Building Strong Stories is Like Putting a Jigsaw Puzzle Together

Nothing is more frustrating to a reader than to begin a story, investing emotionally, getting attached and, part way through, realizing the writer is not taking you anywhere; you are lost with no resolution, let alone any satisfying denouement, on the horizon. The TV series, Lost, is a recent case in point (how appropriately named).  How does this happen?

I’ve spoken to a number of writers over time and one thing always amazes me - how differently writers approach the writing process.  On one side of the spectrum, some tell me they methodically plot out their narratives.  On the other side, others tell me they sit down and just start writing - they say their characters come to life and guide them as to where to go (these folks usually report they are satisfied with their story after 20 or so rewrites). I’m one who likes the middle ground, although I tend toward the later folks, wanting to know where I am heading, if not my destination, before I begin the trip. I follow the design, craft, then write process.

L. R. W. Lee
When you shop for a jigsaw puzzle, how do you choose which one you buy?  The picture on the box.  Put another way, the destination. You bring your jigsaw puzzle home and what do you do? You look on the box to see how big it will be when assembled. Then you locate a table large enough that will not be needed for something else while you construct the puzzle. You locate a pair of scissors and finally open the box. What have you done?  You’ve designed the environment in which you will construct your puzzle.

Now that the puzzle box is open, what’s the first thing you do?  You begin sorting similar pieces in piles.  You put similar colored or textured pieces together in their own piles and put edge pieces in another pile. You have crafted how your puzzle will take shape.  Only now do you begin constructing the puzzle.

Writing is no different.  The design and crafting phases help organize your thoughts so you more easily reach your desired destination with fewer rewrites.

Design your story beginning with a few questions:
  • What am I trying to accomplish from writing this? Am I trying to convince someone to do something?  Am I trying to explain something?  Am I trying to discourage some outcome?
  • What events, thoughts, feelings could contribute to accomplishing this objective? 
  • What kinds of characters will I need to invent to accomplish my goal? (hero, villain, sympathetic, miserly, etc)
  • What background do my readers need to know about the situation and characters?  How can I weave this back story through character and situation introductions?
  • How can I introduce questions in my reader’s mind that keep them engaged and turning pages to know more?
  • How do I want my reader to feel during each phase of the narrative?

Once you have a firm grasp of the design of your story, begin crafting your narrative with these questions:
  • Who does what? When? Why? How? Where? Demand that your answers work with the physics of the world you are creating.
  • At what point, in story-time, will the narrative begin? End?
  • How can I best show, and not tell, what is happening?
  • Which of the five senses will I appeal to as I introduce characters and situations?
  • What tools will be introduced and when? If your character needs a sword in a middle chapter, where/when is the sword introduced before he needs it?
  • What themes will you trace throughout the story to build suspense and a coherent narrative?  Is it a character doing something? Is it a mystery waiting to be revealed? Is it an object mysteriously showing up periodically? 
Notice, you have not yet committed words to paper.  The design and crafting phases are primarily exercises that help you organize your thoughts. I believe they are the hardest parts of inventing any story.  This is where your skill at inventing characters, places and conflicts shines.  While difficult, I believe these are the two most critical elements to writing great stories. Only after completing your design and crafting should you begin writing.

With your narrative thought through, your characters are now free to emerge and realize their potential. I am always amazed at how my characters respond to the freedom that designing and crafting produce.  They go where I hadn’t imagined, have more attitude than I’d expected, and become bigger personalities, while arriving at the desired destination with a minimum of rewrites.

L. R. W. Lee is the author of Andy Smithson: Blast of the Dragon’s Fury, a middle grade fantasy adventure that entertains while also teaching uncommon life principles designed to make your life more satisfying.  You can connect with her at

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Practical Advice for Beginning Fiction Writers

I’m not a grizzled veteran of fiction writing. POISON PILL is my first work of fiction, and I began writing it in November 2010. I cannot offer decades of experience, but I’m still close enough to the beginner’s stage to remember my mistakes (and repeat them – so please consider this a “best practices” compendium as opposed to an honest representation of my writing process).
Write every day. In my experience, writing is surprisingly similar to playing an instrument. It’s the mastery of the unsexy, plodding nuts and bolts of the craft that will allow you to produce beautiful, ethereal art. Growing up, I studied to be a classical pianist. It wasn’t a hobby — it was a three to four hour a day commitment. A break from playing, even for a couple of weeks, produced a noticeable drop in my technical ability. I’m now seeing the same thing with writing — step away from writing fiction for a month, and the prose doesn’t flow as well. The characters sulk and don’t talk to me. Writing feels like hard work. On the other hand, writing becomes much less effortful if I do it every day (even after just a couple of weeks). I see my characters moving and doing things, and I just hurry and report on their activities.
Learn from the greats. In my day job as a lawyer, I write a lot. But I also don’t reinvent the wheel. If I need to write a brief, I find a good brief that discusses the same issues of law and crib liberally. That’s OK – that’s considered good form in lawyering, and it saves the client lots of money. In the process of rewriting the briefs that came before mine, I see the construction of the argument, I ponder why they chose to order the issues in the way that they did, I notice the phrasing that gives a point its persuasive punch. I learn.
I don’t suggest you crib from a writer you admire for your fiction — that wouldn’t be OK — that would be plagiarism, copyright violation, and just plain bad juju. But I do suggest that you read the books you love in a forensic manner. Why is a particular paragraph so effective? How are characters introduced? How much space is devoted to the description of the setting vs. the action or the dialogue? Try reading aloud and/or copying the text either longhand or by typing it – I promise you’ll see patterns that you didn’t see by simply reading with your eyes.
Write what you’re passionate about, not necessarily what you know. Write about the stuff that doesn’t let you sleep at night. The writing process is arduous enough and can seem low-reward enough that if you’re not interested in your subject, you won’t go the distance. You can always do research and find answers, but you cannot manufacture passion that isn’t there.
Write as if no one will ever read it. In order to write great fiction, you have to write the story you’re living with honestly. It may have embarrassing parts like the shmexy stuff, or the curse words, or describing your mother-in-law’s loud belching. It may require that you revisit a painful episode from your own life, like a rape that you’ve told no one about. Unless you’re a sociopathic narcissist, the thought of someone reading what you wrote with this kind of candor is paralyzing. So pretend that you’ll erase the novel as soon as you’re done writing it. Can you delve into that difficult scene now?
Write first, edit later. POISON PILL was started as a National Novel Writing Month novel ( I made a commitment to write a 50,000-word first draft during the month of November. That works out to 1667 words a day (including Thanksgiving). At this pace, you don’t have time to write a sentence, ponder its ugliness, erase it, write a different sentence, erase it too… You write garbage and it stays and it adds to the word count. Quantity is the name of the game. This insanely compressed deadline is brilliant at silencing your inner editor, and suddenly you are free to write. You can’t edit what you haven’t written, so don’t worry about the niceties now — just get that first draft out of your head and onto paper. Or into a computer file.
And finally…
THE FIRST DRAFT OF ANYTHING IS SHIT. That’s not me. That’s Ernest Hemingway. A copy of this quote is framed, and has been standing on my desk since the first day I sat down to write POISON PILL. I draw strength from it daily.

M. A. Granovsky uses her background as a cancer biologist and lawyer, and her international travels, to craft fast-paced, intricately plotted capers, where the protagonists rely on their wits rather than their brawn, and the body count rises only as much as is necessary. M. A.'s writing is influenced by her life-long passion for observing and understanding human behavior, and provides a window into the worlds of scientists, attorneys, and financiers, the passions and fears that motivate them, and the unintended consequences of untempered competition.

She currently lives in New York City, but has lived in many other places, from the exotic (Wilmington, Delaware), to the normal (St. Petersburg, Jerusalem), to the entertaining (Florence -- in a convent). While it's difficult to be the new kid on the block repeatedly, this nomadic existence - in terms of geography and career - continues to yield a rich vein of thriller plots.
Buy Now @ Amazon

More details about the author & the book
Connect with Maria Granovsky on Twitter & GoodReads
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One Year Lived Give-Away

Today I'm reviewing One Year Lived by Adam Shepard and have an awesome give-away for you all. You can win a free e-copy of this book just for helping to spread the word. That's right all you need to do is share about this give-away on your own site (with a link back to this post) and post the link to your post in the comments section below along with your email address and I'll send you your free book. Simple!

About the book & author:

One Year Lived is available at,, and the website 

Adam Shepard has been featured on NPR, CNN, Fox News, Today, and 20/20 and profiled in the New York Times, New York Post, Christian Science Monitor, and Atlantic Monthly. He currently spends his time empowering audiences to take initiative. His keynote speech What Will You Do Next? details strategies for capitalizing on both triumph and misfortune.

My review:

One Year lived is an inspiring book about Adam's own personal journey visiting various countries over the course of a year. I really admire him for doing this and felt an immediate connection (I had done a similar thing back in 2001 when I left the UK to travel through Europe. I got as far as Rome in Italy and ended up staying but the intention had been to visit as many places as possible). Anyway this book starts with a list. A bit like a bucket list of things to do before you die but with the emphasis on living. What things would you like to do? Where would you like to visit?

The book then takes you through personal accounts of his trips to Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, New Zealand, Australia, the Philippines and Europe. His casual style takes you there with him and you really feel like you get to know him and the places he visits.

An excellent read for all but especially for those of you that have ever written a list of your own or thought about exploring different countries. Warning though, this book might just be the push you need to make it reality!

Now go and share about this post and drop your link, along with your email, in the comments section below to get your free copy of this book. 

This give-away is valid only for those who leave a comment on 27th and 28th April.


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Virtual Book Signings

Whilst it's always nice to get out there and do in person events, where you get to connect with your readers face to face, it isn't always easy. You need a location, copies of your book and a whole host of other stuff that can take time, effort and money to organise. For those writers that prefer to be writing away in the comfort of their own homes as opposed to under the spotlight doing public appearances the idea of doing an in person book signing can be more than daunting.

What if I told you that you can do a book signing without leaving your home, without being face to face with people, and completely free? 

Well you can and it's super easy too! The guys and girls at Author Graph have created an awesome tool that is perfect for virtual book signings. 

Once you open a free account with them and upload your book information people can start using the site to request a digital autograph from you.

To make more of it, turn it into an actual event and advertise it via your social media accounts, website, and blog as a virtual book signing.

Readers can then request a digital autograph via the site just by clicking on the "request autograph" button 

Example from my own author page
They can even send you a message so you can personalise your autograph just for them.

Make it personal and unique for each reader
If you're not camera shy you can take it to the next level and film the book signing. A fun way to do this is via a Google+ hangout. You can invite readers to join you for a quick meet the author session and then record your computer screen as you sign a copy of your book for each of them. About as close as a virtual book signing can get to being like an in person book signing.

Have you done a virtual book signing yet?


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A Round Up of London Book Fair 2013

The London Book Fair took place 15-17 April 2013 at Earls Court in London, UK. I really wish I could have been there myself but sadly it didn't happen this year. I did follow it virtually though and there was some great information and advice shared. From what I saw it was also quite the social setting with loads of networking taking place.

You can find out more about the event at  the website but I thought it would be nice to give an overview of what happened at this years event.

Photo's from London Book Fair 2013:

Some tweets from this years event:
In this video Joanna Penn chats with Amazon's Thom Kephart, Kobo's Mark Lefebvre, BookBaby's Brian Felsen, Smashwords' Mark Coker and Gareth Howard from Authoright PR at the London Book Fair

Some blog posts about the event that you might want to check out:

The London Book Fair 2013 – An Aspiring Author’s Guide: The Brilliant Authors’ Lounge and the Terrifying LitFactor Pitch

For a look at what happened in the Author Lounge check out

Did you attend this years event? What was the highlight for you? Got any tips for others wanted to attend this event? Anyone thinking about going to next years event?


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Interview with Joseph M Rinaldo

When did you know you wanted to be a writer? While reading Three Weeks with My Brother by Nicholas Sparks, I learned he received a million-dollar advance. I thought, "He's good, but I can do this." That was in 2004, and I've been writing ever since. The confidence to do this came from my English teacher in my freshman year of high school. For the short story we had to write, she told the class that I was one of five people who wrote so well she could help them with their stories. She was a tough teacher and never dispensed any compliments unless they were true. At that moment I knew I could write, but never thought much about it again until 2004.

What genre do you write and why? I am proud to say that my books do NOT fall into a genre! When you read one of my books, I refuse to guarantee a happy ending like you know is coming in a Romance novel. The conclusion might be to your expectation or not; however, I hope it's unexpected.

Tell us about your latest book. A Mormon Massacre - A Mormon militia slaughtered a wagon train of 150 Arkansas emigrants in Utah Territory in 1857. This ranked as the largest mass killing of Americans by Americans until the Oklahoma City bombing, excluding the Civil War. When the bodies were accidentally uncovered in 1999, Mike Leavitt, the Governor of Utah and allegedly a direct descendant of an 1857 militiaman/murderer, ordered them re-buried. Jeremiah, in present-day Nashville, decides to go undercover and see what else the Mormons are hiding.

What marketing methods are you using to promote your book? We try everything we can think of, and we perpetually try new approaches. We've paid for advertising and hired a marketing firm - both expensive and a complete waste of money. We hit Facebook hard and consistently, but I'm convinced that people who use Facebook never read anything longer than two sentences. FB is only helpful in that it might help you find outlets and contacts for promoting your book, but you won't sell more than two or three copies advertising on Facebook alone.

What formats is the book available in? The novel is available in Word, html, epub, mobi, and pdf formats as an ebook and in paperback format.

What do you like to do when you're not writing? As a family, we enjoy boating. During the summer, we spend a lot of time sitting in the boat on a lake doing a whole lot of nothing. I also like to jog, and my wife will join me once in a great while.

Who are your favorite authors? I read all kinds of things. For a brief two-book period, I was reading about people who live aboard boats. I like boats, but that seems kind of odd even for me. Specifically, Without Remorseby Tom Clancy was pretty good. I read that so long ago. Recently I devoured all three of the Hunger Gamesnovels. Gillian Flynn's Sharp Objects and Gone Girl were outstanding. Naming a single favorite is like naming the one ice cream cone that was best. Who knows? You just keep going back for more.

What advice do you have for other writers? The road to getting a book on the market is a long one. You better have thick skin, or you're going to get crushed. Also, you have to find someone who is willing to tell you the truth about your writing. Sounds easy; I promise you it is NOT. People generally do not want to hurt someone else's feelings, or worse, they know you'll get mad or defensive, so they won't bother pointing out any negatives. The right person is tough to find.

What's your favorite quote about writing/for writers? I don't really have a quote that I use for inspiration or that motivated me to become an author. For me being a writer is about the story. Jeremiah's journey from lackluster college student to going undercover in the Mormon Church came into my head, and that's what motivated me. I guess what I'm trying to say is that writing is about bringing to life all the voices in your head.

What's the best thing about being a writer? The thrill of having a set of facts mold themselves into a story. After learning that the slaughter of 150 people at Mountain Meadows stood as the largest killing of Americans by Americans outside of the Civil War until the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, I wondered how someone alive today who lost an ancestor at Mountain Meadows might feel about Mormons. That thought kept rolling around in my head until it gelled in A Mormon Massacre.

Where can people find out more about you and your writing? All three of my published books - A Spy At HomeHazardous Choices, and A Mormon Massacre - are for sale only on Amazon, each in both ebook and paperback formats. My Amazon author page can be found at I also have my own website:

Anything else you'd like to add? A Mormon Massacre will feed your curiosity about religion and specifically Mormons. One part of the book that I would like to note here as fact: In 1999 Utah Governor Mike Leavitt did order the bones accidentally dug up with a backhoe at Mountain Meadows reburied. He is allegedly a direct descendant of one of the killers at Mountain Meadows in 1857. If your family records are anything like mine, you might doubt that someone would know that. However, for Mormons, family lineage is of vital importance to their sense of self-worth and they keep detailed records. This is something a Mormon would know.


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Social Media Demographics

With so many social media options available it can all feel a bit overwhelming. How do you know which are the best sites to use for your marketing efforts? 

The Pew Research Center has released the results of a comprehensive social media survey, conducted over several years to evaluate which demographics were using social media, and on which platforms. 
Of the online adults surveyed at the end of 2012:
  • 67% use Facebook
  • 20% use LinkedIn
  • 16% use Twitter
  • 15% use Pinterest
  • 13% use Instagram
  • 6% use Tumblr
A huge 71% of women use social media (9% more than men) and the age group that dominates across most sites is young adult (18-29 year olds). The age range 30-49 year olds did show an increase though, going from 73% to 77%.

Source:  DocStoc Premium 

Each social media site attracts a slightly different type of user. 
"You may be able to better target your specific markets by keeping the demographic tendencies of each platform in mind:
  • Pinterest: Significantly more rural residents, women, Caucasians, people with some level of college education and individuals with a middle to higher income
  • Twitter: Significantly more slanted towards the 18-29 demographic, African-Americans and urban residents
  • Instagram: Greater use amongst African-Americans and Hispanics, urban users, 18-29 year olds, and women
  • Facebook: There’s less demographic distinction on Facebook, since it’s already so ubiquitous. However, there are 10% more women than men, and like most networking sites, it is heavily used by the youngest adult age group."

    Are you using the right sites for reaching your target audience?

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Ten Successful Tips For Independent Authors

With as much humility as I can muster, I think it is safe to say that I have written a successful novel. Collapse is closing in on 6K paid downloads and has 221 reviews, 172 of which are 4 and 5 stars.  My point is not to brag, but to give you the qualifications to write this post.  I would like to impart to you what I think are some tips to success.
1.  Recognize the limits of your genre.  Take a peek at this article.  What genre does your work fall under?  The most successful fiction genre is Mystery, Thriller, and Crime.  I must say that surprises me, I would have picked Romance as the top genre.  If your genre is towards the bottom of the list, it is unrealistic to expect great financial or critical success.  My advice, approach your writing with realistic goals in mind based on these figures.
2.  Hire an editor.  Let’s be perfectly clear, your spouse is not an editor, your best friend is not an editor, your friends and family are not editors unless they edit professionally and have professional experience.  They can still serve a vital function as proofreaders, which we will discuss in the next point. It doesn’t matter if you made straight As in English or even have an English degree.  Professional editing has lots and lots of rules and you need someone who knows those rules backwards and forwards.  Let’s take a little test to prove this point.  Take the number 1309.  How do you put that on the page?  Do you type the digits or the words?  How do you type the words?  One thousand three hundred nine or one thousand three hundred and nine?  Another example:  You reference a TV show and a particular episode like Star Trek: The Next Generation with the episode The Inner Light.  How do you put that on the page?  Is the TV show italicized or underlined?  Is the episode also italicized or is it in quotation marks?  Is your head spinning yet?  Here’s one more:  president.  When do you capitalize it?  “President of the United States” or “president of the United States?”  “Someone needs to contact the president” or “Someone needs to contact the President?”  I could list many, many more examples.  Afraid of the semicolon?  I am.  I still have trouble trying to figure out when to use it.  How confident are you that you know all of these rules?  Hire an editor.  Mistakes on the page yank the reader out of the story when they notice them.  My editor is Susan Hughes, visit her website and consider hiring her.
3.  Use proofreaders.  You need as many sets of eyes to read your work prior to release and proofreaders can help you to clarify confusing elements of the storyline or even point out factual errors in your work.  In my latest work, one of the chapters deals with a naval encounter.  I was never in the Navy, my knowledge of naval officer dialogue is limited to Kirk and Picard on the bridge of their respectiveEnterprise.  I sought out a valuable resource I had at my disposal – a former navy officer.  He read the chapter and sent me back notes on what naval officers would say and pointed out a glaring mistake on what goes on in a torpedo attack.  Proofreaders can also give you honest input on what portions of the story are too slow or might even wound your pride and tell you that a particular chapter is pointless and needs to be cut.  Listen to the input and take it to heart.  Your proofreaders are representatives of every reader that will read your work.  If portions of your work confuse or bore them, the same will be true for any reader.
4.  Have your book cover done professionally.  I am a horrible artist.  There, I said it.  Terrible doesn’t even begin to describe how bad I am.  I was so terrible at the game Draw Something that I deleted it from my phone.  I’m that bad.  My next plan was to utilize my computer skills and become proficient at a graphic design program.  I figured I could come up with something simple yet elegant.  After six hours I had a solid black background with the word “Collapse” in a cool font right in the center of the image.  My name was at the top, the tagline “America Will Fall” was at the bottom.  It looked awful.  It was time to hire a professional, which every indie author should do.  I found a wonderful graphic designer on Twitter by the name of Laura LaRoche.  Visit her website at at take a look at her work.  Her rates are very affordable.  I simply gave her a detailed description of what I wanted and after some more input from me, I had an amazing cover.

5.  Go exclusive with Amazon with the KDP Select Program.  I can’t emphasize this enough.  My success both financially and in terms of downloads is owed to KDP Select.  Once enrolled in the program, you get paid per borrow in the Kindle Owners Lending Library (KOLL).  If you are not enrolled in KDP, you get nothing from the KOLL program.  At roughly $2 per borrow, I’ve had months in the $300 to $500 range simply from KOLL alone.  Some of you might be wary of this, thinking that you will find more success making your work available across all platforms.  In my own personal experience, for every 1 download from Barnes & Nobles, I have 20 from Amazon.  In my non-KDP months, I’ve had 1 download from Kobo, Smashwords and 0 from iTunes.  The numbers are there and they speak for themselves. The money I make from KOLL will never be made up from the other platforms.  If you have found great success from other platforms, I’d love to hear about it in the comments with some tips on how you did it.  During your free promos, it is imperative that you put the word out.  Author Rachelle Ayala has a wonderful resource on her blog that will help tremendously.

6.  Social Media.  This outlet is a must for any indie author.  I have sold a great many books from Twitter as detailed in this post.  As I mentioned in that post, I highly recommend the program TweetAdder.  It does all the heavy lifting for you and can gain you 200-300 followers a day if done right.  You can also create lists of tweets talilored to certain needs like free promos, pushing your audiobook, pushing your novel, or pushing your blog.  This blog gets 600-800 views a day and over half of them come from Twitter.

Facebook can also be a valuable tool if used successfully.  Create an author page on Facebook and use it to promote your work.  FB also has very effective advertising options to reach the masses.  You can create a post about your novel and for increments of $5, $10 and up to $50 you can promote that post to thousands of people.

Do you have a blog?  You should.  Over the past year I’ve put a lot of work into this blog and have done my best to tailor it to advertise my book on every visit, no matter the content.  Someone visits this blog, they will see the details for Collapse.  Use your blog to promote other indie authors as I have done.  The indie community is a very open and sharing one, use that resource to your benefit.  I promote other indies on this blog for no monentary compensation, the only thing I ask in return from them is to help me promote my free promo days when they come around.

7.  Master the very tiresome art of advertising.  Advertising is a full time job by itself.  Get your name out there whenever you can.  It might seem like a complete waste of time that gives nothing in return at first, but plant those seeds early on and they will bear fruit in the future.  I have been very, very lucky to cultivate some influential people in my advertising ventures.  You never know when that one special someone will read your book and contact you for an interview or a podcast.  A few weeks ago a wonderful woman by the name of Lisa Bedford, aka The Survival Mom, read Collapse during a free promo and she loved the book.  She contacted me for an interview and I was honored to be the first guest on her upcoming podcast.  When she posted her review of Collapse, my Amazon ranking was in the 9K range, in the days following her review, the ranking shot up to 1,353, almost breaking my record.  Her review also caught the eye of Lew Rockwell, a prominent political commentator, who reposted her review on his blog.

Along with The Survival Mom’s podcast, I have done two others.  The first was withThe American Preppers Network which helped boost my rankings in the early first few months of release.  My most recent podcast was just a few days ago with Jim Harold, the top paranormal podcaster on iTunes.  He featured the interview in The Consipracy Corner.  Jim also gave me some very exciting news.  He has a contact at Fox News, a man he used to do podcasts with, and he is going to pass along the word of Collapse and gave him my contact info.  He made no guarantees, but having my book plugged on the weekend edition of Fox and Friends would be HUGE in terms of exposure.
Put yourself out there, never turn down a promotional opporunity and constantly search for advertising ventures.  That lucky break is around the corner.  I cerainly never dreamed I would be so lucky as I have mentioned above.

In terms of paid advertising, my primary piece of advice is to never gamble what you can’t afford to lose because there is no guarantee that you will get it back.  If you have the funds to do so, there are many affordable resources out there.  Kindle Nation Daily has some of the best in the business.  They even have the numbers to back it up.  Do your research and find out what best suits your budget.  I have recently offered a $25 monthly promotional packet here on this blog.  I think you can get a lot for your money, please look over the details and consider it.
If you are willing to spend a decent amount of money, I highly recommendBookBub.  They have very large email lists and you can really get the word of your novel out there to tens of thousands of potential readers.
Another piece of advice in terms of paid advertising is not to over-saturate the market.  It is unwise to use Kindle Nation Daily three times in one month, chances are you’ve reached the majority of their readership on the first one.  Space it out.  BookBub knows this and they only let you use their services every three months.
8.  Interact with your readers as much as possible.  At the end of Collapse, I included all of my contact info to include email address, FB, Twitter, and blog.  I have been fortunate to interact with many fans over the last eight months.  Glowing emails simply make my day, however, be wary that by putting yourself out there you are open to negative interaction as well.  I receive dozens of tweets a day from readers and potential readers and I always reply to each one.

9.  Receive praise, ask for a review.  I have received a few negative reviews that make accusations that all of the four and five star reviews are questionable if not fraudulent.  This is not the case.  I honestly can’t explain the current 221 reviews my novel has received in just eight months.  I certainly have not paid for reviews or created fake accounts to give myself positive reviews. I honestly wouldn’t know how to do that if I were so dishonestly inclined.  One thing I have done in my interactions with fans is to ask them to leave an honest review on Amazon.  I greatly appreciate complementary emails, tweets, and posts on FB, they truly make my day.  I reply to them with my gratitude and a humble request to leave a review on Amazon.  Since I am not actively soliciting people for reviews and instead interacting with fans, I see no issue with it.  I’m certainly not telling them what to put in the review or asking them for five stars, so I see no harm.

10.  Advertise your other works at the end of your novel.  A reader has finished your work and enjoyed it, what’s the next logical thing they are going to do?  They will seek out your other work.  Between books 1 and 2, I have written a short story that deals with one of the characters from book one.  At the end of Collapse, I provide a link to that short story.  I also provide links to the audiobook version of Collapse.  If you have written multiple books, advertise them at the end of the book and make it easy for your reader to find them.

I look forward to your comments and more suggestions for being a successful indie author.

Richard Stephenson was born in 1975 in Denison, TX and spent his childhood in North Texas. In 1992, he graduated high school after only three years. He then pursued his degree at Oklahoma Christian University, once again accomplishing the task in three years. Richard then married his best friend before going off to basic training to be a military policeman with the US Army. With his new wife joining the adventure, they spent the next four years at Fort Polk, LA and had two children.

Just before his son turned five, Richard and his wife were told that their oldest child had Asperger's Syndrome. Nine years later, Richard's son would become the inspiration for the character of Howard Beck.

After leaving the armed forces, Richard continued his law enforcement career in the federal sector and has been with the Department of Justice for twelve years.

Richard enjoys many things. He reads constantly with the thanks of his trusty iPad. When he can find the time, he can be found playing Mass Effect, Fallout: New Vegas, or Modern Warfare 2. When a friend or a friend of friend needs a computer fixed, Richard is on the case.
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