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My Freedom Flame

Motivating Writers Worldwide

Why You Should Hand Out A Free Series Starter or E-Book

I know the ruse when it comes to writing a book. It’s a long process and it’s by far not the easiest thing to do. Couple writing with life which consists of a dreaded (and often stupid) day job, housekeeping, and anything else life throws at us and we’re lucky to have time to write a paragraph a day if that. Because of this, we might feel handing out a free series starter or e-books means writing is more of a love of the labor these days than helping means make an end.

But I’m here to tell you it’s not the case.

What if I told you that your freebies will lead to something greater over time, especially if you’ve written a series?
On my Lord of Columbia Series Site, you can clearly see I’ve done this with the Neo Skyehawk Series being set to permanently free, mainly on Prolific Works, but also anywhere not named Amazon, but only because you have to fight with Amazon to set a book for free and that takes a while.

My Neo Skyehawk Series is nothing more than a set of free novelettes/novellas related to the parent Lord of Columbia Series. It serves as a bit of a history lesson, which connects the two series.

 

Why Freebies?

As I mentioned above, freebies lead to something greater over time.

Face it, we live in a culture that loves two things:

1) Handouts

2) Binging

Here’s the kicker, however.

People will pay for something so they can binge, but if you’re an author who’s independent or a no-name why would anyone in their right mind buy your books if there are zero reviews and have only sold a few copies?

Sure, your cover and description might be captivating but what am I getting if I open the book?

Plot errors? Grammar? Transitions?

I don’t know because no one in the review section told me anything. I couldn’t trust the book, and most people won’t.

There’s nothing wrong with people as to why they aren’t buying your book.

They WILL buy your book, or books and yes, you can and will make a living on being an indie-author, but will likely take two to four years to get to that point, which is why most indie-authors give up on making a living off their writing.

Think about it: traditionally published authors go through the same ruse and torment, as once a book is accepted for publication, it usually takes about two years before it’s on store shelves.

Indies aren’t getting charged extra. We just upload our books onto Amazon and other platforms without editorial or any kind of reviews. At least if we’re just starting out and haven’t taken the last three years to build an author platform. Some indies sell a lot of copies of their first book early on, yes, but bear in mind it’s highly likely they spent years building a platform first. Again, it evens out.

 

The Connection

Is there a connection between platform building and freebies?

Of course.

Or, you can do like me and upload a couple paid works to Amazon, then create your freebies as freebies are excellent platform-building methods.

Lord of Columbia Series is also a great way to build a platform in addition to this site.

And social media will freaking love you as well.

Why?

Because if I’m on Twitter and scrolling down my newsfeed I’m much more likely to download a freebie e-book Author X has uploaded to Prolific Works or wherever and more likely to stop following that annoying Author Y who keeps dishing out their Amazon buy link every three hours.

So, if I download, read, and like the book, Author X gained a fan and probably an email address to add to their ever-growing list of email addresses that they can then send a mass email to any time a new book is released.

Prolific Works lets you connect your email provider as well, so this works in a smooth manner.

Notice how I barely mentioned social media except as a means to dish out free offerings to your followers. Sure, it’s important and all, but having a couple blogs plus a digital item to hand out is going to take your platform so much further than talking about writing on social media.

Google is a powerful tool, so if you get indexed in Google, think about how many searches for your article’s keywords that happen every single day.

For instance, ‘free series starter’ is a keyword here. If you have the right keyword tool, you can find how many people search for your chosen keyword on a monthly basis. If 400 people search for it, that’s 400 possible eyes on this article per month, and this doesn’t count the other articles I’ve written.

When this blog matures and I have over one-thousand articles, and say my keyword searches average 200 searches each, that’s 200,000 possible eyes per month, and 2,400,000 possible eyes per year. If even one percent of that number clicked through to my site, it’s 2,000 visitors per month. Not a great number, but definitely 2,000 possible fans per month.

Now imagine if I have something for them.

Exactly.

 

Your Freebie Can Be Anything

While an actual book or books can go a long way, if you’re still uncomfortable with handing them out, your freebie can still be something else. Perhaps you created a world and you have notes that you used to build the world. You can use it as a freebie.

Maybe you want to create something to give readers a behind-the-scenes look at your work.

There are so many possibilities here it’s endless. Even exclusive inside looks to your books, or the making of your book. You might even hand them deleted scenes or earlier drafts of your book.

Anything is possible here.

I like handing out the Neo Skyehawk novelettes because while they’re still challenging to make, they’re far easier than actual novels. Also, Neo, Seneca, and many others from the series are mentioned in Lord of Columbia when the parent series’ important plot points intersect with it, so to tell the actual story piques a reader’s interest, but that’s my preference. Yours can be anything.

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How to Become an All-Star Self-Editor

Quick Hits on Self-Editing

 

Okay, so I’m giving you a little rundown today regarding the rules on self-editing. As I mentioned in my previous article, this isn’t a complete rundown and it’s important you find a mentor fast.

However, it’s also important that you have an idea of what not to do as an author. Don’t follow these rules and you might have a hard time finding a reading audience. Follow them, and you’ll be set.

 

Rule #1: Show, Don’t Tell

It was cold doesn’t paint a picture in the reader’s mind, but saying Cain fastened his cloak around him as he turned his face against the wind definitely does. Lira didn’t just say something angrily; she narrowed her eyes and thrust her hands to her sides. Cheesy examples, but you get the point.

In show, don’t tell, just show the character(s) in action and you’ll be golden. If you go through your manuscript and are reading things like ‘she was scared,’ or ‘he was ecstatic,’ show this through action.

 

Rule #2: Omit Needless Words

Okay, take a look at the show, don’t tell section again and take note of the phrase ‘definitely does.’ Definitely could’ve been omitted. Always omit words that tell the reader something.

Why?

Because we need to trust our readers actually know what’s going on. See, actually could’ve been omitted here.

Because could’ve been omitted, too. We need to trust that our readers know what’s going on. Hmmm, sounds better. We need to trust our readers know what’s happening.

When we omit, our sentences are shorter. Our paragraphs are also shorter. Our words have more power. I could’ve said, ‘our words now have more power,’ but the reader knows our words ‘now’ have more power, so we can just say our words have power.

 

Rule #3: The Power of Said

“Why are we going here?” Savannah asked.

The question mark shows the reader a question’s asked. We don’t have to rehash on the fact.

In most cases, readers don’t need to be told someone asked or exclaimed. The question mark and exclamation point do their jobs.

Instead, just say said. People don’t grunt, cough, wheeze, or croak dialogue. They say things.

While my preference is to omit as many dialogue tags as I can, there are many situations where we can’t, like if a scene contains more than two people.

 

Rule #4: Cut the Throat Clearing

It’s a fancy term for overloading the book with backstory. I made this mistake during my first drafts of Northern Knights. These days, too much backstory will scare readers away. We live in a fast-paced society these days, and our books must be likewise.

Instead, get straight to the action. I learned this during my later drafts of Northern Knights, which eventually made up the final manuscript.

If backstory is important in your novel, tell it through action, or through dialogue. Show a conversation between your characters, but don’t show it through a thought bubble as the main character looks into the mirror and reminisces on how he or she got to such a stage.

 

Rule #5: On the Nose Writing

Hollywood loves this term. It basically means describing a familiar location. For instance, in Northern Knights, some of my settings include campus dining halls, emergency rooms, and hotel lobbies.

Do I really have to go into detail with any of these places?

Think along the same lines. If your book takes place in middle-class suburbia, do you really need to explain the neighborhood?

Unless something is there that is important to the story, you don’t have to get crazy descriptive with settings everyday people are familiar with.

 

Rule #6: 1 + 1 = ½

Two adjectives are nowhere near as powerful as one adjective, strong nouns, or strong verbs.

Further, when a reader reads a work, few of them are interested in picturing a character’s every detail. In Northern Knights, the reader knows both Cain and Lira are in top shape due to the fact they’re both college athletes. I don’t have to say ‘Cain stood at a compact five feet, seven inches, with a ripped, six-pack of abs, ringlet hair that fell into his hazel eyes, and possessed pasty white skin.’

The reader knows from page one that Cain is a college athlete. They’re already picturing an athletic-looking kid.
A few pages later, Lira’s athletic physique appeared in the doorway. Again, I don’t have to describe Lira’s toned, somewhat muscular arms, chiseled cheekbones, and defined legs. The reader knows.

Just hint at description and the reader will get it. Remember, in a fast-paced society, the reader is more interested in the action, the story plot, more than they are description.

 

Rule #7: Simple over Complex

Choosing a simple word over a complex one will always win you readers. Unless you’re writing a piece for scholars, go with the common words. For fiction writers, this is even more important, as average people are reading your work.

 

Rule #8: Don’t be Redundant

Please, don’t add anything unnecessary. He clapped his hands, for instance, is redundant. If someone’s clapping, do we really need to be told the character is clapping their hands?

She nodded her head is another one. He shrugged his shoulders. Okay, you get the gist.

Just stick to ‘he clapped,’ ‘she nodded,’ and ‘he shrugged.’

 

Rule #9: Get Rid of Ups and Downs

Unless it’s needed, of course. You don’t need to say they flew up into the air. They flew. They descended down the chute is unnecessary. They descended the chute. Looked up, looked down, etc. Eliminate all of it.

He got up, she sat down, etc. It can all be avoided.

 

Rule #10: Get Rid of That (and other words)

That, very, just, suddenly, only, etc. You don’t need to use any of these words. That is overused, and for every sentence containing ‘that,’ see how it regards without the word. Ditto for very, which in almost every case a stronger noun or verb can take the place of very.

Suddenly has no more impact than it would if the author just states what ‘suddenly’ happened. Suddenly, the metal put a hole through the wall is weaker than the author writing ‘the metal put a hole through the wall.

 

Rule #11: Your Reader Gets It

In other words, resist the urge to explain. Many novice authors think they have to explain their character’s every action. Cain sets the story in motion when he attacks Southpoint police forces in Northern Knights when they invade the hotel lobby in an effort to round up high school and college-aged kids.

There’s no need to explain Cain’s actions; the reader knows why Cain is acting, especially since they know about his desire to play pro sports and live a self-serving life.

The same goes for any situation, especially controversial ones.

Or, there are times the author is explaining every little detail, which again, can be avoided. Many novice authors will say this: He opened up the car door and sat down in the driver’s seat.

For one, you can eliminate up and down. For another, an author can say ‘he entered the car,’ or a similar type of word choice.

 

Rule #12: Again, Your Reader Gets It

Avoid quotations except in dialogue. Again, if you’re quoting something outside dialogue, it gives off the notion your reader doesn’t get it unless you mark it otherwise.

Newsflash: The reader will get it.

 

Rule #13: Stop Saying What Isn’t Happening

You don’t have to say ‘she didn’t respond,’ or ‘he wasn’t talking.’

Scott told Ashley to leave the room, but Ashley refused.

If the character didn’t commit the act, the reader knows it’s not happening. If Scott asks Ashley a question, and she turns and gazes out the window, don’t say Ashley’s saying nothing; we know.

The same goes for ‘he didn’t move,’ or ‘she didn’t follow her mother’s orders,’ or anything similar.

 

Rule #14: Nouns and Verbs Outlast Adjectives and Adverbs

They say adjective and adverbs contribute to lazy writing while strong nouns and verbs reign supreme. I’m here to tell you that is definitely the case.

I never knew this until I incorporated it into my writing, but when I did it added so much power the reader could paint an accurate picture in the mind.

Doesn’t ‘she ran quickly down the field’ sound inferior to ‘she bolted downfield?’

Or, it’s so much better to show something through action, as if you can allow the reader to visualize your book like they’re watching a movie rather than reading.

“I can’t stand this,” he said aggressively.

Or…

He slammed his phone on the table. “I can’t stand this.”

 

Rule #15: Don’t Hedge

Avoid hedging verbs. You don’t need to say ‘he almost smiled’ or ‘she almost laughed.’ They either did or didn’t.
Never write ‘he slightly grumbled,’ or ‘she kind of frowned.’

There’s no hedging when it comes to verbs. Verbs state action, so they either did something or they didn’t.

 

Rule #16: Literally Isn’t Figuratively

You don’t need to say her or she ‘literally died’ when meaning it in a figurative manner. The same goes for all figurative language.

If you mean something in a figurative manner, ensure you say it as such. Something like ‘I literally laughed until my ribs cracked’ is useless unless it really happened.

The same goes for anything of its kind.

 

Rule #17: Readers Don’t Care About Stage Direction

Related to on the nose writing, we don’t need to know everything that’s going on in the scene unless it has something to do with the story. If you find yourself giving off-stage direction that has nothing to do with the story, delete it.

Before describing any location, object, or action, ask yourself if it contributes to the story. If not, cut it.

 

Rule #18: Don’t Head Hop

This is a tricky one because it involves mastering point of view. Whose point of view is the story taking place in? Or better yet, the scene?

If the scene (or whole story) takes place in Cain’s point of view, but the author instead tells the reader what Lira is thinking, that’s called head hopping and it will confuse the reader.

You only need to convey the point of view character’s thoughts. I like picturing the point of view character as myself, only seeing my own thoughts and not knowing the thoughts of non-point of view characters.

The reader will know what the non-point of view characters are thinking with their actions the author describes. If Lira’s angry with Cain (point of view character), she’ll thrust her hands to her sides, or scoop her books and storm out of a room.

Always describe non-point of view characters’ emotions through action and you’ll be gold.

 

Rule #19: Stop the Clichés in Narration

You might have a character that speaks in clichés, and that’s cool. What you don’t need, however, is to narrate your story in clichés, as your writing will get old fast. Clichés are ideas or expressions that have become so overused they’ve lost their original meanings.

Avoid them in narration. It will tire the reader as clichés aren’t original. If you want a solid readership, make sure your writing style is something original. If not, you won’t last long in the writing craft.

 

Rule #20: Shayna and Savannah Didn’t Cut It

Okay, Savannah stayed, Shayna got written out.

Why?

Because while I proofread Swords of Destiny I kept getting the two names mixed up, even if their voices were distinct. Instead, I thought typo, then no, then another typo, followed by another false alarm.

Luckily, Shayna had a group of friends in Northern Knights.

Enter Kiya, one of Shayna’s mind traveling best friends.

The voice remained the same. The character was the same. I just changed the name and altered the character’s appearance somewhat. And you got Kiya while Shayna stayed in North Columbia.

How Rookie Indie-Authors Achieve Success on a Limited Budget

Did you all miss me?

Yes, I took a one month hiatus in the middle of winter. Hibernation, so to speak. Er…not really. Spent a lot of time editing for the final book in the Original Lord of Columbia Trilogy entitled Missing in Columbia which will be out soon….very soon. Also, I was hard at work on my affiliate blog and of course, Lord of Columbia Series blog, but I didn’t forget about My Freedom Flame.

So, last month I spoke of how indie-authors can create a plan and today I hope to expand on the subject as to how rookie indie-authors can achieve success on a limited budget. I know a lot of us are doing the following:

1. Working a day job they’d rather be without.

2. Drowning in debt.

3. Refinancing or flat out defaulting on loans.

4. Have this urge to succeed in writing but we don’t know how we can build a business without capital.

Don’t worry, I’m here to give you some advice.

Want to know a secret?

Just a few months ago I was down to my last seven-hundred dollars, so I can relate to your pain.

I joined the Wealthy Affiliate Community and learned to blog. I learned how to at least get my site’s name into Google and Bing search engines. It was a cheap investment that started at a measly $19 a month; best nineteen dollars I’ve ever spent.

In fact, it taught me a lot of cool stuff and guess what?

You too can succeed on a limited budget.

As I’ve mentioned before, I also joined the Jerry Jenkins Writers Guild in November 2017, which transformed my writing one-hundred-fold. His Guild isn’t open at the moment as it’s only open for a limited time throughout the year, but if you have a shot to join, I suggest you join.

Want to go inside the numbers?

Wealthy Affiliate costs me $585/year, and if I decide to go annual, $359/year.

Jerry’s Guild cost me $370 for the year.

So, we’re looking at a grand total $955 total throughout the year.

Throughout twenty-three months if I were to combine the two.

No, you don’t have to invest thousands in courses, so if you’re on a limited budget, follow me down the list here.

 

Invest in a Cost-Effective Book Cover

Did you know all three of my book covers for the Lord of Columbia Original Trilogy are pre-made?

The cover for Northern Knights cost $85. Ditto for Missing in Columbia. Swords of Destiny cost $95.
Grant total of $265.

What?

You don’t have that much, either?

No worries.

Back when I was vetting for a book cover, and you will vet, believe me, I came across a few that were as low as $30, so you can definitely find something to fit your budget here.

I would not hire someone from Fiverr for a book cover as I’ve seen them and you’d be better off making one for free, which you can do if you go to Canva. However, I recommend you not use Canva to create covers for books you plan to sell. Freebie e-books are fine, but not paid books.

 

Learn How to Self-Edit

While hiring a professional editor would be top-notch, they can charge as much as .02 cents a word. Had I hired someone to edit Northern Knights, it would’ve cost $1,600. Some of the better ones charge more, as much as a nickel per word. Yikes!

Most of us don’t have that kind of cash, but don’t worry, because self-editing really isn’t that hard once you learn tricks to the trade.

Which is why I recommend the Guild, something I tried myself and enjoyed learning. Okay, I enjoyed learning some new stuff after I found that the first drafts of Northern Knights sucked, but still.

Take your pick: $370/year, or $1,500+ per book edit.

Again, for those of us on a budget, we have to be smart with our money.

$1,500 is a little much.

At the very least, invest in a book that teaches self-editing.

Whatever you do, don’t use this blog or any other free source of information as your only information. We can teach you some, but the best thing to do is always, always, always find a mentor; even a virtual mentor.

Grammar Checkers Don’t Break the Bank

Grammarly and Pro Writing Aid are my two favorites. Grammarly is the one I have built into my laptop and it’s saved me countless times. I really never go a day without it.

On the other hand, Pro Writing Aid does have a freebie tool on its site and if you have any questions, Pro Writing Aid has the answers. It’ll tell you if your writing is fast or slow-paced, whether you used too many glue words, and much more. It gives you sentence length, word frequency, and if you’re running a chapter of fiction through it, how much unnecessary back story you’re using up.

Grammarly is my top choice due to the fact it’s readily available and will point out errors within seconds. It catches things other grammar checkers can’t and it’s free to install.

So, if you’re self-editing, take your grammar to the next level here with Grammarly or Pro Writing Aid, as in time, you will thank yourself. It’s one thing to self-edit to make the work interesting, but it’s a completely different ballgame when it comes to finding you forgot to put ‘the’ where it’s needed, ‘a,’ or any similar word.

 

Book Promotion is Fairly Priced

Books Butterfly has a Silver Eagle campaign running for $50. JustKindleBooks, one I used last December, has an $18 package. Book Runes costs a simple $25.

I’ll never tell you to invest in promotion I haven’t personally used. I’ve used all three and I plan on using more in time.
The above equals a grand total of $93. Three cheap promo packages sold me a grand total of nearly 600 copies of Northern Knights on its free days. It didn’t really come out of the wash, but for $93, I’ll take it.

As a rookie indie-author on a limited budget, I’ll really take it. Especially when my KENP has steadily increased, meaning in time, the promo may end up paying for itself.

Even if you don’t have the budget for $93, there are other options as well. I’ve come across bknights, which is a Fiverr-based promo site that charges $5-$10 for basic promotion. Per Reedsy, they’re a good deal. I’ve never tried them when it comes to freebies, but it shows what can be done even on a small budget.

 

My Investments

Okay, so I joined Wealthy Affiliate for site building, keyword research tools, site networking, and SEO practice for $558, bought my Lord of Columbia Series domain for $14, so we’re at $572.

I joined the Writers Guild the year before this, which cost $370, so we’re up to $942.

Add in the $265, and you get $1,207. Add $93, and we get a grand total of $1,300 that I spent from November 2017 and will spend to November 2019. Divide this by twenty-five months and you get a total of $52/month I’m investing in my indie-author business.

Do you have $52/month to spare?

And again, if not, there are cheaper ways, but for me to create the highest-quality product on my limited budget, I squeaked out $77/month and I mean I squeaked it out.

So, rookie indies, just because you have a small budget doesn’t mean there’s no hope out there. There is hope, and trust me, you will thank yourselves when you invest in something important to you. Invest in something beneficial to you.

A Plan for Your Indie-Author Business

I’ve said it in at least two posts: most indie-authors never make a full-time living on their writing. The sad part is most of them can and would make such a living because I’m a firm believer in the fact most books will find an audience.

Even a small audience in an obscure genre or plot element will find a home. Somewhere, a readership will form. The problem is that many fail to build an indie-author business because they have not a single plan going into the game.

I’ve written a few posts in the past regarding goals and ways that indie-authors can boost their sales, but today I’m going even further and will outline a way for you to make a full-time living as an indie-author.

 

NOT A GET-RICH-QUICK SCHEME

I know, writing in all caps is equivalent to shouting, but it’s something I want to clear up immediately. What I’m about to show you is not a get-rich-quick scheme, so don’t think for a single second you can quit your dreaded day job and become a successful indie-author by simply implementing these steps.

My way will give you a roadmap that will get you to your destination if you take the time to treat your books or book series as a full-time business. Yes, if you have two full-time jobs, welcome to the big stage.

You think working 40-50 hours a week at a day job is tough, you haven’t seen anything yet.

Hey, if this were easy we’d all be doing it, so I hope you’re up for a challenge, which is another reason why a lot of aspiring (fill in the blank in a field of your choice) fails. They’re unwilling to put in the time and effort required to see their dream through.

Everyone wants to live their dream, but few are willing to put in the work to make their dream a reality. Ironically, these are the same people who are miserable at their own day jobs, so maybe they just don’t like to lift a finger and contribute in any way to society.

Sorry for the harsh words, but there are a lot of dreamers that just expect success to find them and these are the same people envious of those who are successful. Listen, unless your name’s Paul Menard, it’s not going to happen.

 

Storytime: Who is Paul Menard?

Paul Menard is a professional NASCAR driver whose father, John Menard Jr. founded Menards Inc., the third largest home improvement company in the nation behind Lowe’s and The Home Depot.

Long story short, Menard is a mediocre driver whose experienced one win at NASCAR’s highest level over the past fourteen seasons. His father sponsors his racecar and according to NASCAR legend Tony Stewart, Menard’s father “writes hefty checks to buy his son a ride.”

So, unless you’re Paul Menard, success finding you, albeit on a yearly basis of embarrassment over the course of thirty-six weeks, is rare. You’d be more likely to discover your favorite Pokémon exists.

This isn’t a get-rich-quick scheme, so if you think it is, go somewhere else. I want workers for this operation.

 

Step One: Identify a Target Audience

Who are you writing for?

If you read my dedication page for Northern Knights, I mention Libertarian America. Boom, done, Libertarian America is the target market.

BUT!

Libertarians tend to disagree with one another on what they perceive to be Libertarian issues and non-Libertarian issues. I can go on forever about this.

You have your Green Libertarians, Paleo-Libertarians (um, that’s me), Libertarian Socialists, the list is insane.

But I’m more Rothbardian in nature, hence my preference for the Paleo sector. Libertarians everywhere might disregard my work for not being Libertarian enough because:

a) My main character starts a war, and

b) The enemy colors happen to be anarchocapitalist and voluntarist colors of black and yellow…I’m a Cleveland Browns fan, people, hence the color scheme of this site, Lord of Columbia Series, which can be accessed here, and even my book covers.

Before I scare you all away with politics, I’m stating this because it shows how narrow a target audience must get. There are a lot of Libertarian sub-sectors, I’ll call them, but only select groups of these sub-sectors will be interested in the work.

Why do we even need a target audience?

Because people who read Nora Roberts aren’t reading anything by Todd Matthews, so why the hell would we bother with people who won’t read our work? Likewise, my reading audience probably won’t be reading Nora Roberts.

So, identify that target audience. Ask yourself who will read your book. These are the people who need to know your work exists but the only way they’ll find out is if you show them the work.

 

Step Two: Work Within a Niche

Much like a target audience, by working within a niche you can bring people to you either via a blog or social media. While a blog, in time, will grant you far more traffic and social media won’t even take you to minor celebrity status.

But search engines can, and it’s all about knowing how to blog within a niche to make your work visible.

This is true for both fiction and nonfiction writers. You need to have an audience for your work to become visible and a live blog to keep people coming back to your site while driving new traffic each day. Only a blog can do this. And it’s cost effective.

How much does a blog cost?

You need a domain and webhosting, plus a vibrant theme, so it’ll cost a few, but nowhere near what social media promotion will. Also, Google doesn’t charge for ranking unless you pay for AdWords, which will put your business at the top of a listing if a keyword within your blog is searched.

Now, this is a slow process and you’ll toil away in obscurity for a time, sometimes as long as twelve months. But you know what? Keep churning and moving, because Google will reward you. On my NFL blog, Get Pro Football Apparel, Google’s trust of my site has increased by 40% over the past five months.

The key isn’t to add content, but to add relevant content readers are searching for. Investing in a keyword tool like Jaaxy will work wonders here, as it shows you what readers are searching for.

 

Step Three: Promote, Promote, Promote

I’ve heard mixed reviews regarding Amazon KDP Select, but a lot of authors love it because it gives their books a chance for exposure with its Kindle Countdowns or Free Promotions.

For new authors, you will give away far more books than paid sells, but it’s worth it in the end.

One indie-author who makes a full-time living off their books earned about $95 in royalties their first year, but gave away a lot of books….thousands. They promoted like crazy when the free promo days came, and Amazon gives you five of these every ninety days. Kind of cool, right?

If you’re a new author, you need to be active in free promotion by signing your book up for promos with Freebooksy, Books Butterfly, or something similar.

 

Go For It

Okay, now that you know what it takes to make a formative business plan, it’s time for you to go for it and start creating.

I’ll be back with another installment soon with a more advanced plan that comes once your initial readership is exposed to your work.

Note that what you see here is the formative stage, which will take one to two years, I’m afraid, but if you keep going, make your way through the dark times, and stay consistent, you will find success. And I heard once you find success, it will follow you.

Help! The Editing Process Has Me Stumped!

For many of us writers, the editing process can be and is a drag. It’s the part most of us don’t look forward to, and we just wish we could write and upload first drafts to Amazon all day and all night, making a full-time living off passive income from now until, well, whenever to be honest.

The tips I’m going to give you today actually makes the editing process manageable, if not fun. It’s a fun process because for one, it allows you to read the story you created time and again. While the Law of Diminishing Returns eventually sets in after you read your story for the fifth or sixth time, rest assured that you will have a clean manuscript ready for publication.

In fact, if you can’t afford an editor, the best of which cost four-figures, you’re in even more luck, because this editing process is foolproof and one that I’ve tried for Northern Knights and Swords of Destiny.

Best yet, I managed to eliminate most if not all typos, plot holes, and even the teeniest of errors. I’m not saying my manuscript is error-free, but it’s as close to being so as possible.

 

Step One: Correct Major Errors

Okay, you’ve written your first draft, so now we’re looking for ONLY major plot errors. If you’d like, you can make grammatical corrections and even that of minor errors, but you’re looking for the major ones.

If you tend to write your entire manuscript without a next-day edit, which in my opinion is part of the writing process, you will find a lot of these.

If something like peoples’ names, places, geography, weather, ideas, and claims don’t match up here, you want to change them as soon as you get a chance.

Also, don’t freak if something doesn’t match up. Just look back into the story to find consistency. Keep your manuscript on a Word document and use the ‘Find’ tab if say, you suspect the same place or character has two different names, or if a character or even your narrations contradicts something previously.

Also, don’t read through your manuscript once. Do this TWICE, as it’s likely you will have missed a few major errors. For some odd reason, when we read through our own manuscripts, we can and will miss things, so don’t leave anything to chance and read twice before moving to Step Two.

 

Step Two: Correct Minor Errors

Okay, now you can move on to correcting minor errors. Some of these could be a character acknowledging another by mistake. For instance, in Missing in Columbia, Micah assures Cain of something, but just a few paragraphs later, Cain erroneously states, “Like Jed said.”

As you can see, going through Step One, I missed this crucial point since I looked for major errors. The example here is a minor plot hole.

Things such as character moods are big here as well. For instance, if Cain’s uncertain about something in one sentence but is confident in the very next, it can also be an example of inconsistency. Minor, obviously, but it will make more readers pause than you’d think.

If it’s hot out and Cain’s dripping with sweat one minute before being fully recovered the next, it’s another minor plot error. If Cain’s right-handed but is doing things with his left, it could be another error.

Jerry Jenkins once stated he had his characters wearing winter clothes in the Sahara during one of his drafts and it was only after going through his initial steps of revision did he spot it.

Read through your manuscript at least twice, and if you still find a good number of errors, read through one more time. I like to live by this rule: When you think you found your last error, read through your work again. You’re bound to find another.

 

Step Three: Grammar Errors

Here’s the fun part. Grammar errors.

Now, the good news is you might have spotted a few errors while reading through your manuscript, and if you have, great.

A lot of us will find and correct grammar errors while searching for both major and minor plot errors, myself included. As I said, feel free to fix them, just remain intent on the actual purpose you have of going through your manuscript searching for plot holes.

Now that we have most, if not all plot holes out of the way, grammar errors are the main attraction.

Always look for these words in general:

1. There, they’re, their

2. Your, you’re, you’ll

3. Its, it’s

4. Have, had

5. Is, are

6. Any word that describes possession. If something belongs to multiple people, the apostrophe is always after the ‘s’. If something belongs to one person, it comes before the ‘s’.

 

Step Four: Grammar, Part II: Omit Needless Words

This is a biggie, because every author thinks more is better. They couldn’t be more wrong. Less is more. Less is power. So make sure you reel in that power.

Omit the following words unless it makes sense to keep them:

1. Only

2. Just

3. That

4. Very

5. The

6. Of

7. Like

8. As

9. Suddenly

10. Had

11. Did

12. By

13. Be

14. Being

15. Was

Most of these words either contribute to passive writing or describe a verb that can be remedied by using a stronger verb.

‘That’ should only be used to clarify something. For any sentence with ‘that’ in it, eliminate the word and see if the sentence still makes sense without it.

Like and as are similes and should be eliminated.

Suddenly can be replaced with an author just stating what happened. The reader will know that an event suddenly happened.

Ditto for only. If there’s one, the reader knows there’s only one. And double ditto for just.

Had comes before verbs in passive writing. Eliminate it. ‘If someone had told Cain’ is passive. ‘If someone told Cain’ gets the same point across.

 

Step Five: Eliminate Adverbs

Anything ending in ‘ly.’ Seriously…..there is always a stronger noun or verb for your lazy adverb.

Cain ran quickly sounds terrible.

Cain darted cues the reader that he’s running faster than usual.

I like to use adverbs when a character speaks in dialogue, as it adds to their voice.

 

Speaking of which: Bonus Step: Add Voice

Yes, the final step is to add voice to your characters. Make sure your characters all sound different, to the point the reader can tell who’s speaking.

Don’t let your characters talk like you.

Instead, give them their own language.

Let them use certain words, phrases, and speaking styles.

Give your characters variety.

You might have a character who possesses attitude. Show it in their dialogue.

Another character might have a deadpan persona. Again, show it.

A third character might be the king of one-liners. Again, and again, show it.

Characters might have a short personality and will emphasize words and phrases often.

Give your characters voice and swagger so the reader knows who’s speaking and when.

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