Thursday, December 9, 2021

How to be a Writer

Many people dream of being a writer, but the reality is that most writers need to have a day job in order to provide for themselves and their family. In this article you will learn how to be a writer without quitting your day job. At the end of this article you will find a link to an interview with a full-time writer who explains exactly how she manages to write and publish novellas while holding down a day job.

What does a writer do?

Writers tell stories. If you can write, you can be a writer. Once you have learned how to create the worlds and characters that populate your story, you need to learn how to put them on paper or electronic text so someone else can read it.

Before jumping into writing full time, consider what kind of stories you enjoy most and whether they would appeal to others as well. This article will teach you how to write faster with minimum editing, so start small by telling the story of something that happened in history or fiction (no fair writing about yourself or your friends, sorry). When you feel comfortable with the process of writing and publishing a short story, consider how many stories you can write and publish per week. This will help decide how much time it would take to make a living as a writer based on your writing speed.

After some practice, you will find that you don’t need to work on each story for very long. You may even be able to write as fast as one story per day if you spread things out over the course of the day (don’t expect this for at least two weeks after starting to write regularly, however).

Is writing a viable career?

If you love writing and can write faster than one story per week, and it doesn’t bother you to not get paid for the first twelve months or so while you build up your audience, then YES. You should definitely consider making a living as a writer if that is something you would enjoy doing.

If there were no such thing as money, and all writers wrote solely for their own enjoyment (and the enjoyment of anyone kind enough to read what they had written), we wouldn’t have any stories at all — because nobody would be driven to create them.

Contrary to popular belief, even aspiring novelists need money in order to live and make time in their lives for writing. If you think you might like being a full-time writer, then start making time for it now and consider ways that you can make money (or continue to make enough money) while writing.

Recognize Why you want to be a writer.

If you want to write because writing is your passion and it is what you would naturally do even if you couldn’t get paid, then WRITE. Do it for the sake of doing it and tell people: “I’m a writer.”

If you are thinking about making this your career, though, take some time to think about why. What will motivate you to keep going when times are tough? Money? Recognition? The sheer joy of storytelling? Knowing that someone out there in the world is being entertained by something that came from inside your head? How can you use this motivation when writing becomes difficult or boring (it will)?

Can I be a full-time writer while holding down a day job?

You can. You just need to keep your day job until you can make enough money from writing that your writing becomes a full-time gig.Many people decide to work part time, instead of quitting their jobs entirely, because they are not yet confident in how fast they can write or what kind of stories will sell. If you have the time, it is always better to wait until you are sure before quitting your day job completely. Compare this option with being able to take off for two months at a time, though, and the other option becomes much more attractive.

Why would you not want to become a writer

Authors that write as a full-time job (especially those with large families) may have to sacrifice the quality of their work. If you spend all day writing, especially if you do not have an existing audience already eager for your next release, then there is a good chance that most of what you write will never be read by anyone else. Even if it is published and available online or in stores, the chances that someone stumbling upon it would give it a second look just because they saw your name on it are slim. It might even get lost among all the other new titles available each week at most bookstores.

Determine the kind of writer you want to be.

Someone who is paid by the word (for example, for short articles)? Someone who is paid per piece (such as a writer for hire), someone who only writes fiction, or someone who focuses on non-fiction? Did you want to be a freelance writer, technical writer, or just do your own thing with self publishing? Which type(s) might earn you more money and why?

Consider if writing may be a hobby rather than a way to make money. If so, what will your motivation be when it comes time to write something you aren’t particularly in the mood for? Take this time to determine your goals and motivations — but remember that these things will change over time. Write down somewhere special where you can go back and read them when you need to remind yourself of why you are doing this.

How do I prepare for a writing career?

Create a plan for yourself and stick to it. It may help you to write down your goals, just as it may help an aspiring actor or musician to create a resume.

It is important that you take the time at the outset of this career to prepare yourself just as if it were any other job — because that is exactly what writing professionally will be: work. You will spend most of your day doing it (not necessarily all of your time), and there will be tasks, strategies and steps involved in becoming successful at it (even if those steps seem like fun — they are still work.) Otherwise, we’d all have jobs as professional gamers or rock-star musicians instead!

Don’t forget why you want to do this. If you create a plan to start this career, determine what you will do in order to accomplish it and remember your motivation when moments get tough, then you are already well on the way to making writing your full-time job.

Do not forget that someone needs to pay for all of this. You need to make sure that they are getting a return on their investment or else they will stop investing in you — and there is a good chance that they WILL stop if you let them down. Remember: even successful writers have editors who did not buy what was originally submitted.

How to make a living as a full-time writer

To make a living as a full-time writer, you must do two things:

1. (Write) You must write something that people are willing to pay money for.

2. (Market) You need to find enough people who want to buy your story or article, and you need to convince them that they should give you money in return for the privilege of reading it (or watching it or listening or whatever form your writing might take).

Writing offers all kinds of “jobs” that will allow you to follow your passion, be it short stories or poetry, working with non-profit organizations or public relations, sports writing or screenplays. You can write for others or create your own blog about any topic that interests you. Even freelance writing is a viable option if you are particularly proficient at English and enjoy researching topics online!

Compare these options by thinking about what type of writer might make the most money. Someone who writes for websites? Someone who creates graphic novels? The kind of pay rates vary wildly by medium and genre, but if something else besides money drives you to become a writer then this should not matter so much.

What if I don’t like writing enough to make it my career (not that there’s anything wrong with that!)? You can still write as a hobby. Maybe not poetry or novels — but most other forms of writing are still available to you after all! If this is your goal, then check out some books on the subject at your local bookstore to find out what you need to know. If you have a story or idea that just won’t leave you alone, then it is time to write!

Free ways to promote your book

There are many ways to promote your book (even before getting it published) in order to get the best possible chance at success.Readers will want to know about you and your background, so take some time to craft a biography that might entice them into reading your work. If you grew up in New York City, were born with six fingers on each hand or spent several years abroad teaching English — all of this is important information! People like knowing who they are dealing with even when they are just browsing for something new to read. It helps personalize the experience and makes them feel more connected to you, which means they will be more likely to buy your writing if it suits their tastes.

Why writers need mailing lists

A mailing list can help you form a community of people who want to buy your work and support your career as a writer. You can share new items, hold contests or send out newsletters — whatever is right for the situation will be entirely up to you and the needs of your fans.

You can also use social media like Facebook and Twitter for this purpose, but email tends to have more staying power with users since it requires them to actively sign up instead of just “liking” something from their newsfeeds. It’s also easier to track responses that way!How much does it cost? In most cases, nothing at all! Mailchimp offers free plans that allow you to make this happen without any investment besides time.

Create realistic goals and expectations

Many authors have different ways of approaching their writing career. For some, it is a way to express what they see in their minds; others want to be able to share their personal experiences with other people. Some write because they are good at it and enjoy doing so; others may write simply because that’s what they know how to do or for whatever reason inspires them.

One of the best ways of setting realistic goals is to see what other authors have done. They can give you examples into what you need to do and what you can expect when you get there. Everyone’s path is different, but this will help you start to formulate some first steps.Know what it will take to get you where you want to go, and do not be afraid of the hard work involved! Take ACTION every day, even if it is only a little bit. Once you have done this for a while, then revisit your plan and make adjustments as needed in order to continue moving forward in a positive direction.

Steps on How to Build a Writing Career

Become a regular reader to help prefect fiction writing

This does not mean reading fewer books or magazines, but rather reading more in general. Try to read everything you can get your hands on, including the advertisements and fine print. If it is interesting, then write it down. When I was younger, my friends used to laugh at me when I would suddenly take out a notebook during our conversations and start writing what they were saying. Believe me, I was not doing this because I wanted to make fun of them (much). Rather, I wanted to remember the things they said so that when we were finished talking I could go home and try writing some stories about them!

If you spend five nights per week watching TV shows with paranormal elements in them (ghosts or time travel for example) then you will want to write stories that include paranormal elements.

Know what you enjoy reading and why, and try to figure out how to do it better than everyone else! This is an ongoing process that does not stop when you begin your first draft. Even if the story idea has already been done many times before (as is often the case with fantasy novels for example), remember that each version is still different than all the ones before it! The more knowledge and understanding of techniques that you have, the better chance you will succeed; but even if someone publishes a book similar to yours down the road, remember that your story can still be better because it is YOUR version!

Enroll in an online creative writing course

There are many websites that can help you get started. You do not have to pay a lot of money either! Sites like YouTube will offer videos on how to improve your writing. You can also join a professional course site like Masterclass.

If these options are prohibitively expensive, try asking at the bookstore (or library) if they know of any classes or clubs that meet in your area. If you don’t like taking classes in person then try enrolling with an online writing course such as Writers Online Classes.Another source is Brandon Sanderson’s YouTube videos. Brandon offers advice on how to write characters well, how to set up your story so it can be told in a way that makes sense (hint: “show don’t tell!”), tips for getting over writer’s block, understanding genre conventions without being too much of a slave to them, etc.

Every writer’s journey is unique. However, while there are many paths to becoming an author, the one thing every successful author has in common is dedication over time. Whether it takes ten years or ten minutes, you will never accomplish your goals if you don’t make the choice to get started today.

“Write drunk, edit sober” (Write every day)

The two most important things for a writer are persistence and dedication. I’m not talking about becoming an alcoholic or doing drugs to get yourself in the mood, but rather using whatever tools you may have on hand (such as listening to music while writing your book) to help get into the proper mindset.

When you start something new, do it every day. Take time after work or school; try playing with your kids or practicing your hobby of choice outside , etc.. Soon enough, this will become part of your daily routine (or at least it should be if you wish to make writing a career). Write only when you feel like it; write even when you don’t feel like it! If there is nothing else that can motivate you more than the publication of your first book, then I do not know what it can be!

Practice becoming more conversational

This doesn’t mean to mimic the way you speak (although it would be interesting if everyone did this to some degree). What I mean is that you should try not to get too caught up in using big words or complicated sentence structure when you don’t need to. Even if your story takes place on another planet, do not write like the people there think and communicate like it is their first language! This does not mean to talk down at your readers; instead, write for them as if they were sitting right beside you listening closely.

Making things easier to read means that readers won’t be stopped by large words or awkward phrases. This will make it easier for you to convey the important information; and even if they go back later to reread something, they won’t get bogged down in over-complex language.

Everyday apply what you have been learning from your writing course about grammar and punctuation

In our conversations we often use contractions (“I’m going home” instead of ” I am going home” ), but when we start writing or typing out a story, most of us forget to change the phrase into its full form. This occurs because most of us were taught by others that one is supposed to always write things in their expanded forms! The same happens with grammar rules: whether it be a comma usage question or a tense debate, just do what sounds and feels right to you and if it works then don’t worry about what anyone else says.

While that part of writing is mostly up to you, here are a few helpful things to remember : 1) It’s always better to use short words than long ones whenever possible; 2) Always try using the simplest grammatical form of a word (e.g., not “will have been” but rather “have”). When you feel like doing so, go on an internet research binge and find as many variations as possible on how different grammar rules can be put into practice; this way, even when people tell you that your story was written improperly or incorrectly, you will know how and why they may be wrong. (Remember: If all else fails, know when to give up!)

Work with the tools a professional writer would use

All writers have a different routine when it comes to making notes about their story. Some keep a regular notebook handy at all times, while others will write down key points in a program like Microsoft Word. I personally use Evernote for this purpose, which is free and available on all platforms (you could also use the popular OneNote from Windows).

In addition to your day-to-day notes you should also be sure to make details about specific characters and settings. WorldAnvil and CampFire both offer tools to build worlds. These will often change as you write, so these tools help you find continuity mistakes.It is very important for every writer to keep track of how much time they spend writing and on which days. This can be done by using word counters or timers. Word count programs are also available, but these are more expensive than timers. The most popular timer is the Pomodoro Timer, which divides an hour into 25-minute intervals with short breaks in between. If you don’t want to use a timer, you can just set your phone’s alarm clock for an hour and then take a break when it goes off . It may seem like common sense to some people who have been doing this since childhood , but if you need help coming up with ideas for what to write about, there are many different websites that offer prompts.

When you’re done writing use your word counter to keep track of how many words you’ve written that day. Some writers who are not sure how long their story will be write down the number of words they think they’ll finish by the end of each day, so if at any point they fall behind it is easy to know what else needs to get done.

After finishing a chapter, go back and read through it. If anything sounds awkward or confusing, take the time to edit it. You can also print off this chapter and read it on paper or in an e-reader like Kindle (which I recommend for anyone who does much reading). This will allow you to see everything clearly while making sure no key details fell between the cracks!

Finally, it is extremely important to find a beta reader, someone who reads your work before you publish or show anyone else. They are the first step in making sure that your story flows throughout the entire thing. Also, be sure to save what you’ve written every few days either on an external drive or cloud-based storage, since computers can fail at any time!

Becoming a writer while balancing work and family

While it is great to be passionate about your work, remember that you must make time for your family. This is the most important part of life, so try not to get too caught up chasing after some big dream! I am not saying this to discourage you, but rather because of what I see happening more and more these days.

If you are an adult with children , then you have a family that needs time from you just as much as they need food on the table every night. Be honest with yourself about how much writing time can fit into each day without neglecting them in any way. Do not forget that if everything works out well, the enjoyment your family gets will help motivate you even more.

Find a place to get real critiques

While constructive criticism can be difficult to take at times, it is usually worth putting up with if you have found a group of people whose opinions are well-informed.

Remember that these are people who actually take the time out of their lives to read whatever piece of fiction you send them just so they can give their opinion. If they care about making your work the best it can be then I suggest you do everything in your power to ensure that they are happy! This means being open to changing whatever needs changing about your story.

No matter how awkward or painful this process may seem initially, try not to let it get you down. This is the only way to see your story become as good as it can be; if that is not enough incentive, then I do not know what else there could be!

As far as setting up a group like this, you can either set one up yourself or join an existing group. But whatever you do, make sure these people are honest and wise about what they say. There should never be any reason to fear anything someone might have said to you too harshly – unless of course their advice was just plain wrong , in which case ignore them completely.

So, what’s the secret to becoming a writer? Well first you need to ask yourself why. Once you know your “why” it is easier for you to find out which type of writing and genre suits your style best. Knowing your why also helps in determining how much time and effort should be put into publishing content that will make people want to buy it. When we say publish worthy material-we don’t just mean write about topics that are popular or trendy–although those can help too! We also mean writing with an engaging voice and tone, using varied sentence structures and word choice, capturing attention by creating suspenseful scenarios, developing characters who feel like real people instead of one dimensional caricatures or simply talking at someone without actually saying anything, and finding a way to build off of what has been said before while still being unique in it’s own right. When you have compelling writing, you’ll find it’s much easier to sell and call yourself a writer.

Do you learn better watching a video? Here is one that can help you become a writer:

Friday, November 5, 2021

Build a Fiction Writing Platform using Content Marketing

Let’s start off this writing platform process by clarifying what content marketing is and isn’t about. Content marketing is where you build content that people want. They go to you to get that content. With any luck, you show them more content that is relevant and they enjoy that information. Before long, you are set in their mind as an authority on the topic. As an authority, you can help steer people to products and services that you believe in, but that also have a referral program. Or, as an authority, you can steer people to your own products and services. For non-fiction authors, this works fairly well. You build a website full of workout advice, then offer a book that shows a number of other workout options. People want the advice, trust you as an authority, and then buy your book for new workout options. However, that frame of reference doesn’t work for fiction writers. I can’t give you advice about avoiding alien politics, then give you a book about a space captain. So, how can a fiction author build a platform via content marketing?

Step 1a: Short stories to build mailing list

So, non-fiction authors can post articles online, push those on social media, and build an audience. Fiction authors can use the same method, but just in a different pond. Fiction authors can release short (complete) stories and ask people for their email addresses to gain access to those short stories. They can then take these email addresses, build a relationship, and then offer the final product. So, this means entering contents and giveaways with that short story, instead of releasing articles on the web.

Step 1b: Serial writing and rubbing elbows with fans.

This is a great method for generating an audience. In this method, you release a chapter at a time of a book, asking people for feedback. As people become more invested in the story, they naturally become fans. The only trick with this method is that you almost have to start at the end first. The worst part of being a serial fan is having a story you love never be finished. However, if the author can let people know that the story is complete, there is an end, the end is written, etc… it is a lot easier to become invested. In other words, this method works well if you want to build book 2 or book 3… but not so much book 1.

Step 2: Small content chunks on social media.

I think the best phrase that I’ve heard that describes social media is “doom scrolling”. There is so much junk that we put up with. Sometimes, you just need something positive and happy. That’s where a fiction author can come in and help (that sounds really dark, but hold on). An author can present their true selves and interact with other people. They can talk about their works in progress and what is inspiring them. This real life feel can draw people in to them. However, it’s a balance, because you want to make sure you are writing more than you are playing on social media. Remember: you don’t own the social media platform, so make sure you have audiences elsewhere (like the mailing list mentioned in step 1).

Step 3: Fish in the same pond, but don’t expect to catch anything.

This piece of advice is given freely, but don’t expect to gain much traction from it. You can build articles on your blog and gain an audience. That is possible. However, you need to make sure you are following all the search engine optimization guides and building the best content you can. Here are some basic steps to get there:

  • Buzzsumo – Find someone else who did it well

    Figure out the general topic you want to write about. Plug that into Buzzsumo and see who has gained a lot of traction lately on that topic and how they’ve spun in. Take that website and go ahead and plug it into the next step.

  • Google Keyword Planner – Find the missing content

    So after you find the website that made the content, plug that into keyword planner. You’ll get a fairly decent list of topics. I remove any high competition phrases, sort by average monthly searches, then see what ‘long tail’ keywords float to the top. Quick refresher, phrases with more words tend to be longer tail words. They are easier to write for because they require additional specificity. Ideally, you’ll be able to pair several long tail phrases together. For example, online writing platform and platform for authors could be smooshed together to become: online writing platform for authors. That keyword is the secret sauce to what you are about to write.

  • Grab an outline from online

    Take that keyword you just found, and plug it into the search engine. See what comes up. These articles are going to be your competition. So you want to see what pieces of advice they offer and write those down. Then think about what additional advice you would give. Once you have all of this, you have an outline for your article.

  • Follow the SEO major markers and publish

    I am not going to say that SEO is easy; there is a lot to it. However, the single biggest factor is simply luck. No one knows when their article or website is going to go viral or big. However, if you follow a certain set of given standards, you increase your luck. This is the difference between throwing seeds at the dirt and planting them in the dirt. Both have the potential to grow into something, but seeds inside the dirt are more likely to grow. If you meet the SEO major markers, then you’ll have a much better likelihood of gaining search engine traction.

Here are some search engine standards (major markers) I know of:
  • Use the keyword in your title and initial paragraph
  • Make sure to have a relevant image
  • Make sure the content is over 1000 words
  • Have lists and other components in the content
  • Remove any poor spelling and grammar problems
  • Make sure your website loads fast on desktop and mobile
  • Finish it out with a closing paragraph and video

Hopefully all these tips have led you to build a platform. To summarize, you can use short stories or a work in progress to build your local fandom. You then can interact on social media to help gain those on the sidelines. Finally, you can reach for the stars by building traditional search engine content. Now, if you are the type of person who prefers to watch/listen, instead of read, here a video that explains the process better.

Thursday, October 7, 2021

The Two Types of Writing Tips You'll Encounter

There are two types of writing tips you will often find while searching for truth. The first are writing tips that mean well, but are empty. The second are writing tips that seem simple, but reflect a greater pool of wisdom. While it’s arrogant of me to assume the following will fall into that second bucket, I will do my best. I am going to call these two types of writing tips the humblebrag and the peer. So how do you identify which is which?

The Humblebrag Writing Tip:

In this format, the author “just wants you to succeed” by telling you how wonderful they are doing. This can a number of forms, but one of the most popular are sharing financial figures. They then pretend to break them down, so you can “learn from their success”. This is an easy to spot humblebrag, and often times the key to their success is… wait for this shocking revelation: hard work and luck! (Sarcasm filter being added here) Aren’t you glad you dug into their financials to learn that? But wait, there is more good information to be had if you sign up for their program or join their mailing list. After all, they just want you to succeed. I am sure your belief in their authority is totally not needed for their platform. That platform is completely separate and has nothing to do with the quality education… (Exiting sarcasm filter) So, as you can hopefully see, their success comes from presenting as an authority. There is nothing truly behind that authority beyond some minor social proof that they might have cooked up. They need you to believe their authority so that they can eventually sell you things, use that sales information to prove how awesome they are, and find more people to sell to. This is crux of the humblebrag advice: they need you to believe they are a humble authority who just wants to help.

The Peer Writing Tip:

I am going to put up two examples of advice to help show the difference: “Never stop trying and learning things” versus “20% of businesses fail in the first year”. Now image the article that follows each of those pieces of advice.

  • Never stop learning things: How I figured out XYZ to make $10,000.
  • 20% of businesses fail in the first year: What they have in common.

The first is a Humblebrag and is probably about someone who worked hard in an area, got lucky, and made some money. That’s great for them, but it probably won’t be an article that reveals the secret sauce. The article will talk close enough to truth to present authenticity, but it won’t actually be ‘hard to hear’. The second article is about cold humility. Imagine looking at five of your writing friends and saying one of them will stop writing in the first year. It’s not flashy to fail, but they can present better advice to strengthen what you are doing. That’s peer writing advice that isn’t trying to sucker you into signing up to their “courses”.

What’s the harm in a bit of success bragging?

The answer to that is that the end result leads you back to the “wise” guru. You don’t see how lucky they really got. You don’t see that they had much of their lives subsidized so that they could spend a bunch of time working on a particular platform. The humblebragger may not tell you that their spouse or parents helped them with their living arrangement and bills. Instead, you just see that hard work solved it all. You may not also see the “right place at the right time”. Perhaps the platform that the humblebragger was successful on just needed exactly what they were offering. They no longer need it, but they did at one time. The horrible part in all this is that the person bragging about their success may not even know how lucky they are. They may simple see that their wise decisions and hard work led to success. After all, no one wants to brag about how often they failed, right? My thought is to look for failure advice, not success (or look at modest/minor success).

Is failure advice always brutal?

The answer to this, in my opinion, is no. There is a format I like to think of as elegant. To me, the definition of elegance is hidden pre-work that is done, so that the end result looks easy/flawless. Adding this to the concept of failure advice can be done in this way. When someone keeps trying different things, keeps failing, and a trend emerges. One example might be someone who built a writing audience on a social media platform. That platform changes the rules and they lose their audience. They then switch to the next social media platform and it happens again. After a number of tries, they may realize: The only stable platform is one where you completely control it. To anyone reading that advice, it’s obvious. But you may not have seen all the failed attempts that lead to that.

So, why do so many people humblebrag? The answer can really be found in this YouTube video about fake gurus. The answer is to establish themselves as an authority, get you to believe they “just want you to succeed”, and then turn over control to them. They then use that control to sell it to the next round of people. All the while, honestly believing how amazing and great they are, because that’s how our human minds work. No one wants to be a failure, everyone wants to be a huge success. My advice is to hunt out those with modest success and a long history of explained failures.

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Five Tips for Writing a Fantasy Book

Writing a fantasy book can be a sunny vacation or a tooth ache. I’ve done what I can to make my practice as an artist as pleasurable as possible. Whoever said art gets better with suffering was not an artist. Art become better when you practice it and you are only going to want to practice art when you enjoy doing it. So, what can we do to make the adventure feel more sunny and less like a trip to the dentist? Here are five tips to help you write a fantasy novel. Everyone’s process is different, so I don’t want to prescribe this as the only method. Some authors start with scenery as inspiration, others use music, and still others their past experiences. No matter the process, these tips are fairly universal.

Tip 1: Know the tropes.

Writing an odd ball book may make your soul happy for a time, but if no one “gets” it… that’s soul crushing. The best middle ground is to make your art with a few key elements to help the typical reader. Not every trope needs to be jammed in, but having a few makes the story easier to read. Since these are fantasy stories, four common tropes include:

1.) A Chosen One – This can help introduce the reader to a much larger world. As the chosen one discovers the world, and why their unique, the reader discovers it as well. This lends itself to a natural worldbuilding. Unnatural world building is often done in info dumps where too much information is shared in a giant chunk. That becomes tedious for readers to work through and remember. The trick with a “chosen one” is to give them positive and negative attributes. If they only have positive attributes, they come off as fake and wish fulfillment.

2.) The Mentor – In this trope a wise person guides the events happening. This can be used to help set magical scales of size. For example, if a mentor easily deals with a giant problem, then the problem doesn’t look as huge. If the mentor turns around, then runs away screaming from a black eyed child… you know that child is a much bigger problem than it appears to be. However, one problem with the mentor role is that it can become an ‘instant solve’ button that water down the conflict. If a wise mentor has the perfect solution at the perfect time, then the danger must not have ever really been real. Many authors kill the mentor after they introduce the world to help prevent accidentally watering down conflict later on.

3.) Powerful artifacts from ancient eras – This is much like the mentor, where it can help set the scale of the world. However, this helps setup an ancient era that feels like an ongoing mystery. The moment you introduce an item of power, a lot of questions need to be solved. This can make writing answers to all these questions a burden. People will want to know why the artifact was lost, how it got so powerful, why couldn’t the artifact be used in this way or that way, could the artifact be mass produced, and more. While this can help a character dive into an ancient mystery, if the novel isn’t supposed to go that way, then it can really hinder things.

4.) Obvious good and bad – With a lot of fantasy, the bad guys are very easy to pick out. The same is true for the hero. The hero wants to save the world, the bag guy wants to rule/destroy the world. This simplistic narrative leaves no room on who the audience needs to cheer for. The problem is that people are never simple, which makes simple representations of them feel fake. An evil wizard clad in black who cackles as they torture a spirit… feels kinda boring. If the here and villain don’t feel realistic, then the audience will not connect with them as authentic people.

Tip 2: Prepare an outline and then listen to music.

I love the snowflake method of preparing to write. I don’t follow it closely, but the general theme is important. I have an idea of what I want to write. A small single thought that I want to develop into a book. I then choose the story arch and character arch’s that fit that tale. I then build settings that fit into the key scenes in that tale. Finally, I find several “cool nuggets” to help tell the story. These are little observations that when put into the writing help draw the reader in. All of this planning may be completely thrown out the window. However, it makes it easier to write a story when I know the basics of where it needs to go. If I want to write to the outline, I can. If the story feels like it is going in another direction, I am okay with that too. The outline is just there to help make it easier to write.

Once I am about to write, I find musical and vision inspiration. Items that help set the scene and make it feel authentic. The music helps me feel what the characters are feeling. The visual inspiration helps me write observations that are unique and interesting. Ultimately, the story needs to not only follow an outline, but have the right “tone” as well. That’s where choosing the right inspirations come from. Many times I include the inspiration sources next to the outline. That way, not only do I know what I want to write, but I know the tone I need to strive for.

Tip 3: Find a cheap, brutal editor to read and destroy.

Everyone thinks they can sing until they hear their voice being repeated back to them. The sound we make is very different coming out than when other people hear it. The same is true for all other forms of art. The person writing the story feels a certain connection and relevance to their story. However, an impartial editor does not have that same “tone deaf” ear. Getting one that is cheap, but brutally honest, is a great way to see what you were missing. I say that it’s good to get a cheaper one because they are used more often and hear a lot more “bad ones”. In addition, you can re-hire them to see if you got it correct a second time. However, while price is negotiable, brutal honesty is not. You need someone to really rip into your story. The more the story survives each time, the stronger it will become.

Tip 4: Half the story is told in the rewrites.

There are things that just don’t work. There are loose ends that you may not have even realized were dangling out there. There are descriptions which sound weird. There are characters who feel one dimensional. Many stories simply don’t have a strong narrative or theme until the rewrites. In fact, many stories don’t have their key moments fully realized until after the story is done. Once these scenes are complete and identified, then the author needs to find ways to pump them up. Much of a story is done fixing these key oddities. Don’t be afraid to throw away if things are not working or need to be fixed. It is much better to build a stronger story than to get a “darling” through, because often times “darlings” lose their appeal quickly. A cool concept is a lot less interesting after you’ve sat on it for a bit.

Tip 5: Cover, Blurb, and Purpose.

The best and worst part of writing is when your book comes alive. These are moments when other people take your work and infuse it with their own creative styles. You have to find a way to settle on an interesting cover that engages others. If only yourself understands all the cool Easter eggs in the cover, it is going to be hard to sell. The same is true for the blurb. The purpose of your book is to be read, and that starts with making materials that others want to engage with. In addition, you want to know why you are writing this book in the first place. If money is your motive, then you need to have an idea of how to market. If holding your book in your hands is the main objective, then you need to understand physical printing. If you want to see your book in your local library, you need to understand that technology. This is the ideal ending point of your story. Where is is read and by whom?

Hopefully these five tips have helped you build a wonderful fantasy story. There are many more ideas and tips that could be discussed, but hopefully this gives you a sense of how to make your author journey more pleasant. Best of luck on your future writing endeavors! Here is a video with even more tips to help you.

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Hubpages Review, Pay, and How it Works

In this article I will discuss my review of Hubpages, what you can expect as a payout, and how I use the service. As a writer, my goal is to have my writing read. The best way to have that happen is through marketing and practicing my craft. However, marketing costs a fair amount of money. To help offset that cost, I write several non-fiction articles on Hubpages.

Before I begin my love letter to Hubpages, here is the niche this service provides in the market:Anyone can start a website blog and build content on that blog. However, search engines may not rank small blog information relevant. The market niche Hubpages provides is to bring your content alongside similar content. That makes the search engine rank your specific information higher. The higher the rank in the search engines, the more clicks you get. The more clicks you get, the more ads that can be shown. The more ads that are shown on your content, the greater your share of the revenue. In addition, Hubpages adheres to search engine best practices, so writing it their way will also work best for the search engines.

With that, here are six reasons I write on Hubpages:

1.) They practice SEO diligently and it shows.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a tricky subject, because it is often a cat-and-mouse game. Poor players try to game the system, Google/Bing change to kick out the terrible players, and they hurt good players. However, the glorious thing about Hubpages is that they work towards being an excellent player. They know that the hand that feeds them is Google/Bing, and it shows that they care. In a recent Hubpages community forum, where people were asked where their traffic comes from, the vast majority say Google and Bing. There is a community of readers within Hubpages that drives traffic… but they are just a small part. The real big part of the traffic is coming from Google. So when a big search engine update comes down the line, Hubpages aggressively works to adhere to those updates. In the end, that means that I (as a content creator) do not have to pay attention to every little nuance. If my article makes Hubpages happy, it will probably make Google/Bing happy.

2.) They are one-on-one partners, not a corporate overlord.

Here is the next wonderful thing I love about Hubpages. Not everyone will like this. They will take your article and look to improve upon it. For example, if you have grammar mistakes or a broken image, they will work with you on those. If your header graphic isn’t that great, sometimes they will replace it. That seems cruel, but the truth is they are working towards getting you a higher ranking on Google. That makes writing articles on Hubpages feel more like teamwork than one man doing it all.

3.) They have an active community that wants to help.

The other significant thing about Hubpages is that they have an active community. If you notice some oddities, you can scroll through forums and see if anyone else is having that problem. If not, you can make a message for others to respond to. In addition, you can hear about the latest experiences of others, which can drive up your own success. The goal being simple: rising tides raise all boats. By pursuing success together, it is more likely the individual will succeed.

4.) They introduce quality scores to each article.

This may seem arbitrary on the outside, but I can tell you it’s very important. Knowing how your article ranks is a way you can measure against Hubpages benchmarks. Again, Hubpages benchmarks are made against SEO best practices. That means, the higher your article score, the more likely it will be liked by search engines. This gives you a sense of how to write wonderful articles.

5.) They look out for bad players.

There are two sides to this coin. The first is that if my content is junk, they let me know. Hubpages not only tells me what is wrong with the article I just wrote, but how to fix it as well. Besides helping inside the house, they look outside to see who is stealing content. That means that people that rip off your article are shown to you. You can then message them to cut it out, or message their host about the plagiarism. Keeping your content protected is a great way to ensure that Google knows who the original source of the article is.

6.) You own your content.

The last reason I love Hubpages is that you still own all your content. I can remove the articles from Hubpages and publish them elsewhere. I am under no obligation to keep them on Hubpages. That means that if I have a selection of articles that are simply not working well, I can republish them elsewhere. For example, I could take these articles and build an eBook from them. I could take these articles and repurpose them on my website. I could take these articles and simply go to a competitor. Whatever my decision, the content created is mine.Probably the number #1 question people ask is about payout. I don’t blame them. You want to know that your efforts are met with some type of reward. That’s what makes this writing thing so difficult. Let me tell you what I saw personally and then we’ll go into some averages.

The minimum payout is $50. That means you need to earn $50 for them to send you money. So how quickly did this happen for me?

I earned my first money on August 26th 2014 = 5 cents. I had only one article. I wrote a bunch more. I finally reached the $50 threshold on May 15th of 2016. That took nearly 21 months to reach the threshold. When I hit that threshold, I had 8 published articles (and a bunch unpublished). When I hit that threshold, on average, I was getting $1.32 per day. That experience is a lot worse than what average new Hubpage creators experience. Why did I fail so badly at Hubpages? I have 43 unpublished articles in Hubpages, most written in 2014. Their average Hubpage Score is a 69 out of 100, which is pretty bad. Ultimately, I learned that low content click-bait stuff wasn’t the road to success. I also wrote whatever I felt like in the moment, not caring about what was needed. Since I didn’t get paid quickly, I kinda forgot about Hubpages until 2018. When I came back to the platform, I was still getting about $1.08 per day, even though I had let it rot since 2014. That’s the power of evergreen content: It makes money for a long period.

I started writing for Hubpages again, making longer and high-quality articles. I made 16 articles in 2018, with an average quality score of 81. For 2018, I made an average of $4.02/day. In 2019, I made 15 more articles, with an average score of 82. For 2019, I made an average of $3.76/day. I know you might want to point to the additional work for less pay as a bad thing, but that’s how search engine traffic works. There is a natural flux, which is why I rely on Hubpages to help me ride those waves. In 2020, I made just 5 articles with an average score of 82. For 2020, I made an average of $4.50/day. This year (2021) I made 6 more articles, with an average score of 79. For this year, I am making an average of $6.29/day.

So that’s my experience with the pay. How does this compare against other Hubpage creators?

One user reports it took her a month to earn $2, but seven months until her first payout (Way better than my 21 months). Another user wrote 52 articles within 4 months until they hit their first payout. A small poll (30 Hubpage creators) was conducted about this topic. For 33% of those polled, they received their first payout within a year. Another 10% received it by the end of the next year (month 24). That means that nearly 57% never had a payout.

The biggest two reasons behind never having a payout are creating bad content and creating content no one needs. Creating bad content is easily fixed. You can read the Hubpages style guide and listen to their suggestions on your articles. In addition, creating content that is needed is also easy, if you know the tricks. Here is how I find content that is needed:

1.) Google Keyword Planner

This is a free tool that allows you to put in either a website or a set of keywords. It looks for similar keywords. The interesting thing about this tool is that it tells you the amount of competition for each keyword and the relative amount of traffic. I look for “long tail” keywords with low to medium competition, but good traffic. When I say “long tail” I simply mean phrases or sets of words that are 3 words or longer. It is easier to rank for keywords that are longer.

2.) Google Trends

Next, I take a list of potential keywords and I plug them into Google trends. I then set Google trends to 5 years. This allows me to rank potential keywords against each other. When I know a keyword with the most traffic after 5 years and that has low/medium competition, I write an article about that. I know the article may or may not succeed with Google. However, if you constantly look to fill needs, you will be more likely to hit a home run. That is an article that is desperately needed, which you rank in the top 10. You then gain a lot more traffic and make regular funds on Hubpages. When you have enough of these “home run” articles that are evergreen, you gain some sort of constant payout.

Hopefully, this article has been an excellent review of Hubpages. I’ve covered why this website exists, why I love Hubpages, what it took for me to get my first payout, other people’s average first payouts, and some tips on building articles. I am also going to include another video review below.

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Opportunity Cost Definition, Examples, and Antonym

Opportunity cost is a fallacy that is often treated like a law. In addition, the opposite of opportunity cost provides more value than the idea of opportunity cost. To start, let’s examine the definition of opportunity cost and an example.

Opportunity cost is described as losing a potential gain because you chose an alternative. For example, if you invested in bonds and make 1% back you may not be happy (Ex. getting $1 yield for that $100 bond investment) . You might be disappointed because you look at your stocks and you got 9% ($9 for that $100 stock investment). That lost $8 from deciding to invest in bonds, instead of stocks, is opportunity cost. However, opportunity cost can be described outside fiscal frameworks as well. A student who spends time studying history may have some opportunity cost, when compared to their engineering classmate. They both had the same amount of time, but the engineering student may received a job offer for more money than the history major. The way most people boil down opportunity cost is to simply call it “bad decisions that cost”.

So, why do I call this a fallacy or lie? There is the obvious that you simply don’t know what might have been, because it never happened. The history student above might have transferred to engineering, hated it, and dropped out. It might have been a maximization of their efforts to study history. The same is true for the bonds example above. The stock might have been a loser compared to the guarantee of the bond yield. You never truly know the accurate opportunity cost of decisions. However, there is a second fallacy I would like to point out.

There is an analogy I watched on YouTube (video below) that describes how workers gain wealth through automation. However, it is not a straight line to success. Instead, each automation of a process produces less and less yield. The first automation of a process is ground breaking and provides massive changes. The 100th automation of a process might only produce a nearly unrecognizable gain. While not a law of nature, it’s great to keep the pareto principle in mind. That theory states that 80% of the outcomes come from 20% of the causes. You can think of those first automations as the initial 20%. They are put into place and now the process is 80% automated. To get the process to 90% automation, you may need to layer on innovation after innovation. It is a lot more work.

So why does this prove that opportunity cost is a fallacy? The answer is that opportunity cost is often thought of as a straight line. However, opportunity cost is on the same pareto principle curve. Using the same example above, it may not matter if you study history or engineering if your father has a business he wants you to run. While it’s true that engineering may help you fix stuff around that business, it’s not enough to be a large change in profits. The same is true for stocks and bonds. If you plan to sell either inside a year, before they’ve had time to produce compound interest, it doesn’t matter the investment vehicle. Opportunity cost isn’t a straight black and white ratio, but instead needs to be reflected on end outcomes.

So why does the opposite of opportunity cost provide more intellectual value than the idea of opportunity cost? To examine this, let’s see what the antonym would be. Some people describe this as opportunity benefit. In their model, your actions lead to more possibilities. For example, a wise investment leads to more capital, which means you can make more wise investments. I personally don’t like this concept because it assumes that more choice is good. I believe that analysis paralysis (having so many choices you can’t chose any of them) breaks this idea. Simply having more possibilities doesn’t show that they are relevant to outcomes. For example, a wise investment may be a fluke and lead to an ego where one thinks they can ALWAYS make wise decisions. That’s not accurate.

Another antonym for opportunity cost I’ve found is the ‘reverse victory’. The idea for this is that the more you are successful, the worse the overall outcome. For example, an investor scared of losing out diversifies to a lot of investment vehicles. By trying to go everywhere at once, they never travel far enough down any particular road. They gain an average return on their investment, instead of having a superstar investment that outperforms the average. I like this framing better because it has a much more solid grasp on outcome. However, this thinking still is too closely connected to the opportunity component. I don’t think the number of opportunities is as important as the impact of opportunities.

So what do I describe as the reverse of opportunity cost? I changed both words and produced the phrase ‘energy gratitude’. Let’s break this down a bit more. Instead of opportunity, we have energy. This reverses an intangible quality, opportunity, to a tangible one: energy. In addition, this reverses the end result (an opportunity) and instead focuses on the beginning of effort (energy). Next I break down the ‘cost’ part of ‘opportunity cost’. My reverse for this word is gratitude. When you look at cost you are examining the potential amount that needs to be given to make it work. The cost of a cup of coffee is the $5 you need to give to make that happen. The flip of this is to realize that nothing needs to be given out, but instead reflected inward. Instead of looking at what needs to be extracted, you look at what can be retained. This is where gratitude comes into play. Looking at what you have inside instead of looking to what you can extract out from yourself. Another way to break this down is: opportunity cost is like making a mistake then being specific on why you regret that decision. Energy gratitude is like knowing what you can accomplish and taking a moment to revel in that.

So, by this point, it should be somewhat obvious why focusing on energy gratitude is more important than opportunity cost. Beyond the psychological gains from positivity, there are also the end outcomes to consider. By focusing on opportunity cost, you are looking at the past. What did you lose out on? By focusing on energy gratitude you look at what your energy COULD do. It is focusing on the future and being happy about that. To me, that’s the real way you use the pareto principle in your life. Focusing on the big parts you can control and being grateful to have that ability.

As promised, here is the automation video I referenced above:

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Writing a Book and Using Amazon Self Publishing

There is a particular prestige gained when you can boast that you are an author. Everyone wants to be an author, to have their innermost thoughts and desires shared with others. However, few are willing to put in the long effort to get this completed. From the surface, the concept is easy. You have this story with twists and turns and a satisfying ending. Going deeper, an author needs to understand the multiple arcs occurring and thematic feel of the book. This article isn’t going to focus on the craft of building a book, nor will it focus on building the routine necessary to author a book. Instead, we will cover the higher level outline of what self-publishing means. Let’s start with an overall pros and cons list:


  • Writing a novel can be extremely cheap.
  • You have complete control over everything: the content, the cover, the marketing. Everything is up to you. [This could also be a con]
  • No gate keepers / barrier’s to entry. No one will tell you that you are not allowed to self publish.
  • You can build a royalty stream that mostly flows to you.


  • Being a good writer is difficult and will take constant work.
  • You have to do everything; so if you don’t know a topic (like marketing) you have to learn or pay someone.
  • No gate keepers means that there are a lot of people doing this. In other words; there is a lot of competition.
  • There is still the assumption that self-publishing isn’t as prestigious as a traditional publisher

Now that we’ve covered some of the good and bad about self publishing, let’s look at being successful self publishing. Please note, this is mostly just about writing fiction. Non-fiction writing is a different beast, because you don’t typically write in series. Instead, non-fiction is about competing in a micro niche for the majority of market share, then forcing out any would be competition. I’ve found non-fiction is more lucrative, but the money dries up quicker. Fans of fiction are willing to keep buying books from you so long as they are fans. Now there are two main goals when you are self publishing a book.

Goal #1: Writing a book just to say you did

There is absolutely nothing wrong with this. It can be absolutely amazing to have your name showing on the bookshelf. This is also an easy win scenario. You only need to sell exactly one copy and that’s to yourself. You don’t need to write additional books and worry about a lot of things other writers need to worry about (like marketing and reviews). Instead, once the book touches your shelf, mission accomplished.

This goal can be accomplished by uploading the book to Amazon’s KDP program, then choosing to make a paperback from your eBook. I will outline how to complete that below. Before we get into that, let’s take a look at another common goal author’s have.

Goal #2: To make a steady stream of royalty income from your writing

This is a very common goal but also a very difficult goal. Most people sell a few copies, then shrug and leave the book writing to others. This is far from a “get rich quick” scenario. Instead, writing for a stream of income is a slow methodical process. However, it can fit really well with people that are able to keep after a goal.

Steps for Goal #2:

Here is the sad truth, in the current fiction market, a person often needs to invest large amounts of time before they see any success. This can be troubling because you don’t know if you are on the right/wrong path till much further down the process. However, even if you are on the wrong path, you still will learn a lot from publishing.

Step #1:

Write a lot! There are people who swear by writing a novel a month. To me, that’s a quick road to success and burnout at the same time. Instead, I’ve chosen a slower road. Either way may work for you. However, to get the backlog you need for building a steady stream of royalties, you need at least three full length novels in a series and one smaller novella to give away. Many novels are around 80,000 words. Many professional authors write about 1000 words per hour. When new people hear this, they often think: I write 50 words per minute, which is 3000 words per hour! I can write way faster than 1000 words per hour. Consider this: Are you writing hot garbage or are you writing with a deliberate purpose? Are you trying to balance dialog, description, and foreshadowing? Are you trying to hit the markers needed for the character and story arcs? Now that 1000 per hour doesn’t seem that fast, right? So if you have three novels (each 80k words) and one novella (say 15k words) that is a total of 255,000 words or about 255 hours. This is why step 1 is write a lot. One tip: make the novella a prequel to the there novel series. The next step will discuss why that is a good idea. One additional tip is to write everything before anything is published. You will need to stagger these releases slightly, to gain the maximum effectiveness. However, writing takes time as does all the other components behind writing (getting a good cover, figuring out blurbs, getting a decent editor).

Step #2:

Before you publish anything, build a mailing list. The best way to do this is to give away your novella on website like StoryOrigin and Bookfunnel. By building this mailing list, you have an engaged audience that will hopefully buy your new series of books. This is also why you wanted the novella to be a prequel to the main trio of books. The more you can have an audience ready to buy and leave reviews, the better. Once you reach your desired mailing list, it can be time to start the launch process. The launch process is different for each book. Technically, you’ve started launching by building your mailing list. The next thing you need to do is build reviews.

Step #3:

While you want all your books to have great reviews, it is best to start with the main focus. You want as many reviews as possible on book 1. It is best to build an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) campaign. In this idea, you give away your first full book, for free, to gain honest feedback on it. This is done before the book is ready for purchase. The goal is to have all these reviewer ready for the first day of your first book’s release. I would even argue that you want to continue focusing on getting reviews on book 1 after it releases. People are not just judging your book by the star rating, but by the number of ratings. Reviews on book 1 are more important than making any money from your series.

Step #4

The next step is to time book #2 and book #3 to be released. With each release, it becomes a balance of marketing the newly released book and marketing the series as a whole. Make sure to link all the books together so that it will be easy for readers to read the next one in the series. After you’ve released book #2, determine what marketing / ad stacking works and what didn’t work. Refine that process and try again on book #3. Once you are done researching how book #3’s release went, you can move onto the final main step.

Step #5

This is where the cold, hard truth is finally realized. With all your material released, and several marketing campaigns under your belt, you can finally understand read-through. This is the amount of people that read book #1, then book #2, and finally book #3. Knowing this read though, and what marketing is best, you can calculate if the series of books will make money or not. Many authors focus on keeping a constant stream of marketing on book #1 while only doing bursts of marketing for new books. Once you know how much a particular series makes, you can understand if you have a solid stream of royalty revenue on your hands.

So… beyond the time, where do you find the money for all of this? Covers are expensive, as are editors, as are marketing campaigns. Writing a book, let alone a series of books, is very expensive. Let’s not even go into building audiobooks, which is an extremely costly enterprise. To pay for writing books, many fiction authors will dabble with non-fiction. There are two main ways of doing this where I’ve found some success. The great thing about combining non-fiction and fiction writing is that you can further diversify your income stream.

Place #1 for Non-Fiction: Hubpages

I’ve had a lot of success posting non-fiction on Hubpages because it feels like they care about how your article does. They will go in and modify a few things to help you rank higher in the search engine. They try to give you scores and methods to make your content better. They make it easy to update the articles with a few fresh tid-bits. My personal preference on building non-fiction is Hubpages.

Place #2 for Non-Fiction: Freelance and Content Mills

I haven’t spent a lot of time building a freelance portfolio, though I know that can work well. I did spend some time digging through content mills. There is a lot to be desired by content mills. My favorite was Blog Mutt (Now call Verblio). I liked this one because I could find a decent amount of work, I could influence if it was successfully accepted, and I got paid a fair amount (fair to me may not be fair to you). I wrote 86 articles which earned me $687.25. Each of these articles was about 300 words, so that’s 25,800 words total. That equates to around 2.6c per word. That’s nowhere near the professional freelance rates of 10c to $1 per word. However, I got to somewhat choose the topics I wanted to write about and influence if the article would be bought or not. Since I just wrote about what I knew, it took very little research and pre-work. That made the 2.6c per word a quick-ish way to a bit of extra cash.

In summation, there are two main goals when you are self-publishing on Amazon. The first is just to be proud that you published a book. The second is to build a stream of royalties. You can accomplish the first just by building a paperback and selling it to yourself. You can accomplish the second by writing a lot. The focus is to build a series of books and a freebie to help build your mailing list. Once you’ve released all the books, and you understand marketing and read through, you can have a solid stream of royalties. However, for most new authors, they need to spend a fair amount on book covers and editors. After all, there is very little barrier to entry, which means the market is flooded with bad books. The only way to stand out is to have a wonderful book. So, to get the funds necessary to publish, I recommend two things. The first is building up a non-fiction portfolio that can help pay for the fiction side of the house. The second is to work on gigs and content mills to build a small pool of money. You can then use this money to better perfect your fiction product. The hope is that your fiction product sells enough that you can then launch an audiobook. Once you have an audiobook, you can translate the book into multiple languages. Another option is to simply write more in the series. The eventual goal is to make enough that you feel happy with your venture. Writing is amazing and getting paid for your art is beyond amazing.

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Finding Book Reviewers: Three Types of Advanced Reader Copy Sites

Social proof is a complicated matter, regardless of the product you are trying to sell. However, social proof is one of the top factors shoppers take into consideration. After all, most shopping done is not repeat business, but rather first time. This means that we need to not only verify the function of what we are buying, we need to ferret out all the potential problems. It’s only in the completion of that shopping pre-work that we find success. The question then becomes, how can we help assure readers that our book is free of potential problems? The best answer to that is in getting book reviewers to weigh in. How do we get book reviewers to discuss our particular product? We do this through providing advanced reader copies (ARC’s) and setting up a review timeframe.

All of that information is good, but where do we start as authors? We are, by typical definitions, self-deprecating creatures who fear and feast on feedback. We loathe to seek reviews out, but they are so crucial to our practice. We need to get better and we want people to like the stories that we are creating. I’ve found that there are three main types of ARC websites. The first I am going to call “the farms”. The second major arc website are the “contest websites”. The third and final ARC website type is the “Direct Ask” websites. This article will focus on these three types, discuss several tips for working with reviewers, then show a popular video on where to find book reviewers.

Book Reviewer Type 1: The Farms

Before I get into these individual websites, why do I call this category ‘the farms’. The reason for this is simple: the more work you put in, the more relationships your grow, the more ‘review fruit’ you will yield. A lot of these websites are not instant solutions, but rather building reviewer audiences slowly. If a reviewer liked your book, they might want to review your next one. Get enough of those people and every time you ask you can score a bunch of reviews. Now I am going to name the names here (after all I want this article to be as useful as possible):

Book Sprout

This is my first go-to website when I am looking for book reviewers. Why do I go to this little known website? It is because it doesn’t cost anything to get the reviews and it is a fairly quick process. That being said, I can only expect to get 2-3 reviews per book. That’s not a lot of yield, but it does produce something. In addition, they do all the reminder emails to potential book reviewers. That takes a lot of work out of the process.

Hidden Gems / Book Sirens

I was signed up for this one, but haven’t had a chance to go through with it. The premise of this one is that you pay for each potential reviewer. This is one of the more popular locations, and it’s price tag/long delay in getting a spot is well known. I did find one fantasy author that got 26 reviews from them, out of 30 review requests. Another website that might be similar to Hidden Gems is Book Sirens. I haven’t posted a book there yet, but I look forward to trying out this website soon.

Your Mailing List

This isn’t a specific website, but rather a method that is wonderful to employ. If you’ve built up a fan base through a mailing list, why not ask the mailing list if there are any ARC readers? This can yield not only a small team of people ready to review your work, but they are pre-dispositioned to like what you have. After all, they joined your mailing list to learn more. There is a lot of work to building a good team of reviewers from your mailing list, but if done properly, they can be a first stop.

BookFunnel / StoryOrigin

These two websites can be used for a lot of things. You can use it to build your mailing list, as a sales platform, and to help find book reviewers. It can also be a great place to lead people who buy your book from your website. StoryOrigin even has a number of audiobook tools to use as well. That being said, I haven’t used either of these sites to help build my reviewer audience, but I could easily see that working well there.


This can be really expensive and difficult to use. The only way that I’ve gained access is to pay for the co-op access. That is, find a group where you can have access to NetGalley for a fee. That being said, I’ve never had much luck with NetGalley. When I’ve broken down the cost per review, it just wasn’t worth it to me.

Book Reviewer Type 2: Contests

These are less along the lines of building a reviewer audience. Instead, this strategy focuses on giving gifts and hoping for a review. As you can imagine, this strategy might help with a one time increase in “book buzz” but it won’t build upon itself. I would suggest working with the “farm” category websites as a regular part of your reviewer strategy. I would then use contests and direct asks to help boost your efforts. For example, if you are trying to get a bunch of reviews on a first book in a series, it might be good to work through contests and direct asks. However, if it’s book 7 in the series, it might be best to work through the farm category of websites. So which websites are in the “contest category”?


This is one where if people add your book into their to read lists, they may win a physical copy of your book. Once they do, it’s hoped that they will read the work, and then publish the review. Goodreads is known for being more critical of books, which can lead to brutally honest reviews. However, many Goodreads ARC readers will post to Amazon and other locations as well. I’ve had some mixed success with this approach. The biggest downside is that sending a physical book to people is time consuming and expensive. It might be worth doing on the first in a series, but not a series that is well established.

Blog Tours

I believe this is one of my most hated options, because there are a lot of scammers in this space. Scammers will build a network of “blogs” and then charge authors to post to these black holes. They are not all bad, but this area does require a fair amount of research before you invest. The way these blog tours work is that you submit answers to questions, or a small article, and they post it to their blog. They then have a “you can win this book” contest running at the bottom. If you win the contest, you are expected to leave a review. Again, I don’t like how many scammers are in this space so I tend to avoid it.

Book Reviewer Type 3: Direct Asks

This method is the most direct and can yield amazing results. The only problem is the time it takes. If you have a lot of time to spend, or you are trying to launch a series, these are great methods. Some of these are talked about a lot, plus I haven’t tried them out, so I am unsure of their success rates.

Amazon Top Reviewers

In this strategy, you surf through your competitors Amazon listings. You pick out those top reviewers who enjoy your category of book. You then reach out to them asking for a book review. I haven’t tried this method out, but it could go either way. I could see these reviewers getting lots of requests, so they ignore most of them. I could also see these reviewers helping bring their own audience with them. This may or may not be a wonderful method. I simply haven’t tried this out.

Book Blog Websites

This is similar to the Amazon Top Reviewers, but instead you are using Google to find popular locations. The idea behind this is to find small pockets of potential audience and lead them toward your book. Many of these book blog websites will post the review to both their website and Amazon. That being said, you need to make sure that it is a reputable website, and not just a ghost town/scam website. Make sure to check their online authority score and Google PageRank score.


This method is where you put ads on a variety of platforms asking for review exchange. There are a lot of places on Facebook that can do this. I’ve found a lot of places on Facebook are review for review, which I believe Amazon hates. You can serve ads to try and get ARC reviewers, but I am not sure how well that works. Again, this can take a fair amount of time to perfect, as you narrow down your audience more and more. The goal being to find a small subset of people who want to review your specific work in a category. This can be a good place to spend time working, if you plan to market the book on the platform after you launch. Knowing your audience is key to success in selling.

Three Tips and Tricks When Dealing with Reviewers

Getting people willing to review your work isn’t enough. Instead you need to be able to move that into actual reviews. There are three ways to help make sure you get the most reward for your efforts.

Tip #1: Know Your Audience

Everyone likes a slightly different flavor of book. If you ask someone who loves non-fiction to work through a fantasy book… they may hate it. That can lead to them either giving the book a bad review, or not leaving a review at all. Part of the trick in finding good reviewers is finding reviewers interested your specific book flavor. You can find your audience by look through your competition’s listings and seeing where they are posted online. You can also pull information from your mailing list. Finally, you can look to the hero of your story. Often times, people will subjectively write their target audience member as the hero of the story. A young adult novel may feature a teenager breaking free of their parents. A thriller may feature a hero with a family and is targeted towards those going mid-life adventures. The goal with knowing your audience is to get the most reward for your effort.

Tip #2: Always Follow-up (Twice)

Getting someone to commit to reading/reviewing your work is not enough. You need them to be actively involved. Life always has a lot going, so that involvement can waver as well. I try to do two rounds of review reminders. Shortly before the date the review is due, I send them a message reminding them the review is due soon. After the due date, I wait a week or two. If I see they haven’t reviewed, I send a polite message asking them if they had trouble. They may have some sort of technical issue when posting the review. This helps remind them to finish up on the review process. Doing this follow-up can turn a lot of potential reviews into actual reviews.

Tip #3: Never Argue / Respond to Reviews

This is one of the most difficult things to do. People can read your work and hate it. They then post criticism that feels untrue or resentful to the work you’ve put in. However, the best strategy is to not engage. Why is that? Because when you see the author being petty, it is an “anti-sales” event. People often view the author as ‘cool’ until proven otherwise. People are used to having both positive and negative reviews. The best method to respond to these critical responses is to simply keep writing better and better. Never portray a petty and angry author if you can help it.

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

StoryOrigin versus BookFunnel when Building a Mailing List

These two services provide similar functions, but often to different levels of success. I’ve spent the last year and half marketing the same books on both services. The idea was to build my mailing list as much as possible. In addition, I wanted to have a mailing list that interacted with my work as much as possible. After all, it doesn’t make any sense to build a list of freebie seekers if they never intend to buy books or work with your offers. Let’s break this service competition into three rounds: type of users, value for money, and speed of list growth. Please remember: Your mileage may vary! Some books are wild successes and others wild failures.

Round 1: Type of Users

As mentioned in the introductory paragraph, having a person’s email address doesn’t mean much if it’s a burner email. If they don’t intend to regularly check their email, open your specific offer, and take you up on those offers… what is the point of having a mailing list? You want people to regularly enjoy your work. I use MailChimp and keep my lists very clean. I also send out emails twice a month and built my emails on a lot of best practices. So… what did I achieve? With my StoryOrigin list, I average a 52% open rate, 14.8% click rate, and 2.3% unsubscribe rate. My best campaigns have a 26% click rate, while my worst have around 12% click rate. All of that is pretty impressive, but let’s also look at my BookFunnel users. Those campaigns have an average of a 56.6% open rate, 15.7% click rate, and 3.2% unsubscribe rate. My best campaigns have a 23% click rate and my worst have a 11% click rate. So what is the synopsis for these two different sources? I would say that BookFunnel users are more engaged, but that also translates to unsubscribing as well. Both sources draw from a similar pool of people, so you will often have the same people from both services.

Winner: Barely a Tie

Round 2: Value for Money

This is a really tricky one to gauge, as different authors want different things. For example, StoryOrigin has word counters on it while BookFunnel does a great job of eBook delivery. However, I am going to toss out any feature that is not central to building the mailing list. They both start out at $100 per year. At first glance, BookFunnel has some downsides comparatively to StoryOrigin. For example, BookFunnel restricts you to 5000 downloads a month, while StoryOrigin has unlimited. The truth is, though, that you will probably not hit this limit while trying to build a mailing list. BookFunnel’s 5000 may as well be called unlimited. There are two things though that make StoryOrigin a clear winner from a value perspective. First off, that $100/yr includes integration with your mailing service. Not having to regularly import users makes life a lot easier. In addition, StoryOrigin includes a newsletter swap option. These are 1 for 1 book recommendation exchanges (I’ll promote your mailing list builder if you recommend my mailing list builder). These can be great because they help boost your mailing list speed during the later parts of the month. Often times, monthly group campaigns start slowing towards the end of the month. You can keep things going well by adding in some of these direct newsletter swaps.

Winner: Clearly StoryOrigin

Round 3: Speed of List Growth

We’ve dug into the audience participation and what it will cost to get that. The final component, and often most hard to measure, is how fast your list grows. As I mentioned in the introduction, I’ve spent the last year and a half promoting the same books on both platforms. What I didn’t mention is that I kept these platform promotions equal. For example, if I was doing three group promotions on BookFunnel, I would also do three group promotions on StoryOrigin. I also kept them the same type of list building campaigns and tried to match the same size of group promotions. What did I find? While both of these services pull from a similar pool of people, BookFunnel was the first to move into this market area. As such, they captured more “market share”. That means there are simply more people using BookFunnel then there are using StoryOrigin. What difference did this make in building a mailing list? My StoryOrigin user base would grow at 70% the rate of my BookFunnel user base. That means for every 10 users I got through BookFunnel, I would gain 7 users through StoryOrigin.

Winner: Clearly BookFunnel

Summation: Based on these three rounds, it may be easy to come to the conclusion that it is a tie. However, my preference is strongly StoryOrigin. Why is that? Their innovation and access is much better. For BookFunnel, you have to pay a lot extra to gain access to anyone for support questions. StoryOrigin’s creator sends you direct emails and interacts with you directly. You don’t have to pay any extra for that. In addition, StoryOrigin is constantly adding new features. I don’t remember the last time BookFunnel added a feature. Finally, StoryOrigin recently launched their subscription model. Up until recently, they were completely free. When they launched their subscription model, they had a 30% off coupon that will last the life of my membership. That means that instead of paying $100 I pay $70 a year. They already won the value argument, but this completely seals the deal for me. I also really love the 1 for 1 trades, as they can include Amazon affiliate codes. That means another revenue source for me. I don’t make a lot (few bucks each email) but that helps offset the $70 per year I paid. All that being said, if I were running my own eBook store, I would probably select BookFunnel. I believe they have a better delivery system, though I haven’t tried it out. Plus, more people are going to be familiar with their delivery system, since they moved into the market first.

Bonus Tip: In my review above, I mentioned that StoryOrigin has 1 for 1 trades. That’s where you recommend their individual book for your individual book. StoryOrigin has a system built around this that is absolutely amazing! It is so amazing because it gives you a sneak peek into another author’s mailing list. In addition, you can see the success of those campaigns! When you are improving your methods, why not emulate those lists that work the best? With StoryOrigin I can see when a fellow author is going to send a campaign, how well that campaign did (down to an individual book level), and even see a copy of those campaigns. I can see if they have a large list that is poorly maintained or a small list that is extremely active. That means, when I trade a 1 for 1 recommendation, I can trade it with someone who has a similar track record as me. In addition, if I notice someone is doing absolutely amazing, I can copy their recipe for success! While I am not sure if StoryOrigin intended this use, it makes a huge world of difference. I can also gauge how well my list is doing versus all my competitors, since both are verified. (Hint: I am doing pretty good at the moment)

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Hubpages vs Medium: Which Pays Better

I’ve had this blog for some time, but I don’t make any real money on it. I believe I’ve totaled around $1.13 via Google. Instead, I decided to take my content to two other major sources. The reasons for this are varied. The main reason I take my content over to Hubpages is that they care about the searchability of your articles. The goal is to build good articles that Google wants and that rank high because of value. That means they will tell you the quality of your article and will even make edits on your articles to make them rank higher. On the other side, there is Medium, which has a built in audience. The focus with this platform is to build an ecosystem outside of Google so that you can make money without having to worry about ranking. Instead you get your stories “published” in their virtual magazines.

Let’s break down an essential focus right away: visits for money. The whole reason you write blog articles online is to eventually monetize what you create. That way you can continue to create more. Let’s start with Medium. In April, one of my articles had 756 views which resulted in 6 cents in revenue to me. One of my Hubpage articles had 758 views in the past 30 days. I estimate that article made me 12 cents in revenue to me. Another interesting thing is that Hubpages also will modify my article, without requiring any prompting from me, to continue to make it search engine accessible. That means that it can stay fresh much, much longer.

Obviously, your mileage may vary. You may also want to try out both of these approaches because you want both sides of the coin. Sometimes it can be wonderful to make your income come from multiple sources so that you are not reliant on any one source. However, at the same time, you don’t want to pour a lot of resources into something that doesn’t work.

How do I write my articles for Hubpages?

There are a variety of steps you can take, but here are the seven ones that I follow.

1.) Find a topic via Google Keyword Finder / Google Trends

The first thing I do is I think about what I know a lot about and what I want to write about. I then go to Google and put in that keyword. I may pick up a few websites that have that information I like. I may not find website I like. Either way, I then go to Google Keyword Finder and plug in that keyword. I sort out all the high competition keywords. Next up, I look for keywords with both traffic and length. The ideal is a keyword combination with 3-4 words that is low competition, but has a high amount of people going to it. Sometimes I’ll plug in a website I like and have Google Keyword Finder look for topics based on that website. I may also put that keyword in Google Trends and surf around in there looking for ideas. I will then take those ideas back to Google Keyword Finder to verify. What this step is about is not granting success, but rather, helping stack the odds in your favor. If you have an idea about an article Google needs, you are further along. Don’t think that Google doesn’t need quality content. It needs great content every day!

2.) Write a long article about that topic

Next up, write that fantastic article. You want an article that is longer, preferable 2000+ words. I know that this seems like a lot, but it really isn’t. You can always visit several websites and build a mega article on different topics. The goal is just to have the main focus of your article centered around the keyword(s) you found in step one. This article is where you bring most of your value.

3.) Split the article into pieces and add images between the pieces

Reading several thousand words can be tedious to some people. It can help to break your big article into several chunks, then put relevant images between each chunk. I often use Pixabay to help with this, since you can use their images without any liability concerns. I will also use Canva to build a article header image with the name of the article. That way, if this article is refenced, it will include a custom image that reflects the topic. It’s not just a simple article, it’s a custom long form article.

4.) Add extra to the article (polls, videos, additional small articles)

Now that your main article is done, it’s time to take it over the top. I always add custom polls, video, and a small sub-article in the main article. I make sure all of the add-ons are relevant to the topic. The goal here is to bring as much value to that topic as possible. Some people learn better with the data a poll presents, while others would love a video over reading. Either way, you want to keep your audience with you and gaining value. These additional extras add some additional stickiness to your work.

5.) Build good intros with the right ratio of keywords

Now that you have everything built, you want it to referenced properly. You want to hit that middle ground with your intros and other areas. You want the right ratio of the keywords you’re trying to rank for, along with similar keywords. In addition, you want it to have the right sales pitch for the article. You have to be careful not to stuff keywords or to make it sound like the intro isn’t organic. It needs to read like a traditional intro, but you also want to pay attention to when and where you use your keywords.

6.) Publish, then re-publish

With Hubpages, you first publish your article. They rate it and make sure it’s decent quality. That may include that the article is long enough and that it has those extra value pieces. Once they approve your article, they will publish it on Hubpages and give it a rank. After they publish it on Hubpages, you need to re-publish (or submit it) to one of their sub-sites. The goal is to gain the most traction possible.

7.) Watch what works and build off what works

If you are expecting an avalanche of immediate traffic, that’s not how blogging works. Instead, it’s a trickle that slowly becomes bigger. I tend to watch what articles are gaining speed. In addition, Hubpage stats allow you to see if the traction is from their internal systems or Google. My goal is to build articles that have traction with Google, so I am looking for ones that perform well with Google and are gaining speed. Once I see several of these articles that are working, I go back to step 1, but with the idea of writing similar articles. For example, if I built an article on entrepreneurship funding that hit well, my focus might be in entrepreneurship accounting for the next article. They are similar in feel and having several relevant articles tied together can help boost your work overall.

In summation, I believe Hubpages makes a lot more money than Medium. In addition, I’ve gone through the seven steps I take to build a wonderful Hubpage article that gains me money. Again, this business won’t make you rich overnight, but it will help slowly build up a royalty stream. That stream can be used as constant fuel for other projects and ideas. Best of luck on what you want to accomplish with blogging!


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