Category Archives: self-publishing

Self-Publishing: Write Today, Sell Tomorrow, With Short Stories

Self-Publishing: Write Today, Sell Tomorrow, With Short Stories

I love writing short stories because I’m a huge blogging fan. Blogging is instant publishing, and short stories are similar. You can write a short story today, and sell it tomorrow.

By the way, our Kindle Short Fiction Domination program is closing for good in a week. We’ve got upcoming releases, so you receive a special offering on our short story program until April 29.

“Yes, but readers don’t buy short stories in my genre…”

I often receive this response from authors when I suggest that they add short story writing to their self-publishing program. My response to that is always: “you will be surprised.”

Writing and publishing short stories is an efficient way to get more from your self-publishing efforts.

In this article, I suggested some of the ways in which you can use short fiction ebooks:

• They’re an easy way to make the switch to writing fiction;

• Short stories will boost your book sales on Amazon and elsewhere;

• You can build an email list, by offering a short story or two;

• Short fiction increases your visibility so you can build your author platform;

• It’s an easy way to develop a profitable career ghostwriting fiction for clients…

Write short stories fast: focus on scenes

The easiest way to write short stories (and novels, for that matter) is to focus on scenes.

My scenes average at around 1500 words. So for a short story, I aim at three scenes. I may write longer, but three scenes gives me a basic outline for a short story.

For more on writing in scenes, read Write Hot Scenes For Bestselling Fiction: 5 Magical Tips.

The first scene of a short story is the setup: introduce the story question

Your first scene is the setup for your short story: you introduce your characters, the situation, and the story question.

Your story question is the POINT of your novel. We discussed the story question in New Novelist: Write A Selling Novel With One Simple Strategy:

The point of a novel is often referred to as the “story question”, or “dramatic question.” Although the story question might not be stated overtly, it must exist for your novel to be satisfying to readers. In many genres, the genre itself offers insight to the story question:

  •  In mysteries — will the sleuth find the killer?
  • In romances — will the boy get the girl?
  • In thrillers — will the hero save the world?

Your short story’s second scene: a big obstacle or three

You’ve set up your short story. Now it’s time to add an obstacle.

In your mystery, for example, your sleuth is questioning suspects when the killer strikes again…

The climax — all is lost, BUT… your hero comes through in scene three

Your third scene is the climax. In a mystery, your sleuth has made a huge mistake. The killer has turned the tables on the sleuth, who’s facing death.

Here’s a tip for writing short stories: your climax is everything. Set up the climax from the first line of your story.

After the climax, wind up your short story in a few sentences…

And you’re done.

Kindle Short Fiction Domination closes on April 29

We’ve got a lot of upcoming releases, so we’re clearing the decks. You receive a special offering on Kindle Short Fiction Domination until April 29, when the program will close for good. Enjoy.

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Write Fast, Write Well: How To Be Prolific, and Sell – Powerful tips to increase your writing income

Write Fast, Write Well: How To Be Prolific, and Sell – Powerful tips to increase your writing income

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What If You Were Twice As Successful, Or Even THREE Times More Successful Than You Are Today? There's No Ceiling On A Writer's Income... You Just Need To Be Prolific. More info →
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Indie Author: 3 Tips To Manage Anxiety And Doubt

Indie Author: 3 Tips To Manage Anxiety And Doubt

You’re an indie author, and you’re sinking in a swirling stream of doubts and anxieties. Are you wasting your time? What if your new book won’t sell?

Every author has doubts. Some authors are continually anxious, and there’s a good reason. Research shows that creative people are more susceptible to anxiety than others; the upsetting emotions are just the way your brain works.

Several months ago a friend told me that she was giving up writing. She hated her current novel; she said it was a mess. She was in the middle of an acrimonious divorce. Her writing was another source of stress, so she was cutting it out of her life.

I made commiserating comments and silently made a small bet with myself — I was convinced that she would be writing again within six months.

You’re an indie author: kudos to you!

It took three months. She rang me last week. “I’m working on a new novel. I’m not giving up on the one I was stuck on, I’m revising — I’ve got some good ideas of where I want to go with the revision.”

When there are other things happening in your life, the stress of writing seems too much, so you give it up. That doesn’t mean that you’ve failed, or that you’ll give up writing forever. It just means that you’ve put your creativity on hold for a time. It will return.

Now let’s look at the tips, but do remember that as an indie author, you deserve kudos. You’re doing something that takes courage, faith, and trust in yourself, and at times, finding those things is hard.

1. Anxiety and doubt are normal: expect and accept

As we’ve said, anxiety is normal for creative people. I’ve often told the story of what happened when I got my first book contract from MacDonald Futura. Every morning when I sat down at my IBM Selectric typewriter to work on my novel tears streamed down my face. I was beyond anxious, but I wrote anyway.

I thought that there was something horribly wrong with me; obviously I wasn’t meant to be a writer. Years later, I learned that my emotions were completely normal.

The solution to dealing with them was simple: I learned that I needed to expect to be uncomfortable for ten minutes or so when I started writing.

You can accept the discomfort and write anyway. Within a short time, the discomfort will fade. Until the next time you sit down to write.

Over the years, my discomfort when I sit down to write has almost completely vanished. I need to look hard for it, but a tiny fluttering of anxiety is still there. I ignore it; I’ve learned to expect it, and to realize that that’s just the way our creativity works.

2. Write down what you’re feeling: you’ll feel better

Occasionally, you can’t write. The anxiety is too much. You’ll do anything rather than sit down at your computer. One writer I know painted his house, inside and outside, to avoid writing. Another took up sky-diving.

There’s a simpler way.

When you can’t write, take a pen and paper (this process seems to work better if you write by hand), and write down what you’re feeling. Write for ten minutes.

You may need to repeat this exercise every time you sit down to write for a week or two. Eventually, you will have made all your unconscious doubts and fears visible. You’ve unmasked the terrors and tamed them, so they’ll lose their power over you.

3. Meditate: ten minutes a day puts you in control

If meditation sounds a little too trendy for you, give it a chance. Meditation has been used for thousands of years because it’s powerful. I first started meditating in the 1970s. Although I may not meditate for months, when I start to feel anxious, I start meditating again.

Ten minutes a day will make all the difference. Here’s a simple meditation from Tara Brach that’s both a wonderful introduction to meditation, and an easy meditation you can do every day once you learn the body-scan process.

An indie author strategy: when you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a break

Are you putting too much pressure on yourself? You’ll know if you are.

Slow down. Review your deadlines, and give yourself a little breathing space. I give myself one day a week when I take a break from writing fiction. On that day, I blog, and I work on nonfiction, so I’m still writing — over the years, writing has become my default setting. It’s just what I do.

Writing fiction can be more anxiety-making than writing nonfiction; you’re working with your imagination. This creativity leads to anxiety, so take a break occasionally. You may find as I do, that your little breaks are helpful. After a break, you’ll write more easily, rather than struggling to find words.

Doubts and anxiety are the price you pay for being an indie author. They do fade over time. You can handle it. 🙂

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Short Fiction Secrets: How To Write And Sell Short Stories

Short Fiction Secrets: How To Write And Sell Short Stories

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Want to write short stories? If you answered yes, that's excellent… Here's why. Today, you can make money writing short fiction. More info →
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Self-Publishing Disaster: 3 Tips To Rebuild Your Confidence

Self-Publishing Disaster: 3 Tips To Rebuild Your Confidence

You had huge hopes for your latest book but those hopes have faded. Three months after publication, you’ve sold few copies. Whether you’re a self-publishing pro, or a newbie, you’re disappointed.

Let’s unpack your “failure.”

Here’s the reality. Books fail. Indeed, most books fail. Ask any author. Bestselling ebooks/ books (let’s just call them books) are rare. Luck boosts many books to bestsellerdom. Concentrated effort boosts others.

That said, you don’t need to write bestselling novels or nonfiction books to make a nice living as a self-publishing author.

Why self-publishing fails…

While there are any number of reasons you can self-publish a book and winces at its sales, here are some common reasons for failure in fiction:

  • The author didn’t pick a genre at all, or picked an overcrowded genre;
  • Readers can’t find the book: the description is skimpy, and there’s no meta data, so Amazon has no idea where to “file” the book;
  • The book’s cover gives no clear indication of its genre. Readers are confused, and pass the book by;
  • A lack of promotion.

What about nonfiction? Reasons for the failure of a nonfiction book include:

  • An itty bitty audience, or an audience which is well-served with a large number of new books, and the author’s offering doesn’t stand out;
  • As with fiction, above — the readers can’t find the book, because of a lack of attention to meta data;
  • An unappealing cover. A cover needs to grab readers, and make them FEEL something. If you’re selling a diet book, an apple and a tape measure can make for a great cover, depending on the book’s title, and the photography. Or it may not;
  • As above, a lack of promotion.

There may be no clear reason a book fails

Mainstream publishers publish lots of books. Simon & Schuster for example publishes around 2,000 titles each year and most of those titles will lose money. The occasional bestseller helps any publisher to stay in business.

Please be ware of this: publishing houses expect slow sellers and abject failures in the books they publish. Like you, if they had their way, they’d publish only bestsellers. 🙂

You’re a publisher too. Take the attitude that you’ll publish many books. Some will succeed beyond your dreams.

Now let’s look at how to rebuild your confidence.

1. Publish the next book, and the next, while trying to learn from your failure

Yes, keep publishing. It’s amazing how often a “meh” book you don’t particularly like will shock you with great sales. It happens.

While you keep writing, and publishing, if you think you know why a book isn’t selling, fix what you can. BUT: don’t spend too much money on your book’s revamp. A new cover may help. On the other hand, it may not.

Ask other self-publishing authors their opinion on whether spending money will help. It’s best to spend money boosting books which already sell.

2. Always be learning: the self-publishing industry changes rapidly

Many authors who made huge incomes in 2014 have left the industry. When self-publishing changed, they didn’t keep up. Their books stopped selling, because they stopped experimenting and and growing.

Try new things; keep learning and growing.

3. Build your platform on social media: get readers onto your mailing list

Today, with several million ebooks and many, many millions of books widely available, reaching readers who will love your books is more challenging than ever. Make a real effort to build your platform. Social media is essentially free, other than the time it takes. Use social media to grow your mailing list.

Keep self-publishing: your next book may hit the bestseller lists

Someone once said that success doesn’t last, and neither does failure. Who knows? Your “disaster” may be a sleeper title, which suddenly sells hundreds of copies a day.

In the meantime, success or failure, keep publishing. 🙂

Resources to build your writing career

Get daily 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.

Writing Success Secrets: How To Conquer Self Doubt, And Achieve Your Writing Goals, Starting Today

Writing Success Secrets: How To Conquer Self Doubt, And Achieve Your Writing Goals, Starting Today

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Genre: Writing
Today, the opportunities for writers have never been greater. Back in the day a writer who was making six-figures a year seemed a creature of myth. These days, highly successful writers are making six figures a month. More info →
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