I remember the day the display disappeared from my bookshelf.
For two years a paperback copy of my first novel had been sitting on a wire book easel, greeting visitors to my office.
This was my literary baby. It had been a source of quiet pride and contentment for so long.
But by the time that day arrived, this little exhibit had turned into a constant reminder of my apparent failure.
If you’re a fiction writer, you and I might have different definitions for how we measure success. These range from simply selling a steady trickle of books to becoming a big-name author.
I’ve never met anyone, though, who feels fulfilled by occasional spikes in sales followed by long periods of “Sell One Every Now & Then Syndrome.”
Unfortunately, this is the all-too-common reality for thousands of novelists in today’s highly crowded book market.
It’s also precisely what I went through with my first novel. As someone who’s been there, I can assure you...
I believe virtually all authors understand that book covers are incredibly important. They’re the first aspect of your book that any potential purchaser looks at. If the cover doesn’t do its job, it’s also likely to be the LAST thing many shoppers will see before they move on to investigate another book.
I understood this when I was working on my first novel, so I took steps to create what I hoped would be a strong cover.
The first thing I did was arrange to work with a professional graphic illustrator. We chatted about a number of ideas and settled on depicting one of the most dramatic moments in the novel. In that scene, a young man is tied to a chair and roughly interrogated to get him to reveal information he doesn’t possess.
I thought it might be fun and effective to give the book a look and feel similar to an old-style pulp fiction novel.
We also investigated colors and fonts appropriate for the cover of an action-filled thriller.
I was pleased with the...
Do the characters in your novels swear?
From the conversations I've had with numerous novelists, it seems there are two sides to the debate as to whether the answer should be yes or no.
“My characters use strong language,” one author might say, “simply because that’s how people really talk. I want my dialog to be as realistic as possible.”
Another might argue, “Well I don’t swear in real life. I find such language offensive and I don’t want it in my books.”
And here’s the thing about this kind of issue – even though they disagree, both of those authors are absolutely right!
So how should you decide whether to include profanity in your books?
Let’s look at the question from a few different viewpoints.
First there’s the business angle. Will your book sales be affected one way or the other depending on whether you decide to use profanity?
It's clear that some people don’t care if the books they read are laced...
Oh man, can I ever relate to this author.
He reached out and told me why he gave up on the idea of writing and publishing novels.
I can empathize because a number of years ago I went through almost exactly the same experience he describes.
In this video I explain how this unfortunate scenario is all too common for so many authors ... and why it doesn't have to happen to you!
Do you want to know how to turn your sporadic book sales into reliable, predictable monthly income?
If so, then it's important to understand the difference between "book promotion" and "book marketing."
Different activities you can undertake.
Different outcomes you are trying to achieve.
Most of the activity I see online focuses entirely on one to the exclusion of the other.
And the result is that most authors are leaving money on the table when it comes to their book sales!
This video discusses how to avoid this problem.
Here's a chance to help your fellow fiction writers!
In this video I discuss three fabulous "How To Write Fiction" books that have made me a much better writer.
And for one of the books, I offer a cautionary tale!
How about you? I bet you've run across some wonderful how-to guides that other novelists would find helpful. Please share in the comments :) Let's collectively create a list of great "How to Write Fiction" books - a helpful resource for all of us!
"The Snowball Book Launch" is a brand-new, hot-off-the-presses business book by Ray Brehm.
If you're an entrepreneur, this is an awesome resource to help you launch books so they can become a massively effective way to help promote your business.
And if you publish fiction or other genres, you can incorporate plenty of the ideas into your own book launches as well!
Check out the video for the reasons why...
Okay, so this is likely to be an emotional topic for some of you.
After all, I know many people who grew up during the years when children's bookshelves (and movie theaters, for that matter) were dominated by the anticipation of when the next installment in the Harry Potter series was due to be released.
You know what I'm talking about -- HUGE levels of fan insanity.
And yet there are always doubters and cynics.
The other day I was skimming through an online discussion forum when I came across this question: Is J.K. Rowling a Good Writer?
The responses reflect a variety of opinions, including one person who describes the books as having "...lots of visualizations and descriptive language to paint a vivid picture, but the writing itself lacks substance."
This got me thinking about how I would answer the question, and more to the point, what does it mean for any of us to be a "good" writer? Do you sometimes wonder whether YOUR books are "good enough?"
Here are some thoughts...
Every individual book purchase involves a decision whether or not to buy.
As authors, it's critical that we understand the psychology involved with this process so we can position ourselves and our books for sales success.
For instance, from the reader's point of view, what is the true cost of purchasing and consuming your book? (Hint: It's more than simply the book's price...)
And what affects their perception of your book's value?
Watch as I walk through these and other related issues with the participants at a recent Book Marketers Lab live workshop.
I had big dreams when I was working on my first novel.
My entrepreneurial spirit was on fire with the idea of producing an amazing book and then obtaining a sizeable advance from a publisher.
Many authors have told me they have essentially the same thought process -- complete the manuscript, try for a publishing deal, see what happens.
But does it still make sense for authors to dream big in today's publishing industry? After all, what percentage of first-time authors end up landing that coveted publishing deal?
Well, I actually believe that it DOES make sense for writers like you to have lofty, ambitious goals -- AND to have an actionable & achievable plan to back them up.
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