Writing A Novel: NaNoWrimo And You

Writing A Novel: NaNoWrimo And You

You’re writing a novel, but you decided to skip NaNoWrimo this year. Or you started NaNoWrimo with huge enthusiasm, and stopped. Please don’t feel guilty. If you’re new to writing fiction, it’s almost certainly better for you to practice on short stories, rather than trying to complete even a short novel in a month.

Over the past week, I’ve received messages from writers who feel like failures. A couple wanted to do NaNoWrimo, but something came up. Several other writers started NaNoWrimo, and wrote steadily, but then stopped “just for today”. They didn’t start writing again.

Please don’t feel guilty. You’re not a failure as a novelist or anything else if you didn’t start NaNoWrimo, or if you started and quit. If you started, be glad of the experience, and cheer up. All the writing you do teaches you, and you’ve learned a lot, even if you think you’ve “failed.”

NaNoWrimo is a challenge for new novelists, because…

1. Novels are hard to control, even if you’re written one or more novels

Novels are very hard to control. Even if you’re someone who loves outlining, a novel takes off in directions you didn’t expect. Alternatively, if it doesn’t take off, and you hew closely to your outline, your characters never come alive. You begin to resent them, and stop caring about them.

Once you’ve gained a little experience, you’ll be thrilled when a novel takes off in unexpected ways, and you’ll know how to get it back on track. It’s almost impossible to do that without a few novels under your belt, however.

2. If you don’t write have a writing habit, writing 1,700 words a day is too much pressure

Here’s my goal for fiction every day: a thousand words. That’s all. Of course, I hope to write 3,000 words a day, or more, if I can. If I can’t, then 1,000 words is fine.

I’ve been writing for many more years than I care to think about, and I still keep my daily fiction word count goal low. Here’s why — pressure.

Fiction’s easy, as long as you can get yourself into a fictive dream while you’re writing. You can’t get yourself into this mind state when you’re feeling pressured, it’s impossible.

Setting yourself a word count goal of 1,700 words a day for NaNoWrimo is huge pressure.

Relax, give yourself time to build your writing muscles

Writing 50,000 words is hard. Turning those 50K words into a novel is even harder. If you’ve yet to complete your first novel, give yourself time. You have plenty of time, all the time in the world.

Here are two ways to prepare yourself to write your first novel.

1. Write ten short stories — take as long as you like

Yes, ten short stories. Take as long as you like to write those ten short stories. Writing short stories has one huge benefit: you get into the habit of completing your stories.

Some writers get into the habit of starting novels, and never completing them. Writing short stories is a great way to get into the habit of finishing what you start.

Every story hits a wall at some stage. When you have a little experience, you expect this. In fact, you realize that hitting the wall is a good thing. You’ve just got to find a way under, over, or through the wall. When you do this, you’ll complete your story.

2. Write for five minutes a day for a month

Writing fiction is very different from writing nonfiction. You need to pretend to be someone else, and write as someone else. You experience what your story person experiences, and you write about it.

Rather than scaring yourself to death by saying: “I’m writing a novel!” sneak up on it. Write fiction for five minutes a day, for 30 days. You don’t have to write more than a few sentences. Anything you get onto the computer screen is fine. You’re teaching yourself a new mindset.

Initially, you’ll feel uncomfortable. Soon, you’ll realize that imagining is fun. Then you’ll be well on your way.

You may even write a wonderful novel for NaNoWrimo next year.

Free writing programs to kickstart your 2016

Free writing programs

I won’t be blogging much between now and the end of January 2016. To help you to have a wonderful writing year next year, I’m offering you several of my older writing programs, completely for free.

Your first download is Six-Figure Writer’s Toolbox: From a Day Job to $500 a Day.

I hope that somewhere in the one of the free writing programs, you’ll have one major AHA! moment, which changes your writing life around.

BTW, an apology — the material’s unedited, so I know that there are some dead links and other kerfuffles in there. Please forgive.

Your first free download will arrive in an email message. More information here.

Kindle Author: Improve Your Ideas And Sell More Ebooks

Kindle Author: Improve Your Ideas And Sell More Ebooks

You’ve published an ebook, or perhaps more than one. Congratulations: you’re a Kindle author. I work with many authors and they all want one thing: more sales. We all want guaranteed bestsellers. But it’s impossible to guarantee a bestselling book, sadly.

That said, you can make it more likely that your ebooks will sell more copies, and with very little extra effort. Here’s how I know this. I work with authors every day. They make avoidable errors. Once they correct those errors, their ebooks start selling well.

Often not as well as they’d hoped, and for a simple reason: they haven’t baked-in sales potential. An author writes the book he wants to write, and gives little thought to his readers.

Make the decision: correct your authors’ tunnel vision

All authors have tunnel vision. I do, you do. It means that we’re focused on the writing. Readers don’t care about that. They want what they want — entertainment if you’ve written fiction, and useful, practical information if you’re writing nonfiction.

Long before you start writing, think about readers. What appeals to them? In this article, we’re discussing fiction, but you can use the same process for nonfiction too.

Start at the level of ideas.

Ideas sell, so before you start writing, focus on your ideas

I’m fond of saying that authors can write what they want. That’s true. You can write whatever you like. However, you also need to know what’s selling. Not so that you can slavishly go and clone the latest bestseller… although that does work for many writers.

The best reason to see what’s selling is so that you can work out why it’s selling. Here are the current bestsellers on Amazon.

I like to look at the top bestselling books at least once a month.

Check out the titles. Read the book descriptions, and the reviews. Make notes if you like, or don’t make any. The point of the exercise is that you’re starting to pay attention to what sells.

It’s surprising how many authors (both new, and veteran) focus solely on themselves. However, even if you want to get published the traditional way, the first thing an editor or agent will ask you is: “what’s this book like?”

You’d better be able to answer:

  • “It’s Harry Potter for adults”; or
  • “It’s a modern version of Pride and Prejudice”; or
  • “It’s for women interested in online dating”.

When someone asks you “what’s this book like?”, they’ll usually be able to work out who the book’s targeted at. If they can’t, that’s the next question: “who’s this book for?”

An editor or agent asks these kinds of questions, because they know that no one’s going to read your ebook, and then decide what it’s like, and who it’s for. You need to know that. Moreover, you can train yourself to think in these terms. If you can do that, you’ll write salable books.

You can train yourself to improve your ideas

When you start paying attention to what’s selling, you’ll start thinking in terms of salability, and you’ll have taken a huge step forward in your self-publishing career.

As we’ve said: you’re not trying to copy bestsellers, or clone them, or anything else. You’re trying to gauge the pulse of readers all over the world. Way back in the 1980s, I read a lot of gothic romances. Publishers are putting those books into the Kindle store these days. I’ve downloaded a few, and now dislike the way they were written.

That’s natural. Times change. What appealed to readers 40 years ago doesn’t appeal now.

When you train yourself to improve your ideas, your subconscious mind gets in on the act. It will start feeding you ideas, based on your own experiences, which will be in the spirit of what readers love today.

Start paying attention to what’s selling.

Make lists of ideas of ebooks you could write.

If an idea appeals, ask yourself: “what’s this book like?” and “who’s this book for?”.

If you can do that, you may not write an ebook which hits the top 100 bestsellers, but you will be a Kindle author who sells more ebooks.

Serial Fiction Bonanza: Get Readers, Get Fans — Make A Solid Income From Your Fiction FAST

Serial Fiction Bonanza: Get Readers, Get Fans — Make A Solid Income From Your Fiction FAST

Serial fiction has been around since the days of Charles Dickens. Self-publishing authors love it. Discover how to write serials in our new four week class. Coaching is included — you’re not writing alone.

By the end of the program, you’ll have published several episodes of your serial fiction. You’ll also be steadily marketing, while you’re writing and publishing.

Join us: you’ll have a lot of fun, and you’ll boost your fiction writing career.

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

Earn while you learn, with Angela’s Writing Classes..

Kindle Fiction: Free Marketing Tips

Kindle Fiction: Free Marketing Tips

You’re writing Kindle fiction. You’re not selling as many ebooks as you’d like. The solution? Marketing — and it can not only be free, it can be simple and easy as well.

Sophie, one of my Team Up students, had written two complete novels, and several short stories before we started working together. She was very disappointed with her sales. She hadn’t done any marketing.

I knew that Sophie had enrolled her novels in KDP Select, so I asked her how she was using her “free” days. That is, the five days which Amazon gives you in each three-month Select period, in which you can offer your ebook free for promotional purposes.

Why offer ebooks you want to sell for free? Because you’ll make more sales — the free ebooks lift your rank in Amazon, so more people see all your ebooks, and will buy them.

Sophie was startled. “How do you mean? Do I have to choose days?”

Yes, you need to tell Amazon which days you want. :-) In your KDP Dashboard, click on More Actions, then choose Promote and Advertise, and select the free promotion option. You’ll be able to choose the days you want.

Here are some tips on making the most of your KDP Select “free” days. They’re a brilliant sales opportunity, and used well, you’ll boost your ebooks’ ranks, and will make many more sales.

How to make the most of your KDP Select free days

You can offer an ebook free for five days in each three-month KDP Select period. To boost the effectiveness of an ebook’s free days, you need to advertise the free download as widely as you can.

1. Choose where you’ll promote your freebie

Before you choose which days you want in KDP Select, visit this link, and choose your advertising venues. Some sites have a waiting period.

Make a list of four or five venues, and take note of what lead-up time they require. Next, go back to your KDP Dashboard, and select your free day(s).

Then sign up for your free/ paid promotions on the promotional websites.

2. Don’t use your free days in a five-day block

I used to do this. It works, but… you can’t promote that novel for free, until your enrollment in your current Select period is over. I’ve found (and my students have found too) that they get just as many downloads if they space out their promotions.

I prefer to start with a two-day period, then leave it for a couple of months before using the final three-day period.

3. Promote your promotion on social media while it’s running

Create some advertising images to use on social media while your free download period is running. Then post the images during your promotion.

Obviously, the more followers you have the better. Increasing your follower count takes time, but it’s well worth the effort.

If you have a mailing (kudos to you!) obviously you’ll let your subscribers know about your freebie too.

Free sells, but use your promotions (and pricing), strategically

You’ll get a slight boost from your free days, even if that’s all you do. However, to get the best results, you need:

  • Several ebooks which readers can BUY;
  • To keep careful records of when you ran promotions, and how many downloads you received, as well as sales;
  • To write in SERIES, and serials… We have an entire program on writing serials. If you want to increase your Kindle income in the fastest way possible, write serials.

Have fun. :-)

Writing Serial Fiction is Easier, and in Many Ways More Profitable Than Writing Novels


Did you know that if you’re writing novel-length fiction, you’ll make more income if you turn your novel into a serial? And no, you can’t just chop up your novel into parts. :-) A serial is written as a serial. It hooks readers, so that they buy future episodes after they’ve bought the first one.

Serial Fiction Bonanza is your complete guide to writing serial fiction. It’s a four-week program, and you’ll love it. Coaching is included. It’s your chance to take a huge step forward in writing and selling fiction. Enjoy. :-)

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

Earn while you learn, with Angela’s Writing Classes..

Write Bestselling Fiction: Your Blurb Needs People (Blurb 2)

Write Bestselling Fiction: Your Blurb Needs People (Blurb 2)

If you’re writing fiction, you hope it will be bestselling fiction. Since that’s the case, your blurb (book description) has just one function: to get its readers to take action.

What action? You want readers to read the book’s sample. Ideally, you want them to go on to buy the book, or at the very least to remember the book and the author’s name.

(By “book”, I mean ebooks too, of course.)

I coach writers, so I read a lot of blurbs. I advise students to focus on people in their blurbs. Readers want to read about people, above all.

If you doubt this, consider your favorite novels:

  • In the Harry Potter books, who’s more important, Harry and his friends, or Hogwarts? (I know that both are important, but go along with me here… :-))
  • In Game of Thrones, do you remember the setting, or the characters?

PEOPLE: who are your characters, and why should we care?

Try this exercise.

Choose your three main characters, and write a one-sentence summary of each one. Yes, just one sentence. Include each character’s major flaw, as well as his biggest virtue.

Here’s an example. “At just 26, Demetria Jones had already had 26 jobs, and she was proud of that.”

Demetria’s flaw: she can’t hold a job. You sense that she’s slightly out of step with the rest of society — and she doesn’t care. Her virtue is that she’s willing to keep trying job after job.

Are you interested in Demetria? Many readers will be interested enough to keep reading, and that’s what you want your blurb to do — keep readers reading. Then you want them to read the ebook’s sample too.

Craft your one-sentence summary while you’re writing your novel

Here’s why you need to craft your character summaries while you write: so that you remember what you’re writing. It’s all too easy, when you’re writing a novel, to wonder off onto weird tangents.

Sometimes this works. You start a scene, and you don’t know quite where you’re headed with the scene, but it seems interesting, so you keep going. If you’ve crafted a one-sentence character summary for each character, that acts as a compass, and you won’t wander too far off track.

With parts 1 and 2 of this series, you now know enough to write excellent blurbs. Have fun. :-)

Read the first part of our “write a blurb which sells” series

This article is the second in a series.

In Writing Fiction To Sell: Your Blurb’s An Advertisement, Part 1, the first article in this series, we talked about the importance of clarity in writing your blurb. We also gave you a template, and some exercises.

Serial Fiction Bonanza: Get Readers, Get Fans — Make A Solid Income From Your Fiction FAST

Serial Fiction Bonanza: Get Readers, Get Fans — Make A Solid Income From Your Fiction FAST

Serial fiction has been around since the days of Charles Dickens. Self-publishing authors love it. Discover how to write serials in our new four week class. Coaching is included — you’re not writing alone.

By the end of the program, you’ll have published several episodes of your serial fiction. You’ll also be steadily marketing, while you’re writing and publishing.

Join us: you’ll have a lot of fun, and you’ll boost your fiction writing career.

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

Earn while you learn, with Angela’s Writing Classes..

Writing Fiction: Show It, Don’t Blow It

Writing Fiction: Show It, Don’t Blow It

You’re writing fiction: a novel. You’ve exhausted your first burst of enthusiasm. You can’t figure out where the story goes next. You’ve got 10,000 words of nothing.

Sadly, outlining doesn’t help. You’ve written an outline, and it has all the appeal of a jar of baby food. It’s bland. There’s no spark. You don’t care about your characters. You don’t even care about them enough to dislike them.

Relax. This kind of thing happens often. Look on the bright side — you’ve got 10K words, and that’s something. Here’s why you’ve lost your way: you’ve stopped feeling the emotions you’re aiming to portray. It’s easy enough to get them back.

Start by planning.

Plan and plot, to boost your enthusiasm

As I’ve mentioned many times, I’m not a great fan of outlines. I prefer organic outlining, as we discuss in Hot Plots. When you use ordinary outlines, you’ll try to force your characters where they don’t want to go. You’re fighting your creative self, which knows what’s best for your story.

Go back to basics.

Think about:

  • The setup (approximately a quarter of your novel, in which you set up your story. After you’ve set things up, you’re moving to…
  • The midpoint — what it says. This is the first big turning point of your story, where everything changes. Your story goes in a new direction. Next you head for…
  • Story twist number 2. Another turning point. Your main character has tried to change. It’s not working. Things look black, and you’re heading for…
  • The showdown. The make or break. The big fight your character needs to win. The story winds down, with…
  • The resolution. The killer’s identified in a mystery. The world’s saved in a thriller, and it’s hearts and flowers in a romance.

When you consider the above way markers for your story, you’re not writing an outline. You’re giving yourself points to hit. Over time, as you write more short stories and novels, and read them as well, you’ll recognize these way markers instinctively.

SHOW it, don’t blow it: put yourself, and your readers IN your story

Get a big sheet of paper, at least A3 size. Or grab a whiteboard. Make circles on the board. List your main characters down the side.

Fiction is about people. People who CHANGE, over the course of the story. In your first circle, write your main character’s name, and his situation and major attribute at the start of the story.

It’s your challenge to show your main character’s growth, and change, throughout the story. A “plot” means nothing if your character doesn’t change. You’ve heard of the character arc, and character development. That means change.

Let’s say that at the start of your story, a thriller, your main character, Lola, is a trader in a bank. She loves numbers. People make her shy, so she rarely stands up to anyone. She’s divorced with a small son.

Over the course of your story, you’ve got to show Lola change. She changes into someone who stands up for herself, and what’s right. She becomes a whistleblower: she saves the financial lives of hundreds of the banks’ small investors.

Using your sheet of paper, or whiteboard, start brainstorming scenes. Lola starts out as timid and becomes a heroine. What happens to her, and what does she do, along her journey?

When you’re done, slot your scenes into the basic “plot” we discussed above.

SHOW in every scene: see it, touch it, hear it, say it…

Now start writing a scene you want to write. Any scene. There’s no reason to write your story chronologically. Write any scene you like, from Lola’s point of view (POV) and BE Lola. Be there, in the moment.

If you can do that, your readers will be there with you. They’ll feel it.

Once you’re done with the scene, choose another scene, and write that one too. Keep BEING LOLA. When you feel it, you build your enthusiasm, and the words will flow.

Have fun… :-)

Hot Plots: Craft Hot-Selling Fiction in 5 Minutes (or less)

How To Write Commercial Fiction With Hot Plots

The big secret of making money from your fiction is writing a lot. And publishing strategically and consistently. Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program ensures that authors can make money from short stories, and all kinds of fiction. Moreover, whatever you’re publishing, you have a global audience.

You’re about to discover the easiest, fastest, and most fun plotting method ever. You can use it for all your fiction, whether you’re writing short stories, novellas or novels. Take control of your fiction now, and publish more, more easily. Discover Hot Plots.

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

Earn while you learn, with Angela’s Writing Classes..