April 12

Offline Marketing Tips To Boost Your Book Sales

offline ways to sell books
Remember the good old days before the internet made everything so gosh-darned easy? Remember driving around with boxes of books in the back of your car, hawking to bookstores and selling at festivals and pretty much pounding the pavement to drum up ALL your sales? No? Well, to be fair, neither do I since I began my writing career online, but I have a point to make, so let me get there. When marketing your book, it’s easy to forget that there’s a whole world that exists offline. Online marketing can be the easiest, but you shouldn’t limit yourself to just marketing online. Get out into the ‘real world’ with these offline marketing tips to sell more books.

When marketing your book, it’s easy to forget that there’s a whole world that exists offline. Online marketing can be the easiest, but you shouldn’t limit yourself to just marketing online. I know several authors who really get out into the community and get engaged with people about their books. Rebecca Patrick-Howard is AH-MAZING at this. So is Tonya Kappes. Both write in extremely different genres, but both know how to make the most of their offline market. Get out into the ‘real world’ with these offline tips to sell more books.

Trust me when I say that it takes more than just ebooks and online marketing to really sell books and grow a fanbase. It also takes a little stepping out into the real world in order to spread the word about your books.

Give stuff away

The best way to get people to read your book is to get it into their hands, so if you have your book in paperback form, buy several copies to give away to potential readers. Give them away to people who are likely to leave you a review on Amazon or Goodreads, and don’t forget to ask if they want their copy signed by the author.

If your book is a children’s book, gift a copy to your local school, your public library, or one of your local daycare centers. Be sure to include information on where parents, teachers, and caregivers can get additional copies. You may want to inquire about doing a ‘free’ reading for one of these places in exchange for allowing the children to take home order forms for your book.

If your book is non-fiction, see if you can find a group or business that deals with the niche you have written about. Look for events that relate to the subject matter of your book and see if you can get involved in some way.

Print up business cards or bookmarks featuring your book. Give these out wherever you go, when appropriate. Make sure your contact information and information on how to order the book is printed on the cards and bookmarks. Whether you just have an ebook or both print and digital copies, get your book’s info into people’s hands and in front of their eyes offline to see more sales online.

Get involved

Ask your library and local bookstores if you can do a free reading or give a presentation about getting your book published. As a local author with experience, you’ll be a welcome authority for many creative writing groups and other people in the community who want to learn how to get their own books published.

Show potential readers why they should buy your books. Let them know you’re not all about “buy my book”, that you actually give a hoot about the community you live in. Get involved in community events like festivals and fairs. Set up a booth so you can sell your books and sign autographs. You may find yourself becoming a local celebrity if you do it often enough.

A word of warning: If you don’t actually care about your community/charity/other great thing and you are in this just to make money, stop reading this and sod off. You’re in it for the wrong reasons, and that never equates to great success.

Always carry copies of your book with you

Even if you never planned on selling print books, have some made up via Createspace. It’s free to set it up, you can grab copies cheaply when you buy directly through CS, and it looks great to have a copy of your book lying around. Besides, some people (like my mom, my aunt, and my friend, children’s book author Elle Alexander) still hate ebooks. Those people (I’m talking to you, Elle!) are diehard hardcopy book fanatics, and they will never, ever read your book.

Here’s one more tip that’s great if you want an instant conversation starter or just a reminder of why you’re writing your books.  Save a copy of your book’s cover to your cell phone, then set it as your wallpaper/screensaver. I change mine whenever I release a new book. If I get tired of looking at the same cover, it’s a great reminder that it’s time to release the next book!

ebook as wallpaper

(Here’s mine…that’s one of my pen name books, and my fat writer’s fingers!)

You never know when you’ll be able to spark up a conversation about your book. Be proud of being a published author; it’s not easy writing an entire book and learning how to format it for print. Be ready to answer questions about your book and the process you used to get it finished. You never know who you’ll run into throughout your day to day life. You might be surprised to find that there are lots of people out there ‘in the real world’ that would love to know more about you and your books, they just have to know where to find them.

What are your personal favorite ways to market your books offline? Please share with the rest of the class in the comments section down below!

September 26

Pen Names, Pet Peeves and Publishing

wrong way my way right wayI’ve been toying with the idea of doing a blog post about pen names for a while, but, to be honest, there’s not much I can say that hasn’t already been said somewhere else about them. I will say that, when I was trying to make myself feel better about using one for my cozy mysteries, I discovered that some people hate them vehemently, while others assume that writers who use them have something to hide. I’d like to set the record straight on why I use them, and start a whole ‘nother debate about one of my other pet peeves, indie authors who argue amongst themselves.

I never set out to write books, at least, not at first. When I wrote my first non-fiction book about saving money by ditching cable television, I sold a handful of copies and thought I was hot stuff for writing a book that was probably 10,000 words long, if that. I used my real name, or at least my initials and real surname, because I was convinced that I was on my way to building a career as an internet marketer.

Later, I used my real name, no initials, on my children’s books, but linked to all the non-fiction books as well on my Amazon author page. I didn’t even consider things like Googling my name to make sure that nothing embarrassing came up when I typed it in, but lo and behold, I later saw some topless model with the same name as me, and I just hoped that if my children’s books became a hit, no one would confuse the two of us. (Though, to be fair, I’d kill for her figure, lol!)

When I decided to try my hand at writing grownup fiction books, I knew I wanted a different image and name for my books, so I set about choosing a pen name. My pen name, Ruby Blaylock, is my mother’s maiden name, and Ruby was just a name I liked that sounded sweet and southern. My grandmother’s name was Shelby, and Ruby always reminded me of that, so that’s how I landed on that particular moniker.

I know some people want absolutely everything they write to be under their one, true name, but I plan on crossing several genres, and to me, that wouldn’t be good business. I mean, would you trust a children’s book author who also wrote steamy romance or gruesome horror stories? Well, you might, you cheeky thing, but others might not. To me, some instances just call for a pen name, but I can’t fathom why some people get so wound up about NOT using a pen name.

I’ve heard authors say things like, “It’s more trouble than it’s worth,” and “it’s cheating or lying to the readers.” Um, hello…it’s not. For many authors, writing isn’t our only day job, and if bosses or coworkers were to find out about our writing habits, we might be called out or even lose jobs because of it. (For the record, I don’t have another job. I also have very little money, but that’s neither here nor there, lol!)

It just annoys me when indie authors bicker among themselves about best practices, like “you’re not a real author if you’re using a pen name.” And it irks me to no end when indie authors try to undercut each other, complaining about the way they do things.

I have had several other writers comment to me that they don’t feel ebooks are “real” books. They are so mired in the myth of traditional publishing, even though they self-publish, that they convince themselves that ebooks are just not worth it. Let me tell you, they most certainly are.

While it’s probably the dream of every indie author to see their books gracing the shelves of places like Barnes & Noble, the reality is, unless you are really good and really lucky, it’s hard to get noticed by these big bookstores if you are an indie author. For those of us just starting out in our journey, writing and publishing ebooks offers us a chance to grow and hone our writing skills in front of a “live” audience, improving with every book that we write.

I do offer my books in paperback, because I’m a sucker for a physical book, but the majority of my sales (and many other indie authors’ sales) are in ebook format these days. Ebooks are great for so many reasons, but I’d never stand up and say people are foolish if they choose to publish only physical books as an independent author.

I’ve begun to realize that this post is a bit of a long rant, so I’ll wind it up. I just wanted to remind you, my fellow authors, that we need to stick together. We’re all in this together, this storytelling lark. And we should be helping and encouraging each other, not bickering like my kids over whether cats or dogs are better pets. (And while we’re at it, we should stop bickering about things like which religion, sex, race or social system is better, but that’s a whole ‘nother set of pet peeves for another post, lol!)

So, whether you publish paperbacks or ebooks, use a pen name or lay it all out for the world to see, I invite you to comment and share your own links to your work in the comments section below. Let’s support each other and slowly make the world a better place, one word at a time.

September 13

Rising Ebook Prices Make Independent Publishing More Attractive Than Ever

ebooks getting expensive

I was reading an article the other day that discussed a major deal that some traditional publishing houses had worked out with Amazon, which basically allows them to charge more money for their ebooks. At first glance, I was like, “hey, that sucks! I don’t want to pay more for my favorite authors’ books!” But then, I stepped back and looked at it from the angle of all the independent, self-published authors out there (of which I’m one, but I always seem to see things as a reader first), and I was like “Whoa…this could be good for us indies!” Here’s why, although it was a bit of a douchey move on the part of the big publishers, it was a great move for both Amazon and us self-published authors.

Their greed is good (for us)

When the big boys of publishing get greedy and try to charge the same price for their ebooks as their physical books, customers balk. We consumers of digital literature are not stupid. We know we can get ebooks at a dime a dozen, or less. Does that mean we won’t still rush out and buy the latest Stephen King or J.K. Rowling novel? Nope, but it does mean we’ll choose our formats more wisely. I’d happily fork over $15 for a paperback from my fave author, but for one of their ebooks? Nope.

As an informed consumer, I know my options. I’m lucky because I have an iPad with the Overdrive, Kindle and iBooks apps on them, which basically means that I really never have to pay for ebooks ever again, if I’m so inclined. Let me clarify, I’m not encouraging you NOT to buy ebooks, especially from independently published authors. But, I’m telling you that if your budget is limited, you still have options.

I’m currently reading The Shining by Stephen King on the Overdrive app, thanks to my local library’s digital lending policy. The app is free, the library lends me the ebook for free, and the publisher (and author) still get paid for the rights that the library pays for. It’s win for everyone, just like borrowing a physical book from a library is a win for everyone, too.

Picture this: It’s late at night and you want, NO, you NEED a good book to read. You can’t just run to the bookstore or library, and your library doesn’t have a digital lending service. So, you head on over to Amazon, and realize that you are flat broke because you ordered ten new books last week and already blew through them all. (If this is you, I’m hella jealous, because in my house, I barely have time to sleep, let alone read that many books!)

If you aren’t a Kindle Unlimited subscriber, and you haven’t joined Amazon Prime, you can still whet your reading appetite without spending a penny, thanks to independent authors.

Why we give it away

If you think we give our books away for free because nobody wants to buy them, think again. Self-publishing can be very lucrative. Like, six figures lucrative. Or more. But in order to reach that level of success, it takes more than just putting out a handful of very good books and waiting for the money to roll in.

Indie authors have to hustle to make the public aware that their books even exist. We spend hours every day, promoting and planning ways to get our books in front of you, so you can enjoy them and so that people will buy them. When we give away books for free, it’s an incentive to get more people to download the book, which in turn boosts rankings on Amazon, which puts our books in front of more eyes. The theory (which is really not a theory, since it’s been tried and proven) is that once people try your free book, they’ll come back and buy the others. But here’s the really cool (for you) part: our books tend to be waaaay less expensive than the books published by traditional publishing houses.

So, even if you buy your books from us, rather than getting them for free, you still save money and are introduced to an entire new range of authors that you might not ever have seen before.

Basically, if you are a reader and you buy books from independently published authors, you are saving money and getting great books while helping people like me earn a living.

And, if you are an author who self-publishes, you can feel smug that fewer people are buying ebooks from the big publishers, because they are going to be looking for less expensive books to download.

Do you buy ebooks from indie authors because they’re cheaper? Or, are you an indie author trying to sell more ebooks? I’d love to hear your thoughts and strategies in the comments section below!

August 17

How Authors Can Use Periscope To Sell More Books

periscope for authors

Are you on Periscope yet?

Periscope is Twitter’s real time video broadcasting app. It might not seem like the obvious choice for authors at first glance, but look closer. There are actually lots of ways for an author to grow their audience on the platform. Here is why I love Periscope as a platform for writers who want to grow their audience and sell more books.

Get up close and personal with your readers

If you are trying to connect with your readers via social media, Twitter has been the closest thing to real-time connections up until now. They ask questions, you Tweet back, and then you carry on trying to keep up with the questions in your Twitter feed. It can get confusing since only the reply gets shown in each Tweet, and you can easily miss comments. 

Periscope lets your viewers focus solely on you. They can ask questions in the form of comments, and you can answer them back in real time, almost face to face. It helps your readers to form a connection to you that will encourage them to buy more books and remain faithful fans.

Interact with more people in less time

If you love to do book tours, but don’t have the time or money to travel from city to city, do a virtual book tour from the comfort of your own home. Periscope lets you reach anyone, anywhere, and at any time, so you can share your books at your leisure.

Periscope keeps the videos on the app for 24 hours and then deletes them, but you can save them to your phone and upload them to your website, so your fans can view them later when it’s convenient for them.

Do exclusive readings for your fans

Periscope lets you make public or private broadcasts, so you can choose to broadcast only to your followers, if you like. This allows you to do special readings or question and answer sessions just for your followers and no one else. If you have fans that aren’t following you on Periscope, you can plan a reading, announce it on your other social media platforms, and encourage fans to follow you on Periscope for full access.

Share your writing life with the world

Being an author can be a lonely profession, but thanks to Periscope, you can share your writing life with your fans and they can send you messages about your work. Periscope uses the hashtag #WhereIWrite to allow famous authors to let their followers get a glimpse of their personal writing spaces via video.

It’s not just famous authors who can use the hashtag; independent authors and unknowns can become a part of the larger community of writers using the platform, and grow their own audiences as well. Gain exposure and new fans by showcasing your home, office or favorite writing spot.

For authors, the possibilities are endless when using Periscope to build a brand or loyal following. Whether you write fiction or nonfiction, Periscope could be one of the most powerful tools in your marketing toolbox.

Follow me on Twitter & Periscope! @Jesswoodsusa

I plan on using the platform myself to help gain exposure for my books, how will you use it?

August 6

3 Ways To Write A Book With (Almost) No Effort

3 ways to write a book with almost no effortThose of you who know me well know that I am a firm believer that there are no shortcuts to success. You have to put in the effort to reap the rewards, and writing a book is sometimes challenging, but never impossible. If you have always wanted to write a book, but thought it was too hard to do, here are three ridiculously simple ways to write a book that really eliminate all the excuses you could ever think of for not writing one. You’re welcome.

Use your blog posts

If you are a blogger and you’ve been blogging for any length of time, you probably have plenty of thousands of words worth of blog posts sitting on your blog. If they all share a common theme and are reasonably interesting and well-written, you can compile them all into an ebook. Don’t just copy and paste them, though. Take the time to add information as needed to make the posts flow like a real book, and not just a copy of your blog.

Write a few unique pieces and put those in your book, too. This will entice loyal readers to buy the book, since it has information not listed on your blog.

Use PLR to write a book

If you’re like me, you probably have a huge collection of PLR sitting on your computer, waiting to be used for something glorious. Providing the PLR is good quality, you can use it to make an ebook to sell. This is good if you want to write a non-fiction book, but there are some things you need to be aware of.

Don’t just copy and paste all your PLR into an ebook. That’s lazy, and Amazon won’t like it because it looks like you just plagiarized the crap out of somebody else. Instead, “freshen up” the PLR with your own personality, taking out bits that you don’t really need and adding in your own personal details and touches.

Again, add in extra information wherever you can. You really want to provide your readers with great information, and if you have a good personality, let it shine through. Add insights and observations, and before you know it, you’ll have a full-grown book baby on your hands.

Write it in little bites

Okay, so you have an amazing idea for the best novel in the whole wide world, but there’s no way you can sit down and write it all out. Oh, yes, there is. As I love to tell my kids, you can eat an elephant, as long as you do it one bite at a time.

Can you commit a measly ten minutes every day to writing your book? I’m sure you can. Stay off of Facebook for a little bit, turn off the television, and settle down with your writing implement of choice. Commit yourself to writing for just ten minutes, and write your little heart out.

The key to making this method truly easy is planning ahead, but you can include this in your ten minute chunks. On your first ten minute session, write a very brief, very general synopsis of your basic story. Then, spend a few sessions writing a more detailed outline of what will happen in the story. Get as detailed as you want, because the more detailed, the easier it will be to write your actual book.

I personally keep a notebook with me so I can jot down plot ideas throughout the day, but you might find using index cards just as easy, especially if you aren’t sure what order these plot points are going to fall. In every ten minute session, write a little chunk of your story. Once you have enough chunks, you can piece them together to build your actual book.

One method I like, but haven’t used personally, is the index card method. This really does help you simplify your plot points and put them in a visual order so you can imagine how your final story will come together.

One other mention

I know some people will say “Aha! She forgot to talk about using a ghostwriter!” No, I didn’t forget. Look at the title of this post again. It’s about how to write a book, not how to have one created for you.

I have nothing against using ghostwriters. I am a ghostwriter, so I definitely know how helpful it can be to have someone step in and help you craft your book. But, this post is aimed at those who want to write their own books, so although I mention using a ghostwriter, I think that most of you will feel more fulfilled if you write your book yourself.

So there you have it. Three more reasons why you should go write that book. Let me know when you’ve finished it. Heck, leave a comment below with a link to your book once you’ve gotten it published! And tell me what method you used to write your book, so other people can see how easy it really can be.

July 14

Self-publishing Vs. Traditional Publishing: What's Right For You?

self publishing vs traditional

Recently, I’ve found myself chatting to several different people about the pros and cons of self-publishing. Having only ever self-published, and having not been “massively” successful thus far, I really have a limited personal view of the argument. For some genres, like children’s picture books, self-publishing is pretty much an act of love, whereas other genres can actually lead to far better returns for an author than traditional publishing.

Here’s what I have found to be true about self-publishing vs. traditional publishing,  so you can decide for yourself if one is better than the other for you, or even if a combination approach is the best way to get your book into the hands of ravenous readers.

Self-publishing

If you have a book in your hands, ready to be published, you may be afraid to send it off to an agent or publisher in case it gets rejected, which, sadly, many books do. Again, and again, and again… The publishing industry likes for authors to be highly marketable. Your work has to rock hard, and you need to ideally have some sort of fan-base in place to prove that people actually like what you’ve written.

Because publishers are less likely to take a risk on an unknown quantity, you could face years of rejection, even if you are a really awesome writer with a solid best-seller on your hands. It’s just the way it is, but it doesn’t have to stop you from getting published.

Self-publishing is easy. In fact, some would argue that it’s too easy, because a glance at Amazon will show a glut of really crappy books by authors who throw up a few thousand words and a cheesy cover and call themselves authors. (Raises hand guiltily about the cheesy covers, but I stand by my short nonfiction, thank-you-very-much!) Do these less-than stellar books turn a profit? Some do. Many fail, while some aren’t really put up to turn a profit at all, but to help establish the author as an authority figure in their niche.

Self-publishing has made it possible for unknown authors to earn a very good living without the need for an agent or a publisher stepping in and taking most of the profits, and if you publish primarily in ebook form, your overhead is practically non-existent, meaning everything you earn in 100% profit.  Sounds good, doesn’t it?

So, if you, Joe Schmoe, want to publish your own book, it has every chance of being just as successful as a traditionally published book, but only if there are certain things in place to make that happen. Here’s the bit that many self-pubbers don’t want to hear. Unlike in traditional publishing, where you typically have a team of marketers, advertisers and other support team members in place to help push your book baby out into the big, wide world, self-publishing is just you. That’s it.

You have to learn how to market your books, price them competitively, promote them to the right people in the right places, and interact with your readers to establish a relationship that will help sell your books and build your “brand.”

Traditional publishing

What’s that you say? You are an artist, not a salesman? How can you possibly be expected to learn the dirty details of how to sell your darling books when you’re obviously the creative type, not the business type? Umm, after you get your head out of your own arse, please be advised that although traditional publishing may be the route for you, you’ll still need to learn some things about promoting your work. Authors are expected to do some work for sales, even if it’s less effort than going it alone.

If you long to be the next JK Rowling, staring lovingly at your books in all the bookstore window displays, traditional publishing can be a good way to make that happen. However, it’s not the only way. Self-published authors can still have their books distributed through major bookstores, but it takes (surprise, surprise) a little more effort.

To start with traditional publishing, you’ll need to find an agent willing to take you on. Depending on your book’s genre, you may be able to send in an unsolicited manuscript, even via email, and you might just get lucky enough to land an agent quickly. From there, your agent will deal with trying to get you accepted by a publishing house.

Both self-publishing and traditional publishing

Don’t freak out if you still haven’t figured out what you want to do. I mean, on one hand, you may have to learn a ton of new things, and your book still may not sell all that well, but you’ll have full control over the results. And, on the other hand, you could spend years waiting for a publisher to take on your book, and still earn far less than you realize.

There is a third alternative, and one that I have seen result in some really great results. Using a combination of both methods, or self-publishing first to build an audience, then use your newly-built platform to engage an agent and publisher, can be a very lucrative option for some authors. Who would have thought that John Grisham couldn’t get published at first? Not me, but it’s true. He self-published first, but kept trying with traditional publishers until one accepted him.

Whichever of the three methods you choose, there are some things you can do to help boost your chances of your book being a success. I’ll talk about these in a later post, in detail, but just know that regardless of how you’re published, you need to know how to get your book seen by the right audience, and you need to be your own biggest supporter.

How are you choosing to publish your next book? Please let me know in the comments below!

July 4

Lack of Information About Children's Paperback Book Marketing and Sales

roast potato potty potatoes books

So, this post took a while to get to the site. This is because I have been researching, studying, pulling my hair out and otherwise living the life of a self-published children’s book author these past few weeks. For those of you that don’t know, I am the author of the Potty Potatoes series of books for children. I didn’t plan on being a children’s picture book author (I can’t draw even a recognizable stick figure), but was approached by the creator and illustrator, Steve Scatcherd, a few years ago to write the books and help him bring the characters to life.

Now, let me be clear. I love writing these books. They are fun, my kids adore them, and it helps me feed my passion to inspire kids to read. BUT…it can be immensely frustrating at the same time, because for indie authors of kids’ picture books, it’s a constant struggle for sales and attention. There’s just not a lot of money in indie picture books; you do it because you are passionate about it, or you sell no copies at all.

My illustrator and the characters’ creator doesn’t come from a background in self-publishing, and while I know marginally more than he does, I still don’t know everything. (He thinks we should be the next Mr. Men by now…maybe we should, but I’m afraid that’s not how it works!)

While we’re learning how to best market and produce these books, I thought that it made good sense for me to document some of the things that we’re doing with them. See, one of the problems I have found during my research is that although there is a lot of great advice for self-published children’s book marketing, there’s a gap in the info that pertains specifically to picture books.

Children’s picture paperback book marketing

Ebooks are so popular that most advice is geared towards promoting them, whereas picture books tend to be more popular as a physical book. Think about it. Would you want your toddler’s favorite book to be only accessible via your iPhone or tablet? Probably not.

Traditionally published picture books tend to have a glut of marketing professionals behind them, but indie authors of these types of books have to wing it. And, many self-published authors have grown accustomed to strictly promoting a digital product that people don’t necessarily have to see and hold before they buy it. That doesn’t really work for children’s picture books that don’t have an established reputation and following.

So, I’ll be doing some posts about our marketing methods and strategies, plus I’ll let you know how we do with sales. So far, to be honest, it’s been pretty dismal. But, we’ve recently added three titles to our collection, and we now have five in total. I’m optimistic that we’ll see success, though probably not as quickly or as phenomenally as my partner would like, lol!

Are you a self-published children’s picture book writer? I’d love to hear your comments and tips. I think we’re one group of authors that needs to pull together more to help get these great indie picture books into the little hands that will love them!

June 24

Funding Fiction: Three Ways To Pay the Bills While Waiting for Book Sales

writer at typewriter

Wouldn’t it be awesome if you could just contact an independent publishing platform, tell them your amazing idea for your book, then accept a big, fat advance for your efforts, so you could spend your days doing nothing but writing your book? Wake up, dreamer, that doesn’t even happen to traditionally published authors anymore.  The truth is, it’s hard to break into self-publishing if you can’t work at it full time, because when you self-pub, you also have to do all your own promotion, sort out your covers, find an editor, format the book…I could go on and on.

This article is talking mostly to self-employed writers, because those of you with full-time jobs are probably making enough money to pay the bills and writing in your spare time, which is completely smart and a good idea, but if you’re like me, with no other consistent source of income, you’ll need to keep the bill collectors away somehow while you pen that bestseller. Here are three ways you can earn money to pay your bills while you’re focusing on fiction, or non-fiction, book writing and selling.

Freelancing

Okay, you knew I was going to open with this, didn’t ya? In my personal experience, freelance writing is nearly perfect for keeping the wolf from the door while you write your book. It allows you to practice, practice, practice while you earn, and it’s totally flexible, especially if you find some really great clients who understand the difference between high quality content and mass produced garbage.

If you’re new to freelancing, you might struggle to find your feet, but then again, you might not. Who knows. But I do know that if you put yourself out there, check the freelancing job boards regularly, and value yourself, you’ll be able to earn enough to get by while you create your masterpiece.

Get a job

Ooh, didn’t see this one coming, did you? Before you throw your hands dramatically up in the air and declare me a hack, just listen. Could a 20-hour-a-week job pay your basic bills so you could focus the rest of your time on your writing? Now, if I didn’t freelance, this option wouldn’t work for me, because I have three kids and a husband who works crazy hours to help keep a roof over our heads.

If I did seek a J-O-B, it would be online, maybe as a virtual assistant or possibly a transcriptionist, if I could teach myself to type and listen at the same time. There are actually a crap-load of online, work from home jobs with reputable companies that are hiring every day.  Customer service jobs from home can be a very lucrative way to finance your fiction, and your customers could provide plenty of material for your book.

Crowdfunding

This is becoming more acceptable as a way to finance your literary ventures, but it’s really not all that dissimilar to the old days of patronage. People support your venture (your book) by paying a few dollars or more into a crowdfunding campaign so you can focus on writing instead of worrying about paying your bills. Beware, this really only works if you know a LOT of people who are willing to fund you, or you are charismatic enough to convince complete strangers to support your venture.

It seems to help if you can offer some sort of reward to your donors, like a copy of your book once it’s finished, or tickets to the Superbowl. Check out Kickstarter for a lot of really good examples of how it’s done.

Now you have no excuse not to write, so get out there and write that book!

June 10

10 Reasons You Should Just Go Write That Book

10 reasons you should go write that book

I know  I write a lot about freelancing and content creation for websites, but there’s another passion of mine that surpasses even those fascinating pasttimes. I write books, and dammit, I love what I do. Do I make gobs of money from them? No, not yet. But, in my defense, I’m still learning. I didn’t let my lack of knowledge about things like marketing and self publishing get in the way of me actually writing the books, and neither should you.

Here are 10 reasons you should just go write that book. Right now.

1. You suck at writing. No, this is NOT an insult. If you are a beginner writer, and sometimes if you are a long-time writer, you are going to suck at writing. The only way to get better is to practice, and what better way to practice than to write a book and learn from the experience.

*If you want to read a great motivational book about overcoming your fear of writing, go read this.  This guy is awesome, and nails this “authorphobia” thing perfectly.

2. You aren’t getting any younger. Tomorrow is not a given, and you may never have a chance to get your story down if you don’t start now.

3. Who’s going to remember you when you’re dead? Wouldn’t it be awesome to leave behind something real and tangible, even a digital book, after you’re gone?

4. You might actually be good at it. Even if you’re not great, you could be good enough to have people actually want to read your stuff. Then, you might be good enough to earn money from your writing,  maybe even enough to do something awesome.

5. When people ask what you do, you can tell them, “I’m a writer.” Even if you’re a writer by night and a dentist by day, or anything else by day, you can still say you’re a writer if you actually write stuff.

6. You can kill people. Not in real life, of course, but if you really hate someone, make them into a character in your book and kill the hell out of them. Heck, turn them into a zombie so you can kill them twice. It’s better than paying for therapy or spending time in prison.

7. Everyone has a story, and you can help them tell it. Maybe you don’t want to write your story, but you want to write about someone amazing you know, or a character that has been inside your head for years. Stories are important, they can change people’s lives, make the world a better place, and teach people stuff. Do this by writing a book!

8. You need an outlet for your creativity. Maybe you’re the weirdest person you know, but you can’t really let your freak flag fly because people at the office would really be nervous around all that awesomeness. Whatever. Go write that book, let your freaky imagination run wild, release the creative pressure, so you don’t explode in a midlife crisis of glitter, gin and go-go dancing.

9. You can change the world. Your book could be the one thing that changes someone’s life, the one thing that stops them from doing something awful, or feeling so alone, or being such a jerk. Words. Make. A. Difference. Use yours wisely.

10. You don’t have to be perfect, or even interesting, to write a book. Look at all the perfectly boring non-fiction books out there that people read because they need the information inside of them. Look at all the poorly written books that still get great reviews because they struck a chord with someone on some level. Perfection is overrated. Just go write that book.

If you’re feeling at all inspired, my pal Trinity Ford, aka Tiffany Lambert, is doing a 30 day newbie fiction challenge starting from TODAY. We’ll be picking an idea, writing a short book, and publishing it, all in one month. Join in, I dare you, because you might just unleash something awesome. And, if nothing else, you’ll go write that book.

May 31

Before They Were Famous: What Some Famous Authors Did Before Hitting It Big

before they were famous

Sometimes, I get really frustrated, because I haven’t had huge amounts of success with this writing thing. Granted, I’ve only really been at it for three years, and most of that time, I’d say, was spent learning rather than earning. But, I’m human, and impatient, and constantly looking for inspiration to keep me going.

On the days when I’m juggling a puking toddler, a forgot-to-pay-a-bill notice, and the realization that I have to carve out time to buy groceries, finish up client work, and cook dinner before I can even look at my fiction, I turn to Google to help keep me going. Always curious, I often ask myself if writers like Neil Gaiman or J.K. Rowling ever had to deal with these things before they struck it big, and the answer is, yes and no.

Most writers (gasp) weren’t born successful. They had to work hard, put in their time at a crappy job they hated, and pay their dues before finding success. Here are a few of my favorites, and the things they did prior to becoming the awesome authors we know and love today.

J.K. Rowling

The “Harry Potter” author is well-known for being a poor single mum on benefits when she drafted her iconic novel in Edinburgh cafes while her baby napped, but she was oh-so-much like the rest of us in many other ways, too. She started life being teased for her last name, went on to study courses her parents wanted her to, rather than those she really wanted to study, and held a job as a teacher before finding success as an author.

Rowling also had a failed marriage, lost her mother to a terrible illness, and worked for Amnesty International before ever putting pen to paper. These all undoubtedly helped shape her writing and the lovely person that she has become.

Stephen King

Horror writer Stephen King may have been born to be a writer, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t pay his dues with other jobs. He worked in a laundry while penning some of his earlier stories, and was a teacher long before his name was known in households around the world.

King’s success can be attributed to his dedication to the craft of writing; he simply never stops. In fact, in his early career, his pseudonym, Richard Bachman, was created because King felt it was too unusual for an author to release several books a year, so he created the alter-ego to split the publishing.

Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman always knew he wanted to be an author. He wasn’t put off by his initial rejections because he was convinced that he had the talent, just not the “know-how” of how the publishing world worked. He has admitted that he wasn’t as great as the thought he was when he first started, but I’d like to point out that his faith in himself is one of the most important reasons why he did succeed. He simply did not believe he could fail.

Neil did work as a journalist and freelance writer to earn a living before getting published. He worked on learning all he could about the publishing process and honed his craft, great advice for every writer!

Nicholas Sparks

Admittedly, I’ve never read one of Sparks’ books, but he’s big-time famous round here in SC, so I thought I’d see just how he found success. I was surprised to find that this romance, feel-good writer had more than his share of tragedy and stress before finding success with books like “The Notebook.”

His first two books were never published. He wrote them while he worked at jobs such as a real estate appraiser, food service, and pharmaceutical sales.

His mother died in a tragic accident before his first book was ever published. His sister would later die of cancer, and his father died before Sparks began his first book became the smash-hit that it is today.

Still, despite all the bad stuff going on in his personal life, Sparks persevered, with his wife and kids standing firmly behind him. It just goes to show that if you have a great support network in place, and you never give up, you can succeed.

James Patterson

Want to know how America’s most prolific writer got so successful? He just kept writing, and used his knowledge gained by working in marketing to make his works widely known.

Controversial for his extensive use of ghostwriters, Patterson has learned the art of delegation can help turn creative ideas into actual books. He has sometimes given credit to his ghostwriters on the covers of his books, and he has always been open about giving back to his fans by promoting childhood reading.

Like him or loathe him, Patterson shows us all that if you ask for help, use all the resources at your disposal, and give back to your fans, you just can’t fail.

Patricia Cornwell

Cornwell’s most famous novels feature medical examiner Kay Scarpetta. The gritty thrillers have a LOT of information about forensics and medicine in them, primarily because the author is familiar with these subjects from her job in the office of the Chief Medical Examiner of Virginia.

Cornwell also wrote articles for her local newspaper, covering crime stories in the area. Her books reflect her knowledge, making them believable and easy to read. It just goes to show you that if you write what you know, people will find it much more palatable.

The next time you’re juggling your full-time career or family with your writing, remember, we’ve all got to start somewhere. Don’t give up, keep on writing, and who knows…you could end up on a list like this some day!