Category Archives: Authors

New Author Tips: Easy Ideas For Fiction And Nonfiction

New Author Tips: Easy Ideas For Fiction And Nonfiction

One of the most popular questions I get from a new author is: “how do I know that my book will sell?” From an aspiring author, the most popular question is: “how do I know that my idea is a good one?”

The answer to the first question is — “write for a market, then do your best promoting your book. No one knows for sure.”

The answer to the second question is — “a good idea for you is an idea which has a market and which is EASY for you to write.”

Let’s talk about EASY ideas. For any author, not only for a new author, finding ideas which are easy for you to write is vital.

Are you a new author? Keep it simple and easy

Ideas are everywhere; not every idea is a good idea for you. If I gave you ten minutes, I’m sure you could come up with ten ideas for books.

They might be all great ideas, but here’s a secret from the world of professional writing. When a commercial writer is offered a gig, his first thought is: “What will this take?” In other words, how easy is the project?

Challenging projects take time. Clients are rarely prepared to pay for all the extra time a project consumes. So the professional’s primary aim is always to keep it simple and easy — or get the client to pay for extras — otherwise he doesn’t eat.

You can use the same question: “What will this take?” when you get an idea for a book. Time is money for you too. Most importantly: if you make a habit of choosing challenging ideas, you’ll end up with many partially-written books on your hard drive.

Ideas for fiction: write what you enjoy reading (keep research to a minimum)

My reading tastes are eclectic — I’ll read pretty much anything. Checking my home library however, and my Kindle library, it’s easy to see that I like historical romances from various time periods, mysteries and thrillers.

What do you like to read? If you like vampire novels and space operas, it may be hard for you to write a contemporary romance, no matter how popular these romances might be. You could do it, of course. But you’d spend so much time reading in the genre that it could take you a year or more to write the novel. Perhaps you’d start the novel, then get bored, or frustrated, and never complete it.

The best fiction ideas for you are ideas for novels which are in a genre you know, and which you can write with minimal research.

That said, if you get an idea for a novel which will take HUGE amounts of research, but you can’t get the story out of your mind — go for it. Inspiration trumps everything else.

Ideas for nonfiction: write what you know (or can easily find out)

As with fiction, your aim in finding great ideas for nonfiction books is finding ideas you love, but which are easy for you to write. Ideally, you’ll write from your own experience, or write about something in which you’re hugely interested… as long as there’s a market for your passion.

New author or experienced professional: answer “what will this take?”

Ask yourself: “what will this take?” before you invest time and energy in a fiction or nonfiction idea. Not only will you write more books, but you’ll sell more too.

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Nonfiction Ebooks Goldmine: Write and Sell Nonfiction Ebooks In 24 Hours Or Less

Nonfiction Ebooks Goldmine: Write and Sell Nonfiction Ebooks In 24 Hours Or Less

$5.99
Author:
Series: Selling Writer Strategies, Book 5
Genre: Writing
You're a writer. You need to make money from your words. What if you could create AND sell a nonfiction book in just a day? More info →
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Kindle Authors And Amazon’s £20,000 For 5,000 Words Contest

Kindle Authors And Amazon’s £20,000 For 5,000 Words Contest

For Kindle authors, the biggest challenge is getting readers to discover your ebooks. Indeed, it’s your only real challenge, aside from writing, of course.

Some Kindle authors feel that since the release of Kindle Unlimited (KU), Amazon has made it even harder for authors to make a living. Others are happier than six-year-olds on Christmas Eve: they adore KU.

What’s with KU anyway? Amazon provides a clue with its latest contest, The Kindle UK Storyteller Award: “Winning author to receive £20,000 cash prize and be recognised at central London award ceremony this summer.”

What does the $25,000 prize (for upwards of 5,000 words)  mean to Kindle authors?

For one thing, it offers a clue that KU isn’t going anywhere.

After the trauma experienced by authors whose Amazon accounts were cancelled, ostensibly because of Amazon’s algorithmic hammer blows, authors grew wary. They’ve yanked their ebooks from KDP Select, and thus from KU.

Since KU is such a rich target for scammers, I wondered whether Amazon would shut it down. That’s unlikely, because Amazon’s introducing KU to more countries, and judging by author’s forums, more authors love KU than hate it.

The £20,000 prize, for a 5,000 and upward short story, intrigued me, as I said in a comment on The Digital Reader’s article on the contest, Amazon Disguises Kindle Unlimited Recruiting Push as Writing Contest:

As they say, follow the money… At today’s exchange rate, £20,000 is $USD 24,945.80. According to The Bookseller, this is the second time in a few months Amazon’s run a contest in the UK. Amazon must be getting a LOT out of it. They could have put that money into the KU pool, which would have added a little something for each KU author, and maybe inspiring some authors to stay.

For the contest’s winning author, the £20,000 jackpot will change his or her life. I’m all for anything which helps and inspires authors, so Amazon gets a big tick for that.

What can Kindle authors can learn from Amazon’s contest?

I’ve made a little list.

  1. Amazon’s encouraging shorter works into KU. Writing a 60,000 word novel is challenging. By setting the contest entries at upwards of just 5,000 words, Amazon is both encouraging shorter works, and new authors;
  2. As stated, KU isn’t going anywhere;
  3. If you’ve eliminated or downgraded your KU involvement (I’m guilty of that), you may want to write some short stories.
    Short stories are excellent promotional tools for your novels, and build your visibility;
  4. If you’re a UK author, or are someone who can be in London in the northern summer to collect your prize, you could be a winner… 🙂

Re being in London: Amazon UK doesn’t seem to be limiting the contest to UK authors, so you could be based anywhere around the globe.

My final takeaway from the contest for Kindle authors

Amazon is actively looking for new authors — that is, they want lots of fresh content loaded into KDP Select.

So, what are you waiting for? Start writing. 🙂

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Need help with your writing? Visit our online store, or check our our ebooks for writers.

Nonfiction Ebooks Goldmine: Write and Sell Nonfiction Ebooks In 24 Hours Or Less

Nonfiction Ebooks Goldmine: Write and Sell Nonfiction Ebooks In 24 Hours Or Less

$5.99
Author:
Series: Selling Writer Strategies, Book 5
Genre: Writing
You're a writer. You need to make money from your words. What if you could create AND sell a nonfiction book in just a day? More info →
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Self-Publishing 2016: Amazon Cracks Down On Scammers

Self-Publishing 2016: Amazon Cracks Down On Scammers

One of the big events in 2016 was that Amazon started cracking down on scammers. Of course, this was long overdue. Writers’ message boards were full of writers horrified by the shenanigans of some of the scam-artists.

Examples…

Self-publishing’s challenges: Amazon targeted by scams

Revealed: How one Amazon Kindle scam made millions of dollars reported:

MILLIONS IN MONTHS

There are a lot of four-letter words to describe Shershnyov. One springs to mind: “rich”.

On a small scale, each ebook can generate anything from a few cents to hundreds of dollars over the course of its life span — until Amazon figures out that the book is a fraud. Fraudulent books get pulled offline quickly but often reappear under a different title, cover, and author’s name.

How Amazon Kindle Unlimited Scammers Wring Big Money From Phony Books reported on the infamous Kindle Unlimited scam:

In other words: if a scam author publishes a book filled with nonsense (maybe a mishmash of a few thousand randomly picked pages from public domain websites), but then includes a link at the front that takes a Kindle Unlimited reader to the last page, Amazon will register that as if the user has “read” the entire book and pay the author for thousands of pages of reading that never took place.

In October, I gave authors ideas on how to get sales if their numbers were down, because some innocent authors seemed to be getting caught in algorithms targeting scammers:

Over the past couple of months, reports from some indie authors indicate slashed earnings at Amazon. Their Kindle Unlimited (KU) “pages read” counts are down, and ebook sales seem to be affected too.

What’s happening? The problem could be as simple as a software glitch in sales reporting. For more on this, there’s a very long thread on KBoards.

Challenges for authors: Amazon cracked down on reviews, too

Reviews are of course essential for authors. Since reviews are an easy way to game Amazon, Amazon cracked down on them too, as Looking Back at 2016: Important Publishing Developments Authors Should Know reports:

Most notably and most discussed among authors: It is not okay to post a reader review if you are, according to Amazon, “a relative, close friend, business associate, or employee” of the author. Interpretation of this policy, as you can imagine, drives considerable debate.

Finally, to post a review, customers need to have spent at least $50 on Amazon. Yes, this is official Amazon policy. This helps prevent fake reviews from people who never shop at Amazon and may receive payment to leave reviews.

What if you’re affected by an algorithm which targets scammers?

Innocent authors do occasionally get caught when Amazon whirls the dials on its algorithms. According to several unfortunate authors on message boards, their Amazon accounts were cancelled. Although this was worrying for the authors, when contacted Amazon investigated, and reinstated their accounts.

So if you wake up one day and find that you’re in a mess because your Amazon account is closed, or you get nasty notes from Amazon about one of your books, don’t panic. Contact Amazon and explain your situation. Chances are you were caught by an algorithm, and Amazon will rectify the situation.

What if you’re gaming Amazon “harmlessly”?

In Ebook Self-publishing: Your Share of a $1 Billion Industry, I suggested:

What do I mean by “trickery”? Basically, anything which is against Amazon’s Terms of Service, even if it feels as if it’s harmless. There are a mile of ebook author groups set up solely to promote each other’s work. Chances are that you won’t get caught if you’re playing these kinds of games.

However, remember Amazon’s algorithm… you can get caught even if you’re completely innocent. If that happens, you have recourse. You can ask Amazon to reconsider, and they’ll get a human to examine your self-publishing account, which will be reinstated. On the other hand, if you’re guilty, your self-publishing business is dead.

Amazon cracking down is a GOOD thing

Scammers have targeted self-publishing since Amazon opened the Kindle Store. Most scams are low-level. Authors are aware of them, as is Amazon. Once these scams start getting out of hand (as with the erotica situation a few years ago), and the more recent, bigger scams, Amazon acts.

This is a good thing. Readers are happier, and authors receive the income they should, rather than seeing that income siphoned off by scammers.

Happy self-publishing in 2017. 🙂

Resources to build your writing career

Watch for free contests, writing news and tips on the blog’s Facebook page.

Need help with your writing? Visit our online store, or check our our ebooks for writers.

Plot Hot-Selling Fiction The Easy Way

Plot Hot-Selling Fiction The Easy Way

$5.99
Author:
Series: Selling Writer Strategies, Book 3
Genre: Writing
How To Write Novels And Short Stories Readers Love: 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. More info →
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