Category: Writing


This is a subject that drives me up a wall. I hate when I am reading a book and I start to hear the same words over and over. To me it’s just lazy writing and a sign of really bad editing.

Using the same a few times is common in your first draft. But by the time your book gets published you shouldn’t have the issue.

Your character walks to their car, gets in their car, and then drives their car. How many times do you really need to say car? It’s annoying and distracts the reader.

Out of the last 20 romance novels I’ve read this year, at least 15 of them had them problem and all but one of them were from real publishers, not indie’s.

So how did that even happen? I think (and again this is just my theory) that writers get it in their head that if they get an agent and a “real” publishing deal, that the publishers will take full responsibility for every little bit of editing your book, but in the end it is your book with your name on it, so you can’t leave it up to someone else.

The best thing you could ever do is to HEAR your words. Sometimes hearing your written words spoken out loud, will help you spot mistakes you just don’t notice when reading it. What I do is use a TTS (text to speech) program on my iphone called Voice Dream. I think I paid $1.99 for the app. I load up my entire word document and then have it read it back to me, chapter my chapter. I close my eyes and just listen.

If you don’t do this for your book then you are making a huge mistake. While your publisher will no doubt do their best, it is still your book and you want it to be perfect, right?

SO STOP REPEATING WORDS. Seriously. You don’t need to say door 3 times in a single paragraph.

Writing Tip: Show don’t tell

Show don’t tell is something you hear all of the time, in terms of a writing tip, but what does it really even mean?

Well it has everything to do with emotions. Whenever you are writing you shouldn’t be telling us how you character feels, we need to experience it for ourselves.

Imagine your book was a movie. There is no narrator in a movie. You can’t say my character is sad. You have to show us that the character is sad.

It’s easy to say hey my character is excited in a book, but what you should be doing is showing us that the character is excited. What are they doing exactly what would make me the reader realize the character is excited? Are they jumping up and down? Talking way to fast?

Don’t tell me that your character is scared, show me their fear through shallow breaths and tense shoulders.

Anyone who self publishes knows that hiring an editor can be costly.  I’ve seen people offering editing services for as low as $.02 per word or $1000 for a 300 page novel. Some charge per hour and they change $20 an hour and do an average of about 10 pages an hour. Some editors charge per page and I’ve seen those range in cost from $2 to $5 per page. Then there are the freelancer options where you can go on a site like FreeLancer (or a similar site) and hire someone from another country and get a 300 page novel done for around $150 or go the Fiverr route and with them a good editor will cost you about $5 per chapter.

I’m sure by now you’ve figured out that hiring an editor can be expensive. But as everyone will tell you, it doesn’t matter what it costs, in the end if you want to publish your book it’s something you have to do. Everybody needs an editor for their book, period.

So what can you do to get your book edited for free? Back in the day people used to barter. You do for me, I’ll do for you.  With a site like Fiverr you can pretty much do just that.  Let me explain how it works.

When you do a job for someone at Fiverr they pay $5 for it. You get paid $4 of that $5.

So what I did was offer my services as a beta reader. I would read up to 10,000 words of a person’s book and tell them my thoughts. I charge $5 for said services. I ended up doing about 20 of these jobs and had $100 credit in my Fiverr account.

A good editor at Fiverr cost you about $5 per chapter. My book had 15 chapters. If I was to buy the services it would cost me $75. But since I already had the $100 credit in my account, I got my editing services for free.

So basically again how this works is, you offer your services (of any kind) on Fiverr and then use the money you earn to get your book edited for free. It doesn’t get any easier than that.

How to be a successful author

So you want to be a successful author? That’s great. But the only way you can really do this is to … WRITE! I know that sounds to simple, but it’s true. The more work you have out there, the more likely you are to be noticed and gain new fans.

Write a series of short stories and offer them for free. How many stories do you need? Well there is no set number but there is no reason not to release several stories this year. When you finish each story and they are with the editor getting your final spelling / grammar checks you can be on your social networking sites promoting the story that will be released soon.

Being a successful author is about building your brand. To build your brand than you need to get out there and be seen.

In every book do you provide a way for your fans to find you? Do you include links to your Facebook page, your Twitter and Google+ account? Do you tweet often and post updates on your Facebook and Google+ account at least 2 or 3 times a week?  If you build up a big following, every time you release a new book, you can send out an update and get instant sales!

So you finally write your novel and you’ve re-read it, and re-written parts of it 1,000 times. Now what? You send it to your editor and you wonder, just how much do book editors change?

The answer really depends on you and your own skill. The obvious thing they are looking for are major flaws in spelling and grammar but that isn’t all. They also look for mistakes in your story. For example in one place you may say that a girl is named Jennifer while in another part of the story you call her Nadine. Same girl that you changed the name of and missed the change in that one part. In one part of your story you may say the year is 1907 and then talk about World War II. Well obviously that’s a problem since World War I didn’t even begin until 1914.

But more than just the obvious mistakes, they are also looking at how well the sentences flow together and they also look for areas you can improve or expand on. Maybe there is a part of your book that might benefit from further describing the surroundings. They might also suggests minor restructuring where a bunch of secondary characters should be presented earlier in your story.  Or maybe in your book you are at a wedding and you write three paragraphs about your dress. Your editor will probably cut that down drastically.

Trust me when I say be appreciative of an editor helping you out with weak or awkward sentence structure.

They won’t change the heart of your story but they will help you present it in a way that the reader will enjoy it more … at least that is what a good editor will do. You can hire anyone to fix your spelling and grammar, but a great editor will fix your story in a way that makes the words you wrote, your story sing.

By the way, if you think you can’t afford an editor, you are wrong. Dead wrong. You can’t afford not to have one. You can find them super cheap at places like Fiverr.com and Odesk.com. Don’t publish your book without getting at least one strong edit!

Paperback is a general term which includes both mass-market paperbacks–that’s the small ones about 4 inches by 7 inches–and trade paperbacks, about 7 by 10 or so. (There’s some variation.) Mass market often cost about $6.99 or $7.99. Trade paperbacks cost more, usually $13.99 – $16.99. They’re somewhat easier to read, with a larger font, bigger gutters, and more widely-spaced lines, and are usually on better-quality paper which won’t yellow as quickly as mass-market paper, and made with better glue so the pages stay put.

Hardcover is better quality paper, and of course the hard cover which protects the pages. It’s often no easier on the eyes than trade paperback, though, and it costs substantially more.

Since I’m not hard on books, I usually opt for trade paperback unless it’s a book I’m sure I want to own indefinitely and will probably reread many times. Then I go for hardcover.

Mass market paperbacks tend to have cheaper paper, no (or very few) illustrations, smaller print, and a smaller page dimension.

Trade paperbacks (what your program is referring to as simply “paperbacks”), on the other hand, are usually printed on better paper, have easier-to-read print (even if the font size is the same, there’s often more spacing between the lines) and are more likely to have the illustrations that the hardcover version has.

Since there’s nothing definite about most of this, consider how big the book is and how much it costs.  We’re all familiar with that standard pocket paperback book size.  I don’t have a ruler handy, but I’d estimate it as being about seven inches tall by about 4 inches wide.  That’s a mass market paperback.  Those larger, odd-sized paperbacks that don’t fit neatly on my smaller bookshelves are trade paperbacks.  I’ve also noticed that mass market paperbacks all tend to cost either $6.99 or $7.99; trade paperbacks are usually over $10.  (I’m sure that’s not an absolute rule, but it certainly applies to most of the books I own!)

For posterity: “Mass market paperbacks” (or “MMPB”) are small, (relatively) inexpensive paperbacks sold through venues other than traditional bookstores: drug stores, convenience stores, gift shops, and so forth. The biggest giveaway is the bar coding: in a traditional book, the bar code on the back is the EAN “Bookland” code. It will typically have the ISBN written above it and will begin “978” or “979”. In a mass market paperback, the bar code on the back will be a UPC code, and the Bookland EAN will be inside the front wraps.

That’s a bit technical, but try this: if you have a paperback, open the front cover. If a bar code is there, on the reverse side of the cover, it’s almost certainly considered by the publisher to be a MMPB. If the bar code on the back begins “978” or “979”, the publisher almost certainly does not consider it to be a MMPB.

Here’s an interesting topic I read recently on one of the Amazon author boards …. does the unusual spelling of a character name potentially hurt your book? Turns out the answer to that question is, yes it can!

There is Tina or Teena or Lisa or Lysa or Leesa, Tracy, Traci, Tracey, Tracei. In short, there are many unique and unusual ways you can spell a name but the question is, what way is best for your book? Asked me this question a few months ago and I would have said, what does it really matter? Spell your character name whatever you so desire. But after some research into it, I found out it really does matter.

From what I was reading an author gave out 20 preview copies of her book, each included two chapters of her book.  Half of them preview copies had the name spelled Tina, the other half had the name spelled Teena.  Othen that that the stories were identical.

The half that had the name spelled Tina came back with all positive reviews, not a negative thing to say about anything whereas the half that had the name spelled Teena came back with various negative comments. While not exactly an exact science, the supposed psychology behind this was that if something small bother you already such as the spelling of a name, even if you didn’t realize it was bugging you, you are more likely to leave negative feedback about other things in the book. While I can’t say for sure or not if that is true, I can say it is indeed an interesting  subject matter to research and something to consider overall when it comes to naming our beloved characters.

With the massive success of 50 Shades of Grey there has been a huge influx of indie published books in the erotic fiction category but that begs the question, in the world of self published fiction, which actually sells better, romance books or erotica?

The answer is ROMANCE and the reason is because sites like Amazon remove “erotica” from their basic search results. So if someone wants to search for an ‘erotic’ novel they have to actually type in the name of the book.

There is a massive erotica market out there, but unless you have a huge budget to market the book yourself, what are you going to do? Of course there are other places to sell your book besides Amazon but in the end we all know that Amazon has become the largest retailer of books.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone ask the question, “How many words are in a book“. Here is what I’ve been able to find out with a little bit of Googlized research. 10,000 to 50,000 words is a novella. These are your typical $.99 type books. 50,000 to 150,000 words are in your standard book and tend to do best around the $1.99 to $4.99 price range. Anything more than 150,000 words is considered epic and can limit your readership. I personally love to get lost in a great book but some people just don’t want a really long read so keep that in mind. But just to be clear this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t publish an epic novel, Twilight was considered “epic” in terms of how many words it had. So it can be a success.

So instead of asking yourself, is my book to long or is my book to short, focus instead on the overall story. Don’t worry if you are writing to much or not enough. Worry if what you are saying will entertain and delight your readers because in the end that is really all that matters.