Archives for February 2017

Why You Need Writer Friends

Many new writers are wary (and even scared) of forming friendships with other writers. Creativity comes from living life, ideas come from getting out of your comfort zone, exploring the world.  But even the most introverted individual needs fellow writers to talk to, better yet a close-knit network of writer friends.  Having wonderful, (but not writer) friends, family, and writing to keep you busy is fine, but having professional discussions with other writers is essential, und it would make the writing process a lot less fearful.
Working in isolation might over time suck the life out of the writing, and you might hit a plateau. Having people you can trust and who understand the crazyness because they had endured it, too. Often writers really want to open up with someone about their writing failures and successes, but never having anyone to talk to. We need someone to tell us when our writing is good (and when it’s god awful terrible), someone to complain with, someone to pick us up when we feel like quitting.
Writer Friends are Not Only for Socializing…
Becoming part of a small writers or critique group means:

  • Writer friends know exactly what you are going through
  • Writer friends will help you to improve your writing
  • Writer friends will inspire you and teach you new things
  • Writer friends will be your first readers and proofreaders/beta readers
  • Writer friends will help you to promote your books

Proofreaders/Beta Readers
Beta Readers are not your editor or proof reader and don’t expect them to do the grunt work. That’s your job. They can help to strengthen your story from the beginning. But they could spot a few flaws BEFORE you release the book. They might discover passive voice, accents, cliches, misspelling, typos.
Beta Reading might save you a lot of money if the editor is charging by the hour.  Beta Readers also help to polish your book before the first reviewer or readers get their hand on your book.
Writer Friends are Helping to Promote Your Books
Building a platform, getting a follower-ship and being constantly present on social media are not a favored task by most writers. But with a little help from your friends…promoting each others books makes it much easier and not a chore anymore. Start with the basics and exchange this:

  • Recommend your writer friend’s books regulrely at Goodreads. You will find the Goodreads page dedicated for this under “Browse” and then “Recommendations”.
  • Recommend and share the books on all your social media accounts, as well as to your family and “real live friends.
  • Share her or his blogs posts, and use the sharing buttons on each of the Amazon pages and on Goodreads for all books she/he wrote.
  • Write guest blogs for each others blog or website, and help your writer friend to find book reviewers in your circles and online communities.

Where to Find Writing Groups and Writer Friends

  • Join writer communities at Wattpad, LibraryThings, Goodreads and Google+
  • Meet-up groups are practically in every large town and city and offer critique groups and writers circles
  • Find writer friends at workshops and conferences
  • Social media sites usually have writer groups in your genre, such as LinkedIn, Google+ or Facebook

No excuses! There is no shortage on like-minded writers that are all looking for pals. Just say hello!
Writers are usually really warm and willing to go out of their way to help each other. We’re all in this together, right?  Remember: you are in this for a long time – if writing is really what you like best in life. 

Read also: Why Authors Need Beta Readers



Tagged: beta readers, Google+, Marketing, Meet-up Wattpad, Writer friends

Steamy Short Stories – Book Giveaway

Sign up at Goodreads – ENTER to WIN  

Secret Cinemas: 10 Erotic Movie Fantasies

only 18 years or over… 

Andy Warhol, film-maker and visual artist, once famously stated: “Sex is more exciting on the screen and between the pages than between the sheets.” How true this really is, proves the author, Dr. Charlayne Grenci, in her latest book:
SECRET CINEMAS: 10 Erotic Movie Fantasies.

Opening SECRET CINEMAS, you are entering a world of sexual fantasy, passion and pleasure where you can explore and experience the powerful, captivating realm of erotic sexual adventures and escapades.

Only for a short time: US-Goodreads members have a chance to win the print version.

AMAZON REVIEWER: “I really liked the “out of the box” idea of placing yourself in the storyline. It is a very erotic book and a new take on erotic novels. Awesome book, I highly recommend it.”



Additional Earnings with Wattpad



What about earning some pocket money – even before you novel is published?  Through the Wattpad “Futures” program, interested writers can supplement their income with little effort. The program helps writers earn money by inserting ads between chapters of their Wattpad story.  Every time a reader views an ad, the writer earns money.

Let’s compare it with other reader/writer platforms, such as Goodreads, Facebook or Spotify, which also have advertisements on each page. They won’t give you a cent…

Maybe worth thinking about joining Wattpad if you are not already a member, especially when you are writing in the Young Adult, Sci-Fi, FanFiction or Romance categories. Don’t forget: “Wattpadders” are avid readers!  It will certainly not work from the first time you are uploading a chapter to Wattpad, and might even take several months – until you have enough followers.

Margaret Atwood, world-known best seller novelist and poet, Booker Prize winner is only one of two million authors, who upload single chapters or more to Readers have the chance to read, enjoy and critique manuscripts – mostly before authors finish and pre-edit them.

Canadian-based, founded in 2007, was initially providing a mobile platform for public domain works from Project Gutenberg. Within two years, the Wattpad app had been downloaded 5 million times.  Writers post work in chapters, which tend to be short, to make them suitable mobile.  Wattpad is entirely free for all of its users which means that authors are actually giving their work away for free – no sales on the Wattpad site!  However if your readers ask you, send them a list with links to all your sales pages.

According to Wikipedia:  

  • 85% of its traffic and usage comes from mobile devices
  • the site has almost 40 million unique visitors per month
  • there are over 100,000 story uploads per day
  • there have been over two million writers

Writers reach a global audience of millions of readers.
There’s nothing worse than writing a great book and then struggling to find readers. Other social networks aren’t wired for long-form reading like Wattpad.   Wattpad’s reader community of over 40 million people are hungry for great stories and spend 13 billion minutes per month on Wattpad.  At Wattpad, readers make up 90% of our community. This means that for every one writer there are ten readers.

At Wattpad you don’t have to have a finished manuscript to post and share your work. And in fact, it’s better if you don’t.  Serialization is what works best on Wattpad.  Think of your work like a television show.  Authors retain all rights to their work and are protected by copyright law in areas such as distribution, performance, and creation of the work.

Featured Story List and Contests
Wattpad also has a Featured Story list, which promotes content reviewed and approved by staff and an editorial review board. Many of these featured stories are written by self-published and professional writers from different genres.
Wattpad holds several smaller contests a year and one major one. The large annual contest is called “The Watty Awards”. Contests are open to anyone who has a Wattpad account.

Wattpad, in collaboration with Margaret Atwood, Canadian poet/novelist/literary critic, held the “Attys”; the first major poetry contest offering a chance to poets on Wattpad to compete against each other in one of two categories, either as an “Enthusiast” or a “Competitor”.

Wattpad “After Dark”
Read the steamiest romance stories for all passions and persuasions. If you love Romance novels or 50 Shades of Grey, you’ll love After Dark

Mature Romance includes, but is not limited to, Erotic Romance, Steamy Romance, New Adult, LGBTQ, Erotica, Dark Romance, and BDSM.  Get a free iTunes app and download steamy book chapters.

Making Money With a Kind of Affiliate Program.
Wattpad Futures gives the platform’s more than 2.3 million writers a chance to earn income in-story.  “In-story ads are placed strategically in chapter breaks of some of the most popular stories on the platform.”

Through the Wattpad Futures program, writers can choose to insert ads between chapters of their Wattpad story; every time a reader views an ad, the writer earns money.  
The more times the ad is viewed, the more you’ll get paid.  So, to optimize your earnings, keep updating your stories and continue engaging with the readers who support you!   

Porter Anderson of Publishing Perspectives explains: “ When an ad is available between chapters of a work on the platform, what the reader sees is an invitation to view it.  Writers are paid according to views. 90 percent of readers are engaging on mobile.  The Toronto, Canada, based “Wattpad Stars” is a stable of particularly popular writers on the platform.  More than $1 million was paid out to them last year, company officials say, for their abilities to draw traffic to their writings.”
“Readers have always encouraged their favorite storytellers with messages, comments, and votes.  Now, they can support Wattpad writers in a way that increases the writer’s income, without having to pay out of pocket.”
Wattpad Stars, an Accelerator for Top Writers.
The program helps writers take their skills to the next level, and provides brands and publishers with an opportunity to tap into Wattpad’s roster of talented digital influencers.
Wattpad describes their program that improves writers careers: “Wattpad Stars” are commissioned by top brands to write stories that entertain and engage audiences and some even see their work in print or as screen adaptations.  They also receive marketing and support from Wattpad to increase their presence and advance their careers.

if You Are Not a Member Yet…
Wattpad was established in 2006.  Today it has more than 45 million members spending an average of thirty minutes on the platform per visit.  There are more than 130,000 signups daily.  The service is offered in English, Spanish, Danish, Polish, Italian, Swedish, German, Turkish, Japanese, Chinese, Arabic, Catalan, a total of more than 50 languages.

See how to get started on Wattpad


How to Run a Successful Crowd-Funding Campaign


In this series how you can earn more money as a writer, the following Crowdfunding article is NOT about getting rich, but rather how to get funds for your publishing project. It’s not meant to improve your personal income.

Crowdfunding is an amazing opportunity for authors to focus on: raising funds pre-publication, collecting pre-orders and testing market viability, finding their first readers and fans, getting feedback and future book reviewers.

Crowdfunding is an alternative way to bring in money for your book project. It could be for the print run; the layout and design; a marketing or publicity campaign; research that requires travel… just about anything. It’s free money to you, with a few strings attached…
For example: making sure rewards get out to donors in time,  and that you do what you say you are going to do, and certainly to declare it as taxable income and to pay your taxes. The expenses that authors incur in creating a book should more than offset the income so don’t get hung up on this. The good news is that you don’t have to pay it back and you have money to invest further.

Most business ideas in the world are funded because they have the ability to make someone else’s money. That’s what investment is, what lending is. If raising money isn’t your strength – and you don’t have access to a favorite grandma with oodles of cash to spare – you may just want to set your sights on becoming the next crowdfunding success story.
Supporters of your crowdfunding campaign are your (future) customers!  Crowdfunding is a way to pre-order books before they are produced and invaluable for a startup author-publisher.  Too often, authors write books before knowing the depth of their reader base. Crowdfunding means you have readers before your book is published.


Create Buzz for Your Book:
Conducting a crowdfunding campaign is a great way to land interest and support around a book pre-publication, an essential part of the overall success of a book. This allows authors to collect pre-orders for their book during their crowdfunding campaign.  The ability to collect pre-orders provides authors with an already active audience – and often reviewers – to jumpstart the success of their book once it’s published. Top crowdfunding sites are Kickstarter,







Since the site launched in 2009, Kickstarter projects have attracted total pledges of over three billion US-dollars.  The second successful site is IndieGoGo.

Carefully Read the Instructions!
You might have followed this IndieGoGo crowdfunding campaign where 108,654 people raised €1,930,577 – almost 2 Million Euros in only 8 days.  On the second day, the IndieGoGo server broke down from the number of visitors to Thom Feeney’s site.  It could have been one of the most successful campaigns if … Yes, if Thom Feeney would have chosen “flexible funding”, one of the greatest features on IndieGoGo – and available at IndieGoGo – not on Kickstarter for example.
Using “flexible funding”, allows you to receive at least the funds that are donated, even if the target could not be reached.  So, DO READ their user tips before you sign up.   The same is true for funding of a non-profit cause.  Why pay high fees at Gofundme if you can get the same campaign at IndieGoGo and collect donations for a cause, without having to pay a high fee?
Success: How to Promote Your Crowdfunding Campaign

Quite a few authors had a successful campaign, securing funds to self-publish and print their e-books for the paper book market, others to print beautiful “coffee table books” featuring stunning photos.  IndieGogo takes 4% of your earnings if you reach your goal and 9% if you don’t.  Kickstarter is all or nothing.  If you don’t reach your goal – no money is exchanged, and backers receive their money back.  But if you do reach your goal you get the full amount minus 5% (and mines the bank transaction fees).

A successful crowdfunding campaign is a proof that a readership exists for your book.  Publishing means you have to sell books, and a crowdfunding campaign is a cheap way for you to test the waters.  If you create an interesting campaign, crowdfunding sites will promote it additionally and let the message go viral.

The term is crowdfunding means: You need a crowd to fund your idea.

There are several groups you’ll need to include in your marketing strategy, and each of these will require a different approach:

  • The new reader audience you want to attract
  • Any subscribers, followers, or fans in your social media world
  • Your existing personal network of friends and family
  • Acquaintances like co-workers and neighbors

Checking your email contacts, Facebook and Twitter friends and Google+ or LinkedIn communities for those who may help to support your campaign.  Make sure you are reaching out in a personal way and month in advance to genuinely reconnect.  No one would want to get an email from somebody they haven’t spoken with in three years, asking to “please support my campaign.”

Divide your lists between friends, family, acquaintances and business associates. Send different messages to each of these groups.  You wouldn’t send the same note about supporting your crowdfunding project to a business associate as you would to a family member or a good friend.  Evaluate who could help to spread the word about your campaign.

Identify people who could help promote your campaign. Maybe they are willing to post your campaign on their Facebook page, or mention your campaign in their email newsletter.  Try to find groups that have the same goals as you do. They’ will be the most motivated to support your efforts.

Only a small percentage – maximal 20% of any fan base – will actually donate.  So, the more followers and fans you can gather, the better your chances of success. Spend time to build a larger following. Google+, Facebook,  and Twitter are the key channels for the promotion of your campaign.

Once you collect the first 30% of your goal from your inner circle, cast your net wider to capture more influencers and target-audience members.  Be sure to include the media in your hard launch.  Offer a free article or small excerpt of your book to your local newspapers and neighborhood weekly’s, and include a line or two about your campaign.   Use press releases, social networks and buzz, created by early supporters to help increase your exposure and attract more backers.

New supporters will be more likely to contribute funds, once they can see that you have momentum and a solid base of donations.  Good luck!



Lots of Benefits for Writing Guest Blogs


If you read enough blogs in the writing and publishing field – which every writer should – you will find the names of successful writers over and over – writing content for others.  Their articles are almost always ending with a short bio and a link to their books or their website.
While it takes dedication to consistently write great posts, the benefits far outweigh the time investment:  Guest posting means writing articles or blog posts for other websites. There are numerous websites that require authentic and originally written posts on topics which are relevant to their website. At the same time, the guest writer might have a website that has some relevance to the blogging site, thus allowing for a mutual benefit:

  • A great advantage of guest blogging for others increases your exposure to more readers, while at the same time is helping you build your brand.
  • An author who has been published on relevant sites will most likely be seen as more credible than someone who has not written guest posts at all.
  • Increased website traffic is one of the main reasons why many writers choose to begin guest blogging.
  • Many websites allow writers to submit a bio and/or their social media profile URLs to be published at the end of the post. These links drive referral traffic and boost organic search engine rankings
  • Don’t forget the social media exposure from sharing buttons on these blogs
  • Many blog owners allow you to take the guest blog after a month and post it also on your own website.

Why Would Anyone Write 500 Guest Blog Posts on LinkedIn?
This is just what media specialist Bruce Kasanoff did: Using social media to attract new clients, a highly efficient and effective strategy, but only if your mindset is to help people first and to sell a distant second.

He explains further that engagement matters far more than views, which means Likes, Shares, and Comments.  “On LinkedIn, you can see the identity of everyone who Likes, Shares, or Comments on your articles.  The Internet is plagued by trolls, but LinkedIn has very few of them.  I can’t name another business site that attracts so many smart, perceptive and interactive professionals.  When I pose a question, I get often dozens or even hundreds of thoughtful answers.”

Another benefit: Everything you publish on LinkedIn is seen by your (professional) followers, and you can send it out via Twitter and Facebook to their social media accounts. It certainly helps to have lots of LinkedIn followers in the area of your writing.

Tips on How to Write Guest Blogs:

Follow the Guidelines
It seems obvious, but too many writers don’t follow the guidelines – at all. Don’t wonder when there is no answer to inquiries. Editors don’t waste their time to email you back with a link to their submission rules. Just as editors vary from one publication to another, so do guidelines.

Word count matters.
This is usually non-negotiable. Some publications state that any submissions over the word count won’t even be read. Guidelines clarify necessary items, such as a title, a bio, a PayPal account, or links to social media platforms. The guidelines also state whether to submit in the body of an email, as an attachment, or through a special format.

Study their writing styles, content, and the writer’s voice.
The better you match your pitch to the blog you want to write for, the greater your chances of success.

Important Reminder: How to Write a Web Guest Blog
Reading from a digital device is different from reading a book – and so is writing!

Being a Welcomed Guest Blogger
When you write guest posts for someone else, do the following:

  • Link to the post from your blog (or re-blog)
  • Promote it on Twitter and Facebook – several times per week
  • Thank the blog owner for the opportunity
  • Stick around and respond to comments on the post

Writer Blogs That Pay for Guest Posts
Write Naked:
The Dollar Stretcher:
Scary Mommy:
Make a Living Writing:

More Listings:

Write Guest Posts for High-Traffic Blogs
There is a great number of blogs which are almost online magazines, containing generally high-quality posts and are high-traffic with outstanding rankings in search engines.  These blogs may or may not pay contributors.  However, they will provide fantastic visibility for the author and can be used for the writer’s portfolio:

Writing Blogs

Freelancing Blogs

Business/Small Business Blogs

Freelancing Blogs

Blogging Theme Blogs

Travel Blogs

Book & Literature Blogs

Position yourself as an authority and well-known name in the literary and publishing industry.  Get lots of reader traffic backlinks to your own website and improve your Search Engine Rankings. Best of all: Have fun writing!
Excerpt from our upcoming book: How to Make More Money With Writing


How to Make Money With Online Teaching


In the last five blog articles writers could find lots of ideas how to use your writing craft outside of creating 300-page novels: writing short stories, writing for magazines, or selling foreign rights of their manuscripts.  But there are more possibilities to make money with your writing talent and knowledge you acquired in the past!  Creating and selling online courses is number one.


Teaching What You Know, Using Your Writing Talent
During the last several years I facilitated and taught in a lot of publishing and book marketing workshops.  It is a great pleasure to meet so many writers from aspiring to multi-book authors.  Working with participants on a personal level gives a lot of insight into their craft and creative thinking and often turns out in long friendships.  However, after some years the traveling to other provinces and states, and staying in hotels it got a bit weary.  I cut back on these engagements and turned to consulting via phone and Skype.

A friend, who offers web coding classes on Udemy encouraged me to bring my publishing and book marketing training online.  Right now I am preparing my content to offer it online.  I don’t need to travel anymore – no booking of students, classrooms, hotel accommodation and I don’t have to sit at my phone/computer at a certain time to have one-on-one consultations.  Once courses are prepared and video sessions are created, they can be offered online for the next couple of years.


Every Writer Can Teach Online Classes!
No matter if you write non-fiction or novels…  The topic of your course doesn’t even need to be about writing.  You might be an expert in crafts, cooking, accounting or real estate (many writers have a day job).  It all needs to be nicely written up in a teaching concept and voila: Your online class is almost prepared.  If you ever watched clumsy (to use a nice word) YouTube videos, and have tried a dozen of them until you finally found one that explained a great solution to your question, you know what I am talking about: preparing your course professionally is important.  And if it is in video form, the spoken word needs to be clear and slowly articulated, so that readers do not have to “rewind” several times to understand what you said.


Fiction and Non-Fiction
If you write non-fiction and use the topics of your books, you just need to split your chapters apart and set them up for an online course.  Fiction Writers can use their research of locations, characters, landscapes or events.  You have to do research for your novel anyway, why not use the material you gather and create several classes that you can offer – always mentioning your book.

Teach something of value for students –  which is “by chance” part of your research, such as travel tips to the location of your book’s plot, museums, festivals or public transportation that are mentioned in your book.

  • A writer of romance, situated in a Western ambiance, could for sample teach how to learn wrangling horses or how to find guest ranches.
  • As a writer of historical novels, you might create a history class, explaining the way of life in a certain period, recipes or interior decoration and art of the 19th-century world.
  • If you write crime thrillers, why not set a class that explains criminal investigation, weapons, psychological reasons behind crimes, details about the police work, and profiling.
  • Writers of business thrillers could offer an article what hedge funds are, how banks and mortgage companies are working, or portrait some business schemes which small investors should avoid.

As a writer you know how to write, just learn how to write online course content.  Book several courses in your field of interest and see how they are set up.  Reading reviews of courses offered will also bring insights of what to look out for.   Some of the classes are even free or start at $15.  Don’t forget to shoot or purchase several stunning photos to use in your course material!


Knowledge You Can Utilize
It’s no surprise online courses are the next big thing when it comes to working from home by making money online.  Lifelong learning is now going online! it might not be your book that brings you the revenue – it’s your knowledge that you can utilize.  Teach what you know or what you love on the largest online learning platforms.  The open learning movement has made the opportunity to teach students from all over the world from your home office.  You set up your course once, and earn from it for years – while sleeping, writing or traveling the world.


More Course Ideas:

  • How to Plan and Outline Novels
  • Free Resource Tools: Turn Speech To Text With Just One Click
  • CreateSpace Printing: Self-publishing Books on Amazon
  • Endless Nonfiction Book Ideas
  • How To Self-Publish a Book on Kindle
  • Story – The Key to Writing a Best-Selling Book
  • Blogging to Create an Author Platform
  • How to Set Up a Book Page on Facebook
  • How to Self-Edit Your Manuscript Before Sending it to an Editor


Find Your Audience First
Ankur Nagpal, the owner of Teachable says “the first step to a successful online course: find the audience!  No matter the idea you have for an online course in terms of subject matter, it’s not a good idea to spend a lot of time creating it only to discover that nobody wants to buy it.  Instead, you need to find out if there is a real audience that wants to learn the subject you want to teach.  Given the reach of the internet that’s no longer a difficult thing to do.”

In the overall lifespan of the internet, online courses are still relatively new.  All kinds of simple approaches to instruction can still make the grade: screen capture software – slide decks with voice over – standing at a whiteboard drawing doodles – all of these and more are very popular ways for instructors to create and disseminate the information they have to share.

Authors, who are just normal people, have made upwards of five figures in just a month while launching their courses. You might have read books or blog articles, written by Seth Godin, Marie Forleo, or Noah Kagan: they are selling courses at online platforms.

Teach at Teachable
They explain on their website:  Your skills and experiences are unique and valuable. Easily build a great course website, share your knowledge, and be rewarded for it.  Create engaging multimedia lectures.  Add video, image, text, audio, and PDF files.  Easily import content directly from Dropbox, Google Drive, or OneDrive.

Build a beautiful website.  You can work with your existing website or create new pages on Teachable, all with our intuitive drag-and-drop builder.  Your course website is fully responsive, so students can view your content from computers, tablets, and smartphones.

Easily draft, customize, and launch new course pages with a powerful page editor.  Use our domain or connect your own.  Every Teachable plan includes unlimited video and course content bandwidth.  Upload as many courses, videos, PDFs, etc. as you like. Modify the language used in any part of your site to support international audiences.


Promote Your Classes
Blog: Demonstrate authority in your field, provide insights, and share updates with your students using a built-in blog managed right from your school admin.

Leverage a wide variety of built-in marketing tools to grow your business, such as coupons and promotions, advanced pricing options, affiliate programs, and customizable sales pages, or use email newsletter services like MailChimp, AWeber, etc.

Every time a user purchases a course, course bundle, or subscription, we collect a transaction fee according to your pricing plan.  Higher-priced monthly plans have lower transaction fees.  If you are on our Free, Basic, Professional or High Volume plans and are using the Teachable payment gateway, we also charge a standard payment processing fee of 2.9% + $0.30 for paid courses.


Partner With Udemy
One of the well-known course platforms is Udemy, a global marketplace for learning and teaching online at over 45,000 courses, taught by expert instructors.  Udemy handles all customer service, payment processing, and hosting fees, all at no cost to you!  Shared Success: Keep 97% of the revenue when you promote your course (3% is kept for payment processing fee) or 50% when Udemy promotes it.

As a Udemy instructor, you receive the following benefits:

  • Hosting for your video, audio, and other course files
  • Technical support for your students
  • Refund and payment processing
  • A/B tested and optimized course landing pages
  • Access to your course on a mobile app
  • Well-designed and developed learning environment for your students
  • Course Announcements and Promotional Emails to communicate with your students

Read more:


More Platforms Where You Can Teach:

However, you don’t need necessarily a platform to sell your online courses. Just like with books you can offer them from your own website.  Using the professional plugin Zippy Courses.  If you want to create online courses seamlessly, you need software that both protects your content and integrates with your favorite email and payment providers.


Last But Not Least: Amazon
Not really an online course platform, but one can certainly earn money when uploading a professional set-up video course on AVD.  USA-TODAY wrote: “Amazon has taken on YouTube by offering another venue where anyone can post videos and get paid for it. But the e-tailer has made the process much more cumbersome than its main rival.

Amazon Video Direct allows creators to upload their own videos for “tens of millions” of members of Amazon’s Prime Video service to watch.  Creators on Amazon Video Direct can also get monthly revenue from posting videos there.  The problem is a process that may be OK for a staffed film studio but is much more difficult for amateurs, even the YouTube “pros.  Amazon has very specific photo requests: it needs files as “key art,” that need to be presented in 1200×1600 pixels and 1920×1080 pixels format.  If you don’t have Adobe Photoshop or another imaging program, you’ll need it.  You’ll need to add in info about the cast and crew, even if it’s just you talking to the camera.  Another rule is that you must have captions on the video.”

Amazon says it wants “professional produced videos,” with the idea that your video would join polished products in the Prime Video offering.   Content creators are paid $0.15 an hour for US viewers, or 55% of the sale price for a short-term rental.”  More about the standard royalty payments here.

Good marketing creates value even as it sells.  And it builds relationships; it builds authority and trust.  Doing that isn’t easy, and it takes time.  Mindset is more important than technical capabilities.  A lot of people are worried about mastering the technologies for creating an online education business.  But there is plenty of research to establish that this sort of “growth” mindset is a big predictor of success.
The first step is to create SOMETHING – a short course using basic authoring tools focusing on an area of knowledge you know something about.  Waiting until you’re the Expert of Experts and have a professional production studio and a team of Instructional Designers ready to help create your 12 hours masterclass is a great way to never get anything done.



Writing Short Stories – A Smart Decision



Why Writing Short Stories
Readers have shorter attention spans these days and consume the written word in radically different ways:  With smartphones, tablets, and netbooks, readers are more gravitating towards shorter pieces.  With all the distractions from other, flashier forms of entertainment it can be a struggle to set aside an hour or two and a find a quiet spot to read a book.  Short stories can be read in 20 minutes- while enjoying lunch break, riding the bus or standing in a queue.

Writing short stories before switching to lengthy novels seem to be natural. However, the craft of short fiction cannot help an author – this is an underlying prejudice held by others who see short stories as a minor league. Real authors write novels. Well, short stories are novels too –  or at least novelettes. Famous bestselling authors, such as Stephen King or Ray Bradbury are proofing it.
If you want to get a professional author platform and recognition by agents, publishers, and reviewers then placing stories in respected literary journals will help you tremendously.

Short Stories are Training for Your 300-page Novels
Short stories are great for writing practice. Several short stories can be a great exercise or preparation for your full-lengths novel. Short stories, related to your upcoming novel, can be published as a prequel to offer something to read until your next book launches. Prequels promote your future book through short stories. They can serve as a gateway to your novels.

Most Writing Contests Want Short Stories
Writing contests are a great way for both, beginners and seasoned authors to get noticed. A well-known writing prize contest can really make your portfolio stand out. For most authors, it’s scary to show their work to the world. But you have to bite the bullet, so you might as well do it for a cash prize!

Print collections of short stories are also a fantastic way for newer authors to break into the market, for example through the Chicken Soup series or the Best American Short Stories.  Find submission info at Duotrope and Writer’s Relief, or at the websites listed below.

Consider These Tips:

Kurt Vonnegut’s  short-story-writing advice to writers:
“For every rule (well, almost every rule) there is an exception. The greatest American short story writer of my generation was Flannery O’Connor,” writes Vonnegut. She broke practically every one of my rules but the first. Great writers tend to do that.”

“Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted. Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for. Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water. Each sentence must do one of two things–reveal character or advance the action. Give your readers as much information as possible – as soon as possible. To heck with suspense.”

What makes short stories different from novels is that there has to be one strong, obviously “main” topic to the short story, everything else needs to be only hinted. The most important part of short story writing is editing. No matter how good you think your story is, it can be shorter, tighter, more compelling. Learn to strip the fat relentlessly, hunt out and kill repetition of words, make every sentence sing. And look for repetition in words – when you have so few to work with, repeated words really stand out.

Benefits of Writing Short Stories:

  • Small, portable screens are changing the way we read. The iPhone has made people a lot more open to reading short stories. They can be read in one sitting and are downloadable.
  • Editors at small magazines often have connections in the publishing world.
  • The more titles you have in online bookstores, the more visible writers are.
  • Most writers can’t turn out more than two books a year, but they can write and publish short stories and novellas in between.
  • A prize, a short-listing or even honorable mention looks great in a query or bio.
  • Some of the biggest awards in literature are still for short fiction, sometimes offering a prize as high as $6,000 to $12,000.
  • Shorts keep readers interested while they’re waiting for your next novel.  Even a free very short story (2,000 words) in between is a great marketing tool. Consider writing several short stories about your main characters while you’re working on the novel and use them as prequels
  • Kindle Singles often sell for the same price as a novel-length e-book. Some large magazines still publish short fiction.
  • Most literary journals are available online, with larger readerships and you don’t have to subscribe to find out what the editors want.
  • Include the right keywords in your content, and people will find these short stories and articles in search engines.


Amazon’s Kindle Singles
Amazon’s Kindle Singles program—which publishes works of fiction or creative nonfiction of 5,000 (better 10,000) to 30,000 words—it sold more than 2 million short titles in 14 months. Today, it’s further promoting short fiction with a Short Reads section—where customers can choose stories from the Singles library by the length of time required to read them—and Day One magazine, which showcases short fiction from new authors.

A prominent author of these Kindle Singles is Stephen King, with his Single “Mile 81” a top seller. So, instead of submitting your work to reader forums or our blog, you can sell those articles to the internet giant Amazon website and receive 70% royalties, even for Singles priced under Dollar 2.99. To be precise for Singles priced between 99 cents and $4.99.

Other Criteria’s at Amazon are:

  • Original work, not previously published in other formats or publications
  • Self-contained work, not chapters excerpted from a longer work
  • Not published on any public website in its entirety
  • But they are currently not accepting how-to manuals, public domain works, reference books, travel guides, or children’s books!!!

Amazon’s Submission Policy
“A Kindle Single can be on any topic. So far we’ve posted fiction, essays, memoirs, reporting, personal narratives, and profiles, and we’re expanding our selection every week.  We’re looking for high-quality writing, fresh and original ideas, and well-executed stories in all genres and subjects. We will consider e-books recently published via Kindle Direct Publishing, manuscript submissions, or pitches.”

Where to submit short stories – other than as Kindle Singles?
Authors who are aiming to make a living from their short stories or supplement their income have to find markets at magazines, on Dueotrope or offer their books to Amazon for inclusion into “Kindle Shorts“.  Stories between 3,000 and 5,000 words are most marketable, however, there is demand for all lengths.

Most of the writing competitions take place every year. If the deadline for this year’s contest is expired, mark your calendar for next year’s contest. However, there are many more opportunities, such as top literary magazines, newspapers and hundreds of niche magazines where writers can submit fiction and non-fiction short pieces.  These pieces are often not only handsomely paid, but also given additional exposure to a large new audience. Never give your work away for free – except in particularly worthwhile places, such as a charity.

These links are just a few examples of several hundred more that readers of our next self-publishing guidebook can expect: How to Make (More) Money With Writing – launch in late March.

How to Navigate Writing Contests

Book Pile

Aside from the cash prize, winning a contest usually means publication in a magazine or newspaper – sometimes even a book publishing contract. Both yield readership, relationships with editors, and exposure.
You might also get that story published, even if it’s not a first place winner.  Contests are a great way to hone your craft and show the world how much better you are than other writers.  Winning a book award for your self-published fiction or nonfiction book is a great way to gain recognition and approval.

Writing contest prizes often are running from $1,000 to $10,000 cash, often paired with an invitation to the prize award presentation ceremony. Recently another prize was a free university MFA program “Creative Writing”. Often there are publishing offers or a free magazine subscription.  Here a s
hort excerpt from our upcoming book:
111 Tips on How to Make Money with Writing
Winning a book award for your self-published fiction or nonfiction book is a great way to gain recognition and approval.  You will not only see an increase in your book sales – provided you market it well.  You also can add the award sticker to your cover and mention the achievement on your back cover, in your books’ description, and in all your marketing and promotions – online or offline.

Examples of Writing Competitions
Two writing contests in the UK call for entries, due in September – one for short stories, one for novels – to attract British, or in the UK published writers.  One is for previously unpublished novels, the other for short stories of well-published authors, prizes range from £5,000 to £30,000.  It is the highest prize award every paid for a short story by the SUNDAY TIMES Short Story Award (up to 6,000 words).  The winner will receive the equivalent of ca. US $38,500.  However, most contest prizes are only around $1,000.
Deadline March 1:  Neutral free contest from New Welsh Review awards a top prize of  £1,000 = US $1,250, e-book publication, and other networking/promotional opportunities for previously unpublished, English-language prose written for an adult audience by authors age 18+.

For 2017, there are two categories: memoirs (5,000-30,000 words) and novellas (8,000-30,000 words).  Both categories are open to all residents of the UK and Ireland, plus those who have been educated in Wales for at least six months; the Novella Prize is also open to writers based in the US and Canada.

Works may be a single, long-form piece or a book divided or structured as the author sees fit.  No simultaneous submissions.  No limit to the number of entries submitted by one author, although only one work may win.  An author may enter both categories. Enter using sponsor’s online submissions portal.


Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing –
The winner receives a US$10,000 advance.

CBC Creative Nonfiction Competition – First Prize CAD6,000

American Library in Paris Visiting Fellowship. Is open to writers worldwide. Fellows receive a stipend of US$5,000 to assist with travel and housing costs.


The James Jones Fellowship Contest awards $10,000 to an American writer with a first fiction novel in progress in 2017. Two runners-up will each receive $1,000.

Chicago Tribune’s Nelson Algren Award
has been held annually since 1981. The award carries a first prize of US$3500 and has four finalist prizes ($1000 each) and five runners-up prizes ($500 each) and there is no entry fee. Stories can be up to 8000 words and must be previously unpublished. The Nelson Algren Award is only open within the United States and entries close on 31 January.

Iowa Review Awards
are open to short fiction of up to 25 pages (double-spaced), as well as poetry and nonfiction. First prize is $1500 and all entries will be considered for publication. The judge of the 2017 fiction category is Amelia Gray. Entries open on 1 January and close on 31 January.

Philosophy Through Fiction Short Story Competition
is open to speculative fiction (including but is not limited to science fiction, fantasy, horror, alternative history, or magical realism) that explores one or more philosophical ideas. These can be implicit; there is no restriction on which philosophical ideas you explore. First prize is US$500 and the winning story will be published.

Yearbook Short Story Competition
offers the winner a place on an Arvon residential writing course of your choice (valued at £1000) and publication on Stories must be under 2000 words and, unlike previous years, can be on any theme. Entrants can be from anywhere in the world and there is no entry fee.

Stella Kupferberg Memorial Short Story Prize
is awarded by Selected Shorts. The winning entry will receive US$1,000 and the work will be performed and recorded live at the Selected Shorts performance at Symphony Space and will be published on The winning writer will also earn free admission to a 10-week course with Gotham Writers Workshop.

There are literally hundreds of writing competitions every year.  Readers of our upcoming book: 111 Tips on How to Make Money with Writing will receive a complementary and comprehensive list of contests in english-speaking countries.

Fee or Free?
Authors can search and apply for a free competition, or one that requires an entry fee. You may wonder “why should I pay to enter a contest?”  Good question.

When a contest is from a reputable publisher such as Writer’s Digest, you can trust they won’t take your money and run.  You have a chance to receive the prize (cash, trip to a writer’s conference and publication of your writing) for your entry.  Even if you don’t win, the experience gives you the opportunity to hone your writing skills.

Where to Find More Writing Contests?

These websites let you know about upcoming writing competitions:


Writer Beware…
Before you click on “accept” when applying, or pay any money: carefully read the small print, and avoid giving your rights away for free.  There are hundreds of options that range from scams to high-level awards and great exposure.  Submission fees are from $10 to $250.  Some entries don’t require fees.  Enter any book award contest only after careful consideration and review of its reputation. Google the awards name.  You sometimes might be surprised what’s coming up.  Watch out for the “small print” examples, shown in these websites, before you apply or pay any fees:

SelfpublishingAdvice listed among others these “Guiding Principles for Writing Contests and Awards”:
“The event exists to recognize talent, not to enrich the organizers.  
Award ceremonies present a lucrative opportunity for unscrupulous organizers and vanity presses.  These companies extract millions of dollars from unwary authors every year through entry fees, merchandising, and ancillary services such as marketing and editing.  The most common method of separating authors from their money is a high entry fee (which they define as $50 and above) multiplied by a high number of categories (10 or more). This system is meant to encourage multiple entries and huge numbers of winners who can each be targeted for promotional products and add-on services.”

Watch out for these unethical rights grab.  Intellectual property is under attack from all fronts and we must be vigilant.  Read the fine print!

How Will You Market Your Award?
Having written or published an “Award Winning Book,” selected from a hundred or more competing titles by an experienced, professional team of judges gives your book the seal of excellence.

Winning the award is one thing, but marketing the fact that your book has been chosen among hundreds of others is equally important.  Have a plan how you can spread the word about your award-winning book, also outside of Social Media:

  • Add it to your email signature. 
  • Post a press release and write a blog post about it. 
  • Create a guest post about your experience, with valuable tips for other writers. 
  • Offer your work to book clubs, mentioning your award. 
  • Do as many book signings as possible, accompanied by a huge poster of your award. 

Most awards call for entries every year, so if the competition is closed for this year, mark your calendar for next years’ contest call.   Entering a writing contest means you will gain experience, and you will get feedback on your writing.  It boosts your self-confidence, which in turn encourages you to write more.  If you don’t win the first contest you enter: remember what Thomas A. Edison said “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

Good luck to all of you who participate in writing contests!


How to Get a FREE Writer Vacation?


There are endless opportunities to make money, using your writing talent – not only with books or short stories, magazine writing or leveraging your manuscript:  Dozens of fellowships or writer’s residencies or retreats are offering not only free accommodation but also a monthly honorarium.

Many authors crave one thing: a peaceful period of uninterrupted time, dedicated only to writing.  In other words, a room of one’s own, with maybe some meals thrown in and a bit pocket money. Or even just the room.  Such a thing exists, of course, in the form of a writers residency.
You know, these rent-free, beautiful places in tranquil surroundings, maybe in the Rockies of Wyoming, or on a wild part of shore in Maine, where you can stay for a month or more and write 24/7 without interruption, no real cooking chores and nagging children and grumpy husbands …sorry, or wives.

While some residencies charge money, many are free and located in idyllic, pastoral places. You might get a room in a mansion or in a cottage, a stipend, and most important, time to let your writing go smoothly and uninterrupted.  Take for example the artist-in-residence program at Denali National Park, which offers a cabin in the middle of the Alaskan peaceful wilderness. 

The Application Process
The good news: One proposal in three is typically funded! Late Winter and early spring are good times to apply for Writer Grants, which includes fellowships, workshops, residencies, travel expenses, sometimes even meals or small allowances … and not only in North America but worldwide.

Study the organization and successful grants, fellowships or residency applications. You can see the “language” they prefer and get an idea what type of projects were successful. Learn and understand the meanings of the vocabulary being used in grant guidelines. It’s important how well your written presentation answers their questions.

Show an interest in the Funders’ organization, call them for further information and find out the name of the person you should address the proposal if it is not stated specifically.

Create your proposal in a way for the funding organization to conclude it will fulfill their philanthropic mission. Offer a concise plan to fill a need or solve a problem.

Adhere strict to their guidelines, help them to evaluate your proposal easily. Your reader (decision maker) will evaluate your plan according to what you are proposing. And how your project can benefit others.

Many residencies ask you to present a work plan.  Usually, no more than a page or so is required.  What are residency coordinators looking for in a work plan – beyond the obvious?

The Work Plan, Résumé, and Letter of Recommendation
Why is a work plan required?  “We are most interested in people who have a clear vision of what they will do with the time, such as revise a manuscript in progress or finish a book of poems,” explains Bob Kealing, who oversees the Kerouac Project, one of the more unique residencies available: a three-month stay in the Orlando, Florida, cottage where Jack Kerouac wrote his novel Dharma Bums. The real purpose of a work plan might be to simply prove that you have one. Show that you’re planning to get some serious writing done.
Many residencies ask for a résumé, a word which makes some authors nervous. Many residencies don’t require letters of recommendation, but some do.  And their directors say they prefer recommendations that focus on a writer’s work ethic and creative spirit rather than the quality of work, and therefore it doesn’t matter who writes the letter as long as those points are addressed. In short, recommendations need to offer a window into who you are.


The Manuscript
Your writing is what matters most. The writing sample is the most important piece in the application. Coordinators look for quality and originality.  But what does it mean?  They don’t look for a specific aesthetic, but each has a rigorous and specific approach to evaluating manuscripts.  Applicants should send in what they believe to be their best work.  It does not need to be published. They may also send in more than one sample and include some work-in-progress.

Research the Organization and the Residency
Carefully research each residency that interests you and make sure you understand what each requires in terms of application materials and guidelines.  Visit their websites, study previous recipients and call or send an e-mail to clarify if necessary.  It also doesn’t hurt to translate an application into their language if you apply for a residency or fellowship in non-english-speaking countries.

Now the Most Important Question: How to Find Residencies?
Most residencies offer artists and writers at least once a year an application period. Should the deadline be over, just mark you calendar for the next year.  To multiply your chances, apply at several places.  Find dozens of writers fellowships and free residencies at these websites and articles:

Poets & Writers, has a great database, for example, if you choose >free>residency>50 results per page, you will receive this list.

A great resource for writers, not only for residencies but also for grants and contests is the Aerogramme Studio;

Two weeks in the south of France to edit a book of poetry. Three months in a mill building in Massachusetts to work on a film. A year in the mountains to sculpt. A semester in Taiwan to compose. With 100s of residency programs worldwide, the choice is up to you.

At you can search by upcoming deadlines, country, city, facilities/support, duration, setting, language, companions allowed, accommodation, wheelchair etc. The listing contains free and paid residencies, for funding possibilities they recommend a page for “cultural mobility”  On the Move.

More useful lists of free residencies can be found on these websites:

Writer’s Residencies in Canada
“The Canada Council Author Residencies program goes to universities and public libraries, with community-run residencies at writers’ houses receiving proportionally less funding. This difference in funding is reflected in the honoraria paid to writers in residence at various types of residency hosts. 

University-based writer-in-residence appointments are well paid (the author appointed to McMaster University receives a stipend of $20,000 for a four-month term). Public library–based writer-in-residence appointments are also well paid (the author appointed to the Vancouver Public Library in 2008 received a stipend of $16,000 for a four-month term).  Writers in residence at community-run residencies at writers’ houses are somewhat less well paid (the 2010 writer in residence at Historic Joy Kogawa House received an honorarium of $7,500 for a three-month appointment, plus furnished accommodation valued at $1,500 per month, for a total of $12,000 over three months)” informs a web page.

See in detail who get’s what in an article about the Canada Council Author Residencies Grant Awards by the Simon-Fraser-University, Vancouver, BC.

Short excerpt from our upcoming book: 111 Tips on How to Make Money with Writing.


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