Tag Archives: books

Your Book Isn’t for Everyone

Think for a moment about your work in progress. How should your book be marketed? What kind of reader do you want to attract? Who is your book for?

Why, it’s for everyone! you exclaim.

After all, who wouldn’t want to read your fabulous plot, compelling characters, and engaging writing voice? Perhaps a few doltish persons on the fringe, but anyone with good sense and a love of good story would like your book.

Sorry, but nope.

Some people won’t want to read your book. In fact, some people might hate your book. And that’s a worthwhile reality to consider when we writers send our manuscripts into contests, open ourselves to outside critique, and read through reviews. Sometimes you’ll get feedback that you can simply shrug off with, “My book wasn’t for them.”

It isn’t personal (even though the comment might sting), but rather a mismatch between author and reader. We simply can’t write a story that every single person will adore. Your book, and my book, is not for everyone.

Yet that simply puts us in good company. I like to turn to the world of authors and see what wisdom they can offer. Check out these reviews, followed by the book that sparked them.

“…no more than a glorified anecdote, and not too probable at that…” – The Chicago Tribune

“…an absurd story, whether considered as romance, melodrama, or plain record of New York high life.” – The Saturday Review

THE GREAT GATSBY, F. Scott Fitzgerald

“…no better in tone than the dime novels which flood the blood-and-thunder reading population… his literary skill is, of course, superior, but their moral level is low, and their perusal cannot be anything less than harmful.” — in The New York Times

THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN, Mark Twain

“The book as a whole is disappointing, and not merely because it is a reworking of a theme that one begins to suspect must obsess the author. [The main character] who tells his own story, is an extraordinary portrait, but there is too much of him.” – The New Republic

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE, J.D. Salinger

“These are one-dimensional children’s books, Disney cartoons written in words, no more.” – The Guardian

HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER’S STONE, J.K. Rowling

“How a human being could have attempted such a book as the present without committing suicide before he had finished a dozen chapters, is a mystery.” – Graham’s Lady’s Magazine

WUTHERING HEIGHTS, Emily Bronte

“the plan and technique of the illustrations are superb. … But they may well prove frightening, accompanied as they are by a pointless and confusing story.” — Publisher’s Weekly

WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE, Maurice Sendak

But you know what? Just take that last one. Sendak didn’t write this book for everyone. It found its way into the hearts of children, of all ages, over the years.

Here’s how the Library Journal described it: “This is the kind of story that many adults will question and for many reasons, but the child will accept it wisely and without inhibition, as he knows it is written for him.”

Knowing who your book is for can help you figure out how to distribute and market it to the right audience, as well as how to handle the negative reviews that inevitably come in. When that happens, remind yourself that you’re in the same circle with the likes of Twain, Rowling, and Bronte. Not such a bad place to find yourself.

By Julie Glover
Source: writersinthestormblog.com

Visit us at First Edition Design Publishing

How to Sell Books in Your Local Community

Often times when writers dream of becoming bestselling authors, we picture worldwide success, with our novels translated into dozens of different languages and adapted into major motion pictures. One of the most important things to keep in mind, though, is that learning how to sell books is a process that starts small and, usually, starts locally.

Your Book Marketing Depends on You

Learning how to sell books is an extremely important skill as an author.

If you are a traditionally published author, you may have a team of people who will help you with marketing, but even then, it is mostly up to you to sell your work. If you are a self-published author, it is completely left to you.

Selling locally is a great way to start because it gives you an in-person advantage. You can be far more personal with people than you can ever be online, which gives a greater sense of who you are and what your books are like.

4 Ways to Sell Books in Your Community

Not sure how to sell books to the people in your local community? Here are four things you can do to get started.

1. Set up an event at your local bookstore

As scary as it can be, you have to take the first step when it comes to promoting yourself. If you wait around for someone else to invite you to an event or ask you to do a signing, you may be waiting around forever.

Take the initiative to send an e-mail or walk into your local bookstore and ask if they would consider hosting a book signing or a presentation/Q&A.

Whatever event you have in mind, make sure you have a clear idea of what it will be so you can properly pitch it. Remember to always be polite and offer the suggestion in a way that will show the bookstore how it will benefit them, as well.

Especially if it is an indie bookstore, talk about how you can promote the location and urge your readers to purchase books through them. The event should be mutually beneficial.

2. Create promotional material

There are a variety of websites you can use to create catchy posters and business cards for a relatively inexpensive price. If you are not comfortable with doing the graphic design yourself, consider asking an artistic friend for some help (make sure you pay them for their time, return the favor however you can, or at least take them out for a cup of coffee afterwards).

Once you have said posters, go to your local library and coffee shop and ask if it would be all right to hang them on their community boards. Wherever you can, put one up.

It might be a good idea to include a QR code on the post that goes to your blog or someplace where readers can easily purchase your book.

Business cards are a must, as well. Make sure they have your name, headshot, and links to your website and social media pages. Whenever you meet someone new in your community, give them a business card. It’s a great and easy way to keep in touch with new friends and let them know about your books.

3. Go to events in your community

One of the best ways to get your community connected with your book is for you to connect with your community.

Whenever there is a local, bookish event, try to attend it (and take your business cards with you!). Authors love to chat with other writers and going to a signing or release party is a great way to start networking.

Others who are attending the event are likely to be big readers, too. Talk to them! Ask them what kinds of books they like, if they’re long-time or recent fans of the author hosting the event, and so on. Once you get into a conversation, you can mention your own book and maybe even swap contact information.

Events at bookstores are not the only ones you should attend, either. Go to classes at your local library or an open mic at a coffee shop. You never know who you’ll end up talking to or who might be interested in buying your book.

4. Write an elevator pitch

These are a must for any book. Any person advising you on how to sell books will eventually tell you to write an elevator pitch.

Simply put, an elevator pitch is, as the name suggests, a pitch for your book that you can relay in the time it would take to ride an elevator with someone. It should be short and snappy, no more than a few lines.

Not sure how to get started writing your elevator pitch? Condensing your book into a one- or two-line premise is a great place to start.

After you’ve written your pitch, rehearse it until you can repeat it in your sleep. This way, when you chat with a fellow reader/writer at an author signing and they ask the inevitable question, “What’s your book about?” you won’t have to stammer and desperately search for the right words.

Writing a glowing description of your book can take days and endless revisions. You don’t have to think of it on the spot.

With an in-person pitch, though, you have to think on your feet. If you’re like me and you don’t like coming up with something on the fly, it would be a good idea to write and revise an elevator pitch you can easily memorize and repeat with a smile.

For an example of what this should look like, here is a pitch I wrote recently for one of my novels:

Lila, an immortal witch, falls for Melody, a mortal witch hunter. The two end up on the run when the demon Angelique decides Lila would be the perfect addition to her team in the upcoming apocalyptic war against humanity.

The pitch should introduce your main character(s) and the antagonist/conflict.

How to Sell Books in Person

Selling books locally is a lot different from networking online, but it comes with several advantages. People are more likely to buy your product if they feel like they have connected with you on a personal level. Plus, getting to know your readers (or potential readers) is such an important part of being an author.

And remember, it isn’t a big deal if you don’t make a sale right away. Sometimes you make a friend first, and maybe later that friend will become a customer, and a long-time fan.

How do you promote your work in your community? Do you have any other tips for how to sell books in your local community, or strategies that have worked for you? Let us know in the comments.

By The Magic Violinist
Source: thewritepractice.com

Visit us at First Edition Design Publishing

How Long Should A Book Be? Word Count Guidelines by Genre.

A constant complaint I hear from agents, editors, writing teachers, and reviewers is that they see too many manuscripts with inappropriate word counts.

If you’re getting a lot of form rejections or simply silence from agents, reviewers and editors, this may be why.

Word count guidelines have been trending down in the last decade. Most editors won’t look at a debut manuscript longer than 100K words—a little longer if it’s fantasy or a non-romance historical. They were not so rigid ten years ago.

Now publishers—and many readers—won’t take a chance on any long book by an unproven author.

While readers will happily plunk down the big bux for an 819-page book by George R. R. Martin, they’ll turn up their noses at a book that long—even if it only costs 99c—if it’s written by Who R. R. You.

I know the “accepted wisdom” in the indie world is that if you self-publish, you can write whatever the heck you want and people will buy it. But that’s no longer the case. The wrong word count for your genre red-flags you as an amateur, and most readers don’t have time for amateurs.

Not when there’s so much professional-level stuff being self-published.

A decade after the beginning of the “Kindle Revolution,” too many readers have been burned by self-published bloated rough drafts. A reader is not likely to pick up a book that screams “I’ve been writing this in my spare time for the last 8 years and I refuse to rewrite and would never let an editor tamper with my genius.”

So don’t be that guy.

Word Count Guidelines By Genre

Word counts are generally agreed to be the count provided by MS Word’s “Word Count” tool. Some extremely old-school agents prefer that you use the formula of 250 words per page (double spaced, 12 pt. font) and calculate it yourself, which seems a silly waste of time, but always check agent websites for guidelines.

For debut authors, following these rules will seriously improve your chances of traditional publication and/or establishing a readership, no matter how you publish.

In other words, get famous first and break the rules later.

If you are a household name, you can publish a compendium of your shopping lists from the past two decades and your publisher will happily promote it and people will buy it.

Unfortunately, that’s not true for the rest of us.

Here is a summary of current word count guidelines. This is a composite taken from a number of publishing industry websites, so nothing is set in stone. Take these as target word counts.  Some publishers will accept longer or shorter books, so always check the website of an agent or publisher before you submit.

Note I say these are for “debut” fiction. Once you have a loyal fan base, you can break the rules with abandon.

Word Count Guidelines for Debut Fiction

Picture Books—text: 500-1000 words (32 pages is ideal.)

Middle Grade fiction—20K to 40K. (Yes, we all know about Harry Potter. And when you’re as famous as J.K. Rowling you can write MG tomes, too.) “Upper Middle Grade” can be a bit longer.

Young Adult fiction—25K to 80K.

Chick Lit—60K-75K.

Cozy Mysteries—55K-70K. (BTW, Agatha Christie’s mysteries sometimes came in at 40K words. I think we may be going back in that direction.)

Fantasy—90K-110K. Definitely down from the epic tomes of yore. Self-publishers can get away with more. Fantasy readers like big books and they cannot lie. 🙂

Historical fiction—80K to 110K+. (You can still wax verbitudinous in this genre.)

Literary fiction—65K to 100K, trending away from the higher numbers. “Spare and elegant” is the mark of literary chic these days.

Standard Mysteries and Crime Fiction—70K to 100K.

Romance—55K-75K. For subgenres of romance, check publishers’ guidelines. Word counts for specific romance lines can be very strict. Some historicals can be longer, although Regencies tend to be short.

Science Fiction—75K—100K. When there’s world-building involved a book generally needs to be longer.

Thrillers—80K to 100K.

Urban Fantasy / Paranormal Romance—70K to 90K.

Westerns—50K-80K.

Women’s Fiction—70K-100K. The women’s fiction family saga has gone out of fashion recently, but they’re generally on the longer end.

Around 80K seems to be the magic number for most adult fiction. So if your ms. goes way over that, it may be time to put on your editor hat and get ruthless.

Word Count Guidelines for Nonfiction

Nonfiction books have shrunk drastically in the last decade. A study done last spring showed that the average length of a nonfiction bestseller has dropped 42% in the last seven years.

In 2011, the average length of a best-selling non-fiction book was 467 pages, but that dropped to 273 pages in 2017.

Nonfiction books get queried in the form of book proposals, so you don’t submit a complete manuscript (except for memoir, which you query like a novel.) That’s probably why word count guidelines for nonfiction are so hard to find. I’ve also found wildly different word count suggestions between agencies.

So treat these as word count “guestimates.”

Biography—80K-110K. These can be pretty long. Especially if your credentials are good.

Commentary—40K-60K. Not much info out there about word count guidelines for political and other opinion books. If you have appeared on cable TV news, you can probably get away with more verbiage.

Humor—20K-40K. For humorous memoir, follow memoir guidelines, and for funny novels, follow fiction guidelines, but for books like John Hodgman’s The Areas of my Expertise, Dave Barry’s Complete Guide to Guys or the classic 1066 and All That, (only 128 pages and still in print after 80 years) keep it to 40K words or less.

Memoir and Narrative Nonfiction—40K-70K. You’ll probably want to prune a memoir if it goes over 70K. Books in this genre tend to get bloated without heavy editing. Remember you can write many memoirs about different aspects of your life.

Self-Help & How-To—20K-50K. In the age of ebooks, these are getting shorter all the time. My publisher had me cut my book The Author Blog down from 40K.  (And these days some ebook how-to’s are only 3500 words long.)

Travel and Nature—40K-70K A lot of these books blur boundaries with memoir.

What if Your Ms. Doesn’t Fit Word Count Guidelines? 

With both fiction and nonfiction, it’s best to err on the side of brevity these days. To quote Chuck Sambuchino, editor of the Guide to Literary Agents:

“Agents have so many queries that they are looking for reasons to say no. They are looking for mistakes, chinks in the armor, to cut their query stack down by one. And if you adopt the mentality that your book has to be long, then you are giving them ammunition to reject you.”

If your word count goes over the limit:

  • Consider splitting it into two books.
  • Or a trilogy. You’ll triple your income. 🙂
  • Are the extra words in there for world-building? Consider cutting some details and putting them on your blog.
  • Do some ruthless editing. Are you repeating yourself? Can you say something with one word instead of ten?
  • Can you condense some of those conversations with indirect dialogue?

If your word count is under the limit:

  • For literary fiction: Flesh out characters.
  • Thrillers: Weave in another subplot.
  • Crime fiction: Kill off a few more victims.
  • Or…maybe you’ve got a novella.

Novellas are hot.

Yes, old-school Big Five publishers (and Bookbub) still aren’t much interested in novellas, and some agents will reject on low word count alone.

But readers love them! Jane Austen fan fiction authors have been practically minting money with 140-page or less “Pride and Prejudice variation” Regency novellas in the last few years.

And forward-looking agencies like Fuse Literary offer “assisted self-publishing” for their authors to write novellas in between big novel releases. Their Short Fuse Publishing produces digital-first novellas in a number of genres.

For more on the popularity of the novella, check out Paul Alan Fahey’s post for us on the subject. Next June we’ll have a post from actress and bestselling author Mara Purl on the difference between writing a novel and a novella.

What about you, scriveners? Do you have a problem keeping to word count guidelines? Do you tend to write over or under the standard word count? Have you ever turned a long book into two or three?

By Anne R. Allen @annerallen
Source: annerallen.com

Visit us at First Edition Design Publishing

How to Write a Book in 100 Days

Let’s start with the obvious: You don’t know how to write a book. I’ve written seven books, and I don’t really know how to write a book either. I have a process that works, sure, but with writing, as with many things in life, it’s always when you think you know what you’re doing that you get into trouble.

So let’s just admit right now, you don’t know how to write a book, and definitely not in 100 days, and that’s okay. There, don’t you feel better?

How to Write a Book in 100 Days 2

There’s this one moment I think about all the time. I had just finished work—I had this horrible desk job at the time—and as I was getting ready to go home, I felt this urge come over me to become a writer. I had felt like I wanted to become a writer before, for years actually, but in that moment, it was all-consuming. Have you ever felt like that before?

And so, instead of going home, I got out a blank piece of paper, and I stared at it. I stared at that blank piece of paper for a really long time. Because I was looking for a book. If only I could come up with the perfect idea, if only I could write a book, then I’d finally feel like a writer.

But I couldn’t think of anything, or at least nothing worthy, and after staring at that blank piece of paper for an hour with nothing, I gave up. In that moment, I felt like I was further from my goal to become a writer than I ever had be. I was so discouraged.

I was discouraged because I didn’t know how to write a book.

Honestly, I might still be there today if I hadn’t had a few lucky breaks and several mentors to teach me the process of how to write a book.

13 Writers Who Finished Their Books in 100 Days

You might say you’re not able write a book in 100 days. You might worry that you’re not able to write a book at all. But I don’t believe that. I honestly believe that everyone can write a book, and I’m not just saying that. I believe it because I’ve done it.

In fact I wrote my first book in fewer than 100 days. I wrote my latest book in just sixty-three days.

I’m not alone, either. I’ve worked with hundreds of other writers to write their books, too. Here are just a few:

Fall 2017 Cohort

These writers are just a few who finished their books in our Fall semester of the 100 Day Book program.

Stella Moreux had been “marinating” on an idea for her “southern fried” fantasy novel for more than three years, but it wasn’t until she signed up for the 100 Day Book program that she seriously started writing it. “I won’t mince words when I say this was hard,” Stella says in her post about the writing process. “However, I would not trade this experience for anything. I survived and finished! The 100 Day Book Program is a challenge but worth it!”

Jodi Elderton had written short stories, but never a novel, and with almost two jobs and young kids, she worried she never would. But she says, “This program made it doable, if you stick with it.” By the end, she finished her novel and said to her writing community, “We made it!” Read Jodi’s full story here.

Rita Harris had an incredibly hard year. After committing to writing her novel, she says she had a marriage breakdown, sold her house and moved, and then had a health scare. Any one of those things could have derailed her writing process, but she kept going, motivated by the writing team she had surrounded herself with and the accountability she agreed to. Despite everything, she finished her book, “something which I doubt I would have had even without the life challenges I faced during the course of my writing if I had not enrolled in the program.” Read her story of determination here.

Karin Weiss‘s novel, A Roaring Deep Within, had been languishing half-finished for years. When she began the process, she thought it would be easy, mostly rewriting, but the process proved much more difficult than expected. What saved her was the writing community in the 100 Day Book program. “I found there a ‘writer’s community,’” she says, “that was available night and day that gave me support and motivation to keep going when my energy dragged, or when I felt discouraged at a tough point in my writing.” Read more about how Karin finally finished her novel-in-progress here.

Spring 2017 Cohort

These writers are just a few who finished their books in our Spring semester of the 100 Day Book program.

Sef Churchill decided to write her book in 100 days “on an impulse one Thursday night.” She followed our process, and by Sunday had committed to an idea. How did it go? “Now I have a book,” she says, “a book which before that first Sunday, I had not even dreamed of.” Check out the 10 lessons she learned about the book writing process.

Ella J. Smyth wrote two of her Romance novels (two novels!) in a little over a 100 days. She talks about her experience, and the power of accountability, here.

Nathan Salley set aside one day a week to write his book, and in that restricted amount of time he was able to finish his book in less than 100 days. You can read about Nathan’s experience (and his next steps into publishing) here.

When Margherita Crystal Lotus told me her sci-fi/fantasy mashup novel was going to be over 100,000 words, and that she was going to do it in 100 days, I had a few doubts she would be able to finish it in time. But she did finish in time, a few days early in fact. And now she’s about to publish the finished book. You can read more about her novel The Color Game here.

Kira Swanson rewrote her novel, which she finished in NaNoWriMo, expanding it from a 70,000-word first draft into a 100,000-word second draft. She recently pitched it to agents and had five of them ask to see the finished manuscript. You can read more about her novel revision experience here.

100 Day Book Challenge Performance

Sandra Whitten was feeling lost and unprepared in the midst of her first book. But after she signed up for our course, she began writing every day for the first time and finally finished her book. You can read more about Sandra’s experience here.

Fran Benfield said that before she signed up for our program, she was “drowning in a sea of words” (I can relate to that feeling!). But she did finish, and found her voice through the process. You can read about how she wrote her memoir here.

Uma Eachempati had been wanting to write about her father’s experience as a prisoner of war during World War II for years. She finally finished it in August, writing it in less than 100 days!

Doug Smith told me he had been thinking about his idea for a novel, Phoenix Searching, “for more years than I care to admit to.” By following our process, he finally finished his novel in May! “What I thought was a long shot,” he says, “turned out to be totally doable.”

These writers have finished their books in less than 100 days, and the reality is you can too. You just need to have the right process.

How to Write a Book in 100 Days: 5 Steps

What did these writers do differently? How do you actually write a book in 100 days? There are five steps:

1. Commit to an idea.

Having an idea is easy. Committing to an idea isn’t, especially if you’re like most writers I know and have dozens of them!

The first step to writing a book is to commit to executing—no matter how you feel about your writing during the process, no matter how many new ideas you come up with in the meantime, no matter what other important things come up. You have to commit to finishing no matter what.

2.  Create a plan.

I’ve found that the people who have planned are much more likely to finish their books. A plan doesn’t have to look like a detailed outline, though, so if you’re not into plotting, that’s okay.

Here are a few things your plan should include:

  • Word count. How long will your book be? (Here’s a word count cheat sheet.) Divide that by how many days you have to write: e.g. there are about 71 weekdays in 100 days.
  • Intention. Where will you write each day? How long will you write each day? Visualize yourself writing there for that long.
  • Publishing and Marketing process. Not because you need to know that now, but because by thinking about it and visualizing it, you improve your chances of actually getting there.

If you think through each step of your book, from your initial idea through the writing process to the publication and marketing of your book, you’ll be much more prepared when the writing goes wrong (because it will).

3. Get a team.

Most people think they can write a book on their own. Most people think they don’t need support or encouragement or accountability to write a book. And that’s why most people fail to finish their books.

That was me. I used to think that I could do it own my own. Honestly, I thought I had no choice but to do it on my own. And I failed again and again and again.

Don’t be most people. The great writers throughout history wrote in the midst of a community of other writers. You need a community, too.

A team might look like:

  • A writer’s group
  • A writing course or class
  • An editor or mentor

When you get stuck, as you inevitably will, it’s your team who will help you get unstuck. Don’t start writing your book without one.

4. Write badly every day.

Your first draft will not be perfect. Far from it. You may not be able to stand how bad your writing is. Your sentences might come out as deformed monsters. Your story or logic might go off on strange tangents. You may feel like everything you write is stupid, shallow, and boring.

Write anyway.

It always starts out like this. Writing is iterative. Your second draft will be better than your first. And your fifth draft will be better than your second.

Write badly all the way to the end. You can fix it later.

5. Get accountability.

I had been writing my latest book for two years, two unproductive years of feeling bad about myself all the time for not writing. This was my seventh book. I should have known how to write a book by now. I didn’t.

It took two writing friends calling me out (see step 3) for me to finally realize I needed to take drastic measures.

And so I wrote a check for $1,000 to the presidential candidate I disliked the most (this was during the 2016 election), and gave it to a friend with orders to send the check if I missed my deadline. I’ve never been more focused in my life, and I finished my book in sixty-three days.

Pretty good accountability, right? Most writers need deadlines and accountability to stay focused and do the hard work of writing.

You Can Try to Do This on Your Own, But You Probably Won’t

Have you ever tried to write a book and failed? I have. Many many times over. My biggest mistake was trying to do it alone.

Honestly, it wasn’t until I hired a coach and found a writing mentor that I finally finished my first book.

If you want to write a book, I would love to help you. Right now, for a limited time, you can join the 100 Day Book program. Over the course of 100 days, I’ll guide you through the writing process, and by the end of the 100 days, you’ll have a finished book.

So many writers have finished their books in this program (including the writers above), and so can you. If you want to join the program and finish your book in 100 days like the writers above, you can sign up here.

Have you finished writing a book? What was the most important thing that enabled you to finish? Let us know in the comments!

By Joe Bunting
Source: thewritepractice.com

Visit us at First Edition Design Publishing

In the time you spend on social media each year, you could read 200 books

Somebody once asked Warren Buffett about his secret to success. Buffett pointed to a stack of books and said,

Read 500 pages like this every day. That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will…

When I first found this quote of Buffett’s two years ago, something was wrong.

It was Dec. 2014. I’d found my dream job. Some days, I would be there, sitting at my dream job, and I would think, “My god what if I’m still here in 40 years? I don’t want to die like this…”

Something wasn’t right. I’d followed the prescription. Good grades. Leadership. Recommendations. College. Dream Job. I was a winner. I’d finished the race. Here I was in the land of dreams. But something was terribly, terribly wrong.

Every day, from my dream job desk, I looked out into their eyes. Empty, empty eyes.

There were no answers.

In January of 2015, I found Buffett’s quote. I decided to read. I was going to read and read and read and never stop until I got some damn answers.

I didn’t quite make 500 pages a day, but, in these last two years, I’ve read over 400 books cover to cover. That decision to start reading was one of the most important decisions in my life.

Books gave me the courage to travel. Books gave me the conviction to quit my job. Books gave me role models and heroes and meaning in a world where I had none.

I want to say reading 200 books a year is an amazing thing. But the truth is, it’s not. Anybody can do it.

All it takes is some simple math and the right tools.

1. Do not quit before you start

When average Joe hears the advice “Read 500 pages like this every day,” his snap reaction is to say, “No way! That’s impossible!”

Joe will then go on to make up reasons to justify his belief without doing any deep thinking at all. These might include “I’m too busy,” “I’m not smart enough,” or “Books just aren’t for me.”

But what if we go a little deeper? For example, what does it actually take to read 200 books a year? Two years ago, I stopped to do the simple math. Here’s what I found: Reading 200 books a year isn’t hard at all.

It’s just like Buffett says. Anyone can do it, but most people won’t.

2. Do the simple math

How much time does it take to read 200 books a year?

First, let’s look at two quick statistics:

  • The average American reads 200–400 words per minute (Since you’re on Medium, I’m going to assume you read 400 wpm like me)
  • Typical non-fiction books have ~50,000 words

Now, all we need are some quick calculations…

  • 200 books * 50,000 words/book = 10 million words
  • 10 million words/400 wpm = 25,000 minutes
  • 25,000 minutes/60 = 417 hours

That’s all there is to it. To read 200 books, simply spend 417 hours a year reading.

I know, I know. If your brain is like mine, it probably saw “417 hours” and immediately tried to shut off. Most people only work 40 hours a week! How can we possibly read for 417 hours?

Don’t let your monkey brain turn you away yet. Let’s do a quick reframe for what 417 hours really means…

3. Find the time

Wowsers, 417 hours. That sure feels like a lot. But what does 417 hours really mean? Let’s try to get some more perspective.

Here’s how much time a single American spends on social media and TV in a year:

  • 608 hours on social media
  • 1642 hours on TV

Wow. That’s 2250 hours a year spent on TRASH. If those hours were spent reading instead, you could be reading over 1,000 books a year!

Here’s the simple truth behind reading a lot of books: It’s not that hard. We have all the time we need. The scary part—the part we all ignore—is that we are too addicted, too weak, and too distracted to do what we all know is important…

All it takes to start reading a lot more is to take “empty time” spent Twitter-stalking celebrities or watching Desperate Housewives and convert some of it to reading time.

The theory is simple. It’s the execution that’s hard.

4. Execute

We all know reading is important. We all know we should do more of it. But we don’t. The main reason this happens is a failure to execute.

I’m not so perfect at it yet, but here are some tactics that have helped me get results.

I. Use environmental design

If you were quitting cocaine, would you keep it lying around the house? Of course not. Media is designed to be addictive. Moving away from media addiction can be as difficult as quitting drugs.

The biggest bang-for-buck changes here are environmental.

If you want to read, make sure (1) you remove all distractions from your environment and (2) you make books as easy to access as possible.

As an example, here’s my immediate environment:

from original
(Charles Chu)

I travel a lot. That doesn’t stop me from reading. The picture on the left is of my “bookshelf” in Thailand. I try to keep books everywhere so I can just pick one up and start reading.

The picture on the right is my smartphone desktop. Notice there are only two apps. One of them—the Kindle app—is for reading. The other is for habits… Which brings me to my next point.

II. Upload habits

Willpower is not a good tool for lifestyle change. It always fails you when you need it most. Instead of relying on strength of mind, build a fortress of habits—these are what will keep you resilient in tough times.

If you’re not familiar with habit science, my favorite book on the subject is Tynan’s Superhuman by Habit. It’s infinitely practical, and practical is all I care about.

Getting good at habit formation took me years. Many of the mistakes I made were avoidable. If I could go back, I’d find a habit coach. Here’s how I see it. One game-changing idea from a good book is worth thousands of dollars. If a coach helps you read ONE more good book a year, you already get your money’s worth.

(A shout out to Cherry Jeffs and Nathan Sudds, two coaches who have helped me out a lot.)

III. Go multi-medium

When it comes to reading, be a jack of all trades, not a specialist.

If your goal is to read more, you can’t be picky about where you read or what mediums you use. I read paper books. I read on my phone. I listen to audiobooks. And I do these things everywhere—on park benches, in buses, in the toilet… Wherever I can.

Make your reading opportunistic. If you have a chance, take it. If you don’t have a chance, find one.

I read a book one day and my whole life was changed.

— Orhan Pamuk

If I hadn’t started reading, perhaps I’d still be at my dream job. Perhaps I’d still be at my desk, taking peeks at the clock and wondering if that was how I was going to die…

If you’re looking for answers, give reading a try. You may find much, much more than what you were looking for.

Source: qz.com

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Writers’ groups are really made for writers

“Marketing is a long and arduous process that I wish I would have known more about in the beginning…” opens today’s Publisher’s Weekly article about the professional benefits of joining a writers’ group. The quote came from Deeann Callis Graham, whose book, “Head On,” addresses the issue of areata, an autoimmune disease that causes baldness in men and women. Indeed, many writers embark on their craft in with the idea that a knight in shining armor attached to a publishing house will do the marketing, when in reality, it is largely you, the author, hustling for publicity, and putting your name and face and work out there for all the world to critique. Perhaps if many did know about the marketing process there would be even fewer writers.

But I digress. The PW piece likens writers’ groups to a kind of group therapy, where members strive to raise each writer’s spirit and technique, while offering constructive advice in a safe place. According to Graham, “Our group of seven are personally invested in our individual and shared successes, and we inspire each other to reach our writing and marketing goals.”

In addition, having a strong writers’ network, though it may not comprise Stephen King or Toni Morrison, nevertheless makes writers – especially first-timers – feel less alone while navigating the wild, wild world of publishing. Members learn from others’ successes and mistakes, and grow their network beyond a notoriously solitary writer’s world.

Graham self-published “Head On,” which a PW review called “heartwarming” and “a powerful compilation of profiles with a sincere and encouraging message.” Graham believes she would not have gotten this far without her group of creative cheerleaders. So if you need a kick in the rear to get going, or you’ve already in the middle of a manuscript you think has potential, consider sharing it with a group of your peers first, not only to learn about writing, but about the industry. Groups can be found at Meetups, indie bookstores (yes, they still exist), or, if push comes to shove, perhaps by starting your own.

By Heather Quinlan

Source: slushpile.netslushpile.net

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First Lines from the Best Books of the Year

We try to not judge books by their covers, but first lines? Well, that’s a different story. In a world of so many books (and so little time!), we have to be selective…and a great opening can make the difference between “want to read” eventually and “want to readnow.

Check out how the winners of this year’s Goodreads Choice Awards hooked readers below. Which first lines make you want to read more?

“Everyone in Shaker Heights was talking about it that summer: how Isabelle, the last of the Richardson children, had finally gone around the bend and burned the house down.”

 

BEST MYSTERY & THRILLER
Into the Water
by Paula Hawkins
“There was something you wanted to tell me, wasn’t there?”

 

BEST HISTORICAL FICTION
Before We Were Yours
by Lisa Wingate
“My story begins on a sweltering August night, in a place I will never set eyes upon.”

 

“Dougal—you settle down now, please.”

 

“I have an impressive collection of trophies that I did not win.”

 

BEST SCIENCE FICTION
Artemis
by Andy Weir
“I bounded over the gray, dusty terrain toward the huge dome of Conrad Bubble.”

 

“If you’d asked me back at the beginning of my career to guess which character I was most likely to return to, fifteen years after I’d played her for the first time, there would have been only one answer.”

 

“Regardless of how you got here, I’m so glad you did.”

 

BEST MEMOIR & AUTOBIOGRAPHY
What Happened
by Hillary Rodham Clinton
“This is my story of what happened.”

 

BEST MEMOIR & AUTOBIOGRAPHY
The Radium Girls
by Kate Moore
“The scientist had forgotten all about the radium.”

 

“In recent years, no more than a week goes by without news of a cosmic discovery worthy of banner headlines.”

 

BEST FOOD & TECHNOLOGY
The Pioneer Woman Cooks
by Ree Drummond
“When I was in my early twenties, I thought I was busy.”

 

BEST YOUNG ADULT FICTION
BEST DEBUT GOODREADS AUTHOR
The Hate U Give
by Angie Thomas
“I shouldn’t have come to this party.”

 

BEST YOUNG ADULT FANTASY
A Court of Wings and Ruin
by Sarah J. Maas
“The buzzing flies and screaming survivors had long since replaced the beating war-drums.”

 

BEST MIDDLE GRADE & CHILDREN’S
The Ship of the Dead
by Rick Riordan
“‘Try it again,’ Percy told me. ‘This time with less dying.'”

 

What’s your favorite first sentence of 2017? Share it with us in the comments!
By Hayley
Source: Goodreads

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Which Social Media Channel Sells The Most Books?

 

Rachel Thompson has written a great article on the effectiveness of popular Social Media influencers over at her site at Bad Redhead Media. Rachel is considered one of the top Social Media Gurus for authors and has some great research to share in this article as well as her website.

 

“Which one social media channel will net me the most book sales?” an author asked me recently during my new weekly #BookMarketingChat (join any Wednesday on Twitter, 6pm pst/9pm est simply by typing in the hashtag).

Well, it’s not that easy. Wouldn’t it be great if we could just go to say, Facebook because that’s the EASY button, and violá! They will come, we will sell, and yacht-life, here we come. Alas, it just doesn’t work that way because well, a few reasons.

Let’s deconstruct.

 

 

Go check the rest of this article at Bad Redhead Media

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7 Lies Writers Believe (and the Truths You Need to Know Instead)

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The writing world is filled with land mines—lies that, when you step on them, blow you right off your creative feet.

I’ve stepped on all of these in my writing career, and every author-friend I know has set them off, too. That tells me they’re pretty common.

Lies Writers Struggle With

I want to help arm you against these painful, dangerous explosions, so I present to you seven lies that writers believe—and the truths that can help you get back on your feet.

Fair warning: this will be a very quote-heavy article. Why? Because I don’t want you to just take my word for it. I want you to see that all creative minds have to navigate these mines—including the best authors in the world.

Lie #1: If you haven’t made it/gotten an agent/become famous by now, you never will.

This is a rough one. When we finally get the courage to start writing (and *gasp* tell people that we are), a funny thing happens: for some reason, others forget everything they know about how skill training works, and they insist we should have “arrived” already.

Baloney. Does anything work that way? Even people with genius taste buds need to learn how to cook. Being “discovered overnight” is an enchanting fantasy, but it’s a dangerous myth.

Here’s the truth: just like getting in shape, climbing a mountain, or memorizing a symphony, writing takes time to master. 

Sam Sykes said once that no matter who you are as an author, you pay your dues at one end or another. To put it another way: it takes many years to be an overnight success. Maybe you haven’t “made it” yet. That doesn’t mean you never will.

“An overnight success is ten years in the making.”
― Tom Clancy, Dead or Alive

“Timing, perseverance, and ten years of trying will eventually make you look like an overnight success.”
― Biz Stone

“It takes 20 years to make an overnight success.”
—Eddie Cantor

“Actually, I’m an overnight success, but it took twenty years.”
—Monty Hall

If you haven’t made it/gotten an agent/become famous by now, you aren’t out of time yet. Keep writing. Keep reading. Don’t quit.

Read the rest of the truth at The Write Practice

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Pros And Cons Of Being An Indie Author

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Publishers – Aggregators – Master Distributors

I spent last weekend at CrimeFest in Bristol alongside lots of amazing crime authors, both traditionally published and indie authors. It was a fantastic time and I met some super people …

I found myself in a number of conversations with authors who wanted to know what their publishing options were in a fast-changing market.

indie authors crimefest 2015

We also had an indie author panel on the Sunday morning, which was packed full despite the morning-after-the-gala-dinner-graveyard slot.

In my intro, I pointed out that between us, we had sold over 500,000 books in five different languages in 66 countries, we are prize-winning and award-winning as well as New York Times and USA Today bestselling.

Oh yes, and contrary to what most seem to believe, we have print and audiobooks as well as ebooks … and all achieved without a publisher. Several of us even make pretty good money from selling books …

We were then asked to outline the negatives of going indie, since we were clearly all so positive about it!

So today, here are my pros and cons of being an indie author. I’d love to hear yours, or any questions, in the comments below.

 

Read the rest  at The Creative Penn

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