Experimenting With First In Series Free In 2017

On Friday, I recommended two resources for creating marketing plans for your novel and promised to share what I’ve done in in 2017 and how it’s worked out.

My main goal for advertising and marketing for 2017 was to bring new readers into my Awakening Series.

My main strategy was to list the first book in the series free.

BookBub Listing March 2017


I thought that might be worthwhile because the final book, The Illumination, released in May in ebook and paperback, and the audiobook edition became available this month, so at last the series is complete. (I published The Awakening in ebook format back in 2011 and waited far too long to write and publish the other three books.)

BookBub Featured Deal Results

BookBub is one of the only enewsletter featured deals that has paid for itself and generated significant additional income each time I’ve been able to get one.

(The BookBub Featured Deals are a single listing for a flat price in the enewsletter, as opposed to BookBub ads, which appear at the bottom of the newsletter and for which you pay per impression.)

I had a few features in previous years with The Awakening ebook editions at a sale price of $0.99 (regular price has varied from $2.99-$4.99). But BookBub turns down many applications for deals, and it seems to get harder to get one the longer a book is out.

I applied two or three times in late 2016 and was turned down until I switched The Awakening to free.

On March 2, 2017, The Awakening was ranked No. 16,366 of all Free Kindle books.

By mid-afternoon March 6, the day the feature ran, it was No. 11 on the overall list of Free Kindle books. By evening, it reached No.5.

What Does Free First In Series Mean For Sales And Royalties?

Obviously, there are no sales or royalties on a free ebook, only downloads.

There is one exception–sort of.

When there’s a spike in downloads, I usually sell additional audiobook editions as well as a paperback or two. Audible usually discounts the audio price, and the paperback royalty is low, so I estimate in 2017 that added up to not much more than $100-$200  over the course of the year for Book 1 in The Awakening Series.

The real boost came from the remaining books in the series.

In March, Books 2 and 3 were for sale and Book 4 available for pre-order on five ebook platforms (Amazon, Kobo, Nook, GooglePlay, and iTunes).

Kobo sales showed a dramatic difference. From January through November 2016, my total Kobo royalties were $293. But from January through November 2017, the royalties were $1,195.

On Nook, during the six months before the March 2017 BookBub feature my royalties for The Awakening Series were anywhere from $10-$50/month. For the six months from the BookBub feature on, it has averaged $103-$370.

On Amazon, royalties for the Kindle editions of The Awakening Series totaled about $3,400 for January through November, 2016. This year for the same time period, the total was $7,282.63.

Other Advertising

During both 2016 and 2017 I also advertised The Awakening and sometimes The Unbelievers in other enewsletters. (For limited times, I discounted The Unbelievers to $0.99 compared to a regular price of $3.99-$4.99.)

These other enewsletters also resulted in spikes in downloads.

In fact, just last Friday, The Awakening reached No. 1 on the Occult list for Kindle due to a Fussy Librarian listing.

A Few Caveats

The numbers above reflect a lot of variables.

First, The Illumination (Book 4) came out in May, 2017, and The Conflagration (Book 3) released in May, 2016.

So for the first four months of 2016, I only had two books out in my Awakening Series. If I could have had the whole series released in 2016, presumably those numbers would look a lot better.

Also, I updated all my covers in 2017. The news ones more clearly brand the series and better convey the type of book.

Finally, there’s no way to know what my royalties would be if I’d left The Awakening at $3.99 and run $0.99 sales periodically rather than leaving it free for the year.

I think it’s unlikely I would have gotten a BookBub Featured Deal, so I would not have had that big spike in March 2017. But I probably would have gotten $0.99 listings in other enewsletters, as most have accepted The Awakening every time I’ve applied over the years.

Also, readers are much more apt to read a book they paid for, even if they paid only $0.99 cents, than one they downloaded free. So while I’d have a smaller number of Book 1s on people’s ereaders, there might be a higher percentage who actually read it and bought the later books.

In the end, I feel it was worth making Book 1 free.

There were over 60,000 downloads, so despite that probably less than 10% of them resulted in actual reads of the book, that many people saw it, liked the cover, and are likely to remember it if they see it later.

That’s a type of reach and advertising that’s expensive to buy, and through a BookBub Featured Deal and other enewletters ads, my advertising dollars generated a net profit.

That being said, I’m considering putting The Awakening back at $3.99 in January and running some $0.99 sales to see how that goes for 2018. (I’ll talk about other reasons for that in a later post.)

Either way, I’ll let you know.

What’s your experience with free first in series? Please share in the comments.

Until Friday–

L.M. Lilly



Creating A Marketing Plan For Your Book

If you want to get your novel into the hands of readers, you need a marketing plan.

Even if you have a traditional publishing contract, unless you’re Stephen King or Mary Higgins Clark (in which case you’re probably not reading this article), only limited resources–or no resources–will be devoted to your particular book.

When I started self-publishing in 2011, I did an overall business plan. It included some marketing, but all of it quickly became out of date as the publishing industry changed.

Since then, I’ve been a bit haphazard, though I’ve had some success. I’ll share what I’ve done this year and the results on Sunday.

My December goals include creating marketing plans for my new Q.C. Davis Mystery Series (first two novels are in progress now), for The Awakening Series, and for my non-fiction writing books.

I looked at two resources to figure out what ought to go into the marketing plans, both of which I recommend.

Small Business Administration Plan

The first is the Small Business Administration marketing and sales page.

It provides a good overview of what should go into a marketing plan, including figuring out your target market, your competitive advantage, your budget, and more.

A few aspects may not be that relevant to your author business. For example, there’s a discussion of accepting checks, cash, or credit cards.

That might matter for in-person events, but most indie authors sell primarily online, in which case we’re getting paid by direct deposit from Kobo, Amazon, or one of the other ebook platforms. (Some indies are starting to sell direct from their sites now, though, which I plan to research and write about.) If you have a traditional publishing contract, your publisher will be paying you (I hope!).

Marketing Plan Template

I found an extremely helpful article on Forbes.com: Marketing Plan Template: Exactly What To Include. The author, Dave Lavinsky, includes within it a link a to template that’s for sale, but I found the article alone perfect as is.

Lavinsky does exactly what the title promises, explaining 15 steps for your marketing plan.

I found nearly every one well adapted to marketing novels. I used his 15 sections to start making notes for the Q.C. Davis plan yesterday.  (When it’s finished, I’ll provide a link so you can download it for reference.)

Beginning notes on marketing plan for Q.C. Davis mysteries

The article is from 2013.

The only part I thought was somewhat dated was splitting out Section 8, Promotion Strategy, from Section 9, Online Marketing Strategy. Most of my promotion is done online, so at first it seemed to me the two would be duplicative.

As I wrote thoughts on each, though, I realized it might be good to separate these points out. There may be offline marketing and advertising opportunities these days that other authors and businesses are neglecting, which could make it less expensive to use those ways to get a book or series in front of potential readers.

Also, don’t let the fact that there are 15 sections discourage you from sketching out thoughts on each one. I did it in about 45 minutes.

While my notes include a lot of blanks and follow up items, doing that got me started on market research last night that I wouldn’t have otherwise done. (I found readers of two more authors to add to my target list — Tess Gerritsen and Jonathan Kellerman.)

Also, it brought home to me that I really do need to start planning now if I want to release in Spring 2017, as I hope to do.

Looks like it’ll be a busy December!

For quick reference, here again are links to the two marketing plan resources I found helpful:

Until Sunday–

L.M. Lilly


One Word And Your Writing Life

At a recent conference on business for authors, several panelists talked about figuring out the one word that gets across what you want from your business/writing life.

The word doesn’t need to be specifically about writing or business. Instead, it sums up what you want from life.

The idea is to ask yourself what will make you happy and what word expresses that and build your business around it.

One Word Matters

When I started my law firm, I never thought about choosing a word or exactly why I wanted to run my own firm.

I knew I wanted to work for myself, as that was one of the reasons I became a lawyer. I also wanted more control over my schedule and more time to write, but I didn’t specifically set out to create that. I more or less assumed it would happen when I became my own boss. (Anyone who worked for themselves probably could have told me that wouldn’t happen. Quite possibly someone did tell me and it didn’t sink in.)

Because of that, my firm grew in ways I didn’t expect. Other attorneys congratulated me on my success, and I was happy to have a lot of business.

But because I hadn’t figured out what type of life I wanted, I rapidly recreated exactly what I’d left–more work than I wanted and little time for the rest of my life.

I don’t want to do the same thing with my writing business. There are only so many career changes I want to make in my life.

That’s why the one word concept drew me it.

Examples Of One Words

Author Joanna (J.F.) Penn has said her word is Freedom.

When she set out to create her online business, she knew she wanted the freedom to live wherever she chose and travel wherever and whenever she wanted.

With Freedom as her word, she realized she needed a business that allowed her to work from anywhere, one she could run from her laptop. That word also told her what she didn’t want–a business that required separate physical space, lots of equipment, and on-site employees she’d need to manage.

The authors at Sterling & Stone, in contrast, seem to expand the size of their company constantly.

They are three authors co-authoring books, but they also employ multiple people, develop software and services for writers, and host a  yearly conference. Their one word probably wasn’t Freedom, or if it was, it meant something different to them than to Joanna Penn.

As another example, if your word is Security, you probably don’t want to throw caution to the wind and quit your current position the first time you make a hundred or even a thousand dollars in a month from your writing.

If your word is Exploration, you might try playwriting, screenwriting, poetry writing, and novel writing all within a few years or maybe a few months. You also might write in multiple genres or explore other types of creative projects.

Choosing Your Word

Do any of these words express what you want most from life?

  • Joy
  • Recognition
  • Success
  • Fame
  • Peace
  • Connection
  • Freedom
  • Security
  • Excitement

Think about how you feel about these words (or others you come up with) and what they mean to you.

How might your choices be different depending on the word you choose?

My own word (I’m pretty sure) is Creativity.

For decades Security actually was most important to me, as I had a rough time in my late twenties when I was unable to work due to a repetitive stress injury and moved home with my parents.

After that, for a long time I felt driven to achieve as much financial success as possible for fear of hitting a serious stumbling block again. I always wrote on the side, but it was very hard for me to turn down better-paying work whenever it was offered.

Also, if I spent too much time on “non-productive” (meaning non-paying) activities, I worried that I ought to be focused on earning enough to pay off debts or fund my retirement.

Now, though, I’m happiest when I have time not only for my own writing, but to engage in the storytelling of others. I love to read books, see plays, watch movies, and watch television series that tell long form stories.

The more I do all of that, the happier I feel.

What Creativity means to me going forward is that each project or task I do needs to either (a) generate money while still allowing me a lot of time for creativity or (b) be something creative I enjoy for its own sake.

In my perfect world, every activity I do will fit both.

So what’s your word?

Until Friday–

L.M. Lilly

P.S. Choosing a single concept or focus can also help when setting goals.




The Worst Ways To Spend Money On Book Promotion

How do you know what promotional or book marketing services are worth the money?

This is a question I get often, both from people with limited funds and from those who would far rather spend money than time when it comes to marketing.

A lot of the calls and emails I receive from lawyers, doctors, and businesspeople who’ve written and/or published their first novels revolve around this issue. Many of them feel it’s better to spend their hours writing or earning money at their non-writing careers/professions and to pay an expert to handle marketing.

The problem is, marketing or promotion “experts” abound, as do services, but many provide little or no value. 

That’s why this Friday I recommend you check out The Digital Reader article 8 Ways For Authors To Waste Their Money.

Top of the list is hiring a publicist, which can cost thousands or tens of thousands of dollars. If you or your book are not already well-known, there’s not much a publicist can do but charge you high rates for services you could buy yourself at a fraction of the cost.

Another money pit is a service that promises to get your book on bestseller lists.

All the lists frown on, discourage, and expose attempts to game the system by buying your own book, which is what many of these services basically do. Also, nice as it might be to get that bestseller tag, if you are on your first book, the odds that paying to call it a bestseller will ever generate enough sales to make it worth the price tag are, in my opinion, slim to none.

The only point I disagree with the article about, or at least would qualify, is the dismissal of email blast services.

I agree that there is no value to emailing around a press release about your book. I also agree that paying for tweets or other social media posts rarely results in sales or enough name recognition to be worthwhile.

There are email newsletters, though, to which readers subscribe who are looking for free and discount ebooks. (The Holy Grail of these right now is BookBub, but if you can’t get in there, I’ve found others such as Just Kindle and Book Barbarian (for fantasy) worth buying.)

These e-newsletters can be good ways to reach new readers. It’s most cost-effective to pay for slots when you have at least 3 books so there’s a chance of sales in addition to your discounted (or free) ebook.

Don’t forget to check out the comments on the article, as they contain more useful information.

Until Sunday–

L.M. Lilly

4 Things To Check About Character Names Before You Publish

As writers, we often choose character names based on how those names resonate with us personally, such as who or what the names reminds us of or how they make us feel.

That can be helpful as we create our characters.

But before we publish (or submit our manuscripts to an editor or agent), we need to think about whether those names distract from our story or might confuse readers.

Here are four things to look at before you call your novel finished:

First Letters

Using too many names that start with the same letter makes it harder for readers to remember who is whom. The more characters your story includes, the more important this is, but it matters even if you have only a few.

Two main characters named Mike and Mordant or, worse, Mike and Mark can cause a lot of confusion. Don’t make your reader work hard to enjoy your story.

If you’re writing a series, you also need to watch this with minor characters. They may play small roles now, but could become important later.

In The Awakening, Book 1, without thinking much about it I named one of my protagonist Tara’s sisters Kelly. I didn’t expect Kelly to be more than a walk on part, and she was only mentioned once or twice.

The second book began with a scene between Tara and another fairly major character, Kali.

When I realized Tara’s sister Kelly also would be an important part of Book 2, I could have kicked myself. That I had two “K” names hadn’t hit me when writing Book 1 because Kelly played such a small part, but now I was stuck with them.

I worked very hard to differentiate Kelly and Kali, including cues to the reader about who was whom, in Books 2, 3, and 4. I’ve never gotten complaints about confusion, so it must have worked, but it took lot of extra time and energy.

Names That Otherwise Sound Alike

You also want to avoid too many names that sound alike for reasons other than, or in addition to, the first letter.

First, Meg, Peg, Tig, and Tag may tend to blur in the readers’ minds, as might the last names Martini, Gaddini, and Houdini. OK, maybe not the last since it calls to mind the famous magician, but you get the idea.

As I’m sure you noticed (but are too polite to say, right?), my Kelly/Kali problem suffers from the soundalike issue as well as the same first letter problem.

Second, it’s boring. If all the names are Jane or John or Bob or Phil or Sue, it makes for a very dull book.

Third, it may be unrealistic, depending upon where your story takes place.

If your characters live in a small town where many families are related and names tend to be used or reused over generations, a lot of similar names might be realistic. But if your story takes place somewhere like London that draws people from all over the world, it’s likely there will be many names that sound different and are spelled differently from one another.

Race, Ethnicity, Geography

Names may signify to some readers ethnicity or race despite that in life names don’t necessarily correlate with either. Many people have ancestors and family members of various ethnicities and/or marry into families from countries of origin other than their own.

Also, in reality the concept of race may signify nothing biological or genetic about a person.

All the same, if your character is named Brigid O’Brien, a picture of a white Irish woman will pop into many readers’ mind. If you want to name your black Nigerian character that, feel free to do so, but you may need to add more description or narrative to convey how your character looks.

You may also need a “why” for those readers who have a set idea regarding names, race, and ethnicity.

In other words, they’ll want to know why your black Nigerian character has a very Irish-sounding name. Unless it’s key to the plot, you’ll need to find a quick way to do this without slowing your plot or boring those readers who don’t care one way or the other.

All that being said, if one of your goals as a writer is to subvert and expand people’s views on race, you may want to name your characters contrary to what most readers would expect.

It’s your story, so it’s up to you to decide.

Symbolic Names

Also take a look at those names you chose that were symbolic. Consider how many of these types of names you’ve used, and whether as a whole they’ll be distracting.

This is particularly important if you’re writing genre or commercial fiction. For those types of stories, your audience is not a class of college literature students searching for hidden meaning so they can add word count to their papers, and it’s not the professors who teach them.

Your readers are ones who want to be absorbed in the story first and only later, perhaps, think about symbolism.

So if every character has a symbolic name, that will distract the reader rather than enhance the experience.

Even in Lost, where names of philosophers abound, many main characters have first names that are fairly common in Middle America like Kate, Jack, Ben, and Claire.

This doesn’t mean you can’t keep a symbolic name. But as a general rule, it’s best to go for subtlety and be sparing rather than loading every character name with symbolic meaning.

Have you ever named a character something you later regretted? If so, please share your thoughts in the comments.

Until Friday–

L.M. Lilly

P.S. The above is an excerpt the above from Creating Compelling Characters From The Inside Out. I was a little worn out from the Thanksgiving weekend, so I borrowed from my book rather than writing on a brand new topic. For those of you who celebrate Thanksgiving, I hope you had a wonderful one!

Money, Writing, & Becoming Unshakeable

On the surface, making the most of the money you earn and choosing good investment strategies seems to have little to do with the creative side of writing. But I believe they are connected.

When I was worried about money all the time, I still wrote, but it was like running with a fifty pound weight on my back.

Worrying about money takes a lot of mental energy.

Also, not having enough money means spending more time on pursuits that will earn you money more quickly or more predictably than will selling your writing.

If I were saving for a down payment for a house, for example, I’d be more likely to accept more legal work, as right now it pays me more by the hour than writing does, and it pays more quickly.

In the long run, though, that’s not a good financial strategy.

Once I sell an hour of my time, it’s gone. If I spend many hours writing a novel, I may not get paid anything for it until six months from now, but it could potentially earn money for 70 years after my death.

For these reasons, this Friday I recommend Unshakeable by Tony Robbins.

A couple Sundays ago I mentioned I’m a Tony Robbins fan because of the distinctions he makes about how we motivate ourselves to achieve what we want. In Unshakeable he turns his focus to money and finance.

After interviewing fifty great financial minds, Robbins pulls out the key knowledge and strategies you need to move toward a life of financial freedom.

If you are unfamiliar with the world of finance, this book is a great step-by-step practical guide that walks you through what you need to know and how to go about getting where you want to be.

If you’re already pretty knowledgeable about investments and feel you understand the financial world, it is still well worth reading. While much of what Robbins covered was familiar to me, there were points that I hadn’t understood when I’d read them elsewhere, or that hadn’t applied to me when I first started learning about how to handle money that now hit home.

The book is available in multiple formats.

If you’re short on time or your To-Read list is already too long, try listening to it instead. That’s what I did, and I found it fairly easy to pick up the thread on each topic even if I went a long time between listening.

Until Sunday–

L.M. Lilly

6 Things You Can Do With Short Stories

When I read fiction, it’s almost always novels, which is probably why that’s what I tend to write.

My favorite autographed novels

But in the early 2000s I attended a writer’s retreat where the instructor insisted we write a 3-5 page short story each night and exchange them the next day.

Something about the page limit worked for me. Those stories were the first fiction I got published. One was included in the first episode of an Internet radio show, Parade of Phantoms, where the producer read horror stories. (These days it would probably be a podcast.)

Since then, I’ve only written short stories here and there, but I may change that.

At the recent Master Business Workshop in Oregon, there was an entire panel discussion on what you can do with short stories to enhance your fiction writing career.

Here are the suggestions I thought most helpful:

  • Post regularly on your website

One author posts one short story per month on his website.

Having fresh content each month keeps the website ranking higher. It also gives his fans a reason to return to the site. Finally, it draws new readers to the site who may then check out his other work.

As he’s posting the story, he also puts it for sale on Amazon for $2.99. He said that some readers start the story on the site but then buy it because they’d rather read on their Kindles than on screen.

  • Tie it to your novels

If you write a series, a short story about one of the series characters can be a tie in to the novels. It’s a good entry point for new readers. It also is a sort of reward for fans who want more about those characters and don’t want to wait for the next novel.

You can publish these short stories yourself in ebook format or you can submit them to magazines and perhaps draw in those readers.

  • Give it to Patreon supporters or email list subscribers

A short story that’s exclusive to people who donate to you on Patreon (if you’re not familiar with Patreon, here’s how it works) or who subscribe to your email list rewards them for their support and encourages others to sign up.

Another option is to offer it first to your supporters for a week or month and then offer it for sale as an ebook or submit it to magazines.

  • Submit it to an anthology or include it in a bundle

Publishers put together anthologies on certain themes. Some look for new stories, so you can submit to those. Others look for already published stories, so it’s a way you can earn money or publicity a second time if you’ve already had the story published.

Many indie authors put together anthologies, also called bundles. You can look for another author who is doing so or you can take initiative and create a bundle yourself.

(Bundle Rabbit is one platform that allows authors to create bundles of novels or short stories.)

  • Option It For Film Or Other Formats
Includes story Arrival was based on

Many movies have been based on short stories, such as Breakfast At Tiffany’s (short story by Truman Capote), Total Recall (We Can Remember It for You Wholesale by Philip K. Dick) and, more recently, Arrival (Story Of Your Life by Ted Chiang).

Short stories also can be adapted into plays or short films.

You generally need your story to be selling well (or at least for your work as a whole to be well known) before anyone who can pay you for an option will be interested.

But even if you get paid little, any adaptation can be helpful for publicity and can be a learning experience.

A few years back someone I knew in high school was making his first short film and asked if I had any short stories that might work. I sent him a few, and he made a film, which he called Willis Tower, of my short story The Tower Formerly Known As Sears.

I learned a lot from his interpretation and also from seeing what the actors did with my characters. While the film didn’t get distributed, a couple newspaper articles wrote about it when he submitted it to film festivals. It’s also a nice credit for my author bio.

  • Submit it to traditional magazine markets

I put this last because it’s the option most of us are familiar with. At the conference, though, hosts Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch made some points about this option that are worth repeating.

  1. Start with the big markets that pay well, as it’s the best publicity you’ll ever get for your work
  2. As you wait for a response, and it may be a long wait, you are free to submit another story to that same publication
  3. If the story isn’t rejected, keep trying additional markets
  4. If you do sell it to a magazine, you typically are only selling the right to print it first, so you can then use the story in any or all of the other ways listed above

Have you written short stories? Feel free to share your experience in the comments.

Until Friday–

L.M. Lilly


Characters And Emotional Pain

Lately I’ve been struggling with creating brand new characters after having written four books in a single series. One thing that’s always been hard for me is showing the main character’s inner life and feelings.

As I got to know my characters over the four books, it became easier, but now I’m starting from scratch.

The standard Show Don’t Tell advice was so drilled into me during college writing classes that I became afraid to share anything about my characters’ thoughts, past, and emotional baggage.

I often need a separate rewrite completely focused on making sure the characters’ emotions come through. 

It’s especially challenging now because in my new Q. C. Davis mystery series my main character had a significant childhood trauma and in response became a very controlled, driven, and outwardly calm person.

That’s why this Friday I’m recommending an article from The Creative Penn: What Is Emotional Shielding and Why Does it Matter For Your Character? by Becca Puglisi.

The concept is that humans-and so characters-who suffer deep emotional wounds find a way to protect themselves from similar pain in the future.

That way, though, often leads to unhealthy behavior or coping mechanisms that cause other challenges or more pain as they go forward in life.

Even if your characters don’t have a particular single trauma to get past, the points in Puglisi’s article can help walk you through how your characters cope with painful experiences and hard times and how that influences who they become and how they act at the time your story takes place. (How’s that for ending on a run-on sentence?)

Until Sunday-

L. M. Lilly

P. S. For more on developing your characters, feel free to download my Free Character Tip Sheet/Questionnaire.

Are You Committed To Writing Or Just Interested?

I’m a huge Tony Robbins fan. (Based on his books, not his conferences, which are a bit too pricey for me.)

One distinction Robbins makes that’s key to writing is commitment versus interest.

Being Interested v. Being Committed

If you’re interested in doing something, you probably admire or envy other people who’ve achieved that goal or engaged in that activity. You believe you’d enjoy it, and you feel it’s something you’d be proud of.

But if you don’t do it, while you might feel a little regret, it won’t seriously upset you.

For example, maybe you took piano lessons as a kid. As an adult, you might like to play better than you do, and you might include “play piano more often” as one of your New Year’s resolutions or goals.

If despite that resolution, during the next twelve months your piano is mostly used to display family photos (or your favorite tea sets, not that that’s what I use mine for), you’re interested in playing piano, but you’re not committed to it.

On the other hand, if you’re committed, playing piano and playing it well matters to you more than almost anything else.

If life gets busy, you’ll push aside another task to make time to play. If you feel sick, short of actually collapsing, you’ll sit at the keyboard even if it’s for five minutes or practice your fingering in your mind or listen to music you can learn from.

As it is with piano playing, so it is with writing.

How You Become Committed To Writing A Novel

If despite your best laid plans, month after month you never get more than a few sentences written, what you need most may not be more time but to shift from being interested in writing to being committed to it.

How do you do that?

  • Set a deadline.

If you don’t choose a timeframe, it’s too easy to imagine you’ll get to writing your book next week or next month. Then you turn around a year later and you’ve still not finished your novel.

So choose a date by which you’ll finish your book that’s reasonable but a little ambitious so you’ll need to make an effort to find the time. It could be six months, a year, or two years.

  • Write down all the reasons you want to finish a novel.

Maybe you’ve had an idea forever that you believe is perfect, and you so want to see how it plays out. Maybe you love immersing yourself in a fictional world once you finally do it, and you want that feeling more often. Maybe you imagine being interviewed on a podcast or television show, speaking at a conference, or reading at a launch party from your novel.

Whatever your reasons are, write them down. Now imagine how you’ll feel if all of that comes true. Pretty great, right?

  • Imagine yourself a year down the road and you haven’t written word.

How will you feel? Write that down along with the other downsides of not writing.

  • Tell other people about your goal.

Tell three people that you will finish a novel within six months, a year, two years, whatever your timeline is.

Just saying it strengthens your commitment, because now you’ve said it aloud to witnesses. Even if you never speak of it again and all three people forget about it, you’ll know that if they do happen to ask and you haven’t written a word, you’ll have to admit that. (Or lie, but you wouldn’t do that, right? And, anyway, you’ll know the truth no matter what you say.)

  • Ask for help.

This point is one step beyond telling people, it’s enlisting them in your goal.

Ask a friend or family member to check in with you once a month and ask how the novel is going. Or, if you don’t want to put that obligation on anyone, ask if they are willing to receive an email, text, or voicemail from you once a week about your progress.

The person doesn’t need to respond.

Simply knowing you’ll be reporting what you did or didn’t do will add to your commitment to have something positive to say, even if it’s only “wrote a hundred words” or “figured out who my antagonist is.”

Good Luck!

Until Friday–

L.M. Lilly

P.S. If you’re looking to learn more on this distinction between commitment and interest or how to motivate yourself, I recommend you go right to the source and read Awaken The Giant Within by Anthony Robbins.


Rockets, Romance, And Marketing Cross-Genre Books

One reason a lot of writers love publishing their own work is that it need not fit nearly into one box.

My Awakening Series, for example, fits into Horror as that category existed  when I was growing up. Back then it included what I think of as “quiet horror”–like Stephen King’s The Dead Zone (my favorite King novel) or The Omen. (In case you’re trying to figure out how old I am based on that, I’ll tell you–51.)

Yes, The Omen had some scenes considered shocking at the time and a little bit of gore, but it mainly relied on psychological and supernatural suspense.

These days, some publishers wouldn’t consider that to be horror. As an independently-published writer, though, I can choose to write books like it, and I can  market to readers who love what I love regardless what it’s called.

Some writers also are drawn to indie publishing because it allows them to cross genres in the same book.

Indies are free, for example, to include romance in science fiction or add a supernatural element to crime fiction (such as J. F. Penn does in her London psychic/London crime thriller series, which is my favorite of hers).

Traditional publishing tended to frown on these types of books, finding them hard to market.

In some ways, though, things haven’t changed. Indie or traditional, it can be a challenge to market books that don’t fit neatly into a genre category.

That’s why this week I’m recommending an episode of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Marketing Podcast that specifically addresses marketing a book that falls in more than one genre.

In A Successful Cross-Genre Launch with Chris Fox, author Chris Fox is interviewed about creating covers that hint at more than one genre but aren’t overbusy, how to use Amazon Ads to test tag lines pre-launch, and reader reactions to cross-genre books, plus many other points to help writers market their work.

In keeping with the theme, I recommend this podcast episode whether you write science fiction and/or fantasy or not because the tips and information are relevant to everyone.

SFFMP 156: Finding Success with a Cross-Genre Book Launch with Chris Fox


Until Sunday-

L. M. Lilly