Three Great Books for Aspiring Writers

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In a literate society, most everybody can read and write. Inevitably, when word gets out that someone is an author, someone else will inquire about how to go about doing what an author does.

I have found three books that make for a great recommendation list for any aspiring author. Combined, these three will guide the would-be scribe all the way from idea to finished product to marketing on Amazon.

First, the aspiring writer should learn how to write. The classic for this pursuit is Stephen King’s On Writing. Part autobiography, part “how-to” manual, King walks the reader through everything a good writer needs to know. If a college kid asks about writing for a living, this is the first book I point them toward.

Next comes the question of publication. These days, a new writer can make far more money as an independent than trying to spend years finding an agent and getting a contract with a traditional New York publishing house.

But, being an indie author who actually makes some money beyond enough to buy a six pack of soda each month takes planning and work. Lots of work. The best “how-to” book I’ve come across for this line of work is Write. Publish. Repeat. The No-Luck-Required Guide to Self-Publishing Success by Platt, Truant, and Wright. These guys run the Self Publishing Podcast, among other things, and the book is full of practical information for indie authors. (Find current episodes on iTunes.)

Finally, a great book to fine tune your product is Chris Fox’s Write to Market: Deliver a Book that Sells. If you enjoy writing, and you want people to pay you money for what you write, then you have to write to market. You should approach novels with a plan, and Fox details what is needed for success.

There’s tons of other books out there to help people learn to write, write better, and sell what they’ve written. But these three are the essentials, in my opinion, to do well as an independent author.

Kindle Press Authors benefits

I’ve been blessed to have The Empathic Detective selected as a Kindle Scout title and published through Amazon’s Kindle Press. But one of the other big blessings in belonging to the Kindle Scout family is the ongoing companionship with other KP authors.

We stay in touch via Facebook, including a public group here, and every Friday we tweet about our books on Twitter. (Look up the hashtag #kpauthors). Finally, we have an official website featuring our books and other materials here.

It’s encouraging to know each Kindle Scout book is carefully selected by the Kindle Press team for publication. Any KP title you purchase (or read through Kindle Unlimited) has been thoroughly vetted, and most tend to maintain high four or five star reader reviews on Amazon.

So download a Kindle Press book today, and don’t forget to nominate new titles over at Kindle Scout for the opportunity to receive free copies selected for publication.

Phasers in the Wild West

I still get hits to an article I wrote a while back, Lasers vs. Lead in Science Fiction: Pew-Pew or Pow-Pow?

In it I explored the use of gunpowder weapons in science fiction, notably in the movie Aliens but also on occasion even in places like the original Star Trek (where admittedly, they were described as antiques).

These thoughts were running through my head while writing the first Redwood book, which takes place on the second-farthest planet from Earth. At that distance, technology has to be super reliable, because fixing things that break becomes problematic. Consequently, a lot of the technology in that book is relatively simple.

I’m reminded of the whole discussion again thanks to my new work in progress, which is an alternative history where technology is about 200 years or so farther along than in our timeline, but most of the key events remain the same. The American Revolution was televised. Drones and AI played a role in the American Civil War, etc.

So yes, in this book, cowboys on the plains get to shoot “pew-pew” weapons at each other.

If you’d like a sneak peek at a rough draft of the first couple of chapters, jump on my mailing list and I’ll send it your way.

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photo credit: DAKKAR via photopin (license)

Advertising for Indie Authors Part 4: Facebook

Facebook has been successful for me, and from what I have read many other authors enjoy the benefits of advertising there, too. It’s got at least two things going for it, in my opinion. First, it can be relatively cheap. You can set up a daily budget of $5 or $10, and get clicks to your books for a few cents each. Second, Facebook provides a wealth of options when setting up ads, offering to send them to users in very detailed demographics then showing the results from those demographics.

Besides running ads, Facebook also offers options to boost specific posts, making sure more people read it and achieve different objectives such as clicking on your book’s page or your webpage, gaining more “likes” for your Facebook page, etc. Here’s the list of ad campaign objectives available:

  • Boost your posts
  • Promote your Page
  • Send people to your website
  • Increase conversions on your website
  • Get installs of your app
  • Increase engagement in your app
  • Reach people near your business
  • Raise attendance at your event
  • Get people to claim your offer
  • Get video views
  • Collect leads for your business

All told, ads on Facebook are well worth looking into. There are several tutorials online that go into much better details about how to be effective with Facebook ads, and quite a few blog posts like this one that are worth your time.

One of the most well known set of tutorials is by Mark Dawson. At the very least, check out his free offerings.

The Empathic Detective is published!

It’s out! The Empathic Detective: A Mystery Thriller is up for sale on Amazon, at $2.99.

Click the cover!

Click the cover!

The Empathic Detective is up for pre-order!

The Empathic Detective is up for pre-order, and everyone who nominated it on Kindle Scout should be getting their e-mail from Amazon detailing how to download their free copy!

If you missed out on nominating the book, you can pre-order a copy for $2.99 by clicking here.

Thanks again for all your support, and please leave a review for the book. It will be released for sale on May 3.

Advertising for Indie Authors Part 3: Twitter

Running an ad campaign on Twitter provides some interesting benefits. If you’ve ever tweeted something out and wondered how successful it was, once you become a Twitter advertiser you’ll get tools that let you see performance stats on all your tweets. That alone is worth the price of admission, in my opinion. Once logged into Twitter, under your Profiles and Settings, click Twitter Ads to get started.

Twitter provides some good info on what people do with your tweets. Under the Analytics page, you can see your most popular tweets, find the number of impressions they made (number of times they showed up for other people), the number of engagements, and the engagement rate percentage. Obviously, those tweets with a higher engagement rate are more successful than others.

Engagements include detail expansions, likes, when a user clicks on your profile from the tweet, retweets other users give you, clicks on links in the tweet, number of people who decided to follow you after reading the tweet, hashtag clicks, and engagement with media linked in the tweet.

Under Promotions, Twitter lets you pay to keep a tweet active. For instance, it can show up in your followers’ tweet streams or stay near the top of a hashtag list. Twitter will offer goals for your tweets, such as link clicks, or additional followers. These vary by price. The more you pay, the longer the tweet stays active, and the greater number of results. Ten dollars is a reasonable sum to play around with to get a feel for what you’re doing.

Twitter ads can easily get expensive, but they do seem to be one way to spread the word about a book. Again, book sales seem to be a numbers game. If a hundred people look at your book’s page online, maybe a few will buy it. Paying too much for people to look at the page will quickly outstrip the royalties received from sales.

 

The Empathic Detective is Selected for Publication

Many thanks to all who nominated The Empathic Detective on Kindle Scout. The Kindle Press team has selected it for publication. If you nominated it, Amazon will send details on how to obtain your free copy in the coming weeks.

Final Few Days to Nominate The Empathic Detective

We’re in the home stretch, and these are the final few days to nominate The Empathic Detective on Kindle Scout. If they publish the book, you’ll get a free Kindle copy! Take a moment to head over to my campaign page and nominate it.

Thanks!

Click the cover!

Click the cover!

Less than two weeks left to nominate The Empathic Detective

We’ve left less than two weeks to go for you to nominate The Empathic Detective on Kindle Scout. Remember, if Kindle Press decides to publish the book, those who nominated it will receive a free copy from Amazon.

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