Tag Archives: self-publishing

7 Ways To Deal With That Dreaded Bad Review

By Pam Humphrey

In my pre-mom days when I worked as a programmer and tech support at a small company, I shared an office with one other girl.

After an unusually frustrating customer had berated her as she tried to help them over the phone, she hung up near tears. I’ll never forget what she said. “I’m from Oklahoma. I need people to like me.”

She hadn’t caused the customer’s problem. She solved the issue quickly and with kindness. She’d done her best, but he was still rude.

Writers, those that care deeply about the structure and quality of what they write, pour over pages time and again checking for filter words, dropping hints of a theme, arranging story flow, and checking for plot holes. They don’t stop there. They hand their precious words to beta readers who read it and offer advice, point out lulls or areas of confusion, and give encouragement that the story is worth the time.

Over and over. Revise, read, repeat.

At the end of the process, after beta readers, editors, formatters, and cover designers have all done their part, a book is published, sent out into the world to be read.

With all of that hard work, everyone will surely love it. Right? Not so much. Inevitably, someone won’t like it.

7 Ways To Deal With That Dreaded Bad Review

Here are seven things you can do when you get that inevitable bad review.

(You can proceed in any order, but the first is usually first. Skip whichever steps you don’t find necessary, except the last. You CANNOT skip the last step.)

  • Sob. Okay maybe sobbing is a little much, but allow yourself that moment of disappointment. For some that will involve tears, others shout French phrases typically avoided around young children, and some might require a Mexican Coke or an entire chocolate bar.
If you’re trying to please everyone, then you’re not going to make anything that is honestly yours, I don’t think, in the long run.”
Viggo Mortensen

No one likes to see that average rating number drop, but it will.

Don’t focus on that number. It is not a measure of your value as a writer. This step is NOT permission for long-term wallowing or putting away your pen. Set a timer, shed your tears, and go on to the next bullet point.

  • Phone a friend. I don’t expect you to actually call someone. I really mean message a writing buddy. Get encouragement. You can talk about your WIP, the fantastic new sentence that popped into your head while you slept, or the dreaded bad review. If your writing buddy has read your book, they can offer perspective. Pro Tip: Cultivate those writing buddy relationships before you need them.

I’m not sure I can stress this point enough. You need support from other writers.

Interacting—commenting on threads, attending Facebook chats and Twitter chats—and beta reading is a good way to connect and build relationships.

  • Reread the bad review. You know you will anyway. It’s best if you wait until you’ve calmed down to make the most of this step. Instead of reading the bad review as a personal attack, scan it for any hint of helpful critique. If a lack of editing or gross errors is noted in the review, you have actionable advice about how to improve.

Not all reviews will have a helpful critique. Reviews, after all, are an opinion of the reader. Reviews like: “This was a total waste of my time.” “This was soooo not my thing.” “Ugh. I just couldn’t.” aren’t helpful to you. Rereading them won’t improve your writing. After you gleaned any useful information, stop reading that review. (This is difficult. I know. Ask me how many times I’ve reread that bad review.)

“You’re never going to please everyone, and if you do, there’s something wrong.”

– Constance Wu

  • Reread your positive reviews. Instead of only reading the bad, make a point to look at the good. If you have nine good reviews and one bad review, maintain perspective.

This is where a close friend or significant other can bring balance to your feelings. When you express disappointment about that bad review and they act surprised, it’s because they think most of your good reviews. You should, too. But, you will not be liked by everyone, even if you are from Oklahoma.

  • Get some context. Has the reviewer only given one five star rating out of all 93,001 books she’s starred on Goodreads? Does she prefer romance, but you wrote horror? Does she prefer dark and twisted, but yours was heart-warming?

Are you left scratching your head as to why she picked up your book at all? Did she rate your favorite book of all time with one star? Tastes in books differ.

  • Get more perspective. Think of your personal top ten list. Have you ever read reviews of those books? Or other well-loved, ageless classics? Go read the bad reviews. All books get bad reviews, eventually.
  • Write. And write. Write some more. Grab your pen or open your laptop and write that next book, or blog post, or poem. Don’t let a bad review gnaw at your self-confidence, hindering your writing. Write, edit, and when you think of that review, put your head down and continue to write. Someone will love what you create. There will always be at least one that won’t.

At the end of the day, the bad reviews bring authenticity to the good and great reviews. Nothing is as good as the infomercials claim. Your job as a writer is to give it your best. Take advantage of opportunities in the writing group, like buddy Tuesday, to find beta readers. Listen to constructive advice from other authors willing to help you. Use helpful critique gleaned from reviews to make the next book or story even better.

“You can’t please everyone, and you can’t make everyone like you.”

– Katie Couric

Now, please, set a timer and write. Someone is waiting to read what you write, and you may not even know them, yet.

(Quotes sourced from Brainyquote.com)

Pamela Humphrey is the author of Researching Ramirez: On the Trail of the Jesus Ramirez Family, a family history of her great great grandfather’s family, and The Blue Rebozo, a fictional account of her great grand aunt’s life. Her latest book, Finding Claire, is a mix of mystery, genealogy, and romance. She is currently writing the next book in the Hill Country Secrets series. She is a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom who enjoys many creative outlets: sewing, paper-crafting, jewelry-making, practicing her bass guitar, reading, and conversing with imaginary characters (what most call writing). She lives in San Antonio, Texas, with her husband, sons, black cats, and leopard gecko. Check out Pamela’s website at http://www.phreypress.com 

Follow her on Twitter http://www.twitter.com/phreypress  Facebook http://www.facebook.com/phreypress Interested in her books? They’re available on Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/Pamela-Humphrey/e/B018D5UKLWFinding Claire is also available from other eBook retailers. https://www.books2read.com/u/bP1LLY

How Book Marketing is Like Flirting, Dating, and Getting Engaged

By Rebecca Waters

You’ve written a book. You may have a publisher or agent. You may have decided to publish the book yourself. Whatever path you take, there are marketing decisions you will make that will help or hinder book sales.

This post examines stuff not in your book. It is a look at the cover: the front and back of your book. It describes marketing in terms of what people see when they pick up the book or scroll through a pile of possible reads on Amazon or Goodreads. This is often your first contact with readers outside your mom and a close circle of friends.

How Marketing is Like Flirting, Dating and Getting Engaged by Rebecca Waters

Marketing is like flirting

Your smile catches the eye of that certain someone. Remember? In the same way, the book cover and title catches the eye of the reader.
–Rebecca Waters

Let’s start with the front cover. You have a say in your book cover. Take a look at best-selling books in your genre. What elements do they have in common? What do you like about the covers? Once you have researched your genre, sketch out a few ideas. You need not be an artist to capture your thoughts. Do the best you can and label the parts. Your publisher will run a few ideas by you, but it’s good to have researched your genre and considered a few ideas yourself.

If you are indie publishing, make sure your cover is a high-resolution image. You can hire a graphic artist or use an online tool such as Canva to create your book cover. I used a high-resolution photo and a free template on Canva to create the cover for the Marketing You and Your Writing 101.

Make sure the picture on the front matches the content. Check the lettering against the background color and image. You don’t want the title to get “lost in the clouds” or be hidden in the trees. Be sure to try the title out on the image you’ve selected before publishing. For my first novel, the publisher sent me the cover photos separate from the title. I was disappointed when I realized the title didn’t stand out on the print version of my book.

The title is another way to catch the interest of potential readers. Although traditional publishers have the right to change the title of your book, careful research of the title you propose will help you land on a successful name for your book.

There are trends in titles. For instance, a few years ago it was popular to include numbers. We see trends from time-to-time in one-word titles. Again, look to your genre to see what sells. And, of course, make sure your title connects with your content. Examine your book carefully for phrases or themes you may weave into the name of the book. Good marketing means being aware of what other products are doing too. 

Marketing is like dating

Dating is that time in a relationship when you get to know the other person. It is that period of time when you make a decision about whether or not to continue seeing one another. You want your reader to want you…okay, you want them to want your book… but it still is a relationship you want to foster. If you were successful in the flirting stage, your potential reader has turned the book over or in the case of Amazon, started reading the book blurb to see if they want to pursue this relationship. Marketing is much like this. 

Draft a compelling book blurb. If you have written a nonfiction work, tell how your book differs from other books. If you write fiction, give enough of the story to grab the reader’s attention. Draw on the premise statement you used for your book proposal. Read the blurbs of popular authors in your genre. You will get a feel for how much info you need to include.

Remember that “boring” date? He or she was yammering on and on about something you would have preferred to learn on your own? You don’t want to make that mistake. Keep your book blurb short and intriguing. This is the book description. Save talking about yourself for the author bio or in the case of Amazon, the Author Page.

Want more tips? Check out Rebecca’s newest book, Designing A Business Plan for Writers.

This leads us to another facet of the dating stage –getting to know the object of your affection. Make sure your “about the author” paragraph is an accurate portrayal of you without all the details of your life. Make it fun and interesting. Include your credentials if you are writing nonfiction. Offer other writing successes for both fiction and nonfiction works. Your potential reader likes to know enough about your past to see if you might be a good match. And while we’re at it, look closely at the bio you offer on other platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram. While they don’t need to be exactly the same in form, the information should be consistent and send out the same vibe. We simply don’t like dating someone with multiple personalities!

The headshot. Make sure you have a professional headshot for the back cover of your book. You’ll use this same picture for your author page on Amazon and for your social media accounts.

“DO NOT USE A SELFIE.”–Rebecca Waters

If you can’t find a good deal for a professional photo with all digital rights, at the very least have a friend with a good camera take several pictures of you and see if you can use one of those. Crop out the tree coming out of your head and the man standing in the background making faces.

I have a friend who uses a picture of him standing by the Ganges River. His wife took the photo. It’s a good shot. Moreover, because his book is about his work with various indigenous people groups of India, it gives the book credibility.

One other word of advice: Make sure your headshot is current. Don’t try to fool those readers and followers you are still that young brunette if indeed you had that picture made ten years ago.

Once, I was invited to a panel of writers at a library celebration in Kentucky. I was pretty excited since there were several well-known authors on the panel with me. I couldn’t wait for one of my favorite writers to arrive. Imagine my surprise when I realized the gray-headed woman at the next table was the woman I had followed and read for years. She had to be seventy-years-old. The picture on her books and blog were taken at least thirty years ago.

“Portraying yourself as you were in an old photo is not like taking off your make-up with that special someone around. It’s more like removing a mask.”
— Rebecca Waters

Marketing is like getting engaged

This is it –that dream come true moment. A guy gives a girl a diamond ring. Your reader gives you a sale. And if you deliver what you promised, it could be a relationship that lasts forever.

Rebecca Williams WatersRebecca Waters’ freelance work has resulted in articles for Chicken Soup for the Soul, the Lookout Magazine, The Christian Communicator, Church Libraries, and Home Health Aide Digest. Prior to publishing her first novel, Breathing on Her Own, Rebecca was a college professor and speaker on the Ohio Writing Project circuit. Author of Breathing on Her Own (2014) Snag the bookLearn more! Visit my site & Read my blog  Let’s connect! Follow me on Twitter & Like me on Facebook.

Why This Self-Published Author Loves Traditional Publishing

by Jane Steen, 10 Minute Novelist, self-published author

I self-published my first novel in 2012, and since then I’ve published two more full-length novels and a short story.

Despite the attitude of some writers (and, alas, some readers) that self-publishing is a second-best solution, I couldn’t be happier.

I love the flexibility and freedom to write what I like. I relish my control over my rights and decision-making. I love getting my income monthly. In short, I’m the happy sort of self-publisher who’s not the least bit interested in getting a traditional publishing deal or being represented by an agent. I have self-published and I’m glad I did. 

Why This Self-Published Author Loves Traditional Publishing by Jane Steen

And yet, I’m still a big fan of the traditional publishing industry. Here’s why:

– I think many writers need the traditional framework. Being a career indie involves so much more than just perfecting your writing skills. Yes, you have to be a good writer—and you have to be passionately interested in the process of producing a quality book in various formats, climb the learning curve of marketing, be ready to learn about rights and legal issues, and think like a small business owner. If one of those skill sets is lacking and you can’t afford to hire top tier professionals to do the job for you, sooner or later your career is going to stall or fail. I believe that’s why so many successful self-published authors end up in the traditional environment. And you can’t ignore the desire for the feeling of validation being picked up by an agent or publisher brings. It’s not something I happen to worry about, but I totally understand it in other writers. I want writers to thrive in whatever way works for them.

– The legacy. Traditional publishing gave us nearly all my favorite authors and largely shaped today’s book world. The industry established best practices and standards that are still useful for indies. Its deep pockets and tight hold on the hearts and minds of many influencers may irritate some indies, but to me that framework is a valuable asset. Savvy self-publishers are in this for the long haul, and are willing to use all the footholds the traditional industry is unwittingly providing to further their career. We may feel sometimes that we’re on the outside looking in, but we need to remember that for most readers, authors are authors. All we need is good writing skills, high standards, and patience (and maybe a tiny bit of luck).

– Bookstores! There are many reasons why bricks-and-mortar bookstore sales don’t really work for self-publishers, and I can live quite happily without seeing my books in the window of Barnes & Noble. But as a reader, I just love visiting bookstores, and try to buy at least some of my books in the real world. Bookstores, if done properly, sustain and encourage a culture of reading, and what author can object to that?

– Libraries! Like bookstores, libraries are part of an ecosystem that’s closely tied into traditional publishing. It’s true that librarians are probably a little more aware than bookstore owners of the value of self-publishing as part of that ecosystem, and some libraries are even becoming publishing centers themselves. But like bookstores, they’re part of a reading culture that we should be encouraging and sustaining. We need people to be readers.

“Savvy self-publishers are in this for the long haul, and are willing to use all the footholds the traditional industry is unwittingly providing to further their career.”  — Jane Steen, 10 Minute Novelist

– Agents, editors, and other bookish people. Most of them are passionate advocates for good writing, and I love them for that. Quite a few of them now work with and for the better self-publishers, and there’s no reason why those relationships shouldn’t continue to develop and deepen over time. Which doesn’t mean I’m saying agents and editors should be supporting self-publishers as some kind of literary duty. Like all businesspeople, agents and editors should and do pursue their own business interests. But their love of good writing and good book business must inevitably draw them closer to the better indies over time.

– Marketing dollars. Big publishing has lots of those, and it spends them on advertising books. When people read books, they generally want to read more books, and sometimes those books are written by indies. As long as large publishers are still able to get people excited about reading as opposed to watching TV or playing video games, they’re doing all self-publishers a favor. And a portion of those marketing dollars goes into bookstores in the form of co-op arrangements, and I want bookstores to thrive, as explained above (even if I’m not at all sure that co-op arrangements are ethical—but they’re a longstanding practice that’s unlikely to disappear).

Hybrid authors. Traditional publishing is a good training ground for authors who have self-published either as a way to supplement their income, or because they’ve realized that the indie model will work better for them. The only reason I’d be tempted to accept a traditional contract would be to learn that side of the industry from the inside, and work with editors and other professionals I might not be able to afford as a self-publisher. Given the right circumstances, that just might be worth paying for—and I would consider the loss of my rights and potential income a payment. Hybrid authors also have a perspective and a level of knowledge that those of us who’ve never tried for a trad contract can and should learn from. 

So I honestly don’t care if the traditional publishing industry isn’t welcoming us indies with open arms.

Like all indies, I would like to see a more accepting book world, but I accept that change is going to happen very slowly. In the meanwhile, I’m going to enjoy all that the traditional industry has to offer me, and I rejoice at every positive item of publishing news.

O traditional publishing industry, may you live forever.

Historical Romance Author Jane Steen
Historical Romance Author Jane Steen

Jane Steen was born in England and, despite having spent more years out of the British Isles than in, still has a British accent according to just about every American she meets.
Around the edges of her professional occupations and raising children, she stuck her nose in a book at every available opportunity and at one time seemed on course to become the proverbial eternal student. Common sense prevailed, though, and eventually she had the bright idea of putting her passion for books together with her love of business and writing to become a self-published author.
Jane has lived in three countries and is currently to be found in East Sussex, UK. Her book, House of Closed Doors can be found here. 

Top 10 Questions To Ask Yourself About Your Author Ethics (With Taylor Swift & Zombie References!)

Writers today have dreams of instant success and fame!

And because the idea of easy publishing is so tempting, we rush into it with  no idea what we should do to promote ourselves.

Often our goal is just to gain any advantage we can in an increasingly competitive market. We may feel “creativity” in marketing trumps courteous behavior. We may suggest trading reviews with another author, not realizing this behavior could weaken our credibility. We may be so distracted by the elusive promise of financial success that we neglect to nurture our art. Or we may attach our pursuit of fame so tightly to our own identities that we can’t tolerate criticism in public forums.

We may champion “truth” in the words that we write, through gritty characters and accurate descriptions, yet cover up our own discrepancies, create false identities or fabricate falsehoods to gain advantage in this industry.

But we may be pursuing fame and fortune at the cost of ethics.

Ask yourself the following 10 questions and test and see how ethical you are as an author.

 Top 10 Questions To Ask Yourself About Your Author Ethics

1. Have you ever used the words “best-selling” to describe your own books, when what you mean is that of all the books stored in your closet, Your Guide To Amish Zombie Princesses, really has generated the most sales?

2. Have you claimed that you sold thousands of copies, when really you sold 556 and you just rounded up?

You have? Then you may not be an ethical author. This is why: Ethical authors do not promote books by making false statements about them. Ethical authors do not lie about position on bestseller lists or consent to anyone else promoting them in a misleading manner.

3. Have you ever made up an endorsement for the back of the book, like say, “Taylor Swift called, ‘Your Guide To  Amish Zombie Princesses’ the inspiration for her next album, coming out in 2016″? When the closest you got to Taylor Swift was when you accidentally changed your Pandora station from Muzak to ubiquitous pop tunes?

You have? Then you may not be an ethical author. This is why: If you engage in any practices that have the effect of misleading your readers/buyers of my books, then you’re behaving unprofessionally.

Badge, Ethical Author, ALLi
This is the badge for ALLi’s Ethical Author campaign. Feel free to put it on your blog if you want to remind yourself and others about good author ethics.

4.  Have you ever been so upset over a negative review about your book online, that you called your mother and asked her to change it?

You have? Then you may not be an ethical author. This is why: Ethical authors should never react to any book review by harassing the reviewer or getting someone else to harass the reviewer. Ethical authors would never intrude on a reviewer’s privacy or condone a personal attack. If you do, you’re not just unprofessional, you’re also creepy.

5. Have you ever gone online under a pseudonym, say, Mary Jane Smith, and posed as a raving fan of Your Guide To Fighting Off Amish Zombie Princesses, just so you could boost sales and generate buzz and possibly get the attention of Taylor Swift?

You have? Then you may not be an ethical author. This is why: Ethical authors should never hide behind an alias to boost sales or damage sales of another person. They should also not hide behind aliases to hurt another’s reputation. Pen names should be used for good, not evil. If you do this, you’re not just unprofessional, you’re also a coward.

6. Have you ever attacked other authors in the Amish Zombie Princess genre, just so that your book will look better? That’s impressive if you have because there are, thousands, you know?

 You have? Then you may not be an ethical author. This is why: If you do not behave with courtesy toward readers, other authors, reviewers and industry professionals, then you are making us all look bad. If you air grievances or complaints in the press or online, then you’re behaving unprofessionally, possibly immaturely and come off as a whiner. Just don’t.

No matter what happens in life, be good to people. Being good to people is a wonderful legacy to leave behind. – Taylor Swift

7. Do you approach other authors privately, making deals to reciprocate positive reviews so that you look better? Do you ever reward someone, like say, promising them they’ll meet Taylor Swift next week at your house for pizza night, if they give you a five star review?

  You have? Then you may not be an ethical author. This is why: Ethical authors should always be transparent about any reciprocal reviewing arrangements. Better still, they should avoid them altogether just so people won’t raise an eyebrow. This review by your author friend really isn’t worth it.

8. Have you ever taken the work of others, say, Dan Brown’s How To Fight Off Mennonite Undead Queens,  and then tweaked it just a little to pass it off as your own?

  You have? Then you may not be an ethical author. This is why: Plagiarism is bad, bad news. Don’t do it. Passing someone else’s works as your own is a sure fire way to lose years of credibility and a good reputation. Cutting and pasting is always easier, it is never, ever better.

9. Have you been accurate and fair in your finances? Or have you manipulated your numbers so that you aren’t taxed by all that income that Your Guide To Fighting Off Amish Zombie Princesses has made in 2014?

You have? Then you may not be an ethical author. This is why:  Everyone needs to report income, pay taxes and keep good records. We know you got into writing so that you didn’t have to do math. If it’s really that hard for you, hire an accountant. This is the law, follow it.

All kidding aside. Each one of these ‘questions’ were exaggerated to prove a point. Is is possible, and sadly very common, to slip into dishonorable and unethical behaviors for the sake of a sale. 

Top 10 Things To Consider When Choosing A Publisher With The Same Care As A Jane Austen Heroine Chose A Husband


It is a truth universally acknowledged that a writer in possession of a good story must be in want of a publisher.

It’s the age old story. You have so many hopes and dreams. You have all these wonderful stories to tell. You know that it will take an attachment, a proposal and perhaps a big commitment to make you moderately rich and a teensy bit famous. So you, the perfect Lizzie Bennet, who will only writes for love, not necessarily £10,000 a year, will be happy just to attach yourself with a publisher who respects you.

Fortunately for you, your access to publishers on the internet is an inviting a prospect as a town full of regimental soldiers to a 16-yearold girl. But if you don’t have a benefactor such as the much lauded Lady Catherine de Burgh, or your family’s connections are little more than a barrister uncle in Cheapside, you’re going to have to figure it out on your own.

Never fear. This list will give you some guidance.

Top 10 Things to Consider When Choosing A Publisher With The Same Care As  Jane Austen Heroine Choose A Husband

Top 10 Things to Consider When Choosing A Publisher With The Same Care As Jane Austen Heroine Choose A Husband


  1. You’ll attract folks like you. If you want the best, then be the best.  Before you start looking for a publisher, make your story the best it can be. I know, you’ve been working on it for a long time and it really is good. It’s not silly like Lydia or Kitty’s, and it’s not quite as good as Jane’s (but she’s being courted by the Big Six.) Your first responsibility as a writer is to write well. Take your time. Learn from the greats. If you are going to take your writing seriously and you want to attract publishers who take writing seriously, then push yourself to the most excellent level. If you want to make a fast buck, then you’ll attract publishers who want to do the same. Don’t know where to get advice? Start with hanging out at my Facebook group, 10 Minute Novelists, which was named by Writers Digest as one of the top 101 sites for writers for advice. 


"That is enough, child. Let the other ladies have a chance to EXHIBIT!"
“That is enough, child. Let the other ladies have a chance to EXHIBIT!”

2. Get the right kind of feedback from those knowledgeable in the industry. They will push you to excellence and the right connections. Your story is level headed. It  has a liveliness to it,  it’s been tempered by your exposure to great literature and you’ve been told, more than once, that it has “fine eyes.” But the best advice will come from critique groups, beta readers, editors or experienced writers who know the business and can honestly show you where to improve. You need to listen to them and improve your story in the very best way you can. You also never know who knows who. It does pay to be connected. I recommend Scribophile as a great resource. 10 Minute Novelists has a group there. Check them out. Ask for Sara Marschand. She’s awesome!

3. You understand your own goals for publication. Some writers have Rosings Park ambitions. Some will be content with Longbourne. (Forget Purvis Lodge. The attics there are dreadful!) If you don’t know what you want, then it will make choosing a publisher all the more difficult. This is what I did: I tried to find books, both fiction and non-fiction, that were similar to mine in content. I looked at who published them and who represented them. I asked myself if I wanted my books to be lumped together with these kinds of books. If I did, then it was from this list of publishers and agents that I would do research. If I didn’t, then I kept looking until I found books that were a better match. Writer’s Market is a great resource for writer willing to do the research. Get the book! 

Oh, Mr. Collins! You are such a charmer!
Oh, Mr. Collins! You are such a charmer!

4. You have a full understanding that an entire industry has been created to take advantage of desperate authors. And along comes your first contact with a publisher. He is tall, dark, handsome (okay maybe not in reality, but go with me, this is fun!) He is a mercenary. He may not be interested in art. He may not be interested in your long term goals. He may just want to cash in from your hard work. Legitimate publishers, who have good reputations, are, in this current economic climate, not likely to initiate relationships with writers. They don’t have to. They’re turning manuscripts away constantly.  It’s the less than trustworthy who are Googling authors and trying to sign anyone. Anyone. What to do? Go to Preditors and Editors and look for the names of reputable and notorious publishers, agents and editors. This is like Consumer Reports for writers. You’ll be really glad this site warned you about that Wickham!

5. If the publisher that contacted you is a start-up with few past authors, you need to be careful.  This should be a red flag. If you are their first client, or one of the first, it’s not likely that they have the credentials or the power or the skills to make you famous or even sold. Get names of anyone associated with them and send a few emails. Ask this, “I understand you worked with Wickham House for your book on gambling. Was that a positive experience for you?

Screen Shot 2015-02-27 at 11.54.16 AM

6. You should get a third party to look over a contract or legal document. If this potential publisher wants you to sign something, it is in your best interest to ask a lot of questions. Find a lawyer that specializes in contracts, or ask an agent to look something over for you. You don’t have to sign with an agent to sign a contract, but if you should be fully informed in what you’re signing. This is not one of those moments when I agree to the terms and conditions should be your knee-jerk reaction. And if your potential publisher doesn’t have a contract to sign, that means they’re depending on verbal agreements. This should be a red flag for you. A reputable publisher will be happy to provide you a contract, make adjustments, be patient with you while you get someone to look over it, and calm your nerves.

7.Make sure that they have professional editors working for them. Get names. Ask for specifics. Just because they say they’ll handle the editing, doesn’t mean that they will. You would hate it if your ARC was full of spelling and punctuation errors. It would be as embarrassing as having your petticoat six inches deep in mud. Need to find an editor? This is a list of reputable editors who would be happy to help you prepare your manuscript for publication. Check them out. 

8. Make sure that they have professional graphic designers working for them. Ask what happens if you don’t like the cover. Ask other authors if they liked their covers. Ask for them to show you all of the covers that they have been responsible for in the past. If you don’t like what you see, you may want to rethink this relationship.

9. Know the difference between a self-publishing house, an indie house and a vanity press. More importantly know what kind of publishing house you are working with. Check out this article that explains what a vanity press is and why you sign up with on, you just may regret it. 

Jane: "Oh Lizzie! The deepest love! And  . . . I can totally see up your nose!"
Jane: “Oh Lizzie! The deepest love! And . . . I can totally see up your nose!”

10. Don’t be desperate. Beginning writers think that having the word “published author” is like a halo of legitimacy. In some ways it is, but waiting to get published with a reputable, trustworthy publisher is far better than rushing into a relationship that you’ll want to get out of in a few months. Take your time. Do your homework. Someday I’ll use your book to teach your ten children how to play their instruments very ill.

Because you want so badly to be published, you’re not much different from the sad situation that all young women of the Regency Era were in.

You want to be published! That’s been the goal all along! Your mother has four other writers in the house who need to marry well because if they don’t the estate will be entailed away to Harper Collins! (Oops, sorry. I got carried away!) But trust me, you don’t to sign up with the first soldier that comes along. 


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You do have choices. While being published is a great accomplishment, it’s not the only opportunity for writers. So before you sign, take the time to really get to know your publisher and do your research.

And your ending will be a happy one.

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What I’ve Learned As A Self Published Author

 This summer marks my third year as an independent author.

What I’ve Learned As A Self Published Author

And I’ve learned a lot about it over the last three years.

In November of 2012, my first manuscript was finished and for the first time, I was curious about what it would take to self-publish my  novel, Falling For Your Madness. It changed my life! First of all, this was a life long dream now coming to pass, but other than that I learned some very interesting and surprising things too!

Word of mouth is everything! The success of my first novel was solely based on how my readers embraced it and shared it with others. I started out by telling everyone I knew what I had written, asking them for reviews, then asking them to talk it up with their friends. It helps that the themes and ideas of my book resonated with others. It also helped that I had friends who knew people who knew people. If I had been afraid to speak up, my first experiences would have been far poorer.

The first book sets the stage for the second. The second sets the stage for the third, etc. As a result of the success of Falling For Your Madness, I received a contract for Write A Novel in 10 Minutes A Day, which prompted me to create the Facebook group, 10 Minute Novelists. From there my platform exploded and now I’m in a better position to market Soulless Creatures. I’ve got more plans and each new project will build on the previous one’s success.

My readers are just friends I haven’t met yet. The very best thing about this? Meeting people. I have had so many interesting conversations with new readers, especially on Twitter and Facebook. I can’t imagine not having the accessibility to connect with readers. How lonely it would be if I wrote and never heard from anyone if they liked it. Now, years later, some of my most enthusiastic readers have become dear friends and I am all the richer for it.

Marketing is fun. Because I see how my book is starting new conversations and new relationships, I am all the more excited about marketing it. “Hey, this is my book! If you read it, then we can talk about it and we can be buddies!” It sounds kind of needy when I put it like that. But maybe the book is what I need to get out of my introverted shell to have great relationships. Oh, and sell a few books. Author happiness is getting an email from Amazon.com that they’ve just deposited another royalty check in my account.

Not everybody gets it. As much as it hurts, not everybody loved my book. I did shed a few tears over unexpected rejection. But, as painful as it was to receive, it will toughen me up for the next disappointment. I’m not stupid. I know there will be more. Reviewers may miss the point. In fact, the things I wanted them to notice, like interesting juxtaposition of gender roles or systematic point of view arrangement or all the animal references!  will most likely be ignored.

Some people get it too much. I’ve had quite a few discussions with readers who brought up some serious questions about my characters. The choices I made in the writing provoked them to ask questions, some hard ones. I didn’t expect this. I glad about it. I’m also grateful that every reader brings to the book their own experiences. This makes the joy of the writing process even more complete: to hear of how their experience with my words changed them, for better or for worse.

Making local connections isn’t so hard! I’ve only lived in this community for a year and half and I’ve been able to have several live events. Each time I pass out cards, sell books and meet people. Some of the people I’ve met are huge influencers and have opened more doors for me. It wasn’t that hard to do and I’m so glad I did it.

Nothing like fulfilling a lifelong dream to build that confidence. This is huge for me. Before I published this book, that lifelong dream had exceeded my grasp. Now, because I have sales! I have an author page on Amazon! I have readers! (And a contract! And an agent!) I have a new credibility in my eyes and in the eyes of others. I have to say, this accomplishment has done WONDERS for me. I’m holding my head a little higher. It’s awesome!

Life is busier. Publishing, for me, is not a one time event. My plan is to write many more books. This means that not only will I have to do that whole “hands on keyboard, butt in chair” thing, but I’ll also have to tweet more, market more, contact more people, blog more and generally be the nicest writer on the Internet. It’s okay. This is a good kind of busy. Until my books are selling thousands and thousands of copies daily, I’ll just have to find the time to hustle. 

I learned more skills. Because of this release I learned how to put my books on Createspace and Kindle Direct. I learned how to overcome my fear and approach reviewers. I learned how to do boring technical stuff like WordPress and banking. I learned how to manage my time. I learned how to think through marketing campaigns. All of this wasn’t too hard and it made me all the more confident to do the actual writing. I’m very proud of what I’ve accomplished, even if it won’t always translate into sales.

I can’t wait to release the next one. I’m sure there are more lessons to learn, more people to meet and more opportunities to hold my head up high.

So what about you? What have you learned since you’ve self-published? What seems intimidating? 



I am a fiction writing and time management coach. I help time crunched novelists strengthen their craft, manage their time and gain confidence so they can find readers for their stories.Katharine Grubb is a homeschooling mother of five, a novelist, a baker of bread, a comedian wannabe, a former running coward, PTSD survivor, and the author of Write A Novel In 10 Minutes A Day.Besides pursuing her own fiction and nonfiction writing dreams, she also leads 10 Minute Novelists on Facebook, an international group for time-crunched writers that focuses on tips, encouragement and community.

She blogs at www.10minutenovelist.com. She lives in Massachusetts with her family. Her new novel,Soulless Creatures, which is about two 18 year old boys, not vampires, will be released August 2015.

Want to win a free copy of my new release Soulless Creatures?

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Soulless Creatures by Katharine Grubb

Soulless Creatures

by Katharine Grubb

Giveaway ends October 10, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

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The Book Launch Checklist To Make Your Next Release Awesome!


You have a new book to sell! 

Soulless Creatures by Katharine Grubb
I do too! I have Soulless Creatures coming out August 15. Click the image to pre-order your Kindle ebook!

Are you doing everything you can to promote it? 

Some of these points are no-brainers, like have a great cover. Some, though, are optional, like having a live release party at your local coffee shop. All of them will require YOU to look at YOUR book and YOUR needs and decide what YOU can do.

I’m also going to assume that your starting point is AFTER your book has been written, rewritten, revised, edited and proofread to death. If you don’t have a quality product, please, please, please, go back and make it one. You aren’t respecting yourself, your art, your readers and the other writers around you if you’re sloppy and unprofessional.

 Pick a release date. Ideally this is six months away. The more time you allow yourself, the more you can accomplish before the big day. You can compare this to a wedding. Sure, you can get married two weeks from now, but if you want your wedding to be memorable and involve more people, you need more time to plan.

 Buy your domain name. Do it while you can before anyone else takes it. You’ve got time to either design your website yourself (like I did) or hire someone to design it for you.

Sign up for a couple of social media platforms if you haven’t already. Pick 2-3 and only pick ones that you really love or drawn to. Start acquiring followers every day. Need to know how to do this with Twitter? I have a book! Conquering Twitter in 10 Minutes A Day! 

Consider your target market.  Who is your ideal reader? What do they value? Where do they hang out? Find those places! These could be forums, blogs, websites, Twitter chats, groups, podcasts. Make a point of visiting and contributing to as many as you have time for. Don’t mention your book yet. Just engage with others, start conversations, participate in games or memes, leave blog comments, etc. This is how you can build your tribe up for the release. You really should attend to this item on your list daily.

 Hire your graphic designer for your quality book cover. Do NOT go cheap unless the person you are working with has a great reputation. I blogged about what makes a great cover here.

Format your book for ebook and for paperback. You can do this yourself or you can hire it done. If you hire it done, you want the person to have plenty of time to get it done before your release date.

 Ask your designer to help you design business cards. You can get them to match the design of your website, which makes you look all branded and stuff. Or you can get bookmarks and business cards with your new releases title on it. You want this ready before the release.

Buy business cards from Moo
These are my business cards. I designed them myself and then bought them from Moo.com

Start thinking locally. If you haven’t introduced yourself to your local librarian, DO IT! They will be your BFFS. If they know that you have a release coming out, they may be able to help you promote it. Tell them well in advance of your plans so they can carve you into their calendar.

Your local library should be one of the first stops you make on your marketing journey!
Your local library should be one of the first stops you make on your marketing journey!

On a map of your region, draw a circle with your home in the middle. Make that circle as big as you are willing to travel. Mine? An hour. Then, list all the town in that circle. Under each town heading, research libraries, indie bookstores, consignment stores, gift shops, ANYTHING that could potentially sell or promote your book. You could easily have 100 places. Then make a phone call a day. Say, “I’m a local author. My book, “BLAH” is coming out in a few months. Is there a way that you and I could work together? I’d love to meet some of your clients/customers/patrons and introduce them to my work.” Make notes. Return calls. Go see these people.

Plan your pricing. Are you going to have the ebook run for free for a few days? Keep it .99? There are a lot of different ways to look at it. Pros and cons to both strategies. Once you make your decision, contact those FB groups and sites that advertise free or .99 books.

Other ideas:


1) Have a LIVE party at a local coffee shop and invite all your friends.
2) Have a giveaway on Goodreads (of which you will Tweet daily and mention on ‪#‎AuthorHappiness‬ day!)
3) Go back to all those podcasts and blogs you’ve been stalking for months and ask if you can be a guest blogger or interviewee. The worst they can say is no.

One month before your release, GATHER YOUR STREET TEAM. This is a group of people that are crazy in love with you and will help you. Have them read your book for free, then leave reviews, then promote it THEIR WAY either word of mouth or various internet magic, then reward them with free copies to give away or Skype chats or gift cards or something. Gently remind them on release day that that’s the BIG DAY and that’s when you need the reviews up and the promotions released.

Now, those are the FREE ways to have a good release. I know about those because I’ve never had the funds to pay up. I’m sure you could fork over hundreds of dollars to get someone to do this work for you. It’s going to cost you one way or another — money or time. Any more ideas?

The most passionate force behind your book is you! So put a smile on your face, get ready to do the research, make the phone calls and ask! You never know who can help you until you do. 


I am a fiction writing and time management coach. I help time crunched novelists strengthen their craft, manage their time and gain confidence so they can find readers for their stories.Katharine Grubb is a homeschooling mother of five, a novelist, a baker of bread, a comedian wannabe, a former running coward, PTSD survivor, and the author of Write A Novel In 10 Minutes A Day.Besides pursuing her own fiction and nonfiction writing dreams, she also leads 10 Minute Novelists on Facebook, an international group for time-crunched writers that focuses on tips, encouragement and community.

She blogs at www.10minutenovelist.com. She lives in Massachusetts with her family. Her new novel, Soulless Creatures, which is about two 18 year old boys, not vampires, will be released August 2015.

Soulless Creatures by Katharine Grubb available now
Click the image to order your copy!

Sign up if you need a weekly dose of encouragement covering all of your life, not just writing.

Starting in July, a new weekly newsletter, <em>The Rallying Cry, </em> will be released from Katharine Grubb. Sign up if you need a weekly dose of encouragement covering all of your life, not just writing. <em>The Rallying Cry </em> will be an honest, kleenex-worthy, you-can-do-this, faith-filled message of hope for those who need it. You can sign up below.

 The Rallying Cry  will be an honest, kleenex-worthy, you-can-do-this, faith-filled message of hope for those who need it. You can sign up below.

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Learning From The Independent Publishing Experience: A Guest Post By Jude Knight

What have you learned from this experience?

The headline is a quote from the man I adore: “What have you learned from this experience?” (Not, incidentally, what you want to hear when you’ve just bumped your toe or broken your heart. But I love you, darling.)

Six months ago last month, I published my first historical romance, a novella. I’ve since published a novel, am about to publish another one, and will have another novel and a novella out by my 1st anniversary as an independent publisher.

I still have a great deal to learn, but here are my top five lessons from this first venture into the wild and wonderful world of Indie.

Independent Publishing From the Writers of 10 MInute Novelists

Lesson 1: We do better together than apart

Since joining various Facebook groups for historical romantic fiction, I’ve ‘met’ many wonderful authors. My to-read list has expanded at an alarming rate, but I’ve also been privileged to share their insights, tidbits from their research, and their encouragement as I’ve dipped my toes into the indie publishing water.  I’ve also joined a collaborative of regency romance writers, the Bluestocking Belles.

Without the retweeting and sharing of my friends, far fewer people would have heard of my books. And I am keen to return the service whenever I can. Readers are not a scarce resource to be hoarded; an enthusiastic reader will devour the books of many authors. When we share, when we support one another, we grow a larger market to benefit us all.

Lesson 2: 20 December is a terrible date to launch a new book

The 1st; maybe the 10th; maybe the 30th. But I launched my first book on the 20th.

The 20th was a really, really, bad idea, and very nearly did me in. So many competing demands. We have a habit of giving the grandchildren a craft day, and this year we did two (one full Saturday for the older children, and one for the younger). I work full-time in commercial publishing, and 30 years of experience should have taught me that clients pile on the deadlines in the three weeks leading up to Christmas and the New Zealand summer holidays. And that doesn’t even begin to touch on Christmas shopping and baking.

I did all my own editing, cover design, proofreading, formatting, marketing, and so on. The week leading up to 20 December was insane, and the next week, as I publicised the book, even crazier. And that week included Christmas Day.

Let’s not do that again, okay?

Lesson 3: Don’t leave the cover till the last week

I’ve done a lot of research on covers, and looked at hundreds trying to work out what I like and what I don’t. I downloaded Pixelmator for the Mac, and my PRH transferred across a heap of fonts from the ancient version of InDesign on our old publishing company’s computer. We experimented with fonts till we found some we liked. But – with final tweaks on the image — the cover I actually used wasn’t completely ready until 12 December, just a couple of days before I uploaded to Smashwords and Amazon.

More pressure than I needed. In future, my covers will be done before the book goes on preorder

Lesson 4: Distribution takes time – preorder is the way to go

I uploaded the first book on 16 December my time. The book began to be downloaded from Smashwords straight away. Somehow, I’d managed not to take that into my calculations, but hey — a download is a download, right? It took several days to filter through to the resellers from Smashwords. Apple finally started showing the book on 27 December, and didn’t really pick up speed for several days.

Amazon started selling immediately, too, but didn’t really begin to move until they made it free (see Ask for what you want, next).

Putting Farewell to Kindness up for preorder five weeks before release definitely lightened my stress load. And Baron for Becky went up nearly three months in advance.

Lesson 5: Ask for what you want; it’s less stressful than waiting

Ask for reviews. Ask for ratings. People can say ‘no’. But you lose nothing by asking. One thing I asked for was a free listing on Amazon. I was giving the novella away to give people a taste of my writing style, but Amazon insisted on a price of 99c.

I’d been told that Amazon would price match, and that I should ask people to request price matching. So I did. And nothing happened. I read discussions on forums where authors talked about how hard it was to get price matching. But then I thought ‘why not ask’?

So I emailed Amazon, told them that the novella was free at Apple and Barnes & Noble, that my strategy was to give it away free to publicise the next few books, and that — if they price matched — we’d both benefit in the long term. Within 24 hours, it was free on Amazon to US purchasers, and that slowly spread to their other stores.

So ask. People just might say ‘yes’.

Jude KnightJude Knight writes strong determined heroines, heroes who can appreciate a clever capable woman, villains you’ll love to loathe, and all with a leavening of humour.

 Jude Knight is the pen name of Judy Knighton. After a career in commercial writing, editing, and publishing, Jude is returning to her first love, fiction. Her novella, Candle’s Christmas Chair, was released in December 2014, and is in the top ten on several Amazon bestseller lists in the US and UK. Her first novel Farewell to Kindness, was released on 1 April, and is also sitting on a couple of bestseller lists. It is number one in a series: The Golden Redepennings.

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Help: I Have To Market My Book! : A Guest Post By Robin Patchen

When somebody asks me what my book is about, I start talking like a Valley Girl who’s inhaled too much hairspray. Robin Patchen

My third book released a couple of weeks ago, ushering me into the most dreaded activity of this writer’s life: marketing.

I hate it, and for good reason. When somebody asks me what my book is about, I start talking like a Valley Girl who’s inhaled too much hairspray. “So like there’s this girl…like lady, right? And she’s like scared of this guy she knew from before…’cause see, when she was a teenager…”

Shocking I don’t sell more copies by hand.

I don’t do much better in print.

But mostly, I hate marketing because I have to ask for help.

Writers have to ask for endorsements, influencers, reviews, and shares. We have to humbly request to be guest on others’ blogs and suggest ourselves as brilliant interviewees. Heck, writers even have to ask for sales. That’s what marketing is, asking people to gamble on you. “Please fork over your hard-earned money on the chance that my book doesn’t completely stink.”

Most people are willing to spend more money on a Supersized McDonald’s meal than they are on a book.

Ten minutes to consume your hamburger, ten hours to consume my life’s work. Seems the latter would be worth at least as much as the former.

Help: I have to Market my Book by Robin Patchen

But there’s only one Big Mac, while there are thousands…millions of books out there. It’s supply and demand, and honey, nobody’s demanding what I’m supplying. Not yet, anyway.

Thus, I have to ask.

In order to make this task easier, I’ve hired a manager to help with my marketing. She’s approaching endorsers for me, and she’s asking for influencers. She’s giving me great ideas for marketing, too, many of which involve…asking for help. You know what I’ve learned so far? Every author has to do this, or at least had to at one point in his career. And every author hates it. But if we all help each other, it’s not so bad.

This Friday, my first critique partner and I are attending a craft fair together, so we visit while people walk by pretending not to see us. I’m really looking forward to it.

Finding Amanda by Robin Patchen

Chef and popular blogger Amanda Johnson hopes publishing her memoir will provide healing and justice. Her estranged husband, contractor and veteran soldier Mark Johnson, tries to talk her out of it, fearing the psychiatrist who seduced her when she was a teen might return to silence her. But Amanda doesn’t need advice, certainly not from her judgmental soon-to-be ex-husband. Her overconfidence makes her vulnerable when she travels out of town and runs into the abuser from her past. A kind stranger comes to her rescue and offers her protection. Now Mark must safeguard his wife both from the fiend who threatens her life and from the stranger who threatens their marriage.

Next month, a good friend and I are teaming up to have a launch party together.

We each have things we’re good at, so we’re splitting the work. And we’ve figured out the best way to sell our books at the event: I’m going to sell hers, and she’s going to sell mine. Instead of babbling like a fool about my own book, I can gush about hers (and it’ll be genuine, because her book is fantastic).

So what advice do I have for you?

Perhaps you can find somebody to team up with in your marketing efforts, either a manager like mine (and no, she’s not available), or a good friend who also has a book to market—or will in the near future. It’s so much easier to ask for help for somebody else than it is to ask for yourself.

When you’re at book launch and signing time, could you share the joy with another author? If nothing else, at least that’ll give you someone to talk to during those inevitable lulls in visitors.

And be the person who offers help when your friends come out with new books. Buy them, read them, and review them. If you love their books, tell your friends about them. Because eventually it’ll be you quaking in your flip-flops and doing your best Valley Girl impression.

Most of all, don’t be afraid to ask for help. You’re a writer, so you already know how to handle rejection, right? So what if they say no. Let it roll off your back like that one-star review and move on to the next guy.

By the way, does anybody want to review my book?


Author Robin Patchen
Author Robin Patchen

Robin Patchen lives in Edmond, Oklahoma, with her husband and three teenagers. Her third book, Finding Amanda, is available now. When Robin isn’t writing or caring for her family, she works as a freelance editor at Robin’s Red Pen, where she specializes in Christian fiction. Read excerpts and find out more at her website, robinpatchen.com


Finding Amanda links

My website: http://robinpatchen.com/

Robin’s Red Pen: https://robinsredpen.wordpress.com/

Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/Finding-Amanda-inspirational-Robin-Patchen-ebook/dp/B00VN0STLI/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1428171089&sr=8-3&keywords=robin+patchen

Itunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/finding-amanda/id982982402?mt=11

Kobo:  https://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/finding-amanda

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/finding-amanda-robin-patchen/1121693795?ean=2940151640039

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25311792-finding-amanda


#Top10Tuesday Top 10 Ways to Market Your Book on a Budget

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I met Janice Thompson in 2014 at the MacGregor Literary Marketing Conference. Besides being a delightfully encouraging person, she also knows a lot about marketing books. Because she’s published over 100 titles, her Top 10 Ways to Market Your Book On A Budget is full of practical help. Enjoy! And then support Janice and buy her books!

1). Market first. Create a full marketing strategy in your proposal. Include every bit of contact information you can think of: local TV and radio stations, civic groups (or other places where you can speak/teach), bloggers who might be interested in promoting your book, online chat classes and so on. Put together a spreadsheet of your sales and/or potential books. Publishers see you as a pro if you come in completely prepared.

2). Market to your brand: Add your tagline to your email, along with your latest book title. “Love, Laughter and Happily Ever Afters” is mine. Make sure your business cards, headshot, tagline, etc. all match. Be consistent. (My former pastor used to say, “We want to be a people who finish well.”)

3). Market to your team. Once published, market to your sales team before anyone else, even before the book comes out. Form a small marketing coop of three authors. You could agree to promote each other works by committing to a certain number of tweets, Facebook announcements, etc.

Top Ten Ways  to Market Your Book on a Budget

4). Market according to your schedule. Pre-schedule FB posts but do it on FB (not hootsuite, etc.) Look for your peak times. The key is to engage the reader AFTER the post goes up. When you see them “liking” a post, chime in with a comment. Same with blog. Schedule posts in advance according to your book’s release date. (Old posts can be relevant, too, even if they didn’t get many hits. Go back (work in reverse) updating your blog posts to add keywords.

5). Market to your neighborhood: Become a big fish in a small pond. Go local. Always do press releases to your local paper (and/or college alumni papers). Keep your press kit handy. Things to include: business cards, speaking topics, interview questions, endorsements, community service sheet (your involvement in the community as it relates to your book/topic). Thank online bookstore owners for carrying your book. When you do a local book-signing, take something special for the shop owner.

6). Market with your mouth: (Along the same lines as marketing to your neighborhood) Become a public speaker. Speak before signing books. (I always sell far more books when I have an opportunity to speak first.) Target local groups that no one would think of: the DAR, library, ABWA, Rotary, Lions, Historical Foundations, Knights of Columbus, Girl/Boy Scouts, Bible study groups, seniors’ groups at church, parenting groups, MOPS, public schools, Christian schools, (With my novel Hurricane I spoke to 7th graders at a Christian school. They all read the story in advance.) Remember to include homeschool groups, CE courses at the local junior college, retirement communities and reading groups.

7). Market in blitz fashion: Hit hard and fast on the week of the book’s release. Create your own one week blast blog tour, all reviews landing on amazon within seven days. Get friends to tweet for you. Put out teasers from your book. Pose questions related to the theme of that book, etc. Set books for free. Offer specials: one for $10/three for $25. Create a personal note on Youtube announcing the book (not a book trailer, but a personal note.) Make sure amazon reviews land hard and fast when the book releases.

Magical Marketing: Marketing Is Life
Magical Marketing: Marketing Is Life

8). Market Ties. (Not the kind you wear around your neck.) Tie your book to a hot topic (or TV show) and keyword/hash tag the two. (My books are often tied to  Dancing with the Stars of other big-named shows.) Tie to other things you’re known for. For me, it’s cakes, so I did 30 Days of Cakes (for Icing on the Cake). I Love Lucy for The Icing on the Cake. (Every single book of mine is linked to a famous actor/actress/TV show…something.) Also use your endorsements to tie to heroes and/or people of interest. (Shoot high and look for big endorsements: Dr. Neil Frank, former head of the National Hurricane Center endorsed my book Hurricane.)

9). Market with articles. Write corresponding articles on the theme of your book. Publish them on other people’s blogs (or in magazines) and link to your book. When I first started writing wedding books I wrote wedding planning articles on the Examiner. Take the time to write articles for online magazines and well as traditional magazines. They may not always pay, but when they agree to include your bio and information about your latest release, it represents some good exposure, but without the advertising fees.

10). Market for long-term relationships. (Think Jerry Macguire: the mission statement) Send your teaser/blurbs to key players on your dream team. Foster a sense of community and seek long-term (genuine) reader relationships.

Janice Hanna ThompsonJanice has published over 100 books for the Christian market, crossing genre lines to write cozy mysteries, historicals, romances, nonfiction books, devotionals, children’s books and more. She particularly enjoys writing light-hearted, comedic tales because she enjoys making readers laugh. She lives in Spring, Texas, where she leads a rich life with her family, a host of writing friends, and two mischievous dachshunds. When she’s not busy writing or playing with her eight grandchildren, Janice can be found in the kitchen, baking specialty cakes and cookies for friends and loved ones.


Nine Things I’ve Learned About Book Marketing That I Didn’t Know Last Year

Marketing is the self-discovered path of relational choices in which we meet the right people who will happily exchange something they value for something we've created.

I am not a marketing expert. 

I am, however, an informed consumer and reluctant buyer of stuff. I am not easily impressed. I don’t follow trends, I am only impressed with designer labels when I see them at my local thrift store. I also come from a family of manipulators so if anyone has a BS detector, I do. You would think that I would have negative feelings about marketing.

You’d be wrong.


I love it because it’s not what I thought it was. I thought that if I am going to sell, then I have to be annoying to buyers. If I’m going to sell, then I have to cajole, manipulate, and lie. If I am going to sell, then I  have to yell from the rooftops the name of my book to get attention. I have to tweet constantly, I have to send auto DMs (you guys know how I feel about auto DMs) and I have to spend a lot of money, buy ad space, get onto every single social media platform, harass local bookstores, blah blah blah.
Nine Things I've Learned About Book Marketing That I Didn't Know Last Year

Nine Things I’ve Learned About Book Marketing That I Didn’t Know Last Year

No one successfully markets the same way. The path is self-discovered. You can’t market the way I do and expect the same results. Every marketing plan should be individualized for the author and the book.
Good marketing is about relationships. I’m reading To Sell is Human  by Daniel Pink and he goes into specific detail about the importance of this.
Good marketing still follows the foundational principles of finding buyers. You have to find the right people who will love your product. I recommend Amanda Luedeke’s book The Extroverted Writer for suggestions on how to do this.
Marketing is about exchange, and this doesn’t always mean money. Think about big bloggers, like Flylady or Pioneer Woman. You can receive from them a LOT of information without ever giving them a dime, right? What are you giving them? A brand. A household name. A reputation. And when they write the next book, they cash in on this exchange. Who will line up to buy the next cookbook from The Pioneer Woman? EVERYONE IN THE WORLD!
Magical Marketing: Marketing Is Life
Magical Marketing: Marketing Is Life
 A marketing plan is a living organism that can grow, stretch, reproduce and shrink. I found this truth to be freeing. Instead of being obsessed with my to-do list, I should have a plan, but then enjoy the ride it takes me on. Sometimes the best connections are the most random, most unpredictable and most scary!
A marketing plan must measure results.  I’m not great with analyzing data, but it’s a must. Track what works. Make changes if it doesn’t. A successful plan is one that has a 30% return. Only THIRTY PERCENT! That means that 70% of the time, your plan won’t work. Do it anyway.
A marketing plan makes the most of the author’s strengths. Some of us are great at Twitter. Some of us don’t have a good voice for radio. Some of us are afraid that our big hair will overpower any television set. That’s fine. Figure out what you can do and do it!
A marketing plan Is deliberate and thoughtful, not impulsive. Which means that TIME needs to be invested in creating it and then implementing it. My personal plan starts locally with libraries, bookstores and coffee shops. Then I’m expanding to Google searches with a few key words in my target market. I can’t assume that one blog post or one tweet is all I need to be successful.
A good marketing plan is useless unless the book is EXCELLENT.  If you are offering a slipshod product with no editing and bad artwork you are insulting writers everywhere. You are attacking the dignity of this art. You’re telling the world that you disrespect your readers and yourself. Do us all a favor and get it right first.
What can I control?
The gorgeous table I set up at a local event. I succeeded in everything I could control, yet I only sold one book.

Five More Things I’ve Learned About Book Marketing That I Didn’t Know Last Year

Marketing is not some set of hoops that we have to jump through.

Marketing is not a cause and effect scientific formula.

Marketing is not a list of dos and don’ts (except for the auto-DMs one!)

Marketing is not a for sale sign, or balloons tied to used cars, knocking on doors or cold calls.

Marketing is about figuring out WHO YOU ARE and HOW YOUR BOOK RELATES TO YOUR READERS. Good marketing takes thought, organization and humility. 

What do you think? What have you learned recently about marketing? How has this changed how you market?

#Top10Tuesday Top 10 Ways Good Marketing Is Like Good Parenting

You wrote a book!  You once conceived an idea, which seemed like fun at the time.  You've seen it through to the end!

The writing of the book, was the pregnancy. You conceived the idea in a romantic, intimate moment.

You developed it secretly in the dark. You wrote while stuffing your face with all kinds of snacks. You tried to explain your characters and your plot to others and they just didn’t understand. And the length of the ms got bigger and bigger. And you wondered will I ever get this done? Will I be waiting for the arrival forever? 

And the big day comes!

You get your little bundle of joy from Createspace or some other expert labor and delivery establishment! You count all of the pages to make sure that it is all there!  You think that your book is the most beautiful and the most amazing thing that was ever created! And you tell all your friends! You post it on Facebook! There has never been a book before this book! No one will be a better author than you!

And then the novelty is over.

The well wishers have bought their copies. You realize that you’re the one up all night with the little buggar. You second guess yourself, are you the best marketer you could be? Amazon Kindle sales are nice but the reviews aren’t as complete as you’d like. The sales are only trickles. You thought that perhaps something significant would happen now, something bigger? The blues come on you and you don’t know what to do. One star reviews smell like dirty diapers. Rejection letters are the mean toddlers who throw sand on the play date. And then there’s that other author close to you who says, “I would never do that to my book! What are you thinking? What kind of an author are you?”

This metaphor can go on forever. 

Just like parenting, we often don’t know what we’re doing when it comes to marketing our books. Just like parenting, we read good advice and we try it, but it doesn’t always work for us. Just like parenting, we have great aspirations, but sometimes we get caught up in our own inadequacies and our own faults. Sometimes the frustration of knowing what is best for us is overwhelming.

Like parenting, if we are going to market our books, we kind of have to figure it out as we go. 

Top 10 Ways Good Marketing Is Like Good Parenting

Top 10 Ways Good Marketing Is Like Good Parenting

1. A good parent does what they can when they can. You don’t fill out college applications the day after coming home from the hospital. A good marketer understands that there are seasons for their book, look at the process in the long term and gives themselves grace.

2. A good parent has low expectations. A first time author should have them too. I haven’t  met a mother of a toddler yet that  didn’t. If you’re a first time author, understand that you won’t sell thousands of books. That’s okay. You’ve got your future ahead of you.

3. A good parent attends to the basics automatically. For a parent, that means having baby fed, washed, nurtured and well rested. For an author, that means having the manuscript well-written, well-edited, well-covered, and accessible to readers on the most basic of platforms, like Kindle direct. As your platform and skill set grows, your accomplishments will too.

4. A good parent doesn’t compare their kid or their style to another parent’s child or style. A good book marketer doesn’t either. What works well for your friend’s book, Amish Zombie Princesses won’t work for your book, Lint Art for the Lonely.  Like parenting, our marketing journey is a personal one and we have to choose what’s best for us and not judge others’ choices.

5. A good parent knows parenting is a game of inches. Children don’t master good manners in one lesson. It takes years. Authors who market should understand this too. A first book gains a few readers, the next book gains more. This game — parenting and marketing — is not for the impatient.

6. A good parent uses their community. Who hasn’t asked a friend, neighbor or family member to watch a child? What parent hasn’t depended on a social group to help them out? Authors need community too. If nothing else, an author’s community can

7. A good parent manages their time the best they can. They have an understanding of what must be done and figures out ways to get it done. A marketing author does this too. The engage with their readers without being too distracted. They delegate. They learn how much they can do in 10 minute increments.

8. A good parent takes reasonable risks. They want their children to stretch themselves, try new things and grow. A good marketer does this too. They aren’t afraid of speaking to the librarian at their local branch or calling the local paper. Both parent and marketing author knows you never know what great thing could happen if you try!

9. A good parent knows the “rules” but makes them work for their situation. A good marketing author does too. They’ve read marketing blogs, they understand generosity, they’ve taken great notes. Then they get good ideas and apply the principles their way.

10. A good parents sees the differences in their children and nurtures them accordingly. A good author may also see that each of their books opens doors that the other one can’t. They also aren’t afraid to learn from their mistakes and do better with children and books this time around.

Authors should take another lesson from parents — just because you do everything “right” doesn’t mean that there are guarantees. Parenting is fraught with heartbreak, disappointment, pain and expense. But then, it’s awesome and joyful and exhilarating.

But like parenting, marketing will take hard work, trial and error, risk-taking, expenses, time, energy, possible humiliation, disappointment, regret, sleepless nights, and the list is endless.

So are you a good parent/marketer?  What other similarities do you see? What has parenting taught you about marketing?


Why You Need To Practice Writing Long Before You Publish

It’s really too bad that we don’t have a Quality Control Department for the written word. And Amazon Reviews, sadly, aren’t enough. 

Writing is cheap — anyone can type out a sentence — and because of this cheapness, many people may not think that it’s worth much. Anyone and their dog can publish a book,  so the general public can easily accept shoddy workmanship. Perhaps because I can, with a click of button,  download hundreds of free books, I may have lost my respect for the carefully crafted story.

Easy accessibility does not encourage the practice of good craftsmanship.


Craftsmanship is never helped when stupid phrases like “there are no rules to writing” get thrown around like last night’s empty pizza boxes.  This tells new writers that discipline and skill and craftsmanship are not necessary to succeed.  Show me a writer who quotes that repeatedly, and I’ll show you a lazy writer. Craftsmanship is also never helped when badly written tripe will have made it to a best seller list somewhere. Any motivation for new writers to be excellent goes the way of the dinosaur and the diagrammed sentence.

Screen Shot 2015-02-21 at 11.12.04 AM

 I’d like to suggest that those of you who want to be serious novelists, put away (at least for a while) all aspirations of being published immediately. Instead focus solely on your craft. 

Why You Need To Practice Writing Long Before You Publish

Why You Need To Practice Writing Long Before You Publish

You need to grow in confidence. Your brain, your imagination and your fingers need to have obtained that muscle memory that comes with constant creative work. You will see that in some ways writing will be much easier and you will be confident in your work as you keep at it.  Writing will always be hard at times, but through practice, you will have faith in yourself to keep going when the crafting of your novel is difficult.

You need to grow in the rules. Yes, there ARE rules, and if you’re using that as an excuse not to follow them, then you need to go back and practice them inside and out. Don’t even think about breaking them until you can generally master grammar, punctuation, and spelling. After you’ve conquered those big three, then move on the elements of good storytelling, like plot, characterization and structure. These are your tools and blueprint. Only a foolish writer neglects mastery of these. Do you want to look like an idiot, then forget the rules.

Screen Shot 2015-02-21 at 11.41.23 AM

You need to train your mind to think like  a writer.  You need to think logically, looking for causes and effects. You need to be comfortable with language and communication. You need to feel at ease with words. You need to know how to organize thoughts. Writing begins in the mind and your mind needs practice to think like a writer.

You need to train your mind to think like a story teller (this is not the same thing). A story is more than the logical progression of parts. It is soulful, artistic and passionate. If you are to be a writer and a story teller, then you need to know all of the elements of story inside and out. You need to understand plots. You should be able to recognize the three act structure in the movie you watched last night on Netflix. How do you do this? You read books on writing and great works of literature. Show me a successful writer and I’ll show you someone who has at least one book that they’re in the middle of.


You need to train your mind to observe. You need to watch people. You need to be able to describe things. You need to take in details of a setting. Details matter in your stories and if you are trained to observe details and put them in your prose, your writing will be strengthened.

You need to read more. Did I mention that you need to read? Read! Have a balanced reading diet. That means read books from your genre, but also read the greats of the last century, read current best sellers and read non-fiction books on writing or subjects that will show up in your writing. You will never read too much. But if you read too little, your writing will show.


You need to write regularly. This may mean finding ten minutes here or there. It may mean having a specific daily word count. It may mean having someone hold you accountable. Whatever it means, you must do it!  There isn’t a professional musician alive who hasn’t spent hours every day of their life practicing. There isn’t an artist in any museum or gallery who hasn’t gone through painstaking exercises. And don’t even get me started on world class athletes. If you want to succeed like the big names, you start by putting your butt in your chair and your hands on your keyboard daily or it is never, ever, ever going to happen.

You need to familiar yourself with greatness. Every week or so, pull out a book you read in high school The Great Gatsby or The Scarlet Letter or Great Expectations and write out a few random paragraphs. See if you can continue in that voice or style. Look at the way that the sentences are structured. Pay attention to the noun and verb choice.  You can learn from the greats if you take the time to pay attention. And then read them. Again.


You need to know specifically how to improve. Without question, a good community is vital for the success of any writer for many reasons. If you want to be better, ask your community for help and then brace yourself. You don’t have to agree with every suggestion they make, you do have to be teachable and humble. A good community will gently encourage you to be better. Take their advice. Rewrite your stuff. Take the time to learn from writers around you.

You may need to take a class. You may have local resources at adult educations centers, community colleges, local libraries. You can also find writing courses online. This link has 19 free online writing instruction opportunities. If you are serious about your writing, then invest in yourself and sign up for a class, in a class situation, you can everything I listed above and see your writing improve.

It takes almost no effort to write a functional story. It takes a little more effort to write a decent story. It takes even more effort, more time, more BST (blood, sweat & tears), more passion, more determination and more character to write an excellent story.  

Love Your Art. Do it right.


#Top10Tuesday Top 10 Things That Are Wrong With Reciprocal Reviews


This has the potential of being my most controversial post yet.

And I like controversy about as much as I like snooty  moms asking me personal questions about the decisions I made in the raising of my children.

But  I believe that reciprocal reviews have the potential of being unethical simply because any quid pro quo arrangement could be intentionally tainted, possibly inaccurate and maybe even dishonest.

My friend Jane Steen, who has written a great deal about ethical behavior for authors, has this to say about reciprocal reviews. 

Top Ten Things That Are Wrong With Reciprocal Reviews
Top Ten Things That Are Wrong With Reciprocal Reviews

1. On their own, individual reviews don’t make a huge difference. Let’s be honest. While it helpful to have some reviews on Amazon.com, it’s like throwing a bucket of water on the house fire. You’re doing something but it won’t be enough. It is far better to have an accumulation of them, from actual readers, all with a variety of opinions about your story. Too many five star reviews is just as suspicious as no reviews at all.

2. Someone in a reciprocal arrangement is getting the short end of the stick. You hand me over your copy of  Your Guide To Amish Zombie Princesses‘and you yank a copy of Falling For Your Madness out of my hands and the idea, you say, is that we both write a review.So then I read Your Guide To Amish Zombie Princesses and I discover a lot of problems. I may find tons of spelling and grammatical errors. I may also discover the work is derivative or sloppy or badly formatted or kinda dumb. You give my book a solid 4 star review. But it would be a stretch to give yours two. So you come out with a loss. Unless I lie and give you a four or five star review, which goes against my conscience.  At that point the loss is mine. This idea of reciprocity sounds even, but it’s not. Not by a long shot.

3. Reciprocal reviews do not build up trust, do not strengthen friendships, rarely improve one’s writing — they just boost numbers. What if the case is reversed and I give your Princess Zombie book five stars and you give my FFYM two? Wouldn’t my feelings get hurt? Wouldn’t I avoid asking you in the future? If we both lie, just to make each other comfortable, we’re not doing either of us any favors.

Top Ten Things Wrong With Reciprocal Reviews
Top Ten Things Wrong With Reciprocal Reviews

4. Art is subjective. The whole 1-5 star system is not a very good one. I once got a two star review because the reader thought that I didn’t give enough attention to the suffering mother as she gave birth in my story. (Oh, and you better believe I wanted to respond to that!) This imperfect system already has too much corruption and too many people who take advantage of it. Reserve your reviews for books that you read, not books that someone is making you read.  That way you can enjoy the subjectivity of our art and be free to leave the reviews you want to about it.

5. Reciprocal Reviews turn a gift into an act of commerce. We give our heart and souls into our work for our readers. If we’re lucky, our readers respond to our art with their reviews, recommendations, follows or other examples of reader love. A reciprocal review, by someone that has already agreed to a favorable report, cheapens the act of art itself.

6. Reciprocal reviews tell yourself and the world that you don’t have the means to earn success through your own merit. Why do we even publish if we’re going to manipulate the system? Personally, I want to be known as a great writer. I want it to be because of my skills, my craftsmanship, my own hard work. If I depend on the manipulations of others to become great, then the victories will be far emptier.

Do Ethics for Writers Matter?
We spend a LOT of time last month talking about ethics on this website. Reciprocal reviews are only one part of it. Interested in this subject? Click the tags on #EthicalAuthor to find them all.

7.  Reciprocal reviews are like gift exchanges at Christmas. The best gifts are those that you give. They’re the ones that you’ve thought about, that you’ve worked for, that you’ve discovered is the perfect gift for someone you love.  So not only do you give the gift, you give the meaning and affection behind the gift. But if you give a gift because you have to, then you think about equal values and “what if she gives me something nicer” and the whole reason that you give gifts in the first place, out of love and affection, is completely squashed.

8. The goal of reciprocal reviews is fairness. Fairness is a poor marketing strategy. Generosity, however, is an excellent one. Seth Godin in his book, Linchpin, said, “Stop settling for what’s good enough and start creating art that matters. Stop asking what’s in it for you and start giving gifts that change people. Then, and only then, will you have achieved your potential.” I believe this. I’d like to stop looking to the people around me to judge what is expected of me, like a reciprocal review. Instead, I want to look for ways to be generous and not expect anything. I believe this is the way to grow long term relationships which is far better than one review.

9. Reciprocal Reviews are based on fear. If I had you a copy of Falling For Your Madness, my fingers are crossed that you’ll like it. I’ll hope that the comments you make in your review are worth the effort it took to read the book. Hope is too positive of a word. I”ll probably be very anxious and fretful — hoping that my review of your book is fair enough. I may even go so far to count words.  If you bought it, I’ve already received my compensation. I’ll stand firm in the quality of the book and not be afraid of what you’ll say in your review. I have enough to stress out about in my life, thank you very much.

10. Reciprocal Reviews are unethical if they hide facts from the readers. The act of hiding anything looks bad. If you avoid reciprocal reviews then you don’t have to worry about Amazon.com or anyone else connecting one of your readers with a review you left. I know that I don’t want any hint of impropriety linked to my name. I’d rather pass on your offer of reciprocity than risk an accusation of wrongdoing or misleading readers in the future.

No one is going to stop you from soliciting reciprocal reviews from your writer friends. It’s likely you can collect a few dozen and no one will notice.

There is no such thing as an Author Ethics police.

And believe me, I’ve got far better things to do than check on you and judge you. But that doesn’t make it right nor fair. Please carefully consider the points I make in this post. I want to encourage you to make choices in every area of your writing career that puts you in the very best light, not one that could be seen as sneaky or manipulative or misleading.



This book doesn't exist. But it could if you wanted it to bad enough. Click the link to find out how.
This book doesn’t exist. But it could if you wanted it to bad enough. Click the link to find out how.