My Advice for New Writers by John W. Howell

Great advice for both new and established writers. Post Quote: “Reality 1. Readers have no idea who you are. You need to market yourself and your books. You need to understand social media, marketing, selling, and general good business practices.”

Mystery Thriller Week

Your book

I was at a book signing the other day, and a person asked me a question that caused me to have to think a little before blurting out an answer. The question was, “What should every new writer know?” My answer at the time seemed to satisfy the person asking but after giving it a little more thought I decided that my reply was at best adequate and at worst incomplete. Now thanks to the Mystery Thriller Week I have been given another opportunity to adequately express what I have no come to call My Advice for New Writers that Every New Writer Should Know Before Deciding to Become a Writer. I think you can tell from my title that the thought process has grown from my initial response at the book signing. Also, if you have decided to become a writer no matter what anyone tells you, I would…

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To Support an Author

Updated: This post has been revised and updated on 8/12/18

Purchasing the book is just one way that we can support an author’s work. There are many more. Can’t afford the book? Know your options.

  • Buy the Book

Obviously, the best way to support an author is to purchase their books. This helps us financially as well as build our fan base. If you like the book we hope that you will be back for more.

  • Review the Book

There are so many advantages to you reviewing a book after you’ve read it. Amazon’s algorithm judges the author’s popularity and therefore the book’s quality as a product to promote by sales and reviews. It gives those who have not read it insight into what the book is about (beyond the blurb), helps them to see if it’s worth reading, and shows readers that others are talking about the author. This is important because Indie Authors have to do a lot themselves and will often be seen self-promoting. Book Reviews give us a chance to involve others unrelated to the work to do the promoting for us. As an author, this shows readers that you aren’t just tooting your own horn. Others enjoy your writing too. Book reviews are a form of social proof.

  • Rate the Book

If you don’t have time to review it, rating it is just as good. It will bring more attention to the book and make it more visible to readers. You can rate books via Amazon and Goodreads. This shows up at the top of your updates for your friends to see just like if you left a review. Also, if you rate a book it will automatically mark the book as read (so don’t rate books you haven’t actually read).

  • Mark the Book as “To read” on Goodreads

Again, this boosts a book’s credibility. The more people who mark the book as “To Read” the more attention if gets from people looking at the page. The book will also show up at the top of your timeline so that other readers can see it too, boosting visibility for the author. If you know of an author and you’d like to support them but you can’t purchase or review their book right now, head on over to their page on Goodreads and mark the book as “To read”. They’ll appreciate it. Also, if you’re an author, be sure to set up an Author Account on Goodreads. When you first join, you will be defaulted to a reader account. To learn how to upgrade to an author account, read this article HERE.

  • Follow the Author’s Amazon Page

If the author has the link to their amazon page on their site you can just click it and push the follow author button. However, if not you can always search them. Go to and enter their name into the box. Amazon’s search engine acts similar to Google’s so I am sure you will find the author you’re looking for. When you find them, follow their Amazon page to be alerted to new books.

  • Rate the Author’s Top Reviews

Scroll through the author’s reviews and pick one of their best ones. Then, if it’s helpful in determining your decision on whether or not to buy, click that it is helpful. Like ratings and reviews, this helps the book to show up more as a recommended read.

Other ways to support an author include, but are not limited to:

  • Follow the author’s blog
  • Join the author’s email list / newsletter
  • Follow the author on social media

Indie Author Page


I have added a new page to this blog: Indie Authors. There you will find the list of Authors I’ve worked with so far per the Book Reviews published to this blog. As I publish more, the list will grow.

If you’re looking for something good to read, you can find tons of good stories there.

If you would like to be added to my list, register your book for consideration for a Book Review HERE.

Please read my guidelines carefully before submitting your book. Book reviews are free and I have the right to decline any book I am not comfortable reviewing.

If you don’t meet the requirements for my book reviews keep in mind that you can always submit a different book or submit something else that I can promote on your behalf.

Thank you for your time and understanding.


Self-Publishing – Laying Bricks Ep 5: Decorating

Laying Bricks(1)

I want to be clear that this series does not intend to explain how to become a best seller, how to market and promote like a pro and all of that. I named this series Laying Bricks to demonstrate the importance of laying a proper foundation for producing a book. However, we are officially passed the ground work and are now ready to decorate a little bit.

I don’t have to tell you how important book cover design is. In fact, many of your favorite author blogs have already said as much a gazillion times. For this reason, I am not going to spend a lot of time on this topic. Hopefully, what I can provide instead is something a bit different than what you’ve already been told. Hopefully, we can spend this precious time of yours talking about something a bit more unique.

When it comes to Book Cover Design you have 3 choices. You can purchase a high priced professional book cover, purchase an affordable pre-made, or have someone you know who specializes in graphic design to do it for you.

Paying More

My first experience with paying more than I’d like to on a Book Cover design happened when I was tired of my books looking bootleg and I invested in 99 Designs, an online graphic design contest marketplace. The program sells all kinds of designs from Book Covers to Logos. The process is set up like a contest where you pay a certain amount of money to have more than one graphic designer to compete to design your perfect cover. As the days go by and the designers are working and submitting cover designs as if your their personal client, you’re reviewing and eliminating designs at various stages. Each designer is working to edit the cover to your liking at each step and you are eliminating them as you go on. I really enjoyed the process and it was a fun experience that I wouldn’t mind doing again.

What I loved about the experience was having talented graphic designers to work on my book covers. The reason I highlight this aspect is because when someone who is not a professional designer chooses a design for a book (let’s say an Independent Publisher / Self-Publisher designing their own book but is not a designer) they won’t necessarily have the same eye for those little things that can make a big difference in the design like a professional will have. We may not be familiar with elements, background, proper typography and all of that. I mention this because this can be one huge benefit to paying a little money for the right cover (That and y’all know how serious I am about investing in your business. Don’t always look for everything to be free or low cost and then expect the same quality).

However, 99 Designs was also too expensive.


The reality is that I’m broke. Many of these super professional covers, the ones that we’d all like to have are very expensive, priced anywhere from $300-$700 dollars’ minimum. Surely, I don’t have the kind of money to purchase a book cover at the same price I did for the 99 Designs (which I only made back by hosting a live event and selling paperback copies). This is where creativity comes in and with creativity comes pre-mades.

The benefit of having a pre-made Book Cover design is numerous. To start, you can purchase a cover for as low as $45 or even lower if you go through such places as Fiverr (which I wouldn’t really recommend getting anything too cheap, just saying).

Pre-mades are professionally designed Book Covers pre-designed by, for the most part, professional designers. They can be edited to fit the authors needs and some even give you options for changing colors and fonts to fit the style of your book.

I do have a concern about pre-made covers though that I cannot leave without warning you about. I have not yet heard anyone speak about this and while I’d highly recommend pre-mades (I use them myself), be sure you are on the lookout for covers that are a little too similar.

What am I talking about? Well, all pre-made book covers will have a disclaimer that sounds something like this:

“Once a cover is sold it is never sold again!”

Technically, this is true. Once you purchase a pre-made it cannot be sold again. The designer will remove it from their site and that design will be marked as sold. There is a loophole in this, though. That loophole is this: As long as the design is not exactly the same, the designer can sell a cover that is quite similar in taste. As long as there is something slightly different, the cover can be sold as a separate cover. It could even be as minimum as the font or maybe the person is standing on the chair instead of sitting in the chair.

This doesn’t always mean the similar cover is available I must add. Sometimes the designer will add the finished cover to the portfolio so we can see how the final version looks. However, there are many websites that are literally offering a similar cover for sale as the one that was sold with only minor changes. Just an adjustment here and there and it is literally the same cover.

If you purchase a pre-made, be sure it’s a truly unique one that is not like any of the others on that designers’ website. Check the bottom text of those that are similar and make sure it is only similar because the designer is showcasing the look of the final version.

When ordering premades try and look for exclusive premades or ask the designer if they make them. An exclusive premade is a pre-designed cover designed using photos from photographers who will only sell the photo used in the premade once. Otherwise the premade is pre-designed using photos from stock photos or from photographers who will sell the used photo in the premade again to other clients and covers. Although the premade cover is only sold once, the stock photo can be used again and again in other slightly different covers.

Either way, just find something that is unique.

An additional concern with pre-made covers is that rarely will you find pre-mades with anyone of a diverse nature. Rarely do I see pre-made book covers with Asians on them, Chinese, Blacks, Latinos, or Hispanics. For this reason, I often have to look into a custom made design or get a bit creative on my own if my cover will feature an African American person on the cover. (If you know of  designers who specialize in diverse covers, let me know!)

A Friend Who Designs

I’d just say here to make sure that this friend actually knows what they’re doing. Not all book cover designs (including pre-mades) have that professional look. Book Cover designers are everywhere now and graphic designer or no graphic designer some of these covers look like something you can just do yourself (free does not always mean quality).

Below are some pre-made book cover places to check out for those of you who are looking for covers. Many of them are really professional looking and the prices are reasonable:

The Book Cover Designer

The Cover Collection

Go On Write < Go On Write is currently running a sale on covers

Self-Pub Book Covers

Paper and Sage

The Book Cover Machine

EBOOK Indie Covers

Remember, it’s not just about a cute design. Be sure that this design is also a visual representation of your book.


Disclaimer. Everything I share on Self-Publishing is always based on my own experience and research because I believe you can’t advise people on stuff you haven’t really tried. It’s just best if you’ve walked those shoes. So, that said I do not profess to be an expert. There are too many of them out there for you to glean from. Now, should you find information on this blog useful? Whoo hoo! Go for it.

Missed the first four episodes of laying bricks? Check them out below:

Laying Bricks Ep 1: Guide The Bricks

(About Focusing on the Story)

Laying Bricks Ep 2: Mortar

(About the Revision)

Laying Bricks Ep 3: Cutting The Excess

(About Editing)

Laying Bricks Ep 4

(About Advanced Reviews, Pre-Launch)

Hot PBS Self-Publishing Topics to Date:


Yecheilyah Ysrayl is the YA, Historical Fiction author of The Stella Trilogy. She is currently working on her next book series “The Nora White Story” about a young black woman writer who dreams of taking part in The Harlem Renaissance movement and her parents struggle to accept their traumatic past in the Jim Crow south. “Renaissance: The Nora White Story (Book One)” is due for release spring, 2017. For updates on this project, sneak peek of chapters and the pending book cover release for this project, be sure to follow this blog and to subscribe to Yecheilyah’s email list HERE.

10 Winning Strategies For Your Author Event

I love it. Very inspiring. Live events are definitely winners. Post Quote: “Selling lots of books is awesome, but so is meeting people who know what you’re going through and who can help you get to the next step.”