How To Plan And Write A Series of Novels: 5 Tips

How To Plan And Write A Series of Novels: 5 Tips

You want to write a series of novels. Perhaps you’re writing a novel, and the thought occurs to you: “Hey! I could make this a series…” Alternatively, you decide you want to write a series, from scratch.

Your genre doesn’t matter. All series of novels are similar, in that they feature strong characters, who appeal to readers, because they are strong. Consider: Winston Graham’s Poldark series, Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple, and even Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series.

So your first step is to choose your character. You may already have a character you’ve created, or you can create a character who appeals to you, and with whom you can stand to live with over the course of a series. Remember: strong. No whiners. No characters who are TSTL (too stupid to live.)

Your character will contain elements of YOU, as James Bond contains elements of Ian Fleming:

“Though Bond suffered his share of seemingly autobiographical health issues—in Thunderball the spy begins to acknowledge that his heavy drinking may be a problem, and by On Her Majesty’s Secret Service he’s definitively in the throes of alcoholism—he always comes out on top.”

Your character is you, in some form, that’s inevitable. But remember that your character is NOT you. So don’t get squeamish. Put your character through hell — and have him come out on top — and readers will love it.

1. Choose your poison: family saga, on-going quest, or…?

Think about how you’ll tie your series together. If you’re writing romance, you could create a family of three brothers, and tell one brother’s story in each book.

I’m a fan of Phil Rickman’s Merrily Watkins’ series, and the Dalziel and Pascoe books, written by the late and wonderful Reginald Hill. These series are examples of on-going quests.

2. Create a problem that’s solved over the course of the series (optional)

This is optional. However, it’s helpful, because readers read your next book to see what happens next.

There’s a danger with this. What if you don’t make enough sales, and decide to kill the series? You’ll have irate readers wanting the solution to the problem, and you’re in no way inclined to write it… :-)

3. Write BIG: do your very best with each book

Take nothing for granted. Your first book in the series needs to be the absolute best you can do. Don’t skimp on editing, or anything else. That said, don’t become paralyzed in some insane desire for perfection. Do the best you can do, and watch your moods.

If you’re bored, everything you write will be boring. Snap out of it. Play music. Go out for a long drive. Writing a series takes lots of energy. Keep your own energy levels up.

4. Keep track: Fred has blue eyes, or are they brown?

Keep a spreadsheet which includes character and location information, as well as major incidents in each book. It’s easy to forget these things. Readers won’t forget them however, so neither must you. :-)

5. Schedule it: get it written

Planning a series is a lot more fun that writing it, at least sometimes. Start writing as soon as you feel you have handle on what you want to do, and write every day, even if it’s only 100 words.

Tips for writing series:

  • Use Scrivener. I’m not pushing this writing app onto you. I recommend it because makes your life easier. You can keep your entire series in ONE project in Scrivener, and move from one book to another. When you get bored writing something in book 1, work on book 2.
  • Use the tags and collections features in Scrivener. They’ll help you to see everything you’ve written which mentions a character, or an incident, or location,  together. It’s amazing what you’ll pick up this way.
  • Write every day. Play “what if” every day, so you keep surprising yourself.
  • Remember where you are. Create maps of rooms, houses, locations… and speaking of locations…
  • Be somewhere. Orient your reader. If you confuse, you lose (readers.)

Writing a series of novels can be huge fun. Get excited about what you’re creating, and stay excited. If you can manage to do that, you’ll excite readers, and will make sales.

New to writing fiction? Start with short fiction

Discover our new program for fiction writers. Here’s why you should consider writing short stories. Three reasons. They’re fast to write, they can teach you a lot, and they pay.

, on Twitter: @angee, and find Angela on Pinterest, too.

How to profit from your writing: online store.

Ulysses Writing Apps: Easy Writing On Your Mac and iPad

Writing Apps: Ulysses on Your Mac and iPad

I adore playing with writing apps. Although I say “playing”, trying out apps is serious business. If I can find an app which makes any part of the writing process easier, and/ or saves time, it’s well worth the investment.

As you may know, I’m a Scrivener aficionado. I’ve been using it for a decade, and love it. However, I primarily use Scrivener for long-form content. Although bloggers use it, I’ve never found it appealing for writing blog posts, or for any short content.

There’s a problem with Scrivener too. It’s a struggle to switch machines and continue working on a project. Ideally, you’d be able to stop work on your desktop machine, then carry on working on your iPad. Yosemite’s provided Macs with Handoff, so you can keep working on a document across your machines.

Today, the writing life means using the cloud

Today, cloud computing is essential. That is — your files need to live somewhere other than just on your computer, because we spend a lot of time away from our primary working machines. Indeed, some writers write entirely on their phone, or tablet.

Several of my writing students tell me that they write solely on their iPad. Their desktop machines are old, or they don’t have a desktop computer at all.

Since the Ulysses app’s latest update, I find myself doing much more writing in Ulysses. Client projects, ideas for books, blog posts, email messages, Web pages, reports… everything lives in the Ulysses’ library. And that library lives in the cloud. That means that I don’t need to worry about switching desktop machines. I can even work on my iPad, with Ulysses for iPad.

Wherever I go, I can work on whatever I was working on before I left my office. Not only does that save time, because I can use any spare moment I have to write, it’s freeing. I don’t have to make notes to myself in Evernote for projects; I can work on a project directly, in a client’s office, in a cafe, or even in my car.

There’s another huge benefit: transparent backups. Of course, you still need backups, but the cloud provides a measure of security that you won’t lose documents you’ve slaved over for days and months, should a backup fail. (And they do. Don’t ask… :-))

What’s Ulysses?

The Ulysses editor, preview and palettes
The Ulysses editor, preview and palettes

Ulysses is a Markdown text editor, which stores all your documents in a library. You write in plain text, with Markdown markup, and your documents are synced across all your computers, and your iPad too.

In the image above, you can see the Ulysses text editing window, the document preview in HTML, and two palettes: document information (word count etc), and document navigation.

I’ve written about Ulysses a couple of times on my freelance writing blog. However, for all the gen on Ulysses, you’ll want to read bestselling author David Hewson; he’s written about Ulysses at length.

I bought David’s excellent ebook on Ulysses; it’s packed with useful tips. He’s also got a slew of must-read blog posts on the app. Until I read David’s book, I was pleased with Ulysses, but wasn’t aware of its full power. It packs an amazing amount into a small app.

Who’s Ulysses for?

Anyone who writes a lot, and likes to keep their documents accessible across machines. There’s a free trial, so check it out. It may become your favorite tool, as it’s fast becoming mine.

If you struggle with writing…

Try the writing methods I’ve developed in over 30 years of writing. The Easy-Write Process will end your struggles. It makes writing a joy, rather than a chore.

, on Twitter: @angee, and find Angela on Pinterest, too.

How to profit from your writing: online store.

Write A Book On Your iPad

Write A Book On Your iPad

You want to write a book. Can you do it on your iPad? I heard that one writer wrote a bestseller on her phone, but nevertheless my reaction to writing an entire book on an iPad would be: heck, no!

That said, I do spend a lot of time writing in Evernote on my phone and iPad, so I may need to rethink that attitude. Maybe you could write a book in Evernote. Here’s an example of someone who did that:

”For author and chief Business Insider correspondent Nicholas Carlson, Evernote was the primary tool he used to write a 93,000 word book. In six weeks.”

Uh huh. (Confession: the thought of writing an entire book in Evernote makes me cringe. I’ve been a Scrivener fan since the app hatched, and have no wish to change. I’m comfortable in Scrivener.)

Unfortunately, Scrivener hasn’t come out with their iPad app yet. Ulysses has.

Ulysses for iPad can help you write your book

I love Ulysses for Mac, especially their new update, and Ulysses is now an iPad app.

Bestselling author David Hewson loves the iPad app:

“I’ve never been a great fan of typing on the iPad but Ulysses has changed my opinion. This is very good for writing thanks to an extended keyboard. The best way to learn what this does is to play with it. First, get used to the very handy way it offers for moving through text. Just swipe right and left in the space bar and the cursor moves through your words. This is much easier than trying to click on the screen. There’s a configurable word count on the left followed by shortcuts above the letter keys for adding markup and common punctuation.”

I’m not a fan of typing on the iPad either, but if David says it works, I may need to try it.

What about you? Could you write a book on an iPad?

Are you taking advantage of the boom in short fiction?

According to Samuel Johnson, “no one but a blockhead wrote except for money”, and if you’re looking for a way to boost your fiction income, consider writing SHORT fiction.

, on Twitter: @angee, and find Angela on Pinterest, too.

How to profit from your writing: online store.

Pricing Kindle Ebooks: Free, Cheap, or Expensive?

Pricing Kindle Ebooks: Free, Cheap, or Expensive?

You’re a self-publisher, and you’re concerned about pricing your Kindle ebooks. Over the past week, I’ve had many questions about pricing from our Sell Kindle Ebooks authors. (Thank you for making the program such a success, by the way. :-) We’re thrilled it’s helping you.)

Pricing is always contentious. Should you slavishly follow trends and fashions? What about KDP Select and Kindle Unlimited???

It’s impossible to offer a one-size-fits-all strategy for pricing your ebooks. There are too many variables, including:

  • YOU: what are your aims and goals? Where are you in your self-publishing ventures — do you have a catalogue, or are you publishing your first ebook? Are you selling only on Amazon, or are you selling elsewhere? (and on, and on…)
  • What’s the pricing like in your category or genre? What’s the most common price for self-publishers there?
  • Are you “training” a readership? That is, are you building a platform, and looking a year or two ahead?
  • Are you creating a funnel — writing a serial, or series, and plan to make the first ebook free at some stage?
  • Are you bundling?

Consider YOUR situation. It will be different from other authors. Make a list of what you want. (And please write the list, don’t try to keep it in your head.) It’s essential to assess where you are, because unless you know, you’ll have doubts, and will change your pricing at whim.

This brings us to our first tip…

1. Have a Reason for Your Price

I suggest you write down where you are, because you need to have a reason for your pricing. You need to be comfortable with it. Don’t bother explaining your reasons to others. As we’ve said, your situation is always unique. Find your reason, assess your comfort zone, and then…

2. Set the Price, and Change It Slowly (or Not at All)

Once you’ve set a price for your ebook, be wary of changing it for at least three months. Give the ebook a chance. If you want to change the price, make a list of the reasons, especially if you’re a new author, with a small catalogue.

My suggestion: in your first year of self-publishing, focus on your writing, and building your catalogue. Publish often. Avoid checking your stats. Check them once a week if you must. Be strong, and check them once a month.

3. Watch the Top Sellers in Your Category, and Price Accordingly

Check the top sellers in your category. Keep a spreadsheet of dates, titles, and pricing. See when the top sellers change their pricing: they may do it because they’re advertising a title somewhere. Check out the websites of the top sellers too. What else are they publishing? What’s their strategy?

Read widely, and spend time on Amazon, as well as the other ebook retailers. Over time, you’ll develop a feel for pricing your ebooks. Your audience will tell you what they want. You may publish an ebook at $2.99 and it goes nowhere. You decide to raise the price to $5.99 and increase your sales. Or you decide to offer a title free, and then increase the price on other titles in the series.

Stop Worrying About Pricing

Write the best books you can. Focus on your readers, always. Your pricing strategies will develop, in line with what your readers want. Read, write, and publish. Although it may not seem like it, pricing is a small issue in your overall ebook publishing program.

Worried About Pricing? Focus on Your Platform

Sell Kindle Ebooks includes our bestselling Your Write to Sell System; it will help you to become confident with writing, promotion, and pricing. Enjoy. :-)

, on Twitter: @angee, and find Angela on Pinterest, too.

How to profit from your writing: online store.

Writing Nonfiction Ebooks When You Don’t Know What to Write

Writing Nonfiction Books When You Don't Know What to Write

You’re considering writing nonfiction ebooks for the Kindle. We discussed that in Kindle publishing, you can write something once, and sell it forever. Experienced writers always have stacks of material on their hard drive which they can use to write many nonfiction ebooks, quickly.

But what if you’re a new writer? You don’t have a stash of material you can publish. You’d love to self-publish, so how do you get started?

Writing Nonfiction Ebooks: Easy Ideas

Getting started is easy. Let’s look at the easiest way you can develop ideas: just focus on your readers. Your readers are all-important. Focus on them, and you’ll make sales.

Here’s a fast way to brainstorm ideas by focusing on readers.

  1. Choose a topic.
  2. Is your reader new to the topic? Write introductions to your topic. What challenges will this reader experience? Examine pitfalls.
  3. Is your reader experienced in the topic? What could he do more quickly and less expensively? Share insider secrets.

Brainstorm Ideas for Each Group of Readers

Let’s say you chose the topic: healthy cooking for non-cooks. You selected the topic because it speaks to your life experience. You have two young children and a busy life. You know that nutrition is all-important, and the easiest way to make sure that your family’s eating well is to cook yourself.

To get started, you divide your readers into several groups:

  • Readers completely new to cooking — they have no experience in shopping and cooking at all;
  • Readers who have some experience in cooking, but no experience in healthy cooking;
  • Readers who want to cook healthy food for children;
  • Readers who need to lose weight and want to learn to cook healthy meals which will help them to slim down.

Once you’ve segmented your readers in this way, it’s easy to write ebooks which will appeal to your audience. The more you can target a specific group of readers, the more easy your ebooks will be to write… and the more copies of each ebook you’ll sell. (You’ll find more information in Nonfiction Goldmine, which is part of our Sell Kindle Ebooks program.)

Vital Tip: Don’t Brainstorm in Your Head, Write It Down

Writing always begets writing. Once you’ve found a topic, you’ll be amazed at how quickly you can brainstorm ideas. Just write everything down. :-)

Want to Sell Kindle Ebooks? You Can. People Want Information. They’re Happy to Pay for It

Nonfiction Goldmine: Write and Sell Nonfiction In 24 Hours Or Less is part of our Sell Kindle Ebooks program.

This comprehensive self-publishing program helps you to make the most of your talents. Take advantage of the power of Amazon to write both genre fiction, AND nonfiction. It’s time to develop a publishing program, and tell your day job goodbye.

, on Twitter: @angee, and find Angela on Pinterest, too.

How to profit from your writing: online store.

Your Kindle Publishing Career: WordPress Blogging

Your Kindle Publishing Career: WordPress Blogging

Your Kindle publishing career is taking off — yippee! — and you’ve been encouraged to blog. Blogging’s an essential marketing tool for publishers, whether tiny or huge. But it all seems so complicated. How do you even get started?

WordPress blogging’s much less complicated then it used to be. As long as you’ve registered your own domain, most hosting companies offer “one-click” installs of WordPress. You can set up a blog within a minute or two, just by creating a new directory, deciding what you want to call your blog, and entering your chosen user name and password.

Hey presto: you’re now the proud owner of a WordPress blog… But what’s next?

Next, you can either start blogging immediately, or you can install a theme suitable for authors and book marketers, and some plugins. WordPress plugins are magic. They can turn a blog into anything you want it to be.

MUST You Use WordPress?

A couple of authors told me that they felt they “must” use WordPress. That’s nonsense. You can use anything that makes sense to you. I’ve tried just about every popular blogging service, and there’s none that’s inherently better than another. It all depends on what you want to do.

WordPress is powerful, it’s easily modified with themes and plugins, and it’s fun to use, because it’s so customizable. However, it’s not essential. I’ve got blogs on Typepad, Blogger, and Tumblr — and I’m sure on other services too that I can’t recall. I try everything, because I enjoy it, and because I blog for several clients. Each and every platform has its benefits and its challenges.

WordPress Themes for Authors

I’ve been blogging since 1999, so I’m not a huge fan of messing around with themes. Here’s why: WordPress is constantly updated. Sometimes these updates are essential security updates, so you can’t avoid them. Updates tend to break themes.

After coming close to tearing my hair out many times, and spending way too much money on themes, I favor the themes created by the WordPress team. Since I made my “stick to default themes” decision, I’ve had a much less technically-challenged time blogging.

Twentyfourteen is the current default theme; I’ve been meaning to install it on a test blog, but haven’t got around to it yet. It’s a gorgeous magazine-style theme.

You’ll find themes for writers and authors all over the Web; Jane Friedman shares five themes, for example. I’ve heard several writers give the Dazzling theme kudos too.

WordPress Plugins for Authors

As with themes, so with plugins. The choice is endless. Plugins help you to turn WordPress into almost anything.

Here are several plugins for authors.

Author Wordcount Plugin

Author Wordcount shares your daily word count, and your word count goal.

MyBooktable Plugin

I’ve heard many authors endorse MyBooktable, so it’s worth seeing if the plugin meets your needs. Basically, it’s an online storefront, which links directly to Amazon and other ebook retailers.

Ultimate Book Blogger Plugin

You may not want to develop a career as a book blogger. However, reviewing other authors’ books does help you to win friends and influence people, so the Ultimate Book Blogger plugin may appeal to you.

Disclosure: I’m Not Specifically Recommending Any of These Themes or Plugins

I haven’t used any of the items, so I can’t recommend them based on experience. However, I’ve heard good things about these products, so give them a try if they appeal to you.

Kindle Author? You’re a Publisher Now, and Our New Program Will Help

Introducing… Sell Kindle Ebooks: Write Bestselling Genre Fiction & Nonfiction FAST… This comprehensive self-publishing program helps you to make the most of your talents. Take advantage of the power of Amazon to write both genre fiction, AND nonfiction.

It’s time to develop a publishing program, and tell your day job goodbye.

, on Twitter: @angee, and find Angela on Pinterest, too.

How to profit from your writing: online store.

Ebook Cover Design: Try These Free Fonts

Are you writing and self-publishing your own ebooks? You don’t need an expensive ebook cover design, although it’s nice to have one. Many of my students fret needlessly over their ebook covers. Even if you’re not a designer, you can create your own design. Here’s what helps: a couple of great fonts for your cover.

Big tip: if you’re writing a serial or series, as many of my Story Power students are,  make a note of the fonts you used when create your first cover design. Using the same fonts will brand your series/ serial. I keep a note with the font names in the same folder as the ebook, to make sure I remember what I used.

Here’s an excellent collection of 26 free fonts, some of which are perfect for ebook covers.

ebook cover design

Serendipity, the above typeface, is included in the collection.

Tips for creating your own cover designs

  1. Check the covers of bestselling ebooks in your fiction genre, or in your category, if you’re publishing nonfiction. Illustrations are popular in some genres;
  2. Rough designs out on paper first, so you get the balance right;
  3. Use stock images judiciously, and read the terms of service for the image you’re licensing;
  4. Be aware of Amazon’s advice regarding cover image size;
  5. PicMonkey is an easy, free online image editor you can use to make ecovers. (You can use your own fonts in the app.)

 Sell Kindle Ebooks: Write Bestselling Genre Fiction & Nonfiction FAST (New)

This comprehensive self-publishing program helps you to make the most of your talents. Take advantage of the power of Amazon to write both genre fiction, AND nonfiction. It’s time to develop a publishing program, and tell your day job goodbye.

, on Twitter: @angee, and find Angela on Pinterest, too.

How to profit from your writing: online store.

Join Fiction Writing Profits: Free Mini-Course

Fiction Writing Profits
Fiction Writing Profits: Join now

Just getting started on your fiction writing career? Fiction Writing Profits will help. It’s for new writers, and established writers who are making the switch to fiction. Each week, we receive messages from writers asking about fiction, and whether they can make it work for them. In other words: is fiction a profitable option for writers?

In a word: YES. It’s by no means a “get rich quick” solution to writing woes. However, it can develop as an additional income stream, because fiction outsells nonfiction 6 to 1 on the Kindle store. That said, some hard-working authors are making hundreds of thousands of dollars each month from their fiction. Who knows: you may be able to turn fiction into a profitable writing career.

What do you receive when you subscribe to Fiction Writing Profits?

You receive a free report, “Short Stories For Fun And Money: Write Short Fiction”, and a free mini-course. You also receive news, tips, and advice. And you receive prelaunch offerings on any fiction writing programs we release going forward.

Is Fiction Writing Profits for you? Only you know that. :-) If you know me from my Fab Freelance Writing Blog or from social media, you know that I’ve been helping writers to make money online since around 1998. Here’s why. When I started writing, back when we used typewriters and postal mail, writing help was hard to find. Many editors and publishers helped me. Not only am I paying it forward, I love writing about the changing landscape for writers.

So, since writing fiction is now a viable opportunity for professional writers, I’ve decided to create Fiction Writing Profits. I hope you’ll join us. I also hope that you’ll feel free to ask questions, and share your challenges, as well as  your successes.

Click here to join.


, on Twitter: @angee, and find Angela on Pinterest, too.

How to profit from your writing: online store.

Writing Fiction: Series Magic (and Profits)

Writing Fiction: Series Magic (and Profits)

You’re writing fiction, and you’re eager for ways to build your readership. Book marketing is essential, but it’s a struggle for many authors. Some are comfortable, others hate the idea of promoting their books. However, promotion is essential.

What if there were a way you could promote your self-published ebooks painlessly? There is, and it’s simple: write in series. (Or write a serial.)

When You Write in Series, You’re Baking-in Promotion

The “write a series” trick is often used by publishers. Rather than signing an author to a single book contract, they’ll offer the author a multi-book contract. They know that when a reader buys Book 1 of a series, if the reader enjoys it, she’s primed for further books in the series. It’s a painless way of baking in promotion.

Self-published and ebook authors can make this process work much more easily than authors who are traditionally published. Here’s why. A genre novel has a shelf-life of anywhere from a month, to three months. Then the novel is remaindered.

Of course, if you’re publishing ebooks, your ebooks sell forever, so it makes sense to write in series. Readers who buy one book, may buy another. And of course, if you wish, you can make Book 1 of the series free, once you’ve published several books in the series.

But… What if Your First Book in a Series Doesn’t Sell?

If Book 1 doesn’t sell, it can be a sign that you haven’t found the book’s readership. This is why I suggest in our Story Power program that you test your ideas by writing short fiction.

For new authors, committing to a series without any signal that the series will sell doesn’t make sense. In Story Power, we look at ways in which you can expand your short stories into serials, and into series as well.

Sell What’s Selling… or Create Your Own Market

It’s a real challenge to build a market. So ideally, when you’re starting a fiction career, it’s a good idea to aim for a popular genre, like romance, or thrillers, where a healthy market exists. That said, consider that the market for your short stories and novels is global. With hundreds of millions of readers, choosing a genre based on popularity isn’t as important as it is if you’re hoping for legacy publication.

Check your favorite genre. How many authors are publishing series? You’ll be hard-pressed to find a genre in which series aren’t popular.

Whether you’re writing your first novel, or your twentieth, consider the benefits of writing in series, especially if you dislike marketing.

Learn More About Series and Serials, and the Benefits of Short Fiction

In Story Power: Write and Sell Short Fiction – Short Stories, Serials, and Series, you’ll discover many ways in which you can make fiction pay. You’ve got a global market: build your readership, and you can build a satisfying career.

, on Twitter: @angee, and find Angela on Pinterest, too.

Get coaching, and build your skills at Angela’s online store.

Write Short Fiction: What’s a Serial?

Write Short Fiction: What's a Serial?

As you may know, I’m a huge fan of short fiction. Here’s why. Writing short fiction is both sensible, and profitable.

For new writers, writing a short story is a lot easier than writing (and finishing) a novel. Experienced writers can test ideas with short stories, and can win a new audience for their novels when they release shorter works regularly.

We talked about what a short story was yesterday on the freelance writing blog. Today, let’s look at what a serial might be.

In general terms, a serial publication just means regular installments of a story, or TV show, or magazine. In self-publishing, let’s define a serial as a series of ebooks which tell a story episode by episode.

The story is incomplete, so readers need to read each episode. Some readers enjoy this, others don’t. Tip: make sure that your book description mentions that this is a serial, not a complete story. Readers need to know what they’re getting.

You’ll find writers offering series/ serials as ebooks on the ebook retailers, with various degrees of success. As far as I know, there hasn’t been a breakout hit in serial format, unless you count 50 Shades of Grey, in its earliest fan fiction incarnations.

How to Write a Serial — Write and Publish a Short Story

You can write a serial in various ways:

* Expand a published, successful short story into a serial (we discuss this in Story Power);

* Chop up an already-written novel into episodes;

* Write a serial from scratch.

I prefer the first method; here’s why. Your aim is to build your readership, so you want readers to look forward to each new release. When you expand a short story which is selling, you know that the story works. Few novels can be sliced into a serial without a lot of rewriting. And if you write a serial from scratch, as soon as you release the first part, you’re committed to writing, and releasing the next episodes on a schedule. What if they don’t sell?

Is Short Fiction in Your Future?

Short fiction is fun to write, and it can be profitable. Why not experiment with serials? You’ll boost your readership — or develop one — and will build a fiction writing career.

Check out Story Power: it’s a complete workshop in writing “snackable” fiction.

, on Twitter: @angee, and find Angela on Pinterest, too.

Get coaching, and build your skills at Angela’s online store.

The BEST Kindle Book Marketing Tip

In the past 30 days, 78,000 ebooks have been added to Amazon’s Kindle Bookstore. This means that book marketing isn’t optional. If you don’t market, your books just won’t be found. Let’s look at the best Kindle marketing tip.

Here it is. Market to your readers.

Book marketing starts before you write your book

I’ve been urging my students and readers to do this since at least 2006. Savvy authors just do it. They know that it’s essential. However, when working with students who’ve published many books, and are rapidly building their catalogue on Amazon, I’m still amazed at how little attention they pay to marketing to readers.

Prepare for readers when you prepare the upload of your new ebook

Prepare by creating a mailing list. Choose the list provider of your choice. MailChimp has become popular in the past few years. I’m a longterm user of Aweber, so I stick with what I know;  Aweber is reliable, and has fantastic customer service.

(Scroll down the bottom of this post to watch the video, if you’re not sure how to set up a mailing list.)

Once you’ve created your reader’s list in Aweber, or elsewhere, put the code onto a Web page. If you don’t have a website, create a quick page on Strikingly. It’s fast, free and your page will look great.

Now put the URL to your webpage in the back matter of your ebook with a simple call to action: “Click here for updates to further releases.”

No, you don’t need anything else… anything else is optional

When I suggest that authors ask readers to subscribe to a mailing list, they want to make it complicated. Please don’t.

Yes, it’s good to give readers a gentle inducement to join, by offering a goodie, but it’s not essential. If your readers want to hear from you, they’ll add their email address — give them the opportunity to do so.

Mailing list providers: broadcasts and sequences

Your mailing list provider offers two ways for you to send messages to your reader list: via a broadcast, or via a sequence.

A broadcast message is just what it sounds like. It’s a message which is broadcast/ sent out to readers as soon as you hit the Send button, or at a time you schedule.

A sequence of messages is sent out to all subscribers of your list. Your sequence can be a single message, or a thousand. You upload your messages, and decide the interval at which they’ll be sent. Sequencing messages becomes enormously useful when you’re promoting multiple books.

Consider this scenario. You’re an established indie. You have 25 ebooks on Amazon, both fiction, and nonfiction. You set up your mailing list for readers just before you upload your next ebook. You provide a link to the webpage where readers can subscribe in the back matter.

Your sequence looks like this:

  1. A “thank you for subscribing” message
  2. A message promoting one of your ebooks. You give a short blurb, and ask readers to check out the ebook
  3. The rest of the sequence: 24 messages, each one promoting an ebook

Each time you publish an ebook, add a message to your sequence… and send a broadcast

When you publish your next message, you create two messages for your mailing list. You send out a broadcast: “Check out my latest book”, and you add another message to your sequence.

Edit your ebooks to add links to your list’s webpage whenever you have time

Whenever you have a moment, add the link to your mailing list page to the end of one of your published ebooks. Over time, you’ll add them to all your books.

As readers buy your books, they’ll sign up to your mailing list. This can make a big difference to your sales, going forward.

Create your mailing list: it’s your best ebook marketing tip

Once it’s set up, you don’t need to concern yourself with your mailing list overly much. Yes, you can promote it if you wish. But your primary task is to get it set up, so that it can start working for you.

Set up your list today… :-)

Video — Book Marketing Made Easy: Create a Mailing List

Creating a mailing list to get in touch with your readers, and stay in touch with them, is the easiest way to market your books.

As I said in the blog post above… No, you don’t need anything else… anything else is optional. You just need a mailing list which is populated by a sequence of automatic messages.

Please subscribe to my Writing Genii channel via YouTube for more videos on writing and marketing books.

Idea Magic: discover how to turbocharge all your writing

Ideas matter. Your ideas build your career. Discover how to get more and better ideas (ideas which sell) with Idea Magic.


, on Twitter: @angee, and find Angela on Pinterest, too.

Get coaching, and build your skills at Angela’s online store.

Writing a Bestseller in Nonfiction: Get a Hook

You’re writing a bestseller in nonfiction – you hope it will be a bestseller, and you’ve got your fingers crossed. Forget about luck. If you pick the right hook, your book will sell.

I talked about the importance of hooks here, and I can’t emphasize your HOOK enough. If you want your book to sell, and sell well, your hook is everything.

Your hook gets attention: it’s the first thing people read

When I’m working with my ghostwriting clients, we look at the hook first, before anything else. In a real sense, when you’re writing nonfiction, and fiction too for that matter, your hook is all that counts.

Check out Amazon’s top nonfiction books of the month. Each and every one of the them has a hook, otherwise it wouldn’t be there. Your hook gets attention, and ideally, it targets a specific audience.

What’s your hook?

When I’m discussing hooks with writing students, we look at Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Years ago, an editor said to me: “Write about diets and dating, and you’ll sell.” She’s right. Diets (physiological) and dating (love/belonging) are vital needs.

Think about where your book’s subject matter fits in Maslow’s hierarchy.

Let’s say you’re writing a book about job-hunting. Your topic fits into safety needs, which is the second highest need. You could create a brilliant hook out of that.

Self-publishing? Put your hook in your book’s title

Occasionally a student will try to cream his book’s title with keywords. I suggest that he leave the keywords for his description, and also use them as they’re meant to be used, in the keyword tags. As Amazon indicates, don’t use keywords which repeat: “Information covered elsewhere in your book’s metadata—title, contributor(s),  category, etc.”

Your title is the first thing people read. It may be the only thing they read. So put your hook in the title, rather than cramming it with keywords. If you hook enough readers, you’ll have a bestseller.

Idea Magic: think bigger

Most writers think too small. If you’re interesting in devoting 60 seconds to creating big paydays fast, check out Idea Magic.

, on Twitter: @angee, and find Angela on Pinterest, too.

Get coaching, and build your skills at Angela’s online store.

When you’re writing historical romance  (or anything historical), please research.

I’ve been writing Regencies, and the material on the Web which is available at a click is mind-blowing. To repeat… the material is available at a click. Yes, confirm information  from a few sources, but do try to get your facts right. You’ll make mistakes. As a reader, I’ll forgive a lot, but not a constant stream of errors.

I enjoyed this review, although I wager the book’s author didn’t:

“4) Here’s a few more – they are installed in the house owned by the Marquess, formerly belonging to his grandmother, and none of the society gossip-mongers wonders about this? And her mother’s old friend, Lady Caroline, offers to get them vouchers for Almacks? Not if she isn’t a patroness she won’t. And what is the deal with a bunch of men suddenly paying visits to the 5 women in their home? Without ever being introduced, since they had not yet been into society? I don’t think so. Just as they would have had a hard time being invited to the Duchess of Dorset’s ball without having been properly introduced and vetted for their acceptability into society first.”

My apologies to the book’s author for calling out this review. I haven’t read the book. For all I know it’s excellent,  but  I’m using the review to point out the importance of research.

If you’re writing historicals, read others’ reviews of books set in your time period. You’ll soon get a feel for the woeful mistakes which rile readers.

Here’s what annoys me about this kind of thing: the author spends a lot of time writing the best book he or she can. With just a tiny amount of care, the book could be so much better — and sell better — and one-star reviews could be avoided.

, on Twitter: @angee, and find Angela on Pinterest, too.

Get coaching, and build your skills at Angela’s online store.

Writing a Novel: Pantsing Without Panicking

You’re writing a novel. Or you hope you are. You’re not sure, because you’re a pantser, and you know that at some stage your “novel” may fizzle. It’s happened before. Unlike plotters, we pantsers write, hoping for the best.

I’m a recovered pantser, because pantsing is impossible when you have deadlines. Nevertheless, I still pants at least three thousand words of each new novel. A beginning novelist who tackled NaNoWriMo last November asked me how turn her 50,000 words into a novel.

Here’s what I told her.

You only need two things for a novel to work as a commercial novel. (If you’re writing a literary novel, you’re on your own. :-)) You need: big trouble for your main character defined in a story question, and character arcs. Simple, right?

1. The story question: BIG trouble for your main character

Whether you follow the Hero’s Journey in your plotting or not, it’s useful because it reminds you that your main character starts off in his ordinary world. If you’re writing a New Adult novel, for example, your main character’s in college, or just out of college, and is worrying about getting a job, or hating her job.

You can’t spend too long in the character’s ordinary world, but you need to spend a little time there to acclimatize your reader.

If your readers don’t know your main character, they won’t care about her, and it won’t matter to them when bad things happen to her. So your first task is always to have your main character reveal himself.

Depending on your genre, you may not start your book in Ordinary World. Let’s say you’re writing a mystery, or a thriller. You want to start off with the killing. That’s fine. You have an opening scene in which the victim becomes a corpse. You’ll often see this initial “dead body” scene done as a prologue. In the next scene, we’re in Ordinary World, with your sleuth.

Next, we have the story question. As soon as possible, once you’ve had a couple of writing sessions in which you pants happily away, consider your characters, and brainstorm the story question. In the Hero’s Journey, the story question is introduced via the Call to Adventure.

In your New Adult novel, your story question might be: “does hopeless female nerd get hot billionaire?” In your mystery, your story question will be: “who killed _ (the corpse)?”

Keep your story question in mind. Once you’ve answered it, your novel is over.

Look at it this way. Once you’ve introduced your main character, and the ordinary world he lives in, you need a story question. Pantsers get in trouble either because they never latch onto a story question, or they have too many questions. They introduce a cast of ten characters, and 25,000 words later, they have a lot of good stuff, but can’t corral it into a story.

Your story question is essential. If you’ve pantsed 50,000 words, find the story question. Or choose one, and lose the rest. (Yes, it’s painful. But you must do it.)

2. Character arcs for your main character (or two of your characters, if you’re writing a romance)

So now you have some pantsed material, and at least one character. That character needs development. An arc. Veronica Sicoe has an excellent article on character arcs.

Don’t sweat it. Keep it simple. Here’s how I think of a character arc. The character has a flawed world view because of something which happened to him, or because he was born that way. By the end of the novel, his world view will be rearranged.

In most novels, you only have the space for one character arc. In romances, you have two, with your heroine having the fully developed arc.

Getting back to our nerd girl in the NA novel. She’s convinced she’s shy. She can’t believe hot billionaire is interested in her, etc. Start brainstorming how nerd girl develops. She changes, yes. Her nerd girl character remains the same, but her world view changes.

In our mystery, the sleuth is an alcoholic detective, a stereotype. Our challenge is to make him real, and to give him a before-and-after world view. Start brainstorming. It’s fun. You’ll know when you’re on the right track with your novel’s development when the characters start to feel real to you.

So there we have it, dear pantser. Pants as much as you like, but sooner or later, consider the story question, and your characters’ arcs.

Is it time to master self-publishing?

Become an indie with style and panache.


, on Twitter: @angee, and find Angela on Pinterest, too.

Get coaching, and build your skills at Angela’s online store.

Indie Publishing 2015: Write, Write, and Write

2015 Book Publishing Industry Predictions: Slow Growth Presents Challenges and Opportunities for Authors

Indie publishing has come of age, so it’s time to get to work. Take Mark Coker’s words to heart:
Back to basics: The bestselling authors in 2015 win with best practices – The formula for bestseller success isn’t rocket science. Success is all about best practices. For every well-executed best practice implemented by the author, the author gains an incremental advantage in the marketplace. What are some of these best practices? 1. The author must write a super-awesome “wow” book that takes the reader to an emotionally satisfying extreme (this rule applies to fiction as well as non-fiction)
 As we’ve said, it’s all about the emotions:-)

, on Twitter: @angee, and find Angela on Pinterest, too.

Get coaching, and build your skills at Angela’s online store.