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Online Writing Course - The No. 1 Online Writing Course For Aspiring Authors

5 Book Promotion Ideas For Kindle Authors

Book Promotion

Here’s a dreary reality to mull on for a bit: most Kindle authors who self-publish their own books will likely go unnoticed and sell very few copies. But why is that?

It’s not because there aren’t enough people who love to endlessly devour one book after another. There are plenty of those.

It’s not because it costs too much to publish or sell your eBooks on Amazon. The cost for doing so is minimal, if anything.

So what gives?

The problem is pretty obvious, actually. Writers and authors are not inclined to take on the role of marketer and they tend to shy away from promotion most of the time. Can we blame them? They just want to make some money by writing books that people like to read, so what valid argument can be made for trying to sell their creative works?

I can’t think of any to be honest. BUT — there is always a but attached to statements like that one…

Authors do not need to be full fledged marketers in order to effectively promote their books without feeling like they’ve “sold out,” or like they are trying to be someone other than who they truly are.

You’ll be relieved to hear that promoting your own books hardly demands anything so outrageous. Thanks to all the resources available to self-published authors, it’s not such a painful process after all.

So where do you start then, you’re probably wondering? Today we’re going to take a quick look at my top 5 book promotion ideas for Kindle authors and why you need to give each of them a try starting NOW.

KDP Select Free Days

This one has been around for a while now, but it is still highly effective when done right. If you don’t mind making your book exclusively available on Amazon for a while, I recommend enrolling it in their KDP Select program and reaping the rewards.

Basically, you get to pick five days each 90 day period that your book is enrolled and you are able to offer it free on those five days. Schedule wisely and keep in mind that you want to use this as an opportunity to gain momentum rather than limiting yourself to a single day of free downloads.

This enables you to reach a massive number of new readers and can be especially useful for authors who are working on a series of books within the same genre, as many readers will sample your first book and then be ready to buy the next one by the time it’s available.

I recently blogged about some of the top places to promote your free days and I also recently told my readers about the software project I’m working on with my partner Rob Howard. It’s called KD Promo App and it helps you maximize your KDP Select promotions by submitting them to dozens of websites without having to fill in forms all day.

Kindle Countdown Deals

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This book promotion idea is the newest addition included in today’s post and it also comes straight from Amazon. You can think of Countdown Deals as the cousin of KDP Select free days, with a few differences.

Personally, I think the only real difference between the two is that Kindle Countdown Deals employ techniques such as scarcity and perhaps even some hard-selling, if you will. They remind me more of the tactics used on internet marketing sales letters, which I don’t think is a good or a bad thing really.

I’ve yet to really test how effective they are, especially in comparison to KDP Select free days. However, they are the newest option from Amazon and so you will be seeing plenty of them in the near future I’m sure. It can’t hurt to try one out and test it for yourself, that’s for sure.

In a nutshell, your book must already be enrolled in the KDP Select program in order to be eligible and you basically choose the dates for your Countdown Deal and then decide on how many price increments you want, the duration of the deal and a starting price for the promotion.

Once your deal goes live, there will be a little timer clock on your product page next to your book that tells visitors how much time is left for them to purchase your book at the discounted price. It also shows them when the price will be bumped up again from the current price, which is of course intended to encourage more sales while the discount is going.

Free Book Giveaways

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As the two book promotion ideas before it make quite clear, giving your book away for free can produce huge results for serious authors who are in the book publishing business for the long-term.

But Amazon is not the only place you can do this, of course. It may be among the most powerful, but there are other avenues as well. A while back now, I blogged about five sites where you can hold a free book giveaway and each one has some unique features so I suggest you take a look at each of them before deciding which one is going to work best for your book.

Some sites only allow print copies for book giveaways, while others are willing to list eBooks as well. There are even widgets you can get for under ten bucks a month which will allow you to host book giveaways on your own website as well. Another option is to do guest blogging or author interviews on blogs which allow you to mention your giveaway in your author byline.

The possibilities are endless. Just be sure to let the winners know that you welcome their honest feedback and appreciate Amazon reviews, if they are so inclined. You may be surprised by how many readers are willing to do this if you simply ask.

Create a Press Kit

When it comes to book promotion for self-published authors, this is one idea I don’t see many people using. It is far more prevalent in the traditionally published world, but because of that it gives off a more professional and trusted vibe than some other techniques you might be more familiar with.

What I’m referring to is a digital press kit for your books. What is a digital press kit anyway, right? It’s essentially just a kit that is made available for download on your website and is meant to help journalists, bloggers and other media outlets learn more about your book in a short amount of time.

The reason this is useful to you as an author is the possibility of free publicity that may be offered to you as a result. If a reporter is doing a story about a topic you have expertise in, then they may find your website when doing their research. They notice you’ve written a book and want to know more about it to see if you might be a good fit for their story.

That’s where a press kit comes into play. It includes things like a brief synopsis, highlights from book reviews, any awards you may have won, a professional head shot, short author bio, high resolution cover image and other essential info about your book and your credentials.

Have one of these and you will put yourself in the big leagues and may land yourself in the New York Times before you know it.

Virtual Book Tours

Last but not least is the virtual book tour. It may sound a little cheesy, but for indie authors it’s a hell of a lot more practical than the more traditional book tour that requires traveling from one city to the next for book signings at venues that likely sneer at the self-published community.

There are plenty of companies out there offering to organize a virtual book tour for you, but the truth is that you really don’t need to hire one if you can put the time in to do this yourself. Article by Ashley Lorenzana

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Book Marketing Predictions For 2014

 

Predictions For Book Marketing In 2014

For those of us who market authors for a living, we know that 2013, more than any other year, saw bigger changes in marketing books. More in fact, than any prior year. The changes are largely due to the number of books that have come online both in print and digital and, in some cases, in digital only. In fact, the latest figures for books published daily are staggering. Bowker reported that in 2012 there were 3,500 books published each day in the US; this number does not include eBooks since many of them are often published straight to Amazon without ISBN numbers or other means of tracking. It’s a perfect storm for change.

What this does for the industry is it forces new marketing models in place, while pushing others to the back-burner. So, what’s the biggest change I’ve seen in 2013? Well, pretty much all things traditional flew out the window. Reviews are still important, but reader reviews took precedence over that. Engagement is still key, but direct reader engagement is even more crucial. What does this mean for you in 2014? Have a look.

More is better:

For most of us, the days of writing a book a year, or a book every two years have long since passed. Readers want more content and one of the best ways to engage with them is to keep your books in front of them – and the best way to do that is to keep pushing new books out the door. Keep in mind that when it comes to marketing, content really is king and good content, in the form of a book, can really help to keep you out there. Also, something that I’ve noticed in the testing that I’ve done is that the more content you have out there, the more you sell just in general. What I mean by this is that (book) content elevates all of your sales. When an author releases a second book within a short 6-9 month window, they’ll often see higher sales of prior books, just because the new title is pushing the others to the forefront. Though if you do this, you should use the back matter of your book to cross-promote all of your titles. The new year will see more of this being done; pushing out more books for marketing reasons will be a big game-changer for many.

Short is the new long:

The good news with pushing out tons of content is you don’t have to be writing 500-page tomes. We’ve seen this already in 2013, but the coming year will bring this so much more to the forefront. My recommendation is to create one or two full length books a year and then additional micro-content such as novellas or shorter books that focus on one topic or tackle just one problem. You’ll see more on this in a minute. Suffice it to say that pushing a ton of books out is great, but they don’t all have to be full-length books. Supplement your writing with shorter pieces but keep in mind that whatever you do has to be of equal quality. Don’t sacrifice quality for quantity, ever. I predict that in the new year you’re going to see a lot of authors pushing out books like this. One full-length and several shorter. It’s a great way to gain visibility and stay in front of your readers.

Micro-Topics Rule:

Your readers are busy, really busy. They want a problem solved or they want to be entertained, quickly. And sometimes they only want to able to pick up a book and read it in one sitting. That’s where micro-content comes in. Focused topics solving one specific problem. For example, if you have a book on starting a business, you may decide to create a focused topic on how to create and execute a solid social media strategy. Or if you’ve written on parenting, you may write one shorter book on easy and inexpensive ways to ‘green’ your house. The point is that if you can isolate a reader problem and address it, you can win their loyalty. Own a niche, and I mean really own it. If finance is your topic, dig into all of the potential challenges and address them in shorter books. For fiction writers, you’ll see a lot more situational romance. Meaning stories that are just short and sweet, focused on a few characters and one main issue they overcome to have their happy ending.

Readers are key:

In the intro paragraph I mentioned the importance of readers. Now, more than ever, you must connect with your readers, you must take the time to reach out to them. I’ve addressed this a few times in other pieces, too. But the point is that you want to encourage readers to review your book by including a (polite) request for this in your book, you want to engage directly with them on social sites like Goodreads, and you want to communicate directly with them. If you get a review from a reader, thank them. If you have readers who reviewed your other books, reach out to them and ask them to review your latest one. Also, readers don’t just want engagement from you, they want it from your book. Do not, under any circumstances, end your book without giving readers a chance to engage with you, your other material, or your characters.

Be everywhere that matters:

This isn’t a new thing, but we’ll see more of it in 2014. When it comes to social marketing, you don’t have to be everywhere, you just have to be everywhere that matters. The spray-and-pray theory of marketing is long gone. No one expects you to be on every social media site, but they do expect you to be active on the ones you chose to have a presence on. More than ever, readers want communication. Some years ago authors could be on all social sites and be randomly active on them. Now it just looks like you’ve abandoned your own message. And if you aren’t interested in what you have to say, why should your reader be?
Keywords rule:

We know that keywords matter, but the more books that come online the more keywords will become a mandatory way to be found. We just saw a huge scuttle on Amazon over keywords  but now we’re seeing a new trend on Amazon: readers aren’t searching by their favorite authors, they are searching by keywords and the more the better. What does this mean for you? It means that you need to figure out what readers search in your market and rank for those searches. It also means that you don’t want to rank for the term: mystery, romance or business, because readers aren’t searching that way. Our customer searches strings of words, like “romance books under 2.99″ or something like that. Keywords on your Amazon page, in your book description, and book keywords will be a must as more and more books come online. You should be looking at this, trying new keywords, and keeping a close eye on your ranking within those words. Just “being on Amazon” won’t get you a sale and the more books that get loaded onto that site, the further down the buying food-chain you will go.

eBooks:

I am still amazed at how many authors release their print books without a digital counterpart. Giving readers access to as many formats of your book as possible is not just important, it’s mandatory. Also, in the new year you’re going to see some very creative uses for eBooks as a way to drive more sales. We’ve already seen enhanced eBooks, this is nothing new, but I think you’re going to see more of this, done in some very unique ways.

Free:

There are many who say that readers are immune to freebies, free books, free promotions. But I think this is wrong. Readers avoid poorly executed campaigns or poorly designed books. Readers want to try your material but only if they perceive it to be of good quality. Free, however, should be part of everything you do. We love to sample. You only have to go to Costco on a weekend to see how much people love sampling stuff. The same is true for content and freemiums are the wave of the future. Putting solid, free content out there will bring in new customers by the truckload. (Though, arguably, the cheese trunk shows at Costco are a tough act to follow).
Cover this:

I see a lot of books out there with bad covers and some marketing people encouraging authors to self-design their covers. With more and more books coming online, your cover is the window to the book. Let me ask you this: if you owned a store, would you consider having a bunch of old junk in a dirty storefront window? It’s amazing to me how many authors do this with their books.

Shelf Life:

Earlier this year, the Book Industry Study Group did a survey on where readers discover new books. An overwhelming percentage of them said they discovered books in bookstores. This crucial factor in book discovery is significant as we enter a holiday season that might be make-it-or-break-it for Barnes & Noble. I think that in order to keep their doors open, Barnes & Noble will have to get creative and will make paying for placement a much more common thing. We know that some bookstores already charge authors for shelf space and publishers have, for years, paid for premium end-cap and front of store space. I believe that in 2014 we’re going to see much more of this expanded out to a wider market. You want shelf space? Here’s how much that will cost you.

Self-publishing:

Thirteen years ago when I was first banging the self-publishing drum most people thought that I was, well, hanging out with the school nerds. Well, nerds rule and now, they are ruling publishing. Self-publishing has already become a much more acceptable way to get your book out there but in the coming year, I believe you’re going to see more partnerships between publishers and self-publishing and, though it may not be in 2014, I think that you’re going to see publishers start to adopt the partnership model that self-publishing brings with it. You want a Simon & Schuster to publish your book? That’s fine, but the model will change. Authors will be required to be much more entrepreneurial when it comes to working with a traditional publisher and with the days of advances long since gone, I think we’ll start to see a reverse model of paying for a brand name on your book. Sort of like what Louise Hay did with Hay House. She used her name to push Balboa Press, which is an offshoot of Hay House. The idea being that if the book succeeds at Balboa, then Hay House will pick it up. Now, I’m not sure of the success rate of this model, or how many authors actually make this leap. But I do know that more and more we’ll start to see big-name publishing houses use their brand power to attract authors who are willing to pay for that level of exposure for their books.

Readers are savvy about the books they want to read and authors they want to engage with and 2014 will make it all about them. Being an author means serving your reader in ways that really speak to them directly. You’ll notice that not one of my points above were about traditional publicity or marketing. It’s not that this doesn’t matter, but in the past authors have often put the media targets well above their reader connection. Now, if you want some big-time exposure, you’ll have to go after your customer first. Readers have the power to drive the success or failure of books and no amount of advertising or traditional media will change that. As more books come online, those traditional channels will become even more clogged. As bookstores continue to dwindle and, in some cases, charge for shelf space, finding ways to reach your reader directly will become the ultimate goal. If you’re already doing this, you’re really ahead of the game; and if you’re not, the time to start is now.

Article by Penny C. Sansevieri

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50 Ways To Prepare For Writing In 2014

Be Prepared – Write Better In The New Year

As writers, many of us have been hitting our keyboards hard for the past 11 months, and we are either brain dead and need a break from writing, or completely motivated and want to finish the year off strongly. No matter which writing camp you may fall into, there are plenty of ways that you can get yourself prepared for the New Year, as a writer, author, and/or blogger.

I recently took an informal poll from social network contacts. These three questions were asked:

  • How are you getting yourself in tip-top writing mode for the New Year?
  • What is on your must-finish-up-so-you-can-start-afresh list?
  • What tips/strategies/ideas would you include on a list about getting ready for writing in the New Year?

 

In less than 24 hours, I had an inbox flooded with writing preparation tips!

50 Ways Writers Can Prepare For 2014

  1. Buy a new notebook.
  2. Review what you have written this year.
  3. Finish any unfinished blog pieces, articles, etc., which speak to you.
  4. Reflect on why pieces were left unfinished.
  5. Purge those you don’t want to finish. (Get them out of your daily eyesight.)
  6. Buy new journals for various projects to keep your ideas/writings organized.
  7. Set up a writing environment to meditate and journal.
  8. Get your body nourished and in shape.
  9. Update your website.
  10. Get a fresh haircut.
  11. Add a few new pieces to spruce up your wardrobe and make it current.
  12. Get ready for interviews.
  13. Prepare for author events.
  14. Update or create your media kit so that you will have promotional materials ready for book promotions.
  15. Take care of any nagging health issues — emotional, spiritual or physical.
  16. Organize your files.
  17. Update your contact list.
  18. Update your software.
  19. Get your receipts and write-off lists together and have them ready for tax season.
  20. Start planning which events and trade-shows you want to go to next year.
  21. Get a travel budget together.
  22. Research and note materials needed for applications. Get everything lined up now so you can find out all of the pertinent information.
  23. Buy a sketchbook to map ideas or expand a writing in graphical format.
  24. Buy new pens, pencils and erasers.
  25. Check your keyboard — do you love it? If not, invest in a really great keyboard.
  26. Note your most productive and creative writing times. Block them off and scheduled into your calendar.
  27. Get plenty of rest.
  28. Hydrate! Hydrate! Hydrate!
  29. Have a passion-based purpose for writing. (It will keep you motivated during dry spells and focused on your mission, rather than just your feelings.)
  30. Make a mini vision board that represents your commitment to writing for 2014. (Look at it when you need a reminder.)
  31. Create a lovely environment to write in, complete with a rad new desk and decorations which inspire creativity.
  32. Prepare a music ‘playlist’. If you can write to different types of music based on the tone of the writing piece
  33. Test out new productivity approaches to see if they might be a good fit for you.
  34. Complete all your strategic planning for next year in terms of health, money, and marketing.
  35. Go hard all the way through 2013! (And then 2014 will rock out by osmosis.)
  36. Put away the fear you have around writing.
  37. Consider partnering with a writing coach to help you meet your goals.
  38. Check the copywriting on your website and make sure that it is current.
  39. Add tags to entries in your digital journal.
  40. Make a backup of your digital writing entries.
  41. Add photos to any digital journal entries.
  42. Print digital entries and make a notebook of your writings for 2013.
  43. Gather your favourite candle scents and oils for the new year. (Your writing brain loves scent stimulation.)
  44. Remove any blog posts that are out dated (events, interview, etc.)
  45. Check the links in your blog posts to ensure they are still working.
  46. Create guest blogger guidelines.
  47. Organize your computer’s desktop.
  48. Update your Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and LinkedIn files.
  49. Stock up on your favorite coffees and teas.
  50. Set writing goals for 2014.

Article by M Hernandez

I welcome you to leave a comment suggesting your ideas to add to this growing list!

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Getting Into Writing Mode When You Work At Home

10 Ways To Get Into Writing Mode

 

I write from home with two toddlers, and juggle my own blog in addition to freelance writing and my  work here at ProBlogger. When I sit down to the computer after a morning of LEGO fights and snack time, I’m not always inspired and motivated to be productive. I have to make myself use my time to its potential, which is a heady mix of prior organisation and brute force. I’ve come up with a couple of ways to get my head in the game, when the game could be called off at any minute.

1. Create a ritual

There’s nothing better than a physical distinction between one task and the next. For me, it is to make a cup of tea, which is leftover from my days as a journalist, and tells my head it’s writing time. You could make a cup of coffee, fill your water bottle, or put on the same playlist every day. Whatever helps your brain train get on a new track.

2. Walk around the block

If you work at home, it can be tempting to work from the couch in your pajamas. And while that’s definitely one of the perks of the business, it doesn’t really help your productivity. Get dressed, walk around the block and pretend you’re walking to “work”. Grab a cup of coffee on the way into your office, sit down and start your day.

3. Move to a new location

Sometimes a change of environment is just the kickstart you need to find your writing groove. Not feeling it at your desk? Get outside, sit at the kitchen table, go to a cafe – wipe the slate clean and start again. Don’t be afraid to move to find your groove!

4. Be prepared

Nothing blanks me out more than sitting down to an empty white screen. Where does one start? What if you can’t come up with a good headline, and then you can’t figure out what’s the most important thing to cover? Before you know it you’ve spent half an hour idling with nothing to show for it. I find I work best when I’ve taken a few minutes prior (even days prior) to roughly sketch out what I need to cover in my post. Then by the time I sit down, I’ve got anything from a couple of words to go on, to a whole skeleton outline I just need to flesh out. This helps enormously, as even when you type the first sentence, you can get into the flow.

5. Work solo

We like to think that we are multi-tasking ninjas, but research has shown you really don’t get as much done as you think. So in order to train your brain to work to its potential, you have to be tough and shut down any distractions. If this is hard, then tell yourself you can sneak a peek every 15 minutes, but you need to get stuff done in that time. So much of writing is self-discipline, and when you don’t have time to waste it’s even worse when you waste it.

6. Spend two minutes digging around in your brain

When you sit down to write, just take a few minutes to think about the tasks ahead. Don’t write anything down, don’t look at anything, just fill your mind with what you need to accomplish. This will help you stop thinking about distractions and get your mind in the groove of what lies ahead. It’s a great way of getting some demarcation between what you’ve been doing, and what you need to do, and also works as a bit of a brainstorm for today’s tasks.

7. Spend another two minutes sketching out ideas

Now spend a few minutes jotting down those thoughts. I often find it’s a mix of items for my to-do list, post ideas, something to share with my readers on Facebook, and points I want to cover in my posts. This also means I’m motivated and inspired to get to work on these items, and also ensures I’m not sitting down to the dreaded blinking cursor without anything to kickstart my creativity.

8. Don’t start from scratch

One of the best things I learned about writing novels is to stop when you’re inspired. It sounds counter-productive, but if you stop once your wave is over, you’re at a bit of a loss where to start when you pick it back up. This can mean you waste valuable time trying to come up with what to write about next. Picking up where you left off when you were in the groove means you can start with all cylinders firing, which does wonders for your productivity. There’s nothing better than starting off with a good chunk of work under your belt, it lessens the guilt you feel when you fritter your time reading eight Buzzfeed articles instead of getting stuck in. Or that might just be me.

9. Do the worst thing first

I know I’m tempted to leave the hardest thing for last as I “warm up” with easier tasks, but I also then find I’m still dreading the job while I’m doing other things. And often my time gets cut short and I’ve got to find another time to get it done. I find I work best if I sit down and get the big job out of the way first, almost like ripping off a Band-Aid. Everything you do after that is gravy.

10. Use recent notes

If you’re anything like me, you will look at some notes you wrote three days ago and they make little sense. “Mirfin? what’s a mirfin? It looked important, too…”. So while it’s useful to jot down notes when inspiration strikes, it’s even more useful if those are recent notes and you can still recall what you need to do and when. I often email myself notes, or use the notes function on my phone and laptop. Sometimes I even go beta and use pencil and paper, hence the mirfin. But the shorter the timeframe, the better for you.

I’d love to hear what helps you get your head on track when working from home. Any tips you’d like to share?

Article by Stacey Roberts is the content ninja at ProBlogger.net, and the blogger behind Veggie Mama. Can be found making play-dough, reading The Cat in the Hat for the eleventh time, and avoiding the laundry.

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5 Ways To Get The Most From Goodreads

As the head of the Author Program at Goodreads, I get to work every day with a variety of writers: bestselling authors such as Neil Gaiman, Maggie Stiefvater. Diana Gabaldon and Margaret Atwood, and new authors looking to unveil their long-nurtured book into the world.  It’s a fantastic job and there’s nothing better than seeing readers get excited about their books.

The Goodreads Author Program is free and we currently have more than 48,000 authors in our program. Over the years, the same question has come up: “How can I get the most out of Goodreads?

So, I thought about the authors who have been most successful on our platform and came up with five pieces of advice. If you follow them, you’ll be off to a strong start toward helping your book be discovered by the more than 10 million readers in the Goodreads community.

Patrick Brown

Patrick Brown serves as the Community Manager of Goodreads, the largest book recommendation website in the world. Prior to heading up the Goodreads online community, Brown was an independent bookseller at Book Soup and Vroman’s Bookstore. With an intense interest in group interaction online and a love for books, Patrick helps connect people with one another and with their passions. Currently Brown heads the Goodreads Author Program and Customer Care Team. He supports and cultivates one of the largest literary presences online by answering member questions and growing the Goodreads Community through social communication.

1. Use Goodreads to help build your platform.

Every author today needs a platform. By creating a Goodreads author profile, you actually get three major benefits. First, you become part of the Goodreads community, which allows readers to easily check out the latest information about you, see a photo of you, and browse which books you have written. And it allows readers to view the books you’ve read.

Second, you can sync your blog with your Goodreads profile. Not only does your blog help make your author profile more interesting, but there’s an added benefit to having your blog on Goodreads. Each week, we send an email to members with new blog posts from authors they like.

Third, you can promote events­–simply add your events and invite your Goodreads friends to attend. Virtual events, like online discussions and book releases, are just as welcome as bookstore signings and author appearances.

Bonus Advice: One part of building your profile is making sure that your metadata is accurate and full. This point might sound a bit dry, but accurate metadata is absolutely essential for online discovery. Make sure that each of your books has the correct ISBN/ASIN, publication date, and cover image. Even something seemingly as trivial as page count is important. Many Goodreads members like to update their progress through the books they read—”I’m on page 231 of 540.” This translates to great news for you, the author, because when readers do this, their friends on the site often comment and discuss. Unless, of course, you didn’t enter the page count for your book.

2. Use giveaways to generate those all-important pre-release reviews.

By analyzing our data, we know that the number of reviews – regardless of whether they are good and bad – significantly impacts the amount of interest in a book. When a Goodreads member reviews a book, it automatically appears in the updates of all their friends on Goodreads, providing word-of-mouth marketing.

But how do you get those reviews? The pre-release giveaway is a very effective way to get your book read and reviewed. (Here’s an example of my current giveaway on Goodreadsfeel f ree to enter to win a copy) Each month, more than 1,500 titles are given away on Goodreads. But not all giveaways are created equal. To get the most bang for your pre-release buck, we recommend running multiple giveaways, each open for about a month. Your first giveaway should ideally start about three months pre-publication. Then, a few weeks before your book hits the shelves, run a second giveaway. This is what the publisher of the new Jess Walter book Beautiful Ruin did and the results have been tremendous. There is no limit to the number of giveaways you can run on Goodreads.

Bonus Advice:  For some added attention, pair your giveaway with a self-serve advertisement. These inexpensive advertisements allow you to target your giveaway to precisely the right sort of reader for your book. You can target by comparable author or genre. Giveaways supported by ads attract roughly 56% more entries than giveaways without ads.

3. Make it easy for fans to write reviews.

If reviews are essential for discovery, it makes sense to encourage your readers to review your books on Goodreads. Your website likely already has Facebook and Twitter badges on it, but is there a Goodreads “G” on there, as well? Add a Goodreads badge and encourage people to leave a review of your book.

Bonus Advice:  Reviews on Goodreads don’t just appear on Goodreads, they are also exported to many other sites, including Google Books, Powells.com, USAToday.com and more. So, a Goodreads review works harder for you than other reviews.

4. Join the discussion.

Goodreads is home to more than 20,000 book clubs and thousands more groups about nearly every topic imaginable. Find a few groups that interest you and join them. But here’s the tricky part: don’t talk about yourself as a writer initially. Use the group as a reader first. After you’ve been an active and enthusiastic member for a bit of time (we recommend at least a month), you can approach the moderator about hosting a discussion of your book. Popular groups like The Next Best Book Club, Romance Readers Reading Challenges, and The History Book Club regularly host chats with authors.

Bonus Advice: While it may be tempting to join the largest groups, you may be better off becoming a member of several smaller groups where you can get to know readers more easily. Always keep in mind with this tactic that you are essentially walking into a great party where everyone loves books. Who would you rather talk to? The person who will engage in a conversation with you about your interests and be genuinely interested in a broad range of topics before you then discover that they are an author? Or the person who walks up to you and says, “Hi, I’m an author and I’d like you to read my book”?

5. Be a reader!

Authors are, by nature, tremendous readers. Goodreads is first and foremost a site about sharing the love of books. Share yours by talking about what you read. Reviews and reading progress updates are two major sources of activity on the site. Members love seeing what authors are reading and if they have common favorite books.

Bonus Advice: If you’re not comfortable writing reviews, make an “inspirations” shelf and add the books that have meant the most to you as a writer. Not only will these books show up in your update feed for your fans to see, they will also make your profile a more engaging place for readers.

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10 Simple Tips To Writing A Book

Writing A Book

Publishing a book is easy; all you need is a platform. You’ve never had more opportunities to choose yourself and share your work with the world. The hard part for most of us, despite what we say, isn’t the publishing part. It’s the actual writing a book. Tips for Writing a Book   I’ve just finished my first traditionally-published book and recently released my first eBook.  The hardest part of both these endeavours was  writing a book process. Looking back on both these projects, I’ve learned some things. Namely, it’s the easy, simple stuff that works. So what does it take to write a book? Here are 10 tips worth remembering:

Getting started

  • Start small. 300 words per day is plenty. John Grisham began his writing career as a lawyer. He got up early every morning and wrote one page. You can do the same. (Need some ideas for getting started? Check out these book ideas.)
  • Have an outline. Write up a table of contents that guide you. Then break up each chapter into a few sections. Think of your book in terms of beginning, middle, and end. Anything more complicated will get you lost. If you need help, read this book: Do the Work.
  • Have a set time to work on your book every day. If you want to take a day or two off per week, schedule that as time off. Don’t just let the deadline pass. And don’t let yourself off the hook.
  • Choose a unique place to write. This needs to be different from where you do other activities. The idea is to make this a special space so that when you enter it, you’re ready to work on your project to write a book.

Staying accountable

  • Have a set word count. Think in terms of 10-thousand work increments and break each chapter into roughly equal lengths: » 10,000 words: a pamphlet » 20,000 words: short eBook or print book » 40,000–50,000 words: good-sized nonfiction book » 60,000–70,000 words: longer nonfiction book » 80,000 words–100,000 words: typical novel length
  • Give yourself weekly deadlines. It can be a word count, percentage of progress, whatever. Just have something to aim for, and someone who will hold you accountable.
  • Get early feedback. Nothing stings worse than writing a book and then having to rewrite it, because you didn’t let anyone look at it. Have a few trusted advisers to help you discern what’s worth writing.

Staying motivated

  • Ship. No matter what, finish the book. Send it to the publisher, release it on Amazon, do whatever you need to do to get it in front of people. Just don’t put it in your drawer.
  • Embrace failure. Know that this will be hard and you will mess up. Be okay with it. Give yourself grace. That’s what will sustain you, not your high standards of perfection.
  • Write another. Most authors are embarrassed of their first book. But without that first, they never would have learned the lessons they did. So put your work out there, fail early, and try again. This is the only way you get good — you practice.

Need help publishing a book? Check out my Kindle Publishing program if you’re interested to write a book by putting an eBook on Amazon.

Article by Jeff Goins

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Getting Book Publishers To Pick You

Book Publishers – Pick Me, Pick Me

 

The reason publishers are signing authors who have built their own platforms is the same reason YouTube sensations are appearing on car commercials. It’s because they’re not waiting to be picked.*

Waiting to Be Picked

Photo credit: David Goehring (Creative Commons)

These people are choosing to start in spite of the fact that no one’s given them permission. And this is what makes them so attractive. These are the trail-blazers, the trendsetters, and true difference-makers of our day. They’re the ones “crazy enough to change the world.”

And you could be one of them, too. If you would just stop waiting.

We all want to be picked

Of course, this is natural — the desire to be chosen, to fit in with society’s standards, to be liked by the cool kids. It’s also a myth, as evasive as chasing the wind.

For every person or group that picks you, there is one (or a hundred ones) that doesn’t. You can spend your whole life trying to please them all.

Or you can focus your attention on something that matters, like finding your tribe

You must pick yourself

The real trick is to not wait, but to pick yourself. To “turn pro” in your head (as Pressfield says). To believe you can do what you’re asking others to believe about you.

That’s how you become “legit” in the eyes of others. Not by waiting for acknowledgment, but by acting as if you already have it.

The crazy part: When you do this, you get the permission you’ve been waiting for. Not by asking for it, but by proving yourself. The paradox is you get what you’re desiring when you stop desiring it.

In other words, the less concerned you are with appealing to an audience’s sensitivities, the more appealing an audience will find you.

It’s the classic “cool guy” routine that gets the girl every time by acting as if he’s not interested. Of course, he is. He’s very interested in her. But he moves on with his life as if he’s not.

And she finds him absolutely irresistible.

Our heroes do this

This is what we love about our favorite movie actors and athletes and rock gods. They don’t care about the system. They care about creating art or breaking rules or just being themselves. They are above reproach, have somehow transcended the need for acceptance.

Of course, we know this can’t be true.

We have read enough biographies and seen enough interviews to know that our heroes are just as human and insecure as we are. They just do something different with their fear. They don’t let it debilitate them. They choose to create — and ship — anyway.

And if they can, maybe you can, too. Maybe we all can.

Article by Jeff Goins

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Overcoming Procrastination For Writers

Overcoming Procrastination

Procrastination is something we all do from time to time. And that’s ok to a point but when it becomes detrimental to your well being, then you need to get it in check.

As a writer I have serious bouts of procrastination around writing my books. It was hurting my productivity which in turn affected my income. I needed to put a stop to my procrastinating ways. So I started to analyse my habits, devise a plan and get into action all with the help of some strong, positive chats with myself.

Yes I talk to myself; mostly in private but occasionally in public

Here is what I did to stop my procrastination

1.Recognize the procrastinator’s motto.

Consider the following thought, which surely crosses our minds many times in one form or another: “I have to finish this important task. It should already be done by now and I just need to do it.” This small, seemingly innocent thought contains almost every mental block that encourages procrastination. We all use the Procrastinator’s Motto (or variations of it) every once in a while. If you’re a chronic procrastinator, chances are you repeat it to yourself very frequently — daily, perhaps. But what’s so wrong about the Procrastinator’s Motto? In what ways do these words encourage procrastination so much — and what can we do about it? Let’s consider each part of this statement in turn, replacing each of them with an empowering alternative. In doing that, we’ll turn the original motto on its head and create a productive call to action: a “Producer’s Motto”, if you like.

2. Remember that you don’t ‘have to’ do anything.

‘I have to’ is every procrastinator’s favourite expression. It’s also the most disempowering. Every time you say to yourself that you have to do something, you imply that you don’t have any choice, that you feel forced or coerced to do the task — that you don’t really want to do it. That perception, of course, elicits a strong feeling of being victimized and resistance toward doing the task.

The solution to this problem is to replace ‘I have to’ with the immensely more empowering alternative ‘I choose to’ or ‘I will’. Everything you do is ultimately a choice (yes, even completing tax forms). Using language that expresses choice reminds you of that and brings the feeling of power back.

3. Focus on starting, rather than finishing.

When you focus on finishing something, you direct your attention to a vague, highly idealized future. Visualizing a finished project is motivating for many people, but for someone who’s having a hard time starting a task, visualizing a hard-to-grasp future can be overwhelming — even depressing.

The solution in this case, then, is not to focus on finishing, but on starting. Forget for a minute about the finish line, just concentrate on giving your first step. Bring your focus from the future to what can be done right now. We all know that if we start something enough times, we’ll eventually finish the task. Starting — all by itself — is usually sufficient to build enough momentum to keep the ball rolling.

4. Break a long project down into short tasks.

Dwelling on the size and difficulty of a looming task will overwhelm us, and thus promote procrastination. Any undertaking, no matter how daunting, can be broken down into smaller steps.

The trick is — with each step along the way — to focus solely on the next, achievable chunk of work. Ignore the big picture for a while and just tackle that next small task. Make sure you can easily visualize the outcome of your small task. Don’t write a book; write a page. If it is still intimidating, commit yourself to work on it for a specific period of time. Keep the big picture in mind, of course, but don’t allow it to frighten you. Use it for motivation and direction.

5. Don’t place too much pressure on yourself.

Placing such high hopes on a project only adds anxiety and fear of failure. Perfectionism fuels procrastination. Overcome this mental block by simply giving yourself permission to be human.

Allow yourself to be imperfect with the next small task. You can always refine your work later. If you’re a serial perfectionist, go one step further and commit yourself to doing a sloppy job on purpose — at least at first. Instead of making every step perfect, think of them as steps toward perfection. For instance, write a page or two now, then proofread and correct them later.

6. Stop thinking about the way things ‘should’ be.

The expression ‘should’ invokes blame and guilt. When you say you should be doing something (instead of what you’re actually doing), you focus on comparing an ideal reality with your current, “bad” reality. You focus not on what is, but on what could have been. Misused ‘shoulds’ can elicit feelings of failure, depression and regret. The solution is not to focus on how you feel now, but on how good you will feel after you begin to take action.

7. Take some directed action.

Even the tiniest progress is success — moving toward a goal is the best motivator. The trick is to bring that expected feeling of accomplishment into the present — and know that the real joy of progress is only a small task away. That small step is success.

Success is not the end of your task. Success is the progress that leads you to your next step.

8. Make it fun

“I’ve got to work all weekend”. “I am trapped in this laborious project”. Long periods of isolation can bring an enormous feeling of resentment. These feelings generate a strong sense of deprivation and resistance toward the task.

Overcome this mental block by avoiding long stretches of work. Schedule frequent and brief breaks. Plan small rewards along the way. One idea is to work near a break area. Have something to look forward to — not far away and not at the end of a long stretch — but in the very near future. When rewards are small, frequent, and deserved, they work wonders. Truly commit to brief bursts of relaxation and leisure time. In fact, go ahead and make it mandatory. This “reverse-psychology” can, by itself, give you a more productive and enjoyable mindset.

9. Rephrase your internal dialog.

Time to check what we’ve accomplished with all the word substitutions. We started with:

“I have to finish this important task. It should already be done by now and I just need to do it.”

And ended up with:

“I choose to start this task with a small, imperfect step. I’ll feel terrific and have plenty of time for fun!” Quite a change, eh? Every time you catch yourself repeating any part of Procrastinator’s Motto to yourself, stop and rephrase it. Then check how you feel.

At first, it may seem to be a simple matter of word choices. But when you try this simple way of reframing your thoughts, you’ll see how it instantly changes your attitude toward your tasks. Moreover, if you turn it into a habit, you’ll slowly reprogram your thoughts, and make a positive, permanent change in your mindset.

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Top 5 Mistakes When Writing A Book

When writing any book most writers run into a lot of roadblocks. Most of the roadblocks, though, were from avoidable mistakes I made during the writing process. Thankfully, now I know better.

To help you out, I’ve pulled together the five things you shouldn’t do when writing a book.  To save you a lot of time, do not:

1. Tell Anyone The Plot of Your Book

When you’re writing a book, occasionally someone — like a family member, friend or that loaded guy sitting next to you at the bar — will con you into talking about your book while you’re writing it. Wrong move. They will offer unsolicited pieces of advice like, “You should name your main character Booger”

While most are honestly trying to be helpful, the majority of them — who have never written a book — will likely be offering bad advice. Best to stay hush-hush about it until it’s finished and you can have it edited or work-shopped by other writers.

2. Get Attached to Any Part of Your Book

Oh-Boy-Youre-Having-A-Girl

As writers, we often fall in love with our own writing and plot points. This happens to me all the time. I write an awesome first paragraph and continue writing a chapter. As I go along, it’s clear that the chapter has taken a decidedly different turn and that first paragraph doesn’t quite fit. But I love that first paragraph. So I spend countless hours rewriting the rest of the chapter, even though deep down I know the only real solution is to cut that first graph.

It’s brutally painful, but not cutting it is a mistake rookie writers make. And if you want to publish your book, you’ll cut anything that doesn’t quite fit — even if it’s a part you love. [Like this idea? Tweet it!]

3. Set Unreasonable Goals

I believe in goals, so no matter what you are writing — a novel, nonfiction book, memoir, poetry chapbook, an article on how to write a blog (which I did) — you need to set some. That being said, don’t set goals that are nearly impossible to reach. Unreasonable goals will only cause you to get mad at yourself and will, in fact, slow your process down rather than speed it up — after all, if you feel like you’re letting yourself down, you’ll be less motivated to write.

I like to set time goals as opposed to word-count goals. For example, if you only have 30 minutes a day to write, just sit down and write as many words as you can in that 30 minutes. Some days you may only walk away with a couple hundred. Others you may knock out a thousand or two. But if you walk away with any words, you’ll feel more confident knowing you worked as hard as you could that day to get that many words out. And eventually, they will add up.

4. Only Save Your Book in One Place

Like every writer, I have a very love-hate relationship with computers — as in, I love them when they are helping me work more efficiently and I hate them when … well … nearly all the rest of the time. It’s not intuitive to me to continually hit “save” when writing, especially when I’m in the zone. So when I forget to save (which happens all the time) and my computer crashes (which seems to happen every time I’m finally satisfied with my work), I lose everything.

I finally started writing using Google Docs, where it not only automatically saves your work but it saves it online, so you can access it from any computer you want. After writing the first few chapters of Oh Boy, You’re Having a Girl in Word and losing nearly 50% of my writing, I fell in love with Google Docs because they took away the unnecessary stress of worrying about my computer crashing. Now my computer could reboot all it wanted and I’d still have all those wonderful words I worked so hard to write.

5. Take the Fun Out of Writing

Too often writing a book turns into a chore. That can happen for many reasons — stressed over a self-imposed deadline, trouble defining a character, dealing with writer’s block, afraid that the book just isn’t good enough so far, etc. I once got stuck on one sentence — one sentence – because I didn’t think it was “funny enough” and used it as an excuse to stop writing for days. That’s a true story. And now, looking back, I see how absurd that is.

The important thing to do is forget all of that — all the worries and stresses and self-induced headaches. Just focus on the reason you wanted to write a book in the first place: Because you’re a storyteller and you have a story to tell. Remind yourself of that every day and you’ll have fewer roadblocks to finishing your book.

Article by Brian Klems

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Fixing The 5 Biggest Mistakes In Fiction Writing

Fiction Writing Mistakes

 

First drafting of your fiction writing should be a wild and wonderful ride, full of discovery, dreams and promises. But at some point you have to settle down and make the book really work. You need to approach your manuscript with sober objectivity and knowledge of the craft.

Having reviewed hundreds of manuscripts over the years, I’ve identified the five mistakes that most regularly turn up. Start your revision by addressing these, and you’ll immediately change your story for the better.

1. Happy People in Happy Land

Chief among the most common problems, in first chapters especially, are scenes presenting characters who are perfectly happy in their ordinary worlds. The writer thinks that by showing nice people doing nice things, readers will care about these pleasant folk when the characters are finally hit with a problem.

But readers actually engage with plot via trouble, threat, change or challenge. I call the first hint of this the opening disturbance. It can be stunning, as in Jodi Picoult’s Lone Wolf, which begins:

Seconds before our truck slams into the tree, I remember the first time I tried to save a life.

Or it can be something quieter, a single item that is off kilter, as in the opening of Sarah Pekkanen’s The Opposite of Me:

As I pulled open the heavy glass door of Richards, Dunne & Krantz and walked down the long hallway toward the executive offices, I noticed a light was on up ahead.

Lights were never on this early.

Although Happy People most commonly appear in Chapter 1, that doesn’t mean you can let your guard down once you’ve opened with a bang. As your novel progresses, look out for stops in Happy Land.

While revising my novel Don’t Leave Me, I noticed a scene in which my protagonist, Chuck Samson, a teacher recovering from his wife’s death, goes with his autistic brother to a colleague’s apartment for dinner. The host, knowing that Chuck used to do magic when his wife was alive, asks him to do a trick. Chuck resists but is cajoled into it. In the original version he performed a disappearing knife trick successfully, and everyone was pleased until the cops arrived at the door at the end of the scene.

I decided this was too happy. In my published version, Chuck blows it:

… the knife slid off his lap and hit the floor with a clank.

“Oops,” Stan said.

Chuck had not blown that trick in twenty years. He looked at his hands like they were foreign objects that had betrayed him.

Wendy laughed good naturedly. But when Chuck looked at her, she stopped laughing.

Trouble is your business. Make more of it.

2. A World Without Fear

The best novels, the ones that stay with you all the way to the end—and beyond—have the threat of death hanging over every scene.

Death? Really? Even, say, category romances?

Stay with me.

Death comes in three forms. Physical death is a staple of the thriller, of course. But there’s also professional death, where the main character is engaged in a vocation and the particular matter at hand threatens that position: A cop assigned a case that may mean the end of his career. A married politician falling for a young staffer. A devoted mother losing the child she loves to drugs. Your job, if it’s vocational death overhanging your novel, is to make whatever problem the protagonist is facing feel so important that failing to overcome it will mean a permanent setback to his main role in life.

There’s also psychological death (“dying on the inside”), most often emphasized in character-driven fiction. This is where the romance genre comes in. It has to seem as if the lovers must end up together or their lives will forever be less than what they could have been.

Regardless of which form you use, you must put death on the line so fear may be felt throughout. Fear is a continuum—it can be simple worry or outright terror. You can put it everywhere. And you should.

In the pulp classic The Red Scarf by Gil Brewer, the main character’s schemes are closing in around him (as usually happens in noir). His wife is trying to have a normal dinner with him. But he’s worried:

“Come on and eat, Roy. Supper’s ready.”

“All right.” I went into the kitchen and sat down and stared at my plate. I didn’t want to eat. There was this rotten black feeling all through me and I couldn’t shake it.

“Eat something, Roy. What’s the matter?”

“Nothing. I just don’t feel so hot.”

I wanted to go over and take this guy Radan and knock the hell out of him. Only I knew I wouldn’t. You know when it’s not ready. You know something’s going to happen.

Something had to happen. It was like before a big storm, with the black clouds out there on the horizon. Everything goes calm and dead, and then …

Once the story is underway, scenes where fear isn’t present in some form mean the stakes are not high enough or the characters aren’t acting the way they should in the face of death.

3. Marshmallow Dialogue

Dialogue is the fastest way to improve your fiction writing—or to sink it. When agents, editors or readers see crisp, tension-filled dialogue, they gain confidence in the writer’s ability. But dialogue that is sodden and undistinguished (marshmallow dialogue) has the opposite effect.

Pro dialogue is compressed. Marshmallow dialogue is puffy.

Pro dialogue has conflict. Marshmallow dialogue is overly sweet.

Pro dialogue sounds different for each character. Marshmallow dialogue blends together.

Fortunately, the fixes are simple.

First, make sure you can “hear” every character in a distinct voice. A great way to do this is to create a voice journal: a free-form document written in a character’s voice, talking to you, the author, on a variety of topics. Develop these documents until each character sounds unique, and then apply what you’ve learned to your manuscript.

Second, compress your dialogue as much as possible, cutting fluffy words, whole lines or even entire exchanges. Here’s an example:

“Mary, are you angry with me?” John asked.

“You’re damn straight I’m mad at you,” Mary said.

“But why? You’ve got absolutely no reason to be!”

“Oh but I do, I do. And you can see it in my face, can’t you?”

The alternative:

“You angry with me?” John asked.

“Damn straight,” Mary said.

“You got no reason to be!”

Mary felt her hands curling into fists.

Try this: Copy a lengthy dialogue exchange into a fresh document. Then cut and compress as much as you can. Compare it to the original. Nine times out of 10 you’ll prefer all or part of the new version.

Finally, be sure to include some sort of tension in every exchange. Remember fear? At the very least you can have some aspect of it (worry, anxiety, fright) going on inside one of the characters so that communication is partially impaired. Try playing up the different agendas each character has in a scene. Let them use dialogue as a weapon to get what they want.

4. Predictability

Readers like to worry about characters in crisis. They want to tremble about what’s around the next corner (whether it’s emotional or physical). If a reader knows what’s coming, and then it does in fact come, the worry factor is blown. Your novel no longer conveys a fictive dream but a dull ride down familiar streets.

The fix for this fiction writing mistake is simple: Put something unexpected in every scene. Doing this one thing keeps the reader on edge.

So how do you come up with the unexpected? Try making lists. Pause and ask yourself what might happen next, and list the possibilities, centering on three primary areas: description, action and dialogue. For each one, don’t choose the first thing that comes to mind (which usually amounts to cliches). Force yourself to list at least five alternatives.

Description: Dump generic details for ones unique to the character’s perceptions. How might he see a room where someone died? What’s one surprising thing about the wallpaper? The bed? The closet?

Action: Close your eyes and watch your scene unfold. Let the characters improvise. What are some outlandish things that could result? If something looks interesting, find a way to justify it.

Dialogue: Don’t always use “on-the-nose” exchanges. How might characters say things that put other characters (and thus, readers) off balance? Consider Clarice Starling’s first conversation with Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs. Clarice begins:

“I think you’ve been destructive. For me it’s the same thing.”

“Evil’s just destructive? Then storms are evil, if it’s just that simple. And we have fire, and then there’s hail. Underwriters lump it all under ‘Acts of God.’”

“Deliberate––”

“I collect church collapses, recreationally. Did you see the recent one in Sicily?”

You can make these lists in your planning stages, just before writing a scene, and/or when you revise. Either way, the unexpected elements that result will perceptibly elevate the quality of your story.

5. Lost Love

As I said up front, writing a book is like falling in love. Outlining and planning are the wooing. Drafting the novel is your commitment to marriage (which would make the opening scenes the honeymoon). But at some point, you and your book will likely need some marriage counseling. Because when you lose the verve for your material, it shows.

So how do you regain lost love? The surest way is by going deeper into your characters.

Start with backstory. Maybe you’ve already done an extensive bio for your main character. Try starting a new one. Keep the best of the old material, but put in plenty that’s new.

Focus on the year your character turned 16. Create an account of what happened at that crucial stage. What incident shaped her? What romances, heartaches, tragedies? Write those scenes in detail.

Do this for your antagonist, too, and your secondary characters. Soon enough you’ll be excited to get back to your story.

Also, try focusing on what your protagonist yearns for. We yearn because we feel a lack, a need, a hole in our souls. So yearning is about connection. This, in fact, is the power of mythology, some of the best storytelling of all time. Joseph Campbell taught that myths were a way of gaining connection to something transcendent, a life source, an essential mystery.

Readers, too, yearn for connection—with stories they can get lost in and be moved by. Fix these five areas in your fiction writing, and your books can be among them.

Article by Brian Klems

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