Archive for the ‘Success Tips’ Category

My good buddy and editor Joshua Essoe has succeeded in pulling me out of guest blog hibernation. The result is this incredibly strange post I wrote over at The Fictorians for those considering going indie. It features some good resources, and even a little advice (warning: the advice comes from me).

I need to add a lot of new bloggers’ reviews of The Black God’s War to my ‘book’ page above, but here’s one I have to share today. This one felt like a soul kiss. Thank you, Nina Post! It’s all good. We’re both married.

p.s. the email notifications haven’t been working on my blog recently. If you got an email about this one, there are three recent posts you may have missed, including a post about where the heck I’ve been for the last five months. EDIT: Those darn notifications still aren’t working. Hmph.

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Reddit is pretty cool. It’s a massive online community with countless  forums devoted to different topics.

I’m hosting an AMA (“ask me anything”) in the r/Fantasy forum as an independent author who debuted my first novel this year. Here’s the link to the thread, and you’re invited to participate or just read along if you’re curious about my book or indie publishing. You can also win a trade paperback copy of my book.

So far, I’m the only indie author who has hosted an official AMA in this huge r/fantasy forum. It’s incredible to see my name on the list of AMAs with Joe Abercrombie and Patrick Rothfuss above, and Robin Hobb and Brandon Sanderson below. One of these names is not like the others. Thanks for your support, r/fantasy!

p.s. 2012 is gonna kick ass. Thanks to Monique Martin for the graphic.


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Some of you already know that I’m a co-host at the Adventures In SciFi Publishing podcast. Last week, in honor of the release of my novel, my friends Shaun and Brent interviewed, well, me. We discussed my early background, how I got into writing fantasy fiction, my influences, The Black God’s War, and the state of publishing today.

Here’s episode 130 of AISFP. Thanks for listening!

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My dearest homeys, if you aren’t following David Gaughran’s truly outstanding blog, Let’s Get Digital, then you probably missed my guest blog post over there, Using “Free” to Generate Pre-Release Buzz. You can also check out the comments for bonus discussion.

David said some nice things about me, all of them lies:

One of the criticisms that self-publishers face is that they rush their work out. Sometimes it’s bad covers, or poor editing, but sometimes the book just wasn’t ready to be published.

Today’s guest poster, Moses Siregar III, understands the importance of making sure your book is the best you can possibly make it before you sent it out into the world.

Rather than be frustrated by seeing other indie writers dive in and rack up sales, Moses never rushed his work, instead taking the time to assiduously build his platform in a number of interesting ways, all building up towards the release of his novel at the start of August.

But seriously, thanks, David!

David recently released a free ebook called Let’s Get Digital: How to Self-Publish and Why You Should. You can get it for free as a pdf from his website, or pick up a version for $2.99 from Amazon or Smashwords.

This guide contains over 60,000 words of essays, articles, and how-to guides, as well as contributions from 33 bestselling indie authors including J Carson Black, Bob Mayer, Victorine Lieske, Mark Edwards, and many more.

Did I mention that I recommend following his outstanding blog? Because it really is that good.
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Suvudu recently posted an hour-long video of Terry Brooks speaking at an Oregon library. Suvudu titled their post: “Terry Brooks – Setting as Character,” but a different part of his talk snagged my attention.

Question put to Terry Brooks: What’s your favorite of all the books you’ve written?

Terry BrooksTerry Brooks: What’s my favorite book?

The one I’m working on right now. Which is going to be the best book I’ve ever done. Which is what I tell myself with every book I write. The contract I have with readers is very simple. I will always give you my best effort. And my best effort will always be geared toward saying that this book will be at least as good as the last book I wrote, if not better. You may not see it that way when I get done, but that’s the goal.

Because I’ve read too many writers, and I’m sure you can speak to this too, who write four or five really good books and then suddenly they take a vacation. And you think, what’s this? I just spend $25 on this book that looks like some kind of retread or half an effort. It’s irritating.

Or, as some of my favorite writers do, they write 300 really good pages and then they write a really bad ending. Which is unforgivable–unforgivable! That’s my contract with you, though. I will never do that, and if I do you should call me on it. I don’t want to have to go into a room full of readers at any point in my life and defend myself because I didn’t put forth my best effort and I know it. I want to be able to say, “At the time I wrote that book, this is the best I could do, and I think it’s a pretty good book and this is why I think it’s a pretty good book.”

Shawn Speakman filmed the video at Terry Brooks’ request. Three cheers for Shawn and Terry!
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If you want to succeed, hang out with unsuccessful people. Er, am I remembering that right?

If you want to get somewhere, don’t ask for directions. Wait, that’s not how it goes.

If you want to master something, don’t learn from the mistakes of the masters. Hm. That just sounds wrong.

Because I don’t subscribe to the above philosophies, I’ve attended two of the Superstars Writing Seminars. I went there to hang out with some bestselling science fiction and fantasy authors to soak up their best advice about the business of writing. These events last three full days, and they’re chock full of great information.

I could never do justice to everything there is to learn from these seminars in one blog post, but here’s one thing I learned.

Successful writers don’t just write, they write their ____ off.

Brandon Sanderson writes a few books a year, making time to squeeze Wheel of Time tomes into his schedule. Kevin J. Anderson dictates his stories into a digital recorder while hiking the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. He also rents hotel rooms to get away from everyone (p.s. if my wife is reading this, I love you, Honey!) and write his ____ off. Eric Flint writes in binges that last for weeks and during those times, he is dead to the outside world.

Kevin J. Anderson says something obvious, but powerful: The top professionals in any respected field (medicine, law, you name it) WORK real, disciplined, long hours at their jobs, and then enjoy the fruits of their labor. When you have a ‘real job,’ you keep a schedule and you punch that clock. Serious writers shouldn’t expect to do any less. Kevin recently talked to the Writing Excuses guys about this very thing.

David Farland (Dave Wolverton) is also a Superstars’ presenter. In addition to hanging out with Dave at two Superstars seminars, I also attended his “Writer’s Death Camp” last November. What I’ve learned from Dave is hard to summarize in a flashy bullet point. I’ve learned from him so many fine points on the craft and business of writing, little things that can make all the difference. If you subscribe to his free Daily Kick emails, you’ll see what I mean.

A funny thing happened in one of Dave’s Daily Kick emails last week. Out of the blue, he said some exceedingly kind things about me and my work in his Daily Kick about “The Dangers of Self-Publishing.” Yep, this was a nice surprise. Now the following quote lives at the top of my ebook’s Amazon page:

“Moses is a fine writer and is deserving of success, and I think that it will follow … maybe his project will turn him into the next Amanda Hocking. Personally, I really enjoyed Moses’s work.”
–David Farland, NYT Bestselling author of The Runelords

Though this came as a surprise to me, this quote would’ve never happened had I not made a decision to hang out with some successful authors, to appreciate what they had to share with me (p.s. thanks, Dave), and to just be myself around them.

Here’s another cool thing I lucked into. At the end of the first Superstars seminar, I was hanging around the nearly empty conference room when I saw Brandon Sanderson reading the first few pages of someone’s manuscript. So I walked over to listen to the advice Brandon had for (someone who is now my friend) Joshua Essoe. Brandon asked if I had something he could read.

Uh. Yeah?

So he did. He gave me some great feedback on my first chapter, told me the story was strong enough that he’d continue reading if he was an editor, and then helped me with a technical issue I was struggling with at the time. I can’t tell you how how helpful his comments were.

Then at the second Superstars seminar, I got to sit and have dinner with Brandon and a handful of other seminar attendees. I got to pick his brain about which editors might be a good or a bad fit for me at different publishing houses, and again I learned a lot (thanks again, Brandon).

I also interviewed Brandon, Howard, and Dan from Writing Excuses at the recent conference, as well as Sherrilyn Kenyon (that interview will be up any day now at Adventures In SciFi Publishing), and I got to film a couple episodes of Writing Excuses (thanks, guys) that featured Mary Robinette Kowal and David Farland.

If there’s a takeaway from my ramblings, maybe it’s to spend time with writers you emulate, whether it’s at workshops, seminars, conferences, blogs, or even on Facebook and Twitter. Don’t do it with the mindset of getting anything from them, other than an education. Be yourself, be positive and grateful, and something–hopefully whatever you need most–will definitely rub off on you.

Oh yeah. And if you want to be a writer, write your ____ off.

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If you don’t subscribe to David Farland’s Daily Kick, a free email service that shares outstanding advice about the business and craft of writing, what are you waiting for? (look for the sign-up box on the right, through that link.)

Here’s today’s installment. I decided to mention it because, well, you’ll see. He mentioned me. This will give you an example of a wonderful free service Dave offers. I may write a blog post later this week to add to some of the points Dave made.

Everything below the following line is from David Farland’s Daily Kick, 2/14/11 (and not written by me):

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David Farland’s Daily Kick in the Pants—The Dangers of Self-Publishing

Friday I wrote about Amanda Hocking’s tremendous rise to becoming a bestseller through self-publishing her e-books. I’ve heard from a lot of fans lately who want to give that a try, and by all means, if you think that you’ve got the chops, give it a try.

But let me warn you of the danger first. Unfortunately, you are not your own best critic. Nor is your spouse or your mother or your neighbor your best critic. As a result, when you think that you’re ready to publish, in most cases you’re not.

Time and time again, I find writers who are almost delusional. They’re like the singers that tried out in Hollywood last week on American Idol. They were by far the worst that the country had seen. For some reason, Hollywood attracts delusional people.

Because writers aren’t their own best critics, we often hear stories like the one told by Raymond Feist recently. He got a knock on his door, and when he answered, the fellow at the door said, “I’ll be you’ve never talked to a real author before!” Ray, who has sold millions and millions of books, just laughed and said, “Buddy, I think you’ve got the wrong house.” But the fellow persisted and showed Ray his two self-published novels. They were printed to a high quality, which showed that the fellow had some taste, and so Raymond bought them and the fellow went off to schlep his works door-to-door. Raymond then read the first few pages of one and said that it was one of the worst novels that he’d ever seen.

I’ve done that same experience on more than one occasion, picked up a self-published novel only to see a dozen horrible mistakes—everything from typos to misspellings and just genuinely terrible prose—all within two pages.

So I’m worried that in the rush of self-published authors this year, we’re going to see a lot of people embarrass themselves. More importantly, you might actually hurt your career.

Let’s say that you put up a book that isn’t quite ready, and it gets twenty reviews on line, and most of them pan your book. How easy do you think it will be to sell your next book, or the one after that? Those negative reviews will never go away, and they’ll dog you. Indeed, they’ll destroy the name that you’re trying to create for yourself.

So don’t rush to publish in e-book format.

Please be aware that I’m not saying “Don’t publish.” I’m just urging you to be careful.

Last year I won the Whitney Award for Best Novel of the Year with a book that I self-published. When I won the award, Howard Tayler, the self-published author of the famous Schlock Mercenary cartoons, said, “You know, Dave, you’ve just done a world of damage. You self-published for all of the wrong reasons: your mother begged you to do it. You didn’t want to take your regular publisher’s advice. Then to top it off, you sold all of your stock, got great reviews, and won a major award. I keep telling people not to self-publish, even though I’m making my own living at it, and now you come along and just reinforce the wrong message.”

Howard is right of course. Both of us were publishing to small market shares, where self-publishing made a little more sense, and we both succeeded, just as Amanda Hocking is succeeding, and some of you are succeeding.

One of my friends and past students, Moses Siregar, I just found out, is at the top of Amazon’s sales charts with his epic fantasy THE BLACK GOD’S WAR. Moses is a fine writer and is deserving of success, and I think that it will follow. But Moses also knows the risks. I recently heard some other New York Times bestselling writers tell him, “Moses, don’t self-publish!” They pointed out the risks. I then told him, “You know, Moses, I hate to say this, but I think you’ll do it. You’re savvy enough to know what you need to do in order to self-publish well, and I think that you should go ahead.” Now, four weeks later, he’s doing great. So go check out his book at:

http://www.amazon.com/Black-Gods-War-Introducing-ebook/dp/B003Z0D2HK

It will only cost a dollar, and if Moses gets the velocity he needs, maybe his project will turn him into the next Amanda Hocking. Personally, I really enjoyed Moses’s work.

Oh, and don’t self-publish! For every one who succeeds, there will be hundreds who will destroy a potential career. Recognize that when you self-publish, you might just be gambling with your career.

Announcing:

Ken Scholes will be speaking to us next on the Farland’s Author’s Advisory Confernce Calls and you are invited to attend at no charge, as always. Mark your calendar, the date is Thursday, February 24th, 9:00 p.m. EST.

Ken is the author of LAMENTATION, and the topic will be “Self-Awareness: an author’s first best tool.”

To get on the call, dial 1-218-862-7200. When the line picks up, dial the calling code, which is 245657. The call is free, long distance charges apply.

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David Farland

David Farland

I attended David Farland’s “Writers’ Death Camp” last month and enjoyed a rip-roarin’ conversation with him about:

  • Dave’s Midas Touch
  • Stephanie Meyer
  • Working with Blizzard on Starcraft
  • The Superstars Writing Seminar
  • Publishing Trends
  • Changes in the Market
  • Ebooks
  • Self-Publishing
  • The good commercial potential for Young Adult
  • Writers with million-dollar houses in Rumania that they don’t know about.

Wanna hear it? Here it go.
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There’s a wealth of free video footage from the first Superstars Writing Seminar available on YouTube. Some of the topics on that YouTube channel include publishing myths, agents, self-promotion, increasing writing productivity, economics for writers, novel contracts, collaboration, self-publishing, networking, and many more (including Dan Wells on story structure).

I attended the actual seminar in March of this year, had a great time meeting other writers (aspiring and pro), and found the material enlightening. More than anything for me, it was a priceless chance to look inside the minds of a handful of best-selling authors and to try to absorb as much as possible by osmosis. I also got to ask more questions than I should’ve been allowed to ask!

There will be another Superstars Writing Seminar January 13th-15th, 2011 in Salt Lake City, UT. The presenters are Kevin J Anderson, Brandon Sanderson, Sherrilyn Kenyon, David Farland, Eric Flint, and Rebecca Moesta. I found all of these speakers to be very friendly and helpful at the first event (all of them were at the first event, except for Sherrilyn Kenyon). I even video-interviewed a few of them while I was there (Sanderson, Farland/Wolverton, and Flint)

At the event, I also filmed some attendees who talked about their opinion of the seminar. One of them was Marc Scott Zicree, a multi-talented Hugo and Nebula award nominee. Here’s Marc talking about the Superstars seminar (the YouTube channel that the testimonial is on also has three others, including one from the awesome Mignon Fogarty, a.k.a. Grammar Girl):

I’m going to attend the next event as well, because anything worth hearing once is worth hearing twice (thick skulls and all that). I hope to see you there! By the way, if you can’t make it, they also sell the complete audio and video recordings from the first seminar.
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Kevin J Anderson

Kevin J Anderson

I’m going to just copy and paste this info from the email that David Farland just sent out to his email list. Everything below was written by David Farland.

Free Conference Call with Kevin J. Anderson Tomorrow Night (Wednesday)

With over 100 books published, Kevin J. Anderson is well-known as a prolific writer. After talking with his fellow writers over the years, he has compiled a list of techniques to increase writing productivity. He’ll share these “Eleven Tips” on a special conference call, discuss his writing process, and also take questions on November 10th at 9:00 PM, Eastern Standard Time. Call 1-218-862-7200. When the system picks up, enter the code 245657.

Instructions on how to use the phone system are at http://farlandswritersgroups.com/viewtopic.php?f=101&t=1219

If there is still time at the end of the call, Kevin may also give us the inside scoop about the 2011 Superstars Writing Seminar.

We present this to you from www.FarlandsWritersGroups.com. The call is free; all you pay for is your long distance charges. Writers Groups forum members are invited to join the call up to fifteen-minutes early for a discussion and the author might come on early as well.

Please help us publicize this event by sharing it on your facebook and Twitter pages, as well as your blog and any forums you visit or writing groups to which you belong. Go the extra mile and post it at bookstores, libraries, etc. We appreciate any way you will help us spread the word. Thank you.

P.S.–David Farland will be talking to us next on November 30th at the same time, phone number and conference code number. David will be talking about writing the basic parts of the story.
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