book is about and where it fits in the market.

This allows agents and publishers to draw parallels and better connect with your book, resulting in a higher likelihood that your book will be understood and marketed to the appropriate target readership.

An elevator pitch, at its core, is a conversation.

It creates an opportunity to encapsulate what your book is about and who you are as a writer in a matter of seconds.

As an author, you are your book’s strongest advocate. Give your book the best possible chance to succeed—commit to the process of crafting a sound pitch.

So tell us: What’s your book about?

For more on pitching your book, check out these articles:

166: Understanding the LitRPG Genre and What Readers Want with Jamie Davis Fri, 08 Dec 2017 04:41:30 +0000 what is litRPG as a genre

Jamie Davis is the author of more than a dozen novels including Accidental Thief.

He’s also a registered nurse, a nationally recognized medical educator, and host of The Nursing Show.

How Jamie Became a Fiction Writer

Jamie got started as a novelist on a dare. He’s been a nurse and a medical educator for quite some time and has several nonfiction books available. In 2014, a friend of his dared him to write a novel for NaNoWriMo. He finished his novel during November and then it sat on the file for eight months.

Writing that first fiction novel stoked a creative fire in Jamie. He’s always considered himself a very creative person, and writing fiction gave him a different creative outlet than his nonfiction books or his podcast business.

He decided to release what would become the first book in his Extreme Medical Services series. It was very well received by listeners in Jamie’s podcast community, as well as fans of the urban fantasy genre.

The Extreme Medical Services series started as an idea for an educational web series that Jamie turned into a novel. Jamie is involved with seven podcasts and he writes for several blogs. He’s always writing. And ever since NaNoWriMo 2014, Jamie has always had a fiction project in process.

It never occurred to Jamie to go the traditional publishing route. He’s always been an entrepreneur. He was aware of self-publishing and the opportunities available to him to market to the audience of his choosing, rather than relying on an editor or publisher to decide where his book fit in the marketplace.

the importance of building an email list

How to Build an Audience as a Fiction Writer

Jamie has several tips for how to build an author as an indie fiction writer.

1. Build an Email List

Jamie enjoys the process of fiction writing. He also enjoys building a community and an audience that he can have conversations with.

It’s really important for every author to have a platform and an email list. Being an indie author today is no different than running any other online business.

“If you have any kind of business at all you need an email list, especially if you’re in an online setting.”
– Jamie Davis

For an author, having an email list is important because you need to have your readers be your readers, not Amazon’s readers, who they occasionally market your book to.

You need to build a community separate from any of the online book sellers.

You need to build an email list and communicate with it regularly. Remember: “regularly” can be every couple of weeks. You just want to keep yourself in the front of their mind.

You want to keep your fans apprised of what you’re up to, and you always want to be asking them questions.

You want to have a continuous conversation with your audience. This builds individual relationships with your audience members. You’ll gain invaluable insight into what they’re looking for in your fiction, and they’ll become invested in your success.

2. Do Newsletter Swaps with Authors in Your Genre

Another tactic Jamie uses is to connect with authors in his genre on Facebook, look at what they’re currently working on, and ask them if they’d be interested in doing a newsletter swap.

In a newsletter swap, Jamie offers to promote one of their books if they’ll promote one of his. Generally, he has them promote the first in one of his series.

You can also sign up for a newsletter swap organized by TCK Publishing!

3. Use Book Marketing Sites

Another way to build your email list is to use book marketing sites, with BookBub being the biggest of them all. There’s also FreeBooksy, Book Barbarian, and Kindle Nation Daily. Links are available in the resources section at the bottom of this page.

The best way to get success with the different book promotion sites is to run promotions that overlap one another.

how to build your audience as a fiction author

How to Build an Email List as a Fiction Author

When Jamie started writing fiction, he built his email list organically.

The first thing you want to do as a new author is put a link to your email list in the back of every book you write.

“If you’ve written a good book, your readers are going to want to hear from you when the next book comes out.”
– Jamie Davis

If you have more than one book out, you can do a number of things to entice people to sign up for your email list.

If you’ve written a series, you can:

  1. Offer your readers the second book in the series for free and let them know when the third book will be available.
  2. Write a reader magnet, which is a side story to your main plot.

How Newsletter Swaps Work for Authors

When you want to set up a newsletter swap, the first thing to do is look at authors in your genre who have books that directly target the same audience.

You’ll want to approach authors who are writing in the same genre as you, who have on their lists the same types of readers you want on your list. You want to become friends with 5 to 10 authors if you can.

A newsletter swap is a simple arrangement where you promote a new book to your audience. Then, when your new book comes out, the author you promoted will promote your book to their audience.

Don’t think of this as helping the competition. The truth is, you can’t possibly write books fast enough to satisfy your audience—and neither can any individual author. What you’re doing is showing your audience something they can read while they wait for your next book.

It’s also important to be honest with your audience. You can promote a book without having read it by simply saying, “This is a book by an author friend of mine, check it out.”

Of course, if you have time to read the book, you can actually recommend it.

Jamie’s Writing Process

The transition from nonfiction writer to fiction writer wasn’t as difficult as Jamie imagined it would be.

Jamie doesn’t believe in writer’s block. What people call writer’s block happens when you’re not prepared for what you want to write next. Jamie has run into that when he has tried to write certain blog posts.

Jamie isn’t a super planner when it comes to writing, but he does have at least a paragraph for every chapter about what’s going to happen in that chapter. Sometimes, chapters get added because new things occur to him when he’s writing. But he always has an idea of what’s going to happen next when he sits down to write fiction.

He also gets up early and starts his day. He believes in the principles espoused in The Miracle Morning. Jamie begins writing by 5 a.m., when the rest of his family is still asleep.

Jamie writes for at least two hours a day every day. He treats his writing like a business and allocates a certain number of hours per week to it.

If he has a deadline because his book is on some editor’s schedule, Jamie will write whenever he needs to write to meet that deadline.

Jamie started honing his writing skills from a very early age. His mother was a schoolteacher, and his father was a lawyer who got an English literature degree before going to law school. So from the start, Jamie did a lot of reading and writing.

Reading as much as he did allowed him to develop an idea of what works and what doesn’t work when writing.

Jamie also did a lot of writing in grade school, high school, and college. He attended a liberal arts college that required a lot of writing before deciding to go into the nursing field. He feels like his life experience gave him the practice required to be a productive professional writer.

Read. Apply. Repeat.

Jamie has read a number of books on the craft of writing. One book that didn’t really gel with his creative process was The Story Grid. He tried to apply the principles of the book after reading it and it led to a month of unproductive writing time.

Jamie recommends that you only try to adopt the writing processes that appeal to you.

Jamie has found the following authors to be helpful in developing his writing process:

  • Chris Fox (particularly Write to Market)
  • Scott King.
  • Johnny B Truant, Sean Platt, and David Wright (particularly their book Publish. Repeat.)

The Lessons of Write Publish Repeat

“The best way to market your book is to write another book. Every new book you put out brings new readers to every other book you’ve ever written.”
– Jamie Davis

Write. Publish. Repeat. talks about:

  • How to write
  • The structure of how you set yourself up to be a writer
  • The importance of writing regularly
  • The supreme importance of writing your next book after you’re done with the one you’re writing now

Writing continuously is one of the major reasons Jamie has been successful.

About the LitRPG Genre

The litRPG genre is either a high fantasy story with gamer elements or a sci-fi story with gamer elements. It just depends which end of the genre you’re writing in. People write about sci-fi roleplaying games as much as they do high fantasy roleplaying games.

How to Do Market Research in a New Genre

When you’re writing a new genre, the first thing you want to do is read at least 3 to 5 highly recommended books in that genre. The easiest way to get your list of highly recommended books is to join Facebook groups related to the genre and ask for recommendations of people’s favorite books in the genre.

If you ask for simple recommendations, you’ll probably get between 20 and 30 depending on the number of groups you join. Look for the recommendations that repeat.

You can also check out recommendation lists on Goodreads.

After you have the list of 3 to 5 books in a particular category that people really like, read them. Then read the reviews. Pay particular attention to:

  • The things people really liked about the books
  • Things people didn’t like about the books
  • Things people expected that they didn’t get in the books

If you can identify reader expectations, you can write a book that most readers of your genre will like.

Writing to market isn’t just chasing the current hot market.

Writing to market is:

  • Finding a genre you’re passionate about
  • Figuring out what readers of that genre are looking for in the books they read
  • Putting the elements that readers are looking for in the books you write

If you want to find groups of readers, one of the easiest places to look is Facebook. Just type in whatever genre of book you’re planning on writing. There will be groups of readers and authors devoted to that genre of book.

Another good place to look for groups of readers is Goodreads.

How to Use Facebook Groups as a Market Research Tool

Facebook groups can be a powerful market research tool. But Jamie says it’s important that you treat Facebook groups the same way you’d treat a neighborhood picnic.

If you’re new to the neighborhood and someone invites you to a picnic, you wouldn’t go there just to sell your books. People at the picnic would consider that rude.

It’s important that you read the rules for posting on all the Facebook groups that you join. The more established Facebook groups will have well-established rules that you should follow. It’s just good manners, and will keep you in the good graces of the group and the group administrators.

Some groups won’t allow you to post about your book in their group. You can use those groups for market research and to help you figure out what people want to read in that particular genre.

Some groups will let you share your book with their audience if you put a link to their Facebook group in the back of the book. For Jamie, this is a no-brainer. Putting links to two or three high-quality Facebook groups helps your readers and the group you’re advertising to. It just makes sense in the social media age.

Simply be honest and genuine. People will respect that.

Selling Books on Twitter Doesn’t Work for Jamie

When Jamie tracks links, he doesn’t get many sales from the links he posts on Twitter. He also thinks it’s particularly ineffective to tweet about your book constantly every day.

The important thing to remember with social media is that it’s social first. If people ask you about your writing, it’s okay to talk about it, but you shouldn’t try to push it on people.

Connect with Jamie

You can connect with Jamie at If you like urban fantasy or high fantasy books, you can sign up for his email newsletter and get a free book. He generally sends a newsletter once a week.

If you are an author in urban fantasy or high fantasy, feel free to contact Jamie on his website. He’s open to newsletter swaps and he’s willing to talk to you about what he’s doing that’s working.

Links and Resources Mentioned in This Interview

Accidental Thief: Book one in the LitRPG Accidental Traveler Adventure

The Nursing Show – the podcast for nurses by nurses

Jamie Davis’s author page on Amazon – Jamie’s website

The Extreme Medical Services Series by Jamie Davis. This is an urban fantasy series about medical professionals providing services to fantasy creatures.

BookBub – the largest book promotion site on the internet. – a book promotion site that focuses on sci-fi and fantasy books.

Kindle Nation Daily sponsorship – this link will take you directly to Kindle Nation Daily’s sponsorship form, where you can look over their many options. Kindle Nation Daily is a community of Kindle readers. It’s not genre-specific.

The Miracle Morning – Jamie believes in the principles of the miracle morning and uses them to jumpstart his writing process.

The Story Grid: What Good Editors Know – a craft book recommended by many people that didn’t really work for Jamie.

Write. Publish. Repeat. (The No-Luck-Required Guide to Self-Publishing Success) (The Smarter Artist Book 1) – a book about the business of self-publishing by three of the most prolific authors around.

Chris Fox’s Amazon author page – Chris Fox writes a series of books about how to be successful as a self-published author.

Scott King’s Amazon author page – Scott King has written several books on his author process. – Jamie’s go-to place to find groups of authors and readers. Simply type the genre you’re searching for into Facebook’s search bar. – a place to find groups of readers and authors in particular genres.


Jamie Davis is the author of more than a dozen novels including Accidental Thief. He’s also a registered nurse, a nationally recognized medical educator, and host of The Nursing Show. How Jamie Became a Fiction Writer Jamie got started as a novelist on... Jamie Davis is the author of more than a dozen novels including Accidental Thief. He’s also a registered nurse, a nationally recognized medical educator, and host of The Nursing Show. How Jamie Became a Fiction Writer Jamie got started as a novelist on a dare. He’s been a nurse and a medical educator for quite […] TCK Publishing clean 25:03
How to Handle Negative Criticism: 6 Ways to Use Criticism to Improve Your Writing Wed, 06 Dec 2017 05:45:01 +0000 how to deal with criticism constructively

No author writes in a vacuum.

Unless your writing habits are entirely limited to scribbling in a journal you keep locked in a drawer or hidden between your mattress and your box spring, there’s a high likelihood that eventually somebody else is going to read your writing.

For many first-time authors, this is a make-or-break moment, the first real test of their mettle as a writer… and quite a nerve-wracking experience to boot.

What if my story is no good? you might think—or, worse yet, What if they don’t like it?

But you, intrepid soul that you are, pluck up your courage and approach a colleague or a trusted friend, and place your first story in their hands.

And they read it. And read it again.

And then the dreaded response comes back:

“Well…” they say. “I liked it… except, there was this one part…”

The fact is, dealing with criticism of your writing can be incredibly difficult. But it’s an important and necessary part of any author’s life, as the clearest and most candid indicator of how your stories are coming across to an outside audience. No matter where it comes from, negative criticism can be painful, even heartbreaking at times, but receiving and responding to it can be an extraordinary tool for improving your craft—if you handle it correctly.

Here’s a 6-step process you can use to deal with negative criticism of your own writing, and become a stronger writer in the process.

How to Constructively Deal with Criticism

Right. You’ve just received your first piece of negative criticism—let’s say it’s a bad review of one of your stories. You’re understandably upset: after all, you work hard at your craft. Your stories represent significant investments of time and effort on your part.

So to know that somebody out there either doesn’t understand or enjoy your work (or simply believes it of poor quality) hurts.

But there’s a good way and a bad way to deal with negative criticism. Let’s take a look at a proven 6-step process to help you deal with bad reviews, harsh peer feedback, and other sticky situations constructively.

1. Take a Big Step Back

In this moment, it’s critical that you don’t let your emotions rule you. Take a step back from what you’ve read—put it out of your head, and don’t return to it for about 24 hours.

This should give you ample time to cool off, allowing you to re-approach your critics with a more detached, or even analytical mindset.

When you do return, reread the review with these two questions in mind, as they will determine what action, if any, you should take…

2. Ask: “Is this fair?”

Once you’ve reached a place where you can analyze your criticism objectively, you’ve got to decide whether or not you think the points made are valid.

Simply put: Do you believe your critics?

Remember that criticism is entirely subjective, and subject to the varying tastes and fancies of those who write it. Even the best and most popular authors working today get bad reviews—and many books that are considered classics today were skewered by critics of their era.

Consider the source of the criticism. Is this a review from a respected reviewer or literary analyst, or simply feedback from a fellow writer—or a reader? Neither should be discounted out of hand, but a critic’s level of expertise in the field can help determine just how seriously you take their opinions.

Now, take what you know about the critic’s background and combine this knowledge with your own internal judgement of your critique as you move on to the second question…

3. Ask: “Is this actionable?”

This, perhaps, is the best determiner of how you should handle any negative criticism you receive.

Even if you believe a particular critique is bang-on, there’s often very little you can do to course-correct, at least in the moment.

For instance: if a critic publishes a bad review of your novel, it’s not as though you can immediately publish a second edition with their criticisms addressed. Or if your fans express outrage at a particular plot choice you made—like your decision to kill off a popular character—you can’t simply resurrect them in the next installment without a well-thought-out reason or without risking the appearance of pandering.

However, so long as you continue to write, all criticism becomes actionable given a long enough time scale.

Use fair criticism as motivation to improve. Even if you can’t correct your current mistakes, you can avoid repeating these missteps in future stories. If fans are upset at a character’s demise, pay tribute by making their death meaningful in later installments. If reviewers denounce your thin characterizations, take steps to flesh out your characters in the next story you write.

As long as you stay positive and motivated, even the harshest condemnations can become opportunities to grow as a writer.

4. Seek Out “Author-Oriented” Criticism

There’s a reason bad reviews from professional critics can sound so harsh and cut so deep. They’re not written for you, the author. They’re for the reading public—and, to a lesser extent, the critical community at large.

While there is the popular fantasy of the deranged critic purposefully torpedoing the careers of creative types out of sheer hatred, it’s important to remember that professional critics don’t write reviews to help or harm authors. It’s a job for them, and outside of your writing being the basis for their craft, you as a person don’t enter the equation for them at all.

This highlights the need to seek out criticism that is written with you in mind: “author-oriented” criticism, if you will.

On this front, there’s one area of critique that warrants special attention: any feedback (good or bad!) that you receive before your story is published deserves consideration. This goes double for criticisms from your regular peer editor or your publisher, as they’re the most likely to be both fair and actionable—not to mention that they’re also the most likely to be made in your best interest.

While the job of a reviewer or other professional critic is merely to appraise the merits of various written works on a (more-or-less) objective basis, peer-to-peer editing or notes from your publisher are there for your benefit specifically. Your publisher, of course, wants to mold your story into a book that will sell well, while your friend simply wants to see you succeed.

Though both can easily be as harsh as any professional critic, they also present your greatest chance to improve your work before it’s even published—and should never be ignored.

5. Be Your Own Harshest Critic

A lot of what makes negative criticism sting the way it does is that it’s often unexpected. Of course you think your writing is excellent—you made it, after all. And you’ve spent so much time with your stories in the writing and editing process that they become particularly special to you, so you’re more likely to gloss over flaws in the writing.

So when a bad review comes along, it can often seem like the criticisms are coming out of nowhere, and leave you gobsmacked.

A lot of this can be alleviated by doubling down on your own self-criticism. There’s an old saw that advises writers to “kill [their] darlings,” and it holds a great deal of water here.

It sounds masochistic, but being harsher and less self-indulgent in your writing—and especially your editing—can make outside criticism seem much more lenient by comparison. Not only that, but this mindset has the added benefit of improving your editing process by encouraging you to poke and prod your writing, to get under the hood to understand your own style—and, ultimately, to remove any rusty or non-functional bits you might find.

6. Don’t Take Any of it Personally

This is easily the most important piece of advice for any writer facing negative criticism, and also easily the most difficult to truly follow.

Naturally you’re going to take it personally. You worked hard on that story. It’s important to you. Your writing is your passion, and your characters are like friends to you. To hear them disparaged, of course you can’t help but take it as a deep personal insult.

Resist this. Resist with everything you’ve got in the tank.

It will be hard at first. You might even fail the first time (or three), but as you receive more and more criticism (whether favorable or less so), you will begin to realize that it all reflects only on your writing, and not you as a human being.

Though your craft might take up a good deal of your time and play a large role in your life and livelihood, your stories are not you.

Remind yourself to think of your writings as separate entities from yourself: not only will this help you take less personal affront from negative criticism, it can help you see your stories in a more objective light. Finding fault in your own work can often feel like you’re criticizing yourself instead of just the words on the page, but with the right framing, a more objective outlook can actually lead to better stories, and a healthier attitude towards your own writing in the long run.

So before you send your next story off for review, remember to treat all criticism you receive, good and bad alike, not as a rejection but as an opportunity to reflect and improve. Don’t be afraid to embrace it—and, like American novelist and screenwriter John Irving advises, don’t be afraid to disregard it, either.

LISTEN very carefully to the first criticism of your work. Note just what it is about your work that the reviewers don’t like; it may be the only thing in your work that is original or worthwhile.
— John Irving

Want to learn more about how to get book reviews in the first place? Read on!

Ultimate Gift Guide for Writers: The Best Gifts a Writer Could Want Tue, 05 Dec 2017 05:05:01 +0000 gift guide for writers and authors

Whether you’re the writer and you’re looking to treat yourself or you’re trying to come up with the perfect gift idea for the writer in your life, this list is sure to have something perfect for the scribe you love!

Our team of editors compiled this detailed list of the best gifts for writers.

Gifts for the Office

thinkboard peel and stick whiteboard

Think Board Whiteboard Kits

Help your favorite writer with their brainstorming by giving the gift of a whiteboard like no other!

With the Think Board, you can transform any flat, boring surface into a creative workspace where you can write, brainstorm, doodle, and so much more. After all, writing it down is the first step towards achieving your goals.

In your kit, you’ll get a Think Board, marker, cleaning gear, and Velcro dots. Just peel and stick and get to brainstorming! There’s a range of different options from $19.99 to $449.99.

Check them out at

zei time tracker productivity

ZEI Time Tracker Cube

Whether working as a freelance journalist or on that first novel or screenplay, it’s crucial to know how much time you’ve logged at the keyboard, whether it’s for billing purposes or to simply gauge your productivity. But tracking time via apps or programs is easy to forget and it’s a pain to do when you do remember.

Looking like a big, eight-sided die, ZIE is the world’s first tangible time-tracking device. It’s completely customizable and easy to set up within minutes. Just assign a task to each side with a sticker or pen and flip that side upright while you work. When you change tasks, flip a new side up. It’s that simple.

ZEI works on its own or can be paired with some of the most popular time-tracking software, such as iCal, Toggl, and Harvest.

Get one for $115 at

meem memory cord backup cable

Meem Memory Cord

The worst thing that can happen to a writer is having their work get deleted in a computer or phone crash.

Help them back up their precious files with the MEEM memory cable, which backs up critical information, photos, contacts, and more from your phone or tablet to the cable itself every time you charge. PIN security encrypts the data if the cable is stolen or lost, ensuring that your manuscript stays safe. It works with iPhone or Android and you can even back up multiple devices.

Prices start at $59. Check it out at or buy yours from Best Buy or Amazon.

jam comfort buds bluetooth earbuds

JAM Audio Comfort Earbuds

We’ve talked before about how ambient noise can help writers be more productive—help your writer do their best with comfort earbuds meant for all-day use.

JAM Audio’s Comfort Buds are lightweight Bluetooth earbuds with an ergonomic collar that makes them comfy for hours. With a 10-hour playback time, you’ll be able to listen all day on a single charge, and they’re sweat-resistant to let your writer go from jogging to a writing session without missing a beat. They even have an integrated mic for taking calls or doing interviews.

Pick them up at Amazon for $49.99 or visit for more information.

erasable clarus glass notepad

Glass Notepad

Every writer is always making notes somewhere. Let yours jot things down in style on a clever glass notepad.

The Clarus Classic Glass Notepad is the traditional notepad, redefined. A simple and elegant solution for quick notes and tasks at your desk or kitchen counter, the Glass Notepad is made from precision-cut glass, with polished edges for an upscale look.

Just scribble your ideas, then wipe clean when you’re ready to start fresh! No more paper notes strewn all over.

Grab one for $25 from; there’s other sizes and styles, too!
adjustable desktop standing desk

Standing Desk

Help your writer be healthier and more productive with a standing desk for their office!

Karla Allen, a professional researcher and writer at At Your Pace Online, recommends the combo of the Eureka Ergonomic Next Generation Height-Adjustable Sit-Stand Desk Top 36-inch and the Smart Step Home Anti-Fatigue Comfort Mat from Costco to take your writer’s office to the next level.

She says: “The adjustable height desk has given me the freedom to stand and write for sometimes up to half my day. The unit is solid and sits right atop my desk, so those writers who already have the perfect desk can keep it. The unit comes in one piece and literally goes from box to desktop (though if you’re getting it for someone with back pain, make sure you’re there to set it on the desk for them).”

Adding an anti-fatigue mat will help support their joints and make writing all day a joy.

Pick up a desktop standing desk unit from Amazon for $300 and an anti-fatigue mat for $30.

electric heater for office or desk

Electric Heater

Riah at Marsden Marketing says: “It doesn’t matter where you work—Boston or San Diego—offices are cold. Really cold. Every writer needs a small electric heater on hand.

This tiny ceramic model won’t blow any fuses and will keep your writer’s fingers nice and toasty, ready to bang out the next chapter.”

Pick it up on Amazon for just $20.

desk cycle for office

Under-the-Desk Cycle

Registered dietician and professional editor Julie Stefanski says: “For professional writers, it can be challenging to stay active while having to sit at a computer all day. An under-the-desk cycle can be an effective way to pedal away calories while getting work done. Compact models definitely fit better under a table or desk.”

Try a compact folding model from Amazon for just $26.

skyroam solis global wifi hotspot

Global WiFi Hotspot

One of the best parts about being a professional writer is being able to work wherever you want—the world is your office!

Or at least it is if you can get a reliable internet connection to upload your latest article or manuscript.

With the Skyroam Solis, that won’t be a problem! This dual 4G LTE global WiFi hotspot and
power bank offers superfast LTE speeds, a long-lasting battery, and the ability to charge up your mobile phone or tablet on the go. With instant access to secure, unlimited data in 100+ countries, Skyroam Solis offers the convenience of going from one country to another without configuring local SIMs, updating plans, or incurring roaming charges or overage fees, and you can even share the connection on up to five devices simultaneously.

Get one for $150 with data packages starting at $8 from

Writing Gear

aquanotes shower notepad

Shower Notepad

So many of our best ideas come in the shower. Never lose another genius plot point or perfect book idea again with AquaNotes!

This notepad suctions to the shower wall and allows you to write down your thoughts before they wash down the drain—no matter whether it’s a book concept, doodle, message, or to-do list, you’ll be able to keep your brilliant ideas after the shower’s over!

The waterproof paper is so durable it can even be written on underwater. Best of all, it’s totally recyclable, environmentally friendly, and non-toxic. Even soy-based ink and wind energy are used in the printing process.

Each waterproof notepad is only $7 and includes 40 sheets of perforated paper and a pencil. Get yours at

montblanc augmented paper

Augmented Paper

Plain paper is so last century. Upgrade your writer’s toolkit with Montblanc’s Augmented Paper.

This innovative technology transfers written notes and sketches from the sleek, yet traditional notebook to an app that can be used on iPhones, iPads, and more. Once the user has transferred the written content, they are able to edit, share with others, and even translate the text.

It even comes in several colors, to stylishly accent any office or wardrobe.

Augmented Paper can be purchased at and Montblanc boutiques nationwide for $680 to $720, depending on color.

cape horn sail handmade notebook

Cape Horn Sails Notebook

Designed in the southernmost tip of South America, Cape Horn handmade notebooks help you keep a log of your best and wildest ideas.

The unique fragments on their covers come from sails that have traveled thousands of miles on the open sea, and are made of the most innovative materials: carbon fiber, Kevlar, Dacron, nylon, mylar, and more.

Pick one up for $28.90 and up from their website or Amazon.

custom sticky note cube

Custom Memo Notes

Tons of writers are dependent on sticky notes to jot down inspiration, move around plot points, or just generally keep themselves organized.

Upgrade your writer’s notes by giving them a customized note cube from Pickett’s Press. You can choose the font and message printed on the side of the 700-note cube. There’s also custom memo pads and stationary sets!

Order for $45 from

handmade heritage travel notebook for writers

Heritage Notebook

Writing lasts for the ages, so shouldn’t what you write in be just as heirloom-worthy?

The Writer’s Essentials Notebook by Paper Republic is made from leather tanned using plants, herbs, and wood at a 300-year old tannery in the south of France. It’s even refillable, to ensure that it’ll be used for a lifetime.

Get a set that includes colored dividers and three paper refills at Waremakers for $119.

pen for book signings

Special Pens for Signings

Writer William Webb, who’s done plenty of signings as a popular fiction and nonfiction author, suggests getting your favorite writer a special pen that’s distinctive enough to use at signings—something that’s both beautiful and comfortable to write with for extended periods.

Check out the Montblanc Starwalker rollerball for $200, Parker Jotter for $25, Scribe Sword fountain pen for $35, or a pen made from wood from Thomas Jefferson’s estate for $395.

rocketbook connected smart notebook

Rocketbook Connected Notebook

Does your writer love the old-fashioned feel of writing on paper, but need the organization and flexibility of the digital age to get stuff done?

Have no fear, Rocketbook is here! This innovative reusable notebook lets you tag pages to be uploaded to particular folders and instantly digitizes all your work, storing it securely in the cloud so you’ll never lose a word.

Integrations include: Google Docs, Evernote, Dropbox, Box, Microsoft Onenote, Slack, iCloud, and iMessage.

Notebooks start at $27 at or Amazon.


Resources and Tools

best nonfiction publishing courses

Publishing Course

Give your writer a leg up on publishing their work by giving them a course on nonfiction publishing! With the “How to Write Nonfiction Like a Pro” course, they’ll learn how to do targeted market research, write more efficiently, and build their audience to maximize their publishing career from Day One.

It’s just $97 at

writers market logo

Writing Market Subscription

English professor and author Janet Ruth Heller, PhD, says, “There are many book guides for writers and magazines for writers. My favorite magazines for writers are The Writer, Poets & Writers, and The Writer’s Chronicle. Subscriptions to these make good gifts, helping your favorite author find new paying venues for their work.

“Also, the following books are excellent gifts for writers: Writer’s Market 2018, Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market, Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market, Poet’s Market, etc. All of these are published by Writer’s Digest.”

A writer’s marketplace subscription can help your beloved writer take the next step to earning a full-time author income. What a gift!
grammarly grammar tool for writers

Grammarly Subscription

Riah from Marsden Marketing has another great suggestion for writers: “If you’re not worried about offending your writer friend, you could get them a premium Grammarly subscription. This comprehensive grammar and spelling software leaves spellcheck in the dust. Just make sure you communicate it’s out of a love for their work and a desire to make life easier—not because you’re hinting that they really need to work on their comma usage.”

Sign them up at for as little as $11/month.

the right margin writing companion software

The Right Margin

Give your writer a better way to get things done with a subscription to The Right Margin, a web app designed to help writers boost their productivity.

Unlike other writing apps and programs, The Right Margin actively nudges you to meet your goals, helps you track your time, and generally acts as a writing buddy. The writing space is minimal and prevents distraction. The timeline and milestone features makes it easy to break down any type of content (blog
posts, novel, etc.) into bite-size goals. And anytime you stop writing and you’re at risk at missing your deadline, you get friendly and motivational reminders by email.

Sign them up for $9.99 a month (or a discounted $72 for the whole year) at And be sure to use promo code THEWRITEGIFT, which will give you a month free to start!

the artists way book morning pages

The Artist’s Way

Screenwriter and comedian Ryan George recommends helping your favorite author take their craft to the next level with The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. Morning Pages has changed the lives of many a writer—Ryan included—and he says that starting a morning journaling practice will really help your writer’s creativity.

Get a copy for $13 from Amazon.

scrivener writing software


Many of the most productive writers out there swear by Scrivener, the software that lets you collect your notes, organize your outline, write, and rearrange all in one handy program!

Available for Windows or Mac, this writer-focused software suite will change how your writer works forever, helping them be more productive and organized whenever they sit down to write.

Get a copy for $45 from their website.

Society Membership

Author Stefani Deoul recommends giving “a membership to a society which would suit their novel or genre, like SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) or Mystery Writers of America, etc. From this they will meet people, gain insight, develop relationships, and find mentors for their path.”

Look up your writer’s favorite genre online by doing a search for “[genre] society”. Many memberships start at only $99 per year.

postplanner social media scheduling software


Romance author Carrie Aulenbacher suggests giving your favorite writer a PostPlanner subscription to turbocharge their social media marketing—and free up more time for writing.

She says: “I found it an economical alternative to Hootsuite and it not only allowed me to bulk upload tweets and FB posts, but it has a great section devoted to showing me suggestions when I need inspiration for new content to post. It really helped me to keep bringing fans beneficial content while allowing me more time to concentrate on my writing.

“Sharing blogs, videos and book updates is important and such a site keeps me from tying up all my energy in social media networks. Any writer intimidated about diving headlong into full out tweeting would especially benefit from letting a account do the work for them!”

Subscriptions start at just $3 a month at

Hands holding business card that reads "author".

Printing Gift Certificate

Having business cards, postcards, and other promotional materials is a must for a modern writer.

Give them a gift certificate for VistaPrint, Staples or another service where they can order the printed materials they need to stand out from the crowd and promote their book to the full.

writing prompts journal for authors

642 Tiny Things to Write about

Give the gift of inspiration with this handy pocket-sized journal of writing prompts!

Your favorite author will never be stumped again when they’re able to pull out this great little book loaded with thought-provoking writing prompts. It’s nearly two years’ worth of daily writing ideas!

Get a copy on Amazon for just $8.50.

90-Day Live Like a Boss Coaching Program

Help the writer in your life move to the next level by getting them a 90-day intensive one-on-one coaching program designed to help them focus better, eat healthier, take care of themselves, and biohack their way to success.

Coach Kristen Battistelli will use her decades of corporate experience and biohacking expertise to help your favorite author get unstuck, ditch bad habits, and move to the next level in their personal life and career. Talk about a gift that keeps on giving!

Visit Kristen’s website to get more details.

Online Classes

Help your writer develop their craft and their business skills with online classes designed for career development.

CreativeLive offers a variety of writing and podcasting classes that can help your writer level up their skills or pick up a new skill to help market their work.

Classes start at just $79. Check them out at


There are dozens upon dozens of books out there designed to help authors improve their craft, market their work more effectively, and generally boost their careers. Author and PR specialist Robert Barrows has some suggestions:

“Here are some essential writers and books that people should read depending on the genre in which they write:

1) Read a Stephen King book and then read Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft 
2) Read some Mickey Spillane
3) Read some Ian Fleming, Kurt Vonnegut, and Jerzy Kosinski
4) Read some Richard Brautigan and Isaac Asimov
5) Read 50 Shades of Grey
6) Then, read a Harry Potter book
7) Read some Sherlock Holmes stories, too

“See how they write their bestsellers. One thing that fascinates me about Stephen King is that his books literally give me nightmares.

“Since you might only give a person one book as a gift, pick a book from one of the above or pick one of your own favorites that was also a bestseller. You could also go to a used book store and pick up several of the above in paperback.”



Writers Conference Trip

Author Robyn L. Coburn says, “The greatest gift I was given recently was the opportunity to attend the AWP Conference, which included a year’s subscription to the group’s magazine. The event, which travels to different cities every year, includes all kinds of information sessions, as well as an expo floor with the focus on independent publishers and university presses. From that event, I got a recommendation for my editor, who helped me make my upcoming biography ready to submit.

“Give the writer in your life an experience like a great conference, which they may not want to buy for themselves. That, and great magazine subscriptions, are a true indulgence.”

Learn more about writer’s conferences here:

Museum Membership

Robin Jacobson Lampe of Wind Communications says, “I’ve been a writer for 20-plus years, and I’d suggest giving a membership to a local art museum or tickets to a local theater or event center for periodic inspiration and to get a recluse out of his or her house or office, around other creatives. A few hours lost in a gallery, reflecting, or enjoying a moving musical performance can reset our creativity and offer a creative boost.”


Consider giving your favorite writer a gift certificate for useful services—offer to hire a website developer, Twitter expert, PR person, or other expert to help them build out their marketing and online platform.

What about paying for your author’s web hosting for a year? Every author needs a great website, and even inexpensive hosting plans can add up.

Get a year of hosting from Bluehost starting at just $3.99 per month.

Food & Drink

moscow fuel copper coffee mug

Moscow Fuel Copper Coffee Mug

It’s been said that if a writer doesn’t have an alcohol problem, they probably have a coffee problem. While that’s not necessarily true of every writer, we’ve rarely met an author who would turn down a really great mug!

Check out the Moscow Fuel Mug: “Coffee in cocktail attire.”

This porcelain mug features a copper exterior to lend a glam touch—and a hint of today’s trendiest cocktail, the Moscow Mule—to your writer’s caffeine routine. It even comes with a recipe for a kicky ginger coffee!

Get one for $22 from

hope bridges thai coffee

Hope Bridges Thai Coffee

Give a delicious gift that gives back to the world with Hope Bridges’ Thai Coffee. This organically grown, fair trade coffee supports tribal farmers in the hill country of northern Thailand—the beans are even processed by a local collective, helping ensure that more money goes to the community.

And because Hope Bridges is a 501c(3) nonprofit, more than 50% of every sale goes directly to benefit children in these impoverished communities, with the rest going to support local farmers and environmental initiatives. What’s not to love?

Order for $4.95 and up from

wine subscription for writers

Wine Subscription

Pamper your writer a little every month with a wine subscription!

Subscription services like Winc let you choose certain flavor profiles or wines, or they’ll customize a box just for you (or your writer) based on your preferences in coffee and other foods and drinks.

Start a box from just $13 a bottle at

teabook litearary teas for writers

Literary Teas

Brew up inspiration for your beloved writer with a cup of book-inspired tea!

LiTEArary Teas offers unique organic teas with clever names based on famous authors, like ShakeSpearmint, Agatha ChrisTEA, and Mark Twainquility. You can also help organize your writer’s tea collection (because let’s face it, writers tend to have a lot of tea around) with a Teabook, an elegant, lightweight storage solution that holds up to 144 teas.

Pick up a new brew at for $7.99 and up.

writers tears irish whiskey

Writers Tears Whiskey

Copywriter Simon Mitchell of Copy Octopus makes it through difficult passages with the help of a few Writers Tears—the whiskey, that is. As a writer, he knows the tears of frustration that can come from facing writer’s block or just a difficult client. Luckily, there’s a cure for that frustration in the form of delicious Writer’s Tears Irish Whiskey—the perfect gift for the single malt loving wordsmith in your life!

Pick some up at your favorite liquor store.

atlas coffee club world coffee subscription

World Tour of Coffee

Take your writer on a tour of the world—in their coffee cup!

Atlas Coffee Club offers a new coffee destination each month, letting you sample brews from Papua New Guinea, El Salvador, Tanzania, and beyond.

Subscribe at for $50 for a three-month subscription.

ember smart coffee mug

Smart Mug

It happens all too often: you get into a passage and time just flies by. You go to take a sip of your tea and…oh man, it’s stone cold. Ew.

Never let your writer suffer through a cold cup of coffee or tea again! Give them the Ember, a first of its kind ceramic mug that allows you to customize and set your hot beverage to your desired temperature through an app.

And this isn’t just a “smart” mug because it’s linked to an app: Once it’s turned on, it will “wake up” when it senses you’ve poured liquid into the mug. That way, you can just pull your charged mug out of the cupboard or off the table and start using it. You can even charge it while full on the special charging coaster.

Pick one up for $79.95 from or select Starbucks retail locations.

electric kettle for writers

Electric Kettle

An electric tea kettle is a lifesaver. Writers love either tea or coffee, and there’s nothing better than perfectly hot water ready in minutes.

With some models, like this Chefman version, you can even use it as a teapot, infusing the tea straight into your hot water and setting the water temperature to the precise temperature for each type of tea: black, green, rooibos, etc.

Grab one at Amazon for $35.

coffee and donut mug for writers

Coffee and Donut Mug

Never settle for cold coffee and a stale donut again. This unique mug keeps your drink warm for longer than you’d believe…and even has a surprise function: donut warmer!

The built-in lid traps heat inside the cup for coffee and tea that stays hotter longer. The lid also gets nice and warm like a hot plate, and it’s perfect for holding and warming donuts, cookies, bagels, and other pastries!

So when writers get in the zone, and they’re coffee is already cold before they get halfway through the cup, this item will help them. When they feel isolated or down or lost in a world from which they’re telling a story, a warm pastry to accompany their coffee is often a little ray of joy that can help them through. Sometimes it’s the little things!

Pick one up for $19.99 from

lovefood healthy snack subscription box

Snack Box Subscription

Sometimes writers get so swept up in their work that they forget to eat.

Care for your loved one with a healthy, tasty subscription to Love with Food. Each month, they’ll get chef-curated organic, natural, or gluten-free snacks delivered right to their door, with a portion of the proceeds going to provide meals at food pantries across the US.

Subscriptions start at $7.99 a month at

avitae caffeinated water

Caffeinated Water

Most people—and seemingly, nearly all writers!—depend on the caffeine jolt they get from a cup of coffee (or two or three) to start their day. Many of us are also trying to make a  conscious effort to drink more water. What if you could get your daily caffeine intake (without the stained teeth, bitter aftertaste, and coffee breath) while also working towards your goal of drinking more water?

That’s where Avitae caffeine water comes in. This coffee alternative offers both a quick pick-me-up and a healthy hydration option. Made with purified water and natural caffeine, Avitae caffeine water has
zero calories, zero sugar, and provides a healthier alternative to sugary sodas, teas, energy drinks, or a cup of coffee packed with cream and sugar.

There’s even flavored and carbonated options!

Pick some up at, on Amazon, and in select retailers starting at $20 for a case.

Coffee Shop Gift Card

Writers everywhere use coffee shops as their second office—or sometimes as their primary one!

Give your writer a gift card to their favorite local coffee shop and watch their eyes light up with pure joy. Plus, they’re sure to think of you while sipping their next latte and pounding away at the keyboard.


Time to Relax

sahara rose body oil for writers

Sahara Rose Moisturizing Hand Oil

Writers are hard on their hands—between typing, paper cuts, and cracked knuckles, they could use some pampering. And with the dry winter months, it gets even worse.

Give your writer the gift of healthy hands with a natural hand and body oil that absorbs quickly so they can get back to typing immediately. Made in the USA, Sahara Rose multitasking oil is made with healthy, hydrating oils like prickly pear seed oil and argan oil. Even better, it’s the kind of gift that gives back: the oils are ethically sourced from women-owned cooperatives and a portion of all profits goes to providing education and school supplies for underprivileged girls in Morocco.

Order for $24 and up from

Instant Foot Massage

Long days at the keyboard can be hard on a body. Give your writer the gift of relaxation with the help of YogaToes.

YogaToes are a instant foot massage any time—just wear them under the desk! Quite a few writers swear by this handy gadget, including Michael Chabon. They’re not guaranteed to cure writer’s block, but they’ll at least help your writer loosen up!

Get a set for $36.95 at

storyline soap sampler for writers

Storyline Soaps

Pamper your writer with an unusual type of story—one you can bathe with!

Each soap in the Storyline Soap Sampler tells a story using unique illustrations, essential oil blends, herbs, and botanicals. Just like a blend of the perfect words can create a vivid world, Parousia Soaps believes that a blend of the perfect scents can do that as well.

Who knows, maybe it’ll even inspire your author’s next bestseller!

Pick up the sampler for $15 at

bodyworks ball portable massage tool

Self-Massage Tool

Hunching over a computer can really do a number on your back—and massages and chiropractor visits get expensive.

Get your writer some relief with the BodyworksBall. Originally designed for pro athletes, this lightweight tool lets you give yourself a full-body massage whenever you want, alleviating neck cricks, shoulder knots, and aching backs in no time. It’s even won a Fittie Award, the Oscars of fitness!

Pick one up for $34.99 at

aroma360 focus aromatherapy for writers


Scent has been proven to improve our memories, help us relax, and enhance productivity—all of which are amazing benefits for writers in particular!

Aroma360, a boutique sensory branding company, takes the science behind aromachology and transforms it into scents designed to trigger particular emotions, behaviors and memories, using a patented dry mist technology to retain more of the essential oils’ natural benefits.

Their “Focus Collection” helps you refresh and concentrate, perfect for when you’re racing towards a deadline.

Pair a $25 scent with a $150 diffuser for the perfect way to help your writer meet their goals and feel relaxed while doing it! Shop at and use code Holiday10 for 10% off the seasonal scent collection.

Fun Stuff

write pitch repeat fun shirt for writers

Write. Pitch. Repeat Shirt

Remind your favorite writer how important it is to always be pitching—in between working on the next book, of course!

Gift them a Write. Pitch. Sleep? Repeat. shirt from the fine folks at Publicitees, a design and apparel shop by writers, for writers.

Grab one from for $21 and up.

Spotify Subscription

Riah from Marsden Marketing has yet another great suggestion for writers: “Spotify is a writer’s best friend, but many writers don’t exactly work in an industry that makes big bucks. If you want a big hug from your up-and-coming writer friend who can’t stand all the commercials, buy them a Spotify gift card. Commercial-free music is honestly one of the best gifts there is.”

Pick up a gift card at

Reading Subscription

The most successful writers are also avid readers, because reading broadly and deeply helps us hone our craft and learn what works in the marketplace.

Help your writer keep up their reading with a subscription to GiftLit, a unique, personalized book subscription service that even includes an option for simultaneous charitable giving. This isn’t just a book in the mail, but months of beautifully wrapped, specially curated to match the recipient’s interests and tastes.

There are more than 70 curated collections, or you can choose the books yourself with a custom collection. Subscription options include 3, 6, and 12 months, with a range of prices.

Learn more and sign up at


Unique Indulgences

hidden bookcase room for writers

Hidden Writing Room

Looking for something really amazing for your writer-in-residence?

How about a secret writing room?

Hidden Door Store can send a ready-to-install secret bookcase door system—just like in the movies—right to your home. The bookcase door can take the place of an existing door, turning a boring closet into the writer’s nook of anyone’s dreams. And yes, you can even unlock it by tilting a particular book!

If you’ve got $2,625 to spare, hop over to to order.

portable treehouse for writers

Portable Treehouse

What could be better for a writer than a private book nook/decompression chamber where you can immerse yourself in your work—or that of a favorite author?

The TreePod is an easy to set up portable treehouse that any writer would appreciate. Hang it from a tree, off the porch, or in a corner of the house and let the world drift away. Putting a TreePod up doesn’t require special tools and it doesn’t harm trees—in fact, for every TreePod sold, Trees for the Future will plant a tree.

Get one from for $325.

The Gifts that Keep Giving

Alone Time

Blogger Julia Arnold of Frantic Mama says: “The top of my gift list is always alone time! That could mean something as simple as my husband taking the kids out for a couple of hours so I can have the house to myself, or as extravagant as having a night to myself in a hotel. I always feel refreshed and ready to be creative when I’ve had some time to myself.”

Author Jade Lenier says, “I’m a writer and I think we want what everyone wants: more time. Creative people need mental space to ponder, to research, to reflect. Some practical gifts that can help with this: offering to babysit for free, buying them subscriptions to things like farm shares or boxes of beauty supplies…whatever cuts down time spent on things they’d rather not think about.

“You can go as luxurious as gifting a vacation to as mundane as getting them a gift card to a fluff-and-fold laundry service, but the bottom line is that writers really need the freedom and space to actually write, and gifts like these help to make it happen.”


Award-winning author Stefani Deoul suggests helping your beloved author’s career as the best possible gift now—or any time of year! She says:

  1. Buy the book (as “duh” as that sounds, people seem to think they should get a free copy because they know you).
  2. Buy another copy for a friend.
  3. Review the book—reviews are the lifeline writers need. Every writer who has ever entertained you…whether you know them or not: give them a gift of a review on Amazon, Goodreads, LibraryThing, and anywhere else you can think of. Then put it in a card and “gift it to them.”
  4. Make it a book club pick (if that’s an option for you). Suggest their book to your local book club or ask your local bookstore to carry it. It really makes a difference.


What are you giving your favorite writer this year?

For more resources to help your favorite writer, check out these articles:

A Simple Book Marketing Plan: 3 Great Ways to Drive More Book Sales Mon, 04 Dec 2017 06:03:14 +0000 how to plan book marketing for the year

After your book has been published, there’s a whole range of new questions you’ll be asking yourself. Unfortunately, they probably won’t be questions like “where will I park my new Ferrari?” or “what’s the best island location for my summer home?” …at least not yet!

To enter the realm of the highly paid author-entrepreneur, there’s going to be a lot of legwork to put in before your calendar is brimming with high-dollar guest speaker appearances. Today, I’m going to be sharing some tips on how you can put your 2018 marketing budget to work for you so that we can inch closer to that new Ferrari.

Top 3 Marketing Spends

First, the hard stuff. These are the things that will involve you parting with some money to get your book trending in the right direction.

If you’re unsure of how much money you can or should be earmarking for your marketing budget, this marketing budget calculator is very helpful. Once you have an idea of what you can part with, take a look at the top 3 marketing spends to consider below.

1. Advertising and Promotion

Probably the most significant expenditure you’ll need to budget for once your book is complete is for advertising. But, since our goal is to maximize your exposure and sales while minimizing spending, we’ll want to take a very measured approach to our advertising plan.

Consider KDP Select

For most author-entrepreneurs, Amazon is the most attractive marketplace to sell their book.

If you agree with that statement, then you may want to consider KDP Select. KDP Select is an incentive program where you agree to sell digital copies of your book exclusively on Amazon.

In exchange for this exclusivity, Amazon offers authors a higher royalty rate and some options to promote their book, including a countdown deal, which allows you to offer your book at a deep discount for a short period.

Promote Your Countdown Deal

The greatest countdown deal in the world won’t mean a thing if nobody knows about it. Once your deal is set up, you’ll want to establish a daily digital marketing budget for advertising so you can promote your countdown deal while it’s active.

Unfortunately, there’s no golden rule for where you should spend your ad dollars in this case. You’ll need to experiment with different platforms before you can definitively say which provides you with the most bang for your buck. Google, social media, and mailing lists are all great places to start.

2. Record an Audiobook

Audiobook sales have increased by 148% since the year 2000, and that figure is continuing to trend upwards.

how fast is the audiobook market growinghow fast is the audiobook market growing


Recording your book in an audio format opens your book up to an entirely new customer base.

But, it’s far from free. You’ll need to hire a narrator and an audio engineer at the very least, and there may still be some additional expenses you’ll incur along the way. But considering the direction audiobooks are moving in, it’s well worth the money you’ll spend up front to produce your book in an audio format.

3. Website and Social Media

You’re selling yourself as much as you’re selling your book. So having a high-quality website and an informative and engaging social media presence is of paramount importance.

Thanks to sites like Wix and WordPress, it’s cheaper and easier than ever to create an impressive website—you can do it yourself, use a professional template, or hire a developer depending on your tech savvy and budget.

As for social media, there’s also a vast array of options available to you depending on your budget. If you have the time, you can do it yourself. If you don’t have the time but have a limited budget, look to hire an intern, college student, or freelancer. There’s also the agency route if you have a large enough budget to accommodate a social media marketing agency.

Maximizing Your Marketing

Now that we’ve looked at the top 3 marketing spends, let’s briefly discuss what you can do to supplement your marketing plan for little to no additional money.


A key component that’s often overlooked when it comes to author-entrepreneur marketing is optimization. For most authors, there’s plenty of room to improve the appearance and information that’s available on the marketplaces your book is available, notably Amazon.

Make sure you have a killer, keyword-optimized author section on Amazon. Be sure to include a bio, and as many glowing reviews of your work as you can track down.


Once upon a time, a book tour was a useful tool to maximize your reach and sales as an author. While those days may be behind us for the most part, there are still some effective avenues to consider.

Appearing on podcasts with a similar audience to your work is a great way to increase your exposure as an author. These appearances are also a great way to drive sales, as well. Seek out podcasts that make sense for your brand, and contact as many of them as possible about appearing on an episode.

Plan Ahead

It’s always best to plan ahead when it comes to marketing. The end of the year is a great time to plan your marketing campaigns for the year ahead. Think about:

  • Ongoing marketing: What will you do to get the word out about your work in general?
  • Title-specific marketing: Are you planning to release a book this year? Think about how to prepare to give it the best launch possible. Start early and keep the momentum going strong!
  • Backlist marketing: How can you give an older book a bump during the year?

Once you have a sense of what you’re going to be focusing on in each of these three areas for the coming year, divide your marketing budget up between the areas, then apply the tips above to get the most bang for your buck.

And remember—you don’t have to do this only at the beginning or the end of the year! You can review your marketing and set up new experiments and campaigns at any time.

Just be sure to keep track of what you’re spending, measure the results, and be willing to adjust as needed.

In no time, you’ll be on your way to a solid author income…and maybe even that Ferrari!

About the Author

tim brown marketing expertTim Brown is the owner of The Hook Agency, and is a web designer and SEO specialist based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. You can check out his recent project, The Marketing Budget Calculator, to plan your marketing budget for this next year and take a look at his blog to learn cutting-edge methods to get the most out of your digital marketing budget. Tweet him at @timbdesignmpls





For more great marketing tips, read on!

165: How Traditional Publishing and Agents Work with Evan Marshall Fri, 01 Dec 2017 05:34:22 +0000 how traditional publishing and agents work

Evan Marshall is a literary agent and owner of the Evan Marshall Agency.

He’s also a multi-published novelist and a nonfiction author, and the creator of The Marshall Plan novel writing software.

Evan was born in Massachusetts. His first job was with the Big Five publisher Houghton Mifflin in Boston. Then he moved to New York and worked with Signet Books and a small company called Everest House, which is no longer in business. He also worked for a very famous old company, Dodd Mead, known for publishing Agatha Christie.

After working with these traditional publishers, Evan became a literary agent. He started working for another well-known agent, Sterling Lord.

Evan started his own literary agency in 1987.

What’s Changed in the Publishing Industry over the Last 30 Years

When Evan started in the publishing industry, there were many more publishers than there are today. There were many small independent publishers that were actually considered major industry players, typically based in New York City.

Over time, the small independent publishers engulfed and devoured each other so that now there are just the Big Five traditional publishers.

  • Macmillan
  • Penguin Random House
  • HarperCollins
  • Hachette
  • Simon & Schuster

Most of the publishing companies that existed when Evan started in the business are either now imprints of one of these five publishers or they don’t exist anymore.

What this means for agents and traditionally published authors is that now there are fewer places to sell books. Very often, Evan will submit projects to different imprints within a publishing company, but when he does, he has to tell each of the editors that he’s already submitted to that company, because the individual imprints of the publishing company can’t bid against themselves.

That’s very different than the old days, when Evan could submit to truly separate publishing houses, and get more and higher bids. Publishing is no longer a “gentleman’s business.” There are no more midlist authors.

Midlist books were books that were bigger than so-called category books, but not “top of the list books” as they would say in the industry.

Basically, a midlist book is a book that has the potential to perform solidly in the market, earning a good living for its author, but isn’t going to be a massive bestseller. These were the books authors built their careers on, putting out a reliable stream of books and getting a reliable, if not massive, income in return.

Today there is no room for books like that. A book has to be a solid genre category, or has to be able to go out on its own in a big way.

In the past, there used to be midlist thrillers that had modest sales projections. If the book hit those projections, that was great. In order for a thriller to be successful today, it really has to sell in big numbers or, more than likely, that author will be canceled.

Publishing is a much more hard-nosed business today than it was 30 years ago.

Another example of how the publishing industry has changed is that bookstores very rarely want to do signings anymore, unless you are a big brand-name author.

There used to be signings practically every week at local Barnes & Nobles and Waldenbooks, all the brick-and-mortar bookstores that used to exist. Now, many brick-and-mortar stores say it’s not worth their time to have a book signing unless you’re a big brand-name author, like Oprah.

Some small bookstores will hold signings for local authors, but these events often don’t sell many books.

One positive development in the publishing industry are the new independent publishing companies like TCK Publishing. Small publishing companies like TCK Publishing make it possible for projects that don’t have a home with one of the Big Five traditional publishers to be put out in the marketplace, so they can find readers.

Most editors have to play it safe. They’re looking for reasons to say no. They have to buy something they know will work because they know their jobs are on the line.

Ironically, many times the Big Five publishers will try to swoop in and sign an author who has done well with a smaller publisher like TCK Publishing. And yet, when authors are asked if they want to switch to one of the Big Five publishers the answer is often no.

What Are Traditional Publishers Afraid of?

Basically, traditional publishers are afraid they’re going to buy a book that won’t sell very well, and then people higher up in the company will fire them.

Every editor at one of the Big Five publishing companies has a cost-benefit analysis done of them as part of a regular review process. The publishing companies compare:

  • What the editor bought
  • Whether the projects they bought were profitable
  • How profitable those projects were as compared to the editor’s salary

If the books the editor bought don’t make more money (usually a lot more money) than the editor is paid by the publishing company, very often they are fired.

That’s not to say that new things never come out of New York. But when New York tries something new, it does so in a very safe way. A few years ago, 50 Shades of Grey was an unexpected success, so now all of the big publishers want to publish S&M romance. That was a new development, but it was safe and new because the ground had already been broken.

What Should Writers Do if They Want a Big Book Deal?

One approach to getting a good book deal is to work backwards. You find out what the editors are looking for.

You go to places like Publishers Marketplace or the deals page of Publishers Weekly.

You read book reviews.

You read the New York Times book review.

You go to writing conferences where publishers’ staff appear and explain what they’re looking for.

And if you think you would enjoy writing something in one of those areas, you read their guidelines and give them exactly what they want.

Just remember: You have to look carefully at what they’re already publishing so you don’t give them something too close to what they already have.

If, on the other hand, you’re an author who has an idea that’s a little different and doesn’t fit into what the traditional publishers want, there’s nothing wrong with indie publishing.

Indie publishing used to be called vanity publishing, and it was an embarrassment to most people. Generally, it meant that your work wasn’t any good and you had to pay $5,000 or $10,000 to fill your garage with books that usually just got moldy, that you were never able to sell. Typically, the author just ended up giving them away to friends and family.

Everything is different now. You can have your book on sale as an ebook and a print-on-demand paperback in a matter of weeks. Especially if the book you’re writing is in more of a niche genre or subgenre, it makes perfect sense to indie publish your book. Don’t waste any more time banging your head against the wall trying to sell to gatekeepers who aren’t interested.

If your book does well enough, traditional publishers will come knocking at your door after your book has proven itself.

You Can Get a Book Deal after You Self Publish Your Book

It’s entirely possible to get a publishing deal after you’ve self-published a book. Today, self-publishing your book and getting a bunch of sales is a way to prove to traditional publishers that your book as a product, and you as an author, are a safe bet.

Evan has many clients who got a traditional publishing deal after their book sold many copies in the marketplace as an indie published book.

Evan has also successfully sold indie published books to the Big Five publishers after the book sold many copies online without a traditional publisher backing it. Often, a traditional publisher will rebrand the indie book they bought by giving it a new title and new cover.

But remember—the book has to do really well first.

On the whole, unless a self-published book has sold phenomenally well, agents aren’t going to be interested in taking it on to try and place it.
– Evan Marshall

If an indie book doesn’t sell well, publishers believe the book has “had its life.”

For traditional publishers, an indie published book that’s selling phenomenally well is a book that selling hundreds of thousands of copies per year and continuing to do steady sales.

Usually when an indie author is selling that many books, though, they aren’t interested in a traditional publishing contract. The money you can make as a phenomenally successful indie author is far more than you can make as a traditionally published author under contract who has the same level of success.

There are examples of authors who began as indie published authors, got big advances for their next projects from traditional publishers, didn’t sell as many copies as they did with their indie published books, and now have returned to the indie publishing marketplace where they started.

In general, publishers aren’t going to be interested with an indie published book. If you really want a traditional book deal, it’s better to offer them something fresh.

How to Get a Traditional Book Deal in 2017

The process of getting a traditional agent and book deal begins with a query letter. A query letter is simply a professional business letter. One of the first things that professional business letter would say is if the author querying was referred to Evan by somebody that he knows.

Then it would launch into a description of the book the author is trying to sell. The description would include:

  • The genre
  • The word count
  • Any comparisons between the book being offered for sale and anything out in the marketplace now, or any book that has been out recently (either one or several projects)
  • A brief description of the plot

At the end of the query letter should be a brief list of any credits the author might have. You’ll want to include:

  • Anything you’ve published
  • Any honors you might have
  • Any organizations you might belong to

The initial query letter should really be no longer than one page.

If Evan likes what he sees and the query looks promising, he asks to see the manuscript.

Evan will either read it himself or give it to a trusted reader. If he gets a recommendation from his trusted reader, then he’ll read it himself.

If Evan likes the book and thinks he can sell it, he’ll give the author a call and they’ll have a conversation. In that conversation, Evan will:

  • Tell you who he thinks he can sell your book to
  • Ask you what your career plans are
  • Ask you how many books you think you can write in a year
  • Ask if you want to keep writing the type of book that you submitted to him

His general goal in this conversation is to get a feel for the author that he might be representing.

Evan is really interested in working with people who are in it for the long haul. He likes to help people achieve their goals. Many of his clients have been with him since he started his company 30 years ago. He even has a few authors who were with him before he started his own company.

Evan has had many authors who started their journey with him and went from unpublished to bestseller. Certainly that’s not true of every author, but quite a few have seen great success.

Often, agents and authors have a very close relationship. Sometimes the agent plays the role of manager, and sometimes the agent plays the role of therapist. The agent and author work together to build a career as a team.

Evan has two or three trusted readers who used to work as editors at one of the Big Five traditional publishing houses. They aren’t paid employees, but they are trusted professional acquaintances. They know what he’s looking for. In some cases, they have even bought books from him. The benefit of using former traditional editors as first readers is they know what to look for. They also know when to stop reading.

how to write better fiction

Evan’s Process for Reading a Manuscript

Often, Evan will stop reading a manuscript very quickly. He does that when he sees that the author has no idea how to write point of view.

One viewpoint error you want to avoid when writing fiction is writing in an omniscient viewpoint that jumps from one character’s point of view to another within the same scene.

You also want to avoid writing in what Evan calls “cinematic viewpoint.” That’s when you describe the setting of the scene without actually letting the reader experience it through the viewpoint of any particular character.

Evan also looks for grammatical errors. What he wants to see is smooth, professional fiction writing. If he sees too many errors, he knows this author doesn’t know what he or she is doing, and he won’t spend any more time going over the manuscript.

However, when Evan sees that a person gets the rules of writing professional fiction, he gets very excited and he wants to finish the manuscript because he wants to know what the author has done with the story.

It’s funny how the right way to write fiction is right there in front of us in bookstores, on our own shelves, and yet there’s a disconnect between what we read and enjoy, and what we do when we try to do it ourselves.
– Evan Marshall

Evan thinks that some writers, deep down, just need to do it their own way. And that’s fine! But he is looking for writers who want to write stories the way publishers and readers want to see them. Those are the authors Evan can sell.

Evan can usually tell on the first page of a manuscript if the book isn’t going to be a good fit for him. If he gets to the bottom of the first page and the writing is good, he’ll generally read the first chapter. The goal for Evan is to get to the end of the book without stopping because the book is so good.

Two Steps to Getting a Literary Agent

  1. Write a great query letter that gets the agent to ask for the manuscript.
  2. Write a great manuscript that has the agent reading until the end.

Just as there are great examples of fiction all around us, there are also examples of great query letters all around us.

It’s very important that you make every effort to be professional when presenting yourself to an agent or publisher.

Once you’ve mastered the art of the query letter, you are through the first door. If you have great fiction to back it up, you will find an agent and get a book deal.

What Happens After You Find an Agent

The first thing Evan does after he has signed a new client is go over all the material they have to make sure it’s as strong as it can be. If the author has submitted a full manuscript, Evan will often send the author notes on improving the manuscript. He might ask for some revisions on the manuscript that he thinks would make it stronger. Very rarely does Evan get a perfect manuscript.

The next thing Evan and his new author talk about involves future planned projects, so that when he’s talking to editors at the Big Five publishers, he can talk about his author’s future plans.

Once Evan has everything he needs and a good solid bio of the author, he’s ready to start submitting to publishers.

He submits his authors’ work right away and keeps his authors informed of what he’s doing. He likes to show his authors the correspondence he’s getting from editors about their work, so they can learn from it. After all, in the traditional publishing model, writers are selling to editors.

While Evan is trying to sell a project, he’ll encourage his author to write something new. Selling a book to a traditional publisher can take anywhere from two months to more than a year. The only way to have the best chance of having a successful career as an author is to write multiple books.

You only have unlimited time when writing your first book. Traditional publishers generally want an author to publish a book a year.

Books have to be good, and they have to be written fast. Evan’s most successful authors write top-quality fiction, and they produce it regularly.

When it comes to genre fiction, Evan will often sign his authors to multi-book contracts where the publishing company will lock the author into delivery dates for future fiction.

Authors have to produce regularly and they have to be on time.

What Happens when an Author Doesn’t Meet Their Scheduled Delivery Date

It’s imperative that authors maintain communication with their agent and give them a fair warning—if at all possible, at least a month in advance—that the book won’t be ready.

If you give your agent enough warning and the agent is able to reset the delivery date, and you deliver on that new delivery date, then you aren’t really late.

It’s when the publisher is waiting for a manuscript to fill a publishing slot and the manuscript doesn’t arrive that real trouble ensues. Things take a long time to get published in traditional publishing, but that also means the publishing process is equally stretched out.

If the production process on the book gets going without a manuscript being delivered, and with no warning that the book is delayed, it’s a black mark against the author and they’ll never work with that publisher again.

Everyone is human, and life circumstances can cause delays. Publishers and agents are very understanding as long as the lines of communication stay open.

Sometimes a big-name author is late. That puts the agent and editor in a real bind because they don’t want to lose the author. With big-name authors, all the sales channels are ready to go. Big plans are being built around some of these bestselling series with loyal fan bases.

One thing you have to realize as an author is that you’re part of a much bigger plan.

how to take competition constructively

Write Your Second Book while You’re Still Trying to Sell Your First

The benefit of writing your second book while you’re still trying to sell your first is that you’re focused on the day-to-day work of writing. You want to avoid focusing on the process of selling your first book. Selling your book is not a result you can control.

The other big mistake authors make is focusing on the results other authors are getting. So much information is public knowledge now. Sales figures are public knowledge, and often advances are public knowledge.

What you have to realize is that we are all on our own track. Focus only on the results you can directly control. That is the surest way to success.

You’re only competing with yourself. That’s the healthiest way to look at it. Otherwise you’re just going to become bitter.
– Evan Marshall


Links and Resources Mentioned in This Interview

The Marshall Plan novel writing software – one place to find what publishers are looking for.

Publishers Weekly Deal Page – another place to look and see what’s selling in the traditional publishing marketplace today.

The Evan Marshall Agency – Evan’s agency website.

Evan Marshall is a literary agent and owner of the Evan Marshall Agency. He’s also a multi-published novelist and a nonfiction author, and the creator of The Marshall Plan novel writing software. Evan was born in Massachusetts. Evan Marshall is a literary agent and owner of the Evan Marshall Agency. He’s also a multi-published novelist and a nonfiction author, and the creator of The Marshall Plan novel writing software. Evan was born in Massachusetts. His first job was with the Big Five publisher Houghton Mifflin in Boston. Then he moved to New […] TCK Publishing clean 25:53
Writing Quiz: Are You a Plotter or a Pantser? Wed, 29 Nov 2017 06:33:14 +0000 writing style quiz are you a plotter or a pantser

If you read 100 different guides to writing, you’ll get 100 different theories as to the “right” way to write a book.

It can be confusing and frustrating, since all you want out of those guides is advice from a pro about how to change from being somebody with an idea for a book to somebody with a finished book.

Thing is, there’s no wrong way to write a book.

It’s a matter of personality, of your relationship with your muse, of how the story inside you is trying to claw its way out.

None of those guides are wrong, despite saying different things. Each was right—for the writer who wrote it.

They key is figuring out which kind of writer you are, and then following the advice of the writers who are most like you.

So, are you a pantser or a plotter?

Plotters and Pantsers: How to Identify Your Writing Personality

You may have heard these terms before: plotter and pantser. Sometimes called outliner vs. pantser. But I like alliteration, so we’ll stick with “plotter” for today. These are two labels often applied to two widely different methods of writing a book.

A plotter starts writing with the major pieces and parts of the story already known. He plans out the action, plot, character elements, and all the rest ahead of time. When he starts the actual writing, he’s turning that strong outline into elegant prose…but the framework is already solidly in place.

A pantser starts at the beginning and lets the characters and situation determine what happens next. She might have some general idea of where the story is going to end, but how she’ll get from A to B is up to what she discovers as she writes.

Both are legitimate ways to write a book. Plotting takes more work up front, and sometimes loses some color from lack of spontaneity. Pantsing can have more powerful characters because they’re given more autonomy, but runs a serious risk of writing thousands of words that don’t make the final draft, or of writing yourself into a corner.

The choice boils down to which you’re more comfortable with as your fingers hit the keyboard.

The Plotting ←→ Pantsing Spectrum

Another important point: nobody is 100% a plotter or 100% a pantser. The most buttoned-down, anal retentive plotter in the business will still abandon a scene or ending if he has a sudden and brilliant inspiration. The most open and flowing pantser still begins a tale with some goals about theme and setting, and a handful of characters in mind.

So. We know that you’re neither a 100% plotter or a 100% pantser. But where do you fall on the spectrum in between?

writing personality quiz

Plotter or Pantser Quiz

Chances are you already have a general idea of where you fall on this spectrum, but it’s nice to confirm where you stand.

  1. Do your characters surprise you with what they do?
  2. When you travel, is your itinerary already figured out?
  3. Do you have trouble finding in your notes details about the world in your story?
  4. Are you generally organized in your non-writing life?
  5. Do you enjoy being lost?
  6. Do you go through your “to read” pile in order?
  7. Do you sometimes have trouble figuring out what to cook for dinner?
  8. Is your library alphabetized?
  9. Is emotion more important than structure?
  10. Do you often know the purpose of each chapter before you write it?
  11. Does your dialogue often make you laugh out loud?
  12. Do you spend more time outlining a book than writing the first three chapters?
  13. Are you capable of doing real work on your novel without your notes handy?
  14. Have you ever created a wiki or other resource file for your novel?
  15. Do you dislike outlining?
  16. Is “plan your work, then work your plan” a mantra you sometimes repeat?
  17. Are you more creative than you are disciplined?
  18. Do you know your characters’ backstories before you write them?
  19. Is dealing with continuity errors a major part of your revision process?
  20. Is engineering your story as important as other elements?

Give yourself one point for each even-numbered question you answered with a “yes.” Subtract one point for each odd-numbered question you answered with a “yes.” Give yourself zero points for anything where you had to think a while, or the answer is truthfully “well….uh…sometimes” or “I’m not sure.”

Quiz Results:

16 to 20

You are a born plotter. Your plots are laid out before you type the first word of chapter one, even to the point of knowing who says what in which conversation. It’s possible that you color-code your notes. Your plots and pacing are top-notch, though sometimes your dialogue seems flat or your character actions forced. Continuity is flawless. You can grow by learning to recognize when a great inspiration is more important than your finely tuned plot.

8 to 15

You favor plotting, but you are open to spontaneity from time to time. You go to work with a strong outline, but let the points between your bullets take care of themselves. Plot and continuity are still strong, though still clearly more important to you than character autonomy and dialogue. Sometimes your pacing falls flat. You can grow by identifying which parts of the pantsing approach you do best, and building those skills up.

-7 to 7

Sometimes you plot. Sometimes you pants. It depends on the needs of the story, the characters, the pacing, or the details of your workday. This can give you the best of both worlds, since you are able to apply equal effort to all aspects of the writing craft. Occasionally, you end up trying to write a scene in one way which you really should have written another. Grow by adding some analysis of whether plotting or pantsing is most appropriate to a specific session of writing, and coming to that session prepared.

-15 to -8

You are a pantser. Mostly. You prefer to let the characters do the thinking, and to let inspiration rule the plot. But that doesn’t mean you’re out there without a net. You have a general idea of the lynchpin moments in your story, and you built your characters to help make those linchpins happen. Continuity is your biggest boogeyman, since you have just enough outline in place to be confident when you probably shouldn’t be as sure. Grow by biting the bullet and adopting tools for tracking the most important elements of your tale.

-20 to -16

You love being surprised by what your characters do and say, and how the plot twists sometimes surprise you. This infuses your writing with more realistic personalities and a level of excitement and discovery. You do lose time and words to literary dead ends, and need two beta readers specifically for continuity. Grow by keeping a writing notebook where you jot down the basics so you can keep track of fundamental pieces of your story and your world.

Final Word

Remember earlier when I said there was no wrong way to write a book? Actually, there is one.

The only way to write a book wrong is to try to write it using methods that don’t work for you.

That’s a one-way trip to frustration (and ultimately to giving up on your book before it’s finished). Avoid that. Instead, figure out where you fall on the plotting vs. pantsing spectrum, then identify the writers and writing methods that work best for you.

After that, it’s just a matter of following the path other writers have already cut out of the woods for you.


Want to grow as a writer? Check out these articles for ideas:


Blogging for Authors: 5 Tricks for Successful Blogging Results Tue, 28 Nov 2017 05:43:42 +0000 5 expert tips for successful blogging

Why should a professional writer care about blogging?

The first and most important reason to blog is marketing.

Starting a blog can be an important part of your social media campaign for book marketing.

This doesn’t mean that you’ll only blog for the sake of marketing—it’s not very effective to have a “blog” that only consists of posts asking people to buy your book. If you want your promotional efforts to be successful, you have to write valuable content consistently.

You’ll write posts on various topics related to your niche and the interests of your audience.

Why You Should Start a Blog

Blogging also makes you a better writer.

How? You’re developing a closer connection with your audience. When you’re working on a book, you’re the writer and they are the readers.

In contrast, blogging is interactive. Your followers tell you what to write about. They give you immediate feedback through comments and likes, and you take their preferences into consideration when developing your next post or topic.

Basically, through a process of engagement and continuous improvement, you’re developing a blog your unique readers would like to read.

Once you get to know their preferences in this way, it will be easy to translate that approach to your “real” writing practice and your books or stories.

Blogging is part of the personal branding process, too. If you write good posts and promote them well, you’ll attract a loyal audience. They will recognize your name. They will know your style. They will be ready to buy your book when it comes out.

You can even turn your blog into an eBook!

It’s clear: any writer can benefit from blogging.

You might be wondering: how?

How do you start a blog and make it successful? How do you attract a great deal of visitors who might be interested in your books?

why authors should start a blog

Successful Blogging Results: What Does That Mean?

Before we go any further, let’s clarify an important concept: what do successful blogging results mean for a writer?

This will mean something different to everyone. For instance, if you were a fashion blogger, successful results would mean getting sponsorships as an influencer.

For you, as an author, successful results might mean a few things:

  • Personal branding
  • Attracting more readers
  • Selling more books
  • Becoming an influencer in your niche

When you start blogging, those are the results you will focus on. You won’t write random posts on random topics at a random time. You will take a planned approach that will move you to achieving definite results. In this post, we’ll tell you how to do just that!

5 Tips for Successful Blogging

While it’s easy to start a blog, it’s hard to start a successful blog that attracts, engages, and retains readers.

But there are some key strategies that can help you here! Let’s look at 5 of them:

1. Invest in Quality Design and User Experience

Blogging can be done for free.

However, when you’re trying to use your blog to make yourself better known as a writer, you have to treat it as a business.

Did you know that 61% of consumers have bought a product or service based on a blog post they read? Blogs sell, but not all of them. Only a professional-looking site that provides an outstanding user experience will have that effect. To achieve that goal, you need to invest.

If you use a free WordPress theme to build your blog, you’re at a big risk: it will look like many other blogs your audience has already seen. That doesn’t contribute to personal branding. Your blog has to be unique!

To start with, you might invest in a premium WordPress theme. If you don’t know how to handle the design and customization yourself, it’s smart to hire a professional web designer to do that for you. The designer will create a blog with all the right features and style for your specific needs.

In addition to finances, you’ll make another type of investment: time. More on that in the tip that follows.

2. You Need Both Quantity and Quality

Many blogging guides will tell you that quantity doesn’t matter much. It’s the quality posts that your readers are after. Others will tell you it’s important to post as much content as possible. If you don’t know what to post today, just write a brief 250-word post to keep your audience engaged.

The truth? It’s somewhere in the middle.

Quality is important! Your blog posts should never be fluff. They have to be relevant to the niche you choose, as well as to the interests of your target audience. Share tips on how to choose the best book for a specific period in life. Share top lists of your favorite books. Provide content of value for your audience. You should prompt them to do something as soon as they read an article.

As for the quantity, that’s also very important. Sure, a single post per month can be popular, too. However, it won’t help you build a personal brand.

Create a list of topics you’re confident about and plan to write at least one post per week. If you can’t keep up with that schedule, you can hire professional writers from Essay Geeks to help you publish more high-quality content on a regular basis. You can also invite guest bloggers to contribute with their content.

3. Write Clearly

Clarity is the key to success when it comes to blogging. You know how you create tension in your books by keeping your readers in the dark and then surprising them with the outcome? That approach works wonderfully  in storytelling.

In blogging, however, you need to take a different angle. The readers should understand what the post is from the headline itself. The intro should make things even clearer. You’ll grab their attention with an intriguing start, but you have to clarify what value they will get if they continue reading.

The organization of the entire post is also important. Create sections with subheadings, as well as numbered lists. They keep the eye and mind of the reader focused.

Don’t provide an overwhelming volume of information in a single piece of content. If a certain topic turns out to be too extensive, you can use it to write a series of posts.

4. Pay Attention to the Visuals

Each and every one of your posts should have a relevant and visually appealing image attached. Articles that feature images get 94% more total views than the ones that don’t.

When you share your posts on Facebook, it will be look better with a cool image. If you include pinnable visuals, your readers will get you more traffic through Pinterest.

You can find great free stock photos through platforms like Unsplash and Pexels. If you want to get really unique with the visual aspect of your blog, get your camera and start taking your own photos. Or, you can hire a professional photographer to do that for you.

As we said, successful blogging is worthy of an investment – it’ll pay off in terms of successful engagement, readership, and potential book sales.

5. Get Some SEO Skills

Search engine optimization (SEO) is your ultimate promotional weapon. You should not obsess over including too many keywords in your posts. That will make them spammy. However, a relevant keyword here and there will bring you more traffic through Google.

SEO is not hard to learn, but it’s not as simple as it sounds. Where do you find relevant keywords? Which ones do you target? You’ll need some training on this. You can take a free online course to learn the basics of SEO and start optimizing your blog for success. To get started, check out our guide to metadescriptions and try using some of the tips on your next blog post


Are you ready to start blogging?

You’re a writer. You were born ready!

Remember: blogging is a long-term activity that demands commitment. However, it can make you a more popular and successful writer.

It’s well worth the effort!


About the Author

online marketing expert Chris RichardsonChris Richardson is a journalist, editor, and a blogger. He loves to write, learn new things, and meet new outgoing people. Chris is also fond of traveling, sports, and playing the guitar. Follow him on Google+.




For more on growing your audience and platform, read on: