This Friday, I'm recommending The Prosperous Writers Guide To Making More Money: Habits, Tactics, And Strategies For Making A Living As A Writer by Brian D. Meeks and Honorée Corder.
This book covers in a fun way why it's important to understand the numbers involved in selling books. Also, and more importantly, the authors show you how to use those numbers to increase your sales. Focusing mainly on Amazon, the book helps you figure out whether the cost of an ad is worth it, whether your book description and cover are helping you sell your novel or hurting your chances, and how to choose keywords that can get your novel in front of the new readers.
Even if you are not yet publishing, or if your novels are published by a publishing company, it’s worth reading this book to better understand the factors that affect sales and how visible your novel will be on Amazon.
Much of the The Prosperous Writer's Guide is helpful for other publishing platforms, too. The authors include tips on improving your book description and how to evaluate whether and how much overall sales have improved based on different ads or changes to your book description or cover.
I hope that's helpful.
Until Sunday, when I'll talk about the cost involved in creating an audiobook edition of your novel–
Weekends are supposed to be a time to relax, yet most of us find them filled with all the responsibilities and tasks we didn't get to during the week. When you're also fitting writing into your schedule and/or you have a career that requires working weekends some or all of the time, that can add to the pressure. Instead of relaxing, you're stressing more because you're not relaxing.
That's why this Friday I'm recommending an episode of The Petal To The Metal where two authors talk about weekend time and the balance between enjoying life and getting things done. I was drawn to this because they offer tips and alternate perspectives and acknowledge that there's no one-size-fits-all answer. As I noted in Tips For Writing Novels While Working More Than Full Time, not everyone can follow generic advice (like get up an hour early, write every day, or write during your lunch hour). But that doesn't mean you can't finish a novel or that you shouldn't enjoy life while you do.
L. M. Lilly
This Friday I recommend a post by an author on her experience with assisted publishing. As I wrote about in Do You Need A Publisher, Part 1, these types of publishing services assist with the tasks authors who self-publish do on their own, such as uploading books to different platforms, finding a cover designer, and editing. Some charge a flat up front fee and others get paid through a percentage of royalties.
Author Maggie Cammiss thought this sounded like a reasonable deal when offered by a division of the traditional publisher who'd published the first novel in her series. Some challenges arose, though, with the paperback edition that led her to wonder.
Read about her experience here:
Getting Back on the Horse
See you again Sunday, when I'll talk about creating time to write as you manage your first profession.
L. M. Lilly
This Friday I'm recommending a book that's a quick read with a mix of inspiration and business advice for writers: Iterate and Optimize: Optimize Your Creative Business for Profit by Sean Platt, Johnny B. Truant, and David Wright of the Self Publishing Podcast.
What I like most about it is that it encourages writers to get started or to grow their business rather than being frozen by indecision and concern about doing the “wrong” thing.
Under this philosophy, let's say you finished a novel you're pretty happy with. You spent the last two years writing and revising in the early mornings and a few weekends carved out of your other job or profession. Rather than spending two more years tweaking it for fear of rejection or bad reviews, the Iterate and Optimize approach encourages you to start querying agents or to publish it yourself and to get on with your next novel. If you get rejections on the first, or it isn't as well-received as you hoped, or you discover six months from now that the cover you got fairly cheaply doesn't match your target market, you can both improve and update the first novel and use what you learned in your second.
The book also provides a lot of solid information not only about self-publishing but about growing a business. Even if you're planning to stay focused on your current career and write on the side, and so feel you don't need to worry about the business, this is worth a read. It's quick and interesting and will give you context for the ever-changing publishing world where your books will live.
The Amazon blurb and the book itself suggest reading the authors' Write. Publish. Repeat. first. I haven't read it, so I can only say I got a lot out of Iterate and Optimize without having done so, though it's possible I missed something in the process.
Until Sunday —
L. M. Lilly
If you've attended a writing seminar or read an article or post about story structure or about filmmaking, you've probably heard about The Hero's Journey. Based on an analysis by Joseph Campbell of myths across cultures and through the ages, it is used in many successful movies, including my favorite, The Terminator. Many novelists use it as well.
This Friday's recommendation is a succinct (8 minutes 40 seconds, to be exact) explanation of The Hero's Journey from The Journeyman Writer:
I hope you find this helpful. Best wishes for a productive and/or relaxing weekend!
L. M. Lilly
P.S. If you'd like to try a simple, quick way to plot enough of your novel to provide structure without locking yourself into a detailed outline to soon, try Super Simple Story Structure: A Quick Guide to Plotting and Writing Your Novel.
The first time I published a novel, I took part in an on-line book release promotion that included nine thrillers, each priced at 99 cents for the ebook edition. That was in 2011. The promotion brought me to my first 200 sales for The Awakening, which was very exciting at the time. Over the next few years thousands of copies sold but I was running a busy law practice and didn't release Book 2 in the series for another three years. Not the best marketing plan, but that's a topic for another day.
One of the other thriller writers who took part, Russell Blake, was writing full time. He published thriller after thriller, became a New York Times and USA Today best selling author, collaborated with Clive Cussler, and now has an Amazon world devoted to one of his series. (OK, I'll stop now because I'm getting depressed.)
In 2015, Blake wrote a great post about what he would have told himself as newbie author. It's a funny and informative article, the main thrust of which is that if you're successful as an author, you've bought yourself a job. You can check it out here. Please share your thoughts on it in the comments.
Have a great weekend.
L. M. Lilly
This Friday's recommendation is an episode from the website that I find most useful on writing and publishing, The Creative Penn. (The double-n comes from host Joanna Penn's last name.) Joanna interviews Damon Courtney, the founder of BookFunnel.com. BookFunnel is one way authors can offer a free book for various purposes, such as providing review copies or giving readers a free book to sign up for an email list. He and Joanna also discuss the rise of indie publishing.
Joanna generally spends the first part of each show updating listeners on her publishing journey and commenting on tweets and emails. If you want to skip to the interview, click this link, hit play, and move to 19:30.
Have a good weekend! Stop back on Sunday for a new post.
L. M. Lilly
P.S. Joanna always includes bullet points from and a transcript of the interview on the page with the episode, so scroll down if you'd rather read it or prefer to skim the content before listening.
If you’ve ever wondered why novels are classified as literary versus genre/commercial fiction, why you love a book your friend calls “trash” or vice versa, or whether you are writing literary or popular/commercial fiction, this 10-minute Journeyman Writer episode is for you.
In this episode, my favorite writing podcast covers—in the clearest fashion I’ve ever heard or read—the distinction between genre and literary fiction. As always, host Alastair Stephens sticks to the point, is thoughtful and entertaining, and has a voice you’ll love to listen to.
You can listen at the link below or follow the instructions to download to your phone or listen on iTunes (or whatever podcast app you use).
Episode 15: Genre vs. Literature
Have a wonderful weekend.
L. M. Lilly