Publishing Short Stories • Your Guide to Making Money

Short stories are fun to write, but can you make money from publishing them? The quick answer is: maybe. But it’s almost certainly harder than you think, and the path to success with short stories can be circuitous.

Let’s begin by looking at the enduring popularity of short stories, including how a surprising number of much-loved movies were adapted from shorter work – but also contrast that with how difficult it is to get them published… unless you decide to do it yourself.

Another needed dose of realism for authors of short stories: the opportunities brought by ebooks and self-publishing haven’t led to the short story renaissance many hoped – except in certain niches. Nevertheless, some intrepid writers are using shorter work in new and clever ways to get attention, grow their readership, and make some money while they are at it. Read More…

Editing A Book • The 5 Stages

Editing a book is a complex, multi-part process that is best handled by experienced professionals, even if you are self-publishing, and even if you diligently spend a lot of time self-editing.

There are five main stages to editing a book to the proper standard, although some stages can be combined, repeated, expanded upon, or even skipped, depending on your individual needs (which is a polite way of saying: depending on how much of a dog’s dinner you made of things).

As a regular maker of dog’s dinners myself, I have become intimately acquainted with all five stages and can break down how to edit a book properly, as well as giving you various options depending on your individual needs or budget, and point you to some more resources too.

The five main stages of editing are beta readers, self-editing, story editing (which you may know as developmental or content editing), copy editing, and, finally, proofing. It’s important to note there certainly isn’t one correct way to edit; you will need to develop your own process. You will find advice on that below as well, along with help on finding an editor. Read More…

Self-Editing Explained

Self-editing is the process an author goes through before they send their work to a professional editor; it is not a replacement for editing by a qualified, experienced, professional editor. There is only so much work an editor can do to improve your manuscript in the allotted time, and self-editing enables authors to remove the more obvious errors so that a professional editor can really go to work on deeper issues.

If you want your work to really shine, you must make it as good as you possible can before you hand it over to a professional editor.

And it’s a professional editor’s perspective that I think you will find most useful on this topic, so I have invited along Karin Cox to run through some of the ways that authors can self-edit their work and get it in better shape before they send it off to be copy edited. Read More…

Going Viral: A User’s Guide

What truly makes something go viral? It’s hard to say.

Sure, afterwards, we can all point to something — with the crystal clear vision bestowed by hindsight — and list off elements which contributed to the explosion: it had a cute dog bouncing on a trampoline or just the right amount of indignation, it was funny and there was a well chosen emoji, it was topical or it tapped into some lingering but unspoken resentment about a hot button issue… that list could go on forever.

Trying to assemble a Franken-thing that ticks all those boxes will quickly show you that this retrospective diagnosis is missing something — the X-factor that makes one thing go viral and another thing, which was very like it (or even “superior” in many ways), do the exact opposite. Read More…

Writers Fund Legal Case vs. Author Rebecca Hamilton

Christina Garner needs our help. She has been fighting a court case over the last year and is running an appeal for donations so that she can continue the fight.

If you haven’t been following this case, it is against a notorious author/box set promoter/marketer/”mastermind” teacher who goes by the name of Rebecca Hamilton – and also runs other author businesses like OTOH Books (formerly GenreCrave).

The name of Rebecca Hamilton may be familiar to you – and if it’s not, ask around. Because of the various suits and countersuits also involve claims of defamation, I can’t go into detail on what happened, but you can read Christina Garner’s eye-opening account on her GoFundMe page. Read More…

NaNoWriMo Writing Prompts – Bad Boy Romance Edition

Lots of people will be diving into NaNoWriMo in a few days, and lots more are sitting on the fence. I’ve been on that fence, it’s made of excuses! Today, I’m going to do you a solid by taking one of those excuses away. You’re getting some Writing Prompts. And not just any Writing Prompts, but Bad Boy Romance Prompts. (Please note that no actual romance writers were harmed in the making of these prompts.) Prompt #1: You are foreign. Maybe Australian! Your scammy non-fiction books aren’t selling too well, but you spot the latest trend: bad boy romance, and decided to write under a woman’s name – no, screw that, several women’s names! You eagerly stuff several books into Read More…

CD Reiss: Nobody Was Going To Get Me To Quit

Before December, 2013, I made a living as a sweater technician. I know how sweaters are made, how to fix them, and how to make flat panels fit around a three dimensional person. I made decent money, didn”t hate my job that much, and did my very best to be the best technical designer I could be.

But every morning I got up at 5am, sat in a coffee shop and wrote until I had to go to work (this routine changed over the course of 20 years, but that was what I did between 2004 when my son was born and 2013 when I quit). I wrote screenplays and books. Most will never be published or produced because they suck or they”re irrelevant now. I couldn”t get an agent. I couldn”t get a meeting. I couldn”t get a publisher to send a rejection in an SASE. I couldn”t get anyone to read even a few chapters.

But still, I plowed on. I tried to quit, but I’m stubborn like that. Read More…

How Jessica Mitford Took Down A $48m Author Scam

Jessica Mitford took on the American funeral industry, the California Department of Corrections, and the Ku Klux Klan, but it was her 1970 exposé of The Famous Writers School which led to Time calling her “The Queen of the Muckrakers.” And if a courageous editor hadn’t reversed his decision to kill her story, it might never have happened.

Mitford had been aware of The Famous Writers School’s existence for some time. Anyone who was a frequent reader of newspapers, books or magazines would have seen its ever-present advertisements, inviting aspiring writers to cut out and apply for the free aptitude test. While Mitford was suspicious, she didn’t have anything concrete until her lawyer husband took on a new client.

Bob Treuhaft was approached by a 72-year old widow, living on Social Security, who had cleaned out her bank account to make a down-payment to The Famous Writers School. On the same day Mitford heard the widow’s sorry tale from her husband, she received a book in the mail for review: Writing Rackets by Robert Byrne, which also mentioned the school. Read More…

A Writer’s Guide To Hustlers, Harlots and Heroes

One of the most popular posts here a few years back was from author Krista D. Ball who had just released What Kings Ate and Wizards Drank. It was a brilliant book – a writers’ guide, a cookbook, and a history of food all rolled into one. Anyone who read it will be delighted to hear that Krista is back with a follow-up.

Hustlers, Harlots, and Heroes: A Regency and Steampunk Field Guide. It’s another treasure trove of useful information and fascinating stories (for readers and writers alike).

Chapters like Whores, Wenches, and Women as well as Cleanliness Leads To Drunkness prove that this is no airbrushed guide to Victorian and Georgian London. While you get the view from high society, you will also rub shoulders with guttersnipes, prostitutes, and mudlarks. Read More…

Hitler’s Mein Kampf Was Not A Digital Bestseller

Mein Kampf becoming a bestseller out of nowhere is the kind of thing that any reasonable person might have concerns about. It’s also the kind of headline which makes savvy sub-editors salivate over viral potential. And so it proved in 2014 when this story first went around the world. There was just one problem: it wasn’t true. Hitler’s pre-war memoir Mein Kampf was declared a digital bestseller, leading to a global bout of media hand-wringing and pontificating. One excitable commentator even suggested it was a sign the second Holocaust was imminent. Hitler’s “bestselling” performance was first reported by Chris Faraone at Vocativ in January 2014 under the headline Kindle Fuhrer: Mein Kampf Tops Amazon Charts. Then it spread like wildfire. Read More…

Ted Oswald Signs With Amazon Publishing, Haiti NGOs To Benefit

Some of you have seen David’s prior posts about my book and its background: Because We Are: A Novel of Haiti is a murder mystery set in the slums of Port-au-Prince with two remarkable children in the lead. It also happens to be a “nonprofit novel,” so that all net proceeds are donated to advocacy and development organizations in Haiti.

I crowdfunded the book on Indiegogo, and did a few KDP Select giveaways to modest results. David found Because We Are during one of those promotions, and he’s proved a huge help both directly (through giving advice about putting together a “Big Push”) and indirectly (through my poring over Let’s Get Visible).

I set everything in motion for the Big Push, a promotion that would try to jump start sales across retailers. I let the book slide out of KDP Select and distributed it to B&N, Kobo, and Apple via Draft2Digital; I pushed the price up to $3.99, readying 99c promotions through BookBub, Book Blast, and Ereader News Today; I prepped tweets and posts via Hootsuite during the promotion period; David featured the book on his blog. Everything was set. Read More…

The 20-Year Overnight Success

You might assume that Michael Wallace has led a charmed existence as an author: his first book hit the Top 100 right from launch, and the hits just kept coming, especially when Amazon Publishing picked him up and gave him a real push; he has now sold over a million ebooks and seemed to do it without breaking a sweat.

But like many “overnight” author successes, Michael Wallace’s story is one of hard work, persistence, and making the most of an opportunity when one finally came his way.

Michael Wallace took the time over several days in September 2013 to answer my questions about writing, marketing, and the book business, and the dialogue is presented in full below and is still hugely relevant to being an author in 2021.

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Giving It All Away • Interview with Ted Oswald

Back in April, I stumbled across a wonderful novel called Because We Are: A Novel of Haiti by Ted Oswald. I think I was only half-way through when I started hunting him down on the internet to tell him how much I liked it. I don’t usually chase people across cyberspace to give them a review, but this was a remarkable book. I also knew that once you guys heard the backstory you would want to know more. After a little cajoling, Ted agreed to be interviewed… David Gaughran: For those who haven’t had the pleasure of reading Because We Are, perhaps you could kick off by telling us a little about the story and how you came to write it. Read More…

From Pizza Hut To Easy Street: The David Dalglish Story

Fantasy author David Dalglish is a big name in the self-publishing world, but now he’s on the cusp of something even bigger. His path wasn’t easy. When David uploaded his first book, way back in February 2010, he was working in Pizza Hut. The popularity of his books, and the speed with which he was able to publish them, meant that it didn’t take long before he was able to quit that job and write full-time. David’s stellar sales (over 350,000 books to date) led to big offers from major publishers. But he wasn’t able to accept any of them – until recently. David is here today to tell us more. Trust me when I say this is quite the story: David Read More…

How To Query Amazon

This wasn’t supposed to happen to George Berger, especially when he was this close to throwing in the towel.

You see, George made a vow after two years of tepid sales – a rather public one – that he would give it one more shot, and, if his latest story was also universally ignored, he would hang up his quill, for good.

His next release wasn’t overflowing with obvious commercial potential. It was, after all, a coming-of-age story about a goat. On top of that, it was a defiantly literary story – and fans of same have been relatively slow to switch to digital. And, being a 12,000 word novella, only an e-book edition was planned.

Undeterred, and with his vow to quit fresh in his mind, George decided to make a real go of his final attempt. He commissioned a talented artist to draw a striking cover. He workshopped the blurb with several other writers until it really sang. And then George sprang Midnight’s Tale upon an unsuspected world. Read More…