How to write a great book review

I read a lot of website reviews of books by bloggers, and I have a few suggestions to share for those who want to write useful reviews. What is a useful review? It’s useful for the potential reader (who is wondering, Do I want to spend my precious time to read this or not?). It’s also useful to the book’s author (your review is well written and points to positive aspects – so is helpful to the author, who may wish to quote an excerpt from your piece). And it’s useful to you, the reviewer! As the review author, you want others to link toRead More →

Tea Ceremory

Now, let’s look at how to create good content on your website: posts that readers will want to read and share with others. There’s a clear set of reasons why you should maintain a blog. 1) You’re a writer. You have the skill to write engaging content. 2) Writing engaging content can impress key people: editors & agents if you’re pitching a manuscript; readers and reviewers if you’re promoting a book. 3) Your own website is the only place you control fully, over time, where you can present your ideas, yourself, and your literary products to the fullest. The challenge is to do this well and in a way that it won’t be a sinkhole of time and creative energy.Read More →

Musicians of Bremen fairytale

The great Ray Bradbury summed up the limitations of plot when he wrote, in Zen in the Art of Writing: Remember: Plot is no more than footprints left in the snow after your characters have run by on their way to incredible destinations. Plot is observed after the fact rather than before. It cannot precede action. It is the chart that remains when an action is through. That is all Plot ever should be. It is human desire let run, running, and reaching a goal. It cannot be mechanical. It can only be dynamic. – Ray Bradbury Writers take heed. The issue is not “plottingRead More →

Social Media Strategy

Connecting with influentials is a simple concept, yet may prove to be the most productive of your social-media efforts. Why? Let’s face it. You’re probably not the most popular or influential person on the Internet. How many followers do you have? How many will you have a year from now? If you’re starting from scratch (let’s say with 100–200 followers), you might hope to grow your fan base to 500–1,000 people in a 6–12 month span. Well worth doing. But for the first years, your greatest impact can come from working with influential people and organizations that already have a big fan base. Identify InfluentialRead More →

hobbit home

Creating Your Website: Your Home on the Web. The place to start your social-media strategy is on your website. This will be your home, your nexus. Bilbo Baggins had his hole in the ground in Hobbiton on Bagshot Row called Bag End. You have your website. No matter how far you roam, off to the far-off kingdoms of Facebook or Twitter, your website is the place you’ll return to after venturing There, and Back Again. It’s where you’ll hang your coat and store your dishes and relax in your comfy chair and smoke your pipe. It’s the place you control. You can have as manyRead More →

Not long ago, a writer emailed me to ask how to pick a good domain name for her author website. “Unfortunately,” she wrote, “my name is already taken and is actually hard to spell anyway.” She wanted advice. Good question! The question inspired me to look around at what some successful book authors were using for their website domain names. What is a Domain Name? To start, a domain name is the URL:; it goes in the browser address, and it’s what Google, Bing, etc. uses to send someone specifically to your site. (Currently, you don’t always need to include the www. part; itRead More →

I see posts that claim to list “great” award competitions for indie books. But they often contain mediocre contests, some of which I consider to be mostly profit-making ventures (and no, not for you) rather than serious award programs. I only respect and recommend a small number of indie book award contests. And I consciously avoid a batch of them. It’s hard to say that any award is “bad.” We all like awards. We all like praise, whether from the New York Times or from your mother. Or from an eccentric lady down the street. But if that eccentric neighbor decides to charge you $50Read More →

Japanese willow in spring

Get over yourself. You’re a writer. So write. Need some help getting over a desire for perfection? Self-doubt, seen in an obsession to perfect your prose in fears of being exposed as an unworthy imposter (we’ve all felt that, right?), can be debilitating. Here are some tips from great writers that have proved helpful to me. “No matter how hard you work on your writing, there will always be other writers who are better, faster, deeper, more popular, richer. And that’s fine.” – Jane Yolen “Perfection of means and confusion of goals seem, in my opinion, to characterize our age.” ~ Albert Einstein “A bookRead More →

“Without leaving the house I know the whole universe.” – Lao-Tzu This could also be the motto of the social-media platform known as Twitter. For book authors and other writers who wish to use Twitter, I’ll offer some specific tips below. And here’s a link to Twitter’s own help center, to walk you through the basics. But first, a general shout-out for tweeting in general. To my astonishment, Twitter is surprisingly useful. It’s a well-connected, active group of intelligent users, a place to connect casually with fellow literary types and to be generous about other people’s accomplishments. It’s also a place where you can, nowRead More →

If you really want to try to write a novel in a month, I am not going to stand in your way. NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. The goal is to commit, sitting side by side (virtually) with thousands of other avid fictioneers, to pen a 50,000-word manuscript in 30 days, starting at midnight on Nov. 1 with 0 words written. Sure, a few of the impulses behind this zany idea are valid. For instance: It’s good to set goals. It’s good to create a specific timeline in which you commit to reaching a specific goal. It’s good to tell others your goals.Read More →

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