Archives for May 2017

Your Daily Writing Pleasure

Chipping Away at Rocks…



Not all writers can spend a lot of time typing away at a keyboard each day.  In fact, many would-be writers say, with absolute sincerity: “I’m just itching to get to this novel I’ve had in me for a while, but I have absolutely no time.”

Well, I’d like to claim that there is no such thing as no time at all.  You don’t have to have a lot of time, but you need to set aside a daily portion of it, however small, to write.

Even if you have little available time for writing, consistency is absolutely essential for those who want a jab at writing and publishing professionally.  Consistent daily output adds up, even though each separate day might not feel very productive. It’s like chopping away at a great big rock with a hammer: you break off a tiny piece each time, and while for a long while it may seem as though you aren’t doing anything at all, eventually the rock will crumble.

What exactly do I mean?  It’s better to put in 1,000 words a day, every day than writing 5000 words in a single exhausting burst and then need a week’s worth recovery time.

If you outline carefully and know exactly what you want to write next, those 1,000 words can be written very quickly – in 30-45 minutes.  Most people can carve out 30 minutes of their day to do whatever…  I mean, most people do carve out a lot more than 30 minutes, without even being aware of it, to do stuff like hang out on social media or watch cat videos on YouTube.

When I began writing my most recent release, Wild Children, I was dealing with two little kids at home, pregnancy exhaustion, and an unstable housing situation.  Finding time to write really was like pulling teeth.  So I didn’t have 30 minutes available each day, but I took advantage of what I could get – 20, 15, 10 minutes – figuring that two paragraphs are better than nothing.
Your Daily Writing Habit:
At 1,000 words a day, 5 days a week, 20 days a month, it will add up to 20,000 words a month. It means you write the first draft of a 100,000-word novel in 5 months. It’s two solid books a year which, while not insanely productive, is a respectable output.

I know, I know – the first draft needs to be edited, it needs to be proofread, it needs to be sent out to stand in the throng of queries if you trad-pub; and if you self-pub, you need to format, obtain cover design, publish and market.

But still, those 1,000 words a day will get you in the right direction. So don’t be sorry you can’t put in 2K, 3K or whatever it is other people write daily.

I don’t know what challenges you might be facing in your life right now.  Maybe you have a day job, kids, elderly parents, other commitments.  Maybe you have a spouse who thinks their  hour-long browse of AliExpress is legit recreation, but your hour writing is shameful neglect of family duties.  Heck, I’ve had periods in my life (mostly during Mommy Boot Camp with newborns) when I was so desperate for some writing time that instead of taking a long shower every day, I took a shower every second day and wrote instead.  And I carved out epic novels.  It was a slow, frustrating haul but it happened – one word at a time.

Just do what you can, and do it consistently, and it will pay off!
Hannah Ross is the author of the dystopian novel Wild Children, and of several other books. She enjoys a quiet rural life with her husband and three children. Follow Hannah’s blog, Flight of Fantasy.



13 Tips to Promote Your Crowd Funding Campaign


The term “crowdfunding” means: You need a crowd to fund your idea.  And: supporters of your crowdfunding campaign are your (future) customers.  You also will get for FREE what industries have to pay for top $$$ when you are running a crowdfunding campaign: responses to your pledge proof the interest in your book or product.

First Steps in Promotion
Plan well ahead to get a great start. According to Kickstarter’s own data: the vast bulk of backers seem to happen at the very beginning and very end of a project.

Approaching family and friends might be your first step.
Checking your email contacts, Facebook and Twitter friends and Google+ or LinkedIn followers for those who might help to support your campaign is the next.  Customize your pledge!  You wouldn’t send the same note about supporting your crowdfunding project to a social media acquaintance or business associates as you would to a family member or a good friend.

Rich Brooks explains in an article: “You’ve heard the old saying, ‘you only get one chance to make a first impression.’   Well, it is even tougher on popular crowdfunding sites where there are 30 other projects simultaneously trying to make a first impression on the same page.  Moreover, do create compelling rewards!

Considering that only a small percentage – max. twenty percent of any fan base will actually donate, the more followers and fans you can assemble, the better your chances of success.  When identifying people who can help promote your campaign, think about all the folks who relate to your project.  You want to find groups that have the same goals as you do; they’ll be the most motivated to support your efforts.

Websites & Social Media to Promote Your Crowdfunding Campaign:

  1. Before you start your website und sign up for several social media sites: Get your Google+ site running, but not one, set up several sites for your crowdfunding campaign.  To be on Google+ with several accounts means to get every post directly on to Google’s search engines!
  2. After signing up for Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr etc. get as many followers as possible, and follow and re-tweet others as much as possible.  If you only have a personal Facebook, Twitter or Google+ page, start one for your campaign. Find real friends on these sites who are helping to promote your campaign (after you helped them promote their pledge or book or other agenda).
  3. The best site to promote your crowdfunding campaign is…your own website!  It is easy and often free to put together a simple website with a home page and a blog, using, or  Write and blog at least two times a week for a couple of months before and during your campaign.  And immediately post or tweet your article!
  4. Add your project to Kicktraq as soon as it goes live – by simply placing your Kickstarter web address into the search bar.  This site tracks Kickstarter campaigns, providing information on daily pledging and estimates on how likely a campaign is to reach its funding goal.  Campaigns that were added on their first day go into a special list that people can browse and the site has several other categories where your campaign can be found by visitors.
  5. Crowdfunding communities members on Google+ start at 180 members to more than 18,000 and have the same benefit as every post is immediately seen on Google’s search engines.  The group is also more active than others and you can pick up some great ideas on how to promote your crowdfunding campaign besides just posting your link and talking about the campaign.
  6. As with all social media groups, be sure to answer questions from other members and be social besides just posting links to your own campaign.
  7. Another benefit: Every post of others that you “plus”  on Google or repost their article will show up on the search engines – with a link to YOUR site!  Being very active on Google+ helps your campaign immensely.
    LinkedIn has a large and strong community of groups dedicated to crowdfunding.  Kickstarter, IndieGoGo and other crowdfunding groups on LinkedIn are also pretty engaged.
  8. Use tools such as HootSuite, Buffer, SocialOomph, SproutSocial, TweetDeck… to schedule automated posts to your social media accounts.  Many are free and allow you to post on multiple social media sites simultaneously – big time savers!
  9. While it is generally for selling stuff, Craigslist also can be a good resource to promote your crowdfunding campaign.  Post in the discussion forums or in one of the other categories.  If your crowdfunding campaign offers rewards, try posting as if a reward were a product for sale to get people to come to your page.
  10. Forums can be another great place to promote your crowdfunding campaign and are usually a little more active than social media groups.  There are a couple of crowdfunding-related forums and a few that are directly related to your campaign topic.
  11. The Google+ Crowdfundingforum has over 18,000 members and tens of thousands of posts with usually a couple of hundred members online at any given time.  You’ll find posts for general crowdfunding questions and project manager tips on different types of crowdfunding.
  12. Most of the posts on Kickstarter Forum are for rewards-based crowdfunding.  However, it is not affiliated with Kickstarter.
  13. Articles about campaigns and interviews with campaign owners can be found on the Crowd101 blog.  Talk with others about crowdfunding, something that interests the audience.  This blog is more a social media site – less to promote your own campaign. But you are much more likely to get your article read and shared. That means your short description of the campaign and link gets seen by more people!

You can see how important it is to start preparing your crowdfunding campaign as soon as possible – months before you actually begin to pledge at the crowdfunding site.
Find more tips:




Mystery Writers of America Welcome Indie Authors


If you are writing in your books about murder, robbery, white-collar crimes, drug- or people trafficking or financial fraud – then the Mystery Writers of America is the right organization to join!
Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, and other writer organizations, required in the past that authors be traditionally published, and even then, with approved publishers.  Since early 2017 even Mystery Writers of America opened their doors to indie authors.


This was never an issue in Canada: Crime Writers of Canada doesn’t even ask if their authors are self-publishers or if they contracted with a trade publisher.

Mystery Writers of America Announced:
“The MWA National Board of Directors is pleased to announce that starting January 1, 2017, self-published authors can apply for Active Membership Status.  You can qualify by fulfilling either of the following criteria:

You have been paid for your work by a print, e-book, print-on-demand, periodical or e-zine/webzine publisher that is on the MWA list of approved publishers and meets all of the criteria for inclusion.
You have been self-published and have earned a minimum of $5,000 in a single calendar year from approved mystery works (novels, novellas, short stories), or suitable non-fiction titles, i.e., true crime; biographies of mystery authors; critical works about mysteries, their creators, and characters; forensic works; or other non-fiction that is mystery or crime-related), either in print, electronically, or by way of an audio recording.  A “mystery work” is defined as a story where a crime is a central element.

This earning requirement is a one-time event, meaning there is no need to generate a specified income each year to maintain one’s level of membership. The proof of earnings shall be either a US tax return (with all information not pertaining to publishing activity redacted) or an IRS Form 1099. These new criteria became effective January 1, 2017. However, MWA has agreed to accept proof of earnings for any calendar year beginning with 2014.

If your work is a contribution to a periodical, you must provide a hard copy. For an e-zine/webzine, you must provide a hard copy and proof of its online/electronic availability, even if the work is no longer available. A work must be available for a minimum of thirty days to be considered published.
Not Eligible:
Works offered through predatory i.e. subsidy publishing companies shall not qualify.  A predatory publisher is a company who assigns your book an ISBN number that subsequently belongs to them, i.e., they become the publisher of record that entitles them to receive an additional royalty whenever a book sells.  They also set the book’s retail price.”

For those writers, trying to decide how to publish your mystery, you might decide tossing aside vanity presses because they are not respected, and here is a perfect of example of it being said loud and clear.  Publishing with a vanity press/subsidy press speaks of hobby writers.  If you don’t care to be a professional writer, fine.  But if you are serious, get real with your publishing.  Go traditional or choose self-publishing, but think twice before going with a subsidy/vanity press!
During the last couple of years, I wrote dozens of articles why it is literary and monetary suicide to contract with vanity/subsidy companies…
About Mystery Writers of America
It has acted as an archivist and historian for the American mystery. While housing a robust selection of mystery reference materials at its New York City headquarters in the Anthony Boucher Memorial Reference Library, much of the MWA’s archives are now housed in the Mugar Library of Boston University as part of the 20th Century Special Collection.

MWA provides scholarships for writers, sponsors MWA: Reads (their youth literacy program, formerly known as Kids Love A Mystery), and sponsors relevant conferences.

Benefits of MWA Membership for Indies:
It helps with networking, for one; plus, you can participate (submit) to one of the MWA anthology competitions; you can participate in a local chapter at no additional cost (more anthology/competition avenues, more networking); discounts for books, events, etc;
MWA Library Database has contact information for hundreds of libraries interested in programs featuring mystery writers as speakers which is now free for all members;
The MWA Loan Fund helps members in need of temporary financial assistance, either to pay their dues or to ease a personal problem.


Trying to Game the Bestseller Lists?

Remember my article years ago? The Dark Site of Bestseller Lists. Or did you read Karen Ballum’s story: How Much Would You Pay to Be a Bestselling Author?

Since then the methods may have changed a bit, and some new, creative, money-sucking players came up, but in principle, it is the same game: Bestseller Manipulation.
“New York Times, USA Today Bestseller status, it’s no big deal anymore, thanks to a handful of individuals who have figured out how to make a ton of cash and inflate sales numbers to shoot 20+ author box sets onto the lists.  Has anyone ever heard of the authors in these mega-sets?  Do they ever go on to sell any other books after “getting letters”?  Let’s get serious: When everybody is a bestselling author, the marketing benefits from such manipulations decline substantially in value.”  I found this story on the Passive Voice blog.
I just found one of these “offers” on my Twitter timeline: “Rip into killer fiction with this thrilling box set. 14 bestselling authors bring you 14 thriller novels! Launching May 2016. Pre-order now for just 99¢!” Never heard from these authors before…
“According to one box set organizer, Amazon assured her that everyone at Amazon is perfectly fine with her methods, and the way she tells it, Amazon’s in her pocket with this gig.  Amazon has no problem with authors gifting thousands of copies of books to readers who then use those gift book credits to purchase the box set, making it look like a legitimate sale.  We’re not talking about chump change here, either, folks.  The “buy-in” for these box sets is anywhere from $500 -$2000 per author.  At 20+ authors per sets, the organizer is collecting between $10,000 – $40,000 per set and self-reports eight sets have made the lists (out of dozens of sets managed).  Not counting the sets that did not make lists, eight box sets have raked in $80,000 – $320,000.”

“Even more disturbing, the same organizer says that she spoke with PayPal and PayPal is fine with her methods of asking authors to pay her thousands of dollars of business transactions via “friends & family” transfers – which PayPal does not report to the IRS as taxable income and are not covered by PayPal Buyer Protection, or even worse, Amazon Gift Cards so that customers can not get a refund via PayPal dispute, which has happened multiple times to the organizer.”
“Of course, any author who dares speak up, question the methods or ethics, or consults silly documents like the Amazon TOS and PayPal TOS is immediately bombarded with an internet tirade from the organizer.  Past customers of the organizer have been so bullied and harassed that they have had to change to pen names and start over.  Current customers of this organizer have money tied up with her, and since they know there is no way in hell they’ll get a refund, they sit in silence until they can get away without making waves.”
Let’s take a look at how this is happening:

  • Organizing multi-author box sets with the advertised goal of hitting USA Today & NYT Bestseller lists, for payment per author of $500 – $2000.  For the typical 20-author box set, the organizer is paid $10,000 to $40,000.
  • Threatening legal action when anyone questions the business methods used to get bestseller status; posting long rants on social media to encourage followers to wage internet war against anyone who displeases them.
  • Social media campaigns targeted against numerous authors in the industry who have spoken out about shady dealings/practices.
  • Using an online google spreadsheet sign up form for readers to sign up to receive thousands of gifted copies of new releases in order to manipulate Amazon sales rank and appear to have enough sales to make bestseller lists (USAT, NYT, etc).
  • The gifting of thousands of books is assigned to assistants and authors in the set so gifted books are not all coming from one KDP account, and therefore, no red flags go up on Amazon’s end.
  • Also, coordinates massive gifting of books on Apple and Nook.
    Gifts books to readers directly via vendors (Amazon, B&N, Kobo, iBooks) with the express intent to look like organic sales and manipulate sales rank
  • Paying box set authors to buy books; Pays authors to download on Nook, iBooks, Kobo, and Amazon offers $4 towards additional “advertising” for a box set they already paid her to participate in
  • Paying readers with a $5 incentive to PRE-ORDER books on Nook; $10 if the reader pre-orders the book on both Amazon and Nook.

There is More:

  • Advising clients who pay for their services that they should pay via PayPal’s “friends & family” option to avoid PayPal fees; claiming they are not receiving business funds, but that it is “charity” and they have some super exclusive relationship with PayPal who said it’s okay.
  • Refusing to refund authors for services not rendered; starting online hate campaigns against authors who question business practices or ask for refunds.
  • Asking readers to circumvent Amazon’s review policy so that street team member reviews will appear organic.

There’s a difference between creating buzz using free books (same way even traditional publishers do) – or gifting your way onto a bestseller list – also called “bestselling service” by the provider (for more details see pages 52, 53 and 54 at the website.

Due to the sudden influx of authors into the ranks of the bestseller lists, the meaning, impact, & prestige of titles such as the USA Today Bestseller and New York Times Bestseller holds very little weight anymore.  Most of the time, these organizers pile hundreds of unknown authors into box sets simply based on no qualifications other than their ability to pay for it.”

Read the whole article here:

On KindleBoard are in the meantime 54 pages of people’s opinions and experiences:,250491.0.html


Stay for Free in a National Park to Write

Would you like to stay longer than for a day visit in one of the greatest US National Parks, writing a short story or working on your next novel – certainly paired with free accommodation?


More than 50 National Parks feature Artist-in-Residence (AIR) programs. The National Parks Service’s Artist in Residence programs offer writers and other artists the opportunity to find inspiration in the great outdoors.
Be an Artist-in-Residence
Whether you prefer the peaks of the Rockies or the shores of Maine, there’s a national park AIR out there for you, and you can find the full listing of residencies on the National Park Service website.

A map shows the Residency programs across the National Park system. Each park in this directory has its own application process and timeline, so please visit the park’s website for further information.

There are programs for visual artists, writers, musicians, and other creative media. Programs vary, but residencies are typically 2 to 4 weeks in length and most include lodging. Often artists are invited to participate in park programs by sharing their art with the public.
Examples of Natl. Park Residency Programs:

The Shenandoah, Virginia, program offers artists a chance to live and work in this exceptional environment for a period of two weeks – one in June and the second in August.

Whiskeytown Natl. Recreation Area, in Northern California, offers professional artists (writers, composers, visual and performing artist) the opportunity to spend a couple of weeks exploring old growth forests, oak woodlands, majestic waterfalls and the forested slopes of Shasta Bally. a rustic two bedroom cabin tucked in the forest of Whiskeytown National Recreation Area to use as a studio and base camp. Residencies are scheduled through the spring, summer, and fall for stays from one to three weeks.

The Padre Island National Seashore, Texas, Artist-in-Residence program offers a glimpse into the beauty of Padre Island to selected artists for a period up to 3 months on a free camp site (RV or tent necessary, Candidates should be comfortable with dry camping). Over this time, artists will be surrounded by the natural world and allow it to inspire them and their work. Writers, painters, sculptors, composers, cinematographers and other visual and performing artists are encouraged to apply for this opportunity.

Big Cypress National Preserve’s Artist-In-Residence Program in Southern Florida primarily looks for residencies that last less than one month during our dry season (November through April). Each person has their own room and shares living room/dining room/kitchen and bathroom space.

The Dune Shacks of Peaked Hill Bars Historic District near Provincetown in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, is a 1900-acre National Register district significant for its association with the historic development of art and literature in America. One or two week stays in the dunes for journalists, nature, history, literature, fiction, poetry writers.

Find here a full listing of Natl. Parks with Artist-In-Residence Programs. 

Excerpt from our upcoming book: “111 Tips to Make Money with Writing”.

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