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Starting your week on the previous Friday, your month during the last week of the previous month, your year in December will make your business more productive. (Public Domain Photo)

In my book The Ultimate Keystone Habit, I wrote about ways that I like to start the day the night before. On the days that I incorporate this habit, the following day goes so much better, and I am so much more productive. On the other hand, on those days that I don’t start my day the night before, things don’t go as well the following day.

I like starting my day the night before. I set out my clothes, set up the coffee maker, have the dishes done, make up my plan for the next day, and journal what I am grateful for. Then I go to bed and in the morning because I know what I need to do, there’s no room for procrastination. I begin my morning routine and then get to work doing what I planned for the day.

I recently realized that prepping for the next step isn’t limited to the next day. I can prep for the next week on the Friday before.  I can start then next month the last week of the previous month. I can even start the year at the end of the year before. It is something that no one talks about, but it is a surefire way to 10x a life or a business.

Setting up a plan for the next week would be something that any of us can do. What do you plan to do next week? What are your priorities? Prioritize your week so that you are doing things that move your goals forward and don’t just keep your wheels spinning. Even fifteen minutes working on your goals on Friday for the upcoming week move the “progress can down the road” in a good way.

Getting Ahead for the Week on Friday

As a writer, I like to go over the ideas that I gained during the week on Friday mornings. That’s what I am doing this morning. I am writing down this idea for a story for a publication on Medium called Tightening the Belt. I also have an idea for next Wednesday’s blog and several for my Medium stories.  I am trying to write a new article every day for the entire month of August. What’s amazing is that doing this also gives me time to work on my latest novel Two Rivers each day.

This doesn’t only apply to me as a writer either. Different people can use this system in different ways. If you’re a salesman, you could start your calls the Friday before-when you call if someone says, “Call me next week”, say ‘well, I have you on the phone right now, how about if we scheduled to meet up early next week. Which would you prefer Monday morning or afternoon?” If they say Monday morning works good for them, after your call give a ‘hallelujah’! If you normally have a boring Monday morning meeting, this might be your ‘get out of meeting’ free card because you have a potential sale in front of you. Ask to be excused and ask for minutes to the meeting so that you don’t miss out on any important information. Later in the week you can talk to a colleague about any questions you have about that meeting. You’re following up on a lead, missing a meeting that is a waste of your time, and you already have a great start to your week. You’ll also have a potential sale on a Monday morning where you would have had to use the morning and the afternoon setting up for future sales. Now, you can still do that in the afternoon, but you’ll also already have momentum for a good week ahead of you.

Getting a Head Start on Next Month

As a writer, I can get ahead for the next month first by setting up the plan for the month. I can do this the last week of the month. It only takes a few minutes each day.  The first thing to do during the week is to revisit my goals and determine what I have accomplished and what I want to accomplish toward my master goals that month. Once that’s done, I can assign a specific project for each week to accomplish thereby purposely scheduling those projects to take action on and make headway on my long-term goals.

In addition, I schedule in appointments and other activities that I already have planned for the month and plans. I can also brainstorm ideas that improve how I handle different aspects of my writing business.  

Getting Ahead for the Next Year

Many people start the new year in January and end up getting started with the new year either late in the month or in February and don’t really get the year in full swing until March. I have found that when I get started with the new year in December, I able to get more done in January and February than I would if I had started in the first week of January.

With everything else, it starts with revisiting the long-term goals and creating the annual plan. Every December, between the holiday festivities, I plan the next year. I determine what I would like to get done during each month of the year. I schedule and plan out launches for the year. I plan what January will look like. They don’t have to be detailed, and they will often change over the course of the year, but the plan is there because it is true that if I fail to plan, I plan to fail.

This system of organization can easily be adapted to a team or an organization. Fewer Fridays are wasted, and Mondays are less dreaded when people in your team or organization are encouraged to start at the end of the last period. It may seem like more work in the beginning, but soon you’ll realize that work gains momentum and you’re much more productive than you ever thought possible.


What did I do this month? Well, first, I did do the writing for all the books throughout the month, but I didn’t do many of the other social media that I had planned to do because I was busy with the garden this month. Early in the month, I was planting and later started harvesting a lot of the earlier crops. We weeded and have been watering because we are currently in a drought and excessive wave.

In addition, I processed the garlic for storage, and canned green beans as well as having prepped for and attended the farmer’s market.

Book Sales, Mixed Results

Book sales haven’t yet been what I have been looking for online yet, but in-person book sales at the farmer’s market have been doing well. If I could sell as many books online as I do in person, it would be great. I guess the issue is that I don’t have the online presence that I need to make the sales. I haven’t yet been able to connect with the right readers. I think perhaps what I need to do is to focus each month on the readership of the different genres I am writing rather than trying to do them all at the same time. I think that the best genre to work on right now during the summer would be my historical fiction series, The Locket Saga. In addition, I need to focus more time on the latest of that series Two Rivers. Probably the best idea right now is to connect with other writers in the genre too. I really do think that where I am having the most difficulty is in the aspect of connecting with individuals online. Connecting with other writers and supporting one another would be a great place to put my focus for the next several months or even the next year.

What sales I have made online have been mostly by chance, not by design. One way that I think I received purchases was when I commented on a YouTube page and left a link to my relevant book, and another was from a bookmark that I gave away at Farmer’s market and the person purchased The Locket Saga on Kindle.

There are several other things that I need to do to make my books more accessible too, but that is going to require some work that I have been putting off. Perhaps that will also need to be the focus of my work in the next month as well. I will discuss this more during the next few weeks.

Writing Two Rivers

This month I have done some work on Two Rivers, Book VII of The Locket Saga, Of course, I still have a lot of editing to complete. I currently have written 75520 which is 4480 words less than I planned to get written. However it is still progress.

Looking ahead to July

Now that I have had a successful June, I have a new month to plan for. It already looks to be a very busy month. Farmers Market and blog post writing for both this blog and my other blog The Perpetual Homesteader are given, but here are other priorities I have for July.

My writing and book marketing projects for July will be to (1) Update several books to put them into more distribution. (2) Do a complete second draft of Two Rivers by working on one chapter per day. (3) Developing contacts with other authors. (I plan to share more about how I am developing these contacts throughout the month).

In gardening, my plans are to (1) plant fall beans and late corn. As well as plant cabbage and broccoli indoors. (2) harvest beans, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, potatoes, and zucchini. (3) eat fresh, can, or sell beans, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, potatoes, and zucchini.

How about you? What are your plans for July? Feel free to share in the comments below.

If you haven’t checked out my Author Page on Amazon and check out the look inside feature on every book of interest.


Write a book about what you know best.

As much as I love writing and I love gardening, another of my passions is in teaching others to do the things that I do. That’s why I write two blogs (see my other blog here) and why I wrote the book Write a Book and Ignite Your Business

How can you demonstrate best how much you know about your business? Write a book. How can you add a new income source to your business that augments what you are already doing? Write a book. How can you demonstrate to another person that you know your business better than the next guy? Write a book.  I believe that writing a book is a great way to show the world what you know.

Why should you write a book? Writing a book will help you demonstrate your expertise and create a new income stream for your business. Today more than ever, you have no excuse for not getting that book out that will demonstrate that you are knowledgeable in your business.

What should you write about you ask? You can write about how to do an aspect of your business. Here are a few ideas. If you’re a mechanic, a plumber, or a carpenter, write about how to do simple repairs that the average person can do. If you’re an electrician or a mechanic write a book about what the average person can do if they are having problems and know whether you’re being cheated or not. If you’re a real estate agent, share why the average home buyer needs an agent and how to avoid shady real estate deals. If you started your business, write about what you faced in starting your business, the problems you had, and how you avoided them. You might even tell what you wish you had known before you started your business that would have saved you time and money in the long run. If you’re a writer, of course, you can write about your process, how you avoid writer’s block, how you found your agent, publisher or how you self-publish, or just about your publishing journey. There’s more about choosing a topic in Write a Book and Ignite Your Business.

Write a book to leave a legacy. I personally decided to write this book because I wanted it as part of the legacy that I am leaving my children. I wanted to encourage them to share what they are doing with others as I have shared what I am doing by writing this book.

I wanted to help others make the most of their livelihoods. Life is short and it should all be about making money. Life shouldn’t be all work and no play. It should be about enjoying the life that you create for yourself, and I believe that writing a book is one way to help you do that.

Read a free sample of the book Write a Book and Ignite Your Business today on Amazon.

For more about my other books and writing, here’s my Amazon Author Page!


I didn’t start writing The Locket Saga with the first book. Soldiers Don’t Cry was the first book I started writing in The Locket Saga.

For the entire month of June, I am sharing my books in the first annual Cygnet Brown Book Club Month! All throughout the month, I will be featuring not one, but all of the books that I have written to date. Today the featured book club is: Soldiers Don’t Cry.

It Probably Started When I Ate Pizza Just Before Going to Bed

The idea for Soldiers Don’t Cry, The Locket Saga Continues started with a dream that I had one night. I dreamed that there was a young woman and a young man sitting on two ends of a puncheon log bench that was along a log cabin wall. The bench was about twelve feet long and she sat at one end of the bench and he sat at the other end. I KNEW that what I was seeing was a scene from before 1800.

He said, “Don’t I know you from somewhere.” And she said, “Yes, we knew each other as children.”

It was from this dream that I got the idea of a girl who had grown up in Western Pennsylvania before the American Revolution. I determined that however she grew up in Boston with her sister and the boy grew up in England and that something brought them back together. That something I determined was the American Revolutionary War and he came back as a British Officer. She was an American spy and smuggler. Getting them together in the same place was easy. Before the war, Boston and other parts of New England were to quarter soldiers in their homes. This infuriated patriots so much that they included “no quartering of soldiers during peacetime” as the third amendment to the Constitution. It did, however, set it up so that Phillip Randolph, the hero of the story was quartered in Elizabeth’s (the heroine) in the same home. Add to that and you have the makings of quite the twisted adventure story.

Even though it is the second book published, Soldiers Don’t Cry, the Locket Saga Continues was the first book that I started writing in the Locket Saga, but as I was writing it, I wondered what happened to the parents of Elizabeth and Rachel. This led me to write When God Turned His Head the first book which I wrote about earlier in the week. (See post)

The Original Manuscript Was Deleted!

One thing about this book that many people don’t know is that I had to write the book twice. Years ago, just after When God Turned His Head was published, I had the completed manuscript of Soldiers Don’t Cry, the Locket Saga Continues on my computer and the computer didn’t have enough memory left on it, so a friend suggested that we “wipe the data and clean out unwanted files”. He said we could save what we wanted to keep but anything that we didn’t put behind a wall would be erased forever. A agreed to let my husband and my friend wipe the files from the computer, but asked that he save all of the document files. He saved only a single file that had the Word document in it and all the books that I had on the computer were gone forever.

Rather than whining about my loss, (Okay, so I did whine a little, Okay, a lot. I am human, after all) I decided to recreate the book and I think that in a lot of ways I came up with a better book than the original. The book was rewritten in less than a year. I learned a valuable lesson. When something bad happens, don’t let it get you down, let it fire you up!

So how about you? Have you ever finished a project that you spent years on that you had to re-do because of a technical error? I would love to hear about it. Share your experience in the comment section below.

Did you know that you can read a free sample of Soldiers Don’t Cry right on Amazon? LOOK INSIDE

The Locket Saga Series

When God Turned His Head

Soldiers Don’t Cry, The Locket Saga Continues

A Coward’s Solace

Sailing Under the Black Flag

In the Shadow of the Mill Pond

The Anvil


For the entire month of June, I am sharing my books in the first annual Cygnet Brown Book Club Month! All throughout the month, I will be featuring not one, but all of the books that I have written to date. I am beginning the book club with my first published book: When God Turned His Head.

The First Book in the Locket Saga

The Story Behind the Book

When God Turned His Head is the first book of the Locket Saga, but it was not the first book of the series that I started writing. I started with the second book Soldiers Don’t Cry, The Locket Saga Continues and rather than making When God Turned His Head a prequel to Soldiers Don’t Cry, I made it the premiere book.

The idea for this book started when I was writing about when Rachel and Elizabeth are entertaining their uninvited guests when the question came up about their parentage and the girls told them that they had the same mother, but not the same father. They also said that their parents had been indentured servants.

That was when I wondered what happened to them. About that same time, I read the story about the murder of John Codman in the middle of the 1700s and thought the details would be fantastic to fashion into a historical murder mystery. Many of the facts were exactly how they happened. I just added Drusilla as his wife and Rachel as his daughter.

I wrote this book at a very difficult time in my life. I had been working as a nurse and hated it. Every day I had been afraid that I would kill someone by some mistake that I made. I won’t go into the details, but the fear of making a mistake and harming a patient caused me to sabotage my nursing career. Then I was afraid to tell my husband that I had lost my job. It didn’t do much for my marriage, I’ll tell you that.

After I lost my job, my husband also lost his because of something that was not his fault, but because he quit that trucking company, they reported him to DAK for an accident that was an equipment error that he had no way of knowing would happen. He had no recourse in the issue. He was shunned from truck-driving for the next three years.

Before losing our jobs, we had been doing everything right. We put sweat equity into the house we were building. In 2007, just before all this went down, we had fifty percent equity in our home. We had two vehicles. One was completely paid for. Regarding our other car, we had easily been making the payments. We had been paying extra on our mortgage and making extra payments on our credit cards. Life was good. However, in a short time, everything fell apart.

At about the same time, we lost our jobs, the housing bubble burst and the recession hit. The equity in our home disappeared overnight. We couldn’t make our payments because we didn’t have a job. A boy stole our truck that we had paid off and he wrecked it. The other car was repossessed while I was selling muffins in the town 9 miles from our house. I had to call my husband to get the neighbor to come pick me up.

Because my husband lost his job, he also couldn’t pay the child support that he owed to his ex-wife, and he ended up in jail for nonpayment.

If it weren’t for our pastor providing us with a car to drive and paying enough to get him out of jail, I don’t know what we would have done. He got a job driving a school bus for a local school which was enough to pay the child support, but not enough to save our house. He was talking about the possibility of having to live under a bridge.  

I was depressed. I was depressed enough to seek professional help, but I refused to take medications to mask what I was feeling. The psychologist who I was seeing suggested that I try journaling, and journaling led me to get back to writing which I had done since I was twelve years old. I wrote When God Turned His Head while all this was going on. Journaling and writing the book took me out of my state of depression.

While writing the book, we did lose our house, but we didn’t have to live under a bridge because my brother let us move into his house with him. During this time, I incorporated my emotional state into Drusilla’s situation. It was highly therapeutic.

Bad things happen to good people and sometimes it seems as though God does turn his head and the winters of life blow their snows of life, but eventually, the flowers of life do return. Like me and like Drusilla, you must push through the hard times, and eventually, you’ll pass through. As it says in Psalm 23:

“Yea, though I pass through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me.”

Psalm 23:4 KJV

Let me know in the comments below if you have already read the book, and any thoughts you have regarding it. I love hearing from my readers!

Did you know that you can read a free sample of When God Turned His Head right on Amazon? LOOK INSIDE


Two hundred and forty-seven years ago this week on April 19, 1775, was the shot heard around the world. No one knows who shot the musket that started the American Revolution, but that shot was discharged on Lexington Green, Massachusetts. It was just the first shot of many that lead to the birth of The United States in a war that would continue until its formal end in 1783.

Several years ago, I started researching for my books in The Locket Saga series and several of the books in this series including Soldiers Don’t’ Cry, A Coward’s Solace, and Sailing Under the Black Flag are all based during the American Revolution.

Here’s a blog post about The Locket Saga

Although the events in this book occurred prior to the American Revolution, I would be remiss if I failed to mention When God Turned His Head. I posted about the first book of this book series which started from an idea that I got the idea of Soldiers Don’t Cry even though When God Turned His Head was the first book in the series.

Over the past several years, I have done a lot of research and written several articles and blog posts about this time in American history. Here are a few.

The Boston Massacre-Powder Keg of the American Revolution

https://hubpages.com/education/The-Boston-Massacre-Powder-Keg-of-the-American-Revolution

The Unsung Hero: Lucy Flucker Knox

This is the story of the wife of Henry Knox. She is a patriot in her own right.

https://discover.hubpages.com/education/An-Unsung-Heroine-Lucy-Flucker-Knox

The Hidden Cause for the American Revolution: The Thirst for More Land

This article explains how the French and Indian War brought about limitations on land attainment and forced the British to limit forts on the American frontier.

https://hubpages.com/education/The-Thirst-for-Land-The-Unseen-Reason-for-the-American-Revolution

How Changes in English Farm Practices Influenced the Colonization of the Americas

See how the change in weather patterns brought changes in the British agricultural system and caused migration to the Americas.

https://hubpages.com/education/Changes-in-English-Agriculture-Brough-About-American-Colonialization

Songs of the American Revolution

Music has always been an important thread in the American fabric. So exactly what tunes did Americans sing during the American Revolution?

https://hubpages.com/education/Songs-of-the-American-Revolution

The French Intervention

How the French intervened to win the American Revolution-We Americans talk about our independent spirits, but we couldn’t have pulled off the revolution without our friends the French.

https://medium.com/lessons-from-history/the-french-intervention-cf6a5c8f0da

Even though I went to dusty old books for information, I loved it when I discovered actual members of the Eighth Pennsylvania when I was in Waterford, Pennsylvania. Here’s an article I wrote about the event where I meant the Eighth Pennsylvania regiment of the American Revolution.

When Historical Writer’s Research and Re-Enactors meet

I hope you enjoy these articles, and they help you appreciate the value of the freedoms that we have in this country that started with that shot on Lexington Green on April 19, 1775. If you have any questions about my articles and blog posts or if you have any comments, please do so in the comment section below.

Also, be sure to check out The Locket Saga series all books are available in paperback and on Kindle!


Many authors are now hybrids, using both traditional and indie forms of publishing for different projects. Whether you go with traditional publishing or indie publishing or a combination of the two, you have more options than ever when it comes to publishing your novel.

Traditional Publishing

Traditional publishing is the established system of getting a book deal. This system requires that the writer submit their manuscripts through their agent to publishers and receive numerous rejections and then if they are lucky, are eventually accepted and a contract is signed. The book will then go through more edits and is eventually be published.

Why Traditionally Publish?

Almost every author I ever met (including me!)  suffer from self-doubt and wonder if their work is any good. By making it through the process of getting an agent and then a publisher, the approval of these gatekeepers validates your work as good enough for publication. Even if the book doesn’t sell well, somebody thought it had value. If your definition of success requires a traditional deal, Indie publishing is not for you!

Print distribution in bookstores is easier. Traditional publishing excels at this and  their model is primarily designed to facilitate print distribution to bookstores and even libraries. Salespeople go around the stores and make it very easy for book buyers to choose books and the publisher minus any returns. Books are usually in the store for a month and only remain if they are perennial sellers. (Few books reach this perennial status.)

Authors expect traditional publishing to include editors, cover designers, formatters and marketing to help provide as part of the contract. Marketing effort is usually related to how much is invested in the project, and marketing for publishing companies is usually to booksellers rather than to individual consumers. You should receive a sales team to take books to bookstores. If you’re one of those authors who say you “only want to write,” and let the publisher handle the rest, traditional publishing would be your best option.

If you are asked for money, then it is NOT a traditional publishing deal. It’s likely to be a vanity publisher and you should be very careful. With traditional publishing, you have no upfront financial costs, and you’ll usually get some kind of advance against royalties. The typical advance for a first novel is $5000. The typical advance for later novels, after a typical number of 5-7 years and 5-7 books is $12,500. Having an agent at any point increases your advance. If you get an advance of $5,000, you then have to earn more than $5,000 out of your royalty rate on book sales before you get any more money.

Literary prizes and critical acclaim are more likely through traditional publishing, and many literary prizes aren’t even open to indie authors

You’re more likely to become a brand-name author if you go with traditional publishing.

The Downside of Traditional Publishing

Writing and editing will be the same regardless of how you want to publish. After that, you will need about a year or two to find your agent. After that, it might take you another year or two to get a publishing deal. Once you have a publishing deal it might take another two years or more to get your book launched. (If you self-publish, once your book is edited, your book will be up on Amazon within a few hours and you can get your first check 60 days later.)

Once you sign a contract with your publisher, you’ll loss of creative control. I have heard horror stories about authors whose books have titles, covers and marketing angles that aren’t to their liking. You may disagree with an editor, and not be able to do anything about those changes that you dislike.

You’ll find that you have low royalty rates. Royalty rates are a percentage of the sale of the book. They’re likely to be net, so all the discounts, returns, marketing costs and overheads are taken off the total before your percentage can calculated. Royalty rates for traditional publishing will usually range between 7% and 25%, with the latter on the unusually generous end. The rates will also differ per format (e-book, hardcover, paperback, audio). Royalty reports may come every six months for a specific period of sales and many authors say those reports are difficult to understand. What you get in your bank account may not agree with those reports, so you won’t know until you see the money in your account what you’re actually getting.  

More often than not, authors have to do their own marketing and agents will often seek out authors who have a ‘platform’ or at least an email list of readers. If you do want a traditional publishing deal, make sure you ask them what is included for marketing and that your book is not just a part of their bookstore catalog.

Potentially prohibitive contract clauses are also a problem. You might find an agent who is willing to represent you, but their contract might insist that they get a percentage of everything you write even if they didn’t negotiate the contract (including self-published work). If you come across that keep looking until you find an agency who really will help you build your brand and not just skim off the top of your earnings.

Don’t agree to ever allow the publisher to take World English rights in all formats.  Your agent’s job is to keep as many rights as possible when you’re doing a deal so you can exploit them in other ways. For example, you could just sell the US and Canada rights and then self-publish in the rest of the world. Be careful with formats as well, especially audio books. Many publishers take audio rights as part of a contract and then they don’t actually end up recording it. You don’t want that to happen. Either keep audio rights or specify a length of time the publisher can keep rights before they revert back to you.

Look at the term of the contract and the rights reversion clause. It used to be that there was an out of print clause. However, because of print on demand and e-books, a book never goes out of print. You have to consider when you want to get your rights back.

Once you sign a contract for your book, the book may legally belong to the publisher for the life of copyright which is the life of the author plus 70 years after you die. You should also look at the do not compete clause, because this may stop you publishing during the term of the contract under the same name, in the same world, or with the same characters.

You have to really consider whether the money for the contract is worth it. This is where many authors think, “Perhaps this will be the only contract I’ll ever be offered and might just lose out.” These authors will sign deals because they’re grateful to be offered anything. They don’t value their own work. They don’t realize that publishers are there to make a profit. They are not doing you a favor by publishing your book. They are businesses and they want to make money. What they are offering you is simply that an offer. You have to determine for yourself what you’re worth. Don’t under-value yourself. If they don’t offer you a better contract, take your manuscript to someone who will or go out on your own.  Your publishing choice is more a question of the outcome that you want to achieve and your definition of success. Don’t let the publisher think they have the upper hand. You have more control over the situation than you realize.

The difference Between a Self-publisher and an Indie Author

Some people like to differentiate between a self-publisher and an Indie Author. They believe that self-publishing implies that you do everything yourself and you do it as a hobby. On the other hand, they believe that being an indie author or Independent author is a person who has decided that he or she was in charge of the process and that the indie author is a freelance professional who creates a quality product for their business.

I personally don’t create a distinction between self-publishing and being an indie author. I see myself as a publisher who determines how my book is published. I determine who edits, who designs the cover, I determine my bio and my book description, I even determine how my book will be formatted. However, that doesn’t mean that I do all of the work myself.

I didn’t become an Indie author or self-publisher as a last resort because I couldn’t find a publisher either. I chose to be an Indie author because I like the control that I have over my own creative process and the end product.

Pros and Cons of Being an Indie Author

As I mentioned before, I personally am an Indie author because I have complete creative control over content and design of my book. Many authors who were in traditional publishing and are now in self-publishing talk about how painful it was to have a cover or title they hated, or to have editorial choices imposed on them whether they liked them or not. As an indie, you can work with freelancers of your choice and you can choose the ultimate look and feel of your product. If you don’t like a freelancer’s work, you can choose to go with someone else. If you title a book or get a cover design that you decide you don’t like, you can retitle or redesign the cover. Just upload another file. The start-up mentality that mistakes are how we learn. Failure is just a step along the way makes this easier for us indies. Print on demand and e-books make it so we don’t even have to have a warehouse of books lying around.

Being an Indie Author gives us a sense of power that traditionally published authors don’t have.  Many traditionally published authors feel insecure and downtrodden by the publishing process. They feel they can’t make a decision alone or take action to improve their situation. It doesn’t matter that they are the creative individuals who created the stories in the first place.

After signing a contract, traditionally published authors have no control over anything about their books from the creative process to how the book is marketed. Indies, on the other hand, have a locus of control making them happier and empowered. The Indie Author can learn new skills, work with other professionals, make mistakes and learn from those mistakes. You don’t have to ask for permission, you’re the one in charge.

As an Indie author you are able to get your book to market much more quickly.  Once the writing time and editing are finished, you are ready to publish your novel to Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Draft2Digital, Smashwords and any other stores. Your e-book is usually for sale within 4-72 hours. You’re paid 60 days after the end of the month of sale. If you’re doing print on demand, you can get that up within 24 hours if you approve the formatting online. Next you get a copy of it and look it over to be sure that the book is as perfect as you think it is and then you can order books to sell or give away to reviewers

Indie authors get higher royalties. If you price your book between $2.99 and $9.99 (on Amazon), you can get a 70% royalty. Traditional royalty rates usually fit in the 7-25% bracket, averaging 10%. It’s clear that you need to sell far fewer books in order to make the same amount of money with self-publishing. However, don’t think that you’ll get rich overnight.  You can’t guarantee that you’re going to make as many sales as you would’ve done with a traditional publisher, or indeed, any sales. That is more to do with genre, investment in marketing and sometimes pure luck. An author doesn’t build a business on luck. You have to learn about marketing. However, you have to learn that anyway no matter if you do it independently or if you’re working with a traditional publisher.

You can sell in any format, in any global market because you own the rights. You could even sell movie rights. Many traditionally published authors have sold World English rights for all formats and yet have barely sold outside the usual country markets because their books aren’t even available in most places in the world. Many have also sold audiobook rights. but the books have not been produced. If you’re in this situation, revisit your contract. What do you have the rights for? You can self-publish in countries where you haven’t sold the rights.

Indie authors can reach significant audiences with their niche books that traditional companies will never take. Publishing houses expect a certain number of sales so if you’re writing a niche book on a particular style of business, for example, then you might find the market is too small for a major publisher. However, the market size may well be enough for you to satisfy your own definition of success with smaller sales and lower income. You can also price as you like because your book will appeal to a very particular reader who might pay higher prices for this rare information.

You can use indie publishing to get you into publishing in general. If you self-publish and do well, agents and publishers will come to you. You don’t have to beg and plead for attention. The power balance is reversed, and as an empowered indie you’ll get much better deals than a first-time author with no book sales history.

Those the Positives, but What are the Negatives?

One problem is that you need to do it all yourself or find suitable professionals to help. As with any new skill, it’s a steep learning curve. You still obviously have to do the writing and marketing, but you also have to do the publishing. You have to find an editor (or two would be better! One for content and the other for proofreading) and a cover designer. Then you need to work with them, determine the title, get your work formatted into e-book, print and any other format you want. It does pay to find suitable professionals to help. If being in control is your definition of success and you need to run all aspects of the business isn’t something that you want to do, then going the indie route might not be your best route. You have to love all aspects of the writing business. You have to love everything from idea generation to creating words on the page, to the technical side of things and everything in between.

You’ll get no prestige, kudos or validation by the industry. Though the stigma lessens every day, success is still connected with traditional publishing. If it hurts your feelings to be considered inferior, then maybe you should not consider going indie.  

For professional results, you’ll need to pay for supporting services upfront. If you’re any kind of writer, you’ll need to spend some money on professional money anyway before submitting to an agent and spend money on writing books and courses.  So even if you intend to go with a traditional company, you will need a budget upfront.

It’s difficult for a self-published book to get print distribution in bookstores. It’s certainly not impossible and if you care about print distribution then take a look at Ingram Spark. However, you’re much more likely to get bookstore distribution with a traditional publisher, as that’s essentially their business model, has been, and probably will be for a long time. They are the experts for printing and distributing physical products. My personal choice is to use Print on Demand through Lulu.com so my print books are available on most online bookstores.

Most literary prizes don’t accept indie books and most literary critics for mainstream media won’t review them. If your definition of success is literary acclaim, the traditional route is your best option.


Now that your story is ready to put out there, if you are still planning to get your book into a traditional publishing company, the only way you are going to get your book in front of one is through your query letter.

What is the Difference Between a Query Letter and a Book Proposal?

A query letter is a request for a publisher to read your proposal for reading your fiction book and a book proposal is a proposal for reading your nonfiction book. A query letter is usually written after a fiction book is written and a book proposal is often written before the book is written.

The Novel Query

According to the NY Book Editors Website, This one page document of about three hundred words is most important, and in some ways even more important to than the actual book This letter is sent to literary agents (and some publishers directly) to woo them into checking out your book.

Don’t put your query on pastel paper with stamped roses, it won’t get you further than the trash can. Instead, follow this tried and trusted formula.

Format with your address at the top of the page, right justified. Next, type the agent’s address, this time left justified.

Use a personalized greeting where you acknowledge the agent by name.

Keep the body of your query letter from three to five paragraphs.

In paragraph one, you hook the literary agent. Share any connection you have with the agent. Did you meet this person at a conference or know someone in common? At least be able to mention that you’re a fan of specific authors that this person represents. The job of this first paragraph is to get the agent reading.

After you hook the agent, share the title and genre of your book and your book’s word count.

Now that you’ve hooked the agent, summarize your story in paragraph two. Discuss your main characters, what happens, and what choice they must make now. But don’t give away the entire plot. Leave the agent wanting more by structuring this paragraph in a cliffhanger.

In the next paragraph, add your bio, but make sure it’s relevant to writing. Impress your agent with writing awards and credibility or related writing experience. Limit your bio to no more than two sentences.

Use short paragraphs and short sentences, when possible. Imagine this: your letter is one of hundreds that your potential agent must read through this week. (It probably is). Make it as easy as possible for them to skim through your letter.

Write in a tone similar to your novel’s narrative. Your query letter should evoke the same tone as your novel. If your book is funny, make your query letter funny. Is it ornate? Use elegant but not remember not to be wordy.

Always Follow Submission Guidelines

Before sending any letter, be sure to follow any submission guidelines. Not every agent wants the same information, so don’t think one form of query fits all. Some may only accept email submissions while others accept both.

Address each agent specifically. Never use “to whom it may concern” if you want anyone to actually request your novel.

If possible, let the agent know why you are pitching your book to him/her. Again, if you love a specific author that this agent represents in a related genre yours, let the agent know that you would love to have the same agent as THAT author.  

Give Credit Where Credit is Due 

Mention that your book has been edited by a professional editor. Agents love a polished manuscript. They notice writers who’ve taken the extra step of getting their manuscript edited by a professional. By doing this, you as the writer appear more professional and serious. This will add more weight to your query letter.

Remember that querying agents is a hit or miss proposition even when you have done your homework on the agent. To find the right agent at the right time, you often need to send out numerous query letters. If you follow these recommendations, you still may not be picked up by a specific agent. There are many reasons why an agent doesn’t pick you up and it probably doesn’t have anything to do with you personally so don’t take it personally. Just keep sending out either written or emailed queries and soon someone will ask to see your novel.


One of the biggest roadblocks new writers face, especially if they are writing about something personal and important to them, is the fear of writing their own book biography or bio. Putting yourself on paper, and exposing your story to the world, can certainly be intimidating because it takes a lot of courage to bring your experiences and narrative to a broad audience.

Don’t worry. Every writer goes through this, and you can too! Just keep the following in mind when these apprehensions arise, so you can continue to move forward, and add your own unique voice to the literary world.

It’s Your Story

When your story is in print, it will linger well after you have sent your final draft to your partner publisher. Your story is something you can share with friends, family members, loved ones, and the world as a whole), and is a piece of you that will truly last a lifetime. So lay your fears to rest, and leave your mark on this world, by getting your words in print so they can resonate for years to come!

It’s Therapeutic

Many people don’t know this, but just before I determined that I was going to focus on writing my novels, I was going through severe depression. Over the course of a year I lost my job. My Husband lost his job. We lost our car, and we lost our home. I went to two psychologists who suggested that I journal my anxieties.

For me, writing isn’t just a relaxing activity. It was a healing exercise that brought me peace. Writing helped me work through my own issues and allowed me to explore the ideas that I had for writing my novels and nonfiction stories.

By writing down my experiences and thoughts and putting into words any coinciding emotions that popped into my mind, I was able to solidify those thoughts into print both into fiction and into nonfiction.

The Power to Connect with Others

Once I had my first book done, I realized that I had to create a bio for that book. Because I had to deal with depression and anxiety, I was hesitant of putting who I thought that I really was out there to my readers. I had what I realize now is what is called “the imposter syndrome.”

What I hadn’t realized was that countless people have had similar experiences to my own. They don’t see themselves as worthy of calling themselves an author. This is especially true with authors who are writing their first novels. What do you write? How do you write anything that will impress the readers? Who cares if you have three kids, a cat and two dogs? Who cares which part of the country you reside? Who cares that you graduated from a now defunct college?

Who cares? Well, if your potential reader has children, pets, or lives in your part of the country, that reader might just identify with you. If the same person identifies because he or she went to the same college, this person might also identify with you because they see you as human.   

Remember that you have the ability to bring comfort, camaraderie, and joy to a large audience. Your audience identifies with you. If your audience has any inkling of wanting to purchase your book, your bio just might be what convinces they should read this book.

What Should Be Included in Your Bio?

Be prepared to write three different versions of your bio. Write about yourself in the third person. Write a lengthy bio for your website, proposals, interview sheets and media kits. Write a medium length bio for your queries (more about this in next week’s blog post!), guest spots on other websites and shorter marketing material. Finally write a short bio to include in your signature line and limited character social media sites.

The easiest place to begin writing your bio is with a draft of your longest bio. Start with your longest writing accomplishments. Write down everything you can think of that you have ever written especially if this is your first book. Include that poem that you wrote for the third grade and the writing prize you won as a young author in middle school. Include the inspiration of how and why you started writing fiction. If you have written previous books and you are including them in your bio, be sure to put the titles in italics rather than in quotes. If you get any writing awards (or awards related to your subject matter), be sure to include them as well. Put your demographics at the end of your bio after you’ve established yourself as a writer. If you have a degree, be sure to include your level of education. With each subsequent book or editions, be sure to update your bio to include that information.

How Should You Write Your Bio?

Before editing your long bio, be sure to look over the bios of other authors and emulate the ones you like. In addition, in writing your shorter bios, look at those written by others for creative ideas especially in your genre of ways they write their bios.

When you have finished your bio, read it out loud and if possible, have another author in your genre read over your bio to look for ways you can improve your bio.

Now we are ready for the next part step in the marketing process if you’re writing to an agent or publisher. We’ll cover that next week.

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