10 Things I’ve Learned About Being A Novelist

Isaac Asimov On Throne

Today’s guest post is by Roger Colby, author and English teacher.  His previous guest post was ‘J.R.R. Tolkiens Top 10 Tips For Writers.’   

Roger has been through the mill of writing and is currently taking part in NaNoWriMo. (National Novel Writing Month.)  He has written this post to help other writers by revealing what he’s learned on his voyage of discovery as a writer.

  Note: Both Roger and I are interested to hear your thoughts on these issues.  Please do leave a comment at the end of the article.

Over to Roger…

Roger ColbyIt has been a year and a half since I started my own blog, ‘Writing Is Hard Work’ and I thought I would write a retrospective about some of the things I have learned about writing novels and the publishing industry in general that would be some good knowledge for people just starting out.

This post is intended for people who are new to writing a novel and wanting to publish it.  These are the things I wish I had known when I first began this process.  I hope this saves precious time that would better serve the writer doing what they do best, which is writing.

1. Be Wary of Agents

Agents are great if you can get them, but sometimes there are so called “agencies” out there who happily feed you lines of encouragement in order to get you to “publish” with them or buy whatever it is that they are selling.

Literary Agency ContractI will not mention any names here, but as soon as an “agent” begins to talk to you about paying them for “publishing” or “publicity”, run in the other direction. Agents (by tradition) only make money if you make money, and if your agent is asking for it up front they are not really an agent.

Agents also will happily provide a list of successes they have had in the past. When in doubt, check the agent’s name or company on this database. It will tell you everything you need to know about them.

2. Take Writing Courses

I graduated from Oklahoma Baptist University with an English degree, and whilst toiling away at said monicker, I happened to take several creative writing workshops and seminars. The truth is, I still enjoy a good writing workshop now and again. It keeps my writer’s pen sharp. If you think you know it all, then think again.

3. Editing Services

Manuscript For EditingEven though I hold a degree in English, I still go to other people to edit my work.

There is no better eye than someone else’s when it comes to finding your mistakes, discovering when beloved characters need to completely disappear, or when the dialogue is made of cardboard. I charge $1 a page (and that’s cheap), but find someone you trust and by all means pay them, even if they are a colleague and would just like dinner.

4. ISBN Numbers

The best money I’ve spent as a writer, except maybe for an editing job, is throwing down the hard earned cash for a set of ISBN numbers.

isbnI recently purchased 10 of them for a hefty $250, but it is well worth it to list your book under your own name if you self-publish.

You could take the free ISBN that is issued by CreateSpace (which I’ll discuss next) but then your novel will be published under Amazon’s name, and not yours.  It is so cool to be the publisher as well as the author and also to be listed in search engines.

Bowker will request an upload of a PDF copy of your book to enter into search engines and other internet “find-it” places.  You should only need 2 ISBN numbers for each novel you write so the ten numbers will last a while (unless you write like Isaac Asimov).

And by all means, pay the $35 bucks to copyright your work online with the government. It’s worth it.

5. CreateSpace

I really love Amazon’s self-publishing machine.  I have a tutorial about how to use Scrivener to produce a CreateSpace book here.

Create Space

It is an easy and cost effective way to produce a print edition of your book, but there are ways you should use it to best utilize your money and time, and then there are ways that you should not.

One important thing to note is that (unless you already knew) CreateSpace books are non-returnable, so you will have to buy author’s copies and then find book stores willing to sell your books “on consignment”.

This takes leg work on your part, but it’s worth it to help get the word out about your book. You get to buy the printed copies at a discount and can then sell them for the cover price at conventions, do book signings, and then use the money you make from that to buy replacement author copies to continue the cycle.

6. Digital Editions

I have several tutorials about how to use Scrivener to create Kindle, Nook, and iBooks versions of your novel, but recently I’ve been thinking that less is more.

Smashwords will convert a text file of your novel to a “Smashwords Edition” and then offer it on all formats mentioned above (plus several more), and all for the same price of sale.  It is a good idea to read and follow the style guide offered by Smashwords as a free e-book.  Read it cover to cover and do what it says.  The directions are pretty simple and can alleviate any headaches with formatting.

Go ahead and upload a Kindle version of your book after your CreateSpace copy publishes because it’s nice to link that to your book.  Be sure to provide a link to the Smashwords versions (all in one handy place) on your website.

7. Blog

I can’t say enough about the importance of blogging as a writer.

Author Blog

I have met some great people: fellow writers, publishers, artists, publishers and agents.  I’ve also received advice from some very experienced people who are in this self-publishing game.

I have been able to vent my frustrations, get feedback, find editing clients, discover new and interesting ways to reach out to the public to promote my books, and have ample grist for the writing mill.  If nothing else, it allows me to jump-start my writing energy so that I can keep going.

Blogging has also kept me honest.  I’ve been maintaining my blog for longer than most projects I have started and never finished.  It is something I look forward to doing, and hopefully I’ve helped some of you out along the way.  Don’t forget to comment on other blogs, write about other blogs and like often.

I don’t do it enough, and it is the one thing I have to make time to do.

8. Cover Art

Do some research about this.  There are tons of covers out there that are downright horrible, yet the people who either hire it out to professional artists or spend hours researching what makes a cover pop are the ones who make the difference.

They say you can’t judge a book by its cover, but in the digital book game it can mean the difference between someone picking up your book or hitting the back button.

Design ObserverI frequent The Book Cover Archive, and Design Observer releases the top 50 book covers every year.  They are all worth taking a look.

Ask yourself what makes them so good, then read articles about design, and if in doubt, hire it out.

9. Social Media

Bestseller Labs - Social Media

I am on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Goodreads, Google+ and LinkedIn.

I stay connected to many people in the industry this way, and sometimes use it for advertising. However, the most important thing you need to do with social media is not to advertise but to engage the public.  I spend more time on social media than I do posting blog entries or commenting on other people’s blogs and I need to do a better job of balancing that.

When you teach full time and have four children sometimes the time escapes your grasp (if that is even a worthy metaphor).  Be sure to link your blog to social media accounts as well.

10. Stay With It

This one is last, but it is probably the most important.

There have been many times in the past few weeks that I have wanted to throw in the towel, and it’s probably why I haven’t posted as much as I’d like.  I have a dream of being a best-selling novelist, but that dream may never happen (and I’m not getting any younger).

I do not have any illusions about the publishing industry.  If there is anything this year and a half has taught me it is that realizing my dream is the same as someone who dreams about winning the lottery, but what causes that guy to keep buying the tickets?   He thinks that he will one day get lucky.  I know that luck is not something that is tangible, but I’ll keep at it. I can’t explain why. I just love writing, and even if only two or three people read my books and enjoy them, then I’ve done my job.

I’m a fan of my own stuff, but I guess I have to be. I’ll keep writing, keep publishing, keep moving forward. One day it’s gotta click, right?

Guest article by Roger Colby.  Author & English Teacher 

Roger Colby





Thanks to Roger Colby for this article.   My related book-marketing guides can be located here: Blogging For Authors and Twitter for Authors.  

Jonathan Gunson  

The writer’s life is full of ups and downs.  What lessons have you learned during your own journey?  Please do share them in the comments, I’d love to hear them.

Notice:  This article is  copyrighted material.  © Copyright Bestseller Labs. Reproduction of brief snippets of this article with a link to this site are permitted, but it may not be reproduced in full anywhere without the written permission of Jonathan Gunson at BestsellerLabs.com

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  • c s hare says:
    November 6, 2013 at 7:05am

    hi! i have a few things published on smashwords and i agree completely about the cover – i worked in a book store for three years and i can’t tell you how many times i’ve had to say something like “i know it doesn’t LOOK like much but trust me – there’s an excellent story in there”. if i had owned the shop, there’s about a dozen good titles i’d’ve covered with plain white paper!

    i’m not doing nanowrimo this year because bills.

  • James Loftus says:
    November 6, 2013 at 7:08am

    A very interesting and informative column. I agree wholeheartedly with the content particularly with the value of Amazon Kindle, which is where I published my book, Celtic Blood. All the traditional publishers fobbed me off. Look at me know, suckers … Jonathon you are such a cool bloke, starting these conversations and being helpful, which is so damn cool. I could imagine having a beer and talking writing with you bro. Roger, of course you are invited! Your intelligence and big heartedness shine through in this article.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 6, 2013 at 7:27am

      Re “All the traditional publishers fobbed me off.” Revenge is sweet James. And you really should look over Roger’s blog – he is totally committed to his work.
      ~ Jonathan

      • November 6, 2013 at 2:12pm

        This is the steepest learning curver I’ve ever experienced, and a lot of what Roger says has become familiar territory over the last few days. At 69 I’ve developed the same mentality as Asimov, and am in a hurry! This article has given me extra inspiration, although I’m not enchanted with CreateSpace and will not use them again. I paid good money to get a review from Kirkus and it looked like it was written by a drunk in a bar.
        As for the literary agents listed in The Literary Agents Guide for 2013 – well, what a bunch of influential losers! Just look at some of the more informed comments on them; they’re all singing from the wrong hymn sheet.
        But well done and thank you.

    • November 6, 2013 at 1:59pm

      I could fill a penthouse hotel room with the rejection notices I have received. I think that the self-publishing world is so much more diverse than it was in ages past. It is no longer “vanity press”, but a way for good writers to break through the glass ceiling of the publishing world, guarded by the agents and the publishing conglomerates. Keep writing, keep publishing, and never give up.

      • November 6, 2013 at 7:53pm


      • Annette Mardis says:
        November 14, 2013 at 4:57am

        Thanks for the encouragement, Roger and Jonathan. It is indeed a brave new world out there. I’d like to offer a word of caution to other newbies: Be wary of all the e-mails you’ll get about classes, author services, boot camps, etc. that promise things they can’t deliver or information you can get for free if you are willing to look for it online. If you have a lot of disposable income, by all means pay someone to format your e-books or query publishers or agents for you. But you CAN do it yourself if you’re willing to expend the time and effort. I don’t enjoy the self-promotional and technical stuff, but I’m learning to do it. Time will tell how good I am at it. Be patient and hang in there. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, and it’s not necessarily a train.

        • Jonathan Gunson says:
          November 14, 2013 at 8:34pm

          That’s the spirit Annette.
          ~ Jonathan

  • November 6, 2013 at 7:09am

    I’ve written a daily blog of views on news for year 2013. I get an average of 300 people reading the blog daily, I’ve engaged with people, but so far, no sales have resulted. As you know blogging takes up plenty of energy and a lot of precious time. Maybe I’ve reached the point where I should give up. I love writing, and I’m with you on wanting to continue during my waning years. If nothing else, writing is a wonderful hobby to keep your mind sharp.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 6, 2013 at 7:37am

      Directly linking blogging with sales is too direct a way of looking at this business. (Although it is possible that people may buy directly after reading a blog post.) Instead, see it as your home base, the place that publishers, publicists and all your supporters including existing readers can visit to see what you’re are up to – an investment that’s more about building relationships with ‘helpers’ rather than seeing it as a sort of ‘direct sales billboard’.
      Keep on with the blog, and keep in touch – I’ll help if I can.
      ~ Jonathan

      • Angie Neto says:
        November 6, 2013 at 2:33pm

        Have read Roger’s words of wisdom and found them a treasure chest of inspiration for a new writer like me, who should have started years ago but now being middle of the road in years find time is passing me by too quickly to be discovered by a publisher. Will take your advise and look at self publishing on smashwords and createspace. Thanks :)

  • November 6, 2013 at 7:21am

    Hi, an interesting blog. I’ve never looked for an agent. I decided to be my own agent and went with ebooks, rather than hard copy. This way I don’t have any boxes of books in the garage.
    I have a website and a blog. I belong to a few lists and facebook. Mostly I’d prefer to just write but I know social media is a force to be reckoned with.
    I’ve just put audio excerpts up on my blog. Great fun to create. Without my critique partners I’d still be unpublished. Thank you for all the information. I may yet self-publish a children’s book.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 6, 2013 at 7:42am

      You have it right in my view. Writing needs to remain central. My own balance is 70% creative, 30% marketing. Check out this post on how to get totally wrecked trying to do social media – I think you’ll find it relevant!
      Looking forward to your children’s book.
      ~ Jonathan

    • November 6, 2013 at 2:00pm

      Audio excerpts are a great idea! This gives readers with busy lives a chance to hear your work in a brief amount of time and decide on purchasing your books. Excellent thought!

  • Michael says:
    November 6, 2013 at 7:28am

    After years dealing with Hollywood agents, producers, screenwriting contests, and wannabe filmmakers, I agree with much of what Roger Colby says in his article. Now that I’m writing novels, I find his advice that much more pertinent. Especially being wary of “agents” who promise the moon—If you’ll pay them up front. The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don’t know about the publishing business.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 6, 2013 at 7:45am

      All the best with your novels. Do keep me posted here.
      ~ Jonathan

    • Angie Neto says:
      November 6, 2013 at 2:25pm

      Thanks Jonathan for posting this very interesting article from Roger. His every word is a pearl of wisdom as I am a new writer looking to self publish. Have just started a blog and learning my way around twitter, tumblr and pinit. As technical jargon leaves me spaced out, reading helpful information from the likes of Roger and youself Jonathan are a blessing beyond description. Thank you ♥

      • Jonathan Gunson says:
        November 6, 2013 at 11:19pm

        Yes, agree there’s no need for complex language in description – either here or in fiction.
        ~ Jonathan

  • November 6, 2013 at 7:52am

    Roger, It’s a post and article I could’ve written myself. We walked down the same path.

    Is any of you at NaNoWriMo? I am, and ahead of schedule :)

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 6, 2013 at 8:35am

      ‘Ahead of schedule.’
      Starting out with a hiss and a roar then. Intrigued to see how it’s going a week from now. Standing by Sir.
      ~ Jonathan

      • November 6, 2013 at 9:28am

        Will hold my ground and conquer more. So far, NaNoWriMo says I’ll be reaching my target the 22nd, let’s see whether I’m able to keep writing (good) at that rhythm .

    • November 6, 2013 at 2:02pm

      Unfortunately, I am behind with NaNoWriMo. Try writing a novel and teaching a bunch of angst ridden teenagers how to write a college level research paper at the same time. I’ll have something to submit at the end of the month, though, and that’s the goal.

      • Angie Neto says:
        November 6, 2013 at 2:29pm

        Good luck with Nano and achieving your goal Roger.
        Thanks again for your brilliant article here on Jonathan site. A true inspiration for a new writer like me. Thanks.

      • November 6, 2013 at 7:55pm

        Good luck with NaNoWriMo

  • November 6, 2013 at 8:01am

    Great article!!!!! Not a point I disagree with and yep. this is like my tenth or eleventh year on NANOWRIMO

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 6, 2013 at 8:24am

      That’s truly Herculean perseverance. Open mouthed admiration at your constancy. (I’m trying.)
      ~ Jonathan

    • November 6, 2013 at 9:45am

      Wow, tenth or elevenths NaNoWriMo. Any advice for newcomers? I’m sad I left San Francisco in 2001. I would have joined the dinner.

      • Jonathan Gunson says:
        November 6, 2013 at 9:58am

        Massimo. If I lived in the US I’d only live in one place…. San Fran. It stole my heart long ago.
        ~ Jonathan

        • November 6, 2013 at 7:56pm

          Absolutely. We left friends there and I’d return living there in a blink.

  • Karen says:
    November 6, 2013 at 8:10am

    Oh good grief, Roger! I did not know that my novel would be published under Amazon’s name if I got the free ISBN issued by CreateSpace! Will be looking out for your article about that.

    What I do know is that Scrivener is fantastic not only for the formatting options but the whole novel writing experience. Here’s a quick overview video for those who haven’t seen it yet http://youtu.be/TmgMFsFkhx4 (ps. I am not affiliated with Scrivener. I just love the software)

    Thanks for some really great tips, Roger and thanks as always, Jonathan, for consistently coming up with the best resources.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 6, 2013 at 8:33am

      I have to confess I don’t use scrivener… yet … but am completely convinced that it’s the right tool for me.

    • November 6, 2013 at 2:04pm

      I absolutely love Scrivener. It is the one tool that has blossomed my writing ability. It doesn’t hinder me in any way, but enhances any ability I have. It keeps me on task, is fun to use, and I do not know what I would do without it.

  • Venkatesh Iyer says:
    November 6, 2013 at 8:48am

    Whan you say you charge $1 a page for editing, what size of page/specs in terms of words or characters/anything would you be talking about?

    • November 6, 2013 at 2:04pm

      Double spaced, 12 pt font.

  • Jane says:
    November 6, 2013 at 8:51am

    To be honest, I don’t think there’s anything new or original that’s been said in this article. It’s all been said over and over again by numerous writers and aspiring writers. Perhaps the key to getting people to buy your books and read your blog is actually to write something original. Too many writers spend too much time talking about the process rather than getting on with it.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 6, 2013 at 9:16am

      Jane. Truly, relentlessly world-weary writers often forget that most new writers are not aware of these concepts, and find having them articulated again extremely helpful and refreshing – as you will see in their comments. I might also add that Roger writes way more than he talks about the process.

  • November 6, 2013 at 9:10am

    If, as Jane (above) says, a lot of stuff here is repeated elsewhere, so what? It doesn’t take away the importance of repeating certain mantras as a writer to help you get through the process. Thanks for another great resource.

  • November 6, 2013 at 9:15am

    Interesting post. Thanks, Jonathan and Roger.

    I am currently pitching my debut novel, The Serpent Sword, and querying agents… I will beware of agents bearing promises of the world for money.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 6, 2013 at 9:21am

      Matthew. Re agents: The famous Drummond clan motto ‘Gang Warily’ springs to mind. (Go carefully.) Keep me posted re how your pitch goes. Exciting stage to have reached.
      ~ Jonathan

  • November 6, 2013 at 9:44am

    Thanks very much, Jonathan and Roger, for sharing your insights. I heartily agree!
    Your readers might like to hear about my own experiences regarding the South African book trade, and the way things are turning out now that the Kindle version of my psychological thriller, ‘The 18th Variation,’ is available on Amazon.
    I wrote the novel without realizing that finding a publisher can be harder than the actual writing itself. In addition the South African book market is small – 5000 copies are rated a bestseller – and readers are starkly divided by language, since many conservative Afrikaans people believe that their language is under siege. This turned out to be more of an obstacle than I expected, exacerbated by the fact, probably, that the book contains a painfully realistic description of life in a South African village.
    Worse was the fact that my small Afrikaans publisher – now bankrupt – operated on a 50/50 cost-sharing basis. Yes, I know, the writer SHOUDN’T ever have to pay! The upshot was that I ended up with several boxes of books at home which cost me roughly R280 ($28) each. Those copies are now selling on the local market at a loss, but for me this depressing situation turned around when readers began to tell me they really liked the book.
    Next, in the USA Barista Bookstore then agreed to re-issue ‘The 18th Variation’ with an eye-catching new cover drawn by Sam Hunt. Incidentally, readers are invited to download that new Kindle version on Amazon for free on the 25th of November.
    Regards from John van den Berg

    • November 6, 2013 at 9:46am

      John, excellent to know that at least in one country I would be touted as an outstanding revelation and a new Best Seller :)

    • November 6, 2013 at 9:50am

      Thanks Jonathan for another helpful and interesting post. As a new author I might have read some of the information before but sometimes it does get forgotten. A reminder and some new tips are always useful. Keep posting and thanks again.
      Jacqui Penn

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 6, 2013 at 9:55am

      5000 copies is a bestseller here in New Zealand too. That’s the main reason I went to so much trouble to publish The Merlin Mystery in the UK. BTW, do post a link to the free version of your book kindle please in a new comment. You’re more than welcome.
      ~ Jonathan

    • November 6, 2013 at 2:07pm

      I always remember that no matter the book sales, if one person reads it that is not a family member or a friend or even an acquaintance…and praises it…you have won every personal battle.

      • November 6, 2013 at 3:05pm

        Thanks Roger, it certainly gives one a glow. Regards, J

  • November 6, 2013 at 10:00am

    Thank you… writers are doing it for themselves… :-)

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 6, 2013 at 11:20pm

      Your work proceeds apace?

  • Steven says:
    November 6, 2013 at 10:01am

    I’ve been “blogging” for about a year now and I’m not getting any comments, replies, likes, or what have you. I find it a waste of my time because I look at yours Jonathan and I realize that I’m doing something wrong because you have constant feed back and comments and praise. I don’t know if I have the time to give all my focus to blogging when I barely have enough time to write. What do you suggest?

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 6, 2013 at 11:35am


      Writing always needs to stay at the forefront, no question. My own balance is 70% creative, 30% marketing.

      If your blog content is written to be interesting to the visitor by being about (relevant) things THEY will be intrigued by rather than all about your books, then that is a great start. But you also need to put time in to attracting people to your blog. Here’s some examples of what I do:

      1. I grow an e-mail list, then mail out to it each time there’s new post. (I build that list by giving something away for free on my site in exchange as you can see.)
      2. I use my Twitter account to announce it there with a link to the blog post – several times – with intriguing or mysterious teases.
      3. I place it on Facebook too – with an image derived the top of the blog post.

      It all takes time to build- I’ve been on Twitter for 5 years now for example. It also pays to specialize in only one or two social media channels. That way you’ll become an expert and more effective.

      Helpful blog post: http://bestsellerlabs.com/social-media-train-wreck-that-authors-must-avoid/

      Plus also see this comment by Roger Colby


      ~ Jonathan

      • November 6, 2013 at 1:03pm

        I wasn’t getting much traffic on my site/blog, either, until I started submitting my posts to Reddit. Then, I got more views in ONE DAY than I’d had in total for 3 months! not sure where that’s going, but i submit to Reddit now at least 3 times/week. I submitted THIS post to Reddit, linking back to here! So, we’ll see!

        • November 7, 2013 at 3:14pm

          Hi I am a newbie author, having just published my novel “The Cinderella Reflex’ on Amazon this week! Very scary but thrilling too.
          I have been blogging for three months after buying Jonathan’s blogging for authors course in August. I am enjoying it but sometimes I feel I am very much working in the dark. For instance, while I know there is such a thing as Reddit I’m not entirely sure what it is or how to submit my blog to it. Sometimes I feel self-publishing and social media feels like I’m learning Japanese – with no teacher.

          • Jonathan Gunson says:
            November 7, 2013 at 10:42pm

            There’s no question that with early stage publishing online, one can sometimes feel like deer in the headlights. So let me make life a little easier for you:
            With social media it pays to avoid trying be in too many places at once. Instead it’s more effective to become expert at just a couple, such as Facebook, Twitter and a blog, otherwise all your efforts will be dissipated. We are constantly bombarded by shouts of “you need to be on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, Digg, Pinterest, G+, YouTube, Klout, Goodreads, Flickr et al…” But doing all that will simply cause one to derail. Better to be a master of one trade than a Jack of many. Guidance blog post for you: http://bestsellerlabs.com/social-media-train-wreck-that-authors-must-avoid
            Best wishes and good luck with ‘The Cinderella Reflex.’
            ~ Jonathan

    • November 6, 2013 at 2:09pm

      Regiment your time. I slot an hour on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for writing on the blog. Find a niche that you can speak to, something that really interests you. Get the WordPress app (or an app for reading blog feeds) and when you are at the doctor’s office, waiting for a train, or sitting in traffic, read, respond, and like other people’s blogs. It’s a community, and in order to best utilize it, you have to communicate with the community.

      • Kim Hruba says:
        November 6, 2013 at 2:46pm

        Tweet your posts, share them on Google + share them across social media. I like HootSuite.

  • November 6, 2013 at 10:22am

    Thanks Jonathan and Roger. Always pertinent and useful information even if we have heard it before. we DO forget, but slowly the penny drops.
    I agree with Roger, that if only a few read my book and have found it of value, then it has been worth it. We write because we have to, because we have a story to tell, and there is value in the sharing of stories.
    Thanks again.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 6, 2013 at 11:35pm

      That passion has to remain central. Above all, we write to be read, not just ‘published’ or ‘on book store shelves’.
      ~ Jonathan

  • November 6, 2013 at 10:24am

    Thanx for the links Roger, very useful:)
    I published my first book on Kindle, had 12 books published with a main-stream publisher now I’ve decided to self-publish my next book (as it’s very niche) so your post arrived just at the right time!
    Will try out the Scrivener thingie as I want to use Create-Space and NOT get a headache!!
    All the best
    In Peace
    Mary xx

    • November 6, 2013 at 2:10pm

      I have several tutorials about using Scrivener on my blog. Just search “Scrivener” in the search bar.

  • November 6, 2013 at 10:26am

    Hi, it was great reading your blog. Completely agreed with almost all points, especially –

    “but as soon as an “agent” begins to talk to you about paying them for “publishing” or “publicity”, run in the other direction.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 6, 2013 at 11:36pm

      Agree entirely. Run like the wind.
      ~ Jonathan

  • November 6, 2013 at 10:48am

    Thanks Jonathan and Roger, for sharing this. I have read similar articles, but there is always something new tucked away in each one. In the above it was the tip about buying your own ISBN’s first and copyrighting your work with the government (is there a link for the latter?). Lots to consider.

  • November 6, 2013 at 11:20am

    I too seem to be doing all the right things, must admit I didn’t know about Amazon and the ISBN’S. Would it really make a difference? I use Lulu for POD, is it the same for them?
    Thanks again for obviously caring about us lesser mortals (the great unwanted)

    • November 6, 2013 at 1:05pm

      I’m also about to self-pub this week, “This Changes Everthing,” Volume I, “The Spanners Series,” via Smashwords and never heard about the ISBN thing or the gov’t copyright thing. Smashwords says we’re copyrighted through ourselves and we put that on the title page. Why would that not be true? And, why would I need or want “my own” ISBN? Please explain?

      • November 6, 2013 at 2:13pm

        You want your own ISBN because if you publish your book through Smashwords or Amazon, the book is in their name and not yours. When people look it up via ISBN, they will see that Amazon or Smashwords hold the ownership of the ISBN. Cut out the middle man.

  • November 6, 2013 at 12:00pm

    Sometimes, I wished I had met Jonathan a year ago before I spent my last year’s savings paying for a package from a “self-publishing” firm…but, no I can’t play the “regret” line and though my savings can’t be rescued I will be glad helping new/ prospective writers on the right path to publishing(am still new though, smiling). Thanks once again Jonathan, & Roger…you rock! Bless your darling heart guys. @Jonathan, I still need to get to ebook wink*(any improvements yet? ).

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 6, 2013 at 11:37pm

      I’ll be in touch. I have an idea.
      ~ Jonathan

  • November 6, 2013 at 12:00pm

    Great article. I certainly understand the part about being discouraged. However we must realize we are getting a chance to publish (good or bad) where as before there was no chance. But as a writer, I’m getting tired of trying to do all of this social media engagement outside of twitter or maybe facebook. Going to forums everyday and blogging everyday just takes up too much time and seems to offer fewer rewards. And then to add Pinterest and Stumbleupon. It’s way too much.
    When I first started this self pub thing in earnest in late 2011 (the good old days before retailers started tweaking things for the worse) I had a short story that took off on its own. Yes it had an eye catching cover in a specific genre, but I didn’t do anything to promote it. So I think it’s best for the writer to write and let self discovery and serendipity do its work.

    • November 6, 2013 at 2:14pm

      I use Hootsuite. It’s an app/website that allows you to see all the feeds and post on all the feeds at once.

  • November 6, 2013 at 12:08pm

    Hello Jonathan,

    I awoke to your e.mail and promptly read dear Roger’s article.

    Thanks. I found it strangely comforting. He is right about agents. When working as a playwright I eventually found an agent. By then I realised I was to achieve little by her presence in my life beyond the ability of putting her name to my letter head. It made some superior ‘nose in the air’ theatre people say in their superior voices, ‘Oh, you’ve got an agent!’ as if that was a sign that I was one degree above scum.

    I became my own agent and today use my brother as my advisor and he shields me from unwanted phone calls, reads any mail I am unsure of, and talks over ideas etc.

    I am nowadays e.published by VDU Publishing in Glasgow. I have never paid for publication. There I have the amazing use of an editor assigned to my work and who is consistent and helpful in the kindest possible way.

    I never dream of being a world wide name, but through Twitter and Facebook I have spread my name further than I ever imagined.
    My theory about fame is biblical – a prophet is always without honour in his own country.
    – I worked hard at choosing a theme that is particular to myself – Old Age [74 in January]
    – The worst challenge for me was being dyslexic – the spelling variety – I still get pulled over the coals about it. It hurts but I have to take it on the chin.
    I promote e.books because they are frequently cheaper
    I promote e.books because when my eyes fail I can instantly enlarge the font
    I promote e.books because it is a consistent weight in my hands and the light on the screen means I can read easily in bed.
    As a former craft teacher I drifted into theatre through costume making and teaching vocal dexterity to youngsters who wanted to act but were vocally handicapped in some way.
    I don’t try to be too clever in my story lines.
    I do write about what I know even when in Nicer in NICE I write of a conman who is a rapist.
    13 years in a Sheltered housing complex because of disability taught me a great deal about the truth ‘You are in old age what you were in your youth!’ Bullying children become bullies in old age, I had learnt to be scared as a child and find I am still scared when confronting bullies. My brother rescued me and took me into his care when he retired. I now live happily with him and write most of the day. It doesn’t matter whether it sells, but I do hope that it says something to the few who will read it.
    You can cope if you realise that most people in the world never read, so ordinary silly books like mine are as good as a comic to them.
    I have no grandiose ideas about the value of what i write – I think I am a disappointment to my editor.

    Hope this is of some use to Roger – do encourage him, he always comes across on Twitter as a nice person. We only have the gifts time, life and maybe God has given us – writing is one of them – so I use it.

    Do let me know how things are for you.


    • November 6, 2013 at 2:21pm

      Thank you so much for the advice. I will follow it. If we ignore advice from those who have more experience, we are fools indeed. I appreciate your encouraging words and wish you the best.

  • November 6, 2013 at 12:59pm

    Hi Jonathan and Roger,

    Thanks for the post, helpful information is always welcome. The scrivener help is brilliant, will be using that for my next createspace novel.

    As for blogging, like Roger said, the time it takes on social media engaging and keeping track does take the time. Personally I have a laptop or tablet open in the evening, so when ad breaks are on I scan and respond.

    I don’t blog, I think there are many better bloggers than me (hence reading this) so I would rather spend my time creating the next book.

    Doing NaNoWriMo for my first year, passed 10,000 words and still slogging away. Of course it will probably take a month to edit. 😀

    Thanks Jonathan.

  • November 6, 2013 at 1:08pm

    Dear Sir,
    Thank You for attention and fore subscribed in Your site.The honor and delighted is mine.I am artist ,designer and space designer look like architect .I also am writer and have one unfinished book with many novels inside.Because I have some huge infrastructure projects which have so huge interest to big investors and country I was put onpress and also was put on economical and human right persecution.The goals of government and authority was to be exhausted myself and to been robbery all my projects, intellectual property and estate.For hereto I have not possibility to publish some of my stories from my novel in my country even that they are best seller. You can read some chapter in my site:
    I need for help and sell or have willing to be publish some of my novel which have approximately 26 chapter.I should be very thankful if some one help me outside of my country to made my novel in circulation.Thank You for attention and previously Thank You for any kind of help.Sincerely Milan Iliev

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 6, 2013 at 11:40pm

      It is difficult to find a publisher in your situation yes, so one path to take is on Amazon using the Kindle. That is open to almost anyone at virtually no cost.
      ~ Jonathan

  • November 6, 2013 at 1:34pm

    I think there’s some great information here for new writers, and some great reminders for those of us who are well into the process. #10 hit home for me in particular. Yes, it can be frustrating to pour everything out on the page and see little return for it at first. Writing is such an isolated process to begin with. But it seems that most of the success stories have come from those who don’t necessarily have the best writing skills or the best stories, but those who have kept at it and continued to produce something for the readers. Definitely worth keeping in mind. Thanks for the article!

    • November 6, 2013 at 2:31pm

      True. My books may not be the best writing on the planet (as I know it is not) but I keep at it, producing book after book. Something is to be said about Kindle Direct Publishing with free promos and discount promos. Now you can set them up like a timer and they shift pricing when you want without having to go on the website to change it.

  • Robyn Cain says:
    November 6, 2013 at 1:47pm

    What a great post! Inspirational and informative. Thank you Roger.
    Thank you so much for all the links too – I will be looking them all up. I had considered purchasing ISBNs before and will look into that again.
    Last year I managed to meet the word count in NaNoWriMo – felt fantastic to have been hitting the keys alongside millions of others. Told family and friends well in advance that November 2013 was the month they had my permission to nag me (however much they wanted), to ensure that I met the target. Determined to keep on track again and produce another novel.
    Thank you to you too Jonathan.

    • November 6, 2013 at 2:24pm

      NaNoWriMo is great impetus for people who sit around saying “You know, I’d really like to write a novel someday.” It is also for those of us who have written a few and who want to keep ourselves sharp. It is indeed hard work, and those writers who don’t write are not really writers.

  • November 6, 2013 at 1:55pm

    First of all, thanks for all your advice over the weeks.

    I began my blog in May 2012, with the hope that it would increase my book sales -three published- two more on hold- but it hasn’t. I’m obviously doing something wrong although the site is immensly popular . But like Stephen says I too am not getting comments or feedback, which is disappointing. It is very time consuming posting every day. I’ve got hooked, but feel I’m wasting time which could be spent on my novels.

    I’m now going to look at Reddit, as per Sally Ember. I have noticed it before, but couldn’t decide if it was for me.

    • November 6, 2013 at 2:25pm

      Are you commenting on other blogs, favoriting or liking blogs? This is a way to build readership. There are many bloggers out there in the same boat, and when you connect with them, they will respond, and then build the community of people you desire.

  • November 6, 2013 at 2:01pm

    I agree with these “10 Things” completely. Why? I learned them the hard way and Roger apparently did, too. I would add that agents who charge you are not the only ones you should run from. There are publishing houses who are getting in the game as well. I learned that by signing with AuthorHouse. I won’t make accusations here but I’ll just say that the experience was such that I wish I had run away…fast.

    • November 6, 2013 at 2:27pm

      The publishing houses are getting into the “vanity press” game because it is getting so popular recently. However, the books they “publish” are not cheap to produce and they don’t even edit them…unless you pay exorbitant fees. Take it from me. Build up your blog, build up your social media presence, write good books, hire an editor, keep at it. The more books you write, the more you will expose your work to the world.

      • November 6, 2013 at 8:04pm

        Yes! That’s the recipe.

  • November 6, 2013 at 2:09pm

    I’d love to start blogging but I can’t seem to drive any traffic to my blog. I went the route of starting writing for ezine articles in the hopes that I could start getting traffic. Why would anyone read my musings? How do you generate interest? Thanks, Ciao M

    • November 6, 2013 at 2:29pm

      The best way (I have found) is to comment on other blogs, subscribe to other blogs, like other blogs and generally build a community of bloggers much like you would Facebook or Twitter. Follow the bloggers on Twitter and Facebook as well. Get an app like Hootsuite to keep it all together and aggregated. Good luck!

  • Kim Hruba says:
    November 6, 2013 at 2:44pm

    I agree with #1,2,3, 7 (ugh, I so know what you mean!), 8, 9 (I have 4 kids, too!) and 10.

    Thank you for the info regarding #4

    #5 – Just heard this talk on NPR last week. My understanding is that authors should beware that if they choose Amazon publishing, they run the risk of being turned down by brick and mortar stores. I would say know your audience and that will determine if this is a risk for you or not. NPR Talk here: http://www.npr.org/2013/10/30/241786954/brick-and-mortar-bookstores-try-for-revenge-against-amazon

    Thank you for the info regarding #6

    I have done Nanowrimo three times and my novel, Elevator Girl, which comes out in Spring 2014 came out of my first Nano. I think it’s a good exercise in helping new authors get over the mental hurdles of “OMG, I’m actually writing a book.”

    I actually have a blog post to put up on tips for Nano authors, but the biggest one that I can put here is this: It’s all about QUANTITY not quality. Just focus on getting in your word count.

    Did you know that Pubslush and Wise Ink Publishing are sponsoring a contest for Nano 2013 participants? In full disclosure, I am not participating in Nano this year, Wise Ink is my publisher and I am in my last two days of a crowdfunding campaign w/ Pubslush.

    Having said all THAT, I highly recommend their contest. Both companies have a lot of integrity and I have been very happy working with both. Wise Ink is forging new ground in the publishing world as being a boutique publisher. Pubslush is crowdfunding exclusively for authors and they have excellent customer service. I am in the last two days of my campaign and I have raised nearly $3,500 with 82 supporters in one month. This is no small feat for fiction (a romantic comedy, no less.) My fellow Wise Ink colleague, Angela Miller, has raised just a bit more than me in 5 days and her book is nonfiction.

    If you are serious about publishing, I recommend this contest.

    Just go to Pubslush.com: http://pubslush.com/ and right across the homepage is a banner for the contest, then click on Discover and you will see Angela’s book and mine.

    Good luck to ALL of you!

    I love Jonathan and Roger’s collaborative spirit. – Kim

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 6, 2013 at 11:48pm

      Exciting to hear of the crowd funding success – a pathway that seems to grow larger by the month.
      ~ Jonathan

  • Diane says:
    November 6, 2013 at 2:50pm

    Thanks Roger for all the writing ideas to chew on. I’ve published two memoirs. I interact on several social networks, post essays on my blog and am a contributing author for several online organizations. A year ago, I decided to take the leap from non-fiction to fiction. Working on my first novel (I started it before novel writing month), I find my biggest challenge is staying focused on the writing when the research pulls me off task. Many of the reviews I’ve read of historical novels point out the shallow research, so I want my book to be accurate. Any suggestions/thoughts on the research challenge would be greatly appreciated. By the way your editorial rates are not cheap, they’re down right reasonable!

    • November 6, 2013 at 3:59pm

      Thanks Diane:

      I think that proper research is extremely important no matter the genre. I pick the brain of police officers, lawyers, DMV workers, etc. depending on what characters I am trying to create. Research doesn’t have to be historical. It can be simply finding out what it is like to work in a diner before writing a scene about diner workers and their day to day job.

  • November 6, 2013 at 3:03pm

    Hi Jonathan.

    I’ve self published five novels since 2005 and am working on the sixth. [two trilogies.] In that time, I’ve witnessed fundamental changes in the publishing industry. The old world has imploded.

    If, in 2005 an author wanted to publish his work, it was as if he were approaching a mediaeval castle with a dragon-filled moat and a sealed draw bridge. He would pitch his manuscript over the wall and wait and wait. What happened? Nothing, not even a rejection notice would come floating down. The poor author had no way of bringing his brilliant work to light.

    In 2013, an author wants to publish her work. Right beside that mediaeval castle, there is another structure filled with hundreds of thousands of people. It’s a town marketplace and everyone is there with their booths hawking their wares. There’s a special section for books, right next to the reliquary department. [Good to be near the prayers!] Now she can walk in freely and set up her own booth. “Wonderful!” she shouts. “I didn’t have to fight with all the gatekeepers.” But there is only one problem. She cannot be heard over the din because there are hundreds of thousands of authors just like her. How will she ever get anyone to notice her. That, of course, is the present day problem.

    • November 6, 2013 at 4:01pm

      Excellent analogy. The way you are heard is by getting reviews and social media blasts. Jonathan has some very good articles on the subject.

  • Harold Rowland says:
    November 6, 2013 at 3:04pm

    I had an old friend that wrote articles for Saturday Evening Post and several books and had a movie made from one of his books. He told me he would write a page and set it aside for reading the next day and if was filling interest and had an appeal to look forward to the next page it was worth keeping. I was not sure this had a touch of fact or not. I do know that I read yesterdays efforts and too many times a re-write is needed to keep a trend of thought going. I also have the third generation read my efforts for the idea their point of view understand the point I try to make. They are in their twenties and I am in my mid eighties and one of them also has a e-book on the market. What works for one may not work for all.

    • November 6, 2013 at 4:49pm

      Yes. I have a heap of old things lying around that I will revisit someday. Stephen King’s novels always start out as short stories. F. Scott Fitzgerald did the same thing. Good enough for me!

  • November 6, 2013 at 3:40pm

    This is all really great information, but I have to say I especially like point number 2. It is so important to keep learning and growing.

    I have currently ‘only’ published two novels, but I have written probably hundreds of short stories, sketches, poems, scripts, etc, as well as stand up comedy which I have performed onstage. So I like to think I have a lot of writing experience across a lot of media, however I know that I will never get to the point where I sit back and think I’ve done enough to know everything.

    Again, this was a really great post with some very helpful info. Thanks!

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 6, 2013 at 11:50pm

      I get this. My own time has been strewn across many disciplines, but these days I’m more focused. Paradoxically though, the time spent in all those sidetracks provides rich material on which we can draw.
      ~ Jonathan

  • November 6, 2013 at 4:05pm

    I haven’t heard the advice about copyrighting your online book before. Isn’t publication under your name a form of copyright?
    Thanks for the link to Design Observer. Very useful.
    Good article, thanks.

    • November 6, 2013 at 4:47pm

      The only way to really (legally) ensure that someone cannot steal your work is by formally copyrighting it. If you do this, you will have government backing that the work is indeed yours. Time and date stamps can be faked.

  • Jodie says:
    November 6, 2013 at 4:33pm

    Thanks for the useful advice. I have self published a book on writer’s block and even though it hasn’t sold many copy’s yet, I’m not giving up.

    I am participating in NaNo this year and I’m behind. I’m not going to worry about it though any work I get done on my novel is progress.

    • November 6, 2013 at 4:47pm

      Heh heh. I think everyone participating in NaNo is behind if they would admit it. You are in good company.

  • November 6, 2013 at 5:00pm

    Thanks Roger, for an outstanding post. As a soon-to-be first time self-publisher, I was aware of some of the things you mentioned, but not others. Regardless of whether it’s repetitive, as someone new to this game, I need to see and hear it several times.

    Jonathan, thanks for your continued commitment to all of our success. You and your guest bloggers give so much!

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 6, 2013 at 11:17pm

      Always good to see your smiling face here Karen. Shining optimism pays!

  • Erich Penhoff says:
    November 6, 2013 at 6:21pm

    First I have to compliment Jonathan Gunson, I have read many of his posts and never found one without huge merit. Most of us reading them are writers and most of us forget sometimes the basics of our craft. We, again most of us are starved for recognition and will gladly accept the compliments of bad agents and also publishers. I did once and learned much from it. Yes research them and screen them, block them if you can to save yourself the aggravation. But also realise the first rocket crashed and later we reached Mars, so keep trying and learning. Great post Mr. Gunson.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 6, 2013 at 11:51pm

      Thanks Erich.
      ‘Perseverance’ is the word.
      ~ Jonathan

  • November 6, 2013 at 7:40pm

    I am not a naysayer about any avenues of marketing my own books but after self-publishing two, it’s difficult to both market effectively and write a new novel at the same time. Even when I parse out my time each week to follow guidelines for what I intend to accomplish, often my plans go awry. I will never become an “A”-list author, let alone hang on to mid-list, so for me it’s walking that tightrope to find balance between selling and writing. It’s a tough one too.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 6, 2013 at 11:54pm

      I have had to discipline myself to splitting time into 30% marketing 70% writing, because it is the writing in the end that does the real selling work. (If the work has reader appeal, then word of mouth eventually kicks in.)

  • November 6, 2013 at 8:48pm

    Hi Rodger, waving at Jonathan. :)

    I’m glad I read this post. I was unaware about the ISBN number through Create Space as I’ve never had my INDIE in print. Thank you for that. I believe most INDIE published authors (or the ones I personally know) wouldn’t know this, and only get the free number, may also be unaware of the publishing rights.

    I also agree writing can be frustrating at times. As for keeping up appearance, I’m lacking in that department. lol. :)

    Suzanne :)

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 6, 2013 at 11:16pm

      Yes handy info indeed.
      ~ Jonathan

  • November 6, 2013 at 10:53pm

    As an old hand at the writing business I now interpret the fascination of it to two factors – (1) you are leading two lives – the real one, and the imagined one, and whenever one of them gets too problematic or stressful you can escape to the other. (2) the first life is controlled by fate, or God, or whatever you believe in, but the second is controlled by YOU as God, and nobody, not even God himself, can challenge your decisions. Now that’s power!
    Incidentally I don’t believe in God, as my new novel ‘SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST’ testifies, and that is published by SBPRA which is a cheap alternative to self publishing – check out the book’s website for an example of what they can do – http://sbpra.com/robinhawdon

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 6, 2013 at 11:11pm

      I cannot tell whether you paid money to be published, but I never advise anyone to actually pay to be published, because almost always the so called publisher is not publishing, but merely formatting and printing. If the publisher actually promotes and distributes, then that’s an improvement and is what they should be doing – it’s their only real worth. Even then an author should never pay. It would be better by far to go with Amazon and Smashwords.

  • November 6, 2013 at 11:53pm

    Thanks for the emphasizing so many truths. I self publish with Createspace – very easy to use.

    Spending time in recent months to engage on social media has definitely increased traffic to my blog.

    Linking with other authors and readers on WLC is a great way to connect too. I’m finding it a very good platform to put my books out there. Suddenly, people talking about Flirty & Feisty Romance Novels Facebook page has soared from 9 to 42 within a couple of days.

    Best wishes.

  • November 7, 2013 at 12:15am

    Thanks for sharing this excellent article Roger and Jonathon. It’s a great piece for budding authors, or authors like myself who have published one book and found it an expensive undertaking. I will be sharing it with my fellow authors. I was particularly interested in the section about creating e-books. I previously went with a company who did all that for me. However, as I am writing a series, which includes fiction and non-fiction books, I can’t see how I can afford to repeat the process as before. Heading off to check out all the associated links on this post.

    Jonathan you are a godsend for struggling authors who feel it is only them in the quagmire of the publishing industry.

  • November 7, 2013 at 1:16am

    Hi, Jonathan Gunson lured me in here 😉 Good job, Jonathan!

    I read and like the advice up there. Many good ones.
    I contacted an agency – ha-ha, what do you expect? Rrrright.
    Through luck (here we go again) I found a private editor who put so much work, common sense, help, encouragement and advice into my ‘baby’, that I am almost embarrassed. Boy, did he a good job. With lots and lots of back-and-forths.
    And yes, I am giving out his name: Daniel Horne of FreedomRoadPublishing.com
    Ph: 309-489-0152 – dan@freedomroadpublishing.com.
    He simply deserves to be plugged.
    Check him out, if you are interested in any kind and manner.
    My book goes to the press next week – I am promoting it like crazy for a while now:
    On LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, my book website and of course, my blog.

    AND, because I CAN, I produced a trailer for it. (AND can do for YOU too.)
    I hope it’s appealing – people like it. We’ll see.
    I wrote my whole life, but mostly on ‘flying’- as well as toilet paper. Hm, yup, I collected it all. It was very helpful.
    If this looks too much like promo, please delete me – but here is my labor intensive trailer:
    Maybe an idea for you too?

    Kindly …

  • November 7, 2013 at 1:20am

    PS, I designed the book cover myself.

  • Jonathan Gunson says:
    November 7, 2013 at 2:04am

    Very positive comment thanks. Your enthusiasm is nothing short of infectious!
    By the way, I assume that you’re not actually PAYING to have your book published?
    If so, that is not really publishing as such, but simply formatting and printing. All the work and risk is on the author.
    But if however the publisher is not only paying, but distributing and promoting, then they are doing the work of a genuine publisher. The real alternative if one cannot find a genuine traditional publisher is Amazon (Kindle) and Smashwords – both excellent systems, and they cost virtually nothing.
    ~ Jonathan

  • November 7, 2013 at 1:22pm

    As someone who has just published their first novel, thanks to Kindle and Createspace, I wish I had read most the article a few months ago!

    There are some real pearls of wisdom there and I come away feeling vindicated about the decisions that I made along my own journey.

    Thanks very much for going to the trouble to share it with everyone else.

  • November 7, 2013 at 5:25pm

    Yay, Jonathan,
    the book is MINE, all the way, including ISPN, of course.
    I am self ‘publishing’ for now … or however one wants to call it.

    Thankfully, I was able to jump on an existing train – the big company that’s bearing my name (rather vice versa, indeed) in Germany. They will be buying a BUNCH of my book because my story is wrapped into the company’s and family’s intriguing history.
    Yeah, the family is mine :-) http://www.koziol.de (And my first language is NOT English – LOL)
    After my book is finally out – I’ll go from there and see to the Kindle-business etc.

    Thanks for all the support you are providing. I am sure it’s appreciated by MANY people.


  • Sue says:
    November 7, 2013 at 9:32pm

    Jonathan, I am really impressed by the useful information that you provide for the novice authors. Thanks for this.

    Roger very helpful and interesting post. Thank you.


  • November 8, 2013 at 1:39am

    Sage advice and observations. I really need to blog more. Definitely will work on this up to and into the coming year.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 8, 2013 at 4:33am

      Re. Blogging. Good to hear Sir!
      In my own case I’m motivated to increase the frequency of these blog posts.
      ~ Jonathan

  • November 8, 2013 at 7:36am

    Thanks Colby for the info. I’ve been thinking about Scrivener for some time since my Word 2007 is so outdated. I’ve just started my website with a blog. I’ve finished my manuscript and I’m hungrily looking for info before I take that publishing step.
    The blog gives me the freedom to write to my heart content.
    By the way you have to keep on keeping on and one day the big surprise bestseller will show up when you least expect. I understand 5000 gives some people bestseller status. Anyway write if you enjoy it and enjoy whatever comes after.

  • November 8, 2013 at 8:38am

    Great advice as Always. I definitely need to make more of an effort on my own Blog tbh.

  • November 8, 2013 at 5:23pm

    Dear Jonathan, not a direct reply to Mr Colby but a thought for everyone. Having been ‘publishing’ and reviewing on Fanstory and Poetry.com (5 & 6* most of the time) I am appalled at the low level of English (often incomprehensible) I have come across, while have not yet found a verse which isn’t anything but badly cut-up sloppyness just strung together about various fashionable self-regarding angsts. The ability of ‘reviewers’ to consider a sentence which takes longer than the statutory 10 second attention span is saddening as is their lack comprehension, while their ability to construct flowing causally driven prose appears non-existent. Very saddening indeed. Sadly also their concept of ‘Story’ has become deeply formulaic (The Plot Whisperer?) none I have found exhibiting the ‘Troubadour’ virtue of translating to transfigure the reader. They would all do well to read John Buchan’s little pamphlet written for The English Association in 1929 ‘The Novel & The Fairy Tale’.

    Addison Steele and Johnson noted the same in the early 18th Century when, the Licensing laws having been lapsed (1695) ‘print’ went berserk producing swathes of dross – we are here again after the magnificent high of The Great Men of English Letters of the 19th and early 20th century.

    I have always edited my own work (Editors Emasculate while they can never make ‘good’ what is ‘bad’) as all those great men did, which for me means many re-writes which are as essential as the creative process itself – indeed are a foundational part of it as many weeks are spent excising, smoothing, correcting and polishing to build a flowing causal euphony to carry the reader – for which I have developed a systematic process in ‘Editing & The Craft of Words’ – whose result can never be flawless (flaws are anathema for engineers) but is vastly better than anything I have read elsewhere upon whose virtues my reviewer for The Golden Path was most complimentary Mmmm I could fill this with magnificent ‘Johnson’ quotes on the subject of authorship but I fancy I have already outstayed my welcome. Margaret Montrose.

  • Tom Ukinski says:
    November 8, 2013 at 8:41pm

    I’ve spent a lot of money getting my book “Divine Play” published through iUniverse. The cover impresses people but they have to see the book. I’ve become wary (and weary) of paid publicity campaigns. My thought is to find ways to publicize your book, including home-town readings and other inexpensive (or free) ways, and trust in the cumulative effects of your efforts. Facebook, Twitter, WordPress are all fine, but all have limitations: Facebook reaches Friends but not necessarily readers. Twitter is like casting a stone into the abyss. But forging ahead without clinging to any one thing seems the soundest way to go.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 10, 2013 at 8:30pm

      It is best to specialize in Social Media, otherwise one ends up as a Jack of all trades and master of none. Furthermore, Facebook and Twitter are perfectly capable of reaching readers, if one avoids using them simply as billboards.
      ~ Jonathan

  • November 10, 2013 at 5:04am

    My debut book “Lost in Kakadu” was only published 3 months ago, and I would hate to count the amount of time I’ve spent learning the social media angles. Fortunately I started 8 months before my release, because I would have gone loopy if I’d left it too late. Thank you also to Jonathan for his valuable guides that I refer to often.

    I’m doing NaNoWiMo for the first time, and I’m on target so far. YAY

  • November 11, 2013 at 12:08pm

    Very interesting. One question. What is your opinion about enrolling in “KDP Select” which would limit distribution to other outlets. I am currently taking this route with my writing and it may have increased sales (not sure since I started blogging also). Thanks for the informative article.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 12, 2013 at 8:54pm

      There are mixed opinions on KDP select. It is certainly not as effective as it used to be, because so many are taking part. However, one major advantage is that because you are using it, Amazon will be aware that you are now ‘on their team’ – i.e. developing an association with the biggest store online is a sensible strategy. Furthermore, be sure that you’re using all their systems properly. (e.g. Correct categories and tags.)
      ~ Jonathan

      • Jeru says:
        November 15, 2013 at 11:11pm

        Jonathan , that depends I guess on who you’re speaking with, most authors would encourage you to participate on KDP select because that puts you up a notch on rankings. But for a reader who gets it for free and for those freebie junkies, your work might just end up being tagged with the to-do list note that they may not even remember reading. For me, 0.99c is what I would consider “free” which I may consider worth my time and review. Great article BTW.

        • Jonathan Gunson says:
          November 17, 2013 at 4:40am

          Re .99cents, good point Jeru. But as you indicate, depends on the individual experience of the author.
          ~ Jonathan

  • Sacha Hope says:
    November 13, 2013 at 11:12am

    I found this article quite useful. Being a newbie to the writing world, I had to find out about vanity publishers the hard way. Its tough to stay motivated when your work constantly gets rejected, either by a publisher or contest. Self publishing is not really an option for me, South Africa has a very limited market- a market that is already flooded with international best sellers, and many overseas publishers only pay their authors via paypal-that system does not work so well over here. Its all good to think positive and to keep at it, but you also need to have a sobering look at your circumstances and whether or not those circumstances would allow you to live your dream. If those circumstances won’t allow it, I’d say find a good alternative. In my case, I’m opting to become a copy editor, simply because the circumstances, the country I am in does not allow for much development on the writing front. Best of luck to everyone that’s keeping at it.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 14, 2013 at 8:35pm

      Your copy editing job may yet provide a pathway.
      ~ Jonathan

  • November 13, 2013 at 11:33pm

    Fellow English teacher and author here. Tell me, and tell me quick ’cause I don’t have much time. How? How do you make time for social media, blogging, writing, publishing and the like and teach, grade, contact parents, plan, tutor, etc. I need the secret ASAP!

    By the way, the article above was good.

  • Jeru says:
    November 15, 2013 at 11:03pm

    Great article, will definitely share to my own little group. Exactly what I was thinking on point # 8. Nobody wants admit it but people judge the book by it’s cover. Or.. may most people. As a reader, I wouldn’t bother taking my chances on a book that an author spent so much time writing, spent time or maybe even money on editing only to put a lousy looking cover. A $150 book cover job i guess should be a worthy investment. It’s the same reason that I built my site, if there’re authors here who’d like to share their work for added exposure, I invite you to send your cover to us. I have seen a lot of authors submit their work like a 5th grader made their covers and I just tell myself that I just don’t get it..

  • December 4, 2013 at 6:55am

    I recently self-published my first book. I opened blogs and entered cyberspace. I needed reviews so I joined Goodreads.com. So far, I received three reviews that actually made fun of my characters and my writing. The reviews sounded alike. They claimed that all my characters resembled Greek gods and spoke alike. My book is a vampire mystery. The vampires are supposed to be super-human and strong. They are also melodramatic with their powers. The humans, on the other hand, aren’t so perfect.
    Where is there a good place to exchange reviews with other authors? I found fellow authors on Twitter who liked my book and didn’t find all these problems. After the bad reviews, I edited my book a second time. I used some of the advice I’d received on Show and Tell and the use of “ly” adverbs. I even bought a self-editing book written by editors.
    I am confused and lost. I don’t know if I should reduce the amount of characters to make it easier for readers to follow, but would lose suspects and the twists in the plot. I love twists and turns. I admire Agatha Christie. The more complicated, the better. But maybe not.