Just Write the Damn Book Already #MayChallengeDay23-24


I really debated on whether to publish this or not. I definitely wanted to, but I was not sure I wanted to hear anything else about book publishing, let alone you. Of course, this is what I do so that boat has sailed for me. I opened my email this morning and there was confirmation that I needed to indeed hit this publish button on this. In that email was this quote:

“Book writing tip: For every 1 hour you spend marketing your book, spend 100 hours writing something worthy of being marketed.” —Jon Acuff

The secret is this: Good books market themselves.

I didn’t have a plan for The Stella Trilogy. I’m not saying you shouldn’t, you definitely should. But to be honest, I didn’t! And yet, these books have turned out to sell more and to be my greatest work to date (far as reader interest is concerned). Sure, I could use more  reviews, but the big picture is that I did it and in my humble opinion, it has been successful so far. Not by way of numbers. I didn’t make Amazon’s #1 spot (I made #17 though!) let alone NYT. What I did however is make an impact on peoples lives. Don’t get it twisted, I’ve worked very hard (your not getting off that easy!), but almost everyday there’s a testimony from a reader about how the books changed them. One European woman messaged me to say that before reading Stella she didn’t know what the NAACP was (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People). The young woman doesn’t live in the United States by the way so before you judge understand that whats prevalent over here isn’t in other places. The point is that the books have touched people and that’s what has made it succeed. Though I didn’t have much of a plan, the books are genuinely good stories so they market themselves.

Everyone has an opinion on what you should be doing. Funny thing is that most of what you read about Self-Publishing is not entirely the case, no longer accurate, or just completely untrue. Advice itself is subjective. Personal. It “could” be true or maybe its not. Maybe the moon is really made of cheese.

The Industry is changing faster than you can finish writing one book, let alone several. By the time you finish that book, chances are the research you did will have a different face to it. What works for one author may never work for another. Interestingly enough, this means we really only have our experiences and expert opinions which is a fancy word for “I tried this and it worked. Maybe it will work or you too”. Like I said, there’s LOTS of advice out there, and while some of it is awesome, at the end of the day you have to write a good book. What I love about Self-Publishing is that with each new project I learn something new. This year, I am learning the value of writing a great book. Whether marketing, promotion, or whether or not there are green men on mars, at the end of it all I need a story that will keep readers reading AND keep them talking about it. (Maybe the men aren’t green. Maybe they’re grey. Or maybe they have skin suits).

Authors across the board, Indie or Traditional, simply must produce engaging content. When I review a book I read, for instance, its as if I’m a reader because I am. Meaning I’m not a grammatical geek with glasses on the tip of my nose saying a series of “Ah ha”, “Hmmms” and “Isn’t that Interesting?” I’m just a reader looking for a good story. I’ll leave the editing (OK so maybe you do have one too many sentence fragments) to the editor. For me? I just want to enjoy what I read and you know what? This is the mind of the reader as well. The sob story for Self-Publishing is not Self-Publishing. The sob story is that people are not writing good stories. It (SP) got its stigmas because with the increase in technology, people became so fascinated with the idea of book publishing than producing a good book. Everyone wanted to know what it felt like to hold a book in their hands that they wrote. Everyone forgot that writing is still a skill and we had people to enter this industry who never knew how to write but saw On Demand Publishing as an opportunity to publish a book. This can’t happen in other fields. You can’t walk into a doctors office and start to diagnose people. You don’t have the skill.

Indie Publishing is the IT thing right now. All of the cool kids are doing it but writers are driving themselves crazy with all the information out there. “What should I do?” “What should I not do?” “What’s fact?” “What’s fiction?” “Should I outline?” “Should I not?” “Should I promote this way or that way?” “Should I pay?” “Should I not pay?” “Am I doing it wrong?” Just write the damn book already!

Re-post: Author Tips on Writing Historical Fiction

This is a re-post from M.K. Tod who writes historical fiction and blogs about all aspects of the genre at A Writer of History. Her recent post included a list of tips on writing Historical Fiction as acquired from around the web. Instead of re-blogging I decided to re-post some of those tips here, they are just too good to let pass us by so I organized them in the list below so we can see them all. Please visit A Writer of History for author source and to comment on her blog. I would also suggest you follow her (especially if your a historical fiction writer), she is always on point with her guest authors, links, and advice:

  • Let the characters engage with the historical details – a variation on show don’t tell


  • Allow your characters to question and explore their place in society – doing so reveals the context of the times


  • Love the process, because readers will still find errors


  • Sweat the Small Stuff – small details allow readers to engage all senses in the past world you are building


  • Dump the Ballast – too much detail is a killer


  • Read historical fiction – sounds obvious doesn’t it but you have to appreciate excellent historical fiction in order to be successful


  • Know when to stop researching – cautions about falling down the proverbial rabbit hole


  • Research comes before writing – get the facts right to ensure a good foundation for your novel


  • Inhabit the mind and skin of your characters – you have to understand the sensibilities of the time so your readers can feel immersed in it


  • Pick a universal theme if you can – the concerns of your novel need to resonate with modern readers


  • Choose a time and place that really intrigues you – passion will make your story more compelling

No Wonder Your Post Only Got 5 Likes


Before I shut down for the weekend I have to share this. I’m sitting here going through some of my older posts (the ones with 0-5 likes) and my tagging is  just sad. Like, it doesn’t even make any sense. I love looking back on my work and seeing where I can improve. So, here’s 7 tips on tagging I acquired from some friends in the blogging world as well as somewhere in this brain of mine. I caution I am not an expert and these tips are just based on my prior knowledge and experience (so far) with blogging:

1. Try to mix your original tags with some general tags. General tags are tags that are often used such as: Blog, Blogger, Blogging, WordPress, Google, General, Poetry, and Writing (for book promo also use Amazon, eBook, and Self-Publishing). Original Tags are any tags you want to use or tags that are unique to your blog such as your blog name (I often use pbs for Pearls Before Swine).

2. Don’t be afraid to step outside the box. Make sure your tags have something to do with the post BUT this doesn’t mean you can’t get creative and add tags you think may drive more traffic since its mentioned in your post. For instance, one of the tags I chose for this post is: “Spelling”. This post is not going to teach you how to spell, but it does say something about spelling. I could have also used “Grammar” or “Grammatically Correct”, or “Punctuation”. I also tagged this post “Follows” and “Support” because they are similar in theme to “Likes”

3. Make sure your spelling is correct in the tags! LOL

4. If you’re going to use less than 15 tags, make them count. It will be best to use commonly used tags, such as Blog, General, and WordPress. Otherwise, it’s best to stick to at least 15 -17 tags. I think any more than that is overkill because…well, just because.

5. Remember that categories count as tags.

6. Keep your tags short and simple! Remember that old saying that if you sell books the way you buy them you’re more likely to increase profit? If you go to Amazon to buy a book, then your book should probably be on Amazon as well. Or, if you are more than likely to purchase an ebook, your book should probably have an ebook version as well. The logic is that you’re a reader first and if you have certain buying habits as a reader then chances are other readers have the same habits and so you use your reader habits in your marketing strategies. Well, if you tag the way you browse the net it may help in the same way. People google the way that they think and have a tendency to use the same keywords over and over again. This means some tags are just taking up space because no one is going to use them. What’s the chances of someone finding “Ilovemymothersomuch”? That’s a tag that doesn’t make any sense. I would tag it “Mothers” instead because if I needed to google articles about a mother’s love that is what I would type in.

7. As a bonus, here’s a Tag Support Chart I acquired some time ago from a fellow blogger. It displays some commonly used tags separated by days. I don’t always follow the suggested actions that go along with the tags but I do use them. I’m still learning how to tag properly but this chart has been VERY helpful in that process (Tags I often use are: Blog, Blogging, Blogger, General, Writing, Google, WordPress, and I add one of the tags in the chart along with some that have to do with the post itself):


One Reason to Never Ask Someone To Follow Your Blog

Follow Me

• It’s like asking someone to love you.

As many are polishing and re-polishing their blogs for what 2015 has in store, there are people on the internet contemplating starting a blog. They may be tying up the loose ends and deciding on a template this very moment; or categorizing a host of topics to cover. Some of them are writers, poets, chefs, professional business men and women, teachers, lawyers, publishers, or just people who would like to share their thoughts with the world. Wherever they are we will soon meet them. For this reason there are some tips I think we can all use to help increase productivity, or ideas we would like to share with future newbies or old heads looking to expand and or increase traffic.


One tip I would like to offer from my tiny corner of the Blogosphere is a suggestion: One Reason to Never Ask Someone to Follow Your Blog. While I admire the courage it takes to step out on faith and all, and give it the old college try, personally I think it’s kind of tacky, screams of desperation, and that we’re all worth so much more. I do not want to thrust my words into your mouth and force you to swallow them and I don’t expect to be forced to do the same. I will never write specifically for your approval because I’m not built that way. If you disagree you have a right to do so and on to the next one. But to ask you to follow me is disingenuous. While the person may just follow you because they investigated what made you bold enough to ask and decided they actually want to follow your blog, the offering side of that coin is not so bright. I imagine we all want people to follow our blogs or to interact with them in some way because we all have something to offer. Even if it’s just a blog created specifically to vent, to rant and to rave about how much life sucks, you still have something to offer otherwise you could have just bought a journal and scribbled till your fingers grew numb. But you didn’t. You decided to browse the internet where millions of people live and share your thoughts with them. Call it therapy, or call it a hobby, whatever, but don’t pretend feedback isn’t encouraging for you because otherwise why are you here? My point is that even if you’re content with one follower, I think he or she is worth all you’ve got to give. I’ve had to do lots of things that required an audience and only had a few people to show, but I’ve always believed that no matter how big or small, it was my responsibility as the host to give one-hundred percent. People are drawn to passion, so give them some—but show, don’t ask.

You want people to interact with your blog because something you said drew them in and they simply could not resist themselves, not just because you asked them to. In this way you already have their attention as opposed to trying to grab their attention. You must strive to keep their attention of course, but you do have them in this moment. No matter how weird and quirky you are people like what you have to say. My suggestion is that you grab them first and let them decide if you’re worth following; it makes for a much sweeter victory. Let us fall in love first before deciding whether or not to make this a commitment.